Monthly Archives: June 2014

Our Blooming Balcony

kimberly ah balconyOur balcony is open for relaxing! And honestly, that’s all I’ve been doing lately because the weather has been gorgeous! I bought some throw pillows at Target for the couch and the chairs. They make it cozier than ever to read a book or take a nap outside.

I finally finished all of my planting and re-potting. Once the seeds grow, hopefully there will be more flowers and vines. kimberly ah balconyI have a tiny herb garden growing behind the couch. We have two kinds of mint, basil, thyme and lavender growing along with the only two annuals that made it through the polar vortex last winter. And, in a rebellious move that is probably breaking some sort of condo ordinance, I have several pots of seedlings situated outside of the railing for maximum sun and rain exposure. I’ve planted parsley, zinnias, lettuce and four types of vining flowers. (I may be in over my head with the amount of vining flowers I’ve planted…if the building falls down under the weight of morning glories, I take full responsibility.) kimberly ah balconyWhile I’ve planted a lot of seeds this year, I took a big shortcut with my hanging pots. I usually put together my own pots, but this year I put together two and bought four: the portulaca above, two ivy geraniums, and another fuchsia. I repotted my old geraniums with some new in one pot…I’m hoping it fills out a bit. Last year, I stuck with geraniums because I knew I could make them work. This year, I’m branching out so the pressure is on to keep everything alive! kimberly ah balconyThe fuchsia is bright pink with purple centers…I know I said I hate purple, but I really love this plant! kimberly ah balconyThis is my original fuchsia. I filled out the pot with a vinca vine that is really taking off. Fuchsias are sun/shade plants so I’m really hoping the north side of the balcony is just right for them. So far they seem to be doing well, growing tons of buds and blooms. kimberly ah balconyI wasn’t going to plant petunias this year because I tend to kill them by August, but I fell in love with these two varieties and decided to plop them together in one pot. The deep purple ones are Queen Bees and they are supposed to have yellow centers, though I haven’t seen any yellow yet. And the tiny peach ones are Mochaccinos. I love the tiny peach flowers. kimberly ah balconyI also bought a little wicker cube to contain all of my gardening supplies. It’s nice to have them out of sight and the top of the cube can act as a little side table during dinners outside. kimberly ah balconyOn the black table in between the “living” and “dining” areas, I have a hibiscus and my clover (the clover lives in the kitchen during the winter). Some of my seedlings will move over here eventually.

So that’s the balcony. It’s not perfect but it really does feel like an extension of the living room these days. I’m just hoping I can squeeze in every moment possible outside before the heat and humidity takes over!

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National Donut Day

Happy National Donut Day!
I hope you’ll forgive me for skipping out on sharing a garden update as promised this week. The weather has been so beautiful that I can’t tear myself away from the balcony. But I think I finally have everything planted and situated out there and I will have pictures of both the balcony garden and of plot #6 to share next week.
Now, if you need me, I’ll be out on the balcony writing letters.
P.S. The donut pictured above is from Stan’s Donuts. I had one for the first time last month and I’m hooked!

Scenes From Hasegawa Happy Hours-May Edition

hasegawa happy hourHasegawa Happy Hours are still happening, but I need to get back into making them happen in a big way. And documenting the happenings better…like when we have special guests, getting a good picture of all of us together. (Special guests, you’ve been warned.) Hopefully I can find a good groove this summer.

So in May, we hosted our special guest James. We had so much fun with him, even though I only have a picture of the meat and cheese and roasted grapes to prove it. We made the Pining for the Queen cocktail for James and it was a big hit. hasegawa happy hourI also finally shared my Barrel Aged Martinez with Naoto. I have to say it was really awesome and easy to have a ready-made cocktail on hand. No measuring needed. We also had roasted vegetables and frozen appetizers this night, so it just may have been the laziest HHH ever! hasegawa happy hourIn mid-May, Naoto brought home a new bourbon for me to try and I found a new favorite website. I found the recipe for a Fancy Free cocktail there and it was a hit. It’s similar to an Old Fashioned but the Luxardo replaces the sugar and the fruit.  The best part of the Fancy Free for me is that it is the cocktail version of those quick meals you can make from your pantry. All of the ingredients are bar staples (bourbon, Luxardo, Angostura bitters and orange bitters)…there is no need for citrus (unless you count the garnish) or herbs or making simple syrup. You can enjoy this one without going to the grocery store. hasegawa happy hourThe Fancy Frees were our first official HHH cocktails enjoyed on the balcony and our first enjoyed with our new cocktail napkins from Marissahasegawa happy hourAnd for our final May happy hour, I made Kentucky Monks, which had the most ingredients ever in a cocktail. It was really refreshing and light for a bourbon cocktail–a good one for summer afternoons.

Cheers to June and more cocktails, more evenings with friends and more Hasegawa Happy Hours!

For more Hasegawa Happy Hour posts, go here.


Summer Manifesto 2014

Kimberly & Naoto: gardeners Naoto and I wrote up our summer manifesto during our anniversary dinner. It looks a lot like last year’s manifesto. What can I say? We are creatures of habit around here.

This summer we will:

* tend to our garden and balcony garden

* create three new cocktails using herbs from our garden

* invite special guests to Hasegawa Happy Hour

* hang out on the balcony whenever possible

* rediscover Chicago

* try three new tomato recipes

* take more walks

* visit some new Farmers Markets

* wear sunscreen & sun hats

* enjoy live music…somewhere

And that’s our summer in a nutshell. What’s on your list this summer?

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Our 8th Anniversary

naoto in chicagoYesterday Naoto and I celebrated eight years together. We both had the day off, so the morning involved a whole lot of relaxing, gift exchanges and, of course, coffee.Naoto and his alarm clockIt was rainy, but we sat out on the balcony to eat breakfast and exchange gifts. According to the Anniversary Gifts by Year (which we have been following all along), the eighth anniversary gifts are pottery (traditional) and linens (modern). I got Naoto a fancy new alarm clock that will hopefully wake him up with light and bird tweets. Not a theme gift, but he is a serial snooze pusher and I’m hoping this alarm clock helps make mornings a little bit easier for all of us. Naoto and spoon rest from Circa CeramicsAnd, for the “pottery” theme, I bought him a cat spoon rest from Chicago’s Circa Ceramics. It will add the perfect amount of whimsey and usefulness to our kitchen counter. vintage table runnerNaoto got me a new juicer (the kind I used at North Shore’s cocktail class) and this amazing vintage table runner. It’s currently residing on our dining room table. I’m in love with it. lunch at Little Goat DinerOnce the rain stopped, we headed into the city for no real reason. On the way, we decided to go to Little Goat Diner for lunch. You can see our entirely healthy meal above…we had to push back our dinner reservations because we were so full. (Oh, and that’s a Ol’ Blue cocktail above: bourbon, blueberry jam, benedictine and lime…go get it before they change the menu!) pie at Little Goat DinerOh, and there was pie…because well, chocolate cookie crust with sea salt caramel and caramelized bananas…how could we not?Chicago Wrigley building It was a teeny bit warm, but it really was a perfect day in Chicago. We walked along Michigan Avenue and lingered along the river.

Before dinner, we headed to the garden to check out our plants. (More on that later this week.) dinner at golden steerWe had a late dinner at Golden Steer, our tradition since we moved to Forest Park in 2010. As usual it did not disappoint. For the first time in the history of our relationship, Naoto could not finish all of his steak and we both ended up bringing something home. During dinner, we wrote our 2014 Summer Manifesto–simple but spectacular. (I’ll share tomorrow!)

And with that, eight years are in the books…little goat diner photo booth


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wedding picturesHappy 8th Anniversary, Naoto!


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