Monthly Archives: January 2015

Pretty Seed Packets

Hudson Valley Seed Library, Amy Ross, Molly RauschMy pen pal Danielle sent me these fantastic seed packets for Christmas. They are from the Hudson Valley Seed Library as part of their special Art Packs series. Various artists’ works are used on the seed packet, making them perfect for gifts! (Danielle, you know me so well!) She sent Isis Candy Shop tomatoes, packet art done by Amy Ross.Hudson Valley Seed Library, Molly Rausch, Japanese stamp The other one, Tender Green Komatsuna, features a painting by Molly Rausch, famous for her postage stamp paintings. If you look closely, you can see that the base of the painting is a vintage Japanese postage stamp, and Molly, with her imagination and a teeny, tiny paintbrush, added the surroundings. You can see the entire painting here…isn’t it fantastic?

This gift blends all of my favorite things: mail, postage stamps and gardening! And, especially when windchills are hitting the -30°F mark, I’m really dreaming of gardening today.

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NYE 2015 at the Golden Steer

Golden Steer Steakhouse Forest Park, ILFor the third year in a row, we had New Year’s Eve dinner at the Golden Steer. Each year, the crowd has grown. Two years ago, it was just Naoto and me. Last year, we added Karen to the mix. This year, along with Karen, we added four more people–our friends Jackie, Jim, Brett and Stacy. Ending the year with good friends, good steaks (and French onion soup, tasty salads, baked potatoes and cracker baskets) and good cocktails was the best way to say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015. New Years Eve at Golden Steer(I really need to do an official post about Golden Steer–its old school charm has not been captured properly in these pictures.)

After the Steer, we came back to our place and had prosecco cocktails and snacks. Jim made this Martha Stewart smoked salmon spread…soooo good! I made Chex Mix and Karen made sweets, including her famous toffee and caramels.

So far, so good, 2015.

Let’s keep it that way.

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Happy Birthday, Naoto!

Happy Birthday NaotoHappy Birthday, Naoto! Thanks for being the best partner in crime a girl could ask for.


Another Christmas Tea

Bookclub holiday tea table settings 3 2014Another book club holiday tea is in the books (hehe) and we’re onto a new year. December book club always falls around winter solstice, so it was rather dark all day at Peggy’s, but hopefully you can appreciate the beauty of the rooms and the table settings in spite of my dark pictures. Bookclub holiday tea table settings 2014We split into two tables, each seen above, and as always the place settings were festive and lovely. Peggy should seriously give lessons on how to set a table because I always feel like mine lack the layering that hers have. She has such a great mix of dishes to play around with, too. Bookclub holiday tea cocktail 2014, ginger sage proseccoWe started the morning with a cocktail–ginger sage prosecco. We found the recipe here and I made the syrup, which is easy and delicious and amazingly useful in other cocktails too. It’s warm and wintry, perfect for this time of the year. Bruising the sage leaf before you float it on top of your cocktail is also highly recommended.

Our menu was very similar to last year’s menu. I made ham salad tea sandwiches again, and they were served alongside pimento tea sandwiches and classic cucumber tea sandwiches. We had two kinds of scones, cherry almond and coconut, served with Devonshire cream, Meyer lemon curd, lime curd and lilikoi curd. And we had Christmas cookies and lemon squares and lots and lots of hot tea. peggys house, bookclub holiday tea 1, snowglobesFor our book this month, we read Emma–our first dip into Jane Austen. Sadly, only a few finished the book (which is rare for us!) so the book discussion was not as long and as deep as usual. But lesson learned, choosing a lighter book in December may be the way to go. After the book discussion, we lingered on in Peggy’s comfortable home and chatted about our Christmas plans, families and other books. peggys house, bookclub holiday tea 2, snowmen on the sideboardI’m looking forward to another year of book club, and more reading in general. I didn’t read as much as I should have in 2014, so it’s time for a fresh start. For January we are reading Ethan Frome. Edith Wharton is a favorite of mine, so I’m looking forward to it. We don’t have any other titles planned for the year, which is a preferred way to go. Last year we planned an entire year ahead and a few of us felt stuck with some of the titles. It’s nice to plan a little at a time, and leave some openings for interesting titles that pop up in the newspaper or recommendations from friends. If you’re in a book club, I’d love to hear how you choose your titles.

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Merry Zinemas

donut socks, zines, letter writers alliance stamp, postcardsI think out of all of my gifts, I liked my stocking gifts the best. (Well, that’s hard to say…but they are awesome!) I mentioned here that I like to ask for zines for Christmas. My stocking was stuffed with zines, socks, postcards and a stamp. Here’s what I got:

Cats in My Neighborhood zine

Collage & Art Journal IDEAS zine

Parcel Ghost Super-Supernatural zine pack

(I’ll talk more about zines in an upcoming post, but until then, I highly recommend all of these zines!)

Donuts socks: These socks are so cozy! I gave Naoto the Beer ones a few years ago. The sock bottoms are lined with terry, giving a little extra cushion. I’ve been padding around the house in these for a few days now. I may never take them off.

Letter Writers Alliance Official Seal Stamp: I love all of my LWA stamps and I’m so excited to have one with my member number on it. I’m ready to send more mail in 2015!

Victory Garden postcards: I’m excited to NOT hoard these!

So that was my stocking. Santa Naoto did a great job, as usual. One more Christmas post…and then we can put the holidays behind us!

P.S. Though some of the makers (of the zines & stamp) are friends and acquaintances, this post wasn’t sponsored by anyone but me. 🙂

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The Christmas Gifts 2014

Instax photo printerI wish I could promise you this is the last Christmas post…almost!

For Christmas, Naoto surprised me with an Instax printer. If you don’t know, Instax are similar to Polaroids. You can buy an Instax camera, but I wanted the convenience of printing pictures from my phone so Naoto picked the printer for me. (As much fun as it sounds to have an Instax camera, I know I would never carry around an extra camera.) The printer links wirelessly with my iPhone and I can print tiny instant pictures wherever I want. The pictures are about the size of a credit card, perfect for memory keeping (ahem, scrapbooking) and mailing to friends. My first picture is of our Christmas Eve cocktails and I can’t wait to print some more. The printer is small, so it will be perfect to take on vacation so I can have some instant access to pictures of my food and drinks (heehee) to accent my travel journals. vintage table runnerNaoto also got me this vintage table runner. I am in love with the one from our anniversary, and I imagine this one will be great to use in the spring. It coordinates nicely with my vintage dishes in the china cabinet. He also got us another pair of Blackhawks tickets…this year we are going on January 16! I can’t wait! naoto chicago RayGun shirtI gave Naoto some practical gifts–snow boots and new jeans. (Un-pictured because snooooze!) I also gave him the shirt pictured above (which for the record, is less about the Chicago Bears than it is about Mike Ditka and the Superfans from the old SNL days. If you’d like to watch a Superfan clip, here it is…maybe it’s only funny if you’re from Illinois though?)resketch notebook I also got him a Resketch notebook and a ninja sticker for work. resketch notebook resketch notebook resketch notebookThe Resketch notebook is really neat–it’s made from recycled papers like building plans and Braille sheets. There are also a few creative prompts mixed throughout the book. Naoto takes notes at work, so I thought it might be a fun gift. (Also, Shawn, the seller, was really super and I like to support super people with super ideas.) I bought both the t-shirt and the notebook at Show of Hands this fall. Mehoi rice cooker keychainI found this rice cooker key chain at Renegade this summer. It’s from Mehoi, who has so many cute designs. I’m kind of regretting not getting him a pin instead because he’s already said the key chain is too nice to use.

I feel good about our gifts this year. Other than the snow boots, jeans and Instax, all of our gifts came from independent makers and sellers. Tomorrow I’ll share the stocking stuffers. Santa outdid himself with tiny treasures this year!


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Happy 2015!!

new years toast, vintage champagne flutes, 2015Happy New Year! I spent a bit of time yesterday reflecting on how much I failed at my intentions from 2014. Maybe I’ll talk about it on an upcoming blog post, but most likely, I’ll just look to the future. I can honestly say, after 2014…I welcome 2015 with open arms.

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