Category Archives: adventures

Petite Boutique 

Petite Boutique 2017, pleasant home, oak park, visit oak parkSorry for the radio silence around here. I’ve been typing and cutting and pasting new cards for Petite Boutique this weekend. If you’re in the area, stop by Pleasant Home in Oak Park tonight and tomorrow to shop handmade. It’s a really great show and I always love seeing friendly faces. Galaxie Safari, christmas card, vintage postage stamp, vintage typewriter, holiday greetings, greeting card

This is one of the new Christmas cards, inspired by the (wonderfully terrible!) Hallmark Christmas movies I’ve already started watching. I’ll share some more next week! Until then, have a great weekend!

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Phantom Flight Night™ 2017

Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineIt’s that time of the year again–Phantom wine time! Earlier this month we hosted our THIRD annual Phantom Flight Night™, our little wine tasting gathering where we compare notes on several years of releases of Phantom wine. This year, we tasted 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. (2014 is available now at Trader Joes and other wine shops!) Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineThis year, I packed most of our Halloween decorations in the dining room since that’s where the party was. I labeled the bottles so we could easily identify the year and poured each person two ounces. This was the biggest Phantom Flight Night™ yet, so I had to borrow some wine glasses from Karen so we’d have enough for everyone. Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineKaren brought her grandma’s wine glasses. As you can see, wine glasses (right side) were, uh, a little smaller back then. Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine, meat and cheese trayKaren made her fabulous homemade pimento cheese and we served meats and cheeses and minestrone soup. The “other Karen” made Lucky Charms treats which were amazing. Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineThis year, I printed some wine tasting wheels so we had some wine language to work with. I’m terrible at discerning different tastes in wine, so it’s nice to always have a guide and some Trader Joe friends who’ve had some wine tasting training. Even though I’m no sommelier, I still find comparing Phantoms interesting. The blend changes a little bit each year (for instance the 2014 blend is 42% Petite Sirah, 34% Zinfandel, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot) and the finished wine is vastly different. Overall, 2012 came through as a favorite.

Every year I love this party more. Mainly because it’s an intimate group of fellow wine lovers, but also because wine, snacks, friends…simple. It’s the perfect October tradition before the busy-ness of the holidays begins.

P.S. Here are the posts for Phantom Flight Nights™ of years past: 2016, 2015

 

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The Eclipse…

Kimberly and Naoto, eclipse 2017, Makanda, IL It’s hard to believe that our whirlwind eclipse trip was over a week ago. The day was hot, exhausting, emotional, stressful, worrying…but in the end, it was so worth it. I didn’t realize how much I needed a break from being at home stressing about politics and world events until Naoto and I were out on the open road driving to see one of the most beautiful sites in the sky.

I should explain that I was the only willing participant in this trip. Naoto was totally not into it. He didn’t want to take off work or make the very long drive. I had to talk him into it. I was prepared to go alone, but I convinced him that it would be a fun adventure. At the moment of full totality, he told me it was worth it.

On Sunday we drove down to my parents house in central Illinois in hopes that we could get a jump start on the Chicago drivers Monday morning. That part of the plan worked like a charm. We left at 3AM and made it down to southern Illinois around 8:30. We didn’t have a solid plan. I just wanted to be in the path of totality. I didn’t care if we were standing on the side of the road. I just wanted to be there.

cars parked to see the eclipse, 2017 path of totality, Makanda, ILBut we made it down to Makanda (rhymes with Miranda,) Illinois, which had been hyped in newspapers as the place to see the eclipse. They were doing the postmarks and had a little town celebration for the eclipse, so we decided to pay the $20 to park our car in a field along the side of the road. (The field is pictured above.)  There really wasn’t another option in Makanda. I had immediate second thoughts, but it ended up working out perfectly for us, so I’m so glad we stayed. Makanda, IL, path of totalityMakanda is a small town of 350ish people. They have a cute post office, a few shops, and…fields. I didn’t get a good picture of the shops, but they all had a hippie vibe to them. Actually, the whole town had a hippie vibe. A lot of the guys walking around reminded me of Willie Nelson. (This may explain the fact that someone came around offering people some marijuana before the eclipse!) Everyone was chill and welcoming. Makanda, IL Makanda, IL One of the shops had a backyard “sculpture garden” that was fun to walk through. We climbed stairs and walked through doorways all in the name of shade. Oh, have I not mentioned it was almost 100 degrees? Kimberly and Naoto, Makanda, IL, eclipse path of totality We packed water and snacks and forgot sunscreen. This is us in the garden around 10:30AM. We were still fresh then. By the time the eclipse started, we were melting. I spent part of the morning writing out postcards, but the heat was making me delirious, so I didn’t get as many done as I’d hoped. We went back to the car a couple of times to turn on the AC and get out of the sun, but we have an old car so I was worried about something overheating before the drive home. We had a little snack, but it was so hot, neither of us felt like eating much.  Makanda, IL, Path of totality, eclipse 2017Finally, it was time for the eclipse to begin! We got out of the car and got our glasses ready and made friends with our field neighbors. There were tons of people from Chicago! We parked next to a family from Naperville.  There were three single guys, one from Downers Grove, one from Pittsburgh!!!, and one from the Champaign area. And there was another couple from Arlington Heights. CW, the guy from Champaign, had the eclipse app so he helped us all stay on track with what to see during the whole experience. We were all stressed about the clouds, which kept blowing through and even covered the sun for a few moments as the moon was crossing over. But thankfully…it all worked out and we had clear skies after that. eclipse watching, path of totality, Makanda, ILeclipse watching, path of totality, Makanda, ILSo sweaty…by the time we reached 70% coverage, all of the men were shirtless. Except Naoto. (Remember, I forgot sunscreen.) eclipse 2017, path of totality, Makanda IL, light changes eclipse 2017, path of totality, Makanda IL, light changes 2It’s so hard to see in my pictures, but the two shots above show the light changing as we went into full totality. The top picture is at the start of the eclipse, and the bottom picture is a few minutes before totality. eclipse 2017, path of totality, Makanda IL, light changes eclipse 2017, path of totality, Makanda IL, light changesThe changes were really subtle at first, but as the moon covered the sun, the darkness became really sharp. Even the street lights came on by the time we reached totality. And, like a gift from the heavens, the temperature dropped!

The guy from Pittsburgh had a playlist and we listened to Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse” during totality. It was a party atmosphere as we all high fived and just said, “Can you believe this?” to one another as we looked at the sky. Kimberly, during totality, eclipse 2017Here I am, during totality. You guys…it was magic. I kind of rolled my eyes on the drive down when someone on NPR said a total eclipse was life-changing. But he was right. It was. I didn’t try to get a picture because I knew it would never compete with the real deal. I just tried to focus on soaking it all in. We all had our glasses off for the quick moment the moon completely moved over the sun. (Our eyes are okay, don’t worry!)  The corona was brilliant, blazing white, glowing behind the moon. It sparkled.  And the sky…it was a deep, dark blue, not black like you see in the pictures. The sky was darkest above, and there was some light left around the horizons. The sun and moon felt so close, right above us in the sky. We were able to see Venus and Jupiter, but not Mars and Mercury. It was the shortest two and a half minutes of my life. I know it’s a cheesy cliché but, I just wanted to bask in the moment forever. I know some of the most beautiful things in life are fleeting, but I just wanted to look a little bit longer. I’m so thankful I had the chance to see it, even if it’s just once in my lifetime.

We left soon after totality. Naoto had to work early on Tuesday morning and we were sort of exhausted and anxious for the long drive home. We headed back to my parents’ house (again so we didn’t have to fight traffic all the way back to Chicago.) The trip back to my parents was long and tedious. We hardly hit any traffic on the way down, but going back up was stop and go the whole way. Our GPS sent us on an “alternative path” to “save twenty minutes” but we ended up in these weird country road traffic jams because everyone else was getting the same routes! So basically every time there was a stop sign on a country road, there would be a long line of cars waiting to go through. It took us almost twice as long to make it back and we decided to stay the night and drive home in the morning.

By the time we got home Tuesday morning, we’d driven more than 800 miles in 1.5 days and I had a sunburn all over, even in places my shirt had covered! So Tuesday was all about napping and recovery for me. (Naoto was able to sleep in the car.) In spite of the driving exhaustion, we are both so grateful for the experience.

Heck, I’m already plotting 2024 when the eclipse will come to Makanda again!

P.S. Chicago’s own weatherman, Tom Skilling had such a great reaction to the eclipse…I feel ya, Tom!

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Postmark from the Path of Totality

solar eclipse, postmarks, Makanda, IL, path of totalityOn Monday, Naoto and I made the trip to the southern part of Illinois to be in the “Path of Totality” so we could see the full eclipse. It was incredible! I’ll have a post about the full day soon–I’m just trying to recover from driving over 800 miles and thinking about how fleeting it was…

But today, I’m sharing the special postmark from tiny Makanda, Illinois. This is where we watched the eclipse, alongside locals and hundreds of other people from Chicagoland. post office, Makanda, IL, path of totality, solar eclipse 2017The Makanda post office created a special postmark (seen in the top picture) to commemorate the day. They had a tent outside where they sold the special eclipse stamps and cancelled envelopes and postcards for everyone. There was always a huge line (our viewing spot was across the street so we could see the line ebb and flow throughout the day) and it was hilarious because a lot of people were not postal “nerds” so they didn’t understand how the whole thing worked.

“So, I can just buy one stamp and then they’ll cancel it?”

“How much is a stamp?”

“Can I mail it?”

“I have to bring my own postcard?”

Of course, when they learned it was only forty-nine cents, people were really excited to buy a few for their friends to commemorate the day. And when they saw how neat the eclipse postage stamp is, they were even more excited! It was fun to see the post office getting some well-deserved love. The two postal workers couldn’t have been more delightful, sitting out in the heat and patiently explaining everything to postal novices and then cancelling hundreds of postcards and envelopes for people. Oh and they were giving out Moon Pies! Hammerpress total solar eclipse postcards, solar eclipse 2017I ordered a few of these Total Solar Eclipse postcards from Hammerpress that I brought with me. And I sent some mail themed cards from my stash and these Tiny Post Office cards, which fit in nicely with Makanda. The Tiny Post Office and Hammerpress cards took the ink of the cancellation way better than some of my other, shinier cards, but the post ladies were great about setting them out to dry for a bit before stacking them up.

If you are interested in a special eclipse cancellation, the Letter Writers Alliance shared a list of participating post offices. I didn’t see Makanda on there, but according to this article, they will perform the cancellation for up to thirty days after the event. Send your addressed and stamped postcards or letters to:

Makanda Postmaster

709 Makanda Road

Makanda, IL 62958

 

I ran out of time to write postcards to everyone on my list, so I may still send a few their way. And I didn’t see any cheesy eclipse t-shirts I liked, so my cancelled postcard is the only souvenir I have. That’s enough for me.

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Gnome-Body Paints Like We Do

naoto and his gnome, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenLast weekend, Naoto and I went to a local Forest Park spot, Creativita, to paint garden gnomes with our Forest Park Community Garden friends. When I was little, I would often go to a little shop in my hometown to paint ceramics. I painted flocks of geese and ducks, spoon rests and teabag holders for my mom. I painted a cow for myself…I still have him on my dresser. So I knew I was excited to paint a garden gnome, but I didn’t think Naoto would be. To my surprise, on Saturday afternoon he told me he was really looking forward to painting. As you can tell from the picture above, he was verrrry serious about his gnome. He was also full of gnome puns. “I don’t gnome-ally do this, but it’s fun.” “Gnome one told me it would be this difficult.”

Our group sat at a table together and we all brought wine and snacks to share. It was so much fun choosing colors, deciding on designs, and laughing at our own painting skills (or -ahem- lack thereof.)
norm the gnome 1, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenNaoto painted “Norm the Gnome” and I painted “Norma the Gnome.” We decided to make them kind of coordinate so they could live in the big pot on our balcony together. norma the gnome 2, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenI went the traditional route, mostly because I love blue and red. I didn’t paint her face because I was afraid to screw it up with too much detail. norm the gnome 2, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenNaoto gave Norm a blueish green outfit and painted his eyes black. finished gnomes, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenWe went back yesterday to pick up our gnomes. I think they turned out pretty well! I just love Norm’s white beard! And I admit Norm’s black eyes look better than my faceless Norma. In spite of her lack of lips and eyelashes, I think they make a cute pair for our balcony garden.

There are tons of things to paint at Creativita and I’m looking forward to going back and painting again. They have a really cute cat dish that would be perfect for Presley. And maybe I can add to my mom’s ceramic collection. (Just kidding, Mom!)

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The Royal Society of Venturesome Parcels

Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailOnce in a blue moon, the Letter Writers Alliance will release a small subscription series called the Royal Society of Venturesome Parcels, or RSVP. It’s a four-week themed mailing of postal and vintage surprises. Most recently, the theme of the RSVP was Pigeon Fancier and I managed to get one of the subscriptions. There is so much mail love in the mailings…Donovan and Kathy really go all out curating the perfect items for each theme. And the design and the details–like the pigeon stamp and wax seal on the address label–just make it such a treat to find in your mailbox each week. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailLetter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe first mailing included a Pigeon Fancier membership card. Subscribers received an email asking us what our pigeon’s name should be. I chose Dorothy Zbornak of Golden Girls fame. And there was a bag of tea (that I haven’t tried yet) and a bag of delicious coffee, too.  Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailAnd! There was a pigeon espresso cup! (I believe it’s made by Circa Ceramics here in Chicago.) Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe second mailing was a sweet little box. This is what it looked like inside. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThere was a pigeon patch, two tiny pigeon rubber stamps, a pigeon washi tape, and a pigeon tape dispenser. (OK, it looks more like a dove, but you get the idea…)Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe third mailing was Dorothy’s papers. It arrived in a personalized kraft folder with some pigeon stamps. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailInside, there was a stack of vintage pigeon awards and diplomas that can be used in mail art (or added to my paper collection.) Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailAnd, Dorothy has her own personalized stationery…she will be penning a letter shortly. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe final mailing–surprise!–was Dorothy herself! Donovan’s calligraphy adorned a banner on the top of the box. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailEach pigeon was hand painted according to our specifications. (I requested a blue pigeon based on this information.) For now, Dorothy is living on my (messy desk) but I have plans to hang a shelf for some of my mail things and she’ll probably live there. Or maybe I’ll mail her someday…

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Stamp Out Hate 

Stamp Out Hate, resist, #resist, political postcards, Paper Pastries, sakura moonlight gel pens, letter writers allianceDonovan of the Letter Writers Alliance has taken letter writing to another level with her latest project, Stamp Out Hate. Stamp Out Hate is a “project devoted to spreading hope through the mail.” It encourages positivity and kindness by writing letters and postcards. Each month, there is an action item where Donovan shares the story and address of a person or an organization who could use some positive mail vibes. So far, it’s ranged from mosques and women’s groups to individuals who have received hate mail for speaking out. Stamp Out Hate, resist, #resist, political postcards, Paper Pastries, sakura moonlight gel pens, letter writers allianceDonovan has also been hosting mini letter socials for each action. This month I had a chance to go to one at the Read/Write Library in Chicago. There were pens, rubber stamps, stickers, a stack of postcards, and plenty postage. She had the addresses and stories ready to get us started writing. It took about fifteen minutes to write three postcards. It felt good to be a part of something positive. Sometimes writing elected officials brings out anger and stress. Writing people and organizations who are helping make the world a more welcoming place makes my heart a little bit lighter. (Not that I’ll stop writing my elected officials…it’s just not always fun.) If you’re interested, here’s the Action Items for July. Obviously you don’t have to meet Donovan to write a letter. You can write on any postcards or stationery you have at home, or print out some official Stamp Out Hate postcards or stationery. And there’s stickers, stamps, and postcards available to buy in the Letter Writers Alliance shop. But really, I think just writing is the key to Stamp Out Hate. The other stuff is icing on the cake. Spinning J's pie, raspberry lemonade pie, pie and coffeeSpeaking of cake…or pie…if you DO end up going to one of Donovan’s Stamp Out Hate Socials, they are often in her neighborhood which means you will be close to Spinning J’s Cafe & Bakery. I highly suggest you treat yourself to a slice of pie.

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Plot 6…Good Lord What Was I Thinking?

plot 6, forest park community garden, forest park grows, community gardeningThe kabocha has taken over the plot. I’ve tried to control the growth but it’s impossible. It’s taking over half of the plot now. Every time I go to the garden, I have to rescue a few tomatoes from it’s strangling tendrils. I’ve tried to bring the long arms back around to the south side of the plot and to weave them in and out of the fences I bought (too late in the growing season to be very effective.) Ooof. kabocha plant, plot 6, forest park community garden, forest park grows, community gardeningSo far, there are at least a dozen tiny kabocha and this one that’s grown really quickly at the base of the plant. Hopefully there will be a bumper kabocha crop this year…and a bumper tomato crop in spite of the encroachment. I have quite a few green tomatoes on the vines, but nothing red yet. And I’ve had to transplant my precious Juliet twice because of the kabocha. Every year we try a little experiment in the garden and this is the first time I’ve really felt like it’s not working. Sigh…it’ll all be okay. I hope. garlic harvest, plot 6, forest park community garden, forest park grows, community gardeningIn happier news, I’ve been harvesting basil, rosemary, parsley, and lavender like an herbalist. And I picked our garlic this week–aren’t the purple ones great? I’m looking forward to trying them and sharing a bulb with my dad.

That’s the Plot #6 update for this week…how’s your garden coming along?

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Stationery, Not Stationary 

greer chicago, stationeryI wanted to share a little round-up of the things I bought at Greer during the LWA anniversary toast. In LA, Margaret and I talked about our stationery collections/hoards and how we have enough for a lifetime of letter writing and how we try to impose buying moratoriums on ourselves…yet we still buy. It just means I need to write more letters more often.

I am running low on my Original Crown Mill stationery (a lovely grey cotton paper and envelope set) so I decided to replace it with some classic white cotton paper. And at the register I snagged a “Stationery not stationary” key tag. (I couldn’t find this exact one online but how great is the “Stationery maven” one?! I want that one now too!) Mnemosyne paper, Greer Chicago, grid paper, Japanese stationery Donovan and Kathy both suggested this Mnemosyne paper. It’s a top spiral notebook with perforated grid sheets of the smoothest paper I’ve ever felt. Of course it’s made in Japan. Like I mentioned earlier, the paper is great for fountain pens and other pens. (I mostly use gel pens and LePens in my letter writing.) And…pencils glide across this paper like butter…sigh. If you are my pen pal, you may be receiving a pencil written letter soon. I had Naoto translate the yellow introduction page for me and he basically summed it up in a rough translation as “Great for creative expression, tool for group discussion, easy to carry in a purse, and good for capturing inspirations while you are out and about.” I think that’s why Donovan likes it so much–she’s an on-the-go letter writer!cheree berry dear/PS stationery, greer chicagoAnd I fell in love with these flat cards from Cheree Berry. It’s a super-thick letterpressed card with a tiny extra card and envelope for a little P.S. message. Genius, right?

I am in the middle of a giant desk clean out. My living room is a mess of stacks of mail, stationery, greeting cards, pens, paper…all in the name of getting rid of some stuff and getting the desk organized better. No visitors please…but maybe I’ll share pictures next week…or next year when I get it all done. Oy.

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LWA 10th Anniversary Toast

Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary toast, Greer ChicagoRight after returning home from LA, the Letter Writers Alliance ladies hosted a 10th Anniversary toast at Greer in Chicago. White Oak Tavern, chicagoNaoto and I made a date of it and ate dinner in the neighborhood. We enjoyed incredible cocktails and a fantastic dinner at White Oak Tavern, a few blocks away from Greer. Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary toast, Greer ChicagoAt Greer, we toasted the LWA with sparking wine and milled around shopping and talking. Donovan shared all of her favorites from the shop and she and Kathy introduced us to a new-to-me paper that works with both fountain pens and other pens (which I’ll share in a future post.) Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary toast, Greer ChicagoIn addition to the local crowd, two of Donovan and Kathy’s faraway friends came to town for the party and one LWA member came from Champaign, Illinois (about 140 miles away!!) As you know, I always love a letter writing crowd. The people and the magical atmosphere of Greer made for a fine night.

Cheers to the next 10, LWA!

P.S. Thanks to Naoto for taking pictures!

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