Category Archives: adventures

Out on the Lanai

blue hawaii on the lanaiIt’s been really perfect spring weather the past few days. We had a bad hot streak, but since the beginning of June, the weather has been mild, even chilly! blue hawaii on the lanai, kimberly and naotoLast Monday, after the gym and the garden, we enjoyed our annual anniversary Blue Hawaiis before dinner. It was just warm enough to feel like summer. first lanai dinner 2018We also had our first dinner on the lanai last week. (Naoto made this from Smitten Kitchen.) Last year I don’t feel like we enjoyed our balcony enough so I’m determined to get out there as much as possible this summer. We have a new furniture arrangement and have cleared off some other unnecessary things, so hopefully it will be more enticing.

I had the brilliant idea to plant our pots in rainbow order this summer. (You know how I love my ROY G BIV-ing!) It ended up being way more work than I bargained for…mostly finding the right kinds of plants to work with our sun situation…our balcony is pretty shady. But every summer I feel like I don’t have enough yellows and oranges out there, so this was a nice way to force myself to branch out. Of course, I love it, but I’m already deciding on color combinations for each pot for next summer!

Anyway, behold the rainbow…pink impatiens, container garden, lanai garden, balcony gardenmixed pot, pink flamingoes, garden gnomesred petuniasred geraniumorange petunias, orange geraniumyellow petunias, yellow marigoldsmixed greenslobeliapurple flowers, impatiens, story night petunias, fairy flowers starry night petunias, night sky petuniasThe “greens” are a bit of a mess right now because my wooden window box is falling apart and because I’m waiting for my climbers to grow. Hopefully it will fill out as summer rolls along. 

Do you have any favorite flower color combinations? I’m really into yellow and hot pink right now.

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Gyu-kaku

Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurantsNaoto and I celebrated our 12th anniversary last Saturday! We had plans to go to a new cocktail bar called Prairie School, but it unexpectedly closed for good the week before our anniversary. (It wasn’t even open a year!) I was super bummed. But then I read about Gyu-Kaku, a Japanese BBQ chain that came to Chicago a couple years ago. I knew Naoto would be into it–he remembers going in Japan–and I figured it would be something different and fun. It’s definitely not really a romantic place…it’s pretty bright and loud and open and you’re working together to cook your food, so if you’d rather have a more traditional special occasion with your partner, maybe this isn’t your place. That being said, a group dinner here would be a blast. (And of course it was perfect for us since we’re not really white tablecloth kind of people.) Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, lychee cocktail, Asahi beerWe started with an Asahi beer and a lychee martini while we pursued the menu for the best options for the two of us. You can order a la cart, or you can do different levels of prix fixe options. Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, Gyu-kaku saladWe opted for the “samurai” menu that included starters of miso soup, salad (pictured above,) spicy tuna volcanoes, and beef bibimbap. And for grilling, Kalbi beef, miso skirt steak, rib eye, garlic shrimp, chicken, and vegetables. Oh and mochi ice cream for dessert. It was plenty of food for both of us. Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, grilling meatsThe servers give pretty good instructions about placement and timing for the various meats. No one wants to eat raw chicken.  Naoto did most of the grilling, but I helped with the vegetables. Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, grilling meatsThere are three sauces to accent the food, sweet, sour, and spicy. The meats are marinated but the sauces are perfect little accents to balance the richness of the meal. Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, mochi ice creamOur dessert was green tea and strawberry mochi ice cream. A few bites of each was a perfect ending to our dinner.

Next time, I think we will probably order a la cart, mainly because there are different sides and meats we’d like to try in place of the prescribed choices with the prix fixe menus. They even have some summer specials that look really fresh and tasty. Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, cherry blossom cocktail, asahi beer Cheers to the next twelve.

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Plot 6 in 2018

plot 6, forest park community garden, raised bed gardening, square foot garden, community garden, #plot6I can’t believe I haven’t posted about the garden yet this spring! We are all planted in our little plot 6 and happily waiting for things to grow. As usual, I swore I would only plant tomatoes and I would not experiment at alllll this summer…and then we planted a bunch of tomatoes and some other things…but no vining plants this year. No sireee. plot 6, forest park community garden, raised bed gardening, square foot garden, community garden, #plot6I’m very excited to have a full-time partner in crime at the garden this year. Since Naoto isn’t working a million hours a week anymore, he has time to visit the garden with me. plot 6, forest park community garden, raised bed gardening, square foot garden, community garden, #plot6So far, we planted Juliet, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, and Black Krim tomatoes, rosemary, lavender, thyme, basil, and parsley, and lima beans and edamame. Our garlic is going strong from last fall’s planting, and in spite of the fact that I pulled it all last fall, the walking onions have returned. I need to at least thin them again. They are growing into my tomatoes. plot 6, forest park community garden, raised bed gardening, square foot garden, community garden, #plot6We still have kaiware (Japanese radish sprouts) that we’d like to plant, but that’s it! We already have a Juliet on one of our plants, so I’m hoping this year we aren’t plagued by white flies and that we have a crazy bumper crop again…Naoto is already planning tomato-centric menus for later this summer!

I can’t wait.

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RBG

Ahhhh..you guys! We went to see RBG, the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and it was so good! It focused a lot on her impact on equal rights before she became a judge. She argued six cases before the Supreme Court as a lawyer, all involving gender discrimination.

And her husband! Their love story is so beautiful…Marty supported her in her career from the moment they met. She said he was the first guy to acknowledge that she had a brain. He left a successful career in law to move with her to DC when she was nominated to a seat on the Court of Appeals by President Carter. And Marty lobbied for her to be considered for the Supreme Court. Bill Clinton said that within fifteen minutes of meeting Ruth, he knew he would nominate her. I teared up a bit when they showed the clip of Marty standing next to Ruth as she was sworn in.

Some of my favorite parts were the interviews with her talking seriously about the law, the part where she sees Kate McKinnon playing her on SNL, the part where she shows her array of fancy collars, and the clips of her badass workout. RBG movie outfit, crocheted doily Oh, and I wore a vintage crocheted doily in the collar of my shirt to get in costume for the movie…because I love a good theme.

Next up on my movie list is Won’t You Be My Neighbor? the documentary about Mister Rogers. I’m going to make everyone wear cardigans and sneakers.

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Write On Achieved

write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, spring cards, snow and graham, thank you notesIf it weren’t for the generosity of others and the need to write many thank you notes, I’m not sure I would have made it. But many thank you notes and almost everyone in my reply stack have been sent and I achieved thirty letters in thirty days…not that I wrote one per day or anything…write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, spring cards, cherry blossomsI feel like I’ve lost the art of letter writing. My pen pal from New Zealand was visiting last week and we had many conversations about mail and our hang-ups about it. write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, spring cards, cherry blossoms, Rifle Love StampHere are mine: I always feel like I have to write several pages, especially if my pen pal has written a lot. Then I get overwhelmed and I don’t write anything. write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, spring cards, cherry blossoms, Rifle Love Stamp, Migration GoodsOr I stress that the envelope needs to be really decorated and maybe I’m not feeling so crafty. So I don’t do anything.  write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, mōglea, la familia greenOr I feel like a postcard isn’t enough, especially if I owe someone a letter. So I don’t send anything. (Even though I have a really big collection of fun postcards.) write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, snow and grahamThe other thing we talked about is that we have enough stationery and office supplies that we will never be able to use all of it before we die. Pretty morbid, yes, but also how depressing if I am not the person who gets to use up my amazing selection of Japanese stationery! And mt washi tape! And pretty notebooks! And vintage postage stamps!write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, Migration GoodsSo…as always, I’m going to continue working on spending out. And I’m going to work on sending more postcards and small notes. So far this month, I’ve already sent a few postcards to friends so, maybe I’m on a roll!

How was your Write On experience?

P.S. If you have any questions about stationery, washi tape, stamps…let me know! I’ve sourced everything on Instagram (where all of these pictures originally appeared) but I’m happy to answer questions here too! 🙂

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Story Corps

Story Corps, Story Corps Chicago, Chicago Cultural Center

Last month, Naoto and I did a Story Corps interview! Do you know Story Corps? If you listen to NPR, you’ve probably heard some of the many Story Corps gems from everyday people all across the US. Their mission (according to their website) is “to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” They have a few booths throughout the States and also a booth that travels. There is one in the Chicago Cultural Center and my book club friend’s daughter, Lauren, just got a job there so we signed up to be part of her training. Story Corps, Story Corps Chicago, Chicago Cultural CenterSo on a rainy Thursday afternoon, we went to the Story Corp booth and chatted about Naoto’s experience coming to America, his eventual journey to Chicago, and how we met. (Forty-five minutes–the time they allot to each conversation–is a really long time to talk! Story Corps edits things down to the best parts for a short radio and podcast snippets.) The room is very small, and dark (as you can see from our picture,) and intimate. To chat, you sit across from your partner and you both have giant microphones to speak into. The Story Corp facilitator sits in with you to do the sound check and to help keep the conversation going if you get stuck. We got stuck quite a few times because Naoto didn’t remember a lot about his first days in America and I wasn’t prepared to ask more questions, so it was nice to have Lauren guide us back on track. I thought it would be weird having someone sit in with us, but it ended up being fine. We didn’t know Lauren before we met her in the booth, so maybe that helped?

We haven’t listened to our recording yet (it takes 3-8 weeks to get it back) but I’m sure it will be fun to listen to in the future. (We are not exciting or profound enough to make it on the podcast or the radio, I’m certain!)

Here’s a link to some of the most recent stories. This one was a particular tear jerker for me. And on the Podcast, there’s a great conversation with Officer Clemmons from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Do you have a favorite Story Corp story? I’ve been listening to the podcast, but often miss them on the radio, so I’d love to hear what I’ve missed.

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Forest Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade

forest park st patricks day parade, rainbow flag, pride flag, diversity, forest park diversity commissionLast weekend, Naoto and I walked in the Forest Park St. Patrick’s Day parade with our respective groups, the Diversity Commission for him and the Community Garden for me. forst park community garden, forest park st patricks day parade, community garden parade floatThe Diversity Commission had a banner and handed out stickers and the garden had our usual float and we handed out seeds. Anise hyssop was the seed of choice this year. People were really excited to get the seeds. Some people were a little too excited, like the drunk lady who grabbed my bucket and demanded seeds. Apparently all parade swag is good swag. forst park community garden, forest park st patricks day parade, community garden parade float, parade dog It was a really beautiful day. I’ve walked in the parade three times now and have been very lucky with the weather. Oh and I got to meet this sweet dog.

If you’re local, you can find the extra seeds we didn’t hand out at the Forest Park Public Library. Or you could come to the Seed Swap Sunday afternoon!

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Letter Month Was a Bust

gumby and pokey, mail reminder, letter monthSigh…I only sent fifteen pieces of mail in Letter Month. Sad, right? February was one of those months where it felt like I was constantly preparing for something and then failing to be fully prepared. I kept putting off writing to get other stuff done but then I’d waste time on my phone or “researching” ideas for things coming up in March and garden stuff for the summer. Dumb.

letter month mail, letter writing, mail, stampsBut I did manage to use up plenty of my Valentine stash and I didn’t buy anything new on clearance after the holiday! Though I did finally break down and buy this Martha Stewart stamp set that I’ve been wanting for years…no regrets. And I finally sent some overdue thank you notes and replied to all the mail from January. This month I’m working on replying to the stuff I received in February. I’m planning a little letter writing session tonight once I get all my laundry folded and put away. letter month mail, letter writing, mail, stampsAs usual, I’m glad I participated, even though I didn’t meet my goal, and I’m looking forward to Write On for National Letter Writing Month in April. (I’ve already ordered my kit!)

So, how did you do?

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Olympics Fever

olympics rings, olympics decorations, world flags, winter olympics, olympics party

My blogging and letter writing has fallen by the wayside thanks to the Olympics. No regrets though. These games are so much fun and the Adami-Hasegawa medal count competition is as close as it’s ever been (USA 12, Japan 10 as of this morning.)

I always throw a mini Olympics party, but this year the Olympics crept up on me and I didn’t have enough time to plan appropriately or come up with a theme cocktail. Party or no party I love decorating above our TV for the Olympics. Every year, I break out my flag banner and in 2016 I added an Olympic torch. (My guest room closet is pretty much the party prop room. I can’t save everything, but some things are small enough and took enough time to create that I figure they should be reused. If you ever need a sakura branch or some giant cacti, please give me a call.) This year I made some Olympic rings to hang. They’re a little small, but now that I’ve made them, I think I can probably work out a giant version for Tokyo 2020.

coffee brownies, patriotic browniesKaren came over for the Opening Ceremonies and we made a very simple menu: Korean beef tacos and Korean coffee brownies. (Disclaimer: these are probably not authentic foods.) Karen made the coffee brownies and I made these Korean beef tacos topped with this cabbage slaw and they were so good. 
Olympics decorations, Olympic rings decoration, Olympic torch decoration, Olympic flags
 Do you have a favorite Olympic event? I used to think mine was ice skating, but now I think it’s pretty much whatever is happening right now.

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Mavis Staples at the Library

Mavis Staples, Greg Kot, I'll Take You There, One Book One City, Chicago Public LibraryLast month, Naoto and I went to the Harold Washington Library to see an interview with musical legend Mavis Staples. Greg Kot, one of the hosts of our favorite NPR show, Sound Opinions, wrote a book detailing Mavis’s life and her musical and civil rights history. The book, I’ll Take You There, was the One Book, One Chicago choice for 2017.mavis staples, greg kot, one book, one chicago, I'll Take You There, Harold Washington LibraryI haven’t finished the book yet, but Sound Opinions devoted two episodes to Mavis this year (First episode, second episode) and she’s an incredible storyteller and has lead such a fascinating life. She has been singing professionally since 1950, starting out as a gospel singer with her family, The Staples Singers. Gradually, they branched into blues and pop. Even when Mavis was young, her voice was low and husky. She joked that people used to think she was a “fat old woman” until they saw her on stage, a young girl with a big voice.

Eventually, Mavis embarked on a solo career that’s been going strong since the 60s. Her father was close friends with Martin Luther King Junior and civil rights and social justice themes show up often in her music. When we saw her in concert last fall, she mentioned that she’s been fighting for social justice for sixty-eight years and she’s “not tired yet.” We’re big fans of 1960s protest music here at the Adami-Hasegawa house and Mavis has been a big part of that mix. Kimberly and Greg Kot, one book one chicago, mavis staples, I'll take you there, Harold Washington LibraryGreg Kot stayed after their discussion to sign books, so I had him sign mine. (We lamented the fact that Bob Dylan wouldn’t come on stage and sing with Mavis during their tour, which was a huge disappointment for all of us when we saw them.) I’m looking forward to getting back into the book once I finish my book club book this week. If you love music, history, and the Civil Rights Movement, you can’t go wrong with I’ll Take You There.

Here’s President Obama talking about Mavis at the Kennedy Honors reception in 2016. He gets the last word today.

 

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