Category Archives: celebrations

Scenes From Valentine’s Day

flowers, Valentine, bouquet, hydrangea, lillies Isn’t this bouquet lovely? Naoto sent it to me for Valentine’s Day as a little surprise. I took this picture about ten minutes before Presley ate a chunk off of one of the lily leaves, sending me into a panic. (Lillies are insanely poisonous to cats.) I literally turned my back for one minute and she was on the table eating the WORST possible plant! I did a quick Google and found only dreadful news and called the vet. While I was on hold (I suspect other pet owners were in my same circumstance…) Presley threw up and the chunk of leaf was there, undigested. The vet said it was a good sign but even with those assurances, I spent the next three days monitoring Presley’s eating, drinking, and bathroom habits like a new mother. Presley restsWe had to move the flowers into the guest room when we weren’t home, just to be safe. They were too much of a temptation for the little devil. Curiosity killed the cat and all…Presley rests 2Other than that excitement, I started getting a cold on Valentine’s Day that has put me behind on everything I had planned for the end of the month. Next week is supposed to be a quiet one so I’m looking forward to catching up and getting back on track. Hopefully…

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

vintage valentine, typewriterHappy Valentine’s Day! I just mailed out round 1 of my Valentines today. I spent a few days last week at my parents’ house and forgot to work on them! I took the easy way out with a Paper Source kit, so hopefully I can finish the rest this week.

Do you have any Valentine plans? Naoto and I usually don’t celebrate, but I am cooking dinner tonight and trying my hand at chocolate mousse (from this Smitten Kitchen recipe) so I guess that’s kind of celebrating?

 

P.S. Up above is another vintage Valentine from my collection. I wish I looked that cute while I’m typing out my cards, but I’m usually standing at my desk and fighting off the cat while she tries to climb up my leg.

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National Voter Registration Day

1964 Register Vote postage stamp, vintage postage, voter registrationToday is National Voter Registration Day here in the U.S. If you haven’t registered or you’ve moved lately and need to update your registration, go to nationalvoterregistrationday.org and get registered! I think both sides would agree, we need all hands on deck this election!

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Presley Turns 10

Presley in a party hat, presley turns 10Labor Day marked our tenth year with Presley. Because it was a landmark year, we had a little party for her. (I know, I know…we’ve become one of those childless couples who throws parties for their pets.)family, presley turns 10 presley hug, presley turns 10 img_3509It was just a good reason to have Karen (the cat nanny) over for supper and to wear tiny party hats. Getting Presley to wear her tiny party hat was the best part of my week. She kept it on for all of three seconds, but I got a picture of it so I am thrilled. Her charmingly grumpy expression is just perfect. presley with wine toy, presley turns 10 Karen gave Presley some treats and some wine bottle cat toys. (So far, Presley prefers the Catbernet to the Muscat.) cake, presley hug, presley turns 10She enjoyed a special tuna dinner while we ate her cake. presley from 2006, presley turns 10Now I’m just looking for more excuses to wear tiny party hats.

P.S. Here’s the story of how we got Presley.

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Rio Olympics Party 

Olympics Party Rio 2016, viewing area decorations, flag bannerIt’s Olympics time again! Last Friday I hosted a few friends for an Opening Ceremonies viewing party. Just like in 2014 and in 2012, I made a few decorations to get into the Olympics spirit. I had my flag banner left over from last time. (Yes, I saved it. No regrets.) This time, I added some tissue poufs in Olympics colors and a little torch. tissue and paper olympic torch, Olympics decorationsI may have taken a few laps around the apartment with the torch before I sat it by the TV. (I got the idea here in case you want to make one of your own. I used super sticky tape instead of pins and it’s still holding quite nicely.)Olympic rings fruit platterKaren and I chopped up fruit to make up the easiest Olympic centerpiece ever. BrigadeirosI made sausage, beans, and rice and brigadeiros, little chocolatey truffles made with condensed milk.  (They are so easy to make! I highly recommend them as an easy treat while you watch swimming or gymnastics!) Olympics party food spread, Rio 2016Karen made Brazilian cheese bread and Jackie made little shrimp and mango tostadas and James made two kinds of guacamole. We had quite a feast! CaipirinhaAnd of course we had to drink caipirinhas, the National Drink of Brazil. They were delicious (topped off with a bit of sparkling water to dilute the booze just a little bit!)

I had so much fun getting the party ready and of course so much fun celebrating with friends. We tested each other’s geography skills and did our own commentary about the uniforms and cheered extra hard for the countries with small delegations. Go athletes!

 

 

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Hasegawa Tanabata 2016

Hasegawa Tanabata 2016, decorations dayLast month, we had a few friends over to celebrate Tanabata, a Japanese festival celebrated on July 7th. (We held our party the weekend after.) The celebration revolves around an old Chinese legend.

Orihime, daughter of Tentei (the Sky King,) had a lover, Hikoboshi, who lived on the other side of the Amanogawa (the Milky Way.) Orihime and Hikoboshi were both hardworking gods. She was a weaver and he was a cow herder. But once they got married, they became lazy which upset the Sky King so he separated them with the Amanogawa. Orihime was so devastated that her father promised her she could be reunited with Hikoboshi, but only on the seventh day of the seventh month and only if she and Hikoboshi worked very hard. But because the lovers were separated by the river, magpies had to build a bridge so they could meet. Tanabata is the celebration of the lovers crossing the Milky Way to meet each other again.

Tanabata festivals are held all over Japan, sometimes on July 7th and sometimes in August (for those keeping with an older calendar system.) Modern day festivals include fireworks and bright, colorful decorations. (I love these pictures! #decorationgoals) Festival-goers also write wishes on pretty paper strips and tie them to bamboo branches in hopes their wishes will come true. Hasegawa Tanabata 2016, decorations, origami prepI wasn’t planning to celebrate Tanabata, but once I read more about it, I couldn’t wait to have an excuse to invite a couple of friends over for a little mid-summer celebration. I did some research and found a few easy decorations to make. I spent a morning folding a few traditional Tanabata ornaments to hang on the lanai. Hasegawa Tanabata 2016, decorations, origami fan Hasegawa Tanabata 2016, decorations, origami bamboo leavesI folded fans and lanterns and made a trail of bamboo leaves (the green one…please excuse my imperfect folds!) and cut a little blue net (which is so simple but turns out so neat looking!)Hasegawa Tanabata 2016, decorations nightI also used this printable and cut strips so we could each write down our wishes. I tied the strips to my basil plant, the most bamboo-like plant on the lanai.
Hasegawa Tanabata 2016, somenI made a yuzu cocktail and Naoto made edamame and somenHasegawa Tanabata 2016, Naoto eating somen(Naoto was the only one who ate his noodles with a fork.) Hasegawa Tanabata 2016, decorations, origami prepAnd Presley even got into the action, tearing up one of the decorations and chasing it around the apartment all day. (How could I be mad with that sweet, innocent face looking up at me?)

I’m already thinking of Hasegawa Tanabata 2017. I have a Tanabata Pinterest board going so I can keep all of the origami instructions and ideas together until next year. I think I may need to start folding now, right?

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Write On for National Letter Writing Month

Mailbox pin, drawn by Marissa Falco, Thimblewinder on EtsyApril is National Card and Letter Writing Month!

Ok, I know I expressed a little bit of burn-out at the end of February’s Letter Month, but how can I not attempt another letter writing challenge for National Letter Writing Month? Just like last year, I’m attempting to write a letter or card every day in April as part of the Write On Challenge.

A few things:

  • I really want to use the challenge to use up some of my stash. (I say this every time but this time I mean it!) I have stationery sets from my past two trips to Japan that I’ve never opened…that’s just WRONG!
  • I’m not sure that I will document my daily mailings on Instagram this time. I like that posting daily keeps me on track with writing daily (and I love looking at everyone else’s posts!), but I also want this month to be about the letters and the connections and not necessarily about the mail art. Don’t get me wrong, I love making mail art…but sometimes I don’t feel so creative and that makes me feel bad about my mail. Mail should always be fun. (Well, unless it’s a sympathy card or something.) I guess I should say mail should always be about the connection. The other stuff is just a bonus.
  • I’m hoping to share a couple of mail-related books and maybe some more stationery items (both vintage and Japanese) this month.
  • I found this USPS packet for educators from 2015 that has some fun letter writing activities for kids. It kind of makes me wonder why the post office doesn’t make more of a big deal about Letter Writing Month.

Write on, friends!

P.S. The mailbox pin is made from an original drawing by Marissa Falco and can be found in her Etsy shop, Thimblewinder.

 

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Ginger Raspberry Bellini

Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, sparkling rosé ginger raspberry belliniWe really enjoyed the cocktail at Jackie’s tea. It was fresh, and ginger-y, and bubbly and the perfect color for a plaid celebration that happened to occur on Valentine’s weekend.

We found the recipe on Driscoll’s website and god only knows how they got theirs so perfectly red…but, our pale version was delicious enough that we hardly noticed. We used a bottle of Blason de Bourgogne Crémant de Rosé ($12 at your friendly Trader Joes) and it was really delicious, but if rosé isn’t your thing, I think the ginger and raspberry are powerful enough that you’ll get the same idea with any sparkling wine.

It’s so much easier to make the liqueur mix in batches, so I’ve adjusted the original recipe to serve 4.

Ginger Raspberry Bellini

(makes 4 cocktails)

4 oz ginger liqueur

2 oz lemon juice (freshly squeezed!)

2 oz simple syrup

16 fresh raspberries

bottle of sparkling rosé or sparkling wine of your choice

4 raspberries and 4 pieces of candied ginger for garnish

Add ginger liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and raspberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle the raspberries into the liquid. Add ice and shake until fully chilled. Strain mixture into each cocktail glass, about 2 oz per glass. (It’s ok to eyeball.) Top each glass with about 3 oz of sparkling rosé and garnish with a raspberry and candied ginger on a cocktail pick. Toast your friend going on an amazing adventure.

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Scottish Lighthouse Tea

Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the partyMy friend Jackie is off to spend a month in Shetland as the artist-in-residence at a lighthouse! She will be spending the month of March working on her art and living in the keeper’s flat. I am crazy excited for her adventure. Last weekend, Peggy, Karen, and I threw her a little going-away party, a Scottish Lighthouse Tea. Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the sideboard displayWe started planning the tea back in November and we went a little crazy with the plaid. Peggy has an amazing collection of plaid tablecloths, napkins, and runners that she brought over, along with loads of dishes, a Scottie dog, a lighthouse light, and many more additions to the table. Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the tableWe set the table with Peggy’s dishes and a collection of lighthouse statues from my mom’s house. I also made a little banner from twine and plaid triangles and strung it up with two gold garlands I’ve used for a few parties. (All three fell down during the party–womp, womp.) Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse tea, placecardKaren made lighthouse place cards and we added a little Scottie dog shortbread cookie for each setting. Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the place settings, vintage green depression glassWe tried to be really careful not to make the table look too Christmasy and I think we succeeded thanks to the addition of the blue plates and glasses and the black place mats. Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse tea, cocktail makingI mixed up a cocktail that was bubbly and tasty. (I’ll share the recipe later this week!) Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the toast, sparkling rosé ginger raspberry cocktailWe drank cocktails and ate a cucumber appetizer before we sat down for the tea. Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the foodWe enjoyed Waldorf Salad, bacon shortbread cookies, Meyer lemon & almond scones with clementine curd and Meyer lemon curd and Devonshire cream, and two types of tea sandwiches, ham with apricot cream cheese and chicken salad with grapes, thyme, and toasted almonds. (Thanks, Marissa, for the suggestion!) And of course, we drank tea! So much tea that we could have floated away. (We drank Barry’s, which has been my favorite lately.) Jackie's Scottish Lighthouse Tea, the cream puffsFor dessert, Karen made Scottish cream puffs, which were so delicious and really a perfect way to end our feast. It was so much fun and I love that I got to share the party with friends who appreciate all of the tiny details in the planning.

Cheers to Jackie! And if you’d like to follow along with her lighthouse adventures, she’ll be blogging about it here.

P.S. Thanks to Karen for sharing some pictures from the party!

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Book Club Christmas Tea 2015

book club christmas tea 2015One last thing about the holidays…

Last month, Peggy hosted our third annual Book Club Christmas Tea. As usual, it was a festive event with everyone contributing something tasty. I made this Japanese egg salad, which was delicious. (I take no credit…it’s just a good recipe!) I am not a fan of curry usually, but I really did love this egg salad.Book Club Christmas Tea 2015 3In addition to the egg salad, we had ham salad, cucumber sandwiches, and chicken salad served in little bread boats, lemon cranberry scones and English toffee scones served with lemon curd, cream and cranberry butter, grape salad, toffee pudding, plum cake, and Christmas cookies. (I think that’s everything!)Book Club Christmas Tea 2015 4, cranberry pepper shrub with proseccoI also made this shrub to serve with prosecco. I’d never made a shrub before, so I was a little bit worried, but it turned out really tasty. (Though next time I will crush the peppercorns a bit more because it was lacking the peppery bite.)Book Club Christmas Tea, placecards, Yellow Owl Workshop Placecard stampAnd, because I think every party needs a little paper element, I made these simple place cards out of some red cardstock, my Yellow Owl Workshop stamp embossed in white, and some Jolee’s holly stickersBook Club Christmas Tea 2015 2Peggy’s tables were delightfully decorated, as always. img_7308img_7304We read The Bird’s Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin. It was a perfect read for December when everyone is busy. (Last year, we attempted an Austen novel and hardly anyone finished.) Most of us finished it in one relaxing afternoon while sitting by our trees. And though it was only eighty pages and maybe more of a tale for children, we found so much to talk about, even comparing it to The Dead. I recommend it if you’re looking for a sweet tale to read this December.

So much work goes into planning this thing–especially by Peggy since she decorates, sets the tables, and cleans up after we all leave!–but it is so worth it. We are already talking about things to add for next Christmas!

(And with that, I think I may be done talking about the holidays…for now!)

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