Category Archives: celebrations

Bar Lariat

We celebrated Naoto’s birthday in Japan on January 5th. I found this local craft cocktail bar, Bar Lariat, in “our neighborhood” near our usual hotel and I insisted we try it. bar LariatFive years ago, we went to Mixology near Tokyo Station and we had a great time…all the time not knowing that this tiny gem of a bar was within walking distance of our hotel! There is no menu. You just let the bartender know what kind of drink you’re in the mood for and he creates something for you. I will admit that this kind of stressed me out. I didn’t want to drink something terrible…but it turns out, the bartender is a great listener and he hit it out of the ballpark all night! With our first cocktail, we were given this little amuse-bouche, cheese and a dried apricot. To start, Naoto ordered something like a Moscow Mule. And I requested something bright and gin based. The bartender muddled a ginko with gin and some other mixers and I was handed a refreshing, delicious cocktail. When Naoto told me a ginko would be part of my drink, I was scared. Have you ever smelled a ginko tree? It’s not good!  But the fruit was really delicious! Kind of sweet and orangey? For his second drink, Naoto had a vodka and kumquat. I finished the night with a yuzu cocktail. Everything about this drink, and especially the delicate chilled glass, was perfection. I felt so fancy drinking here! Naoto had a coffee liquor drink for dessert.  bar lariatWe definitely want to go back on our next visit. The bar only has ten seats and it’s dark and cozy inside. The owner, Masahiro-San, is an expert in his craft and he really creates a relaxing ambiance in his shop. Thanks to him, we ended Naoto’s birthday on a high note!

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Book Club Christmas Tea 2019

Last weekend was our annual book club Christmas tea and it was delightful, as usual. We had four kinds of sandwiches (egg salad, shrimp salad, roast beef with provolone, and cilantro chicken salad,) two kinds of scones (cranberry-orange and bacon cheddar,) Christmas cake, grape salad, and Christmas punch. I love a good tea sandwich so I ate way too many and also floated away from all the tea. Stasia brought corsages for everyone so it felt especially fancy. I think corsages are under-utilized and I’m going to demand one for every birthday from now on. We read PG Wodehouse which was enjoyable, but I read it all in a couple days so I was sort of Wodehoused out by the end. The writing is really charming though so hopefully I’ll be ready to tackle a short story here and there in the future. We always have party poppers with crowns, mustaches, and jokes. Reading the jokes and guessing the riddles is always my favorite part of the day. Three cheers for good book discussions in 2019!

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James & Presley’s Avocado Birthday Bash

This weekend we hosted a little joint birthday party for Presley and our friend James. They share a birthday week. I found an avocado dress on Amazon and avocados were “on trend” this summer at Paper Source, so we decided that was a perfect theme. Presley took to wearing the dress pretty well, but we didn’t leave it on her more than fifteen minutes, as I think dressing her up is cute but I also don’t believe in torture. Naoto made an avocado corn salad and Korean beef tacos. Karen made bruschetta and a key lime pie. I made yuzu sidecars. I borrowed the giant hanging avocado decorations from the Paper Source window and used a kit to make little avocado place cards.Naoto’s was my favorite…Presley’s too…Presley ate rotisserie chicken for her birthday meal since she’s not a fan of tacos and corn salad.She is, however, a fan of her new avocado catnip toy from James. I keep finding it in different places when I wake up in the morning.

It was a fun night. We haven’t really been hosting very much this year, and I kind of missed it. Maybe we’ll have a few more opportunities to have people over this fall.

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Happy Birthday, Presley!

I know I’ve already posted today, but it’s our annual celebration of all things Presley and I’d be sad if I didn’t document it here. We got Presley thirteen years ago today–you can read that story here–so it’s not technically her birthday but we still celebrate it that way. We’re making her a salmon fillet for dinner and cooking up a little laundry nap for the queen of the house. And we may be hosting a little joint birthday party for her and our pal James this weekend (fingers crossed!)

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Man on the Moon Party

On Saturday, we had a little Man on the Moon celebration for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. It was a small, last minute affair but I still wanted to set the Party mood with decorations and a theme menu.I made a cheeseball that I left naked so it sort of resembled the moon and I put a little astronaut on top. We had other cheese and crackers and Naoto made cashew chicken, jello, and Karen brought deviled eggs so it was a retro menu. Oreo came out with a “marshmallow moon” version that had space scenes on the cookies. Easy dessert!We served Moonwalk Cocktails, which is the actual drink Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin drank when they returned to Earth. They were refreshing and fun, kind of like a mimosa.

Moonwalk Cocktail

1 oz orange liqueur

1 oz grapefruit juice

3 drops rosewater

top with sparkling wine

Add orange liqueur, grapefruit juice, and rosewater to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into glass and top with sparkling wine. Toast to the moon. In the living room I made star garlands out of shimmery papers and vellum and I made a weird looking moon out of a giant piece of cardstock and glitter. (Truthfully, it needs more glitter.) We watched a moon landing documentary while also listening to NPR’s moon landing playlist. (I added some songs because what is a moon themed playlist without Cat Stevens’ Moonshadow and Pink Floyd’s Eclipse?)Before we were married, Naoto and I threw a moon conspiracy theory party where we all watched a conspiracy documentary about how the moon landing was faked. I think that was our first theme party! So, this was a nice re-visiting of the moon theme…without the wild theories… (Just to be clear, we watched the documentary for fun, not because any of us are conspiracy theorists. Though if you’re into that kind of thing, the documentary we watched is available on Prime! I found it when I was looking for other documentaries to watch this time. It’s called What Happened on the Moon? An Investigation into Apollo and it’s more than three hours long.)I am kicking myself for not taking any pictures once everyone came because I had a little moon and stars skirt on and Brooke wore a retro patriotic outfit and Jessica and Karen came in 1960s dresses, but…we were having a good time.

Did you celebrate the moon landing anniversary? I haven’t bought my moon landing postage stamps yet, but I have been using up some of my vintage space themed stamps.

 

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Hasegawa Tanabata 2019

Hasegawa Tanabata was a low-key affair this year. We didn’t invite any guests and I didn’t decorate (gasp!) but it was such an amazing summer night for enjoying a light meal on the lanai. And of course Naoto is my favorite “guest” anyway! We had a busy day at the community garden so it all kind of fell together at the last minute, thanks to some Tensuke Market sushi and some easy Japanese recipes. I thought Naoto was going to get a sushi tray, but he really held back at the sushi counter, only bringing home two rolls and six pieces of sushi. (For the record, this is barely enough sushi for HIM!) Thankfully we had other things on the menu…Japanese potato salad and ham & egg salad sandwiches. We were going to make somen, but we ended up feeling full with what we had and some Japanese snacks.I made yuzu cocktails and they were so good, I think we need to share the recipe. We bought this yuzu liqueur at Mitsuwa a few weeks ago and we really like it! It’s good on its own and with soda water and it worked really nicely in the yuzu cocktail, too. The rest of the night, we shared some sparkling wine.It was so unseasonably chilly, we both ended up in jackets but no regrets at all…it was perfect…maybe not blog post perfect, but perfect for us. 🙂

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Happy Fourth of July!

It’s Independence Day in the US and I’m off work, but Naoto isn’t. So, I’m celebrating by watching as much of Stranger Things Season 3 as possible while he’s gone. (Naoto doesn’t watch any television with me…it’s really his only flaw.) The weather is all up in the air in Chicagoland today, so we’re deciding between fireworks and live music later tonight.

Either way, Happy 4th to my fellow Americans, and happy Thursday to everyone else!

P.S. Here is some patriotic mail I sent out this week. I love a good postage stamp theme lately!

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Summer Tea at Peggy’s

Last week, Peggy hosted a few of us for a summer tea. It’s been so rainy in Chicagoland that we couldn’t sit in the garden, but we sat on her back porch and enjoyed the flowers and the sunshine and the rain from there. I didn’t take many pictures of the food, but we had rhubarb scones, ham and egg salad sandwiches, avocado salad, and strawberry eaton mess (pictured above.) Though, unlike Bon Appetite, Susan made her own meringues which were so delicious!Oh, and Susan brought us each a vintage pin. Mine is a groovy 1970s flower pin. Can you believe in all of my brooch collection, I don’t have a metal flower? It’s so much fun! It was a relaxing afternoon. I haven’t been doing many small group social things lately and this was a nice reminder about how relaxing it can be to sit among just a few people and catch up about what we’re reading, politics, local happenings, and just daily life.

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13th Anniversary

Naoto and I celebrated our 13th anniversary on Sunday. It was such a perfect weather day–60s and sunny. spent the morning on the balcony opening our gifts and drinking coffee and then we went to the West Loop for brunch. Three cheers for our gift wrapping this year! Naoto’s gift came in a huge box, so I had to use roll wrap for it. I was able to fold some tucks into the wrapping so I had a little pocket for the wooden card I gave him. And Naoto used this lovely gold and yellow handmade paper for my gifts. He’s come a long way in his wrapping skills. The thirteenth anniversary gifts are textile and lace. I gave Naoto a pillow made with Japanese sashiko fabric. I think he really liked it. And he gave me an Irish table runner and some Irish tea, Barry’s Black, (which Presley’s head is conveniently blocking above.) We went to Saint Lou’s Assembly for brunch. We got there just as the kitchen was closing, so we were able to squeeze in our order and then enjoy leisurely cocktails and peanut butter & jelly soft serve after our meal. The cocktails were amazing, and the atmosphere was very casual and fun. We are looking forward to going back for dinner and frosé outside once the weather warms up again. After brunch, we stopped in Open Books right across the street. (Naoto was very into this Edward Hopper book.)Since we ate such a late lunch and didn’t want to venture out again, we made a mini cheese platter for ourselves and had a little happy hour on the newly lit balcony instead of going out to dinner. We drank yuzu & soda cocktails and finished out the day wrapped in blankets. I’m so thankful for such a gorgeous day, and for thirteen years with this guy.

 

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The Darling

In March, Naoto took me to The Darling for Sunday night birthday cocktails. (I’m very behind on blogging!) It came highly recommended for the drinks and the experience. We had a fabulous time.

There’s very much a speakeasy vibe here. When you go in, it looks like you’re in a weird flower shop, until the host breaks open the wall so you can enter the bar area. There are cozy leather couches and lounge-seating, and that night, there was a fire crackling in the fireplace.

We started with a Buds of May (me) and a Paddington’s Marmalade Negroni (Naoto.) Both were really delicious, and mine was served at the table from a teapot and the presentation was everything. The next round, I got the Mary Poppins, which had strawberry-flavored boba bubbles in it that popped when you bit into them. It was a fun drink, a little on the sweeter side. Naoto got the Curious George because I was curious (for lack of a better word) about it with the chocolate and banana and whiskey, and we both really liked it.

Naoto was in an especially goofy mood and made me laugh the whole night. The video is a little hard to hear, but he’s channeling Bob Harris in Lost in Translation.
Our last round was something I can’t remember and a Secret Garden (the one with the pretty flower on top.) All of the cocktails were well-crafted and interesting. We did get a few small bites but nothing was super memorable or mind-blowing. The drinks and special touches around the place make The Darling and must-return for us, probably for before or after dinner drinks.The check is presented in an old book with two tiny glasses of Last Words. We’re planning on visiting the West Loop this weekend for our anniversary, so maybe we’ll pop in again before dinner…

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