Category Archives: celebrations

First-Day-Of-School Pencil Pack

pencil gift, first day of school, CW Pencil enterprises, folded chopstick holder, pencil paperKaren started a new job last week teaching a class at University of Illinois at Chicago. We wanted to give Professor Karen (I’m sure her students call her something more formal.) a little good luck gift to send her off on her first day.Frixion pens, Japanese pens, CW Pencils, editing pencil, highlighter pencil, combo pencil, pencilsLike me, Karen loves Frixion pens, so I pulled a .05 from the “Japanese vault” and added it with a couple of pencils from C.W. Pencils. The Editor looked like a perfect pencil for grading and planning. (Are papers still graded on…paper?) And the Graphite/Highlighter combo seemed perfect for planning and note taking.  I folded a little origami pencil holder for them out of my new favorite pencil paper. I’ll post a quick tutorial for the pencil holder next week. It’s so easy and they have so many uses! (They’re actually chopstick holders!)

P.S. Thinking of our friends (and family!) in Florida and the Carolinas this weekend as another hurricane heads for the US. The devastation on the islands in the Atlantic is just heartbreaking. And still thinking of our friends in Texas who are cleaning up after last month’s hurricane.

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Happy Birthday, P!

Presley, PAHIFC, Presley Adami HasegawaThis sweet face has been with us for eleven years! We’re celebrating with breakfast, a good brushing, and a long nap in the window.

P.S. Happy Labor Day to those in the US! Hope you’re able to have a relaxing day!

P.P.S. Presley’s story is here. Her 10th birthday celebration is here. Her Instagram is @pahifc.

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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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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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Letter Writers Alliance 10th Anniversary Party

cake, letter writers alliance 10th anniversary, paper pastries, LWAinLALast month Naoto surprised me with a trip to Los Angeles for the Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary party hosted by Margaret from Paper Pastries. Margaret and I have been pen pals for a few years now but we’d only met briefly at Ex Postal Facto. So I was really looking forward to seeing her again and meeting her sweet family. The trip exceeded my expectations. There wasn’t a ton of time for sight seeing (especially since my Friday was cut short thanks to flight delays, womp womp) but I loved the time I spent with Margaret and celebrating ten years of writing with the LWA.Los Angeles City Hall viewLos Angeles City Hall mailbox

On Friday afternoon, Margaret took me to the top of City Hall for a view of LA. Then we shopped around Little Tokyo. Chicago doesn’t have a Japanese neighborhood so it was such a treat to go to these little shops and restaurants. We haven’t planned our 2017 trip to Japan yet, so I’m feeling a little Japan withdrawal so it was great to immerse myself in the cuteness of Little Tokyo. I bought some stickers and a fuurin, which is a Japanese wind chime. (I’ve been wanting one for Tanabata next month. I’ll show you soon!)

Honeymee, Little Tokyo Los AngelesWe also had Honeymee which was amazing and is making me rethink my summer treats. It’s a special soft serve that comes topped with a real honeycomb. Seriously, what a combination! It was so good and worth the sticky hands that followed.

Poketo, LA, stationery and home goodsPoketo, LA, stationery and home goodsI also got to go to Poketo which has been on my list for some time. I only bought some greeting cards but I just love their style. ​

On Saturday morning I went to brunch with Margaret, her husband Tony, and their adorable daughter Ellis. (Sadly no pictures of this…)

Museum of Neon Art, Glendale, CAclayton plumbers at the MONA in Glendale, CA Pep Boys at Museum of Neon Art japanese katakana, neon, neon art, museum of neon art, monaThen I killed time at the Museum of Neon Arts in Glendale. It was the smallest museum ever, but it was packed with neon signs and modern art. I liked the old neon signs the best but I was smitten with the Japanese katakana in the last piece above. (It says “neon” and was made for an art installation in Japan in 1998.) donovan and kathy, letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, giant sprinkle cake, paper pastriesletter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, giant sprinkle cake

On Saturday afternoon, a few dozen people showed up at Paper Pastries for the official Letter Writers Alliance anniversary party and letter writing social.  letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, letter writing social, paper pastries, glendale, CA letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, letter writing social, paper pastries, glendale, CAI shopped, I wrote a few postcards, I chatted, I drank champagne punch, and I ate the most delicious cake ever–white cake with white frosting and COVERED in festive sprinkles. It was perfect. It was so amazing to see people come from far and wide to celebrate letter writing! The letter writing community is so diverse and friendly!

bubble martini Clifton's cabinet of curiosities After the party we all went out for dumplings and drinks which was the perfect ending for a day with pen pals who’ve become true friends.in-n-out burgerin-n-out burger

On Sunday my flight left pretty early so I just had time to finish some postcards and eat an In-and-Out burger, my first. (It was good…I didn’t get the fries because it was 10:30AM.) Burbank Airport, Bob Hope AirportWhew…it was a whirlwind trip. Now I’m home and looking forward to the NEXT LWA party, tomorrow night at Greer!

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The Godfather

antipasto platter, antipasto, italian meats, italian cheese, the godfather partyMaybe you know this about me…I haven’t seen many movies. In fact, most movies made in this century, I’ve only seen because I’ve been on plenty of long plane rides. When the Oscars come around, most years I haven’t seen any of the nominees. Recently, Ida (Best Foreign Film) is the only one I can remember seeing. the godfather So it should be unsurprising that I’ve never seen The Godfather. The movie turned forty-five this year and TCM brought it back to the big screen on Sunday (and today! Go if you can!) I knew it would be the perfect way to experience this classic for the first time.

I decided to make an event of it and host a Godfather feast after the movie. We drank chianti and enjoyed the fabulous antipasto platter pictured at the top, caprese salad, spaghetti and meatballs, and cannoli while we talked about the movie and how crazy good looking Al Pacino was in the 70s. Al Pacino, The Godfather(Especially in uniform.)

I’ve seen quite a few of the Fandango/TCM Big Screen Classics and they are well-done and not widely attended (at least around my neighborhood.) The TCM people do a little introduction and closing with some history of the movie, which is always fascinating and helps put the classic in context. I’m checking out the rest of this year’s line up to see what other parties we can plan–E.T. is coming and I haven’t seen that since the 80s so it will be like seeing it again for the first time!

Have you seen any good movies lately? (Old or new!)

 

P.S. As usual, not a sponsored post. And pics of The Godfather courtesy of the movie…not my own camera. 🙂

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11 Years

Naoto and Kimberly wedding dance, 06/02/06, 11th anniversaryToday is our 11th anniversary. I was looking through our wedding album to find another picture to share with you (I feel like I have shared so many over the years!) and this one made me smile. Our first dance was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole. Naoto made me laugh the whole time. Eleven years later, he’s still making me laugh.

xo.

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Cinco de Karen

Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusA few weeks ago, we threw a surprise fiesta-themed retirement party for our friend Karen. Her last day at her job was May 5th so we deemed it “Cinco de Karen.” We told her that Naoto and I were going to take her out to dinner, but instead, all of the guests were waiting for her in the lobby. (Because she lives across the hall from us, I thought it would be too risky for guests to come in, for fear she would leave her apartment for something and run into a random friend.) Karen was really surprised.  Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusThe apartment was decorated with papel picado everywhere. (Sadly, it was plastic and not the paper one I ordered…womp womp!) I bought a colorful table runner and added a few succulents to tin cans for the table. taco piñata Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus taco piñata Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus taco piñata Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusOur friend Jackie made a taco piñata which was AMAZING! Seriously…is it not the cutest taco you’ve ever seen? (Plus it was filled with grown-up candies!) Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusI made a taco garland (Naoto is holding a piece of it above.) but we hung it in the living room where it didn’t get much air time. I didn’t want to compete with the big taco!
Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusAnd I made giant cacti out of cardboard, tissue paper, and spray paint. Of course I waited until the last minute so the morning of the party, I was outside on the balcony spray painting in the wind. Thank goodness for giant boxes to catch the overspray. (Idea from here.) Now I’m addicted to oversized party decorations–think of the possibilities! Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusWe drank (too many) margaritas and ate chips and salsa and homemade guacamole, beef and chicken tacos, Mexican corn salad, fruit, and a Mexican chocolate mousse pie. Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusCinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusJackie made a little door in the piñata so we didn’t have to beat it up to break into it. Genius! Now the taco can live on! Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus, Pleasant Home Book Club ladiesIt was such a fun night and I’m so relieved we were able to pull off the surprise. Congratulations to Karen as she starts a new career chapter!

 

P.S. Picture of “surprised Karen” by Peggy. Pictures of taco by Jackie.

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Write On Party

Photo on 4-23-17 at 4.26 PM, Write On GuestsLast Sunday I had a few people over for a letter writing party. I ordered the Party Pack, which was kind of a party-in-a-box with pens, confetti, and Write On packs for everyone, along with other goodies like a printable invitation, a letter writing themed playlist, and a Write On calendar and tote. air mail envelope garland, Write On party set-up 4, National letter writing monthI hung some vintage air mail envelopes and a Japanese air mail kakejiku (hanging scroll) from the ceiling and I strung up a few more air mail envelopes to make a garland. Write On party set-up 1, National letter writing month Write On party set-up 1, National letter writing monthI covered the table in kraft paper and sprinkled the confetti along with some mail things from my collection. Each person got a Write On kit and a little brochure about letter writing. Write On party set-up 3, National letter writing monthOn the stereo, I had all of my mail themed rubber stamps and washi tapes along with some extra air mail envelopes, postcards, and my new Mr. Zip book. (He deserves his own blog post!) Write On Party, envelope pies, letter writing treatsFor snacks, I made a pot of tea and put out some Trader Joe’s truffles, some Japanese Happy Turn crackers, and I made these little envelope pies. I found the idea here–they were so easy and even though mine looked rather imperfect, they were a really fun addition to the simple menu. write On party guests, National letter writing month write On party guests, National letter writing monthIt was a relaxing afternoon of chatting and letter writing. We all really wrote letters! (I finished two!!) My only regret is that we didn’t have Naoto take a picture of us writing in action, but we got a fun group shot using Photo Booth (at the top.) I think I’ve said this before, but I love letter socials. Obviously letter writing is a good solitary activity, but sometimes it’s interesting to get together and share our hobby in person.

I’m a little sad Write On is over, but the letter writing shall continue! I managed (thanks to a solid push to the finish line last night) to finish 31 postcards and letters and I’ve replied to everyone from my pile of overdue mail…whew! I need to give myself a pep talk to keep that momentum going in May!

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