Category Archives: Christmas

Middle Aged Woman in Front of Her Christmas Tree

Inspired by this online article about these fabulous middle-aged women in the 1950s and 60s, Naoto took a few pictures of me with our Christmas tree this year. I put on my new blue velvet dress and I poured myself a glass of prosecco for the picture. (This lady was my inspiration.)  I took a couple of shots of Naoto and Presley. I know her face says otherwise, but she really does like to wear her scarf. Naoto liked this one because Presley is sleeping above me on the books.

I really think this is going to become a tradition. I always try to get a good picture of our tree but I enjoyed being IN the picture, too. I love the fancy shots, but maybe next year, I’ll take a risqué shot in my pajamas like this lady! (Ok, probably not.)

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Stationery Christmas Gifts

snail mail christmas gifts, baum kuchen, greer, constellation co, office supply giftsNaoto hit it out of the ballpark for me this Christmas. He went with the always popular stationery theme. snail mail christmas gifts, greer, office supply giftsHe did a lot of shopping at Greer, THE best stationery store in Chicago. He found a couple of enamel pins, a travel eraser, and a tiny matchbook notebook. He also got a calendar, but I’ll talk about that in my annual calendar post. Japan post enamel pin, Japanese mail stampHe gave me a post box enamel pin (which I may have directed him toward.) And this very sweet Japan post rubber stamp of a girl mailing a letter. Niconeco Zakkaya is one of my favorite online places for Japanese stationery. They offer so many unique things from indie designers and small makers. He also gave me some letter socks from Constellation & Co. This makes my third pair of mail-themed socks so maybe a sock post is overdue. Baum-Kuchen, travelers notebook, superior laborAnd he gave me a cherry blossom stamp and a gorgeous Superior Labor pouch from Baum-Kuchen. Baum-Kuchen, travelers notebook, superior laborI’ve been trying to use my Travelers Notebook more for the past couple of years…there’s still work to be done to get into a good habit, but I’ve found that using nice things is a great incentive. I bought a matching pouch by Superior Labor when we were at the Traveler’s store in Japan, so I’m very excited to get everything set up for 2019. I’ll share more about Travelers and my notebook soon!

Now, I’m working on getting my desk organized so I can get back into the habit of making things again. A fresh desk for a fresh start in 2019…that’s the goal.

We are going to a New Year’s Eve party at our friends’ house tonight–same as last year. And tomorrow, hopefully I’ll have the energy to take down some Christmas decorations…I LOVE the lights during the season and I’m always sad to see them go, but I also love how fresh and bare our house looks with all of the extra stuff put away. But, even still…it’s one of the more depressing chores of the new year.

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

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2018 Holiday Cards

Christmas cards 2018, Kate Spade, Snow and Graham, Paper Source, PapyrusHappy Christmas Eve! We both worked today so we decided to stay in tonight, wrap up some last gifts, eat tamales, and watch the yule log on the Hallmark Channel. Naoto is currently napping in the chair.

I wanted to send my holiday cards out by December 10th and I MADE IT! It’s pretty much the only thing I accomplished in time this season.  Karen and I got together to write cards one night and then I worked through the alphabet over the next two days to get them done. Naoto even did a few this year which was a nice help. (He refused to participate in the envelope decorating though…)

We sent a few different cards out again this year (pictured at the top:) Cocktail Santa by Kate Spade, Season’s Greetings stamps by Snow & Graham, ’tis the season by Paper Source, and Sending Christmas Wishes and Candy Cane Bird, both by Papyrus. I filled out the list with some of the pretty letterpress birds leftover from last year.

I bought a bunch of Christmas washi tapes in Japan, so I used those to adorn the envelopes. Nothing fancy, just a strip on the bottom or up by the stamp.

Christmas cards, blue box, feed your mailbox, #feedyourmailbox, holiday greetingsI always try to shop for our cards after Christmas or during the Paper Source warehouse sale, but that often means having several designs to choose from. (Because it’s hard to find enough of the same design for our list of 50+ people.) It gets complicated keeping track year-to-year if I don’t use up a box. (I wouldn’t want to send the same card twice.) Next year, the plan is to get back into making our own…I should start now. #goals Christmas cards, blue box, feed your mailbox, #feedyourmailbox, holiday greetings, neighborhood mailboxEveryone always asks why I don’t sent my own Galaxie Safari cards out. Because the vintage stamps are sometimes hard to find and come in limited quantities, I’d rather save them to sell rather than sending them out. Plus, since I pay for the cards, envelopes, and stamps as a business expense, I’d have to “buy” them from myself and work out the taxes, which just seems silly at this point. And really, I just love shopping for stationery. I’m not sure I’ll be able to stop myself if I’m out and about during the holiday sales this week.

Did you get all of your cards out in time? We bought some New Years postcards in Japan so we’ll need to start on those soon! Nothing like ending the year with a lot of mail…just the way I like it!

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Christmas: A Cocktail Story…A Tradition

Christmas A Cocktail StoryFor the third year in a row, Naoto and I held the Galaxie Safari Christmas Party at ch Distillery. Every December for the past few years, the distillery changes their menu to an A Christmas Story theme. I’ve written about it before here and here.cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distillery cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distillery We enjoyed a couple of cocktails, a grilled cheese, and some potato wedges. cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distilleryNaoto celebrated his status as Employee of the Year for the second year in a row…cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distillery, eggnog, moose glass …and I still regret not ordering a second cup of eggnog…there’s still time to return before the season is over! naoto, kimberly and presleyOh, and Wednesday was the seventeenth anniversary of the night I met Naoto…isn’t that crazy?! (Here’s an old blog post about that.) We took a little family selfie to mark the moment…you can tell Presley was really happy to participate.

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KimberlyAH in Embroidery

KimberlyAH logo embroidery by KarenI can’t believe I’ve never shared this here!

Karen made this embroidered logo for me two Christmases ago. Isn’t is fabulous? It sits on top of my metal drawers that hold all of my card inventory and supplies, but I think I need to hang it on the wall above my desk. I’ve collected some new things to add to my wall, and this will fit right in. I’ve managed to collect another hoard of art that needs to be hung, so that’s a project for me this week in between work, chapters for book club, governor debate watch parties, and cleaning the bedroom. I have a plan, but I’m sure my indecisiveness will take over and delay things more. I just can’t seem to hammer a hole in the wall without a lot of hand-wringing. Anyone else have this problem? (And if you don’t, want to come over and help me hang some stuff up?)

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Christmas Dinner with Julia Child

Christmas tree 2017, Costco tree, colored lights. I didn’t get a good shot of the tree this year with the presents all around it, but here it is, dropping some needles due to dryness and Presley’s hourly visits to drink from the tree stand. (I know, I know…it’s not good for her but seriously, she’s been drinking tree water for all of her years…)winter sun cocktail, breakfast cocktailThis year, we didn’t make our Christmas voyage to Mitsuwa. I was tired of having to shower and get ready and battle weird weather and traffic on Christmas Day. So this year we stayed home in our pajamas and opened presents and made breakfast and a morning cocktail. We made the Winter Sun, and it is seriously the perfect breakfast cocktail. So citrusy and tart, perfect for a winter morning. Don’t skip the citrus sugared rim or the rosemary. Julia Child's beef bourguignon, Mastering the art of french cooking, Julia Child, beef stewThen we spent most of the afternoon and evening making Julia Child’s beef bourguignon. We wanted to try a new recipe and something kind of complicated, so we picked beef bourguignon. We watched the original episode of The French Chef where Julia makes the dish and we were enchanted with her easygoing personality and cooking flair. Her show really highlights the tips about browning the meat and sautéing the mushrooms. We felt like we learned more in that thirty minutes than we have in all our years of watching the Food Network! (We don’t really watch anymore, but we used to watch a lot in the early 2000s.)

The dish wasn’t hard. There were a lot of steps and some techniques that we’ve never tried before, but dinner was worth it!! There was so much flavor packed into this dish! And it fed us for three days. Naoto makes a really delicious beef stew, but the flavors here are totally different. We want to make it again this winter, and add more carrots and leave out the pearl onions just because they weren’t our favorite thing. (Don’t get me wrong, they’re good, but we prefer carrots and Julia only uses one which had us arm wrestling for the few bits in the dish.) We also served it over pappardelle on the second day and it was sooooo good. Naoto eating Christmas dinner, Julia Child's beef bourguignon

One thing I would recommend, and I’m feeling this way about almost all recipes lately: get the cookbook! Whether you buy it or borrow it from the library, cooking from cookbooks has been so much easier for me than constantly running to the computer or waking up my phone. (I know you can change your phone settings but, I don’t.) The beef bourguignon recipe is in three separate places in Mastering the Art of French Cooking and we were constantly clicking on different links and it just would have been better to have the cookbook.

I’d love to know some “complicated” dishes you’ve made that are worth the time and effort. Naoto is going to be around more in 2018 and our goal is to cook together more often.

Cheers to the last post of 2017 and hopefully more blogging in 2018!

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Under the Tree

Presley's christmas stocking, Elvis stocking, made by ThimblewinderSanta was good to us again this year! presley's gift, christmas 2017Presley got a fantastic new toy that is already MIA. It came in a little party popper, that doesn’t pop because that would be scary for cats. It was a cute package though, as you can tell by Presley’s happy face. naoto christmas, podcast, yeti micI gave Naoto a Yeti mic so he can start his podcast in the new year. We’ve been talking about it forever, so it’s time! I also gave him some “high-end” instant ramen that shall have its own post here soon. It’s really good. I also gave him some new t-shirts from Sumo Fish and some new food socks. North Shore Distillery, Eye of the Newt, Letherbee Gin, AutumnalIn addition to the Putz church, Naoto got me booze…shocking, I know. He found North Shore Distillery’s fall release, Ethel’s Eye of Newt Cordial. I’m looking forward to trying it…or saving it for next Halloween. And he added to my Letherbee collection with their Autumnal release. I have been buying Letherbee’s seasonal releases for a few years now and they’re always delicious and unusual. Mitsubishi Kohitsu Shosha pencil 10B, CW PencilsHe also bought me two Mitsubishi Kohitsu Shosha 10B pencils. The lead is the softest made and oh my, is it ever! I promised myself I’d practice hand lettering this year (instead of giving up after five minutes) and these are perfect for that. egg-a-go-go cat tea towelAnd I got an Egg-a-Go-Go tea towel with the cutest cat carrying a parcel. And I got a new cat screen print from Fancy Seeing You Here. (Thanks to Melissa for giving Naoto the hint about this!) I’m so excited to frame him up and expand my desk art!

I still want to tell you about our Christmas dinner adventures, so…be prepared for more Christmas posts into the new year.

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My Putz House Settlement

vintage Putz housesLast year, I told Naoto about vintage Putz houses, the tiny Mid-Century glittered paper houses. I’ve always wanted a Christmas village but the newer ones never struck my fancy the way these old beat up ones did. They’re almost impossible to find with the glitter still shining and it’s a rare gem that still has its vellum windows and doors in tact. (Mid-century children must have loved to punch those things out!)

He surprised me at Christmas with two Putz houses–BOTH with all of their vellum in pristine condition! The green one has sweet little details like the curtained window and green door and the red one is so glittery and also has a really special door. He also got me a cast iron Santa riding a sled. I was so excited to pull the village (more like settlement) out this year!    Putz houses, vintage paper houses, christmas villageThen, during the Forest Park Holiday Walk, Karen and I found this blue gem. The windows, as you can see, have been repaired, but its color and two-toned glitter roof really sold me. plastic nativity, christmas villageI also picked up this teeny plastic nativity for the village, because every town needs one. ceramic christmas tree ceramic christmas tree, after Every settlement also needs a town Christmas tree, so I painted one at Creativita. Have you noticed ceramic Christmas trees are making a comeback? I highly recommend painting your own! It was such a fun activity!   Putz houses, vintage paper houses, christmas village

The flocked deer are especially fond of the new tree. Putz houses, vintage paper houses, christmas villageI had to put the village on the sideboard this year because Presley has been napping on the wine cabinet lately. I like it better on the sideboard because the wine cabinet was too high to appreciate the village anyway. Putz houses, vintage paper houses, christmas village, putz churchThis year, Naoto added to my collection with a tiny Putz church!! And again, he struck gold with intact windows and doors!! It has some faded trees, but I love the little gate and the blue walkway! This one hardly has any glitter left so I may add some…but I hesitate to mess with its worn charm too much.

Here’s a little video of the complete village…

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A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery

A Cocktail Story at ch distilleryFor the second year in a row, Naoto and I went to CH Distillery in the West Loop for their Christmas pop-up, A Cocktail Story. I love a good theme party, so it’s right up my alley–all of the food and cocktails are based on the holiday classic, A Christmas StoryA Cocktail Story at ch distilleryI wish I’d taken pictures of the menu, because I can’t remember the witty names of our cocktails, but we started with bourbon (Naoto’s was a version of an Old Fashioned and mine was similar to a Manhattan) and moved onto tasty rosemary gin cocktails.  We ate classic snacks like deviled eggs, cheese balls, and fried rice (keeping with the movie’s Chinese Christmas dinner theme.) A Cocktail Story at ch distillery, eggnogFor me, the best part of the whole experience was Eddie’s Frozen Eggnog. (Eddie = Clark’s cousin in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.) It is so deliciously decadent. I’ve been thinking about it since I tried it last yearA Cocktail Story at ch distillery, eggnogCheers to the holidays once again!

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Holiday Cards 2017

holiday cards, 2017 christmas, hello lucky!, saturn press, brockton village

Hello from freezing Forest Park! I thought I’d share our 2017 holiday cards now that most of them have made their way to the destinations. I mailed most of them out mid-December with little fanfare. I didn’t decorate any envelopes this year. Sad, right? I did, however, finally use my very special J. Herbin anniversary ink.

The neon pink cards are from Hello Lucky. The cocktail cards are from Made in Brockton Village. The wintry birds are from Saturn Press, and as I’ve mentioned before, they don’t have a website which makes them the most charming stationery company ever in my book.

I’ve been such a bad letter writer this year, so naturally I’m going to put “be a better letter returner” on my new year’s resolution list. Hopefully this week I can respond to anything left in my stack so I can start 2018 with a clean slate.

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