Category Archives: Forest Park

The Circle Garden

We are continuing the tomato jungle tradition at the house… Everything was fine at first. I was even removing lower branches and leaves and suckers and keeping the plants tidy. But then we got a ton of rain all at once and, well, the tomatoes have minds of their own.

The previous owners built these raised beds along the side yard, which faces south. The picture above is from when we first moved in. I call the side yard the working part of the yard–it’s where the garden is, and we placed our composting bin there, and it’s where the air conditioning unit is. It might look like the area gets much sun, but all three beds get a full day’s worth, even with the fence. The old owners left us a huge garlic crop in the bed on the far right and potatoes in the bed to the far left, so we decided to work around them this season, and hopefully we can come up with a better plan for ourselves next spring.

We sort of focused on the middle plot for all of our usual crops. Our tomato plants are doing well with no signs of whiteflies or blight, which is so exciting since the past few years have been pretty sad for our tomato crops. Our basil and thyme and lima beans are thriving too. And we planted a strawberry plant that seems to doing well, and it’s producing many teeny, tiny fruits.

In the potato bed, we planted edible flowers, cucumbers, edamame, and a brussel sprout. Then tragedy struck. I lost two cucumbers and Naoto lost his entire edamame crop to the rabbits. It was heartbreaking! So, in that bed, we still have our potatoes sprawling around the edible flowers and the brussel. We added a tomato (which isn’t doing well because potatoes and tomatoes don’t grow well together) later in the season just to see what would happen.

The borage is booming with blooms and the nasturtium is looking good, but there are no flowers yet. I’m excited to use them both for cocktail garnishes.

Naoto ended up finding some edamame seedlings at our favorite local garden center and we planted them in a hanging basket and so far, they have remained safe from the bunnies!

In the garlic bed, there is tons of garlic, and plenty of nightmare mint spreading all over. In that bed, we planted some zinnias for cutting and some lettuces that are long done. I dug up a few garlic heads last weekend and I’ll probably dig up the rest soon so we can plant some late-season crops and take advantage of the extra room.

We have two of these arches in our basement (one on each side of an arched doorway) with built-in hooks, so that’s where the garlic is curing for now. I’m so excited to have some space in the basement to start seeds and prep for the gardening season. (Some day I will show you the basement, but not until we finish getting the rest of our boxes unpacked and put away!)

It’s book club weekend so I will be finishing Double Indemnity and enjoying the garden walk so I will see you next week!

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Dive Bar Letter Writers

I’ve been planning to start a little letter writing club that blends my two favorite hobbies, letter writing and cocktail making, since before the pandemic and…it’s finally time!

On Sunday, July 25th from 2-4PM, I’ll be hanging out in the beer garden at Goldyburgers in Forest Park with a cocktail and my letter writing supplies. Goldyburgers is at 7316 Circle Avenue, which is a short walk from the Harlem Green Line and Oak Park Metra Stations and there’s street parking available, too. As the name implies, they do serve burgers and other food–I highly recommend the cheese balls. Goldyburgers is CASH ONLY, so while it’s free to attend the club, please bring enough cash to cover your drinks, snacks, and tip.

I want to make the club a regular thing, hopefully monthly, but it might take some time to find a good groove, so bear with me as we get this thing started. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram (@divebarletterwriters) or sign up for occasional email updates here.

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It’s Been Awhile

Hello again! It’s been awhile! I can’t believe we are halfway through 2021! And a lot has happened since my last post on November 24th! The biggest news is–we bought a house! We closed out 2020 (literally, on December 31st) by putting an offer on a house we loved. We closed in February, sold our condo in March, and we moved in March. It was a whirlwind! Pictured above is what our back yard looked like when we closed in February with feet of snow on the ground. Thankfully, by the time we moved in, all of the snow had melted and there were signs on spring in the yard!

The month between closing and moving gave us time to have hardwood floors installed on our second floor (replacing the carpet) and to paint most of the first and second floor. It was nice to have a little cushion. We still want to remodel the kitchen and paint the bathrooms and basement, but all in good time!

And Presley has adjusted like a little champion. We were very nervous since she’s older and deaf, but she is loving sneaking upstairs when she’s had enough of us and having afternoon sun naps (something that wasn’t possible in our condo since we faced east.)

We are still settling in–hanging art is so stressful and figuring out how to use all of our extra storage space is more challenging than I anticipated!–but we’re finding our house groove. Naoto has really embraced mowing the lawn (with our reel lawn mower!) and we have three little garden plots along the side of the house to tend. It was sad giving up our Plot 6 at the community garden but we love just popping out the door to tend to our tomatoes.

That’s the news for today–I hope to come back Thursday and share a little more about the house or the garden. And, now we have a larger lanai (really, a back deck) for happy hours and gatherings which is a total dream come true.

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Madison Street Art Stroll

This weekend, I’ll be participating (from a distance!) in the Madison Street Art Stroll here in Forest Park. Because of Covid, Garage Galleries was canceled and the wonderful organizers decided to try this instead. Several local businesses opened their windows to artists who will be displaying their work over the next week. My work is in the window of Local Yoga at 7234 Madison, a yoga studio right down the block from us.

Saturday, Naoto and I will be walking along Madison (wearing our masks!) to see the art and to wave to some friends we haven’t seen all summer. It’s funny how “normal” it feels to make some plans, even though it won’t be normal.

I’ve been working on setting up an online shop for my cards, something that is long overdue… It’s been a slow project listing everything…it’s fun work though! And I’ve made some new cards that I’ll be sharing on Instagram (@adamihasegawa) over the weekend and all next week.

I’ll share my window set-up next week, too. It was fun to put some of my window display skills to work again…though my display is much simpler than some of the concoctions I had to hang at my old job!

I hope you have a good weekend! Take care!

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Plot 6 Mid-Season Report

Naoto and I went to the garden on Sunday to fix a broken hose splitter and to check on our tomatoes’ progress. We had a good rain right before we went so it made pulling weeds easy and the temperatures cooled down a lot, which was a nice break from the heat we had been having.

On the north end of our plot, the Bells of Ireland are taking over! I can’t believe how out of control it’s gotten! It’s kind of crowding out the chamomile, but I’m all about the strongest surviving this summer in the garden.

Naoto’s edamame is coming along nicely…there are tons of little pods that need a little bit more time before they are ready to be picked.

On the south side of the plot, our herbs are flourishing and yes, we need to cut some parsley and rosemary. The tomatoes are all a jungle in the middle of the plot (one of these days I will plan this better!) I can’t find any white flies on our tomato plants this year (hurray!) but our tomatoes so far aren’t looking great. We picked four, but they definitely aren’t picturesque. We’ll have to wait and taste them to see…

In other news, NOW is the time to plant some radishes or some kale or something to fill in that bare hole of wasted dirt. I’ll report back soon with what we decide to plant from our seed tin.

Our basil is still going strong…we’ve had quite a few harvests from it so far this summer…just waiting on the tomatoes to catch up…

I told him to smile three times before he yelled, “I am smiling!” #maskproblems

How’s your garden growing?

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Plot 6 in 2020

plot 6, forest park community garden, forest park, community gardenI am a little scared to talk about Plot 6 today because we’ve had torrential rains this weekend and there’s a ton of flooding around town…I can only imagine what our plot looks like right now. Certainly any seeds we planted on Friday have not stayed in their tidy rows! This is the “before” picture. We were surprised to find that we didn’t have many weeds creeping in. Other plots, as you can see in the background, are COVERED…ugh. We pulled weeds and then topped off our plot with some fresh compost before we planted. So far we have:

  • rosemary
  • lavender
  • Black Krim tomato
  • 2 Brandywines
  • Mortgage Lifter tomato

And we planted seeds for:

  • parsley
  • chives
  • mizuna (Japanese mustard greens)
  • onions
  • nasturtium
  • zinnias

We still need to plant:

  • edamame
  • basil
  • another tomato (I said four was plenty but I lied…)

I thought I had some back-up edamame and basil seeds but it looks like we need to go shopping for some which is easier said than done right now. I wish I’d ordered some seeds online before this whole thing started. Sigh. So many lessons learned for the next pandemic.

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Dispatches From Home Part 5

zoom dinner How’s everyone doing? I know some places in the US and beyond are opening up a little bit. I can’t imagine how nervous I’m going to feel when that starts happening here. Right now, we’re still staying home with no end in sight. I’m sure a slow opening is coming sometime in May…probably towards the end of May, but hey, what do I know? zoom dinnerLast week was kind of a week of treats. We haven’t been dining out much because we’re more than content cooking at home and eating our Trader Joe’s food since groceries are aplenty around here. But on Friday, one of our favorite places, Goldyburgers, re-opened for carry-out and a group of friends decided we should all order from Goldy’s and dine on Zoom together. You guys, it was so fun. I miss dining out so much. Not really because of the food, but because we usually bump into people we know and then the night takes us to unexpected places. Happenstance is really missing from life right now. goldyburgers at homeBut a planned dinner together was great, and my homemade Manhattan was delicious and it was good to catch up with everyone. Spilt MilkAnother treat from last week–we ordered cookies, breakfast sandwiches, and pie from Spilt Milk, our favorite local pie place. Their snickerdoodles are the best I’ve ever had and seriously, just to be able to get a couple familiar treats makes you almost forget about this current situation. I don’t think we need to go out for treats every day, but it felt like such a delicacy to have take-out and cookies after being away from them for so long. Kimberly at the office Presley and the computerI had to go into the office for a bit last week too. I don’t mind going into the office. Some things are impossible to do from home, so it’s good to get caught up when I can. When I work from home, it’s usually from bed (or from the living room) and Presley is monitoring my progress. (She’s such a demanding manager!) I am going to miss sleeping in until 9, but I am looking forward to going back to the office someday…april calendarI can’t believe April is two-thirds over. I am so bummed that we won’t get to experience the cherry blossoms again this year. (Last year the cold spring kept them from blooming and we’ve been planning a Chicago hanami ever since!) It’s quite depressing that the weather is finally warming up and our time outside will be limited. I’m trying to make the most of it by planning our garden plot and shopping for plants online, but it’s not the same as visiting the garden shops in person and picking out the perfect plants. I don’t want to end on such a depressing note, so I will say that I’ve been enjoying letter writing and reading again. And I just started season six of 30 Rock and I’m so glad I’m finally watching it! It makes me laugh right before I go to bed and honestly, my dreams have been slightly less weird since I started it. (Have you been having weird dreams, too? Apparently it’s a thing.) 

I hope you are staying safe and healthy! Please let me know how things are going in your state or country! It’s been so fascinating writing so many pen pals and learning about their stay-at-home standards. 

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Spritzers with Pritzker

Last month, I heard this story on NPR about “Beers with Beshear,” a happy hour centered around Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s daily Covid-19 briefings. So I decided to modify it for my own governor’s briefings and call it “Spritzers with Pritzker” or since it’s Twitter #spritzerswithPritzker.

On March 26, at 2:30pm, I whipped up a Campari Spritz for the Governor’s briefing. Every day since then, I’ve made some sort of Spritz cocktail (both alcoholic and spirit-free.) It’s given me something light to do every day, something to look forward to. It’s been nice to have a little routine that is forcing me to look at recipes and make something every day. Spritzes are perfect afternoon drinks because they typically have a low alcohol content and are apertifs, before-meal drinks that stimulate the appetite.

Yesterday, much to my shock, the governor gave me a shout-out at the beginning of his briefing! I couldn’t believe it! Because of a mix-up last summer where a local politician thought I was Adam (because my handle is @adamihasegawa,) I had my bio name written out as Adam I. Hasegawa, so the governor and everyone else thought I was a guy. (Since then, I’ve changed my name to #spritzerswithPritzker to stop the confusion.) But I came clean to WTTW when they interviewed me for this article. It’s been a fun couple of days chatting about cocktails and laughing a lot. 

So the pressure is on to keep up my project! I decided to create a page here on the site where I can share all the recipes all in one place and for those who aren’t on Twitter or Instagram and may want to join in. (The intro part is pretty much just this post repeated.) I highly recommend a little afternoon break, whether it’s a cup of tea, or a cocktail, or some fancy water. These are trying times and we need to take care of ourselves and of each other.

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Forest Park Public Library’s Grand Re-Opening

Forest Park Public library, Forest Park, library, grand reopeningFor the past several months, our library has been under construction and finally, last month, it was officially re-opened. There was a huge celebration with food and activities and Shelly the Library Turtle. Forest Park Public Library grand reopening, Kettlestrings bandThe library, in its current form, had been around since 1995 so some changes were due. They moved offices downstairs and opened the main floor up so the patrons could enjoy the light and they built study rooms for patrons who need a quiet space to work and community rooms for programming. They also gave the carpeting and furniture a face lift. We were clearly there to see Shelly the Library Turtle. Oh, and the cupcakes.

Almost 600 people came to the library re-opening party, which is pretty amazing in a town of 15,000. I’m super excited that regular programming is back at the library. I’ve gone to small business planning workshops, cooking demos, a yogurt making workshop, screen and block printing workshops, letter writing meet-ups, and so many other great programs there.

Does your library have great programming? I always love to hear what other libraries are doing. If you don’t go to events at your library, goooo! It’s a fun, free way to get out into the community and to support your local library so they can continue providing great services and events. And really, how many things are free these days? (I know, I know…we pay for it with our taxes, which is all the more reason to use the library!)

P.S. I still have quite a few Japan posts in the works so we’ll return to those soon!

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The Last Plot 6 Post of the Decade

This is it…the final Plot 6 post of the decade…

Our plot went out with a whimper this year…what is it about September that makes me lose interest in gardening? Well, this year, I think it was because we had kind of a mediocre tomato harvest (and you know I’m really just all about the tomatoes.) Plus, job searching and starting took up a lot of my free time. Anyway…we let the garden die……but not before we harvested a nice little batch of teeny carrots. These guys made it through several freezes and the first couple of snows, so I was just glad to have something to pick! The carrots are designed to be sort of stumpy, but I think maybe these are small for even the stumpy size. They’re pretty tasty though! I planted them among the tomatoes and then never thinned them as directed, so that could explain things. Here’s our plot all put to bed for the season. See you next spring, buddy!

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