Category Archives: Forest Park

Summer Book Report, Part 2

summer reading, a good man is hard to find, we have always lived in a castle, a country doctor, consequences, convenience store womanI gave myself until the technical start of fall to finish my goal of reading ten books, and I’m going to call it complete. I finished my last book on Tuesday, and one of my choices is technically a short story, but…it’s all good. I’ve been reading up a storm, finishing all of these this month. (Don’t be too impressed…one book was a layover from August and the others are quite short!)

A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett (1884): This was for book group and it was kind of meh. The writing is really lovely, but many parts were too verbose and I didn’t feel the same connection to the characters that I have in other books. Oh, and it’s another single woman, finding her way in the world, struggling between career and marriage…I’m not complaining. I love those books. This just wasn’t my favorite.

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor (1953): It’s a short story that I can’t believe I’ve never read. I can’t tell you anything. Don’t read about it. Just get it and read it. It’s perfection.

Consequences by E.M. Delafield (1919): Another spinster novel…I loooooved this. It took me almost a month to read it and I had to take a break from reading it to read for book club. But, every time I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. It is a tale of a misunderstood child turned single woman who makes many bad choices in life (a life constrained by society’s expectations and restrictions) and has to live with the consequences.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (2016): Oh look! It’s a book written this century! Naoto’s sister recommended this book to him a couple years ago and it was the book that got him back into reading. He read the Japanese version and I was a little bummed because it wasn’t available in English when he told me about it. Then, I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Work Over Easy, and I was reading this post thinking “huh, this book sounds like that one Naoto read!” and sure enough it was! I immediately ordered it from the library and read it in one day. I loved it so much, but it’s hard to explain why. Weirdly enough, it’s another book about a single woman who has made some “non-traditional” choices. I loved the main character and I loved how the author paints the perfect picture of life in a convenience store. (Sidenote: convenience stores are way better in Japan…perhaps I need to write a new Japan Does It Better post.)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962): I haven’t read enough Shirley Jackson. “The Lottery” is one of my favorite short stories ever. This was the perfect introduction into my spooky October reading. The book was creepy and captivating and funny…and the first paragraph is one of the best ever written:

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

For book club next month, we are reading Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and I just started Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, another Japanese book that I read about in the New York Times review of Convenience Store Woman. Perhaps I’ll be back with a fall review soon! In the meantime, here are some of my favorite book club reads from October!

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In My Neighborhood: Empowering Gardens

empowering gardens inc, forest parkEmpowering Gardens is one of those unique places that makes me thankful I live in Forest Park. It is a local garden center with a mission to provide job opportunities for people with disabilities. Everyone who works there is so knowledgable and friendly. And EG offers such great plants, definitely heartier than some of the stuff at the big box garden centers. Plus, their prices are competitive, which means you can buy more and help a good cause.empowering gardens, fall pansies, fall flowers, garden center, mumsRight now, they have a gorgeous array of pansies which love this fall weather that we’re just dipping into, and tons of mums–tiny ones and giant ones in all different autumnal colors. empowering gardens, ornamental pepper, fall flowers, garden centerThey also have a few varieties of ornamental peppers, which are so cool! (I’m kicking myself for not buying this one.) They also have some ornamental cabbages, fall grasses, cold weather vegetables, and plenty more. Pretty much everything you need to give your porch or garden a boost for the new season. empowering gardens inc, forest parkHow cute would one of these be on a Halloween porch? empowering gardens inc, forest park, Naoto at Empowering GardensWe bought a couple of small mums and this really neat black plant…I need to clear off the balcony of all the dead summer stuff and I’ll share the living fall version next week. (It’s really a mess out there on my lanai!) I really wish I could trust myself to water the pansies because they have so many stunning colors! And, this Saturday, I’ll be at Empowering Gardens selling my cards at the Music, Art & Wine event! I’m so excited to participate in this event that combines my love of gardening with my love wine and music and handmade art!

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Garage Galleries Recap

galaxie safari at garage galleries 2018We had such a great time showing at Forest Park’s Garage Galleries last weekend! It is such a neat local event and we are so happy that we participated. Our Forest Park neighbors came out in full force–we had over 140 visitors* in our garage! galaxie safari at garage galleries 2018Here was our garage set-up. Jerry was our host and he had a huge, clean garage with doors that opened on both sides, which was perfect for sunlight and a light cross-breeze. It was so hot and sticky on Saturday. He also had a beautiful garden that was a great place to retreat to when traffic was slow.

I shared a garage with Claire, a young artist who was showing her work for the first time, and Jason, who was a total pro with his own gallery walls and lighting. galaxie safari at garage galleries 2018So many people recognized me from the Review article, so it was fun that they sort of knew my style already. (Who says print is dead?) And of course so many people recognized Naoto from Trader Joes. It was fun meeting fellow artists and art lovers from our village. galaxie safari at garage galleries 2018Usually for each show I create something new, a framed piece or a card, and this time I sold out of a few new things, so this week, I need to beef up my stock and add some new pieces on Etsy. I have three shows coming up in September, so I need to get a jump start on what’s looking like a busy month!

Thanks to everyone who came out and showed your support! We hope to join in the fun again next year!

 

*I actually have no idea if this was a good number or not, but it felt busy and people seemed to be having a good time.

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Garage Galleries 2018

garage galleries, forest park, ILOn Saturday, I’ll be participating in Forest Park’s Garage Galleries, a neighborhood art walk where artists show their work in local garages. I’ll be in a garage in south Forest Park, 1306 Marengo Avenue, with two other artists. I’ll have my greeting cards and framed pieces ready to sell, but it’s a nice casual way to enjoy art of all kinds. There are forty artists from all over Chicagoland spread across sixteen garages, so you can meander your way through Forest Park and see it all, or pop into a cluster of garages and get a taste of what’s happening. The Forest Park Review did a story about it if you’d like to learn more.

I hope to see my local friends there!

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Tomato Time 2018

red tomatoes, plot 6, forest park community garden, big boyThe tomatoes are coming! The tomatoes are coming! So far, we’ve picked Big Boys, Black Krims, a Mortgage Lifer, and tons of Juliets. We’ve been eating plenty of tomato sandwiches, BLTs, and caprese salads and we added this caprese pasta salad into our menu. Our goal for the summer is to try five new tomato recipes, so one down, four to go. Once we get a good harvest of big tomatoes, it will be easier to experiment. Juliets aren’t slicing tomatoes, so right now we’re limited to salads. They are particularly delicious this year, so no complaints! red tomatoes, plot 6, forest park community garden, big boyWe haven’t had any red Brandywines yet, so…I’m waiting patiently. But I have to say, the Mortgage Lifter and Black Krims are really fantastic…we’ll be planting more of those for sure next year!

Anything ripe in your neck of the woods?

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Plot 6, Where Are My Tomatoes?

plot 6, tomato jungle, forest park community garden, community garden, raised bedHere’s a look at our garden yesterday. I’ve resigned myself that we will never have a tidy garden. We’ll just call Plot 6 a free spirit and let it be.

Our tomato plants are growing tall and going strong but we’ve hardly had any red tomatoes yet! The green ones are there, but I’m ready for a big, juicy red garden tomato! (Ok, I just went back to the archives of the blog…usually the big tomatoes don’t start coming until August so I guess I should relax. Sometimes it’s nice to have a blog to jog your memory about things.) plot 6 first tomato 2018, Juliet tomatoWe picked our first Juliet on July 9th and then we didn’t have any red tomatoes again until yesterday. tiny tomato harvest, plot 6, forest park community garden, juliet tomatoesWe’ve been cutting a ton of basil and parsley each week, so I’m going to make a tiny caprese salad with these guys later today. Naoto has been making pesto like a champ. And we harvested a big batch of garlic, too. We’re pretty set for any upcoming Italian recipes. edamame, forest park community garden, plot 6, soybeans And most exciting of all is our edamame has ALL SURVIVED this year! Not a single bunny nibble in sight! Now we regret not planting more! I’ll try to get a better picture of the edamame patch. The plants are really tall, tucked in between overgrown walking onions and some tomatoes. In fact, I believe it was the walking onions that have kept the bunnies away. Last year, I cut back the walking onions and the bunnies ate the edamame. Lesson learned.

In the meantime, I’m collecting tomato recipes in hopes that big tomato season is just around the corner. I started a Pinterest board over here to collect ideas. After this summer, maybe I can make a little tomato cookbook! If you have any fresh tomato recipes, I’d love to hear about them!

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Galaxie Safari in the News

forest Park Review, Galaxie Safari in the news, local newspaper, forest park, oak parkIf you haven’t seen my tweets and Instagrams from last week, I have exciting news! My tiny card business was featured in the local papers last week! You can read the article online here. A few weeks ago, I sat down with Nona Tepper, the reporter for the Forest Park Review, and we chatted about letter writing and card making and sending mail. It was a delightful conversation. A couple weeks later, they sent photographer Alexa Rogals to my home for a photo shoot, which was the most nerve-wracking part, at least before Alexa got there. (She’s a true professional who made me feel very comfortable.) Thankfully I was able to get my desk cleaned up in time for the photo shoot. It was neat to have my actual workspace featured in the article, though it’s never that clean when I’m actually making cards! (Today it’s a chaotic mix of personal mail, prep for my show this weekend, books, and newspapers!)

I’m so grateful to my local newspaper, The Review, for doing the article about me and other small businesses in our community. Just like it’s nice to open your mailbox and find a letter amongst the bills, it’s nice to open a newspaper and read some light articles amongst the politics and crime. We all need a little break now and then, right?

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Our Fourth

July 4th dinner, patriotic, independence dayJuly 4th seems like weeks ago. I remember when I was a kid, it felt like July 4th was the end of summer…like it had this power to make the rest of summertime rush by. As an adult, I still kind of believe this, especially since school supplies are already out at Target. (Really…it’s ridiculous.) But really, there’s so much summer left! plot 6, forest park community garden, community gardening, raised bed gardeningIt was soooo hot and humid on the 4th. It rained a teeny bit, but not enough to really impact the garden, or the heat. I gave our plot a good soak during the community garden BBQ. Our tomato jungle is coming along nicely…no tomatoes yet…but our edamame is growing like crazy and the rabbits haven’t eaten it yet! cherry manhattans, vintage glasses, july 4th, hasegawa happy hourNaoto and I had a mini Hasegawa Happy Hour and made Cherry Manhattans (recipe from Leopold Bros.) Cherry Manhattans have become our lazy summer drink.  Despite what this picture shows, we drank them inside because it was too sweaty to be outside. We had Chicago-style hot dogs, corn on the cob, and baked beans for supper. It was the epitome of America. fireworks over 290, circle bridge, forest park fireworksWe ended up watching fireworks from the Circle Bridge over the Eisenhower (Interstate 290 for you non-Chicagoans.) I love fireworks, but I hate crowds, so it was kind of the perfect spot. It was still so hot, but there was a decent breeze (from the traffic?) and the were no mosquitos, plus it was only a few blocks from home. (What can I say? I’m a lazy reveler!) vintage postage, patriotic postage, galaxie safari, red, white, and blue

Oh! And here are those vintage patriotic stamps in action!

I’d love to hear about your Fourth/last Wednesday!

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Passport to Adventure

Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket listIs it too late to talk about our summer plans? This year for our summer manifesto/bucket list, I made us a little “Passport to Adventure.” I got the idea from this old blog post that has been on my Pinterest board since 2013 or so.) Of course, her passport was for her children, but really, who doesn’t like documenting things with a sticker? Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket list, passport to summer We’ve done a summer bucket list before, but not in the past few years. It really is, for us anyway, the best way to plan the summer and to prioritize all of the possibilities the warm weather brings. (Seriously, in the Midwest, sometimes it feels like I spend 80% of the year stuck inside.) So, I decided making a little book would be a fun way to get back in the game and organize our checklist for the summer. Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket listPassport to Adventure Summer Bucket List

Supplies:

Field Notes notebook (or another small notebook with <50 pages)

stickers (I used the tiny daruma stickers pictured above, but any small sticker will do.)

stamp (or you could just draw a square)

vintage DYMO label maker (or you could just write the title or use letter stickers)

date stamp (or you could write the date or not worry about dates at all)

pen Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket listI kept it really simple. I wrote a bucket list item on each page and stamped a little rectangle on the bottom for the sticker on completion. Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket listIf the task was something I wanted to repeat, I wrote it once and then stamped blank pages with numbered rectangles. Then when we try new recipes, we can write down the name or a brief description of the dish and put the little daruma sticker in the box.Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket list Field Notes Sweet Tooth, Field Notes Colors edition, summer passport, summer manifesto, summer bucket listI’ve already finished two books this summer. I am not ashamed to admit that it was very satisfying to choose a sticker for those boxes. It was like summer reading and Book-It all over again!

Here’s our official summer bucket list:

read 10 books/Read 3 books (K/N)

host 5 Hasegawa Happy Hours

dine on the lanai

road trip

Hasegawa Tanabata

see fireworks

Hole in the Wall

Lost Lake

rooftop cocktails

Proviso fundraiser

send 50 pieces of mail (K)

try 5 new tomato recipes

try 5 new herbal cocktail recipes

run the 8 mile course with the Oak Park Runners Club (N, obviously)

run 5K (K…it’s a stretch goal!)

Quincy Street Distillery

We have a couple of blank pages left, so maybe we’ll add a couple things as we go, but this list feels doable. I’d love to hear what’s on your summer list!

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Out on the Lanai

blue hawaii on the lanaiIt’s been really perfect spring weather the past few days. We had a bad hot streak, but since the beginning of June, the weather has been mild, even chilly! blue hawaii on the lanai, kimberly and naotoLast Monday, after the gym and the garden, we enjoyed our annual anniversary Blue Hawaiis before dinner. It was just warm enough to feel like summer. first lanai dinner 2018We also had our first dinner on the lanai last week. (Naoto made this from Smitten Kitchen.) Last year I don’t feel like we enjoyed our balcony enough so I’m determined to get out there as much as possible this summer. We have a new furniture arrangement and have cleared off some other unnecessary things, so hopefully it will be more enticing.

I had the brilliant idea to plant our pots in rainbow order this summer. (You know how I love my ROY G BIV-ing!) It ended up being way more work than I bargained for…mostly finding the right kinds of plants to work with our sun situation…our balcony is pretty shady. But every summer I feel like I don’t have enough yellows and oranges out there, so this was a nice way to force myself to branch out. Of course, I love it, but I’m already deciding on color combinations for each pot for next summer!

Anyway, behold the rainbow…pink impatiens, container garden, lanai garden, balcony gardenmixed pot, pink flamingoes, garden gnomesred petuniasred geraniumorange petunias, orange geraniumyellow petunias, yellow marigoldsmixed greenslobeliapurple flowers, impatiens, story night petunias, fairy flowers starry night petunias, night sky petuniasThe “greens” are a bit of a mess right now because my wooden window box is falling apart and because I’m waiting for my climbers to grow. Hopefully it will fill out as summer rolls along. 

Do you have any favorite flower color combinations? I’m really into yellow and hot pink right now.

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