Category Archives: Forest Park, Oak Park

Maker’s Market

This Saturday I’ll be at The Lantern Loft in Forest Park for the brand new Maker’s Market! I’m very excited to do a local show. It’s fun to meet fellow neighbors who love handmade. There will be a light focus on Mother’s Day since it’s the next major holiday but I’ll have some new cards and framed quotes for Teacher Appreciation Week (coming up May 6-10,) graduations, and Father’s Day. And, as always, a mix of sweet and snarky handmade greetings for everyone else on your list.

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April in Chicago in April

My pen pal, April, and her partner Geof were in town this month for a visit. They live in New Zealand and April is a huge fan of Presley so she stops in to see her when she’s in town. And, we always go to Greer when she visits. It’s so fun to shop in Greer with someone else who loooooves stationery and fancy office supplies as much as I do. We were the only customers in the shop while we were there, but you’d never know it as much as we were chattering about Mr. Boddington’s great style, vintage pencils, the many, many notebooks we have in our stashes, and the great variety of greeting cards at Greer. mr. boddington's stationery, pencil case, vintage pencil, Mr. Boddington's pencil stationery Naoto gave me a gift card to Greer for Christmas and this was the first chance I had to spend it. I still have some money left to spend again, but I this time I chose some Mr. Boddington’s pencil-themed stationery, a vintage pencil, and a new pencil bag. (Neither the vintage pencil nor the pencil bag are available online.)We also went to Quimby’s to look at zines and take pictures in the photo booth. (I can never pass up a photo booth.)April and Geof were in town for Record Store Day and they shopped a lot of the record stores in Chicago, so we took them to Val’s Halla and Old School Records in our neighborhood. Val’s had live music which really put me in the mood to shop. On their last day in Chicago, it snowed six inches, so our plans were adjusted. We ended up going shopping and to Portillo’s for Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beefs. Weirdly, we didn’t write any letters together this time, but there’s always next year!

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Seed Swap 2019

A few weeks ago, Naoto and I attended the 9th annual Forest Park Community Garden Seed Swap! We’ve been going for quite a few years, both as gardeners and volunteers. It’s the perfect spring kick-off and a chance to meet other gardeners and start thinking about our plots for the summer. For the second year in a row, Empowering Gardens did a presentation for us, this time about soil and seed starting. They brought rosemary seedlings for everyone to take…mine is currently wilting in my kitchen. Please send it your thoughts and prayers. Other than our rosemary, we picked up a lot of herb seeds (thyme, parsley, basil, and shiso,) some more edamame, and arugula. And I picked up some pretty poppy seeds that I’m going to attempt to plant in the communal area at the community garden. Of course on top of all those herbs and edamame, we’ll be planting our usual tomato jungle…it’s inevitable.

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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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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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Summer Book Report, Part 1

summer book report, summer reading, little women, o pioneers!, the precipice, classic literatureI’m only halfway to my goal of reading ten books for the summer. Of course, I consider September summer still…autumnal equinox isn’t until September 22 after all. I need to buckle down and put my phone down more often and pick up a book from my towering stack of library options. (I’ve also been reading some non-fiction–cookbooks, a book about tomatoes, and a book about cleaning–on and off while I watch TV. I suppose I should consider these in my ten summer books but they’re more for personal and garden improvement. I’ll probably do a separate post about those kinds of books.)

I know I’ve mentioned my book club before, but we only read books written before the 1950s. We’ve made some exceptions, but nothing we’ve read is contemporary by any means. I cannot express how much I love these books, which are sometimes tedious and slow but almost always rewarding. Our discussions are usually really good, even better when we disagree on how good the book is or have different interpretations about a character’s motive or something. Someone in the group always brings up something really profound about the book that no one else thought of. And usually by the end of the meetings, we all like the book more than when we initially finished. When I read things on my own, I find myself popping onto Goodreads to see what other people say about the book, just so I can try to learn more and see things I didn’t see during my reading.

So…a little synopsis of my reading thus far:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868/69): We read this for book group in June and half of us had read it as children and the other half were experiencing it for the first time. I was in the latter group. It didn’t hold the same magic for me that people talk about when you mention Little Women. I found the little vignettes to be tedious and saccharine. I’ve since read some feminist perspectives about the book and Alcott that made me appreciate it more, but…I think I missed my chance to fall in love with Little Women. It probably would have been dreamy in fifth grade.

The Victorian Chaise Longue by Marghanita Laski (1953): Kathy recommended this one to me a long time ago and I finally had to just buy a used copy because no library could get it for me. It reminded me a lot of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which I’ve read too many times to count. Victorian Chaise Longue is terrifying and haunting. A modern woman who has tuberculosis falls asleep on a used chaise lounge and wakes up ninety years earlier (mid-1800s) in the body of another woman who also has tuberculosis. It’s a good feminist read, and sort of sticks around in your head after you’re done.

The Precipice by Elia Wilkinson Peattie (1914): We read this for book group last month and I flagged so many passages. The main character is a Chicago social worker at the turn of the century during the early years of Hull House. All different types of women are portrayed, from feminist progressive women, to women who held traditional roles as wives and mothers to women who were making compromises between the old and the new worlds and career versus family. It felt a little contrived at times…everyone fit into a box, but it was a nice perspective about life for women at that time and it’s always fun to read a Chicago book.

Death Takes Priority by Jean Flowers (2015): I talked about this one last week. If you like light reads and the post office, I recommend this book! (Mom, you would like it!)

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (1913): We just finished this one in book group over the weekend. I just love Willa Cather. (The group read My Antonia before I joined, and we read Song of the Lark a few years ago, which is the opposite order that the books were written as the “Great Plains Trilogy.” We also read Lucy Gayheart, which is one of her later books, and another Chicago book.) Her prose is so lovely, and O Pioneers! was a peaceful read. Nothing happens for the first two-thirds of the book but you don’t mind because she’s painting a beautiful picture and setting up the “action.” (I use that term loosely.) Her story structure is so good…there’s a point in the book where there’s a perfect break, a tiny breath between acts. And her description of winter as a pause between the abundance of fall and the promiscuity of spring was nothing less than life-changing. (Mom, you would love this one, too!)summer book report, summer reading, little women, o pioneers!, the precipice, classic literature, Presley the cat

Next up for me is Consequences by E.M. Delafield. It came as a recommendation as a good post World War I spinster book during a podcast about Lolly Willowes (which probably deserves its own post…it was such a fun read and so different from the other spinster novels of the era! We read it for book club and it was a surprise pick that everyone loved!)

Presley and I would love to hear what’s on your nightstand.

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Art in the Rain

galaxie safari, art dans la rue, downtown oak park, outdoor artFor all but about two hours, Art Dans la Rue was a blast. And those two hours were baaaaaad. So. Much. Rain. We were attacked by a deluge of water that threatened to ruin pretty much everything I sell. Thankfully, our borrowed tent stayed strong, and Naoto found a tarp in the car that gave an extra layer of protection to the table. (Tents do not protect your things from splash-ups that occur during heavy downpours…something I didn’t really consider when I was planning for the weather.) I got drenched though, so I was wet pretty much the entire night. And my poor white tablecloth was covered with mud splatters. But, on the happiest of notes, Naoto and I work with amazing people who all reached out and offered us towels, garbage bags, brownies, wine…everything to make things better. the skies above oak park during art dans la rueThe rain had good timing (well, ideal timing would have been waiting until Wednesday!) because it came and went before people got off work and things got busy. That was the bright side. There were a ton of people out enjoying the festivities after 5, and they all stayed mostly dry…except for an errant drip from a tent. madeline, art dans la rue, downtown oak parkDuring the rain, we kept ourselves entertained by chatting with our neighbors, the beignet sellers, and taking pictures with Madelineshoppers at Galaxie Safari, Art Dans La Rue, downtown oak park, street festNaoto kept buying me wine because I was so stressed out. It all worked out though…once the rain stopped and we all dried off, we had such a good time. So many of our friends and Naoto’s customers stopped to chat with us The highlight (besides selling Galaxie Safari cards to fellow mail-lovers!) was the poodle parade. My video does not capture the charm of people walking their dogs down Marion Street to French music and cooing dog-loving crowds. (Also, sorry I filmed it vertically…I was making an Instagram Story!)

A huge thank you to everyone who came out and supported the event. We can’t wait until next year!

P.S. The last picture was taken by Ally Vertigan. Thank you, Ally!

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Art Dans la Rue

art dans la rue, downtown oak park, french festivalBonjour! I’m popping in to remind my local friends that today is the day of Art Dans la Rue in Downtown Oak Park. It’s my second outdoor show and we’ll have special French greeting cards featuring vintage French postage stamps. And of course I’ll have my usual cards and tiny framed art, and a few new cards, too. There will be wine, beignets, fresh flowers, art, live music, a mime, crepes…not to mention a poodle parade later tonight.

I’ll be back soon with a “beach read” book recommendation for mail lovers!

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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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Upcoming Craft Shows

I have a couple of craft shows coming up…it will be my first time showing outside, so I’m hoping for good weather and not too much of a breeze! Both are smaller events so I can see if outdoor craft life is something I can handle. To be honest, it makes me really nervous because water and paper don’t mix and I have limited supplies of so many of my vintage stamps. But, outdoor craft shows are a part of selling things so if I want to be successful, I feel like I have to at least try it.

The first event is Riverfest on Saturday, July 28th in Riverside, our neighbor to the south. It’s a small, local festival with music and food and drinks and Tropical Snow!! The gates open at 4pm and the craft sellers will be selling their wares until 9.  I’m excited. This week I’ll be busy making some new cards and refilling ones that have sold out. I’m trying to add a sympathy card and a wedding card to my line, if I can find stamps that will cooperate. Also, I’m going to sell packs of vintage postage so my customers can add some vintage flair to their envelopes to go with their vintage cards. art dans la rue, oak park, ILAnd, on August 7th from 2-9pm, I’ll be at Art Dans la Rue in Oak Park. This is, as you may have guessed, a French themed street fair and I’ll be debuting a couple of cards with vintage French postage and French phrases. There will be a poodle parade and can can dancers and amazing French food, so I’m pretty much counting on Naoto to man my booth for a bit so I can enjoy some wine and puppies.

I’m keeping a running list of upcoming shows over on the Shop page if you’re interested in seeing what’s coming up.

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