Category Archives: homemaking

2018 Calendars

Adami-Hasegawa 2018 calendars, Heather McAdams Everything Country Calendar, Hobonichi, Word Notebooks Standard MemorandumThe Adami Hasegawas are staying organized this year! Last year Naoto joined Forest Park’s Diversity Committee. Between his two jobs and his meetings and our social lives, I was afraid he’d start double booking himself, so I forced a calendar upon him. I think he liked it, because he used it a lot more than I thought he would. For Christmas I got him the Standard Memorandum. It’s really tiny. Perfectly pocket-sized with enough room to write his work schedule and maybe one other note. I also introduced him to the wonders of the Frixion pen for calendars. Hobonichi, Hobonichi Techo, Japanese calendarI am on my third year of using the Hobonichi Techo. I love it. For me, it’s the perfect size. I like the daily pages for list keeping and just writing random things about my day. I always decorate the monthly spreads, and the daily pages are more utilitarian. (I can’t believe I’ve never blogged about my love for Hobonichi…) I ordered my Hobonichi from Jet Pens. In the past, I’ve ordered directly from Japan, but this year, Jet Pens had everything I wanted now that they are an official Hobonichi shop. A lot of their Hobonichi offerings are sold out by now, but this post is great for going over all the different options, sizes, and accessories. Hobonichi, Hobonichi Techo, Japanese calendar, cover on cover, TokyoThis year I treated myself to a new cover-on-cover. In previous years, I just had a clear cover and I put postcards and stickers inside to personalize my book. The Tokyo themed cover, with its whimsical drawings of ramen and cats and sushi and donuts won me over. Hobonichi, Hobonichi Techo, Japanese calendar, cover on cover, page keeperI also ordered this handy page keeper. Hobonichi, Hobonichi Techo, Japanese calendar, cover on cover, page keeperIt tucks into the back pocket of the cover. Hobonichi, Hobonichi Techo, Japanese calendar, cover on cover, page keeperAnd then the elastic holds the daily or monthly page of your choice. It’s pretty handy. Heather McAdams, Chris & Heather's Everything But Country concertA few years ago, I told you about the Heather McAdams Everything But Country Calendar and Show. This is only our fourth year of owning this calendar, but this year marked its 25th anniversary!  Heather McAdams, Chris & Heather's Everything But Country concertWe just love the drawings and the birthday and facts for each day. Since we don’t write on a big communal calendar at home, this one works perfectly for our kitchen.

How about you? Are you a paper calendar and planner person? Any favorites?

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2018 Goals, Mail & More…

feed your mailbox, sending mail, new years cards, vintage postage stamps

Is the year flying by, or is it just me? I sent out some New Year’s cards last week and some snow-themed letters this week. I feel like I was a terrible pen pal for most of 2017, so one of my goals is to do better this year. feed your mailbox, sending mail, new years cards, snow postage stamps

Some of my other goals for 2018 are:

  • apply to 10 craft shows
  • list regularly in my Etsy shop
  • add vintage postage to my Etsy shop
  • take another screen printing class
  • start a podcast with Naoto
  • get the apartment organized once and for all
  • paint our bedroom
  • post here at least twice a week, maybe even on a regular schedule!
  • as usual, spend out my stationery and paper stash
  • host Hasegawa Happy Hours again
  • host more dinner parties
  • cook more with Naoto, especially Japanese recipes
  • turn off the TV more often

What are your goals for the year?

 

 

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Cherry Almond Angel Cake

cherry almond cakeLast week I had a couple of friends over for “Christmas” lunch. I made an orange pomegranate prosecco cocktail, Ina Garten’s split pea soup, a salad, and this cake. Isn’t it cheerful?

It’s a Cherry Almond Angel Cake and it’s basically a doctored box mix cake. I read about this cake many years ago on a blog I can’t find anymore*. She made the cake based off a Betty Crocker recipe and she made hers in two loaf pans. I wrote down the recipe and all these years later, I finally tried it. It’s so fun. My cherry “glaze” was more of a frosting, but it was really delicious so I’m not complaining.

Cherry Almond Angel Cake

1 box angel food cake mix (Betty Crocker gets my mom’s stamp of approval, so that’s what I used.)

1 1/4 cups cold water

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries (One tiny 10 ounce jar will be plenty for this recipe, with a few leftovers for a Manhattan or two!)

 

Make sure your oven rack is at the lowest level possible and preheat your oven to 350.

In a large bowl, beat cake mix, water, and almond extract on low for 30 seconds. Raise speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.

Fold in cherries.

Pour into an tube cake pan. DO NOT GREASE YOUR PAN! (Also, do not use a non-stick pan!)

Bake for 37-47 minutes until the top is very dry, cracking, and dark golden brown. If the top is still sticky, the cake is not done.

When done, remove from oven and turn over onto a glass bottle. (If you don’t have a glass bottle on hand–this isn’t 1950–you can set your pan on top of 2-3 cans. The important thing is that the cake cools upside down.) Let the cake cool completely. When the cake is cooled, run a knife along the edges of the pan to remove it.

Cherry Glaze

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups powdered sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons (or more) of maraschino cherry juice

Full disclosure, I broke my hand mixer making this glaze. The hand mixer was pretty old, but also, apparently 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of juice were more like wall putty than a nice, glossy glaze. I finished the glaze by hand, with a spoon and ended up using 5 tablespoons of juice and still, my glaze was pretty thick. Start with 2 1/2 tablespoons and add as you go, 1/2 tablespoon at a time to be safe. When it’s the right consistency, drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake

Decorate the cake with extra maraschino cherries and beam at your work like a 1950s housewife.

Three things: Wouldn’t this cake be so cute for Valentine’s Day? I’m going to make it again for a Valentine karaoke party we’re going to next month. And, if you aren’t a frosting person, I always think angel food cakes are delicious on their own. Maybe slightly less cute, but delicious still. Lastly, if you’re interested, the box mix has instructions for making your angel food in two loaf pans. One for yourself, and one for a gift.

 

*Maybe you’ve read this blog? The woman lived in Champaign, Illinois. She was married, had a corgi, and she made quilts and doilies to show at fairs. She also had an etsy shop where she sold a pattern for aprons made of pillow cases.

 

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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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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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Donabe for Christmas

naoto with his new donabe pot Our Christmas Day centered around the contents of that box. I gave Naoto a donabe, Japanese hot pot, for Christmas, sending him over the moon with excitement. Donabe are used for table top cooking of Japanese meals, particularly shabu-shabu. We’ve been talking about buying our own donabe and making shabu-shabu at home forever. We casually looked at them while we were in Japan, but it just isn’t practical to carry around a big, breakable pot when you are traveling by train and subway. So, I did what any American would do…I bought one on Amazon. This one, as a matter of fact. It is made in Japan, Naoto’s favorite color and available on Prime. (I was shopping somewhat last-minute. Also, not an affiliate link.) japanese donabe vegetablesWe made our annual visit to Mitsuwa on Christmas afternoon to pick up the table top burner and ingredients for shabu-shabu. We bought (clockwise, pictured above) cabbage, scallion, tofu, shirataki (yam noodle), enoki mushroom, and carrots. The carrots were supposed to be cut like flowers, but Naoto is still working on his skills. (But I do find that those little carrot pinwheels very charming!) And we bought a pound of the very thinly sliced beef. cooking shabu shabu, japanese donabe, japanese hot potNaoto cooking Shabu Shabu, donabe On Christmas night, we made a cocktail, lit some candles, and fired up the little stove. Naoto seasoned the water with some seaweed.  cooking shabu shabu meat 2When the water was bubbling, he took out the seaweed and we were ready to cook! It only took a couple of swishes and the beef was cooked to perfection. cooking shabu shabu meat 3And the best part…the ponzu dipping sauce! The citrusy sauce is the perfect complement to the beef! I want to put it on evvvvverything!

We borrowed Japanese Hot Pots and Donabe from the library so we can learn how to expand our donabe cooking beyond shabu-shabu. And tomorrow night, we are hosting a mini shabu-shabu party for Naoto’s birthday. I’m excited to try a few recipes at the dining room table this winter!

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Recipes and Cookbooks in a Pinterest World

Better Homes and Gardens NEW COOK BOOK , 1989 editionFor the past few years, I’ve been going to Pinterest more and more for recipes. On Pinterest there’s an endless variety of choices, instant access to reviews, and of course that bottomless rabbit hole of internet clicks. A search for a quick supper recipe quickly unravels into a hunt for table setting ideas, crafts, and other nonsense. Basically, what should be a five minute search for something to eat becomes a thirty minute internet time-suck.

So lately, I’ve been craving the comfort of my own cookbooks. First of all, curling up with the iPad and falling into a net of random blogs and untested recipes is not the same as paging through an old cookbook of tested, tried and true recipes. I love sticking page flags on the top contenders and building a meal from several cookbooks. 
And–more importantly here for me–constant searching and making Pinterest recipes doesn’t leave a paper trail.

My mom has a metal box packed with delicious recipes that we’ve eaten through the years. It’s like a little family time capsule of yellowed 3-by-5 cards in her own handwriting, my great-grandmother’s handwriting, my grandma’s handwriting, my aunts’ handwritings… It’s so fun to poke through the box and see who brought each recipe into our mix of regular meals and family gatherings. She also has her Better Homes & Gardens cookbook from the 70s that is so well-used, the pages are falling out of it. 

My own recipe box consists of a handful of recipes in my college handwriting and has pretty much been untouched since then. My own cooking history lies in my Pinterest pins and my internet search history. If I don’t change things now, when I’m old, I won’t have that paper trail of my own recipes. I won’t have creased and yellowed cards in my mom’s handwriting. I won’t have little handwritten notes about what worked and what didn’t when I tried a new cookbook recipe. I won’t have stained and wrinkled cookbook pages, tangible evidence of a well-loved meal.

I’m trying to break the Pinterest habit and rely more on my cookbooks and recipe box for meals and desserts. (I mean, why have them if I’m not using them?) And I’m trying to write down some of the favorites I have found online, like Kathy’s grandmother’s cranberries

Naoto and I have a small collection of cookbooks, mostly vintage ones with a few Food Network titles mixed in. (We used to watch tons of Food Network shows together on Saturday and Sunday mornings.) The backbone to our collection is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. We both brought versions of this cookbook into the marriage. Naoto’s is the 10th Edition (1989, pictured above) and he got it in college when Auntie Judy (his host mother in Hawaii) took him to Waldenbooks and bought it for him. Mine is the 11th Edition (1996) and I, too, got mine in college, as a Christmas gift from my parents. We are emotionally attached to our respective cookbooks so we’ve kept both of them. Plus, even though the editions are only a few years apart, mine has some newer recipes and even the old standards have slight changes to them. We have favorites in each edition. My mom is bringing her edition to Thanksgiving so I can see if we are missing out on some good 1970s standards. I will report back. 

In the meantime, I’m cracking open the cookbooks to get ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow. And cleaning…

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The Lanai 2015

balcony looking south, lanaiSummer is almost over and I haven’t shared photos from the lanai! It actually looks really different now because I spent some time out there yesterday giving up on some plants (RIP, little guys) and repotting my newly purchased mums*. balcony looking south, lanai, sitting areaI changed up the seating area from last year, moving the wicker love seat along the windows to give it some extra protection from the elements. I liked it a lot better this way, even though at only 4 feet deep, it’s a tight squeeze out there. balcony looking north, lanaiThe “dining area” is pretty much the same. I have six hanging planters of various flowers. I bought a portulaca and a mixed planter and I built my own of begonias, petunias, vinca vines, Creeping Jenny, Mexican Heather, allyssum, various coleus, and some other greens and blooms. (It feels like I did all of this a lifetime ago…it was before Japan!) I really enjoyed building my own planters but this winter I want to do some reading about pot designs. Some of the pots filled out nicely, but others never really filled out, even now at the end of the summer. large pot on the lanaiMy parents gave me this giant pot after Japan and I was so excited to fill it. I bought some cheap impatiens, petunias, and coleus and added in perennial sedum that I’ve had for years. Next year I would like to fill the giant pot with all perennials to keep costs and maintenance down. But I have to say, this pot still looks amazing and full and lush, while most of the others have suffered a bit in our heat lately. old geraniumMy old geranium is still going strong. I really weeded through my geraniums this winter and kept the strongest ones. I didn’t know which colors I would end up with since nothing was blooming in March, but I have one bright pink, one coral, and one white one left. I’ll bring them in when it gets cold. The geraniums hang out on a little cart with some perennials I planted this winter. None of them really thrived in the light on my balcony, so I need to replant them at my parents or give them to someone else who gets more sun. Most are still alive, just not blooming…kind of a bummer. Split Second Morning GloryNext to the big pot, I planted seven types of climbing vines. So far, only three have bloomed. (Womp, womp.) But, I love going out there every morning and tending to the blooms I have, so…I’m making the most of them! The one above is a Split Second Morning Glory, obtained through a “seed swap” on Instagram. (Thanks, Lauren!) They’re double flowers and are very peony-like. Now that I know how successful they are, I’m going to plant lots more of these beauties next year! President Tyler Morning Glory President Tyler Morning GloryThen there are the gorgeous blue President Tylers, obtained at the actual seed swap. The deep purplish blue is so striking on the railings. Heavenly Blue Morning GloryAnd last but not least, the Heavenly Blues…which really, how gorgeous is that color? I took this photo yesterday right before a huge downpour that completely battered the bloom. I’m so glad I captured its perfection!

Next week, I’ll do a community garden update which shall be called All About the Tomatoes. Have a good weekend!

*The Mum Disclaimer: Yes, I feel like it’s too soon to usher in fall, quite frankly, but it is after Labor Day and they were so cheap at Menards! I had to snag a few while I was there! It’s going to cool off today, so maybe fall is really right around the corner? As much as I love fall, I’m all for soaking up the season we are in. I’m not ready to pull out my boots and scarves (and pumpkin spice lattes!). I’m still enjoying the last bits of summer while I can!

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Home Is A 1970s Apartment: Our Living Room, Spring Edition

Kimberly AH living room 2015 Last month, my parents visited and Naoto bought flowers, so I figured while the living room was all tidy, I would take some pictures to share. I haven’t done a full post about our living room since this one in 2012, and things have changed ever so slightly since then…dare I say the living room is almost done? Kimberly AH living room 2015 Kimberly AH living room 2015 The living room arrangement could use a couple more chairs and some art above/around the television, but I’m waiting for the perfect solution. (I have some chairs in mind…just waiting for a sale, and I’d love to do something simple and 3D behind the TV since there’s that weird empty corner there. I know a lot of people do the gallery wall thing around their televisions, but how many gallery walls can one room have?)Kimberly AH desk 2015I’ve been plagued with lingering art on the floor so I spent an afternoon readjusting the “gallery wall” above my desk, adding art and re-centering things to make up for the addition of the drawer unit in the middle. It was actually pretty easy, except for the time I slammed my head on the ceiling. I’m apparently pretty tall when I stand on my desks! Kimberly AH living room 2015  I am thrilled that the artwork is hung! Maybe now I won’t be so tempted to buy more…Japanese wall hanging, japanese postI bought this banner in Japan at Tokyo Station last spring. I’m sad to admit that it’s been folded up in a drawer all year while I decided where it should go. art above desk, kimberly AHI realize the art looks a little wonky, especially from this angle. I need to straighten things out with some Command squares or something. For now, I’m just happy the frames are all off of the floor. And, I will admit that my desk hasn’t looked this clean since about five minutes after this picture was taken.

Art details, top to bottom, left to right: You Are My Sunshine print-I can’t remember the seller//Cat Moves, signed “For Presley”-Lucy Knisley//All You Need Is Cats-Paper Pastries//photo of Presley//calligraphy quote-Dancing Pen & Press//Girl on a Swing paper cut-Tina Tarnoff//Lord Byron Letter Writing print-Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress//cat postcard from Japan//Make Something Today screen print-Life Love Paper//photo strip//Comparison is the Thief of Joy-I made it//Ironhead collage-Vivienne Strauss

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Hasegawa Happy Hour Menu

Hasegawa Happy Hour menu coverIn a sign that I *may* have too much time on my hands (or that I was avoiding doing something productive), I typed up a menu for our Hasegawa Happy Hours. And when I say “typed” I mean typed on the typewriter because that’s how I roll. I know a menu seems weird and excessive, but honestly, if I didn’t have a set cocktail planned for our HHH guests, I was looking through my archives for suggestions. This way, I have all of my favorites in one place. Hasegawa Happy Hour menu openI typed the menu on a piece of 8.5×11 card stock scored and folded the long way. It’s very simply “formatted” since it was done on the typewriter and it’s spring-centric, which means I can type up another one for summer (ooh, for balcony cocktails! I can’t wait!) Hasegawa Happy Hour menu 1I have a section for “Think Spring” cocktails, which are coincidentally all gin-based. (Eagle eyes will notice that I messed up on the Vieux Mot and typed the wrong ingredients. Womp, womp.)Hasegawa Happy Hour menu 2Then there’s a section for “Cozy Nights” that includes mostly whiskey cocktails, perfect for right about now when it’s damp and cold outside. Hasegawa Happy Hour menu 4In the “Deliciously Bitter” section, I have a small list of bitter cocktails. I’ve added several bitter liqueurs to my collection this year and these four are tasty winners. Hasegawa Happy Hour menu 3And, on a removable tiny business card, I typed up two Hasegawa originals, the CAP Cocktail and Pining for the Queen. It’s harder to keep those ingredients readily on hand around here, so I like to be able to remove the card if we don’t have any pomegranate juice or rosemary in the house.

Hasegawa Happy Hour, sushi nightWe tested the menu out last weekend when we had friends over for a little sushi-making party. It worked like a charm!

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