Category Archives: homemaking

Plot 6 in 2018

plot 6, forest park community garden, raised bed gardening, square foot garden, community garden, #plot6I can’t believe I haven’t posted about the garden yet this spring! We are all planted in our little plot 6 and happily waiting for things to grow. As usual, I swore I would only plant tomatoes and I would not experiment at alllll this summer…and then we planted a bunch of tomatoes and some other things…but no vining plants this year. No sireee. plot 6, forest park community garden, raised bed gardening, square foot garden, community garden, #plot6I’m very excited to have a full-time partner in crime at the garden this year. Since Naoto isn’t working a million hours a week anymore, he has time to visit the garden with me. plot 6, forest park community garden, raised bed gardening, square foot garden, community garden, #plot6So far, we planted Juliet, Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, and Black Krim tomatoes, rosemary, lavender, thyme, basil, and parsley, and lima beans and edamame. Our garlic is going strong from last fall’s planting, and in spite of the fact that I pulled it all last fall, the walking onions have returned. I need to at least thin them again. They are growing into my tomatoes. plot 6, forest park community garden, raised bed gardening, square foot garden, community garden, #plot6We still have kaiware (Japanese radish sprouts) that we’d like to plant, but that’s it! We already have a Juliet on one of our plants, so I’m hoping this year we aren’t plagued by white flies and that we have a crazy bumper crop again…Naoto is already planning tomato-centric menus for later this summer!

I can’t wait.

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A Peek Inside My Desk: Vintage Paper Drawer

vintage paper drawer, martha stewart flat files, vintage ephemera, vintage paper, colorsA few years ago, I organized my vintage paper by color. It was an effort to get all of the bits and pieces out of their various packages that were strewn about my apartment. And it was a failed effort to get me to use up some of my stash. So far, I haven’t really used much.

vintage paper drawer, martha stewart flat files, vintage ephemera, vintage paper, colorsThe drawer came with dividers, so I figured it would be a good place to color code my vintage papers. Organizing things in rainbow order (or, ROY G BIVing, as I like to call it) is incredibly pleasing to me. vintage paper drawer, martha stewart flat files, vintage ephemera, vintage paper, colorsI’m also a tiny box hoarder, so those come in handy to corral the little bits of loose things like tiny decals and labels and tickets. Who needs the Container Store when there are so many leftover little paper boxes?vintage paper drawer, martha stewart flat files, vintage ephemera, vintage paper, colorsPink, orange and purple are the least full sections. But a lot of my “orange” stuff is in a Halloween bin. I try to keep the holiday stuff separate and tuck out-of-season stuff away, but sometimes it ends up in here (if I order it or find it out of season.) vintage paper drawer, martha stewart flat files, vintage ephemera, vintage paper, colorsMost of the stuff I’ve had for a long time…too long. vintage paper drawer, martha stewart flat files, vintage ephemera, vintage paper, colorsI’ve found a lot at thrift stores and flea markets and I’ve gotten a ton from Saturday Morning Vintage and @feedthebirdies on Instagram. vintage paper drawer, martha stewart flat files, vintage ephemera, vintage paper, colors, red white and blue, patriotic I’d say the airmail/red, white, and blue section is my favorite. vintage paper drawer, martha stewart flat files, vintage ephemera, vintage paper, colorsPurple is my least favorite color but I have to admit, I’m pretty enamored with a lot of my vintage purple bits…especially those Gin Fizz labels! vintage paper drawer, martha stewart flat files, vintage ephemera, vintage paper, colorsThe “neutral section” looks a little drab compared to everything else, but some of the old black and white stuff is great and who doesn’t love an old yellowed book page?

So, I’m working on keeping a notebook with pictures and a bit of journaling and I’ve found that it’s helping me use up some of my stuff. It’s a paper addict’s work in progress.

How do you organize your paper stuff?

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Mango & Black Bean Salsa

mango salsa, mango black bean salsa, mango, black bean, red onion, lime, cilantro, fresh salsaBack when we were dating, Naoto and I had dinner at his coworker’s house. I don’t remember what we ate for dinner. What I do remember is Joyce and her husband, Doug, offered up mango salsa as an appetizer and…it was so good. You know how when you’re at someone’s house–especially someone you don’t know very well–you shouldn’t make a pig of yourself and eat the entire bowl of salsa? I think I broke that rule. I couldn’t stop…it just might be the perfect (non-tomato) salsa. It’s sweet and tangy and the textures of the mango and black beans and onions work together perfectly.

Monday night Naoto made the salsa for the first time in a long time. We have a photocopy of Joyce and Doug’s handwritten recipe in our recipe box…I think it’s the first shared recipe of our relationship. And this is why I love handwritten recipes! Just poking through my recipe box reminds me of Joyce and Doug and the beginning of my relationship with Naoto in a way that no link to an internet recipe ever could.

Anyway, Naoto prepared the salsa to put on fish and I had to restrain myself from eating the whole batch with tortilla chips before he cooked the cod. I think the salsa is really best with chips, but fish is probably healthier…either way, make this salsa!

Mango & Black Bean Salsa

1 1/2 cup black beans (canned, rinsed)

1 mango, finely chopped

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

3 Tbs lime juice

1 Tbs canola oil

2 tsp brown sugar

Mix together; stir thoroughly; chill for 1 hour.

Serve with chips, or on fish if you’re feeling fancy.

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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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