Category Archives: In My Neighborhood

Gnome-Body Paints Like We Do

naoto and his gnome, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenLast weekend, Naoto and I went to a local Forest Park spot, Creativita, to paint garden gnomes with our Forest Park Community Garden friends. When I was little, I would often go to a little shop in my hometown to paint ceramics. I painted flocks of geese and ducks, spoon rests and teabag holders for my mom. I painted a cow for myself…I still have him on my dresser. So I knew I was excited to paint a garden gnome, but I didn’t think Naoto would be. To my surprise, on Saturday afternoon he told me he was really looking forward to painting. As you can tell from the picture above, he was verrrry serious about his gnome. He was also full of gnome puns. “I don’t gnome-ally do this, but it’s fun.” “Gnome one told me it would be this difficult.”

Our group sat at a table together and we all brought wine and snacks to share. It was so much fun choosing colors, deciding on designs, and laughing at our own painting skills (or -ahem- lack thereof.)
norm the gnome 1, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenNaoto painted “Norm the Gnome” and I painted “Norma the Gnome.” We decided to make them kind of coordinate so they could live in the big pot on our balcony together. norma the gnome 2, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenI went the traditional route, mostly because I love blue and red. I didn’t paint her face because I was afraid to screw it up with too much detail. norm the gnome 2, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenNaoto gave Norm a blueish green outfit and painted his eyes black. finished gnomes, creativita forest park, ceramics painting, forest park community gardenWe went back yesterday to pick up our gnomes. I think they turned out pretty well! I just love Norm’s white beard! And I admit Norm’s black eyes look better than my faceless Norma. In spite of her lack of lips and eyelashes, I think they make a cute pair for our balcony garden.

There are tons of things to paint at Creativita and I’m looking forward to going back and painting again. They have a really cute cat dish that would be perfect for Presley. And maybe I can add to my mom’s ceramic collection. (Just kidding, Mom!)

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Swapping Seeds 2016

seed swap, Forest Park Community Garden Seed SwapOn Sunday, I spent the afternoon with fellow gardeners at the Forest Park Community Garden Seed Swap. It was my second seed swap and I think I walked away with some fun options for Plot 6 this spring.

I’ve been thinking a lot about our garden plot and trying to convince myself to be a better planner and to not allow things to get jungle-y this year…but let’s face it…if I can’t stop myself from wanting to plant everything, what hope do I have?

I decided to plant some lettuces on the balcony this summer to see how they do. The past couple of summers, I’ve missed out on some of our planted lettuces because the bunnies “harvested” it before I did. Having the lettuces on the balcony will solve that problem. (Though I do have a rogue squirrel visitor on the balcony now…) I picked out some Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce (not pictured because it didn’t come in a beautiful envelope), Komatsuna, and some Wasabi Arugula at the swap.

I also grabbed some thyme and oregano, which will probably get planted in both balcony pots and in our garden plot. And, since I’m a glutton for punishment, I grabbed some golden beets, which are so delicious and impossible for me to grow…Sigh…

In the flower department, I picked out some nasturtiums since they are supposedly easy to grow and I love the bright orange-red. And, because I love a good climber, I decided to try the Passion Flower climbers, mostly because they looked so interesting! Mike Nowak, Forest Park Community Garden Seed SwapIn addition to swapping seeds, we listened as Mike Nowak presented about his own backyard garden and about the community garden he and his Logan Square neighbors built together in an empty lot formerly known as a drug dealing corner. Not only did they rid their neighborhood of drug deals, but he also met his neighbors and introduced gardening to kids nearby. It was a really great speech that made me think of the kind of impact a community garden can have.

It was a great way to spend a rainy Sunday. It’s been a warm spring, so I’m hopeful that gardening is just around the corner!

P.S. I posted the giveaway winner yesterday!

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A Tour of the Oak Park Post Office

Oak Park, IL Post OfficeAs promised, a tour of the Oak Park Post Office…Oak Park Post Office 80th Anniversary Celebration, USPSThe Oak Park Post Office was built in 1935. It was a Public Works Administration project and there are other post offices in the country that are the same or very similar in design. entrance to Oak Park, IL post officeAbove the two main Lake Street entrances are these gorgeous brass images of different postal delivery methods (air, train, covered wagon, car, horse, and carrier). brasswork at Oak Park, IL Post OfficeI love the art deco birds above the doors. In 2011, the post office released a stamp of this design and I’ve always regretted that it was only for non-profits. detail of Oak Park, IL post officeCarved bald eagles adorn the brickwork above the doors. Oak Park Post Office, USPS 2 Oak Park Post Office, USPS 1I’d never noticed the fantastic lighting details until I started coming for the council meetings each month. The star lights are in the lobby at each end of the building and the sconces light up the corridor. And those tiny stars right below the crown molding–magnificent! Oak Park Post Office, USPS, muralsThere are four handpainted murals in the lobby as well. Oak Park Post Office 80th Anniversary Celebration, USPSIn our behind-the-scenes tour, we got to see the offices upstairs. There are a couple of meeting rooms, a room for both unions, and a couple of offices that the USPS hopes to rent out. Though the offices need a lot of work to make them shine, wouldn’t it be so fun to have your office space in the post office? Plus both offices look out at Unity Temple to the east. Oak Park, IL post office, carriers swing roomAt the end of the upstairs tour, we came upon this door. Hmmmmm… Oak Park, IL post office, carriers swing room Oak Park, IL post office, carriers swing roomAhhh…it’s an employee break room! I’m not sure how often the vintage ping pong table, chess board, pool table, and exercise bike get used nowadays, but the Postmaster mentioned that the lockers were used, especially in the winter for changing into cold weather gear. It kind of cracked me up…it felt like a rec room that hadn’t been updated since the 40s. I love it! Oak Park, IL Post Office, sorting room, USPSLeaving the Swing Room, we went downstairs to the sorting room. Each mail carrier has a stand where the route’s mail is sorted into slots for each address. Mail carrier’s are responsible for sorting their own routes.  Oak Park, IL Post Office, sorting room, USPSThe “Hot Case” is where late arriving mail goes. Mail carriers check here for any last minute mail for their routes. Oak Park, IL Post Office, sorting room, USPSThis area is where the packages are sorted. A postal worker scans each box (under that yellow arm) and throws the box in the orange bins (“pumpkins”) for the appropriate route. Can you imagine working quickly and tossing boxes in the correct bin? (Also, this should serve as a reminder to pack up those boxes with lots of cushion!) While we were there, the post office got a huge eight foot (estimation) high pallet of boxes from Fed Ex. The USPS carries the “last mile” for Fed Ex and UPS, so those packages were set to be sorted and delivered the following Monday. Oak Park, IL Post Office, sorting room, USPSI loved seeing the productivity goals for mail processing and counter service. I’d love to see the room in full swing on a Monday morning–I bet it’s buzzing!

 

Kings of the Keyboard at FitzGerald’s

FitzGeralds, Kings of the Keyboard cocktailsIt was such a great weekend around here! On Friday night, some friends and I went to FitzGerald’s to see Kings of the Keyboard, an event hosted by Chris Ligon and Heather McAdams, the same duo who put on the Everything But Country Calendar Show last year. Kings of the Keyboard hosts Heather McAdams and Chris LigonKings of the Keyboard, FitzGeralds night club, Heather McAdams artworkChris and Heather brought together a wide variety of amazing musicians: Daniel Souvigny, a fourteen year old piano genius, Chris Foreman, a famous organ player who plays at the Green Mill, Paul Lewis, pianist for the Joffrey Ballet, Charlie Pierce and Choctaw Wilfire, a honkey tonk band from Austin, Chris Ligon who played hilarious songs on the Baldwin Fun Machine, and Scott Ligon and the Letter 3 who are so much fun to listen to (and I promise I’m not biased as Scott is my friend’s husband).   Kings of the Keyboard, 16mm film stripEach act played a few songs and in between, Heather played an amazing collection of 16mm films of old keyboard acts. It was a non-stop cornucopia of entertainment!

I feel so lucky to live so close to FitzGerald’s.

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A Day at the Market 

Mobile Post Office at the Oak Park Farmers Market, USPS, post office on wheelsThe mobile post office made it to the Oak Park Farmers Market! Hallelujah!

We got to the market around 10:45am and there were a couple of people in line ahead of us. I was excited to buy a few sheets each of the Summer Harvest stamps and the Coastal Birds postcard stamps, but their credit card machine was “down” and they were out of the postcard stamps. Since I was saving my cash for the farmers market, I only bought one sheet of the Summer Harvest stamps. So, what could have been a $40+ sale ended up being less than $10. (Bummer…) But on a high note, Orlando was working and he’s our old favorite from our Oak Park Post Office days, so it was good to catch up with him. Clearly the USPS made a good decision to have their cheeriest employee working at the market!

There was no special postmark, but they had a table with coloring books for kids and a free bubble mailer for participating in a survey about your experience at the window. I’m interested to hear how the post office fared financially because future participation will depend on Saturday’s sales. I’ll report back when we have our next council meeting in a couple of weeks. IMG_5206IMG_5209After we got our postage stamps, we hopped in the donut line for the famous farmers market donuts, bought a load of Mirai corn, and went home. (And of course, both the donuts and the corn were out of this world!) 

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NYE 2015 at the Golden Steer

Golden Steer Steakhouse Forest Park, ILFor the third year in a row, we had New Year’s Eve dinner at the Golden Steer. Each year, the crowd has grown. Two years ago, it was just Naoto and me. Last year, we added Karen to the mix. This year, along with Karen, we added four more people–our friends Jackie, Jim, Brett and Stacy. Ending the year with good friends, good steaks (and French onion soup, tasty salads, baked potatoes and cracker baskets) and good cocktails was the best way to say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015. New Years Eve at Golden Steer(I really need to do an official post about Golden Steer–its old school charm has not been captured properly in these pictures.)

After the Steer, we came back to our place and had prosecco cocktails and snacks. Jim made this Martha Stewart smoked salmon spread…soooo good! I made Chex Mix and Karen made sweets, including her famous toffee and caramels.

So far, so good, 2015.

Let’s keep it that way.

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So Long, John the Mailman

John the Mailman's retirement bannerJohn the Mailman delivered his last piece of mail on Saturday. Karen and I hung a simple banner in his honor. (I made it using these Paper Source labels on these Paper Source circle cards strung on this Air Mail twine.)  gift for john the mailmanWe left a little gift for John in our mailbox, but we also went down to the lobby to say goodbye. (There may have been tears.)

So far our new letter carrier is doing a commendable job.

It’s been kind of a slow mail week around here. I have a few letters to return and some Halloween mail to plan and some postcards to write. It’s supposed to rain later, so it just might be the perfect night to make some mail.

John-the-Mailman Retires

Save the Post letterpress cardA quick post today…

I know I blathered on about my letter carrier, affectionately know as John the Mailman, in this post, but he’s retiring this week after forty years of delivering mail.

The Forest Park Review featured a really sweet article about John this week. Our new letter carrier has some big shoes to fill…

 

P.S. Pictured is a card that Donovan made during her letterpress class with Rar Rar Press. I’m going to give it to John as a retirement card.

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In My Neighborhood: Little Free Library

Little Free Library Forest Park, ILI’ve been reading about Little Free Libraries popping up in cities all across the country. It’s an intriguing idea–build a tiny library, fill it with a few books and let people give and take on the honor system. It’s so community-driven and idealist…two things I love.

Imagine my surprise when Little Free Library recently popped up in front of a tiny house in my own neighborhood!

This house is only a block north of me, and one that I walk by almost every day on my way to get a coffee or go to work. It’s in a neighborhood of both houses and apartments a couple of blocks away from the train station. If you ask me, it’s a perfect neighborhood for something like this. People can pick up and drop off books on their way to their morning trains. Hopefully some of the neighborhood kids can find some titles in there eventually. Little Free Library Forest Park, ILThe little library house is surrounded by solar-operated twinkle lights, but I haven’t seen it all lit up at night yet. I don’t see any titles inside that I want to borrow yet (I am a huge user of our public library), but I have a few good classics on my shelf that I’m going to drop off later this week. Little Free Library Forest Park, ILDo you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? There’s a giant list of them here and a map here.

Speaking of reading…I’m going to go outside now and finish my book for book group this weekend. We’re reading Two Years Before the Mast. What an adventure!

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