Category Archives: Oak Park

Petite Boutique 2019

This week I’m preparing for another Petite Boutique! Prepping for this show always reminds me of how quickly the year goes…I can’t believe the holiday season is back again. This is my fourth year at Petite Boutique, which you may remember was my first ever craft show! Petite Boutique kicks off my holiday show season–I have three shows in November and one in December. If you’re local, this page has all of the information on where to find me this season.

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Church Lady

So, I’ve been at my job for three weeks now and so far so good. It is really hard being the new person…I haven’t been the new person in so long, I’d forgotten how unsure I would feel so much of the time as I get to know the rhythms and routines of a new place. But everyone is super nice and welcoming so I feel like I’m slowly getting my footing.

In case you didn’t notice by the title, I’m working at a church doing administrative work. It’s still part time, so I have plenty of time to devote to Galaxie Safari, but it’s more hours and more regular hours than my previous job, which is a good change. I really enjoy office work (Is that weird?) and I’ve been looking for an office job for quite some time, but it’s been difficult to find part time work with a company or organization that I felt good about. The church is very progressive (which matches my sensibilities.)

I have to tell you how serendipitous getting this job feels! In 2013, Anne from my book club passed away and she had been a member of this church. I went alone to her memorial service and noticed how diverse and friendly the congregation was. So many people got up and spoke so fondly of Anne, you could tell the community really valued her. So when I started looking for a new job, I was delighted to discover that the church looking for someone to work in the office was Anne’s church. I applied and interviewed (where we talked about Anne!) and got the job. The timing was perfect. The church is currently in a temporary location (at another church in the area) because they had a fire last year and are rebuilding. My commute is about a mile walk right now, and it will be about the same when we get back into our own church next spring. It’s a nice little stroll in the morning, that I’ve actually been enjoying, even in the cold. (But ask me again in January!) I get to walk through Mills Park, which is right by Pleasant Home where we used to hold book club and where I sell at Petite Boutique every November!

So I’m embracing a new routine, getting out of the house a little earlier in the mornings, and the discomfort of not knowing what I’m doing…some change is good, right?

Art Dans La Rue 2019

The reason I haven’t been reading is because I’ve been watching too much television and prepping for last week’s Art Dans La Rue. It was my first show of the summer and it went really well! It didn’t rain–the forecast was sketchy all day, but it ended up being hot and sticky but dryyyyy thankfully!

It was my first show sharing a booth with someone and it was so much fun! Alicia was such a great partner and even though we were selling the same product, our styles are so different that it didn’t feel like we were competing for customers. At one point, someone came into our booth and fawned over Alicia’s fabulous illustrations and funny pop culture cards and as they were leaving, the woman said, “Honey, your dad would love these!” about my cards. I felt very on-brand in that moment. It was also my first show testing out two card racks. I outgrew my first rack a long time ago, but I’ve been waffling between a floor spinner, a tabletop spinner, or just getting another rack. I don’t love that my set-up is less interesting now, but as long as I have a six-foot table, I can fit most of my frames along the side. Alicia was nice enough to let me use her tea crate for my extras. But I really think it helped my sales to have all of my designs visible. (I had been putting overflow cards in a bin.) I sold out of some designs that I didn’t think were popular. Apparently, if people can see your product, they might like it and buy it…who knew?Alicia had to leave early, so we moved our table to the center of the tent to finish out the night. As usual, I regret not taking more pictures. The street was crowded with people enjoying beignets, crepes, wine, baguettes, carrying flowers and browsing the art. It’s such a joyous little fest!

I need to work out my merchandising plans for Garage Galleries later this month. And I need to refill my card and envelope stock so I can make more product…it’s going to be happily busy around here for the next two weeks!

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Upcoming Summer Art Shows

August is almost here and I am breaking out the tent for some outdoor art shows! I’ll be back at Art Dans La Rue on Tuesday, August 6 from 2-9pm. I’ll be sharing a tent with my friend Alicia from Spotted Kettle Studio and we’re calling ourselves The Mail Truck because we want to buy a mail truck and sell cards on the go…but we need a truck first. (Seriously, if you know anyone with a spare mail truck…)

Last year it poured during Art Dans La Rue so hopefully this year the weather is better. In spite of the rain, it was one of my favorite shows last summer. Beignets and French wine and a poodle parade…what’s not to love? And at the end of the month, I’m returning to Garage Galleries here in Forest Park. Another favorite, we’ll be back in a Forest Park garage with other artists showing (and selling) our work. It’s such a great local event for Forest Park and I just love how casual it is. I haven’t heard where I’ll be placed yet, but I’m looking forward to meeting more new-to-me artists and neighbors in Forest Park.

As always, I update my Upcoming Shows page as I schedule them. I have two in September then I’m done until November unless something changes. I’m always looking for new shows to add to my list so if you know of anything (especially in Chicagoland or the Midwest,) I’d love to hear!

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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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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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