Category Archives: thoughts

2014 Goals & Intentions

2014 Goals & IntentionsA little late to the resolution party around here…

On Saturday afternoon (my first free Saturday afternoon since the beginning of November) I sat down on the floor with the typewriter and the cat and hammered out my 2014 dreams…I say dreams because I’m the worst at resolutions. The. Worst. But a fresh new year is not a fresh new year for nothing…so why not resolve to do better?

*Spend Out: continuing from 2013

*return mail within 1 week: I fell off the mail wagon at the end of last year…I’d like to be better about responding more quickly and a week is doable without taking the fun out of it for me. I’m also planning to participate in Letter Month again this year.

*Hasegawa Happy Hour: Inspired by this post on Gina Sekelsky’s blog, I decided that Thursday nights–the only weeknight Naoto and I are home together–would begin with a happy hour. I”m not going to kill myself creating a new cocktail and snack every week, but I’d like to use the Hasegawa Happy Hour to try new snack recipes, to try new cocktail recipes and to connect with my husband (and our friends…because some weeks will have to include special guests.) And, because I’m still coaster happy, I’m dreaming of some special Hasegawa Happy Hour coasters.

*screen-free afternoons: This is a big one. I spend waaaay too much on the computer, on my phone and watching TV (or just having the TV on in the background). My goal is to spend at least two hours a day doing something non-screen related. Whether it’s reading, cooking, creating or writing a letter…no screens will be distracting me. (And napping doesn’t count as screen-free time.)

*schedule & routine: I am the worst about keeping a routine. I haven’t had a real routine since high school because my college schedule was a crazy mix of school, work and residence life stuff, my old job had a really varied schedule and now no two weeks are alike. But I need some discipline regarding going to the gym, cooking better meals for myself and for Naoto and getting the cleaning done.

*plant another garden: Why not?

*make bread: My dad gave me a bread recipe a long, long time ago…it’s time to pull it out and try my hand at bread making. I think it’s going to be another Homemaker’s Challenge.

*host 3 dinner parties: Just because.

*finish decorating the apartment: Waiting for the perfect furniture is one thing, but knowing what I want, saving up money for it and then not going out and getting it is inexcusable…

*more Chicago adventures: We tried to go to Eataly with our friends a few weeks ago. Eataly was a disaster but we had such a great time eating at Xoco and bar hopping. It reminded me that we need to explore more of our own backyard.

*take 3 vacations: We are planning another trip to Japan (sooner than later) and I’m heading to Ex Postal Facto in February. I really want our third vacation to be a road trip to DC (to see the National Postal Museum)…I’m still negotiating with Naoto.

*create a zine: This has been on my list for too many years. The idea is there, the time is there…no excuses.

*PLAY not perfection: I get too wrapped up in doing things well the first time. When I went to the printmaking class at the library last year, I threw it all out the window. I didn’t care if other people had more amazing carvings than I did. I didn’t care if my block was perfect. I didn’t care if I caught on right away. And I had so much fun. I want to remember that feeling this year as I try new things and experiment with old things.

I hole punched my goals and placed them front and center in my Franklin Planner. (Isn’t that Olle Eksell washi tape along the bottom perfect? It was my favorite find in Japan last summer.)

Are you a resolution maker? Any big dreams for 2014?

10 Things

Presley nappingHere are ten things I’m thinking about this morning before I get to work:

1. I need to be a better weekly housekeeper.

2. I should have finished cleaning out the spare room last week.

3. I can’t believe I got all of the grocery shopping done in one shot (okay, two shots if you count the fact that I had Naoto go to Jewel to grab some things on sale and our favorite ciabatta for the stuffing.) It will be a miracle if we really have everything we need for tomorrow’s dinner.

4. I’m more than excited to make this again this year. I’ve been craving it since September!

5. We got another new rug this week and I’m anxious to see how it fits…buying stuff for our home always feels so risky!

6. I’m meeting one of my pen pals in person on Friday. We’re going to Pieritz together.

7. We are making roasted cauliflower instead of green bean casserole tomorrow, but now I’m worried our meal might be too monochromatic.

8. Every weekend in December is already booked. I’m not used to being this social.

9. I’m excited to do my Christmas cards this year. Now that I’ve given up on making them myself, I can focus on writing in them and mail art.

10. I need to come up with a creative placecard idea for tomorrow…even though there are only four of us…it’s all about tradition.

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My Own Mail Call

mail callYesterday, I finally finished opening all of the mail call letters from my fellow volunteers. I’ve been opening a few each day since the flight…it’s been a really sweet way to read them. I left them on the sideboard in the dining room and every day picked up one or two to read…like a tiny uplifting break in my day.

I don’t know about you, but it’s really hard for me to read nice things about myself. I think even sitting alone and reading those nice comments made me blush and feel all “awe shucks” about things…

Mr SnuffleupagusMaureen, Honor Flight’s longest serving volunteer, gave me the vintage Snuffleupagus card. She said she couldn’t find her plain stationery, but I think she should know that vintage Sesame Street makes me ridiculously happy. This card is going to hang out on my desk for awhile. vintage war mail

And this card wins the award for making me laugh out loud. Paula pasted (actually pasted!) my face on this old WWII mail picture. It was so unexpected, I actually did a double-take, saying out loud, “Wait, is that meeee?”

My volunteer season is coming to an end this month. Tomorrow, Barb and I are packing up the mail one last time for 2013, next Wednesday is our last flight. I’m ready for a break from being the “postmistress” and I can’t wait to reclaim my home again (even with having the mail collection off-site, there is a lot of stuff to manage here at home), but I’m going to miss the warm hearts of my fellow volunteers over the long, cold winter.

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Naoto and his momThey say you can tell a lot about a man based on how he treats his mother.

Naoto was somewhat of a mystery in this department for most of our relationship, since I hadn’t seen him interact with his mom until we’d been married for five years. (Though, I did have some insight–he sends her $100 worth of American cherries every spring…if that doesn’t say love, I’m not sure what does!) When we finally got to spend time together with his mother on our first trip to Japan together, I had a chance to observe my husband in a different light. Naoto and his oka-sanNaoto is very kind and patient and giving and caring in everyday life. When he is with his mom, though, he is extra kind and patient and giving and caring. There is a soft strength that comes out when I see him speaking to his mother and holding her hand and helping her along. When I watch them interact–him explaining about his jobs, her teasing him about being “American fat” (P.S. He’s not!), him asking about her health, her talking about the grandchildren–I can’t help but melt a little bit and love my husband even more. Sure, maybe it’s the novelty…we don’t see Naoto’s mother very often…but I think their time together is very telling of their relationship. And it’s very telling of the kind of man he is.

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A Return to Normal

IMG_2629This has been the flu that won’t quit. Just when I start thinking I’m all back to normal, I’m not. I tried as much as possible to enjoy the holiday weekend, but also gave myself a break, staying home when I could and resting as much as possible (except for a late night creepy movie marathon on Saturday night!). I’m hoping for a better week ahead. (Disclaimer to quash any feelings of hope: Mom, I am not pregnant.)

I’ll be back this afternoon with my first post about Boston (which feels like a lifetime ago!) It’s a rainy and stormy day here, so I’m looking forward to catching up on all of the life I missed last week!

Loving Day


In 2007 Naoto & I did an interview for the Chicago Tribune. The article was written to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision that invalidated any state laws that outlawed marriage between interracial couples. Our friend Erica worked for the Tribune and when one of the reporters mentioned that she was seeking out interracial couples, Erica gave her our number. The reporter came to our home one night and sat in our living room and asked us a bunch of questions about our marriage, how our families responded to our relationship, how others responded to our relationship and how we felt about the fact that our marriage would have been illegal forty years before. A few nights later a photographer came to our home to take pictures of us (and Presley). We also took a little walk downtown Oak Park with him so he could get outside shots. I wish I could have seen all of those pictures because we had a great time…but it is no secret that I was thrilled to see my little Presley in the paper! (Can you tell that she reeeeally didn’t want to be held?) You can read the article in full here. (Please note: we over-used the word “like” in the interview. Also, yes, that was my hair.)

To be honest, before we did the interview, Naoto and I had no idea about the Lovings or Loving v Virginia. We knew interracial marriage was not a common thing, especially between an Asian man and a white woman (from an all-white farm town nonetheless), but we lived in such a progressive community, we never gave it much thought.

Sure, there have been occasional head-turns over the years.

Sure, there have been people who’ve asked me “what” Naoto is and people who have refused to learn his name because it’s different. (“Can I just call him Bob?”)

Sure, there was that guy at Trader Joe’s who said, incredulously, “Yoooouuuu’re Naoto’s wife???”

But, for the most part, because of friends we surround ourselves with and the community we live in, we are insulated from the interracial marriage “haters”. It isn’t until things blow up like a Cheerios commercial that we realize how important Loving Day is.

For us, Loving Day is just another day for us to celebrate what we are: just a couple of people who happened to meet at the right place in the right time who happened to be from two different continents, two different races and two different nationalities. And, as we celebrate forty-six years of legal interracial marriage, it’s hard not to think about Loving Day’s relevance in today’s fight for gay marriage. In 2007, Mildred Loving issued this statement regarding Loving Day and its relationship to our modern-day fight for marriage rights:

“I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry… I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

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A String of Lazy Days



I scored a really light work schedule this week (and next!) Unfortunately, any dreams of getting a ton done around the house have vanished. Presley and I have been such lazies for the past three days! I’ve been updating my calendar & address book, reading bits of books, watching TV, catching up on photography homework, playing fetch, cooking lazy meals (fried rice is surprisingly easy!) and nap roaming (where Presley & I move from room to room in a long string of catnaps…Presley is pictured lazing on the Roseanne couch, which really should be donated but P & I both love it).

In all fairness, I thought I’d be outside on the balcony sweeping and putting the furniture out for the spring or shopping for vegetable seeds for my community garden plot…but spring is never coming, it seems and I still haven’t heard from the community garden yet!

I’m at the mercy of Mother Nature and the community gardeners…


Kimberly AH One Year Later


I started this blog one year ago today.*

I’m one of those people who starts a journal and gives up after a few days, so I’m happy to know that I can stick with something and document a small piece of my life somewhere, even if it’s not on paper (my preferred medium).

In my first year around here I started a few series, and though I know I cannot promise to bring them all back with any sense of regularity, I do have every intention of sharing the rest of our home with you, to share more from the Little Red Toolbox and to attempt a few more Homemaker’s Challenges. Stay tuned…

Thank you to everyone who reads along, comments and shares this space with me. The internet is an odd place, but without it, I’m not sure where I would have found so many friends who like to talk about letter writing, postage stamps, crafts and cocktails…you guys are my favorites.

*I actually had a blog before this at (the link now leads you back here) where I blogged about pretty much the same thing I blog about here (everything? …nothing?). My mom was pretty much my only reader. I blogged as the “underachiever” on a now-dufuct platform–iWeb (there’s a reason iWeb didn’t last!) and now the archives have been moved over to WordPress but sadly without pictures…which, even though they are mediocre pictures, they tell a large part of the story… Someday maybe I’ll add them back in…or not.




Whew…the surgery is done. It was a success (as far as we know at this point in time) and the patient is doing well (although he is getting a little stir crazy, just as I predicted…I will be doling out chores this afternoon). The Week of Indulgence seems like a lifetime ago…

Our neighbor-friend Brett came down with some pureed potato and leek soup for Naoto. (They are pictured above…and yes, Naoto is wearing his Trader Joe’s sweatshirt–complete with name tag.) Between the soup, broth, jello, yogurt, pudding, Italian ice and water, Naoto has been eating like a soft foods king. And best of all–he can have coffee! When the nurse told us this, we both had a little celebration dance in the hospital room.


He’s starting out slowly, with a tiny cup, but it made him ridiculously happy…it is the little things that make life great, isn’t it?

We got a few inches of snow last night, so I think this afternoon we will make time for a walk…it will feel good for both of us to keep the cabin fever at bay and breathe in some snowy air (and maybe stop for a coffee on the way home!)

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts and good wishes! Naoto & I are very appreciative!

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Spend Out


When I read The Happiness Project, one thing that stayed with me most was the part where Gretchen Rubin talks about “spending out”. She confesses to having a hard time using brand new things for the first time (not wanting to ruin their “pristine glory”) and tells a personal story about a bottle of perfume that sat on her grandmother’s dresser for as long as she remembered. The bottle was full when her grandmother died, most likely because her grandmother was saving it for a special occasion.

I’m a total saver. In some ways, it’s a good thing. My savings paid for our wedding and the down payment on our apartment. But in many other ways, my saving is just crazy. I save my “good outfits” (just in case some fun, unexpected plans come up) instead of wearing them to work or to run errands. I save gift cards for the perfect purchase. (We still have three gift cards from our wedding almost seven years ago.) I save the snacks I bring home from Japan. I save the “good” pens for the “right” use, as if I don’t deserve to enjoy writing out my to-do list. I save the good stationery for special occasions (which, for the record, never happen). I save scrapbook supplies because I never think I’m good enough or creative enough to use them the “right” way. I save good art in the closet because I’m afraid to mess up where/how I hang it. I save (as pictured above) fancy paper for juuuust the right project. (Full disclosure: this is just a small portion of my paper collection…the rest is in bins in the closet. Shall I take a break while you call the Hoarders people now?)

I don’t think I’m alone in my saving (hoarding). I often hear to other crafters lament that it’s hard use up their “best” supplies. I know other letter-writing lovers who talk about “hoarding” their vintage postage. I know people who have a hard time making the first pen mark in a brand new journal. I have a set of teacups that my mother received as a wedding gift that sat in its original box in her attic for thirty-nine years before she gave them to me. (A year later, I have yet to use these teacups.)

One of my goals for 2013 (and beyond) is to spend out–to use up or wear out everything I’ve been hoarding. I am going to break out the new dishcloths that my mom gave us for Christmas in 2011. (See how crazy I am?) I am going to use up my fancy papers, even if it means dreaming up reasons to use them. I am going to spend the gift card stash and wear the good clothes until they cannot be worn anymore. I am going to hang up all the art, even if it means patching a few mistakes in the walls. I am going to crack open the journal I made five years ago and fill it up with messy handwriting. I am going to use up ALL of my stationery (I’ve actually been doing well using up this lovely stuff Naoto bought me!) I am going to fearlessly use my typewriter, knowing I can easily buy more ribbon for it, and use my vintage Dymo label-maker knowing I can buy more tape for it. And…I’m going to use up my washi tape–which is by far my most-hoarded supply. I don’t want my craft stash to become the perfume bottle of my existence.

Are you a saver? Is there something you would like to use up this year? Are you a spender? Any words of wisdom for the savers?

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