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!

Tagged , , , , ,

Under the Tree

Presley's christmas stocking, Elvis stocking, made by ThimblewinderSanta was good to us again this year! presley's gift, christmas 2017Presley got a fantastic new toy that is already MIA. It came in a little party popper, that doesn’t pop because that would be scary for cats. It was a cute package though, as you can tell by Presley’s happy face. naoto christmas, podcast, yeti micI gave Naoto a Yeti mic so he can start his podcast in the new year. We’ve been talking about it forever, so it’s time! I also gave him some “high-end” instant ramen that shall have its own post here soon. It’s really good. I also gave him some new t-shirts from Sumo Fish and some new food socks. North Shore Distillery, Eye of the Newt, Letherbee Gin, AutumnalIn addition to the Putz church, Naoto got me booze…shocking, I know. He found North Shore Distillery’s fall release, Ethel’s Eye of Newt Cordial. I’m looking forward to trying it…or saving it for next Halloween. And he added to my Letherbee collection with their Autumnal release. I have been buying Letherbee’s seasonal releases for a few years now and they’re always delicious and unusual. Mitsubishi Kohitsu Shosha pencil 10B, CW PencilsHe also bought me two Mitsubishi Kohitsu Shosha 10B pencils. The lead is the softest made and oh my, is it ever! I promised myself I’d practice hand lettering this year (instead of giving up after five minutes) and these are perfect for that. egg-a-go-go cat tea towelAnd I got an Egg-a-Go-Go tea towel with the cutest cat carrying a parcel. And I got a new cat screen print from Fancy Seeing You Here. (Thanks to Melissa for giving Naoto the hint about this!) I’m so excited to frame him up and expand my desk art!

I still want to tell you about our Christmas dinner adventures, so…be prepared for more Christmas posts into the new year.

Tagged , , ,

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…

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery

A Cocktail Story at ch distilleryFor the second year in a row, Naoto and I went to CH Distillery in the West Loop for their Christmas pop-up, A Cocktail Story. I love a good theme party, so it’s right up my alley–all of the food and cocktails are based on the holiday classic, A Christmas StoryA Cocktail Story at ch distilleryI wish I’d taken pictures of the menu, because I can’t remember the witty names of our cocktails, but we started with bourbon (Naoto’s was a version of an Old Fashioned and mine was similar to a Manhattan) and moved onto tasty rosemary gin cocktails.  We ate classic snacks like deviled eggs, cheese balls, and fried rice (keeping with the movie’s Chinese Christmas dinner theme.) A Cocktail Story at ch distillery, eggnogFor me, the best part of the whole experience was Eddie’s Frozen Eggnog. (Eddie = Clark’s cousin in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.) It is so deliciously decadent. I’ve been thinking about it since I tried it last yearA Cocktail Story at ch distillery, eggnogCheers to the holidays once again!

Tagged , , , , ,

Holiday Cards 2017

holiday cards, 2017 christmas, hello lucky!, saturn press, brockton village

Hello from freezing Forest Park! I thought I’d share our 2017 holiday cards now that most of them have made their way to the destinations. I mailed most of them out mid-December with little fanfare. I didn’t decorate any envelopes this year. Sad, right? I did, however, finally use my very special J. Herbin anniversary ink.

The neon pink cards are from Hello Lucky. The cocktail cards are from Made in Brockton Village. The wintry birds are from Saturn Press, and as I’ve mentioned before, they don’t have a website which makes them the most charming stationery company ever in my book.

I’ve been such a bad letter writer this year, so naturally I’m going to put “be a better letter returner” on my new year’s resolution list. Hopefully this week I can respond to anything left in my stack so I can start 2018 with a clean slate.

Tagged , , , ,

Happy Christmas

Adami-Hasegawa Christmas pictureHappy Christmas from the Hasegawas!

Tagged , ,

The Last Plot 6 Post of 2017

plot 6, forest park community garden, community gardening, hunter boots, herb garden, raised bedThere’s a blanket of snow on the ground this morning, so what better time to talk about…gardening!

We put Plot 6 to bed right after Thanksgiving. It was kind of a sad year in the garden. Our tomato plants became infested with white flies so we barely had a harvest. To say I was devastated is an understatement since really, the only reason to garden is so you can enjoy deliciously ripe, home-grown tomatoes. Our kabocha squash, however, grew like gangbusters and delivered a dozen kabocha by fall. It was crazy and we’ll never grow one in our plot again, but it was a fun experiment and I’m glad we tried it. (Besides tomatoes, experiments are my other favorite part of the garden.) Our basil, parsley, lavender, and rosemary did really well, too and made great additions to cocktails and dinners over the summer. I’m 100% growing more herbs next summer. Herbs and tomatoes. That’s it. Except maybe some carrots at the beginning and end of the season. (Clearly I need to ponder on this all winter.)

morning glories, balcony garden, vining flowers morning glories, balcony garden, vining flowers morning glories, balcony garden, vining flowersOn the balcony, I was able to save lots of seeds from my various morning glories so I’m excited to plant those next spring. Sometimes I feel like such a dummy about seed saving. It never occurred to me to save them from my morning glories until my dad mentioned how easy it is. Hopefully these flowers will be making a comeback next summer! Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening

I got this book at the library this fall and I am looking forward to experimenting with micro-greens this winter (probably after Christmas when the doldrums of winter set in.) I promised myself I’d get through the holidays before making a mess of the kitchen with more plants. (The kitchen window is the only place safe from Presley’s teeth.)

Do you have any winter gardening plans?

Tagged , , , , , ,

December…Already?

naoto at thanksgiving thanksgiving table, vintage tablecloth, vintage dishes, table settings thanksgiving table, vintage tablecloth, vintage dishes, table settings thanksgiving food thanksgiving food naoto at thanksgivingIs it too late to share a few pictures from Thanksgiving?

It’s that time of the year again where I can’t believe it’s already December, yet this year seems like the loooooongest ever. My friend and I were talking about the famous Beyoncé pregnancy photo last night and I couldn’t believe that picture was from this year. (February to be exact.) Aren’t those twins toddlers by now? At the same time, I feel like summer was just here and we didn’t enjoy it enough and fall flew by in a blink.

Now we’re in the middle of the holiday season and time isn’t slowing down. The house is all decorated, but it’s still a mess because I haven’t put the decoration bins away yet. My goal for today is to get that done, vacuum and be ready to finish my cards in front of a Hallmark Christmas movie tomorrow afternoon. As far as other holiday goals go, I’d like to:

  • bake cookies
  • make some Chex Mix
  • host a tiny gathering (mostly because I want to make a cheese ball)
  • finish my cards by the 10th (and spend out most of my holiday sticker and card stash)
  • mail gifts to faraway friends before the 15th
  • rate all of the Hallmark Christmas movies
  • paint one of those ceramic Christmas trees
  • go to Chris & Heather’s 20th Anniversary Calendar Show
  • make some holiday cocktails for Hasegawa Happy Hour

Let’s see how I do with my list. Anything special on your holiday wishlist?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Petite Boutique 

Petite Boutique 2017, pleasant home, oak park, visit oak parkSorry for the radio silence around here. I’ve been typing and cutting and pasting new cards for Petite Boutique this weekend. If you’re in the area, stop by Pleasant Home in Oak Park tonight and tomorrow to shop handmade. It’s a really great show and I always love seeing friendly faces. Galaxie Safari, christmas card, vintage postage stamp, vintage typewriter, holiday greetings, greeting card

This is one of the new Christmas cards, inspired by the (wonderfully terrible!) Hallmark Christmas movies I’ve already started watching. I’ll share some more next week! Until then, have a great weekend!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Phantom Flight Night™ 2017

Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineIt’s that time of the year again–Phantom wine time! Earlier this month we hosted our THIRD annual Phantom Flight Night™, our little wine tasting gathering where we compare notes on several years of releases of Phantom wine. This year, we tasted 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. (2014 is available now at Trader Joes and other wine shops!) Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineThis year, I packed most of our Halloween decorations in the dining room since that’s where the party was. I labeled the bottles so we could easily identify the year and poured each person two ounces. This was the biggest Phantom Flight Night™ yet, so I had to borrow some wine glasses from Karen so we’d have enough for everyone. Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineKaren brought her grandma’s wine glasses. As you can see, wine glasses (right side) were, uh, a little smaller back then. Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine, meat and cheese trayKaren made her fabulous homemade pimento cheese and we served meats and cheeses and minestrone soup. The “other Karen” made Lucky Charms treats which were amazing. Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wine Phantom Flight Night, Bogle wines, Bogle Phantom, wine tasting party, halloween wine tasting, red wineThis year, I printed some wine tasting wheels so we had some wine language to work with. I’m terrible at discerning different tastes in wine, so it’s nice to always have a guide and some Trader Joe friends who’ve had some wine tasting training. Even though I’m no sommelier, I still find comparing Phantoms interesting. The blend changes a little bit each year (for instance the 2014 blend is 42% Petite Sirah, 34% Zinfandel, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot) and the finished wine is vastly different. Overall, 2012 came through as a favorite.

Every year I love this party more. Mainly because it’s an intimate group of fellow wine lovers, but also because wine, snacks, friends…simple. It’s the perfect October tradition before the busy-ness of the holidays begins.

P.S. Here are the posts for Phantom Flight Nights™ of years past: 2016, 2015

 

Tagged , , , ,