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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Tiki Birthday Party

tiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki party, tiki drinks, man tais, cocktail umbrellaOver the weekend, James, Naoto, and I threw a tiki-themed birthday party for friends, Karen and Jackie. I LOOOOVE theme parties (as you may know) and I thought it would be really fun to jump into summer with a tiki theme. tiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki party, table setting, leis tiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki party, table setting, leis I did a simple table because we had a spread of fun food. I got the “centerpiece,” leis, napkins, and a couple of garlands from the Dollar Tree. I really don’t shop there often, but I went with my parents once and now it’s my go-to place for parchment paper and tissue. We went a couple of weeks ago and I was delighted to see that they had a bunch of tiki party things. (By the way, this is not a sponsored post.) tiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki party, table setting, leisEven though it was a small gathering, I made us little festive place cards with some peacock card stock and little puffy pineapple stickers from Paper Source. paper source kit, tropical leaves kit, tiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki party, table setting, leisI had these tropical leaves (an old Paper Source kit) leftover from a couple of summers ago, so I hung them up in the corner. They will likely stay up for the whole summer. paper source kit, tropical leaves kit, tiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki party, tiki drinks, blue hawaiis paper source kit, tropical leaves kit, tiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki party, tiki drinks, blue hawaiis, crab rangoonWe started the night with Blue Hawaiis and crab rangoon (purchased from a local thai restaurant.) James told me that flamingos are not tiki, but I couldn’t resist the neon pink flamingo stirrers (also from the Dollar Tree!)

tiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki party, tiki drinks, man tais, cocktail umbrella, tiki friendstiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki party, tiki drinks, man tais, cocktail umbrella, tiki friends, presleyWe stayed in the kitchen and ate and drank Mai Tais while Naoto finished cooking the dinner. He and James were in charge of the menu and I was in charge of decorating, cocktails, and cupcakes. Collaborative party planning is the best!  tiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki partyFor dinner, we had pineapple fried rice served in the pineapple, Hawaiian pizza, and an Asian slaw. I’m going to admit that the fried rice in the pineapple was sort of the catalyst for the whole party (thanks, Pinterest!) James and I watched a YouTube video to learn how to hollow out a pineapple and it was not as hard as it sounds, as long as you have a sharp knife and a little patience. (James executed it perfectly because I have neither a sharp knife nor patience.)

Naoto has really been into making his own pizza lately, so we decided he should make a Hawaiian version. And James made the slaw and he doesn’t use recipes. Everything was really tasty (which I can say because I only made the cocktails and the dessert!) tiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki party, table setting, leis, gift wrap, paper source gift wrap, flamingo, pineappleWe ended the night with gifts, cupcakes, and a last cocktail, the Admiral Montenegro, which I cannot recommend enough if you like slightly bitter tiki drinks. (The cupcakes were not-so-photogenic but taste-wise, Martha didn’t let me down!) tiki birthday party, aloha birthday, #jktikiparty, tiki party, tiki drinks, man tais, cocktail umbrella, tiki friendsHappy Birthday, Karen & Jackie! XO

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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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Cocktail Perfected: Boulevardier

Naoto and I had our first balcony Hasegawa Happy Hour last weekend. It was freezing. After a week of warm temperatures, the mercury plummeted on Saturday night, leaving me to shiver through our cocktail.

I love a good negroni, but since it was getting so chilly, I decided a warmer version of the drink would do the trick, so I made Boulevardiers. Basically, the gin is swapped out for whiskey. It’s warmer and a bit sweeter than a negroni. We drank them in two of my new favorite cocktail glasses, thanks to my parents’ thrifting luck and genius.

Boulevardier 

1 1/2 oz bourbon

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

3/4 oz Campari

Pour into a mixing glass and stir with ice until completely chilled. In my experience, that means stir for way longer than you think you should be stirring, 25-30 seconds. Strain into a pretty cocktail glass and garnish with an orange peel, if desired. Enjoy on your balcony on a chilly night, and come inside when you get too cold.

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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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RBG

Ahhhh..you guys! We went to see RBG, the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and it was so good! It focused a lot on her impact on equal rights before she became a judge. She argued six cases before the Supreme Court as a lawyer, all involving gender discrimination.

And her husband! Their love story is so beautiful…Marty supported her in her career from the moment they met. She said he was the first guy to acknowledge that she had a brain. He left a successful career in law to move with her to DC when she was nominated to a seat on the Court of Appeals by President Carter. And Marty lobbied for her to be considered for the Supreme Court. Bill Clinton said that within fifteen minutes of meeting Ruth, he knew he would nominate her. I teared up a bit when they showed the clip of Marty standing next to Ruth as she was sworn in.

Some of my favorite parts were the interviews with her talking seriously about the law, the part where she sees Kate McKinnon playing her on SNL, the part where she shows her array of fancy collars, and the clips of her badass workout. RBG movie outfit, crocheted doily Oh, and I wore a vintage crocheted doily in the collar of my shirt to get in costume for the movie…because I love a good theme.

Next up on my movie list is Won’t You Be My Neighbor? the documentary about Mister Rogers. I’m going to make everyone wear cardigans and sneakers.

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Write On Achieved

write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, spring cards, snow and graham, thank you notesIf it weren’t for the generosity of others and the need to write many thank you notes, I’m not sure I would have made it. But many thank you notes and almost everyone in my reply stack have been sent and I achieved thirty letters in thirty days…not that I wrote one per day or anything…write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, spring cards, cherry blossomsI feel like I’ve lost the art of letter writing. My pen pal from New Zealand was visiting last week and we had many conversations about mail and our hang-ups about it. write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, spring cards, cherry blossoms, Rifle Love StampHere are mine: I always feel like I have to write several pages, especially if my pen pal has written a lot. Then I get overwhelmed and I don’t write anything. write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, spring cards, cherry blossoms, Rifle Love Stamp, Migration GoodsOr I stress that the envelope needs to be really decorated and maybe I’m not feeling so crafty. So I don’t do anything.  write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, mōglea, la familia greenOr I feel like a postcard isn’t enough, especially if I owe someone a letter. So I don’t send anything. (Even though I have a really big collection of fun postcards.) write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, snow and grahamThe other thing we talked about is that we have enough stationery and office supplies that we will never be able to use all of it before we die. Pretty morbid, yes, but also how depressing if I am not the person who gets to use up my amazing selection of Japanese stationery! And mt washi tape! And pretty notebooks! And vintage postage stamps!write on, national card and letter writing month, show and mail, stack of mail, Migration GoodsSo…as always, I’m going to continue working on spending out. And I’m going to work on sending more postcards and small notes. So far this month, I’ve already sent a few postcards to friends so, maybe I’m on a roll!

How was your Write On experience?

P.S. If you have any questions about stationery, washi tape, stamps…let me know! I’ve sourced everything on Instagram (where all of these pictures originally appeared) but I’m happy to answer questions here too! 🙂

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Letters & Libations: Mr. Zip Cocktail

mr. zip cocktail, letters & libations, gimlet, gin cocktailHe’s always “on thyme!”

This is the cocktail we served at the Letters & Libations birthday party. I think it was a hit, based on the amount of gin consumed at the party. (We only served this cocktail and also beer and wine.) Naoto is the kind of bartender who tops off your cocktail when you’re not looking, though. The Mr. Zip is a simple gin gimlet, with a bit of a twist. We swapped out the lime juice for lemon and we added a hint of thyme to the simple syrup.

Thyme Simple Syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Handful of fresh thyme sprigs

In a pan on the stove, dissolve sugar in water. Once sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and add thyme sprigs. Steep for 30 minutes and strain into a container. Chill before using. The simple syrup will last up to a week in the refrigerator. This makes enough syrup for five cocktails. (You can adjust the amounts based on the size of your party, but the basic recipe is the same: equal parts sugar and water, and a handful of thyme.)

Mr. Zip Cocktail

2 oz gin

3/4 oz thyme simple syrup

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake, shake, shake. Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme. Enjoy with friends, preferably while writing letters.

 

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Vintage Book: The Post Office Book, Mail and How It Moves

The Post Office Book The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves was a gift from my pen pals in Wisconsin, Angela and Penny! It is a fun little paperback they found at a bookstore and sent to me last year. It’s super cute drawings really get into the nitty gritty of how mail gets from one mailbox to another. It was written in the 80s, but I think the illustrations are timeless, though things are a little more high tech now. The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves by Gail Gibbons, vintage children's books, books about the post officeIt starts with a little history of early “mail.” The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves by Gail Gibbons, vintage children's books, books about the post officeAnd then they jump into “modern mail.” The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves by Gail Gibbons, vintage children's books, books about the post officeThe Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves by Gail Gibbons, vintage children's books, books about the post officeThe Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves by Gail Gibbons, vintage children's books, books about the post office The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves by Gail Gibbons, vintage children's books, books about the post officeI like how it shows different types of mailboxes: mail slots, apartment mailboxes, rural mailboxes, and PO boxes. The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves by Gail Gibbons, vintage children's books, books about the post office The Post Office Book: Mail and How It Moves by Gail Gibbons, vintage children's books, books about the post officeIt’s fun to see how automated things were in the eighties compared to the older books from the fifties and sixties. And I think things are even more automated now. Based on my post office visit a few years ago, my understanding is that humans are only sorting things at the very end of the mail journey as letter carriers are sorting for their own routes.

Have you seen any other good kids books about the post office?

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Mail More Chocolate

Chocolove chocolate bars, mail more chocolate, non-gmo chocolate, snacks for writing letters

Happy Weekend! Do you have any plans? I am going to my friend Jackie’s art opening on Sunday at Oak Park Public Library and spending the rest of the weekend getting ready for my own craft show next weekend. I’m a terrible procrastinator so it’s going to take some discipline for me to start this early. I have a couple of new Mother’s Day card ideas that I’d like to make for the show so, I need to start making them if it’s going to happen!

In other, mail-related news: I got a stack of mail themed chocolate bars for my birthday from my friend James. (He’s always on-theme!) The stamps and cancellations on the wrappers make them a perfect letter writing treat to send to a pen pal or a snack for a letter writing party. The candy bars are made by Chocolove in Boulder, Colorado and it looks like almost all of their bars have a little mail theme. Cute, right?

Have a relaxing weekend! See you on Monday!

P.S. This is not a sponsored post. 🙂

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