Stationery Christmas Gifts

snail mail christmas gifts, baum kuchen, greer, constellation co, office supply giftsNaoto hit it out of the ballpark for me this Christmas. He went with the always popular stationery theme. snail mail christmas gifts, greer, office supply giftsHe did a lot of shopping at Greer, THE best stationery store in Chicago. He found a couple of enamel pins, a travel eraser, and a tiny matchbook notebook. He also got a calendar, but I’ll talk about that in my annual calendar post. Japan post enamel pin, Japanese mail stampHe gave me a post box enamel pin (which I may have directed him toward.) And this very sweet Japan post rubber stamp of a girl mailing a letter. Niconeco Zakkaya is one of my favorite online places for Japanese stationery. They offer so many unique things from indie designers and small makers. He also gave me some letter socks from Constellation & Co. This makes my third pair of mail-themed socks so maybe a sock post is overdue. Baum-Kuchen, travelers notebook, superior laborAnd he gave me a cherry blossom stamp and a gorgeous Superior Labor pouch from Baum-Kuchen. Baum-Kuchen, travelers notebook, superior laborI’ve been trying to use my Travelers Notebook more for the past couple of years…there’s still work to be done to get into a good habit, but I’ve found that using nice things is a great incentive. I bought a matching pouch by Superior Labor when we were at the Traveler’s store in Japan, so I’m very excited to get everything set up for 2019. I’ll share more about Travelers and my notebook soon!

Now, I’m working on getting my desk organized so I can get back into the habit of making things again. A fresh desk for a fresh start in 2019…that’s the goal.

We are going to a New Year’s Eve party at our friends’ house tonight–same as last year. And tomorrow, hopefully I’ll have the energy to take down some Christmas decorations…I LOVE the lights during the season and I’m always sad to see them go, but I also love how fresh and bare our house looks with all of the extra stuff put away. But, even still…it’s one of the more depressing chores of the new year.

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

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2018 Holiday Cards

Christmas cards 2018, Kate Spade, Snow and Graham, Paper Source, PapyrusHappy Christmas Eve! We both worked today so we decided to stay in tonight, wrap up some last gifts, eat tamales, and watch the yule log on the Hallmark Channel. Naoto is currently napping in the chair.

I wanted to send my holiday cards out by December 10th and I MADE IT! It’s pretty much the only thing I accomplished in time this season.  Karen and I got together to write cards one night and then I worked through the alphabet over the next two days to get them done. Naoto even did a few this year which was a nice help. (He refused to participate in the envelope decorating though…)

We sent a few different cards out again this year (pictured at the top:) Cocktail Santa by Kate Spade, Season’s Greetings stamps by Snow & Graham, ’tis the season by Paper Source, and Sending Christmas Wishes and Candy Cane Bird, both by Papyrus. I filled out the list with some of the pretty letterpress birds leftover from last year.

I bought a bunch of Christmas washi tapes in Japan, so I used those to adorn the envelopes. Nothing fancy, just a strip on the bottom or up by the stamp.

Christmas cards, blue box, feed your mailbox, #feedyourmailbox, holiday greetingsI always try to shop for our cards after Christmas or during the Paper Source warehouse sale, but that often means having several designs to choose from. (Because it’s hard to find enough of the same design for our list of 50+ people.) It gets complicated keeping track year-to-year if I don’t use up a box. (I wouldn’t want to send the same card twice.) Next year, the plan is to get back into making our own…I should start now. #goals Christmas cards, blue box, feed your mailbox, #feedyourmailbox, holiday greetings, neighborhood mailboxEveryone always asks why I don’t sent my own Galaxie Safari cards out. Because the vintage stamps are sometimes hard to find and come in limited quantities, I’d rather save them to sell rather than sending them out. Plus, since I pay for the cards, envelopes, and stamps as a business expense, I’d have to “buy” them from myself and work out the taxes, which just seems silly at this point. And really, I just love shopping for stationery. I’m not sure I’ll be able to stop myself if I’m out and about during the holiday sales this week.

Did you get all of your cards out in time? We bought some New Years postcards in Japan so we’ll need to start on those soon! Nothing like ending the year with a lot of mail…just the way I like it!

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Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour

 

Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Omotesando, Tokyo, JapanTraveling to Japan in the fall meant it was “planner season.” All of the 2019 planners and calendars were out and huge planner displays were featured at all of the big stationery stores. Naoto was in the market for a Hobonichi this year. He’s doing freelance translation work now and needs something a little more detailed than his tiny planner from 2018. We made a little pilgrimage to the official Hobonichi shop, Tobichi, in Omotesando one afternoon. The facade of the shop is pictured above, an amazing patchwork of weathered wood that distinguishes it from the other houses and buildings in the neighborhood. Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Omotesando, Tokyo, JapanWe didn’t take many pictures inside the shop because they were filming for something, but Naoto took this one of me checking out the accessories. We ended up buying our 2019 Hobonichi Techos at Loft because Loft offers tax-free shopping*, which saved us several yen on each of our planners and accessories. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Hobonichi stamp, Frixion stampBut I bought a little Hobonichi stamp (pictured above with two new Frixion stamps) at Tobichi and it was fun to see all of the Hobonichi products in a bright little shop. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, When we got home, Naoto was excited to open his planner up and get started. So, we held our first annual Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour on “Black Friday” and it was so much fun! Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Calendar CocktailWe ate leftover veggies and dip from Thanksgiving and pretzels with blue cheese mustard and I made Calendar Cocktails (which were really just Cynar Manhattans.) I showed Naoto all of the bells and whistles of the Hobonichi and he started filling out December.  Naoto has seen my Hobonichi before, but he was really impressed with how flexible it is to use. Also, I have to say, the layout of the Japanese version is way better than the English version. The hourly timing is better and there’s a small area for a checklist, still leaving plenty of room for journaling or other notes on the main pages. I may have to get the Japanese version next year, or use my vast collection of washi tapes and stickers to define areas on the daily pages for myself. I’ll have to experiment and report back. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, Hobonichi store, Tobichi, Calendar layoutNaoto refused to use washi tapes and stickers on his monthly pages…but I think I made up for it with my December. Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour, PresleyI sort of feel like recreating this party with some friends who like to decorate their planners. I like to get birthdays and other special days documented on my monthly pages at the start of the year, so I can use my old planner as a reference. I still need to set up my 2019 planner, so Hasegawa Hobonichi Hour Part 2 could still happen.

Cheers to an organized December!

*Many larger chains and even some smaller stores offer tax-free shopping to tourists in Japan. You usually have to spend a certain amount and you always have to present your passport, but it’s a great savings if you are buying a lot of stationery and other souvenirs. So, pro-tip: carry your passport with you everywhere in Japan!

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Christmas: A Cocktail Story…A Tradition

Christmas A Cocktail StoryFor the third year in a row, Naoto and I held the Galaxie Safari Christmas Party at ch Distillery. Every December for the past few years, the distillery changes their menu to an A Christmas Story theme. I’ve written about it before here and here.cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distillery cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distillery We enjoyed a couple of cocktails, a grilled cheese, and some potato wedges. cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distilleryNaoto celebrated his status as Employee of the Year for the second year in a row…cheers, hasegawa happy hour, ch distillery, eggnog, moose glass …and I still regret not ordering a second cup of eggnog…there’s still time to return before the season is over! naoto, kimberly and presleyOh, and Wednesday was the seventeenth anniversary of the night I met Naoto…isn’t that crazy?! (Here’s an old blog post about that.) We took a little family selfie to mark the moment…you can tell Presley was really happy to participate.

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To Japan & Back

Argh! It’s been a lifetime since I’ve blogged and real life has taken over. In October/November, Naoto & I took a trip to Japan, our first vacation in over two years! So, getting ready to travel and then adjusting to time and jumping back into craft show prep (I had 2 shows in November) and then Thanksgiving and now Christmas preparations…well, I haven’t had time to share much. But almost everything in our apartment is decorated and cards are done, so blogging will happen again!

I have so much to share about our trip and obviously Christmas preparations…I hate to be away from the blog this long, as it really has become a nice way to connect with people and to remember what I’ve been up to in previous years…kind of my own Facebook memories.

Anyway, thanks for sticking it out with me. I’ll be back this week with a holiday season update and then we’ll see…maybe Japan fits in better in January when the Christmas glow has worn off. We’ll see what happens and how much holiday goodness I can round up around here.

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In My Mailbox: Vintage Recipes

vintage recipes, chiffon cake, old recipes, recipe boxMy pen pal Danielle has been sending me a string of vintage recipes lately and I love it! Each on is a little time capsule from days when sweets and treats were most often homemade and sometimes a little strange. (At least strange compared to what we’re used to eating nowadays.) This is my little collection from the past few letters. vintage recipes, chiffon cake, old recipes, recipe boxI’m most interested in trying this one. (I keep forgetting to add butter scotch chips to Naoto’s shopping list.) I love how it’s handwritten, creased, and well-used. It sounds very sweet, right? Maybe I need to do an Instagram Story from my kitchen so we can all be surprised at the outcome! vintage recipes, chiffon cake, old recipes, recipe boxAnd who doesn’t love a chiffon cake? I don’t think anyone makes these anymore. (Or maybe we just don’t call them chiffons anymore?) It sounds so light and fluffy. I wish I had a reason to bake a cake this week. vintage recipes, chiffon cake, old recipes, recipe boxThe fact that someone clipped this out of the newspaper and wrote, “MAKE AGAIN” on it makes me verrrrry curious. It’s called Desperations for goodness sake! I can’t picture what the finished product looks like…any ideas?vintage recipes, chiffon cake, old recipes, recipe boxHere is where I draw the line… Canned pears and pimento cheese? Topped with green pepper? Nope. (I don’t think the salad dressing looks bad though…)

I wouldn’t eat that…would you?

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Cocktail Perfected: Twentieth Century

Twentieth Century Cocktail, vintage cocktailsI’ve been working this week on decorating and pulling out some of my Halloween mail art supplies. I’m hoping to have everything done tonight so I can enjoy the season and maybe make a cheesecloth ghost or something. It was really hot on Wednesday, so I was able to finish the balcony. Temperatures dropped yesterday and leaves are actually falling, so I’m definitely feeling like getting cozy and reading spooky books this weekend.

Ok, so the Twentieth Century is not a true Halloween cocktail, but there is a hint of chocolate so we can consider it grown-up Halloween candy-esque. I had this cocktail for the first time at Fitzgerald’s a few years ago and it’s a favorite classic cocktail of mine. It was created in 1937 as a nod to the Twentieth Century Limited, a train that went between Chicago and New York City from 1902 until the 1960s. You might think it sounds weird with the creme de cacao and the lemon…it is strange but it works. Trust me.

Twentieth Century Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces gin

3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc (We use Cocchi Americano if we have that on hand instead.)

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 ounce white creme de cacao

Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake until fully chilled and strain into a coupe. Enjoy on a chilly fall night. (Or a warm summer night…it works.)

P.S. Two true Halloween cocktails: Purgatory and Corpse Reviver #2

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In My Mailbox: Halloween Mail…Candy Included

Last year, Donovan surprised me with the best kind of Halloween mail, the kind with candy! She mailed a package of pumpkin Peeps with a little note taped on the top. It was so fun to receive and I’m trying to keep it in mind when I send out my Halloween mail this year. Happy October, everyone!

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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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In My Neighborhood: Empowering Gardens

empowering gardens inc, forest parkEmpowering Gardens is one of those unique places that makes me thankful I live in Forest Park. It is a local garden center with a mission to provide job opportunities for people with disabilities. Everyone who works there is so knowledgable and friendly. And EG offers such great plants, definitely heartier than some of the stuff at the big box garden centers. Plus, their prices are competitive, which means you can buy more and help a good cause.empowering gardens, fall pansies, fall flowers, garden center, mumsRight now, they have a gorgeous array of pansies which love this fall weather that we’re just dipping into, and tons of mums–tiny ones and giant ones in all different autumnal colors. empowering gardens, ornamental pepper, fall flowers, garden centerThey also have a few varieties of ornamental peppers, which are so cool! (I’m kicking myself for not buying this one.) They also have some ornamental cabbages, fall grasses, cold weather vegetables, and plenty more. Pretty much everything you need to give your porch or garden a boost for the new season. empowering gardens inc, forest parkHow cute would one of these be on a Halloween porch? empowering gardens inc, forest park, Naoto at Empowering GardensWe bought a couple of small mums and this really neat black plant…I need to clear off the balcony of all the dead summer stuff and I’ll share the living fall version next week. (It’s really a mess out there on my lanai!) I really wish I could trust myself to water the pansies because they have so many stunning colors! And, this Saturday, I’ll be at Empowering Gardens selling my cards at the Music, Art & Wine event! I’m so excited to participate in this event that combines my love of gardening with my love wine and music and handmade art!

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