Tag Archives: adventures

It Feels Like Fall

I took this picture of Naoto last week when temperatures were still warm. It has been so cold ever since! We haven’t turned our heat on yet, but nights are cold and I’m wearing a jacket every time I leave the house. It’s amazing you can go from skirts and sandals to socks and jackets almost overnight. We had a light frost this past week, so I assume our garden is done…we need to go and clear off our dead plants, pick the last of the carrots, and plant our garlic so we can have a fresh start next year. I brought in all of the balcony plants I want to overwinter, so now I have to figure out where they’re going to live.

I’m looking forward to the weekend. Tonight, I’m going to a marujuana forum for Forest Park. Recreational marujuana is going to be legal in Illinois starting on January 1st so a lot of communities are deciding right now if having a dispensary or growing facility is right for them. It’s all been an interesting learning experience! Last time I live-tweeted it because it was so entertaining. And tomorrow is book club and live music at Goldyburgers! I can hardly wait!

Have a good weekend!

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The Garden is Still Growing

I haven’t been to the garden as much as I’d like lately. Naoto has been running down to harvest tomatoes and basil and herbs on an as-needed basis, but yesterday, we were both home and free to go together. As usual, our plot is a jungle of tomato vines, but this year, it’s also a jungle of overgrown herbs and nasturtium! Look at that nasturtium!! I just can’t believe how the plant took off. It seemed like it wasn’t going to do much but now it’s huge and it has lots of flowers inside the big poof a leaves. I just found a recipe for nasturtium pesto, so I think we might experiment with that soon…which is good timing because our basil is done. Some of our tomatoes were slow to produce this summer thanks to the white fly infestation that plagued the garden. But we’ve gotten a decent harvest from our Juliet and a few other heirlooms. We haven’t been overloaded with tomatoes like we have in the past, but it’s definitely enough for us to feel good about plot 6 this summer. I picked a bunch of zinnias, nasturtiums, and marigolds to make a little bouquet for my desk. The zinnias are as tall as me and still going strong. And in other happy garden news, my tiny carrots are coming in! I planted them kind of late in the spring and they were quickly overshadowed by the tomato plants, so I didn’t have very much hope for a harvest, but I think it’s going to be decent! I’m not quite ready to pick them all, but I wanted to do a little test. This variety is supposed to be only 2-3 inches big. We’ve never had luck with root vegetables, so I decided to try a tiny kind and I think it worked!

How is your garden growing? Any other ideas for my nasturtium bounty?

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Garage Galleries 2019

My last show for August was Forest Park’s Garage Galleries. It was my second year participating and this year was even better than the last. Our garage host, Mary, was fabulous and welcoming. She created a whole little snack station for our guests to enjoy, even bringing out a tray of pigs in a blanket around dinner time! Naoto manned the food and drink table, offering snacks and water and wine to all of the garage visitors. I shared the garage with Carolyn Dunn and Kennedy Shenberg. The Garage Gallery organizers are always so great about varying the types of work in each garage. I’m really liking my new double rack set-up. I don’t have as much space for my framed pieces though, so I’m still working on making that less crowded, but my cards are the bread & butter of the business so it makes sense to give them the most real estate. I’m hoping to have a new logo and sign before the holiday shows start up in November…eeks!

The top picture is a “limited edition” postcard I made for Garage Galleries. No one bought them so now they’re going to be thank you notes for the GG organizers and our garage host. Sometimes you try something and it doesn’t catch on…I really love that stamp though, so I’m going to bring it back as a “You’re a work of art” card again.

Next week, I’ll start preparing for the Brookfield Fine Arts Fest and Empowering Gardens Music, Art, and Wine event. I’m trying to be more proactive with my preparations so that I am not cramming at the last minute, or so I have time for last minute ideas. “Always trying and failing to be more organized” is going to end up on my headstone, I swear.

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Gel Plate Printing

A couple weeks ago, I spent an afternoon with my friends Katie and Robyn learning about gel plate printing. They are both experienced gel plate printers, but I had never done it before and didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have any stencils or tools (except paper!), but Katie and Robyn generously let me use their things and I had so much fun learning techniques and experimenting with layers of paint and stencils. Above is my stack of prints, all of the stencils are Robyn’s, so I won’t take credit for those. I’m going to cut down my prints and use them as postcards or backgrounds and accents in my Travelers Notebook. As usual, I wish I’d taken more pictures, but we were having so much fun and I pretty much always had paint all over my hands. As someone who makes things that require some precision and attention to detail, it was really fun to let loose and try something that is experimental and imperfect.

Last week I treated myself to a gel plate and some new paints so I’m looking forward to trying it out on my own. I think my biggest challenge will be cutting my own stencils. I’m confident I’ll ever have Robyn and Katie’s x-acto knife skills, but I have some ideas for new stencils I’d like to try to create. I’d better buy some new blades for my neglected x-acto knife first!

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Mid-Summer Update from Plot 6

 

We had a stretch of very hot and humid days a couple of weeks ago, making gardening a dreadful chore. Thankfully it rained a lot during that time, so the garden was on autopilot for a couple days.The good news is the rain washed off some of our white flies. The bad news is some of our early Black Krims split due to the uneven watering they received during the huge rains. So, no tomatoes yet, sadly.Naoto is really excited about the edamame growth. The edamame has gotten really tall and there are beans on them! I’m excited because I finally have a nasturtium flower among all the leaves. (You can see the orange flower peeking out on the left.) My lavender is still not blooming so I transplanted it last week. I think it was being shaded by my wayward zinnias. (I planted the zinnias in the center of the garden but the seeds moved during the big rains this spring.)

Our dill is huge and I need to look up some recipes to use a bunch of it. We’ve harvested so much parsley and basil already. It’s pesto city around here!

And the chamomile is growing like crazy but I missed harvesting the first bloom so hopefully another will come soon. I want to dry it and use it in a cocktail recipe and maybe some tea (though chamomile tea isn’t my favorite. I am a black tea or bust kind of gal!)

I cut some zinnias from the plantings around the garden. They’re “cut and come again” so hopefully people will help themselves as I did and we will have some continuous blooms around the garden, for ourselves and for the bees and butterflies. Zinnias make me so happy! They’re all so different and colorful and carefree (which is the opposite of how I feel today after dealing with my iPhone and photo storage all day…the good news is, my phone is busy uploading pictures so I have no reason not to finish my last book of the month tonight!)

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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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A Dispatch from the Forest Park Community Garden

Sorry for the radio silence this week. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been preparing the Forest Park Community Garden for the Forest Park Historical Society’s Home & Garden Walk. It’s the first year we’ve been featured on the walk and well, we had a lot of work to do! The garden usually looks fine, but we wanted to get some plantings done and clean some stuff up before we had official garden walk visitors. Some people in Forest Park don’t even know we have a community garden, so we wanted to be on the walk to raise awareness, increase our visibility, and hopefully get some new gardeners and people who want to be involved with the garden. The garden is officially ten years old in 2019 so there’s definitely some areas to refresh and improve, but money and man hours are always our challenge. We’ve been slowly rebuilding older plots and trying to repair things as needed. But July is really a great time to feature the garden because things are growing like crazy and most of our 55 plots are looking good! It was fun to show visitors what people are growing and how each gardener organizes his plot. These pictures were taken on Tuesday while I was doing some chores at the garden, but on Sunday it was sunny and hot. A few of us spent the day at the garden to host the tours and, even though we spent most of the day under a tent, I got a little sunburn. It’s been so hot here, and it’s supposed to be near 100 the rest of the week…thankfully it rained a ton today because the plants were starting to get dry and sad. This little future swallowtail is living in my dill right now. He’s a welcome visitor. So far this summer, we have harvested a ton of basil (pictured at the top) and some dill and parsley. (As always, I’m kicking us for not growing more spring vegetables but it was such a weird spring!) Our tomatoes are battling white flies again, but we have a few on the vine, so hopefully we’ll have a harvest soon. Naoto’s edamame is growing like crazy and our chamomile and carrots are doing just fine. It’s always an adventure in Plot 6 and around the garden!

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Japan Does It Better 25: Karaoke

In college, we took over a local bar every Tuesday night and sang bad karaoke songs and had a great time. Of course, I was young, drinking, and among friends, so it didn’t matter that I can’t carry a tune. I didn’t really care what the rest of the bar thought of me because I was a college kid out to have a good time. That’s the last time I enjoyed karaoke until I started going on our visits to Japan. Karaoke in Japan doesn’t happen in a dive bar among strangers; it happens in a tiny booth reserved for just you and your friends. Right upstairs from the train station by our hotel is a Big Echo, a karaoke chain in Japan. A couple years ago, we went karaokeing for the first time, just the two of us, which is kind of hilarious but also totally perfect.  Inside the Big Echo, you check in at the desk and tell them how many people are in your party and how long you’d like to sing. Then, they assign you a room based on your size. We’ve only ever gone with just the two of us, but even the smallest room is big enough for a cozy small crowd. Inside the booth, there’s a big screen, a couch, a table, microphones, menus, a device to run the karaoke, and a device for ordering food and drinks. The picture above it pretty much the room from the doorway…pretty small (as is everything in Japan) but big enough to sit and sing for awhile. Here’s Naoto, demonstrating the extensive sour menu. There’s also beer (obviously…it’s Japan) and non-alcoholic options. The food is mostly fried bar stuff, but there are healthier options too. We usually just go for late-night drinking snacks. Naoto loves singing old Japanese pop songs, so while I’m eating and drinking my sour, he warms up with a few of those. I have no idea what he’s singing about but the screen always has a fun little scene that may or may not go with the lyrics. It’s fun to see him getting all serious and nostalgic about the old music.  Once he warms up with Japanese songs, we perform duets of Cat Stevens, James Taylor, and Elvis. So, it’s pretty much like singing in our car on a road trip, except with a better sound system. There is a pretty extensive list of American pop music from all eras, so there’s never a shortage of songs. Once the time is almost up, the front desk calls to see if you want to add minutes. We usually add minutes because an hour goes so fast! I think by the time it’s all said and done, we usually end of paying ¥7000 ($65ish) for our food and experience. Not too bad for a late-night date.

As someone who doesn’t have great singing abilities, I love the private room so I can have fun with Naoto (or a bigger group of friends…someday we’d like to go with his sisters or our friends) without feeling self-conscious about picking a weird song or singing badly in front of strangers. So, to me, karaoke rooms are another example where Japan Does It Better! See how fun it is…

P.S. I haven’t done a JDIB post in so long! If you’d like to see more, go here.

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Compex 2019

Earlier this month, Naoto and I attended COMPEX 2019. We attended last year, and I went alone the year before and it is one of my favorite events of the year. The bourse consists of stamp and postcard sellers from all over the country. Almost everyone is super friendly and helpful, even if you’re not a stamp expert.  Because I’m not a rare stamp collector, it was a little intimidating when I first attended because I didn’t feel like I was really there for the “right” reasons. I was just attending to find vintage postage stamps I could use on my mail. But I quickly got over the intimidation because everyone was so nice and helpful and really, the show is all about getting stamp collectors together, no matter what kind of collector they are. I always visit the Stamp King because he sells full sheets, partial sheets (for when you don’t want to commit to a full sheet,) and even mixed bags of stamps. He’s also a local stamp celebrity. There’s a seller who has boxes and boxes of first day covers and random postcards where I can always find a few gems. This year, I found some pre-stamped postcards and first day covers of some of my favorite stamps. Naoto found the book stamps (top left corner) for me…he’s such an enabler! The first time I went to COMPEX, I made the mistake of buying a ton of low value sheets, so now I have a ton of one, two, and three-cent stamps. Last year, I decided I’d better buy some higher value stamps so that I didn’t have to put twenty-five different stamps on an envelope to make fifty-five cents. I got a nice mix this time, and now I need to use them up, and maybe make some stamp packs to sell in the shop, because my collection is growing out of control. It’s hard to break up a pristine vintage stamp sheet, but once I do, it feels so fun to use them up.

I didn’t take any pictures, but there are also exhibits of stamp-related things, usually by theme. And there are meetings for local philatelic groups and a table for young/new stamp collectors. The audience at COMPEX definitely skews a little bit older (and male, and white…) but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for the rest of us!

P.S. I just need to point out that it was Naoto’s idea to wear his Mr. Zip t-shirt to COMPEX…I love a man who appreciates a theme!

 

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13th Anniversary

Naoto and I celebrated our 13th anniversary on Sunday. It was such a perfect weather day–60s and sunny. spent the morning on the balcony opening our gifts and drinking coffee and then we went to the West Loop for brunch. Three cheers for our gift wrapping this year! Naoto’s gift came in a huge box, so I had to use roll wrap for it. I was able to fold some tucks into the wrapping so I had a little pocket for the wooden card I gave him. And Naoto used this lovely gold and yellow handmade paper for my gifts. He’s come a long way in his wrapping skills. The thirteenth anniversary gifts are textile and lace. I gave Naoto a pillow made with Japanese sashiko fabric. I think he really liked it. And he gave me an Irish table runner and some Irish tea, Barry’s Black, (which Presley’s head is conveniently blocking above.) We went to Saint Lou’s Assembly for brunch. We got there just as the kitchen was closing, so we were able to squeeze in our order and then enjoy leisurely cocktails and peanut butter & jelly soft serve after our meal. The cocktails were amazing, and the atmosphere was very casual and fun. We are looking forward to going back for dinner and frosé outside once the weather warms up again. After brunch, we stopped in Open Books right across the street. (Naoto was very into this Edward Hopper book.)Since we ate such a late lunch and didn’t want to venture out again, we made a mini cheese platter for ourselves and had a little happy hour on the newly lit balcony instead of going out to dinner. We drank yuzu & soda cocktails and finished out the day wrapped in blankets. I’m so thankful for such a gorgeous day, and for thirteen years with this guy.

 

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