Tag Archives: adventures

Out on the Lanai

blue hawaii on the lanaiIt’s been really perfect spring weather the past few days. We had a bad hot streak, but since the beginning of June, the weather has been mild, even chilly! blue hawaii on the lanai, kimberly and naotoLast Monday, after the gym and the garden, we enjoyed our annual anniversary Blue Hawaiis before dinner. It was just warm enough to feel like summer. first lanai dinner 2018We also had our first dinner on the lanai last week. (Naoto made this from Smitten Kitchen.) Last year I don’t feel like we enjoyed our balcony enough so I’m determined to get out there as much as possible this summer. We have a new furniture arrangement and have cleared off some other unnecessary things, so hopefully it will be more enticing.

I had the brilliant idea to plant our pots in rainbow order this summer. (You know how I love my ROY G BIV-ing!) It ended up being way more work than I bargained for…mostly finding the right kinds of plants to work with our sun situation…our balcony is pretty shady. But every summer I feel like I don’t have enough yellows and oranges out there, so this was a nice way to force myself to branch out. Of course, I love it, but I’m already deciding on color combinations for each pot for next summer!

Anyway, behold the rainbow…pink impatiens, container garden, lanai garden, balcony gardenmixed pot, pink flamingoes, garden gnomesred petuniasred geraniumorange petunias, orange geraniumyellow petunias, yellow marigoldsmixed greenslobeliapurple flowers, impatiens, story night petunias, fairy flowers starry night petunias, night sky petuniasThe “greens” are a bit of a mess right now because my wooden window box is falling apart and because I’m waiting for my climbers to grow. Hopefully it will fill out as summer rolls along. 

Do you have any favorite flower color combinations? I’m really into yellow and hot pink right now.

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Gyu-kaku

Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurantsNaoto and I celebrated our 12th anniversary last Saturday! We had plans to go to a new cocktail bar called Prairie School, but it unexpectedly closed for good the week before our anniversary. (It wasn’t even open a year!) I was super bummed. But then I read about Gyu-Kaku, a Japanese BBQ chain that came to Chicago a couple years ago. I knew Naoto would be into it–he remembers going in Japan–and I figured it would be something different and fun. It’s definitely not really a romantic place…it’s pretty bright and loud and open and you’re working together to cook your food, so if you’d rather have a more traditional special occasion with your partner, maybe this isn’t your place. That being said, a group dinner here would be a blast. (And of course it was perfect for us since we’re not really white tablecloth kind of people.) Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, lychee cocktail, Asahi beerWe started with an Asahi beer and a lychee martini while we pursued the menu for the best options for the two of us. You can order a la cart, or you can do different levels of prix fixe options. Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, Gyu-kaku saladWe opted for the “samurai” menu that included starters of miso soup, salad (pictured above,) spicy tuna volcanoes, and beef bibimbap. And for grilling, Kalbi beef, miso skirt steak, rib eye, garlic shrimp, chicken, and vegetables. Oh and mochi ice cream for dessert. It was plenty of food for both of us. Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, grilling meatsThe servers give pretty good instructions about placement and timing for the various meats. No one wants to eat raw chicken.  Naoto did most of the grilling, but I helped with the vegetables. Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, grilling meatsThere are three sauces to accent the food, sweet, sour, and spicy. The meats are marinated but the sauces are perfect little accents to balance the richness of the meal. Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, mochi ice creamOur dessert was green tea and strawberry mochi ice cream. A few bites of each was a perfect ending to our dinner.

Next time, I think we will probably order a la cart, mainly because there are different sides and meats we’d like to try in place of the prescribed choices with the prix fixe menus. They even have some summer specials that look really fresh and tasty. Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ, west loop restaurants, cherry blossom cocktail, asahi beer Cheers to the next twelve.

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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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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 Party Decorations

letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorationsNaoto was a little worried about party decorations so I told him I’d handle it. I love making garlands and I already had a bunch of supplies leftover from last year’s Write On Party.letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorations, oh happy day paper airplane

I just strung a bunch of airmail envelopes from the ceiling and then made a garland with First Day Covers and old postcards from my vintage paper drawer. And for the “centerpiece” I made a giant paper airplane based on this Oh Happy Day tutorial. I just used eco white roll wrap from Paper Source and drew lines with a pink and blue Sharpie. Then I used this tutorial to fold the plane. I haven’t folded a paper airplane since grade school so I needed a little refresher course.

letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorations, oh happy day paper airplanePresley was impressed.

letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorations, kraft paper tablecloth, post office in many languages letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorations, kraft paper tablecloth, post office in many languagesNaoto made a kraft paper tablecloth for me with “post office” written in several languages and he even drew the Japan Post mascot for me! We scattered some airmail envelopes on the table with the stationery and called it done. Simple but on-theme. letter writing party decorations, letters & libations, paper decorations, mail decorations, kraft paper tablecloth, post office in many languages, Presley the cat, vintage stamp holder mail truckPresley enjoyed pushing the mail truck off the table. She doesn’t like being left out of the letter writing fun.

Simple, and at the end of the day, everything is reusable (especially for National Card & Letter Writing Month happening now!) and recyclable!

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Letters & Libations

letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthday, birthday cake, kays bakeryFor my birthday this year, Naoto threw me a Letters & Libations party, complete with a theme cocktail, letter writing, and lots of friends. It was so fun and a perfect beginning to a new decade. My only regret is that we didn’t get more good pictures… letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthday So, about the cake…we got it at our local bakery, Kay’s. When Naoto ordered it, he asked if they could do red and blue (airmail colors!) and draw an envelope on the cake. Simple, right? I mean, and envelope is a rectangle with a triangle inside. (Even I can draw an envelope and I’m terrible at drawing!) They said they couldn’t do an envelope but they could do a pencil and a notebook so he figured close enough…well…that’s what we got. Funny, right? It still tasted delicious. Birthday cakes are my favorite…nothing fancy, just white cake with buttercream frosting.

letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthday letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthdayWhen Naoto sent out the invitations, a few people wondered what a letter writing party was. I was feeling a little nervous about making my non-letter-writing friends write letters, but it all worked out in the end and almost everyone wrote a letter! I even had some Mr. Rogers stamps on hand for people to use and Naoto had some special stationery made for me. (I’ll share that soon!) I was so happy to see tables of friends writing letters and drinking cocktails at my dining room table. It was really the best birthday gift ever. (Confession: I didn’t write a letter!) letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthdayWe ate Freddy’s meatballs (pretty much a party standard around here) and Lou Malnati’s pizza and salad, cheeses, chips and salsa, and Karen made her famous pimento. letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthdayNaoto turned my desk into a bar and mixed up a signature cocktail for us…I’ll share that soon, too.

My heart is full, and I’m well-stocked for National Letter Writing Month.

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Write On 2018

write on, write on challenge, hello lucky, eggpress, national letter writing monthTomorrow is April and National Letter Writing Month and the beginning of another Write On challenge! I like Write On a bit better than Letter Month because it’s more removed from Christmas card season and the expectation is looser–write 30 letters during the month of April. I’m hoping to actually finish this challenge after my failure in February. As usual, I have a nice stack of letters that need a reply, some thank yous to finish, and a drawer full of stationery. I ordered the Write On party pack again and I’m planning to have a little letter writing gathering or two this month. One of my pen pals is flying in from New Zealand so there will definitely be some letter writing time planned around her visit. Here on the blog, I’m hoping to post mostly mail related things, too. I’ve been saving some things for the most wonderful time of the year!

Are you participating in the challenge? I love the kits (pictured above) this year! Those little mailboxes are perfection.

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From Our Herd to Yours…

galaxie safari, vintage postage, vintage typewriter, greeting cards, buffalo Last month, I did a custom order of buffalo themed thank you notes for a soon-to-be-mom’s baby shower. I didn’t have any buffalo postage stamps, but I did have this 1960 World Forestry Congress stamp that features a buffalo, a deer, and a hiker. galaxie safari, vintage postage, vintage typewriter, greeting cards, buffalo It was fun working on something new. Sometimes I see working with stamps and typewriters as a limitation…I’m limited in the designs I can come up with because vintage stamp designs are somewhat limited. I can’t really use a bunch of neon in my card designs (oh, how I love neon!) because there aren’t neon stamps, or neon typewriter ribbons for that matter. I can’t do a cat card because there aren’t many vintage cat stamps (readily available…I do have some with a cat and a dog though.) But limitations lead to creativity, so I’m trying to expand my bad dad jokes and puns and see how many cards I can come up with in my own style.

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Story Corps

Story Corps, Story Corps Chicago, Chicago Cultural Center

Last month, Naoto and I did a Story Corps interview! Do you know Story Corps? If you listen to NPR, you’ve probably heard some of the many Story Corps gems from everyday people all across the US. Their mission (according to their website) is “to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” They have a few booths throughout the States and also a booth that travels. There is one in the Chicago Cultural Center and my book club friend’s daughter, Lauren, just got a job there so we signed up to be part of her training. Story Corps, Story Corps Chicago, Chicago Cultural CenterSo on a rainy Thursday afternoon, we went to the Story Corp booth and chatted about Naoto’s experience coming to America, his eventual journey to Chicago, and how we met. (Forty-five minutes–the time they allot to each conversation–is a really long time to talk! Story Corps edits things down to the best parts for a short radio and podcast snippets.) The room is very small, and dark (as you can see from our picture,) and intimate. To chat, you sit across from your partner and you both have giant microphones to speak into. The Story Corp facilitator sits in with you to do the sound check and to help keep the conversation going if you get stuck. We got stuck quite a few times because Naoto didn’t remember a lot about his first days in America and I wasn’t prepared to ask more questions, so it was nice to have Lauren guide us back on track. I thought it would be weird having someone sit in with us, but it ended up being fine. We didn’t know Lauren before we met her in the booth, so maybe that helped?

We haven’t listened to our recording yet (it takes 3-8 weeks to get it back) but I’m sure it will be fun to listen to in the future. (We are not exciting or profound enough to make it on the podcast or the radio, I’m certain!)

Here’s a link to some of the most recent stories. This one was a particular tear jerker for me. And on the Podcast, there’s a great conversation with Officer Clemmons from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Do you have a favorite Story Corp story? I’ve been listening to the podcast, but often miss them on the radio, so I’d love to hear what I’ve missed.

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