Happy New Year! Naoto & I were committed to staying home and making a bunch of old school appetizers for New Year’s Eve but we got invited to a friend’s party a few blocks away so we decided to take our cocktail wiener show on the road. It was well worth the freeeeezing cold walk and we spent New Year’s Day cozied up at home, cooking and napping, and watching the Rose Parade. This week is all about cleaning and taking Christmas down. I’m always so sad to put our decorations away, but I do appreciate how clean and uncluttered the house looks when it’s done. I might leave the village up for January, but that’s just such a slippery slope…pretty soon I’ll be telling myself it’s okay to leave the crispy Christmas tree up until Valentine’s Day.
For 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 Story. I 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.) For 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 year. Cheers to the holidays once again!
I’m the worst you guys! Thanks so much to Susan for reminding me in the comments to post the chopstick/pen holder! I took these pictures back when it was still summer, but then didn’t love the lighting so I figured I would take more, but then the busy-ness of October caught up with me. And now that I’m more free, we’re hitting a rainy spell in Forest Park, which isn’t helping with bright pictures! So, I’m posting these today with hopes of a sunny morning soon so I can update with some brighter, clearer pictures. I really love how easy this project is and I’m trying to find long, skinny objects for all of my friends so I can wrap their gifts in fancy paper holders.
You can use any kind of paper for this project, but I find handmade papers to be most forgiving. (This section at Paper Source is a great place to look for types of handmade papers that work well for origami projects. Steer clear of anything that is flocked or may be too thick to fold well. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them!) When I made Karen’s pencil holder, I used a lokta paper and I’ve used Japanese washi as well. Both of those fold beautifully. Wood based paper will work just fine though, so you can use wrapping paper or anything pretty you have on hand. It’s just not always as easy to manipulate and tends to show mistakes more.
You’ll need to cut your paper to an 8×8 inch square. I used a ruler and scissors for this since the paper is too large for my paper cutter. Do your best to get nice straight lines since origami is a pretty exact science. My paper had a deckled edge so I placed that at the top to add some interest to the collar of the pencil/chopstick holder. You could also cut the deckled edge off and just have clean edges all around. A bone holder (that thing on the right) is helpful to smooth your folds, but if you don’t have one, you’re fingers will work just fine.
Flip your paper over so the pattern is facing down. Fold the paper in half. Open and fold the right half to meet the center fold. Then fold the left half to meet the center fold. Unfold and now you should have four equal sections in your square. Fold your left corner down to meet the first fold (from the left.) Fold your right corner down to meet the center fold. Now fold the left side over to meet the middle. And fold again in the same direction. It’s kind of like rolling it closed. One last turn and this is what the back should look like. Flip it over and this is what the front should look like. (But turn it back over because we need to finish the back part.) On the back side, fold the bottom up about a quarter of an inch or so. This will be the bottom of the holder. Use some clear tape to hold it closed. I know washi tape would be cuter here, but most of it won’t hold securely on handmade paper. Clear tape gets the job done.
Stick in some chopsticks, pencils, pens, magic wands…and you’re done! I made a bunch for my birthday party this year and for Hasegawa Tanabata. All the different patterns make a pretty table (or picnic!)
Let me know if the instructions are confusing and I’ll try to clear them up! And please send me pics of your finished origami pencil holders!
Karen started a new job last week teaching a class at University of Illinois at Chicago. We wanted to give Professor Karen (I’m sure her students call her something more formal.) a little good luck gift to send her off on her first day.Like me, Karen loves Frixion pens, so I pulled a .05 from the “Japanese vault” and added it with a couple of pencils from C.W. Pencils. The Editor looked like a perfect pencil for grading and planning. (Are papers still graded on…paper?) And the Graphite/Highlighter combo seemed perfect for planning and note taking. I folded a little origami pencil holder for them out of my new favorite pencil paper. I’ll post a quick tutorial for the pencil holder next week. It’s so easy and they have so many uses! (They’re actually chopstick holders!)
P.S. Thinking of our friends (and family!) in Florida and the Carolinas this weekend as another hurricane heads for the US. The devastation on the islands in the Atlantic is just heartbreaking. And still thinking of our friends in Texas who are cleaning up after last month’s hurricane.
This sweet face has been with us for eleven years! We’re celebrating with breakfast, a good brushing, and a long nap in the window.
P.S. Happy Labor Day to those in the US! Hope you’re able to have a relaxing day!
On Monday, Naoto and I made the trip to the southern part of Illinois to be in the “Path of Totality” so we could see the full eclipse. It was incredible! I’ll have a post about the full day soon–I’m just trying to recover from driving over 800 miles and thinking about how fleeting it was…
But today, I’m sharing the special postmark from tiny Makanda, Illinois. This is where we watched the eclipse, alongside locals and hundreds of other people from Chicagoland. The Makanda post office created a special postmark (seen in the top picture) to commemorate the day. They had a tent outside where they sold the special eclipse stamps and cancelled envelopes and postcards for everyone. There was always a huge line (our viewing spot was across the street so we could see the line ebb and flow throughout the day) and it was hilarious because a lot of people were not postal “nerds” so they didn’t understand how the whole thing worked.
“So, I can just buy one stamp and then they’ll cancel it?”
“How much is a stamp?”
“Can I mail it?”
“I have to bring my own postcard?”
Of course, when they learned it was only forty-nine cents, people were really excited to buy a few for their friends to commemorate the day. And when they saw how neat the eclipse postage stamp is, they were even more excited! It was fun to see the post office getting some well-deserved love. The two postal workers couldn’t have been more delightful, sitting out in the heat and patiently explaining everything to postal novices and then cancelling hundreds of postcards and envelopes for people. Oh and they were giving out Moon Pies! I ordered a few of these Total Solar Eclipse postcards from Hammerpress that I brought with me. And I sent some mail themed cards from my stash and these Tiny Post Office cards, which fit in nicely with Makanda. The Tiny Post Office and Hammerpress cards took the ink of the cancellation way better than some of my other, shinier cards, but the post ladies were great about setting them out to dry for a bit before stacking them up.
If you are interested in a special eclipse cancellation, the Letter Writers Alliance shared a list of participating post offices. I didn’t see Makanda on there, but according to this article, they will perform the cancellation for up to thirty days after the event. Send your addressed and stamped postcards or letters to:
709 Makanda Road
Makanda, IL 62958
I ran out of time to write postcards to everyone on my list, so I may still send a few their way. And I didn’t see any cheesy eclipse t-shirts I liked, so my cancelled postcard is the only souvenir I have. That’s enough for me.