Tag Archives: holidays

Thanksgiving 2019

Thanksgiving seems like a really long time ago…I feel like I’ve already been swept into Christmas without a minute to catch up. I feel like with Thanksgiving being so late this year, the rush to start Christmas mode was really strong. We always get our tree right after Thanksgiving, so that didn’t really change, it just felt more hurried.We had a craft show on Small Business Saturday, so that sucked up some time, but I have to say, this is the first year in eleven years that I didn’t work on Black Friday and it was heaven! My parents stayed for part of Friday and we all went to Ikea together and it was just nice to relax with them and not be “on” at a store. (For many reasons, being “on” at a craft show is so much less exhausting.)

Anyway, Thanksgiving was small and lovely like always. This year, Naoto cooked a turkey breast in the crock pot and he really liked that. He felt less stressed, and we had fewer leftovers, which is great. I know Thanksgiving leftovers are a thing but I personally hate eating the same kind of thing over and over again and we’re really trying to lower our food waste, so fewer leftovers are a good thing around here.

I set the table kind of the same way as I have been, with vintage plates and books and a few little thrifted things. I didn’t even make place cards this year! I enjoy setting the table and making place cards but also, I enjoy doing other things, so I’m trying to put less pressure on myself to do all the things when it’s not always necessary. Sometimes work and craft show prep takes over. It was my mom’s first visit to Ikea and I think she enjoyed it, even though she didn’t find any curtains for her living room. I was a little bit worried about going out on Black Friday, but Ikea was pretty tame…a good day for trying out all the chairs and couches! Now, onto Christmas…

We are hosting a little party tonight after Forest Park’s Holiday Walk so after work, I have to finish cleaning for that…as busy as it feels today, I’m glad we are hosting something because it forced me not to drag out the decorating. (I never really finished decorating for Halloween because there was no deadline. I didn’t want that to happen with Christmas.) It’s just a low-key affair with some local friends and Trader Joe’s snacks and maybe a fancy punch…I can’t wait.

Have a good weekend!

Tagged , , , , ,

Hallmark Christmas Movie BINGO

It’s the MOST wonderful time of the year! Hallmark Christmas Movies are running full-time, filling my tv, my home…my heart with g-rated, pure-as-snow Christmas cheer. I think I’ve mentioned before how addicting these movies are for me during the holiday months. I can’t stop watching, even though they’re all pretty formulaic and predictable and they are pretty…traditional. No one is getting tipsy at the holiday parties. (Honestly, I’m not even sure if the eggnog is spiked.) And no one is having any premarital shenanigans, no-siree. These movies are so innocent, there’s rarely a kiss before the couples are committed. All that said, I’m pretty cynical and even so, I find these movies so comforting and they’re a cozy background show to have on during decorating and holiday card writing.

It’s the tenth anniversary of Countdown to Christmas this year, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites in case anyone out there is watching or is tempted to watch. It was very hard to narrow it down, and I’m already feeling guilty for leaving Mariah Carey’s movie off the list, so maybe there will be a follow-up to this post during the season… My all-time favorite Hallmark Movie is A Very Merry Mix-Up with Alicia Witt. I think this was her first Hallmark Christmas Movie (in 2013) and she’s gone on to make one every year since. I like the story on this one: a woman goes to meet her fiancé’s family and accidentally ends up at the wrong house, but soon discovers how right the house really is. It’s basically one giant misunderstanding that leads to a cute, but predictable outcome. I like the chemistry between the leads and the chemistry with his family. This movie also has the ultimate evil boyfriend. (In case you don’t know, a typical Hallmark trope is to have a woman in a relationship with a man who clearly doesn’t value her or care about Christmas…usually he’s a businessman who only cares about money. Sometimes the roles are reversed and the woman is the cold-hearted Christmas hater…you know, for variety.) Christmas with Holly is on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel where the movies are a little more family oriented, but almost always have a love story too. Holly’s mom passed away and she has stopped talking and is being raised by her three (unprepared) uncles. One owns a coffee shop and he meets a toy shop owner and magic happens. (Not real magic…Christmas magic.) It’s sort of a modernized Three Men and a Baby, but with younger guys and a little girl. It’s a really sweet movie. The Christmas Card was kind of my first Hallmark Christmas movie. (It was made in 2006.) Faith, a woman from a small town, writes to a random solider, Cody, in Afghanistan. He is so moved by her letter and charmed by her stories of the town that he finds the town and stops to visit when he’s on leave after a tragedy in Afghanistan. They meet (randomly at a diner where they order the exact same meal involving extra crispy curly fries.) Cody ends up staying with Faith and her family–there’s an Army connection with Faith’s dad who is played by the loveable Ed Asner–and of course, they all fall in love. But the road to happiness is blocked by Faith’s boyfriend/fiancé (Skipper from Sex and the City!) who seriously couldn’t be more wrong for her. Ed Asner does his share of meddling to help Faith realize who she really should be marrying. I watch it every year. I haven’t been crazy about many of the newer Hallmark movies, but this one from 2017 was a winner for me. Holly is “Miss Christmas,” the person who chooses the Christmas tree for the “Radcliffe Center” in Chicago. Her search takes her to Claus, Wisconsin to answer a letter from a boy offering up his family’s tree. The boy happens to have a handsome single father and the family is recovering from the death of a close loved one. Who better to turn those sad hearts around than Miss Christmas? There are baking montages, ugly Christmas sweaters, a couple of misunderstandings, and lots of Christmas cheer in this one. Oh, and I really like the little boy–child actors in these movies can be…precocious–Joey is just precocious enough. And the grandpa…he’s punny. And finally, The Nine Lives of Christmas. Presley and I look forward to this one every year. What do you get when you mix a busy veterinarian student with a scarred, I’ll-always-be-a-bachelor firefighter, two cats, and an old house? A purr-fect Hallmark Christmas movie. This one has a shallow, evil girlfriend, a meddling sister, and a wise fire chief.

I am working my way through this season’s new movies. I’ll report back if there are any stand-outs in the new season.

I made a simple Hallmark Christmas Movie BINGO based on my years of watching these movies. click here if you want to play! You can print the cards or play online. (New cards can be refreshed by clicking at the top.) Let me know if I should add some more tropes…I know there are plenty I missed!

I’d love to know if you watch the Hallmark movies during the holidays. Which one is your favorite?

I’m off to decorate the tree! Everything feels so rushed this season with Thanksgiving being so late but I’m determined to be done tomorrow so we can enjoy as much of the lights and decorations as possible. Three cheers for Christmas lights (and silly movies) to get us through the darkest days of winter!

 

 

Tagged , , , , ,

Halloween Snow

It snowed on Halloween this year and we had to break out our winter coats already. I wasn’t ready!!! I am still not ready! The snow started on Wednesday and I walked through Austin Gardens on my way to work. It was really pretty with the snow falling on the brightly colored trees. However, tree branches were falling like crazy all day because of the weight of the heavy, wet snow on the leafy branches. Thankfully, I made it through the park unscathed. The snow is all melted now and temperatures are back to fall-like levels. And the fall colors are still pretty vibrant. Halloween is always pretty low-key at our place since we don’t get trick-or-treaters. I’m recovering from a cold (again!) so I spent most of the day reading scary stories and hanging out with Presley, who really enjoyed her costume…

Such a good sport, that old cat.

 

Tagged ,

Hasegawa Tanabata 2019

Hasegawa Tanabata was a low-key affair this year. We didn’t invite any guests and I didn’t decorate (gasp!) but it was such an amazing summer night for enjoying a light meal on the lanai. And of course Naoto is my favorite “guest” anyway! We had a busy day at the community garden so it all kind of fell together at the last minute, thanks to some Tensuke Market sushi and some easy Japanese recipes. I thought Naoto was going to get a sushi tray, but he really held back at the sushi counter, only bringing home two rolls and six pieces of sushi. (For the record, this is barely enough sushi for HIM!) Thankfully we had other things on the menu…Japanese potato salad and ham & egg salad sandwiches. We were going to make somen, but we ended up feeling full with what we had and some Japanese snacks.I made yuzu cocktails and they were so good, I think we need to share the recipe. We bought this yuzu liqueur at Mitsuwa a few weeks ago and we really like it! It’s good on its own and with soda water and it worked really nicely in the yuzu cocktail, too. The rest of the night, we shared some sparkling wine.It was so unseasonably chilly, we both ended up in jackets but no regrets at all…it was perfect…maybe not blog post perfect, but perfect for us. 🙂

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Cocktail Perfected: Tanabata Cocktail

Naoto and I have been working on our menu for our 4th annual Hasegawa Tanabata. We are going all out this year again with a sushi tray and lots of homemade recipes we’ve been perfecting all year. It really is my favorite night of the summer…well, next to fireworks…but the food is better. (Sorry, grilled American food.) Last year I made a batch of spumonis and we’ve also had yuzu liqueur and sake, but this year, I wanted a fancy cocktail and I found this one on Reddit. It tastes like something you’d drink at a suburban sushi restaurant, though it’s not Japanese. Still, I think the purple is fitting with the spirit of Tanabata and it’s very delicious.

Empress Cocktail 

2oz gin

0.75oz fresh lemon juice

0.75oz lychee liqueur

0.5oz creme de violette

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until very chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass. Serve on the lanai with some sushi and gyoza on a hot summer night.

Tagged , , , , ,

National Card & Letter Writing Month

It’s April and my favorite month of the year: National Card & Letter Writing Month!

As usual, I will be participating in the Write On campaign, and trying to write a card or letter every day this month. I have a little set-up on my desk with some cards and stationery, all easily accessible for a quick note or letter. I am ready to write this month and I’ll share my set-up here soon, along with some other letter writing related posts.

Happy letter writing!

P.S. I found this vintage Dennison (I think?) letter carrier decoration on eBay last month. Isn’t he dreamy?

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Happy National Pencil Day!

Galaxie Safari, National Pencil Day, pencils, vintage stampsI’m celebrating by writing a few notes with my favorite pencils and prepping my calendar for April…it’s National Card & Letter Writing Month! Do you have any pencil or letter writing plans this weekend?

Tagged , , , , , ,

Middle Aged Woman in Front of Her Christmas Tree

Inspired by this online article about these fabulous middle-aged women in the 1950s and 60s, Naoto took a few pictures of me with our Christmas tree this year. I put on my new blue velvet dress and I poured myself a glass of prosecco for the picture. (This lady was my inspiration.)  I took a couple of shots of Naoto and Presley. I know her face says otherwise, but she really does like to wear her scarf. Naoto liked this one because Presley is sleeping above me on the books.

I really think this is going to become a tradition. I always try to get a good picture of our tree but I enjoyed being IN the picture, too. I love the fancy shots, but maybe next year, I’ll take a risqué shot in my pajamas like this lady! (Ok, probably not.)

Tagged , , , ,

Spending the Yen: Year of the Boar

new years cards, japan post, itoya, We really hit the sweet spot during our trip to Japan this year. I was able to shop for Halloween and fall things, as well as planners, Christmas, and New Years. If you’ve been around for awhile, you may remember this post that explains the Japanese tradition of sending nengajo, or new years postcards.  We found the regular New Years postcards (the two on the right) at Itoya. Many stationery stores offer printing services for New Years cards. We could have ordered something personalized if we had more time (and wanted to send a bunch.) And on our very last day and our very last trip to the post office, we saw the Japan mailbox postcard with the boar. There were Christmas ones too. I just love these cards…it’s always fun to visit the different neighborhood post offices to see what they have available. There’s usually a seasonal one and sometimes regions have their own styles. new years stickers, japanese stationery, year of the boarI picked up a couple of styles of stickers with Japanese new year symbols and the little boar. From left to right: a paddle (I thought it was a bottle of sake, which is why it’s upside down in my picture) for hanetsuki, which is a game like badminton played on new year day, a drum that brings good luck, the boars, and an ema, a placard where you can write a new years wish and hang it at the shrine. new years stickers, japanese stationery, year of the boarA kite, the boar, and kadomatsu, a bamboo arrangement common for new year. new years stickers, japanese stationery, year of the boar, mail artI put all of the postcards in envelopes because of the odd shape of the post boxes and because Japanese postcards are oriented vertically instead of horizontally. I didn’t feel like making weird adjustments on the cards to meet USPS standards, and also this way, I could decorate the envelopes, too.

Happy New Year! May your mailbox be full in 2019!

 

 

P.S. If you’re interested in seeing our New Years cards from the past, here’s a link to those posts.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,