Tag Archives: holidays

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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Our Fourth

July 4th dinner, patriotic, independence dayJuly 4th seems like weeks ago. I remember when I was a kid, it felt like July 4th was the end of summer…like it had this power to make the rest of summertime rush by. As an adult, I still kind of believe this, especially since school supplies are already out at Target. (Really…it’s ridiculous.) But really, there’s so much summer left! plot 6, forest park community garden, community gardening, raised bed gardeningIt was soooo hot and humid on the 4th. It rained a teeny bit, but not enough to really impact the garden, or the heat. I gave our plot a good soak during the community garden BBQ. Our tomato jungle is coming along nicely…no tomatoes yet…but our edamame is growing like crazy and the rabbits haven’t eaten it yet! cherry manhattans, vintage glasses, july 4th, hasegawa happy hourNaoto and I had a mini Hasegawa Happy Hour and made Cherry Manhattans (recipe from Leopold Bros.) Cherry Manhattans have become our lazy summer drink.  Despite what this picture shows, we drank them inside because it was too sweaty to be outside. We had Chicago-style hot dogs, corn on the cob, and baked beans for supper. It was the epitome of America. fireworks over 290, circle bridge, forest park fireworksWe ended up watching fireworks from the Circle Bridge over the Eisenhower (Interstate 290 for you non-Chicagoans.) I love fireworks, but I hate crowds, so it was kind of the perfect spot. It was still so hot, but there was a decent breeze (from the traffic?) and the were no mosquitos, plus it was only a few blocks from home. (What can I say? I’m a lazy reveler!) vintage postage, patriotic postage, galaxie safari, red, white, and blue

Oh! And here are those vintage patriotic stamps in action!

I’d love to hear about your Fourth/last Wednesday!

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Happy 4th of July!

4th of july, patriotic postage, July 4th, Independence Day, fireworks flag stamps, vintage postageHappy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! (To everyone else, happy Wednesday!)

I’m spending today catching up on some mail (and topping it off with the patriotic postage above!) and going to a BBQ at the community garden. Naoto is making an all-American supper tonight (hot dogs, corn on the cob and baked beans) before we go see fireworks. (Or it might rain, so maybe no BBQ or fireworks…time will tell.)

I’ll be back tomorrow with a post about last month’s Golden Girls Gala.

P.S. Naoto was not as excited as I was that this postage ensemble accidentally added up to fifty cents…

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Mail Reads: Mr. Zip and the U.S. Mail

Mr. Zip and the US Mail by Jene Barr, vintage kids books, out of print books, books about mail, snail mail, write on, national letter writing monthI’ve added to my collection of books about mail! Mr. Zip and the U.S. Mail is another book designed to teach kids about the U.S. postal system. Someone posted it on Instagram last year and I found it on Amazon through a used book dealer for $5. It’s an old school library book in excellent condition. I’m no reading level expert, but it feels like it was written for a younger audience than this book that I wrote about a few years ago. Mr. Zip and the US Mail by Jene Barr, vintage kids books, out of print books, books about mail, snail mail, write on, national letter writing monthIt was written in 1964 by Jene Barr and it follows Mr. Zip, a letter carrier, through the mail delivery system. (I really wish we still had small letter boxes on posts like the one next to the traditional blue box! Mr. Zip and the US Mail by Jene Barr, vintage kids books, out of print books, books about mail, snail mail, write on, national letter writing monthCan you still send a baby chick in the mail? Mr. Zip and the US Mail by Jene Barr, vintage kids books, out of print books, books about mail, snail mail, write on, national letter writing monthJimmy is mailing a thank you note to his Uncle Mike for sending him a stamp book. Mr. Zip and the US Mail by Jene Barr, vintage kids books, out of print books, books about mail, snail mail, write on, national letter writing monthIt’s so funny that we think of mail as “slow” nowadays when it was considered fast back then. But this is a pretty fun predictor: someday maybe we’ll be sending chocolates and letters to our friends on the moon!

P.S. Another old book about letter writing…this one is for grown-ups!

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Happy Easter, Happy Spring

vintage easter card, vintage greeting card, easter bunnyHappy Easter (if you celebrate) and Happy April! It’s still quite cold here in Chicago, which is the norm for early spring. We’re still working out our Easter menu, but I have my spring cocktail napkins all ready to go.

(Vintage card purchased from the Forest Park Emporium. One seller there has the best old paper treats. Bunny paper is Japanese washi from my stash.)

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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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KimberlyAH in Embroidery

KimberlyAH logo embroidery by KarenI can’t believe I’ve never shared this here!

Karen made this embroidered logo for me two Christmases ago. Isn’t is fabulous? It sits on top of my metal drawers that hold all of my card inventory and supplies, but I think I need to hang it on the wall above my desk. I’ve collected some new things to add to my wall, and this will fit right in. I’ve managed to collect another hoard of art that needs to be hung, so that’s a project for me this week in between work, chapters for book club, governor debate watch parties, and cleaning the bedroom. I have a plan, but I’m sure my indecisiveness will take over and delay things more. I just can’t seem to hammer a hole in the wall without a lot of hand-wringing. Anyone else have this problem? (And if you don’t, want to come over and help me hang some stuff up?)

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Forest Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade

forest park st patricks day parade, rainbow flag, pride flag, diversity, forest park diversity commissionLast weekend, Naoto and I walked in the Forest Park St. Patrick’s Day parade with our respective groups, the Diversity Commission for him and the Community Garden for me. forst park community garden, forest park st patricks day parade, community garden parade floatThe Diversity Commission had a banner and handed out stickers and the garden had our usual float and we handed out seeds. Anise hyssop was the seed of choice this year. People were really excited to get the seeds. Some people were a little too excited, like the drunk lady who grabbed my bucket and demanded seeds. Apparently all parade swag is good swag. forst park community garden, forest park st patricks day parade, community garden parade float, parade dog It was a really beautiful day. I’ve walked in the parade three times now and have been very lucky with the weather. Oh and I got to meet this sweet dog.

If you’re local, you can find the extra seeds we didn’t hand out at the Forest Park Public Library. Or you could come to the Seed Swap Sunday afternoon!

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Cherry Almond Angel Cake

cherry almond cakeLast week I had a couple of friends over for “Christmas” lunch. I made an orange pomegranate prosecco cocktail, Ina Garten’s split pea soup, a salad, and this cake. Isn’t it cheerful?

It’s a Cherry Almond Angel Cake and it’s basically a doctored box mix cake. I read about this cake many years ago on a blog I can’t find anymore*. She made the cake based off a Betty Crocker recipe and she made hers in two loaf pans. I wrote down the recipe and all these years later, I finally tried it. It’s so fun. My cherry “glaze” was more of a frosting, but it was really delicious so I’m not complaining.

Cherry Almond Angel Cake

1 box angel food cake mix (Betty Crocker gets my mom’s stamp of approval, so that’s what I used.)

1 1/4 cups cold water

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries (One tiny 10 ounce jar will be plenty for this recipe, with a few leftovers for a Manhattan or two!)

 

Make sure your oven rack is at the lowest level possible and preheat your oven to 350.

In a large bowl, beat cake mix, water, and almond extract on low for 30 seconds. Raise speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.

Fold in cherries.

Pour into an tube cake pan. DO NOT GREASE YOUR PAN! (Also, do not use a non-stick pan!)

Bake for 37-47 minutes until the top is very dry, cracking, and dark golden brown. If the top is still sticky, the cake is not done.

When done, remove from oven and turn over onto a glass bottle. (If you don’t have a glass bottle on hand–this isn’t 1950–you can set your pan on top of 2-3 cans. The important thing is that the cake cools upside down.) Let the cake cool completely. When the cake is cooled, run a knife along the edges of the pan to remove it.

Cherry Glaze

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups powdered sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons (or more) of maraschino cherry juice

Full disclosure, I broke my hand mixer making this glaze. The hand mixer was pretty old, but also, apparently 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of juice were more like wall putty than a nice, glossy glaze. I finished the glaze by hand, with a spoon and ended up using 5 tablespoons of juice and still, my glaze was pretty thick. Start with 2 1/2 tablespoons and add as you go, 1/2 tablespoon at a time to be safe. When it’s the right consistency, drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake

Decorate the cake with extra maraschino cherries and beam at your work like a 1950s housewife.

Three things: Wouldn’t this cake be so cute for Valentine’s Day? I’m going to make it again for a Valentine karaoke party we’re going to next month. And, if you aren’t a frosting person, I always think angel food cakes are delicious on their own. Maybe slightly less cute, but delicious still. Lastly, if you’re interested, the box mix has instructions for making your angel food in two loaf pans. One for yourself, and one for a gift.

 

*Maybe you’ve read this blog? The woman lived in Champaign, Illinois. She was married, had a corgi, and she made quilts and doilies to show at fairs. She also had an etsy shop where she sold a pattern for aprons made of pillow cases.

 

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