Tag Archives: shopping

Are You Still Writing?

National Letter Writing Month, Write On, Send more mail, feed your mailbox, #feedyourmailbox, GalaxieSafariI am in my worst letter writing slump ever! Every time I sit down to do it, I get distracted by something else. But I’m going to push through and finish strong in the last ten days. I’m hosting a Write_On party on Sunday…just a few friends getting together to write letters and eat snacks. I’m trying to make a little letter writing garland for the occasion. And some envelope-shaped pies. But I need to clean off my desk first!

I have a National Letter Writing Month special happening now in my Etsy shop. Spend $10 and get free shipping (U.S. only, coupon code: NLWM2017) and the duo pictured above is on special for $10. (Fancy that!) Both deals are good through April 30th.

Off to write some letters! The TV is off and Presley is sleeping, so now’s my chance!

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Itoya & Cafe Stylo

Itoya big red paperclip signOn our first full day in Japan, we went to Itoya, one of my favorite shops in the ritzy Ginza district of Tokyo. (I’ve blogged about Itoya a little bit before, here and here.) Itoya has been building a new store since 2011 or 2012, so for the past few years, we’ve been visiting the temporary location. On this trip, I was most looking forward to seeing their shiny new store. Itoya buildingThe new twelve floor building is very sleek and it sits between Tiffany’s and Bvlgari (just to give you an idea of what kind of neighborhood we are talking about.) The lower floors are all devoted to retail space selling stationery, pens, paper, craft supplies, and high-end travel and home goods. On the seventh floor, there is a “paper bar” filled with hundreds of papers that you can use for personalized stationery, business cards, or wedding invitations. (I didn’t take any pictures inside the store, but you can see part of the wall of paper at the bottom of this page.) What I’ve always loved about Itoya is that you can find very expensive things there, you can also find plenty of special gifts at reasonable prices. And they’ve always had a huge selection, especially of the things I love: origami paper, stamps, stationery, pens…I used to spend hours in the store narrowing down my choices. Itoya spring windows, flower pensThe new Itoya, though, is much more pared down. They still sell amazing things, but they just don’t carry the same wide-ranging selection that they used to. Truthfully, I hardly bought anything during my visit. And we didn’t stay all day like I thought we would. It was kind of a bummer at first, but honestly, I had more money to spend at the other stationery shops all over Tokyo. (There was no shortage of things to buy!) It was just an unexpected change. Cafe Stylo lettuce, ItoyaBut, one really cool thing about New Itoya is that they have a full-service restaurant, Cafe Stylo, on the top floor. (The old cafe had a very limited snack menu.) And in Cafe Stylo, they serve Itoya-grown lettuce grown in a hydroponic farm on the twelfth floor! We visited the farm and got a peek at the lettuces growing at various stages. Cafe Stylo smoked salmon, ItoyaCafe Stylo chef salad, ItoyaNaoto had the Smoked Salmon Sandwich, which he loved. Because I wanted to try the Itoya lettuces, I ordered the “Cobber Salad” (Cobb salad). It was crisp and fresh and delicious! And we both enjoyed Campari cocktails with our lunch.Cafe Stylo floor sign I highly recommend checking out the restaurant if you go! It’s the perfect spot to write postcards and enjoy your new stationery!

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Renegade Recap 2015

Renegade Chicago purchases, Migration Goods, La Familia Green, Arthurs Plaid Pants, Genevieve Santos, NerfectOur trip to Renegade happened by accident this year. It fell on a busy weekend and I had kind of resigned myself that we weren’t going. But Naoto and I had a coffee date with one of his coworkers (and fellow cocktail enthusiast) and since we were in the neighborhood, I bribed Naoto with a beer and a promise that I was only going to go to a couple of booths. I broke my promise because Renegade didn’t offer vendor maps this year (Annoying!) so I had to go through the whole fair to find the people I wanted to see. Darn! Hasegawa Happy Hour at RenegadeBut it was a gorgeous weather day and we had a mini happy hour, so I made it worth his while. Renegade Chicago purchases, Migration GoodsI’ve been following Eling from Migration Goods  on Instagram for as long as I can remember. It’s so weird following someone for a long time and then meeting them in person for the first time after feeling like you “know” them through the internet. But, it was so great to meet in person and put a voice and personality with those pictures of her fun products and Daisy the Dog. I just love Eling’s style and of course, I love her Sasquatch and Yeti lines! I got a few postcard sets (bears and tomatoes, pictured at the top) and the sweet Big Foot holding “Presley” ornament that will go on our Christmas tree but hang out all year long, too. The detail on her felt goods is so amazing…tiny stitches, tiny pieces…seriously I want to know how Eling has the patience to sew a grumpy brow on Big Foot? Renegade Chicago purchases, La Familia GreenI’ve been shopping with La Familia Green for years…since Mollie was selling Gocco-printed cards and VHS cover journals. Now she has a huge card line (two of the three cards I bought are on the top left corner in the top picture), great wrapping paper (the cat paper in the background of today’s pictures is LFG!), and quirky buttons (like Chicago weather man, Tom Skilling above). I’m obsessed with the weather and will stop my day to watch summer storm or winter blizzard weather coverage, so I had to have the Tom Skilling button. I’m going to wear Tom on my winter coat to remind myself not to kill the messenger when it’s 30 below in March. Genevieve Santos snail mail stickers Genevieve Santos snail mail stickersI picked up some mail-themed stickers from le petit elephant, Genevieve Santos. I’m going to try not to be hoard-y with them…now I’m wishing I had bought two sheets… Her illustrations are just so sweet and I love that she has some sweet pen pal themed options (like these sweet rubber stamps!) Renegade Chicago purchases, Arthurs Plaid Pants golden girls notecards Renegade Chicago purchases, Arthurs Plaid Pants golden girls magnetsI happened upon Arthur’s Plaid Pants by accident, drawn in by a Golden Girls sighting. I couldn’t resist the thank you cards and the magnets (which are now hanging out on my Ikea RÅSCOG bar cart). I love her quirky drawings and Midwest focus. Renegade Chicago purchases, Migration Goods, La Familia Green, Arthurs Plaid Pants, Genevieve Santos, NerfectAnd last but not least, I picked up a few buttons from Nerfect, our Berwyn “neighbor” to the south. Abe is a gift, but the others are going on my bag.

There were a few other sellers I wanted to see at Renegade but we somehow missed them. I didn’t have the energy to go back through the crowds to hunt for them. This is where a fair map (and maybe better booth signage?) would have been helpful. The good news is, Show of Hands is coming up in November and maybe I can get some Christmas shopping done there.

Any good craft fairs happening around you?

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Spending the Yen 8: Ramen Souvenirs

Ramen Souvenirs, Japan, Naoberly Noodle TourWe picked up a few silly treats during our visits to the Ramen Museum and the Cup Noodles Museum. I’m a sucker for a good gift shop and both museums had few offerings but some really fun stuff. I try to get something useful or something we can use up, but I don’t always succeed. Ramen Spoons, vintage ramen shop, Ramen MuseumWe each chose a porcelain ramen spoon at the Ramen Museum. We will most likely use them as soup spoons, but maybe they will inspire us to make ramen at home? They also sold ramen bowls, but spoons took up much less space in our suitcase! Ramen Spoons, vintage ramen shop, Ramen MuseumThe images on the spoons are logos from old Japanese ramen shops. We thought the ramen cart was classic and of course, I chose the ramen chef cat. Naoto in his Ramen Museum t-shirt, Naoberly Noodle Tour, Ramen MuseumNaoto got a ramen t-shirt (he’s sporting it at Mister Donut in the picture above). Hisae told him he looked like an American tourist because Japanese men do not wear t-shirts with pictures on them…I guess that’s why we had to sit in the English-speaking room at Maisen!Cup Noodle note, Cup Noodles stickers, Cup Noodles postcard,  Cup Noodles MuseumThe Cup Noodles Museum had a few paper-y delights for me. Cup Noodles Museum pencil and stickers (2)I picked up a few pencils while I was in Japan this time. The Cup Noodles Museum logo pencil was one of them and I thought these build-your-own-ramen stickers were cute. Cup Noodle postcard, Cup Noodles MuseumThe only postcard the Cup Noodle museum sold was this hologram one. Depending on how you look at it, you can see the cup noodle or a cross-section of the ingredients (top pictures). Cup Noodle note, Cup Noodles MuseumThese little Cup Noodle notes are my favorites. They’re 3-D! Cup Noodle note, Cup Noodles MuseumOn the top, there’s a place to address the note. Cup Noodle note, Cup Noodles MuseumAnd inside, there’s a place for the message. Cup Noodle note, assembledThen, roll it up, tuck in the tab and place the Cup Noodle on the recipient’s desk…a Cup Noodle note cannot be missed! (Just ask Presley. She got her treat last night!)Ramen journal, Ramen log, Naoberly's Noodle TourI purchased this Ramen Log at Loft. I have a failed history with book logs, movie logs, dream logs…pretty much all logs, but for some reason, I was compelled to buy a ramen log. I’m hoping, with the team effort of Naoberly’s Noodle Tour, we can keep up with it. Ramen journal inside pagesl, Ramen log, Naoberly's Noodle TourInside, there pages and pages where you can rate the broth, noodles, and toppings and there’s a place for photos. I’m looking forward to filling up the pages with our past and future ramen stops!

Do you have favorite souvenirs?

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Things To Make & Do For Valentine’s Day

Tomie de Paola Things to Make and Do for Valentine's DayI spent a few days with my parents last week and of course we went thrift shopping. I was in the store less than two minutes when this sweet book by Tomie dePaola jumped into my hands. It may be the best ten cents I’ve ever spent!

Tomie dePaola wrote Strega Nona and Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, two of my favorite books from my days working with children. His illustrations are charming and his stories are sweet and timeless. Things to Make and Do for Valentine’s Day is a how-to book with crafts, jokes, tongue twisters, games and recipes to share for the holiday.

The book is designed for kids, but I think some of the projects are fun for adults, too. I’m going to try one out this weekend and I will report back next week. If it works out, I may use the idea for my Valentine envelopes this year.

Have you planned your Valentine’s Day cards yet? I have my prototype ready…now the real work begins.

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Japan Does It Better 21: Gum Papers

Black Black Japanese gumNaoto is a big fan of BlackBlack gum, a Japanese gum that is infused with caffeine*. The taste is strong and minty, and apparently, caffeine is absorbed into the body faster with gum than drinking coffee or pop. Naoto usually buys the little packs of five sticks, but the last time we went to Mitsuwa he could only find the large size of the tablet gum. Black Black gum, includes papers for throwing gum away, Japanese gumIt’s hard to see in my picture (it’s DARK here in Chicagoland!), but inside the container is a slot with a little stack of papers for wrapping up your used gum before it’s discarded. Isn’t that genius? When I have a stick of gum, I keep the paper to spit it out in, but when I have the canisters of gum, I’m at the mercy of finding a nearby trash can. This tiny pad of paper solves that problem.Black Black gum, includes papers for throwing gum away, Japanese gum I’m sure BlackBlack isn’t the only gum that has the handy paper option…I’ll have to keep my eyes open for more options on our next trip.

Tidy ways to dispose of your gum…another example of how Japan Does It Better!

To see all of the other JDIB posts, go here.

*I don’t get it…in a world with coffee, why would I want to get my caffeine any other way?

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Merry Zinemas

donut socks, zines, letter writers alliance stamp, postcardsI think out of all of my gifts, I liked my stocking gifts the best. (Well, that’s hard to say…but they are awesome!) I mentioned here that I like to ask for zines for Christmas. My stocking was stuffed with zines, socks, postcards and a stamp. Here’s what I got:

Cats in My Neighborhood zine

Collage & Art Journal IDEAS zine

Parcel Ghost Super-Supernatural zine pack

(I’ll talk more about zines in an upcoming post, but until then, I highly recommend all of these zines!)

Donuts socks: These socks are so cozy! I gave Naoto the Beer ones a few years ago. The sock bottoms are lined with terry, giving a little extra cushion. I’ve been padding around the house in these for a few days now. I may never take them off.

Letter Writers Alliance Official Seal Stamp: I love all of my LWA stamps and I’m so excited to have one with my member number on it. I’m ready to send more mail in 2015!

Victory Garden postcards: I’m excited to NOT hoard these!

So that was my stocking. Santa Naoto did a great job, as usual. One more Christmas post…and then we can put the holidays behind us!

P.S. Though some of the makers (of the zines & stamp) are friends and acquaintances, this post wasn’t sponsored by anyone but me. 🙂

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The Christmas Gifts 2014

Instax photo printerI wish I could promise you this is the last Christmas post…almost!

For Christmas, Naoto surprised me with an Instax printer. If you don’t know, Instax are similar to Polaroids. You can buy an Instax camera, but I wanted the convenience of printing pictures from my phone so Naoto picked the printer for me. (As much fun as it sounds to have an Instax camera, I know I would never carry around an extra camera.) The printer links wirelessly with my iPhone and I can print tiny instant pictures wherever I want. The pictures are about the size of a credit card, perfect for memory keeping (ahem, scrapbooking) and mailing to friends. My first picture is of our Christmas Eve cocktails and I can’t wait to print some more. The printer is small, so it will be perfect to take on vacation so I can have some instant access to pictures of my food and drinks (heehee) to accent my travel journals. vintage table runnerNaoto also got me this vintage table runner. I am in love with the one from our anniversary, and I imagine this one will be great to use in the spring. It coordinates nicely with my vintage dishes in the china cabinet. He also got us another pair of Blackhawks tickets…this year we are going on January 16! I can’t wait! naoto chicago RayGun shirtI gave Naoto some practical gifts–snow boots and new jeans. (Un-pictured because snooooze!) I also gave him the shirt pictured above (which for the record, is less about the Chicago Bears than it is about Mike Ditka and the Superfans from the old SNL days. If you’d like to watch a Superfan clip, here it is…maybe it’s only funny if you’re from Illinois though?)resketch notebook I also got him a Resketch notebook and a ninja sticker for work. resketch notebook resketch notebook resketch notebookThe Resketch notebook is really neat–it’s made from recycled papers like building plans and Braille sheets. There are also a few creative prompts mixed throughout the book. Naoto takes notes at work, so I thought it might be a fun gift. (Also, Shawn, the seller, was really super and I like to support super people with super ideas.) I bought both the t-shirt and the notebook at Show of Hands this fall. Mehoi rice cooker keychainI found this rice cooker key chain at Renegade this summer. It’s from Mehoi, who has so many cute designs. I’m kind of regretting not getting him a pin instead because he’s already said the key chain is too nice to use.

I feel good about our gifts this year. Other than the snow boots, jeans and Instax, all of our gifts came from independent makers and sellers. Tomorrow I’ll share the stocking stuffers. Santa outdid himself with tiny treasures this year!


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Thrifted Treasures 2

vintage accountant books, gold stars and stickersOn my drive down to my parents’ house a few weeks ago, I stopped in our favorite thrift store. I had fifteen minutes before they closed, so I hit the office section, the greeting cards and the dishes–my three favorites. The greeting cards were a bust. Although they had several boxes of Christmas cards to offer, nothing was vintage enough or sweet enough to buy. (I still have no idea what I’m doing for holiday cards this year.) And the dishes were equally disappointing, unless you like those country patterns of the nineties. (Think hearts and ducks and other country patterns.) vintage accountant work sheet pads and Presley

But the office section never disappoints! Within five minutes I snagged up all the best stuff: some Care Bear stickers, some jumbo gold stars, and most exciting of all, two vintage accountant work sheet pads. The largest is 11×16 and I love all the little grids and warm colors and the yellowed paper. The best part about the ledgers is that yellow tagged items were 50% off that day, so one was 75¢ and the other was 50¢. My bill at the register for all four items was $2.12.

I’ve already written one letter on the smaller ledger paper and I look forward to using up all four in mail upcoming mail projects!

When you go thrift shopping, which department do you head for?

P.S. For more thrifting posts, go here.

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Cherry Mash Candy

Cherry Mash Candy, Chase Candy, St. Joseph, MOI love a good consumable souvenir. Whenever I’m traveling, I like to stop into grocery stores to see if there are any locally-made snacks or sweets to take home. (This is how I discovered the deliciousness of Canada’s potato chips!) Finding treats in the grocery store is a lot more budget-friendly than buying them at the airport or souvenir shops, plus there are sometimes hidden gems that aren’t in those souvenir shops.

While we were in Missouri, we stopped at WalMart to pick up something. (Full disclosure: We went to pick up a bottle of whiskey–whiskey that was made in Missouri, but not delicious enough to make the cut as a souvenir. Actually it was terrible.) At the check-out I spotted this fantastic vintage candy, Chase’s Cherry Mash. Cherry Mash has been made in St. Joseph, Missouri since 1918. (St. Joseph is about an hour away from Hamilton.) I bought one to try and then went back the next night to buy a few more. Cherry Mash Candy, Chase Candy, St. Joseph, MOThe Cherry Mash is made with crushed maraschino cherries, blended into a creamy center and coated with chocolate and chopped peanuts. There are a few videos of the process here.Cherry Mash Candy, Chase Candy, St. Joseph, MOI love maraschino cherries (even the bright red ones that are swimming in red dye) so I think the Cherry Mash is delicious. Because it is so sweet, it’s a shareable portion, but I promise not to judge if you eat the whole thing! I love a good, vintage candy and this one fits the bill perfectly!

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