Hauntsegawa 2021

I’m a little bit late for a Halloween recap, and yet, here we are. My laptop died in October and it really threw me for a loop. I do so much on my phone, I didn’t think it would really matter. But writing blog posts and taking care of community garden stuff is much easier on a computer. So I finally gave in and bought one.

I’m still getting settled. Speaking of getting settled…

Decorating in the new house was fun! We still haven’t finished hanging all of our everyday art but I am committed to holiday decorations. I finally hung my tenugui (the “towel” on the left above.) I have a new one for most seasons, so I will change it out as needed. This is the Halloween one, but now the fall one is up. The skeleton is on the door to my office.

My usual TagTeamTompkins art went on the entry table this year, along with the glitter skull and some other tiny Halloween things. The picture is an old snapshot of a girl dressed as a witch.

The stair railings were a challenge. I didn’t love the group of garlands on them. The black cats and bats didn’t show up enough. But I also didn’t hate it enough to move anything. I figure I’ll try something else next year. (By the way, Presley doesn’t love these bat wings…but she tolerates them enough for a photo.)

These are old Martha Stewart crow cut-outs my parents found at a thrift shop. I love them!

The candy station which we filled with Take 5s, green tea Kit Kats, and Twix just for us. This was our first year of actual trick-or-treaters! We had 141 kids!

I was most excited to break out these mice. I cut them out soooo many years ago–an idea from an old Martha Stewart Living Magazine. (Martha went on to sell pre-cut ones like my crows.) I used to place them throughout our past apartments, but they really are so much cuter on stairs.

Now Halloween is all put away and there are a few fall/Thanksgiving things out, but in my mind, I’m already thinking about Christmas. It’s nice to have a little reprieve before that all has to begin.

Are you in Christmas mode, or enjoying the last of fall? This is a judgment-free zone!

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Mr. Zip Is My Boyfriend

There is an Invasion of the Scarecrows happening in Forest Park for Halloween. It’s a fundraiser for the Historical Society and the Arts Alliance and I was so excited to participate. It didn’t take me long to land on Mr. Zip for our scarecrow. His cartoony face and his simple blue suit wouldn’t be too complicated to make for someone like me who has zero drawing skills.

We picked up our kits in August and this is what it came with–a simple wooden cross base, the fabric sewn and ready to design for the head and some other crafting things that I didn’t use. I pulled everything out of the garage on Monday night to get started. (The scarecrow was “due” on October 1st…) I got the rest of the stuff–a simple blue t-shirt and sweatpants, loads of felt, and some blue fabric–online throughout September while I marinated on his construction.

I decided to use felt for his face because I am terrible with fabric paint. I freehanded his eyes, nose, and mouth while looking at his pictures online. It’s not a perfect depiction, but as my dad likes to say, “Close enough for a town this size.” The hat was fashioned with swear words, magic, blue fabric, and yellow and black felt. I doubt it will last through a rain storm to be honest.

And I just cut some buttons out of black felt for his “jacket” and sort of safety pinned everything together. He has a little wire running through him to help his arms hold their shape. I made him a little bag and a letter out of felt and called it a day.

The actual putting him together was the least fun part–I don’t know how I was thinking it would work–but I think an engineering degree would have come in handy.

If you’re local, there’s a map on the Historical Society of Forest Park’s website and the idea is meant to get people out around town to check everyone’s out. There’s a contest, too, for the most artistic, most historical, Forest Park Pride, and people’s choice. I think the competition is going to be fierce! I hope to get out to get some pictures of other scarecrows soon and I’ll share them here. In the meantime, please enjoy these pictures of Presley. She’s made a bed of the excess felt in my stash and I guess it’s all hers now.

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Naoberly’s Noodle Tour: Chicago Ramen

Right before the shut down, Naoto and I went to Chicago Ramen. It was our next-to-last meal in a restaurant before the pandemic. A few weeks ago, before numbers were really kicking back up with the Delta variant, we were in the neighborhood, so we decided to return. I am so glad we did because now we’re left wondering when we will feel comfortable eating inside again.

Naoto went with the classic white miso ramen. Doesn’t he looked so pleased with his choice? (Also, check out that trail of steam coming off his noodles!)

I ordered the dish Chicago Ramen is famous for–tsukemen. It’s cold, thick noodles that you dip in a warm broth. The broth at Chicago Ramen is made with chicken, pork, and vegetables that is mixed with miso paste. The broth is thick and intense, so it coats the noodles with lots of flavor. At Chicago Ramen, the tsukemen comes with a decadent slice of pork and a lime wedge that adds some acidity to the noodles before you dip them in the rich broth. I can’t express how delicious this combination is. Ramen is hard for me to eat in the heat of the summer, so tsukemen, with its hot/cold combination and perfectly chewy noodles is a perfect substitute.

I am so glad we took advantage of the brief window of safety and went back to Chicago Ramen! We’re looking forward to more noodle tours soon!

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The Circle Garden

We are continuing the tomato jungle tradition at the house… Everything was fine at first. I was even removing lower branches and leaves and suckers and keeping the plants tidy. But then we got a ton of rain all at once and, well, the tomatoes have minds of their own.

The previous owners built these raised beds along the side yard, which faces south. The picture above is from when we first moved in. I call the side yard the working part of the yard–it’s where the garden is, and we placed our composting bin there, and it’s where the air conditioning unit is. It might look like the area gets much sun, but all three beds get a full day’s worth, even with the fence. The old owners left us a huge garlic crop in the bed on the far right and potatoes in the bed to the far left, so we decided to work around them this season, and hopefully we can come up with a better plan for ourselves next spring.

We sort of focused on the middle plot for all of our usual crops. Our tomato plants are doing well with no signs of whiteflies or blight, which is so exciting since the past few years have been pretty sad for our tomato crops. Our basil and thyme and lima beans are thriving too. And we planted a strawberry plant that seems to doing well, and it’s producing many teeny, tiny fruits.

In the potato bed, we planted edible flowers, cucumbers, edamame, and a brussel sprout. Then tragedy struck. I lost two cucumbers and Naoto lost his entire edamame crop to the rabbits. It was heartbreaking! So, in that bed, we still have our potatoes sprawling around the edible flowers and the brussel. We added a tomato (which isn’t doing well because potatoes and tomatoes don’t grow well together) later in the season just to see what would happen.

The borage is booming with blooms and the nasturtium is looking good, but there are no flowers yet. I’m excited to use them both for cocktail garnishes.

Naoto ended up finding some edamame seedlings at our favorite local garden center and we planted them in a hanging basket and so far, they have remained safe from the bunnies!

In the garlic bed, there is tons of garlic, and plenty of nightmare mint spreading all over. In that bed, we planted some zinnias for cutting and some lettuces that are long done. I dug up a few garlic heads last weekend and I’ll probably dig up the rest soon so we can plant some late-season crops and take advantage of the extra room.

We have two of these arches in our basement (one on each side of an arched doorway) with built-in hooks, so that’s where the garlic is curing for now. I’m so excited to have some space in the basement to start seeds and prep for the gardening season. (Some day I will show you the basement, but not until we finish getting the rest of our boxes unpacked and put away!)

It’s book club weekend so I will be finishing Double Indemnity and enjoying the garden walk so I will see you next week!

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Dive Bar Letter Writers

I’ve been planning to start a little letter writing club that blends my two favorite hobbies, letter writing and cocktail making, since before the pandemic and…it’s finally time!

On Sunday, July 25th from 2-4PM, I’ll be hanging out in the beer garden at Goldyburgers in Forest Park with a cocktail and my letter writing supplies. Goldyburgers is at 7316 Circle Avenue, which is a short walk from the Harlem Green Line and Oak Park Metra Stations and there’s street parking available, too. As the name implies, they do serve burgers and other food–I highly recommend the cheese balls. Goldyburgers is CASH ONLY, so while it’s free to attend the club, please bring enough cash to cover your drinks, snacks, and tip.

I want to make the club a regular thing, hopefully monthly, but it might take some time to find a good groove, so bear with me as we get this thing started. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram (@divebarletterwriters) or sign up for occasional email updates here.

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Cocktail Perfected: Jasmine

Naoto has spoiled me the entire pandemic by pouring my Manhattan into a frosty cocktail glass. This spring, as we’ve branched back into other cocktails (mostly involving gin,) we have continued to serve things up in a frosty glass. Most of my vintage cocktail glasses are tucked away until we remodel the kitchen. And they are too delicate for the freezer. So we’ve been using our Libbey workhorses–we have twelve of these, which are perfect for larger parties and for keeping a few in the freezer at all times.

Even when he’s not home and I’m mixing for myself while I water the garden, I’ve been treating myself to a frosty glass. I’ve been on a Jasmine kick since June. Jasmine cocktails are so crisp and tart and slightly bitter…perfectly refreshing on a hot evening. The original recipe calls for Campari, but I prefer the slightly more subtle Cappelletti. Both are delicious, so use what you have.

Jasmine

1.5oz gin

0.75oz fresh lemon juice

0.25oz Cointreau

0.25oz Cappelletti (or Campari)

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a frosty glass (or a coupe if you want to be proper.) Serve as a reward for putting the hose away without swearing.

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It’s Been Awhile

Hello again! It’s been awhile! I can’t believe we are halfway through 2021! And a lot has happened since my last post on November 24th! The biggest news is–we bought a house! We closed out 2020 (literally, on December 31st) by putting an offer on a house we loved. We closed in February, sold our condo in March, and we moved in March. It was a whirlwind! Pictured above is what our back yard looked like when we closed in February with feet of snow on the ground. Thankfully, by the time we moved in, all of the snow had melted and there were signs on spring in the yard!

The month between closing and moving gave us time to have hardwood floors installed on our second floor (replacing the carpet) and to paint most of the first and second floor. It was nice to have a little cushion. We still want to remodel the kitchen and paint the bathrooms and basement, but all in good time!

And Presley has adjusted like a little champion. We were very nervous since she’s older and deaf, but she is loving sneaking upstairs when she’s had enough of us and having afternoon sun naps (something that wasn’t possible in our condo since we faced east.)

We are still settling in–hanging art is so stressful and figuring out how to use all of our extra storage space is more challenging than I anticipated!–but we’re finding our house groove. Naoto has really embraced mowing the lawn (with our reel lawn mower!) and we have three little garden plots along the side of the house to tend. It was sad giving up our Plot 6 at the community garden but we love just popping out the door to tend to our tomatoes.

That’s the news for today–I hope to come back Thursday and share a little more about the house or the garden. And, now we have a larger lanai (really, a back deck) for happy hours and gatherings which is a total dream come true.

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Hello again.

Is this thing on?

[Insert long explanation of why I haven’t been posting.]

There is really no excuse. Let’s just say “living through a pandemic and all of its uncertainty and chaos” and call it a day.

This week, Naoto and I are gearing up to have Thanksgiving at home with my parents over Zoom. We’ve adjusted our menu, only cooking a turkey breast and we’re going to try to cut our mashed potato and stuffing recipes in half. (I know there are those of you who could argue that you could never have too many mashed potatoes and stuffing but…I get bored easily. Leftovers are fine, once, maybe twice. After that, I’m ready for something different. Like pizza.)

Oh and with the new stay-at-home request here in Illinois, I’ve started up #spritzerswithpritzker again. It’s a little harder this time because, well, pandemic burn-out and I’m working at the office still (and therefore have to “cheat” with canned sparkling beverages during work days.)

I know a lot has happened since August. (Well, maybe not a LOT, but I do have a few things to share!) Hopefully, I’ll make some time to pop in again this week to share our tiny Thanksgiving and some Christmas preparations. I have my first long Thanksgiving weekend in years coming up (no retail job and no craft show this year) and I’m so looking forward to digging out the Christmas bins and doing a little decorating. But first…I need to clean.

In the meantime, I hope you are well and finding some joy in these strange times.

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In My Mailbox: Jaarsma Bakery

Back in May, we received a huge box of treats from Jaarsma Bakery in Oskaloosa, Iowa. My friend Tremaine grew up nearby and she sent us all of her favorites.

I sadly did not capture everything in pictures, but we enjoyed the cinnamon bread (which was amazing toasted,) the almond poppy seed creme cakes (melt-in-your-mouth delicious, pictured above) and the almond blanket (mmmmmm, pictured below) right away in May and June. It was so fun looking forward to opening new treats while we were still in the throes of staying at home! 

The pastries freeze well, so we put a few things in the freezer to enjoy later. The Stroopwaffel (pictured at the top, warming on my mug of tea) were a favorite for sure! I’ve had prepackaged ones before that were fine, but homemade are amazing. The caramel hits the spot with a cup of strong tea! 

Last week, we broke out Andre’s Almond Filled Butter Cookies (pictured above.) They were incredible! Such a perfect chewy consistency.

We still have Apple Rings in the freezer, which I’m saving for September, which (in my opinion) is apple season (followed by pumpkin season, which is in October…not a moment sooner.)

And last night I opened the last mystery package and it was St. Nick cookies! I could have put them back in the freezer for December, but we’re going to eat them now and make another order later this year.

Have you received any food treats in the mail? I love that these were tastes of my friend’s childhood…I have such good food memories from growing up and I always love learning about these tiny hometown gems.

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Madison Street Art Stroll

This weekend, I’ll be participating (from a distance!) in the Madison Street Art Stroll here in Forest Park. Because of Covid, Garage Galleries was canceled and the wonderful organizers decided to try this instead. Several local businesses opened their windows to artists who will be displaying their work over the next week. My work is in the window of Local Yoga at 7234 Madison, a yoga studio right down the block from us.

Saturday, Naoto and I will be walking along Madison (wearing our masks!) to see the art and to wave to some friends we haven’t seen all summer. It’s funny how “normal” it feels to make some plans, even though it won’t be normal.

I’ve been working on setting up an online shop for my cards, something that is long overdue… It’s been a slow project listing everything…it’s fun work though! And I’ve made some new cards that I’ll be sharing on Instagram (@adamihasegawa) over the weekend and all next week.

I’ll share my window set-up next week, too. It was fun to put some of my window display skills to work again…though my display is much simpler than some of the concoctions I had to hang at my old job!

I hope you have a good weekend! Take care!

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