Recap of the Workshop at Forest Park Public Library

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I taught a winter card making workshop at Forest Park Public library last month. It was a drop-in class so people could come at any time and make a card or two. I have taught in-person card making classes, and I’ve taught a card making class on zoom, but I had never taught a card making class where everyone wasn’t working on the same card at the same time. I was a little bit nervous, but while making my samples, I figured there were several places in each card where independent work would give me a chance to help someone else. And it all worked out just fine. I even got the highest compliment from a women who makes cards all the time. She said that she learned some new things at the workshop. Goal achieved.

I had six card options–two origami, two with other paper folding, a layered card, and a shaker postcard. The glittered vintage paper trees were by far the most popular, and the most challenging. It’s really hard to get the hang of the folds, even though it looks so simple.

It was especially fun to see everyone making the cards their own. This is an example of a snowcat card based on my snowman card. I love how Michelle used the little gems to make a holly accent on the hat and just the whole concept of a snowcat!

Has anyone started thinking about their Valentines? Too soon?

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Happy Birthday, Naoto!

Happy birthday to this guy, who keeps us all together and fed and laughing and loved every day. In true Naoto fashion, he is working all day, but hopefully we can make up for it with a fancy sushi dinner tomorrow. ❤️

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A Very Presley Christmas 2021

May I present our 2021 holiday cards? I loved them so much and I couldn’t wait to show you, even though I think some may still be arriving or on their way.

Last summer, I asked Donovan if she would draw something for our holiday card and she agreed. I still love and use the stationery she drew for my birthday a few years ago. I asked her to draw a tree with ramen, cocktails, mail, and a tuna underneath–a few of our favorite things.

Then, I shared this picture of Presley on Instagram. She was looking very grumpy in a Santa hat and Donovan decided to add Presley too. We couldn’t have been more delighted.

I had the cards printed as flat cards (like a postcard, not folded like a greeting card) because I don’t write long messages in my holiday cards. It was the perfect little greeting. (And thanks to my friend Mark at Printing Plus for printing and delivering them to me!)

In addition to our cards, Donovan surprised us with these wonderful faux postage stamps. She was inspired by Presley to draw holiday stamps of a bunch of cats she knows for her Patreon supporters. (If you scroll back on her Instagram (@dovbee) you can see them all. Or you can join her Patreon and download them all!) I used our stamps to decorate the envelopes of our cards that went out to cat lovers and Presley fans.

I hope it was a good holiday season in your mailbox and I’m looking forward to writing some mail this week and I ease into the new year!

P.S. This is not a sponsored post–just genuinely love Donovan and her work and Mark’s print shop!

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Book Club Christmas Tea 2021

Book club has been a wild ride through the pandemic. We met on zoom for all of 2020, and finally reunited in person in May for a rainy meeting in my back yard. Through the summer, we were lucky to have good weather for outdoor meetings. Even in November, we met around our fire pit with blankets and winter coats. We’ve really made the most of being together.

Last month, before Omicron and the latest surge, we decided we would do our annual Christmas tea in person. We are all vaccinated and boosted, so we all geared up for a back-to-normal kind of party again. But…things changed so rapidly, and we decided to modify our plans at the last minute.

We still met in person, but we decided to do our toast out on Susan’s porch in the open air. We all masked when we weren’t actively drinking and we wore our winter coats to stay cozy. There were only six of us–two members were traveling, one member wasn’t feeling well, and one member had a close call with Covid so decided to opt out–so we spread out in Susan’s spacious living and dining room to eat and then put our masks back on for the book discussion. We ate chicken salad sandwiches, radish and sandwiches, sausage rolls, scones, grape salad, and lots of Christmas cookies. Susan made a spiced ginger Prosecco cocktail that was warm and festive.

It was super cozy eating and chatting by the fire. We read Miss Read’s Village Christmas which is a short, sweet book from the 1960s about two spinster sisters and a Christmas adventure with their new neighbors. If you’ve never read Miss Read, her books are just delightful.

In 2022, we will celebrate our 20th anniversary as a group. Who knows what that celebration will look like, but I’m so grateful for this group of ladies who share my love of old books!

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Oh Christmas Tree 2021

We got our tree over Thanksgiving weekend and it’s the tallest tree we’ve ever had! Our new house has taller ceilings than the condo did and I figured, why not go all the way to the top!

Well, things look a lot smaller on the tree lot! Our tree is one inch from the ceiling–thank goodness we didn’t go for the tallest option and thank goodness I never put the star on the very tippy top! It was also slightly more uncomfortable driving with the tree hanging out of the backseat window. But we made it home!

It only took another purchase of lights to finish everything off, but I think it’s well worth it. I just love this time of year when it’s dark outside but there’s a comforting glow of Christmas lights inside.

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Winter Card Making with Forest Park Public Library

I’m teaching a card making class at the Forest Park Public Library on Thursday! If you are local, you can sign up here. It’s a drop in class, so people can come and make a card or two and leave, or they can stay and make all five. I have a couple of Christmas ones, but also some general winter ideas so if Christmas isn’t your thing, there will be something for everyone.

I am bringing a typewriter, rubber stamps, vintage papers, some origami, and glitter…plenty of glitter. (‘Tis the season after all!)

This is my third library event. (I don’t think I told you about the week I presented about letter writing with Schaumburg Library, did an online Valentine making workshop with Forest Park Public Library, and closed on a house, have I?) Library events are a lot of fun–a very relaxed way to learn, and free!

I’ll be back with more Christmas posts–holiday parties, workshops, and wholesale orders are keeping me busy these days!

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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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