Monthly Archives: October 2012

My Edgar Allan Poe Paper Playset


Happy Halloween! It is definitely going to be a scary one! The winds this week, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, are whipping all of the leaves off the tress, leaving behind creepy bare branches. And the full moon has been shining through mists of clouds, and the filtered light is sifting through the branches painting spooky shadows on our walls. Between the shadows and the crazy flying leaves, Presley is going a little crazy around here.

So far to get into the Halloween spirit, I read some Poe (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” for book group and “Ligeia” upon Cath’s recommendation), Naoto & I made dinner in our new dutch oven (I’ll blog about it soon!) and drank a bottle of Darkhorse wine, I watched a round of Roseanne‘s Halloween episodes (best TV ever!), we watched The Shining (It’s so scary to me…and to Naoto, too!) and I built my Edgar Allan Poe Play set (pictured above)…oh, and I also painted my nails with glow-in-the-dark polish. They are really not fun unless I’m in a very dark room…

But back to the Poe paper doll. A few years ago Naoto bought me this Edgar Allan Poe paper play set from Lisa Perrin. On Tuesday (proof that it takes me awhile to get around to things around here) I cut out the figures (using my favorite Kai scissors!) and assembled the play set. Isn’t it great?! I love that Poe is wearing bunny slippers! I’m looking forward to breaking this out again in January, for Poe’s birthday (January 19th).

What are your plans for Halloween? Any spooky movies or stories in your day? Are you dressing up? (I’m not…)

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Smart Women Vote

When I was a college freshman, I voted for the first time by absentee ballot. I remember being so excited when the ballot arrived, punching my choices with the little stylus, and dropping the completed ballot in the blue mailbox near my dorm. It was really exciting, but I was so disappointed that I didn’t get to vote in the real voting booth and I didn’t get one of those I VOTED stickers. Upon hearing my disappointment, my grandfather (who always wrote me the most charming letters) sent me his voting sticker. I’d forgotten all about this kind gesture until a few years ago when I was sifting through all of my college mail and I found it folded in a letter written in my grandfather’s beautiful script. Just thinking about it makes me all weepy.

Since then, I’ve voted at the polls in every election–and I’ve always proudly sported my I VOTED sticker. And, for the past few Presidential Elections, I’ve sported these Smart Women Vote buttons. This year, I did a mass mailing and sent a bunch out to my friends and pen pals. It’s a “safe” political outreach, because it’s non-partisan…I’m a firm believer in agree-to-disagree…I know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about their political leanings, just like they are certainly not going to change my mind. (I am very stubborn.) But I do think it’s important to vote–so, no matter which side you are on, or whether you live in a red state, a blue state or a swing state…as they say in Chicago–vote early and vote often!*

*Kidding…just vote once.

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Coffee Talk | A Dunkin Donuts Marathon

I was introduced to Dunkin Donuts coffee my freshman year of college. I had been there as a kid for the donuts, but I didn’t know about their delicious coffee until my boyfriend-at-the-time, Kevin, took me and some friends there for a late night snack. It was love at first sip, and I’m happy to say, my love for Dunkin Donuts long outlasted my love for Kevin (who cheated on me that summer).

My friend Jackie & I frequented that same Dunkin Donuts several times a week throughout our four years of college. We didn’t go in the morning like “normal” people. We went at night, a few times a week to chat, to do homework, to procrastinate, to make important college life decisions, for friend counseling sessions…

Our Dunkin Donuts was the old-style: with the stools and the counter and a couple of booths along the side. We always sat in the same booth. (And if you were there in our booth, we would be secretly angry at you and the minute you left, we would reclaim our spot.) We always had the same lady serving our coffee. I can’t remember a single night she wasn’t there mixing up our medium coffees with the perfectly magical amount of cream and sugar. Occasionally, other customers–particularly men too old to be trying to mix it up with young college women–would talk to us, and our lady would come over to make sure they weren’t trying any funny business.

By our senior year, we had clocked hundreds of hours at “our Dunk”. We decided it was only fitting to end our Dunkin Donuts era with a Dunkin Donuts Marathon–and no, not the running kind of marathon. On the last week of classes, we would go to Dunkin Donuts in the afternoon, sit down in “our” booth and stay for twelve hours.

We arrived just before noon and ordered 2 medium coffees with cream and sugar, and settled into our booth. Our lady wasn’t there yet, so I’m sure the daytime crew was wondering what was going on when, several hours later, we were still sitting there, drinking yet another coffee. Most of our friends laughed at our plan, but then came to visit us during our endeavor. We had forty-four visitors that day (I know this because we kept a guest book, which I still have.) We drank a TON of coffee, and ate donuts and breakfast sandwiches for our meals & snacks. We shared our Dunkin Donuts memories, chatted about our futures after college (neither of us had secured a job at that point), crafted and studied for our final exams.

The Dunkin Donuts Marathon is still one of my favorite memories from college. I moved away from that Dunkin Donuts when I got my job & my first apartment, but I found a new one near my office and I became a regular there. Not in the same way…but the familiarity of Dunkin Donuts still takes me back to the carefree days of college.

You can find previous posts from the Coffee Talk series here.

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Happy 40th Anniversary


Happy anniversary to my parents who are celebrating forty years of marriage today! Here’s to many more years of happiness!

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Halloween is almost here, and other than making some spooky mail art and decorating my desk, we aren’t really celebrating. I always have intentions of renting scary movies or going out to a bar in costume, but that hasn’t happened in years. I do have a good habit of reading something spooky, mostly thanks to the fact that my book group has a tradition of reading macabre novels and short stories during our October meetings.

But just because we aren’t hosting a party doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some spine-chilling wine with dinner next week. The bottle above–Darkhorse Cabernet Sauvignon–is my absolute favorite. (I’ve mentioned it before in this post.) They were sampling it at Trader Joe’s one afternoon and I immediately bought three bottles. Then, it was out of stock and I was devastated…so much so, that when it came back, Naoto bought a case for me. (You can’t help but love someone who buys you a case of wine.) And, it’s only $6.99 a bottle–a great price for big, juicy deliciousness.

The other bottle of “Halloween wine” in our cabinet is Bogle’s Phantom. The eerie label would be perfect for Halloween night, right? Phantom is a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre. It’s definitely more complicated than the Darkhorse and more expensive at $16.99 a bottle.

My plan is to enjoy both of these wines next week while finally cooking up something tasty in our new pot….and maybe even reading a ghoulish Poe story to Naoto along the way…because if I’m being honest, he will be doing most of the work in the kitchen.

What are your plans for Halloween?

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Digging Out


This week has been all about reclaiming my home and my time from Mail Call–eventually I promise to stop talking about it…at least for a few months.

Above is a picture of what my dining room looked like on Monday night while I was packing up the Veterans’ mail packs. I was using the buffet, a side table from the living room and the dining table to spread all of the personal, general and student mail so I could build each veteran’s Mail Call and pack them all up in the backpacks. At one point, I was working on the floor because I didn’t have any table space left, but as I made my way through the alphabet, I graduated to a chair and the dining table.

On Tuesday, after my morning volunteer shift and a nap, I sorted through all of the mail call stuff and packed it up to take it to the airport office for winter storage. This is what it looked like (not counting the 18 backpacks that were on the flight). I had ten empty banker’s boxes (used for sorting mail), five boxes of leftover general & student mail, two boxes of stuff and eight empty boxes for recycling and eight USPS bins that I’ve accidentally been hoarding. (Don’t worry, I’ve already given them back to my trusty letter carrier.) It took three cart trips to take it all downstairs to my car, and a handful of wonderful volunteers to help me carry it all into the office.

I’m going to say it again–it feels good to have some space back around here! Now, back to the rest of the clean-up!


Our Hardware Cabinet Finds Its Home


Last week we finally bought our first grown-up TV. Actually this is the first television purchase for either one of us–both Naoto & I have lived on TV hand-me-downs (and my gifted college TV from this post) our whole lives. When I met Naoto, his TV was so old, it didn’t even have a remote control and mine was my parent’s old set that worked perfectly, except it occasionally made this sizzling noise. It was slightly alarming, but harmless, until one day, it sizzled out in the middle of a thrilling Law & Order episode. Sad. (Confession: We hopped in my car and sped over to Naoto’s apartment to finish the episode.)

We finally got everything set up with HD and all that fancy stuff (clearly, I have no idea what I’m talking about here) and here it is! And we are so excited that it fit on our vintage hardware cabinet from Yearbook. Even the HD cable box tucks nicely to the side! (Sidenote: Do you remember this Friends episode where Rachel randomly wears her old cheerleader uniform to woo Joshua?)

I love our little hardware drawers. Most of them are still labeled with the contents of each drawer. I have a vintage Dymo label maker, so I might break it out for the drawers that have lost their identification. But I’m keeping the original old labels on the others.


I still need to vacuum out the drawers and decide what we are putting in them (any suggestions?), but for now, we are really happy with our impulse furniture purchase.

P.S. I tried to wipe off the stuff on the bottom drawers, but it seems to be more permanent than dirt…just so you don’t think I didn’t try.

P.S. (Part 2) Thanks for all of the hair love last week! Every comment made me smile!

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Another Post About Mail Call…

It was a close call*, but all of the mail for the 2012 season is packed up and ready to be “delivered” to the eighty-six Veterans on the flight home tonight. I did 100% of the mail call work for this flight yesterday–on the day before the flight–CRAZY! But it worked out fine, and I found myself quite productive under pressure. I wrote 100% of my college papers on the night before they were due (ahem, or on the day they were due!), so this was merely a procrastinator’s flashback.

I’m heading back to the airport in a bit for the Welcome Home, then coming home and crashing in my bed tonight to catch up on the sleep. (I stayed up too late last night watching the debate coverage and the Bears game!) And, I’ve promised my dear, ever-so-patient husband that I will put our home back together again tomorrow…maybe I’ll post some before/after pictures so you can gasp at the insanity around here. (Or maybe not.)

*exaggeration…I was done by 9 last night. I had to have the mail at the airport by 3:15 this morning…plenty of time!

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the Last Mail Call of 2012


Today I will be working on sorting and packing mail for our last Honor Flight of 2012. And, though I love my volunteer job and I love my mailman and I love doing something for these deserving veterans, I am so ready to have my house back. No more piles of mail sitting around, no more file boxes in my spare bedroom and dining room, no more lugging backpacks to the car…and, I am ready to have some time back to craft and write letters and clean and get ready for the holidays. (I don’t mean to sound complainey…I am just ready for a little break.)

So, off to sort and pack up a few thousand pieces of mail for eighty-some veterans…the flight is tomorrow morning and I have a lot of work to do!

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on a whim…

Last week I made a hair appointment on a whim, thinking I would just get the usual inch or two cut off again. My hair has been really long for a really long time. But instead of doing fun things with it, I usually kept it knotted up, or in a pony tail. Totally boring. And, even though I always had good intentions of learning fun long hair styles, I didn’t have the patience to keep practicing. I rarely braided it or put it in a sock bun…never anything really wild and crazy (except for the occasional fish bone braid, which I love!). And, I hardly ever wore it down because it just got in the way, or got all tangled and I just looked unkempt.

So, lately I’ve been feeling the why-bother-with-long-hair thing. Fall felt like the perfect time to chop it all off, because it would grow again to pony-tail length in time for summer (in case I decide that I miss the pony tail thing).

So I chopped it off–rather, my stylist, Beata chopped it off…literally.

It was a surprisingly calm moment…there was no holding of my breath while Beata tied up the hair and broke out the scissors. No gasp when the ponytail dropped off. I think it was the right decision 😉

Here are the twelve inches of hair, all ready to donate to Locks of Love. It’s the second time I’ve donated hair to them…at least someone might be able to benefit from my laziness about getting haircuts!

And here’s me…a little lighter in the hair department.