December 18, 2011

I'm Getting a Puppy!!!

The countdown is almost over!  Little Arlo comes home on Thursday. I cannot wait!

  Arlo Junior  

October 3, 2011

It’s Getting Hot in Here

It’s fixed!!! My oven is finally fixed!!! I celebrated right away with a frozen pizza. 

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Now it’s time to catch up on all the baking I haven’t been able to do.  Where to begin?  Well, for starters, I started with this recipe from Pinterest: 

Now these are currently in the fridge at work, awaiting a hungry lunch crowd!

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October 2, 2011

New Neighbor

This weekend was the annual “Design Harvest” event featuring all the great interior design and art stores on Grand Avenue in Chicago.  It was a fun event… and a critter followed me home! 

Owl Vase

September 22, 2011

A Letter to My Broken Oven & Favorite Fall Recipes

Dear Oven,

I miss you.  While not baking for two months has proven to be beneficial to my waistline, I miss you immensely.  Please let the new part sitting on the countertop fix you, so I can make these:

Mini Apple-Cheddar Turkey Meatloaves from Southern Living - With a muffin pan, you get automatic portion-control!

Monkey Bread from Cooking Light - Can you think of a better way to kick off game day?? You know I love Big Ten football!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting via Real Simple - Yep, they're easy, and cute and totally yummy.  (Oh, and people will think they're way more complicated than they are!)



p.s. While I wait for the repairman to come back to fix you, I guess I'll have to find those slow-cooker recipes... or try these favorites from the Queen of Southern Cooking, the Great Paula Deen:

September 13, 2011

Did I Start a Trend?

So, little known fact.  I hate checking my mail.... the physical, paper mail.  Rarely is there anything good in there - bills, more bills, catalogs, junk mail for insurance companies, did I mention bills?  If someone dropped it on my kitchen counter, I'd look at it every day, but opening up the box and carrying it inside is just a hassle to be reminded I owe someone money.  I actually enjoy checking my mail for about six weeks between December 1 and early January - holiday and birthday cards!!  Anyways, I digress.

Last night I got my mail on the way home and... yippee!  There was something fun.  The new fall West Elm catalog!  I took a peek and low and behold - who else thinks a navy wall is hot in the bedroom??  They totally stole my idea. (wink wink)

Pardon the bad pic, but you get the idea:

West Elm Catalog - Navy Wall  

This is a great excuse to show off the wall styled with my collection of white frames:

Master Navy Wall with Frames

September 12, 2011

Cheap & Non-Committal: A Perfect Kitchen Chalkboard

Chalkboard Paint

Just a small container of chalkboard paint, an inexpensive canvas from the craft store and a few coats of paint on a Sunday afternoon, and.... (drum roll, please!) 

Chalkboard Paint - Finished

A kitchen chalkboard!  

First of all, it's functional.  The raised canvas makes it easy to cover the ugly extra cable/phone outlet and the FIFTH kitchen electrical outlet!  (Note: did the developer think I was going to have a Crock Pot convention in there???)  Best of all, it's fun.  I've got a cool space to leave messages for guests, cheer myself up with goofy quotes, and switch things up from time to time.  I can only imagine what my guests will write when left alone with a little bubbly and chalk!  Maybe it's almost time for a party to find out! 

I had considered painting the actual wall or buying a chalkboard vinyl thingy to adhere to the wall, but this was by far the easiest option - and totally non-committal.  Perfect, right?  (No comments from the funny farm, please.) 

If you needed a reminder, this little kitchen nook looked like this before.  

September 10, 2011

Sneak Peak!!

The second phase of my condo painting is complete!!!  You might remember this winter I painted the guest room white.  This time, I hired a little help to do the master and main living space.  I'll do the bathroom myself this fall.

I don't have much back on the walls and haven't had a chance to do much decorating, so these are just a little teaser.  More soon! 

Painting Phase 2

Painting Phase 2

September 8, 2011

In the Navy

You may have noticed in the previous post a navy wall.  Yep, one of my walls is being enlisted in the navy when the others go crisp white... momentarily!  Which one?  That's a surprise, but I will show you the fabrics I purchased on to freshen up coordinating throw pillows!

Pillow Fabrics
1.  Japanese Floral Print,
2.  Premier Prints, 
3.  Japanese Diagonal Stripe, 

Well, what do you think?  I always get nervous purchasing fabrics I haven't seen in person online.  The colors are never perfect, but I'm hoping they all work together and play off my soon-to-be navy wall!  

September 7, 2011

Pinpointing Projects

Like everyone who loves design of all kinds, I've fallen in LOVE with Pinterest. Even if the idea comes from another source, there are always a host of images on Pinterest to inspire by typing in a few search terms.  As a value add for bloggers, the site makes it super easy to properly attribute images to their rightful owner.... fantastic news for someone who doesn't have time to take her own photographs, yet still wants to blog. (No clue who that may be....)  When I do find a few extra hours in the day, here's a sneak peek and a few hints of upcoming projects.

... chalkboard paint!

Source: via Emily on Pinterest

Source: via Emily on Pinterest

... an accent wall!

... fun with color, white-on-white and words!

September 6, 2011

Wishing on a Budget

Once my place is painted, there are just a few more finishing touches to the furnishings I'd like to make before the year ends. I'll be scouting for deals, sales and may seek out a few paying photo gigs for extra cash to make these purchases sooner rather than later.  (And, if all else fails, Santa, are you reading this?)

It's actually a short list and all items I've been dreaming of for quite some time.  First of all, I've had a crush on these chairs for years, and am currently stalking them on Craigslist for a good deal.  I've noticed them super-reduced before, so I am confident I can find them at a steal.... eventually!  Several of the furniture stores in my neighborhood have fantastic acrylic ones, but they're WAY out of my budget.  

Next, I love my dining room table, but it just doesn't work in the space.  I've rearranged furniture for hours... and it's just wrong for the condo and too big for my day-to-day life.  Sad, but true.  This little puppy pairs nicely with my dream chairs and would open up the south end of the house, nod to the dark woods and modern look in the kitchen, and just tie the whole space together.  I've had my issues with West Elm quality before, but I think this is a "go."  

Finally, I tried to make my sisal rug work in the living room, but it's just the wrong shape.  I tried to sell it online, and that didn't work either.  Now it's in the bedroom - and it actually looks FANTASTIC!  But, when winter comes I'm going to need a rug in the living room as well to keep my feet warm.  I've loved this pattern from FLOR since they debuted it earlier this year, but I didn't start obsessing over it until I visited it in store.  In fact, if they stocked their store, I probably would have walked out carrying it.  (Yep, I'm a sucker.  It's why I window shop at aforementioned neighborhood furniture stores without a wallet.)  Paired with white walls and dark floors (like the picture), it will look great in the space.

Let's see how smart I can be with my money so these babies can find their way home to my house!  

September 5, 2011

Time for a White Out!


I picked a color!  I picked a color! I learned my lesson after grueling all weekend in the guest room earlier this spring just to learn I didn't like "Snow White."  This time, I bought a tester.  Guess what?  Everything I've read in magazines and across the blogosphere was right - Benjamin Moore White Dove IS the perfect white!  I'm so excited to finally have the house painted the way I want it.

Stay tuned for results... it's going to be a process!!


August 15, 2011

A Big Day for a Little Sis

This past weekend was a momentous occasion in the life of this little sis. I may be 30, but part of me will always be the kid sister clamoring for her big brother's attention and approval.... and after almost eight years as a Chicagoan, my brother Ben FINALLY came to visit me in the Windy City. With just a few hours on the interstates of Indiana and a few wrong turns on Chicagoland tollways, my brother gave me a precious gift - he allowed me to show him and his whole family what my life is like - the home I own, how I get to work, the crazies on the CTA, all the good and the bad of my little life in the big city. It was a short trip, but a BIG deal.

It was an awesome weekend. The kids had a few meltdowns, there were tears, there was some whining, there were two emergency trips to KMart, but, there was also....

Animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo
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Aunt Emmy's Favorite Pizza at Pizano's
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The Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier (Ben, your secret's safe with me)
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Dippin' Dots and Family Fun at Navy Pier
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American Girl
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The LEGOS store
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And... the CTA bus!
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P.S. A few great quotes from the kids:

  • Zoe (while walking into my place): "Aunt Emmy, is this a hotel?"
  • AJ (while on the bus): "Aun Em-eh, you are so pretty. I love you."
  • Zoe (as we're leaving my place): "Aunt Emmy, that's your pink pepper spray. You spray the bad guys with that.... in the FACE!!!"
  • Zoe (after being told she can't eat in my bed): "Aunt Emmy, why are there so many special rules at your house?"

THANK YOU Big Brother!!!  I love you! 

August 13, 2011

One Morning Can Change Everything!

Last week I was planning a post about which dining chairs to purchase.

Dining Chair Decision

And then, I got a knock on the door.  We had sewage in our basement.  Thousands and thousands of dollars later, I'm now more worried about insurance coverage and special condo assessments than chairs.  This is what my basement looks like now:


Funny how one little thing can change everything, right?  The chairs will have to wait.  No big deal.  The mold is gone and I don't feel like death anymore, so all will be fine.  I'd still like your opinion on the chairs though!

August 3, 2011

Minor Improvements

I haven't had time to tackle any large-scale projects lately.  But, I have to admit two simple projects my parents helped me with have been bringing some much-needed joy to my everyday life:

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Look!  The hose doesn't hang out of the faucet anymore, thanks to a new weight installed underneath, courtesy of a sweet old man at The Home Depot and my daddy.

Blackout Shades - for $12!
Mom contributed by helping me turn my inexpensive roller shade (purchased from the previous owner's tenant with all the other window shades) into a black-out shade.  For just $12 at the fabric store and less than an hour of labor, the security light outside no longer keeps me up at night.  HOORAY!  This little improvement also opens the door to my next little project....

July 28, 2011

Who wants to paint?

If it wasn't obvious from the previous post, my dresser is now in the living room.  And I'll admit to the fact that this little move involved more than my little green rug trick.  I had to reorganize and purge my entire closet so my underwear wasn't also in the living room. 

Why did I make the switch?  I hated the proportion of the small cabinet with the components under the large TV.  The cord also was distracting to me, but most importantly, cold air from my bedroom vent wasn't circulating like I had wanted with my bed against the wall in my master bedroom.  To move it meant moving the dresser out.

Once again, the following room arrangement cost $0 in new furniture.  (Although I did switch out my box spring for IKEA's wooden slats - around $30.

Master 2.0

Master 2.0

Master 2.0

Next up?  A paint job and a pair of light, bright, white curtains to better flow with the living room. 

Living Room 3.0 - A Closer Look

I'm still loving the third reincarnation of the living room space.  Here's a closer look at how I've transformed the space for $0:

Living Room 3.0

Living Room 3.0

Living Room 3.0
Organic and modern, old and new... and now the TV cords are hidden!

Living Room 3.0
Candles in the glassware - fresh, simple, and helpful when the power goes out!

July 12, 2011

Switching Things Around...

Some may call rearranging furniture an obsession, others a disease.  Me?  A fun way of spending a Sunday night. 

June 13, 2011

Now That's a Deal

Have you jumped into the daily deals trend?? I’ve found them to be a great way to try out new workout classes and fitness experiences here in Chicago, but every now and then there’s a deal on One King’s Lane, Joss & Main or Foundry that I just cannot pass up. Usually their high-end deals are too expensive for my budget even at half off, but I still like to look.

Recently my favorite Kate Spade china pattern was HALF OFF!! While I think my friends and family would commit me to a mental institution for putting eight place settings of china and silver on a credit card, I did consider it. Who says you have to be married to have fine china??? But, not only would that deem me totally crazy to most, I also just don’t have the storage right now.

Instead I bought something I could afford, without using credit, that doesn’t need seven brothers and sisters to be a complete set. What do you think of my new, classy frame?  I heart her.

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June 12, 2011

Catching Up

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I'm sorry for once again going silent.  It's the never-ending migraine battle and long hours at the office slowing draining the life out of me.  I've made some little changes here and there at the condo and have a few more in my head... stay tuned!  

May 4, 2011

My Shiny New Toy

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Isn't she lovely???  My very own Moroccan pouf was delivered to the office last week, but due to a business trip to the "D" (aka Detroit) and quite a few late nights at the office, I haven't had a chance to enjoy her much yet.

The online reviews were only so-so, but I don't believe the other reviewers know what a Moroccan pouf is supposed to be.  This one is fabulous, and it brings a little Nate into my life.  (It's from the Nate Berkus line at HSN.)  She goes well with a glass of Layer Cake Malbec and HGTV on the DVR around 11 p.m.... that I do know.

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May 3, 2011

Switching It Up with Two Yards - Part 2

As I posted yesterday, I bought two yards of Anna Marie Horner home decor fabric on a few weeks ago in hopes of adding punches of color to the living room... on a dime (errr... $30).

In addition to the pillows, I finally found a "pop" for the Shirden family secretary unit. I promise, no family heirlooms were damaged during this project.  (I can't say the same for my fingers.) 

All I did was carefully measure and cut cardboard to fit the backs of all three shelves and cut fabric to cover each one. 

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After taping the fabric to the cardboard inserts, I just popped them in!  Easy, peasy! I did try to line up the fabric so the design would look consistent, but I just eye-balled it. I'm tired on Sunday afternoons, what can I say?

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How did I do? 

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May 2, 2011

Switching It Up with Two Yards - Part 1

Can I spice things up with just two yards of home dec fabric??  When I moved in, I started with a very neutral palette in the main living space with the plan to add in colors over time as fabrics and pieces that I love come into my life.  I own now, so there’s no rush, right?

Sure, but I have very little patience and a very small budget to match.  To patch things up, I decided to spend about $30 on two yards of fun, high-quality home decorating fabric.  

My last apartment was very bright and bold, centered around the Anna Marie Horner quilt I made.  (It lives in the guest room now.)  I wanted to tone the colors down a bit for my grown-up condo, but I did find my way back to Anna Marie Horner again.  This time one of her home dec fabric collections stole my heart and my $30 budget.  I started with two pillows and the remaining yardage will show up in a few more unexpected places later this week.  

New Pillow, Rug

Pillow Work - Close-up

I’m loving the navy and ultimately would like to add a navy and white rug when I can afford it.  Teal is also really hot right now and blends in well with the neutral palette.  To stretch the two yards out a bit, I used a white backing on the larger pillow, leaving plenty of fabric for my next project.  How have you stretched a tiny decorating budget into value-size?  

May 1, 2011

Sunday Night Recipe Night

I like to make a nice meal on Sundays.  Well, I like the IDEA of it and am trying to get back into the habit.  Tonight I made Lemony Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp.  You can check out the easy recipe at Gourmet Magazine.  Yes, it's as good as it looks: 

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What they don't tell you is that you'll have to clean up a mess like this:

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April 26, 2011

Guest Room/Home Office Version 3.0

Guest Room - Stage 3

The guest room/home office has already been through several iterations since I moved in December.  And while version 2.0 was the most dramatic with the white walls and new bookshelves, I’m pretty fond of the final look.  The best part?  The last round of improvements didn’t cost a penny! 
Guest Room/Office Window
I repurposed my pedestal side table and lamp from the living room, giving me a spot to house my laptop and light to read by. Have I blogged about the curtains?  They're from IKEA and I LOVE them.  
Guest Room - Stage 3
My favorite mirrors bounce light from the ceiling fixture off the wall and really showcase the tall ceilings. The bookshelves are still all the storage and organization my little heart could ever desire.  The sofa is now my favorite spot to "work from home." 
Guest Room - Stage 3
This wall is a hodge-podge of frames right now, but they’re all things that needed a home.  
And, in full disclosure, this is what the final wall typically looks like.  I’m not perfect!  The exercise ball makes me feel healthy and the ironing board is at the ready for quilt projects.  
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