Category Archives: Chicago Specific Fun


Our condo is on the market. Woo hoo! Fingers crossed for a fruitful sale. Here’s some photo evidence of the efficient and affordable work we did to prep our home.

Kitchen Update

We went with cabinet re-facing instead of replacement because it is so much more affordable. The doors are new, but the faces are not–they have a new plate over the old one to match the new color. We upgraded to a granite countertop, an under-mount, stainless steel sink and modern hardware, all of which the cabinet re-facing company helped us do on a budget. Danny did the backsplash himself with this peel and stick tile from Home Depot. It took him a few hours, it looks great and it is easy to replace if the new buyers don’t like it. Instead of spending $30,000 on a total kitchen re-do, we spent $8,000 on a pretty fantastic facelift (if I do say so myself).08597806_3_1

Master Closet

I have always loved our Elfa closets in the master bedroom. However, when we had them installed, The Container Store told us we would get more shelf, rack, drawer space if we removed the bi-fold doors. We said, “yes please” and lived with open closets. I think, when it is organized, it looks really nice, however to accommodate a pickier buyer, we purchased tension wire from Ikea and curtains from West Elm to add an optional “door” to the closets. (We splurged on the curtains because we plan to use these same four panels to cover the huge windows in our master bedroom at the new place). The tension wires were easy to install, however one is working perfectly that the other has required additional repairs. It even pulled out of the wall once. It was also the first one we did, so maybe that was just user error.


We waved goodbye to all of our personal photos and put them in storage. Then we hired some guys to fill all the holes (from all the photos) and paint the wall. Yes, we could have hopped on the struggle bus and done this ourselves, but we felt the $200 was totally worth it for saving hours of our time and potentially sanity. There were a lot of holes…

The paint is photographing greener than it really is. Actually it looks more blue/grey in person.

The paint is photographing greener than it really is. Actually it looks more blue/grey in person.


So far, we have sold two unnecessary pieces of Target furniture on Craigslist and gone through every closet and cabinet for items to sell, items to trash and reorganization. I also re-organized these bookshelves to make them a little less crowded.

Elphie, photo bomb!

Elphie, photo bomb!

Yes, I got rid of some books, but mostly I re-arranged everything. I put like colored books together, turned some things on their sids and tried to avoid long rows of just books. Honestly, I cannot wait to create styled vignettes throughout our new home, mostly using what I’ve learned from Young House Love and watching too much HGTV.

To Do

There are still some areas that need help. This mess, for one. Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetAnd obviously we couldn’t update/paint/fix everything. I would love to replace the blue carpet in the bedrooms, replace bathroom floors and vanities and put new hardware on all of the closet doors (right now they are white plastic and I still may get to this one), change the light fixtures, and re-paint the entire apartment except for the newly painted hall and the two green walls that I love. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset  Also, I pretend every day that this ceiling fan does not exist.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

However, I believe that with the work we’ve done, we will find a buyer who will love this place like we did–and who maybe even loves a gold-plated ceiling fan.


Hyde Park Night

I’m ashamed to admit that I am one of those Chicagoans that really sticks to their neighborhood. Or really the few neighborhoods that I already frequent–Buena Park, North Center, Andersonville and Lincoln Square. That’s it. So when my friend Allison said she wanted to do dinner, I said, “Why don’t we come to you?” She lives in Hyde Park, and the only times I’ve been there I have been picking stuff up either from her apartment or the University of Chicago–all for the theater. Shameful. So last Friday, Danny and I took Lake Shore Drive past the exit for I-55 to meet Allison and her beau and found Chicago, the college town.

Like for real, a college town with its mix of little independent shops and restaurants, the essential big box places and bars. It was a gorgeous night in Chicago so we ate dinner OUTSIDE (thank goodness) at Z & H. It was taco night and we had our fill of tacos, guac, chips, and quesadillas. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

It was delicious, even if ordering and receiving the food was slightly chaotic. They subscribe to the deli model of taking your name and then shouting when your food is ready, which would be totally fine if there weren’t very segregated seating areas. Not to worry, we got our food and ate. it. all.

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 presetNext, we attempted to go to the new, swanky A-10 for drinks, however were denied access–no seats available. And it clearly wasn’t a standing bar. So instead we went to what can only be described as the exact opposite of new and swanky, what I’m told is a Hyde Park classic, Jimmy’s. Which isn’t even its name, mind you. The official name is Woodlawn Tap, however I think if you call it that, you might get kicked out. This is a college bar. Bad beer, torn up seats, loud, dark, FUN. We got a pitcher of beer and chilled with some friends of Allison’s that had the same idea.

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Here’s the other thing about Hyde Park; apparently everyone knows everyone! Walking down the street, sitting at dinner and upon entering Jimmy’s we ran into no less than 5 people that either Allison or her beau knew. Craziness. Sure we were surrounded by people who did not look a day over 15 to me, but who I’m sure were in college, saying things like, “If I wanted tacos, I’d just go to Big Star.” But we had a fantastic time and I loved the vibe of the neighborhood. People just out and about having a great time. Thanks Allison and Sam for a great night showing us your hood!

Weekly Obsessions-April 22

I had an obsession-free week last week, or rather it was all work. But I’m back! And this week I am waaaaaaay into…

1. Comfy Summer Shoes

Like these Naturalizers that make me feel like a 23 year old in both activity and appearance:

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And these Grasshoppers.

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For real, it’s like walking a gel mat. My friend with psoriatic arthritis turned me on to this brand and, girl, THANK YOU. Chicago street fests, here I come.

2.  This Pendleton Notebook 

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I spied a set of three of these adorable journals months ago at Foursided, one of my favorite stores in Chicago and also the location of my new gig (more on this later). When I purchased them back in January, they were added to my “Empty Notebooks” shelf, but I took this one out this week because my personal life was feeling a bit disorganized. At work, I fill up notebook upon notebook with, well, notes and lists. They keep me on task at work, so I figured I should do the same at home. Between the adoption, listing the condo for sale and hosting a whole slew of people, things are getting pretty crazy round here and I need a beautiful place to keep it all running smoothly. #heritageblanketpatternskeepmesane

3. Tuesdays

Tuesdays are my new Saturdays and I’m loving it. With my new gig as a Friday-Sunday shop girl at Foursided (remember how I love this store so much that I went to it on one of my first YoF excursions?) and my regular gig at the theater Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Tuesdays have become my day. I sleep in. I make a delicious breakfast and/or lunch. I organize my life in my Pendleton notebook. Yes, I occasionally succumb to doing neglected work for the theater. And sometimes I run house errands or go to the doctor, but mostly, I enjoy the sun streaming in through the kitchen windows, blog or write and catch up with the world. Tuesdays are my moment of zen in an over-scheduled, over-worked, kinda crazy week.

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What do ya’ll do to unwind on your day/days off? Provided you have them, right?

What’s with that anyway? Sometimes on a Tuesday, I’m like, “Why do we all work so hard and so much when sitting here in the sun, thinking or writing or talking to someone else is so satisfying?” Does all the work allow me to appreciate this moment more? Or does the fleeting nature of this moment make me resent how hard I work?

But them I’m like, “But I help make art happen. And I bring theater to kids who might not have it otherwise. And I cut out tons of little rain drops to make a cute window display for April.” And that’s cool.

Anniversary Times

Yesterday was the hubs and my second wedding anniversary. Our weekend of eating and cleaning was, in fact, part celebration. We did not leave our trip to West Elm completely empty-handed. Since the traditional two-year present is cotton, we splurged on some great sheets and a new quilt for our bed (Elphie has chewed many holes in the old one). I love the chevron pattern against the simple (yet double-sided) coral quilt. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We also went out for a drink and dinner on Friday night at Fountainhead (one of our favorites, fantastic rooftop deck in the summer), which is something we hadn’t done in a long time. We realized that we had both been so busy with work and adoption stuff that we had been neglecting date nights.

So yesterday, we tried to create another date night by walking to the cute corner store that sells alcohol, sandwiches, chocolates and pasta (a fine mix if you ask me) to grab a champagne split. We had also purchased some fish and brussels sprouts in preparation for making an anniversary dinner to enjoy at home.

Well, we tried a traditional french recipe on the fish–except we used some grapefruits instead of lemons–and it turned out horrible. I mean horrible. Like congealed fish with buttery/grapefruit flavor. We had to dump it. So we sat down with our champagne split and our delicious roasted brussels sprouts (just tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin then roasted for 40 mins at 400) to partake in our wedding anniversary tradition: watching the wedding video our friend Gregory made for us.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

The video is about 10 minutes long and, to me, it is perfect. It captures everything that was special to us about our day from getting ready and walking down the aisle (a wooden plank on the beach) to the canopy decorated with homemade tissue flowers (credit mostly due to my mom, though others certainly helped), to our best friends and family speaking and witnessing, to our kiss and the spontaneous hugging and dancing that immediately followed, to the dinner, drinks, and dances and, finally, to one of my favorite moments, the men’s exact dance replica of that heartfelt pop classic, N’Sync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye.”

We talked about watching it every year, about forcing our kids to watch it every year, and it made our night, congealed fish and all, so much better. Also, we may have then eaten a bunch of Haagen Dazs to make up for the fish. Happy Two Years to my boo!

Also, I’m sure we can’t be the only ones who have had anniversary plans fall through or not work out (though it did also kind of happen to us last year in London. Sheesh). Tell me about your not-so-perfect anniversary celebrations.

Weekly Obsessions-April 6

This week I am totally obsessed with Spring Cleaning. I have been a madwoman. No closet, dresser, or counter top has been safe from me. This weekend, after cleaning the entire apartment, the hubs and I went through every storage space/surface in our bedroom (including the closet-yikes), the hall closet and both bathrooms. Everything is organized, pretty and clean.

I would like to think this is something we would do every spring to rid ourselves of that which we’ve accumulated over a long winter of hibernating. However, I know better. We are super motivated in preparation for listing the condo for sale. In fact, part of Saturday’s organizing included visiting with our realtor on the market, listing price, and some things to change/fix up before listing. We plan to fix all the holes in the hallway walls and then paint. And, of course, going through the living area and second bedroom with the same fervor for cleaning and organizing. That second bedroom in particular is going to be a doozy.

However, the weekend wasn’t all work. The hubs and I rewarded ourselves with a trip to a few furniture stores to pack away ideas for the new place. We are both totally obsessed with West Elm’s Mid Century Modern Collection, so we peeked into a few vintage shops to see if we could find anything similar at a lower price. We did find some similar pieces, however they were the about the same price…Not to worry, though, we will keep looking!


I mean, come on. Gorgeous.

I also took the hubs on his first visit to Bang Bang Pie Shop. Biscuits and vegetarian gravy topped with an egg. French silk pie. Need I say more? Just go.


The face of the happiest and most satisfied of campers.

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