Category Archives: Chicago

Get Smart with Art: A Mommy and Me Story.

artinstituteI remember being little and my mom coming into my classroom once a month as part of a program called “Get Smart with Art.” She would bring a painting and then ask us kids about it, volunteering her time. I was always excited to see her and it felt special to have her there. One of the earliest paintings she brought, and the one that always stuck out to me, was Van Gogh’s Starry, Starry Night.

Because of the special circumstances, I remember the very first moment I saw that painting (a reproduction, of course). Now, it’s everywhere–on posters and in bookstores and in dorm rooms–but because I saw it the way I did, I was awed. It was not just another painting but something truly spectacular, even if I was in first grade.

So when the Art Institute of Chicago had a special Van Gogh exhibit, I really wanted to go with my mom because he has always been special to the two of us. This one happened to be on his bedroom series. He painted his bedroom three times: one lives in Chicago, the other in Amsterdam, and the other in France. This exhibit united all three and Van Gogh’s constant yearning and search for a sense of home. The timing of the theme of the exhibit was particularly poignant to both of us at this point in our lives.

While we were there, we saw some of the Institute’s other gems. Everyone talks about Monet and so I sometimes forget that he really is that awesome. I was awed not just by his lilies but his dreamy cityscapes of Paris. They may have been my favorite of the day. Of course, I love Degas as well because my mom has been a dancer her whole life, and like Van Gogh, we always had a connection to his work because of it.

My mom is the person in my family who I can not only sit on the couch and watch The Mindy Project with but also go to museums. We like learning new things. We like museums. This was a sweet story to add to our collection of art memories together–particularly in Chicago.




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New Apartment Living Room Reveal.

So as I may have mentioned 2,345 times, I moved. But you don’t know the full story. MK, my current roommate, had a roommate before me that needed out of the lease three months early. This was great for me because I needed to move. So I started packing and slowly moving stuff over but then the other roommates situation fell through. I panicked, obviously. This back and forth happened a few times before the other roommate suggested I still move in for the last three months of their lease and live in the dining room (it is a spacious two bedroom). Ultimately, her situation ended up kind of working out so I did get her room but her things still live her and she is slowly moving out. As

Ultimately, her situation ended up kind of working out so I did get her room but her things still live here and she is slowly moving out. As her things are moved out, mine are moved into place which had a different vibe than hers. MK and I have a similar vibe so it has been working out well (when she moved in, she moved in to the old roomie’s stuff) and I want to show you the living room which is the most finished (I would say it is at 95%).

We like clean lives, open spaces, and expensive things that we either don’t pay full price for or things from Target that look expensive. I would say that is our aesthetic in this space. Also, bikes (you’ll see).

Here’s the before:livingroombefore

And here is the after:livingroom6You may recognize my little gray couch and the poufs:livingroom5How cool is that gramophone? You put your iPhone in it. The couch and the pillows are from Homegoods. The white side table is from Target, as is the lamp on the other side of the table (we love the lamps because they look so expensive). The poufs are One King’s Lane and the throw is West Elm. Most of this, I owned in my previous apartment. As for the other side table, more on that to come.

Speaking of stuff from my old apartment, you’ll recognize this setup in a different order (ikea, baby!):livingroom1You may notice the bikes which we can ride inside thanks to this trainer and watch The Mindy Project at the same time. I kind of love them because they are decorations in and of themselves. Also, my bike is cream, not yellow. I am very sensitive to this. Ha.livingroomSee how pretty they are? And functional for working out! They also go great with the artwork from MK’s sister. She is seriously amazing. Her etsy shop is on hiatus but I can’t wait to feature her here and for now you can find her on IG. Speaking of, we are going to add two more of her paintings to that wall (the one that is up there now will go in the middle and it will be a series).livingroom4On the opposite wall, above my gray couch, we will be getting a mirror so that the art will reflect and also this huge room will appear even bigger. The artwork and the mirror are the only two things left to do in this apartment.

That floor lamp matches the other table lamps and is also from Target.

One of the greatest finds was our coffee table which is actually nesting tables which we un-nested and use the babies as side tables. MK got this Safavieh set up for super cheap…and when we went to pick it up (she needed muscle), this wealthy family was also like, “Hey, do you need rugs?” to which we said, “Yes, fancy people we would love free rugs” (those are in other parts of the apartment). The rug in this room was given to MK from her parents when they no longer needed it. I didn’t know if I would love it but now I do! On to, the coffee table. livingroom2I think we have truly transformed this room into a place that is light and bright. We are both creatives so we spend time in here not just watching tv but also working (the office/dining room is in process but soon, soon it will be ready).

What do you think? Remember this is a rental so we had to be creative in order to transform it?





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Moving: A Drinking Game.

wine1My roommate tells me every girl should own a power drill. I did not know this and have been using elbow grease but it makes a difference. Still, even with a power drill, bolting a bookcase to a plaster wall can be an adventure. I don’t remember exactly when we decided it was time to go out and get refreshments but for this story’s sake, it make sense that it was about the time that we had a hole in the wall deep enough to go through the plaster into the wooden stud and into plaster again. About one inch in diameter, it would have been the perfect place for a secret camera. Since that was not our intention, we were thirsty.

We were suckers but sometimes it pays to be suckers. We laughed at ourselves when we fell for the display of the wine and cheese pairing. “This just looks delicious,” we said, knowing it was ridiculous. Hey, guess what? This random wine is now, I think, my favorite white wine I’ve ever tried. The recipe, when putting together bookshelves and realizing the parts you got to replace the ones that don’t fit still don’t fit, also calls for white cheddar (aged 6 years, from Canada).

Cut to another night of putting up the draperies in a a bay window. We had to go back for more wine and cheese. We binged Making a Murderer while sipping and snacking at night…a show with many themes, one of which is the bearing of class and wealth in the justice system. We drank our wine and and ate our aged white cheddar like huge jerks.

But we also move rugs and furniture. I unpacked (or started to). I put together a headboard. We (mostly my roomie) held the power drill high above our heads for long periods of time for projects (which is much harder than one would expect). We balanced precariously on stools to unscrew lightbulbs. We didn’t drink through all of this, of course. Through some it? Yes.

But some nights, after work and some serious manual labor, we opened a bottle. Turns out there was a sale on the very wine I loved when we went back for it. So I bought five bottles only to be informed that if I bought another, I would receive 10% off. I’d actually done my research and knew what major liquor stores sold it for (actually, to be honest, in a moment of delusion, I wondered how much a case would cost and googled it so that’s how I found out all that pertinent info…which is crazy because I think I have bought less than a case of wine in my life). We ended up saving almost four dollars a

MK, the roomie, says this is a nesting phase. Whenever one moves, one likes to get all fancy and go through a wine phase. I believe her because I have never been much of a drinker. Honestly, not much appealed to me outside of champagne (taste-wise) and that’s so snobby. When I lived in SF, and took day trips to Napa and Sonoma, I learned to appreciate wine for what it is. I also learned that expensive wine really does (usually) taste better.

Our little wine is not expensive, especially how we came across it. And it’s the best. Maybe this would have been a shorter phase if I would not have fallen in love with the taste. And maybe after everything is resolved and life feels “normal,” I won’t be rearranging our fridge based on wine bottles.

So. This moving thing? It’s kind of like a drinking game.





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Bedroom Reveal Part I: Whoa, We’re Halfway There.

newbedroomEvery time I feel as if the chaos from moving is abating, I am wrong. So I am not even going to say something like, “Things are settling down here” because who really knows at this point. What I do know is that I have lived in various studio apartments for the last four years so having a bedroom with a door is both great and a bit disconcerting (but mostly great).

I’m going to be real with you: in putting together this space, I wanted to spend as little money as possible. #Truth Still, everything wasn’t completely salvageable from my previous place. newbedroom7Because of aches and pains and health issues and sleep issues, my bedroom has to be my cozy safe place. I knew, after a year and a half without a headboard, that I needed one for my back (also, my bed frame in the old place was broken any way). I found something simple and chic, a deep gray with brass studs and clean lines,at All Modern on Cyber Monday (it was quite the steal…plus it can adjust to a queen if I ever upgrade). I actually had to pick several because before I knew it they sold it. I was actually worried with this choice but I am in love with the deep charcacol.

Just add actually attaching the headboard to my simple metal frame to my list of things to do. newbedroom3

As for bed linens, this was something I had to replace whether I moved or not, for a number of reasons. I went with white again (this time from Target) and I’ll tell you more about that when it actually gets on my bed. Since I finally got my sheets today, you’ll be probably seeing everything in the near future. newbedroom1I loved my old rugs but the fact was they were super shaggy. I probably would not have bought them if I knew exactly how shaggy they were. Have you ever tried to vacuum shag? Yeah, you can’t. Besides that, the space needed a bigger rug anyway. While the latter could not justify my purchase, the former definitely had to.

Can I tell you how depressing rug shopping is? Rugs are so expensive. I was looking at over-dyed Perisan rugs ala Mindy Lahiri but in blues and teals. I knew I could not afford the ones I was looking at so I figured the rug would come way further down the line.

Then my friend showed me this rug at Target and it was under $100. For a 6’7″ x 9’8″, I was in. Again, a Cyber Monday steal.

Oh, here are the shoes/booties if you like them (a lovely Christmas gift).newbedroom8These IKEA stackable tables are around $4.00, I believe. I bought them when I moved into my first Chicago apartment but it ended up too cramped for them. I finally put them together (with the help of my roomie) and was also informed that these are called fraternity tables. Ha!

I accessorized with things I love, that I already own. The jewelry box is from Italy and I picked it and bought it myself when I was sixteen. I didn’t get to look at it every  day at the old place and now I do.

Books have to be near me. It really is like my personal feng shui. One of my friends always jokes with me because I usually keep books in bed with me…Now they are just right next to me. Books on San Francisco, a book in Italian I am picking my way through, and the prettiest collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald you ever did see. The lamp used to be on my mirrored nightstand which is on the other side of my bed. Gotta keep it practical with some hand cream in these Chicago winters and an easy grab go jewelry situation is a must.newbedroom6Like I said, nothing new here. I believe in actually lighting candles, especially Capri Blue Volcano candles. They aren’t for show or to save up for a special occasion. And this jewelry trinket dish has served me well for years upon years. Obviously, there needed to be an elephant here because well. Do you know me at all?

Bonus info: the walls are painted the same color as my pale flesh. The more stark white I add, the more neutral it feels and the less I think about flesh. I say this with affection because I really do love this place.newbedroom5Guys, for the record, the Elena Ferrante book I am reading translates to Troubling Love. Just a minor by the way in case you were worried about what I was reading.

What’s left to do, you ask? Well you may have noticed these pictures don’t give you a view of the whole room. So I am definitely not done.

Tomorrow, I will change all the bedding. The dressers are from my nursery (can you believe it??) and one of them has my TV on it (something else I’ve never had: a TV in my room) and one of them is still in transit from a family member’s home. The one in transit will serve as a vanity below a mirror that was once in my mom’s room when she was a little girl and then in mine all my life.

As for hanging things, I will get to it. Oh and curtains. I found some expensive looking ones at Target that I am excited to put up.

All I know is that I’ll just have to take that list one at a time. So what do you think? I’ll be keeping everything pretty neutral but for that fabulous rug.

It’s coming together??

I’m just going to believe that sentence is true.





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The Real Deal on Moving

realdealmovingGuys, you know those “how to” posts when it comes to moving? I feel like I should write “How not to Move,” as I sit here on my bed which is in the Dining Room of my new place. I am happy to say that all my belongings are here too which is a feat in and of itself (with many thanks to my mom and my dad and my friends Liz and Kate…If anything, moving shows you who is willing to lend a helping a hand and who is not willing. Because I am the type of person who struggles to ask for help, I was so humbled by the help that I did get).

Yes, so here I sit. Gather around for the real deal on moving. There are lots of piles, guys. Lots and lots of piles. But as of right now, we are three people living in a two person apartment until March (although the third person will slowly be moving out). I plan on living out of a suitcase for the next several weeks and I know I can do it because I had to do it for quite some time in SF. I know it would be so fabulous to have incredible room reveals this week but hey, I don’t know if you noticed, but this is real life.

So yes, I cannot wait to share the new place with you but it will most likely will be a bit as you can see from the few pictures up there. The other night, MK and I went to the hardware store and bought some tools I can guarantee you have never heard of to try and fix up the bathroom (there is good news and there is bad news). But hopefully, in the right time, I’ll slowly show you guys stuff. It’s a lot different than my other place in a lot of ways but I think it’s very charming.

Moving is hard. I don’t think it is the hardest thing in the world by any means but it is not the easiest. I kept trying to look at things in a positive light: thanking the people that helped me, thanking my body for waiting until the very end to totally give up on me, etc. Honestly, I am just glad it is over. Now comes the weird Tetris game of living in a two bedroom with three people for just a few months, living out of that suitcase, unpacking and all that fun stuff. I can promise you I do have the gumption to do it though.

Thank you so much for bearing with me through the move and the holidays (whoa, man…those two things nearly knocked me flat on my back…and maybe they did). I have some exciting things coming up and possibly a new look and name. Stay tuned.






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