10 Shades of Gray

I had a friend come to me this week freaking out about finding the perfect shade of gray to paint her new apartment. She came to the right gray paint obsessed gal! I had no problem ticking off 10 colors that I love. This is truly one of the things I really enjoy doing and thinking about.

I only know Benjamin Moore, as I find the process of choosing color so overwhelming as well, that I have to set some limits. I know I like BM paint, so I just go there.

I was thinking, oh I wish I could store these somewhere, and looky here! I have a bloggity to do that on! So here are my current fave BM grays:

perfect gray

Of all of these beauty’s though, Revere Pewter always seems to win with me. It’s the perfect neutral that reads both warm or cold to me depending on its surroundings. This is the one that I pushed my friend towards. Her question? But what accent colors could she pair with it? Easy! Pretty much anything! But of course I had an opinion to share, and here is what I gave her for her new lakeside abode: Bohemian Vintage Lake Michigan.


Minimal Wardrobe Project: Summer 2015

summer cap

I have really been enjoying this exercise! It’s a snap to get ready in the morning, a breeze to pack for a trip, and pretty good on the pocketbook. I started this spring with my Minimal Wardrobe Project, and I am excited to keep it up for the summer, with a few revisions.

As before, if you see anything above that you may be interested in researching further, you can probably find it somewhere on my Pinterest boards.

The whole thing worked pretty well this spring, but there are a few changes I’d like to make this go around. First off: shoes. I have decided that they are accessories to me (I don’t include accessories in my final 40). Taking shoes out of the final 40 gives me a few more items in the wardrobe while still feeling minimal. This makes me happy and that’s the point of this whole thing, right?

So the big thing this time is the numbers, rather than the specifics I think. Many items will stay the same, while I can shop through my stored items, replace some things that are getting worn out, and buy a few things to round out the collection. (I have a collection!) So in the graphic above, you’ll see some question marks. Those questions could end up evolving a bit throughout the summer. The main thing for me right now is being strict about the final number.

So without further ado, here’s the final 40:

– 10 (or 8) layering pieces (5 blazers, 5 cardigans. I may take 1 of each of these out to add a couple more dresses. I love dresses for the summer, so it may be worth it.)
– 6 bottoms (includes skirts, pants, and maybe a jumpsuit. I KNOW!)
– 6 (or 8) dresses (this one must be carefully considered.)
– 15 tops (this is where a lot of the shoe inventory went to, as I know now that I need lots of top options.)
– 3 outerwear (I live in Chicago, people. It still can get cold in the summer, and this needs to last through September!)

There you have it! Let’s do this thing! (again)

Summer capsule

Main Accessories

  • D’orsay flats*
  • Straw Hat*
  • White Converse*
  • Coral-Colored Scarf

5 Blazers

  • white
  • black
  • red
  • beige
  • gray?

5 Cardigans

  • yellow
  • black basic
  • black with pleather accent
  • cream/white
  • ?*

6 bottoms

  • Old Nave Sweetheart Jeans
  • Old Nave Rock Star Jeans
  • Black Waxed Jeans*
  • Black legging Jeans*
  • Striped Skirt
  • Cami Jumpsuit*

6 dresses

  • Floral Maxi
  • Black Sleeveless A-line
  • Chambray Dress
  • Hot Pink Strappy dress
  • Black and white patterned dress
  • ?

15 tops

  • 5 tanks
  • 1 message-y shirt
  • 2 nice short-sleeved white t’s*
  • 1 nice black t*
  • 3 patterned, short sleeve shirts
  • 3 dressy tops

3 outerwear

  • Denim Jacket
  • Pleather Biker Jacket
  • Rain Coat

*to buy

Taking Stock: APRIL

Trying to get back in the swing of things after my wonderful spring break in Texas with my family and the Bluebonnets. Spring fever (and my pending birthday) always makes these kind of navel-gaze time-suckers irresistible to me! From a Pip’s blog from down under, here is me, wasting time by taking stock!

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Making : Cub Scout Scrap Book of the most meaningful moments of my 7-year-old’s life. (Well, helping to make. It’s a family affair.)
Cooking : Made a Paella over the fire pit for my father for his Birthday! It was totally cool. (sort of used this recipe. photo by the amazing jenna)
Reading: I am hooked (HOOKED) on the Divergent Trilogy right now. (On book two.) But I have to admit that it was humbling when my 10-year-old buddy Hank saw the book on my table and we discovered we both had just started book two. And both are loving it.
Wanting: My birthday is this weekend! I asked for this bag that’s on my spring 2015 capsule. (Spoiler: I just bought it for my boys to give me. Ha!)
Wearing: I’m on week 2 of my capsule project and so far it’s been GREAT. Packing for a trip was a breeze, and I have loved everything I have worn everyday so far. Also love my new spring minimal ‘do.🙂 (Taking bathroom selfies? Not so great.)
Pondering: I have been really lax on the Gluten-free thing for the first time in… what, 6 years now? I wonder if I can eat it minimally and still feel heathy.
Questioning: Do I want to live in Chicago the rest of my life? If not, for how long? Where else might I want to explore? Will it wait until the boy is not school-aged anymore? Hmmmmmm.
Hearing: Can’t stop listening to the Magnetic Fields station on Pandora. Every song is fantastic.
Watching: JUST signed up for HBO NOW after being cable free for 7 years! Game of Thrones in real time? Heck yea!
Deciding: Where to go to dinner for my birthday this weekend. Or do we cook? What do we cook? Hmmm.
Looking: like a million bucks. Thanks spring capsule!
Wishing: that I was still on spring break.
Drinking : With my G-free break, I am sneaking a real true beer in every now and then. Heavenly.
Playing: Podcasts whenever and where ever I can! Some of the ones I am (see next line)
Enjoying: Fresh Air, Here’s the Thing, This American Life, Radiolab, RuPaul What’s the Tee? (love him/her!), Happy Sad Confused, Invisibilia
Considering: adding to the list: The Longest Shortest Time, Undisclosed, Upvoted by Reddit, and Startup (have any others to suggest?)
Wishing: I had more free time to listen to more podcasts.
Waiting: For the next big phase of my life to come. I feel like it’s close.
Loving: My little family, which now includes a cat that likes to pee on my favorite black leather chair.
Liking: Starbuck’s new Flat White coffee. Wish it didn’t taste so Starbuck’s-y.
Wondering: If I started my own business, what would it be?
Hoping: That someday I get off my duff and start my own business.
Marvelling: At how impossible that seems.
Cringing: About how it may never happen.
Needing: Some sleep. As usual.
Smelling: Like soap and coffee. As usual.
Following: Less blogs and social media in general than I used to.
Noticing: That I’m happy about that.
Knowing: I’m not at all ready to quit blogs and social media.
Thinking: That’s ok.
Admiring: Anyone that feels like they have all their shit together.
Sorting: All my stuff and getting rid of as many things as I can. Trying to live minimally!
Getting: my shit together.
Bookmarking: I still am a constant pinner of ideas and it’s helping me sort all that stuff. (I got lots of private pins, too y’all.)
Coveting: Stay at home moms. (sometimes. but not that often.)
Disliking: When my cat pees on my stuff.
Opening: A savings account for a friend/family trip to Provence in 2017!!
Giggling: Daily about all the funny things that my son says. I like him so much.
Feeling: Really clear headed and good these days. Hope to keep it up.
Snacking: Had an office bagel earlier. Perhaps I can’t be trusted with Gluten?

You should do this, too! If you do – let me know. I want to see!

Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe #1: SPRING 2015

First and foremost: I am not and will never be a ‘style blogger’. I am uncomfortable with posting daily photos of myself, so you won’t be getting that from me either. That doesn’t mean that I don’t follow a few with great delight and interest. A couple of the ones I really love include Kendi Everyday and Unfancy. (They both seem like such nice ladies!)

It was Unfancy that introduced me to the idea of a ‘capsule wardrobe’ of which I found super intriguing. In researching, it seems this idea has been around for a while and finessed by various bloggers that I came across. The basic idea is to take a number and make your wardrobe consist of only that many items, but to be sure to really love each and every item. I decided to take it on my own spin for this spring, and see how if fits for me.

I have seen the others some up with different numbers – but I like Unfancy’s loose rules of ‘do what feels right’. In putting things together, I decided I would adopt the loose rules, and to take on the number 40 (that’s my magic number this year). That number excludes accessories, workout wear, underthings, and pj’s.  It comprises shoes, work wear, casual wear, and fancy-time wear.

The goal of this project for many folks is to keep from making a ton of impulse purchases and shop only a little every three months. Although I am all for saving money, it’s not really the main thing that appeals to me about this project. What appeals to me is that this seems a great way to streamline your look and really nail down your style. I feel like I am getting it back a little, but that for the last 5-10 years (maybe when I became a mom?) my style seemed unpinnable. I wonder if this will help?

I can’t wait to clean the closet this weekend, start donating all thing things on the ‘do not LOVE’ list, and packing up and storing the rest. So without further blah blah blah, here is my much thought about first minimal capsule wardrobe for the Spring of 2015!

spring cap

You can find links to purchase most of these things here. I tried really hard to use most of what I already own and love. You can see a few things with red stars that I still want to buy, but haven’t had the chance/budget quite yet. Here’s the breakout:

New hair: Not a part of the final number, but I thought it might be time to kick some style into my ‘do to match my spring look!

Main accessories: Even though they are also not a part of the final number, I want to have an idea of what will be the main ‘go to’s’ for this capsule.

7 Cardigans and Blazers: Not only are layers a necessity in the questionable Chicago spring weather – but I have figured out recently, that’s just what I am comfortable wearing! (Why did it take me so long to consciously realize that?) I hope that 7 will be a good number for this. We shall see.

5 Bottoms: I’m not gonna lie – this seems like a very small amount of go to bottoms, and I worry it won’t be enough. Again, we shall see.

5 Dresses: I’m hoping that having 5 dresses in the rotation will help with the low amount of bottoms. Also, this is where the more ‘fancy-time’ looks will come in. I am still looking for the perfect, nice LBD to round this out.

12 Tops: This is a pretty high number, but where a lot of the color and contrast will hopefully come in.

2 Outerwear: I almost added a moto-jacket to this, as I have been kind of wanting one, but that number ’40’, she’s coming! Also, that’s just not in the budget just yet.

9 Shoes: I almost want to treat shoes as an accessary, but NO – I will not. I think that this covers all my shoe needs and will be fun to have the limits. The question I am grappling with is that some of these are starting to show a lot of wear, and I have some possible replacements picked out. Should I allow for purchases during this time frame? Not sure.

And that’s it! Let’s do this thing!

Oops, I Did It Again (CHICAGO CLASSES)

Ok, I did it with a lot of partners and help, but I couldn’t resist a shiny young Brittany reference! (Keeping it classy…)

Remember back in October of 2013 when I announced a digital partnership with Chicagomag.com and KRRB? Well – that is still going along swimmingly, I must say. It’s great content for our site and our readers, while adding a little something to our business side as well. I hear often how much people enjoy the Chicago Classifieds, and I still find it extremely exciting.

Fast forward to a shiny young 2015 – and I am excited to announce the next Marketplace partnership for Chicagomag.com: CHICAGO CLASSES!

This partnership is a perfect example of what you will often find me preaching about monetizing content. It has to be something that helps the reader! Something unobtrusive and possibly even helpful! It can, and IS being done! 

Chicago Classes is for you if you live in the Chicagoland area and you are looking to enhance your life through a little bit of extra knowledge. Offered there, in an easy to organize for YOU kind of way, are hundreds of local classes that will enhance your personal life, your kid’s life, or maybe even your career.

Sign up now and get $10 off your first class! I hope that you enjoy and that we can keep learning and exploring this world, digital and otherwise, together.

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To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse, FALL 2014

I can’t remember when I started messing around with cleanses, but I know I mentioned it at least here in 2011. (Maybe earlier, I got lazy searching.)
Anyway, I know I have done about three a year for a lotta years now. The latest one is always my favorite because I keep narrowing down what works best for me, and my family. (My husband always joins me, and we try to be reasonable about healthy but tasty meals for my son during the process.)
We are just getting off a 7 day cleanse I thought I would share here, because – why not? I had a friend just asking about it, so I thought someone out there might also benefit.
I loved that this one was only 7 days (as we have done only 30 day ones prior – too long!), but I will still refine some other things for the next one (more lean meat!), which will come at the first of the year. I will try to post about that when it’s ready.
So, here was the FALL 2014 cleanse, in which I felt pretty darn good at the end of. I hope you enjoy!
Yes: Veggies, fruit, nuts, wild salmon, water, lentils, and plenty of fresh, organic, local produce
No: Sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, peanuts, artificial sweeteners, meat or poultry.Avoid: Citrus Fruits, Caffeine, Carbonated Water (in the form of seltzer or in soda) Why? It can cause bloating, unnecessarily stressing the body during cleansing

Water: Half your body weight in ounces daily

Each morning, upon rising: Glass of room temperature lemon water with Cider Vinegar. You may have 1 Cup Black Coffee – but only herbal tea and water after that.
  • 7-8am: simple smoothie
  • 10-11am: snack
  • 12-1pm: lunch
  • 3-4pm: snack
  • 6-7pm: dinner

SNACKS: a piece of fruit & nuts, celery & almond butter, rice crackers & hummus, plain rice cake with almond butter, steamed veggies & nuts, avocado with sea salt, even just a few nuts will do if you don’t have time to plan ahead

Simple Smoothie:

  • Fresh or frozen fruit (½ a banana or ¼ avocado make a good creamy base)
  • Veggies (pick 2-4:  spinach, cucumber, kale, chard, collard, fennel, celery, carrot, parsley, mint, avocado, etc- careful with some of those if you don’t have a heavy duty blender like a Vitamix)
  • Handful of hemp seeds, almonds or walnuts
  • add protein powder
  • Water to desired consistency (can be half coconut water?)

Before Bed – Drink daily and prepare fresh daily.
Chamomile Tea


LUNCH: Slow Cooker Savory Superfood Soup
DINNER: Autumn Arugula Salad

LUNCH: Detox Salad
DINNER: Slow Cooker Hearty Vegetable and Bean Soup

LUNCH: Detox Salad Leftovers
 Mixed Greens with Steamed Salmon, Olive Oil & Lemon Juice

LUNCH: Detox Rainbow Salad
DINNER: Black Bean & Quinoa Chili

LUNCH: Black Bean & Quinoa Chili Leftovers
 Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

LUNCH: French Lentil Salad
DINNER: Roasted Beets on Greens

DINNER: Roasted Portobellos With Kale

Capsule Organizing

It has just hit my radar, and quite timely too, as I plan to use the holidays to get some coset clean out done. This blogger has really nailed the idea of coming up with a minimal, but effective seasonal wardrobe.

I love her philosophy on the “rule of three.” Keep contents down to maximum of three choices. For each of these sets, she includes one basic, plain pair + one crazy-fun statement pair + one pair that falls between the two.

9 pairs of shoes (example: 3 pairs of flats, 3 pairs of heels, and 3 pairs of boots.)

9 bottoms 9 (3 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of shorts, and 3 skirts.)

15 tops (3 sweaters, 3 tee shirts, 3 button up shirts, 3 tank tops, and 3 vests)

I started a Polyvore to think it all through. Excited about this!

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Advent 2014

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This is the fourth or fifth year that I am blogging my advent plans (who’s counting?) This year I am excited to be trying something new with the help of these guys.

This year, I will be joining in a global Advent calendar on Instagram.  From Nov. 30 to Dec. 24 — they will be sending out a daily word, meditation and beautiful image to those who want to join.

Participants are invited to take a photo with their phone or tablet to share their interpretation of the word for that day – these include #Abide, #Thrive, #Become, #Imagine – and then post the picture to Instagram adding the day’s tag plus #Adventword.

Should be fun! Hope you decide to play along, too!

Happy holidays, ya’ll!

Ci House Decor and Renovation Wish List 2014

Pinterest is my favorite, but sometimes I want to really visualize the things that I have been pinning and pondering. This is also a good way to visualize budgeting for me. Not going to link to all the items, as you can go to my pinterest page if you are interested in learning more. The kitchen mock-up is just Ikea’s cool kitchen design tool that is a blast to mess with.

Questions I am really pondering:

• I’m OBSESSED with Benjamin Moore Gentlemen’s Gray paint color. Can I be brave enough to paint my son’s whole room that dark??
• Can I cobble together white couch and chair slipcovers on the cheap?
• Do I really need to invest in rug pads?
• Do I have a bathroom that can really handle a black ceiling? It can totally handle a fancy chandelier. Right?
• I’m still relaying on Ikea a lot. Is that a bad thing?


You have to ask the hard hitting questions, right? As for now, here are some of my collected wish list ideas.



I Made Art (or #38 in the #100in500)

If you have been following along, you know that I am plugging away at my “do 100 fun/important/just ’cause things” in my deadline of 500 days. Number 48 on that #100in500 list is to create at least 30 blog posts talking about completing items on this list. If you count the first post about the list (which I will), this will be post #3. Still a lonnnnng way to go, but here it is!

NUMBER 38:   Paint an abstract painting




Please allow me to explain. I have been a fan and follower of Illustrator, Artist, Blogger, etc Lisa Congdon for many years. She always amazes and inspires, but lately she has been doing a ton of abstract paintings. They are really amazing. I have been thinking to myself lately, “Self? Wouldn’t it be fun to put paint on a canvas and create something?” But here’s the thing: I’m not a painter. I know amazing artist and painters – and I am just not one of them. At least I didn’t actually get a formal education in fine art. But I put it on the #100in500 list anyway, hoping to inspire myself.


Then, I came across this:

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Then, I found a blank canvas at our condo garage sale for $2. The universe – and my list, were trying to tell me something.

I pondered on an image, a thought, that inspired me. I came across this amazing piece, I pinned it, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was the white space and the reflection that really spoke to me. So I ordered some silver leaf and stuff that Amazon  recommended I might need with it. I’ve never used silver leaf, and have no idea what made me think of it – but there you have it:

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I painted the canvas with my favorite interior white, that I just happen to most always have around: Ben Moore’s decorators white. Then made a half circle maker with a ruler (to center), tack (on the back), piece of tape, string, and chalk:

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Then I painted the circle with some silver paint I had leftover from the failed ‘stainless steal’ backsplash. (I was on a budget!)

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Then I used the ‘glue’ that I got from Amazon and painted over the silver part, waited for about 30 minutes until it was just very tacky, and then my son and I went to town on a windy Chicago day sticking super thin silver leaf all over that bad boy. Until it looked like this:


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SO there you have it! Post #3 complete! I kind of love it in all of it’s reflective glory. I AM an art-teast!

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