Balcony Garden 2014

garden 2014
It seems I do this once a year, but skipped last year. I get to planning new things for my back deck. This year seems especially exciting after the awful winter we just had!
In keeping with my #96 in my #100in500 goals, I am going to get an electrician to come and light my outdoor world! At first I was thinking chandelier, but being how this is the windy city, perhaps something a little closer to home might work better. I can add as many twinkle lights as my heart desires though, right?
So here it is! The 2014 back deck plan with budget! The big bucks will go towards the cushions and pillows, but that’s where I think it should go! I want to spend as much cozy time in nice weather as possible this summer. I love that they all match, but are not totally matchy-matchy. It reminds me of a little “Mixing Patterns” post I did a while ago. Also going to try for a little privacy garden wall using the Ikea Socker. Not convinced this is the final solution, but interested to see.
I may keep my current run, but it could use a little refreshing, and this could be just the ticket.

Kindergartner’s Chore Chart

A couple of years ago (almost to the day!) I created a preschooler chore chart for my boy. It worked pretty well, and was fun exercise for awhile. Now that he is a big boy of 6 – it’s about time it was updated! If you are looking for one yourself, has a really cool one. But, of course I wanted to tweak it for our needs, so created this bad boy. As is, the kid can earn up to $3.00 per week at this time – (a 1/3 to save, a 1/3 to donate, and 1/3 to spend, just like before.) There are daily chores, and then (as much as it pains me) there are various “he’ll have to learn before he moves on from our home” chores. Saturdays are somewhat tricker life practice chores that are once a month only that we can work on together. Sunday is a free day! So far he has been really liking the responsibility! Let’s see how far we can go!!!



Posted in MOM

100 things in 500 days (Due Monday, August 31, 2015)

I didn’t do everything I aspired to do 4 years ago before my big deadline – and now here it almost is! That went quick. That’s ok. I think that I gave it a sporting try. I feel fine about everything. Well, a little annoyed at myself for the lack of progress on the reading list – but life goes on. Even though it was kind of the point, that book list is probably a little out of my comfort zone anyway. I find myself running to Neil Gaiman before Phillip Roth. Nothing wrong with that, I say.

Last year, the always inspirational Amy Guth gave herself a life list of 1000 things to do. I love the idea! It’s not a ‘bucket list’, but just a list to keep oneself motivated to do more with their life. However, the number 1000 is mind boggling to me, as is 100 to tell you the truth. But, in order to push myself, but in a doable way, I am going with 100. Also, I am extending my deadline past a year and giving myself 500 days past my next birthday. PLUS, this is  going up a few months early and so I am giving myself some bonus days. It’s my game, my rules.

So here’s the list! Some of it inspired by Ms. Guth, some by others, some are just from my own head and tailored to me. I can’t wait to get started. I love #62 – which allows for some nice rewards to others for every item I don’t complete. Win-win.

100 in 500: THE LIST

  1. Renew my passport
  2. Travel internationally with my son
  3. Move career along upwardly
  4. Make a plan to invest more for retirement
  5. Edit all of my possessions (inspired by her) (Memorial Day 2014 MASSIVE clean out happened! Yard sale pending!)
  6. Create a book (cookbook, children’s book, photo book?) (Perhaps use this?)
  7. Live closer to my parents / find a way to encourage them to visit me more
  8. Invest in stock market (buy on the way down; sell on the way up!)
  9. Take a road trip on Route 66
  10. Own a car? (not sure if this is a thing I want really or if I am just loving Volvo station wagons right now)
  11. Make/do something for Care For Real (my local food pantry) with a team of friends & our kids
  12. Throw some pottery
  13. Stand in the Skydeck thing in the Willis (Sears) Tower
  14. Continue to work on growing my own herbs in the summer – USE THEM! (used my mint for this yummy mocktail) DONE!
  15. Take a photography class (this bootcamp class at the Chicago Photography Center?)
  16. Go to at least three great music shows (March 22: Civic Opera House – The Family Barber with the family; July 21: got to see my son’s favorite babysitter play violin with her band at the Pritzker!)
  17. Schedule regular date nights with my husband (book dates and childcare well in advance!)
  18. Volunteer my time at least 6 times (been cooking at the Ronald McDonald house. would love to keep it up!)
  19. Utilize my Divvy card
  20. Take a night swim in Lake Michigan
  21. Do yoga everyday for 30 days
  22. Invite dinner guests over once a month (It’s happening! Here’s March, April went undocumented – too busy making and eating 6 g-free pizza pies!, May we had friends over for Memorial day and made mocktails, ice-cream sandwiches, and this)
  23. Buy myself a good piece of jewelry
  24. Reach 500 twitter followers
  25. Read at least 10 of the 40 list. Edited 5.1.14: I am MUCH more interested in getting through at least 10 on my GoodReads list now.
  26. Go to a museum I’ve never visited before (Went to an event at the Chicago History Museum. That totally counts, right?)
  27. Drink 64 ounces of water every day for 30 days
  28. Make an Ethiopian meal including gluten-free injera
  29. Reupholster something
  30. Cook every recipe from one cookbook
  31. Make a perfect “Dark ‘n’ Stormy” cocktail Edited: made my own Ginger Beer – and made the perfect Moscow Mule instead!
  32. Turn a shoebox and a magnifying glass into a smart phone projector. (like this)
  33. Make my own vanilla extract (Made coffee liquor, and compound gin – instead!)
  34. Construct a French inspired coat hook for my hallway
  35. Sew a pair of felted mittens (for example)
  36. Change out all of my old (UGLY) outlet + covers (instructions)
  37. Make a magazine prism  (like this) (1.20.14 done! I knocked this out on my first day of this post. Easy, fun, and purty. I love magazines…)
  38. Teach son to tie his shoes (good idea My mom knocked this one out for me!
  39. Paint an abstract painting DONE!
  40. Make a ghost chair (cover existing chair like this?)
  41. Sew a mountain pillow (instructions here)
  42. Use nothing disposable or plastic for one week
  43. Take a trip to Port Aransas (my favorite Gulf of Mexico island from my youth) Love that little Island!!! It hasn’t changed. Hope it never does.
  44. Go deep-sea fishing with my dad and son Was deep sea, and we didn’t catch much, but it was awesome.
  45. Tube the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, Texas
  46. Go to Schlitterbahn
  47. Stop drinking out of Styrofoam (working on it!)
  48. Create at least 30 blog posts talking about completing items on this list. #100in500 (at 3 and counting)
  49. Try 15 new restaurants or bars (TRIED + APPROVED: Sable, GiltChef’s Burger Bistro, Yum Cha, The Aviary – BEST fancy bar EVER, Richard’s Bar – BEST dive bar EVER)
  50. Post a great “before” and “after” photo of something I did to my house on my blog (does this count?)
  51. Attend my best friend’s baby shower DONE!
  52. Hold my best friend’s baby
  53. Dress nicely to work everyday (Fridays a little less so) (I’m trying! April)
  54. Start reading all my magazines digitally
  55. Get an iPad mini
  56. Go through a corn maze
  57. Schedule regular massages
  58. Create a great daily facial routine (time to look into a Clarisonic?)
  59. Donate to at least 3 Kickstarter campaigns that I truly believe in (Wild Apple Magazine) (Leslie Documentary)
  60. Donate a $100 to charity for every goal not completed by my list deadline (Monday, August 31, 2015)
  61. Start blogging regularly again
  62. Find a perfect runner for my hallway
  63. Find a perfect rug for the dining room
  64. Reboot my Living Room to include an office
  65. Go on a long hike in a beautiful place
  66. Get my record player up and running again (who knew a new Crosby needle would be so hard to perfect??) and increase record collection (Urban Outfitters have the needles. Wasted to much time and money on wrong fitting Amazon ones.)
  67. Play more board/card games with my husband (He loves them and I need to set aside more time to share in this love)
  68. Clean out my son’s ‘baby’ toys 😦
  69. Take a continuing education class focused on an aspect of my career (sales classes, I’m looking at you) DONE!
  70. Create a list of 20 business that I would love to start, narrow it down, and create at least one actual business plan. For fun!
  71. Send at least 20 homemade snail mail cards (2 and counting)
  72. Go to at least one fine-dining restaurant – order the tasting menu, with wine pairing
  73. Have a picnic on the beach with friends (May Kite Festival Picnic!)
  74. Learn how to play chess with my son (I’m doing it!)
  75. Start getting creative with bento box lunches for the boy (like these)
  76. Teach son how to ride a bike
  77. Listen to at least 3 brand new bands regularly (Spotify and my friends are helping with this! We keep adding to our shared “Mixed Tape”)
  78. Replace shower rod with a curved one
  79. Update shower curtain with something like this. (I got this? Not totally sold on it yet.)
  80. Last bathroom update: black toilet seat (just ’cause) (I did it! Love it for now.)
  81. Throw a modest but lovely holiday dinner party
  82. Go overboard on son’s birthday cake (try to top last years)
  83. Decide once and for all if it’s time to leave the iPhone behind and go the Android route. (I went iPhone… for now.)
  84. Continue to eat gluten-free
  85. Replace dining room chairs (current chairs are just not as cozy as they used to be)
  86. Take a summer Midwestern vacation (Went to Washington Island, Wisconsin. Just lovely.)
  87. Get together with my lady friends once a month (every other month is acceptable, but not preferable)
  88. Stay in touch with all friends from former lives
  89. Make three new friends
  90. Go to at least two after work career enhancing events
  91. Take over cooking responsibilities at least 2-3 times/week (husband has been monopolizing!)
  92. Wear a brand new (and crazy?) shade of lipstick
  93. Take a meditation class
  94. Take my son to a new neighborhood in Chicago that we have not yet explored together (China town?)
  95. Figure out how to make the perfect cup of coffee at home
  96. Light my back deck using an electrician and a great outdoor chandelier (Edited) wall lights
  97. Sit and be still more often
  98. Nap
  99. Breathe
  100. Laugh

2014’s Living Room / Office Reboot

I drive my husband crazy with how much I love to rearrange our furniture. Sometimes I just like to do it in my head for fun! It helps to jot it down on paper. This year I focus on perfecting my living room! Here is the plan:




See the arrows? Those are my ‘wish list’ purchases for the year. Smells like a mood board to me! Ahh, it’s been too long since an old fashioned mood board hit the Ci! Welcome to a brand new year!!!




And here is the breakdown:

a. So, I will start with the really fun. This is art!  Not really practical in the sense of I NEED IT, but – well… I WANT IT. Have for a long time. The String Light by Patrick Townsend! So simple, so beautiful. Those little red lights make me hyperventilate a little. Plus: I have the perfect spot for it. ($175)

b. I decided a while ago what color I want to turn this room into – but this is the year! Benjamin Moore – Revere Pewter. Still debating painting the beige ceramic tile around the fireplace. Have you ever seen anyone with painted ceramic tile? I love painted brick… hmmmm.

c. With the proper anchors, do you think this will hold our TV and games to the wall safely? IKEA EKBY ÖSTEN/ EKBY OXIE  ($40)

d. We need a bigger desk, I considered fashioning one out of an existing door, but it may be too big. Plus, my husband isn’t that down with it – and he uses the desk the most right now. However, I think that this will fit into the space nicely and for a great price. (It’s actually a dining room table!) IKEA MELLTORP Table, white ($65)

e. That desk will require some storage space. Enter the IKEA HELMER Drawer unit on casters, white ($40)

f. This will be my quest – find the perfect antique mirror for above the fireplace! You know I will be hunting through the Chicago classifieds! Here’s a contender! ($129)

So – for less than $500 (not including cost of paint), we can have an updated and useful living space this year, that includes found objects and a true work of art. Happy 2014!

Advent 2013


I have (not always successfully) been trying to simplify things these days. So this year, advent is going to get a little simpler than the last few years around here. This year, I am going to use up the bags I have left over from last year – and hang up on a wall. In a Christmas three shape? Maybe. In each bag will be a little chocolate or treat, along with something that I love, admire, and/or appreciate about my son. Ahhh. Here’s to simplicity! Cheers!

Here’s a sneak peak:

  1. That he loves to learn street names and cares about how he gets places
  2. That he loves broccoli
  3. His handwriting
  4. His great cuddles
  5. That he loves Classical Music and Hot Tea
  6. That he’s a morning person
  7. That he remembers the little details of things
  8. That he always, always washes his hands after using the restroom
  9. That he is always rethinking what he will be when he grows up
  10. That he is reading Moby Dick with his father – and that he loves to read in general
  11. That he helps me make great fort
  12. That he takes public transit like a champ!
  13. That he is a very loyal friend
  14. That he is a good dinner conversationalist.
  15.  That he loves a long bath.
  16.  That he plays video games with his pops.
  17.  That he always asks great questions
  18.  That he likes to sing.
  19.  That he is always working on his story.
  20.  That he is such a great swimmer.
  21.  That he loves Lake Michigan, the beach and the water.
  22.  That he is so very sweet with all animals.
  23.  That he is so curious about everything.
  24.  That he likes to tell knock-knock jokes.

Happy Birthday To The Ci!

Today is this blog’s 4th birthday! *shoots confetti*

What a whirlwind it was for this gal (is a blog a gal?) yesterday! Record views and all that good stuff. It was fun and very, very scary to share this little bloggity with my whole social network. Everyone was really nice and the Chicago’s classifieds beta is: so far so good!

Thanks to everyone for their support! Now let’s go and look at some more classy-fieds!

A beautiful vintage purple dresser with the sweetest little wheels at its feet? Just around the bend in Uptown? Don’t mind if I do!

Purple dresser




Trying Something New

Here’s something I don’t think I have mentioned here before: I don’t share this blog with very many people. Well, really anyone. It’s been here for years as a spot for me to (publicly) privately share my thoughts. Well, I’m changing that today. And here’s why:


Let me back up… Now’s where I finally come clean on what it is I do for a living. For the past 5 years, I have worked at the nation’s largest city monthly magazine – Chicago, as the Classified Advertising Manager. Working in Classifieds, for a city monthly no less, has always been a bit of a challenge in this day and age, as you might imagine. I have embraced and enjoyed that challenge however. If you know me, (or even if you don’t and have just perused this blog,) you will know that I am a fairly progressive and digitally-minded girl. What does all that translate into? Well, moving Classified advertising into the future, of course!

There has been a few very notable exceptions for success in this arena, but no hyper-local content publisher, to my knowledge, has done it in a way that is as big as I would like to see it. Until now.

Please allow me to be the first to introduce you to the brand new Chicago Classifieds, powered by Krrb. It is in beta test right now for the next few days, so please try it out. Browse these listings by neighborhood, by price, or whatever you want! Just have fun! Have some great furniture, jewelry, or other things that you have been thinking about selling? If you happen to live in the Chicago area, I hope that I have made that a little easier, more comfortable, and more fun than it was yesterday.

Thanks in advance for being a first adapter with me, and let me know what you think!

Here’s to growing, evolving, and making life better.


Cool & Peaceful Paint Colors

colors for house

I have discussed paint colors for my condo quite a bit on this blog. I first started contemplating it way back in 2009! It’s been such a fun work in progress for me. It helps me to stick with one paint brand (Benjamin Moore) and frequent my same favorite paint store (Thybony).

It’s taken me a long time to embrace and accept my love of cool neutral tones, but here I am. After all this time, and collection of ideas, it’s what I have discovered about myself. I also want my house to be cohesive and peaceful. I pinned this photo of the ocean a while back (via A Well Traveled Woman) because I loved the colors and emotion of it.

I am confident in the color choices I have already painted on my walls. Still very happy with the Deep Space with white chair rails in my dining room. (these are just random instagram pix from my feed, so bear with me.)

Screen shot 2013-06-04 at 3.20.35 PM

The kitchen took a bit to figure out. I do love the Black Panther on the two walls, the chalkboard paint on a select few, and I really love the Lacey Pearl on all the others. But the faux stainless backsplash I tried? That has since been painted black chalkboard and I like it much beter.

Screen shot 2013-06-04 at 3.23.48 PM

Screen shot 2013-06-04 at 3.31.54 PMScreen shot 2013-06-04 at 3.28.01 PM

Screen shot 2013-06-04 at 3.35.59 PM

Lastly, I do love the Stonington Gray in the foyer and hallway, but unfortunately I chose flat paint and now it’s already looking smudged and dirty. Big sigh – I’ll be doing it again someday soon.

It’s the rest of the rooms that I keep waffling on, but I think I am nearing the finish line. And here it is! Some reused from other rooms, some new!

Bathroom: Gray Wisp 

Master Bedroom: Lacey Pearl

Living Room: Revere Pewter

2nd Bedroom: Storm

All trim and ceilings:  Decorator White

But, these too could change! That’s the fun of it!