City Kid: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Now that August is walking – well, more like running – I’m always looking for new ways to engage both his brain and brawn. And with the weather slowly turning from dry and hot to rainy and cool, I’m also looking for fun indoor spaces where he can burn some energy while engaging his imagination. So where to go? One of my favorite Chicago gems: the Nature museum!

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has been in their current space since 1999 but has been a part of Chicago’s history for more than a hundred years. An interactive educational space for people of all ages, the museum’s mission is to create a positive relationship between people and nature. Sounds like the perfect place to me!

Just a stone’s throw from the Lincoln Park Zoo, the museum sits north of Fullerton Avenue and is surrounded by a gorgeous (and hilly!) prairie restoration complete with hiking trail. It’s the perfect place to stroll your toddler before entering the museum itself. The fresh grassy smells are enough to make you want to escape the city for good. But we know that’s never going to happen, right?! At least we have a bit of ancient flat lands to explore in our urban backyard! Continue reading

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Green Living: Eating Clean On a Budget

Eating clean – it’s the best and most clear cut way to describe what it means to limit your intake of pesticides. There seems to be an ongoing debate in mainstream media whether eating organic food actually makes a difference. A highly referenced 2012 Stanford study claims that there are no obvious health benefits to eating produce labelled organic. Can that really be so? Has history not taught us that ingesting insecticides, among other chemicals, causes increased risk of cancer, birth defects, and other health issues?

hunter hills csa beets

Beautiful beets grown on a friend’s “beyond organic” farm in rural Pennsylvania.

If you’re anything like me you too are skeptical of recent headlines counterclaiming the benefits of eating organic. If you’re also like me, you know that choosing the big O also means paying significantly more for your fresh greens and fruits. So what’s a budget conscious health savvy vegetarian to do?!

Let me introduce you to the saving grace of shopping organic: The dirty dozen and clean fifteen. If you’re anything beyond a green living novice, these two lists are probably already part of your shopping arsenal. But if they’re not – be ready to take screenshots of the graphic below.

So what are these lists? Each year the EWG, aka Environmental Working Group, puts out a list of the 12 crops that have tested highest on the pesticide scale, as well as the 15 that are lowest. Continue reading

August’s Nursery: First Edition

It’s been exactly a year since we converted our bedroom into a nursery for our little jelly belly. I was three weeks away from my due date and a maddening urge to nest hit me. I had made a plan for the space but hadn’t done much beyond having David put up the crib and pop some art on the wall. One year later his space has undergone a multitude of changes, which is when it occurred to me, I never shared the first edition!

Photo by Megan Saul Photography

Photo by Megan Saul Photography

We live in a vintage one bedroom in Chicago’s populous and energetic Lakeview neighborhood. Our flat is sizable for the area – we have a sun room, formal dining room, large kitchen and a living room with built-ins and a fireplace (just for show though!). When we found out we were pregnant in May of 2014 we decided we’d work with the space we have rather than moving into a larger apartment. We love the character and location of our current place and knew that to find a two bedroom even remotely as cute in such a good neighborhood would be a long shot. So we decided to stay!

 

Continue reading

DIY Gilded Baby Print Ornament

We are so excited about August’s first Christmas! How will he regard the feast, the presents, the stockings, the caroling?!

This important milestone is one that we’ll probably remember more than him, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t pull out all the stops for our little merry jelly belly. For this first baby-centric-Christmas we’ll be continuing some long-standing family traditions, while throwing in some new ones just for August. The first – an annual handmade Christmas ornament.

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To help inspire this sentimental tree trimming  I sifted through pin after pin on Pinterest but quickly found the tutorials lacking. Many of the handmade ornaments were too crafty looking (I know – there is such a thing I swear!). I wanted August’s first ornament to capture this important milestone while still retaining a modern classy feel. I really liked the idea of capturing a hand or foot print but instead of the traditional pressing method I opted for a different technique: embossing. This way I could capture his tiny digits without creating something too cliche. Continue reading

Maggie Daley Park

Our little jelly belly turned eight months earlier this month. Crazy how time flies, right?! Besides hitting a new age, our little man sprouted his first two teeth, said da-da, and started to crawl. And all in just a week! These  developmental leaps were a sudden wake up call that his infant days are fleeting.

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After this realization a rush of sentimentalism washed over me, prompting me to schedule some time off for a staycation with the boys. I wanted a handful of days where I could slow down, spend time with August and his dad, and soak up the season.

One of the highlights of our recent stint of hometown tourism was a visit to the new Maggie Daley park. Continue reading

DIY: Baby Gnome Hat

little august

Little baby August was born this past Valentine’s day at a hearty 7 pounds and 6 ounces. But despite his ample weight, this long and lean baby has the tiniest of craniums, causing any and every hat we have for him to slide down over his eyes. The result: one fussy baby! So what’s a mama to do? Make some DIY hats of course!

To ensure our little guy’s noggin was staying nice and toasty in our home and beyond I whipped up a simple yet chic hat design that I could create using various fabric scraps. Using printed fabrics on a bias instead of elastic, and solid t-shirt fabric for the top, August’s “krasnoludek” hats have become an instant hit! Keeping his head warm while adding a pop of color to his ensembles, making these little gnome hats in different color combos is becoming my new pass time, in between feedings and naps at least.

So without further adieu, I bring you a quick photo tutorial on how to make a baby gnome hat (or two or three!) for your own little bundle. Enjoy!

diy gnome hat from pierogi picnic

DIY: Eco-Friendly Handmade Gifts

DIY upcycled sweater stockings

Are your fingers feeling itchy to craft? Then get those digits to work!

To get your creative juices flowing, I’ve assembled my all-time most popular DIY tutorials for you to peruse through. Click on any of the photos below to read the full set of instructions on how to make these practical and design-savvy eco-friendly gifts for the holidays.

After all, nothing’s more festive and heartfelt than something that’s handmade with love!

dit printed eco gift wrap

diy orange spice face scrub face scrub

diy upcylced sweater leg warmers

homemade cheek and lip stain

embellished heart elbow patch sweater

diy sweater bracelets