The Real Deal Baby List

19 months! How can it be that it’s been so long since the birth of Augustine?! The last year and a half have flown by, and with that countless of onesies, shoes, and rattles. Edging ever closer to two, I’m now thinking back at all of the good things, and useless things, I acquired in preparation for my little bundle.

When August was first  born we were living in a spacious one bedroom, complete with three rescue pets. Fast forward 19 months later. Now the five of us (August, Peanut, Butter, Tomato, and I) live in a vintage 2 bedroom with way more leg room, and yet, we’ve actually down-sized since adding square footage. I’ve found that the adage “less is more” truly is the way to go. Less stuff means less to wash, clean, trip over, and, the most important thing, it means less clutter. So with that context in mind, here are my favorite “I can’t live without you” items that I’d recommend to any urban parent, as well as a few things I’d urge you to leave off your list.

Must-Haves

Sniglar Crib: When looking at cribs I was overwhelmed by the clunkiness of even the most modern of designs. Many people advised against getting a crib – saying to use a pack and play or  to co-sleep. But with my brood of critters, and need to keep the design of my space flowing, I decided that a crib it would be. I was hoping to find something sleek, simple, affordable, and small enough to fit into my bedroom alongside my queen size bed and vintage dresser. And then I found it. August’s Singlar crib, from the mother of all square-foot-savvy design houses: Ikea! Not only was it sleek and lovely to gaze upon, the space conscious design allowed me to squeeze it into my bedroom without any problems. It also has that gorgeous sanded beech wood that I knew I could pop some color on in a snap. I can’t praise the design (and value!) of this piece enough. Plus – since it’s Swedish – you don’t have to worry about the materials being comprised of toxic chemicals like flame retardants. Yuck! And once he’s old enough for a bed – this beauty will convert. Can you see just how in love I am with this thing? Go get one or put it on your registry!

A Rocking Chair: This is something I didn’t have, didn’t think I’d need, and now that I do, I wish I had scored it sooner. Having a designated nursing and “let’s get ready for sleep” spot has significantly helped with August’s routine. And the reason I recommend going retro with a rocking chair instead of a glider is that it will take up less space and with all the milk sprays of the early days of nursing, you don’t have to worry about the upholstery soaking up all those wayward liquids, so keep that in mind should you be considering a glider. Our rocking chair was scored second hand from my apartment’s previous inhabitants. I found a cushy pillow and seat cushion to strap on it and it works like a dream. I find that it puts me to sleep just as easily as August!

Vintage Dresser: My vintage dresser is one of my all-time favorite furniture pieces, both pre and post baby. Picked up from a Craigslist add, this classic piece has six sets of drawers, a nice wide surface, and a detachable mirror. Once pregnant I knew that I’d need a place to change the babe, but didn’t want to buy something new. So the dresser it was! Adding a foam changing pad to the top, and emptying the drawers of my stuff to make way for the baby’s, this furniture piece provided the perfect place for flipping diapers, clothes, or just having a coo fest in the mirror. I also love knowing that further down the line, once he’s potty trained, I can reclaim it for use in my own bedroom. So it’s an item that will far outlive the early infant years.

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An Indie Biz: Taking a Break

Summer in Chicago: Inkling Boutique Sign "Treat Yo' Self"

Boy – is it hot outside! And beyond the naturally imposed sluggishness that creeps into my summer self, I also find that the season brings tons of distractions. Whether it’s a close friend’s wedding, long walks in the park with the dogs, swimming in the lake or festival hopping, there’s nothing like making the most of summer in Chicago!

Or so I found myself thinking on a recent weekend afternoon, as I sit sewing away at my machine. I started to fantasize about all the events, get-togethers and experiences that were taking place in my absence, when it dawned on me: I need a break!

This September will mark the five year anniversary for Pierogi Picnic, and since starting my biz in 2008, I’ve had nary a dull moment. Working full-time and running your own business is exhilarating, but exhausting work! So I’ve decided a teeny vacation from my biz will do.

But with all the time, sweat and love poured into Pierogi Picnic, I’d never dream of closing the shop or website, even temporarily. So as a compromise to myself I’ve decided to put custom order work on hold until the fall. This way I’ll have the luxury of sewing up new designs when the mood strikes – and can still sell creations that have already been photographed and posted to Etsy. But what it really means is that I can reserve my weekends off for time with family, friends and four-legged beasties.

So for those of you who have been eye-balling a custom swimsuit or sundress – know that they’ll be back in production in September 2013. Until then – take advantage of all the lovingly crafted readymade and vintage items in my shop. And if you’re not currently a fan of the Pierogi Picnic Facebook page – you’ll want to “like” it soon – as we’re going to have some big sales coming your way in August for our anniversary.

And to those who are fellow artisans and creatives – do yourself a favor too – take a break every now and then! You deserve it!

Summer in Chicago: Gelato - yum!Summer in Chicago: My Boston Terrier Butter

Summer in Chicago: Flowers from A New LeafSummer in Chicago: Lydia taking a break

An Indie Biz: Making a Look Book

Pierogi Picnic Look Book shoot

This past Saturday I embarked on my first look book adventure!

Gathering together a group of talented creatives and the Pierogi Picnic modeling gang, we orchestrated a fun-filled shoot in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. With loads of brightly colored designs and props in hand – we snapped and shot hundreds of photos to show off the latest Pierogi Picnic creations – orchestrating an urban picnic in one of the most vibrant and eclectic neighborhoods in Chicago.

Pierogi Picnic look book teaser

Now that the actual shoot date is behind us, all that’s left to do is sift through the shots and do some fine tuning! We’ll keep you posted on when the final product is ready for it’s debut to the world. But in the meantime – here’s a peek into the planning that went into making the shoot a success. Continue reading

An Indie Biz: Your Path

Comparison is the thief of joy

I absolutely love this graphic that I stumbled upon on Pinterest. It reminds me to keep my eyes set upon my own path.

It’s easy to get caught up in the success of others and compare them to your own progress. Not only is this a practice that leads to discouragement, it can also blind sight ones true potential. Instead of developing a new design, or experimenting with your product photos, you’ll find yourself in a slump trying to keep up with the crafty Jones’s. And what fun is that?! Continue reading

An Indie Biz: The Personal Touch

One of the things that makes shopping with indie businesses so fantastic is indulging in the details. From a custom order to the close interactions you have with the maker, it’s about more than the product, it’s about the experience itself.

So when photographing your items, curating your shop, or shipping out orders, don’t forget the importance of the ‘personal touch.’ It’s why many of your shoppers come to you in the first place. If they wanted a generic customer service experience they’d go to their local big box. But your clients know better. They know that by shopping with you, or seeking your services, they’re taking part in a sustainable economy – one which values both the maker and taker. Continue reading

An Indie Biz: 2011 in Review

2011 was quite the year in the land of Pierogi Picnic. It was a time for scaling back and blowing up, experimenting while remaining conservative. In a snapshot – here are the year’s highlights:


January
 – Merger of the Pierogi Picnic blog and .com

February – Everyday Beauty Contest; Spike in Etsy sales; Monthly tutorials begin

March – Inspiration trip to Seattle; Wholesale catalog released

April – Development of new swimwear line

May – Joined the EcoEtsy blogging team; Swimwear launch Continue reading

Indie Biz: Revamping Vintage

One of my favorite design challenges is finding frumpy vintage clothing and re-imagining them into modern user-friendly pieces. What’s so satisfying about the process is that it’s completely spontaneous. I don’t pre-plan and go out to find fabric. The fabric finds me.

As I’m hunting down t-shirts, sweaters, lace, and other materials for my classic Pierogi Picnic designs I sometimes happen upon a 60s dress or 70s skirt that has an interesting shape or print. I immediately size it up, looking at the quality of the garment, and envision it in a new form.

Friends who have come along for my fabric hunting adventures always smirk in disbelief when I grab a pleated, floor length, shoulder pad-filled frock and pop it in my cart. Weeks later when they see the outcome they are amazed!

“How did you know?” – they ask

“It’s just me following my intuition” – I reply

Any indie handmade business owner knows that there’s only so many reproductions we can pump out before we become fatigued by our craft. That’s why having an outlet to let spontaneous creativity shine is so important! All of us need to take a step back, experiment, and enjoy the stream-of-consciousness process of just letting go and having fun with a creation.

So next time you’re in a creative rut and looking for a way out – grab some raw materials and start to enjoy your craft once more. Who knows – maybe you’ll find your own token eighties frock.