Building Our Nest

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One year. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve held the keys to my first ever home. A place, a space, a nook that belongs to me. No more leases, no more landlords, no more restrictions. A property that’s all mine.

Owning had been a dream of mine for years but something that always seemed just out of reach. No matter how much I planned and saved I couldn’t scrap enough together. So when my parents offered to have us move in to save money for a nest egg I eagerly said “yes.”

After six months of saving and house hunting I found a beautiful condo nestled on a quiet street just outside of Chicago proper. It had everything I could dream of: vintage charm, solid bones, ample parking, and was within walking distance of public transit, a playground, beach, shops, cafés and a library. And the best part? A view of the lake! I could envision August running up and down the shore, scurrying off to the beach or running around the park with newfound friends. It was my dream come true.

The unit was just big enough for our little family and just under my budget. The night of the viewing was the night I made an offer. I couldn’t risk it getting away from me. After a fervent prayer and a couple of calls – my offer was pitched and by the next day – accepted.

The building, which August refers to as “the castle,” is a historic landmark built in the roaring 20s. A large collection of units are strung together across three floors and two courtyards along the lakefront. Our block is bookended by a park, complete with playground, and a beach. The listing for my unit described it as “the perfect site for your vacation home.” Except ours would be a 365 day home. Perfect.

Once the keys were mine I jumped into action. I started to measure, plot and plan. First we sanded, caulked and painted. We decided on a neutral cool palette to offset the elaborate moulding and to highlight the tall ceilings. We refreshed the fireplace and upgraded hardware and light fixtures. We completely demolished and rebuilt the kitchen on our own – transforming a crowded, outdated space into a bright, cheery gathering place for cooking and eating. We collected furniture from a variety of places: some vintage, some rehabbed and some fresh from Ikea. Oh IKEA – I do love you.

One of the joys of owning our home is knowing we’ll be here for some time – which means we can customize furniture for our unique layout without fear of having to do it all over again in just a year or two. Knowing that we’re rooting down means busting out all my favorite DIY tricks.

I’ve repainted furniture, like a pair of heavy wooden chairs that I scored for $18 at Salvation Army and then smothered in matte mint paint. I jerry rigged two ball baskets by spray painting them gold, then flipping them over and attaching wooden tops to create bedside tables.

We’ve put up some of David’s smaller paintings and popped family photos into mismatched frames in a hallway. We threw some chalkboard paint onto August’s walls in the shape of mountains and glow in the dark stars onto the ceiling. We also created a painting nook on one side of his bedroom with a wall-mounted paper dispenser so he can create on a whim. I inverted jewelry boxes to display David’s fossil collection and drilled them straight into the wall. We’ve done so so much more as owners than we could ever do as renters. And the most beautiful part? It’s ours, it’s all ours, so we can do even more.

I’d describe the overall feel of our place as hygge meets modern vintage – with a dash of whimsy. Our gray palette is cheered up with bits of bold color. There are many wood pieces we’ve left raw to add a bit of coziness to an otherwise cool-toned space. Many of the accent pieces were foraged from thrift stores, hobby shops and a handful were purchased new from World Market and Target (I’m looking at you animal busts). We’ve filled empty nooks with velvety cushions and lush green plants. We added geometric accents like mirrors and candle holders as well as pops of color in unexpected places.

A splash of paint here, some new hardware there, and we’ve transformed our 1927-built home into our very own. And we’re not done yet! We have some new projects planned for the coming year (wallpapering, refinishing the windows, glazing the tub, adding barnyard doors) and can’t wait to roll up our sleeves to get them started. What an amazing blessing to have this beautiful space that we can call our own.

Happy anniversary to our nest!

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The Big T-W-O!

Oh my goodness – when did it happen?! When was I suddenly the mother of a full-fledged toddler?!

This past Valentine’s Day we crossed the milestone. August turned the big T-W-O! My little bundle, my baby boy, is now a floor stomping, bug poking, soil slinging mini man. He’s independent, fiery, curious, and addicted to routines. Thankfully, his tantrums are few, and his appetite is still big, so I’m clinging on to those two baby hold overs for as long as possible. His vocabulary is expanding in an exponential rate as are his physical capabilities. I’m telling you – mini man. Mini man.

To celebrate his passage into this new phase of life I hosted a small shin dig in his honor. As I’m quickly learning with this stage, less is more. Instead of busting out all stops for a big hoopla of a party, I planned an intimate breakfast bash with family, friends, and some of his toddler buddies. “Keep it simple sweetie” – definitely the way to go.

For the decorations I stayed away from a true theme and instead pulled together some basics in a variety of colors and textures. I also fell in love with a gold “Yay” Mylar balloon I found at Target – so threw in a few more metallic elements to bring it all together. Add a few bright floral bouquets and a smattering of wooden animal figurines and wallah! My apartment was birthday party ready!

For the food spread I, again, kept things simple. I filled up a cutting board with a variety of cheeses, including the standard brie and blue, both of which August promptly took whopping bites from. See my Instagram for video proof. I filled several bowls with berries, yogurts and granola, and set out jams and other condiments for spicing things up. Putting my collection of cake stands to work, I piled up mini omelettes, freshly baked mini croissants as well as towers of silver dollar pancakes skewered with berry kabobs. Do you see a pattern yet? Mini, mini, mini. One thing that was full sized was August’s birthday cake: A delightful chocolate ganache that we purchased from Whole Foods which I then topped with fresh cut flowers, a wooden animal figurine, a sparkler, and of course, two candles. For drinks I also kept things minimal and served orange juice, french pressed coffee, and organic milk boxes for the kiddos. The food was definitely a huge hit!

As seems customary at kid parties, I had an activity planned, but in the hub-bub of guests, food, and toddler antics, there was no opportunity to introduce it. Aka, I totally forgot. Oops! I had bought the supplies to have the kids make their very own seed bombs which they could “plant” somewhere in their neighborhood. Since I have the wildflower seeds and peat rarin to go – I may host a spring themed play date to give the littles a chance to get their hands dirty while teaching them some horticulture basics. But I digress.

730 days old. Quite the milestone and so glad we had a chance to properly celebrate. Now to start plans for Easter!

 

Color Blocked Vintage Bookcase

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of pre-owned goods. Not only does buying second hand mean that I’m diverting an item from the waste stream, and therefore preventing another from being made, it also means I’m inheriting something with a history. An object with a soul, if you will.

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When we moved into our current place I found that something major was lacking from the living room: a bookcase. My previous apartment had built-ins, and the place before that did too. That’s why I ventured to one of my favorite vintage furniture shops, Good Deal Garage, in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. Jam packed with loads of pre-loved furniture and decor, this is my go-to place whenever I need something with character for my little nest. So off I went to GDG and I found it. A very simple, but sturdy, wooden bookcase toward the back of the shop. It was filled with all manner of tchotchke but I could visualize it all cleaned up. Sold!

Fast forward half a year later. This wooden addition to my living room was doing its job, but feeling a bit too heavy for my current mood. An easy solution? Whitewash it! And I don’t mean the sociological use of the term, I mean good ‘ole grab a paint brush and get moving!

I was torn on whether or not to douse the whole piece in paint, if I should just clean up the interior, or if color blocking was the way to go. Because I have a variety of white and dark toned goodies to display, I went with the latter. So with a paintbrush in one hand, and my handy dandy masking tape in the other, I spent a toddler nap period painting the shelving unit. That equals 3 hours for two coats of paint, some time spent snacking and doing laundry, and then sitting and reading. So a very loose 3 hours indeed.

And the result? Awesome says I! I love how the white brought some life to the piece while allowing me to still showcase the rich woodsy material in one small strip. It ended up making my entire living room feel more airy and put together.

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Is there a furniture piece in your home that you think could do with a bit of freshening up? Or is there a recent project you finished to add some nuance to your space? If so, share below!

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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!

 

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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

An Indie Biz: Model Call

Pierogi Picnic: Dawn + Dusk Collection

Spring is here and with it I’m looking to host several photography sessions to show off some of my newest designs as well as vintage finds. But it’s not enough to photograph the pieces on hangers – we need lovely ladies and gents to get in front of the camera in these duds. And that’s where you come in!

If you live in the Chicago area and would be available on an upcoming weekend to take part in a Pierogi Picnic photo shoot, shoot an email to pierogipicnic@gmail.com. Within your email be sure to send me your clothing size and basic measurements (if you know them). We’ll then coordinate a day and time for you to join an upcoming photo shoot. I’m looking for people of all shapes and sizes to take part!

All participating models will receive a $50 gift certificate to the Pierogi Picnic Etsy shop, plus a digital set of fab photos! And if you’re not sure you’re up for the task, but know a friend who is, please put them in touch with us.

Here’s to fresh faces and new designs!

DIY: Baby Gnome Hat

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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