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

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

DIY: Newspaper Party Streamers

DIY: Eco-Friendly Party Decor - recycled newspaper streamers

This past month I found myself in a dilemma. David’s birthday was suddenly at hand, we had a party planned, and I totally forgot to consider decorations! With just an hour before the first guests’ arrival, I devised a quick and resourceful way to get my apartment into the party spirit: Upcycled paper streamers!

Sneaking a few sheets of newspaper away from my bunny’s stash, I concocted a simple banner design that only required a few strategic cuts and less than 10 minutes of sewing. The result? A transformed festive space that’s eco-friendly and ready for fun!

Should you be on the lookout for a simple and design-savvy way to deck out your place for an upcoming get-together, give this easy four step tutorial a try!

upcycled party streamers tutorial

1) Cut your newspaper into one inch slices.

2) Gather a stack of your sliced paper and cut each strip in half.

3) Align your strips to ensure they’re all the same length. Don’t worry about the width of each being exact.

4) Use a simple stitch and same plain thread to connect the strips together, sewing about a half inch from the tops. Sew approximately 30-40 slips per streamer.

And that’s it! To hang your streamers all you need to do is grab some washi or marking tape and affix them to your ceiling at varying lengths and spaces. You’ll find that the more streamers you hang, the fuller the installation’s look, so don’t be afraid to go nuts and make ten or more pieces!

Do you have a secret last-minute party decor idea that’s easy to make and eco-friendly? Share your tips with us!

Pierogi Picnic: Handmade Party Streamer Tutorial

Finds: Etsy Gift Ideas

etsy: handmade gift ideas

With Christmas nine days away – there’s still time to gather up a few more handmade goodies for that very special someone. To help inspire you in your shopping quest, I’ve gathered some of my very favorite Etsy items into a list for you to sneak a peek at.

Each of these one-of-a-kind pieces will delight even the choosiest of gift recipients. From housewares and jewelry to bath products and lingerie, hopefully you’ll find something that is just right for the last person on your list. If you see something that catches your eye – be sure to scoop it up today so you can still make the USPS shipping deadline.

Remember, when you shop handmade, you’re supporting an individual rather than a large corporation. So be sure to include at least a few unique artisan creations under your Christmas tree!

Happy handmade shopping!

Designs: The Dodger

the dodger: eco-friendly cowl

Oh boy – do I like a man in dapper duds! Maybe it’s the Dr. Who fan in me – but bow ties, hats, scarves – you name it and I’m there!

Finally acknowledging this lust for gentlemanly accessories I’ve decided to focus this season’s menswear on fun little additives. My hope is to help guys be a bit more posh than the dude next door.

First up in the new collection is what I simply call,  “The Dodger“. Inspired by the “No Sweat” men’s sweatshirt that has become one of my all-time best-sellers, “The Dodger” works off a similar design premise: chic, comfortable, and tangle-free. With a fun color-blocked design and subtle military-inspired details, these new cowls are sure to be a hit with no-nonsense guys who want to add a pop to their cold weather wardrobes.

Here’s to decking out the boys in lots of fun accessories this season!

A Touch of Spring

I love love love playing up each season in my home using knick knacks and materials that are already strewn about our place.

So when  curating the look of my home for Easter and spring, I thought it would be fun to put a creative twist on the traditional symbols of the season.

Can you spot the themes?

pierogi picnic a touch of spring (3)

For this fun and vivid display I collected all the bird-like objects that I had dispersed throughout our apartment and brought them together on a runner of bright green moss.  Compiling items with a similar shape, theme, color, texture or size is a great way to make an  “instant collection” with pieces you already own. Not a dime spent here!

pierogi picnic a touch of spring (6)

I’ve been obsessed with brass vintage figurines this past year. Having found a set of bunny statues a couple years back – I have found myself moving them around the apartment at the shift of each season. But with it being spring – they are front and center on my side tables.

pierogi picnic a touch of spring (5)Feathers feathers feathers! They’re so easy to find and there are endless ways of using them! Whether collected in vases or strewn across the fireplace mantle with twine and washi tape – these natural (and trendy!) wonders add an airy texture to any space.

pierogi picnic a touch of spring (4)

These pillows! I just couldn’t stop myself when they appeared in an email newsletter from fab.com. These unique animal plushies are created when artist Kristin Loffer Theiss draws out the image using thread. She then scans and prints the design onto the fabric and stuffs each with filling and love! The result is a collection of unbearably adorable pillows! Here I’ve collected several of the more spring-like animals together to sit upon my re-upholstered vintage chair. Continue reading

An Indie Biz: Photo Magic

Pierogi Picnic: Made in Chicago Clothing & VintageAs I sit at my computer late on a Monday night I realize that I am way way way overdue. Not for returning my library books – but for writing a post on running an indie biz! So here’s my much belated installment – and it’s all about photo editing.

Let’s say you’ve developed a beautiful new line of products and are ready to introduce your creations to the world. You’ve painstakingly planned the shoot, took the time to set up quality lighting and have captured a great set of photos to show the masses.

Now what? 

Don’t even think for a second that once your photos are logged and stored on your SD drive that you’re free to frolic about. Your next task as a handmade business owner is to make those pics magical. And I’m not talking pseudo-well-done they get a passing grade magical. I mean stop-em-in-their-tracks, make-heads-turn, kind of attention. Sure – paying a pro to do the dirty digital work can seem promising – but there’s nothing more fulfilling than empowering yourself to take that DIY step to enhance pictures on your own.

So before I sit back to tackle the 300+ photos I snapped of new Pierogi Picnic gear recently, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite tricks and short cuts for photo editing on the fly. Continue reading