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.

color-block

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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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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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!

 

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What We Save Saves Us

what we save saves us by rob jones

Maybe it’s thanks to my recent trip to Starved Rock National Park – but something about this beautiful art print by Rob Jones has my mind racing. Such a simple message, such an elegant design, and yet, there’s so much more that can be read between the lines and layers of the sketch.

Conservation, environmentalism, green living – all of these are ways we describe an ethic, a lifestyle, in which we aim to protect the natural world around us. We try to advocate for the planet, for creation, for all the beautiful things within it. We attempt altruism – but in the end – it’s not just saving for saving’s sake – it’s also about saving ourselves – isn’t it?

But then again, maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones that drew me to this image. The thought of bringing a babe into a world fraught with poisons, pilfering, pollution and social injustice is enough to make any parent’s head spin. And add to that the very tangible fear that the welfare of future generations is literally at stake – and boy! Do you have one worry-warted mama-to-be!

Maybe I’m drawn to this print  because I’m in the midst of reading Thomas Friedman’s book Hot, Flat and Crowded, a book that calls us to arms to change the current state of global politics and infrastructure to preserve the planet for future generations.

And yet, maybe it’s something else still. Maybe it’s the hopeful message that resounds in this piece that elevates my spirit. Maybe it’s the reminder that we’re all in this together – whether bi-pedal, bark-laden or microscopic. We’re all connected and the reminder of this brings me hope. Seeing the stacked layers of a tree’s lifespan fills me with a wonder and awe – and propels me to want to make a difference.

And what do you think? How does this art print speak to you? Do you find the message to be inspiring, discouraging or a mix of both?

Vegetarianism & Variety

Beet & Goat Cheese Jewels

Beet & Goat Cheese Jewels

Vegetarianism is no longer the obscure lifestyle choice it used to be 10, 15 or even 20 years ago. With campaigns such as Meatless Monday and protein alternatives abounding in grocery stores, the choice to abstain from meat is one that’s much more mainstream than in years gone by.

Which is probably why I’m always caught off guard when confronted with the “oh – you’re vegetarian” face. “Don’t you get bored with only eating vegetables?” Is a commonly asked question. As is, “How do you get all the protein you need?”

Well I’m here to say, once and for all, that there’s no lack of variety or nutrition in a vegetarian diet!

Veggie BBQ Bowl

Veggie BBQ Bowl

David and I have been meat-free since we exchanged wedding vows in 2006. We made it a gradual shift, first choosing to only purchase ethically raised meats. Then we shifted to no meat at home – but eating it at restaurants. After three months of this gradual decline in consumption, we completely eliminated all meat from our diets. “We don’t eat anything that has a face” is the way I once explained it to my dad. And do we suffer, even a bit, since making that decision over 8 years ago? Not one bit! We couldn’t be happier, healthier, and more satisfied with the food choices we make each and every day.

Brussels Sprout & Avocado Rolls

Brussels Sprout & Avocado Rolls

Whether you have an octo, lacto, raw or vegan preference, are doing it for reasons of ethics, sustainability or faith, choosing to eat compassionately is not only good for you, it’s also good for the planet and all the creatures in it.

So for those of you who still grapple with  going vegetarian, thinking it will subject you to a life of bland palettes or nutritional deficits, cast those fears aside! There’s way more variety and health benefits out there than you can ever imagine! Give it a try for a day, a week, and then a month, and you’ll see that there’s nothing forlorn about living this compassionate lifestyle.

And should you need inspiration or a place to start, check out this Pinterest board which includes some of my all-time favorite veg-head recipes.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Is there a blog or website that you love from which you like to collect vegetarian recipes? If so – share the link in the comments!

Healthy Hippie Bowl

Healthy Hippie Bowl

 

Keeping Things Cool

Feet photo by Lydia KrupinskiI don’t know about your neck of the woods – but things have been quite steamy here in Chicago the past few days. We’ve been bouncing between thunder storms and high temps – making it not only sweltering, but stuffy as well!

So how do you keep cool without the help of an energy-sucking, heat producing air conditioner? Here are some ideas:

Bust out the ice. Seems simple enough – but keeping a tray of ice cubes at the ready is not just a good idea for a late-afternoon lemonade. Try filling a bowl with the oh-so-cool cubes and placing them in front of a fan. You’ll find yourself lounging in a cool breeze in no time!

water photo by Lydia KrupinskiStay hydrated. It goes without saying that making sure you’re getting loads of water will help your body feel better overall. But especially in summer months when the temps are up and your body’s a perspiration machine – you’ll need extra H2O to make sure you have what you need to stay cool.

Freeze some fruit. A great mid-day snack, freezing some watermelon, strawberries or other in-season treat is a great and tasty way to cool things down.

Dress to impress. And do it in light-weight, airy natural fibers. I’m a big proponent of cotton, but anything that will allow a loose fit and sweat absorption will help you stay comfortable. And to help you sleep through a hot night – make sure all your bed gear is made of natural materials too! Continue reading