Monthly Archives: August 2010

cohabitating with grace: the mister’s cup

my urban casita

This used to be the Mister’s cup. It’s plastic, was thrifted sometime in the last few years for less than a dollar. It’s his vodka + tonic cup, his vitamins-before-bed cup, his early morning water cup. I would use three cups in a day to his one, only cause I couldn’t remember– was that glass on the nightstand from an hour ago or last night? Did the cup I left on the porch have water or juice? Did the dog try to drink out of it? Is it dirty or not? Screw it, into the dirty dish bin it goes, next one. He always knew where his cup was, what was in the damn thing previously. And it’s gone now…

I took it off the shelf because of my recent glass obsession (remember these, these and these?).

I would feel bad about putting it into the doored portion of our kitchen cabinets if he didn’t absolutely love the white glasses we’re now using. Still. Even though he is perfectly happy without it, I think it should come back out. I miss it. And I’m not too fond of all of these dishes.

Living with another human is hard enough. Then you factor in the way you want your apartment to look, how things should be put away, whose stuff gets precedence. We’ve had some epic battles over what to keep, what to toss, what to keep, how I need to stop buying dressers, why I can’t have this shower curtain. Most of the time we agree. Or he just lets me win because it’s more important to me. So, I should give him the cup. At least it matches the kitchen.

Anyways, the reason for this post: my friend Kate and her boyfriend are moving in together. They have completely different styles, and Evan, unlike a lot of guys, cares. Like, really cares. She is Hollywood Regency, he is mostly MCM, clean and streamlined. She likes filigree, he digs minimalism. It’s going to be interesting. I’ll be over there this week to try and document some of the process. What advice do you have for meshing two conflicting home styles?

my urban casita

positive friday

Kate and Rebecca! Lovely nieces! I get to see them tomorrow! So excited!

I’m off to try some DIY projects. Will be reporting to you directly. Have a great weekend.

here goes nothing: the living room, day one

living room work in progress: day one

In a recent post about having dirty house secrets (not the dusty kind, but the embarrassing kind), I told you how averse I have been to posting photos of certain rooms in the house and asked if any of you had secrets and received only two comments. I know you’re reading–hello stat counter– so we either have a bunch of really shy people or you don’t have any ugly parts of your domiciles that are off-limits.

If you’re in the latter half of this equation, I’m trying to get like you. No more ugly rooms! Since the paint job I did in the bathroom over the weekend turned out pretty bad and I cannot bear to take any photos of it until I do it all over again, we start with the living room. Introducing the before photos, hopefully to be replaced very shortly with some lovely after photos.

living room work in progress: day one

Things I Like About the Living Room

  • Architectural detail. This is not a simple box. There are moldings and archways.
  • The size. It’s a pretty good size. No, I don’t know the square footage because I’ve never entered a contest on AT.
  • The Ikea bookcases my friend Evan helped me install.
  • The new couch we hauled from my friend Kate’s house last night (thank you, KB!).
  • The art above the couch from Vigilism, even though they desperately need new frames.
  • The modern lamp above I picked up for $2.40 at Village Discount Outlet and later saw at Vintage Heaven for $50.
  • The Barcelona knockoff(s), $100 for both on Craigslist.
  • The coffee table, $50 on Craigslist.
  • The metal plant stand, below, $5 at Goodwill.

living room work in progress: day one

Things I Dislike About The Living Room

  • The floors are way too scuffed to even be considered wabi-sabi.
  • The dog bed is ugly but necessary.
  • The windows.
  • The lack of light.
  • Colorless, especially when compared to our colorful kitchen.
  • The addition of the new couch, much bigger than our previous one, has made for a weird balance on either side.
  • Our TV stand sucks (not even pictured, there is no point).
  • The white stand in the little nook above is on its last legs.
  • We have two uncovered Barcelona knockoffs but only one fits.  And yes, I said uncovered!  Dislike immensely.
  • Our curtains.  Blech.

This begins my quest to overhaul the living room one day at a time; it would get done a lot quicker if the next seven days weren’t forecasted to be over ninety degrees, too, ugh. I’ve got some plans that are going to be in motion just as soon as I post this and take a freezing cold shower. I’m hella– remember, I lived in Cali for two years, I can say that– excited for the new room. Small changes will go a long way and since my ideas involve spray paint and thrifting, I’m very, very charged about the redo.

living room work in progress: day one

two things you should do if you’re in nyc

It’s no secret that I think Chicago has a big leg up on NYC in terms of livability and beauty and well, everything, but there are two things I would love to be in New York for this week.

First is Buka Sessions, a new bi-weekly Happy Hour event at Brooklyn’s newest Nigerian resto and bar. The party is hosted by Freeform+Deform, a design and architecture collective that my frequent blog subject and brother-in-law Lekan is part of, and it looks like a very good time. Go and have a beer for me this Friday, why dontcha?

You also have-have-have to check Lek’s Tumblr and then head over to the Freeform+Deform blog for more design goodness. I love this post on the table the gentlemen from FF+D made from scratch. Isn’t it gorgeous? Look at the shine! The white sides! I need it in my life.

Buka Sessions
rsvp @ facebook
946 Fulton St
(between Waverly Ave & Washington Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Another thing I wish I was in NYC for is my buddy Drea’s group show at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts. “Ain’t I A Woman,” is up until December 19th but you can go check it out this weekend! Read all about it at the NYT Blog here.

Ain’t I A Woman?
80 Hanson Place
Brooklyn, NY 11217

So there. Two things to do if you’re in New York. Chicago’s still better though. Take that take that take that. © Puffy.

thrifted planters

sunday plants

Planters are one of my favorite things to thrift for and I’ll use just about anything as a vessel. Bowls, vintage restaurant mugs, tin containers.

sunday plants

sunday plants

We picked up two new milk glass pieces for $3 each at a rummage sale. My milk glass obsession never wanes because I can use the containers for everything: to hold toothbrushes and cotton balls, pens and pencils, earrings and bracelets. These bring my total pieces used as planters to seven.  I’m thinking of putting up a shelf in the living room with all of them grouped together come winter.  The twenty plants on the porch will need somewhere to go indoors!

Larger vessels are harder to come by second hand so I was super excited to find this big tin thing last week at Stop! Look! Oddments, a cute little junk store near our apartment.  Five bucks.

sunday plants

It must have been used as a pot, a basin? I’m not exactly sure. I got a smaller matching bowl for another $5 but forgot to photograph the damn thing.  I’m currently deciding where it’s going to live.  The Mister thinks the two may have been chamberpot set but I did some internet research and thankfully found nothing to back up that claim.

sunday plants

Deciding which of our houseplants to repot was a toughie.  A succulent, a ficus and a peace lily all deserved newer, bigger real estate.  The succulent won because it had been stuck in a tiny clay pot since its 2005 purchase in California. There were a few yellow leaves and roots were growing out of the hole in the bottom of the terra cotta.  It really needed to spread out.

sunday plants

sunday plants

I had no idea that this is what I would find after taking a hammer to the pot.  Gross, right?  The Mister even shuddered a bit. Note:  Use safety goggles when pounding.  I almost took a shard to my left eye.

Anyone else make out good at the thrift this weekend?

positive friday + sway


Finally Friday!

I’m looking forward to the following this weekend:
– buying this turquoise spray paint
Art on Track aboard the El tomorrow night
– taking better photographs of my bookshelf redo
– hanging out with the Mister and my puppy

Have a happy two days.


do you have dirty (house) secrets?

ugly windows + flowersbrightening up the ugly window with flowers from kate b. and thrifted vases

There are rooms of my house that you will not see when you click that My Apartment category on your right. They are: the “middle room,” as we call the living room, the bedroom and the bathroom.  I crazily gave you a peek of the horrible bedroom a ways back. It looks about one hundred times better than it did in the leading photo for that post– like, we now have a bed frame, a beautiful spray painted dresser and of course, my cheese grater earring organizer– but it still needs a lot of work. Plus, all of the photos will show that we do indeed have a television in our sleeping quarters and I don’t feel like being stoned for that fact just yet. Typing it out is a lot different than showing you an actual picture of the bulky monstrosity we like to watch Sunday afternoon movies on.

For now I am content to keep you to the confines of my kitchen, front room and back porch. This way I am pushed to make the off-limit rooms more worthy of your viewership.

So, even though this hurts me, I am posting photos of my ugly-assed windows. One window won’t open. One is filthy. And both represent most of the windows in our apartment: cracked and dirty, half of them unwilling to budge and let a breeze in.

ugly window + plantthe pane isn’t dirty, that’s just a shadow

Why am I posting these? Because we’re getting new windows!

As a stipulation to our new lease, I have told our wonderful landlord that We. Need. New. Windows.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to clean them, I have. It’s not that I haven’t tried to pry them open with everything from a crowbar to a paint scraper, I have. They’re just old and grimey and painted over about a million times and WE NEEDED NEW ONES.

ugly windows + flowers

These photos will serve as a reminder that I lived with windows that looked like this for over eighteen months. And they will be gone soon. And I will be able to actually see out of the new ones.

Do you have areas of your home that you keep off limits? Do you have a TV in your bedroom? Do you hate me because I do?  What are your dirty house secrets?

house envy


I’m getting pretty active on Flickr these days (my stream). Here are some homes I have been stalking along the way, all thanks to the huge amount of groups I have joined. Flickr is an endless source of inspiration for me and, to be honest, a bit of hateration. The same way I hate window shopping with no money in my pocket is the way I hate looking at some of these stupidly beautiful homes and not being able to live in them myself. In trying to get over it I’m posting photos for you to drool over, and hate on if you wish, too.


We have the knockoff Ikea version of this round table and similarly shaped chairs. And how great is that patio?

Smile and Wave

I always thought the clipboard as inspiration/organizer wall was kind of funny looking but this one looks very polished.  The paper plane garland is a really fun touch, too.


Gorgeous wooden table?  Check.  Cute mismatched chairs?  Check.  Unique light fixture?  Check.  Sideboard sized perfectly for an apartment?  Check.  Megan hating?  Why of course.

For Ruth: Corset Laced Mannequins

And who wouldn’t want a map covered dress form?

Happy Hating!

memento monday: sarah m.

This story by Sarah M. really touched me and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you. I love the storied life that “Gretchen” the painting has had and the way Sarah tells her tale. If you’re interested in participating in this project, read this post and send an email to megan AT  Read past Memento Monday features here.

Sarah writes:
My Grandma died in ’04 and my Grandpa in ’97. Grandma was the most lovely lady on the planet (don’t we all say that about our grandmas, they couldn’t be more perfect), she had the personality I aspire to have when I grow up! This picture was hanging in their living room above the TV for my whole life, maybe since the insouciant ’60s until Grandpa died in ’97, and it moved to the new house, which eventually lead to the nursing home that she lived in until her untimely death in ’04.

Back in the 60s my grandparents went to Loblaws (which apparently only exists in Canada now). My grandparents had collected enough S&H stamps throughout their shopping years that they turned in their stamps for Gretchen, this little girl eating cookies in a chair. I am not sure if Gretchen is the name that she came with, or if someone in my family named her. I can only assume it’s the latter, because we are Italian and Gretchen is Dutch or Norwegian… or just not Italian!

I remember being in my Grandparents house every Sunday for family dinner and was also there often in the summers, by myself while my parents worked and they “babysat” me. Grandpa was ALWAYS on the couch dozing off to the Mets, and I would try to sneak and change the channel. It never worked so I often found myself staring at Gretchen out of boredom. And I never realized how beautiful she is, with her blonde hair, and little blue dress and red sneakers her chocolatey hands from her cookies.

I forgot about Gretchen as life went on. I forgot she was a staple in the house, and after Grandpa died, Grandma moved in with my Uncle and his new wife. This new woman didn’t want any of Grandma’s stuff in “her house”, or showing at least, so Gretchen was tucked away, probably on Grandma’s wall in her room, because she loved her so much. But I never saw Grandma’s room, because when we did see Grandma, she was at the kitchen table, and since we had moved to Michigan by then (this all was in Rochester, NY) we weren’t around like we used to be.

When the decision came to move into the nursing home, Gretchen was right along with the move. I remember her hanging on the wall directly across from Grandma’s bed. So she can see her at all times. This is another case of us not seeing her often due to the Michigan move. But I remember vividly the day she died. As I held her hand and watched her cry one last tear, I thought about all the things I would miss about her. She was a woman of very few words. But I would miss her smile most. As the week preceding her death went on, I looked up with tears in my eyes, just trying to find some peace within, and I saw Gretchen. Everyone else was concerned with who was going to get different knickknacks. I claimed this little girl that had been in my life for years. A symbol of my own childhood, a symbol of a warm loving family. Nobody objected. In fact, I believe that she would have ended up in a pile of other pictures with other people’s memories attached to them, at a Salvation Army in Upstate New York. And when no one bought her, she would just begin to break down.

Ever since I have had her, she has been in a hallway of mine. When I lived in Detroit, we had a LONG hallway connecting the kitchen with the rest of the house, and this was the first picture visible when you left the bathroom in Detroit, as well as in Ferndale. And I am thankful that none of my roommates ever objected to her being hung so obviously. She hasn’t been placed above the TV yet, but she still has time in her life!

Now she sits in my room as I make a transition, living back with my parents. Waiting for the day when I move ANYPLACE and put her on the wall. She is my connection (besides my memories) to my Grandma (more than my Grandpa at this point) but also my connection to what was, as a child and as a little girl, and as a New Yorker.

That’s my story about my favorite picture ever!
Thanks for listening.
– Sarah

Thank you, Sarah!

vintage shopping in pilsen

knee deep & pilsen vintage

If I had to live in a neighborhood other than Ukrainian Village, where we currently reside, I would move to Pilsen in a heartbeat. It’s got a vibrant arts district, one of our favorite restaurants and really beautiful homes and apartments. Plus, Pilsen has way more paleta carts than Ukie Village and I could have pineapple popsicles everyday.

To put a cherry on top of all that, the vintage shopping is pretty damn good, as Aziza and I discovered on a Saturday trip to 18th Street.

knee deep & pilsen vintage

Our first stop was Knee Deep, a mostly clothing store friends have been telling us to check out for months. We had a blast trying on vintage duds and marveling at the cutely decorated dressing rooms.

knee deep & pilsen vintage

knee deep & pilsen vintage

knee deep & pilsen vintage

We both walked out with Mad Men style dresses but I’ll save that pic ’til the end. Right before leaving we somehow figured out that in addition to the racks and racks in the main room, there is a back room with more clothes and even some housewares. This meant trouble for me. More glasses.

knee deep & pilsen vintage

I let these stay where they were, deciding on some more male-oriented glasses to surprise the Mister with. I forgot to take a photo of them in the store so here they are at home. $1 each. I also got the orange carafe in yesterday’s post at Knee Deep for $2.

thrift/rummage/estate sale scores

You can’t see it in the photo, but written in white underneath each car is the name of it and the year it was produced. They’ve joined my white glasses and my green glasses and are on display in our kitchen’s open shelving.


Next stop was Pilsen Vintage and Thrift, a pretty affordable well put together little shop that smelled more like a thrift store than a vintage store. Yes, there is a difference.

pilsenI almost got this fan and had even talked them down by $5. Sadly, once plugged in, it sounded like a train on the tracks.

pilsenOther things I was interested in included a pair of turquoise chairs for $50 each and a still-working timeclock.  I had visions of clocking in and out for household chores but realized that the Mister would log many more hours than me, what with his working knowledge of the vacuum and all.

We left Pilsen Vintage and Thrift empty handed, but both shops are on my must visit lists from now on.  Knee Deep also does monthly midnight sales that sound like a lot of fun.  Keep up-to-date with them on Twitter and Facebook for more info on those. Hope to see you at the next one!

Knee Deep
1425 West 18th Street
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 850-2510

Pilsen Vintage and Thrift
1430 West 18th Street
Chicago, IL 60608-3004
(312) 226-6110

wicker park festival

PS These are the dresses Aziza and I got, pictured at the Wicker Park Festival with Tanisha.