Friday, October 30, 2009

Italy Every Day

Justin and I spent three weeks of our first year of marital bliss in Italy. In just a week, it will be one year since we have been there and we both still reminisce about our trip on a daily basis. One may wonder why this is, aren't we happy in America? Why yes, we are, but in our very own family room, I have hung large scale prints of photographs I took while on our trip. These happily remind us of the beautiful landscapes and amazing time we had there. To the unknowing person, these have been mistaken for professional art pieces, but alas, they are not. They are an inexpensive, personalized representation of our travels.

I can't even stress the extent of how easy and affordable it is to duplicate the appearance of fine art. Nearly anything placed in a simple, nice frame, behind some glass immediately enhances the object's value. These are the shots that Justin and I selected to display in the room.

Amalfi, Italy

Burano, Italy

Capri Island, Italy

Riomaggiore, Italy

Riomaggiore, Italy

Rome, Italy

While the colors in each photo are beautiful (especially Burano) I ended up converting the photos to black and white, which increased their artsiness even more. One day at lunch, I ran the files over to the nearest Kinkos and had them printed out on matte paper. Some of you may be thinking, what, matte paper?! In my experience, it isn't necessary to print on photo/glossy paper when it is going to be framed behind glass since the glass will reflect light anyways. Plus, printing on the glossy paper is much more expensive. By printing on matte paper, I saved half! Kinkos was so fast, that I picked them up on my way home the same day. Then during a trip to Ikea, I picked up two sets of these, these, and these, which are awesome because they include crisp, white precut mattes. I inserted my photos and Justin helped me hang them in less than an hour.

Now, this is what we are surrounded by every day!

You can check out all of our photos from our trip to Italy on flickr.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Have cake and eat it too!

Of all of the DIY elements at my cousin's wedding, a few weeks ago, in my opinion (aside from the things I designed) the homemade wedding cake took the - er - cake... When I rounded the corner at the reception all I could say was wow. My cousin's sister (I guess that makes her my cousin too) flew up from Florida for the celebration and was the mastermind behind the dangerously delicious dessert. If my taste buds' memories serve me correct, the cake was not only frosted, but the fondant was super yummy (not at all what I expected since I had been told not to eat fondant because it was gross), there was a layer of caramel, and a layer of brownie. Talk about sinful!

I think the use of decorative fringe pinned in by pearl-ended corsage needles was a super fast and easy, not to mention cool, way to tie in the color palette and add visual interest to the smooth fondant.

The other part that had me at hello were the cake stands. My other cousin, the bride's brother, cut up some wood to make perfectly sized pedestals for the multi-tiered cake. It completely incorporated the autumn theme and everything came full circle with the leaf motif.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

GD pick up lines

These may lose some people, but since I am a graphic designer, I couldn't help passing them on.

Pick up lines to use on a graphic designer (if only my husband had known these!):
1. I wish I had an Eyedropper to capture the color of your eyes.
2. Has anybody ever told you that your teeth have perfect kerning?*
3. If you were a logo, it would be for a really premium brand.
4. I’m just like a global nav; I love to be on top.
5. Come back to my place and I’ll show you a really naughty way to fill up some negative space.
6. Would you like to lorem ipsum dolor sit on my lap?
7. If I went to a stock photography site and typed in the keyword: “sexy”, I bet there’d be a picture of you.
8. I couldn’t help but notice your eye path went right to my smudge stick.
9. If I hit Shift + [ will it increase the hardness of your brush?
10. Just looking at you, I could tell you display high Brightness and Vibrance, and have multiple Layers.
11. You look perfectly put together. Do you display this well in IE?*
12. I like my fonts sans-serif, and you sans-pants.
13. If you bring the tool, I’ll bring the color palette.
14. I dig your look and feel.
15. If you like what you see now, wait’ll you look below the fold.
16. Let’s “Skip Intro” and just go find a hotel room right now.
17. When I serve you breakfast in bed tomorrow, would you like your coffee with cream and sugar, or do you prefer it #000?
18. Do you want to touch my B├ęzier curves?
19. What if I told you the fly on my legs opens quicker than a 500kb JPEG file?
20. Mind if I take you for a usability test?
21. Let's go to bed and do the baseline shift.*
22. Adobe should've called it InDesire.
23. I hate Comic Sans too...wanna dance?*
24. I'm sorry, is my div tag open?*
25. You are one hot about some Private Browsing?
26. I wouldn't hit Ctrl+Z after a night with you.
27. You're so fine, you must be 1px.*
28. I'll make your clothes 0% opacity.
29. Can I select your area with my magic wand?
30. Show me your .tiffs*
31. If you are into neglect and S&M, I'll dodge and burn you.
32. You like it rough? I can drag and drop you all night.*

*made me giggle

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Best of CS Interiors: Fall 2009

I picked up my fall 2009 issue of CS Interiors from the Merchandise Mart last week. Unlike last time, I was underwhelmed with the showcased design, articles, and photos in this issue. You can pick up your copy at the Merchandise Mart or view their digital version here. Nevertheless, here are a few that made my best of list.

On page 50, I was greeted with this charming coat rack. The article, showcasing brotherly furniture design by the boys of Misewell, pulled at my heart strings and this gem called stretch caught my eye. The past couple months I have been swooning over the 10 degree coat rack at CB2 and this one might have changed my mind. I love its angles, details, and rich walnut wood.

Photo from

From the front cover of the magazine, to the opening spread of the feature article, Todd Hilt and Alvin dela Cruz's home was inspiring. I love this image of their entry way (pardon the seam, the photo bled across the spread). The faux animal head and the simple symmetry of the space, mixed items from a variety of eras while maintaining its class.

Photo by Tony Soluri, CS Interiors

Another photo of Hilt and dela Cruz's home, I love industrial furniture, especially stools, but this cabinet which offers endless storage made my heart pitter-patter.

Photo by Tony Soluri, CS Interiors

I hope I don't even need to explain what drew me into this photo, yet again from Hilt and dela Cruz's home. The frog anatomy chart hung in the dining area, how could it get any more interesting?

Photo by Tony Soluri, CS Interiors

Heiji Choy Black's living room, pictured here, made me feel not-so-bad for still having unhung framed art in my home. Leaning your pieces against the wall allows for easy swap out and a more casual feel.

Photo by Tony Soluri, CS Interiors

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Belated Anniversary to Us!

Even though we celebrated our anniversary on our wedding day (August 2), I wanted to share what we purchased with help from a few celebratory family members (thank you again!).

Unbeknownst to Justin, I had my eye on the ember rug from CB2 for a while.

I love this rug so much that I even used one of my Friday-early-release-from-work days to take the train up to the store to check it out (you know I prefer to see things in person). Unfortunately, they didn't have it in the store, but they did have a similar rug made of the same material and "painted" the same way. I spoke with an associate who owned the ember rug, showed her my paint and fabric swatches, and was assured that the rug would look great in our family room.

It took me about 1.2 hours after my trip to fully form my dire need to get it. I can't say the same for Justin (but he came around eventually). When we finally made it back to the store to look at the comparable rug again (a quick stop on our way to a Cubs game), another associate warned us that if we wanted it we should order it soon since it had been discontinued. We acknowledged her suggestion and went on our way to the game. Later that night, when we were discussing our pending purchase, I opened up Safari to bring up the page on my computer...and it wasn't there! I became frantic, digged up an old catalog, and dialed CB2 up stat. While, we received great service in the store that day, the associate failed to tell us there were only 2 8x10' rugs left. At that point, I didn't hesitate, we had to have that rug.

Here's our family room pre-awesome-rug...

and with the awesome rug.

I can't believe we lived without it for so long. It completes the room and grounds all of the furniture. What a great anniversary present!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dreaming of Paint Fairies

I know I have a problem when my dreams star paint, rollers, or me spray painting my cat. Don't call the ASPCA, it was just a dream! Maybe it's brought on by my current obsession with paint swatches or maybe it's because we have been living with asylum-esque white walls in over half of our house for over two years and it has caused me to go crazy (hey, at least they aren't padded). Nonetheless, Justin and I have decided that one of our winter projects this year will be painting our 17 feet tall entry way and living room. However, that was the easy party, the big decision we are currently squabbling over is how many colors to use and where to paint each one.

Choosing colors purely based on logic, we decided to use neutral tan/beige/taupe/brown colors in the room since it is going to be a nightmare to paint and we don't want to have to redo it soon because we chose an uber-trendy color. We have selected three potentials that work well together for this large room (from dark to light): Behr - Revival Mahogany (dark brown), Behr - Melted Chocolate (brown), and Sherwin Williams - Mexican Sand (tan/beige). Being the go-against-the-grain girl I am, I would love to use all three colors in the space to break up the large walls and provide designation of where one "room" ends and another begins. Here are a couple photos of the room. (PS please ignore the mess!)

Here's the layout of the space. The red lines are walls that are going to be painted and all but the ones under the stairs are 17 feet tall.

Now you can see why I might be going mad! Here's the good stuff, you get to chime in on what you would do. I mocked up four options based off of what we were debating, but if you have another suggestion by all means, let us know!

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

Decisions, decisions, cast your vote by leaving a comment below!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Remember when I posted about the $100 Home Depot gift card giveaway from One Project Closer at the end of September? Well...I received an email about a week ago informing me that I won! After much incredulity, I received my gift card in the mail and have come to believe that I indeed win their giveaway! I am so happy and can't didn't wait to spend some of it (just to make sure it was real).

I spent $30 of the $100 yesterday on a few more tidbits for some small projects around our house. I'll post more about those projects soon! Cheers!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Tale of Two Chairs

These two Ikea Poang chairs were quite sad when I found them on Craigslist. But even so, I saw their potential and decided to give them a new home. At $10 and $15 who could say no? We rescued one that was in pieces from a jam-packed apartment on State Street (that I actually had to visit twice because the lady didn't give me all the pieces) and the other had been the owner's cat's favorite scratching post. Needless to say they needed some help.

In fear that our cats were going to smell the intruder cat, Justin and I purchased these Dala natural upgraded cushions for $40 a pop from the Swedish empire. I love the creamy-neutral color and texture of the fabric which provides an extra layer of visual interest to our simple living room.

What we didn't love though, was the color of the wood, blech! We had experimented with painting another Ikea piece previously and knew that spray paint would do the trick, but when I visited my trusty home improvement stores, I didn't care for the light brown Rust-o-leum that they had, nor did I think any of the paint swatches matched the rich black-brown color I was looking for. What a great time to try out the custom color matching that Home Depot offers! I brought in a sample of the deep dark brown I wanted and in about 10 minutes walked out with a perfect fit. I used a mini sponge roller to give the wood a few coats and we love the results.

The one snafu that I wasn't anticipating was the incomplete look that the hardware, which was silver, looked with the dark paint. It didn't trip me up though, I stuck those puppies through a cardboard frame support and gave them a quick spray with black paint and no one's the wiser that they are silver inside.

Is anyone else an Ikea hack?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Groupon: Collective Buying Power

I was turned on to Groupon a few days ago by my coworker and since then have participated, consumed, and have been hooked. For those that aren't familiar with the site, you are going to be kicking yourself that you have been out of the loop for so long (I know I was).

Since November 2008, Groupon has been offering "a daily deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in a variety of cities across the United States" and they're not kidding. Just last week I purchased a groupon for $9 that allows me to get TWO sandwiches ($21 value) from one of my most favorite sandwich places in Chicago, Hannah's Bretzel.

Here's the scoop, you visit their site, see a deal you want to partake in, purchase it before the time runs out (or the deal is sold out—this does happen), wait until the selling time expires, your credit card is then charged (you are able to cancel your order up to that point), you receive an email with a link to print your groupon, you visit the vendor, you consume or participate in the product, you hand over the groupon when asked for payment, and you leave—happy and silently applauding yourself for saving loads of money.

Just looking under their Recent Deals page, I see that I have missed out on uber-cheap tickets to a Chicago Fire soccer game, 1/2 price mani-pedis, 1/2 price gift cards to some of my favorite restaurants, and many other offers.

I am posting today to share the wealth. For my friends who are not in the Chicago area, Groupon has sites for many other cities including Minneapolis, Dallas, Kansas City, Madison, etc.

Tell me, what deal did you score?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jonathan Adler: Chicago Store

The other day, I walked over to the funky Jonathan Adler store, conveniently located down the street from my office. I went to check out his area rugs and fabric, but obviously got distracted by everything else. Lucky for you, I brought my camera to document my findings and to share his great design.

As soon as I entered the shop, I was in geometric-pattern heaven. I was greeted by this vibrant turquoise wall with some cleverly hung pillows.

Wouldn't this be cool to replicate in a children's bedroom? Hang a collage of stuffed animals on one whole wall with clothespins for an interesting and cushy space. It would make cleaning up more fun and be child-safe too!

The opposite side of the turquoise wall was painted a rich chocolate brown (similar to a color Justin and I have chosen as a possibility for our front living room), but what is interesting with this set up is that the lamps flanking the couch are different. The color, material, and shade consistencies tie the two together without having to be the exact same.

If anyone is looking for a beautiful wall sconce, I have found it! Check these beauts out. The meurice swing arm wall sconces not only rotate counterclockwise or clockwise, but the arms also move side to side in case you like the light shining down on you.

And I couldn't pass up this egyptian-esque cat statue. Isn't she purr-fect?

So, on to my purpose for visiting, checking out the area rugs. I am such a hands-on person that before I buy anything I have to see the colors and feel the material. The Richard Nixon rug is one I have been eyeing on the Jonathan Adler website for some time now. I was goofing around with the design your own tool and was having a hard time deciding if I wanted the pattern light on a dark background or dark on a light background. What I found out by seeing it in person was that most of the rugs are reversible! So, if the mood strikes, I can flip it over whenever I want.

The desmond screen grabbed my attention also. It's placement in front of this chocolate brown wall mimics the rug design that I have been swooning over.

I'm a sucker for a beautiful set of dishes and if I bought them every time I felt my head go over my heels, I wouldn't have any space left for food. When I saw these ojai dishes I had to share their richness. I hope someone else can provide them a good home!

His book My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living has officially been added to my Christmas wish list. I love how this display uses a pair of horse statues as book ends. It's a contemporary twist that anyone could duplicate in their home. My local thrift and secondhand stores always have statue knick-knacks that with a little bit of spray paint, would look just as cool.

There are plenty of other fun items that I couldn't showcase in this post, but you can view them all on the Jonathan Adler website. Cheers!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Climate and Your Attic

When I joined the masses for Blog Action Day this year, I was intimidated by the breadth of the topic: Climate. I didn't even know where to start, so I made a list (as I am know to do) starting with the top...of the house that is.

Did you know that by insulating uninsulated areas or adding insulation to insulated areas can greatly decrease the amount of energy you use in your home? As we move in to the colder months of the year, we become more conscience of how much it takes to heat our home and how much we spend on our heating bill (gas or electric). Heat naturally flows from hot to cold areas in your home just like the cold air from your air conditioning flows from cold to hot areas. It is always seeking a sense of equilibrium. Insulation provides resistance to this air flow, indicated by its R-value, so not only will insulation keep you warmer in the winter, it will keep you cooler in the summer.

Foam insulation in the wall frame and batting insulation in the ceiling.

A few weekends ago, when my mom was in town, we swung into Home Depot to pick up a few things for a project that, in fact, I'm going to tackle this coming weekend (stay tuned for pics!). As we walked in we saw this giant plexi-glass box with grey blow-in insulation and were approached by a friendly associate. He brought to my attention the possibility of adding insulation to my home, thereby saving money on utilities as well as earning a tax credit for increasing a home's energy efficiency. I shrugged him off, with the excuse that my home is only a few years old and I probably don't need to add any more insulation. He, being the salesman that he is, warned me that even though our home is new, it might not be as efficient as it could be.

The display that he stood by showed the ideal amount of insulation a home should have in its attic for our climate region, R-value of 60, but he said most new homes (mine in particular because he knew my builder) are only insulated with an R-value of 19 unless it had been specially requested during construction. He offered his services to come out and measure our insulation and once again, I shrugged off his offer. However, now that it is a balmy 64 degrees in my home (with the heat on) a little voice in my head is saying, "call the man, at least he could come and check it out, free of charge."

Insulation being blown into an attic.

You can find out the recommend R-value of insulation in your climate region by filling out the form on the Department of Energy's Insulation Fact Sheet website (my location recommend an R-value of 38). You can also use this handy-dandy tool on Home Depot's website to estimate the cost of adding insulation to your home.

So, what does this all have to do with the climate (other than the one in my home)? Well, by saving money on your heating bill, in actuality, you are using less natural gas or electricity. This benefits our lovely mother earth by using less natural resources and emitting less harm into the atmosphere. Imagine if by decreasing your energy consumption, you can save money and the earth in one swoop, talk about efficient!

Disclaimer: I am not a builder nor an expert on insulation. While I found this information thru researching and speaking with a contractor, I do not guarantee it is 100 percent accurate. I recommend contacting a certified contractor for specific information regarding construction or home projects.
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