In praise of comfort.


The sweater is from Lou and Grey, the lounge collection from Loft. I would happily wear every. single. piece.

This column, by the inimitable Cathy Horyn of the New York Times, really spoke to me. The comments are wonderful too.

Some fashion blogs I’m admiring lately –





4. (a great blogger who is currently wearing maternity and, bless her, wears seasonally appropriate clothing.)

Do you have some favorite minimal/chic fashion blogs on your list? I’m still working on editing down my clothes. Wearing a limited maternity wardrobe has really reinforced the ideas I talked about in this previous post. Some might say it’s unwise to get rid of clothes when you are hugely pregnant, but I find filling bags to donate pretty liberating. I’ve been lucky to cross off a few things from my “basics” list and now I’m working to replace things in poor condition that I wear all the time (like my favorite sweaters and tees.) I’m also thinking about upgrading some of my denim after being disappointed by how quickly some of my favorite jeans have fallen apart. Any recommendations for brands? I’ll obviously be waiting until after april to even attempt to try on non-maternity styles. Just planning ahead…


New Couch Fail.

So we bought the Jappling couch from Ikea, thinking it would be perfect for us in all it’s $399 cheap faux leather glory. Truly, it was great. The scale was good for the room, the pleather didn’t feel terribly cheap, and it was firm but comfortable. Everything was fine, until our cat realized we got a new couch made out of her favorite substance ever – plastic.

Is my cat the only cat that’s obsessed with chewing plastic? In the middle of the night she’ll gnaw on plastic dry cleaner bags or try and eat and scratch any poly shipping mailer that’s been left out on the table. I inevitably find teeth and claw marks on our shower curtain and I have to be super vigilant about plastic ribbon during the holidays, lest she choke. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that she liked the couch so much.



So we basically had the couch for about a week before she started methodically scratching during the night. We have had a real leather chair and a leather ottoman in the living room that she has never touched, so scratching didn’t really occur to me as a possibility.



We’ve kept a couple of throws tossed over the couch to try and minimize the amount of damage, but at this point the couch is a loss. No one would buy it, and frankly it’s not worth donating since the damage is pretty bad on the arms and back. Now it’s just a  placeholder ( and group nap facilitator) until we get another couch, this time fabric. Our previous couch was fabric and she never scratched it, so I’m hopeful this is just her commentary on my choice of pleather rather than a new behavior. I’m really disappointed though, and feeling terribly wasteful since we’ve only had it a couple of months. I also feel a little anxious about our next choice – should we go with something cheap again in case she does keep scratching? I know there are sprays for fabric that deter scratching, but I don’t want to waste even more money on something that could get ruined. I’m praying that it’s just about the texture of the pleather. Snobby cat.

On the bright side, the couch was a bit dark for the room and I’m wondering if it might be better, style wise, to go with something a bit lighter, or at least that isn’t dark brown (brown ottoman, brown fur dog bed, wood bar, dark wood floors.) I’ve got my eye on a couple of options.

pennie sofa crate & barrel


The Pennie Sofa from Crate & Barrel – $899

I think the shape is so cool, but the obvious drawback is that there aren’t removable cushions. Considering how rough the dog is on upholstery it probably not the most realistic choice.

paidge sofa west elm


The Paidge Sofa Grand from West Elm – $1449

Pricey, but I love the swoop arm and I’m really attracted to the ink blue velvet upholstery.

abbott sofa world market


The Abbott Sofa from World Market – On sale for $595

The cheapest of the bunch! I love this one. I miss the chaise part of our old couch and this one has much trimmer proportions. My brother and SIL have this one and it’s pretty comfy. Obviously the price is amazing. Pk is not crazy about the chaise since he likes how open the room feels now without it.

karlstad-sofa-bed-w-storage-compartment ikea


The Karlstad Sofa Bed from Ikea – $849

The workhorse. Since we no longer have a guest room (new nursery!) it might be nice to have a sofa bed. It could move to the basement eventually and it has a bunch of different covers available. The cover and cushion covers can be removed to be cleaned. It’s not a particularly exciting silhouette, but maybe I could get more interesting legs for it, like hair pin or something a little more MCM (like this pin)? This couch seems like the most common sense option to me. Darn it Ikea. I can’t seem to get away from you.

So, no decisions yet, but we are definitely keeping an eye out for sales and floor samples. I’m tempted to just pull the trigger on the Ikea one, but I think I should force myself to wait in case I find something we absolutely love. In the meanwhile we’ve cleaned out every closet and some of our storage locker. I’m truly in nesting mode now at 29 weeks. We cleared out the old guest room to prep for the new nursery. An entire truck load of stuff went to be donated! The room needs a coat of paint, but most of the other large pieces are already here (dresser, crib, glider). I’m so excited to get rid of stuff. When I was pregnant with Lucy I collected an insane amount of baby gear from thrift stores and hand me downs, but this time around I’m hoping to do things much more simply.

Spotted any good deals on couches lately? Cat training ideas? Impervious fabric suggestions?

Hope you all are well.


cold weather survival tools

Chances are, wherever you are, it’s quite cold. We rung in 2014 with almost 3 straight days of snow and now super cold temps to follow. The Chicago forecast for next week calls for highs of -8°. As in, the actual temperature. Not the windchill. It’s the kind of weather where you dare not leave your house with wet hair for fear that your tresses will instantly break off and when you open the door to let the dog outside she looks at you like you’re insane. I’ve rounded up a few things that are getting me through these wickedly cold days.

winter survival kit
1. Crane Drop Shape Humidifier – we have Crane humidifiers in every bedroom. I fill them every night and if I forget, my throat tells me the next day.
2. Gap Sweater Zip Cape – I sized up on this one so that it would last me through this pregnancy. I wear it around the house like a slightly more stylish Snuggie. The zips open so you can poke your arms out to change the channel and/or pin freely.
3.Numi Organic Rooibos Chai – Caffeine free tasty hydration. Delicious with steamed milk and a sleeve of Lorna Doones.
4. L.L. Bean 10″ Shearling Lined Boots – The gold standard of winter boots. I know everybody loves their Sorel’s right now, but these are the originals and so, so toasty. The black/black are on sale right now too.
5. Burts Bees Intense Hydration Day Lotion – I have dry, sensitive skin and this stuff is a game changer. It soothes wind chapped cheeks, isn’t greasy, layers well under makeup, and claims to minimize wrinkles (ahem, not that I need that, ahem).
6. Target Plaid Shirt Flannel – So soft. So cheap. Size up for sure. I think I might pick up the other colors too since I basically wear this every day. The perfect layer.
It’s hard not to have the sadz with this awful weather especially with the inevitable post-holiday cough we all seem to have. Lucy got an incredibly awesome gift for Christmas – the Kiwi Crate subscription service and one project box has gotten us through some long boring afternoons. You can read Shana’s super thorough review (and comparison to a similar service, Wonderbox) here.
Stay warm!

Let’s talk about the basement.

But first, the weather. It’s 92° and ridiculously humid out side all this week and as much as I want Sean to jump on building the new fence; I also don’t want him to die of heatstroke on my new lawn. So…

He started excavating the basement. Remember the basement? Here’s what it looked like yesterday.


Grainy iphone pic, sorry. PK just left town with my camera cord so I can’t use the ones I took from my Canon.

Sean and Jonah (his employee and expert shovel user) started to breakup the uneven concrete floor and explore what we need to do to underpin our foundation. Our current ceiling height is a little over six and a half feet in some places, but shorter in others. Successive previous owners poured different concrete pads at different times and also over existing pads, so it’s basically a hot mess down there. Luckily, since we have central air (thank the gods!) the basement is a comfortable 68° and the boys can work safely without fear of melting. The only thing they have to be afraid of is the cat, who is pissed (whatapun!) that they moved her litter box. Also, spiders. And the creepy efflorescence from the moist brick walls (eeewwwww.)

I’m actually super excited to get started even though we have two other unfinished projects going on, namely the Garudio (garage/art studio) and the back yard fence. It’s really too hot to expect them to work outside in this weather  so as long as we are making progress on something, I’m happy. The rest of the floor will have to get broken up with a jackhammer and then the boys have to somewhat tediously, fill 5 gallon buckets and pass them through the front window to the sidewalk where they get dumped in back of Pete’s truck. Normal people would probably rent a dumpster and have it hauled away, but we are trying to be low profile about this project, so we’re doing it the hard way, load by load, to our local landscaping services place that accepts concrete. And by we, I mean Sean the contractor, Jonah, and Pete when he gets home from work.

Dealing with the basement will mean dealing with a few plumbing and electrical issues. Our electric box looks like an octopus on steroids and that has to be dealt with before we run power out to the garage. We will also…

– build a french drain system to a sump pump, like this.


– pour a new slab and add flooring (probably engineered wood which is suitable for damp locations) We are going for a finished ceiling height of about 8 feet or slightly below. I also like the laminate flooring that Jen used in her recent basement reno.


-replace all the windows, some of which are glass block, and drywall the walls. Our basement has 8 windows! Lots of light.

-Add a bathroom. Probably just a shower, rather than a tub shower combo. Like this


-build  walls around our furnace and move the hot water heater in the furnace room

-build  a real laundry room, like this


That’s the plan! Not sure at all how long it will take. Maybe done or close to done by Christmas? There are a lot of different elements to consider, and other things to finish up.

I’m so glad to have something to distract me while we wait to get results from our Frozen Embryo Transfer yesterday. The transfer went really well – we transferred two good looking embryos and have on left that’s still frozen, in case we do want to try again. I feel fine – a little frustrated by my 10 lb lifting restriction which is basically impossible to comply with because of Lucy, but I’m doing my best to just take it easy and stay cool.

ps. More pictures of our basement in all it’s disgusting glory here.

p.p.s. an inspiring basement reno  – start here. befores and afters here

The massive edit.


Over the last two weeks I’ve gotten rid of 30% of my wardrobe. 5 or 6 trashbags of clothes and shoes have been gleefully tossed in the back of the car and dropped in donation bins. Not because I lost a pant size (or gained one) but because I finally just reached a point of exhaustion when I opened my closet everyday. I finally realized that embracing a kind of wardrobe minimalism would make things a lot easier for me in the mornings and help me embrace a simple classic style that I admire so much in others. Now, I’m not talking about the kind of crazy minimalism that some bloggers advocate for (no, I will not successfully have a 33 piece wardrobe.) I am talking about a versatile, classic, quality wardrobe that suits my lifestyle.

That’s a mostly casual lifestyle folks. I’m a SAHM. I go for walks with the dog, stroll to the park, meet with other moms for playdates, and if I’m lucky a couple of date nights with my husband. The stacks of Banana Republic wool slacks and sweater dresses leftover from my retail days just are not necessary. The same goes for the piles of ill fitting tee shirts and long sleeves from the clearance racks at Gap and Old Navy; I feel like I’m a bit too old to dress like a teenager. I love neutral interiors and even though it took me a while to figure out, I love a neutral wardrobe too. Here’s the criteria I used to rid my self of an excess of clothes.

1. Does it fit?

I’m not talking about basic fit – if you can’t button or zip it, it should go. That’s obvious. I’m talking about fit and flatter. For example, I had a pile of dolman sleeved slightly too short tees from Zara and Old Navy. They fit, and are relatively new, but I realized that dolman sleeves and a boxy shorter fit are just not flattering for my figure.  In the pile they went. I kept all the shirts that weren’t faded and tried to only keep neutrals like white, black, and gray. Likewise, too short shorts (I’m 30, not 13) and frumpy khakis that I bought for one event and haven’t worn since. Gone.

2. Is it a classic?

I had a lot of items in my wardrobe that were looking pretty dated, like tons of cotton long sleeves with weird decorative details like ruching and floral appliques. They may have looked pretty new, but now they scream ” I was 8 dollars at Old Navy in 2004!” If it doesn’t stand the test of time, it gets tossed.

3. Is it useful or, will you actually wear it?

I bagged up things that still had tags on them that I’ve never worn – mostly ill fitting dresses that I bought last minute before an event and ended up not wearing. I’ve been just as guilty as the next person of holding on to clothes that I will most likely never wear either because I was trying to embrace a trend (hippie-chic) that doesn’t really reflect my personal style (classic and elegant, I hope.) I don’t need to have a ton of dresses, just enough to attend a few social events for Pks work every year and the occasional summer wedding. I also think I should no longer wear cheap dresses for important social events – a well cut quality dress that can be worn more than once makes a better impression than a trendy but poorly constructed rag from Forever 21.

4.  Why am I keeping it?

I’ve held onto a lot of clothes over the years because they were gifts or because of their perceived value (i’m looking at you giant  bell sleeved Jcrew cashmere sweater from 1998!) Mostly I just turned off the emotional voice in my head that said “oh don’t, so and so bought that for you!” If I don’t wear it regularly, it got tossed. If I wore it regularly but was damaged or worn out it got tossed too. Goodbye to pilly, faded  favorite sweaters – time to replace them with more quality versions.

What’s left? A pretty decent, versatile wardrobe that reflects my lifestyle and age. Lots of chambray and denim,  striped shirts, wool and cashmere sweaters, a couple of solid blazers and a smattering of more formal wear. I still have a few foundation pieces to get – like a pair of dressy black flats, but I really don’t want to just buy a cheap pair. I’d rather save up for a sturdy classic that will last quite a few years. My favorite places to shop right now are J.Crew, Madewell,  ASOS, and of course Gap (for basics I don’t feel guilty about sticky toddler hands ruining).  I’ve also been trying to pin outfits that reflect my style and perusing blogs that embrace a kind of understated luxurious fashion. I thought that this list was good guide for the basics that a classic wardrobe should have (obviously, take or leave what doesn’t work for you.)


I still have tons of shoes – but after thorough editing I have tons of shoes that I actually love. Also, side note, when you are trying to minimize your closet you probably shouldn’t do an Etsy search for “vintage Coach.” Let’s just say my purse collection got a little bigger.

What are your strategies for maintaing a streamlined closet? I found that the pictures I posted on this blog helped me figure out what does and doesn’t work for me. I love Shannon’s posts about that too. It was super empowering to get rid of a bunch of clutter! I feel like I could still edit it down a little more! Now, if I can just resist those 40% off coupons from the Gap…


The front garden.

You know – the one that only exists in my head. Right now all we have in front of our house is a scraggly patch of lawn.

IMG_4880 IMG_4879

Our house is practically flush to the sidewalk, and since there is no sidewalk on the other side of the street we get A LOT of foot traffic. We live across the street from an elementary school so there is basically a neighborhood parade in front of the house twice a day. I’d love to have a little garden there just to increase our curb appeal, but also because I’d like people to walk on the sidewalk, and not on the grass. It’s a partially shaded area that mostly gets indirect sun in the late afternoon so I’ve decided on some shade loving perennials to make an easy and welcoming front garden (and to hide the ugly gas meter!).

1. Hydrangea

annabelle hydrangea

I would probably choose a white mophead variety if I can find them at my garden center. Maybe a dwarf variety? Hydrangeas can grow fast and furious, so I probably won’t plant too many, but it will be nice to have something with a bit of height.



I love hostas – easy to deal with and a million shades of green. My favorites are the huge elephant ear varietals with bluish tones mixed with a few of the bright chartreuse ones.

3. Hellebore


I love the unique colors and appearance of hellebore (christmas rose.) I planted a few green ones at our first house and they thrived in a densely shaded garden so I’m hoping I can have repeat success here.



I love Astilbe for a little bit of drama and color. The feathery plume is so pretty. They make great cut flowers too. They bloom quite tall and have a pretty kind of spiky foliage.

6. Japanese Forest Grass

japanese forest grass

I love the waterfall effect.

7.Japanese Painted Fern

japanese painted fern

I love the petite Japanese painted fern. It stays quite short, but has a huge variety of colored foliage.

8. Irish Moss

irish moss

I spotted this lovely ground cover at our local botanic gardens and totally adore it. The petite white flowers are charming, and I’ve read it’s almost as durable as grass – which is a good thing if school kids will be trudging over it every day.

It’s a pretty small area so I won’t need a ton of plants, but I’d like it to have a lot of variety. Of course, my plan depends on what’s available at my local nurseries this year, but a lot of what I’ve chosen are fairly easy to find. We also have to put in a front walkway since we moved the location of our front stairs and I’d like to add a rain barrel since our downspout is right there on the front corner of the house (although you can’t see it in the pic because it fell off, like, 2 months ago. #stayingontopofthings

So! That’s the plan for the front garden. Meanwhile  Pk is till out of town and contractor Sean is pouring footings for our new back deck. I’m watching my brother’s very energetic dog for the week. He gets along great with our dog, but they never stop playing – it’s a bit exhausting for everyone. Also, I’m the only mammal in my house who didn’t pee on the floor yesterday #goodthingimhousetrained

Sorry, I’ll stop it with the hashtag thing. I don’t even use twitter! Hope you all are well.


all images via BHG

backyard dreams

Poor Lucy was up all night for the second fevered night in a row. Today, after a visit to her doctor and some antibiotics for an ugly sinus infection, we spent the day cozied up in the living room listening to the lighting and thunder outside. These April showers have me dreaming of lush landscapes and hoping we can get going on the back yard sooner rather than later. After talking with our contractor this afternoon we decided that we need to completely regrade our  yard and he agreed that a low deck with a gravel bed  and a swale underneath could help deal with some of our water drainage issues. He reminded me that any deck we put in could be protected from the rubble of our future basement dig out with plywood and that a flat surface would be easier to work from than the rocky uneven dirt pile that’s there now. After our chat my mind is running wild with ideas for our tiny dirt patch! I found some images of beautiful and compact backyards that are inspiring.
small yard
source unknown
I’d like our yard to be a mix of materials – a functional low wood deck with room for the grill and the table by the back door, stone or concrete paths to the garage studio and the gate to the driveway, as well as a patch of lawn for the dog. If we can I’d like to squeeze in a few puppy proof raised planter beds so we can have a little vegetable and herb garden. Our yard is really a side yard, running along the side of our house because of the way our lot is laid out.
Our contractor spent the day cutting new roof rafters in the garage( we basically have to rebuild it from the inside out so it’s a suitable studio space for me) and otherwise reframing the space. I’m so glad that work has started again(there goes that tax refund!) It buoys my spirits to actually see some progress around here. It was also nice to focus on something else instead of endlessly refreshing news websites about the bombing in Boston. I’m not sure if it’s motherhood, IVF hormones, or most likely just being human – but every story from that day has me weeping, and squeezing my loved ones a little tighter.
I hope you and yours are happy and together, wherever you are.


really. thank goodness it’s almost Friday, because it feels like Pk has been out of town for like a year. It’s been a long slow week of wanting to get a lot done and not feeling like I’m accomplishing anything. The dreaded cold that Lucy and I have is still holding on, but I think we are finally on the upswing. I have a list of little projects (and a few big ones!) that I’d like to tackle when my mister gets home, once he has had a chance to catch up on sleep. Actually we both probably need to catch up – when Pete’s out of town I have a tendency to be a hyper vigilant night owl – listening to every creak and sound, and waking up every time a car hits the speed bump on out street. I guess my insomnia could also be a side affect of the medication I’m on for our IVF cycle. Lupron makes me feel strangely dull and a little foggy, not to mention the hot flashes (there was an awkward moment in an elevator at Urban Outfitter yesterday, yikes!) You can read more about the purpose of Lupron during IVF here if you are curious.

One of the projects I’ve been thinking about is our back yard – we’re in kind of an awkward spot in terms of timing. We’d love to dig out basement (which would mean staging a giant rubble pile and probably a concrete truck in our yard) but we’re still working on the garage/studio. I don’t want to have another summer of not really usable backyard space so I’d like to at least get the the yard leveled out and some grass planted – right now the yard slopes towards our house which isn’t the best for drainage. I’d also like to replace our fence which is currently falling down into our neighbor’s yard. I need to get a quote from a mason to brick up some windows that were boarded over from the inside of the house (why, previous owners, why?!?) and get a quote for a new roof and gutters. I probably need to deal with all those things before we do our basement, so that water issues don’t destroy any of the work we would do down there. I’m always in favor a buying a fixer upper and improving, but man, sometimes the amount of work that this house needs is so overwhelming.

I wish our yard looked like this. Actually I’d take the whole house (designed by Mark Egerstrom).



I love a low wooden deck, and it would probably be cheaper than a stone patio. We’ll have to see what Pete thinks, but in the meanwhile, I can dream.

Happy almost Friday!

minimal, maximal, and tgif

Miles Redd
living room – Miles Redd
Is it strange that I’m equally drawn to both of these decorating styles? On the one hand I love the absolute simple elegance of the first room – it’s beautiful, light, masculine, and neutral. On the other hand I love the riotous pattern play and layering in the second pic (by the genius, Miles Redd.) Saturated jewel tones, traditional furniture with an occasional modern nod (tree stump table! leopard pillows!, ikat!) and that massive persian rug; all a few of my favorite things.
Sometimes in decorating my own house I find myself totally pulled in two different decorations. There are days when I want to start fresh with white walls and completely modern furniture and other days when I find myself thinking about dark lacquered walls, plaster ceiling medallions, and gilded frames. In some ways I think the answer is room to room decor that’s unique – like having really soothing clean lined bedrooms to provide a respite from richly decorated public rooms like living and dining spices. I’ll never be someone that completely eschews one design style over another, but I do find myself leaning towards slightly more traditional decor over the kind of sleek modernism that I used to admire.Recently I was in a house that had me itching to decorate – it was a little too clean, know what I mean? Obviously having a kiddo can dictate your decor a little bit (the priceless antiques and knickknacks in the Miles Redd room are not really toddler friendly) but patterns and rugs hide spills and “rich patina” is nothing more than wear and tear right?
Where do you guys fall in the spectrum? Do you like a more collected look or prefer a clean lined modernism?
A few friday links,
– I’ve been enjoying this fashion blog
– try not to laugh, I bought these shoes and I kind of love them
– loving this fashion designer
– speaking of fashion and beautiful things, I love this gal’s tumblr and blog
this was an amazing and haunting book.
Happy weekend!

Mom style

If the fashion ramblings of a stay at home mom will bore you, please feel free to skip this post.

I’m by no means a fashionista, but I do think it’s important to dress well for yourself everyday, and by well I mean change out of the yoga paints you slept in and comb your hair. Safe to say I don’t have high standards, but lately I’ve been feeling like I should work a little harder on it. I don’t usually put a lot of effort into what I wear because there are days, and days and days when Pk is out of town, that I’m really only hanging out with Lucy and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t care what I wear. A lot of the good stuff in my closet is business casual stuff from when I was working (before Lucy) and is maybe a bit too dressy for casual wear. I don’t think my stack of dress slacks from Banana Republic are really mom-appropriate ( ie – easy to clean chocolate milk and boogers from). I feel like I’m gradually accumulating a more casual wardrobe that’s appropriate for my distinctly non-dressy lifestyle finally. Maybe it was seeing some of my very stylish friends over the holiday break or a little too much time staring at pinterest but I really feel lately like I have to try to at least look put together, even if it’s just for me.  So, here’s what I wore this week. I see tons of room for improvement, but it’s a little better than my usual extremely casual look ( like, I showered. and wore mascara. really.)

IMG_3586Monday – skinny jeans, Asos military jacket, hooded grey scarf, heeled ugg boots. (it was freezing and windy that day)

IMG_3638Tuesday – button up under an open knit sweater, cuffed jeans, Clarks desert boots (oooh look, I actually wore my hair down- the whole day!)

IMG_3609Wednesday -skinnies, gap plaid jacket, ankle boots, infinity scarf (super cold that day too)

IMG_3670Thursday – Valentines Day! an excuse to wear hot pink pants!!! Navy cable knit sweater, Frye Melissa Button Boots, sparkly heart pin. A necklace with all of our initials and a silver locket my mom gave me.

IMG_3692Friday (today) – skinnies again, tunic sweater, motorcycle boots, layered necklaces from Jcrew Factory

Here’s what I see – I need to have a bit more variety in bottoms (like really Helen? 5 days of some version of skinny jeans?) and it wouldn’t kill me to make a little more effort with my hair.

Sorry if this post is totally boring for you guys – I feel a little bit vain posting about fashion (since I’m clearly not an expert!) but I think seeing the pictures helps me assess what looks good and what doesn’t. I think I need to sort of keep myself accountable too, lest the leggings and sweatshirts in my closet come creeping back out. I promise I won’t always use filtered pics too, but they sure did a good job of hiding the dust on the mirror 🙂

Have a great weekend! We are going to enjoy some family time with out of town visitors and a fun weekend visit to our fertility clinic. We’re getting the ball rolling on another round of fertility treatments which is exciting, tiring, and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Did I mention expensive? It’s that too.


ps – are you guys following any fun fashion blogs? If so do share – it’s always nice to have more inspiration.

%d bloggers like this: