Family Portrait

I wrote about Kristina Micotti’s work about a year ago, and have been following her work on Instagram ever since. Earlier this year when I was trying to come up with a gift for Ben and my anniversary a few weeks back, I decided that one of Kristina’s gorgeous ink portraits would be just the thing. I had a portrait drawn of Ben and I for him for Christmas in 2011, but so many things had changed in the intervening four years– new glasses, different dog, and– oh yeah– that thing of a whole new tiny person in your family these days : ) I love Kristina’s sketchy style, and was super interested to see how she’d destill us down into just a few strokes. The results turned out really fun, I think you’ll agree.

We’re pretty cute, right? I love how Henry is captured as this perfect little blend of Ben and me– smiling like his mama, but a little unkempt like his Dad. And Ivy looking as forlorn as always– totally true to life.

Kristina also wins the award for cutest mail of the year, with a sketch of Ivy in sunglasses on the front of the package that she sent the portraits in.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 10.32.31 PMI also really loved that with the portrait, I got the original ink drawings of each of us, as well as a digital composite of the four drawings all put together. I was able to take the drawing of Ivy, which stood on it’s own so well, and hang it up in our newly-rearranged TV room. There she is above the TV giving us the same feel-bad-for-me face she’s giving all through dinner.


And I found a nice, sunny spot for it in our living room where the four of us can keep the plants company.

Huge thanks for Kristina for being so talented, and super great to work with. Check out her work if you’re in the market for a portrait (card, print, etc) of your own!


Holes in the Walls

We’ve been in our house over two and a half years now, and it took until this weekend to finally put anything up on the walls of the studio. Mind you, that room has needed probably the biggest makeover of the whole place. I’ve written before about the walls in this room— we first thought they were paneling, only to discover the “interesting” choice to cover the walls in faux wood contact paper.

301689_10150889285135077_1701876624_nAfter removing the paper (basically just a gigantic sticker), we painted the room a bright minty turquoise which, to be honest, took me a bit to get used. Though it’s nearly the exact same color I painted the kitchen area, it’s crazy how different light will change how a color appears. Eventually it grew on me (or not wanting to buy more paint and redo the room grew on me : ) ) and over the weekend weekend, almost a year later on the dot since the paint job, I finally got around to hanging things up on the wall. There’s still plenty to do to “finish” the room, but it’s nice to finally have some inspiring things to look at.

Of the hundreds of Martha Stewart tricks that are out there, this is probably the only one I’ve ever actually adopted– tracing the pictures you want to hang in paper first to adjust the layout before you start hammering any nails. So obvious, so smart.

Real talk: this is my mess of a workspace. I painted old metal thrift store frame white to frame a new picture in a more flattering way.

A couple of things on display on some of the smaller walls in the studio– the calendar sample was on of many treasures discovered in Uncle Fun‘s basement during their closing sale. The Anne Benjamin print I spotted at Earwax (also now closed. Why do all my favorite places close?) shortly after moving to Chicago and loved so much I very nearly stole it off the announcement board that night. When I saw her selling one at Renegade a year or so later I was so thrilled I snapped it up on the spot and it lived in our bedroom for a number of years. The colors work perfectly in the studio (and Henry enjoys saying “Arrrgh” the the pirate every time he sees it).

 The final (for now) gallery wall including a vintage pennant I found on Ebay, my new Earth Cadets screenprint (which was the impetus to finally hang things up), a bird print by Memo Helen, Amos Paul Kennedy broadside I got at DUCF last winter, and a vintage needlepoint owl thrifted by my sister-in-law a few years back.

Now, how’s that for eye candy the next time I’m looking for inspiration, eh? I don’t think I’ll have an excuse for an artistic slump ever again looking at all these beauties!

Mixing Patterns

Mixing patterns is one of the things that magazines are always telling you to do. There aren’t very many of us that actually give it a try– for myself it usually happens when I’ve picked my outfit out in the dark before the sun came up, or when a crazy thrifted blanket gets forgotten in the living room. Oh yeah, I totally meant to make that perfectly mismatched statement. Sure I did. New Year’s Resolution: more mixing, less matching. Here’s my inspiration:

Fav DIY Home Projects

I can never get my head around doing DIY projects in the winter. I guess it’s counter intuitive since the cold means being stuck inside for months, but maybe it’s the fact that you can’t open windows or set things outside to dry? For whatever reason, I tend to get the DIY itch only in the temperate months. So with spring on the horizon, these projects have caught my imagination. (Whether anything actually materializes, well, that’s another story…)

How to paint vinyl floors. I find this idea super intriguing because 75% of our living space is super ugly (though otherwise perfectly functional) vinyl. The bathroom especially is that kind of country blue pattern that was all the rage in 1993 (though inexcusable because its not nearly that old). I have big plans to give this painting technique a shot.

Sharpie wallpaper. I know, you’re thinking “How did I not coming up with that sooner?” Low investment/quick payoff projects suite me best, so this simple (and easy to change my mind about and recover later) wall decorating idea is just my speed.

DIY Sandbox. This project is a bit more involved than what I’d normally do (read: involves power tools) but it would make such a perfect summer play space for the little man. Our block is overrun with outdoor cats (we have a neighbor who keeps/feeds at least 15) that claim all empty pots, flower beds, etc, so a sandbox with cover is a necessity for us and I like how simple this design in. Way sleeker than the old green plastic turtle one I played in.

Check back and see if anything actually comes of any of this DIY dreaming. Here’s to warmer weather and new projects!

(Belated) Christmas Scenes

I haven’t been great about capturing things in photos recently, but I did want to share a few of the shots I took over the weeks around the holidays before they’re too distant of a memory. I was so consumed with orders that there was no time to do much of anything Christmas-y, let alone decorate the house at all, up until the few days before Christmas was actually here– subsequently, I’ve decided that the lovely decorations, now that they’re up, will stick around till February or so, so we can properly enjoy them. It was our first Christmas in our new little house, after all– Gotta live it up!

Our little dining area, with fancy garland and some of our favorite holiday cards. I bought the poinsettia on a whim a few days before Christmas dinner was to be at our house, but I’ve never actually had one before. Do they actually live past the holiday?

I had lots of extra ornaments leftover from preparations for the fancy wreath I didn’t end up making, so they were hung along the bookshelf in the living room so we could still enjoy their colors.

This was dessert for Christmas dinner with Ben’s family. We had a lot of things to celebrate, so I thought a proper cake was in order.

Shelf Paper Dreams

The previous owners of our house had a thing for contact paper. Sure, every shelf in the kitchen is lined with the stuff– that seems pretty normal. But the outside of some of the drawers are also covered in the stuff, not to mention the room I call the studio, which I thought was covered in paneling, has all four walls that are actually covered in woodgrain contact paper– not even wallpaper, but contact paper.

Still, even with an overabundance of the stuff around me, I’m still taken with the array of awesome retro patterns you can get when you find yourself a vintage role of the stuff. Check out these selections from Etsy and perhaps you’ll find yourself thinking about fake-wallpapering a room, too.






Shower Decisions

We need a new shower curtain. Something– anything– to cover up the blue bathtub our new place has blessed us with. But in a house with one bathroom, a shower curtain can suddenly become a bigger decision that you would expect.

I tried out one from Target the other day. I loved the design, but realized pretty quickly that a big, bold pattern in a teeny, tiny bathroom is a little visually overwhelming. Ah well, that’s why they have return policies, right?

My favorite discovery while browsing the internet’s selection of shower curtains was this one from Deny Designs that allows you to print your own photo on a curtain. How genius is that?

I don’t know if I can justify spending $60 on one, but the possibilities are endlessly amusing. Weebay shower curtain? Photobooth masterpiece shower curtain? Steve Zissou finger puppet shower curtain? Yes, yes and yes.

Fabric Wallpaper

My mom always loves to tell me stories about the many, many crappy apartments she lived in when my older brother was little and she was putting herself through grad school. In addition to the teeny tiny bedrooms, weird kitchens and grumpy landlords, what she really hated was when she lived in a place where she wasn’t allowed te paint. But, smart lady that she is, she told me how she used starch to create cheap and removable wallpaper using ordinary fabric. Who knew, right?

Well, How About Orange apparently knew, and posted this helpful tutorial about wallpapering your own spaces with fabric. See, mom was ahead of her time.

Check out the entire project here.