Onward and Upward! Goals for 2015

sunset2015 is definitely starting off with a bang! Not only is it so cold that the boss has us working from home (the real feel was -24 when I woke up this morning…), but I’m enrolled in a couple graduate classes this quarter that are bound to keep me busy, and I’m doing a juice cleanse that has me craving – of all things – deli sandwiches, something I rarely eat anyway. Luckily, the cleanse ends tomorrow, but the other two will be sticking around for awhile.

What else do I have planned for 2015? Well, not much at this point, but I’ve put together some goals. I managed to tackled all of the items on the 2014 list, though the storage area is kind of a mess again and could use some TLC…

Lately I’ve been thinking about things I should cross off my bucket list before I turn 30 in 2016. I’ll try to keep the goals for 2015 and the holy-crap-I’m-almost-30 list separate, but some of these are probably a bit of both (and if you have suggestions for me, please send them along!).

1. Return to regularly scheduled programming. I was doing so well there for awhile, posting to Urban Nesting about four times a week, but lately I feel like my life has been so scattered, and I haven’t devoted the time to UN that I really should. I want to get back to contributing on a regular basis again. Let’s get to 200 followers! (We’re at 196 right now, for the record.)

2. Especially Foodie Fridays. Last year I blamed marathon training and I’m sure this year I’ll blame class (and maybe dating), but I’d really like to try a new recipe each week and share my findings with y’all on Fridays. Here’s to more culinary adventures in 2015! Nobody is going to make me a better cook but me.

3. Carve out an office space in my apartment. My coat closet is prime territory for this, but I’m not sure I can devote all that space to a desk. At the very least I’d like to set up some kind of landing strip to put mail and paperwork because last month’s gas bill may have gotten misplaced…

4. Transform my bedroom into a cozy retreat. I’ve definitely ignored my bedroom in lieu of rooms that are more public, but when it comes down to it, how many days a year am I entertaining versus home by myself? I should do something for me! The bedroom design is kind of all over the place right now, so it’ll definitely take some work. I’ll keep in mind Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams’ advice. (First project: Buy an alarm clock and move my phone away from the bed!)

5. Take a big trip. I know “travel more” was on the list last year, and I feel like I did do a few smaller trips that fulfilled that requirement (and we’re totally fun!). But I’m finally starting to feel like an adult with a real job and real PTO time and a (somewhat) real budget to take real vacations. It’s been awhile since I’ve been out of the country (minus Mexico). I think it’s time.

6. Ride my bike – or a bike – more often. Do you know how many times I rode my bike in 2014? Zero. I didn’t even get it out of the basement storage. If I’m too lazy to maintain it, I can get a Divvy bike sharing membership for something like $50/year. That’s just stupid cheap. I realize it’s not possible in the tundra, but I definitely want to keep this goal in mind for spring.

Sure, there’s some smaller things floating around in my head (have to get rid of those grubby kitchen rugs!), but these are the big picture items for 2015. What’s on your to-do list this year?

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A Happy Home-iversary!

Aug. 1 came and went so quickly that I didn’t even have a chance to celebrate my two-year home-iversary! I resigned my lease, so I’ll be in my current apartment for at least one more year (barring any major life changes). There was a bit of a rent hike, but it’s only an additional $20 a month—not something I’m excited about, but definitely not worth the expense (and hassle!) of a move. Plus, the consensus seems to be that my place is a steal for the amount of space and the neighborhood (Chicago’s North Center). I do love it!

Let’s take a look at how far it’s come:

Living room

Dining room

Bathroom

Kitchen

Bedroom

It’s not perfect. It never will be. Design is a constantly evolving process—and that’s exactly what makes it fun!

Outside of a few little things here and there, I’m VERY happy with the living room and dining room. But putting everything side-by-side here makes me realize that the kitchen and bathroom are kind of a different style than the rest of the apartment… Looks like I know where my next projects will be! Stay tuned.

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Quoted: Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams

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“Don’t let your bedroom be the last room you decorate. Even if it is a private space that guests rarely see, it is just too important when it comes to quality of life. This is the place that sets the tone for the beginning and end of each day.”

– Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams, The Comfortable Home

(Images: FluffnStuff, Lark & Linen, Jillian Harris)

Hosting Guests Without a Guest Room

BEDROOMfinalSpring is finally here so you know what that means—the start of travel season! Summer in Chicago is THE BEST. It’s what makes people put up with the terrible winters (though I know some people are teetering on the edge after this last one…). I can’t really blame anybody for not wanting to come visit me November-April, but I hope to play host a few times over the next six months or so.

There’s only one problem: I don’t have a guest room. I can barely afford a bedroom for myself, let alone another one that’s only used a few days out of the year (though don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I could find plenty of uses for it on the other days). Do you host overnight guests without an extra bedroom? Any tips or tricks to make their stay more comfortable (for both you and them)?

Here’s one Apartment Therapy writer’s suggestions:

First things first: Find a “bed”. If you want to prioritize hosting overnight guests, you need somewhere to put them. Pull-out sofas and daybeds are the obvious choice, but they’re not to everyone’s taste or budget. I love the corner sofa-turned-bed in my living room (in a furnished rental) for its hosting abilities, but would I buy it myself if I were furnishing my dream flat? Probably not.

Luckily, there are other options. A good air mattress is comfortable and doesn’t take up too much room (store it inside a suitcase when not in use). Or, depending on the guest and the length of stay (I’m thinking in-laws, and two nights max), you could also have the guests in your room and take the sofa yourself. If you’ve got kids, consider putting guests in their room while having the kids bunk with you or sleep on the sofa (little people take up less room, after all).

Remember, guests come with stuff. Think ahead to where your friends are going to put those pesky suitcases they arrive with, even if it’s just clearing a generous area on the floor. If you can allocate a small table, a shelf on the bookcase and a section in the coat closet for hanging things, all the better.

Consider your non-bedroom like a bedroom. Maybe you fall asleep on the sofa occasionally, but your guests will be trying to get some serious rest in this room, so think about it like you would your own bedroom. Do the curtains keep out enough light for your pals to get some shut-eye? Is there a draft coming under the front door that makes it cold at night? Is there street noise? There are simple, temporary fixes for most of these issues (even if they are just extra blankets and earplugs).

Throw in some extras. In addition to the basics above, adding some luxe touches to the “bedroom” area will go a long way to making it seem more inviting. My best friends always have fresh flowers in their apartment when I come to visit, which never fails to make me feel welcome. On the more practical side, a power bar for charging phones and Ipads is always appreciated, as is your wifi password written on an easily-accessible card.

Privacy… for everyone. If your guests will be staying awhile, try to afford everyone in the household a bit of solitude. A folding screen can lend a little privacy to an open plan living area turned bedroom, which is ideal in the mornings or evenings if everyone has different routines. Working out a shower schedule is another necessity that feels like micro-managing at first, but helps everyone feel more comfortable.

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Throwback Thursday: Middle School Bedroom

I’m not embarrassed to say I had a crush on Freddie Prinze Jr. growing up. She’s All That? Swoon. He may have been a terrible actor, but you have to admit he was pretty damn cute. HuffPo agrees with me. And Buffy.

But what every tween may not have had was a FPJ and Heath Ledger handmade poster. Oh yes, I caught on to Heath waaaay before the Brokeback Mountain craze. 10 Things I Hate About You? Still love it.

DSC00501Sorry, I should have given you some kind of warning before throwing that hideous picture out there. But you can see my hunky man collage on the left. What you can also see is a SHIT TON of other stuff. I was definitely a hoarder. I still am a little, but I’m a recovering hoarder.

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I think I was a hippie child? I’m seeing glow-in-the-dark peace signs, psychedelic art work, tie-dye curtains… and then some chili pepper lights? Not sure where those fit in. Add a bit of an Asian vibe and some athletic gear, and what we have is beyond a hot mess.

DSC00500Also, check out all the dolls and Beanie Babies… ah, they threaten to come alive and take over! So. Many.

DSC00503I think my mom told me one time that this was their furniture when they got married. They waited 10 years to have me, and I was probably 13 at the time… You can do the math there.

Anybody else willing to share their embarrassing first attempts at design?

Chiberia Warms Up—In a Sense

It’s amazing what two-plus days stuck in an apartment can do to a person. The polar vortex really had me down (though I really shouldn’t complain about “working” from home for two days) until I unearthed a gem in my linen closet.

OK, first off, I don’t actually have a linen closet. It’s really just a few shelves in the back of my clothes closet that hosts extra sheets, blankets, dated throw pillows, etc. Ha, I wish I had a dedicated linen closet, but who do you think I am?

Secondly, I haven’t given my bedroom much attention lately mostly because nobody ever really sees it, and it’s a bit overrun with, um, the other tenant’s “things” (cough, cough, hint, hint). Notice I did not include his nightstand in the picture…

But anywho, when I was hunting down a missing sock in the closet (also my laundry room, medicine cabinet and handbag holder—it’s really not that big), I rediscovered this handmade quilt from my Mimi. I thought it would be just thing to brighten my mood—and room—and help me ride out this bitter cold. What do we think?

BEDROOMfinalI know there’s a lot of pattern going on there, but I actually think it works really well. I’m kind of obsessed with it, but maybe just because it’s so terrible outside and turquoise makes me think of a tropical resort on the beach, where I should most definitely be right now.

Love it, hate it, have a different way of coping? Let me know!

(Sources: Lamp-Lamps Plus, Rug-Crate & Barrel, Paisley Quilt and Throw Pillow-West Elm)

Did You Know…

Crate & Barrel was started in Chicago? I had no idea! Thanks to my visit to the Chicago History Museum, here’s what I learned:

Gordon and Carole Segal opened the first Crate & Barrel store at 1510 N. Wells St., Chicago, with a mere $12,000. Their idea was simple: sell European table goods, purchased directly from small manufacturers, at a reasonable price. When they opened in 1962, the Segals had one sales associate and personally oversaw all aspects of the business from buying products to stocking shelves.

Crate & Barrel took its name from the packing crate and barrels used to display clean-lined European-style glasses and tableware. In contrast with other housewares stores, Crate & Barrel displayed its entire stock in bright architectural settings that showed the products to their best advantage, an approach that revolutionized retail display.

Crate & Barrel issued its first catalog in 1967. In addition to the company’s black-and-white boxes and bags, the catalog has served as Crate & Barrel’s chief advertising tool and as a vehicle to expose customers across the country to the company’s formula.

So there’s today’s history lesson. And here’s a few of my favorite items from their latest catalog (they’ve obviously expanded a bit from the tableware days!):

rochelle-sofaRochelle Sofa (comes in lots of great colors!), $2,499

bourne-bar-cabinetBourne Bar Cabinet, $999

aman-bed-linensAman Quilt, $159.95; Melrose Buffet Lamp, $179

(Images: crateandbarrel.com)