Wednesday, February 29, 2012


While in Iowa over the weekend I partook in some harmless civil disobedience and goofy vandalism.

I have tried many times to do this in Chicago, but it's difficult to be ANYWHERE without being within someone's eye line. Thank goodness for Iowa.

Concept from

Friday, February 24, 2012

Claw Machine Reviews

Happy happy happy WEEKEND! The beau and I are headed off to Iowa for a long overdue visit with family and friends. We have plans to eat dinner at the SO VERY VERY GOOD Lincoln Cafe, and then having many beers while wearing vests (her choice, part of our crew's tradition of letting the birthday boy/girl call all shots) to celebrate Carissa's birthday.

What are you doing this weekend? Considering heading over to Claw Machine Reviews and checking out my latest tip on how to win, then go out into the real world and give it try!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


The hallway and its giant chalk board have gotten a make-over. I'm still in the process of putting it all together, but I am dorkily excited for someone to see the chalkboard. We won't have guests for a couple of weeks, so HERE YA GO, INTERNET!

 The lettering and embellishment was done with chalk pens, which wipe off with water but won't smudge under your finger. I have a bag of plain ol' chalk nearby, so visitors can leave their own marks or Jake and I can write each other the lovey messages we are wont to do.

Outfit details--All elements purchased second-hand unless noted otherwise:
Why do I look so crabby!?
Floral Shirt: $1.50
Dress: $2.00
Belt: $.25
Tights & Socks: Purchased from mall stores, $10.00
Boots: A birthday gift from my mom, to replace the pair that was stolen from my car! I paid $40.00 of my own money for these from Zappos.
Approximate Total: $53.75 (13.75 excluding the boots)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Floating Shelves

Renegade Handmade's storefront has sadly closed, but my benefit from their fixture sale was vast. I picked up a clothing tagger for cheap, a bag of markers to support my marker habit, and among other things some floating shelves. There are only two, a few feet in length, but they are just what I've always wanted.

We stuck them up on our big, bare wall in the bedroom and I can't wait to turn it into a rotating "gallery," as tiny as it may be.

One step closer to my dream home! In which, I have a library full of these shallow floating shelves, much like the photo below from here.

And speaking of dream homes, we found ours! It may not be in the right setting, but one day when we are able to afford the $$$$million$$$$ price tag, we can just put in on a truck and take it to our acreage...right?

Just look at the siding details! The colors! The tear drops! The spire! 

What does your dream home look like?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Carrisa!

Today is a very important day! Without it, one of my favorite bloggers and people would not be in my life. Happy birthday to super special buddy and talented lady Carissa from Luxe Debris!

For her big day, consider hopping over to her online shop and perusing her amazing jewelry and her well-curated vintage selection. This girl knows what's up.

Love you, Carissa!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Plant Parenthood

One day, in either the near or far future, Jake and I would like to adopt some "serious" plants. A pitcher plant, lime tree, something carniverous, and a few that will feed us.

There's a big ol' rubber plant sitting happily in the kitchen thanks to Jake's care, but any other plant I've owned has died due to cats, my laziness, or in the case of our cilantro, rats.

After a little trip to American Science and Surplus (more on that later), we picked up some "baby steps" plants to fill our new beakers and practice our plant care.

Do you have any experience with cacti, succulents, or air plants? Let me know if you have any tips! We need all the help we can get.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Leslie and the Ly's Tour!

A handful of some of my favorite people have begun their annual trek across the USofA!

Leslie & the Ly's, Pennyhawk, and Ramona and the Swimsuits will be coming to a city near you. Find your date here and start stretching for the dance party.

Their newest music here:
Leslie and the Ly's (you can hear myself, Carissa, and Jessica in "Here to Win")

Check out what Ramona has to say about the tour, and then pop over to her photo tumblr to keep track of the lady gang.

Iowa represent! Happy weekend, ya'll!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bedroom Makeover

There are no excuses to not tackle nearly every item on your project list when you have 2.5 weeks at home with no obligations. This is my situation, still at the top end of the 2.5 weeks my boss is in India.

We painted much of our apartment in the first couple of months here, which I shared long ago in this post. We bought a calming slate blue for the bedroom, but after tackling four rooms worth of walls, I was burnt out and swore that I'd get to it soon. Fast forward to February, and I finally got around to it.

Until yesterday, the bedroom was such an eyesore that I never bothered to take a single photo of it. Tall, white walls in the shape of a small square just big enough for our bed and kind of our dresser. One small west-facing window with the view of a brick wall three feet away (ahh, city life) and a single bare bulb hanging from a rusty chain being our only sources of light. The room absolutely felt like a prison cell. Of course, we do nothing but sleep and change clothing in the room--even reading and napping are done elsewhere--but it felt nothing like the sanctuary typical of a bedroom.

Thank goodness things change.

Please divert your eyes away from the paint on the ceiling! I am diligent about edges only for the first wall and then inevitably get lazy. One of the items on my "no excuses list" is to hop around the apartment with white paint and a ladder to fix my whoopses. Also on the list is to hang some white shelves we've acquired from both friends and the Renegade Handmade store (RIP) and make a hanging lamp shade with a little more interest.

Also, while I commandeered most of the styling choices in the apartment, Jake did an exceptional job choosing both the wall and bedding colors for this room. The combination of light blue and brown has always been a favorite of mine, and adding touches of jewel tones makes for a romantic room without feeling like it belongs to a princess. Maybe in our next place, I'd let him do all of the color scheming.

A few of the details:
Bedding: Espresso brown and Eggplant organic sheet sets from Target
Gazelle print: FREE gift from Renegade's fixture sale with our purchases--it had a $50 price tag on it, but has slight tears at the edges. Whatta deal!
Throw pillows and curtains: Made by my mom years ago when I'd decorated my bedroom in a Moroccan motif
Elephants: All of the tiny elephants were found at antique and consignment shops and gifted to me by my dad for good luck

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Projected: Stick Art Accomplished!

After a lot of struggling with mono-filament and a bit of craft cursing, I made it happen! The layout isn't pitch-perfect, but after a couple hours of struggling with the display I decided that it will have to do for now.

This project was 100% free, using paint and fishing line I already owned. Mother Nature was kind enough to donate the sticks from the park across the street.

Check out the whole process here and here.

PS- My layout seems to be doing crazy things without my permission, so if you happen to see the Comic Sans font anywhere on here, please know that it is not of my doing! My design taste and skill levels are limited--if not a bit challenged--but I DO know better than Comic Sans and Papyrus thanks to some outspoken design friends of mine.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Weekend Goodies

On Saturday, the handsome guy and I had our first day date in a while. "A while" being a couple of weeks, because we really wish every day was date day. While I've been graced with 2.5 weeks off from work, Jake continues to go to school and work, all day/every day. These special days are few and far between now, so we made the most of it.

...bought mussels and shrimp from our favorite fish monger to make po' boys and steamed mussels with wine and soy chorizo 
...stopped by The Boring Store, which supports Dave Eggers' youth writing non-profit, 826, and picked up some small gifts
...raided the fixture sale at Renegade's now closed storefront and got away with all of their markers, a tagger, shelves, and extension cords for dirt cheap
...perused the bins at Logan Hardware and spent some time battling it out on the Johnny Mnemonic pinball table 
...spent an hour browsing at the Broadway Antique Market and making a mental list of all the things we'll go back for when we're swimming in pools of money 
...and spent the evening with Jake's brother and "sister-in-law" getting burgers at the Bad Apple.  My favorite burger has the fig and bacon compote with goat cheese. MMM.


1. Waiting in line at Dirk's.
2. The Boring Store.
3. The Boring Store window display.
4. Beating me at Johnny Mnemonic.
5 & 6. Stack of twenty old 45s from Logan Hardware that will eventually turn into crafts.
7. The cover of one of my new miniature notebooks made from old slides.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Easy DIY Drip Art

Water color paper or canvas
Water color paints (I used Reeve's Water Colour in a tube for more color concentration)
Paint brushes, one for each color or have a glass of water nearby for rinsing
Spray bottle of water
Newspaper or tarp to keep your space clean.

Consider experimenting on scrap paper first. Here is the hot mess of my first attempt, which is already in the recycling:

 Simple steps:
1. With the paper flat on a surface, dampen the top of your paper with your spray bottle. 
2.Add the water colors of your choice in whatever placement suits you.
3.With the spray bottle and a brush, mix each paint with water until the color paste is fully dissolved.
4.Tilt your paper/canvas upright to begin drips. Adjust as necessary: gently (or not so gently) blend your colors together, spray more water, throw some glitter on it, etc.
5.Allow drying time, frame it up, and admire.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Now that my handsome roommate/best friend has returned to school, I have a lot of time alone at home. In the summer I'd go exploring, but I am holing up for Chicago winter, no matter how mild. 

My new sewing machine has been put to work!

After fixing all of the ripped pants in the house--including one pair split by Jake at a party when trying to do yoga while wearing corduroys--I began working on the pile I set aside to reconstruct. Each top is upcycled from materials I already owned.

Vintage blouse, ruched with added blue lace.


Freestyle "quilt" from fabric scraps appliqued to a stained t-shirt I had dyed last summer. This is a new style that I am working to perfect.

Peculiar short sleeved t-shirt/cardigan/jacket, sewed together in the front, gathered under the bust for a little shape, and give puffy sleeves.

I can't wait to do this to more sweatshirts! Tiny vintage sweatshirt turned into a cardigan with a  lace trim. I'm not loving the lace, so I may replace it with some green or white binding. What do you think I should do?

Monday, February 6, 2012


Excuse the silence around here. I haven't been well for the past few days, and laying on the couch watching Intervention doesn't make for very exciting blog content. I'm feeling more like myself now, so I'll come back on Wednesday with some fresh content.

Be well!
Xoxo, Brooke

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Favorite Places

If you ever find yourself in Chicago and want to avoid the tourist trail, I'd love to give you recommendations. Here are a couple nearly free options to get you started:

"Logan Hardware is a record store and vintage arcade museum located in the Logan Square Neighborhood.  
A collection of historic games that are FREE to play! 
Your patronage of the store helps us keep the Museum free and functioning."

"In addition to being the coolest store on the planet, we are also a curiosity cabinet of items resurrected from the past. A motionless zoo & touchable museum, we specialize in antique & vintage: specimens, taxidermy, art, medical doodads, atypical collectibles, unusual objects, & strange whatchamacallits."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Made Over

 A new year, a new look.

One box of darkdarkdark brown dye. A good trim and asymmetrical bangs via razor comb. Some white and pink embroidery floss. Earrings from my favorite jewelry artist. This super-easy new make-up trick.

From this to witch in exactly one year!

Friday, January 27, 2012


I bought these matching vintage lamps at the same time as the lamp in this previous post, for $6.00 each ($12.00 for both). I knew it'd be a long-shot to thrift matching lamp shades, so I caved and bought these from a big box store for less than $30 total (yikes!). I suppose the extra cost was worthwhile, as I have been grinning at them each time I walk past for four days now. 

This is the wall directly across from this one, and I love how its symmetry is mirrored. No matter how ready I'll be to leave Chicago, it's going to be tough leaving this apartment.

Happy Weekend! I'll be taking it easy and hopefully hosting a game night--our first time having a gathering of friends we've made here in Chicago. What are your plans?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

DIY Grease-Fighting Liquid Dish Soap

After some struggle and playing a little "mad scientist" in the kitchen, I've struck up a pretty, pretty decent alternative to store-bought dish soap. Here's a little somethin'-somethin' for you to read about major brands is dish soap. There are many somethin'-somethin's on this subject for you to find out there, so this is just a jumping off point. 

 This recipe is natural, but please remember that natural does not mean that it's something you should eat or drink. If you're going to do a full load of dishes with this stuff by hand, be sure to wear some gloves to protect those lovely paws from drying out.

I already had all of these ingredients on hand (you will too, once you begin exploring the world of natural housekeeping), so it was unbelievably convenient to make. More convenient, in fact, than actually going to the store to buy more dish soap. The total cost of the soap breaks down to approximately $2.50, which is less than leading natural dish soap brands that I've found to be much less effective at cutting grease.

3 cups water
1 cup Castile soap (Dr Bronner's is my preferred. The peppermint is what we always have on hand, but unscented would probably be ideal)
3 TBS Super Washing Soda (Found in most laundry aisles)
2 TBS Baking Soda
3 TBS White vinegar
10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil *optional (I chose tea tree, but lavender, lemon, and eucalyptus are great choices as well)

1. Mix the water, castile soap, washing soda, and baking soda together in a non-reactive pot. On your stove, gently heat the mixture over medium-low flame. Whisk until the washing soda has completely dissolved.
2. Remove from heat and add the vinegar and essential oil. Mine did not bubble over, so I assume anyone who tries this method should be safe. If your kitchen turns into a middle school science lab, I apologize.
3. Allow your soap to cool and then transfer to your favorite liquid soap vessel. I always make sure to label my concoctions clearly, as well as mark their containers with the recipe for easy future reference.

Please note that this soap will not do much in the way of sudsing, but it WILL get the job done. As consumers we've been convinced that something isn't getting cleaned unless we see some bubbles, but often suds are the result of drying, harmful chemicals--totally artificial to most cleaning processes. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An Eccentric and a Flake

Lately there's been a great deal of consideration done on my part towards my next steps in life and the future far ahead. My "now" and my future look much different than many of my peers', as I am sure many of my dear readers understand and can relate. Make no mistake, I  am not feeling down, simply reflecting, considering, deciding, and preparing. 

Street art on Randolph Street in Chicago. The piece on the left is made from reclaimed home trimmings.

"Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. 
In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy 
doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only 
understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes 
an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities 
is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth. You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them."

-Bill Watterson

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Back in Iowa, I had the pleasure of not only making exceptional espresso at the city's favorite coffee shop, but also keeping up the chalk boards. The menus are done exclusively by hand, and I updated some of them weekly.

Being barista and chalk-wielder are two things I miss dearly, so I was thrilled when offered the old menu board from Jake's Chicago coffee shop. It may not be a job any longer, but I will certainly keep it as a hobby.

Make no mistake, this board is the size of my car--almost four feet tall and 7 to 8 feet wide--which made it difficult to get home. It looked a lot like this, but much less stable. Now that it's home safely, it will be the perfect thing to fill up our bare wall in the entryway and offer greetings and art space for our guests. My first-ever chalk board greeting was for birthday kids Josh and Jessica, who were to spend their birthday weekend with us here in Chicago until the snow ruined our plans.

Eventually it will be hung, but the whole hallway is full of "eventuallys." Eventually, we'll put up a couple more coats of orange paint to hide the blue underneath and touch up the white trim. Eventually, we'll either pull up the hideous carpet or get a decent rug. Eventually, we'll put a privacy curtain over the front door. 

Here's a peak at the other side of the wall, in all of its undone glory: