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gone apartment hunting

March 6, 2015

let's go apartment hunting!Happy friggin Friday, all!

This week has been insane. So much busyness. So much drama. So many life decisions. I’ve never been happier it’s almost the weekend…

In case you’re wondering what all that vagueness is about (and if the title of this post didn’t give it away)…Ryan and I are apartment hunting! Woohoo!

This will be our second official apartment together. The one we are currently at is gorgeous with seriously insane views, but it’s not ours. It’s a family friend’s. So we pay rent, but a lot of their items are physically there. And sometimes they come and stay in the adjoining room, which we agreed to, but can feel…weird. It just doesn’t feel like our own home. Plus, we’ve been there for two years now. So, while we are extremely grateful for their generosity, it’s time to literally move on.

That said, we think we might have already landed a place here in Chicago! We’ve been apartment hunting for about a month, which (we’ve discovered) is quite different than apartment hunting in Southern California. But between both experiences, we’ve become pretty darn good at the whole process. So, I thought I’d share a few tips that have come in handy when making such a major life decision.

1. Make a list of your most important, can’t-live-without-it needs.

For Ryan and I, we can’t live without storage. When you combine our wardrobes, it’s pretty intense. That, along with our hobbies (DJing for him, painting for me) and our day-to-day needs (Ryan works from home and I love working at a desk), we’re talking some serious storage requirements. We also needed an apartment that was dog-friendly (just in case), had wood floors and was close to things (like a grocery store).

2. Know what you’re willing to give up.

Nothing is ever perfect. You’re going to have to know what you’re okay giving up. For us, that was layout. We can live with built-in cabinets above our bed, if it means more storage. We can live with a galley kitchen, if it’s updated and still open enough to move around in. So think, what are you okay with giving up? Do you need gas/electric included, but you’d be fine paying for internet? Know what you can do without.

3. Know what to ask.

It’s important to make sure your basics are covered. Like, if an appliance breaks, who do you call and how long does it take to fix it? Can you nail things into the wall or hang a TV? What’s included in rent? Do you have to pay extra on anything? Do you have to put a security deposit down and how do you get it back when you leave? How safe is the area? Do people buzz in or are there keys? A door man? What’s a rough age group of the people living in the building (sometimes they can’t say, so just ask for a rough range to get a good of how rowdy or quiet the place will be)?

4. Look beyond the apartment.

While touring, look around. What do the other tenants look like? Is it loud? Quiet? Are the hallways clean? Does anything look broken, rusted or old? Get a good idea of the area you’re dealing with and how well the place is managed.

5. Take pictures.

Pictures on Zillow, or wherever else you’re looking, usually use a wide-angle lens to make rooms and apartments appear bigger. It’s important to take your own phone or camera along for the ride, and take pictures of every single thing you feel is important–closets, kitchen, rooms, windows, views etc. It will help you remember the place once you’ve left, and give you a good idea of how big the space is in reality.

6. Make an immediate pros/cons list after visiting.

If you’re touring more than two apartments, you’re going to quickly forget what you liked and disliked about each one. Once you leave the potential apartment, immediately write down your takeaways: what you liked, what you didn’t like, how it looked, what it felt like, etc.

7. Get organized.

Between the pros/cons list, the photos, the general facts and price points of each, it’s important to stay organized. If you do take pictures, make sure you label them in your phone. Or upload them to your computer and keep each apartment unit in a separate folder. However you do it, make sure you don’t mix up listings or information (or you could end up loving the wrong space!).

8. Do some research.

A building may have all the bells and whistles you’ve ever wanted, but then you do a quick Google search and discover it’s managed by a company who’s under investigation or known for shady financial dealings. There’s so much information readily available, it’s important you don’t just fall for a place without taking a deeper look into the people you’re writing that check to every month.

9. Know the area.

With all this said, these tips will vary depending on where you’re hunting. In Southern California, Ryan and I toured over 15 apartments, never concerned about timeline because there wasn’t a huge demand. Here in Chicago, we fell in love with two different apartments online. Booked times to visit. And by the end of the day, both had already been rented out. Know the area and adjust your timeline/decision-making accordingly.

10. Really read the contract (or have someone run through it with you).

Before signing on the dotted line, take a second to read through what you’re agreeing to. If you have any questions, ask a realtor, the person who’s handing you the contract or even a close family member. We had a 30 day kick out clause with the place we’re going after right now, but once we told the agent we wouldn’t move in because of it, the owner got rid of it. There’s always room for a little negotiation (or room to back out), if you’re willing to discuss and look into the details.

BONUS tip: Trust your gut.

Ryan and I always discuss the vibe we get from the places we tour (I’m lucky that most times, Ryan and I both get a good vibe from the same places). “The feel” of a place means more to me than almost anything because I trust that intuition above all else. You can usually feel when you’re home.

Hope they tips helped, if you’re on the apartment prowl like us!

I’ll keep you updated on whether we get the place or not. And trust me, if we do, there will be plenty of photos and DIYs to follow.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Home Life Relax

etsy items I’m loving

February 7, 2015

etsy finds for february

 card // sign // garland // mice // chocolate bark // wallet card

It’s probably the most important Etsy round-up of the year: Valentine’s Month Day.

I struggled this year with figuring out what to do for Ry. Why are men so hard to shop for? Especially sentimental things that they will actually use.

In the past, I broke into Ry’s old apartment, decorated and made him homemade cupcakes that spelled out “Happy V-Day.” I’ve also made him a blanket…though that might have been a Christmas gift. And I’ve made him a scrapbook. Basically, I can’t think of what else to make the kid, so this year, I had to take a different approach. AKA I bought something, ha. But who wouldn’t when all these awesome things are on Etsy?

What are you planning on picking up for your partner / significant other / girlfriend / boyfriend this year?

Create DIY Home

don’t worry, stay cozy: DIY super-warm-and-cozy knit blanket

December 19, 2014

DIY giant chunky knit blanketEver since I saw this giant, soft blanket in a Free People, I knew I needed one in my life. Then I peeped the price: $998. Ya, um, no thanks. I can’t spend A GRAND on a blanket.

So even though this little project took a bit of effort, the 10ish hours of work and supplies still cost less than throwing down a couple hundred for a glorified sheet.

DIY giant chunky knit blanketNow I am not the best knitter. In fact, I basically knit once a year, if that. So while this blanket has it’s imperfections (all of which I embraced), I want you to know that you too can knit this giganto blanket with just a little arm muscle, some time and patience.

DIY giant chunky knit blanket

Throughout this project I had my knitting-wiz little sister help guide me. Yes, somehow I still managed to randomly add two stitches mid-knit, but whatever. She was there to help get me back on track. If you don’t have a wonderful knitting-wiz little sis or other helpful family member, this video can help you get started.

To make it easier on me and my lack-of-experience, I also went with a straight up knitted blanket, as opposed to a knit/pearl blanket, which has a sweater-looking pattern to it. If knit/pearl is more your jam, here’s a free pattern that you can use! You can also purchase a pattern on etsy, but I was trying to spend as little money on this project as possible, since I didn’t trust myself to produce an immaculate blanket.

DIY giant chunky knit blanket

Okay, now for doing the damn thing. I will say I followed this post which helped a ton. But I’ll break it down in my own way too, adding a few pointers I found helpful and you can decide what works best for you!

DIY giant chunky knit blanketDIY giant chunky knit blanket

1. Buy 7 pounds of your wool roving. I got it from here, cuz I heart local farms and artisans. The seller will make a custom listing for you, if you request one. Total comes out to about $115 or so, after all is said and done.

2.Once you get your wool roving, start tightly rolling it up in a bed sheet. This will help separate the strands. Use rubber bands (not the hemp I used, which will deteriorate in water–learn from me!) to secure the giant sausage-like wraps you will create.

DIY giant chunky knit blanket

3. Throw the “sausages” into a bathtub filled with extremely hot water. Pour a little detergent into the tub, put on your rain boots and get to squishing your sausages around (you’re basically a giant washing machine at this point). Do this for about 10 minutes, or until you are just entirely too exhausted to go on.

4. Rinse everything out. I did this by refilling up the tub, running the water directly over the sausages and continuing to stomp. I also threw them in the actual washing machine at one point to help better wring out some of the water. You can do this, but check to make sure your washing machine can handle it since this is quite a bit of heavy, wet fabric to deal with.

5. Once the roving has been rinsed out to the best of your abilities, lay out a plastic sheet (I used trash bags) and being unraveling your sausages to reveal the wool. Take your tightened wool strand and lay them out to dry overnight.

DIY giant chunky knit blanket

6. In the morning the strands should be dry. Now it’s time to wrap them up into giant balls! Split the entire strand in half, vertically, and from those two halves, create two giant balls!

DIY giant chunky knit blanket

7. Enlist your favorite male figure to get you two 1-1.5 inch, 5 ft tall PVC piping. Once you get your hands on two of those babies, use duct tape (or your creativity) to fashion a point on the tip of each pipe. These bad boys are going to be your needles!

8. Now it’s time to start knitting! Like I said, I took it easy on myself and just knit, instead of doing a knit pearl situation, but it’s your call.

9. Note: Your arms are probably going to get tired knitting this blanket. It’s very heavy and large. I stood up the entire time I was knitting it, and did it over the course of a few days to give my shoulders a break. That being said, if you want to skip your weekend workout and sub this DIY project–something tells me it would not mess up your fitness regimen. It’s definitely not for the light of heart (or anyone who has arthritis).

10. But once it’s done, isn’t it so gorgeous! Oh, and it’s extremely warm. Ha! Take that Midwest Winters!

DIY giant chunky knit blanket DIY giant chunky knit blanket

Also, in other news…


You won the TOMS giveaway!

Thank you to everyone who participated.

No matter where this weekend takes you–boozy holiday parties or curled up in front of the fire–I hope you have a good one. See you Monday!

Home Relax

etsy items i’m loving (holiday edition!)

December 17, 2014

december etsy faves |

planner // wreath // succulent ornament // card // candle // 2015 // bath oil // blanket

Christmas Eve is in one week people! One week! Anyone else jumping for joy? No? Party of one, then?

I keep seeing a lot of gift guides around the blogosphere, and even though I love them and pin them and find them useful, I think we are running out of time on the gift-buying-for-others front. That’s why I wanted to do this end of the year/relaxing round-up! Perfect for a cozy, post-Christmas night or gearing up for a New Year’s party.

What are you all buying from Etsy this season?

Oh and don’t forget, today is the last day to enter the TOMS giveaway! I’ll be announcing the winner on Friday!

Create DIY Home

the fastest and thriftiest way to decorate for Thanksgiving Day

November 26, 2014

thrifty thanksgiving day decor

Sorry this is a bit late and these photos are smaller than usual, but I shared this DIY decor last year on my old blog. Then that blog got deleted, so…I thought I’d re-share on here! Still relevant, especially when I’m posting this a day before Thanksgiving–when you’d probably need to decorate in an uber thrifty way.

I’ll say this decor is quick. And very rustic, which is what I was going for.

I was tasked with making two tables looking presentable THE DAY OF Thanksgiving. Amidst all the other commotion. We had two tables and limited cloths that would cover both of them. So this is what I did:

I made table mats out of leftover brown paper bags. Usually you’d get these from the grocery store, which is perfect since you are probably running there to get food. Essentially, I tried to tear them apart at the seams and cut out the main, most in tact rectangle. Pretty simple.

thrifty thanksgiving day decor thrifty thanksgiving day decorLucky for us, we had some perfect rustic-looking plates that really added to the “theme.”

For the other table, we only had an orange table cloth available, which wouldn’t even cover the entirety of the table. So I placed it in the middle, to add a bit of color (and, really, try to protect the surface). I then threw some different sized mason jars, with tea lights in them, on top of the plastic cloth. Add a bit of ambiance, you know.

Finally, we had some flowers and a pumpkin leftover from…something. I pray to Yeezus it wasn’t from Halloween.

Anyway, I started by painting the pumpkin white, using acrylic paint (can’t have an orange pumpkin on an orange table cloth!). Next, I snatched a small plastic bucket, traced the rim on the pumpkin using a pencil, and cut out that middle. I then secured the plastic bucket into the pumpkin, to act as a durable vase, and placed the flowers inside. I cut the stems at different lengths to help conceal any plastic poking out.

thrifty thanksgiving day decor thrifty thanksgiving day decorThe other table was considerably larger. Luckily, we had a nice white table cloth, but no nice centerpiece.

Living in the woods, my parents have tons of leftover wood–from building projects or fallen trees. I went downstairs in my dad’s “tool area” and dug around until I found this almost driftwood-like log. It was beat up. I wanted to use it, but didn’t want the dirty part on my mom’s white cloth. My only quick solution was to use Mod Podge to paint the underside of the wood and glue on a brown paper bag, that was cut to size. I also used Mod Podge on the borders, to help contain any other fragments.

thrifty thanksgiving day decorNow, this part, I will say, you have to have a table saw and drill. If you don’t, I’m sure there are plenty of other less-fancy ways you could do this. Maybe just place tea lights on your piece of wood. Still, pretty cool looking! But, I took it one step further.

We had tiny log pieces lying around the yard from a fallen tree earlier that year. I had my dad cut them to various sizes and use 1.5″ spade bit to drill a tea-light sized hole in each little wood stump. I then secured the tea light and arranged all the pieces of wood in what, I believe, was an appealing way. And boom! Rustic centerpiece.

thrifty thanksgiving day decorThis whole thing worked out so well, I believe we kept the wooden centerpiece to use again this year. We will see! I was very impressed with how it all came out. Especially considering I had a few hours to pull it all together.

What do you think? How are you decorating this year?



Home Relax

Etsy items I’m loving this month

November 14, 2014

perfect etsy items for Novemberbowl // pillow // wreath // banner // candle // garland // necklace // print

Happy Friday everyone! We made it through another week. I’m not sure if that’s the best way to look at it, but whatever. It’s how this week has been.

I wanted to share a few of my fave finds on Etsy recently. I’m really excited about Thanksgiving this year because Ryan’s parents and my family are coming together for the day. Maybe that’s why I’m lovin’ this decor so much.

I’m headed Up North with Ryan this weekend for some much-needed relaxing at my parents place. Plan on knocking out a few posts, making an Ulta run (my makeup bag is in need of a serious makeover – anyone have any suggestions?) and just hanging out by the fire.

Whatever your plans are this weekend, stay warm!

Home Relax

october etsy treats

October 17, 2014

Ryan and I are in the process of getting our lives situated. I suppose planning a wedding,  getting married and going abroad for 2 weeks will do that to you.

Currently, the place we live in, while I’m grateful for (the views are especially nice), is not my dream apartment. And a lot of our wedding gifts are still at my parents’ home (I’m sure many newlyweds can commiserate). And this has me going crazy! Nothing is organized. Nothing has a home. And worst, it doesn’t feel like our home, you know?

The design bug has bitten me hard, again, and my mind is just in the pillowy clouds. Of course, this gets especially bad around the holidays, when all I want to do is outfit our place with a seasonal color palette and quirky decor. Blah.

I clearly needed some place to put all this unused, pent-up energy. And I think the perfect place is on this blog, in a new feature I’d like to call “etsy treats.” Or, basically, all the beautiful, handcrafted items I’m lusting after on etsy ::

october etsy findszombie sign //garland // paper pulp lanterns // typography card //skull planter // silver skull necklace //black cat jewelry dish

Thanks for letting me share with you guys. I just wants all the Etsy things!

Have a wonderful, fall weekend my loves!