Have renovation regret? Let West Elm + Snap Kitchen make it better

I wasn’t kidding when I said we’re doing yet another home renovation, but oh man, I wish I was.

Here’s the gist: We eat and feed the baby and watch “The Night Of” and do work projects all while lying in bed, because the rest of our furniture is packed away. A flimsy sheet of plastic separates the only livable room – our former living room – from the clouds of construction dust.

Essentially, we’re living in a studio apartment with our 7 month old and the cat.


And when you have two adults, a baby, a cat, and everyone’s belongings crammed into an 11-by-13-foot room, you try to get out of the house as often as possible. Seriously, we downloaded Pokemon Go and trained the shit out of those critters just to have another excuse to stay outside past Wilder’s bedtime.

So when we got invited to a picnic by West Elm and Snap Kitchen, we obviously jumped at the opportunity. A delicious lunch, gorgeous decor AND a few hours away from our one-room living situation? Thank you, Jesus.

I mean, this is WAY better than our current dining room situation, AKA our living room.

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How dramatic does this grapewood branch look on this wooden dining room table? I can’t imagine it would be that hard to pair it with some green moss or mountain laurel and a few faceted brass lanterns, and VOILA! You now live within the pages of a West Elm catalog.

And can we talk about gold flatware for a moment? I never felt particularly drawn to it, but then I went to this picnic and sat at this table, and now I’m all like, “Should I scour resale shops for some of this stuff, or what?” I liked it a lot, you guys. I felt fancy using it, too.
picnic7 picnic 2

And speaking of things that are beautiful and inspiring and practically life-affirming, check out that plate o’ deliciousness from Snap Kitchen.

You guys! SNAP KITCHEN IS THE SHIT. I’m somewhat ashamed I’d never had it before, especially because there’s a location not far from my office in the Chicago Loop, but oh man. Everything about this plate – the curried chicken salad sandwiches, the Summer Fling salad with coconut chicken, the fresh veggies and hummus and the juices and espresso I didn’t take pictures of because I was too busy chugging them – is totally recommended by yours truly.

So go there. Go there for lunch TODAY. And let me know when so I can meet you there, because it really was that delish. And did I mention it’s healthy, too? BECAUSE IT IS.

picnic 5
Do you guys have any West Elm faves? Or if it’s too close to lunch to think about home decor, what about food faves? I tell ya what, I could eat about 10 things on that Snap Kitchen menu right about now … it’s been that kind of day.

SURPRISE! We’re busting out the sledgehammers (again)

Things have been a little quiet in this little corner of the internet, right? And remember how I said I was going to post a bunch of pictures and updates about our home renovation, but then I never did?

Well, I have a pretty good reason: We’re under construction … again. As it turns out, having a baby means your living space gets taken over by baby stuff, and the lack of closets in your vintage two-flat turns out to be way (WAY) more maddening than you anticipated.

more renovation living room

And so we’re doing something about it. We’re renovating! Like, TOTAL RENOVATION. Goodbye two-flat, hello single-family home.

Details to come, because we’re already back to living out of boxes amid layers and layers of construction dust. I mean, I’m writing this post on my computer atop an actual cardboard box, which – considering I was doing this exact same thing a mere six months ago – does feel a little like home.

Will the renovation ever end? Does this mean we’ll (someday) stop tripping over baby crap in the middle of the night? Will we ever have a real closet again? Stay tuned … and send lots of good juju. It ain’t easy living without a kitchen, especially when it comes to making bottles for a crying baby at 4 a.m., ya dig?

4 - 2nd floor dining

What’s new with you guys these days, hmm?

Looking back on my first Mother’s Day

Maternity leave, which was so snuggly and warm and boring, is over. I’m back at work as a copywriter, meaning I have to shower and get dressed and hope Wilder doesn’t throw up down my shirt in the baby carrier on our mile walk to daycare. But he usually does, which results in a wet bra and a sour smell that lingers unless I take my shirt off in the work bathroom and wash the milk out before it dries.

But once Wilder is cooing happily with his daycare crew and I can confirm whether the wetness in my bra is sweat or puke, I stroll to the Blue Line (this is the most peaceful 10 minutes of my entire day, so I generally try to walk as slowly as possible) and I daydream about the buckets of coffee I’m going to chug the minute I jump off the train.

Starbucks, I love you. Peach & Green, I love you. Burnt-tasting drip coffee in the office, I even love you, too, especially when the day starts at 5 a.m. with a baby who’s discovering that, yes, he has a voice, and yes, it’s loud.

mothers day 3

But when I’m home, hanging out with my family – it still feels weird to say that, even after four months – the pace is much slower. There’s less screen time, more time spent outside exploring our Ukrainian Village neighborhood, more daytime naps and way more time spent in PJs. The Hollie and James who used to love traveling and packing the schedule as full as possible are now homebodies … and we like it.

My first Mother’s Day was laid-back, despite my having a fever and sore throat I likely picked up from some sick daycare kid somewhere in the mix. James had this same sickness the week before, so it’s only fair I had it next. On Mother’s Day.

James gave me the greatest Mother’s Day gift (next to Hamilton tickets, which I got as an early Mom’s Day surprise because I am married to the greatest human on the planet): A morning free of Wilder’s 5 a.m. wakeup. Pure fricking bliss. Seriously, you don’t know how amazing sleep is until it’s gone, and at that point, you’re too delirious to remember life before you became a zombie.

mothers day 1

We did our usual weekend stuff: Walks around the ‘hood in the stroller, lunch to go from the Goddess and Grocer, a picnic in Wicker Park, sunburned shoulders because I forgot what life is like when it’s not freezing cold. It was a really, really good day.

And yeah, we had an overtired meltdown in the park. And yeah, a weird guy told us his life story during our picnic. And yeah, there was baby puke down my shirt. But it was a really perfect first Mother’s Day, and I’m pretty darn happy to be a mom, especially when we’re lucky enough to catch these little moments on camera.

mothers day 2

There’s going to be a day I miss the baby barf. Maybe.

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, whether you have kids in your arms, bellies or hearts. It’s not easy, nor is it clean. But it sure is rewarding.

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