Thursday, March 31, 2011

ZOMG New painting by Michelle Armas

You make me happy, when skies are grey.... (Ecco)

Peeping Toms

Ok. So I admit it. I rock out in my living room. I'm sure I look totally rad doing it, too. I put on my high school track shorts (so I feel athletic), my pink shox, a hipster t-shirt, and I put my hair up in a scrunchy. Yes, I still own those (I only wear them inside the house, duh). I turn up the volume to some CeeLo, Black Eyed Peas, or whatever; and I dance like a crazy person for cardio. That's what Tracy Anderson tells me to do for cardio, and well, have you seen her? Listen, I listen. Ok, here's what happened...

So, last Fall we renovated the front of the house.

See here:

and here:

Ok, now that we are all on the same page, as I was saying, last Fall we renovated the front of the house. Before doing so, I had natural woven blinds on the windows. However, when we renovated, we changed out the windows, and the dimensions changed. So, the blinds we had, were not going to work.

We finished back in November and for months, being design ADD as I am sometimes, I couldn't decide what I wanted for window treatments. But I continued to rock out in my living room several nights a week, until, I think February. One evening, a lady came and knocked on my door. "Do you know that EVERYONE can see you dancing through your windows?" I mean obviously, I knew. But until she knocked on my door, and told me, I hadn't cared! I couldn't made a decision about window treatments and had decided to ignore the issue, that was until she knocked.

So, I went to "the google" to find a budget-friendly and pretty option for my windows. I heard JCPenney was having a window treatment sale. We decided to check it out. After pricing out different options, we settled on the Savannah III Roman Shades, which are custom, in "white."

JCPenney Savannah III Roman Shades

Considering I have seen non-custom roman shades for 40-50 bones each, these were a steal at 60 something each. Plus, since they are custom that means they are not too long for my windows and don't bunch up at the bottom.

I also like that they are simple. My sunroom is not large, at all, and I didn't want anything that would crowd the space and make it seem smaller.

So anyway, a couple of weeks later, the custom shades arrived, the install was easy (according to my husband), and she rocked out happily ever after.

MLS pics of our home way back when

So when we first bought the house, we immediately started to strip it down. We realized, only after we had torn out all the fun stuff like faux wood paneling, that we took no REAL "before" pictures. We wanted pictures of this beast in its natural state. "The Unbungalowed Bungalow" as I called it.

Afterall, the POs had done away with everything that made a bungalow charming... A fireplace ? Who wants that? Beamed dining room ceiling? pfft.... A front porch? For what? Built ins? please.... They were all gone. :( By the time we got ahold of her she had been pillaged.

Many doors were completely warped and/or had layers and layers of paint on them finished off with another layer of varnish!? Also, in each room, there were typically 3 different styles of baseboard all within one room in EACH room. And let me not even get started on the terrazzo. Like I've said, no one, but no one has more terrazzo than us except for maybe the pope.

So yeah, one room or area of the house at a time, we have put in new wood floors, new windows, new doors, new trim, baseboards, new electrical, new plumbing, sister joisted the second floor of our house to make sure our master bedroom didn't fall into the living room, created new closets, and replaced the stairs! It's taking a while, but we keep chucking along, but we still have TONS to do.

Anyway, getting back to the pics... We asked the seller's realtor, but she no longer had the pictures. We settled for pictures we took shortly after we began this charade, which I shared with you here They were close enough to the onset of insanity.

A week ago, I decided to google our address, and lo and behold, the listing appeared. It was as if God was speaking directly to me, "Ayleen, seriously, what were you thinking?" Well, gee I don't know. Obviously I wasn't like, "oh we can just paint, buy some art, maybe buy some flowers, put junk on trays and voila!" I mean. Look. We had this romantic idea that we would gut one room at a time, weekend warriors, if you will, and make this thing our own. Except this thing was a wild animal. We had no idea what really lurked behind that front door. She was a whole other kiiiiind of crazy.

In any event, I am happy I found these pics online. Sometimes, I am so desperate to finish Casa Lobo and get down to the fun details, that I lose sight of how far we've come.

We've been BUSY. Obviamente.

Below is the living room with the sunroom attached to it. We think that sunroom used to be part of the front porch.

Below is the dining room, which is straight off the living room. Do you see that wall o' shelves that separates the dining room and the kitchen? I call it "the monster." I think I mentioned there were shadowboxes in there as well as random spindles.

Here is the kitchen. You see the sink? Above the sink was "the monster." I had to duck to find the right square to look through to be able to have a conversation with anyone in the dining room. Sexy.

Below is another bedroom, which is the now playroom. They removed the closet from this room in order to add a second set of stairs to get to the upstairs. Apparently, for fire safety reasons, you need two exits from a second floor where there is a kitchen on said second floor. This is apparently code. This was the part of the code they decided to stick with. And so, a bedroom lost a closet. Brilliant.

This was another bedroom. In fact, This bedroom had two doors. Porque? No idea. Notice how the door frame and window frame touch. "Rill" good carpentry work right there.

Below we are starting to look at the second floor. This room was aptly named Gitmo. The saddest bedroom in all the land. This is now my oldest son's bedroom. Don't worry. We are good people. We gussied it up for him. I will show you pics soon.

The Packers' kitchen, which was on the second floor.

This room is now my youngest son's nursery.

This was the second floor living room. In case I have some readers that aren't up to speed, the previous owners remodeled their attic and turned it into inlaws' quarters, hence why there was a kitchen on the second floor. This is the now master bedroom.

And the back of the house, which to date, has had no work done to it. It looks exactly like in this picture. Actually, I lie. Sadly, it looks worse since we have completely neglected it what with all the other stuff we've had going on. It's on the list.

And this completes today's tour of Casa Lobo, pre-reno. We hope you enjoyed yourselves. Stay tuned! We finally ordered and received the last set of 5 panel doors, and they are in!

Carpenter is coming next week to trim them out.

We are also putting crown moulding and adding back the beams in the dining room ceiling!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Michael Eastman's Photography of Havana

Eastman has established himself as one of the leading and most notable photographers of our time. He has spent 4 decades travelling and documenting diverse exteriors far and wide from New Orleans to Cuba to Paris.

Eastman, however, is most known for his exploration of architectural decay. His monumental prints, which he insists on developing himself, are full of color and unparalleled photographic texture.

Due out in September 2011, Michael Eastman's photos of Cuba that have won international acclaim will be published in a book entitled Havana. I can't wait. Take a look at these images. They send shivers down my spine.

The book designer, Mark Melnick, has started a blog appropriately called The Road to Havana in order to document the process of putting together this soon-to-be work of art, if you care to follow along. I know I will be.
Here is the link:

Upscale BBQ?

Rack of ribs, that is. My husband is dedicated to the respectable and neverending pursuit of outstanding barbecue, especially since having left Florida. Since moving to Chicago, he's sought out many restaurants Chicagoans have claimed to provide "the best" barbecue, only to leave to sorely disappointed. He's said time and again, "Chicago simply doesn't have good barbecue." I am no expert, but I couldn't accept that foodie heaven/award winning restaurant laden Chicago had no "good barbecue." How could that be? I was determined to find, not just good, but fantastic barbecue. Enter Chicago Q.

Called up for some rezzies, and we were in for my husband's 30th. I know what you're thinking. "Wow, how totally rockstar of you. Barbecue for the big 3-0. Totally lame-o." I know most people go out for a night of imbibing with the goal of topping the night of their 21st birthday, but really peeps. I am a respectable, married lady! Ok, not. But really, we have two midgets running Casa Lobo, which brings us much joy, but is also very exhausting, so cut us some slack! Ok back to the barbecue... They started us off with these!

And these!!!

We then had cheddar and bacon hushpuppies, which were outta control.

Then, I ordered a burger with a side of mac and cheese, hubs ordered half a rack of ribs will collard greens. Everything was delish! For drinks, the husband had a beer, and I ordered a Jefferson's presidential select bourbon, neat. I promise, I am not that hard core. I had to dilute it with a dropper full of distilled water that they brought out to me on a silver platter, which brings me to the service and atmosphere of the restaurant.

The creamy paneling and mouldings, barn wood floors, grasscloth wallpaper, streamlined and very Circa lighting light fixtures, the heavy oil rubbed bronze door hardware, everything was perfect. It was all very "barn chic."

Hung throughout the restaurant were photographs of green, bright American countrysides along windy roads. It was charming. The perfect balance of rustic and refined.

The second floor featured two private party areas. One was more loungy with two leather sofas, which were the perfect shade of tan, with low lying tables. The other private party area was in the wine cellar, which might I say, was quite stellar.

Case in point, Chicago Q was not the best barbecue

we've ever had, but it's up there and requires a visit if you're ever in Chicago!!

Motivational Mondays

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Currently Obsessed with...

Robert Allen for Dwell Studio, Snake-Chain fabric in Dove. I would make loooong drapes out of this. It's gorgeous. And of course, sold out. Pooh.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Do you RUE?

If you don't, run, don't walk, over to

Yesterday, they went live with their fourth issue, and it's nothing short of DIVINE!!!
Chicago blogger, Bailey of Peppermint Bliss, had her home featured in this edition. She has an incredible knack for whimsical, updated, traditional style. The wallpaper, oh the wallpaper! I would hang out all day in that bathroom, if wasn't borderline stalkerish and weird. And the brass elephant in her family room is FABULOSO!

Like I said. Go to there. Rue. Right now. I promise you will pass out. In a good way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Needing that wardrobe oomph!

This time of year, as I struggle through the last few weeks of cold weather, I start noticing that I get "wardrobe stuck." What do I mean by that? What I mean is that I reach for the same 2-3 outfits When Spring officially starts, yet it's still cold in Chicago, I feel very uninspired by my cold weather duds after having worn them day in and day out for months and months on end.

So, with that said, as I mentioned yesterday, I can't keep myself from dreaming about warmer times and looking at fun, Spring clothes, especially dresses!! Net-a-porter is my go-to site for wardrobe inspiration.

While I normally skew neutral in my clothing picks, every once in a while, I like to buy a totally bright, not very versatile, "make me feel pretty" day dress! All of these below fit the bill.






Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring has Sprung (and these are a few of my favorite things!)

Ok. So Spring hasn't exactly sprung. Not really. Chicago has been a soggy mess. But still, every now and then, the sullen looking skies turn blue, and I can't help but start dreaming of long, sunny, spring days.

If you know me, you know I normally gravitate to neutrals, even in the Spring. I add color through accessories by adding a completely mismatched purse (like green-I feel it can go with everything and nothing, which is why it works!) or pair of sandals (hello coral espadrilles!). So here are some neutral items that have me sighing for Spring....

Lockwood Hobo, mineral green, JCrew

Celine, Barneys

Button-up Sundress, JCrew

Elephant Ears Maillot, Anthro

Swooping Asymmetry Wedges, Anthro

Breadfruit Bag, Anthro

Motivational Mondays

We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. -George Bernard Shaw

via cake & rock