May 2015 – A Little Leopard
May 2015 – A Little Leopard

May 2015 – A Little Leopard

Springtime in Chicago is the best. You’ve got the anticipation of a whole Chicago summer ahead of you, and every warm day feels like the greatest thing ever after surviving winter. Here are a few snaps celebrating all things spring and renewal lately…

So, there’s an awesome French creperie and bistro hiding away in Lakeview – apparently the oldest creperie in Chicago. The patio was absolute perfection.

Taking the Metra back to the ‘burbs requires a stop at the French Market for flowers and Le Pain Quotidien for some tasty cold-brew coffee.

Getting silly on Red Nose Day to support a great cause and our clients at work.

Rooftop season has arrived and I can’t think of a better place to kick it off than J.Parker. “The In Crowd”? I’ll take two, please.

The John Hancock got a fancy new lobby, so now I get to walk past this every day. Not too shabby, eh? 

For more snaps (springy and otherwise!) be sure to follow along on Instagram…and leave yours in the comments below!

Today I thought I’d do a different kind of Wednesday Wishlist and share my recent purchases – all of which are currently either on sale or less than $30! I’m one of those people who rarely buys things full price, partly on principle and partly out of necessity.

Lately I’ve been picking things up both for my closet and my apartment. Most of them are things I’ve been looking for in some form or another, but a couple of impulse buys snuck in there as well…

  1. H&M Multistrand Necklace – I love the look of a layered necklace and have been lusting after BaubleBar’s “Pick Your Pendant” deal. This achieves the same look and was only $10. Kind of an impulse buy, but an accessory I’ve had my eye on, too. Although I’d still totally love to order a pendant set, as well. You can never have too many delicate necklaces, in my opinion.
  2. CB2 Gold Pig Bookends – These were a total impulse purchase. I don’t know who buys pig bookends on impulse, but my Kallax/Expedit TV stand is a lot happier now. Still looking for a way to hide the mess of cable cords behind it, though…
  3. Target Threshold Button Tufted Ottoman – Currently using two of these as a coffee table, and looking for a cute tray to style them up. (This World Market one looks like a good contender!) Plus, they’re perfect for additional seating when I have people over.
  4. Banana Republic Cricket Sweater – I was so excited to find an affordable version of the Rag & Bone Talia sweater that’s been all over blogs and Pinterest for the past year. I’m not a super-huge fan of the styling Banana did; the sweater looks much better worn on its own, instead of layered over a button-up. Bonus: the price has gone down since I initially purchased it!
  5. Banana Republic Faux Leather-Front Leggings – I’ve been looking for leather leggings for awhile now, and found these in the sale section of my local Banana Republic. They were a serious steal in the store, but luckily are currently 50% off online as well! They are pretty stiff at first, but stretch like most leggings, so I do not recommend sizing up.
  6. Target Sam & Libby Gladiator Sandals – I’ve been slightly obsessed with these sandals for a few weeks now, partially because they look a bit like Loeffler Randall. In fact, Sam & Libby has lots of amazing high-end looking items, like these slides (also on my list!)

As someone who lives in a teeny tiny space (less than 300 square feet, I think?), Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool Contest is basically my bible. Readers are annually invited to submit their spaces to the contest, which is divided into categories: teeny-tiny (under 400 sq ft), tiny (401-600 sq ft), little (601-800 sq ft), small (800-1,000 sq ft) and international.

Apartment Therapy members can then vote for their favorites, with winners ultimately decided in each category plus one grand prize winner overall. Submissions closed on Monday, so voting is now open!

I always love Small Cool because it’s a great source of ideas and inspiration, and proof that you don’t need thousands of square feet to create a livable, comfortable space. Below are a few of my favorite entries from this year’s contest:

Amanda’s Scandinavian Neutrals: Favorite favorite favorite, AND it’s in Chicago! Love her color palette and oh, I am jealous of the bones and light in this apartment. I would so totally move into this place as-is, were that an option.

Julie’s Teeny Abode: That statement rug! Love. Plus, it really ties the whole place together. That kitchen butcher block is a great multipurpose piece, too.

Matthew’s Printing Press: For one thing, I am a sucker for exposed brick. I love the way Matthew mixes a more classic style (Chesterfield-style sofa, monogram bedding) with the industrial loft.

Nicole & Tyler’s First Home Together: Another statement rug! I think this home does a great job of balancing masculine and feminine styles while showing the personality of the couple.

Stacey’s Sunny Studio: Love her use of neutrals, earth tones and especially the couch-as-divider! It’s a move I haven’t seen before in studios and frankly, I think it’s genius.

It’s Wednesday – we are halfway through the week! Whether you’re feeling ready to take it all on or exhausted, here are a few quotes that will help you power through the day.

Personally, I’m falling much more on the “exhausted” side of things thanks to last night’s Blackhawks game – the longest in franchise history. Guys, I’m serious when I say nothing is more important than playoff hockey.

So brew some coffee, get inspired and get pumped for the rest of the week with these quotes (+ more on Pinterest!):






For part one of this post, click here.

You’re on your way to mastering iPhotography, so now comes the fun part… editing and sharing.

Back in the day, editing extensively outside of Instagram was kind of a weird thing, whereas I feel like now it’s pretty widely accepted. Instagram has really stepped up its in-app editing tools lately, but I still tend to do most of my editing in an outside app.

My favorite apps for editing:

  • PicTapGo has been my go-to editing app lately. Once you get the hang of it, it’s super easy to use and adjust your photos for whatever look or style you desire. You can layer filters within the app, adjust as desired and even save “recipes” for combinations you use the most often. I rarely pay for apps but this one was so worth it ($1.99 in the App Store).
  • VSCOCam is probably the best free photo editing app out there. You can shoot within the app with advanced camera features, if you’re so inclined, and then edit with simple yet powerful tools and filters.
  • If you’re a fan of filters, Afterlight has about a million of them (okay, 74) to get whatever look you desire. The app also has frames and wallpapers if you’d like to get a little more artistic or collage-y with your Instagrams.

Whatever your Instagram style, keep it simple with editing. Over-editing, including crazy frames and overlays, can take away from the message of the photo and story you are trying to tell.

Now…share your photo with the world!

And by the world, I mean Instagram. How can you get as many eyeballs on your photo as possible? Hashtags.

When I joined Instagram, I stubbornly resisted hashtags. I thought they were spammy and annoying and I definitely had an “If I build it, they will come” mentality when it came to sharing my photos. That’s so not the case. Instagram is a community, and much of that community is organized around hashtags.

I like to share hashtag in a comment below the caption, so if there are more comments the hashtags get “hidden,” so to speak. Try to be judicious with how many hashtags you use, and definitely only use ones that actually relate to the photo. Some of my favorite hashtags to use and follow are:

  • #flashesofdelight, The Glitter Guide’s hashtag which they search and repost photos from often – a great way to gain followers if yours is reposted!
  • #coffeenclothes is exactly what it sounds like – photos of coffee and clothes. If you drink and photograph as much coffee as I do, it’s a fun one to check out.
  • #abmlifeiscolorful, #abmspring, and any of the hashtags started by the A Beautiful Mess girls.
  • See if there are any local hashtags for your city, like #mychicagopix and #chicagolife.
  • It’s also a good idea to tag and hashtag any brands in the photo – one of my most-liked photos was shared by Anthropologie after I tagged them in it!

While I don’t have that many followers (yet!), my likes per photo have gone up significantly since I started hashtagging photos.

Follow brands and other Instagrammers you like to see what hashtags they’re using, too. And, of course, remember Instagram is a social networking site, so like and comment on photos and you’ll find people return the favor! (Shameless plug, feel free to follow me here!)

Who are some of your favorite Instagrammers? Do you have any tips and tricks for becoming an Instagram rockstar?