Tag Archives: Heirloom

Taken By Surprise


I realized in January that my mother was to have a special birthday this February.

She was turning … ?5.

I quickly got to work and organized a surprise party! For invitations I designed a very simple, clean postcard. I love drawing type by hand – I think it added a warm, personal touch to the invitation. Being in Chicago, I wanted to find a local, independent printer that I could work with to achieve the best result for the postcard. The people at HD Design & Printing were fantastic to work with – I was able to make an appointment, talk to them about the result I wanted and look at papers. They were able to turn this small job out in a matter of days.




Next task was to start planning the decorations. My go-to books at home are Paper + Craft by Minhee & Truman Cho and Handmade Weddings by Eunice Moyle, Sabrina Moyle, and Shana Faust (I find that at least 80% of this book translates to Handmade Events, not just weddings!). My apartment has a strong white base with a heavy dose of natural lighting – it’s the perfect neutral setting to easily transform. When choosing materials, I stuck with a palette of white and gold using subtle pops of pink and black.




The cone wreath came from a project in Paper + Craft. I chose a variety of neutral metallic papers to construct this decoration. In the dining room, I used two long strings of lights to run back and forth across the ceiling which created a party tent-like effect. From Handmade Weddings, I took inspiration from the Cupcake Liner Pom-Poms using both metallic gold and a black patterned liners. I also used coffee filters to create some contrast in size. In the dining room, I had different stations which I denoted with floating signs. I created these by cutting letters out of glitter paper. I then used blue tape to secure the letters to metal wire I hung from the strings of lights.


4_Deserts 5_counter


As for refreshments, I kept things classy and simple by serving coffee, a variety of teas, a blackberry lemonade champagne punch and  an assortment of both savory and sweet finger foods – no forks! To serve food and drinks, I used a mismatched system based on the white and gold palette. The outcome was subtle, but still very fun and eclectic.




What worked in perfectly was a set of china I inherited from my grandmother. I was both ecstatic and terrified to use this thin, fragile set of Bavarian china for the first time. While being acquired a number of generations back on my mother’s side, it has a delightful Art Deco feel to it – it’s simple with just a thin band of a geometric plant pattern on the edges, outlined in gold (of course). However, I figured that if I were ever going to use it – this was the right age group to give it a go!




For a more original decoration, I went back to the original branding I had created for the invitation. I blew up the “?5” I had drawn and printed these 2′ elements as an engineering plot at Staples for about $4. I used a large piece of cardboard and cut these pieces out with a larger exacto knife. After these were cut, I carefully wrapped the pieces in crepe paper – carefully taping the strands in back and pulling the corners over the curves. I then took them outside and lightly spray painted them gold. I then took the “Sally turns”  hand-drawn elements, blew them up, printed them out and cut them out of black glitter paper. I placed all these elements in a similar position to the invitation and it became a beautiful wall decoration.




Last, but not least, I made the birthday girl a pin to wear. I used the Felt Bud project from Handmade Weddings. Instead of making boutonnieres, I glued the buds and leaves to a pin back.




When the hour finally arrived and I coaxed my mother upstairs, nothing beat the look of astonishment on her face when her close friends and family yelled “Surprise!”





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Apartment Apparatus :: The YARNerator

Today we dive into a new segment: Apartment Apparatus.

With my move back to the MidWest, I was finally able to get my first, very own solo apartment. What this really means is I was able to acquire more shtuff.

Don’t misunderstand – I loved living in Brooklyn. What sometimes impeded my love … was roommates. My last two years in NY, I lived in a loft with three dudes. Yes, I was the New Girl of the Bushwick J Train. While each roommate was great in their own way, there came a time when I needed my own space [and kitchen].

Much fun was, and still is, had mixing what I already had in NY, some new (/thrift) pieces, and much loved heirlooms from my grandmother. For my first Apartment Apparatus post, I am going to highlight the Yarnerator.


My grandparents built their home in Western Springs, IL in 1950. When it came time to sell in 2012, my mother had the fortune of sifting through decades upon decades of treasure. Being that my mother had a full house, I was able pick and choose some of my favorite pieces for myself. For the last decade or so, one of my favorite pieces in my grandmother’s house was her 1950 GE refrigerator. I had to have it.


This special refrigerator was running until the very last day. The freezer was a tiny box within the fridge and was a constant cube of ice. Both my parents pleaded with me to let it go, but I promised to un-friend them if they threw it out. It was saved in a storage unit among other treasures awaiting my return.

This September, I spent about two week scrubbing this beauty for I wasn’t going to run it, but store my precious yarn within it. Inside I used every kind of cleaner available, including bleach. Of course, as I was to store luxury fibers inside, I made sure to use the heaviest cleaners first and taper off in strength down to a water rinse so that nothing would harm my yarns. I soaked all removable parts in OxiClean which worked wonders.

As for the exterior, it had yellowed with age. As a shot in the dark, I bought a cleaner called “Bar Keepers Friend.” With some scrubbing power, the yellow seemed to magically melt away.


Now this beauty sits in my living room – keeping people on their toes. This is the perfect solution for me. Not only is it a piece of family history and a retro industrial design gem, but it helps me keep my enticing yarn away from my crazy cats!

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Dipped to Perfection

baker_bSome of my friends have noted that my personal style (both in home and fashion) is sometimes stuck in the 1950s / 60s. This is not because of trend or simply a love of vintage – it’s an immersion in family history.

I grew up 1.7 miles from my grandmother’s home. They built the house in 1950 (ish) and Grandma never EVER threw anything away. Each nook and cranny of that house was a treasure trove. Last year, I found boxes jam-packed full of all the greeting cards her family had ever received.

Most of my [vintage] collection comes from this house – including the silver, Cat Eye glasses I often wear. They were originally worn by my great-grandmother.

One of my favorite treasures is the KitchenAid Mixer. Growing up, whenever we baked anything, we always used Grandma’s mixer (from the 1970s … or earlier). It now lives with me here in Brooklyn. I still use it for any and all mixing needs and it runs like a dream!


One of the most frequent recipes to run through the mixer are Babycakes Gluten-Free, Vegan, Baked Donuts. BELIEVE me when I say, these are some of the MOST delicious desserts. Flavors from coconut oil & unsweetened applesauce give these baked treats the perfect taste. By baking (and not frying) these donuts, the results achieve an almost crunchy outside and a wonderfully cakey inside. I highly recommend both of Babycakes’ books in both content and design!


They dip perfectly in chocolate!

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