Monday, December 29, 2014

DIY Christmas 2014. Part 1.

Last year, I attempted a DIY Christmas and it proved to be a huge success!! So this year, I tried it again! It was a bit harder than last year but was just as successful!

For Mom + Dad (and my married siblings):

Earlier this year, I did some design work for one of my photographer friends Kristi. (Check out her amazing work at Instead of charging her for my work, we did a trade! I designed her logo, business cards, and website in exchange for a family photo shoot. She did my whole family and my married siblings' small families.

Then I printed the family photos, framed them, and gave them to my siblings.

My Teenage Sisters:

I have to admit, the teenagers were the hard ones this year. I was inspired to make their gift one Saturday a few weeks before Christmas while cleaning out my closet. I had these awesome t-shirts that didn't fit me anymore but I couldn't build up the courage to just throw them away. So I was thinking about ways that I could recycle these pillows and give them to my sisters... That's when I thought about pillows!

I just cut out a square section form the t-shirt, turned it inside out, sewed around the edges, stuffed with cotton stuffing, and sewed up the stuffing hole. It only took about 10 minutes per pillow!

Here are a few more pics of pillows I made for kids I babysit and my boyfriend! The best part about these pillows are how soft they are.

My Whovian 6 year old sister:

My 6 year old sis is OBSESSED with Doctor Who! So this year I decided to create her a screen printed TARDIS poster.

A few years ago I created a London is Calling screenprint. I wanted to reuse one of the layers form this screenprint to create the TARDIS. Unfortunately, once I printed the TARDIS layer, it didn't line up with the London is Calling layer... so instead of just scrapping the project, I hand painted the missing layer. Then I framed it!

The Tweens I Babysit:

I've been babysitting Sarah and Natalie for over 6 years!! Last year I gave them home made aprons and they LOVED THEM! So this year I had to do something better. I knew that these girls had a few family vacations planned this year so I tried to think of something they could use on vacation.

After lots of thinking, I decided it would just be best to give them travel bags of just fun things. I should have made the travel bags but I found these ones and thought that they were just too perfect!!

I filled their bags with fuzzy socks, hair chalk, nail polish, candy, and home made hair elastics!

I have a few more gifts that I made so I will be posting more soon!! Enjoy!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I can't sleep! I have an idea!

Tonight, while babysitting, as I was trying to get 9 year old Natalie to fall asleep around 10:45pm,(an hour and a half past her bedtime) she suddenly turned over and exclaimed, "I have an idea!" I asked her what her idea was. She explained that she could start a cupcake bakery and she could call it "Natalie's."

In an effort to get her back to sleep, I said, "That's a great idea! Let's sleep on it!" But that wasn't good enough for this rambunctious preteen. She got up and started searched her book case. I asked what she was doing. She replied, "I'm looking for a notebook. I have to draw a logo!" While I really wanted her to go to sleep, I thought this was rather hilarious and I wanted to see what she could come up with.

Just then I heard the downstairs door opening. Her parents were home. Busted. It was 11:00pm. Natalie was to be asleep 2 hours ago. I come down the stairs and explain to the parents that Natalie is indeed still awake however, she is in the process of creating a new cupcake brand and she shouldn't be disturbed.

Natalie runs down the stairs after me and hands me a paper. All while telling her parents that they are not allowed to see what the paper is. I look at the paper and find a logo for Natalie's cupcake business.

So, once I got home, I thought that this logo was so cute, I decided to actually make little Natalie's logo come to life. A half hour later and this is where I landed. 

Definitely not the world's best logo, nor my best design work, however, I think it's good enough for 10 year old Natalie's bakery. I dunno, we'll have to see what Natalie says.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Marathon Training

Needless to say, I've been busy. I ran my first half marathon in May and this weekend I will be running the 2014 Chicago Marathon. Training in and of itself takes up a lot more time than I would have ever imagined. I needed to run 3 times during the week (at least a 40 min run each time) and a long run on the weekends. This run started at 6 miles and increased all the way to 20 miles. It was hard work but really, really worth it. Not only am I spending all this time training but I'm also running for an awesome charity called Back On My Feet. It's a great organization that gives hope to those struggling with homelessness. This organization teaches people how to run and in turn helps them establish skills that will translate into other areas of their life.

There are so many people to thank that have helped me in my marathon training. It has been a journey that I seriously wouldn't have been able to do without so many people.

First and foremost, my amazing and wonderful boyfriend, Loren. When we first met, I told him that I was training for a marathon. Instead of being a distraction, he has ran almost every single mile of my training with me. He has stood and cheered for me at every 8k and half marathon. He has nursed me through injuries and encouraged me to keep running when I felt I couldn't. He has kept me on track for a healthy runners diet (except for that one Oreo milkshake). He has cooked me meals when I was too tired to cook after a 12 mile run. He has helped me bake and deliver pastries for Rise and Run, my main method of fundraising. He ran the twenty mile race with me even though it was just hours before one his best friend's weddings. He held me while I fell asleep at 8pm every Sunday night. He comforted me when I cried about injuries and training stress and whatever thing was wrong at that moment. He has honestly been the biggest support. I am so lucky and blessed to have him.

Carmen has been my next biggest support. She's the one who had the big idea of training for a half marathon and the even bigger idea of training for the full marathon. She trained with me and when she was able to build a faster pace she still encouraged me daily to keep training. We ran the same races, she cooked amazing carbo loading meals, and was my partner in crime with Rise and Run. She was aways available to talk about training, express concern for my minor injuries, and even if she didn't know it, she inspired me to do my very best in every run. I am so lucky that I met her when I did. Her friendship and inspiring example has changed me and helped me through a pretty rough time in my life. I can't wait to see her at the finish line!

The next biggest support isn't really a person but a big group of people who have donated to my fundraiser and those who have asked me on a daily basis how my training is. These are people I work with, friends I haven't seen in years, family, and Facebook friends! While your questions and donations seem like small tokens of support, they help in more ways than you can imagine. Running, at any distance, is mostly mental. While my body may be ready, I need the support of all of you to help me push across that finish line at 26.2 miles.

This journey has been more time consuming and emotional than I could have ever imagined. I have found a new respect for anyone training for a marathon but most of all I have found a new respect for myself. While I have not lost a single pound in my training, I have gained more self esteem. I don't look at my dress size or the number on the scale. I look at how far my body can run and how healthy I feel.

There is not a feeling in the world that can make you feel more powerful than running. While I was on a 15 day trip in Europe, a man in Berlin assaulted me on a busy street at 11 in the morning. I felt so helpless and afraid. The incident really effected the way I saw myself and I didn't think I could spend the rest of my trip alone. The next day I woke up and did a 15 mile run along the Berlin Wall Trail. I felt strong and empowered. That man didn't take anything away from me. I had the strength to get up that morning and face a 15 mile run. Running doesn't only make you physically strong, it makes you realize your potential for all kinds of strength.

My training has let me see amazing parts of Chicago and so many other places around the world. At first, running a 15 mile run on vacation seemed like the worst thing to do while I was trying to relax but it ended up giving me one of the best vacation experiences of my life. While training is the hardest part, it was also the best part.

While I am nervous about Sunday, I can't wait until I am able to see that finish line and run past it. Thank you to all of those you have supported me in one way or another these past few months. See you at mile 26.2.

Also, there's 26 more hours until my fundraiser ends!! Get your donations in:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy #@^%!#* Valentines Day...

Visit the site at

So I hate Valentines Day, like every other single schmuck out there. So this year I'm striking back. I'm telling the world why I hate Valentine's Day. After 23 perpetual years of singleness, I decided to online date. I tried the big guys: and I even tried some new startups like and

After months of playing on these sites and not getting even as little as one message, a wink, or whatever, I decided to try the free sites. You know what I'm talking about. I went on one date and felt defeated. So in an act of desperation, and trying to get over someone who was no longer in my life, I got Tinder. You know what I'm talking about. The hot or not app.

If you're not familiar I'll give you a quick break down. You connect the app with your facebook account. It pulls some photos, your likes, and your friends. Then you are shown guys. Just their face and any friends or likes that you have in common on facebook. You swipe right if you like them and left if you don't. If you swipe right and they also swiped right on you then you are sent a message saying "It's a Match!" If you swipe right and they didn't, they will never know that you like them. If you swipe left, you never see them again and they never know you didn't swipe left.

Soo... since dating the old fashion way did't work and none of the other more "reputable" sites worked, I dove head first into the world of Tinder. I started an account on October 5, 2013. It's now Valentine's Day 2014. I've recreated a true account of my Tinder dating journey over the past 5 months. Every date or conversation referenced really happened. You can't make this stuff up folks. So go have fun. Play around and maybe you'll start to feel some of the pain I've managed to power through. And remember, if you ever need a good Tinder story, please reach out because I've got plenty.

Let's Find Love at

Friday, December 27, 2013

DIY Christmas 2013. Part 4.

The past two posts I've been explaining what I've done for my DIY gifts this Christmas. I wanted to spend time on creating gifts this year instead of spending money on something meaningless.

My Brother and his new Wife:
My brother got married in November. I was designing his wedding invitations with his soon to be wife and she would pin things on Pinterest for my inspiration. She really liked these emblem looking things. So I designed one for them. It was the hero image on their website

So for Christmas I decided to take this emblem and create a stamp for them. I had an internship at a design agency about 2 years ago. They have a laser printer. So I contacted my boss there to see if I could use his machine to make a stamp for my brother and sister-in-law's Christmas present. Once the rubber was printed, I superglued the stamp to a wood back and wrapped it for them with a black stamp pad. Ashley's face on Christmas morning was so surprised. It was a pretty simple gift but a gift that meant a lot.

I find it extremely hard to get grandparents anything. Especially the grandmother on my dad's side. She really just loves her grandchildren and would like to see them more. Last year I gave my grandma a picture frame with pictures of me and her throughout the years. She started crying in the middle of the Christmas party. It was hard for me not to tear up either. 

This year my siblings and I got a photo album and each wrote a short letter to our grandmother sharing our favorite memory of her and telling her how much we love her. Unfortunately, we weren't able to snap of pictures of the book before we gave it to her. 

The book started out with a letter from out youngest sister. Then next page was the most recent picture of that sister. Then next pages were letters from the rest of us, youngest to oldest. My grandmother started reading them out loud. Once she got to my 17 year old sister's letter, her voice got really high and shaky. She started to cry. She couldn't read the rest of the letters out loud so she read them silently. We watched as she smiled and we could see her taking those walks down memory lane with us. When she read the last letter, she closed the book and looked at all of us with tears in her eyes. She pulled the book close to her chest as said "This is going in my casket." 

Classic Grandma. Always the comic relief.

DIY Christmas 2013. Part 3.

The past two posts I've been explaining what I've done for my DIY gifts this Christmas. I wanted to spend time on creating gifts this year instead of spending money on something meaningless.

So I have 3 teenage sisters. Three. I can remember my teenage years like they were yesterday but for some reason, it was really hard to find something to make for these sisters. Honestly, all they want is clothing. I thought about giving them cash and then taking them shopping and to lunch one day. Instead of making them something, I would just spend time with them. Once I got home I realized that these girls were social butterflies and while I had made room on my schedule to spend time with them I started to get the feeling that they wouldn't do the same. I didn't want to just give them cash. I wanted to do something meaningful. So I hoped onto Pinterest and typed in "DIY Teen Gifts." I combined a few different ideas and got some new ideas based on other projects people had posted to Pinterest.

For Sarah: Duck Tape Tablet Case
My 12 year old sister Sarah has a tablet that has no case so consequently it has cracks all over in the screen. And for some reason kids this age are completely obsessed with Duck Tape. This girl has a whole stash of Duck Tape. I don't get it but she likes that kind of stuff. So I took upon myself the task of creating a case out of Duck Tape. I didn't have a pattern or a tutorial. I just bought some Duck Tape, sat down at the table with Sarah's tablet and started experimenting with ways to make the case. I cut 2 equal sized pieces out of a cereal box. I covered those in duck tape. I connected the pieces with Duck Tape that would serve as the spine. I then put pieces of tape on each corner to hold the tablet in place. To be honest, it turned out a lot better than I thought it would have.

For Kaitlin: Painted Hoodie
My almost 14 year old sister Kaitlin is your typical 14 year old. She hangs out with friends, she's pretty good in school, she is amazing at gymnastics, and SnapChats me like 4 times a day. I wasn't sure what I could make her. I started paying attention to the kind of clothing she wears. She's a fan of the basics. You know, tees, tanks, jeans, leggings, hoodies... those kinds of things except her basics have really fun patterns on them. I'm not sure if this is cheating but I went a bought her a hoodie and created a design on it with fabric paint. This project is ridiculously straight forward.

For Kim: Sharpie Shoes
So my 17 year old sister Kim is a senior in high school and she likes to hang out with friend 24/7. And she talks a lot about long boarding. I saw something on Pinterest where someone took a Sharpie to a pear of white sneakers. Yeah, that sounded easy. So I bought a pair of white sneakers and hit the Sharpie aisle to find some awesome colors. I went home and started sketching ideas. Then I started on the shoes. Let me tell you, it took like an hour for each shoe. I thought it would have taken a lot longer. But it was worth it. These shoes are awesome and no one else will have them!!

DIY Christmas 2013 Part 2.

In the previous post I explained that I wanted to give DIY gifts this year for Christmas. I love giving gifts because I love the challenge of trying to find gifts that are meaningful.

This post talks about the present that I gave my mom. She works as a nurse on the over night shift. During the day she watches my 5 year old sister , works on sewing projects, and sells Tupperware. A few months ago she asked me to help create her business cards and a label to put on her catalogs. Since her first order of these I know she has ran out of stock so I decided to reorder her cards and labels.

In November I stayed at my parents' house for my brother's wedding. I noticed that my mom's Tupperware business was taking off and she had no storage for all her inventory. Her piano room, that is somewhat of a sanctuary for my mom, had suddenly been taken over by plastic casserole dishes and Tupperware branded boxes. If my mom needed anything for Christmas it was some place for her to conduct business.

My brother and I put our heads and money together to create a craft/hobby room for my mother. She loves to sew and is always working on new projects. This could also serve as a place to store her Tupperware inventory as well as her catalogs, invoices, business cards, and other business things. In our parent's basement there is an slightly unfinished, cluttered storage room. We knew that this would probably be the best place for us to create a place that is only designated for our mom and her hobbies. Here is what we started with:

My brother and I recruited some of our other siblings, including our extremely pregnant sister (pictured above) to help clean out and organize the room. We got rid of a few broken pieces of furniture, empty cardboard boxes, and put boxes that were storing items into another, slightly more organized storage room in the house. We then organized all the sewing scraps, sewing patterns, and Tupperware.

After the organization was complete we went shopping. We purchased a comfy chair, a colorful rug, Rubbermade storage drawer, industrial shelves, a small ironing board, a clothing rod, and a small table for our 5 year old sister to play at while my mom is working on projects.

It was hard trying to keep this project a secret from our mom. She knew something was going on in the basement but we told her that she couldn't go in that room because we were hiding her Christmas present in there. Knowing my mom, she totally peaked.