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Yesterday we got personal, so let’s spend today talking about… stuff. Home stuff. City stuff. This town that we love so, so much. Here’s what you’ve asked, and here’s what we have to say:

How do you budget for your home projects? Flea market finds? Surprise purchases?

SCOTT: We don’t exactly budget, but we do work hard live within our means, so when that perfect, gotta-have-it, one-of-a-kind item falls into our lap, we can justify the occasional splurge. (Below, Kim wanted everything in that room; really.)

KIM: We rarely start with a number in mind for any given project; rather, our goal is to stay as cost effective as possible. At the same time, paying for quality up front is a better long term option – and we’ve definitely played both sides of the coin (and learned our lesson when we’ve ‘cheaped’ out!).

S: Our biggest budget test will be the new home – balancing our want-tos and have-tos.

We’re in the decorating stages of our own home, and we have no idea where to start. How do I mix/match patterns, colors, and styles? Where do I start?

K: With the exception of the studio – which was completed, more or less, start to finish in a handful of months – every room in our home has evolved over time. Layering in pieces we love, stumble upon or seek out is a process that has taken us years! What do you already have and/or can’t change? Build upon those items slowly and intentionally – but don’t over think it. There’s hardly a steadfast rule to mixing one pattern with another, red with blue or dark woods with lights. Trust your gut. Only you have to love it.

S: Surround yourself with items you’re attracted to. If something’s not working out? Purge.

Help! What are your best organizing tips in a small space?

S: Go vertical! Our ceilings are high, so in a space as small as ours, we’ve utilized shelving above the television, in the studio and even have a small, seamless cubby above our back door.

K: To avoid visual clutter such as remote controls, phones and wallets, we use cigar boxes as functional – but still cute! – drop zones. Most importantly, we try really hard to only have items we use or need. As we begin packing our home in boxes these coming weeks, I know we’ll find more to donate and/or sell.

How did you decide on your neighborhood in Chicago?

S: Before we moved to Chicago, we spent several weekends visiting our in-town friends in Logan Square, and we fell in love with the diversity, creative energy and expansive green boulevards. Our move to the city was natural and simple: Logan Square would be – and still is – our neighborhood.

K: The decision felt effortless; we love it more every day. Cheesy, and yet so true.

What’s the best brunch in Chicago?

S: Chicago Diner. Lula Cafe. Bite. Bang Bang Pie. Donuts at Do-Rite or Glazed and Infused (or both!)

K: We have so many favorites, but we’ll narrow it down based on how we’re feeling. Would we like to sit outside? Milk & Honey‘s outdoor patio is a great people watching spot, full of veggie and meat-loving options, and on a warm, sunny day, it hits the spot. There’s never a shortage on our rotating hit list, but hands down, we think you can’t beat the diner atmosphere and budget prices at Cozy Corner – not to mention, they’ll give you a lollipop on your way out!

What is your favorite non-touristy thing to do in Chicago? Your favorite (absolutely) touristy thing?

K: In the summer, the Randolph Street Market is a can’t miss, in the winter, cocktails and a cheap ticket to the Logan theater are sweet and cozy. A day at the beach can’t be beat, and shopping along State St. is a nice way to take in downtown while avoiding the Michigan Ave tourists (although truth be told, I love the touristy must-dos, too!). For a slight tourist detour, take in the Lurie Garden – it’s so pretty, it’s stupid.

S: On the touristy side, Millenium Park’s Downtown Sound (Monday nights) is a must, the Shedd Aquarium (and the entire museum campus) is worth it, and grab a drink at the Signature Lounge in the John Hancock Building. It’s one floor below the Observation Deck, but rather than spend the money on that ticket, wouldn’t it be better spent on an overpriced cocktail in the lounge? And Taste of Chicago – you should do it, at least once – while shoulder-to-shoulder, it boasts free music from national and local headliners.

What are your best Chicago travel tips that won’t break the bank?

K: Venture outside of downtown! Chicago is a city of neighborhoods – each with their own unique personalities. Lincoln Park has a free (and adorable) zoo, then rent a bike and cycle along the lake shore path. Head northwest on Milwaukee avenue to hit the shops in Wicker Park, the bars in Logan Square and pack a picnic to dine along the boulevards.

S: Seek outside-of-the-box hotel stays, such as the rooms at Longman & Eagle, plan your trips for the week (rather than the weekends), and skip pricey cab rides by grabbing a 5-day pass for the train! For entertainment, check out a tasty brewery tour at Revolution (below) or Half Acre – or catch a free movie in the park!

How in the world do you survive the cold Chicago winters? I love the city, but that weather is a deal breaker!

K: However cold, frigid and snowy the winters, the summers are just that much more warm, sunny and bustling. Full disclosure, I never actually enjoyed summers all that much growing up in Ohio (they were much too muggy for my tastes – and hair!), and until we moved to Chicago, I had no idea that the warmer months could be so beautiful! From street fests to fairs to cool lake water and a perfectly manicured, flowered and energetic downtown, I can’t get enough. Once the winter has passed, Chicagoans only look forward. For every bad winter month, the warm weather months more than make up for it.

S: Of our 7 survived Chicago winters, only 3 (maybe?) of them have tested our endurance (and will to live!). Fellow Chicagoans, remember the Thundersnow?

If I ever visit Chicago, can we meet up for a beer? (Or is that creepy?)

S: We know just the place to take you.

K: And who are we to turn down a drink?

S: First round’s on you!

We must admit that while we tried to answer as many of your Qs as possible – you all a curious bunch (ah, just like this girl!) – there are a handful we replied to personally. You can also see our first ask us anything! round up from two years ago right here and here. It’s sort of fun to see how some of our ideas may have shifted and changed, and which thoughts have stayed exactly the same.

And because we love to bounce ideas and suggestions off of fellow home lovers and dwellers, how would you chime in? Your favorite Chicago brunch? Your best organizing tips? Your top-notch winter survival tips? (It doesn’t get that cold, does it?)

PS: There were a LOT of photography tutorial requests – enough to warrant its very own post. I hope to get something together in the coming weeks and share some simple and easy tweaks to spruce up any photo.

  • Julia @cuckoo4design - June 20, 2013 - 6:41 AM

    Loved the Q&A posts! And can’t wait to read the photography tutorial!ReplyCancel

  • Amber - June 20, 2013 - 9:05 AM

    Thanks for the Chicago recommendations! I’ve lived here for 5 years and find that the longer I’m here the less I go outside of my Lakeview “bubble” so I’ll be putting some of your recommendations to use this summer. PS. I agree the winters aren’t too bad! It’s the “spring” that gets me!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 20, 2013 - 9:53 AM

      Amber, you’re right! Chicago springs aren’t much of anything – it goes from cold to hot!ReplyCancel

  • Trish - June 20, 2013 - 11:18 AM

    Regarding surviving the Chicago winters, I have lived here my whole life and it took me forever to figure this out. Buy some really warm clothes – while I hate to be cruel to geese, a down coat will save your life! And you can find cute accessories to style it up (check out Uncle Dan’s) if you are afraid of looking like the Michelin man. I have dogs who need to be walked daily and don’t mind the biting cold, so I have learned if you can’t beat them, join them. I have a full length North Face down coat given to me as a gift by my boyfriend and it changed my life!

    My other piece of advice – don’t worry about your vanity, just dress warmly. I have been known to walk my dogs at the lakefront wearing ski goggles. I really don’t care what people think – I just stay warm and get it done. And being out in the winter time is the best way to beat the winter blues. I thank my dogs for keeping me out and about every day. It does the mind and body good. So don’t let the winters scare you away – embrace it and arm yourself with the right gear.ReplyCancel

  • ohmelvin - June 20, 2013 - 11:46 AM

    If you come up with enough items you plan to part with, you should consider an online auction. You could donate a % of proceeds to an awesome animal rescue. Yes, this is my way of encouraging you to sell me your unwanted things!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - June 20, 2013 - 12:33 PM

    Trish, you’re spot on! I actually just purchased my first down coat this winter (honestly, I have no idea what took me so long), and it changed my life. I remember asking Scott, “so people have been walking around this warm all along, and no one shares this information?!”

    I also love my earmuffs. LOVE THEM.

    Oh Melvin – that’s a great idea! Sadly, I think most of our items aren’t exactly auction worthy (at least the ones we’ll be purging). But it’s definitely something we’ll keep in mind!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - June 20, 2013 - 12:44 PM

    I usually don’t mind winters here. I remember them being much worse when I was a kid, as far as snow and ice storms go. Summers? I HATE summers in the city! I feel like the odd one out. ;) As soon as it hits 80, I hermit as much as possible. It’s not the heat, but the soup-like conditions created by the warmth and humidity. I never have adjusted to feeling as if I’ve just spread Elmer’s glue on my body.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - June 20, 2013 - 12:47 PM

    Melissa, too funny! Coming from Cincinnati which is (in my mind) the humidity capitol of the world (it’s set in a valley, so the air just sits on top of you!), Chicago is a breath of fresh air! Not to mention the lake for cooling off… Funny though, I feel as I get older, I love the heat more and more. Maybe age plays a factor, too.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - June 23, 2013 - 9:44 AM

    Thank you! This is perfect timing. I just got a job on Chicago and will start next week. I’ll have two weeks to find a place to live before my stuff arrives! Also, coming from SoCal, the cold-weather tips are appreciated.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole S. - June 26, 2014 - 9:46 AM

    We just moved from Logan Square to Albany Park, where we bought our own little fixer upper! Looks like we have the same taste in food…I definitely miss being within walking distance of Bang Bang, Lula and Revolution, but I’m loving living in a new neighborhood and having a HUGE backyard for our boys to run around in. You’re totally right about the city…venture out of downtown and get into the neighborhoods. So much to see!ReplyCancel


Last week, we held our very first, very official reader survey to celebrate our 4 year blogging birthday – has it really been that long? – and we learned so much about you all! Between the fellow Pittie lovers, artists and bicycle enthusiasts, you have some really quirky quirks. And we love it. We share your wanderlust, obsessive tendencies and addiction to flea markets (it’s more like a pure, animal magnetism, wouldn’t you say?) – to name only a few commonalities. You and us; we get each other.

We also opened the floor to ask us anything, and you guys! You went all out! We sifted through the questions, rounded them up, and we’ve split them into a 2 part Q+A, starting right this second.

I’m curious about your creative roots. Did you grow up doing art and/or encouraged to be handy?

KIM: Absolutely, 100% yes, I grew up creating some kind of art – any kind. I colored, I painted, I made construction paper mock-ups of play hats, doll clothes and handmade cards for every single occasion. When it was time to graduate from high school, there was no doubt in my mind or my parents’ minds that I would go to art school. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from The University of Cincinnati, and I realized only later how lucky I was to have parents that thought, naturally, our daughter will go to art school! (And if they were uncertain of my future for a single second, they never showed it. Thank you, Mom and Dad!) To this day, they’re still two of the strongest supporters in my life for the unconventional path I’ve chosen. (Firmly tied for first with this guy at my side.) Below, a drawing to the greatest people I’ve ever known.

SCOTT: On the handy side of things, my Pops had a hammer in my hand as soon as he thought it was safe (probably much earlier than the Department of Child Services would’ve liked!), and paid me a nickel per nail for every deck I helped him build. I like to think that Kim fell for me (hard!) when she saw my dad’s garage full of power tools. We spent countless whole weekends building light boxes, frames and anything else she dreamed up for her thesis projects.

What is Scott’s day job? Did Kim have a day job before she opened The Pet Shop (what did she do)?

S: Simply put, I work as a sales rep for an industrial uniform rental company. It’s far from sexy, I often come home dirty (wait, that sounds funny), but I love what I do. It’s been nine great years – my first “real” job out of college, and still is – with no plans for a change of venue.

K: How far back do you want to go? Here’s the thing; I’ve always thought that if you’re not really happy (like, truly content) in your situation, do something to change it. As a result, I’ve held various jobs (several of them for years at a time, mind you), until I broke all ties to be my own boss – and I’m the hardest boss I’ve ever had! From a photography assistant to office do-all to gallery manager, I’ve dabbled in many, many things. Some have been more creative than others, some have been placeholders, and others I look back on and can’t believe I lasted as long as I did.

Where does your inspiration come from? Or are you two lucky enough to have those aha! moments?

K: I’ve really been trying to only pin images and links that I find truly helpful. For a source such as a Pinterest, it’s easy to “lose” your pins and fall down the never-ending rabbit hole, only to realize you’ve forgotten why you’ve logged on in the first place! Scott is purely a visual person, so I’ll pull up my favorite pins with ideas, he’ll chime in, and we’ll branch off from there.

S: Cop out answer: Everywhere. Alleys, auto shops, store displays and the backrooms of America I see during my day job. My average day takes me from a ranch dressing factory to a machine shop to restaurants; I compare my job to living inside an episode of How It’s Made. Have you seen it?

K: And this is why we have conduit pipes for a curtain rod and an old tool box as a bar.

How did you and Scott meet?

K: There are two sides to that story.

S: Let’s not stir that pot again. You can see the whole back story right here.

How did Jack, Maddie and Libby come into your lives? Adoption stories, please!

S: When I first started with my company, one of my customers was a rural veterinarian’s office. Knowing that I had just purchased my first home in Cincinnati, the staff pushed jokingly for me to adopt every stray animal that walked through their door. One day they asked, do you want to meet the world’s greatest cat? They ushered me into her allergen-free private room (yes, this girl had a room all to herself!), and out screeched Libby – the world’s greatest tail-less cat. She hopped into my arms – really, hopped – and I brought her home that week.

Then there’s Jack. My best buddy! Never having owned a dog, I spent years convincing Kim that our home wasn’t really complete without one. As a joke, you might remember, she made me this painting (which in turn spawned The Pet Shop, funny how things work out!). While it was thoughtful, I refused to give up. I leaned on her. I would not relent.

She gave in.

One visit to the shelter later, we came home with a new family member. After meeting and playing with several fluffy candidates – all of whom were very nonplussed with our company – we gave in to the ribbiest, saddest, red-eyed pup in the slammer. He had no interest in playing with toys. He could care less about the grass and fresh air. Instead, he licked my face raw, and refused to leave my lap. This was our boy.

K: Miss Maddie is – and always will be – my baby. Scott jokes that you can’t get too close unless your name is Kim, otherwise, her daggers will come out. I wish this wasn’t the case, but it is. (That trickster!) But, you see, I adopted Maddie from the animal shelter when I was in college; she was damn near death, I nursed that girl back to health, and she’s been sporting sass ever since – to everyone but her momma. Cats were an absolute no-no in my college apartment rental, but I pleaded with the landlord with big promises – I’ll clean the building hallway! I said. I’ll pull all the garbage to the curb, every week! I stayed true to my word, and I got my cat.

How did you know if Jack would get along with your cats? Did you choose a specific breed when deciding on a dog?

S: Knowing Maddie and Libby both have all 20 claws, we weren’t concerned as much with Jack getting along with them, more so, our concern was towards the girls playing nice with a new brother. We went into the adoption process with no breed in mind, only a few small rules: 1) female, 2) 50 lbs or less and 3) short-haired. We succeeded with 1 of the 3, but even with short hair, our 65 lb, male dog still sheds like a mother. Fail.

In summary, we had no idea if Jack would get along with the girls. We fell in love with a dog, who fell in love with us, and we knew we could find a way to make it work.

Will you adopt more pets once you move into the new house? How do you manage to only have 3 pets?

K: First, I love that this question asks how we only have 3 pets, whereas most people would ask how we manage 3 pets at all! In any case, we talk – a lot – about fostering bully breeds once we’re settled in the new home. This is a long term goal, as there’ll be a fair amount of construction going on at first (and I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the scope of most projects). I have a feeling, though, that we won’t be a one pup household for too much longer. And Scott? I’m pretty sure he agrees.

S: Agreed.

What was the trigger that caused you both to start blogging in the first place?

K: Our friend, Renee, would come to our home and spend the first 5 minutes searching for the newest thing we’ve tweaked, changed or overhauled. One day, she said, You should start a blog!

S: Challenge accepted. (Thanks, R!)

Do you ever meet your fellow bloggers in real life?

K: Yes! We’ve not only met these like-minded people in person, but we’re lucky enough to call so many of them our friends. What starts as a simple email exchange – usually to bounce an idea off of each other – soon turns into real life meetings over dinners, drinks and weekend dates. (Remember when Scott officiated the wedding of these two? Yeah, blog friends.)

S: The same goes for non-bloggers, too. Some of our closest friends have reached out to us – whether it be for a pet portrait or home advice – and we’ve hit it off with ease.

K: It’s still amazing to think about the friendships we’ve forged simply by starting this blog, writing about our home. The blogging community – fellow laptop clutchers and readers alike! – has an infectious energy, and if we take a step back to think about it (just for a moment!), it blows my mind. We still say, isn’t this whole thing just so bizarre?

If money were no object and you could take a road trip throughout the US, where would you go? (You have to visit at least 4 states!)

S: Route 66, in an RV, with Jack, bicycles and adventure gear in tow.

K: With plenty of detours!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

K: Is it too late to want to be a hockey coach? No? Well then I’ve always wanted to teach a team of pee wee players as a legit, full time job. I’m sure this isn’t a real thing (those are dads on the bench!), but have you ever seen how cute they are under all that protection? Love this question, by the way.

S: Owner of a bicycle shop / record store / craft beer bar. I’m of the mindset that people who appreciate nice bikes, good music and tasty beer are pretty alright.

K: I’m on board with Scott’s idea, too.

Kim, where do you buy your jeans?!

K: Ah, the million dollar question! Oddly enough (or maybe not so much so?), my favorite jeans hail from The Gap Outlet. We have a Gap Outlet near our home, and their Premium Skinny brand are not only the perfect amount of stretch, but they keep their shape (and I can only find those suckers at the outlet – the jeans in their original stores are a no-go for me). I wouldn’t say that my quest for the perfect brand is complete, so, who wants to chime in?

Do you have any baby plans? (Wink, wink.)

S: Oh, you mean baby puppies?

K: And kitties? We’ve gone over this, no? Who wouldn’t love a little more fluff in their home? (Nudge, nudge.)

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with your all-things-home-and-Chicago-esque questions, so stay tuned!

Photo of Jack kisses via and map of Route 66 via.

  • Sarge in Charge - June 19, 2013 - 8:33 AM

    RE: the jeans quest, I am forever singing the praises of the Madewell Skinny Skinny jeans. They do not stretch out, they last forever, they come in two lengths, and the fit is amazing. Done.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - June 19, 2013 - 8:47 AM

      Sarge, thank you for that tip! The stretching out is the deal breaker for me.ReplyCancel

  • Heather {A Fire Pole in the Dining Room} - June 19, 2013 - 11:14 AM

    Love the roadtrip plan! If you ever embark on that, please stop and see us in St Louis. At your new place, will you guys have space for an RV? Would you ever consider getting one? Our trailer has been wrapped in front of the firehouse since February. Aaron thought he would have time to work on it this summer, but he’s still knees deep in the studio build out. :(ReplyCancel

  • Amy - June 19, 2013 - 11:26 AM

    Of course I was writing to let you know that I’d gladly show you around STL… and then I saw Heather’s note… and she bought the firehouse that a friend and I were coveting! I love how the small world of STL extends into the interwebs!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - June 19, 2013 - 12:25 PM

    Heather, I don’t know if we’ll have room for an RV, but that would just be the icing on the cake for the trip – otherwise, perhaps something a little more gas efficient? :)

    Amy, small world! I’ve only been to STL once for a Blues game, so it’d be great to make that pit stop again!ReplyCancel

  • Jane @ The Borrowed Abode - June 19, 2013 - 4:44 PM

    Loved this! Can’t wait to see the next part of the Q&A!!!ReplyCancel

  • Trish - June 20, 2013 - 11:33 AM

    If you do that road trip, be sure to stop at Best Friends Animal Society’s beautiful Sanctuary for a tour. I am fortunate enough to work for them (remotely from Chicago), but it is the most wonderful place on earth for any animal lover. You can even volunteer with any animals of your choosing for a half day, whole day, whole week! It is awesome!

  • Kim - June 20, 2013 - 12:33 PM

    Trish, we know of Best Friends! Our great friend works for them as well (remotely from Portland). We were planning on going this year, but the new house put a stop on all of our plans – for now. So awesome that you work there! We will definitely be going there at some point.ReplyCancel

  • stephanie @BabaSouk - June 22, 2013 - 9:17 AM

    So fun to read about you guys! You are hilarious. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • Jenna - June 22, 2013 - 8:49 PM

    Ha Ha. Oh please tell me your work for Cintas? My husband is also a rep for an “industrial uniform rental company” in Newmarket Canada. I showed him your description of an episode of “How its Made” and he fully agreed.ReplyCancel


First off, a gigantic thank you! to all who participated in our Very First, Very Official Reader Survey! The results are in, and – not that we’re surprised – it turns out that you guys are just as awesome, funny and curious as we suspected. (We literally LOL’ed many, many times as we read and re-read your responses!) We’ll have a recap, a rundown, and a big ol’ stack of answers to your questions and inquiries in the coming days.

Survey aside, you all know we’ve been up to our ears in new house stuff for the last few weeks. We’ve closed on the new place, have lined up a wonderful couple to rent this home of ours, and we’re beginning to stockpile some treasures for the new studio and our big new garage (my favorite part!). All that said, every hard-working man needs a weekend diversion and my diversions usually involve bicycles. When the weather isn’t great for riding, I can often be found lending a hand building and maintaining our trails at The Garden Dirt Jumps, a bike park that my friends and I have been building top of the remains of a defunct Chicago amusement park for the last half-decade or so:

While we’re out working on the park, we often find unexpected things in the dirt. Like, really unexpected things. Over the last 6 summers of building in the woods, the boys and I have found parts of cars, roller-coaster bits, unidentifiable bones (yes, really, I say!) and often chunks of antique dishes and glassware.

It is, however rare to find anything whole and/or in good shape. Last weekend was an exception and on a build day at the park, I uncovered an adorable little half pint milk bottle and a cool blue glass inkwell.


After the day of digging was all wrapped up our tools were cleaned and put away, I headed home to polish up my newfound treasure. A quick scrub and a short soak in the sink later and we were left with some clean and quirky glassware with a history all its’ own.

An Ebay and Etsy search confirmed that neither one is worth much, but it turns out there is some really cool history to be told. The milk bottle is from Rusche Haller & Co here in Chicago, and according to this Google Doc, Mr Rusche. really knows his milk! The ink well was manufactured by  Sanford’s, likely in the late 19th or early 20th century. And for all of you history nerds (myself included) this is the same Sanford’s that still manufactures Sharpie markers and PaperMate pens. Who knew?

What sort of treasure have you unearthed in backyard renovations?

  • Heather {A Fire Pole in the Dining Room} - June 17, 2013 - 10:17 AM

    Wow! Those are cute finds! I’m surprised they weren’t broken.

    We found a lot of buried trash when we were working on our yard – like buckets of old bricks and assorted house-building material. The only thing close to a “treasure” was a rusted star anchor plate (like the one from Soulard:

  • Tina S. - June 17, 2013 - 10:25 AM

    The ink well has a link to Sharpies? My goodness, I’ve died and gone to Heaven! I’m a major Sharpie addict, so if I found that ink well I’d equate it to finding winning lottery numbers! Very cool finds.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - June 17, 2013 - 11:45 AM

    Thanks, Tina! Who ISN’T a Sharpie addict? ;)ReplyCancel

  • Jackie B - June 17, 2013 - 12:16 PM

    So cool to find some buried treasure! When digging in our backyard, I found some nice stones and rocks that are now surrounding my fire pit.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica@CapeofDreams - June 17, 2013 - 2:58 PM

    Cool finds! It was a relief to find out that was a dirt bike park; I was afraid you were going to say it was the backyard of your new house. Of course, if you are into jumping bikes, that would be an awesome backyard.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - June 17, 2013 - 3:08 PM

    Jessica, Scott would be in HEAVEN if that was our new backyard! Luckily, our home isn’t too far from the park though.ReplyCancel