Winter Hours

Hi all - happy Wednesday! I hope your week is off to a good start. Mine has been slowly dragging on unfortunately. These gray winter days are endless and it really starts to weigh on you. I am impatiently counting down the days until spring. I miss the green grass and sundress weather!

I know most of my fellow midwest bloggers probably sound like a broken record when it comes to the cold - but c'mon - it's rough! Haha, anywho... I thought today I would shake things up a bit on here. I typically only post dresses in my outfit posts - my wardrobe consists 85% of them - but during these cold months I tend to gravitate towards jeans and baggy sweaters. Today I give you the typical Monday through Friday winter hours Allison. To the ladies who can stand to wear dresses in 30 degrees and blow - hats off to you! I just can't do it, so instead I rely on loose layers.

Isn't this bag cute? It pretty much sums me up and what it is like living with generalized anxiety, something I think is important to be open about. Also, the cardigan and watch were stolen from Dan's wardrobe - he is such a sport and also helped me take these photos (oh the joys of dating a blogger, haha).

Outfit: Top - Anthropologie, Cardigan - Banana Republic, Jeans - Urban Outfitters, Shoes - Swedish Hasbeens, Bag - Stay at Home Club, Had - Goorin Bothers.

I am also feverishly counting down the days to spring because Dan and I are moving in together! Before we met he had decided that once his lease was up he was going to buy a place. This will be his first time owning a home, which is pretty darn exciting. I am so glad I can share this journey with him. We are in the process of finding a realtor as we speak! We have also been pinning ideas to our "future home" board on Pinterest for months. I can't wait to make a place ours and possibly tile a bathroom (or two) :]

I will keep you all posted as that draws near. In the mean time I will be bundled up binge watching Netflix.

Any fun plans in store for you this year? I'd love to hear about them!

Museum of Contemporary Art

Morning everyone! How has your weekend been? It is beyond cold out here in Chicago! I recently purchased a North Face coat that could double as a sleeping bag (it goes down to my ankles) which has been perfect for this weather, however, after about 10 minutes of walking regardless of what I am wearing my legs go numb and feel slushie like - ugh! I honestly don't know why people put up with this cold. Some day I will live in Sedona and sell aura photos to tourists (or some other crazy gig - maybe geodes - to pay the bills), and never freeze again...

Anywho... yesterday Dan and I headed over to the MCA in order to catch the Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination installation, which unfortunately ends today. The colorful images above (in the middle two rows) are from this show. The show consisted of a "series of immersive film and video installations that push the limit of these media to imagine animal experiences in natural habitats." The installations were beautiful. It was neat being surrounded by multiple projectors as the artwork surrounds you. It felt as though you were a part of the the scene and for a moment forgot where you were. For more information about the artist and the artwork please check out the show's gallery brochure.

After spending the afternoon at the museum we quickly headed home to get out of the cold. However, being the nut that I am - I had Dan snap a few outfit photos for me on the roof deck. We lasted all of 5 minutes - but the city skyline sure looked pretty last night.

Outfit: Dress - Eva Franco, Frames and Fortune - ModCloth, Cardigan - Charter School Cardigan - ModCloth, Purse - Kate Spade - Nordstrom's Rack, Tights - Target, Boots - Madden Girl - Carson Pirie Scott.

I have been a bit lax with my wardrobe this winter. Lately I have just thrown on some jeans and a sweater of some sort and call it a day. I am so ready for spring to get here! Yesterday, however, I decided to get dolled up, so I felt the need to document the occasion. This Eva Franco dress is one of my  all-time favorites. I have owned it for a few years now, and it is still one of go-to's for a dressier look with a pop of fun. What are some of your go-to items in your wardrobe?

Welp, I am off to design some logos. Hope you all enjoy the rest of the weekend! Stay warm!!

American Sign Museum

Hi all - happy 2017! First post of the new year - wahoo!! I am looking forward to what this new year has in store, and I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and managed to ring in the new year with loved ones. I spent the holidays driving up and down the midwest in a whirlwind of a road trip. Dan and I first journeyed out to Athens, Ohio to spend time with his grandmother and family. Along the way we made sure to make a quick pit stop at the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio.

For those of you unfamiliar with the American Sign Museum - it is a museum devoted entirely to (you guessed it!) American signage (metal, plastic, neon - etc.) spanning decades. The museum was founded by Tod Swormstedt - former editor and publisher of Signs of the Times magazine - and opened it's doors in 2005.

The morning we set off for Ohio we didn't account for the time change - silly us - so by the time we hit the road and plugged in our coordinates we realized we would only have an hour (tops - if we were lucky) to check everything out. We were able to make it to the museum with 45 minutes to spare, unfortunately, that meant we had to run through the museum like mad people snapping photos so that we wouldn't miss anything. I only managed to read two plaques of information, so we will definitely be returning some time soon to take the full tour.

Dan and I are both in the design field so our love of good signage/advertising runs deep. We were giddy the entire drive out to see it. I think I thanked the woman at the front desk for everything they've done about 10 times. The museum is such a beautiful time capsule of American advertisement history. The museum itself is set up to look like a street - with a variety of shop windows - as you walk down the road you travel through various eras of signage history - it was pretty darn neat!

If you ever pass through Cincinnati I highly recommend stopping in - just make sure you have at least an hour or more to really take in everything! The penguin and Fergi signs above were two of my personal faves.

I hope I am not alone in my signage nostalgia. Do any of you like to stop for cool signs or other roadside attractions? I go out of my way on trips to find them. If you are looking for a good read and/or neat website to check out that has tons of places similar to the sign museum - check out Atlas Obscura. I found their site a little over a year back and Dan and I pull places to visit from there all the time - I even bought Dan the Atlas Obscura book this Christmas so we could find more places to explore. I am looking forward to endless adventures in 2017.

Anywho, have a great week everyone!

Happy Holidays - 2016

Happy Holidays, everyone!

And happy first day of winter!! This year flew by so quickly. I can't believe we are 4 days away from Christmas - eep!! For the holidays Dan and I decided to jump on holiday card bandwagon. I think they turned out pretty darn cute! Trying to run to take the photos before the timer went off was a bit of a challenge in my apartment - but pretty hilarious. I have attached a few outtakes below, but we opted for silly.

Any fun plans this holiday season? Dan and I will be spending the Christmas with both families, and then we are headed on a mini road trip to Athens Ohio. Along the way we plan to stop at the American Sign Museum - and I couldn't be more excited! Look forward to a post devoted entirely to that when I get back. Aaaand for New Years we are headed to Milwaukee for the night to ring in the new year with friends. I have to say, 2016 may have had some serious ups and downs - especially at the start, but overall it was pretty darn great. I can't wait to see what 2017 has in store! (A new home aaand possibly a puppy!?)

Wishing you all a safe and bright holiday season - and a very happy new year!

See you all in 2017 :]

Mid-Century Modern Gingerbread House Tutorial

Oh hey! Remember me? I have been such a flake with blogging, but let's move forward - shall we? Since February a lot has changed in my world - but definitely for the better! I focused on family, friends, healing - and unexpectedly found love along the way. I will fill you all in with details soon - I don't want to overwhelm you on my first day back.

Today I am excited to kick off the holiday season with a fun little tutorial for you all. This past weekend Dan (the cute new man in my life) and I decided to build our dream home out of gingerbread. Both of us have a slight obsession with all things mid-century modern, so it wasn't hard to chose what architectural style to run with for the house.

Diving in head first - we watched a few YouTube videos, deemed ourselves experts and jumped right in.

Items you will need (in no particular order):

  1. A few boxes of gingerbread mix - we used three boxes of the Trader Joe's brand. I saw that Toll House sells sheets, unfortunately, they were out of it when we went to the store. Any gingerbread cookie mix/recipe, however, will do.
  2. A carton of eggs - for the ginger bread and icing.
  3. A package of powdered sugar.
  4. Food dye.
  5. Colored hard candies - we used butterscotch candies - but lollipops or Life Savers would be good too.
  6. Drafting supplies - sheets of paper, x-acto knife (or scissors), ruler and pen or pencil for creating your template.
  7. Icing Decorating tips and sandwich bags (or icing bags).
  8. Toothpicks, kebob sticks - etc. to help with fine details in the frosting.
  9. Mixing bowls.
  10. Hammer for hard candies.
  11. Wax Paper.
  12. Rolling pin (or smooth drinking glass or bottle will do.)

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Step 1: Mix gingerbread cookies if your purchased a mix (or are making them from scratch) and place the dough in the refrigerator to set.

Step 2: Create and cut out your template.

Dan and I flipped through some of his architecture books for reference material and settled on this simplified design above.

For this particular model the front and back of the house was 14 inches wide, 4 inches high on the smaller ends and 7 inches tall at the point in the middle. The small side walls were 4" x 4", and the roof sides were 6" x 9".

Step 3: Roll out your dough on wax paper on top of a baking sheet. Roll the dough until it is roughly a quarter of an inch thick. Once you have it even, place your template on top and cut out. Repeat this step twice for all the sides/pieces. You will end up with 6 pieces total to work with.

Step 4: Smash that candy!! This was a fun step. Take your hard candies and place it in a few baggies (my bags would get small tears from the hammer so it helps to double or triple up). Then take your hammer and smash the pieces on a hard surface. We chose butterscotch candies for the windows because we wanted it to give off a warm looking glow. If you would like to go for a stained glass look use multi-colored Life Savers or lollipops.

Step 5: Fill the window cut outs with the broken candy pieces. 

Step 6: Bake your gingerbread. Our recipe called for 375 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes. While the gingerbread was baking I peeked in every few minutes to make sure the candy wouldn't burn. If the candy starts bubbling (mine did) turn the oven temperature down to 250-300 and keep checking until the gingerbread is thoroughly cooked - it took roughly 15-20 minutes altogether. 

Ovens vary quite a bit, so for step 6 please just keep an eye on it.

Step 7: Bake the rest of your gingerbread cutouts and set aside to cool.

INTERMISSION - At this point we went to bed and decided to tackle icing everything the following day.

Step 8: Create your royal icing. I used this recipe here, but I used it as a general guideline. I wasn't planning on eating the gingerbread house so I eliminated using vanilla and eyeballed the amount of egg whites and powdered sugar. For me it took nearly a full bag of powdered sugar and 5 egg whites.

Step 9: Once your icing is ready to go split some of it up in to smaller bowls in order to add your food coloring. I used green, red and yellow coloring for portions of the design - the majority I left white.

Step 10: Release your inner artist! I started with outlining the windows with white icing to clean up their shape. I used a sandwich bag with a frosting tip at this point to pipe icing. From there I took a kebob stick and pulled down some of the icing to create icicles. I then added a door, wreath, tree and flamingo with a santa hat for good measure. I pulled inspiration from books and Pinterest. When the icing came out more of a pink color rather than red the yard flamingo idea just came to me.

Step 11: Once you have iced everything to your liking and everything has dried, it is time for assembly. I started with adding one of the smaller sides to the front of the house. Add the icing to where the sides will meet and hold for a few minutes until the icing sets. Repeat for all sides and roof - for this part it really helps to have someone helping you hold pieces while items dry.

Meet Dan - my cute gingerbread construction worker.

Step 12: Add frosting to your base or add other additional features to the front and back yard. We baked a gingerbread cake from the same gingerbread mix, which created a soft base for the gingerbread house to sit on. From there I iced everything and added some powdered sugar to create a snowy effect. Feel free to add some trees, shrubs, a car, water feature, pool - etc. (get crazy with it!) At this point we were pretty burnt out so we threw in the towel.

Once your gingerbread house is complete - sit back and enjoy!! I still can't believe how well it turned out. It is my mini gingerbread dream home. If you decide to make a mid-century modern gingerbread house - or any gingerbread house - please email me your photos!

I had so much fun creating this house and tutorial - keep your eye out for more fun projects in the future!