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I procrastinated listing 10 books that changed me, but this vignette reminded me of it. I own very few books, because what’s the point in paying money to re-read books that I’d have to store, pack, and move when I can just go to the library and get something new every time, for free? There are so many books to read, and so little time; I only re-read my absolute favourites, and I only own ones I’d actually re-read. The five books stacked up are my faves of the faves, and were chosen to stay with me as long as possible, rather than being stashed into storage with the rest of my possessions:

  • Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (my mom’s copy, in French)
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau (from Josh)
  • The Four Agreements by Miguel Ángel Ruiz (from my dad)
  • The Fifth Agreement by Miguel Ángel Ruiz (from my dad)
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

To finish up the list:

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
  • Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir

P.S. That is my favourite picture of my mother, taken by me in April 2004.

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Lately I’ve been getting to a bunch of projects around the house that had previously been forgotten. It feels good to attend to those small things around the house that irritate me; improving one tiny thing after another. So far I’ve:

  • replaced the boob light fixture above my desk with this paper lantern
  • installed hooks for guests to hang towels on
  • mounted my favourite vintage door knob and escutcheon as a closet curtain tie back; also, finally hemmed that curtain
  • finally got a bath mat that the bunny won’t destroy
  • sanded and Danish oiled plywood that will soon be a new desktop surface, and a new dresser surface for the guest room
  • organized the closet (what a relief!)
  • touch-up painted around the apartment (more of this to do)
  • hung a world map in the guest room, and strung up all the thank-you notes I’ve received :)
  • re-arranged the bedroom furniture so that there’s enough space for my yoga mat
  • drop a huge load of stuff at goodwill
  • re-organize and clean the back stairwell so it’s no longer scary

These things have kept me busy these last few weeks. I’m realizing how much I enjoy designing and improving my environment. My mood, energy levels, and ability to focus are greatly influenced by my environment, and I feel so much more focused and purposeful. It’s the same feeling as balancing one’s checkbook. Anyway, this weekend I hosted a lovely French couple and their three year-old daughter Aimee. She was so sweet and well-behaved! It was impressive to see how her parents hovered over, constantly encouraging her to talk clearly, walk slowly, and play gently. What lovely people! Saturday night we went to the grocery store together, and they invited me to eat dinner with them. See that lovely salad below – with avocado, tomatillos, and grapefruit!  I tucked in early, then spend all of Sunday in Lakeview celebrating LOVE.

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LOVE makes a family.
Happy #PRIDE!

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A few months ago, I started renting out my spare bedroom on Airbnb! They hooked me up with a super nice photographer who took these lovely shots for free…

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I added some info about us and the neighborhood, and the requests started pouring in!

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Originally, renting out the room was just a way to justify furnishing it (would you believe I only spent about $430 for everything in the room, paid off after 3 visitors!), but it’s also really easy and fun. Most of the guests are young, adventurous, and friendly travelers. Some come to Chicago to visit friends, others pass through on epic road trips, and other just to see the sights. I LOVE Chicago, and introducing it to newcomers is so rewarding. I love hearing where they choose to explore, if they liked my restaurant suggestions, and their insights on the city in general. Plus, I really love hosting and sharing this apartment I love with others. I get the giggles when I put clean towels and new miniature-toiletries out for each guest. And who doesn’t like making a pretty tray with coffee and tea in the morning?

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It sounds odd to invite strangers into your home (and give them the keys!), but it’s actually totally cool. My guests trust us to not harm them in the same way that I trust them to not harm our apartment. Plus, Airbnb offers great insurance. And as you can see, I don’t really have anything worth stealing. My treasured items are my desks, my sewing machine, and of course, Hurricane the bunny:

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Making pancakes from scratch takes about 3 minutes when you know the recipe by heart, and your pantry is stocked and organized.

A closer look at that pantry: repurposed jars for storage, with gold leaf painted lids and matching printed labels.

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My bright & cheery bedroom. It’s tiny that I took down the door and am using it as a headboard. A yellow curtain hangs in front of the doorway if privacy is needed.

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