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Pretty paper.

20 May

One of the most exciting things about being on the client side of photography for me – besides the gorgeous photos – is the delight I feel over pretty packaging. It’s silly but undeniable, unwrapping a ribbon-clad, letterpressed box just makes the whole experience feel delightfully luxurious. I think it’s kind of like websites – if you’re a great photographer, but you’re posting on a blah template that you put no thought into, it takes a little something away from the swoon-worthiness of your photos. Of course, it doesn’t make them bad, and pretty packaging (or a pretty website!) never make up for poor photography. Bet let’s indulge a little, shall we?

I would love to start out by at least having some kind of letterpress business card. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had people offer to pass on my business card, or ask for it personally, even at this early stage in Anni Cee. It may happen slowly (very, very VERY slowly, it feels) but eventually I’ll grow into a collection of pretty paper and packaging. My inspiration right now?

Jordan Ferney, Oh Happy Day

Love the negative space – from Once Wed

by Jessica Hische

We Heart Paper thank-yous

SimpleSong Designs Box

Do you have any pretty paper favorite resources, or extra little flourishes you love?


Spring Spotlight on: Shanna Murray

10 May

Awhile back, I let you in on my love for artist and designer Shanna Murray. She just introduced her spring line, and it’s as gorgeous as ever, so I thought I’d show it off a little here. Her prices are so reasonable, but her pieces instantly brighten up a space. That’s definitely a win-win in my book.

I Love You Beyond Measure Garland

Magnolia Garland

My favorite (aka, save one for me!) laurel chalkboard

I love Shanna’s work, and I hope you do too! Check out her blog to stay up to date on all of her latest happenings.

Workspace inspiration.

9 May

Maybe it’s just the editing-intensive week I’ve had, but I’m dying for a desk and workspace right now. My back is complaining and I’m getting all sorts of upset about this couch editing. The couch is for relaxing, guys! When I start doing all my work there, I get really grumpy fast. And the cats make it a goal to lay on me every which way. And sometimes the dog jumps on the computer. Don’t get me started on how much that slows things down (and gives me a minor heart attack!)

So right now I’m pining over these gorgeous set-ups:

Cynthia Warren (she designed my tattoo and my gorgeous header!)

Simple and sweet, via Studio Sweet Studio.


Gorgeous color, via Urban Tastemakers.

The bedroom conundrum.

14 Apr

A few weeks ago, I showed you our gorgeous apartment. I neglected to include our bedroom in any of those photos, though. Why?

Mostly because we had a decorating budget when we moved in, and it went towards things like our first dining room table (yay!), a new couch (our old one wouldn’t fit up the stairs) and a bookshelf. Because really, hundreds of books stacked against a wall might look creative, but when you have a dog who runs the cat around for fun, they wouldn’t be stacked for long.

Since summer is coming up and we’re fairly certain we’ll be allowed to stay for only an extra $25-$35/month we’ve decided to tackle the bedroom and make it a better place to live once and for all. My issues with it are as follows:

1) It’s about 10×10, with a teeny closet and only one window.

2) Said window looks out onto a brick wall.

3) The paint color we chose to cover the dark brown (!) that was there when we moved in looked like a blush peach under the incandescent tester box at Lowe’s, but in our really, really, REALLY dimly lit room, it looks very pink.

Don’t believe me?

That photo was taken just before noon, when the sun is best in here, with all the lightbulbs on, adjusted white balance, an almost wide-open aperture, and a low shutter speed.

When we moved in, we were coming from a cushy 13×15 room with a normal-sized closet and room to walk around the bed. Being, well, us, we got all excited about the prospect of a new bed, and fell in love with this chunky wood bedframe from West Elm:


It looked gorgeous in the wide-open store, but it’s not so gorgeous when you stub your toe on that corner every single morning because you’re severely near-sighted and can’t clear the itty bitty corner where there’s maybe a foot of space between the radiator and the edge of the bed. Not that I know this from experience, or anything.

So what are we going to do about this?

Well, first and foremost: daylight bulbs. I know it’s not the same as sunlight, and I actually used to hate them. But I really hate how yellow incandescents are in there. I think the yellow tint is fine when you have real daylight to balance it out, but it just doesn’t work in an almost completely dark room.

And then, we’re putting a little money in it. If we’re going to live here for at least two more years, I think it’s worth it!

Chunky bed, goodbye. Hello canopy:


Plain white duvet that we’re too lazy to dress up when the room looks kind of crappy? You’ve been replaced. I don’t have a picture of the actual quilt, because I found it forgotten in the clearance corner of the store from who knows how many months (and markdowns, score!) ago. But my inspiration was this sheet set from Anthropologie:

Also, it needs to be said that we are not DIY people. Never has this been more obvious than when we tried to stain those $20 raw wood Ikea nightstands. We basically gave up on them, and have been using these pathetic excuses for nightstands for almost a year. They’re also really small, with sorry excuses for drawers. So, we’re looking forward to replacing them with a nightstand from Urban Outfitters and a dresser from Ikea:

and to top it off, we’re painting. This is going to be the toughest, because we don’t want a repeat of the shade looking good on the swatch, but not on the walls. We’ll paint little samples, of course, but would love any tips on finding the right shade off the bat. I’m also really terrible with finding inspiration colors and then not being able to match them to swatches well. So here is what we’re going for:



Side note: how freaking cute is that dog? Sunday would look just as cute in that room.

So, this transformation will take awhile to save up for and complete, but I’m looking forward to the process! I would love any tips from you renovation and design goddesses (I’m talking to you, Kelsey, AmandaKristin, and Nicole!)

The rent is too damn high! Plus Mean Stinks.

29 Mar

Well, it will be. Maybe. Do you know what I’m talking about? That cracks me up every time.

It’s no secret that I love our apartment. It’s 650 square feet of gorgeous 1920’s design and quirky architecture. I love the hardwood floors and molding. And I love our living room and dining room, where there’s lots of light. Let’s not talk about the 11×11 bedroom with one window that has a view of a brick wall about a foot away.

Let me give you a little tour:

This is our lovely living room. I adore the arched doorways and the windows. In the spring the trees out in the courtyard bloom with gorgeous white buds. I have no idea what kind of trees they are, but they kind of look like my own little cherry blossoms. I know next to nothing about trees, obviously, but they’re pretty.


And this is our cute nook of a dining room. I really wish it was about five to ten square feet larger so that I could comfortably fit a desk up against the window. Eventually I’d really like to get a desktop computer, but as of right now I have no place to put it. Either way, it’s a gorgeous place to sit down to dinner together and I love our cute little table.

And our living room (and miss Sunday) from the other side. If you look closely at the chair on the left side, you can see Zoey’s heated bed. She never leaves that thing.

Right now, we pay $1275 per month, which is a pretty good rate for what we have. We live in a great neighborhood with lots of shops and nightlife, about two blocks from the lake and Lincoln Park, and we’re only a little over a mile from my campus, so it’s an easy walk. Plus, laundry is free. FREE! No more stupid dryers not finishing on the first $1.90 cycle, and having to decide if I want damp clothes or to pay up. Sunday would like me to add that we’re a short walk away from Wigglyville, her favorite pet store ever.

The scary thing? I’ve been priced out of every apartment I’ve had in Chicago thus far. Back then it didn’t really matter, because my first apartment was absolute chaos for what ended up being a four-person living arrangement (two words: one bathroom) and the second apartment was a two-bedroom we shared with roommates, so it was much too big when we decided to live just the two of us.

We’ve been checking on Craigslist lately to see what things are going for in our area, and it’s not a pretty sight. I’m not sure if the rental market is just doing extraordinarily well because no one can afford to buy right now, or if we just rented a little bit out of our means and should have accounted for this, but I’m terrified that when our awesome landlord asks if we want to renew our lease, there’s going to be a hefty rent raise to go along with it. The problem is it’s really tough to find a decent, dog-friendly building around here, especially because we’re kind of picky people. We looked at about 15 apartments before finding this one, and we’re happy here.

For fellow renters, has this ever happened to you? Do you have any tips for negotiating renewals, or are we just stuck moving if it goes up too much?

On a happier note, my friend Jenna posted about Secret’s Mean Stinks campaign yesterday. (Yep, that’s me!) I love the idea, and wanted to turn around and pass along the love. One person in particular came to mind to highlight:

Steph from Forget Me (Not) is one of my absolute favorite bloggers. She’s sweet and funny, and I’m always excited to see that she’s posted. Her entries are always honest and heartfelt and I know from working with her on Operation Layla that she’s truly a generous person. I also covet her gorgeous red hair!

I love the message of Mean Stinks because I think it really highlights what can be so amazing about social media in spite of the nasty downsides like cyber bullying. I’ve come to “know” so many lovely girls on here, and I wish I could highlight all of you! Thanks for being so amazing.


Brain dump.

27 Mar

Some random musings for your Sunday:

1) I adore Pinterest. I could browse it making little inspiration lists for hours, and it’s actually productive as well, because I can make inspiration boards for upcoming shoots and not have to clutter my desktop with folders like I did for the last one. It’s nice to see everything laid out in a clean format without taking up space on your computer! My favorite way to start mornings now is a cup of coffee and some Pinterest.

It’s great for design, too. I stumbled across this gem from


2) I am so excited for our wedding, but if I could have two (ha) I would want our other wedding to be an elopement to some really romantic location with just us and a photographer. Maybe Paris or Peru. Or Italy. And I would wear this dress from Sarah Seven.  Not because it’s called the Elope Dress, just because I love it. And it’s like a short version of my actual dress, which is kind of funny.


3) It’s 32 degrees in Chicago right now. I know that we usually have some cold days in March, but it’s almost April and the weather needs to get with it already. This is getting ridiculous!

What’s on your mind this Sunday?

Apartment life: the kitchen.

4 Mar

Our apartment is part updated, part original vintage. I love it for that – the luxury of granite countertops, the beauty of the hardwood floors and architecture. I could go into the pain in the ass vintage pipes that left us without hot water for two days this week, two days last month, and the month before… but really, where’s the fun in that?

Apartment-dwellers, and city people in general know the apartment conundrum well: unless you’re rich, or willing to live on the outskirts of the city, you make the most of your space. Which is probably small. Exhibit A? Our kitchen:

See the pile of baking pans and cookware on the top of the refrigerator? That’s their home because we’re out of cabinet space and don’t know where else to put them. But some people (not naming any names, but it was a certain 6’2″ individual who forgets that not everyone can SEE the top of the fridge when they’re opening the freezer door) are a little careless when stacking said bakeware, and our lovely All Clad Copper Core skillet came crashing towards my head the other day.

Don’t worry, I have secret ninja skills and I actually caught it. No bashed heads here!

Anyway, we’ve been considering a kitchen cart. We are sorely lacking counter space as well. Exhibit B:

You try rolling out a pie crust on there! No bueno. So, we’re thinking of getting a kitchen cart. There’s only one place it could go, meaning our garbage can holder would have to go. Which I feel guilty about, because it was a gift. But I think I’m going to cry if I knock over one more plate/bowl/glass/bottle because there’s not enough space to cook a full meal in here!

My favorite part of our whole kitchen? This little nook. Isn’t it fun?

So, any space-saving recommendations? Or kitchen cart raves?

Design envy.

21 Feb

We have one rug in our entire hardwood floored apartment. It’s in the bathroom, because who wants to get out of the shower with no rug? Beyond that, not even the kitchen sink area gets a rug. Why? Partially because I’m prone to tripping when I cook, and the rug we had there from the previous tenants kept getting under my feet. Also because in order to fill our kitchen you just have to stick both arms straight out. Ta-da! You’ve measured out my kitchen. Have I mentioned that we have one counter, and that it’s not even as deep as a regulation counter? Okay, that’s a gripe for another time. (PS, the apartment is worth it because it has gorgeous architecture and a beautiful living room.)

About that living room – it’s the room we poured all of our design dollars into. We moved in with next to no useable furniture after years of living with roommates. Our couch the previous year had been a family friend’s gift, and it was a huge La-Z-Boy style monstrosity. Great for four broke college students sharing a massive two bedroom apartment, not so great for two broke college students sharing a small one bedroom. It wouldn’t even fit in the door to our new building, let alone up the stairs.

Enter our new couch. It’s from Anthropologie, and it’s the antithesis of the tan La-Z-Boy beast of a couch. It’s cute, comfortable, and definitely a statement piece:

I love it, and it works well with our variety of wood finishes (pine, walnut, espresso and white. I’m indecisive) in the room but there’s just not much room for another bold pattern. Which is why I’m sitting here today trying to reconcile by love of this rug via Design*Sponge:

It’s gorgeous and if you look closely, it’s made up of tiles that fit together instead of one big rug, allowing you to create different sizes depending on preference. I love the way they don’t match up completely perfectly, and I love how bold the pattern is. Of course, until we either reupholster the couch (which I wouldn’t do for a long time, because I love it) or move into a place that has a bedroom big enough to actually fit a rug, this won’t work. Sad!

Do you have any design pieces that you are crazy for but just can’t make work in your current home?

Design loves.

28 Nov

Last spring, while we were preparing to do the (seemingly) annual exodus from one apartment to another, I came across the blog and shop of Shanna Murray. She makes decals, cards, stationary, and the like – and lest there be any doubt, she has no idea who I am, let alone that I’m writing this love letter of a blog post to her, so you can be sure that this is all untainted by freebies.

Her holiday cards are to die for as well – true to her style, they’re simple, elegant, and a little indulgent:

We love our wall decal so much (it hangs in our dining room) that it even

made a guest appearance in our engagement photos.

If you guys somehow don’t know that Olivia Leigh took them yet, I’ll

remind you again just because she’s that awesome and you really

should check out her blog.

I think the decal (which you can buy here) adds something special to our tiny little dining room. I love the warmth it lends to the apartment, and the fact that it doesn’t scream “I’m a decal! Look, I peel off!” – in fact, I’ve had several people ask me if it was painted on. So, from a totally geeky art and design lover, check out Shanna’s work! It’s amazing.

Art in an Apartment

24 Nov

I think this applies to all really small spaces – it’s difficult to hang a piece of statement art without it overwhelming the room, and, consequently, the furniture. Which is why I absolutely adore this Chicago home I found on Apartment Therapy:

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