Category Archives: Explore


2016 + 1 Year Anniversary Recap

January 10, 2017


I’m a mite late to the recap game, but I couldn’t help but take my time. It’s been 1 year + 3 months since I got started here and I have to say, I can’t believe it!

I started this blog while job hunting in a new city to keep myself from going crazy with resume edits and job applications. A lot of the posts from this year came out of looking for ways to solve our ‘just starting out’ problems on a minimal savings account. 2016 was also the first year Michael + I were in the same city again after 4 years of long distance college dating! With getting engaged, finding jobs (jobs plural, if anyone is interested in that story), and trying to find a voice for this blog, it was immensely stressful but led to a lot of personal growth.

Minimalist Nail Art: The Wave

And so a huge thank you to all of you for reading + following! This year I’ll be pushing ctrl + curate with more content, better branding, and more engagement with you. Keep me honest everyone 😉 To celebrate the end of 2016, here’s a quick recap of my favorite recipes + diy’s.

wood butter

When I thought about what kinds of posts I wanted ctrl + curate to be known for, I wanted to share diy’s that could be used & adapted for the everyday. These diy’s have had a year of being put to the test, and I can happily say these guys are still going strong!

Oils and waxes in all forms were especially great this year. I’m still using the Winter Hair Care Hot Oil Treatment now during Chicago’s drying cold, wood butter monthly to keep my wood tools supple, and found a new use for December’s beard oil as an Eczema soother.

In the kitchen, our Herb Drying Shelf has helped us build a small collection of dried herbs until the next market season. Cord organizers are tucked all around the house in different sizes to wrangle everything from lighting cords to phone chargers.

My most ambitious project would have to be my sister’s Mini Fridge Makeover! Good lord that was an undertaking. But she’s happy with it and I’m thrilled we could hack the Smeg look for cheap.

And an update about that Chalkboard Candle post from last Valentine’s Day? It worked perfectly with the chalkboard paint all the way to the end. It also makes a great present for this year’s V-day 😉

brussel sprouts

I like to think this blog is mostly useful diy’s, though with the number of recipes I posted this year it’s starting to look a lot like a food blog. Most 2016 dishes were centered around being quick, easy, and healthy with one or two indulgent Dark Chocolate, Red Wine Valentine’s Desserts or Spiced Stout Pancakes.

Doubled amounts of Savory CrepesPasta Al Pomodoro10 Minute Healthy Stirfry, & the balsamic glaze with Roasted Brussels Sprouts make frequent rotations during the workweek for lunch & dinner here.


This category gets the most everyday love from me. I sometimes buy groceries just if they come in glass jars to horde them all. And with the Non-Toxic way to Remove Labels I can have clean, free storage for quiptips, paint, and all the bits and ends!

On workdays I’m up in time and my coffee is strong,  I throw my hair up into a Curly French Twist and take care of my small apartment garden. Those little babies have really grown!

I can’t wait to share more diy’s, recipes, and small space living posts in the new year! A big virtual hug from Chicago to all of you and let’s make 2017 a fantastic year




Create - Explore

Branch Out | 6 Modern DIY Plant Displays

October 13, 2016

branch out modern diy plant displays

I’ve been working on a few Halloween posts, blinked, and now it’s freezing! Time to bring all the plant babies indoors to help them ride out the winter. There’s plenty of creative diy ways to display them indoors. A new home for your plants + a cozy craft day in? Score.

1 | Lampshade to Plant Stand (The Merry Thought)
2 | Leather Plant Hanger (Kinda Lovely)
3 | Copper Plant Stand (Sarah Sherman Samuel)
4 | Plant Bookshelf (Weekday Carnival)
5 | Floating Acrylic Window Shelves (Design Sponge)
6 | Old Clock to Wall Planter (BoligPluss)

Create - Explore

Modern Planters | To Buy & DIY

July 21, 2016

modern planters roundup

So Tuesday was the first post in The Dirt series. You got your spray bottle, the right soil, and are feeling pretty good about starting. Butttttttt your planter options are less than thrilling. Hopefully the first post drove home the importance of planters with drainage.

And while there is a certain appeal to a sill of terracotta (and ease), sometimes a garden needs something a little more. All the planters featured here for buying or diy-ing have drainage or can be easily adapted for drainage! You don’t have to sacrifice function or form. Links below followed by drainage adaptation suggestions.

1 | Concrete Planter (Paper & Stitch, DIY)
These are more of a planter cover. You can keep your plants in the plastic pot they came in and house it in these cute concrete homes.

2 | Self Watering Spun Copper Planter – Second Quality (Yield Design Co., $196)
One of my favorite design companies, and they’re from my home area! Huge shoutout to the beautiful work from Yield Design Co. In setting the ‘new American standard’, they occasionally sell second quality pieces at discounted rates.  This planter has built in drainage!

3 | Floating PVC Pipe Window Planter (A Beautiful Mess, DIY)
When drilling the main holes, just flip the pvc over and add a few, smaller drills to the bottom. You can add a colorful towel underneath as a drainage dish alternative!

4 | Small Freya Plant Hanger (Urban Outfitters, $29)
This hanger works as a hanging drainge dish. Add any pot on top for an interesting hanging piece.

5 | Grid Planter (Recreation Center, $70)
Another US made planter with built in drainage.  Josephine knocks it out of the park with her thoughtful and clever ceramics.

6 | Agave Planter Cozy (POPBYTS, $19)
This cozy keeps any 4″ planter extra adorable. All for adding different patterns & textures to collections, and the agave cozy does just that.


Chicago May Events

April 30, 2016

chicago may events

May 1     Maxwell Street Market
800 S Desplaines St., 7:00 am – 3:00 pm
Maxwell Street Market kickoff! This free market is a mix of live music, yard sale, fod, and… workouts? It’s a little mix of everything for everyone.
more details

May 4    Music Box Garden Grand Opening Party
Music Box Theatre, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
If you haven’t caught a movie at the Music Box Theatre, you need to go. We checked it out for Studio Ghibili’s “Only Yesterday” and were enthralled by the theatre’s charm. They’re celebrating the opening of their garden with free Dablon wine and Bell’s brewery tasting and releasing the spring calendar!
more details

May 8   Mother’s Day/Dose Market
Nico Osteria’s second floor, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Free mini Dose Market to celebrate mom’s! Why guess what to get mom? Take mom to the market and pick her present. Free drink with RSVP.

May 10  Neil deGrasse Tyson
Chicago Theatre, 8:30 om
Neil deGrasse Tyson needs no introduction.
more details + ticket info

May 12  Museum Game Night: Butt Hunt
The Art Institute of Chicago, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Yes, you read that right. SAIC’s Student Musuem Coalition and NAEA Student Chapter host Museum game nights for adults to get loud & weird at the museum. This May, go scavenger hunt for all the famous art butts. And, it’s FREE!
more details

May 15 Lake FX Marketplace
3rd Floor of Chi Culture Center, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Two free Dose Markets in one month? Heck yes. In collaboration with the City of Chicago’s 2016 Lake FX Summit + Expo, Dose brings together Chicago and Midwest food, fashion, film, music & art.

May 21  Food Truck Social
Lincoln Park Zoo, 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Food trucks galore and afterhours zoo. Lincoln Park Zoo hosts a lot a adult nights throughout the year, especially once the weather warms up.
more details + ticket info

May 21-22   Lincoln Park Wine Festival
Jonquil Playlot, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Second annual wine fest brings tastings together in a 2 acre, open air pavilion. Learn about nw wines and food pairings.
more details + ticket info


ICP: Ellipsis Review

April 28, 2016

ellipsis review
ellipsis review

I’m still doing a lot of work from home, so a good work cafe is essential for getting out of the house. Ellipsis Coffeehouse strikes a good balance of inviting and productive work space. They have a great alternative rock playlist and really great service.

If you’re new to the blog or Indie Coffee Passport, hop on over to this post to see what it is, how it works, and how you can start your own coffee adventure.

ellipsis review

Out of all the ICP’s so far, this was the most no-frills. I wouldn’t go out of my way, but it’s still a cafe deeply committed to coffee & their community. Settle in with a baked good from Lovely Bake Shoand enjoy the neighborhood feel. If you’re doing ICP, these are the drinks your passport can get you.

  1. Tea Hot or Iced
  2. Coffee Hot or Iced
  3. Pour Over
  4. Latte Hot or Iced
  5. Espresso
  6. Cappuccino Hot

ellipsis review

What I had:
Pour Over (Counter Culture)
Chocolate Scone

They let me pick between 3 different Counter Culture beans. They have a seasonal rotating list, so be sure to ask about the options! The pour over was pretty good, maybe a bit sour. Couldn’t tell if it was my bean choice or the brewing.

I don’t know what their usual baked good section looks like, but the day I was there the selection was slim. Went with a chocolate scone that ended up being more of a dense cake, but still good. Service was A+.

Next time:
I’ve seen most of the ICP’s serving Rishi or Spirit teas. I love the Spirit teas, and would love to bring a friend to try the Rishi tea flight at Ellipsis.