09 December 2005

losing never looked so good!

Tonight was the Acme Gift/Dusty Bookshelf/Thread Christmas party. We went bowling, drank beer and ate pizza. FYI, I am possibly the world's worst bowler! So, Diane, my boss, had many prizes for us. My object of interest was the LOSER trophy, which the person with the lowest score gets to sign. That's right, folks, I, Nicole Renee Ellis bowled a 30!!!!! Therefore securing myself the trophy rights AND winning the low score bag. Here's a list of my loot:
Kansas City, Missouri t-shirt
mini bottle Sauza tequila
Care Bear bubble bath
Asian Rice Candy
Pocky sticks
Colgate travel toothpaste
Butterfinger flavored chapstick [it's gross]
Farm noise maker_that doesn't make the right noises
Finger Bowling in carry case
pink ring
Asian grape bubble gum
$5.50 movie coupon
200 pesos_miniature form
"Midnight Promise" by Hebby Roman [romance novel]
Winner medal
some other candies
coupon for free custom t-shirt
10 pesos_mini
retro Christmas postcard

I'm pretty pumped about it all. This is the first time I've ever won a prize for being the worst at something!


30 November 2005

opposites attract

not that smile

As the old saying, and a Paula Abdul song go, opposites attract, and Don and I are no exception. For example . . .
_Don's big, I'm little
_Don's great at math and physics but is horrible at spelling, grammar, the linguistic arts. I'm not so good at math and horrible at physics, but possess a super-human knowledge and mastery of the English language, especially in written form.
_Don loves the outdoors/wilderness. I'm an indoor activity kind of girl.
_I'm a great baker/maker of cookies. Don's expertise lies in stove-top cooking and grilling.
_A snowy day is Don's ideal day. I prefer warm temps and sunshine.
_Don is a morning person. I loathe mornings.
_Making the bed, Don style: throw blankets on top, no tucking in. Nicole style: neatly place flat sheet then cotton blanket, straighten, tuck in bottoms, complete with hospital corners.
_My motto: A place for everything and everything in it's place.
Don's Motto: Other things take priority over organization.
_Don could sleep through a tornado/hurricane/tsunami, whereas I wake up at a pin-drop.
_I have a sharp memory and rarely forget things. Don forgets things frequently.
_I keep every receipt, balance my checkbook at least weekly, and check my account daily. Don withdraws money to see how much is in his account and balances never.

As you can see, we're significantly different in many aspects. These polarities are what make our relationship work, though. Because really, if Don always put the ketchup back in the fridge where he got it, what would I have to complain about? That's right, nothing.

28 November 2005

why i hate winter

snow baby
me playing in snow_age 2-ish [i was REAL fat then, and my mom dressed me, so i didn't get cold as easily]

reasons why i hate winter, or rather, why i hate the violent onslaught of winter in kansas_
1_i'm little, therefore i get cold fast
2_temperature differential: you have to keep it hot inside, but it's really cold outside, therefore making your body have to constantly re-adjust
3_runny nose
4_slippery sidewalks
5_slippery roads and scary car experiences
6_having to wear tights or cuddleduds under my jeans - it's awkward, then you get too hot inside
7_if i wear too many shirts, my armpits get too sweaty
8_stocking caps flatten my pretty curly hair

times when i like snow or cold weather:
1_when it's not wet and cold at the same time
2_when i'm wearing proper snow attire
3_when i get to wear my mittens
4_when i don't have to go outside
5_when school gets cancelled
6_when it's sunny and cold out

18 November 2005

stupid questions

bling bling

All right, we all know you're thinking it. As a proactive measure, I've decided to provide answers to that question that I know I will be asked over the holidays. So, if you dare ask "WHEN ARE DON AND NICOLE GETTING ENGAGED?" here's a list of the responses you may receive:

_We're not. We're just going to date for the rest of our lives.

_I believe marriage is just the government's way of tracking two people at once and refuse to be monitored by those criminals.

_When YOU donate some money for a ring.

_As soon as Don gets over his affliction for attractive women and I stop using men for their money so I can feed my gambling addiction.

_We're too young to get married. We can't even pay our own bills.

_When we're someplace more romantic than Manhattan.

_We're not even out of college. Geez!

_When you stop being nosey.

And, my personal favorite:
_Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.

You've been warned. [I had some help with some of these :)]

09 November 2005

little darlin'


This is Makiah. My friends Gabe and Carrie are her parents. I think she's the cutest little girl in the whole world. She likes to make funny faces and silly noises and laugh alot. And she's really chubby. I'm her favorite babysitter.

08 November 2005


binba & me

A picture of my and my Grandpa, Chuck Votapka.
On Sunday, October 30, 2005, my Grandpa passed away. Funeral services were last Friday, November 4. The day was beautiful, the funeral home was full of friends and family, and we listened to Patsy Cline. He is greatly missed and fondly remembered.

25 October 2005

today's thoughts_

keep your laws off my body

men are infants and are emotionally challenged

i don't like working with lazy people

thank goodness for sex and the city

flowers make me happy

i like blankies

24 October 2005

riddle me these_

If I'm helping Don with his philosophy paper, but I do not understand what he is writing, then can I really correct him? [probably, i'm always right]

If we're supposed to be learning so much about healing environments that we become experts about them, but the environment in which we work is in no way healing, are we really learning anything? [doubtful]

If a bus is not in the computer, does it exist? [in some countries, no]

If I had the most kick-ass garden design and exquisite drawings for this damn project, would my teacher still tell me it was shit and give me a D+? [likely]

23 October 2005

and then it hit me...

like a punch in the nuts.
Not really, I just think that line is funny [it's from the movie Sin City]. But, I did encounter a sobering situation today. Remember about a month or so ago when I was super depressed about studio b/c we had just about the worst mid-crit ever, mainly due to a new faculty member who thought he should adopt a personal mission to humiliate us, because, apparently, architecture students aren't people? Anyway, I've only heard negative comments about this person from other students as well. Earlier today when I went upstairs to look at the posted course outlines for architecture theory electives, I came upon something interesting and unfortunate. [I enroll tomorrow, so this is pertinent, I promise.] My career goal is to eliminate the conditions of urban poverty, mainly with architecture, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw that there is a seminar being offered called "Architecture & the Underserved." Complete with a course outline stating that we will cover extremely applicable topics such as grant writing, finding people in need, acquiring volunteers, etc. And then imagine my terror when I realized that it is taught by the previously mentioned staff member. Long story short, I think I'm going to take it b/c if he can actually teach us all the things he promises to, then it will be greatly beneficial to my career skills and personal knowledge. I guess I'll have to put my previous prejudices aside so that I can arm myself with indispensable knowledge about saving the world. Sometimes being a hero is just too much for me. *sigh*

21 October 2005


Ok_so I was in Europe and writing all kinds of interesting things, and now I'm back in Manhattan and feeling all sorry for myself b/c this year is alot harder than I thought it would be. You may be left wondering, what did I take away from my semester in Europe, besides new clothing, a taste for Czech beer and credit card bills? Well, I've been doing some thinking, and decided to share. Because of my time in Prague I:
_discovered my natural hair color
_don't need a guy to open jars, bottles, or twisty objects
_have more confidence in myself
_learned how to just jump into a situation without making any plans...and have fun doing it [for those of you who have known me for awhile, you know that's a big change]
_really want to live urban and move to a big city
_realized I learn languages quite easily
_reaffirmed that there is so much more to life than school and work
_don't hate the outdoors anymore and actually use words like 'pretty' 'beautiful' and 'nice' to describe the weather
_wish air conditioning in the States wasn't so cold
_drive less and walk more
_eat more fruits, veggies, and cheese
_try to avoid foods with alot of preservatives
_have a desire to live in Europe, or maybe Brazil for a length of time
_am more open to alternative forms of government, lifestyles, and understandings
_appreciate American hygeine much more
_am bored with the generic sense of beauty in this country
_have felt slightly lost; somewhat while I was there, somewhat before I went, and somewhat since I came back [I think it's b/c my closest friends weren't there and now we're all doing different things]
_clean less
_have more confidence in my fashion sense and am not afraid to wear colors!
_am a little less serious about things

19 October 2005

does anybody read this anymore?

A little update on the recent events of my life:

friday_project #2 mid-crit. much better than project 1. critics were actually helpful and i don't feel like stabbing myself in the head. susanne gave us the weekend off!

saturday_worked with 2 new girls, anne and leah. they're really fun. we had the most hilarious drunk guy ever come into the store. acme Empire [dusty bookshelf, acme gift & thread] employee campout at Tuttle. made s'mores, drank cider beer, ate polish sausage. bonded w/co-workers.

sunday_ate brunch with my mom. organized my life_something i haven't really been able to do. did some oz stuff and some homework.

monday_had individual meetings with our studio professor. mine went well_i no longer feel like calling her bad names...for the moment. had a tasty dinner at hibachi hut with don & jason.

tuesday_wasted time in floral design lecture. attempted to make an ugly assignment in floral lab not so ugly. spent some time hanging out with laine! worked. a photographer from the collegian came into acme and took some pictures of me working with flowers. ate at rock-a-belly. wasted time talking to people for several hours in studio.

today_gigantic [not so fabulous] picture of me in the collegian from last night. planning presentation_complete waste of time and soooooo annoying. working on studio project, web-design animations, and my portfolio. really enjoying the onset of fall. i feel some digital photo fun coming on.

11 October 2005


Ok, so you might be thinking that I've been a negative Nelly lately [or perhaps negative Nickle]. For the record, I don't really hate my life. I'm more so just making some brutally honest observations. But, not everything is annoying or bad. Here are some good things:
I thought I would gain weight this semester, but it turns out my freakish schedule and lack of money prevent me from eating too much. As it turns out, the stress diet really does work.
I really like most of the people in my studio, especially Molly, Charis and Christina. They are probably my favorite architecture girls.
I'm learning how to make a web page, which will be highly useful in the near future.
In floral design, I'm learning all kinds of things about making corsages and floral arrangements in foam. At work, my flower education is even better. So, in about 10 years from now when it's MY TURN to get married, I'll know how to do everything.
At times, I feel like I'm actually getting things accomplished.
I'm Gabe & Carrie's favorite babysitter for their daughter, Makiah, who is the most gorgeous baby girl in the entire world!
By researching for Oz, I am learning about places I may want to work after graduation. The key is finding some place Don and I agree on.
When Don and I do find time to go on dates, it's extra special since we're usually too busy.
Drinking has become a rareity, but I sure do enjoy it when I find the time.

07 October 2005

Don't you just hate...

When people highlight, underline, or write in library books

that the liquor store doesn't sell mixers or limes or corkscrews

waiting for the inevitable

not having access to your favorite hat and scarf

only hearing bad news on the tv

working really hard and getting horrible results

half-dead flowers

wishy-washy professors or supervisors


being forced to read

Because I DO!

26 September 2005


may 12, 2006 will be the happiest day of my life. [written from studio, 3:20 am, september 26, 2005] this major stopped being fun about 4 days ago.

23 September 2005

i hate studio

i'd rather be walking around prague. or walking around manhattan. or working on my portfolio so i can get a job when i graduate. or researching stuff for oz. or making a website. or sleeping. i hate my life.

03 September 2005

try the lamb

Was missing the flavors of Europe, so Don and I made some Greek food last night_pita bread with humus dip, greek salad, and tomatoes stuffed with lamb. Delicious! I think tonight we might have some eggplant with feta, and of course some more pita and humus. Mmmmmmm...those Greeks know their food.

K-State football starts today_playing Florida International University_whoever they are. GO CATS!

01 September 2005

i heart ACME gift

So I really love my new job. It's as fun as I imagined, and I get to do great things like wrap up bundles of lillies for boys to take to their girlfriends, arrange some flowers in little vases for new babies and moms, and my 'office' smells of lillies all the time. It's pretty great. And I get to watch people come in and play with all the fun toys we have. I help people put together fun gifts, consisting of things like fake mustaches, flasks, pirate eye patches, etc, etc. Also bags of cowgirl goodies. People I know come in and I show them all the things I think they should buy. And I get to meet new people and talk to strangers that I don't know. I LOVE IT! So, come buy some stuff from me_tues & thurs 5-8, sat 3-8. 1227 Moro, Aggieville! Here's my idea for a marketing slogan_
Good boyfriends buy flowers at ACME gift!

Oh, and if you pray, please pray for those in the South who are suffering from the hurricane.

23 August 2005


I am happy to say that I am now a part-time employee of Acme Gift in Aggieville! Very excited about it, and I managed to only have to apply to one place! So, I'll be selling fun little trinkets and arranging flowers, AND working with people my own age! And not staring at a computer screen the whole time. Plus bonuses like I don't have to drive there, my employers hold fun activities like bowling and slushie nights, I don't have to wear a uniform, and the store is cool. Been to almost 2 full days of classes so far. Looking forward to things, especially floral design since we get to keep everything we make [I guess that $120 lab fee better pay for a lot of flowers!]. And...it's good to see all my architecture friends again. Looking forward to having some girls around again to hang out with. Going to KC on Friday for the Jack Johnson concert. Oh, and I've been doing some sewing. That's about it.

28 July 2005


Well, I have a couple things to share. First of all, I just got internet service at my apartment today, so now I have full blog access! Look forward to more random stuff from me.
Secondly, you may have noticed a new link to Oz, [on the right, under Links] the architecture journal of KSU's College of Architecture, Planning, and Design. While I was in Prague, I applied with my friends Jason and Gabe to be editors of the journal for this year, and we were selected. So, I am now officially associated with REAL journalism and very excited about being involved with Oz. Basically, this is what happens_the editors select a theme for the annual journal and contact architects and designers to write articles on this theme. Then, we take those articles and images, turn it into a journal that is published in the summer, and sell them all over the country. Since I know you're all so supportive, I encourage you to check out the website, and if you so desire, you will be able to buy a copy, or donate some funds and you will receive your complimentary copy, and possibly a t-shirt. E-mail me for more info.

21 July 2005


I subscribe to an email newsletter called Archidose. Everyweek, they send me a link to a building they think is cool. Well it just so happens that this week's was my favorite Prague spot_the tunnel under the castle entrance. 'Small world'. Here it is:
_Prague Pedestrian Tunnel

16 July 2005


What have I been doing since my return to Kansas? Well, a better question is what haven't I been doing. The day after I got back, my Mom and I drove to Oberlin, Kansas [15 min to Nebraska border and 1.5 hours to Colorado border] to my grandparents house. A couple days later, Don drove out to join us. This is where the fun begins. One day we went to the Prairie Dog State Park in Norton, to McCook, Nebraska for Mexican food and to drive by the Frank Lloyd Wright house there, and also the soda fountain in Oberlin. And on our last day there, we went to my cousin Tom's farm, and Don got to learn about all kinds of farm stuff, including driving a tractor and petting a bull. I think it's pretty much the highlight of his summer.
On Monday, I moved into my apartment in Manhattan. Then on Thursday I went wedding dress shopping with my friend Darchelle who asked me to be a bridesmaid. Today, Don and I painted his Dad's dining room. So, for those of you who keep thinking that surely Kansas is no match for Europe, now you know that, clearly, Kansas is quite the competitor to Europe.

05 July 2005


Day 1_Zagreb
Croatia's capital city didn't have too much to offer. After a long bus and tram ride, we found our hostel. It was far too warm inside our hostel, so we set out to see the city and find some food. The historic center was nice, and we ate at a restaurant in the shade. Coinciedentally, we arrived on a holiday_National Anti-Facist Resistance Day, so many stores were closed. To escape the heat and curb boredom, we decided to go watch a movie. After purchasing tickets for Madagaskar [animated movie], Don had the clever realization that this particular movie might be dubbed in Croatian. We asked. It was. Switched our tickets to Sahara. Was decent. Nice to give the tourist gig a break for a day.
Day 2_National Park
Plitvice Jezero
Woke early to catch the first bus to Plitvice Jezero, one of Croatia's national parks full of lakes and waterfalls. After a confusing game of musical busses, we were finally on our way. Asked the tourist office at the park for a private accommodation, and a woman came and picked us up and took us to her house. Then she took us back to the park. Spent the day hiking through the woods to see waterfalls and clear lakes. It was stunning! Unfortunately, no swimming or wading. David did find a place to stick his feet in, where the very social fish mistook his feet for bread crumbs.
David's feet
Plitvice in Croatia
Day 3_long hot bus ride
Caught the bus down to Split. After 5 hours of riding, we decide to jump off at a smaller town close to Split, Trogir. Find the tourist office and ask for an apartment. A woman comes and picks us up and takes us to her house where she rents the 2nd and 3rd floors as apartments. Really great_has a kitchen and dining area, balconies and overlooks the coastline. Only problem is it's a few km away from the city center.
Day 4_holiday #2
As this was another Croatian holiday, ferries to islands weren't running on their normal schedule, so the nearby beach that we had our eyes on was a no-go for today. Walked to town for some groceries, ate a picnic lunch on the beach, walked back for dinner groceries, then returned to the apartment. Had a lovely dinner.
Day 5_boat?
Decided to go ahead and try to rent a boat to get to this island with the amazing sand beach. After an extremely long walk, decide to forgo the boat and just hang out at the nice pebble beach we had walked to. Spent the day under a palm tree reading and playing in the water. Great fun. I suggest we call a taxi instead of walking the whole way back. Everyone agrees, but the only problem is finding a place to call from. Ask in a restaurant, and the woman tells us it will take too long for a taxi to come, but she knows a guy who will drive us for a fee. Turns out you can find unofficial transport services pretty much anything in Croatia. Spent our last night hanging out at the apartment and dodging mosquitos.
Day 6_back to Prague
Don and I rode the bus to the Split airport, which turned out to be closer to Trogir than Split. Flew to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, where we caught a train back to Prague. Found out Slovakian is not that different from Czech and I could understand almost as much as I could in Czech.

03 July 2005


tetter totters
We arrived late in Berlin and crashed at our hostel. The next morning we headed out on a walking tour of all the architecture. Berlin is full of great modern buildings and really interesting history. We saw 'Horsehead' [the crazy sculputural thing at the top] by Frank Gehry, Pottsdammer Platz, remains of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Reichstagg [?], embassies, etc. We also went to the Jewish Museum by Daniel Leibeskind [also ? I'm not spell-checking any of this and I don't know German]. It was very cool. We played on these huge teeter-totters in Pottsdammer Platz.
Jewish Museum
Jewish Museum
Sony Center
Sony Center in Berlin
By the way, I made it back safely from Europe! I'm now at my grandma's house in Oberlin. I realized that if you view my page from a PC, it does not show up as beautifully as it does on my Mac, therefore, you may need to adjust some settings to see the pictures as they really look. Or spring for a Mac and make your life more beautiful. Ha.

30 June 2005

Na shledanou Praha!

Castle View
Tonight is my last night in Prague and Europe. Decided the most appropriate send-off would be goulash and beer! I am sad to be leaving. I have had so much fun here and I really love Prague. But, I am really excited to be coming home! I promise to do my best catching up with everyone. And, I plan to keep blogging, so if you're still interested in my glamorous non-European life, keep reading. And, I'll finish my Greece and Croatia stories as well. So, hope you've enjoyed my random-ness, stories, and pictures. Will talk to you again soon from a much closer location!


Day 1_Acropolis
Our boat docked around 5 am and we headed into the city to find our hotel. Dropped off our bags and then headed straight for the Acropolis. We were there fairly early, and got some good views of the Parthenon and the other buildings before the masses of tourists poured in. The Parthenon is amazing, as is the whole Acropolis. They've been restoring all the buildings since 1983_my entire lifetime. A disappointment was that the Temple of Athena Nike had been disassembled and taken to a building for restoration, so we didn't get to see it. In addition to the Acropolis, we also got to explore the other sites associated with it_the Ancient Greek Agora [marketplace], Roman Agora, and Hadrian's Library. We were exhausted and headed back to the hotel. After a minor snag in our hotel reservations [they gave us the shaft], we finally settled in for a nap.
Ancient Agora

Day 2_other ancient sites
Temple of Olympian Zeus
We finished seeing the other sites around the Acropolis like the Theater of Dionysis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Don and I bought some Greek leather sandals. Finished the day with a dinner at a vegetarian restaurant near the Acropolis. Very delicious food.
Acropolis view

Day 3_Olympic disappointment
Athens Olympic stadium
On our first metro ride in Athens, I realized that the 2004 Olympic complex might be fun to go see, as it was designed by Santiago Caltrava, an architect we all enjoy. So today, we decided to ride the metro and go see the stadium. Well, you can't get inside the complex. We took pictures from the outside, and walked around to an area where we could go in a little ways. If these people were smart, they'd charge admission to walk around and see the buildings. Oh well. Made our way to the airport to fly to Berlin.
Athens Olympic stadium

29 June 2005


So Don & I are back in Prague after our fun little excursion to Greece, Berlin [briefly] and Croatia. It was amazing. In order to share my stories and photos, I'm going to blog in installments. The first of those is our time in Iraklio, Crete_that big island in the middle of the ocean that belongs to Greece.

Day 1_beach and food
We arrived very early in the morning, checked into our hotel, and decided we would hit the beach right away. Spent several hours there, swam in the ocean, and got a sunburn. Lots of fun. After a nap and showers, we decided to go eat a large Greek dinner. The staff at our hotel were amazingly hospitable and helpful. We asked the lady at our hotel what restaurants she recommended, and she gave us many suggestions. David is a vegetarian, so we asked if the restaurants had veggie-friendly dishes. She said yes, things like squash, stuffed tomatoes, etc. And, just like in 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' she suggested that maybe David could at least try some lamb. Very amusing. Around 8:30, we wandered in to a restaurant down the street from our hostel. It was strange at first, because we were the only ones there. No big deal, we order and start to eat our amazing dinner. Around 10:00, the locals start to roll in_this is when we learned, Greeks eat really late. We had finished our meal, and our waiter brings us a small carafe and shot glasses_the typical Greek digestive. In addition, he brings us a plate of fruit and dessert_all for free! So, we take our shots, ask the waiter to take one with us, and enjoy the dessert. It was great fun.
first night in Crete

Day 2_Knossos Palace and food
Knossos Palace
Purchased some fruit, bread, and fresh feta cheese for picnic lunch at open market. Also bought large pink hat to protect me from the sun. Headed to Knossos Palace near Iraklio. This palace complex originates from 7000 BC! It's the oldest thing I've seen. Much of the visible structure is dated to about 1400 BC, but it's still really old! The archaeologist who excavated it decided to reconstruct some pieces as he believed they originally looked. Don't know how accurate it is. However, the whole place was huge! We ate our picnic lunch, caught the bus back to Iraklio. Funny thing_our bus was having some problems with stalling whenever the driver stopped. All the locals laughed. The day before, on the way back from the beach, our bus actually quit and we were transferred to another bus. Apparently this is common in Iraklio. We went to see the Venetian fortress along Iraklio's harbor and did some more walking around. Don and I stopped at a cafe and had some water and small snacks. After we had finished, our waitress brings us free shots. We are amazed_this is twice now. David and Sarah said the same thing happened to them. We ate dinner, later this time, at a Mom & Pop-style restaurant, and also received free shots and dessert. We're not sure if this happens to everyone, but we don't think they do it for the locals.
Giant jacks

Day 3_Archaeology museum and boat ride and food
We went to the archaeology museum where many of the artifacts from Knossos Palace are displayed. Pretty interesting. It's hard to believe that so many small items survived for so long. I can only imagine how many there were originally. Walked around the city and found a restaurant to eat a large lunch. Again, we received free shots and dessert_this time the waiter brought us 2 carafes! By the way_these shots are clear liquid made from the leftovers of wine making. The flavor is very strong_I think it's almost like a type of vodka, or perhaps pure alcohol. Anyway, I'm not a big fan of shots, and especially the flavor of these. Luckily, Don and Sarah took the extra ones like rockstars! Later that evening, we made our way to the harbor to board our ship for the overnight trip to Athens. The boat was fun, and our cabin was very nice. David and Don were disappointed to find out that the pool on board was not filled with water, as it was still too chilly for the Greeks. We had a good time and were sad to leave Crete. The people were super-friendly and the view was amazing.

16 June 2005


Just wanted to say hello from GREECE! Stopped in an internet cafe to check the email while we were waiting for stores to open back up after nap time (I don't know the proper spelling for siesta?). Arrived yesterday and headed straight to the beach after checking into our hostel. Got a sunburn. Also played in a beautiful blue ocean! Greece is absolutely gorgeous! And, it's amazing how hospitable and friendly the people are. Even on the way here, in Germany, we actually experienced customer service! Maybe it's just because I've been in the Czech Republic for so long, but everyone in Greece seems unbelievably nice. Today we went to see the Knossos Palace, which dates back to 7000 BC. It's definately the oldest thing I've seen so far. Much older than that church in Italy that was built in 80 AD! Also bought a gigantic pink hat today to shield me from the sun. Pictures to follow. Looking forward to an amazing dinner tonight and a boat ride to Athens tomorrow night. Won't make a habit of blogging too often while I'm here, but I just wanted everyone to know that we made and are having a great time!

14 June 2005

Good news

Official results are in! I passed all my classes! Good news Mom and Dad, my semester wasn't a waste of money and you don't have to kill me when I return home.

beach time

So I'm done with all my classes. That's why I haven't been posting in a while. And, later today, Don and I are headed to Greece and Croatia for 2 weeks! So, you won't see too many posts from me while I'm gone. We're going with another couple from KSU that studied here in Prague this semester, too. But, the plan is to arrive in Crete, Greece tomorrow morning, spend some time seeing ancient ruins and the beach, head up to Athens, Greece for some more of that. Then we fly to Berlin and stay there for 1.5 days. Then we fly to Croatia. [Weird, I know, but it's the fastest, cheapest, and safest way to get from Greece to Croatia. Too many landmines in Bosnia to go that way!] Then we make our way through Croatia, visiting the national park full of waterfalls, the beach, etc. Should be rough. Will post every once in a while to let everyone know that we're ok and having fun. Look forward to some fabulous pictures and stories when I return to Prague on the 27 of June. Oh, and then I come back to the States on July 1. That's all for now.

09 June 2005

homework stinks

it washes right off......
I'd rather be doing this.......[freshman year]

07 June 2005

12 hour paper

Just finished my research paper for Ecology and Urban Space. I found out at 3:00 pm on Tuesday that I had to bring it to my professor at 2:00 pm on Wednesday. I started researching and writing at 4:00 pm Tues, and finished all 12 pages of equations and bullcrap at 4:37 am. 3 hours sleep and I wake up to turn in my Urbanism paper, print the ecology paper, nap and turn in Ecology. No blogs until projects are done, likely. Oh, and Don comes on Saturday the 11. Good night (morning).

06 June 2005

Excellent, Very good, Good, Fair....Fail?

Karlstejn Castle
Karlstejn Castle

Sorry for the delay in updates. I had a couple big deadlines today. My photography project was due, and I got my final grade_excellent [I guess that's an A?]. And, I had my oral final exam for History of Architecture. It involved telling my professor where I was from, where I have travelled this sememster, and then he asked me about architecture in Finland. And then I drew a card and it had a weird building on it I had never seen so I said I didn't know what it was. I received a grade of 'very good'. I probably could have talked about the design of a dog house and passed. I finished writing my paper for Urbanism, now I just have to turn it in to my professor and get a grade. That leaves one more paper, a case study and my studio project in the 7 days I have left.
Now I'll fill you in on the rest of my dad's visit. After the trip to Cesky Krumlov on Wednesday, Dad and I both slept in the next day. I had class at 1:15, and Dad decided to go to the bakery for some breakfast and then do some tram exploring. He rode one tram until the end of the line, then rode another, then found his way back to the Metro. I was impressed that he didn't get lost. After my class we did some shopping. Dad bought himself a pair of Bata [Czech brand of nice shoes, popular in Europe] and a pair for me as well. Did some more shopping and returned to my neighborhood for some dinner. Ate at the basement restaurant, and Dad ordered the Old Bohemian Spit [contains pork, chicken livers and bacon]. He said it was the best meal he had the whole time. I'll take his word for it_I don't eat organs, or anything involving Bohunks and spit.
Friday was his last day, so we took the train to the nearby village of Karlstejn to see the castle there. On the way, we passed by huge fields full of poppy flowers. They were really pretty. My guidebook described the Karlstejn castle as somewhat Disney Land-ish, and now we know why. Although the castle was nice, I preferred Cesky Krumlov. The one thing that really turned me off was the room with wood paneling. The guide told us the original wood panels were all intact and being restored. They were SCREWED into the wall with BRAND NEW brass SCREWS! I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure they just screwed themselves out of the historical value for that room. Whatever. I was done listening to her after that. But it was a fun day. To finish the night off, Dad treated me to a gourmet dinner in a very nice and delicious restaurant. It was fabulous and I ate far too much. Then I woke up at 5:00 Saturday morning to send Dad off on his 7:45 flight. We had a fun time.
Me and Dad
Nicole & Darreld on Charles Bridge

04 June 2005

with love, from Prague

[roadside poppies near Karlstejn]
I woke up at from a dream at 5:00 this morning because I had to take my dad to the airport for his 7:45 flight. I dreamt that I walked into a room and all my close friends were there, and I was so excited to see all of them. I had just finished giving everyone big hugs when I woke up. I really miss you guys and will be so happy to see you when I come back on July 1.

03 June 2005

Cesky Whatsky?

Cesky Krumlov
Dad and I have been pretty busy. And I'm pretty busy working on homework. I'll fill you in on Wednesday's excursion to Cesky Krumlov [pronounced Chesky Kroomlav]. We left early in the morning for our 4 hour train ride to Southern Bohemia to see the magnificent castle at Cesky Krumlov. My guide book claimed it was a 1 km walk from the train station to the castle. I think they are big fat liars. Pretty sure it was at least 5 km, but oh well. So, we stopped and ate some lunch at a little restaurant at the base of the castle. Then we headed up to the castle. This castle is beautiful! It was never pilfered or abandoned for a long period of time, so pretty much all the original furnishings and objects are intact. Now, as an architecture student, I've had to suffer through some ignorant tour guides butchering the architectural descriptions of buildings and such, or saying a column is tuscan when it's really doric, etc [do not take the guided tour of Oak Park, Illinois if you know anything about Frank Lloyd Wright or architecture, because you'll have to hear about 'Japanesie' influences or the 'Wrightie' style]. However, our tour guide was most excellent and knowledgeable on architectural eras as well as historical restoration. Anyway, the history of this castle is very interesting, and one of the coolest things was a gold-plated carriage built in the 1400's that sits in the middle of a room, just as it has for a few hundred years. Quite an enjoyable day.
We caught a train back to Prague around 8:20 pm, and got into Prague just after midnight. This is where my dad's real Prague adventure begins. We run to catch the metro from the train station. Then we ride 2 stops to catch another metro that will take us to a night tram. The metro stops at midnight, meaning they leave the end stations and run the extent of the line, so if you are in the middle of the line slightly after midnight, you can usually catch a train to somewhere. We caught the tram from Wenceslas Square, which is Prague's red light district at night time. So Dad got to play the dodge-the-lowlife game while eating a sandwich from the street vendors and waiting for the night tram. I think it was interesting for him. We were exhausted and went to bed around 2:00.
Round-window arch action arches_Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov

31 May 2005

Good morning comrades

The morning began with my History and Theory of Urbanism class [my favorite]. While I was in class, Dad set out on his own to find some breakfast in the neighborhood. He successfully purchased some pastries and orange juice, as he was dissatisfied the the speed and quality of the hotel breakfast. Then we set out for our day of Prague touring. First was the TV tower, which looks like it's from the Jetsons movie. And it has statues of babies crawling all over it. Long story. Went up to viewing level and saw 360 view of Prague. Then we wandered to Zizkov Hill, so I could take pictures of it for my Urbanism project. Long hike.
The highlight of the day, however, was awaiting us at the Museum of Communism. We went not really knowing what to expect, and it was really educational and interesting to learn about the history of Communism in the Czech Republic. There was also a movie with footage of the revolution protests and riots between 1969 and 1989, and it was extremely moving/strange to see police beating masses of people in the streets that I walk through everyday. Prague is so safe and normal now, I can't imagine how crappy it was to live here during the occupation. Decades of oppression from a goverment you don't support, being forced to vote, encouraged to send innocent people to jail. The whole reality of Communism is just very strange. Here's a quote from my favorite museum ad poster: 'We'd like to join our western sisters in burning our bras......if only the stores would carry them.' And another bit of irony, the Communist museum is located next to a McDonald's and inside a casino! Oh Capitalism.
We wandered over to the Municipal House, a facy Art Nouveau concert hall. Walked around the free area and had a beverage in the cafe. Then we walked along the river on our way to the Thai restaurant for dinner. This was my dad's first time to try Thai food. He liked it, but was surprised by the heat. Tomorrow holds a long-distance excursion to Cesky Krumlov.

Prague Tv Tower
TV tower
National Monument
National Monument with Jan Zizka statue on Zizkov Hill
Municipal Hall
Municipal Hall

30 May 2005

Dad time

My Dad arrived in Prague yesterday to visit me for a week. For those of you who don't know, this was his first journey outside the United States. After a very long plane ride from Chicago to Brussels, Belgium, and a short one from Brussels to Prague, I treated him to some Czech goulash and beer. Then he took a nap. After the nap, he was ready to go see some stuff, so we walked through the Jewish quarter, Old Town square, Wenceslas square, and the Charles bridge. On the bridge we saw my friends Garnet and Taco, so Dad met them. We ate at Klub Architektu for dinner, and sat with a couple from Canada. The man was an architect [not unusual at this restaurant, due to the name] and they were really fun to talk to. Then it was off to bed. Oh, and he also brought me lots of goodies_Marilyn's snickerdoodles [my favorite], m&m's, oreos, ritz bitz cheese sandwiches, gum, candy, and a few dvd's!
Today we set out early to go see Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. The weather was quite balmy again, so we were having a hard time staying cool. Bought some gelatto [Italian ice cream]. Rode the Metro to Vysehrad, the other castle, and saw the cathedral there. It's beautiful inside! Just as we were about to leave, the wind picks up [and by picks up I mean RIPS through!] and a rain and HAIL storm dumps on Prague! We stayed in the cathedral until it was over. Had we been in Kansas, a tornado definately would have followed. Then, I realized that Tiffany and I had probably left the windows open in our dorm room since it was hotter than the blazes today! Yup, we sure did, and wouldn't you know that our desks that have our laptops on them are right in front of our window! We had a large puddle in our room, but thankfully both laptops are ok! But, dad and I ate some Mexican, or Czexican as I like to call it, food tonight. That's about all so far.

27 May 2005


pearly gates
The big boat party was last night, and the theme was "Heaven & Hell." Tiffany and I went as 'the pearly gates' because we didn't want to dress up like angels or devils, and really just wanted to drape ourselves in jewels. Some highlights of the night were seeing all of our friends in one place, the ridiculous costumes, and seeing the majority of Prague from the Vltava River. The Scottish boys Paul, Stephen, & Paul dressed up as devils, but not just any devils, ones in spandex hot pants. This was one of the funniest things I've seen. The other Scottish friends came as a banana, the dorm, and a mixture of rockstar/drag queen attire. There were so many people there, some I had never seen before. Although it was fun, there was also a large group of really annoying people and creepy weirdos. Infact, we had to leave the boat earlier than planned because some people thought it would be fun to throw a table and chairs into the river. Not cool. So we headed to Nebe, which in Czech means "heaven," ironically. It was super crowded and full of annoying drunk people. Decided to leave fairly early. And on a disappointing note, we did not witness any streaking [apparently it's a tradition, started by KSU students, to run across the Charles Bridge naked after the boat party]. Oh well.
tanner & nicole
Tanner 'prince of darkness' Pikop and me
Scottish friend Greig, as some sort of fairy princess in the metro
Paul, Taco, and Stephen
Scottish friend John, glam-rock superstar

25 May 2005

show and tell

Some sites of interest_hit them up when you have a moment:

Northwest naturalist_Cutler Anderson Architects I heard James Cutler speak at KSU and he moved me to tears.
An old favorite is Lake Flato Architects located in San Antonio, TX. Don insists Texas is an atrocious place to live, so I doubt I'll work for these guys.
A local goody, with ties to KSU el dorado 'we have no mission statement' architects This site is pretty hilarious. They recently updated. I recommend reading the part about dogs.
Amazing photography [although slightly expensive] Black Dog Photography is based in KC as well. I love great photographs.
My new favorite clothing store promod here in Prague. They've been taking alot of my money lately.
Hand printed textiles at Sejto Beautiful pieces.
A great Czech reference site can be found at My Czech Republic in case you want to know some more things about the place I live.
Another blog that is really interesting is PostSecret I don't recommend this if you are easily offended or disturbed_some of it is pretty sad. It is however, very interesting. Actually, I don't recommend this for most of the adults I know. It will bother most of you.

So, lately I've been wasting my time on the internet, but also found time to fail a test, do some shopping, some homework, and ate some cereal, and I've worked out a couple days. Don't worry, nothing too strenuous. And learning a bit about html code [that means learning how to incorporate these links into this post]. Soooooooo exciting.

23 May 2005

good times

Some pictures with the KSU Italy friends when they came to Prague
Aaron Schump (prague), Nicole Ellis, Ryan Welch (italy) at Nebe
Hey Welch_DOUBLE IT!

Tanner Pikop (prague), Ryan Welch (italy), Nicole Ellis, Aaron Schump (prague), Tim Jonas (italy) at Nebe

Hott babes! Tiffany and Nicole

21 May 2005


Finished reading 'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.' Great book. Sat out in sun and 75 degree 'heat' for a couple hours and studied for my Ecology and Urban Space test with Aaron. Biosphere, Lithosphere, who cares. Booooooring! The book is full of charts and diagrams. I'd like a chart/diagram on my attention span and capacity to retain that information. Probability=5%. Attempted a couple crossword puzzles. Went on dinner date with Adam and Aaron to Picante for nachos. Delicious. Saw flatmate Savanna and her Scottish boyfriend Ian on the Metro. They just got done skydiving. Real smart, she has mono and probably bronchitis. Yeah, by the way, 2 of my flatmates have mono. Neither one is very careful about taking it easy. I like to call it immature and irresponsible. Po-tay-to, po-tot-oe, whatever. Ate Starburst. Watched Grosse Pointe Blank while working on studio project. Hilarious. Talked to Don through Skype instant messenger. Was feeling ornery and decided to give him crap. One of my favorite activities. More studio work. Wasted time on facebook, and now I'm wasting time telling you suckers about my uneventful day. Anything for a laugh. [Yes Mom, I promise I took my medicine today.] For an entertaining account of some of yesterday's events, I recommend reading Tiffany's blog. It's a good one!

p.s. The funny thing about this blog business is that the readers are at the mercy of my random thoughts and supposed need to share things about myself. So, for any of you who may pay a professional to listen to you and give minimal feedback, I recommend pocketing that cash and using the FREE services of blogger.com. It's free therapy, you don't have to leave home [or get dressed for that matter], and you don't have some weirdo nodding at you while you wonder how they're judging you. [And if you don't like the comments, you can delete them.] I think I've had too much sugar today.

20 May 2005

spring sunshine

Yesterday I was a little sad and homesick. But today I'm feeling better. For one thing, the sun is shining and it's a nice warm day. Don is back from Sweden so I can talk to him again. I missed him for the 4 days he was gone. Is that pathetic? I'd like to say that it's not. And, I got a package in the mail from Julia. She made me a pillow and sent Starburst and Reese's Peanut Butter cups! I loves me some American junk food!
More random info: Paul's 20th birthday is tomorrow. He's going skydiving. Could be fun, but I just don't trust Czech parachutes. Next Friday there's an end of the year boat party for all the international students. We float down the Vltava River for 3 hours and then dock and party for a few more hours. They have decided there should be a theme for this party, and someone thought it would be a good idea to choose Heaven & Hell. Tiffany and I don't really want to dress up like an angel or a devil, so we were thinking of alternative costumes. Idea #1: get a bunch of pearl necklaces and be 'the pearly gates'. Idea #2: nuns, however, we don't want to offend anyone as we would be drinking nuns. That's as far as we got. Any ideas?

19 May 2005


I miss home. And I miss Don. Alot.

18 May 2005

party's over

The last of the Italy visitors left this morning. Scott and Kristin were here for a couple days, and we hung out and had a pretty good time. Group of friends went to Vienna and another group to Budapest. I am stuck here because I have a massive amount of homework to do in an ever-dwindling time frame. So, it's back to the books for me. I did get a haircut yesterday, and I must say that I am pleased with the results. So that's good. The weather here has sucked the past 2 days. The high today was 48. BRRRRRRR. I leave you with some thoughts:

When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable._Clifton Fadiman

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep & permanent, in the ideas of living._Miriam Beard

16 May 2005


From studying in Prague this semester I:

Can open jars and bottles by myself_no man needed!
Have learned to navigate a large city and public transportation
Met some really great people, especially from Scotland
Am learning about Urban Design
Know more world history
Can say "Do you speak English" in several languages
Know how to use a travel guidebook to its fullest advantage
Have overcome some germ phobias
Have forced myself to wear clothing more than once
Am learning how to minimize household waste
Am living without television
Talk to my Dad more often than when I'm in Manhattan
Correspond with family and friends I haven't seen in a while
Am maximizing my Aveda supply and going a long time without a haircut
Have learned to appreciate American luxuries such as deoderant, Ranch dressing, marshmellows
Have gained an appreciation for other cultures
Am learning alot about communism and alternative forms of government
Know more about the stigma attached to America
Believe that all humans have innate similarities that bind us together
Have learned alot about myself
Confirmed that I can live without Don, but I'd really rather be with him
Have decided that friendships, family and having fun are more important than getting excellent grades_especially in studio!
Actually miss Manhattan, Kansas
Have learned that there are more important things than work and 'success'
Know that I will come back to Europe and have permanently caught the travel bug

15 May 2005

World Champions

The world hockey finals were tonight, and the Czech Republic and Canada were commpeting for Gold. Well, the Czechs beat the Canadians, 3-0! Naturally, the Czechs are pretty excited, and we've heard a lot of noise coming from outside. There is bound to be some craziness in the streets, however, I'm going to pass that up. Anyway, kind of exciting.

14 May 2005

This one's for my girls


Today is graduation day for many of my friends. Although I'm sad they are leaving me, I am so very, very proud of them. As you may know, I've known alot of them for most of my life, and have also gone to school with them for 10-17 years. Infact, Darchelle and I held hands as we climbed onto the school bus for our first day of Kindergarten. We've all been there for each other through tests, heartaches, auditions, performances, and many other milestones. Yvonne and I were roommates freshman year, and Laine and I sophomore through senior year. Elizabeth is the brave one, who left Kansas to go to school in Quincy, Illinois. Now she and Darchelle are going to Grad school. And, I know a couple of you aren't quite done yet, but I wanted you to know how much I love you and appreciate you. I wish I could be there to celebrate with you, but we'll just have to do some extra celebrating when I come home. Your friendships are priceless to me!

So, to Laine, Darchelle, Elizabeth, Yvonne, Marc, James, Laura, Justin, Chris, Kenny, Barry, 5th year architecture grads, and anyone I may have forgotten, CONGRATULATIONS!

13 May 2005

Double it!

Last night was my first night of all out crazy late night partying in Prague. Yes, this is sad since I've been here for a while, but coming home at 4:30 in the morning in the cold just wasn't that appealing to me before. What makes things so different now, besides the slight rise in temperature? Well, for the next week or so, Prague is being invaded by K-State students. About 8 of our friends from Italy and Germany came into town last night. So, we all went out for some fun.
First, we went to the "Cave bar" as everyone likes to call it, which is this maze of rooms that goes underground about 4 floors. It's really cool. Had a drink there, and headed over to Nebe, the cool, happening place. At Nebe, they actually play good music, none of which was recorded in the 1980's! So, some friends, some drinks and alot of dancing made for a fun night. We were rolling about 20 deep when we got to the club, and met up with several Scottish and other international friends. However, as the night progressed, people started to filter out, and the group on my return trip to the dorm was about 8. Was a fun night. Introduced the kids who had been studying in Italy to the best Czech after drinking snack_smazeny syr [that's a fried cheese sandwich in English]. They enjoyed, and a good time was had by all. Think I will try to get my 'old' self out to some more socializing with the time I have left. I say old, because many of the kids here are 19 or 20, and are working all that crazy partying out of their systems, where as I have lived my 'wild days' already. I realize my parents and their peers are lauging about this, however, it doesn't bother me. Anyway, some more festivities are planned for tonight, however, I think Tiffany and I will be returning earlier than the normal 4:30. Anyway, this post was supposed to be short and it is becoming too long, so I will end. Any questions about transportation or partying in Prague can be directed to me through comments or emails.

Here's the photo project:

12 May 2005

um......are you serious?

Picture for my final photo project

Here's a mental picture for everyone_
I came home Monday to a note on my door. It was written in Czech. After some rough internet translation with little results, my flatmate Miika told us it meant that people were coming to wash our windows on Tuesday. Awesome, they're not even dirty. We prepare by cleaning off our desks and locking computers in the drawers. Tuesday comes and goes, and no window washers. It may have had something to do with the fact that our dorm ran out of hot water Tuesday morning. Wednesday, no window washers, but the cleaning lady comes late. [Did I mention we have a woman who comes and 'mops' our floors? Her B.O. has a tendency to linger in the room for hours after she's gone, so Tiffany and I lock her out.] Thursday morning, no window washers. As we are preparing to leave for some grocery shopping, we hear a knock on the door. Surprise! Window washers! Luckily, due to my keen intuition, we had locked the computers up again. A woman wearing 'capri' pants and Keds-like tennis shoes comes into our room. She sets her bucket on my desk, slips her shoes off, and climbs onto my desk with her bare feet. For a near 10 minutes, she washes our windows, including sticking half her body out the window to reach the outside. Uses same rag to 'wipe' off my desk. Those of you who know me well know that I HATE feet, especially smelly ones belonging to strangers. Needless to say, my desk was still littered with footprints, and although she was not as putrid as our cleaning lady, she wasn't April fresh. I cleaned it up, no big deal. But, you may be asking yourself, 'Why would they decide to come wash windows when we only have 1.5 months left of school?' Don't worry, I'm perplexed as well.

11 May 2005

fat american

the goods
Originally uploaded by holacola.
So, as Tiffany was browsing the Prague weather site, she found links on it to info about Prague. Someone suggested this store/to-go restaurant called Culinaria that sells American favorites such as Pop Tarts, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Doritos, Goldfish, etc. Well, let me tell you, it was a delight! Not only did they have several favorites [for a price, of course] but they also had some amazing looking cakes and take-home salads, quiches, and other delights. Fantastic. We realized why Americans are fat now... it's because we eat alot of crap. Also found some other interesting stores by taking some side roads_good jewelry store and a fun housewares store. Anyway, I would classify today as fairly successful.

09 May 2005

food for thought

'Never compromise yourself; you're all you've got.'_Janis Joplin

'If you judge people, you don't have time to love them.'_Mother Theresa

'People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but someone will never forget how you made them feel.'_?

'Don't sacrifice your virtues for the sake of popularity.'_Me

'I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.'_Oprah Winfrey

'Whether one is Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian, how you live your life is proof that you are or not fully His. We cannot condemn or judge or pass words that will hurt people. We don't know in what way God is appearing to that soul and what God is drawing that soul to; therefor, who are we to condemn anybody?'_Mother Theresa

'At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, nor winning one more verdict, nor closing one more deal. You WILL regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child or a parent.'_Barbara Bush


'All you need is love...'_John Lennon

08 May 2005


Originally uploaded by holacola.
This weekend was the 60th anniversary of VE-Day, or the end of WWII in Europe. There were various celebrations this weekend all over Prague. Yesterday, Tiffany and I went with her Czech buddy Michal to a battle re-enactment. Although we were too short to see most of it above the crowd, we certainly heard all of it. They were pumping sounds through speakers, and the 'soldiers' were shooting blanks out of their guns. We did catch a glimpse of the tank and other tall vehicles. It was exciting. I'm not sure how many or how extreme any battles in Prague were, but I do know that American and Russian troops came from both sides of the country to defeat the Nazi occupation. Anyway, there were actors dressed up as Allied troops and as Nazis. One scary thing was the skinheads [present day Nazis] who thought the Nazi actor was cool. Yikes.
Anyway, tonight there was a large fireworks show above the river, so a bunch of us went down to Old Town to watch. It was very cool. The fireworks were being shot off from one of the islands in the river and were choreographed to a music program played through speakers. It rivaled some July 4 shows I've seen. I'm really glad I was here to experinece it. And, I'm thankful that this country is no longer occupied: Nazis or Communists.

Thought for the weekend:
God bless the soldiers, Jews and other innocent civilians who perished in WWII, and bless those who are fighting today. In a world of uncertainty and violence, prayer affords us certainty and peace, if only peace of mind. However, I believe it works.
And God bless mothers, who deserve our love and our prayers for all of theirs'.