13 December 2006


For some reason, there do not seem to be enough hours in the day for me to accomplish the things I need to. This makes no sense to me, as architecture school is over and I have free time and hobbies and enjoyment of life again. Am I a slacker? Am I lazy? Am I the only person who is generally really tired when they get home from work everynight? Is this what getting older is all about? Boo, I say. It's only recently that this has been a problem, which is maybe due to the rapidly approaching holiday. I have no idea how people work 2 jobs. I guess you just do what you gotta. And I can't even begin to comprehend how people take care of children and work. I guess I've got a lot of growing up to do...

Maybe this is irrelevant...

09 November 2006

all i want for Christmas...

is a Lexus that parallel parks itself. Seriously...have you seen the commercial for this magic automobile? I consider myself to be a fairly competent and capable driver [most days], but one thing I've yet to master is the parking in a parallel manner. My mother would say this is because I did that fancy, 4 day driving school instead of a boring summer of high school driver's ed. Please, by the time I got my restricted driver's license I had more driving hours/miles than a damn taxi driver. I learned to drive at age 12, in an ancient Nissan station wagon, stick shift, on a dirt road outside of Oberlin, Kansas. As soon as I turned 14, I went to the DMV and got my restricted license. And my Dad made sure I drove EVERYWHERE. Not to mention, my first car, charming, fabulous Italian sports car that it is, required that I master a technique called "double clutching." For those of you who have been deprived the luxury of driving a farm vehicle or a sports car with a crappy transmission, this is what you do when your gears having timing issues. So, needless to say, I know my way around a vehicle, as well as the road. What I don't know my way around are two cars parked parallel to the curb with just enough space for a compact car to squeeze between. I'm going to blame this flaw on the city of Topeka, Kansas, where a kid can pretty much avoid parallel parking. And maybe a little on my dad, for not yelling at me until I got it right. But I digress; why do I need a new, fancy, self-parallel parking Lexus when I don't even drive that much in Chicago? Because there are alot of parallel spots in the city. So really, if you could just find it in your heart, or bank account to bring me one, I'd be eternally grateful.

03 October 2006

hello friend

sofa front
The long anticipated arrival of our sofa has finally come. This past Friday, I had to take a long lunch so that our sofa [the store calls him Andre] could be delivered. This picture is how it looked fresh off the truck, which is why the cushions look a little fluffy. What took so long? We custom ordered the fabric, so it took longer to build. Not only is it beautiful, it's also comfortable! We've already napped on it.

sofa side
Notice how crappy the tv looks on the rubbermaid tub. That will be remedied soon, as well.

27 September 2006


Fish vs. Jeffrey

Anyone? Anyone?
I don't know how many of you watch Project Runway, but to me, the resemblance is uncanny. Uncanny folks. Miss you Aaron.

26 September 2006


Today I became a true Chicagoan.

Not only did I have a cinnamon roll from Ann Sather's Bakery [they're divine], but I finally attended a Cubs game at Wrigley Field! It was magical. It was legendary. And the Cubs won! I love this city!

25 September 2006

home improvement

To compensate for my blogging laziness, a moment in my domestic bliss_

Our disaster pantry BEFORE
Pantry, before
[note the step-stool, circa 1980]

And...our pantry AFTER a trip to Home Depot and a little work with the drill
Pantry, after

Brings new meaning to "You can do it. We can help."


Get excited, kids! The big day is Friday. The big event is the delivery of our new SOFA! Found out Saturday that it is finished and ready to be delivered. Pictures will be distributed. Best of all, we have more than one comfortable place to sit. Grace will have a friend. AND, the sorry excuse for a bean bag will be gone! And I will finally have no excuse for not taking pictures of the apartment due to a lack of furniture. Mmmmm, afternoon naps on a big, comfy sofa!

21 September 2006

blogging [defined]

IZZE_a delicious drink made purely of juice and sparkling water. Click Here for Izze.
Jewel-Osco_A chain of grocery stores in the region. Most of you are familiar with Osco Drug [now CVS, grrrrrrr]. Jewel-Osco is the incoporation of groceries + drugs.
Cub Foods_A Food-4-Less like grocery store.
crepes_rhymes with grape; like the paper you decorate with. These are pancake-like treats that you usually top or fill with other delicious goodness. Betty Crocker has a delicious recipe for them.
Nutella_"The original, creamy, chocolaty hazelnut spread" Click Here for everything you ever need to know.

This weekend brings the promise of more interesting blogs - I swear.

14 September 2006

bone to pick

I thoroughly enjoy IZZE sparkling juice. It is somewhat of a luxury item [$4-5 for a 4 pack], so I try to limit my purchase. What I would like to know is why Jewel-Osco and Cub Foods do not feel obligated to carry such a delicious treat. Simply preposterous if you ask me.
Also, I had planned to make crepes for dessert last night. I purchased heavy cream for fresh whipped cream, strawberries, and was hoping to surprise Don with Nutella to accompany these delicious items. [For those of you unfortunate souls who are unfamiliar with Nutella, it is a hazelnut spread. Imagine the consistency of peanut butter, but with a chocolatey-nutty flavor. Those Italians are geniuses.] But is my local Jewel-Osco a purveyor of this fine good? NO! Even freaking Dillons sells Nutella. What a bunch of crap.

05 September 2006

Spread no hate.

Speak no evil.

Pass no judgement.

These three simple phrases are the code of conduct for our home. Unfortunately, Don and I discovered this is something we needed to establish. Anyone who can conduct themselves accordingly is welcome in our home.

18 August 2006


Pardon my blogging absence, but this whole adjusting to a new home and life thing takes up alot of time. [And Don insists on my undivided attention.] Now, a little lesson in how to interview oneself_

Readers_So Nicole, how do you like Chicago?
Nicole_Well, it's everything I thought it would be. There's so much to do and see all the time. I'm really enjoying living in an urban environment all the time.

R_And how about that fabulous apartment we've been hearing about.
N_Yes, we love our apartment! It's in an old shoe factory that's been converted to lofts. We have exposed brick walls, wood truss ceiling, and the entire south wall is windows. But the very best part is our view_Sears Tower and all of downtown. I promise to post pictures once we get things a little more together.

R_You're a working woman now. How's that?
N_I like my job alot. I went from having little responsibility to have alot of duties in about a weeks time. But, the only real way to learn is to dive right in. Most of our projects are modest home remodels or additions, which is a nice change from banks and medical facilities, and especially theoretical school stuff. My boss runs the firm in the same way I've always thought an architecture firm should be managed.

R_Describe your typical day.
N_I can arrive at work anytime between 8-9. Those who know me well realize that this is conducive with my very casual internal clock. I ride the bus or the El, whichever comes first, to work everyday. It's only one stop on the El. It's about a 4 block walk from the El/bus stop to the office. On the way I usually stop at Alliance Bakery for a latte and pastry. It's one of those real bakeries with fabulous cakes in the window and everything. I do various things in the office, which I might add, is pretty casual. Sometimes my boss wears shorts to work. I can take lunch whenever I want. I thoroughly enjoy Milk & Honey Cafe across the street. Some days I go to the flower shop down the street and buy flowers for my desk. Or I stop by one of the clothing boutiques or paper goods stores. I've even taken a mid-afternoon break for gelatto a copule times. I pretty much love it.

*more pertinent blogs to follow soon. promise.*

28 July 2006

Emily vs. Steven

An actual billboard in downtown Chicago.

28 June 2006

love, in grey flannel

Behold, the newest member of our family, Grace. Grace comes to us from Room & Board, a fabulous furniture store. We've been longing to have Grace in our home since we first saw her in March, and now she's finally here! Thanks to Don's mom, we now have a lovely place to sit. When it comes to home furnishings, it's hard to beat the timeless lines of mid-century design. Say hello to our new friend!

26 June 2006

sweet home chicago

[view from my apartment]

I know, I know. I've been lazy about posting since I moved to Chicago. There's just been so much to do, that it hasn't been a priority. And I had to find the cable to transfer pictures to my laptop. With that said, here's what's been happening in my new city.
The trip here went smoothly. My Dad and I loaded a 5x8 Uhaul trailer and the bed of his truck [with cover on] with Don and my furniture and boxes. The only furniture we have is a bed, nightstand, bookshelf, desk, and one slightly deflated bean bag. Plus four wood folding chairs. We've chosen to be minimalists until we can buy what we really want, piece by piece.
I arrived on Saturday June 10. On Monday the 12th, I had a job interview. I went in not knowing much about the firm, except that they are really small and do some residential. I left really liking their work and the people. They do alot of residential work, but what I would call 'architecture for normal people.' Most of their clients are middle class families that never considered that they would be able to afford an architect. The firm is also very pro-socially conscious design. On Wednesday they offered me a job! I start July 10.
[daytime view from my apartment]
With the job search out of the way, Don and I have been enjoying the city. We attended a performance of the Joffrey Ballet! Another fabulous discovery was Greek Town, with it's signs written in Greek, market selling fresh feta and olives, delightful little bakeries. I learned what a crazy task it is to drive in the city, or to try and drive out of it.
So, I love this city. I love our apartment. I love having time to enjoy life again.
[eric, this is for you_my vintage favorites]

05 June 2006

semester in review

I did it. I graduated from college. My blog posts were lacking during the final semester, so I owe you a summary. Here's what happened during my last semester of college_

January 13_I began the semester enthused. That enthusiasm was abruptly squandered the first day of studio when my instructor told us our search for employment should in no manner interfere with school, and that basically our job searches wouldn't be supported. Boo.
February 14_Acme Gift turned into a wonderland of flowers. I skipped studio to help fill all of our flower orders. I loved it!
March 11_Laine and I threw Darchelle the classiest of bridal showers. We got to try out our event planning skills and ideas. It was a success.
March 20_Upon my stubborn insisting, Don and I drove through a spring blizzard to Chicago. He found out that when I decide to do something, nothing can stop me. I had decided we were going to Chicago and finding jobs. We spent time with my dear friend Elizabeth, and found 2 new dear friends in Mike & Mindy Viamontes. Boldly, we marched ourselves around the city and knocked on several architectural doors in search of careers. Although some optimistic prospects evolved, no instant jobs were found. What was found was some of the best sushi, pizza and beer in Chicago!
April 13_One month until graduation and I turned 23. Nothing too eventful.
April 20_A flying trip back to Chicago for interviews and the Chicago Women in Architecture Brunch. Don had scored 2 interviews, and I had one. Mine went very well, but not as good as Don's. He received 2 job offers, both during the interview. He decided to accept the offer from Krueck + Sexton, one of the very best firms in Chicago. On Sunday, Mindy & I attended the Chicago Women in Architecture brunch. The event was wonderful. This trip also gave me the discovery of THE very best flower shop in Chicago, we spent a little bit of time with Don’s mom, stayed with Mike & Mindy, and finally an apartment after a disappointing search.
May 9_Beautiful little Makiah turned 1, and we celebrated with cupcakes and a messy, messy little girl.
May 13_Graduation! Don and I had a big party with lots of family to celebrate. My friend Chris also got married the same day and we had fun at the reception.
May 19_My last day at Acme Gift. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sad to leave a job. It’s been one of my very favorite things about this year. Diane and David were wonderful “bosses” and I loved working for them.

Since then, Don and I have been packing and preparing for Chicago. Don started work last Tuesday, and I move there on June 10. Talk about an eventful few months.

02 June 2006

strap one on and call me mister

$10 bucks says my entire day/evening was more exciting than yours. The day started early with my big pre-moving garage sale. I made a monumental $85 for myself, $57 for my mother, and $40 for Al & Julia. That's a hell of garage sale. To top that off, we loaded up the leftovers and took them straight to Goodwill. What's more exciting than that? Just you wait. My mom and I went out to a bar/restaurant for TGIF with one of my mom's best friends, Sue, and some other ladies. After chugging 1.5 local brews [they went down as smooth as a cold Staropramen in Prague], I was a weeeeee bit buzzed. Sue asked everyone what they wanted to do next. The options were as follows: 1.attend a Passions party 2.attend Hawkfest 3.go see a movie. No one voted for the movie, most people voted for the Hawkfest, which is a free jazz festival, and some people voted for the Passions party. So Sue decided we would crash the Passions party and then go to Hawkfest. What is a Passions party you ask? Well, it's like Tupperware or Mary Kay, except with dildos and lubes and edible lotion. That's right. I went to a sex toy party with my MOTHER! Awkward it was not. Hysterical it was. I heard the word "clitoris" more times tonight than I have in my whole life. I also touched a [yipes] dildo for the first time ever. Infact, I touched about 15 of them. Here's my take on the deal_some housewife decided that her sex life wasn't exciting enough, and that lots of other women had the same problem, so she decided that in true housewife fashion, she would peddle product to women in their homes. But instead of keeping your pies and celery fresh, this keeps your sex life fresh. Think about it.

26 May 2006

a highly anticipated 5 top fives

in the kitchen
1_1950's aluminum dessert cups [picture later]
2_bamboo cutting board
3_russell wright 1940's dishes
4_dishwasher [in my new chicago kitchen!]
5_czech beer

in the closet
1_banana republic pantsuit
2_colorful scarf from prague
3_sewing machine
4_bata black loafers [prague]
5_old grey yale t-shirt

in my purse
1_the purse itself
2_matching zip tote
3_new business card holder
4_keys to my parents house on silver heart keychain

on/in my desk
2_the desk [old metal one]
3_pictures of makiah
4_arsenal of cards for any occassion
5_ribbon for wrapping the perfect gift

in my [new chicago] apartment
1_THE VIEW! [pics later]
2_exposed brick walls
3_new neighbors [mr & mrs viamontes + leelou]
4_artpiece from venice + matching frame don made
5_grace, the prettiest chair in the world, from room & board

i tag alexis ann hallman and allison beardmore

28 April 2006

13 April 2006

23 years ago...

I was born. Today is my 23rd birthday. I wish I could tell you that turning 23 is really exciting, but it's not really. However, this year's birthday celebration will be post-poned a week until Don and I are in Chicago, so that's pretty exciting. Last year, I was in Venice for my birthday. But, last night, a bunch of my architecture boys joined me for a drink at Rock-A-Belly. And I'm one year closer to cheaper car insurance. Woohoo!

01 April 2006


Update. Don & I braved the spring blizzard to drive to Chicago for our spring break. We had a great time and also made some good progress on finding jobs. I won't say much about that just yet, as I don't want to jinx anything. We stayed with my friend Elizabeth, and also hung out with our new friends, Mike & Mindy Viamontes. They're architects who graduated last year and have been super helpful to Don and I in our quest to make Chicago our new home. So, yes, Don and I have definately decided to move to Chicago! The home of Oprah, the Cubs, and Frank Lloyd Wright will be home to us soon, too.

I also left my voice in Chicago, as I seem to have developed a sinus infection that left me rather hoarse. But I'm recovering. Not much else is new. Glad to see spring has decided to stick around this time.

15 March 2006

rejection number 2

Today my 2nd choice rejected me:

Hi, Nicole,

Thank you again for your interest in visiting our firm. At this point in time we are unfortunately not going to pursue an interview with you but will keep your resume on file. We wish you luck in your pursuit of employment in Chicago. It's a great city. We hope that you have a terrific visit!

At least this lady was extremely friendly and even thanked me for following up with a phone call. So, Worn Jerabek and Landon Bone Baker both don't want me. I've decided that the best method is just to go into the offices next week and instead of just being some pieces of paper, I will be a real person who is intelligent and friendly and well dressed [in my Banana Republic suit] that they just can't resist hiring. I'm guessing that it doesn't mean much up in the Windy City when you get a letter and resume from some girl in Kansas. Boy will they be surprised with the real-life personality.

13 March 2006

rejection number 1

I finally received a response from the architecture firm I applied to a month ago. They were my top choice. Here's the email:

Dear Nicole Ellis:
Thank you for your interest in Landon Bone Baker Architects. Unfortunately, we have made our final hiring decisions. At this time we do not have any positions available that are suitable for someone with your specific skills.

We will keep your resume on file for a period of one year. If a position opens up that we think you may be suited for we will get in contact with you.

Thanks again and good luck.


HR Department

Landon Bone Baker Architects


27 February 2006


I'm pretty freaking scared to graduate and move and get a real job. Infact, the daunting task of looking for jobs in a city I've never lived in scares the crap out of me. But I have no desire to live in Kansas or Missouri. It's like sending out resumes and interviewing for jobs makes it real. And what if I make a horrible decision and hate the place I work? I've never been a quitter, so it would be hard to just quit after awhile. And what if I can't get a job at the places I like the most. I refuse to make bad architecture, so some place crappy isn't an option. And what if having a crummy first job screws up my career for the rest of my life and I can't ever get the dream job I want? Maybe these are irrational fears, but I never express them to anyone, except Don sometimes. I worry that by having such high expectations that I'm setting myself up for failure. I've never been denied something I've gone after. Every job I've had thus far has been one that I pursued, and I haven't ever applied for multiple jobs at a time. What if I don't really like being a small fish in a giant ocean, because all I've ever been before is a medium to large fish in a tiny pond. I'm not too fond of this uncertainty gig.

24 February 2006

my boyfriend's more talented than yours

don's wood sculpture
This is one of Don's wood sculptures that he made at work. He's an artist in Kansas City's Crossroads District. So he gets paid to just play and do what he loves. I'm also pretty proud of him. He's a talented guy. That Don Semple, he's going places.

17 February 2006

one year ago today...

I left to go to Prague.
As the fourth-years have been preparing to leave for their destinations in Europe, I've been thinking about my own adventure. It seems like it was only a couple of months ago. And I wish it were starting again. And I feel as if it would be even better this time. Instead of arriving jet-lagged and overwhelmed, I would merely be jet-lagged. This time, I would be arriving someplace familiar. I'd be returning to a place that's a part of me. A place that feels a little like home.
Vltava River
Although things were strange and chaotic and foreign, they became familiar. After a while, nothing really seemed foreign, no matter where I was, and I learned how to feel grounded and comfortable anywhere. I gained this amazing confidence, this wonderful sense of self while I was there.
I was somewhat aware of the changes occurring in me while I was there, but they really clarified once I came back and started to reflect on things. And for a while, I kept thinking of these changes as something that happened while I was in Europe. But, the more I dwell upon it, the more I realize that it is still changing me, and Prague and Siena and Venice and Berlin and Helsinki and Iraklio and Trogir are still with me. The fact is, not only did I find a home in Prague, but Prague found a home in me. The mystery and magic of that city and my experience within it will always be a part of my being.
Hopefully I'll be lucky enough to call it home again someday.
Charles Bridge & Prague Castle

06 February 2006

96 days till graduation

My senioritis has started to set in. I was trying to avoid it, but it's power has proven to be stronger than my willpower and attention-span. I really would like to finish my education with some amazing studio project. We'll see how that goes. Whenever I sit down to work on it, my mind wanders elsewhere. Where exactly is elsewhere? Here's a little glimpse into my head:
Darchelle's Bridal Shower_planning desserts and decorations are way more fun than studio
Darchelle's wedding invitations_I'm designing them, and that's also more fun
Looking for apartments online_I'm gonna need someplace to live once I get a job
Portfolio_I need one to get a job, probably
Looking for jobs online_I need one [highly talented, witty, creative and organized soon-to-be architect seeking rewarding and challenging position with public-service oriented architecture firm]
Arranging flowers_self-explanatory
Baking_mmmmm, i love cake
Lists/schedules_I like to waste time writing out my plans and then not following the list I made

Clearly there is no school happening in my brain. Oh welllllllll.

05 January 2006


We started inventory at work yesterday, and boy is that an undertaking. "You work at a gift shop. Inventory can't be that big of a deal." You'd think that, wouldn't you? Turns out it's taking
f o r e v e r.
We have a ton of these tiny little items that we have to find and then count. Then we have several items listed in the computer that we don't have anymore, but we still have to look to make sure that they really are gone. It's tedious. But, last night I was on fire like Rainman! Someone would ask about an item, and not only could I tell them what it was and where it's located in the store, but I could frequently say how many we had, as well. Why can't I be that efficient in studio? Uses the wrong side of the brain, I guess. But, once it's done, we'll be far more organized, so it's worth it. I need to find a way to channel my idiot-savant qualities to help me in more useful applications.

A really, really sad fact: we have these sets of darling little baby socks, 6 pairs to a box. I found out yesterday that someone has been stealing baby socks! WHO STEALS BABY SOCKS? I know it's not babies. How horrible is that? It really makes me mad that someone would steal baby socks, of all things, and from a small local business. I swear, the world's going to hell in a hand basket!

03 January 2006

another year's end

Here's an update on my life since I left you last. Finals week of fall semester was the busiest and most stressful I have ever experienced. But, during that time I finished a group web page design for my Axis Web Design Class. My group's page is accessed by clicking number 4. You kind of have to discover the buttons as you go through it. I also helped my studio finish our book for programming so that we could print it. Along with another handful of tasks, I finished my final fall semester of college with flying colors.
Then, on December 17, Don and I braved the slick roads and drove to Marysville to attend my former roommate Randi's wedding. She was a beautiful bride and it was a lovely wedding. Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Weller!
Don and I had 4 Christmases to attend, first at my mom's house in Topeka, then to Leawood for the Semple Christmas Eve celebration. On Christmas Day, Don and I went to visit his mother at her new house in Lenexa. Then I returned to Topeka and Don stayed in KC so he could go hunting with his dad in South Dakota later in the week. We got around to celebrating Christmas with my dad on New Year's Day. Anyway, what did I get for Christmas? The big ticket item was a sewing machine! Spring's tuition was also up there. Several gift cards, cook books, baking pans, wine glasses, sushi dishes, measuring spoons, and a custom picture frame (from Don) are also some of my new items.
I also found myself missing Prague and my Grandpa at this year's end. I wish I were going back to Europe in 2006, but I'm afraid that won't be possible. 2006 also brings the promise of graduation, a job, and moving somewhere... And adulthood_officially. Here's wishing that your new year promises as much excitement as mine.