12 November 2007

street cred

i have a hard time getting people to take me seriously, as an architect and as a hipster.
i believe there is one solution to this problem.
i need hipster glasses. i need them for the street cred.

don claims this is ridiculous and unfair. first of all, i have perfect vision. minor detail. and then he continues [while wearing his very hip, two-toned danish designed glasses] that i would be taking any small advantage away from those architects and hipsters who actually need glasses to see.

but here's my complaint: i already have several strikes against myself as a believable architect and/or hipster.

1. i wear color. in fact, i usually wear bright colors.
2. i am short. this usually discredits me in anything except munchkin and child related activities.

3. i have curly blond hair. real hipsters have flat, straight, black hair.
4. i look horrible in 'skinny' jeans.
5. i'm a girl.

6. i have dancing skills.

7. i can spell.

8. i also look horrible in jumpers and other garmets made for skinny hipsters. [what can i say, i like to eat instead of only drinking coffee.]

i'm pretty sure all these things warrant the purchase of $400 french glasses.

05 November 2007

crap i bought that was never worth my $

  • a thighmaster [i planned to use it whenever studying in college. note the word 'planned'.]
  • nad's [that all natural hair removal wax. and i was stupid enough to pay for express shipping. lucky for me there was a money-back guarantee, but only for the product.]
  • that belly dance workout tape.
  • several pairs of shoes, namely those brown and black ones from walmart.
  • the sausage feast at that restaurant in prague.
  • that $5 garage sale tv. [my mom warned me it would be black and white. i told her they didn't even make those anymore. it was definately b&w and grey fuzzies most of the time.]
  • debbie gibson-style black hat [saved my allowance for weeks. that fad, along with my tight-rolled jeans, soon faded, but at least we will have the photos forever]


18 October 2007

pie queen

so sunday was the big day - the bucktown apple pie contest! don and i took my freshly baked and piping hot apple pies to the holstein park fieldhouse. this darling gem of a building was even properly decorated for such an activity with vintage tablecloths, banners made from vintage fabric, and plenty of fall accoutrements. we carefully placed my pies on a tray and were assigned the number 33. and then the kind ladies told us to come back at 2. so we did some neighborhood shopping and returned at 2 to find the fieldhouse auditorium full of people and pies. there was even a fun, old-timey blue-grassish band called tangleweed. i might have mistaken it for a fall festival in kansas were it not for the hipsters, accents, and fashionable decor.

we took a seat in the bleachers with some other contestants. the room fills with even more people. finally they announce the 9 finalists. number 31......number 45. dangit. we decided we were too tired to stick around for the final final results and left. on the way out, i noticed a sheet with the names of semi-finalists, and to my surprise, found my name!

here's how the judging rounds went: a total of 81 contestants entered 2 identical pies for the first round of judging. 27 of those went on to the next round, the semi-finals. out of those 27 pies, 9 are chosen for the final round, of which the top 3 were awarded prizes [gift cards to sur la table].

monday i found out that i placed 16th out of 81. not too shabby if you ask me.

and yes, that is a picture of my pie [or at least i'm 99% sure it is]. i forgot to take pictures, but luckily a fellow blogger did not. you can find a story about the contest at the hungry magazine blog.

11 October 2007

when i grow up, i want to be a punk rocker, just like my mom

maybe you notice a pattern. yes, i am guilty of posting my last few blogs from work. i sit at a computer pretty much all day long - so not much of that activity happens at home. i have many thoughts to share with you. there are about 3 or 4 incomplete postings waiting to be finished and posted. one includes my activities this past summer. i'm sure you'll enjoy it once i have taken the time to compile all the photos.
i have recently come to a couple of revelations.
ONE. i am a grown up. i'm not really sure how or when that happened, but i have felt a change in my thoughts and actions and i'm pretty sure it's because i'm not a kid anymore. oh well.
TWO. i think don and i are busier than we ever have been, and this seems to be happening to my peers as well. we are out and about the majority of the week. i am actually looking forward to that first, really cold weekend where it is too crummy to go outside. then i can finally catch up on those 30 sewing projects i have started.
however, this weekend is the modern warehouse sale (hopefully more fabric will be purchased here!) and the bucktown apple pie baking contest. that's right, i'm competing and pie is my medium.

until those mostly-finished posts debut, i leave you with this:
i have a nose-blowing complex. both my mom and don make fun of my nose blowing method. they are mean.
i typically pronounce the word 'uncle' as if it were spelled 'oncle' or maybe 'ancle'. my friend laine has been pointing this out for years, and i just learned the difference. now i say it both ways.
i have developed a chicaaago aaaaccent. dis involves de emphasis of vowels like a and o and sometimes de letter r. and i'm not talking about the goofy contractor imitations i do, either. i've caught the real thing.
it wouldn't matter where we moved, if there was an accent, i would now possess it. so ya'll are lucky we ain't suthners now.

01 October 2007

good riddance, mcmansion!

I won't give you my lecture on the poor decision to buy or build an over sized suburban developer box. Instead, I'll direct you to another blog I frequent, called
PrairieMod. This little piece tells you all about how over-consumption is quickly falling out of style. And I have to tell you, an architect is much more affordable than you may think, and may also save you money in the long run. After all, I didn't endure those five years of hell for nothing.

26 September 2007

carless in chicago

i sold my car. after 16 months in the city, i am finally rid of this burden.

but nicole, how will you live without a car????? STRESS FREE, that's how.

before we moved to chicago, we decided to sell don's truck. no one bought it, so we actually had to give it away. officially a 1-car 'household.' then we decided that it would be too expensive to insure don, and that i would be the only driver. insurance was cheap for me. it was fine. several long car trips later, i decided being the only driver is for the birds. we are birds.

we decided to utilize the gated parking across the street from our loft. it was pretty good and a bargain at $125 a month. then they kicked us out so they could build a 15-story condo on the lot. we decided to save the money and start parking on the street. this required the purchase of a city of chicago parking sticker, which is normally $76. we however, had the misfortune of not purchasing this within 30 days of moving to chicago, so the late fee brought the total to somewheres around $125. we purchased the sticker in april, and had to renew in june. several parking tickets, near towings, and a broken mirror later, i decided parking on the street was for chumps. we are chumps.

this frustration was further escalated by a mere oil change. for the first time in my life, i had to take my car to someone else to get the oil changed. this oil change resulted in the recommendation that i make about $1500 worth of repairs to my car. the car is 11 years old - not worth it. so i settle for $700 (at a cheaper establishment) of necessary maintenance. paying someone else to change your oil is for suckers. we are suckers.

at this point, we had already come to the realization that we don't really need a car. we drove once a week - sometimes we didn't even need to, just to keep the engine from getting cob-webby. not to mention that i was the only one who could deal with the car, because i was the only one with insurance (you owe me big, don semple). but, we had several 5-hour trips over the summer that we had already committed to. and if you have ever tried to rent a car under the age of 25, you know that it is a rip off. so we kept the car through this last road-trip, which was to des moines on september 8.

yesterday we sold the car. it is gone, and in its place is a nice chunk of change with which we can purchase a long-coveted coffee table and desk chair. [don't worry, we get a trade discount direct from the supplier.] and the rest of the money will help us pay off a student loan, which will in turn put us that much closer to saving for our first house or condo or whatever. we will also save $3000 - $4000 a year. and hopefully we won't want or need to buy a car for a really, really long time. certainly not until we have a garage and the desire to make a car payment. in the meantime when we could use a car, we will utilize one of chicago's car sharing programs, like zipcar. and don will be doing the driving.

31 July 2007

more about deodorant

Good news. That new clinical strength deodorant from Secret really does work. Follow along as I reveal too much personal information.
I have sweaty armpits. I always have. I think I inherited this trait from my father. Anyway, I've always had a hard time finding an anti-perspirant/deodorant that actually prevents persperation. So I decided to give this $8 clinical strength stuff a try. Not only did it keep my armpits dry on brisk walks to work in Chicago, but they were bone dry even in the Kansas heat and humidity. I would even wager to say that I was the only member of the wedding party this past weekend without smelly pits. (we'll see just how many of you still read this) And we did have outdoor pictures.

19 June 2007

ok, ok, i'm a slacker. and i'm not really making a real post right now. just thought i'd check in to let everyone know i am still alive AND am going to the FEIST concert tonight, about which i am very excited. and i've been cooking alot and traversing around the city and driving and flying to see friends get married, etc. more on that later. ciao, for now!

10 May 2007

i hate the way my deodorant smells.

08 May 2007

summer in the city

Ok, so it's not quite summer, but it sure has been lovely here in Chicago. The winters here really, really suck, and once there's even a hint of spring sunshine, the city comes out of hibernation. Here are some of my favorite things about Chicago in the spring/summer (really, it's one season, since the summer is sooooo nice).
_city life has a soundtrack [everyone drives around with their windows down and music playing. this kind of adds to my illusion that i live in a movie.]
_walking [don and i average 10 miles each weekend when the weather is nice exploring]
_free events in millenium park
_kids [young and old] playing in the fountain at the park
_beaches! [we're the 3rd coast!]
_neighborhood festivals
_cubbies games!
_wearing skirts
_outdoor cafes
_open windows

04 April 2007


a few weeks ago, don, phil and myself attended a fabulous concert. the bands_menomena [like the muppet song or saturn commerical], field music, and land of talk. the venue_a delightful little dive called the empty bottle here on the west side of chicago. the crowd_hipsters [think brown hair, dark rimmed glasses and lots of dark clothes and ballet flats]. the best part_land of talk, the opening band which hails from montreal and is amazing. seriously, check them out. and the whole show was only $10. love it.

this saturday, don, phil and myself are going to see the headlights featuring page france and shipwreck at schubas on the north side. also a $10 show. pretty excited. will provide report later.

i have a serious craving for some new spring fashion. this was halted by the 34 degree weather and snow today [wtf!!!]. but soon, i'm going to do some damage at a few fabulous boutiques.

some of our clients at work are fabulous and some are just ok. an example of fabulous 'i hate home depot. let's get something that's designed.' and, 'that ceiling fan/wallpaper/carpet is gross'

i don't like coconut or beets.

i have been experiencing dog withdrawal. don says i can't have a dog until we have a house with a yard. on a related note, all i want when i grow up is a cute little brick house with a little yard. and a dog in the yard. maybe a beagle named nelson.

my 24th birthday is in 9 days. i got a birthday present from my mom in january. it was a kitchen aid stand mixer, and so far i've made the normal amount of cookies, 2 cakes, cupcakes, pizza crusts and several other things. these are of course all from scratch. i'm especially looking forward to making my birthday cake: 2 layers of yellow cake with raspberry filling and meringue frosting. other bits of domestic bliss_i bought myself a rowenta iron and don bought me a new, apple green whistling tea kettle. yes we make tea in a pot on the stove. don't you?

we've been trying to decide where we should take a vacation. we thought montreal would be nice, then i found out the flights aren't much cheaper than one to europe. we also have an offer from a czech friend in spain to stay for free. and then there's san francisco and nyc, or maybe boston or cape cod in the fall. suggestions are welcome.

an object of poor design_toilets and their seats. specifically, that spot between the seat and the tank. i think this is how that went: 'gee, how can we design this toilet so it is impossible for the consumer to sanitize their bathroom?' 'i know, we'll attach this plastic/wood/metal seat with two gigantic bolts here at the back and leave just enough room for urine and hair and dust to collect between the seat and the tank. then we'll make sure that it is proportioned so awkwardly that it is impossible to clean around.' 'perfect.'

another toilet item that disgusts me_toilet carpet. you know, the jcpenny special that you can put right around the bottom of your toilet [kind of like a urine collection mat, if you will] and that little 'hat' for your toilet seat lid that collects all the back-of-toilet urine that you can't get to to clean as well as other flying debris. siiiiiickkkkkkk.

i'm about to finish a book_the russian debutante's handbook. it's hilarious, especially if you are a russian-american jew or have ever lived in eastern europe, especially prague. next on my book agenda, barack obama's autobio, dreams from my father. and then maybe an architectural book, or devil in the white city.

07 March 2007


fancy lady

I'd like to take a sentimental moment to talk about gifts. We've all received those life-changing gifts from people close to us. Allow me to illustrate.

The best gift my Dad ever gave me, besides a bright red Italian convertible, was a budget and credit. Instead of a 'call me when you need more money' in college policy, I was given a 'stipend' and told to budget and spend it wisely. He also put my name on a car title and made me pay the loan, which led to my excellent credit. Thanks to him, I'm a pretty money responsible adult.

I received the gift of travel and courage from my maternal grandparents. My high school graduation present was a trip to Brazil. Initially I was pretty scared to go, for various irrational reasons. 8 countries later, I decided to move to the big city. You can't get that travel bug out of me now!

My mother has given and taught me lots of things. The first was the ability to sew, which involves much more than making garmets and curtains. This skill helped me learn to think creatively and in a tactile way. It also gave me the patience to make architectural models. Another favorite was how to be a strong, confident, short woman!

This past Christmas Don gave me a gift that fulfilled a childhood dream. He took me to the ballet. Not just any ballet, the Joffrey ballet here in Chicago. A little bit of background: I started dancing pretty much from birth, and at one point in time thought I would be a professional ballerina. Then I decided to be an architect. But, I have always loved dance and the performing arts. I especially have always wanted to see a spectacular performance by a professional ballet company. [I don't know if Don was fully aware of this fact until we were at the ballet...or maybe he has mind powers.] Fast forward to about November of 2006, we were in my favorite boutique and I spotted the most delightful polka-dot dress. I tried it on, twirled like a little girl, and then rationalized that I didn't have any where to wear it and sadly put it back on the hanger. Much to my surprise, as I'm opening my Christmas present, I unfold the beautiful black with velvet raspberry polka-dotted dress. I was quite excited. And I was doubly excited when Don presented me with orchestra level tickets to see the Joffrey on February 17. A fancy dinner before hand was also promised. Well, a fancy dinner and fancy evening we had. I got all dolled up [as you can see in the photo] and realized a childhood dream.

10 January 2007


lately i have had little inspiration for blog posts. maybe that's a sad excuse. i also feel that many people miss the humor implied in my blogs (christmas list, for example). heads up - if something sounds ridiculous, there's usually sarcasm involved. i haven't really felt that many of my thoughts or musings were worthy of anyone reading. anyway, i think i've got a few topics in mind for the near future. we'll see. for now, i'll leave you with these thoughts:

don and i made the trek back to kansas for our holiday marathon. yes, marathon. we have 4 sets of parents. that's 8 sets of grandparents. it's complicated. anyway, we hadn't been 'home' since august, and were only there for 2 nights (most of which was spent dodging questions like 'when are you getting married?' seriously people - LAY OFF!). and, we were actually really relieved to get back to chicago. we weren't really sure if we would have a good time while we were home - no offense family, but we've been enjoying our big-city independence. in actuality, it was a very refreshing visit. all our relatives behaved themselves, we caught up on things, ate too much - you know, holiday activities. the visit was also a strange paradox to our normal lifestyle - we drove everywhere, mostly in an SUV (which we were grateful to borrow), slept in large, single family dwellings, didn't go out to eat, the buildings were all really far apart for no reason (except western kansas where they have a reason), etc. however, being back in kansas didn't seem as foreign to me this time as i had expected. i mean, some parts were foreign (especially the topeka bar scene - gross), but it felt like home again, which it hasn't in a long time. not home like our apartment in chicago does - but the type of home where you always feel welcome and you know if you forget a toothbrush or pajamas, you're covered. i guess during college, whenever i went home, i felt like i should just be lazy, do nothing. it felt different this time. i find myself continually adjusting to life after architecture school. it's a daily struggle, which is not the right word, but whatever. then, when i got back to chicago, it felt a little weird; an unexpected side effect. in summary, it felt good to go back to kansas, but it also feels good to be home in chicago.

on a side note, today is my 6-month job anniversary. so maybe this post should have been about work, since i don't ever talk about it. sometime soon...

p.s. no one bought me a self-parking lexus for christmas. but i did parallel park like a big girl the other day. maybe there's hope.