Archive | Chicago life RSS feed for this section

Workspace inspiration.

9 May

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

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

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

Simple and sweet, via Studio Sweet Studio.


Gorgeous color, via Urban Tastemakers.


My love letter to the city.

2 May

I don’t usually like to use quotes in blog posts, but this one is too perfect to pass up:

“and if there is a deep reluctance on the part of the true city dweller to leave his cramped quarters for the physically more benign environment of a suburb – even a model garden suburb! – his instincts are usually justified: in its various and many-sided life, in its very opportunities for social disharmony and conflict, the city creates drama; the suburb lacks it.” – Lewis Mumford

The other day, someone in my life asked me what the city could possibly offer that the suburbs didn’t. It’s frustrating to try to explain this on the spot, and I generally don’t even respond to these types of questions when taken to heart, because unless they’re asked out of genuine curiosity, they’re usually not coming from a person who wants to hear the answer. But of course, the question has been floating around in my head all week. The answers have made themselves known, always, on my walks to and from shoots, classes, or running errands. They’re usually fairly eloquent, but as eloquence goes, I tend to lose it the second I sit down to put pen to paper.

The city has a life of its own. An energy and a connection that draws people out of their apartment buildings and into its crowded streets. It feeds off of neon and bright lights, skyscrapers and little walk-ups, and it exists by cramming as many people as possible in a small area. And so we leave our cars parked, and we walk places. We interact with each other, because not only are we all in this together, but we’re all a part of the city. There ceases to be this scary “other” who is lurking around the corner. There is no big, bad evil out there that shares a certain facial feature, characteristic, or outfit. There’s no neighborhood that’s completely safe, hopeless, wealthy, or poor. There are no faceless homeless, because they are people, and you recognize them. There is a lack of tolerance of drive-thrus and garages, instead we favor walking in, talking to the face behind the counter, and leaving our cars in the perfect spot until we absolutely have to drive it because why in the world would you give that spot up? There is the fun of always having somewhere new to go and experience, the feeling that everything you could ever want is in a five mile radius, and the very odd phenomenon that is the intimacy of a big city: the fact that you run into the same people over and over regardless of where you live, work, and eat.

Life here is complicated, and you learn on your feet. I can vouch for that in terms of rush hour tickets (not what you might think), the sacredness of Sunday brunch, farmer’s markets, patio dining, walk-if-you-dare blizzard specials, a winter that doesn’t quit, the insanity that is the hunt for the perfect apartment, and forgetting where exactly you’ve parked your car, or how to drive for that matter.

Of course, these things are not mutually exclusive to the city. One can experience them, and does regularly, in the suburbs. And there is something to be said for a break in the country, for a wide-open pasture or a non-lake beach. But it’s only in the city that you feel all of them, together, which such intensity. And there is a price to be paid – some people want yards (to which I ask, WHY?! when that clearly means lawn chores. But I suppose you all are the same people who want kids, and that’s a completely different matter) and others would like square footage for a price that just won’t be found here. Others yet like quiet, and don’t get the same rush of adrenaline off the buzz of the city. And that’s fair, and has merit. But I am loyal to the city with a ferocity that is hard to match – it doesn’t have to be this one, but I know it when I feel it.

Brain dump 2.

26 Apr

I hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend, whether you celebrate or not! Mine was certainly hectic, and everyday life is a bit of a relief. I think today’s a wonderful day for a brain dump post!

1) I am currently enamored with the idea of an unfussy but still gorgeous fresh poppy bouquet for the wedding. This bride went to a farmer’s market the morning of and made her own! Ambitious.


2) I want to know how this girl manages to look cute and stylish in wellies. I love my black ones, but they always look and feel clunky somehow. And they’re the exact ones she’s wearing, but in black. If I was to attempt pairing them with a dress, it would look ridiculous. Height issue, maybe? Also, at the rate we’re going with rain on days when I have shoots planned, I feel like I’m in reschedule and stay glued to limbo. No fun!


3) Does anyone else read Dear Prudie as obsessively as I do? I adore her. I also wonder, time and again, why in the world I don’t subscribe to Slate considering one of my very favorite authors writes a column for them, and Dear Prudie writes for them. Alas, Vogue is my only current subscription. As my bank likes to inform me time and time again, I’m flat broke.

4) We got the official lease sent over, and I’m so excited to renew! It’s nice to have some stability for the next two years, and to allow myself to fully settle in without that looming “will I have to pack up everything I own for the seventhy zillionth year in a row?” feeling.

Je m’appelle…

22 Apr

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about names. Blog names, specifically.

When I started this blog, it was mainly as a way to keep up with some friends, gather inspiration, and vent. I had no idea that I’d be heading in a more creative direction, launching a little photography venture, and (honestly) keeping people interested in what I had to say.

So I just kind of named this site off the cuff, with something I thought sounded cute. But I’ve always been a little… eh… about Lincoln Park on a Lark. Also, we live one street over, so we’re technically in Lakeview, which doesn’t have the same ring to it. Regardless, while we’ll be here at least two more years, I feel like maybe attaching a neighborhood moniker to my blog is a commitment I’m just not ready to make… or keep.

How did you decide on your blog name? Any thoughts on a big rename?

The bedroom conundrum.

14 Apr

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

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

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

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

2) Said window looks out onto a brick wall.

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

Don’t believe me?

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

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


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

So what are we going to do about this?

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

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

Chunky bed, goodbye. Hello canopy:


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

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

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



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

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

The rent is too damn high! Plus Mean Stinks.

29 Mar

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

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

Let me give you a little tour:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Big Star.

22 Mar

big star.


Chicago friends, I have a confession to make: my favorite bars seem to be hipster bars. I don’t know how it happened, nor do I know what will break my hipster bar streak, but it started with Handlebar and the Violet Hour (which isn’t so hipster, but it’s in Wicker Park so it counts) and now it’s come full circle with Big Star. I first realized it was a problem when we took my parents to brunch at Handlebar and my dad tried to flag down a random, plaid-shirt wearing hipster, thinking she was a waitress. And then, Thursday night, I went to Big Star for the first time.

And yeah, the bouncer was a jerk to me, plaid blazer and all. I know I look like I’m twelve, thanks, but I’m not. You are, however, so original for pointing that out. And sure, the girls in the bathroom did look like they had stepped out of page twenty four in last the Urban Outfitters catalog, right down to the kicky little cowboy boots.

But the Big Star margaritas.

And the guacamole. Oh my god.

The thing about Big Star is it was downright energizing. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the margaritas, or maybe it was the fact that it was St. Patrick’s Day and I didn’t see a single person wearing green. But Big Star is the type of place that makes me want to take up salsa dancing and start honoring Thursday Margarita Day.

Disclaimer: I still love plaid shirts, and yes, I wear them too. They didn’t do anything wrong, nor should they be a casualty of this trend.  Also, I don’t have photos of said night of margaritas because I really didn’t think carrying around a couple thousand dollars’ worth of camera gear was worth an artsy margarita shot and a few off-kilter candids. Maybe next time. I did, however, save the postcard that came with our receipt just because I hate photo-less posts.

%d bloggers like this: