This week marks one year in Chicago. Can you believe it? On one hand, it seems like just yesterday that I flew into town, a couple suitcases in hand, on a snowy winter day. On the other hand, I can’t believe how many big life changes and cool experiences I’ve had this past year!
My friend Jen recently asked me if I was happy that I moved to Chicago. And the answer is an overwhelming YES! I can’t begin to explain how much I’ve learned over the past year. On the work front, I not only started a new position at a new company, but it was also a new field for me. It’s been great to use the skills I’ve developed over the years in a completely novel and challenging way. I also learned to be more independent than ever; a necessity when you move so far away from your support network of friends and family back home. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is just something so exciting and refreshing about diving into the unknown; a certain rush that comes with trying something new. Who knew that I craved change so much?
I think the biggest challenge with moving is finding a great group of people to hang out with. Given that it took me a solid year in NYC to develop a close group of friends, I prepared myself for the same here in Chicago. But little did I know about the Midwest Charm and the way that everyone is so hospitable and social here! I was pleasantly surprised to find myself making friends left and right, and I was quickly welcomed into an amazing circle of people. I think it really hit me at my birthday party last summer; I couldn’t believe how many people turned out to celebrate!
I also had a bunch of visitors! The perk of being in central location (and a city that is host to a plethora of medical conferences!).
Another big life change? After years of HGTV dreams, I finally became a homeowner! Though the walls have yet to be painted, and there are still a few boxes to be unpacked, it is an amazing feeling to have a place of my own.
With all of that in mind, there’s really nothing else I could have asked for. And there’s no place else I’d rather be! For now, Chicago feels like home
Have you ever wanted to take a class but didn’t know where to start? Enter Vimbly, a new website which makes finding the right class, at the right time, as easy as cake. I was recently given the opportunity to take a free class of my choosing through Vimbly. There were so many categories to choose from; everything from Jiu Jitsu to Wine Tasting to Comedy Improv. I’ve always been into art, and as a busy working adult, I don’t often have the opportunity to engage my creative side, so I selected a screen printing class offered at Spudnick Press.
For this particular class, we were asked to bring a design of our choice, which we would then screen print onto cards. The design could be hand-drawn or digital, and would be printed using one color. Now, the last time I screen printed anything was at a summer art class I took during middle school. In that session, we created screen templates by hand, cutting our designs carefully using Exacto knives. With that in mind, I tried to select something with fairly large spaces. However, it turns out there are much easier methods of screen printing these days, such as the technique we used at Spudnick, which involves the use of chemicals to create the template onto a screen. Pretty cool!
My design (courtesy of the interwebs):
Printed onto transparency:
Chemically transferred onto screens:
It was really interesting to see everyone’s designs. There were some talented artists in the class, including my printing partner, who does poster design for a living.
Our teacher, Vanessa, was terrific and did a great job of making it a fun experience. She showed us the process while giving us detailed instruction, but then let us work on our own. I really liked the independent nature of the class.
Next we added a thin layer of paint to our screens and used a squeegee to press the paint through the screen and onto the card stock below. Here’s my partner in action:
Vanessa also showed us some advanced techniques such as using two colors at once:
Then the hardest part of all… waiting patiently for all of our cards to dry!
And then we each had 20 cards of our own design! I was really pleased with my design, and loved that it was something unique and versatile. I’ve already sent out several as thank you notes!
Spudnik was awesome; I would love to go back and take more art classes. I also enjoyed the ease and convenience of using Vimbly to book my class, and would certainly recommend that site to other people looking for things to do in their city. In fact, I’ve already perused Vimbly to see what fun and exciting classes I can take next!
*A free class was provided to me by Vimbly. All opinions and images are my own.*
With all of the record cold temperatures and snowfall we’ve been having here in Chicago, a weekend getaway was in order. So I headed to Austin, TX to visit with my cousins and their adorable little girls. However, the cold weather must have followed me as it was 39 degrees and icy when I landed! Thankfully, the rest of the weekend was in the much-more-acceptable 70 degree range.
I had been to Austin once before, but it was a whirlwind wedding weekend and I didn’t get much of a chance to check out the city itself. Austin has the unique quality of being both a state capitol, as well as huge college town, giving the it a quirky, eclectic flavor.
I loved spending so much time with my cutie-pie nieces. We also had a birthday to celebrate!
Kavi auntie always brings presents… it’s one of the fun parts of being an aunt!
Bows and a cell phone… what more does a girl need?
Someone thought it would be funny if her mommy, auntie, and sis all wore bows too…
…and even more funny to wear all the bows at once! The best part was when she saw herself in the mirror and started cracking up!
“Hey sis, I could use one of those bows!” When I wake up in the morning, this is what my hair looks like too!
We had some fun at the park…
…before catching up on some important messages. “Call me maybe!”
Then the grown-ups headed out for some fun times of our own!
Before I knew it, it was time to head back to Chicago. Luckily, I had this little lady to take me back to the airport! I had a blast visiting with my family. Looking forward to the next time!
I don’t know about you, but I thought December and January were a complete blur! There were plenty of times when I just didn’t get around to posting some of the fun stuff I’ve been up to. So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been up to lately…
First up, my friend Maria recently returned from a sabbatical in Spain, where she became a certified yoga instructor! She treated all of us to a great yoga class, followed by a spa night. Hands down the best yoga teacher ever!
One of many holiday parties and trivia nights:
Ryan’s going away festivities and fake TBOX
Aussie invasion at TheWit
Sara’s birthday party at Vertigo (check out the fire & ice bar!)
What have you been up to lately?
So here’s something you may not know. I’ve wanted to travel to Brazil ever since 2003, when I first saw Snoop Dogg and Pharrell party it up in their music video for “Beautiful.” So it was pretty cool that 10 years later, I finally made it! If you’re familiar with the video, you wouldn’t be surprised that one of the sights on my must-see Rio de Janeiro list was the famous Lapa steps, otherwise known as the Escadaria Selaron. (And if you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here: Snoop Dogg Featuring Pharrell – Beautiful.)
It was the last day of my trip (sad face) and I still hadn’t seen these steps! So I just hopped on the subway and headed to Lapa. I always enjoy a little “alone time” on trips, so it was actually nice to have the opportunity to wander around at my leisure.
Another meltingly hot day, but I wanted to make the most of it. The steps were easy enough to find; basically a few blocks from the cobblestone street to Santa Teresa we had taken the night before. It’s funny how things can look completely different in the light of day!
And here they are; check out these beauts! The story of how the steps came to be is equally as incredible. In 1990, a Chilean immigrant, Jorge Selaron, set out to repair the run-down steps outside of his home. Being an artist, he decided to use scavenged tile, in the colors of the Brazilian flag, to cover the steps. At first, the neighbors thought this was pretty weird (I mean, imagine if one day, out of the blue, your neighbors decided to decorate their sidewalks with tile!). But soon, his art gathered public interest. Selaron began selling his paintings in order to pay for more tiles, though later, he received tile donations from all over the world. All in all, there are said to be over 2000 tiles covering the 125 steps. Of these, 300 or so feature his hand-paintings of a pregnant woman, a consistent theme of Selaron’s work. Mysteriously, he never explained the meaning behind it, saying only that it was a “personal problem from my past.” Sadly, the artist was found dead last January, on the very steps that he created, adding another layer of intrigue to his life story. But his world-famous steps live on, and remain a popular attraction.
Of course I couldn’t leave without getting a shot with my BFFs Pharrell and Snoop. Just like the old days, holla!
After walking around Lapa for a bit, I headed back to Copcacabana. We packed up all of our things, and Ryan, Gemma, our friend Kyle, and I enjoyed a few cervejas at an outdoor cafe before heading our separate ways. It was a truly amazing trip!