Category Archives: urbanisms

chicago chicago

#old #vintage #highrise #skyline #chicago #igerschicago #chicagoarch #city #chitecturephoto stolen from Okunola

Who knew posting one measly update a day would be so tough? Between love, work, friends, a dog, eyebrow waxes, beer, showering and sleeping I just do not know where the time goes.

Here are some amazing photos of our city shot by The Mister aka Okunola. He has quite an eye.

[@okjey on instagram]

#dusk #sky #commute #silhouette #cta #chicago #igerschicago#rust #metal #structure #bridge #decay #chicagoarch #igerschicago#chicago #igerschicago #city #neighborhood #pilsen#morning #sky #clouds #sun #skyline #silhouette #city #chicago #igerschicago#city in #motion...#driveby #citylights #lights #red #blur #skyline #chicago #igerschicago

(day FOUR.)

i’m allergic to my new apartment!

Screw you allergies. I got back up now. Yes, I am wearing a mask until this laundry is done.

This is a very long post. If you simply want to see some little images of our new place and don’t want to read a sickly gal blather on about feline allergies, scroll on down. They’re at the end.

Hello, SARS mask. The last time I tied one of these around my face I was angrily scraping pigeon shit of off our old balcony rafters wearing a t-shirt with FEMINISM LIVES emblazoned across the front. This time I am using it to sort laundry.

We moved into our apartment one week ago yesterday. That Sunday it was everything I dreamed of. I was exhausted by 8:00pm and determined to pass out (I took everyone’s advice and made sure our bedding and towels were at the ready immediately) but couldn’t take the clutter. Up I stayed, past midnight, organizing the kitchen until we had at least one room in the house that resembled normalcy.

There’s the bootleg before and after, as posted on Instagram that night. I went to bed content, excited to arise the next day and get started on making house into home.

And then I woke up.

Early, because of said excitement. I think I got a total of six hours after a grueling day and only receiving about four hours of shuteye the night before. I hurriedly started unpacking and unpacking and unpacking and half hour into it was completely overcome by sneezing. Sneezing and a runny nose and a fuzzy head that has lasted since… last night, with a brief break on Friday and Saturday and smaller fits of sneezing when I left the house for work. My nose is rubbed raw and slathered in Vaseline but I am finally starting to feel a little bit normal. More on that miracle in a bit.

Why all the allergies? A cat. A long haired cat. The former resident of this here abode, along with two indescribably filthy human beings, maybe even worse than the two who occupied our last apartment before us. Remember how when we were apartment hunting I told you how disgusting humans seemed to be? This apartment was one of the worst examples: we actually came back to view it a second time after crossing it off of our list early on. It was on the market for much longer than the other units we viewed, a fact I can only attribute to the layer of grime over every surface and the hairballs in every corner. Still, it never even occurred to me that this would pose such a huge problem. I didn’t even correlate CAT with ALLERGY on either visit to the apartment. I don’t even think I sneezed. I knew I was allergic to felines but didn’t imagine their dander’s staying power: six to nine months, maybe a year.

Even when the allergic reaction started, we chalked it up to high pollen counts in our area. An allergen-ridden fall was projected on every weather website out there. The Mister thought the dog was bringing in ragweed pollen after walks. When our local CVS was out of 75% of their allergy meds, we were positive that this was a simple seasonal allergic reaction that everyone was feeling– something I had never gotten before but maybe due to the stress of the move it had decided to manifest.

But it persisted. And persisted. Sometime in the evening of day 2 or 3, a lightbulb went off. THAT DAMN CAT. Duh. Why hadn’t I thought of that, I thought while my nose dripped onto my chest.

To spare you the long ordeal this has been– the crying-in-the-shower moments, the transcripts of calls to AJ and KB complaining and snotting up the phone lines (which have to be done at least 100 feet from my house since AT&T gets ZERO CELL SERVICE here), the contaminated trash can that had to be emptied once a day, the hours of internet research… let me just tell you what we did so you don’t have to go through the same thing.

Please work please work please work

1. bioAllers Animal Hair & Dander Allergy Relief. Hollar. These little drops of goodness have saved me in a way that Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin, Alavert, and even good old fashioned Benadryl have not. Fifteen drops under the tongue every three hours or so and a world of difference. No foggy head, no dry mouth, no sleepiness, no side effects, period. They are a godsend. I started them on Friday evening and slept like a baby that night for the first time in days.

2. Allersearch ADMS Anti-Allergen Spray. YES. More, please. The Mister WORKED this place with this spray and certified elbow grease. It cannot have been easy to cart around our heavy assed vacuum and its short hose attachment; one that required him to actually lift the body of the machine up a step ladder to get each rafter, door molding and beam. I cannot stress how important it is to get the tops of everything in your apartment. The cleaning crew that our management company sent in did a nice job on the surface but once we looked a little deeper we knew where to find that pesky dander. It loves to settle atop high surfaces. He even found a decrepit luggage bag and cat poop above our new built-in hutch. That had to have been a major source for allergens.

4. Take the blinds down. If your rental agency or landlord provided blinds or curtains, get them out. Save the pieces, wrap ’em up nice, make sure that you can put them back if you need to, but no amount of cleaning is going to get them allergy-free. My curtains may look a little bootleg right now due to the haste I made in getting them up but I feel so much better now that the majority of the yucky blinds are out of this unit.

4. I mentioned that Friday and Saturday were OK with the introduction of my bioAllers. Sunday was another story. The last thing I had to fully unpack were our boxes of clothing. Really one big box as we brought over everything else in luggage. The minute I opened that box: sneeze parade, again. I was heartbroken. Didn’t know why this was happening. Couldn’t believe it. I had washed every single item of clothing in that box before I packed it, knowing that the days of free laundry in our old building were behind me. Didn’t matter. 10 days in a box? A box I took from work that contained produce from a local farm? Not a good look. Here’s where the mask comes in. I learned my lesson last night. I’m not taking it off while touching those clothes until they come out of the dryer. Which should be… about now. The Mister brought home a dozen of the masks from work today and I plan to use them whenever I need to get into something dusty. I’m taking no chances. I’m sure the new neighbors loved seeing me have an entire phone conversation with one of these on earlier.

And that is my epic allergy story. I’m praying, in the way that I pray, that this is somewhat over. I can breathe through my nose for the most part and I’ll be sticking with bioAllers for awhile; the reviews around the web are mostly from cat-allergic people who choose to live with them as pets so I’m counting on it to keep working its magic. This apartment is probably the cleanest it has ever been and though we got off to a rough start, I think we’ll be just fine. Worse comes to worse: a HEPA Air Purifier, which run around $500-800. I know I can avoid that with positive thinking… right?

Here are some snapshots I’ve posted on Instagram this week, starting with one of our new block. I’ll be taking proper photos soon. It’s coming together fast!

New block #Chicago #ukrainianvillageNew living room!new apartment snapshotsUnpacking and unpacking and unpacking

day trip to milwaukee

I grew up seeing this poster everywhere: living rooms, basements, schools, churches, or wheat-pasted onto various surfaces around the city. I don’t believe Milwaukee has a city flag so this comes pretty darned close in terms of civic pride.

With the poster on my mind and with great Milwaukeean pride, The Mister and I drove north this past Sunday with two friends in tow. Both had been to Milwaukee briefly but never with a local to guide them and I was excited to show them around my old stomping grounds.

First stop was Honeypie Cafe, a newer place in Bay View on the south side of the city. Papo has been telling me about Honeypie for quite some time — they feature Sweet Water Organics microgreens after all– and we attempted to visit a few trips back but the crowds kept us away. Honeypie has seasonal outdoor seating in the back of the restaurant which finally meant no wait for indoor dining. I was a little bummed that we couldn’t perch outdoors and enjoy the beautiful weather but everyone was way too hungry after our ninety minute drive to wait for an al fresco opening.

The service was prompt and friendly and the Bloody Marys spicy, extra delicious with a chunk of salami on a toothpick. The interior of the cafe is cute and comfortable, and various needlepoint works decorate the bathroom. My kinda place. Everyone was pleased with their breakfast and we waddled out full, half wanting to drive to a park to sleep it off.

Next up was Antique Center, a kind of mini-flea market without the crunch of people in Walker’s Point. I gather each seller has a small stall but only one person mans the store. The shop is on the second floor of a large warehouse type building up some rickety wooden stairs. It’s on the pricier side for Milwaukee but if you’re looking for serious antiques this is where I would go first. They also carry a large selection of well-priced vintage clothing, accessories and clothing. The Mister walked with a fresh pair of Bucks for $30. Not sure how ‘vintage’ they are but damn if they don’t look good on him.

Just two doors down is Clinton Street Antiques. This is my favorite resale shop in all of Milwaukee: I’ve already posted about them and our Cuba sign! Evan purchased an anvil for $7. I’m wondering what exactly he plans on using it for. As always, Clinton St. had a great selection of housewares and smaller furniture.

Next up was the East Side. We drove through downtown to the lakefront and made our way to Lake Park where I pointed out my old soccer field (lasted two practices, lame!) and baseball field (lasted three years, yay!).

We kept on driving, down Newberry Street to Oakland, to Locust to Holton, back down Burliegh, where we stopped in at Art Bar for some cocktails and games. When I was little, Art Bar’s location was home to Lava Java, a small cafe that served the most delicious waffles topped with strawberry yogurt. I have very fond memories of the space and love visiting when I’m in town. It’s across the street from a church I played basketball at and a ten minute walk from my childhood home.

Jenga!Jenga #2Welcome to Bizarre Land. While in a random Milwaukee bar, I came across familiar handwriting on a Jenga piece: that of my baby sister. It's her old # so don't bother calling. How weird!

While stacking pieces for a round of Jenga I spied familiar handwriting on one of the blocks. Bry-Bry? Surely this was NOT my sister’s phone number on a damn game piece. Homegirl has changed her number so many times that this one wasn’t in my phone– but I grabbed The Mister’s and there it was. Her old number matched right up! After a call to berate her, we made our way out.

Brewer's Hill #milwaukee #creamcity

One last stop: the Brewer’s Hill neighborhood on the northeast part of Milwaukee to gawk at the gorgeous old homes. Wouldn’t you just love to live in this beauty?

I barely scratched the surface of Milwaukee on our small day trip and can’t wait to bring them back for an overnighter. Milwaukee, I love you. See you soon.

summertime chicago: two things to do this weekend

I’m so sad for you if you don’t live in Chicago.

I know I profess my love for this city constantly but it goes into overdrive every summer. And August is no exception. We’re counting down the last of our warm weekends with very heavy hearts in this City of Big Shoulders and making sure we pack in the fun at every turn.

This specific weekend doesn’t disappoint.

Built Festival kicks off tonight at Milwaukee and Leavitt. The creators describe it as “a city being created out of shipping containers this summer in Chicago’s Wicker Park Neighborhood.” It’s been put together by the same folks behind Art on Track, one of my favorite artsy events of last year. Emmanuel Pratt, whose home I profiled back in the beginning days of this little blog, is representing the Hyde Park Art Center and his own Mycelia Project, a collaboration with Chicago Public Schools, Urban Gateways, the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation and others that promotes learning focused on food, water, soil and sustainability. I’m excited to see what he comes up with. Over 100 artists are expected to participate, it’s ten bucks and runs until 10:30 tonight and from 11am to 10:30 tomorrow.

Next up is an estate sale run by Ms. Lynne McDaniel, one of the coolest gals in all of Chicago. The Estate is that of of Yvonne Jackson Eskridge, wife of the Honorable Judge Chauncey Eskridge, attorney to Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali. The first sale of Lynne’s I attended was that of Willye Tillman, the state of Illinois’ first Black chief nurse anesthetist. Her home was filled with gorgeous furniture, memorabilia, books, art, and history. I can’t wait to see Lynne and this home tomorrow. Her blurbs are always so much fun to read, so I’ll just have to copy some of her verbiage here:

Chicago has long been called the city of neighborhoods, but have you ever heard of this one? MARYNOOK! Lot of history in this community folks! Visit the home where Ali hung out! Where Dr. Martin Luther King signed documents and developed strategies! Where guest from all over the world visited. Can you imagine Ali chilling on the velvet green sofa? I saw a photo depicting the very scene. How about Coretta Scott King standing next to her husband in the living room?

They were all friends to Yvonne Jackson, globetrotter, educator, style maven & citizen of the world! HER EYE FOR MID CENTURY MODERN DESIGN WAS OUTSTANDING! EVERY PIECE OF FURNITURE IN HER 1960’S BACKSPLIT DENOTES QUALITY DESIGN & MATERIALS–all the way down to her exquisite choice of seagrass textured wallpaper!

Can you imagine how many Nobel prize dinners in Sweden she must have attended! Take home a piece of history folks. Opportunities of this magnitude are few and far between.

The sale started today but runs until tomorrow at 3pm. Address and more info can be found here.

Oops. I better get going! Now to decide what to wear…

Have a great weekend!

week without a car: days two and three

Good morning Chicago! #rivernorth

This is becoming an old hat for me, ladies and gentlemen. I’m leaving the house later and later now that I see how quickly the bus shoots down Chicago Ave and deposits me into River North each morning for work. There have been a few snags here and there but I give days one through three without a car an A-.

Snag #1: I should have gotten a weekly pass. They’re a steal at $23, and with a single bus ride going for $2.25, seven days of just two rides is about $32. I’ve been using quarters all this time and purchasing the pass with only four or five days to go is a waste of money. I wish I had gotten the pass on day one. Monthly passes are $86, or around $2.75 every day, and if I continue to ride the bus and the el when this is done and I have access to a car again, I will definitely be picking one up.

Snag #2: Planning my errands isn’t as easy as it was before. On Wednesday I needed to stop and get a twelve-pack after work; some lady friends were stopping by the apartment and I was all out. I hopped off at my regular stop thinking I’d just walk four or five blocks out of my way, to the corner store I normally patronize, and pick one up. I had second thoughts after deboarding, and as I stood on the corner I instead pulled out my phone and Google mapped Current Location to Liquor Store. A small packaged goods store just minutes away from where I was standing popped up. It was only a two block detour on the way home. I headed in that direction. Packaged good stores are odd, and I’ve only seen them in Chicago. Not just a liquor store, and not just a bar, they’re a hybrid of both that usually only take cash. I walked into Ola’s, I think it was called, and saw that it was more of a bar than anything, with two smallish coolers for beer and a selection of bottles behind the counter where a woman sat alone polishing glassware. One look at the prices and I turned right back around. $22 for a case of Pilsner Urquell, which goes for around $13 or $14 at most places.

My fault for not just going for what I knew. Back to my regular store I walked, adding four more blocks to the initial five block trip. That was my exercise for the day. First world problems, huh?

Since I’ve only used public transportation on my way to and from work, and have only needed to hop on one city bus to get there, I’m eager to see how I fare over the weekend and looking forward to spending more time in my own neighborhood and utilizing all that it has to offer. Chicago is a huge city but it so often feels like a small town when you break it down by neighborhood. Mine has everything I need within walking distance: grocery stores, restaurants, boutiques, bars, cafes, libraries, parks, farmer’s markets, theatres. There’s even a festival just a five minute stroll up the street going on this weekend, and of course I have my digital photography workshop with Learnapalooza later on this morning.

I don’t really need to leave my ‘hood at all. Everything I need is right here. Don’t ya love city living?

Related Posts
Week Without A Car: Day One

week without a car: day one

Photo By Eric Allix Rogers used under Creative Commons

For reasons that partly involve a temperamental Volvo that doesn’t feel like moving from its parking space, I am bussing and walking and el-ing everywhere I go for the next week or so.


I rode the bus today! I also told everyone I knew that I would be doing so, and I figured it was only fair to let you in on my fun, too.

Minus today, the last time I sat my behind on an autobus was during Snowmageddon and I hadn’t done so on a regular basis since riding the safaris of St. Thomas. Here are my initial mundane observations on the CTA.

Air Climate
As you know, I am not a big fan of A/C, and when the temperature reaches 75 in Chicago, you are blasted with arctic air at every turn. From my office to Trader Joe’s to the movie theatre, everywhere is freezing cold. Not so on my bus ride. It was around 80 when I boarded for my first ride and the bus felt very comfortable. Yay!

Falling Down
I almost fell. Twice. Since the buses are loaded with folks I end up standing for most of my rides and I think I will have very strong arm muscles when this is all over.

No Ads
One thing I despise even more than air conditioning is audible advertisements at every freaking turn. At O’Hare over the weekend, while waiting for Papo in the terminal as he arrived home from India, The Mister and I were accosted by CNN or some derivative at 5am. The volume was on high and I wanted to cry. Milwaukee’s buses featured very loud and obnoxious ads for a time and I was happy to see that Chicago didn’t follow suit. It has been a pleasant audible experience minus the guy telling everyone within earshot that the baby wasn’t his. Kudos?

Smelling Good
There are a lot of weird smells on the bus. I am never as close to other human beings as I have been on my bus rides. I am glad I do not smell bad. I mean, I don’t think I smell bad. You would tell me if I did, right? Also, gum. I am glad I have remembered to bring gum.

Someone Asked Me A Question
This was a very exciting highlight. A very stylish and hip lady sitting across from me asked if we had passed Damen Avenue yet. “Duh, lady, we are only to Ashland,” is what the smug, newly minted bus rider in me wanted to say but I just smiled and shook my head. Then I told her exactly what landmarks to look for upon approaching Damen. I’m a pro.

So far so good. I might even do this all the time! Let’s see how days two and three and four go. Do you use public transportation to get to work? Or to get everywhere? What are your pros and cons? Got any tips?

[I wrote this yesterday but it didn’t post and I didn’t notice! So I am really on Day 2 but I will have to fill you in on that later. Let’s just say it involves a $22 twelve pack of Pilsner Urquell and sore feet.]


I was exasperated. Can you tell? I just wanted one damn photo of this dress I purchased from eBay sellers Ukrainian Vintage at a rummage sale a few weeks ago. Nothing was working, so I shot myself in the mirror all angry. Dumb camera. Great dress, though, huh? $4.

Anyways, exasperation no more. I just signed up for a 45 minute digital photography class taking place this Saturday through Learnapalooza. What is Learnapalooza?, you must be wondering.

Learnapalooza is a volunteer-led event and run in partnership with CommuniTeach, a website that makes it easy to learn from your neighbors for free throughout the year. Workshops will be hosted by more than a dozen businesses and organizations, and headquartered at the Wicker Park Art Center. The majority of the workshops are aimed at adults, but there will be a few options for children and families as well. It’s a fun, free way to share your passions, learn new skills, and connect with your neighbors.

Very cool. The last class I took that involved my camera also involved me not going back. It was north of North Avenue and east of Ashland, boundaries I swear to never cross unless Montrose Beach is involved. I am a snobby, anti-northside Chicagoan. Since this workshop is both taking place in my neighborhood, and short and sweet, and free, I’m all in.

Here’s a few more of the nifty classes being taught this Saturday and Sunday in the great City of Chicago.

How Buildings Learn- Walking Tour
This will be a walking Tour. We will look at buildings and “learn” to “read” how they have changed over time. The Face of a Building has the scars and facelifts that tell tales -just like our own faces. Collect at the front of the Library at Milwaukee and Wabansia and we will walk East.
June 25, 2011 | 11:15 am – 12:00 pm | Wicker Park Library, 1701 N Milwaukee Ave

Learn to Draw: Still Lifes
Informal still-life drawing classes. The class will sit on the floor around a small installation and practice drawing. We’ll provide paper and drawing supplies but participants are welcome to bring their own supplies as well. The teacher will walk around and help as much or as little as you want. Shildren (12 and older) and adults are welcome. No prior drawing experience is necessary. Note: Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
June 25, 2011 | 1:45 pm – 2:30 pm |Park Schreck Gallery, 1747 W. North Ave.

Argument Clinic
A fun, interactive session on how to successfully “argue”; geared towards people who are interested in advocating for a particular cause. The presentation will include ways in which arguments may be countered, some ideas about unique strategies for social media, and a very basic grounding in public speaking.
June 25, 2011 | 12:30 pm – 1:15 pm | Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Avenue

The Feminine Comique
The Feminine Comique offers a structured, all-female enviroment wherein seasoned performers and newcomers alike can focus on the writing skills and performance confidence needed to tackle the standup stage. Outlining a set of writing exercises for use in building material from a basic joke structure, the course provides a framework to get students onstage, telling jokes, along with feedback and clarity in performance philosophy to allow students to take the stage from a position of strength and consistency.This workshop is taught as a full length five week course here in Chicago, and has been taught as a one time only workshop at the festival and university level.
June 25, 2011 | 1:45 pm – 2:30 pm | Wicker Park Arts Center, 2219 W. North Ave.

Join us for a short course on beekeeping. We’ll cover how to become a beekeeper and what to expect during the season.
June 25, 2011 | 3:00 pm – 3:45 pm | Wicker Park Arts Center, 2219 W. North Ave.

African Drum & Dance
Mofindu African Drum & Dance Co. brings energetic dance classes and history of West Africa and the Caribbean. You’ll learn dance techniques from such places like Mali, Gambia, and Guinea, aligned with the communication between the dancer and music. Live African percussion is accompanied with the classes, so all levels of drummers are welcomed to share or learn percussion with our artists. We ask that you bring your own rhythmic instruments; can be drums, bells, or shakers to make the music more lively. No dance experience needed and classes are for all ages.
June 26, 2011 | 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm | Rumble Arts, 3413 West North Avenue

Take a gander at all of the free classes offered here and let me know if you’ll be in attendance! Make sure to also check out their Kickstarter page and throw some dollars their way if you are so inclined. Happy learning.