Thursday, July 28, 2011

Scenes from the week

1. Gave myself a haircut (curls!) and wore a jumper while continuing to not organize that corner of my craft room. --2. My new boss and best friend. --3. The beau enjoying a tour through Half Acre Beer Company, just a couple blocks from our new place. --4. Marilyn Monroe's big drawers in Pioneer Court. --5. Iowa buddy Jessica paying us a visit, enjoying libations in an old speakeasy. --6. Homemade pickles from farmer's market cucumbers, dill, and onions. The jars were thrifted together for $3! --7. The view from my new "office." --8. Iowa pals Carissa and her *partner in engagement* coordinating nicely in my living room during their visit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tour de Fat

Tour de Fat was the perfect way to spend my first real weekend in Chicago. Jake and I rode our bikes, about 20 minutes away, and it was my inaugural ride through Chicago. I'll admit, I was pretty terrified of riding through the traffic and had avoided it for almost a week longer than Jake...
It was surprisingly easy! There is an imaginary bike lane that cars actually respect! I've never lived in a city so bike friendly, where it is honestly scarier to be a car among cars than to be a bike among cars. 

The bike pile in Palmer Square.
Tour de Fat is a 13-city touring festival celebrating bikes, put on by the very bike-centric New Belgium Brewery. The festival was free with very affordable New Belgium beer available, and was put together with astonishing flair: a grungy but whimsical carnival theme with a bit of steam punk aesthetic (without being obnoxious). There were quirky and somewhat subversive entertainment acts throughout the entire day following the bike parade (which we missed), bike-themed arts and crafts, a bull ring full of ride-able bike art, and a lot of free-to-use contraptions made of recycled bike parts. We also got to rub elbows with the CEO of New Belgium. She's a fox!

This guy signed his car title to New Belgium in trade for a beautiful new bike, an event that happens at each city stop, each year of the festival. What an amazing commitment!
The day cost us no more than $25 dollars--$5 for each large beer (2 Somersaults, 1 Fat Tire, and 1 IPA), plus a couple of goodies for ourselves by donation to West Town Bikes, a local bike nonprofit that received all proceeds from the day. In the end, West Town Bikes was rewarded with $20,000!
Mucca Pazza, a Chicago-based "punk marching band," played throughout the day. The band puts on a spectacular show! I've seen them many times over the past 7-ish years, and they never lose their gusto!
The day could have been easily enjoyed without spending a cent. Outdoor festivals are a great way to save some coin during the summer, and biking to the destination keeps it cheap AND sustainable AND healthful. If you ever get the chance to participate in Tour de Fat, you cannot miss it!

Tour de Fat Outfit, aka How I Got My First Sunburn of the Season and Why It Was So Awkward Looking Outfit
Romper: Vintage, with built-in flesh belt/tie waist, $3.38
Bandana: Snatched from my mom's wardrobe years ago, $FREEO
Shoes: not pictured, white off-brand Keds from discount store, $3.50
Approximate Total: $7.00

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pimp My (bike) Ride

The idea is that an overly "girly" bike must fulfill its destiny by being as feminine as possible, no matter how ridiculous...right?
My bike, a pink Schwinn cruiser from the 90's, was gifted to me by a wonderful and tall--like me!-- coffee patron who'd hurt herself and decided it was time to upgrade to some gears and hand brakes. It's in wonderful condition and perfect for farting around Chicago's flat streets. Yes, I also have a nice Schwinn hybrid to get me through hills and valleys...

As planned, I swung by my neighborhood craft store and filled a bag with fake flowers to make sure my bike had on its best formal wear for the Tour de Fat. The result is outrageous! This was a fast, easy, and cheap project costing only $8.00 (which could easily be cheaper) and taking less than 30 minutes. Unquestionably, the hardest part was choosing my color scheme.
 The result before the basket went back on.
Step 1: Wrap the handlebars with floral wire in a coil pattern. I kept about a half inch between each wrap. 
Step 2: Somewhat "randomly" place flowers of different shapes, sizes, and colors over the handlebars, sliding the fake stems beneath the wire to secure. I wrapped my wire somewhat tight over its foam grips, and used a pair of needle-nose pliers to lift the wire over the stems. 
Step 3: Fill any gaps with tiny flowers or the the "flourish" that comes with the bouquets and trim any stray wire stems with wire cutters. 
Step 4: Admire and do a little show-off parade around your neighborhood! 
My cruiser in the wild, nuzzling up with my boo's Giant.
In action! Notice cleverly taped directions to our destination on the inside of my bike.
Tomorrow I'll post about the actual Tour de Fat event--what a wonderful day!

Top: Mint-conditon, vintage pointelle (right?) blouse from a church sale, $1.00
Shorts: Sailor-style capris, rolled to the perfect length, $1.00
Shoes: from the "dollar" store across the street, $3.50
Earring: not shown, feather dangle earring from Carissa
Approximate Total: $5.50

What else can I do to doll up Lil' Pinkie? Next on my agenda are some homemade streamers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


By the grace of my new employers--and Jake's unemployers--the two of us have had our first full week in Chicago off to do as we please. We've tried to diligently spend our time wisely. Jake has been job searching while I arrange the house and unload my bottomless boxes of craft supplies. Today we rewarded our hard work at home with an afternoon out in our neighborhood, Lincoln Square (we actually ride the line between Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, and North Center, which is a fantastic line to ride).
Testing out a possible spot for consistent photos in today's adventuring outfit: thrifted skirt and tee with a gifted necklace.
After a responsible errand to the bank to start up my Big City Checking Account, we headed to Merz Apothecary (est. 1875!). The long, slender store is PACKED with everything natural and good smelling. Natural supplements to cure all ailments! Organic beauty products! Jars full of healthy herbal teas! Prices range from the affordable to the extraordinary, and the shop will definitely be my first stop for my next paraben- and aluminum-free deodorant, facial moisturizer, natural toothpaste, and silicon-free conditioner for my upcoming no-poo experiment.

Photo courtesy of Merz Apothecary.

The EL's brown line is conveniently located in the square, so we hopped on for a 10 minute ride to Belmont for a visit to Kickstand, a delicious and bare-bones coffee bar in Boystown. They use a La Marzocco GB5! With a Mazzer Robur! These are the machines of my beloved home coffee shop! Nothing, I am convinced, will ever compare to what comes out of Brewed Awakening's machine, but Kickstand got damn close.
Photo courtesy of Kickstand's website.
After a little wandering up and down Belmont, we snagged the train back to Lincoln and hit up Gene's Sausage Shop. Gene's is a two-story gourmet market and deli, with a counter full of well-priced grass fed beef and lots of local beers. We snagged two sirloin tips, a bottle of local apple pear cider, a jar of horseradish, and a lemon for $15. Daaaang that's cheap! Living in a city where high quality food is expected has its monetary rewards. The higher demand here has definitely cut their costs, where Iowan grocery stores seem to drive prices up to likely cover for unsold products. 
Our day's wares: Onions $2/bundle, sour cherries $5/quart, grass-fed sirloin $5.00/lb, horseradish $1.29, Raw milk cheddar and hand-rolled butter $10 total, lemon 69cents, cilantro plant (not pictured) $1.

And the best part! Just a block away from Gene's is our local farmer's market. It's small but carries anything you'd need: fruit and veggies, homemade breads and pastries, local raw cheese, organic meats, and sauces/granolas/dips. We snagged hand-rolled butter, raw aged cheddar cheese spread, three beautiful knobby onions, a quart of sour Michigan cherries, and a cilantro plant for $18! Next week we'll definitely wait to buy our produce and meats from the market, which begins conveniently when I get off work and is located literally next to my train stop. MmmMmmMmm.
A view of the market. The "skywalk" pictured in the photo is my train stop. MMM convenience.
Tomorrow I plan to swing by the craft store across the street and stock up on cheap fake flowers to adorn my cruiser in preparation for Saturday's Tour de Fat!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Hello, long lost internet friends! I live in Chicago now. Pretty weird. I've been "moving in the fall" and "moving in the spring" for about four years now, so it's nice for my own self-satisfaction that I finally did it.

Internet service arrived today, so expect regular updates soon. For now, check out my new living space!

Fancy TV: handed down from Jake's best friend (I know, right!?)
White hutch: found on the side of the road by Carissa and passed along to me (thanks, boo!)
Dress form: $20 from a church sale
Orange stool: $5.00 from Goodwill
Couch: Passed along by two good friends who could not fit it into their new home
Coffee Table: The ONLY bought-new item in the living room (with the exception of one blanket, the fan, and two pillows) from Target when I was in college, $110
Orange ottoman: Consigned from my favorite resale store in Iowa City, $10.00