Category Archives: photography

around the world and back again.

Somehow I blinked and all of my anticipated travel came and went. With the exception of two trips to NYC in the next couple of months, I’m officially done traveling for the year.

I wish I had made an effort to write about my trips in a timely manner. I’m only sitting down now to write something down because all of my trips over the last seven months have been so important to me. I’ve passed through countries I didn’t know I would ever see. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far and look forward to planning future trips, both locally and internationally.


I loved Rome so much more than I thought I would. It’s big and beautiful and busy. The best gelato I will ever have is in Rome; it’s so good I went a total of three times in the span of a few days. We saw the sights you’re told to see, the structures that have stood the test of time. But I think my favorite moments in this city were just wandering around, lounging on steps in Trastevere or exploring Pigneto, where our Airbnb was. And it goes without saying that the food is amazing. Even on our first night, when we arrived late and went to a small cafe around the corner to get dinner, it was so, so good.


Our time in Florence was unfortunately marred by a stomach bug that left us both incapacitated for a chunk of our trip. We managed to get over it after a day and a half, thankfully. If anything, it’s reason enough to return to Florence someday to make up for lost time. I’m glad we chose to go to the Amalfi coast last, as it was a really relaxing way to end our honeymoon. My favorite memory of our last couple of days was walking up a steep hill in search of dinner and stumbling upon a restaurant with a beautiful view of Positano down below.

I thought two weeks was the perfect amount of time for this trip, even though it still went by insanely fast. Italy is everything I thought it would be and I’m glad we picked it as our honeymoon destination.

Then in late May/early June, I was in Seoul for a work trip:


While I was on-site working the majority of the time I was there, it didn’t stop me and my co-workers from heading out every night to explore. Koreans are really nice and helpful; I had people come to my rescue on at least two separate occasions due to the language barrier. I only knew how to say hello and thank you; while that was helpful, it didn’t exactly bridge the gap. I arrived to Seoul a couple of days early and stayed a couple of days after my work assignment, which helped immensely with getting used to the time difference (14 hours!) and relaxing before the long journey home. I ate amazing food and bought a hilarious amount of Korean beauty products. Korea has never been high on the list of places I want to travel to in Asia, but I really enjoyed my time there. Seoul is so huge that there was no way to see everything, so I know I could easily go back and see new things.

Now it’s summer here in Chicago and my 30th birthday is a mere 20ish days away. Not that I’m counting or anything. I’m really glad I was able to fit in so much international travel before the big 3-0; it was an important milestone I wanted to hit before I leave my 20s. And I’m already planning potential trips in my mind for the next couple of years.


chicago neighborhoods: andersonville

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Andersonville. Actually, according to my blog, it’s been almost two years. Now that I live closer to this ‘hood, I’m hoping to make visits to this area a regular thing.

Alex and I spent a chunk of Saturday afternoon in Andersonville, beginning with lunch at Jerry’s. This is their 2nd location; the original is in Wicker Park. It’s a great place for a burger and some beer.

andersonville2andersonville1 Other great restaurants in the area: Hamburger Mary’s for yet more burgers and craft beer, Acre for casual, rustic American food, and if you’re vegetarian like me, Reza’s is great for veggie-friendly Middle Eastern food. If you’re in the area for brunch, you can’t beat the Bongo Room.

Afterwards, we walked over to one of my favorite local shops: the Andersonville Galleria. It’s a collection of handmade goods from local merchants; it has everything from art to clothing to food. It’s three stories tall and it’s highly unlikely you’ll walk out of there empty-handed, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. I can never resist picking up a bag of salted bourbon caramels and Alex picked up some homemade soap (that smells damn manly).


I can never go to Andersonville without stopping at Hopleaf for a pint, so we ended up at the bar for a quick drink before heading out for more shopping. Hopleaf is easily one of the best beer bars in the city and has a reputation for keeping great beers and ciders on tap and in stock. I’ve never been disappointed there.

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The best thing about Andersonville is all the vintage shops to check out. We ended up at Brimfield, one of my favorites. It’s an eclectic mix of stuff, mostly Americana (think old liquor bottles, wool blankets, and taxidermy). It looks like everything in there came from old cabins and homes around the Midwest and I sorta love it.

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Alex walked out with a glass decanter he is currently keeping whiskey in and I had restrain myself from grabbing a candle I definitely don’t need. Other great vintage shops in the area to check out are Roost, Scout, and White Attic.

I didn’t make it to one of my favorite places in the area, which is The Coffee Studio in the northern part of the neighborhood. I’ll definitely swing by soon, since I love buying their delicious pre-made iced coffee mix. It’s bound to be warm enough for iced coffee soon… I hope.

Once summer hits, I’m looking forward to doing more posts like this. I never get tired of visiting other neighborhoods in this city. :)

foto friday: this past week






Pictured above: Coffee shop menu / More coffee shop signage / Snow-covered trees / Walking to work / Looking up while at Daley Plaza

As much as I love using Instagram, I sometimes take pictures that I don’t always end up sharing on that platform. I think my blog (and Flickr account) are a better place to show full-size images.

I’ve been snapping at least one picture a day this week, as way to challenge myself to capture something about life every day. All of the pictures above were taken on my iPhone and edited with the Afterglow app.

This weekend is full of birthday gatherings, plans for new home-cooked meals, and just unwinding. I’m really looking forward to it. Have a lovely weekend!

foto friday: latte obsession

Taken with: iPhone 4. Edited with: Afterlight.

I snapped this picture last weekend the morning I bought my new car. Alex and I stopped by Caffe Streets to grab some coffee and a light breakfast before heading to the dealership. But if we had known we would be there for so long, I think we would have ordered some more substantial.

Last weekend was so whirlwind and this week was so busy at work, it’s nice to be working from home today. I’m sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops, free of my cubicle walls for at least a day. I’m looking forward to a much more relaxed weekend, starting with tonight: Alex is having a boys night out and I’m staying in with my roommates. Drinking wine and watching The Mindy Project in bed sounds like pretty much the best thing ever right now.

Have a good weekend! :)

stuff i love: over app

I’m slowly becoming one of those people who collect photo editing apps on their phone. What can I say? It’s kinda addicting. My latest discovery is currently one of my favorite and I thought I’d share: Over.


If you’re like me, you’re not a designer but can appreciate great typography. Over has a great library of fonts to choose from for just .99 cents. For another .99 cents, you can unlock even more fonts to use. I’ve been playing around with it and kinda love it so far. I updated my About Me picture (over on the right) with this app. You’ll definitely be seeing a few pictures with text pop up in my Instagram feed soon too.

I have so much to do this week before heading out to San Diego on Saturday for a work conference. I’ll be out there for a week (?!), so big things like buying a new car will have to wait until I get back.

Are there any photo apps out there that you love? Please do share (in case I don’t already have it)!

photos and film.

I got my a recent roll of film developed a few weeks ago, but completely spaced on posting them on my blog. Can you tell I’ve been distracted? Ah well, better late than never!

I took the majority of these when I was in Pilsen with Alex for the day. We walked around the neighborhood on a chilly day, grabbed coffee at Cafe Jumping Bean, and had dinner at Honky Tonk BBQ. I never get tired of looking at all the different murals in the area. Here are a few choice shots from the day:

pilsenfilm1This mural has been around since I was in college. New ones always pop up, but this one is definitely my favorite by far.

pilsenfilm2Adorable boyfriend is adorable.

pilsenfilm3For those of you who didn’t grow up watching Mexican sitcoms with your mom like I did, this is a mural of El Chavo, from the show El Chavo de Ocho.

I realized recently that is really only my 4th roll of film on the 34mm camera that Alex gave me, so I’m definitely still learning a lot. But I love photography and I hope to really develop some actual skills. And because Alex is ever so supportive in this endeavor, he got me a great present for Christmas:


I am so, so excited to use my new Diana camera! I haven’t used a toy camera since I was a kid. In fact, my first toy camera, which really was more of a toy and I used a ridiculous amount (my mom can attest to this because I insisted that she develop all of my film), was was a pink plastic Barbie camera and yes, I loved it to death. I was six, ok?

I’m really looking forward to making time to use my new camera and over time, get new accessories for it as well. If anyone has any tips on working my Diana (or photography tips in general), I’d love to hear them. :)

foto friday: twinkle lights

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Downtown Chicago. Taken with: iPhone 4. Edited with: Afterglow.

Is anyone else as obsessed with twinkle lights as I am? I love that Chicago is almost immediately covered in lights after Thanksgiving. One of the many festive things I completely adore about the holidays.

The next two weekends are packed with tons to do. This weekend: Alex’s grandpa’s birthday in the ‘burbs, the first of many Christmas parties, and the final round of shopping for presents. At least tonight will be relaxing: date night at Mana followed by catching up on American Horror Story.

Have a great weekend! :)

lomography and cookies.

I’ve been not-so patiently waiting for the new Lomography store to open up in my neighborhood. Lo and behold, they finally opened their doors on Friday so I stopped in on a quiet Saturday afternoon to check it out and pick up some film.



The store is simple and well organized. I met the owner, who was really nice and helpful. She mentioned in addition to events, they’ll hopefully be offer photo developing services in the coming weeks. Yay! No more dealing with the likes of Walgreens. Also, while looking around, I saw this beauty and fell in love with it:


It’s the Lubitel 166+. There’s something about the recreation of old, classic cameras that I really love. Although I totally can’t afford the splurge, I can admire it from afar. And I did pick up a 3-pack of different films. I can’t wait to start using my camera again. I used it so much last summer and got tons of great shots, so I’m hoping to capture more of the fall and winter this time around.

On top of this, I got bit by the baking bug again. Late last month, Alex showed me an interesting cookie recipe and asked (practically insisted, honestly) that I try it out. While I’ve baked with booze before, I’ve never tried this ingredient before: hot sauce.


So what you see pictured above are peanut butter and Sriracha cookies. Yes, this is a thing. And yes, I added the Sriracha with a slight amount of dread. I had no idea what to expect. They looked like normal, yummy peanut butter cookies when they came out of the oven, but I was still worried about the taste. The end result? Peanut butter sugary goodness with a spicy aftertaste. As someone who loves pretty much everything I bake and hot sauce, Alex LOVED these cookies. It’s definitely an interesting mix, but a surprisingly tasty one.

This will probably be a month of cookie baking, since I have my eye on another new recipe that I can’t wait to try and just in time for my friend Mai’s visit (she’s currently on tour with Grizzly Bear and will be in Chicago soon!).

foto friday: pride


Oh look! Foto Friday is BACK. Hopefully this is something I can keep up with, especially with Instagram around to constantly post pictures with. I want this to feature pictures that haven’t already been posted elsewhere on the interwebs.

This shot is from last weekend’s Pride Parade. I used my iPhone and the VSCO Cam app (which was recommended by the lovely Liz). So far, I really love this app. It’s a nice change of pace from Instagram (which don’t get me wrong, I still totally adore).

This is my last day at work! Crazy. This weekend should be fun, and will include shenanigans like seeing “Magic Mike” with the guys (because they also like guys and this was THEIR IDEA, ok?) and helping Emmet move on Sunday. Then it’s off to the new gig on Monday. Eek!

Have a great weekend! :)

see you soon, 2012.

Before I start talking about the end of the year, please watch the video above. It’s wonderful and touching and will probably make you cry (because it definitely made me shed a few tears). 2011 was quite a year. It’s a year that I had been waiting for, for quite some time. I had serious ups and downs since graduating college in 2008. And while I don’t necessarily feel like I standing steadily on both two feet just yet, I finally know that I’m well on my way there.

In 2011, I:

Went on a dating detox for 5 months. At the end of May, I met Alex and as they say, the rest is pretty much history. :)
I am so lucky to be someone so wonderful and so happy in our relationship. I feel secure, loved, and blessed. I couldn’t ask for anything better.

Had an amazing summer, filled with adventures with friends and Alex. There was visits to the beach, drinks, outdoor festivals (including one in Milwaukee, my first time there), and everything in between. It was definitely one of my favorite things about this year.

Dabbled in creativity. Alex gave me an old film camera he had in college and I’ve all but fallen in love with it. I’ve always loved photography and working with film takes time and patience, but I adore it. I’m looking to buy more film soon and dabbling even more in the winter months. :)

Baked like whoa. It’s no secret that I love baking and I love getting some practice in. I did a little bit of everything and tried lots of new stuff this year, including pumpkin bread and Alex’s favorite cookies.

Lost my job. It’s not as awful as it sounds. I worked for a small publishing company for a year and got laid off because my projects got cut. This sort of stuff happens. And it wasn’t until I left that I realized how unhappy I was with my job. In a way, it was almost a relief. And I’ve been a full-time freelancer in the past, so I wasn’t completely blindsided. I was also fortunate enough to find employment with my alma mater, and it let’s me do more web/social media stuff than editorial. It’s not full-time but it has potential and I still have a couple of freelance gigs going on the side, but I’m so grateful for the opportunity and potential career change.

All in all, 2011 was so much more than I thought it would be. I survived my first blizzard. I fell in love. I travelled to Texas a few times. I had fun. I grew up. Like I said, I finally feel like I’m finding some steady ground. And tonight, you’ll find me a little Irish pub with Alex in his neighborhood, ringing in what should be a nice, relaxed new year. See you all then. :)