frances in the city

from my phone?
December 14, 2011, 3:43 pm
Filed under: Chicago!

Did you guys know you can update WordPress blogs from your iPhone? Pretty crazy. I’m in my last marathon critique of the semester and I am SO grateful. Come 4:50 today I’ll be one advertising course away from a degree, the rest of my spring classes are basically fun times (with a lot of hard work).

In general, this has been a pretty easy semester and finals season. Praise the Lord! I’ve been able to spend time with people I love, and I am so thankful for the abundant free time I’ve been blessed with.

This Sunday was a fun day with two of the first friends I made in Chicago. Alison rented a zipcar and drove us to Hyde Park for brunch with my old roommate Megan. I love them both so much but we aren’t able to hang out very often. Alison is moving to the Mississippi delta this summer for Teach for America but is going home to Kentucky for the time in between…it’s crazy that she’ll be graduates and gone after this week! After a tasty breakfast, we went to Promontory Point Park to film a video for Alison’s “Goddess” class. Yes. That is the name and subject of a class. Megan was featured as the goddess, and I passed the time taking pictures of a nearby COYOTE straight chilling at the beach. It was acting like a cat, basking in the sun in the middle of the city. What. Definitely made the day memorable.

Afterward we went to Megan’s apartment for tea and studying. It was so good to do work with Megan–we used to be together constantly and I’ve missed the casualness that comes from living together.

God is blessing me so abundantly in this season. He always provides just enough time to get things done. I’m looking forward to making it to Sunday when I’ll join my parents in Wisconsin before driving back to Kansas for Christmas. I HOPE THERE WILL BE FUDGE!






sweeeeet saturday
November 5, 2011, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Chicago!

It’s 2 pm on a Saturday, and it’s already been quite eventful.

My friend Blue is a film student at Columbia, and this weekend she is shooting a short film she’s worked a very¬†long time on. She asked a few of our lady friends to prepare lunch for the cast and crew each of the days of the shoot. This morning I got up and made a LOT of pasta and an alfredo sauce and baked two giant pans of pasta with broccoli. It was a fairly simple process, just a little tedious. A few of the crew members are vegetarian, and the costume designer can’t eat gluten, so those things were taken into consideration. I had the meal all ready to go, wrapped in foil and wiggled into a cart, except for the giant pan that was resting on a box lid balancing on top of the cart. I pushed it out to one of the busier streets to catch a cab, and when I turned the cart just slightly, the box top slid off and the aluminum roasting pan fell face down¬†on the sidewalk. I didn’t know what to do and was so flustered. A sweet couple out for a walk stopped to apologize, but there was nothing any of us could do! Fortunately, probably only four or five (of the intended 30 servings) were sacrificed to the concrete, and I turned the pan right side up and wailed a little, and then got in a cab. There was nothing else to be done! It was pretty horrific, but I’m thankful there was enough of the gluten-free pasta and salad to feed everyone.
They’re filming on the roof of an apartment building in the middle of downtown, and the set/view was incredible! I see so many buildings from street level only and rarely have the opportunity to see some of the tops closer. The one in this picture is supposed to look like a¬†champagne¬†bottle.¬†Classy, right?

After dropping off lunch, I stopped for a coffee from Intelligentsia, which is such a treat. They have all these fancy ways of brewing coffee, I usually don’t understand what’s going on. I’ve been making French press coffee in the little press Caroline got me for my birthday, and there are so many more flavors in each cup! I didn’t intend to become a coffee snob, and I’m probably not full blown, but I’m so thankful to be able to appreciate all of these little things!

The weather today is quintessential beautiful autumn in Chicago. So glorious. I walked all the way back to my apartment since it felt so nice. God has used Chicago to teach me so much about contentment. The present is such an enormous gift, and knowing that the seasons will change makes me embrace what is happening now. I won’t be able to walk a few miles without gloves in two months. It will be miserably cold. So for now I will walk every chance I get and enjoy all of the leaves changing colors and the clear sky.

I wish I had a photo of Halloween to share. I was a lobster and it was my favorite costume ever. Pictures from our dance party at church should be up before too long, hopefully I’ll remember to put one here later. I’m very excited to be acquiring an iPhone in a few weeks, for many reasons but specifically because I’ll have a decent camera to upload pictures with. Wouldn’t it be nice if I shared bits of my life more frequently?

Also, here is a photo of a dachshund wearing a shark costume last weekend. Best. Ever.

a little bit of lately: the flood
September 1, 2011, 12:21 am
Filed under: Chicago!

I spent the end of July and the first half of August living out of three suitcase, depending on the kindness of friends and eating $7 dinners. The city of Chicago received eight inches of rain in two hours one evening and sewage backed up into my (recently acquired) ground level apartment. I was at Runamuc for the weekend and had no idea how bad the flooding was; I only knew they had asked us to evacuate our apartments for the immediate future. I spent that Sunday worrying over which sketchbooks were on the floor and what papers were safely in a plastic tub under my bed. As it turned out, sometimes imagining the worst can be the best: when I entered my apartment late that night I was truly¬†delighted to see that we had lost none of our things, that the water had seeped in through the edges of our walls and damaged only the perimeters of our living room, bathroom and hallway. We were so fortunate. The apartment complex I live in had to deal with 32 damaged apartments, 26 of which were occupied. I opted to stay with friends in my old neighborhood, choosing quality time in a home over camping in a hotel room. Their hospitality was so wonderful and most of the time it felt like a slumber party. My dear (dear) friend Tayler baked over 300 cupcakes for her friends’ wedding. So that was one adventure. We also watched a lot of 90’s Nickelodeon and braided each others’ hair (really). I finally moved back into my apartment the third weekend of August. Both of my roommates were in different states, and I was able to unpack boxes at leisure and reorganize things without a committee. I¬†acquired¬†a beautiful couch and chair that make lounging and chatting ideal, and I’ve got more fire in my belly than before to make our apartment into a home.¬†¬†God is so good to me, and he reminded me that things are just things, and inconveniences like this draw me closer to Him and His people.

It’s a new season! Summer is ending, and I’m hoping to catch up little by little. I know it’s been a while, but it’s been the very best sort of busy.

Macs Go To Florida 2011
January 15, 2011, 4:12 pm
Filed under: Family

I’ve got a big cup of coffee, my roommate is playing Iron & Wine, and I’ve got¬† project I should be working on, so it seems like the perfect time to recap our New Year’s Florida jaunt. You may have seen these pictures before if you’re on The Facebooks, but I didn’t take a single story-telling picture, so we’ll just have to exploit the combined resources of Gordon and Mom’s iPhones*.

*please harass them if you would like higher quality copies of anything you see here (with the exception of the first picture where we all appear to be not quite ourselves).

Some quick facts:

  • This was our first time flying together since Anne qualified as a “lap child.” That term is funny when you think about laptops and lap dogs and lap pools.
  • We left the house at 3:45 AM on New Year’s Day. Like, when some people go to bed. We were the first flight out, and they literally warmed the plane up like we do with cars when they’ve been sitting outside overnight. Due to my upbringing, I would not have been surprised if the pilot had asked us to “help scrape down the windows with a debit card” (amIrightDad?)
  • Florida weather in January is SUBLIME. 70 degrees with light breezes.
  • We were there for 6 days total and were so well fed and loved.

Mom got us seats all right next to each other! Apparently this is possible for six people when you book earlyEARLY flights on New Year's Day months in advance.

We did a lot of leisurely beach strolling.

Anne was being mouthy and nearly got it.

Dad didn't bring a single pair of shorts with him (even though it's January, it's still Florida), so his pant-rolling struck us as awkward. And then we decided to take awkward over the top. Not a challenge.

oh look a nice picture of all of us! Thanks to the stranger on the beach who did not steal my mom's phone.

so we were talking about steak. Grandpa was saying that he liked a nice rib-eye, and we all agreed that they were tasty and wonderful. Due to my steak education at Amarillo Grill, I added my opinion about T-bones: T-bones are awesome because the cut is comprised of both a rib-eye AND a filet. That's a TWO-fer (or as the professionals call it, the Hannah Montana of steaks. It's got the best of both worlds.) And Grandpa took that as reason enough to generously get ALL of us porterhouse steaks (the BIGGER version of a t-bone) and make them for dinner. It was out of hand and SO DELICIOUS and appreciated. Lots of people shared, because porterhouses are ridiculously large.

we went to the beach REAL early to watch the sun rise, and this is all we got.

ok we also got donuts and coffee and quality family time. but still, it would not have killed the clouds to offer us Kansas folk a proper beach sunrise. I mean, we got out of bed for this.

Gordon and Dad put air in the tires of Grandpa's trike. Sweet ride!

we played Texas Hold 'Em nearly every night. Let it be known that all of us one at least one game EXCEPT for Grandpa. He was a good teacher.

we took a day trip to Daytona Beach and went on a tour at the Daytona International Speedway. Nascar y'all!

This tram took us around the speedway and on the track. That place is HUGE.

they let us take a picture in Victory Lane, so we all made our winner faces. Number 1!

Thanks so much for the hospitality Grandma, Grandpa and the Sunshine State! We had FUN.

ORD to PIT (several months later…)
January 6, 2011, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Family

Have you ever met my Pittsburgh cousins? They’re real gems, and I made an early November visit to their hometown to campaign for the office of “favorite cousin.” An unintentionally delayed blog post (with pictures) was part of the bribe for a securing my position. Other tools used to leverage the situation? Intelligentsia coffee and Garrett’s Popcorn. Bribery works, people*. Riley, if you’re (capable of) reading this I’d really like a certificate, or some sort of medal.

*It should be noted that my uncle Kenneth was the chief negotiator in this exchange, if you can believe that.

The trip was mainly about seeing Pittsburgh life as they lead it, and I jumped right in. Uncle Kenneth picked me up from the airport Friday morning, and we spent the day setting up for a fundraiser for his work. I joined the “bling” team in embellishing the silent auction goods (who knew so much goes into these things?) while Kenneth prepared a skit/presentation and consoled me over the severe lack of cream cheese on my morning bagel. The event took place in one of the older hotels in downtown Pittsburgh and was seriously beautiful. Not so lovely was the burst water pipe that flooded the lobby during the evening, but these things happen, and we canoed home safely.

swanky, eh? If this post were more timely than it actually is, I'd be able to confidently share fun facts about the space. Alas.

I was (and am) a big fan of these light fixtures. We all need a bit more ornamentation in our lives.

The ballrooms were on the top floor of the hotel, so we rode the elevator quite a bit...such a delightful carpet design.

The following are magical coffee experiences #1 & 2.

#1: I woke up Saturday morning to coffee in bed. I'm not sure this bed and breakfast is looking for advertising, but I can vouch that the experience is superb.

Saturday afternoon, Uncle Kenneth and I took a leisurely stroll to their favorite neighborhood coffee shop, Tazza Doro. The gentleman behind the counter assured us that they were most known for their Italian cappuccinos, so that’s what we tried. He was right. They were wonderful.

charming & delicious

another weekend coffee experience included this delightful Italian capucino. I always feel special when they make designs in the milk.

We spent Saturday just living life. Aunt Lynette and I made a trip to Trader Joe’s…they’re soon to receive a Target in their neighborhood, so their neighborhood is two for two on Frances’ list of critical retail outlets. We also made mini apple pies and played Apples to Apples. Saturday’s theme was apples?

itty bitty mini cranberry apple pies. (count the adjectives)

Kaileigh hard at work.

This is the family dog Tole. Riley took a slew of pictures with my camera phone, so there's a bunch more where this came from.

There are no photos of the final product, but the pies were delicious! Saturday night we watched Duck Soup, which I was reminded of after witnessing this Skype exchange.

like looking in a mirror.

Turns out that Kaileigh, Ian and Riley are at the ideal age for Marx Brother exposure. Harpo was a favorite, for obvious reasons.

Pittsburgh is divided into a series of neighborhoods even more defined than those in Chicago. On Sunday we explored Oakland, home of University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon and the family church.

beautiful beautiful windows.

After church we ate lunch at the “O” (I feel so in calling it that!), home of tasty hot dogs and HUGEEE portions of french fries.

This is Ian with a large portion. It served six people. I love the expressions.

Some poor, naive man ordered too much french fries, so we took them off his hands (after he offered, obviously). We left soooo stuffed! After lunch we visited the Carnegie Mellon Library. I tell you this: if such a library existed in Kansas during my library heyday, I would have never ever left. My cousins make the most of this resource, and it was fun to look for books with them.

Kaileigh and Riley on the steps of the  library.

Later we poked our heads in the University of Pittsburgh’s “Cathedral of Learning.” At 42 stories, it’s the second tallest academic building in the world, and just anybody can walk in! There was a Polish festival on the main floor (lots of polka and sauerkraut), but we went as high as we could.

soooo tall!

beautiful view of the campus and neighborhood. That's the Mellon library and museum in the bottom left.

We spent Sunday evening working on homework projects, and I flew out Monday morning in time for my class at noon. It was a jam packed weekend, but so worth it and delightfully fun. I sincerely enjoyed Pittsburgh and its people. I’ll be back, favorite cousins!*

*preceding enthusiasm was authentic and not directly related to my campaign for favorite cousin, though necessary for proper exchange.

November 8, 2010, 7:03 pm
Filed under: rando

a little list of things that are making my day/saving my day:

  • This little guy:
  • sugar cookies
  • Mumford & Sons (they are seriously my life right now, look them up if you haven’t already)
  • coffeeeeee
  • coffee ice cream

as settled as I’ve been
November 5, 2010, 5:24 pm
Filed under: Chicago!

ever wonder what my desk area looks like when it’s clean?
nope? then check back later.

I’ve lived in my present apartment since August of last year…so I guess we’re going on 15 months together. The majority of our apartment is carefully curated and decorated (and naturally I’ve never shown you what the rest of it looks like), but I avoided all beautification of my room for a whole year. I knew what I wanted to do, but time + money weren’t playing well together and it wasn’t really a priority, so I just put it off.

WELL. I finally hung shelves above my desk two-ish months ago. Naturally, there was some mis-measuring and they aren’t quite correct, but they’re functional. And last weekend I simplified my bulletin board plan (really, there was a highly involved plan) and bought four cork squares. Both of these are incredible improvements and have freed up my desk space exponentially. Another cool thing about it is that it looks like I actually live here. I’m for it.

theory: this could lead to productivity
actuality: all of this is the result of procrastination, so there you go.

check out that cleanliness. finally everything has a place.
you may notice that the shelves don’t line up with the brackets. that’s because they don’t.
the only pictures I take these days are either of this nugget or food.¬†¬†¬†¬† yeah…cat lady in training.

About that soup right there…it is delicious. You can read the recipe here. My mom was flying back to Kansas a few Sundays ago and weather delays made her miss her connecting flight. Frustrating, but she was able to spend the night here with me, eating soup and pumpkin muffins and watching Pretty Woman. So if you’re wondering if curried sweet potato soup is worth your time, you can hassle her about it.