Friends, if you live in Chicago, there's a good chance you already know about this exhibit. And if you don't live here, come visit us!! It's called The Happy Show, and it was dreamed up by Stefan Sagmeister, one of the world's most successful, inspiring graphic designers. When our small team at apartment number 9 heard it was coming to town, we reached out to Stefan to see if he'd be willing to answer some of our questions. What I'd love most about his answers is that they were short, sweet, and to the point. This man understands happiness far better than any of us. For instance, he has this theory that it's more beneficial to your career to take five years off of your retirement and split them up throughout your lifetime, thus resulting in year-long sabbaticals. These breaks give your mind, body, and soul time to recharge while you're still young. Sounds pretty fantastic, right? Here's the story, as well as a few photos I snapped while at the exhibit.
One of the biggest perks of being a journalist is getting to opportunity to interview truly inspiring people and then sharing their stories with the world. Last month, I wrote this piece for the Chicago Sun-Times about Bill Caswell, a former investment banker in Chicago who quit his job to be a rally racer—driving a car he bought off Craig's List for $500! After he won a few big tournaments, people caught wind of his story, including Jeremy Renner...who is turning it into a movie and playing the part of Bill. Can you imagine that happening to you? You take a huge risk, bet your odds on something you love, and find major success (personally and financially) in the process. And to have an Oscar-nominated actor like Jeremy Renner play you?! If a movie were to made about your life, what actor/actress would you want to have your part?
I've spent the past few days in Virginia with family, and yesterday, I vineyard hopped with my soon-to-be-sister-in-law Katie and her friends. As we sampled the wines, we smelled for notes of pear and peach and tried our best to taste those complex finishing spices. One tour guide even explained how he likes to personify wine. "This red is like that voluptuous, older Italian woman who owned the restaurant in Grumpier Old Men (aka Sophia Loren)." I'm totally planning to adopt this practice myself. At the second vineyard, Veritas, we ended our tour in a room that had obviously been spruced up for an event. Not only was the ceiling draped in white fabric, but huge white balloons hung throughout the space. Isn't the effect so cool? (By the way, I tried finding a source for these balloons, and here's a site with lots of options.) I also took a photo of the girls under this awesome wire sign that spelled LOVE in corks—which was especially fitting since we were celebrating Katie's upcoming wedding. So happy I could join in on celebrating this beautiful bride-to-be!
Do you remember the story behind Valentine's Day? According to legend, Saint Valentine was a Christian saint who was imprisoned for marrying soldiers forbidden to wed and ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. While in prison, it's said that he healed the daughter of his jailer. Before his execution, he wrote a letter signed "from your Valentine" as a farewell to her. And so many, many years later, we still write notes and give presents of love in his name. Every Monday, I devote my time and appetite (and sanity) to a few things I love: girlfriends, wine, cheese, bread, and The Bachelor...although that last one's definitely more of a love-hate situation. This past Monday, the girls and I upped the romance by making our own valentines. I pulled some supplies out from the depths of my craft bureau, and we set to work post episode. Here's what we came up with:
If you don't have the time, supplies or energy to make your own notes, I suggest sending an e-card, like the one below, that benefits Hurricane Sandy Relief. Because, as well all know, there's nothing sweeter than giving to those in need.
Dear inventor of emoji,Thank you for inventing such adorable little graphics that have brought great joy to my texting life. Your keyboard has made my adult friends and I feel as giddy as schoolchildren—while serving as a fantastic tool for procrastination—and for that, we all applaud you. In a miraculous feat of perseverance and persuasion, I even convinced my husband to jump on board (and then I promptly sent him this article). Keep it up. Sincerely, Jourdan
PS: In an act of true love (and possibly lunacy), I made some DIY emoji stationery that's easy to recreate. Use the graphics to congratulate a friend on a new job or wish someone a happy birthday—or just string a bunch of hilarious images that make absolutely no sense. Can you figure out what the ones below say? PPS: Don't worry about cutting these out perfectly (mine sure aren't). That's clearly not the point. Step 1: Download the emoji keyboard. Take a photo on your phone of each emoji page you'd like to use. Step 2: Email the photos to yourself; open each photo and take a screen grab of the graphics. Step 3: Paste each screen grab into a Word document, resizing as necessary; print out the pages on adhesive inkjet paper. Step 4: To create round stickers, use a penny to trace a circle around the graphic. Step 5: Cut the graphics out, remove the paper backing, and stick the graphics onto card stock, tags, or blank cards.
As a freelance writer, you spend tons of time researching story ideas to pitch to magazine editors. Some ideas are more general, while others are more specific to a location, like Chicago. I've spent the past five months engrossing myself in this city's media world, restaurant scene, and arts community. And nearly every day, I stumble upon brilliant work that inspires me. In particular, these three female artists with Windy City addresses truly blow me away (had to). Melanie Pankau:
I'm bustling about the apartment, prepping for the arrival of our nearly six-year-old niece and sister-in-law. They'll be in town to celebrate our niece's sixth birthday, and we've made plans to hit up the American Girl store (deep breaths), eat deep-dish pizza, and dance along with the Joffrey Ballet. And because her latest dream is to be an Olympic ice skater, Andrew has graciously volunteered to teach her how to skate. In the South, ice skating only happens indoors, so it'll be special to see her learn under the big city lights. If I survive living up North long enough to have kiddos, I'd love to host an outdoor ice skating party, like this gorgeous one by Kate from Beautiful Days Events in Maine. Have a wonderful weekend!
Last Saturday morning, I invited some gals over to fuel up on Bloody Mary's and homemade grits casserole before heading to the annual Renegade Holiday Market. And thank heavens we had food in our bellies because the crowds. were. crazy. It was nearly impossible to make pit stops at every booth, but I managed to snap a few shots of my favorite little finds, most of which I'd never seen the likes of before. For some reason, I was more attracted to the masculine goods than the girly stuff. Perhaps I was subconsciously reminding myself that I still need to shop for a certain man in my life. Let the countdown begin! I adored this beautiful $7 ornament from White Nest Shop, these kitschy square magnets by i am home, this handcrafted bottle opener by Strand Design, a few funky wooden tie clips by Bird of Virtue, this blue line-inspired pillow by Zero Bird Studio,an anatomically awesome serving platter by folded pigs dinnerware, gorgeous geode wood ornaments by Michelle Hartney, these dagger necklaces by Cities of Dust, and last but certainly not least, these mixed metal necklaces by Laura Lombardi.
This week, one of my dearest friends from New York was in town to film a series of videos for DailyCandy.com. Fortunately for me, Lauren and her coworker Emily (DC's fantastic Chicago editor) let me tag along—and snap pics while they worked. On our first stop, we popped into the Logan Square hot spot Bang Bang Pie Shop. No matter how you slice it, this cafe exudes warmth: exposed brick walls, a darling coffee bar, and vintage letter boards that spell out the latest pie varieties (I'll take a chocolate mint to go, please). And MY GOD, are their biscuits delicious. Top one with black pepper honey butter and fresh cranberry jam, wash it down with a fresh-roasted cup of coffee, and I promise you will not be disappointed.