six weeks later… here is what i wore today for $2.50

Thrifted clothing day: tank which was cut from a tee by someone the exact same size as me but has a tiny hole in the back, 50 cents; skirt by Theory, $2.

I had to change out of the skirt to leave the house as it turned out to be quite see-through. A girl always needs a red slip, though, right?

(I cannot believe I am letting you see my kitchen counter that messy. I gotta go straighten up.)

xxoo

panama, the first half

#colorful #cargo #ship #panamacanal #ciudaddepanama #panama #igerspanama #pacific #ocean #water #boats #sky

Stop whatever you’re doing and book a trip to Panama. Don’t pass go, don’t collect $200, don’t ask if you can have the week off, just DO IT and hope it all works out. Seriously. Start in Panama City.

Our digs in the city, beautiful views... #interior #cascoviejo #cascoantiguo #panamacity #centralamerica #panama

Book an apartment at Casa Antigua. Try to reserve one on the second or third floor; they have balconies overlooking Casco Viejo and the presidential palace (police everywhere!) and the newer, fancier Panama City skyline. The other apartments boast private roof access but then you don’t get to see the life going on in the streets below. Regardless, the views are both amazing. The units come with a full kitchen, living room, dining room and bedroom.

#drinks on the #balcony with a beautiful woman... @urbancasita #dusk #panama #centralamerica #ciudaddepanama #igerspanama #cascoantiguo #cascoviejo

Balcony view.

#rooftops #cityscape #city #ciudaddepanama #panama #centralamerica #birds #igerspanama

Rooftop view.

After you check in, head to Relic for a drink. If it’s a weekend night prepare for crowds and loud music but quick service at the bar. You can wear flip flops with cutoffs or a cocktail dress and fit right in. Drink a lot of water with your beer.

Strolling #cascoantiguo #cascoviejoStrolling through #cascoviejo #cascoantiguo to find @urbancasita her morning caffeine fix

Wake up late and stroll around the amazing neighborhood that is Casco Viejo/Cacso Antiguo. We were in this area of the city for three entire days and I never got tired of simply walking around and looking at all of the buildings.

Typical #cascoviejo #cascoantiguo #architecture #panama #igerspanama #ciudaddepanama #turqouise#colonial #architecture #cascoviejo #cascoantiguo #panamacity #centralamerica #panamaBalcony #cascoantiguo #cascoviejoCan I please live up there? #cascoantiguo #cascoviejo#cascoviejo #cascoantiguoPink #cascoantiguo #cascoviejoBeautiful #colonial #architecture in #cascoviejo #cascoantiguo #panamacity #centralamerica#colorful #fence #cascoviejo #cascoantiguo #panama #panamacity #centralamerica#colonial era #church in #cascoviejo #cascoantiguo #old #architecture #panamacity #panama #ciudaddepanama #centralamerica

Eat dinner at Ego y Narciso, a cute little place on Plaza Bolivar where you can sit outside and drink delicious sangria.

Wake up early on day two, stroll the area some more and have coffee at Casa del Horno. Then find Braulio from Truly Panama and have him take you to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal. He’ll point out all of the sights on your way there with a lot of history thrown in. If you’re a boot-in-the-ass-American who doesn’t want to hear about our country’s sore spots, just take a regular taxi. We have an interesting history down there and Braulio is a wealth of information.

#boat #ship traversing the #panamacanal...being lowered via the locks. #engineering #panama #centralamerica #igerspanama#ship moving through the locks at the #panamacanal #panama #centralamerica #motion #pacific #atlantic #amazing #igerspanama

The canal is bananas. To imagine such a feat of engineering back in 1914 is crazy. As The Mister put it: a marvel of human ingenuity, engineering, and exploitation.

You’ll be pretty tired when you get back to Casa Antigua, so have a bite downstairs at Ay! Carmela, the proprietor’s little restaurant. You can sit outside with a glass of wine and talk about all that you saw.

Dinner: Rene Cafe. Delicious, prix-fixe, lots of courses, outdoor seating.

The next day, take a walk down the waterfront at the edge of Casco Viejo. There is a beautiful promenade that stretches all the way downtown.

#sky #red #symmetry #pattern #geometric #structure #architecture #color #colorful #colour #panama #centralamerica #panamacity#panamacity #centralamerica #panama #embarcadero #architecture #pattern #geometric #lines #blue #colour #color #colorful #skyline #pacific #water #ocean#embarcadero #centralamerica #igerspanama #panamacity #panama #sky #structure #lines #green#colorful #color #colour #red #blue #yellow #lines #geometric #pattern #architecture #panama #centralamerica #panamacity#colorful #architecture #highrise #panama #centralamerica #panamacity #igerspanama #modern

Then catch a taxi to Panama Viejo, founded in August of 1519 and the oldest settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas.

@urbancasita on the grounds of #panamaviejo, the first city settlement (1600s)... #ruins #ruinas #historical #panama #igerspanama #centralamerica #wife#vista #tower #ruins #ruinas #historical #panamaviejo #igerspanama #centralamerica #ciudaddepanama #panama #vegetation #tree #flowers#flowers #vegetation #ruins #ruinas #panamaviejo #historical #panama #igerspanama #centralamerica#wife @urbancasita walking towards the #ruins #ruinas #panama #ciudaddepanama #centralamerica #igerspanama #panamaviejo #historical
#vista #tower #skyline #ciudaddepanama #panama #centralamerica #vegetation #trees

Find a taxi back to Casco Viejo and walk over to Tantalo, a hotel, restaurant, and rooftop bar that we visited on its 74th day open according to a manager. I really wish we had stopped in on our very first night in Casco Viejo. The cocktails were fantastic and the service was the best we had on our trip. The view from the roof was stunning.

LightsCocktails!

A month to explore Panama City would have been better but it was time for us to move on to Isla Contadora. That will be part two.

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Hello 2012 from St. Thomas
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hello from panama city

Okay, okay. I’m back. My embarrassment at not completing my own seven day challenge kept me away. To be fair, I’ve had a lot going on. Do you see the bags underneath those eyes?!

1. We bought a condo!!!!!! Closing isn’t until late April, so cross your fingers that everything pans out. The inspection was on Friday and it went well. There is tons of work to do which means more posting as we get into it; it is a foreclosure and the previous owner left with all of the appliances– even the vanity from one of the bathrooms– which I can understand and appreciate. That stuff was hers/his. Fine by me. I see it as a challenge and not a hindrance. We can truly make the space our own.

2. We’re in Panama!

After almost 20 hours of travel we made it to Casco Viejo, a UNESCO Heritage site late last night. The tickets were free, courtesy of Citibank and American Airlines, and boy do they make it hard to use your miles: two transfers, hours and hours of layovers.

Whatever, we’re here now and I’m typing from our balcony. No complaints.

We’ve wandered around a lot today and plan to visit the canal tomorrow. We even went clubbing after our arrival yesterday. I don’t club in Chicago so you know this was a special occasion!

The architecture is fantastic, the people are super nice (minus the cashier from this morning, WHY DID YOU HATE ME?!) and our digs are perfect. Another day or two here and we’re off to an island.

All is well. More from Panama soon! xxoo

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The Mister & His Camera St. Thomas
Oh, California
Hello 2012 from St. Thomas
Tamarindo! Costa Rica
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i’m going out

Girls! Cher getting dressed xxoo

Three girls in my bathroom getting ready. Have a great Friday.

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.)

arranging / rearranging

Sometimes you just wanna move stuff around.

(day THREE.)

living the book: a tree grows in brooklyn

I have a habit of listening to various podcasts during the day– so many that co-workers pop into my office and constantly wonder if I’ve got someone on speaker phone. If I’m not playing music at the loudest volume my desktop will allow, there’s guaranteed to be a random show going on in the background. Snap Judgement is one of my recent favorites. It’s helmed by Glynnn Washington, an Oakland based radio host, whose pilot show won The Public Radio Talent Quest back in 2007 and who has one of the fastest growing shows on NPR. The story I listened to today got me thinking about books, and more specifically, living lives based on books that touched you in a special way during childhood.

The segment centered around a man named Vince in Austin who created a Cathedral of Junk based off of a book he read in his youth in Germany: Serafin and the Wonder Machine. There is not much available about the book online but the podcast has a great interview with Vince outlining the start of his project in 1989, the idea he had based on the book, and how he is living out his childhood fantasy by creating a magical space out of people’s discarded objects. You can listen to it here.

The show got me thinking about the influence books we read in childhood have on us later in life. The one that sticks out the most for me is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

I pulled my tattered copy off of the bookshelf tonight and held it tightly to my chest. There are so many different lessons from this book that have stuck with me for the last fifteen years. I initially read it around the time I was 12 or 13 years of age and wanted nothing more than a fire escape and a big old tree to sit underneath while going through teenage growing pains.

I now read it anually. As an adult, my needs are a little more nuanced than a spell on a fire escape but A Tree Grows in Brooklyn still fits the bill.

Francie, Neely, and mama had a very fine meal. Each had a thick slice of the “tongue,” two pieces of sweet-smelling rye bread spread with unsalted butter, a sugar bun apiece and a mug of strong strong hot coffee with a teaspoon of sweetened condensed milk on the side.

There was a special Nolan idea about the coffee. It was their one great luxury. Mama made a big potful each morning and reheated it for dinner and supper and it got stronger as the day wore on. It was an awful lot of water and very little coffee but mama put a lump of chicory in it which made it taste strong and bitter. Each one was allowed three cups a day with milk. Other times you could help yourself to a cup of black coffee anytime you felt like it. Sometimes when you had nothing at all and it was raining and you were alone in the flat, it was wonderful to know that you could have something even though it was only a cup of black and bitter coffee.

Neeley and Francie loved coffee but seldom drank it. Today, as usual, Neeley let his coffee stand black and ate his condensed milk spread on bread. He sipped a little of the black coffee for the sake of formality. Mama poured out Francie’s coffee and put the milk in it even though she knew that the child wouldn’t drink it.

Francie loved the smell of coffee and the way it was hot. As she ate her bread and meat, she kept one hand curved about the cup enjoying its warmth. From time to time, she’d smell the bitter sweetness of it. That was better than drinking it. At the end of the meal, it went down the sink.

Francie, the narrator and main character, is allowed three cups of coffee per day by Katie, her mother. Though the family is poor and lead by Johnny, a drunk Irishman lounge singer, who can’t hold a job to save his life, she has the luxury of doing whatever she wants with that cup of coffee: she can be wasteful like rich folks if she pleases, she can drink it down in one gulp, she can have it on the aforementioned fire escape with her book. That cup of coffee is one of the only things in life she can choose to do with what she pleases.

I found not one, but two old bus transfers from Milwaukee while paging through the book.

Another idea that stuck out for me was the Nolan family bank. Katie took an old tin coffee can, cut the sides into little Vs and nailed them into a closet floor, thus creating a tin can bank. Francie and Neely were expected to pitch into this bank with their earnings from selling pieces of tin foil, jar lids and other junk items to Carney the local junk man. Half of whatever they gleaned from Carney went into the tin can bank. Katie also contributed to the tin can bank, whose sole purpose was to gain enough money to buy land one day. When Johnny dies, the money is used for his cemetary plot but putting money into a new tin bank is one of the first things Neely and Francie do when they start working real jobs. I don’t have the balls to nail a little tin can into my own closet floor and I wholeheartedly believe in saving money but if and when I do own a house I want a real tin can bank stashed inside a closet somewhere.

The final lifestyle lesson, and perhaps the most important, is that of reading itself. There is a three page scene towards the beginning of the book that features a conversation with Katie and her mother Mary right after Francie was born. Mary comes to visit Katie in her apartment where she is resting with Francie. Neither of them know that Johnny, the drunken husband, has lost his job as the janitor of a school.

“What do I know,” Katie asks her mother. “You are poor, Mother. Johnny and I are poor. The baby will grow up to be poor. We can’t be any more than we are this day.”

Katie’s mother Mary reveals her guilt at not sending her daughters to school, saying she was “ignorant and did not know at first that the children of folk like us were allowed the free education of this land.” She tells Katie that the secret to getting ahead “lies in the reading and the writing”. That every day she must read one page from one good book to her child and that she must do this until her child learns to read, and that she must then make her child read to her one page from one good book every day. Katie promises she will read, and asks for a good book.

Her Catholic mother surprises her by saying Shakespeare and the Protestant bible, even though “it is not good faith for a Catholic to say so but I believe the Protestant bible contains more of the loveliness of the greatest story of earth and beyond it.” As an Irish Catholic myself, this was pretty heavy stuff to take in during the impressionable teenage years. Mary tells Katie that she must read a page of each to her child, even if she doesn’t understand the words or meanings and that she must do this so her “child will grow up knowing what is great- knowing that these tenements of Williamsburg are not the whole world.”

I have promised myself I would follow the fictional Mary Rommely’s advice since I first read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I mean it. Granted, I will probably steer away from the bible and Shakespeare, too, moving more towards books like D’Aulaires Greek Myths but the lesson remains: a page a day, from two books a day. Literacy is how we get ahead. I don’t think many can argue with that.

1. It is okay to waste coffee.
2. Save money for land.
3. Read books.

Three small lessons that have stuck with me from one of my favorite books. What about you? What books helped outline your worldview? What lessons have you learned?

(Day TWO! xxoo)