The Art Institute of Chicago


I have a habit of taking lots of pictures in art museums of all my favorite pieces. I’ve dragged my husband to more art museums than I’d like to admit. If I am ever in a new city I always try to make a stop into new, or favorite, museums.

I thought it would be a fun addition to the blog if I shared my reviews of art museums as I visit them throughout the year! I’ll start with the Chicago Institute of Art.

artinchicagoA personal favorite – the Chagall window

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Where: The Art Institute of Chicago

When: Open daily 10:30am–5:00pm, Thursday until 8:00pm

Highlights: “American Gothic”, by Grant Wood, (seen above, farmers) is one of the more popular pieces in this Chicago museum, as is the “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”, by Seurat (seen above with children sitting on the floor). The Art Institute of Chicago has a sizable Impressionism collection, and a wonderful Modern collection as well. It unfortunately was under construction during my last visit, but opens this month. The museum reconstructed the Chicago Stock Exchange Room (from the 1890s) in one of it’s wings. It was beautiful and, away from the popular pieces, it’s quite quiet! It’s located near the Chagall window, which, is one of my personal favorites.

Things to Know: Mornings can be quite busy with field trips (which can be quite annoying, as they tend to hop to and crowd out the most famous pieces in the museum). One of museum’s cafes is located in the courtyard, which is both quiet and beautiful!

Admission: $23.00 for an adult (Admission is free to Illinois residents on Thursdays from 5-8pm)

artinchicago2If you go, be sure to check out the outdoor installations in neighboring Millennium Park. Chicago can always be counted on for fantastic public art.

Have you been to the Art Institute of Chicago? What’s your favorite art museum?

Making Stuff Happen – My 101 in 1001

image source

I was minding my own business the other day, when the reality that in about 550 days I will turn 30. That doesn’t bother me (yet). But, it suddenly occurred to me that my life is passing by and I’m not taking the time to make stuff happen.

By stuff, I mean the guts of life. Gaining self-discipline, nurturing passions, and self-educating (since my school days are long-gone). I’ve seen a few people on the internet create these 101 in 1001 lists – listing 101 things they want to accomplish in 1001 days. It’s more like a well-thought-out, fruit-producing bucket list concept.

In 1001 days I will be 31 years ago. Many people say their 30s are their favorite decade, and I’m (truly) looking forward to them. (But not a day before they arrive!) I’d like to embark on the next decade of my life with a few things under my belt, be them successes, failures, passions, skills, or simply things I want from life.

In 1001 days I will say to myself, “I made stuff happen!”

(And of course I’m publishing it here because nothing motivated me like publicly stating a goal – or 101 of them.)

Kat’s 101 in 1001


  1. Go to before by 10:00pm every day for 2 weeks
  2. Wake up at 6:00am every morning for 2 weeks
  3. Sign up for a 10k
  4. Try a Bikram Yoga class
  5. Run 8 miles without stopping
  6. Go hiking in the White Mountains
  7. Take an online class in something I enjoy
  8. Learn handlettering
  9. Organize music and get rid of CDs
  10. Create and maintain an address book
  11. Learn a skill that I don’t know
  12. Edit together our wedding video


  1. Learn to can food
  2. Make bread from scratch
  3. Plant a vegetable garden
  4. Make my own granola
  5. Learn the art of making a great cup of coffee
  6. Find the perfect waffle recipe
  7. Make my own pizza dough
  8. Experiment making 10 new flavors of homemade ice cream
  9. Successfully replicate a homemade version of Uno’s “The Cookie”


  1. Daily devotionals for 1 month straight
  2. Get involved in a ministry I feel passionate about
  3. Do one pro-bono design job
  4. Reread all works by C.S. Lewis
  5. Attend one weekend retreat


  1. Write a short novel
  2. Write and illustrate a children’s story
  3. Write one piece of fan fiction
  4. Start and complete a 1001 gifts journal
  5. Write to 10 of my favorite writers and ask for their advice


  1. Restore Granna’s steamer trunk
  2. Install board and batten
  3. Learn how to tile
  4. Learn metal stamping
  5. Learn to use 5 new power tools
  6. Make my own candles
  7. Try glass etching
  8. Learn to crochet (and actually make something)
  9. Sew a patchwork quilt
  10. Sew something I can actually wear


  1. Go candlepin bowling
  2. Buy a book from the outdoor Brattle St Bookshop
  3. Visit Castle Island
  4. Go to SOWA
  5. Attend Boston Marathon
  6. Attend Head of the Charles
  7. Organize a girls “bakery crawl”
  8. Walk the whole Freedom Trail
  9. Eat at Upstairs on the Square
  10. FINALLY go to a Red Sox Game at Fenway
  11. Sam Adams Brewery Tour

Massachusetts / New England

  1. Spend an afternoon at the Worcester Art Museum
  2. Visit Newport (and go inside the mansions this time)
  3. Go to the seaglass beach in Maine
  4. Visit Martha’s Vineyard
  5. Go to polo match at Myopia
  6. Go to Brimfield Antique Market
  7. Explore 5 nearby towns I’ve never been
  8. Explore the South Shore
  9. Go to Block Island
  10. Visit a cranberry bog (in season)


  1. Take a weekend trip with my Mom
  2. Girls weekend in Stone Harbor
  3. Visit Brian in DC
  4. Visit Colls in FL
  5. Go somewhere I’ve never been

Just for Fun

  1. Attend two concerts
  2. See the Phantom of the Opera
  3. Host a fancy girly brunch
  4. Host a fall BBQ
  5. Host a seafood bake
  6. Host a salt water taffy pull
  7. Go camping
  8. Take a dancing class
  9. Read 5 classics I haven’t read before
  10. Participate in a book club
  11. Learn to sail
  12. Go Wine Tasting in the Finger Lakes
  13. Learn to Water Ski on 1 ski
  14. Go swing and salsa dancing
  15. Buy one piece of original artwork that I love
  16. Visit three new art museums
  17. Take a pottery class
  18. Find a perfume I love and buy it


  1. (Finally) finish reading the Meaning of Marriage together
  2. Start playing tennis together
  3. Attempt to learn how to play golf
  4. Buy fishing equipment and go fishing
  5. Start a family memories book


  1. Update personal freelance website
  2. Update/organize my design portfolio
  3. Redesign blog
  4. Transfer to WordPress self-hosted
  5. Start an editorial calendar and stick to it (for at least a month)
  6. Attend 6 blogger events
  7. Launch an Etsy shop
  8. Learn about aperture and iOS on my camera
  9. Start painting again
  10. Find and complete 8 freelance design jobs

10 Years in Boston

My very first autumn in Boston started with a bang. It was the infamous moment with the bloody sock and a broken curse and the Red Sox had finally won the World Series. Utter chaos ensued and I wondered on to what mysterious planet I had fallen on.

The New England sports fever is (wicked) hard to beat, but especially so coming from upstate NY, where the sports fans in Rochester just don’t share the same level of passion for the Bills. Who can blame them? I got HECKLED (!) by strangers for years just because I had NY plates on my car!

Many years ago I stopped being afraid of the notorious highways (Stop sign to get on to a highway? Why not?), non-nonsensical streets, and drivers that are so mean they’ve earned their own nick name (which I shall mind my manners and not be repeat here). But I still remember white-knuckling my first drive on 95/128, which makes it a rite of passage in my mind. My mother now thinks I’m an aggressive driver, and I can pronounce all the town names like a local. I guess that’s a badge of honor.

There are still a few red flags about this girl that Massachusetts (I can spell it now without blinking an eye) hasn’t been able to ingrain in me yet – I don’t run on Dunkin, I can’t name one Celtics player, and I haven’t set foot inside Fenway (which is soon to be changed – promise!!).

In honor of celebrating 10 years in this wonderful place, I’ll be sharing top 10 lists of my favorite things to do in the city, the North Shore, the Metro West, and on The Cape.

But first, let me share 10 reasons of why I love living here:

10. Surfing, mountain climbing, city slicking or country bumkin-ing – take your pick. You can get there in an hour.

9. Boston does seasons like a champ. We get to experience all four seasons at their very worst: -15 degrees winter mornings, gray, muddy springs, humid summer nights, and fall, the season of raking. But also their very best: glistening falling snow, blooming flowers, perfect beach days, and glorious foliage.

8. Seafood right off the boat. No supermarket lobster for us – I get mine, literally, at the bottom of a bridge.

7. Boston is America’s youngest city. This means a lot of great bands, performers, and notables often pass through town, and we get to see them.

6. You can go anywhere in the city for $2.25. (My appreciation for the Charlie Card was greatly renewed when we went to London, where we had to pay 5x as much to get to our destination.)

5. Everything has a story. You can’t drive more than five minutes before crossing multiple historic locations – the battle that ended the Revolutionary War, the place where the first cross-continental US covered wagon departed from, [Insert famous person's name here]‘s childhood home.

4. Boston is quirky. The Citgo sign is a local treasure, the outdoor bookstore, the roads are ridiculous and, hello, have you heard some of these people talking?

3. A deeply renewed love for well-made clam chowder.

2. A never-ending supply of thrift stores, consignment shops, antique dealers, and piles-of-junk-for-sale to sort through.

1. Last, but not least, the accent. It can be abrasive and annoying, but also endearing and loveable. And there’s nothing I enjoy more than repeating the weird words used by subway announcers, local commercials, and overheard in conversation. It gets it your head. (It gets in yuh head!)

I love Boston! Do you? Why?

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla

As time goes by, one thing my husband and I have learned about our vacation-style is that we love to hike. On every major trip we’ve been on, the time we spent hiking has always been one of our major takeaway highlights.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

In Jamaica it was Dunn’s River Falls, in Scotland, Arthur’s Seat, and in Italy we hiked the Cinque Terre trails. When I started asking around for hiking recommendations in Southern California the resounding recommendation was Torrey Pines State Reserve.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Torrey Pines is famous for its golf course, but the state reserve is a beautiful location full of trails. We spent about 4 hours in the reserve, and hiked most of the trails – our favorites being Yucca Point and Razor Point.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Of course about two minutes into our afternoon of hiking I notice the sign that says “Warning: These trails are rattlesnake heaven and they are hiding under every crevice!”. Okay, so maybe that’s not what the sign said, but that’s certainly what I read. I am happy to report that not a snake was seen.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

The reserve is beautiful – and a very different visual feast for the eyes than what we are seeing in New England. Craggy rocks, cacti, and dry dusty landscape – what a departure from our snow!

Hiking in Torrey Pines is free, as is the parking.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLivelyA Day in La Jolla - DesignLivelyA Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

After an active morning of hiking we headed into the town of La Jolla. We headed straight for Children’s Cove, home of the famous seals.


Spend half an hour admiring the flocks of pelicans and these rolly-polly chubbers flop around on the beach. Just be sure you don’t stand down-wind. You’ll smell it when you do.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

It cracks me up that they all look so smiley!

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Perhaps if I was blissfully unaware of my sheer amount of blubber, and got to lie on a beach all day like a rotund Queen I’d be smiling like that too!

The rest of our day was cut short – as we had plans that evening back in L.A. So we hit the road and enjoyed another famed California adventure – the traffic. : )

That brings an end to my California travel recaps – if you are lucky enough to be going to California soon I hope my recommendations help!

Read about the rest of my California adventures here.