Chicago

INSPIRED BY : DALLAS CLAYTON

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I’m not going to lie, when I walked into this month’s Creative Mornings, I wasn’t 100% familiar with Dallas Clayton or his work. When I left however, I felt like we were buddies; not because I had a conversation with him, but because I felt like I was part of his awesome little world. He has this unbelievable way of capturing an audience by opening himself up in such a personable manner, leaving me completely vulnerable, inspired, and ready to take on anything…. kind of like I was a kid again.

For those of you who don’t know, Dallas Clayton writes and illustrates his own children’s books and travels the world reading them to kids of all ages (including XXL kids, which he calls adults). He believes the most successful stories have themes that equally talk to adults as well as kids, which he tries to implement into everything he creates. After self publishing his first book, An Awesome Book (which you can read for free here! and do it, seriously), which became popular pretty much over night, he has since continued writing, illustrating and traveling the world helping kids dream really, really big. The coolest part about Dallas is the fact that he’s so excited to live his life, inspire kids (and adults) and help them realize their full potential. He doesn’t take life too seriously or let the small things get to him; instead he always tries to turn something negative into something positive.

When we become adults and live in the “real world”, a lot of times it’s so easy to lose our child-like sense of wonder. It might be because we know more or have a fear deep inside, but that should never stop us from trying something new, taking risks or dreaming big.

When I was really young, I wanted to be a professional basketball player (who doesn’t?!), which apparently is a popular dream for a lot of little kids according to Dallas. With height most definitely not on my side, my parents were pretty sure that was not in my future. However, god bless them, they never said a word and always encouraged me to do what I love and follow my dreams, which ultimately led me away from my high tops and and into into the world of art & design.

Sometimes, getting our inner-child back takes a little reminder, and for me that came in the form of Dallas ending his talk by reciting An Awesome Book to us. It was pretty powerful and for a second, I felt something that I didn’t want to go away – an excitement for what’s to come, a belief that anything is possible and a sense of satisfaction to be doing what I love and living my dream everyday.

His talk will be available to watch online soon, I’ll post it here as soon as it is!

Quote from his Instagram / image 2 & 3

VIEW FROM THE TOP

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The past couple weeks have been filled with visitors, a birthday (I’m now 27!), a very inspiring Creative Mornings talk (which I’ll share more about next week), a Netflix binge (we finished House of Cards!!), touring around our own city, working on a personal brand update, and finally getting to enjoy some nice weather.

It’s hard to believe, but Nick and I went to the top of the Willis Tower for the first time, even though we’ve been in Chicago for 3 years now. The view was pretty unbelievable and made the city feel so small and intimate from so high up. I keep falling in love with Chicago more and more every day, and I can’t wait to see what summer has in store.

Happy Friday!

MY FAVORITE BLOODY MARYS

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A little break from design today – in honor of St. Patty’s Day celebrations tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to round of some of my favorite Bloody Marys from around the city. This all started as a little research for a breakfast get together I’m having tomorrow. Naturally, I knew I had to have some sort of Bloody Mary bar because after looking back through my instagram account, I’m quite obsessed with the delicious morning cocktail.

Some of my favorites from around the city include Longman & Eagle, Rockit, Hubbard Inn, Trencherman and Joe’s Steak & Seafood. From shrimp cocktail to chunks of fresh cheese, meat and pickled vegetables – there are SO many good ones! I also came across this article of the most extreme Bloody Marys around Chicago, which is next on my list to try.

Do you like Bloody Marys? If so, what are some of your favorite garnishes? 

SNAPSHOTS : NEW APARTMENT

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Alrighty! We are officially almost done painting our new place, the only thing left is the trim. When we moved in, all of the walls were a not so attractive shade of yellow beige, including the ceiling and trim, so we definitely had our work cut out for us. My amazing husband spent the week painting while I was away in China and we finished most of it over the weekend.

I have to say, choosing paint colors is WAY harder than expected. Everyone is always like “Jen, you’re a creative – this should be easy for you”, but in fact it’s quite difficult. Shades change depending on how much light comes into the room, what time of day it is, what color the ceiling is, etc, etc – but I think we ended up with some great choices that I’m very happy with. The bathroom took two tries, but that was really the only hiccup.

As for the rest of the apartment, unpacking is almost done. There are always those few straggling items that there is nowhere to store, so we’re working on that this week. Next is hanging art on the walls – always the hardest part! I definitely have a commitment issue with nailing frames up – I’m hoping to acquire a few new pieces and buy some frames for some existing prints. I’d love this print for our living room (the dark blue/gray walls) and these for our bathroom (the deep sea green).

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

HERE TO STAY (FOR NOW)

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Two and a half years ago Nick and I moved out to Chicago for his medical residency. We knew 2 people and were traveling pretty far away from our friends and family. In the past two years, Chicago has become our home; we’ve formed lifelong relationships and have grown to love this city like we never knew we could. Last Wednesday we found out some pretty amazing news; Nick got an offer to stay here in Chicago to pursue his fellowship in cardiology! We’ve known since we got here that we were in store for another match day and that there was the chance we’d have to get up and move again, but knowing that we can stay and continue to build our life here (for now) was the best news that could have come.

I always have those days where I truly miss my family and friends back home, but we’ve gotten used to the fact that it’s only a short plane ride away – Mom, that’s for you :) Plus, with FaceTime and Skype it’s so much easier to stay connected and keep in touch!

Here’s to another four years in Chicago!

This awesome picture was taken by Stephanie Kaplan