The Wilson’s Tackle Mpls [Sort of]

10 Aug

Ya know when my favorite time is to eat a banana in its life cycle? When they are so ripe that they’re starting to get those brownish spots or they bruise easy. Mmmmm. Ya know what I can’t stand about bananas? When you peel back the banana peel and expose the tips of each peel…you can see the little pores where the fibers were attached to the stem. EWWW. I despise pores. Bleh.

Anyways, now that I have successfully gained your attention without having to address my long blogging absence, I thought I’d share a few moments from my wonderful family’s visit to Minneapolis several weeks ago. My siblings are headed back to school tomorrow so I thought it fitting to savor a few of their summer memories as they head back to school. Most of these shots were from a bike ride one evening during their visit. I jumped through hoops and ladders to keep ’em busy while they were here…okay, not really. But you try keeping a 15-year-old and 12-year-old occupied in a city when they’ve grown up in the ‘burbs/sticks all their lives! Anyways, Minneapolis just started this Nice Ride Minnesota project earlier this summer so my family’s visit was the perfect opportunity to test it out. It was actually a blast and made touring the city so much easier!

How many Wilson’s does it take to operate a Nice Ride kiosk? Mmmm, 1, 2….

The best place to take visitors in Minneapolis is definitely the Mississippi River. You get a great view of the city skyline from the Stone Arch Bridge, there are incredible condos in the old mill buildings along the riverfront, the Guthrie is there, and so are the Mill City Museum and the ruins from the old mills. So we focused our evening ride along the riverfront and stopped to take some family photos. (It’s important to note that it may be nearly impossible to get a decent photo of a family of five when two siblings that know EVERYTHING in the world are involved in the equation–and if those same siblings still have braces and avoid smiling at all costs. Whew.)

Nick and I turned the camera over to my sister to get a shot of us together. Evidently my dad thought it would be humorous to ride his sweet green bike back and forth behind us while ringing the provided bell, sending my sister into hysterical bits of laughter. The only decent image follows. And I swear we didn’t plan on matching. Though the man at the gas station that night, who was also wearing navy and khaki, thought it was important to call us out on our fashion faux pas.

She looks more like mom and I everyday…muahahahaha!

My mommy and daddy. I love them. =) (My father looks very mischievous here. Not shocking.)

Ah, yes. My brother. He’s 15. He. Knows. Everything. So ya know, if you need all the answers to the worlds mysteries, call up my little bro…I’m sure he’ll have some wonderful intellectual insights. (Better yet, ask him the question in Spanish. I’d love to know how he responds.)

I have good genes. I think. At least I better age as gracefully as my mom has–seriously.

(If you did a double-take and thought that was me, I understand. I do the same thing when I look in the mirror sometimes!) A final shot to end the night. This quiet photo frame explains a brief moment in the typical nuances of my family life. –Dad sits and quietly contemplates. Everyone else follows suit with less intense contemplations and remains quiet for as long as they can tolerate. Then when mom can no longer keep everyone wrangled quietly, chaos breaks and the moment has passed.– The older I get, the more I appreciate these quiet moments. And the chaos. =)


Counting Crows & Augustana [Yes, together]

26 Jul

Finally…the last of my Taste of MN concert photos! Counting Crows is calling their current tour, “Counting Crows: Traveling Circus & Medicine Show.” It’s an interesting twist I’ve never seen before. Rather than a few opening bands and what we all call a “headliner,” Counting Crows traveled with, and performed with, Augustana this summer and featured several guests as they toured the US. With multiple bands on stage performing hits from every participating “headliner,” the stage did look a little bit like a circus. So much so that I’m not sure which band members were on stage and when…but they played some great music!

I’m afraid to embarrass myself by identifying band members by the wrong names so I’ll refrain from my previous identification strategies. Here are the basics; Adam Duritz is the funky lead singer of Counting Crows with the dreads and Dan Layus is the eccentric, cowboy hat-wearing lead singer of Augustana. Adam affectionately referred to Dan as “Danny” throughout the show, so they must get along pretty well. Actually, I thought the bands shared great chemistry and respect on stage and it made the whole experience pretty awesome. Enjoy. =)

Needtobreathe [The Real Deal]

23 Jul

Okay, no more teasing. Here’s my all-time favorite band. (The whole fan thing makes me feel like a total nerd/high school screaming girl, yet, I refuse to be ashamed.) If you haven’t listened to them yet after all my ranting and raving, you should be ashamed…I mean, how could you not give a band that’s from a town called Possum Kingdom, SC, a shot?

Meet Bear Rineheart; lead singer, guitarist, former college wide receiver, and South Carolina’s 2002 football player of the year.

I love his shoes. And I think I should request tips on squeezing into pants that tight.

Let’s break from Bear for a bit, shall we? Meet Seth Bolt; the gorgeous bassist and a real recording engineer (like, with a real degree!) This guy seems so perfect…I don’t think he ever sweats! Bizarre.

Did I mention that Bear and Bo Rinehart are named after University of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant? Talk about southern roots.

Another eye contact moment. Bands must be trained to look for camera lenses.

Ah, my favorite. Meet Bo Rinehart; the guitarist, back-up vocalist, creative guy who went to Clemson for architecture. Woot! A man who knows what torture design school can be and who has pursued his passion for music. (Okay, sorry if I made anyone puke just now with my admiration for Mr. Nathaniel Bryant “Bo” Rinehart…oh come on! I only know his full name thanks to Wikipedia.)

I love how worn his guitar is from strumming in this next shot.

Back to some shots of Bear. These guys seriously know how to put on a great show. They’re so passionate and so real on stage.

And last but not least. Meet Joe Stillwell; the incredible drummer and guy who seems to do most of the Needtobreathe blogging…and is also nearly impossible to photograph. On the off-chance that Joe reads this (uhem)…I liked the acoustic version of “Washed By the Water” in St. Petersburg when you came out from behind that big ol’ drum set. Just sayin’. Also, I totally dig Joe’s facial hair.

And let’s finish on one last shot of Bo. What?!? He’s a great musician. Writes some great lyrics for sure.

Gin Blossoms [I Love the 90s]

20 Jul

I love the 90s. Especially 90s music. I mean, think about it; Nirvana, Green Day, Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Verve Pipe, TLC, Spicegirls (errr, how’d that get there?!?), Matchbox Twenty, Hootie and the Blowfish, the list goes on and on…

I was so excited to see one of the great bands of the 90s at Taste of Minnesota a few weeks ago! Gin Blossoms opened the big show at Taste of Minnesota on July 4th in St Paul. I thought I’d share some of my shots from their set, complete with “Hey Jealousy,” “Follow You Down,” and “Til I Hear it From You.” The weather was hazy, yucky, and I was scared it was going to raaaain. But, it held off and ended up being a gorgeous evening for the rest of the bands!

Forgive me for some of the poor composition in these shots. Concerts are hard to shoot, for real! Especially when you’re short. Enjoy!

This next image had to be in here…we made creepy eye contact. Or lens/eye contact, whatever you wanna call it. Gives me the heebie jeebies when I look at it! Did I mention the lead singer’s name is Robin Wilson?

Why in the world do singers always do this? I didn’t come to the concert to listen to the audience sing your songs, I mean, come on! Boggles my mind.

Needtobreathe [Preview]

13 Jul

For those of you that don’t know, Needtobreathe has far surpassed any all-time favorite band I’ve ever claimed to have. I’ve never felt more like a “fan” than I do when I talk/think/obsess about Needtobreathe. I’ll chalk up their success in my life with the fact that their sometimes secular, sometimes Christian alternative folk rock (I just gave them the folk standard, because I can) makes me feel so damn good every time I listen to it. (Yes, I just said Christian and damn in the same sentence. Also, because I can.)

The summer of 2008, which (un)fortunately still remains a little blurry in my memory, was highlighted by my then friend, Nick Respecki, keeping me occupied with phone conversations outlining his shenanigans in DC. I used to actually log into Facebook chat then and we’d talk there and on Gmail chat. He’d send me uplifting and spiritual quotes that always made my day and help me sleep that much easier on those warm summer nights in good ol’ Jeffersonville, Indiana. While he tried to convince me that techno was going to be the newest trend in music (okay, he was right, a la Lady Gaga and the copycats since) he also got me hooked on a Needtobreathe song, Don’t Wait For Daylight. The rest of the story is history…it’s my love story. =) -End sappy story-

So anyways I’ve been avoiding and/or slaving over the 300+ photos I took at Taste of Minnesota on July 4th for over a week now. And I’m still not prepared to show you everything! I know; I’m a horrible blogger. But I have lots to show you! I mean a $20 concert with the Ginblossoms, NEEDTOBREATHE, Augustana, and Counting Crows?!? It was one heck of a deal and so worth waiting on the lawn in the second-ish row for a few hours before show time. Though I don’t think our visitor Danny was too pleased about it; but Danny, thank you for amusing me! You don’t even know how much your patience meant to me! And I hope you enjoyed your first concert experience! (The kid’s 23 and it was his first concert…northern Indiana boggles my mind…)

If you’re not convinced about how wonderful Needtobreathe is, I have a few more ways to win you over. Ever seen the movie P.S. I Love You? Ladies, you know you have, and fellas, don’t lie to me! The featured song in the movie, More Time, was written by the hunk-a-burnin’-love featured in my shot above and put Needtobreathe in the spotlight in 2007.

Most recently, their music has been featured in many TV spots and lots of commercials.’s most recent commercial features their latest hit, Something Beautiful. And there’s an NBC commercial for their new fall show called Outlaw, that’s currently featuring their song, Lay ‘Em Down. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how to embed videos using WordPress, so do me a favor and click those links! Hang out a bit on their website, peruse, if you will. (If you’re in Indy and happen to have tickets to see Train at the White River Lawn in August, you’ll see Needtobreathe. Soak ’em in.) You won’t regret giving this band a shot; I promise!

More to come…

Our Most Recent Visitor – DTM

10 Jul

So Nick and I were hoping to have lots of visitors this summer but have realized everyone is just as broke as we are. Bummer. You saw a few shots from Nick’s parent’s visit (Ron and Kathy), and I thought everyone that knows DTM (Dan the Man) might enjoy a few shots of his recent visit to good ol’ Minnesota! We were really lucky to convince Danny that the 6 1/2 hour drive was worth it and we hope that after his visit, he thought so too. =)

This post was originally going to be called, “DTM, North Chicago’s Most Eligible Bachelor,” but I refrained from this idea for fear of embarrassing Danny too much. Never fear Danny, the world’s still getting an introduction to the DTM we’re lucky to know and love!

Nick and I both know Danny through school. The College of Architecture and Planning produces a tight-knit group of students. Sometimes we forget people exist outside of the CAP building, and I know people choose to ignore our existence when the lights are still on at 3am everyday. Nick and Danny started the first-year program together in the Spring of 2006 so they know each other pretty well. And in the last couple of years since Nick and I have been dating, Danny and a bunch of our other friends keep Nick busy on Friday nights while I’m working at Dill; though they don’t always keep him out of trouble…

Danny’s a recent graduate from BSU’s Landscape Architecture program and is now a resident of the Waukegan area, north of Chicago. He grew up in northern Indiana, LaGrange to be exact, and is a huge momma’s boy. (Danny, did you want people to know that…? =) ) His first post-graduate job is at Scott Byron & Company and I think he’s enjoying his new position. He gave us his business cards as soon as he walked in the door, so I’d say he’s pretty proud.

His drive up here last Friday ended up taking about 7 1/2 hours. We’re lucky that he didn’t turn around after sitting in all that Illinois traffic. I played good hostess and poured him a CC and coke upon his arrival. We thought that’d put him to sleep…instead, he kept us up waaaaay past our bedtime talking. I felt like I was 16 all over again, at a sleepover with my best girl friends. I forgave them by morning and decided I’d make pancakes. (By the way, I can successfully make pancakes. No worries.)

Saturday, in the ridiculous hot and humid weather we were being treated to, we headed to Fort Snelling State Parking for grilling, biking, and some unplanned lake swimming. The menu: burgers, brats, corn-on-the-cob, chips, fruit, brownies. I relaxed and kept as still as possible so as to prevent sweat from forming on every square inch of my body and let the boys do the grilling. If you notice on the grill, that was A LOT of food for three people to think they could consume.

DTM felt at home swimming in the lake. Nick and I, not so much. I think Danny might have been able to tell by the look on my face. I dunno. Maybe having a heated, chlorinated, crystal-clear, in-ground pool in my backyard at home has made me spoiled, but I don’t do lake water very well. And Nick’s used to Michigan lakes, which are unbelievably clear. Check out pictures of Torch Lake. It looks like the flippin’ Caribbean! But we sucked it up and cooled off. Thank goodness for water because I’m telling you, it was H-O-T on Saturday!!!

Saturday night, if we hadn’t had enough torture in the heat, we decided to get the bikes out and give Danny a tour of the city. Minneapolis is the second friendliest bike city in the country. Second to, Portland? Nick knows all this random trivia…I listen, most of the time. So we have our lane to bike in downtown and we follow the rules of the road. (Fellow classmates, remember Critical Mass from KK’s class? We’re going to try to hit up a Critical Mass ride while we’re here…I’ll get some photos.) If you’re ever driving through downtown Minneapolis and you’re getting ready to make a right turn, please, please, please check and make sure there are no bikers going straight next to you!!! Like, seriously. Bicyclists are people too! Anyways, while we were checking out the city from the Mississippi, Danny asked, “Did you guys know this city was going to be this awesome before you moved up here?” Um, sort of. When when we were here with good ol’ Professor, er, Dr. Stephen Kendall in the fall, he didn’t know enough about the city to show us what we’ve discovered since our arrival. I’m more impressed with Minneapolis every week. =)

This next shot is the Guthrie Theater designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, who won architecture’s biggest award, the Pritzker Prize, in 2008. In my opinion, it’s one of the architectural gems in Minneapolis. If you don’t have any design training, there’s a good chance you might think otherwise; but hey, we’re used to that way of thought. The Guthrie was Nouvel’s first piece in the United States and it’s pretty wonderful. It has three stages; its signature thrust stage, a proscenium stage, and a black box studio. If you ever visit Minneapolis, it’s a must see!

Okay, this last shot is just to show you how b-e-a-utiful Target Field is at night. Actually, the firm Nick’s working for this summer, HGA, designed the entire plaza space. It’s incredible. So this is where we ended our night, just a few blocks from our apartment at Target Field. Then we locked up the bikes at home and headed just down the street to Kieran’s Pub for a late dinner. Did I ever mention how much I love spinach and artichoke dip? Well, I do! Anyways, stay tuned for the post about our Taste of MN concert on Sunday, July 4th! Ginblossoms, NEEDTOBREATHE, Augustana, and Counting Crows. =)

P.S. Danny, thanks for coming to visit! We hope you had a good time because we enjoyed trying to keep you entertained! =)

The Cheese Burn Incident

7 Jul

It’s official; I’m an inconsistent blogger. Even worse, I’m also a terrible klutz. My fellow Dill Street-ers can attest to this fact. I’ve been known to break a bottle every now and then, or trip, or run into things and get sweet bruises. Though I distinctly make an effort to calmly place shot glasses in the sink so as not to break them. (Uhem, some are known to DROP them in the sink, which ultimately leads to some breakage and a few unhappy bartenders…) And recently Nick’s been saying, “No wonder everyone at work thinks you’re such a klutz!” I dunno…I think everyone at work makes fun of me because I’m a klutz AND an air head. Whatever. At least I can own up to these traits! =)

I thought those of you that are bored at work today, or simply get a kick out of my idiotic moments, might enjoy this awesome moment I had last night. Nick and I were making dinner. He loves making chicken breasts with Italian dressing, crouton breading and mozzarella cheese. Mmmm. So while he was working on that, I was cleaning lettuce and making us salads. He needed to wash his raw chicken-covered hands right as I was getting ready to sprinkle shredded cheese on our salads. “Will you put that chicken in the oven for me?” “Sure,” I said. So I sat the shredded cheese down so I could put the chicken in the oven. So here’s what happened…

Notice the distinct circular burn on the shredded cheese package that I proceeded to throw immediately after smelling the burning plastic.

So what happened, you ask? We don’t have a microwave this summer and we have very minimal counter space in this tiny kitchenette. I mean, what you see in the first photo, that’s it. The electric stove often becomes extra counter space while we’re cooking, washing dishes, etc. Nick melted a little butter on the stove for the breaded chicken. I didn’t notice which burner he had used; hence the hot burner that singed my cheese package. At least I have good reflexes and got that baby off of there quick! I tried to salvage some of the cheese for our salads–terrible idea. My whole salad tasted like burnt cheese. Nick’s chicken was great! =) And we made instant mashed potatoes to make up for my salad failure. Needless to say, I will never be a world-class cook. And I’ll always be a klutz. It’s inevitable.

I figured my avid followers have probably been dying for a post to read (riiiight), so I hope at least a few people got a good laugh out of this. I’ve been working on editing photos from my July 4th weekend. I’ve got two new posts in the works, I’ve just got to get better at this ‘editing rapidly’ thing. Seriously, photographers deserve some serious kudos for their rapid editing and turn-around for their clients. I’m sure it just takes a lot of practice and streamlining, er, something like that.

Fun fact of the day: Did you know that “Klutz” is a Yiddish word? It’s only been a slang term for “a clumsy person” since the 1960s. Huh. Interesting…

Lovin’ Lightroom

2 Jul

I know my last post got a little “wordy,” so I promise to make this a short read today! We’ll stick to the visuals!

Today when I opened my free trial of Adobe Lightroom 3, I got a little sad…I only have 16 days left of my trial! I’ve been in love with the program and can’t wait to get back to BSU to take advantage of the discounted price of the full version! I love being a college student sometimes…I don’t know what I’ll do when I don’t get sweet discounts anymore. *Sigh* Anyways, I’ve decided that when my Lightroom trial is up, I’ll spend some time learning Adobe Bridge and Camera RAW. I mean, if I’m going to work on this photography passion, I better be well-rounded with my knowledge!

P.S. Post-processing is so wonderful, yet so time consuming! How do you full-time photographers keep up with all your sessions?!?

Architecture: The Five Collaterals (or, Alphabet Soup)

30 Jun

Disclaimer: The following information is just a rough explanation of the organizations featured. I apologize ahead of time for any faults in explaining these prestigious organizations. I am open to making any clarifications clear to my readers! Thanks!  –Ashley

Alright, I’m warning you now. If you are not part of the design community and are easily bored with architecture you may not enjoy today’s post. However, if you know me and have always wondered why the heck I’m going to school for 6 years and how I’ve planned to become an architect for all these years, you may want to read on. It’ll give you a little insight into the crazy world of architecture. And of course, if you are an architecture student, you’ll enjoy the portion of today’s post that some might consider a “rant.” (Look for BEGIN RANT below.)

This post is sparked by my current time-consuming project. As I type, I also have a window open on the NCARB (National Council for Architecture Registration Boards) website. Through NCARB, architecture students are given the opportunity to become Licensed Architects. (So just because I’m going to architecture school doesn’t mean I can legally call myself an architect; not yet anyway.) The entity charged with making sure we students actually have the experience in the architecture world before we try to design real buildings is called the Internship Development Program, or IDP. Essentially, IDP is a portion of NCARB (and was jointly started by NCARB and the American Institute of Architects) that keeps track of emerging professionals’ hours upon hours of work in real architecture offices. Then, once said emerging professionals complete their 5,600 hours/units of training, they can sit for the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). The ARE is basically seven divisions of tests one must pass in order to receive a license to practice architecture. Each division is taken separately and each one (currently) costs $210. If you fail one, you don’t get your money back and you have to wait six months before you retake the test you failed. You can, however, take other divisions during that time frame.

Okay, everyone still with me? Alright!

So architects/architecture students/emerging professionals have some serious procrastination issues (see Mom, it’s not just me!). In fact, we’re so bad at recording our work experience at firms (for example, waiting 2-3 years before recording hours at a particular firm) that NCARB said, “Enough!” As of July 1, 2010, (as in, tomorrow!!!)  emerging professionals with IDP records of their hours must submit work they completed no more than six months previous. So today, I’m attempting to make sure the hours I worked at The Estopinal Group during the summer of 2008 count towards the possibility of one day being “Ashley the Architect.” BEGIN RANT–But let me tell you, the IDP process is not fool-proof. And electronic Experience Verification Reporting (or e-EVR) is not as friendly as it sounds. And with all of these pesky procrastinating architecture students attempting to save their butts–and fast!–the system is super overloaded. So as I type, I listen for the lovely sound of the windows message letting me know the page I need to access has timed out and to try again. So I try–again, and again, and again, and again…–END RANT

But never fear! I’ll pull this off. I know I will!

So the title; The Five Collaterals. If you weren’t already confused enough by the alphabet soup we’ve started to mix up, there’s more to the process of becoming and being an architect.

So let’s start with schools. Just because a student goes to a school that has an “architecture program” doesn’t mean that student will one day be able to sit for their architecture exams and become licensed. To even have an IDP account with NCARB, one has to be enrolled in or have graduated from an accredited architecture program. Architecture programs receive accreditation much like medical schools or law schools do; through an accreditation board. The world of architecture has the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). The rough break down of NAAB’s accrediting process: Every 6 years (in some situations less), NAAB sends a team of individuals to observe student work that a university’s architecture program is producing and make sure the work is still in compliance with the current NAAB Conditions. The Visiting Team consists of members from the profession (and particularly the other collaterals) and always includes a student. (This process is one of the most unique of its kind due to the fact that a student is a voting team member on the Visiting Team!) I won’t delve any further into the process except to say that the conditions also include several other factors (such as the facilities for the program, the faculty, diversity, etc, etc) and that the Visiting Team submits a Report to NAAB and NAAB makes the ultimate decision regarding accreditation standing! So if you want to be an architect one day, make sure you go to a NAAB accredited program!

Those schools that offer NAAB accredited degree Programs are all part of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). Membership with the ACSA promotes a forum for new architectural ideas to be presented in accredited degree programs across the country. Essentially the ACSA is a non-profit organization for faculty and educators to foster growth in the field of architectural education. Not enough information for you? Go here for more about the ACSA!

If you’re a student and you’re currently enrolled in an architecture program, it’s likely that your school has a chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) that you can join. AIAS is also a non-profit organization and is an organization very dear to my heart. It is a student-run organization that fosters dialogue and promotes architectural student communities across the country. AIAS is the voice of architecture students. Through this professional organization, students gain the ability to attend conferences with other students and professionals from across the country and develop a strong network of connections within the design field. Never fear! You do not have to be an architecture student to be a member of AIAS! You just have to have a love for design and an interest in architectural excellence. I could talk about AIAS all day. This is just an abbreviated version. But you must check out Freedom by Design before you read on!!!

Alright, soup’s a’ boilin’! Last one–AIA (American Institute of Architects) is the professional organization for “licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners” within the design profession. Through AIA, industry standards are set through contract documents for construction projects. AIA also hosts conferences around the country for design professionals to attend and gain professional knowledge in the industry and also continue developing their professional network. They also produce lots and lots of architectural publications and present lots and lots of design awards. You can learn more about the AIA here. But really you should just know that they’re the unofficial “big dog” of the collaterals.

Okay, soup’s done! Whew! Exhausting, I know. What’s sad is lots of schools don’t even really make this clear to students. It’s unfortunate. My basic knowledge of the collaterals and how they work together to promote architectural excellence and service to society comes from my experience with AIAS and then later, NAAB. I’m so thankful for my experience with these organizations! It has definitely prepared me to actively participate in and improve the professional world of design.

So here they are making their final appearance in today’s post! The Five Collateral organizations of the Architecture Profession!!!


(Maybe with some positive feedback I’ll consider featuring each collateral in their own post one day. I’m sure you’d all enjoy that, right?!? =) In the meantime, go do something that doesn’t involve thinking, like, right now. You’re brain needs it after reading all of that…So does mine…)

Take me out to the Ball Game!

29 Jun