chic or geek

a mildly aspirational blog of my life, times, and taste


the mysteries of Pittsburgh

adventureAnna KellerComment

"No one ever satisfactorily explained to me the enormous hole, bridged in three separate places by long iron spans, that makes the whole southeastern end of the Oakland sector of Pittsburgh into a precipice.  Between the arrogant stupid prow of Carnegie Mellon University and the ugly back of the Carnegie Institute, between the little shrines to Mary in the front yards along Parkview and the park itself, lies the wide, dry ravine that contains, essentially, four things: the Lost Neighborhood, the Cloud Factory, train tracks, and a tremendous amount of garbage."

- The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, pp 48

I've started reading The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon again (I stopped when I went abroad), and it's making me miss Pittsburgh in a very big way.  it's really just how the book romanticizes the many secret areas around my alma mater that make me so nostalgic.  I went on several little adventures this summer, wandering down the mysterious stairways deep in Oakland by the University of Pittsburgh.  it really is hard to believe that there are so many different levels of streets in that neighborhood.  the cloud factory is another wonderful secret that only those who get to travel across the bridge between Schenley Park and the Carnegie Museums get to discover, something that I did daily on my way to work.  it's the steam plant for CMU's facilities, but it really just does look like a quiet little factory, pumping frothy white clouds into the sky.

if you've ever spent time in Pittsburgh, or you want to read a little bit about the adventures of a young man in the city about 20 years ago, I would highly recommend this book.

a farewell to Pittsburgh

adventure, UncategorizedAnna KellerComment

I am now safely back at my parents' house in Vermont, but I had one last crazy week in Pittsburgh before I moved.  my younger sister came a few days before my lease ended to help me pack, clean, and explore the city before we headed back to rural New England.


we started with an early lunch at Over The Bar Cafe in South Side.  I had a Groupon for it, and I wanted to make sure I was able to use it while I was still in town.  I got to try my first fried pickle, which they served with Thai peanut sauce.  I'd heard amazing things about their seitan 'wings' and we decided to try a double order with BBQ sauce.  the chef who makes the sauces was actually chilling outside near where we were sitting, and his recommendation to try this particular sauce was a good one.  it also came with really, really good toasted pita bread.  I'm a little bummed that I won't be able to come back here anytime soon.

we shopped around South Side for a little bit (I'm going to miss H&M and Forever 21) and then we went to go see Bad Teacher.  I liked it a lot.  It was really funny and kind of raunchy.  I actually found myself really disliking Justin Timberlake's character, which I didn't even think was possible.  it's rated R, and there was a large group of 8 - 13 year old kids in the back of the theater.  there was plenty of nudity and more mature content throughout the film, and I bet their chaperones were kicking themselves for not realizing what the movie was about (Cameron's quest for breast implants) before purchasing a bunch of tickets.  their reactions were really funny, though, and I'm glad that they were really grossed out by most of the jokes.

don't we look so much alike?


on Tuesday we went to Target (another store I'll miss when I'm in Vermont) and after doing minimal damage to my wallet, we went to Gran Agave, a Mexican restaurant at the Waterfront.  I'd never been there before, but we were greeted with a warm basket of freshly fried chips and I was instantly won over.  I had a pretty good vegetarian taco salad and my sister had a tasty dish of enchilladas verdes.

our next stop was the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History.  it's always great to wander through these exhibits with my sister because we share a lot of the same interests but have our own unique perspectives and facts to discuss.  staring at a Renoir can make us go on a million different tangents.  for example, we talked about the food in this still life for way too long.


on Wednesday morning we went to the new Pamela's Diner in Squirrel Hill.  I've been taking guests here for the past 4 years, and while my veggie egg white omelet wasn't the most flavorful omelet I've ever had, my toast and our shared short stack of hotcakes made up for it.

after ingesting enough caffeine, we set off to visit The Andy Warhol Museum in the North Side.  I'd been there once before, and while Warhol's work is always so fascinating to look at, there were some other really awesome exhibits.  there was a display of a Tarot deck reinterpreted by famous artists, designers, photographers, and other creative individuals.  I have to remember that going to a museum just once is never going to cut it.  there's always something new to see and learn about.

for dinner on Wednesday evening, we went to Lucci's, one of the best pizza places in Pittsburgh, and got a small Greek pizza and a six pack of Bud Light Lime to share.  after an afternoon of heavy lifting and packing, nothing in the whole world could have tasted so good.

Thursday was spent packing, cleaning, arguing, laughing, and being ridiculous.  we got on the road 7 hours later than we had originally planned and rolled onto the Lake Champlain Ferry at 5 am after 11 hours of driving.  you don't want to hear about that whole experience...


floral fashion & furniture

adventure, photographyAnna Keller3 Comments

I've been to Phipps Conservatory a few times over the past few years, but I had never been there with my DSLR camera.  I ventured over there (for free with my CMU student ID) on Sunday, and there was a new flower display, which showed some really interesting fashion displays made entirely out of plant material.  it made me think of those really awesome challenges from the 1st season of Project Runway.

there was plenty of the Chihuly glass art that has been there for years now.

and there were plenty of other interesting displays to go along with the usual lovely plants.

I always love the little bonsai trees.  I think it is so amazing how people can just carefully tend the little guys so that they grow to be miniature versions of their full-sized selves.

(temporary) unemployment is wonderful!

adventure, food, styleAnna KellerComment

yesterday was my last day of summer employment (I worked full time for 2 months, and now I'm going to take 6 weeks to get my life in order and decide on my next big step).  this morning, I woke up without an alarm with a totally open day ahead of me.  I know a thing or two about having a really wonderful day, and I decided that today was going to be one of those. it started out with vegan carrot cake for breakfast.  I am trying to use up a lot of ingredients in my kitchen, and my roommate had been planning on making the Skinny Bitch recipe for a while.  alas, she didn't end up following through with her plan, so I made an adapted version (we didn't have enough of some things or the right still tastes pretty good).


I was doing 2 loads of laundry, but when I went to the basement to check on my clothes, everything was still soaking wet.  it seems that our dryer is 100% broken.  at least it waited until the end of our lease to give out.  so now I have all of my clothes spread out all over my apartment.  I wasn't joking when I said I had a lot of stripes...

I made sure to wear something cute when I went on my adventure.

hat - Urban Outfitters

tank - Target

belt - Gap

skirt - H&M

sandals - Bass 

I still have way too many shoes to pack.  you may not be able to see it in this picture, but I decided to give myself a colorblocked manicure.  I like this look but was afraid of it being too obvious.  I think that this orange and orange-red combination is an easy way to try out a less traditional look.

the rest of my day included a trip to Sephora (which I'll blog about later), a stop by my museum to drop something off, and one last visit to Phipps Conservatory.  I took a lot of pictures, and I'll save those for later in the week.

one of the best parts of my day was a free frozen yogurt at Razzy Fresh.  they have a frequent customer card that gives you one free frozen yogurt when you buy 9 others.  today was my lucky day, and I was really good at fulfilling my reward -- they will only give you 8 oz of free fro yo, and I got exactly that much!  I always thought that I was awful at eyeballing amounts, but I guess I was in top form today.