St. Louis

There are too many places we want to visit and not enough vacation days in the year, so we’re taking advantage of our three day weekends. Makes for a tired Tuesday but all well worth it.

Moto Museum

Gorgeous collection of mostly European vintage motorcycles. I didn’t know how to read all the fancy facts, but I could definitely appreciate the color schemes, old brandmarks, and well-designed details.
Motorcycle Museum

Serendipitously enough, our hotel was attached to the museum. Hotel Ignacio was modern, clean, had L’Occitane toiletries and Rishi tea. So I was a content little traveler.

We had dinner at Lucas Park Grille and shared some delicious small plates: smoked trout, scallops in a butternut squash sauce, and a salad with beets, goat cheese, and pistachios. Also sipped on the local brew: Schafly pale ale and summer lager. Had frozen yogurt at Flying Cow, which was walking distance from the hotel.

City Museum

This place makes you feel like you’re in a dream—complete with both wonderful and terrifying feelings. Staircases, giant praying mantis, castle turrets, old planes and buses… almost makes me feel like Stefon off of SNL while describing it. (“This place has everything: pugs, geezers, doo-wop groups, a wise old turtle that looks like Quincy Jones.”) We got there at sundown and got to see the city from a Ferris wheel on the roof. Very dream-like, indeed.
City Museum, St. Louis

When we had reached sensory overload, we went to the Architecture Museum on the third floor for more subtle entertainment in the form of old design elements. Stone carvings, handles, door knockers, and other relics were salvaged from buildings being demolished in St. Louis and are archived on this floor. After looking up at buildings and squinting to try and see designs for so long, it was neat to see pieces like this at eye level.
City Museum, St. Louis
It was also a good feeling to know people care enough about old, solid, beautiful design that they sought these pieces out before buildings were torn down. Not all is lost.

Next morning we had breakfast at MoKaBe’s Coffee and lucked out with a breakfast buffet, so we got to try everything and it was all delicious. After that, we headed over to Missouri Botanical Garden, the oldest botanical garden in the US.
Missouri Botanical Garden
Missouri Botanical Garden
This place stretches on and on. Loved getting close to species of trees and plants I had never seen before (Redwood, even!). Next, went to Forest Park to see the Jewel Box—Art Deco greenhouse built in 1936. Then, headed over to the (free!) zoo for, once again, seeing some animals I had never seen before.
Gem Box, St. Louis

We needed some food so we headed to The Hill, which is known for its Italian food, to try Charlie Giotto’s. Apparently toasted ravioli was invented here and I had to try it.

We headed back over to the Missouri Botanical Gardens after dinner to see everything lit up, since it was Lantern Festival time. Beautiful but crowded. Maybe don’t go on opening weekend, if you have a choice.
Lantern Festival

Went back to our hotel for the second night, The Cheshire, for gin and tonics by the pool. Not too shabby of a way to end the evening. The Cheshire was perfectly my cup of tea: each room is named after a British author (our room was Charles Dickens), they carried Aveda toiletries, and the interior design was impeccable.

Our last stop in St. Louis was the iconic Jefferson Expanse Memorial (more commonly referred to as the Arch). I had no idea there was a (free!) museum under the arch and it had all sorts of great tidbits about Lewis and Clark’s voyage and general pioneering facts.

After all that, we hit the old dusty trail, ourselves. On the way home, we stopped at the Corvette and Volkswagen Museum in Effingham, Illinois. Had a couple of Beetles from Herbie and the Corvette from Death Race. And dozens of stunning Corvettes—I rather fancied the ones from the 1960’s. We ate dinner at a place that I wish I could uproot and bring to Dayton, Ohio (so someone please follow this model!). It was also in Effingham and it was called Firefly Grill. A big, open restaurant built next to a pond, complete with its own garden that they cook with. I had a spinach salad with vanilla almonds, goat cheese croquettes, dressed with a strawberry vinaigrette along with some Dungeness crab cakes. He had a steak burger on a pretzel bun with bacon, Boursin cheese, and grilled onions. So much better than settling for a drive-through and then regretting it for the next five hours home.

In short, St. Louis more than met my expectations and was perfect for a three-day-getaway. The question is where are you going for your next long weekend?

*I referenced the article Guide to St. Louis: Our Two-Day Itinerary on chicagomag.com, which was a very helpful resource.

Posted in Travel | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Quirkey Copywriting

Quirkeys

Got these “Quirkeys” as a gift last birthday, but the true gift was my joy upon reading the clever copywriting on the back of the package. I love the choice of phrases: “By gum!” “What a bother.” I also love the colorful word choices: “blasted” “jingle-jangles.”

And that’s what good copywriting should be: clever, playful, and delightful.

Here’s the writing, itself:

“Wise dweller of the forest.
Silent hunter of the night.
Help me find the key to my car without a fight.

Next time you’re reaching for your keys, no need to make it a miserable fumbly mess. Take a word from the bird & slip these handsome owl covers onto your keys.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll often find yourself scratching your head wondering why your yacht won’t start. By gum! I’ve been using the key to my blasted moped! What a bother.

Banish confusion from your life with the swipe of a feather.

Molded from durable silicone, Quir-Keys will smooth out the jingle-jangles in your pocket.”

Posted in Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

i.e. or e.g.

I feel it’s my duty to inform you of commonly misused words or phrases, and this is one that blew me away. I had always seen it used incorrectly. So, if you already know the correct way, think of me as ignorant and be on your smug way. Otherwise, let’s do this.

So i.e. is actually short for id est, which is Latin for “that is” and e.g. is short for exempli gratia, which in Latin translates to “for the sake of an example.”

I could go on, but The Oatmeal has already done an excellent job of explaining. And Grammar Girl has some great advice on how you can remember which is which.

Posted in Grammar | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Spell Checker Can’t Compete

Science fiction from the early twentieth century had predicted robots would be ruling the world by now. While that’s not the case, computers have taken over many of the jobs humans used to possess. And yes, they can make life easier.

But let’s make one thing clear: computers are no substitute for the excellent judgement we homo sapiens have developed through the years. I won’t argue that it would be marvelous, writing carelessly, worrying only about the semantics, and having an omniscient electronic being correct all the punctuation for you. However, another characteristic––besides opposable thumbs––that sets us apart, is the ability to know when something is too good to be true.

Grammar checkers in word processors can be very helpful. But they can’t catch everything. Thank goodness, because that’s what gives us writers job security.

Posted in Editing | Leave a comment

Pack Rat

I admit it. I’m a pack rat. Brochures from museums I visited, receipts from bed and breakfasts I’ve stayed in, pictures from past students, papers from high school English, are all in folders I need to throw away, but can’t bear to.

This inability to let go can also transfer to my writing. Of course, writing is a process which requires many drafts. In each draft I will change the font to gray, italicize it, put it in carrots, in parentheses––whatever I must do to keep it there. Even though I’ve thought of a better word choice, a better phrase, it’s so hard to let go.

But then when I do, and the clunkiness is replaced with a clean copy with no reminders of all the work it took to get there, the separation anxiety is worth it. I realize the delete button is, in fact, my friend.

A Working Library blog had some insightful stuff to say about this concept:

“Most good writers know that writing short means first writing long, then identifying the weak areas and ruthlessly cutting them; after which the shards that remain must be carefully pieced back together, and (often) the cutting repeated. Too many people stop after merely writing long, and so the work never earns the clarity this process creates.”

Posted in Editing, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Content Strategy

Along with the introduction of the world wide web, there’s a whole new set of job titles. You know, the ones that make career conversations at parties difficult and awkward.

PERSON 1
So, what do you do for a living?

PERSON 2
Um, I’m a local area network system engineer.

PERSON 1
That sounds nice. Oh, looks like my friend needs me. Nice talking to you.

While my job title is not that semantically complex, there isn’t a huge awareness built around it. My position is called “Content Strategist” and it’s a relatively new field––it has only been around for a couple of years.

In order to define a content strategist, let’s first define content strategy. According to one of the pioneers, Kristina Halvorson, “Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content. Necessarily, the content strategist must work to define not only which content will be published, but why we’re publishing it in the first place.”

So, content strategy could be described as the process of creating the most effective ways to use available resources to deliver a message. Therefore, the content strategist is the person who leads this process.

Some of the duties of a content strategist include:

  • Compiling research about particular business or industry
  • Gathering information through client interaction to gain a sense of direction
  • Defining over-arching qualities or mission of site
  • Organizing content in a relevant and consistent manner
  • Creating an attachment with audience to establish brand loyalty
  • Reviewing and analyzing entire content to check for cohesiveness
  • Optimizing content for greater search engine visibility
  • Deciding when and how text should be updated

In Rachel Lovinger’s article Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data, she explains why content strategists are necessary: “As website functionality has increased and web users have become savvier, sites have had to meet the demand for sophisticated interaction and more content to support it. But simply more content won’t do; it has to be accurate and relevant. It has to be meaningful.”

Learn more about content strategists:
Article that explains content strategists’ duties
Article with helpful visuals and links

Posted in Content Strategy, Writing | Leave a comment

Welcome to World Wonderland

I like words. I like when copywriters use them wittily in short taglines and I like when novelists use them eloquently in long descriptions. And the stickler in me cares about the integrity of these words in the English language.

So you’ll find some posts about all of the above.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment