the day to day

Today I wanted to share what it is I do each day and give a little background on how it all came to be.  I would not yet call what I have a “career,” but I am in the process of trying to make it one.

As you may have read in my about section or remember me talking about way back when I started this blog, my background is actually in architecture.  I went to The Ohio State University for my bachelor’s degree, and for grad school I attended The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  My intention was to always stick with architecture, become licensed, and work for a small firm focusing on sustainable residential + small commercial design.  

At UNCC, I was extremely lucky to have a paid assistantship job for the full 2 years.  It covered my tuition and gave me a monthly stipend which allowed me to not have to take out loans.  The position was a lot of extra work on top of an already stressful and busy program, but I got to work with a few professors who ended up being major influencers in my life.  I was so grateful for this opportunity!

[This photo was from UNCC graduation with one of my best friends, Ginette.  She was my partner in crime and held the other grad student assistantship position.]


I was set on architecture as a career since the 7th grade.  Strange but true.  I dabbled with the idea of a few other careers like physical therapy and pharmacy but stuck to architecture once I got to college.

ash grad

[I’m just now realizing this is going to turn into a series of posts, as I don’t want to cram it all into one.  That is, if you’re interested in hearing more!]

It wasn’t until grad school, specifically during my thesis, where I developed a passion for what I was doing.  It’s when I would say I developed a partial Type A personality.  It was my thesis that made me passionate about food!  Architecture + Food?  Yes.  My thesis was on just that!  More specifically, about the impact industrialization has had on both.  But that’s another topic for another day.

Here is an abbreviated explanation of how the career path [typically] works if you want to become a licensed architect:

  • 4 year undergrad
  • 2 year grad degree
  • [or a 5-year program that is year-round + you finish with your masters]
  • work as a paid intern for about 3-4 years,
  • as an intern wanting to become a licensed architect you must fulfill a long list with a set amount of hours in various categories which takes 3-4yrs
  • apply to take you licensing exams
  • start taking all SEVEN of your licensing exams, which typically takes a minimum of 1 year if you pass them the first time around [they’re taken 1 at a time]
  • become a licensed architect if you made it through all that
  • total time = about 10-13 years

Let me back up for just one minute.

  • graduated Ohio state in 2005
  • Chris + I had been together for 2.5yrs
  • Chris still had one more year to finish his Civil Engineering degree [5 yrs]
  • I worked for an architecture firm for one year and we lived together in Columbus, OH
  • we got our first dog, Dakota…the depressed Boxer
  • applied to grad school in Colorado, Charlotte, and Maryland but got the offer for the assistantship in Charlotte and couldn’t pass it up


Okay, now that we’re all caught up I can move on.

6 months into grad school we were engaged [4yrs dating].


I defended my graduate thesis about 1 year and 3 months later and was awarded the faculty book award for excellence in graphic representation at graduation.


One month later we were married.

[wedding part 1 + 2]


After our honeymoon I started job hunting.  I’m pretty sure I got the very last architectural intern job left in Charlotte.  The economy was starting to take a turn for the worse and architecture firms were laying off left + right. 


At the time, Chris was working for a Civil Engineering firm downtown.  The very day I started work he was laid off.  I texted him to meet me out for lunch, and he told me he was just leaving to go home because he lost his job.

Uhhh, crap.  Now what?

I continued to work and Chris job searched, which was kind of a joke because there were zero engineering jobs available. 

This is when our talks about finally moving to Colorado started.  Chris wanted to live in Colorado since the day I met him [almost 10.5 years ago!].  My love for Colorado also started at an early age.  I actually entertained the idea of going to undergrad in Colorado and made numerous trips to visit the family I have in Ft. Collins.  So our plans took a shift and we both started looking for jobs in Colorado. 

About eight months later with no luck on the job front we decided to set a moving date [about 4 months away] despite that.  We thought it would be easier to find jobs once our location was actually in Colorado.  It’s the place we both wanted to be, and we were determined to make it work.  With multiple lay-offs at the company I worked for and more on the way [which there were] I gave my notice that I would be leaving.  I was with the company for a full year before our move.

Did I forget to mention that about 6 months before deciding to move I started a granola bar company?  If you’ve been a long time follower then you most likely remember this.  They were called “Ota.Bars.”  OAT spelled OTA and it also stemmed from DakOTA.  While working full time I also making granola bars about 20+ hours a week, selling them at a farmer’s market, and a few stores around Charlotte.

[Can’t find my other photos!]


I also trained for my first + [so far] only half marathon.


Oh, and we also got a new dog.  Thanks to a beer festival in Charlotte and a Great Dane rescue group that was there.  Someone had a few too many beer samples and fell in love with this little lady.

Kenna “beans” – lab/great dane mix


Then we packed our bags and headed out West.


Part II coming soon!