Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wendy's Lookbook

UPDATE: 12/7/2011
Wendy keeps sending me signs that she's destined to be my stylish, new best friend.  ;-)  Her post "Priceless :: Education & Canvas bag" highlights City Year!  My two "city years" that I served in NYC and Los Angeles are slightly indescribable and mostly defining, and it excites me to see others learning about CY for the first time.  Wendy is stylish, but she's so much more than designer clothes and a pretty face!

* * * * *

My blog isn't a how-to blog or a lifestyle blog or a craft blog or anything fancy with a gimmick.  It's just a life blog.  However, I have fallen in love with blogs of all types and interests!  DIY projects, vegan living, crafts, hair, and funny things (e.g., Cake Wrecks, Smart Phowned, FML, etc.).


I recently discovered Wendy's Lookbook.  It is pure sophisticated style at its finest.  It captures her style tips, outfits, and videos (homemade yet high quality!).  For anyone interested in fashion, this is the daily blog for you!  While the content is focused on material things, Wendy's Thanksgiving post is about who she is. 

Knowing her past and seeing what she has created for herself puts words like hope, strength, success, and ambition into perspective.  I'm so proud to have been a CASA, but I also saw how hard the juvenile system can be.  My case child got adopted.  Wendy did not, but I think she's done a damn fine job of creating her own happiness.  Go Wendy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

'Tis The Season

I had a very nice Thanksgiving with good conversation, delicious food, and very social people.  I am very grateful that someone opened her doors to us for the occasion.  The four-day weekend also included a lot of laughing with the mister.  The hearty, giggly kind that nourishes the soul.  We gave Thanksgiving our undivided attention, and now it's time for Christmas and the New Year!  Decorating was a no-brainer this weekend -- tree included! (Click to enlarge images)




Although Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, Christmastime is about family tradition for me.  It's a time of hot cocoa, clay-mation movies, festive lights, board games, carols, chilly weather, greeting cards, crafts, photos, and all the memories created in the process.

What is your favorite thing about this time of year and which ever religious holiday you celebrate?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

With A Thankful Heart

'Tis the day that Americans give thanks to one another and for all that is wonderful in their lives.  Don't you wish people treated every day like Thanksgiving?

I wish you a merry Thanksgiving!

We will not be with my family for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years Eve this year.  This is a horrible travesty for my family.  An absolute travesty!  Unfortunately, it is not feasible.  I am 27 years old, and this is the first first we will not all be together.  Trust me.  It's incredibly disappointing -- to the point of tears, even -- but then I remember how lucky I am that I have such a beautiful family to miss and be missed by.  I'm so thankful!

I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning.  In truth, the Broadway performances have always been what I look forward to, but it's family tradition to watch it together.  Even though we're all in different households now, we continue to watch it.  While it's fun to watch, I think we are all hanging on to the memories that we created when it was just our family of five under one roof.  In all my nostalgia this morning, I made this collage of our Christmas photos over the years.


We've grown up, and our family has literally grown in size!  Other things I am grateful for:

Health
Husband who is so much more than I hoped for
Job that I enjoy and supports us
My case child being adopted
Outpouring of love & support through all the changes we endured in the last year
Friendship
Forgiveness
The fresh start that moving to Houston has given me
Being invited to a Thanksgiving dinner tonight
The southern hospitality of Houstonians
Real mail
My education and the value my parents always bestowed upon it
Tolly and Amelie who instantly make me feel better on a bad day

There is so much more, but no one has the time to read that list!  What are you thankful for?  Ask yourself every day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Friend is a Mermaid.

I'm serious.  She's also a princess, a fairy, an elf, Ernie from Sesame Street, and various other magical things.  And sorry, men.  She's taken.  You can't make any mer-babies with her.  Actually, you really can't.




Monday, November 21, 2011

I Love Kale Chips


Yes, I sure do!  And they're so easy to make.  A former nutrition professor of mine would give the class all sorts of tips on how to add more vegetables to their home menus, especially for those students with children.  She said that her kids loved potato chips, and one day, she decided to give them kale chips instead.  To her surprise, they loved them, and kale chips became a staple of their snack diet.  Well, I made them at home and fell in love with them too!  Now they're one of my favorite work snacks.

So simple.  Try them!


RECIPE

Rinse 1 bunch of kale and pat dry with a paper towel.
 

Tear into small pieces (approx. 2" x 2") and set aside in a large bowl.
  

Pour 1-2 tbsp. of grapeseed oil into a small, shallow cup or dish. 
  

Dipping your fingers in the oil, lightly rub into each piece of kale.  Lay pieces on a baking sheet.  (This can be a bit time-consuming, but tossing the kale in oil leads to really soggy chips.)
  

After you have filled the baking sheet, lightly season with salt and/or pepper.
  

Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes.

Greeting Cards Don't Have To Cost You Your First-Born Child

I look forward to this time of year all year long, and yet, somehow time gets away from me, and I don't always plan appropriately.  I don't like feeling rushed in any situation, but I really don't like feeling rushed to write holiday cards.  Real mail is scarce in this day and age, so it's extra important to take the time to write a nice note.  Fortunately, with a little reminder from my childhood friend, Anna at Life Lessons, I have already designed and ordered holiday postcards from Vista Print!

We put one of our beautiful wedding photos to good use for our holiday postcard.  And I love it!  Simple, classic, and downright inexpensive.  And by inexpensive, I mean I paid less than $15 for 100 postcards including shipping.  People, don't underestimate the power of Vista Print.  And as Anna pointed out on her blog, postcard postage is only 29 cents!

Tip #1: Search Google for "Vista Print 100 free postcards"
The website is sneaky in that it caters to the viewer and his/her website traffic. 
If you go straight to the website, you will not be able to find a "100 free postcards" deal.

Tip #2: Create your own postcard using a blank template to get 100 free. 
If you select from the holiday category, the deal doesn't apply.

I've fallen in love with rubber stamps recently, and to my delight, I found a holiday stamp set (16 stamps, 2 ink pads, 2 mini glitter pens) at Michaels on sale for $4.99!  Stamps are usually a couple bucks each, so this was an absolute steal.  I can't wait to send our postcards out with a little extra rubber stamp cheer.


Also, please visit Anna over at Life Lessons.  I met her when we were wee ones in the same performing arts program.  She was little Annie Warbucks to my Sheila Kelly -- one of the villains, for those who haven't seen the sequel, Annie Warbucks(Fact: AW broke all off-Broadway records in 1993 but exceeded the maximum amount of performances to be nominated for Tony Awards which jeopardized its move to Broadway.)  Anna is busting at the seams with cuteness and class, and she posts all sorts of crafty, yummy, and wise things.  You will love her!  Unlike my blog, hers is written for a wider audience.  Check her out!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanks to You and You and You!

I'll cut straight to the chase.  I apologize for pulling a Houdini.  Work has been incredibly busy for the last two weeks, and after work, I didn't want to do anything other than go to a studio class, eat, and sleep.  So I did.  But I'm back now!

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and no surprise here, I have a lot to be thankful for!  Among the greatest of these thanks-inducing things is people!  2011 had the potential to be terrifyingly stressful, but it's almost the end of the year, and I'm completely happy despite being far away from family and friends.  Scott and I found out we were moving to another state, planned a wedding in four months, packed up our lives, and dove head-first into a new life.  And that all happened by June!   I think we've worked really hard to get where we are and keep things positive, but we've also been surrounded by a lot of great people.  I think one of the things I am most proud of in my life are the people in it.  Who's the lucky girl?!  *pointing to self*

In the last two weeks of "Where in the World is Mrs. Kudia," I've done a lot of catching up with people.

  • Erin and I had a Gmail love fest which made me wonder how anyone gets through life without a friend like her.
  • Dixie called from Germany, and although I missed her call, it made me feel like she wasn't in another country.
  • Cory and I laughed about how crazy our lives were in LA but how we wouldn't change a minute of it.
  • My parents called last Sunday night to wish me a great week and tell me they're proud of me.
  • Summer and I talked two days in a row... and texted... and e-mailed... and texted again.
  • Annie and I talked after many months!  Hallelujah!  I can't wait for her wedding in April!
  • Jen and I laughed about how funny we are.  I don't know if anyone else agrees, but we're pretty sure we're funny.
  • Skype completely failed me today, so I resorted to regular ol' phone conversation with Caitlin who is almost done with grad school!  YAY!
  • Jake and I continue our game of phone tag.  :-/
  • Skype also ruined a date with David, but I tried to make up for it with this:


So thanks for being such marvelous people!  I hope you have a great Thanksgiving week ahead, and I send hugs from Houston.  And because Tolly is adorable and he knows it, he wanted me to show you this video he made.  Ain't he the cutest show-off you've ever seen?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sweet Afternoon



Today I am thankful for the uber-chic coffee maker at work that also makes delicious hot cocoa.  Add a dash of cinnamon for an extra afternoon pick-me-up!  I can already foresee that I will need every ounce of self control to resist have hot cocoa all winter long.  Not only is it delicious, but it holds a special place in my heart.  My dad got Summer and I hooked on hot cocoa and toasted peanut butter sandwiches at a very early age! 

5 days at work per week  
x 
3 months of winter  
=  
a whole heap of self control needed

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Liar, Liar

Remember when I called Houston an autumnless pit?  I lied.  The weather has definitely changed with the season!  It may not be the Wisconsin fall dazzling with amber leaves and the crisp breath of nature that Scott misses so much, but it has been cold! 

True story: I wore a scarf last week.

It was 48 degrees when I left for work at 8:00am that day...

... and 54 degrees the next morning.

I ran an office errand yesterday at 12:30pm, and it was 55 degrees.  Sweater dresses, boots, tights, scarves, and hats are steppin' out after all! 

Today I am thankful for my little kiddos that I can cuddle with on these cold nights.

MEOW!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Because Sometimes Bullet Points Are Easier

  • I Skyped with one amazing Leah Press on Saturday night, and we laughed a lot.  Typical.  We have one of those friendships that include a lot of laughing at ourselves and making interesting sound effects for simple tasks -- and a little bit of "what do you want to be when you grow up" chatter.  And we spent over two hours on Skype doing just that.

     
  • Although I'm not a fan of Fox News, I was happy to see that my company's Facebook profile posted this article about yoga.
  • I just finished reading Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet, and I'm reading it again.  There was a lot of information, and I think I'll retain more of it with a second read. Also, I read this daily:


  • I envy Scott for being the thespian in this relationship now.  I should have known this would happen!  (Loss of Identity enters stage left) 
  • While others despise daylight savings and the darker evenings, I really appreciated that the sun was up when I had to get ready for work this morning. 

Friends, keeping in touch is hard.  I get it.  But I miss you, and I want to hear how your life is.  Please shoot me a text or e-mail or comment below with a quick update -- just three bullet points!  That will take less than a minute.  Tell me how you are... *ahem*... ANNIE LUNDBERG (soon to be WELDON).  :-)  Thank you.

And now I'm off to belly dancing!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Word Vomit

For anyone who has seen the movie Mean Girls, you know what I'm talking about.  It's the instance in which your words seem uncontrollable, and they just come out.  Yup, word vomit.  I have two rants that I absolutely must say!  I hate that this may sound mean, but please read it with a dash of sarcastic humor.  :-)

1.) Today I could do without: all the unnecessarily humongous trucks in Houston.
** This rant is brought to you by Houstonians. 

If everything is bigger in Texas, why does it seem like so many men on the road are compensating for something?  Oooooh, yes!  I went there.  Houston is the third largest city in the country.  It's metropolitan.  There are more corporate businesses than farms.  So why the gigantic trucks?  Please.  Someone enlighten me, because right now, I just think they're trying to... fill a void.

2.) Today I could do without: the entire Kardashian family.
** This rant is brought to you by every headline, radio show, TV program, and magazine that continues to bring up Kim Kardashian filing for divorce after 72 days of marriage -- her second marriage, no less.

Who says that the "evil, sinful gays" are going to ruin the institution of marriage? Kim and all the other Hollywood "celebrities" have already done that for us. Furthermore, the Kardashians need to be permanently removed from the E! network, and Ryan Seacrest should be sued. I'm serious. I'm sure he's broken some sort of FCC rule as the executive producer of all Kardashian shows.  It's conflict of interest when he has exclusive interviews with his "reality stars" on his radio show.  How is he permitted to promote his own product which makes him millions of dollars when another lesser known radio host would be fired for promoting his own garage sale?  Talk about a man who knows how to work the system. 

 Now, let's all do ourselves a favor and stop reading about them and watching their shows. Just treat them like Jessica Simpson, and they'll disappear too.  (Sorry, Jessica.  I hadn't intended to make a dig at you, but truth is truth.)

** MID-DAY UPDATE:
My former boss at The AjA Project sent me this post.  I guess someone agrees with me!

** ANOTHER UPDATE:
Leah, thank you for sharing this:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What I Did On Saturday :-)

Saying "I do"

 The Parentals

 Father of the Bridesmaid

 Mom's Baby Girl

 Five of Seven BMs

 I'm not sure what just happened, but I love this Linz-Sueee moment!

Meet the Conways!

The Essence of People

When people say "getting to know each other," they usually mean talking for great lengths of time (e.g., a first date).  You ask the typical questions: 

Where do you live? 
What do you do? 
Where did you grow up? 
What do you like to do on the weekends? 
What are your hobbies? 
Do you have pets? 
On a scale of 1 to 10, how awesome at life are you? 
(Okay, not that last one, but I usually think that in my head.) 

The answers to these questions are facts.  But I find that one of the best ways to see the essence of a person is to observe who (s)he is to others.  How does she interact with others?  What does his body language say?  How does this person care for others?  What kind of friend is she?  Try it!  You'll see what I mean.  You truly see people for who they are when they don't know they're being watched. 

My weekend was filled with these observations.  Here's the deal.  One of my best, best friends got married this weekend.  "Besties," as she says.  SueEllen and I have been friends since our 10th grade World Cultures class in 1999, and although we have our own circles of friends, we have always been close.  I was one of seven bridesmaids in her wedding.  With the exception of her older cousin who was usually busy with her husband and four children, I knew the other five gals.  Great, right?  Well, kind of.  We had all gone to USD, but they only knew me as "Sueee's bestie" and "the girl who sings at Founders."  We would see each other occasionally but only shared quick exchanges.  All of them, on the other hand, were a really close group through being RAs and other campus organizations.  Last week I realized that I would be spending a lot of time with them.  Bridal shower, breakfast, bridal errands, nail salon, rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, sleepover in a hotel suite, wedding day.  That's a lot to do with five other girls who have a really strong history.  People may be nice and fun, but you just can't compete with history!  I'm not going to lie.  I was nervous I'd feel like an outsider the whole time.  I had to keep reminding myself that "it's not about me; this is about SueEllen and Sam getting married."  An experience is what you make it so... deep breath, smile, dive in!

Guess what?  I had a great time!  As expected, there were moments when I clearly had nothing to contribute to the conversation.  There were times I only saw backs as they turned toward each other to gab.  I wasn't as free with my words as I would have been if it was just Sueee and me.  When we had to look at a plan B during a time crunch, I was careful to not suggest too much and sound bossy.  BUT... I did find time to speak with each of them.  In the process of completing our bridesmaid duties, I had really positive one-on-one moments.  I really tried to put myself out there.  But more than anything, I feel like I really learned why they're so important in Sueee's life by watching them.  Hearing their banters, figuring out each of their roles (the liberal, the planner, the constant helper), seeing them find every way to alleviate Sueee's stress, just watching. 

I may not know how many siblings they have or what they majored in at USD, but I know they love Sueee and that they are genuinely good friends.  It made me happy to see that, especially for Sueee as she married Sam. 

Take the time to know the essence of the people in your life.  Get the facts, but get to know them wholly too.  You'll appreciate them so much more.