Thursday, December 29, 2011

Give Me One Reason

Okay, folks. Same 'ol story, just a different day. My blogging sucks lately. And it's still going to suck, but I just wanted to let you know I'm alive. Soon enough, I will do a Christmas post, maybe over the weekend. Speaking of which, I am only a couple hours away from hitting the road to Colby for a nice extended weekend, a weekend which includes my (hush!) 26TH BIRTHDAY! Yikes. No real plans this year as I have no money and people are busy. L is on his way to Hawaii as we speak, so to say I'm jealous is a bit of an understatement, ha! I will probably just lay low and enjoy the time I have at home since I don't work again until January 4th. Yay! Very much looking forward to a little time off.

Anyway, there's a brief little update, and while I have you, I figured I'd also share this song with you. I heard it today and it brought back memories since it's been a LONG time since I've heard it. Not sure why, but I've always loved this song. Hopefully you all recognize and enjoy it! Oh, and Happy New Year if I'm not back by then! :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jingle All The Way

Two weekends ago, I made the familiar trip to La Crosse for a little Christmas gathering with some of my friends. In an effort to provide a little background on the festivities, here's part of the event description: "In the spirit jollity, let us join together for a special day of movie watching, Mariah Carey dancing, Chinese food eating, and Rotary Lights gazing! Our goal for the day will be to watch 4 selected holiday movies (more on that later), eat some great food, and walk through the Rotary Lights hand in hand. Simple yet awesome."

The event idea was conceived by L and our friend Matt, and in case you're wondering about the movie selection, here's what went down. All the people who had committed to attending (about 10-ish of us) were to submit a list our top 4 Christmas movies. From that list, L and Matt narrowed those movies down to a list of 16. At that point, they were presented to us in "battle" format, kind of like a basketball bracket, and we had to vote for whichever movie we wanted to win that match-up. We did this until we reached a final four. You'll see a photo of the winners below, and once you see which movies we selected, I think you'll realize that there was clearly some humor and fun involved in terms of which movies made the cut.

Anyway, we spent most of the day together, watching movies, snacking, drinking, dancing, etc. We also went to see the Rotary Lights, which was beautiful as always. I had a blast and am sad that it'll be over a month from that event before I even have the chance of getting up there again. Damn it, not having a paycheck in December is REALLY cramping my style. Anyway, it was such a fun day that got me pretty pumped for the holidays. Sadly, I haven't had much time to get really festive this holiday season, so it was nice to take part in something that reminded me the holidays are upon us. Maybe next year I'll have a tree and be able to afford presents for my loved ones. ;) That being said, if I'm not back before, Merry Christmas (or happy holidays) to all of you. Hope you have a great time with your friends and family! :)

L in his holiday get-up with his creepy Mrs. Claus doll.

Part of the event involved bringing some sort of holiday decoration. Here we have Mrs. Claus holding a Babysitter's Club Christmas video next to a bear skull wearing a Santa hat. Yeah, no one said the decorations had to be "normal." ;)

The movie winners!
(Jingle All The Way; Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale; Holiday in Handcuffs; and The Muppet Christmas Carol)

Every time "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey came on, we had to dance. Clearly some people took this VERY seriously.

See L up on the stage? Yeah, he was doing some random dance, and other people thought he was part of the Rotary Lights. Hilarious!

This one makes me laugh EVERY time. L's face is so far into the hole while the rest of us ladies are so far back. Good stuff! ;)

Me and L. :)

The group (UW-L alums) in front of the UW-L Eagle!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

HBD, Drew Elise!

In my rush to provide you with some updates in my "Two Weeks In" post earlier today, I almost forgot to create a post celebrating the FIRST birthday of my beautiful niece, Drew! No, I didn't forget that it is her birthday, I just almost forgot the post. Anyway, it's honestly scary to me how quickly this year has gone. I remember being stranded in La Crosse due to blizzard-like conditions when she was born, so she was the first of the six Smith kiddos that I didn't get to meet in the hospital. I was pretty bummed about that. :( Sadly, I think I have seen Drew much less than I saw the other kids at that age, primarily because my finances, coupled with the distance from Milwaukee to Colby, have prevented me from getting home nearly as much as I'd like to get there. Regardless, I'm so happy this little peanut is part of this world, and I can't wait to get home and see her (and all the family) again for Christmas! Happy birthday, Drew! :)

The first time I met her!

Tongue hanging out! :)
(Photo courtesy of Courtney - aka: Drew's mama)

Just chillin'.
(Photo courtesy of Courtney - aka: Drew's mama)

Spending time together at Jenna's baby shower.

Thanksgiving '11
(Check out how high her pants are;)

Two Weeks In!

Hey all! Thanks for being patient with me on the lack of blog posts lately. Unlike my lazy sister-in-law, I have had A LOT going on these days. (So has she, but I'm just using her words;). Anyway, I've been really stressed and rather emotional lately, so I figured I'd spare you all the details of the crazy thoughts in my head. ;) As you know based on my last blog entry, I started my new job at UW-M last week (11/28). To say the last two weeks have been overwhelming may be a bit of an understatement, but I think that is to be expected when starting over again... During these two weeks, I have spent a lot of time reading, researching, and sitting in on student appointments, just trying to take in as much information as I possibly can. The whole information overload concept definitely rings true (especially when you factor in the fact that I'm trying to figure out all my benefits and insurance too), but I've actually really enjoyed learning so much. This week, I got to lead a few appointments of my own, meaning the other advisor sat in with me, but I led the discussion. After the first couple appointments, I started feeling pretty confident about the information I was giving to students. I think my biggest fear is when they start asking really specific things, whether it be about classes, potential career paths, etc. I know I'll start to understand that information more as time goes on, but it's hard not to feel like I should know it all right away. Guess I just gotta go a little easier on myself! :) I'd be lying if I said that I was super pumped the first few days. In fact, I even had fleeting moments of, "Holy shit, did I make the wrong decision?!" I think I was just a little thrown off by the major differences between UW-M and MIAD. And let's be real, no one will ever live up to Duane as a boss. That being said, however, I've already started to feel a big shift in my mood and attitude about the job, and I'm really excited to come into my own in the office. I know I can do it, I know I'm good at what I do, and it's just a matter of getting the opportunity to prove that! Honestly, I still can't even believe that I got this new job and that I'll already be starting week three on Monday. Where does time go?! I hope things just keep getting better and better, and I look forward to sharing more details with you in the future. Until then, be on the look out for a few random posts as well as a few holiday-related ones. I promise I'll try to be a little more on top of the blog from here on out! :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Next Chapter:)

Before I jump in with this entry, I just feel the need to inform you that I've been wanting to write about this topic for a lonnnnng time. However, because it's a bit sensitive, I had to wait awhile to let you in on the major happenings of my life. That being said, now you get to know, and here it is: I GOT A NEW JOB!!! :) Yes, most of you probably know this already, but I thought I'd let you in on the details since I haven't shared anything up to this point!

First of all, in case you're wondering, the reason I started looking for a new position in the first place is primarily because of financial concerns. I love my job at MIAD, and I knew when I started that money would be tight, but unfortunately, I vastly underestimated how much of a struggle it would be. The sting of that has become very apparent, especially as of late. I had a lot of mixed emotions when I first started applying for new jobs, but I received a lot of support from former colleagues and friends, so that made it a little easier. It's a difficult spot to be in, and I did a lot of thinking about when I wanted to clue Duane (my boss) in on my search. I made the decision to wait until I got an interview because I didn't see the point in informing him before any of the applications amounted to anything. Coincidentally, I got invited for two interviews on the same day, one at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC), and one at UW-Milwaukee (UW-M). I'll spare you the major details on WCTC, but after two interviews at with them, they decided to go with the other candidate. They were nice enough to call me and let me know that they were very impressed with me and that they hoped I'd apply when they have another opening in the next few months. Nice of them, but also frustrating because that doesn't help me NOW, you know? Anyway, here's the deal with UW-M...

I first applied for the position wayyyyy back at the end of July, and after I applied, it took a month for them to bring me in for an interview. Are ya kidding me?! My first interview was September 1, and at that time, they said they hoped to bring someone in by October 1. I didn't hear anything for almost all of September, so I kinda figured I just didn't get it. Thankfully, I got a call a few days before October 1 and they said they wanted to bring me in for a second interview. Yay! Backing up a second, when they posted the position, they listed it as Advisor/Senior Advisor, and you applied to whichever one based on your experience level. Obviously I applied for the Advisor level. What took so long between interviews was that they ended up promoting an internal person to the Senior Advisor level. Fortunately, that allowed them to still bring someone in at the Advisor level, hence the second interview. I had that on September 30, and in the interview, I met with the Dean of the School of Business, the Associate Dean, and the HR Manager (all separately). Talk about intense! I was pretty nervous, and they asked some rather "tough" questions, but I thought I handled myself pretty well. They were a little more forthcoming this time around and told me straight up that it'd take pretty much all of October for them to notify the candidates about the position. They weren't lying. A few weeks after the second interview, I got a call from Greg (my soon-to-be boss), and he just wanted to let me know that I was still in the running, one of two candidates left. So exciting! the same time, my odds of getting it were just as good as not getting it... Welp, totally true, because the Thursday before Thanksgiving (10/27), I got a call from Greg and he informed me that I didn't get the position. :( He was kind enough to say how incredibly impressed they were with me as a candidate and that they hoped I'd apply when they had another opening in the next year or two. So, basically same story as WCTC. Ugh! Anyway, he said he didn't know if I'd want to know or if it'd help, but them going with the other candidate was basically for two reasons. First, the other candidate has a business degree, and the position is in Career Services in the School of Business. Makes sense, I guess. Second, he or she was coming from Marquette, and since Marquette's a lot more similar to UW-M than MIAD is, they leaned in that direction. Two valid reasons, and two things I obviously couldn't control. So frustrating, but I appreciated him letting me know because that's pretty rare for someone to do that. I'll admit, I was really disappointed. I even cried, which marks the first time I cried about not getting a position. I just wanted it really bad and thought I'd be really good there. I sucked it up, thanked him, and tried to stay positive, even though it meant being back to square one. Interestingly enough, the following Friday (11/4), I got a call from Greg again, and long story short, he told me they still wanted to bring me onto their staff! Needless to say, I was kind of speechless. Obviously I was very excited, but I was also thinking, "What the hell?!" I didn't want to bluntly ask if the other candidate backed out or what happened, so sadly, I still don't really know the answer to that. Having had some time to think about it, however, I've decided that I don't really care what happened because I still got the job! And really, being "second" choice doesn't really bother me considering the reasons they gave for initially going with the other candidate made complete sense. So, after all of this, something finally worked out in my favor, even if it was four months after the initial application!

Here are the details. My last day at MIAD is already this Tuesday, 11/22. Wait, are you kidding me?! From the time I accepted the position to the time I'm done at MIAD is exactly two weeks. Talk about taking the two-week notice literally! As if that's not scary enough, I will be starting as the new Career Advisor in the Lubar School of Business at UW-Milwaukee on Monday, 11/28 already. So, I'll finish at MIAD, go home for Thanksgiving, and then come back to start the new job immediately. While I'm excited, I do wish I had a little more time in between, or at least that I wasn't traveling during my "off" time, but such is life. In case you're wondering, here's how this alleviates some of my concerns. First of all, this position will pay me $10,000 more per year than what I make now. Say what?! In addition to that, I start with 22 vacation days per year (in addition to holidays). Considering I only get FIVE per year at MIAD for the first two years, I think you could see why that makes a huge difference. So, not only will I have vacation days to use, but I'll also potentially have the money to go somewhere! :) I've been wanting this desperately for a long time! I'll admit, it was incredibly hard to make the decision to leave MIAD, primarily because I just love Duane to death. However, when I think about my future and what's best for me in the long run, I know this is the right decision for me. I'm incredibly nervous, but also very excited, and I just can't wait to get established and on my feet. I can pay my parents back the money they've spotted me recently, and hey, here's a novel idea, I might actually even be able to save some money too! Wasn't sure that'd ever be possible! I'm just so happy that things seem to finally be looking up for me! Anyway, this is incredibly long, and if you've made it to the end, thank you for being such a faithful reader. ;) Stay tuned for updates as this new chapter in my life unfolds!

P.S. I just announced this on Facebook on Friday (which marked my one year at MIAD, as well as my first "official" announcement of the new job), and a whopping 29 friends "liked" my status! I know that's a weird thing to comment on, but I was just happy to see that many people who are excited for me and wishing me the best. :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mozzarella Sticks!

I'm not really sure when the transition occurred, but lately it seems as if my blog has become more of a food blog than anything else, ha! I've just been doing a lot of experimenting lately, and because I'm often still amazed at my success, I like to share it with all of you. I hope you don't mind! :) My most recent cooking attempt involved yet another recipe I found on Pinterest. I'm tellin' ya folks, if you're looking for ideas, you must check out the site. I just love it! Anyway, this weekend's experiment was homemade mozzarella sticks. Interestingly, I'm not even HUGE fan of them... I mean, I like them, and I'll definitely eat them, but they're not on my list of favorite foods or anything like that. That being said, I thought the recipe sounded both easy and delicious, so I figured it was worth a shot. It was my first ever attempt at frying something in really hot oil, and fortunately I had no freak accidents (minus the minor flame that burst up when I accidentally dripped a little oil on the hot stove, oops)! I was worried about burning the "crust" of the mozzarella sticks before the cheese melted, but I actually did pretty well. I will say, for next time, I'll probably do a slightly lower heat so the cheese melts a little more, but overall, I thought my first attempt was pretty solid! They were nice and crunchy (but not too crunchy) and delicious. I'm awesome. Just sayin'. ;) I only made a few, and that was both because I was afraid I'd mess it up, and also because even if I didn't screw up, I know I can't eat that much... Smart move, it was just enough! Anyway, I only took a few photos, but check 'em out below. And if you want more pictures of the process itself, be sure to check out the original recipe here!

All the ingredients!
Coat the cheese in the panko crumb mixture. After the cheese is coated in the mixture, you freeze 'em for 20-30 minutes to keep it all together once you fry them.

Fry 'em up and you end up with this final product! Look pretty yummy, don't they?! Well, despite the poor quality photo. ;)

  • 16 pieces string cheese, unwrapped and cut in half to make 32 pieces (I obviously made way less.)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Marinara sauce for dipping (optional)

  • Place flour in small bowl.
  • In separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk.
  • In another separate bowl, combine panko bread crumbs and dried parsley flakes.
  • To assemble, one by one, roll cheese stick in flour, then dunk in the egg/milk mixture, then place in panko bread crumbs. Use your hands to sweet crumbs all over the cheese. Gently remove and place on a plate or cookie sheet. Repeat until all sticks are coated.
  • Place tray in freezer for 20-30 minutes to flash freeze.
  • Heat 1 and 1/2 inches of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add mozzarella sticks 8 at a time. Watch closely and turn over to evenly brown, cooking less than 2 minutes. Do not allow cheese to bubble and leak. (This is a bit of a science, so it's better to have lower heat than heat that's too high; otherwise the cheese will melt out before they're ready.)
  • Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and serve with warm marinara sauce. (I tried mine with ranch dressing, and that was actually quite tasty!)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Halloween - Warrior Style

Most of you who read my blog have probably already seen my pictures from Halloween via Facebook, but I still wanted to do a post about the weekend because it was such a good time! I'll admit, I've never been that much of a Halloween person. Even as a kid, we didn't get that into it. During college, I went through the motions because everyone else was doing it (okay, peer pressure), but I never got that creative with my costumes or even that excited about it. That all changed this year. After spending lots of time with L over the past year or so, I've learned a lot about his love for Halloween and for the craziness that is their annual Halloween bash. Each year, their core group chooses a theme, and they all spend the year leading up to it creating and preparing their costumes. Somehow, L and I got on the subject of it a few months back, and I was very intrigued. This year's theme? 80's icons. Not just, "dress up like you're from the 80's." We're talking full on characters and/or people who were iconic for one reason or another during that decade. I must admit, I kind of invited myself to the party (ha!), and from that point on, I was bound and determined to find a costume that'd be worthy. One of the first ideas I came up with was American Gladiators. I remember loving that show as a kid, and I thought the costume could potentially be pretty easy. After some investigating, I became a little less excited about it because I wanted my costume to be spot on and I was struggling to find the right pieces to make it work. As I did some more searching, out of nowhere, I thought to myself, "I should be the Ultimate Warrior." In case you don't know, he's a wrestler from the 80's, and he's incredibly iconic in that if you know anything about wrestling, you know him. I thought the idea might be weird (I'm a chick and I'm weak - aka: the exact opposite of him), so I didn't really tell anybody about it. Then one weekend, L was visiting, and we started talking about Halloween. Without any prompting, he goes, "Dude, you should be the Ultimate Warrior." I was like, "SHUT UP!!!!" The fact that he said that, and I'd already been thinking it, was clear proof to me that it was the costume I needed. While it looks like a seemingly simple costume, there were a lot of small elements that needed to come together to make it work. I spent a little more on it than I wanted to, but after putting it all together, it couldn't have been more perfect. Seriously. Loved it, and I was a huge hit. :)

Now, for the actual weekend itself. L's buddies from his hometown usually always make it for the festivities, and there are several other people involved too. I had to work until mid-Friday afternoon, so by the time I got to LAX, several of them were already there. I met them at Bodega, and we all just ate and had some drinks. Very good time. After that, some of the people wanted to get dressed up and head to Houghton's, one of their favorite hangouts. While I didn't have a costume for that night, it was still quite an enjoyable time. Saturday turned into quite the adventure as well. We met a few people for breakfast, and then a bunch of the main crew decided to hit up Bodega during the day. Obviously, no one else was in there at the time, so we kind of owned the bar. It was awesome. Drinks, food, trivia, etc. We all had a blast until we finally had to tear ourselves away and get ready for the big party! See all the photos below to understand how jam packed and awesome the weekend was!


Me and some of the boys at Bodega on Friday night!
(Damico, L, me, and Eric)

Love this shot! The boys with their "Crispin Glover" drinks.
(Long story...but they look so happy!)

L and Damico at Houghtons on Friday night
(Anakaris and Megaman)

Sumo wrestler and American Gladiator!

I'm out of place with no costume, but still a good picture. :)

Superman carrying Sumo wrestler!

I laugh every time!!

Megaman getting a little crazy! Love this one for some reason!


Some of the boys. No fear, Eric doesn't always have that creepy mustache. It's part of his Saturday night costume. :)

Just hangin' out!

While this first picture from Saturday night is a bit out of order, I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison of the actual Ultimate Warrior and myself. You've gotta admit, I did a pretty stellar job with my costume. (Credit L for painting my face.) As I mentioned, I was a huge hit. I'm not usually one to brag, but I was really happy with my costume. Thank God the weather cooperated, or I would've frozen to death. Good times!! ;)

Real Ultimate Warrior vs. Me

Part of our crew walking to the Eagle's Nest!
(They rent out a room at the Eagle's Nest, have a half barrel, all that jazz. I'm not lying when I say this party is a bit of a big deal;).

Love this one! :)

Storm Shadow (L) and Cobra Commander (Damico) - G.I. Joe
(Not sure why, but I love this picture!)

Random group of us!
(LtoR: Ultimate Warrior; Dee Snider from Twisted Sister; Man at Arms from He-Man; He-Man himself; and Strawberry Shortcake)

Dee Snider and Warrior:)

Neenah boys!
(LtoR: Storm Shadow, Magnum P.I., and Mork from Mork & Mindy)

Storm Shadow and Warrior. In love with this pic!

Peg and Al Bundy (Married...With Children!)

Maverick and Goose (Top Gun)

Warrior and Jem (Jem and the Holograms)

Marty McFly (Back to the Future) and Warrior

He-Man vs. Storm Shadow

Warrior and Punky Brewster

Bench pressing Al Bundy. ;)

I don't recall this picture, but I'm eyeing up Biff Tannen (Back to the Future) like I'm about to take his ass out. Cracks me up every time!

Well... Doesn't get much more random than that!

Slim Goodbody (our bartender for most of the day at Bodega) decided to pick me up. A good sign that the end of the night was near. ;)

While I didn't take any pictures on Sunday, we completed the weekend by all going out for Chinese on Sunday and talking about themes for next year's party (that's their tradition). Yes, no joke. This is serious business! The theme that won out? Board games. You can be a character from a game or create a costume that resembles a particular game. As you can imagine, this theme allows for some serious interpretation and creativity. I have no idea if I'll be there next year, but I will say, I do have a few ideas brewing in my head... :) Yep, overall, a fantastic weekend, and I got to stay until Monday, even better! Now I get the hype behind this weekend for them. Hope you all had a great Halloween!

Friday, November 11, 2011


Okay, so this post has no real significance (I intend to have a couple good ones this weekend), but I just wanted to acknowledge the fact that it's 11/11/11. No idea why, but this excites me beyond belief! Just think about it. The next time this will happen again is November 11, 2111. In other words, we won't even be alive to witness it! Am I the only one who thinks that's insane?! Yes, next year we'll have 12/12/12, but it's not quite as cool because not all the numbers are the same. ;) Anyway, I know a few people who get just as excited as I do about this, so that's my proof that this is kind of a big deal... Ha! Well, that's about all I've got. Just wanted to publicly make my excitement known. Yes, I'm easily amused. :)

P.S. A shout-out to all the veterans since it is indeed Veteran's Day!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Holiday Bacon Appetizers

No surprise here, but I found another recipe on Pinterest that caught my attention today. Most of the recipes I've acquired on there up to this point have been for actual meals, but today I stumbled across an appetizer recipe that definitely intrigued me. They're called Holiday Bacon Appetizers. Not sure why they're designated only for the holidays because they sound awesome any time;), but either way, here's the deal: There are only three ingredients, and those three ingredients are 1) Club Crackers; 2) Grated Parmesan Cheese; and 3) Bacon. Say what?!?! How does that NOT appeal to you, even without knowing what it is?! Well, because I have a free weekend, and because I also just so happen to have those three ingredients on hand, I am giving it a shot! I have included a few of the recipe photos below, all courtesy of the Pioneer Woman's website. As you'll see, you basically just sprinkle the crackers with the grated cheese and then wrap them in bacon and bake them. Easy peasy! (Well, minus the fact that it takes TWO HOURS to cook them!) Anyway, mine are currently baking, and I've got about 30 minutes to go before I can give you the official verdict.... Here's hoping they're as awesome as my kitchen smells! :)

Oh, and a few quick other things. First, I found that a half slice of bacon didn't quite cover the cracker completely like she suggested, so I ended up using a whole slice for each cracker. Yikes. So nutritious! ;) Second, I don't have a baking rack, so mine are just on the baking sheet itself. We'll see if that makes a difference! And third, I am not baking nearly as many as she talks about in her entry. I went with a solid 8 of them, just to give it a shot! Stay tuned for my ruling. I'll put an "UPDATE" section at the end of this entry once I try them! :)

Of course I used Smith Bros. Meats bacon for this recipe. :)

Sprinkle the crackers with the Parmesan cheese...

Wrap the crackers in bacon...

Put 'em in the oven for 2 hours (yikes!) at 250 degrees...


As I mentioned, I was going to pop back in and let you know how these little heavenly delights turned out. Sure enough, they were pretty much as phenomenal as one would expect! Yeah, I am awesome! ;) I ended up taking them out a little before the 2 hours was up because they were getting a little crispy, but thankfully, not having a baking rack did nothing harmful to these little guys. A perfect amount of crisp and crunch, and the flavor was f'in delicious. I will say, an entire piece of bacon for one cracker was a bit overpowering (I might retry half pieces in the future), but I love bacon, so it wasn't too big of a deal. :) I didn't eat all 8 of them, but according to the instructions, you can freeze them and reheat them if you make them ahead of time or don't use them all. So, that's what I did... Perfect! Perhaps a little snack for later tonight!

As you can see, my photography and presentation skills are nowhere near that of the Pioneer Woman, but I still took the photo so I could prove that I actually did this and that they turned out well! :)