Sunday, April 28, 2013

Recent Creations!

Hi all. Hope you're having a nice weekend an enjoying the weather. I ran a few errands yesterday and got some fun items for my impending trip to Florida in about a month. (Have I mentioned I'm going to Florida?? If not, I am!! And I couldn't be more excited! L and I will embark on a 7-day journey to the great sunshine state and completely enjoy ourselves. Be jealous;). Anyway, today is a day where I need to be spending hours grading final projects for work. Today is also the day where I'm trying anything and everything to get out of that. Too bad my apartment is already clean and I had the chance to make Zuppa last night so that I'd have lunch ready today... If it weren't for those things, I'd have an excuse to do something else. Ha! That being said, I'm still finding ways to do things other than grading. I showered, I'm surfiing Pinterest, I've played Candy Crush on my phone (SO addicting), and now here I am blogging. Eventually I can't fight it any longer, but before I go onto that boring task, I figured I'd show you some of my recent envelope creations. How fun!! I apologize for those of you will see these and then potentially receive them (and thereby be not as surprised by how cool they are;), but I am excited about the combos I've been doing, and I figured I'd give you a sneak peak so you can see what I've been up to lately! Hope you enjoy them. Anyway, have any faves? I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours;).


All the creations thus far. :))

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Warm & Fuzzies

Those of you who are connected with me on Facebook have probably seen a lot of the stuff I'm about to share already, but I just wanted to take a little time to reflect on why I do what I do for a living. If you asked me on any given day how my job is going, I'd probably give you some 'eh' sort of answer, or complain incessantly about things that frustrate me. Even now, as I grade what feels like the millionth final project (when in reality it's only like the 20th and I still have like 65 more to go), I feel like I could just walk away sometimes. I can't sugarcoat it, you know? But then I snap myself back to reality, and I remind myself that it's really not THAT bad, and that I am very lucky to have a job doing what I went to school for. Not to mention, I make a lot more than than I used to make at MIAD, and I even just got a raise (shhh, don't tell anyone as it's not an across the board raise). Sadly, my raise was justified because they compared my pay with others in comparable positions and determined that I was getting underpaid, but regardless, I got an increase, and I'm living comfortably and making progress towards some of my financial goals. Huge! For that, I am truly thankful. And beyond that, there are moments and days were I can sit there and be like, "Wow, I really DO love my job." Those moments are always as a result of the students I work with on a regular basis. Over the past couple months, I have been very fortunate to receive a lot of nice things from students, everything from sweet comments to thank you notes to actual gifts, all as tokens of appreciation for what I do for them. You may recall a long, long time ago that I mentioned having a "Warm and Fuzzies" folder in my inbox to record nice notes from students in it, and that I look at that folder on days that are particularly tough. Fortunately, I've been able to add to it a lot lately, and I thought I'd share some of that fun stuff with you now:

"Renee did an excellent job! I enjoy coming into her office. I feel like whenever I need help, I can count on Renee. She genuinely cares about helping her students, and does an awesome job pointing them in the right direction. I appreciate all of her help!"

"Thank you so much for guiding me along the way. I am so lucky to have a career advisor like you! I am super excited to start my internship and will definitely keep you posted about my experience there. Thank you Renee for everything!"

(A thank you note.) "Ms. Smith, Thank you for all the career and school advice you give! Your help with and internships was a great help and has given me a great opportunity! I really appreciate your help! Thank you for all that you do! Have a wonderful rest of your week and semester!!"

Below are a couple pictures of some of the nice things I've received. Thank you notes, tea (when I was sick), and a hand-stitched picture from a student's home country. Come on now, folks. How lucky am I?!
Thank you cards!
Hand-stitched picture. How cool!

Anyway, I know it's kind of hard to relate to some of this stuff because it's a job that most people don't understand, but the point I'm trying to make is simple. I love helping students. I love that I can help guide them through the entire job search process. And I love that they enjoy coming to see me and that they find value in what I do. It sure is a nice reminder of why I got into this field in the first place. I hope you are all as lucky in whatever you do to feel so loved and appreciated, even when everything else might seem a little tough. I must send out a true thank you to all the wonderful students that cross my path. Wouldn't make it through the day without them! :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Happiest of Birthdays!

So... I'm a little behind, but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the birthdays of two very special people in my life: my nephews Nash and Peyton. Last Wednesday, Nash turned 4 years old (holy crap), and Peyton turned 13 on Friday (an even bigger holy crap;). I can't believe how big they're growing and what wonderful kids they are. I always look at Peyton and think to myself, "I can't believe he's still as good and as loving as he is, and I hope he stays that way forever." It's unreal to me. And if "I" am thinking that, I can only imagine what my brother and sister-in-law think as they watch all those kiddos grow up. ;)

Anyway, I think birthdays and milestones and family dinners are the things I dislike most about being away from home. Sure, it's only 3.5 hours away, but it's not like I can just drive home on a weeknight to hang out or see the kids when I want. Speaking of which, because of that very fact, I will have to miss the celebration of my nephew Homer's FIRST birthday next month. Dang him for having a first birthday in the middle of the week. ;) It's tough, I'll admit. As my brothers and their families keep growing, it seems like I get to know the youngest kids less and less because I don't get home like I used to. Some of the older kids got to see me all the time because I wasn't out of town yet, but I hate fearing whether or not they'll know me or even care if/when I come around. (Alright, this post wasn't meant to get all sad, I swear. Ha!). Either way, all I know is that I am so dang grateful when they show me the excitement and love they do every time I go home. Makes me melt. :) I am one lucky aunt, and with that, I leave you with a big happy birthday to Nash and P!
 Me and Nash on Christmas 2012!
 This pic of me an P is a few years old, but I love it. :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Homemade Broccoli Cheese Soup!

Welcome to my newly redesigned blog, folks! I know I don't have a million readers (or even 50;), but for those who have been following me, I'm sure the drastically different blog design was a bit of a surprise! I hope you like all the new additions and changes, and feel free to give me some suggestions. :) It was nice to finally have some time to sit down and work on it because I've been wanting to do it forever!

Anyway, onto the real point of this post... Planning out meals and cooking on the weekends has become relatively rare for me these days because I'm always traveling to Madison to see L. So, imagine my delight to actually be able to think ahead about what I would cook this weekend since I am actually in Milwaukee with no plans for once. In preparation for the weekend, I searched like a mad woman for recipes on Pinterest, and I was lucky enough to stumble upon a heavenly homemade broccoli cheese soup recipe from Jenn over at Peas and Crayons. While I was a little nervous about making a homemade soup (the last time I made something that involved a roux, I didn't fare too well), I felt really confident because she laid it out perfectly. Since Jenn is creating a cookbook, I can't share the written recipe on my blog, but I strongly encourage you to go here for all the specifics! You won't be sorry. Not to mention, her pictures look far better than mine. I'm not a food photographer in the slightest, unless you consider iPhone photos to be professional photography. ;) As you know, I often make variations to the recipes I find, but I followed this one almost exactly (with the exception of using shredded carrots because I'm not a fan of carrots). It turned out SO well. I still can't believe how awesome it is! :) For reference, if you make this, I personally felt it was a teeny bit garlic-y and/or salty, so I will modify that slightly next time. Jenn even mentioned that depending on the type of stock you use, extra salt may not be necessary, but because I love salt, I thought I'd be okay, ha! Anyway, besides that, I legitimately couldn't be happier with the recipe and have been chowing down on it all day. Check out a few of my photos below. Hope you enjoy it if you make it!

 Look at all those yummy ingredients!
I don't think you can tell, but the broccoli is all tiny and adorable here, so I had to take a pic! ;)
 I don't think I've ever had Gouda, or ever grated my own cheese. That will now change. How yummy!!
 Let's get this process rolling! (Veggies and some stock)
 Meanwhile... In another pan...
Whisk, baby, whisk!! ;) This roux was FAR more successful than my other one!
 Starting to put it all together...
 Starting to look more like soup!
 Add in all the delicious seasonings...
 And the cheese!!!! (Does this look like heaven or what?!?)
 Hey look! It actually melted just fine.
 Just look at that creamy goodness....
Tada!! What good is a great meal without a nice glass of wine? ;)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Feelin' The Love.

These days, I seem to just kind of caught up in all the day-to-day things, especially the things that weigh heavily on me. Work is tough at times, my computer just kinda died on me last week (fortunately, I did some major research and was able to get my stuff backed up and restore it to its original settings to make it work again), and I miss my family and L pretty much all.the.time. You know, just lots of stuff that can make a person feel a little down here and there. That prompted me to think about my 'happy place,' and as you might imagine, L is where it's at for me. <3 Just today, I was kind of in awe when I thought about how long we've been in each other's lives in a 'romantic' capacity, however you define that. In a couple weeks, it will be 2 years by my calculations! Mind you, we were a bit on different pages in the initial stages of our time together; however, it's been quite some time since we've become 'that person' for each other, and I thank my lucky stars every damn day that he's in my life. I honestly don't know what I would do without him. Good to find that kind of happiness. :)) Not that you care, but this just made me want to take a little trip down memory lane, so bear with me (and gag if you must) as I share a bunch of pictures of us from the very beginning to now! So lucky to have all these pics after a near fatal computer crash, ha. You may think this is a lot of photos, but I cut WAY back for the sake of not boring you to death, ha! Anyway, be thankful today, folks! :)
Hardly knew each other here... This was on his birthday in 2009 and I ran into him downtown.
Busting a move at a bar after a conference in late 2009. First night we kissed. ;)
While we weren't together, we often look at this one (above) and talk about the obvious chemistry between us:)
He invited me to a museum event in MKE with some friends. Fun times! (Secret: This is the first night where I really allowed myself to admit, "Hey... I realllllllly like this guy.")
Sexy. ;) One of my first visits to LAX after we started really hanging out.
Go Brewers! (I went to a game that day, but he had to go back to LAX.)
Me and L in the Cave of the Mounds when we went on our Mt. Horeb trip! He looks scared. ;)
Enjoying the balcony at the winery in Mt. Horeb all by ourselves!
 Also in Mt. Horeb. A little sun broke through on a cold, rainy day at Firehouse Bar!
 Cooking crab in MKE!
Halloween 2011 (above and below)
Storm Shadow and Ultimate Warrior
Rotary Lights in LAX - 2011
L's first visit to Colby!!
Fun times in LAX (above and below)!
 Goofing around on our trip to Portage!
Beach stroll in MKE.
Hanging on my balcony!
Colby for Open House weekend 2012. I look gross in this pic, but I couldn't help but include it because I giggle every time I look at L sneakin' a peak. ;)
Picture with the big ice cream cone at Hawkeye!
Barnacle Buds in MKE!
Bodega in LAX!
Me and L at the Milwaukee Zoo!
In Rochester for my old roommate's wedding (above and below)!
Just relaxing in my apartment!
2012 Mississippi River houseboat trip (above and below)!
 Sushi in MKE!
 Pre-Halloween festivities in LAX!
Monopoly Man and Mrs. White from Clue!
Together at mom and dad's in Colby. Love this one!! :)
Merry Christmas 2012 (above and below)!

Chillin' at L's place a few days after Christmas!
Fancy'd up a bit on my 27th birthday (New Year's Eve 2012)!
And I will leave you with a dorky picture of us at Krispy Kreme two weekends ago. Since L moved to Madison, we've spent far too much time at this place. I'm lucky he's a good sport and puts up with me when I suggest pictures like this. ;)

Thanks for humoring me, folks! (Also, a huge HAPPY 4th birthday to my nephew Nash! I will do my best to get a birthday post up soon to celebrate his and my nephew Peyton's April birthdays!)