Monday, December 20, 2010

The Chuas: Living If

Wedding on the top of Mt Kilimanjaro
Two of my best friends in Minnesota are doing something so incredibly adventurous, something that most people dream about but very few people actually do. They are putting what they need into a backpack and are setting off to travel the world for the next few years!!

They have been talking seriously about it for about two years. They got married with the intention to join the peace corps (you have to be married to be placed together) and last spring they decided it was time to put a plan in place. They evaluated their spending to start saving some serious money, enrolled in, and started researching locations.

I don't remember when they decided that they would be ready to leave by the end of December 2010 but I remember thinking how far away it seemed. Now, it feels as though that just happened and I can't believe they are actually leaving. I am so excited for them! I cannot wait to live vicariously through them, to hear their stories, see their pictures, and know that they are living their "if". I am so proud of them for that and so happy to call them my friends.

My excitement and pride does come with a tinge of jealousy and buckets of sadness. Matt and Erica have been wonderful supportive friends. They are spontaneous, funny, interesting, smart, and they have great taste in food, beer, and friends. They have been living three blocks away from Nick and I for three years now. They are the go-to friends for dinner, happy hour, and really any random event that comes up. They know more about our relationship than most of our friends and we know theirs. If they are able to make it to our wedding, Matt is a groomsman. If they are caught on a mountain somewhere, then we will just have to plan to meet up with them somewhere new and exotic.

They are launching a travel blog. They haven't left the state yet and it is already detailed, captivating, and distracting me from work. You can follow them HERE!

 I'll miss you guys...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pick Me Up: All the Best Charlie

It's something in the name Charlie that equates to beloved characters...
    Sorry Charlie Brown, you didn't make my list.

  • Charlie Kelly. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I would watch anything if I knew this guy was in it. His voice alone makes me crack up. He has the best one liners.

  • Charlie Pace. Lost. He has made me cry more that any tv character. But on a lighter note, I had this stuck in my head for days after the first time I heard it.

  • Charlie and Harry. Type in Charlie on and at almost 260 million views you will find the cutest British kids, how could you not love?!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Boston: I'll Be Home for Christmas

Nick and I bought our tickets for Boston yesterday! We will be there for Christmas and I can not wait to go home. It is going to be longer than many of our trips east but the holiday will keep it busy and still have me struggling to spend the right amount of time with family, visit with friends, and have a vacation.

I love Boston around Christmas! I love downtown, I love the family traditions, I still love waking up at my parents house on Christmas morning.

We are flying out Christmas Eve morning on a direct flight. I'm a little nervous about getting there on time but we have almost seven hours between when we land and when my favorite part of Christmas begins.

My favorite part is the Christmas Eve party. It is in the town where my Mom grew up. All of my family on that side attends all the way down to second and third cousins. My great aunt plays Christmas carols on the piano and somebody dresses like Santa and makes a big show of coming down the stairs ringing bells, sits in an overstuffed chair, and hands out presents to the little kids.

Nick was a great sport and played Santa two years ago. I was his helper. He was such a trooper that after he had taken off the very old suit and packed away, he put it back on when cousins showed up late and asked that he do it again for pictures with their newborn. He did with a smile and it was worth it! See below:
 When I was a child, I knew the Santas in the mall were not the real thing but I always believed that the real Santa showed up at my party just to hand out presents to my cousins and me. I believed that my Grandmother had some kind of friendship with Saint Nick and we were special.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Putting It All Together: Winter Favorites

My wedding shoes!! My friend Alair is always well dressed and so I asked her for recommendations of places to look for wedding shoes. Within five minutes she sent me a picture of my shoes. They are the ones. I just knew it. When she first found them, the price was more than I could allow myself to spend but after another minute of searching, she found them for a much better price. I'm in love.
We also got our Save the Dates and despite my overcritical eye (of my picture) I am very happy with them!

Every one of these little steps brings us that much closer to the picture of what our wedding will look like.

On Saturday I am going bridesmaid dress shopping with my future sister in law and Nick's Dad's girlfriend. We are going back to where I got my dress as that was such a wonderful experience. I'm really looking forward to having that piece of the day come together. On that topic if anyone has a recommendation for a jewelry store or Etsy designer I should look at, please let me know!

Outside of wedding updates... I am getting excited for the holidays. Last weekend we spent a night in Stillwater. It is a small town bordering between Minnesota and Wisconsin. It sits right on the river and is lined with mom and pop shops and bed and breakfasts. It is forty five minutes away and it feels like another world. We bundled up and walked through the shops looking for Christmas presents. Nick being the engineer that he is brought a small note pad with him and made lists of who we are buying for and ideas for presents. I think it's absolutely adorable when he does things like that.

The store where we spent all of our time and by time I mean money are the bookstore and the Olive Oil Company. Best balsamic I have had outside of Italy. Blueberry flavored balsamic, yes please!

Also TimTams are back on the shelves at Target! Go now and stock up. The best is chocolate creme.

                  TimTam Slam Recipe:
1. Take one timtam and take small bites out of either end.
2. Using your favorite hot drink (coffee etc), dip one end of the bitten timtam into the glass and suck like a straw through the other end.
3. When liquid comes through, quickly lift the timtam out of the mug and place in mouth.
4. Enjoy!

Lastly, sometimes I wish I just lived inside an Anthropologie store. I adore so many of their clothes and have been spending way too much time scrolling through their clothes.

Also if you need a pick me up check out this, this, and this.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Krystal, This One Is For You

Last night after dinner with friends I asked my friend Krystal for the link to her sister's blog. She responded by saying that she doesn't have one, well she does, but that she updates it about as much as I do. Awwww snap!

It's true I have not adopted writing here as I did my high school journals. I spread my life over the pages of five notebooks between ninth grade and freshman year of college. They are filled with pages and pages of over dramatized crushes, arguments with friends, and detailed descriptions of seemingly mundane events that were apparently a big deal. It's so funny to read because there is a vague memory of being that person but at the same time, that feels like another life. And just to be clear, I am very okay with that.

My writing has always been for me. Nobody else. The second the thought gets in my head that I'm writing for somebody else, my interest fades. It's not that I don't want to share and for most of my life I have said I wanted to be a writer but the idea is that it has to come from somewhere real and when you start thinking too much about an audience, you change.

I also wonder if Nick is part of the reason I don't write as much. Not Nick so much, but love. So much of my writing had been about the stuff before relationships. In that way I had followed the same formula as a romantic comedy, it ends with the kiss and the insinuation of a happy ending versus seeing the relationship play out. It's funny when you think about that. Realizing you like somebody, that they like you, and the first kiss- that is such a small (incredibly wonderful) but small piece of  a love story. 

And as exciting as the beginnings are,
the best stuff comes later....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Next Part of Our Story: Are You Serious?

I have been waiting to share something with you. I have been waiting for pictures, waiting to have time to sit and craft the perfect entry. But after waiting over two weeks, I have realized that none of that matters and I just want to put it out there. I want to write it because in my life, nothing feels real until it is written down. Maybe sharing it with you will make it less surreal and more fantastically real.

On July 1st while walking home from dinner with friends, Nick asked if there were any summery things I wanted to do over the long weekend. I said that I wanted to go on a picnic. Nick said that I should have asked him for that sooner and that he would be glad to take me on a picnic.

The next evening I came home to find Nick napping. The bed looked too cozy so I climbed in and dozed off. A few hours later, Nick was waking me up. I didn't mean to sleep so long, but it felt nice.

"Are we still going for this picnic?" Nick asked.
"Yes, if you're still up for it."
"Sure. It sounds nice. What lake?"
"Lake of the Isles. It's quieter."
"Can we bike there?"
"Should we bring books to read?"
"If you want."

A few minutes later we were out the door. Nick had a back pack stuffed with a blanket, food that he picked up earlier that day, a bottle of wine, and two books. We rode our bikes around Calhoun, the more populated lake, and went over to Lake of the Isles, the quieter more peaceful lake.

We found a spot in the shade of a giant tree, close to the water, and stretched across the grass and street from a beautiful home having a dinner party on their front porch. We were too far to see faces but every once in a while you could hear laughter.

We set up our blanket and started snacking. The food was so good. Fresh bakery bread, Australian pepper crackers, apricot cheese dip, cherries, and the best grapes I've ever had. We sipped wine and talked about when we first met. This is something I do a lot around this time of year. It is close to our anniversary, to when we first met, first kissed, first arrived in Australia.

After a while of talking about that place, that time, that kiss, he told me he had an early anniversary present for me. He made me close my eyes and put out my hands. When I opened them I was looking down at a blue viewfinder. I lifted it to my eyes and found Australia! Sydney! The Opera House, Manly Beach, and Our park. The gift was so thoughtful, so sweet. The images seemed so close and even though they were from the 70's, the places looked the same.

I was completely enthralled with my little gift. I was staring through it remembering, when I heard Nick say, "I have something else for you too." I moved the viewfinder away and looked down. It was hard to focus on what was in front of me. My brain did not process it. I gazed at him without understanding.

"I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"
I always thought I would cry. Instead I just stared at him with an incredulous smile. "Are you serious?"
"Yes I am."
"Is this real?"
"You still haven't answered me."
"Yes! Yes I will marry you!"

He slipped the ring out of the box and slid it on my finger. I got nervous it wouldn't fit, I was convinced it wouldn't. But it fit. It fit perfectly and it is more than I could have ever imagined.

I have known for a long time that Nick is the man for me. And our lives already emulate a married couple in that we share a home, two dogs, and have been through the battles of finances, groceries, and cleaning duties. I already know his weird quirks and cute habits. And after all of that, we are still very much in love.

I am excited to share this next year of planning and preparation.

Step 1: Weekend trip to Boston to find a venue and pick a date.
(This picture was taken moments after Nick asked my parents for permission at my best friends wedding reception. Sneaky. Photo courtesy of Abbie.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Books: What's on Your Shelf?

As mush as I love to read, summer reading assignments always ended the same way. Locked in my room the day before school started, skimming the pages of the skinniest books on the list. I don't know why it is but when reading is required, it's never as much fun.

After I graduated college I really missed talking about books. In an effort to remedy that situation and make new friends, I joined a book club. It was a massive failure. The only difference between that and summer reading was that it was self inflicted. I quit after only two partially read books.

I love having a list in my head of books I want to read and selecting one when the mood strikes. Right now though I am finding my list dwindling. I need suggestions. Please. Let me know. What are some of your favorites? Classics. Contemporary.

The Bell Jar
Mr. Lincoln's Wars
Water for Elephants
Eat Pray Love
Kite Runner
Secret Life of Bees
The Master Butcher's Singing Club (really anything by Louise Erdrich)
Song of Solomon (Really anything by Toni Morrison)

Last 5 Books:

Yesterday's Weather

The Tipping Point
City of Thieves
The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Four Weddings in Four Weeks: Some of My Favorites Get Married

To recreate this past month:
Mix : 1 part new awesome job
8 parts great friends who are getting married
4 parts different states.
Shake thoroughly and pour over the beginning of your summer.

It's so funny the way time works itself out. Four of my closest friends got married within a four week time period. I feel honored, blessed, lucky (whatever you want to call it) to have been a part of their amazing days and they were amazing!

Every friend who celebrated their wedding in the past month is from a completely different part of my life. Each one so important. Each one so much a part of who I am and I am grateful for what their presence brings to my life.

Wedding #1. May 22nd. Krystal and Eric. Together 5 years.
Two of my closest friends in the Midwest. Krystal and I used to be coworkers and now we enjoy drinking wine, grilling out, and talking about our puppies the way way many talk about their children. She and Eric are a great match and a wonderful balance. Minnesota wouldn't be as nice without them.

Wedding #2. May 29th. Adam and Ellie. Together 9 years.
Adam is my cousin. We are the same age and we have always been close. We used to play inspector gadget, ninja turtles, and as we got older he was my favorite guy to have a beer (or more honestly a hard lemonade) with. We have been through everything together. His wife Ellie is lovely. I love her and I love her for him. I realized at their wedding that Adam's oldest friends are my oldest friends and that's pretty cool.

Wedding #3. May 30th. Tracy and Eric. Together 7 years.
Tracy was my roommate in college. Her I were once dubbed Team Chic at a party after beating a bunch of boys at beer pong. From day one, Tre and I clicked and I knew she'd be a close friend. She and Eric truly have grown up together and it has been so fun to have been witness to their love story. Tre and Eric are part of my core group of college friends so in a selfish way, as well, I love them together!!

Wedding #4. June 12th. Kris and Steve. Together 4 years.
Kris and I met in Australia as you have already read all about that. Kris and Steve are wonderful together. They love each other so much and so well. Kris is a girl that boys fall for and Steve is the right one for her to be with. I got to be with her for days leading up to and after her marriage and it was an absolute blessing to be so involved in her wedding. Another fabulous perk was the reunion of our Australia crew which is a rare event that caused me to cry from happiness. I love these people like family.

As you can see nick and I had some fun together...

Dances, cakes, pies, chocolates, cheers,
Laughter, friends, dresses, shoes, tears,
Champagne, bobbypins, kisses, gifts, and beers
Friends promising love to one another for all the coming years!

Friday, May 21, 2010

LAST DAY: A New Chapter

What are the flowers for you? Well, remember when I said I would have some news for you?...

I have accepted a position as an academic advisor! I am beyond happy to write about this. I have wanted to for quite awhile. Today is my LAST DAY in this job. I don't think it's really settled in. I have daydreamed about this for over a year now. All of the stress and frustration that this job, and more honestly this boss, has caused- is over in a few hours!! I try not to use this blog to complain so I haven't mentioned much about it but seriously, not having this presence in my life anymore can do nothing but wonderful things for me and those around me.

My entire team is in the same place with these feelings and this is why I am the fifth person to depart from this team in a month!! If that doesn't send a message, nothing will.

The flowers - right- are a congratulatory gift from a coworker/friend who deeply understands what leaving this team really means. Deep sigh of relief! To make things better, not only am I excited to leave this job but I am equally excited for the job that is waiting for me. I can not wait to see what the next chapter brings!

OK, I have to run to my last day lunch celebration!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Oprah: Take the Pledge. Save a Life.

Unless you live under a rock you have probably heard of Oprah's "No Phone Zone" campaign. It is bringing awareness to the dangers of driving and texting or talking on the phone. While I don't text, I am guilty of being on the phone in my car. I do see now how dangerous it is so I, along with about 300,000 people, have signed the pledge. I encourage you to do the same by following this link.


Also something pretty great happened today. I will hold off sharing for now but I will tell you as soon as I can. Sorry couldn't help but give a teaser.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Late Night: Sleepless Over Spring

Last night I fell asleep on my couch really early watching baseball. Nick woke me up and I went up stairs and got ready for bed. By the time my head hit the pillow, I was wide awake. So I got back up, cleaned, and slected an episode of Oprah to watch (yes I record it everyday).

The episode was about dream jobs. It was inspiring to hear all of these unique, passionate people share how they got to be what they are. They kept repeating the importance of following your passion. Such good advice and I will be coming back to this highly relevant topic in oh about eight days but for now, let's keep it light.

One of the guests was a guy who creates the most amazing flower creations. It was so beautiful. I am going to share with you some of my personal favorite flower designs that I have found, so that my blog can bloom like the city around me.

PS ssshh but these images came from here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Something to think about: Jeans

Today I was searching the website of one of my favorite clothing stores and I saw that my favorite pair of jeans (that I recently ripped) was marked down from $70 to $20. Heck yeah, I wanted to buy! So I click on them and go to choose my size and screeeeech to a stop when I realize the only size available is a.... 00 Long!! Double.. Zero.. Long.. What? Are there people outside of supermodels that could wear that?? Seriously, are there?

I used to want to open up a store called something like "Customsize". It would sell jeans. The idea is that the customer gets to design the jeans. You pick the color, the fade, the stretch, etc and then, AND THEN, you are measured and the jeans are designed to fit YOU. Amazing right?? I know it would probably be kinda spendy but I know a lot of women (maybe men too) who would pay a little extra if they could get what they really want. And I really want.

Final thought on jeans: Next time you are somewhere crowded: a concert, a restaurant, a bus. Look around and notice all of the people wearing jeans. Have you ever thought that it's kind of weird that everybody walks around wearing blue pants?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Simple Inspiration: Travel

I had so much fun with my travel post yesterday that travel has remained on my mind and in my dreams. So today I will leave you with some of my favorite travel quotes:

"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” –Martin Buber
"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” –St. Augustine
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." -Mark Twain
All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” –Samuel Johnson

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

"Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” -Pat Conroy

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Travel: Where I've Been (Update 12/18/15)

I have a travel wishlist. It is long and always growing as I constantly fall in love with new destinations. Sometimes I catch myself writing the names of cities, towns, and countries that I have been. My brain is trying to catalog my trips, for what I don't know. To save myself time and to have a reference, I will put that list here and maybe then I can add to it as I go somewhere new.

Ok here goes (Places that I have been):

Within the US:
New Hampshire
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island

Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico
Saint John
Saint Martin
Saint Thomas

New Zealand