Monday, December 31, 2007

My Holiday Blues


Another sunny, blue sky filled Christmas. I spent a full week in southern California catching up with family, seeing my sister's new apartment and my cousin's new apartment, baking cookies, attending several parties, going to The Getty museum, hiking in the Laguna Beach area, visiting the ocean, eating, drinking, talking, laughing, crying. Ya know, all the usual things that we try to cram into one visit every year. I think it's safe to say, we're all exhausted but glad to have had some time together. (Ben, we missed you!)

Sadly, I returned to KC tired and sick. It looks like my New Year's celebration will be quite chill, or downright boring. This holiday has never proved to be anything like those depicted in the movies. Someday, I will find myself dancing the night away at a fabulous party, in a spectacular dress, with champagne in one hand and a beautiful man on my arm. Until then, I'll be on my couch, in pjs, cough medicine in one hand and alone. Forgive, the melodrama...I'm sick on New Year's, people. Give me a break.

Here's hoping you're having a more exciting and romantic evening. Happy New Year, everyone.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Peace To You

Until Monday, I was enjoying a perfectly calm holiday season. Sure I have to travel for the holidays which can be stressful for some but I happen to really like airports and my lovely family decided to pick names this year which meant I had very little shopping to do. While I am not a fan of shopping, I do love to give gifts so it was hard not to break the rules. We also put a modest limit on the amount of money we were to spend on each gift, also difficult but it turned out to be a fun challenge. I added another challenge by pledging to only give handmade items this year, either made by me or someone else. There are lots of great things out there made by very talented people so the only problem was choosing which one to go with. In the end, I'm very pleased with my choice and I hope "my person" is too!

As I mentioned above, I was doing so well until Monday. Work got a little (or a LOT) crazy in ways I wasn't expecting and it was a little (or a LOT) out of hand. I was lamenting the absence of peace in those few days (which felt like an eternity,) hoping 13 hour work days wouldn't last much longer, wondering how I was going to make progress on the personal to-do list (which was short but there was no extra time in sight,) when I was finding myself exhausted at the end of each work day. I do not like holiday stress- stress because of the holidays or during the holidays. Everyone around me is stressed out so I do the best I can to avoid that same lifestyle and for the most part I am successful. Hence, my frustration when life seemed to explode on Monday. Well, the work has slowed down and peace is returning to my quiet little life, for which I am grateful. I still have a few things to take care of before flying out tomorrow but nothing to lose my head over. I feel like myself again.

As you may be approaching your holidays and calendars filled with events and extended family, may you also have peace. May you find moments to simply breathe, observe the beauty around you, feel the love you have for your family and friends, and say a prayer for the world.

Wishing you peace this holiday season.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Perhaps The Perfect Weekend

I'm sure there are many definitions of "the perfect weekend" but allow me to describe one. And it just so happens that this particular description comes from my own experience and it starts on Thursday.

Double Booked Thursday

Let me begin by saying, this is highly unusual for me. After work, I met my friend, Rania, for an early dinner. We had both skipped lunch and were starving at 5:00 so we met on The Country Club Plaza since it was the central location. However, we did not consider the possibility that all of Kansas City would be there shopping their little hearts out, therefore, making the usual convenient parking experience, a complete nightmare. So, we opted to leave the shopping haven for a simple dinner at the one and only, Planet Sub. I hadn't been there in a while so it was fun and we chatted about life, jobs, family, cultures, traveling, NYC, etc.

We parted and I took The Max home, changed clothes, walked to the downtown transit center, and took the 57 to the fabulous, JP Wine Bar where I was meeting my friend, Kelly. Every couple months, we meet there to catch up over wine and cheese flights. It's divine. We talked about life, family, charity, values, the holidays, international travel, friends, etc. In this conversation, we discovered that we both had a favorite sweet spot that the other had never been to so we decided that we would meet on Saturday to introduce each other to these tasty treats. What a fun thing to look forward to!

Freedom Friday

Financial freedom, that is. December 14, 2007, will go down in history as one of my favorite days ever. Most of us have debt of some kind, and while it may be good debt, it can still feel like imprisonment. I've been excitedly nearing the end of one such sentence but I wasn't exactly sure when I'd be paroled. On Friday, I looked at my bank account that included a recent payroll deposit and I realized my freedom day had arrived. Barely able to contain my joy, I gave myself the most fantastic early Christmas present I could imagine and submitted my final student loan payment! I am no longer owned by Houghton College! God bless us, everyone.

Sensual Saturday

I had a hard time falling asleep the previous night, perhaps too excited over Freedom Friday, so I slept in on Saturday morning. At noon, Kelly picked me up and we began our afternoon tour of some new and old favorite KC spots. Our first stop was my opportunity to introduce Kelly to the lovely and delicious, Baby Cakes, which I experienced for the first time this summer. After perusing the delightful shop and talking with one of their employees, Kelly chose the traditional vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting to be enjoyed later.

Since we knew we would be indulging in quite the sugar-filled afternoon, we thought it best to stop for lunch so we didn't end up sick! We settled on the new Pizza Bella on Baltimore and 18th, in the Crossroads District. We had both been wanting to check it out and this was the perfect oportunity. It comes as no surprise to most, that I'm often sceptical about pizza in KC since it's so different from the pizza I grew up with in WNY. However, as long as I order something in the gourmet realm, I won't be disappointed. Pizza Bella offers wood fired pizza and I ordered the Biancoverde (fresh mozzarella, ricotta, pecorino romano, & arugula)- perfectly satisfying. Plus, the restaurant itself has been beautifully designed to include interesting textures, clean lines, fun red chairs, an argyle wallpapered wall across from the restrooms, and large windows that allowed us to watch the falling snow.

We put our To Go boxes in the car and decided to visit the snow-covered shops that are on the same block. Did you know that you can buy local and handmade underwear? I often try to buy local and handmade products and food whenever I can but it never occured to me that it would be possible to do this with underwear! This was one of the many things I learned while talking with the very sweet, enthusiastic and bored (due to the lack of customers on this snowy day) employee of Birdies. I highly recommend a visit. We continued down the block talking with shop owners and clothing designers happy to have a distraction from the quietness of their afternoons. Some sold clothing made from recycled fabrics, others offered local art, handmade soaps and lotions, high end silk gowns and quirky things like bright yellow and orange horizontally striped unitards! Talk about an eclectic shopping experience.

Next, it was Kelly's turn to introduce me to her favorite local sweet spot, Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates. All I can say is "Wow!" You truly must visit this magnificent gallery of chocolatey goodness. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. The space is beautiful but the chocolates, oh, the chocolates! They are without a doubt the most exquisite chocolates I've ever seen or tasted. Yes, the website includes pictures but they don't do them justice, they must be viewed in person. We ordered the most intense and rich hot chocolate, which they call "drinking chocolate," ever to have graced our taste buds. Let me warn you, do not order chocolates AND drinking chocolate at Christopher Elbow. It is not possible to consume both. However, you can order the drinking chocolate, sip it slowly while sitting at the window, again watching the snow fall, and take chocolates home to be enjoyed at a later time...a much later time. And just to clarify, the drinking chocolate is delicious! The flavor is deep and dark and the texture is smooth and thick making you savor it slowly, which I'm convinced, is how hot chocolate was meant to be experienced. This was a truly decadent afternoon! Thanks, Kelly!

On my way home, Rania called and we made a plan to hang out. I thoroughly enjoyed the snowy walk home, dropped off my afternoon purchases, picked up my Netflix movie that had thankfully arrived, turned around, headed back to the bus stop, took The Max to Rania's house, catching up on a few phone calls along the way. We watched the independent film, Waitress, which was an excellent recommendation by my friend, Laci, had a fantastic bottle of red wine and delicious chili that Rania made earlier in the day. A perfect way to top off this snowy day of complete indulgence.

Simple Sunday

Outside of volunteering at the Kansas City Reperatory Theater this evening and finishing the large mug of coffee sitting next to me, I have no plans. I not sure I could handle anything else, some recovery time is in order.

So, that is the description of my weekend. While a perfect weekend, I'm glad these are not regular occurrences. I guess their rarity is part of what makes them perfect. Thank you friends, thank you local shop owners, artists, designers, sommeliers, bakers and chefs, thank you KCATA, and thank you Mother Nature. If you made it to the end of this post, you deserve a prize! To adequately relay the events and experience of these four days, fewer words would not do.

May a perfect weekend be in your near future.

Free Music- 24 hours left!

Nettwerk Music Group and the Vancouver Sun are pleased to announce another free digital download album. It's Seriously Westcoast Vol.2 - Happy Holidays. Seasonally themed and features 15 songs from such
artists as Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan, Medieval Baebes, Jars of Clay and many more (like the fabulous Matt Wertz & The Weepies!)

This special digital album will only be available for a limited time staring on Saturday, December 15 at 12:01am for 48 hours only. To download your album go here.

So, tell all your friends to come and download some great holiday music.

Best Wishes and Have a Safe & Happy Holiday Season.

-Everyone at Nettwerk & the Vancouver Sun

TRACKLISTING:
01 - Barenaked Ladies - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
02 - The Weepies - All That I Want
03 - Sarah McLachlan - Silent Night
04 - Matt Wertz What Child Is This
05 - Liily Frost - Skating On The River
06 - Oh Susanna - Go Tell It On The Mountain
07 - Medieval Baebes - The Holly & The Ivy
08 - The Be Good Tanyas - Rudy
09 - Barenaked Ladies - Elf's Lament
10 - Melissa McClelland O - Holy Night-MST
11 - Jars Of Clay - Hibernation Day
12 - Jenny Owen Youngs - Things We Don't Need Anymore
13 - Martha Wainwright - Merry Christmas And Happy New Year
14 - Kyle Andrews - Under The Misteltoe
15 - Leigh Nash - The First Noel
16 - Sarah McLachlan - The First Noel_Mary Mary (DJ Shah Remix)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

3191



This sweet blog is one of my favorite lunch time visits. Two friends living 3191 miles apart take a photograph almost every morning to share with one another, and the world. I know what it's like to try to stay connected with loved ones living far away and this is such a unique and beautiful way to share a bit of their daily experiences with one another. I hope they continue with this practice in 2008.

Much love to you, my friends and family so far away. I miss you and hope you're all enjoying this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The First Ice Storm Of The Season



Just letting you know that all is well, for me at least, in the icy midwest. Thanks to those of you that checked in on me. Things are covered in ice but it wasn't as bad as the meteorologists predicted for our area. Other areas are having a much different experience. Here the roads appear to be well treated, however, local students and teachers are enjoying a snow day, and I'm working from home. I know it's dangerous but it's also GORGEOUS!

Be safe and stay warm, everyone.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I'm Just A Broadway Baby

Anyone that really knows me, knows that I have a deep love for musical theatre. In fact, I would say musical theatre was my first love and the reason that I pursued music in high school and college. In every stage of my life, there has come a time when I returned to that love, whether it was a string of tours passing through town that I'd attend even though I didn't have the money, or the purchase of new soundtracks that I'd play until I couldn't listen to another note, or a book I'd purchase and spend every waking moment reading until it was completed, or the days I would stand at a piano trying to find my voice again. Usually, it's some combination of all those activities. I've never paid attention to the pattern of these phases or moods or OCD moments so I'm not sure how frequently they present or how they vary in length of stay. That might be interesting to know...at least, interesting to me.

As I'm sure you can guess, I'm in one of those phases right now and have been for the last few weeks. I've re-discovered some old CDs, including soundtracks and compilations, I've started singing when I'm alone at the studio or even waiting at a bus stop, I've watched several YouTube videos, Broadway.com videos and movies like Show Business: The Road To Broadway, and my latest find is The Jeff Blumenkrantz Songbook Podcast, where I've spent the majority of this day. I'm not sure if he's planning to add new podcasts but even if he isn't, I've got lots of catching up to do!

Thank you to the world-wide theatre community for adding such beauty and inspiration to my life.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thoughts In Darkness

A warm December walk home from the bus stop capped my work day. It was a gorgeous night and I couldn't help but notice the darkness, which I'm still not used to experiencing in the five o'clock evening hour. The city is beautiful in the dark. The lights downtown are bright enough to make the city seem alive. All imperfections are hidden. People are black silhouettes making us all undeniably equal. Everyone and everything is beautiful in the dark.