Saturday, December 17, 2011

Homemade Halloweenie!

So this post is just a few months and two holidays too late....

But I thought it would be fun to share how I made my Halloween costume. Baaaaa, I was a sheep!

WARNING: This costume is a major fire hazard. Between the glue and the cotton, this could be bad news bears. So wear with care.

Extra large white hooded sweatshirt (full zip)
Craft glue - I got the kind specific for fabrics. I ended up needing two and a half bottles!
Cotton balls - LOTS! I used over five bags
Black and white felt (for the ears)
Pipe cleaners (to shape the ears)

I first cut off the arms of the sweatshirt right along the seam.

Then I glued cotton balls on. For a long time. I believe it took me a few hours, while watching the Badger football game. Plus I had to run out for more glue.

Then I cut some triangles out of felt for the ears. I stapled them around some pipe cleaners, to give them some shape. The staples made it look really homemade, but at that point I just wanted to be done.

Finally, it was time to hang it up to dry. If you try this, give it PLENTY of time to dry. I didn't make this until the same day that I wanted to wear it. That is probably how I ended up with glue in my hair. Oh well. still fun.

I just threw it on with a long sleeved black tee, with some leggings. And shorts. Because I don't believe that leggings count as pants.

The best part of the costume was how many laughs that I got. I think my sister laughed for about twenty minutes straight when I first walked in. And a dancing sheep, even more fun! I did shed quite a few cotton balls, which was also pretty funny.

It also was a lot of fun to wear while handing out candy. The kids were so cute!

Homemade holidays are the best.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's Tricky

Today I was thinking about which of the items on the 30B430 list would be the most challenging. Initially I thought it would be the flash mob, but that one seemed to come together. That leaves a few others in the running.

First, there is #6 Run a Half Marathon. That will be physically challenging, especially with the amount of training it requires. I certainly can't put it off until the last minute.

A number of items also involve traveling, including #8 Use my passport, #9 Take a classic American road trip, #16 Visit a state I've never been to before, and #29 Go to Las Vegas. To accomplish each of those, it will involve a minimum of two trips. More likely three, because driving all the way to Las Vegas doesn't sound like the best use of my funds. The challenge with the traveling is fitting that many trips into a year and four months - especially since one requires international travel.

Another challenge that I'm currently staring down is the Man v. Food Challenge (#22). If I interpret that literally, I would have approximately 79 food challenges to choose from. However, only one of them is in Milwaukee. So I either need to eat this or commit to traveling. I'm not opposed to hitting the road (especially since there are a few trips that need to happen anyway. However I could also attempt a MVF-like challenge, and stick to this list of Milwaukee Food Challenges.

As I think about what type of challenge that I'd be willing to attempt, I'm noticing that they seem to fall into a few categories: spicy, lots of dairy, big pizza, lots of meat, lots of burger/sandwich, lots of breakfast, and the occasional lots of taco/burrito/nacho or seafood. Plus most involve speed due to the time element. Spicy is out. Can't do it. Dairy is also out - Food is almost always guaranteed to win that one, especially if it involves a brain freeze from ice cream. A meat challenge (typically a big steak) seems to involve a lot of chewing, and probably the meat sweats. So that narrows down the list quite a bit. I think I should probably start training my stomach. This one may not be great for my goal to get in shape and lose weight...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I PASSED! #13 is complete.

I could not have been more excited to get the call yesterday. I passed my comprehensive exams!

That test was by far one of the hardest that I have ever taken, so join me in a collective sigh (phew!) and a big loud WAHOOOOO!

A big congrats to the other test takers, who also all passed. People often think that the test cannot be that big of a deal if everyone passes. However, each person worked so hard for that test. It was by no means a gimme.

I suppose I'll bask in this joy a little bit longer before returning to all of the work still ahead. Today I feel smart. But all it takes is pulling out the latest version of my dissertation proposal to go back to feeling like a dummy. Yeah...I'll stick with feeling smart for now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hail to the Chief

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend the Inauguration of UWM's eighth Chancellor, Michael R. Lovell.

As I mentioned earlier, there was a week of Inauguration events leading up to the event. While at the Lovell*Palooza Meet and Greet, I was asked by a student, "What is a Chancellor?" Huh. Never had to explain that one before. I stumbled over..."Well, he's the CEO of the university....sort of like the president..." Can you think of a better explanation?

The inauguration was really cool. When you think about the length of time that many university and college presidents and chancellors hold their positions, it really is a unique opportunity to see an inauguration. I don't watch American Idol, but apparently one of the top ten contestants last season, Naima Adedapo, was a UWM student. She sang the National Anthem at the event. Check out the video from UWM news - her voice is just beautiful!

There were a lot of speeches. We're talking longer than your typical graduation. But each guest had wonderful things to say about the Chancellor. His own speech was also very touching.

One of the coolest parts was a video that showed how faculty and students came together to create the Chancellor's medallion. It is tradition that each chancellor or president wears one at formal university occasions (convocation, graduation, etc.). The one created for Chancellor Lovell is anything but traditional...

(Video courtesy of UWM News)

Really cool, right?! I love how it represents both his Engineering background and the city of Milwaukee. Very modern and appropriate for the times. It is an exciting time to be at the university!

Best wishes to Chancellor Lovell in his new role!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

30B430 Book #5: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

Finished the last Lisbeth Salander book. Done and done. 

Once you start a trilogy, there is really no turning back. After finishing the second book, I couldn't wait to read the last one, especially since it picked up where the last one left off. However, this one I was listening to on Audible, rather than reading the paperback. I have to say - the experience was a little different. Almost disappointing. 

I'm starting to realize that I like to read a book in my own voice. I have my own image of who the characters are and how they speak, generally how the book flows. And listening to someone else read it is just not the same.  I couldn't tell if it was the book or the audio nature, but there wasn't that build in the plot that kept me interested. I have to disagree with those that called it "pulse racing." Kind of a bummer. 

I'm debating if it makes more sense to stick to non-fiction for my audio books. I've heard great things about Rob Lowe's autobiography. Maybe that will be my next bus book. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Party Rockers in the House Tonight (aka #21 Be in a Flash Mob)

Check #21 off the list!

That's right. This girl was in a flash mob. I can't promise that my dancing was very good, but it was a ton of fun and I was very excited to be able to offer the opportunity for our students who were interested (and much better dancers).

I thought this one would be one of the hardest to pull off, but then an opportunity just sort of presented itself...

So here are the details. Earlier this semester, I was invited to sit on a committee that would be planning events for the Chancellor's inauguration that would specifically get students involved. Everyone came up with fantastic ideas, including a meet and greet, a fun photo contest, an "Are You Smarter than the Chancellor" game show, a service day, and a interactive lab (because he is a former faculty member). Oh yeah, and a flash mob.

One of my colleagues and I volunteered to take on the flash mob, thinking it would be the easiest of the events to plan, especially since we were both new. New, and maybe also a little naive. Just recruit some students, find a choreographer, arrange a practice or two, and we'd be good to go. Except that apparently it is challenging to recruit students to perform in the middle of the school day. And to get all of those details to come together.

But we persevered and pulled it off with a group that was small but mighty. We couldn't have done it without the help of the Panther Dance Team, who did all of the choreography and instruction. And everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. Yeah!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I have returned from St. Louis and my test is done. It was probably the most challenging test that I have ever taken. And boy, did it wipe me out. I'm still recovering and slowly become less of a zombie. Just given me one moment while I turn my brain back on. Now I just have to patiently wait for my results for the next month or so... I would really love to check passed my comps (#13) off the list!

Speaking of zombies - now that all my studying is done, it is time to start planning for a Halloween costume! Halloween is probably my favorite holiday of the year. I firmly believe in homemade, creative, and non-slutty costumes. In fact, my inspiration most often comes from costumes intended for small children. In the past, I have been the statue of liberty, a pig, the tooth fairy, and most recently Princess Peach in a group of Mario and friends. For this year, I have found a number of great ideas on Pinterest including:

This mermaid costume. Check out the amazing tail, made with cupcake liners! (Picture originally from here)

This adorable sheep! This may be a winner - black shirt, leggings, and a hoodie covered in hundreds of cotton balls - sold! (Photo originally from here)
I love the washing machine. So cute.  Although I'm feeling like a box could be a little bulky. (Photo originally from here).

I had to pin this photo, because my sister is an alumna of Chi Omega. Such a cute owl costume! (Photo originally found here).

Gotta love the gingerbread man costume. Totally makes me think of Shrek. (Photo originally found here).

I hope it doesn't seem creepy that these are all kids costumes. I promise I'm not a weirdo, just a big kid at heart who really hates most all adult costumes are typically pretty trashy. Looks like it's time to do some crafting...

On another note, I can check #21 off the list. More details to come soon!

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's the Final Countdown

It's here! My exam is tomorrow.

It's challenging to prepare mentally for six hours in front of a computer, typing everything I know about higher education into coherent essays.  I have run through notecards, practiced outlining, and written out practice questions. At this point, I think I have crammed in all of the information that I can. And now I just have to be able to spit it back out and have it make sense.

I've got my snacks packed, my comfy clothes laid out, and my alarm set. It's go time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Honey Badger says...

On Wisconsin!

Okay, not a honey badger...a Wisconsin Badger. Which just may be hotter than the honey badger right now.... That's right, my boys are #4/#5 in the country. Take that honey badger. You might be pretty bad ass, but so is Bucky. 

Study, Study, Study

I have taken over my mom's dining room and am using it as a study den. This means that the french doors have become a makeshift timeline for the history of higher education. Works pretty well.

What doesn't work well...

Yup, one of the cats (because I currently live with four), vommed on my study materials. Yep. Gross.

None of them have fessed up yet. I am less than pleased. How will I study how colleges work? I guess that means I should skip that part. Take that Birnbaum!

It would really be helpful to have a little more motivation right now. 

Six days and counting...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Making it Happen

You will note that #13 on my 30B430 list reads: Pass My Comps.

I am currently on my last semester of coursework towards my PhD in Higher Education. And to cap off that experience and demonstrate my learning, I am asked to sit for a full day comprehensive exam, in less than two weeks - 12 days to be exact. I will write a comprehensive morning question for three hours, take a break for lunch, and then do three one-hour afternoon questions. Eeek!

Do I feel prepared? Not exactly. Some of the courses that I'm being tested on were ones that I took back in Fall 2005 during my master's program. Not only was that a long time ago, I was attending a different university, and the courses used different readings and materials. Which means that I spent the last week reading this lovely book, in preparation:

It's not that I dislike Robert Birnbaum or his thoughts on the organization and administration of higher education. It was just a lot of my study time to devote to only one area of my test preparation. Meaning that now I really need to focus on the law and history of higher education (exciting stuff, I know), and student development theory. 

How important is this test? Well, if I don't pass it, I cannot proceed with my dissertation proposal, which is the next step before I can start my research. It would also put me back roughly a year, as I'm not available for the spring exam date. So yeah, kind of a big deal....

I took today off, to plug away at my review and squeeze in a few practice questions. Here's hoping that my brain doesn't turn into mush and that I use the time well. Basically all other things are on hold at this point. My apologies to my friends and family. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

30B430 Book #4: The Girl Who Played With Fire

That Lisbeth Salander sucks you in!

I quickly snagged The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second in the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson, once my mom finished it. Since reading on the bus is a no go, it took me a little bit longer than I had hoped to get through the book, reading a few chapters each night before I went to sleep. 

At first I wasn't sure how it would compare to the first book. It started out equally slow, as it retold some of what happened in the last book, while setting up a new storyline. The first book looked at themes of sexual violence against women. The second looks at the victimization of women in the sex trafficking. It also gives you a lot more information about who Lisbeth Salander is. And of course, it gets crazy! The second book also leads directly into the third book in sort of a Pirates of the Caribbean 2/3 way. I can't wait to see how it all ends. 

Did you catch a preview yet for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie? I saw it for the first time last night during The Office. It comes out in December, and I can't wait. If not, you can check it out here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

30B430 Book #3: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I'm not a huge non-fiction reader. But several people had recommended that I pick up a copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. The book tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman from Baltimore, who died of cervical cancer in the 1950s.

While being treated at Johns Hopkins University, scientists cut out a part of Henrietta's tumor without her knowledge or consent, which was then used to study her cells, HeLa, which became an immortal line of cells. The HeLa cells have been used across the world for decades and have led to a number of major scientific discoveries, including the polio vaccine.

The book follows both the history of the scientific developments of the HeLa cells and the corresponding ethical issues of their use and mass production, as well as the history of the Lacks family, from Henrietta's youth growing up in Clover, VA to the later stories of her children and grandchildren, whose lives were deeply affected by exploitation by the scientific community and the media. The book weaves in Skloot's relationship with the family, as she attempts to build trust with Henrietta's relatives and research their story.

This was another book that I listened to during my bus rides. At times I fell asleep, more from exhaustion than boredom, and so I was often tracking back to the last part of the story that I could remember hearing. Overall, it was a really interesting look at the foundation of much of the science that we take for granted today, and the woman who made it possible. Although it's nonfiction, the storytelling is engaging and keeps you wanting to know more.

Definitely a good read.

I'm one-tenth through my reading list. Twenty-seven more books to go!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

30B430 Book #2: Bossypants

I love Tina Fey. Can't get enough of her. In fact, she may be my celebrity doppleganger. Well, maybe not Tina Fey herself, but Liz Lemon...definitely. I couldn't wait to get into Bossypants, her first book (I say first, hoping that there will be a second).

Because I have recently transitioned into a bus commuter, with roughly two hours a day spent in transit, I ended up downloading the Audible app for my iPhone. Sadly, reading on the bus makes me quite green, which is not exactly the way I want to start or end my day. Listening to books, however, provides an awesome way to spend my time, and still enjoy some fun reading outside of all my studying for my comprehensive exams. With my membership to Audible, I got one free credit for a free book. Enter Bossypants, read by Tina Fey herself.

Let me say, if you have read the book, go back and get the audio version. I have never laughed so hard. Which led to a few awkward moments with my fellow bus riders. I should have asked the bus driver to put it over the intercom so that everyone could share in my joy.

Tina goes through her life, from a young girl who realizes she has "old parents," through her time working at the YMCA post-college before joining the Second City in Chicago, and her eventual fame on SNL, 30 Rock, and mocking Sarah Palin during the 2008 elections. She also shares some of her hilarious experiences with motherhood, which are both endearing and hilarious. The only thing I felt like I missed was the pictures included in the book, that she references several times often to make fun of her clothing, hair etc. Apparently with some audio versions, you get those in a PDF.

This is one book that everyone should read, or have read to them by Tina.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Something Is Brewing....

For a taste of what I was googling for work today, click here.

Yep, I have a fun job. And it may help me check off #21.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

30B430 Book #1: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I have shared my love of reading before, which is why one of the goals on my 30 Before 30 Bucket list includes reading 30 books for fun (#1). I was reading one book after the next last summer, but with work, dissertation/school and moving, this summer has been far less productive. Sadly, I just finished my first book last week. First on the list: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

I realize that I am way behind on the Millenium series. Most people have completed all three books and are eagerly awaiting the US version of the movie. But I am still in the early bird phase of my relationship with Lisbeth Salander and her crazy crime solving ways.

I had started the book several times, but struggled to get past the first few chapters. At the urging of others to just get through the first 100 pages, I gave it another shot. I liked the book a lot, especially as the story began to weave together and I wanted to know just what had happened to Harriet Vanger. However, I am leery of any book that makes you read that far before it gets interesting. I'm hoping that the second book provides a quicker start.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

#15 Move in with my man.

It's official. We have been living together for one whole week today.

Unfortunately, right now it is in my sister's room at my mom's house, But at least we are together.

You see, we have lived apart for our entire relationship. When we met, I was living in St. Louis. Chris was in Providence, Rhode Island. Over 1,100 miles and a time zone between us. And still we started a relationship.

A few months in, Chris moved to Indianapolis. That cut down the distance to just 243 miles, about a four-hour drive. Still the hour time difference (which I continue to think is weird). For two years, one of us would make the trip down highway 70, usually every two or three weeks. But with our crazy work schedules, sometimes we would go two months without seeing each other. I know that there are many other people who have even more distance and time between them, but that didn't make it any less hard.

So last summer, we made the decision that we needed to be in the same place. We discussed both Indy and St. Louis. And ultimately decided that we would love to move to Wisconsin, to be closer to my family and friends.

Flash forward a year. Now we are here. We have stuff stored throughout the house and are living with four cats. But we are finally together. Plus laundry is free and my mom also feeds us. Winning. We hope to find our own place in the next few months, but we will call this home for now.

To quote a favorite line from Babe, "That'll do pig. That'll do."

An Honor.

I started writing this post a few weeks ago (on August 13 to be exact) and just couldn't bring myself to finish it. Until now. Here goes...

On Friday, August 12, after an emotional last day, I came across this post. Written by one  of the students from Panhellenic - a touching tribute. To me.

Being an educator can be challenging, frustrating, even heartbreaking at times. I have spent the last four years working with some really fantastic students. But I also had those moments where I wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into.

And yet, these really special moments come that fill my heart with more joy than I could ever imagine possible. Those moments where the connection happens. The part in all the struggle, where the students learn, and when we learn too. And as I walk away and on to my next adventure, I can't help but reflect on all that I have learned over the last four years. I continue to do what I do because of these students. And together we have created some amazing memories. Here are just a few of my favorites.

My Love/Hate relationships with sorority recruitment. I can't speak for all fraternity/sorority advisors, but for me, recruitment has its highs and lows. It is an exciting time of welcoming new members into our community. But it's also a high stress and emotion/low sleep whirlwind two weeks. And sometimes my crabby pants come out. Because I don't do what I do for arguments about balloons, or hours listening to cheer practice. I do it because I believe in fraternity/sorority and sharing the experience with as many as we can. However, there are those moments that make those weeks memorable. Silly conversations about "that sisterhood pants movie." Serious conversations about the stereotypes in our community. Surviving an H1N1 recruitment with serious amounts of hand sanitizer. And lots of gummi bears. And of course, bid day - when we get to see the women go home to their new sisters. The day that it is really all about.

My Love/Hate relationship with conduct. For most advisors, we don't get into our jobs because we love conduct and can't wait to run a hearing. As self-governing organizations, I believe that standards and accountability are one of the most important aspects of our community. But my heart sinks a little each time that I have to put aside the other projects I am working on to respond to an incident and prepare to oversee a conduct process. I cannot think of another part of my job that is quite as emotionally draining. It is hard to see a chapter struggling. It is even more challenging when mistakes are repeated, and no learning has happened from the previous time. At the same time, I know how much that I learned from my own experiences with the conduct process as a student, especially during those times that I failed in my own leadership. And I have appreciated those moments when I can be there with the students through the icky, hard, dark times until they push through to the other side to become a stronger chapter.

Serving in Jonesville. When I think of love, joy, and community, I will forever think of Jonesville, Virginia. And the amazing group of students with whom I traveled for a week of service with the Appalachia Service Project. Plus my partners in crime, Vinny and Steve. When we were approached by students interested in creating a Greek Mission Trip in late spring 2009, I don't think I had any idea what it would become. Steve might have, because he was good at dreaming big. But I didn't. What we were able to create with the students, was one of the most genuine/real experiences I have ever participated in with service that really captured what a fraternity and sorority community can be. If we could recreate that same experience every day on the college campus, I don't think we'd have nearly as many issues with alcohol, hazing, and the other diseases that plague our community. Those were the best two spring breaks that I have ever had.

Supporting the students as they create successful programs. One of my proudest moments as an advisor was sitting in the room for the sorority community's first Panhellenic Grand Chapter, a program created by the council and a chapter president to bring sorority women together around issues important to them. It was a conversation that was challenging, and meant to push people to think and to act. Hopefully the starting point for a conversation that will continue.

This is my job?! I love those moments when I have to stop, smile, and say to myself, "I get paid to to this." It happens when I'm sitting at a free concert as "staff presence" of a band that I love. Or when I get stopped at Sam's and asked if I run a daycare because my cart is full of bulk quantities of mints, capri suns, gummi bears, etc. Sometimes I feel like I am herding cats. Most of the time, it is just plain awesome.

I am so proud of the men and women that I have worked with at Saint Louis University, and wish them all the best. I hope that I am leaving things a little bit better than when I started. I can't wait to see what they all do.

It has truly been an honor.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

#28 Buy myself a really nice piece of jewelry.


So, first the why. I don't tend to wear a ton of jewelry, and most of what I have is from Target or other cheap places. Because when I do get a new piece, I tend to break it or lose it. Unfortunately, the amethyst stud earrings that my grandparents got me for my first communion (confirmation?) managed to find their way through the vacuum cleaner back in high school. Sad day.

As a "grown up," I am now wanting to build a collection of jewelry that I can wear for both work and play. Nothing super fancy or pretentious, just some nice pieces that I can wear every day.

I made a promise to myself that if I got the job offer at UWM, I would get myself something special. We're not talking about anything from Tiffany or anything like that - I'm poor and a girl's gotta eat. However, I wanted something that would remind me of this opportunity that I have been given.

A good friend sells jewelry for Stella & Dot and I had gone to one of her parties earlier in the spring. I had my eye on a certain charm necklace....

And now it's mine! It's the On the Mark necklace and it's adorbs. I love little delicate necklaces that go well with a lot of different outfits. 

Was it expensive? Nope. And that's okay with me. Because my measure of success is not in how much money I spend, but rather how something fits me. And I feel like this necklace is pointing me in the right direction. : ) 


Put a fork in it. I'm done.

Yesterday was my last day at SLU. At the end of the day, I left my office looking like this:

Perhaps the cleanest that it's ever been.

It is hard to describe how I am feeling now. I spent the last few weeks under a cloud of stress, trying to make sure that not only did I leave good transition notes, but that I also planned ahead as far as I could. I would hate to leave the next person a mess.

And yesterday, well, it was hard. Final wrap up tasks, plus saying goodbye to colleagues and friends. Because I'm not just headed down the block. I am headed north...six hours away. While I know I will be back in just a few months for some class commitments, I am still leaving. There were promises of lunches and dinners next week before I leave. And there were tears. Lots of tears. Because leaving is sad.

I woke up this morning with a migraine. I attribute it to my stress finally breaking. That seems to be a regular pattern for me. My body decided that it needed a break before proceeding with more packing and moving tasks. I took the hint and was a lazy bum all day.

I will get back to the packing tomorrow. And cleaning. I may even spare a few hours for the pool. Because I don't really think it is going to hit me that I'm done until Monday morning. When I am still off. At least for the week. I suppose I should try to enjoy some of it before I head off to the next job.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kitty Pic of the Week

Stella's role in our packing process: cardboard box quality control. She prefers to test each one before anything gets packed. Bucky is still in denial.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Big News

So it's official. I will be leaving the STL very soon. I have accepted a new job, which will take me back home to Milwaukee.

It is definitely bittersweet. I have loved living in St. Louis for the past four years. I had never been here prior to moving. It is a really great city! I am going to miss a lot...

Going to Pappy's for some delicious BBQ. Mmmm...Ribs.

Summer musicals at the Muny in Forest Park. I've seen some really great shows over the years - Hairspray, the Sound of Music, and most recently, Legally Blonde.
One of my favorite St. Louis adventures is always the zoo. You can't beat free animals!

Although my allegiance will always be to Miller, I will miss the AB Brewery tour. 
And of course, the St. Louis Arch. Each time I drive past it on my way back into the city, it just feels good. 

St. Louis has been a great home. It is going to be very hard to say goodbye to the friends that I have met along the way, and the fantastic students with whom I have had the opportunity to work.

On to the next step.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Artsy Fartsy

I have a new love. It's called Pinterest.

It is a fantastic site that let's you "pin" different photos and web sites to a virtual pin board. All things one finds pretty.

It has quickly grown into an addiction. I could pin all day. Beautiful cakes that I want to bake. Clothes I would die to own. Recipes that sound delicious, but that I will probably never try (I had cereal for dinner). I just can't get enough.

I love to pin fun craft ideas. A good DIY project totally makes my day. And thanks to a post pinned from here, I spent my Saturday night and Sunday morning making this:

It's a beaut. Haha. 

Well, at least I think so. Just a glass bowl, some glass gems and a little hot glue and voila. Now if you thought that clear tacky glue might hold on those gems, you would be wrong (try number one). I'm finding that the hot glue may not be the strongest bonding agent either, as a few of the gems have popped off. So I'll be looking for some new glue options to make sure I can continue to display my pretty bowl. In the meantime, I've been pulling off the little stringies that the hot glue has left behind in it's spot on the side table. 

Ahh crafting fun.   

Hola. Que Tal?

Hello. How are you?

Lesson one in the Coffee Break Spanish podcast from Radio Lingua. As I was wandering through the iTunes top tens among the podcasts, I happened upon this free tool for learning Spanish. It's aimed at beginners, but as someone who hasn't taken Spanish in about 9 years, I think it will be a good refresher. The starter lessons are definitely words and phrases that are more familiar (hola, gracias, buenos dias, etc.), but I think it is probably a good idea to start from the beginning.

I was also surprised to find that the instructor has a charming Irish accent. It really adds a special something.

So why relearn Spanish? I took language classes for five years, and initially planned to major in Spanish, But after the first year in college, I was pretty burnt out. I took a break, thinking that I would go back, but I never did.

The podcasts seem helpful, although it is certainly going to be a long time before I can carry a conversation. Oh well.


Kitty Picture of the Week

Aren't you going to share with me? 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy Birthday to Boo

My fantastic boyfriend celebrated a birthday last month, which prompted a extended hunt for the appropriate gifts. My funds are a little tight right now, which meant that I wasn't going to be able to do anything big. But I definitely wanted to find something special.

I asked him for his input, and he responded by sending me links to a superman t-shirt (he's a big comic book fan), and several pieces of art found on Etsy that paid tribute to his previous home, Providence, Rhode Island.

I've been on kind of an art kick. I hope to someday move beyond apartment decor that consists of posters that I bought in college. And because we are in the process of planning our move together, I would love for our new place to feature things we both love in a wall of photos and art.

I recently framed this cute St. Louis print that I found on Etsy:

(Ignore my reflection in the frame)

In my Etsy search, I stumbled upon the perfect print at ReStudios' shop

Not only did I like the idea of word art in the shape of the skyline, but I knew it was perfect when I saw some of Chris' favorite places already in the print. Nick's on Broadway is owned by Chris' fraternity brother and good friend, and was one of the first places that he took me when I first visited him in Providence.

It was definitely a success! He was so excited about the print and had fun finding different places throughout. I can't wait to hang it on our walls - once we figure out where exactly we will be.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kitty Picture of the Week

Meet our new kitty! Okay, so that obviously isn't Bucky or Stella's new roommate. But it is an awesome leopard that we saw at the zoo. It got so close!

Now What?

A few weeks ago I sort of finalized my list of 30 things that I want to do before I turn 30. So I guess that means I need to get started....but where to start? 

Looking at the list, there are some that are going to take some significant time. I've started on my list of fun books, but obviously that one isn't going to get finished overnight. Unlike my mother who is often in the midst of 3-4 books concurrently, I can only read one book at a time. I'm also not made of money, which means I am going to have to do some calculated saving to be able to pay off my car, and take the trips that will let me check off numbers 8, 9 , 16, and 29. And then there is that tricky half marathon - that's going to take some training...

A few of my items can be targeted as good summer projects. I'm sure I can manage to get up to see a sunrise sometime soon, although it'd be a lot more fun if it was somewhere beautiful. I would love to work on the giving up soda this summer. I am typing this while drinking a 32-oz Diet Pepsi for breakfast. Yikes! 

And I am happy to say that #15 is in the works. The first step is just figuring out where exactly we will be living...stay tuned.

I think the key thing is going to be keeping going with my list. It is easy to get caught in the day-to-day, which is part of why I decided to do this in the first place. I have chatted with a few of my friends my age, to see if they have any interest in joining me on the journey, with their own lists of course. I haven't gotten anyone else on board yet, but a few thought the idea was a good one, so I am hoping they will at least be a good support system, and maybe even join me on some of my adventures. 

Okay, enough chatting for now. Back to the grind.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

30 Before 30

“Well I’ve got a wonderful idea - we’ll spend the whole day doing things we’ve never done before. We will take turns. First things you’ve never done, then me. But of course, I can’t think of anything I’ve never done before.” - Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

One of my favorite scenes from Breakfast at Tiffany's is when Holly and Paul go around doing things they've never done before - they go to Tiffany's and get a Cracker Jack ring engraved, and then he takes her on her first trip to the public library where she talks him into autographing his book (aww). 

Going to the Rose Bowl was definitely a check mark on the list of things I've never done before. As I continue rushing through my twenties, like many others I have been thinking about those other things that I hope to do before I get "old and boring." Rather than moan about the fact that 30 is fast approaching, I decided to make it fun with a bucket list of sorts. 30 things total, to be done in exactly 632 days. 

Without further ado...

30 Before 30
1. Read 30 books for fun
2. Get a second tattoo
3. Pay off my car payments (early, please)
4. Share a secret with Post Secret
5. Watch a sunrise
6. Run a half marathon
7. Try to be a vegetarian for a month
8. Use my passport
9. Take a classic American road trip
10. Quit my soda addiction
11. Go one month without eating out
12. Plant a garden
13. Pass my comps
14. Propose my dissertation
15. Move in with my man
16. Visit a state I've never been to before (OR, MT, ID, UT, SD, AR, PA, MS, SC, NC, VT, ME, ND, HI, AK) 
17. Go camping
18. Relearn Spanish
19. Get to my ideal weight
20. Find a great hairstylist
21. Be in a flash mob
22. Do a Man vs. Food challenge
23. Connect with a service organization
24. Start and finish a scrapbook
25. Change up my look
26. Host a dinner party
27. Find the perfect pair of jeans
28. Buy myself a really nice piece of jewelry
29. Go to Las Vegas
30. (Sorry friends, this one is top secret)

It may be hard to get these all done, but I'm determined to try. And to have a whole lot of fun along the way (well, with most of them). Here goes!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Well Hello!

I have been noticeably absent from blogging since 2010. Between work, classes, etc., I'm a busy girl!

So what have I been up to?  Well...

In January, I went to the Rose Bowl in sunny Pasadena, CA to cheer on my Badgers. Sadly, it didn't turn out so well for the team, but it was a fantastic vacation that went by much too quickly.

We got to visit the Santa Monica Pier and Muscle Beach, where they held the pep rally for the team.

We also visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.

We rang in the new year with fellow Badger fans.

We saw the Rose Parade. Beautiful, but way too many horses for Rachel.

And of course, we got to see a game in perhaps the most famous stadium in the country.

What a great way to start out the year, right?!

So what else has happened since then? Well, I turned 28. I spent a week volunteering in Appalachia with the students over their spring break (more about that later), and I started perhaps the most challenging course of my academic career - research topics. It's kicking my butt right now, but hopefully by the end, I will have my dissertation proposal fairly complete.

Speaking of, time to get back to reading!

Kitty Picture of the Week

I don't know if they will be snuggling like this for much longer. It's too hot to be touching!
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