Thursday Thoughts (on a Friday) 19.0: Birthday Recap Edition

Hello friends! Last week I turned the big 2-7 and this weekend my family is coming to visit me. All four of us will be staying in my one bedroom apartment…it’s definitely going to be cozy! But before the weekend festivities begin, I should recount what’s been going on in my life the past week. The majority of this post will be a massive photo dump from my birthday…but I’ll try to throw in some other non-birthday things as well.



Work  updates:

1) The manuscript for the “short project” has been submitted to my advisor! It’s a co-first-author paper for me, so I’m pretty excited about it. Hopefully he gets back to us with edits soon!

2) The editor comments from a book chapter I recently wrote also came back last week. Amazingly there were only four comments, and the editor had very positive things to say about the manuscript…so that made me feel pretty good. It’s my first first-author manuscript so I’ll be glad to see it finally published.

3) Work has just generally been very busy, which is a good thing I guess. My work trip to D.C. is coming up and I really hope I can finish everything that I need to in time.


Nail Art:


Base/Top Coat: Sally Hansen Flawless

Nail Polish: Sally Hansen Blue on Black


For my birthday dinner my friends and I went to Thai Sookdee in Evanston. I had a delicious dinner and a great time socializing with friends…such a great time that I forgot to take any pictures. Blogger fail 😦

After dinner we ventured to World of Beer for more socializing. This time I DID remember to take some pictures…lots of pictures…Prepare yourself for a massive photo dump:


Love these ladies!


I managed to get a pic with Pete (who is leaving for the summer) and Dana before they left!


Me and the men of office 1021. I love this pic but it’s blurry…


Maria and I (with someone trying to photo bomb us)


Me and my two best friends from Wine Riot


These guys…believe it or not this is the best of three


Ran into Yujin from my group


Me, Sarah (who is successfully preventing a photobomb), and Kayla


Me, Maria, Kayla, and Sarah

Sarah even brought me a piece of birthday cake to the bar. I felt so special!!!




Thanks again Sarah! I really appreciated it!


Guess who came into town on Wednesday????


That’s right this girl! I had a great time wandering around campus yesterday showing her off. We also braved the cold and the wind to take a quick  walk along the lake:


My parents got in to town this afternoon and it’s sure to be a great weekend!


Well that’s it for now. I hope everyone has a great and safe memorial day weekend!


This Weekend, I… 1.0

Oh hey there! I still have a blog and stuff…I’m sorry for my lack of posting but qual season (i.e. my qualifying examination) has me VERY busy (and very unmotivated to do any extra writing). However, it has come to my attention that some people actually read this blog (hi Grandma!) so I figured I’d give a quick update on my life as of late (or at least my life as of this weekend). Today I am participating in Sarah’s new link-up call “This Weekend, I…” Maybe I can make this a weekly habit…???


This weekend, I helped my friend Dana celebrate passing her qualifying examination. We began the night at Uberstien in Wrigleyville, and stayed there for a wee bit longer than I think any of us intended to. We bring prospective graduate students to this bar, but don’t usually venture here otherwise (generally because we end up spending a lot of money). On Friday nights, Uberstien has live polka music, and Dana discovered earlier in the year that if you tell the band it’s someone’s birthday they will force the birthday girl/boy to join the band and play a “special instrument.” Dana did this to a friend of ours earlier in the year (it was very funny) and we returned the favor on Friday night:

The “Birthday Girl”/Ph.D. Candidate

A good time was had by all. Congratulations Dana!

This weekend, I watched KSU beat Oklahoma State! Great game by the cats, and I am really looking forward to the next one!

Halloween lives on in my apartment!

This weekend, I gave myself a new manicure that I REALLY like.

Base/Top coat: Sally Hansen Flawless

Polish: Sally Hansen Midnight in NY

Glitter coat:Revlon Radiant

This weekend, I made a super delicious chicken enchilada soup. I will post the recipe for it soon!

The perfect pairing with my new favorite t.v. show Revenge


I hope you had a great weekend and have a great week!

Thursday Thoughts 9.0

Hey remember me? I’m still alive and well! The past week has been BUSY and H-O-T. Since today is Thursday I’m linking up with Sarah.



O.k. o.k. I know I keep complaining about it, but I’m going to say it again…IT’S HOT. One of the reasons I came to graduate school “up north” was to avoid the sweltering Texas summers that I was oh-so-not fond of. And it did get hot last summer…but never this hot or for this long. It’s been above 90 degrees every day for about a week, and now we are in an “excessive heat warning” until Friday. As I mentioned in last week’s post, most Chicagoan’s don’t have central air conditioning (myself included). So, when we have 100+ degree heat indexes for days on end…well it’s kind of a big deal. It looks like it might get down to the 80’s this weekend…right now that sounds heavenly!


Sunday was the big move to my new place, and it was quite the day. Not only was it REALLY hot, but I also could not pick up the key to the new place until 3 pm (on Sunday) and I had to be out of the old place by 8 am Monday morning. Yikes! Luckily, I had 5 very awesome friends who braved the heat to help me move from my un-airconditioned second floor walk-up to my new un-airconditioned third floor  walk-up. I am truly blessed to have such great people in my life. After all the stuff was in the new place, I served my friends Lou Malnati’s pizza and beer (plus my friend Sarah brought Klondike bars which were really awesome). It was a long, hot (and sometimes stressful) day, and I am really glad to finally put this move behind me. Now I can begin the next phase of my life. 🙂


…And of course after the move there is unpacking. Groan. Especially in this heat. This is basically the state of my apartment (or at least as it was when I took these pictures on Monday). First, there is the kitchen:

I’m pretty sure Martha Stewart is jealous of my organizational skills

Then, you can make your way down the hallway…

Watch your step!

…to the living room…


…to sit down.

I hope you don’t need a lot of leg room!

So far, the unpacking process has consisted of me slaving away in the heat until I just can’t take it anymore…and then I go hang out in my bedroom for awhile (where my window AC unit is). Yesterday, I declared victory on my kitchen. Yay! I can eat now! This evening I hope to tackle the bathroom.


I had a great Fourth of July yesterday. I spent the morning tackling the kitchen (as mentioned above), and then went to a potluck party held by some of my friends in the evening. We ate lots of delicious food (I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in guacomole), and watched Independence Day (i.e. ID4). After the movie, we walked to the lake for the Evanston fireworks display. All in all, it was a really great day!


I’ll admit it…I’ve been really REALLY bad about posting book reviews lately. I think my last book review might have been in May(?), so my hope is to change that this week. I figure by putting it out there on my blog, it’s much more likely to actually happen!


That’s all for now. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday Thoughts 8.0

Hey there! It’s Thursday, and today I’m linking up with Sarah.



I’m sure I sound like a broken record here but it is going to be h-o-t in Chicago today. We are in a heat advisory (as is most of the country I know), and are expected to hit around 97 degrees today. To those of you dealing with triple digit temperatures today (and I do truly pity you) that may not sound so bad, but I would also venture to guess that most of you have central AC in your place of residence where as I (and many of my fellow Chicagoans) do not. I do have one window AC unit in my bedroom which I am SO GRATEFUL FOR, but the rest of  my apartment is just boiling hot. It’s days like these where I go to work JUST so I can sit i the AC for awhile.


In the midst of this heat wave I am also in the process of packing to move into a new apartment. I actually stayed home yesterday and packed because the temperatures were quite a bit cooler than what was forecast for today. The move (which is happening on Sunday) is going to be a little bit tricky logistically, but luckily I have several great friends who are going to help me do it!


The rest of my vacation last week was AWESOME and I didn’t want to come home (especially to this heat wave…lame…). After I came back from Louisiana, I continued making the rounds and seeing friends I hadn’t seen in about a year. Highlights: a trip to Boondoggles pub for pizza and a beer (although there was something wrong with the Shiner keg that night so I didn’t get to enjoy that 😦 ), seeing the movie That’s My Boy (it was a lot funnier than I thought it would be), and eating at La Brisa again (as I mentioned in last week’s post I love that place SO much). Overall it was a great trip, and gave me a MUCH needed break from Chicago.


Monday marked the one year anniversary of breaking my foot, and the beginning of my (very very) long recovery process. I had to use crutches (although I was non-weight bearing for only a few weeks) for two months, and then walked around in the boot cast for next 4ish months. Although the recovery process was long and difficult at times, I also found it very eye-opening. I realized just how handicapped inaccessible our public facilities really are (have you ever tried to open those heavy school/mall/restaurant doors on crutches), and how kind people really can be. I had so many people offer to hold doors for me, carry my stuff when needed, and drive me to wherever I needed to go. Looking back, I remember there were dark times during the recovery process where I just stayed home (and felt sorry for myself) because the thought of crunching down two flights of stairs (and then back up on the return trip) was unbearable. I also remember how difficult it was to use public transportation because many CTA stops are not handicapped accessible. However, I also remember moments like this:

I mean how many opportunities does one have in life to have a “real” peg leg?!

And like this:

I am the champion of chair dancing

…and then I remember how much fun my boot cast could make an evening. Your life is what you make of it. I’m really glad I didn’t just stay home.


I ran across The Color Challenge this week. Apparently, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 255 women are color blind, and this test allows you to see how you match up! In this online application, you arrange color tiles “in order” (the first and last tiles are set in place). At the conclusion of the test, a score is awarded from 0-99 which is an indicator of how well you really see colors. A score of 0 is perfect while a score of 99 indicates you are probably color blind. I scored a 4! Overall, I thought this was a really neat application, and my friends and I had fun yesterday taking the test and comparing our scores. Take the test and let me know how you score!


That’s all for now. Have a great weekend everyone!

My Summer ’12 Bucket List

Hello out there! I do still exist! With the end of the quarter approaching (boo final projects!) and my research group presentation looming, I have barely had a spare minute the past few weeks. But, I am happy to say that they are O-V-E-R. I’m free (sorta)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So now that summer has “officially” started for me, I thought I’d make a list of things I hope to accomplish this summer. I realize this is far from an original idea (hello to all you other bloggers who have posted similar lists!), but it seemed like the perfect way for me to celebrate my first day of freedom! Happy Summer everyone!


Summer ’12 Bucket List

1. Run 25 miles in one month

To a serious runner this might seem like a silly goal, but for me it would be a big accomplishment. Between my crazy schedule, and trying to get back into running after breaking my foot last year I have yet to accomplish this. Last month I only ran 18 miles, and this month is not shaping up to be much better (again, darn you finals!). I hope that by July I will be able to run 25 miles in a month, and maybe I”ll be able to keep it up into August!

2. Read 2 books off the BBC’s “The Big Read” list

I’ve been working away at this list for probably about two years now, and I’ve only managed to read about 30 books off of it. Last year, I made really great progress, but the allure of flashy new books (I want to be able to talk about the latest and greatest with everyone else!) has distracted me this year. So this summer, I pledge to read:

The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald


Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

3. Watch a concert at Ravinia

This outdoor venue hosts many great shows all summer long, and some of them (including The Chicago Symphony Orchestra) are free for me because I’m a student!

4. Attend a Chicago Street Festival

There are all kinds of festivals and events that go on in Chicago all summer long. I’m determined to make it to at least one of them this year!

5. Go to the beach (at least once)

I bought a beach pass last summer, and broke my foot one week later. FAIL. Thus, there was no “fun in the sun” for me all summer. So, this year I hope hit the beach at least once. I live so close to it, it would be a shame not to.

6. Bake a pie

I’m ready to announce it on the internet…I’ve never made a pie (other than the Sara Lee “throw it in the oven” versions…). I hope to rectify this by making something super delicious this summer!

7. Try new restaurants and bars in Chicago

As much as I like to think I’m adventurous (and I do love doing/trying new things!), I am also somewhat a creature of habit. This certainly extends to venturing to new neighborhoods in the city, especially when it’s so much easier to stay close to home. However, this summer I’d like to see some new neighborhoods and try some different places.

8. Go to a Chicago blues club

Chicago is famous for its blues music, and I know there are several great places around the city to listen to it live. A trip to a blues club has been suggested by a member of my lab group, so this might actually happen soon!

9. Do some kind of Nature hike or outdoorsy thing

I spend almost all of my waking hours indoors, and many of these are spent in windowless labs and offices. So, this summer I’d like to get a little vitamin D and see more of the great outdoors!

10. Try a new summer cocktail

In the same vein as my tendency to visit  restaurants and bars close to home, I also tend to get the same drinks when I go out. Usually, I opt for whatever is cheapest (Bud light anyone?), but I know I’m missing out on lots of delicious concoctions.


Well, that’s my list! I’ll check back around labor day to see how I did. What’s on your list for the summer?

Weekend Update: Birthday Celebrations and Delicious Foods

After skipping last week in lieu of Mother’s Day, it’s time for another Weekend Update!



Friday night was my “official” birthday celebration (I had another great one on Wednesday as well!), and I had many wonderful friends come to help me celebrate. We began the evening at my favorite Mexican restaurant in town, That Little Mexican Cafe. The table shared 3 bowls of guacamole (and lets be honest I think we could have handled more) which was made fresh for us at the table. I also enjoyed a Mexican martini (margarita with no ice, served in a martini glass), and two extremely delicious tamales. Afterwards, I was very full but we ventured to Nevins to continue the celebrating.

At Nevins, we enjoyed the $3 Goose Island products and I played a game of darts.

I’m a very serious darts player

I’m pretty sure I hit a bull’s eye…or not..

Overall I had a very great night and I really appreciate all of my awesome friends who helped me celebrate. Thank you guys so much!


Saturday was a very busy day. First, I signed a lease on my cool new apartment. Afterwards, I ventured to a Virag Jewelers to get my watch battery replaced. I have been without a functioning watch for over FOUR weeks. Those that know me well will recognize that this is an EXTREMELY long time for me to be without a functioning watch. I mean,I am that girl who (embarrassingly) wore a watch to her first prom (doh!):

Watch…not a pretty, sparkly bracelet

I think my mom even questioned me on that particular choice. Oh well you live and learn.

Anyway, it took me a while to locate a watch repair business near me, but this establishment came highly recommended on Yelp. I walked in had a new watch battery in about 15 minutes. They charged me $10, and guaranteed the battery for a year. Score!


By Saturday evening I was craving some comfort food, so I decided to make chicken and noodles and mashed potatoes. It was DELICIOUS. I also paired the meal with a glass of Lambrusco (thanks Mom), and the movie Date Night. It was the perfect way to begin my evening.

After the movie was over, my friend Elizabeth and I decided to get milkshakes at Kafein. I had a peanut butter and chocolate milkshake and it was fantastic. Since it was a nice evening, Elizabeth and I sat outside on the patio. Although the patio is kind of small and the space is somewhat awkward (think fenced-in hallway), it was a still a really great way to enjoy our milkshakes.


Sunday morning, I made myself some delicious chocolate chip pancakes. Combined with coffee and a magazine, it was a great way to spend a lazy Sunday  morning.


That’s all for now, have a great week everyone!

My First Visit To Wrigley Field

Recently, my department purchased tickets for a Chicago Cubs game versus the Atlanta Braves. I love baseball (go Royals!), but am undecided as to how I feel about the Cubs. My feelings for the Braves on the other hand are NOT lukewarm, and I have a intense dislike of the team from hot-lanta. Is it because they beat my team in a hotly contested game? No, and lets be honest the Royals haven’t exactly been a tough team to beat for most of my life (but I still love them). Is it for some other silly reason (i.e. dislike of the mascot, team colors, etc). Nope, none of those things particularly bother me either. So what is it then? Only the most logical reason for disliking something–television.

Did anyone else have this experience in the 1990’s: You return home from a long day of school and turn on TBS expecting to see this

But instead saw this

Yes, that’s right Ted Turner. I haven’t forgotten.

Needless to say, I wasn’t very excited about rooting for either team (although I did end up cheering for the Cubs) so I decided to think of it as a trip to Wrigley Field. Previously, I’d passed by Wrigley dozens of times on the El and have been to Wrigleyville many times, but I’d never actually set foot in the ballpark before. So as you can see, I was pretty excited on the way in:

Once we were in the ballpark, we found our seats and set out to find food and beverages. Wrigley Field does offer a plethora of food and beverage choices, but you’d better save your pennies before coming to the ballpark to make a purchase. For example, this Old Style shown below costs $7.50.

Hand model–the lovely Kayla

Once we made it back to our seats we scoped out the field…

..the Wrigley Rooftop seats, which are located on buildings adjacent to Wrigley Field….

…and the famous ivy-covered outfield wall.

Then the game began. For the first several innings the game was somewhat uneventful. So much so that I asked my friend Bernie to take a picture of me and my friends Elizabeth and Kayla. As he was set to take the picture, the Cubs hit a home run which diverted our attention…

Bernie was (understandably) somewhat upset that he had potentially missed the only Cubs home run of the game. But, being the nice guy that he is he agreed to take another picture of us. As he was set to take the next picture, the Cubs hit ANOTHER home run…

Sorry Bernie! We did finally get it right though:

Thanks in large part to the two home runs that occurred during our photography session, the Cubs won 5-1! After the game, we stopped at El Burrito Mexicano as I mentioned in a previous post. Kayla and I had a delicious burrito and then we all hopped back on the red line to go home.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to Wrigley Field and I’m glad I got to experience it with great friends!

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