Meet Wilhelm!

The time has come to reveal my best kept blog secret (not that its been difficult to keep since I have such a sporadic posting schedule)…I got a dog!!!!! Meet Wilhelm everyone!

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Wilhelm (we decided to keep the name his former owners had given him) is an almost 3 year old standard poodle. We adopted him from a couple who took new jobs and could no longer care for him, and he arrived the first week of March.

The first few days were exciting and surreal–I’ve always wanted a dog and couldn’t believe I finally had one (after all those years of waiting…thanks Dad! :P). It was strange and a little scary at first to realize that I was in charge of a living being. I got over that pretty quickly, but it was weird for a few days!

In the first few days that we had him, we got to experience lots of pet-parent “firsts,” such as the realization that the puppy needed to be groomed.


However, he also had to be up-to-date on all of his shots before the groomer would accept him, so we took a trip to the vet!


It was sort of weird to let them take my puppy away to go do all the medical things, but he was a such a trooper. After getting his shots (and some medicine for some other health issues), he was finally ready to head to the groomers!

Before (i.e. clueless, happy, no idea of what’s to come):


After (i.e. “why did you leave me there?” and “I’m too pretty now to smile”):


I loved the new look–he was so pretty and glossy and he smelled like a tangerine. And he was SO soft. ๐Ÿ™‚

Other than the grooming and health issues, we’ve been having a blast getting to know our new dog! We spend lots of time playing fetch:

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He also loved playing in the snow (although I for one am glad it’s gone!):

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Wilhelm is also always willing to “help” me exercise…

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…and take a nap with him when we are pooped at the end of the day!

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In general, Wilhelm is a super easy-going dog and as my sister says “always looks ready for anything.” He even takes baths somewhat willingly (although there is some initial hesitation when the water turns on). Bath time before:

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Bath time after:

photo 1-1

Clearly, we’ve learned a lot in the past two months. One thing we are still working on is how to photograph our really black dog with our crappy apartment lighting. Case in point:

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Upon viewing this picture my friend Kayla remarked: “It looks like he’s hugging a shadow!” Too true Kayla, too true.

Wilhelm, we love having you in our family now. You have so much energy and are so enthuastic–every day is an adventure!

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I couldn’t ask for a better first dog!

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November and December 2014 Recap

Oh me, oh my! Is it really already February…of 2015??? I feel like it was just December and I blinked and now it’s February. Alas–such is life. To say January was crazy would be an understatement. I was out of town for work (and had to extend the trip), and then was busy frantically trying to prepare a presentation to present on this work. Basically, I had almost zero time for blogging. I finally had to start putting “spend 10 minutes on blog post” on my to-do list, which is why this post took me greater than 1 month to finish. BUT I FINISHED IT. It’s the little things folks…



I read 11 books in November and December, which is surprising considering how busy I was. I even found time to review 4 books! Overall, I read a whopping 59 books in 2014. Holy wow–I think that’s a new record for me. I still plan to summarize my “2014 year in reading” (even though we are well into 2015), so stay tuned for that.

Books read:

1.ย Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

2. My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

3.ย The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

4.ย Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

5.ย Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

6. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

7. The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

8. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

9. Duty by Robert M. Gates

10. Chocolat by Joanne Harris

11. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Book Reviews Posted:

1. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

2. A PhD Is Not Enough! by Peter J. Feibelman

3. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte

4. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein


Recipes Posted in November and December:

1. Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

2. Bacon Chicken Breast with Sweet Potato Mash


After a strong showing in October, I kind of fizzled out in November but regained some momentum in December. I’m pretty proud of my December mileage because I was traveling most of the month and had to make a real effort to get those miles in.

November-DecemberOverall, I logged a grand total of 704 miles in 2014. Obviously I didn’t hit my original goal of 1000 miles or even my revised goal of 873 miles (my 2013 total + 1 mile), but I think the important thing is that I kept at it even when I realized I wasn’t going to hit either of those goals. I also realize that I probably had way more than 704 active miles in 2014 (since I don’t have one of those fancy fitness trackers that logs my every move), but these were the miles I completed with the intention of exercising. I’m pretty happy with these numbers, and plan to solider on in 2015!


Fun things I did in November:

1) Attended a “Pre-Thanksgiving” Cocktail/Housewarming Party


I had a great time at this party hosted be Dan and Deniz. Everyone dressed up, drank fancy cocktails (or champagne in my case), and ate lots of delicious hors d’oeuvres.

2) Spent Thanksgiving in (a very snowy) Michigan


It started snowing the day we showed up and it continued to snow in little bits for the rest of our trip. While the humans in the house didn’t mind the snow, there was one certain dog who really enjoyed it:


Snoop, aka Snow Dog

Seriously, he just loves to burrow in the snow and hang out. So cute (but so weird)!

On Thanksgiving day, K’s parents cooked a big, delicious feast. We had two other grad students from the university join us for dinner:


Snoop wasn’t sure how he felt about having company, but we sure enjoyed it!

Overall I had a really great Thanksgiving. It was very peaceful and relaxing–definitely a nice break from the insanity of graduate school.

Fun things I did in December:

1) Attended a holiday potluck and celebrated Bernie’s birthday

The 2014 holiday season was chock full of parties and fun events, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. For the last several years my friend Beth has hosted a holiday potluck, and for one reason or another I’ve never been able to go. Luckily I could this year! There was delicious food, mulled wine (which I was a few minutes too late to be able to have before it ran out), and a pretty tree. Basically it had all the perfect elements of a nice holiday gathering.

After the meal, we walked over to Kingston Mines to listen to some blues music in celebration of Bernie’s birthday. There were many photo-worthy opportunities throughout the night (The food! The tree! All. The. Friendship.), but the only picture I have from the entire night is this really grainy selfie…



So I guess it’ll have to do? ๐Ÿ™‚

2) Went to Michigan for an early Christmas celebration

About three weeks after we said goodbye to K’s parents and Snoop from the Thanksgiving trip, we were back! And so was the snow…


Usually we have a brief “re-acquaintance” period with Snoop when we come back to Michigan after having been away for awhile, but since the period between the two trips was so short this time he seemed excited to see us pretty much right away. And boy were we excited to see him! I mean really, how can you resist this face!?


So cute and surprisingly tolerant of the ears!

As usual, we had a really nice and relaxing time in Michigan. We spent some time with K’s friends from high school, and enjoyed some really great meals. Since we were leaving before Christmas day, we celebrated early with a fantastic meal cooked by K’s dad:


We also exchanged gifts. I even got to open up Snoop’s stocking, which made me his favorite for about 10 minutes


It was short-lived, but worth it!

We were sad to say goodbye to Michigan, but we had a great time!

3) Celebrated Christmas in Kansas

A few days before Christmas, we flew to Kansas to spend some time with my family.

We also have lots of little holiday traditions, one of which is to have my grandmother over for dinner on Christmas Eve. We even remembered to take pictures this year!



My parents also kept another holiday tradition alive–new p.j’s on Christmas Eve!


Special thanks to our p.j. model, Jen

Thanks Mom and Dad!

Christmas day is always a little crazy in our household. We do our gift exchange in the morning, host my dad’s family for lunch, and travel over to Grandma’s for dinner with my mom’s side. It’s crazy and a busy day, but always very fun. This year was no exception! I’m so happy I was able to be home and got to see everyone!

I also got to catch up with the ladies from high school and my friend Erin while I was in Kansas! I don’t make it home that much (and probably will even less so in the future), so it’s always so nice when our schedules coordinate and we can get a quick visit in.

Overall, it was a great trip back to Kansas. We got in some quality family time and had lots of good food–smoked turkey, smoked pork, prime rib, ham, and of course Chet’s (aka Dad) breakfasts. We sure were spoiled!


Yay! I finally finished this post! Now on to re-cap January…

October 2014 Recap

Oh, hello December! I’ve been meaning to get around to the recap posts for awhile (since I know those are the ones you really like to read Grandma ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), but I was really motivated to post some book reviews and recipes the past few weeks so I went with that instead. But never fear, the recaps are back!



I read 5 books in October, and they were all pretty good reads. I loved The Shadow of the Wind, and I also thought In Cold Blood and The Sun Also Rises were great as well. As of October 31, I have logged 48 books for the year!

Books read:

1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

2.ย The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot

3.ย Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

4. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

5.ย Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway


Recipes Posted:

1. Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup


I did pretty good in the fitness department in October. Obviously 64 isn’t as many miles as I might have liked, but it’s the best I’d done in several months!



Although we didn’t win the World Series (we came SO close), I still had a really great time watching the Royals! My parents happened to be visiting in early October, so I even got to take in a few games with them. I also gave myself a baseball inspired manicure!


This is not a great picture, but as you can see the lettering came out really nice. I also attempted to free-hand a baseball, but it didn’t turn out as well. It wasn’t my biggest nail-art fail, but it’s not really blog worthy. I’ll have to make another attempt during the next baseball season!


Fun things I did in October:

1) Attended a Northwestern Football game



Honestly, it was one of the more miserable football experiences I’ve had–it was cold, rainy, and windy. Yuck. It was all worth it in the end though because the cats pulled out a surprise win against Wisconsin!!!!


2) Celebrated Elizabeth’s birthday


Love this picture!

3) Attended Beth’s Wedding

K and I also traveled to Philadelphia in October to attend the wedding of our friends Beth and Andy. Neither of us had ever been to Philadelphia before (and honestly we spent almost no time in the city itself) but we thought the city was really pretty (from the train window) and that the public transportation was great.

The day of the wedding was a little chilly and rainy, but that didn’t stop these two from making the most of their big day. They had a beautiful ceremony and were greeted by a fountain of bubbles on the way out of the church.


Of course many of the bubble-blowers were scientists, and we were all really fascinated with how the bubbles clustered and didn’t pop on this bush…

10257720_10100559352569771_3416277451945756644_oThe reception was so nice and very well planned. We really enjoyed all the delicious food! ๐Ÿ™‚


Thanks for inviting us to your wedding Andy and Beth. We wish you many happy years together!



Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts (on a Friday) 39.0: September Recap

Well hello there! I’ve been working on this post for two weeks and it’s finally finished! Life is busy folks, but life is good. ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, I’d like to take a moment here just to say: THE ROYALS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOO!!!!!!! It’s been a long, long time coming and obviously I’m REALLY excited about it. Now, back to regularly scheduled programming…



After flying through 7 books in August, I read a much more modest 3 in September. Luckily, they were all good ones!

Books read:

1.ย A Little Bit Wicked by Kristen Chenoweth and Joni Rodgers

2. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

3. The Smart Way to Your Ph.D. by Dora Farkas


September…not my best month in the physical fitness department. Between group meetings, fellowship reports, traveling, and the gym being closed for part of the month it was difficult to find the time to fit a good workout in. Regardless, I did better than August. Boom.


As I mentioned last month, I have revised my 2014 fitness goal from completing 1000 miles of cardio to beating the total from last year (872 miles). As of the end of September, I have completed 553 miles. Only 320 to go….


I went to a lovely wedding in September (more on that below) and of course that gave me the perfect excuse to give myself a manicure! I splurged and bought myself this nice mint polish to match my dress.



Fun things I did in September:

1) Enjoyed a nice dinner at the Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. with K


2) Attended my cousin’s wedding in beautiful Steamboat Springs, CO

In late September, K and I traveled to the beautiful state of Colorado for my cousin Morgan’s wedding. We flew into Denver and were picked up by my parents at the airport (thanks guys!). Then, we began the beautiful and windy 2-3 hour-ish drive through the mountains. It was SO BEAUTIFUL and we made it in time to see the aspen trees begin to change color:


One thing that surprised me about the drive was how much the altitude affected me. I’d always kind of cynically assumed people were exaggerating when they complained of headaches, shortness of breath etc. Boy was I wrong–I had quite a headache for the first day. It went away eventually, but never again will I make light of the whole “altitude sickness” thing.


What a view!

After arriving at our hotel and checking in, we met up with my grandma and my aunt for dinner.

The next morning we took a short drive to Fish Creek Falls with my parents and my grandma. The drive up to the park was beautiful, and the entry fee is only $5 per car. There were several hiking trails, including a very nice and very mild 1/4 mile gravel trail up to the waterfall. We were mostly there to see the famous waterfall, which inspired in the original Coors Beer can, but the views along the way were well worth the $5 entry fee.




The falls!

That evening, after enjoying some family time at the rehearsal dinner, some of the family took advantage of one of our hotel’s fire pits. We had snacks and some drinks–it was a very nice time!


The wedding ceremony was held the next afternoon. The weather was beautiful for nearly the entire day, but an hour before the ceremony was to begin storm clouds moved in. Normally this wouldn’t be cause for alarm, but since the wedding was to be held outdoors on a golf course (with really beautiful views of the mountains) we were all hoping the weather would hold out. Regardless of these fears, the ceremony began. My grandma arrived in style on a golf cart (not pictured here) and was escorted down the aisle by my cousin Josh.


ย One of my favorite things about the ceremony was the couple’s use of their dog as a “ring dog.” So cute! I loved it!!!!


Finally it was time for the beautiful bride to walk down the aisle. She smiled the whole time and looked so happy!


The ceremony was lovely and the rain held off until just after the ceremony concluded. I’m so happy they got to have the ceremony they wanted without any nasty weather interfering.


The happy couple!


After the ceremony, we headed to the reception for some great food and good times with family.


Thanks for sharing your special day with us Morgan and Jeff. It was great!


Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts (on a Friday) 34.0: March Recap

Oh my–can it truly be April already??? March absolutely flew by! Admittedly the days seemed pretty long (I’m busier than ever at work) but the weeks seemed to be over before they even really started. Oh well. As usual, I wanted to take a few minutes to recap the the previous month. Although it was very busy, it was also full of some really good moments and a very relaxing (and much needed) trip home.



I read 5 books in March. I’m very happy with my reading progress so far this year–I’ve read 14 books already!

Books read:

1. Little Bee by Chris Cleave

2. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo

3. Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

4. Tell the Wolves Iโ€™m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

5. Middlemarch by George Eliot

Books Reviewed:

1. Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner

2. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe


After a very slow start, I’ve started to make progress toward my fitness goals for 2014. I’m still far behind where I’d like to be, but 74 miles is a big improvement over 43. To meet my 1000 mile goal for 2014, I need to hit about 105 miles a month from here on out. Admittedly, that’s a little bit daunting but it’s way too early to throw in the towel. Obviously I CAN put in over 100 miles in a month since I did it in April 2013. If I did it once that means I can do it 8 more times, right? RIGHT!?!? Even if I never meet this pie-in-the-sky goal of 100o miles, it’s still kind of fun trying to get there.



March Nail Art:


Base/Top Coat: Sally Hansen Clear’d for Takeoff

Nail Polish: Revlon Cherries in the Snow

Glitter Polish: Revlon Sparkling


Recipes Posted:

Easy Brown Bread


Fun things I did in March:

1) Hung out with other Ski Trip Orphans (we don’t do snow things):


2) Finally settled a bet over the outcome of the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (go Cats!):


First Snap I’ve ever saved…Worth it!

3) Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day


The best selfie I’ve ever taken

I had to have one green beer:


4) Took a very much needed, but very short, trip home

I had dinner with my good friend Erin. We’ve been friends for 20-some years now!


We took a day trip to Abilene to visit the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Of course before visiting the museum we had to stop at the Brookville Hotel for some delicious fried chicken:


Trust me it’s as good as it looks:


After lunch, we headed over to the Museum. The first stop on the tour was visiting President Eisenhower’s boyhood home:


Then, we headed to the library to watch a movie on the President’s life. Finally, we made it to the museum with only an hour left before closing. I got lost in the temporary exhibit (I’m one of those people who likes to read everything at a museum) and never even made it to the actual Eisenhower portion of the museum. Whoops–guess I’ll have to catch it next time!

5) Enjoyed a delicious dinner and good wine at Bin 36


Wine flights–what a great idea!

The lighting in the restaurant wasn’t ideal for pictures. The waiter took several pictures of us but none of them came out well. Regardless, I’m going to post this one anyway for posterity’s sake:


Don’t worry–even though we have demon eyes we still enjoyed ourselves!


Hope you had a good week and have a great weekend!

Thursday Thoughts 31.0

Happy 2014 everyone! I’m so excited to be getting in a Thursday Thoughts post on a Thursday without it being a monthly recap post. Now if only I can actually stick to this schedule every week in 2014…Ha! It probably won’t happen but a girl can always dream right? ๐Ÿ˜‰



Can I take a minute of your time and talk about how awful the weather has been? I’m sure you are sick of hearing about it, but I wanted to share some images my friend Dana took (since she is way braver than me) of Chicago-land (i.e. “Chiberia”) during the so-called “polar vortex.”ย  They do an excellent job of showcasing the extremely harsh, but strangely beautiful conditions we have been dealing with:


Photo Credit: Dana


Photo Credit: Dana

The past week has been without a doubt the coldest weather I have experienced in my life, and I wouldn’t mind at all if I never did again. The good news is we might hit near 40 F this weekend–it’ll practically feel like summer weather!


After having a wonderful and relaxing break over the holidays, I’ve been trying to get back in the swing of things at work. I have set some ambitious goals for myself this year, namely getting a manuscript completed soon, and I’m trying to stick to my daily “to-do” list to get things done. Hopefully I can keep at it, and 2014 will be a productive year for me.


New Years Nail Art:


Base/Top Coat: Sally Hansen Flawless

Nail polish: Sally Hansen Midnight in NY, Essie Good as Gold, Essie Silver Bullions


Last weekend, before the terrible cold moved in, I finally got to meet my sister’s BFF Tanya


I had heard so much about her, and it was awesome to finally meet her. We had a great time talking and ate delicious guacamole and tacos at Mercadito.


On Sunday we played our first game of Battlestar Galactica. It was a very (very) unlucky game for the humans (of which I was one).


So many cylon ships attacking us!!!!

Needless to say, we (the humans) didn’t win but I still had a great time.


Hope the new year is treating you right!

Thursday Thoughts 30.0: December Recap

It seems like every time I turn around another month has gone by…December in particular was CRAZY. The first two-ish weeks were overtaken by work, work, and more work. Also, (as you’ll see) I went to a few holiday parties :P. Overall it’s been a great December (even though it went by too fast) and generally a fantastic year. 2013 TOTALLY made up for the rough patch I had in 2012. I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for me…but before I get too ahead of myself I’ll take a look back at December ’13.



Books read:

1. Beloved by Toni Morrison

2. Animal Farm by George Orwell

3. Enemies: A History of the FBIย  by Tim Weiner

4. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (almost finished)

I’m going to fall short of the 52 book goal I set for myself this year, but at 47 I’d still say I came awful close!


Well I’m going to fall short of the 1000 mile goal this year:


Obviously it’s a little disappointing to not meet this goal, but honestly I’m not that upset about it. This was the first year I’ve really stuck with any fitness goals I set for myself, and know that I was MUCH more active than I’ve been in previous years. So even though I didn’t meet the goal, I still feel like I accomplished what I set out to do (which was to be more active). I plan to set the same goal for myself next year…we’ll see how I do!


Fun things I did in December (and oh boy there were a lot of them!):

1) Attended The Graduate School Holiday Party


Appetizers, live music, and socializing with good friends

2) Attended a holiday wine tasting


Lovely ladies with Alex photobombing in the background

3) Played one last game of Battlestar Galactica in 2013


4) Enjoyed a holiday party with my labmates


I’m lucky to work with a good group of people!

4) Traveled to my college town for a visit and got to enjoy tea OUTSIDE in December


Beautiful Day in the ‘Ville

5) Enjoyed catching up with some lovely ladies I went to high school with


6) Had Christmas with my family at home


7) Went cross country skiing for the first time ever (and I didn’t die!)


8) Enjoyed some quality time with this guy


Oh hiiiiiiiiii

9) Saw lots and lots (and lots) of snow in the UP



Hope you had a very happy holiday season and a great new year!

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