Monday, December 31, 2012

In which the world does not end (again)

I sure dodged a bullet back on the 21st when the world was going to end or some such nonsense. I drove home from Purdue that day and saw lots of cars in ditches, but the world didn't end. Phew. Since I'm still alive, this means that I can make New Year's resolutions for 2013 and, more importantly, see how I did with 2012's goals.

What did I resolve to do? Well:
  • Stop being late to basically everything. Hrm. Well. I think I was doing better (for a while). 
  • Pass area exams and become a bona fide PhD student! Teehee. Still working on this one :( 
  • Have my prelim defense either done or scheduled by Christmas. Bahahaha. See previous resolution. 
  • ROAD TRIP! Probably to Rocky Mountain National Park (sans Manwich) DONE! Still working on the posts to recap the trip... 
  • Run a marathon (and not Oprah-run either...) DONE! Qualified for Boston too! BAM. 
  • 2500 miles for this year! DONE! Up to 2600+ :) 
  • Be the absolutely bestest friend I can be...so no more mail slacking this year! Maybe I'll even get a monthly update email together! DONE! (I think) Even if I did mail out J's Christmas present a teensy tiny little bit late and may have forgotten K's birthday... 
  • I will stop dicking around with Rhapsody in Blue and learn the entire thing. Yeah. About that...I did start to learn clarinet though...

Meh. I guess 50% isn't bad, right? Let's see what's up for this new year!

My 2013 New Year's Resolutions/Goals:
  • Pass area exams and become a bona fide PhD student!
  • Have my prelim defense DONE by the end of summer semester
  • Run another marathon in less than 3 hours and 20 minutes
  • Learn how to play the clarinet
  • Run at least 3 miles every single day of 2013
  • Since I am single (according to the IRS and wedding reception DJs), I'm going to catch at least one bouquet at a wedding
  • Take another road trip! Possibly the East Coast this time? We'll see :)
Happy New Year to you all! Good luck with your goals, and may we avoid 'end of the world' predictions in 2013.



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012


Merry Christmas from Mannie and Sharona! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Road trip day 3

Finally...Colorado!

Staying in Fort Collins meant that we had to drive to Estes Park and RMNP every day. That meant driving this road ------>
to get to this sign
<---------------



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 2: There's not much to Kansas

 Nope, just a whole lot of flat. The second (and last) run in Salina was quite the adventure. We picked up a very friendly dog about halfway out on our out-and-back loop. I figured that eventually the dog would get tired and go home.

Nope.

Eventually we decided that road tripping with not our dog was probably a bad idea, so we stopped a van getting ready to leave to ask if they knew whose dog we had been running with. Turns out, it was their dog and it would have probably run all the way to Fort Collins with us.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I am grad student-y

"Yes, there are aspects of grad school that could be improved...but despite the obvious downsides, many people go to grad school because that’s the kind of people they are. Grad student-y."


No, it's not a trip summary (either of them), but this is a good article. READ IT.

http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2012_09_28/caredit.a1200108

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day 1: Missouri is fat

So, this one time, my friend Lemke and I drove 2/3 of the way across the country in two days. We waited a weekish, then did it again.

Now that my life has settled down a little bit, I can finally share all the wonderful details of my road trip adventure to Colorado! I'm only a little over two months behind in my retelling....

The trip starts after the break.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The purpose of desire

Desire is like the burning firewood of life, without which there would be no light and no heat. You will not necessarily get what you want. Obstacles, disappointment, and failure are like a set of fireplace tools, which poke and prod your desire to burn more intensely. In the end, ashes are all that will remain. Whether you were able to fulfill your desire is irrelevant. What matters is whether your desire provided warmth and illumination in your life.

-- "Daily Scoldings", Beryl Barclay; September 20

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Grüße aus Deutschland

I made it to Heidelberg without any issues, aside from a paralyzing fear of getting lost in a country where I speak just a few key phrases:

  • Excuse me.
  • I don't speak German.
  • Do you speak English?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Where is the toilet?
Best foreign language experiences of the trip so far have involved my brain short-circuiting and defaulting to Spanish, and yesterday morning when someone hopped out of their car and asked me for directions as I was starting my run. I was still able to help them (especially since they realized I didn't speak German - my blank stare probably gave that away - but they did speak English), so go team directions!

I have tons of awesome pictures, including most of the awesome food I've been eating. When I get home and get done with quals, I will recap my Colorado adventure, rehash my trip to Germany, and share some tasty new recipes. Right now, I should probably get back to being a super nerd. Presentation on Thermally Induced Breakup of Levitated Droplets coming up next!

Monday, August 20, 2012

First day of school, round 21

Today was my 21st first day of school.

Today was the first day of my fourth year at Purdue. This, after four years at Ohio Northern, four years at Lancaster HS, two years at Thomas Ewing, six years at Medill, and one glorious year at St. B's.

Recently, I've been kinda bummed because all my friends are posting Facebook statuses about getting married/engaged, buying houses, adopting dogs, things like that. I'm posting about my first day of school, but I'm also boring everyone with my constant OMG GERMANY posts as well (oh, and that trip to Colorado). But today, oh today, as I walked down the hill next to Ross-Ade, I was excited. I don't remember being excited about a first day of school for a while now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Of marathons and other things

My last real blog post (sorry for all the pre-packaged stuff, done way back in the day when I still had free time) was, uh, quite a while ago. (I'm not counting my blurb about hot Olympian abs.)

My life is currently very entrenched in Busy Grad Student mode. This means that while I'm juggling duties as a grad student organization president and running store employee, I'm also trying to be a good running coach for the store training group, get ready for classes (they start MONDAY omg what happened to summer), be a good friend (hello there mail!), and run.

Last week I ran 70 miles. This is a down week currently, but the next two weeks, I'm planning on running 75 and 80ish miles. Oh, and I'll be in Germany for a teensy little bit of that.

I have a little over 9 weeks until the Columbus Marathon. I can confidently say that I am nervous at this point. My training plan didn't come from a book or a coach or anything. It's quite the franken-plan thanks to three or four different sources. I'm scared that I will break my legs and that somehow this marathon will make me hate running. At the same time, marathon running could be my secret badass talent and I'll completely beast the race, beat lots of boys, and magically end up with Shalene Flanagan abs.

Until mid-October, though, I'll attempt to curb my ice cream sandwich addiction, keep my sanity, and log my miles. I'm sure that after the experience is done, I'll have lots of fun running posts. Maybe I'll even have grossy pictures of epic blisters, lost/black toenails, and chafing in spots you didn't know could be rubbed/rub like that.

I promise that a road trip recap is coming soon. (I gotta get that last trip out of the way before I can blog about my European adventure.) Post-Germany (and area exams), I promise lots of tasty recipes. Maybe more Mannie posts too. He's feeling quite left out of the bloggity blog lately, poor thing.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

DIY granola bars

Oh pumpkin. You are just so much fun. I can carve funny (or scary) faces into you. I can turn you into a pie. I can roast your innards and eat them as a snack. So much fun stuff! Sorry if you're getting pumpkin overload, but I love these granola bars. I like the chewy variety more than the crunchy kind, but they're always so sugary. Not so with these! If it weren't for the honey, they'd be vegan as well. And of course anything with chocolate has to be good too, right? Right. Mix up a batch, throw one in your bag for an afternoon snack, or pack it in your lunch for a healthy dessert. Just try to share at least one (or two if you're generous) with your friends or family...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Most Excellent Cake

Oh. My. Goodness.

Ms. Smitten pulled me in with this cake. The pictures on her website are stupefying. So many layers. I read through the recipe: so much chocolate. So many eggs. So much sugar.


My next thought? I MUST MAKE THIS. Of course!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I should do what now?

I survived my trip to Colorado, just in case you were wondering. (I've had prescheduled posts for a while now...)

I promise that I will share all the lovely details of my road trip.

Eventually.

But now...THE OLYMPICS. Ryan Lochte is pretty darn cute, no? And those volleyball guys aren't bad either. What could be better than lots of in-shape men in very tight spandex? Certainly not a recap of my vacation, that's for sure...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Walnut Crusted Chicken

I'm pretty sure this is what my mom made me for my birthday dinner this past January. I have absolutely no complaints. (My birthday dinner also featured a German Chocolate cake and at least one candle...success!). The Dijon mustard gives the chicken a fun kick, and the walnuts add interesting texture and just a tiny bit of sweetness. The chicken comes out crispy on the outside and really juicy on the inside...and this recipe is super fast and easy!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beans, beans, the musical fruit!

The seester is a vegetarian, all the way back to her high school days. While I'm not on board the good ship VeggiesOnly, I'm not averse to eating veggie burgers and I certainly don't need a steak or burger every day. That being said, veggie burgers (Boca, MorningStar, etc.) are kind of expensive. You know what's not expensive?

Beans.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Salsa time!

I really really really like fresh salsa. Or fresh guacamole. Or fresh anything vegetable-y, really. So when I found a good, relatively easy recipe for salsa, of course I had to try it! The hardest part is just taking the time to chop everything up. When I made this particular batch, I enlisted the help of the seester (who is the lovely hand modeling proper chip-holding form in the last picture). With farmer's markets bursting with fresh produce right now, this is a perfect cookout dish!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fancy pants in the kitchen

This recipe has a fancy name, but it's actually pretty easy to make. If you're scared of eggplant (like I am!), then you can easily substitute chicken instead. I think the actual dish involves pasta? I served my chickeny bits with some spaghetti and lots o' sauce. Yum :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 4th of July

The past two years, I've spent the 4th of July with family friends up in Chicago. Since the 4th is a Wednesday this year (weird work week, what?), I decided to stay in WL. This meant that I could finally participate in my first Lafayette Citizen's Band concert!

We had 4 hours of rehearsal this evening. Outside. In the sun, then in the buggy darkness.

If you are less than 2 hours away, you better be at the concert tomorrow night. (We start at 8pm.) I sweated my buns off for your entertainment!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A recipe for Charlie Brown

I love pumpkin. The best part of Thanksgiving dinner? Pumpkin pie (and dressing/stuffing). Tastiest quick bread? Pumpkin. I'm sad when people assume that pumpkin is just a fall flavor. Maybe they're right, but this Pumpkin Bread Pudding was pretty delicious when I made it for dessert on Monday night (and breakfast/snacks/dessert the rest of the week!).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The littlest worm

I remember this awesome song from my Girl Scout days:

The littlest worm (The littlest worm)
I ever saw (I ever saw)
Was stuck inside (Was stuck inside)
My soda straw (My soda straw)
The littlest worm I ever saw was stuck inside my soda straw

Subsequent verses have the worm pleading for mercy, the singer swallowing the worm and then lamenting his inevitable drowning, the singer coughing up the worm and hiding him in the counselor's bed, and then saying good bye to the poor dead little worm.

This probably ranks right up there with 'Alice the Camel' for favorite camp songs.

Oddly enough, the women's restroom in my lab building reminds me of the worm song.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Food Baby


Sometimes lots of small things (three, in this case) come together into a not-so-small thing (this blog post!), and then an idea that's been rolling around in your brain for a while suddenly becomes an actual coherent thing.

Monday, June 18, 2012

uh.greed.*

SO MANY THINGS:

1. It seems that my 'regular' posting schedule of Sundays has now shifted to Mondays.

2. It is HOT.

3. There are so many Recipes of (Potentially) Epic Proportions that I would love to make right now but can't because of 2. although the cheapskate in me loves the fact that having the A/C set at 80 feels divine. 80! Why is this? SEE 2.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I feel like a hobo

Fear not, faithful readers! I'm still alive! The past couple of weeks have been crazy-busy, but this last week was the craziest of them all.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

How to walk your cat

I've lived in my current apartment complex for almost two whole years now. Manwich has been my partner in crime for almost three years, so he obviously made then move to my new digs by WalMart. If you follow this blog with any regularity, you know that I really like to run. A lot. Really. Really.

Sometimes Mannie decides he wants to enjoy the great out of doors with me post-run as I sit and stretch on the patio. After trying to fish my cat out of bushes (or from under a neighbor's SUV or out of the neighbor's bushes), I decided to buy him a harness and leash. (These items also have the benefit of making the 5 hour drive home bearable. Not enjoyable necessarily, but I don't want to kill and skin Manwich by the time we hit Richmond.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

O-H

Ah, back home in Ohio.

Ohio, the Buckeye State:
Where they welcome you with a giant blue arch on I-70, there's at least one orange construction barrel for everyone over 16, and the drivers all signal their lane changes or turns....and then keep reminding you of what they just did for the next two miles.

It's good to be home (for a bit)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Life of a grad student, Part the First

My current life dilemma:

Which is more important? Clean silverware/dishes/being able to see my counter? Or clean laundry?

Forks win. I still have enough socks and undies to get me through the weekend. I can't spoon chicken stir-fry or manicotti. Then again, maybe I can...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lazy bum!

SO.

This week.

I guess I should actually rewind to this past Saturday instead. I was sweet talked by Mr. K (back in November, no less) into running the Indy Mini Marathon. The last time I ran this particular 13.1 mile course was back in 2010, during my first year at Purdue. It was my second-ever half marathon and I was super excited. An opportunity to PR! Run a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway! Stay with my semi-professional runner friend in Indy!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Year's, Part II

If y'all can remember back to January (or just go here if you're like me and are doing good to remember your name and which apartment is yours some days...), I made a rather ambitious set of New Year's resolutions. Since we're already in to May, let's see how I'm doing, shall we?

Monday, April 30, 2012

My kingdom for a cookie

Hokay. So.

A little while ago I was all about these guys and going on about how tasty they were, and how easy to make, and all sorts of positive nonsense.

THEN

I found a recipe for....

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's ok, I'm special

This has been a crazy week for me.

I had the final exam for my class (only one!) this semester yesterday. It kinda sucked.

I've been working my buns off on a conference paper since last weekend. The paper was supposed to be due by Germany midnight on Sunday. Then Germany midnight on Monday. Now Germany midnight today.

This weekend is the official grand opening for my Happy Place of Employment. They're hosting a 'fun run' at 9am and the store opens at 10am. Originally, I agreed to pick up a noon to 6pm shift, but now I'm supposed to do the entire day. And show up for the fun run if I can.

In light of all of this, I decided to not go to the lab today and instead stalk my email from the comfort of sweatpants and my couch. Unfortunately, this also means that I annihilated the remainder of my off-brand Oreos. (One lonely cookie left. I can't stuff my mouth and type at the same time, and I really don't want to drip milk or get crumbs in my keyboard. His time is short...)

It also means that I can spend time fostering my unnatural Solitaire habits. Are you unable to stop playing until you've won a game? And it can't be the first game, because that's just lucky and it totally doesn't count? No? You can stop whenever you want to? Too bad. You're missing all the fun of bouncy cards :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I'm only going to do this once. Probably.


So.

Some people have noble and/or lofty life goals like finding a cure for cancer, climbing Mt. Everest, or riding their bike across the country. Other people are all about volunteering every other weekend or donating blood often enough that they can measure their lifetime total in gallons.

Me?

I donated my hair this weekend:


Yup, a whole entire foot of hair. I think it took me about 3 years to grow it out to this point. I did get it trimmed and whatnot, but I haven't had a Big Change Haircut in, uh, quite a while...

Needless to say, my head felt a bit naked after my ponytail got chopped off. To my credit, I didn't cry at the salon (or even think about crying, honestly). I think K got tired of hearing me say 'IT'S SO SHORT!' for the rest of the day (and today, too), but he's such a good sport that he won't say anything about it :)

The ponytail is currently sealed up in an envelope waiting for me to mail it off to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program on Monday. See ya later, hair!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A 'good things' trifecta

I am a big fan of things I can make lots of, then stick half of it in the freezer, forget about it, then celebrate dinner Christmas when I uncover it a month or two down the road :) I am also a fan of veggies that hide in less healthy things (like peppers in cream cheese). I'm the biggest fan of any kind of pasta, though, so to find a recipe that hits three wonderful things (lots! sneaky veggies! carbs!) is pretty amazing.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Productivity: Culinary arts > Engineering

This past week (7 days week, not 'starting Sunday to Saturday' week) has been pretty spectacular in terms of cooking/baking/being culinarily crafty: new broccoli recipe, new cinnamon roll recipe, procurement of a pineapple, making of a pasta dish, and baking of an impromptu cake.

In the spirit of organization, I'll share my adventures with you in chronological order, starting with The Broccoli. This is one recipe where I wouldn't mind being a vegetarian (even though I don't think that the best part of a cow is its moo) and I'd be content to eat broccoli every day for the foreseeable future.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Le sigh...

For the second week in a row now, I have somehow managed to misplace large chunks of my Thursday. Next thing I know, it's almost 10:30, I'm baking cinnamon rolls, I'm still disgusting from my run, and I haven't eaten dinner.

I had two great recipes for y'all today, but it's late and I'm tired and I haven't gotten anything ready to face my Friday (or the weekend, for that matter). I'm waiting on my last load of laundry to finish up so I can throw it in the dryer and throw myself into my cozy bed.

Until I can actually be bothered to post another recipe (with pictures from my new-to-me camera), I'll give you pictures of the Manwich. Now that it's warming up, it's Belly Sprawl Season!

This is my belly. You may rub it, but only until I try to bite your hand off...

If it's horizontal and mostly stationary, I can claim it, right? Right.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dear Spring, I miss you...

Since Mother Nature seems to have skipped right to June and West Lafayette currently feels more like somewhere Down South (Florida, maybe?), Jambalaya seemed like a delicious option for dinner this evening.

IN OTHER NEWS (relating to cookies, of course, because what other news would I have in my life?): I made yet another batch of the most delicious cookies, this time adding 2 cups of oats instead of just one. Aside from my oven doing wonky things (and a cookie sheet that was unwilling to let go of cookies after the first batch), they turned out even better than the first few batches I've made. I think I'll try dried fruit at some point, possibly white chocolate chips, and maybe (just maybe!) adding those stupid pecans. Maybe.

Read on for an actual recipe!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Om nom nom nom

DID YOU KNOW: Cookie Monster's favorite cookie is the chocolate chip variety (with oatmeal coming in second). Basically, these are Cookie Monster Cookies.

I am glad I didn't give up desserts for Lent. These cookies are the most addictive things I've ever baked. I got back from a 14 mile run yesterday and promptly ate at least 4 of them. I just cannot stop eating them. They're better than normal chocolate chip cookies and way better than oatmeal raisin cookies. Basically, you'll never want to try anything else again because These Are It.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
8 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. quick-cooking oats
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips



REAL BUTTER. No cheating...
Preheat oven to 350.




Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla, and beat until well-mixed, about 3 minutes.






Stir in eggs, one at a time.









This is the perfect time for quality control
Stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a separate bowl. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture with the mixer on low speed. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the other other half. Hand-stir in remaining ingredients.







Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 5-6 minutes, then transfer to wire cooling rack.

Watch out. They're dangerous.

--

This recipe originally called for 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/8 tsp cloves but I don't have cloves (seriously who does?), so they didn't get invited to the cookie party. You also have the option of adding 2 c. of chopped pecans, but since we all know how I feel about nuts in cookies/brownies/cake/bread, they got the cold shoulder as well. AND the (completely optional, according to me) 2 tsp orange zest. But only because I haven't had an orange either time I've made these cookies BUT I really want to zest an orange. Someday...

Friday, March 9, 2012

French, really?

'Casserole' is a French (never would have guessed) word meaning one type of dish for cooking in. I think it just means 'throw all your random leftovers together to create dinner magic'. (Also: 'smorgasboard' comes from the Swedish terms for 'bread and butter table'. Apparently. I learned this at trivia last night, but the guy reading the questions couldn't get Chris Bosch's name out correctly, and he butchered the pronunciation of "aurora borealis" so I could be getting my random trivia info all mixed up...)

Anyhoo...

For my first 'real food' post-surgery meal, I decided a casserole would be a good idea. This one's from way back in my 4H days, so it doesn't really have a name. Then again, you're probably not going to name something that's a mismash of whatever you have hanging around the kitchen, right?

Nameless Casserole
Says it serves 4, but y'all better be hungry...
1 lb. cooked ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, whatever...leftovers, remember?)
2 c. cooked wide egg noodles (I'm sure you could use any type of small pasta)
2 c. frozen peas, cooked and drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients except cheese. Placed in a (greased, if you want to) 2 quart casserole dish and top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Pre-baked casserole....mmmm

I promise I'll have better recipes and a really fun how-to coming up soon. Spring Break is next week here at Purdue, so maybe I'll find my motivation and get it together :)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bonus day ≠ bonus post

Dear readers,

I'm a terrible blogger. I made these amazing cookies. Really. Amazing. I can't stop eating them.

Instead of remembering to take pictures so I could blog about them to y'all later, I just wanted to eat them, nice and hot and fresh out of the oven. This might have been because I felt like baking cookies at 1am Monday morning. It might have been because I'm such a mean, terrible person.

This weekend should prove to be full of FUN and EXCITEMENT. If I survive, I promise that I'll share the recipe for the World's Most Habit-Forming Cookies. It involves quick oats, so they're kinda healthy right? Exactly.

Yours truly,

Sharona


Thursday, February 23, 2012

I love you but...

We all harbor love/hate relationships. Some people love chocolate...but it makes them fat. Other people love scrapbooking...but their sister's neighbor's sister-in-law does it better. In college, I knew some people who loved running...but not track season.

Me?

In high school, I never even wasted my energy on pretending to have a love/hate relationship. I hated track. I sucked. I was slow. I got the pity clap, and there was nowhere on that stupid 400m oval of crushed rubber to hide my shame and slow, slow legs.

But then...

Along came college. All of a sudden, track wasn't just one season long but two. I told myself I'd just run cross country (never mind the fact that this is what Drew Wilson also did, and the guys crucified him. I'm not a guy, obviously, but girls can be just as mean as guys, only with less humor and more self-loathing if you are the target.) This is how I got sucked into indoor track. I managed to avoid the 800 (outside of workouts) and only ran the 1000 a couple of times. I believe Maus made a very kind-to-me comment about how 'well, at least we know that you're not a middie, let's try the mile next week' and I wanted to hug him and make him all the cookies.

Finally:

Outdoor season came. I was intimately acquainted with the joys (read: HS mortification) of the 800 on my good friend Outdoor Track. I vowed to never race one for fear that all the bad memories of high school would come back to haunt me and the next thing you know, I'd be curled up in the fetal position, twitching away in lane 1. The beauty that is the 10K replaced the gaping, festering hole in my track psyche instead. Instead of two laps of mortification, there were 25 glorious laps. Time to bask in the sunshine, have your teammates go take that really necessary poo, and for you to run through states and their capitols in your head. Or positive split that sucker and spend the next 15 minutes of your life wondering what on earth you did wrong besides race like an idiot.

Obviously I had a love/hate relationship with track at this point.

Running on a red track...
...or the blood of its victims?

In the course of a typical indoor/outdoor combo season, my thought process went something roughly like this:
January: Son of a biscuit, I hate indoor. I can't breathe.
February: It's so warm inside! I love watching it snow as I run! Yay!
March: Farrrrrrrt. Outside is cold.
I wish I could have bundled up this much
April: Yay! 10K! Conference!
May: Wait. What? Track is done?! CROSS COUNTRY TIME!

Since graduation, my track season has consisted of 1-2 indoor meets, lots of indoor workouts, and 2 (or so) actual outdoor track races. At this point, track and I are best buds, probably because we don't spend enough time around each other to get to the point where I want to kill Track and say Mean Hurtful Things because, darn it all, I should be running faster and why is it always windy?




Right now, track and I are on very good terms. 

BFFs!
I love you track, but I know that you will be a cruel, cruel mistress come March (and possibly April, but we'll take it one month at a time). At least let me love chocolate in peace, ok?


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's dinner for one

Back to our regularly scheduled (Regular? Who am I kidding...) food programming!


It's been a crazy past few weeks out here at Purdue. Good thing Valentine's Day happened after area exams. Otherwise somebody would have probably found me in a sugar-induced food coma due to overindulging on February 15 from 50% off holiday candy...

Since I was cooking for one on Valentine's this year, I decided I was going to make an effort to do something nice for dinner. (Nice being not soup from a can or ordering pizza.) I ended up making this chicken along with steamed broccoli and garlic mashed potatoes (since I wouldn't be kissing anyone, it didn't matter how garlic-y they were). This is a pretty easy recipe and you end up with really juicy, tasty chicken. Enjoy!

Pan Fried Chicken

1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 - 3 1/2 lb. cut up chicken (boneless, skinless, bone-in, skin on, doesn't matter)
Vegetable oil

In a shallow dish, mix flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Coat chicken with flour mixture.
Spices can be so pretty
In a 12" nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat (put enough to coat the skillet, then add just a little more). Cook chicken in oil (skin side down if that's what you have) about 10 minutes, or until light brown. Turn chicken over and cook (without turning again) until chicken juice is clear when you cut the thickest part.

I used too much oil...oops.

(If you're only making about a pound of chicken, cut all the quantities in half.)


Friday, February 10, 2012

Sharks and minnows

I feel like Purdue brings out the inner "that guy" in many engineering graduate students as they slowly (some more slowly than others) realize that they are no longer a big fish in a small pond. Or even a big fish in a big pond. They are now a minnow in a shark tank...and this really, really bothers them. Uh oh. Many minnows (those guys) decide they can either make themselves bigger minnows (so impressive?) or smaller minnows (so pitiful?).


Type A: Bigger Minnow
These people might have pretty hot stuff in their circle of friends at Undergrad U. Maybe they played guitar (in a band? extra points!). Maybe they studied/traveled abroad and every other story when you first get to know them begins with "So this one time in Argentina...". Maybe they just  feel better if they're the center of attention. These are usually the folks that love to name drop. Doesn't matter what you're talking about, they'll always find a way to one-up the conversation. I feel like this is usually in attempt for the non-Alpha males to pee on bushes and attract females. Ladies, I'm not sure about y'all, but I don't like pee, especially if it's not mine. If I find myself in the middle of a male pissing match, I just really want to hit things. Preferable the peeing males. In their faces. With my fist.

Clues you're dealing with a Bigger Minnow:

  • This is the same software that NASA/Pixar/Disney/Steven Spielberg/Boeing uses!
  • Oh, that's nothing...(begin story here, usually only made better by the fact that it ends, possibly with the phrase 'and then I found five dollars')
  • I'll contribute a random fact! This fact isn't really a fact because I know nothing about this subject other than you're talking about it! Look! I'm part of this conversation now!
  • I was a fan of that band/food/mode of transportation before it was cool. I was so ahead of that, I came out of the womb as a fan...
I do believe the phrase 'douche canoe' will adequately describe those in advanced stages of Bigger Minnowness. 

Type B: Smaller Minnow
Smaller Minnows attempt to win over their circles with a pity party. (I met a lot of closet Smaller Minnows in the fall while some of the MEs were studying for area exams then.) The only parties I like involve food, music, and fun/cutesy party favors. If your party does not have at least one of these items in abundance, it's not a party. Sorry.

If these folks are really good, they'll probably make you feel guilty about skipping their study session to bury your dead cat. Somehow, their life always sucks just a little bit more than yours does. I'm not going to supply you with clues to see if you're dealing with a Smaller Minnow or not. Usually they smell like despair and/or sadness and have dark circles under their eyes, right above their nonexistant and/or ironic smile. 

I'll sadly admit that I occasionally find myself sliding down the slippery slope to Smaller Minnowdom, but (thankfully) someone catches me before I feed myself to the sharks. Usually this is in a feeble attempt for free food. Sometimes I get dinner. Sometimes I just make myself feel like a terrible person. 




If you're an awesome human being, you don't care about how big of a minnow you are. If you just keep swimming, all the big minnows will end up on fishhooks and all the small minnows will be eaten. Eventually you'll outgrow your minnow pond and Purdue will spit you into a nice ornamental landscaping pool where you can spend the rest of your days having people throw pennies and duck food at your head. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why, hello there!

Yes! It's really me! I'm back, honest-to-goodness! I made it through my PhD qualifying exams in one entire piece. That doesn't mean that I've gotten rid of my baggy raccoon eyes, lost the 5-10 pounds of chocolate/candy/sucky diet/stress weight I've gained, or reclaimed my cozy bed as my snuggle buddy

BUT

I did return ALL of my study materials to the lab. This means I have a kitchen table. On which to decorate cutout cookies.

Insomnia leads to some crazy ideas, so I'll have some pretty good blog posts over the next few weeks. So glad I'm back to normal grad student life :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I need a hand

I'm down to three non-stubbly fingernails. (This is why I need spare hands...)

I have a lovely stress-induced mountain on my face.

I collected quite the handful of hair in the shower this morning.

I made brownies this evening and have eaten my way through one row of them.

Why?

Because I have area exams starting on Monday! Then Friday! Then the following Thursday! And I am rubbish at dealing with test stress. I need to keep running so I a.) will relieve some stress and b.) will remember to shower. If you see me, please give me a toothbrush and set your phone alarm for 15 minutes and put me down for a power nap. 

See ya in a couple weeks, fair readers. I need to go conquer some stuff...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Carpe diem: seize the fish

A friend from ONU posted this on his Facebook wall. Since I'm all for procrastinating via interesting (or not) web articles, I settled in for a good read. I have to agree with my friend: I like this. And I'm not even a parent!

Why?

I felt like everyone was telling me this every other day while I was in college at Ohio Northern. Oh! College was the best 3/4/5 years of my life! Enjoy this experience because you'll never have anything else like it again! The real world is cruel and harsh and unforgiving, so screw around and take advantage of your lack of responsibility now!

Now, don't get me wrong and jump to the conclusion that I was an introvert who hated college. Au contraire! I loved college. I was involved in so many (too many?) things and tried my darndest to squeeze every cent out of my college tuition/experience. Late night runs to Mac or Taco Bell? Check. Drinks on my 21st at the Beagle? Check (but about 3 months late...whatever). Collegiate athletics? Check, check, check. Music? Sports? Sorority involvement? Girl Scouts? Mortar Board? Academic honoraries? Done-skis. Great roommate experience? But of course! If ONU ever needed a white American female to sell it, I'm your girl.

Don't get me wrong. The BEST YEARS EVER had their downs too. Terrible homesickness as a freshman? Oh yeah. Late nights and tears over homework, counseling sessions to help manage my fear of change, and some heartbreak made things spicy. But at the ripe old age of 22, college was definitely the shiny cherry on top of my life sundae.

And then...grad school happened. Unlike many of my friends, I did not find my ~*tru luv*~ in undergrad. I headed off to Purdue with a boyfriend (in another state far, far away), a trailer full of my life, and a gnawing hamster of fear in the back of my brain. Then I met Jen. And Paul (both of them). And found a great church. And started getting involved in Purdue and community groups. And I got a cat. The boyfriend faded out. I started running like a madwoman. I was stressed out more than I ever was at ONU but the result was a Master's degree and a couple of conference presentations.

So here I am at 25. I don't have a sparkly ring or 2.3 kids or a house with a white picket fence. Instead I have a small apartment, great friends, a newly found unicorn, and a big furry cat. My relationships with my parents and sister are way better now than when I was in college. I have new friends and old friends and friends with husbands and kids and dogs and friends who are still trying to find their other half. Some days I feel that fear hamster gnawing away at my mind, telling me that I'll die an old lonely cat lady or that I'm going to fail out of school. Other days I'm practically peeing my pants because I'm laughing so hard at what my friends are doing, or I'm enjoying a night out on the town with a bunch of fellow grad students because it's the summer and the undergrads are finally gone.

At 22, I guess college probably was the best time of my life. If that's as good as life got, I'd be a sad, sad panda right now. I guess all those 'carpe diem!'-ers never got the experience of grad school, or even life as a single post-college adult. There's something a little exhilarating (and scary, yes) about life on your own. I know that once I find a career I love and a guy I love that my life is going to get even better. But until then, I'm going to seize that fish, appreciate what I have, and enjoy the best time of my life: right now.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

On this day in history...

...lots of famous people were born, people like Shannon Lucid, LL Cool J, and Andy Rooney (pick your famous based on your age). I'm not famous, but I am celebrating the big quarter-century mark today!

Now, I ask you, what would a birthday be without a fun recipe? A big pile of lame, that's what. To keep my birthday from being lame, here's a recipe that my mom usually only makes at Christmas, so it's kind of a big deal. I made it last weekend (with a slight modification) to kick-start my birthday celebration (because a big surprise showed up at my door). I ended up eating Bubble Bread for breakfast every day this week and it was probably the best week of breakfast (except for that time I went to Portugal...)

Bubble Bread
2 loaves frozen bread dough, thawed (stick in the fridge and wait a day...it must be thawed)
1 box (4 serving size) butterscotch (or vanilla if WalMart fails you and doesn't have butterscotch) pudding mix -- NOT INSTANT!!!! (cook and serve style)
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) melted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. milk

Cube dough (use a pair of scissors to make it easy) and put into a 13"x9" pan. Mix remaining ingredients well and pour over dough cubes. Let rise 30 minutes. Bake 30 minutes at 350*F. Enjoy!

Nom nom nom...so easy and so delicious :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is this normal?

I just unsubscribed from all types of Groupon emails since I'm too far away from Indy for them to be actually useful. Apparently Groupon was so sorry to see me go, they gave me the option to 'punish Derrick'. (Derrick was 'the guy who though you'd enjoy receiving Groupon emails'.) There was a 'punish Derrick' button and everything.

I was a little weirded out by this.

So: Are the folks at Groupon nuts? Am I the crazy one? Most importantly, is this normal?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm so serious guys!


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 2600 miles. 9 states. 14 days?

I have friends at every stop except Rapid City, SC SD (Mt. Rushmore and Badlands) and Cawker City, KS (huge twine ball). I should probably eat at some crazy places too.

I think I need a SpeedyRewards card and more music. And some sunscreen.

I AM SO EXCITED. Bring it on, summer...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

In which the world does not end

With all the 'The world will end in 2012 according to the Mayans!' press going on, I can't help but be reminded of all the crazy surrounding 2000 and how the world was going to end then because somehow computers wouldn't be smart enough to handle all those zeros. (As my dad likes to point out, the computer is only as smart as its builder/programmer. I can't think of anyone whose head exploded because they either a.) couldn't handle 2000 or b.) switched to 1900 instead of 2000 and the possibility of time travel just *poof*. The end.)

My dear friend V made 12 resolutions for 2012, one for each month. If you follow my running log/diary, then you've already had a preview of what's to come in the Wonderful World of Sharona for 2012. So without further ado....

My 2012 New Year's Resolutions/Goals:
  • Stop being late to basically everything.
  • Pass area exams and become a bona fide PhD student!
  • Have my prelim defense either done or scheduled by Christmas.
  • ROAD TRIP! Probably to Rocky Mountain National Park (sans Manwich)
  • Run a marathon (and not Oprah-run either...)
  • 2500 miles for this year!
  • Be the absolutely bestest friend I can be...so no more mail slacking this year! Maybe I'll even get a monthly update email together!
  • I will stop dicking around with Rhapsody in Blue and learn the entire thing.
I figure that 8 resolutions/goals will probably be all I can handle this year. 2011 had some crazy ups (Yay! PhD! Portugal! 24th birthday! Graduated with my Master's! Running success!) and downs (Relationship fail! Stress! Spider infestation! Stress!). I know that 2012 won't be all peaches and sunshine, but I have great friends, a fantastic family, and a cat that loves me almost unconditionally :)

So here's to you, 2012. Here's hoping for a slightly less stressful and way more successful academic campaign at Purdue, another year of injury-free running, and enough faith, hope, and love to weather the tough times.