Monday, November 23, 2015

Current Loves

Not gonna lie, I've been kinda depressed about moving to Idaho.  I've been super freaked out about posting on the blog because my boss mentioned he's seen my blog and calls me his bargain engineer because my catch line is "MITs dumbest smarty".  I'm freakin out a bit.  I really love writing this, but I've been so scared to blur the line between my professional and personal and public lives.  It's weird not to be a student and kind of get a pass if people older than me think I'm weird.
It's weird to be considered a peer to people who are the same age as my parents...
Well I love blogging, so to get back into social media I'll let you know what I've been into lately.

New Girl ||  I have been binge watching New Girl.  At first I couldn't get over how awkward Zooey Deschanel is, but it's so fun!  Since moving to Idaho my nights have been a little calmer.  It's nice to have something mindless to watch.

Warby Parker Glasses || I'm thinking it's time for a change, and new glasses are just the thing.  I'm in love with Warby Parker's Daisy frames.

Couscous ||  So I found out I don't get paid for lunch.... That sucks....  Couscous is really fast to make (only 3min!) and is amazing with spinach and anything else you feel like adding.  It's really been saving my lunches.

Fair Isle Sweaters || lt's so cold in my office.  I don't know if it's because the government is too cheap to heat my lab or because men don't min the cold as much as women, but these fair isle sweaters have been saving my life.  They're chic and so warm.  Perfect for my office/lab.

So that's been my life lately..... Not much going on in Idaho....
Keep in touch!  Being an adult is exciting....

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Recipe Tuesday: Skillet Chicken with Parsnips and Fennel

This was amazing! This week I wanted to try something out of my comfort zone.  Aside from carrots I don't normally cook with root vegetables if I'm not making stew.  The picture of this dish changed my mind and I decided to go for it.
Courtesy of For Those Who Savor

Looks pretty chic right?  This was incredibly easy to make and took very little effort.  My only warning is to make sure you have a skillet large enough or use a roasting pan for the baking part.  I tried to use my tiny skillet and the chicken didn't cook all the way.

Spiced Skillet-Roasted Chicken with Parsnips and Fennel as made by For Those Who Savor3 tablespoons olive oil, divided1 3.5-4-pound chickensea salt and freshly ground black pepperdried lemon zestcrushed fennel seeds4-5 parsnips, ends cut off rough-chopped2 bulbs fennel, cored and halved2-3 wide strips lemon zestlemon wedges for servingPreheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken inside and out with salt, pepper, lemon zest, and powdered fennel. Cook, breast side down, until a beautiful golden brown. Use tongs to carefully rotate chicken, browning on all sides (about 12-15 minutes total). Transfer to a plate and reserve skillet.Toss fennel, parsnips, and lemon zest in skillet with remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place chicken, breast side up, on top of vegetables. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 (about 40-45 minutes). You can also check by cutting into the thigh meat right at the joint. If the juices run clear, the bird should be ready. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve chicken and vegetables with pan juices and lemon wedges.

Let me know how you like it! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Touring around the south west: Canyonlands

I went camping!!!  Well next to my car but it's a start.

Since I get every other Friday off we decided to go down to Moab, UT ans hike for a few days.  I have to say it was amazing to not worry about school or work and just go do stuff.
I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

Really amazing.  Moab is much closer to Idaho than the Grand Canyon and a little less touristy.
The town was super chill, lots of hikers and craft beer flowing all night.

I think we'll be back soon

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Oktoberfest and Idaho Falls

So I'm super pissed, I've been posting from my phone and they never went through.  Here's one from this week.

It's been so crazy here.  Our house finally has furniture!  Except a couch.... we still sit on the floor to watch tv. Oh well...
Keeping entertained has been a challenge here.   Normally we're used to popping over to a bar and camping there all night.  Not so here.  For one, driving sucks.   Having to stop drinking to drive home is a huge pain and kind of kills the fun.  Lately though we've been scouring local Facebook pages for anything to do.  We've been pleasantly surprised.
This Saturday we went to an Oktoberfest at a local church.  Super fun!  They had a polka band, great food, amazing beer and a game called hammerslagen.  Basically we sat in a circle and tried to be the first person to hammer in a nail with the small end of a hammer.   Everyone looks ridiculous doing it.  The little girl next to me kicked ass at it....

Suffice to say,  we're learning how to have fun in unexpected places.  Not having events shoved down our throats is a little nice but getting boring....

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Recipe Tuesday: One Pot Chicken and Vegetables

Now that I have a full kitchen (and dishwasher!) I want to try something here.  I'm going to try a new recipe every week and post it with pictures and a review.  So for the first week, here's One Pot Chicken and Vegetables.
From Martha Stewart

This was delicious!! And so easy to make after work.  It made plenty for the two of us and leftovers.

4 chicken leg quarters (about 2 pounds total), patted dry
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 bunch Swiss chard (10 ounces), stems cut into 1/2­inch pieces, leaves torn into 2­inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, diced small
2 medium carrots, diced medium
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus wedges for serving
1 1/2 cups basmati rice 2 1/2 cups low­sodium chicken broth

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a tight­fitting lid
over medium­high. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook until browned on both sides, 12 minutes,
turning once. With tongs, transfer chicken to a plate.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, chard stems, onion, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until
chard stems and onion are translucent, 4 minutes. Add chard leaves, lemon zest, and rice; cook 1 minute.
Add broth and bring to a rapid simmer. Reduce to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Arrange
chicken, skin side up, on top of rice mixture and cook, covered, until chicken is cooked through and liquid
is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Monday, September 21, 2015

whew... well im in the mountains now

Omg what a month....  Right after our wedding Doug and I left Syracuse for Idaho Falls.  What a culture shock!  On top of that, I just started my job at the National Lab.  We just signed a lease on a house and are finally getting settled.  Despite all this motivation, there's still a lot of uncertainty in our lives.  It's so stressful.
Doug is working for a startup and each week we're not sure if he'll have a job the next and if the company will fold.  I've been a glorified lab-tech and my new job, running chem experiments for the group.
On the upside we have our own house, and it has a dishwasher!  I've found joy in not doing dished by hand.  I can't say how long it'll last though.  How long will we stay here?  Will we go back to Boston?  How will we fill our time out here in the boonies?  A lot of questions, but for now I think we'll enjoy the fresh air here and be happy we're not spending the same amount on rent for a 1 bedroom in Somerville.
As for Bottom of the Top... I'm still trying to figure it out.  Since I'm not at MIT anymore it doesn't seem to fit, but I do enjoy this so much.  I just don't want to end up having the blog be weird.  I love the College Prepster, but she's like 30 running a college blog....
I've always tried to be open about self-doubt and sadness, so I think this is still important to have, especially as a new grad.  For now though I'll try to get a schedule going.  I need to show you all the house!  It's crazy here. Also Idaho is hilarious.

For now at least, I'm back and settled :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Art of Being Bored

Whoever said patience is a virtue can shove it.  I hate waiting in lines, be it at the doctor, a restaurant or (shudder) the DMV.  The one thing I've tied to do lately is be bored professionally.  You may ask "WTF, Catherine.  How are you bored professionally?"  
Well here it is:  get off the phone.
People my age and younger (and even I guess people older than me) are glued to their iPhones.  I'll admit it, I'm definitely guilty of talking to people while playing Minesweeper or texting.  It's a seriously bad habit.  The way to break it?  Learn how to be bored.
You won't believe the compliments I've gotten lately on how little I look at my phone.  It's a real eye-opener that it's impressive to people that you're not glued to a screen.  Hostesses seem happier to seat me when I'm not finishing up a text before getting up to get to a table.  Doctors are happy to have my full attention.  But best of all, I feel much less childish while waiting.
The main way I've found to stop myself from grabbing my phone is to carry a notebook.  Seriously, that's it.  While waiting for something I'll make lists of things I need to do, plan blogs, even doodle.  Yes to another person, even doodling looks better than staring at your phone.  
It's something small that makes a big difference in how people view you.  
I won't lie, it does suck.  There's a mental art to being comfortable doing nothing.  I think our generation just doesn't know how to handle boredom.  Boredom can be a good thing.  Let your mind take a break and don't constantly over-stimulate yourself.  I guarantee you'll be less stressed.

What do you think?  Should you put your phone down?  Is it just a pet-peeve?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Most Worth-while Buys

Following up my last post on sporting gear I've found, I thought I'd go over the most worthwhile investments I've made in terms of gear.  Each item on the list made me pause for a while because of the prices, but in the end I've been so happy about going through with them.  Mainly because of the customer service associated with the brands, but also the sheer amount of time I've had these things last.

Northface Apex Bionic Jacket
Originally From:  Dick's Sporting Goods
Price: $129
Time Owned: 8 years
This black jacket is a classic color that looks good with jeans and boots, but I've also used for trapsing through the woods with my dog.  It keeps the wind out well, and is thin enough to be used as a base-layer skiing.  The Northface even has somewhat of a warranty on it; I've sent mine in to have the zipper replaced and only had to pay shipping.

LL Bean 8" Thinsulate Bean Boots
Originally From:  L.L.Bean Flagship Store in Maine
Price: $139
Time Owned: 4 years
These boots are amazing!  Repeat: amazing!  There's a reason they are the item that represents the iconic brand for years.  I've worn them pretty much non-stop since I bought them.  They were a staple in my winter wardrobe in Boston (paired with wool socks) and make an appearance every hunting season.  L.L. Bean covers the rubber part for a lifetime.  Just drop them off at any location or send them in, they will replace the rubber for free until the leather gives way.  I'm on my second set of rubber, only because the pavement in Boston did me no favors.

Kate Spade Wallet in Gold
Originally From: Kate Spade Outlet
Price: $100- $120
Time Owned: 3 years
Ever since I can remember, I've been in love with Kate Spade's designs.  The first thing I bought when I could afford it was this wallet.  It's held up amazingly over the years and I still get compliments on it often.  The gold works well in any season and seems to be pretty timeless.  While I switch purses almost monthly,  I've never switched out this wallet.

Rayban Aviators
Originally From: Nordstrom
Price: $150
Time Owned: 4 years
They're classic.  You can't go wrong with gold rims/ green lenses.  I wear these everywhere.  I've even sat on them a few times (once I drove home from Boston and didn't even realise I was sitting on them) and they're still holding up.  Classics are classics for a reason.

Calvin Klein Peacoat
Originally From:  Macy's
Price: $300
Time Owned: 6 years
I've had my black peacoat since highschool (yeah, black coats are a thing for me).  It's a cashmere-wool blend which looks amazing, feels expensive and is very warm.  I've worn it out when my Northface was too casual, or when it was too cold for a Barbour jacket.

Barbour Vintage Beadnell Waxed Jacket
Originally From: Barbour Store
Price: $400 with student discount
Time Owned: 2 years
I branched out and got a terracotta coloured coat!  I wore it almost everyday in the fall and spring.  If you keep up with the waxing, it keeps the wind out really well and looks super cute with skinny jeans.  I found I could easily transition it from class to coffee to dinner without looking to casual.  Barbour will rewax the coats if you bring it to one of their locations, but I've never had a problem doing it myself.  The best thing is this jacket is sturdy!  I've worn it through the woods and even hunting.  It stands up to nature well.  It's the most expensive thing on this list, but the most worthwhile.

What have you taken the plunge and bought?  Anything I should add?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Women's Sports Gear

True to form I tend to put myself in fields where the norm is men.  Normally I'd be talking about being a woman in engineering, but today I'm talking about women in sports. From what I've seen a lot of mainstream sports have accepted women.  For the sports I like though, it can be tough to get some equipment because I can't just go to Dick's and pick it up.  I had the experience yesterday of going to Gander Mountain and finding almost no women's gear!  It was super disappointing, so I decided to share what I've found for biking and shooting.

Out of all of these, the vest was my favorite find.  Shooting with a men's or youth vest was uncomfortable to say the least.  I'm also really excited to have found a gun made specifically for women.  Caesar Guerini makes the Syren line of shotguns just for women.  I haven't had a chance to try them yet, but I'm seeing a nice over-under in my future.

Anyone else find good women's sporting goods?  What are you wearing for your sports?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Drinking More Water

Lately I've found that I've been drinking a lot of Coke lately.  It's a nasty habit really.  I can see the effects on my teeth and my waistline.  In order to combat this, I've tried to always have a water bottle with me.  My old one broke and started leaking everything, so I got this glass Zulu water bottle.   I was really hesitant to get a glass bottle, but I kind of tested one... by dropping it... in Target.  Impressively it didn't break.

To make drinking water more "fun"  I've been adding limes, mint and cucumber to my water.  The flavor makes it easier to not reach for a coke when I'm thirsty.  So far it's been working well.

What have you been drinking?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

hello breweries? Catherine is calling she'd like to join you

I love beer.  I'm not ashamed to say it.  I love drinking it, finding new ones to try and learning all about the process of how it's made.  Yes, I'm a nerd.  But ever since I was about 16 I've learned all I could about what makes each beer different and how to make each type.  So when I got a Brooklyn Brew Shop beer making kit from some of my bridesmaids, I was totally stoked to start brewing.

I tried my hand at making a Summer Wheat beer.  The kit came with the wheat mixture, hops, a fermenter bottle and some  tubing.  I was left on my own for the strainers and funnels.

You have to boil the wheat (in this case) at a specific temperature to release the sugar

They said if you can make oatmeal, you can make beer

My kitchen smelled nasty, but this is the "wert" or stuff that will become beer

It's only fun if you make a mess

Taking over the sink to cool off my brew.  It smelled just like it looks

My ghetto a.f. setup to filter my wert into the fermentor.  I loved the kit, but it doesn't supply you with a lot of the tools you need.  just the ingredients.

I used my biochem skills to set up an over-pour system with the tubing.  Luckily everything fits right back into the box so I won't accidentally knock it over.

This is living in the back of my pantry for 2 weeks until it's time to bottle.  Overall this was a fun experience, though way more work for what I think will be pretty mediocre beer.  Still, so happy I had the chance to try this.

Have you ever made beer?  Thinking of trying to make your own brew?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My first car

It's crazy how fast some milestones have been flying by since graduation.  Even though I haven't started work yet I sure have been busy.  The most exciting thing yet has been the purchase of my first car!  Best yet, I started off with a dream car.

I got a 2010 BMW 3 Series Convertible.  Really a dream come true for me, I've always wanted one and I nearly shit myself when I found this one.  I had originally been looking for a Subaru to take to Idaho, but my dad found this online for the same price as the Impreza I was going to get!  How unreal is that!?  
I was really pleased because this was something tangible for all my work.  That sounds greedy but it's true.  Getting out of MIT with "nothing to show for it" was really depressing.  Being able to get this car boosted my spirits big time.

Now before you start spewing comments about how spoiled I am, I paid for this myself.  After I test drove, I signed for the title and headed straight to the bank.  But holy crap was that an experience.  I did my student loans online, so have never dealt with the financial institutions.  My local branch did great, but the corporate level had serious issues with my age I guess and took FOREVER to approve my loan.  I won't go into it, but right now I'm kind of disappointed with the bureaucracy of the banking system.
Anyways, now I'm an adult with bills!  Woohoo!

Friday, July 17, 2015

101 in 1001 checkup

I realized I haven't looked at my 101 in 1001 since I graduated, and now is as good a time as any to check up on myself.  Here's how I've been doing 1.5 years in.  If you haven't seen this, I made a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.  It's been fun trying to meet all of them.
I seem to be doing pretty well.  How about you?

2. Get a dog
3. Drink a craft beer from each of the 50 states (track my progress here)
4. Graduate ChemE  (6/5/15)
5. Run a 5k (4/19/14)
6. Pay for an entire vacation myself (08/14)
7. Throw a party that doesn't include canned beer or cheap liquor
8.  Only order GrubHub once a semester (3/3)
9. Finish one crochet blanket a semester (1/3)
10. Throw a porcelain dish or raw egg against a wall (I've wanted to do this since I was a kid)
11.  Get hair and makeup professionally done (didn't even do this for prom)
12. Finish Dante's Divine Comedy
13. Visit Smalley cousins (09/14)
14. Visit France and use my minor
15. Get blog business cards (08/14)
16. Watch the sunrise at Boston Harbor before I move
17.  Save more paycheck money than I spend in a year
18. Finish MIT without losing my ID card again (6/5/15)
19. Buy a pair of Louboutin's
20. Only watch 2 TV shows at a time (right now Rick and Morty and Intervention)
21. Watch all Harry Potter or LotR movies in one sitting with Anna
22. Learn to drive stick shift
23. Go to fancy brunch with my MIT friends
24. Dance with a stranger (real dance, not grinding.  I want Disney style)
25. Shoot a 25 in Skeet
26. Beat dad at sporting clays
27. Eat breakfast every day for a school week (0/5)
28. Have no underwear/ socks with holes in them
29. Do not buy stupid stuff for a month (June 2015)
30. Buy Girl Scout cookies and give them to someone as a surprise when they seem sad
31. Finish mom's picture frame thing above the piano
32. Get a real job (not funded by a university) (7/14/15)
33. Don't complain about ChemE for an entire week (0/7)
34. Stop making fun of courses 7, 8 flex, 9, 15, and 21GS when stressed
35.  Only watch a movie at most once a day
36. Post a YouTube video once a month (0/35) (Ok I failed hard at this)
37. Buy someone a drink
38. Get grownup furniture
39. Make a cookbook of all Gramma's and Habibi's recipes
40. Understand how to pay taxes/ do I need to pay taxes?
41. Completely reorganize my room and keep it that way
42. Visit Anna for a long weekend at her school
43. Eat a meal at a restaurant entirely based on the server's suggestions
44. Go on a brewery tour
45. Go to New Orleans
46. Get CPR certified
47. Set off real fireworks
48.  Visit Habibi and Jidu alone
49.  Take John to a Chili Peppers concert
50. Do something willingly that freaks me out
51. Sign a lease/ buy a house with Doug
52.  Go salsa dancing (i know how!)
53. Get a massage with mom
54. Write a blog post for each thing on the list (0/101)
55. Finish a game of Monopoly without making John cry (Anna can make him cry)
56. Watch all of AFI's 100 movies for 100 years (38/100 Track my progress here!)
57. Take Mackenzie to Maine
58. Wake up early enough to do my makeup AND comb my hair
59.  Drink an appropriate amount of water every day for a week (and not all at the end of the day when I realise I forgot to drink water) (7/7)
60. Get a tattoo after my last ChemE class
61. Save all my change and at the end of the 1001 days buy something in coins
62. Win Bar trivia
63. Drive 30 minutes without swearing at other drivers out loud (1/17/14)
64. Make better Arabic food (even though it's better than mom's)
65. Go to a party where I can wear a long gown
66. Tell a lie to a child that they won't find out isn't true until they're older (my dad did this to me all the time) (has to be funny)
67. Assume a fake identity for a night and tell everyone my "life story"
68. Get Bottom of the Top sponsored
69. tee hee
70. Do all of my PSets for one class
71. Go through finals without eating Biscoff or Nutella
72. Learn to ice skate
73. Learn how to sail
74. Do one pullup
75. Clean off desk enough to put fresh flowers on it
76. Fix a computer problem without Doug's help
77. Get engaged
78.  Write a handwritten note to Anna once a month (0/35)
79. Schedule a dentist appointment by myself
80. Plan a wedding
81. Be Amish for a day (no electronics)
82. Reconnect with someone from high school
83. Get married
84. Do Santa-Con
85. Go to a live comedy show
86. See a live Jack Russel race
87. Buy a piece of real art and hang it up
88. Ride a horse
89.  See B. B. King
90. Run a blog giveaway
91. Do a McDonalds crawl on Rt90 from Boston to Syracuse
92. Pee off the Mass Ave bridge
93. Get my own shotgun
94.  Get fitted for a bra and tame the beasts (1-26-14)
95. Clean out my old room at my parents' house
96. Make moonshine (that won't make me blind)
97. Go for a ride along on a drug bust
98. Go to Rocky Horror Picture Show in full costume
99. Go camping (not at a music festival)
100. See the pandas at the National Zoo
101. Do a photo scavenger hunt in Boston

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My life is falling into place

I don't know why I've been so paranoid about the internet lately, but I've been shying away from it.  I honestly can't remember the last time I opened my laptop for anything other than some quick emails.
I was freaking out about my job search and thought I shouldn't jinx it with anything that could be taken the wrong way.  I have a hard time looking at my own writing and getting the tone, so I didn't want one blog post to mess up my chances at a job.  Plus I had a very hard time adjusting to regular life.
Something about leaving MIT left me in a huge funk.  I went from 100 mph to 0 really fast and it felt like hitting a wall.  After graduation my lease in Boston was up and with no where to go, Doug and I went to live with my parents in New York.  Ouch, huge blow to my ego.  
I thought MIT would solve all my problems for me and that employers would fight for my attention.  I thought that I'd immediately move somewhere amazing after graduation and have adventures to brag about.
The reality has been that I've been unemployed at my parents' house for 3 months, and for a go-getting that can hit you hard.  Honestly there were a few days where I had a hard time getting out of bed.  After making it 4 years through school, not landing an immediate job was crushing.
But you know what, it was ok.  I caught up on sleep, played with my dog and hung out with high school friends I haven't seen in years.  Guess what, they were in the same boat.  I was surprised to learn how many people from my high school class were living in Manlius with their parents doing the exact same thing I was.
Now I'm grateful for the break, because it gave me time to find an amazing job.  Next month I have the opportunity to live out one of my dreams to move to the Rocky Mountains!  Doug and I will be relocating to Idaho so I can work for the Department of Energy!
Get ready for some cross-country stories.  Also remember, if you're chilling out unemployed, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Peace out Boston!

I'm out of here!  Last Friday I finally graduated!  Not gonna lie, for a while I wasn't sure I was going to make it out.  It was a nail biter at the end with some sketchy credits, but I made it out.

As for now I'm not sure what's coming next.  I'm still unemployed and my lease was up in Boston so I'm living with my parents.  Oh well, life can't be perfect and I'm basically just treating it as a long vacation.

I couldn't have made it out without these guys.  My project team

 Graduation was super emotional.  My friends have been my support network for the past 4 years.  I can't imagine what I would have done without them and it'll be an adjustment facing what's next without them.   We aren't sure when we'll see each other again, but hopefully it'll be soon.

Oh course I did a Breaking Bad cap!

Chemical Engineers!
Shenanigans at the podium that night

I can't say I'll miss MIT, but I'll 100% miss my MIT family.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Let Me Out!

MIT has been working really hard to have us forget what kind of suck fest our degrees were.  The main part of this is senior week.  Senior week is when the university throws a bunch of free events with free booze right before we graduate.  I'm not gonna lie, it's pretty awesome.  By far the most exciting this we did was Escape the Room.
Escape the Room is exactly like the computer game by the same name, except it's real life.  They lock you in a room (ours was an office) with one hour to tear it apart and find the key to get out.  It was a blast!
We weren't sure how this would go
We were a little sketched out at first, because Escape the Room was located in an apartment building that didn't have an actual sign except a piece of printer paper taped to the door.  We also felt the irony that we were volunteering to basically be kidnapped for an hour.  All in all though, it turned out to be great, and we did manage to get out with 1 minute to spare.

I can't go into much detail about how we got out because they're still running the same setup.  But it involved finding hidden keys, deciphering notes to unlock safes and using a mysterious flip-phone we found in a safe to call for combos.  Seriously, I felt like a spy.
If you're in NYC or Boston I highly recommend trying this!  We did it for free, but it was only $30, which may seem steep, but come on, a movie is like $16.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tough Times on the Hunt

As I've wound down my time at MIT I've felt less of a need to talk about being an engineer or my classes.  When your work isn't slapping you in the face all day and all night you can finally relax and be like "yes I am an engineer, finally!"
However I'm not quite done yet because I'm still looking for a job.  I've been hesitant to post about this because I'm convinced that employers are reading it and it will negatively impact my search.  Enough is enough though and I'm not going to pretend it doesn't worry me or that life after MIT is suddenly magical and easy.  In fact, it's just as scary because it's uncertain.  The past four years have been consistent in that I knew that in the next month I'd still be at MIT living in my dorm.  Now I have less than one month to find a new place to live, find a way to pay for it and begin my "grown up" life/  It's freakin scary man!
I've found myself constantly looking around my room deciding if I'll take stuff with me or sell it.  I just sold almost all my chem e books so I don't have to cart them around anymore (and I'll hopefully buy a new toy for myself, more on that later).  I can't decide when to start packing since classes are done next week and I'll be moving shortly after.
Looking for a job has been one of the most discouraging things I've done yet.  Every night I sit for about three hours and send out about 100 resumes (I'm not exaggerating).  If I'm lucky I'll hear back from 20 of the posts at all, and 99% of the responses have been "thank you for your interest."  I'm optimistic about finding something by the end of the summer, but it does suck not knowing where I'll be next month.
Worst case scenario though is I go back home to my parents and play with the dog for a summer.  It really would be nice to move though.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Happy Trees

One of my biggest heros is Bob Ross.  For those of you who don't know who he was, you're missing out.  Bob Ross had a show on PBS for the longest time where he would set up a canvas and paint.  He'd tell you the colors he used, what brushes were best and how to do the strokes.  It was so relaxing to watch!  The biggest thing he ever emphasized was that it doesn't have to be perfect, your painting is your world and there are no mistakes.

Here's an example for you

When I found an opportunity to do a class like this I jumped on it fast.  There's a place in Boston called The Paint Bar which lets you go to a class based on a painting, and an instructor stands at the front and everyone paints the same thing.  Just like Bob Ross!!  I was so excited I was ready to shit myself.

We had THE BEST time!  I was so pumped to live one of my dreams of finally learning how to paint, and I got a wonderful painting of the Back Bay for my mom's birthday.
Getting started!

Kira didn't listen to Bob Ross, she thought she messed it up

Overall I highly recommend taking a class if you can.  I'll be going back next week!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Marathon Monday 2015

So not to sound like a complete basic bitch, but I have been blessed to live in Boston over the past 4 years.  While I've been here the Red Sox have won the World Series, the Patriots have won the Superbowl and the Bruins have won the Stanley cup.  Hopefully the Celtics can get their shit together and I can see all the Boston teams win while I'm here.  More important than all these things (in my opinion) is the Boston Marathon.
The marathon was always a ton of fun, the entire city takes the day off for Marathon Monday and it's just a huge party.  My friends and I call it the "healthy person carnival", which is ironic because a lot of the city takes the day to get completely smashed.  The spirit surrounding the marathon has increased tenfold since two years ago (for those of you who don't know, I was there), but all the same it's really a day to celebrate living in Boston.

Every year the weather has been so pleasant, but this year it didn't pull through.  It was sooooo cold!  And raining...  Nonetheless it was so much fun to see the runners accomplish such an amazing thing!

It was so bittersweet being on Boylston Street.  It was my last marathon since I'm leaving in June.  I've been going to the marathon for four years and it's been a great tradition to have.  Being there has made me so proud to live in Boston, and I know I'll really miss it next year,

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Maybe back? Maybe goodbye?

I'm finally done!  It's been a crazy time here lately with a lot of emotions running really strong.  Over the past month I've finished ICE (my senior capstone)  completely planned a wedding (what?), and gotten a job offer!
While I was finishing my senior project I thought it was best to limit my internet presence.  Basically I was super cranky and I didn't want to project that in case anyone wanting to hire me was reading my blog.  It hit me how open we are with ourselves on the internet.  This was really surprising because I'm normally a very private person in my day-to-day life.  The idea that posting something in print that could be misconstrued and prevent me from a  job really scares me.  I thought on more than one occasion to close down the website just to not deal with the risk at all.
Then I remembered how much I love writing this and interacting with everyone.  Not to mention helping people get through MIT.  As a hardcore pen and paper user, I'm still getting used to being super connected and open to everyone.  It takes a lot of getting used to!  Especially when you read freaky shit about people using your webcam without you noticing etc.
Ah well...  Maybe here's to a new page of Bottom of the Top: Post ChemE edition, or here's to me deciding the internet is scary and I'm done owning a webpage.
Who knows?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Current Loves

What a whirlwind!  I've been getting used to my new found freedom of not having homework.  Meanwhile, some things never change but there is lots of news coming down the pike.  Meanwhile, here's what I've been into lately.

Richard Branson's Autobiography: If you want a fun read with lots of insight, this is it.  I picked this up in the Dublin airport because I finished my other book and the title was hilarious.  This book was well worth the money and I'm so happy I read it.  Branson describes how he built the Virgin empire from a magazine he founded in high school.  His personality fills the page and really smacks you in the face with adventure, which you wouldn't expect from a book about business.

Vance Joy and "hipster music": So Pandora and Youtube mixes have led me to what I would have normally called hipster music.  As someone who labels herself a combination of dead-head and prep, I don't normally gravitate towards this stuff.  But I have to say that I have not been able to get Riptide out of my head.  Also, Arctic Monkeys. So good.  I recommend making a Riptide Pandora station.  The amount of acoustic guitar is so relaxing

Popcorn: I'm trying to eat healthier.  My new years resolution was to make small changes in my life to improve my health (let's face it, college students are rarely the pictures of perfect health).  Part of this has been cutting down on junk food.  This is a problem for people with a serious sweet tooth!  I found Smart Pop Kettle Corn popcorn at my grocery store and I am hooked!  They don't put that much butter on the smart pop brand, and the kettle corn flavor is so sweet, but doesn't actually have that much sugar.

Once Upon a Time: I am thoroughly addicted to this show.  As a self proclaimed Disney expert and stand-by Disney princess, this show was made for me.  The second half of season 4 has been strong, and I'm super interested in the whole Maleficent having a kid thing.  If you're not watching Once Upon a Time, crawl out from your rock and hop to it!   

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Finding my rhythm

There's been a lot going on where I didn't really want to spend time on my computer at all.  Lately I've been going through this phase where I can't stand interacting with my computer aside from throwing music on.  I've been starting to get a little anxious about graduation which wasn't helped by some drama with the registrar's office .  Regardless I'm starting to feel some rhythm back in my life.
Doug and I recently got a turntable!  This is really exciting for me because a lot of the blues and soul music I used to listen to as a kid is hard to find digitally.  Aside from that, there really is no beating the warm sound of vinyl.
We went with a Technics SL-5 belt-driven linear tracking turntable.  Basically that just means it doesn't look like the ones at Urban Outfitters.
It's fairly compact
I was really excited about finding one of these, because it's the same one my dad has that I grew up with.  He's had it since he was in college in the 80's and we still use it to this day (he wouldn't part with it when I asked him.)
I tested it out with a Lou Rawls album I picked up at the local record store (hooray college town) and since my speakers are powered I could play the table quietly.  Worked awesome!  Still need a receiver though, so we turned to Ebay again and actually found the same receiver Doug had growing up!  We went with a Pioneer VSX-453 which I'm so excited about getting.
I'll show the whole setup when I have it together.  As somewhat of an audiophile I'm so pumped to finally have my own turntable!  I can't believe how much stuff you can find on Ebay, it's really incredible.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Help is not a Personal Defeat

As I've established Bottom of the Top, I've never been sure whether I was sharing too much about my life or whether I was merely being transparent about being a student.  It's been crazy living as a student here at MIT, and it's always been important to me not to only show one side of it.  Like I said last week, there's been a lot going on in my life that has been causing me to rethink how I've been living and how I'm going to move forward once I graduate.  One things I've decided is important is my physical and mental health.
I think the hardest thing to take care of is your sanity and mental well being.  This is something I have been struggling with for years, especially during my time at MIT.  I won't sugar-coat it; I've sometimes likened studying engineering as a form of mental abuse.  The pay-off is amazing, but for 4 years you have to tough out grueling hours of getting incredibly difficult work done.  It's physically and mentally draining.  To a 20 year old, 4 years seems like an eternity to struggle through this.  As I finish my time here, I look back with many fond memories, but many troubled ones too.
I'm telling you this because two years ago I came to a pivotal decision that I think is one of the most important of my life.  
After finishing a little under half my degree I was utterly frayed.  My nerves were shot, I was physically twitching and I couldn't handle listening to more than one person talk at a time.  I would literally start to cry anytime anyone talked about school or my future to me.  My free time was spent staring at a wall listing things I needed to do.
One day my sophomore year I realized that I was not supposed to feel like this.  Now, I had always been a person to "tough it out".  Fall off your bike?  Tough it out.  Didn't get any sleep?  Tough it out.  Kids are mean at school?  Tough it out.  I considered myself a tough person who could weather anything life threw at me.  This is when I began to take my feelings as a personal defeat of character.  I was no longer tough enough to handle my own life.  
As someone who studies chemistry, I should have know this was not true.  At this point I was so exhausted that my brain couldn't produce enough serotonin to keep up with my lifestyle.  I was physically ill.  Mental illness has a huge stigma attached to it; we think we're crazy like Norman Bates if we need help regulating ourselves.  When we realize this isn't true, we can help ourselves get better, just like getting antibiotics for strep.  This realization was essential for my time here, and if I hadn't started taking sertraline I don't know what my mental state would be today.
I'm writing this now because I've arrived at another crossroads: do I continue taking it?  With less and less work on my plate I'm becoming tempted to see how I function without it.  I want to try to function on my own because I'm still stubborn and still want to tough it out.  This is the point where I have to recognize what's stubborn, what what's healthy.  After mulling it over and talking with my doctor (don't not talk to them!) I'm tapering down and easing off.  So far it's been promising and I've been able to handle the day-to-day stresses of my life.  
However, I'm also going through honest to goodness withdrawals right now.  I wake up nauseous and with a splitting headache.  Sometimes during the day I'll start sweating and shaking.  It's been bad enough that I've considered staying on this drug forever, but I know I only have to make it through 2 weeks and it'll be out of my system.
The moral?  Take care of yourself always.  There is no such thing as a healthy person, but that doesn't mean every little thing wrong with you is a condition.  Just do what you need to get by and know you're not the only one who sometimes needs help.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Updates and Getting Back

I realized I've been 100% MIA from Bottom of the Top for months now.  It's sucked because I've let sponsorships slip by and it's looked like I've forgotten about the site.  To be totally honest I've thought about shutting the site down and saying bye.  I don't know why but lately I've really hated doing anything on my computer that wasn't totally necessary, but I also haven't really been doing much of anything.
I'm currently still on winter break, which means I'm only working part time and I'm not in school.  I'm self-studying for an engineering licensing exam (sort of the engineer version of the MCAT or LSAT) which has put me into a deep funk.  On top of that Doug and I have been having trouble with some family members in the wake of making some life decisions (I won't go into it here) as well as one of my family members falling seriously ill.
A routine is beginning to form around my life again as I roll into my final semester here at MIT, so I'm starting to feel like my old self again.
I'm not really sure why I'm posting this.  I guess I've always tried to be transparent with the blog so you can see that lifestyle bloggers aren't perfect.  Most of us are actually pretty off because who else sits and shares their lives with strangers?
Bottom of the Top will stay up, I noticed people were still looking at it even when I wasn't posting.  A big thank you to those of you who read this regularly.  I do notice and appreciate you taking the time to read something I've worked on.

Friday, January 9, 2015

No Internet for a Month

Ok, back on campus after a month.  Before finals I peaced from campus and visited my grandparents and aunt and uncle in Ohio.  From there we visited Doug's family in Wisconsin then spent the rest of the holiday with my parents in New York.  It was a great break and one of the best things was I didn't use my computer at all.  
Ok that was a lie, I used it to watch Christmas movies.  But other than that I didn't even turn it on.  It was great.  I only answered urgent emails from my phone once a day and other than that I just relaxed.
Seriously, it was the best break ever.  I spent everyday outside with my dog or out hunting.
Chillin in the duck blind

Margarita night!

I got a pheasant!
All in all, I highly recommend unplugging for a while.  I had the most fun I've had in a while just chilling with family and spending time outside.  That said it's good to be back, and I'll be devoting more time to Bottom of the Top again.