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.