Monday, January 26, 2009

Gung Hay Fat Choy

I am swamped today, but wanted to pass along best wishes for Chinese New Year! Go Year of the Ox.. let's be fantastic. We are planning on making dumplings tonight, I can't wait.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Week Recap

What a crazy week. Snow, new presidents, fun science.. it was a doozy. Here are some things I learned:

1. North Carolina has good snow. It was light and fluffy and then just magically disappeared after a few days. No icky slush, just evaporation. I like it. And Sadie is one happy snow camper.

2. However, black ice is so so so scary. Our street is pretty shaded and a little sloped and I am still terrified to walk down it. And riding my bike down it is completely out of the question.

3. I am already impressed by how much President Obama has accomplished in just a few days. I still feel like this is all a pleasant dream. And Mrs. O is just fantastic.

4. Trent cut my hair into an adorable bob. I realize that short hair just works so much better for my face and my lifestyle.

5. I am trying to deal with stress by exercising and went a little overboard with lifting and yoga in the beginning of this week, because it was too snowy to run. And now I think I have pulled a muscle in my quad which hurts like crazy. Blargh.

6. I started vegetable seeds in cardboard egg crates. I am so ready for spring.

7. Today was my last meeting as BGSA President. I have held this position for a year and a half. I am so thrilled to be done with it honestly. But I also had my first meeting as President of CMB, my NIH training grant group, this week. I am nervous about still being in a leadership position, but feel like this will be a new challenge and a fun experience. Plus, awesome for the resume!

8. I am trying to work out a new protocol in lab that I need to have working before my orals but it is really challenging. And involves lots of fine dissection under the scope so I am off coffee. No fun.

9. I am a little mad at my boss for being constantly busy and away. But motivated to just get a lot of stuff done independently and knock his socks off when he finally does pay attention to me.

10. Having Emily help plan our wedding is just fantastic. There are so many cute places out there, it is going to be super hard to decide. Thankfully we have lots of friends out there to investigate for us!

Happy weekend everyone. I am horseback riding tomorrow and helping Amanda pick out makeup for her wedding next weekend. Hopefully going on a long bike ride, dealing with the pile of gravel, and lots of cleaning house.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Someday I hope my life is like this. So so so cute. Goodness gracious.

A start: Tonight I finally got my marinara sauce to almost taste as good as my Mom's version.

Perfect for snuggling down after yoga with Trent and his crew team.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Pictures of my epic morning adventure. I feel it was a sampling of what my life would have been like had I decided to go to Boulder instead of UNC. Fun... but maybe not after a couple days.

Here is where they caught me, outside the house debating whether my tires were going to be packed with snow the entire time.

Off I go! Luckily practically no one was driving this morning, and there aren't a lot of hills.

Jersey seemed to have enjoyed the snow. I love the snow in his beard!

Two Things

1. Riding your mountain bike to work in the snow while wearing all your ski clothes and running into friends who think you are ridiculous is an awesome/terrible idea. It was kind of scary, but luckily most of my ride is on a bike path. And in hindsight, one of the most fun things I've done lately. Looking forward to the ride home! There are a good six inches of powder out there. And our friends did have a camera.. so this nonsense was documented!

2. I am so hopeful, optimistic, nervous, excited, a million other adjectives, about the transition of power that just took place. I love the open displays of affection for his wife and daughters, I love his amazing speeches, and I have my fingers crossed like crazy for him. I organized a viewing of the inauguration in a conference room and everyone spontaneously started clapping and cheering. The views of the Mall all filled with hopeful faces was truly touching.

Happy Tuesday, it's been a great one so far!

Big Day!

Snow! And a new President. Could today be more exciting? I am going to snuggle down with some hot cocoa and watch my huskie rediscover her roots and watch the inauguration. Before I have to go to work.. why did I make meeting plans for today!?! Enjoy some pics, Trent and I were up at dawn to take pictures of this amazing event. It never snows here! It is beautiful, so calm and peaceful. I love it! But just for the day.. not as a regular occurrence. Okay?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dress Option

Slooooowly starting to plan/think about the Trent and Jean wedding that will happen somewhere someday. What do you think about this dress?

Love the neckline, length, back. Too linen-y? There is only a size 6 left, but I can have it taken in. Opinions, quick!

In un-wedding related JCrew adoration.. these boots are begging to be mine. Oh lordy. Trouble!

Weekend: Homesteading

We are being effected, although mildly, by the cold front freezing the East coast. While we are no where near the temps up North, we are completely caught off guard by any sort of chilly weather. So this weekend was pretty mellow.

Friday night we had dinner with Stephen and Amanda to celebrate their successful and busy week. They got married, bought a house, continued to plan for their upcoming wedding, all with grace and ease. Pizza and champagne (our home buying traditional meal) and lots of conversation.

Saturday was so so so cold. We were supposed to go running with Paul and Sheila but wimped out when NPR said temperatures that sounded like curse words to my ears. Trent and I headed to Durham to pick up an outboard motor that fell in the lake and then went to TJ Maxx and Marshalls for some discount shopping.

Trent had 8 tons of gravel delivered on Friday, so Stephen, Amanda, and Jersey came over to help us move it around. We managed to fill in the driveway and the path to the side door before getting too cold. We still have about half of the giant pile left, but the it looks so much better already, and it is great not having muddy feet all the time. We wanted to fill in the path Emily and Rob helped us dig, but the ground was frozen solid! Yikes.

I went into full style homesteader mode after this. I baked a loaf of sourdough and a garlic rosemary bread that came out like a ciabatta, but no complaints. I also made a huge pot of minestrone-esque soup, so the house smelled delicous. Trent and Stephen were still working outside, so I headed to the gym for an excellent workout.

Home, and then off to have dinner at Paul and Sheila's house. They made delicous steak and potatoes, perfect for the weather, and we chatted for hours. They got married at Heavenly ski resort, so we had lots of questions for them. After, we went over to Blaire and Kyle's house to watch the basketball game with Kirston and Rob (maybe this weekend's theme was "hanging out with couple friends"). Luckily UNC did an excellent job including an unbelieveable string of 3-pointers by Wayne Ellington.

Sunday was still chilly but not as bad. Trent was feeling a little under the weather, so we snuggled up to watch movies in the morning. Grocery and birthday present shopping, plus a trip to the library before retreating home. I went on a long (and chilly) run with the dog and we did a major cleaning blitz. Trent cut my hair (short and cute!) and clipped the dog (she is a shaggy mess) a bit. Back to the homesteading theme. Dinner and then snuggling down with our library books under lots of blankets.

Mellow weekend, but nice. Working today, but leaving early to go to yoga and home to hang out with my boy. Happy MLK day and hope everyone is staying warm!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Going to the ... police station!

Here are a few pics from our lunch outing to the Chapel Hill Police Station to get these kids hitched. It was a little cheesy, a little adorable (look at that magistrate!), a little sweet, and a lot of fun. Congrats, wedding number one is done!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

And I am back!!

After a quick run in with the stomach virus devil, I am back in action. The past 48 hours were not so awesome, but I am feeling much better today and back to work. And today is a big day! We are heading for a quick marriage/lunch with Stephen and Amanda. Their real wedding is on Jan 31st, in Florida, but they wanted to take care of the license and legal beforehand, since their brothers are doing the ceremoney.

So we are off to the police station (not the courthouse, not sure why) to meet with the magistrate and have ourselves a little wedding. I had big plans of making everyone corsages and mini-cupcakes, but since I am barely back, I think I will have to scrap that idea. We will go out to lunch afterwards to celebrate. And then.. they buy a house tomorrow! Ridiculous kids, getting it all done in one week. I can't imagine.

I had fun looking around on the internet during my infirmary for wedding ideas, and came across a great model for what I want. Not exactly, but A Backyard Bride captures the mellow, fun, and loving feel I want, with about the same budget and size. Except mine will have more tacos. And hopefully some mariachis. Maybe not so mellow...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sick Day

My crazy week finally caught up with me and I am home with a cold. I should take advantage of the time to catch up on emails, work on lab meetings, and plan a million things, but instead I just want to sleep!

Hopefully I will be back in action tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

2009 Resolutions

1. Be a great partner to Trent, support his decisions, and make the most of our time together.

2. Rock my oral exam. Seriously, blow them away.

3. Work on a paper that can be submitted this year.

4. Find a haircut that works.

5. Do a half IronMan. (I just signed up for the White Lake Half, we have a bunch of friends doing it with us. Means no Boston this year.. but I think I am ready for a new challenge).

6. Run because I love it.

7. Lift weights because it is good for me.

8. Communicate better with my boss so I don't dwell when angry and vent to poor Trent.

9. Be an awesome president. Organization is going to be key. And delegation. Lots of delegation.

10. Teach Sadie to be the best dog she can be.

11. Be kind to myself. Learn how to say no, to leading stuff and that extra slice of pizza.

12. Plan a wedding that reflects us and includes all our favorite people and things... on a budget.

13. Take a multivitamin, calcium, and omega-3 vitamin everyday.

That seems like a manageable list, no? Happy New Year to everyone. I hope 2009 exceeds its expectations!

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Ring!

Oh my sweet token of affection. I love it. It is from Brilliant Earth, who uses recycled gold and Canadian-mined diamonds, so I feel great about wearing it. And boy, is she sparkly! And even better, the ring has a low profile, no breaking gloves at work or scratching myself accidentally! Hooray.

Just perfect, thanks bubs!

The Proposal!

Okay, here's the engagement story.

So, once Trent found we couldn't explore the ruins by hiking all over them, his first idea of a great proposal site, he knew I was super excited about Isla Mujeres and wanted to get out there. He was right.

After our yummy dinner, went went on a long walk on the beach. For those who know me well.. this is where I do my best thinking/life decision making. Except on this beach, I was pretty hyper. I kept trying to go into the ocean, and bouncing from one place from the next. We were laying on some lounge chairs and looking at the stars, but he couldn't get the ring out of the dental floss box he has been stashing it in for safe keeping, in time before I dashed off. Same for the lovely swings we found. Finally we were about to get back to the busier part of town and he stopped me with a big hug and kiss and said all sorts of sweet things and asked me to be his partner forever.

I was totally surprised, only about 4 seconds before he asked did I have any clue. We took a few moments to let it all sink in before I had to dash off to a streetlight to get a better look at my gorgeous ring. I love it. More on it in another post.

We strolled back to our pink paradise and stayed up late talking about what we want from life and from each other and the daunting task of planning a wedding that encompasses all we love and our tiny budgets.. but decided we were excited for the challenge.

I couldn't be happier.

The Trip!

Okay, enough vacation time. I owe you all a trip recap. It was a wonderful one.

We had a super easy flight, thanks to a ride to the airport with Paul and Sheila, and hopping to the front of the long line due to our lack of checked luggage. Storms delayed a lot of flights, so our flight from Houston to Cancun was very empty.

We arrived around 11 am and breezed through customs. That button system is the best idea. We found our bus and used the spare time to do some last minute planning.

We took the bus to Playa del Carmen, and immediately took a taxi to Playacar. Our first night was spent at the Wyndam, an all inclusive fancy resort. They didn't know what to do with us, only spending one night and carrying our backpacks. But we quickly got used to the open buffets and bars and took our first dip in the pool. A little more "European family vacation" than our tastes, but it was fun to try out. We took advantage of the lounge-y beach and had lots of Tom Collins and blended drinks (being free, they were VERY weak).

Being too antsy to stay in one place, we walked up the beach and realized we were only about a mile from Playa del Carmen. We decided to walk the cute shopping plaza, only unfortunately I was still in my swimsuit, so I felt a bit out of place. We walked back through the neighborhoods connecting Playa del Carmen and Playacar, very Coronodo-esque. Cute.

The next day, we saddled up our packs and confused all the staff by simply walking out of the hotel and into Playa del Carmen, after enjoying the breakfast buffet. By now, I had eaten approximately 40 lbs of free watermelon, papaya, pineapple, and honeydew. We got our money's worth out of that place. We walked into Playa del Carmen and immediately wanted to find a place to stay so we could drop our packs. We found a cheap hostel and immediately booked. We headed out for some street tacos and a lots of strolling through the town.

The tourist part is unrecognizable from the last time I was there, but we found some charming parts. We walked for ages, with occasionally dips into the beautiful ocean and stops for guacamole and cervezas.

We had a cute dinner at a family owned seafood restaurant and ate more tacos. Chatted a bit with folks in our hostel, but it was strangely clique-y and we ended up drinking Coronas and reading by ourselves, before going to bed. Then apparently, it was party time. So so so loud. Our room had no real roof and it was a bit rough. Apparently, not quite our fit either. Oh well.

We got an early start and caught a bus to Tulum the next morning. Our next hostel was an adorable family owned place that was just lovely. We quickly made our way down to the ruins and admired the excellent real estate choices the Mayans made before having a lovely swim in the park's beaches and playing with all the giant iguanas.

We made our way into the town part of Tulum and had delicious ice cream while we wandered the streets. We found a great flea market, lots of real Mexican neighborhoods and culture. We shared a cab with a high school teacher from Boulder down to the beach and walked admiring all the fancy resorts and sampling their guacamoles.

We managed to walk all the way back to the ruins and headed back to our hostel.

It was Christmas Eve, and the family that owned the hostel cooked a giant meal of grilled fish and tons of paella for all of their lodgers.

There was about 30 of us and hardly one from the same country. We had a great time chatting with everyone about politics, the economy, travel. There were lots of folks who were in between school and taking 6 months to travel, made me jealous! Lovely time.

After dinner, the kids broke open a pinata. I loved this picture of one of the girls who strategized by not breaking the pinata but instead waited with her shoe box, ready to collect the candy from others efforts. We stayed up late chatting, but when we went to bed it was lovely and quiet. Much better. But not perfect, yet.

We decided (story to come later) to head up to Isla Mujeres the next day, instead of staying in Tulum, as we had originally planned. I thought Trent was just done with the town, but he had other ideas. We caught a bus to Cancun, found the right town bus to the ferry terminal thanks to a friendly food cart guy, and got on a ferry to Isla with no trouble. We made a fun, drunk, friend who gave us lots of un-solicited advice, but I had a great time practicing my Spanish. And he took our picture!

Isla was awesome. It is a tiny island, with more scooters and golf carts than cars. A lot of the roads are cobblestone and for being only 30 minutes away from Cancun, is super mellow and filled with happy Mexican families vacationing. We were planning on staying at a hostel, but it looked kind of loud and Trent immediately vetoed it (which made sense later). Instead we found this darling abuelita who had a little posada. It was bright bright pink and one of the tallest buildings on the island. We got the very top room for $25 a night and were very pleased with ourselves. Off for a swim at the lovely beaches (the best we found) and then we decided to have a nice dinner at an adorable restaurant on the beach. Delicious shrimp for me and squid for Trent.

Afterwards we strolled on the beach and... that's a story for another post. But very happy times.

The next day we went to an adorable little cafe for coffee and granola with fresh fruit.

We rented a vespa and tore around the tiny island. We went first to a park with a few Mayan ruins that is the eastern-most point of Mexico and breathtaking. Unfortunately we forgot our camera that day.. bummer. Afterwards we went to this funky old beach resort that had its heyday in the 1960's or so, but rented snorkling gear. We swam around and hung out with lots of zebrafish, rainbowfish, a sting ray (and I wasn't even stung... amazing) and lots of other cool stuff. We lounged around for a bit, but it started to get crowded, so we headed to a highly recommended seafood place on the beach where Trent had the local specialty, this huge grilled fish. Delicious. More scooting around, looking at the cute harbor filled with nice boats, getting lost, and having me try to drive. Awesome. Returned the scooter and returned to our pink palace. Dinner was street hamburgers.. Trent's favorite ever since he came to visit me in La Paz during college. These were just as good as we remembered.

We tried to hit the town that night, complete with making our own tequilla cocktails, but Isla is a pretty sleepy town. We spent a lot time walking around, enjoying our time together, and found a cute plaza all gussied up for Christmas with lots of adorable kids riding their new Christmas bikes around. I loved it.

Lazy morning eating watermelon on the beach before heading back to Cancun.

We had one night booked on the strip, to see what that was like. We took the cheap city bus, and our fancy hotel thought we were in the wrong place, since we looked pretty scrubby by now. They gave us champagne and escorted us (not sure whether to offer to take our luggage, since it was only our packs) to our room.

It was faaaaaancy. Or at least for us. We got dressed up and hit the beach, with its fancy pool and swim up bar.

Lots of Americans, but nice folks. We got all snazzed up for our time in downtown Cancun.

Not really our place. I kind of panicked and we ended up going to a restaurant for dinner just to get out of it for a bit. Surprisingly, the only place that gave us tummy aches. And we ate a lot of tacos and other things from carts!! We walked around town and tried to be brave, but had to forgo the "foam party" that was happening that night, in exchange for a lovely time in our hotel.

The next day we skeddadled out of the touristy part of Cancun and went downtown. Which was lovely! A real town, with lots of infrastructure (one of my favorite parts... I love to find the elementary schools and post offices) and real Mexicans. We found an adorable hotel and a great plaza with tons of street food options. We were going to try shopping, but found that the dealers were pretty awful. Hassling us for cheap, tacky, stuff. Soooo... we headed back to Isla! Naughty us. We just loved it.

We immediately found our favorite shop keepers and got some goodies, before having a cheap beer and watching the sunset on the beach. It was definitely our favorite place, and I am lucky it also has such great sentimental value now.

We caught a ferry back and got showered up before heading downtown again. The city was terrific. Lots of arts and dancing in all the plazas, happy Mexican families, delicious food. It was great. We stayed up late exploring and then came back to our hotel to pack. Up early to walk to the bus station and then our flight home. Where vacation part two happened!

It was a great trip, I love Mexico and I felt so relaxed and rejuvenated. The people were wonderful, the food was amazing, and sharing this trip with Trent and our new engagement was perfect. Yay Mexico!