Monday, January 13, 2014

Fourteen resolutions for 2014

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After more than a three month hiatus, I figure it is about time to get back on the old horse that is blogging. What better way to start the new year than with a list of goals?

Usually, I'm not one for resolutions, but having a set of goals with a defined attack plan seems doable. Let's dive in.

1.  Go Green(er)

Last year, I made and completed an un-blogged goal of greening up the chemicals in our home (cleaning supplies, toiletries, and food). This whole effort probably deserves a post of its own, but here is the gist.

Cancer runs in Mr. Hog's and my families. As chemists, we get exposed to an abnormally large amount of potentially hazardous chemicals. While I am not sure if reducing the chemicals in our little apartment will actually benefit us, it is worth a shot because it really doesn't take any extra effort. So, I replaced our household items with a lot of Seventh Generation, Yes To Brand, Burt's Bees, Mrs. Meyers, etc. as they ran out over the course of the year.

This year, I'm going from mint to kelley green by implementing a recycling scheme in our kitchen. It is probably bad that I've been too lazy to start this yet, but my main excuse is that our apartments do not offer recycling pick-up...meaning we have to DELIVER it OURSELVES weekly to a recycling center...that is an entire BLOCK away from where we live. I mean, I can't even. I'm such a martyr. You're welcome Earth.

2.  Do Work

I'm going to really buckle down in lab and set my sights on being done with research by December. Hold me to this, and pray my new advisor cooperates.

3.  Save Moolah

This is another continuation of something that went well last year. Mr. Hog and I are cheap. We are logical. Saving money is pretty easy, and it makes us happy. For those of you wanting to do the same, worked for us.

4.  Keep Reading

Yet another continuation goal. We are rocking the library cards.

5.  Extend Grace

This is something inspired by Mr. Hog. He is always so quick to give people the benefit of the doubt that it amazes me. Watching him handle incapable drivers, undesirable situations, and annoying people with grace has been like holding up a mirror to the ugly attitudes that lie within me. I want to unclench my jaw, silence the mean thoughts, and be a nicer person by putting myself in someone else's shoes. While I don't have a child, someone shared this blog post by Jen Hatmaker that resounds with me and feels pertinent to this issue.

6.  Blog More

I've fallen off this wagon hard, but I really do like looking back at this journal. I had a few minor successes with Pinterest, and this turned into a numbers game for me. Suddenly, all I thought about were page views, and the joy of documenting my life was lost. No more. Maybe even for a while, I won't post anything blog related on any social media.

7.  Organize

A clean home is a happy home. A newlywed's home is a place for a crazy amount of stuff, so I'd like to designate spots for said stuff. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

8.  Donate

Part of organizing will be getting rid of a lot of stuff through donations. On top of that, I would love to start donating to meaningful charities a little more, be it with my time or finances.

9.  Shop Local

I'd like to support local businesses and the local economy a little more this year. Fayetteville has some awesome stores that deserve it.

10.  Watch Less

Watching TV is a hobby/date night for Mr. Hog and I. We love it. In reality, I watch too much, though. There are so many shows that I just watch because they are there, not because I enjoy them. I'm looking at you American Idol.

11.  Procrastinate Less

I'll tell you why later.

12.  Get Out More

I'm a homebody. I could watch TV on the couch constantly and never get restless, but that isn't good for me. Here's to more walks around the park and frisbee dates and farmer's markets.

13.  Maintain Friendships

Yet another shortcoming on my part. It is so easy to shoot a text or email to long distance friends, but I fail and fail again. It is too easy to swing by a coffee shop once a week and chat with close distance friends, but I fail and fail again. To be fair to myself, all of my friends slack too. We suck, and we bond because we suck. Hopefully, I can put in just a little more time and effort. I love my girls and want more of them in my life.

14.  Travel

Road trips are the best, and they are cheap. Seeing the nation is something I really like. Just as the AT&T kid says, "We want more. We want more. Like, you really like it, you want more." Right. I follow you.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cirque du Circle City

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Mr. Hog, Penny, and I spent the second week of September in Indianapolis for an American Chemical Society conference. It was Penny's first vacation and everybody's first venture into Indiana. Woot. We even cashed in one of our PetSmart puppy coupons to treat little Penner to her first grooming session. She is the cutest.

We drove up Saturday with a carefully choreographed rest stop plan in hand for the pup. It turns out she slept the entire way, forcing us to wake her up for potty breaks and food (and pictures....whoops). The drive was incredibly easy and fast despite the hour loss in time zones.

One picture every hour.

Our hotel was beautiful! We stayed at the Alexander, which is a boutique hotel located in downtown Indy. A lot of art is featured in the lobby, halls, and rooms. While I wasn't a fan of relaxing on our plush California king below a snapshot of impoverished children, most of the art was really cool. The lobby featured a display of old vinyl records formed into birds (Anthem, 2012 by Paul Villinski). The staff was absolutely incredible as well. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend this hotel. Our favorite features, however, were the dog-friendliness and proximity to attractions.

Poorly photographed art. Check out the website for The Alexander to see its true beauty.

This was our do not disturb sign. For real. I giggled like a 12 year old when we left this on the door so housekeeping wouldn't disturb Penn.

On Sunday, we went to my first ever NFL game and saw the Colts take on the Raiders. Darren McFadden, a former U of A player, started as running back for the Raiders, so it was cool to relive my undergraduate experience of cheering for him. Unluckily for us, Indianapolis was super hot all week. Luckily for us, Lucas Oil Stadium had its roof closed and air conditioner cranked to make the game quite pleasant (even if McFadden lost).

Our seats were in the second row of the upper deck...not the best, but surprisingly better than I thought they would be. I loved seeing the downtown skyline lurking outside the stadium.

On Monday, we checked out the ACS conference and expo at the Indianapolis Convention Center. The place is absolutely huge, so more time than I care to admit was spent locating where we had to be later in the week. That night, I presented a poster on my research at the Sci-Mix. I did some networking with a lot of cool people from both academia and industry and caught up with some old lab mates who happened to be attending the conference as well.

I smile like a goon in posed shots, so here is a candid moment for your enjoyment.

Tuesday was more of the same. That night, Food Network's Alton Brown gave a lecture for C & EN. It was awesome for a super fan like myself. Even Mr. Hog was laughing and enjoying himself. Alton covered ten myths surrounding food handling and then converted a water cooler and fire extinguisher into a blast chiller for fruit. It was highly entertaining. After his presentation, we were instructed to check under our seats for prizes. Wouldn't you know, I had a blue ticket taped to the underside of my chair awarding me a meet and greet experience with the chef. The door bouncer ladies took pity on poor Mr. Hog and allowed him to come in with me (and the other 100 or so winners), so he didn't have to trek back to the hotel solo.

I gave my poster again in an organic session on Wednesday. At this presentation, they scheduled a band, The Born Again Floozies, to begin playing for the last 30 minutes of the thing. It made it nearly impossible to talk chemistry, but I wasn't complaining. We enjoyed listening to and watching them for the hour or so after the presentations. I can safely say this is the first time for me to experience a tap dancing rock band.

We headed home later on Thursday than we originally intended due to a souvenir hunt, a last minute stop at Shapiro's, and a missing credit card mini-fiasco. Everything worked out, though, and it was smooth sailing from then on. Somehow, we narrowly avoided St. Louis rush hours on the way there and back. I'll count our blessings.

Indianapolis really surprised me in a good way. Before the trip, it was just a smoggy, gloomy city in my mind. Now, I realize it is pretty clean and features some beautiful attractions right in downtown. This is another city that Mr. Hog and I drove away from feeling like could be home one day (despite the fact that we witnessed almost one wreck per day)...especially with pharmaceutical powerhouse Eli Lilly headquartered there. Hooray chemistry.

P.S. This is my first post since the blog has turned one year old. I'd like to give a big thank you to the friends, family, and random Pinteresters who have kept this thing alive. All three of you readers mean the world to me. :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes...

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A few Saturdays ago after many discussions, budget meetings, and Internet research, Mr. Hog and I made a decision that married people often choose. It was time to expand our we got a puppy named Penny! If you follow me on Instagram, this post is probably old news, but at least now you have a one stop shop for all of her adorableness. If you aren't a dog person, prepare to be converted (or just skip this post).

She is a Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) that we brought into our home at 5 weeks of age. Yes, this is younger than recommended, but her momma had stopped feeding the litter as soon as they hinted at cutting teeth. Little Penny was being formula fed and needed a new home that was willing to support the somewhat needy pup. We gladly accepted her and have grown more attached than I ever thought possible. I love how she is mostly white with just a hint of copper on her ears. Her five siblings looked decidedly more Jack Russell-esque, but we are completely enamored with our tiny snowball.  Mr. Hog wasn't even a dog person, yet he was the one begging me to take her into our lives.

She is just the most adorable little polar bear ever, and she is growing up super fast. We have seen her cut in all her puppy teeth, grow strong enough to not get tipped over by the metal clasp on her leash, and gain enough stamina to stay awake through supper. She loves going on nightly walks/carries around campus and Wilson Park. Her hobbies include napping and sleeping and napping some more, attacking dried leaves, and sitting for treats.

This was before she could stay awake through her dinner.

She pretty much goes everywhere with us. She and her daddy are waiting for me to get out of TJ Maxx here.

Without fail, she does some big yawns when she wakes up.

She is taking a break on campus. Being loved on by every single sorority recruit is tiring work.

We are trying to keep her off the furniture, so I was playing with her on a pillow...until we both passed out at 9:30. #YOLO

After I left her on the pillow, she rolled onto her back to sleep like a human.

I can't always resist a good couch cuddle though, that's what early Saturday mornings are for. (Ignore the bed-head ponytail.)

When she does make it to her crate, she has been known to subconsciously escape.

We are completely smitten. In a few weeks, we will have our first family vacation to Indianapolis for a chemistry conference. Be prepared for plenty of Penny updates and check out Instagram for the play-by-play.

Disclaimer/Self-Justification Side Note: I had thought for a while now that my first dog would be a shelter dog, but several reasons crept up to consider an alternative. After having some bad experiences babysitting a larger dog breed in my last apartment, I knew I physically needed a smaller animal. Also, we needed a puppy to mold and train to be a well behaved, apartment friendly pet. It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, after all. After taking stock at our local animal shelter, none of their dogs matched this criteria. All of the puppies were larger breeds. I still feel somewhat guilty about it, but I know we did give a loving home to a puppy who needed us. She came from a nice couple in Oklahoma who happened to own two JRTs (that they use as farm dogs) that happened to have puppies. It's not like Penny came from a puppy mill, so I can at least rest a little easier. If you are looking into getting a dog, do consider shelters first. Make me feel better. :)