Thursday, December 27, 2007

Twas the night before Christmas...

Twas the night before Christmas and everything was stirring in our house! We had all the family home plus the Aikens came for a while too! I think it's the most people we've ever had for Christmas. Christmas morning I got to be with Juan and AnnLaura while Aurelio discovered Santa had left him toys! It was great. Of course Aurelio sat in the middle of his new car track with lovely cars and trucks all around and played with a roll of toilet paper. Ah to be one again!

I got some really amazing presents. The best presents are the ones that you would have never thought to ask for but realize how much you want it when you open it! Pretty much every present I got fit in that category! Pretty awesome really.

By the time I gave Martin his socks in progress there was only about 1.5 inches to go before the heel. I got good and started on the heel turn, but now I need a wee little bit of help. I'm going to be selfish and start another project. I want a pair of fetchings to wear with my new red coat. Lime green! Too tired to night, but tomorrow for sure!

(ps...I stole all the photos from AnnLaura and Annie)

Sorry about the red-eye buddy!

Are we hot or what?

Oktoberfest here he comes!

Every boy's dream! This kid's got a very wonderful uncle!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas traditions...

We all have Christmas traditions of one sort or another. My family seems to be very tradition oriented. So here are a few of ours...

Advent - we celebrate Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. We have an advent wreath that AnnLaura made when she was really little. It's all made of pinecones and acorns and lots of glue! After dinner, the candle for the week is lit and we have a song we sing that Mary Lu Walker wrote. There's a verse for each week plus a verse for Christmas day. We also get little presents sometimes on Sundays. I suppose that stems more from Hanukkah more than advent, but none the less it adds to the tradition!

Angel Chimes - after we light the advent candles and sing, we light a set of angel chimes and sit in silence for a bit and watch and listen. Aurelio really likes this part already!

Christmas Carols - after the advent song and after the angel chimes we sit at the dinner table and sing Christmas carols. We go in a circle and each person picks a song and we all sing. John always picks Jingle Bells. AnnLaura and I usually are silly during the glorias for Angels We Have Heard on High. I like Up on the House Top and Mom always ends up making us sing Oh Jesus is Our Chirstmas Tree. That song is best when company is around, because they are pretty surprised by the song and we can't really get through it without laughing so hard we cry! It's a lovely song...really lovely.

Recording Christmas - We don't do this anymore, but I still remember it as a tradition. We never had a video recorder, but mom used to always tape record the time when we were opening presents. Now that I think about it, I wonder where all those tapes are. It might be kind of fun to listen to them!

Christmas stockings - I LOVE the Christmas stockings. This one has changed a little over the years. We all give each other little stocking stuffers in addition to under the tree gifts. When I was little I remember opening stockings on Christmas eve and then on Christmas morning we would find that Santa had filled them again in the night! Very exciting! Now we open stockings with Christmas breakfast...after we open the presents under the tree.

Waiting - used to be that we had to wait for AnnLaura to get here from Chicago. It took a long time for me and Martin to realize that there was basically no way she could get here by 9 in the morning like we wanted her to! Now that we're all living here there and elsewhere we still end up waiting for someone.

Mom's Pepsi - Every year we all get settled in. Mom is usually the last one in the room when the rest of us are ready to rip open the presents. Once the first person is about to start opening a present...oops! Mom forgot her Pepsi. One of us has to go get it for her. We all mope and groan like it's the worst thing in the world, but secretly I think we kind of like it.

Present wrapping - I kind of already mentioned this, but I wrap the presents for mom every year and have for probably 10 years. I love wrapping presents, but AnnLaura traditionally has the best wrapping paper. I don't know if it's because she lives in cool places or because she has an eye for the cool paper or what, but her presents always look spectacular! Martin does not make the wrapping effort, but he does gift bags. Or sometimes gift bag. One year he would put a present in the gift bag, give it to the person to open and then ask for the bag back and put the next present in it. Last year the presents were wrapped though and I'm going to guess that was Annie's influence!

The last gift(s) - Martin hoards gifts while everyone else is unwrapping. So when we're all done....wait...Martin still has 5 things to unwrap! He's always been a bit of a rascal! Wouldn't be Christmas without it though!

Shopping - The day after Christmas we go to the mall and anywhere else to try to get good deals. It started because one year we had more presents to return than usual. Now we go every year whether we have presents to return or not! John usually gives us a Visa gift card and we spend that. It's really just loads of fun.

Nutcracker - I was in ballet from 3rd grade till sometime in college and every year the Nutcracker is the first weekend in January after New Years. This is usually is around the 12th day of Christmas. Of course I'm not in it anymore, but Mom is! She's the Grandmama in the party scene and steals the show every year!

Twelfth Night - I guess we like to celebrate as long as possible! So on the 12th day of Christmas we have little presents after dinner. Just little things. Like stocking stuffer type presents. I like it that we have one last hurrah before we move on to Valentine's day!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2 inches...

two inches does not refer to the amount of snow we're supposed to get. It's how much I seem to have done on almost every knitting project! My socks have progressed some, but not as much as I was hoping. My mom added another project for me to do. It's a cowl thing. At least it's easy, but it does kind of take away from the time I could be knitting socks or fetchings or the Irish Hiking scarf. Here's the progress.

Irish Hiking Scarf - 36 inches long...not quite long enough!

Socks - 2 inches where close to long enough

Cowel - two inches long...only maybe 8 to go.

Fetchings - two least they are pretty small!

There you have public declaration that there is no way all these things will be done by December 25th. Sad.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And we have a cuff!

Today I was knitting and studying for the GRE. Ok, studying is a stretch, but I did watch the crossword game show for a while. That has to boost my spelling and vocabulary one way or another!

Look though! A certain someone's socks nearly have a cuff! How on earth this are going to get done by Christmas eve is a real mystery! I'm usinga pattern from the book Sensation Knitted Socks. Haven't exactly chosen the pattern yet since I'm still doing the ribbed cuff. Hmmmm...what have I gotten myself into! Time to hop to it!

p.s. if you happen to know who these socks are for, please don't mention it in any comments just in case that person happens to read the blog!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Here, there and elsewhere...

Well, Mrs. Dietel called tonight! It's time to make angels! Every year since Martin was in Second grade (1990) Mom goes over to St. James and helps the second graders make these beautiful Christmas angels out of white handkerchiefs. Most years since I've been in college I've been volunteered to go help. A bit sad to think this is the last year. Mrs. Dietel is going to retire after this year. She's been teaching 2nd grade at St. James since 1966. At some point she was teaching kindergarten because Tony had her for kindergarten. Martin and AnnLaura and I all had her for second grade. So and I will go tomorrow and smile sweetly at all the little children and try to quickly figure out which ones are bad! We must be absolutely mad, because we give each child a needle and let them sew lace on their angel. Some little second grade boys just weren't meant to have needles in their hands! Towards the end Mrs. Dietel usually plays the piano and the children since a song from their Christmas program and generally I'm reminded that I don't have the patients to be a second grade teacher!

My knitting projects are getting a bit out of hand. I can't seem to work on just one project. I finished a pair of flip-top mittens the other night and they're ok. Not great, but kind of cute. The pattern seems to be a bit odd. Next time I'll use a different pattern. I started the Intricate Stag Bag the other night because I found the perfect yarn for it here at mom's house. I'm using navy as the main color and a natural oatmeal color as the contrasting color. I got about an inch done and haven't gone crazy yet. Mind you this is my first fair isle project. Might not have been the best one to start with, but there's not point in taking it easy. Then of course I'm still working on that Irish Hiking Scarf. I think it's about half way done. And tonight I got a bee in my bonnet to start a pair of fetchings for a friend of the family who I love. I don't know when I think I'm going to get this all done. I should only be working on the Christmas knitting, but I want to do it all! Annie...we need to sit and knit!

It's been a blessing and a curse going through all the yarn here at mom's house. Mom had the bright idea to get me giant zip lock bags so I could organize it better. Today was the day for that. Kind of fun to go through. I'm super excited because I found some black and gold yarn! A skein of each! Now I can make a pair of Purdue Boilermaker fetchings or something else lovely!
I have a new ( to me) red wool coat that I'm excited to make some accessories for! This is where the curse comes in! I want to knit everything RIGHT NOW! There are only so many hours in the day though. Alas alas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Never doubt...

I should have never doubted the weatherman! We got 10 inches of snow! I'm feeling a little bit stuck in the house. Martin just called though and he's going to come dig us out a little. Isn't it great to have such a wonderful little brother?

Time to wrap more Christmas presents!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I'm not convinced...

We were supposed to get up to 7 inches of snow today. They were going as far as to call it a blizzard. I'm not sold. It's 9:45 now and there are a few inches, but no where close to 7. Of course now the weatherman says we'll have 10 inches by morning. Hmmmm.....I suppose time will tell. Churches have already canceled services. It's all a little dramatic if you ask me!

Today was my first day as Santa's little helper. Every year, I wrap all the Christmas presents for mom. I've done it for years. I love sitting in a pile of presents surrounded by all the different beautiful wrapping papers and bows and ribbons! I like trying to thing of the perfect way to wrap things. This year, I've been a wee bit lazy though. Mom can't find any labels, so right now each person has their own roll of wrapping paper. AnnLaura's is pretty with stripes and lovely colors! Martin and Annie have Hanukkah paper. Martin's is mostly blue and white and silver with dredels. Annie's has several colors and menorahs and if my memory is correct it's got a lot of gold accents. My paper is Hanukkah paper to! Blue with silver menorahs. Anja's paper is red with raindear and snowmen. Very cute for such a little girl! Aurelio will get cute paper too, but his has Santa and snowmen. I'll just sneak this in an maybe no one will notice too much. I now have dishes for a salad party. Georgeous blue glass bowls and huge serving plates to match. Juan might get gold with stars, but I'm not sure yet. I haven't wrapped any of his presents yet! And I'm done wrapping presents for now because I lost the tape. I always do that. Every single year. I don't know where it goes. I must walk around and put it stupid places, but it's no where to be found. One year, I had a tape dispenser that I could wrap around my wrist. Now that was a good idea! Of course I must have managed to lose it too!

Ah the joys of Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Done & Dusted!

It's done! The thesis has been turned in and I'm free as a bird! I already finished a mitten today and I took Baxter to the groomer. He's looking very handsome. Not even going to bother blogging more tonight. I have no real desire to be at the computer and nothing can keep me glued to it tonight! Amen to that!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

24 more hours...

Guess what! I have internet at mom's house! I never even bothered to check, but tonight I got the little pop up that more than one wireless network is available. It depends where I stand and the connections is a little dodgy. On my bed, I connect to 'belkin54g.' In the dining room, if I stand in front of the window I catch the Holiday Inn wireless from down the street. In the living room I can get Randy Strickland's wireless, but I have to be standing up and in front of the window closest to the hallway which is odd because it's the window furthest from Randy's house. Oh the joys of modern technology!

So, it's 2am and I'm about as excited as I can be! The state I'm in is not short of a miracle! Only 24 more hours and this thesis will be done and dusted and flying through the wireless waves across the big blue pond! I'm really fairly close to being done now. Just need to write my conclusion and recommendations and then do a few more revisions here and there. Nothing too major. Who knows...tomorrow night psychosis may set in! Earlier I remembered that nothing in Dublin is even open till 10, so having it emailed to Katharine by 4am my time would probably be fine. God so help me if I'm still awake at 4am working on this stinkin' thing!

Send lots of encouraging and persevering thoughts my way!

Late night blogging...

(written about 11pm Monday)
I have to say…this is picture perfect for me. I’m in a dark room with just one light on in the corner. Neurons in my brain are on over-drive thanks to the large cup of coffee I had tonight. I’ve got all my school stuff spread out on my bed, computer in my lap, snacks and water an arms length away. And the best…Baxter is asleep with his chin on my knee. Have I mentioned how much I love my dog? If only everyone could have a dog so wonderful! The world is a wonderful place to be right now!

Things I’m going to do when this thesis is done and dusted…sleep in, sit and knit with Annie, read a newspaper, take Baxter on a long walk every day, celebrate Dana’s birthday, put all my dishes in the basement, figure out mom’s sewing machine, take Baxter to the groomer, wrap Christmas presents for mom, do something to earn money and maybe…just maybe go for a run or a swim. This list is by no mean exhaustive, but it’s a good start!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I'm stuck...

Seems like all of Chicago iced over today, so I'm kind of stuck here. Actually, it's probably safe enough to drive home, but there's nothing terribly appealing about driving for 3 hours not knowing if there's going to be a slick patch on the road. I suppose that makes me stuck here by choice.

I'm kind of stuck on my thesis though. And that's not by choice! I can't seem to get the darn thing over about 6500 words. I need 10, 000 words. So, you can look at it as 3500 more words or about 6-7 more pages. I keep typing and typing, but the word count seems stuck. I get so annoyed with this thing. On the other hand, I'm surprisingly NOT stressed out about it. I think it's wonderful that I'm 3000 miles away from my stressed out roommates. Panic mode seems to be contagious and since I have no one to catch it from , I'm going to see if I can complete this with minimal stress levels. Plus, last night I got more help than I was ever expecting! Aurelio helped me get things going last night. See?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The saddest thing...

Aurelio has chicken pox! Yesterday he didn't feel good...mild fever & extra snuggly. This morning he woke up ith spots everywhere. He had his vaccinelast week. There's a 5% chance a kid will get the pox within a month of havin the vaccine and it's usualy mild and not conageous. Poor litte guy! Thing is, his birthday party is tomorrow and AnnLaura is calling everyone to cancel. Even though it's generally not contageous, everyone who is coming either has a new baby or is pregnant! Well, excpt for me and mom and John. AnnLaura had such a wonderful Peter Rabit party planned too! It's so horrible, but we'll still have fun. Maybe we'll go to the Goodwill and we're going to get ice cream. As the resident dietitian, I say boys with chicken pox need ice cream. Hee hee...

Friday, December 07, 2007

I love the zoo!

Today I got to go to the Brookfield Zoo with my sister and my most wonderful nephew. So much fun! It was fridgid cold, but we did inside things so it didn't much matter. This was Aurelio's first dolphin show! It was so cool! He tensed up in excitement every time they jumps and tried to mimick their noises. The polar bears were the only outside animals that weren't bothered by the artic weather. Oh and some dear type mountain goat thing. The monkey house was pretty nifty. They divided it by country/region. There were the South American monkeys, African monkeys and Asian monkeys. But maybe the coolest thing...other animals were mixed in. Like an aardvark! I mean, when was the last time you saw an aardvark? And better yet...a sloth! And I got to see the sloth move! Sssssllllllllooooooowwwwww motion for sure! It was awesome!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

One more week...

Lack of posts can be blamed on the library. Blogger is blocked by the library web master. Grrrrr! Except that I just remembered I can email my blog! Ha! Very clever.

Today I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Haven't been this grouchy in ages. I stayed up late working on school stuff, but still had to wake up at the crack of dawn because of the dogs. Sadie, my mom's fat little yippy dog has been sleeping with me. That's fine. I don't mind...keeps my feet warm. But she goes ballistic in the mornings wen Baxter wants to get in bed and snuggle. So this mo there I was with Sadie running up and down the length of the bed yapping at Baxter and Baxter whining at the foot of the bed. Baxter could eat Sadie if he wanted to, but for one reason or another he let's her boss him around. So then Baxter started jumping up on the bed, then Sadie throws a fit, then Baxter jumps off the bed and the cycle repeats. I was not entirely amused. Usually they get along better and we can all fall asleep on the bed together, but not this morning. Finally just ended up getting bundled up and taking Baxter for a long the freezing the snow...and I had no mittens! How can I have no mittens?

So, now I'm settled in at the library. I found a nice pattern for mittens already. I'm just glad that one week from today my thesis has to be turned in and I can relax. Hopefully today is the end of the grouchies!

Monday, December 03, 2007

One thing at a time...

Last night we had a lovely family get together and Martina & Annie's house. They are lovely hosts! AnnLaura, Juan and Aurelio came down from Chicago and of course it's always a treat to see Aurelio! He's such a gorgeous little guy! Anja is getting bigger, but of course that's not to say she's really very big at all. Maybe up to about 7.5 pounds or a little more. She's got about 10,000 faces she can make! It's pretty cute! I love it that our family is growing and that we're all close enough to get together! Last night might have been the first time all four of us kids were together in a really long time. We got photos, but not on my camera, so I will continue with a photo free blog for now! I hate my current camera, but let's not open a can of worms!

My big brother is in the National Guard and is going to be deployed to Iraq. Every family's worst nightmare. Since he's been in the Guard for a while, I suppose I should have been prepared for him to get deployed at any time, but I was kind of hoping it wouldn't happen and of course I'm nervous for him to have to go. I'm really proud of him though and pray all the best for him and his team.

Today my goal is to finish the material and methods section of my thesis before lunch. I suppose I'd be closer to making that goal if I weren't updating my blog! Ha! Right, so.....back to work for me!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The crazy life I live...

I've actually gotten work done today! It's not easy getting back into the pace of things, but it's happening. This project will get done!

So this whole Ravelry thing....oh my could spend all day entering in information. I have a feeling that once you get going it's not so bad, but it's going to take a serious chunk of time to get everything entered in there! I don't know how everyone else has done it!

I have some beautiful yarn that's turquoise with a thin black thread of what might be mohair or something else fuzzy in it. Let's face it, I'm not a fiber expert and the yarn doesn't have a label. Looks like there might be as much as 300 grams or so and it's about 2 ply. I think it would make gorgeous socks, but there's so much of it that I think I might be able to do something else. I'm hereby asking for suggestions! If you know of a pattern please post it to me! I will take the wool to River Knits tomorrow to see how much of it there is and will post that later. I'll post a photo too. Please though....give me your suggestions!

Another addiction I have is dishes. I love dishes. I said I don't collect anything in my questionnaire, but I lied....I collect dishes. I'm only 27 and i don't even have my own place to live and I have at least 7 sets of dishes. They're all nice too. I've been collecting the white milk glass with the grape pattern on it since I was probably 6 years old. I have trunk fulls of the stuff. Ok, trunks and boxes and tubs and bins! I LOVE Fiastaware! Have a combination of new and old. Most of my dinner plates are and green. But I have dessert plates and tumblers and serving dishes in all the other colors! I have Christmas dishes (maybe two sets, so I suppose one set is going to my big sister). I bought dishes in Ireland that I think are from the Basque country. Can't wait to have a tapas party with thouse! Mom had a set of awesome retro dishes with concentric circles in orange and yellow and brown. Trust me, they're cool! and I finally fell in love with a China pattern. It's Grace China Formal Garden Pattern. I bought a set at an antique store. Actually my mom's my Christmas present! So there you have it....I confess...I love dishes!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blogging from the back room...

Annie is nice and is letting me use the internet. Yeah! I just got my hair cut today. I love that feeling...knowing that all the nasty dead ends are gone and of course it always looks better when someone else styles your hair! Yeah for Tim Deeter!

(well, now I'm back at Cafe Vienna)

I really missed knitting club tonight. I like the routine of going and the social outlet and all the laughs. Instead, I went with my mom to her English class at Purdue. It's the class all first year university students are required to take. Most of them had an exam tonight, so mom took them pizza and I had to carry the drinks. It's always kind of fun meeting her students. I've been going to class with her since I was a few weeks old, so it's not new to me! It was cool, because I went back to the car at 5 o'clock and the Hail Purdue was ringing from the bell tower! I want to go to school again at Purdue, but I realize that it just might not work out and I'm preparing myself for that. I'd do just about anything to do my PhD there though. I'd be absolutely thrilled to do research at Purdue and live close to home and be close to friends. Fingers are crossed!

I don't know that there's anything else to report. Maybe something exciting will happen another day!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Three Currencies...

I had lunch with my dear friend, Dana today at Qudoba! I LOVE Qudoba. I always get the same thing...Queso burrito with chicken please! I went to get money to pay and realized I had money in three different currencies in my wallet. That was a funny sight to see! Czech crowns, Euro and Dollars.

There's a guy here at the coffee shop who I recognize because he used to always be here when I lived here a long time ago. So I'm he a PhD student? Professor? Post Doc? Has he failed out several times? Then I thought, oh dear! What if he's looking at me thinking the same? What is that girl doing here still? Shouldn't she have graduated by now?

I'm glad to be home, but some things are a little overwhelming. Like the grocery store. I went to the new Payless and didn't make it through even half the store before I had to get out. The isles are so long that they are split in half. There's a dividing isle perpendicular to all the main isles. Probably because if there weren't, it would be some kind of fire hazard! How nuts is that? I'm going to have to sneak some photos to post...seeing is believing!

Well, time to get some serious work done. This thesis isn't going to write itself!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Getting Settled In...

This is the first I've gotten to check my email since Thursday morning. Funny how attached we are to technology. I don't even have a cell phone right now. I'm going to remedy that situation though here in a little bit. I'm enjoying a lovely cup of coffee at Cafe favorite coffee shop at home! The only thing is the side area is under renovation. They have these dumb murals of sea side scenes. I dont' like it. It looks...well....dumb and it doesn't fit with what I think of when I think of any coffee shop. Maybe a tacky Italian restaurant, but not a coffee shop.

Exciting news....I GOT RAVELRY! I don't have time tonight to get things set up, but I'm excited about getting that going one day in the not so distant future.

I also have been raiding my mom's stash. She has some really beautiful yarn. I found some Irish wool....maybe 800 grams of orange (a bright, but pretty orange) and about 500 grams of blue. There's some other lovely wool yarn, but not in large quantities. Enough for scarves and mittens and hats and things like that though. I also got to look through all her needles that have been picked up at thrift stores here and there over the years. I found a new set of bamboo double points that are a nice brand. I just can't remember the brand right now. Ah, man....I can't remember the brand of the other beautiful wooden needles I found either. Drat! The most special needles I found were dark wood with decoratively carved tops. Turns out they were my Great Aunts! I love having a pair of really special needles!

Mom and I went to River City Knits...the local yarn store. They have a beautiful selection. I'm looking forward to going back to find a special yarn for my sock pal. I saw some that I think I want to get for her. I'm excited! Speaking of my sock pal...I've almost finished a pair of socks for fun/slash practice! Good news! They're going to fit me! I was worried I'd mess something up and they wouldn't, but they will!

I've got to go sort out the cell phone situation so that I can be in the communicating world again.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's thanksgiving....

Another sock swap contest...I have to blog 10 things I'm thankful for. Seeing as I'm fairly fresh off the airplane I have a light hearted list of things to be thankful.

1. That I didn't break my knee when I fell down the stairs at the airport.
2. That the USDA didn't find anything in my bags when I went through customs. (for the record I had a vanilla bean from Mexico)
3. That Aurio decided we can be friends. (he's not always happy for people other than his mommy to hold him)
4. That my sister's 130 pound dog didn't wake me up by whaking me with her tail or head butting me this morning. (she's getting old...that's was my saving grace!)
5. That my sister makes a lovely cup of morning coffee.
6. ;ll;,k <----Aurelio is thanksful for his new Radio Flier Rocket and I am thankful it has an on/off switch.
7. It's snowing big beautiful fluffy snowflakes in Chicago!
8. That my sister and I are the same size and that she let me have clean clothes to wear so I don't have to unpack yet (poor planning of my part...should have had an outfit ready).
9. That I can sleep during the 3 hour car ride from my sister's place to my mom's. (I was up at 7 and suffering some serious jet lag).
10. Mostly I'm thankful that I get to see my entire family very very soon!

More airplane blogging...

This was the hardest it’s ever been to leave Dublin. It’s weird because I’m coming back in just 8 weeks, but I think the problem is that it made everyone realize that this adventure is coming to an end. It’s the first any of us have really had to admit it. Last night I was clearing out my room so Alma can move in. It’s always strange to see your personal space to bare and naked. I won’t see Alma again in Doublin probably. Especially strange because I’ve only known her since September, but she’s become a very special friend to me. She gave me an organic vanilla bean from Mexico and a precious little woven keepsake box. Inside the box was a beautiful necklace made of the tiniest little snail shells. It’s gorgeous! Katharine cried last night which made things a little hard at the time because it hadn’t really hit me so much yet. It’s strange knowing we won’t be roommates in a few months. She’s been a good roommate. I must have hugged Taryna 5 times this morning before I really left. I’m so glad to have her for a friend. I mean who else am I going to sit and knit with and watch Oprah?!?! Kevin took me to the airport this morning which was extra sweet…bitter sweet though. But it was a comfort to have such a good friend to keep me smiling on my way out there.

I ended up on a great flight! Ok, that’s not the right word….a great plane. Flight was annoying like long flights are. The plane is an Airbus 330-300 so four seats in the middle and two on either side. No one sat next to me…love that! I don’t know if it’s a new plane or what, but it has personal on-demand TV and movies! Woohoo! I had all these grand intentions to watch movies the entire time, but I didn’t. Ended up just watching Hairspray and Over the Hedge. So here’s my big dork moment…I’m always curious if planes have GE engines. Upon take off I could tell the plane has GE engines. GE engines have a wine to them when they get fired up. (Thanks John) So then later during the flight I felt silly because when I looked out the window there was a big GE logo on the engine casing. Guess I could have figured it out a lot earlier if I had bothered to look out the window. Oh well, I was too buys watching movies.

I managed to knit a little cell phone/iPod case during the flight. It’s cabled, so I had to get a little creative. I had the cute little wooden needles that can double as hair sticks. No scissors and no cable needle though. I used a bobby pin for cabling and the knife from my lunch to cut the yarn when I needed it. Oh, and the bobby pin also doubled as a needle for doing a mattress stitch seam and for picking up stitches for the flap. Innovative knitting 101, I suppose.

This flight seems like it’s never going to end. Captain says we lost time due to strong head winds, so I’ve officially been on the plane 8 hours. As far as I’m concerned that’s about 5 hours too long. I’m ready to get off this plane!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sock it to me questionnaire...

I'm doing my first sock swap and I have to answer theses questions.
  1. How long have you been knitting? Do you consider yourself beginner, intermediate, advanced? My mom taught me to knit a few years ago. The only reason I thought it was cool was because I found out Julia Roberts knit sweaters on the movie sets. Mom came over to Ireland to visit me this July and I relearned. She dragged me to knitting club and I'm hooked now for good. I'd say I'm intermediate. Definitely not advanced yet, but past the beginner stages I think.
  2. How long have you been knitting socks? I've not been knitting socks long. I've done a lot of practicing. I've started the toe several times. I can't say much about the socks I'm knitting now or else some one's Christmas present wont' be a surprise. Any of you who are I hope she's not knitting my socks...relax...I promise I will send you a great pair of socks!
  3. What are your favorite fibers to work with? I like to work with wool or wool blends. I suppose I'm an amature when it comes to fibers.
  4. What is your favorite color? I like the colors of, orange, yellow, brown. I also really like pink. I'm going to cut to the chase on this though...I think we're basically saying what color socks we want by saying our favorite color. I love surprises and will be happy with whatever you choose! I like wearing rich colors. Not really into pastels all that much. Still...I can't imagine being disappointed with anything you pick.
  5. What are your current WIPs (works in progress)? Currently I'm knitting something small for my new niece. I can't say exactly what it is since sometimes her mommy and daddy read my blog!
  6. Name your favorite yarns, (brand, fibers, colors, etc.). I knit a sweater with Debbie Bliss Merino Aran in a taupe color with raspberry accents. It was lovely to work with. I would like to knit sometime out of a naturally died, hand spun yarn. Sounds so elegant!
  7. What are some yarns/fibers that you stay away from. Anything that feels like it's been made of recycled soda pop bottles! I don't really like the trendy eye lashy stuff either.
  8. What is your family situation? (Married, kids, pets?) Baxter is the most wonderful dog in the world! He's the real man in my life. Ha Ha! I have a wonderful family, but no husband and no children of my own. I had a cat - Jack - who my mom adopted when I moved to Ireland.
  9. Name some of your hobbies. I really enjoy outdoor sports and activities. I like cooking and eating good food. Wine has become more of an interest and I like trying different beers too. I also enjoy board games. I'm moving back home on Wednesday and look forward to hanging out with my dog more than just about anything. He's my pride and joy!
  10. Name some of your favorite movies? Little Miss Sunshine, You've Got Mail, Once
  11. Do you like to read? I wish I enjoyed reading. I try to read books on occasion, but I can't remember the last book I actually finished. Magazines are nice because you don't need a long attention span for them!
  12. Do you collect anything? That's actually kind of a hard question to answer. I suppose I'd say no, but my guess is other people might disagree. I like kitchen gadgets. Especially if they are red. My yarn collection is growing. I suppose I have lots of stuff that could be categorized as a collection, but I still don't count it as one.
  13. Do you own an iPod or mp3 player? I'm an ipod nano girl.
  14. What are your favorite type of knitting needles? I have a set of Addi turbo circular needles that I find delightful to work with. I like the colorful nylon/plastic needles though. They're so cheerful!
  15. What knitting notion could you not live without? Stitch markers. On one surf trip, I forgot stitch markers and ended up ripping a receipt into little strips and twisting them around my needles.
  16. Who are some of your favorite designers? I have to say....I really like Joelle Hoverson's patterns in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I don't know that I have enough experience to give all the designers out there a fair chance though.
  17. Do you subscribe to any magazines? (Knitting or otherwise.) I don't subscribe to any knitting magazines, but I do subscibe to Outdoor Magazine. Before I moved to Ireland I had Cooking Light. That's a great magazine!
  18. When is your birthday? August 25
  19. Do you have a "wishlist", (on Ravelry, Froogle, or Amazon)? wish lists.
  20. Do you have a Ravelry ID? According to antsy....I signed up on November 1, 2007,I am #51769 on the list, 1897 people are ahead of me in line, 7966 people are behind me in line, 83% of the list has been invited so far.
  21. If you had a sheep, what would you name it? A boy sheep....Arnold. A girl sheep...Ilene. Those seem like nice sheep names.

Nearing the end of an era...

I've just boarded my plane in the Netherlands and in about 2 hours will be back in Dublin. This is the 44th plane I've been on in the last 435 days and marks a sad closing of sorts. It was my last eruo-trip with Big John. We've had at least 16 trips covering more than 12 cities in 8 countries. Ironically, we've nevber really hung out in our home town together. Another fun stat...I have only 4 more spaces for stamps left in my passport. So, in less than 48 hours, I'll only have 3 stamp spots left in the passport and I'll be boarding flight number 45.....home sweet home!

(just a note: I wrote that on the plane and posted it when I got home. The dumb guy at passport control in Dublin used a whole new stamp spot to stamp me back into Dublin. That was annoying since they usually just stamp on the Visa page. So now I have 2 real spots left and another place where a stamp could fit even though there are already 4 on the page. 3 Spots left. it's only really a little over 24 hours till I'll be on my way home sweet home.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Things I'm going to miss about Dublin...

I am just dying to go home, but getting sentimental about leaving at the same time. I've had a running list of things in my mind that I'm going to miss and figure I'll jot them no specific order of course...

Aldi Bio-detergent capsules, random surf weekends, Zach - the neighbor's dog, the hustle and bustle of Grafton Street, Patagonia gear sales, knitting club, Taryna yelling at her computer, being within walking/biking distance of anything and everything, weekend trips all over Europe with John, the fireplace, digestive biscuits, chats over a cup of hot chocolate with Kevin, sharing dinners with Alma and Taryna, pubs, the Cake Cafe, (list to be continued as thing come to mind)

And here are the random things I'm looking forward to when I get home...
Baxter, Seeing Anja Louise, celebrating Aurelio's first birthday, Arni's junior salad, going to the River, going through Mom's yarn stash, taking walks down town, Cafe Vienna, Mom's cooking, seeing old friends, seeing if Tide Coldwater is as good as Aldi bio capsules, sleeping in my own bed, the Goodwill, McCord's strawberry coke with real strawberries, (list to be continued as things come to mind)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Random things happen sometimes that turn out to be fantastic. I signed up for Facebook a few weeks ago thinking I was going to get 5 free itunes. That didn't happen, but it did put me in touch with some old friends. I suppose that's the purpose of Facebook and MySpace and such. Anyway, turns out this guy, Scarpacci, is in Prague. So we were able to get in touch and met up in Prague while I was there. Ended up being the most fun hanging out with him.

I can see why people love Prague. It's gorgeous! The food is really good. Well, except I had one strange meal. Not bad, but really strange. A chicken breast with apples, caramel sauce and melted cheese. The caramel sauce looked for all the world like brown gravy. It was a mind game every time I took a bite! "This is going to taste like rice and caramel" take a bite..."Ooh, yeah that's not brown gravy. That tastes like caramel." It was an exhausting experience for my taste buds. The only bad thing about Prague is that despite the small size of the city, it's remarkably easy to get lost! I don't know how many times we walked in circles or just entirely in the wrong direction for 5 minutes before we realized we didn't know where we were. Oh well, got to see more of the city that way, I suppose!

When I'm flying I almost inevitably get so bored that I start reading the airline magazine. I try to save it till I'm really bored though. So when I reached this point on my way home from Prague, I grabbed it from the seat pocket. Usually I've already read it, but I haven't flown Aer Lingus for over 2 months, so this issue was new material for me. Then it clicked and I frantically flipped to the movie listing pages! Guess what flight are on my flight home next week! Hairspray and Transformers. I've seen Hairspray, but I'm excited to see it again. It will be hard to control myself from singing along with all the great songs. I haven't seen Transformers, but everyone said it's pretty good. Woohoo! Exactly 7 more days till I'll be on my way home to see my family, my dog, my friends and hey....I'll have good movies to watch on the way!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

We did it!

Harriet - quite possibly the nicest Welsh girl in all of the world - taught me and Mary to crochet tonight. We are quite proud of our granny squares. I'd say my square is more of a rhomboid! I'm going to miss knitting club a lot when I'm gone.

I'm pretty homesick today. I think it has to do with a beautiful little girl who I'm dying to get to see! I keep looking at all the photos of Anja Louise. The last time I was home was when I found out Annie was pregnant. That puts it into perspective for me!

Plus, I got lots of photos from AnnLaura yesterday too. Aurelio is getting so big! He's going to be doing pull-ups soon which should make his daddy proud.

I'm ready to go home and see everyone. Very ready....

She's Here!

Anja Louise Schap - 5 lb 13 oz and measured 18 inches

I was in Prague for the weekend and had a wonderful time. Even more wonderful though is the birthday of my new niece! She's absolutely beautiful in the photos! Now I'm even more excited about going home and seeing her for myself! Now I can go crazy with girly colors! So exciting! Congratulations to Martin and Annie!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tim Deeter

Tim Deeter is the best hair stylest in Lafayette, Indiana. Possibly even in the world! My sister-in-law just got her first Deeter-cut and loves it! I ended up getting my haircut in Dublin and was not thrilled at all. Tim would have never let me walk out looking like that! So this reminds me, I need to get an appointment to get my hair cut soon after I get home. Tim works at the Design Team. If you decide to go for a new style, let him know I sent you! He should know someone is telling the world how fabulous he is!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wine & Wonder

The Cake Cafe is quite possibly the best cafe in all of Dublin! The have amazing sandwiches and they serve things on and in mismatched antique dishes. Even Wedgwood! Recently there was a wine tasting series. Last night Kevin and I got to go the Wines of the Mediterranean class! Now, I've got a developing passion for wine since living in Europe. My first influence were the vineyards near Toulouse in the south of France. Then, living in Portugal for 6 weeks and studying wine there really taught me a lot. Unfortunately, I know more about the chemistry than the tastes of wine. I'm starting to be able to pick out scents like floral and spicy. My shining moment last night was when I thought the wine smelled kind of like pie filling and the expert later told us he thought it smelled like preserved berries! There was a lovely mix of people - younger and older - and everyone interacted throughout the evening. The wine was good. I can't say anything really stood out at me as a top notch wine, but having the chance to try wines from an area I'm unfamiliar with was great. We tried 3 from Greece, 2 from Italy and 2 from Spain. The funny things was that at the end, we were asked first to vote for our favorite. Then, we had to guess the prices. As it turns out my favorite wine was also the most expensive wine! What can I say...I have expensive taste! There will be another series of classes after Christmas, so for all of you in Dublin - contact the Cake Cafe for more details!

Tonight is knitting group and alas...I don't have a project suitable to take. I'm thinking it's about time to start either a pair of convertible mittens or a pair of wrist warmers. I started socks the other night, but that's going to take way too much concentration. I've got my Irish Hiking Scarf that I should be working on. Maybe that's the best bet. It needs to be done by Christmas for a certain beautiful friend of mine back home!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fun Games Fun Times...

Well, first off...the Honey Show yesterday was a bust. Harriet and I had so many wonderful knit things to sell and no one to sell them to. It was the wrong audience. Thanks to Miriam for buying one of my hats. I hope it looks cute on your grandson!

I've discovered a few new games. Zigity and Dicewords. Zigity is right up my alley! It's a card game and it takes very few brain cells to play! It's made by the same company as Cranium - another great game! Dicewords is well...not a good game for me. You have to be able to think of words and spell them. It's kind of combination of Scrabble and Boggle. I know some people who would kill me in this game! Mostly Martin, Annie and my friend Kristy. Last night there were four of us playing Dicewords...two native English speakers and two non-native. My housemate Taryna from Malaysia was blowing us out of the water! I don't know how she does it, but she can thing of all kinds of words! Alma, from Mexico was doing great too! Kevin and I were struggling a bit. Kevin won though becuase he had one word worth over 100 points. 'Bouquet' was his last word that put the rest of us out of the competition. Kind of anyway. He was thinking bouque might be a word, but I helped him and told him to put the T on the end. So really it was my word and he should have won. On the other hand the game was lasting forever and we were all ready for it to end.

I've started thinking about doing a PhD. My adviser here is talking to me about it and my adviser from Purdue has a few projects I might like too. I have to get a lot more details on all fronts before I get too excited. If I go to Purdue, the GRE is in my near future. Ugh. Who wants to have to take the GRE at this stage? Or ever for that matter? If I do a project here, I need to know where I might live. Can I mostly live back home and travel back and forth? What's the funding like? Can I do it through Trinity or UCD instead of DIT? Do I even want to do a PhD? If I did it at home, where would I live? Apartment? House? Lafayette? West Lafayette? And here, I thought I'd just be going home to find a nice cushy job. Now I have all kinds of complications.

For now though, this thesis project needs to get done. Only 6 more weeks! How scary is that? Right....back to work!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Entirely Frustrated!

Oh my gosh! So I have to use the school computer lab to do SPSS (statistics) stuff.
I'm at Kevin St and getting more and more frustrated by the minute.
First off, this college houses a decently large number of students and
only 12 computers in the lab. They are pretty much always full, so
it's not like they aren't being used ya know? More would get used if
there were more available. 2 of the 12 computers won't let anyone log
in right now. A third computer is connected to the scanner and you're
not to use it unless you're using the scanner. So really there are only
9. More complaints...The tables in here are ridiculously high for the
height of the chairs. I have to raise my shoulder AND fold my leg
underneath my bum and sit on it to be an a comfortable height to type
and let me tell you...this is not a comfortable way to sit! And X controller is turned off and you need it to run gmail
properly, so I'm looking at my gmail in HTML view. Then, because
everything is jacked up, the system won't let me open the SPSS data
base that I started the other day. It was an email attachment and they
said I don't have permission to open attachments. Are you kidding? I
mean these are all simple things that a school of technology should be
able to handle.

It's going to take more than one bar of chocolate to get through today!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Knit & Stitch Show

Today was the first day of the Knit and Stitch Show at the RDS here in Dublin. Talk about a little slice of heaven! I'm not sure how I managed to walk out of there without buying any new wool. Well I do...poor student budget and plenty of yarn in the stash! My one little splurge was to take a workshop on spinning silk. Ruth MacGregor taught the class. Lucky for me, I'd used a drop spindle when I was little so it wasn't so new to me. The top-whorl spindle is a bit different though. So now I have a few meters of lime green silk yarn! I bought some more in red and purple. She says if I spin it and then ply it, I'll have enough for a scarf or mittens. I'm thinking mittens. Really bold, colorful mittens!

I haven't talked about my thesis much if at all, but for anyone wondering if I do anything for school...I DO! My literature review is basically done and I'm working on setting up my statistics data base. Joy. I'm still collecting data...I'm the obnoxious person who calls at dinner time to ask if you will participate in my survey. Well, only if you're a breast feeding counselor in Dublin. I'd say most of you are safe from my call! I have two calls to make tonight. Maybe a few more if I'm lucky.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Addiction...

I've started knitting. Actually, Mom taught me to knit a few years ago, but I never really got into it. She taught me again when she was here in July. Since then I've been going to knitting club on Tuesdays in Rathmines at Cafe Moda. Laugh all you want, but it's great fun! I've gotten to be friends with this really cool girl named Harriet. She's a super knitter. I bet there's nothing she can't do! The rest of the gang is hilarious! Several of them have blogs that they actually keep up to date and last night they inspired me to be better about blogging.

Here's my attempt at upgrading this blog from a simple travel tales blog to a real, updated, open to the public blog. If you look to the right, you'll see my works in progress (WIP) list with photos. I've also added a list of things I've finished. My little brother has a blog now. Well, as it turns out he's had it for a while. It's an exercise journal type of thing. All you have to do it look at it to see I have the most physically fit brother on this planet. He's a stud. He's also the best foster dad for my precious Baxter. Baxter has enjoyed nearly a year of pampering by my Martin and Annie.

Back to the knitting...I actually knit myself a sweater. I'm going to start calling in "the jumper" though because in Ireland sweaters are generally called jumpers and since I knit it in get the idea. That's all for now folks!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Rain, rain go away...

Today is the 29th strait day of rain in Dublin.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Surf's Up!

For once, I was not looking longingly at the car with cool sports equipment tied to the top! I actually got to give surfing a go! The boards they gave us through the surf school were practically pontoon boats! Huge foam things. Even when there wave died, I could still manage to balance a bit. Might even get to go back next weekend. Hopefully the waves will be bigger and I'll have more exciting stories to tell about getting creamed by waves. Who knew I'd be surfing in Ireland!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Something for the environment...

Living in Europe, I think I might be exposed to a little more environmentalism in my every day life than I was at home. In Belgium you will be fined if you do not sort your recyclables form trash! In Dublin, McDonalds has drop boxes for battery recycling. In Portugal there weren't any simple trash bins. Every bin had 4 parts...plastics, glass, cartons and trash. In my house there are toggle switches for every outlet in the house so that even if something is plugged in (such as the stove) the power can be turned off when not in use. We have to turn the hot water heater on and off before and after showering. At the Patagonia store, you can even recycle your clothes. The grocery store prints on your receipt the percentage of your purchase that's Irish grown/raised/produced.

Have you ever calculated your carbon footprint? Your carbon footprint is a representation of the effect your human activites have on the climate based on the amount of greenhouse gas produced. This is measured in units of carbon dioxide. If you want to feel guilty about the way you live try this... My carbon footprint is rediculously high because of all the air travel I do. (Sorry World)

So, I'm going to stop flying any time soon, I don't have a hybrid car, and I forgot to turn off the hot water heater this morning. I'm pretty sure we have to live our lives without feeling guilty, but we still have to be good stewards and take care of what we've been given. The world happens to be a pretty big thing to take care of! Here are just two things that are worth looking into.
Those curly-q lightbulbs really do save a lot of energy. They aren't that expensive anymore and you can get them in different strengths to match the light output form normal lightbulbs. Plus they last forever or something close!
Tide coldwater detergent is not a hoax! It's got enzymes in it (which are biodegradable) that break up stains in cold water. The enzyme will die (actually they denature) in hot water. In europe it's referred to as biological detergent and it's quite popular. Most brands have a biological version.

Those are the things I can think of for now. I'll keep a list of things I think are worth looking into and you can let me know if you have things you think are worth looking into.

Take care and keep in touch.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

10 minutes at a time...

Today I ran a 5 mile race. Here were my thoughts...

Pre-race: I haven't run 5 miles since...right...this is just asking for failure. Well, there are walkers. I can always join the walkers. No. You will run. Oh great! I have to go to the bathroom. Bad timing. There's no time now. Dang it. Now I have to run 5 miles just to get to the bathroom! I'll just run it 10 minutes at a time.

Mile 1: I hope I can keep pace without my ipod. Those ladies are twice my age and wearing spandex pants. Hmm...well...more power to 'em. I wish I had my ipod. You know, you can always tell the good runners, but the mediocre runners like me...they all look like athletes so they are hard to pick from the crowd. Humph. How do people run without music blasting in their ears? Ok, so far so good. It's cold, but surely it will warm up soon. Oh good...mile 1 in 10 minutes almost exactly!

Mile 2: I can run 3 miles. If I can get through this first two, then surely I can coax myself through 3 more. Woohoo...half way mark! The rest is all downhill. Well, except that it's not down hill. It's uphill. That stinks. Hey, I know where I am now. Home is just down that road. I could cut out now and be home in 10 minutes. That's not going to work, my bike is at the start line. Drat. So how much further? Hmmm...Martin always said to focus on your arms when your legs get tired. Maybe that will help. Yeah! There's the 2nd mile marker. 10 minutes and a few seconds. Not bad.

Mile 3: Ok, now I just have to make it 3 more miles. I can do that. I've done it before. Pace is right on track. At this rate, I have to run for 30 more minutes. 30 more minutes! I wish the pavement was even. Maybe the sidewalk is more even. Nope. Ok, this is kind of fun right now! I'm starting to pass a few people. Uh oh...mile three is a slow one. 10 minutes and several seconds. Pick up the pace!

Mile 4: Well, I've officially run my farthest in Ireland. Any bit over 3 miles is a Ireland record I wonder if anyone else in this race can say their cross training includes rock climbing and ballet! Ha! Here's hoping uniquely trained muscles and enthusiasm make up for lack of endurance! Some old fart directing race traffic just told me to put some effort into it. Jerk! I am putting effort into it! I thought those guys were just supposed to say things like "Good job! Keep it up! You're almost done!" Again, just over 10 minutes for that mile.

Mile 5: Only a mile left. Alternating the focus on legs and then arms seems to help take my mind off the rebelling muscles. I've come this far, there's no stopping now. Still have to go to the bathroom. Ha! everything is in miles and now they have an 800 meter mark. What's 800 meters? You shouldn't mix metric and imperial units in the same race. OK. Put the peddle to the metal! There's the finish line!

Finish Line: 50 minutes 16 seconds. Not competitive by any means, but at least I ran the whole thing. I think I'm going to collapse. Oooh. How nice. Old ladies passing out water and snacks. Maybe I'll survive after all. Now, who wants to race me to the bathroom!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Is this really Ireland?

There's been no rain in Dublin since last Sunday. I'm starting to wonder if I'm even in Ireland anymore! I can't complain though. The sunshine is more than welcome to stay!

The house across the street just sold and there are people moving in. I'd like to meet my neighbors who have 2.9 million euro to spend on a semi-detached house! Yes...that's right...2.9 MILLION!!! The house was in shambles and a developer bought it and 'flipped' it. The house two doors down is on the market for 1.5 million. It's not worth much, because there is no back or front garden. Isn't that amazing? This may be the only time in my life that I live in a million dollar neighborhood!

A friend of the family is in Ireland on Business this week, so I'll visit him for the weekend. He works for Eli Lilly and their plant is down south in County Cork in the city of Kinsale. I've not been down south yet, but I hear it's beautiful. There's a rugby tournament this weekend, so we're going to that. I have about a zillion guide books for Ireland that should help give us ideas for the rest of the weekend.

I'm working on being the most physically fit American in Dublin. In addition to rock climbing, I've started ballet again. I just take two classes a week, but it's a great workout! I'm also running a decent amount. Running is not usually my cup of tea, but lately it's been fun. I even signed up for a 5 mile race for next weekend. I've been running 2 and 3 miles on a regular basis. I'll have to kick it into high gear on Monday and then hope for the best next weekend.

Other than that, there's nothing to report.

Keep in touch!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sunny Day

Today was a wonderful sunny day in Dublin. Yesterday our professors said they were unavailable today, so we had the day off. My theory is that they wanted to be out playing golf. One of my housemates suggested we go out to a town called Bray. There's a mountain of sorts there called Bray Head. We packed our lunches and took the train this morning out there. Bray head was...well...a little steeper and taller than we had imagined! We earned every morsel of lunch! The view was beautiful. Well worth the hike. I spent the afternoon in a little town called Dalkey. I go there on occasion to climb in the old quarry, but for the first time I got to explore the town. Lovely little shops, a castle, a few pubs, a church and a coffee shop or two. My friends actually had to work today, so to kill time I bought Pride and Prejudice, planted myself in a coffee shop and read for a while. Let me tell you that this is most surely NOT something I would normally do, but I quite enjoyed sitting there reading and sipping my latte. Kevin picked me up around 6:30 and we drove to the quarry. I climbed two climbs tonight, one called Thrust and the other Dipthong. Thrust is rated as HVS (hard very severe). HVS pushes me to my limits. Dipthong is only severe; comfortable enough but with a few tricky spots. Kevin will be my climbing buddy this summer as Chris and Richie are both jetting off on extended holidays.

Tomorrow it's back to the old grindstone. I'll be in school most of the day...wishing I was out in the sunshine again! We're going to quantify the RNA we isolated the other day. The other day we isolated DNA and RNA from cervical cancer cells. This class is a lot more demanding than the last. A nice change of pace, I suppose. Biotechnology is pretty new to me, so I'll have to work extra hard for the next few weeks. Learning without struggle is not learning at all, right?

Keep in touch!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Wecome back party...

I arrived back to Dublin yesterday. After a crazy long week in Porto, I was exhausted. I have this amazing friend who happens to live in New Haven, Connecticut named Kristi. When I got home, on top of my mail pile was a green Nalgene bottle with a postage label and air mail stickers all over it! Inside was a really cute pink t-shirt. Talk about a cheerful welcome home present! Kristi is probably the only person I know who would think to stick a postage label on a Nalgene bottle and ship it to Dublin! Today a few of my friends took me climbing at Bullock Harbor. It's a small fishing harbor here. There were even seals! After climbing we went back to their place. Another friend joined us for coffee and hot cross buns. Later we had a feast of crepes with yummy fillings like fresh strawberries, chocolate sauces, maple syrup, etc. It was a perfect Welcome back to Ireland party Tomorrow it's back to school. This module is on global food issues. I'm excited. I still have to work on my paper from Portugal. It's a masterpiece in the making. We're hoping to submit to the Journal of Food Science in two weeks. We have until then to perfect it. Here's an excerpt from the introduction of the paper...

Oxygen management constitutes one of the most challenging and demanding tasks to the winemaker. Starting from grape juice to evolving wine during fermentation, finishing with the maturation process, several critical steps regarding oxygen exposure can be found where the quantities supplied will have a major impact on the organoleptic characteristics of the finished wine.

It has been reported that phenylacetaldehyde, 3-(methylthio)propionaldehyde (methional) and 3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethyl-2(H) furanone (sotolon) play a critical role on the perceived oxidative spoiled character of white wine. Several mechanisms may account for there presence in beverages but it has been demonstrated that the synergistic effects of increasing temperature and O2 at lower pH increases greatly their rate of formation. Nevertheless, these oxygen dependent substances contribute positively on perceived quality in wines that derive their character from oxidation notably Madeira, Sherry and Tawny Ports.

Although monitoring molecular oxygen in wine during any stage of processing is relatively easy, this is not a standard procedure in winemaking and consequently a great deal of guesswork is still involved.

The chemistry of oxygen presents some particularities which makes its presence, if not controlled, a serious risk to wine sensory stability, molecular oxygen requires an oxidising agent, a metal catalyst to become reactive, like ferrous or cupper ions, afterwards the reactivity of the reduced species increases dramatically, superoxide anion <>

During maturation oxygen regimes are only limited by the permeability of the stopper if bottled or the permeability of the barrel, and the optimal amount will also depend on the “resistance to oxidation” of the wine, these two factors will dictate the shelf-life of the product.

Presently the paradigm of wine industry, taking into consideration the economic importance of the problem is that despite data being available regarding these two critical measurements, conclusive evidence is not available for practical application.

In order to optimize shelf-life three conditions must be addressed and become standardized for industry application; firstly dissolved oxygen must be known; secondly, both the quantity and quality of antioxidants present in solution need to be evaluated; and thirdly the permeability of the stopper need to be provided.

Actually, this was our first introduction. We're going to restructure the paper to focus on how new packaging techniques are going to modify the flavour/aroma of wine over a period of time. The new packages limit oxygen permeability and so instead of flavours/aromas developed by oxidation, we will have flavours/aromas developed by reduction reactions. I've learned a lot about chemistry, that's for sure. My next task for the paper is to look at all the methods for measuring antioxidant capacity and classify them as those which measure antioxidants in the Fenton reaction and those that measure antioxidants in the Weise reaction. It's just going to be so much fun. (I hope you can hear the sarcasm.)

In the mean time...keep in touch!

Friday, February 23, 2007

A document of world importance...

This weekend I was perfectly relaxed and hanging out at the beach again. That part of my life is over...

Today was mentally overwhelming. The course on wine started on Monday. The material is very well organized and I can't say I've been this excited about learning in quite some time. I was even excited about microbiology for maybe the first time ever! Today was intense though. I had three hours of lecture in the morning and two in the afternoon. We covered some microbiology, some biochemistry and finished up with organic chemistry. Let's face it, keeping the sciences balanced is important. I managed really well until the last 20 minutes when we were learning about diammonium sulfate as a preferred substrate for.....yup...that's when I lost it. I have no idea what happened after that. My note suggest we talked about the sulfate reduction system, mercaptans and ethanol toxicity. All of which mean basically nothing to me at this point. I can however describe the bottling process of sparkling wines! My brain was feeling deflated after five hours of lecture, but there's no rest for the weary. Dr. Cesar Ferreira requested my presence in his office after class so that he could discuss the paper that Justin and I will write. This paper just grew totally out of control. Justin and I will now work along with Bimal and Prateek to write a paper that will be published. It's an interesting concept...let me explain...

Portugal must export a variety of wines to the easter countries such as India and China. We live in a world that desires equal opportunity health opportunities. If soy seems to provide health benefits in Asian countries, then the western nations want to get their hands on soy. Wine seems to have health benefits for the French (French Paradox), so the Asians want Mediterranean wine. You might be surprised to find out that wine is not a terribly stable food. To ship great quantities of wine across the water to China poses many problems that degrade the quality of wine. Changes in temperature, for instance, will contribute to the spoilage of wine. In order to preserve the wine, we must consider the package, added preservatives, etc...all might help preserve the wine. The wine must be preserved so that the foreign consumer will perceive good quality, drink it, and receive the antioxidant benefits. Whew...

So yeah...that's what I'm up against. I have to write something from the nutrition perspective providing a reason why we need to get wine from Portugal to Asia, but also explain that we have to think beyond the antioxidant benefits to human cells. Before we can provide these antioxidants to far away places, we have to overcome the transportation/spoilage issues. Justin will tackle the chemical composition of the degradation compounds, aromatic compounds and chemical reactions that may be occurring. Bimal and Prateek will address the potential solutions based on other industries and make suggestions for further research projects.

I HAVE TWO WEEKS TO DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was expecting to write a nice little paper about how a glass of wine after dinner might protect your tender little heart. I was NOT planning to write about the distribution conundrum! And I was NOT planning on getting published in some food science journal. That being said, I'm kind of excited. Dr. Ferreira sees me as the nutrition expert who will provide the justification for the whole paper. Having a paper published would be an unexpected surprise. Dr. Kearny back in Ireland expects my thesis to be published, but I wasn't expecting to get published from a food science perspective. If this paper does get published, you can be assured that a copy will be provided for your reading pleasure. Then I really will feel like an expert on wine!

Keep in touch!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I earned the right...

So I think it's safe to call myself a colts fan. Let's be honest...I haven't had much interest in the game until recently but hear me out. It's 3am here in Portugal and the game just got over. I may have been the only person in all of Portugal with a Colts t-shirt on. Katharine is from Chicago, so we pretended we were rivals even though she could have cared less. The game was on some Eurosport channel and was broadcast in Portuguese. Do you know how much you have to pay attention to a game when there's no one there to tell you what's going on? Also, unlike all my American friends, I had to watch the guys stand around on the field during each time out and during each commercial break. When there was a commercial it was one of two...there's some handball tournament coming up and something about soccer. Not exactly the $2.6 million commercials you were watching. The other thing I missed out on was the Superbowl food. No chips and velveeta chili cheese dip...not even a coke. I had some Oreos and Katharine had a bag of low fat chips. Yum. So all I had was the game. That being said...can't I call myself a Colts fan now?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Boa Tarde

So here I am in Porto. It´s like a dream. Porto is located on a river called the Rio Douro. The river is quite large like the Mississippi and leads to the ocean. In fact, parts of Porto are on the ocean. The other day, some friends and I went to the river. We sat at an outdoor cafe for a while. The weather is cool, but the sun is shining. It's like those first days of spring when you know it's cold out, but you refuse to believe it! I take the metro/subway train to school every day. It makes me feel like a city girl! Maybe the funniest thing is that my school is pink. It's as pink as pink can be. It's a Catholic university too, so there's a big pink cross on the roof!

I live in a very nice residence. It's basically a dorm. There are single and double rooms. The double rooms are nice...they have a separate kitchen, an oven, big refrigerator, and a couch. When you come up the stairs, my cell is the furthest away. It's like running a mini-marathon just to get there. Supposedly it's 15 meters square. I don't believe it for a minute though! Maybe the room is more like 12 meters square! My window overlooks the midddle of the building...there's a roof and some construction going on. I can see the metro train tracks too. Lovely view. If the sun is shining just right, I can see a reflection of the city in the windows across the way. I have a nice wardrobe with 6 clothes hangers and a little chest of drawers. My desk is quite complaints there. Unfold the other closet doors and a mini kitchen is revealed. I have two stove top burners , a sink, microwave and a small dorm fridge. It's sufficient. Thankfully, I have my own bathroom too.

The food here is amazing. A lot of fruit in Europe is grown in Spain and Portugal. There's an overabundance of fruits and vegetables in the grocery store! Today I tried some sausage. Doubt that I'll be eating that again any time real soon. The flavor was nice, but the texture was funny because it had bread in it. There's a mall near school with a nice food court. The food I've had there is nice. Since Porto is a sea side town, the fish is wonderfully fresh! I hope to learn to cook more seafood dishes.

I'm really excited about the language here. Portuguese is much like Spanish, but words that look like Spanish words are usually pronounced a little different and words that sound like Spanish are usually spelled different. I've picked up enough Portuguese that I can order food in a cafe and ask for things in stores. Not too bad considering I've only been here 5 days.

Today has been full of culture shock, but not Portuguese culture...Hindu culture. Two of my classmates have rooms near mine. I joined them for lunch even though I had already eaten. They ate vegetable curry and rice with their hands. It was so hard not to look baffled. In a few minutes, I will take one of the Indian boys to the laundry room and show him how to use the washing machine. He used a washing machine for the first time in Dublin. He's never heard of a clothes drier though. I've never met anyone who hasn't heard of a tumble drier! I wonder if he has any laundry soap. I tell ya...some days are more than I bargained for!

I'll let you know what else is going on soon! Keep in touch!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Latest adventure...

I know I have lots of catching up to do, but a few stories from my latest adventure must do for now. Ryan (my boyfriend) came back to Ireland with me and we had a blast! We spent the first bit of the trip in Ireland. Having him see where I live was really important to me. We spent a few days in Vienna, Austria too. Neither of speak any German, but we managed pretty well with our German phrase book. Thankfully most people spoke English! There were some funny we didn't always get the food we were expecting. At a pizza place, we ordered pizza with pepperoni. Turns out pepperoni is a pepper, not a sausage! We visited a lot of churches. They are so beautiful. Very ornate. The funniest thing that happened was at Charleskirch. The church is under renovation, so they charge to get in. The cool thing is that you can take the elevator up to the scaffolding and the some stairs to the very tip-top of the dome in the church. I've never been so scared in my life! I thought I would fall to my death for sure! This is coming from the girl who jumps out of airplanes and climbs rocks! My legs were shaking so much that they started cramping up! One thing's for certain, I don't plan on working construction any time soon! Ryan wasn't any less scared than I was. We were pansies. I guess there's a lot to be said for solid ground.

I'll be without my computer after tomorrow. There's a loose connection in the power cord and it's causing sparks and melting plastic. I have to send it in tomorrow and won't get it back for 8 business days. So frustrating. Tomorrow I'll have to figure out how to get it shipped to my school in Portugal. Grrrr. In the mean time, I'll try to enjoy my technology free life. I leave for Porto, Portugal either Friday or Saturday. That's something I must figure out soon! One adventure to another!

That's all for now... Keep in touch.