Saturday, April 30, 2011

Writing My ISEP Comp...

For my international security comprehensive exam, I was emailed an essay question last Wednesday, and I have until this coming Wednesday (1 week) to write an essay in response. This is my very last comp (of 6!), and I'm really excited to finish it.

On Friday, I woke up, printed, reviewed, and highlighted the books and papers from my reading list that I thought were most relevant. I took a bunch of notes based on my highlighting, and organized those notes into the structure of my basic outline. Then it was midnight and I went to bed. (But my mind was still going a million miles an hour, so I didn't fall asleep until 1:30am...)

I woke up at 8am, read over my notes, and started writing. Jeff made me coffee and eggs and toast - brain food.

I basically kept writing from then until about 9:30pm without any real breaks. But then, I had a full first draft written!

I'd like to review what I've written and improve it, and I also want to look at how some other papers on my reading list might fit in, but then that's it!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy Hour at The Quill

Things are super busy and stressful this week, but I figured since I'm planning on spending almost all of the weekend locked in my apartment with my computer, I could take a short break for the Thursday happy hour.

This week we went to The Quill at the Jefferson Hotel at the request of Beth. Everything about it was awesome. We sat out on the patio, which was very nice and relaxed and uncrowded - and it was one of DC's very few and precious 'perfect patio' days where it was low 70's and sunny. It's on a fairly busy street, but there are enough trees that you feel like it's actually pretty hidden. They bring out olives and nuts right away (and keep refreshing them while you're there, which was probably not super healthy for me since I just kept munching away...) And the cocktails are amazing! They have some really unique options - I had the dessert rose - strawberry puree, St. Germain, and Prosecco - first, and then I tried the 'odd couple,' which included sharp cheddar cheese paired with a cocktail maid with jalapeño infused vodka and some kind of watermelon mixer. Very spicy, but really great!

Modern Family: The Complete First SeasonAnd, Jesse Tyler Furgeson, who plays "Mitchell" on Modern Family (the funniest show on TV right now), walked right past the patio and into the bar! So cool!!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

ISEP Comp and Prospectus Defense - Preparation

I've been away from my blog for about the last two weeks, and the chances are looking good that I'll be away for the next two weeks or so too. I'm planning to complete my last comprehensive exam and defend my prospectus - two really important milestones in my PhD work - all by May 11th. Wish me luck!

Apartment Decorating

Jeff stopped at Ikea on Sunday morning, we finally sold our old futon, and brought the extra coffee tables to Jeff's parents (for now, at least), so our apartment has an updated look!

Coffee Tables

Jeff and I are trying to decide whether to keep the new black, Ikea coffee table we bought recently, or whether we should go back to the old glass table that we had in our old apartment. Still up in the air...

Clothes are Back!

Our clothes from our old apartment just got back from the cleaners on Tuesday, so that marks the very last of the things left from the fire! Now our closets are full of clothes we need to go through... one more project before we're all squared away (until our apartment is re-done and we move back...)

Passover in New York

After visiting Minnesota, Jeff and I flew straight to New York City (on at 6am flight with a connection - yuck). We met up with Jeff's parents, grandparents, and brother for lunch.

From there, Jeff and I rented a zip car and drove out to his Aunt and Uncle's house - this is the first year we've done that, instead of taking the train. It was definitely a much nicer way to get out there, and nice to have our own car. By the time we got there, though, I was exhausted, so I took a nap for the first couple hours we were there.

I woke up in time to help a bit with the prep and then enjoy the dinner. We went through the packet that Jeff's uncle put together with all of the passover songs and readings. Sarah, Jeff's cousin, couldn't make it this year, but she video-conferenced in, which was pretty cute!

After dinner, Jeff and I gave Jeff's dad's cousin, Fred, a ride home (he lives on the upper east side). It was the first chance we've had to really chat with him, so that was really nice. From there, Jeff and I returned the zipcar and headed to the bus stop to take the 1:15am bus back to DC. We got in at about 6am, which was a bit rough, but then we slept til noon, which helped. :)

Wedding Odds and Ends

On Sunday, we did a lot of wedding-related shopping (at the Mall of America!) and generally figured out some of the various things that still need to be done.

Bridesmaid Shoes: We found shoes for the bridesmaids, though this was a bit more of a event than I had expected. A month ago, Katie and I found some really cute Anne Klein shoes we liked, but they were just too expensive, and the whole time I kept an eye on them, they never went on sale more than 10%. So then we found some other shoes at Payless which were cute, but not as nice, and had a higher heel. I emailed the girls about the shoes at Payless and some went and tried them on. Then, just before I was going to order them, the Anne Klein ones went on an amazing sale! So then I had to buy them really quickly (I was actually in class) before the sale was over or they sold out. The website I was buying from (Anne Klein) actually did sell out of size 7's, but I was able to find a similar sale at Lord and Taylor and they had 2 size 7's left. Yay!

I also found shoes for myself - they're yellow high heels that I found at Macy's - very cute! I bought a few different potential pairs of earrings, too. I figured I'll try it all on with my dress and see how it looks.

I also talked to Mamie about the plans for the favors - she's going to make a whole bunch of cookies and we'll package up two for each person. We decided to make "Million Dollar Cookies," which were my favorite kind of cookie when I was little - they are really good!

Minnesota Bachelorette Party!

After the bridal shower, I had the chance to get together with a few of my girl friends in Minnesota for a relaxed girls-night bachelorette party. Annette, Naomi, Katie, and I started out by chatting and baking cookies at my parents' house. They turned out really cute!

For dinner, we headed out to Buca's and ordered way more food than we needed (especially given the appetizer of cookies!) Buca's also had really fun cocktails!

Then it was back home for some champagne, cookies, and more chatting! It was so fun to have so much time to just talk and catch up, since I don't see Annette and Naomi (or Katie, even) nearly as much as I'd like!

And we figured out how to set up my camera to take multiple shots in a row - do-it-yourself photo booth!

Minnesota Bridal Shower!

Another one of the really fun things I got to do was go to a bridal shower with all of my friends and family in Minnesota. Katie and my Mom organized things, but a lot of people helped out, which was really sweet - Mamie and Emily both made lunch salads, Grandma John and Kathy made desserts, Cindy and Mary planned games, and I'm sure there was more I didn't know about.

The shower was at Mamie's new condo building, in the party room, which was really nice! We had a bunch of different kinds of salads for lunch, and some amazing desserts.

We played a game where you earned points depending on whether you had particular items in your purse (I was a runner-up), and we played the game where each team designed a wedding dress out of toilet paper and crepe paper.

And of course we played the dice game - which is a family favorite, and really is fun. Everybody gets a prize, and because of the stealing round, people are more likely to get something they actually want.

I also got a number of really nice and thoughtful gifts! Mostly people had them shipped to my house and then included a picture in the card. (It was super exciting to get the big stack of boxes when Jeff and I got home from our trip!) My Aunt Toni gave me a print of a painting that she had done!

Wedding Make-Up Trial 2

The weekend before last, Jeff and I went to Minnesota. It was our last trip to Minnesota before the week before the wedding, so there was lots to do! One of the things I did was to go back to Ivy Spa and get my makeup done one more time - I thought it was a little pink last time, so I wanted to change the coloring. And I also wanted to try the fake lashes that we were planning to use for the wedding.

I think it turned out well, but I'm not sure it's exactly what I want. Here are a few other make-up applications that I'm using for comparison...

27th Annual National Space Symposium

The week before last I was in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the 27th Annual National Space Symposium. It's the annual conference that the company I work for puts on. It's one of the biggest space conferences of the year, and it's a lot of fun - it's often referred to jokingly as "Space Spring Break." 

During the day there are a bunch of really high-level speakers, and one of my primary jobs while at Symposium is to sit in the sessions and take notes - starting last year, we've used twitter to make these notes available immediately. 

In the evenings there are lots of activities - opening ceremonies, a casino night, hospitality night (where there are a bunch of themed events in different rooms), and a dance party. I'm always telling Jeff about the conference, so this year he decided to come along. 

And we stayed at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, which was a beautiful and scenic place for Jeff to do work during the day. He also did some work at the Broadmore, where the conference is - which is a pretty scenic spot, too!