Friday, November 30, 2012

November Wrap-up

I am really ready to say goodbye to November. I've had so many projects up in the air all month for school. December somehow feels better even though it also means that I have even less time to waste. I need to stay focused and get things done! The goal is to have my entire dissertation draft to my advisor by the middle of January and I have a lot left to do before that. Still, having the end in sight makes it feel somewhat better. Although I'd feel even better if I actually had some kind of concrete plans post-graduation...

Advent Candleholder.
Hoping for one along these lines.
I'm also pretty excited about Christmas. I love Christmas, and St. Lucia day, and pretty much all December festivities that don't involve gorging on dead animals. I need to get some decorations. We got a tiny little tree from Trader Joe's and I asked my dad to pick me up an advent candleholder while he's in Sweden. I already have two electric ones for the windows (as a Swede, this is required), but actually lighting candles each week is a totally different experience.

I also keep wanting to buy extravagant holiday decorations on One King's Lane, but now is seriously not the time for spending money on things I'll use once a year (especially when you live a tiny apartment with pretty much no storage space).

Anyway, on to the monthly wrap-up. Clearly not as exciting as some people, but I was productive and quite frankly that's the main thing right now.

Things accomplished in November:

-Sent out manuscript 2 to committee for edits
-Finished draft of manuscript 3 (last night just after midnight. Can't tell if I love it or if it's a bloated piece of crap. Hopefully my advisor will like it)
-Got a journal article I'm a coauthor on accepted with minor revisions. Need to review said revisions today. 
-Applied for more faculty jobs
-Ordered new glasses
-Finished one fiction book (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
-Worked out three times a week most weeks
-Started this blog (!!)
-Survived thanksgiving, went to the animal sanctuary thanksgiving event

Heck yes, December.
Source: Library of Congress

December goals:

-Revise manuscript 2, send out to last two committee members
-Revise manuscript 3, send out to first set of committee members
-Finish lit review/intro chapter and methods section
-Finish draft of discussion section section in light of manuscript revisions
-Keep looking for jobs
-Practice driving more
-Blog at least every other day
-Go to department holiday party
-Finish Christmas shopping
-Read more fiction
-Work out five times a week

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why I turned off facebook (and you can too!)

It's been almost two months since I deactivated my facebook account. I've turned it off before but always found myself cheating and reactivating it once a week. This time around I legitimately just don't care what the people on my facebook page are doing anymore. In fact, I'm relieved to not know.

I really take issue with facebook for two key reasons. I know some people are upset about the advertising and the crummy privacy settings, and I agree those are all valid issues. But my primary issue with it is what it does to human interactions and the quality of my friendships.

  • There's something uncomfortable about knowing so much about people you never talk to. TMI. When you do run into them finally there's a real awkwardness when you have to pretend to have no idea that the other person was dumped/fired/engaged/knocked up. Worse than that, I found that I refused to post anything on my own facebook because I resented the fact that people would just look at that and never actually get in touch with me personally. If you want to know what's going on in my life how about you send me an email? Or text me? The more I interacted on facebook the fewer actual interactions I had. It aggravated me. I turned off my birthday notification the week before my birthday this summer to see who actually knew when my birthday way, and it was a good way to sort out who my real friends on there were! Since turning off FB one of my old friends actually emailed me to ask how I was doing. Less facebook stalking = more communication. 
  • My other issue is fact that majority of people on my FB are people I don't actually have any interest in. Still, somehow their big faces and babies of questionable cuteness show up on my feed. I realize I could just take them off the feed, but then why did I add them in the first place? Plus unfriending them seems like some sort of unconscionable social faux pas. Last time I turned off my FB one of my older quasi-friends who I never talk to assumed that I had unfriended her and was offended. The whole thing is ridiculous. It provides me with information about people who have no role in my life, yet I somehow feel compelled to read about them. I don't need to know that my ex-coworker's son likes to wear sunglasses and watch sports. I don't need to know that my old high school friend got food poisoning. I just don't. And it encourages my judgmental side to no end. 

So, to recap: 1) too much information without requiring actual interaction, and 2) way too many of the wrong people. Don't get me wrong though, it's (clearly) not that I disapprove of online communication. I love online communication. I've been on and off livejournal since 2000 or so. I really enjoy instagram (although I have unfriended people whose photos are unusually ostentatious. If all you're posting are pictures of yourself lighting $60 candles, drinking cocktails, and wearing $600 designer cat shoes, there's a problem. That's a post for another day though...). The difference is that there's not the same expectation to add every person you've ever worked with and that the communication is more genuine (minus aforementioned instagramers). I've made longterm friends on LJ who have come to visit me from across the country. Not so much on FB. Blogging is clearly less intimate, but so many bloggers do put themselves out there in a way that fosters actual dialogue. 

So if you're irritated that you are spending time facebook stalking people you haven't talked to in years, or if you are tired of people knowing what you are doing and in turn never actually talking to you, then I suggest turning the darn thing off for a week. Then at the end of that week turn it back on and scroll through the missed posts and ask yourself:
  • Did I actually miss out on anything? Is any of this news important?
  • If something important did happen why didn't they let me know? Are these people actually interested in maintaining a friendship with me personally?
  • Did I focus more on my immediate friends and family?
  • Did I spend time on reaching out to individual long distance friends instead?
  • Do I feel better without reading all of this information every day (several times a day)?
For me at least I've realized that it's really not information I need, and if anything it makes me feel kind of disconnected and burnt out from information overload. It also encourages me to either think negatively of others because I am judging them or because I feel like I'm in competition with them. Am I tempted to turn it back on when I graduate just to gloat? Yes, that thought has crossed my mind! But I think that's the whole point. That's kind of a ridiculous and unpleasant thing to do and just further plays into the fact that people generally only post for congratulations or sympathy. I'm choosing to squash that part of my psyche, and someone please hold me to that! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Spending today working and at some point heading to the grocery store to get things for Thanksgiving. I can't say that this is my favorite holiday, or even one I ever really look forward to. This year it's more of a distraction than anything else. Hours lost when I could be writing! Still, I intend to make the best of it. The current plan is to make:

Festive Sweet Potato Salad from Vegnews

Dreena Burton's savory chickpea tart

and the PPK frangipane tart (but with only berries this time around). 

Usually my fiance's family is pretty accommodating and there will be at least a few sides that aren't slathered in butter. It's nice to get to share at least a few dishes. I could definitely do without having to pretend that I have the foggiest idea about how American football works.* 

Alright, I suppose I get productive today so I can spend all of tomorrow cooking!

*Note for non US readers. Every year on Thanksgiving there's a be a big American football game on tv that everyone then has to watch if they're not actively cooking or eating at the time. There's even a wikipedia page about it. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Today I need to catch up on all the work I neglected to do this weekend. Trying, trying, trying to have the first draft of my third manuscript out to my advisor by the Monday after Thanksgiving. At the moment I'm going through all my data codes and organizing them into broader categories so I can write memos on them, which will then make the framework for my findings section. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Holiday Card Roundup

You can deny it if you want, but it's that time! The time to order your holiday cards! I always try order cards from small presses because the quality of the paper is just so much better than what you'd get at the store. I'd like to think that people notice when they open their cards (especially since they cost so much more than mass produced drugstore cards!), but who knows. I'm sure people just open them and stick them in a pile somewhere (heathens!). I for one appreciate every card and then careful tape them up on my window frame.

Either way, writing holiday cards is very much a part of the holiday experience for me, so it's worth a few more dollars to feel like I'm sending people something nice. Plus, it's good to support small businesses during the holidays!

 These are some of my favorite cards this season.
letterpress holiday

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Middle of November

First off, I made a playlist of songs that I feel are appropriate for the middle of November (if you're looking at this in a reader, you may need to click over to see it). 

Second, only listen to this playlist when you're out walking around on a cold November afternoon if you have time for indulging your inner sadsack. 

Thanksgiving with the Turkeys

Saturday was Thanksgiving with the Turkeys at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. I can't even say how much I enjoy this event every year. Great vegan food for a great cause and you get to hang out with all the animals! Also, the weather was pretty much perfect. 

This year I decided to bring a dessert and opted to give the PPK frangipane tart recipe a try. I'm not actually that crazy about pears (something about the texture), so I went ahead and poached (sugar, vanilla, cloves, cardamom pods, and a cinnamon stick) the pears to help sweeten and soften them up. 

I also added some blackberries. I had to bake it for probably 15 minutes more than the recipe calls for in order for it to begin to firm up in the center, but thankfully the comments had already made it clear that that might be needed. I was able to snag a piece of it from the desert table and it came out really well! Will definitely consider making it again for Thanksgiving. 

And then we were off to the Animal Sanctuary!

This guy (Dexter) arrived at the sanctuary with a broken back. He was apparently still in a bit of pain so people were told not to get too close, although some lady did stand there with her baby and it got nibbled on. 

I didn't catch the name of this goose, but he was amazing. He ran around the whole sanctuary yelling at people. At one point he stood in the door to the little gift shop cottage and yelled at the people inside for several minutes. 

The pygmy goats were the best thing ever. At one point the black one was playing with the bigger brown one and they were rearing at each other head butting. That alone made the trip worthwhile. Anyone who says that animals don't have a conscious thought process has clearly never spent any time around animals in a setting where they're free to enjoy themselves.   

And of course we ate. There were a couple hundred people there which was nice to see. The event gets more popular every year!

And then back home and off to an engagement party for a school friend. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Things I Love Thursday

Here are some of my favorite things this week so far:

  • I ordered a bottle of Honore des Pres Vamp A NY a week or so ago. I wasn't 100% convinced at first, but now I'm absolutely in love with it. It's vegan and all natural apparently. I was a little worried because the packaging listed it as containing benzyl salicylate and I'm allergic to salicylates in medicine, but it seems to be such a small amount that it doesn't bother me even with generous applications (you need to use a fair amount since it's not shock full of chemicals). I get plenty of vanilla tempered by balms. It's not that boozy, which makes it nice for daytime as well. I got my bottle on ebay but you can pick it up at Saffron Rouge and Spirit Beauty Lounge for about $98.

A rapturous blend of tuberose and rum, a pinch of vanilla bourbon all tied together with three magnificent balms: Benzoin, Peru and Tolu Balm.

  • I am absolutely in love with Next Organics Dark Chocolate Almonds. My local grocery store started carrying them, but you can get them on Amazon and some other online stores as well. For people concerned about glazes, I have not confirmed that the glaze is vegan. So if that's a concern for you, you may want to look into it first. 

Dark Chocolate Almonds

  • Winter time approaching means that seasonal teas are out! Celestial Seasonings has a few different holiday teas, but this one is always my favorite. It's delicious! Apparently you can also use it to flavor your oatmeal. I'll definitely need to give that a try at some point. 

Sugar Cookie Tea

  • I've been listening to a lot of lady jazz singers lately and Blossom Dearie is one of my favorites. I feel like she doesn't get much recognition, but she's wonderful! Plus, Blossom Dearie was her real name, which makes me smile. Give it a listen and let me know if you like her as much as I do!

  • I'm clearly the last person in the world to read these books. I resisted them forever, but I finally decided I would give them a try when they went onto the Kindle lending library. So I read one of the books a month and I'm almost done with the Goblet of Fire. I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I really love them. Not because of the books, but because I spent so long refusing to read them!  I always liked the movies, so I'm not sure what my issue was. 

  • Finally, the new Björk video for Mutual Core. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fall in the City

 I wanted to share some pictures I've taken around the city lately. It's been so beautiful and all the trees are yellow. If I wasn't chained my laptop all day I'd be spending my hours wandering around instead.
I love all the ironwork around here. 

So many gorgeous trees. 

Polkadots forever!

Magenta tights I picked up at H&M forever ago. I need to get new ones at some point!

The grocery store is full of apples. I tried a new kind and unfortunately it was a total letdown. Too sweet and too soft!

And rainbow chard was on sale! Growing up a vegetable hater I only found out about rainbow chard in the past few years and now it's one of my favorites. 

Favorite Vegan Bags - November

Vegan Handbags

1.  deux lux: Gramercy Messenger, $155
2. Cornelia Guest: Mixed Weave Remi, $239
3. ASOS Metal Tip Satchel, $49
4. deux lux: Anais turn lock satchel, $130  
5. Modcloth: Test Prep Satchel, $65

I love that seeing that there are more vegan handbags out there that don't look cheap or incredibly granola. Especially companies that are all vegan, like deux lux and Cornelia Guest. I have yet to own a Cornelia Guest just due to the hefty price tag, but I'd love to buy one someday to see how how the quality compares to some of the other bags on the market.

Also, I actually ordered the Gramercy Messenger when it was on sale on Gilt the other day, so I'll definitely post about it when I get it. I had pinned it to my Pinterest account weeks before, so I was thrilled when I saw it on sale! Like everyone else on the internet, I'm definitely a sucker for a good satchel bag!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Productive day (to offset all the days I do squat)

I worked all day. From 10am until 8pm. I think I got up maybe about four times. Next thing I knew the sun was setting and I hadn't been outside once. I did get dressed though, that's always a plus! 

I only had three things on my to do list today. 1) meditate (nope), 2) exercise (nope), 3) get my second manuscript out the door to my committee members (done!). It's somewhat tragic that getting things done for school also means that I abandon all of the other things in my life that make me healthy and happy. On the bright side, my cat really likes it when I'm at the table all day. She actually feel into such a deep sleep laying on my arm that she was twitching and having cat dreams! 

But I'm happy enough about getting that darn paper out the door. Or at least I will be until I get feedback, which I inevitably need to take a day just to process and remind myself not to take these things personally. Tomorrow I either take a mental health break or get started on cleaning up my coding for manuscript 3. So many moving pieces at once... 

Now to eat some Trader Joe's dosas and rewatch Battlestar Galactica. Is it just me or are Tuesdays the worst TV day? I refuse to watch New Girl!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Night Poem

VIA MEDIA by Karin Boye (1900-1941)

I once asked for joy without limits,
I once asked for sorrow, infinite as space.
I wonder if modesty grows with the years?
Fair, fair is joy, fair also is sorrow.
But fairest is to stand on pain's battlefield
with stilled mind and see that the sun is shining.

For more Karin Boye in English visit the Karin Boye Society

Jag bad en gång om glädje utan gränser,
jag bad en gång om sorg, som rymden ändlös.
Månn blygsamheten växer till med åren?
Skön, skön är glädjen, skön är också sorgen.
Men skönast är att stå på smärtans valplats
med stillad håg och se, att solen lyser.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Falling into November

It's a million degrees today (well, to be fair it's more like 16C, it just feels like a million indoors when the A/C is turned off) despite it being November. Still, it's decidedly looking like fall outside. 

Fall means three things for me right now. The first is that summer is done, which is always an incredible relief. I enjoy the cool green summers in Sweden, but I've never been able to get used to the terrible humidity that characterizes the East Coast of the US in the summer. This is decidedly a good thing. The second is that Christmas is coming. Also a good thing. I'll take dark nights and mulled wine over sandy beaches any day of the week. The third thing, however, is stressing me out. 

Fall means that I have to be finished with my dissertation in about three months. "Have to" is obviously somewhat subjective, but assuming I want to be able to walk at graduation this spring then it is a fixed deadline that I need to meet. Of course, the smart thing to do when facing a crushing deadline is to start a blog. Right? Right! When it doubt, waste time online. It's never failed me before (bizarrely enough, it really hasn't failed me. Somehow everything always gets gone on time and done well). 

And so here I am with a new blog. All my previous blogs have died a fiery death on account of feeling vaguely uncomfortable oversharing in a public space. This time the goal is to avoid oversharing and to avoid having this turn into a progression of sub-par outfit of the day posts. I'm not an artist. I have no clue how to operate anything beyond a point and shoot camera. I don't even own photoshop. And somehow that has always bothered me in the past. But I realize now, why should I somehow be troubled by the fact that my life choices have put me into a social sciences doctoral program instead of into an MFA? Just because the blogosphere is dominated by tattooed graphic designers (which is fine!) doesn't mean that those are only legitimate voices. 

This blog is to chronicle the non-crafty, non-designer, but still non-traditional lifestyle of a graduate student. Still, this involves making certain concessions. If you are your brand then it makes sense to have a self promoting blog. I am not my brand. Having a lifstyle blog will if anything just make you look less serious to an academic community (note how Academichic is now defunct). So when I blog about fashion and style, it will be probably not feature a picture of me in said fashion. Still, I think this endeavor is worth a try. I think the voices of non-mommy blogger non-design professionals are under-represented right now and I'd like to think I can offer an interesting additional perspective.