Saturday, August 11, 2012

Quote of the Week

If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Through out the past two years, I've tried to do just that. I found this quote about a month into my MBA program, and I've held onto it since then. I think I was waiting for the day that it would be true, the day that I would have my degree in hand. That day has finally arrived!

As of today, I am officially a Penn State alumna. I'm now better prepared to advance my career, and in turn provide more for our family. I recognize how corny that sounds, but it really is true. If there was no plan to use the degree to get further into my field and search out new opportunities, there would be no point to having it. I'm all for collecting things that you love, and while I do love learning and being in an academic environment, I think a collection of degrees would just be too much time an money. I think you can actually hear The Big Guy's sigh of relief. Now I'm set apart, in a very good way.

I'm finally going to have free time again! That's the part I'm most excited about today. I can't quite imagine what it will feel like to read anything that's not about economics and strategy and business philosophies. Chick lit and Pinterest- here I come!

But aside from that, there are several people who need to be recognized for their contribution to my success. (Cue award acceptance speech orchestra). This is probably going to get long. Just so you know.

I was blessed throughout this process to have some amazing team members. Doug, Joe, Holly, Gary, Matthew, Shaun and Fred- there is no way that I could have gotten through the past two years without you. So much of the program is team based and having team members who you trust to do their part, and do it well, is key. Being able to respect each other and recognize that the differences in your strengths is part of what makes you more effective together is also important and really makes working together much easier than it would be otherwise. Being able to walk away and consider all of your teammates friends is a wonderful surprise and actually makes some of the most difficult times in classes fun. I had fun, and I know it's because of the people who shared this experience with me.

In addition to the support of my teammates, I had a ton of support at work. Dan, Barbara, Julie, Rebecca, Keisha, and everyone else at the office- I cannot thank you enough. You've listened to me vent about professors I didn't like, assignments that threw me for a loop, and even allowed for flexibility in my time off when I panicked about school deadlines and the volume of work that happened when my responsibilities at the office ended for the day. We talk a lot about being a family at work, and I know how true that really is.

My friends and family have been kind enough over the past two years to give me room to talk about very little other than school and occasionally leave things early or step out of an event temporarily to take a skype call or finish an assignment. They've also shared that occasional glass of wine when Friday rolled around and I needed a break. Cliff, Janet, Mandy, Ashlie, Jessica, and everyone else, thank you. I know I've asked a lot, but you never hesitated and always made sure I knew that you cared and that you wanted me to do well.

My parents were, as anyone who knows them would expect, amazing. From celebrating with me when I got in to Penn State- seriously, you should have heard how excited my dad was- to making plans from day one to attend my commencement ceremony. It means so much to have their support, and to see their confidence in me. I know it helped, more than they realize. I've figured out that this is just what they do. They love unconditionally, they give nothing but support, and because it comes naturally to them they don't even realize how huge that contribution is. I never thought that grad school was out of the question. I think I always knew that some form of grad school would happen, and because of them I always knew that it could. Of course, the whole reason I considered Penn State is because that's where my dad got his MBA. He's pretty great, and I'm excited that this is one way I get to be a little more like him.

And last but certainly not least- The Big Guy. He's the one who really had to take on the brunt of everything else that needed to get done around the house when I didn't have the time to do it all and making sure that I held on to whatever shreds of sanity were left at the end of the day. He's made sure that I take breaks and that I'm not too hard on myself, something I absolutely have a tendency to be. I am my own worst critic. He's been my biggest cheerleader through everything- never doubting me even when I was doubting myself. He's put up with late nights, random grumbling and muttering as I work through assignments, extra dish duty in the kitchen, more time in front of the stove making dinner, unnecessary panic, necessary panic, me being a bit scatterbrained, me completely taking over his office space, and so much more that I know I'm forgetting. There's that scatterbrained thing. He's never complained. He's always reassured me that I was doing something great for us and for our family, and that no matter what it would all work out well in the end. Well, we're at the end, and it certainly has worked out well. I hope you know how much I love you, and how much it means to me that I never had to go through any of this alone. I'm so lucky to have you. Thank you. Thank you a million times over. I may never be able to really put into words just how much you mean to me.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Long Time, No Read

I know, it's been so quiet over here. You probably thought that I forgot about you. I didn't, I promise. There's been a lot going on lately- most of it school related. I had the best of intentions to really get back into blogging on a regular basis, but I continued to underestimate just how much time studying would take.

It's been anywhere from 25-35 hours each week on top of everything else The Big Guy and I have going. That's a lot of time. It's also time that I know will be worthwhile when all is said and done and I have my MBA in hand.

It's only a three weeks away. That's it- three weeks. It's hard to believe that a two-year project is so close to fruition. (Yeah, I use words like fruition in casual conversation now. Grad school does that sometimes.) 

So, while I haven't been around much lately, I'm definitely planning on coming back and I have a lot of updates to pass on to you. For example, you may have noticed a new furry face at the top of the page. That's Lily. She's just about six months old today. We adopted her in March and she's been wagging her tail, trying to make Loki like her, and just generally being a very sweet and very smart puppy ever since.

Until there's time to write more, I will leave you with a picture of what grad school tends to look like at our house. I took this in the middle of a corporate finance quiz that I finished this afternoon, not a tornado. It's hard to tell the difference. I'm very much looking forward to the day when this table is back to it's normal use; holding snacks and cocktails when friends come over. It still does that from time to time, but not as much as I would like.

I have coffee, soda (Dr. Pepper from lunch), kleenex (boo, allergies), scratch paper, a pen, a highlighter, a boatload of lesson notes, a textbook, and the laptop. It's quite teh battle station. What you can't see are the sleeping and snoring puppies. What you can see is The Big Guy playing video games in the background- complete with headset on so that the room stays quiet so I can focus. The fact that I took this picture at all should tell you a lot about the quality of my focus today.

Again- three more weeks. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have a real spirit of Christmas.

~ Calvin Coolidge

Merry Christmas! I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday! May the spirit of the season stay with you all year long.

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 18- A Saying, Quote or Scripture

{image from pinterest}

This is the Holstee Manifesto. I first came across it about a year ago. It was features on several bogs that I read: Elements of Style, La Dolce Vita, and more.

There are so many inspirational quotes out there in the blogosphere, and as you can tell, I like most of them. Choosing just one quote was not an easy task. Here's what I like about this one- it's big. It's not just about love, it's not just about getting ahead on your career, it's not just about surrounding yourself with the people who bring out the best in you. It's about all of that, and that's what I find appealing.

30 Days of Thanks: Day 17- A Store

It seems like an interesting thing to be thankful for- a store. In a time when we're all paying so much attention to the way we spend and how we spend, it's nice to take a moment and be thankful for the ability to spend at all. We could be in a very different place than we are right now, and I'm very grateful for all that the Big Guy and I have achieved and all that we're able to do. We work hard, and sometimes we take our opportunities for granted.

In thinking about a store that I love, there's one that comes to mind right away. Anthropologie. I love their mix of home decor, clothing, kitchen accessories, jewelry and shoes. Some of my favorite pieces have come from their store, and some of the pictures that are most inspiring to me in terms of home design and fashion come from their catalog.

Some of you may remember the frames that are a floating headboard in our 3rd bedroom- well all of the images in those frames are actually pages from old Anthropologie catalogs.

There's something about the store that I seek out every time I'm in a mall that has one. I love the atmosphere they've created, and I love being able to bring that into my home as well.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Big Guy Studies the Classics

In the under thirty crowd these days you can get a strange look from your friends for ordering a dirty martini or a Manhattan. It’s partly due to the atmosphere of most bars we are in. Once you get past the post college blackout phase, you start thinking a lot more about what sort of atmosphere you enjoy. You start looking to nicer places and all of a sudden the drinks of our parents and grandparents become way more common.

To give your home that grown up atmosphere, you need to learn of a few of the classics.

2.5 oz of gin or vodka
.5 oz dry vermouth

Shaken over ice and put in a tall martini glass, (Yes you should have martini glasses at your disposal). Garnish with an olive, pickled onion or lemon twist. To go Dirty just add a half oz of olive juice.

Big Guy’s Manhattan
3 oz bullet bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth
.5 oz maraschino cherry juice
A dash of bitters

Shaken over ice and put into a highball glass (or a martini glass if you feel dashing) Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

White Russian Brought to you by the dude…
3 oz vanilla vodka
1 oz Kahlua Especial
1 oz half and half

Fill an old fashioned glass halfway with ice. Pour the vodka in first, then add the Kahlua. After that add the half and half and a stir straw. Stir and enjoy.

Long Island Iced Tea This is the frat punch that doesn’t make it look like you are still in college
1 oz clear rum
1 oz gin
1 oz vodka
1 oz white tequila
1 oz triple sec
1 oz lemon or lime juice
2 oz cola

Fill a tall sling style, or double high ball glass with about a third of the way full with ice. Mix the liquors in the glass with a long bar spoon. Add the cola and lemon juice last. Garnish with a lime or lemon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 16- An Experience

If you want change: choose it, leap, act. Don't wait for life to happen to you. Make things happen.
~ via Making Things Happen

The summer after my junior year in college, I had an internship with a small theatre company. In London- Chickenshed Theatre.
It was an amazing experience, one that I wouldn't trade. At first I was nervous, I wasn't sure that I'd get into the program- it was  a study abroad program with Purdue. I think there were about 20 of us who went, and all of us worked with different companies. The way the program was structured, we had two days with class in the morning and four days a week we were working either all day or just in the afternoon.

That left us with 3 day weekends every weekend. Amazing. I spent a weekend in Paris where I actually woke up to the sounds of an accordian playing La Vie en Rose. I swear. I backbacked through Scotland and Ireland.

The theatre company was amazing. Their philosophy is that the arts should be inclusive and that everyone has creativity in them, they just need an opportunity to express that creativity. You can dance in a wheelchair, you can sing a beautiful song even if you can't talk. You can read more about them and what they do on their website. It's amazing.

I'm itching to plan a trip back. I'd love to show the Big Guy where I lived and where I spent my time that summer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 15- A Recipe

We try a lot of recipes. The Big Guy and I like food. We like all kinds of food. My favorite things to cook tend to be comfort food. Thick sauces, pastas, rich flavors, aromas that fill the whole house. Here's one of those recipes. Really easy to make, but delicious and plenty of left overs.

It's baked rigatoni pasta in a tomato-vodka-cream sauce with ground turkey. I can't post the actual recipe, because the cookbook I have it in is still in print. I'm pretty sure that's less than legal. But I do have a lot of pictures from the last time I made it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Days of Thanks: Day 14- Something New

If I'm honest, I have to tell you that I still read fairy tales and I like them best of all.~ Audrey Hepburn

My something new is a collection of Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales. This book is one of the latest additions to my collection of the Penguin Clothbound Classics, with cover designs by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Not only do they look great on the shelf, but the list includes some of my favorite titles. Adding this book to the collection is also progress on Goal 36.

{image from}

30 Days of Thanks: Day 13- Something Old

I got a little out of order on this one, but that's ok. My something old is my teddy bear.

I've had him since I was a baby. His fur is worn and his nose came unravelled on a regular basis. From my perspective, that just adds to his charm. Sure I'm 30, but there's something about that bear that just makes me smile. Lots of good memories.