Little black dress

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My hunt for the perfect little black dress has finally ended!

One random day a few weeks ago, I was meeting a friend for dinner and drinks in Towson and thought I would pop into Urban Outfitters to look around beforehand. Let me first say, I almost never go into Urban Outfitters. For a few good reasons actually.

One, the prices. Ugh. There's nothing worse than finding a sweater or pair of pants that you are absolutely in love with only to glance down at the tag and see three digits staring back at you from behind that dollar sign. Yikes.

Two, they have a reputation for being a bit controversial. Whether it's shirts that say "Eat Less" or offering a black top where the color option is listed as "Obama/black," they always manage to tick someone off.

And three... well, mostly the prices.

But, regardless, I had some time to kill and it was pretty much the only store in walking distance that wasn't a restaurant, so I went in to look around. After glancing through the entire store, I was getting ready to leave when right by the door, I spotted a rack of little black dresses and immediately rushed over to see if there was one that might work. I've gotten into the habit of doing this over the last few months since I've been dying to find one to wear for our anniversary dinner.

The minute I saw this one, I knew it would be coming home with me.
This was the night we went out for our anniversary.

I rushed to the fitting room, tried it on, and fell in love. I have an affinity for backless dresses and the skater style of the skirt on this one was just perfect. I love how head on from the front it looks completely formal, but from the back, it's much more dramatic. And it's not too short either. That tends to be a problem with skater dresses.

The best part was that it was only $69. For me, for a well made dress that fit me like a glove and that I know I will wear time and time again, it was a bargain.

So goodbye #70 - Find the perfect Little Black Dress.

Woohoo! It feels good to knock another one off the list!

The Story of "Experiment A" and How I Majorly Screwed It Up.

Friday, September 26, 2014


There are times in life when we all make mistakes. Whether they are small ones that don't really shake us, or they are much bigger ones that impact us (and sometimes others) in a pretty intense way, making them is never fun.

Just yesterday, I made a pretty huge one.

We had this project, let's call it "Experiment A" that I was assigned about a month ago. When my boss first sat me down to explain Experiment A, he was very serious. He described the details to me very carefully and laid out the concept, materials we would need, and expectations for the timeline very clearly. We talked for a few days back and forth discussing the steps we needed to take to prepare for this experiment. Then, about a week beforehand, I very tediously prepared the samples we would be using in anticipation of the arrival of our carefully selected supplies and kits. It was extremely important that we got this project right, and I understood that.

Experiment A was very expensive. Probably the most money we have ever spent on a single project.

My boss had extremely high expectations for the results of this experiment, and while I am no miracle worker, I knew how important it was to both him and our lab as a whole, so I made sure that I was very intentional with everything I did. I completed the experiment over the span of two weeks. I felt happy and confident as I turned in the results to my boss and as we discussed and analyzed them, he seemed happy too. It felt good. I felt like I had delivered on my end. Until yesterday.

As it turns out, I was careful about every aspect of Experiment A, except for one...

When I was eating lunch yesterday, my boss approached me in the cafe - which he almost never does since he eats in his office. He had a very serious look on his face and seemed somewhat nervous as he sat down next to me.

He began to explain that as he was going over the results, he noticed that they looked an awful lot like a completely different experiment we had done earlier in the year - we'll call that one Experiment Z. He wanted to verify that the kit we had ordered to run Experiment A was in fact the kit for Experiment A, not Experiment Z.

My mind started racing. I was sure I had ordered the correct kit. There is no way that I ordered the kit for Experiment Z. I had been so insanely careful. I assured him that I would check and get back to him as soon as possible.

I finished eating quickly and rushed back to my desk. I pulled up the invoice from my order and the minute I found the catalog number, my heart sank. The kit I had ordered was not for Experiment A but in fact, Experiment Z. I had spent a month planning, prepping, and running Experiment Z instead of Experiment A and in the process wasted a massive portion of money. I had screwed up the single most important part of any experiment. The results were useless. The results are still useless and everything I worked so hard to accomplish means literally nothing.

My heart started racing, my palms got sweaty, and I felt like I couldn't breathe. My boss came in shortly after and when I shared the news, I was terrified that he was going to fire me. I tried explaining what happened but it didn't matter, he just stood there in silence shaking his head. Finally after what seemed like hours, he looked up at the ceiling and said "I just don't know what to do," and walked out of the lab.

I spent the next thirty minutes in tears. I was so mad at myself. Disappointed really. How in the world could I have been so careless as to order the completely wrong kit? How could I be such an idiot? I blamed myself, berated myself, and considered going home because I was sure I wouldn't have a job by the end of the day anyway.

Then I did the only thing a girl can do when she's in deep trouble - I called my Mom.

For the next twenty minutes, my mom gave me some of the best advice I've ever received. She told me a story she had read about a technician working for NASA who mixed up the order of some very specific operations he was assigned during a launch and nearly killed hundreds of people as a result of his mistake. Fortunately, no one was hurt but afterward, everyone wanted him gone. Despite the demands of his colleagues, the executive in charge decided not to do anything. His reasoning? The technician had made a massive error, yes, but he knew that he was a careful man who cared about his work and since this had been such a dangerous mistake, he knew there was absolutely no way the technician would ever make that mistake again. The gravity of the situation was enough punishment.

And that's when I realized - just like that technician - I am not the mistakes I've made.

I'm not a bad person for making such a large error. I work hard, I'm passionate, and I care about what I do. I'm not reckless and I certainly don't take this matter lightly. While I may have royally screwed up, that says absolutely ZERO about my character. What it does say is that I'm human and what matters is how I respond. Mistakes are really just opportunities to show your true colors and to prove that you can take responsibility for your actions.

So today, I am rectifying the situation. I will do everything in my power to correct my mistake and make it right. I'm not exactly sure how my boss will respond, but in the end, I can only do my best.

Two Years of Wedded Bliss

Thursday, September 25, 2014

After this past weekend, there is no doubt that I have fallen deeper in love with my home state. Maryland, you have my heart and you are one of the most beautiful places in all of the world. I am so lucky to call you my home.

We spent our anniversary weekend trapsing all around good old Maryland from wine country up north and then into the heart of Baltimore for the most incredible dinner and then down south to our home to enjoy a bit more of the great outdoors.


We tasted some of the best wine and cider in the region, saw one of the most beautiful of flower fields at sunset, dined on the most delectable local and seasonal foods at Woodberry Kitchen (don't worry there will be a review), and slept under the stars in our own back yard.


It was absolute perfection and I couldn't have asked for a better weekend with my love.

And just when I thought it couldn't get any more magical, Mike gave me some of the absolute craziest and sweetest gifts I've ever received. His first gift to me (because year two = cotton) was utterly mind-blowing. I cannot even describe how excited I was when I opened the package. I'm pretty sure my eyes literally popped out of my head and the neighbors heard me screaming with joy.

I need to first preface this by saying I AM OBSESSED WITH SLOTHS. You know Kristen Bell and her whole mental breakdown the first time she ever met a sloth? No? Let me refresh your memory.

Let's just say, I get her. We pretty much have the same life goals and the day that I get to meet a sloth (hopefully next year in Costa Rica), I'm pretty sure I will have a very similar episode.

I have sloth socks, sloth shirts, sloth stuffed animals, sloth books, sloth mugs, sloth jewelry... the list goes on and on... but what I didn't have was a giant (and insanely soft) sloth onesie that I can wear as jammies. Well, that is, until my husband gave one to me Monday night.


Aside from the best gift ever, he outdid himself even further when he gave me a silver heart necklace that had the sound waves of his voice saying "I love you" engraved on it. No, I'm not kidding. How I deserve such an incredible, loving, thoughtful husband is something I will never know.

So, in case you are wondering, aside from planning our weekend, I gave him this in return:

I made it myself from inspiration I found on etsy. It's a tree with two leaves - one for each year that we have been married. After each anniversary, we can sew another leaf onto the tree and watch it slowly grow throughout the years.

Ugh, why can't every weekend be anniversary weekend?!

So many reasons to celebrate!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Well, I can officially say that life is on the upswing! There are so many good things to share! (This post will probably contain a crap load of exclamation points so I'm sorry in advance.)

Today Mike returns from his week-long business trip!! I'm excited to have him home again for many reasons but mainly so I don't have to continue sleeping with twenty pillows in my bed to keep it from feeling so empty. I hate sleeping by myself. Unfortunately, Carlisle is not the greatest cuddle buddy when Mike's gone either. He probably would be if he didn't wake up suddenly at 3:00 in the morning in what we like to call "LSD mode" inspired by this meme:


This is quite literally his face and he sort of sits at the edge of the bed and stalks your feet waiting for them to move. The minute that they do, he pounces, licks them a few times, takes a big chomp, and then sprints out of the room or under the bed before you can catch him. It's his favorite game. Ugh.

Anyway, I can't wait to pick Mike up this afternoon! ALSO, our 2nd wedding anniversary is Monday!

I can't believe it's been two years already since this day...

We have an entire weekend full of fun things planned and I am bursting with excitement and anticipation! We've got hiking, camping, wineries, dinner and more on the itinerary - FRIDAY, JUST GET HERE ALREADY!

On top of all of this, TWO MORE wonderful things happened in the last few days...

Last night, I went out to dinner with my lovely friend Ali who recently got engaged to her boo thang Matt. They have been doing a bunch of wedding planning and recently decided on their wedding party and guess who gets to be a bridesmaid?! I DO! She asked me last night and gave me this absolutely adorable gift bag to go with her super sweet "Will you be my bridesmaid?" card!

I am thrilled to share a special part in their big day and I can't wait for next October! Woohoo!

And lastly, but definitely not leastly (yea, that's not a word but it's staying) OUR R01 WAS FUNDED!!!

After all of the craziness at work, I SWEAR the stars aligned on this one. I was pretty much ready to start throwing my resume out there to other labs for fear that I wouldn't have a job next year, but then just as I started making a few connections downtown, lo and behold, my boss tells me literally two days later that the NIH has funded our grant! We worked so hard on this one so I am both ecstatic and relieved. Yay for job security!

It seems that despite the deep and dark valleys, there are always some pretty great peaks that follow. Have a wonderful Thursday!

"As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better." -Steve Maraboli

October Blog Challenge

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's no secret that I've had a hard time blogging over the last few weeks. Life has felt so blah and uninspiring... and as usual, when I lose my motivation and excitement for life, I lose my motivation and excitement for blogging.

I know, I know... same old story. This isn't news to anyone.

We all go through times in life when things just sort of sink into slump. Whether you blog or not, there are ups and downs for everyone. I totally understand this, so I won't continue to blab on about it.

Instead I want to introduce you to my solution! And what is that, you ask? Well, Blogtober of course!

(Uhhh, let's talk about how I just typed "ov course" up there and didn't see any problem with it at first... Wow, clearly this challenge is coming at a very good time...)

Helene in Between

BLOGTOBER! A Blog every day in October Challenge!

I've done a couple of these kinds of challenges with Jenni before and I've loved them. This one seems like fun, too. After looking through the prompts, some of them seem to be similar to topics that I've already covered in past posts but I'll do my best to answer them without sounding like a broken record.

I'm so excited to get started! October is bound to be a wonderful month! For all you bloggers reading, I hope you join in the fun as well!

Moment on a Monday

Monday, September 15, 2014

“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head
above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim."
-Tyler Knott Gregson

Turpentine by Brandi Carlile on Grooveshark

Getting Back To Me

Friday, September 5, 2014

It's taken me about a week, but I'm finally starting to feel better after last week's drama.

Our Labor Day weekend was awesome. It was filled with campfires, wine, s'mores, laughter, LOTS of retail therapy, and a day of screaming my lungs out on every roller coaster at Hershey Park. We go up to Hershey and camp there every year for Labor Day and it has quickly become one of my favorite family traditions.

I am so thankful to have such awesome family members that will stop at nothing to make sure that I have a smile on my face, even during the roughest emotional times. It was an incredible weekend and I wouldn't change a single moment.

Even the moment that Mike and I got stuck on the Lightning Racer and had to be escorted down the track. Oh, the memories...

Thanks to my parents (who we were racing and finished the ride) for taking the pictures!

Yes, we actually had to be manually released from the coaster and walk to the bottom. From our point at the top of the hill 90 feet in the air. Thank GOD I'm not afraid of heights.

The Hershey management was actually really awesome about it. They responded quickly, made sure we all understood what happened (the brakes seized and wouldn't release our train) and ensured that we all got down safely. They also gave us some free stuff, so I couldn't be that upset about it. I was actually more upset that I didn't get to finish the ride. It's always been one of my favorite wooden coasters. Oh well, there's always next year, I guess.

So after Labor Day, I started the week much more refreshed. It also helped that my second grad school class started on Wednesday so that's been keeping me pretty busy. I've also been making an effort to catch up with friends I haven't seen in a while. When things get crazy, I love spending time with some of my best girls, especially when there are drinks involved!

Now, I have to say, as much as all of the wine and girl time and shopping and fun has helped me to start feeling like myself again, I have to admit that my new found love of kickboxing probably takes the cake when it comes to stress relievers.

Man, oh man. I can't even begin to describe what it's done for me and I've only been going for a few weeks. There's just something that makes me so happy about feeling completely and utterly drained at the end of my hour long class. We spend a full sixty minutes working every muscle in our bodies, training in the same style as Shaun T's "Insanity," pouring sweat, and kicking and punching the crap out of things. It's impossible to leave there holding onto any stress or frustration. They train you so hard you almost want to quit but somehow I keep coming back. It's helped me to realize that I'm much tougher than I thought. There's a fight in me that refuses to quit. And I love it.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!