Friday, September 9, 2016

A Young Alumna's College Tips

With the fall semester in full swing for undergraduates all over the country, I thought I might share some words of advice regarding those 4 (or 5) years of your life spent pursuing higher education. I've been reflecting quite a bit recently, what with my second big move since graduating and I thought my experiences and thoughts since leaving Georgia Tech may be of help to someone out there -- whether you are just starting off your freshman year or are a seasoned senior about to step foot into the professional world.

Freshie me and Buzz circa 2010

1) Be social. I'm wondering how many Tech students will scoff at this piece of advice. But I'm going to give it anyway. Skip studying one night. Go out to that party, that bar, that concert. College is the easiest time in your life to be social. All of your friends are right there. They are your neighbors and your classmates and you deserve to have time to unwind and be social and live it up. You won't get many chances like that again, so don't let every moment pass you by because you are studying. BUT still make sure you study, because that's important too, which leads me to my next point...

2) Study smarter, not harder. The hours sitting in front of a book do not always directly correspond to what grades are made. Your studying style is different from everyone else's and you are going to need to figure out what your style is to really succeed in your classes. Try different things and see what works best. Use all of your resources at your disposal (professors giving access to old tests, tutors, study groups) but only use them if they are beneficial to you. For me, I started shining once I found a study group. For you... well I don't know! Go out there and find it out!

3) Your first industry job may be awful. This is mostly for seniors, but it's good to hear earlier on as well. Your first job is more than likely not going to be your dream job. The catch-22 that forms with needing experience to get a job but not being able to get experience because you can't get a job -- yea, that applies here. I'm not saying take whatever job gives you an offer first, but it's okay if you settle. It's okay if you're not exactly where you want to be when you start off your career. Just don't forget where you want to go. Once you forget where you want to be, that's when you are truly stuck.

4) You really do know best. This doesn't not mean not to take advice from anyone, this simply means that you are the one living your life. You know yourself better than anyone else can and you know what's best for you. Go ahead, ask everyone for advice. Solicit advice from mentors, parents, friends, labmates, classmates, sorority sisters, fraternity brothers, even this blog post (!), but ultimately the decision you make should be yours, and yours alone.

5) Don't sweat it. It is going to be okay. That grade, that class, that lab, that professor, that job interview -- it doesn't define you. If you get knocked down, it will be okay. Get back up, dust yourself off and keep going. All of us get knocked down. All of us had that one thing in college that felt like the end of the world. (If you were me, there were many times things felt like the end of the world.) But we all made it! You can do this. And if you ever feel otherwise, just remember that there is always help to those who seek it.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cold brew is the best brew

If you've talked to me about coffee lately you probably know that I'm very much into cold brew coffee. Honestly, I probably started the coffee conversation and gave my soapbox cold brew speech--that's how into it I am. I wasn't a coffee drinker until college (thanks Georgia Tech!) and even then I usually just drank whatever iced coffee was the closest/cheapest. Actually there were many nights where I think I drank more than my body weight in simple Starbucks Iced Coffee. Not really caring about what it tasted like, as I just needed the sustenance to make it through the night (and usually the following day as well).

Since graduating, while still drinking coffee for the caffeine, I drink greatly reduced amounts and try to savor my morning beverage of choice. I'm an iced coffee drinker due to the usual constant overheating I faced in the South (and still face during summer or lab days in the North) and so my obsession with anything containing the words iced/cold and coffee began.

I've tried iced coffee at every coffee restaurant/cafe/chain that I've visited. Some are good, some are bad and some are unmemorable. Depending on where I buy iced coffee, I add various degrees of milk/cream and sugar/sweetener/flavor so that I can stomach the bitterness of the coffee as I do not typically like black coffee. Suddenly, as soon as I thought iced coffee was as good as it was going to get, I started noticing small batch cold brew coffee cropping up everywhere -- whether it be in cans in the organic isle or at the farmer's market in Lancaster, PA. At first I had no idea what it was and why it seemed to be gaining traction so I did a little research.

Now bear with me as I am not a food chemist or a coffee brewer/roaster by profession but this is what I found out.

I had always wondered why you can only use coffee grounds once, but can re-steep tea until there is no flavor left in the tea. If you "re-steeped" coffee grounds, you would get a disgusting bitter flavor that was only a shadow of it's previous self. This is due to the beans properties and what we consider coffee (and thus coffee flavor) to be comprised of. This bitterness is the same that is associated with black coffee -- and one of the reasons I always doctor up my coffee -- and is just bound to happen when you heat brew your coffee. Cold brew on the other hand is ground coffee brewed in cold or room temperature water for ~12 hours (typically overnight). The process allows for only the coffee flavor of the bean you want extracted to end up in your final product without the bitterness that comes from leaching out past that flavor. All of this may sound like another way for coffee stores to hike up prices on yet another type of drink, but believe me when I say it's the truth because I can drink cold brew coffee black (as mentioned earlier, this was previously an unspeakable act).

My OXO Cold Brew System
I even started grinding my own beans for superior flavor.

And now we come to my homemade cold brew. I hate buying coffee every morning just like everyone else -- that money adds up quickly! So I started my journey to the perfect home cold brew system. I started with a Nalgene and coffee filters. This worked well enough but was both messy and time consuming. Not to mention sometimes the final product had a little bit more grit to it than I wanted. Finally I bit the bullet and bought a cold brew system on Amazon ( I picked this system because 1) it's OXO and I trust them and 2) it allows the grounds to spread out in the water and thus give the best coffee flavor possible (something I learned from Teavana and their Perfect Tea Maker strategy). It came with a recipe book and it gives me a cold brew coffee concentrate that lasts me a full week. Each morning I dilute a cap's worth with milk (because regardless of brew, I've found out I like a milky coffee) and I'm good to go. Delicious, perfect cold brew. If you are currently a coffee drinker and have grounds, coffee filters and sealable container you should cold brew some coffee tonight for your Monday morning routine. Trust me, you won't regret it!

Friday, August 19, 2016

World Photo Day Celebration

Today marks the 166th anniversary of the release of the daguerreotype and is dubbed World Photo Day in celebration of it. Daguerrerotype is a type of processing that was dubbed more practical than previous types and allowed for public release of the process. Photography has come a long way since the 1800s, and we still continue to innovate. It's quite amazing that the average phone quality photo greatly surpasses many digital cameras that existed when I was in middle school (early 2000s).

I wanted to celebrate Word Photo Day by posting some of my favorite photos that I've taken in the last few years with various cameras. All the photos listed were taken with one of the following: an iPhone, a Canon EOS Rebel T1i, or a GoPro Hero3.

Self Portrait - August 2012

North Georgia Cabin for AXS Brohood Retreat - February 2013

Self (couple) Portrait - May 2013

Downtown Providence - October 2013

Downtown Atlanta - October 2013

New Year's Celebration - January 1st 2014

Snowpocalypse Meal - January 2014

Graduation Dinner - May 2014

My First Apartment (w/ Elizabeth Pajares) - May 2014

Self Portrait - May 2014

Goodbye Atlanta (picturing Elizabeth) - July 2014

Hello PA - June 2014

Caribbean Self Portrait - October 2015

Hello Mass - March 2016

Opal - May 2016

Looks like I've come quite the distance from where I began with my pink Barbie camera!
At least everyone now keeps their heads for the most part...

Hope you enjoyed my favorite photos through the years, it's really neat to see what you captured at the time paints together the picture of your life. Let me know if you have any favorite photos of your own, I would love to see them!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A New Start

It's been over a year since I posted an update to this blog, but it's not for not wanting to, it just seems that life gets in the way sometimes.

Many things have happened in the year and half since my last post -- including a new job and a new town but those are only the most recent.

I'm finally in a place where I feel I can blog again, and honestly the push to start it again comes from someone I just met at my new job. He sat in on my interview and I mentioned that I had a blog but hadn't updated it in a while. After I got hired he kept asking if I had taken the time to start it up again, and even though I wonder if it was just idle conversation, it has pushed me to start writing again.

I also think the drive to pick up the metaphorical pen again is due to the place I'm currently in at this point in my life. Many people probably don't know, but the previous two years were some of the lowest points I have ever had -- and that's coming from a Georgia Tech graduate!! About half a year after starting my job at the lab, I found myself in deep in a cloud of depression and anxiety -- to the point where I was threatened of losing my job over it. I found myself at the doctor's office crying to a doctor I didn't know about how I just couldn't do it, and by it, I meant everything. She diagnosed me with OCD and prescribed me some medications. It took a lot to face the facts that I needed help and couldn't just "power through it" without medication. She told me about triggers and how facing my first northern winter could've done it. She recommended I take the medication for as long as I needed, but would eventually want to wane me off once I was at a stable place to see how I was doing. I stopped taking my medication 3 weeks ago -- after being on it for nearly a year and a half. I got away from the toxic in my life that was causing panic attacks and I feel comfortable in my own skin now. I feel comfortable at work -- which is not something I felt since I left my job at Georgia Tech. I think I stopped blogging a year and a half ago, because it was hard for me to write about the beauty in life when I couldn't see it myself -- and I'm so thankful to be where I am now.

My advice to anyone who feels like they are in a similar situation is that it gets better. You will get better. Just take everything one day at a time and you will be able to change your situation and get yourself somewhere you need to be. As much as I wouldn't wish my experiences at the lab on anyone, I'm glad they happened. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't know how good I have it now.

So here's to a new start. A new chapter in my life. A new beginning.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Current Favorites

1 || Teavana. More specifically their Perfect Tea Maker. I love my Perfect Tea Maker, all I have to do is throw tea in there, let it steep, and then I put a cup underneath! Perfect tea every time. I can even throw sugar in with the leaves while it steeps if I want my tea sweeter. Definitely loving drinking tea on all these cold winter days.

2 || Sephora, Sephora, Sephora. They have so many wonderful things at this store. I'm totally and completely smitten. Right now I'm in love with their skin care products. One of my favorites right now is the Dual Repair Face Cream by FAB. I got it on sale for $20 and it's exactly what the doctor ordered for my dry face this winter.

3 || Bean Boots and J. Crew Camp Socks. These are no brainers for me. Dealing with snow on a pretty regular basis for the first time this winter, I needed a way to keep my feet warm and dry while out and about. Bean Boots are perfect for that and so comfy.

4 || Shemergency Kit. I refuse to leave the house without this. This is my little packet of goodies for anything and everything--from stain remover to hairspray! This little kit has saved me (and a few of my coworkers!) from life's little annoyances. 

5 || Savannah Bees Beeswax Hand Cream. I have always had dry hands and this hand cream is one of the best intensive hand creams I've found. Not only does it make my hands soft, it also dries in a way that doesn't feel too greasy or slathered on. I can put on this lotion and still do things with my hands. I wouldn't be able to survive the winter without it!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Top Moments of 2014

Last year was the biggest year of my life thus far -- there were so many life changes! I wanted to reflect on what I thought were the top moments of 2014 for me and ring on the New Year in hopes that 2015 could try to beat it!

1 || Graduating from Georgia Tech

An accomplishment, that at points, I never thought I would achieve. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life to walk across that stage and accept my diploma. 

2 || Living with Elizabeth and Working for Georgia Tech

The summer of 2014 was the best summer I've ever spent. I not only got to live with one of my best friends, but I also go to work for and with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about the times Elizabeth and I shared in that gorgeous apartment off of Ponce and the wonderful growth I experienced working at CAE.

3 || Moving to Pennsylvania and Starting a New Job

At the end of the summer, I packed up all my belongings and headed out on my new adventure! Starting a new job and moving 700+ miles all in one blow was a huge step for me, but one well worth it.

4 || Attending Biennial Conclave

Daniel and I got to attend our second Alpha Chi Sigma Biennial Conclave together. We met at the last Biennial and to be able to go back was so much fun.

5 || Adopting Opal

Daniel and I became fur-parents in November and it's been an interesting experience so far, but I wouldn't give up our little furball for anything. 

Going through pictures to put on this post made me realize just how much I loved the past year. I grew so much as a person and was able to experience so much life. I only hope that 2015 helps me continue my adventure of life.

Hope you had a Happy New Year!