Happy Christmas from Traverse City!

This Christmas has been different to say the least, but one thing remains the same: I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family. When some things start to go wrong, we band together and find ways to laugh.

After a rough night not being able to get in the front door of our rental cabin and a frantic search for a hotel room at 3 am that could house the five of us and our two dogs, we’ve enjoyed a different kind of Christmas than we’re used to. We didn’t open presents until we had unpacked the car, had some coffee, and properly settled in. We found so many small ways to lift each other up whether that was with a story, a joke, a hug, or offering to help with something. Now as the day comes to a close and we’re watching the Grinch and sharing a bottle of wine, I can call this Christmas a success.


I hope your Christmas was just as good!




A Practical Christmas List

Well, friends, my first semester classes are done and all I have left to do are two finals.  Apologies for the brief hiatus over the past two days.  I’ve needed all of my brain-power to finish up my last few papers and assignments.  But while I was working, or procrastinating, I started to think about the holidays coming around.  Since I’ve been so busy, I haven’t done any shopping for gifts yet!  But I did use some of my time to figure out what I want for Christmas, and this year I’m going practical.  This year, instead of asking for kind of frivolous items that I might not actually need, I’m going for the goods.  I’m going for the stuff that I need, the things that I will continue to use well after the holidays are over.

So, Mom, family members, get out your pens and pencils, because here is what is currently on my Christmas list.

A fancy watch.  I’ve been looking into getting a fancy, big-girl watch for a while now.  The only watches I’ve ever had have been mainly used for timing my long runs and workouts.  I’ve been checking out some styles that I really like, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

Image 1 of ASOS 'A' Initial Watch

‘A’ Initial Watch, ASOS, $31.66


Image 1 of River Island Wrap Around Watch

River Island Wrap Around Watch, ASOS, $43.98

New bag.  Last Friday I had a crisis.  I had a ridiculously busy day with classes, a bunch of work, and ending in an interview for a part-time job on campus.  On my walk to the bus after my interview the strap on my fashionable commuter bag snapped after only four months of use.  So now I’m on the hunt for a new bag that will fit my giant laptop (Toshiba Satellite 17.3-inch.  I know, it’s crazy big).  I really like these.

Distressed 17'' Laptop Slim Brief Chocolate


17″ Laptop Slim Brief, Le Donne Leather, $114.74


The Geneva - Large - 17.3''  Black


Geneva, Mobile Edge, $80.99


Coffee travel mug.  I’m awful about grabbing lattes every time I’m in town, but it’s become one of my non-negotiables.  Sometimes my day is just made better by a latte.  That being said, I’d be more likely to cut back on the coffee shops if I had a nice travel mug to tote around with me.  I’m really digging these…


16 Oz. Odysey Tumbler, Biggby, $15.99

Contigo AutoSeal West Loop 16 oz Stainless Steel Travel Mug - Black

West Loop 16 Oz. Stainless Steel Travel Mug, Contigo, $20.99


These suggestions could work for everyone’s Christmas lists!  This year, try buying practical gifts and be sure they can last the whole year!



Non-Negotiables: Food

Coming to graduate school has been a big change.  Sure, I was only out of school for one year after my undergraduate when I worked a pretty tedious full-time job doing digitization, but coming back to school and readjusting to the schedule and the workload has been kind of a challenge.  At this point I’ve gotten the hang of it, except for one thing – I always forget to eat.

My mother is probably shaking her head at me.  When I first came to school she gave me this advice – identify what your non-negotiables are and never forget them.  Non-negotiables are the things that you cannot live without, the things entirely essential to your sanity and health.  For some people that is their morning workout or their evening glass of wine.  For me, right now in this stage of my life, my non-negotiables are food, sleep, the occasional beer, and chill time with C.  These are the things that I am entirely unwilling to sacrifice despite the fact that I am a crazy graduate student.

Food, however, has been easier to forget than I had originally thought.  My classes all start at 1PM or later, so I jump on the bus around noon to get into town in time to grab a quick coffee.  So to adjust to this schedule, I’d have to either grab lunch before class or eat around 11:30 before I get on the bus.  I really despise eating so early because sometimes I’ll be on campus late into the evening and not get home until 8 or 9PM.

After a few weeks of wondering what to do about this dilemma, I looked around at my classmates and finally noticed something – graduate students are always snacking!  During the mandatory break in all of my three hour lectures I would look around and my peers would produce bags of granola, soup warmed up in the student lounge, carrots, Chex mix, and even the classic PB&J.  Genius!

So, in order to keep myself from getting so hangry (hungry+angry) during the day, I’ve started packing snacks in my already stuffed (and stylish!) commuter bag.

Here’s a few of my top picks!

  • Clif or Luna Bars – Full of protein and always delicious, these bars are a fast fix for a cranky attitude.  I love the White Chocolate Macademia and the Peppermint Stick (seasonal flavor) bars.
  • Veggies – Carrots can be dangerous to eat during a lecture, but during the break they’re a healthy way to fight off the hunger.
  • Bag of Cereal – Sure, sometimes I feel goofy snatching a bag of Cheerios or Golden Grahams out of my purse, but these are a good way for me to mix things up and actually get to eat a lot of cereal, especially since I don’t really dig milk.
  • Bagel – I love a good bagel.  Luckily for me, there’s a toaster in the student lounge and I’m thinking of investing in some cream cheese packets.

I’ve also learned that I am much more likely to pack some food (and not splurge on a fancy sandwich in town) if I plan ahead and portion out some snacks the night before.

I always keep my eyes open for more snacking ideas when I’m wandering the aisles of the grocery store.

What’s your go-to snack?