Thursday, November 24, 2011

Om nom nom nom

Which is exactly how I enjoy my life!
Last week a few of us from lab slipped out for lunch at a delicious tapas place (Casa Don Carlos) and some early sangria. Although... I ended up drinking most of the sangria. That wasn't my choice either; the other two didn't pull their weight with the jug of fruity wine. Later that night, I went out to the pub and then a club with my friends Caitlin and Chad. Chad found out that on Thursdays, Charles St. Pub has 1 pound Coronas and the club Revenge has cheap entry and 2 pound cocktails. However, a friend from lab gave me a VIP card to Revenge (so free entry) and some guy bought me a Jaeger bomb. A great night of cheap and free :]
Caitlin and I went out again on Friday, this time to a new club- Oceana. While we both knew that Oceana was pretty popular with the student population (which isn't really our scene), we found that they have a Disco room! They played Michael Jackson and songs from the 80s and 90s. It was great and totally my speed. We had to lie and say I was over 23 to get in, but I somehow managed to get into that room. It was great, but way more expensive than the previous night.
On Saturday, we went into Brighton to try some reindeer. However, when we got to the pub (Northern Lights) that serves reindeer, they were all out. Dominik, Caitlin, and I were very sad. I'm still hankerin' for some reindeer (which I probably won't even enjoy...). So instead, we went to Zafarellis... or something along those lines... which was a really good Italian restaurant. Dinner wasn't a total bust after all, but reindeer NEEDS to happen sometime soon.
Then, Sunday came. And Sunday meant that it was time for London-Christmas adventures with Caitlin!
First, we went to Hyde Park which was putting on a Winter Wonderland

Then we went to Soho and Covent Gardens. In Covent Gardens, we went to The Spice of Life; a pub that my aunt Mary Jo has been telling me about for awhile now. But not only did we go to The Spice of Life, but I also had my first Sunday Roast!!!! And it was DELICIOUS!

After lunch, we walked up to Oxford Street and Regeant Street, which have the best Christmas light displays in London.

For dinner, we got MEXICAN FOOD!!!!!!!!!! Which I have been missing and craving for a long long time. In Soho, there's a place called Wahaca (Oaxaca spelled incorreclty) and it was a mix between Mexican and Tex Mex. Which was good enough for me! However, I was so excited to dig in that I forgot to take pictures of our feast. Finally, upon the walk back, we stopped into a pub just outside of Victoria station and waited for our train. A FANTASTIC day, full of Christmas whimsy. However, the next day my feet were killing me from walking all over London all day long.
In lab I've been reading relevant theses from post-PhD students and have been looking a little into electrophysiology. Which, too me, is way too hard haha.
I've tried new exercise classes as well! Aerobatone, on Mondays, is fantastic. Its not super intense, but still a good cardio workout. On Tuesdays there's Dynamic Yoga, which is a decent workout (as far as yoga is concerned). I really enjoy yoga and actually zenned out at the end of Dynamic Yoga. In my zen moment, I had this really intense craving for chocolate, which I never get. SO weird. And then yesterday I tried Zumba and then Yin Yoga, which is restorative yoga, good for building up ligaments and strengthening joints (which is exactly what I need). Last night, my hips basically died. I'm pretty sure I'll need my hips replaced sometime in my life, but Yin Yoga made me realize that this replacement will probably need to occur by my 30s haha. I think this class will be really great for me. Zumba wasn't really my cup of tea.
Also on Monday, Caitlin introduced me to weight lifting. She's really into weight-lifting, specifically strengthening, not muscle-mass building. I really enjoyed our little gym time, so I am planning on continuing that track as well. As long as I don't get bulky, which isn't supposed to happen if I keep my caloric intake in check. However, knowing me, counting calories isn't really my thing haha.
I'm enjoying the gym here so much that I'm kicking myself over taking so long to sign up for it!
Which brings me to today, Thanksgiving. Caitlin and I are hosting a mini Thanksgiving, which has grown from 6 to 9 people. Here is the menu:
Turkey (premade in the grocery store, cooked by Caitlin and Lenzie)
Gravy (premade in the grocery store, heated by Caitlin and Lenzie)
Green Beans (Caitlin, Canada)
Turnip Puff (Caitlin, Canada)
Rice Stuffing/Casserole (This recipe! I wanted to make Moona's rice stuffing, but I couldn't find Uncle Ben's over here. America)
Biscuits (AMERICAN biscuits, by me. America)
Potatoes (Dominik, Germany)
Yams (Aahoo, America)
Cranberry Sauce (Aahoo, America)
Thanksgiving-themed beverages (Sarah, Canada)
Selection of pies (Chad, Canada)
And we still have some dishes unaccounted for. Not the most organized of events, but it'll be a nice get together!
I'll let you know how it all goes. It'll be an adventure, especially since our ovens are CRAP.
Fambam- I'll be seeing you tonight (for your Thanksgiving) :)

Later gaters!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Excited for the future!

I feel like there's SO much to tell you, but in reality, I haven't done that much this past week and a half. I'm mostly excited about all the fun things I will soon be doing, but I'll get to that in a moment...

Last week, I took a Red Cross Life Saving class. So now, if any of you happen to faint, choke, or have a heart attack while I'm around, I am certified to save your life. But please, try to refrain if possible. Its a lot different practicing CPR on ResusiAnne than on a real person.
Friday was Veteran's Day (although they call it Armistice Day here); it also was 11/11/11. I hope you all made the most of the numerically magical day! But back to the remembrance aspect- over here, they wear red poppies on their lapels as a sign of respect for fallen soldiers. It was really something to see. There was also a two minute, country-wide moment of silence. Veteran's Day actually means something here; the respect is still alive. In the States, Veteran's Day means you don't have to go into work/school. Not really the same AT ALL. So, I suggest we start a movement in America. Let's bring back the poppies. Let's actually show respect to the people who fight for our continued freedom. I don't care if you are an extremely reactionary or radical individual, or anywhere in between those two on the political spectrum. I don't care if you disagree with war. But let's show a little respect for those who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. Let's bring back the poppies. 
On Sunday, I finally meandered around Brighton on my own. With no plan besides exploring, I jumped on the train and took off to the city. I now feel relatively confident in my lay of the land (the city really isn't very big...). While I was looking around, I became nostalgic for Santa Cruz. Brighton reminds me of Santa Cruz SO much. The general feel is the same. A smaller town, by the ocean, with a liberal feel. The pier even is similar to the Boardwalk- dirty, a little sleazy, but perfectly good fun. Little alleyways are covered in murals painted by locals and you can see rainbows, "sustainable", and "organic" everywhere. Love it.

And here is a picture of the Lemon Bus (which I talked about two posts ago) stop
Sorry the picture is sideways. I tried to fix it, but anything technology related really isn't my forte. I know, go ahead and mock the scientist-in-training for having NO techie skills.
My research seems to be taking the tiniest of baby steps, but its finally stepping in the right direction. I've been training with the electron microscope, which will let me look at amyloid fibers and take pictures of them. This is mostly important for seeing their aggregation. Now, if that jargon was a little over your head, no worries. The electron microscope lets me take pictures of SUPER small things. And this is an important tool for my research. I'm still waiting to get training on how to handle the proteins I'll be working with. That's the one thing holding me back from starting molecular and behavioral experiments. But... hopefully I'll get that training soon. I'm still reading literature. I've got a pretty nice stack of notes growing.
I FINALLY signed up for the gym this week! I had been putting it off, partially due to laziness, partially due to other excuses such as- I was jogging on the trails but now its too muddy to, I was looking for a gym with a pool, etc. However, I finally bit the bullet and paid for a year membership. And I'm SO happy I did. The facilities are good enough, but the real winner is that they offer weekly drop in classes. This week I took a Boxercise class (cardio boxing- epic) and Core by 4 (a WAY too easy pilates class). I'm still hurting from my Monday Boxercise class, so I've decided to stick to my own cardio and weights for the rest of the week. And I wasn't impressed with Core by 4 at all. Simple pilates isn't my thing; the pilates class I took in Santa Cruz left me with an ab burn, which is what I was looking for here, but didn't get. I have a huge list of all the other classes I want to take and I'll keep you updated on those. But anyone who is looking for fun exercise should take a cardio boxing class. I'll definitely slip that into my weekly work out routine.
As most of you know, I spend far too much of my time looking at recipes. I'm a food blog junkie and often get an itch to write a quick blog about the food I've cooked for dinner, but I've refrained thus far. BUT- I need to share two recipes with you. First gumbo! Not my first gumbo attempt, but a realllllly delicious recipe. Also, I hate making roux, so this probably won't be made again anytime soon. Second cauliflower soup! Healthy and so so so so good. I highly recommend both recipes. So go off and cook, my fellow foodies!
It all seems like joy and smiles over here, which for the most part it is, until I get a monthly email that knocks me down a bit. I got the monthly email yesterday. SallieMae's "friendly reminder" that my loan is incurring interest. My soul cries a little as I quietly say good bye to my left kidney (which I'll obviously have to sell to pay off my student debts), but then I remember than I'm in England, doing my PhD in something I love, and will be traveling to the Netherlands soon, and my soul brightens right back up.
Which brings me to my current excitement- TRAVEL! It will be happening SOON :D! I'll be going into London this Sunday to look at all the Christmas stuff. And I can't wait. In England, they can actually put up decorations, lights, and ice rinks without someone with opposing views getting their panties in a wad. So I'll be frollicking around Hyde Park and Oxford Circle looking at the Christmas lights and I might even attempt my first ever ice skate at the rink by the London Eye. My next fit of travel comes with Dawn and Megan (friends from UCSC) who will be visiting after Thanksgiving. I will definitely be spending time with them in Brighton and London. I MIGHT be doing a weekend trip into Dublin, Ireland with them as well. That's not for certain, so I don't want to get too excited about that just yet. THEN the big adventure right before I go home for Christmas- I'll be going to the Netherlands aka Holland aka EPIC. I'm going with Caitlin and will be meeting up with my friend Jeff (from UCSC) who's studying abroad this semester. Dawn and Megan will also be in the Netherlands for one of the days. Its going to be amazing and I can't wait!!!!!
In between these amazing traveling adventures lies Thanksgiving. I will be celebrating with friends here and will update you on what I'm making/ how it goes when I've planned a bit more. Then, that night, I will be skyping with the family while they are celebrating Thanksgiving. It'll be a good day- a celebration with friends and food, and then with family. I'd like to say in advance- thank you to the turkey who will be giving its life for me to stuff my face.
The post is now coming to an end. I've run out of things to say and I've spent far too much lab time writing this post (...oops haha). I took advantage of the fact that the majority of the Neuroscience community is in Washington DC at the Society For Neuroscience convention and so the office is quiet and lonely. But now, I must bid you adieu. Please note though- You can follow my blog! This means that you will get automatic updates whenever I post something new. Its a good idea, better then just randomly checking to see if there's a new post or waiting for word of mouth to spread to you.
Byeeeeee :]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Promised Pictures

This is going to be last week's blog post, in picture montage form:

I hope you enjoy!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Remember, remember the fifth of November

I've actually done some exciting stuff recently. I'm so proud of myself haha.
Last Saturday was White Night, where the town stays open really late in celebration of the end of summer. I had heard there were a lot of art exhibits/ artsy things going on as well. Going into town, I really hadn't prepared like I should have. Only a Google search away was a huge list of all the things going on around town, including a handy little map. But of course, I didn't see any of this until the next day. We arrived at Old Steine and saw massive amounts of people, some dressed in costumes. I was dressed as a pirate, and so automatically was having a fabulous time. The parks were decorated with lights and paper mache peacocks. The Royal Pavillion was swarming with drunken young adults. Instead of an art night, it was more of a drunken mass of people. And wow, the open container laws still surprise me. They can have open containers of alcohol in this country. And seeing THAT many people with THAT much alcohol IN PUBLIC was crazy. It was an interesting night; next year I'll make sure I actually know where the art exhibits are.
Halloween was this past Monday and I celebrated by watching a scary movie with two of the people on my floor. Then we watched "Run Fatboy", which isn't scary but was still a pretty good movie! A quiet Halloween, but an enjoyable one nonetheless. There is an interesting difference between Halloween here and Halloween back home- they definitely try to go for the "scary" element over here a lot more. Like, they had the same costumes, except they whited out their faces and added some fake blood. Zombie, zombie pirate, zombie fairy, zombie skanky girl, zombie skeleton, ... you understand.
Diwali was two Wednesdays ago (I think... I may be a few days off on that) and sadly didn't get to celebrate. There wasn't anything going on in Brighton. Maybe next year I'll take a trip to London and celebrate Diwali there. I definitely think it'd be worth the trip. But in a pathetic attempt to make up for my lack of Diwali celebration, I went to an Indian food buffet with a friend from lab this past week. It was a nice break from lab and I enjoyed the food- but there is a Diwali-sized hole in my heart that Indian buffet couldn't quite fill. Although it came close with all of the naan I ate.
Last Wednesday I went out at night with the girls from cocktail night. We got 2 for 1 drinks at Bar Valentino (where they FINALLY didn't measure out the drinks) and then to The Font for some beers and pub food. And that night was awesome. I love spending time with those girls; its so relaxed and drama-free. Everyone gets along well and I don't feel so bad about putting on my "awkward American" hat when I'm with them. The best break from a tough week in lab, on a day where I was especially doubting myself, and they made it all better. We've planned on spending more time together- I've been promised Italian food and 80s nights, and I am fully planning to cash in on those promises haha.
On Friday, George had planned a lunch outing to a nearby pub to officially introduce me to the rest of the lab. I'd already met most everyone there, but I did appreciate the gesture. Although- to be honest, I was nervous about being the center of attention for a few hours. It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, but I'm not the biggest fan of being the center of attention and its hard to avoid that when the outing is for you. Luckily, I knew most of the people there and was sitting next to the people whom I've become friends with. So I wasn't as much of a shining example of awkwardness as I've been in the past.
Yesterday was the 5th of November. Now if you are thinking "oh, that sounds familiar but I can't remember what its about", think of the movie V for Vendetta. Did that remind you? If not, go to this link. Anyway, a town nearby Brighton, the town of Lewes, has one of the biggest Bonfire Nights in England. There were thousands of people wielding torches, parades, fireworks displays, and bonfires. It was so awesome and anyone who's in England around this time needs to celebrate in the festivities. I tried to take some pictures, but they didn't turn out well. I'm hoping I can steal some pictures off of facebook and upload them onto here later.
And then today (see, I told you I've been busy) I went into town with Caitlin and Chad to enjoy some retail therapy and to go for tea. I FINALLY had my favorite tea, Lady Grey, in England. I also had an epic grilled cheese and scone (which, btw, clotted cream > butter). We enjoyed watching a big group of people dressed in olden times clothing and sipping tea in the Tea Cozy. Adorable.
And now I've caught you up! It was a good week socially. I even got to talk to Jenna, Eva, Sarah, and Ian this past week- which I always enjoy.
Before I leave, I have to tell you about the Big Lemon. The Big Lemon is a bus that runs through campus and into Brighton. It runs on used cooking oils and every time it passes by, it smells like a fast food restaurant. Some of you may be thinking "gross". But I prefer the smell of french fries (sorry, chips) over the cloud of natural gas smoke enveloping my face as a city bus passes. And the Lemon is bright yellow. AND the bus stops are yellow with a picture of a lemon on it.
Its a truck full of lemons, if there ever was one. And I love it.

I'll post pictures soon (maybe)