29 August 2011

15 August 2011

I Miss It...

But doing silly stuff like this on instagram on my iphone keeps me distracted. Yeah, I crossed over to the dark side.

It's a BEAUTIFUL day in Michigan! I've got my Garmin charging up right now, then I'm going to head out for a run.  ((I sound kinda techy. Am I techy? When did I become techy? I'm not smart enough to be techy.))

One problem, if you could call it a problem, that I'm having so far is kind of like over-stimulation, I guess. There are so many things I want to do, want to watch, want to cook, etc...I'm having a hard time spacing things out! I guess this is a nice problem to have.

Oh, and then there's the jet lag. Good god, the jet lag. I've been going to bed at 10 p.m. or earlier, and waking up around 5 or 6. This is not me. Hopefully this just naturally sorts itself out.

Okay, Garmin is all charged -- off for a run!

14 August 2011

I'm Home.

My family is wonderful. The dogs are healthy. The lake is beautiful.

And that's all that matters!

(I'm going to be putting together some more meaningful posts about my last few weeks in London and what not in the near future. Stay tuned.)

10 August 2011

Thank God for Rolling

No, not what you're thinking. I'm not referring to anything that has to do with drug use. Unfortunately. (kidding, mom.)

I'm talking packing. You know...the rolling technique?

It works. I can definitely attest to that. I was skeptical of how much room it could save me, and the (prominent) lazy side of me didn't really feel like taking the time to roll every. single. top, pair of jeans, etc.

Definitely worth it though! The real test will be when I need to squeeze about five days' worth of clothing plus some other odds and ends into that already-almost-stuffed suitcase above. Wish me luck on that one.

Rolling: making packing easier since, well...I don't know when. At least since 7 p.m. Monday night.

07 August 2011

Afternoon Tea and Polka Dots

This afternoon, my two best girlfriends here in London and I ventured up to Highgate for an afternoon tea. For those who aren't familiar with the English tradition, afternoon tea is generally more than just, well...tea in the afternoon. It generally involves baked goods, and sometimes champagne. Ours ended up being quite casual, but super yummy and enjoyable!

We went to an adorable little tearoom called High Tea of Highgate, which is up in north London, not too far from where my friends both live. First of all, the place is obviously precious. Second, they hand bake all of their baked goods in-store each and every when they're out, they're out. They have interesting things like lavender cake, as well as traditional options such as scones and cupcakes. They also had a vast assortment of different teas -- it was hard to make up my mind!

I ended up choosing the strawberry and orange tea (which was amazing), along with a mini vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting. Buttercream frosting truly is the food of the gods, isn't it? Kate went with the London afternoon blend with a slice of lavender cake, and Paloma had the strawberry and orange tea along with a piece of lemon drizzle spongecake.

Everyone loved their choices. The mini cupcake was perfect for me, because I wasn't very hungry at all, and those three bites were the perfect amount to feed my sweet tooth. I'm never one to turn a cupcake down -- they are my favorite! Not to mention, these were homemade and truly amazing. But I still managed to get the same amount of satisfaction out of it that I would have gotten from one that was three times the size. I mean, look at that face -- do I look upset in any way?? ;) And while I absolutely loved that cupcake, the real star of the show was the amazing tea. I'm a tea lover, and that strawberry/orange tea may be the best I've had. It was loose leaf, unsurprisingly...and sweet enough without being overbearing. And did you notice that it's pink?!?

We also really liked the cream pourer. Is that a word? Meh, if not then I just made it one. We liked it so much, we spotted some for sale in the shop and ran (okay, fast walked) to them. Err...£25. Adorable, but...well, we are poor graduate students. Couple that with the fact that I'm attempting to run my UK bank account dry before I leave (I think I'm at about £20 left right now), and I think you'll probably guess that I did not come home with a patterned porcelain cow.

It was such a nice afternoon with my girls that I'm going to miss so, so much. **tear** Prior to going out for our tea, we met at Kate's flat with another one of my lovely girlfriends, Emmy, and had a pink champagne toast while munching on some cheese and crackers and catching up. It's just so hard for me to understand and accept that I won't be seeing these girls anymore after a few days.../sigh.

Tomorrow should be interesting. In the morning, I'm going to head over to ULU to have my three copies of my dissertation bound, and then I'll make my way to SPP to turn. them. in. Whoa. It's weird to think that, in a way, this whole year had led up to this point...the turning in of the 'big one.'
After I get that taken care of, it's time to commence the packing! I think I have a lot of work to do. I need to get rid of the things I won't be taking home with me (like some books, my toiletries, my sheets/towels/pillows, etc.) and weed through my clothing to see what I do want to take home. I think three days should be enough time to sort through my life in my little room here!

Okay, time for some more LSAT studying. I haven't been as disciplined this weekend as I need to be. For that, I will now be up for the next 3-4 hours doing work. Party animal.

06 August 2011

Last Night

Last night was my last Friday night, and the beginning of my last weekend in London.

We had an IPAS get together up in Camden.

I saw lots of friends.

I cried.

The end.

01 August 2011

Holy August, Batman.

I can't believe it's already August...can you?!? August has apparently brought with it some warmer temperatures to London. Today's high is 83 -- I can't remember the last time it was in the 80s here! was probably April.

I'm a little sad today, as today is also the start of the Robinson back home. What is the Robinson, you ask? Well, it's a week-long memorial tournament that takes place at my family's tennis club. Robinson Week has always been one of the biggest weeks of the year for my family. Back when I was younger, four of the five of us were usually playing in it. When I was a teenager, I often worked 80-hour weeks during it. Now that I'm even older, I just like to go and hang out, see people I haven't seen in a while, and watch my mom and brother play. It's not uncommon to have a few cocktails during the night sessions, or to take the dogs up there to wander around. They always love going to the Tennis House, but they especially love it during Robinson Week! Anyways, it's just weird to think that this is the second Robinson in three years that I've missed due to being in London. Prior to this, I think I only missed one when I was younger and went camping with my cousin. I even played in the Robinson before I was born, with my mommy! :P

But not to fear, rather than eating all kinds of homemade goodies and watching the kids play today, I'm doing something just as fun -- dissertation editing. Ew, I'm totally kidding. I can't even describe how over this paper I am. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- working on my MSc. has shown me that I have no desire to continue on for a Ph.D. I've really enjoyed this year, and the months of research has been fine...but I would not want to do this for years. Good god, no. This is invaluable experience, because in the past, I thought I would possibly go on for a Ph.D. No, no, no...after I turn in this paper in a week, I am done with academic research, at least in this capacity. This is clearly not to say that law school will be a walk in the park, but I think that's the kind of schoolwork that I gravitate towards. I won't miss the hours spent with SPSS and putting together data spreadsheets and coding and all this garbage.

Speaking of law school, today officially starts Day 1 of LSAT studying. I've already been spending some time going through my books, but I haven't been sticking to any kind of schedule. That changes today...and I need to keep my nose to the grindstone for the next two months so I'm hopefully able to achieve an acceptable score on the test in October!

Not a fun update from me, I know. Here are a few photos I took on my walk/run over to Regent's Park yesterday. Since moving over close to Russell Square, I haven't been up there...but yesterday was a beautiful day and it just seemed right.

10 more days! :)

29 July 2011

The Last 2 Weeks...

Well, I've reached the "2 Weeks Remaining" mark here in London. It's crazy to think that around this time last year, I was starting to get things ready to move out here. The year has completely flown by!

I'm sad to say that it's looking like my last two weeks won't be filled with tons of fun moments. Don't get me wrong -- I will make sure to do some of the things I love to do in London, but the amount of work I still have to do for my dissertation feels overwhelming. It didn't help that I had a little mishap with my Macbook last week that left me without it for six days.

As of right now, I'm standing at about 6,500 words written, out of 10,000. I still have to finish and polish up my introduction, add a bit to my literature review and methodology sections, refine my findings/analysis section, and write my concluding remarks and discussion section. So, those remaining 3,000-3,500 words should pretty much take care of themselves, but I have about a week to get through them. I'm also trying to decide if I want to run a certain type of test on my data to include in my paper...I'm leaning towards no, but I always second guess myself.

How boring is this? Sorry. I'm just trying to keep in mind that in less than two weeks, my toes will be in the sand! Yes, I fully intend to go to the beach my first day back...if only to take my sandals off and walk into the water. I feel so landlocked, it's not even funny. I've never spent so much time away from the Great Lakes, and it's a weird feeling.

Another thing to look forward to (besides the overly obvious family, friends, dogs, American food, etc.) -- a HAIRCUT. I feel like a total Shaggy right now, and if I'm being honest, I've needed a haircut since before my family was here. It's remarkable that I could go months and months and months without one when my hair was so long...but at this length, the second it's too long it's just TOO LONG. Thank goodness my madre has already booked me an appointment the day after I get home. :) Priorities, ya know??

Okay, off to write. If I get enough done, I may just get to do something fun tonight. It remains to be seen if that's likely or not...

19 July 2011

Harry Potter!!

It's been brought to my attention that I did not sufficiently cover the one fun aspect of my weekend: going to see Harry Potter!  As I alluded to before, Friday was a busy day. This is mostly good, because I got a LOT done -- I worked on my dissertation for a few hours, I made it to the gym (which is an achievement in itself lately), and I did a practice LSAT test. That last one might not sound like much to those of you who may not be well versed in the nuances of the LSAT...but a practice test done correctly will take a good 4 hours out of your day. And it's not fun. And it's tedious. And after doing one, it's not uncommon to want to just flop in your bed and watch re-runs of The Real Housewives of New Jersey all night.

But luckily, I pulled myself together after all of that and headed up to Tufnell Park to catch up with my favorite girls Kate and Paloma at Kate's adorable new flat. First of all, her flat is amazing. She's going to have a perfect little year there. It made me kind of excited to think about how in about a year, I will be moving again into a new apartment, location yet to be determined. Anyways, we had a nice catch-up chat session, since we hadn't seen each other for a week. Lots happens in a week here, ya know??  Kate provided the sausage dip and chips, and Paloma provided the cookies 'n cream ice cream. Perfect combination? Sure.

Around 9:45 or so, we headed over to Camden to go see HP! I won't say too much about it, but I LOVED it. I think it was, by far, the best movie of the 8. Definitely a nice ending to the series (though the epilogue was a little creepy/very humorous to us). Of course movies very, very rarely accomplish everything that the book does, and this was no exception...but it was still a well done flick. I liked that there was focus and closure on a lot of the supporting characters (Neville, Luna, Hagrid, etc.) as well as the main ones. Of course my favorite aspect was a glimpse into the amazing character development that J.K. Rowling achieved with Snape, my favorite character.

Okay, okay, okay...that's enough. Just know that: a) Friday night was a great night with the girls, and b) HP was amazing and you should go see it if you're a fan of the books or movies, or both.

Now, onto another busy day of the same old, same old. Dissertation, LSAT, gym. Oh life.

18 July 2011

Not much of an update, but...

I have the best family ever. Seriously. I can't wait to be home.

In other news, I've gotten about 3600 words done on my dissertation...mostly from the introduction, lit review, and methodology sections. I'm expecting the findings/analysis and conclusions/discussion sections to take up around 4000-5000 words, so I'm well on my way. I have to hold off to write those sections until I choose to close my survey and analyze my findings, which won't take long.

Now my next focus is getting serious again about my LSAT studying. It's crazy to think the test is only a little over two months away!

But rest assured -- I've been a busy little bee here in London. Not much time for fun stuff! It'll be worth it in the end though. :)

15 July 2011

Change of Plans

I'm super busy today so I'll just be short and straight to the point -- instead of flying back home to Michigan on 22 August, I am now leaving on 11 August! There are a few different reasons, but those are unimportant. I will say though that I am thrilled to be going home soon. I don't think it's necessary to reemphasize how much I do love London...but just in case: I LOVE LONDON! I think I'm just ready to be home. It's bizarre for me to think about the fact that I haven't seen my dad (or my dogs...CRY) for 6 months now, and by the time I do see them it will have been 7! It's only 11 days sooner than my original flight, but that's 11 days more of Michigan summer, boating, the beach, and rooftop wine and sweet potato chips at the Vintage. It will also allow me to be home for my sister's birthday on the 18th, which I'm very happy about. Oh, and let's not forget the Britney & Nicki concert IN GRAND RAPIDS on the 17th! Somehow, I blanked out on the fact that it was going to be at Van Andel...I just assumed it was going to be in Detroit. So yes, that's a must-see. Van Andel is such a great venue for concerts because it's small -- Kel and I (and a couple of her friends) saw John Mayer there the winter before last. Amazing.

I've got lots of good stuff to look forward to, and I'm a happy girl. But now the next four weeks (well, now it's less than four weeks!) are going to be super crazy. I'm now looking to finish up my dissertation in three weeks, and I'm also trying to stay on a somewhat regular LSAT studying schedule. I'm in a pretty decent position regarding my dissertation -- I have about 2,000 solid words done (out of 10,000). About half of the paper can't be done until I close my survey and analyze the findings. Once I do that, I can type up the findings section, as well as the conclusions and discussion sections. Right now, I'm mainly focusing on the literature review and methodology parts of the paper. On top of all that, I have lots of fun to have with my friends before I leave. It's going to be a quick and wild four weeks, I'm sure. 

Okay, that is all the updating I have time for. I am now off to the gym, and after that is more dissertation work. Later on, Kate, Paloma, and I are getting together for drinks and food before going to see Harry Potter in Camden. Yay! 

11 July 2011


Hi guys!

So, as I wrote about in my last post, I finally have my survey up and running for my research for my dissertation. It's going to remain active until the end of this month. It's very quick and painless -- it takes less than 5 minutes to complete and the questions are mainly demographic in nature, with a few simple opinion ones at the end.

Obviously, the more people that take my survey, the better. It makes my research more well-rounded, as does having people of all different backgrounds take it. SO, that brings me to my point.

If you are interested in taking the survey, please just follow the simple directions below. Choose the correct survey to take based on the first letter of your LAST NAME. Complete the appropriate survey once.

If your last name begins with A-M, click here to take the survey.
If your last name begins with N-L, click here to take the survey.

If you do choose to take the survey, you will be automatically entered (so long as you provide a valid email address at the end that you can be reached at) to win a $25 gift card! Fun stuff, no?

So go and take my survey. :) If you have any troubles or questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

06 July 2011

The end of June and July, thus far...

Yet again, I find myself having to apologize for my absence the past few (er...nine) days. I'm sure you all understand -- I'm busy with my dissertation and living it up in London since my time here is winding down!

Since I last wrote, a few things have happened. 

There was a going away party/drinks gathering combination event for a couple of my friends -- one who recently moved back to Ireland, and one who is old (but fun!). I'm just kidding...he's only a couple of years older than me. The gathering took place at Proud Camden, which is where we had our Valentine's Day event back in February. You know, the place that used to consist of horse stables that is now converted into a pretty cool bar?

(These photos were borrowed from another friend, because I'm a photo failure sometimes.)

So that was a good night. I initially planned on just going to say hi to everyone, and not drinking, since I had a ton of work to do. Weeelllllll, that didn't work out as planned, and I drank far too much wine with my handsome friend Dylan (in the first photo above). It was a lot of fun though, and needed.

The next night, a few of my friends and I had a little nighttime picnic-ish in Hyde Park to listen to the Arcade Fire concert. Mumford & Sons opened, so I was pretty excited about that. We stayed in the park for a few hours, since it was such a nice night. Eventually, we did get kind of cold and found our ways back home.

Then, on Friday, it was Canada Day! I have a few good Canadian buddies here, and they were pretty excited to celebrate the anniversary of their country's independence. Who am I to deny them that? The main festivities were held in Trafalgar Square, so that's where we headed first.

There were vast amounts of poutine, beaver tails, curly fries, and Molson to go around. Canada was certainly well represented on that day.

Somewhere along our journey, we came across this sign, which Dylan and I loved and giggled over for a minute.

Oh, if only. I eventually separated with Dylan and Charlotte and met up with a few of my other friends later on that evening, which resulted in a late pub night with lots of good conversation, bad singing, and cheap beer. In other words...the best kind of night possible.

Since I had a pretty social Wednesday-Friday, I took it relatively easy on Saturday and Sunday, and tried to focus on getting some work done for my dissertation. I did manage to spend some time with a friend on Saturday, so as not to go completely dissertation crazy. 

Finally, this week has been all business so far. I have been super focused (for me, at least) on all the 'not always fun' kind of things: my dissertation, working out, and my future., not always fun. However, these past three days have been pretty productive -- I've finally got my official survey up and running for my research, I've been doing a bit of LSAT studying and now have two of my 'bibles' on the way to me here (thanks, madre!), and I feel like I'm making some genuine progress on figuring out my plan for what I'm going to do when I return home in a couple of months. Wow, not even a couple of months...time is flying. Sidenote: I did get together with a friend for a while on Monday to celebrate the Fourth of July. I must say, it's not nearly as much fun here. We joked that we wanted to put on bikinis and drink a lot of booze to make us feel more like we were back home. We still had a good time though.

In other news, I'm sure you've heard or read or seen that Casey Anthony was acquitted on murder, child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter charges yesterday. I can't begin to describe how sick it made me feel to hear the court clerk announce the jury's decisions. I've pretty extensively watched and covered this trial from day one. I didn't know much about it before going in, which was actually ideal as it made me objective to all the internet rumors and miscellaneous evidence that the state chose not to present. I truly felt that the prosecution did an adequate job of proving her guilt in the death of her daughter. I thought the jury would come back with a verdict of guilty on felony murder, though not necessarily murder in the first degree. However, they also had the options of lesser charges second and third degree murder, as well as manslaughter...but did not feel she was guilty. My mind was blown. I have no doubt in my mind nor heart that Casey killed her poor little girl, whether or not she planned in. It just breaks my heart that she will now be getting what she wanted all along -- her 'bella vita' (meaning 'beautiful life', which is the tattoo she got while Caylee was "missing", though according to Casey's story, this would have been while she was grieving the accidental drowning death). She'll be free to do all the partying she wants to now...just like she originally wanted. And on top of all that, she'll be making bank with the book, movie, and television deals she'll be getting. The thing that makes me sickest is the thought that she may decide to start a family again someday. ARGH -- the thought makes me violently mad, to be honest.

Okay, sorry for that tangent...I have a lot of anger reserved for Casey Anthony, and truthfully I'm still a bit in shock that she will likely be walking out of the courthouse tomorrow after her sentencing a free woman (due to time already served). Sickening.

I probably should have saved some kind of good, light news to end on, huh? Umm...we're more than halfway to the weekend? Right. That is good news. I'm looking forward to spending some time with my friends this weekend, after a couple more days of hard work tomorrow and Friday. 

Ah, I have an idea for a good ending. My sister sent me these beautiful photos of our dogs from her Fourth of July gathering. How sweet are they??

The beautiful old girl...Casey
Happy 4th of July from Zo!
Ms. Molly Weasley
All tuckered out after a day of play...
The little Moo Nugget. :)

Okay, I feel better. That's a good note to end on. Until next time! :)

27 June 2011

The family takes London

My family left early yesterday morning after a wonderful 8-day vacation here in London. We did a lot of fun things, but most of all it was just amazing to be able to spend time with them. I'll let the photos do most of the talking.

They arrived early Friday morning. After making our way into Central from Heathrow and doing a few odds and ends type things, we made our way straight to the pub.

It was Pimm's o'clock...almost all week.
B was a huge fan of the fish 'n chips. I think he ended up having 5 rounds over 8 days.
Later that night, we went back to flat and my mom surprised me with a package from my Aunt Martha...3 boxes of funfetti cake!! Of course I made one (or two) that night.

On Saturday, we went to Borough Market for lunch and did a lot of wandering around town to see the main sights.
B and I in front of Millennium Bridge. 

Siblings at Buckingham Palace.
The fam (minus Timbo) at Westminster.

 On Sunday, we took a trip over to Greenwich via riverboat. We saw the Royal Navy College, the Queen's House, Greenwich Park, the Royal Observatory, and wandered around the market where a few purchases were made. I won't lie...they involved a vanilla raspberry jam cupcake and a piece of lemon cake. My sister and I have a similar love of sweets.

K and I in the Royal Navy College, Queen's House in the background.
View from the Royal Observatory.
Later that night, we did a night bus tour so everyone could see London by night in an efficient manner!

We then woke up at about 5:30 a.m. Monday morning to go to Wimbledon! We had a few grounds passes for the day, but needed to get in the queue to pick up a couple more.

I read...
While we waited for this to get moving.

K and I watching the Mardy Fish match.
Tommy Haas.
On Tuesday, Kellen left for a short trip to Edinburgh, and I took Mom, Brett, and Julie to the Tower of London.

On Wednesday, Mom and Julie went to the British Museum while it rained in the morning. After that, Brett and I met them down around St. Paul's. 
Purdy momma.

I made good use of my
After that, mom and B needed to experience the best London chips. They weren't disappointed.

Thursday was the Kings of Leon concert in Hyde park with K and B.

On Friday, the family went to Westminster Abbey and the War Rooms museum, while I stayed behind to get a few things done and go for a run. We met up for lunch at Lupita after, and of course K and I had to end on a sweet note with ice cream cones. :)

That would be St. Martin in the Fields in the background, but naturally mom chose to focus on what was really important: the cones.
That night was a chill one. Well...for most of us. I made some homemade pizzas for dinner, which were enjoyed with salad and wine. The girls decided to stay in, which led to us watching (and falling in love with) the British reality show 'Made in Chelsea'. Holy it. Brett ended up going out with my friend Ed, and didn't make his way back to the flat until 4:30 a.m...the sun was already up! 

Finally, on the last day of their trip, we decided to wander over to Notting Hill for most of the day.

After perusing Portobello Market for a while, we headed over to Hyde Park and the Kensington Palace gardens.

After that, we appeased K's intense craving for Wagamama, and then went back to the flat to get packing. Later that night, we spent a last little bit at the pub, and Brett was able to have his last round of fish 'n chips. I told you, the boy was obsessed. 

We had to wake up bright and early on Sunday morning (ehh, 5 a.m. early) to get to Paddington for the train to Heathrow. And such was the end of the family's vacation to LDN.

I wish I could say that I've been super productive for the past two days, but I haven't. I'm sitting in my new room with an unpacked suitcase and several full bags of odds and ends scattered around me. I also have my last dissertation supervision meeting on Friday, and I haven't made much progress on that. It's definitely time for me to get my head back in the game -- I've got 9 weeks left here and so much to do! 

I feel very torn. I know that when the 9 weeks are up, it's going to be hard to leave London and my friends behind so I want it to go by slowly. At the same time, part of me wants the time to pass quickly, because I'm feeling very eager to get home to my family, friends, and dogs. So, I'm finding it difficult to reconcile my different feelings about the situation.

Okay, enough deep thoughts for now. I'm off to the gym to attempt to work off some of the chips, funfetti, pizza, and Pimm's that I consumed last week.