Introducing J-dawg // 05.05.2014

world, please meet the latest addition to our family - Jayne the dog!

T and I had been talking about getting a dog for quite some time, but our timing never seemed right, with obligations of grad school, new jobs and (brief) underemployment [we had the time, but not the $$]. In many respects, we are not desireable dog owners: we work long hours (45+/week, each), we're not terribly active, and our grasp of dog-training is iffy at best.

So, like good little students future doggie parents, we made list of attributes that would be a good fit for our existing lifestyle:
  • housebroken/be okay being left alone for large chunks of time
  • not a chewer, barker/yippy, indoor territory-marker
  • low exercise needs
  • big enough that we don't have to worry about accidently stepping on it
  • no identified temperment issues (e.g. aggression, anxiety)
  • from a rescue group/animal shelter
  • okay without a fenced yard
Notice how our list doesn't include the fun stuff? We didn't list things like "enjoys chasing balls" or "good snuggler" (more on that later). After looking at our list and visiting the local shelter - and... >>

calories, reviewed // 01.05.2013

So I was listening to an (old) podcast from Joy the Baker last week [[ #65: the friend diet ]] - the one where they recommend texting everything you eat to a trusted friend. It sounded good to me - T and I do this in spurts - a good way to introduce accountability, combat emotional eating and gain a cheering squad. Tracy and Joy demonstrate their process using both pic and text messages. Which made me assess my own phone messaging/posting habits. Turns out my instagram feed is a good measure for why my weight loss is going in the wrong direction. Here's the last three months, in calories:

  1. Pork stew with kale
  2. ... >>

Let's touch base // 12.14.2012

Can you believe it's less than two weeks until Christmas ??

random pic of rhododendron, the WA state flower. I planted a cold-hardy variety, fingers crossed that it survives!

The past few years I've gone all out for the holidays - well as much as my limited budget can handle. Homemade gifts, baked goodies for school, church and home. Lights and decor up on Thanksgiving weekend. Recipe testing starting in October....well it gets to be a bit much.

Don't get me wrong - anyone who knows me (even via 5 seconds on this blog) can figure out that I am okay with imperfection. So I've never been one to aspire to glossy magazine spreads for the holidays. But this year? oof!

The Good
  • Prelims, done!
  • Thanksgiving dinner isn't that scary
  • Foundation beds, done!
  • Mom's here for a nice long visit
....and the not-so-good

T herniated two discs in his back Yikes. He was in so.much.pain. And I really couldn't do anything for him. Sleeping hurt, sitting hurt, standing hurt, hugs hurt, massages hurt... you get the idea. For... >>

Preparing for exterior fall cleaning // 10.02.2012

Yesterday I introduced to my project for the next 31 days:

Today I'm going to talk about preparation. How many times have you started a project only to find that not all the needed supplies are available? Or that you don't have the budget? time? expertise? What about resources to deal with Murphy's law? Let's be honest. Getting your home ready for winter and beyond isn't glamorous. Sometimes it's dirty (and heavy!). I guarantee that part of the process involves coming face-to-dirt with the reality of how not-clean your home is. And if you've lived in the same place a few years like me, you really can't blame the previous owners for the dirt. hmmm? okay. Being prepared won't make the unexciting bits exciting. But it will make the process go more smoothly, faster even, with potentially superior results. I like to lump preparation into three categories:
  1. human ability
  2. availability of stuff
  3. visualizing success
Human ability. Take an honest assessment of what you can do. Are you afraid of heights? Maybe cleaning out the gutters isn't the best task.... >>

31 Days…of exterior fall cleaning // 10.01.2012

I am so excited to be participating in The Nester's 31 Days series. The basic idea is to write [blog] about one topic for 31 days - approximately the time it takes to build a habit. Plus there's a linky party for support and accountability :-) Sounds fun, right?

It's Fall!! I don't know about you, but my RSS reader is chock-a-bloc with awesome design, crafts and comfort food for immediate people comfort. Over the next month I'm going to focus instead on projects around the house to get the 'ol homestead all gussied up in preparation for winter [brr]. While I'll prioritize the exterior, there will be some forays into garage and basement. Now, I'm a complete newb [read: not professional in any way!] at all this home maintenance stuff, so feel free to pitch in with any comments or suggestions. At the end of the month, I'll have a winterized house and you will have a roadmap what projects are timely for fall. Hopefully you can find value in my process and mistakes! My motivation for blogging this is threefold:
<ul... >>

why hello there // 09.27.2012

Hi there!   
[waves hand]
According to the blog it's been 2.5 months since I last posted. Probably that long since I last charged up the 'ol ipod. The good news is that I've got a few good posts coming your way. Part of it is just following up on the 30-while-30 project I started at the beginning of the year. I'm motivated! Proof:

haha. a button does not accomplishments make. And in an effort to translate long medium-term goals to instant gratification, here's the original todo list: Health and Happiness
  1. Exercise 3x/week regularly
  2. Run a 5K
  3. Blog regularly; increase to 3x/week
  4. Lose 30#
  5. Learn to use my dSLR
  6. Do two social activities a week
  7. Visit another country
  8. Make 2 quilts
  9. Talk to Mom daily
  10. Go to a concert


  1. Go to 2 conferences each in Summer and Fall semesters
  2. Write 3 papers for Journal (not conference) submission
  3. Pass prelims!
  4. Present 2x to the working group
  5. Go to one dept networking event monthly
  6. Work on thesis daily
  7. Create an academic web presence
  8. Write a program that... >>

That Old Time Rock 'n Roll // 07.17.2012

At the beginning of this year, I announced some goals for while I'm 30.

Two weeks ago, we knocked another one off the list.

10. Go to a concert done!

We went to a local free summer series (yeah, I'm cheap like that) and heard/saw Mr Baber's Neighbors perform. They're a local bluegrass group that record on an indie label. I've got my eye on next week's performers, Four Mile Creek, too. Fingers crossed the weekend doesn't get too crazy!

To be honest, I was a little nervous taking T along. He's not really into country music - frankly, neither of us are - and I had visions of being at a concert that was more country than bluegrass, hot/sweaty, bored and too embarrassed to walk out. I shouldn't have worried. The schoolyard was a lovely venue with lots of (pretty well-behaved) children and dogs running about. We brought camp chairs and drinks. Besides music, Mr Baber's front man kept up a steady stream of groaners and some informative tidbits regarding song origins.

But I think the best part was getting to enjoy the moment. For that... >>

Auto vs Manual // 06.23.2012

These two pics were recently taken with the same camera at approximately the same time of day.

The big difference on my part?
  1. Use custom white balance
  2. Use the manual setting. On my camera this isn't too intimidating: I first select an iso, then I let the camera's exposure meter tell me what aperture(f-stop) is correct. I left the shutter speed to whatever it was set to. Perhaps not the "best" approach, but I'm happy with the improvement so far!
  3. Things to work on: balancing the effects of shutter speed and f-stop. I'm guessing this will be a lifelong process...

What the Moms got // 06.16.2012

Now that mother's day is well over, I can post about my presents.

The pattern is courtesy purl bee and I pretty much followed the tutorial verbatim. Although I really loved their linen choices, I really wasn't a big fan of spending ~$55 just for materials. I was able to produce a very very similar product for ~$30 with materials sourced from my local Joann's (which is right next to the grocery store, very very sneaky). Two fun linen cowls for $15/each? yes please!

As a side note, did you know that Hobby Lobby does not carry any linen fabrics? Or pompoms, either!

I bundled it up in a fabric box for shipping:


Not Really a Recipe ~ Dumpling Bowl // 05.11.2012

This meal came about by way of inspiration from leftovers.

From our fridge:

roasted marinated tofu, about 6 oz
ginger onion paste, recipe here, about 1/4 c
sauteed mushrooms, about 4oz raw
From our freezer:
dumplings (3 or 4)

In a small pot bring water to boil. Add the dumplings and cook until floating. Meanwhile, in a small pan reheat the tofu in a little bit of the paste. When tofu is mostly warm, add remainder of paste and mushrooms. Drain dumplings into serving bowl and coat with tofu mixture. >>

Hi! I'm Marie, a grad student recent grad currently living in the midwest. Join my adventures in home renovation and establishing a household.