Monday, April 17, 2017

New Mexican Birthday Party

My birthday was last week, and to celebrate I actually threw myself a party. I haven't had a real birthday party since a joint one I threw with a friend in 2008. For a while now I've been wanting to have friends over to eat New Mexican food, and this seemed like a good opportunity.

Cooking all that food by myself (which, by the way, I'd never cooked before) was a lot of work, but it was fun and worth it. I had red chile cheese enchiladas, green chile chicken enchiladas, rice, beans, salad, and chips with salsa and guacamole. Oh, and red chile pistachios. The red (powdered) and green (frozen) chile were actually from New Mexico, as were the salsas and pistachios. I also had all the makings for margaritas. And I even bought myself a piñata for decoration.
So festive!

Servin' it up

The guacamole was a big hit.

Margarita makings!

My plate. (And please note the red and yellow New Mexican flag theme.)

Of course I wore my "Hecho en Nuevo Mexico" shirt (and a buffalo necklace).

Birthday dessert!
Everyone seemed to like the food, especially the green chile chicken enchiladas. And for dessert a friend brought Mexican popsicles from a local ice cream shop, plus some mini churros. They were big hits.

I had a lot of fun. Maybe I'll throw parties a little more often? (And a big shout-out goes to my parents for providing most of the New Mexican food, and to my mom for answering lots of cooking questions and providing recipes.)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Vegas 2017

A few weeks ago my family enjoyed another long weekend in Las Vegas. My parents got into town on Thursday the 9th in time to see Donny and Marie perform at the Flamingo. I flew in later that night, and the three of us enjoyed a really late night snack at a restaurant in our hotel.

The next day the three of us visited the Springs Preserve. We'd never known about it before, but it's a neat place right there in the city. It has some botanical gardens, museums, a (Disneyfied) western town, and a large nature preserve where the original springs that helped start Vegas were before they dried up. We spent several hours there, starting with the botanical stuff and the butterfly house, then a ride on the train around the preserve, then a stroll through Boomtown, a quick trip inside the Origen museum to see the indoor flash flood experience and some live animals, and then over to the Nevada State Museum for some history.
This bird's long neck was wobbling around kind of like a snake.

Riding the train!

Playing a 1905 shopkeeper in Boomtown
After all that fun we were pretty hungry, so we headed downtown and had a really good meal at the Smashed Pig gastropub. When we got back to our hotel that night mom and I were tired enough to just head to our rooms. I believe my lights were out by 9:15.

The next morning we got up really early to head out of town so I could run the Lovell Canyon 10k. There were several other races going on at the same time, from a 5k all the way to 50-miler, but it was still a relatively small event. The course was an out-and-back, and was uphill the entire 3.1 miles out. It was enough to feel taxing, but the downhill wasn't steep enough to actually make up much time. I managed to come in 6th woman overall, 15th overall, and third in my age group (though they only awarded age group prizes to first place). It was fun to be out in the desert among the mountains running.
Getting ready to run.


It was fun having my parents there at the start and finish.
After the race we headed back to the hotel just as Ryan and Lauren arrived in town. The five of us went back downtown to eat at Carson Kitchen and walk around Fremont Street. I liked the restaurant, but I never like Fremont Street. It's too grungy for me. Back at the hotel some of us napped, then we all walked to the Wynn to see the Lake of Dreams and eat dinner. That evening Ryan and Lauren and I walked the strip, stopping occasionally. My feet were plenty tired by the end of the day.

Sunday the parents went to the Nascar race, while us kids hung out. We ate dim sum at the Rio, then Ryan convinced us we should get Chinese foot massages. Turns out they actually massage way more than the feet, which Ryan knew but didn't divulge. It was nice though, and since my legs were sore from the race the day before I was okay with it. We followed that up with bubble tea, and I was happy we found the same chain place I enjoyed so much in Boston.

Taro slush with bubbles. So delicious.
Back on the strip we did some wandering until it was time to meet up with mom and dad for pizza after their race. Then us kids did more walking on the strip, and found ourselves at a bar where we enjoyed two games of old school Trouble.

Flamingos and palm trees.

Haven't played this in so long.
Monday we ate lobster rolls for lunch (at the same restaurant I had enjoyed twice while in Boston), then we all went back to the Rio and enjoyed a game of indoor Kiss-themed miniature golf. Mom actually played with us, which she's never done in our whole lives. Why didn't she join in earlier?

After our golf game we visited the Bellagio to see the flower display in the conservatory. After that us kids did more strip wandering.

That night mom stayed in but the rest of us went to a hot pot restaurant for dinner. None of us had ever done that before, and I don't think we had quite the right method down for cooking all that random stuff (lots of seafood and shellfish and raw meat and veggies) and getting it out of the soup to eat in time. It was also super messy. But it was a fun bonding experience, and the food was pretty good. This was our last night in Vegas, and since I hadn't done much gambling at all on this trip I lost a little bit of money back at our hotel's casino before going to bed.

The next morning dad dropped us kids off at the airport. We were booked on the same flight to Atlanta, and we actually managed to get seats together, which was fun. We had lunch together on our layover before finally saying goodbye.

Another great family trip!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Presidents Day Weekend

I just had a great weekend. I exercised. I ate delicious things. I hung out with friends. I enjoyed nature. I saw a good movie.

Saturday I went for a run (which I'm finally getting back into!) and then scrambled to make some green chili macaroni and cheese for a friend's "4th Annual Mac n' Cheese Showdown." You guys, my mac was pretty delicious. Unfortunately, I was stupid and procrastinated and got to the party after lots of people had already gorged themselves and voted. (And yes, my mom even warned me not to cut my time so close. She knows me!) So I didn't win. And even though people liked mine, I was a little sad to have two different people say "did you make the jalapeño mac?!" Um, no. That was fresh (frozen) roasted green chili flown in from New Mexico. Sheesh. In any case, the winner was lobster mac and was indeed prize-worthy.

After the party several of us went to the grand opening of Hardywood Brewery's Charlottesville taproom, followed by a late dinner at Mellow Mushroom (as if we needed more cheesy carbs).

Sunday I went to a cycling class at the gym (also a thing I'm finally getting back into!), then Patrick and I drove to the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiked up Humpback Rock. Then we kept heading west and went to Staunton, where we had a cheese plate and glass of wine at a cute little wine bar, followed by dinner and the movie Lion, which was really good and I suggest you all go see it. (If you can. It isn't showing in Charlottesville, and hence our excursion to Staunton.)

Enjoying the view from the top!

Monday I was off from work and I had every intention of spending all day doing dissertation research. But I tell you what, I was tired (and sore), and ended up having a (quite enjoyable) lazy day in my PJs until I finally went out for a run before it got dark. Then I really did do a couple hours of work.

All in all? Excellent long weekend.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

my month in Boston

Alas, my four weeks as a research fellow in Boston have come to an end, and I head back to Virginia tomorrow. This has been such a great experience. I really appreciated getting to concentrate on dissertation research full time. I also loved living the big city life for a little while. And of course I did plenty of sight seeing too.

Three of my four Wednesday evenings I spent at the Museum of Fine Arts. My first visit wandering the American wing was my favorite, but the whole place is amazing, and I think I saw everything I could see.

Gilbert Stuarts's portrait of the aged Paul Revere, which I coincidentally saw the evening after looking through the Revere Family Papers (on microfilm) all day.

Really old Egyptian stuff.

My first weekend in Boston I visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on Sunday and then attended both the 6pm service and 8pm choral compline at Trinity Church in Copley Square. I also ate my first lobster roll for dinner. That Monday (MLK Jr. Day) I walked the entire Freedom Trail, stopping into the Old State House and Old North Church along the way. On my way through the North End I ate a cannoli, and on my way back through I stopped for a really good Italian dinner.

It was delicious.

A pistachio sighting outside the Old State House! (Don't forget you can see this and all my other sightings on Instagram using the link on the right.)

My cannoli lunch.

Taken at the end of the Freedom Trail, atop Bunker Hill.

My second weekend Patrick came to visit. That Friday night we had an amazing seafood meal at Neptune Oyster. Saturday we visited the art museum again (I had told him about seeing some of the film The Clock in which Christian Marclay compiled a ton of movie and tv clips with clocks or time mentioned in them, making a 24-hour piece that is synced to real time, and he wanted to see it too.) After the museum we headed to Boston Common to see the Women's March crowd. Then we hopped on a train to Worcester, where we had dinner with Patrick's aunt and her family. (I went back to Worcester the next Wednesday to spend the day doing research at the American Antiquarian Society.) The next day we visited the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, in which period actors give you a tour, and the kids in the group get to throw "tea" overboard the ship. Then we wandered around Faneuil Hall Marketplace and got dinner. Monday we went for a run (through sleet) around Fenway Park before he went with me to a brown bag talk at the historical society. Then we had lunch and went for a walk to kill time before he needed to head to the airport.

Women's March signs left at Boston Common
Patrick channeling his inner Sam Adams
Learning about the Boston Tea Party aboard a ship

My third weekend in Boston I worked most of Saturday. Sunday I went to Cambridge, where I ate really good ramen for lunch, visited the Harvard Natural History Museum and the connected Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and sampled some beer at the Lamplighter Brewing Co. I finished the night off with compline at Trinity Church.

A giant but extinct armadillo and ground sloth.
Also yum.
 For my final weekend I left work a little early on Friday and headed back to Cambridge to visit the Harvard Art Museum. And today I took the train up to Salem for the day, which was really fun. I took a self-guided walking tour through the McIntyre Historic District, which has tons of neat colonial and federal-era houses. I also walked around the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, though most of the buildings were closed for the season and the reconstructed ship Friendship was gone for repairs. After a stop for lunch I visited the Peabody Essex Museum. And when I got back to Boston in the early evening I enjoyed one last Italian dinner in the North End.

The Charles River and Boston in the background. I loved this view so much I started walking to Cambridge more.
A bust by Amedeo Modigliani. He's one of my favorite artists.
The Pickering House in Salem, seen after having just spent lots of time looking through the Timothy Pickering Papers (on microfilm).
I walked to the lighthouse at the end of Derby Wharf. It was cold.
Neat nautical art at the Peabody Essex Museum

I've walked my feet off here in Boston. According to the automatic tracking my phone does, I walked an average of 4.2 miles per day. The weekends usually involved a lot more walking, but even on weekdays I would often go for a walk between leaving the historical society when they closed at 4:30 and doing more work either at a coffee shop or back at my apartment. I also lucked out with the weather. Yes it's been cold, but I was well equipped to handle it and snow was never a problem. (For a while I was bummed I didn't get to experience more Boston snow, but the few times I wore my new LL Bean boots one of them was bothering my heel, and now I'm grateful I didn't actually have to wear them much because I wouldn't have wanted to walk so much.) 

Boston, I'll miss you.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


As you know, I'm working on my doctorate. Slowly. But right now, for the first time in my whole PhD-ing time (over six years, mind you), I'm getting to actually work on it full time! Briefly.

Last spring I applied for various research-funding opportunities, and was pretty excited to get three different awards. The first was for repositories in North Carolina, so I spent the first week of 2017 in the triangle area doing dissertation research. It was a day at Duke in Durham, a day at the state archives in Raleigh, and two days at UNC in Chapel Hill. On my last day I thought I'd gone through everything I wanted to, but then I realized there's still some more to do. So I may go back at some point.

special collections library at Duke

special collections library at the University of North Carolina
The second award was for spending four weeks as a research fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. That's where I've just spent the past week, with three more to go. It's pretty great up here. I'm renting an apartment less than a mile from the library where I spend all day looking through old papers. (Or scrolling through old papers on microfilm.) And sometimes I go for walks to explore the city. (Today I worked a half day in the library and then walked to Cambridge and Harvard! Now I'm resting and warming up in a coffee shop before I trek back.)

Massachusetts Historical Society

Walking across the river to Cambridge!
The third research award was from my school, and will help me spend a week or so in New York City later this spring. I'll probably try to combine it with a Philadelphia trip, since there are lots of collections there I should dig through too.

Fun times.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Christmas in Santa Fe

I finally got to go back home to Santa Fe after more than a year away!

I arrived really late on Friday the 23rd. The next day was mostly spent getting the house ready to have people over for Christmas, but my parents and I took a break for a Mexican lunch at Blue Corn.

That evening we picked Granddad up and went to church for a Christmas Eve service. Then Dad and I walked Canyon Road. It was fun, but it was really windy and a lot of the farolitos had blown out.

Christmas morning my parents woke me up and told me to look outside. A white Christmas! There was about an inch of snow. We opened presents with Ryan and Lauren on Skype, then went to church. A couple hours later people came over for Christmas dinner and hanging out.

Monday my parents and I ate lunch at Jambo Cafe. That afternoon we went to my aunt and uncle's house to visit. And that night Dad and I went to see the Eagle Huntress, which I liked a lot.

Tuesday we drove to Albuquerque and I did a little shopping, then we picked Patrick up at the airport and took him for his first New Mexican meal. That night back in Santa Fe I took him downtown to see the plaza all lit up and get a margarita at Del Charro.

Wednesday morning I met up with a friend from college for coffee (he was an administrator but also from Santa Fe and he helped lead the Club de Nuevo Mexico, of which I was obviously a member). That afternoon we had family over for posole and tamales. That's what we usually eat on Christmas Eve but we mixed things up this year. Later that night when everyone had left we played Rummikub.

Thursday we went to Meow Wolf. Apparently it's the hottest thing in Santa Fe right now. We spent over two hours wandering the "immersive, multimedia experience." It was pretty neat.

After all that fun we had a late lunch at the Cowgirl. Then Dad and Patrick and I took a drive up toward the ski basin. And that evening the three of us went to see Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened. 

Friday Mom made a great breakfast for us, then Dad and Patrick and I headed out of town to visit Tent Rocks National Monument. How have I never been there before?! It was amazing. Unfortunately it was also icy toward the end, so we didn't climb all the way up to see all the views. Next time. The slot canyon was still pretty neat though.

After our hike we headed downtown to do a little shopping, and then grabbed a drink overlooking the plaza before meeting up with Mom at the George O'Keeffe Museum. They had a little special exhibit on paintings she did while at the University of Virginia, so that was fun to see. We topped the day off with dinner at Tomasita's.

Another great trip to Santa Fe!