UPenn Graduation: Just call me Master

Just over 5 years ago, I graduated from that Southern Part of Heaven, that priceless gem, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In a sea of Carolina blue, I wildly waved my tye-dyed mortar board in hopes to catch the attention of my family across Kenan Stadium. I was 21, gainfully employed, with the world at my fingertips.

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Fast-forward to yesterday, May 19, 2014. The sun was shining. The birds were chirping. The trash trucks were moving and shaking, because Monday is trash pickup day in my neighborhood. Luckily, I didn’t need their rumbling to act as an alarm. I could hardly sleep as it was. I get the same way when there’s a big trip in my future, or when I have someone visiting…. It was the day I was graduating from Penn and, after 2 years of toiling over projects and papers and field work and research… I was readier than I ever could have imagined. A few tweaks to the basic black graduation cap purchased from Penn, and VOILA! Let’s do this.

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My dear friend Samantha and I suited up (robed up?) and headed towards what might be the most inspiring graduation procession I could fathom. Penn has this incredible tradition called the procession of degree candidates, or simply the procession. Graduates from every school, program, and corner of campus gather together in their robes to saunter through campus which is surrounded by onlookers, faculty, staff, and Penn community members, many of whom come out every year, who are cheering, congratulating, and celebrating right along with us. As the MPH program is rather small, we were placed right next to the med students. 

IMG_9888I’m not a doctor…. but I get the feeling this won’t be the last time I’ll be marching alongside them in my career.

Arguably the most touching aspect of the procession is passing through the tunnel of flags held by Penn alumni from days of yore. As you pass, each and every one looks you in the eye, shouting out congratulations, clapping, and welcoming you to the fold.

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Quakers dating back to the Class of 1944 acted as the ultimate welcome wagon, before we rushed over to Franklin Field for the top show in town. But before we got there, we passed on other living Legend.

IMG_9893See what I did there?

John Legend, biggest man on campus (at least for the day), was our commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Music degree. After calming down a bit after spotting John, we waltzed onto the field (ashamed to say this was my first time, where’s your school spirit, JP?!)

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It was a packed house, with robes of all colors representing students in the fields of medicine, design, law, social work, and engineering, as well as undergrads, business school kids…. goodness, the list could go on seemingly forever.

The speeches were incredible. President Amy Gutmann spoke of the soundtrack to our Penn experience, complete with a performance of Gangam Style, because she’s a boss like that.

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John Legend explained to us that they key to happiness is opening your mind and your heart to love… How when you truly care about something, you want to lead. Apathy is no longer cool (I’m not sure it ever was…) And I won’t pretend that we didn’t get a little serenade…. it pays to have 9-time Grammy winners as alums.

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And before I knew it, it was time to turn my tassel, as I’d officially joined the ranks of Penn Alumni myself. Of course, that doesn’t account for the jog I had to make to my own, smaller graduation ceremony, specifically of the Public Health department.

There were a few speakers…. Oh, and I was one of them.

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There was no serenade on my end, but a discussion of absolute truths, the world changers among our group, and, of course, Law and Order: SVU.

I promise, it made sense at the time.

And then, just as swiftly as it began, my time as a graduate student at Penn ended. I was surrounded by beloved friends and family, laughter (and a few tears…. I am a sensitive Sally), and then my folks and I scurried off for some steak, potatoes, and sparkling wine. I can’t think of a better send off into the world of adulthood (again).

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You might be wondering, “What’s next, Jordan?” Well, we’ll keep that a little mysterious. But let’s just say it’ll involve gainful employment, a lot more opportunities for blogging, plenty of adventures…. and it’ll all be in Philly.

I’m sticking around my fair city of brotherly love, and can’t wait to see what it’s got in store now that I’ll be rocking that steady income and that 9-5ish.

Stay tuned, because your girl’s back.

 

 

Where’s Waldo (or, in this case, Jordan)?

The past few weeks have been chaotic. So many papers and assignments and applications and meetings. And let’s not forget that from March 21-24, Nordstrom had Triple Points. But really, what’s been keeping me from writing was the other stuff (I’m great at blogging and shopping. Can I go to grad school for that?)

Mostly, I’ve been feeling like this:

Can I just stay down here?

Can I just stay down here?

Luckily, I’ve sprinkled a few fun moments in the mix.

For instance, inspired by Lauren’s Quest, I made my my own quest on the hunt for Pliny the Younger.

FINALLY!

FINALLY!

After waiting for about an hour and a half (the things I do for love…) I finally obtained the hop bomb of my dreams.

Nice photobomb, baldy.

Nice photobomb, baldy.

Did I mention that this all happened at 11 am on a Monday? Nothing like a little day drinking to start a week off right….

I also celebrated the first day of Spring the only way I knew how.

WEEEEE!

WEEEEE!

Rita’s. I am so sorry if you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about.

The day AFTER the first day of spring, it snowed. Go figure.

I’ve also been getting back on my cheese game. God bless the year of cheese.

Promise, that wasn't all for me.

Promise, that wasn’t all for me.

Evalon from LaClare is an incredible goat cheese from Wisconsin that I paired with a dessert wine with some of my buddies last night. Fairly firm, this award winning cheese is almost like a hybrid between a gouda and an Asiago cheese. I bet it would shred well, but instead, we just ate it in chunks like the animals we are. On rice crackers.

Threw in some cheddar just for a bit of variety.

Threw in some cheddar just for a bit of variety.

Other than cheese, I’ve been wolfing pizza and thai food down like a champ. Jumping from meeting to meeting doesn’t always leave the most time for cooking at home. So, this morning, in order to clear my system and start Easter weekend fresh, I hauled my sleepy butt over to Pure Fare for a Green Pineapple Ginger smoothie. And a little calm from the chaos.

Let's do this.

Let’s do this.

I’m not a very religious lady, but I can already see this is going to be a Good Friday.

 

 

 

Six Pack Sunday: Blessed with BEER!!

It’s been FAR too long. Six Pack Sunday posts are some of my favorite things to write but, as of late, I’ve been swamped with working, learning, and a little bit of playing.  One of my buddies from school asked me in class this week,

How on EARTH do you have time to write a blog?

Good question. I regularly wonder, when reading some of my favorite blogs, how they manage to go out and run 7 miles, food prep for the week, work their jobs, get their education, and look gorgeous while socializing AND blogging.  It’s a mystery, but I guess folks make it work. Bravo to all those overachievers in the blog world.

I’ve been feeling pretty fantastic, primarily because I’ve been achieving a bit, at least in the beer world…  Yes, I had a GREAT TIME with my new beer babes of Philly Girls’ Pint Out on Monday, but there’s been some other stuff….

1. FREE BEER!! Thanks, Yuengling!

Tastes like home

Sometimes, the stars align, and something wonderful happens. When that wonderful thing involves free beer… that’s even more wonderful. On Friday night, Yuengling treated the folks of Philly to a free Lager to thank them for helping make Yuengling the largest American-owned brewery. The Philly-wide Toast was a great way to start the weekend off on a solid, free note!

I have to give props to Neiman for what I think was a unique and very popular campaign. That’s the kind of advertising I’m into…

2. Midterms are Coming

AHHHHHH!!!!!!

That’s all.

3. Worth It.

I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant about shelling out $4 for an order of sweet potato fries.

Well, consider my doubts swept RIGHT under the rug!

Shut the FRONT DOOR!

Hip City Veg is DANGEROUSLY close to Athleta. Like… when you have a 15 minute break, you can get there and back in time to eat an entire order of sweet potato fries. Add a side of black bean cilantro dip (which I now FULLY intend to recreate, ASAP) and you have the most decadent treat I can imagine. Salty, sweet, creamy dip AND a decent sized portion. I don’t know if this is a blessing or a curse.

My tastebuds say blessing.

4. Drink Your Paycheck, Much?

Ever since Monday’s glass of Consecration, I’ve been JONESING for a sour beer. And then, last night, I got paid.

Sure, the check was a fraction of what I used to get working full time in research.

Sure, I’m also attending grad school and shelling out dollars for that.

But it was an itch that only a good beer could scratch.

Sexy, right?

Hey, Russian River… You make one heck of a sour beer, blonde or otherwise. And in your tartness, you have won me over completely…. It was ALSO totally worth it to enjoy a lone peer that harbored on perfect to end a LONG Saturday full of work and Zumba. I slept like a baby (if babies could drink sour ales).

5. Freezing Fashion

The weather was in the 60s this week. And, since my body, accustomed to North Carolina temperatures, panics at the sight of 7s and 6s leading the numbers on the thermometers, I did what any sane employee of Athleta would do…

The coziest.

The Reversible Training Headband by Smartwool screamed out to me since we got our winter shipment at the store. And, last night, the crisp air DEMANDED the purchase of my very own headband. I also have barely taken it off since then.

6. The Luckiest

Remember that time that I booked a flight, mid-summer, to Denver, Colorado for the weekend of October 11-13 for $7.50 since I had so many points for flying back and forth to Philly from RDU for the past two years?

And I chose that weekend specifically so that I could go to the Great American Beer Festival.

Then… the tickets when on sale.

Four minutes later, I sat at my computer, shell-shocked by the fact that I didn’t score a single ticket. The sell-out was nearly instant, and I REFUSED to drop hundreds of dollars on a scalped ticket.

My buddy Melissa and I then promised each other we would enter any and every contest to get our tickets, hoping for luck to be on our side.

Enter: BeerGram

I signed up to receive their emails, crossed my fingers, and said that, without question, I’d send my first “BeerGram” to my beer babe, Melissa.

And then I was told that I won tickets to GABF.

I not only won one ticket, but two tickets for EVERY session.

Oh, we’re GOING THERE!

My heart skipped a few beats, and then I immediately wrote back YES YES A MILLION TIMES YES!!

This is the most exciting Six Pack Sunday of ALLLLLL Six Pack Sundays.

I’m scoping out survival guides, I’m making my plan of attack, and I’m getting thirsty.

Anyone else going?! HOORAYYYYY!!

What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to you lately, my friends?

Philly: The School of Hard Knocks and Soft Pretzels

I’ve officially survived the first week and some change of grad school, and came out without a scratch! Maybe a corneal scratch or two, I’ve been doing a lot of reading (actually, I highly doubt that corneal scratches come from reading, and I’m pretty sure that my best friend, the optometrist, would smack me for saying such a thing). But, beyond the classroom walls, the outlining, the biostatistics, I’ve learned a few other bits and pieces on the mean smelly streets of Philadelphia. And, since I’ve been doing enough writing for school on things that might not fit into this blog (The effects of tar balls on public health! The Theory of Reasoned Action and how it influences condom use! The history of voluntary abortion in India!), I figured I’d share a few tidbits on the blog so that each of you can get a little tutelage from little old me.

1. Have your cake and eat it, too.

Or, in my case, find a place to work and workout, too.

Second home?

You’re reading the words of one of Athleta’s newest employees. And, even though I’ll soon be better dressed in the gym than I usually am outside of the gym, I promise not to forget the little people that brought me to this point (if you’re reading this, I’m probably talking about you.)

One of the major perks of working somewhere filled with like-minded athletes and fitness Barbies like myself? Workout classes IN THE STORE!!

Athleta just was identified by Be Well Philly as the best place for free workout classes and, after finally trying one on Thursday morning, I can see why. In 40 minutes, I broke a sweat, burned over 500 calories AND was surrounded by adorable clothing that just screamed out “buy me, buy me!” I held off (waiting until I actually get my first paycheck, before I blow it on clothes) BUT it was definitely worth the trip over.

2. You can ALWAYS find X cheaper if you look hard enough. 

Deal on grapes at Whole Foods?

Go to Trader Joe’s.  Too expensive there?

Try Superfresh.  That not doing it for you?

Farmer’s Market.

Shopping around, when you have the time, can save you a buttload. You just have to make the effort. Luckily, I’ve got the time AND am a notorious cheapskate. A dynamic combination….

3. Be Aggressive. B-E AGGRESSIVE!

Ok, maybe this isn’t going to work for everyone. And, honestly, I don’t even know if it’s working for me. BUT I’m taking a fairly aggressive approach to befriending people. If I find out their last name, I’m friending them. If I can get their number, I’ll text em. AND, if there’s a chance to interact with my peers outside of class… I’m doing it.

Silly happy hour photos at the Mutter Museum? I’m there.

We’ll see how this goes in the long run….

4. Find Joy in the Little Things

Got a three hour class on the more complicated theories that form the basis for public health policy and interventions?

At least there’s a view…

Penn’s coat-of-arms is gorgeous. 

Also a little joy?

This solar-powered dancing sunflower, which is only happy when it’s sunny out.

Sound like anyone else you know?

5. Free? I’ll take it.

Yes, I know I said I’m a cheapskate. And you know what’s even cheaper than cheap?

Free.

Today, I stopped at the RnR Philly expo to see what all you crazy runners were fussing about…. Then I stopped by the Reading Terminal Market for some goodies. The sum of my experience?

Score.

The cost?

Zilch.

Be resourceful, check twitter, and who knows? You might take that old phrase “No such thing as a free lunch” and flip it right on its head.

6. YOLO

Last minute bus trip to NYC for the weekend, leaving in 30 hours?

Pretend that’s me in there.

Jeez, living in the Northeast is easy.

Agenda today? Quick trip to Rittenhouse Square for some art walking then DATE NIGHT with the beau!!

Learning is so fun.

 

Grad School vs. Kindergarten

And, just like that, I’m in grad school. I’m making moves, I’m taking Philly and UPenn by storm, and my higher education is top priority.  Yesterday was my very first day of classes and, though I was PAINFULLY excited, I was also silly-nervous. Was the teacher gonna be hard? Would there be mean girls  a la Elle Woods’ first day in law school? Would anyone sit next to me? What was the difference between nominal and interval-ratio, again?

Luckily, my intro to Biostats class was the ideal first class to have. My professor was friendly, adorable, and “loved” that I was named Jordan (boy’s name for a girl! HOW NOVEL!!)  As I listened to the lecture (for which I was incredibly prepared for, as I’d been “that girl” who did all the reading before the first day), I found my mind drifting a bit. Primarily to the fact that, despite almost all the students being 25+ (with a few “young’ns” clocking in at 21-22), this wasn’t so different from another first day I had, years and years ago.  Maybe like… 20 years ago.  Like Kindergarten.

And, though I’m not the first person to make this comparison, my personal experience revealed both major similarities, and stark differences.

Like Kindergarten, I pored over my first day of class outfit. And, also like Kindergarten, I chose a pink dress.

LET’S LEARN!

Like Kindergarten, I took the bus to school (at least, like most Kindergarteners, I was spoiled and got driven).

Unlike Kindergarten, it looked like this:

Where’s my yellow schoolbus?

Like Kindergarten, I had a nutritious lunch to fuel my big day.

Unlike Kindergarten, I cooked it in an oven, and served it with avocado and salsa. I don’t think I even knew what an avocado WAS back in the day.

Trader Joe’s Pizza al Polla Asado – $1.99 at TJ’s, SO tasty!

Like Kindergarten, we all introduced ourselves and said what animal we wish we could be.  (Mine was a Jellyfish. No surprise there.)

Unlike Kindergarten, we followed up with what school/program we were from… This was different unless you had PhD candidates for Bioengineering in your Kindergarten classes. I’m 98% sure we did not (though who knows about that one geeky kid with the swanky Lunchables container he designed himself…)

Like Kindergarten, we had snack time in the middle of class.

Unlike Kindergarten, snack time consisted of Rainier cherries, goat cheese, manchego, cracked pepper water crackers, and Pirouettes.

Thanks, Professor!!

Like Kindergarten, we were all eager to learn and meet each other.

Unlike Kindergarten, the plans we made for the future were not for playdates and sandbox trysts, but for happy hours and Restaurant Week.

And, as I got home after class and sat down to a dinner of crock-pot pulled pork and a bit of reading for my next class, I realized that, even though the (used) textbook I’m reading is titled Health Behavior and Health Education and doesn’t have ANY pictures, just like Kindergarten, it’s filled with illegible handwriting that might as well have come from a 5-year old.

Solid chicken scratch, bro.

Ah, it’s good to know some things will never change.

What was your favorite thing about the first day(s) of school?

 

Six Pack Sundays: Green Beer and Grad School

Ah, the morning after St. Patrick’s Day. The birds are chirping (which I can’t stand), the green food coloring is starting to fade off my hands, and the desire to make something productive out of my day is doing battle with the wish to never leave this couch.  It’s been a busy week with a quick trip home to Pennsylvania and little to no time to blog.  But now, on a foggy Sunday, there’s no better time to whip up a Six Pack Sunday post!

1. BYOB(lue)

Blarney Beer

Fun tip I learned last year. If you wanna drink green beer on St. Patty’s Day, but don’t wanna chug the swill that most bars are shelling out with green in them, bring your own blue food coloring. A drop or two in a golden ale or lager, and VOILA you’ve got a beautiful green brew without having to force down warmish Natty Light that’s neon green.  A tasty Harp Lager in Raleigh’s Moore Square was just what I needed on the sunniest St. Patty’s Day in recent history!

2. Might as well fact it, you’re addicted to Judd

Nice guns, Ashley

Is anyone else watching Missing? I have only just started, but I already know I’m a fan. With my luck, this probably means the show will be canceled in less than a season, but fingers crossed other folks get in on this trend.  I sense it’s a similar idea as the film, Taken, which is pretty much my favorite action film of all time.  And it has ASHLEY FRIGGIN JUDD as the lead!  Ever since watching Double Jeopardy with my mom as a little one, she’s been a favorite leading lady, but I haven’t seen her in anything too exciting since High Crimes.  I think this type of role (ex-CIA, serious badass mother trying to find her son who was lost or taken in Rome!) is meant for her.  Knock on wood that my notorious bad luck with new shows won’t rub off on this one.

3. Help a Sister Out?

Contest is over BUT thanks to y’all who voted!

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re on Facebook sometimes, too.  If you could take a quick second to “like” this picture of tasty beer ingredients from my visit to Big Boss with NC Girls’ Pint Out, I could win VIP tix to World Beer Festival! I know there’s not really much in it for you BUT I’d really appreciate it.

Here’s a hilarious picture/caption of Tyler Zeller, instead!

What a catch.

4. Brunch and Beers!

Better than Christmas?

This is most of the tastiness that we had for our St. Patrick’s Day morning party at my friend, Andrew’s house. Since I’m still going strong on the Pescatarian Lent, I brought a French toast casserole to deal with not enjoying the tasty Chick-fil-A biscuits.  I also whipped up some pistachio cupcakes inspired by the most delicious one I enjoyed from Glen Mills’ new Whole Foods!

I wish all brunches came with Guinness.

5. Seafood at a Steakhouse

I promised myself that I’d never be “that person” that goes to a steakhouse and doesn’t order the steak.  But when your mom mentions that all she wants for her special birthday dinner is Alaskan King Crab, you make it happen, no matter where you’ve gotta go.

Luckily, we found them at Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Wilmington, DE.  Mom got her Alaskan King Crab and I was in for a treat of my own.

Seafood Heaven

My dinner was total perfection.

Pan-seared mahi mahi over sauteed spinach with “crab-stuffed shrimp” (which basically translated to butterflied shrimp surrounded by tender crab meat.  I couldn’t even finish it (though I only left one crab-stuffed shrimp) but it definitely gave me faith in steakhouse seafood.  I’m a believer.

6. Celebratory Sushi

Get inside of me.

After an early flight on Thursday morning, following a fantastic (albeit brief) visit home, the last thing I wanted was to go home and cook for lunch.  But it was my coworkers last day in the office, and I also had to celebrate a little bit.  We got sushi at Shiki in Durham and it was fantastic! Scallops, tuna, avocado, I totally splurged and got some special rolls I’d never tried before.

What was I celebrating?

I got into grad school!!

I applied to four programs and, though I’m still waiting to hear back from three, I was accepted into one of my top choices!! I’ll definitely be moving back to Pennsylvania sometime this summer because next year, though I don’t know where yet, I’ll be a student again!!

I can’t wait for this next step in my life, and to move back to the North. There’s a lot left to do in NC before I go (Triangle Bucket List, anyone?) but it’s a great feeling, like a weight off my shoulders, knowing there’s at least one program that wants me as much as I want them!!

I may actually go and celebrate a little more with a trip to the mall/bookstore.

Again, I’d deeply appreciate any “likes” on my Facebook photo!

Did you make any tasty green treats for the holiday?

What’s something you’re celebrating?

D

Grad School Rejection and What I Really Should Study

Real talk: I don’t deal well with rejection.

This time last year, I was flying high, preparing to dominate the GRE (which I did, don’t worry). I was applying for a dual degree program that I felt fairly confident I’d get into after hearing from former professors, current mentors, bosses, parents, friends, family members, and anyone in between that I was totally set for it.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t get in. 

On my way to a beer pairing dinner (what else?), my beau called me to mention a (not-so-big) envelope was in the mail from the only school I applied to. My heart skipped several beats as he drove the 3 minutes over to drop off my envelope. He waited with me as I tore open the frail paper, smiling the whole time.  He grinned, excited for the next step in my life, proud of me. Then, he watched, as the hope in my heart was torn out as, eyes glistening, I looked up at him.

Crestfallen is not a word I use often, but no word better describes how I feel I must’ve looked at that moment.

I don’t remember the last time before that which dealt me that feeling of rejection. It may have been show choir in middle school. Needless to say, mature 12 year old that I was refused to ever try out for that same choir again. Don’t worry, I showed them all in high school by rocking every national anthem singing I could get my hands on (or my vocal pipes on?) But other than that, I just wasn’t accustomed to rejection. I made the athletic teams I tried out for, I got into the colleges I applied to, and got a bid in the fraternity of my dreams.  But the bigger they are, the harder they fall, right?

I fell hard that day, and it took me months to even contemplate what I would do next.

As I open myself up for that same rejection again (applying for a whole new round of schools because I have no interest in putting all my eggs in one basket like I did last year), I’m stressed, scared, and anxious.  Yes, I’m hopeful, but all those other adjectives have a tendency to block that hope.

In an attempt to lighten the mood (my mood, honestly), I’ve decided to whip up a post about what I really should study at a graduate level.  I could probably teach a course on the following subjects:

1. Introductory Event Announcing

PAY ATTENTION TO ME!

PAY ATTENTION TO ME!

Translation? Be the loudest person in a large group. Inevitably, someone will need SOMETHING announced, right? Thank goodness I got all that vocal rest the year I didn’t get into show choir.

2. Siberian Temperature Denial

Snow is a joke.

Snow is a joke.

Nearly frozen ocean? Dive on in.

Middle of the winter? Heaters are for suckers and saps.

Outdoor football tailgate at the end of the season? Grab that mini skirt.

Flip flops are a requirement at all times, snowfall included.

I refuse to admit it’s winter. It’s sort of like an art.

3. Unretentive Privacy 

Translation? I force people to pinky swear about things and never remember why.

In the past 3 years, I’ve demanded about 48 people to pinky swear something with me. I remember approximately none of these secrets.  Shhh… don’t tell.

4. Overenthusiasm in Formal Attire

Took the midnight train going ANYWHEREEEEE!

Took the midnight train going ANYWHEREEEEE!

Whether it’s a wedding, a convention, a banquet, or a cocktail party, chances are I’ll end up singing. Loudly. I’ll jump up and down and, if you’re lucky, I’ll pump the Jersey right out of my fist. I’m never not ready to party harder than all the other guests.

In fact, just inviting me to a party is basically a challenge.

CHALLENGE: ACCEPTED!!

5. Advanced Theme Party Dedication

Paranormal Party?  Only the most dedicated theme-party-goers would cover their body head-to-toe in long-lasting fake blood for a Carrie costume.

I was pink for days.

Unfortunately for me (and really, for the whole world), these are not viable educational paths. I guess I’ll have to get back to the real applications….

What would be your dream educational path?  

What fictitious course could you teach to a class full of eager students?

Six Pack Sunday: Treat Yo’ Self

My goodness. A Sunday where I’m not headed to the airport, or saying goodbye to someone I love as they head out?!  I forgot what this kind of day felt like.  It’s been a busy weekend, but definitely not quite the chaos of jet-setting that I’ve become accustomed to.  It’s like a breath of fresh air to not be skittering around trying to cram as much as I can into a weekend.

That being said, it didn’t stop me from cramming a lot in there (I think there is a that’s what she said joke to be found somewhere in there, but I’m not in that kind of mood.)

This week’s Six Pack Sunday seems to revolve around beers (duh), buddies, and bells. Jingle bells (read: Holiday cheer.)

1. A Partridge Brewski in a Pear Beer Tree

Tastes like holiday fun!

On Thursday night at Rockfish, I enjoyed my first official Christmas beer on tap!  The dubious honor went to the Anchor Steam 37th Annual Christmas Ale . Anchor Steam, a brewery that Caitlin introduced me to after her hubby ventured to San Francisco for work, doesn’t always produce my favorite beers. My opinion was rocked, though, with this Christmas Ale! It tasted like mulled wine, done with beer. Cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe even a little fir tree? Either way. The taste was on point, and the complimentary glass, rimmed in gold, makes me feel like a fancy pants. Or a Santa pants.

2. Treat Yo’ Self

Don't mind if I do...

In case you don’t watch Parks and Recreation (I don’t), or you don’t use the internet (I hope someone printed this post out for you, weirdo), you might not be familiar with “Treat Yo’ Self”. Well, please observe the following video, summarizing the concept:

Well, I figured that Saturday morning, I’d do just that. After getting nearly all my Christmas shopping done before 10 a.m., I decided to treat myself with a pair of new tall black leather boots AND some homemade pumpkin French toast.

I’ll clue you in on a little secret: for me, pumpkin French toast just means that I mix pumpkin and pumpkin spice into the egg dip. It worked, it was delicious and decadent, and I felt like a little princess.

3. Applications: NO BREATHING!

Sweet set up

Yesterday, the only true goal of my afternoon was to finish up my personal statement. After working on it for several hours (who would’ve ever thought it’d be so hard to state my purpose?), I completed it at the Nordstrom eCafe!  In case you’re not aware, the Nordstrom at Southpoint has free wireless which is reliable enough to stream Pandora! And, after dropping some SERIOUS change there earlier in the day, I figured I should finish my work where I started my morning. My romance with Nordstrom knows no bounds. None.

PS: Contrary to popular belief, my purpose is not just “Drink awesome beers, sweat up a storm while I dance, and dress up in wacky outfits because theme parties are the defining occurrences of my life.”

That would’ve been a much easier essay to write.

4. Speaking of Wacky Outfits…

Fashion is my middle name.

Leggings, boots, Santa suit, undies on my head, and PBR suspenders aren’t what you wear when you go out on a Friday night?

Well, maybe you should try it.

North Carolina Girls’ Pint Out’s First Annual Festival of Beermas was a HUGE success, but I’ll write a full post on that later.  In the meantime, just go crazy and Polyvore my whole outfit.

5. Classy Broads Drink Classy Drinks

Oh, you fancy, huh?

My new friend, Amanda, and I went to celebrate the completion of my essay with some big girl drinks at Fox Liquor Bar.  This Raleigh establishment reminded me a lot of the Crunkleton in Chapel Hill where the focus is on well crafted cocktails made with care and love.  And giant ice cubes.

My drink of choice was the Late Night Reviver: Beefeater gin, Fernet Branca, ginger, lime juice, soda water. Shake and served long with a garnish of candied ginger.  Amanda went with the classic Old Fashioned.

The best looking pair at the bar, other than us, of course

Hopefully, the classiness of our cocktails out offset the magnum of Arbor Mist we consumed in a Rugrats drinking game earlier in the night.

It’s all about balance, right?

6. Rap Battle in the Basement

I could be hallucinating but, if the sounds I hear are correct, this is what’s going on in the apartment below me:

Is this 8 Mile? (click for source)

There’s a lot of loud, angry rap music going on and I think my floor is vibrating.

If I’m missing Eminem rhyme birthday with first place, I’m gonna be super ticked.

If he’s shirtless, the ticked is going to be on a whole new level (woops. Confession of attraction to shirtless white rapper for the day? Check.)

Jeez, I think I need a nap.

How would you “Treat Yo’ Self”?  Fine leather goods?