Big News!

This fall, my family will be moving to the Czech Republic!

 

It has been a dream of mine for half my life (since I was 12, literally half my life) to move to Europe. If you want to read more about how that dream began, check out How I Fell In Love With Traveling. I am incredibly excited! I’m also extremely proud of my husband, because he will be an English Teaching Assistant through the Fulbright scholarship, the most prestigious international relations grant in the world. While we’re there, I will be continuing to blog, furthering my education, and of course, traveling!

MapofEurope

Over this summer, however, we’ll be trying to pare down our belongs, learning Czech, and preparing to move abroad. I will continue to work hard to bring you great content, but I wanted to warn you that there may be a brief break in my regular posting. Hopefully, I will be able to bring in some guest writers and blog in my down time, but we’ll have to see how life goes.

BonVoyageBitmoji

I can’t wait to share my experiences in Europe with you! I look forward to blogging about our adventures for the next year and hope that you’ll enjoy sharing them with me. I hope that friends and family will come visit us when we’re there.

Ahoj!

Have you ever lived abroad? Where did you live? What were your experiences like? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

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Photo of the Week: Poznań, Poland 2014

Four years ago, in May 2014, I rekindled my passion for traveling.  That’s not to say the passion ever truly went away, but finances and school, and blah blah blah, life in general just got in the way.  Between my first international trip in the summer of 2006 and my study abroad trip in May-June of 2014 I traveled within the US.  I became more comfortable on a plane, I saw more big cities but I did not have the opportunity to experience a different culture.  The idea of studying abroad in 2014 was scary, but I am eternally glad that I did it.  I needed to step outside my comfort zone and really start working towards the things I was passionate about.  Na zdrowie!

NYC Part 5: Broadway Show and Cocktails in Manhattan

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. Catch up now with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

After taking some cheesy photos and finding our way to our seats, Holly and I were able to take in the set of the Broadway musical, Once On This Island. (David was exploring downtown on his own, with plans to meet back up with us later on.) The setup was different than any theatre I’d been in before. The theatre is in the round (the audience surrounds the stage instead of being on one side of it) and is very open. Some of the cast was already on stage, milling around while the audience was settling in. The floor of the stage was covered in sand, and there was a “river” flowing in from one side. The first row of seats are on stage, with the audience seated with their feet in the sand. In addition to human cast members, there was a live chicken and a live goat on stage (my cousin’s favorite part)! I don’t have any pictures of the set because photos in the theatre are not allowed and they’re actually pretty strict about it.  The photo below is a model of the set that I found online.

onceonthisisland-set

Once the audience was settled (the show was standing-room only, but luckily we had seats) the show began. During a storm, the village storytellers tell a frightened little girl the story of Ti Moune. Ti Moune is an orphan girl who was adopted by peasants from the peasant side of the island. The island is also home to the grands hommes, wealthy descendents of French settlers who live on the other half of the island. In a Romeo and Juliet style story, Ti Moune falls in love with a grand homme, Daniel. I don’t want to spoil the ending, although if you’re curious, the synopsis is available on Wikipedia. The performance was incredible and the fairly young leading actors had phenomenal voices and stage presences.

After the show, we waited by the stage door for the actors to (hopefully) come out and sign Playbills. The first to come out was Sparky the goat! We got to feed him some goat food and take a few photos. Next to come out was Phillip Boykin who played Tonton Julian, Ti Moune’s adoptive father. He was really nice, signed both of our Playbills, and took a photo with us! Unfortunately no one else came out, but I’m not that surprised since it was a matinee and they had an evening show to prepare for. I was disappointed that Isaac Powell (who played Daniel) didn’t make an appearance, since he went to high school with my best friend and they were in their school’s production of Pippin together.

stagedoor

We met back up with David and decided to get drinks before Holly headed back to CT and we returned to our Airbnb. Holly picked the place, an Italian restaurant called Da Marino with allegedly really cool bathrooms. We sat at the bar and each had a cocktail. Holly had one of their signatures, an espresso martini, I had a cosmo, and David had a vodka tonic. We chatted with each other and with the bartender, who could tell we weren’t New Yorkers right away. We were the only ones at the bar, since it was like 6PM on a Sunday.

Cocktails

David and I checked out the men’s and women’s restrooms respectively, and they were indeed pretty cool. The women’s room was like a fantasy enchanted forest. When I returned to the bar, the bartender was singing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” with piano accompaniment. She was great! I guess she came to New York to become a singer, but was bartending to pay the bills.

We left shortly after her performance, Holly to Connecticut, and David and I to Astoria. David and I picked up some ramen and snacks to eat at home, rather than trying to go out to eat again. We had a chill evening for our last night in New York.

Cousins

Read about our last day in the city in my next NYC post! (Update 5/20/18: part 6 is the final piece of the story!) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited New York before? Did you see a Broadway show? Where do you think the coolest bathrooms in New York are? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Once On This Island wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_on_This_Island
Once On This Island set photo: https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Broadway-By-Design-Dane-Laffrey-Clint-Ramos-Bring-ONCE-ON-THIS-ISLAND-from-Page-to-Stage-20171216

 

Photo of the Week: A New Theme

Hello, Globetrotters.  Beginning this week I’d like to start sharing with you a brief mid-week post with the theme “Photo of the Week.”   I’m not sure where this theme will take me, but I’m excited to share more about me through photos.  I’ll still maintain full-length posts every Sunday (sometimes Monday or Tuesday) while starting this new venture.

To start us off I’m sharing a selfie.  Selfies are great.  Selfies say “Hey, I liked how I look, so I took a photo and I’m sharing it with you.”  Well, this is me.  Photo credit: me.  Model: me.

Have a fantastic week!

I’m A Scientist: But What Do I Really Do?

As you may or may not know, my day job is to be a scientist. I work at a small pharmaceutical company in their skin biology or “IVPT” (In Vitro Permeation Testing) department. Let me warn you right now, if you’re squeamish about dead stuff/the human body you should probably click away. I’ve got nice, fun articles about traveling in New York or making yummy veggie squares that are not gross at all.

StopifYoureSqueamish

Okay, non-squeamish people, thank you for sticking with me! My job is to test various topical products (skin ointments, creams, gels, etc) on various membranes, most commonly on human cadaver skin. I’ve also worked with fresh/flash frozen human skin (skin that was removed during surgery), pig skin, and nasal tissue cultures.

My least favorite was the pig skin; after awhile I couldn’t get those little dead piggies out of my head. I don’t know how folks work with animals that they are conducting studies on and then have to euthanize. It’s definitely not for me! However, it is a necessary evil: the FDA requires animal testing for all pharmaceuticals (including things like sunscreen) before they can reach human clinical trials. Luckily, there is no live animal testing at my company, and the pig skin (which was harvested off-site) is my only experience working on any kind of animal testing.

franz-diffusion-cell

Most of my work is with human cadaver skin, which is donated by 100% consenting human adults! I am tasked with mounting pieces of skin onto diffusion cells, applying a topical formulation on top, and removing samples throughout the testing period. I also have to separate the skin layers and process the samples for analysis. They’re then passed on to another scientist who analyzes the samples on a Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry or High Performance Liquid Chromatography/fluorescence detector. Analysis is super complex and not my job so I’m not even going to try to explain it!

I’ve also done a variety of non-lab work for the support of the skin biology department. Writing protocols, placing skin orders (way creepier sounding than it is. I like to say “My job is to order dead people’s skin off the internet.”), organizing tissues and other supplies, and other boring office stuff are the less-cool parts of my job.

catoncomputer

I mostly wanted to share with you all a little bit more about me. I hope you learned something new! The US’s drug approval process is long (10-15 years) and I participate in one tiny sliver of it. There are definitely movements to shorten the process, but having seen a little of the behind-the-scenes, let me tell you, you do not want it shortened at the expense of your safety. So much goes into testing the safety, stability, and bioavailability* that it’s difficult and unsafe to rush.

I would love to see a reduction in animal testing, which brings me to my secondary goal with this post: to encourage you to become an organ donor/donate your body to science. So many fields benefit from having real human organs/bodies to conduct tests on; from pharmaceuticals to medical schools, to forensic science to transplant centers: the list goes on and on. An increase in the availability of human organs in pharmaceuticals would not only reduce the animal testing needed, but increase the accuracy and reliability of the results. I’ve linked a few different guides to the steps you need to take to donate your body to science.

https://www.wikihow.com/Donate-Your-Body-to-Science
http://www.sciencecare.com/how-does-the-body-donation-process-work/
https://www.refinery29.com/donating-your-body-to-science?bucketed=false&bucketing_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

Are you an organ donor? Do you plan to donate your body to science? Why or why not? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

*basically how well the drug will actually work with your body.  See linked article for a more detailed explanation.

NYC Part 4: 9/11 Memorial, A Broadway Show, and More!

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. You can read about Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

911

We slept in a bit on Sunday morning, knowing we’d need to be well-rested for another day of trekking around the city. We took the subway from Queens to downtown Manhattan so that we could visit the 9/11 memorial. On the site of the twin towers, there is now a single, functional skyscraper, a memorial museum, and two enormous, sunken waterfall pools. The pools are covered in the names of all of those who lost their lives during the attack in 2001. It wasn’t easy to see those huge memorials completely covered in names. The site is beautiful, but there’s something haunting about it.

911-pool

The Grand Central terminal was next on our list, so after a quiet and reflective morning, we headed back up to midtown. Grand Central is one of those very New York things you just have to see when you visit the city. We walked around for awhile, taking in the mural on the ceiling, the huge market downstairs, and of course, taking advantage of free public bathrooms.

GrandCentral.jpg

We met my cousin for lunch at a tiny (TINY) little pizza place called Patzeria Perfect Pizza on W 46th. She took the train in from New Haven that morning so we could spend the rest of the day together! The pizza place was so cramped, I’ve been in delivery-only pizza places with no dining room that had more space. But it was warm, cheap, and the pizza was really good. We managed to snag some tight seats on high stools at the table along the wall.

While we ate, we talked about our plans for the day. Holly (my cousin) and I wanted to see a matinee of a Broadway show. David was encouraged to come along, but insisted that he didn’t want to come. Holly and I had hoped to see Come From Away, but it was sold out. We talked about several different shows, but we both love theatre and would really be happy with anything. We settled on Once On This Island.

Rockefeller.jpg

After we finished our pizza, we headed back into the cold and over a few blocks to the Circle in the Square theatre, where we got tickets for the 3PM show. Knowing that left us at least an hour to kill, the three of us decided to just walk around. We went to Rockefeller center and watched people ice-skate, passed by the NBC building and Radio City Music Hall, just enjoying being in New York and catching up with Holly. By 2:15 we made our way back to the theatre, knowing the doors would open around 2:30PM.

OnceOnThisIsland.jpg

Holly and I said goodbye to David (who planned to see the NY Stock Exchange and explore the financial district) and headed into the theatre when the doors opened. Crowds of people swarmed into the warm lobby, showed their tickets, had their bags peeked in, and all headed to the restrooms on the bottom floor, as there’s no intermission. On our way back up, we had our pictures taken at this cheesy but super fun red-carpet style backdrop. We showed our tickets again, found our seats, and waited for the show to begin!

OnceOnThisIsland-redcarpet

Read about our experience with the show, fun with the alleged coolest bathrooms in NYC, and more in my next NYC post! (5/20/18 Update: The whole story is live!  See the final post, part 6 now.) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited New York before? Did you see a show? What is your favorite musical? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Veggie Squares

For Easter this year, my parents hosted a covered dish lunch for family and “chosen family.” For years I took my mac and cheese to every Easter/Thanksgiving/Christmas, but for the past few years I’ve been trying different things. This time it was veggies squares. I found a video on Facebook and thought “perfect.” I told my mom that’s what I’d be bringing, she put it on the Facebook event and I was committed. I looked back at the video and realized it wasn’t a recipe, it was just someone cooking. There were no measurements or times or temperatures! I decided that I would carry on and just come up with my own recipe inspired by the video I watched. Here is that recipe!

Veggie Squares
Appetizer, Vegetarian
Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 can crescent rolls
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup Sour cream
1 ½ tsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Red, yellow, and orange bell pepper (about ⅓ each)
Broccoli (a small head)
Cucumber (about ⅓)
Carrots (4-6 large baby carrots)
Jalapeños (½-1 per personal taste)

Directions:

  1. Roll out crescent rolls as a single sheet onto a parchment paper lined baking pan. Pinch together edges of rolls to seal gaps. Bake according to package instructions.
  2. Combine cream cheese and sour cream. Add Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and set aside.
  3. Dice all vegetables. Proportions can be adjusted based on availability and personal taste. I only placed jalapeños on half as I assumed many people wouldn’t like them.
  4. Once crescent sheet has cooled, spread on a thick layer of cream dip from step 2. Add diced vegetables on top, pressing gently into the dip.
  5. Cut into desired sized squares using a pizza wheel and serve.

VeggieSquares-ingredients

VeggieSquares-crescent_sheet

VeggieSquares-better

That’s it! Pretty easy, right? It’s very easily customizable, too. Try it out with different vegetables, add your own spices to the dip and let me know how it goes in the comments below! Share via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!