White Elephant LOBSTER

Sunday Shenanigans 12/11/16

Winter has officially come to Michigan. Gave us a peek with the arrival of sub 30 degree weather last week, and made its grand entrance last night with the arrival of the several inches of white fluff now sitting in my yard. I usually love the first snow of the season, the pretty white covering that sparkles in the sun or among all of the Christmas lights. This year however, I have been a strong opponent to winter’s arrival. The temperature dropped below 4o degrees and my motivation to hibernate for several months increased exponentially. Perhaps it is just because I am exhausted and getting out of bed is always harder when it is cold, or perhaps my current distaste for the cold stems from the memory of last year’s brutal winter still burned in my brain.

My lack of excitement is not limited to the first snow of the season, even my excitement for the holidays seems to be weaker than normal. Don’t get me wrong, I still love this time of year and have enjoyed the preparation and festivities that have already happened, but overall it feels like my motivation is lacking this year. I believe the culprit is a bit of burnout. I looked back at my calendar and realized that since June I have had just two weeks without class and only a handful of weekends without obligations (none of which fell in the two weeks without class). 2016 has been a long year, and a roller coaster year at that. While there are plenty of great memories, there is little energy left in me to finish the year. As I wrap up my final course in 2016, I am aware that my first class in 2017 is only a few weeks away. Since it is another 4 week course, my start to 2017 is promising to be just as exhausting as the end of 2016. It is safe to say that a cadence of “4 more classes, 4 more classes” has been playing in my head regularly over the last few weeks.

I knew there would come a point where my motivation for school would struggle; it seemed inevitable based on previous schooling experience and what I have been told by friends and family who have completed advanced degree. However, I have to admit that I did not expect to experience it this far from the finish line. Yes, 4 classes left means that I am three quarters of the way done with the program, but those 4 classes also represent another 6-7 months of workdays followed by homework and weekends spent studying instead of relaxing. Earlier this week I experienced my first instance of genuinely wanting to just stop, call time out, and not deal with school. Immersed in lecture videos after a long day at work I felt my exhaustion overtake my ambition as the primary driver. It only lasted a few minutes, but it was there nonetheless.

Now, you’re probably wondering why the picture for this post is a lobster. While school has kept me busy, it has not prohibited me from having some fun.  The aforementioned lobster was a “guest” of sorts at my friends’ Ugly Sweater party last night. By guest I mean he was a gift in our white elephant gift exchange. In the picture he is cooked and ready to be eaten, but during the gift exchange he was in fact fresh and alive. He was also the first gift that was opened, which meant most of the other creative gifts didn’t have quite the same impact. The one gift that may have rivaled him was “fish and chips” in the form of a can of Pringles and a couple pet goldfish. This package happened to come from the same family as the lobster. Based on last night, I officially dub Liz Wood Queen of the White Elephant. I thought my  contribution to the gift exchange, which included icing the recipient, was funny, but it had nothing on a lobster.

With an evening away from thinking about school complete, I will spend this snowy Sunday working. I started the morning with some actual work and will soon begin chipping away at the final few stages of my current class. My goal is to complete all of the requirements by Tuesday, a full week before the close of classes. I will also have to venture into the cold to rid my porch and driveway of the snow. Sadly, shoveling does nothing to decrease my current animosity towards winter.

 

Enjoy your weekend!

 

Best,

Katherine

 

Sunday Highlights

Sleep: 8.5 hours

Work: 2 Hours

Study: 4 Hours

Workout: Blogilates Arm Day

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Cranberry Apple Sauce

Sunday Shenanigans – Thanksgiving Recovery 2016

It is safe to say that the holiday season is officially in high gear. Thanksgiving has come and gone, which means it is acceptable to put up Christmas decorations and listen to Christmas music. Of course, plenty of stores (and people) like to blow past Thanksgiving and go straight into Christmas after Halloween. For the record, I love Christmas; I love the music, the decorations, and shopping for family and friends, but Thanksgiving deserves its time! In fact, I think it is appropriate that a holiday centered on being thankful for what already have falls before the mayhem that comes with this year’s hottest gifts and that gift that you “need to have.” Unfortunately, most people don’t take to heart what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about; it’s just the big meal they have before they rush off to buy the giant TV.

Cynicism aside, I’m sure you did not click on the link to hear my disappointment in the human race. So what is new in the life of this grad student? I am about half way through the material in my 4 week course and still a week ahead of schedule. I did slack a bit on the schedule I created for myself this week. One commonality between undergrad and grad school, maintaining focus on school around Thanksgiving is a monumental task. You’re tired of the semester already, you’re home with family who are off from work and not worrying about homework, and you are so close to winter break. It is tempting to neglect the school work you told yourself you would get done while you had the extra time. I hosted Thanksgiving at my house this year (check out that pretty homemade cranberry sauce in the header) which only added to the distractions, even for the small party I was having. Cooking all day and then decorating the house with my family is a much more enjoyable way to spend the day than listening to lectures or writing papers. Then of course you have the post Thanksgiving food coma, which eliminates any motivation that may have remained in your body. All hope is not lost though, there are tricks to making sure you achieve most, if not all, of the work you set out for yourself while still enjoying your holiday break.

First things first, take a breath, give yourself one day in your break to do nothing school related. If you want that day to be turkey day, perfect, be in the moment and enjoy family time. If you want it to be Black Friday, go for it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, balance is key in surviving grad school. You can force yourself through that lecture or reading, but if you’re burned out, you will not retain the material and will have to redo it. Save yourself the time and frustration and take the break. It will be better for your studies and mental health in the long run. School is important, but so is enjoying life.

Second tip, set aside one hour a day to chip away at the material you need to cover. If you need more time, or want to set aside more time, that’s fine, but make sure you make the commitment to dedicate at least one hour a day to your checklist. These small amounts of time will go quickly but will add up and leave you with far less to cram into your schedule once break is over. You may even be able to turn that study time into family time. Have a quiz coming up? Have a family member quiz you on the material. Need your paper edited?  A second set of eyes are a great resource when you have been slaving away over your computer. There are plenty of ways to make sure you enjoy your break while still getting your work done.

Speaking of dedicating time to your studies, I believe it is time for me to do exactly that. I’m off to immerse my self in the wonderful world of inbound marketing. Enjoy your Sunday!

 

Best,

Katherine

Sunday Shenanigans 9/4/16

I will start with this, this will be a short post. I am running low on brain power and it is a gorgeous day out so I’d like to spend as little time as possible behind my computer screen. I’ve already spent a couple hours on Finance homework, so I believe my limit of indoor activities on a beautiful day has been met. My day hasn’t been all school though, Tucker and I played some tug o war this morning with his new toy and then took a long walk to enjoy the sun and tire him out so I could study.

This week’s class was much better than anticipated (minus the fact that it lasted until 9:30pm). The class will most definitely be tough, but my teacher clearly wants students to do well and works hard to make the material understandable. He also tries to crack jokes in class, and while they are weak on the execution, I appreciate the effort He knows he is dealing with grad students who have been at work all day and would love to be anywhere besides class. The one thing that has not changed about my expectations of this class is the amount of time I will need to dedicate to it. While we’re still covering fairly easy material, there is a lot of it and a lot of formulas that inter mingle and cross one another. I am glad that my teacher allows us a formula cheat sheet for the tests. I have a feeling that having one will be a huge help. I’d like to think that I can prepare enough where the cheat sheet will be only a minor crutch, but that is not a guarantee.

Ok, that is enough typing. I told you this would be short. I hope you all have a wonderful extended weekend. Go out and enjoy it!

Best,

Katherine

Sunday Highlights

Sleep: 9 Hours

Work: Minor client monitoring (1 Hour)

Study: 2.5 Hours

Workout: Long walk with Tucker, Blogilates Booty Day, Paddle Boarding

Soundtrack: iPod on shuffle, never know what I’ll get

 

 

Sunday Shenanigans 8/7//16

I am sad to report that there will be no shenanigans today.

Unless of course you refer to the shenanigans my professor employs to keep 25 MBA students engaged for 8 hours on a Sunday. It is, ladies and gentlemen, that time where I have elected to spend two weekends of my summer locked in a classroom in exchange for 3 credits towards my degree. This seemed like a great idea when I first registered and it gives me freedom in scheduling the rest of my classes, but as I sit in a freezing classroom on a beautiful Michigan summer day, I question my decision. I had no reprieve after work on Friday and limited time this weekend and next to relax and regroup. My laundry will likely remain in its basket and my workouts will probably be shorter due to sheer exhaustion. As I go into this workweek I will probably be lacking in the sleep department and particularly reliant on caffeine. “It will be worth it” is the permanent mantra in my head.

When I registered for this seminar I was not scheduled to be in another summer class. Now that I am in another class, I will will be at WSU 5 days a week for two weeks. Within that time frame is my group presentation for my Global Automotive Marketing class. I also follow up my last day of the seminar with my final for Global on Monday night and our last project due that Friday. It’s going to be a hectic few weeks.

As I have made my way through this program I have found that the biggest challenge is time. I have not struggled to find classes I am interested in, I have been able to handle the materials, and I am keeping a steady pace towards completing my degree. Time on the other hand, has consistently presented challenges. Something inevitably falls off the priority list and it tends to be something that I shouldn’t ignore. Most recently sleep has been the causality.  I either stay up too late trying to get things done or I have trouble falling asleep because I am thinking about everything that needs to get done. Lack of time has also had a negative impact on my healthy habits. My workouts, while still fairly consistent, have been shorter and not as tough. My regular diet has also been impacted. Less time to cook and less energy has lead to more PB&Js instead of more complex, healthy meals. The demands of changing jobs and the events that accompany those changes have also played a part in the less than ideal composition of my meals. The balancing act of work, school, and (minimal) play has been off balance recently and is in need of a reset. I have said it before and I will continue to say it, that balance is what is going to get me through this journey. Grad students need to have the ability to recognize an imbalance in their responsibilities and priorities and take the steps to make corrections. Without that, there is a real risk for burn out and failure.

 

 

Best,

Katherine

 

Sunday Highlights

Sleep: 6 Hours

Study: 9 Hours

Work: 0 Hours

Workout: 9 holes of very bad golf

Meal Prep - salads, quinoa bowls, cut veggies

Sunday Shenanigans 5/15/16

“I’ve got Grad School Problems but my food ain’t one”

Happy Sunday everyone, I hope you had a wonderful weekend and were not treated to the same “spring” weather that I woke up to. Someone please tell Mother Nature that it is May and there is no reason for snow. Luckily, none of it stuck, but Sunday brunch is much more enjoyable when I don’t have to bundle to get in and out of the restaurant.

Food was a large focus of my day. I had a quick breakfast this morning before I knew I was going to brunch but at least it was healthy. Avocado toast has been a regular part of my breakfast rotation for a while, but I’ve now added the option of not just toast, but english avocado english muffinmuffins. This may not seem like anything special, but english muffins  were a staple that my mom always had around when I was growing up since she liked them. Specifically, we had the Thomas brand. While delicious, I generally do not keep english muffins at my house because the regular kind is made with refined flour and I try to stick with whole wheat. Come to find out, Thomas makes a 100% whole wheat version! These have probably been around forever but they are a new discovery to me. So breakfast this morning was avocado on an english muffin.

 

The rest of the day was occupied by cleaning, my workout, and meal prep! The last couple weeks have been up and down on the healthy eating scale for me. I am participating in the Tone It Up Bikini Series with a couple friends and the last couple day have been less than compliant, so this week is a reset. I also really enjoy prepping food for the week. It is a nice time for just me to cook, create dishes, and enjoy healthy food. Today’s creations included a couple salads, asian inspired quinoa bowls and one Mexican “burrito” bowl, lots of chopped veggies for snacking, and Honey Vanilla granola. My house currently smells delicious. I also made a tweak to my regular granola recipe. In the past I’ve added some cinnamon on top of my granola and yogurt if I was craving a little something extra. This time, I decided to test and see how it would turn out if I added cinnamon to the honey mixture before I mixed in the oats and baked. I have to say, it came out quite nicely. It is a subtle change, but I really enjoy the baked in cinnamon. It reminds me of the cinnamon maple granola I made, without all the sugar from the maple syrup. It may become the regualr recipe instead  of an add on.

With all of that productivity in the kitchen complete, it is time for me to knock out some homework. My Project Management class has been interesting so far but it moves at a quick pace. We started class last week and our first test is Wednesday. Tonight’s task will be reading Chapter 3 for tomorrow’s class and starting to think about what I want on my cheat sheet for the test. Wish me luck!

Best,

Katherine

 

Sunday Highlights

Sleep: 8 Hours

Work: No

Study: 1 Hour, Project Management reading

Workout: Tone It Up Bikini Series Mermaid Workour plus Daily 5, 2 mile run, and POP Pilates Total Body calendar workout

Colleen's graduation

Sunday Shenanigans 5/8/16

Oh what a weekend. My baby sister is officially a college graduate. It is a weird feeling to be sure. Even though she will be starting law school in the fall and is not completely done with school, she is ending a major period of her life. Sitting in that graduation ceremony, I couldn’t help but think back on my graduation. Its’s hard to believe that is has been 5 years since I was sitting where Colleen was yesterday. There are times that I miss SLU and that period in my life, but I also appreciate how I have grown since graduating and I am excited about where I am heading now. It won’t be long before I am once again a graduate. That light of the end of the tunnel is what will keep me going, especially over the next few months. Work has been steadily picking up and there are big plans for projects that will increase my work load as well as the amount of traveling I do. I have no doubt that there will be some late nights and extra early mornings between now and August. It may be a bit of a struggle to take my own advice and make sure I get enough sleep and keep work, school, and a healthy life in balance. Luckily, I have a strong support system that will keep me in line and call me out if they see me pushing too hard for my own good. Accomplishing my goals is only worth something if I am happy and healthy and able to enjoy the spoils of reaching the end.

Speaking of healthy, this weekend was not exactly my best in terms of healthy choices, but I was much better than I expected. My sugar count was waaayyy above where it should be on normal days, but everyone deserves times where they indulge. My drink of choice this weekend was hard cider. A combination of favorites like Stella and Strongbow and some local brands like Loon Juice and Ace Pear. The Ace Pear was sweeter than my other choices but crisp and refreshing while sitting by Lake Superior in the sun. Loon Juice was also really good, and it was served to me in a Founder’s Grand Rapids glass which I thought was funny. The weekend wasn’t void of healthy habits though, we did plenty of walking along the lakeshore, skipped stones, and did some lifting to get my sister moved out of her apartment. I also took the time for a quick workout this morning. All in all, I’d say it was pretty close to a wash on health benefits.

After such a fun weekend it’s hard to head back to the real world, but work and school await me. My flight home doesn’t land until 8:40 tonight so I’m sure the rest of my evening will consist of a few cuddles with Tuckerfluff and then collapsing into bed.

 

Best,

Katherine

 

Sunday Highlights

Sleep: 10 Hours – amazing how easy it is to pass out after not sleeping well for two nights

Work: No

Study: No

Workout: 3 Mile Run, Daily 5 from Tone It Up

Soundtrack: Shuffle on my iPod to get me through Dultuh-Detroit travels, currently Colbie Caillat selection

 

 

Healthy Living Meal Prep

Sunday Shenanigans 4/3/16

Dear Mother Nature,

It is officially spring…STOP SENDING SNOW!

I don’t about you, but I am tired of cold weather. I am ready for skirts and cardigans instead of layers of sweaters and boots. I know I live in Michigan and I should be used to the cold and springs like this, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. We had a couple weeks of nice weather and I do not want to go back. Rainy and cold days are hard after a few days of gorgeous weather; they make it tough to be productive at the office and even tougher to come home and study or workout. There is something energizing about a pretty spring day, something that makes that run or homework a little more appealing even after a long day at the office.

However, we all must continue despite the dreary weather. My Sunday Shenanigans have consisted of meal prep and cleaning so far, with a POP Pilates workout still on the docket. Of those activities, meal prep is by far the most fun (cleaning the kitchen afterwards is the least). Recently I have been on a streak of actively going through my Pinterest boards to find new things to try, instead of pinning them and forgetting them. Some of the recipes I stick to, others I’ve added my own twist to. I also still make a regular practice of looking at my fridge and making up recipes as I go.  My dad and grandma taught me how to cook and most of our favorite recipes are of our own creation. This week’s menu includes asian inspired chicken quinoa bowls, tarragon chicken, and egg muffins for breakfast. The egg egg muffinmuffins were a Pinterest discovery and I am curious to see if they hold up as well as promised. Fresh out the oven they were pretty tasty, though if I were to make them again I would add a bit more seasoning. That is a personal taste though. I also whipped up another batch of honey vanilla granola. In case you haven’t noticed, homemade granola has become a mild obsession. So far I have made honey vanilla and cinnamon maple, but I have three or four more flavors I intend to try soon. While both of the flavors I have made were good, the cinnamon maple was my favorite. However, it is also the less healthy option since there is a higher amount of sugar in it, figures. That will not stop me from making it again, I will just have to be mindful of how much of it I eat.

The kitchen has not been my only productive room this weekend. A couple times per year I go on a cleaning spree that involves tearing my entire closet/desk/office/etc apart and reorganizing. This spree is usually not planned, but rather grows out of general cleaning plans. Yesterday was one of those days. While my plan had been to do laundry and clean the whole house, it turned into taking apart my bedroom. Part of the reason was not being able to find one of my swimsuits. I know it has to be somewhere in my house, and I’m sure I stored it someplace where “I’ll remember it” but now can’t remember. So, my closet has been reorganized according to the type of type of clothing and subcategories of where I wear that clothing, my donation pile has grown, and I still haven’t found my suit. I also still need to finish cleaning the main floor of the house as Tucker’s shedding only gets worse in the spring. Oy vey.

On the school front, I am registered for classes through the fall, with two management classes, corporate finance (yuck), and Inbound Information Technology occupying my academic life for the next few months. I am actually very excited for the management seminar I am taking in August. It is a two weekend class, which is nice because it gets one of my classes out of the way in short time, and it is taught by one of the most popular professors in the business school. It is the same professor who taught the class on persuasion that I had wanted to take in January but couldn’t. It should be an interesting few months. In the near future though, I have to finish my accounting class. My final is April 30th which is coming up much more quickly than is desirable. We just had our midterm and the final is already looming. I suppose that is the peril of shorter grad school semesters.

Alright, it is back to the grind for me. I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday.

 

Best,

Katherine

 

Sunday Highlights:

Sleep: 10 hours (alleluia!)

Work: Not today

Study: Need to read two chapters this week…

Workout: POP Pilates Leg Day

homemade granola

Sunday Shenanigans 3/20/16

Whew, what a week.

First off, I promised my followers on Twitter updates from the ACHA Women’s Nationals last week. As much as I hate to fail on delivering, I don’t think anyone can hold it against me as I was busy celebrating UMD’s DOUBLE OVERTIME WIN!!!!!!! What a way to end my sister’s organized hockey career. The weekend as a whole was an emotional roller coaster; the semi final game also went into double OT. I have to send a shoutout to my sister’s bud and fellow senior  who scored the winning goal for not only the semi final game, but the National Championship game. Topping it off, little sis was named MVP. It is crazy to think she will be graduating in just over 2 months; I’m not sure I’m ready to feel that old.

UMD Women's Hockey ACHA National Champions 2016

As is usually the case, a crazy weekend with little quality sleep (and way too much junk food)  was followed by an equally crazy week. This was the kind of week that exemplifies the difference between working and being a grad student and life as an undergrad. Having a crazy, exhausting weekend as an undergrad can be rectified by a nap after your classes on Monday. In the real world however, the day doesn’t end at noon and there are no afternoon naps. This week was packed full of to dos with tight deadlines, the need for my creativity to be flowing at full power, and meeting after meeting after meeting. It was long, and there was sleep deprivation involved, but it was a very successful week. I slacked a bit on keeping up the blog, but my professional projects thrived. Our new company website launched, I signed a client to a new project, and found a few new potential leads. On the school side, I was not quite as productive, unless you count submitting my FAFSA. I did some studying on Friday and felt good with the content, even the part that I hadn’t looked at in over a week. The midterm is next Saturday for my accounting class. I’ve printed out the formula sheet and the practice problems and I have several hours on a plane this week as I head out to Las Vegas for the Adobe Summit. While I am not thrilled with the amount of effort I have put into this class, I do feel confident in my ability to do well on this midterm. If this was any other class though, I think I would be in trouble. Moving forward I need to be a little stricter with my study schedule, if for no other reason than my sanity. Even for a class that I am comfortable in, I hate the feeling of being behind, it kick starts my worry bug. I know my class coming up in May will require a lot of reading and writing which means there will be no slacking off. I am however, looking forward to that class. I have heard good things and I think it is more of the type of class I was looking forward to in pursuing my MBA.

Finally, for my Sunday Shenanigans, in addition to scrambling around making sure my house is cleaned and I am packed for traveling for 3 days, I decided to make homemade granola (hence the featured image for this post). After the first round I have to say, it was really easy and totally delicious. Greek yogurt and granola has become my new favorite breakfast recently, which would seem strange to anyone who has known me for a while since I used to dislike both of those things (I have a thing with textures). I am not sure what caused the switch, or my sudden lack of aversion to nuts, but I am not complaining. The one downfall of this healthy and tasty meal is the fact that most granolas, and in fact a lot of yogurt, has a very large amount of sugar in it. I am generally pretty good about avoiding extra salt, bad fats, and most processed foods, but my downfall tends to be sugar. Not because I am chowing down on candy, though I do love my Dove Dark Chocolate Promise after a run, but because of things like salad dressings, fruits, which is natural sugar but still requires moderathomemade honey vanilla granolaion, and apparently granola. So, to keep up my breakfast routine without adding the extra sugar, I turned to Pinterest for homemade recipes. Check out my Rise and Shine Breakfast board for all the recipes I found, there are some good ones. The one I decided to try out first was Honey Vanilla from Southern In Law. I may end up making some tweaks as I continue to make granola, but this was pretty darn good with honey as the only sugar. I used regular rolled oats instead of gluten free but I did take her tip to use the egg white to help form clusters. If you make this recipe, let me know how it turns out!

So now that I have caught up on the blog, made a healthy snack for the plane tomorrow, and gotten the appropriate amount of rest, I think it is time to get my butt in gear for a workout and packing! I’ll be tweeting from the Adobe Conference in Las Vegas this week, so be sure to follow along and check back here for my highlights and adventures.

 

Best,

Katherine

 

Sunday Highlights:

Sleep: 8 Hours

Work: 2 Hours (packing and work prep)

Study: Probably not

Workout: Run and booty day with POP Pilates

 

Sunday Shenanigans 2/28/16

Happy Sunday and Happy National Pancake Day! If you haven’t already I hope you are planning on enjoying a flap jack or two. I personally went out to breakfast this morning solely to have pancakes. I had actually been craving them for a couple weeks but had not indulged. This weekend has been full of tasty indulgences (pizza, cupcakes, pop) which is not my normal style, but sometimes you just have to live a little. If you’re going to attend a 6th birthday party you should at least try one of the cupcakes that made up the Teenage Mutant Turtle Cake. It was delicious by the way.

While this weekend has been fairly jammed packed with activities and all I would really like to do is lounge today, I am not that fortunate. Today’s to do list includes: finishing my taxes, completing my FAFSA for financial aid, cleaning the house, going for a run (it’s supposed to be 60 today!), and study for accounting. None of these are as enjoyable as a nap, but all of them need to get done. Maybe I can squeeze in a quick lounge session before my dad gets here to help with taxes…maybe not.

I have to say, every time I fill out the FAFSA I feel like a little piece of my soul dies. Not only do I have to rehash my tax info, which is a pain, but I am also willingly putting myself in debt. I have plans on how I am paying it back, and it is not more than I can handle, but I still hate the feeling of having students loans hanging over me. It only adds to the stress of being back in school. I almost waited on pursuing my MBA because of my hesitancy to take on student loans, but I knew if I waited too long it would be tough to go back as my responsibilities in life continue to increase.  It is a hard choice though, and my advice to anyone who is considering school and taking out loans is to make sure you have a plan; make sure that you are not biting off more than you can chew or putting yourself in a position that could hurt you in the long run. Education is great, and I can see where my MBA will help me in my career already, but it is also a huge commitment and one that should not be taken on without careful consideration.

 

Sunday Highlights

National Pancake Day! Pancake breakfast as Nello’s

Sleep: 8 Hours

Work: 1 Hour

Study/School Probably about 2 Hours plus however long FAFSA takes me

Workout: POP Pilates Booty this morning, run later this afternoon

Taxes: Ugh…