Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas, Grogan-Style

It's that time of the year - Christmas time.  No two families celebrate the holidays the same way, and my family is no different.  We change our strategy per year depending on people's schedules.  It is never a surprise the decorations don't really start going up until I come home because I have the most flexibility around the holiday.  I'm also glad because as much as I complain about decorating, I love doing it!  I'm not too good at it (you can tell by my wrapping) but put on some Christmas tunes and I'll do it all!

This year I got home and my dad surprised me by asking if I wanted to go to a Christmas tree farm and chop down a tree.  I surprised him by saying yes.  He wouldn't let me live it down the entire Saturday.  We, of course, went tree hunting on the brink of a snow storm.  It is normal for us to pick the worst day to do outdoor decorating around the holidays.  It was just my dad and I who went out and we have now been banned from being alone to pick out our Christmas tree.  Take a look:
Getting ready to chop down the tree (no I didn't use the saw, my dad did)
The suburban comes in handy, our tree fit right inside!
It took two of the tree workers and my dad to put it through the netting.  We should have know something was going to be wrong at that point...

The guys carrying in our Christmas tree
Upright, it just fits.
(Don't mind the hand my brother just did the tightening of the stand)
It finally clicked something may be off when we realized we needed to buy a new stand because the trunk was too fat for the stand.

Yep, our tree just fits in the living room
Our tree just barely fit in the living room.  We had to move some furniture around so it would fit and people could still sit and enjoy the tree.  You just can't sit on opposite sides of the room because you won't see each other!!

I put 12 strands of lights up.  There are now 11 strands because one strand completely blew and I had to rework the strands after the ornaments were up so the lights would still come on.  Anyway here is the completed tree:

My aunt sent us a mini tree which we decorated and put up next to the big tree.  Now you can enjoy either a small tree or a large tree, depending on your preference.
The mini tree decorated, lights and all!
Take your pick:  large or small?
We also decorated the outside of our house right after a snow storm.  My dad braved the weather to hang the wreaths up on the front of the house.  I decorated the railings to look like candy canes and we put a big red bow up on our front tree.

We're getting there to being prepared for Christmas day, but never the less a disaster may occur.  Last year I ruined a pie pan, cookie sheet, and ice cream scoop before Christmas.  Cross my fingers that doesn't happen again.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A look back on an amazing semester!

A lot has happened and I can't believe the semester is over.  I only have one more semester left at St. Mike's before I start a completely new chapter in my life.  I have to say, no matter how stressed this semester was, how annoyed I got at things, or how fed up I was with college at points, I'm so glad I made it through because a lot of positives happened which definitely out weighed the bad.  Here's a look back on all the amazing things (and maybe not so amazing things):

  • I was reunited with my two besties at St. Mike's!  We hadn't seen each other since December 2012 when we split up for the holidays till we saw each other during move-in.  Katie and I both went abroad for the Spring.

  •  I got to be part of an AMAZING VITA team this year to help plan some AWESOME campus ministry events.

  •  Went on small hike/adventure with some friends before classes began.  Lake Champlain was beautiful!

  •  I broke so many kitchen utensils and began to learn the art of cooking.  I am thankful for my roommates through all of this because we were occasionally without something until I went shopping.  And for taking me to the ER when I sliced my finger for stitches (don't worry I'm alright, it was an accident and it only happened once!).

  •  My brother came to visit for the first time since I started St. Mike's.

  •  I got to go to a wedding for my AMAZING Family and Faith's son and new daughter.

  •  I got to play in a corn maze.

  •  Got to visit the Proctor Maple Center Weather Station during prime leaf peeping season.

  •  I dressed up as a mouse and Alex dressed up as a cat.  And then this happened:

(it was Halloween)
  • Put on a successful performance with Celtic Knights.  These girls and guy worked so hard for me and I appreciate them for all their hard work!

  • My brother graduated from McGill University with a degree in Mining Engineering.  So proud of his successes!!

  •  We baked over 70 pies to raise money to help out a family that is a huge part of the St. Mike's family.

  •  Got to meet Loni Love (and look good while doing so).

  • I dressed up as Santa and my best friend dressed as an elf for a Christmas party!

  •  I got to play in a river for one of my lab assignments!

Fall semester of 2013 is finally done and I'm thankful for all that it brought.  It gave me so many memories that I'm grateful for.  It is bitter sweet for it to end but I'm ready for Spring of 2014 - it is going to be a roller coaster of a ride!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

River Lab Science Experience

Friday marked the last day of classes for the semester.  It is a bitter-sweet moment since it means I only have one more semester at St. Michael's College and that makes me sad.  However, I am excited to go home for the holidays at the end of the week!

My very last class of the semester was my lab science.  I choose Physical Geography as my lab science because it was something different from what I have taken.  I've enjoyed this course a lot, especially the hands-on lab assignments.  And Friday's lab was definitely hands-on.

We went out to a branch of the Winooski River, about 15 minutes from campus, to learn about water movement.  Part of the assignment was to determine the speed of the current.  I can't tell you the exact speed because I was in the water conducting the tests!  Everyone on shore was measuring the time.  After class, I grabbed the data from my friend but I haven't had a chance to calculate and study the data myself.  I should have the answers for that day shortly.

Rubber Ducky Launching
I enjoyed playing in the river and it wasn't too cold.  We also talked about the type of landscape and which rocks were probably shaped by the river and which probably had been carried.  Also, we determined what type of glacier passed through based on the U-shaped look to the slopes surrounding the area.  Because the glacier can't follow all the twists and turns of a normal stream, it eventually erodes away the bends forming the U-shaped look. 

I love the hands-on experiences in the lab because I definitely gained a lot more understanding for this concept.

My class
The brave river experimenters!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Celtic Knights at the International Festival

This year marked my third year performing in the International Festival with Celtic Knights.  However, this year marked the first performance I put together for Celtic Knights.  I was excited to take on Celtic Knights as president this year but as the performance drew closer and closer, I became more and more nervous.  I never had to put together a whole performance together on my own and I was so worried something was going to go wrong!

I schedule extra practices as the festival got closer so everyone was more comfortable with the dances.  I also double checked time and costume materials so I wasn't missing anything.  I was getting pretty confident and everything was falling into place.  The night of the performance came around and we were all excited.  I introduced the group and the dances as they came up.  I even came up with a cool fun fact for the audience:

Irish Dance Masters used to travel around Ireland performing for people.  
There wasn't a lot of room for them to perform so they danced on top of 
barrels and table tops.  Arms at the side added a skill level.

All in all we performed well.  I'm proud of my dancers and all the hard work they put in.  It really paid off!  Check it out:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Long Weekend Adventures

This past weekend marked the long weekend up at St. Mike's.  I didn't make it home but I had lots of plans going on in the Burlington area which kept me plenty busy (besides the school work I had to do!).  Anyways here is what I did:

Saturday was the annual VT Tech Jam.  The Tech Jam is an awesome event to go to and learn about what local companies are doing in the area.  It is also a great place to network if you're a computer science major.  I attended the past two years with the intent on an internship but this year I was looking at a full-time job come graduation in May.  (pause to scream)  I got some good pointers from people on how to go about looking for a job and getting my name out there along with handing out a few resumes for possible jobs.  We'll see what happens.

Sunday was a fun because I got to hang out with my family in faith!  I've mentioned them a few times before and they are AWESOME people.  I attended a wedding recently where their son got married and it was beautiful.  This weekend I got to hang out with Carol and Kaitlin for some Halloween fun.  One of Carol's friends is an arts and crafts person and she was hosting a party for some kids with edible arts and crafts.  My intention was to only help out if needed but otherwise to stay out of the way with my luck in the kitchen.  However, the first task was making mummy Oreo's and my task became painting them white at one point.  I'll say I made a bigger mess then the kids did.
Attempting to decorate (notice the frosting covered hands)
The finished product, they didn't turn out too bad.
 Anyways after this task I was given a reprieve and just took pictures of the kids decorating cupcakes and pretzels which was a bit safer for me.
Me and Kaitlin
The Gang
Kaitlin, Carol, Maria, Patti, Me, and Kristyn
Monday was a pretty uneventful day.  I dedicated this to work and cooking.  I had some school work to catch up on and get ahead on.  I will say I was pretty successful in that department.  I also attempted some cooking and was actually very successful.  I made Apple Fennel Stuffing, Broccoli, and Chicken all thanks to Betty Crocker.  I followed the directions and didn't ruin any dishes or fingers during this process.
The Meal
Keeping in classy with milk at the coffee table
Tuesday, the last day of break.  The morning was basically errands in Burlington I needed to accomplish that I didn't get to on Saturday.  I was successful in most but still have stragglers that I need to get to this weekend...hopefully!  I also patiently awaited arrival of some friends to come back and studied hard for a midterm I had this morning.

All in all it was a good break and I should plan more fun weekends in the near future because it sure made school more tolerable.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Enjoying Fall

One of my favorite things about living in Vermont is the Fall.  I love when the trees are shades of reds, yellows, oranges, and browns.  I think it is one of the prettiest things nature does.  Watching the changing colors, apple cider, and pumpkin make it enjoyable.

I'm taking a Physical Geography class this semester to fulfill one of my required courses.  I originally took it because it was something different from what I ever done in the past; however, I am enjoying the course a lot more than I thought I would.  For the first third of the semester we spent it talking about weather and the changes which happen seasonally.  Our lab on Friday was a field trip to the Proctor Maple Center Weather Station.  It was a beautiful Fall day with a little rain.

It was pretty cool to see all the weather equipment in action due to the light rain.  A handful of the equipment was used to track rainfall and sediments in the rain so they clicked on while we were there.  It was a good afternoon.

Yesterday, I went to my very first corn maze.  It was a VITA run trip and you can check out my friend, Alex's blog to hear her take on it all!  I enjoyed the afternoon once I found the place.  I had driven one of the St. Mike's Vans and ended up getting lost, badly.  But I found it with the help of my passengers!  Anyways we got to the corn maze and had a blast!  It was another perfect day and quite warm as well so we didn't need a jacket.

There was also a small harvest carnival at the farm as well so we spent some time there.  There was some delicious ice cream, apple cider, and cider doughnuts as well.  It was a great weekend for experiences.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It is a learning process

Everyone says you learn from your mistakes but sometimes I wonder how many mistakes I can make in the kitchen before I get it right and don't have to put a cooking utensil on my shopping list.  I've talked about my cooking blunders before and I still keep making them.

I'm living in a townhouse this year and I'm cooking basically all my meals on my own. I've done a few microwavable dishes for the nights I'm running around crazy but I've also done a little experimenting.  Some things which I've made successfully are cheese burgers, macaroni and cheese, chicken, and ice cream sundaes.  However when you leave me in the kitchen too long I do things such as break a corkscrew, disfigure an ice cream scooper, and melt my Rubbermaid to the stove top.

My roommates have started decorating a wall with pictures and descriptions called "What Not to Do in a Townhouse:  Experiences by Maura."  They've expended it from beyond the kitchen when they realized I'm learning elsewhere in life.  Some other instances on the wall are getting hit in the face with a bag of chips and having tie-dye explode on me.

They say college is a place for learning in and outside of the classroom.  I have to say in my 3 full years and the start of this fourth, I definitely am learning a lot and I'm having fun in the process.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Senior Year

I hate to say I'm a Senior at St. Mike's.  However, my friends and I are attempting to make it the best year here.  I'm living in a townhouse this year which is SUPER sweet!  I'm cooking for myself (or at least attempting to).  I've taken on a bunch of different responsibilities in addition to the ones I have; such as President of Celtic Knights, Coordinating Masses, running Taize, tutoring, and just having fun.  One thing I luck out on is not having a thesis to work on so I do have a bit more flexibility as a Senior.  However, I have to make sure I stay on top of my projects (group and individual) and start to think about career opportunities.  But I'm going to make it through!!

One of my favorite things this year has been the quote wall in our townhouse.  I got the idea from one of the Campus Ministers and it has been a lot of fun to do.  We already have half a wall covered with quotes. There are a few rules to the quotes that go on:

  1. They have to be said in the townhouse or in a townhouse setting.
  2. They can be something stupid or something that just doesn't make sense.
  3. Anyone who enters the townhouse can be put on the wall (so watch what you say if you visit!)
  4. You can't catch yourself.
It has been a lot of fun catching people saying stuff.  I also stop by it if I need a laugh during the day.  Here are a few of the quotes that made it (I've blacked out the names to respect privacy):

Hopefully these give you a laugh because I know they did for me!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Crazy Summer

Hey all!  It's been awhile but I've been super crazy at work!  I'm back working at a Residential Summer Camp so most of my time has me focusing on my campers.  I'm still working on a short video montage of my trip abroad but I probably won't finish it until August by the looks of my work schedule.  Until then here are some tips about how to make the most of summer:

1.  Travel.  Go somewhere.  See family.  Don't waste these holidays by sitting at home.  You'll miss out on a world of AWE and you won't be missing classes.

2.  See friends.  It is the perfect time to hang out with friends without the worry of stress.  You can just laze around or plan an exciting day and not worry about that huge paper hanging over your head.

3.  Read for fun.  It is the perfect time for this.  Reading during the school year is hit or miss.  During the summer you can pick up that book you've been dying to read and not all of a sudden be hit with a book you have to finish by Friday.

4.  Do something you love.  I love being crazy when I can.  I'm spending this summer wearing mouse ears at camp and dressing up as Sacajawea on the odd occasion.  Just get out there and do something you love to do!
5. Get a job.  Some people like lounging on the beach or by a pool all summer but this is the easiest time to earn some extra cash especially if you're a busy college student.  It doesn't have to be a full time job but at least something that gives you fun money during the semester.

Until next time...

Sunday, June 30, 2013

One Last London Adventure

Right before heading home, Adrianna and I took our last train out to London.  We were both flying out Heathrow airport on the same day about 15 minutes apart so we decided to travel together.  We figured going out the day before our flight would be the safest bet just encase trains got delayed or we missed our connection.  We also figured it wouldn't be too bad since the place we were staying at was right near a local train stop.  However, we were far from being correct...

We got into Euston station just fine but had to make our way over to Paddington Station for the local trains.  You would think these being two major train stations there would be lifts and such to help people, right?  Well we couldn't find the lift in Euston and then later learned it was across a highway where we had to walk a distance to cross.  Then there wasn't a lift up at Paddington from the tube (or subway) but there was thankfully one down to the train.  When we got to the station near our hotel, there again wasn't a lift.  Thankfully we met some very nice people who helped us out with going up and down the stairs.  The joke, "You should learn to pack lighter" got old very fast.  We were carrying 5 1/2 months worth of stuff!!

After we checked into the hotel Adrianna and I then headed back into the city to see Wicked.  Adrianna got us 6th row seats for only about $30 because they claimed to be an obstructed view.  We really didn't miss anything.  I've seen it on Broadway and it was interesting to compare the two different styles.  I can't say which I preferred better because they were both so good!

The next day brought our sad departure from Heathrow.  However, I do have some exciting news!  My dad pre-booked my seat for me so I wouldn't be stuck in a middle seat in coach the hole way home.  When I handed the woman my boarding card it beeped and showed I had been upgraded to business class!  It was very exciting!  I had an asile seat in a two seater so it wasn't a bad ride all the way home at all!  I thanked my dad as soon as I got off the plane because without him I probably would have been stuck in coach!

One last post to come on my trip!  Look for it soon!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Goodbye Wales

During my last few weeks in Wales, I tried to spend as much time as I could outside.  I took in everything one last time and found some places I hadn't before.  Adrianna and I took a few walks along the different roads because we knew we would miss it as soon as we stepped on that plane.  We kept telling ourselves and each other we were ready to go home and see our families but we knew after a short time we would wish we were back there.  Here are some pictures from our last few walks around our home in another land:

It is sad to say goodbye but the memories will last me a life time...

A few more posts left from my adventures so don't think it's over yet!