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Our rings are all so different and perfect for each of us!
What are the odds that both of my siblings and I are engaged!?! The best part is, I know we've all found real keepers :D It's strange how life works, but I couldn't be happier for my big brother and sister and their new fiances! I am so excited that my family is growing so big all at once. Colin and I will be the last to get married, which will definitely help in our own wedding planning and give us some time to figure out where we're headed. There are so many unknowns ahead - graduation is rapidly approaching and I'm anxiously awaiting news from UConn while starting to apply for jobs and internships. Colin is loving his job in Massachusetts, so the plan is northeast!  All I know is that it is an exciting time for all of us and knowing there are such bright things ahead is a good feeling to have <3 
 
 
Glad to say my winter break was filled with family and fun. It started out by traveling back home to NY and spending a little over a week enjoying lots of snow. I'm really happy Leticia and Justin came up for Christmas so Colin was finally able to meet them both! It was also just really nice hanging out as a family. I received some really nice gifts from everyone including some snazzy clothes for interviews and Western NY's finest candy - sponge candy and ribbon candy! We also convinced my mom to get not one, but two little kittens for Christmas to keep her company when we're not there to visit. It was a bad idea to wear my new sweaters around, but boy are they adorable! JC, the orange one, and Quinn, the black one, have very different personalities and they definitely made me excited for when Colin and I can have our own cats! 

After Christmas was over, Colin and I ventured over to Tennessee to visit Oma and Opa and the rest of the Spillane family. The 4 days we were there consisted of a lot of cribbage playing, movie watching, and 4-wheeling out in the woods. When New Year's Eve rolled around, JB, Colin, Allison, and I headed to St. Louis to have a mini-reunion with their old classmates and to enjoy a night out at the Hyatt. They had a dinner, open bar, and 4 live bands playing throughout the night - I felt like I was at a prom made for 21-65 year olds...and it was awesome! 

The rest of my vacation was spent back home working on my thesis, watching Law & Order with my mom, and visiting as many friends as possible! I managed to squeeze in a sleep over and a night out with my A-team bowling teammates :) 

 My biggest relief was submitting my graduate application for the University of Connecticut. I'm now filled with excitement about what my future holds and am hoping to hear back from them real soon! If I make it past the first stage I'll be headed up North for interviews at all of the hospitals involved in the program. 

Oh yeah, and I also let Colin cut a lot of my hair off on Christmas Eve.... it was the longest hair cut of my life and I was pretty glad I was seeing my hair stylist the next week, but hey, it was like a dream come true for him! (because for real, who let's their boyfriend/fiance cut their hair ever?)

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So excited my application is sent in!! Hopefully this time next year I'll be a clinical engineering intern!
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Celebrating 2013 at the Hyatt in St. Louis!
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Yeah... I let Colin cut my hair!
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Second family pic down in Tennessee! Love them
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Spending the day at Corning - their glass tree was beautiful!
 
 
Kupikia Tanzania!To Cook for Tanzania 
On sale now at: www.kupikiatanzania.com 

FYI to pronounce the title it is: "ku-pee-key-uh"


... it turns out making a book requires a lot of effort. I wasn't going to spend time on something I would be fine with throwing away in a few years; that is a challenge within itself. I also wanted people who decided to support the cause to not only be happy about who they're helping, but to have something they enjoy in return (and possibly even learn a thing or two!). So, I made this book full of pictures (I think just over 130!) and spent a lot of time formatting each and every page to get it to where it is today. Not to mention the amount of help I've had on this. My roommate, Aubrey, has tried almost every recipe in this book with me this semester and helped me edit all of the recipes! She is constantly baking cookies and delicious treats for our class so her recipe reading definitely helped make mine more "cookbook like." And then Colin helped me while in Tanzania, making the whole cooking process faster by taking pictures and writing down all the things we were chopping up, adding, simmering, or frying. He also happens to be an excellent marketer :) I think half the books sold so far were thanks to him! And then everyone who helped me edit the pages when Aubrey and I couldn't stare at the recipes any longer! 

Most of my updates on the book will just be posted on the website for the cookbook so it all stays in one place. Now, I'm busy trying to decide my next move with who to outreach to and what kind of big event I should have to raise a large amount of money in one sitting. I'm thinking about contacting dining services at Tulane to do a Tanzanian dinner night in Buff - the only all you can eat place on campus.

It was so exciting when everyone was getting their first round of books and I can't wait for people to start trying some dishes!
Online alone 175 books and 17 pdfs have been purchased and I'm slowly getting more and more donations - approaching the $3000 mark pretty soon!
Stay tuned at www.kupikiatanzania.com :)
 

Wedding Madness!

12/15/2012

 
Somehow Colin and I managed to attend three beautiful weddings this semester.... It just so happened that the Leduc sisters and a good friend from high school were all getting married this fall! So glad we could be there for each couple's special day!! 

Mr. and Mrs. Griffiths- 9/22/12

The first wedding I've attended in forever! Katie and Garrett's wedding was just too amazing! A beautiful ceremony, a ridiculous reception view, and of course some wild dancing made for a ridiculously fun day :)

Mr. and Mrs. Emmick - 10/13/12

Coming home at the best time of year to visit old friends and celebrate? Don't mind if I do. So glad I could be there for my very first wedding of my high school friends - my fearless defender back in our soccer playing days! Starting to feel old... but nonetheless Dannyel's wedding was wonderful and all the fall themed things made me happy to be home :D

Mr. and Mrs. Meyer - 12/8/12

Ostrich feathers and partying in a Vanderbilt mansion.. it's safe to say celebrating Sean and Meagan's wedding was pretty awesome! With some extra heaters, the mansion was quite cozy and the live band they had was absolutely phenomenal. Glad the rain held off for the beautiful couple - they certainly had a special day!
So happy each couple had tons of love surrounding them - I wish them all the best and am so glad I was able to celebrate with my future husband and in-laws :) Also, it's pretty nice Jamie Spillane takes such great photos, many of these are his!
 
 
I was able to go to two national conferences this year in Lexington, Kentucky and Houston, Texas.

 First was Tau Beta Pi, and it was certainly a learning experience. There was a small job fair, a few training sessions, and then the biggest part was "the business meetings." I was placed on the finance committee to renew reimbursement forms which was certainly interesting. All committees had to present their work in front of the entire floor and by a process of Robert's Rules of Order, the new ideas or amendments  were passed based on voting. 

The second was for SWE or Society of Women Engineers which we drove to Texas for. It was right before elections and there happened to be a gun show right next to our convention center so that was quite the encounter (see picture below). SWE definitely knows how to throw a conference though. They had tons of informational sessions to go to and the biggest job fair I've been to yet. I was glad to learn that there's quite a few large companies in the Connecticut/Massachusetts area for biomedical engineering! And I didn't expect it (I should have), but while taking a break Aubrey and I saw one of our fellow EWH participants walk outside so we had fun catching up with Christine!! Our Tulane crew also learned that Houston drivers are the craziest... 
 
 
... I apparently haven't felt like writing my blog posts this semester, so I'm going to share this semester's happenings in pictures with a few short paragraphs! To sum it all up, I've been busy, busy, busy (as usual, but even more extreme!). This semester proved to break all records for leaving campus on the weekend, but I'll share things I did on campus so far :D

So first, there's class of course. My schedule this semester consists of Elements of Design, Research and Professional Practice, Team Design, Bones Bodies and Disease, and Urban Geography: New Orleans Case Study. I decided I was only going to take electives that have excellent reviews and it has certainly made the semester more enjoyable! The Bones class is taught my Dr. Verano who is basically a world renowned anthropologist with his skeleton studies. Now, if I ever so desire, I can do some diagnosing on skeletons - dental disease, trauma, osteoarthritis, dwarfism.. you name it! Urban Geography is taught by Dr. Campanella, who is also a very well known geographer that I think probably knows more about New Orleans than 99.9% of the population. I've learned so much about the city's history and have gone on two field trips touring New Orleans itself and up the river. It's not very often that we think about how our street patterns came to be and how there's such a drastic racial distribution in cities. The class  has made me realize how important history is when looking at our day to day life, i just wish in school we concentrated more on history that REALLY impacts our daily lives. Of course the history we learn is important, but I never even thought about why or how cities became the hub of more crime and primarily black populations.  My elements class is on the nuts and bolts of mechanical engineering - literally! And with team design I actually got to choose my project since I found one I really liked from Engineering World Health. I'm working in a group of 5 with Aubrey, Jordan, Joe, and Claire on a mission to solve one of the "pressing issues" EWH has identified. We're creating a prototype for a oxygen concentrator sensor since many concentrators in developing countries don't have indicators if they're working anymore or not. Without knowing if the concentrator is outputting 95% oxygen, patients receiving oxygen therapy don't benefit from the extra air and this can cause detrimental effects. Since this was a big problem I saw in Mt. Meru hospital, I really wanted to work on it! So far, we've identified two potential solutions to the problem and will be prototyping and testing all next semester once we order everything.
With some hard work, we finally have our Tau Beta Pi chapter running a bit more smoothly with actual events! We held a little social for eligible members at our advisor, Dr. Walker's house, volunteered at Rock n' Bowl for STEM education, hosted a Engineering futures session, and just had initiation of 11 new members! TBP is really a great honor society to be involved with (and qualified for!), something I'll actually value after graduation. 

DONNA COMES TO VISIT FOR THE BIG 55!!!!

So glad Donna Mama could come visit me for her birthday! Besides having to deal with classes while she was visiting, we managed to pack in a lot of fun! She finally got to meet my favorite drag queen, Blanche, at my favorite campus event of course... Bingo!  We also fed the ducks in Audubon, went out to eat twice for her birthday, and ended the week with volunteering at Boo at the Zoo with Women in Science. Linda also came to have some fun with us and we were glad to have her visiting and hanging out with my mom while I had lab work. 
 
 
School is back to the usual, but for many people, especially those is LaPlace parish, life took a drastic turn when the storm hit. Even today, they are still suffering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Isaac. Aubrey, Zerick, and I spent last Sunday cleaning out an older lady's home who had never seen flooding in the 30 years she had lived there. During the storm she had evacuated to her daughter's house about 5 minutes away, where they were later rescued by a team once the area became completely flooded. The new levees were a hot topic because their homes aren't covered by the new system, and that water had to go somewhere. She had TONS of things in her house, so while we were there we were continuously dragging bag after bag out of her home. One room still had about 4 inches of water in it, stagnant, warm water that had been sitting there for almost two weeks. Two of her grandchildren were there to help, but were so thankful that we were able to clean out their rooms. The grandson was crying in the back yard as we emptied his room that had been recently redone and contained most of his possessions. I had never experienced a real flood before, it was bad enough when my basement flooded growing up, so this was a big eye-opener. I'm glad that even though we were there just a few hours, the 30 of us probably spared these local families over 100 hours of endless lifting and emptying.  (Shout out to Meghan Stanger for making this volunteering event happen- she did a great job coordinating it all!)

News story on LaPlace... we're in the background in a few clips! http://www.wwltv.com/news/local/st-john/Beacon-of-Hope-volunteers-set-up-in-LaPlace-169183366.html 

Aubrey and I thought we had it bad when we arrived back on the 3rd, but it definitely didn't compare to LaPlace.  Our kitchen smelled like a port-o-potty, but all we had to do was clean out our somewhat inaccessible drip pan with a bit of engineering thinking (or so we think anyways :p). We think we have it under control now... after a little creativity with bleach and vinegar!
 

Hurrication

08/29/2012

 

I think this explains my current situation pretty well right now... 

On Sunday I was woken up from a nap by my friend, Yoni, saying, "Do you have an evacuation plan? I'm probably heading out tonight!" Hence the freaking out began. There I was, all moved in and getting excited for the return of my roomie, Aubs, and officially hear that this storm wasn't going to be taken lightly. After many frantic texts and phone calls, Colin decided that my Christmas present this year would be to come see him and wait out the storm. Luckily, flights are always a bit cheaper to the NYC airports and they added more last minute flights, so I was able to get a one-way pretty quick! I had no idea when to return so I didn't book my flight back right then.

 In the mean time, I had an event to go to for the annual "Newcomb Big/Little Sister Pinning Ceremony." It's always a bit hectic, but this year I decided to volunteer as a check in person for a big group of big/little pairs. It was the first day back for freshmen, so they were stressed and excited as it is. Add in a hurricane and a bunch of big sisters having to cancel to prep their houses off campus for high winds and you get ... a lot of little sisters paired with one big sister. It could have gone better, since I didn't really get to chat with my real little sister much, but they managed to pull it off quite well for the circumstances! 

 Packing was a guessing game as I also tried packing up anything on the ground and all of our electronics from midnight to 3 am (when I left for the airport!). I'm really hoping our apartment doesn't have any major damage. It was silly thinking we wouldn't have to worry about hurricane problems since our past three years went by with no signs of major flooding or high winds, but the weather is always there to reconfirm how little power we have in determining what's going to happen in life! And it's times like these when I think of the kids I used to teach in the upper ninth ward, the families with no cars, small, ground level homes, and little money to live off of, let alone to spend on evacuation for a week! I think Tulane is doing a really good job sheltering students and making sure everyone has anything and everything they need, I just hope the same goes for the majority of New Orleans and everywhere else that's been hit. 

I received a notification on my phone today saying classes are officially cancelled along with all activities on campus for Thursday- Saturday. Classes and everything else will resume Tuesday. One week late is much better than the alternative the Katrina classes had to face 7 years ago to the day, making me even that much more thankful for the week off and knowing that this storm hasn't been as disastrous as it could have been! (but it's not over quite yet, so I'm crossing my fingers!)

and here I am on the Long Island Sound... the waves aren't so big up here! 
So thankful for my fiance and early Christmas present! 

 

Home, sweet home

08/25/2012

 
I've decided I'm getting pretty good at making the most of my time in any place these days! 

I'm so glad I was able to visit with my best girl friends from high school while I was home for about a week. First, Janel got to witness my chipsi mayai cooking practice in the US, which turned out pretty well! I hope all of my friends will eventually enjoy some type of Tanzanian dish out of my cookbook! Along with a terrible movie night featuring "hollow face," Erin hosted a wine night/engagement party where we had eggplant parmesan and each of us brought a bottle to share. I am always happy to get caught up with how everyone is doing and learn about any new things happening in their lives that I usually miss due to being gone all the time. Miss and love you girls! 

It's also become a tradition to try and squeeze in a round of bowling with my A-team bowlers :D Yes- we do have our own shoes and ball, for the 100th time, and you can laugh all you want. It won't change the fact that we can kick your butt on the lanes any day (my attempt at bowling team pride). :) Hoping to get more of my bowling team out next time I'm home for a little reunion!
My mom also had the great idea to go to the Corning Museum of Glass. On her day off, we spent the day at the museum and loved it! There was so much to see and after being there the entire day, we definitely could have spent a few hours wandering around. Half way through our visit, Colin's dad told me that his great great grandfather had donated German enameled glass so we went on a hunt to find it! Turns out, there was a lot of it- not the prettiest of glass, but certainly neat stuff! We also did some sand-blasting to customize our own glass. I chose a bowl for cereal and Donna chose a jar.
 

Leaving once again

08/12/2012

 
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Jess, Colin, me, Reuben, Jodie, and Daniel - the whole TZ Global Cycle Solutions team minus the sales reps!
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Our last day was spent packing furiously, saying goodbyes, and visiting the Nane Nane grounds. GCS set up their main station at Reuben's house, and it proved to be a pretty nice spot to be- full of commotion and other vendors. Mama Glory ended up meeting up with us for lunch so it was a wonderful last minute goodbye! She gave Colin and I key chains so we can remember her in all our travels, which was really sweet of her!  Besides the goodbyes, we picked up last minute gifts for friends and family back home because Nane Nane is just like the county fairs at home! Tons and tons of agricultural products, nonsense blow up toys and stuffed animals, and anything else you can really imagine! 

On a scary side note......

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When I was doing my final packing for Tanzania, I decided I'd bring along some fruit for the long plane rides. Well, it turns out, I wasn't in the mood for eating an apple. It arrived right along with me and ended up sitting in my room after I unpacked everything. After about a week, it hadn't begun rotting in any way so I decided to make an experiment out of it. How long could this apple last without getting smushy or gross? Turns out, all 10 weeks. Should I be concerned that this apple not only hadn't browned in any way, but also showed no signs of aging- no soft spots, completely firm, and was still shiny? Not to mention I had bought the apples about a week and a half before I even left for Tanzania. I've had apples turn bad on me in the fridge after about a week and a half, and here this apple sits, perfect as can be after sitting in a cupboard for over 2 months. I just couldn't believe it!  I am planning to test this state side once I get everything settled in at my apartment :p