Monday, June 3, 2013

Welllllllll Hello there!!

I used to be such a good little blogger. I also used to be good at keeping track of our budget. Now I go months in between blogging and almost never have the time to record our expenses. Such is the life of a grad student right?

If you want pictures of my life, follow me on instagram! @naomster26 Its a good time.

Other than that, here's the low down.

I picked a lab! I'm working for Roy Wollman examining spatio-temporal hydrogen peroxide signaling in response to wound. In the back of my mind I always wanted to do something with cell signaling. I was thinking more along the lines of working directly with proteins, but I'm really enjoying what I'm doing. Plus I get to do fluorescence microscopy which is pretty darn awesome. Find proof HERE .

Bret and I celebrated 4 years of marriage. Time flies!! We didn't celebrate our anniversary on our anniversary (although Bret did send my a corny e-mail the day of our marriage. Oh that boy. He really knows how to get my going), but we did go out for dinner about a month later. On our first date Bret took me to Souper Salad (he was REALLY poor), so we decided to go to Soup Plantation for our anniversary. Soup Plantation is pretty much like Sweet Tomatoes, which is about 1000 times better that Souper Salad for the same price. Of course, if you want the BEST salad bar, Whole Foods is your answer. Just make sure you're ready to part with some cash.

I survived my first triathlon! Reed, Emily, and my Dad also ran it with me. We swam 750 m in Mission Bay, biked 20K around Fiesta Island, and finished up with a 5K along the board walk. Overall,the race was beautiful and REALLY well run. There were some seriously hardcore people there. I felt kind of silly because I was definitely NOT geared up like everybody else there. But it was a lot of fun (despite feeling like I was going to die after the swim and having bricks for legs the first 2 miles of the run. Seriously, I felt like I was running a 20 minutes mile the first couple of miles!

A week after the Tri Erika and I did the La Jolla half marathon. Maybe I'm a little crazy? Who knows. The bursitis in my hip was acting up so I was pretty nervous I was going to be in pain the entire time. Plus, we had to climb the GIANT hill at Torrey Pines. I ended up finishing in about 1:52 which I was pretty happy with considering my hip and the GIANT hill. One of my friends in the program, Jamie, also ran the half. Her first one! It was a lot of fun to have Erika and my mom here for the weekend. The route was also amazing. We started up at the Del Mar race track and basically ran along the coast finishing at La Jolla Cove. I really love where I live.

Other than that I've been working like a crazy person. After this week I'll be done with classes and TAing for the summer. I have one class left to take and another quarter of TAing to go, but that will happen sometime next year probably. Luckily I've been able to squeeze in a couple trips to the beach with Mia, some fun dinners/BBQ's with friends, and of course I'm still running :)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

"A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again." - Maya Angelou

After battling ovarian cancer for 3 years, my amazing and wonderful Grandma passed away on March 14th. She was put into hospice 10 days before she passed and among her last words, she said that "she was not afraid". Nor did she have any reason to be. Not only does she have the knowledge of the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation, but she lived an amazing life. She was a wonderful influence to those around her, especially to her children and grandchildren. She had the best "can do" attitude around and whatever the challenge or trial, she willingly accepted with no complaint and always served to the fullest of her capacities.

The definition of "fighting" cancer seems fairly loose, with the meaning mostly being seeking and undergoing treatment. My Grandma actually fought! Cancer was a pest to her, and she did everything she could to maintain her lifestyle of serving others and spending time with those she loved the most. She continued to be the amazing grandma that she is, doing projects with the grandkids and serving others, at a time when everyone around her should have been serving her.

Even though we knew the end was in sight, it was still hard to internalize her passing. I cried a lot more than I expected. She wanted me to sing "Oh that I were an angel" at her funeral, a song sung at both her mother's and sister's funeral. I had never heard the song before, but about 2/3 of the way through I broke down and couldn't sing anymore. The song is based off of Alma 29:1 which says:

O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!

My Grandma was diagnosed with cancer while serving a mission in the West Indies and her mission was cut about 3 weeks short. More than anything she wanted to serve her full mission. She loved serving the people in the West Indies and preaching the Gospel. I know that she has her wish now and is serving and preaching to those beyond the veil.

I will always remember her example. I will miss her, and as holidays and reunions come and go I know that her absence will only feel greater, but I am so glad that I was able to have such a wonderful grandmother in my life.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A little update

Last night Bret arranged a little google hangout with some of our Utah friends that are now spread out throughout the country. It was fun to catch up and see what everyone was up to! So I decided I'd share a little update on whats going on around here since it's been a while....

I'm still taking classes, TAing a gen chem lab, and doing rotations in lab. We were required to do a minimum of 3 5 week rotations, but I'm opting to do a 4th rotation. So far its going *decently* well....I think......At least I'm learning some cool stuff and getting to do something new! This semester has been super crazy busy. I feel like as soon as I cross one thing off of my to-do list, 8 more harder, more daunting things suddenly appear. I guess they went a little easier on us last quarter ;) It's all part of the experience. I'm still running and usually go about 47 or 48 miles a week. I'm trying to fit in swims and bike rides, but they are harder to do. In addition to my triathlon at the end of April, I also decided to sign up for the La Jolla half marathon with a friend. It's a really hilly course, but I'm sure its going to be beautiful!

Bret is still busy at work. He has been home a lot more this year which has been nice. I don't have to worry about running home to let Mia out in the evenings and can, instead, stay on campus until late....(yay?). He's enjoying his work though and learning how to balance work life with home life a bit more. Last week Ojiichan came out and bought a desk for the condo and he's been really happy to have that to work at. In fact, he hardly ever leaves ;)

Mia is still crazy. She had some sort of food allergy and was losing a bunch of fur on her stomach and legs. Now she's on a (very expensive) hypoallergenic food and seems to be doing a lot better. In a few weeks we will start adding things back into her diet to see what she was allergic too. Hopefully we can go back to a more decently priced dog food. It's been hard to have to deny her her favorite treats as well, like carrots. She is such a spoiled pooch! She still hates other dogs, which is a bummer around here. We tried socializing her a lot more at the beginning of the year but I think she started having some serious anxiety because she was not her usually peppy self. Other than that, she's still my baby.

I'm definitely grateful we live in San Diego now as I look at all of the snow Utah is getting. We moved just in time....

I've been trying to keep a personal daily journal lately. So far its going pretty well! Its nothing fancy, just a couple of thoughts about the day and such. Its a nice way to decompress from the day and I'm able to be a little more open about my thoughts, feelings, and ramblings than on a blog.

Anyway, that's pretty much it I think!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What to do when its cold outside?

I know I'm a pansy when it comes to the cold. Sometimes I wondered how I survived living in Utah, and I'm especially glad that I moved before this extremely and awfully cold winter that they are having now. I'm sorry Erika. Needless to say, I've been enjoying the amazingly temperate weather of San Diego. However! It has been on the colder side these past few weeks (San Diego, you betray me!) but I'm trying to make the best of it by eating one of my favorite foods: soup. Another not-so-well-kept secret. I heart soup. Deeply. I heart creamy soups. Very deeply. My slight lactose intolerance, however, does not heart creamy soups as deeply as my soul, which is a very sad thing. I've managed to get around this with my trusty hand-blender, and of course, my other love, my Blendtec.

Can you hear the angels singing?

Anyway, here are a couple of my recent lactose intolerant friendly creamy soup favorites :) Added bonus? They are A LOT lower in calorie than their real creamy counterparts :) :) :)
These are my recipes so they are simply, and not exact. Sorry about that. 

Butternut Squash Soup

-1 butternut squash
-salt and pepper
-vanilla almond milk
-paprika, cinnamon, curry, etc
-fresh basil, thinly sliced

Peel and cube the butternut squash. Roast in an oven at 400 until cooked through (usually 20-30 minutes, depending on how small your cubes are). Puree butternut squash with a splash of water so it will blend. Add the puree to a pot and thin it out with some almond milk. Keep the soup at about medium heat so it stay warm and the flavors blend together nicely. Add seasonings to your liking. Taste along the way until you get something you like! Sometimes I'll just salt and pepper, but other times I like to add paprika, cinnamon, and sometimes even curry to give it a little kick. Serve with fresh basil (or not...which is more often the case at my house)

Broccoli, Cheddar, Potato Soup
-olive oil
-1 onion (brown or yellow...or white!) diced
-1 tsp garlic
-4-6 small gold potatoes, diced
-3-4 C vegetable broth (I use water+better than vegetable bouillon)
-1 C unsweetened almond milk
-1 lb broccoli florets
-2 C low fat cheddar cheese
-salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle some olive oil into a large pot and heat over med-high. Once hot, add the diced onion. Stir while cooking until the onion starts to get a little color to it. Add the garlic and stir around for another minute. Then add the potatoes, cover with a lid, and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes with occasional stirring, allowing the potatoes to get a little color as well. Add the broth and almond milk along with some salt and pepper. Don't add too much salt because the cheese will bring salt to the table at the end. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, until the potatoes are cooked through, but not falling apart. Add the broccoli florets and cover the pot again for 1-2 minutes, or until the broccoli is bright green. This will happen pretty fast. You don't want to overcook the broccoli! Add the cheese and stir. Blend everything all together and serve with bread, preferably in a crust bread bowl. mmmm....

Another favorite is this zucchini cilantro bisque from the little beach bum. SO easy and SOOO good. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Christmas in AZ

Christmas morning I woke up super early thanks to Mia. Daisy, my parents cat, wakes up at about 5:30 in the morning everyday and meows really loudly until someone gives her canned food. The meowing wakes Mia up and she whines until I wake up. You would think that in a household without any little kids we would sleep in on Christmas day, but in actuality we wake up WAY earlier than most people who have kids! Me and Erika got the new Samsung Galaxy SIII phones for Christmas. We have officially entered the world of smarty-pants phones! It was a fun gift exchange. My mom asked for a new rice cooker (we're Japanese so we have fancy schmancy rice cookers) She had a 5 C one and wanted to get a smaller, 3C one with a shrinking family size. HOWEVER, when my sister was asking her about what kind of rice cooker she wanted at Thanksgiving she thought she wanted a BIGGER one. SO...I ordered her a 10 C rice cooker! She was a little shocked when she opened it! However, it doesn't look overly huge and fits on the counter top just fine so she decided to keep it. Plus, it can still make small amounts of rice and if she ever needs to make a large amount she can. Its also super fancy schmancy ;) Grandma and Grandpa came over for Christmas dinner. We made steak and grilled shrimp, baked brie, herb bread, dried apple chip salad with feta cheese and candied pecans, fruit, chips and roasted corn salsa, and blackberry cheesecake for dessert. It was delicious! Baked brie is now my official extremely easy and extremely fancy go-to appetizer. Pastry crust, wheel of brie, raspberry jam, and almonds=YUM!

Me and Grandma! I love this woman so much! Even with all of her trials with cancer she is such a positive and strong woman.
Delicious dinner with the group

The day after Christmas we went skiing up in Flagstaff at Snowbowl. It was snowing and super cold that day so the slopes were practically empty and there were no lines. Even though it was cold, it was so much fun to have such an empty mountain! Favorite moment? One of the lifts goes all of the way up to the top of the mountain where there are only black diamond runs. However, you can get off at a midpoint where there are blue runs but the midpoint ramp is a little steep and scary to get off, especially because the lift doesn't slow down at all. My mom got a little anxious and grabbed onto my sister when it came time to get off. My sister pushed my mom away, and then my mom had to jump off of the lift in order to get off (it wasn't too far). She ended up falling down the ramp and losing one of her skis-she wasn't hurt-and then proceeded to army crawl faster than I have ever seen her move to get out of the way of the next people getting off. Me and Erika were LOLing majorly. The next time we went on the lift my mom was pretty anxious and asked us over and over how to get off of the lift. We kept repeating to just stand up and slide down. When the ramp came into sight she screamed and said "asoko kirai!" translation: I hate that spot! I don't know why but it was really funni. Another funni moment happened getting on the lift. My mom started going to loading spot too early and I, without thinking, follower her. I ended up getting hit by the chair and got knocked over. Maybe you had to be there, but I promise we were laughing! 

We also did a lot of hiking (as always) We did Peralta with my Grandpa and some of my cousins and aunts and uncles followed by Five Guys and Zupas for me and Erika (I'm so glad they have Zupas close my parents house now!) Jade got a cactus thorn stuck in her paw and it was really sad :( I pulled it out but she was still limping pretty badly for the rest of the day. Luckily it happened in the last quarter mile so she only had to hobble for a little bit. Me and Bret also did Camelback with Erika and a bunch of her high school friends on New Years Eve. Me, Erika, and my dad hiked Flat Iron with Mia. It was super fun! Lots of climbing and rock scrambling but it was great. My dad had to carry Mia at one spot because it was too steep for her to get up and she looked so miserable it was cute. She hates getting picked up and will usually get mad, but she knew she needed the help so she just looked extremely sad when my dad took her up in one arm. After Flat Iron we went to Wildflower Bread Company where I got to talk to Stephanie Nielson from the nienie dialogues. She was really nice! Bret's brother Eric was in a band with her husband in high school so it was fun to make that connection. 

 Peralta and Weavers needle. Erika carried Sam on the way down. What a trooper!

Camelback with Erika and her friends

 Flat iron!  You can see in the upper left Mia trying to get down one of the steeper places. We actually went to the very top before going over to flat iron and could see out over the Superstitions. It was beautiful!
We went up to Payson for the traditional New Years Eve celebration. We didn't stay the night with everybody else, but still had fun visiting (not a huge fan of sleeping on the floor). We had a gingerbread "house" contest. Our team made a nativity scene. Other creative ideas were a rock climbing wall, a laptop, and a tower. It was snowing up there and cold! 

 Grandkids (with 5 missing) with Grandma and Grandpa!
Grandpa and Bret bonded over a nap on the couch. Lydia was loving the frosting (lower left)

One night we had Grandma and Grandpa, the Quain's, and Mark's family over for Indian fry bread. Great food, Great company. Sadly the Kimbler's and Schouten's couldn't make it. Somehow both Jonah and Bret fell asleep! Mia had a lot of fun playing chasing baby Sam around and stealing trains from him!

We also had a lot of fun with the Martineau family! We did a gingerbread "house" contest with the grandkids. Bret and I were the judges :) They were super creative-especially with the super glue! 

 Tenery worked with the older girls and did a pretty awesome job making the girl from Brave. Susan got a set of bells for Christmas and the kids played songs on them.
Susan got all of the grandkids presents from Mexico!

We did our traditional adult dinner and gift exchange with the siblings. Reed and Emily were with Reed's family in Georgia, but it was fun to hang out with everyone. Ray ended up with the night gown this year! I may get in trouble for posting this picture, but its just too great. Can't wait for the picture with Santa next year.

We met up with Reed and Emily for some chicken and waffles before we left. They wanted to introduce us to some Southern cooking so went to Lo-Lo's in Scottsdale. It was actually really good! The sweet and salty was a nice combo, but I didn't really like the thick kool-aid, or "drank". 

If you're still reading this, I'm a little amazed. I was going to break this up, but then I realized once school starts again I probably won't have time to blog so I'm doing it all in one shot. Thanks for bearing with me!

We also got to meet up with some friends over the break. One night we did a game night with Tess and Ryan, Nicole, and Brianna with her new baby. We played Logos, a trivia game about different companies, that was really fun! 

Chase and Sammy live in Phoenix now so we got to meet up with them for some Pita Jungle and Bahama Bucks. It was a little cold for shaved ice, but still delicious! It was so fun to see them and to see how big baby Colton is getting! He loved sharing my coconut shaved ice with me :)

You can tell Chase and Bret have missed each other ;)

One more cute picture to round these things. Daisy is usually a pretty stand-offish cat. She loves people, just not cuddling with them. But one day she came up right next to my head and started playing with my hair. It was super cute, and kind of weird. Love that kitty :)

Family time in San Diego!

My Christmas break was pretty freakin' awesome. I had about 3 weeks off from school. The first week was spent doing some school stuff..pretty boring, but it was good to be able to get stuff done before the festivities began! We did go caroling with the ward at a rest home which was fun. Bret and I were asked last minute to accompany everything and provide a couple of solo numbers. They were a little rough, but it was all good.

Top: The Gruver's with their jingle bells. Bottom: Everyone singing!

The Friday before Christmas my family drove over and joined us in San Diego for the weekend. We did a TON of stuff. I was really excited to have people come so I could have an excuse to do some of the things I hadn't had a chance to do yet. FIRST! however, we had breakfast with Bret's beautiful cousin Hilary and her brand new fiance, Andrew. They were in town for the BYU bowl game vs San Diego State and had just gotten engaged the night before (in La Jolla, nonetheless). We took them over to Brockton Villa for a celebration breakfast and they were so cute and happy. It was a great time! (PS Brockton Villa french toast is to die for)

Sitting on the patio looking out over the seals at La Jolla Cove. Look how happy (and cute!) they are!
My family arrived later in the afternoon and we did some shopping at the mall before heading over to Apollonia's for some delicious Greek food. While we were walking over to the mall we saw a car ram full speed into the back of a stopped bus. It was kind of scary! My dad was a good person and stuck around to fill out a report and make sure everyone was okay. He also didn't really feel like shopping ;)

Bottom left: Greek dinner! Bottom and Top right: Torrey Pines-Dolphins! Top left: Dog Beach

The next morning we went over to Torrey Pines and did some hiking. Sadly, dogs aren't allowed there so we had to leave Mia and Jade behind (yep, Jade came too!). We hiked over to Razor Point and saw some cool rock formations and dolphins riding the wave! Then we headed down to the beach where Jonah attempted to catch a seagull. Torrey Pines is beautiful! I've run through it a few times since its close to where we leave. I wish they allowed dogs because then I would go more often with Mia!

All Torrey Pines!
After hiking we headed over to Little Italy for some lunch an Buon Appetite and perused the farmers market there for a while. Then we took the dogs down to Dog Beach at Ocean Beach. Mia LOVES the beach and had a great time. Jade was less amused by the ocean, but she looked really happy the whole time we were there. At one point Mia was playing in the water and a grey hound came at her full speed and knocked her over. It was pretty funni how stunned she was when she got back on her feet.

That night we hit up Tajima Izakaya and Christmas Card lane. Christmas card lane is a neighborhood that goes all out with lights and decorations. Almost everyone has a hand painted display/ card in their front yard. They were pretty fun to see! Sunday we went to church where both Bret and I had musical numbers-I did a piano solo and Bret did a guitar solo. That night we went to the San Diego Temple lights and met up with a couple from my parents BYU days. The husband was in the same MTC district as my dad and the wife was one of my mom's Japanese friends from BYU. San Diego Temple lights can't even compare to the Mesa Temple, but they were still pretty!

On Monday we went over to Brockton Villa for breakfast (2 times in one weekend? I didn't mind!) after which we started our drive back to AZ. On the way home we picked up some tamales and had our traditional Christmas Eve tamale dinner. It was so much to have my family out for a weekend!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

First quarter of grad school=DONE!

I have officially completed my first quarter of grad school! In all honestly, it definitely wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be (everyone says your first year is the hardest) I think I owe a lot of that to BYU where I was TAing, doing research, and taking classes pretty much just like a first year grad student does. Sure its time consuming, but I enjoyed it :)

I really enjoyed my second rotation. I even got to make pretty ferritin crystals!

I was super excited since I have never done crystallography was a very "mommi look what I did!" moment in my life.

I finished finals this week. We even had a little study group at our apartment. For some reason from high school to even grad school my apartment is the mecca for study groups. Probably because I feed people. In this case it was pizza and apple chip salad. 

We had a small party last night with some of our new friends in the ward! I did a pizza bar (everyone make a personal pizza with a bunch of toppings) I like doing this with new friends because I don't have to know about everyone's likes/dislikes plus its fun! I tend to go pretty crazy with the toppings-probably because I like less traditional pizza toppings-but I think it makes it more interesting.

Eric, Kimberley, and Lindsey dishing up their pizzas. Being Japanese comes in handy when I do pizza bar because I have a million little bowls to put toppings in. PS this is only, like, half of the toppings we had haha
Mike and Angie. Mike is super tall and plays vball. I love it.

One of our friends that came, Tom, used to be a dog trainer so it was fun to listen to him talk about training stuff. I got really self conscious about Mia tho! I'm sure he could point out 800 things we were doing wrong with her from throughout the night, but such is life I guess. Bonus: we talked about dogs A LOT throughout the night.

Yesterday I ran 15 miles straight for the first time. In the past, whenever I have run more than 13 miles I break it up into 2 runs-mostly for time. Since I'm training for the triathlon right now, my workout schedule has been 7 miles on the weekdays (7 is my magical run early in the morning number...don't ask me just works) and then a 10-11 mile run on Saturday followed by a 30-45 minute swim. I tried doing long bike rides for a while but it just doesn't give me the same workout. I decided that my biking commute will just have to be good enough. Anyway, yesterday I didn't feel like swimming so I decided to do a longer run instead which pulled my weekly mileage up to 50. It was a beautiful day for a run! Added bonus: Mia was exhausted.

Can I just say I love that its December and I can run in a tank top?
Today in church I accompanied two musical numbers. The singers sounded beautiful :) I also played the organ and taught the lesson in RS. Needless to say it was kind of a stressful day.

Now I'm on my first and only "real" "holiday" (because you can't say Christmas at UCSD) break. I have some fellowships I want to apply for which will hopefully get done, and a bunch of stuff I need to get caught up on, but I'm really looking forward to enjoying time with both of my families in AZ :)