Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Haul out the holly...

The holidays are HERE! David and I are exchanging gifts tonight, and I am very excited. (I tried to get him to exchange yesterday, but I was rejected.)

I have been traveling so much this holiday season, and it doesn't show signs of stopping until the New Year! In the beginning of December, we went to Ken and Carol's house for an early Christmas celebration with Ken, Carol, Jane, Brian, and Scott. It was really fun! Carol puts together a beautiful, themed holiday party for Ken's office staff each year, and this year she put us to work making gingerbread houses! It was a little stressful for me because I am not a crafty person, but I did end up enjoying myself while helping her.


Carol's house - what a standard to live up to! She could make these professionally.


My house - honestly, I think my "cracker house" is appropriately named because you would probably find it in the trailer park of gingerbread houses, but I am completely in love with the little doughnut snowman I made to go beside it.


Jane's "candy cane house" - so cute!


This log cabin house, decorated by Brian and David, is my favorite. I particularly like how they told a story with their family of Teddy Grahams.

Our Kelly/Bennett/Hokanson family portrait.


Jane and Brian got everyone (except for David, who is freakishly warm) Snuggies this year for Christmas, and I am quite glad that they did; it is my new favorite blanket, though I do always seem to trip over myself when I get up from the couch and forget just how long the Snuggie is!

The week after that, I went to see Kristen in Chicago. We had such a great time, we forgot to take pictures! We did tons of fun things in the city, including ice skating at Millenium Park, brunch at Yolk, dinner at the original Pizzeria Unos (all chain Unos have officially been ruined for me forever, because there is just no comparison), and going to see The Santaland Diaries. I can't wait to see her soon over break, and to go back to Chicago again in the spring/summertime.

Wishing you all safe travels as you make your way to your families this Christmas season! We will be in Butler visiting the Chobots from December 23 - 28, and visiting the Hokansons in Orlando from December 28 - Jan. 1.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving weekend

Happy Thanksgiving friends! It is hard to believe that it is already December - where did 2009 go? David and I had a wonderful holiday, and I hope all of you did too.

Our weekend began with some disappointment, as my family was unable to make it to Thanksgiving dinner. My mom caught some sort of bug from the many children at her school that bug her, and needed her rest. However, David's family was still represented, so we celebrated in the best way that we know how - with LOTS of food and wine. (And I mean LOTS.) We had turkey, two types of stuffing (Hokanson and Chobot stuffing), mashed potatoes, candied yams, green beans, creamed peas and onions, cresent rolls, lemon pie, apple pie, and cranberry sorbet (though I technically made that on the day after Thanksgiving with the cranberry sauce that never set). Shown above are those that enjoyed the feast - David and me, Scott, Carol, and Ken (not pictured because he was taking the picture).

After Thanksgiving, David and I took a trip up to Niagara Falls on Saturday, and then went to Buffalo for the Buffalo vs. Miami game. I had never been to Niagara Falls before, and it was absolutely beautiful. We had a very romantic time together, though I'm sure David will make some sort of comment at the end of this post to refute any claims of mushy behavior on his part, so I will leave it at that.
Our view, as we entered into Canada. I was shocked at the interrogation we received entering Canada. I thought they accepted anyone into their borders! :) I have to admit that I was also extremely disappointed that there was not a single Mountie waiting to greet me at the border. Isn't that standard Canadian protocol?

The falls, part I! These are the portion of the falls that you can also see from the American side.

David and me in front of the horseshoe falls (Canadian side). They were breathtaking! Also take a moment to notice my fabulous winter hat from last season that is now making a reappearance! I love this hat, even though it is a little ridiculous.

The Maid of the Mist was closed for winter, so we rode the SkyWheel instead (a ferris wheel with pod compartments similar to those found on the London Eye, except on a much smaller scale) to enjoy the view. I love things like this, and I was very excited that David was game to ride it.

The Falls at sunset. We attempted to take pictures of them once they were lit up at night, but my wimpy Powershot was unable to handle that task properly. While everything was beautiful during the day, the Falls were really spectacular at night.

After our day trip to Niagara, we settled in at Marianthal Bed and Breakfast for the evening. It was a really cute place, and they served us a gigantic (and yummy) breakfast the next day. It was a relaxing evening before the big game on Sunday. I didn't think to take any pictures of our accommodations, but their website is here. We stayed in the Medallion room because it had a whirlpool tub, which is one of my requirements for a room at a B&B.

On Sunday, we went to Buffalo to see the Dolphins play the Bills. We have decided that since this venue is so close to Ithaca, we are going to make this game a tradition every year that we live there (and maybe even add in the Steelers game if they come to Buffalo next year). For those of you from Butler seeing this picture of me wearing a Miami jersey on a Steelers game day, if you look closely, you will notice that I am also wearing a Steelers hat to support my own team! Of course, all of our support did not help either team win, and it was a disappointing football day for both of us. We had a great time at the game though, in part thanks to the very nice Buffalo fan who took this picture. We were parked next to a group of Buffalo fans in the parking lot, and instead of heckling us, one of them sold us two upgraded tickets for only $30 - less than it would have cost us to upgrade our tickets at face value. Instead of sitting in the 300 level tweet seats, David and I had seats 28 rows back from the 40 yard line on the visitor's side. It was fantastic, and I am grateful that Buffalo fans turned out to be so nice. The fans were even pretty nice throughout the whole game, though David and I were trashed talked by two elderly ladies when Buffalo scored a touchdown to make the score 24-14, which was slightly embarrassing.

The month of December will be a hectic one, and full of holiday cheer and travel. This weekend David and I plan to get our Christmas tree and visit Ken and Carol for an early Christmas weekend. Next weekend I visit Kristen in Chicago!! YAY!!! And then, shortly after that our Christmas travels to Butler and Florida begin! (Oh...and I will be working on my thesis too...sometime...) Wishing all of you a great start to the holiday season!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Boston! Maroon 5! Moving day!

It continues to be a busy fall in the Hokanson household. Two weeks ago we went to Boston for BU's alumni weekend, and had a wonderful visit with Brian and Jane. Our trip, in pictures:

Jane, carving her monster pumpkin

All of our pumpkin carving creations!
(Jane's, David's, and mine)

Before we went to the BU vs. Michigan hockey game, we stopped at Sunset Cantina to watch the Michigan football game and have some drinks/snacks. (I have no idea what kind of a face my husband is making, but it makes me laugh every time I look at this photo.)

All of us before the game. I think Brian is smiling in this picture because BU had not yet begun to destroy his Michigan hockey team. It did not turn out to be a good day for Michigan sports, and I'm sure if I had taken a picture after the game, he might have had a more defeated expression his face. But yay for BU! The best play of the hockey game was when BU scored their winning goal in an empty net not because Michigan had pulled their goalie, but because he decided to go for a little skate around the back of the net instead of standing in front of it. For me, as nice as it was to see BU win, it was also just nice to be back in that atmosphere that used to occupy so many of my college nights.

On Sunday morning, while everyone else brewed beer, I went to breakfast with Anna and Jen. We went to pajama breakfast at Tremont 647. (You will see a photo of my ridiculously awesome apple pajamas later.) We ordered a homemade pop-tart as an appetizer, which was a very good idea.

After breakfast, I came back to Brian and Jane's house and raked a leaf pile big enough for me to jump into (though I could have had a bigger pile had I been willing to make more of a raking effort). I love jumping in leaves, and I have been wanting to do this at Brian and Jane's house ever since my first visit there. (NOTE: Aren't my pajamas just plain cool?? I decided to leave them on all day.)

Enjoying the leaves!

Last night David and I went to the Maroon 5 concert at Cornell. It was a really great show, though it was extremely short. Is it a new trend for artists to only play for 90 minutes or so? I know it wasn't David's musical cup of tea, but I think he managed to have a good time too (even if his good time consisted of watching me make a fool of myself dancing and singing to the music).

This weekend I move the last bit of my stuff up to Ithaca!! No more Philadelphia apartment! Though it is strange to finally say goodbye to our first home together, it is wonderful to finally be starting our life together up in Ithaca. I will post pictures of the Ithaca apartment once I am all unpacked.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A short post to honor the things I love this week!

1. Moving more stuff up to Ithaca. There may be piles and piles of my stuff all over the apartment that I have to find a home for...but their home will be somewhere HERE.

2. Being off the lease at Osage Avenue. The only person stealing my pie from now on will be David, and I married him.

3. Glee. I LOVE Glee. I love everything about it, especially the musical numbers...though I must also say, Matthew Morrison is the new Patrick Dempsey. It kind of makes me wish that we would have burst into song throughout the hallways of Butler High...oh wait, we kind of did sometimes.

4. Going to Boston this weekend! And going to the hockey game, where BU will undoubtably crush Brian's Michigan. Go Terriers!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Making the rounds

Despite the fact that I feel buried underneath all of the writing projects on my desk at the moment (fellowship applications, manuscripts, and that whole thesis thing), I am still finding time to travel around the East Coast over the next few weeks, making stops in Butler (last weekend), New York City (Monday), and Boston (next weekend). I'm not sure these trips are necessarily fantastic for my productivity, but they are fantastically fun all the same!

David and I went to Butler last weekend to meet with Father Steve about our blessing ceremony. Our wedding in June was a civil service, so we are getting our marriage blessed at my hometown church while we are in Butler for Christmas. Though the paperwork has not come back yet, it is looking like the small prayer service will be held at St. Paul's Church on December 26 at 2:00 pm. It has been an interesting journey for me to go through this process because though it initially started as something that was incredibly important to my mother and other family members, it is now also something that has developed meaning for me (even if I sometimes get frustrated by all of the silly administrative requirements mandated by the Church). If nothing else, it will be nice to stand up at the altar and ask God to watch out for David and me as we navigate the tricky road of married life.

Monday I went to New York City to visit Elliot. I had wanted to make one more trip while the city was only a two hour Bolt bus ride away. We had an amazing time. We started the morning on a quest to find Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft restaurant. David and I got Elliot into Top Chef when he visited us for Thanksgiving a few years ago, and so Elliot was dying to try out one of Tom's real restaurants (but one we could afford). We wandered the East Village for two hours searching for the location on E. 8th Street only to discover that it had closed (we finally had the brains to call after we noticed we were getting strange looks from people on the blocks we kept circulating). However, we were not deterred - we just stopped by the one on 5th Avenue instead later in the afternoon. It was so delicious! Elliot had a gourmet tuna sandwich that was out of this world (I should have ordered that one, I think) and I had an upscale grilled cheese with an argula / lemongrass salad. I think the most bizarre part of our adventure was that we were able to use Elliot's phone to place our order ahead of time - these iPhones really are taking over the universe! It won't be long before we all have them implanted in our wrists and Wikipedia linked to our brains...

Posted below is a picture Elliot and I found in Central Park. Obviously, drinking is not allowed there, but we thought it was particularly hilarious that the parks association decided to depict an outlaw of martinis in particular (perhaps a nod to the executives now sipping their martinis in the streets due to the recession??):

Later, we met up with Elliot's incredibly cute and nice boyfriend Justin for dinner at a diner called V*nyl. It was very gaudy in an 80's sort of way, but their food demanded to be taken seriously. Their from-scratch mac 'n' cheese was probably the best I've had in a long time! Here is a not-so-great photo of us taken while we were eating there (note, by not-so-great, I mean Elliot looks perfect and I am not even looking at the iPhone camera properly):

Last night I continued my hectic schedule by attending a high school career fair on behalf of my alma mater, Boston University. Though I was totally exhausted in the beginning, talking to these (VERY YOUNG) high schoolers and their parents about my BU experience was really fun. I felt like I did a good job of convincing them that BU was a great place to go to school. All of that talking about Boston has certainly gotten me excited to visit there next weekend!! I kept the BU sign from my table at the career fair to take with me to the hockey game against Michigan next Saturday. GO Terriers!

Until then...I should probably get back to writing about electrons...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A wonderful fall weekend

Hello friends! Fall is upon us - I wore a jacket to school today, the leaves are changing, and I will probably treat myself to a pumpkin spice latte sometime this week. This time of year does not beat Christmas...but it comes close. I love fall.

Last Thursday, David and I went to the They Might Be Giants concert. It was EXTREMELY fun. They are amazing performers, and we really enjoyed ourselves. Their songs are great, but more than that, they are really funny people. I think I enjoyed their comedic timing almost as much as the songs they played. But don't take my word for it! (Do you feel a shameless plug coming on? I do.) You can enjoy their comedic timing for yourself by reading my interview with the band here. This was my very first "real" interview, and it was a really great experience. I talked to the band for over an hour, and got much more material than I was able to post in my Science Cheerleader blog. The best part about the whole thing was that over the course of the hour, I really forgot I was "interviewing" - it felt much more like I was just chatting with people I already knew who just so happened to be music stars. It is reassuring to know that there are some successful musicians out there who remain down-to-earth.

The excitement continued as I made my first visit to CHESS (or Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source) with my new laboratory. The Crane lab uses this facility to obtain data that they use to solve the structures of particular proteins. I am so excited to get started, and had a great time on my field trip. Being in CHESS was like being in a submarine - every inch of every wall is covered with monitors and switches. It was a little overwhelming on my first day, but I am sure I will get the hang of it once I get going with my own experiments. The most exciting part of my tour was that I got a badge that said, "Cornell Postdoctoral fellow / Sarah Hokanson, PhD. I like the sound of that :) And so, I am here at Penn today running HPLCs and working on the drafts of my manuscripts so that I can graduate and become Sarah Hokanson, PhD.

Our Saturday and Sunday was full of fun, but also full of housework. I moved all of my kitchen stuff up to the apartment, so we moved some bookshelves around and got the pantry/kitchen organized again. It looks great - I love it. I will post some pictures of it, along with the rest of the apartment, once I am completely settled. We did find time to see two movies currently out in theaters - The Invention of Lying and Zombieland. (Both were good.) We also went to Sunday brunch at Simply Red (delicious!) and went hiking afterwards at Buttermilk Falls, and then came home to cheer on the Dolphins and the Steelers as they both won their games.

I would like to write this short note to the Steelers to close this blog entry: Dear Pittsburgh Steelers, I would just like to remind you that football games are always 60 minutes long. You cannot play 3 quarters incredibly well and expect to automatically win games. Please do better next week. Your faithful fan, Sarah

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I have a job!

I have a job! So exciting. I will be a post-doctoral fellow in Brian Crane's laboratory starting next spring. You can learn more about his research here. I can't wait to join my new lab! Graduation can't come soon enough...

But this week of work is very busy! I am working from Ithaca to try to finish two papers that need to be submitted before I can write my thesis. While I have drafts of both papers started, I am finding the finishing and polishing of the manuscripts is not coming easily, so I thought maybe if I dedicated a solid block of time to doing it, I could set goals and be more productive than just sporadically trying to write for an hour or so here or there. So far, so good.

We are going to see a play called The Servant of Two Masters with Ken and Carol on Thursday night - their son Scott works in the theater department at Cornell as a stage manager, and is very involved with the play's production. I really enjoyed the last show we saw through Cornell's theater department, so this one should be great too. We are also going to a corn maze / mini-golf outing with David's lab on Friday night. I have to confess I have a not-so-slight aversion to corn mazes after I got lost in one during high school (how humiliating), but I suppose since I am an adult now, I need to face my fear and grab a heavy-duty flashlight!

But for now...back to work!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Here Comes Science! (and They Might Be Giants, to Ithaca)

My blogging for is finally bringing in the celebrity interviews (and we all know how much I love celebrities)! After months of interviewing people that are counting their neighborhood squirrels or monitoring the pH of their local water supply (not that I'm not interested in those things of course), I finally get to interview REAL rock stars - THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS! I feel about ten times more valid as a reporter than I was yesterday...and I am absolutely sure that I am cooler too.

So how did this happen? They Might Be Giants have a new children's album out called "Here Comes Science!", and I thought writing about it would make for a great blog post for all of my SciCheer readers. The songs are really catchy, completely dorky, and I love them. (Check out this video to become obsessed yourself.) As I was prepared to write a short article explaining that the album exists and that it is awesome, my boss (the head cheerleader) interjected that I perhaps I should write to their publicist and see if I could score an interview with the group to put in my post. Not expecting much, I e-mailed their publicist (my new BFF, Debbie) and explained that despite my lack of press credentials, I would love the chance to talk to They Might Be Giants before publishing my blog...

...and not only did she schedule a teleconference with the band for Monday afternoon at 3:00 pm, but she put David and me on the list for their concert in Ithaca on October 1. No tickets necessary, we are on a LIST. ME, the biggest dork ever, on a LIST for a ROCK BAND. I wonder if I will have a backstage pass or even some press credentials at the concert? Not that it even matters...we are on A LIST (for a show not being performed by the fabulous Elliot Roth)!!! I guess sometimes, even if it seems like a long shot, all you need to do to get something accomplished is have the courage to ask for what you want.

I will post more on this subject after my interview on Monday.

P.S. I mentioned jokingly to Darlene that since I was entering into celebrity territory, I should interview Alton Brown about Good Eats. She said she'd e-mail his publicist. If she comes through, I do not know how I would even contain my excitement. I'm trying not to get my hopes up.

P.P.S. I think James Spader and Patrick Dempsey need to make a movie about being scientists so I can interview them too. Oh, and John Mayer and Maroon 5 can do that movie's soundtrack, and their people can call my people...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A trip to the zoo!

My parents came to visit over the weekend, and along with David, we went to the Philadelphia Zoo! It was a beautiful (but incredibly hot) day to see animals...and more importantly, ride the ZOOBALLOON! I am completely obsessed with riding the Channel 6 Zooballoon, mostly because it is so fun, but also because it is incredibly elusive! I try and and try to ride it, but Saturday was only my second ride. Every single time I go to the Philadelphia Zoo, it is always closed for repairs, or too windy for takeoff, or something LAME. I am so glad I got to take my dad up in the sky for a view of the city on this trip. (I will not be showing you those views though, because David had the camera and left to go buy a hot dog while we were riding it.) Here is a view of the balloon, in all its majestic glory:

One of the coolest parts of our zoo visit was a new attraction called the Lorakeet Experience. In an enclosed area, we got to hold little cups of nectar and interact directly with the birds. It was a little intense, especially for David - one bird was definitely a big fan of him, and would not stop pestering him.

Here is the bird attacking the camera when David tried to get a close-up:

Riding the carousel can be dangerous (or at least from this angle, taken by clever David)!

My mom also really wanted to ride the camel at the zoo. Not wanting her to have to be alone among the sea of children at the ride, I volunteered to ride with her. Except I didn't. She got paired with a cute little kid and looked completely normal riding (like she was just riding it as his chaperone)...while I rode the camel all alone. The path seemed to take FOREVER...I felt like I was riding the damn thing in slow motion. I tried to ride it proud, but it was pretty embarrassing because it seemed like everyone (zoo employees, parents, and children alike) was giving me strange "WTF??" looks. (Except for David, who was just laughing at me.) Two little girls behind me in line said something in Spanish that I roughly translated as, "Why is that big girl riding the camel?" Oh well. At least it makes for a good story, and I am very glad my mom had such a good time, since she was the one that was excited about it in the first place.

The fun will continue this week as birthday celebrations begin! I turn 26 tomorrow - yay! Though 26 is not such a big milestone, I am lucky enough to celebrate my birthday twice - once this weekend with David in Ithaca eating yummy coq a vin and watching movies (probably Julie and Julia and Inglorious Basterds), and once with my family back in Butler at the end of August.

Stay cool kids - it is really toasty (and humid) outside.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Clearly we were not creative enough at our wedding...

...or crazy, depending on your point of view. For my last wedding post, I leave you with this:

Wedding photos part III

Our professional photographer did not do as nice of a job as we could have hoped for. However, there were some bright spots in her often out-of-focus pictures, and so...(I apologize for the grainy downloads...these files post much fuzzier than those submitted by our clearly more talented friends and family...)

I love this shot of David and me. This was taken just before the rain came, among the vines and vineyard grapes. What an amazing couple we make!

This shot shows David trying to help me as I trip over my dress for what was probably the fourth or fifth time.

My family - (L-R) Pap-pap, Grandmom Lola, Jenn, ME!, Mom, and Dad

My new family - David, Tom, Olivia, and Helen

With our pseudo-family: Brian, Jane, the kissing Hokansons, Scott, Carol, and Ken

Getting silly with the bestest friends ever: Victoria, ME!, Elliot, and Kristen

With my mom and her sisters, Lisa (left) and LuAnn (right)

David and "the girls" (Karla, Angie, and Caira)

With the wonderful people at Sheldrake that made it all possible, Chef Sam and Jessica, our event coordinator

We will be going through all of the photos to make a "Best Of" DVD to mail to our family and friends. Let me know if you'd like one!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wedding photos part II

As more and more photos come in, I will continue to post my favorites:
I stop to hug Mom before the ceremony begins (check out the awesome train on my dress!)
During David's vows, right before I started to cry

David insisted that Jane should escort Jenn at the end of the ceremony.

Jenn and me

David and his "girls", Angie, Jane, Karla, and Caira (L-R)

This was one of the best moments of dinner!  Here is Jane, scolding David for interrupting her as she gave her best matron speech.

Ken and Carol (David's "pseudo-parents", for lack of a better term) at dinner

Me with Elliot and Victoria

The classic "taking a photo of yourself" picture (with me and Victoria) taken by Kristen

Bryan and Dave sharing some guy love with Brian, with Jen (and the bouquet she caught!)