2018 in Pictures

I am a little later than I had hoped for this, but I wanted to do the same thing as last year and review 2018 in photos (here is the link to 2017’s year in pictures). I think this is such a fun way to look back on the year and remember all that has happened. I will sat that 2018 was filled with more challenges than 2017 but there were also some major life changes and fun adventures. I hope to do a bigger reflection post on this in the future but for now, here was my year in pictures:

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I am so thankful for all the opportunities I had in 2018 and for all the people who have been in my life (and who I met!). I look forward to continuing to grow and challenge myself in 2019.

Happy 2019!

Erin

Favorite Books of 2018

I will readily admit that I fell short on my reading goal for 2018. I had hoped to read around a book a week (my number goal was 30 total). That worked pretty well through June and then things got crazy with lots of travel and graduate school. Since September I have only read three books. So throughout the whole year I read a total of 24 books (five of which were re-reads) and chose to include eight of those in this list of the best books I have read in 2018.

Educated by Tara Westover: Such a fantastic and inspiring memoir of a woman who grew up in a very religious family in rural Idaho. I listened to this as an audiobook and was thoroughly captivated the entire time. Tara’s story is heartbreaking, uplifting and inspiring all at the same time. It brought on so many emotions for me (it even brought me to tears at one point).

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrass Tyson: This is a short book that gives a great overview of general astrophysics concepts. It is so easy to read (especially if you have to background in physics) and incredibly interesting. I am so glad I picked it up because I feel like I learned a ton and didn’t have to work super hard to understand things.

Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall: I had no idea that this one would be more than just her life with the gorillas. It is so inspiring and uplifting (read my March Book Round Up for more on this one). I highly recommend it.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez: This one took be quite some time and focus to get into but the story is so very beautiful. My friend has told me its her favorite book several times so I finally got around to reading it. I seriously loved it and it will probably be one of my favorites as well!

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: In all honestly I am mostly remembering the show for this one since I read it so early on in 2018. I do remembering really liking the book though. Liane Moriarty’s style of writing was refreshing for me and the characters were so intriguing. I will say that I did not like Madly Truly Guilty nearly as much.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman: I did an entire book review on this one so I won’t go to into detail. This story did a great job of reminding me to appreciate and understand where I come from and to change my outlook on the future by accepting that I can’t control everything.

Circe by Madeline Miller: This story of Circe (the Greek goddess) was a recommendation from Bad on Paper Podcast and I am so glad they chose it. The tragic and beautiful story of a underdog goddess, looked down upon by many, is told in full. I think this is my favorite fiction read of the whole year!

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green: This is the most recent book I read and I really enjoyed it. I have been excited for Hank Green’s book for a while and for me it lived up to that hype. I don’t want to give anything away so I will only say that it is about this girl, April May, and her journey to fame through her discovery of a stature in New York City (yes that sounds vague but just read it!). I will say that it took me a while to get through. I am not sure if thats because I’ve just been busy or because I took a while for me to really get into.

Thanks for reading and I would love to hear what your favorite books from 2018 were. I am always looking for new things to read! Happy reading!

Erin

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Favorite Closet Additions of 2018

I am trying to spend money as little as possible right now because I am in graduate school and on a very tight budget, however I have made a few purchases this year that I am very excited about and have been wearing on repeat. Here are my favorite items of clothing that I purchased in 2018. I am not including any accessories but am including one pair of shoes that I absolutely love.

Patagonia hoodie: This is hands down my favorite item from 2018. I wear it everywhere! It is so comfortable and the quality is amazing. I also love supporting Patagonia because they have an amazing mission and story!

Leather hooded jacket: This is probably my second favorite purchase from the whole year. It is so comfortable and easy to pair with just about anything (I wore it in my Living in Utah post for an outfit idea). I have never owned a leather jacket and was not sure how I felt about them but this one is absolutely perfect. The gold hardware and hood really drew me in!

Houndstooth skirt: This has been a very popular item with a lot of bloggers and I could not resist those perfect fall colors. I love how people had been styling it and was so pleasantly surprised by how comfortable and flattering it is!

Leopard booties: This were more of a fall thing since it is pretty snowy in Utah right not so I have been sticking to snow boots. But these from Sezane were they perfect way to bring that leopard trend to a classic I wear all the time (heeled booties).

Wunder leggings: I actually ended up getting two pairs one black and one grey and they are so amazing for everyday wear. My black ones are also great for yoga and lighter work outs.

Zella joggers: I got some grey Zella joggers at the Nordstrom sale this year and they have become my go to for loungewear/sweatpants. I will also go ahead and give a shout out to Zella leggings because they are just as good as some Lululemon pairs and way cheaper.

Cashmere white pearl sweater: White sweaters are great because they can be worn pretty much year round. This one is so soft and was definitely a splurge but worth it. I am also a big fan of this Free People sweater, I wore it basically all August and September!

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Erin

A Week in New Hampshire

In August I spent a week with my boyfriend’s family exploring the white mountains. I have been to New Hampshire before but never for very long. My dad’s family used to have a house there and my parents were married at Bretton Woods! There is so much to explore and I am already dreaming of going back around this time of year (fall) because I can just imagine how gorgeous the leaves are.

Exploring

I flew into Portland, ME so we spent the evening eating lobster and walking around Portland. We drove back to New Hampshire and spent the rest of the week exploring the area. I think my highlight was the Kancamangus Highway which goes through the white mountains. The views are so beautiful! There are also some hikes in this area and several historical sites. We also visited the Basin which I also highly recommend. It is a river that has carved away the rock in an incredible way. It is also not far off the highway although we did end up hiking the trail above it which is very pretty as well! We spent one of our days exploring the country roads and visiting the Frost Place. I highly enjoy Robert Frost’s poetry and seeing a place of his inspiration was very interesting. It is just so beautiful!

Eating

We had a fantastic time exploring the restaurants. My favorite was probably the Schilling Beer Co. in Littleton. Seriously the pizza is amazing and I highly recommend sitting out on the deck because the view across the river is incredible. There is also a covered walking bridge right next door and some great artesian shops close by. The Covered Bridge Farm Table in Campton is a great option for a delicious but affordable dinner. The shrimp tacos were amazing and I recommend the Ahi Tuna as well! There is also a covered bridge right next to it. Lincoln is a fun town to explore and One Love Brewery has a easy pub menu with a decent lobster roll. My favorite brunch spot was Old Main in Plymouth. The thrift shops near by are also fun to explore. I also highly recommend visiting the many farm stands for delicious fresh produce!

Staying

My boyfriend’s family rented two different houses both of which were in beautiful locations. The first was right next to a farm with some trails through the forest in the back. I spent most of my time at the second house which was up on a hill right next to the Campton Mountain ski lift. The view was amazing! Both were affordable so if you have more than two people I definitely recommend renting a house!

 

Erin

Life Update

Wow I have no idea where to even start with this post! Life has not stopped being crazy which has been incredible in many ways but also overwhelming. There have been a ton of amazing opportunities and adventures but I have had almost no time to process anything! Here is my best crack at an update on my life lately:

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Grad School

In August I started my first year of graduate school at Utah State University and I have been so so busy. I enjoy being busy and I think having more to do helps me be more productive but right now it is so tough to get everything done. I am teaching a class, doing research and taking my own classes, on top of moving to a brand new place and trying to figure out my life here. I barely have had time to think which is kind of crazy! The biggest thing I have come to realize is how much time professors spend on single classes. At least three days out of my week have been fully dedicated to preparing for and teaching a class that meets once a week (although we do have three sections). I spend one day focusing on my own research which comprises mostly of reading lots of scientific papers right now. The rest of my days in the week are spent in classes, doing homework and helping around our lab. I have had fairly little time for myself and do not feel like I have been utilizing that time all that well. Also if you don’t know I am starting my PhD in biology!

Summer

I am not even sure where to start with the past few months. So much has happened. My sister and I got back from Europe at the end of July, just in time for the wedding of a family friend (which was very beautiful). My mom and I left the next day to move a bunch of my stuff out to Utah. I had a few meetings with my lab but the trip was mostly filling out paperwork, moving in and getting some things set up. We only stayed three days before driving back to Boulder so I could pick up my friend who came to visit. I absolutely loved having her visit! We hiked every single day, visited the national park and did a short backpacking trip (which I did do a post about). She visited for about a week and then I left for New England because my boyfriend’s family was on vacation. I will do a post on this trip in the coming weeks because it was so beautiful and such a great place to visit (we were mostly in New Hampshire)! I flew home a week later and had one day to get any last minute things, pack the car head out to Utah.

As a side note, I was driving by myself for eight hours so I listened to the book Educated by Tara Westover and I highly recommend it! I spent my first week in Utah doing lots of safety related trainings and getting things in order. Classes started the second week and that Friday I left for Bahamas for 10 days of field work in the Exumas. My trip to the Bahamas was pretty crazy as well! I got sick (for two whole days!), visited pigs, went snorkeling and collected tons of data. I also met some great people and had lots of productive conversations about research!

Fall Outdoor Adventures

I having been really trying to get outside for a little bit every day and do something a little bigger once a week. This has definitely been way harder than I expected! Last weekend though I went camping up in the canyon with some friends which was so fun and very needed. The leaves were bright yellow and the air was cool and crisp. I have had fall camping on my seasonal goals for the past few years and it finally happened! A friend and I also went to the harvest festival to get pumpkins which as so fun and really put me in the mood for fall.

Apple picking has also given me some hard core fall feels. The house I am renting has two beautiful apple trees so I have been trying to bake when I can and freeze as many more as I can. I made an apple pie for our camping trip and am now psyched to get creative with some other apple recipes (we seriously have so many apples)!

Meditating

One of the best things for me lately has been meditating. I took a hiatus for a while and am so so glad to be back at it. I went ahead and bought the student yearly plan on Headspace and it is so worth it. It has been about a week since I started and I am feeling so much better already! Taking a few minutes every morning really helps clear my head and puts me in a better place to start the day.

Reading

One last update! While I definitely have not had as much time for reading, I did finish Circe while in the Bahamas and loved it. If you at all like greek mythology you will love it. The whole thing is about Circe (commonly known for her role in The Odyssey) and her struggles as the not so beloved daughter of Helios. Right now I am listening to In a Dark Dark Wood on Overdrive and I am hooked. If you haven’t heard of Overdrive it is a great way to get audiobooks on loan from your local library!

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Have a great weekend!

Erin

A Backpacking Adventure…

So I have had a crazy summer filled with lots of adventures and there is one kind of hilarious one that I have been dying to share.

One of my close friends from college came out to  visit me during one of my last weeks living in Colorado. We did lots of local hiking but she really wanted to do a several day backpacking trip during her visit. We planned to do a three-day, two night backpacking trip about 45 minutes west of Boulder. We chose the route because it was close and my sister had done it last summer with her friends. Hessie trailhead (Indian Peaks Wilderness) was our start and we were going to hike the trail that runs through the Indian Peaks Wilderness, up to the Continental Divide and down to Rogers Peak Lake and then Moffat Tunnel. I included a map of our route because it is a great one to do if you are looking for a relatively low mileage but beautiful trail in the Boulder/Denver area.

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The first day was a beautiful hike up through the trees from Hessie trailhead (past the town of Eldora). Once we gained enough elevation the trees cleared and the views were amazing. There are also lots of small lakes up there that are great for fishing (we met several fishing groups along the way!). King Lake is nestled just below the divide and was such a gorgeous place to break. If I do the same trip again I would get a permit and camp near that lake (you have to get a permit during the summer for Indian Peaks Wilderness but not James Peak). We hiked up above the lake and onto the divide where we walked to the parking lot and down another trail to Pumphouse Lake. We had planned on hiking further, to Corona Lake, to camp but the site at Pumphouse was so beautiful so we decided to make camp there. The afternoon included some naps, reading and Indian food on the MSR. The real story started around 10:00pm once we were about to go to sleep.

I hadn’t really thought much of the bear warning sign at the trailhead since I have camped and hiked in Colorado a lot and never seen a bear. So we piled our food away from our tents and covered it with pots, pans and our crazy creeks (this has worked well for me in the High Uintas but was a big mistake here). We just turned the lights out in our tent when we started to hear noises outside. It sounded like something throwing things and rustling bags. It was literally terrifying… sitting in our sleeping bags listening to something rummage through our food and not knowing what it was. It was at least 30 minutes of freaking out. We didn’t wanted to go outside because habituated bears can be pretty dangerous and neither of us were about to confront a bear. When it seemed quiet we got out and did some investigating. Whatever it was had somehow taken most of our food but left our pile covering the food intact. We put everything back, got into our tent and started hearing noises again. Instead of sitting there freaking out in the dark we turned our lights on and listened to a podcast/music (not sure this is the best practice but it worked for us). The next morning we were making tea and saw some marmots on the snowfield across the lake… it was probably marmots although a bear definitely makes for a better story.

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They only food we had left was our snacks (trail mix and a few Cliff bars) and a jar of peanut butter. We probably could have finished our trip as scheduled however we would have been super hungry hiking out on the third day. After some though we decided we would keep going and try to hike what we would have done in two days in one day (i.e. hike out to the trailhead). In order to get picked up we had to get service somehow. Luckily we were going straight up onto the divide which was in clear sight of Winter Park. This hike up on the divide is around 4-5 miles and is absolutely gorgeous. The 360 degree views are stunning. We started our decent back down the East side of the divide just before James Peak. The decent is so steep and pretty long (coming up would be pretty rough). There are several lakes nestled into the mountains just below the divide (at tree line). We had intended to camp here (at Rogers Peak Lake) and it would have been beautiful. There were so many incredible wildflowers and great camping spots. We continued around 6 miles down to the Moffat tunnel were my sister picked us up.

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My piece of advice regarding food on backpacking trips is: do your research! The safest thing is probably a bear barrel or hanging your food however if you are in an area with NO grizzlies it seems people generally leave their food inside packs.

Such an adventure!

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Erin

Backpacking CO Route 2018

Major Life Update

Clearly I have taken a major hiatus from blogging. I was starting to feel like I just did not have the time and was questioning why I was blogging in the first place. A big part of both being busy and questioning what I am doing began with a huge career step that I was not really expecting to happen right now. I will be attending Utah State University as a PhD student in a biology lab. My research focus will be looking at the effects of anthropogenic disturbances on the physiology of the Bahaman Rock Iguana. It is going to be a long but exciting journey that will likely take the next six years of my life. I will be moving up to Logan, Utah in early August. Working out the details for this has taken lots of time and thought which has led to some neglect in other areas of my life. I am very excited however and have begun to plan out and my lists of priorities for the coming year. I have the fall semester almost entirely figured out, including classes and research. The last piece that has caused some stress is housing in Utah. I did not realize just how hard it is to find housing when you don’t live in (or close to) that place. With most of the details fleshed out I have started to think about some other things, including my blog.

Over the past few days I sort of re-realized my reasons for blogging. I thought a lot about why I started this project in the first place. During my senior year of college I was feeling very burnt out and overwhelmed by work. I have always loved school but at this point it had begun to feel like work I had to do and not at all like what I wanted to be doing. I think there were many factors that contributed to this feeling that were both circumstantial and stemmed from my own mental state. As my future plans have solidified and I begin to prepare for the years to come I am realizing that I am jumping straight back into the world of biology and academia. I do love this world but I learned in college that I need to have a creative outlet that is not in that world in order to continue to be happy and productive. So in essence I am getting back into my blog but will be making some changes.

In 2016 I had started reading and exploring different blogs. I had started my own in December of 2016 but was really just experimenting. As the year progressed I realized how much I was in need of a creative outlet. There are a lot of things I wish I had done differently that year but now I am going to take this opportunity to change some things. While I very much want to continue blogging, I am going to change my posts a little bit. I want to put a lot more time and effort into single posts which is kind of tough considering I am about to be in graduate school. Because of that I will probably not be posting as much, but I will focus on quality. I also want to rethink my content a little bit, but I will do a bigger post on that in a few weeks.

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Erin

Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

This is super delayed but I still wanted to get my capsule wardrobe post up from April. It was probably my favorite so far! I chose blue as my staple color and tried to use yellow as a background and for accessories because I am loving how bright and happy it makes me feel.

Denim dress: A classic denim dress or skirt is a great wardrobe staple for casual days. I really liked adding this into my challenge because it was so comfortable and looks fantastic. J. Crew has a great simple option and I also love this Madewell denim shirtdress.

Striped dress: This was the first time I included two dresses in one capsule wardrobe. I don’t usually do it because it can be a little harder to made multiple outfits out of two dresses. I chose these to very intentionally so one would fit under the other and still be comfortable. This is a fantastic, affordable blue and white striped dress from J. Crew Factory.

White t-shirt: You can really never go wrong with a white t-shirt. I highly recommend having several in your wardrobe. They are so easy to style, very comfortable and incredibly versatile. There are lots of options out there, so I will only link a few but I highly recommend doing your on research to find those of quality, that aren’t too see-through and that are your style. I like this Madewell one and this J. Crew shirt. Also this one is also has a fun little twist in the back. Reformation also has multiple options that take the classic white tee in a different direction.

Blue button down:  A button down continues to be essential to the capsule wardrobe challenge. It is just so versatile and easy to manipulate in different ways. L.L. Bean always has great quality button down shirts also Reformation has some more summery styles.

White sneakers: Like the white t-shirt, white sneakers are a wardrobe staple that can be dressed up or down depending on the day. I have Converse but am highly considering the classic Stan Smiths. Vans (slip ons) and Keds have some great options as well. I actually wore my sisters Keds for this challenge.

Day 1:

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Day 2:

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Day 3:

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Day 4:

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Day 5:

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Thanks for stopping by!

Erin

Casual Trail Walking

SO this post is going up much later than I expected. I had a whole bunch of posts planned and started for the end of April but the WiFi in Nebraska would not let me upload any pictures no matter what I tried. So I am just going to be releasing all those posts from April throughout the next week.

This is the perfect spring/summer casual outfit. I love it! It is so comfortable but also very cute and great for warmer weather. My mom and I headed out for a walk on Earth Day on Bobolink Trail in East Boulder. It is a great trail for mountain views and it follows a nice little creek. I haven’t had great internet here in Nebraska so finishing blog posts has been tough.

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Shirt similar, Shorts similar, Sunglasses Amazon, Shoes Keds, Hat similar

Erin

Rainy Days

The last couple of days have been really rainy (we even had a little snow). We always need moisture over here so it was a great way to end the week. I spent some time getting cozy with a book and a good cup of tea on Friday and went out for a fun adventure on Saturday. The rain gave me a great excuse to try my new rain gear. I really loved both the umbrella and the yellow rain jacket! They have held up well so far and I love how the umbrella covers so much.

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I hope you are having a good weekend!

Erin