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2011 in Pictures

Happy 2012!

The best pictures from 2011:

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I just really like this picture


Thanks, Julio and Rebecca!

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Wanted: an Erin

I know, I know, I haven’t posted in far too long. My fault. I have been working on a little project called planning a wedding, which takes far more time than I would have guessed. Dan and I are also planning a trip to Argentina in two weeks (!) to visit my little sister in Buenas Aires where she is studying abroad. Since my last post, I visited my grandparents in New York when they traveled across the country with my mom to attend my grandfather’s 65th West Point reunion, Dan and I moved into a lovely two bedroom apartment, we traveled back to Colorado for Ben and Kate’s wedding, and we traveled to Charlottesville, VA for a weekend getaway, only to get stuck there when all of the trains back to DC were cancelled due to Hurricane Irene. At first, it was fun to have an extra day in wine country, but when the trains on Monday were cancelled as well, we became a bit frustrated and had to join many other very frustrated people on an overbooked and two-hour delayed Greyhound bus back to DC. Fall soccer has started up and so far, our team is 1 win, 1 tie, and vying for a playoff spot. I traveled to Memphis, TN with the White House Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative, and as hoped, there is already a place in my heart for Memphis; I am looking forward to returning to work on some health initiatives and to drink some more Blues City Brew. I am still working a lot and enjoying trying my hardest to make health care work a little bit better. Speaking of which, Dan wrote me an email while he was waiting for me to get home this evening and it was so good, I just have to post it:

I am posting an ad on Craigslist…

Looking for an Erin; I lost my Erin and I don’t know where she is. I need a new Erin soon as I am sad with out her. I have her dog, so replacement Erin will have to like dogs and dog walking. If replacement Erin comes with cooking and cleaning skills, that is a plus. I do most of the cooking for current Erin, but she does have a few specialties like meat sandwich, which you will be responsible for. Lost Erin had a good sense of humor and would put up with most of my shit, this will be expected of new Erin as well, if you think I am too shitty, realize that this is a progressively funded relationship, so I have to pay about 10% more, but Erin replacement has to put up with 10% more shit, so it evens out. New Erin should like to travel and be willing to help plan our future trip around the world, being a travel leader is advisable as I will likely get tired and scared and spend the entire trip at an internet cafe reading about the countries I am in. Please reply as soon as possible, old Erin is still missing, and the dog and I need dinner.

Family Outside of Grandma's House

Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, Me, and my grandma's cousin, Irma, where my grandma grew up

Grandma and Grandpa dancing

Grandma and Grandpa can still cut a rug, at the West Point Reunion

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One of my friends recently asked for some advice on figuring out where to go to grad school, and I figured, that given that most of those decisions are due next week, I would just share some advice with everyone.

From my experience, there are three major deciding factors:
First (and most importantly) — are there people working or teaching in the department who do the kind of work that you want to be hired to do when you finish? Are there people there who will help you get where you want to go? Could you see yourself either working with the people in the program in the future, or at least doing their kind of work?
Second — does the school have the specific track or program you are interested in? Grad school is much different from undergraduate programs in that it is a professional training school. Graduate school will prepare you to do very specific tasks and take very specific jobs. Whereas undergrad is often about learning how to think and how to learn, grad school is about learning how to manage a needle exchange program, how to analyze public heath policies, or how to set up a health clinic in a refugee camp in Libya.
Third — cost, especially if you are thinking about a program like public health. Unlike medical school or law school, you almost certainly will not earn a six figure income after you graduate. Given that a lot of post-graduation salaries with a public health degree are in the $30,000 — $50,000 range, you do not want to be in so much debt that you cannot chill and enjoy life a bit when you finish, so the financial aid that you are offered is important.

What about location?
Yes, I think that is also important, but maybe not as important as the first three items that I outlined. I have narrow experience with this, but I can offer some insight on what it was like for me to be a grad student in New York City.
Mostly — it’s hard, like really hard, with moments of complete awe thrown in from time to time. I didn’t live in student housing when I went to Columbia, and it might be easier if you do, but the housing is pretty hard to get in NYC. If you don’t live on campus, the rents are often astronomic. Further, Columbia’s School of Public Health is in Washington Heights, which is not glamourous the way you might imagine if you have ever watched Sex and the City, though it does have a great immigrant population that is incredibly friendly. The grocery stores are less than ideal; there is a lack of good fresh fruits and vegetables and it is almost impossible to find something like sun dried tomatoes. And like I said, doing things in NYC is hard — buying a gallon of milk is hard, unless you have it delivered, and buying a used couch off a friend is nearly impossible. (How are you going to move it if no one has a car?) All your furniture needs to be delivered. Also, Washington Heights is way, way, up town, it’s at least an hour to time square, an hour and a half to the lower east side, and two hours to Brooklyn (if you take public transportation), so even though you are right near EVERYTHING, it can all feel slightly out of reach. A person who lives in Washington Heights and has a girlfriend in Brooklyn will refer to it as a long distance relationship. New York City is darker, cloudier, rainier and way colder than I imagined. And even though I grew up in Colorado, I had never worn long underwear as regularly as I did in NYC, because not only is it rainy and COLD, but you have to walk around a lot (especially, if like me, you are working and going to school and trying to have even a little bit of a social life). The apartments have roaches (even the student housing) and both of the places I lived became infested with bedbugs. It’s totally possible to live comfortably in NYC — to shop at very nice grocery stores, take cabs around, go out to AMAZING dinners, see great shows, get your furniture delivered, and live with minimal roaches and bedbugs, but it takes way more money than I had.

All that said, I made great friends in NYC, from all over the world. I spent whole evenings sitting on rooftops, drinking red wine and eating chocolate and contemplating the world with my best friends. I went out to great brunches, ate the best dinners of my life, saw phenomenal shows, went to the coolest clubs, and spent days just hanging out at the UN — experiences that you don’t get if you go somewhere where it is easier to live. I also loved my immigrant neighbors in Washington Heights — I love that the nephew of the bodega owner on my block got tears in his eyes and said that he would need at least a week to plan my good bye party when he heard I was leaving and that the Dominican Democratic political activist who owned the hardware store on the next block offered me advice on everything from my career to starting a family. And I loved the morir sonandos that you can buy on the street. But I always felt like a tourist (a good tourist), but still, it never really felt like home.

One of my favorite things about going to grad school in NYC is that everywhere else I will ever live will feel really, really easy. $1500 for a one bedroom on a tree-lined block of DC?? Sign me up!! That, and because I really wanted to know what it was like to live in the city, and now I do.

So, there is some advice to the masses that are making this decision in the next couple of weeks. What do you think are important considerations? Did I miss anything?

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Engaged!

I have been meaning to write a blog post for a while. I was planing to post an update about the Christmas trip to Mexico, but that post has been overtaken by recent events, at least for now. I will say that neither Christmas in Mexico, nor a guitar player singing “Feliz Navidad” are overrated.

Dancing on a roof in Mexico

Dancing on a roof in Mexico

Kissing in Mexico

Kissing in Mexico

Jumping on a roof in Mexico

Jumping on a roof in Mexico

Last night, Dan proposed to me in front of the Capitol.

I worked kind of late on Friday, a usual thing for me since there is just always lots to finish up at the end of the week. I walked home and arrived around 8:30. I was greeted by a very excited puppy dog who was contentedly munching on a bone. Dan had fed and walked the pup and told me to get ready for dinner because we had reservations at one of our favorite places in the city, Bistro Cacao, where we last ate on our four year dating anniversary. I got ready quickly and we headed out to dinner. As per usual, the food and drinks were amazing. When we left the restaurant, Dan told me to follow him, in the opposite direction of our place, and let’s not forget that it was pretty cold here last night. We passed a bar on the corner where I thought we might be heading. Then we passed another restaurant/bar that we had talked about trying sometime (called The Monocle, which we like mostly for its name). It was the last business in sight. We kept walking and headed towards the Senate office buildings. By now, I had a sense that something was up. After a few more blocks, Dan looks up and says, “I got a bit turned around” — classic. We walked another block and I pointed out the Capitol. Dan said, “great” and we headed right for it. As we walked up along it’s right side, I told myself to try to remember this moment and I remember clearly looking up at the Statue of Freedom. Dan put the to-go box down on a pile of snow and rummaged through his coat pocket. He pulled out a box and then threw his ski jacket down on the snow. He got down on one knee, and said something like, “Well, I followed you out to this city, so I figured it made sense to do this here, in the center of it. Erin Ashley Miller, will you marry me.” By then, I was laughing, and I said yes. He said, “well, then let me put this on.” After a bit of hesitation as I tried to remember which hand these things go on, he slipped it on to my ring finger. We kissed for a bit in front of the Capitol and started walking towards home, though, by then, I was no longer cold.

Engaged

Engaged


The Ring

The Ring


The ring is beautiful. I keep looking at my hand as I do different things and thinking about how great it looks. It looks awesome holding a wine glass, it looks awesome resting on my shoulder, it looks awesome getting cereal out of the box, and it looks awesome typing up this blog post. It is, unfortunately, slightly too big, so we will have to get it re-sized, but I am not willing to part with it for a couple of days just yet.

I woke up this morning and realized that aside from feeling the ring on my finger, nothing really felt too different — kind of like after you have a birthday and someone asks if you feel any older — “no, I feel pretty much like I did yesterday.” I explained this to one of my best friends, and she said, “yeah, you should know that’s pretty much how it feels when you get married too.” And, well, I suppose that’s perfect.

Check out Dan’s post and see more pictures.

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2010 in Pictures

Happy Winter Solstice!

I am happy to have a (small) evergreen tree, decorated in lights, (and stuffed with presents) in homage to this day when we finally begin to get a bit more sunshine.

Dan and I are headed to PV (Puerto Vallarta) for Christmas, where we are meeting up with his mom, brother, and sister-in-law. It is predicted to be a high of 79 degrees there on Friday.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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Butter Sage Sauce

I have been a bad blogger. Turns out that starting a new job, traveling to four weddings, taking part in the annual traditional family summer vacation in Vail, going on a long weekend with Dan to Colonial Williamsburg, and hosting a number of visitors including my wonderful, amazing brother, has made for a very busy summer. It’s freezing outside right now (OK, its 50 degrees), the leaves are falling, and I feel like fall completely snuck up on me. Maybe the cooler weather will mean that I have time to download my pictures off my camera, organize them, and write about some stuff — I’ll cross my fingers but I won’t hold my breath.

In the meantime, I have been meaning to share some recipes here, and I have been asked for this one, so here it is —

Butter Sage Sauce (This is my own combination of a number of different recipes and I encourage everyone to experiment with it.)

Ingredients:
8 sage leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup cheese (good Parmesan)
4 TB butter
1/4 tsp dried red pepper (or one chopped Tabasco pepper from your window garden)
optional: chopped peppers, tomatoes

Directions:
Brown the butter
Remove from heat
Then add: spices, lemon juice, cheese
Stir and serve over pasta — I recommend ravioli

If you add peppers or tomatoes, put them in the butter as soon as it starts to melt. It takes longer for the butter to brown, but everything else works the same.

Butter Sage Ravioli

Butter Sage Ravioli


Butter Sage Gnocchi with Peppers

Butter Sage Gnocchi with Peppers

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