Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Updates and Link Love (powered by snacks, naps, and tired legs) July 13, 2013

Filed under: Boston,Food,Travel — Stephanie @ 10:11 am
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Inspired by many of you (especially NZ Muse, with her link loves powered by assorted things)

These past few weekends were awesome.  So I’m going to share about them.  And stay tuned to the end for some links to blog posts by other bloggers that I really enjoyed this week.

2 weekends ago, my sister and brother-in-law came to visit.  They haven’t visited in ages, so we packed the weekend with lots of food and fun!

Food:  Instead of taking them to the tourist traps (we considered them, but too pricey/overrated!), we took them to some of our favorite local restaurants.  I’ll share the list with you, but don’t all go there, or there will never be any room for me! 🙂

Tenoch Mexican, Delicious Mexican food (especially, in my opinion, their tortas and horchata)
Boston Burger Company (epic burgers with all sorts of awesome)
Trident Booksellers and Cafe (both times I’ve been there, I’ve gotten their Lemon Ricotta French Toast.  Also, they have Poutine!)
Flatbreads (you can’t go wrong with their salads, pizza, and beer (though we forgot to leave room for their desserts!))

Fun:  Friday was museum day:  Isabella Stewart Gardner museum AND the Museum of Fine Arts Boston!  We managed to get discounted prices by getting passes from the local library.  Quite a few of the libraries around here offer passes for free or discounted tickets to the area’s top tourist locations.  Definitely a deal.  Other discounts to try:  Your employer, AAA, or other memberships (especially teacher’s unions).  Walking throughout both museums definitely tired us out!

Saturday, we amped up our walking by touring Boston on foot.  Parked in Kenmore square, then walked down Commonwealth, Newbury, and Boylston all the way to Boston Public Garden, then through to Boston Common, where we started walking on the Freedom Trail.  We didn’t take an official tour, but followed the red brick/painted line all the way to Faneuil Hall and the Union Oyster House.  At that point, we decided it was time to head home.  But instead of taking the T back to Kenmore, we walked ALL THE WAY BACK!  This time crossing past City Hall, then going back through the Common and Garden, then taking the tree-lined (i.e. shaded) walkway on Commonwealth all the way back.

Yes, we tired ourselves out.

The following week included the 4th of July in Boston(we watched the awesome fireworks from Storrow Drive), then a drive up to Vermont for some relaxing.  Well, not JUST relaxing.  We also went for an early morning hike up (and down) Mt. Abraham (total time: 3hrs 36 minutes, which included a few stops along the way to enjoy the view), and then headed to the Farmer’s Market to walk around and enjoy some tasty food.  The rest of that weekend was really just lots of reading books and napping.  YES.

Speaking of books, I just finished reading Helaine Olen‘s book, Pound Foolish, about the dark side of the personal finance industry.  I’ll try to write up a review of that soon.  And I’m most of the way through Paddy Hirsch‘s Man vs. Markets.  I’ll review that as well once I’m done.

Oh, and if all that walking and hiking wasn’t enough, I’ve ramped back up my running.  So that might also cause some tired legs.  Though I have started wearing the ProCompression socks I got recently.  I’d heard good stuff about them, and compression gear in general, so I figured I’d buy a pair to try them out.  I tend to wear them after runs/to bed.  (and I wore them on the 4th of July, because the pair I got was so darn patriotic!) A few friends on twitter had asked what I thought of them, so here’s my short review:  it feels good to wear them after a run.  I don’t know if they’re actually helping with faster recovery as most compression gear is supposed to do.  But they do make my legs feel better.  (p.s. I bought them on sale, and apparently all their stuff is on sale for 40% off+ free shipping until August 4th using the coupon code JULY)

And now for the link love I promised.  Just two today, but I did read a lot of good stuff this week:

Krystal of Give Me Back My Five Bucks wrote about the latest idea discussed this week regarding paying for college.  The proposal:  Instead of taking out loans, you pay a percentage of your salary for the next 20-25 years after college.  Krystal touched on quite a few of the points I was thinking of, and the commenters have also made some really excellent points as well.  Check out her post!

I happened across a post from someone I hadn’t been following before, but I really liked it (and will now follow her :P) She wrote about how she’s gotten sick of the health and fitness “ambassador” programs.  If you’re unfamiliar with these programs, they’re basically blogging/social media networks that, at their core, are just groups of people interested in health and fitness.  But many of these programs connect with brands, and then the bloggers are given free stuff in exchange for tweeting/facebooking/blogging about the brands or products.  And so Carly wrote about how she wont be involved in any of this branded speech from now on.  I agree with her on many points.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love free stuff as much as the next person, and will review things that I like (and even some stuff that I’ve even gotten for free!), but I want to be open and honest and not have to conform to a brand’s marketing plan.  I tweet about brands I genuinely love, and review books I’ve read and products I’ve tried.  I have reviewed things in the past that I’ve experienced for free, but have always disclosed it, and I hope you never would think I’m trying to market anything to you.  I like sharing my opinions on things, so hopefully you enjoy reading them and know that they’re completely honest!  Please let me know if you ever think I’m not keeping up with this standard!

Well, that’s over 1000 words in one not-so-short update.  I guess I had a lot to say.  Maybe I should try to update more often, eh?

So, have you recently been a tourist in your own town?  Do you only check out the sites when tourists are visiting?  Have you tried any of the restaurants I mentioned?  Do you have another favorite restaurant to add to the list?

Read any good books lately?  Found any awesome links you’d like to share?

What do you think of Krystal and Carly’s posts?  Agree or disagree with their stance?

Don’t worry, more blog posts coming soon, including more of the Graduate’s Guide to Being a Grownup series, some book reviews, and plenty more.  I’m still blogging!

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Getting the Pure Barre experience March 10, 2013

Filed under: Boston,Fitness — Stephanie @ 10:46 pm
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Disclaimer:  I was invited to this class for free through Blog and Tweet Boston, a group that organizes events for local Bostonian bloggers/tweeters.  The expectation was that after we all met up for this class, we would write about our experience.  So, this is what I’m doing…right now!  All the opinions are my own.

Last Saturday (a little over a week ago) I met up with a bunch of Boston-area fitness bloggers at Pure Barre Boston.  It’s on Newbury Street right near Mass Ave.  Pretty close to where the J.P. Licks used to be.

To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I assumed everyone would be a pro at this sort of thing, since they’re all legit fitness bloggers.  You know, compared to me, the personal finance blogger who also blogs about fitness, Boston, and STEM.  But I still was excited to try it out!

A fun part of the meetup was putting faces to twitter handles.  Maureen and I discovered we were already following each other online!  And there were quite a few other great people there that I already followed (on twitter).

For the class, they had an instructor, Fiona, plus a few other experienced individuals  (including the owner) around as extra models to follow (and to guide us if we’re not doing the workouts quite right).

The facility definitely had a zen feel to it,  with sparse color and lots of windows to let in natural light.  It was very crisp and clean.  The studio itself had two walls of floor-to-ceiling mirrors and one wall with windows.  There was a ballet barre on every wall.  There was a cool chandelier and maybe some skylights if I recall correctly.  The floor was carpeted for a cushioned workout.  Like I said, very zen.  I think I could live there 😛

Okay, now for the workout itself.  There was fast-paced music with a good beat throughout the entire class that we were to keep in time with.  The style of the barre method was to focus on specific body parts, doing exercises to strengthen certain muscles one at a time.  Pretty much every exercise involved multiple repetitions of very small changes, moving the body or appendage just an inch or so in and out of position.  Or as it’s described on the Pure Barre website, “small, isometric movements”.  Which sounds way better than what I said.

As they mention on that Technique page as well, there are multiple components to the class:  Warmup (which was mostly arm work), Thigh Work (I felt like my legs were burning up during this part), Seat work (tone that butt!), and Abs Work.  And of course some stretching after each component.  The Thigh and Seat exercises were the most intense; they were fast paced and really forced me to keep using muscles that I wanted to stop using.  The nice part of the Abs exercises is that they easily transition into a cooldown of sorts, lying on the ground and then doing some final stretches.

For the entire class, there is a focus on posture and proper form, and also “tucking” your hips in.  Which to me felt kind of like I was doing hip thrusts.  The goal is to roll your hips forward and up.  We did a lot of repetitive tucking during the class.

There were a few aspects of yoga (with certain stretches and positions), but not as much ballet as I had expected.   I think we stood at 1st, 4th, or 5th position for some of the exercises, and we stood at a barre for some of them, and we had to keep good posture.  But no leaping or dancing really.  Don’t worry, then, if you don’t know ballet (or yoga, or any other activities, for that matter).  It’s a little confusing for beginners, but easy to pick up what’s going on.  Especially when the instructor helps you.   It was a tough class.  But it was really neat to try out and I definitely got a workout.  Plus it was super cool to meet fellow Boston bloggers and try something new.

Would I recommend it?  Would I go again?

Well, you know me.  I’m always concerned about money.  So, pricing:  A single class at the Boston location is $23.  Or you can buy multiple classes up front at a discount (you know, like any bulk purchase), which brings the cost down by a few dollars per class.  They also offer monthly memberships for unlimited classes (though you need to sign up for each class individually, and I don’t know how fast the classes fill up).  The most appealing (to me) of course is their New Client Special, which is $100 for unlimited classes for one month.  Though, knowing me, I’d try to go as often as possible to get my money’s worth!  Which could be a little crazy.

The other issue (for me at least) would be on how to get there.  It’s steps away from the Hynes Convention Center T stop, which is super convenient for Boston commuters.  But not so convenient for me living way out in Medford.  So getting there, either by taking a long walk/bus/T ride would not be ideal.  Or trying to find (and pay for) parking in Boston.  Still, if you can get there easily, it would work.  There are other locations outside of Boston, but I don’t know if that would be any easier.

As for the program itself, I have a feeling I would probably see really good results if I started going on a regular basis.  It was hard work while I was there, but I was surprised not to be aching from it at all the next day.  Does that mean I was doing something wrong, or something right?

If I found an easier way to get to the class, I’d probably buy the $100 intro package.  And then take a bunch of classes.  Like a crazy person.

Have any of you tried out Pure Barre?  Or any other barre-related classes?  Do you like the technique?  Do you have any more questions for me about my experience?

(Oh, as a note, you can check out some other people’s reviews.  They all had cameras/smart phones, so they took pictures, if you’re hoping to get a better idea of the place.  Style Method (her last picture has me with my back to the camera in my blue shirt), Fabulous Life of a Natural Disaster, Boston Rookie (I’m in a few of her pictures, too :P, and you can see that chandelier I mentioned), A Girl’s Gotta Balance, Healthy Chicks, Kissing Frogs, Urban Guide to Life.  Did I miss any?)

 

Walk for Hunger: My first fitness+fundraising adventure April 20, 2012

Filed under: Boston,Fitness,Food — Stephanie @ 6:12 pm
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I’ve done “fun runs” in the past.  I’ve even finished a few 5ks.  But this is something new.

I signed up as a walker for the 20-mile walk around Boston.  I might be crazy.

My first fitness+fundraising event will be the Walk For Hunger, the oldest continual pledge walk in the country.  It is the main fundraising event each year for Project Bread, a Massachusetts-based charity dedicated to alleviating, preventing, and ultimately ending hunger in Massachusetts.

I’ve never done an athletic event to raise money.  I know so many people who do, but between my lack of athletic ability and my discomfort at asking people for donations, it never happened.

I found out that our company has a pretty big walking team (and a lot of volunteers) for the Walk For Hunger, and I wanted to spread the word among my colleagues.  I figured I couldn’t tell people about it without doing it myself!

So, I signed up.  I donated a little bit of money to get things going, and then I spread the word.  I posted it on facebook, my gchat status, and twitter.  I posted information on my cubicle to let my colleagues know they could walk, volunteer, or pledge a donation.

There are three main ways to participate for the Walk for Hunger on Sunday, May 6th:

As a walker:  You can sign up to walk part of or all of the 20-mile route.  If 20 miles is too much for you (and maybe it might be too much for me, we’ll see!) there are shuttles at each of the checkpoints to take you back to the starting/finish line in Boston Common.  I have a colleague who pledged per mile, because he doesn’t think I can walk the whole thing.  Well, I’ll prove him wrong!  You can join as an individual walker, start a walk team, or join a team with friends, family, or colleagues.  As an added incentive to walk, there will be refreshments and entertainment all along the walk route to keep you going!

As a volunteer:  If you’re not keen on walking, there are plenty of other ways to help out.  Check out these descriptions of possible volunteer opportunities.

With Donations:  You can donate to an individual walker or volunteer or make a general gift to the Walk for Hunger.  Like I said earlier, I’ve never personally done one of these fundraising events before.  So I was overjoyed to see how many of my friends from work, school, and twitter were willing to support the program by donating through me!

If you’d like to donate through my page, I would be so thankful!

Many of my twitter pals already donated!  So I’d like to thank them here:

Everyone else who donated so far is not on twitter (to the best of my knowledge).  But thank you all so much!

Have you ever participated in a walk/run/jog/dance for hunger/curing a disease/raising awareness/etc.?  Are you participating in the Walk for Hunger this year?  Do you hate me for making a post that all lead up to me asking you for money?

 

A trip to Haymarket July 15, 2008

Filed under: Boston,Fitness,Food,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 2:33 pm
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Just wanted to post briefly on a trip my boyfriend and I took to Haymarket.  For those of you not familiar with Haymarket, it’s basically an open-air produce market downtown in Boston, near Faneuil Hall.  It’s a bit of a Boston landmark, and I’ve been there before, but sometimes it can be a bit of a tourist trap (the most expensive produce tends to be at the ends).  There’s a lot of produce to choose from, but you have to keep in mind that most of the fruit and vegetables are right at their peak freshness.  You’ll be tempted by the prices, but don’t buy more than you need, unless you’re good at preserving/freezing/storing fruit and vegetables.  I remember a few years ago I went, and fell prey to the beauty of cheap and fresh fruit.  Needless to say, plenty of the fruit I bought went bad before I could enjoy it.

To give you an idea of what the prices are, we paid $1 for 8 peaches, $1 for 10 limes (we’ll be making limeade), $1 for a pineapple, $1 for 4 apricots, $1 for a pound of strawberries, and $1 for a bag of 4 garlic bulbs.  I think the price for 3lbs of bananas and 3 limes were also $1.  So yes, it’s cheap.  It’s definitely exciting to get such good deals, and my boyfriend and I have be getting good use out of my magic bullet food processor/blender that I got for Christmas to make all sorts of different fruit smoothies.

Another thing to note is that not all the fruit and vegetables are locally grown.  Much of the produce comes from the Chelsea Produce Terminal nearby.  The vendors at Haymarket find the best deals in Chelsea during the week and then sell them to consumers on Friday and Saturday. (read this news story for more information).

There are also stores in Haymarket that sell fresh meat, fish, cheese, and bread.  I’ve never bought anything from that group, but I’m guessing they’re good deals as well.

I’d like to think that this trip to Haymarket was also helping out my plan to be a healthier person.  We walked around and window-shopped afterward (well, I did go into Crate and Barrel and buy a $3 juicer for the limeade, a bit of an impulse buy), but we got quite a bit of walking in, and it was a beautiful day.  I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but I’ve been using MapMyRun to track how much I’ve been exercising.  Granted, most of the walking I do is to and from the subway, but I was excited to find that our walk around Downtown combined with our walk to and from the T added up to 4.13 miles.  Yeah, that’s pretty awesome!  I was also able to enter my workouts that I mentioned in a previous post.  If you enter enough information, it will give you an approximate number of calories that you burned, or the pace that you ran/walked, which I think is pretty cool.  And of course, eating plenty of fruit is a pretty healthy move.  I’m thinking if I’m craving something sweet, it’s better to eat a peach than some ice cream!

So, there’s my review of Haymarket, and MapMyRun, I guess.  I’ve got some pretty exciting news about my job search, but I’ll wait until everything is official before I post…stay tuned!

 

Chocolate Bar Buffet June 7, 2008

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely LOVE chocolate. And even if you don’t know me, now you know!

Last Saturday, I went to a chocolate buffet.

Yes, you read correctly. It was a buffet of chocolate. For a while now a few friends kept mentioning it and wondering aloud how I’ve never been there when I’m such a chocolate fan. So they invited me and my boyfriend out to the chocolate bar.   If you’re in Boston, you should definitely go.  It’s at the Langham Hotel in Boston.

Let me tell you…it was AMAZING! They had many different pastries, cookies, mousses, truffles, petite fours. They made chocolate crepes for you (en flambe, if you please!) with fresh fruit and other fillings. They made cold-stone style ice cream with your favorite fillings. There was a huge chocolate fountain for dipping, with strawberries, pineapple pieces, pretzels, marshmallows, and cake pieces nearby to dip. They were making cotton candy, freshly baked chocolate cookies, chocolate bread pudding. There were sampler “shots” (small glasses filled with dessert). The S’mores sampler included graham cracker crumbs, chocolate mousse, and marshmallow topping. They had dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate.  They had three different chocolate “soups” available; the soups were really just thick hot chocolates.  I was about to go for the dark chocolate soup (I love dark chocolate!) when I saw “Wicked Chocolate Soup”.  I knew I had to get that.  It was so good!  If you’d like, click here for a pdf of their menu.

I highly recommend you go.  It’s a bit pricey, at $35 per person for adults, but it’s something you should definitely try, even once.  Yes, it’s a bit overwhelming.  Yes, you’re probably going to end up stuffing yourself silly.  But it’s fun for a special occasion.  In fact, there was a bridal shower going on there that day…what an AWESOME idea!

 

Discounts all over Boston! May 19, 2008

So, I don’t know when this started, but I was on the MBTA website today and they had a link to a page listing businesses around Boston who are participating in a discount program (and what the discounts are). You show them your Charlie Card and you get either a discount on your purchases, or a free ticket/product/etc. I’m especially excited to see there’s a discount on Ben & Jerry’s locations around Boston…mmmmm.

Just figured I’d share with my fellow Boston-ites (and anyone who comes to visit).

Oh, and by the way, I’ve been updating Mrs. Micah’s brainchild, The Finwikian, in particular, the site for 20-something bloggers…you all should add your blogs to the list! (and to The Finwikian in general!)

 

Another haircut discussion March 6, 2008

Filed under: Boston — Stephanie @ 9:50 pm
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As a warning, there’s no real personal finance story here…mostly just a review of a hair salon.  I guess the only finance related part is that I spent way less on a haircut that I might have if I had gone to a super fancy salon in Boston.

The last time I got a haircut, I mentioned a list of places to get your hair cut in and around the Davis Square area. This time, I didn’t go to Supercuts…I went to Salon Femia. I called to make an appointment (though they do accept walk-ins) for 7:00pm. I was the last appointment of the night. Because it was stormy that night, but I had gotten there early, I just sat and waited inside while the people ahead of me got their hair done. The receptionist and the hairdresser (is that what I should call her?) were both really friendly and chatted with me and the other customers while we were there. Most likely because I was the last appointment, and because one of the girls ahead of me was getting a lot of highlights and such, they took me for my appointment a little late. I wasn’t really too bothered by it, because I got some reading in, and didn’t have to get home any time soon. The receptionist shampooed my hair, and then the hairdresser that was there that night, Ornella, got to work on my hair. Since I didn’t really have a preference what was done to my hair as long as I looked good, I just let her go to work on it, and surprise me with something good.

And I think she did. And for $35 + tip, I think it was a pretty good haircut!

Okay, so yes, this is another one of those review posts I’ve been doing. But hopefully this might help someone find a reasonably priced haircut in the Davis Square Area.