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Hey Loves! I’m Caitlyn the girl behind ChemGradBoom. A blog about taking life with a little salt, a slice of lime and shot of tequila or life of a graduate student, whichever version you prefer!

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Monday, September 26, 2016

My Workout Gear Wishlist

Since starting the consistently going to the gym/working out over 4 months ago, I have grown to love it. I used to be a gym hater/idiot/quitter, never having any idea what to do, hating every second of cardio, and consistently ending my goal to 'get fit'.

Now with my new found happiness and my regular gym date during the week, I am on the hunt for some new workout gear. One of the perks of having a new routine is making sure that you have enough gear to cover you for the full week because doing laundry every other day is not fun. So here it is my Workout Gear Wishlist, also if you have any recommendations on your favorite gear please let me know!

 Foam Roller // Gym Team Bag // Training Tights // Resistance Bands

Workout Clothes

2. A go-to gym jacket.  Most of the time after leaving the gym, I have no desire to put something extra warm on. A light-weight and stylish jacket would be an amazing and I personally love the colors on the one above!

5. A new pair of gym sneakers and I am loving the above options. I managed to grab a pair at a Nike outlet a few months ago, but would love to add another pair to my options. 

6. You can never have enough gym tights to pick from! I need to add 2 or 3 more pairs that way I have enough for the whole week. One thing that I am always on the hunt for is tights that I could also use on my casual weekend days. 

7. A proper sports bra so I no longer have to double up on sports bras. I currently have a few not so great sports bras that I use, the only problem is that I have to wear 2 for each gym session. Having a proper sports bra would fix my problem and make sure that I can do weight training, HIIT and everything else all while my girls are taken care of! 

8. Possibly one of the biggest holes in my gym clothes wardrobe is shirts. I have 2, yes ONLY TWO, real workout shirts. I have some over t-shirts that I use for my other gym sessions, but having a few more shirts must happen soon! 

Workout Gear / Extra Items

1. My own personal foam roller to keep at home! Since starting focusing on weights at the gym sometimes my muscles are just dead at the end and killing me for days after the workout. That was until I started foam rolling, a painful and amazing thing to add to my routine! 

3. A new gym bag that will work for my early morning gym sessions meaning that I need to pack my 'get ready essentials' , shower essentials, and a change of clothes. I have been using a combination of a backpack and a tote bag to carry my uni and gym essentials. Something that I could constantly have ready for the gym would be perfect!

4. One of the newest wishlist items that I have added is resistance bands. Most of my workout inspirations have been coming from watching YouTube fitness people and most of them utilize resistance bands during their warm-ups , workouts, and stretches. 

So there it is my Workout Gear Wishlist like I mentioned before if you have any recommendations on gear that you love just let me know! 

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Coffee Talk #1

Happy Tuesday Morning Everyone! I hope that your week started off as planned and that the rest of your week will be amazing!

As another way of getting this blog back on track, I am going to share my monthly plans here with everyone! Considering we are already over half-way through the month, I am a bit late, but I am just getting back into blogging. Still, to start things off right I wanted to share the stuff that I hoping to work on this month (or more like 2ish weeks of September).

University Related

I recently went and presented my research at a conference and taking feedback from that I am now trying to complete a few things that will allow my project to progress! 
  • Plan out the interviews with individuals for a portion of my research. While this shouldn't be  difficult, my schedule is flexible around when is best for each individual, planning with others seems to be impossible. I am hoping to schedule 5 interviews, which should be completed by the end of the year. 
  • Get feedback about my NEW dissertation outline. With the whole change in my project focus, I have had to shift my dissertation outline/goals. I am hoping to get some feedback about how everything lines up before getting too deep into the writing process.
  • Make a timeline for my computer based research. A huge chunk of my research now involves going through online applications. While I can do this anywhere, it is a bit of a pain and way more time consuming than I originally thought. 

Personal Related 

Like the post before this, I was unhappy with myself, but I have found some ways to try and fix that. All of these personal related things are goals that not only help with my happiness by are personal challenges that I wanted to try for the month.
  • Track my eating for the rest of the month. I want to do this in order to understand/realize what all eat during the day, plus I want to try and optimize my whole 'get fit' goals.
  • Watch my spending/wasteful shopping habits. While I love to shop and buy new things, I am trying to cut back until the end of October.
  • Get on a SCHEDULE. It's a new university term and while I am technically full-time, all year long, I want to make sure to get on track and try to manage my time much better than I have been doing. 

Well, there they are my goals for September! I can only hope that at the start of October I will be able to update everyone on how I did. 

If anyone has any tips on how they stay on track with goals, please do share!?!

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Being Happy & Being Me

It's funny how well plans of mine seem to play out. I thought I was ready to get back into everything, jump in head first and kick ass.

Turns out I was wrong. The long silence (multiple ones at that) from the blog could be blamed on many things, but the one thing that I think it really came down to was being unhappy with myself.

My Ph.D. was not going great, my dreams of working in the lab and visiting sites were slipping into a research plan that never had a chance. Looking at myself in pictures and all I saw was a person I was unhappy with. My weight, my body shape, just me, in general, turned into something that I was unhappy about.

Well while I thought I was ready to step back into the blog world, the 'your life is together' world, I was mistaken.

It has been 4 months now of me working on myself, my Ph.D., my happiness and I would like to think that I have finally got my life back on a path that I am happy with.

I have been going to the gym, working out, eating better(ish) and trying to maintain a more active lifestyle. This led to me just being happier in my own skin.

I have finally reorganized my Ph.D. project into something that 'will contribute to the overall knowledge of my field'. I even managed to share my new research twice at conferences, both with overwhelming support from experts in my field.

While I am still not where I want to be, I am getting there. I am happy with the progress that I have made over the last few months and I can't wait to see how things continue to progress over time.

With this whole post, what I really want to say is that I am back. I am planning on sharing my life as a misguided Ph.D. student, my life as a person trying to be happy in their own skin and someone who plans on getting their act back together.

Hello and welcome back to ChemGradBoom.

 A blog full of nonsense ranging from the life of a student who doesn't know when to stop, a person who moved to Scotland on a whim (and dreams of being a conservation scientist) and a person who is know taking life one coffee at a time (or on most day 3 or 4).

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Travel Cheap : Accommodation

When I moved to Scotland I pictured that I would be non-stop busy with my PhD and site visits. Well truth is that I have time on my hands, or at least I can not sit in the office at University for 8 hours a day doing my research.

Once I realized that my dream PhD was a bit lackluster, I had to re-evaluate my time here in Scotland. I needed to find ways to have a balance in my life, something that I am still working on today. My solution to this 'need for balance' was to get a job.

I would be able to meet people, have some set work hours every week, and of course making money isn't a bad thing either. When I was on the job hunt I had no idea what I was looking for. I simply put in my CV into a few places and waited to see what happened.

I am now sitting here with almost a year under my belt working at a Hotel, the golden ticket to cheap accommodation when traveling . 

Yes there is my extra money that I make by working, but the absolute best part about working at a hotel is the


While budget travel often means that you need to stay via couch surfing, hostels, or on the outskirts of town--- those options simply are not my idea of a holiday.

Instead I simply search up to a year in advance for room availability anywhere and everywhere. This means that I can book a room in Bali for our anniversary for under $50 USD a night!!! A visit to Rome to stay in a 5 Star hotel at only $62 a night and visits to London for as little as $16 a night!!!!

These staff rates even include breakfast and breakfast and half price drinks and food during the stay!

Sure there is the issue of not having complete control of where and when you will get to visit a destination, but for rooms this cheap, I follow availability. 

So if you are ever looking for a part-time job that allows you to travel, my advice ----

Work at a hotel! 

If you have any other tips on how to get deep discounts on holiday, I would love to hear them! Also if you have any questions about working in a hotel or using the benefits feel free to ask! 

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Spain Mishaps

Another country down and another easy city break from Edinburgh! To start off I will say this trip has taught me some important lessons about travel planning with the BF which will come in handy for future travel.

To start the trip we landed in Barcelona with an hourish drive ahead of us to Girona. We rented a car for this trip.... This is the first interesting tidbit that happened!

The Rental Car

I was very diligent when planning this trip and knew that we would have over an hour drive away from Barcelona and a very early morning flight. This meant that the best option for this trip was renting a car, which also meant that we would be able to explore a bit of the coast! Win Win! 
Well I originally rented a automatic, but then was persuaded at the rental counter that if we were OK with a manual they had us a free upgrade. Well thing is our last car was a manual and I thought for sure that it would be no problem hopping back on to drive a manual. 

ANSWER - Wrong, I freaked out, I panicked, I absolutely fudged up trying to leave the parking lot. After a 20ish minute meltdown, all me, with the BF laughing. We decided to go back and get the automatic. Which is when my manual driving skills came back and I perfectly pulled the car back into its original spot! Oh the joke is on me it seems....

One thing is for certain if we would have been filming my car meltdown, I would forever be known as the crazy American who freaks when trying to drive a manual.

Another fun fact is that when I went to get the new keys, the guy even said I knew that an American wouldn't be able to drive a manual, enjoy the automatic! 

Barcelona Pick-Pockets

As you can imagine from the heading, another shenanigan that happened was the BF getting pick-pocketed... 
We were strolling outside the city center trying to make our way to the Arc de Triomf, when all of a sudden I hear the BF behind me saying 'No Espanol, Lo Siento' or No Spanish, I am sorry. This is when I then hear a loud bang, and the BF getting much more upset with the guys harassing him. I turn around to see a much smaller guy pushing the BF up against the door and consistently kicking at his feet. After a moment or two of more non-sense we turn around an begin to head the direction we came from. Following that a moment later, a guy stops us and returns the BFs wallet. Nothing was taken, although nothing was in there to begin with.

Lesson - Don't head outside the main parts in the city, keep a lookout for stupid guys that begin to pester you and always keep a check on your stuff. 

All in all, that moment slightly ruined Barcelona for us, which is ok because Girona was amazing and the beaches surrounding it were better than imagined. 
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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Weekend Getaway: Brussels

My first adventure in 2016 was a weekend getaway to Brussels in mid-April. Yes we went to Brussels even after the attacks and one thing was for certain I NEVER felt unsafe or scared in anyway. So today I am sharing the spots that I recommend you to see, how much everything cost us while there and waffles!

Getting to Brussels - EDI - CRL 

We flew with Ryanair (yay for cheap flights) which took us to the airport which unfortunately doesn't have a direct train line to the city center.

Total cost for a return ticket booking with Ryanair £60 per person.

What we opted to do was buy a return ticket with the Brussels City Shuttle, which runs every 30 minutes or so to the city center. In total it was about a 50 minute bus journey, but was overall very comfortable. One thing I recommend is pre-booking your ticket to avoid long lines, save money, and be able to directly hop on the bus when you arrive.

Total cost for a return ticket booking online  28 per person.

Once we got off the bus we were a short walk (15 minutes) to our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Brussels Grand Place. This was right in the city center, directly across from the main train station and a 2 minute walk to The Grand Place. Our stay here was amazing and I can not recommend a city center hotel more highly!

Total cost for a 2 night stay €121.16 (or 53 per night) on staff rate .

As for what we did, we honestly just strolled the city. We did head out to visit the Atomium, built in 1958 for the Brussels World Fair. It is a model of a iron crystal magnified over 165 billion times and is now used as a museum. Now we decided not to head up into the spheres in the Atomium and instead just strolled around and admired how massive it is. To get there we took the metro, it was easy and convenient and cost about €9 for a return ticket for both of us. Now if it is a nice day and you are headed out that way I suggest packing a picnic and visiting the park right outside the Atomium

Like I said we strolled most of the time we were in Brussels, it was nice-ish weather, minus the occasional hail storm. No worries though they only lasted a minute or two and you were fine as long as you could find shelter from getting pelted with ice balls! 

Most of our time was spent in the area around The Grand Place. Strolling around the main square meant lots of food and beer options, both of which we enjoyed to much of. As for things to see/eat/do I've included the Google Map that I used for all the things to see.

Must see sites

A peeing boy statue, better known as Manneken Pis. No joke this thing is a must see. We were lucky enough to visit when a parade was happening to honor him, for the local mustache club.

You can then visit the peeing girl statue, Jeanneke Pis, which is conveniently located right next to the Delerium Cafe aka the home of the The most varieties of beer Commercially available coming in at 2,004 in Delirium Cafe, Brussels, Belgium When counted on 9 January 2004 -- Guinness World Records.

While there we also headed to visit the Royal Museum of Art & History (called the Cinquantenaire ). While there we visited the Egyptian exhibit (the one place the BF wants to visit) which at the very end included a working research lab (aka the thing I want to do when done with my PhD). As for the rest of the museum it was in a beautiful building that seemed to be rather empty while we were there. Even if museums aren't your thing there are some amazing views around the museum that I suggest going to see. 

Final Thoughts 

This was the first 'weekend break' that we have taken and as for a Brussels I would have loved more time to explore. We had some amazing weather (compared to Scotland at least) which allowed us to enjoy the city by foot, while remembering that when we needed a quick pick me up we could hop into a pub! Overall I think that we spent right under €200 for all of our food, drinks, activities, transport (minus the flight) and souvenirs. A bit more than we had hoped for, but we really did enjoy all the beer, chocolate, and waffles! 

Just to give you an idea of some of the prices that you can expect around Brussels. 

Average Cost of Things Around Brussels

Return metro ticket : € 4.20 per person

Beer in a pub : € 3.75 

Waffle with chocolate: € 3.00

Meal  from a local street vendor: € 5-7 

Sit down meal: €10-15 (We had mussels and frites)

Fancy truffles from a chocolatier shop: €1.20 a piece or a box with 32 for €25 (great as gifts to share with people)

Anything that I should have seen in Brussels and missed? 

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