Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Announcement: the academicbride is moving!

To my loyal readers, and visitors directed here by a Google search for "T-rex jokes," an announcement:

The academicbride is changing locations. I became embarrassed about this blog title/URL approximately one week after I picked it. Unsure of how long I would keep up blogging, I didn't bother to make a change. Now that I'm no longer a bride, I'll be blogging at a new site:


Please bookmark the new site, and visit me often! See you there!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

the pleasures of the small conference

At the end of our honeymoon, Dave flew back to the US, and I headed up to the University of Leeds for a conference. I've been trying to get to smaller, more focused conferences, so I was quite excited when my abstract on Disney's Hercules was accepted. This was my first paper on a "classical reception" topic, and I was a bit nervous to present an analysis of the movie in the company of much more experienced reception scholars.

I shouldn't have worried. Because the conference was so small (50-odd attendees?), people were so friendly! Introducing themselves in the elevator, offering thoughtful remarks during discussion, approaching after talks to continue the conversation, asking real conversational questions over dinner. I didn't know that conferences could be like this. I had a blast.

But perhaps most important of all is a revelation that came out during my panel. A classicist from University of Vermont was presenting on two children's TV shows about Hercules from the '90s – Disney's "Hercules: The Animated Series" and the "Young Hercules" show on Fox. Do you remember who starred in "Young Hercules"? None other than RYAN GOSLING.

I find this irrationally hilarious, and hope you do too!

Monday, July 8, 2013


By the time we arrived in London, we were a bit tired. We forgot to plan any down-time or relaxing afternoons for our time in Spain. Oops! We'll remember for next time. We took London at our own pace and still had a great time.

We "watched" (behind a giant crowd of much taller people) the changing of the guards, and then visited Westminster Abbey. Despite the drizzly weather, we got great views of Parliament and Big Ben from the London Eye!

I really wanted to have a traditional English afternoon tea, so we went to the Horseguards Hotel. Dave proclaimed himself "very fancy" for drinking fancy tea and eating fancy pastries at a fancy hotel while a HARPIST played classical music around the corner. We made it a little less fancy – when the servers graciously offered to bring us a second sample of anything we particularly enjoyed, we asked for seconds of...everything. Keepin' it classy, folks!

Our special treat was a performance of "Wicked"! All I knew beforehand is that everyone liked it and told me that I would, too. They were right! I was a little rusty on the actual "Wizard of Oz" movie, so Dave rented it from Netflix when we got back, and we watched it last night. What a crazy story!

We rounded out our time in London with hours at the British Library and British Museum, a walk through Regents Park, and dinner on Brick Lane. I loved the yellow roses in the park. Thanks, London, for a great end to our honeymoon!

Sunday, July 7, 2013


It was hard to top Sevilla's warmth and charm, but Madrid had plenty to offer. We went for late-night freshly-fried churros dipped in hot chocolate, gorged on paella, and walked around the packed squares at night. And we saw amazing works of art at the Prado and the Reina Sofia museums. No photos allowed, unfortunately, but here's a little sample of stuff you can see in Madrid (all works I recognized from my high school history textbooks!):

Hieronymous Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights"

Diego Velazquez's "Las Meninas"

Francisco de Goya's "Third of May"

Pablo Picasso's "Guernica"

I remember reading the label in my textbook that "Guernica" is in Madrid and thinking, "Guess I'll never see that painting in person." Haha, high school self! You will indeed see that painting in person!

We also visited the Royal Palace. I had no idea it would be so splendiferous, in the same league as Versailles and the Schönbrunn!

I want to live in a palace!

And to close out my posts about Spain, a picture of Dave with the symbol of Madrid – a berry-eating bear:

As a creature that loves to sleep in the winter, eats berries in large quantities, and loves fish, I have long over-identified with the bear. I have been known, on occasion, to exclaim, "I am a berry-eating bear!" while consuming an entire package of raspberries. So how could I not also embrace Madrid? Thanks, Spain, for a wonderful trip!

Thursday, July 4, 2013


The honeymoon posts are not over yet! Sevilla was our favorite city in Spain. It had medieval charm, good food, and fascinating history, yet was manageable, clean, and friendly. You can take romantic walks through the old Jewish ghetto or along the river at night:

Here's the iconic Giralda bell tower by the cathedral:

We climbed to the top for a beautiful view of the city. It was mostly a twisting ramp, rather than stairs, so that a muezzin could ride his horse to the top, five times a day, to deliver the call to prayer (back when it was a minaret). We could see the cathedral from our hotel rooftop:

Inside the cathedral (one of the largest in Europe) are the remains of Christopher Columbus himself!

The royal palace, built in Moorish style for Christian rulers:

I LOVED the mix of cultures reflected in the building program and decoration. If I were a medievalist, I would totally want to focus on this kind of thing!

We ate paella in a quaint square, next to a fountain, under the orange trees. (So charming...until a bird pooped on me! Hmph.) We even caught a flamenco show. Our time in Sevilla was too short, and we can't wait to go back someday!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

a rose by any other name

Today I went to the Social Security office and applied to change my name. I am dropping my middle name entirely, adopting my maiden name as a middle name, and taking Dave's surname as my own. This was a much harder decision than I had anticipated. Every woman in my extended family has taken her husband's last name, regardless of professional accomplishments or age at marriage. I had never really thought it was a big deal.

But as Dave and I prepared to marry, it did become a big deal! It's not that I'm so advanced in my career (ha), or that I feel dominated by male hegemony (my maiden name being my father's, after all). It's just that, my name has been my name for so long. And I (duh) identified by it. And I liked it. And I had nicknames associated with it. And I met people from other cultures that don't apply this practice – like all of China. Isn't it kind of weird to change your name in the middle of your life? My parents gave me the combination of my first, middle, and last names on purpose; isn't it strange to override that later?

Yet there were reasons to change now, too. We hope someday to have children, and it would be far more convenient for our family to share one name. I haven't published anything and I'm about to start a new job, so at the moment I have the opportunity for a fresh start. And it is, I admit, compelling to share a single name with my husband – it shows we're really a team now!

So, reluctantly, I filled out my forms and started the process. It shouldn't be a hard transition – my new last name rhymes with my old name, and I'm not losing my old name entirely. I guess it's time to practice that new signature...

Monday, July 1, 2013

the great ganache debacle (2013 ed.)

Yesterday, a friend celebrated his 30th birthday with a potluck dinner. He asked me to bring the birthday cake, and I agreed! Foolishly, perhaps, given my travel schedule and inexperience with making birthday cakes. It was to be a vanilla sponge cake filled with coffee/Bailey's flavored whipped cream:

 Ready to be refrigerated, before the final step of covering with chocolate ganache.

I had thought that the ganache would be the easy part. If you thought that making chocolate ganache consists of dumping chocolate and cream in a pot and melting them together, I can now tell you from experience that you'd be wrong. The ganache was oily and refused to be spread; it somehow was simultaneously dragging too much on the surface and too slippery. I called every number I knew to reach my mom: cake emergency! I managed to scrape off the failed ganache, leaving this beautiful masterpiece:


The leftover scrapings. My mom told me to save it to use later. Ideas, anyone?

Sidenote: I include these pictures because I wish that food bloggers would show us more failures and mistakes. Not just epic Pinterest fails, as amusing as they are, but more run-of-the-mill mistakes. Otherwise, how are we to know how to recover? Fortunately, I have the ultimate resource in my mom. =) Still, I got so stressed out that I got failed ganache all over the kitchen. I was rather proud of myself when I looked down and saw that I had managed to avoid getting ganache on the front of my new yellow t-shirt...until I realized that I had succeeded in smearing it all over my BACK. Still not entirely sure how that happened.

It's a good thing that the cake's surface was meant to be covered up! That meant that I could try again, this time with better technique (steam the cream first in the microwave, add the chocolate, let set and then stir occasionally) and consequently, better results:

 Special thanks to Julie for the beautiful cake server!

People seemed to enjoy the cake, and I gained some valuable experience. I'll just have to keep practicing, I guess!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

(very minor) home improvement

I am happily back in Ann Arbor and tackling the last of unpacking. This has actually been the most difficult stage – the rate limiting factor now is a lack of space to unpack into, not lack of time to unpack. As I moved in, I sold the bulk of my furniture; we resisted buying new stuff for the house since we know our home here is temporary. But we still have too many possessions, especially since we have to save a spare set for when I move to NY and set up a separate household. This has been especially difficult for the kitchen.

Dave made me very happy by setting up last night our newly purchased Ikea items. This spice rack over the sink has freed up a ton of cabinet space for pantry items!

Dave would like you to know that his arms always look this muscular. ;)

And here is our new "buffet/credenza/sideboard":

I really wanted a piece of furniture we could use to display our china and open up more cabinet space for food and utensils. Since we'll probably resell on craigslist, I set a strict budget of $150, which proved to be rather challenging. (Can anyone explain to me why furniture is SO expensive??) So we were quite happy to find this bookshelf for $99, and I think it suits our purposes quite nicely.

As satisfying as these little projects were, I found them kind of exhausting. Ummm, how do people actually FIX UP AN ENTIRE BROKEN HOUSE?? I have no idea.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Confession: Dave said that he always imagined his honeymoon would mainly consist of sitting and relaxing on a beautiful beach. I promised him that Spain has tons of beautiful beaches! It would be the perfect place for seeing history/culture AND enjoying beach time!

Well, we spent a total of about 1.5 hours on a beach during our 10-day trip. But it was indeed a beautiful one:

We went to Cadiz, that old Phoenician port town founded by Heracles (like so many old cities in Spain). It was shockingly, unseasonably cold that day – in the 60s and very breezy! Locals hurried past in fleeces, scarves, and sweatpants. It was indeed too cold to go into the water, but we were generally happy not to be melting in the usual heat.

Don't be distracted by Dave's awesome farmer's tan – this picture is meant to display the Cadiz cathedral in the background.

Our trip to Cadiz was brief – we just drove our rental car down for the day from Sevilla. But it was a lovely respite from hardcore sightseeing. And who doesn't love to feast his/her eyes on the blue-green sea?