blank'/> A LITTLE BIT OF LACQUER: December 2014

December 30, 2014

New Year's Eve Look

Happy second to last day of 2014! Hope you all have been having wonderful holidays and getting some time to spend with the ones you love! Today I just wanted to share a quick (and cheap, save for the shoes - which were my wedding shoes!) look perfect for New Year's Eve! 

I also wanted to talk about bodies for a second. It's always around this time that people start really looking at their bodies critically and making goals for the new year. I'm definitely not immune to that self-criticism, I hear it all the time in fact. A little truthful Tuesday? I've always hated my body. I've always been a stick figure, and from two cultures where stick figures are not attractive at all, I've always wanted curves! Thigh gaps are not wanted over here. I can actually say that one of the only times I actually loved my body was when I was pregnant. Now post-pregnancy I get so many questions about how I shed the weight so quickly - I guess breastfeeding and just my normal metabolism that has always kept me skinny. Right now, I'm even skinnier than I was pre-pregnancy thanks to still breastfeeding (we're trying to wean). And the whole weaning effort? Well that has left one breast out of service and the other still making milk - so I walk around with a two different sized boobs, and when I really care (like for these photos) I throw in a "chicken cutlet" like my mom likes to call it so the smaller boob can fill my bra! #truestory

Anyway, I share all this not to start a pity-party, but instead to remind you guys that we all have our own images of what's beautiful, our own internal struggles, and our own masks we put on to go out into the world. This year, instead of making resolutions to get thicker or thinner, I hope we can all hope to be healthier and happier. To learn to love our own bodies and find love from those who value us regardless of what the scale says. {Shout out to N who has made me feel beautiful at all times! Except of course when he talks about my pimples or my spider web hair.} 

{For those who are trying to put on a few pounds - hit the gym! Not for cardio, but lifting weights! That's most of what I do when I do go to the gym and the only way I can actually add curves. Skirts like this ruched one are most forgiving to those of us lacking in the curves department}

Wrap bodysuit top (similar here), ruched skirt (similar here), Stuart Weitzman "The Nudist" sandals (here), bangle (similar here)

December 23, 2014

Holiday Look

Happy Christmas-eve-eve! Hopefully many of you are finally finishing up (or finished yay!) with your holiday shopping, but if not, check out yesterday's post for some last minute ideas! Today I'm sharing a look perfect for holiday gatherings. At least perfect for me - cozy and simple, but put together. Lou & Grey to the rescue with a soft cashmere sweater (on crazy ridiculous sale) and comfy leggings! I have been so happy with my Lou & Grey clothing, I want the entire store to be my closet! 

I hope you all have wonderful holidays - we'll be enjoying a nice little break from residency interviews and spending time with family and just enjoying each other! After all, as much as we like to get stressed about gifts and meals and entertaining, what really matters is the people you are with - remember to love them, appreciate them, forgive them; we're all doing our best! 

Thank you once again to Lou & Grey for sponsoring this post! 

December 22, 2014

Last Minute Gift Guide

Happy Monday!! As promised yesterday, here's a quick little gift guide for all of my last-minute shopping brethren.

  1. Hand salve for the hand washer - perfect gift for teachers or health care providers or anyone who would enjoy a nice hand cream! 
  2. Sweaters... all the sweaters, for everyone - I don't know any woman who lives somewhere it hits below 60 degrees who wouldn't love another gorgeous sweater. Lou & Grey pretty much rules the sweater game. 
  3. Oil perfume for the new mom - so many scents to choose from, gift one of these to a new mom - a tiny drop on the wrist and she'll feel like she actually showered and maybe even got transported to a tropical vacation!
  4. Sneakers for the sporty girl - or really any girl. Or boy. These sneakers were made in sneaker heaven. 
  5. Dainty necklace for the girl who has it all - this delicate piece is the perfect addition to any woman's jewelry collection.
  6. Cozy throw for the homebody - beautiful throw perfect for cuddling on the couch!
  7. Cookbook for the chef - this beauty features simple meals and breathtaking photography.
  8. Hat for the person who doesn't enjoy doing their hair - there's a reason this is still my favorite hat. Many reasons, actually. Not having to do my hair is just one of them.  
  9. Candle for the secret santa/person you don't really know - candles are universally nice. Especially nice ones. 
Hand salve, perfume, necklace, throw, cookbook, hat, and candle are all makers product that are available for purchase in Lou & Grey stores! Check out this gorgeous gift guide made by Lou & Grey for more of their goodies! All items are available in store - check out these posts (here and here) for more on the Natick store! Search here to see if there's one near you!

Shop any items in this post using the links in the text or below, or if you're in the area, pop in to the Lou & Grey in the Natick Mall! Thanks to L&G for sponsoring this post!

December 21, 2014

Last Minute Holiday Shopping!

I love the holidays! I love them for everything they're supposed to be about - hot cocoa and cuddling by the fire, spending time with loved ones, remembering all of our blessings, twinkly lights, and more! What do I like least about the holidays? Shopping. I hate shopping during the holidays. When I have the time, I much rather prefer making gifts, or at least planning in advance and shopping online to avoid the crowds that tend to bring out the not-so-nice side of people! This year though, with all of the craziness that has been traveling for residency interviews, I have done nothing in advance. With less than a week until Christmas, I ran to my now-favorite store - Lou & Grey, actually found some peace and relaxation, and picked up something special for all of the ladies on my list.

 Although I do love shopping online, and you can still make use of many sales and shipping offers until the 22nd, visiting the store at the Natick Mall is so much better than online. On the website you will certainly find all of the Lou & Grey clothing pieces, but in the store you can find carefully selected goodies from small businesses and crafters from around the country. 

 From pillows and throws to candles and body scrubs, gorgeous delicate jewelry and cookbooks, I was able to find something for all of the women on my list! 

And then of course the fun part - trying on some of their clothes in their serene fitting room! It's seriously so beautiful there! It's like a little shopping haven in an otherwise mainstream mall! Stay tuned tomorrow for my last-minute shoppers gift-guide and a cozy look for comfy holiday entertaining! Because if you're not cozy, you're not doing the holidays right. 

Below you'll find links to some of my favorite Lou & Grey pieces, but remember only the clothes is available online, for their gorgeous makers products, be sure to stop in the store in the Natick Mall! Thanks Lou & Grey for sponsoring this post!

December 10, 2014

Winter Skin Care Tips

It's that time of year again - temperatures are dropping, snow is falling, kids are eagerly awaiting school cancellations, and the annoying dry patch over my left eye has returned. Welcome back, winter. For those of you who live in areas where you get winter, you are familiar with all of this, including the skin problems that pop up! Most often it's dry skin on various points in the dry skin spectrum - from annoying patches here and there to horribly controlled eczema that can even require hospitalization (on my pediatric dermatology rotation I took care of a baby who's eczema was so bad last winter that he was hospitalized)! 

Here are a few of my favorite products and how to use them for combatting the problems that come with winter skin. 

1. Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash - This unscented body wash (and the Target brand, both of which I've used) are perfect for sensitive skin or skin that tends to get dried out. It doesn't leave your skin feeling stripped of moisture, in fact I usually feel more moisturized after using it! It also still lathers nicely. Make sure to keep your showers short and keep the water mild and not too hot to avoid drying out your skin. This tip is always hard for me to follow because I find hot showers incredibly therapeutic, but to cut down on time spent in the hot water what I do instead is start the shower really hot to get that first "ahhh" effect for a few seconds (or minutes on particularly tough days), then turn the temperature down and wash up!

2. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser - Ask almost any dermatologist what face wash they recommend and they will give you this one. Even for my acne-prone skin, I still get drier in the winter, and this is my holy grail face wash when I start getting dry skin (*for those who have asked my usual face wash is this one, but it can get drying in the winter time). This face wash is non-stripping, but effectively removes makeup and dirt, and feels wonderful. I used to use it with my Clarisonic brush, but as my time for the AM/PM routine has gotten shorter, I've stopped using the brush altogether (as much as I loved it) and still think the wash is amazing on its own. Use a gentle wash like this one in the morning and evening with lukewarm water, and pat dry with a clean towel after washing.

3. Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream - Another classic, this non-pore-clogging cream can be used literally anywhere on the body and not cause irritation or breakouts. After showering, I pat dry and immediately apply this to my body. I rarely use it on my face because I don't need that much moisture there, but many people do and swear by it. For those that need more intense moisture, Vanicream is a great option, and even comes in a big pump option (super convenient for using, and hygienic)!

4. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream - Our hands usually get it the worst in winter - and especially those of us washing our hands all the time like doctors, nurses, and teachers - our hands are usually screaming for help! I love this hand cream - it's super concentrated, so a little goes a long way, but as rich as it is, it absorbs quickly and doesn't leave a greasy residue (so I can write without my pen slipping not long after putting it on)! Try to reapply right after washing hands and patting dry. This can also be used anywhere, but I love carrying the little tube around with me for use throughout the day. For those with fingers so dry they get cracked (especially happens to my patients who already have the habit of biting their nails and then have to use their hands all day at work) I recommend using moisturizing gloves at night! After washing hands, apply your moisturizer, and then go to sleep wearing the gloves - this will start to heal up those fingers and keep them from re-cracking!

5. Humidifier - I'm not sure why I took so long to get a humidifier. But I did (N did actually), and have never looked back. Ours actually just broke, and I am realizing now what a huge difference it made! We turn ours up to medium or high during the night and will turn it down to low during the day, essentially running it constantly. All of our nasal congestion (especially Liv's, which is why we initially bought it) and dry/sore throats decreased dramatically (again, something I'm much more aware of now that it's broken)! My contact lenses were more comfortable, and my skin was much less dry. I find myself needing to reapply my moisturizers more often without it! I would seriously consider investing in one, your skin, sinuses, throat, and more will thank you!
*Update* - I replaced my broken one with this one for this winter and we love it. It's about $15 more than our original (the first one linked up above) but this one has some amazing extra features that were worth the price. For one, there is the option to diffuse essential oils - this one is awesome - it's a calming/bedtime blend, and I'm thinking of buying this one that's supposed to be good for colds/decongestion (I haven't used it yet so can't comment on it). It also works as a night light which is perfect for when N or I stumble out of bed to get Elli in the middle of the night for feedings! It has different colors, but you can pick one color and stick with it, or use none at all. And most importantly it does the job of humidifying the air in our bedroom well.

6. Cerave Moisturizing Lotion, SPF 30 - This is my daily AM lotion for my face and I love it (in the evening I use their PM moisturizer). It does its job without breaking me out and almost makes me feel like I'm glowing! Although the sun doesn't feel as warm in the winter months, the UV rays are definitely still damaging, so it's important to continue using a daily moisturizer with sun protection. With the current products I'm using for my face (all listed here in this post) I actually find that the only makeup I need to use is under eye concealer (all the lotion and humidifiers in the world still can't make up for sleep)! You'll find the less makeup you use the happier your skin will be in general, so finding a regimen that allows you to use less is definitely worth it! I will add that I was briefly using a low-dose oral antibiotic for my acne (during the late summer when the stress of wedding planning while on clinical rotations and taking care of Liv became quite apparent in my horrible acne flare)! I have since been off for a couple of months and have not had any flares on this routine (update - it's now been over a year and a half and my skin is still happy on this regimen)! Especially for those of us with dark marks leftover from previous acne, it's even more important to use a daily lotion with SPF, as any bit of sun can make those spots darker and take longer to fade!

7. Aquaphor - No winter skin products list would be complete without Aquaphor. I literally have a little tube of Aquaphor in every bag I own, and in each white coat pocket (maybe a little overkill?). I use this for everything -it's the best moisturizer for your lips - but also for Liv and Elli's diaper areas (we have a huge tub at the changing table), any dry areas, and even small scrapes or irritated areas that need a little protection!

That's it! The products that help get me through the winter with happy and healthy skin! Hope this could be helpful for some of you! And of course, although a lot of these recommendations come from my experience working in dermatology clinic, none of this takes the place of real medical advice - so make sure to make an appointment with your own dermatologist if you're having issues with winter skin! 

December 4, 2014

My Favorite Planners

As we get ready to head into a new year, one of the questions I'm starting to get more often is how to be more organized, and specifically, which planners I recommend! I've spoken a bit about organization and time management here, but today I wanted to share some planners for the new year! So let's jump into my top three favorite planners - and how I currently use my absolute favorite! All three planners I mention here are beautiful, hardcover, and open to lay completely flat (three features that are important for me in a planner)!

 1. The Day Designer - I owned the larger/original version of the Day Designer and loved it, but for me, it was simply much too large to carry around with me daily! In comes the Day Designer mini, and I think it's perfect. Although you fill in the dates and there aren't the "planning" worksheets that the original has, for me (and most of you) the mini has all of the essentials and most importantly can be thrown in your daily bag!

2. The Simplified Planner - Another larger planner, this is a beauty in its simple layout and sections for each day. I love this planner and if I wasn't in a nice groove with my current planner, this one would definitely be the one I would buy! You can try it out by downloading her free pages and see if you like the format! 

3. Russell + Hazel Mini SmartDate System - This is my current planner and has been for the last year or two, and I absolutely love it. Why? Mostly because as a beautifully designed binder system, every component is interchangeable, and I can update my planner as my planning needs change - when I have rotations at the hospital or clinic, I usually use the weekly planning pages; if I have more control of my schedule and therefore want to plan my days a little more, I throw in some daily planning pages and use those. The size of the binder (which comes in beautiful colors) is perfect for carrying with me on a daily basis - and there are endless pages you can include in your binder to customize a planner perfect for you. In mine I have the monthly pages, weekly pages (I own the daily pages too but haven't used them in a while so keep them in a desk drawer), graph pages for notes, colored dividing tabs, and clear sheet protectors for extra storage (receipts, notes from work, anything)! I seriously cannot say enough good things about the planner system!

Would love to hear what you use to stay organized! The planner in me is always trying to improve!

Links to all items mentioned are in the text, or you shop using the images below as well!

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