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

October 29, 2014

Grey stripes and Leopard spots

Sharing another easy look today and talking a bit about my current time "off!" 


It's been nice having some time to myself this month - having time to finally submit this paper we've been working on forever, figure out our travel plans with N flying all over the country for interviews, and having some time to work on the blog has been nice! Having time off is also nice because it usually serves as a good reminder of what you like to do with your day - as much as heading to a coffee shop to do some work is great and all, I actually miss clinic and seeing patients! Is that weird? Probably. 


For those wondering how I have "off" time - fourth year of medical school is a time for electives and residency interviews! There are very few requirements left by this time, and I've finished them all, so right now I'm on an unscheduled month. I think the hardest part of this month (or really, the only hard part), is still having to take Liv to daycare. I'd love to take her out for the months that I have "off," but if we take her out we lose her spot there, and it took us almost a year to get her there! Boston daycares have ridiculous waitlists! And seeing as I will have a couple of months where I'm still on rotations, we're keeping her there so we don't lose that spot. Being "off" and not having Liv with me definitely lends itself to lots of guilt, so I keep myself as busy as possible with lots of work!


Shopping links for:   striped top,   pants,   boots,   scarf (and it's $12)!,   bag,   sunglasses (also $12... I'm on a roll today)!


October 27, 2014

Family Halloween Costume

Hi all! Today I wanted to share a few fun photos from our family halloween costume for a race we ran this weekend! We ran the Superhero 5K in Cambridge, and ran as The Incredibles! So so so much fun.

For those of you needing a last minute family Halloween costume here's how I put together ours! Shopping links are included in the text and almost everything is available by Amazon Prime so you can get it in time for Halloween!


For Liv's I got lucky and found a premade Jack Jack costume in her size (12-18 months). They're sold out online now, but you can easily buy a red one piece like this one and stick on an Incredible's logo over it! I dropped the ball and assumed her costume was footies though, and of course as we were getting dressed at 7:30 in the morning realized they weren't, and we had only white socks! Sorry Liv. She surprisingly liked the eye mask and didn't want us to take it off! So funny. I did find it a little tight though and took it off when she woke up from her nap.

For mine and N's I bought red leggings and red shirts, black underwear, thigh-high tights (N folded his to knee-length), gloves, and eye masks. I found the Incredible's logo online and printed out copies on plain old white paper, cut them out, and then attached them to our shirts with velcro.

As far as the race itself - I took the thigh-highs off for the race since they definitely would not have stayed up the whole time - double sided tape on those bad boys might have done the trick but I didn't think of it! Everything thing else I kept on the whole time! I ran in my Air Pegasus sneakers (my favorites - and not pictured here since they didn't match the costume haha) and ran with Liv in our BOB Revolution Flex Stroller. It's so light, so easy to maneuver, reclines almost all the way back (Liv slept the whole run), and has some insane shock absorption! Even the undercarriage is large enough to fit my Lily Jade diaper bag. The handle is also adjustable so N and I can change the position when either of us uses it. 
 

What are you all dressing up as for Halloween this year? Would love to hear in the comments section!

October 24, 2014

Fashionable and Functional Diaper Bag

Happy Friday! Today I'm sharing a cozy look and my go-to diaper bag. I remember when I was pregnant I thought I'd be able to use a designer bag as a diaper bag (I got this one for that purpose), but soon found out that as much of a minimalist mommy I wanted to be, I still couldn't fit all the stuff I needed to bring for Liv in a chic-looking bag like that! 

It was a long search for a beautiful and functional diaper bag; I was ready to admit defeat and just buy a bulky diaper bag (accepting it was part of my new mom role), when the women at Lily Jade contacted me and offered to send me one of their new diaper bags. I chose the Madeline in Brandy and have been so pleased with my choice. I was a little hesitant to use it at first - it was so nice I almost didn't want to use it for fear of messing up the leather! Thankfully I got over it though, and especially now with fall, the brown leather is my favorite!


I love the functionality of this bag - the adjustable long strap (and two shoulder straps) allow for the bag to be worn as a shoulder bag, messenger bag, or backpack! I'm not going to lie, I initially thought to myself - who would want to wear a nice bag like that as a backpack!? Don't knock it till you try it. Having both hands completely free without a bag on one side or the other makes chasing after Liv so much easier! It also makes it convincing as a "men's diaper bag" and N carries it (as a backpack or messenger)! Hehehe.


And the pockets, oh the pockets. I love that there are three large exterior pockets - these usually hold things I need in easy reach - my phone and keys, chapstick, and tickets or papers for whatever we're doing that day (and tissues - all the tissues I can fit for Liv's constantly runny nose). Best nappy bag.

{Liv has proven herself to be quite the expert photo bomber}

The inner pockets are really where all the magic of this bag is, though. Any search for designer diaper bags will give you some pretty gorgeous bags, but when you hover over the images you see that the inside of the bags are empty! A dark abyss that will lead to lots of endless searching for whatever it is you're reaching for. The Lily Jade bag has so many pockets! The red organizer has at least a dozen pockets and is completely removable and washable. This is a game changer - I never thought about all the potential milk or baby food spills in the bag or how I would clean it - with the insert you can literally just pop it in the wash! 


The best part is that you can buy the insert separately. This is big time. Let's be honest - many of us (at least I know I speak for myself and some of my readers) can't afford to spend $300 on a diaper bag. Lily Jade understands that and has made it so that any mama can get some of this amazing functionality in whatever bag they choose. Awesome. 

The baby bag inserts are all on sale for $49, and the rest of the line of Lily Jade diaper bags is on sale as well, with prices ranging from $135 - $305. Don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but Christmas is around the corner - this bag would make a great gift for any expectant or new mom!


I hope you all have wonderful weekends!!


October 22, 2014

Style: Lou & Grey


If you all have followed my blog for a while, you know I have a go-to style. I wouldn't necessarily call it fashionable, and not trendy either, it's just my style. And that style involves lots of neutral basics, soft tees and comfy sweaters - simple but relatively polished is what I'm trying to go for most of the time (although, Liv loves adding her touch of yogurt or crumbled cheese to my outfits too)! 

When Lou & Grey contacted me to check out their new store just outside of Boston in Natick, I checked out their website quickly and couldn't wait to visit the store. This brand was made for me. Their motto? Clothing for a comfortably confident life. Seriously, does it get more "me?" Below are some shots from inside the store - the place is heavenly! Online you can find most of the Lou & Grey pieces, but inside the store you'll find so much more. Beautiful pieces curated from amazing crafters, dainty gold jewelry, succulents on display, a library, home goods, and more! I seriously didn't want to leave. N had to go and check out J. Crew on his own because I was in my zone haha! 


Here's how I styled some of their pieces for an easy look that can take you from errands to dinner - then swap the jeans and boots for cozy leggings and slippers and you're ready for movie night in! That's exactly what I did, didn't want to take the sweater off! ;)


{Shopping links for: sweater, jeans, boots, hat, necklace}

Also - I've been in love with this Janessa Leone hat for some time now and couldn't believe they carried it in the store! I had to get it! (For those who want a similar style at a fraction of the price, Target has a version for $16)! 

Shop some of my favorites from Lou & Grey here! Thank you Lou & Grey for sponsoring this post! 




October 20, 2014

Interview Packing List

Happy Monday everyone! That time is already upon us... that's right, it's interview season. For tips about medical school interviews, read my post here, but today I wanted to share a bit about packing for interviews! Whether you're traveling by car or by plane, I hope this post can be of use! 

The number one rule for interview travel - keep your suit with you! Do not check any baggage, if you can help it. And you can help it. So don't do it! A close tie for number one rule is to pack light


With those two out of the way, let's get to what you need to bring with you. 

To cut down on what I pack - I like to have a designated "travel outfit" that I wear on the way to and back from my destination. This is usually something super simple like leggings, a tee shirt, a light cardigan, and some travel flats. I've heard amazing things about Tieks but they're pretty pricey and don't really fit in my budget - these travel flats by Ugg (two) are a good mid-price option, and these leather flats from Target are a great find at $40. 

My hands-down best travel bag is the O.G. by Lo & Sons (one). Fits absolutely everything and is well-organized and simple. Had I not gotten it for a Christmas gift, though, I likely would not have it as it too is a bit on the pricey side. This diaper bag would also make an amazing travel bag (even without baby)! Both of these bags make for great carry-ons; my must-haves include outside pockets, two straps, and a zippered top - these both fit the bill!

Inside your carry-on you'll pack all of your goodies. Make sure you have your interview suit (some people hang the suit instead, but I just roll it up neatly and compactly in it's own bag and put it in my carry-on, ironing later if need be). For residency interviews this year I'm going with this suit jacket and these pants, both by Loft (six). Keep your shirt simple. Make sure you've also got some comfortable interview shoes. Don't forget your phone, phone cable (four) and charger (five). I love using a phone case that doubles as a card-holder so that I can keep one thing out while getting through gates - no digging through my wallet each time I need my I.D. or debit card - this Kate Spade case (three) is amazing! It's up to you whether you prefer a portfolio (eleven) to carry throughout the day or a handbag - if you go with a bag make sure it's clean, subdued, and professional - this bag is perfect (ten). You don't want anything too large or flashy. Make sure to bring other seemingly random life savers like a lint brush (seven) and cash in small bills (good for cabs and public transportation).

Important things to bring with you interview day include copies of your CV and publications (I've literally never had anyone ask for these on interviews, but I don't want to be empty-handed if I ever do), a small notebook for jotting quick notes and names, water and small snacks, and a couple of key emergency goodies - ibuprofen for the potential headache, stain remover, breath mints, floss, and oil blotters. Someone did most of the work already and made a perfectly packaged little emergency kit with all of these goodies already inside - thank you!! I always carry this on me - it's even got double-sided tape (which I had to use once when a shirt button broke)! Lifesavers I tell you!

Equally important is to have all the information you'll need for the day - emails from programs, maps, questions you had in advance, hotel information, etc. Some people like to carry physical copies of all of this with them - I prefer taking a camera shot on my phone of all of the important details - you can then organize it on your phone into albums and have all that information in easy access at all times! 


Above is a checklist for packing that I hope you can find useful. Would love to hear about travel necessities and things you bring on interviews in the comment section!  Good luck on all of your interviews - you'll wow them all! 

October 17, 2014

Sling Diaries: On Bliss

Happy Friday! Today I'm sharing few (ok, a lot) of photos from our trip to Shelburne Farm last weekend, and a letter to Liv on this month's Sling Diary topic of bliss. Read the rest of my entries here, and check out all the other amazing Sling Diarists here!

Dearest Liv,

"Wherever you are, be all there."

This my sweet girl, is how you find bliss. It's hard to come by, this bliss, not because it isn't always there for us to find, but because the busyness of the everyday drowns it out. Be present in what you are doing, whether it be work or relaxation, and you will find focus. This focus will allow you to think clearly and work efficiently, but more importantly, it will allow you to experience the blissful moments. For me it's watching you play and laugh out loud, or watching you muster up all your effort to stack blocks, my heart beating with pride and my face beaming with joy. It's the hugs and pats on the back you give me when we reunite, or your little hand rubbing my arm or playing with my necklace as you nurse. It's laughing with your dad. It's feeling accomplished at work. For me bliss is so many things. 

I like to think about what will bring you bliss. Right now it's blueberry muffins, or your apples - I'm giggling now at the site of you closing your eyes in enjoyment and saying "mmm!" It's finding a perfect acorn, or being up on your daddy's shoulders. Maybe it's even our hug when we reunite, too. I hope you'll get to experience many blissful moments. The important thing to remember is to not let the hustle and bustle and stress and mess of the everyday dull the sparkle of the blissful moments. 

Wherever you are be all there. 

Love always,
Mommy


I'm wearing a burgundy cardigan (similar here), a grey v-neck tee (here), JustUSA jeans (similar here), Wayfarer sunglasses (similar here), H&M Chelsea boots (exact here - and for less than $35!, amazing real leather ones here, way more than $35 lol), and Liv in my Sakura Bloom linen sling in Maple.

Liv is wearing a Sherbert Lane bow (here), Gap top (here), Carters jeggings (here), and Mocassins (similar here).



October 11, 2014

Sakura Bloom Style: Fall Traveling

Hurray for the three-day weekend, do you all have any plans? I think we'll be making a trip out to Liv's first pumpkin patch or apple orchard (or insert whatever other fall-child-parent thing we're supposed to be doing). I'm really excited!!

I put together this fun little inspiration board featuring pieces perfect for a fall road trip!


I'm obsessed with the colors in the Sakura Bloom Classic line - my favorite might be this cedar sling (1). If I'm not at work you'll almost always find me in jeans, and these Citizens of Humanity jeans (10)  are the perfect stretchy jeans for comfort! Throw on my staple grey sweater (9), a cool fall hat (2), this engravable gold bar necklace (3), and some duck boots (8) and you're ready to go anywhere. For Liv I always find the cutest things at the Gap - she's got a cute green onesie (5), skinny jeans (7), a soft grey bear hat (4), and matching mini duck boots (6)! All the rest of our stuff can get thrown into this duffel bag (11) and we're ready to go! 

October 9, 2014

Fall Nails


Two shades I'm absolutely loving right now (and good thing, because I get them done as gel polish so they last at least 2 weeks) - O.P.I. A'Piers To Be Tan (left) and O.P.I. Scores a Goal (right). Have any of you tried these shades? Would love to hear your favorites for fall!

October 7, 2014

Study Tips for Moms and other Non-Trads


Most of the study tips I post I write based on strategies I used as a pre-med in college and throughout my first three years in medical school. A time when, although you feel like you never have enough time to get it all done, you really sort of do. Then came Liv (my daughter), aaaaand my Step 2 CK exam that was conveniently scheduled for the month after she was born, and my study habits had to be completely re-invented. I'm hoping this post will help other student moms and non-traditional students, whether you're working full-time and going to school, taking care of ill parents, or really any commitment that tugs at a large majority of that oh-so-precious study time.

Get over the idea that you need big chunks of time to study. I used to love having a nice uninterrupted two hour chunk of time to do some studying. Although now and then I can find time like that, more often than not things can only get done in 15 minute chunks here and there. Don't brush off these small chunks of time as being too short for accomplishing anything - especially with memorizing, these are perfect little chunks for memorizing a couple of facts, and these little study bursts really do add up throughout the day. If you have the luxury of sitting at your laptop for this studying I love using the Self Control app to eliminate any distractions that might eat up that study time.

Be ready to study anytime. It's hard to study during a quick 20 minute break or ride on the train if you don't have your study materials with you. But if you're already carrying a diaper bag or your work bag (or a baby you just got to sleep and are terrified to put down for fear of waking her back up) not many of us are lugging around all of our textbooks and notebooks, too. My iPhone was my savior during times like these (which during Liv's first month of life was pretty much all the time). Here are a few apps that helped make my phone a great study tool.

  • Using the TurboScan app I can take pictures of chapters I need to review or figures I want to study from books I have (or even those in the library). It takes seconds to do! You can save these as PDFs you name yourself (like Renal Review or Coagulation Cascade diagram). 
  • Using the Kindle Reading App I organize all of my PDFs and can easily read and review them from my phone. There are also many books available in Kindle format so if you'd rather just buy textbooks in that format, you'll be able to read them from your phone too!
  • Download the app specific to whatever Qbank software you use if that's part of your studying. For Step 2 (and Step 1) I used the USMLE World Qbank app. You can easily do practice questions and review answers on your phone this way! This was a majority of how I studied for Step 2. 
*UPDATE* Another super useful tool I forgot to mention is audio lectures! For Step 1, I listened to Goljan's audio lectures (google them or ask classmates for a copy of the file) on my phone during downtime (commuting time or at the gym, etc.) - using audio lectures would be great during a stroller walk! Those of you studying for the MCAT will definitely appreciate the Examkrackers MCAT Audio Osmosis lectures. If your school's  lectures are recorded you can also review them this way if you find that helpful.

Study when they're asleep. I am naturally a morning person, and my focus is still best in the morning. But Liv is also a morning person, so she's wide awake and getting anything school or work related done during this time just doesn't work as well anymore. I've shifted to becoming a bit more of a night owl, getting work done while Liv is asleep and alleviating a lot of the guilt I sometimes feel when I try working during time I should be spending with Liv. When I was still doing experiments in lab I did the same thing. Most days I'd try to be out by 5 to pick her up and spend the evening with her, then head back into lab around 7:30 or 8 when I got her down for bed. This really helped me feel more productive and like I was still spending quality time with Liv.

Use two windows on your computer. Sometimes you're just going to have to get work done during time you should be spending with your little one. Times like these I like to open two windows on my laptop - one with YouTube for Liv and the other with whatever I'm working on. Right now Liv really likes this video - it's all nursery songs that we can sing along to with her sitting on my lap or standing next to me while I work on the floor. 


I hope some of these tips could help a few of you! Please share with anyone you think it could help out! Happy studying! Remember to be easy on yourself. We're juggling a lot, more than we probably ever thought possible, so give yourself a pat on the back and keep doing awesome!

October 3, 2014

Have a Great Weekend!

Sharing a few of the things that really have me feeling like it's fall! 


This tote bag is quickly becoming my favorite - it holds everything, the straps are sturdy and comfortable, and it just feels cozy! I've also pulled out one of my favorite sweaters from my closet. My Moleskine professional notebook is doing a great job of holding all of the projects I'm juggling right now, I love it! The photo on the right (via) does a good job of showing what the inside of the notebook looks like! 


Liv is loving fall too. She's obsessed with acorns and our walks near our house are a constant game of her picking them up and me grabbing them out of her mouth. The other day she even snuck one in her shirt! Getting her dressed for fall has been fun too. This bow was a gift from my sister but I'm loving the fall patterns of headwraps from this etsy shop


I'm obsessed with making apple and pear chips. So much so that I take pictures to make a post on how to make them only to eat them all when they come out of the oven. But this is how you make them if you want to try this weekend! 



October 1, 2014

How to Think on Your Feet


One of my loyal readers and a current third year medical student asked me a question that I know all of us can relate to: how do you think on your feet? For those of you in high school and college this is relevant when a teacher or professor calls on you for an answer in class or for questions after a presentation, but once in medical school, and particularly the clinical years, being able to think on your feet is a crucial skill! In surgery they call it "pimping" - an attending hasn't spoken to you all case until you get into the bowels and then starts hammering you with questions about why this patient needs this procedure, what vessel you're most likely to hit at this particular location, what's the nerve supply, and so on. On medicine the pimping is a little less shotgun style, but you can still be called on for the answer or your opinion on pretty much anything during rounds. And the pimping never ends. Pimping sounds so dirty, so scary! And while it can be nerve-wracking (the unknown element always is), this is just another part of medical education (that some physician teachers actually do really well), and you can own this!

First and foremost - the people you are around, your team, are what will make you or break you. I don't think I can emphasize it enough but the team is everything in medicine, and the team dynamics are key to feeling safe in a space to think on your feet. It's all too easy as a "lowly" medical student to fall into the shadows and not contribute much to the team - in these cases when you get called on for rounds, this may be the first time the team is even hearing your voice! And you will most certainly be terrified and in no mindset to use that amazing mind of yours. Make sure this is not the case. Make you're best effort to get to know everyone on the team - from the attendings and residents to the nurses and social workers. Even if you're only rotating through (as most of us are), these will be your co-workers for at least a week to maybe a month or two, make it enjoyable and get to know everyone! This way, when you get called on in rounds, it doesn't feel like you're being embarrassed in front of an audience of strangers, but instead surrounded by a group of colleagues who are all trying to help. Granted, everyone does not always want to be friends, but rather you make the effort than not. I think this is part of what makes surgery "pimping" particularly scary for most students - many times you're only working with a surgeon once, but if you'll be there for a week it's still so worth it to try and get to know the residents and scrub nurses who will serve as constants even with different surgeons. Just feeling comfortable around someone who is there when you're on the spot will put you a little more at ease.

If you can succeed in the above you'll eliminate a good chunk of the anxiety that comes with thinking on your feet. The rest comes from, you guessed it, preparation! I think we all know that being prepared is the best way to feel confident, and feeling confident is essential to thinking on your feet, but the problem most of us face is that we don't always have the time to prepare as fully as we'd like. The real skill is figuring out how to prepare efficiently.

Let's say you're on rheumatology. Sure every night you could read chapters from a rheumatology textbook in sequential order, but when your attending asks you about your patient's lupus flare, the fact that you spent all night reading about sarcoidosis isn't really going to matter. So read about your patients! If you're in clinic or inpatient, get a list of the patients on the schedule or that your team is caring for and their diagnosis/chief complaint. Target your studying to what you're actually seeing and you'll be more likely to know what's going on when someone puts you on the spot in rounds. As you're doing your reading think of some questions that could be asked on the subject and come up with answers.

Besides being prepared book-wise, it's also nice to know who's going to be asking the questions (which isn't always possible). But especially on surgery, where surgeons are essentially doing the same procedures daily (and therefore have the same set of questions they're used to asking medical students), get the low-down from upperclassmen or people who have worked with him or her before! Some surgeons are all about numbers - statistics and margin sizes and depth, while others are all about anatomy - even knowing something as general as this can help narrow your focus when you're reviewing. Many people also use Surgical Recallfor common facts that are asked. See this post for some other books useful for the wards!

So you've done your focused reading and feel comfortable around your team, but now the moment comes during rounds that you're called on unexpectedly, what do you do? First, breathe. This isn't really a surprise. Hopefully you were listening. Listening is really important. You need to know and understand what was actually asked. Shy away from stall tactics to buy yourself more time - especially on rounds, things need to be efficient, so no one will appreciate that. Also know, though, that it is ok to have a few seconds of silence. Instead of freaking out in your head, use those few seconds to actually think about what you know. Hopefully you've prepared adequately and you will know the answer, but sometimes we are hit with something really unexpected and that's ok too. In these cases it's completely fine to work your way through the problem out loud and if you hit the "and that's all I know about that" point there's no shame in saying so. Chances are someone else will know the answer and can help out, but if not, make sure to offer to look it up and discuss later. We're all learning, and as scary as being put on the spot is, it's almost always meant to teach us something we need to know.

I hope this post could help some of you with thinking on your feet! It's a skill we can all improve on and will continue needing improvement as we transition to different rotations and places. Remember that although we could all read a little more to feel more prepared, the key to feeling comfortable when put on the spot is feeling safe with your team. Get to know them! 
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