blank'/> A LITTLE BIT OF LACQUER: 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!

November 25, 2014


It's been a while since I did an outfit post! I've loved that the blog has morphed into more of a helpful and inspiring space for those of you pursuing your dreams - whether it be medical school or motherhood! But every now and then you guys still ask for a good-old outfit post, so that's what I'm doing today!

This is a look I wore for one of my best friend's birthday dinner! I love these over-the-knee boots because they can instantly make any simple outfit look a little more chic! And they keep me warm! The olive color is also perfect - not as serious as black but still dark enough and neutral enough to go with pretty much anything!

Top (here), Cardigan (here), Leggings (here), Boots (here), Bag (here)

Shop the look by the text links above or right here:

November 21, 2014

Traveling with a Baby or Toddler

We’ve all been there - stuck in a small cockpit with a stranger nearly laying in your lap because they wanted to recline - and the cherry on top? The baby behind you that hasn’t stopped crying since takeoff. If you take a moment to put things in perspective, these are good problems to have - you have the priviledge to travel and are merely dealing with some of the nuances that come with said travel. But while you’re in that seat, it sucks. Now that I’m a mom, though, what sucks even more is to be the mother (or father, or caretaker) of that crying baby in the seat behind you. If you think traveling is tough, think about traveling with a baby! This post is not meant to scare you off, though, just want to set the stage to say I UNDERSTAND, but mamas, we can do something about it, and hopefully this post will show you how. 

I’ve now traveled by plane with Liv at 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, and 14 months, from flights as short as an hour to our most recent six and a half hour flight to California. Even with planning and doing everything “right,” it’s still stressful, but as we walk off the plane I always get comments from those seated around me “wow, I didn’t even know there was a baby!” I’m sure I’ll jinx all of that now for our next flight since it was likely just luck, but I like to think it’s a little bit of preparation too! So here’s how you can get prepared. 

Planning the flights.

When possible, I like to make sure that flights will coincide with as much of my daughter’s sleeping time as possible. If they are sleeping most of the flight, you are winning. For shorter flights this would simply mean you fly during what would be their naptime, for longer flights you might consider a red-eye. 

Some people like buying seats with extra room, or even an extra seat for the baby and bringing the car seat. I’ve never done any of these. Instead I travel with Liv as a lap infant. More on this in a bit. 

Packing the bags.

I like to travel light, especially since I’m not a fan of checking luggage. For our recent trip, I did bring a carseat and stroller because we would be renting a car, but I checked these and do not bother with them in the airport. My favorite travel stroller is my First Years Jet stroller - it’s a lightweight umbrella stroller that still has some nice features including the option to recline, an underseat storage bin, an organizational unit at the handles for my phone, keys, drink, etc., and a super smooth ride on smooth or rough terrains. 

I like to pack one large carry-on with all of our clothes for the trip and extra diapers. Our diaper bag is our real carry-on that holds everything we need during the flight and in the middle of travel. Here are a few key things we throw in the diaper bag:
  • 2-3 diapers and wipes
  • one change of clothes for accidents
  • waterproof bib
  • boogie wipes
  • one-two new small toys
  • sippy cup
  • ipad mini (with pre-downloaded apps and videos) and headphones

(one,  two,  three,  four,  five,  six,  seven,  nine,  ten)

Prior to boarding.

For travel, I always wear Liv in a baby carrier. When she was smaller I loved using our Sakura Bloom sling. Now that she’s much heavier I’ve found my Ergobaby to be irreplaceable. It really allows me to walk around with her all day if need be. The easy-access pockets in the front are perfect to throw my I.D. and boarding passes in so that I’m not constantly searching through bags or misplacing them. The hood is also perfect for nursing or getting her too sleep when there’s too much going on around her. 

If we’re flying very early in the morning (ie, Liv is still asleep before we leave), I usually try keeping her asleep prior to boarding and during take off. 

If Liv is awake when we get to the airport, I try my best to let her expend some energy before we board! Many airports have kid areas or baby gyms where kids can do just that - find one and take them there before the flight! Many airports don’t though, and in these cases I just let Liv explore around in a safe area near a gate without a flight assigned yet (ie, where no people are sitting around)!

You can also ask at the gate for a seat with extra leg room (or the bassinet if it's a larger plane/longer flight) if there are some still available. Most folks have to pay extra for these if you do it in advance, but most people at the desk will do it for no charge if they still have some available at the time. 

On the plane. 

Most airlines allow those traveling with small children to board first. I like this option because you can get situated before everyone is bumping elbows on the plane, get to for sure use the overhead bins for storage, and can get your seat and child prepared before takeoff. 

I store my larger carry-on in the overhead bin and the diaper bag under the seat in front of us. I make sure to place things I will use frequently in easy reach - a pack of boogie wipes, Liv’s sippy cup, and my cell phone get placed in the seat pockets in front of me. If we’ve got extra room I’ll also store some snacks and the iPad. I also like to use the “sick bag” provided as a trash bag.

If Liv is sleepy, I’ll keep her in the Ergobaby and nurse her at takeoff; she will fall asleep soon after. If she’s wide awake, I take her out of the carrier and allow her to sit on my lap or dance around in place, but still make sure to nurse her on takeoff! Having them nursing (or bottle-feeding) on takeoff keeps their ears from popping, so make sure to do this during takeoff! If your little one is past that stage, having them snacking or chewing on something during takeoff is also helpful for keeping those little ears from popping. 

For many flights, the sound of the airplane itself and the nursing on takeoff lends itself to a nap. If the baby sleeps (and if you are also tired), now is the time to try and nap yourself! I never buy magazines or anything to “keep me busy” during flights - it will mostly just lead to disappointment when you weren’t able to get to it; instead I try to nap when she does. 

For our most recent trip to California, Liv slept the first hour of the flight, but then was wide awake and ready to play for the remaining five and a half hours of the flight! So what to do then? Here are a few things to keep them busy:

small new toys - I like to pack one or two small new toys for flights - they keep Liv more engaged because they’re novel. I like to pick things that have multiple ways to play with them too. Liv loves these flashcards and can play with them for quite some time. Wooden toys like these stacking cars are also great - they can roll them around like cars, play with the wheels, stack them, or just chew on them! 

anything (safe) can be a new toy - for most babies, planes are completely new environments! Use that to your advantage. Plastic drinking cups can be your best friend. Liv was fascinated with them - she would sort her snacks into the cups, stack the cups, or try nesting them inside each other. She seriously played with these for a good half hour. Get creative with what can be a toy! She also loved the remote control on the seat, and had tons of fun pressing all the buttons. 

iPad mini - I know the use of iPads in babies and toddlers is debated. But not for me. Liv will run and play outside over the ipad any day, and we will continue to keep her preferences this way as she gets older. But when babies have to sit still for hours at a time, there’s nothing wrong with the ipad. The people who say babies weren’t meant to watch videos should also remember that babies probably weren’t meant to sit still for 6 hour flights either. Modern-day problems call for modern-day solutions. Ok, enough of my rant! 

Before out trip I make sure to download a couple of episodes of Liv’s favorite show (Dora the Explorer) and have that ready to go for times she is really restless. I also have some fun apps downloaded on the iPad as well - some of our favorites are listed below:

Our iPad mini is protected with this case and these screen protectors - Liv has dropped it/chewed on it/spit up on it and our iPad is still in pristine condition. It’s also very easy for me to remove when I want to use it, but not so much so that Liv can ever get it off. We also use over-ear headphones so those seated next to us don’t have to put up with Dora or animal sounds! 

And a key principle for traveling? If they’re happy, leave them! Do not try to change activities just because you think they’ve had “enough” of it. They’ll let you know when they’ve had enough, so until then, leave them! And breathe. Traveling with children can be stressful, but if you sort of accept this and prepare in advance, you can have a successful trip! Remember that the most important thing is everyone arrive safely. Happy travels!

November 19, 2014

Sling Diaries: On Travel

And just like that, we've arrived at my last entry in the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries. Just one more reminder of how quickly time passes, as if we needed another. These last six months have been a whirlwind of returning to clinical life, wedding planning, getting married, residency applications, first birthdays, and beginning the residency interview process. It's quite fitting, actually, that this month's entry is on the topic of travel. Read my previous entries here!

Dearest Liv,

I write this letter to you from the comfort of our cozy little one-bedroom apartment in Boston. The little apartment I moved into when I first started this journey of medical school, my first place all to myself, the mark of the start of my "big-girl" life. Now this apartment has become a home, thanks to you and your father, full of laughter and dirty laundry the way real homes are.

As I write this, daddy is in New York City, one of his seemingly endless trips around the country as he interviews for residency. Soon enough I'll be starting the same interview process. Our situation is a little unique for couples - where others can couples match to guarantee they end up together, we can't. But oh, my darling, we will end up together. Don't you worry, we will.

This traveling has been stressful, mostly because I've never traveled with the intent of finding a home. I've had my share of travels, and boy do I love it. Your Abuela and Papa John won't hesitate to tell you stories of the time I told them I was leaving to Europe for over a month, by myself. I was just a kid then, fresh out of college, but I yearned to see the world more than anything. Growing up the real world was limited to our little city of Springfield - we didn't have the money to travel far, no one in our family even had passports! But I knew the world was much much bigger than that, and I wanted to see it all. For some people the idea that the world is a big place is a scary thing; for your mama it was an amazing thing. Something that promised unseen beauty and lessons I wouldn't find anywhere else.

And that's just what travel gives you - beauty that you won't find anywhere else and lessons from the world. Once you travel, you realize that the world isn't that big of a place, that we all have similarities and things that unite us as people. It's beautiful, really, comforting to say the least. Wherever you go, you will find a mother and child. Wherever you go, you will find a little boy and his puppy. Wherever you go, you will find doctors and patients, police and firefighters. And although the languages may all be different, I hope I can teach you that kindness truly is a universal language, spoken and understood by those who see good and beauty in the world. And there are so many of those folks out there, baby girl, I hope you will be one of them.

As I've morphed from a young woman traveling to see the world, to a young mother traveling to find a home, a truth has become increasingly clear. Wherever we go, wherever we end up, home is wherever you and your father are. Whether it be across the country or across the street, my home is with you. And that my beautiful girl, is a wonderful, powerful, fear-conquering feeling. Cheers sweet pea, to many more travels and making our new home, wherever it may be.

Love always,

I'm wearing Liv in in my Sakura Bloom pure linen sling in Maple, cozy long sleeved tee shirt (here), live in leggings (here), and Gap slippers (here). Liv is wearing a Lucky Palm Tree headband and Carter's top and leggings. 
Our duvet cover is from Ikea (here). 

Read more about all things travel here, and stay tuned Friday for a post with tips on traveling with a baby or toddler! 

November 18, 2014

Holiday Decorating Ideas

I'm usually a strict "no Christmas until after Thanksgiving" kind of girl, but this year, either because of the extreme cold, or all of the traveling, I'm getting into the Christmas spirit much earlier than usual! I've even caught myself listening to Christmas music and already watching Christmas movies! 

Here are some DIY home decorations and gift-wrapping ideas that have me really excited for the most wonderful time of year! 

I love all of these because we can go on a family walk together in our park and pick up most of the supplies (pine cones and pine leaves) - the only thing you'd have to actually buy is maybe some twine and paper (although I usually use paper bags from grocery trips when I forget my own reusable bags)! Talk about super low-budget, eco-friendly, and beautiful holiday decorating! 

All images {via}

November 17, 2014


Happy Monday!!

I hope you all had wonderful weekends and productive weeks (last week). As you know from last week's post, we were busy in California for some of N's residency interviews! Here are a few photos from our trip - stay tuned this week for a post about traveling with a baby/toddler (now that we've traveled with Liv at 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, and 14 months)! 

Santa Monica was absolutely gorgeous! Liv was a bit worried about the sand at first (this wasn't her first time at a beach, but it was her first time at a beach now that she could walk). N got her comfortable and in no time we couldn't pull her away from the sand! It was funny to see so many people in full coats with fur trim - it was 65 degrees! It's all relative of course :)

We spent some time checking out Westwood and Hollywood - I even got to spend time with my friend I traveled through Europe with (it had been 4 years since we last saw each other)! Funny to think this was our first time hanging out on U.S. soil haha! Liv couldn't get enough of the view and breeze from the Griffith Observatory!

To save money we booked all of our stays through Airbnb and could not have been happier with our places! They were both absolutely beautiful and cheaper than even the cheapest motels in the area. 

Our last stop was the Palo Alto area and an evening trip to San Francisco. It was all so beautiful! Thanks for a great week, California! 

Here are some of the pieces from our trip! As always our Ergobaby was a lifesaver (but more on that and other travel necessities later this week)!

November 10, 2014

5 Common Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Happy Monday! I hope everyone is ready and excited for a new week! This week promises to be a busy one for us - N is interviewing in California for a couple of programs and Liv and I are coming along for the trip! This will be my only chance to see some of the west coast before N has to submit his rank list (his list is due before my interviews happen), so I've got lots to see (thanks to many of your recommendations)! 

My earliest residency interviews are scheduled in December, but I'm already feeling a little nervous about them! As many times as I've gone to interviews they are always still a little nerve-wracking! And I know I'm not alone. Although I've done posts about medical school interviews and interview travel tips, you guys still have lots of questions about interviews! 

So today I thought I'd do a post addressing some of the most common mistakes people make for medical school interviews (that likely are the same for any interview really). As some of you know I've helped out with HMS interviews for entering classes and for outreach programs in the past, so most of these tips will come from that experience. I hope you find it helpful, and as always, leave questions or feedback in the comments section!

So let's get to it! On to the mistakes and how to avoid them!

  1. Being too laid-back. Interviews are a stressful time for applicants. But for the most part, once you've been invited to an interview, the school believes you can handle the work; at the interview they want to get down to who you are as a person, what your motivations are, and if you'd be a good fit in their program. So the general advice would be to relax and be yourself. Some people take this a little too far though, and immediately act a little too at ease - either by using vulgar language, making inappropriate jokes, or having a general IDGAF attitude. All not cool. Yes, be yourself, but be yourself on your best-behavior - it is what we as your interviewers are expecting. 
  2. Not taking student interviewers seriously. Many medical schools have interviews where you are scheduled to interview with a faculty member or two as well as a current medical student. Although we all feel a little more comfortable with student interviews, this isn't an excuse to fall into the first mistake of being too laid-back. Treat this interview just as you would any of your other interviews - maintain your professionalism. Again, professional does not mean stiff or cold, trust me you can be professional and pleasant! Student interviews are a great chance to ask what current students like most about the program or why they ended up choosing that program (you should of course wait until your interviewer asks if you have any questions). 
  3. Using a strength as one of your weaknesses. A very common interview question we throw to applicants is "what is your greatest weakness" in some form or another (what challenges you the most, what do you need to work on, etc.). Your interviewers are all real people, and as real people, we ALL know every.single.person has many weaknesses. This question is not a weed-out to find the applicants without weaknesses. So when an applicant says "my biggest weakness is that I care too much" or "I try too hard," I (and many others) do an immediate internal eye-roll. What we want to hear is you being genuine and sharing something that you truly do struggle with, and (most importantly) what you are actively doing to address it. For some people it's that they really do have a difficult time memorizing details, for others its family commitments that cut into your study time, etc. If you're not doing anything about the "weakness," don't share it (and you should probably consider doing something about it just for yourself lol). We want to know that applicants can recognize their shortcomings and do something about them, plain and simple. 
  4. Not having questions. Now, we've all been there, at the end of the interview the interviewer asks "do you have any questions?" And honestly, sometimes you just don't. Especially at the end of a long interview day (or days), we just can't really come up with something to ask. But while this to you may not mean you're not interested in the program, to your interviewer, it can come off as just that.  As much as you may just want to end up at a medical school, or in a given residency, programs want to know that you want to be there. We understand that you're applying to multiple places, but when you ask a good question like "what are common extracurriculars that your students participate in" or, "what have you most enjoyed about teaching here/being a student here," or "are there any planned changes to the current curriculum," and the like, you show that you are interested in learning more about the program, and hopefully the answers can help you a little in getting a better picture of the program. Asking something particular to the program is always a plus - although again, please be genuine. Ask things for which you truly care about the answer - it's hard to do on the spot, but come prepared!
  5. Being negative. Maybe it's just me, but I think it's others too, keep anything negative out of your mouth! Do not bad mouth any person, school, program, specialty, geographic area, anything! You do not know your interviewers or where they are from, what would offend them, etc. and talking negative always brings into question your judgement and attitude. You may have tougher interviewers who almost sound like they want to hear something negative ("what did you like least about xyz"...) but don't give into the negative trap! I stick to my guns. You can answer questions (being evasive is not a good thing either), but try to focus on the positive - whether it's an improvement made, a lesson you learned, or something that you hope to change in the future. I'm all about the positive, and many of your interviewers are, too.
Again - hope this post can help some of you! Keep up the hard work!! 

November 7, 2014

Life Lately and a Giveaway!

Hi all! I've been a little m.i.a. this week, but I've been busy with preparing for interviews and playing solo mama for a bit since N has already started his interviews and has been traveling! It's a crazy but really really exciting time for our family. As stressful as some of it is we feel incredibly blessed that this is the current situation we're facing. 

And on that note, it's been a while since I've hosted a giveaway, but let's just say I've got some good ones planned in the next couple of months, so keep the page bookmarked! You ladies know I like to look put together, but rarely do I have time to look put together. Easy wardrobe staples like this shirt dress are key to looking good without much thought and getting on to the more important parts of life - whether it's school, work, children, or all three! I'm partnering with the ladies at Brass Clothing to give away a dress of your choice from their amazing collection of simple, beautiful, high quality dresses, valued from $75-$120 (and really way more than that, I've never owned a dress of this quality before)! I'm hosting the giveaway on Instagram so hop on over to my feed there to enter!! A random winner will be announced on Instagram on Saturday, November 15th.

Aaaand for any of you in love already and just wanting a dress of your own, use promo code LAURA10 for $10 off your order! This Brass coupon code will be good until Sunday the 16th!

Happy weekend!

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!
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