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

September 29, 2014

Fall Work Layers

Sharing a simple layered look as temperatures start to get cooler! My favorite time of year! Hope you all have a wonderful start to your weeks!

Gap striped shirt (similar here), Charlotte Russe cardigan (similar here), American Apparel pants (here), Bobbles and Lace shoes (similar on sale here), tote bag (similar here)

September 22, 2014

Memorization Tips

Happy Monday everyone! I hope those of you in school feel like things got off to a great start! Many of you have already taken your first exams of the school year (and I'm sure you did great), but one question that keeps popping up is how to memorize so much information in such a short period of time! I hope today I can share some tips that may help some of you take in what feels like a firehose of information!

Read with intent. We all can recall times we read a page only to have to go right back and re-read it because we were thinking about something else while reading or answering text messages or looking up to see what was happening on your TV show. What a waste of time! Try your best to shut out all distractions (I love putting headphones on and just listening to white noise) and really read with the intent to have that stuff stick. Highlight things you need to take notes on, and go back later to take organized notes. Ask yourself questions in your head while you read and try to make connections with information you already know. This style of active reading will really allow you to get a better grasp of the information.

Review and repeat. Try to get your reading for class done the day before, so that class itself can serve as the review session (or a chance to clarify anything that didn't make sense). During class edit any of the notes you had taken. Review these notes again before you go to bed (and after you've done the reading for the next day). Your review list at night will seem like it gets longer and longer but you'll soon find that you're remembering a lot of the earlier material. Don't waste time re-reviewing that until before the exam, instead focus on the stuff you still have to memorize.

Close your eyes, visualize. If you are a visual learner like me, taking organized notes and using figures (either for pathways, organ systems, or anything really) will help as you review material. Pretty soon you'll be able to use these visual aids to remember things (I literally will remember which corner of the page a certain detail was on). Having full pages of notes make this difficult to do - break it up into smaller more digestible pieces.

Use study aids. Some people really like flash cards, and if you're one of them, use them! Make new ones after each class once you've solidified your "notes" on that material. There are lots of apps now that allow you to make flashcards on your iPhone or smartphone, some even have saved libraries of other flashcards that may be applicable to what you're studying. I've never been a huge fan of flashcards but they can definitely be helpful, especially in quizzing yourself. One thing I have always done is take pictures of diagrams or figures I made on my phone and add to a "study" album so I can review those wherever - on the train, at the gym, or in bed!

Say it out loud. I don't know but for some reason actually saying things out loud helps with memorization. Especially if you're memorizing something like a speech or presentation, practice out loud (in a place where no one will mind, haha)! I'm super super corny, so please don't judge me for what I'm about to share, but I sometimes like to act like I'm giving a lecture on the material - it really helps!

Use mnemonics. Especially in medical school where the list of things to memorize is ENDLESS, mnemonics are a med student's best friend. They really are wonderful triggers to help remember lists of things - like the cranial nerves, or the side effects of medications, or the criteria for mania - anything! There are tons of resources online and books (like First Aid) that will have lots of mnemonics - one website I really like is Sometimes simply numbering your lists can be enough - knowing that there are 5 nail findings in psoriasis you need to memorize may be trigger enough.

Understand. At the end of the day, what will help the most with long term memory of any material is to really understand it. You can (and will) forget the minor details at some point if you're not using it all the time, but if you really understand the material you can still work your way through many problems and figure it out.

I hope some of these tips were helpful! What things help you the most with memorization? Would love to hear any of your tips or tricks in the comments section!

(image via)

September 19, 2014

Weekend Wear

Hurray it's Friday! We've got a crazy weekend ahead with Liv's 1st birthday party on Saturday and a race to run on Sunday! Should all be lots of fun, but still requires lots of errands to be run before any of it can happen! Today I'm sharing a simple fall outfit perfect for getting stuff done.

one - cozy cashmere cardigan in my staple grey, found here; two - plaid infinity scarf, found here; three - perfectly simple all white converse, found here; four - to-go mug to keep my much-needed coffee hot, found here; five - broken in blue jeans in a fresh higher waist fit, found here; six - soft leather carry-all, found here; seven - gold initial charm necklace, found here; eight - relaxed white t-shirt, found here.

September 17, 2014

Sling Diaries: On Vision

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope you all are having great weeks - N and I submitted our applications for residency this week, so our place is full of excitement and some nerves and lots of late night talks about the next four to six years! Today I'm sharing a letter to Liv on this month's Sling Diary topic of vision. Read the rest of my entries here, and check out all the other amazing Sling Diarists here!

Dearest Liv,

Vision might be my favorite sense. I like to see things with my own eyes; I like to take pictures of things that I see so I can look at them forever, or plan trips to see things I have yet to see. I believe in the power of observation and am constantly trying to improve my own.

If you could see what I see when I look at you, you'd see happiness. You'd see a little wonder walking around discovering new things every day, a miniature of your father with your aunt's curly hair who laughs at the tiniest of things, sometimes nothing at all. Watching you take in the world around you has opened up my own eyes to the excitement of the simplest things. I watch as you try to grasp the stream of water I pour in front of you during bath time, or try to use the keys to get into the door, or reach with all of your might to try and put your shoe on your toe. My current favorite is you grabbing a framed picture of us and saying "mom." I watch these things and I remember what is so powerful about vision. In the simplest of meanings, it is having the power to see, and we've been blessed that you can do so. It is one thing to see, but it's another to observe, to realize that what you are seeing means something. And that's just what you're doing - observing and making connections and finding patterns and learning to anticipate - it's mind-blowing. As simple as your associations may be right now, you will use these skills of observation for the rest of your life, adding more and more to your personal painting of the world. 

I hope I can teach you that we all have our own paintings of the world - what seems one way to you may seem completely different to someone else - and that's just fine. A keen observer will take note of what she sees, but also learn from what others have seen as well, knowing that our past experiences and sights we've seen alter our vision constantly. I think you're going to be quite the observer, Liv.  

With observation comes knowledge, but also, habituation. What once grabbed your attention because of its novelty, loses its intrigue when you've figured it out, adding it to the list of things you "know." My hope for you is that you will always find something new to see, or at least something beautiful. Mommy is very very far from seeing it all, none of us have, so my eyes are always open. But some days everything is the same, there is nothing new - it is especially important on these days to know there will always be something beautiful, you just have to remember to look for it. The steam dancing up from a cup of coffee, the first morning light, a flower growing in the concrete - all little wonders I hope you will notice even as their novelty fades. 

Love always,

I'm wearing an Old Navy Oxford top (here) and cardigan (here), jeans and flats from Bobbles and Lace (jeans here and similar shoes here), and Liv in my Sakura Bloom linen sling in Twilight.

Liv is wearing an American Apparel striped onesie (here), H&M cardigan (here), Carter's leggings (here), Baby Gap moccasins (similar here), and Sherbert Lane bow (she'll be releasing this style again soon)!

September 15, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday, Baby Girl

At 3:24a.m. one year ago, at the final push before being whisked off to an emergency C-section, Olivia finally decided to join us (read my full birth story here). At 3:24 this morning, she woke up and just wanted to chat in bed. I listened to her quiet whispers, half-asleep, thinking it must almost be time to wake up. Finally I looked at my clock and it was 3:26. And it had been exactly a year. One year of existence for this whispering little being nuzzled up against my neck. 

In the grand scheme of things one year doesn't sound like very long, and it's not. But as a new parent, one year, man, that's something. So many changes, as cliche as it sounds the only thing that's guaranteed, is more change. So many stages - last night we watched videos of her in the hospital when she was first born - how could that little wrinkly and uncoordinated little thing be the toddler we already have now? The little girl who fearlessly rushes up the stairs, mustering up all her strength to pull up each step. The little girl who gives the best hugs, somehow learning to pat the back of whoever is lucky enough to be on the receiving end of one of those gifts. The little girl who is already talking and shaking her head and pointing and, just, growing! To say I'm at a loss for words (or at least words that make sense of it all) would be an understatement.

Just as fast as she is changing, so is what's going on around her, and she has handled it with as much grace as a baby can have. From me constantly studying for Step 2 the same month she was born (see here), to having me around constantly while on maternity leave, to heading back to work, to starting with a nanny, and then with another nanny, and now to daycare, the girl has rolled with it all. She's got a lot of team in her, that's for sure. 

I get so many questions from you all, about motherhood and medicine, and being a working mom. I haven't decided when or how to address it, but I'll just say a few words about it here, since I'm already rambling. Motherhood is hard. Working is hard. Medical school is hard. If you're one of those people who likes to focus on that stuff, sure, it's all hard. But I was always taught that the things in life worth having don't come easily, and I've been blessed with the craziness to want it all and the drive to work for it. I absolutely love being a mother, and I absolutely love being an almost-doctor, and despite getting home exhausted some days and having to keep going, I couldn't be more grateful that I get to serve as a role model for Liv, and in some ways for many of you too. This year has taught me an enormous amount about sacrifice, patience, powerlessness, and most of all love. I feel like the grinch who's heart grew three sizes that day - except I started off as a person much nicer than the grinch and I've had 364 more days of heart growing than him - so much love for my daughter, my husband, my career, my support (friends and family), and you all! Enough rambling for today ;)

Thank you all for following this journey and for wishing my sweet Liv a happy FIRST birthday!

September 11, 2014

Simple Bedroom Inspiration

I've been doing a lot of simplifying lately, from cleaning out the dark and cluttered cabinets Liv so eagerly wants to play in, to cleaning up the blog design! Next on my list if I ever get the time - the bedroom! I like the minimalist style, but when you have 3 people living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment, minimalism just isn't realistic. We have stuff and it has to go somewhere!! Simple is the more appropriate term I think. Here are a few spaces that are inspiring me now. 

Images via

September 8, 2014

Starting classes off right

image via

I always loved starting new classes, I saw each new beginning as a chance to better than before, a nice fresh start! For some of you you're starting college classes, others may just be heading into a new set of courses, and still others are starting medical school or grad school! Go you!! 

Today I'm sharing a few tips on how to establish (or re-invent) good class and study habits. 

1) know the expectations - hopefully your professors provide syllabi for their courses, and if they do, really give it a good read. Make use of upperclassmen who have taken the courses before you - they are an invaluable resource for the "unwritten" expectations of the professor and can also share things they wish they did or knew when the course first began.

2) know the people - depending on your school it may not be possible to ever be "buddy buddy" with your professors, but the least you can do is attend office hours at least once. Most professors love what they do and are eager to teach students - they are most eager to teach students who really want to learn. If there are TAs or tutors for the course get to know them too; make use of anyone who can help you learn the material. Get to know a couple of your classmates as well - you can be support for each other but also make study groups if that works for you.

3) know the grading - now let me make a quick point before I jump into this one - there is a difference between you learning something and you getting a good grade in the class. I hope your goal is to truly learn something (many things!) in whatever class you're in. But we all know grades matter, so figure out how you will be graded and plan the semester accordingly. Does most of the grade come from two big tests, one large project, a final paper, or overall class participation? It's almost always a mix, but learn what it will be for each class especially if it's skewed towards one thing. The earlier you prepare for whatever it is the better! You could kill yourself all semester completing every single assignment and then bomb the final because you didn't spend enough time studying - if assignments were worth 70% of your grade you should be ok, but if the exam was 70%, you're out of luck. So figure out what's going to matter!

4) make a schedule - gather all of your syllabi and your academic planner and fill it in with assignment due dates and exam dates, etc. These hard dates can be penned into the month pages of your calendar; pencil in shorter goals for yourself for the weekly calendar so nothing sneaks up on you! For example - if you have an exam on say, 12 chapters, break it up and pencil in deadlines for mastering three chapters at a time, and then pencil in a review session before the exam! For a final paper, pencil in deadlines for finding sources, taking notes, and writing a draft or two before the paper's final due date. Chopping up assignments like this into smaller pieces makes it much easier to stay on top of classwork and applies for studying too! Set goals for when you're actually "studying." See my post on study tips for more specific tips about the actual studying! A good goal for staying on top of studying is to come to class having done the relevant readings already - this ensures that you can actually soak up what's going on during lecture instead of trying to figure out what's going on or blindly taking notes! Some say in the evening you can review, but the evening should be more for preparing for the next day's classes - the class itself can serve as the review! At the end of each week review and memorize things that have to be learned!

I love scheduling my actual day into hours with my to-do list in site so I can squeeze in everything that needs to be done (including relaxing)! I'm a little obsessed with the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley - here is a free daily print out that you could use for yourself and see if this type of scheduling works for you too!

I hope some of these tips can help you all who have just started a new school year! Make sure to leave feedback or post ideas in the comments section below! 

September 6, 2014

Hello September

Hello all and happy September! Hope you're all having wonderful weekends. Just wanted to share a few pictures from the last week - it's been a busy one! Liv started daycare (a big change for us that will definitely take some getting used to), N started classes for his public policy degree, and I'm back in lab for the month. We've been making the most of our evenings and weekends together for sure!

Many of you wanted to know where I got my anatomical heart t-shirt from - it's by Anatomist Apparel - find their store here! Proceeds from each piece of clothing go to different charities - 25% of proceeds from this shirt go to the American Heart Association!

Stay tuned Monday for a post on establishing good study habits for the start of the new school year!
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