Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Review: c. Booth Vanilla Butter Body Lotion

With harsh winter winds approaching, I always find I have to make more of an effort to take care of my skin.  While it's largely covered by tons of layers, I still experience more dryness than I do at other times of the year (I'm sure my love of hot showers is part to blame!).  As I refine parts of my beauty routine and establish others, I jumped at the chance to try out a product from the c. Booth skincare line.  As I transition away from the body mists and scented lotions of popular retailers to products that will actually support my skin as I age, I decided to try this Vanilla Butter Body Lotion.

After a few weeks I've noticed it leaves my skin nice and smooth without a greasy buildup.  It also lacks the initial watery feeling I've found with other drugstore brands.  The vanilla scent is very subtle which is great for those sensitive to fragrance or if you want to layer your favorite perfume on top.  This 4-in-1 claims to exfoliate, hydrate, nourish, and firm.  While I haven't noticed any firming or exfoliating, I would agree that it does nourish and hydrate.   I wouldn't say it's ideal for extremely dry skin; however, with the exception of my hands, my skin still feels soft at the end of the day.  It's mild and light weight enough that I think it would be good for the summer, and you can't beat the value for the price.  With the size of the bottle, I have no doubt it will last me a long time.

Check out more c. Booth products (paraben, sulfate, mineral oil, and petroleum free!) including scrubs, oil mists and body butters here


I received this product c/o of c. Booth through Influenster.  I was not paid for this review; all opinions are my own. 

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Night at the Museum

Actually, more like an afternoon at the museum.  J and I took a trip down to the Academy of Natural Sciences two weeks ago during my fall break.  Here's a few of my favorite shots from our visit, along with a few of my favorite pieces from Old Navy (you know, for those Cyber Monday and future holiday sales!). 

Popcorn-stitch Sweater (here)
Infinity Scarf (here)

Here's a few of my favorite Old Navy pieces lately, including my new favorite work pants and the comfiest slippers, $100 less than this designer pair!



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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thoughts & Thanksgiving

Looking back as November comes to an end, time seems to be flying by.  My first term of second year was over before I knew it, and last week's fall break flew by even faster.  While I didn't get everything on my "to-do" list done, the time off was just what I needed.  It's so easy to get caught up in pursuit of the next thing that we neglect to fully recognize and appreciate all we already have.  Thanksgiving.  Gratitude for what we have as we reflect on what we've been given.  Whether or not you're where you want to be, remember that life is both a gift, but it is also a journey.  So during this season, view the holidays as a little reminder to slow down, a time to refocus on what matters and to count our many blessings.

Infinity Scarf (this year's version, here)
Puffer Jacket (on major sale, here)
Ankle Boot (here)
Ponte Pants (here)
Tote Bag (similar here)

Stay safe, and enjoy the holiday weekend!  

Follow along on Instagram for inspiration and updates in between blog posts, and thank you for joining me on this journey, for reading and following along!
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Sunday, October 25, 2015

{Fine Finds} The Body Shop

I'm not a beauty blogger.  Why?  Because I rarely wear makeup.  I have nothing against it.  Working in a beauty department selling it has only exacerbated my fear of "testers."  That being said, I do want to add one or two items to my routine because I do see the benefit as I get older and advance in my career of adding a little polish to my look.  So, I'm starting with the basics.  You can't get any more basic then your skin.  Years ago I first tried this exfoliating washcloth from the Body Shop, and I can't recommend it enough.  It's the ultimate exfoliant, no scrub needed.  It does a great job of getting rid of all those dead cells, sweat, and buildup from creams and lotions.  It also dries fast, so it's great for travel.

After seeing it on Sara's wishlist, I also decided to give this lip tint a try.  It has special ingredients in it that adjust to your body's pH developing a custom color to match your skin.  I was a bit skeptical at first but it does work if you're looking for a skin flattering pink stain.  At the end of the day, I'm still a balm girl; however, I'm starting to see the benefit of taking better care of my skin and adding a bit more effort in this area.

What are some of your favorite beauty products and resources? 

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sweater Weather

   

What's the opposite of buyer's remorse?  You know, when you're remorseful for something you didn't buy?  Whatever you'd call it, that's what I have with this sweater.  I don't do much shopping these days with an exam literally every other week, so it was a nice treat to get to a mall last weekend.  While I was there, I stumbled across this cozy sweater in
Forever21 that someone put back in the wrong place.  In retrospect this pretty stone color would have made a nice addition to my closet.  At the same time, after seeing that it came in two other colors I couldn't quite make up my mind.  I'm working on being more intentional about my purchases and only buying things I really "need."  For instance, I could use a classic black sweater.  While this boyfriend cardigan has been my "go-to" for the last few years, I'm looking for something a bit heavier yet still polished enough to wear over professional clothes.

Does this ever happen to you?  Do you ever think about the things you didn't buy? 


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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tips: What to Do With Old Bananas


I don't know about you, but it seems like I can never finish a bunch of bananas before they turn brown.  By then they're way too sweet to be palatable for me, but over the past year I've found a little trick for using them.  I always make sure to keep a box of banana bread mix on hand for these situations.  Even though the recipe on the box doesn't call for it, I've been known to mash one or two of them up and drop it right in the batter.  Not only does it add to the flavor, but I find that it adds a little extra moistness to the muffins as well.  I've also added them to blueberry muffin mix.  Especially if you have a busy schedule, these are easy to whip on at the start of the week, making for a nice snack or quick breakfast during the week.

How do you salvage old fruit?  Share your recipes and kitchen tips below!
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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Things to Do: October 2015

Moccasins (here), Blanket Scarf (almost identical), my favorite Jeans (under $10!)

Inspired by this post a few days ago from a new favorite, here's my list of things to do before the month is over

Apple Cider Donuts.  This is an absolute must for me every year.  I eat at least half a dozen by myself in about two days.  I always buy them from here, but if you're feeling particularly ambitious you can always make your own with this recipe.

Decorate.  Pumpkins, plaid, leaves, fall colors.   There are so many ways to do this.  Drape a throw blanket across your bed or couch.  You can even hit up the dollar store like I did for these floral-pumpkin arrangements.  It doesn't have to be expensive.  I've seen pumpkins of various sizes for under $5 at my local market.  Incorporate some DIYs as well like this wreath.  Add some branches to a vase or make a fall flower arrangement.  Adding a few little touches early in the season will have you all set for Thanksgiving as well.

Pumpkin.  Not only are they great for decor, but this is also the perfect time to try out fall recipes.  Whether you buy a few cans of pureef or harvest your own from fresh pumpkins I recommend doing it now.  I'm still not sure how true this is, but I’ve heard there may be a pumpkin shortage; I wouldn't want anyone to miss out.  Once November gets here, it will really be in demand for Thanksgiving.  And if eating pumpkin is not your thing, you can still bring a bit of pumpkin into the kitchen with this adorable pie dish.  I ordered it as a gift, and I wish I had more use for it now because I would have ordered one for myself as well.  This pumpkin cocotte would be perfect for baking sweet potatoes, with these mini-cocottes perfect for soups or desserts.

Shop.  One of my favorite things about fall is the color palette.  Navy, browns, burgundy, camels, and olive.  Gotta love how all these colors magically go together in any combination.  For that reason I'm looking forward to wearing these multi-colored heels from Clarks, a company known for comfort.  "Sold" is when I find something that can be used or worn many different ways, and these comfortable heels are definitely that.  I know they'll go with pretty much everything in my closet. On the complete opposite end of the style spectrum, this is also the perfect time to buy your bean boots.  Depending on what size you wear and when you order, you're lucky if you get them by the end of the year.  Seriously.  But it's worth it for the classic weather boot.  They're practical and definitely the kind of shoe you can keep for years.  And if you're still not convinced, Sperry has some pretty cute alternatives too.

What's on your fall bucket list?
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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Green Thumb In Progress

Remember when I said, "plant something to keep throughout the journey"?  Well, I've planted multiple things throughout my journey, and only the faux survived.  Growing up with a mother who loves gardening and plants, I've definitely inherited her passion, but not her green thumb.  I've lost several plants over the last year, including this succulent purchased only a few weeks ago; however, I won't give up.  I continue to try again.  At the same time, I'm exercising a bit more wisdom this time around and focusing on the joy of faux plants in lieu of buying more living.  I have one of these in my bedroom and bathroom, but my favorite is this new addition.  Especially with my current schedule, I think it's best I limit my living plants to a number I can better manage; at this time, that's just two: my "long standing" corn plant and a replacement aloe.

Here are a few more favorites:

What are some of your favorite house plants?  Any tips on how to cultivate my green thumb and keep them alive? 

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Life Lately (10.5.15)


My second year of medical school has been off to a great start.  Lots of prayer, positive thinking, and adjusted study habits later, and thank God, I'm in a better place than I was this time last year.  So much still lies ahead, but I'm thankful to finally begin to see some of my work pay off and so grateful for all the opportunities I have.

After a few unsuccessful alternatives, finally took the plunge and purchased these, totally changing my study game forever.

Became a mentor to high school students.

Got my first car!...and overcame my fear of pumping my own gas!!!  Maybe the last part doesn't sound like such a big deal, but due to a childhood mishap I've had a bit of a phobia of pumping gas. 

Tried Essie nail lacquer for the first time and loved it!  My favorite (and only) colors so far are Lady Like and Topless and Barefoot.  Despite the name of the second one, they'll both be great colors for me to rotate between when I have to dress professionally.

Major closet cleaning, organization, and a love affair with these laundry and
cleaning products. 

Bought some new new plants, lost a new plant.

Early (26th) birthday presents.

My first batch of apple cider donuts. 

And many answered prayers!

I also hit 500 followers on Instagram! So much inspiration, tips, positivity and connections shared with you "insta-friends," so big thanks and much love to you all for all the support with this "micro-blog."  And if you don't already, join in and follow along!  



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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What's in My Bag? Second Year of Medical School

While most people consider Labor Day to be the end of summer, my summer ended weeks ago with the start of my second year of medical school.  To kick off what is considered the official back to school season for some, I'm sharing some everyday favorites, a few of the things I usually carry in my bag.  

In terms of the actual bag I carry, on light days I can be found with this nylon carry-all tote.  After nearly four years of use, it's still going strong.  It's water resistant, lightweight, and folds up into a neat little rectangle, perfect for travel.   Here's a slightly more budget friendly option; however, when I consider how much I carry it (nearly daily), if you can splurge it's worth every penny.  You really do get what you pay for.  When I'm carrying my heavy laptop or binder full of notes for a long day, my go to is this.  It's not the prettiest backpack, but the quality is great and it has lots of pouches, so I'm sure I'll be carrying this for years, through rotations and beyond.

Being that my regular bag has no internal organization, pouches like these are essential.  One often serves as a pencil case, while I use another for personal items.  A multi-section zip wallet with plenty of room for coupons in a bright color makes it easy to find.  Bobby pins, hair elastics, tissues, lip balm, lip tint, travel lotion and hand sanitizer are just a few essentials.  I'm always sure to include tea bags (the markup is crazy, so I only ask for hot water!) and a few snacks to get me through morning classes as well.

As for the "doctor stuff," I only bring my stethoscope and gadget kit for the occasional patient exam, but come next year I'll be using them much more often!  


Here are some adorable pouches to add a little organization to your bag:
What are some of your everyday bag essentials?

P.S. I'll be doing a separate post on this, but it's so helpful I can't help but share now.  Other than my phone and wallet, the most important thing in my bag is this.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Premed Tips: Secondary Applications


I whipped up this list a while ago after talking to a coworker who was applying to medical schools.  If you sent in your primary application (general application sent to all schools) early, you're probably receiving secondaries (applications for specific schools with additional essays and questions) right about now.  Here's a few tips to help you with the process:
  • Stay Organized.  One of my coworkers started a spreadsheet with all of the usernames, passwords, and websites for all the schools to which she applied.  I didn't do this, but I think it's a great idea to keep yourself organized especially if you've applied to a lot of schools.  It will save you time from having to search through all those emails.  You can even include submission dates and application statuses.  While you're at it, keep an organized email account with separate tags and folders for all this correspondence as well.
  • Do them as you get them.  The more you procrastinate, the further behind you'll put yourself in the candidate pool.  This will be a pain especially if you still have school work to do or you work all day.  If you've applied to a lot of schools (applying to upwards of a dozen is not uncommon) they'll pile up before you know it, so don't wait.  
  • Write something memorable.  Of course, don't make things up or exaggerate.  Depending on the additional questions/essays write about something unique to you if you have the opportunity to do so.  I bet admissions committees get tons of generic statements about how great the school is with things pulled from the school's website and empty platitudes.  You want to write about something that will make them want to take a second look.  Everyone does community service and gets involved in student leadership, but you want to find a way to write about a unique or specific instance from that experience.  How did it influence you?  Did it make you look at something different?...all this being said, some secondary applications just have questions that only require a short response without much room or need for details and elaboration.  If that's the case, great.  Keep it simple and move on.  But, if you've applied to a school that's asking for a little bit more, don't cheat yourself by skimping.  Put some thought and effort into it; it'll make a difference.  
  • This time may be stressful but continue to enjoy your life.  What are your creative outlets, your hobbies?  Tap into those things.  Continue old hobbies or start a new one.  Trust me, once you start school you'll need an outlet.  This could also be a great conversation piece during interviews.  My interviewers asked me what I like to do in my downtime and for stress relief.  They want to know that you weren't so focused on building the ideal student profile that you don't know what you enjoy outside of school and eventually your career in medicine.  They want to see that you're a real person, so get out and enjoy your life while you wait!
Feel free to contact me with any questions you have, and leave any additional tips you found useful for others!  Good luck!


Accepted?  Waiting?  Working towards all of this?  
Check out my "bucket list" of things to do before starting medical school.
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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Life & Liberty

Even when you grow up in a city full of history, sometimes you still lose sight of it's significance until you see it through someone else's eyes.  A few weekends ago I was out with a friend from the West Coast who'd never seen much of historic Philadelphia. Surrounded by dozens of visitors and tourists full of intrigue, I saw the city in a different light.

I always find it amazing how one symbol can simultaneously mean both the same thing and so many different things to so many different people.  Just think of what would draw millions of people a year to this ancient form.  History.  Identity.  Hope.  Freedom.  Independence.  Even with the injustice that persists, to live in this country you are blessed.  Even with the inequality that prevails, to live in this country you are fortunate.  At heart we are much more alike than different; looking beyond our differences, therein the solution lies.  At the end of the day, we all want the same things.  Life and liberty.

And of course a rare full frontal photo of me in my "summer uniform," you know just for Mom and Dad, because I haven't seen the Liberty Bell in almost 20 years.
If you're ever in the city checking out the historical sights, be sure to swoop by South Street to visit Philadelphia's Magic Gardens and try Percy Street Barbecue.


What are some of the "must-see" attractions in your city?
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dinner with Friends

Most nights I prefer to stay in and cook at home, but it's always nice to get out every now and then for date or to catch up with a good friend.  With class starting in less than a week, I appreciate the time off to do more of these things.  A few weeks ago I went out with a good friend I've known since high school.  Between grad school and now a career and marriage, we don't see each other as often as we once did; however, we've always had the kind of friendship that picks up right where it left off.

I don't know about you, but my appetite tends to be a bit decreased during the warmer months.  Luckily for me, after a bit of wandering, we ended up at Parc, a local French bistro and restaurant.  With such great weather, we were hoping to take in the views with outdoor seating; however, a few dozen other people had the same idea.  While we ended up dining inside, the restaurant is so cozy that it was perfect for the mood of the evening, a time for catching up.  

Overall we both enjoyed the meal, ordering lighter entrees, nothing too filling. Neither of us have much experience with French food, so we weren't too adventurous in our selections.  In all honesty the bread was my favorite part of the meal (though it usually is), but I'd go back to Parc at a different time of day to try a few other things.

Get more info on Parc menu and location here.

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

So Broken In

Comfortable...so broken in.  That's exactly how I feel about this denim shirt.  One of the few things I've ever purchased full retail and completely worth it considering how much I've worn it over the years.  Versatility and durability.  Really it seems like I haven't stopped wearing any of these pieces since I've purchased them; that's what I like so much about this look.  A little bit of old, a little bit of new, worn in a way I've never worn them before.  A look that holds a memory.  A look that tells a story.  A new day, new places, and adventure with the ones I love.

Shirt // American Eagle (similar)
Tee // Old Navy (similar)
Shorts // Ann Taylor Loft (exact on crazy sale)
Sandals // Sam Edelman (exact)

Watch // Fossil (exact)
Tote // J.Crew (exact // save)
Necklace // Ann Taylor Loft (similar here and here)

What are some of your favorite pieces?  The new, the old, the broken in?
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Monday, July 27, 2015

How To Save On Home Decor


I literally whipped up this list within minutes of seeing a friend's post on her shopping adventures.  Here are a few tips on how to save a little money while adding the little touches that help make a house...or room...or apartment a home.

Target.  A necessary evil, dangerous yet oh so necessary.  When shopping "in-store" at Target for home goods be sure to use the Cartwheel app for additional savings.  Basically you can scan the item with your smart phone, and it saves any discounts for that item.  These discounts are applied to a bar code that's scanned before completing your transaction so you receive the savings.  Little known fact, Target also has coupons that you can print online.  So, check for these because it's likely there will be a coupon or two for some of the home decor brands.  Shopping online at Target will also bring you savings.  They often have special promotions and sales unavailable in stores like an extra 10-20% off for buying multiple items or spending over a certain amount; sometimes they'll even offer free gift cards for your purchase.



Thrift shops.  Especially for picture frames.  While beauties like these may be an exception, I just can't let myself spend tens of dollars on picture frames.  You can easily find some really great wood and glass frames from the Goodwill or other thrift stores for as low as $1 or $2.  The last time I was there I found a great one from Ikea, new with the plastic!  The same goes for baskets and other decorative items.  Jasmine definitely shows how a little creativity can bring new life to used pieces.  This leads me to my next point:

DIY.  Pillows, curtains, even paintings.  It's a lot easier than you realize.  I love how Kalina saved on her bedroom update by making things like pillows and even a headboard on her own.  Whether you look to an online sewing tutorial, use the ever classic needle and thread, or a no sew iron-on adhesive you can cut costs by doing it yourself instead of buying.  For all you bloggers and online sellers, Lexi has an especially clever DIY that serves as artwork as well as a backdrop for photography.

Friends/Family.  Chances are you have a friend or relative with unneeded and unused furniture or household items that they'd be happy to handover.  I've been lucky enough to have this happen several times, so don't be afraid to ask around.  Chances are you know someone with a closet, basement, or garage with a few things they wouldn't mind you taking off their hands.  Remember, you have not because you ask not.

So whether or not you consider yourself to be particularly creative, don't feel like you always have to spend more to get the look you want.  There are tons of ways to save, so be patient.  Don't forget to shop around for the best deal, and look to others for inspiration.

What are some of your money saving decor tips?  Feel free to share the results of your home DIYs below!
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Monday, July 13, 2015

Percy Street Barbecue

Nothing happens the same way twice.  This is a conclusion I've come to from years of experience.  Part of me also feels I may have read this in a book.  Either way, this past Saturday I revisited a restaurant I first tried over a year ago with J, and boy am I glad I did.  



The service at Percy Street Barbecue was impeccable.  At one point before our meal my mom dropped her knife, and the waitstaff swooped in to grab and replace it before she even had a chance to sit up.  Drinks were constantly refilled, before we even had a chance to ask.  To be clear, I'm not a difficult diner in the least.  In undergrad I worked for catering services where I did my fair share of "waiting;" I know the job, and I know "the struggle."  I also know how rude some diners can be.  Bottom line: I'm kind and reasonable.  I point out just a few examples of the great customer service this time because I don't remember it being as good the first time around.  In contrast to a cold more distant staff, this time the energy was great and we felt welcome.

Now on to the food.  Just like the first time I visited Percy's (we're on a first name basis now), I ordered "the Lockhart" a barbecue sampler with sides.  It's $25 per person, minimum of 2 people per table, but I think it's a great option because it let's you try a little bit of everything: brisket, chicken, ribs, German Potato Salad, Coleslaw, and Collard Greens.  We also ordered the Buttermilk Chive Cornbread and Mac and Cheese on the side.

We ended up at Percy's because the weather was nice and we were looking for a place with outdoor dining.  While I didn't find the food to be outstanding on my first visit, I remembered the flavors to be interesting and the chicken to be ridiculously tender.  I think that's what sold me on giving this place another try, and I must say that yet again the chicken was ridiculously tender.  As for the sides, everything was good, but in my opinion the Mac and Cheese stole the show.  My mom enjoyed everything, but she was pleasantly surprised by the Baked Beans and German Potato Salad.  One of the things we could both agree on was that each meat and side had a distinct taste.  Many times you go to a restaurant and all the food tastes the same.  Everything blends together.  However, each dish really did have it's own unique flavor profile; none of them had that mass produced taste.  At the expense of sounding dramatic, we could taste the care that went into each dish.  With each bite, we wondered which combination of seasonings and spices were used in the preparation.  Regardless of what the chef actually used, my mom's exclamations throughout dinner tell it all:

"Do they have the recipes online?"

"I'm going to leave this place with a potbelly."

"The coleslaw was divine."

"I have to bring your dad here."

In conclusion, Percy Street Barbecue is a place that will leave your mother happy and result in date night for dad.  The chicken is tender.  Each dish is unique.  And for those of you who enjoy a cold brew, Percy's has a billion different choices.  And by a billion I mean more than any other place plus cocktails and other drinks, though I stuck with the oh' so classic root beer.  So if you're ever in the Philadelphia area be sure to give Percy Street Barbecue a try.  After this experience, I know I'd definitely go back...maybe for the Pulled Pork next time.


Get all the food, drink, and location info here.

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