2013 in review

Given that this will only be my fourth blog post for the whole year, it is probably obvious that 2013 has been a busy year for me!

Professionally, this year has definitely been the best of my life. In the past 12 months, I have more than found my footing at med school. With the help and dedication of some amazing friends, we have successfully opened and operated a student-run free clinic since September. This project was conceived a little over a year ago, and the clinic has now been open and thriving for over three months!

Two med students practicing sutures on pigs' feet

Practicing before we treat any real patients!

This free clinic has opened so many doors for me – I have the amazing opportunity to work with so many students and faculty on this project. I really feel like I am doing important, meaningful work, and that I am respected by my peers and mentors for it. It is a wonderful feeling.

The second year of med school has also been so much more fun and interesting than first year. My classes are so much cooler and there is so much less “busywork”! My grades are much better this year than last year as well, which doesn’t hurt.

2014 is going to be another big year for me. The whole first half will be spend studying for “the boards”, the big USMLE Step 1 exam that I will take in June. Then, Daniel and I plan to move down to Chicago where I will start the clinical part of med school, my third year clerkships. I’m also working on a big project this spring with the goal of expanding the types of services we’re able to offer at the clinic.

But it hasn’t all been work, work, work! I have had a wonderful time with friends, family, and of course my two guys Daniel and Walter! Here is a little recap of 2013 in pictures:

In March, our friends Kaitlin and Chris came to visit, and we met up with Pamela and Javier in Chicago for a bite.

Grabbing pizza in Chicago, March 2013

Grabbing pizza in Chicago, March 2013

Then, in June, we traveled back home to Washington for a couple of weeks. We stayed at Kaitlin and Chris’s apartment in Seattle and explored our favorite city like we were tourists:

Me and Daniel on the Bainbridge ferry

Gotta wear that lifejacket!

Chris and Kaitlin at Tilth

Then we drove to Spokane for my sister’s wedding, which was lovely:

Megan and Shaun

Me and Daniel at my sister's wedding

Couples selfie

Then we settled down for a chill, relaxing summer at home in Waukegan:

We hosted a big 4th of July barbecue with with pulled pork and all the trimmings:
Backyard BBQ

We daytripped down to Chicago:

At Intelligentsia

Pamela visited for a few days later in July and we just hung out and bought matching “friend” watches (the brown one on the left):

Me and Pamela

Clocks on clocks on clocks

In August, we bought bikes and started commuting on them! I did the 13-mile round trip commute on my bike quite a few times until the weather got too cold, and I plan to start again in the spring.

New bike

In September, my mom visited, and she even went to school with Daniel and me each for a day! This is us at a school picnic where she was a big hit with all my friends:

Mom and me

Before we knew it, the holidays rolled around! We had a big Thanksgiving this year, with 14 people at our house, including Pam and Javier, plus a bunch of people from med school. Daniel outdid himself again (well, I helped a little,) and Pamela generously provided flowers for me to arrange and play with (one of my favorite things to do, but I always feel guilty about how much flowers cost). Everyone had a great time and left with full bellies.

Thanksgiving with friends

Cranberry-blueberry pie

Thanksgiving flowers

Thanksgiving with friends

Which brings us to Christmas. This was our very first Christmas away from our families. Daniel and I kept it very homey and cozy and just focused on being with each other.

Christmas cookies

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations

Christmas Day dessert

Enjoying snow and sunshine

Wearing my Christmas scarf and pin

Modeling his new Christmas gifts

We still have a few more days until we go back to school, so we’re getting ready to tackle 2014 with our usual energy. As you might have heard on Facebook already, Daniel and I will be eating vegetarian for the month of January, as an experiment more than anything.

Here’s hoping that you had a great 2013 and that your 2014 is looking even better!

First visit to the Bean


always more Walter

Well, since everybody likes the new couch, how about a video of Walter being hilarious on it?


So if you know me in person, you know I love painting my nails. I keep them short and squoval, and I paint them bright, bold colors every week.

New nail polish strips

But last week I decided to try these new nail polish strips, and I think they look pretty cool. At $10 a pack, they’re not as cheap as my normal home manicure, although since my nails are so short I can get two manis out of each package. But I do like this glittery fishnet pattern and I like how they lastd a long time without chipping. They were pretty easy to apply, and I’m sure I will get better with practice. It was kind of a pain to take them off with nail polish remover because they are pretty thick, but it wasn’t as bad as removing glitter polish.

I think these will find their way into my regular nail rotation. What do you think? Pretty cute, huh?

new couch

Recently, we were forced to get a new couch. We bought an Ikea Karlstad sofa 4 years ago when we moved into our last apartment. I really liked that couch – it has nice clean modern lines, and it looked great with the metal legs we bought for it. But it was getting lumpy and saggy and not fun to sit on anymore, and then the whole frame started sagging really bad:

saggy old couch

The wood is completely broken, and since it is broken in a place where we already made some repairs with gorilla glue a few years ago, it was going to be really hard to get in there and repair it again.

So we went to Macy’s, opened the obligatory Macy’s account to get 10% off, and two weeks later:

new couch

Classy new couch! We even sprung for the 7 year all-inclusive warranty so that this doesn’t happen to us again.

Of course, Wally had to test the thing and give his seal of approval.

Walter is SO EXCITED about the new couch!

In case you can’t tell, he is running back and forth and rubbing himself all over the couch. I highly recommend clicking through and viewing at full resolution.

Of course, we haven’t gotten around to getting rid of the old couch yet, so it is just sitting in our living room blocking the closet. Does anyone want a cute but saggy sofa?

apartment tour- dining nook

If there is one thing about an apartment that makes you feel like a real grown up, it is having an official dining room. Our dining nook may be tiny (and also house the refrigerator!) but it is a huge step up from the lap-eating that we were doing in our last place. Here is a “before” shot:

dining nook

We love the extra-wide arched doorway. The kitchen is through the arch and to the right, so in addition to housing the fridge, the nook also serves as a walkway. Here is the finished room – you can just barely see the fridge at the bottom right.

dining room AFTER

The window faces west onto the alleyway and gets great afternoon sun. Unlike the bedroom, the dining room came together really cheaply. The orange table was a free find off the street corner and we ran out and snatched it up. It appears to have been made for use in a school or something. It is just the perfect size for our little dining nook. The coral chairs came from a school down the street via Craigslist, and they cost a total of $12.

The little white cabinet is a favorite Ikea piece that used to live in our old living room. It kind of looks like a locker, doesn’t it? Combined with the giant alphabet print on the wall, I guess we may be going a little heavy-handed on the “vintage schoolhouse” theme. Whatever, I think it looks nice.

dining room AFTER

The most expensive item in the whole room is definitely the chandelier, at around $100 (including an emergency run to the hardware store to replace the fuse we blew). I have been dying to make this chandelier ever since it appeared in ReadyMade 2 years ago. It is made of glass balls from CB2 plus some basic electrical supplies from the hardware store.

I built the fixture and Daniel hardwired it in and installed a dimmer switch. And so can you! Hard wiring a light fixture is really not a big deal. We already have vague future plans to build this chandelier for the bedroom at some point.

So while it is a little bit of a squeeze, we can comfortably seat 4 people at the table – in fact, we’ve already hosted guests twice. The table is just the perfect size for the space. The only bummer is that since the table has to sit off-center to accommodate the fridge and walking space, the chandelier hangs kind of in the way. Daniel already cracked one of the balls with his head. Oh well, glass balls are cheap!

dining room AFTER

This room is pretty much finished. I did buy some oilcloth to make a table cover, and we may recover the chairs someday too. Oh, and I want to mount my pretty plate collection over the archway. But for right now, this room is really livable.

Next up: the living room!

apartment tour – bedroom

I finally got some good photos of our new apartment WITH furniture. I’m not going to say they are “after” photos because we are still not done by any means. Sometimes it is really hard for me to take pictures of things in progress – I get too critical. Plus I feel like small spaces can be so hard to photograph well. Our bedroom is actually cozy, not creepy! But here are some “before” and “now” pictures of our new, awesome home. Since it is going to get pretty picture heavy, I thought I would break it down into multiple posts… First up, the bedroom!

As you can see on our floorplan, the bedroom is 11’6″ square. It fits our king size bed just perfectly with room for 2 dressers (and since we are downsizing to just one closet, 2 dressers are definitely a necessity).


The window faces Thomas Avenue and there is just enough foliage blocking the view that you can run around naked without worrying about peepers from the hospital across the street. Which is good because the mini-blinds won’t go down!


Before we moved in, the bedroom was blue, but we had the landlord repaint in Behr “Silky White”. He also gave us permission to paint the two ugly/awesome fake “candle” sconces. We’re thinking a super-shiny white to match the moldings.


Since the bedroom at our old apartment was never really furnished properly (we had a crappy metal bed frame propped up with milk crates and an old particle board dresser from my childhood), this room has pretty much all new furniture. We bought a platform bed from Overstock, and two new dressers from Craigslist.


I have always wanted an Ikea Hemnes dresser and I am happy to say ours (bought used in a discontinued color) is as awesome as I had hoped. Big deep drawers and nice easy slides.


We also installed some small shelves to be minimalist bedside tables and swapped out our old gross lampshades for some new drum shades from Target. Then I went to the U-district farmer’s market and bought some colorful pretty market baskets to act as bedside catchalls. So far they are doing a really good job of corralling all the crap.


We still have a few more things to do in the bedroom before it is done:

1). Paint the funny candle sconces shiny white
2). Find a lamp to go on top of the big dresser – this will definitely be needed as the mornings get darker
3). Hang some art!
4). Finish installing hooks and organize closet (not pictured for obvious reasons)
5). Curtains?

Next up… the dining nook!

nail polish purchased

I went to Ulta today to check out nail polishes in person and came away with some critical info: pictures on the internet do a crappy job of showing color. I think reds are especially hard. So I was able to rule out a couple of colors as too bright and summery. They didn’t have all the colors I was looking for, so I also re-read through everything I could find on the internet about all the shades I was interested in. Turns out that although you’d never be able to tell from the product shots, Clam Bake and Lollipop are near-duplicates of each other except Clam Bake is more sheer. Since I like opaque coverage, I decided to go with Lollipop.

After all my research, I came home and bought all the polishes I wanted on eBay. I’m especially fond of this seller, who always seems to carry what I need (combined shipping, yo!)

I ended up buying Essie Lollipop and Red Nouveau, and I also got this pretty teal/green Essie Going Incognito from the new Winter 2010 collection:

Essie Going Incognito

I also got more of my totally awesome top coat. A quick-dry top coat is my secret to awesome nails. I’ve also heard that Seche Vite’s quick-dry top coat is really good. In any case, a quick-dry is the only reason I’m able to do my nails once a week. If it took more than an hour from base coat to using my hands again, I would just never do it.

So that’s all. Sadly, I completely forgot to post yesterday. I remembered at like 3am this morning. I guess I will just have to extend NaBloPoMo until December 1st. I’m also working on doing some posts about my wedding, but I’m not going to post any of those until they’re all ready – it’ll be like a miniseries.

nail polish

Hey everyone, new banner up top!

Ok, so I need to get some new nail polish. I have a great set of dark & fabulous fall colors, from sapphire blue to sexy greige to black as night. But I need some new red tones.

My go-to orange red is, of course, China Glaze Japanese Koi, which is just too neon for the gray-blue light of Seattle winters. I want a beautiful, deep, red with a kiss of poppy or tomato orange. Blue reds just don’t look as good with my skin tone (or my yellow ring) as orange reds. Also, I only wear cremes – no shimmers or frosts. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Based on the recs in the comments here, I’m considering getting Essie Clambake and/or Lollipop.

Clambake – “A creamy red-orange”
clam bake

Lollipop – “candy cane red” (But I hear it has an orange tone to it).

(Be sure to click on the pictures to go to a Google Image search for each polish. Everything looks different depending on the light. And it’s impossible to judge a color when it’s still in the bottle.)

I might also get something like One of a Kind or Vermillionaire.

One of a Kind – “A poppy red kiss”
one of a kind

Vermillionaire – “A heart pounding red orange”

I realize they’re all Essie, but I figure that for creme reds, you pretty much have to go with a classic. It’s just so hard to tell online how orange a color is going to be or whether it will have that kind of muddy/coral tone. But I also hate having to go to the shop because even big stores like Ulta never have the full product line.

What do you think? Pam, what color did I force you to buy last time we were at Ulta? I think I want that one.


Between me and Daniel, our household probably owns eight or ten pairs of glasses. Not counting sunglasses. I have three pairs from my old prescription, one of which I wear almost every day.

Here is a shot from when I first got them, over two years ago. Man, my hair looked good.

good hair day

I recently got my eyes checked again, so I’m in the process of re-stocking. Daniel and I both like to buy multiple pairs of cheap glasses instead of settling on one designer frame. You would be shocked at how cheap you can get a pair of glasses for online. The best place for super-cheap glasses online is Zenni Optical – $8 glasses! (Actually mine were more like $30 because I have to order extra-strength lenses. But still, glasses that cost less than dinner out!)

Anyway, so I recently bought a pair of big, square, tortoiseshell glasses from Glassesshop. I call them my hipster glasses.

hipster glasses & self portrait

I like them a lot, but I want something else, more all-purpose to replace my go-to black frames. I’ve been eyeing some from Warby Parker, which lets you try on up to 5 pairs before buying. All their frames are $95, which isn’t bad at all. They have lots of really cute styles, but all the frames are pretty large. I wanted to get a cool two-tone pair, but they didn’t look right – they just made me look like I have freaky eyebrows.

These Warbys looked pretty good – they’re called Japhy. Maybe I’ll wait until they’re available in the lighter brown color though.

Warby Patker glasses - Japhy

And then I think I’ll also just get my same old black glasses from Zenni again. After all, they still look good.

What do you think?

tea tray

I got this tray last time I went to IKEA (incidentally, I went back today for Christmas decorations with Pam, but I don’t have any pictures of the stuff I got today). Anyway, I love the birds on the tray – they remind me of the work of Charley Harper.

tea time

Here’s a shot of the tray in action. I was serving Mom some coffee when she was over a few weeks ago. I love how the tray totally goes with all my mismatched, brightly colored cups and saucers.



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