Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black and White

Just returned from the middle-o-nowhere Michigan for a North Woods Thanksgiving. On the last day I got a few shots. Here are my black and whites! Boyfriend says anyone who sees there will think he lives in squalor; I just like taking pictures of rusty stuff.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkins and Homecoming

There are only a few things getting me through our neuro block with a dash of sanity. There are the usual substances: sugar, caffeine, study breaks. We learned about the Premack Principle in our Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Lecture (I'm just trying to sound smart) which is basically something everyone does. Using a desired behavior to reinforce a less desired one: i.e. "I can't take a coffee break until I finish this task". Somehow in medical school this gets warped into a scarier system. There is the more reward system, "I can't watch Grey's Anatomy until I finish this lecture", the normal "I can't make lunch until I finish this lecture", the strange "I can't pee until I finish this lecture", and the just plain scary "I can't clean my room until I finish this lecture". You know you hate studying when cleaning your apartment is more appealing than learning neuro. But there have been a few more rewarding things recently that have taken my mind off studying my brain.

1. Pinterest: If you aren't addicted yet, you might have a Y chromosome. I found this amazing baked potato soup recipe that warmed my soul. Recipe Here

And with Pinterest comes this fall's greateast obsession...

2. PUMPKIN: It's in everything. Seriously. People are carving them, eating them, painting them, roasting them, eating out of them, using them as vases.

Pumpkin Vase via my boyfriend
It's insane. If you haven't consumed pumpkin this fall you're either allergic, a recluse, or live outside the continental US. I recently made Pumpkin Stuff/Dump Cake/Goo.

This is truly fantastic and super easy. Just take 3 eggs, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and 1 can Libby's pumpkin puree and mix until smooth. Poor into large, greased, glass pan. Sprinkle Spice Cake mix on top (sounds weird, I know, just do it!). Pour 2 sticks melted butter over the whole thing. Sprinkle on chopped pecans. Cook for 1 hour at 350 degrees. It smells so delicious, my mom says it feels like 3 hours. Top the with ice cream and devour! It is really rich. I went into a food coma after having this and the potato soup.

3. Homecoming: I went to Villanova, I'm a huge fan, and I love going back to see my old friends. It was a rather tumultuous weekend for other reasons but I really enjoyed being there, even if it meant spending the football game studying at my favorite coffee shop. Psh, I enjoyed sitting in a place with some character (The Gryphon is hipster heaven on Philly's mainline) and consuming a beautiful latte, even if it meant listening to MD/PhD's drone on about neuro.

it's beauteous

And on top of that, Villanova is freaking gorgeous.

It seems I just used my procrastination time efficiently this evening. Time to pretend to be productive!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte Hack

Exam tomorrow? Been sitting on my butt for two weeks.  I can't study and all I think about is sleep and caffeine. Result:

I <3 Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I am one of those people. And like many of my fellow fall lovers that look forward to a great pair of leather boots, a comfy sweater, colorful leaves, chilly air, and clutching a PSL, reality is a little more bitter. As much as I love me some coffee, I just cannot fully enjoy paying nearly $5 a cup. There is also no such thing as a Grande Skinny Pumpkin Spice Latter- psh don't kid yourself girl, skim milk and no whip doesn't make a glass full of sugar "skinny". The thrifty calorie conscious side of me likes to buy Starbucks sugar-free syrups and make myself lattes at home. But, alas, no such thing for the pumpkin sauce. Not available for purchase, no Splenda substitute.

Solution, make it myself, and make it better! Those of you who know how I cook realize that recipe is not exactly part of my vocabulary. So I looked at a few suggestions from fellow bloggers and threw a bunch of stuff in sauce pan. (Funny side note: I thought it was a complete failure at first and then realized that the milk I used was sour. Classssic Med Student.)

So here goes my best guess at what I created:

1.  1/2 Can Libby's Pumpkin Goop (you know, normal can size)
2. 1/2 Cup Sugar (low cal? Try Splenda!)
3. 1 Cup of Water
4. A large helping of cinnamon (idk like 2 tsp, 1 tbsp? I like cinnamon)
5. A medium amount of nutmeg (1 tsp?)
6. A sprinkling of ground cloves
7. Vanilla- either some extract (2 tsp or so), or some of the Vanilla Coffee Syrup (lots)

All of that was mixed over medium heat in a sauce man until it started bubbling and then I let it sit on lowish heat for 10 minutes, covered, but stirring pretty often. It'll probably turn into a brownish goo (depending on how much you love cinnamon).
It is hard to make something the texture of baby food look good.
Couple spoon fulls of that stuff into some milk (I like to use a little skim and a tbsp of sweetened condensed milk). Microwave until hot and pour in a shot of expresso (I use a single serve stove top Bialetti with El Pico coffee (because I love cafe cubano).

Measurements are imprecise because I don't measure and because this one is hard to screw up. It is a bunch of deliciousness mixed together. And go light on the sugar if you want, because you can always add it directly to your coffee to taste. Save your goo in the fridge and enjoy all fall and winter and smirk at those who spend $5 on a PSL that is an unnatural shade of orange. (Okay, so I still like to go get them). And O HEY, you can save the environment because you won't be using a paper cup (hola added bonus).

Friday, September 30, 2011

Beat The Clock

I mentioned in my last post about how days full of studying usually go for me.

Procrastinate, Sleep, Proactive Procrastination (like cleaning), Study for 20 minutes, Spend an hour on Pinterest. Realize I didn't actually learn anything today.

We're all guilty of it, whether we are trying to study for a neuro exam or complete a project. Talking to B last night, he told me about a study tactic his academic counselor suggested. Take a stop watch or timer- we prefer the stopwatch portion of the clock on an iPhone/iPod- and start it every time you sit down to study. Anytime you deviate, whether it be to check your email or gchat or fix lunch or make your bed or zone out into space as I often do, STOP the stopwatch. You only earn time when you are actively studying. You'll be surprised at the outcome. It is a great way to stay on task and realize how much time you are actually spending studying. Some people can sit down for 12 hours and only get 2 hours of work done! I tried it out and really like it. You'll be a little sad the first time you try it when it is 5:00 pm and your timer reads 2 hours. eek! Tomorrow I'll  be having a contest with B to see who can clock more hours (I just judged myself for how nerdy that sounds).
If you're looking at the time of day, it's incorrect. The only thing I did before 9:24 am was sleep.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PTSD and Defensive Eating Take Two

What?! I haven't posted in a month. Wherever did the time go? Med school: C'est la vie. Fortunately it is quite easy to recap my past month.

Attempt to Study
Fall Asleep Instead
Freak out about not studying
Study like crazy as to not fail

It's all good. P = MD.

More seriously though, I have been working on the whole having-a-life-while-being-a-med-student thing. In between memorizing blood counts for different leukemias I made time to go visit the good ole college roommate and baker extraordinaire, TPizzle. She just moved to a new apartment. I suggested we go to the Brooklyn Flea to shop for unique little pieces for her new place. This ended up being a bit of a flop because 1. I'm terrible at NYC geography and Brooklyn is not really near said new apartment and the subway isn't very good for transporting furniture or other goods 2. I ended up in a not so great part of Brooklyn navigating the subway system 3. The Brooklyn Flea is full of really cool and ridiculously overpriced stuff. Damn hipsters. The good news, I basically made this into a Kate and Tara meet sort of thing because when you love two people, they might just love each other. We had fun anyway, exploring Brooklyn, it's farmers markets, it's charm, it's personality, it's FOOD! Also, overshooting my destination on the subway ran me into a couple that looked even more out of place than me: a sweet husband and wife from Oklahoma looking for Battery Park.They looked like they had just stepped off a cruise ship- and indeed they had! I helped them navigate back to NYC and had a lovely chat while waiting about how my boyfriend is from Oklahoma. Those of you that know me are scratching your heads. Okay, maybe I exaggerated and my boyfriend only lived the first year of his life in Oklahoma before moving to Michigan but that accent is surely from the Sooner State! And of course the other wonderfulness that came out of this: deliciousness. We went to a meatball place and the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. That meatball place sounds a lot raunchier when put in the same sentence as Big Gay... The meatballs were quite tasty. I attempted to ask the waiter with a straight face "How big are your balls" but it just came out between hysterical laughs.
Classic Tara Smirk on the right

And at Big Gay, well things weren't as flamboyant as we'd hoped but the Salty Pimp- vanilla soft serve with sea salt, caramel, and chocolate shell was mouthwatering orgasmicness. But once again, I wasn't eating it so much as catching the drips and attempting to not make a mess (fail).

Defensive Eating, Take Two

The day was made even sweeter at 2 pm when I received a phone call from my other half who informed me he was driving to the east coast and would see me "at the other 2". There was a small dance party that then took place in the middle of the Buffalo Exchange Thrift Store. We should back up to put this happiness in context.

The entire story of my other half deserves a novel but in recent history, B is a Caribbean medical student. His entire career has been riding on a comprehensive exam which he had to pass to continue on to third year. We spent three months apart this summer as he studied to save his life as we all cheered (quietly) in the background. He was at home in Michigan while I traveled the world and taught summer camp. He took his test but was still anxiously waiting the test results. I thought he might surprise me by flying here immediately after taking the test but he mostly sat at home, distraught, convincing himself that he had failed. BUT, he called two days later and drove to see me- over a 12 hour drive. Long story short, we of course had to to to NYC again when he came because Midwestern boy loves some big buildings. We lit candles in St. Patrick's and sipped Sangria in little Italy and later in the week found out he passed his test by a long shot.

We screamed and laughed and cried and then drove out the Michigan to share the good news with his mom. Highlights of the weekend include delicious home cooked meals, doggies, the lake (even though it was cold), and a fabulous antique store that put the Brooklyn Flea to shame. Steals: vintage suitcase: $8; vintage carry-on: $6; handkerchiefs: $1-2each; necklace: $1. B went back this week and picked up a big wooden trunk to use as a tv stand, a type set drawer, an old clock, and a big blue bottle (pictures to come in the future). As he drove me to the airport I realized how in love with Michigan I am and the large expanses of land full of golden rod.
This dog is evil

Owners and their dogs start to look alike...

Camera in Cooler = Good Kayak Safety Measures

Beagle Love

feel free to throw up a little at the cuteness

Michigan, I'll be back soon! The trip back involved 3 hours of sleep, a shuttle, a plane, a bus, the subway, and NJ Transit. Back to the grind.

This weekend involved Mom's Birthday celebration and the 150th anniversary of my church.

Both B and I have been having trouble sitting down to study. He's calling it PTSD. It is difficult to make yourself sit down and study when that is all you have been doing. This of course is much worse for B, who needs to be studying for the boards. Meanwhile neuro is probably kicking my butt, but I wouldn't know; I am proactively procrastinating (does that even make sense). Exhibit A: I'm sitting in a lecture right now. They can require me to go but they can't require that I pay attention!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Greetings from Oz

An Italian Pathologist in a sunny land far far away (not Italy) once said to a classroom full of students, "Today we start studying the abnormal. And let me be the first to warn you, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore." And so, an email written to me by my counterpart, B, warned me on my first day of second year, that I was no longer in Kansas. For the first two weeks I waited for a tornado to come and lift my little house away to a yellow brick road, but it did not happen. Then, sometime this week, maybe today, it happened. The strong winds of Pathology have come and we are now in Oz. Forget Munchkin Land for just a minute and let me tell you about Kansas.

Last we left off I was riding mattresses down stairwells and slipping and sliding down hills while consuming inordinate amounts of ice cream. I drove home from camp to be greeted by a new apartment (all my things were moved by my family while I was away) which was heaped full of boxes and partially (mostly) assembled furniture. My sister greeted me there and helped bring order to my things. My mom came the next day, and in less than 24 hours my apartment was looking the cleanest it is probably ever going to look again. Something about studying medicine predisposes you to being rather messy/disorganized when it comes to non-school related tasks. Exhibit A: The mailbox key. In my last apartment I lost the mailbox key. I stalked the mailman and made him give me our mail (twice!) at which point he told me I was not allowed to do so again and I needed to go get a new key- good bye $20. I gave in, lamented the loss. First day in the new apartment I misplaced the mailbox key to our new place. Being the cheap resourceful person I am, I decided the only thing of importance coming to my mailbox would be bills. So, naturally, I did not worry about it for 2 weeks and then spent a day setting up online bill pay for everything. Problem solved! I'll keep my $20, thank you very much USPS. Well today I did laundry and a pair of pants that I rarely wear finally got cleaned and there in the bottom of the washing machine was the key to the mailbox! I guess that says a lot about how often I do laundry.

Okay, too much typing not enough photos. So in an effort to not study or give in to the impending doom that is second year, a friend hooked me up with Photoshop and I went to work on some India photos!
Mountain reflection in shop window. Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India.

Full Moon and Star Trails. Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India.

Falling off a Cliff. Dhangkar Monastary

High Altitude and Friendly Monks. Kee Monastary.

He wanted money. Rishikesh, India.

Melon Stand. Rishikesh, India.

Chilling among the ruins. Rishikesh, India.

Mutual Love. Rishikesh, India.

Rishikesh, India.

No editing!

Prayer Flags

Light Features. Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India.


Neighborhood Gangster

Prayer Wheel.
These are some of my favorites, which means as I edit and post they will be less and less interesting because my favorites get worked on and posted first.

Besides photo editing, I was working on getting as much vitamin D as possible by the pool until I become a hermit, but I think the hermit thing has already happened. I also went to a little family reunion in LBI and saw some people I haven't seen in a while a long with meeting some new ones. 

This kid's a natural in front of the camera!

A real smile! Accidentally captured by the little munchkin above!
After this weekend's final hoorah in Philly it'll be exam lock down mode. womp womp