Monday, July 31, 2017

Picklesburgh 2017

For the past few years, Pittsburgh has become Picklesburgh for one weekend each summer. We're a very proud city, and one of the companies that began here in Pittsburgh is Heinz, of ketchup and pickle fame. So for one weekend, the city shuts down one of the bridges, and people can walk through and find all sorts of pickle-related goodies.

And I really do mean all sorts! There were pickles on a stick, pickle flavored cocktails, pickle eating contests, pickling demos, and even pickle funnel cake! There were also live bands playing all weekend, free Heinz pickle pins, and a meet-and-greet with a pickle character himself.

Because it rained here on Friday, Saturday was an incredibly busy day at Picklesburgh. As much as I would have loved to try some of the pickle-flavored foods, the lines for each booth were 30 plus minutes long. It took at least 15 minutes just to walk from one end of the bridge to the other because of the crowds. I'm not someone who panics in crowds, but it was just too overwhelming, and honestly, too hard to deal with navigating my wheelchair in and out of the crowds and the lines.

I was also slightly annoyed going into it, because on my walk from parking to the bridge, there was some scaffolding that completely blocked wheelchair access to the ramp and sidewalk. This meant that I - along with anyone using a stroller - had to walk in the bike lane, directly on the road. This is do-able in the middle of the day on a Saturday when the bridge is closed, but incredibly dangerous during rush hour on a work day! The scaffolding only needed to be moved slightly to allow enough room for me to get through, but it's an example of something I run into all the time - people just not thinking about the needs of others.

Back to Picklesburgh -after checking out the booths, and realizing I didn't have patience for any of the lines, I ended up at Six Penn, one of my favorite restaurants in the whole city. Sadly, the rooftop was too crowded, but I had a delicious meal inside, and made sure to wear my pickle pin to bring a little bit of Picklesburgh with me!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Currently watching, 7/28/2017

I was flipping through the channels last night, trying to find something to watch, and saw that The Princess Bride had just started on AMC. I put it on immediately - it is my number one, all-time favorite movie, and a movie that I have to watch whenever I see it's on TV (along with The Devil Wears Prada).

I love that The Princess Bride has a little bit of everything - it's a "storybook romance," but there is also drama, and so many good one-liners. It has Robin Wright long before she was in DC on House of Cards, and I had such a crush on Cary Elwes from this movie! It's fun because it's told as a story being read to a sick kid (Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years), but you get to see the story play out.

It's also actually a book, which I recommend so highly - it's written as if it's a anniversary edition, so there's all this "trivia" and "behind-the-scenes" information at the beginning... except it's actually the first edition, but the author wrote it that way as an excuse for including all the background. And it's written so well that as a kid, I didn't realize it was a fake - I found it out years later!

The movie might seem a little dated at first, but if you give it a chance, you'll see what a classic it really is!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Best Blowdryer

I have always had a love/hate relationship with my hair. I won't lie, I do love the color - it seems to get naturally highlighted in the summer, and I'm glad I don't have to spend time/money getting it colored. However, it is incredibly thick, and I have a lot of individual strands of hair. It may not look like it, but I have never gotten my hair done without a stylist commenting on how much of my hair there is. It's also oily, like my face, to the point where I try to wash every day, but can stretch it to two days with ample dry shampoo.

With daily washing comes daily blowdrying. I leave blow drying my hair as the very final step in my morning routine in the hopes that it will air dry just a little bit more. Air drying it completely isn't an option for me - it gets puffy and frizzy and it is not good. So with all this heat styling, I rely on a heavy duty blow dryer to get maximum drying with minimum hair damage.

I truly believe that having a good blow dryer makes a huge difference in the appearance and health of your hair - and I'm reminded of this when my blow dryer finally breaks and I have to use a backup one for a few days. 

The blow dryer I rely on is the T3 Featherweight. Mine have each lasted about 5 years, which is amazing for something that I use almost every day. Because I have limited arm strength and mobility, I can't really style my hair while I dry it - I just point the blowdryer at my hair and go (aka "rough drying"). The Featherweight is 1), light enough for me to hold, 2), doesn't create too many knots in my hair after drying, and 3) leaves my hair feeling smooth even though I hold the dryer an inch away from my hair (don't judge). I sing the praises of the T3 to anyone who asks about my hair. It is not a cheap blow dryer, but I completely think it's worth it.

It's also currently on sale as part of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale for a few more days. This is an amazing deal and if you are at all thinking about buying it, you should do it now - I can honestly say I don't ever think I've seen this blow dryer on sale before!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Why Healthcare Is So Important To Me

Today's post is taking a slightly different path, to talk about something that I think is incredibly important and very timely. Yesterday, the Senate voted to advance a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act/ObamaCare, and I want to talk a little bit about why this matters to me, and why I think it should matter to you, too.

I don't want this blog to only be about my disability, since my life is so much more than that. But just like I can have SMA and still care about skincare and style and makeup, I can care about those things and also care about access to healthcare. I think that's important for people to see.

I realize that not everyone agrees on how healthcare should be delivered and provided in the U.S., but I hope that everyone realizes how important access to healthcare is - that's something that has been made clear to me through my work in public health. I don't think that anyone would argue that people should not have access to healthcare, at least on a fundamental level.

But for me, this is a personal issue. Living with SMA is not cheap, medically. I have a primary care physician, a neurologist, a pulmonologist, and a gastroenterologist. I have breathing machines that I use to make sure my lungs don't lose any more capacity than they already have. I have a very expensive power wheelchair that I rely on to be able to do anything, and use an accessible minivan to be able to go anywhere in my wheelchair. These are all medical things that I need just to live my life normally. I'm also on a waiver program that allows me to receive what's called "home and community based services" - this means that I get to live in a house or apartment rather than living in an institution.

All of this is to say that access to healthcare is vital to me. It's more than just a fundamental issue that I believe in - it's something that keeps me alive and keeps me living a life that I'm happy with. I don't think that the fact that I have SMA should mean that I don't get to live less of a life than anyone else does. It can be easy to forget that people like me - people with a disability - are more than just a diagnosis. I have a social life, I have a career, I have goals - I just need some extra assistance to get through the day.

I understand that healthcare is expensive, and that I'm costing taxpayers money by living. But I think as a society, we have to decide if we care more about people's lives, or more about money - because at the most basic level, that is what it comes down to. I also realize that ObamaCare, as it exists right now, isn't perfect. But the solution can't be taking away people's healthcare.

With that being said, I want to encourage you to reach out to your Senators. E-mailing and Tweeting is good, but faxing and calling are better. Resistbot, pictured above, is a handy "bot" that you can text, and it will send a fax to your Senators for you. It asks for your zip code, your name, and your message - that's it. It's an incredibly simple way to participate and make sure that your voice is heard. The ease of Resistbot takes away all of the excuses that we fall back on usually - I don't have time, I don't know who to call. Just take five minutes and contact your Senator now - you really can make a difference!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Favorite Makeup Brushes

While I'm far from a makeup pro, I do have the knowledge I've gained as a 10-plus year user of makeup. I remember buying my first foundation in college, right around the time that Ulta and Sephora were becoming a big deal. I chose a powder foundation from Benefit, and felt like a real adult putting it on each day. I had worn mascara and eyeshadow (and lots of body glitter) in high school, but the Benefit foundation was the first time I had a real "makeup routine."

I've since moved on to being a liquid foundation user, and have a makeup routine that I use pretty much daily (which I talk about here). I've also moved on from using my fingers (or the sponge that comes with the foundation) to apply my makeup. There's nothing wrong with using your fingers to apply, but I worry a lot about spreading acne or any germs/bacteria around my face. I also think you get a less "makeup-y" look when you use brushes - it blends in more and doesn't just sit on your face.

My favorite makeup brushes are the Real Techniques brushes - I basically use them for every step of my routine. I think they're incredibly affordable, which is important for something that might not last if you don't clean them regularly. And even though they're affordable, they also hold up really really well - I have one of their Expert Face brushes that has lasted me over three years now.

The brushes I use each day are:

  • Foundation
    Either the Expert Face brush mentioned above, or the Buffing brush. The Expert Face gives a bit more of a full-coverage appearance, while the Buffing brush gives a lighter, sheerer finish. Which brush I use depends on which look I'm going for!
  • Powder
    I use powder all over my face, not just in small areas, so I go for a big brush with lots of coverage - the Powder brush.
  • Blush
    I use the aptly-named Blush brush. I really like the angle on this brush - it helps you follow the natural shape of your cheekbone, without getting too clown-like with your blush. 

From left to right: Expert face brush, buffing brush, blush brush, powder brush

 Do you have a favorite brush/brand of brushes, or are you more a Beauty Blender person? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Finding Motivation

This weekend, I had to study for a final, finish my part for a group project, and also complete an assignment, all for the same summer class. This is a summer class that is ending in two weeks, and it's also the last summer class of my graduate school career. So as you can imagine, my motivation is starting to wear a little thin. I'm ready to enjoy summer!

But this weekend, I had to reach deep and find the little bit of motivation left, to get my work done, get through the weekend, and finish the last few things for my class. In addition to drinking lots of coffee, I have a few tips that I rely on in times like these.

  • Make a list
    I always start by figuring out what exactly it is that I need to do. It's always so much easier to get started when you know what's ahead of you.  
  • Make a mental plan
    I might not know exactly how long each thing will take, but I can estimate. It can make you feel calmer and less stressed to know about how long you think your work will take.
  • Schedule in breaks
    It can seem tempting to just buckle down and get all of your work done at once, but this actually ends up hurting you. Taking a break can keep you from mental (or physical) exhaustion, and your brain really needs those breaks. You'll come back to your work feeling more refreshed and more motivated.
  • Don't forget to eat
    This goes along with taking breaks, but remembering to eat is a very specific kind of break. Just like giving your mind a break is important, it's also important to give your body a break and feed it. You'll think much more clearly when you've had something to eat.
  • Know how you work best
    This one is a bit more personal - you have to figure out how you work most effectively. I know that I like background noise on when I'm working on an assignment or a project. But when I'm reviewing notes and studying, I need quiet. Creating a study guide helps me remember better than just reviewing my notes or books - it's the writing or typing of it that's helpful to me.

This weekend, for me, the motivation that I needed to find was for school, but these tips can apply to anything - something at work, or even just errands that you need to run over the weekend. Let me know if you have any tips in the comments, I'd love to hear them!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Currently reading, 7/21/2017

I'm a big reader. It can be hard for me to find time (and motivation) to read a lot while I'm taking classes, but I try to find a few minutes when I can, especially over the weekend.

When I was a little kid, I used the go to the library and get so many books that when I stacked them on my lap, I could rest my chin on them. One of my favorites as a kid was A Wrinkle In Time. It's a book that defies genres, I think - there's science fiction/fantasy, but I certainly wouldn't call it a fantasy book. I also really liked that even though I got it from the kids section of the library, it didn't feel like it was written for a kid - it had some pretty complex themes!

I saw the trailer for the movie adaptation of the book, which I'm really excited for. You can watch it below - I know that it's a short clip, but I think it really captures the feel of the book. And it has a pretty amazing cast!

The trailer got me nostalgic for the book, so I decided it was time for a re-read. I think that I'm enjoying it just as much as I did when I was a kid, and it's fun to experience it from a totally different point of view. I highly recommend reading it for the first, or second, or third time!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Green Market at Phipps

Each Wednesday from 4:30 - 6:30 PM during the summer, Phipps (Pittsburgh's conservatory) brings together vendors from all over the city for a "Green Market." I think of it as a combination Farmer's Market and vendor show - local farms have stands where you can buy fresh produce, but there are also other local vendors who sell things like homemade soap and glass art. Wigle Whiskey, a local distillery, even has a stand!

This farm was selling pure maple syrup, which I really wanted to try, but sadly didn't have enough cash on me!

My favorite stand, though, was the one selling olive oil/balsamic vinegar. I love trying new flavors to mix with pasta! I taste-tested a few, and ended up with the white balsamic with lemongrass - such a different flavor, and I can't wait to use it. I also went home with some fresh, homemade bread.

The Phipps Market is the perfect place to check out if you're in the Oakland area on a Wednesday. There can be different vendors each week, so you never know what you'll find!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Going to Graduate School

A few weeks ago I told you about Public Health, and what it is as a field of work or study. I thought I'd talk a little more about why I decided to get a Master's of Public Health, and what it took for me to get there. This is going to be a very text-heavy post!

I went to Carnegie Mellon University as an undergrad, and studied both Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering. I definitely got an amazing education, and I learned so much - but I really struggled during my first few years there. I didn't really know how to study well - I had never been challenged at this level before - and even the introductory engineering classes were much more difficult than anything I'd ever seen before. I did not do well my first semester, and it was really an uphill battle for me after that.

I learned that I was definitely more interested in the biomedical side of engineering than the mechanical when I added it as a second major in my sophomore year, but at CMU, you couldn't choose biomedical as a primary major - it could only be an additional major. So I decided to stick it out, and I with the help of summer classes, was able to graduate on time. I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do - I didn't really think I wanted a straight engineering job, but I also didn't want to go straight to a master's degree. I was incredibly burnt out, and couldn't stomach the thought of any more exams or problem sets.

My college graduation!

I feel incredibly lucky that one of my summer internships was research based, because that definitely sparked my interest in research. I really think that my internship experience helped me to get my current job in public health research, and this job has opened a whole new career field to me that I didn't even know existed previously! But still, for the first few years out of college, I wasn't ready to go back to school - I was still too burnt out. Eventually, though, I realized that if I ever wanted to go back to continue my education, the window of opportunity was closing - I would value my time off work too much to ever give it up for classes and homework! So I decided to take the plunge and apply for my MPH. It certainly helped that since I was a full-time university employee, they would pay for a significant portion of tuition costs at the same institution as a part-time student - it was too good of a deal for me to pass up.

Being a full-time employee and part-time student hasn't been easy! I had a medical issue (extreme weight loss) my first semester of classes, and ended up having to take my first two semesters off as a leave of absence while I worked to gain weight and then had surgery. Beyond that, I have talked about how important time management is, and I honestly cannot stress that enough. I have to constantly remember that this is temporary - that if I have to say no to something fun, that I won't be in school forever. It helps that I really do enjoy what I'm studying, and can see how it will help me in my current job and future career. I also think I'm a much better student than I was at 21 years old! I am much more alert and engaged in class, and much more willing to put in the time to do the assignments/readings/extra work. I am so glad that I took time off before going back - I think that the shift in perspective and real-life experiences are really beneficial!

Let me know in the comments if you've had a similar experience, or if you're thinking about going back to school. Or if you'd rather, you can send me an e-mail at

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dry Shampoo Review

I'm someone who prefers to wash my hair every day, unless I'm wearing it curly... which rarely happens. My hair, like my skin, gets greasy really quickly - by day two, the roots are definitely showing oil. But there are days where I'm getting home late, and when I count ahead to the number of hours of sleep I'd get if I woke up to wash and style my hair, it's just not enough. I also use a feeding tube overnight to make sure that I get enough calories in, so I have to make sure I am hooked up for enough hours that I'm getting the right number of calories. On those days, I rely heavily on dry shampoo.

I'm really happy with how much dry shampoo has improved since I was a kid. When I was young and in the hospital with pneumonia, they would give you a very old-school kind of dry shampoo that didn't really do much to feel or make your hair look clean, and scared me off dry shampoos for years! But dry shampoos has come quite a long way since then, and I've learned that applying it the night before is really key, before your is greasy.

For years, I relied on Batiste dry shampoo, and I still think it's a great drugstore staple - you can't beat the price! But it's really powdery when it comes out, and I felt like I was feeling it on my hair and then on my fingers the whole next day, until I washed my hair again. So I decided to try out two newer, more high-end dry shampoos: Drybar and Amika.

After a few different tries of each, I have to give Drybar the number one spot. I am already obsessed with Drybar in general, and love that the dry shampoo makes my hair smell like it does after a blowout! It's not too powdery, and it doesn't have too much of a white tint - it rubs in really well. The only con is the price - its $23 for 3.5 ounces.

The Amika dry shampoo is a close second, and is $22 for 5.3 ounces, which is definitely a better deal. It's also not powdery or white, and rubs in well. The scent is pleasant - not as strong as the Drybar scent, but that's not necessarily a bad thing! The only issue I had with it is that I didn't think my hair felt as clean as it did with the Drybar. It still looked nice, but just felt greasier than I wanted it to. I'll definitely still keep the Amika around, though!

Do any of you have a go-to dry shampoo? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Weekend Recap: Downtown Dining and a CLO Performance

This weekend was the perfect mix of fun and responsibilities - I had time for dinner and drinks with friends, a show and dinner with my family, and even worked on homework and went to a retreat for an organization that I'm part of.

I spent a lot of time in downtown Pittsburgh this weekend. It's a fun part of town to explore - it's been revitalized so much in the last 10 years! So many of my favorite restaurants are downtown, and I love trying new ones. This weekend I went with friends to Union Standard, a new restaurant in the old, historic Union Trust building, and then we ended our night getting rooftop drinks at Il Tetto, which is always a win in my book.

 Then on Sunday, I went to see the CLO's production of In The Heights, the first musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton. It was my first time seeing the show, and I loved it - it was cool to see thematic connections (immigrants, legacy) between the two shows. I'm sure I'll be humming the music for weeks, and it made me even more excited to see Hamilton again later this year!

We walked to Market Square afterwards to get dinner at Sienna on the Square. It was great to enjoy a leisurely dinner outside, and the food was so good - the chocolate cake I got for dessert was especially incredible.

Let me know how you spent your weekend in the comments!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Currently listening, 7/14/2017

I'm someone who works best with background noise. There are certainly times when I need silence, but usually, I like listening to something while I'm doing work. I recently discovered podcasts, right around when Serial premiered, and they've been the perfect thing for me to listen to at work. I was obsessed with the Gilmore Guys, listened to S-town, and am still making my way through The West Wing Weekly.

A new podcast premiered this week with a really interesting concept. It's called 36 Questions (which you might recognize from this New York Times article), and it's a three-part podcast musical. It reminds me of what I imagine the radio shows of the 1940s were like - it's a musical, with songs and dialogue, but without the typical visual aspect. Only Part I has been released so far, but the songs are really catchy and I'm definitely hooked... casting Jonathan Groff as the male lead certainly didn't deter me, either!

Take a listen and let me know what you think!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Happy Birthday to Lily

Last week, my Yorkshire Terrier, Lily, turned three years old. It seems crazy to me that she's three - I cant believe she's been in my life for that long, but I also can't remember not having her in my life! She isn't my first dog - we had a pug named Belle when I was little - but I feel like it's different to have a dog as an adult.

I should start by acknowledging that I live with my parents, so I'm not taking care of Lily all by myself, which is a big help. Also, since I'm in a wheelchair, there are things that I can't do, like pick up her poop... which I'm definitely not complaining about.

A few years after Belle died, I had graduated college, was living with my parents, and decided I was ready for another dog. My parents weren't ready, though - they were enjoying the freedom that comes with not having to schedule everything around your dog! But about a year after I graduated, I was actually involved in a bad car accident as a pedestrian, broke a lot of bones, and ended up in the hospital for three weeks, with a long recovery at home after that. When I was little, I had to be hospitalized a few times with pneumonia, because of my SMA. My parents would always get me a little gift when I was in the hospital, like a stuffed animal from the gift shop, to make me feel better. After my accident, when my mom asked me what I wanted, I immediately said a dog. And apparently, it's really hard to say no to someone who just got hit by a car!

I know that I wanted a Yorkie, because I wanted a dog that was small enough to sit on my lap. It took more than a year to find a puppy that was the right fit - there were never any Yorkies in shelters, so I looked for breeders, and I wanted to make sure it was a legitimate breeder, not a puppy mill. I finally found a nearby breeder who had just had a litter of puppies right before I went to the beach for vacation. I was excited the whole time we were away, but I was also really nervous that something was going to happen and it would all fall through - I had been waiting so long! But everything did work out, and a few weeks later, I went to pick up a teeny tiny 8-week-old Yorkie who I named Lily.

She was so small that I spent the first few weeks terrified I would run her over! She liked the crawl all the way under my wheelchair and just lay down there, since it was a nice safe cozy spot, so I had to make sure that I could see her before I moved! For the first few weeks, we crate-trained her - I kept her in a crate, on a chair next to my bed at night so that I could see her, and put her in the crate during the day while we were all at work. Luckily, my dad's office isn't far from our house, so he was able to stop home at lunch the first few weeks to check on her and let her out.

After a month or so, we stopped putting her in the crate, and put her in a little playpen instead. I think that we waited until she was a year old to let her be free in the house while we were at work - we have stairs that we were afraid of her falling down, and also two cats who took quite a while to warm up to her!

I absolutely love having a dog - I meant it when I said I cannot imagine my life without her! But it really does change a lot. It's not only the training... it's scheduling your day around your dog! There are no more impromptu happy hours that turn into long dinners, because you have to make sure the dog gets let out and fed. When you're planning a trip, you have to make sure you have someone to take care of your dog, or that you have somewhere to take your pup while you're away!

To me, though, these things are totally worth it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

DC Trip Recap

In April, I had the chance to take a trip to DC to participate in a Patient-Focused Drug Development (PFDD) meeting between the FDA and Cure SMA. This was only the second PFDD to be led and organized by an outside group rather than the FDA, so it was a big deal and an amazing accomplishment for Cure SMA.

The meeting was held in a hotel/conference center in Maryland, about 30 minutes outside DC, and was attended by members of the FDA, pharmaceutical representatives, and patients and families affected by FDA. It was great to be able to share more about SMA and how it affects my daily life, and to talk about what kinds of treatments would be beneficial for me. It was also incredible to hear stories from panelists and other participants with SMA – it’s a rare disease, so I don’t regularly meet other people affected by it!

The timing of it was especially exciting because a few months earlier, the first ever drug for SMA was approved by the FDA. Currently, it’s not something that I’m eligible to use, but it’s a HUGE step forward in treatment and makes me hopeful for more treatments in the future.

My whole family went to the meeting – both of my parents, as well as my sister, who also has SMA. We stayed in the area for a long weekend, giving us some extra time to explore DC. We’ve been there numerous times, but it’s one of my favorite cities to visit – there’s so much to do! We also have to limit our activities each trip since it takes us longer to get ready and get around, so we never have time to do everything in one trip.

The National Zoo is one of my favorite things to do when I visit. I love animals – it’s my dream to go to South Africa someday to see them up close in the wild. The National Zoo also has panda bears, and is one of the only zoos in the US that has pandas! It’s free to visit, and always a nice time to walk around and see the animals. 

There are so many amazing museums and monuments to visit – this time, we stopped in the National Portrait Gallery, where we saw some Pittsburgh favorites, and the American History Museum, where we got to see Dorothy’s ruby slippers! The American History museum also had a beautiful display of the first lady’s dresses throughout history, and a section on the Revolutionary War that I looked through for Hamilton references.

As much fun as the zoo and museums are, I also really love to just walk around DC and explore fun places to eat and drink. This trip, we finally made it to Zaytinya, a Jose Andres tapas-style restaurant. Everything we ordered was delicious, and it deserves all the praise it gets. Sadly, my pictures don't capture much of the beautiful outdoor patio, but I cannot recommend it highly enough!

What are your favorite things to do in DC?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Everyday Makeup

I am not a morning person - never have been, never will be. This makes it really hard for me to get up in the morning and get ready for work - getting ready just takes me longer than a regular person, in general, so I try to keep my makeup pretty simple.

With that being said... my skin is really oily, and is acne-prone, and gets red easily. I'm honestly just not comfortable skipping makeup completely. People already think I'm much younger than I am, so makeup helps me maintain a sense of professionalism. After trying out a few different makeup routines, I feel like I have my good, everyday makeup look down pat.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you click. But obviously, this doesn't change my opinions!) 

  • Foundation
    I never, ever skip foundation. I think it helps keep my oil a tiny bit under control, or at least helps me look put together when the oil starts to shine through. Even though I'm not looking for heavy coverage, I need something that stays, and isn't going to start to wear off when I start to get oily. Estee Lauder Double Wear Light (I use shade number 1) has been my "holy grail." It matches my skin and doesn't make me look like I'm wearing heavy makeup, but it stays on until I wash it off at the end of the day.

  • Powder
    I like to set my foundation with a light coat of powder, but I hate that most powders have silica in them. I know that silica absorbs oils - but then the powder gets all clumpy on your skin, and it looks like makeup. A few years ago, I found the T. Leclerc Banane powder (I use pressed, but they also sell loose). It's really hard to find, but it's the only powder I've ever found that doesn't get clumpy when my oil starts to show through.

  • Mascara
    Mascara is my final step! I have used the same mascara for more than five years now - the Le Volume de Chanel in Noir. I think the mascara brush is more important than the formula itself - I will only use the kind that are more plasticy bristles, not the ones that are more brush-like. I HATE when my mascara gets clumpy, and I feel like the brush-like ones always end up with clumps.

That's it for my everyday routine! I'll share in another post what I do when I want a little more - eyeliner, brows, eyeshadow - but I keep it pretty simple for every day.

Let me know in the comments if you have any product tips for me!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Staying In For The Weekend

"What did you do this weekend?" How many times have we all heard this question on Monday morning? We're supposed to have a fun story to tell about our exciting weekend and what we did. It makes it seem like you're lame, or missing out, if you didn't have plans. But honestly, I think that sometimes, the best weekends are the ones with no plans at all!

I didn't go anywhere this past weekend. I did sleep in, relax, watch a lot of Netflix, and do some homework - but I did this without leaving the house. The last few weeks and weekends have been really busy for me, with work and school and friends and weddings and bridal showers. I knew that I needed a weekend to relax. Living with SMA, I've become really good at knowing my limits, and knowing when I need a weekend to chill.

I think that with Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Snapchat, it can be really hard to feel like it's okay to not have plans. Fear of missing out is real! But it's more important to take care of yourself and your needs. Your friends will be there next weekend, and there will be more fun plans. But if you push yourself too hard and don't take a break, you're going to burn out. It's much easier to relax and recover before you burn yourself out - not after.

So next time Friday comes and you feel exhausted - it's okay! Take a break. Say no to plans, and spend the weekend with yourself. You're the best friend you'll ever have.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Currently reading, 7/6/2017

Since I talked about my work in public health yesterday, I thought that today would be the perfect time to share this article I read in New York Magazine - The Wellness Epidemic. It's a really interesting look into current trends in health, and how the culture of wellness has come into fashion.

Being healthy and taking care of yourself is so important! And things like sleep can have a huge impact on your health, and obviously, so can eating well. Meditation can help with anxiety. There are lots of things you can do to be healthy that don't require medication! But often, the wellness culture goes beyond that - they want to find a natural cure to every single problem you had... whether or not you knew you had a problem.

As a public health practitioner, I'm really glad that people are interested in being healthy. But as a researcher, I worry that we're too interested in following fads to look at the science (or lack of science) behind them.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What is Public Health?

(Graduate School of Public Health)

I've mentioned a few times now that I work in - and study - public health, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about what that means! Public health isn't something that I knew about as an undergraduate. I didn't actually learn what it was until I starting working in research - my boss had a joint position in the public health school at the university, so I got a very hands-on introduction to the field.

What I love most about public health, and what makes it difficult to explain, is how broad the field is! The most simple explanation of public health is that it helps protect and promote the health of everyone. Often, public health practitioners are collaborators, working with physicians, policy makers, nonprofits, even engineers and scientists. You can focus on global public health and work abroad, or work for a local health department. I currently work in public health research, but even that is a broad term - I work on projects across different fields of public health, like cost-effectiveness analysis, some simulation modeling, and end-of-life research.

When I was studying as an undergraduate, I was drawn to biomedical engineering because I wanted to help people be healthy, but I knew I didn't want to be a physician. I realized engineering wasn't where I wanted to end up, either, but I think public health really captures the essence of what I wanted to do. It's in the healthcare field, but it's large scale. I'm not diagnosing one person, but I'm working to better the health of the population as a whole.

I think health is something that's easy to take for granted. Living with a chronic illness has made me particularly aware of how important health is - and how drastically it can affect your life if even something small changes in your health. I'm really glad I have the opportunity to work in a field that values, and advocates for, the importance of health!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Fourth at the Frick

This year, my family and I spent The Fourth of July at the Frick Estate. This was a new way for us to spend the holiday - we usually have a cookout at our house for friends and family, but our elevator has been broken for about three weeks now, so we're not really in a good place to host people!

The Frick family was basically one of Pittsburgh's Founding Families, so it seemed appropriate to spend Independence Day there. The family moved into their estate in the late 1800s, and the main house has largely remained as it was then - it is beautiful, as are the grounds! We didn't tour Clayton, the house, this time, but I have previously - it's amazing to see how people lived in the late 1800s/early 1900s.

You can also visit the Cafe at the Frick, a recent addition to the grounds, for food and drink while you're visiting. It's small, but they do have a nice outdoor patio to dine at in the warmer months. Everything is delicious and locally sourced - they also have a made in house creme brulee that is incredible!

Even just walking around the grounds is great - everything is so picturesque!

There is also an art museum on the grounds, as one of the Fricks was an avid art collector. There is a permanent collection, but also an exhibit that changes year-to-year. The current special exhibit, was Irving Penn, a famous photographer. I walked through the exhibit, but sadly, no pictures were allowed! I knew of some of his magazine work - he was a frequent Vogue photographer - but was stunned by his other work, especially his portraits. If you live in Pittsburgh, I highly recommend you check out the exhibit before it leaves in September!

Spending the holiday at the Frick was a perfect change of pace, and a fun and relaxing mid-week break! How did you spend your Fourth?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Weekend Style

I know that a lot of you are enjoying a four day weekend for the Fourth, but I'm back to work and class today. The Fourth should also be a pretty calm day - the elevator at my house has been broken for over two weeks now, which makes hosting any sort of holiday gathering a little difficult!

Over the weekend, though, I went to a bridal shower and bachelorette party for a cousin who is getting married later this summer. The bridal shower was in a small shopping center near my house, and after the shower, I wandered next door into a local boutique I'd never been to before called Serendipity. I already can't wait to go back - they had so many cute accessories, and I picked up a new leopard bag that I used that night at the bachelorette party!

The bachelorette was really fun - we went to dinner and then to a paint night party. I'll spare you a picture of my painting, since I am definitely not an artist, but we all had a great time.

Enjoy the holiday - I'll be back on Wednesday!