Dear Diary

About a month ago, Dr.J and I started a little family diary. Like really little. Only one memory a day. I saw the idea of a perpetual calendar diary floating around Pinterest for quite a while now and even made one for my sister for Christmas. Her daily entries are probably a tad more exciting than mine as she spends several months a year in Kenya studying ecology – see her awesome blog here! 

I don’t know why I put off making one for Dr.J and I for so long, but I finally did it!

Even Dr. J participates! His entries are usual related to his day at the hospital – May 18, 2014: Ran first code in CCU – while mine are usually related to a sunny day or something delicious we made for dinner – May 20, 2014: Fried Chicken and Waffles for dinner!

I can’t wait to see how the days fill up year after year.


Make your own DIY Perpetual Diary Calendar

-366 Index cards (I cut mine in half)

-12 index cards covered in contrasting paper (to separate months)

-Box (I found the one pictured at Michael’s but I used this ceramic berry box from Crate and Barrel for my sister’s)


1. Label each card with a day of the year

2. Cover your 12 extra index cards with fun paper to separate each month (this is optional, of course)

3. Every day add a short one-line memory to that day’s card in the following format –  year: memory


Happy Memory Recording!



Two things that will change your life

So that title may be a vast overstatement but at least one of the things will definitely change your life (or death rather..?) and everyone should have it. The second is just awesome.

The first thing may be a little morbid but it’s something that everyone should have or at least have thought about once. An Advance Directive, also known as a living will, is an important document that allows you to document your wishes concerning medical treatment at the end of life. An Advance Directive addresses three things regarding end of life care:

First, a person defines the amount and kind of care he or she might receive under various medical circumstances. Second, a person designates a health care agent to make medical decisions when the person can no longer do so. Third, advance directives may also address other end-of-life care issues including organ donation, whole body donation to medical schools, funeral and burial arrangements, legacy recordings for posterity, and—in 3 states (Oregon, Washington, and Montana)—assisted dying. (1)

The reason I bring this up is because Dr. J just spent many weeks caring for patients in the ICU, many of whom would pass away during their time there. And he’s highly considering a fellowship in Critical Care after residency. Most people (myself included), when given the option, would choose to die in the comfort of their own home rather than in a hospital or nursing home. But more and more people  (78% according to the Congressional Research Service) are spending their last days in the hospital or nursing home. No doubt it is scary, unpleasant, a little depressing, and often confusing to think about what you want to happen in your last days. Personally though, I think an advance directive is way easier to complete or at least think about when you are healthy, able to make carefully thought through decisions, and talk through these decisions with your loved ones. No one wants to be the one making decisions about end of life treatment in the traumatic, emotional, and often confusing setting that is a hospital ICU.

The best part about an Advance Directive is that you can always change your mind about what treatment you would or would not want at the end-of-life. It’s not set in stone. It only takes a few minutes to complete and you don’t need a lawyer. So go fill out (or at least look at!) an Advance Directive! The forms for each state are easily found here.


And now for something completely different…


The second thing that will change your life is TOTALLY and completely unrelated. It’s a food, or rather a condiment, that makes almost anything better. What is this magical delicious topping you ask? Pickled Red Onions! I came across the recipe on Pinterest (where else?) a couple weeks ago and use them almost daily (I have made three batches so far). They add acidity to savory things you didn’t know needed a touch of acid! Seriously, make some right now. Your sandwiches and dinners and bagels and mouth and tummy will thank you (over and over again)! Thanks to the blog for the recipe because these are the most cherished thing in our fridge right now. Seriously, I’m in love. Get the recipe here.


Photo From: The Shared Appetite, Easy Pickled Onions

Photo From: The Shared Appetite, Easy Pickled Onions

So get these two things in your life right now!

You’re welcome in advance,



1. Morhaim DK, Pollack KM. End-of-life care issues: a personal, economic, public policy, and public health crisis. Am J Public Health. 2013;103(6):e8-e10.

Sunday, Rainy Sunday

It’s spring (finally)! Here in Philly that means warmer temps, open windows, daffodils, and rain instead of snow.

Today is one of those stay-inside-nap-all-day kind of rainy days. Dr. J has today off from the MICU and we’re (trying) to take advantage of a full 24 hours together. We were able to check out a yummy little cafe down the street for breakfast and then went to a matinee showing (because when you can’t stay awake past 9 o’clock, that’s what you do) of the new Wes Anderson movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Now we’re back at home with time for a nice long nap (and some much needed loads of laundry).

Sweet Dreams!

DSC_1168 DSC_1171 DSC_1174 DSC_1167

Oh yeah, I retired my puffy winter coat for the season (fingers crossed for no more snow). Prior to putting it away I gave my down parka a much needed cleaning thanks to the instructions posted around the interwebs. I didn’t even take pictures because it was embarrassingly dirty. Now it is much cleaner with no dry cleaning required!

How to clean your puffy down winter coat:

Step 1: Spot clean extra dirty spots

Step 2: Throw in your washer and wash on “delicate” with “warm/warm” water and some mild laundry detergent

Step 3: Wash again on “delicate” with “warm/warm” water – this time no detergent!

Step 4: Throw in your dryer with three clean tennis balls and dry on low heat for about 2 hours

Voila! Clean re-puffed down winter coat!


Also, don’t try to make macarons on rainy days..

Nap time,


(Better) Hair Coloring at Home

Contrary to popular belief, just because your spouse has an MD after his or her name does not mean you have a large amount of monetary funds to throw around you’re rich (there, I said it). In fact, especially during residency, a budget is key to affording groceries/rent and saving for things like a house or a baby (no, Mom, still no babies in our very near future). We try to account for everything in our budget – from dog food to wedding gifts to hair cuts. Which brings me to our DIY today! Coloring your hair at home, with results that you’ll actually like!

Face it – getting your hair colored at a salon is EX-PEN-SIVE! I know as a blonde if I want to go lighter, the best way is a full set of highlights. But that wasn’t really in the budget, so I started doing some research about the best way to color at home. I wanted some all over lightening that wasn’t too far from my natural medium blonde hair.

Here’s a round up of everything I’ve unearthed about hair coloring on the interwebs:

1. Mix two boxes together: this is how the pros get that unique not-too-brassy-not-too-ashy color
2. Use the same brand: don’t mix brands as they use different chemicals and you don’t want your head to turn into a chemistry experiment gone wrong (I used Clairol Nice N’ Easy)
3. Only mix colors in the same level or within 1 level of each other: Self explanatory. Mixing a level 7 + 8 will get you a 7.5 (I used a mix of 8-Ash and 8-Natural)
4. Avoid “golden” tones: Yes, they sound lovely, but when it comes to home hair color, golden = brassy red tones
5. If you’re going to mix tones choose an “ash” and a “natural.” Never mix an “ash” and a “golden”
6. Don’t go by the model’s hair color on the box, use the swatches on the back to determine what color you’re going for

With all these tips in mind – let’s get coloring!
(always start with a strand test)
1. Mix your colors individually as directed
2. If you’re using two different levels, apply the lighter of the two to the hair framing your face fist
3. Mix the entire contents of each individual bottle in a plastic bowl (not metal or glass!)
4. Apply your new mixed color to your roots first, then the rest of your hair
5. Cover with a shower cap and process for the time indicated on the box, checking the color periodically
6. Rinse and style!

I failed to take a before picture, but take a gander through the Tremblant post for my lovely grown out highlights

After: Blonde again!

After: Blonde again!

After: No highlights were used I swear!

After: No highlights were used I swear!

After: You can color at home!

After: You can color at home!


Happy Hair Coloring!


Happy New Year!

Bring it on 2014!

I’m so excited for this year – we just booked a ski vacation to Mont Tremblant in Canada, despite the fact that I despise winter – Dr. J loves skiing, so this one’s for him! My parents live in a whole new and awesome town, Newburyport, so I can’t wait to visit and explore! We have 4 weddings this summer/fall, each from a different time in our lives – high school, college, med school, family! And last, but certainly not least, the first of our friends is having a baby in March – congrats Dr. K and Josh!

I also have several projects and DIYs to my/ Dr. J’s to do list – one of which is already completed! As you may already know, I’m a little obsessed with chalkboard and typography. I really love the Paper-Source Chalkboard Inspired Calendar, but $30 on a calendar is a little much for a one time use paper calendar if you ask me. The wall of our kitchen also needed a little life added to it, so I was determined to make a statement. But how to add a chalkboard to the wall without painting and screwing into the wall (we rent) but without sacrificing quality and durability (the contact chalkboard paper didn’t get the best reviews)?

Home Depot, that’s how! (I was not compensated by HD for this project in any way, they just happened to have everything I needed in one place)

First, I discovered that Home Depot has these awesome pre-chalkboarded sheets of MDF for the very low price of around $10 for a 2×4 size board – I got two, because I wanted a giant wall calendar!

Second, so I don’t have to redraw the calendar grid or the days of the week every month – I used these very permanent oil based paint Sharpie markers (and a ruler) to draw right on the chalkboard MDF before mounting it on the wall. (Disclaimer – I used pencil first because I’m a perfectionist and because I cannot stress to you enough the permenance of the oil based Sharpie markers)

Third, because we didn’t want to use nails or screws to mount the calendar, I stocked up on some Command Picture Strips with the highest lb-rating I could find and used probably three times more than I needed for the 7.5lb sheet of MDF.


Our Giant Calendar! It measures 2' x 8' so it's hard to get it all in one picture

Our Giant Calendar! It measures 2′ x 8′ so it’s hard to get it all in one picture

The days of the week, the grid, and the ribbon flag are permanent - everything else is erasable!

The days of the week, the grid, and the ribbon flag are permanent – everything else is erasable!

Recognize the font?

View from the other side

The chalk wipes clean with a damp cloth and the oil based Sharpie markers leave very permanent calendar grids, days of the week, and other doodles/decorations! Now we have a Giant Perpetual 6-month Chalkboard Calendar that we can use year after year!

Happy DIYing in 2014!


p.s. You may have noticed that one of our chalkboards is held to the wall with nails. That’s because you need flat flush/plumb walls to use the Command Strips with such a long, heavy item. Turns out, the walls in our old Philly brownstone are not flat!

DIY “Chalkboard” Typography Poster

I am OBSESSED with chalkboard typography right now!

The simplicity of black and white…

Chalk Typography 1

The endless possibilities of type design…


The way the final product is both pretty to look at and (usually) says something nice, too…


Unfortunately, I don’t have an endless supply of things to paint with chalkboard paint or the skill (see the real deal: Dana Tanamachi) to actually use chalk and not have it end up all smudged by the time I’m done.

But have no fear this DIY “Chalkboard” Typography is done without paint and without chalk! (hence the quotes)

How you ask?

All you need is:
Black Sharpie marker (if it’s a little dry, that’s even better!)
Paper that doesn’t bleed (I used the matte side of a quarter sheet of poster board)
Printer (I used the Copy/Print Center at Staples because I made mine poster-sized)

1. Illustrate your words using pencil/paper/ruler – make as many mistakes as you like!

2. When you’re satisfied with your work in pencil, write over the pencil with your Sharpie – mistakes can be fixed in Photoshop!

3. Erase any stray pencil marks

4. Scan your artwork – set color to grayscale (NOT black and white) and then invert colors*

*Our scanner has ‘invert colors’ as an option before saving – if yours doesn’t, you may have to do this part in Photoshop)

*This is where you’ll notice a lovely chalk-like effect if you used a Sharpie that is a little dry and thus not producing uniformly black (and subsequently white) lines

5. Enlarge your image to your desired size (I did 24 x 36), and fix any mistakes you made with Sharpie in Photoshop

6. Print yourself or upload file to have someone print it for you (the latter is recommended)!

I made Dr. J this "Chalkboard" Typography poster of our wedding vows for our First Anniversary!

I made Dr. J this “Chalkboard” Typography poster of our wedding vows for our First Anniversary!

A few tips about printed enlargements:

Do NOT be tempted to print your typography art using Staples Engineering Prints as purported to possible on Pinterest – the quality is crap and you WILL be disappointed if you’re looking for a uniformly black background – or anything that looks nice in general.

Instead, print as a color poster. Yes, it will be more expensive, but it will look beautiful!

Ikea has great simple large frames for waaaaay less than you could have a giant poster professionally framed. Just have a frame store cut you a mat that fits your poster size (especially if you’re going for the 24×36) – I did not do this, but kind of wish I did.. oh well, NEXT TIME!



Vows enlarged to 24x36, printed, framed up, and ready to hang!

DIY “Chalkboard” vows enlarged to 24×36, printed, framed up, and ready to hang!

Happy Illustrating!



DIY Camera Strap (from shorts!)

Yes, you read that right..a camera straps from shorts! This one is little bit DIY and a little bit resourceful laziness.

I have been pining after cute camera straps for a while now. There are several tutorials on Pinterest just begging to be DIY’d, like this one:

So I went out on a little excursion to thrift shops and consignment shops to find me a pretty scarf. In my travels, I popped into the Gap Outlet to see if they had any scarves on clearance. Well, they didn’t have scarves on clearance, but they did have some really cute shorts..with an easily-dissectible, complete-with-fabric-stabilizer-on-the-inside, just-the-right-width waistband..for $3.49! Cha-ching!

DIY Camera Strap from Shorts!

Make your own camera strap from the waistband of shorts!

Make your own camera strap from the waistband of shorts!

First, detach the waistband from the shorts with a seam ripper.

Also with your seam ripper, remove belt loops. (Carefully! So you don’t put too many holes in your strap)

Sew shut the seam that you ripped open.

Open seam at each end of your strap and insert D-ring half way (I only had square ring things, but they worked!)

Sew fabric in between D-ring to secure the D-ring in it’s half way in position.

Attach split ring (or any other clip that will fit on the camera’s strap attachment hardware) to strap and camera.


Love my new nautical camera strap!

Love my new nautical camera strap!

Super cute..and nautical!!




Super Simple Blackout Curtain Ikea Hack

Yesterday morning I woke up in a panic, it was way too bright in our bedroom and Dr. J was still asleep next to me. I check the time and it’s 5:30 on the dot. Still thinking he overslept his alarm after his 15 hour first day of internship, I as gently and not panicked as possible wake him up (by taking the covers off from over his face!). Turns out he was sleeping in until 5:45. Sorry, J!

Clearly, the one window in our bedroom needed better light blocking power.

I didn’t want to break our tiny budget on a legit set of blackout curtains ($$!) or buy a set of curtains and buy blackout fabric and DIY it myself (because that adds up, too).

Light grey Ikea curtain liners make lovely blackout curtains!

Light grey Ikea curtain liners make lovely blackout curtains!

Super Simple Blackout Curtain Hack

Things you will need:

Ikea Glansnava Curtain Liner (Comes as a pack of 2)

There are almost no steps to this hack it’s so simple. The Ikea curtain liners are actually a lovely light grey color with just a little sheen, so I used one facing front (as a curtain) and attached the other as it was intended (as the curtain liner).Since we only needed one of these to cover the entire window, I only had to buy one pack – cha ching!

And ta-da! The double layer curtain-liner-curtain blocks out almost every beam of sunlight!

I played around with how to dress up the curtain facing into the bedroom and went with some simple iron on ribbon for a decorative touch (for now). I think I will eventually paint a modern trellis-like design on them. But for now.. they needed to just be functional.

Sweet Dreams!


Posted in DIY