Half way through the month – a review of my February Resolutions

On January 31st, I made a list of things I hoped to accomplish February. Now that the month is half way over, I’d like to revisit that list and see how I am doing.

Crafts
  1. Complete the baby blanket started for donation back in November before Valentine’s day – NOT DONE YET-GASP
  2. Finish at least 1 of the two bridesmaid scarves by January 12th, in hopes my friend Jen can teach me how to block it – nope 😦
  3. Make my make-up roll! – STARTED! WOOHOO

Writing

  1. Write in this blog (cleverknots.wordpress.com) every single day – no exceptions – I missed 1 day, the day was just suddenly over and I didn’t even realize I had missed a day till a few days later.
  2. Submit 1 ezine article per a week – two submitted – 1 published, 1 in process
  3. Write a minimum of 6 articles a week on homemadefit.com as follows: 1 exercise, 2 woman’s heath, 2 nutrition, 1 lifestyle – 6 articles were successfully published each of the first two weeks of february, though not necessary in these categories – I will have to keep these in mind for the last two weeks.
  4. Write and publish 2 patterns this month: 1 scarf, 1 other – Make up roll and the Winter Diamond Scarf – both in progress
  5. Write and distribute a newsletter every other week to all of the people I coach on beachbody! (sign up is free – just click here ) CHECK! 🙂
Health
  1. Continue to follow the Turbo Fire workout schedule explicitly – working out 6 days a week – I didn’t quite hit 6 days the second week because I was sick :/ – only got 4 days
  2. Goal: graduate from light to medium resistance bands for use in Turbo FireI use the medium for some things
  3. Reduce amount of candy consumption to five days a week or less – check!
  4. Cook dinner from scratch a minimum of 4 days a week – nope 😦
  5. Continue to eat at least 3 servings of vegetables a dayabsolutely!


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University rankings are flawed – but very relevant

When stufflizreads say “The US News system is, at best, a flawed one, designed to reward schools for “being good,” but not necessarily serving their students well.” – I couldn’t agree with her (and Gladwell) more. But regardless of the system upon which the rankings are based, these rankings play a significant role in the rest of our lives.

In the year 2003, when it came down to it, I narrowed down my undergraduate choices to three options: University of Massachusetts- Amherst, UC Davis, and Colorado State. At the time, I didn’t really put any stock into rankings, and eliminated the first option because it wasn’t close enough to home (which was Alb, NM at the time) and selected CSU because I really liked my visit there better than my visit at UC Davis – CSU also offered me a substantial scholarship and UC Davis was expensive!

But now, applying to medical schools, I find that having a state school degree absolutely counts against me. It only minimally matters that I have an MPH from Brown, because it is truly the undergraduate education where we acquire our prerequisites. And although I can be a doctor regardless of where I attend medical school, the “where” will have an impact on my residency options, my career options, and my ability to get grants. The problem is, that the people of this nation weight heavily into these statistics. People automatically look at you different if you have a Harvard degree versus a CSU degree and even patients consider it if they are frustrated with the medical attention they are receiving (or the results they are given). “My doctor is from the carribbean – what do they know” – when in fact all medical schools that are accredited offer similar curriculums albeit different rigor of research.

While my department at CSU, microbiology, was always ready and willing to provide individual advice, I found the pre-med advising to be inefficient. And when I tried to get in touch with the pre-med advisor this past fall he all but threw me out the door (figuratively as I live in Chicago). He did not respond to emails (although he assured me he would review my essays) and it took several attempts to get him on the phone. Brown will only advise students who attended their for undergraduate and the University of Chicago (where I now puruse research) has the same rule. I think people underestimate what a school with an admissions committee has to offer as well as the ability to have someone in the field read through your essays. My father, family friend (english teacher) and wonderful academic advisor at Brown have been more than helpful in this regard – but you have to wonder – do the “better” schools have more to offer?

I wonder if this entire process would have been simpler had I attended a different school and if perhaps, as an out of state resident, it would improve my ability to get into medical school in the state of California or perhaps other schools in the nation as well.

As the AMCAS collects transcripts for each of the students and then distributes them to medical schools, I wonder if it were possible to distribute them in such a way that did NOT indicate undergraduate institution, if we would see a change in the statistics – would state students get into more of the higher rated universities?

Loving my choices

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A make up roll – from scratch

So after getting infinitely frustrated with knitting – I decided I need to take a break and remind myself that I am actually really good at crocheting. And this is why I LOVE crafts.

Back in August, I gifted all of my bridesmaid’s a jewelry roll embroidered with their name on it. They were really cute. And for some reason – I didn’t think to order myself one. But recently I have been trying to learn how to wear make-up and thought a good, similar project – would be to construct a make – up roll.

I actually got the idea when I was look at patterns to make a case to carry crochet hooks or knitting needles, and one of the patterns was designed to carry circular needles and the squares look like the perfect size to carry a compact, and the crochet hook pieces look like they can carry make up brushes or eye liners. Using this pattern as inspiration, I have designed a make-up roll. Still very much in progress, this piece is coming along nicely. And don’t worry – I am taking notes so that I can write up a pattern that will be available for free to download from this website when it is complete.

The final design will tie up similar to this make up roll and there will be a flower across the outside in the same darker blue color used for the pockets inside the roll. The dark green that will border each of the blue slots will be used to make green flowers that will decorate each of the blue slots. I am really excited with how this is coming together. Here is what I have so far, can you picture the final product?

My take on Valentine’s Day

This Valentines Day reflect on those in your life in a new way and think about how you can make them smile a little every day.

My husband recently posted a quote on his facebook wall, that I think really sums up the way I feel about valentine’s day (and many other holidays like mother’s and father’s day):

“Holidays are an opportunity for us to celebrate collectively and simultaneously things we should be celebrating individually and continually.”

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we really took a moment to appreciate those in our lives that we love very single day? I remember the mother of a friend of mine used to put little messages in her child’s lunch box every single day with quotes to inspire her child or show her child that she was proud of her. Looking back on it, I really think that is beautiful.

Looking around the internet this morning, I struggled to find blogs detailing ways to make Valentine’s day special or unique this year, perhaps it is yet too early. But of those I did find, one in particular stands out and, appreciating the sentiment, I wanted to share it here.

Elaine on Philanthropywriting.com write’s the following article about valentine’s day “16 Charitable Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day.” My favorite idea on Elaine’s list is number 2 “Put the fun in fundraising” where she suggests that you could host a cocktail (or some other other kind of) party and donate all proceeds to a charity of some kind. I have always wanted to host such a party, and wish I had considered it with more time to plan. It’s hard living in Chicago because I am really just beginning to meet people and I don’t think I could pull off something so successful here at this time. But it is certainly something to keep in mind. For the most part, Elaine’s list of ideas are really manageable and easy for anyone to do without much forethought. I hope you pick a good one!

Otherwise, the only other sources I found were for last minute Valentine’s Day gifts, Valentine’s Day poems or Valentine Day goodies. If you were thinking of making Valentine’s day cupcakes, perhaps you should consider crocheting them – and then maybe donating them to your local children’s hospital.

A book review: the perks of being a wallflower

bottles,bowls,cans,decorations,flowers,foods,fruit bowls,fruits,homes,households,houses,ornamentations,photographs,plants,residences,tables,vases,wallsMy freshman year of college, a high school friend of mine sent me a message to say something along the lines of “omg, ashley, you must read this book.” So, placing huge amounts of trust in this particular friend who hadn’t previously recommended a book, I left my dorm and ventured over to the library to check it out. It was love at first sight. This book, about a young boy named Charlie, struggling through life, is incredible. Charlie tells his own story, as each chapter is a letter from himself to some unknown recipient. His best friend has just committed suicide, and Charlie, very shy and emotionally driven, must begin high school alone. This book hedges on issues of homosexuality, abortion, rape, and teenage angst while every reader falls in love with Charlie and his struggle between growing up and staying young.

Today I find out, this book is going to be made into a movie. And I am a blur of emotions. First, because as of this past year, my tear ducts have taken on a mind of their own, and suddenly I cry at absolutely everything (be it a  sweet romantic moment in No Strings Attached or a death on Grey’s Anatomy). And I know that I will see this movie, and I know that I will cry. And second, because I am extremely excited to see this story get unfolded on the big screen. It’s gonna be epic. As long as it doesn’t spark a whole new era of emo kids cutting themselves and imagining problems in their families because life as a teenager is just so dang hard.

With a release of 2012, the perks of being a wallflower is rumored to star Logan Lerman as Charlie. IMDB reminds me that I know Logan both from the lightening thief, and more importantly, from 3:10 to Yuma – which is an incredibly movie and if you haven’t seen it – please rent immediately. The only other casted member, according to IMDB is Emma Watson as Sam. I am excited to see if Emma can really break out of her shell as Hermoine and rise to the task of such an emotionally charged role.

Accomplishing the to-do list

As one who really takes an interest in setting goals and accomplishing them, I really enjoy reading blogs by my friends who do exactly that. This one for instance, is written by my friend Lexie. Lexie is turning 30 next year, and as such, has made a 30 to-do before 30 list and started checking things off and blogging about them. Everything from reading the classics like Pride and Prejudice and Beloved to running a marathon to building snowmen to riding a motorcycle, this year is a very interesting year for her and one I truly enjoy following.

Making a list each day is really about feeling accomplished. It is great to carry around a list that can be edited throughout the day so you don’t miss important things (such as paying your credit card bill or scheduling that doctor appoitnment) to the little things like writing in your blog or finishing that scarf. When I am really pressed for time, I like to include things like brushing my teeth and taking a shower, just to make sure that I get to cross more things off the list. Someday I will have a fancy schmancy phone like an iphone or an android, or maybe just an Ipod touch that will allow me to carry an electronic to-do list around with me – but for the time being, living on a budget, I am enjoying the physical act of writing and crossing out my things to do.

As a fun exercise, you should try it tomorrow. carrying a pen and paper in your purse (or pocket) – start by writing out your schedule for the day, then, make a box and write the things that must be accomplished before bed, and then, at the bottom, write out the things you will try to accomplish in all the space in between.

Here is mine for today: (notice the 6:00 am wake up got cut off) – to be honest, this bottom section will probably double in size before I ever leave work, as I remember things I’d like to do today.