Monthly Wrap-Up

Well, the month of “daily” posting is done. I wrote and backdated 4/30 posts (including this one!) so I didn’t quite ace the assignment. I do feel like I’ve made good progress on re-establishing my blogging habit. I don’t think one month is quite enough to form an ironclad habit but it’s a good start.

So, things that happened this month: I voted, trip to Florida to visit my family for an early Thanksgiving, trip to San Diego for real Thanksgiving, and the start to my first week of call at UCSF!

At the very end of the month, I started to exercise more consistently which I feel very motivated to continue. I am alternating days with the Couch to 5K workout and bike rides. The bird is very proud of me and is ok with giving up her perch as needed.

Now, here comes December! I’m looking forward to reflecting on the year, setting goals for the next year, finishing up my first call week, and traveling to San Diego for Christmas!

Best/Worst: Christmas Songs

Shout out to Elisabeth for the idea!


This is the most amazing song. It combines Christmas, The Killers, and clever lyrics. What other song uses the word “anthracite?” Also, double bonus, Brandon Flowers IS WEARING THE SAME CHRISTMAS SWEATER THAT I HAVE?!?!?! Love, love, love!

This a total flashback to college when my friend Karen from New Jersey introduced me to this song. It’s not the best, but a flashback to a fun time and fun person in my life!

A little on the sad side, but I love it so!

A fun song. I really like the Christmas song sub-genre that spreads Christmas cheer in non-traditional (aka, non-snowy) environments since I’ve spent several Christmases in California and in other countries.

Another nostalgia winner! We watched this TV special a lot when I was a kid. I have tried to learn how to play it, but it’s a challenge. My Mom can play it though!


Ok, ok, there really aren’t many “worst” Christmas songs but I will play along.

The Grinch! He’s the worst! (But I actually like the song!)

Ok, this song does make me want to stab myself in the eyeball rather than hear it the whole way through.

Problematic lyrics and sung by She and Him. This is a pointlessly catty comment, but I’m not the biggest fan of Zooey Deschanel’s voice. Like, I can hear in her voice how awesome she thinks her voice is. So smug! And so silly on my part.

Only because I heard so many tortured versions. But this soprano has a beautiful voice so in this case, worth a listen.

It’s so bad, it’s good. I actually kind of love this song and wanted to end on a positive note. Merry Christmas!

Things I Am Liking

I have really enjoyed the November blog challenge and reading others’ blogs. My commenting has only been so-so, but I really like the ideas for repeating posts that occur at regular or semi-regular intervals. One type of the post is “Things I’m Liking” so…

Couch to 5K: I’m using the UK Runner’s World plan to ease my way back into running. A friend of mine hurt himself a few years back and this is what his PT recommended. Since I majorly tweaked my calf a few months towards the end of a random 3 mile run, I decided I am of the age where consistency and gradual increases are required. You know that “Only increase your mileage 10% a week” adage that I have never followed? Well, I think it’s time that I do.

Thanksgiving Weekend Sales: While I wish I could save 25% all the time, I stocked up on a few items that were really well-priced. My favorite moisturizer and SPF/skin concealer which leads me to…

Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment: While it might sound next-level Chia pet, this is my favorite SPF/color-correcting/mattifying cream. I tried a lot of BB creams back when they were first out and very popular, but I never was super into them. The Laura Mercier BB. Meh. The Kosas skin oil. Well, that was ok but no SPF. This TFCCT is awesome. It goes on with a slight green tint that changes to a light beige as it’s rubbed in. And it changes quite quickly- it’s not something that you have to rub in vigorously like those purple-to-white sunscreens. The color match is really good for me. It’s important to note that it’s not skin shade matching- I am pretty sure on any skin color, it would stay the same light beige while being rubbed in.

San Diego Long Weekend

I had such a fun time in San Diego this past weekend! We arrived Thanksgiving Day and had a delicious dinner at SMS’ sister’s house. The next day, we were a bit mellow. We also hung out with SMS’ childhood friend. They were Boy Scouts together for the longest time.

On Saturday, we went to The Friendly where we split one of the Flat Top Burgers and a spinach-ricotta piece of pizza. The food was so good. It’s not going to win any health awards and I’m definitely hoping to go back! After lunch, we headed to Del Mar where we stopped at Crumbl Cookie and killed some time at Seagrove Park.

Then we went to Del Mar Heights where we were going to meet a couple-friends of our. Michelle and I worked together for three years and we’ve known each other for longer when she was a junior attending and I was still a resident. They have a beautiful house with an incredible view. But this time, their driveway was the star since Michelle had majorly balled out and gotten a Porsche Panamara Hybrid!

Hanging out was so much fun. We shared poke on their deck and I saw Kona, my favorite doodlie dog! We stayed for a few hours and headed back to SMS’ parents’ house.

Then SMS and I decided to do different social things. He went out with his sister and brother-in-law since they were busy the next day. I had already made plans with some other friends and didn’t want to flake. So, I went to Shakespeare’s for dinner and drinks. Afterward, Jenny and I went bar-hopping which I hadn’t done in awhile. We went to The Regale Beagle, where it smelled like a wet mop head and we didn’t stay too long. Then we finished at Starlite, where I hadn’t been in years. Not too much has changed, although their Moscow Mule glasses have increased in size. Maybe harder to steal? I never stole one, but I’m pretty sure they had a big problem with that several years ago.

The next day, we had another delicious healthy breakfast and cappuchino at the house. Then we headed back to the Fish Shop (yay!) for another delicious lunch. Seriously, it is so good. Then, since we had a little extra time, we went to Carruth Cellars “urban winery” in Point Loma. I didn’t love their wines, but it’s a really neat concept and space. For $50, you get a bottle of wine and weekly free glasses. So if you do like the wines, it’s a pretty fun place to join!

Then it was time to go! Sad to leave San Diego but it was a great trip. As the book in the lending library asks, “Where do I go from here with my life?”

I will never eat again…

You know how mindfulness teachers will talk about “Be in the moment.” I feel that oftentimes, this is not a very big problem for me. In the moment, I feel something very strongly and it seems like it will be a permanent state. This morning, I woke up still full from yesterday night’s dinner and I thought to myself, “I will never eat again.” Well, that’s clearly not true but kind of funny that it seems so true in the moment.

This has also happened to me in the grocery store when I make the mistake of shopping when I have just eaten. I lack the imagination to consider I will be hungry again so I often underbuy. This is different than when I go shopping while hungry because then I just overbuy and lean towards ridiculous amounts of snacks.

There are some foods that I try to avoid buying because it is difficult for me to stop eating. This usually falls into the salty crunchy category. The little crispy mochi bites from Trader Joe’s? My kryptonite! I also really like Trader Joe’s Chinese cracker mix. My favorite cracker? The round silver dollar sized one. Don’t worry- I don’t think that fact is the basis for any of my password security questions. Or is it…I may have been too hungry at the time to dedicate to remembering!

It is lovely to be back in San Diego. It’s fun to be back as a visitor, especially when it’s a fun family holiday trip! It makes me realize how fantastic the weather really is here. I also love my in-laws backyard. It is a little piece of paradise. SMS and I even did 30 minutes of yoga in the backyard today. It was so nice!

Thanksgiving dinner was amazing. The turkey was really well done, the dressing delicious, the cranberry sauce the perfect citrus zestiness, the potatoes amazing, and the green bean casserole was loaded with bacon. I really liked it and I also find it funny when the veggie sides are loaded with meat. You know, to ward off the evil spirits of healthfulness, antioxidants, and phytochemicals!

For lunch, we went to Point Loma Fish Shop, where I had a delicious scallop and ono fish taco. So tasty! Then we went to Eppig and grabbed a beer. We hung out with SMS’ childhood friend and it was fun to catch up with him.

Influencing Type

Although I try not to be, I can definitely be influenced to buy something. I know that influencing is a career in advertising. When I’m on IG, I can clearly see that I fit into a “demographic.” Oh, how my angsty, “I’m all alone” teenage self would despair. How can I be like everyone else?!?! Well, not everyone else, but certainly in a group!

So, I’m sitting here typing with a hyped anti-puff face mask on. Yes, my face looked puffy this morning. And yes, I was lured by the promise in a jar. Nevermind that real anti-puffing would occur with healthy diet and exercise! Sheesh.

But the funny thing is that this overhyped miracle smells, and probably is, repackaged anti-hemorrhoid cream. How do I know this? Because in my teens, I was influenced by Seventeen to try anti-hemorrhoid cream as an undereye depuffer. I know the smell! And as I sit here in my expensive mask, I feel swindled!

Also, another funny hemorrhoid treatments story (they exist?!) is that when I was an intern, people would often ask each other to put in prescriptions for them as needed. Well, some of the guys thought it was hilarious to add Proctofoam and suppositories to each other’s order. It was a short fad since it was really only funny once, but it was pretty great since the person didn’t find out until the pharmacist reviewed each prescription.


Another missed post! I’m happy to be part of the November daily blogging streak. I feel like it’s revived my interest in blogging! But I’m a work in progress. I will take the win that I’ve really broken a dry spell in blogging.

And thanks for the thoughtful comments on rent vs buy. I feel like a load is lifted in making the decision. I’m not looking forward to telling our realtor, whose business has taken a hit. We are going to give him a nice present, but I’m sure he would prefer the present of a home sale commission.

Now, it’s time to focus on the move. On the positive side, my shipment from San Diego is being handled by professional movers. In addition, the 1B/1B apartment is fairly sparsely furnished so that part of the move will be easy (oops, just jinxed myself!).

On the negative side, there will be a little too much stuff coming into the new apartment from my shipment since there is a lot of garage garbage included. Some of that stuff has been carted around for years and I would love to get rid of it, but it’s mostly SMS’ stuff. It’s always easier to throw someone else’s stuff away than my own so I need to focus on my own excess! And accidentally throw away some of his. (JKNR, new acronym! JKNR = just kidding, not really).

Hiking and Rent vs Buy

On Sunday, I went to a local apartment complex for an outdoor fitness class. SMS took a pass since he’s still nurturing his shoulder back to full health. I had heard about the class the day before when we were touring the complex.

For the past several months, SMS and I have been debating the rent vs. buy conundrum. I know. So original. But this past year has been pretty mind-blowing with mortgage rates and if you don’t know this: 1. congratulations on already owning your house and 2. I hate you. Haha, I kid. I don’t. Wait, I do!

On top of popping interest rates, house prices in the Bay Area are exorbitant. This is not new, but with both the price and the interest being high, we were doing a lot of mental contortions to try to make sense of it all. And it was stressful. And super-circular in our discussions, which became really draining from a mental energy perspective.

One thing that really helped me figure out what to do is to identify the “wasted money” in each situation. In renting, people talk about “throwing your money” away since you are not spending your rent on a personally owned asset. You are buying the roof over your head for the month, so that’s pretty tangible but still, it’s not something owned by the renter. I’ve definitely known about this concept since I’ve rented my entire adult life.

But there is also wasted money in owning due to interest payments. That is money I’ll never see again and adds significantly to the total cost of the house over the mortgage term. Conceptually, I had realized that but when I looked at SMS’ financial spreadsheets, I was amazed at how much money that was each month. It is a lot money, much more than rent at this current time. I mean, I had known about the idea of rent to buy calculators to help a person make the decision, but seeing real numbers in terms of house prices we were considering was illuminating.

Also, I’ve been a little hesitant in taking on that much debt since one of the big reasons I went into the military was to avoid taking on ~$250k of medical school debt. So, to take on a debt burden that is a lot greater gives me significant pause.

All this to say, we feel pretty certain that renting is still the best option for us. The complex we’re considering is quite nice and I think it will be a fun place to live. I’m hoping for a bit of the social experience we had when we lived in another nice complex at the start of our Northern CA time in 2015. We lived in Mountain View at that time and had really interesting neighbors that were pretty easy to meet.

So, where’s the hike? Getting to it! After a morning of a workout followed by a ridiculously-sized smoothie that was delicious and free(!), I did a few hours of computer work. Then, SMS and I decided we needed some sunshine so we hiked the Arastradero loop in a nearby foothills preserve. It is really beautiful with a lot of golden dried grass that looks great in the late afternoon sun.

I wonder if the bee owns or rents?

Travel Catch-Up

Today my main post is my Yellowstone Day 1: Southern Loop post. I backdated it to July to keep the trip sequence in order, but I’m counting it in my November blog streak.

I don’t have a big trip lined up anytime soon. I’m going to San Diego for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m off to Hawaii for a conference followed by a few extra days of vacation in February. But after that, no big plans. If I build up my vacation days steadily, maybe a Fall 2023 trip would work. In the United States, I would love to do a New England trip that would include Western Massachusetts and Maine, especially Bar Harbor and Acadia. This would be pretty spectacular during Fall foliage season. In Europe, I would like to visit the Benalux, especially the Netherlands; Normandy; Alsace; and Croatia. I wouldn’t plan on all of these areas in one trip- they’re just on the top of my list of places to go.

Overall though, I’m not in a real travel-plan frame of mind although I love looking back on my trips. I started this blog to track my travel and trips, which has been really helpful over the years as a memory jog. I have looked back on Japan posts for recommendations. I used my old Switzerland posts to help with my trip this past Summer. I really like having the trips live more vividly in my mind by having this resource.

Brunch Trifecta

I enjoy a good brunch. When I was in residency, I would go out semi-regularly with a great group of girl friends. I feel like brunch used to be more of a thing, but given the abundance of cute restaurants with fancy drinks and over-priced food that doesn’t save particularly well, I think it may just be me and brunch, is in fact, still very popular.

As for food that doesn’t save very well, I think breakfast food is very difficult to salvage from a to-go box. I will eat dinner leftovers all day long, but soggy & stale pancakes and waffles, no way. Eggs? An even harder no. And finally, how would you even transport an Egg Benedict in any way that did not transform it into looking like it had already undergone digestion? Come to my blog for the entertainment, leave with the impossible to answer questions.

If you would like to know my go-to recipe for a hosted brunch, I recommend overnight-soaked baked caramelized French Toast. My Mom has a great Southern Living recipe, which I can’t find but this one is close. The original one is a little simpler and focuses purely on the sugar, but the nuts, maple syrup, and bourbon in the linked recipe sound good. The recipe is great because it is make-ahead so you can mingle with your guests. Your house will also smell delicious.

If you want a more in-the-moment recipe, I’m a fan of ricotta pancakes.

But what I love about brunch are the drinks! Above, I present to you the holy brunch trifecta: water, coffee, and a Bloody Mary. In the alcohol category, a mimosa comes in second place but only if the sparkling wine:orange juice ratio is very, very high. I had a corpse reviver #2 in New Orleans. While it was delicious, the drink, like NOLA, was intense!

Finally, blog admin note. I’m trying to lay off the parentheticals & parenthesis and, instead, have gone crazy on the commas. Paging Strunk & White: help!