Monday, December 30, 2013

Now that 2013 is over, can I take a nap?

When I was a kid, I spent every New Year's Eve reading through old diary entries. Now that I'm a grown up, I have a blog to scroll through when I'm feeling nostalgic. Without even having to look through a year of entries, I can tell you that 2013 has been one of the busiest, most exciting years of my life. Stressful at times, but for the most part, quite rewarding. Here's a brief look back at the past year.

In Spring 2013, I testified for the Oregon State House of Representatives and Senate in support of a bill to ban minors under age 18 from using indoor tanning beds.

Testifying for the Oregon State House Health Care Committee.

Ultimately, the bill passed, and I was invited to the signing ceremony with Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. The new law goes into effect in January 2014, so I'll be following closely to see how tanning salons handle compliance with the new restrictions.

Oregon teen tanning ban bill signing ceremony.

Meanwhile, I was also pretty busy planning the 2nd Annual Portland Melanoma Walk, which took place in May 2013. The event raised nearly $40,000, which was more than double our original goal!

Portland Melanoma Walk 2013.

More Portland Melanoma Walk.

Throughout the year, I got to travel to some pretty exciting places, including New Orleans, the Dominican Republic, Washington DC, Boston, and Sonoma Valley.

New Orleans in Spring 2013.

My best friend's bachelorette party in Sonoma.

Jessica's wedding week in Punta Cana.

Chelsea's bachelorette at the Oregon Coast.

Wine tasting with Tim and his family in Napa.

Several very important people in my life got married in 2013, including my friends Jessica, Chelsea, and Liz, my cousin Jameson, and my brother Andrew.

The bride and her MOH.
My brother's wedding in August 2013.

Me and Tim at Chelsea's wedding.

And let's not forget: I survived a three-mile run while being pelted with paint.

Me and Debbie at the Color Run in Fall 2013.
Earlier this month, as 2013 began to wind down, I started wondering whether it would be possible to "outdo" myself in 2014. How could I possibly schedule more than 10 trips or beat my fundraising goal again? While there are never any guarantees, I have a feeling that 2014 has some pretty exciting things in store for me. My philosophy on life these days can be summed up by a short quote from Louis Pasteur: "Chance favors the prepared mind." After years of preparation, I'm definitely ready to make my mark on the world.

With that, I wish you all a happy, healthy, and safe New Year. 


Monday, December 23, 2013

Big news: I've been approved for PCORI funding!

As some of you know, I've served as a lay reviewer for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute since last spring. It's been an incredible learning experience that has empowered me to reach out to experts in melanoma research to see what I can do as a patient to improve melanoma survival rates.

Today, I found out that the project I've been working on with researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and the founders of SolSurvivors Utah has been approved for a "Pipeline to Proposal" award from PCORI. The project is one of 30 proposals approved for these seed funds intended to build communities interested in advancing patient- and stakeholder-driven health research.

Our project, "Developing Infrastructure for Patient-Centered Melanoma Research," unites patients from Oregon and Utah—two Western states with abnormally high melanoma rates—with researchers from Oregon Health & Science University and the University of Utah. Ultimately, our goal is to find a way to engage significant numbers of patients and caregivers in research design, project governance, and dissemination of findings. Be sure to check back this spring to learn more about how you can become involved!

This award is among the first to be made through PCORI’s new Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards program. These Tier I Pipeline to Proposal awards provide seed funds to encourage the development of partnerships and research project ideas among individuals and groups who want to take an active role in health research but may not have opportunities to do so.

Our project was selected by review panels made up of patients, stakeholders, and researchers. All projects are approved pending a programmatic and budget review by PCORI staff and negotiation of a formal contract.

PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions. PCORI's expanding portfolio now includes 279 patient-centered studies and initiatives. PCORI has awarded a total of $464.4 million since it began funding patient-centered comparative effectiveness research in 2012. For more information about PCORI, visit

Thursday, December 19, 2013

White legs in the wintertime

Unless you've visited a tropical island (jealous) or a tanning salon (tsk tsk) recently, chances are your legs are looking a little "pasty" by mid-December. I just got back from a trip to Michigan for Tim's brother's wedding, where I decided to wear a new LBD and peep-toe pumps despite the fact that it was 18 degrees and snowing. Usually I wear tights with dresses and skirts when it's freezing out, but when it comes to a semi-formal wedding or holiday party, there are times when I'm faced with the inevitable: baring my white legs in public.

Of all my body parts, I have always been most self conscious of my legs--especially without a tan. I toyed with the idea of buying some Jergens self tanner, but ultimately decided against it. If nothing else, it was a good reminder that even I sometimes fall prey to vanity and the peer pressure to maintain a tan year round. When I see even my friends continue to tan (even the UV-free kind) I can't help but wonder what they think of me and my white legs. After all, unlike some of my other silly worries (e.g., Is everyone staring at the zit on my chin?), people have made comments about my legs. They did it when I was in 8th grade and they've continued to do it since I was diagnosed with skin cancer. I admit that my legs look smoother and slimmer with a tan than without, but I also realize that my health is more important than how thin my thighs look. I just hate that I sometimes still feel like I should be hiding beneath closed-toed shoes, tights, and leggings.

What about you? Do you bare your legs in the winter?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Winter is coming: cold weather essentials

Please pardon the double entendre. I just finished book four in the Game of Thrones series, and it's true! Winter really is coming. Here are a few of my cold-weather favorites.

Winter is coming

Burberry earmuffs
Not a hat person? Me neither. Earmuffs are great for keeping warm sans hat hair. I have a pair I found on clearance at JCrew that I love, but I wouldn't mind a pair of these from Burberry. A girl can dream, right?

OPI glitter nail polish
Throughout the month of December, I keep my manicure festive with a coat of silver or gold glitter over my regular nail color. It's a foolproof way to add a little sparkle to your look.

Dr. Jart BB Cream with SPF 25
Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean you can ditch the sunscreen. Every morning, I use a moisturizer with sunscreen to protect against sun damage and premature aging. Feeling lazy? A BB cream with SPF built in keeps skin hydrated, protected, and helps even skin tone. This one is super moisturizing and the coverage is light enough that it works with my fair skin tone.

L'Occitane hand cream
My skin gets extremely dry in the winter, and my cuticles are a lost cause. I love this super-rich hand cream so much that I keep a tube of it on my desk at work.

JCrew cashmere infinity scarf
Earlier this fall, my friend hosted a scarf exchange. A solid 90 percent of scarves exchanged were "infinity scarves"--and with good reason. They're warm, stylish, and comfy.

Peppermint hot chocolate
The ultimate winter-time beverage. Reminds me of being a kid, in a good way.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Shop Barnes & Noble to support melanoma research, Nov. 22-24

Get started on your holiday shopping early! Now through Sunday, November 24, 2013, a percent of proceeds from your purchase at Barnes & Noble supports AIM at Melanoma's efforts to find a cure for melanoma.

Barnes & Noble Bookfair

In-Store & Online across the U.S.

November 22-24, 2013

Purchase Books, Nooks, DVDs, CDs, Toys & More

% of purchase supports AIM's efforts to find the CURE for melanoma

In-Store Shopping

Present Voucher or Provide #11197969 to Cashier

Online Shopping

Enter #11197969 at Checkout

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Quarter-life crisis, pt. 2

 "You are your own worst enemy. If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, from yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you." -Lisa Kleypas
"Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving." -Emma Bombeck

In 2008, I faced a textbook case of quarter-life crisis-itis. My dream of becoming a writer in NYC was shattered after I spent three months interning in the publishing industry and didn't love it. Was it glamorous? Sort of. Was it meaningful? Not in the way I had hoped.

Ultimately, I decided to move back to my hometown of Portland, Oregon (free rent!) and "temped" with a variety of companies until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I spent time at a finance company, a small creative agency, and a nonprofit before ending up at my current employer--OHSU--in January 2010. What I appreciate about my job is that I've had the potential for growth, and my boss has been incredibly supportive of my extracurricular activities--from planning countless fundraising events to traveling to DC to review grants like I did earlier this week.

If you're a regular reader, you may have noticed that I've been a bit quieter than usual over the past few months. I've been super busy reviewing grants, planning bachelorette parties, and taking online classes, but I've also been doing some serious self reflection. I've been calling it quarter-life crisis: part two.

Last spring, I accomplished more in the realm of melanoma education and advocacy than I had ever hoped--I helped raise $40,000 for melanoma research and got to meet our governor who thanked me for sharing my story about melanoma and tanning beds.

When I started this blog, I admit, I had some selfish motivations: I still felt like I was the one who gave myself cancer and that I didn't deserve to be as "lucky" as I have been. Every time I log onto Facebook, I see posts from friends who are dealing with brain metastasis or who have lost a loved one to melanoma. It kills me to see this, especially when I'm still hearing so many people brush off skin cancer like it's no big deal. My motivation for blogging, for planning the Portland Melanoma Walk, and for sharing my story on as many public forums as possible, has been driven largely in part by good old-fashioned guilt. And, I'm actually very pleased to report, that at some point over the past six months or so, that guilt has finally lifted. Somehow, by serving this sort of self-imposed penance, I have come to terms with what happened to me, and I don't blame myself any more.

What does that mean? It's taken months for me to put this into words, and I'm still a little unsure. As I mentioned, I've been doing a lot of reflection on what my next steps should be in life. While I've wanted to go back to school to pursue a master's degree for a while, up until recently, I felt like there was something holding me back. I'm still not 100% certain what direction I want my life to take, but it may or may not involve a bit of a break from melanoma advocacy. Rest assured, I'm still organizing the Portland Melanoma Walk this spring (May 31, 2014 - save the date!), and I plan to continue blogging, but I don't want melanoma to get in the way of my life any more than it already has.

Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive of me throughout this journey. Several of you I've had a chance to meet with in person, but for those of you I only know "virtually," your kind words and support still mean more to me than you know.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Infographic: Know your skin

I'm back! ...kind of. Still working away until my trip to DC next week. In the meantime, someone sent me this infographic on how to spot a melanoma. I'm mildly obsessed with infographics, and I think this one does a really great job of distinguishing different types of skin spots.

View the full size infographic.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mini break

Just a heads up that I'll probably be a bit MIA over the next few weeks. I'm in the midst of an intense grant review and much of my free time is being consumed by that.

One quick update before I sign off: our Portland Melanoma Walk planning committee just started meeting again. If you live in the Pacific Northwest and you'd like to get involved in any way, send me an email at

Take care!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Review: My Berry Organics Antioxidant Wild Blueberry Moisturizing Face Creme

When Rebecca Webster from My Berry Organics approached me to try one of her antioxidant skin care products, I couldn't resist. I have so much fun trying new things, especially those that are good for your skin. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals that are produced by sun exposure and environmental pollutants. I've been seeing antioxidants more and more in skin care products lately. While it's probably better to eat a handful of blueberries than to slather them all over your face, it probably doesn't hurt to add antioxidants to your skin care regimen, too.

My Berry Organics Wild Blueberry Moisturizing Face Creme $39 for 2 oz.
First impression: This lotion smells amazing. Exactly like fresh blueberries, but not in a fake or weird way like some blueberry-scented products (I'm thinking of this shave cream). It's made with fresh fruit, so you can actually see tiny specks of blueberry skin in the lotion. The lotion is relatively light weight, which makes it suitable for day or night. When I use it as a night cream I usually layer it with a serum, though, because my skin is so dry. After using this lotion for two weeks, my only real complaint is that I just wish it came in a jar instead of a bottle! The squeeze bottle design doesn't offer as much control as a jar or a pump, so sometimes I dispensed more of the product than I needed. This is super important to me if I'm spending $20 per ounce on face lotion. Otherwise, I'm really enjoying using this lotion and I appreciate that its owner is spreading awareness about skin cancer.

Learn more about My Berry Organics.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for providing a review. Opinions contained in this post are my own.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dear Bruce Jenner, basal cell carcinoma is not melanoma

Bruce Jenner after surgery. E! News.
Bruce Jenner--a guy who gave the keynote speech at a tanning industry conference last year--has been diagnosed and treated for skin cancer. Unfortunately, he's also been spreading misinformation that belittles the dangers of melanoma.

In an E! News article, Jenner is quoted saying: "I was diagnosed with a form of Melanoma called Basal cell carcinoma and have undergone Mohs surgery to remove it."

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, with approximately 2.8 million cases diagnosed per year. Basal cell carcinoma is classified as a non-melanoma skin cancer. Although it can be pretty disfiguring, it's hardly ever life threatening.

Melanoma, in contrast, is much less common, but it's much more dangerous. Many melanomas cannot be treated with Mohs surgery. They require more extensive surgeries, and patients often require lymph node removal and other treatments if the cancer has spread beyond the initial tumor. In 2013, it's estimated that nearly 10,000 people will die from melanoma.

Last week, I had a really fantastic phone conversation with Mary Tripp, Ph.D., M.P.H., a researcher from MD Anderson Cancer Center who is leading a new melanoma prevention initiative. In her opinion, one of the reasons why people downplay the dangers of tanning beds is that they mistake melanoma for other skin cancers.

"A lot of people will know friends and family with squamous and basal cell carcinomas, which are not as dangerous," she said. "But melanoma is a major cancer."

I think that statements like the one made by Bruce Jenner help perpetuate the misconceptions that skin cancer isn't a big deal and that tanning beds aren't something we need to be worried about. I hope that Mr. Jenner gets better soon, but that he learns more about the different types of skin cancer, and that he actually does try to take better care of his skin.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Let's play dress up

On our way to 80s night.

I've decided that I kind of love being 27. I love that I'm old enough to have my own place, to have a steady income, and to feel like a responsible "grown up" half of the time, but that I'm not too old to get dressed up and make a fool of myself every once in a while. (Like wearing a floral leotard to an 80s dance cruise on Saturday. Which, by the way, I found a HUGE rack of at Forever 21. Please tell me these aren't making a comeback.) Most people still mistake me for a 23-year-old, but I'm starting to be OK with that, too. I credit genetics (thanks, mom) and my daily SPF.

Desperately in need of a shower after the Color Run.

I also recently did one of those 5k color runs, where they douse you with paint as you run through the course. It was the first organized run I've done all year, which is PITIFUL, but it's so easy to let running go by the wayside when I'm busy with other things. My goal is to continue running into the winter. This is always a huge challenge for me because it becomes nearly impossible to run outside once when it gets dark by the time I'm off work. It also rains a lot in Portland, and even the gym is about a half mile walk from my apartment. Excuses-- I know. If you have any advice on how to stay motivated during cold and rainy months, please send it my way.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sunscreen reviews: L'Oreal Sublime Sun Oil Spray SPF 50 and Advanced Sunscreen Lotion

The last time I used a suntan oil, I was about 17 year old, laying out in my parents' yard, using some "dark tanning oil" with SPF 4. When L'Oreal introduced a new sunscreen oil earlier this year with SPF 50, I was somewhat of a skeptic. Wouldn't oil magnify the effects of the sun, not block out harmful rays? Product junkie that I am, I was also a little intrigued. Last week, I was stocking up on sunscreen for my Labor Day Napa trip and I noticed that all L'Oreal sunscreens were 50 percent off. So I bought a couple to test. Here's the lowdown:

L'Oreal Sublime Sun Sunscreen Oil Spray SPF 50
If you're not a fan of thick, white sunscreen - you've got to try this. Blended with vitamin E, argan and other oils, it doesn't look, feel, or smell like a traditional sunscreen. Using the spray bottle, you can spritz onto skin and blend all over easily. One downside is that the bottle says it's not greasy, but that's kind of a lie. If you've used a body oil before, that's basically what this stuff feels like. Unless you apply extremely sparingly, it doesn't absorb totally. Perk: It gave my chest and shoulders a really pretty glow. Caveat: When I put my legs up on a leather chair and it left a huge grease mark. Whoops!
Rating: 3/5. I would never give up my normal sunscreens and use this exclusively, but it was fun to try something new. I think this would be nice to have when lounging by the pool. It makes sunscreen application feel more "sexy," and less of a chore, but it's a little greasy for everyday use.

L'Oreal Sublime Sun Advanced Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
There's not much about this formula that distinguishes it from so many other drugstore-brand sunscreens, other than the fact that it's made with antioxidants, which are super important for repairing damaged skin cells. It applies super easily and the scent isn't offensive like some, but if I'm using a lotion, I think I'd rather use one that has a physical (not chemical) sunscreen in it like zinc oxide.
Rating: 3/5. Didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. In the future, I'd probably buy Supergoop's Antioxidant-Infused SPF 40, which uses zinc oxide as it's active ingredient.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day in Napa Valley

Here are a few photos from my Labor Day trip to Napa with Tim and his family. I tried some new sunscreen while I was there, so I'll be sharing a review of that soon.

Special thanks to Instagram for making me feel like an artist. Well, sort of.

Sending love to all students and teachers who are heading back to school this week, including my mom! :)

View from our deck at sunset.

Barrels at Sterling Winery in Calistoga.


The most amazing wine and cheese pairing ever at Brown Estates.

Monday, August 26, 2013

8 for August: Melanoma surgeon turned patient, the "base tan" myth, and more

Lots of skin cancer articles in the news recently. Here are a few worth sharing:

1. In his LA Times article, "My melanoma, my message," surgical oncologist Travis Kidner shares what it's like to go from being a melanoma doctor to a melanoma patient. After his surgery for stage I melanoma, he says, "On my first day back at work, I saw four new patients with melanoma who were under age 46. My job as a doctor is to do everything possible to cure them. But as a survivor, I also feel a huge responsibility to prevent new cases... We need to get the word out: Tanning kills."

2. This USA Today article discusses state and federal regulation changes on indoor tanning that may help curb increasing young adult skin cancer rates. The article also mentions a social backlash against tanning, which includes a quick reference to Pretty in Pale, "a popular blog [that] raises awareness about melanoma and helps young women love the skin they were born with."

3. A new report in JAMA Internal Medicine that says about 29 percent of white high school students are still using tanning beds. With melanoma rates raising steadily at about 3 percent per year, this has a number of doctors worried.

4. Mary Elizabeth Williams gives a candid, moving glimpse into her experience with stage IV melanoma on the SU2C blog. A quick snippet: "All I knew was that it had to very, very bad for there to be no Stage 5."

5. A new study at Yale's School of Public Health helps validate previous claims that tanning is addictive. A number of people in the study continued to use tanning beds even after being diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. About half of them, according to the article, exhibited classic signs of dependence.

6. I've blogged about the "base tan" myth before, but now there's new evidence to suggest tanning before a vacation may actually increase your risk of burning.

7. Illinois is the latest state to sign into law a ban on indoor tanning beds for teenagers.

8. Want to increase your chance of detecting a malignant mole early? Look at pictures of skin cancer online. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in July indicates that people who see pictures of skin cancer may be more likely to do their own skin examinations. Find lots of helpful images on The Skin Cancer Foundation website.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Miley Cyrus strips down to promote skin cancer awareness

In case you missed it, Miley Cyrus is running around naked again, but this time for a worthy cause: melanoma research. Miley is the newest face of Marc Jacob's "Protect the skin you're in" campaign, which benefits the NYU Skin Cancer Institute. While I probably won't be rushing out to buy a Miley shirt any time soon, I love these tees, and there are plenty of other celebs to choose from (Heidi Klum, Victoria Beckham, and Naomi Campbell just to name a few).

What do you think of these shirts? Would you wear one?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My best friend's wedding

Mr. and Mrs. McDaniel.

My BFF since high school got married over the weekend! I survived with only minor injuries: a champagne bottle prematurely exploded on my thumb while we were getting our hair and makeup done and then I stepped on a shard of glass at the reception (dropping your wine glass on the dance floor is such a party foul, people!)

Even though much of my spring and summer have been full of weddings and wedding-related activities (exhibits A, B, C, and D), I'm still such a newbie at the whole wedding thing. When Liz asked me to be her maid of honor, I had never been in a wedding party before. Clueless but determined to be the best MOH I could be, I ordered books from with titles like The Knot Bridesmaid Handbook: Help the Bride Shine Without Losing Your Mind. Despite months of preparation, I still don't think I was prepared for how emotional I would be on Saturday. Aside from being pee-my-pants nervous for giving my toast, there's something to be said about seeing your close friends so incredibly happy and in love. Basically, it was a blast, and I feel very blessed to have such wonderful friends.

I will stop being such a cheeseball now. Just needed to get it out of my system. I didn't take any photos at the wedding because my phone was shoved in the back of a locker, but here are a few I snagged from the photo booth. P.S. Loved my eggplant-colored bridesmaid dress-- I'm actually looking forward to wearing it again. Oh, and Tim: Thank you for being the best wedding date ever.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Birthday weekend recap

Birthday weekend kicked off a day early this year. Tim surprised me by sending flowers to my office last Wednesday. I took a half day at work on Thursday and he didn't want them to miss me, so he sent them a day early. I was totally surprised. Boys: there's nothing that will put a smile on a girl's face like sending her a bouquet of roses. On my actual birthday, I left work early and treated myself to a facial and massage (if you live in the Portland area, the ladies at Zara Clinic are beyond amazing). From there, I stopped by my parent's house to pick up a few more b-day goodies, and then Tim took me to dinner at a nice steak house downtown. With all the weddings and events going on this summer, I opted to keep things relatively low key this year, but I felt very loved and spoiled, which is all a girl can ask for, right?

Debbie, me, and my mom at dinner.

On Friday, I met up with my girlfriends and we did a three-course "fondue experience" dinner. I eat cheese fondue all the time, but I've never done one of those entrees where they give you raw meat and you cook it on your table. It was a riot. I'm surprised none of us got food poisoning from eating undercooked chicken.

Caramel, chocolate, and cheesecake-flavored fondue.

Aside from submitting a comment to the FDA last week in support of reclassifying tanning beds, I've been relatively inactive in the melanoma/skin cancer arena lately. At points last spring, it became all consuming--testifying down in Salem and planning the Portland Melanoma Walk. As with anything, I think we all just sometimes need a break from things. I just need to allow myself to fully relax and not carry the burden of needing to be doing something all the time. Something to work on for "27" perhaps?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

27 things you may or may not know about me

Tomorrow is my 27th birthday! Instead of complaining about how old I'm getting (which I know drives anyone who is older than I am crazy), I decided to compile a list of fun facts to give you a better sense of who I am when I'm not blogging about skin cancer and sunscreen. Enjoy!

1. I've been blogging (and making online "zines") since AOL dial-up.

2. I was a vegetarian for 12 years and just started eating red meat again a year ago.

3. I interned at two magazines in NYC the summer I turned 21.

The House Beautiful intern cubicle. I remember talking this photo on my 21st
birthday because my mom had the flowers delivered to the office.

4. When I was a senior in high school, I didn't apply to college anywhere in my home state.

5. I ended up at Lehigh University where I majored in English and journalism.

College graduation in 2008.

6. I attended an all-girls, Catholic high school.

7. I love cats - lions, tigers, and the more domestic variety that you find on your lap and in YouTube videos.

8. I paint my nails about 2x per week before I go to bed. I own enough nail polish that I could probably open my own salon.

My fingertips on Sephora's nailspotting Pinterest board.

9. My favorite movie is Love Actually.

10. I learned how to drive on a 1995 Nissan Sentra and finally just upgraded last summer to a 2011 Nissan Rogue. It was the first car I've ever purchased in my own name without a co-signer.

My baby!

11. But I take public transportation to and from work every day.

12. I manage the Research Funding & Development Services program at Oregon Health & Science University. That means I help scientists find grant funding and do a lot of internal communication with faculty and other biomedical researchers. Part of my job includes editing a blog.

13. I fly several times a year and yet it is still one of the most terrifying things in the world to me.

This is how I fly.

14. I did professional theater when I was a kid. My favorite role was Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

15. I could eat cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My favorite foods include homemade macaroni and cheese and fondue.

16. Once upon a time, I knit a sweater. It look an entire year!

I knit this!

17. If I didn't have to work, I'm pretty sure I would be nocturnal.

18. I want children someday, but babies still kind of scare me.

19. I drink tea in the mornings, not coffee.

My beverage of choice.

20. I love befriending strangers, even if I know I'll never see them again.

21. My mom is my best friend in the entire world.

22. Places at the top of my travel bucket list include Egypt, Greece, and Bora Bora.

Dream vacation? Yes, please.

23. I rarely pay full price for anything.

24. I can't lie. You will know when I'm lying.

25. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who cancel at the last minute.

26. I read 33 books in 2012. If you're on Goodreads, please be my friend.

The Lovely Bones is one of my favorite books.

27. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a paleontologist.

Monday, July 29, 2013

I rented the runway

Me and Tim at my friend's wedding.

Saturday night was our first wedding of the summer. Instead of buying a new dress (or recycling an old one), I caved and finally ordered from Rent the Runway. If you're not already familiar with RTR, it's a web-based company that let's you rent designer dresses and gowns for special occasions. The rental costs are a little steep (about $70 to $200 to rent most cocktail dresses for the weekend), but it's such a fun concept. I've always wanted to try one of Herve Leger's iconic bandage dresses, but buying one would cost more than a month's rent.

Renting one for the weekend set me back about $125 (including round-trip shipping and insurance), and I feel like it was totally worth it to get to play dress up for the night. My favorite part of the website is that it features photos and reviews of each dress by real women so that you can get a better idea of what size to order and if the style would be flattering for your body type. I wish more online shopping sites offered customer photos in addition to reviews.

Anyhow, I highly recommend the service, and I can't wait to rent again!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pretty in purple

Last week, I traveled to Boston for another round of PCORI grant review. On the way home, I had a few extra hours to kill in the airport, so I took full advantage of the free WiFi and did a little online shopping. I adore this purple dress I found from Nordstrom. This shade of purple is definitely one of my go-to colors for making my skin tone pop. Here's how I would style it for a Saturday afternoon out with my girlfriends. What color can you always count on to make yourself feel pretty and confident?

Summer time
Summertime by katielise: Dress Topshop / Sandals Sam Edelman / Wallet Kate Spade / Earrings Bauble Bar / Sunglasses J. Crew / Nail polish Julep

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tsk tsk, Women's Health

Always happy to find alternatives to UV tanning in the mainstream media, I was excited to find a feature on sunless tanners in the July issue of Women's Health magazine. That was, until I actually started reading it.

The article begins by summarizing recent findings that spray-on sunless tanners may be harmful to the lungs. But don't worry. The article reassures us that we don't need to "endure a pasty existence." Call me crazy, but if tanning in general (outdoors, indoors, and now maybe in Mystic tanning booths as well) is bad for us, would it really be the end of the world to endure being pasty? Is being pasty really something that must be "endured" in the first place? My natural skin tone is obviously pretty light. Are they somehow implying that there is something wrong with me? Is it truly necessary to take the "Casper-ness out of pale skin"?

While I love a little self depreciation every now and again, it bothers me when I see fair-skinned women apologizing about how white their skin is. Articles like this one help perpetuate such behavior. Even if skin cancer wasn't an issue, I'd like to think that it's OK for me to be satisfied with my God-given skin color. I shouldn't be obliged to change it with sun exposure, DHA, or bronzing powder.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I made the "Top 10 Skin Cancer Bloggers" list!

Last week I was contacted by the folks at, an interactive social media site that connects experts and patients on issues related to health and wellness. I showed up on their radar as someone who is sparking conversations about skin cancer online. They've included me in this month's "Top 10" list, which includes two fellow melanoma awareness advocates that I highly respect and admire--Chelsea Price and Susan Hayes. To be frank, I don't know how the heck I made it onto the same list as these superstars, but I feel very flattered and thankful for the opportunity to keep spreading my message. Apparently someone is listening! :)

Read the full press release and check out all the other awesome blogs that made the cut.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hello, summer

Wine tasting in Sonoma for Liz's bachelorette.

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! I've been caught up in vacation mode for the past two weeks. The last weekend in June I spent in Sonoma Valley for my best friend's much-anticipated bachelorette party. We stayed in a gorgeous "chateau," tasted countless varieties of wine, and had a Real Housewives themed in-house catered dinner. Everything was over the top and fabulous.

After the mini-vacay, I had a super short work week. I spent the 4th with my boyfriend and some of our friends and had so much fun. I won't lie: I absolutely love summer. I know I can't bathe in the sun all day like I used to, but what's better than spending a hot day by the pool, sipping sangria with a handful of close friends? Nada.

To my credit, I plowed through my bottle of Neutrogena Beach Defense. Even Tim used it. Also a crowd pleaser: Neutrogena Wet Skin Spray SPF 50. I don't always trust spray on sunscreens (I've been burned too many times!), but I like how you can apply this one on damp skin.

I didn't take any photos on the 4th (whoops!), but I have plenty from the bachelorette weekend to make up for it. Here are a few of my favorites.

Liz and me.

Walking around the vineyards.

Champagne toast.

The house we rented.