Hospice: 10 Things Patients and Families Need to Know

Hospice is a care philosophy that focuses on maximizing the quality of life as opposed to the quantity of life. Hospice may incl...

Friday, December 5, 2014

(not so) Cheap Social Worker Spends Too Much Money on Disneyland Food

Last November, I had the opportunity to spend glorious three days at Disneyland with my parents and looKIMsopretty! Disneyland holds a special place in my heart since I have many fond childhood (and young adult) memories from vacationing there. Now, my family and I try to go every 1-2 years thanks to my dad's discounted military tickets.

During this trip, I wanted to try as many new foods as possible since I didn't discover the joys of Disney food until recently. While growing up, my folks would pack a rice cooker, Spam, Vienna Sausages, sardines, and precooked meals stored in Tupperware whenever we went to Disneyland. We'd then leave the park during the day and eat as many meals as possible in the hotel to save money. On top of that, I was usually too excited to go on rides to think about food as a kid!

While my parents still pack a rice cooker and various canned meats, we now enjoy more meals in the park along with snacks like churros (my mom's favorite) and turkey legs (my dad's favorite). My personal favorites are Dole Whips, turkey legs, and churros. Here's a rundown of everything I had over the three days I spent at Disneyland/California Adventure:

Day 0 (Arrival Day)

Dinner: Earl of Sandwich

earl of sandwich best blt

I first discovered Earl of Sandwich while looking for something cheap to eat in Las Vegas. Since then, I've made it a point to go every time I'm there. I was thrilled to find out that they recently opened an Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney and stopped by to get my usual Best BLT ($5.99) after checking into my hotel. Unlike the Las Vegas shop, the one in Downtown Disney has much more seating to accommodate families wanting an affordable meal.

Day 1

Breakfast: NOTHING!
I was in a hurry to get to the park, so I pretty much skipped breakfast. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS!

Lunch: Hot-Link Corn Dog from Corn Dog Castle (California Adventure)

Corn Dog Disney

Corn Dog Disney

For lunch, we headed to Corn Dog Castle! I ordered a Hot-Link Corn Dog ($7.99) which came with your choice of chips or apples (regular hot dogs and cheddar cheese sticks are $7.69). The corn dog itself was just how I like them, with a juicy hot-link surrounded by a generous coating of deep fried cornmeal batter. While the corn dog looks huge, note that there is probably more fried batter than hot dog! Definitely a nice, filling meal to make up for skipping breakfast.

Snack: Dole Whip Float from Disneyland's Tiki Bar

Disney Dole Whip

As previously stated, one of my favorite snacks at Disneyland is the Dole Whip Float ($4.79) which is sold outside the Tiki Room. While you can get the pineapple soft serve by itself, I prefer to mix it with pineapple juice for extra flavor and hydration! One tip is to pass the turnstiles into the Tiki Room waiting area, as they have another cashier with typically shorter lines.

Dinner: BBQ Chicken and Slaw Baked Potato from Harbour Galley (Disneyland)

Disney BBQ Chicken and Slaw Baked Potato

After reading about the BBQ Chicken and Slaw Stuffed Baked Potato on various food blogs, we decided to head to Harbour Galley between New Orleans Square and Critter Country, which is as close as you get to a "hole in the wall" at Disneyland. Let's say that the food blogs were right! Not only do you get a large potato, you also get a GIANT scoop of juicy BBQ chicken topped with coleslaw and sour cream to go with it! For $6.39, this meal is a Disney bargain as it can easily feed two people!

Day 3

Breakfast: Steamed rice, canned sardines, and tomatoes
Our hotel didn't have continental breakfast and I didn't want to pay for breakfast. It's a lot tastier than it sounds, really!

Lunch: BBQ Shrimp and Grits from Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen (Downtown Disney)

BBQ Shrimp and Grits Ralph Brennan's Downtown Disney

The menu describes this as shrimp with "'New Orleans' barbecue sauce, andouille parmesan grits". Tasty and flavorful, and a small enough portion so I didn't have to box anything. For $17.00, this meal is fairly pricey for the size. Big eaters might want to consider the Po' Boy Sandwich for more value.

Snack: Sugar-Free Butter Pecan Ice Cream from Clarabelle's Hand-Scooped Ice Cream (California Adventure) 

Disney Sugar Free Butter Pecan Ice Cream

I'm usually not one to get sugar-free food, but I was in the mood for something different. Surprisingly, this ice cream did not taste sugar-free at all. However, at $4.69 for a single scoop you'd be better off just going to the grocery store and getting a half gallon of Dreyer's (the brand Disney uses).
Note: If you have kids and their ice cream falls off the cone, bring the empty cone back to the shop for a replacement scoop. Disney likes to keep the kids happy like that.

Dinner: Breakfast at IHOP


My family and I were hungry and tired of wading through crowds, so we just had dinner at the IHOP next to our hotel. Price-wise, we could have gotten comparable food inside one of the parks, but at least here we didn't have to wait to sit down. One of my fondest memories of Disney as a child was a 1am breakfast at Denny's on Easter Sunday after staying in the park until closing and getting to go on rides without waiting in line. Not a bad way to end the day!

Day 3

Breakfast: Steamed rice, canned corn beef, and tomatoes
Don't knock it 'til you've tried it!

Snack: Cream Cheese Pretzel @ Pretzel Cart (Disneyland)

Disney Cream Cheese Pretzel

I usually only eat pretzels when my mom buys them and managed to grab a piece of this one. Next time, I might just get my own pretzel because the combination of toasted pretzel with sweet cream cheese was delicious! For $4.75, it's a nice alternative to the churro.

Lunch/Dinner: Monte Cristo Sandwich @ Cafe Orleans (Disneyland)

Disney Monte Cristo Sandwich

Since I started reading Disney food reviews a few years ago, I've been wanting to try the Monte Cristo Sandwich. Described in the menu as "Sliced Turkey, Ham, and Swiss fried in a light batter and served with Berry Purée dusted with Powdered Sugar", this famous specialty is served at the Blue Bayou ($26.49) and Cafe Orleans ($18.99). There's also a vegetarian version which uses Swiss, mozzarella, and double crème Brie for the same price.

Disney Monte Cristo Sandwich

Having somehow secured a same-day reservation to Cafe Orleans, I went ahead and ordered the Monte Cristo. My dad ordered the vegetarian version and we swapped half of our plates so we could try each. Between the two sandwiches, I definitely like the vegetarian version the best. While delicious, the original Monte Cristo seemed more like a plain sandwich wrapped in a beignet. The vegetarian version was a much more satisfying experience with the rich taste of Brie complimenting the tart berry sauce and the texture of the deep fried batter.

Disney Monte Cristo Sandwich

While I'm not sure if I'd ever get the original Monte Cristo again, I'd definitely reorder the vegetarian version. One recommendation I have is to bring a friend, have that person order a soup/appetizer, and split the sandwich as the portions are so huge that I couldn't even finish half!

Day 4

Breakfast: Various Pastries at Porto's Bakery and Cafe (Glendale, CA)


Porto's is a Cuban bakery with several locations in Southern California that has become a place where my family stocks up on snacks for the long drive back to the Bay Area. If you've never been here, I highly recommend them for their array of delicious yet affordable baked goods! My personal favorites are the guava cheese rolls, potato balls, and Dulce de leche kisses. If possible, go early in the morning because there is always a long line!

As usual, I was saddened to leave Disneyland and return to the real world. However, I know that this time I'll be back much sooner than later because I am now a season pass holder, just in time for Disneyland's 60th Anniversary! Looking forward to many more trips, happy memories, and food tastings this year!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Joking About Low Social Worker Pay

While perusing the internet for social work news, I found an old video of a Vice President Joe Biden speech.  In this speech, where he addresses an Urban League conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, Biden jokes that he wishes he had a “Republican kid to go out and make money.”  This is so he could get a "window view" when placed in a nursing home.  Biden then states, "But my daughter’s a social worker.. Graduate school at Penn and runs an at risk program — at risk youth program — for kids getting out of prison and young men getting out of prison.”

You can watch the video here: Joe Biden: I wish I had a ‘Republican kid to go out and make money’ 

When I first entered graduate school, my classmates and professors frequently joked about how we were entering a field where we would make no money.  In one lecture, my a professor joked that we ever wanted an Escalade and a house in a gated community, social work was the wrong field.  As years passed, I've lost count of the number of people who've joked that "I hope you marry someone rich" upon hearing what I do for a living.

It's not funny.  Really, it isn't.

It's a safe bet to say that many social workers cringe when they hear racial/cultural jokes or jokes about disabilities.  Why?  These jokes are mean, tasteless, and reinforce stereotypes about particular groups.  When people make jokes about social workers being poorly compensated, "do-gooder baby snatchers", it not only perpetuates falsehoods about our profession, but normalizes our poor wages, poor reputation, and stressful working conditions.  While I understand that social workers joke about their wages to relieve frustration over getting paid so little, such humor also seems to imply an acceptance that this is what it means to be a social worker.  Sorry, I became a social worker to help the poor and disenfranchised, not to become part of them.

So shame on you, Vice President Biden. Instead of focusing on the good your daughter is doing and advocating for the social work profession, you make a cheap joke about her wages as if it's okay.  Because the world would be such a better place if there were more Republican sons focused on making money...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Brief Note on Depression and Suicide

A lot of great things have been said online in response to recent events.  Since this is an emotionally draining topic for me, I won't rehash what's already been said online and just share some of my favorite articles below.  However, I will toss in this brief bit:

"Victim blaming" when it comes to mental illness has always infuriated me.  However, when such behavior comes from someone in the medical field, I can't help but question the quality of education this person received in medical/nursing/social work/allied health school.  When caring for a severely depressed or suicidal individual, statements like "Look what this is doing to the people around you" and "This is a call for attention" do not help the situation. Neither is calling a family member to confront the patient (which is a potential HIPAA violation).  As medical practitioners, our focus is to provide care, not judgement.  My advice is this:  If you're not going to try to be understanding of a patient's predicament, then step aside and let someone else take over because you are doing more damage than good.

As I said, I wanted to keep this post short so I will leave all of you with links to some easy reading on the topics of suicide and depression:
There's Nothing Selfish About Suicide
Robin Williams's death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish
Best Ways To Support Someone With Depression
21 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Depressed

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stitch Fix Review #3

For those of you unfamiliar with the Stitch Fix shopping service, please go here first: Stitch Fix Review #1

Shortly after writing Stitch Fix Review #2, I received a really nice e-mail from Kate of Stitch Fix.  She apologized for my Fix not working out and offered tips on how to improve the next one.  It was really nice of Stitch Fix to reach out to me personally, so I decided to give them one more chance!  Here's how my third Fix turned out:

Item #1: Emperia Murphy Two-Tone Stud Detail Crossbody ($38)

Stitch Fix
Nice quality vegan purse with gold hardware, which I like. However, I recently stocked up on a bunch of bags from various Little Black Bag (now Pose) sales and really do not need another. I'll have to add a request for no purses to my profile.

Item #2: Ace Swiss Dot & Floral Tie-Waist Blouse ($68)
Item #3: Pink Martini Joshua Colored Ankle Jean ($64)
Stitch Fix
I wasn't really a fan of the dot/floral pattern combinations, which seemed too busy for me. This blouse seems like it would work for a taller person since the waist basically landed on my hips. Also, it arrived with detached button, making me wonder about the quality and craftsmanship.

As for the pants, the fact that I received them in the first place was a problem because I specifically requested NO PANTS on my profile. While I liked the color, they sat way too low on my waist.  Such a huge disappointment and made me wonder if the Stitch Fix staff actually read my profile before putting together this Fix.

Item #3: Ark n Co Ashlie Graphic Knit Sleeveless Cardigan ($68)
Stitch Fix
This knitted cardigan was really soft and well-constructed.  Perfect for a summer/fall transitional piece.  Unfortunately, this was way too long and billowy on me.  The high/low cut also made my hips look huge.

Item #5: Under Skies Rho Mixed Chevron Sleeveless Dress ($58)
Stitch Fix
Once again, I was down to my last item.  Fortunately, this dress was super comfy and the perfect length and fit, though my mom commented that it seemed form fitting.  I may be blind, but I don't think it's form fitting at all, and my scoliosis seems masked by the pattern.  While rather expensive at $58, I decided to keep it as a work dress to avoid losing my $20 styling fee yet again.

Honestly, this may be my last Stitch Fix for a while. Part of the appeal of the company was receiving products based on your personal style preferences. With the inclusion of pants in my most recent Fix, I question whether Stitch Fix even takes my requests into account.  Maybe Stitch Fix's algorithm simply doesn't work for someone like me with scoliosis and non-traditional proportions. While I did have some initial success finding clothes, I'm not sure I want to continue risking $20+ dollars a month only to settle for something I'm not completely happy with.  Sorry, Stitch Fix!

If you are interested in trying out Stitch Fix, feel free to use my referral link here:  https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3203420.  No, I am not affiliated with Stitch Fix in any way, shape, or form.

Friday, June 20, 2014

TSG.TV's Pokemon Marathon for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

pokemon marathon

Between work and travel, it's been a pretty eventful summer for me thus far!  This week, I am in Texas helping my TSG.TV buddies with their latest video game marathon!

Also known as TheSpeedGamers, TSG consists of a group of friends with a passion for video games who host marathons for charity throughout the year.  Since 2008, they have raised over $460,000 for organizations such as ACT Today, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Heifer Internation, and Mercy Corps.  Marathons typically consist of gamers alongside commentators who engage the chatroom and perform various stunts (i.e. singing songs or eating disgusting concoctions) for donations.  I became involved with TSG back when I was in graduate school thanks to their Final Fantasy Marathon (one of my favorite video game series of all time) and consider myself lucky to be associated with such a great group of people.

For this year's annual summer marathon, TSG will be playing 168 hours of Pokemon and catching them all! All proceeds will go towards St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, known for their work with pediatric cancer.

If you're a fan a video games, or someone who enjoys seeing others use their passion to help others, then definitely check out the TSG.TV Pokemon Marathon from June 20-27!  Hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Best/Worst Graduation Speech I've Ever Heard

You know it's graduation season when your social media feeds are inundated with videos/text from various graduation speeches. A number of well-off engineers I know shared this particular speech, which resulted in strong, conflicting mixed reactions on my part. I haven't felt this uncomfortable reading something since the Any Chua Wall Street Journal article.

Here's a copy of the "speech" here: Dear graduates: Don’t follow your dreams (A commencement speech for the mediocre) 
I can't decide if this is the best or most arrogant commencement speech I have ever read. Basically, author Tim Donovan states that people should err on the safe side when making career decisions and not pursue non-financially lucrative dreams because they will most likely not succeed. In his opinion, it's better to live a stable life than risk failure, and that passions should be relegated to hobby status.

To a certain level, I can understand where Mr. Donovan is coming from. On one hand, not everyone can succeed as an artist, musician, writer, [insert humanities field here]. The author himself worked as a waiter for many years before making it big. Even fields in the social sciences (such as social work) don't always provide livable incomes. Safe degrees in fields like computer science, engineering, medicine, and business generally guarantee enough disposable income for people to pay their bills and live comfortable lives. On the other hand, I find it ironic that a humanities major who ultimately became successful by following his dreams is telling the rest of us to simply take the safe route.

Tim Donovan targets the general student population in his "speech" - the mediocre. A question I can't help by ask is this: Who are the true mediocre in this situation? Is it people who play it safe and potentially live mundane yet stable lives, or those who risk their financial security in hopes of doing something great or achieving their dreams? While some of the biggest risk takers I know could have higher incomes and larger nest eggs, these individuals are the ones who seem to be having the most adventure, seeing the world, and making the most out of life.

On a personal note, I'm someone who tried to balance dreams (studying music) with stability (a college counseling job) but ultimately erred on the side of practicality (a job in the medical sector). My job is fine, but I regularly wonder if I'd be happier if I pursued something even less financially pragmatic than social work. Maybe I'll get that music degree someday (to the horror of my family/friends), but for now I'll be part of the mediocre.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Obama Says He Wants More Young People To Become Social Workers

It's been a while since I've made a social work related post!  I'll try to do a better job of throwing in social work related material among my product reviews and shopping/deal/travel articles.  I am still a social worker after all!

Nice feel good article from Social Workers Speak, but certainly easier said than done:

Obama says he wants more young people to become social workers | Social Workers Speak

Let's face it, despite the increasing demand for (geriatric) social workers, there is decreasing incentive for students to go into the social work field.  In this economy, why would a practical student take on loads of debt to get a graduate degree in a field with low returns?

If we want more social workers, then we need to provide financial incentives for students to enter the field.  For me, that would include reducing student loan debt (which President Obama touched on) and higher wages.  It's a deterrent to pay someone with a masters degree and a license the same wages as someone with a 2 year degree.  As I've stated many times on this blog, the best way we can ensure this is to pass federal title protection laws so non-social workers can't take our jobs.

It's great to see the social work profession acknowledged by the President.  However, we have a long way to go before we receive the respect and compensation we deserve.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Thank you, LUSH Cosmetics!

I love getting mail!
As mentioned in my previous post, I won LUSH's #freshnewlush contest during Generation Beauty.  My prizes came in the mail, and I thought I'd share some pics and thoughts on each product!

LUSH sent me 6 full-sized products!  So generous of them!
LUSH sent me a total of six products: African Paradise Body Conditioner, Zeste Medium to Short Hair Gelly, D'Fluff Strawberry Shaving Soap, Granny Takes a Dip Bath Bomb, and bar soaps in Parsley Porridge and Mangnificent.  Since LUSH products tend to have slightly shorter expiration dates because they have no preservatives, I went ahead and opened them up!

Granny Takes a Dip
Granny Takes a Dip is an invigorating bath bomb with lemon oil, ginger, and pepper.  Its psychedelic look reminds me of a bubble gum flavored popsicle I used to eat as a kid!  I still need to clean and disinfect my bathtub before I try this out, but in the meantime check out this video of it fizzing here: Granny Takes a Dip

Magnificent (left) and Parsley Porridge soap bars from Generation Beauty for reference
Mangnificent and Parsley Porridge soap bars were also in my swag bag during Generation Beauty.  Mangnificent, made with natural ingredients such as mango and various fruit oils (including neroli) has a candy-like citrus tropical smell.  Perfect for aromatherapy after a stressful day at work!  Parsley Porridge, on the other hand, is made with ingredients such as tea tree oil, aloe vera, thyme, and parsley and has a refreshing herbal scent.  Intended as a detoxifying soap, I'm looking forward to see if it has any clarifying effects on my skin! 

D'Fluff Strawberry Shaving Soap
D'Fluff has a sweet floral chocolate covered strawberry scent.  Makes sense since the product is made with strawberries, rosehip oil, and cocoa butter.  While I usually epilate (saves on the cost of razors and shaving), I gave D'Fluff a try and found that it made my skin slippery enough for a smooth shave.  However, be careful that none of the product accidentally washes off prior to shaving!  I'd turn off the shower before using this.

Zeste Medium to Strong Hair Gelly
Zeste is made with avocado and citrus oil and smells like guacamole according to my boyfriend.  Personally, I like the avocado citrus scent, but it may be too strong depending on your environment/workplace.  This will be a product I use when I'm not in a hospital setting.

Zeste on my hand
At first, I was confused as how to use Zeste because I couldn't seem to get any on my finger.  Then I read the directions and dumped the entire container onto my hand, which came out as a dense, conglomerated blob of gel.  Passing the blob between my two hands coated them with just the right around of product.  Zeste does provide decent, non-crispy hold, but I'd recommend not using too much to prevent oily, bogged down hair.

African Paradise Body Conditioner
African Paradise Body Conditioner is chock full of moisturizers (aloe gel, shea butter, cocoa butter), natural oils (almond, moringa, marula, baobab, Kahari melon, ylang ylang, clove bud, and sandalwood), and mango juice.  Its complex scent is something I can best describe as an earthier version of a moringa shower gel I use.

At first, I had trouble getting the product on my body and made a huge mess in my shower.  This is definitely another product where I'd recommend turning off the shower or stepping away from the water stream before using.  However, a quick rub and rinse of African Paradise reveals smooth and glowing skin that eliminates the need for lotion.  Also 24 hours later, I still can't believe how soft my skin is!  As someone who hates applying lotion after a shower, I plan on repurchasing this product (and all its iterations) over and over again!  By far my favorite prize of the bunch!

I will admit that LUSH is not the most affordable cosmetics and body care company out there.  However, they are certainly one of the greenest with their use of natural ingredients, recycled packaging, non-animal/human testing practices, and environmental activism.  This, coupled with the quality and longevity (especially in the case of their solid shampoo) of products makes it worth the occasional splurge!  Thank you again for the prizes, LUSH!  I will see you at next year's Generation Beauty and really soon at my nearby mall!

*Disclaimer* I am not affiliated with LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics in any way, shape, or form.  I am simply an excited fan who won a prize from them!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Proactiv Skin Purifying Mask


My skin was not in good shape last week. The combination of Amtrak/bus travel, lack of sleep, and new products tested on my face has caused me to break out so badly that I was questioned at the dinner table, despite wearing concealer. It was time of an intervention, even if meant a mask so I could eat my dinner in peace. Going through my Generation Beauty haul, I found a sample of Proactive Skin Purifying Mask.

I've pretty much struggled with acne for as long as I could remember. My childhood consisted of numerous trips to the dermatologist, tubes of various creams smeared on my face, and bottles of antibiotics down my throat. Recently, I've gone as far as having costly, painful, but effective acne extractions to keep the pesky red bumps at bay. Given the cost of acne facials and topical antibiotics (which I must pay in full thanks to my health plan), I've been looking into lower cost over-the-counter options. The Proactiv mask seemed promising because it uses sulfur, an ingredient I've had success with in the past.

Sulfur, also known as the 16th element, has been used since ancient times to treat various skin ailments due to its antibacterial properties. While sulfur usually has a pungent smell I could barely detect it, possibly because I'm desensitized from all the sulfur-based products I've used in the past. In fact, I found this product to have a refreshing, clean scent!

The nice thing about this product is that it can be used as both a mask and an overnight spot treatment. I ended up doing both, and while I didn't wake up with miraculously clear skin, the acne on my face did diminish in size and redness!

Overall, I'd recommend Proactiv's Skin Purifying Mask if you have oily, acne-prone skin. Currently, it's only available as a free gift if you buy a kit on Proactiv's website.  I hope they start selling this product individually as I'd like to add to my weekly skincare routine!

*Disclaimer* I am not affiliated with Proactiv in any way, shape, or form.  I just happened to receive a free mask and felt like sharing a review!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Much Needed Self-Care: Generation Beauty 2014

Wow, am I behind on posts!  I think for the sake of keeping at least one blog somewhat updated, I will just write here from here on out!  I may consolidate posts from other blogs in the future, but for now I will just link to them as needed.

It's been a rough couple of months, mentally, physically, and financially.  After an emotionally draining trip to the Philippines I promised myself that I would not cancel any of my planned trips for this year, even if it meant a big dent in my bank account.  One of those trips happened this past weekend, when I attended Ipsy's Generation Beauty in Los Angeles with one of my good buddies!

Generation Beauty is essentially a cosmetics convention with workshops, branded booths, and meet-ups with popular beauty bloggers and youtube personalities.  While I wear makeup and spend way too much money at Sephora and Ulta, I consider myself a novice when it comes to anything cosmetics related.  I figured this convention would be a learning experience.  Also - let's be brutally honest here - I wanted swag.  Who doesn't like free stuff, especially when it's makeup!

Here's a brief pictorial summary of my weekend:

Generation Beauty
Here's the event venue at L.A. Live!  While it looks empty here, there were actually several thousand people in attendance.

Generation Beauty
Not so cheap Los Angeles gas prices.  Makes my Bay Area gas look like a bargain!

Generation Beauty
Back to the convention!  Generation Beauty really promoted the use of social media.  This particular Proactiv vending machine dispensed a product if you tweeted certain hashtags.  Other companies had twitter contests, from which my friend won a Temptu airbrush machine worth over $200!

Generation Beauty
Cargo was one of my favorite booths.  The staff members were super nice and did a really thorough job in finding products that worked with my problem skin!  They also gave me tons of samples and a few full-sized products.  I'll be using this brand a lot now, since I used Cargo's Generation Beauty online 30% sale to buy most of their HD line!

Generation Beauty
Lush Cosmetics is one of my favorite places to get soap and hair care products.  Several days after posting this image on Instagram I received a message that I had won their #freshnewlush contest!  More reason to love Lush!  I'll share pictures once my prize arrives.

Generation Beauty
A cheesesteak sandwich because I was hungry after walking around all weekend.

Generation Beauty

Generation Beauty was a great way to get away, hang out with my friend, and try out new beauty and skin care products.  With all the swag I got, there's really no excuse for me not to put more effort into my daily makeup routine (which currently involves slapping SPF and powder on my face and running out the door).  Except maybe sleeping an extra 10 minutes every morning.

More posts to come!  Let's see how I do in keeping this blog updated.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stitch Fix Review #2

If you are unfamiliar with the Stitch Fix shopping service and want an overview, please go here first: Stitch Fix Review #1

After some success with my first Stitch Fix, I was really looking forward to my second.  After saving up some money and looking at multiple reviews on the internet, I finally placed my order.  This time, I requested the 41Hawthorn 3/4 Benson Blazer in dark grey or burgundy, the Yumi: Wilhinina Polka Dot Belted Skater Dress in blue and yellow, and dresses.

When my order arrived, I was sad to see that my two requested items were not included, with no explanation as to why.  However, I was pleased that Stitch Fix honored my request for multiple dresses.  Here's how my Fix turned out:

Item #1: Brentwood Tiered Striped Sheath Dress

stitch fix

I really had high hopes for this dress.  In the past, I had luck with bandage style dresses flattering my figure.  I also liked the non-symmetrical design of the dress, which masks my scoliosis.  Unfortunately, this particular dress made me look at least 15 pounds heavier.  I also did not like that the front pattern did not extend all the way around the back (see below).

stitch fix


Item #2: Yola Abstract Print Faux Wrap Dress
stitch fix

I also had high hopes for this dress since I'm a fan of wrap dresses.  Unfortunately, the top half of this dress was too baggy and the bottom half too long.  I also was not a fan of the print, which had a frumpy effect on me.


Item #3: 41Hawthorn Walt Striped Skirt ($68)

stitch fix

I normally don't wear horizontal stripes because they make me look wider.  However, I decided to give this skirt a chance.  The fit wasn't bad but, as is my problem with all pencil skirts, it started riding up after taking a few steps (see below).  Not worth the $68 price tag.

stitch fix
Skirt after a few steps
 Verdict:  RETURNED

Item #4: Harriet Aztec Print Fit and Flare Dress

stitch fix

Down to my last two items, I was hoping to find something to keep so I didn't lose my $20 styling fee.  Unfortunately, this dress just didn't work for me.  The top half is made of a stretchy polyester which seemed to accentuate my scoliosis and chest size.  The bottom half was way too long and full, making me look pregnant.

Verdict:  RETURNED

Item #5: Abigail Colorblock Lace Trim Top

stitch fix

I actually really liked the color of this last item.  Unfortunately, as a friend pointed out, the blouse was cut such that it looked really narrow up top and made my hips look bigger.  Not worth the $58 price tag.


After the luck I had with my first Stitch Fix, I was really disappointed that this one was such an utter failure.  I'll probably update my profile again and give Stitch Fix one more chance to see if things improve with my next Fix.  It's a promising service, but if the clothes don't work for my body I'm just going to lose $20 with each order.  For my next Fix, I'll ask them to dress me up for Generation Beauty, a fashion and cosmetics convention which takes place in June!  Wish me luck!

If you are interested in trying out Stitch Fix, feel free to use my referral link here:  https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3203420.  No, I am not affiliated with Stitch Fix in any way, shape, or form. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Stitch Fix Review #1

Seeing that part of this blog is about how I save/spend my money, I figured I should start posting reviews on the various shopping services I use.  Currently, I use Stitch Fix and Birchbox.  If anyone has recommendations for other awesome sites, let me know and I'll look into them!  For now, here's my Stitch Fix review!

About Stitch Fix
Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service based out of San Francisco.  The way it works is pretty simple:  Sign up, then complete an online profile with your clothing sizes and style preferences.  After paying a $20 non-refundable "styling fee", Stitch Fix will send you a box with 5 articles of clothing/accessories on a date you select.  You'll have three days to try everything out and ship back unwanted items in a prepaid envelope!

Stitch Fix is not cheap, with pieces of clothing starting at around $58.  You do get a 25% discount it you keep all 5 items, but that's still much higher than I'm used to paying for clothes.  However, I decided to give it a shot because I frequently have trouble finding clothes that fit me and wanted someone to pick out flattering, high quality clothes based on my measurements.  It also helped that a friend gave me a coupon that waived the $20 styling fee!

Stitch Fix Box #1
I actually ordered my first Stitch Fix back in October, but due to a backlog of orders had to pick a shipment date in early November.  In my profile, I requested no pants, accessories, or maxi dresses.  I also requested that the stylist focus on getting me work clothes and a cute dress to wear for the holidays.  After several weeks of anticipation I received my box a day early!  Here's what I got and my thoughts on each:

Item #1: 41Hawthorn Calafia Jersey Wrap Dress ($58)
stitch fix

41Hawthorn is a brand exclusive to Stitch Fix.  This particular dress is one I saw in numerous blog reviews and the main reason I finally decided to place an order.  While the jersey fabric is a little thin, I really liked the fit and the color of the dress.
Verdict: KEPT

Item #2: Kut From The Kloth Michael Faux Leather Jacket ($78)
stitch fix

I've never been into leather - faux or real - and never though I would ever own a leather jacket. A trip to New Orleans last October changed that, as I found a flattering brown faux leather jacket in a boutique shop that soon ended up in my souvenir stash.  I liked the quality of this black jacket and really wanted to keep it.  Sadly, it was too long and too narrow as I couldn't get it to close.  Fortunately, I ended up finding a great fitting black faux leather jacket at Forever 21 of all places.

Item #3: Kensie Vince Swiss Dot Cap Sleeve Dress
stitch fix

When I filled out my Stitch Fix profile, I wrote that I really liked polka dots.  Rather risky since own at least 5 polka dot sweaters and do not need another one.  Fortunately, they sent me this lovely black dress with a subtle Swiss dot pattern.  Loved the fabric, the length, and the fit.  The only problem was that the back zipper wasn't straight, but that's because I have scoliosis and so nothing ever fits me right.  Stitch Fix has helped me get pretty close, though.
Verdict: KEPT

stitch fix
My crooked back

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Close-up of the Swiss dot pattern (click)

Item #4: 41Hawthorn Mission 3/4 Sleeve V-Neck Blouse ($68)
Item #5: Lasome Pacific Chevron Print Skirt ($58)
stitch fix

Sadly, the last two items didn't work out for me.  While the blouse fit alright, I generally can't justify paying $68 for a top.  As for the skirt, it was way too long and went halfway down my calves.

Stitch Fix Pros
-You can conveniently try on clothes from the comfort of your own home.
-You receive clothing both customized to you tastes and outside your normal comfort zone so you can experiment with new styles.  I definitely would have bypassed the black faux leather jacket if I saw it in stores.
-The stylists actually take the time to read through your profile and accommodate requests.  If there's a specific Stitch Fix item you want then you simply ask for it, just like I did with the Hawthorn41 dress.
-You get a 25% discount if you keep all 5 items.
-Easy returns!  Just drop unwanted clothing in the provided pre-paid envelope and drop it in the mailbox within 3 days of receiving your Stitch Fix.

Stitch Fix Cons
-Stitch Fix is not cheap, and with some work you can probably find most of these clothes for much cheaper.
-The $20 styling fee is non-refundable if you decide to send everything back.

Overall, I was very pleased with my first Stitch Fix, despite only keeping two of the five items.  I especially enjoyed being able to try out clothes I would have skipped over at the mall.  However, the price is definitely a deterrent, so I will have to limit my future orders to several times a year.  After waiting several months, I finally ordered my second Stitch Fix which is scheduled to arrive in mid-March.  Can't wait!

If you are interested in trying out Stitch Fix, feel free to use my referral link here:  https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3203420.  No, I am not affiliated with Stitch Fix in any way, shape, or form.

Monday, February 10, 2014

What Social Workers Make

While browsing my facebook feed, I ran across an anecdote called "What Social Workers Make", a modified version of "What Teachers Make".  The gist of the story is this:  At a dinner party, a person goes into a rant about social services.  He then targets a social worker in the room and asks, "What do you make?"  The social worker's response is one I can only wish to replicate if ever asked the same question.

Social work is one of these most difficult and thankless professions out there.  It's also one that requires so much sacrifice, financially and time-wise.  With social work, there's no guarantee that you will work that standard 9-5 job, have time to spend with friends/family, and even have the money to pay the bills each month.  Most of us know this, yet choose to go into the field despite scorn from friends, family, and society.

Not all of us can handle the rigors of social work, and many of us do move on to greener pastures for emotional or financial reasons.  Whether we stay or leave, we all know that the time we have in the field is an honor.  What sets social work apart from other professions is our conscious decision to help individuals that society has cast aside as hopeless and worthless.  As someone once told me, it's a privilege to comfort people dealing with the worst of what life has to offer.

So the next time someone superfluously asks, "What do you make?", respond proudly with, "I make a difference."  Despite what other professions may claim, social workers are the biggest difference makers out there.  Enjoy the honor while you can.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Models of Social Work Practice in a Hospital

Social Work Practice in a HospitalIn my short career, I've been fortunate enough to work at various hospitals as a medical social worker.  Doing so has helped me hone my social work skills and learn about the various community resources in different locales.  Additionally, I've been able to see first-hand the true versatility of this profession, as demonstrated by how the social work role differs at each hospital.

I've practiced two main models of hospital social work practice: pure social work and social work/discharge planning.  In this post I will elaborate on these two practice models and discuss the pros and cons of each.

Pure Social Work
Pure social work focuses exclusively on the psychological and social barriers that affect a patient's well-being and hinder a safe discharge home.  Social workers practicing this model focus on completing comprehensive psychosocial assessments, providing brief counseling/crisis intervention services, assisting with end-of-life situations, finding shelters for homeless individuals, placing individuals who cannot return home for social reasons (i.e. no family support), and evaluating patient safety (i.e. abuse assessments, domestic violence intervention).

Social Work/Discharge Planning
This model takes pure social work and incorporates elements of discharge planning.  Social workers who practice this model take on the medical barriers that interfere with a safe discharge home.  Tasks include placing patients in skilled nursing homes, ordering durable medical equipment, arranging home health care, making transportation arrangements to other facilities, and addressing any other post-hospitalization needs (i.e. medication, follow-up appointments) in order to reduce the likelihood of patient readmission.

Pure Social Work Pros
-A slightly smaller caseload means more time to interact with patients, develop rapport, and go above and beyond to address their needs.  When I have the time to get to know my patients, I can better anticipate their future needs and provide resources/interventions as necessary.
 -Hospitals with a pure social work focus usually have a dedicated social work department headed by a social worker.
-I find myself having more autonomy on the job than when I'm at hospitals that use the social work/discharge planning model.
-The bulk of my time is spent practicing social work, which is what I went to school to do.

Social Work/Discharge Planning Pros
-Compared to pure social work, discharge planning requires a more expansive knowledge of insurance requirements and medicine/nursing.  I feel that this helps me better address patient needs and makes me a more effective clinician overall.
-I interact a lot more with other disciplines, such as nurse case managers, nurses, discharge planners, physical therapists, occupational therapists, etc.
-I get a sense of fulfillment and closure from coordinating patients' discharge plans from the moment of admission to discharge.

Pure Social Work Cons
-Social work cases are usually extremely emotionally draining.  Sometimes I like having the occasional straightforward home health or skilled nursing referral to get a mental break.
-Social work cases also tend to be the most complex, with no simple solutions.  There have been many instances where I've had absolutely no idea how to fix a patient's problems.  Anyone who has ever said that social work doesn't involve advanced problem solving skills has never worked a day in our shoes!
-With regard to the interdisciplinary team approach, I feel more like a consultant since I typically only get involved in more challenging situations.

Social Work/Discharge Planning Cons
-Social workers who function as discharge planners have job duties that overlap with nurse case managers. This often results in situations where staff members confuse us as nurse case managers and vice-versa.  Because of this confusion, social workers are often asked to do things outside their scope of practice, such as analyze test results, predict discharge date, and provide updates on medical status.  I've definitely felt stupid more than once for not knowing things that are basic to nurses/doctors.  Not my training!
-Having higher case loads mean less time spent with patients.  Patients who have discharge orders have first priority, meaning patients with mental health problems needing support sadly may not be seen.
-Case management departments tend to be focused more on metrics and the bottom line.  The goal of discharge planning is to discharge patients in a quick, safe manner and prevent readmission. This is not always compatible with social work practice.

Honestly, I am not sure which model of hospital social work practice I like the best.  I suppose this is part of the reason why I continue to split my time between various hospitals.

What do other medical social workers think of how social work is practiced in a hospital?  Comment away!