5 Lessons Learned in 2016


I’ve read AND heard a lot of chatter about 2016 these past couple of months.  Let’s face it; the latter half of 2016 was a bit of a shocker.  Lots of unexpected events for sure!  That said, I wouldn’t say that 2016 was all bad.  Personally, 2016 has proven to be…pretty awesome!

Each year, I find that I grow in ways never before imagined, and I also learn more about myself than ever before.  5 things I’ve learned about myself this year:

  1. If I put my mind to it, I will achieve it.  Career-wise, my goal for 2016 get 15 publications.  I managed 11.  Which is the same number I published last year.  This past week, I was immensely disappointed that I didn’t make my goal, but you know what?  I also managed to get a big grant funded, another that may get funded, and collaborated on a center grant and R01.  On top of that, I prepped for two courses in winter/spring of 2017, and spent three weeks in SF intensely training in implementation science.  Now that I put that all down in writing, I feel quite productive, actually!  Blog-wise, my goal for 2016 was to appear in a magazine.  A small mention in a magazine was my goal.  Well, I’m so excited to say I blew that one out of the water!  I cannot believe I managed to get on the cover of Redbook Magazine!!! The fact that it happened still boggles my mind.  FB_IMG_1471044495614
  2. I am strong of mind.  I’ve always sort of known that.  My willpower is pretty amazing. Sadly I’ve learned that this often means my strength of mind will sometimes result in a weakness of body and health.  This past week, I ended up in the ER with symptoms of stroke!!  I’d had headaches for two weeks (rare for someone who rarely gets headaches) and suddenly, the left side of my tongue was numb and tingly.  It was the scariest *ish I’ve experienced in a while. ūüė¶  Docs think the headaches were stress/anxiety induced.  Imagine that!  I didn’t even know I was stressed!!  I did know I was feeling a little overwhelmed, but didn’t realize the toll it was taking on my body.  For months, I was working 7 days a week, especially while writing grants, and even after while trying to catch up with manuscripts.  Sigh.  So, I’m taking this to heart and hoping I remember this episode as I progress into 2017 so that history does not repeat itself! quickmemo_2016-01-04-23-56-58-1.png.png
  3. My family means everything.  When you feel like you are on the verge of a major health event, things often come into perspective.  When I was at the ER I thought to myself, what if something bad is happening to me???  Are my finances in order?  Is my home organized?  Have I prepared the kids for life without a mom?  So many questions!!  It’s really made me appreciate the fact that I’ve prioritized my kids over my work and the blog.  Hubby will disagree, haha, as he always feels like he’s at the bottom of my totem pole, but I’ve also tried to prioritize him as well.  In my own, small ways.  As a result, we have enjoyed some very special moments this year, including a quick getaway to SF this past summer while I was there for work! He may think that he is at the bottom of my totem pole, but the bottom is the foundation – the stronghold – of the totem pole, and that he is.  He is my biggest fan, my biggest source of support, and ultimately my rock!  I love my family!13697280_10209960428432157_2833473835229620693_n.jpg
  4. Clutter stresses me out.  My life is SOOOOOOO crazy busy these days, that organization is an absolute must to get through hectic days efficiently.  I learned this lesson the hard way this year.  Holiday breaks are often a time for me to get organized, so I took advantage this week and called America’s Thrift Store to come pick up a huge load of stuff that was simply non-essential.  I also managed to sell some things to a local consignment store, but otherwise, I donated it all without looking back.  It actually feels really good!!  My goal for 2016 was to declutter, so it looks like so far so good!  I even managed to declutter the kids’ today and was also able to implement an organization system for their toys. At work, I think about categorizing data; at home, I think about categorizing toys, lol! 1229162046_hdr.jpg
  5. I NEED alone/down time.  Usually a few days, actually.  Every year, hubby takes the boys to visit his family out of state.  I usually take the first 2-3 days to completely decompress.  I see 0 people for several days.  I eat occasionally, nap a lot, and watch the TV shows I want to watch.  Not just PJ Masks and Disney movies because that’s what the boys want to watch, lol.  This year I didn’t get that week because we had our kitchen under construction.  Yes, I know our kitchen is under construction now, but that story is way too long to get into here.  So, just know that our kitchen was under construction and I got very little time to decompress.  So, I was exhausted when the fall semester began!  I didn’t get organized, my house was a mess, and therefore, so felt my life.  Although I haven’t necessarily gotten much alone time this holiday break (impossible with two VERY energetic boys under 7), I did get lots of down time and I feel like myself again!  I feel mostly prepared for 2017, and really that is all I can ask for given my circumstances. ūüôā  Here’s a great article about the importance of alone time, if you have some time to read it! Of course, sometimes, when given alone time, I often end up at the stores shopping….soooooo, maybe it’s a good thing I don’t get alone time TOO often, haha!20161203_172109.jpg

I haven’t come up with goals for 2017 yet.  I often come up with them the first week of the year, and often after having analyzed outcomes of 2016.  That is, what worked, what didn’t, what I haven’t tried, etc.  In preparation, I have pinned some graphics on Pinterest that I think will help.  Find them here, here, and here.  So with that, I leave you, friends! Last post of 2016, and geared up for some exciting content in 2017.  Hope you will come along for the ride!  Thanks for all your support thus far and for continuing to enable my sartorial and other adventures!!

I wish you all a Happy New Year and an amazingly productive, healthy, loving, successful 2017!!! xo

Until next time!  Stay ‘Chic’!

How I made an easy, extra $200 last month with ThredUp

Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that I am always on the lookout for ways to make extra money. ¬†ALWAYS. ¬†My hubby is also known for this…likely one of the things that makes us highly compatible!


Once upon a time, I was an avid eBay seller. ¬†One summer, I made $2000 just from items sitting around in my house! ¬†Two kids, one faculty position, and one side hustle as a fashion/lifestyle blogger later, I have found myself unable to dedicate the time needed to photograph, list, and ship items sold on eBay. ¬†As my bff put it, “Your time is worth a lot more these days. ¬†You need to focus on efficiency.” ¬†And, so I did.

Part of my path to efficiency involved de-cluttering my home.  Over thanksgiving break last year (2015), I began to de-clutter.  I finalized the de-cluttering process over Christmas/NYE break.  I emptied out all closets, made piles, and figured out what needed to be donated, sold, or thrown away.  I also enlisted the help of an amazing service that both sells and donates clothes for you!  ThredUp is the service I used and it has been an amazing way for me to get rid of stuff taking space in my home.

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I first tested the service back in August of 2015. ¬†I ordered a single bag. ¬†I filled it with clothing I definitely hadn’t worn. ¬†Honestly, I filled it with stuff I didn’t think would sell and that I was planning to take to the Salvation Army or similar donation location. ¬†To my shock and surprise, the bag actually yielded $16.35 cents! ¬†That’s a few days worth of my coffee splurges at Starbucks!! ¬†Score! ¬†So, I ordered four bags after that. ¬†They sat around for a few months until I got through all the items in my house, but eventually filled them and shipped them out.

ThredUp accepts clothing, handbags, shoes, and accessories. ¬†Women’s and children’s clothing only, but in our family, that’s half the clutter battle! ¬†So, after the New Year, I filled up all four bags with clothing, etc. and dropped them off at my local FedEx/Kinko’s location. ¬†Mind you, you can also schedule an at-home pick up. ¬†Sadly, the cats in our neighborhood tear up every plastic bag they come across, so I didn’t want to run the risk of having the bag torn apart before it even shipped. ¬†Darn neighborhood cats!

On January 26th, four of my bags were received. ¬†It takes them about two weeks to process, which includes taking inventory of your bag, photographing items they will sell, determining how much to pay you up front, and donating the rest. ¬†IF you don’t want to commit to donating items they won’t accept and want them to send them back, you can pay a small fee (~$13) to have them ship back the items they don’t take. ¬†This, in my opinion, prevents you from fully purging and de-cluttering, but if you feel that you simply cannot release complete control to ThredUp, then they will gladly acquiesce and send you your stuff back. ūüôā

Now, onto the money-making part. ¬†In full disclosure, before I sent items to ThredUP, I sold to two local consignment stores: Style Encore and Plato’s Closet. ¬†Both Style Encore and Plato’s give money on the spot, so I figured that was the best/quickest return on my investment. ¬†Anything they did not take, I immediately put into the ThredUp bags and off it went. ¬†Over the course of two weekends, I made $500 selling to Style Encore and Plato’s Closet. ¬†The four bags I sent to ThredUp have since been processed and I have been promised $204.85! ¬†In total, thus far, I have made $704.85 from stuff that has been sitting around in closets and other places in my house for years!! ¬†That, my friends, is how everyone should roll. ūüėČ

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Four bags, 12-23 items accepted per bag, average $37.64 payout per bag.  Not too shabby!

I currently have an additional 9 bags processing (potential to make at least another $300), and ordered an additional four, which I will use to send clothing the boy’s no longer fit into. ¬†All the while, the most effort I have put into this is sorting clothes, filling bags, and taking them to FedEx. ¬†They take care of the rest! ¬†I for one, fully endorse this efficiency. You should too.

One additional note: ¬†Any money you make goes through an embargo period, wherein you are free to use the money to shop on their site. ¬†This is approximately a 14 day period, after which, you can withdraw the money and deposit it in your bank account using Paypal. ¬†I am patiently waiting for my $204.85 to clear so it can sit happily in my bank account. ūüėÄ

If you should choose to buy, know that there are some pretty amazing things you can find, including hard to find items that have either been discontinued or can no longer be found on other sites like eBay or Poshmark. ¬†I found the red dress in the graphic below on ThredUp! ¬†Also, if you sign up using a referral link, you get a $20 credit just for joining. You can use mine if you’d like. ¬†I get $20 too, so we all win! ¬†Referral link, here: ThredUp.

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Photo in graphic by Mariana Pimiento.

The Working Mom’s Guide to a 20-minutes-or-Less Dinner

Let’s face it. ¬†If you are a working mom, you know that you have 20 minutes – though often less – to put food on the table before your ravenous kids start eating every snack at hand. ¬†Occasionally (emphasis on ‘occasionally’), I am well-organized and will have made a large meal on Sunday night to provide enough left overs for at least two other days of the week. ¬†This weekend was a busy one though, so I am not prepared for the week. ¬†I have, however, planned ahead and much like a squirrel readying for the winter, stored some goodies in the freezer for days when fresh, hot food is not available!

Pictured below are some of my freezer favorites:

Frozen Food, http://chicinacademia.com

Morey’s Marinated Wild Alaskan Salmon, ~$14

Purchased at Costco.  Comes with 6 filets.  Toss the number of filet packets that you plan to cook that evening in the fridge to thaw.  When you come home, cook for 20 minutes and prep sides while fish is cooking!  The kids, by the way, LOVE this salmon. I will often split one filet between the two boys, and my hubby and I will each eat one.

Trader Joe’s Organic Jasmine Rice, $3.49

There are three pouches per box.  1 pouch contains two cups of rice (enough for two kids and at least 1 adult). Cooks in 3 minutes!  Sticky, flavorful, white rice.  NOM!

Bird’s Eye Steam Fresh Frozen Vegetables, $1

This pouch contains enough veggies for two meals.  The package includes asparagus, gold and white corn, and baby carrots.  Kiddies will often pick out the asparagus and toss it to the side, but I rather like it in the mix, so I think it works for us all.

Total cost: $18.49

Total meals: 2

For less than $20, you get two meals for the week!  Plus, this meal is relatively healthy and the sodium content is also fairly low for all three items.  The items with the highest sodium content is the salmon filet, and even it only has 10% sodium!  Not too shabby!

As you can tell, I am missing a photo of the actual meal, but TRUST – it was good. ūüėČ


Let me know if you have any other suggestions for quick meals that are kid friendly in the comments section below. ¬†I’d love to hear them!

Until next time! ¬†Stay ‘Chic’!