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Dîner en Blanc

8/17/18


Still recovering from one of the most amazing events I have ever been invited to attend: Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia


To say the night was magical is an understatement. It was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. From the people to the food, wine, and decorations...a passersby put it best when he came up to me and said: "You all look like you just took stepped off the subway from Heaven."


If you have never heard of Dîner en Blanc, it's probably because it is one of the world's best kept secrets. An exclusive international pop-up dinner where the guests dress in all white, pulling out all the stops with their centerpieces and gourmet meals. No one knows where the location will be until right before it's supposed to take place. Prior Philadelphia event's were held on Broad Street and the Art Museum. This year was no disappointment: City Hall and Dilworth Park *heart eyes*


I have never seen the park light up as bright as it did that night and from every corner.


I was lucky to be part of the media group thanks to my friend Mimi (@whatsonmimismind // Mimi's blog). We got first notice of the secret location plus access to the behind the scenes of the entire event. We were treated to tons of live music, delicious hors d'oeuvres and a fantastic dinner sponsored by one of Center City's best pizza restaurants, Porta.



Just look at Porta's drool-worthy Margherita Pizza!


And their garden-fresh cucumber salad kept us energized throughout the evening.


Food (especially pizza) really does bring people together. I got to share all of Porta's wonderful entrees with tons of other Dîner en Blanc attendees including my new friend Kristin (@blondeonearth // Kristin's blog).




We checked out all the beautiful tables including tiered-tray displays and lots of twinkling lights. I even ran into friends from Barra Rossa, another fabulous Center City restaurant.


We turned City Hall into our very own catwalk, creating an accidental Sex and The City cover for the next movie installment (starring yours truly, Mimi, Kristin, and Cate from @catecolechic // Cate's blog).


The night ended with the stars falling from the sky and onto the city as we lit up the sparklers for a beautiful summer celebration.

Cannot wait to do it again next year!

Be Our Guest

8/2/18

From now on, I am only attending events with a guest list! So lucky to have been invited to the exclusive Seated dinner at Barra Rossa here in Philadelphia. If you have not heard of or downloaded the app Seated before, it is an amazing program that gives you rewards for dining out. Plus it helps you book reservations at the most popular restaurants. You can get $10 to $50 in credit each time you go out to eat for Amazon, Starbucks, Lyft, and more! Use my code "ALYSSA274" for an extra reward. Just click the link here: https://seated.app.link/dM8CAdQZYI



We were treated to a delicious Italian cuisine with appetizers for days along with salads, bruschetta, pizza (thin-crust = the best kind), mussels, mozzarella sticks,  and an endless supply of olives. I got to meet so many wonderful Philly foodies and of course, the Seated team. Shout out to my new Instagram family @bestbite, @whatsonmimismind, @happyhungryfoodie, @mackattackkss, @singerinkitchen, @bitetastic, and of course @seated_app).



It was a great way to bring friends together and family too! It turned out my cousin was at the same event representing @bestbite (follow them on Instagram if you aren't already). I am happy to take credit for introducing him to the Seated app as well :)



Everyone at Seated was so welcoming and what's more, excited to hear our feedback. Being the go-getter doctor I am, I wrote up an entire list of recommendations (call it my own "assessment and plan").  It turns out, they were already working on some of them too.

silver lining


If I haven't convinced you yet, let me tell you the best silver lining story. I went on a date with a guy who was as much a gastronome as me - he had been to almost every restaurant I had, enjoying the same meals. Meant to be, right? I sent him my Seated referral code and thought this could definitely turn into something...until I didn't hear from him. Needless to say, I'd been ghosted. About a week later, I got a notification from Seated that I received a reward from guess who - the same guy. Apparently he used my referral code for another date! Made the whole "ghosted" experience totally worth it.

Don't forget - use my code "ALYSSA274" for an extra reward. Click here: https://seated.app.link/dM8CAdQZYI

Travel Hacks (Millionaire Mob Guest Post)

7/17/18




A warm welcome to Millionaire Mob - my first guest post on the blog! I am thrilled to share these clutch travel hacks for any and all wanderlust adventurers like me. These photos are from their most recent trip to Paris where they vacationed on a budget of $40. Talk about travel envy! Read on to learn more and check out their website at millionairemob.com.


3 Ways to Start Travel Hacking Your Next Vacation

This is a guest post by Millionaire Mob, a blog focused on investing in dividend growth stocks, passive income ideas and travel hacking. We have helped thousands of people with bettering their financial future through our personal finance tips. Millionaire Mob quit investment banking to help people understand how to get Wall Street advice without the price tag. I look forward to learning and growing with you.

Travel hacking is a very lucrative proposition for traveling the world for little to no cost to you. I’ve been able to travel to France and book my flights to Japan for a mere $40 total! If you are like me, saving every extra dollar is important.

For every cost that I can obtain for free is another opportunity to invest and increase my income / net worth. That is why travel hacking was so appealing to me. I love to travel and explore the world, but I think it makes no sense to spend thousands of dollars to do so.


Let me highlight how you can use these 3 ways to travel hack your next vacation.

3 Steps to Travel Hack Your Next Vacation


1. Credit card churning

    • Credit card churning is the act of repeatedly opening and closing credit cards so that you can earn the sign-up bonuses over and over. If you’re able to do this with several cards it will allow you to build up many more rewards than using just one card. We’ve built a guide to help you understand the basics of credit card churning.
    • There are several credit cards out there that offer the best value proposition for signing up such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I am fortunate to have a high credit score and high income. This allows for me to get instantly approved for some of the most lucrative credit cards out there.
    • Try to apply for credit cards with the best upfront bonuses first.

2. Pair churning with credit card manufactured spending

    • Credit card manufactured spending can be summarized as a credit card technique where you spend money in ways that allow you to get the money back as cash.  I like to minimize my amount of cost to obtain the rewards as much as possible. For example, for a data point, I just liquidated a Vanilla One gift card purchased at Walgreen’s for the Chase Freedom 5% cash back category.
    • I went to my local grocery store and liquidated the gift card by purchasing a money order with the gift card. The local grocery store uses MoneyGram services for money orders. The cost was $0.79 to purchase the money order and the fee for purchasing the gift card was $5.95. For $500 of manufactured spending, I was able to generate $25 in cash back rewards for a fee of $6.74 in total. I am fine with that. Time to go do it again!
    • We consider manufactured spending an opportunity to build significant rewards points and hit our minimum spending requirement to achieve the bonus category quicker.

3. Use online resources

    • Surprise, it’s 2018! There is so much data available and online tools that are completely free that can help you start travel hacking. I use a number of different online resources to find the best rewards points. In order to achieve points #1 and #2 above, you must elect in every rewards program possible to ensure you are maximizing travel benefits from there I have my most important flight screeners set up on:
      • Google Flights
      • Scotts’ Cheap Flights (they alert you for outstanding travel deals)
      • SkyScanner
    • After that I ensure that I can book my award travel with the most optimal amount of points on a per dollar basis. This is a calculation called cents per point. You take the cost divided by the points. For example, if my flight would cost $2,000 if I wanted to purchase it for cash or I could redeem it for 100,000 points. Then the calculation for cents per point would be 2.0x. Anything above a 1.5x redemption is a great deal. 
    • Here are some outstanding ways to find the best award travel:
      • AwardMapper
      • AwardWallet
      • Reddit for AwardTravel
By using these three steps above I was able to book a trip to France and Japan for little to no cost to me. In addition, I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. This was a fantastic way to unwind for a week and enjoy the sandy beaches of Southern California.

What are some of your favorite ways to find amazing travel opportunities? Do you travel hack? Let us know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.




Author BioMillionaire Mob is where people come together to find the best travel deals and financial advice. We specialize in dividend growth investing, passive income and travel hacking. Our advice has helped thousands of people travel the world and achieve financial freedom.  Millionaire Mob hopes to provide the best advice to help you learn and grow along the way. Let’s achieve financial freedom together. Follow us on InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook for all the latest updates.

One Minute Omelette

6/25/18



Back from a mini-blog hiatus after a busy few months on the inpatient side of my hospital's comprehensive acute rehabilitation unit. I'm here to share a trick I learned to keep up with the fast-paced life of a resident physician. Working a mix of 12 and 28 hour shifts can be exhausting not just mentally but also physically. Luckily, we have an on-call room to catch some shut eye during down time. In addition, we have a fun furry co-worker who helps keep us sane when Epic (our electronic medical record) refuses to cooperate.

Meet our therapy dog - he brings a pawesome attitude wherever he goes!

That being said, since I am often on the go, I need something quick to keep me full throughout the day. Between rounding, doing discharges, preparing admissions, writing progress notes, answering pages, and addressing patient needs, it's a challenge to find time to eat. Instead of grabbing a crinkly-wrapped granola bar filled with added sugar and processed grains, I found a meal that would keep my energy up and prevent those "hangry" attacks.



Omelettes were my first thought because they are my go-to weekend breakfast. Packed with protein and curated to feed whatever I'm craving for the morning, they're the perfect blend of wholesome and delicious. While they keep me full, I could not ignore the time it took to make them just right. I knew there were lots of quick tips for microwaveable meals and a simple Google search led me to the One Minute Omelette.
I soon became "avidinly" addicted (hehe that's a silly medical pun).  This simple recipe is nutritious, inexpensive, and fast. You can add or subtract whatever ingredients you wish. I think Antoni Porowski would definitely approve.



One Minute Omelette

Ingredients:
  • 1-2 chives
  • 1 to 2 eggs (microwave for one minute per egg)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 slice of ham or turkey
  • 1/4 tomato
  • Salt/pepper
  • Sriracha (optional)
  • Oil (to grease the mug)


Steps:
  1. Grease the mug with oil so the eggs don't stick
  2. Add egg(s) to the mug and whisk thoroughly
  3. Chop the chive(s), ham or turkey, and tomato
  4. Mix all the ingredients in with the egg and stir
  5. Microwave for one minute per egg (two minutes if two eggs)
  6. Top with sriracha and enjoy!
Inspiration from: Microwave Eggs

You can always prepare this in a Tupperware container if you're like me and want to take it to go. I love this recipe even more because of the hassle-free clean-up. That means more time enjoying the to enjoy the summer sun!



Winter in Iceland

3/25/18




Finally able to reminisce about our adventure in Iceland. What a wonderful experience! So many people have asked me first, why Iceland and second, why now? My best friend and I LOVE to travel. We both have been longing to see the Northern Lights and the best time to go is in the winter. With my Chase Sapphire card points, I was able to get us roundtrip tickets on Icelandair for $250 each. The tickets were cheaper because it's a lower tourist season.


Side note - the Chase Sapphire Preferred is literally the best credit card ever. Highly recommend it if you have a lot of upcoming travel plans (i.e. applying for residency and have interviews lined up all over the country). This credit card will practically pay for itself in the end. My biggest regret in medical school is not getting it during my fourth year interviews. You can apply here and earn 50,000 bonus points: https://www.referyourchasecard.com/6/U9SL5W42G2



So our initial flight was canceled, which was actually fantastic because otherwise we would have missed several opportunities including the Northern Lights boat trip and the South Coast route.

We booked all our tours on our own before arriving so that we had a pretty full schedule. We decided to go for about 7 days (2 days for travel and the rest for touring the country). It was the perfect amount of time although I'd love to return in the summer for a couple days.

Here's our itinerary - everything was shifted though due to the flight cancellation so unfortunately we missed the Golden Coast tour - just another excuse to go back ;):


We stayed at 22 Hill Hotel for the majority - I liked that it included breakfast each morning, which helped cut down on costs, but it wasn't my favorite place to stay. The rooms were pretty cramped. Our last night we stayed at Storm Hotel, which we both loved. It also included breakfast and was overall a prime location when it came to exploring downtown and transportation pickup.

And now to breakdown our trip -

Day 1: Despite the hiccup of a trip delay, we made it and jumped right into our glacier hike. Good thing we're both doctors, trained to run on adrenaline. Equipped with cramp-ons, pick-axes, and harnesses, we spent almost 3 hours traversing the fissures of Iceland's glaciers. We learned about how much climate change has melted the area as well.



We got soaked by the Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls but quickly warmed up with a delicious Icelandic feast. Finally, despite every geothermal measurement arguing against the possibility, we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the Northern Lights.


Day 2: We relaxed at the Blue Lagoon with silica mud masks and strawberry prosecco, spelunking in ice caves and enjoying delicious meals from the top of the Perlan dome. It was the best Galentine's day celebration <3

Day 3: Could not have asked for better weather as we rode through the picturesque countryside atop the majestic Icelandic horses (not ponies). It was our first time experiencing the unique tölt gait these animals are known and revered for around the world.

Day 4: All our tours were shifted around so we did the South Coast tour on this day, traveling to the Solheimajokull glacier and Black Sand Beach with its basalt rocks. We visited the town of Vik and got to see the Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls again. Fun fact - several of these locations can be found in film scenes from Star Wars, Interstellar, Game of thrones, and Captain America just to name a few.

Our boat tour was rescheduled for Day 4 and I am so thankful it was! All the stars aligned (literally the solar flares lined up with a clear night sky and we were surrounded by complete darkness).

On our last night I became an amateur photographer armed with my Sony Alpha 55, lots of luck and the incredible Aurora Borealis.



Day 5: Our final day was spent exploring Reykjavik's most famous landmarks. These included the Harpa concert hall with its distinct glass windows, the skeletal looking Sun Voyager ship, the austere Hallgrimskirkja church, and, of course, the delicious Braud & Co cinnamon rolls. If only I could share smells with you virtually too.


I also discovered the amazingly warm Icewear brand:




Check them out on Amazon!

So if you're filled with wanderlust like us and looking for a fun, low cost adventure, definitely consider Iceland in the winter :)

(This post contains affiliate links)

How I Lost 5lbs in 2 weeks

1/28/18

Stay active by going to the gym or walking your (or in my case, a friend's) dog.
Follow this cutie @centercitypup on Instagram!

I can't believe it's already the end of January, especially with the 60 degree weather we've been having here in Philly. In addition to budgeting, my other New Year's resolution was, like many people, to lose weight. I never experienced the "Freshman 15" in college, competing in pageants kept me in shape throughout medical school, and PIIT28 plus the 28 Day Reset helped me tone up during intern year (read more about PIIT 28 here). However, moving to the city has led to lots of fun brunches with friends, eating our way through restaurant week, and munching on late night snacks from the hospital cafeteria. Despite meal prepping, it can be difficult to keep up with the appetite you build running around answering pages and admitting patients. That busy work can easily lead to unnecessary snacking. While I am at a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index), I still had room to safely shed some weight. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be just with making some simple food changes.

Before reading on, I would recommend everyone check their BMI to see if you even have room to lose weight: Click here to check your BMI on the NIH website
 

Step 1. Get a partner


Working toward a goal can be both empowering and also un-motivating depending on where you are in reaching it. My first step was to find someone else with a similar New Year's Resolution who could encourage me, congratulate me and inspire me to keep moving forward. It could be a family member, a friend, someone in your gym or exercise class, even a colleague from work. This is a relationship that goes both ways - you are also there to support them and help them achieve their goals.

Step 2. Make a trade

I learned some easy tricks for snacking to help satiate my need for that "crunch" while still getting healthy nutrients. My favorite is eating sugar snap peas instead of chips. They're easy to snack on and they're nutritious.

In terms of substitutions, cauliflower is a great replacement for potatoes or rice. You can even make pizza with it! And for pasta lovers, have you ever heard of the Shirataki noodles? Also known as Miracle Noodles, they're just like real pasta but made with soy-beans and yam flour (minus the carbs and calories).


                      

You can pick up them up at Whole Foods (or order on Amazon - Miracle Noodle Zero Carb, Gluten Free Shirataki Pasta, Angel Hair, 7-Ounce and Tofu Shirataki Noodles Spaghetti Shape 10- 8oz Bags). I made pad thai the other day and couldn't tell the difference. I honestly can't believe I've never heard of them before. Have you?!


Veggie Pad Thai with Shirataki Noodles: 0 carb and < 20 calories per serving





Another new trick I picked up was at an Athleta nutrition class with OnPoint Nutrition this weekend: Cook with vegetable broth instead of vegetable oil. It helps cut down on fat, doesn't burn your pan, and gives you even more nutrients.

My biggest change in eating habits was allowing myself to consume unlimited vegetables, fruits, non-fat greek yogurt, eggs, poultry, seafood, and turkey. I found myself making better and fresher choices every day. This doesn't mean you have to eat salad every day. It just means to choose wisely and really look at the ingredients. I also cut back on alcohol, having only one glass of Prosecco in two weeks.


OnPoint nutrition bars are filled with one of the best weight-loss ingredients to reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer: Fiber

Look for snacks filled with fiber to help get you through your day!



Step 3. Keep a record

I started to keep track of everything I ate. I loved the 28 Day Reset because the meal planning was all laid out for me before. Now, I'm trying to figure out less of a diet and more of healthy eating habits. Even if you lose the pounds, you have to maintain the lifestyle to stay on track. There are tons of free apps for your phone that can help you keep track of how much protein, fiber, sugar, carbs, calories, etc you're consuming. My favorites are MyPlate and MyFitnessPal.

Another great app for goal setting and helping you conquer your food cravings is Cravemate: 


Click here to learn more and download Cravemate now on the app store!

Step 4. Divide and conquer


When you're going out to eat, as long as the portions allow, try to divide it so you eat half for your meal and save the other half for the next day. Not only are you cutting your calories, you're also saving money by making two meals out of one!

Pro-tip: bring a Tupperware container with you and to help reduce, reuse, and recycle instead of wasting the disposable plastic containers restaurants provide.



Step 5. Spice it up


The best spices to give your meals (especially those veggie stir-fries) that WOW factor- cumin, chili pepper, onion powder, garlic, salt, pepper, and the best of all, nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast offers the "cheese" flavor, similar to parmesan but without the extra calories. You can sprinkle it on anything, even popcorn.


               

And lastly, the easiest way to lose weight? Get a haircut!

I was able to do this and lose 5 lbs in 2 weeks - I even went down a size at Lululemon! You don't have to follow my footsteps and make all of these changes at once. Do what's right for you and your body.

How do you know which residency program is right for you?

1/21/18


With the upcoming deadline for the official Residency Match list rankings approaching, I figured this would be helpful for anyone who still has lingering doubts about which residency program is right for them. These tips could actually be applied to any new job or school you're considering even if you're not in the medical field.




Here are the key areas to consider when deciding on rankings:

Location 


Is it in a place you could see yourself living? Is the lifestyle similar to your own or something you could adapt to? Do you have a social network there or family nearby? Do you want a new place to start fresh or would you feel more comfortable being around familiar people and places? Are you a city person or more rural/suburban? Does the area offer a patient population you feel you could thrive in as a doctor? Is there commuting involved and if so how far, how many sites, how many rotations do you have to commute to? Is there public transportation or do you need a car? These are all questions to consider just based on where the program is, which can help you narrow down your top three fairly easily.

Size


How big is the program? Are you looking for a small program, medium-sized, or large program? When I interviewed there were sites that had two residents and some that had upwards of 15 residents. Of course the size can also be a reflection of the medical specialty you're pursuing (internal medicine programs often have the most residents in their program).




I chose a medium-sized program because I wanted to be able to get to know everyone but also not get lost in the crowd. I was also worried in a program of only two people, what if I didn't get along with the other person? I'd be stuck working with them for three years.

Future



What do the residents do after they've graduated? How many go on to pursue a fellowship vs go into general practice? When I interviewed at Stanford, the most helpful tip they gave me was to look for programs where half the residents go into fellowship and half go into general practice. That means the program is strong enough that graduates feel they have enough experience and knowledge they can easily practice as an attending and the program is well-known and supportive enough that if you wanted to pursue a fellowship, the opportunity exists.

Fit

Could you see yourself working there? Did you get along with everyone, not just the residents but the attendings too? Try not to base this off of one interaction but looking at the whole picture. It's true, when people say "you just know what program is right for you," there really is a "fit" or a "feeling" that you get. Did you rotate there for a sub-internship and if so how did you feel after? After rotating at my current program as a medical student I attended a medical conference a month later. I had been auditioning at a completely different site during that time. I remember walking in to the auditorium for the opening plenary session and without even thinking twice, I chose to sit with the residents from my first sub-internship. They were so welcoming and made me feel like I was already part of their program.

Best of luck! And congratulations on starting a new chapter of your life.

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