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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Baking Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

The other day I made muffins and filmed it! Don't only watch for baking goodness, but also watch for my random singing and comments on life.

Baking Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin Recipe

Changes I made - King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour instead of spelt flour, and melted Earth Balance organic non-dairy butter for coconut oil and applesauce. HOWEVER, if I had coconut oil and/or applesauce, I would have gone with those.


preppy simple outfit | Kate the (Almost) Great

Original outfit involves a skirt from J. Crew from 2011 and a shirt from Ann Taylor Loft from who knows how long ago. If you want to replicate it and don't have similar items, this is what I would go with:


coral lipstick look

I use so many primers because I've accumulated some over time and they serve different purposes, but also because I got one or two from trial services.

When it comes to mascara, I use the Covergirl Bombshell Mascara first, but I just use the lengthening side. Then I use the Maybelline Volum'Express Rocket Mascara, which is the best mascara I've ever used.

Simple Naked 2 Eye Look Kate the (Almost) Great

Coral lipstick MAKE UP FOR EVER Kate the (Almost) Great

I received this from Sephora as a part of an event at CambridgeSide Galleria this weekend. I'll have a full description of that event tomorrow. But I love this beautiful coral color!

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Project Kate Update

I'm back with another update on how I'm doing on Project Kate! Featured in this post if you want to skip some parts: surgery, infusion, yoga, grad school, tutoring, working, and a hint at what's coming later this week.

Physical Health

My pain has still been very high all around, but overall I finally have some progress on this front. If you haven't already heard, I'm having surgery on November 13. I saw a new sports medicine doctor last week and he says that it should be a straightforward surgery to fix my cartilage.

I've also been increasing my daily yoga practice and walking. My parents have been in Italy the past week and a half, and so the daily care for the dogs has fallen to me. We have a dog walker come normally twice a week, but someone has been coming once a day every day since they've been gone, which is great because it means that I just have to walk them first thing in the morning, around dinner, and before bed. Each of those walks is (for me) 30 minutes or less. The dog walker takes them out for much longer, which really helps me because it means that I can do those shorter times. This is still an increase in the amount of walking I've been doing, and my body has risen to the challenge, but there have been a couple of signs that this is the maximum amount of walking I can really do night now. I'm hoping that I can keep walking a fair amount once I don't have to walk this much every day. We shall see!

I have changed my next infusion date and pushed it back a week to the 28th. I wasn't going to, but it was scheduled the Monday before I take the GRE subject test, and that test is too important to hope that I will feel better enough 5 days later.

Mental Health

Wow, it's amazing how much your mental health improves when you have a long-awaited surgery announced, right? Seriously, that has done wonders for me. My pain has been really high, but it's so much easier to know that it will hopefully start moving in a positive direction in just a few short months.

But that's not the only thing that has changed. Like I said, I have increased the length of my daily yoga practice. This has helped my mental health because I am forcing myself to clear my mind. Plus, you know, meditation at the end. It does great things for mental health!

Graduate School

So I'm taking the GRE on November 6 and the GRE literature test on October 25. My first application is due on December 15, and since I'm now having surgery November 13, I need to really crack down on my applications. I'm aiming to get all of them in by December 15 (the rest aren't due until January 15) because I want to just enjoy the holidays with minimal stress, but we shall see. It will really depend on how recovery from surgery goes. Like I've said in the past, I don't want to publicize where I'm applying to yet. But I am applying to get my masters in English literature.

Work Plans

Now that I'm having surgery and know that my knee will be so much better in the near future, I'm starting to seriously look into working part time in the new year. Right now, I'm offering my editing and freelance writing services. I'm currently working on a project with a friend of mine who is getting her Etsy shop up and running by writing up the blurbs for her items, and I've done some editing projects, as well.

*Shameless plug - if you are redoing your blog pages, setting up an Etsy shop, working on a huge paper for school, or anything in between and want me to edit it, let's work together! I was a high school English teacher, I'm an author, and I majored in secondary education and English at Vanderbilt. I charge $5 per 200 words or $15 for 3 blog pages/posts (less than 1000 words). Just email me if you're interested!*

Also, I have been tutoring! Once a week, I am volunteering at a Catholic high school, and I'm working one-on-one with a student on grammar. It has been great to be teaching again, even if it's just for 45 minutes once a week.

Other Plans

Things I have been good at: eating healthy, regular yoga, taking all medications. And something I have been better at, if not great: getting out of my shell more. I went to a great blogger event this weekend at CambridgeSide Galleria, and I'm so glad I did because it was a lot of fun and I got to meet so many awesome people. I will have a full discussion of that, including some of the great fashion looks we got to preview, on Thursday.

Hope your week has been off to a great start!

Monday, September 29, 2014

September Favorites

This post was originally going up late last week, but then my immune system decided to be rude, so here we are. ANYWAY. Time to talk about some of my favorite things from this month!

September Favorites Kate the (Almost) Great


One Direction, Fireproof - I've always been a fan of boy bands, and One Direction is no different. And I love this new single!

Ed Sheeran, X - I know it came out a while ago, but I've loving it this month!


I have been so bad at reading this month. I'm still working through An Echo in the Bone!

Websites on clean eating - I'm looking into clean eating to help my body deal with its annoying immune system (#thanksRA). Anyone have tips or suggestions? I'd love to hear!

GRE Prep book - I'm making it through! Slowly but surely. Just about a month until the literature test and 2 weeks beyond that until I take the actual test. I'm using The Official Guide to the GRE Revised General Test, 2nd Edition

Near and Far Montana - Jenn has been doing this awesome series called I Believe. So far she has talked about respect and community, and they've both been great posts. 

ChemGradBoom - Caitlyn wrote a few posts about her teaching experiences as a grad student, which I can totally relate to. 

The Unreal Life - Autumn is hysterical and clever. In her own words, "I like to blog about: how to stop dating assholes, use appropriate office lingo, say no to strangers and other awkward, unreal things." Just go. You can thank me later.

The Mountain Rambles - Sarah is going through an experimental surgery soon, so be sure to wish her luck!

The Blog Guide - If you haven't heard already, The Blog Guide "is a collective knowledge of all things blogging from top bloggers across all of your favorite niches. We want to help you hone in on your perfect blogging personality, design your layout and image, start making money, and all of the little steps in between." I'm actually a contributor! I write about blogging and career, and there are articles about SEO, photography, HTLM, design, legal, and more.

Wearing (Clothes & Jewelry)

Simple and delicate jewelry like this

Delicate jewelry

J. Crew Pixie Pants (I'm wearing them in that picture!) Pants that feel like leggings: a sleek and professional look while a whole lot of comfort.

ALSO - I have a post coming up this week which will feature some of the fall fashion trends I got to see over the weekend. So stay tuned for that!

Wearing (Makeup) 

Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer - This is incredible! It works so well.

"Homemade" Tinted Moisturizer - Recently, I haven't been so crazy about the thickness of plain foundation. I don't know if it's that I have more freckles now and I don't like covering them up or what, but I've been mixing my foundation with moisturizer. This allows me to change the ratio of foundation to moisturizer based on what I want that day, which I really like. I use Revlon Photo Ready foundation and Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture Sensitive Skin Ultra-Gentle Facial Moisturizer.


Big Brother 16 - Who was shocked that Derrick won? No one? Okay, cool. Seriously, though, a winner who never ever got nominated and a member of the final 3 who never won a competition. 

Outlander - The show based on one of my all-time favorite book series just had its midseason finale and now I have to wait until April. I'm not okay. If you've never read the book go read the first one now, it's about an English WWII nurse who accidentally goes back in time to 18th century Scotland. Historical fiction with elements of fantasy and romance and action, it's really and truly incredible. And the show has been labeled the feminist answer to Game of Thrones, so that's pretty awesome, too.

Doctor Who - I'm so glad it's back! And I think I love Capaldi.

One Tree Hill - I'm literally years late to the game, but I've started watching it and I'm hooked. I can't believe I've never seen it!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Scope and Clean

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my multiple excited tweets yesterday about a special event that is soon to come: my long-awaited knee surgery.

Charles Dickens inspirational quote about strength

Yup, that's right - on November 13, I will finally have knee surgery for the damage from knee arthritis! This has been 3.5 years in the making.

Over the past 3.5 years, I have dislocated my knee and subluxated it (it moves around but doesn't come out of the groove of the joint), spent more time in physical therapy than out, had a cortisone injection, and worn my knee brace more than I haven't. It has been a rough journey (to say the least) with so many tears and it was ultimately the reason why I had to quit my job.

My new surgeon says that I have what's called a chondral flap. The cartilage under my kneecap has come away from the actual knee, acting like a door hinge, which it isn't supposed to do. He showed me this on the x-ray and on the knee model, and explained that this is what caused the popping feeling (which happened when I dislocated it back at the beginning of August).

The surgery that I will have is called an anthroscopy. He'll make 3 small incisions and insert a camera to see everything, take pictures (which is AWESOME seeing how I'll probably have knee issues off and on over the rest of my life - or at least until it's damaged enough to get replaced - so I like having excellent records), and repair the damage.

JFK inspirational quote about strength

I am over the moon about this. First of all, I was beginning to doubt that I would be able to have surgery by January. Having it in just a month and a half is wonderful news to me. It's also so great because now I have plenty of time to recover from surgery and get my arthritis under control before I (hopefully) go to graduate school next fall. I may even be able to do more work and/or get a part-time job and work outside of my house! (I'm practically giddy at the thought of that haha.)

So now I just need to take the GRE lit subject test, the GRE general test, get my stuff in order for surgery, and by Thanksgiving my knee will be cleaned out. And I'm PUMPED.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Five Unexpected Things I Learned As a Medical School Wife

Hi Kate the Almost Great readers! I’m Olya, and I blog over at The Siberian American. My husband is currently in his last year of medical school. When he first started medical school, I had no idea what to expect. It was fun being a total newbie to the medical field and starting this adventure with him.

There is nothing better than watching your significant other work towards his passion. The past three years have been rewarding, crazy, sleepless, interesting, exciting, and, sometimes, just plain hard. 

Today, I wanted to share the five unexpected things I have learned as a medical school wife.


People ask me about their health problems: 

I knew people would come up to Chris and ask him medical questions, but I had no idea that people would ask me for advice. I am an editor. Unless it is a health problem that Chris and I happened to have discussed, I can’t help. Shocking, I know.


My husband’s computer is off-limits:  

This is for my sake rather than his. Recently, Chris and I were sitting next to each other on the couch so I looked over to see what he was doing. Oh, you know, just watching an open-heart surgery on YouTube. Fantastic for him, disgusting for me. Lesson learned: never look at his screen without asking first.


People often think we’re super rich: 

Honestly, I can’t even begin to describe how crazy this makes me. I hear it all the time. “You are so lucky your husband is a doctor. He must make a lot.” Or someone will joke “Wow, did you marry your husband for his money?” My husband is a medical student, and after that he will be a resident. He is still a long way from making a doctor’s salary, and even then, it's a weird conversation starter.


Residency match is complicated: 

I assumed residency programs are like colleges, where you apply, get accepted, and then get to pick the program you want. Silly me. The match is much more complicated than that. I’m not going to get into the whole process right now, but residency match is nothing like I thought it was going to be. First, Chris has to do an intern year before he starts a residency in his specialty so we might have to move twice. (What?!)


The schedule constantly changes: 

I knew Chris would have a crazy schedule, but I thought it would be consistent. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sometimes he’s at the hospital for 48 hours, and other days it feels like he has a normal 8-5 job. One day he’ll wake me up at 2 a.m. (coming home or leaving, it depends) and the next day he might get up at 6 a.m. The hard part is that you can’t get used to a schedule when there isn’t one.  

So far I’ve learned that med school wife = crazy life, but it’s an adventure that I wouldn’t trade, and I am eagerly looking forward to the next step in the journey. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blog Binder Organization

When I first started blogging, I posted whenever I wanted to and about whatever was on my mind at the time. That worked for the first couple of months, but then I (permanently) moved to Nashville and started working, and I knew that if I was going to keep blogging regularly then I would need to be a bit more organized.

It took me a little while to get a system that worked for me to plan blog content. Here is what I finally settled on.

Plan Blog Content Kate the (Almost) Great

Blog Binder

I like the binder approach because it has all my information in one place. Easy to keep everything together, especially because I usually need to flip through different sections.

Month Plan - Editorial Calendar

I make a general plan a month in advance. If I know that I'm going to be going somewhere or doing something special, then I plan around that. After that, I add different topics to the days. What I mean by that is I assign a topic to the days I'm going to post, but don't usually identify the specifics of that post until the week before. This way I can make sure that I'm not posting a lot of about the same topic in a row.

Week Plan

I plan specific post 2 weeks ahead of time. This lets me know what I need to prepare, such as taking photos or editing images. Once I have a week or tow planned out, I start drafts on Blogger with the potential title of the posts. I'll jot down a few notes in the draft about what I want to include and anything I need to put in. 

Other Sections

My binder has multiple sections. I keep tracks of who I sponsor as well as who sponsors me, so that I can make sure that I'm doing everything I need to. I also keep track of analytics, which is especially helpful to compare statistics changes and to have handy. I have a couple pages of notes, too. They're generally about blog tips, ideas for posts, or things to try out.

So this is how I do it. How do you keep your blogging organized?

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Day In The Life

A question I get a lot right now is, "So, what are you up to?" What these people (family, friends, curious people I meet randomly, people making small talk, basically everyone) are really asking is, "So, since you're not working, what is that you do all day?"

What I Do All Day - Kate the (Almost) Great

Sometime between 7:00 and 7:30 - Wake up, check phone, snuggle cat, make my way out of bed.

Until 9:00 - 2 cups of coffee, smoothie, Pinterest, reading blogs, commenting on blogs, etc. while watching the news

9:00 - First stages of getting ready for the day, yoga, meditation, take Piper (our King Charles cavalier spaniel) for a walk

Starting sometime between 9:30 and 10:00 - Study for the GRE. 5-6 days a week, I study for either the general GRE or the GRE subject test in literature. I alternate which test I study for and what part of the test I study. This is my September schedule:

GRE study calendar

So on Monday, I studied poetry. Tuesday it was arithmetic (is it embarrassing that I struggled with that?), Wednesday was literary history, Thursday was algebra (I was much better at that), and today it's literary criticism. I spend at least 2 hours every day studying.

Sometime by 12:30 - Lunch

Afternoon - Finish getting ready (aka finishing my outfit and makeup) and then work. What this entails is different every day. It can mean what feels like a million emails, or writing posts and making images and scheduling promotions. Other days, it's editing (have anything you need to be edited - college paper, college admissions essay, short biography, whatever?). Some days it's writing. Sometimes it's working on my writing website relaunch. Usually, it's a combination of all of the above.

The afternoon is also when I tend to have different things scheduled. I'm volunteering at least one afternoon a week and I have different kinds of appointments. 3 afternoons this week, I had different appointments or commitments that took 2-4 hours.

I work right up to dinner every afternoon.

Sometime between 6:00 and 8:00 - Dinner

After dinner - Finishing any work that needs to be done that night and can't wait until the next day. This is usually when I do video editing or any other fun and creative (or last-minute) things. Writing my to-do list for the next day. Watching TV or Netflix and plenty of social media.

10:00 - Get ready for bed, which includes bed-time yoga and meditation. I'm in bed (and hopefully asleep) by 11!

Hope that this explains a little more what I'm up to. I know sometimes I tweet or post things about being busy and working a lot, and I'm sure that some of you are just like, "Really? Aren't you not doing anything right now?" While I'm not working a full-time (or even really part-time) job, I'm still doing stuff.

Two more things! 

One - Don't forget to enter the giveaway to win $20 to Target! $20 may not be a whole lot, but we all know the experience of going in for a couple things and coming out with an extra $20 or more in the cart than we planned to spend. 

Two - I also want to introduce you to the awesome Caitlyn of ChemGradBoom


Hey there! My name is Caitlyn and I'm the girl behind ChemGradBoom. I am currently working on my masters and am planning my next adventure over to Scotland! While in Scotland I will be working on my PhD but most importantly I will be hanging out in castles, traveling, and visiting all 30 breweries there! So even if you're not a college student I blog about it all: traveling, embarrassing moments in life, everything nerdy and life of a 24 year old who doesn't know what's next in life!

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