Hard-Boiled Eggs (with Cinnamon)

How to make hard-boiled eggs:

  1. Put water in pan
  2. Place eggs in water
  3. Wait for water to boil
  4. Turn off heat
  5. Wait for water to cool
  6. Peel shell off eggs

As you can see, making hard-boilied eggs involves a lot of waiting. That’s basically all I did this week.

  1. Sit at computer
  2. Wait for ideas to come to mind
  3. Wait until you get into “the zone”
  4. Write in “the zone”
  5. Leave to make some tea
  6. Repeat steps 1-4. Step 5 can also be replaced with going to bathroom or going into lab for something small to do…anything to do except write.

So yeah, that’s all I did. I’ve been writing my grant. It surprises me how slow it’s been going. I think it’s because I’m citing as I’m writing, but at least I have EndNote to help with it. EndNote is fabulous.

Other than that, I’m 95% ready for EB conference.

Registration done √ Hotel booked √ Flight booked √ Poster printed √ Cat sitter situated and trained √ Bought tiny travel sized toiletries √ Packed ×

I even planned out a couple of my days at the conference. Excuse me while I nerd out for a second, but there’s an entire poster and presentation session on the same topic as my thesis on Sunday afternoon and I’m pumped!

My poster presentation is on Monday morning. Looking at the other topics in my session, my abstract is the only about green tea and arthritis–potential advantage in the poster contest?!

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My study shows multiple catechins in green tea have anti-inflammatory properties.

Let’s see…next Friday I have an eye appointment for the first time in two years. I think it’s time I change up my frames. I’ve been rocking the black frame for two years now.

And I also have a deep tissue massage that afternoon. My neck and my back need it.


Since my life was pretty uneventful this week, allow me to introduce you to my roommate.

In January 2015 I felt a tug in my heart for a little furry friend. So on January 21st, 2015 I walked into the Spokane Humane Society and saw:

The first time I saw her, she was hiding in the corner of the shelter.

Immediately my heart melted. I wanted her not to be scared anymore in the shelter, and I knew I can be a good mom to her. I processed her paperwork that afternoon and took her home that evening.

In the few hours I had before I took her home, I prepared her toilet and food and water bowl, and I was thinking of her new name. Her slave name (the name originally given to her) was Cali, and I wanted to give her a new name to signify her new life with me. Looking at her, I noticed these spots of orange fur on her body. Even half of her face is orange. She seemed sweet, but with a little kick. Kinda like…


And so her (real) name was decided. :3

The first few days were a little rough on both of us. She’s EXTREMELY shy, so she didn’t really come out from under the bed. Eventually, she warmed up to me (after she realized that it was I who was feeding her) and now we’re BFFs 4 Lyfe. Like that Lana Del Rey song, “now my life is sweet like cinnamon.”

Comfy cozy in the blanket I got for $10 on Black Friday.

This week she’s revisiting this silly habit she has when we’re sleeping. You see, I sleep on one side of the bed which allows for ~50% of the bed for her. But where does she like to curl up? Right on top of my head. Yup, I wake up to find we’re sharing the same pillow. In my head I’m like, “Kitty, there is all this space on the bed plus 3 extra pillows. Why do you insist on using the same pillow?!”

BFFs sharing the same pillow. >_<

She also has a new hangout. I save the tissue paper from my victoria secret purchases (cause tissue paper serisously costs $3 and that’s $2 too much). I keep it in another victoria secret bag which is next to my stack of plastic bags that I also save (to line the bathroom trashcan and for kitty’s toliet). Cinnamon has taken it upon herself to hang out in the bag of tissue paper!

Cinnamon’s new hang out


So there you have it. I hope you guys have/had a wonderful Easter! easter

I’ll end it here with a collage of Cinnamon photos (cause I have so many of them).

Peace up, A-town. 🙂



Scrambled Eggs

Ever since the beginning of student life, I’ve had deadlines. The thing is I knew about those deadlines way ahead of time, and if I missed them it was literally all my fault.

Deadlines RANDOMLY come up in grad school. And so for the last year this has been the routine on dealing with them:

  1. Hear about deadline and realize you should have little to no time left before it’s due.
  2. Scramble to put something together (that doesn’t look like you put it together at the very last second).

But here’s the thing: 3. It works out in the end.

Last week I found out I had to take my preliminary exam a month earlier than my mentor and I were planning to. Which means my committee has to meet a month earlier to hear my proposal and approve it.

So this week was spent scrambling (hence the title of this post). This week I:

  1. Found an open conference room to hold my meeting in. But before that I found a time that 4 people were available to meet with me (which is hard to do with faculty that have a zillion other responsibilities, by the way).
  2. I also wrote a specific aims page in four days. To put it in perspective, NIH fellows spend weeks perfecting their aims page for grants; I did mine in a fraction of the time. My mentor barely looked at it the day before my committee meeting.
  3. I made a really shitty presentation for my meeting a day before whereas my university wide seminar took me a month to make.

But in the end, my committee is allowing me to take my exam late April. Woohoo! ^_^ As of today,  I have roughly three weeks to write a small F31 grant and master the “research strategy” of my project from plan A to plan Z.

During my meeting, I had a small taste of what my oral exam will be like. My boss kept asking me result -> conclusion type questions. He asked, “If you find it is a marker, what experiment will you do and what result should you get? What if it is a therapeutic target?”

My response, “Um, well…if it was a marker I need to look at other diseases to show the phenomena is unique to rheumatoid arthritis. If it was a target, then compounds targeting it should modulate the disease (…?!)”

Apparently the answer he was looking for is that markers change as the disease gets worse.

How I feel when I think I’m right, but turns out I’m not.

…well I was kind of right, right?

I walked out of the conference room mentally exhausted and with the realization that I have a TON of work ahead of me. But hey, all grad students are busy, so what else is new?

In other news, a 1st year student and I are not responsible for replacing carbon dioxide tanks on cell incubators when empty. This week we had to replace a tank we’ve never replaced before. I didn’t see him adjusting the pressure knob on the regulator instead of the one on the tank. He tightened it so much that the pressure going into the incubator was really high, so when he opened the CO2 tank to start the flow…57a5f0dd57a47e1bdb441cb7c5efc696

And I screamed and ran out of the cell culture area.

After apologizing to all the other labs within hearing range for screaming bloody murder, we opened the incubator up to find we only tore the air filter which is a $10 replacement. hehehe.


Last week’s general tao cauliflower was a disaster. For some reason the batter was not sticking to the cauliflower (which is part of the magic). My cake honestly, tastes like any normal chocolate cake, but I will say it came out very moist.

For this week, I’m making taco potatoes with ground turkey.

To end my weekend I went on the first hike of the season because the weather is really nice now. Here are some pics of my adventure:

See y’all on da flip side, yo.

Fast N’ Furious

Life in grad school is like a Ferrari–it goes from 0 to 100 mph within seconds. As a student, you’re just sitting in the seat, lab notebook in hand, just trying to survive. This week was one of those weeks where things went from 0 to 100 within a few seconds. I’ll explain more later.

The work week began with my TA duty which is proctoring pharmacy student block exams all day. It’s not the most thrilling job, I mean have you ever watched a someone take an exam before? Not only is it boring, but you try to do stuff in the meantime and you can’t really focus because you’re constantly getting interrupted.

Anyways, I have proctored all three years of pharmacy students and I have noticed a difference in behavior between the classes.

  1. The first year students are very eager and energetic; they want into the room as soon as possible.
  2. The second year students are still energetic but not as eager; I see some impatience but for the most part they wait.
  3. And the third years…well I have to stick my head outside and call them into the room for the exam.

I have a theory that as the years go on the less they like school and the more ready they are to get out.

The next two days were filled with training on the new Magpix Luminex system (Millipore, CA)  we got in our lab. It’s pretty cool actually. The machine is capable to detecting 50 different soluble proteins all at once! This is done by the use of these special beads that have a specific green and red fluorescence signature which are then conjugated to an antibody that detects your analyte of interest. For example a bead with 50/50 red to green ratio is conjugated with an anti-TNF antibody. A bead with a 49/51 is conjugated with IL-6 and so on and so forth.

What I found interesting is the machine is sensitive enough to see differences between 49/51, 50/50, and 51/49 ratios which allows for detection of several different analytes at once. Our machine can detect 50 at a time, however there are machines that can detect 100,000 at one time! So once the bead is detected, the machine reads how much reporter (Streptavidin PE) is conjugated to that bead which directly tells you how much of the analyte is present in your sample.

Overview on how Magpix works. It’s important to note that there are no lasers involved, it’s simply LED light.

We ran mouse serum samples against 5 different analytes for training, but we didn’t get to look at the mountain of data we collected because of a software licencing issue. Should be solved soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been cranking out my thesis stuff. Which brings me back to the whole Ferrari thing. You see, I was planning to take my preliminary exam sometime in May. Turns out (through word of mouth) I have until the end of April…a whole month earlier than I was planning. So now I have to write a proposal, present it, and defend it all while preparing for San Diego and continuing lab work. And outside of work I still have to take care of Cinnamon and take care of myself. Frankly, it’s days of surmountable stress where I miss my mom preparing meals for me and taking care of other things while I’m allowed to study.

This week, I shall be making Black Magic Cake for a co-worker’s farewell party. Although I haven’t tried it before, it’s very similar to my go-to chocolate cake recipe courtesy of Ina Beatty so I’m not too worried.  I also find myself becoming more vegetarian as time goes on, but not really vegan because I still consume dairy. This week I bought the ingredients for General Tso’s Cauliflower (you know, cauliflower instead of chicken).

Happy Daylight Savings. Hope your sleeping schedule adjustment goes well, and talk you later!


From Humble Beginnings…

Well, hello there!

I remember when I thought Facebook was cool. Nowadays…well, I could care less. However, I recognize that Facebook is good for two reasons: 1) staying in touch with people (especially those who may be a help later in life) and 2) sharing experiences.

I decided that I want to reconnect and share my life with you guys, but not via Facebook (because, I suck at Facebook). Hence why I’ve decided to start a blog.

Allow me to reintroduce myself…

I’m Sabrina, I grew up just north of Denver and I lived there for 22 years. In August 2014, I moved into the inland of Washington State in the small city of Spokane.

Overlooking downtown Spokane

I know what you’re thinking, “Sabrina, out of all the places in the northwest why Spokane?” By that you’re probably referring either to Seattle or Portland because those are the more well known and classic northwest cities. In other words, you’ve never heard of Spokane until now. And believe me, I didn’t know Spokane existed either until I interviewed there.

The answer is I’m a PhD student in pharmaceutical sciences at Washington State University since August 2014. Yup, I went straight to grad school fresh out of my undergrad. After two bachelor degrees from CU (in molecular biology and biochemistry and I minored in chemistry too) I’m still not done being in school. Woohoo!

I’m going to take this moment here to clarify something-I’M NOT GOING TO BECOME A PHARMACIST! Seriously, I’m not learning how to dispense medication. I’m learning why your medication was made in the first place. Perhaps one day I’ll help develop a medication that you’ll take. Then your local pharmacist will tell you the amount to take, when to take it, and how to take it. But that’s sometime in the future once I am Dr. Fechtner.

I work in a lab with a focus on rheumatoid arthritis,  and recently we’ve began studying gout. In fact, our group has shown a compound in green tea (EGCG) can bind and inhibit a protein (TAK1) involved inflammatory pathways. Read more about it here! I also wrote a review article about that protein, I’ll be sure to link my review when it’s out.

During my summer research (which was 100% funded by the way) I found another compound in green tea has some anti-inflammatory effects. I will be presenting this research in April at the Experimental Biology conference at San Diego. I’m pretty excited for this is my first official national conference. I hope I’ll come back to lab with a nice tan too.

Now that that project is finished, my current research interest (aka my thesis work) is characterizing a receptor that has been shown to have some therapeutic benefits in arthritis, but no one really knows how/why. Hence the need for research done by yours truly. ^_^

In future posts, I want to share some snip-it’s of my life as a grad student. I want to tell you about my work week, my weekend, and share some of the things I learned. Here’s a few to begin with:

  1. Eat good food.
  2. Don’t drink heavily on Sunday nights.
  3. And invest in ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper and you have a theory you’re neighbor upstairs runs some sort of delivery service between 2-8am on random days.

See you guys next week!