Thursday, December 31, 2009

Robert Langdon = Tom Hanks


I'm currently reading A Lost Symbol by Dan Brown right now and can't stop picturing the main character as Tom Hanks. I even hear Langdon's quotes in Tom Hanks' voice. Ugh. I guess it's one of the downfalls of having books in a series made into a movie before the series is complete. Oh well, at least Tom Hanks did a great job in the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. I just like to have my own images of characters, not Hollywood's vision.

Kind of related, I think Tom Hanks is one of the best actors of my era. No matter the role, he executes it with perfection and never falls into a stereotype.

2009 Resolutions in Review

Since it's the last day of 2009, I figured I'd review my resolutions from this year and see how I did. Hopefully tomorrow I'll take the time to post my resolutions for 2010, but I'm still developing them.

1. Lose 5-10 pounds - Looking on sparkpeople.com, I'm exactly one pound less than this time last year. I'm ok with that, at least I didn't gain any over the year.
2. Workout 3 times a week - Overall, I think I completed this one. I had knee surgery at the end of August and that definitely has been motivation to do my PT at least 3x a week. I'm slowly getting back to pain free elliptical and biking. I'm hoping to start running again in 2010, we'll see how the pain is.
3. Learn digital photography with my new dSLR - umm, my food photos have improved, but this is definitely still a major work in progress.
4. Maintain bikini line and shave legs more often - yeah, umm, I'm still lazy on this.
5. Read at least 25 pleasure books in 2009 - exceeded this goal, woo hoo! I read 55!
6. Go to church weekly/redevelop my faith life - I am truly in a faith crisis. Hoping to work on this in 2010 too. I did not go to church weekly. I went to mass the fewest times ever in any of the years of my life this year.
7. Less clutter and more cleanliness - we'll have to ask Joe about this one. I'll stay I think it's going to be a constant work in progress for my whole life.
8. Improve communication with Joe (more of what he needs to work on, but I'm not perfect either, so it's a joint resolution) - We had 9 weeks of long distance this year, I'm pretty proud of our communication then. Still room for improvement on both parts, but we definitely had more communication this year.

Bought the Ninja!

I guess you can say I'm a sucker for kitchen appliances. Ok, maybe that's an understatement...I LOVE kitchen stuff! A couple of weeks ago I saw the infomercial for the Ninja and they chopped onions with ease. I ran off to try chopping onions with my magic bullet, but it didn't work =(. Yesterday I picked up my Ninja from Sam's club. I've only used it on peppers and onions. I used the mini prep container. I definitely didn't start crying when it chopped the onions, but it minced more than chopped. I have to play around with it to get the constistency I want, but it's definitely better than chopping onions myself!

Of course I can do more than just chop onions with my Ninja, but that'll have to wait until the New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snow Dog!


My hubby would say I'm not a dog person, but I just think there are different degrees of dog people and I'm towards the very bottom. I've definitely enjoyed having my parents' dog around.

As I mentioned earlier, my parents received a ton of snow this past weekend. My brother took Bella, their shitzu, out to play. She had a ball until she couldn't walk. The snow had formed huge balls and stuck to her fur! We gently tried to pull the snow balls off, but it didn't work. Up to the tub she went for her 3rd bath in 3 days. She likes the snow a little too much. Oh well, I guess she knows she has owners to clean her.

Interview Week in Review - 3

Yes, I know this is a little late. Whenever I get on the internet it affects my brother's videogaming, so I'm trying to be a good sister and do most of my internet stuff when he's not on the game.

Miles driven: Approximately 600
Hours driving: 9-10
States visited: 2
Interviews: 3
Programs I absolutely loved: 1
Programs I liked and with which would totally be happy: 1

Nothing too exciting happened this week in terms of funny stories, etc. I'm very glad interviews are over. Not because I don't like meeting people and interviewing, etc, but the travel is exhausting. I'm not the type of person who can live out of a suitcase. I used to think it would be amazing to be an airline stewardess so I could see new places, but I don't think I'd like so many hotels. I digress though. Now that interviews are over, I'm more stressed about the match. I'm really not trying to get my hopes up on certain programs, but it's hard. I'm also not trying to think about the logistics of looking for housing, a job for Joe, moving, and all that entails until Match Day. I kept telling Joe we couldn't really make any plans until Match Day because we don't know where we'll be, so I now I have to listen to my own advice.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Leave it to Dad!

Dad's always been a handyman and I just have to toot his horn right now. Yesterday Baltimore received about 20 inches of snow. Dad loves storms like this so he can use his snow blower. About 3/4 of the way into the storm (5:45pm on a Sunday), the wheel of Dad's snow blower broke. Between closing time and the storm, no stores were open to buy a replacement part. My parents have a large driveway and Dad wanted to snowblowe my great grandfather's house too. Needless to say, Dad was determined to fix the snow blower. After multiple mumblings to himself, he decided to make a wooden wheel. Yes, a wooden wheel. Dad said overall it worked well enough to finish out this storm. Dad said the only major problem was the wooden wheel iced and he'd have to thaw it out. I think it's quite impressive either way!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Giveaway Winner!

Thanks everyone who entered the giveaway! The winner is, drum roll please, Katie! Comment number 5. I discovered Random.org and it was so easy! I just typed in the number of comments and voila, the number 5 popped up.

Thanks everyone who participated and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I made it to 50!

One of my new year's resolution for 2009 was to read 25 books. Around June I decided I'd count audio books too. I reached 25 books in August and decided to up my go to 50. Drum roll please, today I finished my 50th book! Woo hoo! I wasn't a member of Goodreads until July and didn't record every book I read in 2009 on there simply because I forgot what a couple were. However, based on my Goodreads list, only about 11 books of the 50 were audiobooks. I think that's pretty impressive for a medical student.

I'm not sure if I'm going to read as many next year for several reasons. I want to focus on learning photography since I neglected that resolution this year. I also will start my intern year in the middle of June, which will leave me with very little, and I mean very little, free time.

I hate cutting onions!

Practically every one knows onions make your eyes water when you cut them. I guess I'm more sensitive than most of the population because I truly start crying when I cut onions. This weekend I saw an info-mercial for the Ninja. I don't have a Ninja, but my rents and I both have a magic bullet. I thought I'd give the magic bullet a try to chop the onions, but the info-mercial was right--it didn't work.

I've tried refrigerating the onions, but I still bawl. Oh well.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Giveaway!


So 12 posts ago was my 200th post. I wanted to do a give-away then, but realized I shouldn't spend the money.

So where is this giveaway coming from? I'm not shy. Mom's work had a regifting party...basically everyone brought something new they received but didn't want. Mom knows I like to cook, so she took the garlic press. However, she didn't know I already have this exact garlic press, so now I'm passing the joy onto you! And I love this tool, by the way!

It's brand new, so as long as you don't mind me regifting a regift, it's yours--well if you win.

What: Pampered Chef Garlic Press (not sponsored at all by Pampered Chef)
How to Win: Comment with your favorite dish that includes garlic. Recipes welcome, but not necessary.
Entry Details: Post a comment by Friday, December 17th 8 pm Eastern Time. I'll use some nifty computer program to draw the winner and post by Monday, but likely Saturday or Sunday.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Interview Week in Review - 2

This week I had five interviews in a row. I would not recommend this on anyone! People say it's exhausting, and it is. Truly though, I think it was the driving that got to me.

Miles driven: Approximately 780
Hours driving: Too many...I think somewhere between 13-15
States visited: 2
Interviews: 5
Programs I absolutely loved: 1
Programs I liked and with which would totally be happy: 1.5

So my excitement of this interview week...I caught a bagel on fire! I'm a bear without breakfast, so I stopped in the hospital cafeteria to get something. I put my bagel in the conveyor belt toaster and walk to the refrigerated section to get cream cheese. Another applicant was waiting to use the toaster as well and when I walked back she calmly says, "I think your bagel is on fire." Umm...YES! There were flames and smoke coming out of the toaster! I immediately turned the toaster off and found a cafeteria worker, but the rest of the day I was known as "the girl who caught a bagel on fire."

I'll never say I have a boring life at least.

This coming week is lighter than this past one, thankfully. I originally had another 5 in a row scheduled, but by the middle of last week I realized I couldn't do that again. I now have 3 interviews left total. I'm not going to lie, I'm excited to come to the end. I'm so so glad I've been offered interviews, but it's socially exhausting. The next tough thing is going to be working on the rank list. One step at a time.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Interviewing and my Knee

For the past couple of weeks, unfortunately my knee's been bothering me again. It's getting the dull ache I had before surgery. I haven't tried much cardio since being in Baltimore, so we'll see. Some of the hotels where I'm staying have gyms, so hopefully I'll be able to use them this week. I have been doing my exercises, but it's still frustrating. I've also noticed my knee bothers me with lots of sitting and since I'm in the car driving a lot, that's not helping. Ugh.

Interview Week in Review - 1

This past week marked my first full week of interviews away from my home institution. Unfortunately I can't go into much detail since the programs may stumble across my blog, but I want to share at least a little.

Miles driven: Approximately 400
Hours driving: A little less than 8
States visited: 3
Interviews: 3
Programs I absolutely loved: 1
Programs I liked and with which would totally be happy: 2

This week was my light week actually. Tonight I head to Virginia and spend 4 days in that state and end the week in DC. It's worth it though. I'm having more confidence that Joe and I will be closer to our family and friends come this summer, but we'll see.

Pediatrics residency interviews are fairly laid back compared to some other specialties. It's still a little frustrating though. During our interview day, the programs also try to sell their residency and always say, "we hope you choose us." That's the thing. Rough numbers here...so if the program is interviewing 400 candidates for 20 spots, there's not enough room for everyone to choose your program. Hence that's where "the match" comes into play. While I really like programs, I'm trying not to fall in love or get my hopes up too much so I'm not disappointed on match day. Just because I love a program, it doesn't mean the program will love me. So I'll keep trucking and interviewing and hoping the way Joe and I rank programs will be similar to how they rank me.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ravens beat Steelers!!!

One of the great things about being in town is impromptu gatherings. Sunday, November 29th the RAVENS BEAT THE STEELERS! Woo hoo! My parents had my grandparents over for dinner Saturday night. Given the left overs and clean house I felt it necessary to have some of my girlfriends over to watch the game. (Ok, the guys were invited too, but all realized we needed a girls night, awesome.) It was so great catching up and watching the game together, even if we're adults now and need to leave at halftime.

Oh, and if you didn't see the game, it was awesome! Yay for our new kicker and pulling through in overtime!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I hear you God

I've been going through what I call a faith crisis for the past year or so. For months now I've felt I need to get back to my religion and work on my faith. It hasn't happened. On a interview last week, a physician saw I was involved in the Catholic Medical Association and our conversation led to suggestions to help me resolve my faith crisis. Tonight I was at applicant dinner for different program and had a wonderful discussion with another applicant about our faith, what it means to be Catholic, etc. I went to the dinner with the purpose to learn more about the program. Ends up, I randomly sat next to another Catholic and we randomly started talking about our faith. I've heard of moments when people feel God is calling them or pointing them in a particular direction. Right now, I feel God is screaming at me. Not a reprimanding scream, but a "obviously you couldn't hear my whispers, so I guess I have to get louder to show you I miss you" scream.

After having this random discussion with the fellow applicant tonight I realized part of what I'm missing in my faith life. Up until medical school, I was involved in faith-based groups outside of Mass on Sundays. These groups provided time for discussion, service, activities, etc. Mass was just an added benefit. Without the faith discussion with my peers, I feel distant, almost lost. I discovered more about myself and my faith through campus ministry than I have in Mass. Now I'm left with Mass and I think since Mass wasn't filling my faith void, I stopped going. Unfortunately, this left with no outlet (other than my actions and profession) to practice my faith.

I've been thinking my answer to resolving my faith crisis is finding my way back to Mass, but tonight I think I discovered that's not it. I need to find my way back to opportunities to discuss my faith with my peers. Hopefully, after that I'll be able to find my way back to Mass as well.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Let the Whirlwind Begin!

It's time for interview season to begin. I'm currently in the airport waiting for my flight to DC (it was much cheaper than flying into BWI). I'll be using my parents as a home base as I drive up and down the East Coast for the interviews. It'll be a lot of traveling, but I'm excited. It's hard to believe, but med school's almost over and we'll be embarking on our next chapter (residency) in just a few months.

Needless to say, I doubt I'll have much time for trying new recipes over the coming weeks. Who knows though, I may have a weekend cooking binge. My mood's always fluctuating.

My darling husband took me to the airport this morning at 4:30 am. I have a 6 am flight. He's such a night owl. He decided to completely skip going to bed last night and just wait to take me to the airport. Whatever works for him. He kindly asked me not to call him during my layover. Why hunny, you don't want me to wake you up? :p

Alright ladies and gents, "see" you in Baltimore!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Parchment Paper

Have you ever read a recipe and ignored the instruction to line the pan with parchment paper? I did all of the time! I didn't own any parchment paper and I figured if I just used enough cookie spray, I wouldn't miss it. This weekend was the first time I lined my cookie sheets with parchment paper. Oh. My. God. what a difference! I'm sold. I don't think I'm ever baking without parchment paper ever again. The cookies cooked more evenly, came off of the cookie sheet with ease, and clean up was a cinch! So, if you bake anything and don't own parchment paper yet, go out, buy some, try it, and just tell me how much you love it!

Snickerdoodles


We haven't made snickerdoodles for so long, Joe and I were forgetting how yummy they were. We only made half a batch and I'm glad for that, otherwise I think we'd eat the full batch just the two of us.

I found this recipe in a cookbook distributed by my grandmother's church.

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup flour
cinnamon sugar to coat (random mixture each time for me)

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix butter, sugar, and eggs. Add other ingredients. Roll dough into balls and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture. I find the dough easier to work with if it's been refrigerated for an hour or so.

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Cookies


Delicious-ness!

I've been on the hunt for espresso powder since I made a peanut butter torte but I didn't want to pay for shipping to order it online. Last week I visited the Williams Sonoma store, and lo and behold, there it was. Since I finally had some espresso powder I knew I had to make something. Off I went to my google Reader and found these cookies from 17 and Baking. I'm not a fan of chocolate cake, so I've always steered away from chocolate cookies. These cookies have completely changed my mind! I absolutely loved the addition of dried cherries.

I'm debating on making these for some holiday gatherings in Baltimore. The recipe calls for melted chocolate, which I can easily do with my chocolate melting pot, but I won't have that at my parents. Next time I make this I may try using a boxed brownie mix and somehow adapting it to make cookies. I've never done that, so I'm sure I'll be doing lots of googling.

Either way, here's the recipe for the above delicious-ness!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
5 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp espresso powder
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup (4.5 oz) dried cherries, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar and set aside.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and butter in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir frequently and remove from heat. Allow chocolate to cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed. Add the sugar and beat until the eggs triple in volume and hold the lines of the whisk, about ten minutes. Add the espresso powder and beat another minute.

Add the melted and cooled chocolate to the eggs on low speed. Beat until incorporated, then add the dry ingredients, chocolate chips, and dried cherries. Beat until just combined – do not overmix. Finish mixing by hand with a rubber spatula. The batter will be very runny (honestly, it wasn't too runny for me). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. For large cookies, use two tablespoons to scoop the batter into large mounds. Place 2″ apart on sheet and bake 12-15 minutes. For small cookies, scoop the batter with two teaspoons and bake 8-10 minutes. The cookies puff in the oven and fall a bit once removed. Let cool on the sheets. (I cooled mine on racks).

Triple Layer Pumpkin Spice Pie

Photo from Kraft's website.

I didn't actually taste the pie, so I wasn't going to blog about it, but given the raves Joe's coworkers told him to pass along to me, I figured it was worth sharing. I picked up some more pumpkin spice pudding, so might make another one that I can actually taste (It was too pretty to send it with Joe missing a slice). Either way, it was super easy to make. The only thing is the pudding, pumpkin spice, is seasonal and only found at Wal-Mart.

Recipe from Kraft Foods

INGREDIENTS:

2 pkg. (3.4 oz. each) JELL-O Pumpkin Spice Flavor Instant Pudding
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups cold milk
1 HONEY MAID Graham Pie Crust (6 oz.)
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided

DIRECTIONS:

BEAT dry pudding mixes, cinnamon and milk with whisk 2 min.; spread 1-1/2 cups onto bottom of crust.

STIR 1-1/2 cups COOL WHIP into remaining pudding until well blended. Spread over layer in crust; top with remaining COOL WHIP.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour.

You can top with caramelized pecans, but that was just too much work for that night.

The Girl in the Pink Shirt

Yesterday was my first real interview day. I read somewhere that in general interview applicants should dress fairly conservative when interviewing for residency. E.g. black or gray suit and light/neutral colored shirt. Ideally, I would have loved to purchase a purple suit but, 1. that's not conservative enough and 2. I couldn't find any in talls. So I went with the boring black suit. I tried it on with my white shirt, and then a cream sweater, and it was just way too boring for me. With my personality, I feel I need some color and spunk. I have an array of shells and such, so yesterday I went with the pink button down. I honestly wasn't expecting to be the only one in a color shirt, but lo and behold I was. Now you may ask, "are you being too bold for interviews." I think not. At least three people commented on how they liked my pink shirt. So if the pink shirt helps me stand out and be remembered when they're doing their rank lists, I'll stick to the colors and keep the white and cream in the closet.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Banana Muffins - Nutella Optional


I may have found my new go-to recipe for banana bread/muffins. I've read that it's more accurate to weigh dry ingredients than measure them. I'm still not convinced I used the proper amount of flour. I based my measurements off of King Arthur's site. Per King Arthur's site, 1 cup of all purpose flour is 4.25 ounces. The recipe called for 3 cups of flours, but based on King Arthur's measurement, I only had about 2.5 cups (mind you, my 4 cup measuring cup also probably isn't the most accurate). My brief Googling of flour weights showed conversions up to 4.75 ounces per cup, so I'm not sure. Either way, I think this was the perfect amount of flour for the recipe.

I put about 3/4 tsp of nutella in 6 muffins (sandwhiched between two scoops of batter). OMG, I wish I put nutella in every one! I thought it would be too rich for a breakfast bread with the nutella, but nope!

Recipe adapted from Food Network.

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (a must, I think this is what made the recipe!)
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/2 cup apple sauce and 1/2 cup oil)
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, pealed and mashed
Nutella (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

(Recipe says it'll make 18 muffins, but it made 24 for me).

Preheat oven 325. Line muffin cups with liners.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to blend. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack and cool. If you make them with nutella, I recommend eating them warm or putting them in the microwave for a couple seconds.

Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

The Baltimore Nesties call this "crack dip" because it's so addicting. I heard so much about it I finally decided to give a try. I loved it! And an added bonus, Joe liked it too. This is definitely more an appetizer than a meal, but since we didn't have any parties coming up, I made it into a meal. I followed MrsNDM's recipe on Baltimore Nestie's Cooking Blog. Since it was only the two of us, I halved the original recipe and think it would still be plenty for a party of 6 or so. I preferred celery and carrots as the dippers over bread and tortilla chips.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups boiled, shredded chicken breast
12-oz bottle Frank’s Buffalo Wing sauce (not hot sauce)
1 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing (I used ranch, not a big blue cheese fan)
16 oz cream cheese (2 packages, softened – not low fat b/c the texture is different)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar and loved it!)

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the softened cream cheese with the wing sauce and ranch dressing until all lumps are gone (either with a whisk or an electric mixer). Add in the boiled, shredded chicken. Mix well.

Pour into casserole dish (at least 8×8), sprinkle cheese on top, and cover with foil. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the cheese is bubbly in the center (another 10 minutes or so).

Serve hot with tortillas, bread, or veggie.

Note: Can also be done in a crockpot.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Brownies



Delicious and super easy to make. I can't take credit for the idea, but definitely don't mind sharing it.

INGREDIENTS:
1 bag of pumpkin spice kisses (only found at Target)
1/2 - 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I only used 1/2 but think I should have used 1 tsp)
1 boxed brownie mix

DIRECTIONS:
Make brownie mix as directed, add pumpkin pie spice stir. Pour brownies into greased pan. Whatever size you desire.

Peel and melt the kisses in the microwave. Do use high, the chocolate can burn. Patience my dears! Stir the kisses. Once melted, dollop on top of the brownies. Take a toothpick and run it through the brownies and chocolate to marbleize the chocolate.

Bake as directed on the package. Enjoy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

So That's Over With

Thank goodness! To become a physician, one must take several licensing exams, also known as steps. Step 2 has two parts--a multiple choice "clinical knowledge" test and a hands on "clinical skills" test. The clinical skills test is only offered at 5 locations in the US, hence why I'm in Houston. Before I continue, I must thank Google for the free wi-fi in airports this holiday season, or else I'd still be bored waiting for my flight.

So today, I spent 8 hours interviewing standardized patients (SP's) and writing notes. It's supposed to test our clinical skills, but it really doesn't. The SP's are trained to observe whether or not we listen to the heart in four spots, shine a light in their eye, etc. Basically, we students just have to go through the motions to get the credit for performing the exam. And that's exactly what I did. I couldn't tell you whether or not my patient with high blood pressure had arterial nicking in the back of his eyes, but he thinks I looked back there. I couldn't tell you if my patient who complained of a fast heart rate had an irregular rhythm, but she thinks I listened long enough to tell. The fact of the matter, it's all an act. They tell us in the beginning to be cautious with the exam and realize the SP goes through this 12 times. I wouldn't feel comfortable diagnosing half of my patients today with the exam I did. Now you ask, why didn't you do a better exam? I didn't have time. It's either make sure you go through all of the motions and get the points for the motions, or actually take your time, get the findings, but exceed the 15 minute limit and get docked points. What would you do? Needless to say, the patient's life isn't hanging on my exam.

Ok, so along with my above gripes, let's talk about the expense of the exam. It's easy to find, so I'll just put it out there. For me, it cost $1200 for the exam itself (I think it's since gone up). Yes, that's right, I didn't accidentally add an extra zero. To fly to Houston, it cost me about $250 and then another $65 for my hotel. So for 8 hours of making sure I'm "clinically competent" I had to dish out $1500 because US med schools don't do a good enough of a job ensuring this (note sarcasm). We're not allowed to leave the testing area for breaks, so they provide lunch. For $1500, you'd think it would be a very decent lunch. Umm...not really. Someone made spaghetti with meat sauce. They put together their own lunch meat tray with slimy turkey, and someone made a salad. Now don't get me wrong, all of this food is perfectly fine, but for $1500, I was expecting something like Panera lunch boxes. I guess then that's favoring certain chains and USMLE doesn't want that.

Oh well. I'm just happy it's done and God-willing I passed and won't have to do it again.

I'm also hoping I don't have the same travel nightmares tonight as I experience yesterday!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

FINALLLY IN HOUSTON!!!!

What a travel day it's been. I know it's not anybody's fault, but man, it's been a rough day.

Let's start in Omaha. My flight was scheduled to leave Omaha at 10:15. Yeah. I didn't leave Omaha until 2 pm. Our plane was coming from Denver, which had a fair amount of snow last night, so the plane had to de-ice--the first reason for a delay. Well, as the plane was in line to de-ice, they discovered a mechanical problem and the plane returned to the gate. All of the passengers switched to a new plane and finally, the plane made it to Omaha.

In the meantime, my flight from Denver to Houston was in the air without me. Customer service wasn't at the gate yet, so I called Frontier's phone customer service. I wanted to make sure they put my name down for the next flight leaving Denver to Houston. Phone customer service says only customer service in the airport can do that since I've already checked in. WHAT?!?! Umm, to me that just doesn't make any sense. Customer service wasn't at the gate yet and I wasn't about to go back past security.

By this time, the plane has arrived in Omaha and we start to board. My seat is 20D. Guess what, this is a smaller plane and there is no row 20!!! They didn't reassign our seats. No big deal, we just had open seating to expedite take off.

Three hours after scheduled arrival and 30 minutes before my new flight to Houston, I arrived in Denver. The boarding pass Frontier printed me in Omaha said my flight to Houston would be departing out of gate 42. Conveniently, this was the same gate our flight from Omaha used. I walk out and see that the gate sign says this flight is going to Phoenix. Ok, no big deal, airlines change gates all of the time. I proceed to the departure board and what does it say? My flight's cancelled!!! Now I start panicking. Joe just checked the web and told me it's still on time. What's going on? So I go back to the gate where the Omaha flight parked that currently says that plane's going to Phoenix and ask what's up. "Oh, I'm sorry miss. The departure board is wrong, as is the sign behind me. This is your gate for an on-time departure to Houston." What!?!?!? Of course it is, because that makes so much sense.

I finally make it to Houston. The hotel where I'm staying has a free shuttle from the airport. Sweet. Or so I thought. Lord only knows where the shuttle was, but I ended up waiting over 1.5 hours for the shuttle. Of course I kept calling the hotel and they kept telling me it was on it's way. I still don't know where the shuttle was, but I know I'm currently in the hotel and that's what matters. I'll take my exam tomorrow and kick butt. I'm just hoping my flight karma doesn't carry over to tomorrow's trip back to Omaha. I don't know if I can handle another 12 hour travel day.

Chili with Pumpkin


Delicious and nice and hearty! I found this on Things That Make You Go mmmm and definitely agree, you really can't taste the pumpkin. I rarely use ground turkey since I like the flavor of beef, but with all of the seasonings, I can't even tell it's turkey and not beef. I followed the recipe to a tee and will do the same when I make it next year. Picky food guy Joe refused to try it, but I really think he'd like it. Maybe next year. I froze half of the batch, and based on the fact that it's chili, I think it'll taste just as yummy when I defrost it.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili
from Cara's Carvings, serves 4-6

1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium sized bell peppers, diced (I used 1 red and 1 green)
1 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Mexican oregano (I used regular oregano)
1 small can diced green chili peppers
15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can pumpkin puree, or 2 cups homemade

DIRECTIONS:

1. Spray a large pot with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until just softened. Add the garlic and bell peppers, and cook about 5 minutes more until tender. Add the ground turkey and cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Season with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes to blend flavors.

Or, just brown the turkey with the seasonings and combine with remaining ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve with your favorite chili toppings - cilantro, green onion, cheese, sour cream, etc. Makes 4 very generous servings - perfect if you're not eating this with any cornbread or other sides.

Can't Quite Run Yet

So yesterday I took a leap and gave running a try. My goal was 5 minutes. Yeah, I lasted about 1 minute. I still had pain in my knee, but in a different spot. I'm thinking the pain is due to the inflammation left over from the surgery. So, I must continue to be patient and still do biking and walking. That said, I'm not having pain with those activities anymore, so at the very least, surgery has been some benefit.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shopping

I have a shopping problem. There I said it. It's inherited. Mom will take credit and will agree that her mom loved to shop too.

I don't have credit card debt, fortunately, (just school debt =() but when I get a coupon for a store, I feel compelled to shop, even if I don't need anything. Right now I have an extra 30% off from Kohl's. I might be able to pick up one or two Christmas presents, but otherwise, I'd just be spending money on myself. It's so hard to drive past the Kohl's everyday on my way home. I'm really going to try to be a good girl, but who knows. I keep thinking of things I could possibly use, but aren't necessary. I used to be such a good saver. What happened? Oh that's right, I don't really have an income to save.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Elliptical Success!

It's been exactly 11 weeks since my knee surgery and I almost feel completely back to "normal." I still can't squat down to patient's level and stay there for a couple of minutes, but that will come. Otherwise, I'm not having pain, the swelling's gone, I can go up and down steps with out pain, and pretty much everything else.

Over the weekend I used the elliptical for 25 minutes at various inclines, resistances, etc, and then again today. I'm happy to announce the pain I used to get after 5 minutes is not there! Both times I did notice a slight dull ache around 15-17 minutes, but nothing near the sharp pains I used to have. I know I still need to keep up my strengthening exercises and I don't want to irritate the inflammation that's still healing by causing more, so I think I'll limit my elliptical workouts to once a week. I'm getting excited that I might actually be able to run again in the near future, but I don't want to get ahead of myself. For now, I'll still focus on my strengthening while the deep down inflammation of surgery is still healing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Used to be Religious

I started to write a long post, but then I realized I think I just need to get my thoughts out quick and dirty.

I can't remember the last time I went to church.

I like to blame my religious decline on the fact that my husband doesn't go to church, but I know it's really not that...I went by myself for years.

I envy two of my dearest friends who have a confidence in their faith that I once had but lost.

I still consider myself Catholic, but I truly wish women had a more active role in the church and I do not like the Church's history. I never felt left out of the Catholic Church as a female until the most recent Conclave to elect Pope Benedict and I realized not a single female had a vote.

I've thought about trying services at different denominations, but each Sunday comes around and I still don't go. For some reason, I don't think switching denominations is my answer. I need to look at religion as what it is today, not the horrors it brought to people in the past. The Crusades and Salem Witch Trials are over, but who's to say something like that won't ever happen again? Religion has done a lot of good, but it's also caused too many deaths to mention and very narrow mindsets. I need to stop focusing on the negative aspects of religion and start finding the beauty in it again.

I miss my faith and the strength I'd find in it. Another dear friend always says, "faith takes work." I haven't been putting the work in, I know. I keep waiting for a major revelation and perhaps I need to get out of my PJ's and go back to church to get it. And who knows, perhaps I truly do need to look into a different denomination.

Any comments, readings, suggestions, criticism, etc appreciated.

50 in 2009

I've decided to up my book goal from 25 to 50 books this year. I will say audio books have greatly helped me. I just finished listening to book 43 today. That leaves me just over 7 weeks of the year (OMG, only seven weeks left?!?!) to read/listen to 7 books. I'm already a third through The Thirteenth Tale and with interview season, I have lots of driving, so many hours to listen to books. It'll be about a book a week, but with the audio books, I think I can do it. I'm not going to lie, I will be choosing easy reads until I get to 50, but after that I can't wait to pick up the newest in the Outlander series - Echo in the Bone!

Everyone else, happy reading!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Butternut Squash Cake

This is the first time I made a cake with squash, but we do it with carrots and pumpkin all of the time, so why not squash? It was only ok. I know this will sound weird, but the cake reminds me of Famous Dave's corn muffins. I think it's a little too dense for a cake, but that's just me. This was also the first time I made brown sugar icing. Honestly, I think it tasted very similar to marshmallow. It complemented the cake, but was so so sticky! It also took lots of mixing. I swear I mixed the icing at least 20 minutes to get the egg whites to peak. Overall, I'm glad I tried this cake, but I'm not adding it to my list of go-to recipes.


Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.

Ingredients

* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup mashed, cooked butternut squash
* 1 teaspoon maple flavoring (I used vanilla extract)
* 3 cups cake flour
* 4 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1 cup chopped walnuts (omitted)

* BROWN SUGAR FROSTING:
* 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
* 3 egg whites
* 6 tablespoons water
* 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add squash and maple flavoring; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in walnuts. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans.
2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
3. For frosting, combine the brown sugar, egg whites, water, cream of tartar and salt in a heavy saucepan. With a portable mixer, beat on low speed for 1 minute. Continue beating over low heat until a thermometer reads 160 degrees F, about 8-10 minutes.
4. Pour frosting into a large mixing bowl; add vanilla. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 (more like 20 for me) minutes. Spread between layers and over top and sides of cake.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just Wrong, Downright Wrong

Once again, money has power. WHY OH WHY does a corporation on Wall Street get H1N1 vaccines before hospitals or doctors' offices? Goldman Sachs Receives H1N1 I really hope Goldman Sachs decides to donate their supply to local hospitals given most Wall Street individuals don't fall into the high risk category.

Ok, stepping off my soap box.

Nascar Institute

Ever wonder how people get involved in Nascar and trained to be on the pit crew, etc? Well, lo and behold, Nascar has its own training institute just for that. Who knew? The things I learn from patients =)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Honey Mustard Kielbasa & Potatoes

The Baltimore Nesties started a recipe blog and when I saw this this recipe posted I knew I had to try it. I love absolutely all of the ingredients, but never had honey mustard with my kielbasa. The recipe calls for cubed potatoes, but in an effort to save time, I used canned sliced new potatoes. I loved this dish! Joe didn't like the potatoes so much, but loved the kielbasa, so I think I'll double the meat (or 1/2 the potatoes) the next time I make it.

Nestie Gracie2762 adapted it from Kraft Foods

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup dry white wine (I used cooking sherry)
1/4 cup Honey Mustard (I used Ken's Steakhouse)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. kielbasa, cut into thin slices
4 medium potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (I used 3 cans of sliced new potatoes)
1 large onion, sliced (I probably only used about 1/2)

DIRECTIONS:
PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Mix wine, mustard and brown sugar until well blended.
MIX kielbasa, potatoes and onion in roasting pan. Drizzle with wine mixture; toss to coat.
BAKE 50 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired. I usually put the broiler on for a few minutes at the end to get the kielbasa crisp. It tastes even better leftover!

Bangs

I will preface this post by recognizing that I'm very fortunate to have my hair. It's thick, it has a nice wave when I want it, and holds curls and styles well. That being said, it's been driving me crazy this past 1.5 years. My attempt to get
back to my natural color was definitely too dark and now I have roots. They're noticeable to me but I wouldn't care if I wasn't going on residency interviews next month. I think I'd feel much more confident if I wasn't worried about my roots during my interview, so I'm going to try the temporary dye route again. This time though, I'm going to look for a color with "ash" and keep my fingers crossed my hair doesn't turn red again.

So, onto my bangs. I go back and forth on whether or not I want bangs. Depending on my rotation and how many hours I work, I'm finding I put my hair in a ponytail quite frequently. When my hair's in a ponytail, I like the bangs since I think it gives me a more polished and professional look. That being said, I'm having the darnest time maintaining them. Last time between hair cuts, I trimmed them myself and the stylist definitely noticed--I took too much off. Yesterday my bangs were driving me crazy because they kept falling in my face and blocking my sight, so I paid for a bang trim. Mind you, this wasn't my normal girl since I just want to the closest salon, but now I feel she cut too much. It was fine last night, but now after I slept I feel they're too short. Ugh. I really just wish I could find a happy medium. I pinned them back today and I might just keep trying to grow them out for a while and start over in 6 months or so. We'll see how my mood goes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Apple Cider Doughnut Holes


Well, these were a semi-fail. This was my first attempt making donuts and since I didn't have a biscuit cutter I decided to make doughnut holes instead. I burnt the first batch I fried, so then I turned down the heat and was extra diligent about making sure I didn't leave them in the oil too long. Well, that failed since half of the batch was basically raw dough still. Oh well, perhaps better luck next time. These are definitely a sugar high, but overall I thought they were pretty yummy and worth making sometime again, but probably years from now. Who knows. And, I was excited to use my immersion blender yet again!

INGREDIENTS

* 2 red apples, such as Cortland or McIntosh
* 2 1/2 cups apple cider
* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
* 4 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
* 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
* 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
* 1/4 cup buttermilk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
* Vegetable oil, for frying

DIRECTIONS

Core and coarsely chop the apples (do not peel). Combine with 1 1/2 cups cider in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cover and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the apples are tender and the cider is almost completely reduced, about 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Measure the sauce; you should have 1 cup. (Boil to reduce further, if necessary.) Let cool slightly.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

Beat 2/3 cup granulated sugar and the shortening in another bowl with a mixer on medium speed until sandy. Beat in the egg and yolk, then gradually mix in the applesauce, scraping the bowl. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk and vanilla, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix to make a sticky dough; do not overmix.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper and pat into a 7-by-11-inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Simmer the remaining 1 cup cider in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Whisk in the confectioners' sugar until smooth and glossy, then set aside. Mix the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a shallow bowl; set aside for the topping.

Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Cut the chilled dough into 12 rounds, using a floured 2 1/2- or 3-inch biscuit cutter, then cut out the middles with a 1-inch cutter (or use a doughnut cutter). Slip 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed. Transfer to the paper towels to drain.

Dip one side of each doughnut in the cider glaze, letting the excess drip off; dip just the glazed side in the cinnamon-sugar or roll all over in cinnamon-sugar, if desired. Serve warm.

Oh, the apple cider takes at least twice as long to reduce as the recipe calls for. Here's the recipe from Food Network. Apple Cider Doughnuts

Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

I've been in a soup mood lately and since I've never cooked with acorn squash before, I decided to give this recipe a try. It's only ehh...honestly I think it taste more liked warmed apple sauce with a couple extra flavors thrown in. I doubt I'll make it again. I mixed some plain yogurt in with the soup and I think it definitely made it taste better. I might shred some chicken and add that to give me some more protein, plus I think it'll complement the apple flavoring.

Ingredients
2 medium acorn squash seeded & halved
1 quart Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock (Store was out of stock, so I used broth)
3 each green apples peeled and diced
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 1/3 cups apple cider
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root peeled & grated
1 1/3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
White pepper to taste / Yogurt or sour cream & chives (garnish)

Directions
Bake squash about 45 minutes at 350°. Allow to cool; cut in half, remove seeds and core. Combine stock, apples and onion in stockpot or dutch oven. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add squash pulp, apple cider, lemon juice and ginger. Cover and simmer until ingredients are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Season with pepper if desired. Puree soup in batches in blender or processor (I used my new immersion blender, loved it!). Ladle into bowls. Garnish with yogurt or sour cream and chives.

Kitchen Basics Recipe

Slow-Cooker Lasagna

Another recipe from Kraft foods. I thought it needed more flavor, but Joe didn't. I turned on the slow cooker before I left for work, so it was on low for over 8 hours. That's definitely too long and I think that's why it dried it out. I wouldn't push six hours if you're going to make it. I'd also only use 1/2 pound of ground beef next time since I thought it was too meaty.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. ground beef (I'd recommend 1/2 pound)
1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 container (15 oz.) BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Ricotta Cheese
1 pkg. (7 oz.) KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1/4 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1 egg
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (I used 1 tbsp of dried parsley flakes)
6 lasagna noodles, uncooked

DIRECTIONS

BROWN meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and water. Mix ricotta, 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, egg and parsley.

SPOON 1 cup meat sauce into slow cooker; top with layers of half each of the noodles, broken to fit; and cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups meat sauce. Top with remaining noodles, broken to fit; cheese mixture and meat sauce. Cover with lid.

COOK on LOW 4 to 6 hours or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses; let stand, covered, 10 min. or until melted.

(Second photo from Kraft's website)

Slow-Cooker Lasagna

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pilsbury Easy Frost Review


I think Pillsbury has a great idea here, but I'm not completely sold only because I think I could get more aesthetically pleasing results with my icing bag and knowing exactly how much pressure I'm applying. That being said, if I don't want to make my own icing, this is great. It's so fast to squeeze the icing on and I don't have to worry about spreading cake crumbs. Plus, it's one less bowl to clean up if I'm not making my own icing. Taste wise, I tried the vanilla dream and found it as sugary delicious as all other canned icing.

Joe loved the Easy Frost! He had a blast playing around with it and loved that his name could fit on a cupcake. Thank goodness the child will never die in at least one of us!

Chili's Enchilada Soup

Once again I failed to read the servings before making the recipe, and lo and behold, I made enough soup to serve 16-20 people! This wouldn't be as bad if Joe was willing to try it and eat some, but of course not.

I didn't read the recipe before hand, so I started in a large pot....umm...that wasn't large enough, so mid way I had to pour everything into the largest pot I had on hand--what'd I'd call my crab steaming pot if we could actually buy live crabs in Omaha.

Either way, I thought the soup was pretty close to Chili's and definitely worth making again, but perhaps only a 1/3 of the recipe next time. Here's the recipe with my adaptations.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup Vegetable oil

1/4 cup Chicken base (I used 1/2 chicken stock)

3 cups diced Yellow Onions

2 tsp. ground Cumin

2 tsp. Chili Powder

2 tsp. granulated Garlic (I grated two cloves instead)

1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper

2 cups Masa Harina (I used 2 1/2 cups)

4 quarts Water (divided)

2 cups crushed Tomatoes

1 can diced chiles (not in original recipe)

1 lb. processed American cheese, cut in small cube (Velveeta)

3 lb. cooked, cubed chicken


DIRECTIONS:


In large pot, place oil, chicken base, onion and spices. Saute until onions are soft and clear, about 5 minutes In another container, combine Masa Harina with 1 quart water. Stir until all lumps dissolve. Add to sauted onions, bring to boil. Once mixture starts to bubble, continue cooking 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. This will eliminate any raw taste from Masa harina. Add remaining 3 quarts water to pot. Add tomatoes; let mixture return to boil stirring occasionally. Add cheese to soup. Cook stirring occasionally, until cheese melts. Add chicken; heat through.


Makes 1 1/2 gallons or 16-20 servings.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Saw a miracle today

For the next four weeks I'm on pediatric cardiology. One of our patients today had a heart transplant at about 1 year of age. Before her transplant, she fell sick and her heart gave out. My attending physician said he performed CPR on her for 45 minutes. I really wish you could see this kid today and how normal she is. If you saw her in the mall, you'd have no idea she has a new heart and was almost dead.

Cases like above really challenge my thoughts on what I'd want for me and my kids when the time comes. Medically, this girl probably shouldn't have survived, but she did because the attending never gave up hope. My father-in-law likely shouldn't be around either (he has nine lives, I swear), but my mother-in-law refused to turn off the life support and he's now seen 12 years since then. Sometimes too much knowledge is dangerous and I hope when the time comes, my medical training will be pushed aside and my faith will kick in.

While I am extremely happy our patient today had a transplant and is doing so well, I can't forget another kid had to die so she could have a heart. Family, I am sorry for your loss and you did a remarkable thing by donating your child's organs. Thank you.

Donate Life

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let's hear it for the masks!


I'm back in Omaha and in light of the swine flu, the Children's hospital out here is mandating universal face masks for everyone. Even if we're not sick, whenever we see a patient, we need to wear a mask. The patients need to wear a mask. The parents need to wear a mask. Heck, if the kid brought a baby doll, they'd probably have to wear a mask too. Seriously though, I guess this is good and a necessary precaution, but I miss being able to see the social smile of the kids or trying to connect with them by making funny faces. I just hope they don't mandate universal gowning next.

(I feel like Michael Jackson always wearing a mask).

I think Joe likes BBQ...

I do 90% of the cooking at our house and I was gone for four weeks doing a rotation. While gone, I gave Joe a hard time about what he was cooking. I predicted lots of chicken tenders and pizza. Well, I think Joe had a chicken tender binge last week. Of the five plates in the dishwasher, all were covered with BBQ sauce. As Joe says, "BBQ makes everything taste good."

Let's Talk About My Traps

My trapezius muscles, that is. Everyone carries her stress somewhere, I carry mine in my trapezius muscles, the green in the image above. As much as I try to stretch them, they are almost always tight, I mean painfully tight to the point my shoulders are contracted forward. Yesterday I had a massage and the therapist said, "So, are you a nurse or a doctor? They're usually the ones who's muscles are as jacked up as yours." Close enough--med student. Unfortunately, she's not the the only therapist who's noticed how tight my traps are, especially as compared to my other muscles. Fortunately, massage helps loosen the muscles, but here lies the problem, massages aren't cheap. This year I enrolled in Massage Envy's membership, which gives me discounted massages, but it still adds up and it'll be one of the first expenses to go. I might just have to insist on Joe learning how to give me a shoulder massage :p

And some more rambling...although my traps get painfully tight, I'm fortunate they don't cause headaches. Thank goodness for small blessings.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Baltimore Gas Prices

For the most part, gas prices in Baltimore are about the same as in Omaha, but I can't get over the range of prices around the area. I usually expect the stations near the highways to be 10 cents more, but I've noticed that's no longer the case. Just driving about 6 miles to the Chick-fil-a today, I saw a range of 15 cents, with no real correlation with the highway. Come on gas stations, it's one thing to be a couple cents different, but 15 cents?!?! That just doesn't make sense and shows how much some people mark up gas.

And yes, I had to get one last visit to Chick-fil-a before going back to Omaha who hasn't been blessed with the yumminess of the establishment.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Displaced Ravens Fans


I think this might be my new favorite photo of Joe and me. I've been in Baltimore for the past 4 weeks doing a rotation at a local hospital. Joe flew in two weeks ago to visit and we were fortunate enough to go to a Ravens game while he was here. I was trying to correct the colors and somehow made the purple pop. I think I desaturated all of the colors but red, and somehow ended up with this picture. I really don't think I could do it again, but either way, I love this effect. Too bad the Raves lost that day. Oh well.

All things must end

So it seems my time in Baltimore has come to an end, at least temporarily. It was nice being back in the neck of the woods, but I realized I don't miss Baltimore. Don't get me wrong, I miss my friends and family in Baltimore, but not the city itself. I don't miss the pot holes, the traffic, the crime, the cost of living, and I'm sure there's more. I never thought I'd be sad to leave Omaha, but I think I will be. I'll get over it quickly though, don't worry.

I'm excited to fly back to Omaha tomorrow to get back to our home we established. I miss seeing Joe everyday and our little lifestyle. I'm doing pediatric cardiology next, so I'm hoping to have some more time to catch up on baking and reading. We'll see.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sorry Bella

I'm staying with my parents while I do my rotation in Baltimore. When I arrived home today, I was greeted by Bella, the family shitzu. My brother's shin guard hung from her mouth and I immediately started reprimanding her for chewing our stuff. I attempted to pull the shin guard out of her mouth, but it wouldn't budge, so I pulled harder. Then I realized she wasn't biting down on anything--the velcro of the shin guard was stuck in her fur! I felt so bad! I didn't mean to try to pull her fur out. After calming her down enough to realize I wasn't going to try to pull her hair out again, I was able to cut the fur. Poor girl. I really thought she was chewing it and just wouldn't let go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Funny Swine Flu Photo

One of my dear friends sent this to me and I just had to share. It's no lie that Swine Flu is hitting us hard, but at least we have the resources for this pandemic. I loved how this picture had masked on the other characters, because it's so true. We isolate all of our flu patients and I feel like I'm gowning for almost every patient on the floor. I wouldn't be surprised if stocks in hospital isolation gear have gone up.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ravens Gnome




I don't know why, but Joe has an affinity for gnomes. I think it all started when Travelocity used a gnome as their mascot, but I could be wrong. Either way, when I see gnomes I automatically think of Joe. While I was at the mall this past weekend, I ran across the Baltimore Ravens gnome. I had never seen it before and I knew I had to get it for Joe. I thought, "what a perfect Christmas gift?!" The thing, it's football season now and I didn't think I could wait for Christmas. So, I ordered one and sent it to him as an early Christmas gift. He loved it! He says right now it's currently planted on our kitchen table looking over our tickets for the Ravens game this week. Let's hope the gnome is a lucky gnome!

96 hours?

Also known as four 24 hour days. Or, the amount of time I spent at the hospital this past week. Of my first 7 days, 4 of them were on duty. Needless to say I haven't seen anybody in Baltimore other than my parents and brother yet. Now, you might be thinking, "Isn't that illegal?" Nope. The ACGME has duty hour requirements for residents--maximum of an average of 80 hours a week over 4 weeks. The kicker, these guidelines apply only to residents, not med students. No fear though, I chose to work that many hours last week so I can have time off this coming weekend. Joe is coming to visit and we're going to a shrimp feast and Ravens game. And, even as a resident I could work 96 hours in 7 days as long as it averages out over 4 weeks. The joys I have to look forward to next year as an intern. However, in all honesty, it's not as bad as it sounds. I love working with the kids and learning how to manage their illnesses. As long as I'm busy, the time pretty much flies. That's not to say I'm not exhausted at the end of the day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Scratch Pediatric Endocrinologist...

...off the list of future professions. I'm about 85% sure I want to go into general pediatrics, but I'm still keeping my mind open to specialties. I took an endocrinology class in undergrad and loved it. It's amazing how the body's hormones control so many things in such an ordered fashion. So, these past two weeks, I spent my time rotating in the pediatric endocrinology clinic. It was only OK for me. The endo cases themselves are interesting, but there's not much variety. Almost every patient was a growth hormone deficiency or hypothyroid patient. We'd maybe have one congenital adrenal hyperplasia patient or type one diabetes patient a day. (Most of the diabetes patients were seen by nurse practitioners). I'm not going to lie, I was bored after two weeks, I can't imagine seeing the same cases over and over my whole life. Yes, I know the patients get sick and some cases are more interesting than others, but it's just not for me. I'm realizing more and more how much I like well-child checks and the teaching opportunities for general well being general peds offers me. Plus, as a general pediatrician, I'll still see the endocrine disorders, but I'll also see lots of other things too.

Declined an Interview

It's always hard to predict how many interview invitations a fourth year med student will get and honestly, I'm not one of the most competitive med students to cross the program directors' desks. I'm a strong candidate, but there are definitely candidates above me. That being said, for pediatrics, I applied to a large number of programs, especially since Joe and I want to get closer to Baltimore. I was hoping for a 33% interview invite ratio, as of right now, I'm at over 50%. I am very grateful for this, but it's placed me in the position where I've had to decline an interview. I can't describe how I felt when I declined the interview and withdrew my application. Yes, it wasn't an ideal location based on our other offerings so far, but the program still wanted to give me a chance. They took the time to give my application consideration and a chance for me to learn even more about it. I know I've been fortunate to get these other interviews, but I still couldn't help having a "what if I have to scramble?" thought as I withdrew my application. My dean thinks I'll be fine matching and I'm starting to believe him, but it's still an odd feeling for me to cut strings from a program.

Post Op Appointment 2

Can you tell I'm back on rotations? No cooking, baking, or even blogging this week. Yesterday was my second post-op appointment. It's been just over 5 weeks since my surgery. My ortho doc continues to say I'm doing better than expected, so that's good.

As mentioned, last week was rough. I was the most swollen I'd ever been and limping like crazy. This week, the complete opposite. It was actually a little weird. Monday I expected to come home and be really swollen again, but nope. By today, I'm not even really limping anymore. I still feel a little weak walking down stairs and I can't squat as low as normal yet. I'm making progress!

The doc would like me to build some more quad muscle before I try to start running. I don't want to undo any progress we've made, so I'll hold off a little longer. I admit, I'm starting to get tired of my knee exercises. They're all about strength training and I'm more of a cardio girl. Either way, I'm keeping them up, no fear.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pumpkin Sausage Baked Ziti


After going to the store today and not finding more pumpkin, I knew I had to use the half of a can I had left from this weekend's baking. I just couldn't justify tossing it. I love to bake, but I'm a little tied of pumpkin desserts. I found this recipe on Nestle's site and knew it was a go. Since I only had 1/2 a can of pumpkin, I halved everything else, plus Joe won't eat it anyway. I'd love to make this again. Perhaps for my family when I'm home next month. I'm afraid they'll not like the spinach, but it's really subtle. Recipe adapted from Nestle.

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 cups (12 oz.) dry regular or whole-wheat ziti
  • 1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Fat Free Milk
  • 4 links (12 oz.) fully-cooked Italian-seasoned chicken sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices I used 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 pkg. (6 oz.) or about 4 cups pre-washed baby spinach I used one package of frozen chopped spinach, heated
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded part-skim or 2% milk reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1.5 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese - Didn't have any on hand, so didn't use

Directions

PREHEAT oven to 425º F. Spray 4-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

PREPARE pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and set aside for later use. Drain pasta; return to cooking pot.

MEANWHILE, COMBINE pumpkin, flour, garlic powder, salt, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in medium skillet over medium heat. Slowly add evaporated milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken slightly. Pour over pasta in pot. Add sausage and reserved pasta cooking water; stir well.

SPREAD half of the pasta mixture into prepared baking dish. Top with spinach. Cover with remaining pasta mixture. Lightly spray piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Cover ziti with foil, greased-side-down.

BAKE for 20 minutes or until heated through. Combine mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses in small bowl. Remove foil; sprinkle with cheese mixture. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese


I have an uncanny affinity towards pumpkin. This wouldn't be so bad if Joe liked pumpkin, but he has his mind set that he doesn't. I've been hearing about fellow nesties on the What's Cooking board having problems finding pumpkin in the stores and I thought I had been spared. Not. so. fortunate. This makes me sad. I'm hoping a shipment will have arrived by my next grocery trip.

Well, enough rambling and onto the cream cheese. I didn't have any agave nectar, so I left it out at first. I've since added honey instead, but I've yet to try it. The cream cheese is a nice change. It's not too sweet (at least without the honey), but just enough to top some wheat bagels. Recipe from Gina's WW Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 12 Serving Size: 1 oz Calories: 63 Points: 1.5 pts
  • 8 oz Philadelphia 1/3 fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (canned is fine)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and beat until smooth. You can easily 1/4 or halve this recipe if you wish to make less.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ugh. Parents!


As a future pediatrician, I know that I am going to deal with all types of parents and I'm going to disagree with their parenting on a fairly regular basis. My pet peeve right now--wrestling! I don't know much about wrestling, but I know before each match the kid has to weigh in. Well parents, when your kid grows an inch, it's OK that he's gained 10 pounds, especially when he's still on the same percentage of the growth curve. So parent, you should not be telling him he's going home and running to lose those ten pounds so he can weigh into the lower weight class. Come on! Let your kid grow and accept he may not win as many matches in the next weight class, but that's where his body's supposed to be!

A med student's gripe about electronic medical records.

Overall, I think electronic medical records (EMR) are the way to go for health care. From a med student's perspective however, they can be very frustrating and actually impede my learning. The thing is, EMR can only work if everyone who's caring for the patient has access to a computer. Right now the resident and I share a computer, and the fact of the matter, we only have access to this computer because one of the doctor's is on maternity leave. A large part of receiving adequate medical care is continuity. When I don't have have access to a computer, the only information I know about a patient is a one sentence chief complaint. Hence, I waste time and fee like an idiot getting the background that they've already given.

This isn't my only experience with EMR. It's a problem at a lot of the hospitals as well. So, when everyone makes the switch to EMR, please, please, please have enough computers for the med students as well!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I want this ornament.



I saw this ornament in Hallmark a couple of weeks ago and I so want it! The thing is, I'm not pregnant. I don't feel like I can justify buying it without actually expecting. That being said, perhaps I could buy it and save it... Who knows. Now if one of my dear friends decides to get pregnant, I think I'll have the perfect gift! So you know who you are, well at least I know I'm thinking of two, keep trying! My fingers are crossed for you.

Oh, in case you can't tell, she's holding ice cream in one hand and pickles in the other.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Reasons not to bake tomorrow

1. With all of my cooking the last two weeks, I've gained 3-5 pounds. The caramel apple cream cheese bars are what really did me in.

2. I'm back to clinic, aka standing 6-10 hours. My knee is SWOLLEN! My doc doesn't have clinic tomorrow, so I have the day off. I really really should just keep my feet up all day to help the swelling go down.

3. Joe would prefer I never cook or bake ever...well, that I never use dishes, drop flour, make any sort of mess in the kitchen, etc. Last Sunday he asked that I don't bake or try new recipes on Sundays because he has to pay attention to football and doesn't want to worry about how big of a mess I'm making in the kitchen. The thing is, no matter how well I clean up after myself, Joe feels be must basically disinfect everything.

Even though I found some pumpkin recipes I'm dying to try out, I truly think I'll try to hold off tomorrow. We'll see.

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Day Back

Ahh, it feels good to be back on rotations, seeing patients, and using my brain for clinical knowledge again. That being said, I'm tired as all heck! My knee is a little more swollen than yesterday. OK, actually, it's the most swollen it's been since surgery. I took an ice pack with me and iced during lunch. I'll keep that up. The hardest part is being on my feet so long. Clinic really isn't a desk job, plus we're walking around a lot. I was a bad girl and didn't do my exercises today. I figured 8 hours of standing was enough PT for today. I didn't want to shock my body too much all at once. Anyway, I'll pick back up with my exercises tomorrow. No more baking for awhile. Once I get home from clinic and do my exercises, I'm plopping my butt on the couch and putting my feet up.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back to School Tomorrow

My two weeks off for recovery has come to an end, and my knee's the most swollen it's ever been, go figure. I'm excited to go back to rotations tomorrow. As much as I loved having the time to try tons of new recipes and surfing the internet, it's time for it to end. Joe is ecstatic I won't be trashing the kitchen as often. I clean up afterward, but no matter what, he feels the need to clean up again after me.

Overall, my recovery's still going well. I pushed myself at physical therapy a little hard this week. That, along with my desire to "just try one more recipe," contributed to my knee swelling. I'm really curious to see how swollen it is by the end of the work day tomorrow. Fortunately I think I'll only be at clinic for about 8 hours, but I'll find out tomorrow. The swelling isn't really painful, just annoying and an indicator that I'm doing too much. What can I say? I'm an overachiever in all senses of the word.
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