Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sisters, Ink

Sisters, Ink (Sisters, Ink #1) Sisters, Ink by Rebeca Seitz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
While I'm not as active in my scrapbooking as I used to be, I was excited to read a book about scrapbooking. I really don't know how I expected the scrapbooking to be weaved into the book. I liked how the characters used scrapbooking as gatherings and time to talk about their feelings and life, but I didn't like how the author referred to brand names. I didn't feel it was necessary to call a brand of paper out. Rather, I would have gotten the same point if she said, "and Tandy grabbed some paper." But that's just me.

Story wise, it was very predictable. I could tell you how it will end by the second chapter. I felt the dialogue was a little forced at times, but that might be because I knew what was going to happen next, it was so predictable.

Overall, it was a feel good read, address good life points, and showed the importance of family. I likely won't be reading the rest of the series.

View all my reviews >>

Do you have a mustache?

Oh the questions my darling husband asks. This weekend, with a look of shock on his face, asked, "Hey, do you have a mustache?" Damn him. He's noticed my peach fuzz. Yes, I have some and when I'm as ghostly pale as I get in the winter, the hairs are more noticeable. See, I usually get my lip waxed, but I haven't waxed it since December, so I guess it's time. And...has he not noticed it before in the 10 years we've been together? I won't ask.

As a funny... Mom has a little peach fuzz too--she's the one who taught me about lip waxing. Over the years, she's taken to asking my younger brother if he notices her mustache. When he says yes, that's her indicator that it's time for a wax. About a year ago, my 12 year old brother went up to Mom and said, "I know you didn't ask, but you need your mustache done." Yup, he'll make a good husband one day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pizza Sauce

I've never made pizza sauce before. I can't tell if I love this one yet or not. I think at least I want a little more sugar, but less of something else--I just can't figure out what spice. I guess it'll be a trial and error from here. Overall, I enjoyed it.

Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.

Makes enough for 2 large pizzas.

15-oz can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients.

Pizza Dough

I wanted to give calzones a try (future post) and needed some pizza dough. I've seen many bloggers recommend Baking Illustrated, so off I went to pull out my copy. Overall, I thought it was pretty simple and tasty. I haven't tried making the dough for a regular pizza yet, but I think I'll still like it.

Recipe from Baking Illustrated pages 153-155.

We [Baking Illustrated] find the food processor is the best tool for making pizza dough. However, only a food processor with a capacity of at least 11 cups can handle this much dough. You can also knead this dough by hand or in a standing mixer (see the variations that follow). Unbleached all-purpose flour can be used in a pinch, but the resulting crust will be less crisp. If you want to make pizza dough in the morning and let it rise on the counter all day, decrease the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon and let the covered dough rise at cool room temperature (about 68 degrees) until doubled in size, about 8 hours. You can prolong the rising time even further by refrigerating the covered dough for up to 16 hours and then letting it rise on the counter until doubled in size, which will take 6 to 8 hours.


1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl


1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor (I used a stand mixer, see directions below), pulsing to combine. Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.

3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by h and for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough into a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

Pizza Dough Kneaded by Hand
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead combine the salt and half the flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic 7 to 8 minutes, using as little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

Pizza Dough Kneaded in a Standing Mixer
Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead place the flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

Pioneer Woman Salsa

I made this salsa about a month ago. When I first made it, I thought it tasted too tomato-ey for me, but after it sat a day or two, I liked it much better. I don't think it's my go to salsa, but it was still fun to make. When we had an impromptu party at our house after Match Day I was glad to see the salsa was still edible. No fear, I tasted it before serving. My friends said they really liked it, so that's good at least. Joe hasn't been on a salsa kick, so there is still quite a lot in our fridge. It might be time to chuck it now.

Recipe from Pioneer Woman

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Diet Red Velvet Cupcakes

I've never really tried Red Velvet cake before and wanted to give it a try. I found a diet version and said, "what the heck." Yeah. I don't know why I ever thought a diet cupcake could taste good. Even with my addition of an extra 1/4 cup of sugar in the batter and extra confectioner sugar in the icing I wasn't satisfied. I've been using whole wheat flour in my muffins, but this was the first time I tried it in a cake mix. Definitely a no no! I feel like the cupcakes are too mealy and I think it's because of the whole wheat flour. Either way, I attempted to make chocolate Easter eggs to decorate the icing, so I still wanted to take a picture and blog about them.

Since I never plan to make these again, I won't write up the recipe. However, it can be found on Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes.

Update: I shared these with my classmates today and they said they liked them, so it might just be my taste buds.

Fix It Friday - 48

I know I'm a couple of days late, but it's still fun and useful to give the editing an attempt.  I've downloaded quite a few actions from Coffee Shop, but I've yet to give them a try. For today's edit, I used Coffee Shop's Perfect Portrait action following the wonderful tutorial from Texas Chick. Let me just say, I love this action! I definitely need to play around with it more to become more efficient, but it's so nice having everything in one place.

Here's the before: 
And my edit:
I'm still not completely satisfied with the skin tone, but I can only try so much at once. Either way, I definitely think it has fewer shadows and better coloring.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Year of Wonders

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
So it seems right now that the only books I'm finishing are audio books.  I can't seem to let myself sit down and enjoy a paper book.  I feel like I have so many other things I need to do.

This wasn't my favorite Brooks book I've read, but I did enjoy it.  I believe Brooks did a wonderful job capturing the emotions and limited thinking of the era.  Death and disease can destroy people and Brooks hit that nail on the head.

I also liked seeing how Anna grew in many ways.  Brooks explored her thoughts of being a mother, her thoughts on religion, and her struggles with being in a lower class.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.

View all my reviews >>

My Sister's Keeper

Today was my last day of my pediatric blood and cancer rotation. Dumb me decides to watch My Sister's Keeper tonight. I won't even go into how I didn't like how different the ending was from the book.

Having read the book, I knew the context of the movie.  I knew it was about a girl with cancer.  I knew it would make me cry.  I never realized I'd be thinking about a patient the whole way through the movie.

Unfortunately, any cancer patient can take a turn for the worst, but there are definitely some who have bad prognoses at the beginning.  Four weeks ago I met a patient who's prognosis is death.  With the treatments we have now, we know we can't cure it.  We've kept the tumor small enough with chemo that he's been able to spend time being a kid and being with his family.  I saw him in clinic at least once every week I was there.  I know he's going to die.  I learned about his family.  I got to know his mom a little.  I saw a picture of him before he started his cancer drugs.  I've seen him progress.  I worry how much longer he has.  I thought about him the whole time I watched My Sister's Keeper tonight.  I couldn't leave the pain and sadness in Hollywood.  Kate wasn't a character in a movie, she was a patient I helped treat this month.  She was real.  Cancer is real.  Death is real.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kids and Cancer

Cancer. It's that 5 letter word practically everyone dreads to hear. Unfortunately, it's very real in many people's lives. For the past month or so, I've been rotating through a pediatric hematology-oncology clinic and it's truly opened my eyes to what families affected by cancer go through.

So far in my life, I've had two direct contacts with cancer. I was 12 when my grandmother passed away from sepsis secondary to her leukemia. I remember her having to go through chemo, but I never grasped what that entailed. My mother-in-law battled and won bilateral breast cancer about 5 years ago. While I was old enough to comprehend things, since I didn't live with her, I don't think I understood how intensive treatment was, how often she got chemo, etc.  I was also dealing with my own anger towards the situation and I admit I did not attempt to understand her process as much as I should have.

Even though I had the two cancer interactions above, it took me rotating through a cancer clinic to start to comprehend how life-changing this is. (I don't think I'll ever know unless I personally have to go through it myself.)

I just want to give you an example and imagine being the parent of this child.

Your 4 year old doesn't have the energy he used to have. At first you thought it was because he had a cold and fever. However it seems that this cold just won't go away. You've also noticed that he looks pale and has new bruises. You've had enough and take him to the doctor hoping to get some antibiotics to treat this cold. Your pediatrician wants to get a blood count.

The blood count comes back showing your son has severely decreased numbers of white cells (infection killing cells), red blood cells, hemoglobin (the stuff in the blood that carries oxygen), and platelets (what help your blood clot). Your pediatrican tells you it looks like your child very well could have leukemia and she wants you to go to the hospital to see the cancer doctors.

So, now your day has drastically changed. Who's going to pick up the other kids from school? When are you going to finish that last errand? But not only that, why does my kid have to go to the hospital? He just had an infection he couldn't get over.

So the cancer docs come in and say they agree. It's very likely your child has leukemia. However, we won't know for sure what kind he has until we do more tests. The docs tell you they are going to have to put your son to sleep so they can test his bone marrow and do a spinal tap. What? Now my kid is having general anethesia?  What if something goes wrong?

So the bone marrow results come back and they confirm your kid has leukemia.  Treatment will start immediately.   You'll be spending at least the next week in the hospital getting chemo for your little boy.  Your little boy who was just playing games at home two days ago.  If he's not too sick, you may be able to go home after a week, but he can't go out.  He can't go to school.  He can't go to church.  He can't be around anybody with a cold.  He's going to lose his hair.  He's going to be tired.  You're going to be tired.  He's going to be on steroids.  He might be irritable.  He might be a sloth.  He'll be constantly hungry.  You'll be wondering why this happened to you.  You'll be missing work to take your kid to the clinic to get chemo or blood counts at least twice a week.

All at the same time, life around you goes on.  Your other kids need their parents.  Your employer is hopefully understanding, but can't just let you disappear.  Hopefully you're in the same city as the cancer clinic, but you may live 3 hours away. 

After the month of intensive therapy is over, your little boy can finally go back to school.  You start to rest a little easier.  But wait, he needs more treatment?  Yes.  He gets about a month off and then goes through this all over again.  After that month, he'll enter maintenance therapy, but that's as long as he's responding to treatment.  You're constantly worried the drugs aren't working.  You're constantly worried your little boy will get an infection he can't fight.  You're overwhelmed with the number of hours you spend in the cancer clinic.  You're overwhelmed with the number of drugs he has to take during the day.  You're trying to find time to maintain your relationship with your spouse.  You're trying to find time to make sure your other kids feel loved too.  You're stretched thin.

Sometime in there, your son needs surgery to place a port under his skin to help deliver the chemo.  This helps save hundreds of pokes in the veins.  You have to go see another doctor for this and take another day off work.

The hospital bills start coming.  Hopefully you have good insurance, but it's still overwhelming seeing all of the forms.

Wait.  Your son has a fever.  You can't just blow it off.  You call the cancer doctor and they tell you to come into clinic.  Your son is poked again.  They draw blood cultures and counts.  His neutrophil count is below 500.  Time to go back to the hospital.  He's too sick to fight this on his own.  He needs IV antibiotics.

Finally, you reach what the cancer doctor calls "maintenance therapy."  You give your son a chemo pill every night.  You take him to clinic once a month for chemo IV drugs.  You pray he doesn't get an infection or fever and need to be admitted to the hospital.  You do this for 3 years.

The 3 years of maintenance therapy are over.  You son is in the 2nd grade now.  He's been fighting this leukemia almost half his life.   The doctors tell you he's cured.  You're happy and want to celebrate, but know there is a small chance this could come back.  You try to live as normal a life as you can and never forget this time in your life. 

This is only one example and it's a good one.  I've seen kids who've lost their bowel and bladder control because a tumor is on their spinal cord.  I've seen kids who have relapsed and had to go through treatment all over again.  I've seen parents who have lost their jobs and insurance because they had to take so much time off to travel the 3 hours to clinic a couple of times a week.  I've seen kids who can't go to the soccer tournament they've trained for because the annoying lump in the neck was cancer.  I've seen kids who are going to die.

I've seen the reality of cancer.

Fortunately, a lot of childhood cancers are very treatable, but I don't think society appreciates what treatment entails and how much it affects a whole family's lifestyle.  I know I didn't until this month.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Resisting the Urge

Ahh, it's real! Today I received the names and emails of my fellow pediatric interns and our orientation schedule. I can't wait to meet them and start the next chapter in our lives. Really, it's so exciting and making graduation feel more real!

So, what's this urge I'm resisting? I want to find my classmates on Facebook and start to get to know them now! But, I wouldn't really want fellow classmates to have a first impression of me via Facebook, so I won't go looking. While I'm a fan of social networks, I still prefer real life first impressions. So, here's to trying to stay strong!

Nutella Banana Muffins

Last weekend I woke up craving a crepe with nutella and banana. I didn't feel like making crepes, so I decided to give banana muffins with nutella a try. Truthfully, while these muffins were tasty, it wasn't the nutella flavor for which I was looking. Next time I want nutella and banana muffins, I think I'll just go back to this yumminess I made this fall.

Recipe adapted from Crepes of Wrath.


1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 very ripe large bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup Nutella


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, nutella, melted butter, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula, lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined and the batter is thick and chunky. (The important thing is not to over mix the batter).

4. Scrape batter into prepared muffin tin. Bake until muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes (25 minutes for jumbo muffins). Yields 24 regular muffins.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

DelaWhere? - Match Results

One of my friends asked for a "Match Day Story," recounting the events and emotions of the day. So here goes.

Let's start with the night prior. I came home from clinic very relaxed and tired, so I took a 3 hour nap. Very nice. I think that's the sleep that let me get through Match Day.

Dilly dallied for the rest of the evening, watched a movie, tried falling asleep. Yeah, that didn't go so well. I really don't even know how many hours of sleep I got, but it definitely wasn't that many.

Although we didn't need to leave the house until about 9:15, but circadian rhythms didn't let me sleep past seven.

I tried distracting myself by reading blogs and online message forums, but that didn't last too long. I didn't want to be rushing, so then I did my hair and make-up. Yeah, once I was "made-up," I was totally ready to leave, but I still had 45 minutes to wait.
Come on time!

Joe wakes up and hops in the shower. He says he can hear me pacing from the shower and to just relax. I could not believe how calm Joe was. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't really nervous, but I was definitely anxious. We've been wondering where we're going to live for so long now and the day finally came. But...just because it's the date on the calendar, we still have to wait until the ceremony. I'm supposed to be the calm one in our relationship. What's up?

So, we're out of the house, on the way to the ceremony. Joe says I'm a bad driver to begin with (I disagree), but I definitely was riding people's butts a little (bad, I know).

The student center has a bar on campus and the school opened it for our class just before the ceremony. Yes, some of us had mimosas at 10 am. Prior to starting the ceremony, we had a brief class meeting to talk about graduation. We were told we'd start opening our envelopes as soon as the meeting was over. So, of course, I had in my mind the sooner we get to the ceremony site, the sooner the meeting starts, and the sooner we get to open our envelopes. So get your butts upstairs, classmates! Yeah, that was not the case. The meeting was supposed to start at 10:30 and it didn't start until 10:45. Yes, I know fifteen minutes isn't a long time, but it felt like eternity.
So Joe popped open the Diet Pepsi I asked him to bring (it's his equivalent to a morning cup of coffee).

Finally, the meeting starts. I'm not paying any attention at all... Thank goodness they handed out a paper with all of the information as well.

And then the ceremony starts! One of our deans pulled the envelopes out of a large box and handed them to our class president. The class president then announced who was next and who was on deck.

Drumroll, the first envelope goes to--not me. I really wasn't surprised about that. I don't know how many people went, probably about 12 or so, and then we hear, "on deck, Amanda..." my heart stops, I look at Joe, he looks like his heart stopped... "not my last name." Whoa. Then I realize there are about 4 or 5 Amanda's in my class and this could happen again. Brace yourself.

Then, right after the Amanda above, we hear, "Amanda not my last name up and Amanda my last name on deck." I let out a little yelp and jumped a little out of my seat. I really wasn't expected two Amanda's in a row. I then quickly apologize for my little yelp to those around me.

Joe and I walk up to the stage and wait our turn. Joe says my face looks like I'm freaking out. I think I was.

I didn't realize how nervous I really was until I saw myself on video. The school broadcasted it live through the internet. If you want to see me constantly readjusting my skirt until Marley finally hands me the envelope, I think I'm at about 35 minutes. Live Stream

I have this annoying habit of getting a super high pitched voice when I'm nervous. By this point, I was no longer anxious, I was down right nervous. To make disappointment easier, I'd been telling myself I was not going to get my #1. However, all week I had this inkling that it was going to be duPont. I didn't want that inkling to get the better of me. I think I was shaking as I opened the envelope.

After I read off my specialty (pediatrics) in one of the highest voices ever, I start reading "my match." But wait, I'm confused. The paper says duPont, but it also says it's in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. No, I want the one in Wilmington, Delaware. Oh that's right, it's part of Jefferson Medical College, which is in Philly, duh Amanda. Oh, no. My girls (watching the feed) are probably confused too since I said Philly. (So I proceed to verbalize it's duPont, the one I wanted.) Ok, now to hug Joe. Wait, where is he? Was he to my right, left, or behind me? Is he really ok we're moving to Delaware? Ahh, there he is, and he's smiling ear to ear. That's a good sign.

We then proceed to walk out of the ballroom so we can call our parents.

I get a hold of Mom. Unfortunately, she didn't have Windows Media Player installed on her work computer and she didn't get to see it live. I called just as IT support arrived at her desk. As I tell mom the good news, I tear up. Good tears of course. I can finally let myself officially fall in love with duPont without being disappointed I'm somewhere else.

Joe tries to call his parents, but they're not home. We definitely had a little WTF moment. But let it pass. Perhaps we forgot to tell them what time we'd be calling. (We got a hold of them later in the day though).

So with the phone calls made, we moved back to the ballroom and I start some mad texting. Fortunately I didn't miss any of my close friends reading their match while we were in the hall.

Match ceremony proceeded, some friends were super happy, some were a little disappointed, but we got through it. By this time, it's only 12:30, so the day is young. However, I'm tired of typing and will end it here. Plus, I think this might be the longest post I've ever wrote.

*Screen shots courtesy of my dear friend, Maricel.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Alchemist

The Alchemist The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is another book that I've heard so many wonderful things about. I enjoyed it and it was a nice spiritual journey, but it definitely wasn't one of the best books I've ever read.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I will write more later, but for now between celebrations I will let you know, WE'RE MOVING TO DELAWARE! I can't express how excited I am that we're getting back East, but still at a place we can afford. OK, so it seems the celebration has moved to my house and they're downstairs partying so I better join them...

I just wanted to update my virtual friends! Thanks for your support!

The Red Tent

The Red Tent : A Novel The Red Tent : A Novel by Anita Diamant

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
First off, the narrator was wonderful! She had an absolutely calming and serene voice.

The book, it was a nice story. And that's exactly what I felt it was, a story about the narrator. It wasn't predictable, but it was a page turner either.

Polygamy is very present in this novel. I felt the author did a wonderful job of describing a woman's feelings, especially since little history is known from the time period.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The 3 Day Wait

So there are about 3 days from when I find out that I matched and when I find out where I matched. Yesterday wasn't too bad. Today was absolute torture! I couldn't help but think that there was an envelope in my med school stating where I'm going. It's out there. It's no longer a mystery. It's only a couple of miles from where I worked. And of course, clinic was super slow today so I had plenty of time to brood and think about it.

I've been waiting for Match Day to come along for so long that it's hard to believe it's finally here. I'm so excited that it's only a couple of hours, well a little over half a day, away and we'll be able to start planning our move!

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I have a slight Celtic obsession. I hoped to take pictures and tell you more about, but the fact of the matter is, I'm too lazy right now. All I want to do is eat dinner and either read or cross stitch. So imaginary readers, that's what I'm going to do. I'll still probably blog about it at some time, but it won't be posted on St. Patty's day like I wanted. Oh well.

One more work day until Match Day!

Monday, March 15, 2010


Today was "scramble day." Here's a time line of events:

10:00 am - medical schools are notified of students who didn't match and need to "scramble" to find a spot by Thursday.
10:30 am - students are notified if they didn't match.
11:00 am - students are notified via email that they've matched somewhere.

My time line of events today:

10:00 am - start checking my email every five minutes. Try not to think about scrambling as I see patients.
10:30 am - no email saying I didn't match. Breath a sigh of relief, but I'm still waiting for the 11 o'clock email saying that I matched.
10:40 am - my cell phone rings. I look to see who's calling. It's a Nebraska number. My heart starts racing. I'm talking to the attending presenting a patient. I can't concentrate. I tell her I have to excuse myself and take the phone call--it could be the dean calling to tell me I have to scramble. End up missing the call, but listened to the voice mail. It's Massage Envy saying I have a prepaid massage available. Umm, could they have any worse timing?!?
11:15 am - I've been caught up seeing patients, so I couldn't check my email exactly at 11. There's an email from the matching organization with the subject line "Did I Match?" What a subject line! Open the email to see that I've officially matched somewhere. Breath another sigh of relief.

Now I just have to get through the next two work days and wait to find out exactly where I've matched.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday Evening Voyages

Last night Joe and I ran some errands. In an effort to find the shortest distance, we took a new route. It ends up it wasn't any shorter time wise, but it was definitely entertaining. We discovered factories and farm land just out of Omaha we didn't know was there. We needed to cross the Missouri river and were off the interstate. We found a bridge, but it was a toll bridge. Who knew there was one so close to our home? Coming from Baltimore, we're used to grumpy toll workers in uniforms and a glass box. Not in Omaha. A pleasant elderly lady greeted us as she sat next to the other toll worker who served those going East. Yup, it was a single wooden building serving both East and West. The inside was painted a nice sage green and their desks were wooden. Far from the industrial toll booths of Baltimore.

Now the kicker. As we're driving through a fairly residential area Joe and see this sign:
It's pretty hard to miss though, isn't it? To make things better, it was across the street from a church.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes!

I love anything Irish and I've been wanting to improve my cupcake icing skills, so I decided to bake some cupcakes with a St. Patrick's Day theme. Of course I had to try some new recipes while I was at it. Joe hasn't tasted them yet, but overall, I think they're a keeper.

For the cake, I adapted Dories's Perfect Party Cake found on Annie's Eats.


2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/5 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick (1/4 pound) butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

In medium bowl, whisk egg whites and milk.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes (until light and fluffy). Beat in the vanilla. Add in flour mixture, alternating with egg mixture, in about 3 divisions. Beat at least another two minutes and ensure everything is well mixed.

Transfer batter to cupcake liners.

Bake 30-35 minutes. Cool on cooling racks. Ice when cooled.

Now onto the icing...

It's always nice trying new icing recipes, so I tried Martha Stewart's Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream icing. I enjoyed the lightness of it, but it wasn't sweet enough, but definitely rich enough. I ended up only using 3 sticks of butter and adding 1 cup of confectioner's sugar. To me, it's perfect now. Recipe adapted from the one I found on Annie's Eats.


5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
3/4 lb. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract


To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together!) Mix in 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar. When well incorporated, mix in second 1/2 cup. Stir in the vanilla extract and mix.

Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched (Queen of Babble, #3) Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I think the second book was my favorite of the series. I'm glad I came to like Lizzie more by the end of the series. I found Lizzie beyond annoying in the first book and I believe Cabot did a nice job showing how she's matured since then.

Content wise, I never really felt at the edge of my seat during this novel. However, I know this is really isn't a mystery, but sometimes it's nice to leave the reader wondering. I feel I knew the general plot of the book and it was just a matter of continuing to see how it all unfolded. Cabot brought in some diversity in terms of social issues, but it was in a "oh by the way" fashion. I don't think they added or detracted much from the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this series but I didn't fall in love with it.

View all my reviews >>

Jen's Baby Bib

It's been quite a while since I completed a cross stitch project. Heck, it's been quite a while since I did some serious cross stitching to begin with. With Jen's baby shower coming up, I knew I wanted to cross-stitch a bib for her little one. I made one way back when mom was pregnant with my little brother. I remember it didn't take too long to make, so I started it about two weeks before the shower. Umm...yeah, one of those two weeks I was still on my surgery rotation and the second I was starting a new rotation where I needed to use my evenings to catch up on reading. I found myself wondering if I'd really have enough time to finish the project. Before I left Omaha for Baltimore, I finished all of the colors and only had the back stitching left. Fortunately I finished it the evening before her shower, but I was definitely cutting it close.

As an aside, it felt so good to be cross stitching again. I don't really know what it is, but I definitely get a sense of calmness with the repetitive movements. I hope to start another project this weekend, but I've still yet to decide what design I'm going to stitch. I hope to finish it in the near future, but only time will tell. I'm ashamed to admit how many unfinished cross-stitch projects I have already.

Jen's Baby Shower

Last weekend I had the opportunity to fly back to Baltimore and attend this darling young woman's baby shower. She's been one of my best friends for nearly 8 years now. Doesn't she just radiate the pregnancy glow? And, she's all belly! When you look at her from behind, you'd never ever guess she's pregnant.

During the shower we played BABYO. It's like Bingo.

When the mom unwraps a gift, if it's on your card, mark it off. I wish I had our table on camera. We'd have small jumps of excitement when she unwrapped something that we'd been waiting for forever. I tried to be a little more lenient with the items, but some friends, cough cough, were definitely more to the book. I mean, if the clothes came on hangers, doesn't that count as "baby hangers?" Either way, it was a great time!
And here's all seven of us who've continued to remain close since high school. Jen's the first pregnant chica of our group. I was the first married, so we can't use that to predict who's next to get pregnant. Jen, however, is also the oldest of our group (by a whopping two months). Guess who's the next oldest? Yup. Me. So if we go by age, I guess I'm next up. Really though, nothing is predictable about us girls, so only time will tell.

Fix It Friday - 47

It is truly amazing what digital photo editing software, time, and patience can produce.

Here's the original:

And here's my edit:

Along with fixing colors and such, I played around with burn and dodge. I also found PSE's option to reduce photo noise. Oh what a difference it made! I thought about cropping out the blue in the lower left hand corner, but than I would lose all of the wonderful light falling on her hair.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Titan's Curse

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3) The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Another enjoying book in the series. While the first book reminded me of Harry Potter, the series is taking it's own course. It's more American, the characters aren't quite as strong, and I don't feel like I have to run and read the next book as soon as I finish. That being said, it was still an enjoyable read. It was nice to learn more about the characters and see another adventure. While I know the characters are supposed to be older in this book, I still visualize them the same age as the first book.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Are you on your period or something?"

Gals, don't you just love when your significant others ask that? It's like our menstrual cycles are the answer to any negative shift in mood.

I'll give it to Joe though, I came home today extremely grouchy. It was nice to go to Baltimore this past weekend and see some friends and family, but I feel so behind this week. Fortunately, Joe did all of our laundry, but I didn't get a chance to do any meal planning or grocery shopping. I also have some errands to run. They're not a big deal, but I'd love the floor space my returns are taking up (yes, I had a mini online shopping binge last week). Yesterday I had two meetings after work, so I didn't get a chance to go to the grocery store or anything. Basically, I just felt a little behind, I hadn't worked out in 5 days, and I hate going grocery shopping on week nights.

I knew I was grouchy, so I went right to my workout. Nope, still grouchy. Fortunately after I had some grub, my mood improved and I finally felt it was safe to try a conversation with Joe. See, when either of us are grouchy or in a very foul mood, we kindly tell the other to stay away until we feel better. This isn't an attempt to be mean, but to prevent taking frustrations out on the wrong person. It's worked out well. So, when Joe sensed I was back to my normal self, he jokingly asked, "so are you on your period or something?" When I replied it should come any day now (TMI for some, sorry), it seemed to all make sense to him. Personally, I think I just felt a little overwhelmed, but if our guys prefer to blame our moods on our menstrual cycles, so be it. That just means we can always pull out the period card if we're having a bad day, right? :p

Single Digits!

Match Day countdown is officially in the single digits! Woo hoo!

Nine days until we find out where Joe and I will be spending the next three years :-)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

To the Point of Feeling Disgusted

I try not to blog too much about my weight. I feel America focuses on weight too much and it is ridiculous how big of an industry weight-loss and exercise programs are. I feel there are so many other things on which to focus, I don’t want to concentrate on my weight. I’ve done that for too many years of my life already. That being said, this weekend I realized I feel disgusted with myself. Having gone through years of therapy to help develop a better food relationship, I always hate when I come to this point. I feel I try to eat a balanced array of foods and have my desserts in moderation. Yes, my moderation may be more indulgent than others, but I’ve been fine with that. I never expect to go back to the 123 pounds I was when I was my sickest, but I want my pants to fit again. Unfortunately, this is how my weigh-loss eating habits work. I kind of let myself go for a couple of months until I feel so disgusted I find my way back on track.

This weekend I traveled to Baltimore. Unfortunately, my trips to our hometown often involve way too much food. Right now I’m sitting in the airport uncomfortable because my jeans are too tight. It wouldn’t be so bad if these are my skinny jeans, but they’re not. I’ve really fallen off on working out diligently and I admit, I’ve been having a dessert almost every night.

So, this week, I’m going to start eating better again. I fear the word “diet,” so that’s not what I’m going to do. I need to stop eating desserts every night and feeling stuffed with almost every meal.

Before I started college, I lost 10-15 pounds to make room for the “freshman fifteen.” I’m only about 17 pounds more than that right now and that was 8 years ago, so I guess that’s not too bad. However, with the same frame of mind, I feel like I need to lose some weight now to make room for my intern year weight. I’m not hoping or expecting to gain weight intern year, but the fact of the matter is I likely will. When I’m at the hospital 80 hours a week, my workout time definitely will be compromised.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sweet Potato, Coconut, and Ginger Soup

I know I said I wasn't going to copy the recipes from the cookbooks, but I really enjoyed this one and just had to share! The flavors blend extremely well together. This isn't really a weekly soup, but definitely a nice, warm mix of flavors.

Recipe adapted from The Mixer Bible.

1 Can (14oz) Coconut Milk
1 2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubish shapes
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cumin (I kind of just sprinkled some in, so I'm estimating here)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

In a dutch oven (or large saucepan), simmer all ingredients, except the lime juice, over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Use immersion blender to puree ingredients. (The Mixer Bible instructed me to use the fruit/vegetable strainer, but I don't have one, so I just used the immersion blender). I'm sure you can put the ingredients into a blender or food processor and get the same result.

Add the lime juice. Adjust seasonings to taste.


Smokey Sweet Chicken Wings

Joe absolutely loves Glory Days wings. Unfortunately, we don't have a Glory Days in Omaha. A coupe of weeks ago I stumbled across this recipe on Steamy Kitchen. Obviously, I've never seen the recipe for Glory Days wings, but this looked like it could be a good substitute. Joe and I were not disappointed. In fact, he asked me to make them again the very next day. Given that I had just finished a 15 hour day at the hospital, I told him he had to wait. Either way, it's always a good sign when Joe asks me to make a new recipe again.

The original recipe doesn't make a sauce. Joe loves to dip his wings in a little extra sauce, so I added that here.

Recipe adapted from Greg Remp on the BBQ Central Radio Show.



3 pounds chicken wings, joints separated, tips removed (save for stock)

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper


1/2 cup brown sugar
1 clove mince garlic
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1.5 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoon chicken broth or water



Mix all of the ingredients for the dry rub. Rub on both sides of chicken wings. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (makes clean up so much easier!). Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Flip and bake another 15-20 minutes.


Melt butter in small sauce pan. Add ingredients and any remaining rub. Stir until melted. You may need to add more or less water/chicken broth to get to desired consistency.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Blog is Searchable Again!

I re-enabled the search function in my blog. I had taken it down during residency interviews to help limit my blog popping up if a residency program Googled my name. While I don't think I publish questionable content on the blog, it's always better to be safe than sorry. However, now that residency interviews are over and lists are submitted on both sides, I figure it's OK. I might even use the search function more than anyone else. I often find myself remembering a recipe but only having it saved in my blog somewhere. It's so much easier to search for the title of the recipe than go through old blog posts.

15 days until Match Day!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2) The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I truly enjoyed this sequel. I felt the first book, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, established a great foundation and character development for this book, The Girl Who Played with Fire. There are couple new characters, but Larsson still draws a lot from his previous characters

I really enjoyed learning more about Salander and seeing her develop a little more emotionally. Her character has so many facets, but yet each one seems to fit her personality and is not a stretch. I feel like she's the outcast girl that almost anyone could love if they only knew her a little more.

Once again, I loved the mystery. My audio book cut out just at the end of the book, but I was able to read the last 2 pages on Google Books. I feel it ended a little abruptly, but given there's a third in the series, I feel I can predict at least a little.

I can't wait to read the third book and I hope it's as good as this one!

View all my reviews >>

The Pilot's Wife

The Pilot's Wife The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Another book about which I've heard wonderful things, but only thought was average. Honestly, until about 3/4 into the book, I thought it was panning out like a Lifetime movie. Shreve helped by throwing a twist in the end, but I still wasn't overly impressed.

I thought the narrator did a very nice job. It was easy to tell which characters were talking when. I think I would have liked a greater pause between the present and past, but the lack of a pause didn't get me confused or keep me from enjoying the story.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's March!

I'm so excited it's March. However, I usually associate March with spring time but I can still see piles of snow outside. We did have a big meltdown today, so hopefully it'll keep up at this rate. Mom asked the other day if it felt like it's almost my birthday. Nope, my birthday happens in the spring and it's still too cold out. Last year I turned 25, which I felt was a big birthday. This year, I truly don't even feel like it's around the corner. I have other exciting things on my mind. 7 days until my birthday, but more importantly, 17 days until Match Day!!! I can't wait to find out where we're going.

I've been working on a project I hope to blog about later, so I've been slacking in the blogging and cooking departments, but that's me. Like all hobbies, I guess this one goes in waves. I have at least 3 recipes and a book to review. Plus, given that it's almost St. Patrick's day, I feel its time to discuss my slight Celtic obsession.
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