Saturday, April 24, 2010

Revisiting Childhood....

Sometimes we have very stressful and mentally/emotinally-taxing moments in our lives. And sometimes those "moments" can last for weeks. I think we have all been there. A time in life where we feel like we're being pulled in 1000 different directions at once.

Working out, getting good rest, coffee, good venting sessions, an occasional glass of wine - they can all get you through it. But there comes a time, where I think the best escape (aside from a get-away from St. Thomas.....or Hawaii.....) - is a visit to being a kid again!

So yesterday, Ryan and I had a late-afternoon date. a candy store.

Our original intentions were to purchase some supplies for our Graduation party (cups, plates, plastic silverwear, etc....) Which we did accomplish. But we also found a candy store on our way.

I let go of "health-nut Abby" for an hour, And I was brought down memory lane....

We each decided to pick out 5 different things, purchased our goodies, and headed for a long evening walk - and we got to have a "Non-school, Non-work" talk for the 1st time in DAYS.

On our list of goodies we had:
-Candy Cigarettes
-Now & Later
-Laffy Taffy (and my rule is that we HAD to read the jokes, and we HAD to laugh...) I'm cheesy.
-The long tootsie rolls.
-and best of all........
-Pop Rocks

Now, just to clarify - we didn't eat all these in one sitting! We shared to get little tastes and were sick halfway through, since candy/sweets are not a commodity in our diets!

My strongest memories involved with these candies include:
1) Candy Cigarettes. Us kids would get these at the lakes at the candy store. One of our neighbors would always light them so they tasted like roasted marshmellows. Now they call them "Candy Stix" - since apparently "candy cigarettes" will indicate future smoking in all children. (I'm not a smoker...but Hey! Some are easily influenced)

2) Pop Rocks. In elementary school, 6th grade to be exact.......I had a Religion Teacher that really wasn't the most pleasant. The funny thing is, I'm related to this teacher. But, we used to do everything to piss this teacher off as bratty little 6th graders. I remember putting Pop Rocks on my tongue, and little them crackle until she'd turn around - they I'd quickly shut my mouth.

It was so entertaining watching her wonder "Where is that sound coming from??? Is it the heater? The fan? The lights?"

What a fantastic walk down memory lane :) It definitely brought up good much-needed laughter and de-stressing!

So, what was your favorite candy from childhood??

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A little reflection :)

I am nearing my last week of psych-mental health! And almost every bone of my body wants to go get a job on a psychiatric unit right out of school and work in that area for ever!!

....But I know that is not a "wise" choice. So I know I need to stay on the ground and get some real medical nursing experience before I follow my dreams.

But the past 8 weeks, I have encountered many people who have truly changed my way of thinking. Many of the patients I cared for/observered have caused me to see life in a different light. EVen if I don't pursue a career in that area, it definitely increased my understanding & empathy.

So for one of my presentations this week, I had to incorporate a spiritual verse or poem. I happened to stumble across one; and it touched my heart.

It is referring to people with Dementia and Alzheimers Disease. I am sure that everyone knows someone who has been affected by a form of dementia. I think dementia is one of the saddest and most lonely things that can happen to a person. Can you imagine getting to a point where you don't even recognize your own reflection in the mirror?

Two instances in my life have led me to want to be a nurse; and they both involved people with this disease.

 1) My Grandpa Neil. He had a stroke, and the effects caused him to become a completely different person. I was very young when this happened, but I remember spending countless hours at the nursing home with him, and making "friends" with other patients on his unit (I was about 7 years old at this time). I never really understood what was going on, and why he didn't know who anyone was. And now I wish I could go back in time and spend time with him. I hope his nurses were caring and compassionate to him.

Sometimes, health care providers find it easy to ignore and "forget" about these patients, since "they won't remember anyways". It is a very sad reality. Because I had someone close to me with this, I will always vow to preserve every patient's dignity!

2) A woman I volunteered with at a hospital in Minneapolis for a summer. She was a retired nurse in the early stages of Alzheimers. Since her retirement, she had been a dedicated hospital volunteer - but was needing someone to help her stay on track. She was one of the most caring women I've encountered; and she will never know how much her actions affected me!

So I found this poem; and had to share it. It brought tears to my eyes! And my request to all is: if you know someone or have a relative that lives with dementia/alzheimers - spend some time with them! Just sitting with them, and talking with them - because they still have feelings and deserve friendship :)

The Lady in the Pink Sweater

They can take my meal away before I'm done;
They can talk to me like I'm dumb

They can refer to me as a "Feeder"
Fluff me up to make me look neater

They talk about me like I'm not Here
They address me as "honey" "cutie and "dear".

But there are things they can't do to me
As they insult my dignity

Oh there are things they can't do to me
They can't take away my memories

My Roles through this life cement my presence
With withered mind they call senescence

I am rich in culture, wisdom and knowledge
That medical people can't learn in college

I am a mother, a sister, a historian, a wife
I have mastered many roles throughout my life

I created warm meals in my day
I wiped my children's tears away

I cared for a close knit family
Who look up to and value me

And now I master another role
Dependent patient with golden soul

If just one of "them" would sit with me
I'd share with them this history

And if one would stay awhile
I'd teach them that I'm still God's child.

They are so busy, this I know
I have aged and have gotten slow

This I must share in written word
I may not be seen but I will be heard

They say I'm anxious, noisy and loud
This life has taught me not to be too proud

I am too many things to capture in a letter
I am so much more than the lady in the pink sweater

If you've listened from the start
I may help you find your heart.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Portobello Mushroom Pizza

I have a new favorite ingredient this week:

Portobello Mushrooms.

They are kind of pricey though....$5.99/lb? But then I have to realize how much I'm "getting", I guess!

We are, by no means, on a "low-carb diet". In fact, if anything - I eat more carbs than the norm since I'm a runner. But, I like to sub in vegetables whenever possible! And let's be honest....a portobello mushroom is must more flavorful than a flour-pizza-dough crust!

So I present you with my Portobello Mushroom Pizza!!  (I was a bad blogger-cook, and took no pictures. You can use your greatest imagination, though! :-D)

  1.  Create sauce. I did a red sauce; which involved a can of pizza sauce on the stove. I added 3 cloves of garlic, crushed red pepper, fresh parsley, and fresh basil to it.
  2. Once sauce has simmered for a few minutes, it will thicken. So you need to liquify it.Pour 1/2 cup Cabernet Savignon into measuring cup. Pour 1/4 of the wine into the sauce, drink other 1/4 cup ;)
  3. Prep portobello mushrooms. We made 4. Pull out the caps. (Apparently some take all the filling from the mushroom, but I couldn't figure out how - so just pulled off the caps.
  4. When scrubbing the mushrooms, be sure not to use too much water, as you probably know. Since mushrooms are spongy, and if too saturated will be "slimy" when grilled. Just use a wet paper-towel, and a brush to scrub them clean.
  5. Prep veggies: We used red onions, red peppers, thinly sliced roma tomatoes, black olives, and finely chopped spinach. You can get creative here!
  6. Cook meat (if you desire). We used very little meat on these; I grilled a Turkey Italian Sausage, and thinly sliced up 1/2 of it.
  7. Build the pizzas! sprinkle a little basil and garlic on the muschroom, spread a spoonful of sauce, and place your meat and veggies.
  8. Cheese it! We alternated the cheese situation on these. I can't eat cheese much, so for mine I sprinkled a little feta on. Ryan put skim mozzarella on his!
  9. Spray olive oil/pam on grill rack, and place mushrooms on it. Grill for about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. You can also bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350!
  10. Enjoy!
-Some of my research recommended to experiment with pesto instead of a red sauce. I am a strict red-sauce girl; but will try pesto next time! These can be great meals or awesome appetizers for a grill-out or a fresh Italian meal! I highly recommend this recipe! It is delicious!

My next portobello mushroom adventure will be Portobello Turkey Burgers. I plan on making a certain recipe of:.....
  • turkey burger (It's an Asian Style burger with ground turkey, soy sauce, basil, and onion)
  • Roma tomatoes
  • grilled zucchini (thinly sliced so it doesn't get to thick)
  • Portobello Mushrooms instead of a bun!
  • Spinach
We shall see what happens with this creation....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. What two cities should be moved closer together?

Wow, I bet no one is going to be able to guess this one.....;)

That is totally easy! Tucson, AZ and Battle Lake, MN should be a nice 10-15 minute drive from each other! That is the big meeting place for my family during the summer, and now for many holidays! That would be a dream come true if we just pushed those cities together! ;)
2. What was the first plane ride you took?
Well, 1st EVER was a little "puddle jumper" of a plane in 5th grade. It was for a school field trip! How neat, now thinking about to that!
My 1st real plane ride was to Chicago when I was in 6th grade! I will never forget it. People probably thought it was the 1st time my parents let me off a farm or something. I kept the "Northwest" glass and peanut package as "souvenirs". What a weird kid I was!
3. What continent would you most like to visit?
Definitely Europe. There is so much I would love to see there! Scottland, Germany, Italy, France, Norway, Spain....ah. :) Some day!!!!!
4. What’s your favorite place to window-shop?
This isn't actual "window-shopping"....but it's the same idea - I love going on the website on my downtime and looking at houses to figure out what I want!
I also like window shopping at Crate & Barrel.
5. What’s the least fun you’ve ever had at a place specifically tailored for fun?
The only thing that really sticks out for me is my high school Homecoming Cornation, Senior year. I was a homecoming candidate.
I will never forget preparing to be "escorted in". I was standing in the hallway, sobbing my eyes out. Thank God my Mom came to the rescue, was wiping the tears from my eyes reminding me that I will be graduated from that place in no time!
It is incredible how mean and caddy girls can be! Now looking back, it's silly how worked up I got over things - but they sure affect young women at that age!!
6. You’re stuck on an island with plenty of food, a companion, and a relatively stress-free lifestyle. What do you say when the rescue ship comes?
"Wrong Island! Hope you find those stranded folks!!!" ;)
7. Which day of the week do you look forward to most?
It's a tie between Friday & Saturday. Friday is my "Zen Day" - I always include a good workout, full house cleaning, outdoor time, and a fun evening with Ryan (usually involving cooking a fun meal or going out for sushi). However, I live for Saturdays! :-) Almost always complete freedom.
8. What’s your favorite place to enjoy the great outdoors?
Battle Lake, MN or Seven Falls/Sabino Canyon here in Tucson. I love the lake, water sports, family, and just serenity of the lakes.

And I love hiking Sabino Canyon - you cross 7 water falls on the way up the mountain. At the very top, there are natural pools of fresh water -- such a reward!!
9. What’s on your “to do” list this summer?
-Recieve my BSN on August 20, 2010!!! (Yay)
-Get hired on as an RN at my sponsoring hospital in the perfect unit for me!
-Go camping in the White Mountains
-Swim 2 miles (The most I've done is 1 mile. Summer is my "off-season" for running in AZ)
-Have successful tomato plants! And get a mini-herb garden!
-Learn to Surf. Long board.- hopefully on a weekend getaway for our 1st Anniversary to San Diego again!!!
10. Which natural disaster freaks you out the most?
-Hurricanes. Not in Tucson though. We don't really have natural disaster in Tucson. But hurricanes are terrifying. Do fires count? They aren't always "natural".... I think a fire is just terrifying.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Giving Back

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I have been dreamings about gardens. I have gone back and forth about just waiting until we have a house, waiting until we move to a different state.......

But I've realized -- who knows when we'll move...and I am missing out on years of great gardening!

So yesterday, I finally went out and purchased pots, a big bag of soil, a watering can, and a nice array of plants!

To make this purchase, we used a small little portion of our tax return this year! And I realized, if everyone took a little bit of their tax return to plant some flowers, a tree, some fresh herbs, etc -- think of what we'd be giving back to our world!

Yes, I officially just want hippy on you all. But it's just a thought!

So here is the final product!: Let's hope they are fruitful, and my green-thumb comes to life!

Gerbera Daisies


Geraniums (in the middle) and Vincas (on the outside)

Celebrity Tomato plant - (side view, I am way not computer savy and cannot figure out to flip the image).

So, let us hope this works out! It would make a very happy lady! :)

In addition to our gardening....this weekend we:

  • I made a new recipe of Lemon-Herbed Baked Chicken. One of my new favorites!
  • Spent every evening of the weekend enjoying the gorgeous AZ weather sitting on our deck!
  • Studied at the library in a small, confined room for almost 7 hours on Saturday (I about went crazy).
  • After Sunday morning mass......we changed clothes and returned to a place that I haven't stepped on in almost 2 years...........................
  • We hit up the driving range. Wow, my golfing needs work. In addition to being rusty - it only got worse. All the "Snow Birds" of Green Valley, AZ found it necessary to comment on our swinging.
    • "You know, if you did this....", "You should really do this..."
    • I wanted to remind them that "Hi, I don't golf every day. So take it easy...."
  • I planted our garden, and Ryan cleaned the garage. We truly are the classic American married couple. I love every second of it :)
  • We made a new recipe: Portobello Mushroom Pizzas - on the grill! Recipe to come this week! I will be bold enough to say this is a new favorite food! Very healthy too!!
Hope you all had a great weekend, and are off to a beautiful Monday!