Sunday, June 26, 2011

What do you do on vacation?

We usually like to go somewhere that is warm, has water, and great food.  However, this past week the husband was off.  And I took Wednesday-Friday off.  And we didn't go anywhere.  We sent the kids to school for 2 of the days.  And that means we had two amazingly quiet days in our own house.  With no kids.  That was perfect.  We are doers - as in - try to make everything our self.  Which requires time at home.  With no kids.  So this vacation was spent finishing projects.

The husband made this.  He found some plans for a copy of a West Elm table.  $200 worth of materials.  Sells for $1200.  We think it's awesome.  And with the vacation days to complete it.

This chair was a hand-me-down 6 years ago.  It looked like this.

Backside of it when we moved in.  Green/tan country plaid.
Then I decided to reupholster it when I started residency.  Cause I had some much extra time.  And I wasn't already busy replumbing all of our bathrooms.  So it looked like this.  Nothing exciting.

The best photo I could find -shows the blue and the wing.

And then we were tired of it.  So I decided to reupholster it again.  And this time I cut off the wings to make it a bit more modern.  And added a bunch of extra padding to the back to make it more comfy.  The fabric was a bit more funky -would have liked it to be a bit more out there -but it will do.  For now.  Until I get the urge to reupholster it a 3rd time.  I will be an expert by then.  And maybe it won't take 8 months to complete it.
Redone again. And without wings.
And that is what we do on our vacations.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's Rhubarb Season

Hmmm, I love rhubarb.  I have been eating it my whole life.  My grandmother and my mom made rhubarb sauce all the time when I was growing up.  I would eat bowls of that stuff for breakfast.

Our first house has a large patch of rhubarb.  We moved in and I quickly picked a bunch.  And then we got a dog.  And that became his favorite thing to pee on.  So there was no more rhubarb.

Our current house doesn't have any, but we have a large community garden on an empty lot that has some. And a neighbor who doesn't use much of their own.  So I am in rhubarb heaven again.

And yes you can made the traditional rhubarb sauce and bread.   But here is what I made for father's day - and dang was it so incredibly good!

Risotto with rhubarb compote.
Have you ever made risotto with milk instead of broth?  This recipe called for it.  I was very skeptical.  I used 1/2 milk and then the rest with broth.  And no proscuitto.  But dang so, so good.  I love the sweet/savory combination.  And red wine rhubarb compote - well I may have made a ton and now have a jar of just leftover compote.  And I'm going to go raid my neighbor's patch some more and freeze the rhubarb so I can make this all year!

And because we went to the farmer's market and bought a ton of fresh strawberries, I made this little cookie crumble strawberry rhubarb tart.  No recipe, just kind of winged it.  It involved making sugar cookies from a package.  Making rhubarb sauce with a bit of lemon juice and sugar.  And mixed 2/3 parts fat free cream cheese with 1/3 part homemade yogurt.  And then crumbled the cookie into a custard cup.  Poured some cream cheese on it.  Placed in freezer to set the filling.  And then added the rhubarb sauce topped with a layer of fresh cut strawberries.
Delicious.  Not too sweet (oh yeah, I added agave nectar to the cream cheese to sweeten it just a bit).  Perfect for a warm summer night!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where does time go?

Do you ever pause to think about where you are at in life right now?  It's crazy when you do - well at least when I do.  It's actually quite frightening.

The deal with being a doctor is that your life is always on hold.  Most people finish up with college, get some kind of entry job, and have fun.  You know - live a little (or a lot).  Then maybe someone gets married, and has so more fun years before having a kid.  Or there are those that get pregnant right away.  But in any case, most people I know have figured out how to live a little before settling down too much.

Well in medicine, that just seems to not be the norm.  You go to college, work to get decent grades, study for months to take the darn MCAT.  Then start applying for med school.  I took a year off after college.  I knew I wasn't mentally ready to go straight through.  My world was rocked pretty hard my senior year of college when my dad unexpectedly died - right as I was applying for med school.  So I scrapped that plan.  Moved to Washington DC to work at National Institutes of Health (well there may have been a different reason -but I won't talk about that:)

And once I got into med school that winter, I finally started to learn how to live a little.  Relax.  Have fun.  Not worry so much.  And that lasted for about 4 months.  And then I returned to school.  And I still had fun.  But it was so hard to relax and just enjoy life.

And then I got married.  Then we moved a thousand miles away and bought an old house.  Then I started residency and worked 80 hours a week for the most of 3 years.  And then I had a baby.  And then I graduated from residency and we bought a nicer house.  And then I took a bit of a lull by being chief resident for a year.  Which allowed me to relax a bit.  Well at least have the weekends off again.

And then I started fellowship.  And worked nights and weekends again.  Not nearly as many 80 hour weeks, but with only 15 vacation days/year when your spouse has 20 plus lots of trip time - you don't really get to relax enough.

And then I had another baby.

And now some how it has been 15 years since high school, and I am not sure how much I have really lived.  And I still haven't started my career.  I'm getting close.  Just over a year to go and then I am finally free.  My life won't just be on hold while I get through whatever period of training I am in.  But it kind of makes me gasp when I realized how much time has gone by without ever really living life.

So now I need to learn to just LIVE.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

DIY: Yogurt

All right - hiatus is over.  Went on vacation with the extended family to the Dells.  My little munchkin was afraid of everything as usual....until the last day.  Then suddenly she was brave and we couldn't get her out of the water to leave.  Go figures.
But I brought our homemade yogurt with us.  And a family member or two asked me how to make it.  And now that I have made it 5-6 times, I think I can safely answer that.
So here it goes (and this is a bit modified from this link: Homemade yogurt

And the reasons why to do it this way:
1. No fructose corn syrup in it.  Very hard to find yogurt these days without this junk.  Or if you do, you will pay about $1/6 oz.
2. Can make 1 gallon (or 1/2 as I usually do) for the price of 1 gallon of milk ($4-6).
3. You can make organic yogurt for cheap!!  See above.
4. I make it plain and then add whatever fruit I want that day.
5. Great to cook with instead of sour cream.  150 calories/cup vs 400/cup of sour cream.

1/2 gallon Whole milk -organic if you prefer.  Doesn't have to be ultra fresh - have used just to expire milk.
1/3 cup sugar (optional - but I think it is perfect with it - a bit more tangy without it)
1/2 cup starter yogurt (have had good luck with Dannon and Greek-or can use leftover homemade)- allow to come to room temp
Thermometer - candy, meat, anything works (needs to read to 185F)
2 Large widemouth mason jars for 1/2 gallon (can use narrow, just easier to get it in/out of the large mouth.)

1. Pour milk into large stock pot
2. Heat over low/med heat until temperature is 185 (takes about 20 min for me on gas stove)
3. Stir frequently so you don't get scalded milk on the bottom.  (And if you do scald it - it's ok - just don't scrape off that stuff when you stir and you can still use the rest.  I may or may not know this from 1st hand experience.)
4. Once it is at 185, stir in sugar if you are going to add it (haven't tried splenda, but maybe that would work too, or guava nectar or other low cal sweeteners)
5. Then place in sink filled with cold water.
6. Cool down to 120.
7. Mix in starter yogurt.  You really need to get this mixed all the way in - whisk very hard to get it dissolved in.
8. Pour into mason jars (I use a large glass measuring cup to pour into the jars as I have had a lot spill by trying to poor directly from pot into jar.  And if you scalded the milk and have chunks floating around - you can skim those off first.)
9. Place mason jar into oven.  I also had 2 large stockpots of hot faucet water into the oven to help regulate temp.
10. Turn oven on and just preheat for 2 minutes initially.  This should get oven temp to 120-130.
11.  Turn on oven every 45 minutes for just 1 minute.  I leave thermometer in oven to just make sure I am keeping the air temp somewhere between 100-130.  I have checked the yogurt and it usually never gets below 108 by doing this.
12. Keep doing this for 5 or so hours.  Doesn't have to be precise.  The website I used said just 3 hours, but I didn't think the yogurt got thick enough.  So I usually go to about 5-6 hours.  Just keep setting the timer to preheat oven.  Sometimes I stir the jars while they are incubating.  I think it gets the cultures more evenly mixed in and results in thicker yogurt.
13. After 5 hours, yogurt will be thicker - but not your yogurt thickness yet.

14.  Place lids on jars and put in fridge.  Once it is cooled, it will thicken more.  Won't be like store bought yogurt, but more like some of the European slightly runny yogurts.  But it won't have pectin, fructose, or any other thickeners in it.  So it's worth the trade.

The jars should stay good for a couple of weeks. I am going to try making frozen yogurt popsicles this summer.  But for now, I usually thaw out some frozen cherries in the microwave.  Then add a cup of yogurt and a few chocolate chips (yep can't get enough chocolate!).  Makes for a great part of lunch.  Husband breaks up granola bar into it for breakfast.  Tank gets random veggies, cereal, or fruit mixed in. And the munchkin, well it doesn't come prepackaged with a fake pink color, so she won't eat it!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

One of those days

Today was just -one.of.those.days.  I hate days like today.  Here is a list of all the wonderfully dumb things that happened.

1. Wake up - Munchkin instantly starts screaming.  She does this all the time.  She argues about everything.  And whines.  And cries.  Then tells me I'm not her friend.  She doesn't like me.  ANd on and on it goes.
2. Munchkin complains about everything.  I don't' like that cereal.  That cereal is yucky.  That dress is too scratchy.  That dress is too icky.  And yet she ate that cereal yesterday and wore the dress last week.  Again - a battle over absolutely anything.
3. I get ready to leave.  If the sunshine is just at the right angle, the little garage door sensor goes berserk and thinks there is an object in the way.  And it won't close.  Until the sun moves.  Or you can magically find the right space to cast a shadow over the sensor and manage to hit the key pad at the same time without actually getting in the way of the sensor.  Yep - that was the exact time I tried to leave today.
4.  I am working on this ridiculously large research project.  I need to review 1000 charts in depth.  And I had to go to a different place today to review the birth books because the data I need to actually even create the list of charts doesn't exist electronically.  I need to review 3,000 births in the birth books to record what age and weight the baby was.  And I did about 500 in just under 2 hours.  And then saved the file.  Which was apparently to the hard drive of that computer and not my disk.  And now I have no idea if it will be magically deleted over night or not.  So I have to go back into that place tomorrow to search for the file.  Otherwise, start over.
5. I had conference today.  A bit frustrating.  And a bit of a waste of time.  Cause you know I have to read 1,000 charts.
6. I hate writing.  And I have 2 manuscripts to write.  One is nearly done.  I just can't seem to finish it.  I never actually finish any project.  I get 90% done with something and then just stop.  And I can't find the last reference I need to finish the one manuscript.   If I could write like, I would be golden.  But I have to follow crazy formats and rules, and every journal has a different set of rules.  Which makes it that much harder for me to write.
7.  Munchkin had her 2nd gymnastics class tonight.  I picked her up.  She instantly starts crying about going to gymnastics by herself.  She wants me to go with her into the class.  Then she cries some more once we get there.  And then the teacher isn't there.  And I didn't know what to do.  Munchkin was the only kid in the class last week so maybe they have cancelled it without telling me.  And it is this little back room, so I can't go check up with the desk unless I bring munchkin with me.  And if I do that, then maybe the teacher is going to show up.  So I wait for some other class to get done, ask that teacher what to do.  She runs up and finds out that the teacher is on vacation, the sub hasn't shown up, so she assigns some observing teacher to teach the munchkin.  Great.  This is just adding to my day.
8.  Class gets done.  Munchkin wants fish sticks for dinner.  I call the husband.  No answer X2.  Then page with the message.  Then 10 min later states she doesn't want those and proceeds to cry and scream the rest of the way home.
9. Got very detoured on the way home.  All east-west major roads are under construction at the same time.  So I try to go a different way.  Took 10 minutes longer.  Which meant 10 more minutes of listening to the munchkin scream about fish sticks.
10.  Get home.  Go to my room and close the door.  Munchkin screams for 15 minutes about the already cooked fish sticks.  And she is screaming for me the whole time.  Which makes the Tank cry.
11.  And now everyone is in bed and I am drinking wine.
Happy day.  Let's do it all again tomorrow.  Can't wait.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Doogie Howser: The part about Cystic Fibrosis

So I mentioned way back here (Doogie Howser Part 1) a little bit about my interest in medicine.  And that I was destined to be a doctor even though I didn't know it for quite some time.

And I mentioned two people that were quite influential on that decision.  Well I think it is about time I wrote about them.

The first was a girl I knew in elementary school named Angie.  She was a year older than me and her brother a year younger.  We all played softball together.  Our dads were the coaches for t-ball and maybe coach pitch (can't quite remember that second one).  But in any case, all I knew was that these two siblings had something called Cystic Fibrosis or CF.  I thought it must be pretty common if they both had.  I was pretty ignorant.  Or you know - only 6 years old.  But I remember them both coughing a bit and being skinny.  But the thing that really stuck out was when Angie came to practice with an IV in her arm.  And she played.  She had a PICC line in (temporary long term iv that lets them get antibiotics - and can be done at home).  That is when I decided that being sick doesn't have to get in the way of life.  And that a kid shouldn't have to be worried about something like that.

Angie passed away from CF complications when I was 16.  I had just brought a card to school to put in the box for her, and there was no box.  And there were a lot of people crying.  And that's when I found out she had passed away the night before.

Nicole and I were baking-by cracking eggs on our head.
Fast forward 2 years-college application time.  One school asked me to write a newspaper article for some time in the future and the article was to be about me and what I have accomplished.  I wrote about finding a cure for CF.

I went to college (different one than above -but I thought that was a brilliant college admissions essay-so unique!).  A month or so into it, I walked in my dorm and my jaw dropped.  There stood someone that looked so familiar.  She said her name was Nicole and asked why I was in shock.  I said she looked like someone I once knew.  "Once knew?  What happened" "She died of a disease called CF." "What???  CF, I have CF!  Did she have fingers like mine?"

Ah, Nicole -so funny about her clubbed fingers.  She so desperately wanted normal fingers.  Nicole and I got to be good friends.  She underwent a living donor lung transplant right as we graduated from college.  She graduated at the top of the class.  Despite missing a ton while in the hospital.  She did great for awhile, and got to play her flute again and climb stairs and live on her own and have a job.  But CF is a nasty disease, and she passed away 3 years later.

But as the internet would have, I finally found Angie's little brother online.   And he is trying to kick some CF booty.

And one day, CF will have it's booty kicked right out of dodge.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer, summer, summer time!

I love nice weather.  I was not meant to live in the frozen tundra.  Aka -land of winter for 9 months.  Or at least that's about how long it was this past year.

But now, ahhh, it is summer.  Spring happened for about 12 hours in between winter #1 and winter #2.  Summer has such fond memories for me.  If I could go back to being a kid again, it would only be to have summers again.

My list of favorite summer things.
1. Being in the water (skiing, swimming, boating, you name it.)
2. Hearing kids play outside until sunset and a bit past - which is about 9 pm these days.
3. Looonnnnnggg days - well maybe not the fact that the sun rises at 5 am, but the late evenings I will take.
4. Ice cold beverages.  Of the adult variety.  And some of the non-adult varieties.
5. Catching fireflies.  We used to put them in a mason jar covered with foil.  Either we made too big of holes, or our parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles would set them all free once we went to bed.
6. Summer camp.  I went to the most awesome place - Camp Lebanon in Upsala, MN.  The name and town are just too funny.  But that place was amazing.  And I met some of the most amazing people there.
7. The neighbors exist again.  I can just wander around and neighbors are sitting outside - enjoying #4.
8. Camp fires.  Maybe not on nights as hot as this.  And the obligatory s'mores.
9. The rare night swimming.
10. The smell of sunscreen that seems to permeate from the pores even after a shower.

And with that I am going to go have a #4.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ah - the theater days.

So a long time ago, I was one of those thespians.  I loved acting when I was little.  I don't think I was any good - at least not for awhile.  Finally in high school, I auditioned for a company called "Skitsos".  Yep - that is what we were called.  Eventually the name changed (something about offending people) - and we became SOS Players.  All of this stood for Skits Outreach Services.

We were a bunch of high school kids who loved to be a tremendously bit dramatic.  We performed at other schools all across the midwest.  It was a blast.  I didn't particularly like high school, so I missed about 30-40 days a year touring.  I may have received numerous threats from the principal's office about missing so much school.  I said - look at my grades- doesn't really matter does it.  So I missed as many days as I possibly could:)

Skitsos Reunion - 2008 (that would be me pregnant with Munchkin)
I got to hang out with some amazing people during those 3 years.  Several now are relatively famous (a couple of stand up comedians, tv star, some with smaller bits in movies).  But I had amazing directors.  And just being a part of the company really taught me a lot about myself.  I know I am not the same because of them.

Thank you Wendy Bird and Big E(smiling from above):)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Land of how many lakes?

I grew up in the land of 10,000 lakes.  I always thought that was an underestimate.  Everyone lived on a pond, across from one, or on a true lake.  I would recommend swimming in ponds.  They tend to be a bit slimy.  But there was never a shortage of water, boats, water sports.

My grandparents lived on a lake in WI and had a boat.  For holidays, we were always at the lake.  And we all learned how to water ski.  Pretty much after we learned how to walk.  There was this blue floaty thing (that is what we called it - i have no idea what it was other than that).  It had two nylon ropes for handles.  And someone in the family figured out how to tie to a ski rope.  So we would start off by sitting on the blue thing and get pulled around.  Then we would graduate to standing on it.  And then we were given skis.

The blue thing is in the background. 
I clearly remember my first time skiing.  I was 5.5.  It didn't go very well.  These weren't learner type skis.  Old school wooden ones with a stiff plastic boot.  No one told me to let go of the rope if I fell.  So I didn't.  And I couldn't hear everyone yelling at me.  Eventually it stopped.  And it took another summer to try again.

But I did.  And eventually I learned to slalom.  I have tried knee/wake boarding, trick skis, jumping, and even bare foot.

But it has been a long time (maybe 3 years now) since I skied.  And I live in the land of 10,000 lakes again.  And I live in the one county in the entire state that doesn't have a lake.  Seriously.  There are a few man made ones.  But nothing I can ski on.

And I so desperately want to ski.  It's in my bones.  But of all the places we could live, we would have had to pick the dry one.  That may need to change.