Friday, November 28, 2008

In Which I Try Something New

Hold your breath. I actually had a holiday off! Yes, you read that correctly. Nurse Kelly was nowhere near New York's big medical center. When I found out that I didn't have to work, I immediately phoned my family. Instead of my mother fussing over what my travel arrangements, she laid a shocker on me. She announced that her, my father, and my sister would be traveling to New York. My first thought was "Sweet!", my next thought was, "Holy Shit. HOWAMIGOINGTOCOOKATHANKSGIVINGDINNERINMYTINYTINYAPARTMENTKICHEN???? I think my mom sensed my apprehension because she quickly said, "and how about we go out to dinner? That would be lovely."

Shocked at my mothers suggestion, I agreed an quickly set out to find a reasonably priced Thanksgiving dinner. My search took about a week. Apparently, some people New Yorker's don't bat an eyelash at $109/per person prixe fix holiday dinners that do not include alcohol. I finally found a place with a varied menu costing only $55/per person for a three course meal. I made a 4:30pm dinner reservation, sat back, and then thought.....what am I going to do with my family

This issue continued to stress me out. Did I mention that my family was going to be staying in my apartment? Yes, my roommate was going home, but at $725 a night for a hotel, I was not about to kick my family out. My stress was exaggerated because preceding thanksgiving I worked 11 out of 15 days (uh, hunh not kidding).

Before I knew it, it was last Sunday and my mom was giving me all the details (sometimes I love having a mother who's as type A as me!) They would be arriving Wednesday afternoon, probably late because my sister was playing in the powder puff football game and they couldn't leave Boston until 11 and they were anticipating mucho traffic. My mom then suggested that we go see the balloons be blown up for the parade. So touristy, she and my dad both wanted to check out the Macy's Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning. We'd wing the rest of their visit. In my state of exhaustion, I just agreed and went about the week.

Before I knew it, it was Wednesday at 2pm and my family was buzzing my apartment. Wow! They made it in record time. I went down to help them bring in their stuff. My jaw almost hit the floor when they showed up: two jumbo suitcases, pillows, tools (I needed my dad's drill), gift bags, garment bags, etc. You would have though they were traveling overseas. I soon learned that one entire suitcase, plus one of the duffel bags was full of my sister’s clothes (oh to be 16). They came up and settled in. I must admit, I was having a mild anxiety attacked with their stuff everywhere, but I played it cool.

After catching up, we humored my mothered and headed off through the park to the west side to see the balloon inflation. Direction said to check them out between 77th-81st on Central Park West. Umm, so weren’t we surprised when we were looped up to 81st, across CPW to Columbus, across Columbus, down Columbus to 78th, back across Columbus, down to 77th only to realize that if we wanted to see the balloons we would essentially have to walk that same route AGAIN, except in the opposite direction on Central Park West. Oh the crowds! It was insane. Umm, at that point, we threw in the towel and decided to get something to eat. We were right at Isabella's so I tired to go in and check out the wait time. But I couldn’t get past the cop who told me the restaurant was booked until 10pm. And off we went down to 72nd so we could go back acorss the park. And we walked and walked and walked. My mom said a few times, “Kelly, where are we going? We are going in circles."

I really hadn't been paying attention, as we were talking all the way. Suddenly I noticed this LARGE, long building. And then I stopped, dead in my tracks, and laughed. We walked to the street corner "85th and 5th." Whoops. We had accidentally walked diagonally through the park up to 85th! At least we were back on the East Side!

Famished, we headed to a big Italian family style restaurant. We were seated promptly. We all needed a drink, so we ordered a pitcher of Sangria. Doesn't the waitress come back to the table, with our huge pitcher of yummy sangria, and say, "Four glasses, right?" My mom tried to prevent her jaw from hitting the floor. The waitress poured the four glasses and walked away. That's when Colleen, picked dup her glass and said, "Cheers!" She's sixteen! Not wanting to make a big deal my parents let her drink it, after all it was in a controlled environment, but it was just comical.

At this point it was time to order out food. Being the only vegetarian in my family, and this was a family style restaurant, I pretty much stayed out of the conversation and said all I wanted was some linguini and steamed broccoli. My family all agreed on chicken parmesan but for some reason my sister was putting up a fight over the veal. She lost the battle and my parents ordered a half size portion.

When the food came, there were lots of plates on the table. After some rearranging the veal parmesan ended up in front of my sister. I jokingly offered her some and she looked at me, dead serious and sad, "You know I don't like fish!"

My parents and I burst into laughter. My sister, the child prodigy seriously thought that veal was fish. After a good chuckle, we ate our meal and drank our sangria-all four of us.

It had been a long day, so we came home, put on our pajamas and lounged around. Sleeping arrangements were interesting. My sister and I slept on my roommates bed, my mom slept in my bed, my dad slept on the blow up aero bed. None of us slept well. It seemed like had just gone to bed when my dad pops his head in at 6:40 a.m. and announced that it was time to get up. We threw on clothes and headed off to the West Side to see the parade. We were at 72nd and CPW by 7:15 and the parade didn't begin until 9.

The streets were PACKED. People were pushing, shoving, yelling, moaning, and groaning. We ended up finding a spot behind a relatively open area, closed for CNN VIP's. We thought we hit the jackpot. Boy were we wrong. Turns out, this was also the spot to enter and exit the viewing stands for the porta-pottys. For the next two hours and all through the parade we were shoved, pushed, and untimely sandwiched in between two trash cans and six porta-pottys. We didn't even get to see Santa because they ushered us out of the area so they could clear the stands. We trekked home cold, but not defeated. Many of our friends texted us that they were looking for us on TV and asked us how the parade was live. We texted back to look for the porta-potty's and that the parade probably looked better in HDTV.

Walking home, we decided to stop and get breakfast and bring it back to my apartment. For most of the afternoon we lounged around. My sister napped and then we all showered and got ready for dinner. We decided to walk 30 blocks to the restaurant and worked up an appetite. Seated promptly, the meal was delicious from start to finish. We took a cab home. Then came what I dreaded most...a lull, with nothing to do.

We flipped back and forth on the television but nothing was appealing. It was only 6:45, but I put on my pajamas curled up on the couch and fell sound asleep. I woke up a few hours later and crawled into bed. The following morning I could smell fresh brewed coffee and freshly toasted bagels. I was quite impressed that my family finagled their way around my kitchen AND ventured outside to the bagel store. It was a bit comical when my dad opened the refrigerator to get cream for his coffee and all he saw was soymilk and opened up the sugar jar only to find splenda. Sorry dad. However, the best part of waking up was walking into my living room and seeing my little Christmas tree all decorated. It warmed my heart.

After my family showered, they packed up the car and left. I got a wee bit emotional but I know I’ll see them again in a month. Although this past Thanksgiving was different from any other holiday I've experienced, it was great to try something new.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Taste of Something New

Maybe it's because it's almost Thanksgiving, or maybe because it's chilly outside, or maybe because I've had two days off in a row (cue to choirs!!), but whatever the reason I've been playing with the foods inside my pantry food cabinet. I had a can of pumpkin, a bag of craisins, and some rice that I wanted to use.

Here's what I created...

Pumpkin Cranberry Risotto

1 onion. diced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp margarine
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup craisins

Mix pumpkin, orange zest, and maple syrup and place into 350 degree over for 20 minutes.
Sautee the onion in olive oil over medium heat until soft.
Add the rice. Allow to cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Slowly add the wine- CAREFUL when pouring alcohol onto heat.
Add the vegetable broth, 1/2 cup at a time, allow the moisture to cook off before adding the next 1/2 cup. Stir frequently. Add in salt and pepper.
Once all the liquid has been added, fold in pumpkin mixture, nutmeg, margarine, and craisins.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Four Foods on Friday

I'm running late with this post again. I need a vacation! But nevertheless here are this week's questions

#1. What’s the worst tasting food you’ve ever eaten?
That would be Walden Farms fat free, calorie free peanut butter. Yes, you read that correctly It was metically tasting and sharp smelling....kind of tasted like fertilizer smells. I should have known that it sounded to good to be true.

#2. Share a funny or embarassing story about a meal you’re made.
Um, the huge bath of pumpkin bread that I made for the holidays two years ago. I accidentally grabbed the paprika instead of the cinnamon. You should have seen my grandfathers face when he took a bite.

#3. What food do you burn or have problems cooking most often?
I said it before, but I cannot make brownies. I've tried to make them from scratch and from the box but never had any luck. They are mushy in the center and charred on the edges. MAybe it's my pan??

#4. Name two foods you’ll be eating on this Thanksgiving.
We're trying something new this year. My family is coming into New York (yay!) and we are going out to eat. Here's our menu selection:

Soup of butternut squash, hazelnut, apple and roasted seckel pear

Organic baby mesclun mix, toasted walnut and fall squash vinaigrette

-Crisp skin long island duck breast, sweet potato and maple puree, garlic sauteed brussel sprouts
-Whole wheat rigatoni with fall vegetables, fresh red and yellow tomato sauce, roasted olives
-Roasted organic amish turkey, sweet potato puree, brussels sprouts, cranberry chutney, chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy
-Stuffed farfalle with sundried tomato pesto, grilled sweet italian sausage
-Slow braised beef short ribs with cheddar cheese mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables
-Fennel crusted north atlantic salmon, scallion and celery root mashed potatoes, warmed grapes and caperberries
-16-oz ny strip steak with roasted garlic and herb butter, crispy french fries and belgian dipping sauce
-Machintoch apple, cinnamon raisin cobbler with cinnamon ice crem
-Individual pumpkin pie with fresh chantilly cream
-Flourless chocolate souffle with vanilla bean ice cream
-Italian blood orange sorbet

Want to join in? Check out the FFoF Meme HERE

Friday, November 14, 2008

4 Foods on Friday-Thanksgiving Edition

Hard to believe it's already mid-November and that Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away! See what everyone else is drooling over on their Thanksgiving menu....

#1. Stuffing. Boxed or from scratch?
Boxed, but all doctored up with apples, celery, craisins, and onions

#2. If you were served the perfect Thanksgiving dinner what would it be?
Well, mine would have no meat, but the ideal Thanksgiving meal that I would serve to all my carniverous friends and family would be....Roasted turkey with hickory maple rub, stuffing (see above), mashed sweet potaotes with crushed pineapple and cinnamon, steamed green beans, sauteed spinach with garlic, homemade chunky cranberry sauce with fresh grated orange zest, and warm fresh baked honey wheat bread

#3. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving leftover?
Sweet potatoes reheated in the oven with just a dab of maple syrup

#4. Share a recipe using turkey.

Turkey Gobble-Up

1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
12 slices cooked turkey breast meat
12 slices tomato
12 slices American or cheddar cheese
12 strip bacon, halved, cooked, crumbled
6 English muffins, split and toasted

In a small bowl, mash the avocado; add lemon juice, mayonnaise, sour cream and hot pepper sauce.

Spread over muffin halves; top with turkey, tomato, cheese and bacon.

Broil 6 inches from the heat for 3-4 minutes or until cheese begins to melt.

Yield: 6 servings.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thrifty In the CIty

Just about every blog that I stalk read has been posting on ways to save money. And let's face it, with the state of the economy, it's a good idea. Here's my two cents...

One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was instilling me with a strong work ethic, emphasizing that money doesn't grow on trees (at least not in our backyard). I received an allowance, but only when I did chores. My parents had this " Three Can System." I got $15.00 a week, but I had to divide it three ways (spending, savings, special). At the end of every month I had to put the "savings" into my bank account and was given a choice about the "special." Some months I chose to add it to my spending money, but other months I put it in the bank to earn the interest and get "free money" (i.e. interest). I was so used to this savings method, that when I got my first job, I didn't bat an eye at putting my pay checks in the bank. I made great tip money, so I used that as my spending and gas money (back in the day when gas was $0.99/gallon) ::sigh::

Flash forward to college. Not going to lie, I went to college with kids who came from money. I swear, some of them had mobiles of dollar bills hanging over their cribs as babies. I'll never forget the day I was shopping in Rittenhouse Square and one of my friends whipped out mommy and daddy's AMEX to pay her $200 charge at J.Crew. I mean, yes, I too had one of my parents credit cards but it was for things like groceries, plane tickets home, etc. I came from a modest background. My parents both worked and my sister and I never wanted for anything, but we didn't live beyond our means. My parents didn't bat an eye at footing my tuition bill (all $200,000) of it, but they weren't about to pay for frivolous, spur of the moment shopping sprees. I worked on campus in student services and babysat all though college to earn my spending money. Yes, it sucked when I saw my bank account getting down to single digits by the end of school year, but I had a summer of work to replenish my account. It was a good system that I had worked out. In college, in addition to my parents credit card for necessities, I got my own credit card to build credit. I didn't charge much to it, but I always paid it off in full at the end of every month. I got countless offers in the mail from companies each trying to offer the biggest and best rewards with 0% interest on balance transfers, but I politely shredded each and every one of them.

Then I graduated from college. Suddenly, I was a grown up and found myself moving to one of the most expensive cities...New York City! When I got my job offer, I was tickled pink with my starting salary. Trust me, it was WAY more than most of my friends would be making with the exception of a few investment bankers. My enthusiasm started to dwindle when I realized that I'd be spending upwards of $22,000 a year on rent. Add to that food, travel, and fun oh yeah and all of this AFTER taxes! Suddenly felt more like a popper than a princess.

Even though all this overwhelmed me, my childhood habit of saving persevered. I set up both a savings account and an IRA, and after my 3rd month of work I started putting money into both accounts. Our hospital doesn't have a 401k, we have a 403b which they don't match, because they invest into their own plan for each employee, so that’s why I choose the individual IRA. I set up a budget and tried my best to stick to it. It took a while to figure out how much was reasonable to budget, but all my time and efforts paid off. I made lists of the foods that I ate frequently and went around to all of the little markets in my neighborhood to compare prices. I made an excel spreadsheet (yes, I'm that anal) and figured out where I could get what for the cheapest price. Thankfully, anything and everything that I could possibly ever need is within walking distance or only a few subway stops away. I cannot express how thankful I am not have to fret over gas prices. My price comparison experiment proved interesting. I found out that it's cheaper to buy fresh organic produce at the local farmers market than it was to buy regular produce from the mass chain grocery stores. I also quickly realized that buying coffee on the run, as metropolitan as it may seem, is completely UNeconomical.

There were a few issues that still bothered me though. #1-the cost of toilet paper, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, etc; #2-the inability to buy in bulk due to location; #3-the inability to by in bulk due to space/storage limitation; #4-a lack of coupons.

Although strange, I am a 24 year old who cuts coupons-usually for things like laundry detergent, toilet paper, personal products, etc. Theoretically, it's a good way to save money; however, coupons only come out in the Sunday newspaper. The Sunday new paper costs $4.00. Most weeks the savings I'd accrue would only be about $3-$4, thus it doesn't really make sense to pay for my coupons, especially because I wouldn't otherwise buy the paper. I read it online in my continued effort to be more "green."

Okay, so what about buying in bulk? I can say this, with certainty, because I did the research. For items that I use on a daily basis- toilet paper, paper towels, soy milk, peanut butter, rice cakes, tea bags, coffee, shampoo/conditioner, the bulk cost is about 50% less than buying the individual items, at least at city prices. But did I mention that there isn't a Costo/BJ's/Sam's Club in a reasonable distance from here? Oh yeah, there isn't even a T@rget close by. Grrrrrr. Thus I have to rely on visits from my parents to bring me these essentials. Which brings me to the issue of storage. What to do? Buddy up! My friend N and I split the bulk items. So we get the savings of buying in bulk, without having to fret over the storage!

Now some of you may be aghast that I list paper towels as a necessity, but the nurse in me must object. Hand towels are DIRTY, nasty breeding grounds for germs. Don't believe me? Read this Okay, so what if I changed the towels every day. Well by the end of the week, I'd have 7 towels from the kitchen and 7 towels from the bathroom- that's a load of laundry. The cost of laundry is $2.00 to wash ad $2.00 to dry. Paper towels, at $1.07 per roll x2 rolls per week, is by far a cheaper and cleaner option for a household of two.

Finally, I still have the same one credit card from college. Every week I a lot myself $50.00 for "free spending" (this includes meal out and cabs/transportation) and I take this money out in cash. All other spending (i.e. groceries, gym membership) I put on my credit card to track exactly where, when, and what I'm spending money on. I pay off my bill in full at the end of every month. My credit card has great reward options. In fact, I was able to get my roundtrip ticket to Seattle for free, plus still have more than 1/3 of my rewards left over.

This post has been all over the place. But I hope that it has given you some perspective on how I live thriftily in the city.

Monday, November 10, 2008

leaps and bounds

Call me crazy, but when I walked into my patient's room and saw all this, I got excited.....
Salem Sump to wall suction- bilious drainage

Jejunostomy tube- acting as feeding tube with Osmolyte @ 60cc/hr

Trachestomy- #6 shiley, cuffed

Right femoral arterial line

Right femoral triple lumen catheter- Brown: CVP; Blue: Insulin, TPN, & Lipids; White: Ativan, Fentanyl, Dopamine,& Levophed

Left femoral triple lumen catheter- Brown: Sodium Bicaronate; Blue: Polymixin/Tobramycin/Linezolid; White-heparin drip

Foley Catheter-transducing bladder pressures

Rectal tube-(ah, do you need a description?)

Wound Vac to Abdomen

Wound Vac to right and left foot

3 canisters to wall suction- weeping wound bed drainage

There was a point in time, not too long ago, where patients like this made me shudder with fear. However, at some point in the last 16 months, I became a nurse- a real nurse. One who's excited at the challange of caring for the sickest patients, helping them along the fine line between life and death. Yes my loyal readers, it's all coming together.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Won't You Be Are You My Neighbor?

I live in a building with approximately 60 apartments but only one elevator. Given that there about as many studios as there are two bedrooms, plus a few three and four bedroom apartments, there are about 100 people living in my building. So what I want to know is why I only ever see the same people in the elevator. It's not like I'm a hermit and never go out. I'm in and out of my aparmtnet at all hours of the day (and night). I've worked different shifts (day and night)...but I swear I only see the same 20 people. When I posed this question to my roomate, who has lived here longer than me, she agreed with me. She did offer that maybe people take the stairs, but I quickly pointed out to her that I, too, frequently take the stairs (um, one elevator for 10 floors= a long wait and I'm just not that patient).
Maybe this would have been more appropriate at the beginning of this entry, but I began to deeply ponder this subject when two days in a row I let the building's door close in the face of my "neighbors" (mind you I have never seen them before). It was quite embarrassing.

Apartment culture is different from that of a neighborhood. People don't come knocking on your door to bring casseroles or freash baked cookies. In fact, unless you are really chummy with the people moving out, you may not ever notice that the apartment has changed owners.

What about you? Have you moved to a place ad wondered who your neighbors are?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Week 54 of FFoF

My life's been sorta hectic lately and I feel like I've been neglecting my blog. I'm trying t get back in the swing of things. However, why don't you pop on over to Fun, Crafts, and Recipes to check out a blog that's always updated.

#1. Name a food you like that uses a red sauce or anything red in it.
Garlic Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Chunky homemade red sauce, yum!

#2. Name a food you like with whipped cream in it or on it.
no food necessary, I'll eat it right out of the can (so lady like, right?)

#3. Name a food you like with blueberry in it.
Lemon Blueberry Muffins

#4. Share a recipe for pasta or dessert or a beverage.
Capellini with Roasted Vegetables inspired by WholeFoods

8 ounces capellini pasta
1 (8-ounce) bag cippolini onions, peeled, diced
10 whole garlic cloves, peeled, split in half
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb
3 large roma tomatoes, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon dry whole oregano
Pinch crushed red chili flakes
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon arrowroot
4 teaspoons romano cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place onions, garlic, and pepper in a glass baking dish, toss with olive oil. Bake 15 minutes, stir, bake 15 minutes more. Stir in fennel, tomatoes, oregano, chili; bake 15 minutes. Add wine, vinegar, and arrowroot; bake 25 minutes. Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Serve vegetables and sauce over pasta; sprinkle with cheese.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Just Putting It Out There

I FINALLY had a night off last night, meaning that I got to sleep in this morning. For all those of you lucky enough to work days, you have no idea how exhausting working night can be! Nevertheless, I went to bed at 9:30 last night and slept until 9:30 this morning. A whole 12 hours! WOW! That's 3 1/2 times MORE sleep than I usually get...kinda sad, right?

But I digress. I made some coffee and settled onto the couch under my big fluffy blanket to watch some morning television. After an uneventful LIVEwithREGISandKELLY came the RACHAELray show. Yeah, she can be hoakey, and a little quirky, but she is harmless. She's best known for her 30minuteMeals, but the cooking segments on her talk show are usually pretty okay. Maybe it's just me and my semi health conscious perspective, but today's meal was just wrong. Her inspiration dish was the Cobb Salad (aka lettuce + blue cheese, bacon, chicken, avocado, creamy high fat salad dressingcalories galore. What did she do to it? She turned it into Cobb Pasta. So let me get this right, she replaced the one low calorie item (lettuce) with a much higher calorie item (pasta). I guess she was trying to "winterize" the dish by making it a hot one, but still it's over the top. Props to her on the creativity, but with the holidays coming and most people wanting to look sleek in that little black dress (or pants suit) we really don't need this calorie overload. Furthermore, I'm not sure if I even like the idea behind this pasta concept. A signature of the Cobb Salad is the conglomerate of textures-crunchy, creamy, and moist. Why wreck a good thing?!?

Maybe you disagree. Maybe you are salivating over her dish. But I'm just sayin' Ms. Ray, I think you have outdone yourself this time.