Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin Chili?

I like to randomly browse recipes and cooking blogs online even though I rarely have the time these days to try new recipes. A few of my facebook friends mentioned that they had made pumpkin chili this fall. And I LOVE pumpkin!! But pumpkin chili? That sounded kinda sketchy. I browsed around a few recipes, but I just was too nervous to take the plunge. But then I got sick and chili sounded like the perfect cure. I tweaked an online recipe to fit what I had in my cupboards and I really liked it. The pumpkin isn't over powering and it had just the right amount of heat. However, when Luke tried it, his reaction was "That's interesting." I guess we can't all have refined palates. Give it a shot...there's a 50% chance you'll like it. Ha! I'm really selling this one.

Please note: I don't really measure when I cook, so these are my best guestimates.

Pumpkin turkey chili

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lb turkey
1/2 tsp beef bouillon (just the powder...don't add water)
1/2 cup+ canned plain pumpkin puree (I don't think you could go go wrong with more)
15 oz can of black beans, drained
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
pinch of salt
2 dashes cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg
1 TBSP chili powder (I like some spice)
1 dash cayenne pepper

Saute onions, pepper and garlic in olive oil til soft in a big skillet or dutch oven. Add turkey meat and cook til brown. Dump in the rest of the ingredients and season as it simmers. The original recipe said to simmer for 20 minutes, but I don't think I waited that long to dive in! I ate mine plain, but could be served with cheese and sour cream!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Young and the Old

Since I've started my education in nursing, I've mostly had experience working with older adults. Its definitely not something I thought I would enjoy, but I've come to love it. I work at a retirement community and I often leave work uplifted because I enjoy being with my "oldies," if you will. But recently I've had the opportunity to expand my experience with a new population: 3 year olds! I teach a Sunday School class called the Sunbeams at church. I think working with both spectrums brings me a lot of joy because they both say the darndest things!

Recent Sunbeam-isms:

Sunbeam: Do you know how old I am?
Me: 3?
Sunbeam: No.
Me: 4?
Sunbeam: Yes.
Me: Do you know how old I am?
Sunbeam: 59?

Me: What is something fun you did this week?
Sunbeam: I went to Disneyland 5 times!!

Sunbeam sitting in my lap points to a mole on my arm and says, "What's that?"
Me: A mole.
Sunbeam: Oh! *Laughs hysterically*

Funny Conversations with my oldies at work:

Oldie: I like your earrings.
Me: Thank you.
Oldie: I never got my ears pierced because my mother said only "fast" women have pierced ears.
Me: Oh dear.....

Oldie squinting at my name tag while riding in an elevator together: What's your name?
Me: Whitney.
Oldie: Whitney? That's a damn classy name! Damn classy!

Oldie: Can you look at my finger and tell me what's wrong with it?
Me: We can't diagnose medical conditions, but I can look at it....*looks at hands and asks a few questions* You can go to Urgent Care...
Oldie: Oh no, I don't want to do that. I'm going to the Dr. on Monday.
Me: Well, if it hurts, you can take a Tylenol or ice it.
Oldie: I think I will just double my Scotch intake.
Me: As a medical professional, I can't really recommend that....

Friday, September 30, 2011

Advanced Directives

I'm going to get up on a soap box right now and tell everyone that they need an advanced directive. Really, get one today. Make your wishes known to your family. I would recommend choosing someone who would be able to carry out your wishes under the emotional stress that may be present in a difficult circumstance.

I'm posting this for several reasons. I am comfortable with my beliefs regarding life after death. We were all made to die. To me, it's a natural part of life, just as it is to be born. Working in healthcare, I've become more concerned with issues such as quality of life. I've seen skeletons of little old ladies unable to speak or eat and lay contracted in their beds, incontinent. Maybe this is what they wanted. But is this what you want for yourself? If you don't, make your wishes known.

Recently at work, we had an experience where a resident had a massive stroke and was found on the floor of their apartment. The paperwork is which the resident stated that they were a DNR (do not resuscitate) was no where to be found. In that case, the resident was rushed to the hospital and placed on a ventilator. The decision then fell on the son, to take the resident off life support? What a difficult decision.

Keep in mind, advanced directives are not only for when you are 95 years old. Heaven forbid that you were in a devastating car crash tomorrow...would that change your wishes? There are many options regarding CPR, ventilators, dialysis, feeding tubes, organ donation, etc. So please, file an advanced directive with your physician and review it with your family.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happiness is a choice

Growing up, I'd heard things like "you can choose your attitude" or "no one can make you mad." I thought this was the kind of garbage you hear from a lame self-help book, but I was also a really unhappy person. Luckily, I had the opportunity to grow and mature and change my outlook on life and I've come to the conclusion that yes, happiness is a choice.

Now I can honestly say that I am a happy person. I like myself and my life. I attribute a lot of this change to this.

In my work and school, I am constantly meeting new people. All kinds of people. And its given me a chance to reflect on this concept which I've decided to blog about. I think some people think I will be happy when _________ (fill in the blank.) Par example:

I will be happy when I get a boyfriend.
I will be happy when I'm married.
I will be happy when I get into nursing school.
Oh wait, I will be happy when I graduate from nursing school!
I will be happy when I buy a house and have children.
I will be happy when my kids are potty trained.
I will be happy when my kids are grown.
I will be happy when I am retired.
Etc. Etc.

You could go your whole life without enjoying a single moment of it! What a waste! Be happy now! Enjoy the stage you are in! Life changes, everyone struggles, but find something to be happy about. I come across many people who are very, very sick or who are very lonely. But some of them are still very cheerful people. Others are cantakerous grouches that no one likes to interact with.

Some people are rich, have family involved in their lives but still can't find satisfaction in life. There is one particular lady at my work who has been struggling with breast cancer and she is a widow, but oh how the room lights up when she enters! She stays busy, makes friends with everyone and goes on cruises with other friends from the retirement community. On the other hand, there is another widow who cries to me often because she is so lonely and unhappy. (Believe me, she has my sympathy and compassion.) What is the difference between these 2 women? Well, one makes an effort to leave her apartment and makes friends. She volunteers. The conclusion that I've come to, is that you must choose to be happy no matter your circumstance. Easier said than done, I'm sure.

My advice: reflect on what you are grateful for. Do something nice for someone else. Life is uncertain. Enjoy your your happy moments. Endure the not so happy moments with a smile and courage, they will not last forever. Someone wise* once said, "Life's what you make it, so let's make it rock!"

(*Please, please note my online sarcasm. However that song illustrates my point beautifully.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Paris or Bust!

I've always had the travel bug. When I was a child, I had a gigantic atlas book and I remember dreaming of traveling the world. I studied French in high school and college and instantly became a francophile. The language, the art, the food and culture....I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be born French, but took a wrong turn in the heavens and ended up being born in the US! And one of my biggest regrets is never doing a study abroad in France.

I told Luke that if he ever wants to have children, he HAS to take me to Paris first! So we have come up with a dream trip to take next summer that just makes me salivate thinking about it!

We're hoping to go to Paris for about a week, hop on a train to Rome and get on a Mediterranean cruise from there. The cruise was Luke's idea. I suspect that he is a cruise person. Anyways, it is giving me motivation to get through nursing school and something fun to look forward to.

I've taken a job for the sole purpose of paying for this trip (well, and to gain nursing experience.) I'm also offering my services for Paris fund donations (i.e. babysitting, cleaning, cooking, lawn mowing, etc!) Did I mention I'm desperate to get to Paris?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Break 2011

Instead of releasing all my nursing school stress at a College Girls Gone Wild in Florida Spring Break, I opted for a more low key experience. I'd never been to the Griffith Observatory and I'm anxious to cross off all of LA's landmarks so that's where we headed.

It had recently been renovated. It was a cool, free night in LA, I s'pose. I'm much more interested in life sciences, so space is kind of boring. We did watchh the documentary on The Griffith Observatory narrated by Leonard Nimoy which was fairly redeeming.

Einstein getting a little fresh!

I call this "Luke floating in Outer Darkness."

This is us in some kind of thermo sensor camera.

I also spent the rest of my break in one of my favorite places, San Diego. My BFF, Crystal had her baby and I went to partake in his cuteness! Overall, great break!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I have been known to go through food "phases" fairly often. One day, I'll start an obsession with a certain food and go crazy. In a while, I'll get so sick of it, I can't even stand the thought of it (I'm still recovering from the chili phase of 2004.)

Right now my thing is grapefruits. Which is sad because the can be so expensive, or so I thought. I'd heard of a place in Simi called Valley Produce and I keep meaning to go out there, but I never had the time. Then I got the ad, 4 grapefruits for $1. That was all the motivation I needed, people! Look at these bad boys!

So then the real controversy begins, how do you eat a grapefruit? Do you peel it? Do you eat it with a spoon? Do you know they even have fancy grapefruit spoons? Well, let me share my method. I slice in half and continue slicing til I get little wedges. Like so:

Then pull apart and enjoy. Do not add sugar. Do not add salt. Just enjoy what mother nature gave you. Pure joy.
An additional plug for Valley Produce: I got a TON of stuff for less than $15 including a 10lb bag of basmati rice. They have awesome variety! Can't wait to try to replicate Lalo's chili relleno burrito with the gorgeous anaheim chilis I got. Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nursing, in theory

Today was my first day at the hospital, but only for orientation. I get my first patient next week, but I wanted to write down some of my thoughts on nursing before I get thrown into the "real world" of care. I've only done book work so far so I feel like my knowledge or "experience" is only based on a perfect world, highly idealized and I'm pretty sure I'm headed for a shock next week.

But, so far this is what I really like about nursing:

1.) Nursing deals with whole people. Not just the physiological part of you but the psychosocial, developmental, emotional, spiritual, etc parts of you too. If you are in the hospital, we care about your pain, your anxiety, whether or not you have a support system, if you have financial resources to pay for the healthcare you need. People are complex...I like dealing with all the pieces of the puzzle.

2.) In nursing, you get to take all your prejudice and preconceived notions about people and put them in the trash. I'm sure I'll run across people who are drug addicts, people who abused their bodies and are now paying the price, child abusers, etc along with sick innocent children, sweet grannies with dementia and good people dying of cancer. No matter who they are, I get to care for and love them as children of God. I think that is so cool.

3.) I like that there will be variety and real people in my day. Some moments I'll be charting, some moments I'll be helping people to the bathroom (or cleaning up if someone didn't make it in time,) I'll be administering meds, calling cranky doctors in the middle of the night, etc. etc. In my last job, I worked in a grey cubicle doing the same thing day in and out while only interacting with the same handful of people. Maybe I'll come to appreciate those days, but for now, I'm excited for the change.

Will there be days that I'll deal with difficult people? Will I get frustrated, burned out and cry? Most def. But for now, in my safe bubble of nursing textbooks and mannequins I think nursing is the bomb!

On a side note, I'm also really grateful for the support network I've had for the first 6 weeks of school. Luke deals with a lot of stress crying, being trapped in the apartment because I'm too tired to go anywhere, practicing assessments AND he gets up super early to help me carry my books to my car. Did I score an amazing husband or what? My parents and in-laws have also been wonderful by sending a steady supply of food, praying for me, being excited when I do well on exams and listening to me drone on about school. I'm blessed and truly grateful!

Friday, January 21, 2011


When we decided to stay in Moorpark for nursing school, I where am I going to do my homework? We needed a desk. I went online and searched. And searched. And searched. Nothing was looking good on craigslist and I didn't want to pay nearly $200 for a particle board desk from Target.

So I went to Salvation Army on their 50% off day and bought a desk. But it was ugly. Very ugly. I needed to fix that.

I forgot to get a true "before shot," but this is a mid-paint shot.

I've never been a DIYer. I've always figured, time is money and I would rather pay to have someone else do it for me. But now that I'm a full-time student, my time is worth $0/hr.

So I did A LOT of sanding. And some painting. And my daddy let me use his tools and garage and helped me aka did most of the painting. Thanks Dad!

All it needs are drawer pulls and a chair!

Now I've joined the elite club of DIYers and have a little study corner so I can study my rear off!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Still in love one year later....

We took our caribbean cruise to celebrate our 1st year anniversary and as a last hurrah while we were still living in double income bliss. But it was about 1 month before our actual anniversary. I think the first year of any marriage is full of joy and learning. You are learning to live with another person and their "culture." You are learning to communicate and what your home life will be together. I can say that we did survive! And we still love eachother! Yay!

I just thought I'd share a journey through photos. This is one of my favorite photos together. We had just started dating and were playing "dress up" with some friends. We have so much fun together!

Then we got engaged. What a horrible and lovely time engagement is! Ha! We were so affectionate at this stage! Still are, but we couldn't stand to be apart!

This was our wedding day on 1/2/10. Our first steps as man and wife! What a happy and beautiful day! I sometimes wish I could live that day over and over again (minus the stress!) Ok or maybe just get into a big white dress and be surrounded with flowers and eat cake!

And this is us one year later. We celebrated with a dinner at Cheesecake Factory and seeing the movie, True Grit. I think it will have to be a tradition to get cheesecake for our anniversary. Our wedding cake was cheesecake and I think it's the best way to celebrate a happy occasion!

I hope our next year is as good as the first!