Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gift for Grandma

My 93 year old grandma came all the way from Austin, Texas to Virginia to visit her grandson and his family. I had the pleasure of being close enough to drive to see her and my cousin and his family all last weekend. 

When I visited with her in the spring, she showed me some kitchen towels she had that she really liked. She likes how the dish towel is folded double.  She said that she couldn't find any more of them, so I determined to make them for her. They are really simple: a potholder sown to a dish towel with a button sown on. Of course I found a pinterest tutorial

Here's how they turned out:
So simple and I hope she gets good use from them.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Baby quilt

I found some great fabric at Tuesday Morning and then I went looking for a quilt pattern.  I found this one on AllPeopleQuilt. I halved all the pieces and added my own boarder and I'm very pleased with how the top turned out. Now I need to get brave enough to finish it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Last week's food

Last week I tried several new recipes. I was on a soup kick because I thought it would be easy to make. (sorry for the lack of pictures)

This first recipe was easy, but it sure did take a long time. My carrots wouldn't cook!!  The soup was delicious, however.
Roasted Summer Vegetable Soup

I also tried a guacamole soup from a friend's high school recipe book. This one was delicious and so easy! I smashed up half an avocado in the bottom of a bowl and mixed in some lemon juice and garlic salt.  I then boiled chicken broth and added it to the bowl with some shredded chicken and cilantro.  So tasty!

The last recipe I tried was for dessert for my life group.  I used this pioneer woman recipe: Deep Dish Fruit Pizza.  I wasn't as impressed with it as I thought I would be. I liked the look of it better than the taste.  The cookie part was rather dry (and there was so much cookie!). I also thought that the recipe made 2x the icing I needed.  The icing and fruit were delicious. I think the icing would make a great fruit dip or spread. And if I were to try this again, I would probably try making individual fruit pizzas from individual sugar cookies (so there would be less cookie). I also might try a different cookie recipe to see if I could keep it from being so dry. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Natalie MacMaster - Volcanic Jig

This has inspired me to pick up my violin again. Surprisingly, I remember my fingerings and I can make some sound. :) I would need some practice to play this well (and fast).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer Vacation - Part II - Asheville

Michael and I drove back to Virginia from Texas because he was working at a band camp and planning to stay for a while in Virginia so he needed a vehicle of his own.  I had been wanting to visit an old friend of mine in Asheville for quite some time, and the drive back seemed like the perfect opportunity. Fortunately, it worked out for her as well.  We drove around the Biltmore grounds, tasted their wine, ate great food, watched the Fourth of July fireworks in downtown Asheville, and drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Asheville is a quirky city with lots of great food and shops. I would love to visit again and do some hiking (and more eating).
views from the Grove Park Inn - beautiful!


Biltmore wine
Farm Burger

Blue Ridge Parkway and orange watermelon from Texas

Looking Glass Falls - great for people watching (just like reality tv)
Battery Park Book Exchange - enjoy wine while browsing used books!  That's my kind of place!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Vacation - Part 1 - Austin

This year, my summer vacation was mostly spent seeing family in Texas before I start school this fall.  The impending stress of school full-time and work full-time means I don't know when I'll have the opportunity to see everyone again.  My 93 year old grandmother lives in Austin and since Michael was with me, we took some time to explore downtown before seeing my aunt and my cousin's baby in New Braunfels. We didn't catch some of the best parts of the city, but we did get to spend some time around the University of Texas. 
View of downtown Austin from Mount Bonnell

View of the Colorado River from Mount Bonnell (this is where the rich people live)

Peacock at the Mayfield Nature Preserve

Austin Murals (I would have liked to see more of them but I didn't know where they were)

State Capital building


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Health Care Economics

I just finished a Health Care Economics class last week and I found it fascinating. I would take more economics classes if I had the time.

One of the books recommended by the professor is this one by David Goldhill:

I just finished reading it and I think it has content that many in our country should read. I had no idea that there was another way to think about how to pay for healthcare other than the current insurance model.  From both the class and this book, I have learned that we treat health insurance unlike any other insurance we buy (ex: we don't expect car insurance or home insurance to pay for regular maintenance) and that because we expect for health insurance to pay for all of our health care costs, it creates waste and increased spending.  I don't know how we're going to get out of the mess we're in, but it looks like it might bankrupt us.  This book is definitely worth a read if you have the time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

More Quinoa

I was craving a vegetarian inspired meal and pulled the quinoa out of the cabinet again. I also had some beans in there.  With a few extra purchases, and a wonderful pinterest recipe, I created these quinoa stuffed bell peppers (I halved the recipe since I'm only feeding one):

Saturday, March 15, 2014


As we think about spring...
I did not expect all the snow we got this year, but it sure has been beautiful!



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Easy and delicious pasta

I was scrounging around my pantry for food and settled upon making this dish. I ate it for 3 nights it was so good! I had breakfast sausage left over from egg cups I had made for my Life Group. I cooked penne pasta, then used the same pot to heat up some garlic and herb flavored canned tomatoes, baby spinach, and the leftover sausage. I mixed it in with the pasta and shredded parmesan cheese on top. It was absolutely delicious!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Giant messenger bag

I bought fabric for this project in January and I finally got around to trying to put it together. I used a pattern from pinterest (of course). I unfortunately made the handle too long, so it hangs at an awkward place on my body and I don't love the corners, but I do love that it will hold EVERYTHING and that I was fairly successful in completing this project. :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014


I have recently discovered quinoa. I tried to eat it for breakfast and it was okay...  The best use so far was when I added it to a corn salad I had frozen from the summer. Delicious!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lentil Soup

I neglected to take a picture, but I made a delicious soup last week from the PICU cookbook.  Here's the recipe:

1/4 c olive oil, divided
4 large links of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced/diced
2 garlic cloves, minced

pinch of salt
pinch of red pepper flakes

1 c lentils
2 bay leaves
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
6 c water
black pepper
3-4 c shredded kale
shredded parmesan

Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat.
When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up until it starts to brown. 
Add the onion, carrots, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.
Cook until vegetables soften a bit.
Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water, salt and black pepper to taste.
Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until lentils are tender (about 40 minutes).
Discard the bay leaves.
Add kale and cook until leaves are tender.
Serve topped with shredded parmesan.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Blogs I follow

I have started following some interesting blogs. Here are some of the ones where I've gained money saving tips:

Living Well Spending Less
Once a week she posts links to other money saving blog posts.

Money Saving Mom
She posts WAY too frequently (many times a day) about too many topics, but some of the posts I've found to be most helpful are ones on super coupon offers.  She also does a weekend giveaway which is fun to try to win.

Live Like You Are Rich
She had a really good article on compound interest and one on couponing at Kroger among other miscellaneous posts.

And Then We Saved
She had a really good post on how to make extra money on the weekends.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Skillet Popcorn

 A few of my colleagues were talking about making homemade popcorn a few weeks ago so I had to give it a try. They had counseled that I be sure to get good quality kernels and hunt for brewers yeast for a cheesy flavor. I am always budgeting, so I opted for the cheap Food Lion kernels and I was unable to find any brewers yeast at the same store. 

The recipe on the back of the bag said to:
 Put 1/4 cup of oil in the skillet along with a kernel of popcorn. 
Cover the skillet with a lid.
When the first kernel pops, add enough kernels to cover the bottom of the skillet and cover again.
Shake the skillet as the kernels pop. 
When the popping slows, remove the skillet from the heat. 

These directions yielded the most wonderful popcorn I think I have ever had!  I sprinkled on a very small amount of garlic salt and I nearly ate the whole batch (a large one) in one sitting. I have since made several more batches, always saving some in an air tight container for a later snack. My coworkers had warned that it is addictive and they were so right!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nacho cheese

I attempted to make homemade nacho cheese a few weeks ago modeled after a recipe similar to this one.  Mine turned out a little lumpy.  I think I was impatient.  I also wanted to put salsa on the nachos rather than in the cheese. It will be worth another try in the future.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

And the Mountains Echoed

This book was the topic of my newly formed book club this month.  I was amazed how Hosseini was introducing characters right up until the very end of the book. It was so sad and so real how the relationships and connections did not turn out perfectly, but that there was good in the lack of a fairytale ending. It's not as good as The Kite Runner or Hosseini's other book, but worth a read.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


I love this bread! I'm going to Ireland with a good friend from work and we got together after one of her day shifts to plan. She had made a yummy soup and this delicious bread.  She shared the recipe with me and of course I had to try it myself. Mine did not come out quite as delicious and moist as my friend's. I think that maybe I added too much flour to keep the stickiness down or that my yeast was old or my house too cold.  I ended up finishing off the loaf (because I'm not one to let food go to waste), but my efforts will require tweaking next time.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tuna Quesadilla

This recipe came on a tuna pouch. I had never before used cream cheese in a quesadilla, but it makes it extra gooey and delicious.  I made homemade tortillas from this pinterest recipe and used some tuna that had been sitting in my pantry. I left out a few ingredients since I didn't have them, but I definitely recommend trying a tuna quesadilla.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Scarf for Mom

I made this scarf as a belated Christmas present for my mom. The scarf I had originally made for her did not meet her specifications (soft and a solid color) so I had her tell me what color she might like and pick a pattern from pinterest. She settled on this one in purple and this is the result:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

ANA Quality Conference

I was fortunate to be able to attend the ANA Quality Conference in Phoenix as a poster presenter.  I was awed by the entertainment (an American Indian Hoop Dancer and a singing cowboy)

and inspired by the speakers (Dr Lucian Leape and Bernadette Melnyk) and nurses sharing their quality improvement efforts.  I learned that quality care can be fun and I'm excited to bring the energy of the conference back to my workplace.  I also ran into my roommate from nursing school. She lives in LA and we had fallen out of touch. It was awesome to catch up with her and hear where her career has taken her. She is so motivated and will go far in life!

We also got the opportunity to explore the Desert Botanical Gardens after the conference ended.  Chihuly was having an exhibit there at the time. It was so cool! 

We stayed to watch the sunset over the desert and to see the Chihuly pieces lit up at night.

I had never planned to visit Phoenix, but I would like to go back and explore more of the desert.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lasagna soup

I have been trying out recipes that I can freeze and take to work and eat over a longer period of time. I had really been wanting to try a lasagna soup and settled on this one.  It wasn't great with the first bowl, but it grew on me over time.  Best of all, it was a crock pot recipe so it was really easy.  I'm still trying to figure out what to do with the remaining vegetable juice (as I don't like it enough to drink it).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sewing project

I have a problem with clutter. I saw a solution I wanted to try on Pinterest and I finally got around to making these:

I used the idea from Pinterest, but basically made it up as I went from measuring the back of the chair and the magazines/books I wanted to put inside. I doubled up the fabric and then folded up and sewed the pocked from the folded edge.  I particularly like the fabric I found. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes!

A friend of mine made these for a going away party last year. I was due to bring salad and dessert to my life group and thought they would be fun to try.  I particularly love the frosting which is more like a whipped cream (and not too sweet). The recipe can be found here.