April 23, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

No, I'm not talking about Christmas (even though Christmas is a wonderful time of the year). I'm talking about the return of the local Farmer's Markets! The Baltimore Farmer's Market under the JFX officially opened on April 26th, but my husband and I made our first visit this past Sunday.

There are some new vendors this year and if you were a frequenter last year, you'll find that some of your favorites may have changed locations. Ruben's Crepes is no longer a vendor, but I saw the same albeit smaller menu at El Loco Taco & Crepes which is located in the Westside of the Market. Also noted is that Ruben's brick and mortar location in Federal Hill is reported as being closed on Yelp.

We got there around 9am and there was already a huge crowd of people. There were quite a few empty vendor spaces, but I chalk that up to the point in the season where the fruit/veggies just aren't ready yet.

My husband and I both wanted to try different things so he got in line for a breakfast burrito at Community Produce and I in line for a falafel wrap from Farm to Face. Let me just say that I am in love with this falafel wrap. I couldn't stop talking about it all day. All of the veggies were fresh and as I stood in line I could see someone chopping purple cabbage right there. You could get the falafel in a wheat wrap or wrapped in collard green leaves. I opted for the greens. Inside was hummus from The Wild Pea (which just so happens to be located right next to Farm to Face), apples, carrots, cabbage, beets, crispy and delicious falafel, a yogurt sauce, honey, and sriracha. It was super flavorful, filling, and healthy!

Our purchases: Cliff's Salsa (awesome) & Chips ($8), Smoked Salmon and cream cheese from Neopol Savory Smokery ($6), and Vampire Slayer Hummous from The Wild Pea ($5)

2015 Baltimore Farmer's Market List of Vendors
2015 Baltimore Farmer's Market Map

Other area Farmer's Markets include:

The Old Town Market in Downtown Ellicott City
May 9th-October 31st 9am-1pm

32nd Street Farmer's Market (Waverly Farmer's Market)
Per their website they are open year round from 7am-Noon

Howard County Farmer's Markets
Dates, times, and locations vary by day.


April 13, 2015

When the Nurse Becomes the Patient

A couple of weeks ago I had the worst migraine headache of my life. It was so bad. Dizziness, light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, the works. It got so bad that I told my husband that I needed to go to the ER. I just want to mention how wonderful my husband was during all of this. He is not in healthcare and really hates when I talk about blood and guts, but he was there holding my hair and rubbing my back when I needed him the most :)

Forgoed Happy Hour and spent my Friday getting a different kind of cocktail.
I have never been that sick that I had ever considered going to the ER so I was super anxious about going. As a nurse, I have seen the good and the bad as far as a visit to the hospital can go. I was worried that they wouldn't be able to start an IV since I was so dehydrated, I was concerned that the medicine they would give me would make me sicker and that the staff wouldn't take good care of me.

I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth everything went and how much better I felt after the cocktail of drugs I received. All of the staff I encountered were very nice and provided me with excellent care! That reminds me that I need to mail out that thank you card to the nurse who took care of me that night. Folks, if you ever find yourself in the hospital and feel like you have received great care, please at least take a moment to say thank you to the staff. Nursing (and other healthcare professions) is often a thankless job. For me, I know that at the end of a horrible day, having a patient thank me for all I did for them makes no bathroom breaks, no lunch, IV restarts, 3,000+ steps all worth it! Stepping off my soapbox now....

It was a weird feeling for me to be a patient instead of the nurse. It made me think about all of the patients I had cared for and what I looked for in a "good nurse." Was I my own idea of what a "good nurse" should be?

The honest answer is that I was probably not always living up to my idea of what a "good nurse" should be. I am wholeheartedly certain that my intent was to provide the best care possible for my patients, but there are factors that I am sure did not always make that possible. I think that nurses hold themselves to such high expectations and when one of them isn't met we tend to beat ourselves up about it. I was all about doing everything I promised my patients I would do which often times meant me not clocking out until way past quitting time. It took me awhile to realize that one person can not always complete every task, fulfill every promise, meet every need in one 12 hour shift, but by that time I was really feeling the signs of burn out.

This whole thing has really given me an even greater appreciation for the profession I have chosen for myself. Nursing really is a profession of caring!


March 14, 2015

Mr. Rogers Shows Us How to Make Crayons

As a kid, I was totally awed by watching how things were made and still am to this day. I love shows like How It's Made and Food Factory. I remember watching the episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood where they showed how crayons were made. I was mesmerized. Was it Mr. Roger's soothing voice, was it the melted wax, all the colors? All I know is that at 6 years old, I was convinced that I wanted to work in a crayon factory when I grew up.

There is a Crayola Crayon Factory in Pennsylvania that I so want to go to but it's geared towards kids... Thank goodness for the Internet and YouTube which allows me to watch Mr. Rogers take us through how crayons are made and forever remember a great childhood memory!


March 9, 2015

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

I am always intrigued by recipes that claim to be "the best." I wonder how many different recipes did that person go through in order to claim that this one was the best? I don't take claims of being the best of something lightly, but I'm not kidding when I say that this just may be the best macaroni and cheese recipe that I've come across. In all fairness, I've probably only made about 4 different recipes before this one.

This particular recipe came from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook The Original Classics. I know that in today's day and age there are so many sites to go to when looking for a new recipe, but I just love having different cookbooks on hand. Many of my cookbooks I have attached some sort of memory or sentiment to it. For example, The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook The Original Classics was given to me by my Grammie when I really started to get into baking. I've made quite a bit of recipes from this cookbook. Another special cookbook I have is one that my awesome infusion nurse coworkers made me of their recipes for special dishes they brought and took pictures of to my bridal shower. They had a foodie themed bridal shower for me, how perfect is that? :)

I wouldn't be me if I didn't tweak this recipe in some way or another... I didn't make a breadcrumb topping and I changed the amount and type of cheeses I used. I ended up using about 5 cups of cheese which included a pre-blended mix of American, sharp Cheddar, and Swiss.

I think it is really key to make sure you undercook the pasta like directed in this recipe. When you put it in the oven the pasta will continue to cook through and I don't particularly care for mushy mac & cheese. Also, the white sauce cuts down a lot of flavor so it is important to use at least one cheese with a bit of a bite to it like Pecorino Romano like the recipe calls for or Swiss like I used.

Link to the original recipe.

Macaroni and Cheese 101
adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook The Original Classics
Serves 12

8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for boiling the pasta
1/4 tsp group nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups shredded/grated american, sharp cheddar, and swiss cheese blend
1 lb elbow macaroni

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 3 quart casserole dish; set aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Melt the butter in a large, wide, pot (like a stock pot) over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time (I did 1 cup at a time) to keep the mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8-12 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and 4 cups of cheese. Set the cheese sauce aside.

5. In another large pot bring salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of the pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, approximately 3-4 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a colander and rinse under cold water, make sure to drain the macaroni well. Pour the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce and stir.

6. Pour the mixture into the buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, approximately 30 minutes. Allow to set for a few minutes before serving.


February 21, 2015

Las Vegas Trip 2015

I've been meaning to post about my recent trip to Vegas, but work has been so busy. This is a really busy time of year with all of the different programs we have going on like competency days, preceptor workshops, new grad orientation, etc., but I don't want to bore you with that nursey stuff!

3 weeks ago myself, husband, and two brothers went to Las Vegas for a little getaway. My husband and I have been to Vegas before back in 2009 (before he was my husband hehe). My brothers have never been so I really excited for them.

We were there from Tuesday-Saturday. A lot of time spent was walking up and down the strip looking at and walking through all of the hotels, man did my legs/feet hurt! Some other highlights of the trip were that I learned to play craps, we saw Gordon Ramsay walking through our hotel, saw Britney Spears in concert at Planet Hollywood, watched the Bellagio fountains like a million times (my favorite thing to do in Vegas), took pictures at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, ate some amazing food, and of course had some sibling bonding. If you follow me in Instagram/Twitter you probably have seen most of these pictures. My apologies if I overwhelmed your feed with Vegas pics, I couldn't help myself.

This sign is pretty south of the strip,  I don't think we realized that when we decided to walk here hah!
Chihuly glass at The Bellagio, so pretty. 
We stayed at the Paris hotel
Went up in the Eiffel Tower, this is 460 ft above the strip overlooking the Bellagio Fountains.
Breakfast at Mon Amie Gabi in our hotel. I've always wanted to eat here since it is one of the only restaurants right on the strip. It was great for people watching and the food was really good.
We had breakfast at Le Village Buffet in our hotel. The food itself was ok, but the desserts were where it was at! This was hands down the best creme brûlée I've ever had. In. My. Life.
In-n-Out Burger! We ended up having to take a bus, a taxi, and a bit of walking to get there but it was so worth it!
I wish I had taken more pictures of the food at Bacchanal Buffet as Caesar's Palace. OMG. We all agreed that this was some of the best food we've ever eaten. If you're going to Vegas please do yourself a favor and eat here.
It's always exciting to find Dachshund things in unexpected places!