I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving!!!! I also want to
take a moment to wish a Happy Chanukah to my friends that celebrate
and also a Happy Holiday season!
This is my last blog of this year, and of this trimester. I wanted
to thank all of you for reading over the year and spending your
time with me.
I'm going to forego the tips and tricks for coping with finals --
we've been there, done that. I'm going to skip the recipes and
healthy living tips. Instead, I'm going to share a story.
This is the time of year when I get the most nostalgic. I have a
million wonderful memories of the holiday season. It's always been
my favorite time of year. As a kid, I would spend hours untangling
Christmas lights, decorating the house, and making random crafts
and cookies. I don't even remember how old I was when all of that
Christmas was always a really special time for my dad and I. We're
both still a lot like little kids, even now. My dad worked -- a
LOT. He worked both as an RN and a CRNA almost my entire childhood,
so he didn't have a lot of free time. We would often work in the
garden, run random errands, or do special projects on Saturday
mornings -- because that was one of the few times he didn't have to
work. Those Saturday morning memories have always been very special
I must have been maybe 8 or 10 years old the first time I remember
us going to get the tree. Since I grew up in Central Illinois, it
was often cold and snowy by the beginning of December. Like
clockwork, the decorating started the first weekend of the month --
before that was too soon, after was too late. The boxes were pulled
out of storage, having lain in wait the whole year for just this
event. I'd dump garland and lights all over the living room floor
and then carefully unpack each ornament. Each one always had a
story -- whether it was hand made or store bought.
(Image Source: stamp4fun.typepad.com)
It always seemed like the coldest day of the year when we would
go search for our tree. My dad and I would bundle up in whatever
big poufy coats we had, 4 pairs of socks, boots, and usually
overalls (at least for him). Sometimes we'd let the dog (Tubbs, the
wonder mutt) ride in the back of the pickup truck. I really don't
know how he didn't freeze -- it seemed so cold. I don't remember
what we'd talk about on the drive, but it must have been something
like piano recitals or Christmas programs at school.
We drove to a Christmas tree farm out in the middle of nowhere (I
think it was Meredosia, maybe Beardstown), pulling back into a
field dotted with trees and cactus. Tucked back down a long
driveway were a couple of barns, an old farmhouse like ours, and a
bunch of tractors. We'd check in with the owner and he'd send us on
our quest. We drove up and down the sandy roads (Christmas trees
grow best in the sand -- or so he'd tell me), looking for the
Sometimes we remembered the saw, and sometimes we didn't. One year
I remember cactus spines stuck in my socks, running nose, standing
opposite my dad around a HUGE Christmas tree trying to convince
ourselves that it wasn't too big. (It was -- but we got it anyway.
It left a sap mark on the ceiling that stayed there for about 5
years. It also fell over, and we ended up with a 3-foot tall
artificial tree at some point in the season. Incidentally -- it was
beautiful while it lasted). We'd crawl under the tree, make our
cut, and load it into the back of the pickup truck. The heat never
seemed to work all that well on those days, but it didn't matter.
We were triumphant.
The rest of the day was always a blur. There was usually a tree in
a bucket of water, my brother and my dad carrying it into the house
while I was on "needle patrol," and my mom was taking pictures of
us all with her camera. By the end of the day it would all be done.
I want to wish you all great skill and fortune on your final
exams, safe travels, and wonderful memories this holiday
Do you have your costume yet? Are you going trick or
It's that time of year again and my mind wanders back to the
smell of fallen leaves and the colors of the trees. It's a time of
pumpkins, little kids wearing plastic masks (at least when I was
growing up), and hyperactivity from too much sugar. Many of the
neighborhoods around here do a TON of decorating for Halloween.
You'd think it was Christmas, with all the lights and
Someday I'll do all of this stuff again. I used to go all out
with decorations for every holiday. There's one house in the
Crescent Lake neighborhood (where these pictures were taken) that
gives away polished stones and wishes. It's pretty cool.
Tell me the truth. How much candy have you eaten already? I
always try to make it through the season without eating any
Halloween candy. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. There's
been candy floating around at school already. I think this year
qualifies as a failed evasion. I'll try to keep it from going
further downhill. It might not be that bad. Of course, trying to
combat it with the gym and some otherwise healthy eating will be a
definite must. I'm on it!
The temperature has dropped temporarily, which makes it "chilly"
(upper 50s-60s) at night and not quite as hot during the day. I
understand that it's only temporary, as it's supposed to be in the
mid-80s by the middle of the week. This is the time of year when I
realize I have absolutely no "warm" clothes. None whatsoever. I
have to stop myself from going shopping to buy these things--as the
cold snaps are USUALLY only temporary and don't "stick" until late
December/January and stop by mid-February. Layering is helpful. I
must admit that seeing my fellow students in the interactive
sessions in Lombard walk into class in their coats and sweaters
makes me both sad and glad that I'm someplace warm.
How did midterms go? We have one more on Wednesday and I think
we're done for a couple of weeks. We have several right before
Thanksgiving again--big projects and exams. I can't believe how
quickly it's all gone by! It'll be Christmas before we know it. I'm
not going to lie--last week was tough. I think it might have been
one of the toughest midterm weeks I remember having. Three
radiology exams in one week do not make for a low-stress life. This
week should be more low key.
So, if you were trick or treating in Crescent Lake, and stopped
by the Fairy's house--what would your wish be? Think about it, and
get back to me.
Experimental Pumpkin Brain Surgery
Have an amazing, responsible candy-eating Halloween Week. And if
you dress up, send me a picture. Maybe I'll dress up and post
one--or maybe not.
The calendar says it's fall. I never would have known. I'm
honestly ready for the weather to be cooler. It's about this time
that I start missing Home. Around this time of year the leaves
would be falling, it would be sweater weather, and somebody,
somewhere, would be throwing a hayride in a pumpkin patch. Surely
the scents of firewood and burning marshmallows waft through the
air somewhere on this planet right now.
(Image source: timeatthetable.org)
Midterms have already started. So far there's been one. There
are two this week and the week after and I don't even want to look
at my schedule after that because I know it's UGLY. Things are
going so fast. My fellow students are already making plans to go
Home on Thanksgiving break. I'm inclined to bake and sew and do all
the things I used to do when the weather would normally cool off.
One of these days I might have to turn the AC down to 60º in the
house and curl up in a blanket just to get the same effect. I guess
there's something that I'll never get used to about being here in
We're coming up on Halloween and there's a big Halloween potluck
sponsored by the Motion Palpation Club. We're all discussing
costumes for the event. I don't want to ruin it for anyone--so I
won't drop ideas or tell what I've heard. I imagine we'll have some
amazing costumes. We've got some crafty and creative
people--especially in my tri. So, I can't imagine what they'll come
I'm still working on my marketing project. I present right
before Thanksgiving and I have so much work left to do. I'm
inclined to go off the deep end and jump headfirst into my most
ideal practice's business plan. I've got some pretty lofty
ambitions with a pretty broad scope. Some may not even be feasible.
I don't know that it will ever happen, but a girl can dream, can't
she? My classmates and I have traded ideas in the hallway, while
waiting for class to start, and in the parking lot - but I don't
think that anyone has actually laid everything down in some type of
Special thanks to Dr. Jourdan, who is letting me exercise my
baking muscle and have someplace to share my baked goods (so I
don't eat them all myself). We've been having "Breakfast Friday" or
this next week "Coffee Monday." This week it's cheesecake (gluten
free, of course). I'm hoping to convert more of my recipes to
Paleo--including this one. It shouldn't be too hard. This
recipe is VERY simple--few ingredients and easy to adapt.
Andrea's Favorite Simple
The conversion to Paleo will probably start with using coconut
sugar in place of regular sugar. I'm not sure that vanilla is Paleo
friendly, but I could probably use powdered vanilla bean instead of
liquid vanilla (never use imitation vanilla--it contains
The crumbs could be anything. I'm sure I can come up with a
Paleo friendly cookie of some sort. I've made cheesecake crusts
with everything from brownie crusts to homemade graham crackers.
Hopefully by the end of the year I'll have accomplished this. I've
also made this recipe gluten free and vegan before. Just substitute
Tofutti cream cheese or rice based cream cheese (if you can find
it) instead. It was actually richer than the dairy based version.
You can also add an orange oil or lemon oil to the cheesecake to
make it more flavorful.
Good luck on all the midterms coming up, everybody. I'm planning
a series of blogs with something unique for all of you--maybe
starting next week. We shall see.
If you make the cheesecake, drop me a line and let me know how
you like it and what ingredients you used. Enjoy!
Another week gone by, where does the time go?!?!? Monday starts
Week 6. That's only 9 weeks left in the tri. This tri definitely is
going faster than every other tri thus far. I'm not complaining!
One of my illustrious classmates has a countdown to graduation
going. If I asked her, she'd probably tell me it was something like
2 years, 2 months, 1 week, 5 days, 6 hours, 32 minutes, and 52
seconds--or something like that. I think we're all happy to learn,
but will also be VERY glad when we're done. Last week we were all
asked what our goal is. Instead of "bring about world peace" or
"cure cancer," every single person said, "Finish the program!" That
may be telling.
The first exam of the tri is over. Everyone lived through it--no
matter how many of us thought we might die. We have one week "off"
and then 2 exams each week for the next 3 weeks. I MUCH prefer this
to what I've had in most of my previous tris--8+ exams in one week,
right on top of each other. I always felt like I was cramming
non-stop because I couldn't do the studying justice.
Hats off to my classmates in Diet and Nutrition. Every single
one of the presentations that I've heard, thus far, has been
absolutely amazing. I can't wait to hear the remaining talks.
There's been SO much information presented. I had the pleasure of
giving my talk on Thursday. I never could get my slides down to 30.
I think it was somewhere around 64. Oh well, I honestly could've
taught a seminar or an entire tri's worth of classes on this one
topic. There's still so much to learn. Special thanks to Dr. S for
answering some of my own questions (and not grilling me too
much--although I was ready).
In anticipation of the next three weeks, I took a little bit of
time out to tackle other responsibilities, projects, and decompress
this week (end). I can't (or won't) tell you where the pictures are
from. If I did, I'd lose my favorite "hidden" spot. Truth be told,
if you can see in the distance the Sunshine Skyway, you'll know
it's somewhere within sight of there. I've gone to this spot many
times to clear my head, watch the water and the rays swim below, or
the herons catch fish on the shore. It's a quiet and magical
I also found the time to run by the Wagon Wheel Flea Market on
Saturday (it's right down from school). They have a HUGE farmer's
market presence, and their produce is ridiculously cheap. They also
have infinite amounts of junk to look at - from knock-off Pokemon
cards to plants and flowers. I'm sure I laughed more than a few
times at some of the things I saw there this weekend. If ever you
want to have high trans-fat, breaded and fried candy bars, and
you're not near the fair (which just happens to be in town right
now), do check out the flea market. Or check out the
produce--you'll probably fare just a bit better there - your body
will thank you. The thing that surprised me was how unique some of
the produce was. They had these HUGE spiked fruits--I think they
were Durians. I should've taken a picture of those! They were about
the size of watermelons (and slightly scary!).
Last, but definitely not least, Happy Valentine's Day!!!!
Whether you support Hallmark, are on your own (by choice or not),
or are happily involved, please share your Love with others this
week. Happy Valentine's Day to my Beloved!!! Happy Valentine's Day
to my boys, AND Happy Valentine's Day to all of you! Thank you for
sharing your time, with me.
• After the DC Degree
• Botanical Medicine
• 1 Year at National
• Marketing Project
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