Archive for tag: holidays

Update for the Week

It's raining again. It looks like the Florida winter might be over. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that for every other place in the country the weather has been a LOT worse than it has here. It's been, I think, the coldest winter that I've experienced since I've been here (since 2005). The crazy thing about living in Florida is that for about 5 months out of the year, it doesn't rain hardly at all. It's very, very dry (as far as rainfall goes). Of course, the humidity is still 5000%, but it doesn't rain. Come May/June it rains EVERY-SINGLE-DAY. Sometimes it only rains for 15 minutes in a day, sometimes all day, and sometimes for hours/the whole day. But it's fairly predictable.

So today, it's rained all day. And after all of the months of sun (even when it was cold), I find myself a little bit depressed. So, I went home and took my vitamin D. Vitamin D has been a buzz-study subject for a few years now. Running a quick search on Pubmed on "benefits of vitamin D," returns about 840 articles. But searching for just vitamin D yields over 58,000! Shortage of vitamin D has been linked to Multiple Sclerosis, Depression, Obesity, and Cancer. Whoa! So, what we're finding out is that the vast majority of people are deficient in vitamin D, ESPECIALLY here in Florida. For those of you coming out of a cold, cold winter up north -- I feel for you. I really do. You probably need some vitamin D too. Here's an article on Vitamin D and Depression from the Vitamin D Council. 

In other news, I have finals for the Master's in Nutrition and Functional Medicine this week: Nutritional Biochemistry -- which has been completely different than what I had at National; and also Clinical Nutrition, which has been completely different as well. I've been pleased that there's been some overlap with the information. And I have found that the background that I've received here at National has helped me with the master's at UWS. I've already registered for classes next quarter, there. I'm taking Immune Imbalances and Inflammation and the Botanical Medicine elective. I can't wait to see what shows up.

This next week brings last minute quizzes, papers, and presentations. I'm doing a presentation for PT on therapies for Raynaud's phenomenon (which I've had since I was a kid). I have yet to decide what I'm going to do my Botanical paper on. I'm leaning toward Oregon Grape Root -- but I may choose an adaptogen instead. I need to prep for a practical on knee rehab. No rest for the weary/wicked.

Some of my good friends and classmates are taking boards this weekend. Good Luck to them (and to you, if that's your weekend adventure). We have the weekend off from acupuncture, and I'll be visiting the Gluten Free for Life expo. If you're in the area, it's usually quite worth it.

Last year, Grey and I went and filled up bags and bags of gluten free goodies from vendors. I think we had GF snacks for months. I may have to find a partner in crime to go with me this time. Note to self: it's always better to go towards the END of the expo. Vendors are less worried about running out of supplies and visitors feel less guilty about taking a couple extra.

And lastly, I hope everybody had a GREAT St Patrick's Day. My granny, whose birthday was 3/17 (although I can't remember what year), would've been somewhere around 100 years old right about now. She's been gone quite some time. Little Irish woman, red hair and freckles -- was born on St Patrick's Day. Happy Birthday Granny -- whatever plane you're on.

Holiday Memories

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 started.

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 to me.

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.

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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 perfect tree.

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. Beautiful.

I want to wish you all great skill and fortune on your final exams, safe travels, and wonderful memories this holiday season.

Happy Halloween

Do you have your costume yet? Are you going trick or treating?

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 accoutrements.


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.

Fall Is Here

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.

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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 Florida.

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 up with.

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 practical form.

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 Cheesecake Recipe


  • 4 packages of cream cheese of your choosing, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 eggs (or equivalent egg replacer)
  • Crust items of your choice (cookies, graham crackers, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup of butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 325º F.
  2. Crush up the crumbs and mix with the butter. Press into a springform pan.
  3. Mix the cream cheese with the sugar, eggs/egg replacer, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Pour cream cheese mixture into crust.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes or until set. Cool for an hour or so. Place in the fridge to chill.
  6. Serve with garnish of your choice (or plain).

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 hepatotoxins).

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!

Time is Flying

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 place.

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.