Thursday, December 13, 2012

Eat, Drink, & Be Merry

Yelp sure knows how to throw a great party.  Last Thursday I finished up my second to last semester of genetic counseling graduate school by rocking out my embryology exam.  After that, I knew it was time to celebrate so Jessica, one of my first years, and I headed to a local culinary school for a Yelp Elite night called Eat, Drink, & Be Merry.  I only brought along my phone so I documented everything via iPhone and Instagram. 

The evening started off with champagne and appetizers.  There were sweet potato latkes with a goat cheese and lemon mousse, butternut squash and water chestnut soup, and a duct prosciutto crostini with apple butter.


I was kind of sad the latkes weren’t warm but everything was awesome.  Plus, I’m a sucker for a glass of champagne so I refilled my glass as we moved out of the receptions area to start out tour. The idea of the night, which I LOVED, was that we would tour the entire culinary school and stop as various places for new tapas and alcohol.  Our next stop was a seafood and meat kitchen for white wine and a full plate.  We had another soup but this one was a cold potato soup with onions and leeks, a little endive leaf filled with some papaya salad, a crostini with sauerkraut and braised cabbage, and a crostini with fig jam, granny smith apple, and melted brie.  The last was my absolute favorite.  I honestly had four of them.  Haha.


Sushi made its way onto our shared plate but we forgot to document it.  It was your basic type of roll with, in my opinion, an excess of rice.  Not a huge fan but the students who were making the rolls were still learning.  I can cut them some slack!  We moved on to another room filled with a bunch of stove tops.  Here we had two kinds of margaritas: a rhubarb and a key lime.  I tried the rhubarb first and then had the key lime.  The latter was better but both were tasty.


That’s the rhubarb one with the lingering bits of my glass of white wine. The food in this room was a trio of seafood terrine with shrimp, lobster, and scallops; a lamb “lollipop”; and a fruit salad in a phyllo dough cup.


I wasn’t a fan of the lamb (perhaps I’m just not a lamb girl) so I gave that to Jessica, and conveniently, she wasn’t a fan of the terrine so she slid that onto my plate.  The fruit salad was a nice way to round out that course and cleanse the palate.  From here, with margaritas in tow, we headed up to the penthouse.


There we found our last tables of food and a wine and beer bar.  My first plate had all sorts of savory bites.  I tried the sesame dumplings, cucumber discs with salmon mousse, squash cups with chorizo meatball, shrimp ceviche with plantain discs, and a cornbread with mango salsa.  Best thing on the plate: dumpling for sure.


Second round consisted of a trip to a whole other table: shrimp with cocktail sauce, sweet and spicy shrimp (hotter than I was expecting), a meat filled samosa, a beef kabob, and a crostini with a some delightfully salty ground beef mixture and pesto.  The bread was fried on the last one and it was so ridiculously yummy.  I went back for seconds of that and the samosa.


I nursed a glass of great red wine while trying all the different foods.  Jessica, my partner in crime, actually recognized the wine just by the cork.  It was hilarious.  We both enjoyed the selection.


We ended up sitting with a great couple and had some fantastic conversation.  I think they definitely contributed to a wonderful time at the party.  All four of us got a bit excited about dessert, and rightfully so.  It had its own table!!


On this much to small plate I had a chocolate and coconut truffle, some carrot cake roll, a strawberry macaroon, some decadent chocolate ganache/fudge, and an incredible lemon meringue.  I went back for seconds on just about everything.  It was all too good to pass up.  And while we snacked on sweets, there were ornaments to decorate.  C’mon glitter pens!!  Fairly sure it took a million years for our co-designed masterpiece to dry.


We ended up staying so late that we closed the show down.  It was honestly such a great night.  Fairly sure we went back to my apartment and chatted for hours.  Fantastic way to wrap up the semester!!

Now, in other news, I’m doing an internship at a reproductive firm that does PGD.  I love it.  I’ve been happily busy during my days there doing things like observing consultations, following up on frozen embryo transfers, looking at results, learning how to log samples, and just learning from the counselors.  The one bad thing: the commute each way is about an hour and a half.  Boo that.  At least now I know that is a bit much for me.

Questions: What is your favorite tapas-type of food?
When was the last time you got crafty?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Secret Mustard

Today was an exercise in procrastination.  First I woke up and spent more than my fair share of time thumbing through Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook on my iPhone.  It was incredibly relaxing.  When I finally removed myself from my warm sheets, I headed to the gym for some 40-odd minutes on the elliptical.  Felt good to sweat and it worked up my appetite so much so that when I got home I whipped up some French toast.  It has been so long since I had some!


I smeared some almond butter on both slices and then sprinkled on flax seed and chia seeds.  The final touch was maple syrup.  Super brunch, I must say.  You would think it would have set me up for a good day of studying but I just took the opportunity to wash dishes and clean off my couches (the classic spot of magazine drop off and paper dumps).  I got terribly little done before making lunch three and a half hours later.  I did manage to study one whole embryo chapter in that time.  Oh yea, that’s what we call progress.  Haha.

Anyways, late lunch rolled around and I made myself another lemon pepper egg salad sandwich, this time with cheddar cheese.  Sides of sticks: both pretzels and carrot varieties.


I really do love egg salad.  I don’t know what it is but it seems to be a craving lately.  Might as well indulge.  Hello protein!  Not an hour after lunch I was trying to study another embryo chapter but my eyes were not cooperating.  I gave it after trying to fight it for all of ten minutes and laid down for a nap.  I set my alarm for 30 minutes but woke up refreshed in 25.  I continued to study fetal neuroanatomy while horizontal in my bed.  Given my recent shut eye, I actually was able to power through lots of “development of…” flowcharts.  I came up for air around 6:30 to make dinner.  Who’s up for fried rice?


I used some of my leftover brown rice from the other night and sautéed it with sesame oil, onion, canned (read: sad-looking) mixed veggies, and some fried egg.  I used the split pan method to cook the egg after cooking the onions down and adding the veg.


Final step was the seasoning.  Usually, soy sauce is enough but after a trip to a hibachi grill, I learned that the secret was mustard.  Who knew?  Not me but after having a bite, I knew it would go in every single fried rice recipe I made from now on.


If you’ve never tried it, seriously you should.  Use a spicy mustard not the regular yellow stuff.  The point is to give the whole dish a bit of a zing.  Works perfectly.

After dinner I studied a bit more, called and chatter with mom, did some more cleaning, and watched some shows on my DVR.  Think I might keep that plan going and then go to bed.  Before I head that way, I wanted to share a great song with you.  I know it’s not Tune Tuesday but let’s face it, with the way things have been going, I might not be able to post this on the right day.  So why wait?

Questions: Ever made homemade fried rice?
How was your lovely Saturday?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sassy Shoes

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the sassy shoes I’ll never buy –>


I tried to walk and it was almost a public disaster.  I’m obviously not that skilled.  I didn’t intend to buy them to begin with though.  They were only $18 but I know that I rarely where heels, let alone platform heels.  However, I know that anything orange at least gets me to stop and look, or try it on as the case may be.  I ended up getting what I really came for though, thankfully: replacement standard black shoes fore everyday wear.


Forgive the ghost white hand.  Clearly store lighting is fifty shades of awful.  You get the point though.  I was actually really glad to have found these on the clearance rack.  I love spending less than I intended on something.  I think I made up for it though when I went next door to Walmart for bread and walked out with much more than that.  Try pudding, cereal, carrots, cheddar cheese, eggs, and the originally intended bread… Oh well, all necessities on some level right??

One more thing before I head out to enjoy taking the rest of this Friday night off, I wanted to share my newest, extremely tasty version of egg salad: the lemon pepper kicker.  In the mix:

One hard-baked egg, mashed with a fork
One stalk of celery, minced
2/3 tbsp of light mayo
1 tsp of mayo
A healthy dash of lemon pepper seasoning

It was perfectly dressed (not overly wet from too much mayo like a lot of egg salads) and clung to my bread like a champ.  Perfect dinner.

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Question: How often do you wear heels?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rotten Tomatoes

You know, when you want tomatoes on a salad, finding that all your selection has molded is a harsh blow to take.

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Seriously, I bought these literally two days ago.  I hadn’t even undone the plastic!  I guess in retrospect perhaps I should have undone everything and washed them.  You know, I figured they were safe.  How wrong was I?  Instead, I busted out a can of tomatoes and used those.

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You could taste the difference but the awesome creamy goat cheese, lemon pepper seasoning, and light Caesar dressing hid the canned flavor fairly well.

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It was overall a good dinner which I was grateful for because honestly I was starving most of the day from 2 o’clock on.  I ate lunch early because I was hungry and then my tummy was grumbly not two hours later and I ate a Kashi snack bar but sadly that did very little to settle me.  Then I had to sit through a whole class on ear and eye development (aka one of the last weeks in embryology).  By the time I got home I was hangry!  Anyways, on another random note, I found an interesting, rather irritating flaw in my embryo book while I was reading about signaling stuff.

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Gahhhhhhhh!  Doesn’t anyone edit anymore?  Oi.  Sometimes I think I should be a book editor…and then I remember I want to counsel people and I get over it, real quick.  So, for now, I’ll just be angry for a few moments and then have dessert.  Later group!  Have a wonderful Thursday and an even better Friday because we all know that is basically the weekend.

Questions: When was the last time you found a mistake in a book?
How do you keep your produce from molding?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hurry Up Rice!

Today didn’t feel like a Wednesday.  Probably because Jack and I got back from Thanksgiving vacation on Monday.  I started off the day with a breakfast cake which I totally failed to take a picture of before I wolfed it down following my 35 minute elliptical session.  I spent the rest of the morning running around getting my mandatory flu shot (ugh, I predict soreness tomorrow!) and being the patient for first year role plays.

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By the time lunch rolled around I had already made some decent progress on my second patient letter from yesterday’s counseling sessions.  I even got my evaluation back from one of the appointments and I was happily surprised to see this –>

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Talk about one awesome feeling.  No improvement comments!  I shouldn’t let this go to my head though as I have another patient tomorrow and there is always room for little tweaks here and there.  Anyways, I got hungry around noon and pulled out my variety lunch.  Last night when I was packing I was really, really indecisive so I just grabbed whatever I felt like in the moment.  Part one: two hard-baked eggs with homemade curry spice blend to sprinkle.  Part two: celery and green pepper slices with BBQ sauce.  Part three: an apple.

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Needless to say I munched my way through everything as I continued to work on my patient letter.  That sucker ended up being three pages, size 10 font, single spaced.  Large and in charge my friends!  The whole afternoon was a blur of studying and more letter writing and editing.  I swear my fingers get such a workout in this program!!  By the time I got home I was hungering for some mandarins so I peeled two and quickly sucked them down.  More school work ensued (I’m boring, I know!) and then at six o’clock I decided I wanted something marinated and I wanted rice.  Oh good, it is already dinner time and I’m wanting stuff that takes quite a few minutes to prepare.  There isn’t really a way to hurry up rice…but I wanted to honor my desires though so I had some pretzels to tide me over while I made dinner.

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I started off by mixing a 1/4 cup of soy cause, a tablespoon of honey, a tablespoon of rice vinegar, a 1/2 tsp of five spice, and a tsp of minced garlic together.  Then I poured that over a Trader Joe’s tempeh block cut into four thin “steaks”.  Thankfully tempeh soaks up marinade super quickly so the fact that it only marinated for half an hour didn’t matter much.  I baked it at 350* for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.  I also roasted some onions tossed in olive oil, basil, and garlic.  My rice cooker did all the hard work while I baked.  I didn’t soak the rice, obviously, because of my lack of foresight but it worked perfectly.  Plus I made more for leftovers!  Also steamed the last of my frozen broccoli.

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A nice well rounded meal I must say.  The butter in the rice really did it though.  I forgot how sultry butter on starch can be!  A bit later I wanted something sweet so I grabbed a caramel rice cake and smeared it with some peanut butter (a natural brand from Aldi for super cheap and its actually really great, score!) and pressed some mini marshmallows on top.  It was heavenly.

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Please ignore the utterly full and dirty sink in the background.  I promise I washed them all before I sat down to blog.  Now I’m off to sleep.  I have to lift in the morning (still on stage three of NROLFW) as long as my left arm is actually functional given that it was assaulted by a needle today.  Here’s hoping.  Sleep well blog world!

Questions: Did you get a flu shot this year?
Are you a fan of mini marshmallows?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Opportunity Lost

Today was a rough day.  The kind of rough day that shakes you to your core.  Makes you remember just how out of control your life is sometimes and how good cries are rarely pretty.

It all started last night.  I was invited to an ugly sweater party with some of my first year classmates and friends.  I made some so-called slutty brownies to bring and others brought cookies, veggies, dips, and “tiger butter”.  There were dough wrapped meatballs, fresh tomato and feta salad on pieces of bread, buffalo chicken dip, and chocolate dipped pretzels.  For drinks we have everything from various types of wine to champagne punch and hard cider.  Needless to say we had more than enough food and I ate wayyy too much.  It all tasted so good and my self-control went out the window.  I was stuffed, deliciously stuffed.

Naturally when I finally got to bed it was something like 2am and since I’m normally up at 6am my body is hard pressed to sleep past 8am.  As you can imagine I was awake and sadly wired at 8:15 this morning.  Because I felt like a ton of bricks, sluggish, and really unhappy with my weight (obviously thank in very large part to all the goodies I was probably still digesting) I went to the gym.  I then spent the next two hours there.  I started off with the stationary bike for 50 minutes, followed by 30-40 minutes of NROLFW stage 3 lifting (wooo, it’s getting rough), then 35 minutes on the elliptical.  What a grueling morning, huh?  And, unfortunately, I’m not above saying some of that two hour gym time was motivated by penance for the night before.  Not the most healthy motivation but I’m just being honest here.

After a shower, I headed to a lunch meeting at my church about the storytelling ministry I am a part of.  I decided to call my mom on the way to chat about some sad news I got about a local job opportunity.  It won’t be happening which means in order to work in the specialty that I want to tackle most of all (infertility, assisted reproductive technology) I may have to move away from where I am now.  I may have to move away from Jack.  I may have to leave a part of the country I am just so comfortable in.

When I got the news on Friday I was professional about it.  I spoke with the doctor about ways that we could continue the conversation and different patient populations I could see.  I held it together.  I still had so much of the day to get through that I couldn’t lose it, I couldn’t fall apart.  I mean, I was bound and determined to not let it have this huge effect on me.  I mean, it’s only one job and I knew it was a long shot, I would have been creating a position from scratch.  I admit though, I want to do that some day.  And the reason this opportunity didn’t work out had absolutely nothing to do with anyone being at fault.  It is simply a numbers game.  There isn’t a big enough patient population to “feed” a genetic counseling position.  I get that, and I respect that.  It doesn’t mean I wanted it to happen any less though.  I was born to be an ART/infertility counselor.

Anyways, I hadn’t really assimilated what had happened, what it all really meant.  Essentially, the way I see it now, the likelihood that I have to move to find the perfect position just increased.  And that’s scary (and in some small ways kind of exciting too, changes in scenery are neat sometimes).  So, on the phone with my mother, on the steps of my church, in broad sunlight, and in the middle of pedestrian traffic I broke down.  I cried.  I sniffled.  I heaved.  I caught my breath.

It was good to get it out.  It was better to let myself fully grieve that opportunity loss.  And this wasn’t the end.  After all, it is only November.  The “employment season” for freshly graduated genetic counselors is just really beginning.  But you know, in the moment, it feels like crap.  It feels like it is over.  It feels like nothing will fit you and your future careers desires that perfectly again.  I don’t know what it would be like to be so far away from the ones I love.  I could end up who knows where.  And the whole thing is happening so quickly and so slowly at the same time.  We have five months left.  FIVE.  Then we’re going to be big kids, with big kid jobs out there in the world…

So, yes, it’s easy to despair, it’s easy to shut down when what you so desperately wanted falls through your fingertips.  And it’s easy to think that long distance will be the end of lots of things.  But then you receive a message that makes you cry again but this time for one of the best reasons: you realize just how loved you are and just how strong your relationship is.


And suddenly things don’t seem so bleak, they don’t seem so overwhelming.  I wiped away the tears, gave a meek smile, and turned on some laughs to lighten the mood.  Comedy Central came through.  Achmed never fails me.

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Questions: When was your last, good, “ugly cry”?
Who is your favorite Jeff Dunham character?

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