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Monday, June 29, 2009

Complicated family stuff: my brother is an athiest

Well, here I sit, waiting to become an Aunt (my sister in law is in labor right now!) thinking about how having kids is such a big deal and huge responsibility. Parents have to care for this little baby and feed it and tell it bedtime stories and instill manners and give it toys that aren't made in China ... and even if you do all that the right way they might grow up to be an axe murderer or a Scientologist and then everyone blames the parents. And it's more than just blame. I imagine the parents feel a certain amount of guilt themselves, even if their child's foibles are no fault of mom and dad, and certainly parents still worry. I only know one set of parents (mine!) who stop worrying about their kids once they turn 21, but my parents have an excuse because they have so many little kid at home to worry about. That does leave me to do a lot of the worrying, though.
My big worry right now is my little brother Joey. That's his real name, sorry Joey, I'll protect random strangers on this blog but not you kiddo! It's the price of being in the fam, tough luck.
Anyway, Joey was always a pretty good kid after he emerged, butterfly-like, from an extended "terrible twos" phase that lasted until he was 9 or 10. He did his homework, won local races, volunteered at his local church, learned to garden, had a steady job with a landscaping business where he was rapidly promoted and well-liked. He saved up cash for college, left the cramped and oppressive nest I call "The Compound", and went to school to major in botany, since he had quite a green thumb. Along the way, he took a biology class, fell in love with Darwin, and - quite suddenly - became an atheist and stopped speaking to the rest of the family.
How to respond? This is creating big waves in the family. We're pretty conservative: one brother's major is theology; we all fall into one or another Christian denomination; for a while my parents didn't even have a TV (aka Satan Box). Joey bid us goodbye with a quick "I don't have time for ignorant people" kind of email, but I think the best response would be an email or call to say "I still love you, call me sometime" and avoid the entire topic for now. After all, he's a college freshman. Chances are excellent that he'll grow out of this. I feel like letting it lie. But the problem is not all family members think this way. My brother in law, who frankly irritates the crap out of me, sent Joey a long and irate email that completely sidestepped the issue and focused instead on the "ignorant" slur. PUH-lease. Some college kid called you ignorant, so what, get over it. Most college kids think everyone else is ignorant. And thanks for alienating my brother, bright stuff.
So things to ponder as I formulate my response to Joey:
1. This change is not unexpected. My parents have fallen into religious extremism at times, so this is a typical rebellion.
2. I may need to undo harm done by bro-in-law
3. Establishing contact is the first step
4. I just want to be talking to him again and help him understand his decision doesn't make him the enemy. We can disagree for now and get to the bottom of this later (yeah he's entitled to his opinion but I am a Christian and do want to have my say eventually! Just not right away!)

Ok, advice welcome! Help me handle this one!

Friday, June 26, 2009

[cheap] Foody Friday: Crockpot beans

I'm sort of reveling in my unemployment. I love being frugal - it's like a game to me - and now I have a legit excuse (It would be horrible to be making a pharmacist's salary and be forced to save money without compelling reason, right?!). Most of the time, however, I absolutely over-indulge in food because I consider eating both a hobby and a necessity, so I double budget for food. I spend lots when I go out to eat, and I go out to eat a lot. Of course I live in New Orleans, so who can blame me? But I'm surprisingly thrifty in the kitchen (My husband calls me "Iron Chef meets Frugal Gourmet" because I can take whatever we have hiding in the pantry and turn it into an inexpensive feast). Since one of the most expensive items on the menu is meat, I often cook without it - or at least without much of it. One of my favorite meatless entrees is beans: almost any kind, from white beans to red beans to pintos. Cooking beans is a challenge when you're not home though. Here's the classic beans recipe, one that takes all day (but no pre-soaking required!!!):

Put a pound of dried beans in a large pot with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes; turn off; let sit one hour. Return to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 3 hours or until tender. Add seasonings, etc.

Since I can't usually sit around all day waiting on my bean pot, here's the almost-as-good crock pot version:

You may or may not soak your beans overnight. If you soak them overnight, cook them on low all day. If you don't soak them, cook them on high. Unfortunately some beans require soaking AND high temp, such as kidney beans or garbonzos.
Put your beans in the crock pot, add water to 1.5 inches above, turn pot on. Stir when you leave and when you get home. Add seasonings as soon as you get home so flavors can blend for a little while as you set the table and pry open a bottle of wine.

And a word about seasoning: This is really up to you. Most people in these parts do the whole red beans thing with onions, celery, peppers, garlic, sausage and ham, etc. I generally don't go to too much trouble, but I like to throw some veggies in a pan, saute them with seasoning, then add to the pan. Here's an example:

Dump in a pan:
1 onion, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
plenty of minced garlic
a bay leaf
salt and pepper
3 TBS red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp red pepper
1 tsp oregano
smoked sausage if you like (if you aren't using sausage, drizzle some olive oil in the pan to decrease sticking).

Saute on high until it starts to stick to the pan, then add 1/2 cup water and scrape the pan. Cook on medium until onions are soft. Add to beans. Correct seasonings.

Fabulous, healthy, and cheap (I think pinto beans are still $0.43 per pound).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to become apharmacist: the complicated career path

Last night I received my pharmacy license - hallelujah! - and I took a moment to reflect on this journey-to-a-job. You know, you should really take notes. I have some fabulous pointers here.
Step one: Completely write off all math and science in highs school because you're an artist and math and science are meant for people who know how to use a graphing calculator.
Step two: Accept art scholarships to a small private college. Acceptance of said scholarships requires the occasional wearing of a head scarf or snakeskin patterned pants on campus. Fulfill your ONE required math or science credit by taking "Finite Math" aka "Football Math". Enjoy being the only non-jock in the room and bragging that you already know the rules for dividing decimals.
Step three: Wake up one morning and realize that you are not a good enough artist to make a living. Art's my hobby, not my job. Randomly choose to change major to pre-pharmacy.
Step four: Realize you are WAY behind in your pre-pharmacy classes. Realize that the only class you've taken for two years that will count toward pre-pharmacy is basic English. Realize you have to take 8 hours of trig and calculus - which you've never taken before ever - for pre-pharmacy. Realize that you don't know how to turn your TI-83 on, and that you are getting ugly stares from students who are TOTALLY HP FANS. Cry a little. Go home and paint for therapy.
Step five: Refuse to give in! Wake up the other side of your brain! Take and pass the CLEP tests for Trigonometry and Calculus and get credit for 8 hours you never had to take (still never did real math in college, so fun)! End up tutoring physics and organic chemistry! Pretend you think DNA is cool and vectors explain everything!
Step six: Apply for 4 schools, get accepted to three prestigious schools but NOT the one school in your own neighborhood. End up choosing one in the boonies. Ugh. End up transferring back home after one semester, wasting an entire semester of credits (sounds familiar eh?).
Step seven: Do great in school while working yourself to death. Never say no to anyone! Take on leadership, several jobs, and a husband all at once.
Step eight: Spread yourself so thin that you are not truly dedicated to any one company or cause [not good in health care]. Get a job offer that seems low-stress. Take it, blowing off the offers for oodles of money for big companies.
Step nine: Graduate, pass the boards with flying colors, and get a pink slip before your job even starts. Can't go back to other companies now; they've filled their spots. End up searching for high stress jobs with an hour commute just to have something to show for 8 years of school.
Cry a little and go home and paint for therapy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CHeap date Wednesday: real stuff on Youtube

Ok, really cheesy, I know... but seriously there is some good stuff on Youtube and I'm not just talking about someone's hapless child making strange mouth noises or that guy who does the half an hour long dance montage.
I'm talking about old series that are off the air that you'd have to buy on DVD otherwise. Specifically. I'm talking about Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes! I'm a Holmes addict and devoted Connan Doyle fan, and I believe Jeremy Brett actually WAS Holmes, he was so perfect. Some gem of a copyright-infringer posted segments of the Sherlock Holmes series from PBS and I've been devouring them. It will be even better when it's cold out: Snuggle up with the honey and hot cocoa for a scary mystery!
Go watch The Speckled Band and tell me if my devotion is misplaced. Best ever.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I met my heeeeeroooo!

Job hunt update: lots of tears, lots of phone calls, a couple of leads! Keep your fingers crossed!

Now for stuff I really care about: I met John Besh, my favorite chef of all time! I was heading to City Park to run my free-for-all race and stopped at my favorite little wine store to pick up some sale bottles. As it turns out there is a farmer's market in the parking lot on Thursdays, and I can never resist fresh produce. Well who should be Creole tomatoes right next to me? John Besh. I had to introduce myself, then I blamed him for making me fat (it's true!). He graciously denied the fat but I think that was just so I'd keep going to his restaurants.
Pretty cool. I wonder if he's hiring waitresses?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's REALLY complicated now

I can't even come to grips with the complicated turn my life has taken since Friday.
Friday I lost my job. Before I got it. This is the job I have been groomed for. It was a position created especially for me, and I've poured time and effort into this job-to-be, working late nights instead of studying, giving up my vacation days to go to work, all with the goal of becoming a pharmacist at this facility later. But good ol' Uncle Sam canned that one: Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement cuts are costing our tiny hospital a projected $3 million per month, and my position got cut. The sad thing is that my boss begged me to turn down other offers because she really really wanted me in this position, and I did!
Let's break this down:
- I have 10 years experience in pharmacy
- I am valedictorian
- I have a 4.0
- My resume includes published research (twice), written protocols for major medical centers, winner of every clinical contest available, 20 or so awards and scholarships, winner of best pharmacy student research state-wide, multiple leadership positions, and oodles of cute little little things like "winner of this race" and "winner of that art contest".
- Basically I'm over-qualified for any typical pharmacy job and under-qualified for any fun job like "director for the whole state's medicaid drug program". Stinky.
- I don't have a job

Life isn't fair. And so I join the ranks of the unemployed, with terrible timing. You see pharmacies recruit and hire in November in anticipation of graduations in May. All the spots here are taken! I will probably have to commute an hour if I can even find a job that close!
And of course hubby was out of town when I got the news and is returning today so I get to greet him with GREAT news.
I'm pretty down about this because I feel like I have had so many disappointments recently. I've heard several pieces of bad news in the past month, and have had several personal disappointments. I keep waiting for the sun to break through the clouds, but things just keep getting worse.
This is also difficult for me because I'm very independent and I've had at least one job since I was 14 years old!
So that's today's complication. Next week: time to hit the job market with all I've got!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cheap date Wednesday, a day late

I kind of forgot about this yesterday, but I'm running a race tonight that sort of counts as a free date. If getting muscle cramps is romantic to you. And you think sweat is sexy. Anyway, I guess there are some people out there who think an exercise date is fun. I'm one of them It's just that my husband isn't. So usually my exercise "dates" are forced and he kind of hates me for it.
I am participating in these wonderful free races hosted by the New Orleans Track Club. They're just 2 miles, they're free, and of course they're followed by free beer and Chee-wees (they're baked, not fried, so you can lie to yourself about the calorie content!).
Last year I hosted a series of "race parties" after the summer races. It was fun because people are willing to run just 2 miles, and afterwords we met at my house for a sort of healthy dinner - for example, grilled spicy chicken wraps, fresh fruit, white wine, and cantaloupe granita. Delicious! People who lived nearby ran home to shower; everyone else took turns at my house.
It was so fun - you should definitely try something similar; you can even host your own "race" in your neighborhood if your city isn't a great source of exercise opportunity.
Tonight's date is with other runners because my husband stood me up to go to a prayer retreat this weekend (the nerve!). I'll post my time later!

MPJE - brought to you by the letter C

Let's just say I was clicking that "c" choice way more than I probably should have. If possible I feel worse about this test than the NAPLEX! I'll keep ya posted!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cheap Date Wednesday: Lunch out

The idea here is very simple. Pick a fancy restaurant that is out of your budget, then do to LUNCH there instead. Two of my favorite restaurants here in NOLA have incredible lunch menus for very reasonable prices: Maple Street Cafe and Luke (check out the $15 express menu!).
I don't actually get a cheap date this weekend because my husband is going on a retreat this weekend, meaning that I have to spend my first weekend of freedom from studying all alone. But I can't really complain because he's spending the weekend in prayer and meditation, so I'd be pretty witchy to say something, right?
Instead I'm taking a friend to lunch for a cheap date!

A peach by any other name, or "A Perfect Example of New Orleans Service"

Last night I had to give in and go grocery shopping or we'd be eating spaghetti with raspberry jam for breakfast. I hate making groceries at any time, but I really didn't want to go when I should be memorizing how many grams of codeine are allowed in a 100 ml bottle of schedule III cough syrup (BORE-dom. My test is tomorrow though, so by Friday I should have forgotten everything I crammed up in my brain-attic). I decided to run down to Winn-Dixie, which was a bad idea on two accounts: for one thing, that involved changing into close-toed shoes because that store is notoriously dirty. For another, I have bad feelings for the Winn Dixie because I had my wallet stolen there two years ago (on New Year's Eve, too!). Basically it's a really creepy place but I go there because we don't have any other grocery uptown.
So I dragged myself through the aisles, listlessly throwing things in my cart (Haagen Dazs was on sale, so much for losing weight), then lined up and one of the TWO open registers. My cashier was kind of crabby. So was I at this point - I was in line for 20 minutes just to get to the check out belt! As Ms. Cashier started checking, she got to a bag of peaches that she couldn't ring up. She asked if they were nectarines, and I said no, they were peaches. She asked what kind of peaches. I said regular peaches but they are the ones on sale for $1.29 a pound this week. She gave a little shrug, hit a few keys - and rang my peaches up as nectarines for $2.99/lb! I said, "Excuse me, those are peaches, not nectarines," and she shrugged and said, "Well I can't find the code for peaches. I've done all I can do." Um, really? Have you? Your job is to ring my groceries up and you aren't even doing the bare minimum! You just asked me if those were nectarines and I told you no, crabby lady! I had to ask her to call a manager to look up the correct code for the peaches, which she did, but she huffed a huge sigh and rolled her eyes. Am I asking too much to have my groceries rung up correctly? Apparently so, in New Orleans. I love this city but every service industry acts like they are doing you a huge favor - no concept of keeping customers happy by your excellent service. The sad thing is it works just fine because in a pinch I'll be right back at Winn Dixie, guarding my wallet with my life.

By the way the peaches were excellent, almost worth the trouble...but the Haagen Dazs was better.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A little about my job

It seems as if all I do all day is sit at home and type random complaints about life, right? Well, that's actually only how I spend 58% of my day. Believe it or not I actually have a job. In fact that's an understatement; I usually have 3 or 4 jobs going all at once because I'm kind of a pharmacy busy-body and like to know what's going on in all the corners of my pharmacy world. During my last year of school we had to complete 7 internships that added up to 10 months of 40 hours per week work for free. In addition to on-site work, many preceptors sent projects or research home with us, which made adding a part time job to that really tough. Nonetheless I managed to balance four jobs last year: A retail pharmacy, a hospital pharmacy, private tutoring, and teaching test-prep classes for the MCAT, PCAT, DAT, etc. Basically I never slept or relaxed for 10 months straight.
Right now I'm trying to wind down to just one full time job, like normal people have (I flatter myself by categorizing myself with the normal people!). I'm starting full time at a hospital pharmacy once I get my license. Now many people don't even realize that hospitals have pharmacies and pharmacists, and that we process orders for all the patients drugs, deliver them, make IVs, answer questions, and run a lot of clinical programs required by Joint Commission, the hospital accrediting body. That's cool, if you don't work in a hospital I don't expect you to know what we do. But what amazes me is that the co-workers we interact with the most - the nurses - absolutely don't know what we do. This is a huge education opportunity here. No matter the scenario, a nurse will call us in the pharmacy in confusion ("I have to give 2 grams of magnesium. Are you going to make me an IV or do you want me to hang two pre-mixed bags of 1 gram?" "My patient is supposed to have Zantac but all I see is ranitidine" "I can't find Renagel in the med machine" etc). We will explain the answer to his or her question (I'm so politically correct!), think all of our problems have been solved, then we'll get the exact same question the next day. This is constant. For example, we use a pneumatic tube system like banks have in their drive-thrus to send medication to the floors. Everyone is aware of this system. Nonetheless we get called at least 10 times a day by a nurse looking for a drug. We'll ask, "Did you check the tube system?" and there will be a pause then, "Oh. No. I'll go check."
Now I am not complaining about nurses. If I worked in a retail pharmacy like Walgreens (boo! Walgreens is the devil!) I'd be answering questions from patients instead. That's my job. But I think there needs to be a little education here. Since we work together so closely, we should be familiar with each others' protocols and systems. Once I'm a pharmacist I am going to incorporate a little training into the nursing orientation. One step closer to utopia!

Monday, June 15, 2009

NAPLEX: Check!

After agonizing for days over my NAPLEX (the pharmacy licensing exam that I was pretty sure I failed) I got my results back: Not only did I pass, I made an almost perfect score.
Ok, I'm confused! Grateful and giddy, yes, but also confused. How does one take a test and leave persuaded they failed, then get a sky-high score back? I think it has to do with the "Computer adaptive test" format. That is, the computer responds to how well you answer by giving you harder and harder questions for correct answers, or easier questions when you get things wrong. Your score is based on not just how many questions you got right, but also how difficult the questions were. Frankly I think this is dumb. It punishes you for getting questions right. I think when you get hard questions right you should get an easier question as a reward. In fact maybe you should get an easier question, and a chocolate truffle should pop out of the wall for you. Once you get 50% of the difficult questions right, you get a shot.
Seriously though this format is dreadful. You can't assess your performance at all, and you feel like an idiot because you just keep getting tough questions. I was sitting there thinking, "I can't believe I have another question that I really have to think about here...can't they give me a super easy one like 'which of the following medications is used to treat asthma?'" It just wears on your confidence.

But hurray, that's over with, no I just have to take the law portion. Which reminds me to scoot off and start studying for that! Let you know how that goes down this Thursday!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Antenna Armageddon

Hubby and I are in the middle of a huge fight. We are at the stage where we are still civil, but every menial conversation becomes a platform for our disagreement. The sore subject? A TV antenna. You see, I could not possibly care less
a. What is on TV
b. What the picture looks like
Hubby, on the other hand, is obsessed with a perfect HD picture. This kills me because to me it all looks the same, plus who really cares that the football game is in HD? A tackle looks the same in grainy black and white or reverberating crisp color.
Behind my back David bought this totally ugly antenna that is supposed to look like a picture frame. The problem is that the frame part is ugly fake wood... plus it actually works better outside the frame, meaning that we have this gross piece of cardboard that used to go inside a frame on display in our living room...and to pick up some stations it must be prominently displayed on our mantle, making us quintessential white trash. Oh my gosh, it is ugly. Now granted, our decorating has suffered since I've been glued to the books (There are dead flowers sharing space with the used-to-be-framed antenna on my mantle) but this is just beyond tacky. It's got to go. I'd much prefer a plain old ugly antenna that actually looks like it is doing its job. My rule of thumb is that most things that are made to look like something else for camouflage are tacky. Case in point? Those dopey crocheted dolls that sit on top of your spare rolls of toilet paper.
Take a look at the ugliness above and vote: keep the horrendous thing? Or shell out the cash for a new antenna that looks like what it is?

Friday, June 12, 2009

[diet] Foodie Friday: pasta salad

I've been studying for licensing exams for almost a month now, which means that a good part of my day is spent sitting on my rear in a coffee shop, as often as not munching a pastry. It also means that I can use the "I have better things to do than exercise" excuse to skip running or working out. The result of this combination is a couple of pounds of pudge that I don't know where to put.
I'm not going to panic about the weight; I actually planned to kind of let it go then whip back into shape after testing (probably not the healthiest plan!) but I decided to start at least focusing on healthy meals. Once I'm done with tests I'm going to do a quick shape up by eliminating desserts except once a week, eating all healthy meals (which I usually do anyway), and upping my exercise by adding about 10 miles a week plus daily strength training. I should be back to normal in a week or two. I'll let you know how that plan goes!
For now, here's what I've been eating:
Sort-of healthy pasta salad
12 oz whole wheat rotini, cooked and cooled
1/2 can pinto beans
1/2 can garbonzo beans
1/2 tiny can chopped black olives (these cans are packed with olives, you just need half of it!)
handful of green olives, cut in half
1 can diced italian style tomatoes
1 small green pepper, chopped
2 or 3 scallions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
optional: cubes of muenster cheese (I added it because I had some lying around)
Italian seasoning of your choice - I used some basil and marjoram
crushed red pepper
red wine vinegar

Simply combine all ingredients in a large bowl and season to taste with spices, red pepper, and vinegar. The canned tomatoes create a sauce that just needs to be perked up with vinegar. Leftovers may need an extra sprinkle of vinegar before serving since the pasta tends to soak up the sauce.
Serve with fresh fruit. Yum!
PS - you don't need much to fill you up: the whole wheat pasta plus legumes makes a very filling dish and should keep hunger away all afternoon!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I'm sure you will think I am inventing this in order to spice up my really hum-drum blog, but I'm not. As soon as I posted my sippy cup mishap, I zipped out the door for a quick run (synonymous with "bout of heat stroke"). I got to the park and promptly got clocked in the head with a softball a small child threw at me. Do I have a target on my head today?!

Attacked by a small child with a sippy cup!

Seriously, who invented sippy cups with stainless steel? That's what this little prepster was armed with.
I was innocently studying at Starbuck's for my NEXT HUGE EXAM when a family of ill-behaved Nords (ok, tall and blond) entered. After (naturally) sitting next to me, they proceeded to allow one child to mix his cookie and milk together in his palm, then smear it on the table that I was using (dangerously close to my books). The younger child rubbed chocolate in his fair locks, then began bouncing a metal schoolbus toy on the ground, far too close to my eardrum. His mother smiled indulgently and laughed, "He's sure not helping you study, is he?" Nope, not. But it got worse when he suddenly picked up his hefty little sippy cup and hurled it at my head. Now I have apple juice in my hair and a sizable bump on my forehead! You will be glad to know that I responded by graciously handing the cup back although I actually thought I should be able to throw it back.
The worst part of the story is that the visit concluded with a group bathroom visit...when I visited later I found that not only had the parents left their kids' cookie and milk art on all the tables (and had not thrown away empty cups or napkins either) they had let their children urinate on every surface in the bathroom. And one of them left that accursed school bus on top of the toilet paper dispenser.
Now maybe I crossed the line here but the mom came in a couple of minutes later to retrieve the school bus and I asked innocently as she passed, "Do you want to take the rest of your cookie with you too?"
Maybe that was a tad sarcastic. Sorry, I wasn't myself, it was the delirium brought on by the head injury talking.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How did my test go? Thanks for asking!

Yesterday was the big pharmacy licensing exam (there are actually two tests; next week I take the law portion). I was not at all nervous simply because I have a health condition that prevents me from being nervous or even having healthy fear. Seriously. I don't think that part of my brain works. I can't get nervous even if I TRY in order to get my blood flowing before a race!
So I sauntered in, cracking jokes with the receptionist (she gave me that, "I KNOW you took a propranolol" look - that was for my pharmacy peeps, they'll get it), acting like I knew everything in the world about pharmacy.
Then I took the hardest test anyone has ever written. I believe Satan and his minions actually write these tests in their spare time.
It was so bad that I left and went to Steinmart next door to the testing center in a complete daze and didn't realize I'd bought a charming cotton scarf until I was halfway home. I didn't cry because my face was frozen in an expression of horror.
I felt better after a few sazeracs. Did I pass? Stay tuned!

Cheap date wednesday: poetry reading

Ok, this sounds cheesy but it is really a lot of fun. Here's how to have a great romantic date for FREE!
1. Go to the library and browse for great poetry: of course love poems are appropriate here, but it is also nice to find a new poet or style. Experiment. If you aren't really a poetry buff to begin with, here's your chance to really break out of the boring date mold, this can be a learning experience as well as a fun date!
2. Both of you select several poems to read. And when I say read, I mean perform! Have you ever seen Anne of Green Gables where she's reading "The Highwayman" with much drama? Like that (although I really hate her character in the books and in fact think Lucy Maude Montgomery was not very talented. I just liked that particular reading, and in fact I memorized that poem after I saw the movie. I was 6!)
3. Get the house pretty: if possible set up a stage (curtains will do just fine) and a podium. At least light a few candles and move the stack of newspapers off the coffee table.
4. Get yourselves pretty. Dress up, as in formal wear! There's no reason for that old bridesmaids dress to just sit in the closet. Any date becomes an event when you are in formal attire. Plus that's half the fun.
5. Take turns reading poetry with much aplomb and applause and feel free to have a commentary or question and answer session too. You can get all literary... or just bs it, which is fun too.

It is actually very enlightening to hear what your sig. other chooses as a meaningful poem. Also a fun event with a group of friends and of course great photo ops.

Above: me and the hubby dressed up for a date night. I designed that dress but picked the worst, wrinkliest fabric!! :-(

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Frenemy update!

I was recently griping about my husband's no-good frenemy and Nicole had some good advice. Her recommendation is a friend break-up, and this is definitely a step we need to take.
But of course the plot thickens! Just when I was succeeding in persuading hubby to lose this loser, things got more complicated. Now we basically have two choices when it comes to dealing with this situation:
1. The original plan was to do the "slow" breakup: just distance ourselves; be unavailable; don't answer the phone; take a long time to respond to emails, etc. This would be kind of easy because Frenemy lives out of state now.
2. The complication that leads us to choice #2 is that a hint was dropped that hubby is expected to be part of the wedding party of frenemy's impending nuptials (because of Frenemy's behavior, he has few friends who are not estranged, so hubby is an obvious choice). This makes a great excuse for a more abrupt way to cut ties. If hubby turns this request down, it could lead into a "I don't think we are such close friends" kind of comment.

The pros and cons? Choice 1 is easier, nicer, lazier. But this guy is sneaky and pretends not to understand when you tell him no, so it might not work. Choice number 2 seems cruel, but it may be the only way to permanently escape AND avoid attending an overseas wedding that will turn into us paying for the entire event (which is exactly what would happen). shall we handle this? Or are their better ways to go about the breakup???

Monday, June 8, 2009

Test Tomorow!

Tomorrow is the big day - the day I take my NAPLEX, the pharmacy licensing exam. I gave myself three weeks to study everything I learned in 6 years of school...then I took quite a few hours off to work, tutor, teach classes, change my status on Facebook, make brownies, go to parties, and rearrange my bookshelves. Probably not the best study plan. Tonight I am working the late shift at the hospital, but I think that's ok because it will force me to get out of study mode and prevent me from cramming (which is detrimental to your long-term memory. I know all the rules, I teach for Kaplan Testprep!).
After the test hubby and I are going to dinner at La Crepe Nanou, my favorite restaurant in the world and site of our first "real" date (we met once before but it was more like introducing ourselves instead of a date).
Then unfortunately it's back to the books - I still have to take the law portion of the exam in a week and a half!
If you never hear from me gain it means the test was really hard and I committed hari kari.

Friday, June 5, 2009

It's Foody Friday with Flavored Coffee!

To me, coffee is not only a food, it is one of the five major food groups (along with chocolate, avocados, red wine, and cheese). And one of my favorite coffees is Pj's Santa's Blend. This is simply the best coffee in the world. When you brew it, the house is filled with the scent of spicy Christmas goodness. It is divine. The taste is only a mild flavor - hint of spice, really - but it is to die for. The only problem is that Santa's Blend is available for a limited time, about November through early days in January. The first weeks of January usually find me feverishly pawing the shelves of various local coffee shops in a search for the last bag or two. I grab as many as I can afford during the Christmas months, then I HORDE them through the summer months. On a steamy, gray, rainy July morning nothing beats retreating into a cloud of Santa's Blend steam.
Then horrors! My supply dwindles! In September, the cupboard is bare and I am crabby. My solution is to imitate the flavor as best as I can. I freely admit that this homemade version is not as good as the real Santa's Blend, but it's pretty close.
1/2 lb of medium roast coffee, ground
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking cocoa
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Put the coffee into a large glass baking dish. Carefully sprinkle the vanilla over it evenly and rub it through the grounds with the back of a spoon to evenly distribute. Sprinkle the spices on and mix them in well. Put in an airtight container (glass is best; it keeps the clove oil from reacting).

Any recipes or food raving you'd like to share today? Share! It's Friday! The day we think about food all day!! (or wait, that's every day for me...)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Make your own dried herbs the lazy way!

Why buy dried herbs and pay $7 for a bottle that only holds like 2 teaspoons, when you can create your own for so much less? My method is proven! Simply buy potted herbs from your local grocery- or do like I did and pay extra for organic ones from Wholefoods - then leave the tiny plastic pots out in the Louisiana sun while you go out of town. Forget all about them, then discover them in a couple of weeks when you notice a mild minty smell near the mailbox. Look how easy that was!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wednesday is "cheap date" day!

Since we're about halfway to the weekend, I decided Wednesday is a good day to share cheap date ideas so we can all start making plans. Now by date I don't just mean boyfriend and girlfriend. This can be go out with the girls stuff, fun places to go with kids, etc.
So I need all readers' help here. I want to hear your date/event plans that don't break the bank! In fact I think I am going to impose a price limit.
$25 per person. That's not that cheap so I think you can handle it.

I'll go first because actually I have a cheap date TONIGHT!
One of the nice things you can do for free in New Orleans is attend free concerts during the spring and summer months. This Wednesday, it's John Boutte and Trombone Shorty - two great locals. You're supposed to buy food and drink at the event (there are vendors) but I think I'll be packing dinner instead. Doesn't that sound like a great break from studying?
Jazz/soul concert - FREE
Bottle of Yellow Tale - $4.99
Pita Sandwiches - $4.00
Streetcar fare (there and back, 2 people) - $2.50
Total date $5.50 per person. Yay us!

SO what are you doing this week/weekend for less than $25 a person?

Post-work out boost - chocolate milk!

I read an interesting article today that reported that a glass of low fat chocolate milk after exercise resulted in less muscle damage when compared to an energy drink (usually a high carb drink). Now I don't ever really work out to the point that I need to "recover" per se, but sometimes I am hungry after a work out, and a snack that also decreases muscle soreness sounds like a good idea to me. The only problem is I don't really like sweet beverages - maybe regular milk works just as well?

What's your after work out snack?
And do you eat BEFORE you work out, or does that make you feel like you have Stone Henge in your tummy?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My husband's frenemy

My husband has a frenemy. I'll call him Rick (because what I want to call him is in poor taste). This fellow is funny and a good conversationalist, so people put up with him, but the fact of the matter is that Rick takes advantage of all his "friends". Let me give you a few examples:

1. During hurricane Katrina, he and his girlfriend evacuated together in the girlfriend's car - Rick doesn't own a car. His girlfriend had just accepted a job in New Orleans over one in another state; upon realization that her new job was history she called the other employer and accepted the job. Rick agreed to drive her to the airport and keep her car temporarily while they sorted out who was going to live where, etc (those were crazy times). However, this entire time Rick was planning on breaking up with her. He waited until they got to the airport though, just so he could keep her car since at that point what else could she do with it!
2. Then when he damaged the car through misuse, he called her to get her to pay for it.
3. He invites you to dinner, then tells you at the end he has no money.
4. He persuades hubby and another one of his friends - who did not know each other - to come with him on vacation. They made big plans to share a condo together; another of Rick's friends was acting as a sort of trip coordinator. Well, day before the trip Rick backs out because he's "broke" leaving three people who do not know each other to go on vacation together! Of course they all broke down and pooled money to pay for him to go - which is disgusting.
5. He pretends he thinks you are doing him a favor and thanks you profusely in front of people so you feel cowed into paying his tab/giving him a ride/doing legal work for him/buying him dinner/hosting him a party.
6. He promised to attend my bro in law's wedding and invited himself to the rehearsal dinner. After bro in law paid for Rick and his date, they never showed - to the rehearsal or wedding - and never called.
7. He is a GOSSIP. He gossips about everyone behind their backs! In fact, he constantly belittles my own husband to me, but he does it in a really clever way that makes it impossible to debate. For example, today I unfortunately ran into him while getting coffee. He asked how hubby was, then sighed, "when is David going to start making any money?" implying that my husband is a failure. Which he's NOT. He's a successful attorney and was recently promoted. But how do I respond? "He's doing great and we're rich" sounds totally pompous. Agreeing is totally disloyal. Instead I gave him a weird look (I hope it was a "why are you asking this" look) and said, "We're doing just fine thank you." Of course I know he just wanted to provoke me into telling him some juicy private details about our finances. What a jerk.

I have made it clear what I think of this despicable advantage taking friend. It's not like David doesn't know he's being taken advantage of - he's just too nice to say no. The most recent affront was Rick asking us to meet him for drinks last week then revealing that it was actually his "engagement party" (at a bar???) and that we were expected to host! As usual he acted confused and said he thought we knew. WHAT-EV.

What do I do with this slime bag? What do you do with your frenemies... or your spouses frenemies...or friends of your sig. oth. that you just don't like?

Gifts for those with everything!

My darling sister in law had a birthday yesterday and I had a hard time finding her a gift. She has a lot of clothes already; she still lives at home so it's hard to get her household items; she's particular about beauty products; and of course she just graduated so she got just got lots of gifts a few weeks ago.
While wandering about Magazine street a few weekends ago, I chanced on a great place to grab a unique gift: an antique store. I browsed for at least an hour and found so many great gift ideas! I ended up getting her the adorable book pictured above. It may fall into the "useless" category, but it's her style and she sort of collects old fashioned pictures and such. She's very artistic so the engravings and poetry should tickle her pink! I hope she loves it!
Thanks to the recession, many antique stores are drastically reducing prices, so now is a great time to find affordable items. This little book was 50% off.
Other antiques that would make fabulous gifts:
1. Silver baby spoons and cups. The antique sets are beautiful shower or christening gifts and are comparably priced to new ones.
2. Antique art, especially local art - this includes framed posters and advertisements as well.
3. A few select pieces of silverware that don't have to match the rest of the service are a lovely wedding gift, and one or two pieces from an incomplete set are quite inexpensive. For example, cake servers or salad tongs; ice pick and ice tongs; punch ladle; nutcrackers.
4. Along the same lines, silver bottle openers or other bar accessories make good fathers day gifts.
5. I found a great quantity of antique (or some of them were just OLD) books that would be perfect for book lovers. An especially good choice is an early edition of a favorite classic.
6. Even if you can't afford large furniture antiques, you can find reasonably priced jewelry cabinets, silverware boxes, serving trays, and bookends.
7. Teapots seem to outlast the teacups and saucers and can be functional pieces or decorative (keep in mind that antique ceramics may have been lead-fired and should not be used with edibles. Silver teapots are safe though as long as they are actually silver and not pewter, which also contains lead. No wonder life spans used to be so short).
8. I found two or three beautiful sets of hand mirrors and combs, two silver and one a very elaborately carved tortoiseshell.
9. Victorians loved pointless decorative items. Tiny hinged painted boxes are nice to "wrap" money or gifts cards in for graduation or birthday gifts.

I'm sorry the pictures look weird today. I don't know why this blog won't format, how annoying.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Did you know I'm from Ghana?

'Cause I didn't. But apparently I am, according to my alma mater. As you recall, I recently graduated from pharmacy school.
And today all the honors graduates were featured on the website, along with our hometown. Turns out mine's Apam, Ghana (see above - looks nice, doesn't it? Wish I was on a boat ride!).
Surface research revealed that one of the area's big industries is casket-making. I think I may have missed my calling.

Anyway, for clarification, the hometown is good ol' NOLA, but I think Apam is totally my second choice.