On the Lighter Side

There has been a lot for me to think about lately in regards to myself and how I need basic reminders of character development, etc. Summer classes began two weeks ago at 8:30 AM – about 96 hours after my last final of the spring semester.

However, on to lighter topics for a bit. Believe me, there will be plenty more deep thoughts in the weeks to come.

So, let me introduce you to my coping mechanism:


In my defense, I can make a box of Girls Scout cookies last 2-3 months. These packages lasted about 3 or 4. I was in the store picking up a few things to fill-out my week for groceries when I saw the display: Double Stuff. Golden. I was drawn to it like a fly to honey. Of course, seeing both options I couldn’t resist.

During this summer, I hope to change my coping mechanism to biking or outdoor activity or swimming. Then again, cookies and cream, in moderation of course, is rather therapeutic.


Cheese Fail

This is not cheese:

From the Kraft Velveeta Facebook page

From the Kraft Velveeta Facebook page

And neither is this:

Read on to see how these came about as rather relevant during the past semester.

Ah, student nurse clinical – where all the fun begins. I finished my Psych clinical with relative ease; not too heavy on the paperwork, observations completed. I was heavily appreciative of my instructor giving us a broad spectrum of the mental health system. We saw a few competency hearings in court; we traveled to a women’s prison (inmates have a higher percentage of mental illness than the population at large). I got to see the psychiatric equivalent of an ER/triage center and when I was on the floors, I would participate with group therapy as I was available.

And with a few comments and signature on a final evaluation, I was done. The next week, I donned my scrubs and showed up for Med-Surg clinical orientation for a cardiac floor. While cardiology would be emphasized more in the next semester, it was still a good experience in seeing the co-morbidities of diabetes and hypertension.

Co-morbidities: the domino effect, one thing goes wrong which causes another thing to go wrong, multiple problems occurring at once.

So, part of my learning experience is constructing and giving patient education. A lot of patients end up in the hospital not knowing why high blood pressure or diabetes is that bad of a problem. Um, yes they are.

I prepared some literature for a patient who needed encouragement to stop smoking (he had expressed an interest) and information on a low-sodium diet. I went in and asked him if he was interested in learning about some of his new medications and the new diet he would be asked to be on outside the hospital. A positive response. “Awesome! A receptive audience!”

I told him about some medications that he was on for high-blood pressure that helped with nicotine cravings, then moved into diet education.

“So, tell me what you eat at home.” The patient reported he cooks “normal” food of meat, potatoes, and vegetables while staying away from pre-packaged TV dinners and meals. “Good!” I gave him some general tips on cooking without salt. How stopping smoking would help food taste better.  I then directed his attention to the materials that I brought.

“Let’s focus on this column: the foods you can have.” I pointed out that fresh fruit is good, be careful which sort of vegetables you get, they can sneak sodium into them. “Now, cheeses. You can have a lot of variety of cheeses.” And serendipitously added, “You’ll want to stay away from Velveeta and Kraft American singles.”

His next question just about floored me. “What other kinds of cheese are there?”

“Was he serious? Is he asking that because he actually does not know of real cheese or just needs to expand his knowledge of varieties?I stammer in the next few sentences. “Well, you can have these cheeses listed here: cream cheese, cheddar…”

I have never been so thankful for my limited stage training. It was enough to help me keep a straight face.

We talk a little more about the lifestyle changes he’ll need to make. I try to encourage him to think small for the day: focus on the list of foods he can have and think what meals can be made with those.

“Oh, this lists ‘ground pork’! That means I can still have ham.”

FACEPALM! Me: “Nope! Ham is salt-cured. You’ll need to get plain ground pork from the store or a butcher’s shop.” I was rather thankful my back was turned towards the in-room computer at that moment.

Ever wonder why nurses look tired at the end of a day – we are the first line of defense in cases of common sense not being so common after all.

What I Miss from My Protestant Days

So, it’s the week before Easter! (I love saying that to make people’s heads turn!) Yes, it’s one of those years that “Greek” Easter is WAY late. Oh well.

As I was experiencing Palm Sunday on April 28, I realized something for the first time since converting: There is only one thing I miss from my Protestant experience. Being a pesky convert to Orthodox Christianity, I have 25+ years of low-church Protestantism to frame my religious education and lay theological training. When I was still in my inquiry and catechism into Orthodoxy, I was answering a lot of questions from concerned Protestants, such as:

  • Now that he’s dumped you, will you still go to the Orthodox church?
  • Do you feel God is less approachable in prayer?
  • Where is ____ in the Bible?
  • Are the Orthodox Calvinists?

I attempted to answer these and many others with as much sense and grace as possible. I don’t miss the debates over Predestination/Calvinism vs. Free Will/Armenian. I don’t miss how some churches try to spice up their church service with new stage lights, decorations, a sermon series or bible study on the most recently published book, etc. I don’t miss the sanctuary being renamed to “Big Church” or “The Auditorium” or “God’s House” etc. I don’t miss the debates over “seeker sensitive” vs. “feeding the sheep.”

I definitely do not miss “P&W time” that is filled with repetitive words and bland music. (This will be its own post in the future).

I miss having a cup of coffee and breakfast before going to church.


Especially this last Sunday, I was seriously wanting pancakes and coffee with real cream. Between all the times I sang, “Lord, have mercy” or “Grant this, O Lord” and the longer hymns – I kept trying to focus on Christ triumphantly entering Jerusalem, “Hosanna in the Highest” … Coffee. Pancakes with eggs over easy.

For those of you unaware as to why this is a craving: If an Orthodox Christian is to partake of communion, he/she is to fast from bedtime/midnight until partaking of communion during Liturgy. There are other fasting guidelines during Lent, however, it still stays that if you are going to take communion, you should fast the night before and morning of. Some mornings, I feel fine. I make it through everything no complaint. Other mornings, there is a twinge, but I power through. The mornings like this past Sunday – I got to experience the grace of God and know that in my weakness he is strong. Mind you, I wasn’t all happy about this.

I was hungry. My back and knees hurt. (Lord, have mercy) I was sore. (Lord, have mercy) I was tired.  (Oh, thank God! We’re at the Creed.) I wanted nothing more than to cry and whine (When will I ever get to be parishioner that can sit whenever I want). My throat is drying out. (My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.)

Yet, even on these “bad days” where I long for my simple cup of coffee with a crossword before church, I’m reminded that my inner struggle is exactly why I need The Orthodox Church. One of the prayers for the Eucharist (Communion) asks that it be given to each according to his need. As I partake, I’m reminded again that the Eucharist is given “for the remission of sins and everlasting life.”

Some days, my prayer is that Christ continue to refine me. Show me where I need to forgive and love more. Other days, my prayer is that I be reminded that I need Christ more than coffee and comfortable Sunday mornings.

Fortune Cookie Predicts Lent

Today, I attended a Health Literacy in-service. While there are plenty of things I could blog about from my 6.25 contact education hours, I would like to focus on my fortune from lunch.


I didn’t think that Chinese restaurants and fortune cookie companies knew about Lent. I have been wishing intently for cheese and meat and bacon and… …

6-ish weeks of Lent. Yep, I’d say that’s a long delay.

You Know You’ve Landed in Minnesota…

…when this appears in the condiments offerings:



TRS is not above self-deprecation. Yesterday, I wrote Part 2 of the DIY Vanilla Extract experiment.

Today, I post a link to what I did after adding a few more beans to the bottle: http://youtu.be/duySEM_HI2g

The background music is “Adiemus” from Songs of Sanctuary. I believe my comments at the end are sufficient.

DIY Vanilla Extract, Again

Earlier this year, I experimented with making my own extracts. I was under the false impression that 2 vanilla beans would be rather sufficient for the amount of vodka, but I realized that I’m used to seeing that amount of store-bought vanilla extract with the boost of a real vanilla bean as opposed to starting from scratch with the alcohol and vanilla.

I was in luck yesterday in investigating the spice aisle – vanilla beans were on sale! I got 4 (four) beans for about $13. If you aren’t aware of grocery prices in this area – that’s an awesome deal.

Later at home. Here is what 2 months with 2 beans in 750 mL of cheap vodka looks like:


Slice open two beans. I’m still holding out that 4 will be sufficient. I also scrape out some of the seeds.

Shake it up, woohoo!

And hope that the color and flavor darkens.

Stay tuned for what happened about 30 seconds later.

Things I Miss…

It’s a typical night here in Indy. I’ve come home from school; I relaxed and ate. I did my work for the next day and now I’m blogging. But something about this night feels wrong. And once I identified it, I’m not sure how to fix it.

Ready? More


My friend, Richard, is lauded for his nachos. Seriously, these are a work of art and a lovely way to clog your arteries and digestive tract.

Nacho Night is the way to celebrate anything. The most recent being a time with friends and watching the latest Sherlock. Nachos and Benedict Cumberbatch – BLISS! These wonderful things also come out for birthdays, receptions, and any most any reason someone says, “Hey, can we do _____ and eat your nachos?”

Here’s the start:

Assemble all ingredients – ground beef, sausage, blue corn chips, white corn chips, refried beans, taco seasoning, grated cheddar cheese, chopped olives, etc.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Put the first layer of blue corn chips down. Cover with half the beans, meat, shredded cheese, olives, etc. Bake.

Make a second layer of yumminess! Bake.

Frost with sour cream.

Eat. Laugh. Enjoy. Eat some more. Feel your stomach say, “No more! Please!” and your taste buds demanding, “More! More! More!”

Die the sweetest death possible.

The Answer

Yesterday, I posted this:

And asked you to guess what it was. Well…

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