Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Graduation Photo

We took graduation photos a couple of weeks ago, and here's mine. Can you believe it? Graduation photos, people! Surely that means the end is near!!

Anyway, after looking carefully at this photo, I have decided that I am Velma Dinkley. See? I'm short and I'm a bookworm and my hair is reddish-brown. I'm kind of stocky, and I can't see a thing without my glasses. When my hair is short, we could be twins.

So, do you have a virtual "twin" and who is it? Tell me I'm not the only "cartoon caricature" out there! :)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Flag Giveaway

Just a quick note, because I have (another) test tomorrow. Check out Palmer Falls Primitives for a lovely giveaway, including this wonderful wooden flag pictured at left. Wouldn't it look perfect as part of your summer display?

My guest room started out with a nautical theme, but it has become more of an "Americana" theme and this would be perfect in there!

Oh, and I'm down to 45 days. :) Today was rough, but I kept reminding myself, "45 days, 45 days, 45 DAYS!!!" It made me feel better! Hope the rest of you had a better Monday than I did, and here's to a better tomorrow!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

The cucumbers are producing their little hearts out here at Clay Hill Farm. We have plenty of cucumbers, plenty of jalapeno peppers, and not much of anything else just yet.

So, I made some cucumber-yogurt sauce to go with the leftover chicken we're having for dinner tonight. I think it's called tsatziki in some cuisines. Cucumber-yogurt sauce is very easy - I combined a medium-sized cucumber (finely chopped) with 1/2 cup of low fat yogurt, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic and 1/8 teaspoon cumin. I salted it to taste. You could add dill, or mint, or other fresh herbs, if you wanted to.

Tonight I'll put a big dollop of sauce on each chicken breast, and tomorrow I'll use the sauce and some sliced chicken in a tortilla for a sandwich wrap. Cucumber-yogurt sauce is also great with leftover roast, or leftover steak, or lamb - to me, it makes the leftovers taste like a fresh dish. The flavors intensify as the sauce sits, so it will be even better tomorrow.

I think I'll try to make cold cucumber soup later in the week - anybody got any good recipes?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Good News and Not-So-Good News

The good news is that I spent part of the afternoon today learning how to machine quilt! And, it isn't as difficult as I thought TO LEARN. The not-so-good news is, it's much more physical than I imagined TO DO. You are powering the quilt around the machine with the strength of your arms, and there's a reason some quilters only work for twenty minutes at a time. My arms, they is a-burnin'!

The good news is it is kind of fun to do the meandering "stipple" pattern I'm using for this quilt. I took a couple of photos to try to show you the close-up pictures. The not-so-good news: I'm not very good at it yet - see below.

Still, I think with some practice, I can become a decent machine quilter. But I think this little one is going to have to stay here and become a porch quilt. I'll have to keep working at it to be as good as Dana and make quilts to give away.

I don't think it's a hopeless cause, though. I'm encouraged by my first attempt at machine quilting, and once I've finished that pesky little degree I'll have more time to play. Who knows what I'll come up with then?

Case Totals

Because I am a student, I have to keep track of every anesthetic case I am involved in. We have a tracking program that we use to enter all the details about what we did and the length of time it took. This is a royal pain, and I hate doing it. One of the best things about graduating is that I won't have to do that any longer.

Because I hate it, I procrastinate. The tracking program only lets you go back four weeks, though, so guess how long I procrastinate? Yup - about a month. This morning I have to put a month's worth of case totals in. Still, my method means I only have to face the awful thing once a month, and with less than two months to go I have just twice more (after today) to deal with it.

But, it's Saturday morning, and I slept as much as I wanted to. I have a tiny dog curled up on my feet and the History Channel on the television, and a cup of coffee nearby. It could be worse! I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


A troubled man has, perhaps, finally found some peace. My sisters and I were fans of Michael Jackson (and of all the Jacksons) when we were young. So, I was saddened to hear of his death today.

Here's a photo of a young Michael before whatever demons plagued him took the best of him and sent him in a dreadful downward spiral. As disturbing as some of the more recent images of him were, behind all of that there was a troubled human being who was suffering. I hope he is at peace now.

One Down, One to Go...

Well, I finished my comprehensive exams yesterday. Whew. It was worse than I thought it would be. Four essay questions that took thirty (yes, 30!) typed pages (double-spaced) to answer in just over eight hours. A group of us went out afterward and had an early dinner. We went to a Mexican place (and there may or may not have been a margarita involved - I am pleading the fifth!). I really love good Mexican food and this was very, very good.

Then I came home and went straight to bed - I was completely drained. Of course, then I was wide awake this morning at 2:30 a.m. and I have to pull a complete clinical day today. So, I should have stayed up for a couple of hours when I got home last night. I'm yawning as I type this but can't sleep because I keep going over my answers in my head. If you can believe this, I'm not sure I wrote enough.

But, it's done, and all I need to do is pass. So, we'll see. Surely I put enough effort into it for that. When I get home this evening I'll probably take a nap and then I really need to get out the weeding gloves and spend an hour or so cleaning up the flowerbeds. There are more weeds than flowers out there at the moment, and that's a shame because I actually have quite a few blooms this year!

Have a great day, everyone, and don't work too hard!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Tomorrow! Yikes!!!! I thought this day would never come, and now tomorrow, it does! Off to do some last-minute studying.

Oh, and when tomorrow is over, I am down to 50 more days. In case you were wondering! :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009


...is adding one more load of straw onto an overloaded camel and hoping his back won't break. That's what I did when I signed on for the Old Red Barn Co. Quilt Along. I knew I didn't have time to make a quilt, but I really, really wanted to!

So, I did what any sensible person would do, and I pulled together some fabric and I started cutting it. Here it is, cut into strips and lined up:

And I told myself I'd stop with the cutting, but I was lying. I didn't stop there, not at all. I sewed that fabric into squares and then I sewed the squares together, and then I put a border around the whole thing.

And here it is, sewn into a quilt top.

I worked on it two to three hours a week, and I played anesthesia lectures in the sewing room while I sewed, so I wouldn't feel too guilty about playing when I should have been studying. It's a small, throw-sized quilt (49" x 59") and will probably shrink up a little more when I quilt it. So, it will be about 48" x 58", which is great for throwing over your legs on a cool evening but not so big that it's unmanageable when you're sewing it.

I wanted something summery, and patriotic, and a bit old-fashioned looking. I think I succeeded there. However, I am the Swedish Chef at a sewing machine, I really am. Look closely and you'll see that some of the seams don't match up as they should, and some of my squares aren't as square as they ought to be. It's handmade, there's no doubt about it.

I wanted it to turn out nicely because, well, I was thinking of making it the center of my summer giveaway. But I'm not sure it's nice enough for that, and I definitely want to see how it turns out once it's quilted. And I can't touch it again (I really can't) until I finish exams this week.

So, there may or may not be a quilt giveaway in these parts come July. But, giveaway or no, I'll definitely post photos (even if it turns out badly and has to become a dog bed) and show you the finished product. And I'll try very hard to curb my insanity until AFTER I finish exams, next time!

Sleep & Happy Father's Day!

I slept until 8 this morning. It was wonderful. It's amazing how a little rest can change your whole attitude. This is a brand new week and I'm ready to tackle it!

Oh, and Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Have a wonderful day and here's hoping that this new week is good to all of us!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


From Wikipedia: Theories are analytical tools for understanding and explaining a given subject matter. Almost every field of study has a theoretical framework as its base. I am revisiting nursing theory for my comprehensive exams on Wednesday.

Let me just say, first, that I love being a nurse. I really do. That doesn't mean I love everything about my job, but from the moment I stepped into a patient care role, I felt like this is where I was meant to be.

I think I can safely say that I'm good at it, too. I'm honest about what I am not good at - I'm terrible at balancing the checkbook, at keeping my car clean and at anything involving a ball coming at me that I have to interact with. I'm short and I'm stocky and I'm absentminded. I can't put together a matching outfit to save my life. I'm not even really very good with my computer, although I use it incessantly. But nursing? I've got that one, and I know it. And I have countless stellar evaluations to back that up.

So, you'd think that nursing theory would come easily, wouldn't you? Well, it does not. Oh, no. It turns out that what I am good it is the practical part of nursing, and the hard science - the theory throws me a curveball (and gives me raging headaches) every stinkin' time I have to deal with it. And this time? I have to produce a legible paper from memory regarding nursing theory (among other things) for comprehensives next week, and I can't graduate unless I pass.

It doesn't help that whenever I read this stuff there's a tiny part of my brain whispering, "...but he isn't WEARING any clothes at all!" So, the fault does lie with me - I can't wrap my head around it, in part, because I just don't buy it.

But, I have to successfully wrangle it one way or another, because I surely didn't come this far to turn back now. So, it's back to work for me. I hope all of you are enjoying the sunshine and the weekend. I am watching the naked emporer show off his threads, and trying to make sense of it all. See you next week!

Friday, June 19, 2009


I'm exhausted. Comprehensive exams are Wednesday. I may not survive until Wednesday. Off to sleep for at least 12 hours - talk to you in a few days and I thank you all for your patience!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Picnic and an Apron Giveaway

I have a job! Well, actually, I've had the job for some time now - I signed a contract with a local anesthesia group way back when I started school, so I've had a job all along. But now I'm eight weeks or so from actually starting that job, so when the group invited us to their summer picnic, I thought we ought to go and say hello.

Here is the front yard of the picnic host:

Isn't it lovely? The weather was perfect, and I'd show more of the property but I really don't know the couple very well and don't want to invade their privacy without permission. Suffice it to say that the remainder of the property was equally lovely.

Here are Ron (my husband) and Brian (the middle son) enjoying a drink in the shade. We sat under this tree talking for at least an hour - it was so pleasant just to relax!

Sean (the youngest) couldn't sit still, so he took the kayak (and later, a canoe, although I don't have photos of that) out on the pond. I really want a pond, and I think I know the perfect place between Clay Hill and Thistledew to put it. Now, if I can just get everyone else to agree!

It was a good day. Everybody in the group seemed almost as excited for me to start working as I am. I really can't wait! :) Soon, soon!

And, for all that baking I'll have time to do when I'm finished, here is the perfect summer apron being given away at The Apron Goddesses. Isn't it precious? I'm not telling you to enter, though. In fact, all of you could completely ignore this giveaway, if you wanted to!
Oh, okay - be that way! Enter if you must! Good luck!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Trauma Call & A Winner!

You might think of summer as beach season, or play season, or gardening season. I think of summer as trauma season. Trauma call this time of year is like an anesthesia marathon. You simply keep working until it's time to go home. Today was just 12 hours - some of our calls are 16's and those can be tough.

Today was a typical trauma season day. Four broken jaws, two broken arms, two broken hips, a broken leg and a tracheotomy from the critical care unit, complete with life support machine. We have to go get those patients and take them to the operating room ourselves, because during transport WE become their life support.

I did actually get a couple of breaks today, though, so some of you may notice that I stopped by your blogs at lunchtime. :) There wasn't enough time to study, anyway, and I needed a pick-me-up!

So, I haven't forgotten all of you, I simply had a few things to do before I could get to the fun stuff. And get to the fun stuff we will! Thank you so much to all who entered for all of your kind comments. You guys really do keep me going, do you know that? So, the winner of the Clay Hill Farm Homemade Jewelry & Mystery Container Giveaway is...... Heidi 'n' Jeff!!!

So, get back to me, Oh Matriarch of The Crafting, Swimming, Picnic-packing and Library-going Clan! Give me your snail addy and I will send your package out post-haste! Oh, and if the jewelry (or the container) are not your style, it absolutely won't hurt my feelings if you regift it to someone else that might be more suited. I mean, I'll cry a bit, and sulk for a week or two, but it won't be anything lasting, you know?

I'm kidding. Please feel free to pass it on if you can't abide wearing it or using it - things are made to be loved, and if you don't love it, pass it on. :)

Have a great week, everybody, and I promise a jewelry-making tutorial in ten days or so, after that pesky test is over!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Evening, Again

Yep - still the best evening of the week. Today I covered cardiovascular service, which means I did anesthesia for heart surgery. It was a good day because for the afternoon they paired me with a resident anesthesiologist and he and I took turns taking breaks and doing the work - I can safely say that I today was the best time I've ever had doing hearts.

It's funny - all the things that used to scare the daylights out of me (pediatrics, obstetrics, cardiovascular surgery) are now just another day. I still go in a little early on those days, just because you never know what might happen. But I don't stress over it like I used to. I know what to do. I think maybe I've learned something in the past three years! Now I just have to prove that on the comprehensive exams in ten days or so, and on my board exam in 2-3 months.

And, tonight? A glass of wine and an early night sound pretty good to me! Oh, and one more hint on the giveaway "box" - The Pioneer Woman might like it! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Phone & the Tub...

...are NOT a good match. In case you were wondering.

I was sore the other morning when I got up for school, and I decided that instead of a shower I could spare ten minutes to soak in a hot bath. I thought it would help my "running with the boys" muscles, and get me off to a good start.

So, I got up and put the bath on, and set the phone on the rim of the tub. Why did I have my phone at 4:30 a.m., you ask? Because it is also my alarm clock - I grabbed it as I was getting up and carried it with me. I don't really know why I did that - it was 4:30 and I was half asleep, I guess.

So, after starting the bath (and leaving the phone), I went out to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal. When I came back to the bathroom, the phone was sitting in the middle of the tub full of warm water. I must have hit the "snooze" button, and when the alarm went off again it generated just enough force to propel the phone into the water.

I grabbed the phone and took it apart and immediately dried it with the blow-dryer, but it was no use. The phone is kaput, and I am without my lifeline. I literally use my cell phone for everything - I use it as an alarm clock, and a calculator, and a calendar, and a message center. My peripheral brain is gone and I am struggling.

Oh, and do we have the money for a new phone? No. No, we don't. And I was going to get myself a Palm Pre after graduation, but there's no way I'll be able to justify getting a phone now, and then getting another in two months. And I can't go two months without a phone - we don't have a landline, because the phone company wanted $3000 just to lay the line, and we use cell phones most of the time, anyway, so we didn't have the phone line put in.

I guess this is Somebody's way of telling me I didn't need that Pre. It was a frivolous want, to be sure. I don't NEED a phone that takes video. But I do need a phone with basic phone and text functionality, and I need that soon. So, Ron's going to go see what's on special through our phone company, and probably sign another contract (yet another thing I didn't want to do) to get a good deal. He's a good guy, that husband of mine. He didn't even fuss, bless him.

So, I'll get a new phone tomorrow. But it isn't exactly a happy occasion. And I'm kicking myself over it. Sigh.

On a happier note, the giveaway is going strong. If you're here to enter it, drop down one post. I promise I'll try to post a jewelry-making tutorial after I finish comprehensive exams in two weeks. It's super easy - you all will laugh when you see how easy it is, and you may never buy ready-made jewelry again! And, another hint on the *box* I mentioned before - some people consider it highly collectible. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Making Jewelry and a Summer Jewelry Giveaway!

Handmade jewelry is all the rage right now, it seems. There are wonderful Etsy shops with dazzling creations on the web and you can't stop at an arts and crafts fair without seeing multiple jewelry vendors.

This is great, because who doesn't love handmade items? But, even the lower-priced handmade items just aren't in my budget right now. Do you know that they actually expect you to buy textbooks when you are in graduate school? Do you know how much a $100 or $150 text cuts into my fashion budget???

So, what's a girl to do? Do without (which is no solution at all) or make her own! And making your own jewelry is so easy! You could have a wardobe full of unique items for the price of one or two individual pieces if you shop carefully.

Almost any craft or hobby store carries findings, beads and pendants in various shapes and sizes. Those half-off coupons for Michaels or Hobby Lobby can really cut your costs. If you don't have a hobby store in your area, you can get supplies online at Rings & Things, and the prices are unbelievable. Don't overlook yard sales and secondhand shops as sources, either - any costume jewelry can be taken apart to yield pieces for custom items.

I don't even have fancy jewelry pliers - I use hemostats. Trust me - if I can do this, any of you can do it, too. Use your imagination and play around with different arrangements of rings, beads and pendants. You'll have fun, and if nothing else you can make your own Christmas gifts this year!

The jewelry shown in this post is my most recent work - I wanted something casual and summery and inspiring. And I thought of all my sources of inspiration over the past year, and all of you came to mind. So, to thank all of you for all of your support this past year, I am having a little giveaway.

I am giving away the custom necklace pictured here. The pendant is base metal and it says, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." It's a quote by Aesop, and I think it is particularly appropriate for the bloggers I know. :)

It is shown below with the matching custom earrings I made - also included in the giveaway. I did not put the earrings on because I knew I would be giving them away, and I didn't want to risk sending any of you any tiny little microbial visitors. I'm considerate like that! :)

The chain is thrifted from some costume jewelry I got at an estate sale - it is white metal but I don't know the composition. The ear wires, however, are new. If you choose to reuse ear wires or ear posts in your jewelry I recommend sanitizing them carefully!

The jewelry (necklace and matching earrings) will be *boxed* in a special surprise for the winner, but that will be for the winner to discover. :) If this jewelry is not your style, perhaps it is better suited for someone you know - I would be delighted to know that it had been given as a gift to a loved daughter, or granddaughter, or niece, or what have you!

To enter, leave a comment on this post. Because I think multiple comments are fun, each extra comment (up to five total) will count as another entry. If you choose to mention this giveaway on your blog, I'll give you five extra entries, but please be sure to mention that in one of your comments so I can credit you.

I'll take comments through 6 p.m. Eastern time on June 14th; I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner and then I'll mail the package out as quickly as I can and hopefully you can wear your summer jewelry on the first day of summer!

Good luck! Enter early and enter often!

******A hint on the box: it's from France, from a region that is famous for porcelain. :) ******

Baby Cucumbers

The best thing about gardening is discovering little surprises, like the baby cucumbers that are already showing up on my plants. We'll be eating our own cucumbers in just a couple of weeks - there's nothing like fresh garden produce!

I know watching doesn't make the plants grow faster, but I can't resist checking them several times a day, just to see if anything's changed. And, this time of year, there are often changes from morning to evening, so that keeps me going back out there to check again!

Now, if only the tomatoes would hurry on, we could have a proper home-grown salad!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Night

Friday evening is the best evening of the week. I don't have anything due or anything to do until Monday. (Except study, of course!). There are two glorious days ahead and they are all mine. I have some yard work in mind, and maybe a little sewing... and comprehensive exams (required to graduate) are two weeks away, and the board exam (required to earn a living) is just over ten weeks away, so the yard work and the sewing might be put on hold for a bit while I hit the books.

But I can still revel in the idea of two free days, can't I? Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

72 Days

until I graduate. In case you were wondering. Not that anyone's counting, mind you! :)

That's just eighteen days since my last update, so I'm doing pretty well, don't you think? I think I can exercise some self-restraint until the last week or two, when I may have to resort to daily updates. I hope you can forgive me for that, in advance! :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sunday Tragedy

Yesterday was a bad day here at Clay Hill... a dog decimated half of our flock of chickens. Somebody (who shall remain nameless, but who has since expressed sincere apologies AND done some serious cleaning to make things up to me) left the coop door open, and in less than twenty minutes (because I was in and out and it was between trips), half the flock was gone.

The rooster, my little mutt birds, two of my White Rocks and a Rhode Island Red hen were killed. The remainder of the flock made it back into the coop and escaped the dog. We don't know which dog it was, and it doesn't really matter, anyway. If the chickens hadn't been out, the dog couldn't have killed them.

The truth is that we had too many hens for our needs, but I was planning to give some away. I did not want them killed. :( So, now I'm sad, and I'm mourning my girls. I'd give a whole flat of pansies just to have them back.