Thursday, November 26, 2009

Boston so far

We arrived in Boston two days ago and have been having so much fun!!! We took the metro from the airport to downtown where we wandered Quincy Market and found a starbucks to settle into while we waited for Jenn.

She brought us back to their place which she refers to as being "on a pond". Umm... it's a lake. Pond is a stagnant little body of water. This is a lake. We are staying in the apartment above the garage and this is the view from the window right in front of our bed!
We get to cozy up on the most comfy bed, with gorgeous skylights and a huge window overlooking the lake. Yeah, it's really rough here :)
This is the little kitchen in the apartment.
Once we had settled in we set out to get some food, then start sightseeing! Since we wanted a low key day after flying all night, we decided to wander parts of the city. First stop - Harvard! This campus was AMAZING!! So many beautiful brick buildings with large pillars and wonderful walkways.

This is the beautiful library!
Which we weren't allowed into! :(

One of the many beautiful bridges
We searched everywhere for a large Harvard sign to get our picture by, but couldn't find one! So I settled for this picture to prove I was there.
Phil and Jenn playing on their iPhones... feeling quite left out that I don't have one.
Next we went to MIT. It's hard to see, but it actually says Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the top of the building.
We capped the evening off with dinner at Cheers..... where everyone knows your name.

A great start to a great vacation!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Overstock

I plan on doing a bunch of my Christmas shopping on this site - Overstock!! It's like a Winners/Ross/TJ Maxx, but online (therefore MUCH easier to find what you want) and with cheap shipping. I've bought from them before and have always been happy... but then again, I'm usually happy if I get a good deal! :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

There is something so comforting about a nice hot bowl of soup on a cold and windy fall day. This fall, my favorite recipe is one of the simplest - Butternut squash soup.

Here is my most recent batch, all ready to go into the freezer.
Recipe:
Dice an onion and saute it in 1 Tbs of butter. In the meantime, peel (I find a paring knife works best) and chop the squash into 1 inch cubes.

Once the onions are translucent, add 6 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the squash and cook for approximately 20 minutes until cooked (should be about the consistency of cooked potatoes).

The next step has two options. The easiest is to use a hand mixer and blend the squash into the broth. If you don't have one, use a slotted spoon to scoop out the squash and blend it in a blender, then add it back to the broth.

Add salt and pepper and nutmeg. Don't got stingy with the nutmeg - it' the key part!!!

I usually divide it up into small ziplock containers and toss it in the freezer for easy lunches to bring to work.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Salt

I think that I might be losing it. Slowly, but surely, losing it.

I ran out of salt. Me, the girl who has been mocked for how stocked my pantry is. Me, who actually likes grocery shopping. I ran out of salt.

It all started when I didn't get a chance to grocery shop for 6 weeks! Embarrassing, I know. I sent Phil to costco one time in those six weeks (the poor boy went at noon on a Saturday and learnt to NEVER do that again), and I slipped in one time for a few essentials. But other than that, not grocery shopping. Needless to say, we were short of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Thankfully, I'm a stock-piler and our pantry and freezer were loaded. My friend Heidi once said that if there was ever a natural disaster or nuclear attack, she planned to hop the border and get to my place because I have enough food to feed people for six months. She's exaggerating of course... I could probably only stretch it out for 3 months.

Anyways, in the midst of my long dry spell with no shopping, I ran out of salt. Seriously, who runs out of salt???? When I finally made it to the store last week, I bought some sea salt from Trader Joes. It's not what I normally buy, but hey - it saved me from having to go into another store. Of course I got home and it's coarser than what I'm used to.

So when I ran into Haggen to get two things (which inevitably turned into a whole basket) I bought some more regular Mortons salt.

And when I got home, I went to put it away in my now dwindling pantry... right next to.... the box of Mortons salt.

Somehow I had missed it.

So I'm loosing it on two fronts: first, i'm running out of an essential, salt (except not really). Second, I'm not seeing things that are right in front of my face!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas music and assignments

Everyone has their own thoughts on when it's acceptable to start listening to Christmas music. For many Americans, it's at Thanksgiving, for some it's December 1, others it's as soon as Halloween is over. My sister starts after her birthday - September 17!

Since graduating high school, all but 4 years I have been in school for fall semester. Usually in November I start getting swamped with term papers and assignments, and that is when I start playing Christmas music. It gives me hope that soon the craziness of school will be over and I will be able to start really enjoying the Christmas season.

This year is no different. I've been working on an assignment this week and busted open the Christmas play list on iTunes. Sounds so good!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Easycropper

Found a very hand website Easycropper. It's a super simple way to downsize your photos. For example, when blogger says that your profile pic can only be a certain size, you go to this site, upload your photo, pick what you want in the photo, enter the new dimensions, and it's done!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Salmon Chowder

On Friday night we had a delightful BBQ at a friends house where we enjoyed the yummy salmon that Phil caught a few weeks ago on a boys fishing trip. The fillet was so ridiculously big that we actually had some leftover salmon!

So I decided to try and make salmon chowder. I did my usual routine of looking up some recipes, not particularly liking any one of them, so I combined several recipes, along with my own ideas, and came up with my own recipe. Turned out pretty good!

Here's what I did:

2 cups cut potatoes (I used baby red potatoes and kept the skin on for extra color)
3 Tbs butter
1 onion, diced
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup chopped carrots
3 Tbs flour
4 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth
Leftover salmon
Dill, tarragon, salt and pepper

Boil potatoes.

In a separate pot, melt 1 Tbs butter and saute onions, and celery. When they are about half done, add zucchini and carrots. When cooked, place them aside.

Melt 2 Tbs butter, and sprinkle 3 Tbs flour over. Mix with a whisk. Add two cups milk and whisk. When it starts to thicken, add 2 more cups of milk. Then add 1 cup chicken broth. Season to taste.

Add cooked potatoes. I used a hand mixer to blend them into the soup. Add cooked vegetables and salmon. Serve.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fun Fall Idea

Although I am not good at coming up with my own crafty and decorating ideas, I am very good at spotting ideas that I like. These bouquets of peppers were being sold at the Portland Farmers Market - very fun idea!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tourist in my own city

A few weeks ago I met some friends downtown Vancouver for coffee. When I got off the new Canada line at Granville and Georgia, I was greeted by the biggest Canadian flag I've ever seen! It was wonderful! So I ended up looking like a tourist in my own city as I sat there taking pictures.
Sidenote: LOVE the Canada line! So fast and so convenient!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering

To all those who have served and are serving, THANK YOU!

Thank you for your sacrifice, for your courage, your dedication and your willingness.

Most of all, thank you for our freedom!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Which way?

While wandering through Portland, we came across a fun sign showing the direction and distance to places all over the world.
And at the top, one of my favorite places - my city in Taiwan!
I'm 6300 miles and over 5 years removed from it, yet I still think of Taiwan every day and the wonderful time I had there.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Lessons from Transit

I love a city with a good public transportation system! If I can ditch the car and easily get around on buses, and preferably subway/trains, I'm all in.

In my two years of commuting to UBC on public transportation, I learned a few things.
  1. Comfortable shoes, that keep your feet warm and DRY are a must! Especially in the Pacific NW.
  2. ALWAYS carry an umbrella with you, even if it's sunny when you leave home.
  3. Keep gloves in your bag/pocket/purse - you never know when it's going to get really cold and you are going to have to wait for a bus.
  4. It's amazing how much warmer you are with a scarf.
  5. Know where the Starbucks are along the route - they will save you when you really have to pee.
  6. Know a possible alternate route - you never know whats going to happen.
  7. Having a seat is divine.
  8. Listen to other people's conversations around you - they can be hilarious!
  9. Have a book to read. That way when creepy guy next to you wants to talk, you can just bury your face in a book.
  10. Snooze, but don't sleep. Especially if you are getting close to your stop.
I learned most of these things through trial and error. But knowing all of this paid off yesterday when Phil and I left the hotel and it was sunny, and by the end of the walk we were running to our stop in the DUMPING rain. I was happy and dry under my umbrella though.

Overheard

I subscribe to this really funny blog called Overheard in PDX. It posts random, and often weird, conversations that people overhear when they are out in Portland.

Yesterday, I overheard one that I could add too!

Two teenage guys were on the MAX (metro) and they were sitting near the center of the bus which can bend to get around corners.
Guy #1: This one time, I was like sitting on this middle thing, and then we like went around a corner, and the accordian part of the bus here, pinched my butt!
Guy #2: Dude, that sucks!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Centralia Outlet

Usually when we say "the outlet mall" in our area, it is generally understood that we mean Tullalilip - that heavenly place that is good shopping! Centralia, half way between Seattle and Portland on the I-5, also has some outlet shops, but I have never stopped at them. I've driven the I-5 corridor to Oregon more times than I care to count and have noticed them building up the mall.

Thursday on our way down here we stopped because Kevin wanted to grab a few things, and of course I couldn't turn down shopping. So we left Phil sleeping in the car and hit a few stores. I got this uber cute sweater in Billabong, then scored some sweet deals in Quiksilver. Men's button up shirts for $7.50??? Umm.... yes please!

So, if you are heading south to Oregon, check out the outlet malls in Centralia!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Portland #4

I was going to call this post Portland, but when I looked back on my blog to find links to my previous posts about this annual trip, I realized that several of them were simply called Portland. So I got creative - Portland #4! Umm.... yeah, not so good in the creativity department.

Anyhoo, as I said, we have been on this trip several times before in 2006, 2007 and 2008. It's become an annual tradition and we love it! We join our friend Kevin who is the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Icicle Village Resort in Leavenworth and help him out at the Portland Ski and Snow Show. He gets company for the trip and someone to help him watch the booth, we get free entrance to the show and essentially a free weekend away. Pretty sweet deal!

This year we are staying at the Hotel Modera which is GORGEOUS! It's a 4 star boutique hotel in downtown Portland with wonderful modern decor. We had drinks in the lounge last night - the bartender made a mean raspberry lemon drop which automatically gives them two thumbs up from me!

Then this morning we had breakfast downstairs with the delightful director of marketing for Modera and got to have yummy breakfast. The restaurant is so nice because it has these HUGE windows that make you feel like you are sitting outside.

I'll be heading out to the show this afternoon, but for now I have to finish my assignment for BCIT and get it emailed off.

So... how's the job?

One of the most frequent questions that I get lately is "how is the job going?". To answer it for everyone - I love it! I love being a nurse, I love my job, and I love the opportunities that lay ahead. Although some shifts are crazier than others, most days I leave work loving my job. After years of frustration and less than stimulating jobs, it is a joy to have one that I love.

Are there crap moments? Yes, of course (quite often those moments literally involve crap). But there are also the great moments. The funny thing a patient says, my awesome co-workers, the constant learning and challenge - these things and many more are what make me love my job.

I gotta admit, after two years of commuting 2 hours each way to UBC, the 25 minute commute to work is also quite nice!

Some people are also confused by my references on my twitter/facebook status updates to homework. Although I finished my degree, I am now doing a critical care specialty certification at BCIT. The best part - work is paying for it! For now I'm just in an online course, but in January I will be going to school full time for 4 months!

After that, I will finally be done with school!!! Well, at least until grad school, and that will have to wait for a few years. I need a break!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Amazing Race

I love this show!!! I've only watched one other season, but I found it on CBS right as it was starting this season and have been diligently watching. Love that we can get full episodes online down here in the good old US of A! I'm thinking that Meghan and Cheyne are going to win, but the brothers and the Globetrotters are going to give them a run for their money.

This is one reality show that I would actually consider going on. I think that Phil and I could do REALLY well on it. Although I'm sure that many couples say that and we end up laughing at them as they bicker and natter at one another.

While most reality shows I find abhorent and ridiculous, there are a few that I have enjoyed. I watched one season of the Bachelorette, but only because our local girl Jill was on it. I do watch Dancing with the Stars.... there is no excuse for that one, it's just my guilty pleasure.

Anyone else have reality shows that they just love?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Putting thoughts to screen

The expression used to be "putting pen to paper" but in our techno-crazed-internet-everyone-can-publish world, I think that it's becoming more "thoughts to screen". Believe it or not, I actually write a lot of blog posts. Tons in fact. They just never make it to the screen.

This is somewhat embarrassing to admit, but I write them in my head. Whenever I get some down time, or I'm doing something mindless, I think of fun things that I could write about on here. When I'm running, or in the shower (again, weird, I know) are the two times that I most often think of posts.

But somehow those posts never make it to the screen. I get busy. Life moves fast. Sometimes the post gets outdated before I can type them. Often I just forget them or run out of time.

For the few people who actually still read this blog, I'm going to make an effort to put thoughts to screen and post my random thoughts about life.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Double Whammy

I worked this past Saturday night. Nothing really new and exciting about that, except that it was Halloween which equals crazy at hospitals, PLUS it was Daylight Saving Time, meaning that the shift was an hour longer!

I went into the shift preparing myself for the worst. Thankfully, I was delightfully surprised and the night was pretty good! The emergency department got slammed, but we had a full house in the ICU and all was well.