Thursday, March 31, 2011

Goodbye to March, and my First Month as a Married Woman

In March...

Handsome Husband and I returned from our honeymoon (post and more pictures to come soon) in beautiful St. Lucia!

Hat Dad turned another year older, and we clogged our arteries at Lucille’s BBQ in celebration.

Cousin Ronomon and his fabulous wife, Tutor Girl, hosted a fun housewarming party, and we got to spend some much needed (and loved!) time with my main man, Lil C.

I turned 23 years old (or celebrated the 2nd anniversary of my 21st birthday – how I prefer to refer to this birthday), and a week later, so did Handsome Husband.

We got excited for an enlarged view of the moon, and were disappointed with the moon but not with the company we kept waiting to catch a glimpse.

I got my first job as a nurse; working with children doing something I genuinely enjoy doing, and feeling very fortunate for that!

Spring break came and I thought about things that are great about it.

Things Thursday: Things That are Great About Being on Spring Break

1. Taking two hour naps in the middle of the afternoon.

2. Having the opportunity to cook dinner for my family.

3. Helping Hat Dad out with the domestic duties of grocery shopping (a task I enjoy entirely too much).

4. Finally getting around to starting this blog, and a tumblr.

5. Being home every day when Handsome Husband gets home from work (even if today I was in the middle of the aforementioned much afternoon naps).

6. Not wanting to cry during Physiology lectures from Professor All Over the Place.

7. Getting to start a new job that I am very too excited about, and hoping will work out for the long run.

8. Anticipating a very exciting visit from my best friend from nursing school, Nurse Sarcasm.

9. Getting to spend some much needed one-on-one time with Best Friend Cute Apartment.

10. Being able to stop by and celebrate with Kindergarten Teacher and her hilarious boyfriend, Comedy Sport, on his new job.

11. Spending lots of time looking wedding thank you notes (but still not actually start writing them).

12. Not having class on Wednesday nights, and being able to attend Sister Singer’s Spring Choir Concert.

13. Having the time and energy to make Handsome Husband lunch for work (at least some days).

14. Having the whole week to be excited about celebrating my two very close friends, Fashionista and Swagger, and their (albeit a bit belated celebration) brave move to LA to chase their dreams!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wedding Recap: 6 Orange County Girls Show Palm Springs How to Party

Five weeks before Handsome Husband and I tied the night, five of my very best friends and I hit Palm Springs to celebrate one of my last nights out as a single lady! (Although I stopped considering myself “single” long before I got married – different post for a different day.)

(Bridesmaid Cute Apartment and I on our way to Palm Springs)

We got there Saturday morning, unpacked, and parked ourselves poolside right away.  My bridesmaids picked a great hotel with a huge room, so all of us could stay together.

(From L-R: Me, Bridesmaid Does it All, Bridesmaid Kindergarten Teacher, 
Bridesmaid Cute Apartment, and Bridesmaid Swagger)

(Maid of Honor Fashionista and I)

After sufficiently sunning ourselves, we spent an inordinate amount of time prettying ourselves for the real fun to begin – our big bachelorette night out!

(From L-R: Bridesmaid Does it All, Maid of Honor Fashionista, Bridesmaid Cute Apartment, 
Bridesmaid Kindergarten Teacher, Me, and Bridesmaid Swagger)

(Maid of Honor Fashionista, Bridesmaid Swagger, and Me take a break from the dance floor)

After spending hours on the dance floor, laughing, and getting lots of attention from the DJ (a big fan of bachelorette parties), we went home and hit the sack.

The next morning, we had a fabulous and relaxing spa day, and got to get a few more hours in by the pool.  Lunch downtown, and unfortunately then we had to head back to real life.

I adored my bachelorette weekend – I got to relax, spend time with my favorite ladies, and kiss the single life goodbye in time to marry the love of my life 5 weeks later!

101 in 1001

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.
The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).
Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple goals such as New Year’s resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.
The Start Date:
The End Date:

Goals in progress are italicized, goals completed are bolded

1. Go on 15 dinner dates with husband (12/15)
2. Take husband on surprise date with no warning
3. Do the 40 day Love Dare (0/40)
4. Have a photo shoot done with the 2 of us 11/6/11
5. Make husband romantic candle-lit dinner
6. Go to the movies 3 times, husband’s choice (0/3)
7. Take HH to Washington DC 3/1/13
8. Take HH to New York City 2/25/13
9. Surprise Handsome Husband at work 6 times (3/6) 8/16/11, 9/29/11, 5/17/12
10. Send something to HH’s office for no reason

11. Take sisters on overnight trip
12. Send parents on an trip
13. Have professional family photos done with both sides of family (1/2) HH's family 11/24/12
14. Mail a letter to 5 extended family members for no reason (0/5)
15. Surprise MIL with visits 3 times (0/3)
16. Visit Godmother in her home
17. Visit HH’s Dad’s family in Oregon 9/11

18. Plan a surprise party 6/24/12 Sisters' Graduation Party
19. Treat a friend to lunch or dinner for no reason - 3/31/11, lunch with Nurse Sarcasm
20. Go on 5 double dates (5/5) - 4/16/11, 4/17/11, 8/14/11, 12/17/11, 1/28/12
21. Go on a girl’s only trip to somewhere overnight 1/12 Arizona
22. Go on a trip with another couple 12/11 Las Vegas
23. Throw a themed party 3/16/13
24. Host a murder mystery party
25. Host 3 dinner parties (0/3)
26. Bring someone a home-cooked meal to their home
27. Send flowers 5 times (2/5)
28. Bake and bring someone dessert for no reason
29. Set someone up on a date

30. Publish at least 1 post daily for 30 days straight (30/30) - 4/29/11
31. Publish at least 200 blog posts (200/200) 9/11
32. Make money in some way from blogging 5/2012 Google Adsense
33. Gain 50 followers - 4/15/11 54 followers 
34. Write about something that makes me anxious to write about
35. Have my blog written about on someone else’s blog - 4/5/11 Hunnel Happenings

36. Attend a cooking class
37. Add 10 recipes to Family Favorites (0/10)
38. Try 30 new recipes (18/30)
39. Make dinner at least 3 times a week, two weeks in a row (2/6) Weeks of 1/14 and 1/21
40. Pack Handsome Husband lunch for work/school every work day, two weeks in a row (0/10)
41. Make and bring Christmas cookies for 5 families/people 12/2011
42. Cook breakfast 5 Saturday mornings (0/5)
43. Make sushi at home
44. Bake bread
45. Try 5 new restaurants (5/5) - 4/17/11 Beachwood, 11/12/11 Genghis Kahn Mongolian BBQ, 12/17/11 Carnevino, 12/28/11 Savannah's Chop House, 1/2/12 Xi'an 90210
46. Eat vegetarian for 1 week
47. Make a Family Favorites Recipe Book for 2 families
48. Make ice cream from scratch

49. Keep budget spreadsheet updated daily for 1 month
50. Stay under budget in personal spending category for 2 months straight (0/2)
51. Get free credit report and take care of any issues 11/14/11
52. Be “over budget” in Savings category 3 months in a row (0/3)
We no longer budget in this manner - these would be impossible to complete!

53. Order wedding album
54. Complete wedding scrapbooks for parents and MIL
55. Make scrapbook for wedding cards, bridal shower, bachelorette party, and rehearsal
56. Sell or store wedding supplies 9/12
57. Get wedding dress cleaned and stored - 4/30/11 courtesy of Gardening Mom
58. Write reviews of all wedding vendors (DOC, photographer, venue, videographer, florist)

59. See a live musical
60. Attend a concert of a famous person I’ve never yet seen perform
61. Visit 2 museums (0/2)
62. Try 5 foods I have never tried (2/5) Elk Backstrap, Indian Side Dishes, Duck
63. Visit a state I’ve never been to

64. Get to ultimate goal weight (for me to know - readers to wonder!)
65. Run 1 mile without walking - April/May 2011
66. Eat a fruit and a vegetable every day for 1 week
67. Don’t go through a drive-thru for 3 weeks
68. Work out at least three times a week, 2 weeks in a row - Weeks of 4/11/11 & 4/18/11 C25K
69. Go 1 month without drinking any alcohol

70. Legally change my name - June 2011
71. Change name on all documents – credit/bank cards, driver’s license, SS card - 7/6/11
72. Write advance directives, and get husband to do so to
73. Buy and use jewelry organizer that works for me
74. Get engagement and wedding rings insured
75. Make Family binder for organization of all important info

76. Volunteer 3 times (0/3)
77. Send 10 cards/letters for no reason (0/10)
78. Serve food at soup kitchen/homeless shelter
79. Gift someone an experience (vacation, day outing, etc) Massage for MIL 12/25/11
80. Put change in someone’s expired meter

81. Don’t get lower than a B (80%) in any class barely made it through Microbiology...sigh.
82. Obtain RN licensure

83. Renew CPR certification 11/5/11
84. Take at least 3 CE classes/units (0/3)
85. Join professional organization for nurses
86. Obtain personal malpractice insurance

87. Read 20 books (6/20) - A Stolen Life, The Immortal Life of Henreitta Lacks, Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), One Pink Line, Defending Casey Anthony, Drinking&Tweeting 
88. Donate my hair 5/2012
89. Re-do 2 pieces of furniture (0/2)
90. Wear my hair down for 7 consecutive days
91. Go fruit picking
92. Inspire someone to start and publish (somewhere) a 101 in 1001 list - Tutor Girl @ Hunnel Happenings
93. Alter tattoo on my back to reflect the date husband and I started dating
94. Go skinny dipping in a public place
95. Don’t log-in to Facebook for an entire weekend (Friday 6pm-Monday 8am)
96. See a movie in 3D
97. Watch an entire TV series on DVD that I’ve never seen - How I Met Your Mother
98. See a drive-in movie
99. Visit Bubby’s grave
100. Visit Grandpa’s grave 2/28/13
101. Go wine tasting 1/2013

January 2012 update
Tasks completed: 18/101, 18%
Days gone by: 277/1001, 28%

June 2012 update
Tasks completed: 23/101, 23%
Days gone by: 429/1001, 43%

January 2013 update
Tasks completed: 26/101, 26%
Days gone by: 657/1001, 66%

March 2013 update
Tasks completed: 31/101, 31%
Days gone by: 714/1001, 71%
Description above shamelessly copied from That Wife and Claremont Road.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wedding Recap: I Get Showered

I plan to recap my entire wedding in a few posts on this blog, and I thought I would start with some pre-wedding events, the first being my beautiful, lovely, amazing bridal shower.

I had 7 fabulous bridesmaids that came together to throw me a shower that the attendees are still complementing!  The shower was held at Bridesmaid Cute Apartment’s Clubhouse, and she took the lead on planning, but all of my lovely ladies played a part.

The theme was pink and very girly and the room was decorated so very sweetly.  There were tissue pom poms hanging from the ceilings, little crystal hearts scattered on the tables, and the most adorable purse-shaped chocolate favors.  

Bridesmaid Kindergarten Teacher took the lead on baking and made the most adorable little cupcakes and a beautifully decorated cake.  (Things I could not completely indulge in due to the fact I was struggling to fit back into my wedding dress at the time!) 

My nearest and dearest friends and family came, and it was so good to see everyone.  We chatted, talked wedding details, laughed, and played games – and opened lots of gifts!

(From L-R: Maid of Honor Fashionista, Bridesmaid Does it All, Me, 
Bridesmaid Kindergarten Teacher, Bridesmaid Cute Apartment, and Bridesmaid Swagger)

My guests were so incredibly generous, and the generosity continued throughout the rest of our amazing wedding celebrations.  No amount of thank you notes could ever truly express the gratitude I felt over the few months leading up to and including our wedding.

Handsome Husband also found a way to be there without really being there – he made the sweetest video that I will always treasure.  Maybe one day I’ll find a way to post it (and the other many videos HH has produced) on here.

Bridesmaid and Fabulous Hostess Cute Apartment made me a darling bow bouquet that I adored carrying down the aisle on the night of our wedding rehearsal.

My bridesmaids did such a wonderful job that I can only hope to have the pleasure of being involved in their future weddings so that I can try and emulate the happiness for them that they gave me.  So many ladies in attendance at my bridal shower told me it was the best shower they had ever been to, and I felt the same way (guess I could be biased)!

(From L-R: Kindergarten Teacher, Does it All, Cute Apartment, Sister Singer, 
Me, Sister Swimmer, Fashionista, and Swagger)

Thank you to my beautiful bridesmaids and closest friends for throwing me a shower filled with love and laughter!

Quotable Tuesdays

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dinner for Four: Taco Pasta

One of the many benefits of living at home (an topic itself I will be writing about shortly) is that Handsome Husband and myself rarely have to cook dinner for ourselves.  Hat Dad has been the primary “homemaker” in our family for years, and he cooks dinner nearly every night for our entire family, HH and I included.  It has been such a blessing, especially being that I take night classes three nights a week, to have a home cooked meal almost nightly.  Hat Dad is out of town for a few days though (as is Gardening Mom), so I have taken over the cooking in his absence.    

When Handsome Husband and I lived alone, I loved trying new recipes, and am a big proponent of Menu Planning.  Tonight I tried something new – Taco Pasta.  We are big pasta fans, and HH especially loves Mexican food, so I thought this would be a great combo for us!

I originally saw the recipe here at What's For Dinner?, a blog I love for recipe ideas.  I've found some of our very favorites at this blog.

I altered the ingredients slightly, as I doubled the recipe and used low-fat versions of just about everything I could.  This is a strategy I always use when cooking - use low fat/non-fat versions when combining in a recipe because the likelihood you will taste the difference is slim to none, but you can shave significant calories off the total.  

Taco Pasta
The below ingredients yield about 8 servings. 

1 lb ziti pasta (I always buy the store brand - so much cheaper and doesn't taste any different)
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 medium onion - diced
2 1/4 cups salsa
2 packets taco seasoning - look for low sodium
6 oz reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup low-fat sour cream
Garlic salt
Mild cheddar cheese

Prepare pasta as usual - when draining, save 1 cup pasta water.  Set aside.

While preparing pasta, cook ground beef and onion over high-heat until brown.  Drain off excess fat and add garlic - I always use garlic salt because I love the flavor and hate dealing with garlic cloves.  Add salsa and taco seasoning - simmer until pasta is ready.

When pasta is ready, add to meat mixture the drained pasta, cream cheese, sour cream, and saved pasta water.  Stir constantly until cheeses are melted, and sauce is mixed well.

Top with shredded cheese to taste.

I served it with Hawaiian roles (mainly because I had forgotten to put the biscuits I wanted to serve it with in the oven in time), and it could have used a vegetable accompaniment.

I think this recipe would be great with ground turkey or even ground chicken for that matter!  It was a hit at this household, Sister Swimmer and HH were big fans.  Husband even considered it in the running for our Family Favorites Book of Recipes!

PS - if you're wondering why I made enough for 8 servings, then you haven't seen the amount HH eats!

A Clarification on Nursing Education

“But I thought you graduated nursing school?” is not an uncommon thing for me to hear lately.  If only to appease myself, I am going to explain how it is completely plausible for me, yes, to have graduated but still be a nursing student.

When I decided to go into nursing, it was a decision that (although rational and well thought-out) I did not spend much time dwelling over.  I first entertained the thought in May 2009 and was enrolled and attending nursing school in August of the same year.  I went into nursing school really blind to the actual career of nursing – I just wanted to help people.  Though the journey has been long, and is seemingly never-ending, it was the best choice I have made thus far in my academic and otherwise career.

I am a Licensed Vocational Nurse (or an LVN).  The most common licensure people think of when they think “nurse” is a Registered Nurse (RN).  Although I have come to find that people call a lot of individuals who are not, in fact, nurses “nurses” – medical assistants, CNAs (certified nursing assistants), receptionists at doctor’s offices, you name it – everyone seems to be a “nurse”.

The main difference between an LVN and an RN is the amount of supervision they are required to be under.  RNs can do much of their work independently, whereas LVNs are always to be under supervision by an RN or physician.  LVNs also receive significantly less training than RNs – 13-18 months compared to anywhere from 2-5 years.  Due to their increased training and responsibility, RNs can make upwards of 1 ½ to 2 times the salary LVNs can hope to attain.

I went to school to become (and subsequently did become) an LVN.  After reading the comparison between the LVNs and RNs, one would certainly wonder why I made that choice.  Here’s the thing – I went to LVN training school with every intention to become an RN, I just chose this route instead of going straight to school to become a Registered Nurse.  I’d like to think I took a short-cut, but that remains to be seen.

By going to school to become an LVN first, I can now work as a nurse while I take the pre-requisite courses for an RN program, and even while I continue at one of the many options of schools I have.  Also, an LVN is entitled to skip many of the courses a freshman college student must take for a Registered Nursing program.  This means that when I enroll in the program, it should take me less than a year to complete, whereas high school graduates or students completely new to the nursing field will take upwards of two years.

So yes, I am still a student even though I graduated nursing school.  And though it is at times discouraging when I ponder how long it will take me to get into an LVN-RN bridge program I deem acceptable and graduate from said program (the impaction of nursing programs is a topic I will surely discuss shortly), this does not mean I do not take pride in the fact that I AM a nurse.  I am a nurse who is also a nursing student.  The School That Won’t Be Named did not make it easy to successfully pass their classes and complete their program (at least without wanting to pull your hair out), and that is something to be proud of, whether or not I continue to further my education, and regardless of how long it takes me to achieve my ultimate goals. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Letter to Myself 10 Years From Now

Dear Casey in 2021,

I'm writing you so you remember exactly what you felt like in this time in your life.  It is such a dynamic time that I'm not sure you will ever again experience something this abounding again.

You are so immersed in your education and your goals in nursing.  You are so desperate to work (not for the money, but because it is what you know will give you fulfillment), that you will work as a Medical Assistant, a Receptionist, a CNA - anything to get your foot in the door and be around patients.  Twenty-five minutes of shadowing a nurse doing a well-baby check made you giddy for weeks, thinking of how that sweet little baby stopped whimpering because you held her hand, and how she smiled when you took her temperature.  School is so hard - physiology genuinely makes you want to cry every Tuesday and Thursday night (let alone the other 4 nights a week you spend studying for it).  Your professor drives you almost as crazy as your nursing school professors, and you hope it will help you to further hone your skills as a student rather than drive you to wanting to drop her class.  Pharmacology reminds you that you did learn something at The School That Won't Be Named (for their benefit), and that makes you feel good about yourself because you know you taught it to yourself.

You enjoy your family more than you ever have any other time in your life.  Your mother respects you for what you have done and what you're doing, and her respect is a gift with endless value.  Your father loves you and loves having you around - and you have never had more to talk to him about than you do now.  Sister Swimmer is so much fun to be around, and you get sad when she's not there to talk to and spend time with on the weekends.  Sister Singer is so enjoying her involvement in choir and drama, and it makes you happy to see her happy.  You miss talking to Bubby and feel overwhelmed by the amount of people who God has taken from your life in the past 2 years - more than that, you are scared for the people He will inevitably continue to take.

You have never felt so content and completely satisfied with your relationships with your friends.  You have learned not to rely on them, but to appreciate them; not to need to talk to them, but to want to; not to expect  them to call you, but to be excited to see their names on the caller ID.  

You are so very much in love.  You married Handsome Husband exactly one month and one day ago, and it was the happiest day of your life (as cliche as that sounds).  You never felt more love than you did that day, staring into the eyes of a man you've loved unconditionally for years (really, since he first noticed you dancing when you were 12 years old), surrounded by people who were nothing but happy for you.  Your relationship is far from perfect, but that's what makes it real - there are ups and downs and getting through them is what makes you have faith that you will always search for the light at the end of the tunnel when your world will inevitably become dim at times.  HH takes you for you, and loves all of you.  He thinks you're sexy and beautiful, and you hope he always will - through aging, and pregnancy, and fights, and everything else life will throw at you.  

You have so many more good days than bad that bad days are a rarity.  You remember times that it wasn't like this and you are quite certain there will be times when the bad starts to outweigh the good.  Knowing that it is possible to be this happy though, and that you once weren't and you got yourself here through perseverance and faith is what you hope will pull you through times to come that may be more populated by sadness than joy.  You love to complain, but you love your life, and everyone that is in it.  You are lucky and you know it, which is the best kind of lucky.

Lots of Love and Wishes for the Best,

Casey in 2011
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