I am going to have 5 tons of things to write about when I get back home from this week at the cabin. I've taken a friend to the ED, heard the dramatic story & seen the aftermath of my aunt's action film-worthy lawnmower accident, taken a zillion photos of a gorgeous cave, and just generally had some awesome times.
Also, this morning in the Sharp County library, I had an LJ post with a LOT of this stuff typed up...and then the library internet crapped out. DANG IT!
For now, though, just know I'm still alive! Too busy living life to blog about it. Ain't that the way?
We are in Frisco! We drove down yesterday after Bryan's class because we wanted to surprise Augie for Father's Day. He was definitely surprised. :) Especially as we showed up at 11pm.
Some amusing things from the drive:
Podcast: This week in the trial of accused mobster [some guy]
Ganon: Q has a LOBSTER?
Podcast: *talking about how cartels invented extremely high powered pneumatic gun to fire cans of marijuana over the border into some guy's field where they would presumably have been picked up if he hadn't found them first*
Bryan: Can you imagine that guy walking in his field and all of a sudden a soup can of pot slams into the ground at his feet?
Me: Guy looks up & is like "Um...thanks?"
Most of us know by now that it's better for the environment (especially as regards our carbon footprint) & better for local economies to live on things that are produced locally as much as possible. This is relatively easy to do if you live in a large metropolitan area & have disposable income. (Intersectionality moment: being poor can make this a very difficult thing to do; it is cheaper to buy mass produced stuff. Other bloggers have addressed that more eloquently than I could, so google!) This is not so easy to do if you live in a rural area, or in a place that's not necessarily rural but is pretty far from major metro areas like I am (the nearest are Memphis @ 1.5 hrs away & Little Rock at 2 hrs away). I have still made it a point to try & source my routine food staples locally wherever I can. I am a notorious reader of labels--not for calories or fat, but for production location!
So, all that said, I decided to make a list of things I eat regularly that I know are produced in Arkansas!
Tips: lots of grocery stores will carry local brands of stuff if they can get it reliably. Wal-Mart is actually really good about this, as are Harp's & Country Mart. Kroger is okay, but I have not known Target to do much of this in my area. The famer's markets in Little Rock & Memphis are known for their local produce & goods, and the Jonesboro market (as if I don't say this enough) has become outright awesome in the last 2 years, with locally produced bread, meat & veggies. During market season, you could locally source an entire cookout or dinner party from within this state, and not use a SINGLE PRODUCT from elsewhere.
Honey: Culps, Jonesboro, AR. Sold in Wal-Mart & Harps. Fisher's honey, a national brand, is out of Little Rock, AR.
Bread: Ozark Hearth, Rogers, AR. Sold in Harps (who carries almost their entire product line!) and Wal-mart.
Petit Jean Meats: Little Rock, AR. This is a national brand; I've been able to find a LOT of their line in Kroger & Harps. Their peppered bacon is amazing & their smoked sausages are a staple at our fondue parties.
Pancakes & Waffles: De Waffelbakkers, Little Rock, AR. This company makes those epic little pancakes that come 3 to a package & you stick 'em in the microwave for a minute & 15 seconds and they're AWESOME. They also make little packages of waffles that are shelf stable & slightly sweet. They're incredible with jam or Nutella.
Wine: Post Familie, Wiedeker, & Mount Bethel vineyards. These are all located in Altus, AR. My absolute favorites are the red muscadine from Post Familie & the sangria from Wiedeker, but Mount Bethel's merlot & fruit wines are on my list to try. I've heard outstanding things about the fruit wines.
Beef: Nine Oaks Farms in Brookland, AR. Hands down the most outstanding bratwurst sausages I've ever had. I don't cook much beef (beef is an environmentally heavy food no matter where it's sourced) but when I do, I buy theirs.
Eggs: Nine Oaks Farms, Brookland, AR. Also Goobertown Farms, Goobertown, AR. (<--this is the gentleman about whom Ganon exclaimed "He has EGGS, Mama! Like FROM REAL CHICKENS!") Once Upon A Farm, Piggott, AR. I usually get these when I'm at the farmer's market during the summer, but Goobertown Farms will meet you in town weekly with eggs if you request!
Pork: Once Upon a Farm, Piggott, AR. Uncured bacon!
Veggies & Fruits (seasonal): These usually come from my farmer's market peeps, but certain grocery stores are VERY good about carrying seasonal produce, especially if it's something the area is known for. For example: Bald Knob/Newport/Judsonia strawberries, Fayetteville blueberries, & Mississippi tomatoes are all very easy to find at Kroger or Harps during their respective seasons.
Ice Cream: Yarnell's Ice Cream, Searcy, AR.
Bottled Water: Mountain Valley Spring Water, Hot Springs, AR.
Seasoning: Cavender's Greek Seasoning, Harrison, AR; this is widely available in Wal-Mart & Kroger. Woody's BBQ sauce, Waldenburg, AR (I grew up with their kids!).
Kettle Corn: Iron Works Kettle Corn, Russellville, AR.
Candy: Juanita's Candy Kitchen, Arkadelphia, AR.
I kinda like this list. I discovered some new ones while I was researching this, and I think I will keep updating it as I find new stuff.
When I was young I hated my freckles. Most likely because everyone commented on them. They were distinctive & noticeable & with my red hair, they made me stand out.
Teenage Hillary would never have believed that 34 year old Hillary would be on her back porch without sunscreen, intentionally getting some sun on her face in order to darken her freckles for the summer. :) Because they are distinctive & noticeable & make me stand out.
Back porch again! I'm surprised. It's just chilly enough to need some sleeves over my tank top.
It's Bryan's last day at school. Literally. He will pack up all of his things & drive away from Weiner High School for the last time, and like every single teacher there, he will probably have tears in his eyes as he drives (which is not really safe but HEY). Everything they have done this year has been like the last wish of a dying person. Every party was savored & well-attended. Everyone was enthusiastic about participating in everything. Graduation was bittersweet, and last night they held what amounted to a memorial service for the school: 1888-2013. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm told it was a tear-jerker; if you made it through all the students telling what being a student here has meant to them, there was apparently a photograph with some music that was calculated to make you cry. If you made it through that...well, no one made it through the final shot, which is a shot of an otherwise empty high school hallway, with just my son & his BFF Maggie walking alone away from the camera, wearing their WHS shirts that say "Our Time" on the back. Hell, I haven't even seen it & just the description makes me cry (it made my mom & aunt, both WHS grads, cry too). I hope someone sends a copy to each member of the state board of education, frankly.
So many experiences we will still have, but I can't help but think of the experiences that have been lost by the closing of this school. Bryan will not get to collaborate with Ms. Hesse the incredible GT teacher anymore. He won't get to work all his years & retire from the same school, which he's repeatedly said he could do if he stayed at Weiner. Ganon won't get the experience of growing up & graduating with the same core group of kids he started kindergarten with. He won't get to be in the most amazing gifted & talented program I've ever heard of.
I'm just sad. It's like the funeral is over, and now is when we have to start moving on. Bryan says the last thing he's going to tell Pam before he leaves (the principal) is that if something crazy ever happens & they get to open the school back up, to put him first on the list to call.
In much more shallow yet happy news, the new Starbucks is open! Apparently they opened last night. I think I might go there for an afternoon pick-me-up just to check it out. This is not news anywhere else in the world, but Jonesboro has never had a stand-alone Starbucks. We've had the one in Target, but nothing else. The only actual coffeehouse type place we had for years was a place called The Edge Coffeehouse on the edge (natch!) of ASU campus, but it is not convenient to anyplace else in town due to university traffic flow. Panera came in last year & that's better, but now I have 3 options for when I want to take my iPad & go do grad school things someplace other than home. :) Plus, they have the full Starbucks menu, & I have to hand it to them: sometimes Starbucks has some DELIGHTFUL little coffee pastries. (One summer, years ago when we were in Dallas, Starbucks had this almond thing: a thin yellow cake about the depth of a jelly roll pan, covered with a layer of extremely thinly sliced almonds overlapping like scales, and drizzled with a very subtle glaze. They have never had it again that I know of, and I MISS IT.)
This week starts another whirlwind of fun! Tomorrow we meet Mimi & Augie in Hot Springs. We will spend a night there, & from there, Ganon will go home with them. I work on Monday, but then after that we pack for Wakarusa on Thursday! We will be happily ensconced on Mulberry Mountain in the Ozark National Forest. I will listen to music to my heart's content, drink wine from local vineyards, & eat some food that is vegan & some that is decidedly not vegan (I will never figure out who decided to place the vegan stir-fry place next door to the guy doing beef roast last year. :)
As for a photo of the day, well...this happened!
I was supposed to be off yesterday & work today, but my director Ashley asked me if I would switch, so I did. That meant I got to go to the farmer's market this morning and hang out with Bryan & Ganon for the rest of the day! Again I'm in my backyard office with a pot of tea & my TV tray desk, but this time I am with both dogs & my boys!
Farmer's market was this morning. Second week, but it was massively crowded! I've never seen so many people at the market at once! They said last week, for opening market, they had 1,400 people. That's phenomenal for a town of this size (70k-ish). It's also an incredible change from the first season, when there were resellers (people had produce from California, for crying out loud). ASU made rules about what could be sold, ensuring everything was locally made or grown, and suddenly we had AMAZING vendors like Falls Farms, Blackwater Produce, Once Upon a Farm, Three Birds Baking, & Nine Oaks Farms! We got coconut balls, eggs, sausage, strawberries, and GOLDEN RAISIN BREAD OMG.
Best thing about this morning was Ganon. Last summer he was kinda "meh" about the farmer's market, which was disappointing to me because I love them so much. He didn't like people talking to him and spent the first 5 minutes hiding behind me, then the rest of the time asking me if we could leave. Today, though, he wanted to go with me. I was not optimistic, but I let him come with, and I'm so glad I did! He was entirely different from last year. Today he pulled me around by the hand from stall to stall. "Mama, let's find the strawberries!" "Mama, look at the puppies!" (The Humane Society had adoptable dogs out today). "MAMA. That guy has eggs. LIKE FROM REAL CHICKENS." "Peanut butter balls, Mama!" "Can we grow some cantaloupes, Mama? And what is a cantaloupe?" I'm pretty sure the "real chickens" statement was my favorite of all time. So he had a great time & it was totally fun, even if the peanut butter balls he got were mislabeled, and actually contained coconut balls!
I think the reason I love music festivals & farmers markets is that they feel similar. The moods at each feel very much alike. People are happy, outside, doing something they love. You very rarely see someone super cranky or in a bad mood, and everyone has the feel of a shared experience.
Bryan & I don't usually do holidays, but we are finding as Ganon gets older, HE wants to. For example, I haven't really gotten anything from Bryan for Mother's Day since my very first one, and I don't mind that. Ganon, on the other hand, DOES want to get me things. I have gotten no less than 5 homemade Mother's Day cards & posters since yesterday.
Tonight for Mother's Day, I am getting an early supper on the porch at Panera, & then a trip to the mall. ACCEPTABLE.
( For fun! )
Out back again, in my "office". :)
I slept in until 11am! I knew I was tired, but I didn't know I was THAT tired! I woke up, built my back porch office, and graded a few formal concept maps for my clinical class. I instructed the last 2 clinical days on Friday & then on Tuesday, for students who had missed a clinical & needed to make that day up.
I bought a bunch of shade perennials from a local nursery, & now I have to decide where I want them. I keep thinking I should do the front yard to make the house look prettier, but on the other hand I want to put them back here so I can see them more often. I just spend more time in the back yard.
I was free float charge for the last 2 days at work. That's good news. The bad news: it was a BEAST OF A JOB those 2 shifts. Seriously; we had 2 days there that if we had not had a free float charge, I don't know what we would have done AT ALL. :( I started IVs, dropped Dobhoff tubes, did medication passes, answered call lights, gave PRN pain medication, did discharges and admissions, and helped the PCTs change beds & give baths.
Amusing: one of my dogs insists on using the dog door. Even if the back door is partially open, Pete will step through the actual dog door to get back into the house.
I am looking at the Sephora website at all the AMAZING Urban Decay eyeliner pencils, but I'm avoiding buying them. The Sephora in our JC Penney is going to open in June, & I'm doing my best to hold off buying anything until then!
This stuff is YUMMY! Thanks for inventing it!
I think mine might be a little more American than intended; the cheese curds are not the freshest (they're the best I could get, living in Arkansas), and I used beef gravy, which some sources on the internet state is not the preferred. Despite all that, however, it was quite delicious! Might make this at a Creech party next winter; it feels like a very wintery food to me.
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I thought my LJ Canadians, especially the velvetpage family & the mairesue family might be interested to know that tonight I will be attempting to make that bastion of Canadian cuisine...poutine! Recently we found that a local grocery store sells cheese curds. They are probably not the freshest, squeakiest ones (they come from Wisconsin), but it was enough to inspire me to try my hand at it. I bought some steak fries, and I will be making some brown gravy.
You might find this silly, but I am trying to be authentic: what seasonings are acceptable on the fries themselves? Just salt & pepper?
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It seems very silly that I don't like sandwiches very much, but you make that same sandwich into a tea sandwich (i.e., cut it into small pieces) and all of a sudden I'm a huge fan. Witness my bologna sandwiches on little butter & egg rolls.
Fact is, this has been my most favorite lunch as of recently: a cup of Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea & a plate of tiny little sandwiches. Most often they're a "salad" of some kind: chicken salad, tuna salad, pimento cheese, but today we have bologna, mustard & red leaf lettuce. I don't always use rolls; sometimes it's just wheat bread cut into triangles. Next up: I want to try my hand at Benedictine spread, bacon & olive salad, and cucumber sandwiches. I'd also like to find an egg salad recipe that isn't bland.
I've also been wanting to have a party at our house again. May is filled to the gills with STUFF, but June is still pretty open. Think I will schedule a Friday or Saturday afternoon for a 2.0 gathering. We can have tea sandwiches! :)
Went to see girlwithoutfear today at Bennett's Nursery, where she works making amazing flower arrangements & beautiful jewelry. She helped me pick out a whole box full of shade perennials that will grow in my full-shade yard. It had never occurred to me that the dark red foliage I favor so much is an adaptation plants have to shade growth...so my favorite color plants are perfectly suited to growing in my yard! Pics soon. :)
Tonight is both the DMB concert in Southaven, MS (a suburb of Memphis) and the WHS Prom, which I want to attend because it's the last prom my high school will ever host. Then the DMB show in DALLAS is now being disrupted because the night BEFORE (we had planned on driving down that night) is WHS graduation! WEINER. WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO MESS WITH MY DAVE MATTHEWS BAND SHOWS. I HAVE HAD ABOUT ENOUGH OF THIS.
Seriously though, prom is going to be fun, I'm sure. Bryan has chosen suspenders & a bow tie. I am going to do a slightly retro hairstyle & full-rim glasses. Geek chic is fun. :)
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Google Drive on the iPad is pretty unacceptably slow these days. I was so excited when I found it the first time because it's PERFECT for grading my students' stuff. My "grading" consists of critiquing a self-reflection done by the student after the clinical day. There are 9 intended outcomes of the clinical experience they need to meet, and I help them evaluate themselves on each of them throughout their rotation with me. This means a ton of feedback so I can see if they change their approach as I evaluate them weekly. Essentially, I am critiquing their critique of themselves. It's a lot of typing. My computer has seriously limited battery life anymore, so I was really digging on the iPad+keyboard case for this...but with Google Drive so slow to freaking update my files, I have to sit here for 10 minutes while all 6 self-reflections become available to me on the app.
I am spending these 10 minutes updating LJ from my porch, otherwise known as my favorite room in the house. Just sent this photo when Bryan asked what I was doing:
The tent is "Ganon's". It's the tent we took to Bonnaroo. We decided one of our problems with it at 'Roo was that it's tiny & not fun to hang out in. We got a 5 person tent for this year's Wakarusa, mostly just so we could stand up in it. So Ganon gets to play with this one in the backyard. We accidentally left it up in the rainstorm last week, and I was surprised to find the inside dry except for one spot, which had a few tiny drips. The grass is growing & we need to get it mowed. There's a giant plant growing in my flower bed & I think it is actually a weed, so I should probably get rid of it. There's a man mowing the yard of the house next door to us, which always seems strange to me (another paragraph on that in a second). I brought my mug, incense & iPad out here, so there's music & coffee & it smells amazing. It's going to rain soon so I'll have to go back inside then, but for now, it's awesome. Even my headache is gone.
The house next door is an oddity I don't think I've ever addressed. The houses in my neighborhood were built mostly in the late 70s to mid 80s, by the look of the architecture (mine was built in 1979). The house next door, however, looks older. Daddy estimates it was built in the early 60s, making it likely the first house built in this subdivision. It was probably here before there WAS a subdivision. Adding to that theory is the size of the back yard. The front yard looks much the same as the rest of ours, but when you look from my back yard, you see that all the fences from all the other houses touch this big, empty space. Then you look behind the house next door & realize there is no fence behind it: the big empty space extends entirely from that yard. Literally every house on this block of my street and on the street that backs up against ours is bordered by this one, massive yard.
The other thing about it is that no one seems to live in it. No one comes & goes, no lights are ever on except a small one by the front window which seems to be on a timer. The garage door opens & closes sometimes, revealing a gray car of some kind (I've never gotten close enough to look). There's also a bunch of unusual, mismatched stuff in the garage: a Dr. Pepper machine from the glass bottle days, some yard tools, several large foot locker type things, and a large collection of glass Starbucks Frappucino bottles (empty) in the 4 pack cardboard things.
Rumor has it that the owner of the house inherited it from someone, but currently lives somewhere in Asia for work. If that's true, they obviously pay to have the house maintained, because it's always mowed. Someone did something to the roof last summer.
Maybe I should ask the guy who is mowing the lawn. I almost don't want to; the speculation is so much more fun. :D
We have been changing our eating habits back to things we like in the summer. This spring I find myself on a kick for tea sandwiches of all types. Started out with the old tuna salad/chicken salad standbys, but I got some seafood salad from Harps & that wasn't bad, and now I am thinking of making my own sandwich spreads for tea sammiches. :) I found a recipe for bacon olive salad that sounded quite delightful, and I would also like to try my hand at Benedictine spread.
One new thing this spring is boiled eggs. We don't usually eat them, or at least we never have. However, with me getting into grad school, I'm trying to figure out cheap, easy foods I can make in batches & eat for a few days. Eggs are protein, too, and if I could figure out a protein that Ganon liked, so much the better. He loves helping me make the boiled eggs in the microwave (we have a microwave egg cooker, which is one of the very few single-purpose kitchen gadgets I love) and he loves them with salt & pepper (though he hates the yolk, which is okay).
The farmer's market opens the first Saturday in May! I'M SO EXCITED! But I work. THAT PART SUCKS. I can't wait for baby lettuce first, then berries, then peaches & tomatoes & OMG FREAKING PRODUCE. And also home-baked bread from 3 Birds!
HEY WHOA the guy mowing the yard just stopped to talk to me! He asked if smoke bothers us because he needs to burn some leaves next week. I wondered at him burning them because i didn't think that was okay in city limits, but he looked familiar, and it turns out he's a firefighter! I know most of the firefighters, and certainly all of them that have been with the department for more than 10 years. Uncle Aaron was the chief for a couple of years, and he was in the department for MANY years before that (since about 1974). Once I figured that out, I asked him the story: why no one lives there, but they don't sell the house. Drama!
Mr. Joe, the original owner of the house, died about 6 years ago. He was an eccentric college professor (wish I could've known him!), and he married a Chinese lady who was not very fond of his family, nor they she. There was huge drama, but when he died he left the house to her. She moved back to China, but kept the house for sentimental reasons. Mr. Tim worked for Mr. Joe for a long time, and the Lady kept Mr. Tim hired on to mow & keep the house looking livable. He does far more than that; the house looks so good that it LOOKS like someone lives there. It creates an illusion that kept our curiosity piqued, because it looks very kept up but you never see PEOPLE. He says the inside of the house is extremely dated; "it looks like you're stepping into the 70s!" That makes me want to see the inside even more; I LOVE that look. <3 She does NOT pay him enough for what he does, let me say. It makes me like Mr. Tim. Many people (most?) would do the bare minimum she asked for, but he keeps the house looking very nice because of the fondness he had for Mr. Joe. About a month back, the garage door kept being open at odd times, and I thought it was on a timer. Mr. Tim said he thought maybe someone's code was very close to the empty house's, and it kept opening because of it. He left me his number & wants me to call if I notice it happening again.
HOW COOL IS THIS? I was just wondering about all this stuff!
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I keep drifting away, then drifting right on back. I CAN'T QUIT YOU, LJ.
Well, ladies & gentlemen...I got into grad school! Yes indeed. I have submitted my commitment to enroll, & on August 5th, I begin the BSN to DNP (doctorate of nursing practice) program at UT Memphis. For the non-medically-initiated, that is a nurse practitioner, but whereas most advanced practice nurses/nurse practitioners have masters degrees, I will have a doctorate. This offers a lot of flexibility; when I am through, I will be able to function as a registered nurse, as a nurse practitioner, or as a nurse educator. I will have my own DEA number & the ability to write prescriptions for most drugs without a physician. I will be able to diagnose. I will even be able to perform procedures considered minor surgeries, such as incision & drainage procedures & sutures. I'M SO EXCITED OMG.
I have opted to stay at St. B's while going to school, and drop down to part-time. I will still be working, but only 2 shifts per week. Gotta find some health insurance for me & Ganon (we are on mine, and when you go part time, you don't have benefits). We gotta remember how to eat & live relatively cheap. It helps that we are entirely free of the old trailer payment (finished in February) and my Honda Element is paid off.
After a long, hard, extremely bitter fight, Weiner High School is closing. Bryan is hunting around for other math jobs; rather, he is choosing from a few offered to him. Our first careers were ones that were hard to find work in. We do not have that problem with our second careers. :) Thank goodness.
I am drinking cider. OH WOODCHUCK, HOW I LOVE THEE.
In conclusion, here is a gratuitous photo of Ganon on our trampoline.
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For those of you who keep up with my attempts to find the longest wearing makeup, you'll know I've been on a lipstick quest for the longest. I've found eyeshadow primers, liners, mascaras...but this is the first lipstick I have been able to tentatively recommend for 12 hour shifts. This is Revlon's liquid lipstick. Texture is similar to the Stila liquid lipstick, but this is $8 where Stila is $24. This pic is after a Gouda soufflé, a cranberry orange muffin, & 2 cups of coffee. First work shift test drive is tomorrow. I will check in. ;)
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I had the best experience at Burger King today. They've really changed up their menu, & they have some super cool sounding stuff. Their dipping sauces especially. So I got onion rings & asked this guy about the sauces. From the beginning of the conversation, he had this body language that Bryan has termed the "Hillary is a Rock Star" effect. I'm pretty sure it was the same body language I had around Jeff Coffin. It usually happens among nursing students (probably bc they're constantly being told what a nurse should look like & I'm a respected, credentialed nurse who looks nothing like that, but I digress), but I get it from people who crush on me, too, like the girl at Starbucks. This guy was even getting tongue tied. :)
Me: Can I get TWO sauces? *playing it for all it's worth*
Me: Which ones are good on onion rings?
Him: Depends on what you like. The jalapeno bbq is really good, but it's got quite a bite. *very obviously trying to seem manly*
Me: Oh! Is the kung pao sauce hot, too?
Him: Yeah, that one is REALLY spicy.
Me: OKAY! I'll take one of each!
In his defense, I did sort of troll him. I was playing it off like I wanted to avoid the sauces that were hot. I was feeling mischevious. Sort of LOKI-LIKE, IF YOU WILL. Like this time me & Q & Jess were in Rogers & the gelato guy was like "You won't want more than a bite of the spicy chocolate, it's too hot!" and Q ordered & consumed a whole scoop. :D
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