Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Orange Tulips=Happy

Spring break: woo hoo.
This is a reminder to me: plant orange tulips again next year!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


You can tell it's finals week around the StudentNurse household because a) I'm up late poring over my Pharmacology book, b) I'm obsessively making flashcards with which to quiz myself, c) I'm up at 2 AM making buttercream frosting for my son's birthday cake.

If you said c, you're right! Finals week is when the real baking begins. Ask a three-year-old (now four-year-old) what kind of cake he wants for his birthday and you get the above pictured cake: "I want dinosaurs and a volcano and I want Buzz Lightyear climbing the volcano and I want Buzz Lightyear to jump into the volcano..." and that's when I had to stop and tell him, "Honey," (and he said, "Call me pumpkin...") "the decorations on your cake are a snapshot in time. I don't have the technology and recipe to make the things move." OK, I made up the last part of the conversation, but, well, it's true. I can't animate buttercream. It's also true that I was up at 2 AM making it. And I would never in a million years make flashcards. That's just not how I study.

The best part of the cake, when I showed it to my little fella, was pointing out Buzz Light year. "hey, Pumpkin, what's that?" and he said, softly and - I'll admit - with a slight bit of awe - "That's Buzz Lightyear and the pterodactyl." (referring to the plastic pterodactyl stuck into the volcano) as if Buzz Lightyear and the pterodactyl is an already existing storyline. Heck, maybe it is.

The cake is actually two cakes and two different frostings. The base is a white sheet cake with a cream cheese frosting. The rocks are actually chocolate rocks (man, the kiddies LOVED that and they actually were tasty, too!). The volcano is a chocolate cake from The Cake Bible and the chocolate buttercream frosting from the same book (that stuff should be illegal it's so delicious). Gotta love finals week giving me the motivation to forgo studying in favor of baking!

Here's the white sheet cake recipe. I stole it from someone on Chowhound who says it's from the Barefoot Contessa:

2 1/4 sticks butter (softened)
3 cups sugar
6 extra large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 12x18 sheet pan and line the bottom with parchment. Butter and flour the parchment. I used a 15 x 13 inch pan and it turned out fine, but would probably be better (moister because I could bake it for less time) with the correct pan.

Sift flour, cornstarch, salt and soda. Cream butter and sugar until pale. Add eggs, then sour cream and vanilla. Mix well. On low speed slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix only until smooth. Pour into pan and bake 25-30 min until a toothpick comes out clean.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Household Scissors

Ah. The quarter is over except for two pesky finals (pharm and theory). I'm not going to let two tests stand in the way of relaxing and, even as I say that, I lie. (Major aside that is the side effect of end-o-quarter brain malfunction: one of my favorite Dr Seuss stories is from the Sneetches book,What Was I Scared Of? and one of my favorite Seuss stanzas is from that story:

I said, "I do not fear those pants
With nobody inside them."
I said, and said, and said those words.
I said them. But I lied them.

Tonight it was antivirals and antifungals, the -virs and the -azoles. Brain malfunction: I love the words "reverse transcriptase".

So, my last week of clinicals. My patient was very sweet. I learned "Quantas dolor?" and felt for the first time that I was making a difference for someone when I put lotion on his very dry lower legs. And then, rumor had it, someone was having their wound vac changed (Yes, wound vacuum). Silently, I slipped into the room and about 8 other silent white-clad students were there. We had, the previous week, been very disappointed to have missed the insertion of a nasogastric tube and we were eager to see something a little more... learnable than a bed bath or giving patients medications with a spoon.This fella had a giant wound on his arm (I thought: That's quite the booboo). Polaroids of said wound were drying on the bedside table. And the nurse starts prepping the materials to cover the wound. I turned to the person next to me, "Are those....household scissors that he is using to cut that foam?" and someone asked, "Uh, are you keeping a sterile field?" Anyways, layers of stuff went on the huge booboo and the machine was started, schloooooop, and we went back to helping our patients shower or hiding out and chatting in the staff room.

So, wound vacs and household scissors aside...breadsticks. They're a good thing. I was up for snack week at my son's school and, um, that whole brain problem thing, I'd forgotten. So, what do you make when you have to give a group of kids a nice snack. Right! I though mini muffins, too! But, alas, very little sugar and no sugar-y stuff except malt syrup from my failed pretzel making experience (sigh). So, I did breadsticks. You could roll these breadsticks in anything: nuts, seeds, herbs, cheese, cinnammon and sugar (um, not all at once) and you'd be set. I did a little bit of cheese on some, but, sprinkled most of them with a little bit of salt before putting them in the oven and that was delicious.

Breadsticks, basic recipe

Package of dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp softened butter
Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
6 cups (plus) AP flour
topping of choice

Put warm water and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. How warm is that water? It should be water that you would like to take a bath in, but your kids would say, "It's tooooo hot!" Add the butter, sugar half the flour and the salt. Using dough hook, mix until combined and add the remaining flour and mix until smooth but sticky. Turn into oiled bowl and cover with clean kitchen towel (notice that recipes ALWAYS specify clean as if we're filthy heathens who would use a damp, dirty towel) and let rise until doubled (an hour, about). Turn dough onto lightly oiled surface and divide into 50 to 75 pieces (it's up to you). Roll each piece into a 10 inch snake (ok, I did mine randomly as you can see in the picture. It was late plus the whole brain problems). Scatter your topping of choice over work surface and roll the snakes over it. Place snakes on a parchment covered cookie sheets. Cover and let rise for 35 minutes. preheat oven to 400 degrees and let snakes rise for another 10 minutes while the oven preheats. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and yummy.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Running Head: One More Week, Sorta

Does everyone here love APA formatting as much as I do? It's this huge scam put together by the American Psychological Association to sell a new manual about it every couple of years. In order to do that the APA has to change various things about the format. This is the only possible explanation for some its more bizarre elements. My favorite is the title page and the inexplicable Running Head. And I'm downright uncomfortable not capitalizing the words in book titles in my reference page. It seems so...disrespectful. If you don't know what I'm talking about I envy you. I long for the days when I didn't own the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Oh, I mean the Publication manual of the american psychological association. OK, I know, I'm allowed to capitalize "American", but it wouldn't be as odd and uncomfortable and then my point would be, somehow, muted and you'd move on to the more interesting student nurse blogs, wouldn't you now?

Well, you already have. My patient: one almost 100 and suffering from dementia. The first day, she seemed fine: social, funny and charming. I would have barely called her forgetful. At one point she went to get her toothbrush and forgot what she had gone to get, but, heck, who hasn't done that? The next day that I saw her she told me to go away. She thought sleeping pills had been hidden in her banana (she pointed to a few brown spots where they had "clearly" been inserted). My clinical instructor thoughtfully rotated the banana around and looked at it closely, "No, no medication here." With dementia you're supposed to use "reality orientation" so I pointed out that every day she takes something like 20 pills and why wouldn't "they" just slip them in with her other pills. And then she said that people (specifically a "woman in a wheelchair") is spreading rumors that she's looking into windows. Next minute, she's charming and sweet again. All I could think of: check her O2 sat. 95% and that = fine for someone of her age, but it would get my son instant admission in the ER during an asthma attack. Next plan: give her a shower. That really perked her up, made me feel like I'm only half-feeble as a nurse.

You've got to come and see my tulips! Now the sun is up when I leave the house at 6:15 AM and I run past them, some are dropping their petals, some are in their prime and some are various stages of about to happen.