Skip to content

Bacon-cheddar burgers and fries with chipotle aioli

2014 July 15
by Laura

“I honestly didn’t think you would grill this much,” Someone said the other day.

“What, you didn’t think I would grill 3-4 times a week?”

When a girl who has been deprived of gas grill cooking for 2 years finally gets a balcony (that doesn’t really permit gas grills but shhhhh), in the month of July, she grills.

In the last 7 days we’ve had steaks, salmon, chicken, and burgers on the grill.

The other day we went to Home Depot and purchased this little baby-que (as Pops calls it) from Weber. It has a stand that you can get so it’s not on the ground, but we like the ability to move it around the corner and out of any prying eyes when it’s not in use.

927733_705004112886029_1365097864_n

It’s cute, right? And don’t worry, there’s still a surprising amount of square inches of grill space — enough for 4 steaks, 4 pieces of chicken, 4 burgers + onions…

10561168_919736244719906_1088392562_n

For two people, this is perfect.

Last night I made these bacon-cheddar burgers with ranch mayo and grilled onions, with a side of oven-baked fries and a chipotle aioli.

Burgers: 

  • 1 lb lean ground beef (I like 85-15 when you can find it, because it’s pretty dry when you go for 90-10)
  • 1 package instant dry onion-mushroom soup mix (Lipton)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce or steak sauce
  • 4 slices white cheddar cheese
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • Burger buns
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Tomato slices
  • 4 slices cooked bacon
  • 1/4 cup ranch dressing or light mayo (I mixed 2 tbsp each together)

Heat grill. In a bowl, mix together the beef, onion soup mix, parsley, and steak sauce with your hands. Form into 4 patties.

Place patties on grill and cover, cook over medium heat 10-14 minutes, turning once. (Cook burgers to 160 degrees.) About halfway through, add the red onions (coated with cooking spray) to the grill. Top each patty with a cheese slice and cook just until melted. Toast buns if desired.

Layer buns with ranch, lettuce, tomato, bacon, burger, and onion.

10467893_798779156822702_645406378_n

The chipotle aioli recipe I made up in an attempt to re-create the kind from our favorite burger joint. Someone said I came “pretty darn close” to the original, so I’ll take that as a compliment.

  • 1/2 cup light mayo
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or you could use 1-2 canned chiles in adobo sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon regular chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (more if you like a lot of garlic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients. The first version of mine was WAY too spicy, so I just added more mayo and sour cream until it was still burning like fire but made you keep going back for more.

10554191_726820254023086_2097875217_n

Dip your fries and enjoy!

New apartmento: The bedroom

2014 July 14
by Laura

I have been planning on giving you a virtual tour of our new apartment since the night we moved in, but let’s be honest — even with my compulsive desire to unpack and hang things on the walls and get all the boxes out of the way, the apartment doesn’t get presentable for quite a few weeks after a move. One room at a time, I’ll share our new abode with you!

photo5

The bedroom is actually one of my favorite spaces in the new place. Someone and I keep commenting that we have so much space we honestly don’t know what to do with it. I actually can’t hear him from certain rooms in the place, and that is fineeeee by me. We have a lot of square footage, and I am kind of obsessed with it.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about all the paint in the new place. We did a lease transfer from the previous tenants, which means the leasing company is under no obligation to repaint or clean the digs before the next move-in. We had the apartment professionally cleaned the day before we moved in (because, ew), but there was no time (or cash) for a repainting. The color choices by the previous peeps are…interesting. The bedroom is electric blue, and the living area is split between an “I guess I can live with this” shade of peach-beige and a “what the hell were they thinking” hue of purple. (I know you are now on the edge of your seat until the living room is revealed.)

But, I digress. The bedroom!

(I apologize for the lighting and quality of the following photos; our apartment has very little natural light {which is actually fine with me because, night shift} which makes it difficult to photograph without floor lamps and an ugly flash.)

Luckily for me, I had a shabby chic set of furniture in creamish/white that helps lighten up the dark blue space. The new duvet cover also helps lift the room, and I went with a little “beach/water” theme, because what the heck else was I going to do?

The photo below showcases my little bedside nook, with a painted map of Barnegat Bay, a photo of bikes I snapped last summer, and a watercolor of New Jersey.

photo4

photo3

I attempted a little “gallery wall” with photos of us in sepia and dark blue tones. Someone’s family makes a (blurry) appearance as does mine!

photo2

So there you have it! The brightest blue bedroom in America.

photo1

Love and marriage

2014 July 13
by Laura

I spent a beautiful weekend in Boston, MA, watching one of my dear college friends get married on the banks of the Westport River, in the place she loves surrounded by her man, her family, and her friends.

It was quite magical, indeed!

After a quick stop off in Newport, RI, for some crabs and a cliff walk…

1503918_941278897539_3124692136289158735_n

10325137_941278278779_386703888908890781_n

…we headed to Westport, ate oysters, drank beer and prosecco, and then watched a truly romantic ceremony by the water.

10525945_941278378579_8518431058508884011_n

As I said to Someone yesterday evening, weddings are kind of the most fun we get to have anymore. I know that sounds sad, but weddings are just so fun and really, when else do you get to dance the night away with your buddies anymore?

10516685_941277555229_7812834841940474108_n

Simply magnificent.

Hashtag movingproblems

2014 June 30
by Laura

In the past, I was a moving pro. I think I moved 10 times in 10 years.

When I moved out of Richmond in 2007, I got rid of a ton of stuff. I also owned nothing: all my furniture was lovingly provided by the university for the past four years. I moved to DC in June of 2007 with just two (small) cars’ worth of belongings, and even that wasn’t much. (I had a twin bed!)

Belongings accrued over time, of course, and when I moved to New York City I purged so many things. Books were one of the first things to go—I had a Kindle, and books in a NYC apartment is foolishness all over (at least when your studio was the size mine was!*)

When moving back from NYC to West Chester I took even fewer things. But now, two years after moving into my first ever “luxury” apartment building, it’s like the stuff has been secretly multiplying.

To be fair, I’m a 29 year old woman who cooks—over time, that lends itself to the acquisition of things. Of nice things. Of food processors and stand mixers and pizza makers (more on this later) and baking tools.

photo

I digress. The point of this post is just to say that yes, everyone hates moving. There’s no easy way to do it (other than hiring movers, which is so so essential). You have to pack and you have to purge and you have to consolidate. You have to go through condiments that have long expired and ask yourself whether you really will ever wear that shirt (that last fit you in college) again. You have to use your muscles and do heavy lifting and be pretty miserable for at least four days because you’ve over-packed too soon and now there’s no bowl for your cereal.

The only way to get through it is to (a) distract yourself (see wine and Nurse Jackie in photo above) and (b) keep the end goal big picture in mind.

For example: Changing your address on all of things is SO annoying. Living with your best friend is not.

photo (1)

So here we go: T-1 day to go! Tomorrow’s the movers/moving truck/family helpers/isitoveryet/areyoukiddingmewiththeweatherforecast day!

Wish us luck!

*HOW DID I EVER LIVE IN AN APARTMENT SO SMALL

Mediterranean Pasta Bake

2014 June 23
by Laura

Yum! Enjoy this flavorful, easy pasta dish, which makes great use of leftover chicken.

10507924_1427290627551950_1259359757_n

Summery and light, fresh flavors.

  • 2 cups uncooked rotini
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 large shallots, minced
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 3 cups or less chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 6-oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • ½ cup or more oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (+) chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 375F.  Spray 2 quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray.

Cook rotini. Meanwhile, melt butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots; cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in flour, cook 30 seconds. With wire whisk, stir in broth. Add mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove rom heat; stir in cheese until melted.

Drain pasta. Add rotini, chicken, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and parsley to mushroom mixture; mix gently. Spoon into spray-coated casserole. Bake at 375F for 25 to 30 minutes until bubbly. Garnish with parsley.

 925902_750243345014647_400164330_n

Easy summery scramble

2014 June 18
by Laura

Night shift has made me appreciate breakfast in so many ways. I have never before found myself craving breakfast food for every single meal of the day.

I (somehow?) whipped this up last week at 8:45 a.m. before crashing into the sleep of the dead after a string of shifts. All you need is butter, eggs, spinach, green onions, mushrooms, and goat cheese.

photo

Mix three eggs in a small bowl with a fork. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a small pan, add 1 tbsp sliced green onions and 1/3 cup sliced mushrooms. After about three to four minutes, throw in 1 cup of fresh spinach leaves and cook about two more minutes or until spinach is beginning to wilt.

Add the eggs to the pan and let sit for a second, then stir with a small spatula. Add in 2+ tbsp of fresh goat cheese crumbles, and stir until the cheese is melted. Plate up with some berries and toast, and you’re well on your way to an impressively delicious meal!

Purse strings

2014 June 18
by Laura

Guys.

I HATE MOVING.

Moving is so annoyingly irritating on its own, without factoring in the price of it all. A move-out fee? A move-in fee? $400 worth of movers (plus tip!)? Apartment cleaning (plus tip!)? Boxes, duct tape, bubble wrap? The inevitable Target and Ikea runs the weekend after the move where we buy things we totally need like hooks and bath mats and wall-hanging kits and things we totally don’t need like solar Chinese lanterns for the patio and cute Etsy prints for the kitchen? Add that in with the old “6-months-later-and-your-loan-grace-period-is-over-muahahahaha” bit and I’m starting to wish Ramen was gluten-free.

(But seriously, how cute is this

il_570xN.588241286_ase4

and these

12958843

and this?!

il_570xN.517602772_o1qh

Anyway, I digress. I don’t understand how I still have so many things after purging, like, a ton of the things. I gave so many bags of clothing to charity (lots of it that didn’t fit, in the good way!!), and yet I still have a closet full of clothes.

But the real mystery of it all is, HOW IS THERE SO MUCH CLOTHES AND YET I STILL NEVER HAVE ANYTHING TO WEAR? Hashtag amirite, hashtag ladyproblems.

Aside from the unmistakable joy of packing my life in boxes and the unnervingly regular stress dreams about the move, I’m doing great, really.

I also had a really scary realization the other day…

i-have-to-live-with-a-boy

Oh, my goodness. How has this not hit me until just now? Yes, I’m moving in with my best friend and my favorite person and he is neat and respectful and lovely and darling and I love him to bits. BUT, he’s a BOY.

“Does this make me look fat? Be honest.” 

Girl roommate: “EW, what a stupid shirt. That shirt is so dumb it is totally making it look like a maternity shirt even though you are so so skinny underneath. Throw that shirt away. You look amazing.”
Boy roommate: (Doesn’t even look) “No.”

“Which pair of earrings looks better with this shirt?”

Girl roommate: “The hoops.”
Boy roommate: “Those are two different earrings?”

“Want to listen to some music while we get ready and have a little dance party?”

Girl roommate: TURN ON DEMI AND 1D!
Boy roommate: “Sure. I have a Shins playlist I made the other day, which has a bunch of The Decemberists on it. Also, I’m already ready.” (Throws on shirt, changes jeans.)

“I feel super bummed, can we watch a movie?”

Girl roommate: “I have a better idea. I’ll go buy ice cream and you cue up Pretty Woman. Then let’s talk about all your feelings.”
Boy roommate: “I got –insert superhero movie here– from Redbox!”

Obviously, I’m joking here, because girls don’t really have pillow fights and boys don’t really all love Die Hard. In reality, I couldn’t be more pumped to live with Someone. I already know he doesn’t leave the seat up, he closes the shower curtain after he showers, and he always takes out the trash. I know he doesn’t leave toothpaste in the sink and he doesn’t snooze his alarm.

I honestly can’t wait to find out all the little things about him that I never noticed before, and I can’t wait for us to bug each other in entirely new ways. (Insert cute smiley emoji here.) Less than two weeks to go!

Nursing, from the other side

2014 June 15
by Laura

This past Monday I had a celiac-disease-related procedure to check out how my insides are doing after three years of following a rigidly dedicated gluten-free diet.

I was nervous, but not as nervous as I was the first time. I took my little cab over to the hospital and let the nurses in the GI suite take care of me.

I learned several things from the experience about nursing care. I’ve been lucky enough in my life not to encounter too many nurses “from the other side.” The nurse who takes my vitals and gives me flu shots in primary care, yes. The nurses who taught me for 18 months, yes. Watching other nurses do the nurse thing around me? Every day.

But, it is so, so different to be laying in a bed, scared, and having NO idea what is going on at all times.

photo1

Taking the information I gleaned during my short procedural visit at Georgetown Hospital, I tried to be a better nurse this week.

1. Yup: IVs do hurt.

2. IVs hurt coming out, too. Nurses told me before that it doesn’t hurt when they’re removed, other than the old “tape-pulling-off-all-the-arm-hair” bit. False.

3. Blankets = heaven. When patients ask me for their 40th extra blanket, I’ve found myself confused before. Now I either pre-empt them with four extras to begin with or forgive the fifth request. You’re naked in a gown under a sheet!! I get it now.

4. I forget sometimes that although I (kinda) know the way things work in the ER, many of the patients do not. I know that I come in, then I do stuff to them (take their blood, hang fluids, take them to CT), and then the doctor sees them later. They don’t get that, and I had been neglecting to consistently explain it.

5. People have NO feeling of control when they’re in a hospital bed—even less in the emergency room because they’re in pain or something is wrong. Giving them a choice—”apple or cranberry juice?”—is sometimes enough to make people feel much better. Even the little warning of “hey, this is going to feel cold” is incredibly helpful. (The cardiac monitor leads are cold! Who knew?!)

6. Some patients relate to their nurses more than their doctors. (Just as some patients relate to the doctors way more than nurses.) Even though I had met my nurse Brandy just 18 minutes beforehand, when I was being hooked up to anesthesia, 100 monitors, oxygen, and forced to put a giant bite block in my mouth and turn over, the person I wanted near me was Brandy.

7. Huh: the blood pressure cuff DOES get really tight. All the people who I silently thought were crazy before…I take it back. That thing pumps up hard!

8. I felt slight anxiety about the procedure even knowing exactly the medications (and their side effects and half lives!), the type of procedure it was, what was going to happen, and what I would look like at all times (we do endoscopies in the ER, sometimes, and I’ve been in Brandy’s position before). I can only imagine what patients who do not speak “medical” must feel. It’s always worth speaking in plain English: better to offend someone by overexplaining something simple than to assume they know what you mean.

9. I still find it difficult to imagine being rude or disrespectful to any health care provider, but I’m not everyone. People act differently when they’re hurting, or scared, or if they feel out of control or lonely. I am always as empathetic as possible, and I do try to read each patient individually to determine what they want from me. (Although to be honest, I don’t always have time for that step.)

Do you want my hand to hold? You got it (even if you dig your nails into my hand during the procedure). Do you want me to “stop saying sorry, I know you don’t mean it”? (which was entirely false, because I always genuinely mean it.) Fine. I’ll stop. Want to tell me how to do my job? That’s OK, I’ll forgive you, I won’t snap back, and I’ll do it how I do it anyway. Want to sing to me? Cool! I’ll sing, too. (That last one was fun.)

Remembering that everyone is different is helpful. Remembering that EVERYONE (patients, family, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, techs) in the ER is stressed out is also helpful. But remembering that people are human and usually will apologize later for words they honestly don’t mean to say is the most beneficial in getting me through a rough night or day.

10. The five or six nurses who took care of me last Monday all made a difference in my comfort level and in my experience during the endoscopy. And I didn’t get to say one word to them about how great they were, other than a brief and groggy-anesthesia-faced “thank you.” It is my biggest hope that often I am making a difference to people in some small way, whether I know it or not.

Here’s one word about your nurse: Just like patients, nurses aren’t all roses and rainbows. People are often critical of nurses, people think they are “slow” (as I was called last week) or that they don’t mean it when they say “I’m sorry.” There is no nurse who enjoys hurting a patient, or seeing a person in pain. That is not the vocation we chose. I’m not happy about having to give you an IV. I hate that I have to move you into the hallway—I do. I’m not pumped about giving you the nasty-tasting medication, either, and I am truly sorry that you have to wait 10 hours to get a bed in the hospital proper. I certainly hate inserting a catheter or a nasogastric tube or one of the many other horrible things that could be ordered for you by an ER doc. Everything I do I do because I am trying to help. Always and forever, that is the bottom line: I am trying to help you get better. Forgive your nurses sometimes when they are having a rough day, when they disappear, when they just lost a patient in the room next door, or when they haven’t eaten in 10 hours and have the worst case of the hangries ever documented.

Because, as an adorable older gentleman reminded me last week, “Isn’t it just so nice when everyone gets along?”

I’m 29!

2014 June 9
by Laura

I didn’t really realize I was 29 until I saw it printed on a form today and I went, “Oh. That’s not right.” Then I got sad and realized, Oh, yes it is. Even though I have been calling myself 29 out loud for 6 months now, it still seems different somehow to really be 29. There are DEFINITELY more crows’ feet involved already.

I spent one of my best ever birthdays with my favorite people and things at the shore—goldens, family, Someone, sunshine, cake, wine, snow crabs, and OITNB.

10417748_929209005699_746915864533593202_n

getting some help from the goldens to blow out my candles

My people sure do know how to make a girl feel special. Look at all these cards, for cryin’ out loud! Whoever said that snail mail was going out of style surely doesn’t have friends and family like mine.

10431863_1444637885793081_1956855835_n

My mom found some old glamour shots of me as a 3 year old, so she brought those and hung them up for us all to laugh at. The funniest was realizing that I still make this sassy-pants face pretty often.

10413063_386510778156667_1952003951_n

I got some wonderful gifts for our new apartment — a kitchen table, a pizza maker (more on that later) and hand-pasta crank (homemade GF ravioli!), and a table set for our patio. Add in some string lantern lights and a mini fridge and our little outdoor bar and bistro is nearly complete!

One of my favorite gifts was this caricature of Riggins. My parents went to a gala a few weeks ago where an artist drew this from a photograph on my mom’s cell phone that I took of him last year. The resemblance is uncanny, right?

10463927_929521234989_9173263292229657336_n

He really captured Goofy-goo’s personality in that picture. And the original photograph, for anyone who wants to be amazed:

10388016_257799117740409_2141676591_n

So here I am at 29, more blessed and grateful than ever, and exactly where I want to be. Cheers!

10448975_709381642443496_923961591_n

30 seconds between a bad-a$$ and a total screw-up

2014 June 1
by Laura

What’s up?

Night shift is up. The end of orientation is up. My tenure in my current residence is up.

But let’s start in order, shall we?

1. Night shift. SUCH A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP! I summed it up to my coach the other night: I am always hungry, I am always tired, and I never sleep.

Her response: “Yup.”

wine and oatmeal cookies: just one of my random 10 p.m. cravings

wine and oatmeal cookies: just one of my random 10 p.m. cravings

Why night shift is awesome: Less busy, sort of, but mainly a different kind of busy. It is a busy that is stacked in the beginning, so that you’re all gravy by 5:30 a.m. and can sit down for a second and think. You can laugh with colleagues and have time to process and learn and think about your nursing practice. It’s not as difficult as I thought it would be to “prepare” for the whole “no sleep for 24 hours” part of the beginning of a three-night stretch. It’s a really cool culture and I like to be a part of it.

the traffic-less commute home Memorial Day morning

the traffic-less commute home Memorial Day morning

Why night shift is not awesome: After coming off a stretch of three nights in a row, it’s difficult to convert to the normal life of being awake during daylight hours. Like, impossible. It’s kind of like how you get worse jet lag from traveling east than you do when you travel west. Scientific studies have proven it takes one day to adjust a body clock backwards by just two hours. In theory, then, it would take six days to get back onto a normal schedule. When you’ve only got three days before you go back to nights, it seems pointless. So I am a crank monster. ALL THE TIME.

pre-night shift ritual: iced coffee, nurse jackie.

pre-night shift ritual: iced coffee, nurse jackie.

2. Orientation is over. I have my final evaluation tomorrow evening, one shift left with my coach (best coach ever), and then I’m on my own like a baby bird flying from the nest.

download

 

This is both exciting and terrifying. I am eager to “own my own practice,” as my educator would say, but I’m also going to have about 100,000 questions per night (no exaggeration) and will doubt and second guess my decision-making skills all the time. There is a lot of autonomy involved in emergency nursing, and the wisdom and acumen to take care of patients successfully is both inherent and learned. With experience it will get better, but the beginning is surely to be a rough road.

There are so many highs and lows: pleasant patient interactions and combative ones, happy moments and devastating, days when you get the hard IV start and days when you blow every single vein. Moments where you catch something important and others where you miss something obvious. It’s all part of the whirlwind 12 hours that make up the shift. I can say that where I’ve come in the last 3 months is nowhere near where I started, and I know the journey will continue.

3. I forgot how much moving sucks.

That is all.