May 27, 2016

The Unfinished Projects

For almost four years I have had plans to redo my backyard and to tile the laundry room. Until just recently, I have had the tiles and all the supplies have been purchased for the laundry room. I just could not get myself motivated enough to start working. Mostly because it is hot outside...

Well I finally motivated Kevin to work on it for me. And it looks great!

We started off kind of...well not good. Apparently mortar has an expiration date. I had bought some and never did the project till now which meant we had immediate set mortar on our Kevin's hands.

So a Lowe's trip later and we were back in business.

I will say I tore up the laminate, cleaned the floors, and then after I sealed the grout and cleaned the floor again. So at least I did something...


A couple of things you need to know:
1. Do not let your mortar expire--reason being is because moisture is probably seeped in somehow and that is what ruins it.
2. Get a tile saw and a man. I mean I am all for your women who are independent and such, but those cuts and using that tile saw do not look fun. (hey, just me being honest!)
3. Have someone to double check you. Keep that man (especially if he is detailed oriented) because everywhere will tell you to start in the center of the room with a full tile and tile out and then make your cuts and measurement. But you can play with that. We started in the center a wall, but on one side so that we would have as many full tiles showing as possible since we knew the other side would be covered by our washing machine/dryer. You feel me? But make sure if you get creative with how you lay the tile that you have someone to check you before you wreck you.
4. You should apply your mortar not only to the floor, but to the back of the tile. Extra security, you know?! Especially if it is a bigger sized/heavy tile.
5. We did this on a concrete subfloor, so the tile can go directly to that concrete. I know nothing if your subfloor is different except for that you need to lay some drywall looking concrete stuff.
6. Don't let that stone sealer dry on the tile when you are sealing your grout. Even by using the stone sealer again, it is hard to remove. (oops)

Kevin swears he won't ever do a tiling project again. Haha, he lives with me! Who is he kidding? I am sure he will have another tiling project in his lifetime.

And seriously, what a crummy guide to tiling, but hey, this is real world ya'll!
See what I mean about number 3 with the center stuff? Oh and back off ladies, he is all mine! ;-)


In other unfinished projects news...
I actually started with the motivation digging up some planters in the backyard. Then, you guessed it...it got hot. So now it looks just even worse. So yeah, finishing my not be my strength for house projects right now. But I have gotten some other things done. You know it's bad when these are the things I have done instead...

Set up a new 401k
Organized all of the pictures on my computer
Cleaned out my email inbox and unsubscribed to some things
Washed my makeup brushes
Flossed my teeth


Clearly I have issues. Tell me how you get motivated!
Have you ever done a tiling project? Will you do one again?

May 25, 2016

Chicken Cordon Bleu Roll Ups

If you can't already tell, I am a girl who got married and decided to learn how to cook. I whipped up a couple of boxed brownie mixes in high school but other than that I didn’t really start cooking until I got married to my husband and realized I had to feed him!

When I was in high school, I would remember one of my husband's favorite things to eat were these frozen Cordon Bleu Roll Ups.

Well even with the crescent rolls, I found an easy and healthier way to give the man a piece of his past!




Ingredients:

1 can of crescent rolls
6 slices of deli ham
1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
2 tablespoons of yellow or dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
shredded cheese blend

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375.

Remove crescent rolls from can and lay out in a long rectangle. Press the seams together.

Slather mustard on rectangle and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Layer with cheese, ham, and chicken.

Roll up like a cinnamon roll and cut into rolls. (6-8 rolls)

Place in a 9 inch pie pan or baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm and enjoy!


Happy Hump Day!
When did you learn to cook?

May 23, 2016

Slow Cooker Broccoli Beef

Round two of recreating yummy Panda Express recipes! I just love making really good and really easy meals. The first time I made this, I made it with some "pot roast steak" which whatever it was, was not a good cut of steak. If you make it with a good cut of rump or skirt steak, this meal is a good feeling!

Elevate with a nice glass or chardonnay and eating this meal gives me simple good feelings like...

Lying in bed on a stormy morning and not having to get up.
Being finished with something you really dread doing. It's a huge weight off your mind and a sense of accomplishment rolled into one.
Waking up feeling rested. You feel like you can take anything on that day.

Having the song on the radio finish at the exact instant you pull into your driveway and turn off the car.
Hearing that gentle crumbly sound your vacuum makes when it picks something up.
Fresh sheets on your bed.

Taking off your ski boots off after a long day in the mountains.
Taking your first gulp of water during a hot day.
Going to bed after taking a shower.

Oh you want the recipe?! Well...okay!



Ingredients:

1.5 pounds of pot roast steak, thinly sliced
1 (10 ounce) can of beef broth
2/3 soy sauce
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes
4 cups of broccoli florets
2 tablespoons of corn starch and 4 tablespoons of cold water

Directions:

Mix together beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, and red chili flakes. Pour over steak in slow cooker on low for 4-5 hours.

Once done, whisk together water and corn starch in a bowl and add to slow cooker and stir. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Just before serving, place broccoli in large container and fill with 1/2 inch of water and place lid over lightly so broccoli can steam. Microwave for 3 minutes. Drain and then stir broccoli into slow cooker. Then serve~

Adapted from here


What are some of the simple things that make you feel good?

May 20, 2016

Carb Cutting

So when I got married, I looked good! (haha) I went on a low carb diet to lose some weight and look good for the wedding.

I am now trying again. I also was found to have borderline high cholesterol. Being a cardiac nurse, I went to try and found what to do and found this article that shows that low carb diets can reduce certain risk factors and lost nearly three times as much weight as those on a low-fat diet.

Of course, all carbs are not created equal, simple carbohydrates are easily digestible and can lead to blood sugar spikes and lack dietary fiber.

So here I am making smart swaps to improve my health. Because...health is your wealth. Here are some things I have been doing to improve my diet:

Commit to cutting out bread:
This is my hard part. I am a lover of bread baskets, but it is full of carbs and refined sugars. Therefore, I cut the sandwiches, bread baskets, and crackers. 

For sandwiches I have found it is easy to make a couple of great swaps.

Breakfast can be a little more difficult, so try and prepare by pre-making some low carb, high protein options. Try my Cream Cheese Pancakes or Ham Quiche Cups.


Swap fruit for veggies:
Fruit isn't bad for you, but there are also lots of natural sugars present, so if you’re really trying to cut back on your carb intake, replace fruits like bananas, apples, grapes, and pears with sliced cucumber, crunchy celery, or raw peppers or broccoli. Try making my Broccoli and Cheese Casserole, Bell Pepper Nachos, Chicken Salad, Shrimp Foil Dinner, or Low Carb Stuffed Bell Peppers (basically stuffed sans rice). I also incorporate zucchini at times with my Zucchini Pizza Boats and even with a little bit of flour with my Zucchini Pancakes.


But know not all veggies are low in carbs:
Certain vegetables should be avoided if you’re looking to go low-carb. Examples include starchy or sweet-tasting veggies like peas, corn, carrots, and sweet potatoes. The peas and corn are the hard ones for me, I still enjoy my Corn Pie!


Mind your condiments:
You might not realize it, but common condiments such as ketchup and barbecue sauce have a fair amount of carbs thanks to their sugar content. Instead, start using low carb options like mustard, tons of fresh spices, flavored vinegar, or fresh lemon juice and pepper.

Oh and also those salad dressings:
Just look at their carb counts! Thousand Island? More like Thousand Carbs. My favorite lower carb dressings are Blue Cheese and Bolthouse Farm's Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing (not a sales pitch, but I would bathe in it...just saying).


Watch what you drink:
I probably don’t need to tell you that most booze is packed with carbs and sugars, so it’s best to take it easy while you’re trying to slim down. If a cocktail or two is necessary during the weekend, stick to small amounts. A little glass of dry wine isn't too offensive in the carb count.

It is also key to stay away from sugar-packed non-alcoholic drinks like sports beverages, lemonade, and soda.


Dessert Dessert:
Not that we all don’t indulge now and again, but the fact remains that sugar is not so great for you. I often use some tea after dinner to help calm my cravings. Sometimes I will also have a Peanut Butter Banana Muffin, some Low Carb Cheesecake, or a small handful of almonds and semi sweet chocolate chips. Also, here are some other tips for cutting out sweets.



What are your thoughts on low carb?
What are some simple swaps you make on the daily?

May 18, 2016

How I Waste My Time

I hate to say this, but after all the years I have ever been on this Earth, I have finally developed allergies. WOW do they suck!

I have been going between staying inside and trying to soak up with last couple of days where it is not unbearable to live in Arizona.

It seems like those days are finally here and with my allergies, I will be spending more days indoors. Unfortunately that gives me more opportunities to waste time.

We all have those things we do where as soon as we start, we seem to look down and go, "oh crap, it has been three hours?!" You know what I am saying? These things that are not all that productive that reel us in and have us hooked. Here are five of those things for me:

Spending Hours Looking at Real Estate. 
Sure, this makes sense if you are considering buying a house. Not so much if you aren't...But occasionally, one would like to dream of buying a million dollar home.

Pretty Instagram Accounts.
Need an instant mood booster? Just follow a pretty IG account with all things pink, bright, and pretty. It’s like a temporary escape from reality that I can’t seem to unfollow.

Pinterest.
Don’t even try to deny this one, some of you out there are guilty too. It boosts my mood and I am done with all things productive for a solid two hours.

Watching YouTube Videos.
I mean music and also Buzzfeed and James Corden.

My Middle School/High School Playlist.
Every now and then I will stumble upon a couple of these songs and I am hooked on memory lane for a little bit. My tastes were a little punk rock/emo then...


How do you waste your time?

May 16, 2016

White Sands National Monument

Right outside of Las Cruces, NM (my hometown) is White Sands National Monument.  If anyone watches the Today Show (which really, who does? I really want to know...) they made a boo boo by saying that White Sands is in Mexico. And yes, when I tell people I lived in New Mexico, some have wondered what it is like to live in another country....dope!


Anyway, this is a great 50 minute trip from Las Cruces or 20 minute trip from Alamogordo, New Mexico. This is always a place we loved to go all growing up. As we were teenagers, it was a popular spot on full moon nights! Speaking of, how was everyone's half moon Friday the 13th?! I am not superstitious, but thankfully I did not have to work! Anyway....

If you ever find yourself traveling through southern New Mexico, White Sands is a must stop!


The great white dunes are created of gypsum and are endless amounts of fun! The park is easy to drive through. Of course you can stop and slide down the dunes (the sand is super soft), have a picnic, or watch the moon shine against vast whiteness.


Nature, well done!

May 13, 2016

Chicken Guacamole Sliders

It's time! The weather is getting hot! Tuscon can be pretty unbearable during the summer. I really need to pull my act together and plan some summer outings. Maybe some cooler parts of Arizona will finally be explored this summer!

What definitely will happen this summer is lots of grilling chicken! This chicken recipe is a sure plan because it is easy and tasty. It represents the epitome of summer cooking. It is light and fresh!

I prepare it without bread as seen below, but for friends and my husband, I make it with slider rolls for a versatile meal!



Ingredients:

2 flattened/thin chicken breasts
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons of lime juice
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
slider buns
lauren's guacamole (and just add some chopped cilantro)

Directions:

Prepare the chicken in a marinade by mixing together cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Make my favorite guacamole while the chicken is marinating and just add some chopped cilantro to it.

Then preheat the grill and grill the chicken breasts until cooked. Cut each chicken breast in half. Place chicken with heaping amount of guacamole onto a slider bun and enjoy! Makes four sliders!


What is your favorite summer recipe?
What are your summer plans?

May 11, 2016

Panda Express Copy Cat Sweet Fire Chicken

Panda Express is an easy out for me when I don't want to make dinner. I still find it easier and cheaper than any of those meal prep services.

But if you have the will power, you can make it at home and with the help of your slow cooker, it hardly takes any time at all!

Plus this way I only make one thing instead of going to the Panda Express counter trying to decide between all the choices. But since it is usually the sweet fire chicken and the sweet and sour chicken that I usually go for, I have my at home ways!



Ingredients:

3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 can of pineapple chunks, drained

Sauce:
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon of red chili powder
4 tablespoons of cold water and 4 tablespoons of corn starch

Directions:

Place cubed chicken, chopped bell pepper, and can of drained pineapple into slow cooker.

In a medium bowl, mix garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, water, red chili powder, honey, and salt. Reserve water and corn starch for later.

Pour sauce into slow cooker and stir. Cover and cook for 4 hours on low.

Mix cold water and corn starch in bowl and then pour and mix into slow cooker mixture. Set slow cooker on high for 30 minutes.

Serve over rice or noodles and enjoy!


What are your favorite choices for Chinese food?

May 9, 2016

I Want To Be Like My Mother

Mother's Day was Sunday! My mom is very creative in many ways. I feel it has rubbed off on my sisters and I as we feel great satisfaction in creating. My mother can change a room like nobody's business. She kept our house always tastefully decorated with sometimes very little to work with. I still love her style and ability to create a feeling in a room.

I also love that she was a stay at home mom. She cleaned up, made meals, did laundry, shopping, etc..She served her family directly every day. Thinking of her working so hard for us makes me think of how one day I can serve my family and be grateful for the opportunity to become a mother.

My mom sacrificed many things for us her three amazing daughters.

I was always the dramatic, focused on the emotional one of my sisters. I learned quickly that I needed to adapt to model after my mother. Each moment is quickly here and gone, for better or worse. It won't last forever and dwelling on it won't always help. She was a role model to express the right amount of looking back on memories with fondness and having an appreciation and love for the present.

All and all a mom is different to everyone. For me my mom is someone who exemplified strength, sacrifice, perspective, intention, peace, dedication, and love for where she put her attention and energy. This is the greatest way that my mother has influenced me...by example.

I saw this thing on Pinterest where some guys recreated old pictures and well, I decided to do just that for my mom with the help of my sisters!

Here was how some of it turned out:





Happy Mother's Day Mom! Wish I could have been there with you!


May 6, 2016

Lauren's Lasagna

Okay, so this recipe should be more like "Lauren Makes Kevin Lasagna." Seeing as I am on a diet, Lasagna is not so diet friendly. Just because I need to drop a few pounds doesn't mean though that Kevin has to suffer.

Best of all, I can make and assemble this recipe, pop it in the fridge, and Kevin can pull it out on a night I am working. I think it beats cereal...#mealprepforthewin!




Ingredients:

Sauce:
1 roll of sausage
3 tablespoons of garlic powder
1 12 ounce can of tomato paste
1 1/2-2 tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons of dry basil
1 heaping teaspoon of sugar
5 cups of water

Lasagna:
Lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions
15 ounces of ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons of dry parsley
1 egg
shredded mozzarella, to taste (bonus for some sliced fresh mozzerella on top of the lasagna!)
Parmesan cheese, to taste

Directions:

For the sauce, brown your sausage and drain. Then in a stock pot, add all ingredients and let simmer, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, stir together ricotta, egg, and parsley.

Spread a layer of sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 pan. Cover with a layer of noodles. Spread some of ricotta mixture on top of noodles then add a little bit of sauce and mozzarella cheese and continue to layer noodles and aforementioned mixtures. Once to the top with mozzarella showing, add a layer of Parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

May 4, 2016

Happy Nurse's Week: A Thank You Letter to You

Dear nurses,

You get in the car and drive to work with no way to predict the course of your day or night. You just know you have 12.5 hours ahead of you and hope you are ready. You hope to have any semblance of a lunch and if you are really lucky it will be uninterrupted and a full 30 minutes. You really don't know what awaits you.

Within the first hour, you have already dealt with an angry patient, you have cleaned up some poop and you have two doctors wanting to talk to you at exactly the same time. If any one has a degree in multi-tasking, it is a nurse.

One mile here. Another mile there. No wonder your legs and feet ache by the time you get home. You sit for an average of two minutes at a time before someone needs something from you.

Your patience will be less and less as the say goes on. People need you all too often for something they could easily do themselves. Hopefully someone doesn't have a change of condition right at change of shift. You are tired and smelly and go home and try not to think about your day and project your lack of patience at this point on those at home. Then, you do it all again tomorrow.
source unknown

You give every ounce of energy doing chest compressions while trying to figure out which screaming doctor is actually running this code. You calculate and titrate, keeping a million complicated thoughts organized at once. 

You see people who are doing everything right with their life and their health and bad things happen to them. When you go home completely wrecked after a heart wrenching day you squeeze your spouse tightly and are glad for your health and another day on this beautiful earth.

You see people who think you are out to get them and want immediate fixes for their health without them being proactive at all. Yeah, they want a smoke and their tox screen shows alcohol, marijuana, and meth...

You have a list of nurses on your unit that could take care of you should you be in the hospital. 

That is a short list of what happens in our days. So you may be asking and sometimes we ask ourselves...why do we do it? Why do we subject ourselves to derogatory slurs, poop, blood, and vomit...among other things? Why do we answer the phone at 3 am and decide to come in on your day off, so that everyone else’s day is less horrible? Why do we tolerate the accusations of crazy family members or try to accommodate the overwhelming requests of a resident with a new admission? We just add it to the list of things to do today.

You care and so you do it. For the patients that can and can't pay for it. The patients who thank you and don't thank you for it. You do it because you cannot not do it. You are a nurse.

I am saying thank you to you. Thank you for being a nurse. Happy Nurse's Week!


Oh and Happy Cinco De Mayo tomorrow!
Here are some great Cinco De Mayo recipe ideas for ya!

May 2, 2016

Nurse Hacks

This week is Nurse's Week! In honor of Nurse's Week, I thought I would share some of my favorite nursing hacks. Just some tricks and tips that make a task easier! I have shared things I have learned, but these are a little more pragmatic for those who are entering the nursing profession.



Triple glove during a code brown.
Code Browns are extremely messy situations. By double or triple gloving you can ensure you do not waste time getting new gloves so that you don't get all the feces on clean sheets or anywhere else during the changing process.

Use lotion for stuck on poop.
Sometimes you can't get all the poop off of a patient. Put some lotion on your wipe and usually it will help with that!

Soak a nasogastric or dobhoff tube in ice before insertion.
It will help the unpleasant feeling for the patient and will make for easier insertion for you. Soak it in ice or in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

Trendelenburg your difficult foley patient.
Can't get a foley in a particularly (most often female) patient? Try putting the patient in trendelenburg position and let gravity help you out!

Double insert a foley on your difficult female patient.
Speaking of those difficult female foley patients, if you don't get your first foley in, leave it where it is and insert your new one higher to help you from missing the urethral opening again.

Put a warm washcloth on a difficult IV insertion site.
A warm wash cloth will help dilate the blood vessels to help pick a good vein for an IV.

Glove your stethoscope.
When you are in an isolation room, put a glove over the diaphragm and listen!

Use a syringe for your liquid medications.
It will really help you not spill your liquid medications when giving them to your patients.


Need more nursey posts? Try these:
Common Questions Asked To Nurses
How to Address Palliative Care
Dangerous Drug Interactions
Working Holidays and Working Holiday Wishes
Why it is Good to Marry a Nurse and Why it is Hard to be Married to a Nurse


What are some of your favorite nursey tips and tricks?
Happy Nurse's Week!

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