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Archive for September, 2011

Where were you?

“Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?” ~ Alan Jackson

It’s amazing how 10 years can pass and yet you remember it like it was yesterday.  Everyone has a story to tell about their experience on 9/11/01.  This is my story…

I was a junior at Clemson working as an RA in Johnstone A.  It was an almost entirely freshman residence hall so I was responsible for a floor of about 50 freshman girls.  And I loved my job.  They were “my girls” and I would do anything for them.  I was there for them through deaths, failing classes and breakups.  From the trivial roommate disagreements to sexual assault and alcohol poisoning, it was a stressful, exhausting job but yet I look back on those years with such fond memories.  We had so much fun and I definitely gained some very close friendships from those years.  I supported “my girls” through the good and bad and they, in turn, did the same for me.

I awoke the morning of 9/11 not knowing that the day was going to be anything out of the ordinary.  But being an RA, you learned to expect the unexpected and to recognize when things didn’t seem quite right.  As soon as I walked out of my room, I knew that things on my hall weren’t quite right.  It was usually quiet in the mornings.  Girls got up just in time to get dressed and head to class.  There were rarely radios or TVs on this early in the morning but today I could hear lots of them.  I walked to the front desk where Kelley, a fellow RA, was working and had the radio on to a news broadcast.  She broke the news to me. 

I was shocked.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  A terrorist attack?  Really?  Those happened in the movies and overseas, not here.  I went back to my room and turned on the news.  I remember immediately feeling relieved that I knew my family was ok.  No one in my family lived in NY or worked at the Pentagon and no one was flying that day so I knew they were all safe before I even got in touch with them.  So my immediate concern turned to “my girls”.   I knew many of them would be upset and scared.

I can’t remember if I went to class that day but if I had to guess, I would think that I didn’t.  I wanted to stay close to the hall and be there for my girls.  I remember sitting in my room with the door open (I told my girls that my door was always open if they needed me and it literally almost always was) and I saw a girl named Katie walk by.  She didn’t live on my hall but she was good friends with a number of my girls so I knew her.  She looked upset as she walked past so I went out in the hallway to see if she was ok. 

I watched her walk down the hallway to her friends’ room but they weren’t there and as she turned to walk back, I could see that she looked very distressed.  I invited her to come in and talk and I remember the two of us sitting on my bed as she cried telling me that a family member worked in the Pentagon and she couldn’t reach anyone in the family to find out if the person was ok.  There was nothing I could say that would change the situation or help her get in touch with her family.  All I could do was be a shoulder to cry on and let her know that no matter what the outcome, we would be there to support her.   

9/11 was a tragic day.  Too many people died that day and I pray for those families who lost loved ones.  I’m sure today brings back so many painful emotions for them.  For me, what I remember most is the support we saw that day.  It didn’t matter who was friends with who.  Everyone joined together and comforted each other.   I am reminded of the tremendous courage we saw that day as well and think about all the heroes that emerged.  Sadly many of those heroes even lost their lives.  It was certainly a day we won’t forget.

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My weekend in the kitchen

 

Coincidentally, I have had 3 friends all tell me this past week about their efforts to lose weight.  They are working with personal trainers, getting up extra early to workout, changing their eating habits and mobilizing their loved ones to support their efforts.  I am so proud of these ladies.  They are making healthy choices, going outside of their comfort zone, sacrificing, putting themselves first and taking care of their bodies.  They inspire me with their determination and hard work.  I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.

 

Eating healthy requires some planning and some time spent in the kitchen.  And I love all that planning.  If only I had the time for it every single weekend like I did this weekend.  I love long holidays weekends like this because it gives me plenty of time to search for new recipes and then spend lots of time in the kitchen whipping up all sorts of yummy, healthy dishes.  

This time of year, when it starts to get cool, I love making oatmeal in my crock pot.  Oatmeal is such a great blank canvas.  It never gets boring.  I make mine with steel-cut oats, water, skim milk and whatever fruits and spices I decide to add.  The fruit adds enough sweetness that it doesn’t need any sugar, in my opinion.

I found a recipe this weekend for a carrot cake oatmeal and just had to try it.  Shredded carrots, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and dried pineapple.  Yum!  The carrots didn’t get quite as soft as I would have liked.  I may pre-cook them a little next time.  But when I reheat it in the morning, they will soften up a little more.  To serve, I’ll a little more milk and top it with a few pecans for some crunch.  Wishing I had a little unsweetened coconut to add as well. 

Today, I have the crock pot working hard again.  I found a recipe for balsamic chicken and decided that would be delicious if I substituted the gorgeous boneless pork tenderloin I bought at the farmer’s market on Saturday.  I seasoned the pork with rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme.  It’s cooking with balsamic vinegar, sliced onions, minced garlic and lots of chopped heirloom tomatoes (recipe called for canned but thought fresh would be better) and it smells delicious already.  I’m planning to serve it with some roasted summer squash and bell pepper.

I also have some fish in the freezer that I am going to bake for dinner later this week.  One of my favorite vendors at the farmer’s market was selling fresh peach salsa she had made so I bought some to put on top of the fish.  I’ll serve that with some beautiful sautéed rainbow chard and leeks.

Lunch may end up being leftovers for the next few days.  I was planning to make tuna in a red pepper and artichoke tapenade served in a halved avocado (I’ve become obsessed with avocado recently) but the avocados are going to take a few days to ripen so I may just have leftover ratatouille that I made in the crock pot earlier this week along with some herbed white beans.

Sounds like a great week ahead to me!  Unfortunately two days of it will be spent in a hotel for a training so I am hoping they offer us some good, healthy choices.  Some people’s definitions of “healthy” leave a lot to be desired.

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Things I wish…

On a morning radio show recently, they were asking people to call in and share one thing they wish they could change about themselves and one thing they would never change.  It got me thinking so I started creating a few of my own “wish lists”.  Nothing deep here, just some casual thoughts.

Things I wish I could do…

  • Take a really good photo.  I love photography.  I love looking at photos and taking them.  I just wish I had that creative eye to take really amazing pictures.  Of course, that would first require me to actually know something about photography and to own a decent camera.
  • Sing and dance well.  I love Broadway musicals…Enough said.
  • Decorate.  I look at pictures in magazines or visit others homes and see these beautifully decorated, perfectly coordinated rooms that I love.  I just don’t have that ability to look at a “blank canvas” and envision what it could become.
  • Be spontaneous and carefree.  I’m a planner and a very responsible person.  And I absolutely think that’s a good thing.  But I do wish I could occasionally break out of that mold and “live on the wild side”.

Things I would never want to give up…

  • My cooking/baking abilities.  I love being in the kitchen.  I love everything about cooking: from searching for the recipe, to shopping for the perfect ingredients, to putting those ingredients together and savoring the results of my hard work.  And I love sharing this talent with others, whether it is cooking dinner for friends or teaching a family member how to cook.
  • My caring nature.  I’m quite certain that this trait gets overused sometimes and I probably drive my friends crazy caring too much from time to time.  But life experience has taught me to never miss out on an opportunity to tell your loved ones what they mean to you.  So, if I drive my friends crazy by reminding them too often how important they are to me or checking on them too frequently when I know they are struggling, I’m ok with them being annoyed with me for that.

Once I got started on this, more lists kept coming to mind that I could create.  So here’s one more for now:

Things I wish I had the money for…

I’m not taking about if I hit the lottery and became a millionaire.  I’m just talking about if I had some extra money in my budget right now, what would I want to use it for.

  • To support all the charities that are doing such amazing work.  There are so many great people out there doing great things.  And there are several charities that I just really love and wish I could financially support.
  • To take yoga classes.  A year or two ago, I decided on a whim to take a 6 week beginner yoga class.  I am not flexible at all and fully expected to not like the class but I thought it would be good for stress relief so I tried it.  It turned out that I absolutely loved it and my instructor told me I was a natural.  I would love to take classes regularly.
  • To redo my kitchen.  When I bought my condo, I was lucky that there was very little work that HAD to be done.  A fresh coat of paint was really all it required.  But there was one project that I immediately decided I wanted to do.  I wanted to do a partial remodel of my kitchen: granite countertops, a new sink and a tile back splash.  Almost 2 years later, that is still a dream of mine.  It just never seems to fit in the budget.
  • Hire a cleaning person.  My job can be very demanding.  There are many weeks when I feel like I am only home long enough to sleep.  It would be such a wonderful luxury to spend that small amount of free time I have just doing things I love instead of having to devote some of that time to cleaning.
  • Take vacations with friends.  There are friends that live far away that I would love to go spend time with.  There are friends close by that I would love to jump in the car with and travel to places I’ve never been.

Or maybe just drive a few hours away and sit and enjoy this view.  I’m not picky. 🙂

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