Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pancakes and Orange Mittens

When I was growing up, pancakes were not one of my favorite meals, for some reason. Now, I love them, especially when they've been perked up with apples or pumpkin or other yummy add-ins. Tonight I decided to make pancakes for supper. I had some leftover chocolate chips and walnuts from the cookies I made a couple weeks ago. So I added those to the batter along with a few sprinkles of cinnamon. They were delicious, and the perfect fall meal.

This week I completed a couple more knitting projects. First, I wanted to make something to match the orange hat. I found a pattern for little newborn mittens and gave them a try. I added a cream stripe around the cuff and then decided to add a cream pom pom to the hat to make a coordinating set. Ryan liked the mittens so much, he asked me to make him a pair. I'll probably make his with thumbs, though.

I tried my first sweater this week. It's an adorable pattern for a baby cardigan with a v-neck. The first time I started it, I miscounted the stitches about a quarter of the way into it. So I ripped it out. While I did that, though, I noticed that the sweater seemed to be extremely small - as in maybe it would fit a doll. I checked my yarn and needles and everything matched the pattern. But for some reason when I knit it, it comes out much smaller. Sometimes you can adjust for that by increasing the needle size, but with the particular yarn I had chosen, it made the fabric too loose. So I gave up on the sweater until I can find different yarn.

Instead, I made a cute pair of gray shoes to match the beret from a few weeks ago. I'll post a picture once I sew on the buttons. I've also started a pair of lacy pink booties, so we'll see how those turn out as well.

I think having such a fun hobby really does make the time go by faster. We'll be home for Christmas in just a little over 2 months! I'm looking forward to stocking up on yarn and buttons and all kinds of fun things while we're there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Life of a Medical Student

So maybe you've been wondering how Ryan is doing in his first semester of medical school. Aside from putting up with my cooking experiments and giving me advice on what I should knit next, he keeps himself quite busy with his studies. He spends more hours in class or the library than he ever thought possible.

He has four classes this semester - Anatomy (8 credits), Biochemistry (5 credits), Histology (4 credits), and Bioethics (1 credit). Anatomy probably comes the easiest for him. Although, with his biology degree, he does well in any science class. Histology and Anatomy both require many hours in the lab, either looking at disected cadavers or slides of microscopic cells.

On a typical day, he begins by having class from 8am-12pm. He'll come back home for lunch and a quick nap shortly after 12:00, but leaves again around 12:45. The next round of classes are from 1-5. I try to have dinner ready for him right at 5:00. After dinner he either goes for a run or works out. Then it's off to the library to study until at least 11:00pm (usually closer to 12am). On the weekends, he spends most of his time in the library. Now that college football has started, he picks one game a week (usually Clemson) that he'll watch. But other than that, it's study, study, study! Here's a picture of the library on campus. At least he has a nice view while he's memorizing every muscle and nerve in the body!

This semester has made us even more thankful to be living on campus. Ryan can walk from our apartment to his classroom in about 5 minutes. This allows him to make the most of his time without having to wait for a bus to take him home or waste time traveling. The Lord has been so good in giving us such a convenient place to live that also gives Ryan the best chance of doing well in his classes.

A couple weeks ago, he had the first quiz of the semester. It was a combined quiz for Anatomy, Biochemistry, and Histology. There were 25 questions for each subject, and it is worth only about 5% of his overall grade. The purpose of this quiz is to give the students an opportunity to see if their current study habits are effective. You can actually fail the quiz, and still make an A in the class, so it's not too important grade-wise. It is helpful to see if you have an understanding of the information so far, though. Just a few days ago, Ryan found out his grade for the quiz; Anatomy - B+, Biochemistry - A, Histology - B+. We were extremely pleased with those results, especially considering a lot of his friends were just happy they passed. He is definitely on the right track for the rest of the semester!

On Monday, he had his final exam for Bioethics. Since it was just a 1-credit class, the final exam came early in the semester, and now he is finished with that class. Historically, this class has been somewhat difficult. Not only because of the subjective material, but also because the professor feels that students don't take her class seriously. Many students that have gone on to make all A's in medical school get a B or C in this class. Ryan spent most of the weekend studying for the test, and this evening the grades were posted. The average for the class was an 82%, but Ryan made a 97%!

In less than two weeks, Ryan will have his midterm exams for his three main classes. This will be about 50% of his overall grade and cover about 30 lectures-worth of material for each class. I know he'd appreciate your prayers October 4-8.

I am so proud of him and glad to see his hard work paying off in a big way! It's definitely clear that this is what he was meant to do, and the Lord has gifted him in this area. Ryan is just happy to be doing something he loves!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Grandma's Pineapple Casserole

For as long as I can remember, my mom, aunts, and Grandma have all made this amazing pineapple casserole at family dinners. It's always been one of my favorites. So while I was home this past August, I collected several of our family recipes to try down here in Grenada. I doubt I'll ever come close to duplicating the perfection of the wonderful cooks in my family, but I figured I should start practicing so I can pass some of these recipes down to my kids some day.

The casserole was surprisingly quick to assemble and used items I already had on hand. I cut the recipe in half, and it made just the right amount for the two of us. Of course, ham and pineapple is a match made in heaven, so I bought a ham for the first time down here. It wasn't actually a whole ham like I'm used to, but rather a large slice of ham in a package. I didn't even know you could buy ham like that. Following the instructions on the package, I cooked it in a large pan on the stove for about 4 minutes on each side. It actually turned out okay, and was a nice complement to the pineapple casserole. I had some feta cheese left over from earlier in the week, so I also made a salad with romaine lettuce, pear slices, celery, feta cheese, toasted walnuts, and balsamic vinegar.

Grandma's Pineapple Casserole
2 cans (20 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained (save juice)
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons pineapple juice
1 stick butter, melted
1 stack Ritz cracker crumbs
2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese

Place pineapple in baking dish. Combine sugar, flour, and pineapple juice. Pour over pineapples. Top with cheese and then cracker crumbs. Pour melted butter evenly over crumbs. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and brown.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Recipe: Feta Zucchini Pancakes

This was scheduled to be my new recipe for last week, but the grocery store did not cooperate. For some reason, they didn't have zucchini for the last three weeks. So I have two new recipes to try this week. Last night was feta zucchini pancakes. I've always loved zucchini pancakes, but this jazzed-up version is something special. After the first bite, Ryan proclaimed it a winner and asked that it be put on the regular schedule. They are full of flavor and definitely one of my new favorite ways to cook zucchini!

The recipe was super simple and very quick to make. I paired it with a couple sirloin steaks, roasted potatoes, and corn for a dinner to celebrate the completion of Ryan's first big quiz of the semester.

Feta Zucchini Pancakes
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 green onions, chopped
1 egg
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
olive oil

In a sieve or colandar, drain zucchini to remove excess liquid. Pat dry. In a small bowl, combine the zucchini, bread crumbs, onions, egg, parsley, dill, and cheese. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons into hot oil; press lightly to flatten. Fry in batches until golden brown on both sides.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Tribute to Fall

Sunny skies, beautiful beaches, 80 degree weather . . . reminds you of fall, right? I think out of all the seasons, I miss being home for fall the most. Here in the Caribbean, it just isn't the same. Although, today it rained all day which made it rather cool outside. I guess that's the closest I'll get to autumnal weather. And even though it's technically not fall for another 11 days, in our house football season = fall!

So today I made a large pot of chili and a pan of homemade cornbread for dinner. And even though I'll be watching the football game alone while my diligent husband studies biochemistry and anatomy, it now feels like fall. I even decorated my blog for the season!

If you are lucky enough to be celebrating fall this year, wear a warm sweater and drink a pumpkin spice latte for me!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meeting New Friends

On Friday night, Ryan and I went out for dinner with a couple we met over the internet! They are from Chicago and spent Labor Day weekend vacationing here in Grenada. She found my blog while searching for things to do in the area, so we emailed back and forth for a couple weeks prior to their visit. I shared with her some of our favorite restaurants, beaches, and excursions on the island. I knew immediately that we would get along well as we had a lot in common. They were kind enough to take an evening out of their vacation and meet us at Rick's for pizza and ice cream.

We had so much fun that night getting to know them and ended up talking for a couple hours. I'm just sad they live so far away! But Ryan and I have always wanted to visit Chicago, and now we have a little extra motivation to take a trip up that way.

It's funny how living in Grenada gave us the chance to meet someone from "back home." You never know where you'll meet a new friend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

In the Dark

Today has provided several new experiences for me. This afternoon, we had one of the worst thunderstorms I've ever experienced. The rain was coming down in sheets, the wind whipped through the trees, and the thunder was so strong that our doors shook. As the storm was ending, I heard a siren going off somewhere on campus. I had no idea what it was signaling (and still don't) but as I didn't see people running down the street or hear anything else alarming, I ignored it, and eventually it stopped.

A couple minutes later I noticed a lizard climbing up the wall next to our kitchen window. As Ryan was still in class, and I wasn't about to touch it, I decided to keep an eye on the little creature so I could point him out to Ryan when he got home. I watched it for a few minutes before it disappeared into a crack between the top of the wall and the ceiling. At first I was just glad it was gone. Then it occurred to me that if it could disappear in that direction, it could just as easily reappear at any time. Not a comforting thought! But so far I haven't seen him or any other members of his family.

Not that I would be able to see anything right now anyway, because we've been without power and water for about half an hour now. Our room is pitch black, although the little candle I lit provides a small glow in the center of the room. I turned down the brightness on my computer screen where I'm watching the Patriots game to make it last as long as possible. And I just realized how warm it is at 8:00 at night without air conditioning!

Hopefully they'll fix the problem soon so we can sleep comfortably, and I can see if we have any more lizard visitors! But in the meantime, I'm just thankful that this is temporary, and that the Lord provides not only our needs, but also the "extras" we take for granted, like electricity, running water, and air conditioning. We are very blessed!

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