31 August 2011


The best darn cinnamon rolls you could ever consume is what! My good friend Melissa made these rolls like she owned a bakery when we were at BYU-Idaho. They were so delicious and she always had plenty to share.

When I saw on the mutual activity calendar at church that I was in charge of teaching a cinnamon roll class, I was a bit nervous. I don't own a cinnamon roll recipe myself. I don't think I'd even ever made them from scratch! This was an event that had been scheduled by the woman who had my calling just before me. Luckily I knew who to turn to and decided I would still put on the activity.

You wouldn't BELIEVE how easy this recipe is! I expected it to take twice the amount of time, especially for the dough to rise. Nope! Simple. To boot, it made two large pans of large yummy cinnamon rolls! No wonder Mel always had extra. My plan was to test out the recipe before the activity to make sure I could teach it to teenagers. We had SO many rolls from my test run that Scott and I couldn't eat them all! We shared them with all the LDS families in Lebanon that we knew in med school! All of them! The other thing I love about this recipe is it seems very food storage friendly. It uses yeast, regular flour, powdered milk, and potatoe flakes. I would venture a guess that the powdered butter and powdered eggs that come in food storage packets would work well in this recipe too.

I highly recommend you visit Melissa's site for the recipe. She posted it per my request! Thanks, Mel!!

29 August 2011

Cutest Garden in the Complex

I warned you that I was trying to have a green thumb this summer. My garden plot has been slowly growing, with new vegetables and taller sprouts. When my parents were in town for Scott's white coat ceremony they helped me build a trellis with inexpensive garage sale finds like fishing line, rebar, and plastic picture frames. My garden is seriously the cutest plot in Cascade Ridge, though surely not the most productive. Still figuring out where plants like to be for optimal light and water. I like to visit my plot and check on my plants. Maybe some day I'll sing to them and see if that helps!

My basil has grown so well that there really isn't any work involved except harvesting it regularly.

I made my own pesto a few weeks ago, and now it seems that I can't cut the basil fast enough. I could be whipping up pesto every other day, which is convenient because pesto is Scott's new favorite thing. In fact, he calls basil, pesto. "Oh, you're going to go cut the pesto." Yeah, hon. Just for you. Scott puts pesto on everything like my dad used to put salsa on every meal!

My newest green thumb quandary: how do you keep seeds when the season's over?

26 August 2011

Project “Find Yourself”

Have you ever found yourself watching mindless television programs that seem to be a complete waste of time, but you can’t pull yourself away. I try to avoid Toddlers + Tiaras for that very reason. Throughout the episode, I can’t help but gawk at the monstrously expensive glam gowns, coaching time, and attitudes of these babies. I shake my head throughout the entire episode at their tantrums and their obliging mothers, but can’t seem to get myself to push the power button until the credits roll. Thus I attempt to avoid shows like T+T that add no value to my life.

Most television today has only one purpose - entertainment. The Office is one of the shows I watch that probably fits into this category. Lately, I’ve had only a couple hours per week of discretionary time on my hands. So in order to justify watching an hour of television, not only do I use the DVR to eliminate commercials, but in some cases I make that time into a personal counseling session.

Take, for example, The Glee Project, which I started watching mid- summer. As I have admitted before, I am a Glee viewer and will probably continue to be until my discomfort with show themes becomes greater than the value of their music. Only a business major would resort to television economics! Anyway, this summer, when I was job searching, I set up the DVR to program new episodes of SYTYCD (Yay, Melanie), Drop Dead Diva, Lark Rise to Candleford, and Glee. Or so I thought… What actually began recording was The Glee Project on Oxygen.

The Glee Project is a reality contest where a group of teens sing and dance in competition for a guest role on the next season of Glee. Like Glee, the Project is pretty mindless entertainment with good singing and controversial issues interspersed. I watched a few episodes. Contestants were eliminated one by one, chosen to leave the competition by the director Ryan Murphy after he analyzed whether he could write for their voice/personality/body type/religion/sexual orientation. (Side note: if you don’t like Glee, there is a direct correlation to your potential dislike of Ryan Murphy.) As Mr. Murphy analyzed each singer, he would encourage them to figure out who they really were and then show him more of that person. Often I noticed that the singers, who obviously REALLY wanted to be on Glee and further their careers in doing so, would aim to please and readily morph into what/who they thought the directors wanted them to be.

Then Episode 7 happened. Contestant Cameron Mitchell is known for his song writing and guitar playing abilities. He rocks a suspenders/round glasses/bed head nerd look and sings like Chris Martin or an alternative Jamie Collum. In episode seven, Cameron was selected to be in the bottom three and perform for Mr. Murphy. He had struggled through the weeks in trying to be a competitive force to reckon with while still being true to himself and his religious beliefs. Cameron had chosen not to take some of the director’s notes, and because of the identity v. Glee struggle you could tell that he was less invested in his acting. By the end of his last chance performance for Mr. Murphy, Cameron admitted tearfully that Glee probably wasn’t for him. I hope I was not the only one who clapped for joy with Cameron’s discovery! He’s a born musician and will have a very successful career, but not with Glee. That just wasn’t a cohesive relationship! Mr. Murphy was disappointed with Cameron's loss because he felt like Cameron's personality and beliefs were not represented on the show and needed to be written. I have the greatest respect for Cameron’s decision.

So I thought: if I stood in front of Ryan Murphy and he asked me what made me unique, what would I say? A long internal struggle ensued, where I debated whether or not I would stand out in a crowd of talented people. Have I made a compelling story of my life? Do I live boldly and courageously? I'll spare you the whole conversation...

Conclusion: There are many things about me that make my story different and, dare I say, fascinating. Because of how I present myself I don't think I stand out in a crowd, nor do I feel as courageous and bold as I wish I were, especially surrounding my spirituality. Which is probably why Cameron's choice and self-awareness was so compelling. I think there's something so attractive about being confident in who you are, who you've become. It's definitely a value I'd like to develop, so I'm now collecting inspirational role models. Any suggestions?

24 August 2011

Business Beaver

When I first began at the foundation, I realized that they offered a particularly fantastic tuition benefit. I investigated and found that the foundation would pay most of the tuition and fees for seven credits each semester for full-time employees taking OSU classes. I have been pretty satisfied with my MBA experience with UMass, but I figured it didn't hurt to check out OSU and see if it was logistically feasible for me to transfer.

Oregon State University has a pretty new MBA program, and while they don't currently offer classes online they do offer on campus courses in the morning and in the evening. Actually, only one core class is offered each day, once in the moring and once again in the evening. Not a lot of flexibility in scheduling, but students have the option to fast track through the program in 9 months. The program and faculty pride themselves on their integrated business projects, which gives student the opportunity to work on real entrepreneurial initiatives in order to finish their degree at OSU. To prepare for this capstone type experience, MBA students take a series of foundational management classes that were fairly similar to those I was planning to take through UMass -Amherst.

I had chosen UMass' program a year ago when I applied because it is online, allowing me to finish wherever med school took our family, and it is a good fit for my career ambitions, providing a broad overview of management skills with no particular emphasis. That meant I could apply the skills to whatever non-profit organization I choose to join in the future. The program at UMass also allowed great flexibility in class scheduling and completing my degree. All core classes were offered each semester, classwork could be finished at any point throughout the week (though some professors were more lineant with their assignment due dates than others), and there was no limit to how long you stayed in the program. I had planned to finish my degree by December 2012. I had taken four classes (12 credits) through the UMass online MBA program, and when I checked with OSU advisors most if not all of those credits would transfer and be applied to their program.

I applied to OSU (didn't hurt to try) and was accepted! So I had a choice to make, and it was quite the conundrum for a couple weeks. To be an OSU Beaver, or not to be? In the end, I couldn't turn down the amazing benefit of taking classes in an on-campus environment and, of course, there was the financial benefit! I also think taking classes on campus will help to keep me focused on finishing while my husband is busy studying medicine. Starting in September, I am a Business Beaver! I will finish the program in two years (fingers-crossed and stars aligned) taking two classes in the evening per term. Wish me luck!

22 August 2011

Original Mo's - Newport

We visited the Original Mo's restaurant on the boardwalk in Newport at the beginning of August. It was a beautiful day and windows (read: garage doors) were open to let in the fresh air. We actually read in the menu that Mo's put in garage doors after a woman accidentally put her car in drive instead of reverse, and ended up in the restaurant front after a particularly filling meal. As the story goes, the owner put her arm around the woman and said, Don't worry! We'll just put in a garage door here so you can drive in whenever you want.
The Nelson's had recommended we visit Mo's on our trip to Newport, as they had visited before and had enjoyed every bite. Mo's is a family owned restaurant, a classic beach side fish and cowder joint. The restaurant is a nice, clean place and is pretty popular. We had to wait ten minutes before we were seated, but we arrived before the dinner rush. We were seated at the front of the restaurant, right under the garage door opening. So we got to watch the crowds enjoying their touristy walk and waiting for their turn at a table.

It was a perfect addition to our trip to the boardwalk! Scott and I shared (yes, we share almost everything) the fish and chips, which came with a cup of Mo's famous chowder.

I loved that the chowder came with a great, big slice of homemade bread! Delicious!

The fish (Alaskan Cod) was pretty good, though I'm still searching for a tarter sauce as good as my own.
The best treat of all, though, was Mo's marionberry cobbler topped with three scoops of vanilla ice cream! Oh, I am salivating just thinking of it. Of course, it was gone before I had a chance to even think about a picture.
My best advice - Share a meal at Mo's so you can heartily enjoy their homemade desserts!

19 August 2011

Newport with New Friends

Our first Saturday after orientation week for Scott, The Brinkerhoff's invited a group of LDS med student families to the beach! We knew this would be a great opportunitity to meet the people we are spending the next four years with, as well as enjoy Newport in the summer sun.

We met everyone in Newport and decided to head to Agate Beach, which is about a mile north from the beach point Scott and I visited on our first trip to Newport this summer. I HIGHLY recommend Agate Beach! Our first trip to Newport was cold and windy and we stopped at the first beach off of Hwy 20. Agate Beach had fewer crowds, warm water (surprisingly), very little wind, and beautiful, fine sand. There's a great parking spot by Roby's Furniture Store on North Coast Highway (101), right infront of Lucky Gap Trail that leads down to the beach.

For some reason, even though we were going to the beach, we had this aversion to sand. Didn't really want to get sand in our shoes or step in water if we weren't planning on it. We also had completely forgotten to bring a towel or beach blanket. Obviously, we don't go to the beach enough!

Meet the Nelsons! We picked up Morgan and Chase in Albany and they had to suffer through our stories, music choices, and Scott's cell phone calls on the ride to and from Newport. They came to Western University COMP-NW from Lehi, Utah.

Then of course, you may already know the Brinkerhoffs. Jarden, Maren, Eva, and Elijah have been buddies of mine since we first moved to Oregon in May. They hail from the Portland area, and actually Jared was a chiropractor before deciding to apply for med school.

We were also joined by Burrs. Devin and Megan also moved to Oregon from Utah for med school. They brough with them 5 month old S.J... our future hero!

Was it not a gorgeous day to be at the beach! I LOVED it! I loved the sand between my toes and how warm it was to sit on. I loved the smell of the ocean. Conveniently, the sun was shining on our stretch of the beach! I kept saying, "I am in love with this beach right now." Then we decided to go to a boardwalk storefront that we've never visited before, and I switched my phrase to, "I am in love with Newport right now!" It was a seriously great summer day to be at the beach!

Down at the boardwalk, we saw a bunch of sea lions. I mostly assume that they were sea lions because of their "bark." But I think seals are actually the more common pinniped in Newport.

It was a fantastic last day of freedom for Scott and I! Scott started classes August 8 and we've been having discussions since then about prioritzing our time, daily chores to make our home run more smoothly, and how we are going to fit in more time to see and talk with each other.  Our schedules are busy! Scott is busy studying and doing some pre-class study for more difficult lessons in the future. He also fits in basketball and friend time. I have Young Women's activities and planning, couponing, errands, work + commute, and school. But I'll talk more about that later! For now we'll just enjoy the awesome weekend we had!

17 August 2011

Et Cetera Thrift Shop - Lebanon

Main Street in downtown Lebanon, Oregon is one of the best places to shop thrifty. There's one section of Main that I'm particularly fond of and frequent once a week (or at least I did while Scott was away). Between Grant St and Maple St there are three stores that sell used goods: Et Cetera Shop (sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee), Teen Challenege Thrift Store, and Buyers Market. Et Cetera is by far my favorite.

While it has fewer donated goods, merchandise is always good quality and resonably priced. The women volunteering in the store are so sweet and helpful. I've also been able to find most of what I need there for my kitchen, garden, or project. I've found citrus juicers, butter boats, crocks, felt, containers, cake pans, and flower pots all at Et Cetera for cents!

If you're looking for used furniture, however,Teen Challenge or Buyers Market are the places to go. I think maybe Et Cetera avoids furniture on purpose because they have a smaller shop (and maybe for quality reasons as well?).

Et Cetera has even less space than the other stores as half the shop is devoted to goods made in third-world countries. These are brand new decorating pieces that are beautiful, but priced to give back to those who crafted them.

Thought I would share this cute small town shop with you!

15 August 2011

From Thug to Power Broker

You know you’re getting older when you have the NPR news theme song memorized.

I, like my siblings, have returned to our roots of National Public Radio. I imagine this migration from “normal” radio broadcasting is like making your mom’s meatloaf recipe for dinner. In my mom’s case it would be Portuguese Stew, but the idea’s the same – comfort food. NPR is comfort radio. It brings back great childhood memories of riding in Mr. Jingles (our blue Toyota pick-up) with my dad to early morning jazz band practice or seminary. Or sitting idle on a Saturday morning waiting for Car Talk with Click and Clack to be over before going to the Coast Guard galley for breakfast.

When I knew that my commute to work from Lebanon to Corvallis was going to take about 25 minutes, I decided I wanted to use my time wisely. I didn’t want to listen to music and commercials, or rotate my six CD changer for the umpteenth thousand time. I considered books on tape, but Scott and I tried that once on our trip to Colorado and that failed miserably!

That’s when I rediscovered NPR, specifically OPB, Oregon Public Broadcasting. I leave it on almost permanently in my car now. I leave Lebanon in the early morning and listen to the local and national news updates, a fascinating segment maybe about Mensa or Oregon’s food desert, and comedic chimes from Steve Inskeep. I roll into work about the time I hear “Its 8:01… The news is next.” Not only does their programming schedule make me feel energized and enlightened, but I often find myself waiting in the car for the last 40 seconds of airtime to finish out a story.

One night I was enthralled by the most interesting story that I had interrupted in the middle (the title of this post). In the series, State of the Re:Union, a former drug addict was being interview for his grass roots development efforts in Miami. After going to prison three times for drug trafficking, he decided to take his “business skills“in a direction that would keep him out. He started working in a small grocery store owned by his mother/sister and in less than a year took the store to new levels of production. His neighbors started asking for advice and he began informal best practice forums on Sundays for community merchants. Leroy Jones is now the creator and Executive Director of NANA, a non-profit organization to improve economic development of Miami. You can download the full story, here.

Isn’t that inspiring?

To say the least, I’m pretty pleased with how I spend my commuting hours… even if it does mean I’m getting older.

12 August 2011

Grandpa's Fresh Market - Albany

In June, while Scott was away, I had lunch with a lovely Relief Society sister at Ixtapa. She was telling me about all the things I needed to check out in the area, including the farmers market... "Well, and then of course there's Grandpa's," she said.

'Your grandpa?" I asked. No! A fruit stand between Lebanon and Albany on Highway 226 called Grandpa's Fresh Market. She told me how they had wonderful home grown produce, and some u-pick deals. They always keep their website updated with what's coming fresh from the garden. She also mentioned that there are other orchards and berry farms in that area, with raspberries in July and peaches in the latter part of the summer! That was enough of a teaser to get me driving over to investigate. At the time I was still interviewing for jobs and needed a distraction.  So after lunch I set out to find Grandpa's. 

It wasn't difficult to find. I took the first fork in the road from Lebanon is Hwy 226 going towards Crabtree, and there's a big sign at the fork for Grandpa's Fresh Market advertising what fruit is in season. This was actually around the time I had gone strawberry picking. Remember that awesome deal I got on strawberries? Well Grandpa's had u-pick strawberries for 10 cents/lb less than what I had found, and their strawberries were also great quality. I decided then that Scott and I would need to return to Grandpa's come blueberry season.

Fastforward to white coat ceremony reception - we ate THE MOST glorious blueberries I have EVER tasted!!! I cannot put enough excalamtion points on that sentence. I could have eaten the whole bowl like candy. I suspect that they were "Legacy" blueberries, maybe from this organic farm in Lebanon. I only suspect that because of the wording on their website... I didn't actually ask Western or their reception caterer, so don't take my word on that. In any case, it started the craving for blueberries, and I knew it was time for a trip down Hwy 226. So Scott and I invited his new med school friend Chase and his wife to FHE at Grandpa's where we planned to get our hands and lips as purple as possible.

Mmm... the trip was a success to say the least! Grandpa's had SO many blueberries, and u-pick was only $1.25/lb! Scott's already said that we need to go back for more, even though while we were there he couldn't imagine how we could use a whole bucket full.

Once we got home and we had blueberry pancakes, blueberries in cereal, talks of blueberry muffins on the weekends, not to mention just popping a handful of blueberries... our bucket was depleted before we knew it! We will definitely be finding ourselves some more berries quick and very likely returning to Grandpa's to do it!

10 August 2011

Friends in the Park

A couple weeks ago I went with some friends to the City of Lebanon's Concert in the Park series. Every Tuesday this summer they have performers give us a taste of their work at a local park gazebo .

The city seems to get pretty into it. The park was full of camping chairs and blankets for families to sit on. Around the park were local food carts, farmer booths, and crafters.

The performer happened to be an old acquaintance, Hailey Loren. I was telling my friends that Hailey and I grew up together in Sitka, Alaska. I am a witness of her first solo performance at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp where she received a standing ovation from all. My friends asked me if I was close enough to know any embarrassing childhood moments. I'm afraid we weren't THAT close, but I can still claim some friendship. I wish I could say I knew her better. She is a fantastic artist!

The Brinkerhoffs, including adorable little ones Eva and Elijah

While I know her more as my famous Sitkan buddy, Halie was introduced as the "winner of the John Lennon Songwriting  contest, "Best Vocal Jazz Album" award winner at the 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards, and as having just returned from a tour to Hawaii, Japan, and Italy. She will be back performing in Lebanon on September 9 as part of the Roots and Rhythms festival in town. You can listen to a rather windy rendition of one of her concert songs on my vimeo.

08 August 2011

A True Campus

I've heard that Oregon State University can be quite magical in the fall. A surge of excited incoming students, football season, and leaves changing to match OSU orange may have something to do with that rumor. I recently took a tour of campus and discovered that OSU has the perfect college campus layout. Old brick buildings, classic architecture, gargantuan quads with plenty of grass space for several rounds of hacky sack.

When I walk through the halls of OSU I am reminded of combo sessions at The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho. Walking around the trees and lawns brought back memories of a trip out east with my Dad and walking tour of Dartmouth.

Part of the perfect atmosphere is the prevalence of orange, from shades of  brick to walker apparel. This school definitely wears it's pride! Students, alumni, visitors, and camp attendees alike were all wearing OSU's orange and black. Seeing OSU decorations out of context would make you think that Corvallis' favorite holiday was Halloween. In fact, I myself have mistaken a few ribbon ornaments for forgotten Halloween decorations and was tempted to throw them in the storage.

Of course, in the summer this euphoric collegial feeling is slightly interrupted by screaming (mostly with joy) children participating in summer camps. Though I'm sure OSU's campus is big enough for all of us to enjoy!

05 August 2011

Pioneer Picnic

Pioneer Day is celebrated in Utah on July 24, to commemorate the day that the pioneers first settled in the Salt Lake Valley. Of course, here in Oregon we don't have that official holiday, but there is definitely a history of pioneers. I almost feel like I have some share in that history by playing the old school mac version of Oregon Trails at Verstovia Elementary... No... Probably not.

The Lebanon Oregon Stake of my church celebrated the pioneer treks by holding a picnic at the stake center in Albany. Note to all LDS out-of-staters: Lebanon used to be the center of the stake, which is why Lebanon still has place in the stake name and our local ward chapel has a rather large basketball court and baptismal font. However, the stake center is located in Albany on Grand Prarie road. Don't try going to "the old stake center" off 28th, like I did. Look for this gogeous building above with massive field and pavillion area.

Even though Scott wasn't home yet for the event, I decided I should probably attend. I was even more motivated to go because they said they would be holding a bake off and I was determined to win a prize. Little did I know that the "prizes" were nominal awards... like The Best Carrot Cake award, that was rewarded to... the ONLY carrot cake entered into the contest.

Here's my entry into the bake off:
It didn't turn out as purty as I wanted it to, but I submitted nonetheless and won "The Gooiest" award. I also felt some pride in the fact that the cake was completely devoured by the time I gathered my cake dome to drive home! I used this recipe, that we first tasted at my friend Jandee's home!

A few youth from the stake played country music to entertain us, including the oldest Phillip's boy who helped us move into Lebanon when we arrived in May. They also had relay races scheduled for the kids, croquet, a water pump play area, and snow cones and cotton candy.

Have I mentioned that I have an unhealthy obsession with cotton candy? I think it's the fact that it is fair food, which always brings back positive summer memories. You could enjoy summer all year round, it seems, just by grabbing dollar section cotton candy at Target. I mean, look how radiant that fluff of sugar looks in the sun! How could you possibly say no to that?

We really love our ward! They have been so welcoming to all the med school families moving in, but I felt especially for us. Being without Scott the first seven weeks, I had more spontaneous visits and phone calls than I've had from church members maybe in my lifetime. Everyone was always asking me if I needed anything and making sure I was taken care of and safe. Not to mention the fun activities planned. What a great start to building our home in Lebanon!

03 August 2011

Bailing Season

Oh the dog days of summer! These days, as I've been driving through the Willamette Valley, this is the beauty around me!

'Tis time to cut down the hay and bail it up. Makes you want to go out and jump in those heaps... or just breathe real deep.

01 August 2011

White Coat Ceremony

Saturday was the convocation and inaugural white coat ceremony at Western University's COMP-Northwest in Lebanon, Oregon. The school year is officially in session now for the Class of 2015. The ceremony was slotted for over three hours of speaking, so we anticipated that we might need a crossword or newspaper to entertain us. Curtis began by attempting to identify all the doctors in the audience, including even naming a few (Finklestein, Curt?). Once the ceremony began though, we were happily surprised by the quality of the event and forgot all other intentions but listening!

The convocation began with a BEAUTIFULLY stirring rendition of our national anthem by a local trio of highway patrolmen (?). Western University also put together a short video to explain the origins of osteopathic medicine and it's history in Oregon. Though, the video reminded me a bit of an Indian Jones ride at Disneyland (Western U must have wanted to pump up the energy with their soundtrack), the history of osteopathic medicine in Oregon was really enlightening.

This new campus in Lebanon, Oregon is now the second medical school ever in the state of Oregon and the first to be built in over a century. So it's kind of a big deal! We heard from John Ktzhaber, MD and Governor of the State of Oregon. Amazing speaker and very genuine.We also heard from Alan Bates, Senator of the State of Oregon, the Chairman of the Board of Western University of Health Sciences, the most recent president of the American Osteopahtic Association, and the new Executive Associate Dean, Dr. Paula Crone, DO (those commas separate a group of speakers, if that's unclear).

After all the speakers, each of the 107 students in the charter class of COMP-NW received their white coats are recited the pledge of commitment.

Scott was in one of the last groups to have the white coat placed on them and is standing next to a few of his greatest friends in the program so far. He then received a black, classic doctors bag purchased for all students by the City of Lebanon. An amazing welcome gift to this charter class!

Congrats, Scott, on all the great work you've already put in to get to this moment! It may seem like a missionary farewell celebrating work not yet done, but for Oregon and for our family this truly was a moment to celebrate. Topping off the weekend, Scott and I had to give talks in our ward sacrament meeting. A busy few days, for sure! Thanks to Martie and Curt and my parents who drove up to Lebanon for the ceremony! More pictures are posted on my Facebook, if you're curious.