Friday, December 31, 2010

This Week's Moment

{this moment} - "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see." Inspired by SouleMama.

New Year Star Sugar Cookies

New Year Star Sugar Cookies

No better way to kick off the new year then with good friends and good food. So for this New Year celebration I have made some sugar cookies with butter cream frosting, delicious. I am still working on the resolutions but for now just fun.

Ingredients For the Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Baking Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
Roll out dough on floured surface 1/2 inch thick. When they are rolled a little thick it will give you a softer cookie. It you prefer a crispier sugar cookie roll them about 1/4in. Cut into shapes with the cookie cutter of your choice. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets or baking stone if you have one.
Bake about 7 minutes. Cool completely.

*When they are done cooking then the center of the cookie will not look greasy like melted butter.
*If you want soft cookies do not let them brown at all in the oven.
*Cookies keep baking a little when you pull them out of the oven.
* Key to having sugar cookies keep their shape while baking and not melting / flattening out is to keep the dough cold. As you are rolling them if it taking a while pull half the dough out of the fridge and work with that while leaving the other half in to stay cold then when you are ready pull the second half out.

Butter Cream Frosting Ingredients
  • One stick soft butter
  • 3 3/4C powder sugar
  • 5 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • about 4 Tbsp cream cheese (optional but gives a really nice texture and less buttery flavor)
Blend until smooth, eat a few spoon fulls just, wait to ice cookies until they are completely cool and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I am so far behind that I don't know where to begin.... so for now just a few pics of my most recent adventure to Yosemite. A few days of running and a few days of learning and meeting some amazing people. More on Honduras soon.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Shoulder to Shoulder - Day 5

I am completely exhausted. I helped with taking overnight call on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning. On Tuesday we woke up at 4:30 to hike up to the cell phone tower. The view was amazing. We got poured on during the walk back which was actually nice. Taking call was good. A woman came in at 11:30 in labor. She did not have the baby until about 6am. So we were up all night with her. At one point I fell asleep on the dining room floor for 20min. Then after the baby was born, a little boy, we had breakfast and got ready for the day. I was able to observe Dr. Rubin in the clinic. It was women’s health day so he taught me how to do ultrasounds on pregnant women. It was really interesting. Mostly in the clinic and in the field it seems like we see a lot of hygiene related problems (cuts or bug bites that get infected, fungal infections, things like that) and many pregnant women. They have very large families here. The men do not want the women on birth control. Some of the women sneak and get it but mostly they just keep having babies. The woman that came in was last night 43 year old, delivered her 9th baby, and will probably have two or three more babies before menopause. So after learning ultrasound and lunch we went to deliver stove-building parts to families who have not been able to afford them. It was a great, long, exhausting day. I had dinner at about hour 40 of being awake and passed out at 8pm.

Thanks to Dr. Ta I was able to assist in my first delivery! The mom was so amazing.
Dr. Ta with mom and baby Welcome rain shower

After sleeping really hard last night I woke up this morning at 5:30 to jog with one of the other girls. It was nice but very humid. We got back just in time for breakfast. After eating three of us went in the Chiquita truck (a big moving truck) to deliver more stove building supplies to San Antonio. The drive was quite an adventure. The road here are more like ATV trails and some sections of just rock mountain face, it would be a blast to have a mountain bike here. One section of road was so rough and steep it took us three tries to get up after rolling backwards down. It is amazing, I was laughing so hard I almost wet myself! During the drive we would spot little houses high in the mountains. Many people live two hours walk from anything, probably why their general population is so much healthier then ours. We got home from stove supply delivery, had lunch, a little nap, and then I helped in the children’s library a little and observed in the clinic for about an hour. We had an amazing dinner, tortillas filled with cheese, pico, and steamed broccoli. Now I am exhausted and ready for bed

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Shoulder to Shoulder - Day 4

Today we got up at 4:30 to hike up to the cell phone tower. We were hoping to see the sunrise but there were too many rain clouds and on the hike up we got dumped on. Seriously dumped on, which was actually a little refreshing. It is pretty hot and humid here. After the hike we had a quick breakfast and then loaded up the supplies and drove the trucks to La Montana for a CHI. The Driving is quite an adventure. The roads are like something I would mountain bike on at home. Very steep, narrow, large, loose boulders. We road standing and hanging on in the back of the S2S trucks. It is funny, people always are surprised that you have to self fund your own volunteer trip (or find donations) but now I understand exactly why. The maintenance of the transportation alone is a huge expense. They have to replace the tires and various other parts on the vehicles very frequently. And who else would pay for this? The local people can hardly pay for their own food let alone medical visits. If it were not for donations, grant funding, a few amazing local doctors and nurses, and self funded volunteers then the families would probably just go without medical aid.

So today we went to a school. We saw all of the school children as well as several other local children that are younger then school age and live close enough for the mothers to walk them in. These mothers are amazing. They will walk for hours through the mountains with several very young children just for a chance to see the doctors. At the school we set up stations for measuring blood iron, height and weight, dental education, vision testing, de-worming medicine and pharmacy, and doctor consults. One mother walked with 4 girls. One is 11, one 6 and is deaf, one 3 that had a head injury which left her with partial left side paralysis, and one 11 month old nursing. And there was not the same element of self pity that you see in the US, it seemed like the attitude was just life is hard.

After the CHI a small group of us did home visits. We went to two houses of families that could not make it to the school. The first had a 10 year old girl who had a stroke when she was 5 that left her with both legs and her left arm paralyzed. They live, literally, on the side of a mountain so the little girl rarely can leave the house because she is not mobile. She had a wheel chair that had been fashioned out of a plastic yard chair and bike wheels. But really the chair just gets her around the one room house because the only access to their house is a rocky, steep, single track trail. I could not help but think that if she were in the US then access to physical therapy would be able to help her, maybe even learn to walk with some type of crutches, and completely change her life.

The second house was an eighty five year old couple. They were amazing. The type of older people that you know would have amazing life stories to share. They were about eighty five, and I say about because they were only able to guess at their own ages. The husband was on the side of the mountain picking corn when a cow knocked him down and his knee was bothering him. She had some general knee pain as well. We talked with them for a while and gave them some anti-inflammatory. I loved this couple.

On the drive home we had a little gravel road collapsing under us incident. With some strategic rock placement and pushing were were able to get the truck out of the ditch and back on the "road."
We decided to finish up an exciting day with a little hike on the way home to see the view of Santa Lucia below. It was beautiful.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shoulder to Shoulder - Day 3

Today we woke up early and had our first CHI (Child Health Initiative) in Concepion. The CHI, a field-based screening and preventative medicine program, during which we would conduct physical exams and have the opportunity to provide greatly needed medications such as Albendazol for parasites and antibiotics. We divided into several stations: height and weight, hematocrit, dental education, dental exam, vision testing, physical exams, and pharmacy. I worked with three others in the pharmacy which I thought would be much easier then it was. Most children just needed the anti-parasite medication, which apparently tastes terriable. There was lots of crying and lots of gagging. In the end we were able to get most of it down. But the children were amazing. Many were underweight, most had rotten teeth, and almost all did not have shoes. Despite everything they all smiled so much and seemed so happy. No matter how much they were poked and prodded they would smile and thank us. The poorer the child the less they seemed to cry, even when getting their finger pricked they all had an 'I've seen worse' attitude. They were so beautiful. After the CHI we regrouped to talk about how it went and figure out what we could do better next time. Then we loaded up the bus and finished the final leg of our drive to the clinic in Santa Lucia where we will base out of for the remainder of our trip.

The drive was probably only about 60miles but took us about 3 hours. It was beautiful, so remote and undisturbed. The roads were more like what we, in North Carolina, would call ATV trails. It was pretty fun traveling. I was very impressed with the drivers.

Some pictures of the Santa Lucia clinic and dorm.
When we arrived a group of us set out for a walk to explore the town.
These two were quite the pair standing guard. The poor dogs here are so malnourished, but feeding dogs has to take a back seat to trying to feed people. My dogs at home are so spoiled.
The kids we met in the street were pretty excited about their barrel of water and LOVED having their picture taken. Every time a photo was snapped they ran over to see the digital image. They were so precious.

After our walk around town the ladies of the kitchen were kind enough to give us our first tortilla making lesson. I am not sure how much of a help we were but we sure had fun.

In The Garden

Walking around in the garden right now is like a scavenger hunt. It has gotten so big that if I do not look carefully I will not find all of the hidden little veggies. Today was a good hunt. We have so many peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers that I am struggling to keep up. This is by far the healthiest I have ever eaten and at this rate we will have plenty stored for the winter. I am working on canning tomato sauce and freezing veggies and the man has been pickling all of the cucumbers, maybe I can get him to share his recipe (it is fantastic).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shoulder to Shoulder - Day 1&2

Shoulder to Shoulder: Day 1 & 2

I left my house at 4am to begin my journey to Honduras. My flight left Asheville, NC at 6am, connected through Atlanta, GA and landed in San Pedro Sula around 12pm. My flight was mostly full of mission and volunteer groups. When I landed I felt a bit lost. I was one of the few people in my group that traveled down alone and did not know anyone else on the trip. I eventually found the rest of my group because there were pretty easy to pick out with their 23 gallon rubbermaid checked bags full of medical supplies. We loaded up the bus and were on our way to La Esperanza were we spent the night. This part of the drive went pretty quickly because it was mostly on well maintained paved and packed dirt roads. The mountains that we drove through were truly breathtaking. Honduras is much more green then I expected. I sat with a 3rd year medical student who is taking the summer off between 3rd and 4th year of school to get her MPh at Harvard. She was fantastic. Everyone that I have met so far has been wonderful, which has really eased the stress of coming on this adventure alone.
After spending the night in La Esperanza when we woke up in the morning a couple of us wandered around the town before breakfast. For breakfast we had a typical Honduran plate of refried beans, homemade tortillas, eggs, fried plantain, and sliced avocado. It was delicious. We loaded back in the bus and drove to Concepion, Intibuca Honduras where Shoulder to Shoulder has just held the grand opening of a new medical clinic. This part of the drive was a little slower going. When we left La Esperanza the roads immediately turned from packed dirt to loose rock and boulder. It was pretty exciting driving. We arrived, unloaded the bus, and then helped unpack a trailer of stove building supplies that would be delivered to families in the surrounding area later in the week. Then we walked around town and hung out with some of the kids that were playing in the town center.

By the end of the day I was completely exhausted. I went to take a shower but unfortunately I was a little too late. In order to conserve water we all were to take "military showers," jump in the water to rinse off, turn the water off, soap up, turn water back on rinse off, and so on. I made it to the fully soap up step only to turn the water back on only to discover that there was none left. I stood in the shower for a while trying to decide what to do next. I ended up ringing the soap out of my hair over the sink. Lesson learned: don't shower last and do not use lots of shampoo! A group of us girls set up our sleeping pads in one of the consult rooms in the new clinic and we all passed out very early.