Wednesday, April 28, 2010

~Historic Hospital Tour in Hot Springs~

I'm about to finish up my 5th week of clinicals with Arkansas Rehab Services in Little Rock. 7 weeks to go! The OTs who are supervising me are employed by and work as consultants for the state of Arkansas, assessing the assistive technology needs of clients for their home, vehicle, or workplace. Because they serve the entire state, travel is frequent...and those days are my favorite.

Today, we went to Hot Springs for a quick delivery and setup of a client's new computer program and devices for low vision. Afterwards, they took me on a tour of Hot Springs Rehab Center, which is run by ARS. This building used to be called The Army-Navy Hospital, the first military hospital in the entire nation.

The story, and the building itself, were fascinating to me, so I did some research. Here's the history...

In the early 1800's, mineral waters were believed to have therapeutic value, which attracted people to Hot Springs. A dinner party was held in 1882 at the Palace Bathhouse. It was given by a former Confederate army surgeon to honor U.S. Senator John A. Logan, a former Yankee general who served on Ulysses S. Grant's staff.

There, the groundwork for the hospital was proposed and the senator believed Hot Springs was the "ideal location for an institution of this character". Upon returning to DC, he made it happen.

The Army-Navy Hospital opened to veteran patients in 1887.

The building was replaced with fireproof brick and steel and reopened in 1933 as the building that still stands today.

After World War II, wounded soldiers were sent to Hot Springs to receive hydro-therapy treatments with the spring water.

The building was turned over to the state of Arkansas in 1960 for $1 to become the rehab hospital it is today, where people with disabilities receive therapy services and are taught independent living skills.

As we circled up the winding hill, I peered out of the van window, staring at the most picture-perfect, spooky, surely haunted, hospital.

Just look at it...It's both eery and beautiful.

{The hospital entrance}

Walking in felt like stepping into both another era, and a horror film. An old wooden hand-rail resembling a ballet bar lined both sides of the halls. No cold, institutional metal here.

I was immediately reminded of a movie called "Autopsy" that Sean forced me to watch on the Sci-Fi channel, where college friends are in a car accident while on a cross country road trip. They are taken to an empty, old hospital in middle-of-nowhere-Louisiana at night, where the staff proceeds to conduct inhumane and gory "experiments" on their bodies. It was scary. I regret it.

{This is what I imagined it would be like walking in this hospital at night.}

{And this is what I expected to see when I peeked into a room. I was scurred.}

{Yes, that's Escobar from Nip/Tuck. Pushing a cart of bloody body parts. See? Scary. Never again, Sean. Never again.}

Before my imagination could get carried away, I centered my focus on the charming vintage appeal.

I was in awe of the thick vintage wood work. And the intricate curved molding between the ceiling and the walls.

{Staircase with decorative metal grates and design cutouts above the doorways}

{Beautiful original woodwork}

The COOLEST vintage elements to me, were the recessed drinking fountains! All of the water fountains were little wall niches where you leaned through the wall to take a drink. Definitely NOT accessible by ADA standards, but dripping with vintage cool.

We finished up the day trip with lunch at McCLard's. So old timey, they don't even accept debit/credit and we had to run to an atm. Today, I realized, I haven't been to historic Hot Springs since I was a kid. I've only made lake-trips since I was 10. Being there appealed to the vintage-vixen in me and really made me want to go back, so we're planning a weekend for this summer. I can't wait!


Monday, April 26, 2010

~Basketball Tournament and Cooking with Friends~

We spent the weekend in Marion because Sean and the boys played in a basketball tournament at the Boys Club in West Memphis. Friday night, after their the game, Ashley and Nina asked if I would cook for everyone instead of going out to eat...and share a little bit of my "Betty Crocker"-esque methods along the way.

With my family, cooking is never a solo chore so I was happy to have some company in the kitchen. Since the boys had a long day of ball ahead of them on Saturday, we decided on a "carbo-loaded" meal of pasta, salad, and rolls.

Since the decision was last minute, I sat in the walmart parking lot with the girls and I racked my brain for something I could whip up without access to a recipe. I posted Sean's favorite meal from The Pasta House here in Conway that I now make at home: Crawfish Fettucine. I decided to make MY favorite meal from The Pasta House: Shrimp Fettucine with mushrooms and bacon. It was a big hit so I hope you'll give it a try!
The girls got to work and the boys relaxed.

If you read my blog, you know I'm not a recipe follower and CERTAINLY not a 'measurer'. After several questions from Nina and Ashley to the tune of "Am I chopping these mushrooms right?" and "How big or small do you want the tomatoes to be?" I proclaimed, "Baking is the science. Cooking is an art." I don't care how you chop or if there is one handful of parsley or two. I had only one rule for them in the kitchen: Don't be scared!

I was cooking for 9 people so I'll try my best to estimate the amounts for a typical 4 person meal.


  • 1 (16 ounce) package fettuccini or linguine noodles
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 pound baby portobello, or cremini, mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 pounds precooked shrimp, tails off, thawed
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped or torn
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 slices of bacon
Prep all ingredients. This is always the most time consuming when cooking for a big group so I recruited some help.

Ashley doing her job.

Me doing my job.

Nina drinking on the job...

In large pot, boil water with 2 tbs salt. Add pasta and a splash of olive oil and cook according to package directions. In large skillet, saute onions and mushrooms with olive oil until soft. Season with salt and pepper. In a separate skillet, begin making sauce with a roux of butter, garlic, and flour over Medium heat.

When butter and flour are incorporated, add whipping cream and whisk until lumps are gone. Add parmesan cheese and lower heat to Medium Low. Add fresh parsley to sauce.

Add shrimp and sauteed onions and mushrooms. Give sauce a taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Add drained pasta to sauce and toss.
In emptied saute skillet, cook bacon until crisp.

Toss bacon into pasta.

Garnish with parsley and it's ready to eat! We served it with my favorite super simple Creamy Italian Salad. It's just lettuce, cucumber, tomato, Creamy Italian dressing, ALOT of grated parmesan cheese from the can for flavor and to thicken the dressing, and generous amount of salt and pepper.

Never seen someone so happy to peel a cucumber!
Nina went all "Betty Crocker"-esque on me and got fancy with the cucumbers. I was quick to admit I had never done what she did...dragged a fork along the peeled cucumber so that when she sliced them they were all purty and scalloped-edged. I'm always learning!

Ashley mixed up the yummy salad.

Even Tiger Bear loved it. :)

Boo Boo's my best bud.

The girls got the big table. Beautiful. And SO delicious.

...And the boys sat at the kids table. They dug in. And went back for seconds.

Saturday they played long and hard, but lost by 1 point in the last second with a bit of a controversial call, and placed second. We had a good sized home-town crowd and when I wasn't making a run for bananas, gatorade, and ice, I enjoyed visiting all day.

Sean and his dad.

Devin just before he SLAM-DUNKED! Just kiddin.

Sean and his mom. Mrs. Pam is always a trooper running that clock all day!

They all played great! Good job boys, you make us proud. My butt hurt just watching you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Summer Swimsuits 2010: Vintage Inspired

I'm inspired by vintage everything. I like to add vintage elements to decorating, art, and I've looked to vintage swimsuits for some of my favorite features of this summer's bikinis.

My collection has gotten somewhat out of control, so I'll be getting rid of some to make room for my traditional 2 new suits of the summer. I must say, though, they were all ridiculously good deals. I buy them out of season, or off the clearance rack from the previous year's stock.

What remains the BEST shopping deal of my life, is the time my bff Meg and I went to TJ Maxx (lOvE) on Labor Day morning while vacationing at Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs.

I had an upcoming fall cruise and she was preparing for her honeymoon in Mexico. As we nonchalantly perused through the swimsuit rack, an employee came by, markdown gun in hand, and said the most beautiful words to me...
"All swimsuits are now $1."

Excuse me? Is there a catch? Certain exclusions one get one for $1, only swimsuits with a rip in the crotch are $1?
ALL swimsuits ONE bill. That's a McDonald's baby burger.

I casually waltzed over to Meg a couple racks away and drug her back to the swimsuits to whisper the good news before anyone else could hear. Then, we proceeded to scour the swimsuit dollar menu for every suit within 5 sizes of what we needed. I didn't care what it was, it was coming with me to the fitting room.

I walked away with 7 new swimsuits for $7. One XOXO, one Versace Sport, one Roxy, one Rampage...I could get by without a new one, but it's a summer tradition for me that signals my favorite months ahead.

Now, on to the swim suits.
A few classic vintage characteristics of swimsuits that I love can be found in bikinis available today. Take a look...

~Feminine Ruffles~

Common in vintage styles, ruffles add such a flirty, feminine affect to swimsuits.
Here's one from Old Navy:

And one from Victoria's Secret:
Another from Victoria's Secret:

~Bandeau Top~

It may only be ideal to lay out in, to me, but it has a cute, retro flare and there are lots in this style this season.
Here's one from Victoria's Secret:

Here's one from Jessica Simpson:
Here's one from Alloy:


I've always loved pin-up nautical style suits. It's classic.

Here's one from Victoria's Secret:

And here's one from Venus Swimwear:

~Formed Bikini Top~

Bikini tops of the mid 40's tended to sport a very structured, formed shape that was flattering and supportive, rather than the more sporty, flimsy suits that are common today. I looked high and low for a structured top last summer but they were hard to find. The few stores I found that carried them were always out. But it looks like it's caught on and they are much more available this season.

Here's a few from Victoria's Secret:

VS balconet
VS retro pushupMust I say, Marisa Miller, you are SICK!

Yall have fun shopping!