What I’ve Been Up To… (Old)

What I’ve Been Up To… (Old)

Throughout my dietetic internship and now throughout my time as a registered dietitian, I have updated everyone on what I’ve been doing each week. So, here’s What I’ve Been Up To…

June 6, 2007 – I graduated from Mississippi State University on May 4th and began my year as a dietetic intern through the University of Northern Colorado on Monday. The program is a distance learning program, so all my rotations will be in Mississippi and the surrounding areas. I love to cook and have enjoyed being “Cooking with Ellen” on the local CBS station for the past year. I can’t wait to start internship rotations next month! Right now, I’m taking an online class in food service.

June 13, 2007 – This week, I’m taking an online class in Medical Nutrition Therapy which is proving to be a challenge! I’m also still working part time in the MSU Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion. I look forward to starting internship rotations in less than one month.

June 20, 2007 – This week I’m enjoying a short break from school before going to Colorado next week for internship orientation. I’ll come back and begin rotations in Jackson the first week of July.

June 27, 2007 – This week I’m attending orientation for my distance learning dietetic internship at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, CO. It is beautiful up here. I have enjoyed getting to know my new fellow interns this week. We’ve had alot of fun talking about foods native to our areas of the country – I’ve had fun learning about how people eat up North and out West and have enjoyed explaining what Southern food is all about!

July 4, 2007 – I’m beginning my first dietetic internship rotation tomorrow in Jackson. Today, I’m celebrating the fourth of July with my friends and family – the Stolls, Pearsons, Gulletts, Criss, and Easleys!

July 11, 2007 – I just began my first week as an intern. Right now, I’m working with Mrs. Kathy Warwick, a dietitian who owns her own business. I’m working on many things, including making nutrition education materials and handouts, working on a grant to be instituted in the Jackson Public Schools, and helping with diabetes and nutrition education.

July 18, 2007 – I’m interning with Mrs. Kathy Warwick, RD, CDE and Mrs. Amy Keywood, RD, CDE this week. I’ll be doing cooking demos and giving information on healthy substitutions and healthy cooking for diabetes classes on Thursday, July 19, Monday, July 23, and Thursday, July 26. The classes will be in Crystal Springs and Hazelhurst, MS.

July 25, 2007 – Over the past week I’ve been working with Mrs. Amy Keywood at her gym, KeyHabits, in Hazlehurst, MS. I’ve enjoyed being able to do two healthy cooking talks with cooking demos so far and look forward to doing another cooking demo in Crystal Springs, MS tomorrow. I have enjoyed designing a website, instructing patients with diabetes, and finding out what it’s like to manage a gym.

August 1, 2007 – This week, I’m finishing up my first internship rotation. I have truly enjoyed working with 2 wonderful dietitians: Kathy Warwick, RD, CDE, and Amy Keywood, RD, CDE. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in and lead cooking demos, diabetes support group classes, weight loss classes, diabetes supply sales, grant project work with the Jackson Public School system, and much more. Thanks to Mrs. Kathy and Mrs. Amy for a great first rotation! On Monday, I start my first week at Central Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS.

August 8, 2007 – During the month of August, I’ll be working with the dietitians at Central Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS. I’ve enjoyed the two days I have worked so far and have learned so much already. I’ve had the opportunity to teach weight loss classes and talk with patients. I look forward to continuing my rotation at CMMC.

August 15, 2007 – I’m still working with the great dietitians at Central Mississippi Medical Center. While here, I’ve been able to talk to patients about nutrition with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, renal disease, and a host of other nutrition-related topics. I’ve learned so much and have enjoyed teaching classes and meeting with patients one-on-one.

August 22, 2007 – Working at Central MS Medical Center has allowed me to see alot of things over the past 2 1/2 weeks. Yesterday, I even got to watch 3 Lap-Band surgeries be performed. I look forward to working here for 1 1/2 more weeks and continuing to learn from the great dietitians here.

August 29, 2007 – I’m currently finishing up my last week at Central Mississippi Medical Center. I have enjoyed working with the dietitians here and have learned so much doing presentations, watching surgeries, talking with patients about healthy eating, and meeting all the other great people who work here.

September 5, 2007 – Yesterday was the first day of my third internship rotation. This month, I’ll be working with my primary preceptor, Carolyn Bailey, RD, in Starkville, MS. I have truly enjoyed everything I’ve done so far and look forward to learning more this month.
September 12, 2007 – This week I have had the opportunity to work with several dietitians and nutritionists around the Starkville, MS area. Monday, I worked with Nicky Yeatman, RD, from Oktibbeha County Hospital. Wednesday, I’m working with Beverly Lowery from the Starkville School District foodservice division. The rest of the week I’m working with Carolyn Bailey, RD from Starkville who works for Valley Food Service.

September 19, 2007 – Today I’m giving a presentation to the new MSU women’s basketball team on sports nutrition.
I’m also working with Carolyn Bailey, RD in Starkville, MS, Clarksdale, MS, & Baton Rouge, LA. Tuesday, October 2, 2007, I’ll be doing a cooking demo and taste-testing presentation for the Oktibbeha County Hospital Diabetes Support Group in Starkville, Mississippi. The presentation will be at 5:30pm in the OCH Educational Facility. Anyone from the Starkville area is welcome to come!

September 26, 2007 – Yesterday was the first day of my rotation at Oktibbeha County Hospital in Starkville, Mississippi. While at OCH, I’ll be working with the Diabetes Self Management Training Program and teaching a diabetes support group next Tuesday, October 2nd. I’ll be doing diet educations and designing the quarterly diabetes newsletter.

October 3, 2007 – Over the past week I’ve been working at Oktibbeha County Hospital in Starkville, Mississippi with Kelly White, RD. I’ve been doing some fill in work as well for Nicky Yeatman, RD, who recently had a baby. Last night, I did a cooking demo for the OCH Diabetes Support Group. While here, I’m seeing inpatients as well as outpatients and teaching them about nutrition for diabetes, weight loss, heart disease, etc.

October 10, 2007 – Today is my last day (for awhile) working at Oktibbeha County Hospital in Starkville, Mississippi. I will begin my next rotation on Monday at the Student Health Center on the campus of Mississippi State University. At OCH, I’ve been able to talk with inpatients and outpatients (in our Diabetes Self Management Training Program) and have learned so much working with the dietitians here.

October 17, 2007 – I started this Monday at the Miss State Student Health Center. I have enjoyed working in the health center, which offers an outpatient setting. I have enjoyed the time I’ve spent at the student health center so far working with Jennifer Fuller, RD. I am enjoying doing presentations on healthy eating for students and working with people one-on-one. I am also working on developing several nutrition-related handouts for students on campus.

October 24, 2007 – This is my second week to be working at the Student Health Center on the Miss State campus. I have enjoyed doing several presentations already on healthy eating and healthy body image. I have also had the opportunity to meet with several outpatients, giving two different channels to share about nutrition with others. I am in my fourth month of interning (out of 8-9) so can’t believe I’m around half-way through!

October 31, 2007 – This week I am working on projects for my internship and at Oktibbeha County Hospital before leaving on Friday for Baton Rouge to start my Oncology rotation there. I will be in Baton Rouge for 2 weeks and look forward to working at Baton Rouge General Hospital and at an outpatient oncology clinic in Baton Rouge. Today completes my fourth month of being a dietetic intern.

November 7, 2007 – I began on Monday working at Baton Rouge General Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This rotation is my oncology rotation but I am also going to have the opportunity to do general Med-Surg assessments, go to the burn unit, and watch a few surgeries. I’m going to be in Baton Rouge for 2 weeks and am staying with my Uncle James and Aunt Marianne here. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to have a true Louisiana experience with my Uncle Eddie and Aunt Marilyn on their houseboat. We took a “cruise” on the houseboat and enjoyed beautiful scenery as well as some delicious seafood gumbo! I look forward to learning more about the areas of nutrition and cancer prevention and treatment while I enjoy more delicious Louisiana cuisine during my stay in Louisiana.

November 14, 2007 – Friday will be my last day working at Baton Rouge General Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I have truly enjoyed my time working with Denise Delphen, RD and the other dietitians at the 2 BR General locations. I’ve had the opportunity to treat cancer inpatients and outpatients, burn patients, critically ill patients, and general med-surg patients. Thanks to the hospitality of Uncle James and Aunt Marianne Granier, I’ve had the opportunity to taste some of the best food on the planet here in Louisianna and thoroughly enjoyed Crawfish Etoufee, Crabmeat Au Gratin, Red Beans and Rice, and many other Louisiana favorites. I’ve also gotten to do most of my Christmas shopping here in Saint Francisville and in Baton Rouge. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21, 2007 – I’m leaving this morning to celebrate Thanksgiving with my mom’s parents in Brookhaven, Mississippi tonight. Tomorrow, we will head to my dad’s parents to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. I enjoyed Baton Rouge emensely and am enjoying 2 weeks off before heading for a long term care rotation in Port Gibson, Mississippi.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!

November 28, 2007 – I’m enjoying one last week at home in Cedar Bluff, Mississippi before heading to my next rotation in Port Gibson, MS with Nutrition Systems, inc, for a long-term care rotation.
I enjoyed good eating this Thanksgiving and had fun celebrating with family members at both my grandparents’ houses.

December 5, 2007 – This week I began working with Nutrition Systems, located in Port Gibson, Mississippi. I’m staying with my dad’s parents. Monday and Tuesday I had the opportunity to work in the Port Gibson office and also at the Claiborne County Nursing Center. I have been able to learn about foodservice management by working with menus and doing a foodservice department and kitchen inspection. Today, I am traveling to Louisiana to work at a facility there. I am enjoying working at Nutrition Systems and hope to continue learning more about nutrition over the next 2 weeks.

December 12, 2007 – I am still enjoying my internship rotation with Nutrition Systems and have worked in Jackson, Mississippi this week. I have worked at 2 nursing homes already this week and will work at another one today. Tomorrow, I will work with a dietitian here in Jackson who works for Sysco foods. While in Jackson, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and stay with Mrs. Elise Smith, RD (the one who gave me the recipe above). I’ll finish off the week back in Port Gibson with Mrs. Lynn Moore, RD and will stay with my grandparents again.

December 19, 2007 – I am home now for 4 weeks, enjoying these last few days before Christmas. I have completed all my shopping and almost all my gift wrapping. This week, I’ll be working some at our local Oktibbeha County Hospital, recording a TV special to be aired on WCBI news on Christmas day, and doing some special Christmas cooking for friends and family.

December 26, 2007 – I’m enjoying some time at home before leaving for Jackson in a couple of weeks for my next rotation. I’m working at Oktibbeha County Hospital in Starkville, Mississippi doing foodservice part time while at home.
I also enjoyed recording a Christmas cooking special last week which was aired yesterday afternoon (Christmas day) on WCBI news.
My family celebrated Christmas yesterday at home in Cedar Bluff, Mississippi. My sister and her husband (Jody & Amanda Criss) and my mom’s parents (L.J. & Louise McBride) came and enjoyed lunch with us. We ate a wonderful Christmas dinner complete with Smoked Ham, Sweet Potato Casserole, Spinach Madeline, Green Bean Casserole, Hot fruit, Rolls, & Chocolate Cobbler. It was wonderful!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

January 2, 2008 – This past week I have been working at Oktibbeha County Hospital in Starkville, Mississippi doing foodservice work. I am planning a cafeteria “Theme Day” for tomorrow with “Healthy Eating Options” and am getting ready to leave for Jackson, Mississippi on Sunday to begin my next internship rotation at the Baptist Hospital.
Yesterday, I celebrated New Year’s Day with family and friends and enjoyed Black-Eyed Peas & Sausage, coleslaw, bread, and other delicious sides and desserts. Have a Happy Healthy New Year!

January 9, 2008 – I began my first day at Baptist Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi this Monday. I am learning about nutrition support (tube feedings, IV feedings) with Ms. Jenny Prestridge, RD and making rounds with the nutrition support team every day (the Nutrition Support Team includes a dietitian, physicians, and pharmacists). There are 4 different pharmacy interns working on the nutrition support team so I’m not the only student. I will be at Baptist for 3 weeks before heading to Memphis for my last rotation at St. Jude. Time is really going by fast but I’m enjoying every minute of it!

January 16, 2008 – Today marks my half-way point for my rotation at Baptist Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. I have enjoyed working with Ms. Jenny Prestridge, dietitian, and Dr. Phil Ayers, pharmacist, along with the other dietitians doing nutrition support in the hospital (tube feedings and IV feedings). While in Jackson, I’ve been able to stay with several different friends and appreciate each one’s hospitality. This week, I’m enjoying my time at the Hensarling’s house in Clinton, Mississippi.

January 23, 2008 – Tomorrow is my last day at the Baptist hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. Today, I am presenting my case study to the dietitians and other interns at the hospital. Friday, I will leave for a conference in Philadelphia, Mississippi, which is on the way home, so Friday night I will enjoy sleeping in my own bed for the first time in 3 weeks. I have enjoyed learning about nutrition support over these past 3 weeks and have also enjoyed working with the 7 dietitians at Baptist Hospital along with 3 more interns who are attending the University of Southern Mississippi.
During my free time, I’m still working to improve my website and have made categories and topics to help with surfing my site and finding recipes. I’ve also created a poll, so check it out! After I leave Baptist, I will be at home for a week before heading to St Jude Hospital in Memphis.

January 30, 2008 – This week, I am enjoying some time at home and working today and tomorrow with the Starkville Public Schools foodservice department. On Sunday, I will enjoy watching the Super Bowl with our friends, the Stolls, before heading to Memphis on Monday for my rotation at St. Jude. I will be in Memphis working at St. Jude for 4 weeks. I am very excited to be starting my last official rotation for my internship!

February 6, 2008 – Yesterday was my first day at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.St JudeI enjoyed meeting my new preceptors and getting to work with some of the children here. I am very excited about my pediatric/oncology rotation and hope to learn alot. I found an extended stay appartment close to the hospital so am enjoying be very close to where I will be working for the next 4 weeks.

After work yesterday, I spent some time walking around the St. Jude campus and took some photos!

February 13, 2008 – I am truly enjoying my rotation in Memphis, Tennessee at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital! I’ve enjoyed working with the clinical dietitians both in outpatient nutrition assessments and follow-ups and in inpatient rounds on the inpatient hospital floors. I have also had the opportunity to work with the foodservice staff and diet techs with the hospital’s room service system.
The St. Jude Gift Stores have made a great pitstop on the way back to my apartment (I’m staying in an apartment just 1/2 block from the hospital). I’ve enjoyed buying Christmas stuff on sale and a few extra souvenirs as well. You can buy from their gift store online and all proceeds benefit the research and patient care at St. Jude.
The patients here have such a wonderful level of joy and are an example to me of hope and endurance. I enjoy working with them and just trying to bring a smile to each one’s face.

February 20, 2008 – I am enjoying my third week at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Time is flying by this month but I am really enjoying myself. Today I will present my case study at the bimonthly dietitian meeting.

During the little free time I have, I’ve enjoyed visiting with my roommate. She is here from the Philippines and is working with the Child Life Program. We have enjoyed both American and Philippine foods and have enjoyed talking about our experiences here at St Jude. Xai will have to go home this weekend while I have one more week here at St Jude.

St Jude Gardens

February 27, 2008 – I cannot believe that this is my last week at St. Jude. I have enjoyed working with the dietitians here and have learned so much. Being here has allowed me to learn more about nutrition care in pediatrics and oncology patients. I have also enjoyed spending time working with the hospital foodservice department, taking orders from and trays to children in the hospital. It has been great to see how St Jude’s unique foodservice system works. I am (hopefully) within a month of finishing my entire internship program and have been working full-time trying to finish up last minute projects and assignments. This past weekend, I spent time working on my last 2 case studies for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Oktibbeha County Hospital.

March 5, 2008 – I thoroughly enjoyed my time at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The dietitians there were great and I learned so much about treating childhood cancers and other illnesses. I enjoyed shopping at the bookstore and had the opportunity to tour the Grizzlies House, Ronald McDonald House, and Target House during my last week there.

National School Breakfast Week Bulletin Board

I came home to a brand new bedroom! The Easley family has been building a house for awhile now and we are officially moved in! I have spent most of my free time organizing my new room and unpacking both my things from Memphis and my things from the old house.

This week, I am working on foodservice projects with Mrs. Beverly Lowry at the Starkville School District foodservice department. I designed the bulletin board (below) yesterday for our National Nutrition Month/National School Breakfast Week Promo. Today, I will be helping with breakfast, where we will have Mississippi State University athletes and coaches serving with the school’s principles and superintendent.

Friday, my family is leaving for Orlando, Florida, where my dad has a conference and we will be going to Disney World!

Disney World

March 12, 2008 –

This week, I’m enjoying time with my family vacationing in Orlando, Florida. My dad has a conference this week and we are also enjoying time at Disney World!We will go home on Friday and I will leave on Sunday for Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where I will be working a week in food service at Partlow, a mental health facility there. After working at Partlow I will finish up my last evaluations and be done. I can’t believe I will finish my internship 9 days from today!
Pictured: My 7 year old brother, Adam, with Pluto and Goofy.

March 19, 2008 – This is (hopefully) my very last week of interning. As of this morning, I have 25 food service hours, 1 test, and 1 evaluation left to be totally finished with my dietetic internship. Time has flown by and I have truly enjoyed my internship.
This week, I’m working at Partlow in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Partlow is a mental health institution that serves around 1,000 residents per meal. This makes for a huge food service operation. I have learned so much in the two days I’ve been here already and look forward to the rest of the week here.
I enjoyed my time in Orlando last week and my time at Disney World. Pictured: Sarah, my mom, and I at Epcot.Epcot

I’m done with all my internship hours! I was so happy to finish up over 1200 hours of interning this past Friday. I have interned in 4 states over 9 months and worked one-on-one with more than two dozen different dietitians. I still have a couple of forms to fill out and one evaluation to have completed, but I have truly enjoyed some time away from studying this week! Monday and Tuesday, I enjoyed free time and sleeping in. My mom and I got to do a little shopping as well. Today, we are excited to have some friends come for lunch who are visiting from Texas for the Mississippi State Super Bulldog Weekend. Tomorrow and Friday I will be attending the Mississippi Dietetic Association annual conference in Oxford, Mississippi, and Saturday I am planning to go with my sister to the Herritage Festival in Port Gibson, Mississippi. So, as you can see, end of internship does not mean the end of busy schedules! I plan to enjoy a week off then begin studying for the RD (Registered Dietitian) board’s exam to become a dietitian!

April 2, 2008 – This week I am enjoying some rest and time to catch up with friends. I’ve enjoyed having lunch and coffee with friends and finding out what they’ve been up to while I’ve been interning. I am trying to get my very last internship packet together this week to send off to my program director at the University of Northern Colorado. Then, in a few weeks, I’ll be ready to take my RD exam to become a registered dietitian.

April 9, 2008 – This week, I’m performing my “civic duty” by serving on the Clay County Grand Jury. While it’s taking most of every day, I’m enjoying learning about the judicial system in our nation and how cases are tried. While most of the participants are trying to juggle work and jury duty, I’m between internship and jobs, so am rather free all week!
I’m still studying for the RD exam and even took my “RD in a Flash” cards to study during the breaks!

April 16, 2008 – This week, I’ve been studying for the RD exam full-time! I purchased a 507 page manual to go through that hopefully contains everything I need to know about nutrition. I’m taking the manual one page at a time and have already made a large stack of notecards to study. I feel really good about everything I read and am having “flashbacks” to all my undergraduate nutrition classes.
Today, I am attending a small business seminar on the campus of Mississippi State University to learn and get more ideas for my webpage and business. I’m hoping to develop more services and good nutrition info for my webpage before too long, so keep checking the site for changes!
April 23, 2008 – This week I am still in full study mode, trying to prepare myself for the RD (Registered Dietitian) Exam. I’ve been studying my intensive study guide and am very encouraged, because I feel like what I’m reading is a review, rather than a learning session for me. I’m constantly having “flash-backs” to nutrition classes at Mississippi State and to rotations from my internship over the past year.
In addition to studying, I had the opportunity to be a guest lecturer for a health promotion class at Mississippi State this past Monday. I talked about diabetes – what it is, risk factors, treatments, complications, and its impact on our society. I enjoyed speaking (and it offered a little study break for me!) and am so glad I had that opportunity.
This weekend, I’ll be helping cater two events with a local caterer and continuing my studies as I have “free time.”
I am in the process of thinking through what I’d like to do with my website once I become a dietitian. I would like to devote time to increasing its depth but want your opinion on what you’d like to see on the site and what would be helpful to you. Please take a minute to reply and give me your feedback on what resources you’d like to have. I’ve thought about writing menus, selling a cookbook, selling nutrition-related handouts for health fairs, developing a weight management or healthy cooking “forum,” selling actual cooking products, etc, but want to do something that you would enjoy and use. Thanks in advance for your help!

April 30, 2008 – On Monday, I received a letter from my internship director, officially stating that I have graduated from the internship program! My verification of completion is in the mail and I should be a licensed dietitian sometime next week, hopefully! After that, it will be up to a month before I can take the dietitian boards exam I’ve been studying for, so I can be a registered dietitian. I’m continuing to study for the RD exam, hoping to be ready when I’m eligible to take it!

May 7, 2008 – Yesterday, I started my new job as the clinical dietitian for Winston Medical Center in Louisville, Mississippi. The first day consisted mostly of orientation to the facility and a patient care team meeting with the dietitian training me. I will be a dietitian working for Valley Services, inc at the nursing home and small hospital there in Louisville, and will probably work there about 2 days per week, with the other days being filled with my website business ventures and working as needed consulting at other hospitals, etc.
I’m still busy studying for the RD exam to become a Registered Dietitian and hope to take it real soon.

May 14, 2008 – This past Friday I made a trip to Jackson, MS to take my board’s exam to become a registered dietitian. I passed! I was so relieved to have successfully completed the goal I set out to achieve several years ago. So far, I’ve enjoyedCooking with Ellen every minute of being a Registered Dietitian (specifically the part about not having to study anymore!).
I have worked full time so far this week at two different facilities. My new position is as the clinical dietitian for Winston Medical Center in Louisville, MS. I enjoyed going yesterday for my first full day there charting in medical records, assessing the patients/residents body weight and nutritional status, and making recommendations for changes in nutritional care. Monday, I worked as the fill-in dietitian for Monfort Jones Memorial Hospital in Kosciusko, MS. I’ll be filling in for 3 weeks in Kosciusko, then will return to simply working at Winston Medical Center.
I’ve enjoyed being able to finally sign my name in a medical chart as: Ellen Easley, RD, LD

May 21, 2008 –
I’m really enjoying my new job as a registered dietitian!Cooking with EllenThis is my second week working at Winston Medical Center in Louisville, MS and filling in for the dietitian in Kosciusko. In Kosciusko, I’m working at both Montfort Jones Memorial Hospital and the VA this week.
I feel like I am finally getting into charting and learning how to get through the medical record a little faster! I am enjoying meeting and working with people at the nursing homes and hospitals and feel more comfortable with charting each day.

May 28, 2008 – I can’t believe this is my 3rd week to work as a dietitian! Time is really flying by. I am filling in again this week in Kosciusko while still working my job in Louisville. I’ve really grown to enjoy working in the nursing homes. The people there (residents and staff) have been so nice to me and welcomed me from the first day. In Kosciusko, I’ve enjoyed spending time at the VA and the little hospital there. It’s hard to believe that this is my last week to work in Kosciusko. In Louisville, the nursing home and hospital have welcomed me and I’ve started recognizing the residents and remembering their names, which makes me feel more at home.
Besides work, I have enjoyed thinking through some things I’d like to implement on my website soon and would love any feedback or suggestions you may have for my site.

June 4, 2008 – I am still enjoying work as a dietitian. This week I am continuing to work my regular job at Winston Medical Center in Louisville and am also doing some fill-in work at two of the VA Nursing Homes in Oxford and Kosciusko.
An interesting fact about the VA Nursing Homes is that they all have the same floor plan. Therefore I can walk into the Oxford VA Nursing Home and know my way around because I’ve been working at the Kosciusko VA for awhile now.
This past week I changed up the look of my website, so check it out if you haven’t seen it. I think that this way it will be more manageable. I’m still working out the kinks on it, but I think it’ll work real well for me.

June 11, 2008 – This week I am enjoying time filling in at the Oxford VA and working my regular job at Winston Medical Center (WMC) in Louisville, MS. So far, I’ve enjoyed slowing down a little and only working in 2 different facilities this week!
One thing that has meant alot to me at my job is when people take time to make me feel welcome and at home. I’ve had so much fun meeting the residents at WMC and getting to visit with them. Last week, one of my new friends started walking with me from one wing to another. He will introduce me to residents I don’t know, ask how my day’s been, and open the door for me. If you enter WMC, you will probably find him standing at the front door letting visitors and staff in and out, helping the residents by pushing their wheelchairs to and from activities and dining, or standing by the CD player playing his harmonica. Another new friend told me he was going to adopt me (I think he thought I was about 5-10 years younger than I am). He said that he wanted me to feel welcome and appreciated. Sometimes I’ll walk in someone’s room and it brightens both our days when they spend time telling me their story of how they served in the military, things their children said, or how/when they got married or engaged. It’s been really special to make friends and feel welcomed by the residents at the nursing homes and I’ve enjoyed becoming another piece of their life’s story.

June 18, 2008 -Since I started working at the nursing homes, I have had the opportunity to be a part of what I’ve determined to be a dream world. While working in the psychiatric units and alzheimers floors provides some very interesting stories at times, it also provides a time for me to learn more about people who have lived four or more times longer than I have. Many of them, however, are living in a dream world, where they believe they are my age. While this dream world has offered several interesting marriage proposals and offers for nights out or help with my garden, it has also offered an insight into the character that these older individuals possess.
While at one of the veterans’ nursing homes, I watched an elderly man trip and fall. Dutifully, the other residents said to each other, “be careful – we have a man down!” My eyes misted as I thought about the flashbacks these soldeirs probably had to a time when they fought for the very freedom of our nation. I suddenly became very honored to serve these residents who were willing to risk their lives so that I have the freedom to read my Bible, manage my website, work where I want to work, and live the life I desire to have. I became very thankful for the opportunity to work at the veterans’ homes and offer a little brightness into the the “dream worlds” these special individuals now live in.

June 25, 2008 – Tomorrow is my last day filling in at the Veteran’s Home in Oxford, Mississippi. I’ve enjoyed my time here and everyone has been very welcoming to me – Well, except for the one day I decided to wear my Mississippi State University shirt – Needless to say that attire was not welcomed (For those of you who do not already know, Oxford is home to MSU’s biggest school rival, the University of Mississippi). I’ve enjoyed filling in in Oxford but also look forward to having more time to devote to my “Cooking with Ellen” business and website ideas.
Work at Winston Medical Center in Louisville, MS is going well, too. I can’t believe this is already my 8th week of work as a dietitian

July 2, 2008 – First of all, welcome to our new subscribers! I enjoyed working a booth at a local health fair in West Point, Mississippi this past Saturday and had several new people subscribe to the newsletter. I hope you enjoy receiving the newsletter and let me know if you have any questions or suggestions (that goes for everyone!).
Outside of working the health fair, I’ve enjoyed slowing down a little bit this past week. I finished working in Oxford, Mississippi on Thursday of last week, so will just be working at Winston Medical Center in Louisville for this next month or so. So, this will finally allow me some extra time to work on my website to get some things done that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile now, including trying to publish a cookbook!
Happy 4th of July to everyone! Independence Day serves to remind us that freedom is not free, so take some time in the hustle and bustle to remember our soldiers oversees!

July 9, 2008 – This week I am enjoying working at Winston Medical Center in Louisville and working from home the other three days, working on my website and working towards publishing a cookbook! I have wanted to do this for awhile and am now devoting a good bit of time to pursuing that goal. I had no idea how much work it would be to publish a cookbook, but am finding out just what it takes! I hope to have the cookbook sent off to the printer soon, so be looking for a “Cookbooks for Sale” sign on my website in the next couple of months!

July 16, 2008 – This past week I passed the 2 month mark since becoming a dietitian! While passing the test seems like just yesterday, part of me feels like I’ve been a dietitian forever.
I’m still furiously working to publish a cookbook soon, so be watching for updates on that. I hope to have it for sale by the fall via my website. This past Sunday, my dad and I set up a “photo shoot” for the cookbook so that I could get plenty of pictures to use in it (see the pic to the right). We had fun playing in the kitchen and dining room of my family’s new house, taking photos and designing a food “set.”
My whole family seemed to enjoy the photo venture. My seven year old brother seemed to think that all the pretty food looked like the best thing ever. I was amazed at how enticing Chicken Noodle Soup is to a seven year old when it’s placed in a pretty setting. He asked if he could get a fork and “go behind” us testing out the food! Needless to say, we had fun!Cooking with Ellen

July 23, 2008 – I feel like my life these past few weeks has been a “race to the finish line” to get my cookbook published! I’m so excited about it and can really see the whole thing coming together. I’ve had dear friends and family help me out by proof-reading recipes and helping with design work and I really hope the cookbook will turn out well!
Outside of “Cookbooking,” as I call it, I’ve been working at Winston Medical Center, where I finally can say I feel right at home! I’ve really enjoyed interacting with the different patients now on a personal level and feel comfortable with where things are and how to do things. I’ve made lots of friends there (including nursing home staff and residents) and enjoy trying to make a difference in each resident’s life.

July 30, 2008 – Tomorrow is my big self-set deadline to get my cookbook to the printer! I’m so excited and trying to wrap up the last few loose ends before submitting everything. The printing company says it takes about 4-6 weeks to get your cookbooks in the mail, so be looking for info on ordering the cookbooks by the first of September. If there is enough interest, I may go ahead and start some “pre-orders” around the end of August so that I can have envelopes pre-labeled and ready to ship when the cookbooks arrive. I have thoroughly enjoyed creating this cookbook and would like to say a special THANK YOU to the close friends and family members who have been willing to proof the cookbook and help me with the design work. I really appreciate all the hours you’ve spent to help me out!
My work at Winston Medical Center is still going well. I cannot believe that I have now worked there for 2 1/2 months! Time is really flying. At the nursing home, every resident is seen every 3 months by the dietitian to ensure that their nutritional status is staying in good condition. Of course, some higher risk patients are seen every month or even every week, depending on how acutely ill they may be. It is amazing to think that, in about 2-3 weeks (when I reach 3 months of employment), I will have charted on every one of the approximately 115 residents at WMC!View the Cookbook Cover!

August 6, 2008 – This past Thursday I officially completed my cookbook project and got it sent to the publishing company to be printed. I was so excited to have it completed and can’t wait for the cookbook to be ready. Yesterday, I bought the ISBN number and barcode for the cookbook and am trying to iron out a few other last minute details to complete everything. It will be about 2-3 weeks before I will receive my proof to read through and make any last minute corrections, then another 2-3 weeks before the cookbook order will arrive. So, be watching for information about how to order cookbooks on my site.
Speaking of my site, be sure to check it out! We’ve redone the format and added photos from the cookbook.
Tomorrow (Thursday) night, I am doing a healthy back to school special on WCBI-TV (CBS station out of Columbus, Mississippi) to emphasize the importance of eating breakfast and the components that make up a healthy and quick breakfast. If you are in north Mississippi, you can find me on ‘Live at 5’ at 5pm WCBI.
Pictured: The cover of the new Cooking with Ellen Cookbook

August 13, 2008 – Last week, I enjoyed working full-time with my boss, Carolyn Bailey, RD on a menu analysis project. We analyzed different recipes according to their fit with each diet in the hospitals and nursing homes (i.e. someone on a low cholesterol diet would not be able to eat a sausage pizza whereas someone on a regular diet could eat that). We had to code the information into this great big excel document (that reached from line DL across to line 6416 down, for those of you who are familiar with excel). We got every space in the massive document filled in and turned it into the CBORD menu analysis program onn Friday in order for it to print menus for the residents at the long-term care facilities. I also enjoyed working 2 days at Winston Medical Center Nursing Home.

On Thursday, I had such a great time doing the TV segment on WCBI-TV. It brought back great memories to be on TV once again. I talked about healthy breakfast ideas for back to school, the components of a good breakfast, and my grandmother’s Ever-Ready Bran Muffins recipe. The segment helped to bring more than 200 hits to my website on Thursday alone! I was very excited about that!

This week, I’m working 2 days at Winston Medical Center and still working to get all the kinks worked out of the cookbook system. Everything is really coming along great getting the cookbook ready to go. I’m waiting on my proof to arrive from the printing company so that I can proof it and get it back to them to be printed.

August 20, 2008 –
Today and tomorrow I am filling in at the Veteran’s Home in Oxford, Mississippi. It will be so nice to Cooking with Ellen Cookbookreconnect with the wonderful staff and residents here. The rest of the week I am working at Winston Medical Center in Louisville.

I am also still anxiously waiting for the cookbook proof to arrive! I am so ready to see the book in bound format. I’ve been talking with area book stores and checking around online for ways to sell my cookbooks besides just via my website. I’m also still working the kinks out of my own shopping cart within my site.

This Thursday, August 21, WCBI-TV out of Columbus, Mississippi will be airing an interview with me on the evening news program on sports drinks. We filmed the tape on Monday. If you are in the area, be sure to check that out!

August 27, 2008 – Monday was a very exciting day for me! My cookbook proof arrived!!! While this was simply the PDF version of the proof (the real version should come in mail later this week), it gave me a glimpse of how my hard work has started to pay off. It was Cooking with Ellen Cookbookgreat to see the sections in order with the recipes and divider pages designed just like I wanted! So, I will be reading through the proof from now through the end of the week and will then place my stamp of approval (or correction requests) on it and send it back in so that the printing company can get my big order printed and ready! They said it would take about three weeks from the time I return the proof until they print the cookbooks, so start watching for an online order form soon!

On Monday of this week, I went in to work at Winston Medical Center in Louisville, MS so that I could attend a seminar yesterday in Jackson for long term care dietitians. I enjoyed learning about the different laws and regulations affecting dietitians working in nursing homes and hospitals and how to better care for the residents at my facility.

September 3, 2008 – This past Friday I arrived home from work to find my hardcopy cookbook proof had arrived! I spent my free time this weekend looking through the book, noting any small corrections that need to be made before the final version is published.
On Saturday, I walked a 5K Run at the Prairie Arts Festival in West Point, Mississippi. I then looked around the festival before going to help my sister, Amanda Easley Criss, at her booth selling homemade glycerin soaps. She and my brother, David Easley (who sold Ultimate Frisbees) enjoyed selling their products and we enjoyed seeing many friends whom we have not seen in awhile.

September 10, 2008 – I have stayed busy this past week making a few necessary changes to my cookbook proof (I must make sure it is just perfect!) and also getting together some stuff to assemble some “gift sets” which will contain a cookbook, cooking utensils, dish towels, bowls, etc. I am hoping that I can put some of these gift sets on my website as well as sell them at a local crafts fair and maybe even in some stores around the area. It is exciting to be seeing this project come to fruition!
I have also enjoyed spending time working at the Winston Medical Center nursing home. I have grown to absolutely love talking with (and joking with) the residents at the facility! I’ve become pretty good friends with so many of the residents there. I did have one funny story this past week:
An elderly resident stopped me while I was going down the hall by saying, “Aren’t you the dietitian lady?” I said, “Yes, maam, I am!” and she said, “I don’t want any nuts to eat. No peanuts, no walnuts, no coconuts.” Although her diet order already prohibits her from getting the first two choices of the nuts listed above, I had to fight laughing as I tried to explain that coconut was not a nut! I wonder if she would refuse doNUTS as well!

September 17, 2008 – I am still working at Winston Medical Center (WMC) in Louisville two times per week (yesterday and tomorrow) and have enjoyed using my other days to work on home business stuff and spend time with my family. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my cookbooks (now projected to be the first of October, so be watching!).

I have recently begun taking some extra classes to help me stay in shape. I feel that physical activity should be a very important part of each of our lives, so to incorporate activity into my week, I have enjoyed taking on two activities. The first is volleyball. I help out (and play with) a girl’s highschool homeschool volleyball team. There are about 30 girls from the Mississippi Golden Triangle area that meet at the MSU Vet School lawn each Monday and Thursday for volleyball practice. After practice on Monday, I head across town to enjoy an hour of ballet practice at Dance Divine, where I am taking an adult beginners ballet class. These activities amount to four hours of physical activity per week! This is major headway towards getting in my recommended 60 minutes of physical activity on most days, and I have great fun doing both of these things! See, it is easy to get in your workout!

p.s. YES, I will be performing in a ballet recital in December and, YES, I do wear a leotard and tights with a ballet skirt each week for practice and, NO, you are not able to come observe ballet practice next Monday (in answer to the most commonly asked questions).

September 24, 2008 – This has been an exciting week. After spending the past few weeks “tweaking” some graphics in the cookbook, I submitted my “approval form” for the Cooking with Ellen Cookbook this past Friday! I am so excited to see it finally coming to fruition. This means the completed cookbooks should arrive around the middle of October. This is a little later than I had first anticipated, but I am still excited

On Monday, the Cooking with Ellen website got a record number of hits for one day! Needless to say, after 278 hits in one day, I was very excited! Speaking of the site, don’t forget to check it out because I am always changing stuff and adding new posts and information. You can search all of the recipes by typing ingredients or words in the search engine and can also search recipes by choosing different recipe categories in the drop-down menu on the side bar. I find myself often “cooking from the computer” with my
website up because it is so easy and I never misplace my recipe!

Have a great week!

October 1, 2008 – Over the past week, I have enjoyed working at Winston Medical Center and also working from home getting everything ready for the big cookbook shipment. I haven’t quite figured out where I will store 500 cookbooks from the time they arrive to the time I sell them, so am busy trying to clean up my room and closet to be ready for the big shipment. At this time, the publishing company is saying they will be here around the middle of October, so hopefully I will only have 3 weeks or less to wait for them.

Several people have emailed asking about how they will be able to purchase cookbooks when they arrive. My plan is to have a shopping cart ready for “pre-sales” around the next week or two. This way, if you know you want to buy a cookbook you can go ahead and get your order in and your cookbooks will be the first batch to be shipped. Then, when the cookbooks arrive, you can continue to purchase the books via the online shopping cart.

If you live in the “Golden Triangle” Mississippi area (Starkville, Columbus, West Point) and there are several people at your business/office that would like to purchase cookbooks, I’d be glad to deliver them (just please be sure that you have at least 5 or more cookbook orders to cover my expenses). I plan to set up “book sells/signings” at Winston Medical Center in Louisville, MS and on the campus of Mississippi State University. If you are in the area, feel free to contact me and I’ll let you know when I will be there. I will also be doing a healthy cooking demo/presentation with a cookbook sale at the Emerson Family Center in Starkville, Mississippi (probably on November 7th).


October 8, 2008 – I spoke with the publishing company last week regarding when the cookbooks should be in. The lady said that they should call me for the last cookbook payment tomorrow and will then ship the books, with a projected arrival date of October 14th! This is very exciting for me. So, be watching for a shopping cart to appear on my website for you to begin buying cookbooks very soon. I will be offering both cookbooks and gift-wrapped cookbooks, so be thinking about if you have a friend you’d like to share one with! I will hopefully soon have cooking gift sets on there as well.
I will actually not be able to be here when the cookbooks arrive at my house because I am going on a trip to New York with my sister and dad. We will leave on Monday, October 13th, and spend the week in New York, coming home on Thursday, October 16th. So, next week’s newsletter will be sent from NYC! My dad has a business trip in New York, so Amanda and I are going to go with him and will use each day to see the city. I cannot wait!
Thanks to those of you who took the time to take my survey. Today is the deadline for winning a free cookbook, so I will be sure to randomly draw a winner soon. Be sure to be watching your email tomorrow to see if you win! I really appreciate the feedback. It is great to know what people want and don’t want with the newsletter and the website.

October 15, 2008 – This week I am spending time with my sister and dad in New York City. We flew out of Memphis, TN on Monday morning and arrived here that afternoon. After looking around a bit, we went to a reception for dad’s conference. Yesterday, my sister, Amanda, and I went to see sights south of where we are staying. We took plenty of pictures and didn’t buy too much! Today, we are planning to “see NYC” again, then go to Phantom of the Opera tonight with dad. Sadly, we will have to leave for home tomorrow. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in New York!

My cookbooks should arrive at my house today or tomorrow. This is very exciting for me! Don’t forget to check out shop.cookingwithellen.com to order your cookbook! and don’t forget to use the newsletter coupon for 10% off your order: ckngwellen

October 22, 2008 – I loved spending time in New York City with my dad and sister! We had a wonderful time together and I want to go back again. We saw Wall Street, Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, China Town, Little Italy, Sax 5th Avenue, Times Square, Phantom of the Opera, etc… We did some shopping and rode the subway (without getting lost, I might add! 🙂 and really enjoyed ourselves at various NYC restaurants as well (pictured: Me with Matt Lauer (well, sorta, anyway) from the Today Show). Ellen with Matt Lauer

We came home Thursday and my cookbooks had arrived that day. Needless to say, cookbooks is about the only topic I could talk about on the trip and the cookbook boxes were the first thing I opened when I got home! I had so much fun just holding them and looking through them!

If you want to get a cookbook, you can check out shop.cookingwithellen.com to order one! Don’t forget to use the newsletter coupon for 10% off your order: ckngwellen through today!

If you’re from the North Mississippi area, here’s where I’ll be over the next few weeks in case you’d like to pick one up from me:

– October 23-26 – Camp Dixon Statewide Homeschool Campout
– October 27 – SCHE “Superbowl” football game at the Tibbee field
– November 6 – Emerson Family Center, Starkville, MS – I’ll be doing a healthy cooking demo there
– November 13-14 – Mississippi State University Holiday Bazaar, Sanderson Center on the campus of MSU

The cookbooks are also for sale through Auxillary at the Winston Medical Center Nursing Home and Hospital in Louisville, MS.

If people at your place of work in the Mississippi “Golden Triangle” area would like to place an order for several cookbooks (5 or more please, to cover my gas and expenses), feel free to contact me and I’ll bring them by!

October 29, 2008 – This past week has been another busy one for me! I worked on Thursday, then spent the weekend camping at our Mississippi Home Educators Association annual “Camp Dixon” camping trip from Thursday through Sunday. Saturday, I dressed up at the campsite, then drove down to Vicksburg for my cousin’s wedding (Congrats Marcus & Mindy!). I then played in my season finale Volleyball tournament on Monday night (Go ‘God’s Girls’ Team!). Yesterday, I enjoyed a day at work, which seemed rather quiet to me!Cookbook Winner

This week, I’ll be preparing for a healthy cooking demo I’m doing on November 6 at the Emerson Family Center in Starkville, Mississippi. I’ll be talking about healthy cooking on a budget.

My biggest cookbook project so far has been preparing for the Mississippi State Holiday Bazaar. I’ll be having a booth at the fair (note the dates of November 13-14 – this is earlier than usual!) to be held at the Sanderson Center on the MSU campus. I’ve been making some cinnamon dough ornaments to sell and hope to also sell some homemade baked goods through my booth along with the cookbooks and cookbook gift sets. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by!

The cookbooks are also for sale through auxiliary at the Winston Medical Center Nursing Home and Hospital in Louisville, MS. I’m going to donate $1 per cookbook sold through auxiliary back to the nursing home auxiliary program.

Pictured: (left-to-right) our cookbook winner, Janet Ames, my sister, Sarah Easley, myself, and Becky Hill – Janet and Becky work at the MSU library and have both been newsletter subscribers for a long time.

November 5, 2008 – This week has been rather exciting for me! 🙂 On Friday night, October 31, at about 11:45 p.m., I was asked a very important question…Ryan Wallace & Ellen Easley
Ryan Wallace and I have been in a courtship relationship for about 5 months now and Friday night he asked me to marry him. I was so surprised! and speechless for several minutes (well, besides saying “YES!”).
Ryan is from West Point, Mississippi (lives about 20 minutes from my house in Cedar Bluff, MS) and we’ve known each other for about 9 years now. He is a wonderful guy and we’ve enjoyed spending time with each other. I cannot wait to see the Lord continue to work in our relationship and will keep you posted as to dates and such as time goes.
Besides getting engaged, I’ve had the opportunity to place my cookbooks in 4 local retail stores in Starkville and West Point, Mississippi. I’m also in contact with some stores in Columbus and looking at some other places to try to increase cookbook sales. I’ve had fun selling them and am still so proud of the books (that Ryan designed, by the way).
Pictured: My fiance, Ryan Wallace, and me

November 12, 2008 – This has been a very busy week, besides the excitement of getting engaged 1 1/2 weeks ago!
This past weekend through today, I’m working in every spare minute to prepare for the MSU Holiday Bazaar. The Bazaar is tomorrow and Friday (November 13-14) at the Sanderson Center at MSU from 10am to 7pm. I will be selling cookbooks, baked goods, and kitchen gift baskets through my booth, which I believe will be located on the back row within the basketball court area. If you’re in the MS Golden Triangle, be sure to come by – I always really enjoy looking around at the different booths and seeing the hand-made items people bring to sell.

November 19, 2008 – First of all, WELCOME! to all our new subscribers! This past week at the MSU Holiday Bazaar, I had about 40 more people sign up to receive my weekly e-newsletter. I hope that you will enjoy the recipes and cooking tips.
For all of you who receive the newsletter, I’m always looking for new recipes and healthy cooking facts, tips, ideas, etc. So, please be sure to send me any healthy tips you have that would work well for the newsletter!
I had a wonderful time at the holiday bazaar and enjoyed selling cookbooks, cookbook gift sets, and other fun kitchen items. I always enjoy the bazaar, because I get to see friends that I rarely have a chance to see and visit with.

November 26, 2008 – This past week I have stayed busy with both my “real” dietitian job (working at the nursing homes) and my “fun” dietitian job (Cooking with Ellen)…
Last week, I began at a new position as the clinical dietitian at Choctaw County Nursing Center in Ackerman, Mississippi. Ackerman is about 40 minutes from where I live and about 25 minutes from my other job in Louisville. I have enjoyed meeting the people at Ackerman and think I will really enjoy my time working there.
This past Saturday, I went to the Mississippi State game vs. Arkansas (and, yes, we won!). Before the game, I had a book signing with my new cookbooks in front of the MSU bakery. I enjoyed meeting people and here’s a special welcome to the new newsletter subscribers who I met at the book signing there.
This next Friday, I will be having a cookbook signing at Giggleswick in Starkville, MS, so if you’re in the area I would love to see you there. I will be making a recipe from my cookbook for you to sample while signing cookbooks at the store.

December 3, 2008 – I have thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving week. My family left on Wednesday to go to Brookhaven to celebrate Thanksgiving with my mom’s parents, along with her brother, his wife, their 2 children, and their spouses. We had 18 at that Thanksgiving celebration with delicious food prepared by my Uncle and Aunt, Steve and Melinda McBride.
Thursday morning, we traveled from Brookhaven, MS to Port Gibson, MS to celebrate Thanksgiving with my dad’s family. We met at my dad’s parents house and celebrated with his 4 siblings, their spouses, most of their children (my cousins), and my cousin’s children, along with some dear family friends, second cousins, and in-laws. At this Thanksgiving celebration, I enjoyed seeing about 50 extended family members.
I enjoyed spending my Black Friday doing a cookbook signing at the Giggleswick Village in Starkville, MS. Giggleswick has so many fun and unique items, so I enjoyed looking around between cookbook sales.

I pray that each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving – I certainly did and have so much to be thankful for!

December 10, 2008 – Last Thursday, I enjoyed doing a cooking demo for the Louisville, Mississippi Retired Teacher’s Association. I had a lot of fun and met some wonderful people there.
I have been having fun trying out some new Christmas recipes, including the one in this week’s newsletter. I plan to take the Chocolate Covered Snow Peaks to a Christmas cookie swap at a friend’s house this weekend.
I have enjoyed continuing to fill cookbook orders. Make sure you place yours by clicking the “shop” tab from my website. Also, check out the new “Chat with Ellen” function on my website, where you can chat with me if I’m online!
I hope that each and every one of you are having a wonderful Christmas season! Don’t forget the Reason for the season!

December 17, 2008 – This past week I have stayed busy working and getting ready for Christmas.
On Saturday, I enjoyed going to a fellow dietitian’s house for a cookie swap. Pictured, are the dietitians who came to the swap (left to right): Becky Hill (coworker through Valley Services and dietitian for Golden Age Nursing Home in DietitiansGreenwood, Mississippi), Kathy Warwick (private practice dietitian from Madison, Mississippi and one of my dietetic internship preceptors), Carolyn Bailey (The Cookie Party Hostess, my primary internship preceptor, and my boss through Valley Services from Starkville, Mississippi), Renee Matich (one of my Miss State professors during my undergrad), and myself. We had a wonderful time swapping and tasting each other’s cookies and I enjoyed bringing several bags home myself.
We have our church’s annual Christmas get-together at my house tomorrow night. We always look forward to sampling our homemade goodies and doing a “dirty santa” gift swap.


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December 24, 2008 – Well, I hope you are ready for Christmas! It has kinda snuck up on me this year, but I think I am ready for it! I will be celebrating Christmas Eve tonight with my family as well as my sister and her husband. We always enjoy heavy finger foods on Christmas Eve before opening presents from the children to each member of the family.

Tomorrow, we will wake up to opening the gifts from mom and dad before my mom’s parents will be joining us for Christmas lunch, along with my fiance. For supper, I will be going to my fiance’s house in West Point to enjoy Christmas dinner with his family.

Seeing that my family, as well as my soon-to-be-in-laws are all wonderful cooks, I am sure I will be eating very well these next few days!

Be sure to watch WCBI (channel 4) next Monday (December 29th) at 5am to see me cooking again! I’m so excited to be doing the morning segment next week! I’m sure it will bring back many memories (especially the getting up at 3am part)!


December 31, 2008 – Since the last time I sent a newsletter, I have enjoyed a wonderful Christmas! Christmas Eve was filled with gifts from myself and my four siblings to each other and my parents. My sister and her husband joined the rest of us for finger foods and a wonderful evening.Dino Birthday Cake
Christmas day, we woke up early to open presents, then celebrated Jesus’ birth with my mom’s parents, my sister and her husband, and my fiance, Ryan at our home. Christmas evening, I enjoyed another delicious meal at my future mother-in-law’s home and again exchanged gifts there.
Monday was my 8 year old brother, Adam’s, birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ADAM!) and yesterday was my birthday. We celebrated together on Monday night with a dinosaur cake. Adam wanted to include something “girly” with the cake for me, so he decided that we should have the dinosaurs eating and stepping on flowers. I put a picture of the cake I made for us to the right. I thought it turned out really well with the volcano, river, and Adam’s dinosaurs eating my flowers!
This Christmas was very special for me and my family and I cannot believe 2009 will be here tomorrow!

Happy New Year!
May God bless each and every one of you!

January 7, 2009 – This week has been extra busy! My family rang in 2009 with a New Year’s Party on Thursday at our house. We enjoyed celebrating the new year with three different families that are very close friends of ours. We enjoyed black eyed peas and sausage, coleslaw, pork loin, and French bread along with delicious desserts brought by our friends. We enjoyed several games of volleyball, dinner, and a special fireworks presentation.
Friday, I worked at both Winston Medical Center and Choctaw County Nursing Home. The weekend included plenty of activities, and tomorrow I went back to work at WMC for a day of visiting with residents regarding their diets and performing dietitian work.

January 14, 2009 – It has been very nice for me to get back on a real “schedule” again this week. Between Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years, my schedule was so busy I have really enjoyed slowing down a little. Since last week, I have stayed busy catching up, shopping, working, and enjoying time with my fiance, Ryan.

It is hard to believe that I have now been a dietitian for a little more than 8 months! Time has really flown by! In the nursing home setting, I follow up on every resident once every three months, so now I am following up on most of the residents for the third time. Now that I know most of the residents at Winston Medical Center, I have so much fun greeting the residents in the hall by their names and talking with them. I have also been able to learn which residents suffer from chronic depression. I love to see their downcast faces light up when I cheerfully greet them in the hall by their names.

Yesterday, while working at WMC, I spoke with a resident who is deaf. She asked for my name and I said “Ellen” as I pointed to my name tag. She read it aloud, “Oh, you’re Valley!” (Valley Services, inc is the company I work for). So I guess I’ll now be known as “Valley” by some people!

January 21, 2009 – This week, I have stayed busy with work and wedding preparations. We have set the date for June 20th, 2009 and are going to have the wedding in Cedar Bluff, Mississippi at my parent’s home. I am very excited as we get plans underway, as the wedding is 5 months from yesterday! This past Sunday, I enjoyed going to a bridal fair in Tupelo, and this Saturday I’m attending another one in Columbus. I’ll keep you posted as plans progress!

Along with planning and preparing, I’ve been working. Last Thursday, one of the residents at Choctaw County Medical Center in Ackerman gave me a picture he had colored from a coloring book. This was a very special gift to receive that I’m sure I’ll cherish for years!

January 28, 2009 – It is hard to believe that this is the last week of January! Time is literally flying by for me. The last week of every month is normally fairly busy at the nursing homes, getting my monthly charting completed. I worked at Winston Medical Center all day yesterday and will split tomorrow and Friday between WMC and Choctaw County Medical Center.

Wedding planning is still going well. My fiance, Ryan, has been very sweet to listen to our continuing modifications in the development of wedding plans. There are so many things to think about, but we have nearly 5 more months to bring it all together! I really want to enjoy every step of wedding plans – we’ll only be engaged once! The wedding fair in Columbus, MS this past Saturday offered many ideas and help with planning. It was sponsored by WCBI-TV out of Columbus, so I even got to see some of my TV friends!

February 4, 2009 – This past week has been filled with working, a super bowl party, and much more!

Saturday, I took some time to update Ryan & my wedding website, www.RyanAndEllen.net. Be sure to check it out, as it has our whole story, info about us, etc on it. Ryan, my graphic designer, has recently re-done the template and has also set up a guestbook, so be sure to leave us a comment! I am continuing to enjoy wedding planning and preparations.

Work at the nursing homes is lots of fun as usual! The residents are so sweet and I have fun walking with them and visiting as I go from station to station. We recently got a bird cage at Winston Medical Center, so the residents enjoy talking to the small birds!

February 11, 2009 – It’s Valentine week, and romance is in the air at the nursing homes!

It all started last Thursday when I got a marriage proposal at the Ryan & EllenChoctaw County nursing home! An elderly man approached me and asked me to marry him. He’s the same man who recently gave me a picture of a bird he colored. After my initial surprised reaction, I had to turn him down, stating, “I’m sorry, but someone else has already asked me to marry him and I told him YES already!” The man turned around and headed to his room, but not before asking if I wanted to see his new hand held game.

Monday, I was at Winston Medical Center when I found that one of my favorite residents has a crush on another resident! He has been going to the auxillary booth at the nursing home and buying jewelry for his sweetheart who lives a few rooms down the hall. Who knows where this could lead!

For my own romantic story, I’ve continued to update Ryan & my wedding website, www.RyanAndEllen.net. I have stayed very busy planning and even got to register at Belk this past weekend!

Happy Valentines Day!

February 18, 2009 – This past week I’ve stayed busy with wedding plans, presentations, and work. Thursday night, I enjoyed doing a presentation for the Louisville Pilot Club. WELCOME to our new newsletter subscribers from the pilot club members! I enjoyed doing a cooking demo with a healthy cheesecake recipe and nutrition tips for heart health.

Friday, I enjoyed registering for our wedding at Wal-Mart. Saturday, I had fun doing a presentation at Mathiston First Baptist Church in Mathiston, Mississippi for Children’s Ministry Day. It was fun making a fruit dip and fruit kabobs while talking about eating to keep our bodies that God has created healthy.

February 25, 2009 -Wedding planning and work have taken most of my time over the past week! Last Friday, I went with my mom to register at Giggleswick in Starkville, Mississippi. I also worked some on Ryan & my website and continued with wedding shopping over the weekend!

This Saturday, I will be at the Cullis Wade Depot/Barnes & Noble at Mississippi State University to do a cookbook signing before the MSU basketball game. I will be at the bookstore from 2-5pm, so be sure to drop by if you are in the area to say hello!

February has been a busy month and I cannot believe March is almost here. I am constantly reminded to make the most of my time, as the days are just flying by!

March 4, 2009 -This past week has been filled with excitement! Last week started with a Mardi Gras party at Choctaw County Medical Center in Ackerman, Mississippi. The residents at the CCMC nursing home took part in a parade through “New Cookbook SigningOrleans” as they walked down the “streets” (halls of the nursing home labeled for streets in New Orleans) to the dining room to enjoy some king cake. Each resident was adorned with beads, hats, masks, and horns of their choosing as they walked or wheeled through the nursing home to Jazz-style music while being assisted by nursing home staff.

I am not sure I have ever seen so many nursing home residents so happy before. I took pictures of the resCookbook Signingidents and most of them stopped specifically to have their photo taken while playing their part in the Mardi Gras parade. Some of the residents even changed into their Sunday Best to take part in the parade. When the parade was finished, each resident took their seat in the dining room to enjoy King Cake served by nursing home staff. The party was delightful and enjoyed by all!

Saturday, I had a great time at the MSU Barnes & Noble signing cookbooks! I ran into some good friends and met some new faces – welcome to those of you who are new to the list!

Pictured: Book Signing at Barnes & Noble last Saturday

March 11, 2009 – Life stays busy in the Easley household! Time is flying by and I cannot believe that I will be married in less than 15 weeks. This past weekend, I updated Ryan & my website again, so be sure to check that out. We have had about 2000 hits in the past 1 1/2 months, which is exciting for me!

Nursing home work continues three days per week. I cannot believe that I have now been a dietitian for 10 months! My one year anniversary with Valley and for being a dietitian comes in just 2 months – time flies!

This Saturday, I will be at a health fair at the West Point Wellness Connection in conjunction with the hospital. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by.

March 18, 2009 – This past week I have stayed busy with work, wedding plans, health fairs, and more! Last week’s health fair at the Clay County Medical Center Healthplex was a great success – WELCOME to the new newsletter subscribers from the health fair!
This week, I have stayed busy with both my regular job and filling in for two dietitians who are out. Monday, I filled in at Oktibbeha County Hospital in Starkville, MS while one of the dietitians is out with her new baby. I will be at OCH every Monday for the next couple of months. I had a wonderful time working at OCH – I have volunteered and/or interned there for about five years now, so it is really a neat feeling to be a dietitian actually working in the hospital!
Today through Friday, I will also be filling in for a coworker of mine from Kosciusko who is out for spring break. I will be working again at Montfort Jones Memorial Hospital in Kosciusko, which happens to be the very first facility I worked after I passed my RD exam to become a registered dietitian.

March 25, 2009 – Last weekend, Ryan and I crossed 3 months until our wedding in June! It was very exciting but crazy to think of all that we must accomplish between now and then. For those of you who do not know, the wedding will be at our home in Cedar Bluff, Mississippi on June 20th, 2009. We recently built our home and moved in a little over a year ago with several projects left to complete. While we did most of the building/framework for the house, we have hired out some of the jobs such as painting, sheetrock, and cabinets. So, the finishing touches of landscaping, banisters, shutters, painting, etc. Ryan and I are so excited about our upcoming wedding and I even have my first shower this weekend!
In the nutrition world, things are going well. This week, I spent Monday at Oktibbeha County Hospital, yesterday at both Winston Medical Center and Choctaw County Medical Center, today I am off work, and I will finish the week at both of my nursing homes again.

April 1, 2009 – Today I leave for the Mississippi Dietetic Association’s annual convention in Jackson, Mississippi. I look forward to reconnecting with dietitians I have worked and/or interned with, as well as those I enjoy seeing each year at the conference. I hope to gain knowledge related to nutrition and how I can better serve my patients while at the conference.
Last night, my mom and I met with the cake decorator for the upcoming wedding. I had such a great time choosing what style, flavors, decorations, flowers, etc to use. I cannot wait to see how it looks in real life on June 20th!
On Saturday, I had a great time at my wedding shower! I enjoyed time with friends and family and enjoyed planning how I will use each new item I received in our apartment this fall.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be meeting with our wonderful friend, Ms. Judy Burch, who will be altering the bridesmaid dresses and the photographer, my cousin’s wife’s sister, Crickett Oldenburg. I have continued to keep Cooking with Ellen and Ryan and my websites up to date with wedding plans and such!

April 8, 2009 – I had a great time catching up with some dietitian friends of mine at the annual Mississippi Dietetic Association conference in Jackson, MS. I enjoyed learning about various nutrition-related topics during sessions, vendor booths, and mealtimes.

I came home Friday, helped celebrate my future nephew, Jackson’s, birthday on Saturday, and enjoyed time with my bridesmaids on Sunday while getting our dresses fitted and trying different hair styles together. Each girl got her hair done by myself, the other bridesmaids, and/or our wedding director, Amy Lear. We had a great time playing with hair while trying to match the printed off photos of hairstyles I found online.

Yesterday, my cousin-in-law, Jaime, and her sister, Crickett came to our house for a pre-wedding photo consultation. Also, Crickett’s assistant for my wedding, LaTrell, came to hear all the details. It is so exciting to see wedding plans coming together! Only 10 1/2 weeks left! Be sure to check out the Cooking with Ellen and Ryan and Ellen websites as I keep them up to date with wedding plans and such!

7 comments on “What I’ve Been Up To… (Old)Add yours →

  1. Hey Ellen,

    It has been fun to keep in touch with you through your newsletter.

    I have a cooking question for you. Laetly I’ve been reading the ingredients on the products I buy, and I noticed that cream of chicken soup has MSG in it. I have many recipes that call for cream of chicken soup. Is there a good substitute, or do you think a little MSG won’t hurt? I’ld like to hear your thoughts when you have time to respond.

    Tell your family hello!

    Ms. Karla

  2. Wow! You have been very busy. It was interesting seeing what all you have done. Thanks for sharing.

  3. As to the MSG question from Mrs. Karla…

    MSG is monosodium glutamate – note the word sodium – it has lots of salt in it. MSG is used in alot of foods to enhance the flavor of the food. Many people (including myself) seem to be sensitive to this compound (I break out after eating too much MSG). It’s not a terrible thing to eat, but I wouldn’t suggest to eat too much (all foods in moderation).

    My suggestion… look for the 96% fat free reduced sodium version of cream of chicken soup and see if you can find one without MSG. Or, you can always substitute 96% fat free reduced sodium cream of something else (mushroom, celery, etc) soup if one of those doesn’t have MSG. I’d rather buy a low-sodium variety without MSG and add my own salt to taste than buying a product loaded with sodium in the first place.

    Hope this helps!

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