A Reason to Celebrate!

Many of you who have been reading this blog over the past year know that my daughter Kate was enrolled in a graduate program in Nurse Anesthesia that required her to travel for clinical rotations to Columbus and Washington DC. This program crams academic, clinical and research experience into 28 months of 12 -hour clinical shifts, research papers, and do-or-die comprehensive exams. Students live entirely on student loans, 2nd mortgages or on the single salary of a spouse because they cannot work (for pay) and maintain the rigorous schedule required by the program. Does this sound fun?- NOT! In addition to these stresses inherent in the program, Katie was rear-ended in her car twice (once on the way to a comprehensive exam), and had an emergency appendectomy (last year before Christmas). As if this wasn't enough, there were other stresses caused by the program that were entirely unrelated to either the clinical or academic aspects that related to the leadership of this program that made every day in this program an uphill battle and an emotional roller coaster. There were many times that she wanted to quit, walk away because while she knew she was good at what she did and she enjoyed it, she wondered many times whether it was worth the constant stress and strain when the people making decisions were so arbitrary and her clinical skill and academic abilities could not protect her. However, there were very good people at the University who recognized what was going on and supported and encouraged Katie to not give up and fight back. That brings me to a major reason for celebration in the Dowd house- On December 15, Katie graduated with her Master's in Nurse Anesthesia! (Picture above, left-Katie, center with two other graduates, Kelly, left and Holly, right at the Nurse Anesthesia dinner event)

This is not only a major accomplishment for her but for our family and her friends who provided moral support, a shoulder to cry on, piles of documentation, and advice. And of course, besides the formal graduation ceremony, we had to have a party even though this was in the midst of Christmas preparations, because it was truly something to celebrate! (Right- Does she look happy? Bottom Left- Do we look proud?!)

I decided on a Sunday Champagne brunch, open-house style, and invited many of Katie's friends, and our friends and family. While all the Dowds could not be there, it was a great party. Actually, it turned out to be two parties- the first was when the most people came in and out eating, drinking and offering congratulations, and the second when there were a core of friends and family left playing an Apples to Apples marathon! First of all, I have to give a plug to Evite. I am not sure why anyone would want to use paper invitations when this (free)tool is available! I chose an invitation template, entered email addresses for invitees, and then watched as the RSVPs came in. I have never been so organized, and these was absolutely no stress involved.

So now with date, time and invitees decided, how about the menu? I wanted to have dishes that could transition from brunch to lunch, and would stand up to the open house format of the party. (Right- Katie's Uncle John entertains guests with his latest magic trick!) So here was the menu:

Sausage and Cheese breakfast casserole (posted on this blog before)

Fruit Salad (purchased)

Green Salad (The quintessential Dowd salad with raspberry vinaigrette)

Monkey Bread (Katie made this!)

Crab Quiche

Ham biscuits with Honeycup mustard and swiss cheese

Easy Shrimp"Cheese Torte" (Also posted here earlier)

I also made a champagne punch that was very popular, even though it was simple:

Champagne Brunch Punch

1 bottle champagne or other sparkling wine

1 can Goya fruit concentrate (I used peach for one batch and pineapple for the second)

1 liter chilled dry ginger ale (I did this since the brunch was early in the day- if you were having an evening event, you could eliminate this!)

Frozen fruit (I used peaches)

Mix first three ingredients together. Float frozen fruit to garnish and keep punch chilled. Enjoy!(second batch being made, above left-you can see I am not as photogenic as the rest of my family!)

For those of you who have followed Katie's odyssey via this blog -particular thanks to the Columbus contingent - Columbus Foodie and other Columbus food bloggers who extended a welcome to Katie while she was there, and Linda and "Uncle Fred" who saved Katie's birthday when she was in Washington. And for those of you in the Washington DC area, Kate will be taking a job in the Alexandria area sometime in February, and so will be pleased to (and now have time to) commiserate with foodies in the DC area!


Lael said…
Congratulations to your daughter Katie, and thank you for stopping by my blog! Though undergrad study is nothing like nurse anesthesia, I highly anticipate my graduation day and finally experiencing the reward of all this hard work and stress!
happy new year!
Cakespy said…
OOH that brunch punch sounds fabulous, and what a wonderful occasion!! Congrats to your Katie. I really like your blog!
Deborah Dowd said…
Lael- Good luck in your studies- it is a worthwhile investment!

Cakespy- Thanks for checking out my blog and I hope you will be back!
What a great accomplishment! Congrats Katie.And Deborah,what a feast.Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday season! PS-let me know how the fajitas turn out!:)