Saturday, December 23, 2006

Yummy Dinner

Thursday, a magazine called "Eating Well" arrived at my house. I have no idea why I received this mag, but I suspect that it may be a Christmas present that I haven't "opened" yet. I sat down to read it and immediately started flagging lots of recipes that sounded good to me. Last night, I made two of those recipes, Creamy Mushroom and Barley Soup and Honey-Oat Quick Bread. I spent about two hours cooking, but it was so worth it. The mushroom soup was full of flavor, and the bread was sweet and hearty. I'd never made bread from scratch before, but this recipe was super easy. We'll be enjoying the leftovers for lunch today. So thanks, whoever you are, for the thoughtful gift.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday Hoopla

Last weekend officially kicked our the holidays festivities. Friday, my magazine staff went out for a nice late lunch and exchanged gifts. Each year, we do a Crafty Christmas gift swap, and everyone has to make gifts for the other 5 staffers. Kevin and I made 4 kinds of cookies (iced gingerbread snowflakes, holiday biscotti, florentines and Gran's russian tea cakes), which we also gave to our neighbors. Megan gave us mint and rhubarb liquor, which she'd been working on since late summer. Tricia made us little purses/totes featuring pretty iron-on photos she'd taken herself. Carmen made yummy chocolate-amaretto and chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes. Susan made her Aunt Iome's famous iced sugar cookies, plus very hip home handmade thank-you notes. And last-but-not-least, Bryn made Take-Five cookie bars and raspberry squares. It's always so fun to see what everyone makes each year and even how we package everything! After lunch, we went ice-skating at Fountain Square downtown, where a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter interviewed us about skating when it was 60 degrees outside. My quote made it into Saturday's paper, LOL.

Saturday, Matt and Amanda came over for our annual Christmas dinner and gift swap. We take turns hosting it each year, and we try to put together something special for dinner and drinks. This year, we made sushi rolls together, which was a lot of fun. And of course, we served more of those cookies for dessert! It's always so much fun exchanging gifts with Matt and Amanda because we go all out. We also usually celebrate New Year's Eve at the house that didn't host Christmas, so we'll be heading over there to ring in 2007.

Sunday, Katie, Matt, Mom, Michael Seth, Joslyn (Seth's girlfriend), Gran, Kevin and I went to see the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts' production of "A Christmas Carol." The couple next door are the director and choreographer for the theater, so it was fun to go check out their great work. Afterward, we kept it simple and picked up LaRosa's pizza then had our family gift exchange (and more cookies). It was a nice day, and we enjoyed meeting Joslyn. Seth seems so grown up!

This week has been pretty low-key since we had almost all of our shopping, decorating, cleaning, baking and wrapping done by last weekend. I had a work holiday today, so I get an extra long weekend. We'll see my mom and Seth Christmas Eve, then we'll go to the Carusos holiday open house on Christmas day. I also bought all the fixins for a gourmet Christmas dinner today. We'll both go back to work Tuesday, then head up to Edgerton on Wednesday for more festivities with Kevin's family.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lucky me!

This afternoon was my annual branch manager's holiday party for my region at work. We usually do a "white elephant" gift exchange and maybe play some games. Well, it was my day!
My first stroke of good luck was being one of the last people to choose a gift. This is lucky because I can steal practically anything and there are very few people left to steal from me. So I ended up with a bottle of Johnny Walker Black whiskey. Not my favorite, but I know that Matt Hood really likes it, so I'll give it a "shot" and maybe let Matt have some too.
Next we played a "brain teaser" game where we had to figure out the name of a Christmas song based on a picture. I was the only one to guess every one correctly, so I won the pot for that ($21!).
Since I was already feeling pretty lucky, I decided to enter the Texas Hold 'Em tournament (thanks to Matt Hulme for showing me the ropes!). There were three top prizes for winners and I ended up winning third place out of about 11 players! The prize for this was a bottle for Maker's Mark... whiskey. So guess what I'm doing tonight... Just kidding! But they will both be great for all the entertaining we are doing in the next few weeks. BTW, second prize was a digital camera, so I was really hoping for that, but I think I ended up pretty good for one day's work (or play).

Indy Recap

Our weekend in Indianapolis was fabulous! We arrived at The Villa Inn around noon Saturday and had a great lunch at the onsite restaurant. Then we headed down to the spa where Kevin got a men's facial and sport pedicure and I enjoyed a 75-minute hot stone massage (heaven!) and a spa manicure. After that, Liz Truitt stopped by and we hung out with her in our huge but very cozy room. Then we got ready and headed to Mass. Ave. for a little shopping and dinner at Bazbeaux Pizza. Later, back in the room, we popped in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (hilarious!) and fell asleep on the super comfy sofa.

Sunday morning we enjoyed a complimentary full breakfast in the restaurant then headed over to the mall. We spent nearly all our time at H&M, a favorite store of ours that's sadly missing from Cincinnati. We both got lots of stuff there, including little thank-you gifts for Courtney and Alexis (for watching Gilmore), and I got some super-sweet brown pointy-toed boots at Bakers. Then it was on to Kingsway Church where we throughly enjoyed an hour of Christmas songs, then laughed our heads off at Liz in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." We're definitely going to have to rent the movie now. We went out for some cheap Mexican food, then headed back to Cincy to pick up the Gil. Tonnya said he was a good boy and lots of fun, which was a relief. We were all tired, but also relaxed and happy, when we got home.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Weekend Update

I wanted you all to know that MacKenzie made his debut as Pet of the Week at Glenway Animal Hospital this week. He'll actually fill the post for two weeks since this week's pet blew the vet off. I went into the office today and snapped some photos of the Pet of the Week bulletin board (yes I'm a nerd, but you already knew that). His photos should be posted on the vet's website soon. Isn't the bulletin board cute?

Things are in full holiday swing around here. Last Saturday was our annual "get the tree and shop til we drop" day. We took Kenzie to the vet for his photo shoot and fabulous prizes, then we took Gilmore and picked up our beautiful tree, compliments of Melissa Caruso's parents who distrubute fruit and trees. Then we shopped for 9 hours straight, and got most of our Christmas list crossed off. We were dragging when we got home at 8, but we managed to muster up some old-school energy and headed to Longworth's in Mount Adams for Erin Morley's 30th birthday bash. We didn't get home until 2, and we tried to go to Taco Bell on our way for old time's sake, but it way closed!!! Sunday, we decorated the tree and the house and watched "Elf" and "Scrooged" before we passed out from all the fun.

Tomorrow, we're headed to the Villa Inn and Spa in Indy for a little Christmas gift to ourselves. We're going to get some spa services, eat good food, shop and see Liz Truitt in her church's production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." Gilmore is staying with Kevin and Tonnya Boehmer, which should be a treat for him, Courtney and Lexi (and hopefully for Kevin and Tonnya). We'll write all about it when we get home.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Holiday Hootenanny

If you're looking to waste a little time, here are a few fun links that people have pointed me to this week:
Line Rider lets you use your mouse to draw lines and curves and then send a hapless sledder cruising down your creation. (thanks Megan)
Scared of Santa Gallery features photos of kids who are terrified of Santa Claus. It's hilarious, and a few of the Santas frighten me, too. (thanks Doug)
Tree Decorating 101 shows what would happen if cats were enlisted to decorate and tend to the Christmas tree. (thanks Katie)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hiding from the paparazzi

Now that he's the Pet of the Week, Kenzie is forced to hide from the paparazzi in his brother Gilmore's room. Fortunately he has Maury the Moose for protection.

Or he might be just trying to avoid the chaos of holiday decorating.

Either way, he cracks me up!

We finally found it!

Earlier this year, my Grandma Engler gave all of her grandchildren some money and asked us to buy something that would remind us of her. Sarah and I spent a lot of time thinking of what would be just the right thing. We decided that we would really like to have a nice set of vintage china (something we didn't register for when we got married) so since then we've been looking at antique malls for "the pattern." Yesterday we were doing some Christmas shopping and stopped at the Brass Armadillo, a local antique mall. While we were there we found two partial sets of Noritake china, Sarah wrote down the names of the patterns and we decided to do some online research to see how hard it would be to find additional pieces. After some checking this morning, I found a more complete set of the pattern that I really liked for a great price on eBay. So I bought it, some extra dinner plates, and I plan to go back to the antique mall to get what they had there.
We were really going for a mid-century-modern-vintage look and I think we hit it on the mark with this pattern. It is called "Helene" and was made by Noritake from 1955 to 1961. I'm really excited about them and it makes me feel really good to know we can think about Grandma Engler whenever we have a special meal.
As an added bonus, I'm going to be able to install the old kitchen cabinets in the basement so we will have a great storage place for we're not using them!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Crafty Ladies

The F+W Bizarre Bazaar craft show was today from noon to 2. It was a huge success this year with about 20 crafters and tons of patrons. The HOW staff represented with Susan's notecards, Tricia's photo sets and my cat and dog wares. I did more than $100 worth of business, and I sold some more STAF Big Bucks raffle tickets for a grand total of $210 worth of tickets. Plus, I scored a few great Christmas goodies.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Almost Famous

Mackenzie has been chosen as the upcoming Pet of the Week at Glenway Animal Hospital, our vet! We have to take him in Saturday for a photo shoot and for him to choose a free gift. He'll be featured on the website and the bulletin board in the office. Here's a link to the Pet of the Week section of their site. I'll let you know when Kenzie makes his debut.

Toshie was featured in Cat Fancy's 2004 page-a-day calendar (Miss September 7th). Now that the cats have had their 7 days and 24 hours of glory, respectively, we wonder what Gilmore's claim to fame will be.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

String up the lights

It's holiday time at the Whitman home again this year!
I've uploaded all of our Christmas CDs to our iPods and got up the outdoor lights. Here's a photo of their first night up! Next week we get our tree. I can't wait!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Many Thanks

We just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to our wonderful friends and family. This year, you've certainly shown that you're not only there for the fun and laughs, but also to help and bring cheer during the not-so-great times. We're thankful for each and every one of you.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hanky Panky

I'm on vacation all week and, among other things, am making bandanas to sell at our Bizarre Bazaar craft fair at work again this year. I'm making a different style this year, and they're super cute and really nice. They slip onto collars so you don't have to tie them. Gilmore agreed to be my model and struck a few poses in front of the fridge for me. He said to let him know if you need any handkerchief gifts for your canine friends. We have different sizes (even tiny ones that fit cats, too) and lots of styles, including candy canes and snowmen. Next project: peanut butter poochie biscuits and tuna kitty krackers!

What I CRaVe

I picked up my new CRV yesterday!!! I love it! I spent some time reviewing the owner's manual (so that I don't get banned from the car, Mom) and it does a lot of stuff!
Here are the details, per Stan's request.
It is an EX, AWD, 166 HP, black on black.
Some of the big features include power sunroof, six disc CD player, audio input (for my iPod!), power windows, locks, remote keyless, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, ABS, stability control, front, side, and side curtain airbags (front and rear), tire pressure monitor, 8 cupholders, tons of storage spots, a rear passenger conversation mirror, rear seats that slide forward and back and recline, cargo tray, and tons of little things that are very cool.
I have decided to name him Cliff. Cliff CRaVen. It fits.
Sarah's Vibe is named Veronica. She's very spunky.
We're dorks, I know.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Out with the old, in with the new!!!

So this weekend, Sarah told me that if we cleaned up all the leaves in the yard we could go car shopping on Saturday. It was a good goal to set, because our yard was so covered in leaves. Thirty one yard bags later we were on our way to my personal heaven. We went to Subaru to check out the Legacy wagon, Honda to check out the all new CR-V, and Mitsubishi to check out the just released Outlander. I was most excited about the Outlander because it had some neat features, but when we drove it, I was underwhelmed. We ended up adding the Mazda CX-7 to our list, but it was a little high on price and low on fuel economy.
We'd set out on this trip with the intention of gathering information and deciding what to do at some point in the future. But when we got home, Sarah and I were both getting pretty excited at the idea of a new car. I had resigned myself to the fact that I was probably going to have to sell the Cougar on my own to get what we needed out of it. So today I went to the car wash to get it cleaned up. After that we decided to go to another Honda dealership because we were really leaning toward the CR-V, but the one we test drove on Saturday was a different trim level. We made a quick stop at the Hyundai dealership to check out the new Santa Fe, but didn't love it.
I told the Honda dealer that we liked the car, but the other dealer was about $2,000 off on the trade in value of my car. So he asked me to give him a chance to run the numbers. I figured it is always worth it to get a second opinion. Initially he came back with the same quote as the first dealer, so we said thanks, but that's not what we need. So he went somewhere and came back with a more complete set of numbers and a slightly different trade in value. We talked about it, he came back, we told him what we needed, and this cycle repeated itself about three of four times. In the end, he got his number pretty much exactly where I wanted it. Sarah and I talked it over again and we decided this was going to be the right time and the right price.
So... I have a 2007 Honda CR-V EX being prepped for me in the morning. I CAN'T WAIT!!!
I posted a picture of the Old Coug (I really am going to miss her), and the New CR-V. I'll get some pics of my actual car up soon.
I'M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Project Details

Okay, so now that I've had some time to recover, let me tell you about how our project went on Saturday. After I got some of the cabinets put together last week I realized that I was an inch and a half short of space for the corner cabinet, so it would need to be cut down. The corner base cabinet was also about two inches too deep for the space. So my cousin Kevin volunteered to help me cut everything down with some professional tools he had access to. So I headed over there Saturday morning after I had spent the night before verifying my measurements. I was so thankful for Kevin's help. It took about an hour to cut everything down and he did a much better job than I could have.
I made quick stop to Home Depot on my way home and ended up leaving with a new table saw! (See the photo above) I had talked to Stan earlier this week and he convinced me that it was something that I would be sure to use all the time in the future. I decided to get it then "in case" any of my measurements were off. After some "customization" on my corner cabinet I had it up and it was a perfect fit. The only problem I ran into was the fact that our new range hood prevents the door from opening all the way, oh well.
The base cabinet came together pretty easily and slid perfectly in to the space. Then I remembered that I had to install the door on the front. Suddenly my perfect fit was about an inch too wide. Oops! Glad I bought that table saw. I cut it down and it was perfect.
Everything came together pretty well, but it was a full day's work.
On Sunday, Sarah went out for some cabinet accessories. Among other things, she found some lazy susan's that fit perfectly into the corner cabinet. I went to a tailgate party before the Bengal's game so when I got home, I wasn't too helpful.
We've still got some things to do, but it is coming together. I can't wait to get back to Ikea!!!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

What a difference a day makes!

I'm too tired to share any details tonight, but here are some pictures of the (almost) complete kitchen project. Note that we are one cabinet short of completion, but I am really happy with the results. I'll recap my "custom" kitchen experience for you soon!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Happy Veteran's Day!

Happy Veteran's Day (Saturday) to our dads, Katie and Matt. Thank you for your bravery and service. We love you!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Life is Good

Despite having a cold, here are some things that have made this a terrific week: good food and drink with old friends at Bryn's Saturday night, French toast with family Sunday morning, a super-cute kitchen, a handy/motivated/handsome husband, Rummy's resignation, a bio-nephew to be, a healthy pregnant sis, Dems rockin' the vote, Gilmore's brother's myspace page, a sunny 70-degree day, and the return of Twix bars to the F+W vending machine.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Creepy Crawlies

Saturday night, I awoke on my back and felt something on my face. In my half-sleep, I brushed it off then felt it crawl or jump back onto my face. So I grabbed it, squeezed it and heard it go "crunch" before I threw it onto the floor. I actually heard it hit the floor and wondered what in god's name it was. I tiptoed out of bed, went to the bathroom, washed my hands and dashed back to bed without investigating.

In the morning, I told Kevin about my nocturnal adventure before we got out of bed. He said it was probably a dream, but I have a pretty good grasp on sleep vs. awake. So when he got out of bed, I asked him to turn on the light before my feet hit the floor. There lay a spider corpse, big, thick-legged and blackish brown. I was mortified. Needless to say, I changed the sheets and blanket before going to bed Sunday night.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Three cabinets down...

Four to go. Later, possibly much later.
I managed to get three of the wall cabinets up today. It was frighteningly easy to install them. We put the dishes back in one and everything seems to be secure. I'm really happy with how this project has gone to this point.
That corner above the stove is making me a little nervous though. I keep finding little and not so little problems. The newest one is that I'm an inch and a half short on the wall with the stove. I've determined that I should be able to cut down one side of the corner cabinet and it will work. From the outside, it should not look any different. My only concern is that I don't have the proper tools to cut the boards correctly. Anyone got an extra table saw??? After Sarah talked to her dad tonight we've decided that it may be best to set up the range hood to filter the air rather than vent it out. It's not ideal, but will meet our needs for now. We can look into some other options in the future.
I'm about "projected" out for this weekend. I'm ready to go to bed. I may continue the project next weekend. We'll see...

Quick Update...

Today we got all of the painting done and I got the doors installed back on the original cabinets. I also built three of the new wall cabinets and plan to install them tomorrow.
I've hit a few snags in some installation plans, though. It turns out that where I had planned to run the vent for the stove goes directly into a chimney that currently vents our hot water heater in the basement. I'm not sure how that will work, so I need to give it some thought. We've also got some electrical work that we want to do and are considering calling in an expert. I can change an outlet or replace a light fixture, but beyond that I have no idea what I'm doing and I am generally scared of electricity. We want to run a new outlet in next to the stove and need to figure out how to run the power from our old vent to the new one. I'm sure we'll figure it out.
Here's a picture of the painting in progress to give you an idea of the color. It's a little overwhelming right now, but once we get everything installed, I think it will look really good.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Kitchen: Phase 1A

Kevin has sanded and painted all the old cabinets and is now working on stripping the old hinges. We replaced the outer hardware/handles, but newer hinges have a different curve than older ones, so we need to stick with the original ones. We've taken down the cabinets we plan to replace, and now we need to prep the walls a bit before we paint them, as you can see from the photos. Kevin also needs to seal up the old vent (aka, the hole in the wall) and install some new outlets to power up the new vent, the stove and microwave. (My role in all of this: lovely assistant and doer of all other household chores.) Hopefully, we'll get enough prep done tomorrow so we can paint on Sunday. Wish us luck!

Can You Say "Spoiled"?

Inside Job

Aside from the kitchen remodel, Kevin's been busy working on a couple of smaller projects this fall. He put new insulation and paneling in the attic (which you access through the guest-room closet), so we have a lot more finished storage space. And he turned our master bedroom alcove into a walk-in closet of sorts. This may not seem like a big deal to those of you who own newer homes, but in old houses like ours, closet space is at a premium. Previously, my clothes were scattered among a dresser in the master bedroom, a dresser in the guest room and two closets in the guest room. Kevin's occupied a closet and dresser in the master bedroom, underbed storage and the cedar closet in the office downstairs. Now everything fits tidily in our bedroom, where our clothes belong.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Spread Some Love

Save the Animals Foundation, the shelter where Kevin and I volunteer, is having its annual holiday open house from 2 to 5 on Sunday, December 3rd. If you live nearby and want to share some Christmas cheer with our fuzzy friends, please stop by. Kevin or I can give you directions.

In conjunction with the open house, the shelter is holding its annual STAF Big Bucks Raffle. Tickets are $5 each, which seems steep for a raffle, but the prizes are, in fact, BIG: 1st prize is $5,000, 2nd is $2,000 and 3rd is $500. If you'd like to buy a ticket, just send us a check made out to Save the Animals Foundation, and Kevin and I will enter you and mail you your tickets stubs. The drawing will take place on December 3rd or when all the tickets are sold.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Kitchen - Phase One

As Sarah has been indicating, we are working on some updates to our kitchen. Knowing that kitchens and bathrooms are the best way to increase your homes value, we decided to make the kitchen a little more appealing and hopefully a little more functional.
Our house was built in 1940 and the kitchen remains in relatively original condition, save for a new floor, an epoxy treatment over the tilework, and a few "utility" cabinets. Given the layout of our kitchen, we knew that a total remodel would not really give us that much bang for our buck (and a totally new kitchen can mean BIG bucks). We also wanted to retain as much of the historical integrity of the original kitchen as possible. So we decided to keep the few cabinets that are original to the house and replace the cabinets that were added later (they are really ugly and boring). So I decided to play around with Ikea's Kitchen Planner Tool and came up with a solution we were both really excited about. In the corner above the stove, I am installing a corner cabinet, a wall cabinet, and a cabinet over the stove with an exhaust fan. We're also adding a deep cabinet above the refrigerator and possibly another wall cabinet above the dishwasher to replace the pot rack. The piece I am most excited about having and most nervous about installing is a corner base cabinet that will go next to the stove. It extends out of the corner 49" and has a two-tier half-lazy susan. According to my measurements, it is going to be a "custom" fit, but I think I can do it.
As part of this project, I am also painting the existing cabinets to match the new ones and painting the wall a light jadite-green shade (trying to stay in keeping with the 1940's era and complement our red accents). As of tonight, I have prepped and painted the original cabinets and am letting the paint set a little more before putting on the new hardware. I must say, they look, pretty good.
My next step is probably going to be removing the old cabinets. Then we will paint the walls, I'll build and install the new cabinets and we'll be done!
Sounds easy enough. We'll see...
I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Worth Quoting

Katie just found this website with a quote from me: Pink Ink Design. It's from a competition intro I wrote for HOW in 2004, comparing wedding invitations to self-promotion designs. Things I've written about specific projects have been excerpted before, but I've never had anything quoted in such a general and prominent way (especially since I don't write all that much). Interesting.

Sushi Rolls and Rollin' Heads

Our "date" Saturday night turned out to be the classic dinner and a movie, which we actually don't do very often (we tend to do take-out and a DVD). We had sushi, which was divine, at the just-opened Pacific Moon at Newport on the Levee. I hadn't had individual sushi pieces in a while, and these were so big and tender that we shared them, turning 6 pieces into 12 (I hope they didn't think we were just being cheap!). We also had some yummy but eye-watering hot and sour soup and a few sushi rolls (warning: when they say spicy, they mean it!).

After a quick stop at Claire's, where I felt much too old but found some cute headbands, we went to see "Marie Antionette." Both Kirsten Dunst's performance and Sofia Coppola's direction were fabulous. It's definitely not a stuffy period piece--much better than the usual Emma Thompson/Anthony Hopkins fare. It was shot entirely at the Palace of Versailles, so it was cool to see all the places inside and outside of the castle that we visited on our honeymoon (including Marie Antionette's boudoir). That's my favorite place in Paris, and we spent quite a bit of time there in the palace and the gardens on our honeymoon.

The weekend was full, with a good mix of both work and fun. We'll post photos of the kitchen project soon.

Friday, October 27, 2006


I was reading Carmen's travel blog, which inspired me to post a quick update on our lives. We actually did some travelin ourselves last weekend, up to Edgerton to see Keith and Kathy with a mini trip to Canton, Michigan thrown in to visit the brand-new Ikea. Our adorable nieces and nephews had a sleepover with us Friday night and we had lots of fun watching "Over the Hedge" and having a fish fry. We got everything we needed at Ikea for a small kitchen remodel (plus some other stuff, of course) and initiated Keith and Kathy into the hippest housewares store for us budget-wise folks. Sunday, we had an early "Christmas" celebration with the Englers before Kevin's maternal grandma heads to Florida for the winter. It was a fun trip!

Tonight we're headed to Matt and Amanda's for a little TGIF and TGAFGHR revelry (that's "thank god amanda finally got her license"). At age 28, this is a big cause for celebration! Of course, we got her a little package of stuff to pimp her ride. Tomorrow night, Kevin and I have a date. Otherwise, we'll be up to the usual stuff: grocery shopping, laundry, yard work--and installing a new kitchen!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Guess your age, weight, or NAME???

Yesterday Sarah, Katie, and I went up to King's Island to work a volunteer shift for Save the Animals Foundation. Throughout the year King's Island provides several non-profit organizations the opportunity to work their game and food areas, then the organization is "paid" by KI for the time they work. The volunteers also receive free passes to King's Island for a future visit.
So we got there around 3:30 pm to get signed in, go through orientation, and be assigned to our area in games. I had been looking forward to this for a few weeks and kept telling everyone that I my dream job was to work at the "Guess Your Age & Weight" booth. I was pretty sure that they weren't going to give that job to a first day volunteer, but I was hoping. I'd always wanted to find out how they did it, what was their secret. So the three of us get to our assigned areas and our "supervisor" (I think he was about 14 years old) asks if one of us would want to work the "Guess Your Age & Weight" booth! Katie & Sarah both pointed at me and I started jumping up and down. I couldn't believe it, my wildest dream was about to come true. I headed over to the booth to learn this exciting new "skill."
When I got there, I found out that we were also doing "guess your name." Seriously. It was my job to try and guess someone's name. By looking at them. And guessing. Seriously. People were going to pay me $5 to try and guess their name. Seriously.
IT WAS AWESOME! They gave me a few pointers on how to work the crowd as they passed and how to make small talk with my customers. This usually led them to believe that I was playing some kind of Jedi mind trick on them, which I wasn't. I was just stalling until I could think of a name. Guessing names is hard. I usually just thought of people that I knew or names that I thought would be popular for their age range. So this went on for several hours and I was actually doing a pretty good job of getting people to play. Once they saw how easy it was to win, it was totally worth $5 to them. A lot of people actually thought I had some sort of special ability for guessing names. Nope. I sure don't. I was blown away when I finally did guess one right! Her name was Caitlin, but she went by Katie. I guessed Caitlin, but I was so excited that I got it right, I gave her a prize anyway.
But I wasn't just guessing names. Some people still wanted to stick with the classics, age, weight, and month of birth. The month of birth is pretty easy because you only have to be within 2 months, so I got a few of those right. The age and weight were a lot more dangerous. Especially with female customers. I was trying to balance honesty, flattery, and offense. I didn't do so well. I did guess one age just about right, and I actually did guess one weight exactly. One woman won a prize, but probably didn't walk away too happy. I guessed that she was 42 years old (and I thought I was being generous) but she was 32!!! I felt really bad, but she did NOT look one year older than Sarah. Oh, well. Live and learn.
Katie and Sarah didn't have as much fun as I did. Katie was in charge of some virtual reality game and Sarah was in charge of selling tickets for the Days of Thunder go-cart races. Anyway, I had the best time ever. It was so much fun and now I know how the "experts" do it. They just make it up.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Good Ole' Rocky Top

This weekend I
went on a road trip to Gatlinburg with my friends from work. It was my first time in the Smokies, so I have been really looking forward to it. CJ, Erin, her friend Kari, Gina, her husband Jeff, and I all piled into our rental mini-van on Friday and headed out of town. We got to our cabin around 8:30 hung out there until Saturday afternoon, when we went for a mountain hike to a waterfall. Then we went back to the cabin for an afternoon of movies, drinks, and snacks. Which turned into an evening of movies, drinks, and snacks. Sunday we went into Gatlinburg to absorb some of the local "flavor." Interesting. If you are ever in need of a medieval sword or anything airbrushed, look no further! We took in a round of hillbilly golf (guess who lost), a game of laser tag (guess who lost... again), and a round of bumper cars ( I don't think you can lose at bumper cars, unless you don't play, CJ). I know, it sounds like any 12 year old's dream, but we had a blast. We headed for home Monday morning after the obligatory pancake breakfast and a short delay thanks to a leaky bottle of grenadine in the van (not fun).
I had such a good time, it was really nice to get away from life for a few days with some really great friends (old and new). We relaxed, ate way too much, drank way too much, stayed up way too late, and I'm already looking forward to planning our next trip together...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006


I have the best wife ever!!!
I came home from work today and what was waiting for me, but my own little iPod Nano!!!
It is green and awesome.
I have already uploaded the maximum 4gb of music and am listening to it now.
I went to the doctor last week and he told me my blood pressure and cholesterol were a little high and recommended regular exercise. I told Sarah that what he was really saying was I needed a Nano to go running with. Now I guess I have to really start running, but it will be SO worth it.
Thanks, baby. I love you so much...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Where in the world is... Kevin Whitman?

A quick scroll down the page revealed to me that I have not written a post since our birthday party nearly two months ago. Shame on me! What have I been doing with my time? Obviously life must have been moving at such a breakneck speed that I didn't even have a moment to update all of you on what has been going on. Or nothing has been going on at all. I think it must be a mix of the two.
Anyway, I have been spending a lot of time on our iMac. I LOVE IT! For you PC users out there that are afraid to try something new, fear not. Macs are so easy to use, I keep thinking it should be harder. If you are in the market for a new computer, seriously spend some time at your local Apple Store. And if you don't have an Apple Store, come visit us. We do.
So, my favorite new feature is iTunes! I spent about a week transferring our entire CD collection into iTunes. 3,234 songs and 12.72GB later, we have access to every song we own with the click of a mouse. And syncing everything to Sarah's iPod is super easy. Now, I need to get a new iPod nano (**gift idea**, I like the green one). I've had an mp3 player for a few years that I love to use, but I figured out this weekend that it does not work with our music files on iTunes. Stink. So now, I do sort of need that nano...
Anyway, it is visitor week in the Whitman home. Stan and Candy were here this weekend and just left this morning to head back to AZ. Tomorrow my parents will be staying with us on the way down to their time share in South Carolina. Anyone else want to stop by?
So, I sincerely apologize for my lack of posts recently and I promise that you will start seeing more from here on out!

Friday, September 01, 2006


I'm surprised Kevin hasn't already posted about this because he's been like a kid on Christmas morning, but we got a new computer! It's a super sweet 17inch iMac that we'll both share, and it's so pretty! We were both in sore need of computer upgrades, and we decided it was kind of silly to buy 2 new computers. I'm really excited to have a brand-new one, though, because all of my past computer have been hand-me-downs, and the latest one (the iMac we bought for my brother in 1998) was painfully slow compared to the one I use at work.

We also got a new printer and computer armoire, so we no longer have two cluttered desks taking up space in the office. And I got a video iPod (we'll probably share it). I don't have an MP3 player, and it was too great of a deal to pass up (we got it so cheap using Katie's student discount, which we also used to buy the computer, printer and Microsoft Office software).

We couldn't have afforded this purchase without the freelance work I've been cranking out for the last 3 weeks, so thanks Freelance Gods. I finished those articles up earlier this week, which was a huge relief. I thought I would have to do more work on them because what I turned in were technically drafts, but my editor said they were in great shape and didn't require any fine-tuning on my part. I'll let you know when they're posted online.

So now that I'm done with that, Kevin and I will both have some time to play on our new computer (I've been hogging it for article writing and research). Gotta go!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ooh Baby!

Our friends Melissa and Jamiel had a baby girl Friday. Her name is Madison Lynn, and she weighs 8 pounds, 7 ounces. We went to see her at the hospital Saturday, and she's terribly sweet!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Free(lance) at Last

When my friend Darin left “Print Solutions” magazine before the start of the new year, my main source for freelance writing dried up. I had written for him pretty steadily the past few years, which brought in a nice chunk of extra cash. Luckily (thanks to Darin once again) I just scored a sweet freelance gig with a consumer health website that’s launching in October. I’m writing 5 articles for them this month—one on relationships and four on pregnancy—as they stock up for launch, then there should be ongoing assignments (assuming they like the work I’m doing now). They also pay better than anyone else I’ve ever freelanced for.

So if you don’t hear from me much, know that I’m knee-deep in work for the next few weeks. I got these 5 assignments last Tuesday and they’re due on the 29th of August! That’s a tall order for someone who works full-time, but I have a good start. I’ve turned in a pretty complete draft of the relationship story already; I just need to get one more expert quote. And I turned in in-depth outlines for the pregnancy stories yesterday. The trickiest thing about freelancing and working full time is finding time to interview sources during the workday. I’m hoping to line up a couple of interviews in one afternoon and take a vacation day (I can’t work on freelance stuff on HOW’s dime, natch).

Although writing about design and printing isn’t a drag, those subjects don’t exactly make my heart sing. So it’s nice to be writing about women’s health topics, which appeal to me on a more personal level.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Happy Friday

I'm sitting here at work eating tomato bisque from Trader Joe's and sliced cucumbers and feeling pretty darn happy. It's sunny, there's a breeze blowing through the trees outside my window and the sky is a perfect shade of blue with fluffy white clouds. Bryn says on days like this her mom says it looks like the sky has been washed and hung out to dry. I like that thought. It's actually 85 degrees out, but from my vantage point it looks like a warm yet crisp September day when the humidity has left the air and summer is on the verge of segueing into fall. Thinking about days like that give me one of my favorite feelings. After running an incredibly productive but mind-taxing meeting this morning, I was wishing I could leave and spend the afternoon outside. But I think my office weather fantasy is probably even better than reality.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Happy Birthday to US!!!!

Saturday we had our big Two-for-One Birthday Bash at our house. It was awesome. We had a great time getting together with our closest friends and getting to know some of our neighbors even better. Check out a few pictures from the party. Sarah and I had a cake decorating competition, take a minute to check them out and tell us who you would have picked! Liz and Jason came in from out of town to stay with us for the weekend and the four of us spent all day Sunday "recovering" from the party.
So today is my birthday and it has been a great one. My staff got me a cheesecake, some Nerds and Sprees, and a set of sushi dishes, all of which was a very pleasant surprise. I went to lunch with CJ at Kona Bistro (my favorite local lunch spot). Tonight I came home and Sarah had a sushi dinner prepared that we ate out on the deck. It is a beautiful evening and it is nice to spend a night relaxing with my family after such a busy week last week.
Itsmybirthday... woo hoo!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Long time no blog

Sorry you haven't heard from me lately. Time seems to be getting away from us lately, so here's a quick update. Sarah, Gilmore, and I headed up to Edgerton last weekend to visit my family and have a cookout to celebrate our birthdays. Here are a few pictures from the weekend, check out my Mom's blog for a play by play on the weekend.
This week we've been getting ready for our cookout on Saturday. I'm really looking forward to having a great time with all of our best friends. We'll be sure to let you know how the weekend goes.
Hope everyone is doing well and we'll try to keep you up to date as much as possible.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Birthday Recap

Yesterday I turned 31, so I guess I'm officially a "thirty-something" and not just the "big 3-0" anymore. I opened a few gifts in the morning, then went to work. Megan had decorated my office with streamers and signs. We're really busy getting ready to send the October issue to the printer today, so my staff is taking me out for a birthday lunch next Monday. I got calls from all my family members, some of whom sang "Happy Birthday" to me (Grandma Engler was so cute!). The best part of the day was dinner, though: Katie and Matt took me and Kevin to The Melting Pot to celebrate both of our birthdays (Kevin's is July 24th). We had four courses of fondue, which was fabulous. We hadn't been there in three years, so it really was a special treat! Thanks, everyone, for helping me have a great birthday once again!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Superman Returns!

Last night after work I went to see Superman Returns with my friend CJ. It was awesome!!!! I have been waiting to see this movie for about a year and half now, and it certainly lived up to my expectations. I already love the Superman stories, add to that my love of finding out "what else happens" and this movie is a winner. It was a little long, about two and a half hours, but I didn't really notice. It had me riveted to the screen the entire time. An extra bonus that I wasn't aware of until the movie started was Parker Posey as Lex Luthor's girlfriend. She's sort of offbeat, but always entertaining. I haven't made it to the movies much lately, but this one is certainly worth seeing. I won't go into the details, you'll just have to see it for yourself.
Happy Fourth of July!!!

Friday, June 30, 2006


Sorry I've been AWOL for a few weeks. I think Kevin filled you in on everything Vegas-related. For the record, the conference was a huge success and we're getting lots of kudos at the office for another job well done. Unfortunately, it's already time to start planning the next one, and we're still catching up from the week we were all out of the office for this year's.

This was a long week. I had trouble sleeping earlier in the week, which is unusual for me. I've just been draggy at both work and home. I'm so glad it's Friday. I'm taking Monday off, which will be nice. Kevin got a good vacation in Vegas, but I came back more tired than ever. So I can use four consecutive days off. Mom, Katie and I kicked off the weekend with dinner at Bravo Cucina at Union Center and saw The Devil Wears Prada. Dinner was good—not great, but good. And it was nice to see Mom. The movie was good too. Anne Hathaway was so cute and her clothes were awesome! I wish I had clothes like that, but I'm glad I don't have to wear 4-inch heels and run around New York City in them! The overarching theme of the movie was the same as the book, but a lot of details were different, and of course they had to streamline the story line. Katie and I both listened to the book on CD recently (that's my new commute fetish) and really liked it. I recommend the book or the movie.

Mackenzie got his teeth cleaned on Wednesday, which may have been part of why I slept poorly the few nights before. The catch-22 was that Kenzie needs to have healthy teeth and gums more than the average cat because he has 2 heart problems, and bacteria entering the bloodstream from his mouth could make his heart worse or even kill him. On the other hand, he's more prone to problems with the anesthesia because his heart is weak. He did great, though, and I'm glad I did it because they had to extract a tooth that was damaged and could cause a lot of pain for him. I've been anxious about it, though, and am relieved that it's over (he's sitting on my lap and making it very difficult to type right now).

We have some fun plans this weekend, so we'll fill you in soon. Happy holiday weekend!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Vegas, Volume Two

I'll have to get the next set of pics from Amanda (we are so bad at taking pictures, so we decided to just borrow hers). I should be able to show you most of them.
Tuesday Matt, Amanda, and I spent the day exploring the big casinos and shopping of Vegas. We got a 24 hour pass on the monorail system and did A LOT of walking. We went to MGM Grand, Harrah's, The Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesar's Palace, Paris, and Ballys during the day. That evening, we decided to go see a show at the Stratosphere. Before the show we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant at the casino that was surprisingly good. After the show, we intended to go see the fountain show at The Bellagio, but we realized that they stopped after midnight and we got there about 1:00. So we decided to head over to Caesar's Palace and went to Cleopatra's Barge Nightclub (not the best name, but we had fun). Since the monorail closed at 2:00, we couldn't stay long and we headed back to our hotel for the night.
Wednesday we headed over to the Fashion Show Mall because Matt needed some new shoes (he had only packed sandals and couldn't wear them to most of the clubs in town). Since he was getting new shoes, I decided to get some too (they were on sale at Macy's). That night was the big HOW Conference with a theme of "Vintage Vegas" so we all got dressed up and put our dancing shoes on. We had tons of fun and shut the party down at about 1:30.
Thursday morning I got up and headed over to the conference for the closing keynote speaker. I wasn't quite sure that I would make it down, but I was glad I did. The speaker talked about "radical careering" which is basically her theory for getting the most out of your career and taking control of your career path. I really enjoyed it and got a lot out of what she had to say.
After that we headed out to the pool and had lunch with Sarah's staff. Since Sarah had not been able to go to the pool all week, she was very excited to check it out and get a little sun. Since no trip to Vegas is complete without a dinner buffet, we went to the Pharoh's Pheast at the Luxor with Matt, Amanda, Bryn, Tricia, Megan, Susan, and Carmen. After dinner Matt, Amanda, Carmen, Sarah, and I went over to New York New York for a round at the Oxygen Bar. None of us had been to one before so we wanted to find out what it was like. Basically, you sit there for 20 minutes with a tube sending scented oxygen up your nose. It is supposed to give you energy and make you feel refreshed. I can't say for sure that it worked, but I really think it did. We were out LATE that night. After the oxygen, we went down to the casino to play some slots. We settled on the "Wheel of Fortune" and had a blast. Whenever you landed on a "Spin" you got to spin the wheel to win up to 1000 quarters. Sarah spun a few times and was up $20 for a while, but eventually we lost it all. After that we went over to Studio 54 at MGM Grand. Being a Thursday night the party wasn't going too much at that time, but we gave it a little bit of time and it got much better. After a while, we decided we'd had enough of the club scene so we went back to New York New York and went to an Irish bar that had a live band playing. At 2:00 they kicked us out because they were closing and we decided that we were hungry. So we went back to Luxor and had some "breakfast" at the all night cafe. After that, we decided to call it a night and headed to our rooms around 3:30.
Friday morning we slept in (surprise, surprise). We met Matt and Amanda for lunch at the Burger Bar and then headed down to the pool for one more sun session. After that we got ready for dinner. We had decided to make our last night in town a big one and went to Alize, the restaurant on the top floor of The Palms casino. We had probably the best table in the restaurant with an amazing view of the entire strip. We really enjoyed the whole experience, it was awesome. After dinner, we headed over to The Bellagio to see the fountains (they were still on this time) and we got to see two shows. One was choreographed to "Viva Las Vegas" and the other to the theme from "Somewhere in Time." It was pretty cool. After that we called it a night, since we had an early flight the next day.
The trip home went very smoothly and we all had a great time throughout the whole week. I think we've all seen enough of Vegas for quite a while, but look forward to vacationing together again soon!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Vegas Pics

Here are some photos from our trip so far. Some of them might want for an explanation, but what happens in Vegas...
  • Vegas Pics
  • Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Vegas, Volume One

    So far, so good in sunny Las Vegas! We had a delay in our flight out on Sunday, but it didn't set us back too far. Once we got our luggage, got a taxi, checked in, and got to our room; Sarah had to jet off to get things ready for the conference, so I was left to unpack and get us settled. Our room is really nice: shower and bathtub, double sinks, king size bed, separate closets. No view, but that's okay. So Sunday evening we went to dinner with the whole HOW staff at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant, Postrio , at the Venitian. The food, wine, and company were all tremendous. We had a great time and by the time we got back to our hotel everyone was ready for bed. Matt & Amanda's flight got it around 9:00 pm, which was right around the time everyone else in our group was headed off to sleep. I had fully intended to go out with them when they got to their hotel, but that king size bed was calling my name and I succumbed to an early bedtime on my first night in Vegas!
    Yesterday I got up (Sarah was already long gone) and walked around Mandalay Bay (our hotel) to check things out. I met up with Matt and Amanda and we went to breakfast at the Bay Side Buffet (you'll have to ask Matt about the bacon). After breakfast, we headed out for some fun and sun at the pool. It was awesome! They have a huge wave pool that creates a big wave about every three minutes. We had a lot of fun challenging each other to see who could best withstand the power of the waves (Amanda lost). After some good sun time, we headed back to our rooms to get ready for the evening.
    We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at La Salsa in Luxor (the same location as Katie's "rehearsal dinner" two years earlier. Nice trip down memory lane, btw) and headed over to the HOW Conference Kickoff session. We made a quick stop at the casino to put some money in the slots (which we left in the slots, no big wins... yet). Sarah was able to secure passes to the opening session for all three of us, it was great. They kicked it off with a Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin "Rat Pack" tribute trio who were very entertaining. We were in the front row and "Old Blue Eyes" kept making eyes at Amanda and Sarah.
    Before the main speaker got up there, Sarah gave an awards presentation honoring their competition winners from this year. She was pretty nervous about speaking in front of a crowd of four thousand, but you would never have known it to see her on stage. I was so proud of her; she looked and sounded great. I'm really lucky to have the opportunity to get this glimpse into a big part of what Sarah does with HOW. I'm so proud of what she does, not just her public speaking, but being such an integral part of such a huge operation. I see why everyone she works with has such respect for her and so much faith in her talents and abilities.
    The main speaker at the session was amazing. He talked about risk taking in work and integrated that overall theme into his talents and genius in the world of juggling. I can't really do justice to what he had to say and show us, but trust me when I say everyone was blown away and I left with a powerful message that really relates to what they do and why they are here.
    After the HOW stuff, Matt, Amanda, and I headed over to the House of Blues for Rock Star Karaoke, unlike any karaoke you've seen before. They had a limited song list, but every singer performed with a live band! Matt and Amanda both got the crowd going with "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Get This Party Started" respectively. I refrained from hitting the stage with anything, but had a great time rockin' out in the crowd! We left around 12:30 (still a little lame for Vegas) but with the promise that tonight we were going to party much later. So we have planned some nap time this afternoon to get us prepared, what can I say, we're getting old!
    Hope all is well with all of you. I'll try to keep you posted throughout the rest of the week!

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Good Times

    As Sarah mentioned, I had a few social events this week, which seems to be more common for me lately. Thursday I went a Red's game with the other branch managers in my region at the bank. We had a great time, I really enjoy working (and playing) with this group. We've done several things together since the beginning of the year (when my office was moved to a new region) and I've especially been having fun with three fellow managers; Gina, Erin, & CJ (see photo). A few weeks ago we went another ballpark for Erin & Gina's weekly softball league game (with their team of fellow Fifth Thirders, The Bad News Bankers). It also happened to be CJ's birthday that week, so picked up a cake from Piece of Cake Pastry (I LOVE their cakes!!!!). It's always so great to have a group of people that you work with who you can really have fun with, so I'm very happy to be working with these guys now!
    Also this week, I went to a concert with one of my very best friends (who I don't get to see nearly enough) Liz Truitt. We went to see one of her very favorite bands, Nickel Creek. I've been listening to their latest album a lot lately and I really love it. This is actually the second time I've been to a Nickel Creek concert with her, but the first time I wasn't too familiar with their music. The opener on Wednesday was Ben Lee, from Sydney, Australia. I'd never heard him before, but I really liked his music. I'll have to pick up a copy of his new CD soon (or you can pick it up for me! ;-P).
    So tomorrow we are leaving for Vegas!!!! I'm planning to keep you updated while we are out there. I should be able to find the time since my responsibilities will include hanging out at the pool, picking a club for the evening with Matt & Amanda, and putting money in slot machines! Sarah's responsibility list is a little longer, I think.

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Blog Fever

    Check out Kevin's mom's new blog, Kathy's Online Scrabook!

    Here's What's New

    We've had a busy week, so here's the quick and dirty:

    Friday, Kevin's parents came to visit and we went to Outback for dinner then hung out at home for a few hours. Their trip was last-minute, and it was a really nice surprise. Saturday, we went over to Katie's bright and early (6:30!) to have what's becoming our annual yard sale. We had a very successful sale at our house last year, but Katie's entire street was having a sale Saturday, so we held it at her house this year. It was a beautiful day, and we had continuous traffic from about 7:30 to 3:30. We made a decent chunk of change and hauled the rest to Goodwill. That night, Kevin, Keith, Kathy and I went over to Kevin's Aunt Linda, Uncle Greg and Cousin Jon's house for a cookout. We don't see them as often as we should, and it was fun and relaxing to sit outside and catch up with them. They grilled a great meal and have a gorgeous back yard (with a coy pond & fountain--I'm jealous!). Sunday, Katie and I went to Melissa's baby shower. She's due in August and is looking so cute! (We'll post pictures of the weekend to Flicker soon.) Kevin, Keith and Kathy did some shopping, then they headed home and we did some chores, made enchiladas and watched LOST (they're replaying the second season, which we haven't seen--yay!).

    This week, Kevin is Mr. Social. He went to a concert with Liz and her friends Sarah last night, he's going to a Red's Game for work tonight and he's attending a happy hour tomorrow night. I've been busy getting ready for our trip to Vegas for the HOW Conference next week. More about that later. Gotta get back to work!

    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    Another Fun Weekend (Sans the DRAMA)

    We had a lot of fun this weekend with zero incidents of poisoning! Since I've been getting called out for not posting lately, I'll cover this one.
    Friday night Sarah hung out at home with the pets while I took my staff out to a Red's game. I've been fortunate to have a great team (and remain fully staffed) over the last several months and we were all ready for some fun outside the office. Unfortunately, the Red's lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks, but we all had a lot of fun. After the game several of us went to a local bar for drinks and conversation. Hopefully we'll all be able to get out more often over the summer. That is one thing that I really do miss about working in a Bank Mart (the in-store bank branches inside Kroger, I spent about four years in this type of office). I usually had a younger staff who were always up for going out on the weekends.
    Saturday, I spent most of the morning recovering from Friday night. Keep in mind that I've been battling a cold this week, but I couldn't pass up a chance to go out with my crew. Sarah and I decided that we wanted to go shopping to get some things for the HOW Conference and my high school reunion coming up in June. So we headed up to Kenwood, stopping on the way at the jeweler to get our rings polished. I haven't had mine done since we got married and when they brought it out I hardly recognized it! After some lunch at Potbelly, we headed to the mall. I can not tell you the last time we spent the day hanging out at the mall, but we had a lot of fun. Sarah and I both did alright in finding some great deals and we got some new things for the house at West Elm. We stopped at Jalapeno's for some take out and headed home to watch some movies (btw, don't waste your time watching Wicker Park ... boring).
    Sunday, we went over to Katie's to get ready for our big yard sale next weekend. We made a pretty good team working together to sort, price, and rebox everything. Afterward Katie ended up coming over to our house with a slew of movies to pick from and we watched Shop Girl. It's based on a book written by Steve Martin and he also stars in the film. It was good. Different, but we all liked it.
    Monday night we went to see The DaVinci Code with Matt and Katie. We had all read the book and were anxious to see how it translated onto film. Despite mixed reviews from the critics, we all enjoyed the movie. Like any movie derived from a book, it didn't quite live up to the original, but it was pretty close. I won't get into too much for those who haven't read the book, but read it before you see the movie!!!!
    Tonight Sarah is trying out a new yoga class at work, so I'm in charge of dinner. Gilmore and I are working on the menu right now, we're trying to pick out a 30 Minute Meal. He wants peanut butter, steak, and gravy, but I don't think Sarah will like that. I'll let you know how it goes...

    Thursday, May 25, 2006

    Fishy Business

    Last weekend got off to a good start. Unfortunately, it didn’t end as well.

    Saturday, Dad drove down from Pittsburgh to spend the weekend with us. He had business meetings in Allentown, PA, the previous week, and he flew to Pittsburgh Friday night, where he had more meetings this week. The visit to Cincinnati was supposed to be a respite in between. Saturday morning, Kevin and I went to Findlay Market and bought fruit, veggies, cheese, fish and flowers, then headed to Matt and Katie’s house for a cookout. We grilled shrimp, burgers and hotdogs (meat and veggie), played cornhole, played Texas Hold ‘Em (thanks for the lesson, Matt), threw darts and had a great day. The weather was beautiful, and Gilmore had a blast playing with his cousins outside all day.

    Sunday, we cleaned the house, then Dad and Katie came over (Matt had to work). We sat on the deck and ate cheese, crackers, veggies and dip, drank mojitos and got some input from Dad about repairs we need to do around the house. Then we fixed a simple dinner—grilled corn on the cob, a garden salad and grilled fish. The fish was called Escolar and was thick, meaty and oily, so we needed only to season it with salt and pepper. It was a great summer meal. As usual, Kenzie started begging for fish during dinner and Dad gave him a little bit; he threw it up immediately. That was odd, but Kenzie is often sick, so we didn’t think too much of it.

    Near the end of the meal, Katie’s head started hurting and her nose felt stuffy, so she took some Benedryl. Then she started getting hot and feeling nauseated. Soon, her entire upper body—arms, torso, neck, face—turned blood red, her heart started racing, her chest tightened, and she threw up. We were contemplating taking her to Urgent Care since she’s had bad allergic reactions before, when Dad and Kevin both got really hot, started turning red and announced they had pounding headaches too. That was it: We piled into the car and I drove them to Urgent Care. Because Katie was having breathing problems and had developed blisters on her tongue (plus her left arm itched and ached), they gave her an epenephrin shot. Dad and Kevin didn’t officially sign in as patients since all they would have done is give them Bendryl, which they took immediately (along with some Immodium). We were perplexed by the fact that I felt fine, but attributed it to my weekly allergy shots and the fact that I had eaten a smaller piece of fish. Unfortunately, my reaction was just delayed, and it hit me near the end of our Urgent Care visit. The symptoms (including Kenzie’s vomiting) continued for all of us throughout the night. And because the large amount of oil in the fish can’t be absorbed by the human body, we all experienced a very disturbing gastrointestinal side effect that has earned Escolar the dubious title “Ex-Lax Fish.” (interesting article)

    None of us went to work Monday, and Dad delayed his return to Pittsburgh. Based on some very reliable web info, we’re 100% sure we had Scombroid (or Histamine) Poisoning, which is caused by toxic levels of histamines developing in certain types of fish. It usually happens on the fishing boat; it it’s not kept cool to the proper temperature, non-harmful histoids in the fish turn into histamines, which trigger an allergic reaction when the fish is eaten, no matter how long it’s cooked. Scombrotoxin can also develop in other types of oily fish like tuna, mackeral and mahi mahi, and it’s the 2nd most common type of seafood poisoning. Unfortunately, it’s rarely diagnosed or reported properly because most people just mistake it as an allergic reaction.

    I called the fish market and let the owner know about the illness. He said he had some similar complaints about Escolar in the past and had stopped carrying it, but brought it back this year through a new supplier after overwhelming requests for it. Curiously, his regular supplier was out of the fish last week, so he purchased it from a different vendor. He received the fish whole on Friday and cut it himself Saturday morning. He said he’ll rethink carrying it in the future. I also reported it to the FDA, and they said they’ll investigate it and determine whether they can identify the cause.

    Not surprisingly, none of us is eager to eat fish—particularly sushi—any time soon, and we’ll never eat Escolar (or anything else we know little about) again. It was a pretty dreadful way to end the weekend, but it was an interesting adventure.

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Sweet 16

    Last Sunday was Mother's Day/my brother Michael Seth's super sweet 16. Mom, Seth, Katie, Matt, Kevin and I went to the Reds/Phillies game and the Montgomery Inn Boathouse to celebrate. The Reds lost in extra innings, and it was pretty cold and dreary, but our seats were good and we had fun. The new(ish) stadium is really nice. Montgomery Inn was VERY crowded, so we had to wait an hour and a half even though we had call ahead seating. I figured any place would be slammed on Mom's Day, though, and we wanted to go some place special for such a big day. The food was quite good and, although he said he didn't want a cake, I think Seth was tickled when the waitress brought out a chocolate cake and we sang happy birthday to him. We got it from Piece of Cake, the same place Katie and Kevin got my 30th birthday cake. Seth's was just a 6-inch, but it was super tall, which seemed to impress him (along with the chocolate letters that were blue and spelled out his name; he couldn't believe they were blue chocolate). We forgot to take the camera into the restaurant, so here are a few pics from the game and, um, the car.

    Friday, May 12, 2006


    For those of you who were concerned after reading that Kevin slept on the couch with a sick puppy Sunday night, Gilmore is fine. Basically, he had the runs all day Saturday and Sunday, then three times Sunday night. I took him to vet Monday morning, and they gave him doggie kaopectate, an antibiotic and some easy-on-the-tummy canned dog food. They ran a few tests and he didn't have any parasites or worms, or a fever. So he probably just picked up a bug from doggie daycare on Friday or from drinking out of a puddle. Luckily, he never had an accident in the house, and he didn't seem to feel too bad. We just got concerned after 2.5 days and 15+ "incidents" and figured it was more than just a bellyache. He's all better now, though. Gilmore sends many barks and tail wags to all of you who were thinking about him.

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Cute Boys!

    As Kevin mentioned, our friends Jenna and Josh, and their 8-month-old baby, Jacob, came to visit last night. They were traveling from their home in Fort Rucker, Alabama, to Edgerton, where they both grew up, for a week's visit. Josh is an Army officer/helicopter pilot and was stationed in Baghdad at the same time as Katie (they don't know each other, though). Kevin and Jenna were in the same grade and have been friends since elementary school, I believe.

    They had some car trouble (everything is fine) and didn't get here until 9:30, so we had a late lasagna dinner and dessert, then stayed up until about midnight talking. I couldn't believe how good and happy Jacob was after the 12-hour drive! He just kept smiling and smiling. He and Gilmore got along great; it helps that he also has a dog and 2 cats at home! It was really nice to meet Jacob and catch up with Jenna and Josh. The last few times we've seen them have been big group events, so we enjoyed the one-on-one time. And Gilmore enjoyed sharing Jacob's yummy cereal treats this morning!

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Run for the Roses

    I didn't watch the Derby Saturday, but Katie and I did partake in our own rose-related festivities Monday night. We attended a demo class on flower arranging at The Party Source (the same place Kevin and I took the sushi class in January), and learned how to make European hand-tied bouquets. Although we expected to glean more general tips on flower arranging, it was fun to learn how to make these pretty little bouquets that are often used in weddings (and are tres expensive). The class was supposed to be a demo, but it was very hands-on. Plus, we were served a light dinner and got to sample Bloom Reisling and Pinot Grigio, which are both yummy and come in very class-appropriate pretty flowered bottles. Katie and I both did a great job, IMHO. Here's a photo of my bouquet; Katie's was identical, except a little fuller. (The pic below it is of the amaryllis growing on my front porch. I just thought it was too beautiful not to share!)

    Next up, we're doing a demo class on Sensational Seafood on May 22nd. We purchased two demo classes for the price of one, which is a great deal and gives us some girl time together.

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Can't stop...

    I think we are addicted to painting (or maybe it's just the fumes)! This weekend, as promised, we tackled the office. Check out these pictures, we are very happy with how it turned out. We had another whirlwind weekend that included a Cinco de Mayo party at Matt and Amanda's, a FULL day of painting, cleaning, and lawnmowing, more cleaning, decorating and a walking home tour that gave us at least three miles of exercise, and a sick puppy that I had to sleep on the couch with last night. I'd tell you more about it, but I am seriously too exhausted. So this is all you get for now. We'll fill in the details once we have recovered.
    My friend Jenna, her husband Josh, and their baby boy Jacob will be stopping through town to spend the night with us Wednesday on their way to Edgerton, so we'll be getting ready for that too. I can't keep up with myself these days!!!

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Bittersweet Surrender

    It's with very mixed emotion that I've found a new home for Olive. Tonight we took her to the home of Damien, the owner of Arrowhead Reptile Rescue. Damien is going to turn her over to a staffer who specializes in turtle rehabilitation and has a particular affinity for three-toed box turtles like Olive.

    Olive has lived with me for 7 years and, although she's always been healthy, I've never felt that she was thriving or getting very much stimulation. Her diet is supposed to consist of a variety of fruits and vegetables and 50% protein; however, I can only get her to eat sweet, brightly-colored fruits and veggies and have never been able to get her to eat protein, even bugs. Also, she's never really warmed up to me the way most turtles tend to respond to the person who provides them with food. And although I don't hibernate her (I keep her tank lights at the same temp year round), she goes through really sluggish periods and doesn't eat at all, which worries me.

    For a few years, I've felt guilty for owning her at all and wanted to find her a better home (I've learned a lot of bad things about the reptile pet trade since I bought her). But all of the reptile sanctuaries I found online were out of state or just treated wild animals. And I certainly wasn't going to give her to someone who would provide her with any less quality care than I did. Sometimes I felt really guilty for wanting to find her a new home, though, too. I really do love her in an odd way.

    I found out about Damien and Arrowhead through Second Chance Wildlife, which I've been a member of since I took an ailing bird to them several years ago and they tried to nurse it back to health. Damien asked lots of questions about Olive when we met with him tonight and said she looks pretty healthy. Her beak is a little long and her toenails need a trim, but otherwise, she seems fine. He said his rehabilitator will probably fall in love with her and keep her forever (the other option would be to adopt her out to a new, very carefully screened owner). That made my heart feel good. She'll get to spend time indoors and outdoors, hang out with other turtles and hopefully get some of her wild spirit back. It was also nice to see how great of care Damien was taking of other turtles, several snakes and a room full of crocodiles. I was especially sure of the decision I'd made to turn her over to Damien after his revelation that he thinks Olive is 40 to 50 years old!!! Our jaws hit the floor when he told us that. I know turtles can live to be 100, but I thought Olive was closer to 10 or 15 years old. Damien said that's probably why that hibernating instinct was kicking in, so I hope she'll get to hibernate in her new environment (it's tricky to hibernate them in captivity).

    We went ahead and cleaned up Olive's tank tonight and removed all traces of her from the guest bedroom where she's been hanging out. I couldn't bear to look at her empty tank every day. I'm fairly sad tonight, but 100% sure that I made the right choice for Olive. Here's to another 50 years for my sweet little girl!

    HAPPY 5/3 DAY!!!!

    How many companies have their own day named after them!?! Fifth Third does, every year on 5/3. So today we were out in our "spirit wear" (oxfords and polos with the Fifth Third logo embroidered on them) and grilling hot dogs for our customers. Fortunately we had a great day for it, the weather was sunny and about 80 degrees. It's also the day that our annual salary increases take effect, so we all look forward to it with anxious anticipation.
    5/3 also happens to be my Dad's birthday (it must have been "in the numbers" for me to work here)! So be sure to wish him a happy 58 on 5/3!

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Subtle Changes

    So this weekend we decided to tackle the dining room. We took a cue from Susan's "shades of sand" and went with a color called "Gobi Desert." To see it in pictures, you may not notice a drastic change from the white we had before, but we really love the new look (on the first try this time!). It warms up and softens the space and makes it feel a little more intimate without feeling small. We left the red wall and the two colors look great together. Amidst this Saturday project I did a little yard work and finished painting the cornhole set (I used leftovers from the original living room color to paint it).
    Sunday we went to Dilly Deli for a wine and cheese tasting benefit for STAF. It was a nice casual afternoon and gave us an opportunity to talk to some of our fellow volunteers in a public social environment. Afterward we went to Babies R Us to get a gift for our friend Melissa Caruso-Saleh who is having a baby soon! That store is crazy. There is so much stuff for babies. It's a little overwhelming, but it was interesting to see all the things that are out there.
    Finally, we got to round out the weekend with some vegging on the couch and watching the season finale of Lost. WOW! I can't wait to get caught up on season two, but it is going to be hard to have to take it one week at a time when we have gotten used to watching two or three episodes in a row. Nobody give away what happens until we get caught up though (Stan and Katie...).
    Next weekend we tackle the office!

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    Blue, Take Two

    So we painted the living room this weekend. Twice. Actually, four coats of paint, two separate ocassions. Although we loved the warmth of our orange and yellow living room and how cozy it made the room seem (especially on cold winter nights), that room has always been really dim. Plus, we've lived with those colors for 3 years now and thought we'd like a change. I've been grooving on blue lately and suggested that it would look nice with our dark wood furniture and amber lamps, and we quickly decided to try it. Unfortunately, picking the right shade of blue proved much harder than deciding to make the actual change.

    Initially, we picked out a color that was on the very gray end of the blue spectrum. Kevin really liked it, but I wanted something a little brigher. So we bought a much brighter shade, hypothesizing that since the living room was always so dark in the evening when we spent the most time in it (it faces east), the paint color would seem much darker on the walls compared to how it looked under the flourescent lights of Home Depot. We were wrong.

    Saturday we got up bright and early, took Gilmore to doggie daycare to keep him out of our way, and painted one coat of primer and two coats of Ocean View blue paint. We loved the color. For a sweater. Or a vase. Or a purse. It was just too cyan for four big living room walls. And we discovered that part of the reason the room was so dark before was that the orange and yellow paint absorbed a lot of light. The nearly cyan color reflected so much light that it was a little disconcerting even at 11:00 on Saturday night. Plus, it didn't quite pull out the blue in the fireplace as we had hoped, but rather clashed with it a bit. We agreed to live with it for a week without making any changes, though, and loaded everything back into the room.

    Sunday, we decided to run errands all day and thought we might as well stop by Home Depot to look at other shades of blue paint. It was the first and last errand of the day. By 2:00 we were at home with another gallon of paint, one that fell somewhere in between the bright blue that we applied on Saturday and the gray that Kevin liked initially. Luckily, we only had to apply one coat since the colors were relatively similar, and their wasn't much trim work. While it was drying, we took a long walk with Gil to get some soft serve ice cream, re-loaded the room, grilled out and settled into version 2.0 of our newly painted living room. This time, we got it right (we hope you agree; see for yourself here). It doesn't seem like a big difference in the photos, but it just wasn't quite what we wanted the first time around (just ask Katie, who saw it mid-process).

    Next up, we're re-painting the three white walls in the dining room tan, changing the office to gray (no suprise that we never liked the blue in there either), and giving the foyer and hallway a fresh coat of off-white. Hopefully, we'll only be painting those rooms once!