Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dinner, Drama, & Dancing

Last night we went out with our friends Matt & Amanda Hood and Matt & Katie Hulme. One of my tellers at the bank told me that he was in a play; I thought it would be fun for all of us to make a night of it and everyone agreed. We started our evening with dinner at Pompilio's, a Cincinnati area classic. Actually located in Newport, KY (just on the other side of the river), Pompilio's not only has great Italian food, but is also the location of the famous "toothpick" scene in the movie Rainman. This was the first time any of us have eaten there and I think we all loved it. The only complaint I had was that they don't take reservations, so even though we got there pretty early, we were running close on time when we left.
After dinner, we walked a few blocks over for the show. The name of the play was Love, Sex, & the IRS. You'll have to check out the website for a synopsis and some photos. My teller, Brian Richardson, played the IRS agent and he was really funny. Actually the whole show was HILARIOUS, I was laughing hard through the whole thing. The theater was smaller, which made the experience more intimate and helped keep you engaged in what was happening on stage.
After the show, everyone else headed for home, but Sarah and I had more to do. My old boss, Rick Warman, has a blow-out Mardi Gras Party every year. It's always great to get together with current and former co-workers in such a fun and crazy environment. Rick and his wife Jill really go all out for this party with a full bar, tons of food, ice sculptures, DJ and dance floor; and this is all at their home! Since we got there a little later (around 11:30), we were a little tired so we didn't stay too late. Turns out this was a good thing because I feel a lot better today than I ever felt the day after a "Warman Mardi Gras Party."
It was really nice to have a big night out with our friends. I wouldn't want to do quite so much every weekend, but every once in a while is good.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's Your Birthday, It's Your Birthday,

Gonna party like it's your birthday.
Today is my dad's birthday. So cruise on over to Chronicles of Cornville (his blog) and give him a shout out. He's a really cool dad!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Pet Names

Kevin just started reading "My Cat Spit McGee." It's by Willie Morris who wrote "My Dog Skip," and it's about his unlikely relationship with a cat later in life. I read the book years ago, but I remember that Spit was a real character and the book was full of tearful moments (from both laughing and crying). Last night, Kevin read me a paragraph about all the nicknames Willie has for Spit, which (of course) led to a conversation about our pets' many funny nicknames.

Mackenzie, my sweet baby, has tons of names, the most popular being Kenzie. We also affectionately call him Kenzer Benzer, Mack, Mackie Mo, the White Lion, Kenzie Cat, Mr. Kitten, Kitten Face and Cutie Patootie.

Natosha, our independent woman, is most commonly referred to as Toshie or just Tosh. She's also been know to respond to Tosher Bosher, Bosh, Bish Bosh, Boshington, Tiger Lily, Toshie Tooter and Big Beautiful Woman (she likes to strut her stuff!)

Gilmore is Gil most of the time, or Gilly. We also call him Gilly Will, Dottie Dog, Stinky, Stink, Stinker Binks, Border Collie Baby, Doggie Doolittle, Bubby and The Cute's Toots.

Olive can even claim one nickname: Ollie, Ollie Achtung Free!

If you haven't noticed by now, we're crazy animal people. We've even assigned our pets careers, which I'm sure amuses us—and us alone. So what funny names do you call your furry friends?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Guess who's one...

Believe it or not, our baby boy Gilmore had his first birthday yesterday. Here he is just starting out, I can't believe he was so small! It has been one heck of a year, but he has brought so much to our lives and now I don't know what we would do without him.
To celebrate, we went over to Katie's (where it all began) for cake and presents. Since his cousin Valentine is also his biological sister (strange, but true) it was a joint party for both of them. Of course his other cousins were there. Daisy & Snickers got their own cakes, while Lucy & Ringo tried to steal some of Gilly's. Katie had lots of yummy treats for the birthday pups, and Sarah and I got a sweater for Val and a windbreaker for Gil. Click here for photos from the party. Keep in mind, these dogs were trying to eat a frosted cupcake and it was kind of sticking to their tongues. They are not as ferocious as they might look!
Gilmore's first year of life has been full of adventures and education (for all of us). I can't wait to see what next year brings! We'll let you know...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sushi a la Whitman

For Christmas, Katie signed me up for a sushi-making class at The Party Source--a very cool gift! Kevin registered for it too, and it was a blast. We learned how to make maki sushi, drank lots of wine and had tons of sushi to take home with us (so we promptly called Katie and asked her to come over to share some).

Since we usually try to do something together for Valentine's Day rather than buying gifts, we decided to try our hand at making sushi at home last Saturday night. Katie was thoughtful enough to give me sushi rice, seaweed and sesame seeds (the basics) as part of my Christmas gift, so we just needed to buy the main ingredients. We also bought a small rice cooker and a nice mandolin slicer, which will come in handy for lots of other meals. We got all of our ingredients from Jungle Jim's in Fairfield, which was a little overwhelming on a Saturday afternoon. We picked up an inexpensive bottle of wine that the department manager recommended and a few slices of cake from the German bakery, too.

In my opinion, the two tricks to making even basic sushi are time and technique. Although it's not technically hard, there are a few things you have to do right or it could be really frustrating. For instance, we forgot to buy plastic gloves, which you need in order to roll up all the ingredients since the rice is so sticky. We had to use plastic wrap instead, which severely limited our dexterity. Our rolls turned out a little more sloppy than those we made in class, but they still tasted good. We made about eight regular-sized rolls (you get 6 to 8 bite-sized pieces from one roll) with different combinations of spicy shrimp, crabstick, smoked salmon (all the fish was cooked), cream cheese, cucumber, avacado, carrot, asparagus and scallions. It was super tasty, and we got to use the beautiful sushi dishes Dad got for me in Asia a few years ago (we actually use them any time we get take-out sushi).

At-home sushi is definitely a project and not a quick or cheap substitution for restaurant-made sushi. But if you really like sushi and are a little adventurous, it's fun to learn how to make it and to experiment with different ingredients.

Monday, February 13, 2006

feline left out

Kenzie and Toshie have been on me for about a week now because we haven't posted any blogs about them yet. For those of you who know Tosh, I'm sure you realize that she refuses to be ignored. The problem is, they have been doing so well lately we haven't had much to say.
They are such good cats and they are back into taking over the house lately. When Gilmore moved in, they kept to the second floor most of the time. But when winter rolled around they were too cold upstairs so they've been coming down to spend time with us. Kenzie is especially happy now that we have moved the couch next to the heater vent. He can sit on the couch AND stay warm. I don't know what more he could ask for.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Good Luck, Tiny Trev

A little ahead of schedule, our foster dog Trevor has found his way to his new home. Monday Morning Sarah drove him up to the vet to be neutered. Our plan was then to pick him up that day after work and then his "forever family" was going to pick him up Wednesday. However, we found out later on Monday that they wanted to keep him overnight for observation. There weren't any problems, but because he is not a puppy, they wanted to keep him. When Sarah called Trevor's new Mom, Kelly, to let her know about what was going on she volunteered to pick him up on Tuesday as the vet is closer to her than our house. For everyone involved, this made the most sense, but I was pretty disappointed when I realized that we wouldn't really have an opportunity to say goodbye. Another great example of a bittersweet moment. I'm so happy for Trev because I know he is going to have a great life with his family, but the idea of not having him around made us all sad. He was a lot of extra work, but he was worth it. Just look at that face!
A few Trevor-free days later, we have a new appreciation for the single-dog home. Gilmore is so well-behaved and predictable, it has been pretty relaxing. The cats are VERY happy to have their routine back. Trevor had stolen one of Kenzie's favorite spots and he is glad to have it back.
So, looking back at the whole experience I'm really glad we did it, but don't feel like we need to do it again. At least not anytime soon...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I always miss the good ones...

So yesterday I was out of my office for a meeting and I missed the incident of the week.
One of our customers was coming through first the drive thru lane at my banking center. This is the lane that has the drawer that the teller pulls out for the customer to put their transaction in. This particular customer (let's call her "Pat") had to step out of her car to put her transaction in the drawer. My teller was trying not to hit Pat's car door, so she stopped the drawer. As she did this, Pat puts her hand into the drawer and it closes on her finger and scraped it. At this point, I would hope that most of us would say, "Ow, I scraped my finger. That hurt a little, but I guess I shouldn't have tried to put my hand in a moving metal drawer. I'll have to get a band aid when I get home." But not Pat. She proceeds to come into the branch and sits down in my Relationship Manager's (Mary) office. Mary offers her a tissue to clean up the one drop of blood that this accident produced. Mary then asks her if there is anything that she can do for her. Pat says, "I think you need to call 911." After holding back laughter, Mary realizes that Pat is serious and so she calls the local dispatch unit. Paramedics are called to the "scene" and proceed to take her vitals and treat the injury with a regular size bandage. They discover that Pat's primary doctor is across the street and ask her if she would like to go there for further treatment. Pat said, "No, I think I need to go to the EMERGENCY ROOM!" She then asked the paramedics that if they took her to the hospital, would she receive immediate care. They said no, because it is not an EMERGENCY. So Pat gets in the ambulance and the paramedics drive her to the hospital.
So this is what really goes on in the world of retail banking. I love it, but I always hate to miss out on these experiences with my staff.


The most remarkable thing about this past weekend wasn't (believe it or not) the Super Bowl. It was all the great food we cooked, which seems fitting since Super Bowl Sunday is second only to Thanksgiving day in the amount of food people consume.

Friday night, Katie came over, and we made baked tilapia with a fish rub, baked potatoes with butter, sour cream and chives, and steamed broccoli. Basic, but oh so tasty.

Saturday morning, Kevin and I made fried eggs, shredded potatoes, veggie sausage (it's good, I swear) and blueberry muffins, and somehow got sucked into watching the Food Network. Even after our big breakfast, we were drooling over the dishes they cooked up! We needed to go grocery shopping, so we decided to make a big dinner and picked out all new recipes before we hit Kroger. Our dinner turned out amazing, and it sounds a lot more difficult and fancy than it really was.

We had arugula (a peppery salad green) with a lemon vinagrette and fried gorgonzola cheese balls, spinach and chive linguini with a light cheese sauce tossed with arugula, and sauteed shrimp tossed with pesto and mint. We drank the small bottle of Chianti we bought in Italy with dinner, then had some limoncello we bought in Italy after dinner. We rounded out the night with floats made from vanilla ice cream, cream soda, coffee liquor (homemade by my friend Megan!) and amarreto. We actually ate at the dining room table, then I proceeded to fall into a deep food and drink coma.

To balance the sophistication of Saturday night's meal, Kevin cooked up some vegetarian Skyline chili cheese coneys Sunday night for the game, complete with oyster crackers and hot sauce (you Skyline junkies know what I'm talking about!) and root beer.

Sometimes when you plan to make a big meal in advance, you anticipate it so much that it's a bit of a letdown if it doesn't turn out perfect. So when it's spur of the moment and tastes fantastic, it's even more of a treat. Buon appetito!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

the ups & downs of volunteering

Like every other Thursday, tonight we volunteered at the animal shelter (STAF). Usually when we get there we spend the first 5 or 10 minutes get updates on our favorite kitties. Since we are usually taking care of the more "fragile" cats, illness and injury are a regular occurrence.
Tonight when I got to our second room, I noticed right away that two of my favorites were missing. Katsy and Gale Ann were both in the vet room (where they keep any cats that need more constant supervision), so I had to go check on them. I found out they are going to be fine, but I missed seeing them in their regular spots. When I got to our third room, there was a note posted that Silly Billy had passed away on January 24, he had liver cancer that was too far advanced to treat. Fortunately, the rest of our rooms were event free and we even had some kitten additions to one room.
The picture above is one of my hallway favorites, Bette Midler (AKA The Divine Ms. "M"). Here's a link to the other adoptable cats at STAF right now. Be sure to check out O'Conner & O'Shea, the two newcomers to our rooms.
So even with bittersweet nights like this one, after a year of working with STAF, I have to say it is definitely worth it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I have IDD (Internet Defective Disorder)

Do you?

M R I don't know

I saw the hand doctor today, and the good news is that the MRI showed that I don't have a tear in the cartilage between my wrist and hand. That means that I won't have to have surgery. The bad news is that the doctor doesn't know what's causing the pain. The MRI did show some inflammation, so we're going to treat it with prescription-strength Ibuprofin and a wrist splint for 4 to 6 weeks to see if it improves. My wrist is so small, though, that I may have to have a splint made in order for it to work properly (the over-the-counter size small was too big). They're supposed to call me with a cost on that tomorrow. If that doesn't help, the doctor might try a cortisone shot. I'll let you know how it's feeling.