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!