Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beaming With Pride

If you could see me tonight you would see that I'm so proud I'm beaming. In just about an hour, my wonderful brother is appearing in a short film called "Stage Two" at the LA Shorts Fest. I'm so incredibly proud of him, and yet so incredibly sad that I can't be there to support him and to see the whole film!

He was kind enough to post the trailer for his film on Facebook today, but unfortunately, I can't figure out any way to post it here for your viewing pleasure. I'm not sure if non-Facebook users will be able to watch it, but you can give it a try by clicking here and crossing your fingers. I think the film looks very funny and well-made, but that's just me!

Congrats, my dear brother! Hope you have a great time at your movie premiere tonight!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wary Walking

One of the many things I'm loving about our new house is our new neighborhood--specifically, all of the places there are to walk around here! Back at our old house, because we were one of just a couple of small developments north of the Interstate on the very north edge of the city limits, there were very few options for walking. In order to go more than a couple of miles, we had to cross over I-70. While this was safe because of the nice pedestrian walkway, it wasn't exactly a pretty or pleasant walk. Rather that do it regularly, we generally just took the same 1-2 mile loop every single night.

At our new house, we've taken a different 1+ mile loop every night we've walked, which has been so fun. We've explored new streets and new hills and new areas and new developments and we have a few more loops still left to do. Once I have time to take some longer walks, I'm looking forward to tackling all of the rolling hills up and down Bob Billings Parkway (15th Street, for you old school Lawrencians). However, with all this excitement about walking, there is one slight problem I hadn't imagined until Sunday night: coyotes.

When I met one of our new neighbors on the day we moved in, she mentioned us being so close to the country that it was common to hear coyotes. I didn't think much of her comment, since we'd heard coyotes a couple of times at our old house, but within the first couple of nights we heard the shrill and creepy calls of those mangy creatures closely behind our property. Then on Sunday night, we went out for a walk very late in the evening--apparently too late. We could hear coyotes on our way back towards home, but they sounded like they were coming not from the rural area, but from around the church across the street from our house. Sure enough, as we rounded the corner to our house we heard the yips and saw two little shadowy creatures sprinting around in the church yard. Needless to say, we were a little freaked out. Hearing them and seeing them just across the street--not even 200 yards away--made us incredibly uneasy. We watched one of the coyotes carefully as it came around the side of the building and sprinted off in the opposite direction, but we never saw the second one again. We were crossing our fingers that he didn't head in our direction! With all five of us together, we doubted those coyotes would start any trouble, but we just aren't sure how big of a pack they're running in! Especially since I've now heard a couple of stories from friends and family members about coyote attacks on dogs, I have no plans to walk the dogs at night by myself any time soon!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The New Backyard

Since I found the camera cable over the weekend I have no more excuses for not posting pictures, so I thought I'd share the only ones I've taken at the new house--a few shots of the backyard. What I wish I actually had to share was a video of the dogs the first time we brought them over to see their new house/yard. Right after we got the keys, before any of the furniture had arrived, we brought them over to the empty house to check it out. Since it was about to start sprinkling and Chad had already loaded the back of his Tacoma, we rushed out of the house without grabbing the camera, which was such a bummer because the dogs were absolutely hilarious. With the young and agile Fresco in the lead, they sprinted from room to empty room, sniffing every corner and looking out every window. They ran up and down the stairs and slid across the tile and hardwood like the empty house was a jungle gym. They were so happy, Fresco especially was bouncing from room to room. They got outside and sprinted down the stairs of the deck and ran around the yard in circles, sniffing every little spot and peeing in every corner. They were so funny, and I could have just kicked myself for not being able to capture the moment on video! Unfortunately, by the time they came back later that night, most of the furniture was in place, so the newness and fascination had worn off for the most part!

Regardless, here are just a few shots of the backyard, so you can just imagine the happy puppies I've described. :)

Hope at the top of the steps of our deck.

Celtic is checking out the security of the fence.

I think Fresco is marking his territory.

This is the horizon behind our house.

A beautiful sunset from our back deck.

As you can see, we're pretty much on the edge of town. Being almost rural has brought with it another issue that I certainly hadn't thought of--but that's a story for another post!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Duck Face Mystery

Several of my friends have already heard this story, so if you’re one of them, I apologize for the redundant redundancy. I suggest you avert your eyes and find something else to read so that I don’t bore you to death with a story you’ve already heard. For the rest of you, I thought this tale might be kind of funny and semi-educational.

Let me just give you a little background to start the story. Several years ago I discovered that I was allergic to mangoes after cutting some up at home and eating them straight off the skin—which was a big mistake for me. Being that I’m extremely allergic to poison ivy, and being that mangoes and poison ivy are in the same family of plants, touching the skin of a mango causes me to break out in a poison ivy rash. So picture me learning my lesson by getting poison ivy all over my mouth, which was lovely. Sadly, it took me a couple of times of doing it to figure out the cause! The good news is that as long as I don’t cut up the mango or touch the skin, I can eat as much as I want, which is good since I love mango and pretty much any other fruit known to man.

So back to the present. On the Saturday of moving weekend, I noticed a slight rash on my upper lip, which was similar to the allergic reaction I have to mangoes—only I hadn’t eaten any mangoes. I didn’t think much of it at first, but by Sunday evening, my lip was really getting swollen. When I woke up Monday morning, the swelling had gone up to my eyes and there was a red rash all over my neck, mouth, eyelids and around my nose. I pretty much looked like a freak, and I felt really terrible too. My breathing wasn’t really constricted, but my throat was uncomfortably swollen. Plus, I had tried to combat the swelling by taking Benadryl before leaving for work, and although it didn’t really seem to help my puffiness, it made me about as functional as a piece of spaghetti. Needless to say, I didn’t really get much done that morning.

I was still feeling miserable after lunch, so on the way back to work I stopped by my doctor’s office because they have a handy walk-in clinic. I saw a doctor who prescribed a steroid, but she couldn’t really tell me what it was that I’d had a reaction to, although she did seem to think it was something I’d ingested and not something I’d rubbed all over my face. She mentioned that there were a lot of other foods in the mango family, but she couldn’t really think of any of them off the top of her head. After picking up my prescription and getting back to work, I did some Googling of my own to see if I could track down any potential culprits. I found that cashews are in the same family as poison ivy and mangoes (who knew?), but since I eat cashews all the time, that didn’t seem like a logical food to consider. Then one of my Google searches brought back this post from some discussion forum:

A few years ago I had an allergic reaction to mangoes. My lips became very dried and chapped and a day or 2 later I developed a rash. I had mangoes previously without problems but they had been cut into pieces by someone else. The times (unfortunately it took 2 reactions before I associated it with mango) I had the problem I cut the mangoes myself and sucked every last drop out of the skins. It turns out that the skins of mangoes contain urushiol which is the same toxin in poison ivy. People who are very sensitive to poison ivy often react to mangoes as well. I had a similar reaction a few days ago although not quite as bad. The only new food in my diet was cashew butter.

I did a quick search and to my surprise cashews and pistachios are in the same family as mangoes. The strange thing is I've eaten cashews and pistachios lots of times without any noticeable problems, but this was the first time I had cashew butter. The toxin is supposed to only be in the shell and roasting is supposed to destroy it. I guess some managed to get into the butter. I think I'll just avoid all cashews and pistachios in the future. Has anyone else had a problem with cashew butter? Does anyone know of any other foods containing urushiol? My list of foods to avoid so far is mango, cashew, and pistachio.

This still didn’t really make any light bulbs go on for me until later in the afternoon, when I realized that Chad had brought home a new cashew based granola bar that I’d eaten over the weekend. I rushed home after work and checked the label, and this is what I saw:

See that little banner on the label above where it says CASHEW in red? Sure enough, it's Dipped in Cashew Butter Coating. So the good news is, I think I solved the mystery of what caused my allergic reaction and I no longer look like a duck!

Mind you, this was several hours after I started the steroids, so I don’t look quite as bad as I did Monday morning, but you still get the duck-faced idea.

Oh, and obviously I found the camera cable! :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wedding Surprise

I know I need to actually blog about our new house, or about all of our adventures prior to our move (our trip to Tulsa, Leigh Ann's wedding, San Francisco), or about exciting things in our future (I really don't know what those are yet, but I'm sure there will be some), but tonight I'm just too tired. We spent most of our evening unloading boxes, and while there is still tons and tons and tons to be done, I feel like we're making progress, box by box by box.

Since I have no energy for storytelling (and I can't share any pictures with you since I haven't the foggiest where the camera cables are), I thought I'd share a video that one of my Facebook friends posted today that I just loved. It's so funny, and yet something about it was just so touching to me. I usually don't cry at weddings, but watching these people I don't even know walk down the aisle in their own wonderful way almost brought tears to my eyes! So fun!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Amazing Move

Sorry about the blogging hiatus--it probably goes without saying that we were a little busy over the weekend. Amazingly, although a huge number of our belongings are still packed in boxes in the garage, we are actually feeling very settled. There is a lot of decorating that still needs to be done and a few pieces of furniture that still need to be purchased, but overall, we are incredibly at home. This home was meant to be ours, and we feel so amazingly blessed.

We were able to get settled so quickly because of the amazing friends and family members who came to help us for many hours on Thursday afternoon/evening. Our friends were so awesome, we were able to take the moving truck back more than 24 hours early!! Our friends Dante, Grant, Dillon and Pat, Chad's brother Jonathan and his friend Chris, and my mother-in-law Joanie's husband Rory provided most of the moving muscle. Our friends Heather, Quillen, Kristin and Leigh Ann helped moved tons of boxes, put together and organize furniture, and put away boxes and clothes. Leigh Ann even went as far as to make DINNER for all of our friends who were helping with the move! Joanie was absolutely amazing as well, cleaning at our old house all evening Thursday and most of the day on Friday too! We just couldn't have made this move so easily without our wonderful family and friends!!

While I haven't had a chance to take many pictures of the new place yet, I was able to pull a pic of the outside from a real estate site for those of you who've expressed interest! Hopefully you'll be able to come visit us in person soon!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Counting Chickens

Tomorrow is the big day--the day we all (and by all, I mean Chad and I) have been waiting for. Tomorrow, we should receive the keys to our new house. I'm so excited (and also a little anxious) that I don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight!

I'm anxious because of the two closings that have to happen in the morning before our closing can happen. We actually went and signed all the closing documents already this afternoon, but we can't take possession until our down payment is transferred to the bank, which can't happen until the sale of our house is complete, which can't happen until the sale of our buyers' house is complete! The dominoes are all set up and ready to fall, so we're hoping that the other two agents involved have all of their ducks in a row and everything goes smoothly. We're supposed to pick up the moving truck at 8:00 a.m., and hopefully it will be nearly loaded by 1:00 p.m. when we're supposed to get the keys! I'm so nervous/thrilled/happy/anxious/tired/ready. I can't wait for tomorrow! :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Breaking Guitars

Last week Good Morning America showed this Youtube video, and since it's been viewed almost 2 1/2 million times, you've probably already seen it. It's so brilliant though, it's definitely a keeper. I'd tell you the back story, but the song really tells the story pretty well by itself.

The GMA staff followed up by saying that United had apologized and finally reimbursed the musician, Dave Carroll, for his guitar. You can read the full story here or visit Dave's website here. What a brilliant way to take matters into your own hands!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Since Chad won't let me have a garage sale to get rid of all of our stuff, tonight's activity involved photographing a few of the random items that aren't worthy of moving and then posting them into ads on Craigslist (online classifieds). I only pictured and posted about five items that I thought people might be interested in, and one of those items was a wire dog crate that we used to kennel foster dogs but have since replaced with a sturdier plastic crate. An hour or so after posting the crate, we got an email message about it. Is it me, or is this a little weird?

"I want this if you'll accept a post dated check for the 1st of August or trade for a leather like cool chair......see attached.
Call if interested. I need the crate tonight. If you're interested in this chair, you'd need to pick it up."

Seriously? Is that odd? Maybe not so odd for regular Craiglist people but odd for normal people? She wants to give us a check that would bounce or make us come pick up a fake leather chair tonight? Seriously.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sausages! Sausage!

Since I don't think I'll have time tonight to talk about any of the significant things (Leigh Ann's wedding, our trip, last Thursday's gathering) I've been meaning to blog about, I thought I'd instead share one of the insignificant things (believe me, there are many) I've been meaning to blog about!

Last month I was bragging about a yummy stir-fry dish I made that included some awesome chicken sausages we've been buying at Hy-Vee, but I couldn't remember what brand they were. When we purchased them again last week before having friends over for a BBQ, I remembered to take pictures of the packaging so I could share them with those of you who are interested (or REALLY interested, in Amy's case). ;) Here they are!

I guess the brand is "Al Fresco"? Regardless, my favorites are, in order:

1. Buffalo Style
2. Sweet Apple
3. Red Pepper and something (not pictured)
4. Spinach and Feta (I'm not in love with this one)

Those are the only ones I've tried, but there are actually a few other flavors available as well. I also heard a rumor today that Target carries their own Archer Farms brand of chicken sausages that are really good too!

While we're on the subject of sausages, I have to share my favorite sausage-related video. Chad and I quote this one ALL the time.

Good talk.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth!

Tonight we went out to our friends Heather and Grant's for some terrific food and fireworks. I was a little sad about missing the Baldwin fireworks show that I've grown to love over the last couple of years, but Heather and Grant had some other friends who came out and brought a serious fireworks show of their own. Even though I didn't take my good camera, I still got a few fun shots with my point-and-shoot.

While we were watching people shoot off roman candles, I was reminded of my favorite 4th of July related video from AFV many years ago. Hope your 4th was a little safer than this one! :)

Friday, July 03, 2009

Productive Packing and Purging

I'm tired. It's been a very long day after a late night--a night that I'll definitely blog about as soon as I get the chance. This post, however, will be more of an official announcement: we're moving!! We had the inspection on our new house this week and also received the inspection report on our current house, and neither turned up anything surprising or significant. Both appraisals have also been done and neither caused the wheels to fall off either deal. Since we are still scheduled to close on all three houses in the transaction on July 16th, we made the most of our lovely day off and started packing!

Since we've lived in this house since early 1998, you can probably imagine how much crap has accumulated in the closets and cupboards over the last 11 years. It's really quite ridiculous. I'm thinking we should have a garage sale, but instead of actually taking the time to price everything we should just give it away. Do you think anyone would come to a giveaway in our driveway? Like dumpster diving without the dumpster? Would that be completely weird?

It feels good to get rid of junk we're not using and will likely never miss, and while we were purging, we definitely got a bunch of packing done as well! In our first packing day, I filled all these boxes!

Chad worked downstairs all day and has about the same number of boxes in our basement, so it was a super productive day! It's a good thing, since we have just 13 days until closing, and only about 36 hours after closing to vacate our house. Exciting stuff! :)