Monday, October 31, 2011

82 Pricks

And no, I'm not talking about a football team.

Today I went in for food allergy testing to determine what I couldn't figure out on my own. The doctor also recommended I get tested for pollens from trees, grasses and weeds since sometimes food allergies can occur from cross-pollination. Overall, I was tested for 82 different species. 82 pricks on the skin of my back. Fun! 

I don't know everything they tested for, but there was a good combination from my list of foods that I ate before having a reaction, common allergen foods, and other items that were close to the foods I listed. This includes rice, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, garlic, corn, wheat, soy, eggs, milk, grapes, sesame seeds, navy beans, shrimp, fish, and chicken. I have no idea what trees, weed, and grasses they tested for other than the ones that came up with very strong positive results.

Before I get to the results, let me explain the process a little bit for those of you who have never been tested for allergies. I arrived at 3:30 and first the nurse numbered my back in columns. 82 times. No big deal. Each test felt like a little scratch, some of which stung a bit right away, and others I could hardly feel at all. I kept imagining the nurse scratching over a mole and that made me feel worse than the actual scratch. 

After all 82 pricks, she asked if it felt itchy. It felt more tingly and burning than itchy, which meant sitting there for the 20 minute incubation period was not that bad. 12 minutes in, the nurse mentioned she was surprised I wasn't itching because she's seen a lot of people with less worse reactions and were going nuts not being able to scratch their itch! Part of that statement made me nervous, but since it wasn't itchy, I wasn't too worried.

Five minutes later, she decided to go ahead with the measuring since I was "reacting so much". (They measure the size of the hives that appear which determines the severity of the allergy). About halfway through the measuring (this was the longest part), I began to feel strange. Like no other feeling I've had before. My heart was beating strangely. Not super fast, but faster than normal, and extremely strong. I felt a tightness in my chest, but nothing too uncomfortable. I kept talking to myself, "should I tell her how I am feeling? Or, should I wait until she is done? Yeah, wait until she is done. I am sure she is almost done. Hurry up! Eek, this is weird. What if I pass out right here? What if my heart stops?!" Scary stuff!! She finally finished and I told her I was feeling strange. She asked me for details and gave me some water and cleaned off the testing sites with water, alcohol and cream. I started to feel OK, but not great.

The nurse wanted to do a second test for the spots that were unclear, which meant pricks THROUGH the skin on my arms. I wasn't looking forward to that and as I sat there waiting for her to gather supplies, I felt worse. A second nurse came in, asked me about my symptoms, immediately told the other nurse to take my blood pressure and pulse. They called off the secondary test and she gave me some liquid antihistamine immediately. The strange heart sensation and tightness subsided almost immediately, but I began to wheeze, sneeze, sniff, and my throat itched so bad, I could barely speak.

Are you surprised!? Yeah, me, neither.

They had me sit in the waiting room until the doctor was ready to review the results. Since my symptoms didn't improve, and actually got worse, the nurse told the doctor what was going on. He suggested I take a regular allergy pill, Singulair, an oral steriod, Prednisone, and a SHOT of epinephrine! YES, a shot right in my thigh! You know, just that stuff people carry around with them when they are having a SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTION!! Literally 3 minutes later, I was already feeling almost back to normal.

So by now its 5:15 and I still haven't learned what is causing my allergies. I wait and wait some more..which at this point is completely fine with me because I am still recovering from all of that and I am oh so anxious to get answers! 



After a mix up with the doctor's schedule (I wasn't on it), I am finally talking to him about the results. There was only ONE positive result for the food allergy tests and....drumroll please....NAVY BEANS! What the hell are navy beans?! And when have I eaten them?! He quickly moved onto the pollens, which sort of ercked me because I was more interested in the foods, obviously. Well, turns out I am "exquisitely sensitive" (yes, his words!) to three trees: Ash, Alder, and Birch. He said those were the biggest reactions by far. Hmm, funny thing, we have a birch tree right outside our bedroom window. Anyway, he asked if I ever thought I had reactions to apples because apparently there is some sort of cross-pollination with birch trees and apples. I told him that sometimes when I eat an apple, my mouth does feel a bit tingly. Ding ding ding! But, this doesn't resolve my other food allergy problem...

So I asked him again, "so no other FOODS?" and he mentioned that there was a slight reaction to soy, corn, and wheat. Alright, more clues! There was corn in some of the dishes I ate, and lots of wheat, so that's something! He said the second step would be to order a RAST (radioallergosorbent test), or a blood test to re-examine the hits for further information. Sign me up!

The rest of the consult was about allergy shots, home air filters, car air filters, closing the doors and windows in the spring and fall, and driving with the windows up. Hmm, most of that list sounds horrid. I was a bit annoyed that he seemed to be pushing the allergy shots, which I am absolutely NOT interested in. And after all, the only reason I even agreed to testing for pollens was for the cross-pollination with foods. 

With that said, I have to get more blood drawn to do the RAST test and then hopefully he will be able to come to more conclusions than NAVY BEANS! Uggg. 

Alright, folks, I think this journey is just beginning!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

These owl cupcakes will make you swoon!

We had a Halloween bake contest at work and I got plenty of inspiration from Pinterest, and landed on making these precious little owl cupcakes. I think they turned out great, and they were a huge hit at the party!! They were super easy to make. I used Double Stufd Oreos for the eyes and Reeses Pieces for the iris and beak. And I used a butter knife to create the owl-like tufts with the frosting!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The best rice dish ever

If there is one recipe you MUST try from this blog, this is it!! I adapted my recipe from  Martha Stewart's, One-pot Curried Cauliflower Rice. Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies, but I hardly eat it because the hubs despises it. One of his favorite foods is rice. Any type of rice, and he'll be happy. The beauty of this recipe is that I get cauliflower and he gets a yummy rice side - all in the same dish! It's easy, fun, and goes with any dinner.

4 teaspoons vegetable oil
As much cauliflower as you want
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced small
1 cup basmati rice (uncooked)
2 teaspoons cumin powder*
1 tsp garlic pepper
1/2 can of chickpeas (or more if you want), rinsed and drained
About 1 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a pot** heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, until browned in spots. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Add 2 tsp oil and onion back to  pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 5 min. Add uncooked rice, cumin, garlic pepper, and chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is coated, about 2 min. Add broth and cream and bring to a boil. Scatter cauliflower over top (do not stir to combine). Cover and bake until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. 

*The original recipe calls for curry powder, but I didn't have any. If you'd rather use curry seasonings, use instead of the cumin and garlic pepper.

**I used a large oven-safe saute pan, but in the future, I will probably try this recipe in my new Le Creuset dutch oven.

Makes 3-4 servings depending on the amount of cauliflower and chickpeas you use.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shucking Corn with Ken

A local AG man teaches us how to shuck corn with ease (and quaintness!) And nearly 4 million hits on You Tube - he's famous! How cute is he?! I am definitely going to use this trick next time I buy corn on the cob!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Saturday marked the inaugural Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k walk in downtown San Luis Obispo. Overall, nearly $30,000 was raised for breast cancer. Can you believe it?! My team, The Boob Patrol, raised $1800 and $710 of that was from my own fundraising efforts!! I want to thank all of you who donated and supported me in my first charity walk! You ALL light up my life!

Linda and Jim Bass
James Dwight
Pat and Margo Friemel
Rachel Higgins and Family
Vicki Higgins
Dorothy Joyce
Bob and Gayle Mallory
Phil and Kellie Martin
Heather Mohr
Nell Rogers
Haleh Sahami
Helya Sahami
Joanna Schafhausen
Kara Warren
Richard and Cathy Wright

Now, for some highlights of the event!

I got there early to help set up and the volunteer booth had lots of yummy breakfast pastries for the volunteers. Well, a homeless man decided to take this opportunity and help himself! He came to the booth THREE times for snacks, balancing a handful of banana bread, bagels, and cinnamon rolls in one hand, and a sleeping bag in the other. One time he came with a plastic bag and nonchalantly loaded it up, taking his sweet time. Normally, I would be appalled at such a bold move, but it was actually entertaining. He wasn't trying to be sneaky about it..just going about his business as usual. He even managed to get a participant sticker and wore it proudly on his sweatshirt.

San Luis Obispo is normally pretty chilly in the mornings, but this day, it was at least 70 degrees by 8am. By the time the walk started, everyone had peeled off their layers and smeared on the sunscreen. Our team wore hot pink boas, which were super fun, but made us incredibly hot and sweaty!!

The morning started out with a welcome message from the event coordinator who is a breast cancer survivor. Then, they invited all of the women up on the stage who survived breast cancer or were in the middle of treatment. It was inspiring, sad, overwhelming, and joyful all at the same time. A couple of the women had survived two rounds of cancer. A  younger woman followed her mom on stage as they battled this horrible disease together. Even though I don't personally know anyone who has struggled with breast cancer, these women really made me feel proud that I was there to help THEM. I walked for breast cancer patients around the globe. I walked for family and friends who have suffered or are suffering from ALL kinds of cancer.

Before the walk began, we did a warm-up routine to Lady Gaga's, The Edge. Four ladies were up on stage leading the "dance" and they were smiling so big! It made me laugh out loud and pause for a moment to take it all in. Hundreds of people, dressed in crazy pink outfits, all shaking their butts. I looked around at all the teenage girls there, and thought, "I hope they are looking at these strong women with admiration!" I know I was.

Along the way, a chatty young girl, probably about 13 or 14 came walking up beside me and said, "you look athletic!" HA! I think that is the first time in my life I heard those words. She also kept yipping and whooping as we passed onlookers and after each woot she'd say, "just had to throw that out there". Yeah, she pretty much made my day.

Friday, October 21, 2011


We bought an unfinished table at a local furniture shop that we thought would be perfect as a printer table in the office. The fun part about buying unfinished, is that you can stain or paint it whatever you want! We choose a dark brown stain that matches the feel of the office and I picked out some cutesy knobs from World Market. The original piece of furniture looked similar to this (of course not the same design, but looked unfinished this way). I am so mad at myself for not taking a "before" picture, but you get the idea.

And the result!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

So Big!

The Mohr family stopped in SLO for a few days during their California road trip adventure. Lucky for me, I got to spend some quality time with my best friend and the cutest baby on the planet. No joke! Harper Lee Mohr is an absolute angel. I couldn't keep my paws off him and he provided entertainment all weekend long. LOVE him.

Just look at that face and those chubster legs!!

And Harper is very smart. When you say, "Harper, you are sooo big! Soo big!" he puts his hands up over his head like this and looks you right in the eye as if to say, "yes, I AM so big!" (Please ignore the construction zone in the background).

And after we all do the SO BIG thing together, we clap, of course! Harper's claps always come with a smile.

We visited the Avila Barn for some fall-time fun and Harper's very first pumpkin patch! The Mohr family dressed up in plaid flannels - perfect for the farm!

Mama and Harper love

Harper wants to put everything in his mouth. Even dirty pumpkins! (But his cuteness got him a FREE mini pumpkin!)

Auntie Jaime loves this guy.

Pumpkin Patch - complete with a hay ride!

How cute is Harper's outfit, with those tiny corduroy pants!

I think he loves corn on the cob as much as his mama! Heather while eating her corn: "Oh my gosh, I am soooo [giggle giggle snort] happy right now!!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Alien Onion

Look at the size of this onion we picked from our garden! I think we left it in the ground too long because it was oober slimy..ew.

Friday, October 14, 2011

This is how I feel about most animals

I had to share this with you because it gave me a good, healthy chuckle and I think you deserve one too! Sometimes these internet videos are funny and make me smile, but this one made me giggle, so there must be something to that, right? If this was me, I'd totally scream too.

"Thank god for that mail truck!"

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I replanted some of the succulents from my wedding bouquet into a giant planter on the patio, and lookie what they've grown into! Flourishing just like our wedded bliss!

America's Next Top Model Man

I love his man pose but I really love that he requested to be photographed next to his baby Acacia. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Growing Garden

When we moved into our house two years ago, the existing garden area was overgrown with weeds, the fence was falling down, and goat heads ruled the dirt. Last year, Steve cleared out the weeds, built a raised bed, and fixed the fencing to keep safe from the deer. This year, we (Steve) expanded the garden to three raised beds with room to grow. Steve has tweaked the garden with better drip systems, beer holders, climbing wires for the cucumbers and canteloupe, and a cute flower bed to add a touch of color. I wanted to share with you Steve's labor of love and how he got our garden to flourish so wonderfully. 

For the record, I do help! I assisted in attaching the climbing racks for the cucumbers (which is very important for space). I shoveled my share of donkey doo for the compost and I save all of the kitchen scraps to add to the compost bin. All of this, combined with store-bought soil makes for the perfect growing dirt. I also weeded the beds a few times in the early stages, and helped tie off rope to the tomato bed to hold up the growing branches (also very want your tomato plants supported as much as possible!) But, best of all, I cook and prepare the veggies! Nom nom nom..

2010 - One lonely bed:


One bed for tomatos, one for various veggies, and one for cucumber and cantaloupe


Bell peppers

Proud papa and his tomatos (and beer shelf!)

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