Saturday, December 27, 2008

Long Time, No Blog

Well folks, I know it has been ages since the last blog update. I sincerely apologize for this. It is no one's fault, but my own. In Nickel news, Justin and I both finished up our finals and are loving our vacation from work and school. We started our holiday adventure by bearing the winter elements and heading to Ames for an overnight pit-stop before heading to the northern tundra known as Manley, IA. We thought we were really out-smarting the weather by leaving the night before, but had to hurl through regardless. It was a very lovely and cold Christmas with the Nickel/Whitehurst/Petersen clan. Next stop, was the Duree/Owen/Nickel Christmas in West Des Moines. Again, the weather was cold and there was plenty of blowing snow. Later that afternoon, we drove through more blowing snow which had practically drifted over the highways and had our final Christmas stop in State Center for the Duree/Nickel Christmas. It really began to feel that no matter where our car turned, the wind changed and blew snow against our vehicle. Weather aside, it has been a wonderful Christmas and we truly feel blessed to have such great families. Happy Holidays to all and a huge thanks to my friend Sam for navigating us through some of the winter weather conditions we endured on our way to Iowa.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Legendary Bull Riders

My sisters Erin and Amy came down for a weekend full of fun. We decided to hit The Legends for some shopping and bull riding. The Legends is a new outdoor shopping facility located near the Kansas Speedway. There are all these great restaurants, including Sattle Ranch and the legendary machanical bull. Gotta love living in Kansas! Later we came back to my place and trimmed the Christmas tree and had a lovely pre-Thanksgiving feast. More pictures will come, but I thought you all might enjoy these first.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Deck the Halls?

After getting pumped about fall festivities last weekend, I decorated our fireplace with bittersweet and a pumpkin. Really, this should have been done like two months ago when we moved into our home. I say this because with the weather changing and all the commercials about the Holidays, I now want to put up all of our Christmas decorations. Is it to early I ask? We never really got into decorating for any holiday until about three years ago when I worked an extra job at Bath & Body Works/ White Barn Candle Company. Yes the fine art of selling scents and wax, as my good friend Sam once said. It was a fantastic job. Maybe it was the fumes that made it so enjoyable. The other funny things was the realization that one cannot help in any retail position to be thinking about a holiday months before the holiday actually occurs. I believe I put up fall decorations in August that year and was already priming the home for Christmas right after Halloween. Overall, I must say the season only comes once a year. Thus we must relish in the moments and signs of the season life has to offer. Up goes the tree!

Friday, October 31, 2008


Yes, the best of Jack Sparrow. Well, at least the best I can do. Justin played a much better pirate of the Johnson county than I today. His whole work team dressed as mighty pirates. Yarrr! The gote was too much fun to pass by, so we alternated between trick-or-treaters this evening. We wish everyone a safe and Happy Halloween! Yarrr!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Much a do about not nothing

So after the snake incident, there has been much a do about researching snakes. I did my research later that evening only to find venomous news. I compared pictures to our squiggly friend and concluded maybe he/she was a rattle snake. Justin being the resourceful engineer he is, sent the picture to the Kansas Herpalogical Society's Vice President and discovered it was a rat snake. If any of you have different thoughts or can identify the snake, please comment. I'm not sure who to believe, but either way I don't like it. If the snake is found in the driveway or garage again it will get run over by my car while I am protected from bites and venom.

On a happier note, our weekend was spent in Creston, Iowa for Justin's sister's wedding shower. We stayed with our good friends the Kenyons. While we did not get much sleep as young children under the age of three have very different sleeping patterns, it was a fabulous weekend. Jacqueline picked out the perfect pumpkin. I wish we would have gotten a picture. Trust me, it really had lots of character. Many thanks to our good friends! We love you guys!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


If you look very closely, you can see a snake charging at my camera. I could clearly see the little fellow in my garage when arriving home this evening. He was a fierce little sucker really. This all occured after Justin had come home early for the arrival of our new washer and dryer. Yes my friends, the washer and dryer rock! I could go on and on about the washing and drying capacity and literally how quiet both machines run, however, I was not pleased by the snake in the garage. Justin was doing yard work and had left both garage doors open. This seems to be a problem when he is engrossed in raking leaves this fall season. Monday night he had left them open all night. Both events have lead to a good you-know-what chewing by none other than myself. Maybe the snake in the garage has been a good lesson. If left undiscussed, the next thing could lead to some badger or mountain lion invading our refrigerator and attacking us in the wee hours of the morning. Can you just picture the headlines, "Young married couple devoured by mountain lion." Ugh!

In other news, everything seems to be going well. The house is looking great and we are pretty much unpacked.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Home Improvement

While we were a little disappointed about the loss to the Hawks, Justin and I quickly cheered ourselves up this weekend with our first home improvement project. We cleaned out both of our storage closets in the apartment and took about four carloads of stuff over to the new place. Then, we went on our first trip as proud home owners to Home Depot. I have a major aversion to padded toilette seats. Some find them quite comfortable; I however, find them grossly disgusting. Maybe it's a texture thing or something, but padded toilette seats just seem dirty to me. It doesn't matter how clean the bathroom or the rest of the toilette may be, it just makes me cringe. Anyhow, above is the nice new, non-padded toilette seat Justin installed. It even can be easily removed for deep down cleanliness. How cool is that?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Yes, it has been a while since the last blog. I appologize for this and don't blame you at all if you have quite checking our blog all together. Unfortunately, life has been very hectic. We closed on the house Monday, I had a bit with the flu, work is crazy with crazy kids (and I mean really crazy), and we have class just about every night of the week to add to our list. How are we going to move? I have asked myself this many times, especially when I was layed up in bed all day yesterday. It's times like these I remind myself, "There are 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and 30 days in a month. It will get done," and the major quote, "This too shall pass."

On a different subject, is everyone ready for a good old football rumble on Saturday? Let's hear it for the Cyclones! I will bring my camera with me wherever we watch the game. What is a blog without a good picture?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Our Nest

So we finally made a compromise with the seller of our new-house-to-be. Much to our gratification, we are not only getting a new roof, but also repairs to the chimney. We are sooo excited! The closing date will be September 8th. We don't have to be out of the apartment until October 3rd, but I am planning on slowly moving boxes into the new place after closing. Who knows, I might even sleep there since it is much closer to work. Anyhow, I really haven't felt this relieved since we got the last thank-you out for the wedding. It will be great to finally have a place that is really our own.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Yup, we're some pretty groovy people in the special education department. Last week was our annual professional development training. I am on the left (peace) and one of my co-workers, Sara Kuhl, is pictured with the groovy afro. Hannah was unable to join us, as she is a new mom and is on maternity leave until October. While there have been a lot of changes with curriculum and classrooms, I hope our team has a far-out and groovy school year. Peace, love, and happiness for 2008-2009!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bad News Bears

For anyone that knows us, I call Justin the bear. This is mainly because I think the back of his blocky head and ears looks like a bear. Anyhow, I am really disappointed to inform you all that we might not be able to get our house. We had the inspection yesterday, which went very well considering how most home inspecters are. From experience with my mother I've noticed inspectors are very thorough individuals trying to strike fear into the heart of any homebuyer letting them know that no home, not even new is worth any money. This was not the case for us. Luckily, Mr. Inspector as I will call him, was very pleased with our home, finding very few problems. While there were a few concerns about some wires being switched in some of the electrical outlets everything was pretty good. Then came the concerns about the roof. He informed us the roof was in good shape and had at least five more years left, however, he was worried about us getting insurance because some idiot shingled composite roofing over shaker shingles (the ugly wooden ones that seem to be very popular, but very dangerous and damaging to your home). The grave news occurred this morning, that we would be unable to get home owner's insurance do to none other than the darn roof. The seller is trying to play games with us by trying to get us to use another insurance company, however, other companies have had the same grim response. Plus, we are very happy with our insurance agent. Anyhow, if we can't get the roof fixed or even partially paid for we might have to walk and find another home. I've been on the verge of tears all day because this is very disappointing news.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pictures as Promised

The above pictures were taken at the Des Moines Farmer's Market. The man in the red suite was advertising for some pizza sauce. I asked if I could post him on my blog. As soon as he said "yes" my mom wanted to pose along with him so she could also be a part of the blog. It was a lovely day.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Is this Heaven?

I went back to Iowa this weekend sans Justin. I am having trouble uploading the images, but will try again tomorrow and post them. They are really a treat. This is my favorite time to visit Iowa despite the fact it is wicked hot and humid. Friday evening consisted of chilling and catching up with my sister, Erin. Saturday I woke up early to visit my mother. We headed to the Farmer's Market in downtown Des Moines. For those of you who do not live in Iowa, it is the ultimate experience. I have always said anything is cause for celebration in Iowa if meat is served on a stick. The Des Moines Farmer's Market consists of streets literally packed to every corner with organic produce, items for your garden, art, and food vendors. If you ever get a chance to visit, I highly suggest it. Really, I don't think there is anything like it unless you visit an open market in New York City or some foreign country. Later that day, I traveled back to Ames, State Center, and back to Ames. We had dinner with my dad and Brenda (my stepmom). They just bought a lovely new home located on a golf course in State Center. We ate some fantastic sweet corn, had a chipping contest to see who could get the closest to the 10th green, and chatted around their fire pit. While it sounds cliche, the whole weekend left me this heaven? No, it is Iowa.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Here are some more pictures from our Weekend at Bernie's. Also, I wanted to include a link to the real-estate website in case anybody wants to take a peek at the home we like. You can access pictures at The address of the home is 6923 Albervan St., Shawnee, KS 66216. Enjoy!

We Finished!

I'm sure all of you have been on the edge of your seats to hear our 5k results. I finished at 32 minutes and 57 seconds, placing me at 7th for my age group and 127th overall. I'm not sure what Justin's results were, but he finished in 35 minutes. We are really just happy we finished and are planning for our next run on August 16th. It is the Mayor's OP 5k Farmstead Stampede. Yeehaw!

Later on Saturday we traveled north to a Weekend at Bernie's at Lake Viking. Kati Bernard had planned a super weekend at her in-laws' place and it really couldn't have been better unless more Thetas would have been present to enjoy the fun. The Bernards are super hosts and we grant them many thanks for their hospitality. The pictures re-cap the weekend above. Hopefully, Kati will plan another Weekend at Bernie's and more people will be in attendance. Trust me, it is worth the trip to Missouri.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Start to Finish (we hope)

The weekend has finally arrived for our first 5k we are running together. It is a 5k promoting higher education starting with Johnson County Community College and ending your degree at KU Edwards campus. I've been running, not as much as I probably need too, but Justin has only been playing basketball. Neither of us is nearly as excited as we were when we originally registered for the run back in June. I think the stark reality might hit us even harder this weekend; we are both not in the best of shape and have been living a semi-glutonous lifestyle since our wedding. It is probably really time to stop the madness. Lord knows we both have been complaining about it enough this summer. I guess we'll see...

Other updates include a fatastic weekend getaway with the Bernards at Lake Viking. We are leaving after the 5k and are looking forward to some fun at the lake. We also are taking a second look at a home next week. More news on the house-hunting on Monday. I'll be sure to keep everyone updated. Have a great weekend everyone!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Farm Fun

These pictures were taken back in the spring and no one is looking their best. Justin and I went back to Greenfield, IA in May to visit his family. The weekend was filled with many small town events such as visiting the local bowling alley, attending a war veteran parade consisting of motorcycles, and visiting Justin's dad's farm. It was calving season and Justin's dad, Doug, had been struggling all night delivering a 100 lb. calf. Doug does not usually let me visit the farm, usually because I do not pack the proper attire. We were lucky enough to go very early in the morning to check on all the cows. When we arrived, the calf was laying in a pile of weeds looking pretty much dead. We discovered, however, the calf was being very dramatic. He had not taken to his mother's teat. Really, I could not blame the calf because his post-partum mother had very swollen utters and was a very angry mother cow. Thus, Doug had to milk a very angry mother cow in order to teach the calf life-saving nursing skills. The calf took the bottle and Doug attempted to promt the suckling to the mother, but failed in the fact the calf found it more interesting to suck on his elbow versus his mother's utters. It took a couple of days after our visit, but the calf did eventually take to nursing from his angry mother.

Later that morning, Doug decided to enlighten us even more. A true believer in farm education, Doug lined up a visit to a neighboring farm for some good ol' artificial insemination. Being I had never seen A.I., as the experts call it, I got an up close and personal view. It is all very scientific. The cows are injected with hormones eliciting them to go into “heat” and produce eggs. Next, the sperm arrives from very expensive bulls which carry traits of the ideal cow. The sperm is frozen and comes in tanks filled with liquid nitrogen. It must be thawed to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. There are special heating machines which thaw the sperm. Then it is attached to a syringe and uh yeah, the rest is history as it is injected into the cow. Now that’s farm livin’!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Green Thumb

Our biggest undertaking/hobby this summer has been starting a patio garden. I have tried this in the past only to fail and have the plants dry out and die while on weekend get-aways. This summer has been very successful, however, with one green pepper on the way, basil, cilantro, and several tomatoes. It has been pretty exciting to watch the garden evolve. I hope you all enjoy the pictures.
In other news, we are actively house hunting and have an appointment to look at a few houses on Saturday. We will keep you all posted on the events as they occur.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Waste Not Want Not

Justin and I were just enjoying our Saturday morning bagel breakfast when the most disturbing event happened. I was watching one of the workers put huge loaves of bread into a slicing machine. He would quickly take a loaf off of the sales display, carefully set it on the machine, and set the slicer. Here is were the disturbance occurs, after the bread was sliced, he would throw away the heals, or ends of the bread, and package the bread for either sandwiches or sale. He did this with about 20 loaves of bread. My stomach felt sick. After working with poverty stricken, hungry children who have no choice in how they come into the world, I had to say something to the manager. So, I pulled the manager aside and asked, "Do you throw away the ends of every loaf of bread?" He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "You can't make a sandwich out of that! Besides, no one enjoys the ends of the bread." I told him I was quite shocked and informed him about the children with whom I work. He apologized and reassured me that Panera Bread donates money and left-over food at the end of the day to many charities around the Kansas City Metro area. I said okay and thanked him for answering my questions, but still felt haunted by the amount of waste I wittnessed. After leaving and thinking about the huge hunger problem our world has, the future of our economy, and the slow decline of the middle-class population I am deeply concerned about the amount of waste which occurs. While people may employ their good-doings with monetary and left-overs which do not sell at the end of the day, why not do more? Save the ends and ship them to Africa, dry them out and grind it for future batter or breading, make a gosh darn crouton out these unworthy sandwich making ends, but don't throw them away.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back in the Races

So, I just have a feeling that maybe some of you quite checking the blog since there has not been a recent post. Just when you think I've fallen off the face of the planet, here is an update on what's up in the Nickel household.

The Fantastic 4th of July Extravaganza went off without a hitch. Although, Amy's significant other (or however they stand right now, jerk face) failed to make the festivities we kept her mind off things with plenty of fun. Pool olympics did not amount to much, as there was much soaking in the pool and pure enjoyment of the beautiful Kansas weather. Everything else was tons of fun. Above are some pictures recapturing our pool-time relaxation.

In other news, Justin and I are seriously considering buying our first home. Due to our rent sky-rocketing to an amount equal to a mortage the issue is somewhat being forced upon us. I keep trying to reassure the hubby/risk manager that this is a good think as we need to make the investment (not to mention the fact WE NEED MORE ROOM FOR OUR CRAP!). Anyhow, so on top of philosophical contemplations on education, massive time spent in front of the computer formulating these contemplations, and the onset of more adult responsibilities life is again gearing up for another fast-paced, adulthood challenge.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fantastic 4th of July

Let the countdown begin to the Duree Girl Fantastic 4th of July Extravaganza! In 24 hours the festivities will begin. Both my younger sisters, Erin and Amy, and their significant others, Todd and Matt, will be traveling to K.C. for our first ever Fantastic 4th of July Extravaganza. We will begin by attending our favorite neighborhood establishment, Tanners, for some brewskies and food. Justin and I will most likely get nachos, as they are our favorite item. Friday will entail pool time, pool olympics, bocce ball, ladder golf, cheap plastic lacrosse, board games, and whatever else suites our fancy. Plus, don't let me forget, fireworks!! Ahhh! It is going to be a blast and offer fun-filled pictures for blog posts. We wish you all a fantastic and safe 4th of July. Happy Birthday America!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Study Lamp

As many of you know, Justin and I have surrendered to the sadistic choice of obtaining degrees in higher education past our current bachelor’s degrees. Thus, there is plenty of studying to be had on any given night of the week at any given time of the year. For myself, I am attempting to acquire my degree in two years versus what my given company will pay for my classes. In the world of education, that means they pay absolutely nothing unless given the time of political standing. In all reality, however, I do not care whether my institute contributes to my higher learning. Education is an active goal instilled since birth. For, largely we learn from experience. But, it is from education, reflection on experience, and the freeing of one’s own mind that brings meaning to our lives and makes educated. Therefore, I care nothing about what contributions otherwise would make my education “free.” It is the liberation of thought that makes my education all the worthwhile.

Anyway, enough about philosophical thoughts; it is education which has brought us to the many lamps in which we have purchased over the past year. Lamps require light bulbs. I hate light bulbs. Have you ever had to replace a light bulb and realized, after discovering which rotation (left or right) the bulb requires in order to disperse this light, that you have left the switch in the “on” position?? This problem only leaves you blinded temporarily, but really is a huge pain in the you-know-what! I hate replacing light bulbs and have had to do it twice in the past two days. Is that not enough?! I guess it is all in the name of higher education.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Blogs & BBQs

Friends, let me tell you! If you get the chance to come to Kansas City, then you have to experience the Great Lenexa Barbeque Battle. It's like RAGBRAI (for those Iowans) with grills. First, we parked at Lenexa, KS City Hall. Then, we took a shuttle bus to the battle. It was crazy! I am really glad we chose to take the shuttle bus because parking would have been a problem had we not arrived with experienced attendees. People from all over come to this BBQ throwdown.

Finally, we arrived. We paid our five dollars and were in like flinn. Justin's co-workers had a tent and had entered the competition in the area of brisket, pulled pork, and chicken wings. Their team name is Burnt Butter. So far, they had placed 18th out of 150 entries for their brisket. There was a plethora of other items, as you can see on Justin's plate. Today (Saturday) the judging will take place. I wish them the best of luck and grant them many thanks for the delicious food we had last night. I hope you all enjoy the pictures we took and get a little taste of what this delectable experience was like.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Red, White, Blue, & BBQ

I am so pumped! Since we've lived in Kansas City, I have wanted to go to the Lenexa BBQ. We've never been able to go because we are always having to travel back to Iowa for one reason or another. I can't wait to try some of the best BBQ in the country. As a foodie at heart, this will be an experience.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Day at the Farm

So, I know I know, it is probably time to start thinking about having children. My biological clock has been ticking like crazy lately. We, however, have decided to wait one more year to begin the quest of parenthood. Justin and I both have hopes of finishing our masters degrees. The end is in sight for me, as I only have one more year of coursework left.

Anyhow, I have had the opportunity to spend three lovely days this past spring at the Deanna Rose Farmstead. All three days have made us want to have kids even more because everything is way more exciting with kids. The first trip was with my friend Kati and her son Tyler. Next, it was on to the farm with my friend Jen, Jacquiline, and baby John Oscar. Jen and I graduated from high school together. She is instinctively a mother and now has two kids, Jacquiline and new baby John Oscar. Jacquiline is the little one posing in the featured picture. The third farm visit was last Friday. Justin and I spent the day volunteering for Green Scene, an environmental awareness day for kids. All three trips have been great days at the farm!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ode to the Black Couch

It has been almost five years since Justin and I first moved in together. Though originally not as a couple, we have always enjoyed each other's company. Especially time together on the lovely black couch. After living in the sorority house for two years, I did not get the chance to accumulate nearly as much furniture as Justin. Justin is a sucker for cheap/free furniture and rarely turns down a deal. Hence, what we call the "sexy black couch."

Yesterday, some younger twenty-something maintenance men were in our apartment to patch a hole in our ceiling. One of them was duitifully eyeing the sexy black couch and even commented on how much he liked the couch. I also had a ceiling fan that needed to be installed, thus I made a deal with the young buck that if he installed my ceiling fan today he could have the couch. After conversing with Justin to get the "okay" on everything a deal was struck. They installed my fan and he is now the rightful owner of the couch.

It has taken two years for Justin to finally part with the sexy black couch. I comforted him by letting him know it was in good hands and that maybe the couch would bring this dude as much luck as it brought Justin:) Ode to the sexy black couch.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mrs. & Mr. Nickel

Hi all! This is Sara typing. I've been meaning to start a blog/space/facebook/whatever page for a while now. It is just the way to keep people up-to-date on whatever is happening in life anymore. Anyway, Justin and I have been happily married for eight months now! We've been to Chicago, Jamaica, and many trips to Iowa since then. Hopefully this will be a better way to keep in touch with you all as we begin our lives together.