Friday, February 1, 2013

A Personal Favor, Please?


Many of you who know me personally, know how involved I am in The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Douglas County and you know that I spend the majority of my free time working on planning and executing a silent auction event each Spring to raise funds for the cause. This year is no different, but I am asking each of you who may read this to spread the word about the event and about the cause.

I can say with quite a bit of confidence that each person who is reading these words knows someone who has either had cancer or who has a loved one who has had cancer. Cancer does not discriminate. It touches the rich as well as the poor and the young as well as the old. It devastates and it reeks havoc on innocent lives every single day.

The American Cancer Society's mission is to eliminate cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service.

To support that mission, teams from across the country come together at local Relay for Life events to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life is the world's largest non-profit fundraising event and the source of the majority of programs that The American Cancer Society sponsors.

This year, my team, Phil's Phighters has put together Rockin' for Relay, a silent auction and live music event to be held at Maceli's in Downtown Lawrence on Friday, March 1st, 2013. Steve Maceli was kind enough to donate the use of his space to us and local band, LandRush will be playing all evening. The doors will open at 7pm and bidding will run from 7-9pm. The band will continue to play until 10pm so that there will still be entertainment until we can get all of the auction items gathered and get everyone checked out.

The event is free and open to the public. We will have a cash bar, photo booth, chair massages and over $20,000 worth of items (over 250 items to date) to bid on.

If you're in the Lawrence area, we hope that you will plan to come out and invite your friends, families, neighbors and everyone you know. We're hoping to raise more money than we ever have before but we can only do that if everyone we know spreads the word and tells everyone that they know.

Saving lives from cancer starts with one team, one participant and one dollar at a time. We are doing our part to make sure that cancer never steals another year of anyone’s life. Will you help us?

Team Website
Donation Website
Facebook Event Invitation for Rockin' for Relay


Friday, January 25, 2013

Why Relay for Life is SO Important to Me


From the day I was born, I have been witness to the effects that cancer has on the people I love. My grandmother was diagnosed with bone cancer when she was pregnant with my uncle back in the late 1950s. Before he was born, she had one of her legs amputated just above the knee. This is the only way I have ever known her. When I was younger, she was very mobile and was a pro with her crutches, but as she has aged, she is now confined to an electric wheelchair to get around.

When I was in my early teens, my dad’s cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer. I watched as this strong, energetic and vibrant woman endured treatment after treatment and finally succumbed to the disease. Bev was like another grandmother to me and without her, there is always something missing at our family gatherings.

As I have gotten older, cancer has only touched my immediate family in a very minor way, but it has touched several very close friends much more significantly. Growing up, I had a very strong connection with a friend who was about 10 years older than I was. I joined a youth organization when I was 11 and Marcie was just finishing her time with the organization. She took me under her wing and helped to mentor me and teach me the ropes. We became good friends and when she met the man who would become her husband, I immediately adored him. Phil was one of those people you never forget. He was genuine and kind, jovial and passionate. Phil was one of the most incredible men I’ve ever met.

In 2007, Phil noticed a strange lump in his calf and went to the doctor to have it checked out. He was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma and started treatment. When my husband and I got engaged in 2009, we couldn’t think of anyone we would rather have officiate our wedding than Phil. On May 1st, 2010, Phil performed our wedding ceremony while fighting a nagging cough that was being caused by the tumors in his lungs.

Phil fought with everything he had, losing most of one of his lungs, a leg and precious time with his son, Nathan. On January 5th, 2011, Marcie was kind enough to let me know that I should visit right away because Phil was going downhill fast. As I pulled up to their house that evening after work, I prepared myself for what I knew was about to happen. When I went in the room to see Phil, he was in and out of sleep and you could tell that he was medicated for pain. We talked for a while and as I was getting ready to leave, Phil held up his hand in the sign “I love you” and I returned the sign. This was the last time I saw Phil. Late that night, he lost consciousness and he passed away the following day.

After Phil passed away, Relay took on a whole new meaning for me. I had participated in Relay for Life in the past, but never took a very active role in the event and joined a team when I knew someone who had one. Last year, I formed Phil’s Phighters in memory of Phil’s courageous battle and this year, I joined the Planning Committee for Relay for Life of Douglas County.

In March of 2012, my involvement in Relay was confirmed once again. A good friend and coworker of mine had been bounced from doctor to doctor for two years to try to determine the source of severe pain throughout her body. The doctors that she visited tested her for everything from Lupus to MS to Celiac Disease but could never pinpoint an accurate diagnosis. In March, she was given clearance to set an appointment with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and she traveled there with her family on March 12th.

Kristi’s appointment was March 13th and it began with painful biopsies and a blood draw. After the blood draw, she was told to go back to the hotel with her family and rest. The doctors planned for her to be there for the better part of a week and they would let her know when they got results from the tests. Kristi got a phone call just about an hour after she got back to the hotel. The doctors wanted her to come back to Mayo immediately. When she arrived back at the clinic, she was told that she has leukemia and they recommended that she begin chemo treatments immediately at Mayo. Kristi asked to be sent back to the University of Kansas Cancer Center for treatment so that she could be close to her family. Right now, Kristi has undergone chemo and a bone marrow transplant and is still very much fighting for her future. Kristi has so much to live for – a 2-year old daughter, Kaydence, a loving family and supportive friends.

Then, in August 2012, another friend, Leigh, was diagnosed with leukemia. I am writing this in January 2013 and she has been on or within a city block of the University of Kansas Cancer Center since the day she was diagnosed. She is able to come home for short bursts of time, but they are never long enough. The doctors hope that Leigh only has to endure two more rounds of chemo before she is finished but, unfortunately, the time that her body is taking to recover between her chemo rounds is taking longer and longer each time, which is extending her stay in Kansas City.

This year, I Relay in memory of Phil and in honor of Kristi and Leigh. Saving lives from cancer starts with one team, one participant and one dollar at a time. I am doing my part to make sure that cancer never steals another year of anyone’s life.

To find out more about Relay for Life, please visit www.relayforlife.org.

To donate to Phil's Phighters, please visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/AmandaDavis










Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tackling the biggest hassle of getting married. . . changing your name



Throughout my adult life, I have always heard how difficult it is to get your name changed after you get married.  When I got married two and a half years ago, I found that the process was not as difficult as many people made it out to be.  Below, you will find a step-by-step guide to changing your name without all the hassles that everyone seems to talk about.  I only had one hiccup regarding my name change and it involved a Kansas state law that does not allow residents to list two middle names on their Kansas Driver's license.  I'll explain how I got around that below.

  1. Marriage Licenses - First, make sure you have multiple certified copies (I recommend 3) of your marriage license.
  2. Social Security Card - The first thing I went to change was my Social Security Card.  To apply for a new Social Security Card, complete the form listed below and mail it to your local Social Security Office (found here).
  3. Passport - Next, I recommend updating your passport (if you have one).  This is how I got around the Kansas state law restricting two middle names on drivers' licenses.  The Kansas DMV is required to list your name on your Drivers' License exactly as it appears on your Passport, so if you update your passport first, the DMV has to list your name that way.  Visit the site listed below, gather the items needed (confirm that you are completing the correct forms) and mail them in as directed.
  4. DMV - Then, change your name with the DMV.  Contact your local DMV to find out what the paperwork requirements are, but I would recommend bringing every form of identification that you can find (birth certificate, marriage license, old license, passport, etc.
  5. Everything Else -   Most of the other changes you will need to make can be taken care of by completing this process.
    1. Add all of your accounts to this Excel Spreadsheet.
    2. Open this Word Document.
    3. Edit all of the information that is highlighted to personalize the template.
    4. If you know how to use mail merge, the document is all set up for that using the Spreadsheet above.  If not, you can copy and paste the information into the Word document and print individual letters for each of your accounts.
    5. The letter can be updated to include other information that may need to be changed.
    6. Include a photocopy of your marriage license with each letter (do NOT sent your certified copies unless it is specifically requested).
    7. Mail the letters and you're all set.
Items that may be handled (some of these items may require additional information) in #5 include (but are not limited to):

  • Employer information
  • Credit Card Accounts
  • Financial Accounts
  • Mailing Address
  • Utility Companies
  • Homeowner/Rental information
  • Attorneys
  • Medical accounts
  • Voter Registration
  • Schools
  • Insurance accounts
  • Subscriptions





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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Liberty of the Seas Group Cruise - Day 1

Day 1 means that we get to have our first look at the Liberty of the Seas.  This will be the largest ship that we've ever sailed on and I'm very much looking forward to exploring it's offerings when we're able to board.

Before leaving the hotel, be sure to have a carry-on packed.  Typically, my carry-on consists of prescription medications, a swimming suit (if you'd like to swim when you get on the ship) and a change of clothes for that evening's dinner (in case your luggage is a late-arrival).  Having these items will ensure that you have an enjoyable first day on the ship.  Sometimes, luggage doesn't arrive until 7 or 8pm and occasionally, even later, so having a few important items will allow you to be able to do things on the ship that you wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

We usually leave the hotel around 10am to head for the Port so that we can be on board as close to lunch time as possible.  Most cruise lines tell you that boarding doesn't begin until 1:30 or 2pm, but that's not true.  You can be on board as early as 11am on some occasions.  Early boarding is all dependent upon how early the ship got into port and how smoothly debarkation of the last set of passengers went.  If things were moving slowly, they may not open boarding until 1:30 or 2pm, but we've found that that's not usually the case.  I don't think we've ever boarded a ship later then 12:30pm.

When we arrive at the port, we will be greeted by luggage porters.  These are the men and women who handle all of the luggage for all of the passengers arriving to board the ship.  This means 3,634 passengers luggage is handled by these people each time the ship comes into port.  If you take into account that these porters are also assisting people getting off the ship, this could be 7,268 people in one day.



It's customary to tip the porters when you hand off your luggage.  Some people believe that a bigger tip means that your luggage will get to your cabin faster, but I don't think there's any way that one can guarantee that with so much luggage changing hands.  You should definitely tip the porters though, just as you would tip your cab driver or a doorman at a hotel.

Once your luggage is left safely with the porters, you can proceed to the check-in area.  Sometimes, it will be open by 10am for check-in and sometimes, you will have to wait a bit until they are ready for you.  If you have to wait, generally, there is a seating area for you to wait in, but be prepared, because sometimes, especially with the larger ships, these areas can become crowded quickly.


Check-in is typically pretty painless.  Just make sure that you have your passport, cruise documentation and the credit card that you will be charging for all of your on board purchases (no, everything isn't included - alcohol, Ben & Jerry's, specialty coffee, etc. is all an additional charge).

Once we board, we have to wait until the cabins are ready, which usually doesn't happen until around 2 or 3pm.  This will give you plenty of time to explore the ship and stop at the Windjammer for a buffet lunch but be prepared, because this day in the Windjammer is going to be complete chaos.  This is one of the only open locations on the ship during boarding and that means that it's where everyone ends up.  It can get pretty hectic, so my recommendation is that you find a table first and then have someone stay where while the rest of the group goes to get their food.  If you don't scope out seating first, you may end up wandering around for 20 minutes while your food gets cold in your hands.

This is also a good time to do some exploring and to get yourself acquainted with the ship.  If you're not hungry immediately, you can even wander around the ship first and wait out the crowd in the Windjammer.

The rest of day one is filled with muster drills (thank goodness you don't have to wear your life jackets anymore) and a sail away party.  I usually spend this day getting used to where things are on the ship.  I know this time won't be any different since it's a very large ship and we'll have a lot to explore in 5 days.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Liberty of the Seas Group Cruise - Day 0

On the first travel day, all 23 of us will be travelling to Ft. Lauderdale from various locations across the country.  We're hoping for good weather as we travel at the end of January since we'll all be escaping the horrible mid-US winter.


Most of us have flights on Delta in the mid-morning leaving from Kansas City.  Others are flying in from Denver.  We're looking for a good place to have dinner in Ft. Lauderdale that evening, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.


We'll be staying at the LaQuinta Inn & Suites, Ft. Lauderdale Airport.  We got a pretty good deal through our travel agent and we'll get a ride from the airport and to the Port the following morning.





Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

So, it's been quite a while since anything was posted to JayhawkGirl's Kitchen.  Hopefully, that will change since I have a new iPad and will have easier access to blogging going forward.  I thought it would be appropriate to start the blog posting back up again by writing a series of posts about our upcoming cruise to Jamaica and Haiti.  How appropriate, right?  My last big series of postings ended with posts about our honeymoon cruise, so why not start back up with the cruise we're taking next.

This time, we will be traveling with many friends and family members.  I believe there are a total of 23 of us going this time, but there's always room for more.  I'm told that the balcony cabins have been deeply discounted at this point, so if anyone out there wants to get credit for booking with a group on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas on her 5-night, January 30th sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale, just let me know and I'll get you hooked up wi our travel agent.

That being said, here are some of the highlights of the ship we'll be sailing on:


Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas
Pools & Whirlpools - 10
Spa Treatments - 100+
Crew Members - 1,360
Gross Tonnage - 160,000
Length - 1,112 ft
Width - 185 ft

Royal Promenade


 Boxing Ring

Flow Rider Surf Simulator

Rock Climbing Wall

H2O Zone

3-Story Main Dining Room

Ice Skating Rink





Thursday, April 28, 2011

Curry in a Hurry – Lawrence

Today, I stopped by the new location of Curry in a Hurry on the outskirts of Downtown Lawrence.  We’ve been hearing a lot about it through the Journal World and local twitter users and Josh really wanted to try it.  I had the day off of work for a doctor’s appointment and had some errands to run, so I stopped by on my way home.



The setup is like nothing I’ve seen before in a restaurant.  Sammi has a buffet-style setup where all of the curries are pre-packaged in to-go containers and you just select which variety of curry you would like, grab a container of rice and any side items that you’d like (I grabbed naan bread, but there were at least two other items that I didn’t pick up) and take your selections to the register to check out.  I chose the chicken curry and rice for Josh (and unfortunately, he ate it all before I could get a photo) but Sammi was also offering pea and potato curry today.

The store has also been converted into a small storefront convenience store with candies, sodas, cigarettes and other convenience store items.  It’s definitely a unique addition to Downtown Lawrence.

Josh thought that the curry has some great flavors and that it was very good.  We hadn’t tried Sammi’s curry before, when he was working out of the Shell gas station near 19th & Mass but people have raved about his set-up for quite some time.  I know his true fans are delighted to have him back with his curry in a hurry.  I also know that we will be back to visit Sammi and see what kind of variety he will bring to Indian cuisine in Lawrence.  We’re definitely looking forward to it.

Curry in a Hurry is located at 1111 Massachusetts Street in Downtown Lawrence, KS.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jarritos Nation Contest

Today, I was contacted by someone from Jarritos, a soda manufacturer from Mexico.  They seem to be expanding in the US and asked me if I would sample some of their products and let you all know what I think about them.  I’m excited to receive my package and will let you all know what I think after I’ve had a chance to test them.



In the meantime, check out the Jarritos Nation contest! It’s a website designed to bring all fans of Jarritos together and award prizes for posting photos. Entering is very easy – just head to www.jarritosnation.com and “claim” a location on the map with a photo. Prizes range from packages of Jarritos to digital cameras and even a 12 day cruise to Hawaii!  Good luck!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Honeymoon Day 10 - May 11, 2010 Oranjestad, Aruba

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I'm pretty excited to be going back to Aruba.  This is the only island on this cruise that I've been to before and I'm looking forward to showing it to Josh.  We booked a tour here and it visits a lot of the big "must-see" places on the island.

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The last time I visited Aruba, my dad and I were picked up at the pier by some of the Rainbow Girls from Aruba and given the grand tour of the island for free.  We had lunch with them and visited all of the sights on the island.  After the tour, they took my dad back to the ship and took me back to their Masonic Lodge for a party with some of the local foods and gifts for me from the Aruba Rainbow Girls.  It was a great experience and I'm looking forward to seeing this beautiful is;and again.
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Honeymoon Day 8 - May 10, 2010 Curacao

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Our plans for this island were set back as well.  We really wanted to do the Dolphin Encounter, but unfortunately, by the time we tried to book it, there was only one spot left.  We didn't want to do it if only one of would be able to go since it was a long excursion, so we decided to do a different excursion instead. 
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We're planning to do a tour of Sea & See in Curacao.  Basically, you board a semi-submarine and get to see all the ocean life from 5 feet below the surface of the water.  Then we'll be able to tour some of the island after we do the underwater tour.  It should be a good time.  I'm looking forward to seeing the colorful architecture of Curacao and the suspension bridge that's 200 feet above the city.
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