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Archive for "Events"

Vacation Time

Posted on November 25, 2016 by under Events, Food and Drink.    

Brian and I took the week off (well, most of the week – Brian actually has to work today) for Thanksgiving and so we started our celebration on Friday evening. We wanted to celebrate the fact that we wouldn’t have to go back to work for a week. And we decided to take our celebration Carrabba’s.

Neither of us had been to Carrabba’s in years. Brian and I figured it’s because we no longer live on that side of town. Besides that though, the restaurant is on a really busy street and we, like most people, like to stick within a few miles of our comfort zone. Whatever the reason, Carrabba’s ended up not making the restaurant rotation. But that changed last Friday.

When we ran into Joe at Brew Ha-Ha a few weeks ago, he talked up their new apple cider sangria. And you know me. Sangria is synonymous with celebration so I talked Brian into going their for our first meal of officially being on vacation.

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It doesn’t look like much but this is the most delicious sangria I’ve had in a really long time. You all know how much I love the blackberry sangria at Carrabba’s. I drink pitchers of it at a time. This recipe is even better than that. You all will have to try it. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

Another thing I like about Carrabba’s is their fresh bread and flavorful dipping oil. I had to get a picture of our bread basket and the oil and herbs.

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Then we started with a couple of small plates. Joe really talked up their small plates too, so we had to try some of them. Naturally.

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This is the arancini. They’re crispy risotto balls. Brian loved these so much that he wanted to order a few more and make a meal out of them.

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We also ordered the meatballs and ricotta. Now this, I could have made a meal out of! The meatballs were so good and I love who the ricotta and romano cheese worked with the pomodoro sauce. Incidentally, the pomodoro sauce is my favorite type of sauce at Carrabba’s. I always get it on my pasta.

Anyway, this is the small plate that keeps on giving. Even after you finish eating the two meatballs, you can still enjoy the sauce by dipping your bread in it.

One of the servers tried to take it away and we told him no. I wanted to enjoy every last drop. Our server confessed that the sauce is her favorite part as well and she makes a meal out of this on some days.

Brian and I agreed that on our next visit, we’re just going to get several small plates and dessert. And maybe a pitcher of that apple cider sangria for me. LOL.

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For our meal we decided to go back to our old standby, the Chicken Bryan. We like not not because it shares Brian’s name but we really do like the flavors. You can’t beat wood-grilled chicken and goat cheese.

I always ask for capellini pomodoro (angel hair pasta in their pomodoro sauce) because the pomodoro sauce is my favorite. And then Brian and I usually just split that. We also split a Caesar salad before the entree so between that and the appetizers we are usually too stuffed to each get our own meal. Doing it this way ensures we don’t have to take home any leftovers. It works perfect.

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We finished our celebratory meal with the sogno di cioccolata (chocolate dream). It’s my favorite dessert there. I liked the dessert Rosa also, which was a light, fruity cake but I think they quit making it years ago.

Anyway, Brian was like, “This is amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever had this before.”

I was like, “Yes, you have! You’ve had it several times and you like it so much that we ordered an entire pan of it for my birthday one year.”

It was my 35th birthday and we bought dessert for everyone. Thus, we ordered the entire pan. Anyway, I searched and searched my Flickr albums for a picture of that pan of the dessert but the next set of pictures were all I could find.

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It was 2011 and I had just started losing weight so I guess I was more concerned with getting pictures of myself than pictures of food in those days. LOL.

Speaking of birthday celebrations, we’re coming back to present day now.

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We went to Margarita’s (another place we haven’t been in a long time) to celebrate Andrea’s 30th birthday on Saturday night. Margarita’s is a popular place for celebrations. I think there must have been a dozen different birthday celebrations going on there that evening.

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Here are a few more pictures from that evening.

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Missy took her shoes off to get down on the dance floor. Naturally, I took a picture with it. They were some cute boots.

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Here’s Missy and Charis together.

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This photobomb by the guy at the next table (found out his name is Corbin) was by far the funniest. I think everyone at their table tried to be part of our picture. LOL.

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And then Brian and I didn’t make the group photo because we had already left by then. We are old and, after dancing a few times, were pretty much done.

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We gave Andrea her birthday present and card, and had a wonderful dinner with friends, and we danced a few times, and then we were pooped. I guess that’s what happens when you get old.

Oh, to be young and 30 again! I miss those days.

That’s pretty much how our vacation started. Come back soon for more of our time off adventures. I have lots to share!

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Triple Birthday Bash and Kansas Humane Society Benefit

Posted on November 22, 2016 by under Events.    

Jenni and her roommates, Dom and Val, hosted an awesome event last weekend. They all had November birthdays so they decided to have a triple birthday celebration while raising money for the Kansas Humane Society.

The night’s festivities included a vegan soup/chili cookoff, Tetris tournament, and ping pong tournament. Cookoff participants got three voting tickets while spectators could purchase five voting tickets for $5 (additional voting tickets could be purchased for $1 each). To assist in the cleanup, the environmentally conscious hosts asked everyone to bring their favorite mugs and then Dom also awarded a prize for the best mug. (Janice won the prize for best mug.)

I attended mostly to celebrate Jenni’s birthday but also to compete in the Tetris and ping pong tournaments, which were $5 each.

The Tetris tournament was played bracket style with seeding determined by individual time trials prior to the official start of tournament. It was a single-elimination tournament bracket with the exception of the championship match which would be best of three.

The ping pong tournament was also a bracket style with seeding based on self-reported level of skill. Similar to the Tetris tournament, the bracket was single-elimination except for the championship match which would be best of three as well. The added twist in both tournaments is that any match loser could declare a rematch for an additional $5 fee. It is a fundraising event, after all.

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The game was projected on the wall which made for giant Tetriminos.

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There were some serious competitors.

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I hadn’t played Tetris in years until that night so I really appreciated the opportunity to practice before the tournament started.

It didn’t help much as I lost to James. However, I don’t feel too bad because he ended up becoming tournament champ. Well, Dom and Val did the best in the Tetris tournament but they both agreed to drop out because it would be silly for them to win their own trophies and prizes. I think Dom was the true Tetris champion but James performed the best out of everyone else.

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This is him in full concentration mode.

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I also got to experience Tron pong for the first time ever that night. They put neon lights around the table and along the top of the net and used glow in the dark ping pong balls. It was definitely interesting.

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We didn’t have to play in the dark, though. We played ping pong normally and the Tron pong was simply an option for the championship match, if the competitors so chose. I don’t think the championship match was played in the dark but I don’t know for sure because I didn’t stick around long enough. I didn’t fare very well in the ping pong tournament either. I was the bottom seed and had to face Dom in my first match. Obviously, I didn’t advance.

Dr. Barbara Chaparro, Director of the Software Usability Research Lab at Wichita State University, took down the ping pong tournament. I had no idea of Dr. Chaparro’s serious ping pong prowess until that night.

Here’s what the trophies looked like:

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Each of the tournament winners also won a Valily Lane vintage dictionary print and $10 toward Valily Lane merchandise.

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Val also threw in a nice reusable tote for each of the winners to hold their goodies.

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Anyway, Brian and I arrived at the party around seven o’clock and Jenni was nowhere to be found. After I got eliminated from both the Tetris and ping pong tournaments, Brian and I stuck around for a while hoping that Jenni would eventually show up. A couple of hours later, there was still no sign of Jenni. Brian concluded that she bailed on the party.

Since we were mostly there to celebrate with Jenni, and she was nowhere to be found, Brian and I left the party relatively early. I think we left around ten. We later found out that Jenni was asleep in her room the entire time. What the heck kind of party host sleeps through most of their party?

On a positive note, they raised $672 that night for the Kansas Humane Society. That’s pretty darn awesome. This was by far one of the best ideas for a birthday party ever. I hope they decide to do it again next year.

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Team Building and Community Service

Posted on November 20, 2016 by under Events, Projects, Things to Do.    

Here are some pictures from the team building volunteer service activity that I organized a couple of weeks ago. I’m so grateful for my amazing coworkers who gave up part of their holiday weekend to help out.

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The project? We helped set up the North Pole Winter Carnival at Child Start‘s Polar Express Literacy Event.

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The trickiest part was building the train display with no instructions.

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Mike was super proud of the fake wood wall that he and Mel built.

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He’s showing it off in this photo with Faith’s husband (left).

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They didn’t need our help with the main event area. Our group’s focus was setting up and decorating the game room, which I actually thought was the fun part.

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I really wish we could have attended the event and seen the kids enjoy the carnival games. Brian and I had another party to attend that evening, otherwise I would have totally dragged him with me. Had I planned the weekend better, I could have taken Nickira to the event. I think she would have enjoyed it.

I hope Child Start holds the event again next year. Nickira is getting to close to that age where she might think it’s a little bit childish but I really think she would enjoy it. I hope I can take her next year because it will be the final one before she’s officially a teenager. I saw some pictures of the event on the Child Start Facebook page and it looked like a blast. I’m really bummed that I missed it.

At least we got to help set up. I just love volunteering for stuff like this. It warms my heart. The best part is the $1000 donation from the Westar Energy Foundation to match our team building volunteer service hours.

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Light Your Heart 2016

Posted on November 9, 2016 by under Events.    

Here are some fun photos from Light Your Heart last weekend.

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Starting with obligatory selfies.

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Ran into Mary Anne…

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Not done with selfies just yet.

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Jessica and Josh attended the event as well and looked dapper in coordinating outfits. Here’s another selfie of me and Brian during the “Clink and Drink” portion of the evening.

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Josh tried to win the “Cheers for a Year” drawing consisting of 52 bottles of liquor — one for every week of the year.

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Another selfie…

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Meatballs and some other appetizers were served before dinner.

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A selfie selfie…

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Ran into Denise…

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Table selfie…

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Mike and girlfriend.

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James and wife.

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Josh and wife.

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We had excellent dinner companions.

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Lamphouse photo booth pics.

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Dinner salad…

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Dinner…

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Dessert…

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They auctioned off golf at Flint Hills National with both Coach Gregg Marshall and Mayor Jeff Longwell. This was definitely the highlight of the live auction as there wasn’t a puppy this year. And, thank heavens for that. LOL.

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While that was the highlight of the live auction, the highlight of the entire evening was Mayor Jeff Longwell singing a few tunes for the crowd.

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Our emcee for the evening, KWCH’s Michael Schwanke challenged the guests to donate at least $100 to Heartspring to entice Mayor Longwell to sing for us. Sure enough, several guests answered the call, and Mayor Longwell, the good sport that he is, sang a few songs.

They raised a good chunk of change for Heartspring that evening. What a wonderful event!

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Pictures from the 10th Annual Brew Ha-Ha

Posted on November 7, 2016 by under Events.    

Here are a few pictures from the Big Brothers Big Sisters Brew Ha-Ha event at Flint Hills National Golf Club last weekend.

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Spot’s Party Bus was there as usual with several busses to cart people between the various lodges and the clubhouse. They’re the party bus company we used for our Pokémon GO party the week before.

We actually got to meet Kurtis, who we worked with in making our party bus arrangements. He was driving the “Wu Spot” bus that night. I think the bus pictured above is their “Yoda” bus.

We also got to see Eddie, the driver who was assigned to our Pokémon Go party. He was driving the pink bus. I like how they have several busses and they had a really good system going that night. You were never waiting around too long for a bus.

The longest we had to wait was when we were at the end of Jim’s street but it wasn’t a designated stop. Kurtis was nice enough to drop us off at the end of Jim’s street on the way to lodges on the other side and he told us to just come back to the same spot when we were ready to return to the party. It worked like a charm. We had to wait a few minutes but, sure enough, a bus showed up momentarily and Eddie just happened to be the driver.

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Brian and I like to get there early because the lodges aren’t as crowded and you get first dibs on the food and beverages but also because Flint Hills National Golf Club is breathtaking and you don’t really get to appreciate the scenery as much when it’s dark. This is our obligatory pre-party selfie. LOL.

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We also took a selfie with Darcy and Justin. Notice how there’s not anyone in the background? As the evening wears on, there’s more and more people, and the lodges quickly get crowded to where there isn’t anywhere to sit.

If you’ve been to Brew Ha-Ha before or seen some of my pictures from previous years, you know what I mean.

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Joe Parten (Carrabba’s) supports the event and has participated every year that we’ve been. Besides Carrabba’s the other participating restaurants Abuelo’s, Bonefish Grill, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, and Woodfire Grille. We had to get a selfie with Joe because he’s awesome. He’s involved in various community events and it’s great. More people should do the same.

Anyway, you’ll notice that there’s not as many vendors as Zoobilee but that’s exactly why we like it. The food is usually better and there’s not as many people so it’s not so overwhelming. We also love that you get to ride around in a party bus, which also has beer, so your feet aren’t on fire at the end of the evening.

We made our first round with Darcy and Justin and then we ended up going to visit Jim at his house. We ended up visiting a while and then had to wait for the bus to show up so we didn’t end up making it back to the party until almost ten o’clock, which meant no second round for us. LOL. I’m glad that we stopped by the clubhouse though; otherwise, we would have completely missed these fine folks.

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We did miss Don and Denise so that was a bummer.

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They took off while the rest of the group decided to hang out at the clubhouse a little while longer to enjoy music by Annie Up.

Besides Don and Denise, there were a few others we didn’t get to see. I wish we could have seen everyone but we still managed to have a great time nonetheless.

I did run into Tammy, Stephanie, and Susan from Big Brothers Big Sister and also got to enjoy some great music, delicious food, and fabulous company. Brian and I were a little disappointed that there weren’t any silent auction baskets up for bid this year but it was a great night all in all.

Brew Ha-Ha still tops our list of most favorite fundraising events. I hope we have the privilege of attending again next year.

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