Archive for "Things to Do"
Posted on December 12, 2016 by Ching under Family, Things to Do.
We had a super quiet Thanksgiving lunch this year. It was just Brian, grandma, and me. Brian’s parents usually do their own Thanksgiving in Oklahoma. I invited my parents but they were still both recovering from illness and feeling antisocial. They didn’t feel like joining us. I even offered to bring them some food but mom declined. I also invited Jenni via text but never heard back.
All of our friends were doing their own Thanksgivings. Initially, our friend Chad said he would swing by but he ended up canceling last minute. We ended up with way more food than three people could eat. It worked out great though, because then grandma was able to take some food home with her.
This was our first year without Fresh Market. We ended up getting food from Dillons. The food was okay but definitely not as good as the quality of the Thanksgiving meal we get from Fresh Market. Most of the items were off the shelf rather than prepared fresh like the Thanksgiving dinner we get from Fresh Market. This is definitely a case of “you get what you pay for” except Fresh Market is no longer an option since they closed their store.
Brian and I agreed that we will need to figure out a better plan for next year because we are definitely not going to order the Dillons Thanksgiving dinner again.
Brian had to work on Black Friday this year so I was pretty much on my own. In years past, we’ve both had the day off so we’ve braved the Black Friday mobs and have actually gone shopping. We switched gears the last few year and have done most of our shopping online so I didn’t really feel an urge to go Black Friday shopping this year. Besides, it’s not as much fun without Brian.
Instead of shopping, I decided to spend the day with my little sister.
We started with breakfast at Doo-Dah Diner. I love that they give you free monkey bread while you wait for your meal. It’s my most favorite part of eating there.
Doo-Dah was busy that day so we just sat at the counter.
Nickira originally wanted pancakes but then she saw chicken and waffles on the menu so she switched to that instead. I was worried that the meal would be too big so I convinced her to split it with me. I’m glad we split it because it was not quite what Nickira expected.
She was not a fan of the chocolate dipped bacon. She actually gave me hers. Oh, and you can tell which half is which by the egg. Nickira wanted a runny yolk on her egg, while I wanted mine fried hard.
It was just the right amount of food for me.
After breakfast we were off to Winter Art Mania at the Wichita Art Museum.
And then after doing all of the activities inside, we decided to go for a stroll through the art garden and take some photos. I just love the Wichita Art Museum!
This hasn’t been our typical Thanksgiving or Black Friday. Actually, this hasn’t been our typical year. Yet, despite all of the obstacles and challenges, we managed to find joy in everything. I’m so grateful for the love of our family and friends and for all that we have. We are truly blessed.
Posted on December 10, 2016 by Ching under Things to Do, Travel.
Brian wanted to see what my Kansas City routine was like so we spent a few days in Kansas City over Thanksgiving break. At first he was bummed that I didn’t have us staying at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown, which is the hotel I normally stay at, but after I explained that I reserved our room at the much nicer Courtyard Kansas City Downtown/Convention Center just a couple of blocks away he finally settled down. Of course, I had to agree to walk him over to my office building, the other hotel, my favorite coffee shop, etc. etc.
Here’s the lobby of the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. It definitely looks better with some Christmas decorations. It has looked the same for several years.
But, I have to admit, I kind of like this piece of furniture. It’s perfect for just hanging out with a bunch of friends.
We also walked over to my office building where we have the ping pong table in the “Recharge” area at the lower level.
Brian actually indulged me with a brief ping pong match.
After getting coffee across the street at Kaldi’s, a coffee shop that I’ve grown fond of because of the delicious coffee and its close proximity to the office, we went around the corner to One Light Luxury Apartments.
This is Brian checking out the balcony of one of the units we toured.
I’m not sure what Brian is pondering here but I just love the floor-to-ceiling windows. I think that crane you see on the left is where they’re building Two Light.
Here’s the rooftop pool. They keep the fool filled year round, though you can’t actually swim in it, because it’s prettier to look at than a pool cover.
We walked over to the Two Light Leasing Office around the corner after touring One Light. They have a 3D model of the all-glass, high-rise apartment complex there. We were told they created the model so people could more easily visualize the concept, which is the first of its kind in downtown Kansas City.
Of course, there’s now such a great demand for places to live downtown that they’re already planning to develop Three Light after Two Light is completed.
Here’s a video of the renderings. It looks pretty amazing.
Here are some pictures of the demo one-bedroom unit at the leasing office.
I took a ton of pictures because they did a fabulous job of staging the demo.
Do you see Brian in this pic?
This is the bed room.
Don’t mind the street outside. I was really taking a picture of the bedroom door, which is a pocket door. A regular door just takes up too much space.
Space is a premium and their smart design choices give you space where it counts. Like in the bathroom (pictured below).
The bathroom doesn’t feel tiny and cramped.
Here’s how the kitchen looks from the hallway.
This picture is viewing the same hallway from the opposite end.
I’m not a huge fan of the upper cabinets, which feel a bit too contemporary/modern for me but overall the kitchen feels spacious and well-designed. Not that I spend a lot of time cooking in the kitchen but, for what it’s worth, the kitchen functioned well. I really liked the island in the middle.
If we were to move to Kansas City, our ideal situation would be to get a two bedroom but, if we couldn’t stretch our budget enough to make it work, then we could make a one-bedroom work.
We would just have to get rid of a bunch of stuff first. LOL.
Because we’re nerds, we walked over to where we could see the Two Light construction. Even though it was drizzly that day, I really wanted to see how much farther of a walk it is from the office building. One Light is literally across the street (if you go through the parking garage underneath instead of coming out of the lobby) so it’s super convenient.
Here’s a picture of Brian in the fancy, One Light lobby.
If I sound kind of obsessed with downtown living and, more specifically, these apartments, it’s probably because I kind of am. I am enamored with the idea of being able to get up in the morning and walk to work.
Here’s a video of what it’s like to live at One Light. They really do a great job of selling the lifestyle and making it look glamorous and cool.
I’ve been to One Light a few times now (wine night at Allison’s, their open house event) and I’ve even brought Brian over to check things out and get his feedback, these folks have me completely convinced that this is where I want to live if/when I move to Kansas City.
The floor plans at Two Light are a smidge bigger but Brian and I cannot get over the convenience that One Light offers. One Light is attached to an amazing gym and a grocery store. If you go through the parking garage underneath, you don’t even have to go outside to get to both.
Brian and I were like, “Can you imagine times when you’re in the middle of cooking something and you realize that you’re out of something and you can just put the heat on low and run to the grocery store real quick and come right back and finish cooking?” Not that this happens often. Heck, we don’t even cook that much. I love the idea, though. Maybe it will even get us cooking and eating at home more?
The biggest selling point for me is how close it is to work. Here’s a view of the apartment and pool from work. It’s that close!
I’m not sure if you can tell, but there’s also green space on the roof for dog owners to take their dogs. There will be plenty of room for Saki and Molly to run and play.
The corner grocery store is amazing. They have everything you could possibly need. They even carry wine. Brian and I already did price comparisons of how much we normally pay for certain wines at Grove’s. The prices are comparable on some brands and about $1-2 more on others. I suppose that’s the price of convenience.
But they also have a wide selection of craft beers and they even do this thing where you can mix and match to create your own six-pack.
Although, my most favorite part of Cosentino’s is their delicious cakes and pastries.
We’re doing a potluck Christmas party at work next week where everyone is encouraged to bring either a dessert or side dish of some sort and my plan is to just buy a cake from Cosentino’s and bring it. LOL.
They usually have a different assortment each time. All fabulous. The time we were there they had these java cups. Of course we had to try it.
Brian gave it two thumbs up!
I also took Brian to the Flying Saucer, catercorner from the apartment building, where they have fun trivia on Tuesdays. We only stayed long enough to enjoy a pizza and some drinks. We didn’t stick around for the trivia.
You can create your own pizza for about $10. Above is the one like to get. It consists of prosciutto, bacon, and artichoke hearts. I really like the Flying Saucer because the food is pretty good and it’s cheap. And the best part is, if you live at One Light then the walk home is only a minute or two.
Bottom line, downtown Kansas City is amazing. I love not having to drive anywhere. And, even though I’ve only explored a small portion, I can really see us living here and I can’t wait to explore more of the area.
If work makes me move, it will not be the end of the world but the beginning of new adventures. I can’t wait to explore Kansas City with Brian.
Posted on November 30, 2016 by Ching under Things to Do, Travel.
Here are some pictures from our Boulevard Brewery tour last week.
The gift shop.
Beers available for purchase at the gift shop.
Brian’s favorite Boulevard beer.
The Smokestack Room.
My handsome husband.
The Beer Hall.
Beer Hall selfie.
Beer Hall menu.
Here’s what the pretzel dogs looked like.
Cute little photo both trailer at the Beer Hall.
Our awesome tour guide.
The original brewhouse.
The stuff that beer is made of.
Not much going on. They shut down production early for the holidays.
The iconic Boulevard smokestack.
The have a pretty great outdoor terrace.
Our final stop.
Cheers for free beer.
Tank 7 induced beer happiness.
This pretty much sums it up.
Posted on November 26, 2016 by Ching under Things to Do, Travel.
Since Brian loves coffee, I went ahead and scheduled a tour of the Roasterie factory in Kansas City. A tour of Boulevard was already on the agenda and the Roasterie is conveniently located just down the street from the brewery.
If you’ve never had coffee from the Roasterie, you’re totally missing out. Brian tried it for the first time and he’s convinced that it’s the best coffee ever. I’m not a coffee connoisseur so I honestly can’t tell you the difference. However, I do know that I don’t like drinking coffee (unless it’s like a super sweet latte or mocha or cappuccino of some sort) and I don’t mind drinking Roasterie coffee without any sweetener, creamer or other additives.
The tour went off to a bit of a rocky start. Unlike the brewery tour where you just show up, the Roasterie requires you to reserve your spot for the tour on their web site. I checked the schedule and everything and we made reservations for the 12:30 PM tour. I got an email reminder and everything.
Being the punctual people that we are, Brian and I hit the road early so we could arrive in plenty of time for the tour. We arrived at the factory around noon and we saw that the prior tour was still finishing up. We milled around for a bit, checked out the goodies, and took some selfies and such.
At the end of the other tour, we approached the girl who was doing the coffee brewing demo and asked her where we needed to be for the 12:30 PM tour.
She was like, “There isn’t a 12:30 PM tour. We switched to our holiday hours so the next one is at 1:00 PM.”
This obviously made me more than a little cranky because I received an email that clearly said 12:30 PM. She offered to get the manager but I was like “Don’t bother.” I’m just going to tweet you jerks and blog about your ineptitude. I’m kind of passive-aggressive like that. LOL.
Kidding aside, it’s a free factory tour. So we thought we could do this first and eat lunch after. It’s not their fault that we were getting “hangry” and so I was like, whatever. I asked Brian if he was all right waiting a little bit longer and he was fine so we continued to mill about the store.
Anyway, a few other people showed up after us and I think they received the same wrong information that I received. I thinking that the tour people probably realized that something was amiss because we ended up starting our tour around 12:45 PM instead of 1:00 PM as the girl had previously stated. I’m not sure what happened but I was glad they came to their senses and our wait was cut short by 15 minutes.
The tour starts with a short video (less than ten minutes) about the company’s origins and operation. I couldn’t find the whole video on YouTube but I did find bits and pieces of it. Here’s the bit about how it all began:
Here’s the bit that talks about coffee:
Here’s the bit about air-roasting:
Now for some pictures…
This is a picture of the cafe at the factory. The most important thing to remember is to wait until after the tour to go to the cafe because if you mention that you took the tour then you get a discount on your purchase.
They have this little alcove with a neat backdrop and so naturally we took a selfie.
This is a picture of the previous tour that was finishing up when we got there.
They have this whole airplane theme because of “air-roasting” and so in the retail store, they have an area with an airplane chair and wood backdrop. They also have different hats and props but Brian has this thing about putting hats that other people have worn on his head (he thinks it will give him lice or something) so you don’t really get the full effect here.
The idea is you put on a pilot’s hat or use some other prop (there’s a coat tree with various objects you can use) to make your photo more interesting. Alas, this is Brian we’re talking about so the above photo is all I got.
This is us trying to entertain ourselves while we wait for our tour to commence. You can see the coat tree behind us with the various hats and props to play with for the special photo station. At least that’s what I concluded they are for; there weren’t exactly any instructions.
All of the people from the previous tour are gone now. Brian and I are just milling about while waiting for the 12:30/1:00 tour to begin. I’m taking pictures because that’s what I do to pass the time.
Here’s a view of the factory from the retail store.
If you don’t have time for the whole tour, you can always observe the operation from the retail store area.
I took photos of the various artifacts they had on display.
Can you tell I was bored? LOL. That’s what happens when you arrive for your 12:30 tour and you’re told there isn’t one until 1:00 PM.
We managed to occupy ourselves, though. There were plenty of interesting things to see like old coffee-related items in the cupboard.
And just various objects on display around the open space next to the store.
Finally, it was time to tour. They gave each of us hairnets. They also had beard nets for the bearded fellas.
This was one of our tour guides.
He was wearing an interesting outfit, which led me to the conclusion that being a hipster was one of the qualifications for being a Roasterie tour guide.
I wish I had a more to say about these photos but I really wasn’t paying that much attention to what he was saying.
I was too distracted by his outfit. Just kidding!
It’s actually really noisy in there so it’s hard to have conversations or hear anything.
I do know that the hole in the coffee bag is not actually a hole. It’s a one-way valve that allows carbon dioxide to escape the bag because freshly roasted coffee needs to de-gas. It’s so the coffee bag doesn’t explode.
Here’s some helpful information for brewing the perfect cup of coffee at home.
At the conclusion of the tour, we got to watch (and also taste) the same coffee, Ethiopian Natural (pictured above), brewed using two different brewing methods: French press and pour over.
It was all very interesting and we learned a lot. One of my key takeaways is that I actually don’t mind drinking coffee as long as it’s good coffee. LOL.
Also, Brian likes the pour over method for this coffee blend. The thing to remember is different methods lend themselves well to different blends you’re probably going to prefer different methods for the each.
Once you’ve found the blend of coffee you like, from whichever region, then you’ll want to brew it using different methods to see which method you like best. We tried the same coffee and it really did taste different.
Just between us, both methods seemed like a lot of work to me for a single cup of coffee. She said that after doing it a few times, you actually get used it. It becomes so easy you can even do it half asleep; which is good because if you’re like Brian then you’re not really fully awake until after you drink your first cup.
Anyway, here are pictures of some of the goodies and gift sets available at the store.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to drive to the Kansas City factory store to purchase these gifts. Many of them available on their web site. Although, visiting the factory store does have the added perk of a free factory tour.
And, for those who have everything, they also offer “coffee experiences,” which can be arranged for a fee by calling the office.
Before I go, I’m going to leave you with this short film about the Roasterie that I found on YouTube. I think this might have been the old video they used to show before they switched to the new version. Anyway, it’s super informative. Enjoy!
Posted on November 25, 2016 by Ching under Things to Do, Travel.
Brian finally got to experience riding the Kansas City Streetcar this week. The streetcar runs up and down River Market and Union Station seven days a week.
I’d been using it to load up on Pokemon balls and to hunt for Pokemon after work some nights. It’s cool because you can hit several stops as the streetcar moves along, sort of like when we hired that party bus specifically for Pokemon hunting.
I’d ridden the streetcar several times before and the operator never says anything. You don’t even realize they’re there. Except for Brian’s first ride. The operator was like, “How’s everyone doing?” And she goaded us all to cheer. She was like a tour bus driver, all enthusiastic and stuff. It was quite unusual.
“They’re not all like that,” I told Brian.
When we got to Union Station, where the ride ends and you have to wait a few minutes for the streetcar to change direction, the operator emerged from the booth to move to the other end of the streetcar. That’s when we realized we met “Streetcar Sandy,” the jolliest streetcar operator of them all.
I had to get a selfie with her because she’s a bit of a celebrity. She was featured in an article about the KC Streetcar in the Kansas City Star back in May. Feel free to click on the link to read the article.
There’s also this short informational video:
I really love the KC Streetcar. It doesn’t go a long distance right now. It only spans about two miles. But I’m excited for when the streetcar actually gets extended all the way to Country Club Plaza and UMKC. That will be awesome.