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Archive for January 2017

Andover Rotary Club

Posted on January 27, 2017 by under Things to Do.    

Due to my current work assignment, I’ve missed my Rotary Club meetings over the last few months. This month hasn’t been too bad, however. I was actually fortunate enough to be able to attend two consecutive club meetings. And I’m so glad that I was present for them because they were both amazing meetings.


Last week Geri Appel, Dr. Fred Heismeyer, Joyce Heismeyer, Greg Sullivan, and DeAnn Sullivan talked about their visit to Russia last summer as part of the Open World Program. In Fall 2015, local Rotarians had the opportunity to host seven Russian business people through the Open World Program. In summer 2016, it was their turn to visit. The group has been visiting local Rotary Clubs to share their FABLES (tales from their trip) and promote the Open World Program.

FABLES stands for Food Adventure Beauty Lore Entertainment and Surprise and is kind of a fun way to recall one’s travel adventures. I thought it was pretty clever anyway and will probably talk about my own trips in the same manner in the future.

I was completely enthralled as they talked about the food (and drinks) they tasted, the place they visited and all of the beautiful architecture they saw, interesting things they learned and did, and shared stories from the trip. Their Open World experience has been so overwhelmingly positive that I would actually consider being one of the hosts for the next delegation of Open World visitors to Wichita.


Geri even brought samples of her homemade horseradish vodka, which they first tasted during their visit. She’s learned how to make it and has never run out.

For the record, I did not try the vodka because I went back to work after the meeting. I wasn’t concerned about missing out because I’m sure there will be another opportunity to try it.


Yesterday our speaker was Barry Style, all the way from Zimbabwe. Barry Style serves as Director of the Chiredzi River African Wildlife Trust (CRAWT) and his family also operates the Buffalo Range Safari. CRAWT not only helps through their anti-poaching and preservation efforts but they also support the community. One of the projects that they have undertaken is a school, which did not have running water until recent upgrades were made with financial help from the Andover Rotary Club. This project has not only made a positive impact on the lives of the students, but the community as a whole.

The efforts on behalf of the Andover Rotary Club have been spearheaded by Dr. Ron Kutter and Lori Kutter, who have traveled there on a number of occasions to help. Let me know if you want to learn more and I’ll be happy to put you in touch with Ron and Lori. They are picture below next to Barry Styles.


Pictured above: Warrick (Barry’s nephew), Ron, Lori, Barry, and Troy

I am so grateful that my work schedule over the last two weeks allowed me the opportunity to attend both meetings. I’m hoping that, once the dust settles, my schedule will return to normal and I’ll be able to start attending Rotary Club meetings regularly again. Connecting with my fellow Rotarians and listening to our wonderful speakers always rejuvenates me.

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Nara Restaurant

Posted on January 22, 2017 by under Food and Drink.    

Nara Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I discovered a new favorite restaurant last week with an excellent “happy hour” menu. We barely made it in time. I think we got there ten minutes before happy hour ended but they were nice enough to let us order from the happy hour menu, which was great because there were lots of different menu items to choose from at a fraction of the regular price.


We sat by the bar, which is where happy hour happens.


There was hardly a soul in the joint when we got there but by the time we left the place was buzzing. I don’t think there were any empty tables by 8 PM.


I love that you have a great view of the downtown Kansas City skyline from the restaurant. If you look on the upper left corner of this picture, you can actually see the One Light Luxury Apartments building.


Since everything was so inexpensive during happy hour, Selena and I started with some edamame and ordered several different things.


This is the appetizer platter which consisted of two fried shrimp and pork gyoza (fried dumplings), two shrimp shumai, two crab rangoon, and a crispy pork and shrimp egg roll. All for $5.


We also had some friend mac-n-cheese.


The best part about chicken yakitori at Nara is you get three skewers instead of only two like at Drunken Fish. The yakitori at Nara is also much more flavorful. It’s pretty plain at Drunken Fish.


We also had the beef yakigyu, which doesn’t look like much but it was also very good. Finally, I got an order of California roll because I wanted Selena to try it.


You’ll never guess how little we spent on our dinner. Our total for all of that delicious food came to a little over $27 ($35 after tip). I think this place might have the best happy hour in all of downtown Kansas City. It’s definitely my favorite.

I can’t wait to go back!

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The FLIP + CHING Plank Challenge

Posted on January 16, 2017 by under Life.    

Brian and I have been on various health kicks over the years. There was that time that we bought a Bowflex thinking that it would allow us to workout at home more. In reality, it turned out to be the most expensive cat-toy-slash-coat-rack that we had ever bought. We realized shortly after that we didn’t have the self-discipline to workout at home, we joined the YMCA only to give up on it a few years later because we decided that “we no longer had time to go.” It was a really short hiatus because we rejoined a few months later and rediscovered racquetball (one of our favorite activities at the Y from years before).

Those were fun times. We loved playing racquetball. Here are some funny racquetball memories:

I have a love-hate relationship with working out. There are times that I get into a regular routine and there are times when I fall off the wagon completely. There was even a time when I had multiple gym memberships. We had a Genesis Health Clubs membership, YMCA membership, and we were also paying for access to our wellness center (fitness/workout facility) at work. That’s when we were living at Quarters at Cambridge, which incidentally also has a small fitness center onsite.

We were most successful with our health goals around that time. I actually got down to 120 lbs and had to get rid of a bunch of clothes.

Brian has never enjoyed going to the gym. Actually, he doesn’t like working out period. Here’s Brian doing P90X. We often joke that he doesn’t like to sweat.

We usually have to make a contest out of it in order to get him motivated enough to workout. That’s why I was surprised when he came up with the idea of the “Plank Challenge” at the beginning of the year.


He read somewhere that doing four 1-minute planks for 28 consecutive days is good for you so he suggested that we do it. I loved the idea, naturally, because it’s something that we can do together, even when we are apart. And, it’s not too challenging and it takers hardly any time at all — six minutes tops.

We started on January 2 and haven’t missed a single day yet. Although, I have to say that I feel like I’m forcing Brian to do it with me some days. I think he wouldn’t mind it one bit if we “forgot” to do it one day. He hasn’t gotten too whiny at yet but I have had to remind him that this was his idea — and it’s a great one!

This challenge is going so well that we’re actually thinking of doing a different challenge each month for the rest of the year. Our plan is to come up with something quick, easy, and doable to do for 28 days straight each month.

We’ve also been inspired to restart our weekly weigh ins. I couldn’t find the old spreadsheet we used for the Battle of the Brubakers that we did years ago so I had to create a new one. You can keep track of our progress here:

Anyway, our 2017 is off to a great start. How about you? How is your year going so far? Will you be doing next month’s challenge with us?

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My News Radio Addiction

Posted on January 14, 2017 by under Hobbies.    

About three months ago I decided that I needed a change to my morning routine. I didn’t have the time to look at the news on Google like I used to and I remembered my wife telling me that our local station 89.1 KMUW was an NPR station. I had listened to NPR before but it had been a long time and I had forgotten what a pleasure it was to listen to their programs.

One morning I decided that I was tired of listening to the rants of the Todd and Tyler show on T95. This was just after the election of Donald Trump and they were both big Hillary Clinton supporters (even though they say they aren’t). Now, I’m not really a political person. I mean, I haven’t even voted and I’m in my 40s. But at the time, I thought it was the only station that had talk radio and no music and I wanted to listen to a station that I could just turn on and let be background noise. So, on this morning I was listening to them rant on and on about the election and how America was screwed but then in the same sentence say we needed to give him a chance. I was fed up with all the double talk and stuff so I changed the station. After years of listening to them, I was finally done. I turned the radio over to KMUW and started listening to them instead.

Since then my radio has not changed from that station. I find it very relaxing to listen to the news on my way into work and on my way home. I feel that their commentary is very neutral (although, I have noticed a few people will write stories with a slight lean towards the conservative side) and they do a good job of sticking to the facts. I like the fact that they keep the articles short. This way they optimize the amount of articles they can fit into the time they have. About a month ago, I found their app and down loaded it. Now I have the ability to finish my news anywhere by streaming it from my phone. If I had a job that I didn’t have to take or make phone calls, I would probably just have NPR running all the time. I can say this, I do turn off the radio when they start playing music or that kind of stuff because I just like the news. It keeps me informed.

Once, when I was in college, I was told by my English Professor that I’m “a wealth of useless knowledge.” At first, I was kind of offended. And I think he could tell. He quickly came back and explained, “That’s not a bad thing. The world needs people like you. So many of us try to focus on the useful knowledge and push the useless knowledge out of our minds but what is useless to some is useful to others. If we all pushed out the useless knowledge then it would simply be gone. Then, in the event that we actually needed it, it wouldn’t be there. But because of people like you, people who like the useless knowledge, we will always have it in the world, available whenever it presents itself to be useful again.”

For a while I didn’t really understand it. However, as got older, I realized that he was right. My focus has always been on the stuff that most people don’t want to think about. My NPR addiction has helped me to keep up with that useless knowledge. I like the news that they cover. It’s not always the mainstream media news. Sometimes it’s obscure news that rarely gets coverage. I like that news. I find it more interesting than the regular news that I can absorb just about anywhere.

I really hope that KMUW will continue to be an NPR station and I hope that NPR will continue to report the news as they do now. As long as they continue down the same path, I will always be a loyal listener.

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The First Day of the New Year

Posted on January 8, 2017 by under Events, Life, Zumba.    

Brian and I are pretty strategic about what we do on New Year’s Day because we understand how it can set the tone for the entire year. I’ve already mentioned how we never want to stay out too late on NYE and be hung over on NYD. We want to be productive and on our A-game on NYD so we can be productive and on our A-game for the rest of the year.

We start preparing for NYD weeks in advance. Normally, we clean the house top to bottom, clean and stock the fridge, organize the pantry, organize my closet (which means getting rid of a bunch of clothes that no longer fit, etc.), organize the linen closet, clean our cars – all of that stuff to ensure that everything is all set for NYD.

It was so much easier when Brian worked for Viega because they always shut down during the holidays. I would save some of my vacation time so that Brian and I would be off work together at the end of the year and we could tackle all of the tasks that needed to be done. The last couple of years have been a bit more challenging because Brian doesn’t have as much time off so now he has to work between Christmas and New Year (and he didn’t before). I would try to tackle all of the projects by myself but then I would end up completely overwhelmed. Brian has always been the more organized one of the two of us.

Anyway, we just tried to do what we could this year. Both cars were clean on NYD. I managed to get rid of a bunch of Zumba gear and free up some space in the closet. The house was tidy enough. It’s a mess right now, but it was in decent shape for NYD. Clutter is a constant battle and as long as it’s manageable most of the time then we consider it a win.

Brian and I rang in the New Year in our traditional way and went to bed at a decent time (for NYE standards) – about 1 AM. We got up at 5 AM to feed the dogs and let them out to do their business. I usually take my thyroid medicine at that time as well. We went back to bed to catch some more Zs and then eventually got up at a reasonable time to start our day.

We had a very important appointment that day: brunch at Newport Grill and then a WSU men’s basketball game (Wichita State vs. Bradley).


Here’s a post-brunch picture of me and Brian. It has been a long time since our last visit to Newport Grill. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy their brunch. I’m so glad that April suggested it for before the game.


April also loaned us her BG parking pass but we didn’t end up needing it. The weather was perfect that day and it was a beautiful day for a walk. We also arrived at the arena super early so we found decent open parking.


This is April and her husband Nelson. April is the reason we got to go to the game. She works for the Wichita State University Foundation and was kind enough to invite me and Brian along. Thank you, April!


Though the game wasn’t very exciting (it was a blowout), we had a great time.


The final score was actually 100-66, Wichita State. Some people actually left with 10 minutes more to go because it was pretty much a forgone conclusion. There was no way for Bradley to recover. However, we stayed for the whole game because (a) we don’t get to go to that many men’s basketball games and (b) I really wanted to see WSU hit triple digits.

What a great way to start the New Year!

Oh, I didn’t realize this before, but on days when the women play after the men you can stay to watch the women’s basketball game for free with your men’s basketball game ticket. I suppose that they don’t sell enough tickets for the women’s basketball so they can afford to give seats aways. We didn’t stay for the women’s basketball game but I kind of wish that we would have. It would have been more exciting.

WSU women lost to UNI but it was a close game (63-61).

I think Nickira and I actually watched the WSU vs. UNI women’s basketball game around this time last year. I can’t remember who won. The women’s basketball team is actually really fun to watch. I wish more people would go to their games.

Since we started our year off with a men’s basketball game, maybe this will be our year of supporting WSU athletics. What you’re doing on the first day of the year is what you’re going to be doing all year long, right?

As far as resolutions go, Brian and I don’t really have new year’s resolutions. However, we do sit down and for our annual budget meeting (which we revisit halfway through the year) and then we also sit down to set goals. Our three main objectives this year are as follows:

  1. Reach our respective goal weights by October so we don’t go on my 40th birthday trip completely disgusting.
  2. Pay off our trip so we can enjoy our trip guilt-free.
  3. Get our house organized so we’re not scrambling in the event we have to sell it.

In addition to our joint goals, I have the following personal goals:

  1. Read 24 books by the end of the year.
  2. Run/walk at least 1 mile everyday.
  3. Complete my 10K Runner app.
  4. Travel to some place I’ve never been.
  5. Eat out less and eat at home more.
  6. Crochet a Zumba Fitness beanie.
  7. Complete 200 volunteer/community service hours.
  8. Stay employed.

I also have ZIN goals:

  1. Add two new songs to the playlist every month.
  2. Learn everybody’s names.
  3. Teach facing class, move around, and teach from different parts of the room more.
  4. Get licensed to teach Strong by Zumba at #ZINCON.
  5. Build and maintain a loud, fun, welcoming class.

So that’s pretty much the our first day of the year. Brunch, basketball game, and goal setting. Oh, I forgot to mention that we also took the dogs out for a nice, leisurely walk. We did about a mile and a half altogether so that actually satisfied my run/walk goal for the day.

We’ve just completed the first week of the New Year. So far, so good.

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