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A Different Kind of NYE

Posted on February 8, 2020 by under Events, Hobbies.    

Last year we hosted a NYE party at our house. This year we decided to keep it pretty low key. We neither hosted nor accepted party invitations. Although, as the NYE drew closer, the prospect of sitting at home watching Brian play video games all night started to seem less and less appealing. Thankfully, I managed to finagle a last minute invite to Betty’s NYE pickleball party at the Andover Community Center.

Let’s see… Sit on the couch all night while Brian plays video games or go to Betty’s party at ACC and play some pickleball. It was a no-brainer.

Michael, Bill, and Karen all went and got to play some games together. I also made some new friends that night. Brian even came out after he finished his livestream. It was a blast! Pickleball parties are the best.

Here are some pics…

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Friends at Zumba

Posted on February 3, 2020 by under Zumba.    

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It’s been a while since I’ve been excited about something Zumba-related but over the holidays, I had two friends visit my class. One is Anna Lue from Texas (right). I met her last year when she randomly selected my class to check out while she was in town visiting family over the holidays. Now, I invite her to join class every time she’s in town. She even did a couple of songs for us!

The other is my friend Teresa (middle) who I met through Leadership Wichita a few years ago. She lives as far West as you could possibly live in Wichita (almost to Colorado – LOL) so, though I have invited her to check out my class several times before, this was her first time joining. As an added bonus, she even coordinated with our outfits. It was the best day ever.

I love having friends visit my classes. I always enjoy sharing with them all the things that I’m passionate about. Zumba being one. Though, lately I’m less passionate about Zumba because pickleball has captured a considerable amount of my time and attention.

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Here’s our group pic from that day. It was awesome. Hands down the best class I’ve had in a long time. I absolutely love it when friends visit! It makes class extra fun.

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Anyway, if you’d like to check out one of my classes, above is my current schedule. I’m currently down to seven classes as week since giving the Sunday morning Aqua Zumba class at South YMCA to Brynden back in December. I had to give it away because I wanted to be able to play pickleball at Chicken N Pickle on Sunday mornings. I may be dropping another class or two here soon to make more time for pickleball. Better join while you still have several options. See you in class sometime! If not, maybe I’ll see you at pickleball. Either way, hope to see you soon.

Until next time. GNG.

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HomeGrown, Finally

Posted on February 2, 2020 by under Food and Drink, Reviews.    

I met Jan for lunch at the Bradley Fair HomeGrown on the first day of my holiday break. HomeGrown has been around for a while now. Their first location on the West side of Wichita opened a few years ago. I’d heard plenty of people say how great it is but since it was all the way out West, we just never got around to going.

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The Bradley Fair location opened some time ago but because it’s so popular the waits on the weekends are always longer than we have time or patience for. Anyway, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I finally had an opportunity to go. I figured since I was going on a weekday the wait wouldn’t be as bad. There was still a wait but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

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Here are some of the delicious drinks they offer.

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I had a chicken and noodle soup. It was great!

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I can’t remember what Jan had but it looked good too.

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Anyway, I liked it so much that I talked my friend Chris into walking over to the downtown location with me and having lunch there. I had the Cuban this time.

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Here’s a better pic.

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Chris decided to have breakfast.

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Then, since Brian and I were both off on MLK day, we decided to meet at the Bradley Fair location so he could try it. Here’s a pic of his meal, which is what he usually gets at most breakfast joints. Brian said the biscuits were delicious! He said they were the best he’s ever had.

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I had the carnitas breakfast which was excellent. I would totally order it again.

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We invited my new friend Sharmin to join us. This is her avocado toast. Anyway, buying her lunch was the least we could do since she was nice enough to bring me along as her guest to her pickleball sessions that morning at the Wichita Country Club. I will have to tell you about that in another post because it deserves its own write up. And this post is all about HomeGrown.

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Later that same week I was back at the downtown HomeGrown location again. This time with Jenni. Yes, I liked it so much I actually ate HomeGrown food (albeit different locations) three times in seven days.

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This is Jenni’s benedict (above). I wanted to try one of their omelets this time (below). It was great. I’ve yet to get anything on the menu that I didn’t enjoy.

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Anyway, HomeGrown is fabulous. The only downside is that, because it is so good, the wait to get a table is atrocious. However, if you get on their waiting list on Yelp, it’s not so bad. I didn’t know this when we went to Bradley Fair on MLK day. We had to wait almost an hour for a table. Well, I think it was 30-40 minutes but it seemed like forever. At least it gave Sharmin time to run her errand across the street at Trader Joe’s.

The time that I went with Chris to the downtown location, we just ate at the bar so we didn’t have to wait for a table. When I went with Jenni, she got there early and was already seated. Regardless of the wait, HomeGrown is totally worth checking out. Even if you have to wait, the food is worth it! Until next time. GNG.

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Shock ‘N Clause at the New Neighbors

Posted on January 25, 2020 by under Community, Food and Drink, Things to Do.    

I can’t believe I completely forgot to blog about the one of the best things that I was part of in 2019. Our friend Marc discovered the Shock ‘N Clause movement and organized one for our group.

There are many variations of this random act of kindness but our group agreed upon $50 per person (or $100 per couple). It basically works this way: All the participants pool their cash, use the funds to pay the meal, and the remaining cash goes to the server as their tip.

Our group consisted of the #VacayWithJayJay #CostaRica2019 gang plus Mama Dill and two other couples. One of the non #CostaRica2019 couples was friends with the Huntees and the other couple was friends with the Shooks. Here’s a group photo of the most generous bunch of people I know…

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We ended up taking our Shock ‘N Clause to the New Neighbors because none of the other diners could accommodate our large group (we had 15 people total) for brunch. Neighbors holds a special place in my heart because we used to play “bar” poker there back in the day. This was back in our Amateur Poker League (APL) days about fifteen years ago. I actually thought we were going to that same restaurant where we used to play but Brian and I hadn’t been there in years and we didn’t realize they moved. The restaurant is in a new spot and now called the New Neighbors Bar & Grill, instead of simply just Neighbors Bar & Grill.

I think the move to the new location happened a few years prior but the name change happened only a few months ago. After the owner was murdered back in July, the restaurant was closed for some time. The restaurant reopened in October under new ownership and that’s when the name change to the New Neighbors Bar & Grill happened.

Anyway, we were lucky to have a great server who seemed truly deserving of the gift. The restaurant isn’t a fancy place and the menu items are quite reasonably priced. Our group’s entire meal cost under $200. Since we brought $750 with us, our server ended up with just slightly over $550 as her tip. It felt really heartwarming to be able to pay it forward and bless someone’s life in this way specially around the holidays. I’d have to say this was the most gratifying meal I’ve had ever in my entire lifetime.

Speaking of meal, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share pictures of our food. That’s kind of my thing and I’m not about to let you down.

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I had their corned beef hash which was refreshingly very different than any other corned beef hash I’d ever had. I think it’s the best ever compared to all the other ones I’ve had in town, and I’m not just saying that because my heart was full.

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I couldn’t take pics of everyone’s food, because there were two other couples in attendance who I didn’t know very well and I didn’t want to seem weird, but I took as many as I could.

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At least our #VacayWithJayJay pals knew better than to start eating before I could take a photo of their meals. LOL. Seriously though, we have the most amazing and generous bunch of friends. I hope that Brian and I are able to participate when we do this again later this year. Until then, keep paying it forward and GNG.

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The Best of 2019

Posted on January 19, 2020 by under Hobbies, Life, Travel.    

This past year has been memorable in different ways than previous years. We started the year by celebrating New Year’s Eve at our house. And, true to our superstition, we spent a lot of time with the Dills last year because we rang in the new year together. We actually traveled with the Dills a couple of times last year.

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Our #VacayWithJayJay crew traveled to Costa Rica for Jay’s 40th birthday and then we had another trip (this time to Mexico) later in the year with the Dills and the Huntees. The Costa Rica trip was in April and the Mexico (Cancun, Riviera Maya) trip was in November. Brian and I try not to take too many trips in the same year but, as work as been a little cray-cray lately, the breaks were actually helpful in keeping me balanced. Plus, even though we went a little overboard on trips (we also spent a weekend in Austin, Texas following one of my work conferences and, of course, my annual pilgrimage to Orlando, Florida for #ZINCON), I considered the Mexico trip as my birthday present this year. I had fun continuing my second 21st birthday celebration with the Dills and Huntees in Mexico. I enjoyed it so much I think, instead of just having a birthday month, I’m going to have a birthday “quarter” every year. LOL.

Just kidding. I know my birthday does not trump Jesus’ birthday in December, which Jay was nice enough to remind me.

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Speaking of birthdays, I really milked it this year. In addition to all of the birthday dinners Brian and I typically have the entire month of October, my friend Matt organized a birthday-slash-Halloween pickleball party at West YMCA. Never in my entire life had I ever thought that I would have a birthday party at the YMCA. Mainly the Y does kids’ birthday parties but I guess adults who are young at heart can have them there too. It might be the most underrated thing at the Y. Granted, you cannot have any alcoholic beverages at the YMCA (duh?) but grown up birthday parties at the Y can be a lot of fun. Specially if you are part of our ever-expanding Wichita pickleball community.

Pickleball really exploded in Wichita last year. I think Chicken N Pickle had a lot to do with it. I didn’t know this at the time but even before CNP, pickleball already had a huge following in Wichita in the senior circles. CNP made it more mainstream and accessible to everyone. And then we got new outdoor courts at Seneca Park and we brought everyone together — new players and veteran pickleball junkies — on Facebook.

The Wichita Pickleball Connection started last year with just a handful of people and today (exactly a year later) were at about 850 members strong. It’s insane! Yes, today is actually the first anniversary of our little Facebook group.

In terms of pickleball, the biggest event to ever happen in Wichita is the Franklin Pickleball Masters. Sure, there were tournaments that happened throughout the year but the Franklin event brought the nation’s top players to Wichita (a few of them live here, actually — at the time, I just new of Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova but we have some up and coming players like Jocelyn Devilliers and Patrick Smith who live here also) and we got to see pros play the game in real life. It was amazing!

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That weekend was HUGE! I ended up hosting Regina Franco (one of the pros playing in the tournament) and her friend Belinda Dettman completely by accident and sheer luck. They even came to the pre-tournament cookout that Matt hosted at Seneca Park. Regina and Belinda were great house guests and Regina became my first ever professional pickleball player friend.

I really enjoyed watching Regina and her women’s doubles partner Sarah Ansboury play at the big tournament. Of course, we cheered for our hometown favorites, Matt and Lucy, but it was fun cheering for Regina and Sarah in the women’s division too.

Lots of things happened with pickleball last year. The event was added to the Wichita Corporate Challenge. At the time, it wasn’t that big at work yet so I got to play in it (being an early adopter) by default with my friend Chris Wilson. We were the only two people who volunteered for the pickleball event. I suspect that will change this year with pickleball being so popular and highly addictive.

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I also played in the Bob Jackson Friendship Tournament, my first “Light Up Edgemoor” event. There’s a big group that’s organized behind raising money to get lights installed at Edgemoor Park where we already have six outdoor pickleball courts thanks to the efforts of Becky Middleton and others. We are trying to raise money for lights for the pickleball courts so that we can play later in the evening in the summer time when the weather is nice.

Besides pickleball the year was also filled with fun parties. We didn’t attend as many as we did in previous years (as I don’t think I’m on that list anymore at work) but at least we had the opportunity to attend some of our faves:

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In addition, we had the opportunity to attend some events we’d never been to before like the Blues & Brews Festival in Andover, the Gatsby Gala (for United Way Young Leaders), and the Crawl for Cancer, which we actually had a dozens of others who participated in the event with us. We had a mega-team of almost 50 people. Anyway, I know the Cancer Crawl has been going on for years because I have coworkers who do it every year but I think the other two events are one offs.

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Uncle Roy also had a fun birthday ping pong tournament that was a ton of fun. He had one a couple of years ago during the holidays but everyone was busy with travels and other life events that there wasn’t one last year. It’s always a blast but my ping pong skills haven’t really improved much so I didn’t advance in the bracket. I’m not so worried about my ping pong game these days, though.

Another fun thing that happened is my friends from Kansas City came down to Wichita for a weekend and actually took my Zumba class. Brian and I had fun hosting them. They even got to meet grandma when we all had brunch together at Carrabba’s on Sunday. That’s one of the most memorable weekends of the year.

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The one thing that sets this year apart from other years is the number of new friends I made, all thanks to pickleball. I usually make a few new friends each year just through my Zumba classes and at the various events we attend, but this year was unlike any other. I made hundreds of new friends through our Facebook group.

Anyway, I always have fun looking back at the wonderful memories from the year. Recalling all of the great things that happened, interesting places we visited, fun parties we had the opportunity to attend, delicious food we got to eat, new friendships, etc. makes me realize how truly blessed I am and for that I am beyond grateful. This exercise really gets me excited for the current year. I can’t wait to document all of this year’s memorable moments and experiences and then to look back on them with you at the end of 2020. Here’s to a wonderful year ahead!

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