Hyatt Place Topeka has quickly turned into my home away from home. Been staying here for days at a time as I work on my new project assignment. It’s not the greatest hotel in terms of how comfortable the bed is and how clean the rooms are but the staff members are friendly and they’re starting to get to know me. I think that counts for a lot. Unless the place is absolutely gross like that time that Carmen and I got stranded in Atlanta and had to stay at that terrible hotel, I think I’m pretty tolerant of minor misgivings.
Anyway, the Hyatt Place does some pretty cool stuff. For instance, they had a staff pumpkin carving/decorating contest over Halloween. The staff members got really creative. Here are some photos of their unique designs.
I actually voted for the towering cupcake pumpkin one.
There were actually two winners. The witch and the cupcake tied for first place. What do you guys think? Which one is your favorite?
I found a great place to eat while I’m in Topeka, Juli’s Coffee & Bistro. It’s just across from our Topeka office on 8th Street. I eat there almost everyday, whenever there’s enough time to grab lunch.
It’s got unique decor and really cool ambiance.
Even their salt and pepper shakers are cute. There are different ones at each table.
And, they serve breakfast and lunch.
Here are some pictures of food from Juli’s.
I would have more pictures of food except most of the time I’m grabbing my food to go and eating while I work. As you can see from my parking voucher below, ten-hour days are not unusual. I think we’ve had a couple of thirteen-hour days already so ten hours is about average.
I’m still straddling my regular job and my role in the CIS project right now so I’m kind of doing my old work while I’m working on the project. Fridays are pretty much dedicated to getting caught up on what’s happening with the Customer Relations Center, and training my coworkers and team members who have been gracious enough to take care of some of my duties while I work on the CIS project. I’m finally at a point where my major responsibilities are covered so I can start focusing most of my attention on the project.
I’ve been spending most of the week (Monday through Thursday) in our Topeka office. While I’m starting to get used to driving from Wichita to Topeka, I’m not really fond of driving so I’m glad I found a place within walking distance of the office that serves great food. I highly recommend Juli’s if you’re ever in downtown Topeka.
The Boo and Brew Ball was fantastic. It’s a benefit for Dress for Success Wichita which is in its 14th year. Dress for Success helps impoverished women break the cycle of poverty by providing women with professional attire to wear to job interviews, guidance through the career center, job training, and employment retention support programs.
This was our first year attending Boo and Brew. I hope we get invited again next year because it’s not only a great party but it also supports a great cause.
We ran into several people we knew including Aharon (pictured above) and CJ. Also ran into the glamorous Sheona from Backstage Makeup Studio who I met earlier this year when we had our team builder at her shop.
Chef Jason was there also. He offered his services as a live auction item. I think it fetched more than any of the other live auction items that night. Rune won the bidding on that one. I’m too poor to bid on live auction items but I absolutely love the silent auction.
The silent auction is one of my favorite things about these fundraising events. I won two this time around; which reminds me, I still need to call Patton Pest Control and schedule bug extermination service.
Rune’s costume was a big hit. He won a $100 for the best men’s costume. His Darth Vader costume looked so authentic that several people asked to take photos with him.
The Boo and Brew was so much fun. I can’t wait to go again next year.
This is definitely the most elaborate birthday party I’ve ever attended. It was grander than most weddings!
The guestbook was a guitar and drink tickets were guitar picks.
The Western theme decorations were spot on.
The live band was phenomenal.
Here’s a picture of me and Connie.
We also got to see some of our favorite people who we hadn’t seen in a long time.
Brian and I were a tad overdressed for the party because we had another party to attend that same night which was a masquerade ball (more on that next time). We wanted to be there for Connie’s grand birthday, though.
It’s not everyday that one of our friends turns 50 and hosts the party of the century.
I found out about this restaurant from my then hygienist at Wichita Family Dental, Rebecca. She’s moved on but we keep in touch on Facebook. One day last year, while she was cleaning my teeth, she told me that her brother was about to open a taqueria on Douglas. We didn’t really have a restaurant specializing in tacos so I thought it would make an excellent addition to the collection of restaurants in downtown Wichita.
If I remember correctly, opening was delayed a bit. Then I forgot all about the restaurant. And then it finally opened. But, as these things go, they’re always so busy during the first few months. Inevitably they’re understaffed and I end up with bad service and then the negative experience colors my impression of the place. I didn’t want that to happen so Brian and I decided to wait. And then we forgot all about it except for the occasional reminder each time someone we know mentions that they went.
I’d been wanting to check the restaurant out since before it even opened but the opportunity never came up until Nykole suggested that we eat there after our team building activity at the Kansas Food Bank. OMG. I’ve been seriously missing out. The tacos are unlike any other tacos I’ve ever had. The tacos at the Hill come close but you have so much more selection at District Taqueria. If you’re craving tacos, District Taqueria is the place to go.
Here are some pictures of the various tacos we got to try.
As you can see, all of the first timers tried a variety of tacos. They’re $3 each when you mix and match. I wish that I could have tried them all but there’s no way I could eat more than three in one sitting. I suppose this is how they keep you coming back.
Nykole had been there before so she knew exactly what she wanted.
You can also order a bucket of chips to eat with their salsa. You can also get a jar of their queso which is quite different than any other queso I’ve had. Their queso is thicker in consistency and has a bit of a kick. The guacamole was very good but it wasn’t really that different than the guacamole at other restaurants I’ve tried. I do like that everything is served in cute jars, including dessert.
We had the tres leches. It was just as tasty as it looked.
I liked it so much that I decided to take Brian there a week later for my birthday lunch. We both took vacation days off work that Friday. I wanted him to experience District Taqueria because besides the great food, the ambiance is really cool. They even have a shuffleboard table.
This was his plate.
We were both too full for dessert. We will have to go back though, because I really want Brian to try that tres leeches. I know he will love it.
If you’re wondering if you can have beans or rice with your tacos, you can’t. As far as food choices go, there’s really not much else which I think is smart because then the focus is on the wide variety of tacos offered.
Anyway, I highly recommend District Taqueria. Brian and I thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and are ready to go back to sample more tacos.
This blog is ridiculously behind. I’m going to attempt to catch us up.
Did you all see that awesome rainbow that happened last month? It was on October 22. It was an amazing double rainbow. One really vivid one and then another faint one around it. It was a full rainbow too. You could see the arch from end to end. I usually miss these things but I’m so glad that I got to see it. It’s the most beautiful thing I’d seen in a while. I even got a picture of it; though the picture really doesn’t do the rainbow justice. It was amazing. I hope you guys got to see it too.
I love rainbows because they always brighten my day.
Speaking of brightening someone’s day, my extended team (extended because Faith and Amy joined us) and I did a volunteer service day at the Kansas Food Bank. We packed several “Bob Box” pallets from eight to noon.
It was a wonderful team building activity. We not only got to work with one another but we also worked with these ladies from a local church who regularly volunteers the food bank and some employees from Cox Communications who volunteer during their lunch hour. The church ladies arrived around ten o’clock and the team from Cox arrived around eleven. We had such a blast the four hours just flew right by.
I took this photo before everyone showed up. We had a pretty good assembly line going on with just the six of us.
We spent the day bonding as a team offsite so it was a nice break from the daily grind. I like it when we do fun team building activities like panting or crafting and such, but I really like team building activities that involve community service or volunteerism because then we’re not only having fun bonding but we’re also giving back to the community at the same time.
Here’s a picture of us with Kansas Food Bank President & CEO Brian Walker accepting our $1000 donation.
The best part about Westar Energy is that the company encourages employees to do volunteer work and has several matching programs. One of these programs is a team building service match. If we have five employees from the same department do a four-hour service project for a nonprofit then we can request for a $1000 grant from the Westar Energy Foundation to match our time. Of course, the organization and the project have to be vetted first, but it’s great that our company is supportive and encourages community service and volunteerism by donating funds to the projects and nonprofits that employees support.
This was on Friday, October 23. It was a great day for doing volunteer work and bonding with my team. Not so much for the diet, though.
The six of us went to District Taqueria for lunch. I’d never been there before but had been meaning to because it’s owned by the brother of my former dental hygienist. I’m so glad Nykole recommended it. The food was delicious. I have a separate blog post for that because I went back with Brian a week later for my birthday lunch.
Dinner that night was a Granite City with Brian’s Edward Jones office family. His boss (who is also our friend Rune) wanted everyone and their families to get together and meet. Dinner guests consisted of Rune (financial advisor and boss man), Kristen (Rune’s wife who also used to work in their office and still fills in from time to time), their son Eirik, Deb (the senior business office administrator at their office), her husband Mike, Brian (new kid on the block), and me (supportive spouse).
It was a great start to what would be a crazy-busy weekend consisting of groceries with grandma (which Brian usually does while I teach my Saturday morning Zumba class), brunch at the Good Egg, Connie’s 50th birthday extravaganza at the Kansas Star Casino, the Boo and Brew Ball (a benefit for Dress for Success Wichita), packing for Topeka, and bowling. I’m blogging separately about the birthday party and the Boo and Brew event because I have quite a few pictures to share.
We have been so busy lately that the year has just flown by. I’m hoping we’ll catch a break here eventually because we are so behind on house chores it’s not even funny. My having to work in Topeka four days out of the week doesn’t seem to help matters any. More on that in another post also.
We caught up a little bit but not quite enough. Hopefully I’ve have more time to blog this weekend so we can get completely caught up.
Until then, have a fabulous weekend everyone!
Brian and I finally got to try Krispy’s Chicken & Seafood. We were told that it’s the best kept secret in Wichita. The best chicken ever.
I must admit, I was impressed with the offerings: deep fried calamari, deep fried stuffed blue shell crab, chicken and waffles. Where else can you get that? The prices are really cheap too. You can’t beat the value.
Here are a couple of pictures of the inside. It’s pretty unassuming. Like a hole in the wall.
The interior is pretty consistent with the exterior of the place. You wouldn’t really think much of it. In fact, if it hadn’t come highly recommended, I don’t think Brian and I would even think to go inside. Locals rave about it though so we had to try it. We had to see for ourselves what all the fuss was about.
The verdict? It was just okay for me. Maybe I was supposed to order chicken and waffles? Perhaps that would have made a difference. I ordered chicken because that’s what they serve but it was pretty mediocre. The mashed potatoes were just okay too. I really wanted the fried mac and cheese but they were out.
I didn’t plan on order mashed potatoes. Maybe the disappointment of not having the fried mac and cheese clouded my judgement. Who knows? I really was unimpressed.
I do want to give this place another chance, though. I’m thinking of order seafood next time. The deep fried stuffed blue shell crab sounds promising. Though the price makes me worry a bit because they always say that you get what you pay for and that price seems really low to me.
It may be a while before we return. Brian, who was far more unimpressed than I was, isn’t too excited about going back. That, and this joint is clear on the South side of town which isn’t really the best area and there’s not really anything out there that we need so it’s kind of out of the way.
Maybe next year we’ll have forgotten how lackluster our first experience was and we’ll be ready to go back again. LOL.
Brian and I got to spend time at the WPD Crime Lab a couple of weeks ago. It was one of the coolest sessions of Citizen Police Academy, second only to the time we spent at the Wichita Sedgwick County Join Training Facility at Lake Afton.
We got to see the various ways that they can capture finger prints.
Did you know that they can even finger print the inside of duct tape?
We also got to see various gory crime scene photos that night, which Brian got to see more of the following week when they talked about homicides. I missed that session because I was in Topeka for work.
CPA is really cool. I look forward to joining the alumni association if they let me graduate. So far I’ve only missed one session. We are not allowed to miss more than two. Our next session involves canines. Looking forward to meeting some highly trained dogs. I’m glad I will be in town for it.
Anyway, I highly recommend CPA. I hope you guys consider signing up for it.
A few weeks ago, Brian and I had our ride alongs with Wichita Police Department – Patrol North. Recently we had our ride alongs with the Sedgwick County Sheriff. I really enjoy ride alongs because you learn so much, especially what not to do. LOL.
Brian and I both asked for 5 beat but I guess only one of us could do it. Brian ended up being assigned to the ride along on that beat. I ended up assigned to 609, which actually turned out better because we were assigned to the jail and could go anywhere we wanted to go.
One of the surprises of the night was finding out that the shift sergeant went to high school with Brian. They were actually in ROTC together. The way the sergeant told me about how he recognized Brian’s name and asked if Brian went to Derby High made me think that they actually liked each other back then and weren’t sworn enemies. That was cool.
Dinner was another surprise. I didn’t expect that we’d be able to have dinner together, let alone eat at all. The deputies on the South side apparently try to meet up for dinner when they can so Brian and I ended up having a nice dinner with five of the Sedgwick County Sheriff deputies: the deputies that he and I rode with, met up with three other deputies one of whom also had a rider. There were eight of us altogether at dinner. Though we had to eat pretty fast, none of the deputies had to be called away so we were all able to enjoy a nice dinner together with great conversation. And, I was glad that I got to spend time with Brian last night without having to run into him at a crime scene.
Ride alongs are always educational. Here are just some of the gems I filed away in my brain from last night’s adventures.
• Sheriff deputies see everything. Even things we don’t even notice.
• They can quickly change direction by making some crazy u-turns of the “don’t try this at home” variety. It doesn’t matter if it’s a main road with a good amount of traffic. Before you even realize what’s happening, you’re going in the opposite direction. We did this a few times. It was wild. Brian said that during one of the times his deputy did it, he actually had to brace himself against the dash because it was so swift.
• If you have any warrants and somehow end up driving in front of a Sedgwick County Sheriff squad car, you’re hosed. They run almost every license plate they come across. Yes, they do this while they’re driving down the road.
• Do not drive slowly in the fast lane. As annoying it is when this happens to me, it’s a hundred times more annoying when you’re a law enforcement office who’s trying to get somewhere quickly. If the deputy is in a hurry to get somewhere, you won’t get a ticket; however, if they’re just riding around, you will get a ticket because this really pisses them off. Be smart and move to the middle or right lane because the deputies like to drive fast and you’re not going to be able to pace them. Trust me.
• They’re not allowed to pass on the right, which is why the slow drivers in the fast lane are even more frustrating.
• Some deputies are really funny. Brian and I were lucky enough to ride along with a couple of really cool ones. The deputy I rode with had an awesome personality and we got along great.
I’ve done three ride alongs now — WPD Patrol South last year, WPD Patrol North a couple of weeks ago, and Sedgwick County Sheriff last night. I have to say, the one last night was the most memorable and most fun one I’ve had.
It’s not very often that you get to ride in a car that’s going 100+ miles per hour.
In other news, mom got us new bedding as my early birthday present.
Molly likes it.
For Boss’s Day last week my team got me a deliciously beautiful fruit bouquet. Brian doesn’t really eat fruit so I just shared it with everyone at work. The chocolate covered strawberries were my favorite.
Brian and I went to the opera for that evening.
He’d never been to the opera and neither have I so it was a first that we got to experience together. We saw The Grand Duchess , which is a great introduction to opera because it’s light hearted and comedic rather than tragic.
Kaitlyn Costello was marvelous in the lead role. None of the other actors were even close to the level of performance that she gave. They do such a good job with makeup and costumes that I didn’t realize she played Anita in West Side Story last year, which was my absolute favorite show last year.
Speaking of music theater, while we really enjoyed the opera, Brian and I decided that we prefer music theater because then we don’t need subtitles. LOL. Jokes aside, Music Theatre Wichita does a phenomenal job of bringing the best productions to town.
Speaking of performances, I really wanted to see Norah Jones on Thursday but we were not lucky enough to get tickets. They sold out within a couple of hours. Instead I got some tickets to Light in the Piazza, which is another opera incidentally.
I’m hoping that Nickira will want to go to it. We’ve seen a couple of Music Theatre Wichita performances together (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Big Fish) but this will be our first opera if she agrees to go. I hope she does.
Lots of things going on this coming weekend, as is typical these days in Wichita. However, the event I’m looking forward to most is my vacation day off work on Friday!
I don’t usually take my birthday off but it happened to fall on a Friday this year so it’s the perfect opportunity for a three-day weekend. Brian and I were initially going to go to New York until we realized it’s the weekend of the great New York City marathon, which explains why we couldn’t find a decent hotel for less than $600 a night in the entire city. Even though our travel plans got nixed, I decided to keep my vacation day because I really need a break from work. The long days have finally caught up to me.
I still won’t get to sleep in because, in true Ching fashion, the day is already jam-packed. Meeting at the YMCA at 8 AM, massage at Sveta’s at 10 AM, taking Brian to District Taqueria for lunch, quality time in the afternoon, dinner at Sabor, then dancing at Oeno. Don’t even let me get started on Saturday and Sunday activities.
I may need to have a makeup vacation day after this vacation day. LOL. Until next time. Have a fantastic week, everyone!