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Let’s Talk About Balls

Posted on July 23, 2024 by under Travel.    

There was a huge hailstorm on our first night in Omaha.

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The hail was HUGE! Biggest I had ever seen.

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The sound was so loud as it pounded the roof and side of the house. It totally freaked Saki out. She still has PTSD from that major thunderstorm in Rockwall when a tree branch broke the window in our bedroom in the middle of the night.

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Balls were kind of the theme of the day. Earlier that night, before the storm rolled through, Brian and I had dinner at the Blackstone Meatball in the Blackstone district. It was a good thing we ate when we did because we finished dinner and got back to the Airbnb early enough that the hail hadn’t started yet.

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It’s a neat little restaurant that specializes in — you guessed it — meatballs. Brian and I started with their meatball flight so we could sample the various types of meatballs they offer.

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For my meal, I ended up getting spaghetti and meatballs with the pork meatball.

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Brian got a meatball sub with a classic meatball with the spicy diablo sauce and waffle fries.

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I think we must have been there during happy hour because I got a refreshing cucumber cocktail. It was yum!

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Actually, the food was really good and were pleased with our choice for dinner. The only thing we didn’t like was the vegetarian meatball. It was cold and tasted gross.

Other than that, the rest of our meal was great and the service was great. We highly recommend checking out this place whenever you find yourself in the area. Until next time!

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Brian’s 50th Birthday

Posted on July 20, 2024 by under Events, Family.    

In keeping with Brian’s aversion for leaving the country, he decided earlier this year that he would celebrate his 50th birthday in Omaha, Nebraska because he has always wanted to visit their zoo. I had heard of the Henry Doorly Zoo as being one of the top 5 zoos in the nation so I wasn’t completely opposed to the idea. I just wanted to do something more exotic or go to an all-inclusive resort like what we did for his 40th birthday. During the months leading up to his birthday, I gave several reasonable suggestions but he would not be dissuaded. At one point he was like, “You’re trying to hijack my birthday!” I told him I was simply giving him some ideas and providing options. He insisted, “You can do whatever you want for your birthday but, for my birthday, I get to do what I want.”

And thus, our plans to spend the weekend in Omaha was solidified. Omaha is a wonderful city and we had a great time. Arguably, not as good a time as I would have had if I were drinking unlimited free cocktails all day but Brian was on meds around that time and couldn’t drink anyway so we probably wouldn’t have gotten any bang for our buck as I can’t drink that much by myself anyway.

Here’s a highlight video I made of our time at the zoo.

While we were there, we found out that the Henry Doorly Zoo touts itself as the #1 zoo in the world. A title they achieved a couple of years ago and have held on to since so they have been #1 for two years running. It’s an impressive feat considering all the impressive zoos in the US alone.

The next day we went to check out Lauritzen Gardens. It’s nice but our local Botanica is just as nice and far more walkable. Anyway, I much preferred Botanica.

Anyway, I will share more from this birthday trip in my next post. For now, I hope you all enjoy the videos. Until next time!

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Adaptable is My Middle Name

Posted on July 12, 2024 by under Community, Family.    

Several weeks ago, I was chatting with my friend Jenny Marcos. She’s the resident pickleball pro at Rose Creek Golf Club, a fancy schmancy country club in Edmond, Oklahoma. Anyway, I found out that she leads cardio pickleball on Saturday mornings. I’ve actually been asked to lead cardio pickleball before, but not having participated in one, I wasn’t really comfortable saying yes. I’ve attended cardio tennis at Genesis Health Clubs. I’m sure it’s similar but I really would rather not take on something, I know little about and have zero experience. When she told me about her class, I naturally asked if I could attend so I could learn more about it and perhaps take some notes so I can facilitate a similar class in the future.

We picked a Saturday in June which turned out to be the same Saturday that we were driving down to Oklahoma to have lunch with Brian’s parents. We were coming down to celebrate Brian’s 50th birthday and his mom and dad’s 51st wedding anniversary. Cardio pickle is at 9 AM in Edmond so I figured we could hit it on the way down to Oklahoma City, then meet for lunch, before driving back home to Wichita. Easy peazy.

The Friday before, I texted Jenny to confirm that cardio pickle is still on and to remind her that I’m coming. That’s when I found out that they actually canceled cardio pickle for that day because she, along with several others, were competing in the USSP tournament at Life Time that weekend. I immediately told Brian the good news — that we could sleep in on Saturday morning. He was actually not too thrilled about having to get up early and driving down first thing in the morning so we could make the 9 AM class but he was being a good sport about it.

Brian told his dad who asked if we still wanted to come down for lunch. He was worried that it was a long drive just to have lunch. To which Brian responded, “I’m sure Ching has some other plans that she hasn’t told me yet. She’ll probably bring it up over lunch. She’ll go, while we are here —”

Brian shared this conversation with me when he got home from work on Friday night. I was like, “Funny you said that. I was going to ask you if we could swing by the pickleball tournament to say hello to friends and watch some matches after lunch. But I wasn’t going to wait until we were there. I had planned to ask you tonight — like right now — because the restaurant is in the same area. We would literally be two minutes away.”

If there is one thing that you should know about me by now, it is that I always have a “Plan B.” I guess another good thing to note about me is that I’m really good at flexing. Famous coach John Wooden once said, “Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.” This describes me to a tee. My life is not without hardships but somehow, whenever negative things happen (or things just don’t work out the way I’d hoped), I am really good at convincing myself that this is good thing. Finding the silver lining in any situation is one of my many talents.

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It was June 8 (I know the blog is super far behind). We didn’t have to get up early. Instead, we had a nice leisurely drive down to Oklahoma City. We met Brian’s parents at the P.F. Chang’s and had a lovely lunch. BTW, while we were there, we saw that they were building a Fogo De Chao (which is probably open now) so our next celebratory lunch or dinner will probably be there. I love the whole Brazilian churascaria thing but I just can’t justify going unless it’s a special occasion.

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After lunch we went to Life Time to cheer for our Wichita pals. Also go to see some Oklahoma friends who I hadn’t seen in a long time because I’ve been on a tournament sabbatical. But I realized that, just because I’m not playing, doesn’t mean that I can’t come watch and cheer for friends. It was wonderful to see everyone. I even got to see Gene Click who moved to Texas from Oklahoma about two years ago. He just happened to be there as well.

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Gene wasn’t the only surprise of the day. Famous pickleball pro Chris Haworth was also there watching friends play.

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And, even though I didn’t get to do cardio pickle with Jenny, at least I got to see her and watch her play.

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And I got to see some of my favorite Oklahomans — Kumar Krishnan, Josh McAllister, and his girlfriend Mackenzie Wood.

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And Danny McAllister, patriarch of the McAllister pickleball dynasty.

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And the lovely Deana Holman.

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Sure, the day didn’t turn out as planned. It actually turned out better!

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The COOP Bakery & Coffee House

Posted on July 5, 2024 by under Food and Drink.    

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This is my extended post about the COOP, as promised. I wanted to write an extended post because it was my first visit and the place was super neat. I can’t believe I’d never been before. Credit to the Wicked Brew Tour because, had they not been one of the tour stops, I probably still would have never been.

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The COOP has two locations. The original location is in Derby — I’ve never been there — and the second location is on Douglas Avenue in Wichita. That’s the location that we visited.

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What’s most interesting about the COOP is that it’s not like any other coffee shop. The COOP is a cooperative that also happens to have a coffee shop. It’s a place where several local bakers and merchants can sell their goods. It’s a really neat concept. Anyway, I took a bunch of pictures while we were there. Here are a few of them…

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I might have to talk my coworker Chris Townley into going back for lunch one day so we can try their food. They have quite a selection.

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And don’t get me started on the drink menu. It’s almost overwhelming.

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Look at all these flavors!

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Besides that, they might also have the longest happy hour of any place in Wichita. Their “happy hour” starts at 12 PM and goes all the way to 7 PM every single weekday. We’ve gotta go back and take advantage of the half-priced drinks!

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The store is inside an old house so there’s plenty of seating. But you can also reserve rooms at no extra charge. They just ask that you buy something — food or beverage (hopefully both).

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They also have games that you can rent for a small fee. The place reminds me of Sente, the coffee shop downtown where you could play board games. Except this place is better because, instead of just an open area with tables, you can reserve rooms where you and your friends can have a bit of privacy.

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They also have free WiFi so if you’re able to work remotely, you could work there for a change of scenery. Jenni and I actually talked about meeting up there on days that we are both working from home but we haven’t done it yet.

Anyway, it’s a really neat place. I can’t wait to return and bring Brian, and try some more drinks. Until then, I hope you all are making progress on your Wicked Brew cards. I think they’re almost out of shirts!

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2024 Wichita Wicked Brew Tour

Posted on June 28, 2024 by under Things to Do.    

The Wicked Brew tour is one of the drink tours that Brian and I most look forward to doing every summer. We usually start at Wichita Brewing Co. but this year we started it at River City Brewery in Old Town.

Stop #1 – River City Brewing Co.

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We really like the pizzas at RCB but we also got to try something new this time – pork belly lettuce wraps. They were amazing! In fact, I’m thinking we should go back there soon before it comes off the menu.

Stop #2 – Cocoa Dolce

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Instead of having dessert at RCB, we drove down the street to Cocoa Dolce to pick up our second stamps of the tour.

Stop #3 – Mokas Cafe

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I managed to talk Brian into driving me to Riverside Tennis Center for the iPickle Nation Nation Builder Series round robin mini tournament on one Sunday morning so we stopped by Mokas on the way and picked up our third stamps.

Stop #4 – Pennant Coffee

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My friend Chris Townley and I went one morning. I had to buy two iced vanilla lattes in order to get two stamps because I didn’t want Brian’s book to fall behind.

Stop #5 – The COOP

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I once again went with my friend Chris. Neither of us had been to the COOP before so it was neat checking out a new place. I’ll create a separate post about the COOP because I took a bunch of photos. First time there, and all. Anyway, I got an iced vanilla latte and a caffe shakerato – two iced drinks so that I could get two stamps and keep Brian’s book on track.

Stop #6 – The Depot

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Brian and I only cook our Hello Fresh dinners during the week so we can eat out on weekends. On this particular night, we decided to hit the Depot (formerly PourHouse ICT) so we could continue to get Wicked Brew tour stamps. He had a warbeard (his favorite beer from Walnut River) and I had a strawberry summer brew (which counts because it does have beer in it).

Stop #7 – Il Primo Espresso Caffe

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Brian picked up some breakfast burritos (we love theirs), a plain black coffee for him, and an ice vanilla latte for me. I’m not sure if their remodel is complete at this point but Brian went right when they first reopened their lobby. Everything was still very much under construction.

Stop #8 – Wichita Brewing Co.

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WBC is always one of our tour stops. Usually it’s our first stop. We ended up going towards the end of our tour this year.

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Not only do they have good pizzas but they also have great daily specials.

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Stop #9A – Nortons Brewing Company

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We had to visit a couple of places for #9 because Brian didn’t feel like drinking when we went to Nortons. He was on some special meds and didn’t want to mess it up. I was fully intending to take one for the team and drink a couple of beers but their beers are strong and I could not have another after my first one.

Stop #9B – Fairmount Coffee Co.

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I decided to grab an iced brown sugar latte from Fairmount Coffee one morning to get Brian’s book caught up with mine. I had never been there before so I took advantage of the opportunity to check out a new coffee spot. The shop is super cute and made me wish it was around when I was attending Wichita State.

Stop #10 – Reverie Coffee Roasters

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Reverie was our final stop this year. We went there for breakfast on our way out of town to Nebraska. Looking back (at this year and previous years), I guess I always end up doing most of the drinking whenever we do these tours. Brian enjoys getting the free shirt, though. Actually, it’s something that we both look forward to doing every year. I’ve even gotten my friend Chris doing it with us too. He was on vacation in the UK recently so he just finished his book this past week. Just in the nick of time too. The guy at the Visit Wichita office said they are about a week and a half away from running out of shirts. Until next year! #SaveTheDate

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