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Archive for the year 2016

Experiencing the KC Streetcar

Posted on November 25, 2016 by under Things to Do, Travel.    

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Vacation Time

Posted on November 25, 2016 by under Events, Food and Drink.    

Brian and I took the week off (well, most of the week – Brian actually has to work today) for Thanksgiving and so we started our celebration on Friday evening. We wanted to celebrate the fact that we wouldn’t have to go back to work for a week. And we decided to take our celebration Carrabba’s.

Neither of us had been to Carrabba’s in years. Brian and I figured it’s because we no longer live on that side of town. Besides that though, the restaurant is on a really busy street and we, like most people, like to stick within a few miles of our comfort zone. Whatever the reason, Carrabba’s ended up not making the restaurant rotation. But that changed last Friday.

When we ran into Joe at Brew Ha-Ha a few weeks ago, he talked up their new apple cider sangria. And you know me. Sangria is synonymous with celebration so I talked Brian into going their for our first meal of officially being on vacation.

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It doesn’t look like much but this is the most delicious sangria I’ve had in a really long time. You all know how much I love the blackberry sangria at Carrabba’s. I drink pitchers of it at a time. This recipe is even better than that. You all will have to try it. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

Another thing I like about Carrabba’s is their fresh bread and flavorful dipping oil. I had to get a picture of our bread basket and the oil and herbs.

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Then we started with a couple of small plates. Joe really talked up their small plates too, so we had to try some of them. Naturally.

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This is the arancini. They’re crispy risotto balls. Brian loved these so much that he wanted to order a few more and make a meal out of them.

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We also ordered the meatballs and ricotta. Now this, I could have made a meal out of! The meatballs were so good and I love who the ricotta and romano cheese worked with the pomodoro sauce. Incidentally, the pomodoro sauce is my favorite type of sauce at Carrabba’s. I always get it on my pasta.

Anyway, this is the small plate that keeps on giving. Even after you finish eating the two meatballs, you can still enjoy the sauce by dipping your bread in it.

One of the servers tried to take it away and we told him no. I wanted to enjoy every last drop. Our server confessed that the sauce is her favorite part as well and she makes a meal out of this on some days.

Brian and I agreed that on our next visit, we’re just going to get several small plates and dessert. And maybe a pitcher of that apple cider sangria for me. LOL.

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For our meal we decided to go back to our old standby, the Chicken Bryan. We like not not because it shares Brian’s name but we really do like the flavors. You can’t beat wood-grilled chicken and goat cheese.

I always ask for capellini pomodoro (angel hair pasta in their pomodoro sauce) because the pomodoro sauce is my favorite. And then Brian and I usually just split that. We also split a Caesar salad before the entree so between that and the appetizers we are usually too stuffed to each get our own meal. Doing it this way ensures we don’t have to take home any leftovers. It works perfect.

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We finished our celebratory meal with the sogno di cioccolata (chocolate dream). It’s my favorite dessert there. I liked the dessert Rosa also, which was a light, fruity cake but I think they quit making it years ago.

Anyway, Brian was like, “This is amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever had this before.”

I was like, “Yes, you have! You’ve had it several times and you like it so much that we ordered an entire pan of it for my birthday one year.”

It was my 35th birthday and we bought dessert for everyone. Thus, we ordered the entire pan. Anyway, I searched and searched my Flickr albums for a picture of that pan of the dessert but the next set of pictures were all I could find.

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It was 2011 and I had just started losing weight so I guess I was more concerned with getting pictures of myself than pictures of food in those days. LOL.

Speaking of birthday celebrations, we’re coming back to present day now.

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We went to Margarita’s (another place we haven’t been in a long time) to celebrate Andrea’s 30th birthday on Saturday night. Margarita’s is a popular place for celebrations. I think there must have been a dozen different birthday celebrations going on there that evening.

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Here are a few more pictures from that evening.

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Missy took her shoes off to get down on the dance floor. Naturally, I took a picture with it. They were some cute boots.

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Here’s Missy and Charis together.

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This photobomb by the guy at the next table (found out his name is Corbin) was by far the funniest. I think everyone at their table tried to be part of our picture. LOL.

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And then Brian and I didn’t make the group photo because we had already left by then. We are old and, after dancing a few times, were pretty much done.

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We gave Andrea her birthday present and card, and had a wonderful dinner with friends, and we danced a few times, and then we were pooped. I guess that’s what happens when you get old.

Oh, to be young and 30 again! I miss those days.

That’s pretty much how our vacation started. Come back soon for more of our time off adventures. I have lots to share!

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We Have Boxes!

Posted on November 24, 2016 by under Confessions, Life.    

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So I got some boxes from work to help with grandma’s move to the new place. Brian got some boxes from the basement. OUR basement.

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This is filed under #confessions because yes, we buy wine by the case (at least once, sometimes twice a month). That’s not even the saddest part. The saddest part is that our alcohol budget sometimes surpasses our food budget.

But hey, it works great when someone has to move. We have boxes!

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Pictures from Our Tour of Victoria Falls

Posted on November 24, 2016 by under Family, Life.    

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It was bright and sunny that day so Brian loaned grandma his sunglasses. Doesn’t she look absolutely stylish in them?

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One of the things I liked about the place is that they had chairs everywhere so any time you got tired of walking you could just have a seat as needed.

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This is grandma going through her long list of questions with Tom, facility director.

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This is Brian pretending to pay attention. Just kidding. He really was paying attention. I promise.

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One of grandma’s favorite nurses moved here from the place where she currently lives. We ran into her and we had a nice visit.

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All of the residents we encountered seemed super happy to be living there. Everyone appeared satisfied and happy with the service. There was this one guy in a scooter who was really funny. He was like, “You guys must be pretty special to get Tom here on a Sunday.”

I love the aviary that they have in the middle of the room.

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Here’s a better picture of it.

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You don’t need fake nature sounds when you can hear real birds chirping away.

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This would probably be my favorite spot if I lived there.

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I find bird sounds so calming and relaxing.

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I also like the nice private courtyard in the middle of the facility.

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We walked through there to get to the dining hall.

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It will be the perfect spot for nice days.

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Brian loved the train trolley in the middle of the dining room.

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It’s a nice touch.

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There are also booths in there so you can eat inside the trolley if you like.

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There’s also a beauty salon onsite.

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And a bistro for the dessert socials.

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This is where they play bingo and movies.

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There are also various game tables like billiards and shuffleboard, which is perfect for the more active residents of the facility.

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And all of the hallways are nice and wide. Perfect for zooming around in a motorized chair or scooter.

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There are lots of activities for the residents, which gives everyone ample opportunities to socialize.

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Here’s the November calendar up close.

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The best part is that all residents are issued a safety pendant that they can push in case of emergency. This would have been perfect that time that grandma fell in her apartment. It might have saved her from further injuries from having to crawl over to the phone. With this, she can just push the button and help would be on its way.

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I liked the facility overall but this is by far our favorite feature. We are looking forward to moving grandma here in a few weeks. I think she will really love it here.

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Triple Birthday Bash and Kansas Humane Society Benefit

Posted on November 22, 2016 by under Events.    

Jenni and her roommates, Dom and Val, hosted an awesome event last weekend. They all had November birthdays so they decided to have a triple birthday celebration while raising money for the Kansas Humane Society.

The night’s festivities included a vegan soup/chili cookoff, Tetris tournament, and ping pong tournament. Cookoff participants got three voting tickets while spectators could purchase five voting tickets for $5 (additional voting tickets could be purchased for $1 each). To assist in the cleanup, the environmentally conscious hosts asked everyone to bring their favorite mugs and then Dom also awarded a prize for the best mug. (Janice won the prize for best mug.)

I attended mostly to celebrate Jenni’s birthday but also to compete in the Tetris and ping pong tournaments, which were $5 each.

The Tetris tournament was played bracket style with seeding determined by individual time trials prior to the official start of tournament. It was a single-elimination tournament bracket with the exception of the championship match which would be best of three.

The ping pong tournament was also a bracket style with seeding based on self-reported level of skill. Similar to the Tetris tournament, the bracket was single-elimination except for the championship match which would be best of three as well. The added twist in both tournaments is that any match loser could declare a rematch for an additional $5 fee. It is a fundraising event, after all.

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The game was projected on the wall which made for giant Tetriminos.

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There were some serious competitors.

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I hadn’t played Tetris in years until that night so I really appreciated the opportunity to practice before the tournament started.

It didn’t help much as I lost to James. However, I don’t feel too bad because he ended up becoming tournament champ. Well, Dom and Val did the best in the Tetris tournament but they both agreed to drop out because it would be silly for them to win their own trophies and prizes. I think Dom was the true Tetris champion but James performed the best out of everyone else.

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This is him in full concentration mode.

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I also got to experience Tron pong for the first time ever that night. They put neon lights around the table and along the top of the net and used glow in the dark ping pong balls. It was definitely interesting.

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We didn’t have to play in the dark, though. We played ping pong normally and the Tron pong was simply an option for the championship match, if the competitors so chose. I don’t think the championship match was played in the dark but I don’t know for sure because I didn’t stick around long enough. I didn’t fare very well in the ping pong tournament either. I was the bottom seed and had to face Dom in my first match. Obviously, I didn’t advance.

Dr. Barbara Chaparro, Director of the Software Usability Research Lab at Wichita State University, took down the ping pong tournament. I had no idea of Dr. Chaparro’s serious ping pong prowess until that night.

Here’s what the trophies looked like:

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Each of the tournament winners also won a Valily Lane vintage dictionary print and $10 toward Valily Lane merchandise.

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Val also threw in a nice reusable tote for each of the winners to hold their goodies.

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Anyway, Brian and I arrived at the party around seven o’clock and Jenni was nowhere to be found. After I got eliminated from both the Tetris and ping pong tournaments, Brian and I stuck around for a while hoping that Jenni would eventually show up. A couple of hours later, there was still no sign of Jenni. Brian concluded that she bailed on the party.

Since we were mostly there to celebrate with Jenni, and she was nowhere to be found, Brian and I left the party relatively early. I think we left around ten. We later found out that Jenni was asleep in her room the entire time. What the heck kind of party host sleeps through most of their party?

On a positive note, they raised $672 that night for the Kansas Humane Society. That’s pretty darn awesome. This was by far one of the best ideas for a birthday party ever. I hope they decide to do it again next year.

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