Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer.

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I took this photo of my grandma Virginia's gorgeous hollyhocks when I was in Jewell County a couple weeks ago. I thought it would be the perfect photo for a summertime check-in. We're making excellent progress on the Summer Manifesto list over here with still a month of summer still to go! It's been just gorgeous this week, and Belle and I have had lots of quality time hitting the pavement in the neighborhood. Sometimes I get sentimental about moving this fall, but then after we move we will get to explore new neighborhoods and chase new squirrels.

I've edited the list for this post to include things that were not complete when we checked in at the end of June.

Eat cheese slippers at Fervere. Status: DONE. Go there ASAP for your own cheese slippers.

Walk to Baskin Robbins. Status: NOT YET. But we did go to Murray's last weekend, and now Baskin Robbins feels less relevant. I don't ever crave ice cream, so that could be my problem. On the other hand, Kip eats ice cream 5-6 days a week. Maybe when he finishes the one currently in the freezer we will walk down there.

Read for fun. Status: YES! And I read a book in July that I'll probably bug you to read too.

Celebrate my uncle's birthday with Mexican food at the Buffalo Roam. DONE. We had the best time.

Take one online grad school class about the best new books in young adult literature. Status: DONE. And with no class until Spring 2015, I feel like I have tons of free time! #sarcasm

Strawberries/blackberries/blueberries/tomatoes/peaches. Status: 3 out of 5 so far. The deep freeze has strawberries, blackberries and blueberries in it. I canned strawberry and blackberry jam as well as blueberry and strawberry preserves. Mom made some delicious relish that we canned last weekend too! But peaches and tomatoes are still ambitious items on the to-do list.

Beat Kip at Putt Putt. Or at least PLAY mini golf with Kip. Status: DONE with an asterik. I didn't win but man did I make him nervous and kept the game close!

Okay summer, let's keep up the good work. Eating more ice cream and saving up some tomatoes/peaches is all that I have left. Pretty good odds we'll get those things accomplished before Labor Day!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cheese Slippers at Fervere.

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We crossed a big one off the summer manifesto list last weekend - cheese slippers! An item left sadly incomplete last year, Kip and I headed down to the Westside to wait in line for cheese slippers on Saturday night. I feel really strongly that waiting in line for food yields the best results. Saturday was hot, but I knew the fresh produce would be stellar and there aren't a lot of Saturdays where we have nothing to do.
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To review, a cheese slipper is ciabatta bread made by Fervere that has cheese inside and on the top. They sell them regularly in the bakery, but during the height of summer they offer fresh cheese slippers on Saturday nights starting at 6 o'clock. Each week the combinations are different and they feature unique combinations of local produce. 
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We waited about 20 minutes after we got there about 6:15. One of the four kinds of cheese slippers was sold out by the time we got to the counter, but luckily they miscounted, and we got to try it after all. If you want to try all the varieties, it's best to be in line closer to 6 o'clock because they often sell out within the hour.
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It was hot waiting outside, but the heat was the worst in the bakery while we waited for our cheese slippers to be done. It would feel awesome to go in December when it's cold outside, but then the produce wouldn't be fresh. #summerdilemma
 photo Blog_0648.jpg The three varieties that we tried were succotash with nectarine and cilantro, egg, garlic and cheese curd, heirloom tomatoes and basil and garlic. We sat on a stoop near the car and ate the big slices of hot fresh bread & produce and wished we had something to drink. Some people went to Little Freshie for sodas and snow cones, but Kip & I were ready to eat not wait in another long line for drinks. Next time we'll take water bottles!

It's probably tough to pick a favorite, but the egg and the tomatoes were the right proportions of topping to bread. The poor nectarine cheese slipper was pretty heavily weighted down with fresh veggies and fruit. We didn't eat them all on Saturday night, and they were still delicious the next day for breakfast and snacks. Kip will tell you that three cheese slippers for $24 is a bit expensive, but he also will tell you they were incredibly delicious and worth a trip once a summer. I tend to agree.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thirty-One.

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I turned thirty-one last Saturday. My 30th birthday was a month long celebration with family and friends in Kansas and Colorado, and it was nice to roll into the 31st year on a 1945 tractor with my family and Kip in Jewell County. What a difference a year makes, and I can't believe the blessing this guy is to me every day.

My pal Kate once told me that your spouse is the person you want to sit on the couch with every night, and while Kip and I excel at big adventures and projects, we also love sitting on the couch together. On Tuesday, Kip laughed so hard he almost cried when he looked over to see me sobbing during the opening of "America' Got Talent." I don't know any of the acts, but man, I could not resist the success stories as they described all the people who moved straight to Radio City Music Hall. #realtalk

The happy birthday wish that most people sent me was about how my 31st year was going to be SUCH a good one. I can't remember a recent year that wasn't a good one, but yes, I'm pretty excited about 31 and marrying Kip in November. Add in BOTAR exec, season football tickets, house projects at Kip's, and a sweet honeymoon that we just booked, and I'm beside myself with all the fun ahead.
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My uncle Keith was in Kansas City the day I was born. From that day on, he's had to share his birthday with me. He's always been gracious about it, but I'm glad we could really highlight and celebrate his big 60th birthday in Mankato this year. I couldn't ask to share a birthday with a better uncle and role model.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jewell County Threshing Bee 2014.

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Over the weekend, Kip, Lauren and I traveled with my mom to visit family in north central Kansas where we spent time with grandparents, her brother, six of her first cousins plus assorted spouses and kids. It was a lot of family time in the very best possible way. Kip too! He does great meeting new people and can talk to anyone about anything.

Many of my mom's family live locally, but her first cousin Rod came from Laramie with his wife Sandy. He's a professor at the University of Wyoming, and they brought along their middle son, Colin and his wife Katrina. He's a professor at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. I'd like to pretend they were all coming for my 31st birthday, but Uncle Keith's 60th birthday was probably the bigger draw. It's a close race between that and the tractor parade.
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It was the weekend of our favorite July activity in Jewell County, the Threshing Bee. Saturday morning, Lauren, Aunt Bethany and I did the fun run/walk in town. We went out to the farm for a late breakfast and to look at a HUGE cottonwood that fell recently during a storm. Everyone likes to quiz the arborist about trees, and Kip's always happy to oblige.
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This might be the first photo of the four of us - usually my mom or Kip are behind the camera for Luhrs Ladies group shots! I loved that we had green "exhibitor" ribbons to go with our Threshing Bee pins. Kip and I totally matched in our purple pride, but he kept pointing out that we needed a patriotic flag for our tractor. Maybe next year we can add that, and I'll wear my favorite Umbro shirt.

The tractor parade was one of the longest in recent years. Kip drove the tractor across town earlier in the day, so he did not mind that I drove the 1945 Oliver on the parade route. He prefers getting to put it in 5th and not obey the traffic laws while I'm pretty happy with keeping it in 2nd while people pass us on foot.
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Kip's first Threshing Bee deserved a special hat (pictured above) that matched my uncle Keith's, and he loved checking out all the demonstrations, the tractor pull, etc. We watched the steam engine powered saw mill after the parade. He was like a big kid watching, learning and figuring stuff out.

Also, he's wearing contacts. It took me a couple days to get used to the "no glasses Kip," but it is probably going to be okay. Safety wise, Kip wearing contacts at work makes much more sense. I just regret breaking his last pair of glasses.
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After a quick break, the party started at Keith & Bethany's! Over sixty friends and family members came by to celebrate Keith's 60th birthday. We had great barbeque, homemade queso dip, frosted sugar cookies and chocolate chip M&M cookies. And quite a lot of beer and wine.

About the time the party winded down at the house, the beer garden down at city park was heating up. Many of the guests moved down to continue celebrating. The great band,"Free Beer and Chicken," played a special request for Keith's birthday and even Kip danced a little bit. Just a little.

It was the coolest Threshing Bee anyone could remember, and the family turnout made it so fun. We missed my cousin Sasha and her husband Mike terribly, but they had a wedding they couldn't miss. Kip probably said about a half dozen things about future Threshing Bee visits, so you can count on us to be back.

Monday, July 21, 2014

BBQ Showdown: Oklahoma Joe's and Q39.

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When we talked to some friends about going to Q39 for the first time, they told us to order the Pit Master brisket sandwich. It's a lot like our favorite sandwich from Oklahoma Joe's, the Z-Man. Always up for a trip to Oklahoma Joe's, I delivered a Z-Man to Kip at work early in the week so it would be fresh in our minds for comparison. This is a sandwich for the ages with brisket (I always order it with pork), provolone, onion rings and bbq sauce. My mouth waters while I describe it.
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At Q39, the comparable sandwich, the Pit Master, is loaded with brisket, sauce, provolone, and onion straws. Kip and I decided to split one Pit Master and one "No Jackin' Around." The Jackin' Around sandwich features pulled pork, jalapeno jack cheese, and bbq sauce on thick slices of white toast.

Q39 definitely wins in the beer category with an impressive list of taps and bottles, and we ordered Tallgass Velvet Rooster from Manhattan (farmhouse ale like Tank 7). The beans were good, but OK Joe's wins hands down for their fries. As for the sandwich showdown, Kip and I both LOVED the Jackin' Around sandwich. It could be the variety of the thick toast or my preference for pulled pork over brisket. Pit Master was also very good, but we are Oklahoma Joe's people when it comes to sandwiches with onions and provolone on them.

The next time I go back, I'm totally having the Jackin' Around. I thought it was just amazing.
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This is not a unanimous verdict, and I think my pals the Andersons would disagree about what's the best! You really should try it for yourself. Go ahead and call me first, I'd like to go back. It's a great BBQ location in a town that already has a lot of great BBQ locations. Q39 helps fill the need for nice, sit down BBQ that is done by people who know the best ways to make pork