Thursday, July 24, 2014


 photo Blog_0644.jpg
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.
 photo Blog_0640.jpg
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.

 photo Blog_0638.jpg
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.
 photo Blog_0639.jpg
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.
 photo Blog_0645.jpg
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.
 photo Blog_0643.jpg
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.
 photo Blog_0641.jpg
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.

 photo Blog_0621.jpg
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.
 photo Blog_0622.jpg
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.
 photo Blog_0623.jpg
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

Friday, July 18, 2014

About Registering.

 photo Blog_0630.jpg
Kip’s a good sport about all things wedding related. I have a surplus of ideas about DIY projects, and he has jumped on board for almost all of them. Except lining the envelopes for the invitations – when I explained it to him, he pretty much said, “Good luck,” and went back to his iPad. Kip is a realist, my friends, and I have big gold lined envelope dreams.

Completing the wedding registry was on our to-do list for late June/early July, and the experience was pretty similar to all other wedding projects – really easy. I’ve been hanging out a lot in the kitchen since I moved in with my friends on Juliette our senior year at K-State. I like to read recipes, try new ones and perfect some old ones. All my experimenting and learning in the kitchen has pretty much been with the same pots and dishes my dad picked up for me at Target or Walmart in 2004. Along the way, I added a few dishes and more cookie sheets than I care to disclose in public, but I was definitely ready to choose some updates for our home together.

And the process was a breeze. Kip either thought everything was fine, did not care, or when he did have an objection we easily picked another item. I deferred to him on drinking glasses and knives. Everyone always says that the groom likes carrying around the gun and scanning everything, but Kip was barely impressed with that job at Crate & Barrel. We also registered at Amazon, which mostly consisted of reading reviews to choose the best item or adding things that we’ve seen in person around town.

Our final registry is at Pryde’s Kitchen and Home in Westport. Even though I mention Pryde’s here and there in on the blog, there’s never been a whole post on my undying love of this store in Westport. My friend Emily’s aunt Louise owns Pryde’s and greets me with a smile and a wave every time I come in to pick something up. Built in 1922, the building exudes old Kansas City charm and overflows with everything wonderful thing that you could ever need for your home.

When we registered, one of my favorite employees walked around the store with us. She put all of the littler items in a basket they keep behind the counter for easy access if someone comes to buy us a present and wrote out a list to put online. This was the closest Kip came to exhaustion as I discussed AT LENGTH various versions of wooden boards and cast iron skillets. As we left, they sent us with an adorable little whisk and this wooden ruler because Louise believes, "that every kitchen needs a good ruler.”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Fourth of July.

 photo Blog_0627.jpg
Oh, HEY. I'm back in school. Since Tuesday, actually. Our schedules switched, and teacher leaders will now work 15 days before teachers report and only five days after. June 2015 is going to be great, but this summer was a brief five weeks of fun and wedding planning. We crossed a ton of things off the wedding list! The Fourth of July weekend was a highlight, three days that we PACKED full of activities, friends, and family. Kip and I were both beyond exhausted by Sunday afternoon.

On Thursday night, we kicked off the long weekend with a trip to the Overland Park Farmer's Market. Twice this summer they have opened the market at night, and we have gone both times. It's pretty fun, casual and easy. Same vendors for the most part plus we can shop while drinking a Radler or Boulevard Wheat. The last one is Monday, August 11th. We're going again - come hang out!
 photo Blog_0624.jpg
On the Fourth we met Lu and Mom for lunch at Q39 (separate post pending!). Kip and I watched a little soccer in the afternoon and continued our "This Old House" marathon from the PBS app. (We really like the projects and Massachusetts accents. Literally all I have watched this summer was "This Old House" and "America Ninja Warrior.")

Eventually we made room in our stomachs for another meal and headed over to my friend Zach's for a Fourth of July bbq. We made Kip's favorite barbecued chicken and homemade bbq sauce with root beer to go with it. I convinced Fiona to look at the camera and show off her favorite summer treat before she beat her dad and Kip at yard games. Sweet Vera was decked out in red, white and blue, and I was too. This shirt was a Gap and Umbro collaboration I found before the World Cup started, and I'm obsessed.
 photo Blog_0625.jpg
There was so much delicious food that we ate and ate for a while before heading to watch the Corporate Woods fireworks. The highlight was probably fireworks that spelled USA. The audience would shout "U! S! A!" each time! Kip was not as amused by the ladies behind us who speculated on what each firework was each time. I thought they were hilarious.

Happy Independence Day America! If you missed it, here's my favorite patriotic part of the day. I cry almost every time, and this year's was particularly great.