Thursday, December 29, 2011

What an Honor.

FedEx delivered a sweet little package last week. I just happened to be home and was excited to see an unexpected gift arriving from Jennie in Chicago. As I tore open the package, I had a feeling I knew what Jennie was going to ask. As you can guess, she wanted to know if I would be her maid of honor! I totally cried. And then called her to say yes!

Jennie and I have been best friends since late middle school. Even though we haven't lived in the same city since 2001, we've stayed very close. In fact, if you search for "Jennie" on this blog, you will see her appear in many posts as we have traveled and stayed friends across the miles. I think she and Joe are the best, and I'm super HONORED to stand up with them next December when they say "I do." It will be a pretty fun year as we get ready for their Chicago wedding - one year from today.

I'm also Abbey's maid of honor in June, so this is going to be a fantastic year of planning and celebrating! What an honor to be a part of these big days with great friends.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Open House and Notes on Family.

I had a little party to see how many people I could put in my little house. It was an "open house" but thankfully most people came and stayed forever. I would rather have my house filled with friends than hang out by myself at Christmastime.

We had some long distance visitors, and it was good to be with Emily & Ryan, Vicki, Daniel and baby Gwen. We missed Rachel and Sol.

It was pretty perfect (minus a few friends that couldn't come). I made a few new dishes and learned a lesson about beer and wine. My friends drink beer. And plenty of it. Mom made a run during the party for more beer, and we drank almost all of that as well.

Important note about my mom at the party. She was there the whole time because she knows all of my friends, their significant others, and especially their babies. She helped take the apps out of the oven, made sure everyone had plenty to drink and kept the party going. Mom hanging around is normal and a huge part of why Kansas City is home. My friends mail her Christmas cards, and she sends ones back. Luhrs Ladies cards all around the country. I'm extremely grateful to have her around to be a part of my life, to know my friends and always be so supportive.

But I also recognize that this a natural gift she inherited. Her parents, my Kansas grandparents, were the same way. If you've ever met them, you're a friend. People always ask how my grandparents are because they were a part of the party for many years too. If you've met my grandpa, at a football game or on the farm, you don't forget it. I have friends who still have the K-State gloves he gave out every year. My grandma is the one with the details, who remembers where people are from and why they matter. This was what was modeled - know your children, know their friends, if someone invites you somewhere, GO.

Feeling blessed as ever. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Deck the Halls.

It's day two of winter break. Hurray for winter breaks! It feels like I've been on the move pretty constantly since July 19th when I returned to Kansas City, and I am looking forward to the next 10 or so days of baking, working out, and large quantities of family and friend time. I have two parties I want to list in the esty shop and a pile of books I'd like to finish before the end of 2012, and hopefully will be doing very little that is "blog worthy."

Enjoy the holiday video filmed at one of the high schools in the district. Some of the students featured in the video are my former students from Northwest! I paused it a few times to look for them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ornament Exchanges.

We had our annual ornament exchange for book club this year. It is one of our favorite traditions and some of my favorite ornaments come from the annual event (I mailed in my participation the two years I lived in Virginia!).

For the first time, I made my ornament. With some very nice wool felt and scraps from other projects, I pieced together these little partridges. The pattern came from Retro Mama, and I bought the wool felt from her etsy shop. She even helped me match the wool to the fabric I already had, which was great because I'm obsessed with it and loved finding a new use for it. Each of the four birds I made had different felt bodies and accessories, and the embroidery floss, buttons, ric rac and needles all came from Barbara's House, my favorite sewing store. Besides the wool, I also had to buy the boa cord which makes the plume at the top but it was easy to find at Wal-Mart.

I have a ton of boa cord left, and I'm happy to share. Let me know, and I'll mail you some pieces of it.

The sewing got better with each bird. The real trick is that it is tough to stuff the little bird and not have the blanket stiches pull and get funky, but I was able to make it mostly work.

I also went to an ornament exchange for my Junior League new member group and brought a partridge. It was a small group that night with only five of us, so I was pretty nervous that people would be disappointed with a homemade gift. Especially because the other gifts on the table were clearly from Nordstom, Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel. Awesome-sauce. But they were impressed, and my mom said she used to take homemade gifts to JL exchanges all the time with good results so I felt better.

The birds have all found a home - Abbey took home the ornament from book club, one went to Junior League, one to my secret Santa at school and one to Mom, owner of the best sewing store in town.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Section 118.

This weekend I went to two sporting events, and in a strange coincidence, I sat in Section 118 at both games. First up: K-State v. Alabama in the "Wildcat Classic" at the Sprint Center. Our seats were great. Actually, we were closer than it looks like in this photo! I love watching Frank in person. When he gets mad (and he was during the first half), you can hear his shoes stomping on the court. We had a lot to cheer about as K-State came back and kept the lead in the second half over Alabama.

I've got one trip planned to Manhattan with the family in February but want to watch them play more. It was so much fun to see them play in person, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.

About twelve hours later, it was time for another game - the Chiefs and the Packers. Here's Lauren and I before the game - we weren't very optimistic at this point. We expected that we would see Jordy Nelson catch a few passes and check out how well Kyle Orton would play for the Chiefs. 

We sat in the lower level in section 118 (again!). Our seats were awesome, right at the 35-yard-line, and we had perfect weather for a December game. Another bonus: the Chiefs decided to play some football instead of letting the Packers continue their total domination. Kyle Orton decided to get some stuff done, and the Chiefs looked pretty great the whole game. They should have won by more. On TV they were calling it the upset of the season!

Every time something awesome happened, I looked at Lauren in shock. And then we cheered a lot. Our section stood and yelled the whole game! There were a ton of Packers fans there, but the Chiefs fans were loud, and it was a great reminder of why Arrowhead is so awesome. And "the loudest stadium in the NFL."

My church had it's first Sunday in our new building this weekend, so I squeezed in a trip to church between the two games. It was a really crazy 24 hours with two games and church, plus driving all over Kansas City. I was exhausted by the end of it - thankfully all my teams won and it is only two days till Christmas break!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gram & Dun.

If you are wanting to check out the Plaza lights, and you want to eat on the Plaza too, please go to Gram & Dun. It's local owned by the same people as Urban Table and BRGR, and this may be my favorite of the places. I think they might be Nato's neighbors, so if she leaves a comment telling about how awesome all of these places are, ignore her. She's biased. And correct.

Anyways, back to Gram & Dun. We were there for lunch after church, and it wasn't too crowded. We were able to take our time - and some photos! Our waiter even thought it was kind of cool. They have a great cocktail menu that I'd really like to try, but it was the right time of day for diet coke. When is it not?

I had a "sangria salad" and we split the "not-so-ordinary potato chips" for our starters. My beer can chicken sandwich was fantastic, and also enough food for two meals. I substituted to get the steak fries. Potato number two!

The real star in the sandwich department was the beef, sausage, pork and coleslaw sandwich. All three meets were perfectly prepared and can make KC barbeque fanatics proud. And this sandwich had a THIRD different kind of potatoes. Chips!

There aren't a lot of locally owned options on the Plaza, so let's try to keep the ones that are around.  It's only a few minutes away my house, and with the lights on right now, I'm always up for a trip. I'll even put up with the parking! What other locally owned restaurants do you like on the Plaza? Let's go, okay? I'll even go back to Gram & Dun if you insist.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cookies & Pinterest.

Some of the most common things that I hear about Pinterest include:
  • I pin it and never do it.
  • I lost several hours of my life sucked into the vortex of Pinterest. And I'm probably never going to do it.
I've got this little board on Pinterest I like to call "Just Bake It." And my problem is not that I don't follow through with the projects. It is that I DO keep baking from this category and pounds of butter are flying out of my fridge and into various recipes. Thankfully it's Christmas and I can give the cookies away pretty easily.

Most of the time I start with a recipe I've made before that my friends like, one from pinterest or a random google search that results in a good recipe with good reviews. I usually only do the googling with specific ingredients I want to use. Dried cherries for example. Result: Giada's Dried Cherry & Almond Cookies. They were great but I want to try them with apricots and pine nuts.

The two cookies above were saved on my pinterest board for a little while before I made them. And I'm sort of obsessed with the homemade oatmeal creme pies. I ate a homemade one once at Ted's Bulletin in DC and have been craving them ever since. They got great reviews here around town, and while there are a couple of weird things in the recipe, they are super easy to make!

The dark chocolate and peanut butter cookies have also been a success. I baked them twice this fall and am glad to have a quick chocolate and peanut butter cookie in rotation. That Bakerella. She really knows her stuff.

Bake something. Just do it. I heard on the radio that the holidays give us an inexplicable need to use butter. I wish it wasn't so true.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

James' Puppy Party.

Remember when I lived in Virginia and Rachel and I planned parties all the time? Yeah. That was really fun stuff. Don't worry though, we still plan parties. In fact, check us out on etsy! <--Shameless plug!

Kate wanted to have a puppy party for James' first birthday party! He loves a little stuffed puppy and it was a perfect fit with a touch of red right before Christmas. Since the baby shower I designed for Kate still is my best seller, I was happy to oblige with some new designs just for Kate & Baby James. They aren't in the shop yet, but they will be over Christmas break.

There will even be a custom melamine plate that goes with all the designs! I have it in chocolate brown and red for little boys, and I'll be making a chocolate and PINK option for little girls too!

Kate and Adam throw great parties at their house, and it was a fun way to celebrate James and the start of the holiday season. The guests got to take home bags of puppy chow, (get it?) and I even got to hold the birthday boy for a little bit. A true honor because he's walking now with lots of places to go! I kind of love him a lot and was thrilled to help with his sweet little first birthday party.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Spencer, Age 6.

Little brother, you are a study in contradictions.

You look like a big kid, keeping up with the big boys for many hours every day.
But sometimes you are really tired and need to take a nap at Hard Rock.

You've recently switched to a dedication to all things vanilla, including your birthday cake,
but I've seen you drink tons of hot chocolate.

The chocolate fudge sauce on top of the whipped cream on top of the hot chocolate made you cry,
and yet in this picture you've got chocolate crumbs by your lips.

You've got Dad's giveway characteristics,
but your occasional bouts of drama remind us of other Luhrs besides Dad.  Not naming names.

Tracy said you were nervous about losing those front two teeth
but super willing to show how a cute first-grade girl how they wiggle.

You didn't want to color me a picture when I was visiting,
but last week on the phone you were sure to tell me you loved me.

Lucky us to know you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ambrosia Macaroons.

I made five types of cookies this week, plus cracker jacks (again!) They were all very different types for cookie exchanges and friends, but I didn't have to buy anything besides butter, eggs and brown sugar. This tells you about my baking cabinet. It was overflowing with cookie supplies. These ambrosia macaroons happened because I was determined to use a bag of coconut and a recipe I'd been waiting to use since 2008.

Don't be fooled. If you don't like coconut, you won't like these. If you like coconut, you will LOVE these. Kate bit into one on Tuesday night and proclaimed it tasted like it was from a bakery. They were super easy to make and held up well throughout the week. Don't refrigerate or freeze these cookies, that's against the rules in the macaroon club.

These cookies are a little different from macaroons I have made before. I used the whole egg so they are a little yellower than macaroons with only egg whites. And the orange zest is super helpful to add a new twist. I love ambrosia salad, which was the draw when I tore this recipe out of Bon Appetit.

Ambrosia Macaroons
adapted for one bag of coconut from Bon Appetit, December 2008

1/4 cup (half of a stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
a dash of salt
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel (I scraped about half of an orange - more would have been fine!)
1 egg
1 egg white
1 14-oz bag sweetened flaked coconut
3-4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used semisweet disks from Trader Joe's for melting and dipping!)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat butter in bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and salt, beat until blended. Beat in the orange peel, then eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in coconut.

I chilled it for about twenty minutes before using my cookie scoop. Drop batter onto sheets by tablespoonfuls, spacing about 2 inches apart. They won't spread but I had one or two kind of unstick and fall apart. I ate them before anyone could see that.

Bake macaroons until golden on bottom and browned in spots, about 25 minutes in my oven.

When they are cool, use a fork and drizzle melted chocolate over macaroons. It was way fun to swirl chocolate around the pan and had a dramatic effect on the finished deliciousness.

P.S. The Christmas fabric in the picture above is a tea apron from my great grandma Della. Love it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lukas Oil.

Remember when I used to be mildly obsessed with Peyton Manning? It was a big part of my classroom - we had a Peyton Manning corner - and I talked about how he was my boyfriend regularly with my students. This year hasn't been a good year for "us." Peyton hasn't taken a single snap, and he didn't make any new commercials.

But that didn't stop me from wanting to see Lukas Oil where he has played before and could play again. Or the future home of Andrew Luck. However you want to look at it.

Carmel High School, the high school closest to my dad's place, played in the state championship on Saturday night over Thanksgiving break. We all put on some royal blue and gold and headed downtown to see the game at Lukas Oil. We even ate at Hard Rock Cafe before the game.

Here's a fun fact: Spencer was so tired he slept through the entire meal at Hard Rock. I'm not sure the last time you were at a Hard Rock Cafe. They are not quiet. Also, they don't show football games on their tvs. They show music videos. Un-American.

Little brothers were complete with face paint even for the game. I have never seen Blake sustain excitement for as long as he did during the game. Screaming and yelling pretty much the entire first half.

I don't have a picture of Cooper, but if I did you can bet he wouldn't be smiling even though he was excited to go and spent the night running around with other middle schoolers. I wish you could see his sneakers. They were covered in blue and yellow duct tape. I think he may have needed to cut his feet out of them at the end of the night.

Carmel won the state championship with a complete shutout of the other team. We had a good time, ate some cotton candy, and now I can say I've been to Lukas Oil. Also, I swear Spencer had a good time too. He just wasn't excited about the photo opp in downtown Indy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Santa Pajamas.

My stepmom's mother, Bonnie, does a sweet thing every year and buys all the grandkids new pajamas for Christmas. "Santa" comes with his big bag of presents and delivers them to the kiddos on Thanksgiving night. I was super glad to be included in the mix this year and am now the proud owner of new flannel pajamas. Perfect for a 28-year-old who pays her own heating bills and keeps it cool at night.

Before we continue, I hope you properly appreciated the nutsiness (new word!) that is my family in this big group picture. Spencer is missing his two front teeth. Mitch is packing a Santa belly inside that Ohio State sweatshirt. And Cooper the Elf kills me too. Even if Coop outgrows this not smiling stage, I think I will forever remember him this way.

Blake and Spencer's pajamas were adorable. Blake put his on first and Spencer couldn't bear to be left out. You can see the Luhrs dimples in these photos. Or a junior version of my dad.

The rest of the photos I just added for your enjoyment. There is just so little else I can say besides you're welcome!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Tuff, T-U-F-F.

I took a few photos for friends' Christmas cards this year. I don't think this one made the cut for Tara and Tom, but their dog Tuff is a very handsome hound. It was a very cold November afternoon, and poor Tuff was shaking even with his little coat. He's so dapper! I love to talk to Tuff and spell out his ironic little name. T-U-F-F, I'll say. He responds with a tail wag of course.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What's That? A New Blog?

Friends, it's no joke that I love my friends. And I especially love when they blog about their far away lives. Add it to your blogroll because you'll be able to follow along with the adventures of the Nibargers. You know I will.

Check it out friends...

The Nibargers Wide Wide World

And in case Vicki is seeing this here before she sees it on Rachel's blog, SURPRISE! Happy Anniversary from your husband. Now write stuff. Serbia is a looooooooong ways away and Rachel designed you this sweet blog!

A Super Sweet 16 for Gabby.

Happy super sweet 16 to my stepsister Gabby. We had plenty of quality time together over Thanksgiving, united as two sisters against four brothers. I was happy to provide back-up and am amazed that Gabby does it all the time. Those boys are a lot of work! Gabby has grown into an awesome 16-year-old who does extremely well at school, just landed a role in the small cast of the high school play and will see the Muppets with me (the only one in Indy who would!). I know teenagers people, and Gabby is a good one.

Lest you worry about her on the road, don't. In Indiana, you don't actually drive on your own until 16 and a HALF. So Gabby will keep logging her practice miles, driving the minivan with "student driver" magnets on the outside. This makes me giggle...

Happy birthday Gabby!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Three Books of November.

Before we get to the books, an exciting announcement related to everyone's favorite bumble bee shower. Yesterday afternoon it was featured on Amy Atlas' blog, submitted by someone who purchased the items from the etsy shop. Totally a surprise to Rachel and me, but a really awesome surprise. If you don't know who Amy Atlas is, that's okay, but you should. Here's her bio. Sure it's not my party, but it is my design, and Amy links back to the store. That's pretty close to the big time for me. I'll take it.

Now for the books. It's a good thing we had Thanksgiving break or I might have only finished The Night Circus. I squeezed in two more books over the break!

The Night Circus was my book club pick. I was a little confused after the vote for the book, but we ended up glad we had read this book. It is a total fantasy - magic and mystery surround the circus at the turn of the last century mostly in Europe and New York. I liked it because it was so totally different than anything else I've read this year. I tried to research fair/circus food so we could do it up with a theme, but ended up with Giada's winter minestrone (super yummy) and homemade cracker jacks. I can not get enough of that popcorn. I'd recommend the book if you like fantasy books. It's got a love story tucked in there too, but the mystery and magic is where the best parts of the book are.

The Paris Wife tells the story of Hemingway's first wife, Cat, and their years in Paris. It totally IS a love story. It reminded me of Loving Frank, about Frank Lloyd Wright. You can see on the cover that the author of Loving Frank liked The Paris Wife. Obviously. I read this really quickly - probably in about two days - and really enjoyed it. I saw Midnight in Paris last summer and am interested in the lives of those crazy artists and writers in Paris in the 1920s. Occasionally it felt a little trite and imagined, but for the most part I really did like it. I can't make myself say that I loved it, but I did really really like it.

Shine is the third book I've read that was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. It's just barely for young people as the story is about teenage students/drop outs in Appalachia that are wound up in meth, a very very violent hate crime and a mystery. It was really difficult to read, but it might be my favorite of the three books. Three days later, I can't stop thinking about the characters, the plot and the ending which OH WHEE took my breath away. I finished it flying home from Indiana and my hands were sweating as I nervously finished the book. I don't know anything about Winter's Bone, set in the Ozarks, but I wonder if this could be similar in some ways. The book is probably the most coarse and graphic young people's book that I've read in a while, but it seems to be real life.

Up next: The Buddhas in the Attic, Christmas Train and a couple other things I've downloaded to the Kindle but not started yet. Maybe Cutting for Stone? I hear really good things about that book too!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Genessee Royale Bistro, for Brunch.

Dad and Grandma landed in Kansas City at the downtown airport, and Lauren, Mark and I picked them up for a pre-holiday brunch last Wednesday morning. Everyone was skeptical when I picked Genessee Royale Bistro for our meal. This is Mark's skeptical face, in fact. They were concerned it wasn't very big, the menu was pretty standard, and the location in the Stockyards was a little bit off the beaten path.

And then we started eating and all their concerns were silenced by the awesomeness. Behold my cornmeal pancakes (with apples and sour cream) and the homemade granola. 

And a very stockyard type of breakfast. The potatoes were incredible. Perfectly done so that the insides were still soft. Biscuits and bacon too. Oh do I love bacon.

My family was all pleased with their choices. My dad was so pleased that he complimented the manager/owner. This rarely happens, folks, so it must be good. 

The place was just adorable and cozy. I hear there can be a long wait at lunch but this could be due to the fact there are only a few tables inside the place. The lunch menu also looked awesome, but I would quickly return for the pancakes. They aren't open on Sunday, which is unfortunate because it is so so close to my church and would be a favorite post-church brunch for me.

I had brunch at Beer Kitchen on Sunday, but there are no photos (remember, camera in Indy). It was also fantastic. Jon said the breakfast sandwich at Beer Kitchen was the best he had ever had, and Dereck said that the french toast is his favorite ever. I also resisted a strong urge to order a burger (I love Beer Kitchen's burgers AND burgers for brunch), and I thought the french toast was also awesome. And it came with bacon too! Surprise!

KC is really doing brunch up right these days.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back from Thanksgiving Break.

I took a break from parts of my life for the past few days, and it was nice. I didn't do the dishes, clean my floors or walk my dog. Or blog. Besides the internetting, my nice family took care of all those details for me, and I took it easy. I read two books, wrote Christmas cards, worked on design projects, watched 37 football games and spent tons of time with my Indiana family. I'm a little tired heading into a full work week, but I know I'll find the rhythm again soon.

When my dad picked me up to take me to Indy last week, the sky was bright and sort of hazy. This is the view of the skyline from the downtown airport. When we landed on Sunday, it was dark and a little more ominous, but in photos the skyline would have looked bolder and more distinct. Imagine it - I left my camera in Indy. Silly me.

I do have a ton of pictures from my visit, a restaurant rave review, and book posts ahead this week. Provided I make it through Monday. Only four Mondays until Christmas break (not that I'm counting).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Need a Christmas Present Idea?

I've got two Christmas present ideas for you today. They happen to be things Rachel and I designed and sell, but they are totally designed and sold with LOVE. The first are the sweet little enclosure cards pictured above and available for sale here on the Etsy shop. I made these for some girlfriends Christmas 2010, and they were so popular I made a new design this year and decided to offer them to more friends and family! $15.00 for a set of ten personalized little cards and Paper Source envelopes in a sweet little bag.

If you're local in KC and you'd like order some, contact me at VLuhrs AT, and I have a special local special (cheaper + no shipping). Or feel free to order through the Etsy shop and I can ship them to you. Use the code SAVE10 to get 10% off your orders on Etsy before November 30.

Rachel's collection of custom design plates keeps growing in the shop as well. Hurry to order soon to ensure Christmas delivery. Probably by November 30th. Using the code SAVE10 to get 10% off,  obviously. She's got plates for kids, Santa's cookies, newlyweds and 28-year-olds who like melamine plates. This one is my current favorite, preferably in G5 and D2.

Rachel and I don't blog to make money. No adds, sponsors or anything, just us. We're adamant about blogging for the memories. (See Rach's post on Martha Stewart as a recent example.) This design business stuff totally comes from the fact that we made some stuff for ourselves and our friends and then other people wanted to buy it too. 

Don't forget to use the code SAVE10 and cross a couple presents off your Christmas list before Thanksgiving. Also, like us on facebook for future sales, coupons and discounts.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Living Room.

I live in a sweet little house with my pretty sweet little dog. I waited and waited to post photos of the living room until it was perfect. It's not exactly perfect, but I totally love how it's shaping up. Especially because so many of the items were bargains, and I never find bargains.

You have to look for bargains to find them. Sometimes I just get distracted by more expensive awesome. The yellow chair fits in that category. But it is so cute and happy and actually comfortable.

Tara says it is better for short people. But I still like it.

It's a little room that bleeds quickly into a small dining room. Here are some details about the things you can see from these photos. The two little white end tables are former pieces of a vanity that someone refinished and sold at the antiques mecca that is in the West Bottoms. Both pieces were $75 total. The drawers are lovely and perfect for dog leashes, mittens and the mail. They're tall like the couch so easy to use too!

I also found the blue table there too but it was sad, gray and overpriced. $45 later and a quick coat of paint, it was a perfect fit for my living room! It is sturdy and the right size for my smallish flatscreen. I don't have a cable box (still going strong) so I didn't need a lot of entertainment type space.

As usual, all the art means something. The framed print by the door was brought to me from Germany by Jennie. The canvas print behind the TV is my favorite shot from Dublin.

I acquired the brown couch, chair and ottoman from my pal Lindsay. They were a great price because I didn't need super new stuff. Despite my best efforts, my dog Belle sits on the couch all day waiting for me to get home. I wish I was kidding. Also, I made sure to take these photos in the morning because the couch looks army green later in the day. Silly couch.

I found these bright pillows at Pottery Barn. I have two blue ones. I could totally justify it because they cost me $12.99 each and that included the pillow. They were outdoor ones but you can't tell. Plus, if I lay on the couch with wet hair, the pillow takes care of the moisture. I'm such a smart shopper.

The lamp needs an updated lampshade probably, but it did get some oil-rubbed-bronze love, a la Young House Love. I have another one that I want to do too. Thanks Mom for the free lamps.

Still on the list: more art for the walls and more pillows. Bright, happy patterned pillows.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday.

Today I'm thankful for a lot of things. I was driving to work and just feeling really thankful. Not even because Thanksgiving is next week but because I have a lot to be thankful for each day. Here's a few of those special things:
  • I have a garage and didn't have to scrape my car this morning.
  • My little brother is SIX today (these photos are two years old and still some of my favorites!). I'm thankful he is dramatic and tall. That's how I know we're related. Oh yeah, we look alike too.
  • He wanted Papa John's delivered for his birthday dinner. This cracks me right up.
  • People read this blog.
  • My mom. She made me sloppy joes last night, a special treat because she makes it with a little of this and a little of that and it can't be replicated. Then we went "shopping" in her house. I will be able to make some Christmas crafts almost entirely without going to the store. That's awesome.
  • I'm grateful to have a job, and even better, one that I look forward to each morning.
  • For Thanksgiving break. Even though last year at this time I was packing for Europe, I'm really looking forward to a stateside Thanksgiving.
  • I get to see the Kansas City skyline when I drive to work. It makes me extremely happy.
  • For the good people that fill my life. There are lots of them, and I know I'm happier on the days where we get to talk and share life together.
Happy week until Thanksgiving, friends. Hope you have plenty to be thankful for today too!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bluestem Bistro Brunch.

It seems like Bluestem Bistro has been everywhere in the news lately. Melinda suggested this restaurant because she heard about it on NPR, and their new cookbook was featured in the FYI section of the paper recently. A group of us met the morning after the latest Anderson wedding, and it was pretty close to perfect.

The 2007 New York Times review of the restaurant had the title, "Far from the big city and not missing them." It was an appropriate description for our group and this meal. A year ago, we were getting ready for a trip to Dublin and London together. Kenneth and Melinda moved home from LA, and I returned from the east coast where I went to brunch and blogged about food much more frequently.

And now we're home. Places like Bluestem are perfect for "recovering east/westcoasters." It's like the best of both worlds with great food and company in my hometown. There are no excuses about Midwestern life - it really is as good as we make it out to be.

This was the special. Three of us ordered the homemade biscuit with eggs, bacon, cheese, homefries and salad. And I definitely had leftovers and ate them. We all started us out with little bowls of granola and blueberry yogurt. Dereck had already cut up his french toast before I could snap a photo. Erica had the smoked salmon plate, and it was also beautiful. But I really loved the special.

I made my sister shoot into the sun with imperfect results. She did warn me. I was so happy and so very full, both from brunch and being home in the Midwest, that I didn't even worry about the  overexposure. It's like a post-brunch happiness haze.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Favorite Andersons, Part II.

When Erica married Jon in 2008 and became an Anderson, I walked around the whole weekend talking about "my favorite Andersons." Erica is totally my favorite Anderson. But then I would magnanimously declare one brother or another my second favorite Anderson. As if any of them really cared. I thought it was hilarious and named all the wedding photos on facebook, "My Favorite Andersons."

Two weekends ago we celebrated the addition of another Anderson to the family when Logan married Mark. It was a little bit like seeing a little brother get married because I've known Mark since he was a freshman rooming with Kenneth at the DU house. The same age as my little sister, we were super stoked to get to attend the beautiful party here in the neighborhood. The wedding was at Village and the reception was at Indian Hills Country Club.

The reception was during the same time as the Oklahoma State v. K-State game, so I liked to thank Mark for having such a nice watch party for us. Open bar and the K-State game = awesome. We were huddled around the tv for a large chunk of the early evening as we watched a shoot out of a game. At time-outs, we'd dance a song or two, and then end up back at the tv. It was a great game, even if the final seconds didn't go the way we wanted them too. After the game we danced, danced, danced till the band quit just after midnight.

I didn't do a great job taking photos except for with my favorite sister and my favorite Anderson, who was a bridesmaid in the wedding. There were many of our favorite K-State friends at the party, and we really had a lovely time. Thanks Mark and Logan for having us - hope Hawaii is treating you well!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Baby Everett, Again.

Do you need some sweet baby photos on a Friday morning? Okay. I'll help you out. Here are some more photos of Baby Everett. He came over to my mom's house a couple weeks ago, and Rachel and I got to practice our skills.

One where he was awake and then he got plain tuckered out and had to take a snooze.

And while the close-up photos are usually everyone's favorites, I also love this not-as-great shot of how big he is. Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Game We'd ALMOST Like to Forget.

We would totally like to forget everything that happened inside Bill Synder Family Stadium that day. But outside the stadium, we had just the best time and want to remember So many friends and lovely people at the tailgate that day, it more than compensated for the game shenanigans. We started planning a big tailgate as soon as we knew that little Finn and his family would be joining us.

Speaking of family, how much do we look like sisters in this photo? And how much do the boys look like brothers? Poor Braden had a cute K-State outfit on before he had an accident. Oh baby.

There were a lot of Alpha Chis present at the tailgate, just like the old days! It's been ten years since we joined Alpha Chi, and the number of babies in this group is now FOUR! We took a photo with all the Alpha Chis and the babies but it's not nearly as cute as this one. Only Dinah made it into this photo. (If you want to see it with Alison wearing purple, check out Rachel's photoshopped version.)

There were lots of babies and it wasn't too difficult to watch them with the cars. But it did take lots of eyes and hands! We also had some of Mom's and Lauren's sorority sisters come by too. We had barbeque and lots of yummy sides to go with it.

This little boy's dad made him his Wildcat hat. Photo op! This is about the happiest we got. Once we got inside the stadium things went downhill. If only we had seen the Oklahoma State game and not the Oklahoma game!

As Mom said to Sol at the end of the day, let us know when you want to do it again next year. It was a fabulous tailgate with so many dear friends.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Friday Night in Aggieville.

Almost two weeks ago, Mom, Lauren and I went to Manhattan for Homecoming! We arrived during the parade and watched a little bit before catching up with some of our SAB friends. It was a beautiful night in the Ville - a bit cold but pretty as we watched the floats come through Aggieville. Not much has changed about Homecoming from our days of floats, Pant the Chant and sorority/fraternity pairings.

We met up with one of Mom's sorority sisters and had dinner at Kite's. I know what you're thinking. WHY would you eat at Kite's when So Long Saloon is directly across the street? The wait was like two hours. And there is only so long you can wait on a Friday night when you are really hungry.

But there was tons going on at Kite's, so it ended up being the right choice. Members of the band came in to play, complete with Darth Vadar and a lightsaber! ESPN Road Trip was filming a story about a really large burger. I restrained from jumping in the background of their shots.

Off and on over the years, donuts have been a late night staple for K-State college kids. Daylight Donuts would open at 1 am when Lauren was in college, and my mom's generation loves to talk about Vern's donuts in the basement of his house. Varsity Donuts is newest on the scene and a super creative twist on the late night donut experience.

Or the 9:30 pm donut experience. We were really tired and didn't stay out very late in Aggieville on Friday night. As for the donuts, the chocolate coconut was not so awesome. We really liked the apple and pumpkin donuts way better.

Varsity Donuts is in the old Palace building. I've loved pretty much everything in this space since before I started at K-State in 2001. Donuts are always fine with me because, as the sign on the door says, "Donuts make people happy."

P.S. The first two shots in this blog post were shot in manual and came out of the camera looking like this. Things are getting better all the time!