Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Cold Wrap-Up in Manhattan.

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The Luhrs Ladies took our final trip to Manhattan for a football game last weekend. If you can't tell from the photos, it was cold. COLD.

Luckily we all own long Lands' End down coats. Last year when we were in Chicago for Jennie's wedding, we went to the Lands' End flagship store and tried on ALL the puffy coats. We walked out with three different styles, all in black. That's how we roll. We also all have these awesome Athleta gloves that allow you to use your smart phone and work out at the same time, all in purple. Not quite warm enough for Saturday's game, but super convenient for the cold weather that already settled in. (I got some pairs on sale this summer!)
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It was an early kickoff at 11 am, so we didn't leave too early for Manhattan. We pretty much rolled in just in time to have a little breakfast and warm-up inside the RV with the Nortons. We LOVE our tailgate - the people are great, welcoming and the food is always awesome. On Saturday we had homemade maple nut twists, breakfast casserole and hot coffee.

We were definitely cold inside the game, but not miserable. Lauren and I each had a blanket, and we added hand warmers to our boots about halftime for extra warmth. Hot coffee and a warm salted pretzel at halftime definitely helped. We hung in with the Cats as they did well against the Sooners, but we left at the last interception when it was clear it was over and K-State couldn't win. There were points in the season that we thought there was little hope, but we're thrilled they pulled out 6 wins. And I believe they'll probably beat KU on Saturday!

After the game, we warmed up at the RV again with hot piping soup. It was nice to spend a little last time with the tailgate crew before we headed for KC. The parking lot cleared out, and we hit the road home from our last game in Manhattan. It's been another good season at the Bill; regardless of the final record, we love the Cats.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Week Ahead.

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Happy Monday! Short week! If you ask any teacher about Thanksgiving break, they'll tell you it's one week too late. We lost our students a week ago. But each one of those teachers will also tell you that the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas break will go super quickly. Only three weeks for us!

Fiona's been quite the star lately on the blog. I took some snapshots of her for her family Christmas cards and let me tell you, 18-month-olds are a tricky age to capture accurately. Mom, Dad and Tori were NOT as funny as the dog running by in the yard. Tuff won all the smiles from Fiona. But how about those pigtails!? And toddlers reading books always kills mes.

I saw Gary Lezak's winter weather forecast last week, and he predicted 22 inches. Gary is the best meteorologist ever - this isn't open for debate - and I'm both delighted and a little worried. Snow day make-ups are already on the schedule and just push my end date back further into June. But I LOVE SNOW DAYS. My house is cozy on snow days, and I love not leaving the house unexpectedly in the middle of the week. Maybe we'll have a white Christmas!

Here's a piece of real talk for you: I hate to take the trash to the front curb. I don't mind putting it in the trash can in the back. I will faithfully put recycling in the garage one cardboard box at a time. But I HATE to drag the trash cans to the curb. It makes me extremely fussy. I put it off for weeks until all the recycling bins are full and the trash can is almost too heavy to move (thankfully racoons never break into my trash bin). I made myself do it last week so it wouldn't get in the way around Thanksgiving, but man did I groan and whine while I did it.

Kip thinks this is hilariously illogical. I willingly vacuum my house all the time. This takes four times as long as taking out the trash. Baking five dozen cookies is no big deal to me, even with all the dishes. But the five minutes I have to spend taking out the trash are easily the worst minutes of my life. And then I still have to drag the trash cans back to their places after work. So rude. And yes, illogical.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Game Day in Manhattan.

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Throughout this season, I have mostly carpooled with Mom and Lauren. And by carpooled, I mean that Mom drove and I rode along. She got a new car, and we've been enjoying the smooth ride and listening to more football games on Sirius.

This week I drove for the first time, and Mom, Lauren and Kip all rode along with the best music I could offer without satellite radio, Justin Timberlake. (July 30, 2014!!!) On the ride home we always listen to all the post game coverage and chit chat to stay awake. It's quite rude to talk when Coach Snyder is giving his post-game conference.
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The faithful RV crowd was all mixed up this week as many of our regular crew was absent attending a wedding. We had a great group at Mom's spot including many members of the Patty family, Chris and Amy. Sarah came by and then we had four Alpha Chis there! It wasn't an elaborate spread of food, but it was pretty easy and tasty. A Belly Buster from Rock-a-Belly hit the spot for sure. Tara made Chacko's (gone but not forgotten) oatmeal scotchies, much to my delight.
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Halftime is one of my favorite parts. Time for a snack, another beer and a visit with friends sitting around the stadium. It's worth the walk to stretch our legs and have a "free" snack. Fiona agrees. (And look at her monogrammed dress!) The Cats beat TCU - a very very close one - and we're headed back on Saturday for Senior Day, and our first 11 am game of the season!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Five on Friday.

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1. Last week was Battle of the Books, year two. I played a much smaller role in the competition this year, but the event continues to grow. It was fantastic, our middle school took first place, and the superintendent said, "Thanks for bringing us this event." Yep, that pretty much made my day. Followed closely by children SPRINTING across the gym to answer questions about books they read.

2. I really want to make another December minibook. I am aware that the 20 dozen (yes, 20) cookies will probably get in the way. Kip has a double oven so I expect this to go very quickly, and I'm only frosting half of those. Last year I made cookies for friends and loved ones in the new year, and that may happen again this year. 

3. I made my own chicken stock last weekend. Don't get too impressed, it was super easy and done in the crock pot without much help from me. I used it to make this classic Rachel GPS, Double Chicken Dumpling Soup. We had to add a LOT of salt to make the stock taste more like the Swanson's. #americans

4. Somehow Rachel has kept me at her BFF even though I hadn't seen Up yet. Fixed that this week and cried through most of it. "Cross your heart, cross it!"

5. Go Chiefs. Peyton Manning, we're SO over.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

K-State Recap and Friends in Town.

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Saturday, November 2nd, we rallied for another trip to Manhattan to see the Cats play Iowa State. Before Mom, Kip and I made the drive to Manhattan, we stopped to see some dear friends in Shawnee. Vicki, Daniel, Gwen and new baby Cameron were visiting from Serbia, and we were super excited to see them and meet Cameron. He was darling, of course, and Mom and I were plotting ways to see all of them when they return next year from Serbia or on their next adventure to the Ukraine!

On to Manhattan we went for "Ribs Day" a classic at the tailgate. Except somehow it was my first time at Ribs Day. I don't have any idea how I've missed them over the last ten years, but they were delicious! Karen and Don prepare them in advance and warm them on the grill. A big part of the tradition is providing gloves for all the tailgate guests. It actually makes a huge difference when you are only trying to keep BBQ sauce off your face and can focus on inhaling the ribs.

I didn't have my SD card in the camera, or else I would have captured some great photos of little Everett's first K-State game. He was the BEST two-year-old at the tailgate, playing catch, yelling "touchdown" and sharing his fruit snacks with all of us.
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Photos from Nan - updated so you can see just how cute E was!

Occasionally called "Farmageddon," the K-State v. Iowa State game wasn't a fight at all. KSU easily won 41-7, and we saw so many fabulous touchdowns. The Cats look better each and every week, and we're gearing up for the TCU game this weekend with a whole different group of pals in our section!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Roaring 20s Party.

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Lauren and I loved BOTAR season this year (did I already mention that like nine times?) and especially all the people we got to know this fall! The week after the ball we were invited to a sweet Roaring 20s party. After a week without rehearsals, we were ready to see the young BOTARs, their escorts, and our friends on Exec. The party was at the Vox Theatre, located on Southwest Boulevard in KCK. The event space was perfect for a very Gatsby-type party. There was a vintage car parked inside in part of the room, and Lauren and I never did figure out if it was there all the time or just for the special occasion. 

People wore some great flapper costumes. The boys looked dapper with slicked hair, suspenders and suits. One of the girls told us she had like twenty flapper dresses because her sorority always had 20s era parties at KU. Lauren went to a 20s party her BOTAR year, so she already had some ideas ready to go. I pulled together a headband (gifted from Tara), long pearls ($2.99 each at Party City), a lace shell that I owned and a fringe skirt ($19.99 from Party City). The fringe skirt was awesome because it was essentially a piece of elastic with red and black fringe I tied over another skirt. My black pencil skirt from work was obviously longer than Daisy Buchanan would have worn, but I already owned it so no cost.

And I'm pretty sure if you were the type who planned costumes a long ways in advance instead of four hours before the party then you could have sewn or gathered cheaper accessories. When I was googling ideas for DIY flapper costumes, I saw many people do neat things with items thrifted. But honestly, who has the time to thrift costumes?

I was so proud of my finds and things that I pulled together that it did make me want to gather it all up and save it neatly for the next time I'm invited to a Gatsby party. When we were in college, my friends and I had a cooler full of pirate accessories we could pull out anytime we needed a pirate costume. Which was more often than you would think. The sorority house had a costume closet that also came in handy. Have you seen any good pinterest organization tips for organizing costumes? For 30-year-olds?
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I didn't take any of the photos in this post, and I am extremely grateful to Diana's dad and mom for sharing some of the best. At the top of the post is a great shot of Lauren and me with the president and our VP. Lauren sponsored Diana to be a BOTAR, and we're looking to more fun ahead in the organization.
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And here's a cute picture of us where we don't look that much like sisters. The photo on the right is the reason we left the party 30 minutes after I was ready to go. Lauren started talking LAWYER stuff with another lawyer, and I gave up and took off my heels for a while at the front door. It was a wonderful party with delicious Manhattans, great Gastby soundtrack tunes and fun people. I just get tired on Friday nights. #thisis30

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Strawberry Baby Shower for a Berry Sweet Girl.

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A few months ago when it was still sunny and warm, we had a baby shower for Erica and her baby girl. I like to smugly say that I knew Erica was having a girl because I only had one theme picked out for her shower. Sweet strawberry with lots of pinks and reds.
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The party is already available in the RV Parties shop as Rachel designed it for a first birthday a couple years ago. I wanted to do it up right for a baby shower, and it was so fun to play with the soft colors. We plan to submit the party to a couple of our favorite sites for full features in the spring, but I couldn't wait much longer to show off the gorgeous photos that Kami of OrangePeel Photography took for us.
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Mom's kitchen has the best lighting. I found this little wall organizer downstairs and had to bring it up to be a part of the dessert table, topping it off with fresh pink flowers Mom bought at farmer's market. I made the giant pinwheels on the wall without a hot glue gun. I won't describe how because it was the dumbest move I made in the planning process.

As usual, I was spoiled by the vendors we worked with both locally and friends from the internet. Allison's Boxer Lady Bakery fresh strawberry cupcakes are some of my favorite. We also had the loveliest table cloth from Candy Crush Events, labels donated by iCustomlabel, and party supplies from BonFortune. Erica's sister brought macarons from a local bakery, and they were another perfect little treat for the dessert table.
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I made this quilt as my first big sewing project, and the strawberries made it perfect for baby Madeline's shower. I can picture her doing her tummy time on it, and before we know it she'll be rolling all over the place!
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Each guest received a berry basket from BonFortune filled with a bright paper, candy and Haribro strawberries. There was no shortage of strawberry food or drink at this shower! I had to make strawberry sugar cookies too, of course. And I ordered large quanities of other strawberry candies from Nuts.com. You can search by flavor OR by color on their site!

I found the ceramic berry baskets at Sur La Table earlier in the summer and couldn't believe my luck. At half price, I was so glad to have them as part of the decor! Mom has a large supply of plain white plates from Crate & Barrel that work perfectly for entertaining large groups of people, and we pulled out the canning jars for the strawberry lemonade.
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One of our favorite additions to parties lately have been RV melamine plates customized for the party or guest of honor. Kami took another hundred or so wonderful photos that you will get to see with the whole spread in the spring, but I'm so thankful she was there to document this special day for us. Hard to believe that baby Madeline is already here - the shower feels like it was just yesterday!

In contrast, it also feels like it was forever ago because this was the same day I went on a set-up date with Kip, just to get a date under my belt. Two of our friends who are married to each other thought we should give it a try. However skeptical we both were that day, it's been pretty sweet since.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Five on Friday: Wildcat Edition.

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1. Last week we went to the game that was so super slow we skipped most of the third quarter. Dereck was in town, plus some other friends we don't always get to see, so we extended half time as long as possible. And as we were leaving at the end of the game, Lauren and I saw one of our favorite babies on Instagram, Libby Jane. We love her little (normally) smiling face. Cats won, steaks were good, not much else to report.

2. In October I read zero books. The last time that happened since I started recording books was never. I read parts of two books. Oh well. I did read this very interesting article in the Atlantic about homework. I wish more parents would raise a fuss because sometimes teachers do it as a response to the pressure put on them by their administration. Sometimes they do it to be mean. Read this section also - I love the comprehensive education coverage from the Atlantic.

3. I gave out fruit snacks on Halloween. Does this make me the grinch of the neighborhood? My dinner guests were split on this issue. It seemed fine to me.

4. If you have a sweet tooth, read/listen to this, and you'll feel better about it. This is my favorite line: "Candy is the one that says, 'Hey, this is a treat. This isn't really food.' Candy never says, 'It's fiber, it's vitamins, it's all-natural, it's good for you!' Candy is honest, and says, 'This is a treat. Look at it as a treat. Enjoy it as a treat.'" Amen.

5. I bought nine Christmas presents this last week. I may not be reading or blogging, but apparently I'm still getting some stuff done.