Thursday, July 31, 2014
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
We had our second “Mother Daughter Book Club” in June with many of our moms. I stopped at Rainy Day Books to get some ideas for what we could read. Mother/daughter books are often loaded with conflict and angst, and so we really wanted a book that was just a good read. One of the books Vivian from Rainy Day recommended was The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. We read the description at book club and were instantly sold. Many of us gave the book to our moms for Mother’s Day, and we met in late June to discuss the book. It was a crowd FAVORITE. It’s a darling story about a man, A.J. Fikry, running a bookstore on a small vacation island in the Northeast. Newly widowed, someone leaves a toddler in the shop and suddenly A.J. is a dad. The book is full of townspeople that help tell A.J.’s story, great connections to other good books, and an endearing story about family and love. I stayed up late reading it in June and just loved it. Highly, highly recommend – and I think book club would agree!
I picked up TransAtlantic on a whim from my KCK public library because I loved Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin. He is a whiz with words, and if you have a tiny bit of patience, his works will be classics. Many of my friends also loved Let the Great World Spin, and I was eager to see how he wove the stories together in TransAtlantic. There are two parts EXPERTLY connected. In part one, we read about pilots preparing to cross the Atlantic, Frederick Douglas’s trip to Ireland, and Senator George Mitchell’s work to broker peace in Ireland. None of those stories I knew anything about before part one. In each of the stories there are some women that intersect the stories, and in part two, McCann tells their stories in detail. They aren’t always happy but rightfully so; following the women of an Irish family across several generations is bound to encounter heartache. I recommend this book too but start with Let the Great World Spin if you haven’t already read it.
Late in April, a reluctant reader came by my office for a chat. Somehow I convinced him to give Shadow (same author as War Horse) a chance. He was drawn to the Afghanistan aspects of the story, and he said he would try it. He came back four days later to report on the book and spent about five minutes giving me all the ins and outs of the tale! I was inspired to read it as well and picked it up this summer while proctoring the ACT. Shadow is less about a dog and more about Aman and his mother. Their epic escape from Afghanistan is aided by Shadow, a bomb sniffing dog trained by the British military. They must survive the Taliban, the dangers of open countryside and smugglers who want to profit from their need. Then Aman and his mother (no Shadow though) have been living in England for six years when they are accused of being illegal asylum seekers and thrown in a detention center. Based on real events in England with fictional characters, the reader is drawn into the battle to release Aman. It is an easy read, and I held my breath throughout the second half of the book as I read about the appalling nature of the detention center.
Monday, July 14, 2014
I'm super lucky to have really truly amazing friends. All of my best friends in Kansas City are from my college days, and I also have two special best friends who live elsewhere in the country who have been friends with me for EVEN longer. Middle and high school years are tough, but when you make friends that stick with you through the years and across the miles, you keep them!
When it came time to make a bridal party plan, Kip was really concerned I might have nine or ten bridesmaids. He was picturing the softball team from A League of Their Own, I think. I love my BFFs. I talk about them all the time - or I talk to them all the time! It was really tough to decide what to do, but I ended up with one maid of honor (sister Lauren) and four bridemaids.
Only Lauren and Erica are local, so I wanted to send a special surprise package to Rachel, Jennie and Andrea. This is normally a project that Rachel would have helped with, so it was extra fun to surprise her! I used Paper Source folder enclosures in chartreuse to match these great Paper Source donut tea towels. I made sugar cookies to match and frosted them like the donuts on the tea towel.
Mom helped me package everything up for mailing. Jennie and Rachel received theirs at home, but I had to send Andrea's to her office at Rockefeller Center. Pretty exciting to write out that address! I hear all the cookies made their arrival without breaking. Wrapping them up well and tucking in the tea towel for extra cushioning probably helped.
The donut idea was all my own, but the card idea I borrowed from a blogger I follow. I wrote little blurbs about each of the bridemaids and wrote a note about the big day in November. The two littler cards slid in the envelope on the side, and I attached the "donut think" card to the envelope itself before sealing it up.
I made some stickers and had my UPS store print them on a giant shipping label. They were easy to cut and sealed up both the envelope and the bakery box for the local deliveries. I took Erica's to church, and she thought I was bringing her husband a box of donuts!
It was a fun project to secretly work on and a fun kickoff to good times with all these lovely ladies.
(Excuse the haze on this last photo - I wanted you to see it with the tea towel! For some reason when Rachel and I did a photo shoot of all the parts, neither of us noticed the classic KC humidity hanging around. I could save most of the photos, but it was a little rough for a few. But you get the idea!)
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
This story begins a long time ago on Halloween 2012 when Allison got the phone call that there were two kids, a baby boy born earlier that day and an eleven-month-old girl. Three days later my mom and I stopped to meet Allison's daughter, Rue (my mom calls her Ruie!). Trace wouldn't arrive home from the hospital until almost a week later. And since then, Rue and Trace have been Allison's kids.
The process of foster to adopt is very very long. Quite possibly way longer than any of us could even imagine and with twists and turns like you would not believe. They aren't my stories to tell, but if you are interested in fostering to adopt, Allison would be glad to share them with you.
FINALLY, it was official this spring. The court hearing was the official final step and on Monday, May 12th we reported to the courthouse in Wyandotte County. Our friends over at Anecdotally Yours (obviously) are telling their story with a film which will be a perfect compilation of all the details. On the day of the court appointment, a photographer filmed the proceedings which was great because Allison was busy wrangling toddlers. Bubba was holding her phone and kept yelling "HELLO!" while the judge was saying nice things about Allison.
Allison started going to church with us downtown while she was fostering the kids. She waited to join until they could all join together as a family, and last Sunday was a very sweet baptism for these two very active toddlers. Trace tried to escape onto the stage during the baptism, and Rue was a bit of a skeptic about the whole water on her head part.
During church, Kip asked me to wipe off his glasses on my sweater. I broke them, and he missed the picnic afterwards so that he could clamp them together with gorilla glue. It's a good thing I took a lot of photos of the baptism to share with him so that he could see all the stuff he missed after I broke his glasses. #fianceefail
There's never a big occasion in Allison's family without food, so Mom and I went to Loose Park to hang out and picnic afterwards. We sat under the shade of a walnut tree and enjoyed good food and watching Rue and Trace run all around. They were too busy for photos with us.
Clearly Rue and Trace are uninterested in a photo with Tori and Mama. But later in the day, Rue sang all of "Jesus Loves Me" to her mom. Allison said she's never sung it with her; she learned it at Kids COR at our church. Then she told her mom, "Mr. Kip. He's my new friend." Allison wanted to make sure she didn't know any other Kips, but nope just mine. "Mr. Kip and Tori." We're happy to be friends with Allison, Rue and Trace, officially a family!
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Last year I went to Texas in July and totally expected it to be a blazing 110 degrees the entire time I was there. Instead, it was cool with highs in the 80s and a lovely 70 degrees on my last morning in Dallas. I used the "Instaweather" app to document the lovely temperatures, and I used the app on Wednesday because the July temperatures here in Kansas were almost too good to believe AGAIN. Wednesday night the weather was gorgeous, and I challenged Kip to the golf of putt putt on the Summer Manifesto.
We walked down to Mission Bowl that has an attached mini golf course. I kind of expected it to be crowded since the weather was gorgeous, but we were the only ones on the course for the first 14 holes. We reviewed the course rules VERY carefully so no one could be accused of cheating to win. Kip tried to tell me on the way down that he wasn't wearing the right shoes for mini golf. Since he only wears boots, I chose to ignore this concern. I wore a long sleeve shirt since it was a chilly 65 degrees on July 2.
The course is pretty well maintained but could definitely use a few updates. The turf is worn a little bit and a couple of rocks have shifted. But it's pretty functional and a good place for a quick game of mini golf.
I kept pace pretty well for the first half. I was only three strokes behind him after nine holes, and he was definitely nervous. I pulled within one stroke as we started the back nine but things didn't go my way in the end. Kip also got a hole in one to end the game (no prizes for a hole in one at Mission Bowl), and I finished with a 6 on the last hole. I lost by ten strokes! We went to the Clarette Club for a $2 PBR and signed the golf card. I think that's what makes it official, right?
The Fourth of July weekend looks absolutely gorgeous, and I'm so excited that it is going to be a three day weekend! We have some family time planned, and Kip and I have one bigger wedding project to work on together over the weekend. This week we crossed DJ and tuxes off the list, so it feels like stuff is getting done slowly all the time. Thanks for all the sweet comments about our engagement photos. We're pretty excited and think Erica May just did a wonderful job.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
There was never ever any question about who would be our wedding photographer. Erica at Anecdotally Yours has taken my head shot three different times (see right side bar), and I have photo bombed Rachel's family shoots twice already. Erica and I are both Mortar Board members from Kansas State, and Erica captured the famous "Victoria Luhrs is not impressed" photo from conference a couple years ago. We call her Erica May around here since my best friend is also named Erica, and we're so glad she will be the one capturing our wedding day.
You can see more of the photos over on her blog - be sure to click over and check them all out. The sunset was amazing in the Flint Hills not for dramatic colors but for really soft light and almost no wind, and I can't even begin to pick favorites. I literally just grabbed a few this morning. Making a choice for save-the-dates is going to be tricky! If you can pick a favorite, leave me a comment to help me out.
My favorite yellow shoes and the boots Kip got for Christmas from Nigro's, where my grandparents have been well known and loved for years. (You can see my Hunter boots in a few photos that I used for hiking through the pasture!)
I literally moved the photo shoot forward by two days on an impulse because last Tuesday just seemed so nice! I sure do have a flair for the dramatic as I tracked Kip down at work to tell him we were moving the photo shoot and changed my mind even after we had made the move. Thankfully, we stuck to the new plan, I packed some dinner and grabbed Kip after work to meet Erica and her sweet family up in the Flint Hills. It wasn't too hot or humid or overly sunny. Thankful that everyone agreed to move it forward - Kip's parents said there were showers on Thursday night so we were lucky in the end. And destroyed by bug bites. Kip and Erica May each had over 50 bug bites!
Kip insisted on driving up a couple Saturdays ago to location scout. He found this old stone barn in a pasture off the "Deep Creek Road" exit right before the exit for Manhattan. We hiked down into the pasture to take all these photos. I'm so glad you can see him in this element. He is so happy and relaxed in the country, that's why he looks like a star in all these photos with a photographer he just met. He also does really love me.
It was a perfect location for both of us. Kip is a Manhattan kid and grew up exploring this area with some friends from church. Kip may be at home in the country, but I'm the 7th generation Kansan in this relationship.
The contrast between these photos and the city photos we'll have from our wedding is just so perfect. And, of course he wore the purple pearl snap.
We threw some quilts in the car to take with us. This one was made by my great grandmother Della in the 1950s. My grandma Virginia's sister, Barbara, was coming to visit from Colorado, and grandma Della insisted they make a quilt. (Erica's photos of couples sitting down are always some of my favorite!)
The sunset cooperated a little bit and gave us some silhouette shots over at the scenic overlook going into Manhattan. It was a long day, especially for Kip, but a really good day. We are so very happy with the photos, but I think they are a great reflection that we are especially happy with each other. #teamLynch