Friday, August 29, 2014

Couples Shower (Beer!)

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Party #2 in our wedding season was a couples beer shower thrown by the Strubes and Andersons. Erica and I actually started talking about this party a long long time before Kip was even on the radar, and it fit "Kip & Victoria" perfectly. We both LOVE really good beer. Instead of a traditional stock the bar party (Kip doesn't drink wine or cocktails), the theme was just beer. Guests brought us sweet surprises from our registry and/or beer, and boy were we blessed by their gifts! Kip has a "beer fridge" in the garage at his house, and all the new beer inspired him to deep clean it with bleach. So now we've got a sparkly clean fridge full of delicious beer. You guys, I love him. Deep cleaning the fridge is one of my love languages.
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Sasha and Mike drove up from Derby to be there for the shower. My only first cousin on my mom's side is very dear to me, and it meant so much to Kip and me that they could be there to celebrate with us. Spending so much time with family and friends has definitely been one of the best parts of the wedding prep!
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The girls from book club were there with their husbands. And baby Vera, dressed for another Royals win. If the Royals could win the World Series this year, it would make this fall EVEN BETTER.

Dereck was in from Chicago which allowed us to recreate a very favorite photo of the six of us that was taken at Jon's law school graduation in 2009. It's hard to believe it's been over five years since that photo!
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The evening's events were simple and perfect: drink beer and enjoy great company. Ashley brewed us a beer, and true to form, it was perfect. Every one of the guests got to try it and raved about how good it was! The hosts prepared fabulous savory and sweet foods including homemade pretzels and jalapeno popper dipper that Kip single-handedly ate half of by himself. To be fair, I refuse to disclose the number of pretzel bites and rice krispie treats I ate while chatting with friends.

We had a fantastic time. Mixing up some family, a few of Kip's friends, adding in some other couples and all the book club husbands made for a fantastic party. Just three more months till the big day, and we are thrilled all these folks will be there to celebrate with us. A huge thank you to the Strubes and Andersons for hosting and doing such a fabulous job. We both feel so very lucky.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

One Year with Kip.

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For some reason after my fourth or fifth date with Kip, I started writing down what we did on our dates. Movies, restaurants, what I made for dinner, etc. I used some pages in the back of my organize my life binder and made a really casual list. I have no idea why I started, but as the pages filled up, I am grateful that I decided to start this project. Kip and I both enjoy looking through all the days together and remember really fun things, some learning experiences and all the delicious food. Reason #45862 Kip is perfect for me: he didn't think it was weird.

When we celebrated the anniversary of our first date, I counted up meals, movies, #kiptoria instagrams, and the number of pale ales we've tried. I couldn't begin to estimate the pounds of butter and coffee consumed. Our highest frequency meal is pancakes, probably with bacon, and we were both surprised the number wasn't actually higher! It's probably only interesting to us, but it was a sweet reflection of our first year. Piktochart made it really easy to put it all together, and I printed it as a 5 x 7 card for Kip.

We went to brunch at Cafe Sebastienne and had the loveliest time celebrating the very first year. I told Kip we'll swap in this anniversary for our REAL anniversary in three short months, so we made the most of the end of round one.

Friday, August 22, 2014


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Some years the Mission Pub Crawl swells up to as many as 40-50 people throughout the night. Year seven was definitely smaller, but it was definitely still a delight and a tradition that lives on. We sold 29 t-shirts, including eight to people who couldn't join us for the evening. And two of those people were toddlers who needed a shirt to match their parents. That's what happens when you still have a pub crawl in your 30s. Thankfully Lauren's friends were along to bring the average age down of the pub crawl participant.

I'm a huge fan of ordering t-shirts from Acme in Lawrence - it's like the t-shirt store Threads in Manhattan. They will let me design, send the files, and then they will print on whatever I want. Even if that means half v-necks, half crew necks, a baby onesie and two toddler shirts.
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Five years ago for #mpc2, Mission, Kansas was under construction. Our shirts featured an adorable dinosaur drinking a beer with the catch phrase "We dig Mission!" Five years later Mission, specifically Johnson Drive, is under construction again. The dinosaurs are back on our shirts, and they brought construction equipment with them. Kip would like you to know this is not a real piece of construction equipment, but I picked it because there was room for more dinosaurs.

I didn't pull the camera out very often during the night, but I promise there were lots of friends there. Mom joined us for dinner and her first trip to the Keyhole. Two babies born five days apart, Leo and Vera, joined us for bbq at RJ's Bob-be-que as well. We enjoyed Kip's first #mpc and my last #mpc where I could walk home at the end of the night.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Boulevard Unfiltered Tour.

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Kip has lived in Kansas City for about eight years and hadn't been on the Boulevard beer tour. Tragedy! Boulevard recently switched up their tour offerings, and the guided tour doesn't include nearly what it used to back in the day. During her maternity leave, Anne was kind enough to be ready to reserve the Unfiltered Tour as soon as it was posted. For Kip's first Boulevard tour, we wanted to start with the very best!

Kip and I are beer drinkers. I saw him drink wine once at Four Olives but mostly just to be polite. He never orders mixed drinks or fancy cocktails. I made a couple of cocktails this summer and enjoy well chilled white wine, but together we love to drink beer. And we have really similar taste in beer! Kip and I like to try the latest seasonal releases from Boulevard, anything our friend Ashley creates, and beers labeled "pale ale." If you are offered a beer by one of us, it's likely to be Copperhead Pale Ale from Free State or Boulevard Pale Ale. Or maybe a Tank 7 if we're taking things seriously.
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I would highly recommend the Unfiltered Tour to everyone whether or not you have taken the basic Boulevard tour. It gives a history of Boulevard, and you get to drink beer while touring the factory! And you have to wear safety glasses! They are serious about the closed toe shoes part as well. A girl on our tour had to wear booties over her flip flops which I found hilarious.

We started the tour in the gift shop where they passed out a full glass of the seasonal Ginger Lemon Radler (still not my favorite) to begin. We toured for a while, then they let us pick our next beer. And our third beer. We finished in the tasting room where we all chose to try the two beers they were sampling for possible future releases. For $20 we saw the factory, had three beers and sampled two more. I would definitely say that this meets the definition of a Sunday Funday AND was worth every penny.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bachelorette Sleepover at Circle S Ranch.

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This cast of characters traveled from near and far to celebrate my bachelorette a couple weekends ago at the Circle S Ranch. We had so much fun celebrating Abbey's bachelorette there in 2012 that it was an easy choice for us to have a sleepover back at the ranch. It was actually on the books as a "book club sleepover" a few months ago, but it morphed into a bachelorette celebration after we got engaged. It was so nice to have fourteen of my friends gathered together in one place for the night - I am exceptionally lucky to know these women.
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Jennie and Rachel both flew in for the weekend. Jennie had the worst luck and spent about 12 hours in the Chicago Midway airport before arriving in the middle of the night late Friday. Rachel made her connection in Dallas, and we picked her up at the airport before heading straight to the Circle S Ranch.
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Even though Rachel and Jennie flew in from out of town, Vicki may win for "furthest trip" because she just moved home from Serbia. We had the whole book club there plus Rachel, Jennie, Jesi from Manhattan and Allison from Kansas City. There was much to catch up on with everyone together in one place.
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My sister, Kate and Jennie were fabulous hosts. I don't think you can read the sash well, but it says "Gettin' Hitched" which is more than perfectly appropriate for a bachelorette at a ranch and a gal marrying someone who wears cowboy boots 360+ days a year. On the last five days of the year, Kip doesn't always change his shoes after church. He is NOT planning to wear boots on our wedding day or to the BOTAR ball even though I would be okay with both. Kip feels strongly that boots should be brown, and both of those occasions would require black boots.
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Lauren (with Rachel's design help) ordered some sweet camouflage koozies to keep our beer cold with the hashtag we love, #kiptoria. Andrea, one of my bridesmaids who couldn't join us from NYC, sent a HUGE package of candy. I think we opened it before dinner, and there wasn't much left by the end of the night.
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The light was really pretty, and the temperatures were so nice that we took lots of photos. It was so cool for August that we could even enjoy special cocktails Jennie planned outside on the porch. She made a twist on a Pimm's cup, and it was delicious! She also put together cute s'mores bags with the recipe for the Pimm's cup tied to the outside.
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Baby Vera was just two months old and came along for the girls' night. Rachel is wishing she would have both a daughter and a baby in the 97% percentile sometime. Vera was a champ.
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Circle S has these ladies sleepovers down to an art. They start by serving margaritas, chips and salsa, and this time they threw in delicious bruschetta either loaded with figs or heirloom tomatoes. They grow both! We were amazed and ate as quickly as they brought out the food. For dinner, they serve a Mexican feast, and we were all obsessed with the homemade tortillas we filled with fajita fixings.
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We used a fence post and the timer feature to capture this gem.The photographer we use for BOTAR events always says to put your faces as close as possible, and that's what I told them for this shot.
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We stayed up late talking, playing LCR (my favorite!), and drinking some more beer and wine. There were many moms in the group, and everyone was looking forward to sleeping through the night and sleeping in a bit in the morning. We woke to a cool, rainy morning. It poured off and on as we drank coffee and ate a big hot breakfast before heading home. 
 photo Blog_0688.jpgSometimes the bachelorette party is the last thing before the wedding, but in my case it was the first activity to kick off the wedding season. I thought it was perfect. I loved getting to celebrate the start of this really exciting time with people that mean so much to me. From here on out, everything is spaced three weeks apart, exactly. We're celebrating again in a couple weeks with a beer party, then there's a shower in September here in town and even a tailgate celebration too!

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Three Books of July.

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I'm pretty sure it's Friday. Yes, confirmed. It's Friday.

A long long time ago we scheduled a book club sleepover for last weekend, and then it morphed into a bachelorette party in one of our smartest moves. Ever. I drove 280 miles in 48 hours getting besties to-and-from the airport, stayed up way too late for "girl talk," and started the longest week of work a wee bit behind on sleep and sanity. But then the teachers came back and the to-do lists got longer, and it was okay because this is the work I really love. I like to say, "YES," to find ways to make things possible for teachers to do the magic that happens in the four walls of their rooms. Last night the kids came to meet their first hour teachers and the excitement kept building. I love the first day of school!

But I think I might sleep until Monday.

Anyways, I read three books in July. You might be surprised which one I loved the most because everybody (including Oprah) loves a different one the most!

Wonder was a sweet parting gift from a teacher that left our building who shared a love of all young adult literature. My mom read it in two nights, and because the narrator switches throughout the story, it's easy to read it quickly. It's a must for fourth through seventh graders and also probably adults as it is an important story about what sets us apart. This book wins all the awards because it exudes empathy. My mom liked it more than I did, but I think it would make a FABULOUS read aloud. It's definitely good.

The Invention of Wings made the cut into Oprah's book club 2.0, and I think I shocked book club with the number of complaints I had about it. Generally, everyone else liked it. It's mostly the story of Sarah Grimke who should have been listed in the long list of women suffragists in this School House Rock classic.

Also, my book club wasn't familiar with this video. Shared now for everyone to remember the importance of voting.

I digress, back to the book...Grimke is a fascinating lady, but I sort of wish that I could have read a biography instead of the novel. Sue Monk Kidd embellishes Grimke's story with a couple of not believable twists to add some romance. And the alternating chapters are from the point-of-view of a slave in her family's Charleston, South Carolina home. Many of the horrifying descriptions from the slave, Handful, were painfully accurate. However, there are a couple of twists to Handful's story line, including some parts about slaves escaping, that I found a hard to believe. The Secret Life of Bees will always be Sue Monk Kidd's best book, and generally, I think most of the book club liked it MUCH more than me. I think I let the history teacher part of me get in the way.

Counting by 7s was my FAVORITE book this month. It's young adult in case you wondered. The main character is a child genius, Willow Chance, and she had a hard time connecting with anyone besides her adoptive parents. She’s a twelve-year-old genius, but others have a hard time getting past her obsession with counting by sevens and all things science and nature. After a tragic auto accident, Willow finds herself an orphan again. She ends up with a Vietnamese immigrant family where she goes from an observer of how family works to the catalyst to bring unlikely characters together. It's heartbreaking for a bit, and then just turns into plain awesomeness. I laughed out loud as I read it - Willow could be my favorite character in quite a while. I've already passed it on to my mom.