Monday, June 29, 2015

Bang Bang Pie Shop in Chicago.

 photo Blog_1052.jpg
This week there will be a lot of photos of pie ahead of you. Just felt like I should warn ya so you can plan appropriately for the Fourth of July. You'll probably be craving pie by then with all these photos of pie.

On Sunday, Jennie suggested that we go to the Bang Bang Pie Shop in Logan Square for an afternoon snack. They have savory and sweet pies, really good coffee and a fun outside patio that we enjoyed.
 photo Blog_1051.jpg
Jennie and I both ordered sweet pies - one honey pie and one strawberry rhubarb. Plus we had to try a biscuit as well. The strawberry rhubarb was probably our favorite because the crusts were different, and it was just a little bit better. We weren't in the mood for savory, but I saw lots of people ordering awesome savory pies and biscuit sandwiches.
 photo Blog_1048.jpg
Little miss Grace got to try the biscuit and crust as well, and she was a fan. It's hard to photograph her little teeth coming in with her little smile, but she's got them ready for snacking.
 photo Blog_1049.jpg
It's so fun watching my friends as moms, and this age, 7.5 months, is a really fun one. Grace's personality really shines through, and she was hamming it up not just for me and my camera but the people at the table next to us too. Yeah pie!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Square Shots from Chicago.

 photo Blog_1037.jpg
Most of these square photos I posted on instagram, but not all of them. On Friday night when I arrived, Jennie and I met my friend Dereck at Big Star for tacos. My trip to Texas with Kip where we ate these tacos might have ruined me on a lot of other tacos, but these were good and hit the spot after traveling. Kip and I are STILL talking about those tacos in Dallas on a regular basis. Because as the banner says, "The answer is always tacos." I had admired that banner online before I found it in person at a cute shop in Logan Square.

It was chilly when I arrived on Friday night, so we wore our jackets and sat outside on the patio. I ate a socially inappropriate amount of guacamole - it was so so good - and caught up with Dereck. I also learned that Jennie doesn't like cilantro, something I feel like as best friend I should have already known. For dessert, we stopped at Glazed & Infused for donuts. Kansas City isn't big enough quite yet to have a donut shop open till the late hours, but one of these days. That's how I will know this city has really arrived. The best donut we tried? A very classic one with sprinkles, obviously.

Saturday night, Jennie and I took Miss Grace to eat at a pizza place that was good but mostly significant because it was next to a place with cake balls. Those were so amazing we went back on Sunday to try other flavors. Sunday while we were out exploring, Joe was preparing. He made ramen, totally from scratch, and it blew my mind. This isn't the first time I've been wowed by Joe's cooking. Very impressive attention to detail and the broth was loaded with flavor - Joe seriously worked for hours on it. If you are curious about ramen, read up about it here because Kansas City's getting our first ramen shop this summer. Kip does not care for Asian food, so let me know if you want to check it out with me!

Jennie and Joe live in a condo with two balconies and a fabulous view. I took this last square photo of my view to send Kip when I was talking to him one evening. I was a bit sappy about missing my husband for three whole nights. I love that guy and loved hearing about the shelves he was building while I was away!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Out and About in Chicago.

 photo Blog_1045.jpg
I arrived on Friday, June 12th to spend the weekend in Chicago with Jennie and her growing family. Jennie's parents have a place in the neighborhood which is sweet for everyone because they get to see their darling granddaughter all the time. On Saturday morning, we walked over to have coffee with them, and they remain some of my favoritest adults. We talked about books from book club, and they asked about my family. It was so good to see them.

Joe came by and took baby Grace to a first birthday party. Jennie and I had a delicious brunch in the neighborhood at Toast. I had quite possibly the best breakfast burrito of all time. It was well prepared so that everything was nice and warm and stayed warm the whole time I was eating it. It's been two weeks, and I can still taste the awesomeness.
 photo Blog_1047.jpg
It was cold the night I arrived, but it warmed way up! We spent much of our time walking outside and it felt like summer on Saturday and Sunday. A brand new walking/running/biking path opened right by Jennie's place.  photo Blog_1046.jpg The "606" connects several neighborhoods with an elevated path. All the neighborhoods start with the zip code 606, and I loved it! It's beautifully done and provides an excellent view of the neighborhoods. I wanted to take lots of photos of the trees and landscaping to discuss with Kip. I knew he would be interested.
 photo Blog_1050.jpg
Grace mostly liked me. She liked me best from a distance and occasionally if I held her and did something magical like give her a straw. She's darling and I have lots of excellent photos of her showing off her grin to come in future posts. Grace was a great sport about being out and about and exploring in Chicago.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Kauffman Experience at the Lynch House.

 photo Blog_1018.jpg
This weekend is Father's Day, but back in May we celebrated Mother's Day with our mom! We decided to create the "Kauffman Experience" at the Lynch house. The Royals played at Detroit for Sunday night baseball, and we wanted to celebrate Mom with sports. It's fitting for the Luhrs Ladies! Everyone came over about 6 pm for snacks and to eat before the game. Of course Mom and Lu showed up in Royals gear. Kip refused to cooperate and wore purple, so he got to take the photo instead of be in the photo!

Kip grilled some brats and hot dogs for the main dish. Lauren got a spiralizer, and it's pretty marvelous. She made these delicious sweet potato spirals for us. I love a good impulse buy and snatched up these Royals themed peanuts at Hy-Vee sometime recently. We love soft pretzels at the ballpark, and these pretzel bites were surprisingly easy to make. And finally, for dessert, fresh strawberries, homemade chocolate syrup and custard from Sheridan's. We miss having fresh custard at the K, but Lauren picked some up for Mother's Day.

Simple but fun way for us to celebrate Mother's Day, especially as we all have a serious case of Royals fever. We're probably going to watch the All Star game for the first time in a while because it will be like watching another Royals game! We are certainly "forever Royal."

Friday, June 12, 2015

Breakfast in Denton.

 photo Blog_1020.jpg
Summer officially starts for me today! Five weeks off to try to get a few projects done around the house, hang out at the pool, read a few books and do an awful lot of homework (two classes and one is compacted to five weeks). Kip and I made a short summer manifesto list, and even though I haven't blogged it, it's still very real. We've already knocked off a couple things of the summer manifesto!

I'm headed out of town for the weekend and super excited about it. I'll be out of town briefly three times this summer, and that should be just the right amount. No big trips on the books for 2015, but these little trips should fit the bill nicely.

This is finally the last post from our fantastic trip to north Texas for Lindsay and John's wedding the first weekend of May. Besides eating at the wedding, we had only four meals to make the most of Texas eating. The hotel had complimentary breakfast, but we ate out in Denton both mornings we were there. I love to eat local, and we had so many fabulous recommendations.

Our first breakfast was our favorite at Cartwright's Ranch House in the Denton. It was another great rec from my mom's sorority sister, and it was the perfect breakfast for my western loving husband. Each breakfast dish was named after a famous western star. He had to tell me about a couple of the names I didn't recognize! It was an amazing breakfast with the country style stuff Kip loves and a perfect breakfast sandwich for me. We ate outside and admired the courthouse in the square.
 photo Blog_1021.jpg
On Sunday, we met up with Amy and Daniel for breakfast at Loco Cafe. They had some amazing looking cinnamon rolls tempting us when we came in, and we ordered two for the table. The coffee was hot and good (we drank lots!), and my breakfast sandwich on the homemade biscuits was also good (but not as good as the one the day before!). I had a caramelized grapefruit that made me incredibly happy.
 photo Blog_1022.jpg
It was pretty quiet early on a Sunday, but we lingered over the table for a long time with Amy and Daniel. That breakfast meal was one of the best parts of the weekend as we talked life around the table. We ate well and loved our time in Texas with good food and kind friends.

Now onto Chicago!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Six Books of May.

 photo Blog_1035.jpg
Three nonfiction books in May, and they were good. But I'm a bit weary of nonfiction. It's so alluring because you get to learn something, but it's more work, even if you're just listening. I have a couple other nonfiction books I would love to read, but I'm in the mood for light fluff you can tear through these days.

A Walk in the Woods kept Kip and I company on the trip to Texas and back. It's a longer listen, but Kip and I liked it. Occasionally Bill Bryson's point-of-view about conservation made Kip crazy (remember, he's a park management and conservation major). But his stories from the Appalachian Trail are a good companion piece to Wild. I also finally saw the movie for Wild, and I had forgotten a bunch of what Cheryl Strayed goes through before she hits the trail!

No one else wanted to read Deep Down Dark with me (except my mom!). It was the first book picked for the Morning Edition book club. It's a good thing that we know the miners live because otherwise it may have been too depressing to read. Not a quick read, but it was fascinating. I knew nothing about Chilean mining, so I learned plenty.

Tara recommended Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One's Looking. It's a terrifying look at what metadata from the internet can tell us. The founder of OK Cupid wrote the book, and I remembered about one disc into the book that Tara said it was weird to listen to because they have to describe all the charts and tables. Whoops. It's interesting, but surprisingly, none of it stuck enough for me to reference at dinner parties. So it wasn't that interesting, I guess? Or maybe if I had read the book instead of listened to it?
 photo Blog_1036.jpg
I started listening to Love Letters from the Dead but the CD skipped so I ended up finishing the hard copy from the library. It's dark YA lit. My friend Amy and I have talked a lot about how HEAVY some YA lit is, especially books that deal with abuse and suicide. I've read about four books this year with this major theme, and thankfully this one at least listed help line phone numbers and websites at the end.

Listen, Slowly is from the same author as Inside Out & Back Again. I also started listening to this book but gave it to my mom and finished the story in the book form from the library. The audio is better - hearing the Vietnamese pronunciations are powerful. The twelve-year-old has to accompany her grandmother to Vietnam for the summer as they try to discover what happened to her grandfather during THE WAR. (That's how they say it in the book.) Mom and I both liked it, and it's a good one for the #weneeddiversebooks movement.

For book club we read The Rosie Effect, the sequel to The Rosie Project. It was okay but the first one is way better so I'm not in a hurry to tell you to read this one. Of those of us who read it, only one "I loved it!" at book club.

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Baby Girl for Jesi.

 photo Blog_1019.jpg
In May, we celebrated that Jesi was expecting her first baby. She looks absolutely fabulous, and we had the best time gathering to shower her and baby girl. A couple of regular friends were there from KC, plus one very special surprise guest - Vicki! You probably remember Vicki from our fantastic adventures in Northern Virginia, Serbia and Budapest. She is in DC studying away and preparing for their next big move abroad, but she was able to sneak home for one weekend. We worked out together and drank coffee for a very long time in the morning before she surprised Jesi at the baby shower.

We played one of my favorite baby shower games that I always forget about until we play it! Each of us filled out a bingo card with things we thought that Jesi would open - rattles, clothes, diapers, etc. And then we watched as she opened and marked items off on our bingo boards. I'm a tiny bit competitive, so I loved it! I sat between Anne and Vicki, and we had a good time guessing items and checking them off. They both ended up winning bingo!

Babies are the best and celebrating sweet mamas is also fantastic.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Presidents, Baseball and Tacos.

 photo Blog_1030.jpg
I made my first trip to the George W. Presidential Library back in July 2013 with my friend Lindsay. My bucket list is to hit all the presidential libraries during my lifetime. This is not Kip's goal, but he married me so now he gets to go to as many as possible too! Our kids have a very bright future with family trips to presidential libraries and national parks!

We had time on our trip to Texas for a trip to the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Kip thought it was his first presidential library, but his mom corrected him to point out he has also been to Eisenhower and Truman's libraries.
 photo Blog_1026.jpg
We picked up the audio guides at the front desk but found the iPods a bit distracting as we started touring the museum. There is plenty to see and read without the multimedia aspect. I'm standing in the recreated Oval Office, and we took a photo of the collection of Teddy Roosevelt books for Kip's dad.
 photo Blog_1031.jpg
They've done a neat job recreating wild Texas outside, so we stopped and looked out at this quiet corner of SMU's campus while we were touring. Kip always looks at the trees wherever we go!
 photo Blog_1029.jpg
The special exhibit at the library was all about our presidents and baseball, and we were both huge fans. It may have been one of the neatest museum exhibits I've seen in a long time! Each president who played a role in baseball had a section and a baseball card that matched the style of that era. It's a great fit for Bush's library as he was an owner of the Rangers baseball team. There was also a very nice feature about President Bush throwing out the first pitch in New York after 9-11.
 photo Blog_1027.jpg
We could pick up the cards and read about their connections on the back. Harry S. Truman, my personal favorite, was the first president to throw out a southpaw pitch. He resumed the tradition after Japan's surrender, helping to signify that the country could resume normal activity.

I loved reading the letters exchanged between FDR and the commissioner of baseball about the importance of the game during war. I think students would be fascinated to learn more about primary sources in this way! There were photos of Dwight Eisenhower playing baseball growing up and plenty of modern day artifacts too.
 photo Blog_1028.jpg
Not to be left out, the first ladies also have played a role at the ballpark as well. The exhibit was all inclusive and the highlight of the library for the two of us. It's all baseball all the time in our house - we've caught Royals fever in a pretty serious way.
 photo Blog_1023.jpg
All this learning made us hungry so we made our way to a Yelp find, the Velvet Taco. We ordered four awesome tacos and an order of elote style corn. We each picked out a beer and were super fascinated by the tops of our beer cans. The whole middle comes off for easy drinking. We loved it, but we have still only seen it in Texas. Our beer connoisseur friends in Kansas hadn't heard of it yet either!
 photo Blog_1025.jpg
The corn was legit and made me ready for summer. I'm also on the hunt for this type of cheese (cojita) in KC. My summer school job is in a neighborhood with about twenty Hispanic bodegas and groceries, so maybe I'll find it in the next couple weeks! Also, that red sauce had a magical effect on the corn too.
 photo Blog_1024.jpg
As for the main event, the tacos didn't disappoint. One fish taco, two chicken and one beef. Kip chose more "normal" street tacos and thought that his choices were best. I think the fish taco with the perfectly battered and fried fish gave his favorite chicken taco a run for the money. The line was out the door by the time we left, but we were full and very happy. Taco Republic in KC makes a great taco, but we both can't stop talking about these tacos almost a month later.

Our time in Dallas was limited before we headed back to Denton, but we definitely made the most of it with a good museum and fantastic food.