a night at the ballet

This year, the boy and I decided to be fancy and get a season subscription to the KC Ballet. I have always been a fan of dance [read: was constantly dancing as a child, though I was extremely uncoordinated] and luckily I have made the boy able to appreciate it to an extent.

However, I think our favorite part is the Kauffmen Center of the Performing Arts building itself. Take a look, the architecture is amazing:

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We went to see Giselle. This is apparently a very old ballet, and you can tell in it’s choreography; it’s very classic. It is folkloric and magical. There are peasants, royalty, spirits, betrayal, and love. My favorite part was the Wilis (they give you the Willies!) as the set is dark and brooding with the spirits of beautiful, draped in white, forsaken brides twirling about. No pictures of that, of course, but I thought it was wonderful.

Just a trip to the building will do, however, if you are a fan of beautiful architecture.

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Birthday Staycation in Kansas City

I am the birthday czar.

Seriously. I love birthdays. I love my birthday, or birthweek I should say. I really make it last.

For instance, this year I took four days off of work to go see my sister in Tulsa. We shopped, watched movies, got our nails done, had a home spa day (with lots of giggles about how ridiculous it all was), and managed to have a birthday blast! Because the deal is: I call all the shots on my birthday week. I am the czar.

On the actual day of my birth, I thanked my mother for birthing me (since she really did all the work) and then began my day long celebration. See, the tradition I started just last year is that I make a list of all the things that I haven’t managed to see and do in Kansas City yet. Then the boy and I go around and be tourists for the day. Here follows the record of this epic day.

My first decree was that breakfast would be had at The Farmhouse in the City Market area. I had been wanting to try this place as they use all local ingredients to make hearty comfort food. And since hearty comfort food is my all time favorite genre of food, I knew I would love the place. I also happened to choose the best thing on the menu. I mean, I didn’t try anything else, but nothing can beat this, unless by some food magics.

Stevi in KC goes to the Farmhouse

 

That thing of beauty you see is a bacon and cheddar biscuit (so fluffy! so flavorful!) topped with fried tenderloin (so juicy! so crispy!) topped with an over hard egg (so eggy!) and finished off with the other half of biscuit and a mound of delicious gravy. Heaven. Seriously, that could have been everything I did for the day and I would have been happy.

Stevi in KC goes to The Farmhouse

But guess what?! There’s more!

Next up we stopped by a fun store in the City Market area called Yoki. It has a bunch of fun novelties imported from Japan. I highly recommend a visit, if nothing else other than to look at all the different stuff. And buy these Hello Panda chocolate things, because they are the best! Go buy them. Now. I also purchased some fun cards and stickers (cat themed, of course!). And then made a quick stop for some boba tea (another demand I made even though it might have made us late to my next decreed event)!

Stevi in KC goes to YokiStevi in KC drinks boba tea

Which was to take a tour of The Roasterie. It was a fun and interesting tour; our tour guide was very knowledgeable and entertaining. My favorite part was where they had volunteers show to they quality test the coffee: a ridiculous slurping of the coffee that makes it fill your whole mouth so you get the best taste test. I unfortunately did not volunteer in time, but would have loved to have tried it (maybe I will do that at home, actually!). Afterward, we purchased coffee (and a poster for $1!) and sat out in the beautiful sun and slurped away.

Stevi in KC goes to The Roasterie

Look at all of those coffee beans!

Look at all of those coffee beans!

Stevi in KC goes to The Roasterie

Since we were not remotely hungry still (just to give you perspective, we finished breakfast at 10 and we were not ready for lunch until 3) we stopped by the Thomas Hart Benton state park. I did not know anything about the artist, much less that he was from Kansas City. When we arrived, Mr. Benton was waiting for us.

Hello there, Thomas!

Hello there, Thomas!

We took a tour of his studio, where he died working on a painting actually, and we learned about his painting process and style. And then moved into the house to learn about his family and his history. It was a really interesting tour and a beautiful home, though my pictures don’t do it justice.

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My kind of people!

My kind of people!

His daughter painted this!

His daughter painted this!

Next up on my to do list was Amigoni Urban Winery. Their vineyards are on the outskirts of Kansas City, but they have a tasting room downtown in a cool old building that used to be the Daily Drover Telegram Newspaper. We both did the wine tasting and sampled five of their wines… and left with four bottles and a bottle of some amazing olive oil! It’s a nice price, good atmosphere, great wine, and fun time. They have cheese plates for purchase as well, so it’s a great place to go for appetizers and drinks before catching a meal.

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Which is exactly what we did! We went to La Bodega, a place I have been wanting to go for tapas ever since I found out there was a tapas place here in KC! I went to visit my lovely sister when she studied abroad in Spain and had the pleasure of discovering tapas with her, and couldn’t wait to try it here in the states. You should definitely go in between 2-6 because several of the tapas are half price during that time, so we proceeded to stuff ourselves. I only got pictures of two of our plates though, and greedily snarfed down the rest before taking pics.

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After that, we passed some time going to a few other stores I’d been wanting to visit. One is Oracle Fine Curiosities, which is full of interesting fossils, crystals, taxidermy, and some amazing jewelry that I need to go back and find. Jason bought my birthday present there: a beautiful butterfly! (I have a thing for colorful insects) And another was Pryde’s Old Westport, an amazing kitchen store! It was full to the brim with anything and everything kitchen related. We didn’t stay long because to fully experience this store you need a lot more time than what we had to work with, but I did get a picture of their amazing “chandelier’s” that were made with egg beaters!

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It was around dinner time when we came home and I was greeted by Birthday Cat!

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Then I had my wonderful group of friends over for pizza, some Amigoni wine, and games. We had a great time, and it was a wonderful ending to a perfect day.

Candyland: Natasha’s Mulberry & Mott

Before Valentine’s Day, the boy and I went walking around the plaza and stopped into a magical place. Where we spent entirely too much money getting goodies. We looked through everything, picked out our favorites, and set out to walk around in the beautiful weather snacking on our treats.

One fun and delicious thing we purchased was their marshmallows or “Gator Bait”.

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The macarons are what they do the most of, and they do them well. They use their macarons for decorating their elaborate window displays, and in fact their whole shop is wonderfully decorated. I’ll leave you with some pictures to entice you:

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restaurant| i pho tower

Let me set the mood: it’s dark (even though it’s afternoon) with French bistro floors, walls, tables, and chairs but Asian decor and an eclectic mix of American music.

 

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That’s what you get at a French/Vietnamese fusion restaurant in Kansas. Plus hipster servers.

I-pho-tower is an entertaining place, to be sure. The boy and I went there last weekend in search of pho. We didn’t try the part of the menu with the fusions (stuff like Vietnamese crepes) because we wanted pho and a bahn mi. Also  delicious Thai iced coffee.

 

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However, as an appetizer we did get the pork buns which was a mix of Vietnamese BBQ pork in French pastry dough. The dough was just a bit sweet which contrasted nicely with the savory pork; I highly recommend it.

 

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For the main course we ordered a pork bahn mi sandwich and chicken pho to share. The pork on the bahn mi was a bit fatty for my taste, but it didn’t bother J. The sauce and flavors from the carrots, cilantro, and other veggies made up for it entirely; it was an excellent blend of flavors.

 

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The chicken pho was amazing. The broth was so flavorful even the boy didn’t want to completely slather it in sriracha in order to enjoy the innate flavors (though we did out a fair amount in). The ingredients were top quality and I can tell by J’s reaction that we will be going back.

 

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Good atmosphere, great food, interesting mix of classic, alternative, and instrumental music, all in all I would recommend this place! We will definitely try some of the more experimental foods in the future.

scenes of late

Lately I have been trying to get my life in order: cleaning, projects, making lists, applying for all the jobs, spending time with friends, etc. It has been pretty fun and fulfilling, but now it’s time to let you in on it.

1. Working out and eating better.
I have been working out at least three times a week for 40 minutes or more for close to two months now. Additionally, I have downloaded the app, My Fitness Pal, in order to watch my calories for the past month. No improvement yet. Anyway, at the end of my workout I take all of the stairs to the very top of our apartment complex and take a look out at the plaza. Here is photographic proof.

 

Good Morning Kansas City!

Good Morning Kansas City!

 

2. Cat pictures. I am always taking them, there will be no break in my showcasing Bowie. Recently, I helped her onto the bed while I was cleaning and she explored, and then she somehow (despite her disability) made herself a little home with some packing paper from something the boy bought. Also, she wants to be an outdoor cat so badly (but she can’t defend herself so we can’t let her) so we found her asleep with her head in the begonias on our balcony.

 

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3. I had a whole weekend of rowdy college fun with my fellow college alumnae. (Alas, those pictures will not be showcased here…) It ended with a tea at our old scholarship hall on Lilac Lane, and the lilacs were in full bloom and so very lovely.

 

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4.  The boy and I have been trying to get outside as much as possible so we’ve started taking little picnics or just a blanket and some books (I am reading After Dark by Haruki Murakami) to the local park. It is so relaxing and makes me wonder why we don’t do that more often.

 

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5. Last week I took a walk to the plaza (in search of a job) and took some lovely pics from my time down there. It was such a beautiful day and I noticed several things around that I had never noticed before. Then that evening I put out the new lanterns I bought and sat on our balcony enjoying the evening. I don’t know what I did with the afternoon that day, but it was obviously not well documented.

 

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6. This past weekend I went to Oklahoma for a friend’s graduation and learned that Oklahoma City has a little downtown area with a river walk. We had a nice relaxing, delicious, and fun dinner followed by a long walk along the “river”. I put quotation marks because I’m not sure it was a river as it was rather small and I’m fairly certain is was man-made, but it was magical nonetheless.

 

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Those are my adventures of late. Part of my planning has been around this blog, so expect some changes soon.

steamboat arabia museum

In case you didn’t read the previous post, for my birthday I made a list of things I still hadn’t seen in KC and had a tourist day with the boy. However, the Steamboat Arabia needed a post of it’s own, so here you go:

This Steamboat Arabia Museum is something I think I saw as a child but have little to no recollection of the event, yet I kept seeing the museum when we would go to the farmer’s market on the weekends and decided I at least needed to see what this was all about. So I tell the boy that ‘this might be really stupid, but I want to at least know what is in the museum and it’s my birthday and so we are going’.

So we march on up to the info desk to buy the tickets…… and they are $15 per person! For such a tiny and seemingly insignificant museum! I mean the only museum dedicated entirely to WWI in the nation is here in KC, and it’s a pretty big museum, and it only costs $14 per person! But, I have to know what is in this museum so I deem the price worth my curiosity.

We ask for two tickets, and the woman hands us our tickets practically as the request is still leaving my lips and says that the next tour is in thirty minutes.  (Immediately my mind balks at this new information. A TOUR?! We don’t even get to walk around by ourselves! I don’t want to wait for thirty minutes, why didn’t you tell me that BEFORE I bought the ticket!) After a pause, she says that there will be maybe sixty children on that tour, however, and that if we want to wait for the tour following that it will be an additional thirty minute wait time. I look at J apologetically, I had no idea it would be so expensive and full of school children. This seems like a very bad idea.

Buuut we’ve already spent the money and I have a whole list of other things for us to do, so we plow forward. After wandering around nearby stores for thirty minutes we join the school children to start the tour. The tour guide was nice and handled the children well and managed to get us all funneled into a small room to play a video…… which was super cheesey. It was informational, but it was also full of weird “recreated scenes” and it didn’t help to reassure me that this tour was worth it. But then one of the guys who discovered the steamboat came out to talk afterward which made things look up, so now I’ll give you some of the story behind this place.

Basically, loads of steamboats went up the Missouri river back in those days and a lot of them crashed because of the shallow river and the amount of “snags” (trees stuck in the bottom but almost reaching the surface) there were. The Steamboat Arabia was a pretty big one for it’s time, and it was taking women, children, and a whole bunch of supplies to the men up the river who were trying to settle towns, build homes, etc. Everyone survived when the Steamboat Arabia went down (except the poor donkey, still tied to the front of the boat (sad face)) but then it disappeared, and the river moved many miles away when a flood occurred a short time later which buried the steamboat under the silt that was left. A rumor was started that there were barrels upon barrels of the finest Kentucky bourbon and soon EVERYONE went looking for the treasure trove of whisky. Finally, someone way back when found it, but the first several things they brought up were just hats and boots and such and they quickly abandoned the effort because, yeah, no whisky, so why keep looking?

But then, in the late 80s/early 90s a group of four men ran into someone looking for the Arabia and decided to look for themselves. They committed themselves fully, looking through historical documents for stories about where it might be or what it might hold, maps from before the river moved and after, until they decided on a spot to start looking. It took them a long time to dig down far enough to find anything, but then they found everything. The guy talking to us after the video said he remembered saying at the time that it would take at least two years to go through all the stuff they found….. and it’s been 20 years and there are still cleaning up stuff they found. In fact there is a room in the museum where you can see them cleaning up the artifacts:

 

board explaining what they are working on.

board explaining what they are working on.

artifact cleaning room (the dryer is the tube off to the left that the cow hide mentioned on the white board is in)

artifact cleaning room (the dryer is the tube off to the left that the cow hide mentioned on the white board is in)

close up, same room, explaining the perfume on the wall on the right.

close up, same room, explaining the perfume on the wall on the right.

it smelled pretty good!

it smelled pretty good!

 

That is one of the things I liked most about this museum, the way it was set up. The room above was interesting, though they weren’t working at the time we went through, in that it let you into the personal side of how this museum is set up, the stuff they are still going through to add to the museum. Since it’s just normal people putting together their own museum about stuff they found, it’s clear they wanted to make a museum that was accessible to everyone. There was also an exhibit that showed and explained how they control the temperature and light and why they do so:

 

explanation.

explanation.

the actual controls.

the actual controls.

We had skipped out on the tour immediately after the video because the tour guides had their hands full with the kids, so I know I missed out on some pretty decent anecdotal stories (one of the guys who helped discover the Arabia apparently opened a jar of pickles that was in the wreckage and tried one, stating that it was just as crisp and flavorful as if they were new — and there were more stories in that vain I think that we missed) but we still really enjoyed wandering through at our own leisure. Which brings me to more reasons why I liked the set up of this museum. They found windows on board, that would have been used to help with building houses on the frontier, and used them in making exhibits!

 

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And then there were the cases exhibiting the shear number of things that they found, which is quite a feat honestly.

 

hardware.

hardware.

shoes.

shoes.

oh my god. shoes.

oh my god. shoes.

 

Another thing I enjoyed was how artistically they displayed several of their items, which they obviously realized because they took pictures and hung it as art in some of the blank wall space.

 

beads and buttons

beads and buttons

old bottles, some broken

old bottles, some broken

beads.

beads.

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Here are just a few pictures of things I found interesting. The first is a little Frozen Charlotte doll that they found in a toolbox that they found out is based on an old folk ballad about a girl freezing to death in an open sleigh. Here is the wikipedia site for those interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frozen_Charlotte_%28doll%29

 

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as you can see, she is not dressed appropriately for cold weather…

This picture of a box containing a printer is for my mom and her family, because they grew up here:

 

Council Bluffs!

Council Bluffs!

 

I took this next picture because it is a Shakespeare book! Behind it you can see clothes hangers and loads of dishes (there were sooo many!!)

 

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After you are through the smaller hallways and rooms of things, there is one giant room that is a replica of the deck of the Steamboat Arabia. Everything in that room is in the place that it would have been on the original boat! The paddlewheel is off to the side, the anchor at the back, the donkey’s remains also at the back (whomp whomp), the boiler/furnace thing, etc. Another example of how they chose to set up the museum to be a really compelling feature.

 

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sorry for blurriness, it was very dark in there to preserve things.

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the snag that they hit is even in it’s rightful spot!

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(not pictured: the poor donkey)

(not pictured: the poor donkey)

 

And thus endeth your tour of my tour. It was surprisingly the best feature of my birthday, I would highly recommend it! (though try not to go with a field trip, unless you want to remember how it felt back in those days, because it did have that aspect to it)

birthday celebrations!

This winter has taken a huge toll on me, I have turned into a recluse, barely wandering out of my apartment except for necessities.

So when I saw that my birthday would be a balmy seventy degrees, a plan was formed. There are still a thousand places I have yet to explore in KC, so I decided my birthday would be a tourist day. I made a list (an actual list, it’s still on my phone), Jason took off work, and we made a day of it!

First up was breakfast in river market. Beignets were the order of the morning, as I had never tried one. This place does normal beignets, but they also do stuffed ones so I got a Nutella stuffed one as well as a bacon and cheddar stuffed one, both were quite delicious!

 

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We slurped down some chicory coffee with it all and made our way to the second attraction of the day: the Steamboat Arabia museum. I will save that for tomorrow as that needs a post to itself, but for now here is a picture of the steamboat paddlewheel:

 

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Immediately after leaving the museum we went to reserve our tickets for the next Boulevard Brewery tour (they are free) and then sauntered over to YJ’s Snack Bar for a bit of lunch. The place has an interesting vibe, the door was open to let fresh air in, and every inch of the inside was plastered with art, stickers, signs, newspaper clippings, anything they could find. I had the macaroni and cheese, which was a very generous portion for being only $3.50. Unfortunately I did not get a picture as I snarfed it down with no thought to anything but how delicious it was. After eating, we wandered around the area but the store I really wanted to see (it was on my list!) was closed for remodeling so we headed back to Boulevard.

Right before the tour begins you get a pale ale to sit and drink while waiting for everyone to show up and do the first part of the tour. Then you get to walk around their buildings, which are quite impressive. They are full of light, have interesting architecture, and very very clean. Unfortunately, the tour is mostly done by videos they show throughout the tour. The tour guides are nice and helpful, but it’s not a very dynamic tour by any means though I still would recommend it.  However….. the free beer at the end definitely makes up for that. They are testing out new beers and my favorite was the Radler (grapefruit and ginger and beer, oh my!). Plus we got to sit outside and drink, and I saw my first sign of spring’s arrival!!!

 

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pictured: spring.

pictured: spring.

 

After finishing up our beer we went to a couple of stores I had on my list, mostly a local stationery place, Hammerpress, which happened to be having a sale on their discontinued stuff for only $1! So I cleaned that place out, went to a couple of other stores around there, then we decided we needed a bit of caffeine and went to PT’s Coffee for some beautiful and delicious drinks!

 

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At this point it was late in the afternoon so we decided to head home since I was going to Lawrence with the college friends, which was a great way to top off a wonderful day! My birthday actually continued throughout the rest of the weekend, because I really know how to drag out a good thing; but I won’t bore you with the details!