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.

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.

Tips for the Cold

This is my first winter working outside, and while it has been generally more mild than our past winters, it has been difficult for me to get used to since I am usually tucked safely away in my snug office position.

However, working as a meter maid has forced me to figure out who to deal with the cold. I still don’t do it well, but here is what I have learned:

1. Smart wool socks. I cannot rave about these enough. So warm and cozy! They keep you warm even when wet! Seriously, everyone go get a pair right now. Even if you don’t work outside for a living.

2.  Have a good imagination. Or a mediocre one but put it to good use. Freezing cold? Snowy? Wind pushing against you as you trudge along? Simply pretend you are a pioneer, a settler, or explorer. You have to discover that new place! You have to keep walking to provide for your family! What if there was a zombie apocalypse and you had to go find food in the winter? It helps for about a second. But it’s a good second. And when that stops working you….

3. Marvel in the beauty of winter. It truly is beautiful, even though it is miserable.

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4. Stay inside whenever you can and stave off the boredom by taking weird pictures of your cat.

Bowie Monster

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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girl in reverse

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I was interested in this book because I volunteer at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the author, Barbara Stuber, is a docent there and set a good portion of this book in the museum as well.

The story follows a young girl of Chinese descent who was adopted by a white family in the Kansas City area in the 1950s. It coincides with opening of a new exhibit in the Nelson in the Chinese Art section. As the girl fights prejudice from every front, she begins to look to her roots and find out what it means to be Chinese. Unfortunately, the story is a little predictable with her finding a new diverse group of friends, essentially creating a new family. However, the story did end up sucking me in and I was curious how the character would grow.

The main character, Lily, unfortunately follows the trend in young adult fiction currently where the lead female is essentially clueless and extremely insecure. She wanders around the plot completely unaware that the potential love interest is obviously into her and runs away from every situation convinced that the nice thing the person is saying is actually an insult. However, unlike other young adult fiction, the weak main character usually stays that way whereas this character did learn to stand up for what she wanted and learn to accept when people genuinely liked her.

I thought the most interesting aspect was the relationship, or lack thereof, with her adoptive parents. The parents tend to pretend everything is perfect, as I think was probably the case with most people in that era, and try to not see that their daughter is going through a huge change in her life. I would have like more resolution in that area. Lily ends up finding other people to identify with, and other than a brief conversation of understanding, she doesn’t seem to close the distance at all between herself and her parents.

Despite the somewhat predictability of the plot and the choppiness in the dialogue, I enjoyed this book. It was an interesting perspective and I enjoyed being able to identify the different Kansas City landmarks in it. Stuber does manage to move the plot along evenly, making for a quick read which helps guide your imagination to think of a different way of life, in a different time, yet in all the same places that I am in everyday.

wild: from lost to found on the pacific coast trail

Recently all I want to do is be outside. See trees. Trees are a big part of this ambition. Not just see a lot of trees, but be in a forest of mythical proportions.

This is not something I can accomplish right at this very moment, so I decided to read about it.

Wild is a memoir of Cheryl Strayed’s journey on the Pacific Coast Trail. She takes off on an epic adventure completely alone and wholly unprepared. It was the perfect book to read since it’s something I would want to do, but I am also unprepared and unwilling to put myself through the hardships. This book was like a too realistic daydream that didn’t skip out on the not fun parts.

Strayed is a vivid writer and doesn’t shy away from delving into some of the darkest parts of herself. There are no justifications; she admits to being dangerously unprepared, a selfish person, an adulteress, with an addictive personality. Her plan is to make herself a better person by hiking this trail, something everyone can identify with, but her time on the trail turns out to be less reflective and insightful and more about pain, deprivation, and, surprisingly, friendships with strangers.

While someone might find Strayed’s flighty personality and bad decisions to make for an annoying read, I enjoyed her straightforwardness. She does a wonderful job of grasping the emotion of a situation, so much so that I started crying on a crowded plan over a flashback about her mother’s horse. I don’t cry over books and movies.

Her flashbacks are emotional but her time on the trail is physical. Strayed describes the intricacies of hiking a trail as if you, the reader, are using her book to learn how to live on a trail. However, she doesn’t just tell you how she does things; her book tells the hardships one would face on the trail in gruesome detail. I’ll just say this: she lost six toenails. And she tells you about each time one goes. Nothing gets left out.

While her book is not a quick read, it is an interesting one. Detailed, descriptive, and utterly truthful, you feel as if you are prepared to go on your own adventure after reading (because really, just don’t do anything she did and things have to go just fine, right?).

tales of the meter maid

It has been one week in the new job. It has been interesting, I get to carry a giant radio and ticketer and I have to carry a flashlight which I hold like a cop because it feels cooler. We use codes into the radio, and everyone has a badge number. We also use those alpha codes for license plates which I had to learn.

So far, it is a lot of walking, which is great, but is also tiring. My legs hurt.

 

Today was my first day out walking around by myself. I walk around one offending vehicle, fill out the form, print the ticket, take the picture (we take pictures so when people say “I had a parking pass!” you can show the picture of them not having it), and start placing the ticket on the windshield when I realize there is only one windshield wiper, so I walk to the other side and place the ticket. Suddenly I hear a person say, “HEY ! ! We just parked here!” and out of the backseat a person appears!

They had been in the car, watching me go around it, take pictures, and did not even alert me to their presence until I placed the ticket on the car. I don’t know what was going through their mind, but they then tried to convince me that they didn’t need a ticket. I stuck my ground. I’m tough now.