Kansas City has become a rich stew of flavorful local artists but when we visited Art Westport a few years ago, we found it, well, a bit bland. Last night, though, we sampled the various art from local artists and found it quite tasty. The funky Westport area was alive with artists’ booths full of photography that makes you want to travel the world, crafted jewelry that makes you want to blow your paycheck in one night and paintings that are so varied, I couldn’t begin to describe them. Here’s just a brief sampling:

(Photography by Karen Geisler of Photographic Escapes)

(Work from artist Nyle Gordon)

(Jewelry by Michelle Babcock of Michelle’s Enamels)

Then we ate a late dinner at the Beer Kitchen, where we split a Reuben sandwich that a reviewer on Yelp.com said was “the best reuben you will ever eat. Period.” It was pretty darned tasty. We also split a “build-your-own mac and cheese” that we topped with burnt ends and bacon. It was so bad for ‘ya that it was GOOD. This place had over 200 reviews on Yelp — I know, 200! I don’t even like beer but this place is great. I did have a blackberry pear cider, though, and I liked it — a lot.

So, if you head over there today during this gorgeous weather, you can catch Art Westport on its last day. If you don’t make it this year, be sure to mark your calendar for next September. It was a winner.

 

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5 Clever Ideas to Make Life Easier

by Cathy on September 5, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas

I don’t know about you, but I’m all about saving time/money or just generally simplifying life. This makes more room for the good stuff by streamlining the “must do” stuff. Here are five clever ideas I found around the web to do just that.

1. Eliminate sticky residue on an iron by running an iron over paper (no steam) sprinkled with salt. (Source and photo: RealSimple.com)

2. Bread tags make the perfect labeled cord holders. (Source and photo from TheDailyBuzz.com/au)

3. A non-toxic solution to kill and prevent spiders: Take one cup of vingar, one cup of pepper, a teaspoon of oil and liquid soap. Put the ingredients into a spray bottle and spray along the outside of your outside door and along windows. (Source and photo: CutoutandKeep.net)

4. Round up some tension rods, stagger them in a closet and you have an instant and inexpensive shoe rack. (Source and photo: ArielVenereal.com)

5. Store bed linens in their pillowcases. (Source and photo from TheDailyBuzz.com/au)

 

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So, the kids are off at college, we are buying tickets for football games, and the weather is unseasonably cool. (I know, I’m delusional: this cool weather won’t last since it IS August in Kansas City!) But play along with me here — I think it’s time to start wearing our fall clothes!

Here are some cute ideas I found on Polyvore. They are also posted on my Pinterest page “Fall Fashion 2012.”

country in the sun
Chambray, Orange and Navy
Black, Camel, and Turquoise
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I hate to confess this since I work in the marketing/social media profession but I am a bit late to the Google+ party. Frankly, I just didn’t see the value of joining and contributing to one more social media channel. That was before I started exploring Google+. My conclusion? Google+ is definitely worth my time. Here’s why.

  1. Google+ is similar to Skype but better. Google+ hangouts are video conferences in which up to nine people can participate but countless people can watch. It also automatically records the video chat. Literally millions of people could watch … all at no cost. Think of the potential for your business or organization — perhaps a live webinar?
  2. Google+ allows you to connect with the community you build (both people you know and people you follow) through circles. You can have a circle for friends, family, acquaintances, people you follow, and (most importantly) people with a common interest. Perhaps you love photography, some of your friends love photography, and you would love to connect with some professional photographers. Build a circle called “Photography” then simply add the people you want to be in that circle. You can then follow all their posts, photos, reviews … whatever they put on their Google+ page.
  3. Google+ is  a channel through which you can both post and search for reviews for restaurants, retail stores, local events, and more. Granted, Yelp and Urbanspoon also provides a channel for reviews but Google+ offers this and so much more.
  4. Google+ is here to stay. How do I know that? This is a Google product, folks. As social media guru Guy Kawasaki notes, “Google owns the river of search.” Google and its products are not going away any time soon. The company has too much skin in the (social media and search) game to just pull the plug.

So, jump into the Google+ pool! The water is fine! For the full story on Google+, check out Guy Kawasaki’s new book, What the Plus.

Leave a comment and tell me why you like Google+ or why you still haven’t jumped into the Google+ pool. I’d love to hear your ideas. Thanks!

 

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He asked and she said yes

by Cathy on June 26, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas,Style

So, there was a little excitement around our household this weekend! (Photos and story courtesy of Classy and Fab Girl) … Here’s our daughter Lauren’s  story:

So I thought this past weekend was going to be quiet and uneventful but boy was I wrong. I was completely surprised and ecstatic when Mike asked me to marry him this past Saturday night. You would think after seven years of dating I would have seen it coming but I was still totally surprised. Here is a glimpse of the big night.

Thankfully my family showed up a little after it happened to take pictures. It was an amazing weekend full of great memories with great family and friends. I am so happy to have the support of all the people I love. I am excited to spend the rest of my life with the best guy I know. And after seven years its about dang time!

So here goes the journey of planning a wedding and I will definitely be using my blog to keep track of all my thoughts and ideas, as well as wanting some feedback from you. Let the wedding planning begin! (“Yikes,” said the bride’s mother! That would be me!)

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One of the perks of blogging is the occasional invite to fun events around town. Rainy Day Books, a (wonderful) independent KC bookseller, invited my family of bloggers to hear Food Network Star Rachel Ray tell us all about her new cookbook, the Book of Burger. Rachel did far more than share about burgers — she is a great storyteller!

We learned about her cooking roots at the family restaurant in Cape Cod … about her early years running the fresh food department at Macy’s that led to the 30-Minute Meals Cooking Classes, which led to the 30-Minute Meals Cookbook, which led to a TV and cookbook empire … you get the idea.

Her Book of Burger is a collection of 200 burger recipes, plus 100 sides, sandwiches and “messies.” The book includes her famous friends’ essays on burgers they have loved. The cookbook even has QR codes in the book. Scan the code and the smart book takes you to a web site with more recipes. Gotta love the gal who said, “Having a rich life does not mean having a rich bank account.”

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Best Bike Trail in Kansas City?

by Cathy on June 3, 2012 · 3 comments

in Travel

So our last child is going to college. You would think this is mid-life crisis time but neither one of us wants to buy the red convertible. We bought a different kind of ride — bikes! We are now on a quest to explore the Midwest (U.S.?) on two wheels. We live in the southern part of the city that has countless wooded, paved trails. I love being outdoors but I’ve got to admit that an urban ride is a lot more interesting. Here is where we went.

1. We rode on the Trolley Track Trail, the site of the last streetcar line in Kansas City. We parked in a lot outside The Well in the Waldo area — we were one of several cars with bike racks — and picked up the trail there. The next time we do this trail, we will probably start in Brookside because we had to contend with a few busy streets to cross from Waldo into Brookside.

2. The trail drops off and picks up just past the shops in Brookside. This is where the trail is particularly lovely. We drove past lovely stone churches, through old city parks and past bungalow, cottage-type homes in Brookside. (Did I mention that I would love to live in Brookside?)

3. From Brookside, we drove past the edge of the UMKC Campus and on down to the Plaza. The Plaza section of the trail runs along Brush Creek. The view is lovely but the cleanliness of the water? Not so much. (That’s my bike companion, also known as husband, in the photo.)

4. We traveled along Brush Creek, then turned around and went up the hill to the Plaza Library, where we locked up the bikes. Then we ate lunch outdoors at The Mixx, a great restaurant across the parking lot. I had the Garden of Eden salad with chicken, cranberries, (hold the Gorgonzola cheese) with a champagne vinaigrette and a whole-grain roll. Amazing! Wish we could have taken the leftovers home on the bike.

5. Then we spent time in the Plaza Library cooling off. In addition to an amazing view of the Plaza, the library has some fascinating exhibits. One was a photo exhibit of the architectural firm, Hare and Hare, that designed much of Kansas City … the Country Club Plaza, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s original building, much of the Sunset Hill Neighborhood … and on and on.

6. From there we headed back to Brookside and stopped for iced coffee at the Roasterie. From there, we headed back.

For a list of other great bike trails in the KC area, visit Trails/KCBike.Info or just keep following our blog. We plan to cover them all so stay tuned — and I promise to take more photos.

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Just working on my abs ...

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Easy Graduation Party Idea

by Cathy on May 20, 2012 · 2 comments

in Food,Ideas

I’m not sure how it is where you live but in my hometown, high school graduation can be a bit over the top. This past month has been an endless stream of awards banquets, senior picture photo sessions (Can you say “expensive”?) events, ceremonies … and then we have the graduation parties. I, however, am not an over-the-top gal. I’m all about family, friends, warm memories. I’m not out to impress anyone. This girl just wants to have fun. So for my daughter’s graduation party last weekend, we did our own thing and it WAS fun.

We hosted a dessert and champagne/sparkling cider open-house at our home with two other families. It was much simpler than providing a whole meal, was very casual, and filled with great conversations and laughter. I saw people who were dear to me but didn’t know each other before the night engaged in lengthy conversations. A lot of people came but it was very relaxed. Best of all, my daughter was blessed. So if you haven’t planned your child’s graduation party yet, go easy on yourself. And did our guests have fun? All I know is that most of them spent the entire evening at our house.

Here is a look at our table decor and links to some of some of the dessert recipes. (I’m guessing on some of the recipes since the other families also baked.) My daughter added some fun touches, such as the mason jars tied with ribbon that held the silverware and the chocolate-dipped pretzel rods. She is both girly and artsy so the pink with black/white color scheme suited her perfectly.

Cake Pops
Lemon Bars (a mix)
Oreo Truffles
Cookie Dough Dip with Graham Crackers
Chocolate Cupcakes (a mix) with Buttercream Frosting
Easy Pretzel Buttons
Plus Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries and Pretzel Rods

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My friend, Nilla Childs, comes from a long line of diary keepers. In fact, her grandmother, Dorothy, kept a diary for nearly 50 years. Nilla’s own diary entries about her son, Daniel, helped unlock the puzzle that had kept Daniel’s life scattered in pieces. Daniel was extremely bright, gifted in fact. Sure he had his quirks and his challenges connecting with others, but those issues somehow didn’t hold Daniel back. Until the day they did. Daniel moved away from home and went to college. His orderly world fell apart.

Nilla’s well-crafted book, Puzzled, documents her journey to solve the puzzle called Daniel, who was diagnosed with autism at age 23. Her book doesn’t follow a chronological flow. Instead, it mimics the scattered pieces of Daniel’s life, going back and forth in time. Each short chapter shares her wise observations, experiences and her mother’s heart. Daniel’s remembrance of the same event follows each of Nilla’s chapters.

Puzzled is not a neat, tidy “they lived happily ever after” book. Instead, it chronicles the ups of downs of real life with grace, love, humor and wit. Whether or not your child struggles with autism, you will be blessed by this charming and gritty chronicle.

Excerpt from Puzzled: 100 Pieces of Autism

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