hometown goodness

{ happy thoughts }

We spent last night and this morning following severe weather developments in our area, and I'm tired of it already.  It's scary and overwhelming, yes, but I have to think about other things or I'll go nuts.

Like... that my heart is filled joy at the outpouring of assistance and good will that Joplin is receiving in the wake of such a disaster.  And that my kitchen -- which is not done, but is close... so very close -- is mostly usable again. So I can get back in there and cook.  I've missed real food.

Last night we made Martha Stewart's Broiled Sweet and Spicy Salmon with Pineapple (thank you, Grace, for tipping me off last week.  I couldn't take it one more day without trying it).  Anything that starts with 'mix maple syrup and cayenne pepper' will get a try in my book.  It was delicious. My husband, who doesn't necessarily like to eat pineapple, liked the spicy broiled chunks of glazed fruit.   Yum...

caprese salad

The other thing that I make a lot around here is a simple caprese salad.  I'm not sure when I started doing this, but it is one of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes. Today I used some that I'd picked up extra ripe from the farmer's market and ate it over a toasted bagel.  Anything crunchy would work.  Or on it's own with a spoon.  Whatever you prefer.

I like to use all different kinds of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.  I drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add ground pepper and a pinch of ground sea salt and then... well, then I gobble it up. 

market peonies

Our small town Wednesday morning farmer's market doesn't have many stands yet, but I was also able to pick up two quarts of fresh ripe strawberries and a fistful of peonies for a song.  I cannot tell you how much these luscious pink feathery flowers have brightened my day.  :) 

We're still under a tornado watch for the rest of the evening... but I'm not going to dwell on that today.  cheers!

xoxo


{local love: food } natashas

Sometimes you just need something sweet.

Sometimes you just want to treat the kiddos with something little and special.

Sometimes it could just be about the pretty.

natasha's mulberry and motts

It could be all of the above.

With friends to boot.

The little girls and I joined Stacy (mamasdoodles) and her kiddos last week for a little park picnic and playground romping.  Stacy and I met two and a half years ago, connecting through blogland.  They are moving to Denver soon and we will miss them so very much!

I am selfishly hoping it takes a long time to sell their house.  

Sad, but true. 

still feasting my eyes.

Anyway, we surprised the littles with a trip to a local pastry shop.  It's got all sorts of special treats.  But really, it is So. Much. More.

Natasha's Mulberry & Mott, in Leawood, KS, is a perfect of example of how the smallest details can transform a place from run-of-the-mill to extraordinary. 

Where do you think this shop is?

How old is the building?

What does it feel like in there?  Do the floors creak?

even the ceiling looks like it tastes good.

Surprise!  It is located in a very new upscale shopping plaza.  What they have done with trim and paint and ceiling tiles and the finished cement floor create such a memorable experience.  It's quaint.  It's pretty and delicate.  It makes you oooh and aaaah and point and giggle and stare and take pictures. 

goodies

I think it could be impossible to walk in and be anything but happy and relaxed and delighted. 

we could call this 'Before'

But if you do take four little kids and they are drinking from filled-to-the-brim cups of milk, it is possible to leave a little ... embarrassed. 

And, this would be 'After'

Ha!  The shopkeepers were very sweet.  It happens all the time, they said.  I'm sure.    

Oh well!  We came.  We ate sweet treats.

We wrestled.

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What more could you want?

xo

miss chris

ps:  Stacy, we are going to miss you guys and our fun outings.  Best of luck with the home search and sale and all the rest.  Denver is so very lucky.


{ home } eventually, I'll do a nursery post

Like, before she's one?  We'll see.  Problem is, my free time tends to happen when little missy is asleep in there.  Anyway, here's another peek at that sweet little green dress her mama made her wear the other day.  Poor thing.

It looks much more Swiss Miss than Irish to me, but I still love it.

nursery + green dress

Those little red shoes were a baby gift from my dear friend Jen. (ages ago.) 

The print is a signed Elsie original from the bricks and mortar shop of Red Velvet Art.  I love this shop for so many reasons.  The stuff is cute cute cute.  They are living the dream of owning a little shop in a cool old building in a refurbished old part of town by the railroad tracks.  In the town I went to high school.  (The same high school, I have to mention because it is almost a rule, that Brad Pitt and Lucas Grabeel went to.)  I know, big times. Anyway, Elsie and the girls are just adorable.  Just go check them out if you haven't already...

Of course, they are going to make the rest of my post seem boring and predictable.

The dress?  It had little red vintage buttons you couldn't see in the photo on Wednesday.  I am almost 100% sure these were from my mom's stash I inherited when they moved last year.

vintage buttons too

This was the perfect little project for the thrifted eyelet trim (a yard or less) that I've had forever.  I had forgotten about it.  Now I want to add it to everything.

+ trim

Not pictured in the top photo is this pretty mobile I bought - new, even!  GASP - from an art shop in Columbia, MO, called Bluestem Missouri Crafts.  It is a wonderful store.  And it's local, which always makes me happy. 

Love mobile in the nursery

I love love love it.

:)

Happy weekending.  I am working on some shop stuff and need to get my head around some new ideas.  I'm so inspired these days and I need to prioritize my plans.  Right now I'm a crazy woman.  A fun, happy crazy woman.  But crazy, nonetheless.  (you'll love me anyway, right?)

xoxo


Fall at the Kansas City Zoo

On Sunday, we piled into the station wagon (my little sister finds infinite joy in poking fun at my ultimate mom-mobile, so I like to refer to it by name much as possible.  Because I totally rock the Station Wagon, sis.) and took advantage of yet another perfect Autumn day.  The animals were out, lazing about in the sun, enjoying the cooler temperatures.  It was so beautiful.  And we had it mostly to ourselves.

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We are lucky to have such a large zoo that winds its way through wooded areas, around ponds and lakes, over both a river and train tracks.

sunny tall grass

leaves in the creek

The color is brilliant right now.  These trees didn't even look real to me.

fall color at the zoo 

And this little path by the baboons was strewn with leaves of every color and shape.  (Hmm... little wonder my allergies are acting up this week, huh?)

leafy paths.

The zoo doesn't always seem like a go-to outing for us in the fall.  But I'm so glad we did. 

Tomorrow: Bacon and Black Bean Soup.  Be warned.  It's soup, but it's bacon. Smells delish, but men come running.  You might save a little and dab it behind your ears.


Fields of sunshine

Every morning, Fidget and I drive to preschool.  she likes to take the 'tree tunnel' roads, which she has named for the places at which the trees meet up overhead and the sun filters through the leaves.  This is the one we usually take, because it is the one that goes by the horses.  The 'tunnel' part is up ahead, and very pretty, but didn't have a good place to pull over.

morning drive.

Instead, there is a great view of soybean fields.  We have lots of them out where we live.  The Mormon church owns hundreds of acres out here and has steadfastly refused to think of selling the land for at least another 15 years.  So, even though parts of town are becoming over-developed for my taste, we have a pretty good feeling this part of town will stay as-is for some time.    

soyfields in the morning.

Most of the land is leased out to farmers to work the fields.  Wheat, corn, soybeans, whatever.  It is fascinating to watch it happen over the summer.  

But the soybeans amaze me.  During the summer -- even in the hottest months -- they are a deep green field of short lush leafy stalks pressed closely together.  And then, suddenly, in October this happens.   Most of the beans grown in these parts are not grown for eating, but for manufacturing, so they let the beans dry out before bringing the combine in to harvest.  But instead of looking dry and dull like the corn does, across the way, the soybean fields glow.  The leaves must be so thin that they pick up the sunlight or something.  Whatever it is, it's beautiful.

Soy

Photos don't really do them justice.  In the morning when we drive to school, the sun is still low enough that there is a surreal quality to them.  

I've always loved October in Missouri.  The weather is gorgeous and perfect right up to Halloween night, when it magically drops 10 degrees and everyone has to figure out how to work winter coats into their costumes...The sky is bluer than it is any other time of year.  Color comes out in the trees and the fields.  Calves play alongside their mommas in the pastures.  The food tastes better somehow.  And the soybean fields put on a show. 

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I've been quilting, but it's a gift for someone who will peek.... and I have a little shirt in progress for Fidge... and some fun thrifting finds from last week... hopefully the computer gods will have mercy on me and let me back into my groove.... I've missed you guys. 


Berry berry good stuff.

strawberries

On Wednesday mornings in old downtown, right across from the Methodist church and next to the elementary school playground, is tiniest farmers' market.  Could be so tiny because it's still early in the season.  Or because it is Wednesday, and Saturdays offer bigger crowds.  Or maybe because there are several other markets around the metro area and our neck of the woods isn't known as a hotbed of activity.  Today it was even tinier because of all the carnival rides and trailers sharing the lot, in preparation for the our city's Downtown Days street festival this weekend. 

No matter.  It also means you get your shopping done real quick.  A quart of red, juicy strawberries, a dozen fresh eggs, some organic tomatoes, a bag of cinnamon pecans (oh dear), Amish granola and a cream cheese pound cake made their way into my bag in all of 15 minutes.  Yummy.  Chatted it up with a couple of the old farmers, hanging around the tents like flies while the wives took the money.  You boys stay out of trouble, you hear?  The oldest one winked at me and said, "Well, we'll try.  But I ain't promising nothing." 

Local strawberries, though.  Is there anything else so wonderful?  The chain stores out here in the Midwest buy most of their strawberries from far, far away.  California, mostly.  Which means the berries are hardly red when they are put on the truck.  And by the time they get here and on our grocers' shelves, they are redder, but not sweet at all.  They are huge, bakers strawberries... with no flavor. 

When I lived in Southern California, one of my favorite things to do was to buy a flat -- not a pint, a FLAT -- of large baker's strawberries, too ripe for grocery stores or shipping cross-country, from the little farmer stands that popped up here and there, along freeway exits and on canyon roads. A flat for, like, $7.  Those strawberries.  Heavens to Betsy.  Huge and red all the way through.  Nothing -- nothing compared to them.  I'd slice up enough to fill a bowl and eat them for every meal, sitting cross-legged with the bowl in my lap.  I don't miss much about the Southland, but I do miss the darned near perfect weather and those strawberries.

The ones I picked up today are delicious.  Small, but so sweet and juicy.  Enough to stain your fingers.  No need for sugar, honey, just pop 'em in your mouth.  I'm doing my best to stay away, because I'm fairly sure they are going to taste fantastic on that cream cheese pound cake with double churned ice cream after dinner tonight.  Yum. 

And why didn't I buy 2 quarts?


I love Kansas City.

Last Thursday I took my eldest out of school early for a mother-daughter day at the plaza for lunch and a matinee.  I had surprised her with Wicked tickets for her birthday last month.  (I saw it on Broadway a couple years back with the original cast {WOW}.  Really couldn't wait to see it again.)

So we started the day off at the Cheesecake Factory on the Plaza for lunch. (Chinese Chicken Salad, YUM)

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How I love the Plaza. It was the nation's first suburban shopping district.  And it's just gorgeous.  It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite things about Kansas City.  At Christmas there are millions of lights tracing every nook and cranny of the spectacular architecture.  Like out of a fairy tale.  Not bad for a town that most people associate with corn fields, tornados and ruby slippers. 

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Oh yes, the ruby slippers.  How was Wicked?  Magical.  :)  The music always gets me.  When the Glinda and Elpheba sing 'Because I Knew You' at the end, I cry.  It's really that good. 

I snuck the photo of the theatre and got scolded.  But I got it.  Ha.

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It's a dark story, but the musical adaptation is much lighter than the book.  Laced with political and social allegory, Wicked is a sharp commentary that most children won't understand, but the musical numbers are nonstop and delightful.  My daughter is 12 and we talked a bit about it afterward.  I don't know how much of 'it' she 'got', but she definitely 'got' some parts. When we saw it in New York, my husband really didn't expect to enjoy a musical.  And he was blown away by the show.  I could go on and on about the brilliant writing... lines so carefully and artfully crafted... Ack.  Love it.  So yes, see it if you can!

(FWIW: The tour's Glinda, Katie Rose Clarke, is totally different than Kristen Chenoweth's Broadway character.  This one is more like a cross between SNL's Mary Katherine Gallagher skit played by Amy Poehler.  Strange.  Funny, but strange.  KC wasn't nearly as spastic.  If you're curious about the characters, there is an interesting video on the official website.  Choose 'characters' -- the interviews are not from the touring group, but you definitely get a feel for who the characters are.)

Also, I got my Vintage Apron Swap package from Julie yesterday.  Sweet Cracker Sandwiches!  That girl knows how to make a girl feel special.  Photos forthcoming.  Fidget wanted to wear my new-to-me pretty PINK (geez, hon, how'd ya know?) vintage apron as a dress last night.  So it was tricky to get a decent shot. 

Happy Thursday!  :)


slow down slow down slow down!

driving by another farm

Twenty five minutes south of downtown Kansas City. 

I am so lucky to live here.  This is the stuff I see every morning.   Like, on the way to the store.  And preschool.  And the orthodontist's office.  And I think to myself, one of these days I'm going to just park at one end of this long road and walk the whole thing with my camera and take some wonderful shots.  Because some day this will all be built up with subdivisions and no trees and no fences and no horses and we will talk about how these used to be horses and barns and fences and huge pastures and....

Well, I haven't done that yet.  We went to the KC zoo yesterday and on the way I snapped these from behind the glass windows of the car.  And even though the conditions were sub-prime, you get the idea.  In this country of suburbs and urban chaos and traffic and 4 lane highways, there is still a lot of this.

And me, with my camera pressed to my face, asking telling hubs in the most patient voice to slowdownslowdownslowdownslowdownslowdown! 

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We're headed out of town at the end of this week for an annual trip to Arizona.  Which also means there is just a ton of work to do before I go.  Office work, house work, and stuff that should have gotten done weeks ago, but must now get done because family is coming to stay with the kids so we can go play.

Hopefully the planets will align and I will get It all done before Thursday.  If not, that sound you might hear in the background is just me, in my most patient voice, asking the world to slow down

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Here's to a good and very productive week.  :)


Tulips and Lemons

the door to st paul's

This is the door to the church in Old Downtown that I pass every day.   Monday morning I had noticed the tulips had bloomed, all full and bright and flirty.  So yesterday I made sure to bring my trusty camera on the way to preschool, praying that the previous night's crazy storms hadn't beaten those pretty tulips to a pulp.   As you can see, they did just fine.   Better than fine, really.  The rain made everything dewy and lush.

Sometimes I think about the crazy storms in my life, when I wasn't sure if I would be happy again.  Mostly, the time I spent as a single mom after my divorce. Standing before a judge and wetting myself, scared, knowing someone else had control over my life with my daughter; shaking and burning up inside, alone, 1700 miles away from my family.  Dropping my grocery bag, sending the milk and eggs across my driveway -- and not knowing how I was going to feed my kid now since I had just used my last $6 until payday and the support checks didn't come.  Coming to terms that a full-time working single-mom didn't have time to date and I wasn't probably ever going to marry again.  Or have more kids.  Or anything. Hiding in my laundry room, crying, ashamed of my depression and not wanting my little girl to see mommy so sad.  It broke me down, those years. 

There are several years of my life I keep tucked safely away... pretty much the year leading up to my divorce to the day I was granted the Court's permission to move home to the Midwest with my daughter.  Almost 7 years, total.  And there are several details I don't ever want my daughter to read, so I can't post them here. 

But today?  Ten years later?   I am doing just fine, too.  Better than fine.  Life is sweet.  The tears are happy ones.  And I'm stronger and thankful and hell-bent on enjoying every minute.  Had I not married in haste the first time, I might not have ended up marrying the love of my life. 

(In fact, had Dwayne T. not asked me go to prom with him, thus preventing me from accepting Mr Pink's invitation 18 years ago, I might not be married now, either.  Because we might have ended up dating then... and breaking up...and not marrying later after we'd 'growed up' a bit.  Life has a funny way of working out.)  And if you could follow *that* despite the careless pronouns and conditional phrasing, wow.

I never thought I'd look back on my Past (complete with stacks of scary legal documentation) and think I'm a lucky gal.  But I am.  Today is that much sweeter for it.

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I didn't mean for this to be a lemonade from lemons kind of post, but it is.  Alison tagged for one over the weekend and lookee what happened.  I'm not good at tagging people for memes, but I like this one. I'm supposed to tag 6, but cut it short at 3.  So Rachel, Jade, & Lori, consider yourself tagged.  You're welcome.  ;)

* Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.
* Link back to person who tagged you.
* Write about an incident in your life you first thought was really bad, but ended up being a blessing.
* Tag six ( I only did 3) random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
* Let each person you tagged know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.


Lasting impression

There is a vacant old barn that I pass every morning on my way into town.

the  barn

Just last summer there were cattle on the property.  Cows are nice to see on a daily basis.  I love looking out into a pasture for the babies.  When you're really lucky, you can see them playing.  Those little calves are frisky. 

A big developer owns this land now and it is zoned for both residential and commericial.  It won't be long before this old barn is torn down to make room for townhomes and drive-through coffee shops.  *sigh* 

We had winds of up to 60 miles an hour here yesterday. 

That old barn didn't budge. 

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I think it's beautiful.