Lawrence

Too many pictures of sunflowers.

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Like everyone else who lives anywhere close to me, I went out to see the big field of sunflowers this weekend.

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 I hadn't really planned to go that day and I was wearing a skirt. It wasn't a big deal, but I didn't go as far into the field as I would have in pants. 

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It was still plenty far enough to be enjoy being surrounded by a sea of sunflowers, most of them taller than I am.

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There were a lot of bees. Almost as many bees as flowers. Go bees! And just like my mom always promised, I didn't bother them and they didn't bother me.

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Backyard Snow

Snowmagedon 2 is on the way, and so it seems a good time to show you some photos of my back yard from Snowmagedon 1. Call it making the best of a bad situation.

First, a movie of the snow. Winter makes my brain hurt, so I got the date wrong on the title. Woops.

 

 

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I have to admit, I'm still seriously hoping they're wrong about this storm and I'll wake up in the morning to 2.5 inches instead of the 10 to 12 they're promising.


Birthday Dining Report

When some Disney obsessed fanatics like myself get home from a trip to the parks, one of the things they do is write a Dining Report. They talk about where they ate and what they ate, and they often show pictures of their plates full of Disney food. I haven't written one yet (although I am considering making a Better Late Than Never report from my last trip), but love reading them and fully intend to write a great one when I get back from our trip this December.

In the midst of celebrating my birthday this year, I realized I was doing a lot of eating out. I thought it would be a fun idea to make a dining report of my birthday celebrations, and here it is.

Birthday Dining Report, 2012

My first birthday date was with the eternal BFF on Friday. We decided to return to El Potro, my favorite restaurant in town. I didn't take any pictures of this evening. I don't know why I always forget to take pictures when i'm with Deb. Maybe because we're too busy talking. Maybe because I think she hates having her picture taken.

I did take a picture of the temperature sign outside the bank on the way there though. It was crazy hot.

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it can't really be 108?!

If you've been reading this blog long, you've probably seen pictures of their food before however, and this time it tasted just the same. Oh, and you'll see more in this very report, near the end.

The first time I tried El Potro was with Deb. I think someone else was with us as well. It may have been Hannah but i kind of think it was Alan. It's somewhat new, on 31st street between Kasold and Iowa. It's next to Sonic in the building that used to House Backyard Burgers.

This restaurant kicks ass.
I've read a lot of mediocre reviews of this place and some of them have valid points. It is a bit noisy, and they don't play any music so there's nothing to drown things out. The menu is huge, but since I always get the same thing it's always good. Maybe some of the dishes aren't as tasty.

Of course they bring you chips and salsa. The chips are light and crunchy. The sauce isn't the best in town, but it's not bad and you can occasionally notice a taste of cilantro. They give each person their own little bowl, and they bring a bowl of white cheese sauce for the table. I am not really a big fan of cheese dip, but I mix a tiny little bit into my sauce and that's pretty good.

I got the El Vaquero Tacos, which I always get. It's 3 tacos in soft corn tortillas filled with chicken, chorizo and a slice of avocado. Oh my goodness it's delicious. It comes with your choice of black, refried or barrachos beans and some mediocre seasoned rice with vegetables in it. The serving size is pretty big, even without the rice and beans it was more than enough.

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Sunday I went to lunch at Free State Brewery with a couple of friends I went to Ottawa University with, way back in the 80s. Kevin and Michele were some of my best friends there. They met and fell in love while we were students, and several years later I went to their wedding. All these years later they are still married, and in fact seem happier than ever. Keven let me know that was because he had finally grown up, stopped being stupid, and realized Michele was always right. He said he knows now the key to being happy is to make sure Michele is happy. Go Kevin. You may remember last summer Michele took me to see Styx at Starlight for my birthday.

 

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kevin and michele at free state

Kevin and Michele ordered some delicious bruschetta for appetizers; Smoked Salmon and Peach Brie. I skipped the salmon of course ("nothing from the sea"), but the peach and brie bruschetta was amazing. Peaches and onions and brie and basalmic vinegar. Oh my. I kept thinking about if for days. I still want some now.

I tried a Brewery Burger for lunch, substituting their amazing onion rings for fries. I thought I remembered this burger being really tasty, but this time not so much. The texture of the meat was way too smooth, and I wasn't sure it was all beef. There was only lettuce and a pickle to dress it up, no onion or tomato so it was really kind of sad little burger. The onion rings were amazing. We had to wait quite a while for the side of ranch I asked for when we ordered. Kevin was on his way to get up and ask for it when the waiter came by with it. I was glad to have it because I ended up only eating half the burger and filling up on the tasty rings.

We walked around downtown after that but eventually I needed to head back to the homestead. It started with the lightening and thunder. I was worried because it was so hot I had left my car's windows down, but I still decided to rush into Java Break for an iced White Cow since my car was conveniently right next to the coffee shop.

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Sunday I met my girl Jen at Zen Zero for a very early dinner ("old lady dinner" Jen called it). When Zen Zero is not out of long beans, I usually get the Asian Long Beans; with onions, ginger, and mushrooms in a hoisin sauce. That night, however, there was an asparagus stir fry on the specials board and I decided to try it. It was pretty good, but I wasn't entirely in love with the sauce. I saved about half of it and an entire strip of chicken to eat later, but then I ended up leaving it all in Jen's fridge, where it may or may not still be today.

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our table when we were done

We stayed a long time talking and no one there tried to rush us out or acted annoyed. That was good. Then we hung out at her pad where all kinds of things happened. It was a great time.

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me and jen, just before it turned into my birthday

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Tuesday was my actual birthday.
Alan came over in the afternoon and when I couldn't think of where I'd like to lunch, he suggested Wheatfields, which was perfect.

Alan had the Roasted Chicken Breast sandwich with some veg on a baguette. He liked it just fine. I had my most favorite #9. Turkey & Cranberry Relish "Turkey breast roasted daily, accented with garden greens, fresh mayonnaise on Walnut Sage bread". I'm telling you that bread is magnificent, but every part of it was good. Turkey, mayo, lettuce, cranberries too. It was supremely delicious and I was so glad he had suggested it.

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incredibly good sandwich

We walked around downtown for a bit after that and decided to stop in at Silas & Maddy's for some home made birthday ice cream in a home made waffle cone. That's hard to beat. I had something called Rock Chocolate Jayhawk. Here's a look:

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i love a waffle cone soaked with ice cream

When it came to dinner ideas, I was out again. I asked Alan to decide that too, since he'd done such a great job with lunch. He suggested we try Genovese. It's run buy a guy who runs some other Lawrence restaurants I dig (notably Zen Zero, previously mentioned), and it's Italian so it seemed like an brilliant choice.

It's in a huge space downtown. It's split up so there are 3 floors without ceilings, which is nice and open and airy. But that combined with the stone walls makes it one noisy place to eat. At first we were seated on the enclosed patio, but it was crazy loud out there so we asked to move. It wasn't very full so that was no problem. Even at our new table it wasn't exactly cozy or private or romantic. I could hear just about every conversation around us clearly. Alan had to keep asking me to speak up because he couldn't hear me, but I didn't really want to shout and have everyone know my business. So that was frustrating and certainly detracted from the feeling of the evening.

The food was great though. My favorite part was our appetizer. Fried baby artichoke with shaved parmesan and a lemon caper aioli. They were super yum. I want them all the time.

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appetizers are often my favorite part of a meal

I enjoyed the peach bruschetta so much at Free State the other day I decided to try to pear pizza. Pizza Bianca it's called, with grilled pears, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, gorgonzola and truffle oil. Very nice as well. Tart and cheesy, and heavy on the onions.

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Since I knew we were going to celebrate it up with the tiramisu for desert, I boxed up a few artichoke hearts and half the pizza. I loved that they wrote their name and the date on the box. My birthday, right there in black and white.

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The tiramisu was pretty good, although not as good as my favorite. It could have used some more Kahlua I think. It came in it's own little glass, which made it weird to share. It was rich and cold and tasty, and I was happy to have it.

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a cup of tiramisu

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Wow. That's a lot of celebrating!
But it didn't even stop there.

The next day for lunch, Alan and I stopped by my favorite Mexican place El Potro. Yes I had just been there on Friday, but that was almost a week before!

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chips, cheese and salsa

Lunch specials were in action so I decided to branch out and try the Pollo Ixtapa. "Chicken breast slices sautéed with wine, onions, poblano peppers, pico de gallo, mushrooms and topped with white sauce."

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too much greasy sauce

The white sauce was really just like the free cheese sauce they give you; way too thick and dense. It was so very heavy and not ideal for lunch on such a hot day. There were hardly any mushrooms, which had been a big selling point to me. The chicken was good though. If I were to get it again, I'd ask them to leave the white sauce off. More likely I'll just stay with my known favorite.

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alan's salad

Alan got the taco salad which looked really good. I might try that some time if I'm looking for something different.

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There was one more birthday dinner before the whole thing was through. My mom came to town to see me Thursday morning. By that point I had eaten about everything I like in Lawrence, so I let my mom and Danny pick where we'd have dinner.

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my mom and danny outside the restaurant

We ended up at Hibachi Grill, which is a big Asian buffet. I don't really love it, but it's agot a lot of choices and I'm never sad to go there. They have 10 tables of food (although 4 are salad and dessert), a sushi station (which I skip because "nothing from the sea"), and a grill area with a limited number of raw items to hand to the grill master. I went with my usual: lots of green beans, egg drop soup, low main with added sweet and sour chicken, green beans and mushrooms. For my final birthday desert I had some red jello.

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And then I was so full that I never ate again.

So hooray for my birthday, and all the people that helped me celebrate it. And hooray for Lawrence restaurants, who probably wondered what their spike in sales that week was.


ten pictures from the farmer's market

I woke up bright and earlyfor the farmer's market this morning. I thought the best time for taking photos would be before the market actually opened at 7, so I headed out earlier than usual. When I got to my car, I realized my camera battery was completely and totally dead.

Dang.

So I brought it back inside and hooked it up to the charger.
Then I read my book for about 20 minutes, hoping that would give me enough charge for the morning's photos.

I made it there only there about 10 minutes before the opening bell rang. Not so bad.
The best part, however, was that it was about 70 degrees outside. Lovely! One thing about our insane heat wave is it makes me appreciate pleasant weather so much more. Last week it was in the upper 80s at the market and I could definitely appreciate the difference this morning.

I did not take my time with these photos. I snapped them quickly so I could stay out of the way, and because I felt guilty for doing it.

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big basket of basil

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these baby heirlooms are my current favorite thing in the world

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two bunches of these flowers are upstairs on my dining room table right now.

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this picture reminds me of some pictures i took of flowers in bath, england several years ago.

it's about time to get ready for sibling day at my brother's in kansas city. there will be babies and i will take pictures.


peaks

ok, things were happening in my town yesterday.
there was some big federal agent drug bust near downtown. not the kind of excitement you usually see in my town. some giant drug ring involving other cities as well. i think a couple dozen people were arrested all together.
but then it got weird crazy.
some evil parents were arrested at mini-walmart after some lady saw their children (aged 5 and 7) tied up and blindfolded in the back of their car. !! i do want to point out they were not from lawrence, just driving through on their way to arizona. the dad got all aggressive with the cops when they got him in trouble. double crazy.

nothing rivaling that excitement over here. i went to two grocery stores. and through the walgreens drive through. daisy got two dog biscuits there. that was about the peak.

i'm still waiting for today's peak which should be sometime when my boyfriend is here. however it will have to be pretty good to outdo the otherwise peak, which was debra telling me the lady liked the story i wrote about her. nice.


You know about the road paved with good intentions, right?

how do i keep not updating? i don't know. but i do. i was just about to head to bed. not for sleeping quite yet, but i was going to watch some stuff off the tivo and write in my paper journal a bit and then go to bed. h is going to school super early in the morning and i want to try to wake up to see her off.

today was laundry day. yesterday alan and i cleaned out 3 communal closets that had been a big messy mess for many years. it was fantastic. well it was kinda yucky actually doing it, but gavin it done is fantastic.it made lots of laundry though, so today was laundry day. considerably less yucky, but with lots more folding. there's still a little bit left, but isn't there always?

today was also chilly day. after several days of upper 80s that made me contemplate turning on the ac in march (i didn't), today it was in the upper 50s. brrr. i'll take 80s over 50s anyday. it was also rainy so of course it made me remember great britain. honestly, it doesn't take much to make me think of great britain. but still.

so much has been going on here lately, and i haven't been here to tell you about any of it. that's frustrating to me. my college (and current town) basketball team went to the playoffs. it was a big exciting deal when we won the final 4. we had victory cupcakes and i planned a whole big post that i never made. a couple days later, it was the final game and we got beat. fair and square. it was a few days of craziness between those two games, and it was sad when it was over. i still love my jayhawks though. there's always next year.

here's an ap photo of when we won.

we were excited

and our downtown that night:

downtown lawrence, ks

it was crazy, but peaceful. we don't burn furniture or flip over cars or anything. we just like to have a good time. i am too old to go, but my friend elwood went for me. he enjoyed it for the both of us.

also, there has been a rash of spring cleaning, mostly thanks to the eager encouragement of my best boyfriend alan. hallways, closets, the library, the yard. all kinds of stuff. he is excellent and i love having his help. he's good to me and i seriously appreciate it. i am lucky.

oh, and hannah had a grand mal seizure. we were sitting on the floor upstairs, trying to decide if she was going to get better enough to go to school (she was having the type of small seizures that usually fade out) and bam. she went down and sure enough. it's so horrible watching someone have a seizure. especially someone you love as much as you love your kid. i'm sure it sucks to have them to. she loses her memory for a while and has a horrible headache. this time she didn't have the vomiting, but she did do something to her shoulder that's been givin her troubles since. poor kid. i effing hate epilepsy. in case you were wondering.

so there's a little catch up. i really intend to do this on a consistent basis. i do! honest. i guess we'll just have to see how that goes...


I was in love my with town last night.


Yesterday my friend Debra was in town, and we decided to go downtown to try Esquina, a "Nuevo Latino" restaurant where Round Corner Drug used to be. As we approached Mass Street on 9th we saw the giant crowds.

Season's Greetings from Weavers

I had forgotten the night after Thanksgiving is the night Santa arrives in Lawrence, via a helicopter. He lands on the roof of a local department store and has to be rescued by the fire department. Then he sets up across the street and sits on his chair while the kdidies line up to tell him their xmas wishes. Oh, and at some point all the xmas lights come on as well.

Santa

street lights

It was also the last Friday of the month, so it was Final Fridays, a once a month happening where local artists set up galleries in downtown spots and the public is welcome to walk around and check them out.
So downtown was full of happy festive folks. Including carolers dressing in Victorian garb.

art

Most importantly it was 60 degrees out, at the end of November. It was fantastic. I was in love with my town.

Deb and I had our dinner and weren't so impressed.The food looked great, but I wasn't so impressed with the flavors.

mexican s'mores at esquina

She had to go home then, but it was early, so I picked up the kids and we all went back to downtown and wandered about. It kind of felt like Disney World with the lights and the music and the weather and the happy people all about.

kids on the street

Did I mention I loved it? It was a great night.


Bircham Park has too much water.

Yesterday afternoon, Hannah got some crummy health news at the doctor. We were searching for something fun and/or interesting to do to get our minds off it, so when Danny texted me that a few local parks were closed down because they were flooded, we decided to check one out.

Now I know that's not really very interesting or fun, but it's Lawrence. It's the midwest. You take what you can get. Of course we took some pictures, and even made a little video.

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Hannah took the above picture. She loved the dead trees sticking out of the water.

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In the distance is the river. It was moving pretty fast.

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Morning at Clinton Lake

One morning I woke up and was shocked to find it was under a million degrees outside. In fact, it was in the 70s. I grabbed the most adventurous of our dogs, my daughter and we drove out to the local man made but still lovely lake.

As we went around the curve that leads to my favorite parking lot at said lake, I noticed a bunch of odd shapes in a dead tree. I slowed the car down and realized it was 7 vultures, hanging out in a tree. Is it ironic that they're in a dead tree? or is that how they roll? I do not know but i was fascinated.

vulture tree

As we sat there gawking at them, one slowly started to spread it's giant wings. When he was done, another joined in. Then another and another and soon there were 5 giant vultures with their wings spread in a dead tree right in front of me.

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vulture tree 

I figured their wings were spread because they felt a little uneasy with my car sitting there, and me and Hannah gawking at them, so before I was really ready we drove away to the marina parking lot, parked and got out for a pleasant morning stroll.

daisy checks out the lake

That's Hannah and Daisy. Daisy had never seen a lake before and I was happy to see her walk right in it. She didn't go any further than that though, and kind of avoided it from them on. I don't think most Lhasas like water. She wouldn't go up on the docks, either.

lovely lake

sunshine on the lake

clinton lake

the lake

geese at the lake

geese at the lake