The Magic Tree

We had our first snow last night, just enough to make it seem like Christmas but not enough to really keep people from doing what they need to do.  I love it and hope it stays around for a week, but since the forecast is for temps to hit the forties over the weekend I am guessing our chance for a white Christmas is fairly slim.

FirstSnow

Last night I had Dave take me to a local attraction that has been getting some press for our city lately, it is called The Magic Tree.  During the day this lone tree sits in the middle of a field just off the highway and would not even command a glance as you drive by.  At night it transforms into a beacon of light, attracting a crowd who drive their cars across a field, park, take pictures and just hang out.

LSMagictree

I have to admit it is a beautiful site and I am not sure I have ever seen this many lights adorning one single tree, 12.500 to be exact.  According to Flip Short, the owner of the land, the purpose of the tree is to bring Christmas joy to the world one person at a time, starting right here in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.  Rumor has it that there have been several wedding proposals at the tree while others just enjoy the tranquil setting for reflection.  The tree even has it’s own website lsmagictree.com where you can leave thoughts and comments on your experience.  A bin has been placed near the tree to collect can goods for Lee’s Summit Social Services for those who would like to donate.

Since I am a big lover of Christmas and all the traditions around it, I enjoy the sentiment and appreciate the efforts to create The Magic Tree.  Of course, like so many public venues, the Magic Tree has not been without it’s share of trouble.  A couple of weeks ago someone cut the power lines to the tree causing it to go dark.  The lights were restored quickly but I struggle to understand the mindset of someone who would impair a harmless symbol of the season.

As most of you are also, I am crazy busy with work and Christmas preparations but am making an effort to slow down and appreciate the real reason for the season.  I hope you can do the same.  Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

 

P is for Piropos

Over three years ago a group of long time friends decided to start the ABC Dinner Club which is a structured approach to discovering new restaurants and branching out from our old favorites.  We are eating our way across Kansas City one alphabet letter at a time.

Provolone-salad

Every few months we select a restaurant at which the majority of us have not eaten.  If you would have told me three and a half years ago that it would have taken this long to get to the letter “P” I would have thought you were crazy given how much we eat out, but travel, weddings, children, grandchildren and even surgeries have sometimes made it difficult for this now group of twelve to get together.

373edit

We are far from professional restaurant reviewers, just a group of friends who like to socialize over a good meal.  Given the company we are with and our propensity to eat out, we are fairly generous with our reviews but have had a few we definitely would not frequent again.  Our bottom line is “Will we go back?”

Jaspers-2

To see our latest review check out “P is for Piropos” here.  Below is our list of reviewed restaurants to date:

Anthony’s

Beer Kitchen

Café Trio

Domo Sushi & Grill

En Chamas

Farmhouse

Gaslight Grill

Harry’s Country Club

Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant

Jasper’s

Kope Japenese Steakhouse

Lidia’s

Martin City Brewery

New Theatre Restaurant

Osteria IL Centro

Piropos

 

October

I cannot believe it is the last week of October.  I have had my house decorated for fall for a few weeks now but have just gotten around to taking some pictures. porch3

It could be because we have been out of town twice this month, once to Denver and once to Omaha.

entry-table

Or it could be because we are in sports heaven in this town with MANY late night playoff games and now late night World Series Games.  #GO ROYALS!

mantle2

Or it could be the unexpected but WONDERFUL visit from our daughter, son-in-law and grandson this week.

cleo-by-tree-2

No matter what has caused time to fly by, this has been a wonderful month of gorgeous weather, exciting baseball and cherished family time.

longview-reflection

As much fun as it has been, it seems like I just move from one activity to another at light speed without a moments time to reflect.  As long as I can remember I have always been what I refer to as a “thinker,” someone who plans, dreams, ruminates and thinks through life’s situations.   In this vein, I am my father’s daughter.  My dad would get up at 5:00 am each morning, drink a pot of coffee and sit with the lights off just “thinking.”

longview2

Although I am not that desperate yet, I do need to find a way to carve out some quiet time into my days.

longview3

This past weekend Dave and I took a quiet walk around a lake near our home.  It was just what I needed. Here is hoping for a little quiet time in your life also.

 

Candy Corn Cupcakes

It is no secret around here that I love cupcakes!  I can take or leave a piece of cake, but cupcakes call my name.  I am not even all that partial to the fancy mega-size cupcakes that are sold in their own storefronts, but give me a simple homemade or even boxed mix, paper lined morsel of goodness and I can not resist.  I have been seeing a few different versions of  candy corn cupcakes in blogland over the past couple of weeks and decided to make a simple version of my own.

I prepared a white cake mix according to the directions then divided the batter in half.  I mixed one half with yellow food coloring and the other half with orange food coloring.

batter

I filled cupcake liners one-third full of the yellow batter.

yellow-layer

Then followed that with the orange batter, filling each liner to the two-thirds mark.

orange-layer

After baking the cupcakes for 15 minutes I let them totally cool and then piped on some pre-made white icing.  A piece of candy corn topped them off.

finished-product

A super simple but festive treat!

Pumpkins and Mums

The Mr and I had a goal of cleaning out our basement storage area this weekend so of course we tried to think of as many things as possible to do in an effort to prolong the start of that fun task.  I did manage to drag out my bins of fall decor and looked through them but I just did not have the motivation I needed to start decorating.  At a minimum I wanted to purchase some pumpkins and mums thinking that would inspire me. As I was contemplating our shopping destinations I remembered the Fahrmeier Farm produce stand that we visited a couple of years ago.  A road trip on this beautiful fall day was just what I needed.

Pumpkins-Farhmeier Farmsa

Fahrmeier Farms is located about 45 minutes east of Kansas City in Lexington, Missouri where my parents grew up and where I spent several weekends and summers when I was young.  Fahrmeier Farms is a family run farm started almost 70 years ago and currently operated by three generations of the family.  Although they do provide produce to farmers markets and deliver weekly CSA shares  in the Kansas City area, they also host many regular events at the farm as well as run a produce stand.  When we visited two years ago we stopped in for some wine tastings at the vineyard.  I wrote about that visit here.  Today was all about the mums and pumpkins.

One thing I LOVE about Fahrmeier Farms is their heirloom pumpkins, so much more interesting than the orange globes available everywhere.

Pumpkins-at-farhmeier

pumpkins2-at-farhmeier

We had a wonderful conversation with Farmer Brett who told us about several of the unique varieties of pumpkins and squash and gave us a tour of the mum selection.  I was enjoying myself so much I only took a few pictures.

mums-at-farhmeier

Here are the pumpkin varieties I brought home.

heirloom-pumpkin

squash

bloodshot

orange

Fahrmeier Farms is located on Highway 24 between Lexington and Wellington.  During the month of October they have events each weekend including a “press your own cider” day.  That sounds like my kind of day!   See these vines below?

blackberry

 

Next July they will be bursting with blackberries, ready to be picked.  This is your notice to mark your calendars to visit Fahrmeier Farms next summer.  They have also recently planted 9000 strawberry plants for a late May or early June harvest.   No doubt that I will return!

Journey

Last week I was in New Orleans for a work conference spending my days in sessions with titles such as, “Infor AP Automation  ” and  “Building Consolidated Financials with Lawson Business Intelligence “.    Our diligence in getting through the long days of information overload was rewarded in the evenings with vendor cocktail parties and good food.  Think oysters on the half shell, gator bites and of course beignets.  The highlight of the week was a concert by the group Journey.  Although I had always liked Journey, I was not overly excited for this concert because I was really a Steve Perry fan and knew he was not the lead singer with Journey these days.   Boy was I in for a nice surprise.

Band

After Steve Perry left Journey in 1998, the group went through several lead singers but never felt they had found a perfect fit for their band.  In 2007 Journey’s lead guitarist Neal Schon, saw a UTube video of Arnel Pineda performing cover songs by bands such as Journey, Aerosmith, and the Eagles.  Neal contacted the person who had uploaded the videos to UTube in an effort to reach Arnel who was living in the Philippines.  Neal emailed Arnel who dismissed the email as a hoax but eventually responded after being encouraged by friends.  Shortly thereafter, Arnel flew to San Fransisco for a 2 day audition and the rest is history.

Arnel

Arnel Pineda has a powerful and emotional voice that fits perfectly with this classic rock band.  He has mentioned in an interview that he knows the fans are hearing Steve Perry when he sings but he does not care because he is so honored and thankful for having this opportunity.

Piano

Besides hearing all the old Journey favorites, Don’t Stop Believing, Faithfully, and Open Arms just to name a few, Neal Schon, Journey’s lead guitarist played a guitar solo of the Star Spangled Banner that was lump-in-the-throat incredible.   This band had a concert hall full of geeky software types on their feet, clapping, cheering and singing.

Lead-guitar

I absolutely loved this concert and will definitely go see them again if I get the opportunity.  Until then I am just loading up the itunes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Fall Y’all!

OK, so I am a week or so early.  The official autumnal equinox does not happen until September 22 at 9:29 pm CDT.  That means September 23 is the actual first day of fall.  However, the temperature here in Lee’s Summit, Missouri today is not suppose to reach 60 degrees and that feels like fall to me.  I LOVE IT!!!  I have written about my love for fall several times on this blog.  You can see those post here, here, here and here.

There are so many things about fall that make me happy, like the first batch of chili for the season.   I put it in the crock pot this morning and it made the house smell so good!   I might have had to sneak a little for lunch.

chili

This time of year, I light a candle on my desk everyday.  Sometimes it is small things that make you smile.

candle

I love pulling out the quilt for tv watching.

blsnket

And I really love it when the kitty needs to warm up on my lap.  This blanket is definitely a cat magnet.

kitty-on-a-blanket

I am hoping to get some fall decorating done this weekend before I head out Sunday to New Orleans for work.  The forecast there for next week is high 80″s with high humidity, not looking forward to that!

Happy Weekend everyone!

Everything Old is New Again

For the past year or so I have noticed a surge in the popularity of gold and brass accents.

brass-kitchen 1

kitchen-sink

Morgan-Harrison

I have literally spent the last ten years trying to replace the gold and brass accents that we purposely selected when we built this house in 1997.  We have had (and still do in a few cases) brass fans, brass door handles, brass cabinet pulls and even brass bathroom fixtures.  Now I am reading about designers frequenting thrift stores to find these trendy brass items.

Here is another new trend, according to HGTV, “wallpaper is back in a big way. We can’t get enough of its room-transforming, style-defining powers.”

The only “room-transforming power” I have experienced with wall paper is the ripping of drywall as I spent hours steaming, scrapping and cursing trying to get it off the walls.

And now for the icing on the cake, I have been trying to talk the hubby into painting my oak stained kitchen cabinets white for the last couple of years.  Recently I read over at Centasational Girl that “natural and stained wood cabinets in the kitchen are surging in popularity and it’s to be expected, how can you deny the warmth of wood in the home?”

What have I learned from all of this?  Obviously,  I am on the cutting edge of design…..years ahead of my time (about 17 to be exact).   Oh, another thing, I am heading to the thrift store to scalp a few bathroom fixtures and door pulls!

 

 

ABC Dinner Club Update

The ABC Dinner Club ventured out for the letter “O” this week, click here to find out where this fifteenth edition of the club took us!  Here is a hint!

doors

Chicken and Orzo Soup|Best Snickerdoodle Cookies

It is no secret that I love soup.  I have shared several soup recipes with you before including Black Bean, Cheddar Ale and Chicken Noodle Soup.   I especially like soup in the fall and winter but I eat it all year long. Last week while in Omaha I ate lunch at our company cafeteria and had a bowl of chicken and rice soup.   Although the taste was not bad, it was more chicken broth with just a hint of rice, chicken and vegetables. I like thick soup, almost stew like.   I knew I could do a better job.    I started by sauteing onion, celery, garlic and carrots in olive oil until the vegetables were soft.  I added chicken broth, a diced chicken breast and some orzo.  Now this is what I am talking about!  YUM!

Chicken-and-Orzo-finished

I have included the recipe at the end of this post.  This past week I also came across an updated recipe for snickerdoodle cookies that were soft and so, so good.  If you like snickerdoodle cookies, do yourself a favor and make these cookies.

snickerdoodle2

This recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction.  I have made several of her recipes and have never been disappointed.  Click here for the best Soft & Thick Snickerdoodles Cookies you will ever eat!

Chicken and Orzo Soup

2 T olive oil
1/2 cup carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 clove minced garlic
48 oz chicken broth
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
1/2 cup orzo
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Saute the carrots, celery, onion and garlic in the olive oil until the vegetables are soft.
  2. Add the chicken broth, chicken and orzo.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the orzo is soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sharing with Rattlebridge Farm Food Friday

 

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