Are you ready for some football???

We have had a crazy schedule with three out of town trips in the last three weeks, however that did not stop us from having a little fun on one of the few days we were actually in town.

Training-camp

I have a friend who is as crazy about football as I am.  Our husbands also like football but it is Nancy and I who are the real fans.  Each year about this time we start the conversations about how our beloved Chiefs will do.  I am usually the optimist in a desperate hope that this will be our year while Nancy is usually more guarded in her predictions.   We both take our football seriously.  For example,  just last week Nancy and her husband were on a trip to Denver and Nancy sent me a text telling me that they had just driven by the Broncos stadium and she put a hex on it.  That is the kind of fans we are…..

Last Sunday the four of us took a little drive up to St. Joseph, Missouri to peak in on Chiefs training camp.  We saw some seriously large human beings in the form of the defensive line.

Defensive-Line

We saw our new coach, Andy Reid, who was totally engaged and constantly giving advise to the players.

AndyReid

We watched all the quarterbacks getting some extra coaching.  I am so excited to see how Alex Smith does this year.  Chase Daniels was not having a good day but he is definitely a fan favorite, at least for us MIZZOU fans.  Tyler Bray was very impressive…my guess is that we will be saying bye-bye to Stanzi.

QBs

Nancy and I have shared in some great Chief memories over the years including the time we were yelling at people in a hotel lobby in San Diego to get out of the way because we were watching for Tony Gonzalez,  only to discover we were yelling at Stevie Wonder and his entourage.  🙂

arrowhead

With my usual optimism I am predicting that all the changes this year will produce the best Chiefs season we have seen in a long time…..of course we all know it will not take much to improve over the last few years.  I can’t wait for Friday night and the first pre-season game.  GO CHIEFS!!!!

Sea Life Aquarium

Everything I have read about becoming a better photographer includes the advice to take your camera with you everywhere you go.  I am not very good at doing that because my camera is pretty bulky and heavy.   We do have a small Nikon point and shoot and we also have our iphones, but for me, if I am going to take pictures, I really want to use my Cannon 7D.  Just using it makes me a better photographer.

Last weekend, the Mr and I had an unusual Saturday without any commitments so we decided to go out to lunch and maybe do a little shopping.  I grabbed my camera and even put on my 50mm lens that I am trying to use more often.  This is a fast lens, meaning it does well in low light conditions.  While sitting at lunch we discussed how we would someday like to go to the Sea Life Aquarium which is one of Kansas City’s newest attractions.   Silly us, we were within walking distance of the aquarium, no better time than right now!

The admission price to the aquarium is very reasonable and discount tickets are available if you purchase them in advance.  As we were getting ready to walk in they mentioned that flash photography was not allowed.  I asked, “Does that mean non-flash photography is allowed?”   “Sure,” they answered.  Woohoo…….for once I was prepared!

Here are my favorite images from the aquarium, starting with the Jellyfish…

pink-and-blue-jelly-fish

pink-jelly-fish

Blue-jelly-fish

This guy was looking right at me….

Fish-looking-at-me

Red-Fish-thru-rope

shark

Stingray

There were so many other things to see such as creepy eels sticking out of the sand, colorful clownfish, starfish, shrimp and even seahorses.  I enjoyed it so much I would like to go back sometime.   They have many kid-friendly exhibits also, even an area where you can touch the fish.  If you are in the KC area or are planning a visit I would highly recommend a visit to the Sea Life Aquarium.

Davis Farmer’s Market

My three daughters and I,  along with my sister and niece made a whirlwind dash to California last weekend to catch up with my brother’s family and meet the newest addition to our family tree.

We all fell in love with baby Bella.  We also got to hang out the energetic nephews, Isac and Noah.  It was a great family weekend!!

The mid-seventies temperatures were perfect for a trip to the Davis Farmer’s Market which USA Today ranks as one of the “standout” markets across the country.  Besides the normal farmer’s market bounty of fruits and vegetables, this market includes stall after stall of nuts (almonds, pistachios and walnuts) along with every baked good imaginable, scones, cookies, pies and cinnamon rolls the size of a dinner plate.  I stared at those babies for several minutes before someone finally pulled me away.

The displays and color at the market were amazing.

The market even has their own Cookbook and on this particular day the authors were greeting visitors and signing autographs.

One vendor was selling pepper and tomato bouquets,  I really wanted one of these unique and colorful arrangements, but could not figure out how to get it home without crushing it in my luggage.

I love farmer’s markets.  Is it spring yet?

Day Trip to Weston

On Sunday we decided to take a day trip about 30 miles north of Kansas City to the town of Weston, Mo to shop, eat and have some family time.  Weston is a small, delightful town listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Sitting close to the Missouri River, Weston has many restaurants and small boutiques that sell a variety of items including home décor, clothing and art.

Our day started with brunch at the Avalon Café which included omelets, pork chops and very spicy Bloody Mary’s.  So, so good!

We walked around town browsing and buying in several of the shops,  including  the McCormick Distilling Company gift shop.  For a quarter you could choose a shot of one of the many flavored vodkas available for purchase.  The flavor combinations were very interesting to say the least.  We may or may not have tasted this one, and a few of us may or may not have bought some to take home.

Don’t judge until you try!!!

Another fun location on our itinerary was the Pirtle Winery.  Besides wine tasting, you can purchase a basket of sourdough bread, cheese and sausage to enjoy along with a bottle of wine in the garden.  It was a little too hot on Sunday for us to have a picnic, but we did enjoy the wine tasting of several varieties of wine from dry to sweet.  One in our group who recently turned 21 seemed to be having a particularly good time.

Our next stop was the Green Dirt Farm and the main reason I wanted to go to Weston.  Green Dirt Farm is a small sheep dairy farm that produces award-winning sheep cheese, yogurt and 100% grass fed lamb.   I had heard about Green Dirt Farm on the Anthony Bourdain – No Reservations episode about Kansas City

We were able to tour the facility, including the milking barn, and taste several of the different cheeses and yogurt the farm sells at Farmers Markets throughout the Kansas City area.

We learned several interesting things about the farm, including the fact that sheep dogs actually live with the herd, and protest loudly if anyone or anything gets too close to the sheep, including the farmer.  The cheese tasting was fabulous and I absolutely loved everything we tasted.  It was hard to decide which items to purchase at the end of the tour but I finally decided on two fresh cheeses, rosemary and garlic peppercorn along with some feta which is a fairly new product for the farm.  Tonight for dinner we grilled some chicken breast stuffed with the rosemary cheese and today at lunch I made a salad of melon sprinkled with the feta.  I wish I would have brought home twice as much.  It was SOOOO good.

Our last stop before heading home was O’Malley’s Irish Pub which operates the Weston Brewing Company.   The brewery is available for tours but was not open on Sunday so we had dinner and tasted a few of the local brews.

Although it sounds like all we did was partake of adult beverages, we really did have a fun, full day (seven hours) of shopping, eating and hanging out with family.  If you live in the KC area, I would highly recommend a day trip to Weston.  If you are not close enough for a day trip, Weston has several B&B’s plus there is a State Park within hiking distance of the town.  It will make for a memorable day!

Life in Omaha

Many of you know that the Mr. and I travel to Omaha once a month to provide some face time to our respective employers.  Because we work from home it is nice to get out into the real world every once in a while.  Here is “our place” when we are in town.

I love the Hampton Inn.  We began staying there about a year ago when it was newly built.  The rooms are very clean and comfortable and the breakfast always includes fresh fruit and a hot entrée.  A great feature is the complimentary happy hour each afternoon with wine, beer, appetizers and warm cookies.  That has been our dinner on more than one occasion.

The Hampton Inn is actually located in Bellevue, Nebraska a suburb of Omaha and home to the Strategic Air Command at Offutt AFB.  Remember on 9/11 when Air Force One landed in Nebraska and President Bush was taken to a secure bunker?  That was right here in Bellevue.  As expected, there is a bunch of air traffic overhead, but the noise is surprisingly not bad at all.

Just a few blocks from our hotel is where Dave’s employer recently built their new facility in the middle of a cornfield.   You might be thinking that all of Omaha is in the middle of a cornfield and that is not far from the truth.

I work at a Health System that is several blocks north in the actual city of Omaha.  Here are pictures of two of our hospitals.

Although we have taken in many of the attractions of Omaha since we did live there for about 15 months, most of our time these days is spent working or eating out.  These are two of our favorite places to eat in Omaha…..we are pretty easy to please when it comes to food.

Huhot is a typical Mongolian grill although on the small side when compared to BD’s in Kansas City.    The food is fresh and the Hot and Sour soup fabulous.  This is always Dave’s pick for somewhere to eat.    I on the other hand always have to stop at Qdoba Mexican Grill during our trips.  It is similar to Chipotle, although has many more menu options.  The 3 cheese queso sauce that covers the nachos is to die for.  I do not even want to know how many Weight Watcher points this would be!  There are a few Qdoba’s in Missouri, but they are in the St. Louis and Springfield areas.  Not a one even close to KC.

I remember when we were getting ready to move to Omaha EVERYONE told us we had to visit the zoo.  At the time, I had two hips that would not think kindly of a whole day spent walking.  However, now that I have bionic hips, I am planning on staying over a weekend on one of our future trips and do just that.   Maybe I will do a future post about all the fun things to do in Omaha!

Steamboat Photography

As a student of photography, you could not ask for more picturesque vistas to experiment with than the landscape of Colorado.  The views beg for recording into lasting memories.  The subjects are so rich and varied that the techniques do not have to be perfect to create a good picture.  Here are just a few of my favorite images captured during our visit.

This was taken from the top of Mount Werner at about 10,000 feet above sea level looking down at Steamboat Springs which is approximately 6900 feet above sea level.  The next three pictures are taken on one of the Fish Creek Falls hiking paths.  The waterfall is 280 feet high.

This little guy was patiently waiting for us to share our lunch on the hiking trail.

This last picture I really enjoyed because it was such a surprise.  On the drive to steamboat I stuck my camera out the window and just started snapping photos.  It was difficult to focus on anything because we were traveling at about 65 miles per hour.  I was sitting on a shutter speed of 1/125 and an aperature of F7.0.  To me the cabin perfectly captured the beautiful but desolate landscape we were seeing.

I can’t wait to return to Colorado!

Saddleback Ranch and ATV’s

Steamboat Springs offers many activities for summer visitors, many more than we had time to participate.  One of the favorite places we visited was Saddleback Ranch, an 8000 acre working cattle ranch, fourth generation family owned and operated.  I can see why Saddleback is one of the top five rated attractions in Steamboat by Trip Advisor.

On our first visit we were taken by horse drawn wagon (or by horseback, if you prefer) to a lodge where we ate delicious steak, salmon and chicken served by the ranch cowboys, including the owner of Saddleback ranch.  After dinner we were entertained by a cattle roping demonstration, chats with the cowboys, and visits by the ranch border collies.

Our ride to and from the ranch included views such as this.

We returned to Saddleback Ranch the next day to take a two hour ATV ride across the ranch.   I was pretty apprehensive since I had never ridden an ATV before. During the ride there were countless “SLOW DOWN’s” yelled at Dave, especially at the top of the steep hills we encountered.  We took several breaks to make sure everyone was still with the group.  Our leader Jerad asked me more than once if I was doing ok.

Gotta love a cowboy that wears Ralph Lauren and Oakley sunglasses!  Colorado is experiencing one of the driest summers on record so we were warned about the dust we would encounter.  I wore a full face helmet and a bandana so I did not get dust in my face as bad as others in our group.

The views we saw while riding were spectacular.

I can honestly say this was SO MUCH FUN.  Of course I only admitted that once I was off the ATV and realized I had survived.

In the winter this two hour tour of the ranch is done by snowmobile and the dinner wagon ride turns into a sleigh ride!  They also offer several other activities including participating in a cattle drive and horseback riding.  When I return to Steamboat (which I will definitely do someday) I will also return to the Saddleback Ranch.  We totally loved our time spent there.

#7 Visit Colorado in the Summer

I have never taken two vacations in two months, but I think I could easily get use to this lifestyle.   Last month was Destin, Florida and this month is Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  Fortunately Steamboat is not close to any of the fires currently burning in Colorado so our vacation is proceeding as planned.

Steamboat Springs is a major winter ski destination and has actually produced more Olympic skiers than any other town in the United States.  Summer in Steamboat is a total blast.  For one thing, most of the lodging is 40-60% less than the winter rate.  To say our condo is nice is a total understatement.  Howelsen Place is an old building that was renovated about two years ago with condos on the second level and retail shops on the street level.  Here is a tour of our home for the week.

I loved that our condo was right in the middle of downtown making it so easy to stroll around the many galleries and stores.

Before we left home I had noticed that one of the downtown galleries was featuring a photography exhibit “A 50-Year Photography Retrospective” of Rod Hanna.  Since I am a little obsessed with anything photography related these days I definitely wanted to check this out.  When we entered the gallery we were greeted by a gallery docent who told us a little about the artist and much to our surprise mentioned that Rod Hanna was from Kansas City.  Additionally, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, Mr. Hanna was the official photographer of the Kansas City Chiefs.  Having a Kansas City connection to this amazing photographer was such a thrill.   I was totally in awe as I roamed the gallery looking at pictures of the beautiful Colorado landscape, documentary pictures taken when he was a newspaper photographer, pictures of the Chiefs during their Super Bowl win and even pictures of John Elway taken when he was the official photographer of the Denver Broncos.

To see Rod Hanna’s extraordinary photography, click here.  Next time I will be sharing some of the awesome activities available in the summer at Steamboat.  Until then I will be savoring my last night in Steamboat before heading to the real world.

Destin, Ziti and Fajita Salad

What do all the above have in common?  Well, let me tell you!

We have had an amazing week.  It started with a medical school graduation and party for my son-in-law which included the cake below.  Appropriate, don’t you think?

Less than twelve hours after leaving the party, the whole family left for Destin, Florida where we spent 5 wonderful days relaxing, playing and having some great family time.

Our rented house was about a block from the beach in a beautiful gated community.

The beaches in Destin are breathtaking.  The sands are white and the emerald water is crystal clear.  We swam, snorkeled, took a boat ride and read books on the beach.

We ate at a couple of really good restaurants and two of the nights we stayed in for dinner.  It was a real vacation for me since my two oldest daughters and their spouses took turns cooking!

One night Kindra and DL made Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti inspired from a Real Simple Magazine recipe.  Click here for the original recipe.  They used ground turkey instead of beef and frozen spinach instead of fresh.  They also used whole wheat pasta and low-fat cheeses.  It was served with garlic bread and a fabulous salad that included gorgonzola cheese and craisans.  Who needs to go out when you are served meals this good?

Here is DL using his swim goggles while he cuts onions….a very creative use of tools on hand.

Kayla and Dylan prepared a Chicken Fajita Salad that was unbelievably good.  They marinated a chicken breast (one per person) overnight in Italian dressing, the juice of one lime and a minced jalepeno.  The next day they grilled the chicken breast.  While the chicken was grilling they sauteed an onion and green pepper.  When the onions turned translucent and the pepper was tender they add a packet of taco seasoning and two cans of black beans.  The meal was assembled by layering the onion, pepper and black bean mixture over a bed of lettuce.  The chicken was added, followed by cheese, salsa and sour cream.  It was so good!

Dave and I joked that we should rent a place in Destin for the entire summer. Since we work from home we technically  should be able to work from anywhere.  It sounds wonderful, but not sure I would get too much done knowing that gorgeous beach is only a short walk from my  front door.  If you have not visited Destin, I highly recommend it!

Roadtrip to Houston

We traveled south this week to visit our kin in Texas for the holiday.  It has been a long time since I have been on a twelve-hour, one-way road trip.  We decided to take the gas-guzzling Explorer for the extra room it would provide our back seat passenger, but it was well worth it.  You know if Molly is not happy, no one will be happy.

In the early afternoon, we decided to stop for lunch at some place other than fast food. We saw several great places to stop, but, of course, by the time we spotted them we had already passed the exit to get off the highway. After repeating this process for a few miles we decided we would get off at the next exit and take our chances of finding something.  At the end of the exit ramp we found ourselves in the left-turn-only lane so, of course, we turned left.  We immediately saw a sign directing us to “Historic Downtown and Dining.”  After about two miles we found ourselves in the middle of downtown McKinny, Texas, which was fabulous.

The town square was surrounded by blocks of small, unique shops with several dining locations.  The entire square was decorated for Christmas, and many people were strolling around shopping and dining on the patio of the small cafes.  We decided this was the perfect place for lunch, so we drove until we found a parking place then walked a couple of blocks around the square and settled on a place called Churchhill’s.

The food was very good, and the walk around the square was just what we needed after six hours in the car. I would have loved to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring all the little shops. During our next trip to Houston I might just schedule an afternoon there.

We finally made it to Houston after spending multiple hours in traffic jams in Dallas and north Houston, a total of fourteen hours in the car.  It was really only the last couple of hours that were difficult, but I was really stiff the next day.

Thanksgiving was fun with great food, games and lots of family time.

We took Percy to the dog park and walked on some of the trails.  Percy was determined to get a squirrel  even if it meant climbing a tree.

Friday was spent doing some shopping and taking in a movie, “The Descendants.” The movie was entertaining, but it was a little depressing.  Today we are going to an MU-kU watch party with the Houston Texas Tigers (the Houston chapter of the Mizzou Alumni Association) then heading home.  It has been a great visit.  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, eating good food and spending time with family.

Note: If this post looks more grammatically correct than normal posts it is because it was professionally proofed!!!  I think it might have actually caused her pain to read this.