Stephenson’s Apple Farm

Every year at this time I patiently wait for Stephenson’s Apple Cider to show up in my local grocery store. There are several other brands that appear weeks before Stephenson’s but I never purchase anything else. For me, Stephenson’s is the thread that runs through my years of fall activities and holidays.

Hot mugs of cider are always present on cold fall evenings in this house and a favorite thing to offer guest throughout the season. It would not be Christmas Eve without a pot of cider warming on the stovetop fortified with orange and apple slices and cinnamon sticks.

When I was growing up we often traveled to Lexington, MO to visit my grandmother and from our house Stephenson’s Apple Farm Restaurant in Independence, MO, was directly on the path traveled. Invariably, my parents would stop on the way either to or from Lexington to enjoy lunch or dinner.


Having a working mom, we were no strangers to eating out but there are no other restaurants I can remember with such clarity. From my young eyes Stephenson’s was a “fancy” restaurant that included candle-lit tables with white tablecloths and dim lighting.

Due to it’s popularity there was often a wait to be seated at a table. This never proved to be a problem because while waiting you could serve yourself ice cold apple cider in a little white paper cup. No one limited themselves to just one cup.

The food served at Stephenson’s became folklore in my family, the green rice casserole, the melt-in-your-mouth brisket, and even the side salad served with a little horn of cheese garnish. Yet, the best thing on the menu was the hot apple fritters covered with powdered sugar that would be delivered to the tables throughout the meal. As an adult I have attempted to make those fritters on multiple occasions but they never measure up to those I remember.

I continued going to Stephenson’s Restaurant on a regular basis with my own family for years. Each fall we would gather up the kids and go to the apple orchard to pick our own apples bringing home more pounds than we could ever eat. One year the orchard closed permanently for pick-your-own apples but there was still a small farm stand next to the restaurant where you could appease the craving for Stephenson’s apples. Sadly the restaurant closed in 2007 after being in business for sixty years.

It was said that Stephenson’s was President Truman’s favorite hometown restaurant. Another story I love was when Bess Truman brought her bridge club to the restaurant and they ordered punch with their lunch, Bess added, “Let’s have it with a little authority.” The adult drink was soon added to the restaurant menu and called wine punch.

I know some day Stephenson’s apple cider will not show up in my grocery store because each year the volume available becomes less and less. However, until then I will continue to sip this cider and cherish all the special memories each mug brings to mind.

My husband the NASCAR driver….

…..well for about 5 minutes anyway!

I think my husband’s love for all wheeled vehicles started with his matchbox car collection which still holds a valued place in his home office.

When he was growing up he would help his father work on cars any chance he got.  As a teenager he and his friend Andy (the best man at our wedding) spent hours tinkering with Andy’s 1957 Chevy.  I asked if they ever got it to run and he said it ran well, but they would replace the engine or the transmission just because they could.  Cruising to school in the hot rod was a favorite pastime.  Sure wish I had a picture of that.

Eventually Andy and Dave started a yearly tradition of traveling to Indiana for the Memorial Day Indianapolis 500 race.

That lasted for about ten years before kids and family commitments started to get in the way.  Although occasionally he has been to both Indy and NASCAR races since then.

It was about this same time Dave bought a new bicycle and started riding with family and friends.  I am thinking he rode in the annual MS-150 charity bicycle ride for about 10-12 years before all of his bicycle buddies started hitting 50 years old.  Then they all went out and bought Harleys!  You can read about that transition from bicycles to motorcycles by clicking here.

Through all of these other wheeled past-times Dave has never lost his love for cars.  I think he has been a subscriber to Car and Driver Magazine for at least 30 years.  If he is watching TV it is typically some car show……do you know how many different car shows one can find on cable?!?!?

I provided all this history to give you a feel for his life long love affair with vehicles (two or four wheels).  When I was trying to decide what to get him for this birthday this year I happened across the NASCAR Racing Experience at the Kansas Speedway.  It was the perfect present for him!

A week ago it was time for him to cash in his present and I have to admit it was a fun activity even for us spectators.  The staff was wonderful and extremely safety conscience.  Dave started with a 40 minute training session for drivers. He said he had not been nervous at all until the instructor started talking about all the things to remember;  where to drive on the track, where to keep the RPM’s (5000 or less), no burn-outs, make sure the left wheel does not touch the apron or the car may spin out, and many other “rules.”

We upgraded his “experience” to allow him to ride with a professional driver before he drove on his own.  Oh yes, there are many opportunities to upgrade only limited by the amount of money you want to spend!  Dave and the driver did three laps and got up to at least 160 mph.  I am not sure that provided much relief for his concern.

As he was preparing for his solo experience I realized I would never even be able to ride in one of these vehicles.  Do you know they do not have doors?   You have to crawl in and out through the window!  Even if I could do that, there is a claustrophobia factor there.

Since NASCAR is synonymous with loud, here is a short video with the pit crew signaling that he is buckled in and ready to go.


He finally got to drive all by himself, although there was a spotter watching and talking to him through a speaker in his helmet the entire time.  The control tower even has a remote control where they can turn off your car if you are not following the rules.  Overall, he said it was harder than he thought it would be but he loved every minute of it!  He was a little disappointed because he only got his speed up to 146 mph!!! That seems pretty darn fast to me….

My guess is that this was just enough to whet his appetite!





There is nothing like a cancer diagnosis to get you thinking about life……

  • Have I accomplished all I want to accomplish in my life?
  • Has my life turned out the way I envisioned it would?
  • What are the important things in my life?
  • What should I stop doing?
  • What should I start doing?

At the end of July 2018,  I went for my normal yearly exam feeling great and having no unusual symptoms.  Two weeks after that I found myself having a biopsy, being diagnosed with endometrial cancer and making an appointment with an oncologist.  Life sometimes throws you a curve ball when you least expect it.  Just a year before I had retired from my accounting position to help my daughter and son-in-law with their three year old and brand new triplets. I was very busy and people relied on me, I did not have time to be sick!

Insert laughter from above here… I had any control of the situation at all!  Within a couple of weeks I had surgery and started an eight week recovery where I could not lift anything greater than 10 pounds.  That certainly ruled out picking up my sweet grandchildren.  The time was good for me though, I did some self reflection and slowed down for the first time in many years.

I am very fortunate to have had a very early cancer diagnosis and one that is highly curable.  A quick surgery with no chemotherapy or radiation treatments seems to have left me cancer free.  I thank God for that!  But being the human that I am,  it is not a surprise that the mind will wonder down paths that are dark and not pleasant.  I truly have no fear of dying because I believe in God and his merciful grace.  However, when I thought about having to say good-bye to my loved ones I was struck with such pain.  It was a scenario I could not fathom……just too hard to consider.  I am in a much better place now and know I do not have to travel in that direction for the time being.  Obviously we will all be there someday and in retrospect it would seem like such a gift to be able to say good-bye if that time comes.  So many lose loved one’s unexpectedly and do not have that chance.


I visited my oncologist today for my “End of Treatment” appointment.  I was told there is about a 5% chance in my case that the cancer will return.  Pretty good odds I think!  I will continue to visit with the oncologist every three months for the next three years and every six months for two years after that to keep close tabs on my health.  Honestly I almost feel bad about telling anyone I had cancer since for me it was such a quick event with a successful outcome.  So many others fight this disease for years and even lose their fight.  My oncologist told me that this is a common feeling for those in my same situation but I need to remember that each cancer diagnosis is unique and each person experiences a different emotional reaction.  Depression and even a fear of recurrence can cripple even the strongest person.

For me, I just want to concentrate on being thankful and grateful for my family, my friends and all the experiences I have had in my life.  I hung this sign up recently and I hope to practice this everyday!

Fabulous Fall

I have mentioned many, many times on this blog that fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love everything about it.


Today was a glorious, sunny day and I wanted to find some activity to get outside and enjoy the weather.  I have been noticing that several of my neighbors have been very creative in their fall decor so I decided to snap a few pictures and share some of the eye candy with you.

































Are you inspired yet?  Have you done any outside decorations at your house, if so send me a picture!  If you need additional inspiration, here are some links to fall related items that I have done in previous years.


Pumpkins and Mums

It’s Fall, Y’all!

It’s beginning to look alot like….

Fall entertaining workshop




Two Weeks In

A couple of my former co-workers asked what I had been doing these first two weeks of retirement so I thought I would share.

First of all I have been much busier than I thought I would be, I have been:

eating popsicles;


eating frozen custard;


Trying to swim in the water table;


Running at the splash pad;


Making cookies with playdoe;


Having tea parties;


and getting ready for the triplets by making the three mini doll quilts.


Just the normal retirement activities!  Loving every minute of it!

P.S. The black eye seen in the first few pictures was not on my watch!  Just making that clear!

Bits and Pieces #10

It has been soooooo long since I have done a blog post.  Let me catch you up and offer a few fun things

  • On May 27th, after 17 months of long distance planning, our youngest daughter got married in a perfect wedding.  The entire week leading up to the event and even a few days after were full of fun family events including a golf tournament for the guys, bridal luncheon for the girls, a meat-a-poulouza cook-out on Memorial Day, a KC Royals game with 27 family members in attendance, an elegant rehearsal dinner at the Carriage Club, a no-rain outdoor ceremony at The National Golf Club of KC (amidst tornado watches in  the area) followed by a wonderful party celebrating the newlyweds.


  • Back in February we found out our middle daughter was expecting a big surprise….TRIPLETS!  We were all in shock for quite some time (especially Mom and Dad) but now are just so excited to welcome these three babies to the world.

sll three sonogram optimized

  • On top of all the excitement in our household these last few months, I have also decided it is time to hang up my calculator!  Today I am closing  out the accounting manager/systems analyst/project manager part of my life after 37 years!  I certainly am excited but also feel a little different than what I expected.  I will miss my co-workers but pretty sure I will not miss having to plan my life around month end GL close and new system implementations. Woohoo!


  • My travel bucket list is long and I hope to start marking a few things off the list in this new chapter of my life.  My vision of retirement includes traveling and staying in a location for several weeks to really get to know the area.  Have you ever thought about selling everything you own and hitting the road for a long period of time?  I personally know two families who have done this, one in retirement which does not seem too radical and one family with young kids who are just getting started on their 1000 day journey.  You can follow them on instagram at #moldyadventures.  I also came across a blog of another family who packed up their four kids and took the adventure of a lifetime.  Their very interesting story can be found here.


  • You all know that I am a list maker extraordinaire!  I wrote about my list making obsession a few years ago in this post so it will be no surprise to you that I have been making list of things I want to do in retirement.  I am having a very hard time prioritizing those items though because I am excited to tackle each one.  However, one of the first things will be doing is to organize/simplify/de-clutter this house of mine.  And yes, that sounds exciting to me!  I follow several amazing bloggers who write about organization but my favorite is Jen from IHeartOrganizing.   Tons of  inspiration and creative ideas can be found on her site.

Till next time friends!







NYC or My Evening with Adam Levine

I thought that title might pull a few of you in… be honest, I visited NYC for work last week and Maroon 5 was the featured event at the conference I attended.   I really did get to spend the evening with Adam it just happened to be along with about 5000 of the other conference attendees.  Since I had never been to New York City before, I had my hubby tag along so we could take in a few of the sites together.

Our first stop was a visit to the 911 Memorial which was worth the entire trip in itself.  We paid for a guided tour of the memorial and visited the museum on our own.  It is a very humbling experience and meant to be a remembrance and place of quiet reflection.  At one point I saw a guard stop a lady who was jogging through the park and told her she could only walk through the memorial.


The memorial itself consists of two square pools on the site where the twin towers stood.  Names of the victims from that day and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing are inscribed in the border around the pools in what is described as “meaningful adjacencies.”  Our tour guide told us that meant people with connections to each other had their names close together.  As we walked around the pools our guide told us personal stories of victims and their families from that day.  He also pointed out that on a victims birthday a white rose is placed in their name.  It was an extremely overwhelming and emotional tour.


The museum is seventy feet underground and includes many, many artifacts from the day such as burned out firetrucks, pieces of papers found in the ruins, pictures of all the victims, 911 calls and many pieces of twisted metal from the buildings.  The picture below is a piece of metal from the initial entry of the plane into the north tower.



Another favorite stop of mine in NYC was the Chelsea Market, taking up an entire block in the Manhattan Meat Packing District.  It is an indoor food court and specialty shopping mall.

Chelsea-Market-directory The shops were amazing and I could have spent an entire day there.   There are artisanal cheese makers, multiple bakeries, a donutery and a chocolate shop selling a weakness of mine, peanut clusters for $38 per pound.  I may or may not have bought just a couple.


In addition there was a spice vendor, a german sausage maker, craft beer vendors and way too many more to list.  One in particular I could just not get my thoughts around, Takumi- Japenese Inspired Mexican, say what????


Our hotel, the Intercontinenal, was right in the middle of Times Square and all I can say to that is I have never seen so many people in my life.  The sidewalks were packed at 7:00 a.m. and at midnight.   It was sure fun to people-watch though and boy did we see some interesting things.  There was a large police presence everywhere you looked with MANY carrying large rifles.

Times Square

And of course I cannot forget to share a few pics of Adam…..



New York City is a must on your travel list, so many things to do.  However, it made me really appreciate my little hometown of Lee’s Summit, Missouri!


The Cookbook Club

Many of you followed our groups adventures in the ABC Dinner club where we ate our way through the alphabet at restaurants in Kansas City.  That club came to a close a few months ago when we finally (after 5 years) made it to the letter Z.  One of our club members had a friend who was part of a cookbook club and suggested we try that for our next adventure.

I have read about cookbook clubs in the past and there seem to be as many versions of these types of clubs as there are cookbooks themselves.  Basically it is like any other book club, you get together with friends to eat, drink and discuss the book.  The difference is that in a cookbook club each person cooks a recipe from the selected book and brings it to share with the other members.


Here are the guidelines for our version of the Cookbook Club:

  1. Each member of the group will have a turn selecting a cookbook.
  2. We will meet monthly to share and discuss prepared recipes.
  3. Husbands are welcome (and encouraged) to assist with the recipe selection and cooking.
  4. Each member will select a recipe from the cookbook for that month’s meeting. The monthly meeting does not need to be a meal with complimentary dishes selected.  It can just be a tasting of random recipes.
  5. We will continue making recipes out of the book until we have a good feel for it and decide we are ready to move to the next cookbook.
  6. We can change these guideline whenever the heck we want to…

The first cookbook selected is Pioneer Woman Cooks – Food From my Frontier by Ree Drummond.  Below are selections from our first meeting on April 30, 2016.

cookbook cover


Corn Casserole with Peppers – easy to make, would be great in summer when corn is cheap.  Discussed buying corn during the summer in bulk, cutting off the cob and freezing.  Tasted great!


Buttered Rosemary Rolls – these rolls are excellent and easy to prepare since you start with frozen unbaked dinner rolls.  The coarse salt and fresh rosemary make all the difference in taste, the butter probably does not hurt either.


Spicy Caesar Salad with Homemade Cornbread Croutons – the addition of chipotle peppers kicks this salad up a notch from a normal Caesar. For those of you that care (like me) there are raw eggs in the dressing which is also normal for Caesar dressing.  The croutons were good but if made in the future would probably just buy croutons instead of going to the trouble of making from scratch.


BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas – easy to make and tasted great.  Serve with sour cream, salsa and a pineapple wedge on top.


Tangy Tomato Brisket – if you have six or seven hours to let this cook on a low temperature there is nothing better.  Easy to prepare and boy does it make your house smell good all day.  Turned out moist and tender which I can say is not always the case with brisket.


Knock You Naked Brownies – delicious but very rich.  The recipe is a little more complex than simple brownies but good for a special occasion. Wish I would have taken a picture of the gooey caramel and chocolate on the inside which is the star in this dish.


Let me know if you are or have ever been in a cookbook club.  I would love to hear how other’s operate.



The End of the ABC Dinner Club

Four years and ten months after starting the ABC Dinner club we finally reached the letter Z. To read about our final dinner, “Z is for Zocalo” click here.  If you have been following along you know the story.


We are a group of twelve who have known each other  for twenty-five plus years and raised our children together.  We have been eating out together since the kids were in high chairs.


Almost five years ago we decided to put some structure to our eating out adventures and use the letters of the alphabet to decide where to eat.  We are all amazed that it took five years to get this done.

The rules of our club were simple, we tried to find restaurants  where none of us had eaten before,  but that was much easier said than done given how long we have all lived in this city and how often we eat out.  A few in the group would research the next letter and put an email out asking for votes.  We also tried to find a date where all of us could make the dinner.

Overall we are a pretty easy group to please, in short we all love to eat out.   We definitely found a few new favorite restaurants and also a few where we will never return.   It would be virtually impossible to list our favorite  out of the twenty-six we visited but I did try to poll the group to see if we could at least get a list of our top five.  I am actually listing six  that we all loved since a few received the same number of votes.   These are not in any particular order.



Osteria Il Centro

Osteria Il Centro




Beer Kitchen

beer kitchen

Tavern @ Mission Farms

Tavern @ Mission Farms

Yard House


On the flip side, we also voted on our least favorite places.

Domo Sushi and Grill

Ixtapa Mexican

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse and Grill

Unk’s Burgers

Extra Virgin

The ABC Dinner club has been a fun way to try new restaurants and get out of our same old place rut. Hopefully we have also been able to guide some of you to try some new places in Kansas City.  Let me know if you decide to try your own version of the ABC Dinner Club, we would love to hear where you go!

What’s next for our dinner club?  We have a few ideas……stay tuned to find out!

A designer before my time…..

The Novogratz design family posted the upper left photo in this collage on facebook this week and I immediately thought about my bedroom when I was 16 years old back in the 70’s.    I begged my parents to let me pick the colors and paint all by myself.  I am pretty sure the carpet which was the exact color of the walls (dark navy blue) was never the same.  These photos are VERY old so the quality is not very good but I sure had a good laugh when I looked at them.  Notice the yellow princess phone and the matching yellow pillow.  One of those pictures is my little nephew who is not so little these days and another is my parents. And yes, that is my sixteen year old self with a friend….some of you may recognize that guy!!!  Wow…look at those fancy pants I have on.  Thanks Novogratz for the memories!

TKG Teen Bedroom