Date Night At Park Place Leawood

A month or so ago I received one of the greatest emails of my life, or at least the last six months: it asked if I would consider going on a date to Park Place Leawood. It said that if I did and blogged about it, I would get a Park Place gift card. I didn’t even stop to ask Jon if he thought it was a good idea, mainly because Park Place is already one of my favorite places in town, but also because we haven’t been on a date in way too long. I fired off a return email that basically said, “YEEEESSSS”.

The thing is, Park Place really is a great place to go for a date night; there’s so much to do. At first I thought, “Oh, we could totally go paint together at Pinot’s Palette – that would be so much fun!!” And Jon was like, “No.” Then I thought, “What about a couple’s workout? They say that’s a good relationship builder.” That was quickly followed by, “What am I? Insane? The last thing I need is to die on a date.”  We ended up choosing a classic dinner out. I wore nice jewelry and heels. I know – huge.

park place leawood-pig and finch-date night

After making the ten minute drive to Park Place, then getting in a fight because Jon was going all alpha male on the other people in the parking garage – its not a date if you don’t have a tiffle at some point, right? – we stepped out into the cool night air and looked around us. Say what you want, Park Place is lovely: tree-lined streets, hanging planters overflowing with trailing vines and people walking, talking and dining, all warmly lit by the street lamps. Its very romantic.

We chose Pig & Finch for our dinner; we’ve been there before and had a great time. Not only do they make delicious, fall-off-the-bone meat dishes, they have a mean cocktail list and and extensive beer offering. Mama like. Also, their Fried B&B Pickles are insanely good. Like, “these will ruin your dinner, so be careful” good. The other great thing about Pig & Finch is their location – right at the hub of Park Place. We sat on the patio people watching during our meal. There was this adorable baby who had obviously never been so close to a fountain before that kept me entertained for ages. He just stood there with huuuuge eyes and this absolutely terrified look on his face. Then an elderly couple walked by hand in hand. Girls left restaurants, laden with bags from an afternoon of shopping. Families with kids walked by, laughing and chattering. I even saw a few acquaintances out on dates of their own. It was perfect.

park place leawood-pig and finch-date night

Afterward, I thought for sure we would go for gelato at Paciugo or maybe a coffee at Parisi, but…Well, remember those fried pickles? Yeah. My whole idea for next time is to go for dinner, maybe at Mestizo (seriously delicious, dream-worthy food, plus live music on the weekends),  then walk around for an hour window shopping and looking at the amazing fish in Picasso’s Exotic Aquatics. By then, we will be ready for dessert. Paciugo, I’m coming for you.

These dates need serious managing to get the most out of them. Next time, I’m making an itinerary. Date night has got to be about more than dinner at some point and Park Place makes that pretty easy.

 

 

This post was sponsored by Park Place Leawood and I was compensated for it. All opinions are mine. Thanks to Park Place for a fabulous evening out and a really great opportunity!

 

 

Kitchen Underway. Oh, Yeah!

So today, as you’re reading this, there is a crew. That crew is loading two big, beautiful, heavily veined slabs of soapstone onto a truck. They’re driving to my house. My. House. I’m freaking out right now, you guys. By this time next week, I will be about to use my kitchen. I mean, it won’t be finished, but I will be able to cook on a stove-top, bake in ovens, use a microwave that isn’t in my garage.

When we first moved into this place, I put off showing you guys. I knew there was potential here, but honestly, living here was depressing. The kitchen was a major lightsuck and you guys know me: lighting is everything. The room in between the kitchen and family rooms blocked the light and it felt like a cave: dark floors, dark cabinets, dark tile, ikcy yellow-ish walls. In the morning, though, the light was beautiful.

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But at night? Holy pits of darkness.

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Because of that beautiful light, I knew that this house, particularly the kitchen and family room (south facing, full of windows) could be filled with this amazing light. We knocked the wall down between the two rooms, replaced the carpet in the living room with wood and painted everything white. And the poor desk, the poor, beautifully built desk had to go. Sad days, but the shelves that mattered didn’t move and it was fairly unusable. We saved the desktop though – its hanging out in our garage, waiting for a new and noble use.

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Chick Events Handmade & Vintage Market

Last weekend I was invited to hang out at Chick Events Handmade & Vintage pop-up market at Park Place, Leawood. It was the first time I’d been invited to photograph  an event solely because of my blog – this blog! – and I was so excited. Still am, actually!

chick events-handmade-vintage-market-park place - leawoodChick Events Handmade & Vintage Market

Things couldn’t have turned out better: after a week of cold, gray weather the sun broke through the clouds and we had a lovely, Indian summer day. People responded. By the time I arrived a little before noon, the crowd was enormous! Johnson County was out in full force and everyone was in such a great mood. I met up with a friend and her aunt and we shopped, chatted, painted (for real) and listened to a  really fun cover band called Toxic Assets.

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Summer In The Mountains

Its been a while since I blogged (I mean, April, wow.) and originally I wanted to do a recap of everything we’ve done since then, but it was such a daunting idea. Instead I thought I’d share some pictures of this summer’s family vacation to Colorado, which was so fun and beautiful. We almost didn’t go, but in the end a chance to summit Mount Elbert with two of my best girlfriends sealed the deal and we made the drive from Kansas City to Frisco happily.  I’m so, so glad we did. Its been way too long since we took a real family vacation – this one was Lena’s first – and seeing my kids hiking and biking through the mountains was the coolest thing. If you’ve never visited the Rockies during the summer months, you need to put it on your To-Do list; I really can’t recommend it highly enough.kids-hike-Copper Moutain-Coloradohiking-Copper Mountain-Colorado

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So. Much. Dust.

Wow – so the move from Blogger to WordPress has obviously (see the hideous page design) been complete, but I’m still working on the actual design aspect. I have no idea what I’m doing, you guys. No stinking clue – I’m not a web designer! I’m not HTML5 savvy! What is HTML5?? I was just getting used to HTML when they started adding CSS and then I was just like, “Eh, I’ll hire someone.” Totally, totally regretting that decision now. I should have figured it out and today I’d be designing my own wordpress child theme, but no . No, instead I’m lurking on Etsy for three days straight trying to find the one theme that just screams “Prairie & Co.”

Anyway, excuse the dust. I’ll get rid of it soon, I promise.

Ringing in Spring

    Last week I shot a series of pictures revolving around a lovely, lovely bouquet of pink ranunculus I picked up at Trader Joe’s on a whim. Some of you may have seen them on Google+ or on NHSP’s blog, if you stopped by there this morning. I shot your typical bouquet shots, then moved on to practicing freelensing, a technique I’ve been wanting to try for a while. (If you’re interested or just curious, Everly Films offers an informative and visually stunning tutorial here.) After that, I painstakingly clipped each bloom from its stem, laid them on a swath of green fabric and began shooting from above. 

    As I shot away, the kids waited impatiently on the sidelines until I said, “Ok, they’re all yours”, whereupon they swooped down upon the poor blooms somewhat like winged monkeys and spirited them off to the bathroom sink.

Hands
Angel Darling
Pink & Green
My Funny Face

Squeeze In

I just threw that last one in there because it makes me laugh. Why does he want in that corner so badly?

    These two really put those poor little blooms through their paces. That sink became the equivalent of a Inquisitorial Spanish dungeon: hot water, cold water, soap, complete submersion…They had a blast. And then asked me to leave the flowers in the sink for three hours until Daddy came home. 

Uh, no. 

[My Kids] and The Jump Project

   Most of you know, probably from a post I made on Facebook that my grandmother passed away last week. You’d probably think that this post would be about that and her, but I’m just not there yet. Instead I’m going to share something that makes me so happy, a little side project the kids and I have started calling The Jump Project.
    
    A while ago, the week that it got so cold the schools shut down and no one went anywhere if they could help it, the kids and I started The Jump Project. Its what happens when you have two rowdy kids and a creative-type mom stuck in a house for days on end: something’s gotta give and a bit of supervised furniture-jumping was our ticket out of Crazyville.

Jump (The Remix)

Fly Away
Lean On

Lena Can Jump
Exit Stage Left

    What was originally just a way to keep them active and happy has turned into wall art for the living room. I’m planning on blowing up my favorite three after a reshoot – I wished I hadn’t focused so much on Eli’s feet in his pictures and want to make sure we start nice and early when the light is at its best in that room.  Won’t these be so much fun as wall art and set the tone for a family room perfectly?

A Long, Long Time Ago…I Posted Here

    Hey there, gal-pals and guy-pals. You’ve probably noticed I have been missing; my girl Meagan even popped by my Facebook page to remark on how quiet it had been. If you can just close your eyes for a moment and imagine me making a really guilty face, that would be great. I’ll give you a second. 

    It feels like I ran this blog in a different lifetime; like maybe many, many years ago, perhaps I was a blogger. Then Life just grew legs and walked away, with me in its back pocket. I don’t feel like I have any free time anymore. There’s always something, somewhere that needs to be done and by the time my day has wound down I just want to crawl into bed and fall to sleep, hopefully without drooling all over my pillow. 

   This blog, unfortunately, has suffered in this time draught. While I’ve been hard at work in other areas, its been easy to let this one go. Not because I don’t value you all as friends and readers, just because in the end, a few things had to suffer so I could continue being a good mother and wife, so I could go to dinner with friends and clink glasses over a plate of candied kumquat crostini. In the past I’ve said things like “I know you don’t mind” or even “I hope you don’t mind”, but I’m not going to say that this time or maybe ever again. I’m not a big, powerhouse blogger, there isn’t a staff around me that helps with my posts, I’m not crazy organized, and I am fine with that – my calling is not blogging.

    Before the move, my life was organized around this blog. I’m ashamed to say it, but I planned crafts with my kids around this blog. Some people may say that at least I was spending time with them, but I don’t see it that way. The minute I do a craft with my kids for any reason other than to simply spend time with them, I’ve become a fool. This blog, as much as I love it, should only ever be the result of a life fully lived, not the cause of it. 

    I may go missing for a few weeks on end. You may not hear from me for a month. Just know that I am living my life. The one that doesn’t involve me sitting in a chair, staring at a computer screen. When I get something I think you’ll love or when there’s something I need to get off my chest, I’ll bring it right back here. In the meantime, you know where to find me.

Fairy Dust: Perception, Photography & Blogging

    Oh, you guys it is so cold here. SO. COLD. Our heater decided to take a vacation, the lights in our kitchen stopped working (I mean really, call-the-electrician stopped) and life right now seems a little on the primitive side. Luckily, I have my camera to help me alter my sense of reality.

Parsley in the Morning

    Isn’t that lovely? So fresh and green. It makes me think of warmer days – prolonged exposure might convince you to take your coffee outside. If it weren’t mid-morning, I mean, because coffee mid-morning is crazy. I’m totally drinking a cup right now. Life on the edge, let me tell you. Back to the picture. Its warm, yes? It is warm, it is bright and it is clean. Clean, clean, clean. And then you have this:

A Little Truth

    Not as light and fresh looking as the photo above, is it? Nor is it as clean as that teeny stretch of pristine counter top would have you believe. Let’s see, I’ve got shipping boxes, recycling and some old sheets that haven’t made it to the outside bin yet. If you were to look down the bar in the other direction you’d see…

A Little Truth

   Several holidays represented! Hearts for Valentine’s Day, a bedazzled pumpkin for Halloween, “Merry Christmas” tape and a tree ornament. There are also cleaning supplies, a school photo, junk mail and wipes. Oh, and one of Eli’s birthday presents that I had to rescue from Lena. Did I put that stuff there on purpose? No. Its been sitting there for well over a week; I pushed it all down to the end so I could get my shot. Speaking of my shot, wait til you see what’s behind it.

A Little Truth

    Dishes! Dishes for everybody! But finally, in this one, you can see some of the beautiful light that inspired the shot in the first place. There it is: the reality around the shot. It starts with inspiration, seeing beyond what is actually around you – what could be. Shooting in natural light doesn’t allow you an hour to clean up the mess; if I had stopped to clean up, the light would have changed. So I shifted things around, wiped down the cleared section of counter top and composed my image thoughtfully.

    When I got the image on my computer, I set to editing. First, the yellow came down and the magenta went up: it make a huge difference it the paint color – love it. I added a little exposure, or brightness, and upped the highlights and whites just a tad to give it that fresh feeling. I also upped the vibrance, but lowered the saturation a little to keep it from looking too heavy, and Bob’s your uncle. It was all just tweaking, done in less that five minutes, but gave the picture just a tad more of the feel I was going for.

    This whole post was written just to say two things. First, art allows us to alter our own reality quite easily. Photography is an art as much as anything else and the artists who practice it can tell their audience anything they want because the audience only sees what the artist wants them to see. Second, because of this, be careful to whom you compare yourselves. As viewers, we don’t know what’s two inches beyond the frame, let alone two feet, and post-processing is usually left a mystery. Remember that photography is an art of perception, whether in the hands of a photographer, a blogger, or some random person you follow on Instagram. I’m not trying to vilify photography or photographers – after all, I’m as guilty as anyone. We should all remember that in the case of photography, as with all art and even if the photographer doesn’t see themselves as an artist, seeing should not be believing. Its just fairy dust.

Take A Deep Breath & Relax. Not Really!

Art in the Morning

The holidays are over, the new year has begun and we are in the last few days of Christmas break. Time to relax and spend all day in our jammies or, if you’re like my kiddos, half your jammies.

Loads of bloggers have been posting their resolutions this week and I’m going to say that I don’t really have any. I mean, other than exercising more, being patient and optimistic, get my business in gear and a handful of other things that I’m pretending are totally not New Year’s resolutions, I don’t have any at all. I feel like New Year’s resolutions are jinxed: if they’re labelled as such, they are bound to be broken so I pretend to not have any. But there I go, breaking Resolution #3: Be Optimistic. I didn’t even make it three days; good thing I can try again. 

I realized the other day that I’m not nearly as pessimistic as I thought as I read a friend’s blog post about the January/February doldrums. She really doesn’t like this time of year, but I found myself getting excited – apparently I really like the doldrums! I love the calm that comes with this time of year in the midwest: the cold, the snow, the bright winter light, the lazy days. There’s nothing better than holing up with my babies, snapping a few lovely pictures of our mornings together, editing them at my leisure and then, around lunchtime, getting my patootie in gear and actually doing something useful, like laundry. Being a stay-at-home mom may not be the most glamorous job in the world but it definitely has its perks.

Except that I’m not just a stay-at-home mom anymore – I’m also a business owner! New Hampshire St. Photography is legal. Its real, which is empowering and utterly terrifying. I have always known that I wanted to own my business, but I would never have thought that would happen already. I wouldn’t be at this point without my husband’s support and belief in me. How did such a messed up person get this lucky anyway? And how did my husband get so lucky in marrying such an awesome, messed up person?

These next few months should be interesting. I’ll be hard at work on New Hampshire St. Photography’s website & blog, as well as a few photo projects I have outlined for January and February. Oh and some classes through ClickinMom’s CMU. So much to do, so little time! Thank goodness for these slow months!

What do you guys have planned for the next few months? 

 

 

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