Monday, May 23, 2016

What to Do in Kansas City + Travel Giveaway!

Whenever people ask us where we're from, we're pretty proud to claim Kansas City as not only our hometown, but also our current home. The city has gotten a lot more press with the Royals winning the World Series last year, and it's seen a ton of change and improvement in the last decade. In fact, KC is the place to be right now. From barbecue to fountains, sporting events to friendly folks, Kansas City has something to offer for everyone. Here are my top 12 recommendations for a visit, along with local insight and links! Also, check out the free giveaway the bottom of the page for your chance to win a free travel app to the city of your choice!


1. Cheer on a team.

You've most likely heard of the Kansas City Royals, and Kauffman is super nice, but there are also several other sports teams to cheer on in the area. Our NFL team is the Chiefs, and they share a parking lot with the Royals (and are located right next to them in the super loud Arrowhead Stadium).  These stadiums are in the Independence Area, where you can also catch Mavericks hockey at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, or you can cross the state line and watch Sporting KC play soccer in Kansas City, Kansas. All tickets are pretty reasonable, and the environment is great at all of these venues.

2. Walk the Country Club Plaza.

Even if you're not a huge shopper, the Plaza is definitely worth a visit. It boasts big name restaurants like The Melting Pot, The Cheesecake Factory, and family style Italian at Buca di Beppo. There is also a movie theatre, several coffee shops, reasonable to high end shopping, and several dessert spots. Great times to visit are  when the lights are up from Thanksgiving to mid-January, or for the Plaza Art Fair in September.

I love this video from BostWiki. It really helps explain the city and highlight some of the neighborhoods I mention!

3. Check out the downtown neighborhoods by car or streetcar.

KC has lots of fun neighborhoods with great food and things to do. Check out Westport for great dining and drinks (and the Doughnut Lounge!), Waldo for amazing pizza, and City Market for the Farmer's Market or to see Steamboat Arabia. Brookside is also super cute, and has lots of coffee shops and restaurants. The KC streetcar is free and new, and can connect you all the way from City Market to Union Station. See the route here.

4. See the animals or a show in Swope Park. 

Swope Park is home to both the Kansas City Zoo and Starlight Theater. Spend your day touring "Africa", and then watch a Broadway show under the stars at night!

5. Explore the nightlife in the Power and Light District.

If you're big on nightlife, you'll want to be sure to visit the Power and Light District. Home to bars, restaurants, and the huge outdoor area known as "KC Live", Power and Light is always hopping. The Sprint Center is also located in this area, and hosts sporting events, concerts, and other events. Check out this video for more!


6. Bring the kids (big or little) to Crown Center and Union Station.

For fun for the whole family, head on down Grand St to Crown Center. You'll be able to shop, eat, and check out fun places like Kaleidoscope, LEGOLAND, and SEA LIFE Aquarium. They even show free movies outside in the summer, and have an Ice Rink and huge Mayor's Christmas Tree in the winter. Union Station is located nearby, which houses Science City and a Planetarium.

7.  Enjoy a performance.

There are lots of places to enjoy great concerts and shows in KC. Some of the most popular places are Sprint Center, Starlight, Uptown Theater, the gorgeous Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, the Coterie (which is in Crown Center), and the Midland.

8.  Eat good barbecue (or other food!).

KC is known for barbecue, and there are SO many different kinds to try. Some of our favorites are the famous Joe's KC, Q39, and Arthur Bryant's. If you aren't feeling barbecue, you should definitely check out Grinders, or one of the Mexican restaurants along Southwest Boulevard like Ponak's. (The Boulevard is also home to Boulevard Brewing Company, which has free daily tours!)

9. Visit on First Friday. 

KC has this awesome once a month party called "First Fridays". On the first Friday of each month, there is a big art festival in the Crossroads, complete with music and food trucks. On the entire first weekend of the month, head to the West Bottoms areas for awesome warehouse weekends where you can find awesome, vintage and antique goodies and home decor. My favorites are Bella Patina and Hickory Dickory!

10. Learn more in a museum.

You can visit the well-known Nelson Atkins Museum of Art for free, and the lawn is beautiful! I would also highly recommend the National World War One Museum, which is pretty incredible. The Liberty Memorial is located here, and offers the best view of the KC skyline and downtown. You can also check out the Jazz Museum or Negro Leagues Baseball Museum if you'd like some KC history!

11. Have worlds (or oceans) of fun at a theme park.

Just north of the river, you'll find Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, a theme park and water park respectively. One ticket gets you into both parks. Be sure to ride the Mamba and the Prowler! Schlitterbahn and Great Wolf Lodge are other water parks in the area, and are located near the Legends in Kansas City, KS.

12. Visit as many fountains as you can.

With over 100 fountains within the city and its suburbs, Kansas City truly is the "city of fountains". Check out this link for a map of them all, and a list of their locations (with addresses). You can even go on guided tours or walking tours specific to fountains! (See more about walking tours below!)

Travel Giveaway and Walking Tours! 

One of my favorite ways to explore any city is by walking, especially when it doesn't cost me money! Although KC is pretty spread out, there are still several places (especially downtown) to go on some amazing walks. I recently got the chance to try out a few of the Kansas City walking tours from GPSmyCity, and they were a blast. They tell you where to go, what you're seeing, and the history behind it. The app also includes a city map, custom walks, and a list of attractions that are near you. Here are examples of what you'll see on the app.

What the app shows as KC sightseeing walks. On the right, the "Downtown Nightlife" route info and sights.
Each "sight" provides you with more information. You can also see each of the stops for the walk on the map!
 If you're visiting KC or any other new city, and are hoping to hit several highlights while knowing what you're actually looking at, I've got the perfect giveaway for you. Just complete items from the the giveaway list below, and you'll be entered to win a free GPSmyCity travel app to the city of your choice! They work for both Android and iOS. The contest runs through next week, so don't forget to enter soon! I've got 20 freebies to giveaway, and I'll be sharing more of how I used the app once we return from San Francisco.  Good luck, y'all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
If I've talked you into coming to KC, you can even stay with us at our Airbnb listing! I'd love to meet you in person. Send in a request and let me know you're coming from the blog for a little discount :) Have fun!

Currently,
Kelsie

Friday, May 20, 2016

Five on Friday: Planes, Paint Wars, & Packing

Friday is here, and this one is especially significant because it's the last Friday I'll be at school for a loooong time. Hello, summer: my absolute favorite time of year. I know some people frown upon teachers who get summers off, but let me tell you: we desperately need it. I love my kids, but teaching is a lot more work than you may assume, not to mention all of the "non-contract time" work that we put in without extra pay. Summer is the perfect time to unwind and recharge for a new crops of kiddos. Here's how we're ringing in this new season!


1. Paint Wars! 

Every year in YoungLife, we have a fun little year-end event we like to call "Paint Wars". Basically, it involves kids showing up, listening to some music, taking "Before and After" photos, and getting completely and utterly covered with paint, paint powder, you name it. It's a fun little getaway, a study break during finals, and a celebration of the end of another school and YoungLife year! Check out the rest of the fun photos here. Next up is camp in July at the beautiful Crooked Creek Ranch!



2. Goodbye, Classroom

Every year we have to pack up all of the books and items in our room so that they can move them out and wax the floors. It's this weird process where the room starts looking lonely and empty for the last few days of class (and is even more weird on the years we have to take our things off the walls too)! On the plus side- many of my students had sweet, fun things to say in their final essays: that we were like a family, that they had learned to challenge themselves instead of going for an easy A, and that they were going to miss my class. They may be slightly brown-nosing, but hey. This is what keeps us teacher folks going: what our classrooms are all about!

3. Hello, Adventure

Another thing I'm packing up is my suitcase. I can't believe we'll be off on our San Fran/Napa Valley journey in just a few days. I'm beyond excited to relax and enjoy some much needed away time with my hubby. What a way to ring in the end of the school year. I've had a few recommendations on places to visit or eat at, but if you've got any other San Fran/Napa/Disney/Jamaica/Niagara Falls advice, feel free to leave it in the comments below. Going to be a pretty awesome end of May and June!

My trusty REI pack and home to all my clothes on our 16 day European Adventure! 

4. Ready to Read (for Fun!)

With all the travel we've got coming up, I'm looking forward to actually reading for fun for a change! It's hard to find time during the school year, but I'll have plenty of time to read this summer on planes, in the car, and on the beach. Hit me up with some book recommendations! I've got a few on my list, but am looking to add more!

5. KC Fun + Giveaway

I've got a super stinkin' fun post coming to you Monday, and I'm excited to be offering a little giveaway for you travel lovers. Let's just say that I'm giving you a good glimpse into our awesome city, along with links and a few fun videos. Stay tuned, and don't forget to enter next week!

Cheers to summer livin' and lovin' with those you love most! Have a wonderful weekend!

Currently,
Kelsie

I'm linking up with A. Liz Adventures The Diary of a Real HousewifeUniquely UnfoldedGrace and Love Blog,  Running for Cupcakesand Life in Leggings.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Alder Collective Link Party #29

I can't believe this is the last week of school! We've only got about three days left, and I couldn't be more excited for the start of summer. Travel has been on my mind lately, and I've been finally getting around to sharing the last bit of our spring break adventure. If you missed my post on The Northeast Road Trip, be sure to check it out (and laugh about our silly state sign selfies!). Can't wait to see what you'll be linking up this week. Have a wonderful day!

Currently,
Kelsie

 Welcome to Party #29! We'll be taking next week off, but be sure to come link up with again on Tuesday, May 31!
  The Alder Collective Link Party

Welcome to The Alder Collective Link Party! We're so happy you stopped by to show off your stuff. A friendly reminder before we jump into the party: make sure you're visiting at least as many posts as you're linking up. This party is no fun if you don't see traffic and comments from it. Now check out what your hosts have been up to this week:
  The Alder Collective Link Party
Each week, we'll pin every link to the Alder Collective Link Party Pinterest board, where it will be seen by thousands of people. Here are our favorite links from last week's party:

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Northeast Road Trip

In case you missed it, Aaron and I went on a rockin' adventure in the Northeast for our spring break this year. We are on a quest to visit and take a photo together in every state in the US (and I'm assembling them into our state photo map). We've got a good chunk completed at this point, thanks to our 2014 spring break trip to the southeast, our 2015 spring break trip to the southwest, and this year's northeast adventure. In the last month or so, I shared a Boston Travel Guide and a New York City Travel Guide. These two guides showcase how we spent our first four days of the trip. After that, we went on probably one of the most beautiful road trips I've ever been on through Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and upstate New York. Here are some ideas, tips, and funny photos to give you some guidance on the perfect Northeast road trip.


I'll start with a bit of a disclaimer: we only had about eight days to work with because of our week of spring break (we're teachers, if you didn't know). Because of this time limitation, as well as our goal of seeing all of the states and taking state signs pictures, we didn't spend a ton of time in each of these places. In fact, in some states all we did was drive in, take a picture, and leave. Sorry 'bout it, Maine. We'll hopefully be back to visit some of these places later on in more depth, but for this trip, we focused some of our days in Boston and NYC, then built our road trip schedule around seeing the other states and making a nice loop.

We flew into Baltimore, because it was the cheapest place to both fly and rent a car. It's also conveniently in between DC and Baltimore. We drove immediately to Philadelphia to stay for the night, and crossed a couple of state signs off our list right away. We then got up in the morning and made the drive to NYC, then on to Boston a few days later. Check out the other posts mentioned above for more info on those places!

Once we left Boston, we drove into Maine, and then through New Hampshire. For a trip like this, you'll want to be sure that you actually do drive into each state so you can find those precious state signs and say you've been there. Here's a picture of our overall route, along with a link to the directions.


It may sound crazy, but 20 hours is probably the LEAST we've ever driven on these crazy, super fun circular road trips. For the record, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are absolutely GORGEOUS. We spent several hours driving on Highway 9 from Maine to Syracuse, NY. This is also known as the "Molly Stark Byway", so you'll pass through historical places like Bennington with lots of battlefields if you're a history buff. It was probably one of my most favorite drives ever. So beautiful, mountainy, rugged, and open. Love, love, loved it and would highly recommend.




A little stop through in Vermont at a cute little convenient shop where we bought actual Vermont maple syrup. They sell it everywhere! 
 After we finished up this beautiful, historical part of our drive, we continued on back through New York to Syracuse. It was a little rainy, but we did have time to visit the Syracuse campus and shop for a little bit at the HUGE Destiny USA indoor mall and shopping center. After shopping, we headed over to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for some of the best barbecue I've ever had- which is saying a lot because I'm from KC!
Sorry for the low quality...check out all this food! 
I can't say enough good things about Dinosaur Bar-B-Que! They had live music which was super good and fun, friendly servers, and amazing food in huge portions. I got the Carolina pulled pork sandwich with the to-die-for mac and cheese. Seriously, get the mac and cheese. Aaron got the combo option where you can pick any two from the list of meats. We complimented the food to the manager and she even gave us a free cookbook where they give you access to almost all of their recipes, including their "Not Your Momma's" sauce. I've cooked a few things from it and they were super good!  Here's a link to the Syracuse specific menu. Thee are other Dinosaur Bar-B-Que locations across the Northeast, as well as in Chicago. Seriously, give them a try- they aren't top-ranked on TripAdvisor for nothing.

Source and Article: Syracuse.com
To finish up our trip, we headed in to Washington DC, before flying out from Baltimore. Of course, we made sure to get the rest of our state signs in, even if it meant being a little risky and abruptly parking our car in strange places and running over to the street signs. So fun! I'll leave you with a few more state sign photos! 






If you'd like to pull off a road trip like this, hit me up! I'd love to give you some more travel advice and help you pull it off. Also, word to the wise- the Northeast tolls are shockingly frequent and fairly expensive. Make sure you bring an extra $20-30 cash with you to pay tolls. Not kidding! Thanks for checking out this guide. Be sure to check out other travel posts if you've got the travel bug like me!

Currently,
Kelsie

Friday, May 13, 2016

Five on Friday: The Ending of a Chapter

 Around here, May is a "finish line" of sorts: the ending of this chapter, with the start of the next one looming on the horizon. Being teachers allows us to have a real sense of finality and "endings" to years: something that I'm thankful for because I know that's not true of many work worlds. Each new chapter ushers in new experiences, new kids, and new routines, all met with a new sense of experience and confidence. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that each ending makes me strangely emotional at times. We've celebrated the achievements of many this week, and we look forward to their new beginnings with eager optimism and great joy! Here are the highlights.


1. Seniors' Last Day of High School 

One new experience for me this week was saying goodbye to seniors that I actually had in class this year. In the past, I've only taught freshman and sophomores, but I taught AP English Language for the first time this year, so I had juniors and seniors for a change. Several of these seniors were also in my class as sophomores, and many were my NHS officers as well. All that to say, it was a weird, kind of emotional feeling of excitement and pride for them mixed with the strange sensation of seeing their final bell of high school ring, and knowing I won't be seeing them anymore. They're an amazing crew; I'm sad to see them go but super blessed to have shared my days with them!

The seniors counting down to their last bell, well, ever.

2. My Sister's High School Graduation

Another chapter that ended this week was my sister-in-law's high school career. She graduated last night, and she's a rock star: top of her class, super smart, hard-working, beautiful girl. We are thrilled to see all that she'll do in college, and have no doubt that she'll love every second of it, but it will be weird to know that she's not living at home in KC and won't be at church on Sundays. We're so proud of you, Angie!

Loved this girl ever since I was her confirmation mentor four years ago. She's the best.
The whole crew at Baccalaureate. Angie gave the benediction! Also, Aaron's red shirt blends into the lockers.

3. Prom

 Another first for the week was going to prom with my favorite prom date ever: my hubby. We helped chaperone, and rocked the coat room, dessert table, and dance floor. Pretty funny to think that our "first prom" together came on the night that many seniors were celebrating their last high school dance. In case you missed our "prom pic" on Instagram, here it is in all of its glory.

A photo posted by Kelsie Kleinmeyer (@currentlykelsie) on

4.  The 2015-2016 School Year

We've all but wrapped up this school year, teacher friends. This is the end of year FIVE for me, and I honestly can't even believe I've been out of college for more than two. Crazy to think that I'll come back tenured on the first day of year six. I have some pretty awesome kiddos that I can't say enough great things about, but I'm still super ready for a break. I also get this weird sense of "Gosh, I'm going to miss them. They've been so fun" mixed with "Gosh, I'm ready for a break and a new schedule". But all in all, I leave every year thinking the thoughts I have in this Letter to My Students. Should I share it with them on the last day?


5. A June Adventure

As some of you may know if you follow along on Facebook, we have quite the summer of travel planned out. Right when school ends, we'll be going to San Fran and Napa Valley- thanks to those of you who chimed in with some advice. The exciting updates for the week are our finalized plans for what has quickly turned into our June "adventure". We'll be jetting down to Orlando and spending a couple of days in the parks (booked Disney last night!!), then flying down to a relaxing Jamaican all-inclusive on the beach, then up to Niagara Falls to ride the Maid of the Mist and see Canada, then to Washington DC for my awesome kiddos to compete in National History Day Nationals! Not a bad way to celebrate our third anniversary...am I right?

Looking forward to celebrating year three of marriage with the best guy.

Not every week is glamorous or perfect or full of fun and excitement, but I will say that looking back on these weekly Five on Fridays has helped me to remember each week and to take the time to find joy in the smallest, silliest things like going to prom in our mid-twenties. I am grateful for these moments and memories, and know that with each chapter "ending", a new and exciting chapter is being written. Congratulations to all the high school and college seniors graduating and moving on to new chapters in their lives: you all make us so proud!

Currently,
Kelsie


Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for bonus peeks into the week. You'll see it first there!

Casually trying to indoctrinate her before she comes to Mizzou... :) 
I'm linking up with A. Liz Adventures The Diary of a Real HousewifeUniquely UnfoldedGrace and Love Blog,  Running for Cupcakesand Life in Leggings.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Alder Collective Link Party #28

Welcome back, friends! There are eight days of school left, and this teacher couldn't be happier about it. In just a few short weeks, we will be off to San Francisco and Napa. (If anyone has any great tips, must sees, or must do-s let me know in the comments!) It's been an eventful week. Last Friday I stepped away from the weekly updates to share a post on A Good Good Father. I also am happy to finally have my Boston Travel Guide up as of yesterday. Have a great week: can't wait to see who we'll be featuring next week!

Currently,
Kelsie
  The Alder Collective Link Party

Welcome to The Alder Collective Link Party! We're so happy you stopped by to show off your stuff. A friendly reminder before we jump into the party: make sure you're visiting at least as many posts as you're linking up. This party is no fun if you don't see traffic and comments from it. Now check out what your hosts have been up to this week:

  The Alder Collective Link Party
Each week, we'll pin every link to the Alder Collective Link Party Pinterest board, where it will be seen by thousands of people. Here are our favorite links from last week's party:

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Best of Boston: A Travel Guide

If I had to choose my new favorite Northeastern City.... it would probably have to be Boston. Sure, New York City has the glitz and glamour of a big city, but Boston's got this clean, friendly, historical feel that I just couldn't get enough of. After we hopped off a plane in Baltimore, rented a car, and started our spring break with three days in New York, we drove the three and a half hours for our first experience in Boston. We were in for a treat.

The Best of Boston: A Travel Guide

Aaron and I had a free night to spend at any IHG hotel, so we got the most bang for our buck at the Boston Intercontinental. We drove in that evening, then walked over to Central Wharf to find a bite to eat. Aaron had a delicious pulled pork sandwich, and I had the Cast Iron Statler Chicken which was honestly some of the best, most moist chicken I've ever had. The server was so friendly I felt like we were in the Midwest. He even gave us a free cheesecake dessert (which means the world to this sweet-lovin' lady). Plus they had this sweet "salty" sign (see what I did there) on the wall. Had to snap a photo for all my high schoolers who overuse the word on a consistent basis. (You High School teachers know what I'm talkin' about!)
Central Wharf
Central Wharf
The Boston Intercontinental
We walked back to the hotel after dinner and spotted the waterfront and a few ships just out the back entrance. Little did we know, we were actually staying right next to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. This museum is awesome- you actually get to be in the town hall meeting with other "patriots", get feathers for your "disguise" for the evening, and get to engage in treasons against the mother country by throwing tea into the sea! (See instagram post below.) Our museum tickets actually came as a part of our Old Town Trolley Tours of Boston package, which I would highly, highly recommend!




We really only had one full day in Boston, so to make the most of it we decided to do the Old Town Trolley Tour. It was March, and still quite chilly in Boston, so the special they were running, along with the "double-decker" trolleys made it a no brainer: this was a great, fun way to see things without freezing. It was a bonus that we'd also get a feel for the whole city (past just what we would walk to see), and then we'd know the areas we'd want to come back and see another time! Also, I have to give a little shout out to the tour guides- they are super knowledgeable and made it a really fun hop on, hop off tour. I love knowing what I'm looking at, and hearing some history!


We rode all around the entire city, taking in areas like Beacon Hill, Boston Common, Cambridge, the Back Bay, Fenway Park, the Inner Harbor, and the North, South, and West ends. Check out this great tourist map for an overview of the city. I loved the historical feel of Boston Common and Beacon Hill, and we had to stop for lunch at Cheers (yes, like the show). We also made our way back later in the evening to see the gaslit lamps and to enjoy a little Boston Creme Pie!

Cheers Boston

Fenway Park

If you don't have the money to splurge on the Bus Tour, or if you're there in the warmer summer months and prefer to, you can totally walk all over the city! One super cool thing about Boston is the Freedom Trail! They actually have a red-bricked stripe that runs throughout the city. It's two and a half miles long, and will walk you right by/through 16 historical sites! The trail starts right from the Visitor's Center in the Boston Common area, and then concludes in the Visitor's Center near the USS Constitution! Most of the historical buildings are free of charge, other than Paul Revere's House (yes, THE Paul Revere!). We enjoyed walking the main chunk of it from Boston Common to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which is a great place to shop and eat!

The Freedom Trail

The spot of the Boston Massacre! 
If you think back to middle school American history, Boston is the home of lots of major events such as the Boston Tea Party, Boston Massacre, and various important meeting houses, graveyards, and revolutionary buildings. So cool to see the birthplace of revolution in our great nation!


All in all, Boston was a great city full of yummy seafood, friendly people, and amazing history. There is so much to see and do for families, couples, and people of all ages. If you're looking for the perfect Northeastern City with the right mix of history, fun, shopping, and affordable things to do, you've got to check out Boston. We will definitely be back someday!

Currently,
Kelsie

Are you following along on Instagram and Facebook? We'll be traveling quite a bit this summer, so you can stay in the loop with me (and see all our silly photos first) on social media!

I'm linking up with  Motivational Monday, Modest Mom Blog,  Tell it to Me TuesdayBliss and Faith,  Sweet Little OnesTestimony TuesdayIntentional TuesdayTwinkly TuesdayWomen with IntentionA. Liz Adventures The Diary of a Real HousewifeMomfessionals,Life in Leggings, and Quintessential Mommy.


Friday, May 6, 2016

A Good Good Father

Ever since we started singing it at YoungLife club last fall, I've really loved the worship song "Good Good Father". There is something about the lyrics and their truth that just feels comforting. A powerful reminder that in the midst of life, of suffering, and of struggles, that we are loved by an eternal father who is good. Oh so good.

Every time I stop to reflect upon these words, and to lift them up in worship, it nearly brings me to tears- regardless of the situation I find myself in. Because they are true. He is perfect in all of his ways. Even when we are confused and hurting and so so broken, He is still good. And He always will be.


This week, I'll be leading this song with the worship team. This week, a very dear, sweet, loving wife, mother, and friend from our church was taken to meet the Lord suddenly and unexpectedly. This week, our hearts ache for our brothers and sisters in Christ. It still seems so surreal. Please take a moment to surround the family in prayer, especially her mother, her husband, and her two girls. In the midst of all that our church family is feeling, we rest in the ultimate truth: that God is good- always. He is our father, and we are loved by him. He is always with us. Even in the midst of our hurting, He is there. Perfect in all of his ways. His plans are to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). Though we can't understand it all, we find peace in knowing that the Lord is sovereign. That his plan is ultimately good, and that He knows what we need. That we are loved by him.

If you've never heard the song before, I'd encourage you to listen to it. If you know it by heart, sing along. Hug your loved ones. Laugh and love freely. Cherish your days, and make the most of them. Remember that every second of life is precious, but that ultimately this is not our home. That there is so much more to look and long towards: an eternal life worshipping the Lord and dwelling with Him, our father. And if you're searching for answers, remember that He is the answer. He is the truth. And you are loved, oh so loved.

"Love so undeniable I can hardly speak. Peace so unexplainable I, I can hardly think as you call me deeper still into love, love, love. You're a good good father. It's who you are. It's who you are. It's who you are. And I 'm loved by you. It's who I am." 

If you'd like to talk more about faith or have any questions, please contact me here. I'd love to share more about why I follow Jesus and what He's done to show just how much He loves us all.

Currently,
Kelsie

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Old Chicago Pizza and Tap Room: Shoal Creek

Delicious pizza, amazing mac and cheese, and incredible happy hour deals. If those don't make you feel like giving Old Chicago a try, then I don't know what will. If you're anything like me, it's easy to get stuck in the same old restaurant rut. But about a week ago, Aaron and I got the opportunity to visit Old Chicago Shoal Creek. The restaurant chain has been around since 1976 when it started in Boulder, Colorado, but this particular restaurant is new to the area, and is located near Liberty, right off of 152. Aaron visits for happy hour, but we had never gone for the full experience. Until now.


From the very start, we were very pleased with the environment and service.  The place was packed, but we were still seated right away, and warmly greeted by the manager. There were 16 TVs in the bar, and three more in the dining area, so it's definitely a great place to watch the game with friends. They also have an amazing outdoor patio space with a garage door that opens up to let fresh air into the restaurant. There are also umbrellas if you're a shade person. Our waiter, Hugo, truly tended to our every need with just the right mix of attentiveness and personality. 

Outdoor area with garage door that opens up into the restaurant.

Drinks

We stuck with an Arnold Palmer and an iced tea, but they do offer a huge lineup of world class beers. They offer daily $3 craft beer pints and $4 crafted cocktails (see the list here). And if you're a night owl, come from 10 to close every night and you can enjoy $2 PBR cans, $3 pints of anything, $4 wine and call drinks, and $5 you call it. You can even join the OC Rewards program to try out the World Beer Tour and earn rewards along the way!

Appetizers

Oh. My. Goodness. Anyone else out there who can totally eat apps for a meal? We just had to try the Sicilian Pizza Rolls, served with fresh marinara and house made ranch. They were seriously so good and cheesy, and the dough was cooked to perfection.

Sicilian Pizza Rolls
We also had to sample the new Bacon and Cheddar Mac and Cheese Bites. If you're a mac and cheese lover, you've GOT to give these a go. Served with a delicious beer cheese dipping sauce and spicy Sriracha ketchup, they were just the right mix of crispy and delectably cheesy.
Bacon and Cheddar Mac and Cheese Bites

  Entrees: Pizza + Mac and Cheese

 As if we even had room for all of it, our main courses arrived. A half Meat Me, half Chicago 7 pizza on Chicago thick crust couldn't have been better. We took most of it home for the next day's lunch, but I would highly recommend both of them. Chicago 7 is similar to a supreme, and Meat Me is your "meat-lovers". They also have pizza made with white and pesto sauces, if you're looking for something a little different.


We couldn't leave without giving the mac and cheese a try. We landed on the Chicken Pesto, which was probably one of my favorite things we ate, but they also do "craft your own" mac and cheese. You can order the sauce, stir-ins, add-ins, and toppings! If you're not feeling pizza when you visit, go with the mac and cheese!


Dessert

It doesn't matter how full I am, I can always make room for dessert. Anyone with me? Brownie Bites were new and highly recommended, so we splurged a bit. Boy, am I grateful we did. These brownie bites were lightly fried on the outside, oh-so soft and moist on the inside, and topped with caramel and just a hint of powdered sugar. Give them a dunk in the chocolate fudge sauce and I'd say you have pretty much the perfect dessert.


We left with full bellies, large to-go boxes, and an overall amazing experience at Old Chicago. I know we will definitely be back to take advantage of the happy hour (3-6 pm Mon thru Fri) and late night specials (including $2 one-topping pizzas!). They also have some great pizza/calzone and salad lunch specials for only $7.99. Whether you're out with the guys, your other half, or even celebrating with the family, Old Chicago is definitely worth a stop. Check out their website, or like them on Facebook. You won't be disappointed. Happy eating!

Currently,
Kelsie