Topeka Winery

I figure I might as well show you a teeny midwest winery in the heart of Kansas’ capital city before we start in on the big ‘uns. We had moved to Topeka in the early 90s and, let’s just say, it’s very pretty… at night. You know, when you can’t see as much. I feel the same about Wichita and, honestly, most of the bigger towns in Arkansas. Not much there for me to grab onto.

But look at this oasis!

We were in town for a wedding and Juice suggested we swing by here beforehand.

I mean, it even has a rusted-out knight.

The best part is the tiny cellar. You have to walk downstairs to the tasting area and take a photo with your friend, not realizing that the photo being taken was probably the last one before you quit dying your hair. You’ll look back on that photo with a sense of longing. I actually looked my age in it. Wow.

The guy working the counter was really excited to have visitors as it was only the second weekend open. He was eager to discuss the wine and let us try as much as we wanted.

A cute place if you’re in the area!

Warm Weather

I am so ready for sitting under bright skies, soaking in the sun.

So much sun that you  need a long-sleeved shirt to keep the chill from your glass of white away later that evening.

Oh, yes I’m ready.

Mornings at Mom and Dad’s

One of the things I most enjoy about living away from my family are the visits home. Before, we all lived in the same city. R & I would go over for a few hours and then leave. And it was always for an event, it seemed. There was always a lot of people and not a lot of one-on-one time.

But now we get to stay the night and, to me, that is so much more special. Especially the mornings.

We wake up early and file into the living room reading the paper or knitting, discussing current events or the Bible. I love those mornings and hate to hear the clock chime noon.

Well, I hate it until I realize it’s lunchtime. Then I’m happy again.

I think it was rigged.

Recently, my brother asked me how R and I like Arkansas. Well. We love it.

I literally stepped foot into the state for the first time, ummm, about 2 weeks before we moved there. We all had our barefoot and pregnant jokes, I was expecting to relive Deliverance, and R was afraid he’d lose his teeth. But oh how wrong we were.

The in-laws and I had gone on a Buffalo River canoeing trip. This was when I went on a tour of R’s family homestead, which you can read about that here and when we climbed up on the tower which you can read here. On the way to Gilbert, Arkansas, I rolled down the window, stared at the countryside and just longed to be near it. It was instant love.

Not to mention these little drives under canopies of trees. I mean, can’t you just picture me with a carpet bag riding in a buggy?

So we dumped off our luggage and went into town (I use that word loosely — there is a general store and cafe. That’s it. Awesome. No, I mean really, I thought it was awesome. No sarcasm.)

J, R’s mom, and I were surrounded by two generations of brothers. Scary.

We jumped into our canoes and took off. This was another instance in which R & I barely escaped a canoeing incident without a divorce. I think I was so overwhelmed by the beauty that peace was closer at hand.

We stopped midway down to take a dip in the icy water. N was the sole brave one to wade all the way in. So we had the brilliant idea of skipping rocks near his head for him to goalie. Don’t ask. Maybe it’s an Arkansas thing.

Later that evening we came home, where I made a pasta dish using cilantro instead of parsley. I cannot explain what I was thinking. For some reason I had it in my head that cilantro was what we needed. I’ve got a long way to go in the kitchen.

We played poker and clowned around on the beams.

It was such a nice weekend and completely sold me on what would be my new home.

I’m still sold.


I’m out of town this week (Spring Break) to visit old friends on the west coast. The girl that is coming along for the first part is always up for anything, so I know it should be interesting. In the meantime, I’ve gone back through some old photos and shared a few that I like, along with other stories I hadn’t written about yet.

For instance, this.

Who wouldn’t want an old Coke freezer, housing coke bottles, on which you could pop the cap off of one? Can you picture this on a sunny, hot day? Oh, how glorious.

Gravy – Fail.

I’d like to make a good biscuits and gravy. There’s one snag though.

I have no clue what I’m doing.

It doesn’t help that I have my mom’s voice in my head saying how gravy is the one thing she is nervous about making. I know you’re rolling your eyes, mom. I remember positive things you say as well…they’re just not as fun to talk about, though.

So here is my first foray in this gravy business. And yes, I cheated by using frozen biscuits. Carolyn can not try two new things at once. The circuits in her brain will explode and R will have to clean that as well as the laundry.

Let’s keep the chores to a minimum, thank you.

Any gravy makers out there? Did I not brown it enough? How much flour should I add? I used my saved bacon grease but just glopped some in the pan without measuring. Is there a good tried-and-true recipe you’ve used? What about pepper? I pulled an Alice in Wonderland scene and peppered ourselves right out of the dorm room. Too much? Too little?


The eggs were alright.


There’s been an update in the dorm room bedroom.

Yes, we are still sleeping in a loft bed a la an eighteen year old child in college.

But we didn’t feel we were utilizing all of the wall space possible.

These are the dorm room dressers before. We ended up selling the dark brown and keeping the white one. The trunk had been moved to the living room as a coffee table. We created a makeshift recycling center under the loft.

I’ve finally admitted that I am quick to sell items when I’m bored with them and then I replace immediately. Why not try to find another use for it and save money? For that reason, I kept the white dresser and moved it to a new resting place.

We bought a bakers rack and some storage boxes to fill up with both of our clothes. The rack fit perfectly in the corner next to the loft bed and opened up the room.

Plus, later, when we have real dressers (which at this point, getting out of this darn apt is a pipe dream), we can use the storage boxes for, dare I say, vegetable storage?

You know, right next to our dairy kitchen and north-facing cellar. Sigh. I want a mini-farm so badly.

Here’s the new home for whitey.  I’m not a fan of the detail on top of the dresser, so I hid it with the bread box. Not sure if it’s going to stay there, but I’m too lazy to move it right now.

I’m using this dresser for linens and blankets. And it has opened up the trunk to store less-used items.

Go Dorm Room!

J and T’s 30th Birthday Party

I don’t know where the nickname Juice came from, nor did I invent it for her. But I was introduced to her in college with that name and it’s still stuck in my head. She and I ran around in the same group our last year at KSU and she was also living with a group of R’s friends. The first night I met her, I stayed up all night dancing watching people from the wallflower section of the dancefloor. The next morning I woke up next to people I only vaguely knew and she immediately made plans with me to eat breakfast where R was waiting tables.

Just like that. She’s just a tad friendly.

But little did I know how creative she was until we slowly became better friends.

She’s quirky and in my world, quirky = cool.

You know, people who aren’t concerned with what others think of them. I’m still trying to get there, but I have come long strides since my early 20s. This blog has helped.

So, she and her husband T (who both also did the Adventure Race with us back in November – click link here), both turned 30 recently and wanted to celebrate. They invited their friends and paid their way for a night of 80s Roller Rink Fun-o-rama.

And we made it just in time for the Limbo. whew!

Each of us took our turns getting reaccustomed to roller skating. I don’t think any of us had skated within the past 10 years, so the whole “balance” thing was a foreign idea.

Well, except for Juice.

She’s been practicing to join the local Roller Derby Team.

Anyway, some of us pushed off the wall and hoped to slow down at the Limbo line.

While others had to be helped by an outstretched hand. Eventually we all made it. It took an hour.

Now, this first experience on wheels really tested you. The length from the line to the actual limbo pole is, oh, about 20 miles. No, seriously.

I wanted to cry, it was so scary.

It was like your first jump off the high-dive. Once you started, there was no turning back.

So instead of actually skating, I did one little push and then bent over. I don’t think my head even cleared it.

The failure was promptly blamed on my high ponytail.

Then it was R’s turn.

Oh, R.

He started off with feet parallel to each other and then somehow one foot started to split off and he couldn’t pull them back together. So the only option was to go with it.

Hopefully he can still sire children after that. It was painful to watch.

After our first run on the rink we were already sore.

R and N stretched it out for a bit….

While I chomped on Pop Rocks, provided by the hostess, and watched the show on the rink.

Every two seconds you heard someone scream and then bones breaking.

Like these three. I hope the horizontal guy is okay.

R stayed near anyone with a helmet thinking he could just fall on them and avoid the cement. Good thing this guy had one too. Man, he wiped out hard several times, causing the ‘referee’ (what are those guys called – bouncer? chaperone?) to blow his whistle and check on him.

It was awesome.

Others just breezed on by without a care in the world. Juice called ahead to ask if she could wear those fast special skates. They said yes.

What a show off.

We were jealous of her skills.

But I bet you’re jealous of my mad braking skills. That’s right ya’all. I could eat your brake for brakefest.

…and with that pun I bid you good night.

Later on, we skated the birthday girl into the bathroom (appropriately decked out in daisies) for a birthday toast. There’s something so liberating about having skates on while going pee. I’m not going to delve into that thought process, but I felt liberated.

We hung out for awhile until we were busted by the rink patrol. They were cool, thank goodness, and tsk-tsked us back to the rest of the group.

It was no use explaining to them that the bathroom break was necessary to..

do this.

Yikes. This should’ve been a recipe for disaster, but we both held on strong and whirled around. That was the thing I was most looking forward doing…. Spinning in the middle of the floor.

This had to be on of the most fun parties I’ve been to. We even broke out our Thriller dance when the song came on.

On SKATES, people.

And now I also want to take up skating as exercise… Forget running, people, skating will kill your thighs.

But it won’t kill your fond childhood memories. It only enhances them.

We used to do the Hokey Pokey, the coin toss, races and a bunch of other things. But I bet you all have some memories of your own.

Share if you’d like, I’m all ears.

Range of Emotions

Okay, before we get started, I want to make sure you keep your eyes on R the whole time. Otherwise, you’ll go stir crazy. Our local library has a little corner in which they sell used books, so our bookshelves have kind of exploded and we’ve yet to organize. Also, there’s a little wire behind our computer that I cannot seem to keep tucked into our 50’s style roadside find.

(psssst, that is one of my favorite styles in furniture).

Anyway, that darn wire haunts me. It’s like the little spider in the Bernstein Bears books.

So now that you are focused on R, I have to mention how much I like watching games with him. When he gets excited he does this little karate kick, double punch thing while yelling our alma mater’s name. I wasn’t fast enough to catch it, but it happens.

Last night we played KU. And we lost. The game gave me an ulcer.

R’s emotions ranged from jubilation to hopefulness to disbelief to annoyance.

Let’s watch.

Sad night.

Noise relaxes me. I say noise instead of just music, but it’s not always music. More often than not it’s a random action repeated over and over live, I guess. Instead of recorded.

For example, one time I heard someone cutting paper with scissors. Nothing special, just a person doing a mundane task. But the sound of those scissors going through that paper instantly relaxed me. Slice and then clip, Slice…clip, Slice…clip. Its as though my ears blocked out all of the traffic, finally settling on just one. I could have sat there all day listening to those scissors.

It could be how someone chews their gum or leaves crunching under my shoes. It could be the sounds of a vacuum or wind whistling through trees. Or, in my latest youtube obsession, the sound of cooking utensils being moved about while making various recipes.

But it happens a lot. And in the weirdest of places.

Like on our way home from visiting my brother: a woman was reading a book, circling phrases and words that she wanted to remember. First, it was the calm movement of her hands that caught my eye.

Yes, I am the weirdo taking photos of a random woman’s hands.

But then I heard it. The scratchy sound of pencil on paper, followed by an occasional erase and then finally a swipe of the shavings. I almost asked R to change seats, just so I could close my eyes and let the sound envelope me.

Does that ever happen to you? Or am I alone in this secret world of noises.