Giving Instead of Receiving with the KC Pet Project

KC Pet Project Kittens

This year for Lucy’s birthday, we decided to change things up a bit. While we are so grateful to our friends and family for all the amazing gifts they bestow upon our kids, we are full to the brim with stuff. My kids don’t need anything, really. So instead of asking people to bring gifts to Lulu’s birthday party, we asked them to bring donations for the animals of the KC Pet Project!

KC Pet Project

We are a family of animal-lovers, and are proud that all of our pets, both past and present, have been adopted through local shelters. We love the KC Pet Project, because it’s the largest no-kill animal shelter in the area. The shelter cares for over 9,000 animals a year! I contacted the KC Pet Project and told them about Lucy’s donations, and they were kind enough to give the kids and I a tour of their facility. We brought along a friend of Lucy’s who is also a big animal fan (especially kittens!), and we were able to see the cat and kitten room, the veterinary recovery wing and the dog area. The entire operation is so amazing, and we are super grateful we were able to help out in our small way. Lucy’s friends and family really stepped up, and we were able to donate a couple bags of dog and cat food and toys!

To learn more about the KC Pet Project, and to learn how you can help, please visit their website or follow them on Facebook!

Strawberry Fields Forever

All season I’ve been wanting to take my kids to a local strawberry farm and pick our own berries. After several weeks (and weekends!) of non-stop events and end-of-school activities, this past weekend we finally had our chance. While the unseasonably cool weather has kept us away from most of our summer staples like our daily swimming pool trips, it was just perfect for a day picking strawberries! Each of the kids had their own pallet, and it of course turned into a race of who could pick the most.

Kansas City Photographer Strawberry Picking

Kansas City Photographer Strawberry Picking

Kansas City Photographer Strawberry Picking

Kansas City Photographer Strawberry Picking

The staff at Wohletz Farm Fresh were friendly and greeted us with big smiles! Once we arrived and grabbed our pallets, they led us to a section of the strawberry patch that they blocked off just for us. The kids had so much fun digging through the plants to find the ripe, red berries (the redder, the better!). I think they would have stayed all day if I’d let them. Although the strawberry picking season is almost over, I would definitely put this on my to do list every May. The team at Wohletz told us this week would probably be the last week for picking, so if you haven’t been out yet, get going! You can check their Facebook page for updates on when the patch is open to guests.

Kansas City Photographer Strawberry Picking

Kansas City Photographer Strawberry Picking

Kansas City Photographer Strawberry Picking

Kansas City Photographer Strawberry Picking

Kansas City Photographer Strawberry Picking

Kansas City Photographer Strawberry Picking

Blog Conference Essentials

This Friday and Saturday is the Go Blog Social Conference, and I couldn’t be more bummed that I’m missing it! Unfortunately, due to a few family obligations and work commitments, I wasn’t able to attend this year, but I know everyone there will have a fantastic time and learn so much from all the creatives presenting. I’ve been to a few blogging conferences and workshops (including Alt Summit and the Go Blog Social Workshop last month) and I thought it might help out some conference newbies to see what I carried in my bag to my last few events. These are my absolute blog conference essentials!

Conference Bag Essentials

I carry my leather tote from Madewell pretty much everywhere. It’s been my go-to for years, serving as a laptop bag, diaper bag, travel bag, grocery bag and everything in between! Inside I decided to pack a small, cross-shoulder purse (from H&M years ago) in case I wanted to ditch all my stuff, but still carry my phone and wallet. I have to take notes in a real notebook, so I always carry a small spiral or two (this one is the Studio Oh! Spiral Notebook, Sweet Garden), along with the best pens in the universe, Sharpie pens…medium point. Don’t be fooled by substitutes, these pens are AMAZING. I may have a problem, I think I am a little too excited about my pens. Oh well.

I brought along my iPad Mini, although I will admit, I barely used it. I did look up some people’s blogs in between sessions, but I probably could have done that on my phone if needed. By the way, I used my iPhone 6 to take this photo, so it’s not included in the image. But I love it (and my cute case from Ampersand Design Studio)! I also brought my A Beautiful Mess Planner, which I carried in case I had post ideas and I wanted to check my editorial calendar and upcoming blog topics. I do all of my blog scheduling in this planner, because I’m way too visual to do it on a phone or computer-based calendar. I’m old school, I suppose, but it works for me. I also brought along business cards and my promotional postcards for my photography business. You will trade A LOT of business cards at events like Go Blog Social, so be sure you have a good stash to hand out.

As I’m a photographer, I always bring my DSLR camera along. I also brought along my lens pen
to do quick clean ups. I am that dork who always has food stuck in her teeth, so I threw some Colgate Wisp brushes in my bag for touch ups after meals. I also brought my Honest hand sanitizer, which is the only brand I use these days because it doesn’t sting my hands. I don’t usually carry much makeup in my bag, so I stuck with my basics, my Neutrogena concealer, my Charlotte Ronson lip stain (which is no longer available, wah!) and my Rosebud Salve
lip balm. Oh look, more hand sanitizer! Yep, I love that stuff.

I brought along a little bottle of lavender oil because I was feeling a little nervous about being in a room full of cool, smart women and feeling like a dork. Lavender helps chill me out, and I am glad I had it with me to ground my crazy. I also brought along a phone charger just in case I couldn’t find an outlet (happened) and my phone lost it’s juice (also happened…lots of Instagramming!). I have a few of these little floral pouches from J. Crew, and I use them to hold all the loose items in my bag (pens, lipstick, etc.). I also brought along a protein bar, because when I get hungry, it’s not pretty. I had a water bottle as well, but it appears it didn’t quite make it into the post-conference photo.

I hope this helps some of you who aren’t sure what to bring along in your bag this weekend! Just remember, the most important thing you can bring is yourself and an open mind. You’re going to learn so much, but it can be overwhelming, so make sure to get plenty of rest and take care of yourself! Have fun!

NYC + KC : Love

nyc+kc love

Another month has passed, which means it’s been another month of NYC + KC! I’m still loving this project so much. My best friend (who lives in New York City) and I (in Kansas City) are posting a photo each day of something in our little universe, and every month we have a new theme (if you want to learn more about the NYC + KC project, click here). I must admit, I did miss a day in February…I just got caught up and totally forgot to post. I knew it would happen eventually, but I’m all about progress, not perfection, so I’m okay with it. I uploaded my image the next day after a little nudging text from Theresa, my partner in this exercise. February’s theme was love, and I have to say, it’s pretty amazing to be doing a project where every day you find something you love to take a photo of and share with the world! It makes for a pretty beautiful month! Some of our favorite images of love from February are below, and wow, it was hard to pick just a few to share. There was lots to love!

nyc+kc love

Be sure to follow along with the NYC + KC Project on Instagram at @nycpluskc! And if you want to play along, we’d love to have you. Thanks to everyone who joined in last month. The theme for March is “happy,” so share those happy images and use the hashtag #nycpluskc so we can see them!

I Love Kansas City : Date Night

Date NightThis year instead of resolutions, our family worked together to come up with some overarching goals that we could work on continuously through the year. With my new business, Trent’s hectic work schedule and two kids with lots of activities, we knew that creating a list of resolutions to check off probably wouldn’t be very successful. I’ve talked about our family goal plan before, and one of our goals that we have carried through to 2015 was having more date nights. Trent and I both spent the last few years in a crazy flurry of activity, and while we achieved a lot, our relationship suffered. So we made a pact to spend more time together as a couple…not as parents or business partners, but as a married team.

While I know the idea of “date night” is sort of a cliche, I have to say, it’s really worked for us. Getting out of our routines and ruts has helped us to reconnect and learn more about each other. This weekend we celebrated 13 years since our first date, and while the core of who we are is the same, people change A LOT in 13 years. If we don’t spend time alone together, we can forget to keep learning, and before we know it, we don’t recognize the person standing in front of us.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a few of our date night activities, in case you’re looking the break out of a rut in your own relationship. We’ve had quite a few dates that fell a bit flat, but here are our top choices for a rad date night in Kansas City.

Eating Spots
We have tried so many restaurants and eateries on our date nights, but a few definitely stick out as favorites. The Farmhouse is delicious and while I’d eaten there for work lunches on several occasions, we’d never tried it out for a romantic dinner. We also loved Le Fou Frog, which is only open for dinner. I had the Filet Le Fou and it was incredible. The Rieger Hotel is probably next on the list, because their location is so cool and historic. I’m a dessert girl, and The Devil’s Food Cake is amazing.

Stuff to Do
We are working on being more open to new experiences and getting out of the old “dinner and a movie” routine. One fun thing we did this year was join the Kansas City Theater League, which gave us tickets to the Kansas City Broadway Series, a set of traveling Broadway companies bringing their shows to Kansas City. So far we’ve seen Chicago and Book of Mormon, and we think it’s probably some of the best money we’ve spent this year. We have two more shows left this season, and we think we’re going to buy next season too! Other favorite date night spots are The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Union Station, where we enjoy seeing the traveling exhibitions (like King Tut!).

Do you have any favorite date night spots? Places to eat? Activities? I’d love to get some new ideas to add to our list!

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