Kansas City, let’s go steady

I’m from Texas. Part of my heart will always belong to the Lone Star State. But I have a confession.

I’ve been having an affair with Kansas City, and it might be getting serious.

I’ve written before of my love/hate relationship with the place I’ve called home for going on four years. There’s plenty to do, but the weather aggravates me. The Kansas Prairie has given me a best friend whom I love like a sister, but I’ve also met some really craptastic people. The BBQ is amazing, but there’s no Wienerschnitzel.

There’ve been many, many moments over the years that I’ve wanted to throw my hands up in the air, burn down the house and move back to Texas. I pine for my family sometimes. There are occasions where I’d like to climb to the top of the Liberty Memorial and shoot the whole city the finger.

But there are also times like these.

Times where I see how beautiful the city can be when it struggles to experience a rebirth. Times where I drive down one of our scenic highways and breathe deeply of the clean air. Times where it seems like the city unites into a family against a common enemy. (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Robinson Cano.)

This weekend, I expected to be bummed and depressed. I expected to be missing my family now that they had gone back to Texas and to be worried sick about their recovery after the accident.

And on Friday night, I was. I wallowed a bit.

But then my husband came home with two tickets for the All Star Game Fan Fest, and…I wallowed ever harder.

“Man, eff baseball,” I thought. “I don’t even like it that much. And the Royals are terrible.”

But I went, mostly because of the shining joy in my husband’s eyes when he talked about who and what would be there. And I had a surprisingly great time.

We took lots of silly pictures, got to see a few of the women who played ball during WWII – I totally teared up during this, those women are amazing – and hubs got to test drive a Chevy Volt.

We ended up with bags of swag (that word makes me laugh) and my husband got a new hat and had fancy ASG logos put on it right then and there. He was on cloud nine, and I was thrilled to see him so happy.

The Monkey had a pretty great time too.

Then today while hubs was at work Monkey and I met some friends at the zoo who we hadn’t seen in over a month. The weather had finally cooled off and the clouds gave welcome relief from the sun. As I walked the miles between the cages and enclosures, I felt like I belonged.

No, not at the zoo, smartass.

I felt like I was at my zoo. In my city. That I wasn’t just a tourist. I wasn’t just passing through.

I felt a feeling of permanence, and it didn’t make me go running for the closest exit.

Later that day, I got the good news that a Freebirds was finally open in our area. It was just a “preview” opening, but for a $5 donation to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, you could get an entrée and drink.

We had to wait in line, of course, but the whole experience was a freakin’ blast. It was breezy, everyone was in a great mood, and the atmosphere inside the restaurant was as one would expect at a Freebirds – funky and fun.

When we got home to eat our burritos, we sat down to watch the Home Run Derby on TV. There was quite a bit of controversy concerning Cano and his remarks about choosing Billy Butler to hit for the AL, then not choosing him after all. Then he made a comment about loving to come to KC because there were always more Yankees fans in the stadium than KC fans.

And that pissed me right off.

I wasn’t the only one either. A sea of powder and royal blue booed Cano as he stepped up to the plate and hit ZERO home runs during the derby. They cheered every time a hit fell short.

And yeah, it was rude of them to do that. But they were rallying around something important – not just a sporting event.

People here are proud of their city. Sure, they bitch about it from time to time. They fight and make up with it, just like family – and nobody talks shit about your family.

I was proud of KC tonight. I was proud that they didn’t just sit there and twiddle their thumbs and put up with yet another insult. I was proud that they had a little fire in ‘em, a little attitude.

I’m proud to be one of them. I’m proud to be a Kansas Citian.

More KC love here.

In the Kitchen: Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad

Man, it’s hot.

It’s hotter than two squirrels screwing in a wool sock. It’s so hot birds have to pull worms out of their holes with potholders.

It’s SO hot that I tied my mule in a field of corn, and the corn started popping and the mule thought it was snow and froze to death!

Just kidding. I don’t have a mule. Or corn. But damn, it’s hot.

I don’t remember the last time I turned on the oven, in fact. Everything we’ve eaten this summer (since mid-June at least) has either been nuked to within an inch of it’s life, slightly warmed over on the stove top or prepared by a chef in someone else’s kitchen.

Actually, I did end up having to boil some water the other day. I glared at the fire under the pot though, and I can tell you that a watched pot will boil, if it feels you staring at it with menace.

I had originally planned to feature my aunt’s Champagne Pasta Salad that my mom made when she was here last week, but I forgot what she did with the recipe, and seeing that she was in a wreck and all I figured I wouldn’t call and bug her for it.

She’s so high on pain meds anyway, it would probably come out like, “Boil two cups of mayonnaise and put the pasta in the toaster.”

Anyway, I made a pasta salad on Friday with that boiled water, but it wasn’t of the Champagne variety. It was more of a “Clean out the crisper before it all goes bad” sort of pasta salad.

And it was really, really good.

Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad

½ box bowtie pasta
1 box tricolor rotini
1 stalk celery
4 hearts of palm
1 zucchini
2 Roma tomatoes
1 onion
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 can black olives
6 pepperoncini
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2/3 bottle Italian dressing
Shaved Parmesan
House seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash this time)

Set a large pot of water to boil. Don’t forget the menacing glare.

Finely chop all the veggies, except for maybe the olives.

Boil the pasta til cooked but firm. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, mustard and a little bit of the Italian dressing.

Pour the rest of the dressing over the pasta in the colander, distributing evenly.

Toss the veggies in the bowl with the mixed dressings, and coat evenly. Pour the pasta over that, and pull the dressing and veggies up through the middle with a wooden spoon. Be patient, it’ll get mixed.

The resulting salad will look a little bit watery at first, but the pasta will soak up more of the dressing while it chills.

Chill for at least 30 minutes, then season with house seasoning and cover liberally with parmesan.

Ain’t no party like a MonkeyMash party…

In nine days my son will turn two and like all other parents I’m left scratching my head and wondering where that time went.

I brought home a little squeaky thing in the summer of 2010 and I’ve watched him grow into a great kid. He loves his friends and family. He’s affectionate and silly. He enjoys conversation, food and playing – all with contagious gusto.

To celebrate the two years we’ve spent loving him, we decided to throw a combination Fourth of July/Birthday party, timed perfectly with the visit of his MawMaw and cousins. In an effort to keep things on a smaller scale, my husband and I each only invited one friend. Of course, when you add in spouses and children, we still ended up with a house (and yard) full of love and laughter.

My husband manned the grill while the big nephews and I worked on a little science experiment from Pinterest. Supposedly, pouring in juice in a certain order causes the colors to stay separate from each other.

We followed the directions on the Pin and ended up with purple juice. Tasty purple juice, but not the effect we were going for.

It was The Gamer’s idea to change the order of the juices and TADA! It worked! Even the adults wanted the pretty drink, so I got quite skilled in my presentation by the end of the party.

Outside, it was complete soggy insanity as nine kids ranging in age from one to 11 ran through sprinklers and wading pools.

Our poor bubble machine tried in vain to keep up, but the best it could do was sputter a sad little sphere here and there.

As the sun began to set, Monkey’s friends “helped” him open his gifts while sitting at the cute little picnic table his MawMaw sent him. When his Daddy wheeled out his gift from us, a shiny new Radio Flyer tricycle, the gasp from the short crowd was audible.

They helped him onto it and patiently waited for their turns. And oh, the silliness.

Later we did the usual ice cream and cake, then brought out the glow sticks for a mini-rave in the front yard. We tried glow bowling, which is harder than it looks in the dark, and then tromped up the hill to see the fireworks from the amusement park next door.

Monkey loved the fireworks, shouting “BOOM BOOM” with glee each time a new explosion lighted the sky. He’d scream, “Get it! Get it!” and reach out to try to grab the colorful bursts.

When the evening was finally over, we said goodbye to our friends and trudged home. While my husband snuggled with Monkey and waited for him to fall asleep, I chatted with my mom and nephews and helped them prepare for their journey back to Texas.

As the clock ticked its last few minutes before midnight, the house was blessedly silent, save for the occasional blast outside from those last few fireworks people just had to set off.

We slept, exhausted and content.

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More Red White & Two photos here!