{kansas city love} crossroads brewery tour

After the craziness of the holidays and then lots of time spent indoors with two cabin feverish kids, Aaron and I couldn't plan a date night soon enough. We decided to do something a little different and go on a self-directed brewery tour in the Crossroads neighborhood in Kansas City.

The city and its surrounding suburbs have a lot to offer if you're looking for craft beer, and just within the Crossroads neighborhood alone we were able to visit six breweries, all within walking distance of each other.

weekly highlights {3}

Last week was busy and felt like it flew by. I have friends whose kids are involved in multiple activities, and I don't know how they do it. I feel like my schedule is packed and currently the only activity around here is school, until baseball starts again in the spring. Anyway, here are a few highlights from the week.

Weekend baking with my favorites


  • 4-ingredient granola - This was so easy to make! I added it to yogurt all week to make breakfast feel like a treat. 
  • Chicken and veggie stir fry - This is a weeknight dinner go-to. I love how easy it is to change up; this week we had it with chicken, peppers, and broccoli, but it's also good with pork and other veggies--just use what you have. 


  • A year of reading the world blog - On the latest What Should I Read Next? podcast, Anne's guest mentioned that she was challenging herself to read a book from every country. Anne mentioned a blog from a woman who did just that, so I had to check it out. I haven't yet read many of her posts, but her book list is amazing. 
  • The Success Principles by Jack Canfield - I just finished listening to this on audio. He has a lot of valuable advice, but be warned--this book is long! 


  • Unruffled podcast: No Bad Kids: Questions about Tantrums, Mealtimes, and Cleaning Up - This episode was as if Janet Lansbury was observing my life lately and telling me, "You need this." Sometimes I feel like my life is one big power struggle with Violet, and her podcasts--this one in particular--remind me that it doesn't have to be that way. 


What were some of your highlights last week? 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

{reading} books to start your reading year off right

I always see it as a good sign when I start the year with a good book. It's been cold and icy around here lately, so bundling up with a book has been my activity of choice when time allows. Here are a few that I've read lately. I had pretty high expectations for all of these, and I'm pleased to report they all delivered.

{City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert} I read this book in December, which for me was perfectly timed. The storytelling was delightful, and while there were some serious themes it mostly felt light and fun--perfect for a busy month. The setting of the New York theater world in the 1940s enhanced the story; I don't think it would have had the same effect if it took place in the current time. Don't be intimidated by the hefty size either, I never felt the story drag. Count me as one of the few who missed out on Eat, Pray, Love, but even if that one wasn't for you I think it's worth giving this one a try. My rating: 4/5 stars.

{The Dutch House by Ann Patchett} I know I'm in the minority, but I haven't had a lot of luck with Ann Patchett. I remember picking up Bel Canto when I was in college, and for some reason I couldn't get into it (although I know I should try again... that was LONG ago). More recently I tried to read Commonwealth and ended up setting it aside too. As a book lover I almost feel ashamed to admit that! Reluctantly I followed the hype and picked up The Dutch House. I can't tell you what made the difference with this one but I adored it. I love that the sibling relationship is the focal point of the story, and although I've heard complaints of a lack of likable characters I didn't feel that way. In fact I found the opposite to be true. While Maeve certainly wasn't perfect, I found her to be so relatable and endearing despite her flaws. I recommend this one if you love a good character-driven dysfunctional family story. My rating: 4/5 stars.

{Circe by Madeline Miller} My friend and I chose this for our book club; I thought it would be a good book to start the year and also get back to meeting regularly (we fell off the wagon a bit with traveling and busy schedules). I did not learn a lot about Greek myths in school, but my ignorance of Circe's story did not make this book any less enjoyable. Somehow Miller takes the ancient tale and makes it feel fresh without losing any of its historical relevance. This was excellent and I can't wait to see if my book club pal felt the same. My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

{The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal} I waited in a long library holds line for this one, and it's one I wish I would have just broken down and bought when it came out. Not only because I adored it and think it's worth keeping, but also because it felt almost sacrilegious to read it with a glass of wine. Brewing beer is the theme that weaves this story together, and it's just begging to be read with a good craft beer in hand (typically a summer drink for me). Brewing is the theme in this story like hockey is the theme in Beartown (although the comparison stops there)--it's the undercurrent of everything, yet you don't have to be a fan to truly enjoy the story. The women in this story were so well-written; I particularly liked loyal, hard-working, no-nonsense "grandma" Edith. If you want a heartwarming story without sacrificing substance, I can't recommend this enough. My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

Have you read anything worth recommending lately?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

weekly highlights {2}

Hey there, how's your week going? We started our music jar that I mentioned last week, and because Aaron and I both contributed bands and musicians (and we have pretty different taste in music), we have more than 52 in our jar... so it will be the jar that keeps on giving!

Anyway, here are last week's highlights.

I loved this pic of my girl


  • Healthier Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins - I'm always skeptical of a recipe with "healthy" in the title, but these muffins--made in the blender--were so good! They're still sweet thanks to the maple syrup and banana, and the peanut butter and oats made them hearty. The true test was Jona, and he loved them! 
  • Smoothie bowls - these are a breakfast favorite for me. This week mine had frozen strawberries, spinach, yogurt, milk, a little bit of maple syrup, and vanilla. I topped them with granola and sliced almonds. Yum! 


  • Food-themed children's books - wouldn't you know my little food lover (Violet) ate these books up this week? We have been reading Bee Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park and How to Feed Your Parents by Ryan Miller every night. 
  • Circe - I finished this and loved it! (Book post to come...) 


  • What Should I Read Next? podcast - Making up for lost time in your reading life. I love it when Anne's guest and I have similar tastes in books. I often add to my TBR on all the episodes, but on this particular one I wanted to read everything they talked about. 


  • Funny Violet quote - We were reading Bee Bim Bop! and there's a picture of a baby in a high chair. She points out that the baby is using a spoon and fork, and then goes "Good job buddy!" 
  • Easy lip color - Nivea Blackberry Lip Care. It goes on like a lip balm and moisturizes my lips, but it's a subtle dark berry color that is so pretty! I have been wearing it nonstop.