The Perfect Date Night

When Chad and I made the move to Kansas City over eight years ago, we made it our personal mission to eat our way through this city. That first year was full of breweries and BBQ crawls, and everything in between. But that kind of livin takes its toll on your bank account, so we backed off of eating out every night and transitioned to weekly date nights. Enter a baby a few years later, and those weekly date nights are not as frequent. But our alone time, and our love for food, are still of high priority, so enter the Progressive Date Night.

We tried out this concept a couple of years ago with a date night on the Plaza, and it has now become our favorite way to try multiple spots in one day without spending too much extra time or money. The formula is simple:

Stop 1: Cocktails and Appetizer

Stop 2: Dinner

Stop 3: Dessert and/or Cocktails

Last night, we finally had our Valentine’s Date Night, and we decided to do it progressive style. So here’s a real example of how this plays out.

We selected the Plaza area for this round. We started our night at Black Dirt for cocktails and an appetizer.

We scored a seat at the bar, which is the way to go, because you don’t have to worry about a reservation or hogging a table on a busy Saturday night. Lucky us, we unknowingly sat next to one of the chefs who had just ended his shift, so he gave us all the recommendations. I started with the Rose on Blonde, and we ordered their hummus plate.

Both choices were delicious, but our new friend said that the Training Day cocktail was the best on the menu, so obviously I had to try it.

The atmosphere and service were exceptional, and we can’t wait to go back for dinner!

Next it was time for dinner at Parker at the Fontaine.

This has been on our list for a while, with its reputation for delicious eats and breathtaking views of the Plaza. It absolutely did not disappoint. We had arguably the best table in the entire restaurant, with a panoramic view of the city below. The place is beautiful and cozy, setting the stage for all the romance.

Not only is this place stunning, the food was delicious. We were greeted with their complementary cornbread, which is the perfect nod to our Oklahoma roots. Chad and I shared a Sprouted Grains Salad to start. For our entrees, he got the Bolognese, and I got the Louisiana Meat(less) Pie. And of course we had to get a side of their Brussels. Everything was wonderful, and it was torture to skip their mouthwatering dessert menu.

But it was off to our third and final stop: André’s. This was our choice for dessert and after dinner drinks.

Honestly, I could have spent my entire evening here and would have been a happy girl. We told the server that this was our first visit, and he told us about every single dessert in the case. It was such a tough decision for this sweets lover, but I got a Chocolate Budino, and Chad got a Chocolate Rum Ball. Y’all. I can’t even deal with how good these were. Like I’m trying to figure out how soon and often I can get back to try more things.

If you’re keeping track, you know we were full and exhausted, so it was time to head home.

But there you have it, three different restaurants in one night for the same timing and cost as if you would have done all of these courses in one place.

The Plaza is a perfect spot for a progressive date, because everything is walkable. But this is only one example! We have done this several times, in other parts of the city.

For example…The Streetcar Route.

Drinks and an app at Tom’s Town, rode the streetcar to Farmhouse for dinner, rode the streetcar back to Tannin for drinks and the best chocolate chip cookie dessert in the city.

Or Town Center Crossing in Leawood.

Drinks and tapas at La Bodega, Dinner at North, and gelato at Paciugo.

Or you can pick a theme! The year that Jack was born, we weren’t able to take our anniversary trip to NYC, so we planned a New York-themed progressive date.

Breakfast bagels at Meshuggah, a lunch slice at Johnny Jo’s, beers at John’s Big Deck, Manhattans at our boutique hotel’s bar, dinner at Cupini’s, and cannolis at Anthony’s.

Westport, Crossroads, Zona Rosa…so many options! And this also works great for a Girls Night!

Now that you have the formula, try it out for your next night out!


Molly B.

PS–Check out this Summer Date Night article that I did for Travel Host Kansas City!

A Weekend in Nashville

The past couple of years, Chad and I have taken short vacations for our birthdays. It’s such a fun excuse to get away and spend some time together, being silly and enjoying one another. This year, when I asked Chad what he wanted to do, he said he wanted to go to a sporting event of some sort. Last year, we went to Oklahoma City and went to a Thunder game, so this response didn’t surprise me. But the brainstorm was on!

Where could we go that maybe Chad had never been, would enjoy multiple things, and we could catch some sports? I quickly landed on Nashville. I have been several times, primarily for work. And Chad and I actually went together a few years ago when I ran the Nashville Marathon. But following me around a city while I only eat boring food, run for 4 hours in the rain, and don’t feel like doing much for the majority of the visit is not really a vacation for him. So I decided to take him back with only him in mind.

We flew out on a Friday and got there in the early afternoon. We got to our hotel and decided to find a spot where we could grab some local beers before dinner that evening. We discovered an unassuming hole in the wall called Homegrown. They have a fantastic beer selection, most of which was local. We relaxed for a couple of hours, laughing, and talking in non-toddler tones of voice.

We realized that time had flown by so we needed to hustle back to our hotel to get ready for Chad’s birthday dinner reservation.

In researching the trip, I knew that I had to find a fabulous steakhouse for Chad’s birthday dinner. This is typically his only request, so I had to make it happen. I was able to find Kayne Prime, which had a lot of recommendations and a menu that I personally could not wait to try.

We had such a fantastic experience. The food was exceptional! We were greeted with an amuse bouch crostini. From there, we ordered the Shishito Peppers appetizer. Always the perfect combination of sweet and heat! Next, we each selected a Farro Salad as our starter. Oh my! I am still having dreams about this salad, but it was massive and so very filling! We decided that it would have been best to share, because we were stuffed before our entrees arrived. But of course we had to power through! For our entrees, Chad selected a beautiful ribeye, and I selected a trio of side dishes: Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, and Mac & Cheese. We were only able to stomach a couple of bites, because we were so full, but those bites were incredible. All of the flavors were spot on, and the presentation was exceptional. Our server was devoted to Chad having a memorable dinner, so knowing that we couldn’t fathom dessert, he brought their famous Chocolate Chip Cookies in a to go box, and a wishing candle on a plate. The birthday boy was happy and exhausted. We decided to go back to our hotel and call it a night.

The next morning, I let Chad sleep in, and I visited my 49th Orangetheory studio in East Nashville. It was an intense Power Day, and I could quickly feel the effects of the day before. It was a great visit, and I was ready to start our day.

Chad got some breakfast at the hotel while I was out, so he was satisfied until lunch. We got cleaned up and decided to make our way to The Pharmacy for some local burgers and beers.

Pharmacy is such a fun and funky little spot in East Nashville. I ate there after the Nashville Marathon, and it was easily the best burger of my life. (Mainly because I’d just run 26.2 miles, but also because it was delicious.) Everything was just as good as I remember! Chad got their Cheeseburger, and I got their Black Bean Burger. We shared some tots and sweet potato fries, and of course some of their homemade beer cheese for dipping.

After lunch, we decided to explore more of East Nashville. This area is really growing, and it’s quite the hipster hotspot.

While we walked, we happened upon a local bakery, Nashville Sweets, that specializes in cupcakes. That was an obvious choice.

The shop itself is absolutely adorable! Cute touches everywhere, and the dessert case is stunning. We were thrilled that each of our favorite flavors were present and accounted for: Lemon for him, Chocolate Peanut Butter for her. Not just a pretty face, these were perfect. The cake, the filling, the frosting, spot on. I really wanted to try everything else, but we decided to move on.

Next, we found a local brewery called Smith & Lentz Brewing Company. We decided to sit for a while and relax with a beer. We were thrilled with the IPA (him) and Amber (me) offerings, and it felt good to sit and be lazy with one another.

We wanted to check out some spots across town, so we grabbed an Uber and headed over to an area close to downtown.

First up, we had to visit Uncommon James. I know, I know, this trip was for Chad. But in all my trips to Nashville, I’ve never been, and he humored me for a few minutes.

I scooped up a cute gold bar necklace and a gift for a friend. With no Kristen Cavallari or Jay Cutler sitings, we were out.

We walked around corner to the local Yazoo Brewery.

This is one of the larger craft breweries in Nashville, so Chad was pumped to check it out. The weather was gorgeous, so we were able to enjoy our beers on the patio.

We quickly decided that we were growing pretty tired, so we got an Uber back to our hotel for some rest.

Saturday night was the main event: that requested sporting event. Nashville has a few options, but I landed on the Nashville Predators. Chad had never been to a professional hockey game, so that seemed like a great excuse. He was thrilled with this selection.

After some rest, we made our way downtown to walk around and grab some dinner before the game.

We found a local restaurant right on Broadway called The Stillery. The menu looked really good, and their pizza offerings were pretty unique.

Great choice for a pre-game dinner and drink. The servers were friendly with adorable accents. The menu had a lot of diversity. And they were quick and efficient, ensuring we were out the door on time.

I started with a beautiful Strawberry Gorgonzola Salad that had all the colors and all the flavors. Next, when I saw it on the menu, it was an easy choice: Brussels Sprout Pizza. Oh my! Y’all, so good. Currently planning how to recreate this in my own kitchen. Chad got a Philly Cheesesteak Pizza and said it was equally as impressive.

We walked over to the Bridgestone Arena, because it was almost game time!

We found our seats and settled in. That arena and its fans are incredible! There was so much energy, and this place was alive.

Of course we also had to explore the arena and grab some snacks. The Frozé was a fun (and bougie) choice, and of course we had to get some popcorn.

After the game, we were exhausted, so we went back to the hotel to crash.

After sleeping in, we ventured out for some breakfast to start our last day in Nashville. We picked out Pfunky Griddle, which has been on my list for years. The concept is fun, yet simple. You customize your own pancake batter, and then you cook it at the built-in griddle on your tabletop. We each selected our own concoctions, and we added some hash browns. It’s a neat concept, and the food was delicious, but we agreed that we would rather have our food cooked for us on vacation.

On our way into town, Chad saw a billboard for a Dukes of Hazard museum, so that was basically all he talked about. Naturally, we had to check it out. Um wow. Probably one of the oddest places I’ve ever been, but we had a blast laughing and taking pictures. Plus Chad loved every second of it.

We were within walking distance of Grand Old Opry and some shopping, so we walked over and did a little bit of exploring before flying home.

We got home on a Sunday night, and it was the perfect amount of time for our trip. We had so much fun exploring, being silly, and just spending time together. Chad is the hardest worker I know, and he rarely does anything for himself. Plus, he holds everything together at home when I’m on the road. It was a perfect celebration of my favorite guy, and he’s already talking about going back.


Molly B.

For Julie

I met my husband, Chad, when I was 19 years old. Chad is one of three boys, and I’ve known his brothers just as long as I’ve known him. Which means I’ve known Julie just as long.

When I met Chad, his older brother, Clint was dating a girl named Julie. This radiant, elegant, vibrant girl named Julie.

Over those first few years, we all kind of grew up around one another. Holidays (and man, that chick could cook), late nights, float trips, karaoke, just being young, and dumb, and in love with our respective Buchanan brothers.

When Chad and I got married in 2007, Clint and Julie were on a break. I missed my friend, but my gut told me that this wasn’t a permanent thing. The night of our wedding, Clint drove us home, and I remember him saying, “I really miss Julie. She would have wanted to be here.” By the time we got back from our honeymoon, they were back together.

Six months into our marriage, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. That’s a story for another time, but it’s part of this story. Because shortly after my diagnosis, Julie was diagnosed with breast cancer. A bond that I would never care to share with anyone. A bond that two brothers, while growing up, never thought they would share either. How could they? When you’re playing Dukes of Hazard in the backyard or fighting over the Nintendo controller, you never once think you’ll be helping the woman you love pick out a wig to cover her chemo-baldened head.

But here we were. Two girls comparing stories of PICCs, ports, nausea, wigs, and weird side effects. And two guys trying to maintain some sense of normalcy.

And then I got better. (Again, a story for another time.) It’s a weird sensation when you feel the most relief you’ve ever felt in your whole life, but you simultaneously feel an immense dread, because someone you love so dearly is still in the thick of it.

But then Julie got better too! And I think I was happier in those moments than I was in my own.

The next couple of years…Clint and Julie got engaged, we had a too much fun bachelorette party in OKC, they got married in Mexico, we celebrated so much.

We walked in the Tulsa Susan G. Known Race for the Cure, and Julie talked about how she couldn’t wait to run it the following year. We both loved running, and we committed to running a Half Marathon together one day.

But the celebration didn’t last. Julie’s cancer came back. Strong. And before I could breathe, she was gone. Those moments in the hospital are vivid and blurry all at once. We lost our sweet Julie on February 9, 2012.

Two days after Julie passed away. Chad and I flew to Austin, and I ran the Austin Marathon. At the time, it was the Livestrong Marathon, so the meaning was more powerful than ever. Julie told me so many times during my training that she was proud of me, and every time, I told her, “Can’t wait to do it together!” She ran every step of that race with me.

Survivor guilt is a real thing. Every time I hear of someone losing their own battle, my instant feeling is guilt. I love my life, and God has reminded me many times over the years that He has big purpose for it, but my heart has a hard time digesting the loss of another.

Every year, this day is filled with thoughts and feelings of why her and not me. I miss my friend, my sister, so much that I can’t get through this without many tear-wiping breaks. My throat is burning as I type, fighting back the urge to fall apart.

I didn’t want this year to be so hard. Julie remains the most positive person I’ve ever known. She didn’t just carry me through that Marathon seven years ago, she’s run with me almost every step since. I talk to her when it’s hard, when it’s beautiful, when I just want to talk.

So today, we ran that race we always promised. Seems fitting that we ran the Sweetheart Run, because cliche as it may seem, she did have such a sweet heart. It was cold and icy, but she ran with me the whole way, pushing me to be positive and to enjoy the moment.

Thank you, Julie. I love you so much, and I miss you every day.


Molly B.

PS–You crushed it!