How to Have the Sweetest Day in Kansas City: Your Guide to A 10-Stop Dessert Crawl

A few things we’ve already established:

I love birthdays.

I love to eat.

I love sweets.

You may remember that, back in January, my husband and I celebrated his birthday by visiting nine different BBQ restaurants in one day. And if not, you can read all about it in this post. So it was only fair that when my birthday hit the calendar, we celebrate with the most appropriate version for my personal palate: A Dessert Crawl.

The concept seems pretty straightforward, but it must be said, the planning of this adventure proved much harder than one would expect. In your visions of eating your way through the city, one cookie crumb at a time, here’s something you don’t consider–Dessert is everywhere. Literally everywhere. Every restaurant has a dessert menu. Coffee shops have cookies (and more). There are more bakeries than can be counted. And let’s not even start with the ghost kitchens and hidden menus. The list grows by the second, and it’s enough to overwhelm even the largest sweet tooth. So where to start?

When I sat down to coordinate a game plan, there were several directions I could have taken in my approach. And after several scratched up pieces of paper, I landed on the strategy of Dessert Categories. I started by making a list of Dessert Categories: cupcake, cookie, cake, ice cream, etc. That alone has so many options and variations, but I landed on a solid list of ten core dessert categories.

Once I had my categories, I plugged in my KC favorites (It was MY birthday, after all…), the most recommended by friends, and the most well known or highest regarded. This exercise was similar to picking a favorite child, because I’ve never had a bad dessert in our city, and so many of our hometown heroes offer delicious choices in several categories. But you gotta start somewhere, and there’s only so much your stomach can handle. (To which I say, “Hold my beer!”)

Once I had the categories, and the list of places, I had to create our route. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not the most directionally gifted individual, so I anticipated this would be another challenge. (I promise I actually have fun planning these things, regardless of how many times I use the word “challenge.”) However, the Kansas City Dessert Infrastructure Division (that’s definitely a thing) has done an exceptional job of situating so many places in close proximity, which really helped a girl out.

The categories, the places, the route, done. Let’s go!

Here is a recap of our adventure, and keep scrolling for some ideas and recommendations for a Dessert Crawl of your very own. Because you’re totally doing it. Right? As a reminder: Only order one of each item and share. Otherwise, those final stops might be pretty painful or nonexistent.

Stop 1: Fairway Creamery (Fairway, KS)

What To Get: Donut

Stop 2: Dolce Bakery (Prairie Village, KS)

What To Get: Cake

Stop 3: Andres Confiserie Suisse (KCMO, South Plaza)

What To Get: Chocolate

Stop 4: Heirloom Bakery & Hearth (KCMO, Brookside)

What To Get: Cookie

Stop 5: McLain’s Bakery (KCMO, Brookside)

What To Get: Cupcake

Stop 6: Ashleigh’s Bake Shop (KCMO, Westport)

What To Get: Pie

Stop 7: Bloom Baking Co. (KCMO, River Market)

What To Get: Macaron

Stop 8: Betty Rae’s Ice Cream (KCMO, River Market)

What To Get: Ice Cream

Stop 9: Best Regards Bakery & Cafe (Overland Park, KS)

What To Get: Brownie

Stop 10: Sweet Thang & Cafe (Olathe, KS)

What To Get: Milkshake

I’m really pleased with our plan, and I would definitely recommend this approach. But I have so many other ideas for future versions. (Yes, of course I’m doing this again.) Here are a few:

  • Pick one of the categories, and make that your theme for the crawl. Examples: Cupcake Crawl, Cookie Crawl, Ice Cream Crawl. Eating from one category at multiple spots throughout the city.
  • Kansas City Signatures: This will require a little more research and planning, but it’s high on my radar. Design your adventure around desserts that are KC faves. Examples: McClain’s Cupcookies, Creative Culture Milkshakes, Tannin Fudge Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies. The best type of sightseeing.
  • Stick to one area of town. Like I said, EVERYONE has dessert. So pick a spot of the city that’s walkable, and make dessert stops along the way. Examples: Country Club Plaza, Brookside, Downtown Overland Park.
  • Group Favorites: Go with a group, and each person in the group picks their favorite dessert place, and you design the crawl around checking off those super sweet boxes.

There are so many possibilities, and I’m really going to enjoy adding to the list and trying them all!

XOXO,

Molly B.

Kansas City BBQ Crawl: How to Visit 9 Local BBQ Spots in One Day

Something we need to get out of the way right up front–I love birthdays. I love to celebrate and make people feel special on their day. Especially the people that I love and are closest to me. If you think about it, it’s the only day in an entire year that belongs to YOU, so it should be celebrated. And I’m a little extra, so I tend to go overboard. Over the past few years, I have shifted my celebrations from things to experiences, so our birthday celebrations have turned into vacations and staycations, with a lot of doing, eating, and exploring. (Emphasis on the eating.). This year, as I looked for a fun way to celebrate my husband’s birthday right here in Kansas City, it hit me: BBQ Crawl. Let’s explore the best BBQ dishes in our city in a single day. But an idea is only that…how do I actually pull this off? With careful research, planning, and coordination, I was able to pull off a very successful crawl with a lot of fun. So let’s get down to business…

First things first, you gotta do some research. I started with a little crowdsourcing–asking friends, adding a question box on my Instagram Stories, looking at websites, all the while gathering the most popular suggestions for restaurants and dishes.

Second, finalize your list. Combine like suggestions, eliminate anything you won’t enjoy, sprinkle in some new-to-you spots, and make sure you add anything you personally can’t miss.

Third, plan your route. Personally this was the most challenging for me, and I reworked it several times. There are so many strategies you could use, and candidly, I’m not the most directionally gifted, so I spent a lot of time looking at maps. Ultimately, we wound up having the perfect route, so should you choose to follow it, the hard work is already done.

And finally, free your schedule for an entire day, get a full tank of gas, put on your comfortable clothes, grab your Tums, and get in the car. It’s time to eat and explore!

Here is the route we took and what we got at each restaurant. I cannot recommend our experience enough, and I hope you’ll try it too. Pro Tip: Only order one of each item and share. Otherwise, those final stops might be pretty painful or nonexistent.

Stop 1: Woodyard BBQ

What to get: Burnt End Chili and Honey Cornbread Muffin

Stop 2: Jones BBQ

What to get: Sausage Link from the vending machine

Stop 3: Slap’s BBQ

What to get: Ribs and Baked Potato Casserole

Stop 4: BB’s Lawnside BBQ

What to get: Bar-B-Q Sundae and Deep Fried Bread Pudding

Stop 5: Q39 South

What to get: Best Wings on the Planet and Macaroni & Cheese

Stop 6: Jack Stack Overland Park

What to get: Burnt Ends and Cheesy Corn Bake

Stop 7: Plowboys BBQ

What to get: BBQ Nachos and Cheesy Potatoes

Stop 8: Blind Box BBQ Shawnee

What to get: BBQ Wontons and Bourbon Baked Beans

Stop 9: Joe’s Kansas City BBQ Olathe

What to get: The Z-Man or Portobello Z-Man and French Fries

Let me know if you try it and what you thought. And more importantly, let me know if there’s anything we missed. After all, I’m always down for a Round Two.

XOXO,

Molly B.

Five Trader Joe’s Meals with Only Three Ingredients!

While I am primarily a meal prepper, I am one of convenience. I’m always looking for simple, yet flavorful recipes that will appeal to the entire family. Trader Joe’s is known for their convenience items and convenience meals, but I love to switch it up a bit and combine items for an elevated take on convenience. Here are my top five favorite combinations using only three TJ’s ingredients each.

Chicken Caesar Wrap:

  1. Caesar Salad Kit
  2. Grilled Chicken Strips
  3. Tortillas

Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower Stir Fry Bowl:

  1. Cauliflower Rice
  2. Cauliflower Tempura
  3. Stir Fry Vegetables

Pesto Gnocchi:

  1. Cauliflower Gnocchi
  2. Kale, Cashew, and Basil Pesto
  3. Grilled Chicken Strips

Mandarin Chicken Stir Fry Bowl:

  1. Mandarin Chicken
  2. Vegetable Fried Rice
  3. Broccoli

Cauliflower Pizza:

  1. Cauliflower Pizza Crust
  2. Pizza Sauce
  3. Pizza Cheese

What are some of your favorite items from Trader Joe’s? I’m always looking for new finds!

XOXO,

Molly B.

Kansas City Restaurant Week 2021

Chad and I moved to Kansas City in the absolute deadest of Winter 2011. Not an exaggeration, I think there was a significant amount of snow on the ground for the first six months that we lived in KC. Ah memories of my car getting stuck in the snow and having to walk uphill in heels to get home, of warm clothes being packed in boxes and having to dig through them every morning, of moving into our home as snowflakes fell from the sky. What a joy.

However, a warm spot in an otherwise very cold time was moving to KC right before Kansas City Restaurant Week. From the start of us making KC our home, we have continued to explore the city through our stomachs, and KCRW was the start to our adventure.

We look forward to Restaurant Week every year, and I can honestly say it’s my favorite event in the city. With the uncertainty of our current environment, I was concerned that it may not happen this year, or what it may (or may not) look like if they moved forward. The event, the restaurants, and the agencies that benefit from its execution rely on KCRW as a kickoff to the new year, and without it, they would face an additional blow in an already challenging time. But to our collective delight, KCRW moved forward, and we did some serious celebrating.

This year, Restaurant Week was from January 8th through the 17th. There were over 100 participating restaurants, each offering multicourse menus designed specifically for the week. One goal for KCRW is for the event to be inclusive for our community. The menus range from $15 to $45, and include several restaurants that are typically a much higher price point. This allows KC residents to dine at spots they may not otherwise be able to afford.

Since this year looks very different, and everyone has a different level of comfort when it comes to restaurant dining, many of the participating restaurants added carryout and delivery options to meet customers where they feel most comfortable.

And in addition to supporting our local restaurants in a year when they need it more than ever, a portion of each KCRW order goes to local nonprofit agencies, so it continues to give back to the community.

Every year, I use KCRW as an opportunity to try restaurants that I’ve never visited before and have been wanting to try. The goal is always to dine at four different restaurants–two for lunch and two for dinner. These restaurant reservations fill up FAST, so as soon as I see the KCRW announcement, I start grabbing reservations. It never fails that there’s a blizzard, or a cancelled babysitter, or a winter illness that forces us to cancel one or more of our plans, but we always have the best of intentions.

This year, the stars aligned just right, and I was able to visit four new-to-me restaurants for the ultimate KCRW experience. Here’s my recap:

Restaurant #1: Ya Ya’s Euro Bistro

Chad and I kicked off KCRW 2021 with a lunch date at Ya Ya’s. This is not a new restaurant by any stretch, but surprisingly, neither of us have been. Their lunch menu looked fantastic, so it was our first stop. Every meal at Ya Ya’s comes with their complementary housemade baba ganoush and fresh-baked bread, which was such a fun (and welcomed) surprise. My top recommendation for Restaurant Week is to dine with someone else, and ensure that they are down to share. Obviously my husband doesn’t have a choice in the matter (what’s mine is yours…), so we decided to share our menu choices. We started with the Gnocchi and the Greek Salad, which were both fantastic. For our entrees, we selected the Cauliflower Steak and the Bistro Burger. We loved both, but that cauliflower was outstanding. Our server was a doll, and our overall experience was great!

Restaurant #2: Va Bene Italian Eatery

Va Bene just opened in Corinth Square at the beginning of January, but I’ve been stalking its progress on social media for months. I love Italian food, so this has been on my list. When I saw that they were participating in Restaurant Week, this was an instant booking. Chad and I were able to score a babysitter, so we turned our reservation into a date night. Immediately upon entry, I fell in love with the restaurant’s atmosphere and décor. The entire staff was so friendly, and our server was wonderful. The restaurant offers an impressive wine list and a selection of signature cocktails. A run at “Dry January” kept us focused on the food, but we’ll be back for those drinks. We agreed to share some dishes again, since this is the optimal way to experience KCRW. We started with the Viva Caesar and the Mushroom Arancini. Both were fabulous, but I’m still thinking about that arancini. For the entrees, we selected the Linguini Cacio e Pepe and the Italian Roast, and we were so happy with our selections. And for dessert, we shared the housemade Tiramisu, which was one of the best I’ve had anywhere.

Restaurant #3: Stock Hill

Stock Hill is another restaurant that has been on my list for a few years. But with a higher price point and a special occasion atmosphere, we haven’t had the opportunity to visit. When I saw it on the list for KCRW, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to visit. Chad and I were able to sneak away for a quick lunch date on a very snowy Friday, which wound up being a great day to visit. With its floor to ceiling windows that face the Plaza, it was a beautiful setting to watch the snow as we dined. The dining room is beautiful, and I feel in love with their super swanky cocktail lounge. We started with their signature SH Salad, which was one of the best salads I’ve tasted. For our entrees, we got the V Burger and the Salmon Spätzle Pesto. Their entire entrée selection looked so good, and it was hard to make a decision. In that scenario, we always ask the server to choose. After all, if they love it, you know it’s good. The salmon was the recommendation of our server, and he was spot on! The pesto was delicious, and we’ve been talking about it ever since. We’re excited to get back to hang in their lounge and enjoy a libation.

Restaurant #4: The Savoy At 21C Museum Hotel

I cannot even tell you how long The Savoy has been on my list. From the gram-worthy photos, to the award winning chef, to the legendary menu items, this restaurant sounded like a dream. I knew it would be a stretch to get two date nights, but I booked a reservation knowing that I could likely snag a gal pal to join me. And as luck would have it, one of my best girls was available and excited to join me. And better yet, down to share! I was in love with the dining room as soon as I walked in the door. Dark, and moody, and super cool. Our server was so kind, and so patient as we continued to talk instead of look at our menus. When we were finally ready to order, we really went for it. The chef sent out an amuse-bouche, which was a caramel popcorn creation of some sort that only intensified my excitement for our meal. We started with the Anson Mills Bluecorn Hushpuppies and the Brown Butter Ravioli. Both were so wonderful, but I still have dreams about those hushpuppies. For our entrees, we chose the Grilled Yellowtail Rockfish and the Mushroom Tortiglioni. Additionally, with your entrée, you could choose from a list of side dishes, which was a unique take on the KCRW menus that I had not seen in the past. We chose the Thane Palmberg’s Potatoes and the Fried Brussels Sprouts. The ingredients were so fresh and flavorful, and I could not get enough of anything. But most importantly, we did make room for dessert. They had several options, which was literal torture for this sweet-toothed gal. But we landed on the Semi Frozen Yuzu Lemon Bar and the Chocolate PB&J Sorbet Sundae. Look, I will absolutely never lie to you about desserts, so believe me when I tell you, that sundae was one of the best things I have ever tasted in my life. We capped off our visit by taking some fun pictures before rolling out the door. Our night met every expectation I’ve held for this restaurant, plus a whole lot more.

Although Kansas City Restaurant Week has come to a close, I would recommend signing up for their newsletter and following them on social media to stay up to date on their events and communications throughout the year. And save the date on your calendar for 2022. I know I am!

XOXO,

Molly B.

My Top 10 Favorite Amazon Purchases of 2020!

The majority of 2020 was spent supporting all things local. I have always had a strong passion for small, local businesses, and our family makes an effort to support them as much as possible. It’s actually one of the reasons that I stumbled into the “influencer” role; I was frequently sharing the local business gospel with friends and family, but now I do it on a larger scale. So when the pandemic hit and businesses were forced to close and/or limit their operations, I felt a more intense need to support them as much as and in as many ways as possible. So putting together a list of 10 items that I purchased from Amazon in 2020 was actually quite difficult. The deliveries were not nearly as frequent as in years past, as I focused on finding my purchases locally. However, I did round up my top ten Amazon purchases from last year, and I know you’ll like them too.

  1. Acrylic Mask Chain The accessory we never knew we needed before 2020: The mask chain. Look, if you don’t have one of these yet, I urge you to get on it. For the frequent up/down, on/off that wearing a mask brings, this keeps you hands-free and not currently searching. I bought a few locally, but this one has been my favorite.
  2. Makeup Brush Set I purchased this makeup brush set on a whim when it popped up on my recommendations and was skeptical. Y’all, for such a low price, these are very good quality brushes. I’ve had them for several months, have cleaned them multiple times, and they are still rocking.
  3. Daily Planner Notepad One of my favorite local bloggers posted about these in the Summer, and I thought they looked like something I could easily fit into my daily routine. I started using them immediately, and have used them every day since. They have the perfect breakdown and amount of space to keep me organized.
  4. Eyelash & Brow Enhancer Serum Prior to the stay at home order, I had lash extensions. (You can read all about it here.) But anyone that has had them knows, them babies don’t keep. So without access to maintenance, they all fell out. I was left with some fairly unhealthy lashes, so I needed a solution to grow them out and get them back in fighting shape. I have used lash serums in the past, but they are expensive and don’t always work. The price was right on a sample of this product, so I took the leap. It worked! I have ordered the full size several times since this initial purchase, and my lashes are looking fabulous.
  5. Silicone Mask Brushes I am a sucker for skincare. And this is a relatively new revalation, as my twenties were spent sleeping in my makeup and being genuinely confused when my skin would be dry or a zit would dare to appear. But when I turned 30 and my face started to change, I started taking an interest in products and have develpoed a bit of an obsession. I love a good face mask and typically do one every Sunday, but you are always met with the delima of wassted product all over your hands. No longer! Apply the mask directly to the brush, and it goes on so smoothly, and with easy cleanup too.
  6. Wide Shoulder Strap Your girl loves a good handbag. But I have expensive taste. It’s a thing. Let’s move on. In 2020, with so much uncertainty, I didn’t think it was prudent to drop some dollars on a desigener label. But I found a fun (and inexpensive) solution in this strap. You can add it to a handbag, and it changes the entire look of the bag. It comes in a ton of colors, so you have some really fun options to create a new bag at a low price.
  7. Reusable Facial Pads Cotton Rounds Refer back to number 5 for a recap on my skincare obsession. So here’s something else you should know–I’m kind of frugal. But on really weird things! For example, I think dropping $3 on a bag of cotton pads is so dumb. You’re literally throwing away money. Not to mention the environmental impact. These have been the perfect solution for those concerns. I’ve been using them and washing them for months, and I am so happy with them.
  8. Tank Dress Okay, here’s the deal, I am not a big fan of clothing on Amazon. I know that people find some serious gems. But I don’t like to “hunt,” and I’m rarely pleased with the quality of the prodicts. However, I am a big fan of this style of dress. It hugs and gives in all the right places for my body type. But they’re hard to find, and when I do, they are typically pretty pricey. So when this popped up on my recommendations (creepy), I went for it. And dang, it’s so good! I went with basic black to be safe, but I will be purchasing from their many other colors.
  9. Apple Watch Band Literally no one is surprised that something leopard made the list. I got an Apple Watch for my birthday, and I instantly started searching for ways to spice up the black band. After a coupld of failed attemps with a fabric band (cute, but impractical), I went with this silicone option. The quality is great, and it’s still going strong through a lot of days, a lot of sweat, and a lot of on and off.
  10. Camera Remote Control Intially this may only seem like a blogger/influencer item, but for anyone that has tried to take a family picture on their phone with a toddler, they know. This has such a low price, but the quality is great. It’s easy to set up and sync, and it’s very easy to use.

I would love to know any of your 2020 Amazon purchases! Although my focus will continue to be primarily on supporting local, I’m always looking for fun new items.

XOXO,

Molly B.

Welcome to 2021!

I’m not really sure what we all thought was going to happen at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. I know what we HOPED would happen. An instant cure for COVID, an elimination of racism, a magic wand to wave away any of the pain from 2020. But alas, here we are, masked up in our loungewear.

Although, call me crazy, but I didn’t entirely hate 2020. Hang with me here. It was messy, and complicated, and sad, and disappointing, and disruptive, and confusing, and pretty much any other negative adjective you want to throw on a page. But man did it change me. And in some really good, and really big ways.

Let’s revisit…I’m Type A, Strengthfinders Achiever, Eneagram Type 3, goal oriented, purpose driven, and a wee bit of a control freak. So in a year where things a constantly changing, you can’t plan for most things, your targets change by the day, and your control is very limited…yea, I struggled. I spent a lot of days crying. My anxiety was at levels that really frightened me. And I learned very quickly that anxiety and depression are very good friends.

On June 1st, Jack returned to daycare after being home with us since March 17th. After dropping him off, I sat in my car and cried. I took this picture, because I thought I looked so ridiculous and knew I would look back on that picture one day and laugh. But in that moment, I was so broken. I was sad and scared. And that was the day I set up an appointment with a therapist.

I’ve gone to therapy off and on since college, but in 2020, I committed to consistency and doing the hard work. And it is work. My illusions of lying on a couch and pouring my heart out aren’t really a thing. My therapist makes me think and gives me homework. It’s work, and sometimes I don’t want to do it, but it helps.

Maybe I didn’t need 2020 to happen to force me to make that appointment. Maybe I didn’t need it to force me to give up my overwhelming need to control. Maybe I didn’t need it to give me vital time with my husband and son that I didn’t get from traveling during 80% of my time. Maybe, but it did.

So here we are in 2021, and on the outside, it looks basically the same. We’re still at home, we’re still wearing masks, we’re still very much in the middle of a pandemic, same, same, same. But it feels different.

On December 17th, my sister-in-law shared a picture of her getting her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and I cried. Off and on for hours. I cried the happiest tears that I’ve cried in years. That picture symbolized hope, and I look at it every day.

So that’s what 2021 feels like to me–Hope. There’s so much of it, so much possibility, so much optimism.

I’m so glad you’re here to experience it with me.

XOXO,

Molly B.

The Happiness Report: 11-2-2020

Happy November!  So, I took last week off from the Happiness Report.  Actually, I did type out a really long post about how I was feeling.  Which was ROUGH. 

Here’s the thing, I have anxiety.  And sometimes, it can manifest itself in really positive ways.  That’s how I’m able to create, and innovate, and go and go and go, for long periods of time without rest.  But other times, it’s not great.  It makes me sad, and tired, and unmotivated, and insecure.  And that was last week.  My anxiety was really high and was manifesting itself in some really unhealthy ways. 

So yea, I typed that out, and it felt really good to get it out.  But the words belong to me now, and I decided to chill out last week and focus on feeling better. 

So that’s where I am today. Of course anxiety is an ongoing thing, and it will continue to ebb and flow, but today is a good day, and I’m here to tell ya about it.

  1. Celebrated a Milestone. Five years ago, I walked into Orangetheory for the very first time, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve shared about my OTF journey a few times in the past, but this week I celebrated my five-year anniversary. This is the longest I have ever stuck with a gym, and I’m still just as happy with the workout as I was five years ago. I’ve met some of my best friends at OTF, and it has saved my sanity during COVID. I can’t wait to see how I continue to grow and where this journey leads.

2. Donuts! Did I get your attention there? So is it weird that I don’t like donuts for breakfast? Let me be clear, I LOVE donuts. But give me a 10:00 AM morning snack, or a 2:00 PM dessert, or a late-night treat for my donut fix. And really any donut will do. I love an OG glazed or some donut holes, but I also love all the funky creations that have become so popular. That’s why I love our local Donutology. They have classic flavors, fun inventions, and even a build your own option. They have full sized and minis. And they do a lot of special creations for holidays and special events. They reached out for me to feature their Halloween minis, which included a pack of our own, and we had so much fun taking pics and enjoying our spooky sweet treats.

3. Date Night. I cannot believe we haven’t had any alone time since our vacation in Denver, but yet again, I can totally believe it. My mom came in town this weekend for Halloween, so we snuck out on Friday night for a date night. The Town Company is a brand new restaurant inside the new Hotel Kansas City, and I’ve had my eye on it for weeks. So when date night was on the calendar, it was my first pick. From the second we walked in, everything was so special. The décor, the atmosphere, the staff, the cocktails, the dinner, the dessert…everything, perfect. It would be a fun for girls night too, but it is an absolute must for a date!

4. Becoming a Coffee Drinker. Well maybe not, but I did attend the grand opening for Café Ca Phe, a brand new Vietnamese coffee cart. I originally heard about them on the Open Belly podcast and was intrigued by her descriptions of Vietnamese coffee, compared to traditional coffee. Even as a non-caffeinated person, it sounded yummy. This was confirmed on Saturday morning when we got to sample some. It’s more dessert-like, so this sweets lover was in from first sip. Plus I fully support a minority woman owned and operated business on any given day!

5. Halloween. I’ve always loved Halloween. Probably no one is surprised by this, because I love any excuse to wear a costume, and I love candy, so there we go. I knew this year would be weird, but I was determined for it to still be fun and special. We started the day with Halloween donuts, then we went to the Café Ca Phe event, which had tons of activities for kids and adults, then it was Corinth Square for lunch at BRGR and exploring their Halloweek event, and home for some rest. After naptime, it was playing, pumpkin-shaped pizza, costumes, indoor trick or treating, candy eating, and bedtime. Chad and I enjoyed a couple of post-craziness beers (and some more candy) and an early bedtime.

It feels really good to be starting a new month, feeling a little more relaxed, and looking forward to a lot of happy times ahead.

XOXO,

Molly B.

The Happiness Report: 10-19-2020

I know, I know, I know…it’s been a long while since I published a Happiness Report! (Facepalm) See what had happened was…I took the week of our vacation off, and that just continued for a few more weeks as I got busy and preoccupied. But assure you, it was not because there was a lack of happiness. Quite the contrary! But I did notice that without reflection and cataloging, it’s easy to lose sight of all the positive things in your life. As this pandemic continues much longer than we anticipated, and we approach a tumultuous election, it’s so easy to get caught up in everything that is going wrong or to think that the sky is falling. Well, Chicken Little, my challenge to you is to keep track of the happy things. Make a list and refer to it often. Because not every day is good, but there sure is something good in every day.

Here’s what’s been rocking my world the last few days:

1. Breakfast Date. Last Monday was a bank holiday, so I had the day off from work. Shockingly I hadn’t filled my calendar with tasks, so I asked Chad if he could go into work a little later so we could grab breakfast together. Shack just opened in Lenexa, and they invited me in for a visit, so we took advantage and grabbed a morning date. The staff was so friendly, and the food was delicious. But the best part was starting my day, uninterrupted with my guy, enjoying some sweet time together.

2. Lunch Date. Okay so I know that I said that I didn’t stack my day off calendar with appointments and tasks, but having meals with people I love hardly seems like a burden. So last Monday, I kept the dine out train rolling and had lunch with my friend Mindy. Chances are, if you found me because you love my Kansas City adventures, you probably follow Mindy too. Because @KansasCityBucketList is my recommendation for anyone wanting the best KC content, and it has been for years. Not only does Mindy operate this successful account, but she is also very generous with her time, resources, and connections and has become kind of an informal influencer mentor for me, but more importantly a friend. Additionally, Mindy works for City Lifestyle and is the one that got me roped into being a contributor. She had asked if she could do a story on our family for National Adoption Month, and I used it as an excuse to go to lunch. We met at Chez Elle, which has been on both of our bucket lists for a long time. It’s such a fun spot in our city, and the crepes did not disappoint.

3. Business Tour. The very first event that I went to when I became a blogger/influencer was in February 2019, and it was a popup photo shoot. I was so very nervous to attend, and I had no idea what I was walking to that day. And I never could have known that the girls I would meet would wind up being some of my closest friends. At that event, I met this woman that owned a business called Sour Lemon, which is an Apple Cider Vinegar beverage. Have y’all ever tried ACV? Gross. And ouch. I always hear that it has so many great health benefits, but I just can’t choke it down. But Sour Lemon found a way to flavor ACV and make it delicious! At that time, they were only operating as a pop up and brewing in their kitchen. But last week, I stopped by to visit their bottling and distribution center! It is so incredible and inspiring to see how much they have grown in such a short amount of time!

4. Perfect Fall Night. There is a local PR firm, and if an invite from them ever hits my inbox, I make every effort to attend. The passion and dedication they have for the businesses they support always manifests itself into these unique, immersive experiences. Last week, they invited me to a small event at Affare, to enjoy a wine tasting and light bites. We sat out on the patio, which is one of the best hidden gems in this city. The weather was perfect, and it was such a special night.

5. A Sweet Celebration. When you look forward to becoming a mom, there are things you picture, moments you imagine, and celebrations you can’t wait to have. One thing that I’ve always looked forward to celebrating is my child’s half birthdays. I love any excuse to celebrate and make memories, and I see this as such a fun thing to make special. Jack’s Half Birthday was on Saturday, and it was the perfect excuse for a family fun day. His breakfast was served with a candle, and he wished for a cupcake. (My child for sure.) We were lazy in the morning, and then we hit the road. We drove to the Iron District for lunch and ice cream, and then we went to watch the choo choos, which are Jack’s current obsession. He is still talking about his fun adventure and keeps saying, “Thank you for my candle!”

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Don’t forget to make that list! You’re gonna need it!

XOXO,

Molly B.

Kansas City Fashion Week, September 2020

For the second year in a row, I was given the honor of covering Kansas City Fashion Week as part of their media team.

Kansas City Fashion Week features local, national, and international designers, in two full weeks of premier runway shows. Additionally, they give opportunities to stylists, make-up artists, models, and photographers to showcase their work in a creative format.

Both years that I’ve attended, KCFW shows were hosted in the Grand Hall at Union Station, which is the perfect setting! But like with everything else, 2020 had to look a little bit different, due to the spikes of COVID cases. KCFW worked with Union Station on a modified plan for Kansas City Fashion Week and took things virtual. Initially, you might think, “How?” But I assure you, the experience was still very immersive, and you felt like you were right in the front row, while staying healthy and safe.

This year, I watched two of the shows from the comfort of my home and pajamas, which was really an ideal situation, if I’m honest. But the Saturday night show, the Finale, I attended a small gathering for KCFW staff and media, and it was fun to put on a dress, do my hair and makeup, and to watch the catwalk with some other fashion lovers.

We all know by now that I love fashion—the clothing, the accessories, the hair and makeup, everything. So when I was given this opportunity, I was pumped! But more than anything, I love to look at runway styles and use them as inspiration for everyday looks. In this post, I’m breaking down the Top Ten Trends that were on repeat on the KCFW runway, as well as how you can incorporate them into your closet.

1. Bright Colors. Your girl LOVES color, so I was thrilled to see so much on the runway! But I also know that most people find comfort in an all-black aesthetic. So if you’re not big on color, start small. Incorporate pops of color with a fun pair of shoes, a bright cardigan or jacket, or a fun camisole. And if you’re already a color-lover, this is your time to shine! (Literally…)

2. Classic Silhouettes with Dramatic Details. An A-line dress, a classic pair of slacks, an oxford shirt, all still on trend, always and forever. But add a little edge. A fun pattern, some added texture, any bit of added interest to a style you already love.

3. Animal Print. Thank you, fashion gods, for keeping me in fashion! Over the past few years, I have amassed quite the collection of feline-inspired garments (leopard is totally a neutral…), so I was happy to see that this trend will continue. But don’t stop at the leopard, zebra, cheetah, pythons, lions, tigers, and bears, oh my, it all works!

4. Workwear. This may sound funny since most people are working from home and therefore ditching their regular professional attire, but it was a repeater on the runway. My favorite way to incorporate this trend is a good blazer. You can dress it up or down, throw it on with a dress or a graphic tee, it all works!

5. Accessories. Hats, statement jewelry, fun shoes, they were all alive and well on the catwalk. I’m a big accessories gal, so I was happy to see this. My favorite thing right now is my growing collection of hats. When I don’t feel like fixing my hair (which is often), I throw on a hat with a low bun, and it instantly makes me feel more polished and stylish.

6. Loungewear. Literally no one is surprised by this. As we are all spending more time at home, and we will be for the foreseeable future, we could have all guessed that this would continue to trend. I love a good matching set, and my personal preference is long sleeves and long pants, because house temps are hard to regulate, so if you’re cold, you’re set, and if you’re hot, just roll up those sleeves!

7. Lingerie-Inspired. Oo La La. Corsets, Fishnet, Cutouts, all over this season’s styles. So yes, you could just walk around in your cute undies (again, you’re not going anywhere). But if you want to take this trend out on the town (and not get in any legal trouble), the lace bralette is a great piece that can incorporate this trend without giving away all your goodies. I like to wear them with an off the shoulder sweater, or a backless dress, anything that shows a little extra skin.

8. Leather. Jackets, dresses, skirts, shorts, any style you can imagine, but make it leather. There are so many ways to incorporate more leather into your life. But my number one vote, always and forever, is a leather jacket. You will never regret adding one to your closet. You can dress it up, dress it down, add some edge to any look, the versatility is endless.

9. Graphic Prints. This was a really fun addition to this season’s lineup. There were formal gowns, jackets, and tops with big graphic prints. And it’s so easy to incorporate this into your current style, because graphic tees are everywhere! I am loving them and wear them several times a week! I even wrote a blog post with several ways to style them.

10. Military-Inspired. This trend comes and goes so much, and it was fun to see it back again. I remember my early 90s incorporation of this in the form of combat boots with my sundress. Combat boots back in a big way, so you can definitely grab a pair to wear the look. But my recommendation is a military jacket. Whether it is basic military green, camo print, patches on the sleeve, whatever you choose, you will be so happy with your purchase and will wear it on repeat.

For more information on this season, you can visit the Kansas City Fashion Week website, or you can check out any of the designers (list below for reference).

Thursday – September 24th

Kyndra Jade

Jaqui Co.

Hannah Kristina Designs

Altar’d State – Oak Park Mall

Annette Sunshine Designs

Just Bee by Bex

Olive Martini Designs

Rachel Pollak

Friday – September 25th

Zuri Perle

Vivi Design Studio

Sarah Solnet

Daria’s Dress

Kindred – Oak Park Mall

Gracie Key Designs

Shannon Lehman

Lauren Bander

Laura Citron

Saturday – September 26th

Quixotic

Duane Topping

Rissa’s Artistic Design

Jaxson Wyatt

White House Black Market – Oak Park Mall

Fashion AF

Potapenko & Yanchenko

Any Old Iron

I can’t wait to see how you incorporate these trends!

XOXO,

Molly B.

The Happiness Report: 9-14-2020

It’s Monday!!! Have we ever talked about the fact that I actually love Mondays? Yea, really. We’ve established that I am super Type A, love a To Do List, love goals, all that nerdy stuff. So it should come as no surprise that I love Monday, because it’s a fresh piece of paper every week. New start, new goals, new chances. This week is really busy with a lot of fun things, and we’re gearing up for a vacation, so I’m in an exceptionally good mood right now. But let’s talk about all the things that brought me happiness last week.

1. A BIG Donation. A few weeks ago, I shared that I was doing a collaboration with Pink Dinosaur, where we were raining money for Happy Bottoms. We got the final tally last week, and I got the pleasure of donating $500 to the organization. I am so grateful for everyone that bought, shared, and supported to make this happen. And of course, I’m super grateful for Elle, the owner of Pink Dinosaur for making my dream a reality. We’re already talking about how we can do something together again soon.

2. All The Jewelry. Yes, two weeks in a row, I’m talking about jewelry. But I just love it! So the fact that I got to attend TWO jewelry events this week made me so very happy. First up, the grand opening of the new Nickel & Suede store on the Plaza. N & S is a hometown jewelry hero, and its creator, Kilee Nichols, is an inspiration to women everywhere. Her newest addition is another retail storefront, which opened last week on the Plaza. I got the opportunity to attend a sneak preview, and it was so fun, and so inspiring. As soon as I left the store, I jumped in my car and drove over to Brookside, for a Piercing Party at the Sierra Winter boutique. I love Sierra’s jewelry so much, and I’ve been dying to attend one of these parties for over a year. She used to have them more frequently pre-COVID, but this was her first since the beginning of the year, and I was all in. It was great to see her, to make some new friends, and to finally join the double piercing club!

3. Day Trip. One really great thing about this weird Instagram world has been the friendships that I have made in the process. I am closer to some of these people than I am to people I have known for years. One such friendship is my friend Allison. We connected on Instagram, and we’ve bonded over the past few months over a shared sense of humor and similar views on this thing called life. A few weeks ago, she asked if I would want to do a day trip to Parkville to check out some of the boutiques and stores in the area. And um duh. It took some coordination, but last week, we made it happen. She is also an Orangetheory member, so we started our day with a burn at the Parkville studio. Then it was coffee and exploring Main Street, which was still mostly closed. And we finished with some shopping at Twill, which is a boutique that we both love. It was such a fun day, and it was nice to have the time together.

4. Surprise Date Night. When the team from Houlihan’s reaches out to you and asks if they can provide you an At Home Date Night, the answer is an obvious YES. And that’s just what happened. The restaurant offered a special Date Night menu on Friday and Saturday night, and they offered to provide us one for me to enjoy and share. I picked it up on Friday afternoon, and dinner was provided for several nights, because it was a TON of food. Everything was delicious, and it was such a fun (and needed) surprise.

5. Candy Truck. Yes, you read that correctly. Go Candy Go is a local candy truck that you can book for weddings, birthdays, showers, whatever! We connected on Instagram a few weeks ago, and we were finally able to schedule a time for me to come meet her, and to see the truck. Our whole family went on Sunday afternoon, and we got to explore, learn more about the owner, take some cute pictures, and get some candy! We’re working on some fun things, but candy is always a mood booster for me!

We’ll be on vacation next Monday, so no Happiness Report, but look for a BIG one on the 28th! Can’t wait!

XOXO,

Molly B.