A Day of Holiday Shopping At Park Place

It’s rare that you can find a place in a large city that has everything you need all in one walkable area.  Unless you’re in Kansas City, because we do this well.  It’s actually one of the things I love most about our city.  Country Club Plaza, Brookside, Briarcliff, Town Center, just to name a few…Kansas City has so many areas where you can eat, shop, and play without losing your parking spot.

In my effort to support as many local businesses, makers, and entrepreneurs as possible this holiday season, I have to get very strategic about where to focus my energy.  Since I won’t be adding 21 items to an Amazon cart, hitting order, and letting the delivery man curse my name day after day, I need a solid game plan on how to cross names off my list, get thoughtful gifts, and try not to exhaust myself (or my vehicle) in the process.  Enter some of my favorite Fitbit-satisfying parts of the city.

Park Place in the center of Leawood is one of the best places to get a ton of holiday shopping, all while sprinkling in some fun for yourself in a beautiful setting.  One of a kind boutiques, unique restaurants, specialty food shops, desserts, beauty services, and even fitness studios line the beautiful flower-decorated sidewalks.

First things first, you’re going to want to start your day at t.Loft. Grab a coffee, latte, or protein shake to get your energy going.  If you haven’t had your breakfast yet, you will want to order one of their inventive breakfast bowls.  And if you’ve already eaten, you still need one of their protein balls.

Now that you’re fueled up, you’re ready to hit the shops!  You will be able to find gifts for anyone on your list with the merchants in Park Place.  All of these stores are local to Kansas City, so you are sure to find one-of-a-kind gifts that your friends and family will treasure forever.

Let’s start with the kiddos!  Learning Tree has always been one of our family favorites.  With gifts for all ages, in all price ranges, for all interests.  My favorite thing about the store is that everything is marked with age suggestions, so I always know that I’m getting the best gift for my little guy, or our niece, and our nephews.  They also have one of the largest collections of children’s books, including a special section just for the holidays.  And the best part?  They offer free gift wrapping!  And it’s certainly better than anything I’ve taped together.

Next up…the Fellas. My hubby is a big fan of fun socks, so Geno’s Clothiers is always on my list when shopping for my guy. Or stop by The Gents Place to grab him a gift card for a little man-pering by way of a modern barbershop.

There are certainly no shortage of shops for any ladies on your list. At the top of my list is Pink Antlers Studio, a gift shop specializing in home decor, party supplies, and just the right gifts for anyone on your list. Add to your personal decor, pick out the perfect greeting card, or scoop up a gift that’s sure to wow the receiver.

HAND & LAND offers a variety of wellness-inspired products, including skin care, home goods, beauty products, and even gift sets.

And for the gift that’s made for anyone on your list–chocolate! Panache Chocolatier is a beautiful chocolate shop that offers award-winning chocolates, gift sets, and a full coffee bar. Grab a gift and a midday pick-me-up before continuing your travels.

Don’t forget about the gift of experience!  You could also grab a gift card to Breakout KC for them to solve riddles, codes, and puzzles to escape from one of several themed rooms, or Pinot’s Palette a paint and sip experience where they can create their own pieces while sipping and mingling.

If you still need the perfect dress for an upcoming holiday party, Alysa Rene Boutique has you covered.  A blend of the latest women’s fashion and classic pieces, they specialize in unique styles and designer labels.  Shop for yourself, or find a gift for your favorite fashionista.  And if you need to finish the look, KC Lashes, Le Reve Nail Salon, and Timothy Weber: A Hair Salon are all in the center to get you feeling glam.

By now, you’ve worked up an appetite, and there are lots of options.  Burger Fi has some of the best burgers in the city (including a killer veggie burger), the yummiest fries, and decadent frozen custard desserts.  Pickleman’s is a fast casual sandwich shop with the freshest offerings.  And if you’re feeling more of a happy hour vibe, they’ve got that too. The Ainsworth offers classic American favorites and signature cocktails.  Set in a swanky lounge-like atmosphere, RA Sushi is the perfect spot to end your day.  And my personal happy hour favorite, Pig & Finch Gastropub offers an inventive food offering and an extensive bar menu.

In addition to the shopping and dining, Park Place offers special holiday events throughout the season. Make sure to check out Santa Saturdays, complete with Santa himself and the Dickens Carolers. The Ice at Park Place, a beautiful ice rink in the middle of the center, is open through February 17th, so grab your friends and family for some holiday fun.

If you’re short on time and looking to complete your shopping all in one spot…Or if you’re simply looking for an immersive holiday shopping experience…Park Place is your go to spot!

I hope you visit this holiday season and that you have the best day!

XOXO,

Molly B.

Cancer Action Champions for Survivorship 2018

Cancer Action is such an important agency to our family.  I’ve been involved with them for almost 9 years, and last year, I was asked to speak at their annual Champions for Survivorship Breakfast.  Here is the speech I gave about my personal cancer story and my love for Cancer Action.

 

Good Morning!

When you decided to attend this morning’s breakfast, you probably weren’t expecting to hear someone tell you a love story. But something you should know about me is that I love big, and I love hard. So a love story is what you’re getting this morning.

I met my husband, Chad, when I was 19 years old. The night we met, he asked for my phone number, but the screen on his flip phone was cracked, so he asked me to write it down on a piece of paper he pulled out of his wallet. The piece of paper had two other girls’ names and phone numbers on it, so I threw it in the trash, wrote my name and number on a paper towel, and said something really smooth about how it was the only number he would ever need. That night, I knew two things: 1) neither one of us had any game, and 2) I was in love. That second thing took some more convincing on his part. (Probably because I do things like tell embarrassing stories in front of a couple hundred strangers.) But eventually I did, and we were married in June 2007. I was 24 years old.

Shortly after our wedding, we bought our first house in a suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where we were both born and raised. We were so excited and couldn’t wait to entertain in our new home. At the beginning of November 2007, we threw a big housewarming party and invited all of our friends into our new home. We had so much fun…maybe a little too much fun. The next morning, I had a terrible headache, but I assumed it was from all that fun I mentioned before. But it didn’t go away. For several days, every day, I had a headache. And not just your typical, “I can take some Aspirin” type of headache, because believe me, I tried that. It was debilitating. It was hard to focus; it made me nauseous; I could barely make it through the day at work. But like so many of us have done before, I tried to power through, thinking it would get better. Finally, on a day off from work, I decided to go to the doctor. He asked very few questions and determined that I was having migraines. Made sense to me, so I took that answer, filled the prescription, and felt satisfied that I would wake up the next day feeling better. But I didn’t. In fact, the headaches got worse, and I was nauseous all the time. I would somehow make it through the day at work, come home, and immediately go to bed. Not a great way to spend our first few months of marriage.

I would call the doctor’s office almost every day, and I would get comments about how the medicine takes time to work, and if I didn’t feel better in 6-8 weeks, I could come back to explore other options. One day, I couldn’t handle it anymore, so I walked in the doors of my doctor’s office with no appointment, determined to get answers. I was told that my doctor was not in, but the Physician’s Assistant would be able to see me if I was okay to wait for a bit. It didn’t take long before I was in an exam room speaking with a nurse and eventually the PA. We went through my symptoms, and I finally felt like someone was listening. And then she asked, “Have we done a pregnancy test?” My first reaction was to laugh, but I said, “Oh no, I’m on birth control, and we just got married. I’m not pregnant.” Apparently I slept through middle school biology with that answer. Thankfully she persisted with having me take a test, “just in case.” A few short minutes later, she came in the room, smiling, “Congratulations!” But she must have seen the look of confusion, or fear, or whatever, on my face, because her smile faded. She told me that my test was positive, and I was pregnant. Of course Chad and I had planned to have children, just not this quick. But my bigger concern was the effect the migraine medicine might have had on this surprise of ours. Thankfully, the doctor shared my concern, spoke to my OBGYN, and was able to get me an appointment the following day.

At this time, Chad was working the night shift at work, so his days were spent catching up on sleep. After my appointment, I drove straight home and didn’t think twice about waking him up from his precious sleep. If I was going to be freaked out, he was along for the ride! I woke him up, and he listened to me and watched me cry through his groggy eyes. Always the calmer side of our relationship, he assured me that everything would be fine, and we would get some answers the following day.

We went to the doctor the next afternoon, and I was immediately taken to an ultrasound room with a tech. I will never forget this sweet girl’s face as she searched that small little screen for some good news to share. At the time, I didn’t know a thing about ultrasounds, but I knew her silence meant something was wrong. She said that I could go ahead and get dressed, and I would want to get my husband from the waiting room and meet her, and the doctor, in an exam room.

Chad and I waited in that room for what seemed like an eternity. When the doctor entered the room, her normal positive and upbeat demeanor seemed to have been left in the hall. The conversation that followed was, and still is, a blur. “You were pregnant, but you’re not, but we need to do surgery, and HcG levels, but chemo, but not, and 1 in 3 million women, but everything will be okay.” My head was spinning, but I was able to determine that my positive pregnancy test was caused by a tumor that had formed in my uterus, and I needed to have surgery the following morning to remove it. I made the necessary arrangements to have the day off from work, and I told them I would be back the following Monday morning.

The next morning, I had the surgery, everything went well, I went home to sleep it off, and I was back at work on Monday. The doctor did tell me that I would need to have bloodwork done every week for 4 weeks to ensure they “got it all.” I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew I needed to do it. So I did. First week, fine. Second week, fine. Third week, I got the call.

I remember that I was sitting in the back room at work, eating my lunch, and I saw an incoming call from my doctor’s office. (By this time, it was the most recognizable number in my phonebook.) Honestly, I couldn’t really tell you what the nurse said. I didn’t understand anything she was saying. At the same time, my call waiting was beeping in my ear repeatedly, so I asked the nurse to please hold on. When I answered, the woman identified herself as calling from Cancer Care Associates and that she was needing to set up my treatment schedule. HUH? I asked if I could call her back, explaining that I was on another call. I went back to the original nurse, trying to get some clarity. Not understanding, I said, “Well I can’t do that, I have to work.” And her response was a statement that changed my entire life: “Molly, I don’t think you understand, you have cancer.”

The feeling in that moment, and in the 8 months that followed, can only be summed up with the word confusion. Through the pills, the injections, the PICC line, the infusions, the doctor’s appointments, the tests, the hair loss…confusion. I just went through the motions, arrived when and where I was supposed to, and prayed for an end. By the end of my treatment, I was going to the treatment center every single morning before work, receiving two hours of chemotherapy, and then driving straight to work to work a full day. The nights and weekends were hard. I was tired. I was sick. I was sad. I went through the unique experience of having my husband shave my head in the kitchen of that brand new home, which not really something I wish on any couple. But I also got to shave his head in an act of solidarity, and that was super fun! When we got married, I didn’t think I could love Chad any more than I did in that moment, but this experience proved me wrong. He cleaned my PICC line every single night, he attended every doctor’s appointment, he held my hand during every treatment that he could attend, he brought me a molten chocolate cake from Chili’s every single time I asked, because it was literally the only thing I wanted to eat. We celebrated his birthday, my birthday, and our 1-year wedding anniversary while holding hands in a chemo chair. But he’s not a doctor; he’s not a nurse; his experience and education was limited to what we gleaned from the doctors and nurses providing my treatment. Throughout this experience, there was an expectation that we should know things without being told. We didn’t have an advocate or anyone to help us navigate this experience.

But I got better. After 8 months of treatment, I got another call, a nurse telling me that my tumor was gone! I would have to complete a couple of additional weeks of treatment and return periodically for bloodwork, but the end was near.

A couple of years later, Chad and I moved to Kansas City, and I started working for U.S. Bank. Within the first few months, we started our annual United Way Campaign, and I attended an after hours kickoff event. I didn’t really need an event to convince me to donate to United Way; I had seen the impact of these efforts and liked the idea of my money staying in the community. But I’m always in for free pizza, so I was in for the evening. During this event, we were introduced to one of the local agencies that would benefit from our donations. As the woman spoke passionately about her agency, my ears perked (and I took the slice of pizza out of my mouth) when I heard the word “cancer.” I heard her talk about this agency and the services and support they provided to the cancer community, and I couldn’t help but think, “Well where the heck was this when we lived in Tulsa?” Like I said, I was already in for a donation, but I wanted to do more for this agency. Before she could leave, I approached the speaker and asked her if they needed volunteers, thus beginning another love story: my love for Cancer Action.

You see, as I mentioned, when I was diagnosed, when I was in treatment, when I finished chemo, we had no idea what we were doing. My overuse of the word does not escape me, but it truly was a blur of orders and appointments. Cancer Action was that knowledge, that friend, that support that we were missing. Today you will hear more and more about the support and services that Cancer Action provides to our community, and I can confidently tell you that does NOT exist anywhere else. And that one simple inquiry into volunteering almost 8 years ago led to many volunteer events and ultimately serving on the board for multiple terms. (Have you met Karla? She has a way of doing this…)

I could share many more love stories with you this morning, like how my love for running and involvement with the Kansas City Marathon connected them with Cancer Action, resulting in them becoming one of the charity partners…or how my love for my company and our employees has helped connect many of them to Cancer Action in either a volunteer or recipient capacity…or how my love for my friends and family (many of whom are here today) has brought them to volunteer, donate, and support Cancer Action…but I would be remiss if I did not leave you with one final love story.

Although my treatment was completed many years ago, and I celebrated my 10-year anniversary of being cancer free on July 7th, my journey did leave me with one lasting effect: the inability to conceive a child. Chad and I always knew that we wanted to adopt, so when we learned that we would not be able to conceive a child, we knew this was our direction. Before we started the process, I mentioned to Karla what we were planning, and she reminded me that our very own Program Coordinator, Shirley Gibson, had previously worked in the adoption field and would be a great resource. That led to us to being connected with the agency that brought us our son, Jack, one of the greatest love stories of my life. So just when I thought I couldn’t love this agency more, we have a walking, talking, sassy reminder of their commitment to community and the support of everyone that they meet.

I consider myself blessed to know Karla, Shirley, the Cancer Action employees, volunteers, and Board of Directors, and I feel honored to be a part of their world.

Thank you!

 

XOXO,

Molly B.

Easy Chocolate Protein Smoothie Bowl

Deep into my No Spend November, and seriously craving a smoothie bowl from my beloved Nékter. I decided to get a little creative with some items I had on hand, and the end result was delicious. One innocent little prideful picture in my InstaStories prompted several requests for the recipe, so on the blog it goes!

Ingredients:

• 2 frozen bananas

• 1 handful spinach (Optional)

• 2 scoops chocolate protein powder of choice (I use Arbonne.)

• 1 tbsp cacao (This is optional, but it makes it more chocolatey.)

• 1 handful of ice

• 1/3 cup milk of choice (I use almond milk.)

• Optional toppings of choice: Chia Seeds, Shredded Coconut, Nut Butter, Crumbled Protein Bar, Granola, the works!

(In the bowl pictured, I topped with 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tsp cashew butter, and a crumbled Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Kind Bar.)

Instructions:

• Place all ingredients (not including toppings) in food processor or Vitamix. (A regular blender will not work, because there is not enough liquid.)

• After fully blended, pour in bowl, load on the toppings, and enjoy!

Let me know what you add to yours!

XOXO,

Molly B.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers

Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love my slow cooker. Especially when the weather gets cooler! And I love when I discover that I can make one of my favorite recipes with this carefree method. This recipe for Stuffed Peppers has been on repeat in our house for a few years, and it’s even toddler approved! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

• 4 bell peppers- top and seeds removed

• 2 cups quinoa- cooked and cooled

• 1 16 oz can drained corn

• 1 16 oz can drained and rinsed black beans

• 2 cups salsa of choice

• 1 tsp cumin

• 1 tsp paprika

• 1 tsp chili powder

• 1/2 tsp garlic powder

• 1/4 tsp salt

• Optional Toppings: cilantro, avocado, guacamole, cheese.

Instructions:

• Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

• Stuff each pepper with the mixture and place inside the slow cooker.

• Cook on high for 3 hours.

• Let cool and top with your choices.

XOXO,

Molly B.

How To Style Printed Jeans

Have you ever seen a super cute piece of clothing and thought, “Yea, but how would I wear it?!” For me, that was these jeans. As soon as I saw them, I was instantly in love. However, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to wear them multiple times or multiple ways. But I have been surprised at how many ways I’ve been able to style them. Here are just a few ideas if you too have been eyeing a pair of printed jeans.

Rocker Chick: Pair them with a graphic tee, leather jacket, and booties.

Pop of Color: Use them as a neutral to highlight your favorite bright hue.

Denim on Denim: Pair with a jean jacket for a different take on the traditional Canadian Tuxedo.

Monochromatic: Pair with one of the colors included in the print for a twist on this chic classic.

I would love to see if you try a pair of printed jeans and how you style yours!

Shop these looks and more via my LIKETOKNOW.IT.

XOXO,

Molly B.

60 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money

Back in August, I completed a No Spend Month  and am planning a #NoSpendNovember.  One thing that discourages people from this challenge (including myself) is coming up with things to do to entertain themselves and to distract themselves from spending money.  I totally get it, so I put together this list of 60 things that you can do instead of spending money.  I wonder how many we can knock out in a month?!

  1. De-clutter your house.
  2. Attend free music/movies in the park.
  3. Have a picnic.
  4. Get outside for a walk, run, hike, or bike ride.
  5. Go to a park.
  6. Play board/card games.
  7. Learn a new skill. (Check out YouTube!)
  8. Read a book.
  9. Make a new recipe using things you already have on hand.
  10. Play with your kids, nieces/nephews, friends’ kids.
  11. Create a piece of art for your home using only what you have on hand.
  12. Sort, print, and organize photos on your phone and computer.
  13. Build a fire in your fireplace or fire pit.
  14. DIY something using only what you have on hand.
  15. Visit a free museum.
  16. Volunteer your time.
  17. Camp in your backyard.
  18. Go fishing.
  19. Explore your library.
  20. Take pictures.
  21. Make a budget.
  22. Re-design a room using what you have at home. (Use Pinterest for inspiration!)
  23. Make lists. (holiday, meal plans, back-to-school, bucket list, etc.)
  24. Write down your goals.
  25. Work in your garden.
  26. Take a bath.
  27. Host a clothing swap with friends.
  28. Write.
  29. Draw or paint.
  30. Organize your cabinets.
  31. Sit outside and take in your surroundings with a good cup of coffee/tea or glass of wine.
  32. Deep clean your house.
  33. Do the laundry.
  34. Do a puzzle.
  35. Give yourself a mani/pedi.
  36. Iron your clothes.
  37. Take a free online course.
  38. Organize your e-mail and delete the junk.
  39. Stretch/foam roll.
  40. Do some yoga.
  41. Call or visit a friend or relative.
  42. Write a letter to a friend or relative.
  43. Organize your personal documents. (tax returns, insurance forms, passport, etc.)
  44. Meditate.
  45. Sit and talk with your spouse, roommate, friend, or child.
  46. Count your blessings and write them down.
  47. Do a free fitness workout.
  48. Go to a book signing or book reading.
  49. Switch up your framed photos.
  50. Clean your fridge.
  51. Organize your closet.
  52. Watch a documentary.
  53. Shop your own closet to pair new things together or hack it up to make something new entirely.
  54. Plan a yard sale.
  55. Do a Pinterest project using things you have on hand.
  56. Do a crossword puzzle.
  57. Blast music and dance around.
  58. Finish a project you’ve been putting off.
  59. Clean your garage.
  60. Listen to a podcast or TedTalk.

Please let me know if you have any ideas to add to the list!

 

XOXO,

Moly B.

How To Find The Best Restaurants When Traveling

Eating your way through a city is no easy task, but somebody’s gotta do it. And I’m up for the job! But finding all the best spots does require some research and planning. Here are my tips for finding all the best eats on the road.

1. Find out if there is a signature dish of that city or state. Just like Kansas City has our barbecue, most cities and states have their own “thing.” Also controversial like KC BBQ, the locals will have their opinions on where to go. So take their votes and try one for yourself.

2. Use the Food Network’s shows and website. Man vs. Food, Triple D, Cupcake Wars, they will all give you insight on the best spots in any city. Don’t have time to watch the shows? No worries, the website collects all of the restaurants for you to reference at any time.

3. Pinterest. A quick city name search on Pinterest will generate tons of travel guides that fellow travelers have written, compiling all of their recommendations.

4. Instagram. This is a foodie gold mine. Search for hashtags, follow influencers and bloggers in that city, all of the search features make it easy to find lots of yummy food options. Another tip: Post a question box in your InstaStory to get suggestions from your friends that may have been to that city.

5. Organize everything in Yelp. One great feature of the Yelp app is the ability to build Collections. You can add a Collection, give it a name, and add places to that Collection that you want to try. When you get to your destination, you’re able to quickly access all of those places, and you can even sort them by distance.

I would love to hear anything you do to find all the best food when you travel!

XOXO,

Molly B.

Easy Slow Cooker Risotto

I don’t know about you, but when the weather gets cooler, I’m all about my slow cooker!  I love to kick it on in the morning and smell its goodness all day long, and then enjoy a hot meal at the end of my day.  I am a big risotto fan, and this recipe is so easy and tasty, and we keep it on repeat in the Fall and Winter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (Can use dairy free for vegan)
  • 1-2 cups of desired vegetables (Ideas: corn, asparagus, mushrooms, peas)
  • 2 tbsp. thyme
  • 2 tbsp. basil

 

Instructions:

  • Combine rice, vegetables, and all your seasonings in your slow cooker.
  • Add in olive oil and broth.  Stir until combined.
  • Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until most of the moisture is absorbed.
  • Add in cheese and stir.

 

There are a lot of ways to be creative with this recipe depending on the vegetables you want to add.  I can’t wait to hear what you think!

XOXO,

Molly B.

Halloween Costume Ideas for Couples and Families

You should know that Chad and I love any excuse to wear a costume. If there’s a costume party, we are instantly down. So naturally, we love Halloween. Here’s a roundup of several costumes we have worn over the years to help inspire you for your next costume-wearing occasion.

Ideas for Couples:

Ninja and Geisha

Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus

Captain Crunch and Toucan Sam

Silly Superheroes

Wayne’s World

Ideas for Families :

 

Circus People

Lumberjacks

Construction Workers

I hope you have a Happy Halloween!

XOXO,

Molly B.