Sunday, April 21, 2024

Oliver's Night of Fear and the Case of the Mysterious Cough

Scared Oliver Hiding Behind My Chair
Oliver is Scared

Monday Night Jitters

Oliver was acting out of sorts on Monday night. He hid behind my chair and restlessly moved from one strange spot to another. Topeka was forecast for severe storms overnight, and it seems Oliver could sense the approaching weather. He was scared and wouldn't leave my side.

A Stormy Night's Rest (or Lack Thereof)

By 10 pm on Monday, Oliver had calmed down a bit. However, around 10:30 pm, a low rumble of thunder jolted us awake, followed by a bright flash and a loud crack of thunder. Oliver cautiously approached the edge of the bed, then jumped down and scurried under the dresser. Under the furniture is his go-to spot when bad weather frightens him. It seems he stayed there all night, as heavy rain and constant lightning kept him tucked away and safe.

Licking and Coughing

The storm and his anxiety caused Oliver to lick excessively – anything he could find, from the carpet to the blankets. This soon turned into a cough that lingered throughout the week. Even though Tuesday night was calm weather-wise, Oliver continued to lick and cough. Carrie and I barely slept that night due to his constant coughing. It sounded like something was stuck in his throat, but thankfully, he still ate, drank water, and even wanted treats.

Vet or No Vet?

By Wednesday or Thursday, we debated taking Oliver to the vet. His cough had improved slightly, but it hadn't completely vanished. While he wasn't keeping us awake anymore, the cough persisted. Thankfully, by Friday, his cough had subsided significantly, and he sounded much better. We decided not to take him to the vet, and in retrospect, I believe it was the right call. The excessive licking seems to have been the culprit.

Sunday Update: Back to Normal (Almost)

Today is Sunday, and after my morning walk/run, I took Oliver for his walk. He started coughing again at the beginning, but it was likely due to his excitement and leash-pulling, which are typical behaviors for him during walks. However, with the lingering cough from earlier in the week, it sounded quite dramatic – like I was walking a walrus! Luckily, it subsided quickly, and we completed our walk over a mile, hitting all his favorite spots.

An Active Week Ahead

This week promises to be a busy one for Oliver. I'll share more about his adventures next weekend's post. In the meantime, I'm off to catch the Kansas City Royals game and cheer them on!

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Seven Course Meal Prepared by Our Friend Laura with Pictures and Descriptions... So Good!

Table is Set and Ready for Fancy Dinner
Table is Set and Ready for Dinner

Our friends Laura and Jason invited us over for a fancy dinner. We received an invitation for the event a few weeks ago and we were looking forward to it as the date approached. On Saturday, April 13, we picked up Greg and Erin to head to Laura and Jason's house for dinner. A wonderful evening was had by all and here are some of the pictures of the night of what we ate. 

Laura did all the cooking and Jason ran up and down the stairs to get items from the basement. Laura had the table set for us as we arrived and made us a fancy cocktail to start the night.

Menu for Fancy Dinner
Menu for the Night

No pictures of the chef or others at the event, but I did manage to take pictures of the menu and each of the dishes. We had an enjoyable evening while Laura was cooking and preparing each dish for us. She had Jason serve the dish and made sure to direct him on how to have the dish facing when served. So fun and we had some good laughs and stories as we enjoyed the evening.

Now to start getting into the courses of the night. We had wine served with the courses with white wine to start and then transitioned to red wine as we arrived at the meat dish.

Jalapeno Popper Deviled Egg
Jalapeno Popper Deviled Egg

Amuse Bouche which was a blue cheese walnut apricot. Then we had the appetizer (picture to the left) which was Jalapeno Popper Deviled Egg and it was perfect! I ate the whole thing at once which I think was the best move to get all the flavors together.  I realized that I did not get a picture of the Amuse Bouche as I just ate it and then I started taking pictures of the food. I tell you, the Amuse Bouche was a good way to start with the food.

Creamy Broccoli Soup
Creamy Broccoli Soup

Next was the Creamy Broccoli Soup. I am not a big fan of broccoli, but this was really good. I told Carrie that I could eat broccoli all the time if we had it as soup like this dish. Delicious! 

Laura told us when she makes the soup everything from the broccoli goes into the pot. The stocks are left on the top until finally those are worked into the soup. Yes, we might need to have Carrie get this recipe from Laura so we can make this at home.

Next was the Spring Pea, Prosciutto and Burrata. Once again, a wonderful dish for the multi course meal. 

Seared Halibut with Lemon Basil Rissotto
Seared Halibut with Lemon Basil Risotto

Next was the fish dish which was a Seared Halibut with Lemon Basil Risotto. The seasoning on the fish was excellent. Erin, who does not like seafood, tried this dish and she liked this dish too. I think this is the first time I have ever seen Erin eat anything from the sea. Halibut is a good selection to have Erin enjoy as it is not fishy and this was cooked perfectly with the meat flaking off with the Lemon Basil Risotto and a bite of fish, oh my goodness, it was so good!

After fish, we had the second to last dish of the night. So, it was time to change up the wine in our glasses. We moved to a red to go along with the beef.

Red Wine Braised Beef with Garlic Parmeasan Mashed Potatoes
Red Wine Braised Beef

Pictured to the right is the Red Wine Braised Beef with Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes. The sauce with the meat and potatoes was crazy good. Jason said he likes the sauce so much that he could put it in a cup and drink it. Yes, it was that good and I completely agree with Jason that I could drink it straight.

We sipped on wine as Laura prepared the last dish of the night. Chatting and telling stories, and one or two of us finishing off others dishes, or drinks, that had not finished their dish yet. We were all getting full but had to make room for the final dish of the dessert.

Salted Caramel Butterscotch Pot de Creme
Salted Caramel Butterscotch Pot de Creme

Yum! Yum! Yum! Perfect end to the evening of dishes. The Salted Caramel Butterscotch Pot de Creme was excellent. The sea salt on the top went well with the caramel and butterscotch. At this point, I was feeling rather full, but I wanted to make sure I made it through my own dish. I think there were some that were not finished, but I knew if I ate those too, I would be miserable.

Thank you so much to Laura for cooking for us. What a treat! Thank you to Jason for running trips to the basement and for sampling all of the dishes prior to the big night. Sounds like that was tough to do, but someone has to do the sampling and suggestions.  Thank you both for opening your home to us to enjoy a wonderful evening.

Until next time, have a great rest of your Sunday and a fantastic week.

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Celebrating 55 Wedding Anniversary with Driver and Fun at Lidia's in Kansas City

Family Photo at Lidia's in Kansas City
Family Photo at Lidia's

Joan and Eddie celebrated 55 years of marriage on Thursday. Eddie planned a trip to Lidia's on Saturday with the whole family. He got a driver to drive everyone into the restaurant and we had a wonderful time. This was our second time to Lidia's with the last time being a few years ago to celebrate Eddie's birthday at the time.

We left Topeka at 6:30 with reservations at 8, so it worked out perfectly. Saturday happened to be prom weekend in Topeka, so Eddie got us an SUV to ride in style. Worked out well and we had a good time riding into Kansas City for our celebration dinner.

Anniversary Dessert Served to Joan and Eddie
Anniversary Dessert
I realized after we got home, I did not take a lot of pictures while we were on the trip. I intended to do so, but did not get many. The pictures we did get were taken from our driver at the entrance to Lidia's. He did a good job with taking a lot of pictures to capture the moment. The only picture I snapped was of the dessert that was served to Joan and Eddie to celebrate their anniversary. 

Selfie of our Driver and Family at Lidia's in Kansas City
Selfie of Our Driver and Shirron Family
When we finished eating, there was rain and wind for us on the drive home. Glad we had SUV and driver that did a great job getting us to and from Kansas City. A memorable night to celebrate the 55 anniversary. I will remember this night and celebration as it was a wonderful evening.

Coming up this week is the celebration of Carrie as she has a birthday this week. She has not said where she wants to eat her birthday dinner, but I believe it will be a place in Lawrence. I think she is still deciding where she would like to go to celebrate.

Until next time, have a great week and watch for next weeks post about celebration for Carrie.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Day Off of Work, Trip to Kansas City, Shopping, Food, and Fun

Lunch at Ponak's on Friday and Errands was Great!
Lunch Friday at Ponak's

I took a half day on Thursday so that I could go to my brother-in-laws, Greg, house to watch the Royals Opening Day baseball game. My father-in-law, Eddie, joined us as has been the tradition the past few years. The Royals lost 5 - 1, but he had a great time. Greg does hotdogs, wraps them in foil, and we enjoy those while watching the game. 

On Friday, I had the whole day off as I thought we might go camping but we ended up running errands in Kansas City. I was in need of new work shoes, so we went to Nordstrom Rack and Dillards to shop for shoes. I ended up with two pairs of shoes with one for work and a pair to wear on weekends or when I need a little more dress than a pair of tennis shoes. I also got two new sports coats to add to my collection, so it was a big day for me shopping. Carrie laughs because I rarely buy anything for myself and I kept saying how big of a day it was for me spending a lot on two pairs of shoes and two sports coats. 

We had fun doing our shopping and had already planned to head to Ponak's for a late lunch. I still cannot believe we just heard about this place recently. This was our third or fourth time to go to Ponak's and it was just as good as the first time. I had fajitas this time which were excellent. The guac and margaritas are really good! I highly recommend a visit to Ponak's.

Saturday turned out to a chill day for us as we did not do a whole lot. I guess we were tired from all the running around we did on Friday. I did manage to watch NCAA basketball Thursday, Friday, part of the games Saturday night. Saturday afternoon, I watched the Royals lose again. In two games, we have scored a total of two runs. Hoping to turn things around for the Sunday game this afternoon to at least get more than one run... maybe even win the game. 

For NCAA games today, more games I do not care who wins. I know I do not want UConn to win even though I have them picked in two of my brackets. It is hard to believe the NCAA basketball time is coming to an end. Baseball has started and PGA is underway. Good times!

Until next time, have a great week! Happy Easter!

Happy Easter 2024!

Happy Easter 2024!

Happy Easter! A overcast day but beautiful. Carrie and I are planning to head to Lawrence for a bit today to see my Mom and family. I tried to plan out when others would be there too, but that did not work out, so we are going around noon and see who we can while we are there. Mid-afternoon we will head back to Topeka to have dinner at Shirron family. It is going to be a great day!

I hope you have a fantastic Easter Sunday!

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Thinking of Future Camping for 2024 and Thinking Back to Past Camping Trips to When We Started in 2021

Camping Our First Year Tent Camping in 2021
Camping in 2021

Carrie and I have been camping one time so far this year (see Big Bend Post) and it was great. We are wanting to go camping so bad many more times while it is nice this spring, summer, and fall. Right now, we have one spot reserved for the summer, but we are keeping our eyes open for other dates we can camp. The places we camp over the next few months will probably be located in Kansas. Our trip to Big Bend was our first camping trip outside the state of Kansas. Yes, we want to do more camping trips outside Kansas, but I am not sure those will happen this year.

One spot I am hoping we are able to fit in this year is Wilson State Park. I hear only good things from those that have been to this location about how beautiful it is with amazing views. Wilson State Park has been on our list to visit for a few years, but it has not worked out for us to get out there to this point. I am hoping this will be the year that we are able to make it out to this beautiful spot in Kansas.

Thinking back to when we started camping back in May 2021. Little did I know that it would become a passion for both Carrie and me. We love the whole experience of camping so much and cannot wait until our next camping trip. As I review past trips, I wondered where we were at with our count of locations and camping trips.

We have been multiple times to Eisenhower State Park which we love. There is a good chance we will be back to Eisenhower State Park at some point this summer. We have a favorite spot there and really enjoy the trails and location. Other locations in Kansas that we have been included (links are to blog posts) Crawford State Park, Lake Milford near Junction City, HipCamp on the Saline River by Hays, KS, Council Grove, and finally Big Bend National Park in Texas.

A rough guess on number of times we have been camping would be ten times. Hoping to increase our camping number throughout the next few months. In 2022 and 2023, we had busy spring, summer, and fall seasons, so camping was difficult to work in during those years, but hoping get some more dates scheduled for this year.

Camping Trip Lake Picture from June 2021
Camping Trip in June 2021

Finding sites to camp near lakes is the best as it is so beautiful and brings back memories of being a kid hanging out at Lone Star Lake or Clinton Lake. Plus, Carrie and I are getting into trails, so we want to keep that trend going from our Big Bend trip. We are planning to do some trails in Kansas City, or even around Topeka, that look interesting. Just to keep what we started in Texas going and might even play a role in where we pick to do our camping trips for this year. Still, I am sure we will end up at some of our usual spots but also hoping to visit some new locations this year.

Until next time, have a great week. I hope you are able to find your next camping spot or do what makes you happy.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

March Madness 2024 Tournament Challenge

ESPN Tournament Challenge Picture

It is time create your entry for March Madness. It is Selection Sunday.

March Madness Hopefuls group is free to play and you can enter up to three entries. There is no password on the group, so hoping it will be an easy process to join your entries, encourage your family and friends to join, and be sure to come back after Selection Sunday to make your entries.

The directions for joining remain the same from last year. The more people in the group the more fun it is to make your selections. 
  1. Visit ESPN which will take you directly to the March Madness Hopefuls.
  2. If you are already signed into the ESPN web site, you can immediately create your bracket. If not, sign into the site and then you will be taken to the March Madness Hopefuls group or you can search for March Madness Hopefuls to join.
  3. Join the group.
  4. Repeat the above process to create additional brackets. In the March Madness Hopefuls bracket, you can have three entries.
Be sure to submit your entries by 11:00 am CST Thursday, March 21. This will make sure you get your entries submitted and have time to get them submitted. First game tips at 11:15 am on Thursday March 21. There are play-in games starting Tuesday, but you do not need to enter your picks until the field is set following Wednesday night play-in games. Make sure to enter your picks prior to 

If you have any questions or problems, please let me know.

Good luck and enjoy March Madness!