Saturday, December 18, 2004

Christmas Shopping

Kim and Marc, Aaron and Adam are visiting this weekend. They wanted to do some last minute shopping in Lawrence. The only shopping I had done was ordering a few items on the internet, so needless to say, Lawrence sounded like a good idea.

We loaded the kids and arrived on Massachusetts Street around 10:30. Lawrence's downtown is a four or five block area of unique and old fashioned stores. There are several chains, but mostly locally owned. We started at Waxman Candles. The candles are a bit pricey, but definitely worth it. I wanted just the small pine scented kind for my little candle holders in the living room to give my fake tree a scent.

We window shopped at several stores--one of my favorites being a southwestern store that has unique jewelry and accessories. Had I not had my Christmas list in hand, I would have gone in to look around. Instead, we went several shops down to the kitchen store. This is a little shop and it is jammed full of wonderful stuff. Aaron stayed right with me and we made a couple purchases and exited without incident. He definitely is growing up.

From there we moved on down to the toy store. This was a wonderful experience for all of us. They had a little display room set up and the boys were able to actually play with some things. There was a lady demonstrating toys (what a great job). I managed to buy the grandboys cowboy outfits without getting caught. Rather than the hats, I liked the "Davy Crockett" coon skin caps. They didn't have vests, so I might have to sew something up this week. After all, what is a cowboy outfit without a vest?

At 11:30 we headed to Free State Brewery to avoid the rush. Everyone has their own opinion about where to eat in downtown Lawrence, but we think this is the best. I had a portabella mushroom sandwich. It was delicious--so was my Wheat Ale.

After filling up, Kim and I made our way a couple blocks down to the Etc. Shop. We always have to check out this store if we are shopping together. If I remember right, we bought her prom dress there 15 years ago. It was a unique little black dress that she liked so well that she wore it her junior and senior year. They don't sell clothes anymore, but it is still a great shop.

We did "make a turn" in Everything But Ice just to see what was there. We looked at the antique mall, but decided Marc wouldn't appreciate us taking that long. There was one other store I visited, but if I say someone who might read this will know what I bought!

From there it was grocery store and home. I only have a few things left to get. Christmas shopping should be like this--the actual buying is as much fun as the giving.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are one of the most enjoyable traditions of the Holidays. I especially enjoy the letters telling about the years activities and updating the activities of children and grandchildren.

Today we received a Christmas greeting from the Robller Vineyard in New Haven, Missouri. Dan and I have enjoyed a fall trip to the Missouri wine country for years. We have gone by ourselves, but it is also a fun trip with friends. It is only a five hour drive from home so it makes a nice weekend outing. There are many vineyards in the Hermann Missouri area. Over the years, the Robller Vineyard has become our favorite.

Let’s see, under the “ramblings of a winemaker” I learned,

"We had the biggest grape harvest ever. Despite a little rain, the mid
August harvest of Vignoles proved to have good fruit. The Vidal harvest
was very large—so large in fact that we sold two tons of grapes to another
winery. The Norton grape was the last to be harvested in August and it
looks good."

I am glad to hear of a good Norton harvest as I do enjoy that particular wine. It is a dry,dark, rich wine that is delicious with a meal or sipping in the hot tub.

Under the “notes from Lois” (the winemakers wife) we learned of the Louis and Clark 200th anniversary celebrations. New Haven is on the Missouri River which was a primary L & C route.

One part of the Christmas letter that caught my eye was under the “upcoming events.” In February, seven Hermann area wineries are hosting a Missouri River Wine Trail Chocolate Event. Guests can visit the participating wineries and get a sample of wine with a great chocolate desert. Robller Vineyard Winery will be serving Chocolate Pasta with Norton Raspberry Sauce. The dish will be chilled chocolate pasta served on a pillow of whipped cream and drizzled with a sauce made with Robller Vineyard Norton and fresh raspberries and served with sweet Vignoles or sweet red Kasselfest.

This is the first entry on my 2005 calendar!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


As I mentioned earlier, we have a big beautiful buck deer in our neighborhood. Deer season is over and he made it--barely. Tom, our neighbor, had a broadside view, handed his gun to his brother-in-law and he missed twice. This particular buck has developed a reputation for eluding demise so Tom decided we needed to name him.

When I opened my emails tonight, there was a note from Chip saying he and Tom had come up with the name Casanova. According to the bio Chip sent me, Casanova, a handsome stud, was a wonderer with a love for the ladies. Men tended to not like him, although probably admired his prowess. Yup, Casanova is a perfect name.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Louie, Louie

My SHARE group had their Christmas party tonight. I think I’ve written about this group before. I’ve been a member of this little group for over 30 years so we are "old" friends.

Our Christmas Party consists of eating out. The past several years we have chosen to eat at a locally owned Italian restaurant called Constantino’s. The food is excellent and as Louie was quick to point out tonight, made from scratch. We all wondered why the local population flocks to the chain restaurants on the west side when Louie’s place is available, offers authentic Italian and competitive prices.

In small, locally owned restaurants, the owner is often there overseeing the operation & makes a point of coming to the tables to visit. Louie stopped by our table several times during the course of the evening. His children went to school with several in the group so there was catching up to do.

Actually, Louie Constantino is a well known name in the Topeka community. He has operated restaurants in several locations over the years but more notably he has been an oldies radio personality. His on air name is Louie Louie. I think he has hosted oldies shows on every radio station in Topeka at one time or another. He has been on American Bandstand with Dick Clark. I doubt if there is anything he doesn’t know about 50s and early 60’s music.

His restaurant is downtown at 10th and Quincy. Try it, you will probably meet the real Louie Louie!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Grace-full Christmas in Barbershop Harmony

Last night Dan & I attended a Christmas concert by The Sunflower Harmony Chorus. It was a wonderful concert, both in song and location.

The location was the Grace Episcopal Cathedral in Topeka, hence “Grace-full.” Grace Cathedral is magnificently beautiful with high curved wooden beams and native stone. We attended a wedding there several years ago and the pipe organ brought tears to my eyes. The Cathedral has many public musical concerts hence a wonderful setting.

The Sunflower Harmony Chorus is female; however, they retain the classic male style of unaccompanied tenor, lead, baritone and bass ringing chords. Their selections included “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” “Who Would Imagine a King,” “The First Noel” and “Silent Night,” which is always beautiful when harmonized. We especially enjoyed the quartets. Classic Edition was a past international champion and ZING! a reigning regional champion. All the quartets were good, but these two especially had such evenly matched voices that their harmony sounded as one. At the end of all the songs there was a slight echo effect that brought chills.

There was an afterglow with coffee and cookies and all the quartets performed additional songs. The evening was a musical Christmas treat.