Wednesday, June 30

Seven Years

My husband posted this hilarious video on facebook for our seven year wedding anniversary. I had to share because it's so hilarious. Love the lyrics, love baby's breath in her hair, love the bearded guy in the guitar in the background. Oh, the classics.

Monday, June 28

Floral Bags

My client at The Loaded Trunk just got these into her shop. Floral is a huge trend this summer and these soft leather bags are fabulous. The line includes a swing pack, a larger bag with two zipper pockets, a smaller bag and a coin purse. They're not on her site just yet, but be sure to grab one when she does. Each bag is slightly different and they have a great vintage-y look.

Roni is also celebrating her first year of being in business. As many small business owners know, the first year is the hardest, so what an accomplishment! She is doing a month of giveaways to commemorate this landmark. So visit her blog, leave a comment and try to win one of her great finds from around the world. The first giveaway is a Vietnamese propaganda poster. See it here.

Tuesday, June 22

Westport Cafe & Bar - Part 3

photo from Westport Cafe & Bar website

I was a little remiss by not mentioning one very talented, superhot mixologist/bartender who was also instrumental in the creation of the cocktail menu at WCB as well as at Manifesto...Mr. Beau Williams. Ryan isn't the only bartender I follow around. You heard it here first. Any tall drink of water who wants to make me a martini many, many martinis will get my undying devotion. I love Beau so much I even made him a Bestie, "Beau & The Chocolate Starfish" inspired by the crazy things he says. Here's to you Beau. If I could drink at work, I'd be holding my glass up to you now.

Foxy Ring

Seriously too fabulous.
Mr. Fox Ring by Andrea Bonelli of Plum & Sage

Monday, June 21

Westport Cafe & Bar - Part 2

I mainly stopped by Westport Cafe & Bar on opening weekend to see my friend Ryan of Roundtable Consulting and (soon to be back) Manifesto. Ryan created the cocktail menu, but that night he was training in bartenders and mixing yummy cocktails. Like a sick groupie, I kind of follow him wherever he goes....but only if liquor is involved.

Since we were on our way to dinner elsewhere, I stuck to drinks,  and still, I couldn't resist ordering an oyster shooter. It was freaking amazing. Instead of your usual Bloody Mary/tomato juice concoction, the shooter was doused in tomato water and who knows what else, I didn't care. I slurped it down, got a giant smile on my face and thought about it the entire night and into the next day. A lemon wedge perched on the lip of a small glass, garnished with the all the soft colors and organic shapes of seaweed. Based on the oyster shooter alone, I decided that I was definitely coming back in for lunch the next day.

But that's the thing about expectations, sometimes you get let down....hard. Lunch was bleh. I was not particularly impressed by the presentation or the flavors. And my out-of-this-world oyster shooter from the previous night? It could not be replicated. They tried, bless their hearts, but it just wasn't the same.
Grilled Octopus with potatoes in a lemon butter sauce. $9

This was probably my favorite dish of the day. Although the octopus was overcooked and a bit chewy, the sauce saved it. 
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Tuna Sandwich with ginger aïoli and an arugula side salad. $10

The dressing needed a little bit more acidity and I would have liked to see this tuna cut up into smaller pieces and possibly marinated. It lacked flavor and the aïoli had absolutely no ginger flavor at all. Our friends made a tuna burger for Supper Club (to be posted later) that blew this sandwich out of the water.
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Steak sandwich on a baguette with caramelized onions. $11

Both my sister and George ordered this sandwich, and the menu description sounded lovely. The execution, however, was not there. This was almost inedible because the baguette was rock hard. The meat had no flavor and needed to be tenderized and cut into smaller, thinner pieces. Hard bread + chewy meat = disaster. We remedied said disaster by doing a bread swap (from my tuna sandwich) and stuffing it with arugula and mayo. 
See how much easier it looks to eat now? Notice the pile of bread in the background. There was also the small matter of portion size. George got a great piece, my sister go the butt end of the baguette with two measly pieces of steak. Did I mention my sister's pregnant and loves food? Boy, was she unhappy!
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I'll probably go back and give it another go since it WAS opening weekend. I love how the space is designed and I'm a sucker for a beautiful, fun, quirky, unique, etc restaurant/bars. But I see it going by the wayside pretty damn quick if they don't get their kitchen in order. Flavor and consistency, please!

Westport Café & Bar
419 Westport Road
Kansas City, MO 64111


Westport Cafe & Bar - Part 1

Westport Cafe & Bar went into the original Blanc location in Westport and had their grand opening last week. They did a fabulous job of transforming that space from the signature starkness of Blanc into a warm, sophisticated French café. The east wall is still the original brick but now it has a painted mural on it. Subway tile covers the rest of the space with red accents and traditional wainscoting.

Bathrooms rate high on my list of things to critique and WC&B did not dissapoint. They said goodbye to  the Orla Kiely wallpaper and replaced it with chicken wall paper, right on trend with all the animal imagery that I see popping up everywhere. Sorry, no pic, I'm not taking a camera into the water closet. :)
Each table is set with beautiful salt and pepper shakers, small water glasses and a paper napkin as a placemat of sorts. Very smart, functional and unfussy.
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A dad a the bar with baby. It's great to see how much more involved dads have become. The bar was quite beautiful with amber glass panels that reflected a warm, intimate glow to the whole space.
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As we waited for our lunch, an ominous storm rolled in (the weather has been so topsy turvy lately, we never know what to expect). Check out the wind blowing through the trees in this pic! The sky turned black and all the happy weekend shoppers scurried to their cars before they got soaked. It didn't last long, but what drama!

Huge thumbs up for the darling decor. I immediately felt at home and it makes me want to come back, sit with a cup of coffee by the window, and watch the world walk by.

Coming up next....a review of our lunch.

Thursday, June 17

Fine and Dandy Vintage

Wouldn't these look great together? 

{+} Miss Priss Sheer Blouse  » Medium » $35
{+} You Say Tomato Heels » Size 6 » $30
{+} Pantone Perfect Purse » Vinyl » $20

Jane Iredale

I was introduced to Jane Iredale make up brushes seven years ago during a temporary stint as a salon receptionist. Between getting my hair colored every four weeks and 2 martini lunches, I also learned how a good brush changes everything, especially ones that are super soft and work so beautifully.

Wednesday, June 16

Nothing But Rainbows

"Hurry up to the end of the rainbows so
we can get our pot of gold for Disney World!!!"
said Gavin to his mother Judy, shared via facebook

It was storming like crazy all over the city today. Bucket-pouring rain and wind and lightning that came down in huge, frightening slashes across the sky. But with the rain comes rainbows, right? Photo by my friend Della, who ignored the man behind her honking as she sat through the green light to capture just a little bit of magic.

They Draw and Cook

Salsa Verde by Geninne Zlatkis 
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A fun food and art blog for you guys to check out. Thanks to Geninne for sharing, she's one of my all-time faves so naturally, I like her illustrated recipe the best. Here are some of my other favorites....
Butter Beans with Mint by Salli Swindell 
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Crespelles by Maribel Castells 
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Chilli & Lime Sea Bream by Johnathan Hawker
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Tuesday, June 15

Suburban World Theatre

While G and I were in Minneapolis, we called up our friend Kristen for brunch and she suggested the Suburban World Theatre for its funky charm. There are other brunch places where the food is probably better, but where else would you get to see classic cartoons on a big screen on a Sunday morning?

It's definitely one of those places you go with a hangover. The theatre was dark (as it should be), the tables intimate, and the staff although quite friendly, looked about as old as the building.

Suburban is only open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings, after a full week of being a theatre, bar and event venue. As "fun" as this place is, it also had a certain depressing feel to it. Run down, mismatched and quiet, it had the feel of a bar that has been destroyed over a weekend of wild partying. Personally, I prefer bright, sunny locales for brunch. Happy places. Although I enjoyed my foray into Suburban World Theatre, it probably will be my last.

3022 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Brunch » Saturdays and Sundays » 9 am - 2 pm

Minneapolis Street Style

Love her look, too bad I'm not brave enough to call out and ask her to stop so I can take a proper picture! Stalkerazzi.

Open Road

Caught this gorgeous car on the road this weekend (George called it a Corvette. I call it a sexy, white convertible). It was rainy and cloudy for most of the time we were in Minneapolis, but this cute couple was not deterred. Don't you love that smiley face on the trunk? I would be smiling too if I looked that hot.

As I'm writing, I remembered another amazing car we saw in the parking lot at the hardware store. It was sitting there among the minivans and beaters looking like a million bucks. It stopped everyone in their tracks and we all stood around oohing and aahing. It's the same car, and it IS a Corvette. I. Want. One.

Click on the images for a closer look.

Saturday, June 12

Mini Terrace

This post is really for my husband. We have a back patio that needs a little bit of TLC and we definitely need some protection from those vicious mosquitos who hold us hostage indoors for most of the summer. I love how this looks and it actually looks doable! bluepoolroad » marieclairemaison » photography by Mai Linh

Thursday, June 10

Nessie Lister-Vial

George's granny passed away last month, I only had the privilege of knowing her for a short time, but I absolutely loved her. She was quirky, always impeccably dressed on a budget, and had a great spirit for adventure. Some people are afraid to go across the city to an unknown part of town, but Nessie was unafraid to travel the world....alone.

When she visited us for the first time, it was for 10 whole days and I was so mad at George. He was managing a restaurant at the time and worked an insane amount of hours. I was going to have to entertain and keep her company by myself. What was I going to do with her? What were we going to talk about?

We got on like gang busters. We worked the garden, went shopping, went on mini road trips, ate at fancy restaurants and hit up happy hours all over town. She was Nessie to me at first, but it quickly became Granny, and she was Granny to all our friends. She definitely left her mark on Kansas City. She said what she knew and what she felt. She held hard to old grudges and whispered conspiratorially about family gossip. That's how I got to know more about George's family!

I'm going to miss her because she instantly felt like family, like she was my grandmother too. George wrote a lovely post about her which you can read here.

Bye Granny, hope you're doing great wherever you are.
Nessie at The Capital Grille during her last visit in October 2007. 
The entire staff came out, each person French serving a different dish. 
We were showered with attention and friendship, she felt like royalty.
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On the steps of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art with George.
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Tracy the Graduate

One of my many, many cousins graduated from high school today. It makes me blink. Hard. Wondering what the hell happened to the last decade or so of my life. Seems like only yesterday, or even last year, that I was graduating from high school. Congratulations Tracy!

I have to share these pictures of our cousin Nicholas, who is such a ham. He loves getting his picture taken but is usually making a face, showboating, preening for the camera. Love you Nick Nick.

Here he is getting chastised from Grandma.
I can't wait to see what he thinks about that
picture when he gets older.
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Riiiight, so he wasn't listening AT ALL.
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Here she is looking all adorable and making me wonder.....
what it's like to have a brother....who you're nice to.
My sisters and I fought like crazy. Still do!
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Wednesday, June 9

Retro Vixen

Retro Vixen, a super cute boutique and pin up photography studio, debuted on 39th Street this past Saturday. We popped in after our ice creams and wow! The color palette is soft and feminine while the dresses, shoes, purses and kitschy gifts are fun and edgy, a nice balance for the sweetness of those cotton candy walls.

We have three smoke shops, a couple liquor stores, a tattoo parlor and a ton of restaurants on 39th Street, but clothing boutiques have seriously been lacking. It's nice to see things balance out a bit more. Welcome to the neighborhood Retro Vixen, we'll be back soon!
Owner Melissa Evans. Isn't she gorgeous?
Love her dress, hair, make up, her tattoos, everything!
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The shoe wall. Great styling, great presentation.
I'm in love with those platform heels and deathly afraid
of them at the same time.
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Cinch it in with a corset. Yes, please!
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How about an ice cream pen to write down your list of summer fun?
Those bento lunch boxes have my name all over them.
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They have beautiful dresses and skirts too, but I didn't get a good shot. Next time you're in the mood to vamp it up, you know where to go. Melissa says they also do pinup make up classes!

1620 W. 39th Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Closed Mondays

Sunday, June 6

Summer of 39

39th Street is always growing, always changing and the businesses and restaurants that have come and gone are so unique. They're usually mom-and-pop places that you wish had a chance to thrive longer and they are always, absolutely one-of-a-kind. I've lived in this neighborhood for about 15 years and I have known 39th Street ever since my family moved to Kansas City from Portland, Oregon 20 years ago.

My parents opened a Chinese restaurant where the frame gallery now sits, next to Havana Cigar Shop. To kill the boredom, we used to pop down to Mr. Z's In-n-Out grocer for candy. Or to the art gallery next door for a breeze through. My car back then, a 1982 Toyota Corrolla hatchback, was stolen on 39th Street. It was later found in front of a crack house, but hey I got it back! I've celebrated birthdays, drank many martinis, and have shopped and dined at almost all the businesses that have made their way to this street.

I've already posted two 39th Street excursions in the last week or so and since I hold this area near and dear to my heart, I will be visiting and posting about all the other places we love there too. My ode to 39th Street....summer of 2010....look for it!

Ice, Ice Baby

When this sign when up a few years ago on 39th Street, I thought to myself, not another cheesy, lame bar/restaurant that will close down in six months. Miami Ice? What a stupid name.

Well, I was wrong. Again. And I'm so glad I was. Miami Ice is actually a sweet, little ice cream shop. It's not the fancy kind with themostamazing ice cream you'll ever taste. It's just your simple soft-serve or scooped-out-of-a-tub ice cream. There are smoothies, frozen yogurts, shaved ice and hot dogs too, but for me, when the temperature is hovering in the upper 90s, a vanilla soft serve in a waffle cone is what hits the spot. No toppings, no chocolate twist. Just a spoon and the constant humidity of a Kansas City summer.
When I'm not in the mood to spend $15-$20 on an ice cream excursion, trust me, it can happen, Miami Ice is definitely the place to go. It's in my neighborhood and the owner (who also owns Fric & Frac) is super nice. It's also the only ice cream shop that has stayed in business for more than one season on 39th Street. Anyone remember Angie's or The Big Lick, among others? Exactly. Cheap ice cream + insanely, hot weather = match made in heaven.

1624 W. 39th Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Friday, June 4

Sunday Brunch

I love wearing dresses and I love that this shop is named after one of my favorite meals of the week!

Thursday, June 3

Urban Picnic Projects

Now that Urban Picnic  is a few weeks behind me, I finally have time to share all the projects we worked on. As with most fundraisers, the budget is always stretched paper thin and you have to find creative ways to bring an event to life without looking too crafty and home-made. Here are some things we did to create a cohesive look without a lot of money. Our 700+ person event had three areas, indoor and outdoor, that needed to be designed and our budget was roughly $1,000, achieved with many, many, many (wo)man hours and buckets of sweat equity. 

1. Pick a theme and stick with it. Our theme was black and white (one spot color) which is really great for budget-minded events. We stuck to that palette for our patterns, textiles, floral arrangements, signage, and even our clothes! The fence basket and marble chess board were both estate sale finds. photo by Elizabeth Cook
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2. Use the resources you have creatively. Buying bottles and containers for "grouping" centerpieces can be very costly. We recycled wine bottles and cans of all sizes, hit up estate sales for old jars and vases and gave it our own twist. Bottles were découpaged with old books, newspapers and law journals or primed and spray painted. Yes, it took forever, but the results were absolutely worth it.

In this window display, the large black frame was thrifted for $2 and all the bottles were recycled. The only cost was for the spray paint, Modge Podge and flowers. Top photo by Elizabeth Cook; Bottom photo by Fresh Fish Creative
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3. Look everywhere for inspiration, especially in our great blogging community. During one of our craft nights before Urban Picnic, I had found a tutorial on how to make fabric flower pins. Rebecca took that idea and made it her own, turning pages from old books into paper flowers that worked beautifully with the live flowers and wheatgrass. She even made us all flower pins (my sister is wearing one in the picture below)! photos by Elizabeth Cook
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I found this project on katiedid's blog and instead of Christmas carols, we adapted it to our event using food sayings and ingredients. Each letter was handcut and strung on fishing line. It looked amazing and really gave the room a lot of depth. Worth every, finger-cramping moment when you see the final results!

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4. Wheatgrass is our friend. It's inexpensive, grows quickly and looks adorable inside. We have used it often for fundraisers and the reaction to it is always the same, people love it. Rebecca grows it in organic soil in case you want to juice it up, gives it plenty of water and sunshine and in 10 days, voilà! For this event, we grew wheatgrass in cans, milk glass and jars. The cloud in the background was re-used from the previous year's decor and the frame was a 50¢ find at a garage sale. With a bit of paint, some twine and paper flowers, it was a great art piece. Top photo by Fresh Fish Creative, Bottom two by Elizabeth Cook
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5. Make lots of everything, you want the space to look complete and not like you ran out of money. We filled the entire space so that everywhere you turned, you'd see all the details that pulled everything together. This restaurant had a wide wall in the middle that separated two rows of booths. Hydrangeas and ranunculus lined the entire way down for drama and impact. photo by George Vial
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We found a little picnic table that once held condiments, painted it white and found four perfectly sized glass jars for a simple but fun table centerpiece for our media sponsor that evening. photo by Elizabeth Cook

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6. Signage can get expensive. To stay on budge, we kept it simple and made as much by hand as possible. Black and white prints on card stock were popped into a painted frames for our VIP table and drink stations. photo by Elizbeth Cook 
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Using the same font and style, we printed all the restaurant names onto cardstock, trimmed them and spray mounted them to black card stock with a chopstick in the middle and stuck them inside cans of wheat grass. The menu items got the same treatment but on folded cardstock. photos by George Vial
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I had been collecting clipboards for a while, free from the discard pile at work and some for mere pennies at garage sales. So they all got spray painted with chalkboard paint and there you have it, instant signage for our entertainment. Top photo by George Vial, Bottom photo by Elizabeth Cook
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Design and styling was a combined effort between the talented Rebecca Thao and myself. It was all possible because of the countless hours dedicated to crafting, which we affectionately called "Sweatshop," with loads of help from our friends Lynn Klein, Mary Rivera and Trinh Trieu. Of course, there were other worker bees who helped design the website, event materials, helped set up and basically worked their butts off too. You can see our whole committee here at the Urban Picnic blog.

As much fun as we had, and as proud as I am of the event, can I say I'm glad it's over? Whew!