Happy ‘house’ Hunting!


It’s amazing how one thing can change everything.

Happy ‘house’ Hunting!

There it was – a little hand-written note at the top of our receipt, punctuated with an exclamation point and a smile.  We almost missed it, both of our minds still spinning with the details of our dismal (depressing) home search.  We almost missed the very thoughtful and kind message from our waitress at The Greenhouse Grille.  Just like we almost missed the wonderful and fresh taste of our lunch, while we poured over pages of maybe-kinda-sorta potential houses in Fayetteville.

But we didn’t miss it.  And it changed our day with laugh.

Then again, our journey to Arkansas has been like this – painful waiting and frustration, only to have the absolutely perfect option handed to us like a gift.  First, it was JP’s job.  He’d been applying for positions since November and had only be receiving negatives.  Not a single offer, which baffled his family, friends, professors, recommenders…basically everyone who knows him.  Then he got the email from Arkansas.

He had applied to that position after the deadline.  I made him do it – hey, it was still posted online so why not?  A day after he applied, JP got an email from them.  The director had a short list already but didn’t want to make a decision until he saw JP’s portfolio.  A day later, the director asked for an interview.  Only 3 days after that, JP had a job offer for the job he’d been working toward the past two years.

Armed with a highly recommended realtor and a list of possibilities, we went down for a weekend and spent the entire morning looking through one dud after another.  Too far away.  Structural problems.  Foundation cracks.  Destroyed by 5 dogs and 4 kids.  And I could go on.  It was disappointment and frustration all over again.

So we stopped for lunch – fish tacos (yum!!), Southern-style iced tea, and our friendly, observant waitress 🙂  And then it all changed from there.  We met up with a professor who was moving and wanted to rent her home – her absolutely perfect, everything-JP-and-I-would-ever-ask-for home.  A house that changed our outlook on Fayetteville houses and made us hopeful about finding some place we’d love.  We even stayed for two hours, talking and laughing with her about everything from “woo pig sooie” to natural foods to cross-country moves.

We still have no idea if we can rent her house.  We don’t know if/when I’ll get a job.  We don’t know exactly where JP will stay in between starting his job and finding a more permanent home.  But if the rest of our journey to Arkansas is anything like our journey so far, when the going gets tough, that will be when the perfect job, house, or simple message on a receipt will turn things around.



The Filling Station

coffee beans and brewedEverywhere you turn in Austin there is some fun place to eat, play, eat some more.  We knew those places must exist here in KC, but hadn’t been able to find them yet.  JP especially needed a local coffee shop.  He had Zanzibar in Des Moines, Thunderbird in Austin, and…nothing…in KC.  At least not so far.

Then I stumbled on this fabulous blog – Finding Kansas City.  It lists for a lot of things, but most importantly to us, it had a list of the best (local!) coffee shops in KC.  So JP and I took our new car out for a short drive down the street to The Filling Station.

The second we walked in we knew we had hit gold.  The patrons were a completely random combination of student to artist to hipster to academic.  Perfecto for JP and me, who still haven’t fit ourselves into any kind of box and love hanging out with people of pretty much any and all backgrounds.

Oh yeah, and the coffee was great too.  I, however, must recommend the peach berry pie.  Crust that you could eat all on its own?  Now that is a prize right there.  We ended up getting some ground coffee to go, and I get to enjoy a little bit of The Filling Station every morning at work.

And, most importantly of all, JP now has his coffee shop that he can bike to during the day 🙂

Kansas City River Market

JP had missed his flight from Monrovia, Liberia to Paris, France.  There wouldn’t be another flight for two days.  Two days of staying in Paris’s 11th Ward, a non-touristy location, with my knowledge of French limited to “bonjour” and “merci.”  And I needed breakfast.

So I bit the bullet and wandered down the street, crossing my fingers I could easily find something to eat.  About one block away, I found a small bakery.  The baker/saleslady was extremely patient with my lack of French and we communicated by pointing and holding up fingers for “two croissants.”  As I walked along the picturesque stone sidewalk with a bag of chocolate croissants so fresh I could smell them through all of the many Parisian street smells, I decided I wanted to live in a place like that.

No, I don’t mean pack up and move to Paris (although, who would turn that down, eh?).  I wanted to live in a market-style neighborhood where you can pick up fresh food right down the street.  Where you can walk to most things foodie.

When I lived in Seattle, that place was Pike Place Market.  I always wanted to live in one of the apartments by Pike Place.  In Kansas City, that place is the River Market.


JP took me there for breakfast last Saturday morning.  The temperature had hiked up to 51 degrees and it felt like  KC might actually be transitioning into spring.  The River Market neighborhood is extremely cute, like someone plucked it out of a classic Western movie and plopped it right next to downtown Kansas City.  And the market itself is set up very similar to Pike Place – inside and outside vendor spaces ranging from Brazilian goods to a coffee shop to various produce stands.


The first thing we saw when we walked inside was a shelf full of Lebanese flat bread.  We got completely hooked on flat bread in Liberia, where most of the expat-patronized business are owned by Lebanese.  And they were still warm!  We ended up buying a stack of the larger flat bread and a bottle of shawarma spice for our favorite chicken shawarma wraps.


For breakfast, we stopped into the Bloom Baking Company.  The little man outside snagged me to try a fresh scone (I mean, who turns down a warm-from-the-oven scone?), so then of course I had to drag JP inside for some breakfast pastries.  I sat outside eating my spinach empanda, watching all of the market-goers shop the market with the city skyline in the background.  And in that moment I had that Paris feeling all over again – I want to live right here 🙂

A Little Piece of “Home”

“Do you want to do something tonight?  Y’know, since it’s Valentine’s Day…?”  I honestly didn’t know how to answer JP’s question.  On the one hand, my entire body felt like it didn’t have anything else to give, and I wasn’t quite sure I would even make it through my long commute home.

It had been a long week.  Long two weeks really, since we moved to Kansas City.  We had moved across several states.  I had started a new, demanding job almost 25 miles outside of the City, and my early mornings had gotten much, much earlier.  It was cold, and wet, and more cold all of the time.  So yeah, on the one hand I wanted to curl up under a down comforter and not come out again for our next 6 months here.

On the other hand, a little piece of me wanted to give Kansas City a chance.  Or rather, I wanted to give JP and I a chance at actually enjoying our time here.  I didn’t want our not-so-well-felt-out decision to keep us in a perpetual funk for 6 months

“How about dinner and a movie?” JP continued. “It’s not going to be like the Alamo Drafthouse, but I’m sure there are good movie theaters in a city of this size.”

For those of you who haven’t experienced the amazingness that is the Alamo Drafthouse, the short version is that it is a dinner/movie theater from Austin.  But it’s not just that.  It’s fun and funky, with a menu that generally follows the theme of whatever movies are playing at that time.  Like the Vesper drink that popped up on the drink menu right after the most recent James Bond came out.  Or the hulk burger that was oozing with avocado and hatch green chili peppers.  The Alamo Drafthouse is a movie-watching experience.

I googled “best movie theaters Kansas City” and much to my surprise…and complete and total joy…(drum-roll please) the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet.  By some miracle, Kansas City is one of the few cities outside of Texas that has been blessed with an Alamo.  So we bundled up our freezing selves and headed downtown that night to watch the new Robocop 2014, and felt for at least a few hours like we were back “home” in Austin.

Ok, so the menu wasn’t quite as “weird” as the one in Austin.  And the long tables had been replaced with tables for two.  But as soon as the Alamo-exclusive previews started to play – showing clips of the old Robocop movies, Robocop music videos, Robocop at the Oscar’s with PeeWee Herman, and so many more quirky original clips – we were able to put away the stress of the past two weeks and just enjoy.

Austin wasn’t perfect, but it was home for almost two years.  Not only is the Alamo Drafthouse a super fun place to watch a movie, for us it’s now a place for a pick-me-up reminder that there are pieces of our Austin home in more places than just Texas.

To Pack or Not to Pack?


When I was little, I would pack for a trip to see my grandmother at least a week before we were actually going.  I had this pink bag that said “Goin’ to Grandma’s” on the side, and I’d fill it up with my favorite doll and maybe one other thing…because that’s pretty much all that would fit.  And then I would drag the smallest sized suitcase in my parents’ powder blue, hard case Samsonite set (remember those?) and fill it with everything else a small child thinks they need to spend a week with Grandma.

I’m like that with packing to move too.  Once the decision has been made to move, I want to pack immediately, as if not packing creates this state of limbo that I’m stuck in for days, weeks, or sometimes months on end.  I always feel the need to move quickly on to the next chapter of my life once it’s clear what that next chapter will be.  Why wait?

This time, JP has decided we’re waiting.  First we waited to make the decision to move to Kansas City until the last possible minute – only a day before we had to give notice to our landlord.  Now we’re waiting to pack anything (other than books…he gave in on the books)…and there are less than two weeks to go.

As much as it pushes my personal envelope to wait this long to pack, I will admit that there are some benefits to holding off:

First, our home still feels like a home.  We can still cook our meals at home.  Our personal photographs are still on the walls.  Our clothes are still available for the days (like today) when Austin weather is up to 78, or those days (like the ones we’re expecting at the end of the week) when it dips down to the Austin version of freezing – 39 degrees 😉

Second, packing doesn’t interfere with our time to say goodbye.  We’ve made a lot of friends here, and taking the time to say goodbye to them all is…well…taking a lot of time.  And I’m still working.  Waiting to pack in one big day right before we move means that we’re not spending every evening packing and we can spend that extra time with our friends. 

And we don’t end up feeling like there’s one foot out the door.  We’re here now, which (oh the irony) is part of my theme for this year.  We’re not emotionally and psychologically already in Kansas City.  Instead, we’re here in Austin soaking up every last second we have in this beautiful, weird city before we move on to the next adventure.

All things considered, I still would pack a bit earlier than we’re doing this time.  But I will admit that waiting hasn’t been bad…and maybe has actually been beneficial 🙂

What’s your packing approach?  Early or late?