Category Archives: Entertainment

Date Night Idea: Painted Kanvas | Lawrence, KS

Painted Kanvas

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. –Vincent Van Gogh

For my 29th birthday (yea…I’d rather not talk about it…) I wanted to step outside my annual dinner-out-with-friends and try something a little different. So I decided to unleash my inner Parisian artist at Painted Kanvas in Lawrence, Kansas.

Painted Kanvas Logo

Painted Kanvas, right off Wakarusa and 15th St., is a locally owned paint and wine studio. The concept is simple: For $35, you walk away with a painting you create with your own hands. With provided canvas and paints, an experienced instructor leads you through the steps to create the painting of the evening.

Because I planned on having 15 to 20 people help me celebrate my birthday, I was able to reserve the studio for a private party (you need a minimum of 10 people) and pick the painting we would work on. In high school, I was obsessed with Vincent Van Gogh so I chose to recreate his infamous “Starry Night.” And although most of my friends cursed me for picking such a “difficult” painting, it was a blast to put together and I thought that everyone’s interpretation of this classic piece was amazing!

Starry Night
{My rendition of Starry Night.}

Starry Night
{My husband’s rendition of Starry Night.}

That was my favorite part about this whole setup—seeing everyone’s artistic interpretation. Even though none of us had picked up a paint brush since high school, we surprised ourselves with how much artistic talent we actually possessed. And while most of us took the process seriously, a couple of my friends just had goofy fun with it. Take my husband for example: He turned his moon into The Man on the Moon then added a horse getting abducted by a UFO to the landscape. I can’t explain his sense of humor.

For private parties, you’re allowed to bring your own food, arrive early to set up and then buy from the bar all night long. Ask friends to arrive early as well, so as to settle in with some drinks before the instructor gets started teaching the two-hour class. Our instructor was fun and super helpful. And even though it’s not a paint-by-numbers situation, she was able to deconstruct each step for us in a way that made sense.

Private parties are not your only option at Painted Kanvas. Check out their calendar to find out which nights are open to the public and which are scheduled for private parties. The calendar even showcases which paintings are scheduled for each night. Pay at the door, grab a drink, pick up a paint brush and unleash your creative side. This is a great place to go with your girlfriends and it would also make for an amazing date night. I definitely plan on going again.

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Rewatching Dirty Dancing Havana Nights

Dirty Dancing Havana Nights

Today, I would like to take this time to revel in one of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures: Dirty Dancing Havana Nights. Do you remember this movie? I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t. This 2004 flick flew under the radar—it was in theaters during the same time as The Notebook, so you were likely preoccupied with the profound realization that Ryan Gosling is hot, hot, hot. No worries. I completely understand.

But if you DO remember this movie, then you and I have a lot to reminisce about. Although its existence is entirely unnecessary, (A sequel to one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time? No thank you.) I love this movie. Not only did it give me something to watch during college on my used DVD player when I was procrastinating on a project, this campy reimagining of the 1987 classic was just plain dancing fun.

Recently, I was flipping through my cable channels on a boring Friday night when I discovered that this movie was just about to start. So much for going to bed early! I texted my roommate from college and we proceeded to watch it together way into the wee hours of the morning. (Thank god for unlimited texting.) So go ahead. Rewatch this gem with us. You won’t regret it.

First things first, the soundtrack to this film is so much fun.

Who knew that the Black Eyed Peas were alive during the 50s! Listen to it whenever you’re in the mood to move your hips.

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Meet Katey

Instead of taking place at an upstate New York resort in the 50s, this movie takes place in Havana on the cusp of the Cuban Revolution. Eighteen-year-old bookworm Katey moves to Cuba with her family. It’s a strange new world to her, and she’s not so sure about it.

Dirty-Dancing-2

Until…she meets Javier.

And of course they have a movie-style meet cute. He drops her drinks when waiting on her and her classmates. Her new rich snobby friends call him a racial slur. Then he gets yelled at by his boss, even though it was a minor accident. Weren’t the 50s fun?!

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Also, Mad Men was so very Mad Men before Mad Men.

Why hello there, Betty (January Jones)! Greetings, Pete (Vincent Kartheiser). Is that you, Roger (John Slattery)?

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Then we see Javier dance.

Just…yum. I can’t tell you how many “Salsa Nights” I went to at various clubs during college just in the hopes of meeting my own Javier. The man can move those hips.

Even more gyrating. Cuba!

I don’t know why this song is so catchy, but damnit, it is.

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Well, that escalated quickly.

Remember how Katey met James, a decently nice boy who appreciated her book smarts? Remember how gentlemanly he was? Well, turns out it was all a rouse. (That, or the writers decided that, if she’s to end up with the boy from “the wrong side of the tracks,” it’s probably better if they turn James into a racist and—just for safe measure—a rapist.)

Siiiiiiiiigh. As you can tell, I find this storyline a little out of left field. Oh well. She stands her ground and runs off into the arms of the beautiful Cuban boy who has stolen her heart (and ours).

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Dance montage! (“That’s a box.”)

So, Katey decides that James is a class-A jerk (which he is) and decides to help the super-cute Javier earn some cash to make up for the pay he lost when she accidentally cost him his job. (The 50s strike again!) And even though she may not yet realize it, she just wants to spend some one-on-one time with the boy because, let’s face it girl—You’re a smitten kitten.

Dance Movie Clichés

So naturally, they decide to enter a dance contest to earn some extra money! Better start practicing to loosen those hips, little lady. Javier’s got some teaching to do.

And guys…Guys! If they mix what he knows—how to feel the music—with what she knows—structured ballroom moves—they could win! Don’t you just love cliché dance movie moments? I do. I really, really do.

Dirty-Dancing-7

But Javier’s not her only teacher. Cue cameo!

If Katey’s going to pull this off, she needs help from the one man who’s wise beyond his years. Aging Patrick Swayze! (RIP) But here’s my one question: Is he supposed to be Johnny Castle from the original movie, which takes place five years later? After the Cuban Revolution, did he move to the Catskills and age backwards? Or is he supposed to be some distant relative of Johnny’s? OK, that’s more than one question, but I need to know all the things about Johnny Castle.

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Who knew that projectors could be so hot?

But back to the One True Pairing: Javier and Katey are watching old tapes of Katey’s parents back in their ballroom days on a projector screen in a musty garage. They decide to practice dancing in front of the screen, and Things. Get. Hot. It suddenly transitions from pretty, flowing ballroom moves to straight up grinding. Get it girl.

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The Best Scene in the Entire Movie

Finally it’s the day of the dance competition! The choreography to this is a lot of fun, and during the routine the couple shares their first kiss. I watched this movie with my college roommates a lot back in the day, and what I remember most are the squeals that emitted from one of my roommates mouth every time Javier and Katey share their first kiss.

Every.

Single.

Time.

We usually rewound the scene and rewatched it a couple of times in a row.

Wow, we were nerds.

Fun Fact

In the original cut of the film (as shown in a deleted scene on my DVD), the couple kisses earlier than the dance competition, but the studio cut that scene, making THIS their first kiss. And I have to say, I like this SO much better. It’s like the dance brought it out of them, and they just couldn’t keep their lips off each other for one more second.

I really wasn’t lying when I said I love dance movie clichés.

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Superimposed Patrick Swayze

Was Patrick Swayze super busy or something? They clearly filmed his scene at the dance competition on a different day than they filmed any of the other dance competition scenes. Nice try, editing room. Nice try.

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El Beso De Final

No lie: I learned all of the lyrics to this Spanish song, sung beautifully by Christina Aguilera. The song takes place after Katey and Javier perform at their final dance competition. They didn’t win, but the Cuban Revolution has started and Javier is excited about the potential for his country. (Hate to break it to you Javier, but you probably should have followed Katey to America.) Regardless, I love this song. It’s about sharing that final kiss with the person you will always love; it’s absolutely heartbreaking. (Also: Foreshadowing!)

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Ending Rewrite

My college roommate likes to “rewrite” endings to movies if she finds the ending unsatisfactory. For this film: “They go to America, become dance pros at a resort in the Catskills, die in bed together, old and happy a la The Notebook.” Seems legit.

What’s your go-to guilty pleasure movie?

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Holiday Gift Guide | For Her | 2014

All of these gifts are under $60. Enjoy!

2014 Gift Guide

1. Tartan Heavy Blanket Scarf from Tara Lynn’s Boutique

Scarves are a very popular gift for Christmas, but what about over-sized blanket scarves? These accessories are available in 11 different color combinations and are certain to keep their wearer cozy. ($39)

2. Tarte’s Kiss & Belle Lipsurgence Lip Set

Perfect for fun and festive holiday parties, this eight-piece set of lip tints and glosses is great for girls who adore color. Best of all, they’re formulated without parabens or phthalates. ($34)

3. Kate Spade’s Secret Garden Stud Earrings

Every girl needs a go-to pair of stud earring in their jewelry collection; Kate Spade has just the set. These navy stones are encircled with rhinestones that add an elegant sparkle to outfits. ($58)

4. Crowned Leaf Bakeware Rolling Pin from Anthropologie

Forget tired-looking wooden pins. Give this bright and cheerful handpainted rolling pin, which is made from handbone china, to the Martha Stewart prodigy in your life. ($18)

5. Personal Library Kit from Knock Knock

For the bookworm who is constantly running out of bookshelf space, this library kit provides a lot of nerdy, organizational fun. With this kit you’re able to sort who has borrowed what book. Plus, it comes with a date stamp that’s just plain fun to use. ($16)

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How to Throw a Clothes Swap Party

Swap Party

Every two months or so, my girlfriends from college (Rock Chalk!) like to get together and catch up. This month, we decided to do something a little different and throw a clothes swap party.

Because we are constantly asking each other things like “Where did you get that cute blouse?” we decided it would be great to go through our closets, find clothes we no longer wear, bring them to our next get-together and swap. We rifled through blouses, skirts, pants, jewelry, belts, shoes and purses, and we each walked away with a tote bag filled with free clothes. We are so smart.

If you, too, want to throw a clothes swap party, follow these simple rules.

Rules for a Clothes Swap Party

Swap Party

1. Invite a group of friends over to your house who have similar tastes. (Especially the friends in your life who love to shop.)

2. Set a few ground rules: no torn or tattered clothing; bring anything you no longer like, even if you think the item is out-of-date; and bring a minimum set number of items. We didn’t actually include that last rule at our party, but I think we would next time…I’m looking at you Laura. 😉

3. Also ask everyone to bring a couple of tote bags to use to lug home their scored goods.

4. Provide light, non-messy snacks. Our hostess, miss Kimberlyloc, shelled out quite the spread, including popcorn, nuts, chocolate and a chili feast. Serve lighter snacks such as popcorn and nuts before and during the swapping, and save the heavier foods, i.e. chili, for after (as reward for a job well-swapped).

5. Designate a room for wardrobe changes. You will want to try everything on before committing.

6. Also designate a space for showcasing clothes. We spread all of our clothes on a bed (see picture above).

7. Make a clear shopping plan. Here was ours:

Each person showcases what they brought. If you’re interested in it, you say so. A lot of the times, only one person will be interested in an item (granted, there were only four of us), but for cases that more than one person is interested in an item, put it in the communal pile.

Once everyone has showcased what they brought, takes turns trying on what interests you. Sometimes you won’t end up liking what you were initially interested in. Other times you will LOVE what you scored.

If more than one person still ends up loving what they tried on, then you have to “fight” over it. And by fight, I mean rock-paper-scissors. We’re so tough.

8. Finally, have fun! Then donate whatever clothes no one wanted to charity.

What I Scored

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From left to right: a cheetah-print top; a basic brown T-shirt; a green and blue striped button-up blouse

Swap-Party-4

From left to right: A blue and white striped blouse with buttons up the back; an orange, white and black striped sweater with pleather elbow patches

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From left to right: A black cardigan with sequined pockets; a black and snakeskin peplum top; a pair of studded hoop earrings

Swap Party

From left to right: black and grey tuxedo pants from Banana Republic; a blue and white printed peasant top

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Date Night Idea: Kansas Belle Dinner Train | Baldwin, Kansas

Kansas Belle Dinner Train
Photo courtesy Kansas Belle Dinner Train

Are you looking for a unique date night idea? Step into the 1940s via the Kansas Belle Dinner Train. This adorable dinner train starts in Baldwin, Kansas, which is about 30 minutes south of Lawrence, Kansas, and takes you through the beautiful surrounding fields for about three hours. The husband and I had a chance to enjoy a night out aboard the train this past weekend thanks to a Christmas gift from my mom and her husband. We got all gussied up (because where else can you wear a large hat if not aboard a train?), enjoyed a five-course dinner and experienced the Casablanca Express.

Kansas Belle Dinner Train

Kansas Belle Dinner Train
{Dress: New York & Company; Kimono: Target; Booties: Kohls; Purse: Marc by Marc Jacobs; Necklace: LC Lauren Conrad (Kohls); Hat: Ruche}

Kansas Belle Dinner Train

We went to one of their evening dinners on Saturday, which features a special murder mystery show. The theme to the show changes with each weekend. The evening we went the theme was the Casablanca Express: “As you flee across war torn North Africa, you have an appointment with murder. You may be a black marketer, a Nazi sympathizer, or at the mercy of both—wondering how you’ll ever escape Casablanca.”

The show was performed by two men from the Nebraska theater group The Likely Suspects. (Some of their shows are performed by actors from Theater Lawrence.) They were both very funny to watch (although one of the men laughed at his own jokes one too many times, in my opinion). But they didn’t put on the entire production by themselves, and instead enlisted the help of willing (or persuaded, if you want to look at it that way) passengers to play important roles. I was cast as Sam, the sassy waitress from Bogart’s Bar; and A.J. was cast as Leopold Dietrich, a German passenger. We attempted to solve the murder of one of the train passengers, which seemed an impossible task (there were too many suspects, and it was hard to pay attention to the storyline through all the laughter). We both thought I did it, because it sounds like something I would do, but alas it wasn’t me. It was A.J.’s “wife” Marlene Dietrich.

The best part was at the end of the night when everyone voted on their favorite actors. A.J. and I both walked away with second place for favorite actor and actress! I mean, we didn’t actually win anything, but still. We may need to consider switching careers.

The five-course meal featured a small appetizer to share (cheese, grapes, veggies); potato soup; the pre-ordered main course (I had grilled salmon and A.J. had prime rib); and dessert. Unfortunately, I have to admit that the dinner could have been tastier. The soup was cold, the steak a little fatty, and the fish a little dry. But don’t let that take away from our experience. The actors were fun and the atmosphere was delightful. Plus, where else are you going to enjoy a train ride filled with potential murderers?

Kansas Belle Dinner Train

If you’re looking for a fun and unique gift or date night, you should consider the Kansas Belle Dinner Train. The husband and I had a fabulous time, and fall was probably the perfect time to go because we got to see the beautiful colors of the changing seasons from our window seat. The three-hour ride on Saturday evening, along with the five-course dinner, coffee and tea, costs $65. (Pre-order a bottle of wine and request it be waiting at your table right when you get there. Trust me. The couple we sat with did this, and A.J. and I were beyond envious of their foresight.) There is also a two-and-a-half hour ride on Sunday that features a three-course dinner (and longer daytime views of the surrounding landscape) for $55. Visit their website for more information.

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