Wow, it’s been awhile. Life is keeping me hopping lately! This past spring when I started this blog, I kept telling myself that once summer got here, I’d have all the time in the world to get blog posts up. Wrong!
First, I got a new job, which required me to take a couple of classes in April to add an endorsement to my teaching license. Then, it was end-of-the- school-year madness, followed up by a June that was jam-packed. We hosted two birthday celebrations–one for my dad and one for Mark’s mom. Then came Father’s Day, and our annual family Fourth of July BBQ. We took the youngest son on a college visit, we had our bathroom floor redone–twice. Also, I’m hard at work planning a bridal shower next month for my daughter. So. Many. Things. Nothing more could have been packed into June, folks. Nothing.
On top of all that, we took two mini-adventures in June. I’m here to tell you about the first one today. By the time the school year ends, I’m in desperate need of slowing down and taking some time to “smell the roses”. Or in this case, the antiques. 🙂 Our weekend getaway to KC’s West Bottoms fit the bill perfectly.
Since our modern “farmhouse” is brand-spanking new, I’m craving some things to give it some character. One thing my husband and I really enjoy doing is poking around in antique stores, looking for things that have a story to tell– that have lived a life already. If you’ve never been to the First Friday Weekends in Kansas City’s West Bottoms, you’re missing out. It’s the perfect weekend getaway, and only about a 2 1/2 hour drive from here.
The West Bottoms dates back to the 1860s and is the original “downtown” of Kansas City. It’s where the railroads converged and was home to the Livestock Exchange. This 13-block area contains numerous huge brick warehouses, each several stories high. Today, those old warehouses are filled to the brim with antiques and flea market finds. According to their website, the West Bottoms has earned ” the title of the largest, year-round, indoor vintage and entertainment district. The District is the destination for interior decorators and designers, collectors and consumers seeking stylish décor and gift options with a history and patina that cannot be duplicated.” In other words, my kinda place. Some of the warehouses are open every weekend, but many are only open on the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each month.
On First Friday Weekends, you will find the streets lined with food trucks, full-service bar stands, live music and entertainment. Oh, and people. Hundreds and hundreds of people show up early to find the best treasures. We weren’t the “early birds” on this trip, because the school year had just ended and I was relishing being in control of my own schedule and slowing down a bit. So, we slept in, took our time tossing some clothes in a suitcase while we drank our coffee on Friday morning and finally hit the road before noon, which put us in KC a bit after 2:00pm. When we rolled up, the early morning shoppers were already leaving, so the crowds were fairly light. We still managed to squeeze in a couple of hours of browsing before the entertainment and food trucks started packing up about 4:00pm.
One thing I will caution you about if you decide to go, is that most of the warehouses are not air conditioned. So if you go on a warm summer day, be prepared. These old buildings are more than 120 years old. They have giant freight elevators for getting the antiques up and down, but the people must take the stairs. Lots and lots of stairs. And the higher you climb, the hotter it gets.
So by late afternoon we were HOT, and I was in need of a caffeine boost. After being sorely disappointed when the sign in front of one of the warehouses advertised a “coffee shop”, only to find out it was actually a guy with a Keurig machine (really? I mean, really?), we decided to head towards our hotel, and look for a coffee shop along the way.
Luckily the Home 2 Suites we had reserved for the night was right next to the University of Kansas Medical Center, so finding a coffee shop was a breeze. While the barista prepared our iced lattes, we inquired about places for dinner. She whole-heartedly recommended a BBQ place nearby, called Q39. Since KC and BBQ go hand-in-hand, we decided that would be perfect.
Icy cold lattes in hand, we checked into the Home 2 Suites, which was brand new and ideally located only a few minutes from the West Bottoms, with easy access to several restaurants. After cooling off in our room a bit, we headed to dinner at Q39.
It was Friday night, and the barista warned us that they do not take reservations and that there would be a wait. She was right, but we found a seat at the bar and enjoyed a cocktail until our table was ready. I sampled the Grilled Lemon Drop–vodka, agave, smoked honey, lemon, sugar, and a grilled lemon wedge. It was good, and Mark and I agreed we would try to make it at home. Also, on the menu was a Strawberry Basil Vodka Lemonade. We didn’t try that one at Q39, but it did inspire us to make our own on July 4! I’ll share that with you soon!
We were hungry, because we skipped lunch, and dinner did not disappoint.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a lovely evening drive through a historic neighborhood nearby–Roanoke. I was mesmerized by these vintage homes dating back to the early 1900s, but yet still so well-kept. I wanted badly to be able to tour the insides, too. But Mark thought it would be weird if I knocked on their doors. 🙂
The next morning, we did manage to get up and head back to the West Bottoms at a reasonably early time. And thankfully, Saturday proved to be a bit cooler, although much busier than Friday afternoon had been. This was the day we found all of our treasures. We moseyed through warehouse after warehouse, taking our time, browsing, exploring, reminiscing. After the chaos of the school year, it was divine to have no timeline or need to rush. We made several trips back to the car to stash our goodies, climbed 24 flights of stairs according to my Apple Watch and walked more than 6 miles. After all of that, we found a coffee food truck, and took a nice afternoon break in the shade with a frozen mocha.
After shopping a bit more, we headed out, had an easy dinner at a local wood oven pizza place, grabbed a bottle of wine at a nearby liquor store, and settled into our hotel room for an evening of Netflix.
On Sunday morning, we checked out of the hotel and headed for the KC City Market. It was sort of a cross between the Des Moines Farmers’ Market and Pikes Place Market in Seattle. We bought an amazing bouquet of fresh picked flowers, again had an iced coffee, stopped for some lunch, and headed home by mid afternoon.
It really was a great weekend. It was nice to take our time, not having to be anyplace at any certain time. We just did what we wanted, when we wanted. Relaxed, strolled, browsed, chatted, laughed. Bliss after the chaos of a busy school year.
Okay, so are you ready to see our treasures?
Here’s what we came home with…
- The red and blue book is called First Steps in the History of our Country by William A. Mowry and is copyrighted 1898. It’s in pretty rough shape, but I only paid $4 for it. I love history, so the book itself appealed to me, but my vision was to use it as part of my July 4 decorations. It looked perfect tied with some twine and displayed on the mantel.
- Under the book is a weathered looking flag in a frame with chippy white paint. You have to be cautious when antique shopping because some things are what I call “fake old”. This item is one of them. It’s not an antique, just something someone created out of junk, but it looks cool and wasn’t much money. You just have to be careful not to get fooled. I saw some things for sale that I’m sure came from Hobby Lobby. Some of the warehouses are strictly antiques or vintage items, and some are more like flea-markets with crafted or repurposed things that aren’t really very old. Just be aware, so you don’t overpay for something.
- Under the book and flag is a panel out of a vintage door. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do with it yet–probably make a sign of some sort–but I loved the crackled paint on it. You can find vintage-looking signs at Hobby Lobby, but this one is real crackled paint from years of aging. So much cooler.
- The terrarium is a crafted item using old stuff to make something new. The bottom is an old weathered piece of barn wood. The crafter fashioned the glass top to sit on it out of new materials. Not sure yet what I will do with it, but a terrarium was on my list of things to hunt for, and we ended up with two! Neither is exactly what I pictured in my mind, but they are both interesting nonetheless.
- The antique jar is for holding wine corks. We have a lot of wine corks. 🙂
- The J.J. Audubon book was a great find. It’s in rough condition also, but vintage Audubon bird prints were on my list to find. A lot of places sell them already torn from the books for anywhere from $4 to $12 per page. I found an entire book for $12. It’s okay that the spine is broken, because I’m going to take the pages out anyway and frame some for my vintage guest bedroom (I can’t wait to show you when it’s done!). Finding the whole book was fabulous, because I was able to choose exactly the pictures I want and can also change them out at some point if I tire of them.
- In the middle is a tiny vintage-looking bird with a leaf. It’s “fake old”, but it was so cute, I couldn’t resist it. I think I paid $7 for it.
Also on the list of something I’d been wanting for awhile was an antique scale. These can be found at Hobby Lobby or other craft stores, for more than the $39 I paid for this vintage one. But this one is so much cooler with its rust and character. In fact, the aged rusty brown looks great with my granite countertops.
This is the second terrarium I bought. It had pine cones in it at the warehouse, and I promptly threw those away and replaced with these cute little succulents that we got at the KC City Market for just $3 each.
We also brought home this horse weathervane spinner thingy. It seemed perfect for our yard, since we adjoin the horse farm. And it was on sale, so bonus!
And finally, my piece de resistance. The biggest item on my wish list was an antique brass and iron bed. We saw many in the Bottoms, of varying ages and quality. But I was excited when I saw this one. It has a bowed foot board that is very charming, brass finials, and came with the iron side rails, which some did not. It’s covered in chippy white paint. It was marked $190, but I offered $150 and he accepted. Some sellers in the Bottoms are willing to negotiate and some will not. It never hurts to try. We saved a little money here and there just by asking.
I did some research on this bed when I got home, and decided I got a good deal. It’s from 1910 and a vintage bed store in North Carolina is asking $350 for this same one, and that one is broken! This one is in very good shape for being nearly 110 years old. It’s going to be lovely in the vintage guest room I’m decorating. I’ll be sure to give you a peek soon.
I love it that my hubby enjoys antiquing with me. too. It wasn’t something he did on his own before we got together, but he has embraced it with me, and often finds his own treasures! This BBQ sign is something that caught his eye in one of the first shops we stopped in.
It’s made from vintage hardwood flooring with lots of scarring and wear & tear. The letters are cut from an old grain bin. We went back twice and looked at it before he decided to buy it. Then, he brought it home and set up this “garage kitchen” for all his smoker and grilling gear. I have to admit, it turned out pretty cool.
This is the second time we’ve been to the West Bottoms, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. It makes for a fun, and relatively inexpensive weekend getaway. A week after we came back from KC, we headed north next, for another fun weekend trip. I’ll tell you all about it soon.