Thursday, November 28, 2013


Throughout the month of November, I have been enjoying reading all of my friends' "What I'm Thankful For" posts.  While I did not participate in that Facebook fun, I have been reflecting on everything for which I am thankful.  And, I thought I would turn those thoughts into a blog post.

So, here they are (in no particular order).

1. I am thankful for The Boy.  Tony and I are so perfect for each other, and I am so lucky to have found him.  He is one of the smartest people I know, he is a hard worker, he is a huge nerd, and he cracks me up.  We can have fun classing it up out on the town, hanging out with a group of friends, singing karaoke at a dive bar, or chilling in our sweat pants on the couch.  He supports me in everything that I do, including handing me Twizzlers and Advil during a six-hour marathon, and he always has my back, telling me that I'm right and everyone else is wrong (even when sometimes it's the opposite).  He is thoughtful and compassionate and loving.  And he fixes my car.  :)  I am so thankful for him.

2. I am thankful for my mom.  My mom is my number one supporter in everything I do.  She is selfless, brilliant, strong, creative, and goofy.  She is the first person I call for advice, she has cheered for me in nearly every single major race I have run, and she talks me off the ledge.  I love spending time with my mom, whether it be shopping, looking through magazines or websites, running or walking, cooking, knitting, watching TV, etc.  We are pretty much the same person, so we have fun doing anything.  I am so thankful for her.

3. I am thankful for my dad.  My dad is the smartest person I know.  He can answer any question that I have, teach me about the most random topics, and drive me crazy by telling me to "look it up."  He is level-headed about everything, listens to me whine about stupid things, and always only sometimes tells me to "buck up."  My dad cracks me up with his silliness and comforts me with his deep voice and big bear hugs.  My dad is an amazing man, my hero.  I am so thankful for him.

4. I am thankful for my sister.  Erin knows absolutely everything about me (probably more than she wants to know at times) and loves me regardless.  She is kind, sensitive, and compassionate.  She cares so deeply about everyone.  She is one of the goofiest people I know and has a smart (yet super silly) sense of humor.  She is the best shopping buddy in the world and was the most beautiful bride.  I am so thankful that Erin is not only my sister but is also my best friend.

5. I am thankful for my brother.  Alex and I have always been close (and teammates in ganging up on Erin), but I think that the older we get, the better friends we become.  My brother is super smart and challenges me all the time, and I love the informed debates conversations that we have.  Alex is kind and compassionate and generous (though he may beg to differ on all accounts), and I know he has my back in any situation.  I am so thankful that he is my brother, and I know that he (very soon) is going to be the best dad.

6. I am thankful for my sister-in-law.  I could not have been more excited when Aly said yes.  I mean, I was pumped that my brother was getting hitched, but I was even more thrilled that Aly was officially going to be part of our family.  She fits in so perfectly with all of us: she is silly, smart, and sassy.  She is a huge nerd and gives the best book recommendations of anyone I know.  She cares so deeply about everyone, and I feel like we are more than just "in-laws."  I am so thankful for Aly and know that she is going to be an amazing mommy.

Image stolen from the Book of Faces.  Thanks, Lucy!  :)
7. I am thankful for my brother-in-law.  Tim is the most perfect match for my sister.  He is so ridiculously goofy, he is sensitive just like Erin, and he cares so deeply about others.  I love that we can laugh until we cry while playing Cards Against Humanity, and I love that we can chow down on greasy food and watch Parks & Rec at 2 a.m.  Mostly, I love that Tim loves my sister, and I am so thankful that he is in our lives.

Thank you, Wedding Photographer, for letting me steal this pic.
8. I am thankful for BFF.  Katie is more than just an ordinary friend: she is a sister.  Katie knows far too much about me -- and, like Erin, Katie loves me anyway.  She is the easiest person in the world to talk to, and she gives the best advice without making me feel like a nut-job.  She is the best travel companion, whether we are flying a few hours or we are driving cross-country (and getting lost along the way).  She loves me even when I am difficult to love, and she supports me in every aspect of my life.  I met Katie five years ago, and we have been inseparable ever since.  I am so incredibly thankful for her.

9. I am thankful for my soon-to-be-nephew.  I cannot even tell you how much I already love this child -- pretty much more than anything.  I seriously cannot wait to meet him and buy him all of the cute baby things I can find afford.  I know that Alex and Aly are going to be rock-star parents.  I just wish they lived closer so that I could snuggle my little nephew every single day.  December 8th (or whatever date he decides to make his debut): get here already.

10. I am thankful for my kitties.  Even though one of them is obese (according to the vet) and is kind of a jerk (according to everyone else), and even though one of them has intimacy issues (according to my dad) and is kind of a prissy little girl (according to everyone else), I love them to pieces.  I'm so glad they are going to live forever because I would be absolutely devastated if something happened to them.  I may talk to them more than a normal person should, and I may miss them like crazy when I'm gone, but I don't care: they're a part of my family, and I love them.

11. I am thankful for my job.  Teaching is hard -- really hard.  And it's kind of a thankless profession a lot of the time.  However, I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to teach for the past nine years.  I have encountered a number of amazing individuals who have taught me so much, both about myself and the world around me.  While there continue to be major demands on teachers and on the curriculum, I am thankful that I am able to use my creativity to develop rigorous and relevant lessons that sometimes engage the students.

12. I am thankful for my students.  Right now, I am thinking specifically of two students.  While I cannot go into much detail for obvious reasons, I will try to mention a bit about each.  The first girl is one that I had several years ago, one who became a young mother of two and who has worked her tail off to graduate (this December); I am so thankful for everything that she has taught me, and most of all, I am so, so proud of her perseverance in the face of great adversity.  The second girl is one who is currently in my class, and one who is succeeding due to a number of barriers; she is relatively new to the country and is not afraid to ask for help in getting involved in positive extra-curricular activities, most of which will only benefit her academic success.  I am so thankful that she trusts me enough to confide in me and that she is not afraid to ask for help.  While those two girls are on my mind at this particular moment, I have taught over 1,000 students over the years, all of whom have affected me in one way or another.

13. I am thankful for my health.  Far too often, I take for granted the fact that I am healthy, that I can see, that I can hear, that I can walk, that I can think, that I am not dependent on medications, etc.  Every day, I am trying to be more cognizant of (and therefore grateful for) my health.  While I may complain about how my "throat hurts" or my "contacts are annoying" or my "tummy is too chubby," I need to instead focus on how healthy I truly am -- and how thankful I am for that.

14. I am thankful for the ability to run miles and miles at a time.  While it would be difficult for me to go out and run three miles today (due to months of zero training), I know I could do it.  I know that these legs have carried me 26.2 miles, that this body has made it through several half marathons and countless smaller races, and I am so thankful that I have been able to do that.  And, I am thankful to have spring races to look forward to so that I get my butt back in gear.  :)

15. I am thankful for Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers Foundation.  The first reason I am thankful for Erin and the Foundation is because without them, I would not know Tony (see Number 1) or Katie (see Number 8).  I met both my boyfriend and my best friend because of my involvement with this non-profit.  For that, I am indelibly grateful.  The second reason I am thankful is because the methodology I learned while I was at the Freedom Writers Institute significantly impacted my teaching: I began to focus on the idea that everyone has a voice, the idea that all students have advanced degrees (in the streets, in video games, in athletics, in drama, etc.).  I began to reconsider the purpose of education and the way in which curriculum should be conveyed.  Because of that professional development, I became a better teacher, and for that, I am thankful.

Here I am five years ago.  How time flies...
16. I am thankful for book club.  I love meeting with an intelligent group of women once a month to talk about books, to drink wine, and to eat yummy food.  It's a nice break from the craziness of life, and there's not a whole lot better than time with girlfriends.  I am thankful for the diversity of the women in my book club, the fact that few people know each other outside of the group and that we meet and talk like old friends each month.  Lindsay, Olivia, Katie, Kate, Emily, Alicia, Leslie, Beth, Mindy, and Maggie -- I am thankful for you.

17. I am thankful for my education.  I am thankful for my liberal arts education at Drake, especially classes such as Literature of War, Latino Literature, and Community Writing, classes that challenged my ideologies and core beliefs.  I am thankful for professors like Beth Younger, Nancy Reincke, Jody Swilky, and Elizabeth Robertson, educators who pushed me to become a strong writer, reader, critic, and teacher.  I am thankful for the opportunity to earn two Bachelors degrees as well as a Masters degree in disciplines about which I am passionate.  And, I am thankful to my parents, my scholarships, my loans, and my grants that made all of those degrees possible.

18. I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to travel professionally.  I am so grateful to Des Moines Public Schools for trusting that I can represent them well in national presentations in cities such as Chicago, Memphis, Boston, and soon (hopefully) Atlanta.  I am thankful that the district has given me the opportunity to learn in places such as Charlottesville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York City.  Without the great opportunities for professional development, I doubt I would have been able to travel to these fantastic places; and, I believe that almost as much learning happens from the city as it does from the seminars.

19. I am thankful for the seasons -- and to live in a place where I can see the seasons change.  As much as I complain about standing outside in 105-degree heat and 99% humidity, and as much as I complain about sprinting to my car in a windchill of -30, I am thankful that I live in the beautiful Midwest and have the opportunity to see the seasons change each year.  While I think I'd love living in a city with year-round 75-degree temperatures, I know that I'd miss the spring, the summer, the fall, and yes, even the winter.

20. I am thankful for a roof over my head and food on my table.  Teaching in an inner-city school has made me so thankful for what I have.  I do not have to worry where I am going to sleep tonight.  I do not have to worry about whether I am going to have food for breakfast tomorrow.  Knowing that shelter and food are not certainties for a lot of my students breaks my heart and makes me wish that I could do more for them.  It's a lot more difficult to turn a blind-eye toward poverty and homelessness when it affects those whom you love.

21. I am thankful to live in a country where I am free to believe what I believe.  And, as much as I may disagree with them, I am also thankful to live in a country where everyone else can believe what they believe.  I cannot imagine living in a place that does not allow for free thought, that does not allow for dissenting opinion.  I believe that true learning occurs when people discuss difference in opinion, and I am thankful that I have that opportunity in America.

22. I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to see the injustices in the world.  While I certainly wish the world was a better place and strive to make it so on a daily basis, I am grateful to have seen what is wrong with the world so that I am aware of what needs to be changed -- and so that I can better inform myself and others around me on how to make that change.

23. I am thankful for the beauty in nature.  The expanse of the ocean and the peaks of the mountains never cease to amaze me.  It is because of the wonders of nature that I am certain there has to be something greater than us.

24. I am thankful for cabernet (and tempranillo and merlot and pinot noir and malbec and syrah).  I love relaxing with a good book and a glass of red wine.  (Kind of like I'm doing now -- minus the book, plus the blog.)

25. I am thankful for book stores.  However, my bank account is not thankful for them.  I would urge you all to buy stock in Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as much of my income is funneled into those two companies.

26. I am thankful for celebrities who use their position to promote social justice.  I am thankful for artists like Macklemore and Matisyahu and Daughtry and Mat Kearney who strive to impact positive change with their songs.  I am thankful for actors and actresses like Wentworth Miller, Jodie Foster, and Ellen Degeneres who stand up for equality.  I am thankful that companies like JC Penney and Cheerios defended their "controversial" advertisements.  I am thankful that these people and companies try to make the world a better place, even though they may gain "haters" and, in turn, harm their careers and/or businesses.

27. I am thankful that I live in a state that believes in equal rights.  Love is love, yo.

28. I am thankful for my friend group.  I am thankful for Mindy, Juan Carlos, Eric, Alicia, Katie, Shaw, and Tony.  I am thankful that we get together fairly often for dinner and that we can sit around watching football and having a blast.  I am also thankful for so many amazing friends: Maggie, Melissa, Lindsey, Cindi, Chris, Rich, Mark, Cindy, and so many more that I cannot even begin to name.

29. I am thankful for my extended family.  My grandma, my aunts and uncles, my cousins -- people who I love dearly and wish I could see more than I do.  I love spending time with them and wish that we weren't spread out all over the country (although it does make for fun travels).  And on a related note (perhaps we can call this "29.5," I am thankful for cell phones, email, Facebook, and blogs, all of which we use to keep in touch).

30. I am thankful for yoga pants and tank-tops.  Seriously.  I like being comfortable -- and, more often than not, change into this outfit within five minutes of walking into my apartment.

I am thankful for so, so much more.  But as this post has already taken me hours to write, I must call it good for now.

If you have not yet listened to Josh Groban's song Thankful (you've had six years to do so), I strongly encourage you to listen to it tonight.  Here's a bit to get you started:

Somedays we forget
To look around us
Somedays we can't see
The joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give.

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be.
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see.
It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for.

There truly is so much to be thankful for.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and were able to spend it relaxing with those you love most in this world.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

12 Things

I've been gone a while.  And, I have no excuses.

Well, I kind of do.  I've been working through some things negativity lately, some of which I may write about when I find the words to do so, and some of which I may not.  I have not yet decided.

But for now, I wanted to write something a little light-hearted and completely not related to fitness or healthy living.

I'm sure y'all have seen the status updates on the Book of Faces: "Here are 17 facts many people don't know about me.  'Like' this status, and I'll give you a number."  I "liked" a friend's status, but only because I thought what she shared was interesting.  Clearly, I did not read the instructions.  She sent me the number "12" last night.  Since I think that'd be an awfully long Facebook status, I decided to write a blog post.

Here goes!

1. Before I went to a Kid Rock concert, I learned every single lyric to Picture, just in case the female vocalist lost her voice last minute and he needed someone to step in to replace her.  (The replacement would be found via a karaoke contest through a local radio station, duh.)

I'd totally be his Sheryl Crow.
Alas, he did not utilize my angelic voice for that concert, but I did get a decent rendition down for our semi-regular karaoke adventures.

2. My first job was as a soccer referee.  While it paid well, the toll it took on this sensitive girl's emotions was just not worth it.  How middle-aged parents get off screaming obscenities at a 15-year-old girl is beyond me.

3. I used to absolutely despise broccoli and cottage cheese, and now they are two of my favorite foods.  My intense hatred of peas, on the other hand, will never change.

4. The first author I ever met was Vicki Grove, and her books (The Fastest Friend in the WestGoodbye my Wishing Star, etc.) were some of my favorites growing up.  I remember being starstruck when I met her -- not once, but twice -- and thought she was just about the coolest person in the universe.  It would be so cool to talk to her now (and read her books again!).

5. When I was younger, I watched the movie Now and Then on repeat.  While I had the entire movie memorized, I tended to focus on this scene:

Devon Sawa was soooooooo dreamy.

6. My favorite smell in the world is my mom's bathrobe.  ( I sound like a creeper.)  My mom used to wear a peach terrycloth robe, and it had the best smell, likely because she put it on every night right after taking a bath.  When she got a new robe, I took the old one and put it in my closet at home, trying to preserve that smell.  (Yep........super creepy.)

7. I love traveling, and outside of the United States, I have only been to Germany and the Caribbean (Grand Cayman, Mexico, and the Bahamas).  One of the places I would love to visit most in this world is West Africa, specifically Sierra Leone.

Seriously, how pretty is that?!
8. If I ever leave my career in public education, I would like to work in the prison system.  (However, The Boy is not so sure he would like that career choice for me -- something about safety, blah blah blah.)  At Drake, I took a class called Community Writing, which was a collaborative writing circle between the women at the university and the women at the women's prison.  It struck a passion in me, to say the least.

9. I sure had to "kiss a lot of frogs" (as my mom so lovingly put it), but I finally found my Prince Charming, the man of my dreams.  We met in 2008, reconnected four years later, and have been so happy ever since.  I love our story and would not have it any other way.

Hands off, ladies.  He's all mine.
10. I dropped AP Calculus in high school.  I mean, I was going to be an English teacher and therefore didn't need to take it, it was hard and was going to be too much work my senior year of high school, and I wanted to take more art classes.  Well, you know what they say about karma.  As soon as I got to Drake, they told me I did, in fact, have to take calculus since I tested out of algebra.  I went to every single "supplemental instruction" session, bugged my professor to no end, harassed upper-classmen to tutor me, and ended the semester with an A.  Now, I have no idea what calculus is.

11. Ever since seeing the movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, I have wanted a blue kitchen.  (Kate Hudson has a blue kitchen in that movie, I swear.)  Someday I, too, will have a blue kitchen.

12. If I have the time to do so, I would much rather take a cross-country road-trip than fly.  I think exploring new parts of the country -- even if it is just driving through -- is so interesting.  When The Boy and I drove from Long Beach to Des Moines, we were in awe of the desert heat in the middle of Nevada, the amazing rock formations in Utah, the mountains and valleys in Colorado, and the expanse of the prairie in Nebraska.  And when BFF and I drove from Des Moines to Daytona Beach, we loved counting the federal penitentiaries, the adult superstores, and the Waffle Houses.

I hope you all have been well, and hopefully I'll be back soon to write some more.

Peace out!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Weekly Plan

It's 8:00, and I literally sat down for the first time just now.  Today's been a doozy, y'all.

I ended up skipping the morning workout because I could not for the life of me fall asleep last night.  I think my eyes finally closed -- and stayed closed -- around midnight.  When my alarm went off at 4:30, I realized that amount of sleep was just not going to cut it.  So, I turned off the alarm and crashed for another two hours.

After school, I took a friend to get his car fixed, and then I headed home to change for Farrell's.  I hit up the gym for the 4:30 class (oh em gee, so hard) and then ran some errands.  I headed to Old Navy because in their massive sale, these long-sleeved tees that I love were only $6, and then I ran to the grocery store for the weekly haul.  Finally, I made dinner.

And, I'm now eating that dinner and, of course, blogging.

A less-than-stellar photo of the Chicken Tamale Casserole that I made for dinner.  Side note: I LOVE broccoli.  If you've known me for a while, you will know that that is insane.  I used to hate broccoli with a fiery passion.  Now, however, it's pretty much the only vegetable I want to eat for dinner.  In fact, I bought three more bags of it tonight.  Expect to see a lot of the green goodness in photos in the near future.
As promised yesterday, tonight I will share my weekly meal and exercise plan:

This weekend, I am going to cheer my mom and my sister on while they run the Des Moines Half Marathon.  (I am still halfway considering joining them, but I'm debating whether or not that would be a smart choice at this point.)  So, I'm going to likely carb-load with them on Saturday (gotta be 100% supportive, right?), and I'll also likely go for a four- or five-mile run that morning.  I am planning on taking Sunday off from working out (unless I decide to do a half marathon).

So, it's y'all's responsibility to keep me accountable, mmkay?

I've already had a request to share some healthy during-the-day snack ideas (rather than the candy I keep in my desk for my kiddos), but what else would you like to see from this blog upon its revival?  Please hook me up with some ideas, yo.

I apologize for the super-lame and ridiculously-short post tonight, but I need to go chill for a bit.  This lady is ti-red.

Peace out, yo.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

And, I'm Back

I don't know what the heck happened, but I stopped blogging for a while.  It was likely a mix of things: being busy with summer school and my sister's wedding, dealing with (good but stressful) life changes, starting school again, etc.  Couple all of that with the fact that I have been less-than-motivated to work out and eat healthfully, and you have a pretty sorry excuse for a healthy-living blog.

So, rather than take the time to write every night, I just...didn't.

But, I am in dire need of an accountability system at the moment.  Despite doing a couple of two-a-day kickboxing workouts, my exercise regime has been less-than-stellar lately: I tend to start off the week fairly strong -- and then take a few days off for whatever reason.  My eating has followed suit: the week will start off great, but then I'll pass out candy to my kids and have a piece (or two or three) myself, and then I'll go out to eat with The Boy or grab a glass of wine with BFF, and then it seems like all hell breaks loose and I say "screw it" to the ol' diet.

I have made a few goals, though, that I am hoping will get me back on track.  I feel like I have major commitment issues with healthy living unless I set short-term goals and see progress fairly regularly.  And, I have trouble sticking with my meal plan and exercise schedule unless I put it in writing, hence the blog starting up again.

So, here are some goals:

  • Lose 15 pounds by January 1, 2013.  I set this goal toward the end of September, so I had just over three months to do so.  This is more than manageable, as one can healthily lose 1-2 pounds per week.  If I lose one pound per week from now to January 1, I will have lost 11 pounds total.  I haven't stepped on the scale since I made this goal, but I plan to weigh myself on November 1st to see how far I have to go.
  • Run the Lincoln Half Marathon (May 4), Dam to Dam (May 31), and possibly the Drake Half Marathon (April 27).  I need to recommit to a running schedule.  I have found that running is the most sure-fit way for me to lose weight and to tone my core.  The ab work that we do at Farrell's has really been hurting my back lately, and I'm sick of having a tummy.  So, that leaves running to get rid of the extra flab.  The first of these races is six months away, which is more than enough time to appropriately train for that distance.
I worked on this goal this weekend and ran five miles -- the furthest (and fastest) I have run in months.  And, I didn't feel all that bad.
And, I ran in these brand new puppies: Brooks PureCadence2s, courtesy of a contest I won from Meals & Miles.  These shoes are awesome.
  • Drink at least 100 ounces of water each day.  My mom got me hooked on an app called WaterMinder.  Essentially, you track the ounces of water you drink, and the total ounces show up as a badge on the app.  It sounds silly and ridiculous (like, why do I need reminders to drink water?), but it really helps me a lot.
  • Exercise a minimum of six times per week.  I am saying "times" instead of "days" because I am planning on adding in a few two-a-day kickboxing workouts or a couple of days with a Farrell's workout in the morning and a run in the evening.  If I do three two-a-days, I believe I deserve a day off.  Granted, I don't think two-a-days will happen too often, but just in case...
  • Stick to my meal plan five days per week.  As long as I can stay relatively healthy during the week (with maybe a glass of wine thrown in here or there), I think that I can be somewhat non-restrictive on the weekends.  I rarely go super overboard and indulge like a crazy person, so I think that two days of not being super strict will be fine.
  • Blog.  Again, I'm hoping to get back to writing at least five days per week.  Cross your fingers I can actually stick with it this time...
I'll update you on the week's workout and meal plan tomorrow, but for now, I'll leave you with a few photos from our friends' surprise (!) engagement party this weekend:

This is my Des Moines "family," the people with whom I eat dinner every Sunday, my best friends in the whole world.  I love them all more than words can explain.
Me and The Boy (and our friend ME photo-bombing).  We're pretty darn hot if I do say so myself.

Thank you for understanding my extended absence.

Peace out, yo.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Busy Bees

As I mentioned briefly before, I am hosting my sister's bachelorette party this weekend.  The bash is going to start at my apartment for appetizers, cocktails, and presents, and then the gaggle of girls is going to head downtown for dinner at my favorite locale, Dos Rios, and then stay out for dancing and debauchery the remainder of the night.

Because we're starting at the apartment, however, The Boy and I decided we needed to do a major deep-clean.  Well, deciding to vacuum and dust turned into us deciding to rearrange the entire layout of our digs, quite a larger project than we had initially anticipated.  And we decided this Wednesday when I got home from school around 1:00.

Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take before photos.'ll just have to imagine what it looked like before when you are amazed by our after photos.

We started in the dining room and moved the huge kitchen cart from in front of our windows toward the wall that separates the dining room from the kitchen.

While we took away the cats' perch to look at the front yard, it really opens up the rest of the room.  We also took the skinny hutch that I inherited from my nana and put it in the corner of the dining room with some minimalist decorations displayed.

We then started in on the living room and decided to make a HUGE transformation there.  We moved our huge, uncomfortable couch from its original locale to the opposite wall.  We then took the dresser that my mom and I refinished when I went to college and moved it from the corner and put it opposite the couch, using it as our TV stand.  We put our open-back bookshelf next to the TV and are using it for components (Playstation 3) and DVDs.  Then, we put our cheap-o chair in the corner with a reading lamp over it.

I call this one "Chloe Photo Bomb"
We put a bin of random electronic stuff (and whatever else The Boy) wanted to keep upstairs between the couch and the wall and covered it with a blanket to make it look a little nicer.  Finally, we put the round end table that my great grandpa built on the other side of the couch and flanked it with the chair that The Boy bought me for Christmas (along with the storage cube that serves as its ottoman).

And this one?  "Charlie Photo Bomb"
We then bought a new five-shelf bookcase to put in the corner of the living room next to the door and moved our three-shelf bookcase to where the skinny hutch used to be.

Now we just need a few more things: a picture to go above the dresser in the bottom right corner of the above photo (or frames for artwork we already have), and all new stuff for the bathroom.  I have had a purple bathroom since my college graduation eight years ago, and it's time for a makeover.  Right now The Boy and I are leaning toward a yellow and gray bathroom, likely focusing on this shower curtain from Target.  (Now that I see this one, though, I kind of like it, too.  Thoughts?)  But, we'll need to buy a new shower curtain, a new liner, a new trashcan, a new toothbrush holder, and new towels.  So, we'll see when/if this makeover actually happens.  Eventually (and hopefully in the near future), I'd like to get a new bed and a new couch as well.

I know that much of this information was completely irrelevant due to having no before pictures, but suffice it to say, it was a heck of a lot of work.  My back is killing me today, likely because it's been messed up from Farrell's for months, and I further agitated it by moving super heavy objects for the past two days.  My arms feel like they got a crazy-hard workout, despite me skipping upper-body bands yesterday and kickboxing today.

Yeah: I skipped two workouts this week.  I feel like absolute poop.  It has a lot to do with lady issues, which in turn cause me to get ferocious migraines.  As soon as I'm done with this post, in fact, I'm off to crash in my cool, dark, and super clean and seemingly new apartment.

Stay tuned next week for a recap of a sure-to-be-super-fun party!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Workouts and Recipes

Well, I obviously did not post yesterday like I said I would.  Here are my excuses: I completely crashed after my workout and slept for another two hours before having to go to work.  And when I got home from work, I slept for another two hours.  Then, I had a meeting for another hour, ran lots of errands for my sister's upcoming bachelorette party, ate dinner with BFF, and finished reading a book.

There was plenty of time for blogging (had I not slept or read), but apparently those two things needed to happen.  And so they did.  :)

Monday's workout was kickboxing at Farrell's.  It was not, however, our normal kickboxing class.  Instead, it was a lot of cardio while we moved between bags, either shuffling or doing lunges, high-knees, or butt-kicks.  While I was sweating like a madwoman, I didn't so much care for this type of workout.  Yes, it was decent cardio, but I didn't get a good workout on the bags, which is why I like kickboxing so much.  I felt like I was too rushed to get from bag to bag (since there was a line of people behind me) that I didn't stop to concentrate on my form or my power when punching and kicking.  Normally my back, shoulders, and arms are totally feeling it after a kickboxing workout, but they were not so much at all on Monday.

Oh well.  At least I got my sweat on.

Now let's talk about recipes.

Last week I did not make a meal plan, and we all know how well that turned out (hint, if you don't know, it was a miserable failure on the healthy-living front).  This week, I was sure to make a meal plan, and I did so by trying to use up all of the random ingredients we had hanging out in our fridge.

And in doing so, I only spent $71 at the grocery store.  That is $71 for TWO people for ONE week, and it included expensive-ish items like a pound of shrimp, loads of produce, and a couple of different cheeses.  I was pretty pleased with myself.

On Monday, The Boy and I made grown-up BLTs for dinner.  We toasted whole wheat bread, spread on a thin layer of olive-oil mayonnaise mixed with chopped scallions, a couple pieces of baked prosciutto, tomatoes, a handful of arugula, and about an ounce of goat cheese.

We also baked some sweet potato fries and chopped up a cucumber (and topped it with salt and pepper) for our side dishes.

You guys: this was seriously amazing.  And, it came together in about 15 minutes, including the time it took to bake the sweet potato fries.  I'm pretty sure it will be on the menu again next week.

For now, I'm off to work!  I hope y'all have a wonderful day, and I hope to "see" y'all tomorrow!

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Wild Week


I've had quite the eventful few days, hence the utter lack of blogging lately.

Let's review, shall we?

On the Fourth of July, I went to a late brunch with The Boy and BFF.  We hit up one of our favorite breakfast places, the Drake Diner.  I threw the diet out the window for the holiday and ordered the eggs benedict (with the hollandaise on the side).  It was yummy.

Then, we gathered up our other besties and headed out on an epic bike ride.

First, l have to tell you: I love my clip-ins.  They are not nearly as difficult as I thought they'd be, likely because the dude set them to be as loose as humanly possible (and therefore the easiest to get in/out of). And, riding is soooooo much more efficient, as you get momentum pedaling down and up.  I had no reason to be scared of them.

Anyway, the bike ride was not so much a "hardcore workout" but rather a leisurely ride to various establishments on the bike trail.  First, much to BFF's chagrin, we headed to Orlondo's.  It's a dive right off of the trail and on the outskirts of Water Works Park, and it turned out to be quite great.  We found a spot on the shaded patio, grabbed a beer and a free koozie, and chatted up some other cyclists for a while.

We then hopped back on the trail and tried to hit up Confluence, a relatively new brewery in Des Moines.  Again, it's right off the trail, just behind Gray's Lake.  Unfortunately, they were closed for the holiday.  Wah wah.

So, we made the best of it and continued on to Mullet's, one of my favorite patios in the city.  We grabbed a spot at a long table, ordered another drink, and grabbed a few apps for the table to share: the Waikiki pizza (seriously, pineapple on pizza is heavenly), some fried pickle slices, and some chicken nachos.

Finally, we headed out for the trek home and quickly discovered that whatever route we took would include some pretty darn intense uphills.  We decided to go for a long-ish hill with not such a steep grade, and it took us off the trail and through downtown.  (I got to really practice clipping in and out on this stretch!)

We made our last stop of the journey at a neighborhood favorite, Wellman's on Ingersoll.  While I am not super stoked with the service at this particular place, the patio is pretty spectacular, and you know how I love a good patio!  We had a couple more drinks (gotta stay hydrated!), and I annoyed BFF as usual:

Just kidding: she loves me.

While The Boy and I had planned on hitting up a Fourth of July celebration with live music, fireworks, beer, and fun later that night, we were pretty pooped from our long day in the sun and instead ordered take-out and watched TV, hitting the sack around 10:00 or so.

I swear we used to be cool.

I ended the day with a pretty sweet tan:

On Friday, I worked out bright and early, cleaned the apartment a bit, and then pretty much lounged around most of the day.  I even declined an invite to the pool because I knew the weekend was going to be jam-packed with outdoor fun.  On Friday night, The Boy and I headed out for an impromptu sushi date and then grabbed Identity Thief from Redbox.  We both thought it was good, but we were both expecting it to be a lot more entertaining.

On Saturday, The Boy and I headed downtown with The Crew (our bestest friends) for Des Moines' annual two-day music festival, 80/35.  (We skipped Friday.)  We had a blast wandering around, lounging in the grass, drinking beer and eating festival food, listening to loads of live music, people watching, and having fun.

View of the main stage from our spot under the tree -- likely from a laying-down vantage point.
Find the Emmy!
Keeping cool with BFF in the water fixture in front of our blanket.
Hanging with The Boy.  How cute is he?
I have the best BFF in the universe.
Seriously: the best.

The only band I really went up close for was Wu-Tang.  I wanted to see them because they are just so darn iconic/legendary/famous, but I was not so much feeling the music.  First, they came on about an hour late, which was just annoying.  Second, I just did not understand it: there are nine guys, and it sounds like they just yell back and forth during the "songs."  Clearly Wu-Tang is just not for me.

This was a tough selfie:

But we succeeded!

After a crowd surfer landed on me and The Boy (about three or four songs into Wu-Tang's set), we decided to call it a night and head back to our car that was parked at BFF's house about a mile away.  After a day of walking around in flat-bottomed flip-flops and sweaty legs, my feet and inner thighs were so ready to be done.

(You're welcome for that visual.)

Despite Saturday's all-day festival being over, I'm not quite done recapping the Wild Week, believe it or not.  To wrap up the weekend, MB (hey girl, hey!) and I hit up yet another show at my favorite Des Moines venue: Simon Estes Amphitheater.

How gorgeous is this?  I am so lucky to live in Des Moines.

Simon Estes is an outdoor amphitheater that is situated on the east side of the Des Moines River, smack-dab in the middle of downtown.  Every summer, they host Nitefall on the River shows.  I've seen acts like Mat Kearney, Erin McCarley, Colbie Callait, and more.

Last night, we saw The Lone Bellow and Brandi Carlile.

MB is a huge Brandi Carlile fan, and I didn't know anything about her.  (Turns out I did know one or two of her songs, but whatev.)  Regardless, I absolutely loved her by the end of the night and definitely want to get some of her music.  It's totally my kind of stuff.

Thanks, MB, for such a fabulous girls' night!  I love you oodles and oodles!

So there you have it, friends: I had quite the eventful few days!  I'm ready for a somewhat relaxing week ahead, prior to my sister's bachelorette party this Saturday.  Eeeeeee!

See you tomorrow with a recap of workouts and recipes!

How did you spend the Fourth?  Have you been to any great concerts lately?  Who wants to go see Kid Rock with me -- St. Louis in August?