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?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Specialized Experience

About six years ago, I bought a bike.  I didn't have a whole lot of disposable income, so I opted for a $300 hybrid -- a 2006 Diamondback Edgewood, to be exact.  It's been a good bike, but it's had some issues, particularly with the seat and the handlebars.

However, I am proud to say that I fixed the seat issue yesterday all. by. myself.

Within the last several years, both my mom and my brother have become avid cyclists, and both have road bikes.  A few of my friends also have road bikes, and keeping up with them on a bulky hybrid is quite difficult.  I decided that I really wanted a road bike, but I really didn't want to spend the $1,000 for one.

When my good friend and close colleague Linds said that she was getting a new road bike, I asked if I could buy her old one.  She said no -- she would just give it to me.

Yeah.  I couldn't believe it either.

I picked up the bike from Linds' house a couple of months ago, and it's just been sitting in my basement since I was too afraid to take it to a shop for fear of how much it would cost to fix.  After all, it's quite old, and Linds thought it needed a lot of work.

Well, I finally took it to the shop last week and picked it up yesterday.  They did a tune up, put a new tube in the back tire, installed a new front tire, gave me new pedals, hooked me up with shoes and cleats, threw in a water bottle, rewrapped the handlebars, discarded the aero bars that were duct-taped on, and cleaned it up all nice and pretty.

So, for less than $300, I have a like-new Specialized (I think it's an M2 Road Pro), and I could not be more excited.

I have had to figure out a few things with this new bike, though.  For instance, I could not for the life of me figure out how to shift gears.  Thankfully, Wikipedia proved to be an excellent resource.

The biggest thing I had to figure out, however, was how to clip in and out of the pedals.  The technician at Rasmussen's taught me how to do it, and then he advised that I head home and center myself in a door frame to practice.  I did that, but wow: that was tough.  I decided it might be easier to just head out to the parking lot and give it a go there.

And you know what?  It worked!  I can clip in and out with no problem.

Granted, I'll probably biff it in the middle of an intersection tomorrow, but whatev.  At least I think I'm good-to-go for now!

The bike will definitely take some getting used to (the body position while riding is so much different than what I'm used to), but I am so excited to take it for some rides this week.

Anyone up for heading down to the Cumming Tap on the Fourth of July?  You know you want to!

Any advice you can offer about "for real" cycling?  What is the number one piece of equipment that you can't live without?

I, for one, am thinking I'm going to need some padded shorts for this itty-bitty seat.

But that'll be a purchase for another day!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Goal Recap

Last week I posted about how difficult it is for me to live a healthy lifestyle during the summer.  I then posted some goals.  Let's see how those panned out, shall we?

Drink a lot of water

I did drink a lot of water, but it's hard to measure this when I did not give myself a specific goal.  From here on out, I'm going to say that I'm going to drink at least five water bottles (750 ml each) per day, which totals 3.75 liters.

Workout six days per week and run at least one day (a minimum of three miles)

I worked out five days last week, skipping Friday (I was lazy) and Sunday (I didn't have anything scheduled).  I did not run at all.  Wah wah.

Limit myself to no more than two nights with booze (likely Wednesday and Saturday)

Let's see how this went down.  On Tuesday, I played trivia with my friends, and there was a Moscow Mule, an Angry Orchard, and a couple Michelob Ultras involved.  On Friday, we went to the Arts Festival, and there were a few cocktails consumed.  On Saturday, I headed to a friend's show and had a couple of brew-skis.

Allow myself no more than three out-to-eat meals

This was an epic fail.  I had McDonald's (I know!) and Bruegger's for a couple of breakfasts, I had Django and a Hawaiian meal the night of the Arts Festival, I had La Hacienda prior to the show on Saturday, and I'm sure there were other here-and-there dining experiences that I'm forgetting.

And you know what's really bad?  I have not gone grocery shopping yet this week.


Blog at least five times [last] week



Well, I suppose I'll try again this week -- although I can already tell you that goals three and four are going to be tough to reach, especially with the holiday falling in the middle of the week.  Oh well.

Stay tuned tomorrow morning to see what I'm super excited about this summer!  (Hint: if you follow me on Instagram, you already know!)

Peace out, yo!