Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What I'm Loving Wednesday

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving ...

... that I recently booked a flight to Baltimore to go see my friends, Bruna and Shay, and my "niece," Isabella in October.  I cannot wait to see this face in person.  I can only imagine how much she'll change by then.

... that "Bachelor in Paradise" starts soon. It's terrible TV, but it's one of my summer favorites.

... that we're almost to August. I have so many fun plans -- Twins/Rangers game, Iowa State Fair, concerts, etc.  I can't wait to get to them.

... the movie "Trainwreck."  Amy Schumer is hilarious, and the movie is just what you'd expect if you're at all familiar with her comedy.  I adored it.

... that I was able to confirm that the guy from my bold move last month is single.  Now, though, I have no excuse to hold back on my flirting. In fact, I'd say it's time to make a move.  I just need to figure out what that move is.

... that I haven't had any pop since last Friday. I'm trying to kick the habit again.  I really miss the carbonation.

... that I found two more concerts to add to my calendar this year -- Matt Nathanson in October and David Ryan Harris in November.  YAY!!

What are you loving?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Currently ...

Life is a bit draining right now.  I've been feeling sluggish and burned out in recent days, and I couldn't figure out why. I looked at a calendar and realized I haven't had a day off since July 4.  Not a single day without work.  I am not scheduled to work anywhere on Sunday, so I'll end my streak at 28 days.  I'm not complaining (I brought this on myself by taking three jobs), I'm just surprised I didn't notice the non-stop work until now.

I guess you could say I'm adulting at epic levels right now.

I'm also surprised I haven't completely disappeared from the blog world. You're welcome?

Anyhow, here's a quick catch up post.

Currently ...

... listening to "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. I'm getting a jumpstart on next month's memoir.

... sipping on green tea. I'm trying to keep coffee to the weekends.

... snacking on Boom Chicka Pop. I cannot get enough of it.  The slightly sweet and sea salt varieties are my favorite.

... reading "Don't Worry It Gets Worse" by Alida Nugent. You might know her better as The Frenemy.

... looking forward to all the fun plans I have for August -- Rangers/Twins game, Iowa State Fair, and four concerts -- Eric Hutchinson, Better Than Ezra, The Fray/Andy Grammer, and Meghan Trainor/Charlie Puth.  I cannot wait.

... annoyed with stupid drivers. It was raining and cloudy during my evening commute yesterday and there were people driving without their lights on.  Ugh.

... wishing for a day when I can just stay home and read/binge watch TV without any interruptions.  Sigh. A girl can dream.

What's up with you lately?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Music Monday: My summer favorites

Music has transportation qualities. Songs can take me back to places, times, and people with just a few notes. I've decided these are the tunes that will probably always remind me of this summer. I know, I know ... summer isn't over yet, and I'm not rushing it, but I think we're at a place I can make this list.  Enjoy!

My FitFusion instructor has been using it in class, and it's got a great feel. I also connect with the lyrics because I've decided I need more cheerleaders and fewer critics in my life.


I never thought I'd love a Jason Derulo song this much but man, I can't sit still when this comes on.  Another one I can blame on my FitFusion instructor.


I've been listening to her album in preparation for seeing her live later this summer.  This song is catchy, and who doesn't love a good song praising drummers?


I know this was released a while ago, but I just saw him live last month and the performance of this song was unbelievable.


They opened for Ed Sheeran in June, and I cannot get enough of their album.  This song, in particular, is a favorite.


 This song just sounds like summer. Roll the windows down and crank it up.


This girl's helping Meghan hold it down for the ladies. The lyrics of this song are my favorite -- "You can't be everybody's cup of tea. Some like it bitter, some the sweet. Nobody's everybody's favorite, so you might as well just make it how you please." Preach, girl.

What are some of your favorite songs this summer?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Why I love lunch hour workouts

Last week, I mentioned working out on my lunch hour and some of you balked.  It's really not that bad.  I actually kind of like it. My lunch hour is 45 minutes, so I have to use the time wisely.  

Here's how it works for me:
- Thanks to our onsite fitness amenities, I can get to the locker room and change in about eight minutes.

- I head outside or to the mini indoor track, depending on the weather. Outside, we have two ponds surrounded by walking paths. The larger pond is 3/4-mile around, and the smaller is 1/4.  I can easily get in two miles in about 25 minutes.
- I haven't take advantage of them yet, but there are also 30-minute classes such as Barre, step, yoga, and resistance band training during the lunch hour.  
- After my workout, I head back to the locker room and take a quick shower to rinse off (I don't wash my hair).  Then I get dressed, grab my lunch in the cafeteria (or heat up what I brought), and head back to my desk to eat while I work.

And here's why it's awesome:
- It's a nice break from my desk and my work. 

- If I want to do another workout after work, great.  If not, at least I already did something.

- My workouts are introducing me to other people in my building. 

 Next week, I'll announce my August Fitness Challenge.  Feel free to join in if you feel so inclined. 

I had full intentions of having a full week of workouts.  But they didn't happen.

Monday was my birthday, so that knocked that one out.  Tuesday and Wednesday, I spent battling a migraine and killer cramps (sorry if that's TMI), so I didn't feel like doing much except sitting.  But I made up for it on Thursday with two workouts.  And I feel so good about them, they might become more of a regular thing.

Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday:  Fit Fusion
Sunday: Off
Monday: Off

Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: 2-mile jog at lunch + BureauFit after work

I promise this will be a nicer list next week.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

35 years and counting

In case you missed it, Monday was my birthday. Some people don't like to talk about their age, but I don't mind admitting I'm 35.  In fact, I'm proud to be 35.  There are plenty of people who never get to be that age. I have known a few of them, so that's why I look at each trip around the sun as a positive instead of a negative.

Anyhow ... I spent the majority of my birthday at work.  That's the adult thing to do, right? I picked up my favorite coffee drink from my favorite local shop on the way to the office.  I enjoyed a light lunch solo in the cafeteria.  My coworkers and colleagues sent me kind emails and wishes all day, so it wasn't all that bad.

But I did take the evening off from my library job so I could take in a baseball game with my parents and a dozen or so of my friends.  Between socializing and enjoying Iowa beers, I was cheering for the visiting team, which is the farm team for the Texas Rangers.  They didn't win, but I had a fabulous time.

Can you tell from this photo?

Those glasses were really something.  I still have them, and I may or may not begin sharing them with other friends on their birthday.

All in all, it was a wonderful day, and I was reminded of all the awesome people in my life.  Not just those who celebrated with me, but those who took a few moments of their day to send me a text, a Facebook wish, or a Twitter shout out.  I loved it all, and it really made my day that much brighter.

Here's to another year!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Make This: Cheddar jalapeno cornbread

Recently, I was invited to a potluck party at a friend's house.  She was supplying tacos and encouraged guests to bring sides.  I began running through ideas in my head for what could complement tacos.  It wasn't easy, especially as the ideas of chips/dip and fruit were quickly snatched up.  Then, I went to dinner with a friend at a local restaurant and their special for the evening included cheddar jalapeno cornbread.  Winner!!  I found a recipe online and dove in.  It was a hit, so I'm sharing the recipe with you.

2 c. yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar
1 (15 oz) can creamed corn
1/2 c. canned sliced jalapeno (drained)
1 c. buttermilk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 c. unsalted butter

- Preheat oven to 375.
- Lightly grease an oblong 9 x 11 baking pan or spray with cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, sugar, and baking soda.
- Stir in cheese, corn, jalapenos, buttermilk, and eggs, just enough to blend.
- Stir in the melted butter.
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cornbread is golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Let cool in pan 15 minutes and then cool on wire rack.



Monday, July 20, 2015

Music Monday: NKOTB - "Happy Birthday"

A few decades ago, I thought this song would be the ultimate birthday serenade.

Today, I am 35, and honestly, I wouldn't turn it down.  Can someone make that happen? (And while we're at it, can anyone tell me why the guys are wearing Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Twins gear?  I'm pretty sure they're Boston all the way.)

Five years ago, one of my favorite musicians sang "Happy Birthday" to me and one of my friends who has a birthday very close to mine.  I really wish I had video of that moment.  But not the rest of the night. (Such a hot mess.)  Ah well.  I'll just have to imagine how it went, which is probably better than it actually went, honestly.

My birthday actually strikes at 12:59 p.m.  I was born the middle of a very hot summer day.

You'd think I'd tolerate the heat better, but I'm not a fan of being outside when it's warm and sticky.  Yet the things I love to do for my birthday usually require being outside.  Tonight, for example, I'm going to a baseball game between the Iowa Cubs and the Round Rock Express. That's the Texas Rangers' AAA team.  I'm fairly certain they planned to be in my town on my birthday.  Thanks Minor League Baseball schedulers!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Let's Talk About Beer: A summer treat

Summer means sweet treats and lighter beers.  I'm definitely guilty of that, as I'm mostly drinking pale ales and sours these days.  But that doesn't mean you have to take a break from the darker beers.
Behold ... the beer float!

I made one the other night with gold medal-winning Coco Stout by West O and locally-made ice cream.  Next time, I'll add some chocolate syrup, but it was delicious regardless.  Or maybe I could make it with chocolate ice cream?  Oooh.  So many tasty possibilities.

Unless you live in Iowa, you probably can't get Coco Stout (which is really too bad), but here are a few other dark beers that would likely make delicious floats:
- Guinness
I actually had a Guinness float at a local German restaurant. That's what turned me on to the idea of stout floats.

- Not Your Father's Root Beer

- Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

- Bell's Kalamazoo Stout 

- Boulder Chocolate Shake Porter 
This one tastes like a chocolate shake all on it's own. I can imagine how great it'd taste with some ice cream.

- Oskar Blues Death By Coconut

- DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus
I still haven't had this beer, but it promises chocolate and peanut butter, which is a winning combination for me every time.

The biggest tip I can give you is to put the beer in the glass first before adding the ice cream.  And enjoy it slowly so the ice cream has time to really mix in with the beer!

Let me know if you try this -- with one of the beers I suggest or one of you're own choosing.  I'd love to hear your feedback.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Weekly Reads, Vol. 39

Steph at Life According to Steph talks about being an encourager and why more of us should join her ranks. Since I'm currently in search of more cheerleaders and fewer critics, I'm definitely in her camp.

Kelly at Knowing Kelly described her sugar addiction and the struggle in cutting refined sugar from our diets. Have you ever tried it? 

Angie at My So-Called Chaos spoke to my heart (which is definitely too big) in her post entitled, "My Heart's Too Big For My Own Body." This is me to a T.

The Frenemy wrote about crop tops and body image. After that whole debacle in "O Magazine" about how only certain size people should wear crop tops, this piece nailed it.

Hope you're having a lovely weekend!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Too much time off was not a good idea

Note to self: Never lapse on workouts again.

Getting back into regular and tough workouts is hard!  I'm still working on finding a routine that fits into my schedule, is challenging, and still allows room for the workouts I love (read: Fit Fusion).  That's not easy with everything I'm juggling.

But I know I need to. I am so out of shape.  A year ago, I was starting to train for a half-marathon.  And while running isn't really a problem for me, I know that it's not enough to get me to my fitness goals.

I've been enjoying the few lunch hour walk/jogs I've done.  They help me get my steps in, for sure.  And it's a nice break from my computer. On Tuesday, I got two miles in and somehow I still had time to rinse the sweat off, grab a salad in the cafeteria, and get back to my desk in the allotted time.

BureauFit kicks my butt every week.  It's also revealed what I already knew -- my legs are ridiculously strong, but everything else needs help.  Last night, we did the Dirty Dozen workout, which was 12 each of jump squats, air jacks, lunges, squats, stand up lie downs, v-sit crunches, cobra-to-planks, tuck jumps, push-ups, and a few other moves I'm forgetting at the moment.  And then a 1200 meter run.  The goal is to get through all of that as fast as you can.  It was so hard. But it feels so good when I'm finished.  Plus, everyone I've worked out with so far has been super friendly and encouraging.  That will definitely go a long way.

I've been thinking that the best way to keep me motivated is to have some kind of challenge, so I'm currently brainstorming one for August.  Any ideas?


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday:  Off
Sunday: Off
Monday: Yoga at home

Tuesday: 2-mile jog/walk during lunch  + 1-mile jog after work + arms 
Wednesday: 2.5-mile walk during lunch
Thursday: BureauFit

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Finding happiness

Last weekend I posted a photo on Instagram with a rather lengthy caption (for me anyway).

It's just a snapshot of what's been going through my head lately.  That's what Instagram is for, right?  Just snapshots?  Right.  But I thought I should expound a little anyway.

A year ago, I was a completely different woman.  I had a lot of self-doubt, insecurities, and anxiety. I wasn't 100 percent happy with who I was or how my life was going.  Sure, I made the best of it and focused on the good things. I put on a good show for the most part, but acting happy when you aren't is exhausting. And causes even more anxiety and self-doubt.   It just becomes a vicious cycle.

Lately, I've been feeling very confident and fond of myself. Sure, I have room for improvement (and always will), but it seems I've finally decided I'm pretty awesome.  I've stepped out of my comfort zone more times than I can count, and I can't tell if these instances contributed to my confidence or were a bi-product. And maybe it doesn't really matter.  While I still have a few moments in which I'm unsure of myself, I've stopped assuming I'm unlikeable and undeserving.  I've stopped letting other people tell me who I am, and I'm deciding for myself. I'm defining who I am. I'm happy.

So what caused the change? A lot of things, I think. 

I think one contributing factor is just age. I've always been told I would change the way I look at things and myself in my thirties.  So far, that's been true.  At 34, I have a much better view of myself than I did at 24.

Secondly, I've put in the work. This wasn't an instantaneous switch.  I've been working on it for a while. I figured out the things that were bothering me -- I actually wrote out a list -- and evaluated them, deciding which ones I could fix and which ones were out of my control. I acted accordingly, working on the aspects I could change and either releasing or changing the way I looked at the things that were out of my control. I did all of this quietly.  And I did it mostly on my own. Occasionally I sought the help of people I trust (even though they were unaware they were helping me).  But it was mostly a solo project, as it should be. I'm responsible for me and my own happiness. I can't depend on anyone else for that.

Another factor is my busy schedule.  Working three jobs and being on committees seems crazy, but they've been part of my growth.  I've learned and advanced in my full-time job.  My part-time jobs have fed two of my biggest interests -- books and craft beer -- and they've helped me practice small talk with strangers.  I can honestly say I genuinely enjoy all the work I do.  My life is busy, but it's full.

Part B of the above reason is that my free time is at a premium.  I have so little time off from those three jobs, and I've made an effort not to waste it.  Sometimes that means sitting at home, binge watching "Everwood" or reading a book in one sitting. Sometimes it means going out -- with friends or by myself. Regardless, I've started focusing on the people who surround me. I'm choosing those who feed my joy instead of depleting it. I'm choosing the cheerleaders over the critics.  I'm choosing sunny skies over cloudy ones.  I know not every day is perfect and everyone has bad days, but I'm doing my best to stay away from sources of constant negativity.  I've worked hard to find this inner peace, and I'm not giving it up.

So ... that's the story behind my photo and my glow.  Thanks for indulging me and reading through these ramblings.  I hope they made a little sense.  I hope you can relate -- whether that's today or someday in the future -- because everyone deserves to be this happy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My cats are shopping for my birthday ... kinda

So I have a birthday coming up.  Gifts aren't necessary.  Mostly, I just want to spend time with my favorite people and have a good time.  I'll be doing that on the big day, for sure.  But people still always ask what I want for my birthday, and I'll admit, I do like presents.  Who doesn't?  I plan to treat myself to something new, but that seems weird, so I've decided to buy myself something and say it's from my cats.  That's normal, right?

I decided to crowdsource on Twitter last night:

The answers I received were fantastic.

Will obviously thinks my cats are nicer than they are. Those would be amazing gifts. Sadly, Megan and Ari are probably more on the money. Nicole's suggestion sounds amazing though.

I'm still shopping for myself on behalf of my cats.  I may end up emptyhanded, which is usually how things end up for me when I'm intentionally shopping for someone.  I always draw a blank.

Then again, it's Amazon Prime Day, so maybe I'll/they'll be inspired by one of the sale items.

Have you bought yourself a gift? What was it?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Wilco, a wedding, and beer

I have developed a bit of a reputation for being a busy girl.  It seems I don't know how to sit still or have a lazy day.  Well, I do know how ... I just don't do it very often.  I'm on the go a lot, and this last weekend was no exception.

Friday night, I had dinner with one of my best friends, Ashley.  We try to get together monthly to catch up.  June was busy, so we weren't able to squeeze this in, but we always pick right up where we left off.

After she headed home, I went downtown for my volunteer shift at the 80/35 Music Festival. This was my third year giving my time to the event, which has grown considerably.  And for giving just a little of my time, I earned free entry into the festival. I was a little early for my shift, so I got to walk around and check out some of the bands.  I even caught about 20 minutes of Wilco's set. They were Friday night's headliner.

I've heard Wilco's music, but this was the first time I caught them live. Their lights were a bit crazy, but they sounded great, and everyone was having a blast.

My shift went from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.  I helped check-in bands and sign out volunteers.  It's a fun way to talk to a lot of different people.  And there were some characters, that's for sure. For my service, I earned a free ticket to the festival on Saturday. Due to other obligations, I couldn't use it, so I bestowed it upon a friend of my brother. I hope he enjoyed seeing Weezer!

Saturday morning, I met up with my friend, Courtney, for coffee.  We both have crazy loaded schedules, so it's always nice to catch up. Especially when coffee is involved.

Then I ran some errands before heading to the brewery for my afternoon shift.  With the music festival going on downtown and another local town hosting their annual celebration, I didn't know how busy we'd be.  But it was pretty steady.  The brewery where I work is right along a popular bike trail, and even though it was the hottest day of the summer so far, the bikers came streaming in looking for cold refreshment.  My shift was supposed to go until 7, but I have awesome co-workers who knew I was due at a wedding that started at 5.  One came in a bit early so I could jet out and catch some of the celebration.  I quickly changed in the brewery bathroom and headed out.

The best part of the wedding (besides the cake and then general merriment) was seeing two of my college roommates.  They're both flight attendants based out of Charlotte and Houston, so I don't get to see them as often as I would like.  We spent Saturday night catching up, dancing, and just plain enjoying a summer night.

Sunday, I met up with one of my brewery friends to plan a baseball road trip. Once he learned that I was an avid fan, this idea started formulating.  His wife and other friends don't enjoy baseball nearly as much as he does, so he has no one who will go to games with him.  So when he proposed driving to Minnesota next month to watch the Rangers and Twins, obviously, my arm didn't need much twisting.  I'm looking forward to seeing my baseball boys again soon.  Hopefully they can give me a win.

In the afternoon, I poured beers for my brewery at a local summer festival.  It was hot. Dangerously hot. Apparently we were under a heat advisory, and while I was sweating, my bigger concern was all the bugs. I must have gotten 30 bites on my legs.  Ugh.  But the beer-pouring part was fun.  I met some cool people, including the brewer of my all-time favorite beer -- Smoked Red by West O.  It was awesome!

That evening, Savannah and I went to Jazz in July -- an outdoor concert series held in various local parks each Sunday during the month.  I had been wanting to check this out for a while, so when the library where I work proposed this as a staff social outing, I had a good excuse.

The heat was still pretty oppressive, so I didn't last long out there.  After about two hours, I was ready for a shower and some air conditioning.

Whew.  No wonder I'm so tired this week after all of that weekend activity.  I wish I could say next weekend will be less busy, but ... it won't be.  Like I said, I don't seem to like slowing down lately.

How was your weekend?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Music Monday: OMI - "Cheerleader"

This summer seems to have a theme. Songs about staying with the one you're with even though you have other options.  First, there was "Honey, I'm Good" by Andy Grammer.  Love love love the song and the video.  Now, there's this tune, which I've fallen hard for since it was introduced in my Fit Fusion (dance fitness) class.  It has a fantastic reggae feel, but the lyrics are pretty great too.

When I need motivation
My one solution is my queen
'Cause she stays strong
Yeah, yeah
She is always in my corner
Right there when I want her
All these other girls are tempting
But I'm empty when you're gone
And they say

Do you need me?
Do you think I'm pretty?
Do I make you feel like cheating?
And I'm like no, not really 'cause

Oh, I think that I've found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her
Oh, I think that I've found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her

She walks like a model
She grants my wishes
Like a genie in a bottle
Yeah, yeah
'Cause I'm the wizard of love
And I got the magic wand
All these other girls are tempting
But I'm empty when you're gone
And they say

Do you need me?
Do you think I'm pretty?
Do I make you feel like cheating?
And I'm like no, not really 'cause

Oh, I think that I've found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her
Oh, I think that I've found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her

[Instrumental break]

She gives me love and affection
Baby, did I mention
You're the only girl for me
No, I don't need a next one
Mama loves you too
She thinks I made the right selection
Now all that's left to do
Is just for me to pop the question

Oh, I think that I've found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her
Oh, I think that I've found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her

Love it. We need more songs about appreciating your love.  Not just being in love, but acknowledging that even though there are others, he/she is the only one you want.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Weekly Reads, Vol. 38

I usually get this post up on Saturdays, but Friday night and yesterday morning were a bit hectic so I didn't have time.  Today is going to be busy too, but I found a little time this morning to get this up.   Enjoy these posts!

When I used to have cable, I watched HGTV a lot. "House Hunters" was one of my favorite shows.  I've also done some dreaming about living in a house and browsed real estate sites. Sarah at Venus Trapped in Mars killed it with "The House Hunters Episode That Never Was."  I laughed so hard! I've definitely seen some photos like the ones she shared.

Bon at The Life of Bon has offered some great "Bachelorette" commentary this season.  But I think her husband, Greg, might have given her a run for her money with his insights on why husbands should be watching the show.

Sarah Hartley has one of the cutest little boys I've ever seen.  This week, she wrote about why she loves just having one baby and wonders how you know when/if you want more children.

Monica at Run Eat Repeat brought some solid education this week.  Do you know which fruit has the most fiber?  I had no idea.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.  I'm off to meet a friend to discuss a baseball roadtrip. Then, I'm pouring beers at a festival all afternoon before hitting up Jazz in July this evening.  Obviously, I don't know how to sit still.

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