Monday, September 26, 2016

Music Monday: Todd Carey - "Forget Ya"

Todd Carey, a friend and one of my favorite music boys, recently released a long overdue new album.

It's called Future Throwback, and it's incredible.  I have been listening to it almost daily since I bought it. It's pretty different from everything else he's released, but not in a bad way. I've known Todd for more than ten years, and it's been really fun to watch his music evolve. Here's my favorite track from the album:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekly Reads, Vol. 86

Book posts are the way to my heart, and Steph tackled the topic of Banned Books Week. I became more aware of this event in my last few years at the library. It's amazing which books have been challenged and why. 

My boyfriend and I like cooking together (it's cheaper and more fun than going out all the time), but since I'm actively trying to lose weight, it can be tricky. I might have to try a few dishes from Sarah's list of low calorie meals that have been approved by her beau.

I laughed out loud while reading Jana's post about jobs at which she would not excel. It's a pretty fun idea. I might have to think about writing a similar post someday.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Finding routine again

I am trying really hard to juggle everything -- two jobs (well, I'll be at two after Sunday anyway), boyfriend, writing another book, baseball fandom, reading, friend time, etc. -- while also taking care of my health and fitness. 

I'm still working to find a routine, but things are starting fall into a good pattern. I'll probably go into more detail on each one in future posts, but here's a glimpse of what I'm doing:

- Scheduling workouts
Cardio on Monday and Friday. Strength on Tuesday and Thursday. Free choice over the weekend (and let's be real, I usually choose cardio).

- Weight watchers
I counted calories (via MFP) for a long time, but I found I would not track on days I knew I'd go over because there really wasn't any grace. With Weight Watchers, there is a bit more flexibility. It worked for me last time, so I'm trying it again.

- Sleep
This is the one that needs the most work. With September baseball, getting to bed at a decent hour is nearly impossible, but I'm going to keep trying. Rest is super important for health and for losing weight.

Just three things. That's a start. 

Do you have any advice on these?


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off.
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off 
Monday: FitFusion (60 minutes)

Tuesday: Strength workout (30 minutes)
Wednesday: Off

Thursday: BodyPump (60 minutes) + treadmill time (25 minutes)

I really wish I could get to BodyPump more than once a week. It just doesn't fit well in my schedule. I might need to clear my schedule a little more because I'm actually growing to love BodyPump again and I can feel the progress.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stuff & Things 9/22

:: I had so much fun at my friend's wedding over the weekend. She has perfect weather for an outdoor ceremony, and everything was beautiful. We even got to catch up for a few minutes. I miss her a ton!!

:: Sean and I kind of went facebook official with our relationship over the weekend. Well, we didn't change our status or anything (I just won't do that unless and until there's a ring involved), but we posted our first photo together. After 4.5 months, we figured it was time. The response has been a bit overwhelming.

:: I'm really excited to watch the new show "This is Us." I don't have any TV service, remember, so I have to wait for Hulu. And some free time. I'm planning to catch the premiere tonight after my workout. It'll be my reward.

:: I'm more than a little obsessed with the latest batch of Passe at the brewery where I work. It's a single hop pale ale made with citra hops. It's so crisp and fruity. I just love it. I have a glass every shift. And sometimes between shifts.

:: Speaking of shifts, this Sunday will be my last regularly scheduled shift at the library. I've decided to scale back to just two jobs -- insurance and the brewery. They make the most sense geographically and financially. I'll miss the library and those people a ton, but I'm looking forward to a little more time to myself.

:: Musicians I like only sporadically come through my area. Rarely do I have to choose between two shows. But I'm facing such a dilemma on Oct. 13. I already have tickets to see Liz Longley in Ames. And now I've learned Matt Hires is coming to Des Moines. I wish there was a way to see both, but obviously I'll go to Liz because I haven't seen her yet and I already have the tickets.  Still ... sigh.

What's up with you lately?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Summer wins and fall things

I enjoy setting some goals for each season -- things I want to do or accomplish -- and then evaluating at the end of the season. Fall officially starts tomorrow. Even though I had a great summer, I'm ready for the next season -- postseason baseball, football, changing leaves, and more.

These were my goals for summer: 

- Take advantage of the pool at my apartment complex. - FAIL
I kept meaning to, but it seemed like I wasn't free during the perfect pool days.

- Ride my bike to the High Trestle bridge. - FAIL
For the second summer in a row, this was on my list and didn't get done.

- Finish the first round of re-writes/edits on my next book and start the first draft of the one after that. - SUCCESS
I sent out a draft of the second book in the series to my editors and got a decent start on the third one.


Now it's time to look ahead to the new season and the things on my to-do list for fall.

- Ride my bike to the High Trestle bridge.
Maybe I can actually get it done in the fall? And it might be a prettier ride.

- Make a new wreath for my door.
I have an idea. I just need to execute it.

- Have a Halloween movie marathon of sorts.
I don't do scary movies, but queue up "Hocus Pocus," "Beetlejuice," and "Ghostbusters" and I'm in.

What's on your to-do list for fall?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My Favorite Things: Beers

It's probably long past time for me to tell you about my preferred beers. After all, my love for the adult beverage has been well-documented on this blog. I even tried to make it into a monthly series, but that fizzled. Ah well. I had good intentions, just not the best planning or efforts.  Anyway, here are six of my favorite beers.


Smoked Red - West O
This was my first favorite Iowa beer. I tried it at the Iowa Craft Beer Tent and fell in love right away. It's a little smoky and there are some caramel notes as well, yet it's still just a bit crisp. I might have fangirled a little when I met the brewer of this beer. It has become my standard for all reds.


Fixed Gear - Lakefront
This is a an American Red IPA from a brewery in Milwaukee. (If you have a chance, go on their tour. It's so good!) It's the best of two great styles - red and IPA. I get excited anytime I find it in stores or - better yet - on tap somewhere local.


Numb Nut - 515 Brewing
This spiced brown is only available each winter. That might be part of why I love it so much. Also because it tastes like Christmas - nutty and spicy. It's so good. Even though 515 continues to crank out delicious brews, this remains my all-time favorite. I love this beer so much, I even campaigned for it during our Caucus Your Beer event last year.


Death By Coconut - Oskar Blues
There are a lot of coconut porters and stouts out there. This one has the perfect balance of chocolate, coffee, and coconut. It's a little bit pricey in stores, but it's so worth it.


Shiner Bock - Shiner
I remember drinking quite a bit of this when I lived in Texas. Every now and then, I find it on tap places here, and it's a decent go-to. Every now and then, I like having a taste of Texas.


 Chocolate Shake Porter - Boulder
Dessert in a bottle. That's all I really have to say about this beer.


Honorable mentions:
Passe - 515 Brewing
Black Butte Porter - Deschutes
Grapefruit IPA - Schlafly

Sadly, most of these are only available in Des Moines or the Midwest.  Guess you'll have to come visit me if you want to try them.

What are some of your favorites?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weekly Reads, Vol. 85

As someone who always runs solo, I thoroughly enjoyed and applauded Monica's Runner Safety Week series. From a self-defense tool to simply being aware of your surroundings, she lays out some solid tips for staying safe while out running. I won't link to each post, just head over to Run, Eat, Repeat and check them out.

I just started learning to knit this week. My attempt wasn't pretty, and I'm not convinced I'll stick with it, but I'm glad I at least tried to learn. Steph had a great post about the different kinds of yarn and their uses. I had no idea there were so many varieties!!

I'm 4.5 months into a new relationship and while it's going well, I know there will be arguments. I liked Angie's take on the common arguments couples have and how to navigate them

I used to be really into awards shows and pretty good at keeping up with them. Not anymore. Maybe it's the fact that I have so many jobs. Maybe it's the fact that I don't have TV.  Either way, I'm glad I have Karen to fill me in on the Emmy nominees (and her predictions).


Friday, September 16, 2016

Fitness funnies

I'm just getting back into a fitness and health groove. I like looking for inspiration. Even humorous inspiration, so I thought I'd share some today.


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off
Saturday: 2-mile trail run + 1/2-mile walk (30 minutes)
Sunday: Off 
Monday: FitFusion (60 minutes)

Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: 2-mile lunch hour run + 1/2-mile walk (30 minutes)

Thursday: BodyPump (60 minutes) + 1.5 miles on the treadmill (20 minutes)

Wow.  That week in workouts looks much better typed out than it did in my head.  I'm proud of me!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Stuff & Things 9/15

Link-ups three days in a row? Yes, I think I will.

:: I attempted to learn to knit last night. As you might know, this has been on my list of new year's things the last two years. I only did a few rows and it wasn't pretty, but it's a start. I don't know if I'm patient enough to carry it through, but I'll try it for a while longer.

:: I have severely neglected my writing. I miss it, honestly. There just don't seem to be enough hours in the day or days in the week.  But that's a terrible excuse.  I need to find more time for it. That third book in the baseball romance series is not going to write itself.

:: I got a manicure yesterday. I really wish I could justify getting them more regularly because I love the way they look and feel.

:: I'm newly obsessed with Kodiak Cakes. They're an easy and healthy way to enjoy pancakes. The mix only needs water and they're packed with protein.

:: One of my cats has been pooping outside of her litter box on a regular basis over the past few months. I took her to the vet and she was given a clean bill of health. So it's all behavioral. I've been trying some different things, but I still haven't figured out what has her so mad at me. Any suggestions or advice?

:: My boyfriend's brother is an actor in NYC. Today, he has a big callback for a great role. Send some positive vibes and prayers if you are so inclined.

What's on your mind this week?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday 9/14

If you follow me on Twitter, you know the last two days have been a little rough. If you don't follow me on Twitter, here's what you missed:

So it's safe to say I could use a little positive energy to balance out my week thus far. I know, let's make a list of things that I'm loving lately. That might help.

I'm loving ...

... Rangers baseball. Sure, they've had a few losses lately (including the one I witnessed last week in Seattle), but overall this team is really fun to watch right now. They're so loose and full of joy. I'm looking forward to the weeks ahead.

... my sweet Rangers friends Will and Lindsay. They have been collecting promotional items for me all season and sent me this package last week. It totally made me smile.

... that I get to get out of town this weekend for the wedding of my former work BFF. I haven't seen her in three years and I'm so excited to see her again. It'll be some welcomed time away for Sean and me as well.

... that Becky and Kristin are hosting the Great Pumpkin Swap again this year. I love getting mail and shopping for fellow bloggers. It's a win-win for me.

... that Dropped Third Strike has now been out for 100 days. It seems it wasn't that long ago I was doing my book release celebrations and yet I'll be gearing up for another one (hopefully) soon. Oh, and I'm giving away two copies of my book. Check out that giveaway here.

What are you loving?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Show Us Your Books: August

Life According to Steph

As I promised last time I did this link-up, this month's selections would all have one common thread -- they're all written by people I know. It's fun to be connected to so many writers through various aspects of my life. Check them out!

Anissa was among my dozens of pen pals back when I was a teenager. We met because of a mutual love of "The New Mickey Mouse Club" (or "MMC" as we called it). We lost touch after a while but were recently reconnected. When I found out she had written a book, I immediately bought it and dug in.

It's a sweet modern romance with likeable characters. She's already working on the next installment, and I plan to pick that one up as well.


Rena and I met through another mutual friend several years ago. She's one of the nicest people I know, and when we found out we were both writers, our bond grew even more. We've had many writing sessions together. She is a great sounding board and cheerleader for other writers. I'm so proud to be her friend.

I have been waiting for this book for a long time, and I wasn't disappointed. I usually breeze right through books, but I really had to slow down for this one. There was so much to process and think about. I still don't know how I feel about the main characters, but I know I loved the book. Rena did an amazing job telling this story.


Scott and I worked together at my first newspaper job in Texas. He was the photographer and I was the reporter, so we spent a lot of time together covering stories. He also had a fun taste in music, so we ended up going to concerts together too. We've stayed in touch throughout the years, and I bought his book immediately after it was released.

Fascinating characters, dark humor, and sad moments are peppered into this story. It started a little slow, but I hung in there and was rewarded with a journey across the country and through lots of emotions. The ending was a bit of a surprise.


OK, so I only got through three of the four I set out to read. I'll get to the final selection in my "books by friends" category soon.


By the way, tomorrow marks 100 days that Dropped Third Strike, my latest book baby, has been in the world.

In celebration, it'll be available on Kindle for just $1.00 for the rest of September. I'm also giving away two paperback copies. Enter below if you're interested.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 12, 2016

Music Monday: Liz Longley - "Weightless"

Some rough weather kept me from seeing this young lady open for Stephen Kellogg last winter. Fortunately, Liz Longley is coming back to Iowa this fall. I cannot wait to see her perform live the songs I've been listening to incessantly, including this song from her new album which dropped just a few weeks ago.

If you like what you hear, be sure to pick up this album and her previous one. I love them both equally. Oh, and she's on tour too, and I have a feeling she's even better live than she is on recording.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Weekly Reads, Vol. 84

I'm a sports-loving girl. I've been shamed and lauded for this. I don't know how I would have responded if I'd been with Sarah when a man heckled her for wearing NFL gear. Regardless, if female sports fans need ambassadors, she'd be at the top of my list. I mean, beyond the fact that she looks adorable in the gear, she actually knows sports. Very well.

I'm not much of a movie-goer, but Whitney and her husband love hitting up the theater. She has some tips for saving money while seeing lots of films on the big screen.

Speaking of movies, Karen has a nice round-up of all the films hitting theaters this month. She's my go-to girl for movie reviews and previews.

I've had a lot of thoughts about Colin Kaepernick and his stance about the anthem and our country, but I've kept them to myself (for the most part). Steph did a great job of encapsulating how I feel about freedom and Kaepernick.

I'm not a parent (unless you count my furry kids), but lots of my friends are. I've seen them struggle with all the advice from outsiders. I love this post from Jana about "the only parenting advice you need." Nailed it, Jana. 

Happy reading and happy Sunday!

Friday, September 9, 2016

August fitness recap

I know the journey to getting in better shape is a slow and steady one.  And little goals along the way will help me reach my overall goal.  So I have fitness benchmarks I want to reach each month.

Work out 16 days a month.  Grade = A
Nailed it.

Strength training once a week.  Grade = C
I'm getting back in a better routine.

Track my food each day.  Grade = B
I've gotten much better at this.


12 Races in 2016 update:
I almost didn't do a race in August. But I'm glad I did.


Last week's workouts
Friday: Yoga at home (30 minutes)
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off (But I walked 8 miles)
Monday: Off (But I walked 6.5 miles)
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred (30 minutes)

Thursday: BodyPump (60 minutes)

I didn't get four workouts in, but I did plenty of walking on my vacation, so I'll call it good.

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