Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A fall beer run

Last Saturday, I got to enjoy three of my favorite things -- time with my bestie, beautiful fall foliage, and craft beer.

My friend and I first did this three years ago and intended for it to become an annual tradition. But then things happened and we couldn't go the last two years. I'm really happy our schedules aligned this year and we were able to do it -- make the drive to Eastern Iowa to look at pretty leaves and also stop at a few breweries that are beyond our metro.

For whatever reason, leaves are the prettiest along or near the river. Fortunately, Iowa's east and west borders are rivers, so we just had to choose a direction. We went east again, mostly because we just love it out there.

Our day started at a local coffee shop for caffeine. I ordered the breve and it was the perfect companion for our drive. My bestie was pretty good company too. We have both been very busy lately, so it was nice to have a few hours to talk about life and world happenings.

After about two hours on the road, we arrived in Cedar Rapids and went into the Black Sheep Social Club for lunch. I ordered a cherry wood smoked brisket sandwich with cottage cheese.

The food was delicious and the service was great. Bonus -- it was attached to our first brewery stop of the day -- Clock House Brewing. I loved their flight trays and they had some really tasty beers as well.

My beers (clockwise from the bottom left): Midnight Misfit (oatmeal stout), Witch Slap (New England IPA), Clocktoberfest (Marzen), and Mango P.I. (mango pale ale).

They were all really good. I think I liked the stout the best, but I brought home a growler of the Mango P.I. for my husband.

We headed north from there and found our way to Dubuque and 7 Hills Brewing. Even with construction surrounding the building, the tap room was bustling and busy. We had a small wait -- even at 2:30 in the afternoon. We took that as a good sign. And we were correct. Their beers were very good, and we devoured an order of soft pretzels with white cheddar beer sauce and sweet mustard sauce. There were other things on their menu that caught my eye too. I would definitely go back.

My beers from left to right: Muddy Tugger (a brown ale made with oats and honey), 3 Men and a Beerby (session IPA), Run 4 the Hills (blueberry wheat pale ale), and Bernie's Red Ale (obviously, a red). That Muddy Tugger was the best brown ale I think I've ever had. It was perfectly sweet and malty.

I was the driver, so I didn't get any photos of the red and yellow leaves we saw, but they did exist. They'll probably be even more vibrant next week or even the week after, but they were pretty regardless. My friend and I also failed to take a selfie.Sigh. Oh well.

It was a wonderful day, and I really hope we can repeat it again in the future.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Music Monday: Ben Rector - "Drive"

Over the weekend, I went on a nice road trip with my best friend. Occasionally, this song would pop into my head. It was a nice coincidence since Ben just released this music video last week.

I laughed so many times while watching this video. I love seeing Ben's sense of humor and the little pokes at the industry. Also, I just really adore him and hope he comes a little closer to me on his next tour.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday Fiver: Halloween costume ideas

I'm working behind the bar on Halloween, and my co-worker and I have agreed to wear costumes. I'm not sure why I agreed to this as I am terrible at costume ideas. Here are five I'm considering.

Beer wench
Is this funny because that's what I'm actually doing (serving beer)? Or is it lame?

Calico cat
That onesie might get warm, but it'd be an easy costume for sure. 

I figure this might be a good one for my red hair. I'd need some 80s gear. But my question is -- would anyone even know who I was?

Again, with my red (curly) hair, this might be a good one.

"A League of their Own" player
This could be fun, but I'd be worried about finding a costume that fits me correctly. 

Any thoughts or feedback? I am open to suggestions at this point. It just needs to be something I can do on a budget and without too much required prep (I'll have an hour between jobs to change and get ready).

Thursday, October 11, 2018

This & That 10/11

:: I was one of the suckers who fell for that Facebook scam over the weekend. I received a direct message from a "friend" who told me she'd received a new friend request from me. Since I've seen lots of cloned profiles, I had no reason to believe this wasn't true, so I posted an update encouraging friends not to accept any new friend requests from me. Once it was discovered this was a scam, there were endless memes making fun of those who fell for it. This pissed me off more than a little, so I'm on Facebook hiatus (except for my scheduled blog updates) for the foreseeable future. I'm looking at posts from my closest friends (for whom I get push notifications), but I'm not posting or scrolling. At all. I would deactivate my profile all together if it wasn't for maintaining my blog page. I'm not even joking.

:: My Facebook rage was probably due to more than just those memes. I'm also just tired of people being self-righteous and ugly to each other on there. The arguments aren't helping anyone. And I had worked all weekend and had very little downtime. I think I was burned out. Maybe I still am. I'm supposed to go to a hockey game tomorrow night, but I'm considering staying in for some me time to recharge instead.

:: Fall temperatures seem to be here. Finally. I'm OK if they stay for a while. I'm over summer but not yet ready for winter. I want to enjoy hoodie weather for a while before the ice scrapers come out.

:: This weekend, I'm taking a little road trip with my bestie. We're going to look at the pretty leaves and visit some breweries in another area of the state. I cannot wait.

:: Yesterday was World Mental Health Day, but I think it should be discussed every day. I hope all of my friends take care of their mind and soul just as they would their bodies. And if they're not OK, it's perfectly OK to reach out. Find a friend. Find a therapist. Find someone to talk to.  Get help. You are worth it.

What's on your mind this week?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Show Us Your Books: September 2018

Life According to Steph

Happy fourth anniversary to Show Us Your Books!!! I'm so grateful Steph and Jana host this link-up every month. It allows me to share my book discoveries and find great recommendations from others.

A lot of my friends were reading this book and talking about how it made them feel and think. I decided I needed to check it out as well. As I read through Rachel's words about lies she's told herself and how she had to learn from them, I found myself relating a lot. I plowed through the 20 chapters in just a few days. They were short enough to absorb and think about without being too overwhelming. Some made me think more than others, but that's not unexpected. Just because we are both women doesn't mean we've experienced the same things.  The chapters about parenthood, for example, didn't apply directly to me, but I still enjoyed her perspective. Some people aren't happy with Rachel's writings, and think she is doing a disservice to the Bible's teachings. But I'm not really religious, so that didn't bother me one bit.

I connected with Caroline Moss (one of the authors) years ago on Twitter through her brother, who at the time was touring with one of my favorite Broadway shows, "Spring Awakening." Over the years, we've exchanged laughs and encouragement. I was so happy when she announced she'd written a book. She's very witty and her humor definitely shines through in "Hey Ladies," which documents the life of eight friends over the course of one year and lots of emails and texts. It's a work of fiction, but I could definitely see myself and some of my friends in each of the characters. It was too real. I laughed a lot while reading this and the format made it easy to breeze through. It was the perfect lighthearted read right when I needed it.

Jennifer is an author I've admired for quite a while. Her debut, "Good in Bed," remains one of my all-time favorite books, and this memoir of sorts gave me a little more background on who she is and why she writes what she writes. I related a lot to her struggle with body image and some of her tales of social awkwardness. I learned more about her relationship with members of her family and her journey to achieving her dream -- becoming a published author. I will certainly read her fiction works through a new filter now.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Music Monday: Stephen Kellogg - Symphony of Joy

A handful of my favorites are about to release new music and I could not be more excited. This guy is definitely one of those generating some happiness for me. He's been teasing his next album for several months on Instagram (in between stories in which he sings to his cat ... ha ha!), and he recently released this song on Spotify.

I love it already.

It's so catchy, and there are some good lyrics in there.

My favorite little section is:
Never turn your back upon a second chance
Never trust a guy who says he doesn't
I know you need to dance
Like a symphony of joy
It's not your obligation to go easy on the boys

I cannot wait to hear the rest of the album.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Friday Fiver: Movies for October

I'm not much of a scary movie fan (much to the dismay of one of my best friends). I just can't handle lots of blood and jumpy moments. However, there are still movies I enjoy during this season.  Here are some of my favorites.

I remember watching this on the Disney channel a bunch when I was a kid. It was slightly scary for me but not enough to stop me from tuning in.

I don't mind the reboot that came out a few years ago, but the original is always going to rank a little higher for me. "There is no Dana. Only Zuul!!"

I only watched this for the first time a few years ago with a friend who loves Tim Burton's work. It's a strangely charming movie. I love the music!

"Shake shake shake senora!" That's my favorite scene of the entire movie.

I don't know if this is always seen as a Halloween movie, but it's set during that holiday, so I'm counting it.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

This & That 10/4

:: I have not been to a concert in nearly a year. That's very strange for me. There just haven't been any in my area that interested me ... or they just didn't fit in my schedule. Worry not, however, I have two concerts on my docket for the next few months -- Tony Lucca in December and Matt Nathanson in March -- and I'm super excited about both of them.

:: My schedule at my second job has changed a bit, and I somehow never work weeknights anymore. I have to say it's been kind of nice to be able to come home at the end of most days. I still enjoy my second job and definitely still need it, but this time is a nice glimpse at what it'll be like if/when I can finally scale back to just one job. Someday.

:: Over the weekend, we had some rare downtime with nothing on TV we wanted to watch. I'd seen a ton of people posting about "The Great British Baking Show," so I queued it up on Netflix. And proceeded to breeze through seven episodes. It's so interesting to see the contrast between that show and American cooking shows. The British pace is so much more relaxed and the people are much nicer.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Currently: October 2018

Watching ... "A Million Little Things." I'm only one episode in, but I'm hooked. The show started with a character's suicide and now we're weaving in the stories of the people left to grieve him. There look to be a lot of twists and turns as we continue this journey. What I like most, though, is that it's showing what depression and mental illness really look like. We need more awareness of this issue.

Listening to ... the Trace Evidence podcast. It's my new favorite in the true crime genre. The host does a really great job of breaking things down and exploring different aspects of the cases.

Reading ... "Hungry Heart" by Jennifer Weiner. I've had this on my shelf for a long time and finally picked it up last week. I'm nearly done and I already have a greater appreciation for one of my favorite authors.

Thinking about ... holiday shopping. People around me keep mentioning that they've started or are shopping and it gives me such anxiety.

Wanting to buy ... the fitness tank pictured below. But I have so many workout shirts and don't need any more. Still ... I really want it. Maybe I'll make it my reward for completing the fitness portion of my #Last90Days challenge.

Worried about ... money. Funds are a little tight right now, which might be why I'm anxious about holiday shopping and hesitant to treat myself to that tank.

Looking forward to ... opening night for the Iowa Wild! As much as I'm enjoying postseason baseball and the heart of the college and NFL football seasons, I'm so ready for some hockey. There are a lot of new faces on the roster this year, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The #Last90Days challenge

I wasn't going to publish a post today, but then I read Holly's post about the Last 90 Days Challenge around 9 p.m. I was motivated. I got out of bed and ran down to get my computer.

After reading Rachel Hollis' book, "Girl, Wash Your Face," I became a fan. I related to so much in the book, and I wanted more. Holly was the one who pointed me to Rachel's podcast about the Last 90 Days challenge, and I loved it. It's a great way to look at the end of the year. Too often, we only look at our goals for the start of a new year and hit the ground running in January. But why not finish strong too? Why not make a good push towards some milestones in the final days of the year?

I'm on board.

Here are my five goals for the final quarter of the year:

ONE  ::  Publish at least four blog posts per week.
My blogging game has been pretty weak as of late. I really want to get back on track. It will really just come down to planning out my content and then actually sitting down to write it. Four posts a week isn't difficult.

TWO  ::  Work out five days each week -- and make at least two of those double-workout days.
I do pretty well at working out regularly, but I need to keep it up. And I need to add some extra workouts now and then to really push myself.

THREE  ::  Schedule eight hours of writing per week.
I really want to finish my next novel. I don't have much more to do, but I need to get to it. The only way that'll happen is if I actually open the document and work on it.

FOUR  ::  Copy recipes onto cards for our collection.
I have a bunch of favorites printed from the internet. I need to sit down and copy them onto cards for our recipe book and box.

FIVE  ::  Read 14 books.
That's how many I need to complete my GoodReads challenge for the year.

I'll provide progress reports each 30 days (that'll help with one of my goals, right?) to help me measure my success and adjust as needed.

If you want to join, there's still time -- click over here to Rachel Hollis' site

Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday Fiver: Favorite things about Fall

Changing leaves
This was one of the things I missed most during my four years living in the south. I try and get out to see the colors every year. My bestie and I have already a planned a road trip to drive to the east side of the state (colors seem to be best out there) to see the red, yellow, orange, and purple leaves.  The vibrant reds and yellows are my favorites (go Cyclones!), but I really enjoy seeing all of them.

Hot cider
I'm not a pumpkin spice hater, but I'll choose cider first every day. All day. My favorite is the spiced stuff from Trader Joe's.

Cooler temperatures
I'm getting bored of my summer wardrobe. I'm ready to change it up with some long sleeves and jackets. Also hoodies.

Football and post-season baseball

I could watch college football all day on Saturday and not get bored. And I have no doubt I'll be tuning in for some October baseball even though my team is really far out of the hunt.

I cannot eat soup in the summer. Even though there are several recipes I love, I'm just not in the mood for them when the temperatures are 60 and above. 

What are your favorite fall things?

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