Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday Fiver: Currently

Watching ... Food Network. It's basically the only channel I put on these days.

Listening to ... a lot of Eric Hutchinson. I'm just feeling his catalog lately. He's going to be performing about 2 hours away from me one night this fall. But it's a Tuesday night. I'm not sure I can swing it. Micah at 21 to 25 would have gone without question. But at 38, it's not such an easy sell. By the way, did I tell you I walked down the aisle to one of his songs? (Hint: It's the one below.)

Reading ... "With You Always" by Rena Olsen. The author is one of my dearest friends and she writes incredible psychological thrillers. I still think about her first book ("The Girl Before") often, and I read it more than a year ago. This girl has some skills!!

Grateful for ... skilled friends who offer their help. Ever since we moved in 18 months ago, Sean and I have had visions of sprucing up the basement and making it into usable space. Unfortunately, neither of us is very handy and had no idea how to get started. Last weekend, our friend, Joe, came over and helped us put up drywall. Let's be real -- he did most of the work and we just helped. It was hard work, and we still have some work to do, but I'm so excited to see it finished.

Looking forward to ... going to the Iowa State Fair. The annual celebration of agriculture and fried food is currently happening and I'm going to experience it this weekend. I cannot wait.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Show Us Your Books: July 2018

Life According to Steph

My reading took a nosedive early in the summer. I could blame the wedding, I suppose. Or any number of other things. But it's probably a combination of a lot of things. I missed it though and fortunately, my reading time has been picking up a little more steam lately. All it took was remembering one of my favorite authors had a whole series I hadn't yet explored.

The Wishing Well series by Melanie Shawn

 (These are pictured in the opposite order in which I read them, but that's a minor detail.)

It's set in a small town in Texas and mostly revolves around the Briggs family and a few of their close friends. I love series like this because if I love the characters, I get to keep up my relationship with them beyond the book that's only focused on them. And I almost always love the characters created by Melanie Shawn -- they're real and relatable. And the love stories are just sweet. There are eight books in the series, and I made it through five. I'll get to the other three. Soon. The books are a nice break from reality and my other favorite genre -- thriller and crime (which I've recently returned to).

Currently reading:

I'm only a few chapters into it, but I can already tell it's going to have some messed up twists.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Music Monday: Eric Hutchinson - "New Religion"

I've had issues with religion for a long time. This should not be misconstrued as being anti-God. I'm absolutely not. But I think some of his "followers" are really misguided. And that's putting it nicely. They sit in church weekly (maybe more) and yet they treat people (sometimes loved ones and sometimes strangers) terribly. It drives me crazy when people use their religion to justify some crappy thing they've done. This song sums up what I think God would probably like to say to some of those folks.

 Get yourself a new religion
I don't wanna be your God no more
Get yourself some new traditions
It's not like it used to be before
You're shedding blood in my name
Spreading lies and shortcuts
Pulling families apart, deciding who and what
So get yourself a new religion
And quit ruining mine

Get yourself a new religion
I don't wanna be the one you blame
Get yourself a new condition
Stop wearing out my goddamn name
You send a prayer when you're sad
Send a prayer when you're down
When you're back up on top
You set fire to the town
So get yourself a new religion
And quit ruining mine

You're doing it wrong
You're doing it wrong
You need me so bad
I know it all
You know it too
I'm the best you've ever had

I gave you air you can breathe
I gave you midnight and dawn
I gave you language and love
I gave you space and beyond

So get yourself a new religion
Quit ruining mine

I bet there's other books
I bet there's other faiths
Go give 'em your dirty looks
Go give 'em your hell to pay
Get yourself a new religion
And quit ruining mine
So get yourself a new religion
And quit ruining mine

Thursday, August 9, 2018

This & That 8/9

:: This weekend, Sean and I will be taking on the challenge of putting up drywall in our basement. Don't worry, we'll have help from someone who knows what he's doing. My friend, Joe, has volunteered to assist us with this project. I can't wait until it's done and our basement looks a little more finished.

:: My new favorite recipe site is Budget Bytes. She breaks down the price and there are notes on each recipe that give you some hints about how to serve it or what alterations to make to the recipe. I love it.

:: The Iowa State Fair begins today. I'm not going until late next week, but I'm very much looking forward to the fried foods, displays, baby animals, and people watching.

:: Football season is right around the corner. Sean is going to be doing his radio stuff on Friday nights. He asked if I was upset he'd be working more. Um. Bonus alone time? With the TV to myself? Oh yeah, I'm so upset. Wait ... should I have at least pretended I'd miss him?

What's on your mind this week?

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Diva Dash 5K 2018 recap

Two years ago I took on the challenge of doing one race a month for an entire year. But it feels like a lot more time has passed since then. I've scaled back on races -- partially for cost and partially because life got busy -- but occasionally I get back out there. One race I love every year is the Diva Dash 5K. I love that it's all women, and it's such a non-competitive, fun environment. Also, my company usually has a team, which makes it even more enjoyable.

I did not train a lot leading up to this race, which I had to remember when setting my expectations. Sure, I've been working out regularly, but I have not been running on a regular basis. So I knew my pace would not be great. I also suspected I would be walking at times. I was right on both counts.

The first mile was really rough. It starts with an incline up to the state capitol. In the past, I've always powered up that hill, but today, I decided to walk. I didn't want to burn all my energy in the first half-mile. I felt really good during the second mile, though I did have to walk a little at the end of it. I also walked a little in the third mile. But I had some energy to burn in the last stretch and actually was able to stride out at the finish line.

My best cheerleader was set up at the start of mile two and at the finish line. It always helps to have a friendly face.

While my time wasn't great, I'm still happy with the race. It felt good to get back out there. My next one is in September. I'm also signed up for one in October and am considering one in November. So I have plenty of time to get my legs back in shape.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

This & That 8/2

:: Remember how I did Xtreme Revolution in the winter? Well, my work place is doing a pop-up Summer Xtreme session. Four weeks of intense workouts. Four people to a team. My foursome is called The Foodies (we keep it real), and so far we're doing great! I'm so glad they brought this around for the summer. I need a little extra motivation to get my sweat on.

:: Is anyone else watching The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network? I've watched it in years past and always enjoyed it. The food truck industry is fascinating to me. Plus, I like seeing the strange foods they come up with.

:: Last weekend, Sean got his first ever brand new car. His previous vehicles were hand-me-downs from family. While I'm sure he's not looking forward to the car payments, he is definitely enjoying that feel of a new car.

:: I'm running a 5K on Saturday. I do not feel prepared at all, but that's my own fault. Here's to hoping I can finish without hating myself or my legs hating me.

What's on your mind this week?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A very Harry Potter evening

I was late to the Harry Potter game. I didn't start reading the books until 2013. Of course, I went through them pretty quickly, and followed up with the movies. I love the world J.K. Rowling created -- even though she made me cry a lot with character deaths. Regardless, she's basically a fiction queen in my eyes, so I was pretty stoked when one of my favorite local drinking establishments advertised they were hosting a birthday party in honor of my favorite wizard.

I mean, come on. Beer, cake, ice cream, and Harry Potter? That's a win all the way around.

I arrived about half an hour before the festivities were to start, and it's probably good I did. The place started to fill up fast, and I had to reserve a table for five. Our waitress was often, keeping us informed on when we could officially order the special flights and actually coming right to us when the time had arrived. There were complimentary breadstick "wands" with marinara sauce. The butterbeer ice cream was reportedly really good too, but I can only do so much for sweets, and I went with cake instead.

The highlight of the evening, for me, was definitely the specialty flight of beers.

There were actually five beers, but there are only four pictured because the fifth one was being a little difficult. We did eventually get to try it though. My favorite was the cider. The mango and pineapple were perfect. Cider isn't usually my thing, but it was delicious.

I wish I'd taken more photos, but I was so busy talking and laughing with my friends -- and also watching the Harry Potter clips that were playing in the background. Sometimes, being present is more important than blog content.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

This & That 7/26

:: What is going on with comments on Blogger? I saw Kristin mention it, but now I'm actually experiencing it. I don't get notified of comments and had one commenter email me because she wasn't able to comment. That's annoying. I might have to install Disqus. Is that hard?

:: I have some amazing people around me. I've mentioned that we can't leave Cleo (my elderly cat with failing kidneys) more than three days at a time because she needs fluid treatments. That would make it difficult for us to go on an extended trip of any kind. However, I've had three people volunteer to learn how to give her fluids so we could go away for a longer trip. I'm feeling super blessed right now.

:: I'm addicted to watching "Queer Eye" on Netflix. I watched the entire second season in just a few weeks. Now I'm watching the first season (because why would I watch them in order?), and I'm going to need a third season soon. Very soon. Jonathan is my favorite.

:: I saw "Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again" with one of my besties last night. It was a fun movie and just what I needed in the middle of the week.

What's on your mind this week (if you can manage to comment)?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Birthday, beer, and baseball

Last weekend, Sean and I made a road trip to Milwaukee, WI, for our mini-honeymoon. The day we left just happened to be my birthday, so I kind of got to call the shots for that day. However, I didn't hear Sean complaining with any of my choices.

We stopped at Potosi Brewing for lunch. It's a non-profit brewery tucked in a beautiful, rural part of Wisconsin. The town is super small but very cute. We had beer-battered cheese curds as an appetizer and I ordered a brisket melt and sweet potato fries (my favorite side whenever I can get it). Of course, we each had a beer as well. He had the lemon shandy and I had a dark saison. Everything was delicious, and our service was fantastic as well.

After a winding drive through the countryside, our next stop was at New Glarus Brewing. I'd had some of their beers but I hadn't yet visited the mecca. I'm so glad I fixed that. The facility is beautiful and everything is so streamlined. There wasn't a lot of waiting for beers, and beer depot was set up perfectly for when we were ready to load out (with lots of beer for friends). I only wish the weather would have been nicer so we could have enjoyed the bier garten more. Guess that just means we'll have to go back. Darn.

Traffic getting into Milwaukee was crazy, but we eventually did make it to our AirBNB. It was a cozy little place in the perfect location. No more than 15 minutes from anywhere we wanted to go during our weekend. Plus the hosts had left us cookie dough and beer in the fridge. Once we had checked it out and cleaned up, we headed out for my birthday dinner at a restaurant that came highly recommended -- Sobelman's.  I wish I liked Bloody Marys because they had some incredible-looking ones, but I stuck with beer.

Our final stop of the night was a brewery I had researched and was intrigued by -- MobCraft. They crowdsource beers, meaning they ask their customers to submit ideas for beers. And if they make it, the submitter gets credit on the menu. Sean and I each ordered a flight and there wasn't one beer in my four that I didn't like. They even made two sours I liked. That never happens. Unfortunately neither of them was packaged so I could bring them home.  But we did leave with plenty of souvenirs (beers).

Saturday morning, we were up early and off to find breakfast. We went to a place called Mad Rooster. I had the Mad Breakfast Tacos and Sean had chicken and waffles. My tacos were amazing and the bite I had of Sean's meal was pretty tasty too. The place filled up pretty quickly after we were seated, so it's clear we made a good choice.

With full bellies, we headed off to our first brewery tour of the day -- Lakefront Brewing. I'd been there a few years ago and really enjoyed the tour. Plus they make one of my favorite beers (Fixed Gear) that has become increasingly hard to find in Des Moines. I was so happy to be reunited with it. Our tour guide was funny and informative. I love hearing the history of places and that's what most of this tour is about. The taproom was just as I remembered from my last visit and the food looked and smelled incredible, but unfortunately we weren't hungry yet.

That afternoon, we went on a tour at Milwaukee Brewing. It was a much different tour than Lakefront. It talked more about the brewing process and more specifically how it's done there. They are a solar-powered brewery, and I really enjoyed seeing the green initiatives they're using. Their beers were delicious too. We came home with a decent selection.

Sunday, we ended our time in Milwaukee by checking off another ballpark. It was drizzly and cool, but that didn't dampen our enjoyment one bit. We walked around and explored the exterior until the gates opened. Inside, we snagged some foods that had been recommended to us and (of course) some local brews.

The most notable of foods recommended to us was the helmet nachos .... which we polished off in 18 minutes. I don't know whether to be proud or ashamed.

It was great to be back in my own bed on Sunday night, however we weren't quite ready to return to reality again. We decided to turn our vacation into a staycation. We got tenderloins at Smitty's (a Des Moines institution), saw all the animals at the zoo, and spent a few hours splashing around at the pool.

All in all, it was a great weekend. It was nice to get away from home and responsibilities for a few days and have some time with just Sean.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

This & That 7/19

:: Like I mentioned recently, I kind of fell off the face of the blog world for a while. It wasn't intentional. Life just go busy. I didn't feel like I had time for a lot of things -- blogging, reading, writing, binge-watching "Queer Eye." I need to get better about my time because I NEED to be doing more of those things, either for my peace of mind or for challenging my mind. How do you find the balance between your obligations and your interests?

:: I've been married more than a month. (No, it doesn't feel any different ... except that it's harder to remember my last name.) I'm sorry I haven't shared many images from the wedding yet. I promise they're coming. As soon as I have my photos, I'll have a post. I've already begun composing my thoughts about the day and reflection on the process. I just want you to have fun photos to look at in between my words. So ... hopefully soon I'll have a lot more to share. For now, I'll give you this one.

:: As of noon today, I'm off work until next Tuesday. I'm in desperate need of this break.

What's on your mind this week?

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