Friday, December 19, 2014

The run that almost didn't happen

About a week ago, I saw a Facebook post about a holiday fun run with a running group.  They were going to do six miles through the Jolly Holiday Lights display and then have a white elephant gift exchange at a local brewery. Let's see --- running, Jolly Holiday Lights, cheap/fun gifts, and craft beer.  There were too many of my favorite things in that one event to say "no."

But then Tuesday (the day of the fun run) arrived, and we had a temperature swing -- 50s on Sunday/Monday to 30 degrees on Tuesday.  With wind chills dropping the air feel into the teens.  Brrr. 

I wasn't so sure about running, so I messaged Nicole, a friend who had planned to join me and told her I was thinking about wimping out.  But she really wanted to get the miles in (she's aiming for 100 this month ... far more than my 31), so she wasn't willing to let me ditch.

And I'm so glad she didn't.

Sure, it was cold, but once we got going, my body warmed up really well.  I was wearing two layers on most of my body, so I felt fine.  My lungs are the only part of my body that protested after the fact.  We ran slow (my pace, definitely not Nicole's), but we completed 5.5 and walked the last half-mile.  But neither of our Garmins started right away, so we're going to round-up and call it six miles.  

Jolly Holiday Lights photo snagged from my friend, Rena. To be fair, I was with her when she took this photo. Even though I've been through the display three times this year, I've taken no pictures!

When we got back to Confluence, there were pitchers of beer waiting, birthday cake (that had chocolate, peanut butter, Oreos, and coffee in it), pizza, and a really fun gift exchange.  I left with a bottle of Prairie Fire -- hot cinnamon whiskey distilled right here in Central Iowa.  I'm pretty excited to tip some into my favorite winter drink -- hot apple cider.  Maybe Christmas Eve? (By the way, the gift I took was terrible. I waited until the last minute and basically scrambled at work to put something together. The person who got my gift went home with M&Ms, Ghiradelli chocolates, a few packets of hot chocolate, and some random office gadgets. I feel like such a cheapskate.)

My white elephant gift exchange win.

But I got more than a good run, hang time with Nicole, and a bottle of whiskey.  I'm pretty sure I found a running group.  They were fun, funny, and a very tight-knit group. They were also very encouraging -- they'd clearly been done for awhile by the time we returned, but they congratulated us on a good run and poured me a beer.  I really enjoyed their company and am looking forward to joining them again.


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off.
Saturday: Off. (I intended to get up and go to the gym, but introvert recharge day won out.)
Sunday: 3 miles on the trail ... in short sleeves!
Monday: 1 mile on the treadmill, abs, squats, and arms.
Tuesday: 6 miles with the holiday fun run group
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: 1 mile on the treadmill + workout with Beth

31 miles in 31 Days Running Challenge
Miles to-date: 21.5

Yeah, so I'm definitely going to kill this running challenge.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stuff & Things 12/18

When I got home last night, I fully intended to write a blog post before I went to bed.  But when I got home, I was exhausted.  And I knew I had a 6 a.m. workout this morning, so I basically just packed my gym bag and went to bed.  So, you're going to get a rare real time post for today.  Good thing it's this link-up, which is all about the random.

Kristin's Knook

::  Today is going to be a super long day.  I was up at 5:15 to go to the gym.  Now I'm at work.  Then I'm meeting up with friends from out of town.  And they're night owls who don't have to work tomorrow.  So ... I don't imagine I'll be home before eleven.  Hopefully I won't yawn too much.

:: I'm very excited about the running group I met up with the other night.  I'll share more about that tomorrow, but it's sufficient to say my first run with them won't be my last.

:: I was really late ordering my Christmas cards, so they only arrived yesterday.  I'll be sending them out early next week, so they'll be more like New Year's cards.  I'm OK with that.  If you want a card from me, go here and give me your address.  I promise not to stalk you.  

:: It's almost time to complete self-evaluations at work.  I really hate them.  I don't want to give myself too much credit, nor do I want them to think I believe I suck at my job (even though some days I do).  Grr.

:: I have two friends with birthdays on Christmas Eve (hello Kamara and Alicia!) and one with a birthday on Christmas Day (hey Katie!).  They don't seem to mind the timing of their birthdays, but man, I would not be happy if my special day was usurped by a holiday.  Although my birthday is in the middle of summer and often forgotten.  I didn't even get a card from my office like everyone else.  (And, yes, I have a little rage every time I sign a birthday card for someone else.)  Birthdays are serious business for me.

I really should get to work, so I'll have to leave off there.  Yay Thursday Friday Eve!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Turning low points into lessons

There are only 14 days left in 2014.  That is crazy to think about.  As a new year looms upon us, I find it interesting to reflect on the year behind us.  For me, it's more than just turning a calendar page and writing a new number on checks (do people still write them?).

I had some ups and downs in 2014. Even though I don't want to dwell on the hard times, I do think it's important to think about them a little.  They happened for a reason.  To teach me something.


So, here are a few things I learned this past year ...

= Don't take advice from people if their life is not one you would want.
This one was a very hard one for me.  I have a lot of great people around me, and they're often throwing advice at me (sometimes unsolicited). While I'm sure they're well-meaning and definitely think they're helping me, their input is not always the best for me.  I have learned to listen to their advice as a suggestion but in the end just follow my own heart and stay true to me.

= Invest in the friends who also invest in you.
I don't have a lot of free time.  Between two jobs, workouts, and meetings for committees I'm on, any leftover time is rare and precious.  I took a long hard look at my friendships and had to decide which ones deserved my time.  I made some bad decisions and some good ones.  I'm still working on this lesson.

= Not everyone likes you, and that isn't a reflection of your worth.
This one is a work-in-progress.  I want everyone to like me.  And it's really hard for me to acknowledge when people don't.  It often costs me tears and sleep.  But I need to start accept that I'm not everyone's cup of tea.  And that's OK.  Not everyone likes craft beer, but that doesn't mean it's not awesome.

= Stop wasting money via credit cards.
I am not good with my finances, but I'm trying to get better.  When I looked at my budget and spending habits, I realized how much of my monthly income was going to credit card debt.  It's ridiculous. I am done with credit cards. I just don't know how to manage them responsibly.  I look at the balances and realize some of the items on there aren't even in my possession anymore.  That's terrible.  By the end of next year, I will be completely done with credit card debt and will only keep my Kohl's one (for the benefits) and will pay it off each month.  This has been a really expensive lesson for me to learn, but at least I have a plan now to fix it.

= Schedule workouts and downtime as if they are can't-miss appointments.
I have been on the go so much this year.  While I had a lot of fun, I also had a few times where I felt burned out.  Plus, outside of my half-marathon training, I really got off-track with my fitness (which benefits me physically and mentally).  I skipped too many workouts.  I'm not doing that again.  I'm going to start scheduling introvert recharge days and workouts in my calendar.  Hopefully I won't cancel on myself.

= Be your own cheerleader.
I can be very self-deprecating.  It's a defense mechanism, I think.  I find myself saying bad things about myself to beat someone else from saying it.  Because I assume they're going to.  This is pretty destructive behavior.  If I'm not nice to myself, why should I expect anyone else to be?  So, I've been trying to curb this habit.  I've made some progress, but this will likely be an ongoing practice. 

What are some things you've learned this year?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Holiday hands

It's not even winter yet (officially), but my skin sure seems to think it is.  I put on lotion several times a day and it never seems to be enough.  I'm really glad I'm not a hand model because I would be out of work right now. My cuticles are pretty hideous and I've never been able to stop picking at the skin around my nails when it peels, so ... you can imagine how they look.

When Julep asked if I would write a post about winterizing my nails, I decided that was a nod from the universe to get my hands in shape.  They sent me this great tutorial for nail care:

I'm definitely going to look into getting some of that Vanish Cuticle Softener & Remover and Mighty Nail and Cuticle Serum.  Maybe they'll help with the issues I have with the skin around my nails.

They also sent me a palette of pretty winter colors from their vast selection:

I like that there's a good variety of colors -- for people who like bold shades and those who like a more neutral look.

Here's what I used for my own home manicure:
Mary Kay Satin Hands Set (in a yummy pomegranate scent)
Seche Base
Sinful Colors in Mint Apple
OPI in GoldenEye
Seche Vite

I have been using my Satin Hands set a few times a week, and it definitely helps some.  I just ran out of the vanilla brown sugar scent from last winter, but I'm loving this year's limited edition fragrance.

I had a hard time choosing a nail color.  I thought about red or deep purple or maybe even a greyish blue.  I ended up going with the mint color because I thought it was similar to their Kiki color. I topped it with the gold flecks because the holidays are all about sparkle.

What's your favorite shade of polish for the holidays?
Do you have any nail care tips?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Music Monday: Four Shadow - "Christmas Soup"

A capella Christmas music is hard to beat.  And the genre has made a bit of a resurgence lately thanks to the popularity of the very talented Pentatonix.  But I urge you to check out The Blenders and Four Shadow as well.  Especially if you can find the latter group.  They're a little more unknown than most.  Honestly, I only know about them because a friend of mine was in the group (if you click on the link above, he's the one in the blue sweater), and their Christmas albums -- Flake and Joy -- are my favorites to break out each year.

Only a few of their tunes were on YouTube, but I wanted to find their entertaining mash-up, "Christmas Soup."  Yay for Grooveshark.

Christmas Soup by Four Shadow on Grooveshark

Just for fun, I'll throw a few more of their songs on here.

 So good, right?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Facing the music

As I mentioned last week, I signed up with a personal trainer recently.  I had my first session with Beth last Saturday.  Mostly, we did the initial evaluation and measurements.  It was not the most fun way to spend my Saturday morning.  Mostly because I had to come to terms with how far off-track I've gotten with my health and fitness goals.

A few years ago, I was six pounds away from my weight-loss goal when I inexplicably gave up.  I've gained 20 pounds since then.  Ugh.  My clothes don't fit well and I just feel blah in general.

But there's still time to turn it around, right?

Right. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

My meeting with Beth was eye-opening, but she helped me set some achievable goals.  I really didn't want to set a target weight because I don't believe the scale always tells the whole story.  But she made me set one anyway.

My main goals are this:
- Four one-hour workouts each week. 
- Eating healthy/clean 70 percent of the time.

I think I'm going to make one of these boards to track my progress:


Instead of the weight area, I think I might add a spot where I cross off my workouts each month.  And I'm going to reward myself for sticking to those numbers.  Not with food though.  I think I'm going to use entertainment as my motivation.  Books, in particular.  There are a few series I'm loving, so I've decided if I complete my workout goals for the month, I'll allow myself to purchase a Kindle book.  And I'm debating giving myself a bonus if I do extra workouts. How do you motivate yourself?

I think the hardest part is going to be getting back to eating better.  I plan to stick mostly to buying items from this list:


The next step will be cooking. I need stuff that's easy to make and translates well into leftovers for work.  I've been scouring Pinterest, hoping to find a variety of options.  I'm just getting so sick of chicken, but I can't take fish to work (I won't be that person).  I need a break.  Any recommendations?


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off.
Saturday: Fitness assessment with Beth. Probably only a 20-minute workout.
Sunday: 3 miles on the treadmill
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Off.
Wednesday: 4.5 miles on the trails -- It felt amazing to get outside again.
Thursday: Workout with Beth + 1 mile on the treadmill

31 miles in 31 Days Running Challenge
Miles to-date: 10.5

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Stuff and Things 12/11

I'm headed back to work today after two days off.  I'm not looking forward to the voicemails and emails that await me.  But ... I pretty much don't have a choice.  Besides, I only have a day and a half of work before my weekend starts.  A three-day weekend at that.  Yay for saving a ton of PTO for the end of the year, right?
Kristin's Knook

:: This ThoughtCatalog post about the 23 Important Reminders For the Girl Who's Used to Being On Her Own is so spot on.  All of it.  Number 17 hit especially close to home.  When you're single, people are often offering advice on how to change that status.  Some of the advice is good.  Some of it is super cliche.  And some of it just ... well ... has hurt my feelings.  The biggest thing I have to remember is that advice is fine, but I really just need to follow my heart and stay true to who I am.

:: I ran 4.5 miles outside yesterday and it felt glorious.  I set out just aiming for 2 and thinking maybe 3 if I felt OK.  But when I got to mile 3, my body finally started feeling good, so I just kept going.  I honestly think I could have gone further than 4.5 if I hadn't needed to get home and get cleaned up for my part-time job.

:: The winter finale of "Nashville" was super intense last night.  I won't say too much because I hate being a spoiler but .... YIKES!!!

:: I'm thinking about adding posts about craft beer to the rotation on the blog in the new year.  I mean, it's one of my major passions and interests, but I don't talk about it much here.  Maybe that should change. Thoughts?

:: I'm mostly done with my Christmas shopping.  I don't have all of it bought, but for me, the biggest battle is deciding what to buy.  Now that I've decided what to get, it's smooth sailing.

:: Stephen Kellogg sang this tune the other night, and I got a big kick out of it.  I also think he might be on to something.  Maybe my family and I should head somewhere warm for the holidays next year.

What's on your mind this week?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Two hundred shows and counting

Last month, I reached a milestone in my life.

I attended my 200th concert.

It sounds like a lot, and I suppose it is.

I go to concerts like most people go to movies.  I definitely see more shows a year than I see movies.  For instance, this year, I've been to three movies in the theater.  I've been to 14 shows.  And that feels like kind of a slow year for me.

Perhaps the most mind-blowing part of this milestone is that I've done it all in 17 years.  That's right.  I didn't attend my first show until I was 17 years old, a senior in high school.  I went with my friends, Betsy and Sarah, to see Michael Peterson of "Drink, Swear, Steal, & Lie" fame at a country bar in Des Moines.  I even got to meet Mr. Peterson that night, which may have set unrealistic expectations for the rest of my concert-going life.

Or maybe not.

Pictured: Green Day, Todd Carey, Miranda Lambert, Kris Allen, Tim Stop, Matt Nathanson, Tyrone Wells, Tyler Hilton, Tony Lucca, Daphne Willis, Ernie Halter, & Justin Timberlake.

I've actually met a lot of the musicians I've seen live.  That's because I count every show in my concert history -- from the local band at the bar down the street where there might be 50 people there and only a handful are paying attention to the band to the big productions at venues that hold tens of thousands of people singing and dancing along.  Every one of these shows matters.  I enjoy the small shows just as much as the large shows.  I've had just as much fun watching a guy with a guitar as I have taking in a full band with pyrotechnics and background dancers.

Wondering who all I've seen?  Lucky for you, I've kept a word document that lists everyone I've seen as well as where and when.


1. Michael Peterson – Des Moines, IA (December 1997)
2. N Sync, Jimmy Ray and SOAP – Janesville, WI (August 1998)
3. N Sync, Blaque, Tatiyana Ali – Minneapolis, MN (May 1999)
4. SweetStock II – Omaha, NE (May 1999)**
5. N Sync, Shanice, Jordan Knight – Kansas City, KS (August 1999)
6. Tim McGraw, Chely Wright – Des Moines, IA (August 1999)
7. 98 Degrees – Des Moines, IA (August 1999)
8. The Blenders – Laurens, IA (October 1999)
9. Billy Joel – Ames, IA (December 1999)
10. LFO – Ames, IA (May 2000)
11. N Sync, Pink, Sisqo – Houston, TX (May 2000)
12. The Blenders – Des Moines, IA (August 2000)
13. Dixie Chicks – Ames, IA (November 2000)
14. N Sync, Meredith Edwards, Ron Izarry, Dream, Soul Decision – Washington, D.C. (November 2000)
15. Destiny’s Child, PYT – Sioux City, IA (March 2001)
16. Vertical Horizon, Five for Fighting – Ames, IA (April 2001)
17. N Sync, Meredith Edwards, Tonya Mitchell, Eden’s Crush – Minneapolis, MN (June 2001)
18. 3 Doors Down, Lifehouse, Tantric – Cedar Rapids, IA (July 2001)
19. 98 Degrees, PYT -  Des Moines, IA (August 2001)
20. Bob Dylan – Des Moines, IA (August 2001)
21. Chris LeDoux – Des Moines, IA (August 2001)
22. Sawyer Brown, Montgomery Gentry – Des Moines, IA (August 2001)
23. Dream, LFO – Spencer, IA (September 2001)
24. Rockapella – Storm Lake, IA (October 2001)
25. Mark Wills – Des Moines, IA (February 2002)
26. N Sync, Tony Lucca, Smashmouth – Ames, IA (March 2002)
27. FourShadow – Independence, IA (July 2002)
28. Rascal Flatts – Ottumwa, IA (August 2002)
29. Tony Lucca – Dallas, TX (March 2003)
30. Avril Lavigne, Simple Plan, Gob – Dallas, TX (May 2003)
31. Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Black Eyed Peas – Dallas, TX (June 2003)
32. Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Black Eyed Peas – San Antonio, TX (June 2003)
33. Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera – Bossier City,  LA (July 2003)
34. Rascal Flatts, Phil Vassar – Wichita Falls, TX (September 2003)
35. Austin City Limits Festival – Austin, TX (September 2003)**
36. John Mayer, North Mississippi all Stars – Austin, TX (November 2003)
37. The Blenders – Dallas, TX (December 2003)
38. John Mayer (Houston Rodeo) – Houston, TX (March 2004)
39. Cooder Graw, Chad Updegraff – Ferris, TX (March 2004)
40. Branded – Ennis, TX (April 2004)
41. Joe Firstman, Tony Lucca, Tyler Hilton – Dallas, TX (April 2004)
42. Tracy Lawrence, Chad Updegraff – Ennis, TX (April 2004)
43. Stara Zagora – Dallas, TX (June 2004)
44. Emerson Drive – Dallas, TX (July 2004)
45. Jessica Simpson, Ryan Cabrera – Dallas, TX (July 2004)
46. Chris LeDoux – Ennis, TX (July 2004)
47. John Mayer, Maroon 5, DJ Logic, David Ryan Harris – Dallas, TX (July 2004)
48. John Mayer, Maroon 5, DJ Logic, David Ryan Harris – Houston, TX (July 2004)
49. John Mayer, Maroon 5, DJ Logic, David Ryan Harris – San Antonio, TX (July 2004)
50. Gavin DeGraw, Marc Broussard & Toby Lightman - Dallas, TX (July 2004)
51. Gavin DeGraw, Marc Broussard & Toby Lightman - Austin, TX (July 2004)
52. Rascal Flatts & Chris Cagle - Des Moines, IA (August 2004)
53. John Mayer, Maroon 5, DJ Logic & David Ryan Harris - Birmingham, AL (August 2004)
54. Hanson, Ingram Hill and Michael Tolcher ‑ Grand Prairie, TX (August 2004)
55. Stara Zagora - Dallas, TX (September 2004)
56. Marc Broussard, Blue Merle & Louque - Dallas, TX (September 2004)
57. Austin City Limits Festival - Austin, TX (September 2004)**
58. Rascal Flatts - Dallas, TX (October 2004)
59. Green Day, New Found Glory and Sugarcult - Dallas, TX (October 2004)
60. Andy Griggs - Dallas, TX (October 2004)
61. Chad Updegraff & Dirt Blazers - Dallas, TX (November 2004)
62. Matt Wertz & Dave Barnes - Dallas, TX (November 2004)
63. Ryan Cabrera & Skye Sweetnam - Dallas, TX (November 2004)
64. Boyz II Men - Dallas, TX (November 2004)
65. Darryl Worley - Ft. Worth, TX (December 2004)
66. Gavin DeGraw, Michael Tolcher – Dallas, TX (January 2005)
67. Marc Broussard, Toby Lightman, Citizen Cope – Dallas, TX (January 2005)
68. Gavin DeGraw, Michael Tolcher – Dallas, TX (Feburary 2005)
69. Waking Norman – Dallas, TX (March 2005)
70. Chris Cagle – Ft. Worth, TX (March 2005)
71. Trent Willmon – Arlington, TX (March 2005)
72. Matt Wertz – Dallas, TX (March 2005)
73. Dave Barnes, Andy Davis – Waco, TX (April 2005)
74. KSCS Country Fair– Dallas, TX (April 2005)**
75. Pat Green, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Kevin Fowler, Trent Willmon – Dallas, TX (April 2005)
76. Chad Updegraff – Ennis, TX (April 2005)
77. Josh Gracin – Ft. Worth, TX (May 2005)
78. Nick Smith – Richardson, TX (May 2005)
79. Wildlflower Festival – Richardson, TX (May 2005)**
80. Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton – Dallas, TX (June 2005)
81. Marc Broussard, Eliot Morris, Sons of William  – Dallas, TX (June 2005)
82. Bryan White – Thackerville, OK (July 2005)
83. Chris Cagle – Dallas, TX (July 2005)
84. Tony Lucca, Joe Firstman, Michael Celadon – Dallas, TX (August 2005)
85. Chris Cagle, SheDaisy, Clint Black – Dallas, TX (October 2005)
86. Joe Nichols – Dallas, TX (October 2005)
87. Blue County – Dallas, TX (November 2005)
88. Nick Smith – Dallas, TX (November 2005)
89. Josh Gracin – Ft. Worth, TX (November 2005)
90. Darryl Worley – Ft. Worth, TX (December 2005)
91. Nick Smith – Dallas, TX (January 2006)
92. Chris Cagle – Ft. Worth, TX (January 2006)
93. Trent Willmon – Ft. Worth, TX (March 2006)
94. Dave Barnes, Michael Celedon, Chris Pearson – Dallas, TX (March 2006)
95. John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Mat Kearney, David Ryan Harris – Chicago, IL (September 2006)
96. Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, Tyler Hilton – Ames, IA (October 2006)
97. Will Hoge – Ames, IA (November 2006)
98. Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Randy Rogers Band – DeKalb, IL (November 2006)
99. John Mayer, Josh Rouse  – Oklahoma City, OK (February 2007)
100. Matt Wertz – Des Moines, IA (February 2007)
101. John Mayer, Mat Kearney - Omaha, NE (February 2007)
102. Rockstar Supernova Tour – Des Moines, IA (February 2007)
103. Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers – Ames, IA (March 2007)
104. Ernie Halter, Tyrone Wells – Lamoni, IA (April 2007)
105. John Mayer, Ben Folds – Des Moines, IA (June 2007)
106. Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers – Des Moines, IA (June 2007)
107. Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, Tyrone Wells – Minneapolis, MN (October 2007)
108. Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers – Lawrence, KS (October 2007)
109. Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, Alexa Wilkinson – Des Moines, IA (April 2008)
110. Dave Barnes, Andy Davis – Des Moines, IA (June 2008)
111. Gimmik – Perry, IA (July 2008)
112. Matt Nathanson – Des Moines, IA (July 2008)
113. Neil Diamond – St. Paul, MN (July 2008)
114. The Blenders – Des Moines, IA (August 2008)
115. Marc Broussard – Des Moines, IA (September 2008)
116. Matt Wertz – Ames, IA (October 2008)
117. Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers – Ames, IA (October 2008)
118. Tyrone Wells – Des Moines, IA (October 2008)
119.  NKOTB and Natasha Bedingfield – Omaha, NE (November 2008)
120. Matt Nathanson – Des Moines, IA (November 2008)
121. Tyrone Wells, Trevor Hall and Keaton Simons – Des Moines, IA (February 2009)
122.  Eric Hutchinson and Meiko – Des Moines, IA (June 2009)
123.  Tim Stop Trio – Ames, IA (July 2009)
124.  Matt Nathanson – Des Moines, IA (August 2009)
125.  Britney Spears and Jordin Sparks – Des Moines, IA (September 2009)
126.  Tyrone Wells, Matt Hires and Dick Prall – Des Moines, IA (September 2009)
127.  Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers – Cedar Falls, IA (September 2009)
128.  Hotel Carolina 2009 – Isle of Palms, SC (September 2009)**
129.  Tim Stop Trio – Ames, IA (October 2009)
130.  Kate Voegele and Kevin Hammond – Des Moines, IA (November 2009)
131.  Todd Carey and Curtis Peoples – Evanston, Ill. (November 2009)
132.  Serena Ryder and Matt Lowell – Ames, IA (January 2010)
133.  Ernie Halter and Joe Firstman – Des Moines, IA (February 2010)
134.  Tim Stop Trio – Ames, IA (February 2010)
135.  Todd Carey – Ames, IA (February 2010)
136.  Tim Stop Trio – Houston, TX (March 2010)
137.  Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers – Houston, TX (March 2010)
138.  John Mayer and Michael Franti – Houston, TX (March 2010)
139.  John Mayer and Michael Franti – Kansas City, MO (March 2010)
140.  Tyrone Wells and Tony Lucca – Des Moines, IA (March 2010)
141.  Tim Stop Trio – Ames, IA (April 2010)
142.  Benjy Davis Project, Matt Duke, Todd Carey – Cedar Falls, IA (April 2010)
143.  Todd Carey – Des Moines, IA (April 2010)
144.  Todd Carey – Ames, IA (April 2010)
145.  Tyrone Wells, Tony Lucca & Roy Jay – Des Moines, IA (April 2010)
146.  Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers and NeedToBreathe – Des Moines, IA (May 2010)
147.  Tim Stop Trio – Ames, IA (July 2010)
148.  Jason Brown – Perry, IA (July 2010)
149.  Tony Lucca, Ernie Halter, Alexis Babini and Trent Hancock – Cedar Falls, IA (August 2010)
150.  Kris Allen – Des Moines, IA (August 2010)
151.  Vanilla Ice & Tone Loc – Des Moines, IA (August 2010)
152.  Hotel Carolina 2010 – Isle of Palms, SC (August 2010)**
153.  Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, Sara Watkins, Roy Jay – Ames, IA (September 2010)
154.  TFDI (Tony Lucca, Jay Nash and Matt Duke) – Des Moines, IA (December 2010)
155.  Graham Colton & Daphne Willis – Des Moines, IA (February 2011)
156.  Ernie Halter – Minneapolis, MN (April 2011)
157.  Stephen Kellogg & Tift Merritt – Des Moines, IA (May 2011)
158.  Michael Buble and Naturally 7 – Des Moines, IA (June 2011)
159.  Summerfest – Milwaukee, WI (June 2011)**
160.  Matt Nathanson – Des Moines, IA (July 2011)
161.  Ingram Hill & Cowboy Mouth – Arnold’s Park, IA (July 2011)
162.  Tim Stop – Ames, IA (September 2011)
163.  Tim Stop – Des Moines, IA (September 2011)
164.  Ernie Halter – Lakeside, IA (November 2011)
165.  Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers; Katrina; Chris Koza – Ames, IA (February 2012)
166.  Tim Stop and Austin Charles – Ames, IA (March 2012)
167.  Tyrone Wells and Joe Brooks – Alexandria, VA (May 2012)
168.  Rachel Platten and Madi Diaz – Des Moines, IA (May 2012)
169.  Tim Stop and Austin Charles – Ames, IA (June 2012)
170.  Tim Stop and Austin Charles – Des Moines, IA (June 2012)
171.  Tim Stop – Ames, IA (August 2012)
172.  Miranda Lambert, Pistol Annies and RaeLynn – Des Moines, IA (August 2012)
173.  Tony Lucca and Gabe Dixon – Ames, IA (October 2012)
174.  Eric Hutchinson and Jessie Payo – Des Moines, IA (October 2012)
175.  Tim Stop – Des Moines, IA (October 2012)
176.  Tim Stop - Des Moines, IA (February 2013)
177.  Tim Stop - Ames, IA (April 2013)
178.  Tim Stop - Des Moines, IA (May 2013)
179.  Stephen Kellogg – Des Moines, IA (June 2013)
180.  Tim Stop - Des Moines, IA (July 2013)
181.  Train & Matt Nathanson - Des Moines, IA (August 2013)
182.  The Nadas - Des Moines, IA (September 2013)
183.  Ben Rector & Tyrone Wells - Des Moines, IA (October 2013)
184.  Pink & The Kin - Des Moines, IA (November 2013)
185.  Tim Stop - Des Moines, IA (November 2013)
186.  Tony Lucca, Brendan James, & Vicci Martinez - Ames, IA (November 2013)
187.  Kacey Musgraves - Ames, IA (December 2013)
188.  Tim Stop - Des Moines, IA (January 2014)
189.  Matt Wertz & My Red and Blue - Ames, IA (March 2014)
190.  Gross Domestic Product** - Des Moines, IA (April 2014)
191.  George Strait & Ronnie Dunn - Des Moines, IA (April 2014)
192.  Eric Hutchinson & Saints of Valory - Des Moines, IA (May 2014)
193.  10,000 Maniacs - Des Moines, IA (June 2014)
194.  Delta Rae & Gabe Dixon - Des Moines (July 2014)
195:  Matt Nathanson acoustic set - Des Moines, IA (July 2014)
196.  Matt Nathanson & Andrew McMahon - Des Moines (July 2014)
197.  Red Wanting Blue & Tim Stop - Des Moines, IA (July 2014)
198.  Red Wanting Blue - Ames, IA (September 2014)
199.  Jimmy Eat World - Des Moines, IA (October 2014)
200.  Tim Stop - Des Moines, IA (November 2014)
201.  Stephen Kellogg - Des Moines, IA (December 2014)

SweetStock II – N Sync, Jordan Knight, Joe McIntyre, Coolio, Blessid Union of Souls, the Moffats, EYC.

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2003 – The Dandy Warhols, Drive-By Truckers, Endochine, G. Love & Special Sauce, Pat Green, Patty Griffin, Jack Ingram, Jack Johnson, Kings of Leon, Ben Kweller, Miranda Lambert, Abra Moore, Nickel Creek, Old 97’s, Tift Merritt, String Cheese Incident, Mindy Smith, The Polyphonic Spree, Bob Schneider, Centro-matic

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2004 – Los Lonely Boys, Howie Day, Spoon, Ben Harper, Dashboard Confessional, Franz Ferdinand, Modest Mouse, Trout Fishing in America.

KSCS Country Fair - Brad Paisley, LeAnn Rimes, Andy Griggs, Diamond Rio, Jeff Bates, Sugarland, Miranda Lambert

Wildflower Music Festival - Darryl Worley, Julie Roberts, Miranda Lambert

Hotel Carolina 2009 – Drew Copeland, Sara Kelley, Keaton Simons, Andrew Hoover, Josh Hoge, Curtis Peoples, Ernie Halter, Matt Duke, Jay Nash, Sara Haze, Gareth Asher, Tony Lucca, Benjy Davis Project, Tyrone Wells.

Hotel Carolina 2010 - Keaton Simons, Josh Hoge, Curtis Peoples, Ernie Halter, Matt Duke, Jay Nash, Tony Lucca, Benjy Davis Project, Todd Carey, Sequoyah Prep School, The Bridges, Sun Domingo, Joe Firstman, Jim Bianco

Summerfest – Tim Stop, Neon Trees, Better Than Ezra, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Third Eye Blind, Los Lonely Boys, Fitz & the Tantrums, Maroon 5

Gross Domestic Product 2014 -- Tim Stop, Media Fresh, Lipstick Homicide, Love Songs for Lonely Monsters, Chad Elliott


You might notice there are a lot of repeats. I'm often asked if it's boring seeing the same act over and over.  My answer?  Never.  No two shows are the same. Even if it's the same tour, there's usually something about that show that makes it stand out. (By the way, you can see who I've seen the most in this post and this post.  The numbers for a few of them have changed some, but the rankings remain the same.)

There's probably a lot of names in there you don't know.  But you should.  I know I said all shows are equal, but I confess I do have a special love and a dedicated space in my music heart for the independent acts. The ones who ravel by car or conversion van.  The ones who sign autographs for an hour or more after their set has ended even though they have a six-hour drive to their next city.  There are some really special people in this group, and as much as I like their accessibility, I want big things for them.  I want them to succeed and for the masses to appreciate them.

There's no doubt about it -- I'm a live music fiend.  I absolutely love it.  I wouldn't trade any of the above-mentioned concert tickets and experiences for anything.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A well-spent day off

I'm burning up some more of my PTO today, and I wish I could tell you I'm using it in a productive manner.  And maybe I am if you count watching cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix while drinking coffee and reading blogs in my pajamas as productive.  And if you do, thank you! 

This is honestly my favorite way to spend a day off --- doing nothing.  With two jobs and a pretty healthy social schedule, I feel like I am always on the go. Even though I crave quiet time at home, I find myself committing to hanging out with friends or going to an event more often than I'm at home.  I don't have any regrets about that --- I love my friends and have done a lot of fun things --- but I do worry about burning out sometimes.  That's why a day like today is a really good thing.

As much as I'm enjoying this, I will have to get dressed here in a few minutes. I have fun plans for the rest of the day, which I will probably talk more about later this week.

In the meantime, feel free to check out one of my favorite holiday season entries from two years ago --- How to find love during the holidays.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Music Monday: Kris Allen - "Baby, It Ain't Christmas Without You"

I haven't watched "American Idol" in a long time. I'm pretty sure the last season I watched was when Kris Allen won. It was kind of controversial because he was up against Adam Lambert.  In my opinion, both guys are mighty talented and came out of the show just fine.  I've loved following Kris' career and watching how his music has evolved.  I love love love his sound.

This Christmas song definitely makes me swoon.


By the way, you can buy the track here.  (Gabe Dixon, another one of my favorites, has a great tune on that collection as well.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Back in the saddle ... er ... gym

I have been a huge slacker when it comes to fitness lately. I've probably only worked out a handful of times in the last month.  Terrible.  Just terrible.

The drop-off happened after my half-marathon.  I was probably a little burned out by that point.  The onset of winter doesn't help much either.  The cold temperatures and darkness at five.  It just makes me want to go home and curly up (on the nights I'm not working).  I suppose I should admit that there were also some other things going on in my life (and they're still going on, to be honest) that caused me to lose all motivation.

But I've been feeling gross lately -- emotionally and physically.  And my clothes are starting to fit a little tighter.  So, it's time to get back at it.   I desperately need to get back in a routine.  I know it won't be easy.  Especially this time of year with the holidays coming up and so many festivities.

But I'm going to do it.

And I'll have some help.

Last week, my gym offered a Black Friday special.  Three one-hour personal training sessions for about half the price. When I mentioned that I was intrigued, one of the trainers offered me two additional free sessions if I signed up.  SOLD.

I think I need someone else to kick my butt for a little while until I get the drive back to do it myself.  And I fully believe she is going to kick my butt.  I'm both nervous and excited about what she has planned for our sessions.


Last week's workouts
Friday: Off.
Saturday: Off. Although I did walk a few miles while browsing on Small Business Saturday.
Sunday: Off.
Monday: Off
Tuesday: 2 miles on the treadmill.
Wednesday: Off.
Thursday: Off.

Oh, and I've also decided to do a little running challenge this month.  December has 31 days, so I'll do 31 miles.

Miles to-date: 2

How did or do you get back on track after slacking off?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Goal challenge: Finding time to organize

Not Entirely Perfect

November's goals focused on organization.  I knew it was going to be a busy month, so I kept my list small.

1.  Do my Mary Kay inventory. -- DONE.
I will so appreciate this when tax time comes around.

2.  Shred junk mail. -- DONE.  
Eight months = one trash bag of shredded paper.  I really need to start doing this monthly so it's not such a burden.

As a bonus, I also reorganized my sock drawer.

These were really small tasks, but they really do make a difference.  And they got me started in thinking about purging and reorganizing more in my little apartment.

I'd call November a success!

On to December, for which the theme is simplify.  I had to think about this one a bit (which seems kind of counterproductive to the theme).

Ultimately, I decided that the only thing I could do here was make sure I get plenty of introvert time.  This time of year is so busy with all the parties, work functions, and family gatherings.  I need to make sure I take care of myself, which means I need to schedule some alone time.  I'm setting aside a few days right now that are just for me. Unless someone like Jake Gyllenhaal or Zach Gilford asks me out, I'm going to keep those days completely clear.

What would you do to simplify?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Love / Don't Love - Holiday Edition

It's the most wonderful time of the year.  Right?  At least that's what the song says.  Some days, I absolutely agree.  Other days, I'm not so sure.  Along with all the holiday cheer, there also tend to be some stress and negatives.  I thought I'd air them here.

LOVE Christmas music.  I own 237 songs in this genre, which makes up approximately 12 hours of listening.  My favorite albums?  Michael Buble, The Blenders (all of them!), 'N Sync, Dave Barnes, and Matt Wertz.  They're all on iTunes, so go get 'em.

DON'T LOVE winter weather. So far, we've only had one significant snowfall and a few days of biting cold.  But I know more is coming.

LOVE the Christmas wish segments on a local radio station, Star 102.5.  They touch my heart, humble me, and almost always make me cry.  I have to wait until it's done airing each morning before I do my makeup. Or, I avoid them completely in real time and just wait until they're online and have a huge cry fest.

DON'T LOVE not having enough money to buy gifts for all the important people in my life.  Shopping for others and watching them open a present I picked out is one of my favorite things. I wish I could do some more of it.

LOVE looking at Christmas lights. I walked through Jolly Holiday Lights with a friend a few weeks ago. I'll be driving through them again in a few weeks with another group of friends.  Love it.

LOVE decorating my place.  Now that I'm back in an apartment, holiday decor is the only way I can really change things up.  My Texas Rangers-themed Christmas tree has become a staple. It's adorned with little baseballs and bats along with baseball cards and a few Rangers ornaments. I add new ornaments to it every year.  The rest of my decorations are snowflake/snowman themed, which means I can leave them up until March if I want.

DON'T LOVE people complaining about when others put their decorations up.  I completely agree that Thanksgiving gets lost in the shuffle and it's sad, but lectures and shaming memes on Facebook are not necessary.  I will put my decorations up whenever I want, thank you.

LOVE reading children's letters to Santa. It's one thing I miss about my newspaper days (even though typing and formatting them was a time-consuming chore).  So if you have kiddos, I hope you'll share their letters on your blog (and make sure I'm following it!). Santa photos are also awesome.

DON'T LOVE when people tell me I can't fully appreciate Christmas because I'm childless.  This is an insensitive and inaccurate thing to say.  Stop.

LOVE the cheesy holiday-themed movies that fill the airwaves this time of year.  I will never tire of "Elf," "Home Alone," and "National Lampoons' Christmas Vacation." Seriously.  I even love the Lifetime/ABC Family/Hallmark ones. My favorites are "Holiday in Handcuffs," "Love at the Christmas Table," and "A Boyfriend for Christmas." 

DON'T LOVE that I don't have cable.  This might be the only time of year I lament that decision.  Without cable, I'm left with the selections on Netflix and Hulu.  I suppose I'll make due.

LOVE the Christmas goodies. Cranberry ginger ale, gingerbread cookies, and everything in peppermint.  Oh, and let's not forget the Christmas beers.  Shiner Holiday Cheer tops my list. Yum!!!

Hmmm, it looks like I have more on the positive side than the negative side.

Did I miss anything?  
Any cheers or gripes?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Blogger wish list

I follow a lot of great bloggers.  Beyond great content, some of them also have shops with other kinds of goods.  If I had the money, I would support each and every one of these ladies by buying from their store.  But since I can't, I'm showing you the things that are high on my wishlist.

First up is Helene In Between.  
I love that her shop features shirts inspired by one of my all-time favorite tv shows, "Friday Night Lights." 
I definitely have my eye on this one:



Next up is Two Thirds Hazel.
She's had some fabulous prints in her shop
I missed a few favorites, but I'm loving this one:


Venus Trapped in Mars is a girl after my sports heart.
She has some very clever and fun attire in her shop.
As a Cyclone fan (we've had our share of rip-offs from the refs), I like this one :


I Wore Yoga Pants has been idle for a while, and I miss her.
She has offered up a number of great shirts in her shop.
I really like this one and could see it becoming a great workout tank:


Finally, there's Vintage Modern Wife.
Inspired by her darling baby girl, she just launched a new shop.
Obviously, I don't have little ones, but I have a few friends expecting.
I have a hard time not snatching this up for my niece arriving in the spring:

So which one are you going to buy me?
Ha ha.  Just kidding.
But I hope you discovered some great new shops today.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Music Monday: Josh Hoge - "Snowed In"

I've held off on the Christmas music for about as long as I can stand.  I have a massive collection of holiday tunes, and I'm so excited to load them on my iPod to keep me company at work the next few weeks.  I'll also be sharing some of my favorites in this space each Monday until the trees come down.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of getting snowed in, but Josh Hoge makes it sound like it might be OK with the right person.

His whole album is pretty great (and available on iTunes).
His acapella outro of "Silent Night" is killer.  I only wish it was a full-length song.

I love this man's voice.

(P.S. Yes, he is Will Hoge's brother.  There are some good music genes in that family.)

Pin It button on image hover