Thursday, May 24, 2018

This & That 5/24

:: This week has been super stressful. I had some work issues (I won't go into) and then my venue coordinator started harassing me for money that isn't due until May 31. She and I also had a repeat conversation about terms of our rental that were NOT outlined in the contract or verbally when we met with her. We had the original dispute back in February and then again this past Monday. I think it's all sorted out (again), but it still made for a miserable start to the week.

:: Does anyone know how to use powder bronzer? I am doing my own makeup for my wedding and I thought I had my look done. Then two people asked me if I had bronzer and suggested I add that. I bought some and I've watched a few YouTube tutorials. I'm still not sure I'm doing it right. Anyone have a tutorial they love?

:: Last weekend, we had a deep clean day at the brewery. After we're done cleaning, we're always treated to pizza and a movie. Usually, it's a movie that one of my fellow beertenders has never seen that others think she should (they have a list for her). This time, we watched "Big Trouble in Little China." I had to leave before the movie started, so I've still never seen the movie. Am I missing out?

:: With an extended weekend coming up, Sean and I are thinking about a movie night at some point. We don't see many movies in the theater, so our rental options are wide open. We're considering "Black Panther" and "Game Night." Is there something else we should check out either from RedBox or on Netflix?

What's on your mind this week?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

This & That 5/17

:: That Yanny vs Laurel debate is insane. I only heard Yanny. Until I messed with the tool on the NY Times web site and could adjust the frequency. Then, and only then, could I hear Laurel. Either way, it certainly lit up my social media. I thought it was interesting but not worth getting into arguments over.

:: Tuesday night, I made a new (to me) meal. It's called Mexican Pasta Skillet, but I'm just going to call it Mexican Goulash. It was very tasty and it reheated very nicely for lunches.  Click here for the recipe.

:: My bachelorette party on Saturday was a blast. We started the day with a dance fitness class. After we got cleaned up, we went to dinner, where I was gifted lots of workout shirts. For each one I opened, I had to guess who gave it to me based on clues within the shirt's message. It was a lot of fun. With full bellies, we gathered in a skybox at the Iowa Cubs game. It was rainy and chilly, so having the coverage was perfect. I was so busy talking to everyone that I didn't get to watch much of the game, but I'm not too mad. After the game, a few of us went to a bar near the ballpark for one more round of beers and some food. It was a fantastic party and I left feeling very blessed to have so many people who wanted to celebrate with me.

:: That said, Saturday wasn't such a great day. That morning, my cat, Cleo, began acting a little odd. She was moving slowly, threw up her food (not all that out of character), and at one point froze in mid-scratch. She looked like she was having a seizure. It was so scary. We rushed her to the vet, and they kept her until the vet was out of surgery and could evaluate her. A few hours later, we found out her pancreas and kidneys are not in good shape at all. She's 16, so I suppose her health had to go downhill at some point. I just wasn't prepared for it to happen now. I don't guess I'll ever be ready to lose her or Casey, but I'll have to face it someday. Probably sooner rather than later for Cleo. Right now, Sean and I are giving her an IV of fluids twice a day and are monitoring her food intake. She seems to be perking up a little, but I won't be reassured until we take her back for another blood panel on Memorial Day. In the meantime, prayers and good vibes for my furbaby are greatly appreciated.

What's on your mind this week?

Monday, May 14, 2018

Music Monday: Welshly Arms - "Sanctuary"

Welshly Arms has a new song out, and I love it. I cannot get over how much I love their sound.

They're categorized as blues rock, but I don't think that fully describes them. But I don't know if I can find the right words either. It's just plain good music. The lyrics and melodies are incredible and the beat makes you nod your head.

I'm still waiting to see these guys live. And the way they're growing, I don't think I'll have to wait much longer.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

This & That 5/10

:: The other day, I went to Kohl's to check out jewelry for my wedding. I'd seen some pearl pieces online and they were on sale, so I wanted to look at them closer. When I saw them in person, I immediately loved them. I stood at the jewelry counter for probably 15 minutes and no one came to help me. There was a lady there, and she looked at my twice and just walked away. I was starting to feel like Vivien in "Pretty Woman." I ended up using my Kohl's app to order the jewelry online for in-store pickup. Then I walked around for a while until my order was ready. Lame, but at least I got my jewelry. 

:: There have been no fewer than four pregnancy announcements in my Facebook feed in the last week. What have y'all been up to? Wait ... don't answer that. I know. It's just weird when they come in batches like that.

:: Sean and I are picking up our marriage license today. We are 30 days away from saying, "I do." Can you believe it? And we still have some outstanding RSVPs (our deadline was nine days ago).

:: On Tuesday, Wells Fargo Arena announced that Shawn Mendes will be coming to Des Moines next summer. I really wanna go!!

:: Also on my wishlist are 'N Sync albums on vinyl. Only available through Urban Outfitters. Gimme.

What's on your mind this week?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Show Us Your Books: April 2018

Life According to Steph

I was all about the crime reads this month. It was a bit draining at times, but I couldn't stop reading. All of the titles were fantastic and kept me intrigued the whole way through.

I never thought I'd find a book/series that would tie in both of my favorite reading genres -- suspense and romance. But I did!! It took me a bit to get into Silent Run. Probably because I'd just finished a trio of romance novels and switching gears to a suspense novel was a challenge for my brain. But once I kept reading, it didn't take long for me to be completely engrossed in Sarah's story. I wanted to know who was chasing her when she ran her car off a cliff and woke up with amnesia. She couldn't remember who she was or anything about her life, except that she had a daughter and had no idea where the child was. Jake walked into her hospital room claiming to be the father of her daughter, but Sarah had no memories of him. She didn't even know if she could trust him. She didn't know who to trust and that picture became a mixture of muddled and clear as her memory began coming back in pieces. She has to rely on Jake through all this and slowly she remembers and rediscovers her love for him. I loved this story and can't wait to pick up the second one in the series.

GoodReads link
I don't know when I purchased this book. I found it while digging through the titles on my Kindle and decided it was a good one to follow "Silent Run." Indeed, it was. Rachel is the daughter of a detective, who is struggling to find a serial killer that is striking almost literally in their backyard. As Rachel navigates young adulthood and all the related struggles, she also feels compelled to help her father catch the killer, which gets her and her sister in a bit of trouble. It's a bit of a heavy read but has a really satisfying ending.

This book probably jumped onto lots of reading lists a few weeks ago when they announced they had a break in this very old case. I was about 2/3 of the way through this when they arrested the Golden State Killer. I think that news gave me a much different perspective on the end of the book. Especially the letter Michelle wrote to the then-unknown killer at the end. It was haunting. I really enjoyed the entire book. Michelle's dedication to (or obsession with) the case was impressive. Her research was incredibly thorough and well-done. I'm so glad they finished the book even after she was gone.

After such a heavy month of reading in April, I'll definitely be attempting to lighten it up a bit in May.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Music Monday: Kacey Musgraves - "Butterflies"

My girl, Kacey Musgraves, has a new album out.

I was delayed in buying it, but once I did, it's been in constant rotation. I love Kacey's sound, songwriting, and style. This might be my favorite tune on the record. And the video is beautiful.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sunday Sweats: April 2018 recap

April goals:
- Run at least twice each week.
I ran nine times, which I'm pretty sure comes out to more than twice a week. So this was a win!

- 'Power down' earlier on weeknights. Put phone/book away by 9:30.
I did not master this completely, but I'd say I was successful in this more often than not.
Number of days I worked out: 22

Miles Ran: 22

Personal victory:  I ran a mile (The Grand Blue Mile) in 9:28. I was super happy and proud of myself.


May goals:
- Sign up for another race.
I'm on a high after two good races, and I'm inspired to keep going.

- Spend a few minutes each day just stretching.
I'm so bad about stretching. I need to take better care of my muscles.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Cardio with Colby (30 mins)
Tuesday - WOD Strength (30 mins)
Wednesday - Xtreme Cardio (30 mins)
Thursday - Barre with Britt (30 mins)
Friday - Flex Friday (30 mins)
Saturday - Off

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Wedding Wednesday: Down to the Wire

I've been pretty relaxed during the last 16 months or so of wedding planning. But I feel like that's about to change. We're 38 days out, and my chill is starting to escape me.

At least once a day, I'm asked about the wedding planning. My answer is always the same, "I'm ready for it to be over." Here are a few of the things plaguing me as we get closer to the big day.
:: Crazy dreams.
In the past few months, I've had a number of dreams about the wedding. In one, all of our guests misread the wedding date, so no one showed up. In another, two of our guests couldn't make it and decided to give their invitations to their neighbors (whom we don't know) to allow them to attend. In another, no one would go pick up breakfast for me the morning of the wedding because they said it was too far to drive. I'm sure none of these will be come a reality, but they're still not fun to experience.

:: My to-do list.
There have been so many months where it was really too soon to do some of the prep. Now, it's time. I just had my hair trial last night, and that went well. Tomorrow, I have my final fitting. Next week, we're picking up the marriage license. I still need to finalize my makeup (I'm doing my own), put together the guest list for the rehearsal dinner (and contact those folks), start working on 'thank yous' (gifts have started to roll in), and do the table assignments (once all the RSVPs are in). And those are just the things I can think of off the top of my head.

:: My wedding day look.
As I mentioned above, I'm doing my own makeup. I'm not worried about my hair. I'll be doing an airbrush tan trial next week to decide on that. But now I'm wondering if I should get my underarms or legs waxed, as one friend suggested. I don't really want to spend the money or go through the growing the hair out part, but why would the friend suggest it if it wasn't a good idea?

:: Second-guessing everything.
With a long engagement, I've had a lot of time to make decisions. We decided on a lot of things early. But occasionally, as time has gone on, I've wondered if we made the right ones. Should we have chosen a different venue? Should we have gotten a deejay instead of a live band? Should I have gotten a different dress? Should I have hired a day-of coordinator? Should I have hired a makeup artist? Should I have chosen dresses for my wedding party instead of letting them choose their own? Ugh. Should we just have eloped?

Ultimately, I'm happy to be marrying Sean, and I'm looking forward to the party with our family and friends. But I'm also ready to have some of my time, money, and headspace back.

In the meantime, at least there's beer and wine.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Music Monday: All About 'N Sync

Today, 'N Sync finally gets their star on Hollywood Walk of Fame. It's rather appropriate that it's happening on April 30 because ...

Sorry, I had to.

This achievement has been a long time coming, and it took a sizeable campaign to get it done. I'm so excited for the guys and jealous of anyone who got to visit the pop-up shop in L.A. over the weekend.

As most people who know me can attest, I am a huge 'N Sync fan. I was integrated into the fandom rather easily after watching JC and Justin on "MMC" ("The New Mickey Mouse Club") in the 90s. I had sent JC a fan letter sometime during the show, and as a result, I received a flyer about their showcase performance in Orlando in 1995. Thanks to some networking (pen pals), I was able to get my hands on some of their early recordings (bootleg, of course), and I wasted no time picking up their debut album.

My first 'N Sync concert was at a county fair in Wisconsin in the August of 1998. I ended up seeing them seven more times during their run as a group. I went to one meet and greet as well, however they didn't allow us to take photos with them at that time, so I don't have any photographic evidence. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Somewhere in my parents' house, there are a few Rubbermaid tubs full of all of my 'N Sync memorabilia. I met two of my best friends indirectly because of 'N Sync. I have a tattoo related to the band.

I am still a fan. Probably always will be.

I was very disappointed when the group disbanded. Mostly because it came without warning. I would have loved one final album and farewell tour. But ... that wasn't meant to be. 

In honor of their special day, I'm offering up my five favorite 'N Sync songs. Trust me, choosing five was not easy.

Bonus Tracks (two from the Christmas album):

Happy 'N Sync Day!!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday Sweats: Running the Bulldog Double

The Drake Relays are a grand running tradition in Iowa. They're even a bit of a big deal nationally -- if you're into the whole track and field thing. The week always starts with road races. I have volunteered at water stations in the past, but I decided to participate this year. I could not have picked a better year. The weather was perfect, and it was the 50th anniversary. Milestones are fun.

On Sunday, I did the 5K. I wasn't sure how my body would react to the early start time of 7:45 a.m. All of my runs so far this spring have been in the evening. Thankfully, my body didn't put up much protest. None, really. I felt good right out of the gate. OK, so I was a bit annoyed at having to dodge the walkers (kudos to them for participating, but I wish they'd make sure they were behind people who want to RUN the race).

I usually start out slow, but I tried to push myself a little in the first mile this time. It worked and I settled into a nice pace. Somewhere in the middle of mile two, I realized I might be pushing too hard -- I wanted to save some for the last stretch on the famous blue oval -- so I slowed a bit. There were familiar faces all along the race course, which definitely helped keep me motivated. Once I hit the blue track, I started really legging it out, giving everything I had left. The result was a very nice time.

Not a PR, but definitely a time that made me happy.

Two days later, I ran the Grand Blue Mile, which is a newer Drake Relays tradition. It's just what it sounds like -- a mile-long race. This one is in downtown Des Moines, so parking was a bit of a headache, but thankfully I left myself enough time to get down there. I arrived at the grounds around 5:45 p.m. It took me a bit to find the start line, but eventually I did.

When we started lining up, I went to the middle of the pack per usual. The race announcer advised walkers to go towards the back, but naturally, most didn't listen to this. I had seven people in jeans in front of me. Sigh. Seriously, this is one of my race pet peeves. I'm still working on getting over it because obviously it's never going to change.

The gun sounded and we were off. Since this was only a mile, I decided to really go all out, empty the tank, so to speak. Navigating around the walkers hindered my progress a bit, but I still finished faster than my goal. My official time was 9:28.97. I'm pretty sure my smile says it all.

By finishing both races, I received a special Bulldog Double medal to go with my 5K medal.

It's safe to say my race season is off to a good start. I might get that PR this year!!!


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Drake Relays Road Races 5K
Monday - FitFusion (60 mins)
Tuesday - Total Body Strength (30 mins) + Grand Blue Mile
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - 4-mile outdoor run
Friday - Flex Friday (30 mins)
Saturday - Off

I forced myself to take Wednesday off. It was not easy as I don't like to break routine, but I definitely needed it. I try to remind myself that rest is good for the body too.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Friday Favorites: Podcasts

Some days, I'm in the mood for music while I work. Other days, I prefer to listen to people talk. Here are three of the podcasts for which I never skip an episode.

I want to have a beer with Nick and The Captain. And pick their brain about how they do research for each episode. They are always so well-prepared with the facts and some theories. I'm curious about their process.

I love food. I love history. This podcast explores the history of various foods. It's no surprise I love this podcast. I think my favorite episode so far was the one about brunch. Come to think of it, there hasn't been a new episode in a long time. I might have to check my subscription and make sure it's working (iTunes does some weird things sometimes).

Most of her episodes are 20 minutes or less, which makes them very easy listens. Also, I relate to Kelly so much. Our running feelings and thoughts seem to be very similar. She's far more ambitious (currently working to qualify for the Boston Marathon), but she has had a lot of the same struggles about how she feels about herself and her running. Her podcasts are like a high five on the race route. They really inspire me.

I have a lot of true crime. I would like to find some good motivational/self-help ones. Maybe some about writing. Any suggestions? What podcasts are on your must-listen list?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

This & That 4/26

:: I really want the dilly dog at Rangers Ballpark (I refuse to call it by it's corporate sponsorship name). It's a hot dog inside a pickle that's been battered and fried like a corn dog. YUM!!! Gimme!!! Unfortunately, I don't know when I'll get to Arlington again, so I'm guessing I won't get one.

:: I'm probably biased but I think my cats are super photogenic. I take lots of photos of them. Even more than I post, believe it or not. I imagine this is how people feel about their non-furkids as well.

:: I have had a really good week of running (I'll post more about that on Sunday), and it's inspired and encouraged me to keep training harder. In fact, I'm going to start running with someone who's definitely faster than I am once a week or so. I'm starting tonight. With a four-miler. With someone who consistently runs at a sub-10-minute pace. Let's hope I don't die!

:: We have had gorgeous weather all week. I think spring is FINALLY here to stay. At least until summer decides to take over.

What's on your mind this week?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I made wine

Making wine has been on my to-do list for a long time. Especially after I discovered there's a place in town that would allow me to do it as part of a group. There was no way I was going to purchase all the equipment and supplies. I'll let someone else do that and just let me use their stuff.

Fortunately for me, my friend, Savannah, decided she wanted to make wine to celebrate her birthday. I was all too happy to oblige. In January, we went to Vines to Wines, which is located near downtown Des Moines. Admittedly, it was a little weird to go into the basement of a random house, but Savvy and I had been there before for a wine tour, so we were prepared. And, once you realize it's not as creepy as it seems, it's a pretty neat concept. For $45 each, we got to help make a batch of wine. And we'd get to keep three bottles each.

Completed wines fermenting and some bottles for purchase.

We had chosen to make an Argentinian Malbec. The owner had already sanitized all our equipment, which is key, and it was nice to be able to skip that part. Then we added the ingredients in the bucket (more commonly known as a car boy) -- water, yeast, and juice bag. Our particular kit also included grape skins. Mmm.

Once this was all well-mixed, we closed up the car boy and left it with the owner for a few months to ferment.

We returned in mid-March to bottle our wine and bring home our treasures.

Now, is the hard part. Waiting. The wine won't be ready to drink until February 2019.

It was a really fun experience, and I'd definitely do it again. I might have to scan Vines to Wines' events calendar and find another wine I want to make.

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