Sugar Monster.

Day 5. I’m not sick of eggs yet, I think we’ve finally gotten over the Sugar-Monster-crabbiness, and the weird dreams have kicked in. Breakfasts all week have been our standard breakfast casserole with hashbrowns of some sort, pork sausage and eggs. Topped with Cholula – always. I somehow rarely get sick of that stuff too – probably because we switch it up each week so it’s not EXACTLY the same each time we make it. Lunches are full of leftovers from whatever we’ve eaten previously in the week. Dinners have been different each night – and actually prepared that night, instead of just shoved in the microwave and heated up. I attempted to cook spaghetti squash in the crockpot – not the best option when your squash is HUGE and the lid doesn’t even close on it. Normally I cook it in the microwave using this method, and it comes out steamy and soft and the “noodles” just melt into the sauce. This was definitely a lot more crunchy. Maybe that’s why I like the micro method more – because spaghetti squash is delicious and a little weird in texture for me?

Earlier in the week as I was getting ready for work, I came to the realization that there’s a few things I do during the #whole30 that I don’t normally do on a regular basis – and probably should. Or maybe I do them and just am not aware of it as much? Who knows. Like – for example: flossing. I know I know, you should floss every day, brush your teeth twice a day, wash you face twice a day, shower daily (but NOT wash your hair daily), etc.etc.etc. But normally – I do not. Gross? Probably a little. Things you learn about yourself during #whole30 can certainly be an eye opening experience, whether you like it or not. I also work out more regularly. Is it because I need to keep myself busy so I don’t dig through the cupboards trying to find a snack? Or because I have more energy? Or because I normally coincide #whole30 with a yoga challenge? Probably a little of each. I’m not partaking in the 20/30 challenge this year, but I am trying to make it to yoga at least once a week going forward. Like I said before, I want to mix it up this month.

I’ve also noticed that my kitchen tends to stay cleaner during this time – even with the massive amount of cooking that’s happening. Wash all the dishes before bed, put them away in the morning or before I start cooking again at night. I DEFINITELY run the dishwasher more (thank goodness for little miracle inventions that wash dishes for you!) so I don’t have to wash 4000 tupperware containers EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. because I bring my breakfast and lunch to work as well as some snacks. But this year I have upgraded to Pyrex glassware rather than my plain ol’ plastic Rubbermade. LIFE.CHANGER. They stay clean and nice even after you use them a million times, they never melt or get stains, there are a ton of different sizes so you can use them for basically anything. Dear Black Friday Sales, I love you. Love, me.

Week one recap though: I was CRABBY. All week. Basically until this morning. That Sugar Monster was a real biyatch this round. And both of us felt it. Both of us were snapping at each other, being rude for no reason, and even a lot more quick to get angry with the fur babies. Not cool, Sugar Monster, not cool. Week one is full of temper tantrums and no energy. But it’s picking up. And tonight I’m pumped for bison burgers and Greek potatoes. Greek food ALWAYS gets me in a great mood. (OPA! Sigh – wouldn’t mind some flaming cheese right about meow though…)

I’m currently working on the meal plan for next week… I know for Valentine’s Day we’ll be heading to the Iowa Beef Steakhouse, I think this is our 4th year we’ve done that? Because who doesn’t want to eat steak on the day of love? Plus that day, the pups have daycare so that means they will be completely exhausted all night long. And hopefully that will also mean that they will take adorable Valentine’s Day pictures to send us in their report cards because I will DIE from cuteness. (This paragraph got off topic real quick.)

Before I leave for the day I wanted to thank everyone for eating pizza and bagels for me yesterday. I’m sure it was extremely difficult for you to do – but I so appreciate it. #pizza4lyfe

Lastly, a little snippet about the week in a nutshell.

  • Favorite Meal: Chicken Taco Lettuce Wraps (with homemade seasoning!), Mexican Cauliflower Rice, Avocado Mash, and Cholula
  • What I’m Reading: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (currently reading), Fat Girl Walking (just finished for book club – a week late)
  • Weekend Plans: staying OUTSIDE as often as possible since it’s February in Iowa, and also 50 degrees! Muddy dogs, here we come! Plus – a mindf*** solo movie trip!
  • Next Week’s Outlook: an outdoor run, yoga, new recipes (let’s break them down!) and a clear head from the detoxed Sugar Monster out of my system!

Happy Friday kids – enjoy the weekend and the spring weather in mid-February!

Back in Black {Coffee}

And I’m back. And what better way to get back into the blogosphere than with a post about my newest round of #whole30! Tis the season amirite? After completely overindulging since… um… vacation in Mexico (before Thanksgiving)… I needed a system reset. Like bad. So here we are – day one of #whole30 – and completely under prepared.

We’ll say it’s because of the Super Bowl last night… and that’s probably part of it. I mean we went to the grocery store and have everything we need for this round… but that whole “food prep” thing just didn’t quite happen. SO. Thankfully I’ve done enough of these that I know what I can eat to make me full until I can really get things prepped tonight… and I’ve got enough (too much) coffee in my system that I should be set for the day and be super ready to have a big ol’ bowl of beef and sweet potato chili tonight to fill in the holes that breakfast and lunch left me with.

Breakfast today was an apple, blueberries and grapes topped with cashew butter (for real my lifesaver) and black coffee (obvs.) Black coffee has been my norm for a while actually – before my first whole30 (like… 4 years ago maybe??) I put creamer in my coffee EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. And not just a splash or two. I’m talking a couple glugs. (That’s an actual measurement, you guys.) So it was basically creamer with a splash of coffee. Not cool. Once I weaned myself off that sugar monster, black coffee actually tastes great to me. Who knew.

Lunch will be easy… and super boring. Three scrambled eggs, a can of tuna, salt and pepper, and Cholula (because you put hot sauce on EVERYTHING during whole30. And not during whole30. #cholula4lyfe) Because planning kind of happened yesterday, I didn’t have lunch planned for today… because I was thinking about the giant vat of chili for tonight. Silly me. So tomorrow will be 100 times better.

So yeah – dinner – beef and sweet potato chili. Sounds delish. Too bad I can’t top it with cheese or Fritos. It’s fine – I’m such a chip monster it will do my body GREAT to not have that huge ingestion of sodium. I love chips.

So this round of #whole30 is going to be the same as the rest I’ve done… but it’s the post-whole30 that I’m looking forward to. Reintroduction of SOME things. No introduction of others. Like – how many times have I done this… and I have greasy pizza the day after. Literally every.single.time. And then the next day – or even like 15 minutes later – I feel like trash. I love pizza – I seriously do. I could eat it for every single meal for the rest of forever (if that whole “I’d weigh 4000 lbs” thing wouldn’t happen) but it hurts my body SO MUCH. Same goes with pasta. Like last night for example. We went over to the Italian side of the family to watch the Super Bowl and to eat homemade meatballs and sausage and pasta. It’s delicious and amazing. And I ate too much and too fast and thought I was going to DIE because I was so full. It wasn’t pretty. I unbuttoned my pants during the game so I wouldn’t throw up. Because I have ZERO SELF CONTROL when it comes to carbs. WHY. Because they’re delicious and bad for me? Probably. Because my mentality is occasionally (often) that of a 17-year-old and I think that the pasta I’m eating is to help fuel me for five volleyball games or three softball games in the 90 degree heat and I NEED that extra energy. Yeah – no. I don’t need that. My metabolism hasn’t stopped yet – but if I keep eating like I’ll be at a three hour practice, when instead – I MIGHT take the dogs on a few walks that day – then it may just go and reverse completely. Getting older is fun, you guys.

So my goals for this round of whole30… I’m actually going to make some this time… are going to vary. I know you’re not supposed to weigh yourself during this time, and I’m actually going to follow that. I weighed myself this morning (and wanted to cry) and I won’t weigh myself again until my last day – March 10th – and see how I did. I already know my clothes will fit better and I will FEEL better. And I’ll sleep so amazing and my face will clear up and I won’t be so blotchy… and I’m so looking forward to it. Another goal will come with reintroduction – cut WAY down on carbs (sub in veggies), steer (mostly) clear of soft cheeses, and QUIT IT with binge snacking. Binge snacking is something I’ve probably always done – but it never did anything to hurt me. Because again – 17 year old inside me – could practice for 3 hours, eat half a pizza, drink a bunch of Mountain Dew, candy, etc. and still feel fine and not gain a pound. Seriously all through high school I hovered in between 130-135 lbs. Let’s just say that’s not the case now. Not even close. And I’m really not sure I could get down to that weight again and be HEALTHY. Another thing – EAT MORE VEGGIES. Like at least one with every meal. Fruit is great, sure – but it does have a lot of natural sugar that kind of defeats the purpose of the whole30. And another – one new recipe per week. (Look out honey – I’m getting creative!)

I’m also working to improve my working out. The last few weeks I’ve been super lazy about my workouts. I’ve done them – I’ve earned that gold star, I’ve burned calories – and then I go home and eat a HUGE meal and sit on the couch for three hours binge watching Shameless. (Which is SO GOOD you guys – definitely go watch it.) So while I’m in the “fat burn zone” for 4.5 hours (thanks FitBit), I still have done nothing for my body. Or at least it FEELS like that.

And that’s where I need YOU. I’ll be posting to help hold myself responsible for what goes into my body, what I do to make significant and lifelong changes in my body, because I don’t want to be unhappy with the way I look and feel. Plus – posting will give me something to do with my hands, rather than running to the break room to grab a bag of chips or making a bag of popcorn and grabbing a beer on Sunday afternoon just because I can. (Although – as an adult, isn’t the best feeling EVER, doing something you want to do JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN?? Just me? Definitely not just me.) So this is going to be a safe haven for me to complain about eating eggs, how working out is bad for you, the naughty things my pups have done, the new recipes and the fails to go along with them, the books I’ve read, the things I’ve done, the memories I’ve made, the debt I’ve paid down, etc.etc.etc. Get excited!

Meal Plan 2/6-2/10

  • Monday: Beef and Sweet Potato Chili
  • Tuesday: Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos
  • Wednesday: Sausage and Veggie Sheet Pan Dinner
  • Thursday: Italian Sausage and Spaghetti Squash Casserole
  • Friday: Mediterranean Bison Burgers and Greek Lemon Potatoes

Weekends tend to be up in the air… but I’ve got ideas – and new recipes coming! Thanks for the support (yeah I’m asking this early) and if I bore you – sorrynotsorry – and if I inspire you – you’re welcome. And if you’re just reading through blogs because it’s what you do every morning and you stumble across mine – even better! Have a good one kids – stay tuned and here’s hoping for new habits!

I’M. BACK.

Guys – I’m back. For real this time. It’s been a (long) while since I’ve written in here – but it’s okay. I didn’t want to force myself to write something that I wasn’t feeling passion for. I mean my last post was at the beginning of fall, and now it’s the beginning of winter – so there’s that. I was just told today that the first day of spring is March 19th so let’s just hope I don’t wait another season to write to you. I won’t – I promise. Because I’ve got goals.

And lists. So many lists. Because lists are basically in my top 10 favorite things. Behind pizza, reading, animals, sleeping, and other things. (See what I did there? A list of my favorite things where “making lists” is on my list!) Anyway. My list. For 2016. And going forward really. Here goes…

  • GET HEALTHY. This is basically on my list EVERY SINGLE YEAR… but for some reason this feels so right, and so much like it WILL happen. Maybe it’s because I got a FitBit (from Santa) for Christmas and I’m OBSESSED with checking my steps, calories, etc. all throughout the day. Maybe it’s because I weighed myself (I’m the worst – I know) and plan to do weekly weigh ins. Maybe it’s because the Whole30 (actually the Whole45) is coming up in less than TWO WEEKS and I’m reading the forum and the list of do’s and don’ts for food. Maybe it’s because I turned 29 and want to be the best version of myself coming into my 30th year that I can be. Who knows. Either way – it’s happening.
  • READ ALL THE BOOKS. Again – probably happens every year. But for 6 days into 2016, I’m not doing too bad. I finished my first book of the year (Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me?) and started reading It Starts with Food – in preparation for Whole45 – and I’m also listening to the 3rd book in the Alex Cross series from James Patterson, Jack and Jill. This year though – 50 books. Minimum. Which is totally doable when I can usually go through at least one book on CD during my drives to and from work in about a week. HOLLA. I also want five of those books to be business/motivational/self-help related. Because you can never read something that won’t make you better SOMEHOW.
  • EAT MORE VEGGIES. This has definitely not been repeated year after year. You know how I know? Because I can go WEEKS without ingesting a veggie. And that’s terrible. Tonight is the “come to Jesus aka Whole45 planning” meeting and veggies are going to be a TOP priority. Spiralize EVERYTHING. Roast EVERYTHING. Seriously – so many more veggies. They’re so damn good for you. Who cares if sprouts and asparagus makes your pee smell funny. You know how to make that better? DRINK MORE WATER.
  • BE PRESENT. This means a few things to me. It means putting my phone away for a couple hours at night where I can have conversations without interruptions, where I can read a book and not worry about what is also going on in the social media world. Talk on the phone with friends rather than text. Send cards, emails, flowers, etc. to those I don’t get to see often. Be a good friend.
  • BE POLISHED. Y’all know I love me a good ponytail. Or a bad ponytail if we’re being honest. (I’m not totally sure what a bad ponytail is – but just go with me here.) HOWEVER. I got my haircut on my birthday and it’s pretty and it does what it’s supposed to – so I’m going to do it. Wear make up to work, do my hair in the morning, wear heels during the week (BTW this is two days in a ROW for me of heels. Look at me GO.) Try not to look (too) scurvy when I go out in public. Except if I go to the grocery store right after working out that’s definitely not going to be pretty for anyone – but oh well.
  • WRITE DAILY. For Christmas this year, and birthday, and other random times I buy books (aka everyday if I could) I found a few books to tackle throughout this year. One is called A Year of Cozy – which is basically a year’s worth of recipes, DIY, etc. for me to do – separated by month and season. HOW FUN. The next, is a list making book (told you I love lists.) Sundays are my new “list making” day. Each week I’ll be brainstorming and listing on a certain topic – and then journaling about it. #creativity. The last one, is a 365 Q&A book. This goes on for FIVE YEARS. I will do a quick Q&A for each day of the year, for the next five years, to see how my answers change. LOVE THIS. Plus – more blogging for you wonderful people. Twice a week – minimum. I mean – I’ll try.

There are so many things I want to do this year – to make me a better ME. Cleaning the house more regularly, cooking more food, trying new food, challenging myself with books I wouldn’t normally read, challenging myself with workouts I wouldn’t normally do. I want to be there for friends more than ever, I want to love so much it hurts. 2016 seems like a pretty great year so far – and I’m ready to tackle it.

food love. book love. FALL.

And just like that – fall has arrived in full force. I’m not even mad that it was accompanied by a hella cold rain – except for the fact that Little Bear thought it was a good idea to take a lap around the block instead of just doing his business in our front yard. I also like how in groups of people when there’s a pause of awkward silence, weather becomes the topic. “So did you see the forecast for the week? Oh man it’s going to be so nice/hot/cold/snowy/rainy/etc.” Talk about it with strangers, talk about it at work with people you don’t enjoy – thanks Weather for being our “go-to” conversation starter in awkward/boring situations.

But I digress. HOORAY FOR FALL!! I’ve been waiting on this change since the one day it got down to the high 50s-low 60s in September and all the #basic girls (myself included) busted out their boots and scarves and took a trip to Starbucks for the first #PSL of the season. And then magically it’s 80 degrees. Come on fall, just GET HERE already.

tumblr_mtk5aeNPYB1qc8cx1o1_1280 Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying out some different outlets for media that I haven’t tried before – ie. Podcasts and books on tape/CD. Okay so let’s be real – I’ve listened to PLENTY of books on tape back in the day – but I’m so much more of a “hands-on” reader that I really didn’t use them for YEARS. I’m pretty sure the last book I listened to was Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. So yeah – it’s been a while. So while I got the idea to get a book to listen to on my way to and from work – I’ve got plenty of time in the car since I go home over lunch to let the bear out – I thought, why not. The time is there – why not utilize it? (More on that a little later.) I’ve never been a “podcast” girl – is that even a thing? I don’t really know. But I thought I’d try them out – mostly because I follow Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) on Instagram and she was always talking about her podcast. So I went to her blog and started listening. She named her podcast “Happier” which I think is fun – and does these talks with her sister, a TV writer living in L.A. It was interesting to see their different points of view – while Gretchen lives in NYC and is a writer – on different subjects. I went through these real fast – since they’re between 25-35 minutes I could get these done in no time. I liked that each podcast had a different “take home” for you to do – and I took a lot of those to heart. Especially the one-minute rule for tackling clutter, making your bed, treat yourself like a toddler, and to pick a one-word theme for the year. If you’ve got some time, need a break, or want to try something new – I highly recommend listening to Happier.

A couple weeks ago I visited the library (my happy place) and picked up six books I wanted to read. Yes you read that correctly – SIX books. A little much for a three-week time period? Maybe. But I flew through two of them already – one was a Sunday read for me and the other was a “before bed to get my mind focused” kind of read. For those of you who watched The Hills (guilty), the first book I read was called If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone – the founder of PR firm People’s Revolution. HIGHLY recommend this book. I think it was something I needed to propel me forward. Not that I was stuck, but I needed something new. Following in Kelly’s booksteps (like footsteps… get it?) I started reading #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso. Sophia is the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal fashion and #Girlboss is a combination memoir/how-to. How to become a #GirlBoss. Again – something else I NEEDED in my life. Not that I necessarily have an entrepreneurial spirit or even WANT to be my own boss – but it’s refreshing to hear about strong women totally OWNING everything they have because it was built from the ground up. Bad asses for life.

Next up on my (never ending) list of books to read – our next book club book by Charlie Huston, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death. Sometimes you just start a book and KNOW you’re going to love it. That’s how this one is. Ten-ish pages in – and I’m hooked. Love when that happens. I’ve also got Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose, and another Kelly Cutrone gem – Normal Gets you Nowhere. READ ALL THE BOOKS!

readallthebooks

Monday morning on my way to work I started listening to The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. Normally this would NOT be my cup of tea – but since Sophia Amoruso suggested it, here I am. Basically it’s a historic self-help book… if that makes sense. Kind of a how-to-make-money-and-save-money-and-get-out-of-debt-while-putting-it-in-historic-terms. I was intrigued. So here I am – almost halfway through – and actually getting some enjoyment out of this. Although sometimes I space out and it’s hard to understand, it all makes sense. I hate money, I hate talking about money, I hate what money does to people – whether they have a lot or very little – and yet this book is something I actually enjoy. And now that I know that I’ll get through this book in a week TOPS, I’ll need to scour through my TBR (to be read) list and see what else I can enjoy on the road.

ALSO. You all KNOW my love of all things food. Food blogs. The Food Network. Cookbooks. Instagram posts. Like if I could look at food porn all day I WOULD. (And sometimes it feels like I do.) So anywho – yesterday I stumbled across an Instagram post for Slow Cooker Autumn Minestrone Soup that had me DROOLING… so I visited Real Food Whole Life to check out this gem, which I then followed up with at least 30 minutes of looking at other recipes. The one that totally caught my eye and FORCED me to make it for dinner last night – Grilled Hummus, Apple and Caramelized Onion Sandwiches. Like how AMAZING does that sound?! Plus – I had all those ingredients at home. So I made it. And it did not disappoint. My onions may have been slightly over-caramelized, but I also added some shredded mozzarella cheese and it was seriously thebomb.com. Making that probably weekly. I mean just LOOK how good it looks!!

IMG_2081

This got slightly more wordy than planned – so I’ll hold off until later this week. Enjoy this weather kiddos – before you know it there will be snow on the ground.

(JUST KIDDING MOTHER NATURE…. JUST KIDDING)

get lost

I’ve been called a “book worm” over the years more times than I can count. I have literally (yes – this is the correct time to use that word) ALWAYS read multiple books at a time. Growing up, my mom could never figure out how I could keep the plots distinguished between books. I was also that kid where if I broke my leg during the summer, I wouldn’t be sad about staying inside not being able to run around. Because I’d have my books. When someone asks me what I like to do in my free time, I tell people I like to read. I’ve also been told I should “get a new hobby” because reading doesn’t count.

Reading is everything to me. I love the feeling of getting lost in a character’s life – seeing something through their eyes (while it’s how I picture it in my mind.) Reading to me isn’t necessarily an escape from reality – although sometimes I get so into the book that I forget where I am, what I need to do that day, and any underlying/below-the-surface issues I just don’t want to face at that time. Reading a book I love sometimes makes me overly happy, occasionally (often) ugly cry, and more often than not – give me a book hangover. Sometimes I have all three happen to me during the same book.

The book is ALWAYS better than the movie. And if it’s not better (see previous line – it’s ALWAYS better), then it’s at least AS GOOD. The movie has NEVER been better than the book. Ever. And it never will be. So many times I will hold off on seeing the movie until I’ve read the book. And if it happens that I see the movie before I read the book, I will ALWAYS picture the actors from the movie as the characters in the book.

One of my favorite happy places is curled up underneath a blanket, with a cup of coffee/tea/wine, and my book. It’s at that moment that I am completely at peace. My mind is calm and not running a million miles an hour, the TV is off, my to-do list is finished, and I am serene.

And lately – reading just hasn’t been happening for me. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment in time where I stopped reading, but it just hasn’t been happening. Maybe it’s me being lazy. Maybe it’s the fact that there is ALWAYS an SVU/CSI marathon on after work. Maybe it’s because I’ve got a lady date to binge-watch something on Netflix. Maybe it’s because my love is home for the weekend and I want to spend every waking moment with him rather than alone with my book. Maybe it’s because our newest little fluffy baby needs constant attention so he isn’t chewing/peeing on something. Maybe it’s because the books I’ve been reading aren’t gripping me enough so I just can’t get into them. All these could be a potential factor – and it makes me so sad to think about.

Reading is my JAM. For realz guys. I’ve even been terrible about reading my book club book. And if anything, that was at least the one I read. For a while I was reading a book a week. ONE BOOK IN ONE WEEK. Now it’s taken me MONTHS to finish a book with less than 200 pages. I don’t want to force myself to read – because that’s how people learn to hate reading. Like when you’re in school – you’re forced to read books for English and in turn, you end up either hating the book or just reading in general. Example – The Great Gatsby. We had to read it and pick it apart in high school. Doing all that made me not want to read it. I love reading for enjoyment, rather than reading for discussion. Except for book club – that discussion I really do enjoy. (Maybe also because I can drink wine at book club, but not in AP English.)

So before I go all “I vow to read one non-school book per week” a la Clueless on you all, I just want to make a mental note to read daily. Maybe that’s 15 minutes before bed. Maybe it’s first thing in the morning when Koji thinks 5 am is an acceptable wake up time. Maybe it’s a Saturday morning when Koji thinks 6 am is an acceptable wake up time. Maybe it’s Sunday afternoon while Koji is napping or he’s out on a walk with dad and mama gets some much needed peace and quiet. I’m adding a book into my purse so I have one if I ever get stuck in traffic, or if I’m waiting to pick someone up, or if I’ve got some time to wait before a store opens (because that’s a thing I do now with this furry little alarm clock.)

Reading has always been a major love of mine, and I don’t want to lose that love. So my job for all of you – remind me to read. Put a picture of the book you’re reading up on Instagram so I see it and am reminded to sit down with The Bell Jar for a little while. Add some books on your Goodreads “to be read” list so I can go through and be reminded what I have yet to read on my never-ending list – and sit down with All the Light We Cannot See while Koji is passed out after a long walk. Maybe I end up searching for something in Juli Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook and end up reading through recipes in cookbooks for a while. You just never know when the (available) time will hit you and you have the opportunity to lose yourself in the words of someone else’s story.

studying is hard.

You guys – I forgot how to study. Basically everything I learned in college (because let’s be real – you didn’t really need to study in high school) about studying… I forgot. It hurts my brain, it makes me sleepy, and I really just don’t wanna do it. {Insert temper tantrum here}

School is for fools. For real. (Not really – but in this instance, I’m dubbing it as such.) I am currently studying for my CAP exam (Certified Administrative Professional) which is coming up in exactly THREE WEEKS from tomorrow. Barf. I probably should have started studying sooner, but procrastination is my JAM so I of course waited until this week to start. It’s a lot of information I already know – last year I worked toward getting certificates for HR related duties and it’s a lot of repetition for what I’m currently studying. It’s not so much the information I’m having issues with – the content is just fine – but seriously this whole “studying” thing. BLECH.

Some of the things that went through my mind while I was studying yesterday – “Uuuuugh I don’t want to do this. I want a nap. I’m soooooo tired. My neck hurts. This is stupid. WHY do I need to know this. I need to crack my back and my chair isn’t letting me do that. I wish I had my high school desk where I could lean back and crack my back like only it knows how. Oops I didn’t mean to highlight that. I didn’t even read that – better reread it. I JUST WANT A NAP.” Seeing a recurring theme don’t you?

As long as I do some studying daily I’ll be through this book by the end of the week. Then I’ll just need to spend some time at the library during my “respite time” with the bear. A couple hours at the library will do me good. (Apparently I should reread that grammar section from yesterday. What a terrible sentence.) Le sigh. I hate studying.

Yet I LOVE reading. Such is life. I could sit for HOURS and do nothing but read a book. I get lost in the words and the lives of the characters. With studying – I just keep looking at the clock for when I can be DONE.

Props to all you grown-ups out there who are studying for school… at this point in my life I don’t think I’d ever want to go back. I’m hoping to take my PHR exam early next year and after that I think I’ll be done with tests for a while. Get some extra letters behind my name to make me a more marketable business lady and be done with it. I’m looking forward to this test being done… even though it takes ALMOST FOUR HOURS. I haven’t taken a test that long LITERALLY EVER. College finals were what – two hours? Maybe three? And it never took that long. THIS ONE IS ALMOST FOUR HOURS. Maybe I should take the rest of the day off after that. Go home and just sleep. OOF.

Okay I’m done whining for now. But for realz guys. Studying is the worst.

no sleep till brooklyn

You guys. That was a really long hiatus. I apologize. Over two months with no post? I suck.

But SO MUCH has been happening since then. We moved (you knew that) and getting this house set up just the way we like is proving to be much more difficult than I’d ever thought. Furnishing a house that’s nearly twice the size of our apartment has been time consuming, expensive, but also hella fun. I’ve been making weekly(ish) trips to Goodwill because thrifting has become a new pastime. Craigslist finds have kept me sane… and DIY projects are happening way more often than I ever thought possible. I’ve been reading up on different blogs to assist in organization, decorating, and cooking (per usual) and to make our house a HOME. This weekend we are finishing up the FINAL room in the house (the guest bedroom) – and after that we get to relax. But not really – because we also have a new little baby boy in our life. And relaxing just isn’t something we can do anymore.

Koji the cream-colored Shiba Inu is our newest fur baby addition to the family. He is a spunky little love that keeps mama on her toes during the week. He is sweet – but not cuddly, plays hard, sleeps through the night (usually), and torments his big orange brother on a daily basis. He learned “sit” over lunch one day and (sometimes) knows “drop it” when we’re playing fetch or going for a walk outside. 80% of the time he’s great on the leash – but the other 20% he’s a monster. On Thursday he will be 3 months old (baby boy is growing up so fast) and he has a definite attitude. He’s so cute – and so much WORK. After doing a lot of the work during the week – as I’m playing “single fur baby mom” while my other half is traveling for work – I told myself that if I were a single girl, there is no way I would EVER get a dog on my own. I love dogs – all dogs – but taking care of a puppy by myself is HARD. It’s time consuming (I knew it would be) but also so worth it. It’s fun watching him grow up and learn new things – even if sometimes I just wish he would learn RIGHT NOW. I mean – I know he’s a puppy, and such a cute one, and he’s really smart – shibas are naturally very smart dogs – but maybe just stop chewing your leash and acting like a maniac.

But still – he’s so cute.

Being a cat mom is so easy. Toby is 8 – he’s been around for a while, he knows what’s up. He sleeps 90% of the day – and rarely wakes me up during the night. Sometimes he wants to snuggle, other times he wants to sleep under the bed and not be bothered unless he’s hungry. Which is fine by me. Koji is a literal 180 from Toby. It’s hard for me to sit down and watch TV or read a book or do laundry without asking “what are you doing? Where are you? What are you eating? What’s in your mouth? Are you peeing in the house?” I never thought I would ask the question “what’s in your mouth” so many times in one day. Sometimes it’s a leaf, sometimes it’s bunny poop, sometimes it’s a cigarette butt – and that’s the grossest thing  – I’ve noticed how many people in my neighborhood smoke and then just toss the butts into the yard. DON’T THEY KNOW THAT DOGS WALK BY AND EAT THEM?! Got a little wild – sorry about that. Helicopter mom over here.

I love these little loves SO MUCH – but it’s SO NICE when I get some respite care on the weekends. Hopefully in the next couple months this travel will be cut down to being out of town Tuesday-Thursday instead of Monday-Friday. Which will be amazing for MULTIPLE reasons. Reason number one – this has been ongoing travel for OVER A YEAR which was supposed to be a 6 month project. Reason number two – mama can get out of the house for more than an hour at a time to get stuff done and see people (sorry friends if I’ve been non-attending things lately… I feel a little guilty leaving the babies at home after they’ve been alone all day.) Reason number three – I get lonely during the week and wish my person were there with me every night. I’d like to eat less leftovers and make more dinners for two. I’d like to go on weeknight bike rides (oh yeah – we got bikes too) and yoga together. I’d also like to have relaxing weekends instead of trying to cram everything we want to do together into 2.5 days. Sigh.

I’m slowly working myself back into a routine – waking up earlier, going to bed a little later… going on lots of walks and sometimes running sprints up and down the street to tire the little bear out before bed. Sometimes I get woken up at midnight for a quick potty break – other times it’s 3 in the morning. 5 am days happen often – and when 6 am days happen I (almost) wish it were a 5 am day so I could get more done in the mornings. 9:30 pm hits and both babies are ready for bed. And it’s wonderful. Even though I would often crawl into bed before the sun went down and read for an hour before falling asleep… that hasn’t happened in WEEKS. Can’t go to bed at 8 when the pup gets zoomies at 8:45. Speaking of zoomies – these are hilarious. SPRINTS around the house. It’s too cute.

Slowly but surely I’ll be a functioning adult – with a to-do list that gets completed, workouts that are finished, a puppy that goes to bed and sleeps through the night and doesn’t pee in the house or chomp on my arm, and a kitten who will always be my first baby and who will continue to tolerate his brother and maybe one day become best friends with. I’ll spend weeknights with my love, try new recipes, go on long bike rides and calming yoga practices, and relearn what it’s like to spend every night together, rather than just three nights. (I forget about the snoring you guys…) Kidding – mostly.

Although I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, I promise to come back with more recipe hits (and misses), puppy pictures, house and DIY updates, and some new adventures. Hugs and kisses you guys… thanks for baring with me during my brief moments of radio silence.

wear sunscreen.

This dreary Monday made me not want to get out of bed AT ALL today. I also didn’t want to go to work because there are still boxes that need to be unpacked and moved in from the garage. I know I don’t NEED to get everything done and put away today… but I’d rather just get it done as soon as possible rather than wait. But the best part is – we are finally moved into our new AMAZING place!!

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We closed Friday morning after a big breakfast at the Waveland Café. We attempted to run errands for the random miscellaneous things we’d need for our move – but got distracted and ended up having to run those errands Saturday morning. We grabbed a quick lunch at George the Chili King (while also watching reruns of the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives episode they’re featured in) and I headed home to shower before heading to Cedar Falls to watch my baby sister graduate with her MASTERS DEGREE from UNI. So proud!! I didn’t get home till after midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning and was surprised to see our bedroom furniture all out in the kitchen. At least I didn’t kick anything. We spent our last night in the apartment sleeping on our mattress on the floor – much like we spent the very first night in our apartment. Aww memories.

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Saturday morning we got up EARLY to get down to the Farmer’s Market to fuel up for the move. Giant iced coffees from Java Joe’s and a breakfast burrito from the Farm Boy’s stand and we were SET.

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We headed to Target (where we got there before they even opened – there’s a first time for everything!) and then a quick trip to Menard’s. We got a call letting us know that the previous owners were out of our place and wanted to make sure they didn’t need to call a locksmith since all the keys were inside. (Yikes!!) We got there to see an unlocked door and a SPOTLESS place. We wandered around flipping on lights, opening drawers and cabinets, and testing out the sinks to find the slow-draining culprit. And now it was OURS. We left and headed to the UHaul to pick up our truck – and barely got the 17’ truck we needed. It’s good we went early. We made it to Homemakers early to pick up our table and chairs, side table and night stand and then made it back to our apartment around 10:30. Let the move begin!!

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We had AWESOME helpers that made this the smoothest move I’ve ever had. Ninth move is the charm, amirite?? With one OVERFLOWING truck we headed over to Meadow Court to start unloading. Basically everything but the furniture went into the garage – and the rest of it went into the house. Like I said before – WHERE does all the STUFF come from?! We grabbed some pizza from Casey’s down the road – way too convenient to get my taco pizza fix – and then sent everyone home. We didn’t make it to the afternoon wedding as we were still loading up a bunch of stuff from the apartment – but some friendly helpers dropped by with some food from the reception for us to eat. We introduced one of our amazing movers to our new watering hole – the County Line Tap – and then came back to begin the unpacking and putting together of furniture process. My handyman got our kitchen table and chairs put together and I am completely IN LOVE with it. I knew we both liked it in the store but it turned out so much better than I could have ever thought. Now we’re just in the process of searching for rugs and décor. Because details. I also got the majority of our kitchen put together – which is a huge load off my shoulders – because now I can actually start cooking again! And I was also amazingly proud of my Tupperware cupboard… because you can never have too much. Hopefully it stays neat and organized for longer than a week!

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Saturday night we were in bed by probably 9:30-10 but we both woke up multiple times during the night. This is something we’ve been used to over the past 15 months – because people would be in the hot tub or pool at 3 am, or we’d hear ambulances flying by to get to the hospital down the street, or random YELLING at all times of the night from people getting home from the bars. But it was different – because it was so QUIET. I mean we can still hear the hum from the highway, but the sounds of the outskirts of town are much quieter than living just outside of downtown. So rather than the sound of hustle and bustle, we were woken up by the sound of silence. It was awesome.

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Sunday was spent cleaning the old apartment – SO GLAD to be out of that place and away from our terrible landlord – making lists for all the random stuff we needed to buy and do before we got too far into unpacking, and of course – unpacking. The bedroom is all put together (pictures to come once it’s actually been decorated), the bookshelves need to be loaded, our side table needs to be stocked with our barware, some of our clothes still need to be taken upstairs – but it’s actually starting to feel like HOME. And this morning it REALLY felt like home when some of my coffee sloshed over and spilled on the garage floor. Just marking my territory, if you will.

Toby is having some adjustment issues – as I assumed he would. Saturday he was just OVER IT and spent the majority of the night passed out on the couch. He’s got stairs to run up and down now which is different from basically every single place he’s ever lived. When I moved back in with my parents a few times in college and after, there were stairs for him there – but he spent a lot of time upstairs. He’s also been jumping on top of EVERYTHING – which is annoying and also hilarious.       Mostly because he’s getting his “ups” back – rather than just being a lazy turd all over the house. Yesterday we came home multiple times and he had been sleeping on top of the mantle behind the TV. Yeah no – that’s not going to work buddy. Silly kitten.

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This morning was my first commute from almost into the next county south – so I wasn’t sure how it would go. We live less than a mile from the bypass entrance so getting there would be no problem, I just wasn’t sure how it would be once I made it out to West Des Moines. I used to make this drive when I lived in West Des Moines and drove to the southside for work – now it’s just a little backwards. But this commute was BY FAR the best drive in to work that I’ve had in a long time. Normally I drive along 235 and people are driving like ass holes – and I even have the better of the two drives along 235 because I’d be driving FROM downtown TO the westside, as opposed to everyone else who was driving FROM the westside TO downtown. But people were always cutting me off, flying by, there were always accidents or cops pulling people over – it was just a major stressor each morning for me. But today – I was amazingly calm when I got into work. Everyone drove the same speed the whole way, people were cautious around other drivers, no one cut anyone off – and also I heard Baz Luhrmann’s “Wear Sunscreen” on my way in. I haven’t heard this song in literally YEARS – and hearing it this morning made me smile. It was like I had this new chapter of my life beginning – but it all started out with a song from my past. And it was glorious. I’m hoping this day goes by quickly so I can start putting together my home. I’d love to have boxes cleared out by the time my HOMEOWNER – not just roomie anymore – gets back from Cedar Rapids on Friday. I’m sure he’d enjoy that nice surprise. We’ll see how many boxes I can get through. Or maybe instead of doing any of this – I’ll just pour myself a glass (bottle) of wine, run myself a nice bath and watch Netflix the rest of the night. The options are simply endless.

Lists: DO ALL THE THINGS.

You guys know I love me a good list. And I’ve got lists for EVERYTHING. Books to read, recipes to try, blogs to look through – and my newest, and most time-consuming list – things to do before we move. Yes THAT list. It’s so amazingly overwhelming. You’d think I’d be used to it now considering this will be the 9th place I’ve lived since graduating from high school. I should be GOOD at moving by now. But I really just hate it SO MUCH.

Currently in my notebook that I carry with me everywhere, I’ve got three weeks-worth of weekly lists of things to do, I have a “wish list” of things to buy for our new place, a general moving list of what we have to do before we go, a weekend to-do list and a checklist with timeline for the actual moving DAY. And this is stressing me OUT. I counted last night – so far I’ve got 36 boxes packed. And I’m not done. LIKE HOW. After a mass Snapchat last night, I got the response “I feel like you’ve been moving for two months.” And I seriously don’t disagree. Moving is the worst. I started early so I wouldn’t feel rushed. And wouldn’t you know it – moving day is FASTLY approaching and here I am – not done, and feeling rushed. It probably didn’t help that last week I felt like GARBAGE with a spring cold – so zero things on zero of my lists got done. Blurg. Some stuff I obviously can’t pack yet – like clothes. I mean – I’ll probably need those between now and Saturday. I am SO CLOSE to getting my kitchen packed up (THE WORST) and my plan is to have that done tonight. Once I clean out the fridge – like deep clean the shelves and such, run the dishwasher one more time, wipe down inside the cabinets and dust down the top of the cabinets, THEN I’ll be done with the kitchen. But until then – it’s just in SHAMBLES.

I think Monday morning is when it really kicked in that we were moving THIS WEEK. I sent off the roommate to Chicago for work this week early Monday morning, and that night I had a mild anxiety attack. I had SO MUCH STUFF still in the cupboards in my kitchen, empty boxes all over the place, and we were having people at our place Saturday morning to move all this stuff. And you KNOW there’s nothing worse than showing up to help someone move and having their stuff not even be fully PACKED yet. I wouldn’t do that to my friends. That’s just the worst. So I took a nap Monday after work (it’s come down to THAT, you guys. For real.) and then packed up quite a bit of kitchen things. I ran the dishwasher and started some laundry. Then took a break for a couple episodes of Mad Men, sent my Don Draper lover on her way, and went to bed. Last night is when things REALLY got taken care of.

I felt surprisingly GOOD today when I woke up. I mean don’t get me wrong, I have SO MUCH left to do prior to Saturday, but knowing that your kitchen gadgets are all packed up is SUPER helpful. Why is the kitchen the WORST to pack? Like – where did all the STUFF come from. Do I have a Stuff Fairy floating around just putting THINGS all over my house for me to pack up? It’s outrageous. I don’t even want to think about the amount of stuff that we will acquire in this new place over the next few YEARS. That makes me anxious just thinking about it.

I’ve got sand volleyball tonight, and before and after those sandy shenanigans I’ve got a list DOWN TO THE MINUTE for things to do tonight. Get home from work. Put bathroom rugs in the washer. Run dishwasher. Vacuum rug and roll up. Put rugs in dryer. Put towels in washer. Put food from the fridge in bags to grab out on Saturday. Same with the freezer. DEEP CLEAN DISGUSTING FRIDGE. Put canned foods in boxes. Put towels in the dryer. Kick ass at volleyball. Come home and enjoy a shower beer. (Shower beers are coming back you guys.) Go. To. Bed.

Tomorrow I’m in a seminar all day for HR Law – tomorrow afternoon I’m planning on hitting up a yoga class before coming home to pack up some clothes. The roomie gets home around 9 tomorrow night, and he will either want to go straight to sleep, or be awake for the next 4 hours. There really is no in between. Friday morning CLOSING happens bright and early – Friday afternoon I head to Cedar Falls to watch my baby sister graduate with her Master’s Degree. We get back late Friday night, and then before I know it – MOVING DAY is here. And we will be out of our apartment and into our new amazing place. Gah it’s here. I can’t believe it. It’s finally here.

more love letters

You guys. I fell in love. Just this weekend. I mean I am already in love with someone – but this thing, these WORDS – I fell in love again.

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I’m talking about a book. About a month ago, I stumbled across something on Instagram and was immediately intrigued. It was a picture of the book If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher. I’ll admit – I am absolutely one of those people who judges books by their cover – and this one got me. It looked handwritten on notebook paper, with swirly cursive and an explanation of her journey. I searched Amazon and Google to see what this was about – and then followed my search to her website – More Love Letters.

Do you ever get that feeling that you found something you were meant to do? Something you NEED to do? Something that makes you happy the minute you begin? That’s what I felt about this. More Love Letters is a site dedicated to writing love letters to strangers. Not anything like you see on Craigslist’s “Missed Connections” (although there’s a bit of the book dedicated to that) but more along the lines of “I see your struggle – it gets better. You matter. You are beautiful.” I was immediately sucked in. I bought the book, watched Hannah’s TED talk, and went to Target and bought as much stationary as I could find that said anything but “thank you.” I wanted to be a part of this movement.

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And so I started writing. I wrote love letters to strangers. I’ve written and mailed letters to people I’ve never met – and will probably never meet – because this movement, this IDEA, spoke to my soul. I haven’t had many things in my life speak so loudly to me as this did. I’ve left letters in library books, in lockers at the yoga studio, and in booths at coffee shops. I left a couple at the airport in Denver yesterday because sometimes it’s nice to spread your love outside your home zip code.

I brought the book with me while I traveled this weekend and told myself I wouldn’t read it all in one sitting – because this book made me “feel all the feels.” But for those of you who devour books as quickly and often as I do, sometimes find it hard to slow down and not read it all at once. This was one of those books. I’d read a couple chapters when I first got it, and then put it down to begin writing. After I sat down with it over the weekend, I put it down only to eat dinner, take notes and wipe my tears. I told a few people that night that I have never fallen so hard or SO FAST for a book in a long time. I’m talking probably years. Sometimes a book finds you at just the right time in your life – and the words speak to you so LOUDLY that you can’t stop until it has ripped into your heart and made you cry tears that you didn’t know you needed to shed.

These tears were happy tears – EXCRUCIATINGLY happy tears. After reading everything that Hannah went through to get where she was, I knew this was something I wanted to continue to spread. This also made me want to smile so hard at everyone I knew – and everyone I had yet to meet. Smiling at someone while walking down the street or through the mall or into a yoga class can literally make someone’s day. How easy is that. And then finding a note addressed to you – whoever YOU are – can make people want to pay it forward with a smile. Or a letter. Or a hug.

“Do small things. On repeat. And think about others.” 

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I can’t even tell you how much I want to reread this book already. I want to meet Hannah – shake her hand, give her a hug, and thank her for opening my eyes to this. For making me realize just how simple a smile or a hug or a note can be to a person’s day or week or LIFE. Hannah knew she wanted to change the world – and while she sat at a coffee shop, writing a letter to someone she didn’t know to give them hope for a better tomorrow, she did.

Words are a funny thing. They can make you happy, sad, angry, upset, emotional, knowledgeable. Words can hurt people, make them stronger, make them laugh or even cry. Your words – your written words – can make someone realize that their life will get better. Maybe not today, or tomorrow. Maybe not even next week or month – but it WILL get better.

“I want to believe it all comes down to truth. And if you’ve ever loved someone in a way where it seems the oxygen is rushing out of the room when they walk in, then you know certain truths. Certain unchangeable truths about love: You want to give them everything in your world. And you want to give them everything outside of your orbit. And if they need the morning to come, you want to be that morning for them. And if they need the stars, you want to be those fragments of light too.And you just want to sit by them. And you just want to know they’re doing well. And you just want to witness their greatness, the moment they’re finally shining out. You want to be right there next to them for that. And you want that honor of being in their life.”

I want to write more… but I keep rambling about just how much I love this book. I never want to stop talking about this book and how happy it made me. I want to go home after work and start reading it again so I can feel all the feels and smile and cry and feel my heart grow ten times its’ size – Grinch style. And if you get the chance, please check out Hannah’s website so you can feel all the feels with me. And maybe send out a note to someone who needs a little extra love in their life. Even if you don’t know them.