Liking lately

I’m in denial about this whole summer-being-over thing, although once I unpack my sweaters, I’m sure I’ll change my tune.

Here are a few things I’ve been into:

To eat: A few friends hosted “Meatfest” last weekend, a backyard barbecue with insanely good smoked meats and a smorgasbord of sides. Great weather, better people. I asked Joe to make this roasted potato salad with shaved fennel and salsa verde, a killer potluck-pleasing dish he’s mastered. It’s for real.

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To read: I felt compelled to go to the library the other night, and made it to the Forest Avenue branch just before it closed for the evening. I’d never been there before, and the selection isn’t huge (they seem to cater to the ESL population that lives in the area), but this Sticks banner between two big tree sculptures made me smile.

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I picked up “The String Diaries” and raced through it this week. I can’t rave about the prose itself, but it’s a fast-paced thriller that reminded me of Gone Girl in ways. It has elements of the magical, but it uses one of my favorite techniques of bouncing around time periods and intertwining plots.

To make: Truth – I basically showed Joe this project and he made it for me. I have a huge empty wall in my office that’s been aching for artwork these past six months, and when I saw this, I felt like it would be a cool installation piece. Just a big frame, chicken wire, staples, spray paint, spacers and paper strips.

{photo via Sugar & Cloth}

{photo via Sugar & Cloth}

The project is by Sugar & Cloth, but I first saw it linked from Going Home to Roost. I have yet to get the paper and cut strips for it, but I might treat it like a gratitude journal, curling up messages of thanks as a daily meditation. I’ll probably post something to Instagram once it’s up in my office.

 To conquer: Emmett and I ran out first 5K together last week. DMU did a Friday evening run from campus, down around the sculpture park and back. We definitely didn’t PR or anything, but it was my goal to at least jog the whole thing, and I followed through. The kid didn’t even break a sweat.

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Nicole and Everett also ran, and Mollie and her daughter, Kaydin. I’m really starting to feel like part of the DMU community. It’s crazy to believe next week marks six months in my role there.

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Filed under Books, Cooking, What I'm into

Now in print

I have a fun piece in the latest issue of DSM Magazine on the signature wall Maddy and David Maxwell created in their home! (Starts on Page 128 here.)

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Maddy is so much fun to interview. I was able to see the wall in person, and then because the Maxwells spend a good part of summer in Maine, the followup  interview had to happen while they were driving the back roads on the East Coast, with their dogs in the car. I was on speakerphone, and we just happened to be traveling back from Chicago, so I was feverishly taking notes at a rest stop. It was a pretty challenging scenario, but I loved hearing David and Maddy tell stories together. They were very When Harry Met Sally in their back-and-forth style.

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Not MY work, but a friend-of-a-friend had a piece in Parade and because our babies were born around the same time/we follow each other on Instagram, I’ve been following Violet’s health journey from the beginning. Whenever I would get stressed about Emmett’s eczema, I would think about all Virginia was going through and it helped put my self pity in perspective.

 

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Filed under Side projects

Into – In the kitchen

Joe recently stumbled upon “The Mind of a Chef” on Netflix, and we’re obsessed. Season 1 follows Chef David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurant group, on culinary adventures that touch on food science, culture and the craft of creating world-class cuisine.

281010_287943754655346_914595738_oAnthony Bourdain is the show’s executive producer and narrator, and great chefs from around the world make appearances. It’s super fun. There are silly animations, and the passion these chefs have to play and experiment jumps off the screen.

In our own kitchen, we’ve been on a zucchini kick, and have baked several loaves of this Eating Well chocolate zucchini bread. Which we eat while watching “Mind of a Chef,” of course.

What are you watching/eating these days?

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Filed under Cooking, What I'm into

Back to School

Summer flowers are browning around the edges, and the sound of the high school band practicing out on the field provides some pep for our morning walks.

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Back-to-school time is one of my favorite fleeting seasons. I have the urge to dress in corduroy. But instead, I’ll do what a grownup lady who has grad school in her rearview mirror will do, and go bag shopping. I ruined my old one with hard boiled eggs — don’t ask. CARRY_-_GREY_TRIANGLE_15_grande

My friend Katy recommended bookhou and it looks like my new autumn companion will be this lovely Grey Triangles tote. 

And, in the vein of lifelong learning, I’m taking a Skillshare class about nonfiction writing. It’s a series of pre-recorded videos and some discussions, resources and a mini assignment, “taught” by one of my favorite writers. More on that later.

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Filed under At home, Life lessons, What I'm into

Chaturanga, now

I don’t practice yoga regularly, but whenever I make time to pop into a class, I enjoy it. It takes me awhile to stop feeling self conscious about my limited abilities and wandering mind, but eventually, I feel more in tuned to my body’s movement and more mentally focused.   nzLEVIBTPxvZtBdrImlRLVfVB-McCjOC-nzrTt7LaBiZ=w1263-h946-no

So when my BFF from home, Regina, came to town, we tackled #12 from my 30-before-30 list and did Yoga in the Park at Gray’s Lake together. (I figured it would be a good counter balance to bringing her to the Iowa State Fair later that day for Bauder’s Peppermint Ice Cream Bars!)

Yoga in the Park is free and runs from 9-10 a.m. in a wide grassy area at the southeast corner of Gray’s. It’s a different instructor each time, and the week we attended it was Pauline Tan, from Spark Barre Pilates & Yoga. She has a great Australian accent and reading her bio, it looks like she moved to Iowa from Naperville, IL, which is where Regina lives. Crazy, huh?

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I would estimate there were a few hundred people from a wide variety of skill levels there.We biked down with mats in our backpacks, then popped over to the Farmer’s Market for some green smoothies before indulging at the Fair. If you’re looking for a relaxing way to kick off the weekend, I highly recommend it! Drew and Sandi who will be teaching classes in the coming weeks are great.

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Filed under I love Des Moines

CoMo a go-go

Now that our #freedomweekend in D.C. is a memory, I needed another mini trip to circle on my calendar and excitedly type in as my e-mail password. (Because, duh, passwords should be fun things you’re looking forward to!) Nothing major, just a little family-friendly getaway.

And then I saw that two of my favorite bands will be playing in Columbia, Missouri as part of their Roots N Blues N BBQ festival this fall. Needless to say – tickets purchased and Airbnb lodging secured! David Wax Museum and The Avett Brothers will both play Saturday shows.

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We made a lunchtime pitstop in Columbia for a few minutes on our way back from Saint Louis over Memorial Day. But it was only enough time to encourage Emmett to kiss the columns and for me to stroll a few blocks of downtown and lament that landmarks from my college days have met such a yuppie demise. I’m looking forward to getting the full (minus a football game) experience in September.

I hope the weather is golden and autumnal and that we are able to ride bikes from the city out to the sweet town of Rocheport and enjoy a picnic at the Les Bourgeois winery A-frame, overlooking the river. Then I hope our little man gets into the festival spirit and dances his diaper off shakes that little tush to the tunes past his bedtime.

It will also be perfect timing to check in on this lady and her arriving-any-day baby girl. How funny is Amanda’s cabbage patch crew of shower attendees?

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Let the Columbia countdown begin!

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Filed under music, Travel

As it happens

I was going to tell you about my day last Thursday, about how — after the funeral for Joe’s grandmother, I took the train from East Chicago into the city to take the bus back to Des Moines, and had a few hours alone.

How wonderful it was to walk past the Art Institute of Chicago, one of my most favorite places, and wander into the Lurie Garden and dip my feet into the shallow urban creek and read a few chapters of a book in solitude. The sound of jazz in the distance. The scent of midsummer blooms with names like ‘purple lance astilbe’ and ‘white dragon knotweed’ and ‘queen of the prairie’ transcending the Chicago’s smells. The view of the Lake and sailboats bright blue and white, just like the clouds. The skyline and street-level architecture familiar to me. The energy of the city streaming in through my smile. I drank it in.

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But really, sometimes it’s just relishing the aloneness. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of event-planning and logistics, and quiet time by myself allows me to recharge so I feel like I have the mental capacity to get. it. done. Also, I think we readers are never alone, and never get annoyed by waiting when we have our books.

(On the ride out, we listened to The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime on CD. Personally, I’ve finally discovered Joan Didion and am ob-sessed, although I sometimes have to read a sentence three times and I really have zero knowledge of the politics of Latin America. This week, I finally tore through Someone Could Get Hurt and did a lot of out-loud laugh-snorting.)

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Filed under Books, Life lessons, Travel, What I'm into