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What I’m into: New job edition

Well, that went fast. I’ve been in my new position for a full month, and am finally emerging into a better sense of how everything fits together. It is a bit dizzying transitioning from a small campus to big corporate environment, but I set out to learn and have a pretty great team to coach me.

I thought the new job might be a good time to freshen up my professional headshot and jumped at the chance to participate in the recent Ivory House Photography buy-one-give-one session benefiting the nonprofit Dress for Success.


Whitney is crazy talented and made me feel so at ease. Looking at these photos, you would never guess it was a time in my life when I was still trying to figure out how to use my new phone/Skype for Business and getting hopelessly lost in the headquarters. She makes everyone look like a boss. I feel like I need to write a book just so this photo could be on the jacket:


(While waiting for my shoot, I also had fun talking with her team member Lucy, who co-hosts a popular Wine & Crime podcastWine & Crime podcast, if you’re into that kind of thing!)

I’ve written before about my love of personality assessments like the Myers-Briggs (total ENFP in the house!) and recently learned about the Birkman Method, which gives you insights into your needs and usual behaviors, as well as your stress behaviors if your needs aren’t being met. We’re taking it and analyzing our scores as a team, which should be a really great tool for helping us gel and appreciate our differences.

I also love that Principal provides financial wellness advice to employees. I went to a lunch and learn that highlighted the 50-20-30 rule, which seems like a much less daunting strategy for spending and saving than some of the other budgeting tools I’ve seen. Getting a better handle on our family finances is one of my personal goals for my mid-30s, so I’m trying to take advantage of work perk type tools.

Lastly, a little bit of my writing elsewhere. I had a story about local artists in the March issue of “DSM” magazine (p. 115), and just contributed a little LIFT Iowa piece on why to keep a ‘kudos’ file at work. 


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What I’m Into: February ’18

I felt all of the feelings this past week, the final at my DMU job. It’s so crazy to me how, over the past four years, the campus just a few blocks south of my house went from a place I’d barely noticed when driving down Grand Avenue to a community that’s shaped more than a thousand of my days. Some of those days were frustrating and others super rewarding. I think I grew a lot professionally, and met so many wonderful people along the way.


It was a tough decision to leave, and when the emails of thanks and well-wishes and the drop-by goodbyes started, it felt bittersweet. I’m glad that I seem to have been a positive presence for many of our students. The path to becoming a physician or other healthcare provider is steep, and my goal was to be a support. The job is posted, if you know someone looking for a great gig!

I’m so excited for my next step at Principal Foundation and am wrapping up my transition weekend finishing The First 90 Days so I can more effectively jump into a new role. It’s a good read, and offers tactical advice helpful for assessing an organization, your own strengths/blind spots and overcoming the impostor syndrome I might also be feeling.



To celebrate the transition, My DMU coworkers and I went out to lunch at Alba on Friday, and we were practically the only people there. The lunch menu is on point, it’s very reasonable and I have no idea why I forget that it’s such a great spot except for once every two years, it seems!

I also popped into East Village Spa where I got their signature massage for the first time. It was such a great blend of hot stones and towels and yummy smelling products. My friend Cassie is the spa owner and I always run into someone awesome in the waiting area. I met Cassie when she was a solo LMT and now she employs 25 people in her business. I don’t get massages often but love to see that as she’s grown she’s kept the same vibe and values for her business.

Then I headed over to see if the thrift shop across the street had any good work wear, because I’m shopping resale as much as possible for clothing. I found some great Calvin Klein never-worn shoes for $5 and a few other basics. I’ve been loving Worn for stylish consignment pieces, too, and pop into the Junior League Bargain Basket on Ingersoll for their monthly pop-ups, too. Plus, Goodwill, which hosted an event for the last DSM unveiling. I had a piece in the magazine that month, and scored a Von Maur pearl necklace that was originally $175 (tag still on) for like $8.

Speaking of re-using clothes, I did Rent the Runway for the first time last weekend, for the Bravo gala. I got a last-minute invite to join my soon-to-be-new colleagues, and the ordering, delivery, quality and return process all worked out great for getting a lovely dress on a deadline. You can get $30 off your first order using my code!


I’ve also been doing some pleasure-reading and finished “The Interpreter of Maladies” (finally jumping on the Jhumpa Lahiri fan club) and Louise Erdrich’s new book “Future Home of the Living God” which was beautiful but another one of those mom-in-a-dystopian-situation books I’ve been torturing myself with the past few years.

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Kitchen refresh – Part 1

Something about being cooped up indoors all winter makes my painting elbow itch. Last year, we refreshed our downstairs bathroom and this December I painted giant swatches on our kitchen walls to keep me accountable.


I thought we would get everything done while I was home over the holiday, but in reality I think I slept in my bed like 3 of the 12 nights I was off work and that didn’t happen. Instead, we lived with swatches for a month and finally tackled it over MLK weekend while the kids were at home, before hosting a little political house party.

We chose Behr Fresh Olive for the walls because I wanted a more toned down green than the Shamrock Surprise (just imagining that’s what it was called!) that has been on the walls since we’ve moved in. My friend Katy has such a cool, relaxed and earthy style so I basically copied her.

Can I just say that climbing on counter tops is one of my favorite things? Hoisting myself up on top of the fridge to get to hard-to-reach spots was a weird thrill that made me feel like I was eight years old and breaking all of the rules.

Our goal is to swap out our Very Green laminate countertops this year for a white/gray quartz, but we haven’t raided the piggy bank for that yet. I was hoping the walls would cool my intense desire to rip the kitchen out, but now I just want counters more.

We added some new art, too! The folks at the Swedish brand Photowall approached me about a blog feature and I was drooling over their made-to-fit wall murals but that wouldn’t work on our mostly textured plaster walls. So we thought a custom canvas would be a cool option for a big blank space over the basement stairs.


You can choose from stock images or upload your own art, and I definitely was into personalizing. We did a big (about 4′ x 2.5′) wrapped canvas of an image Joe took when we were on our babymoon in Decorah, Iowa. We got up and watched the sun rise over the prairie at Heritage Valley, where INHF is preserving land and it was magical.Now we get to look at it every time we’re cooking!

The Photowall canvas ships super fast via DHL (like, we ordered it Sunday night and got it that Thursday afternoon), but there’s some assembly required. Joe and Eileen teamed up to put it together and he said it was even easier than IKEA furniture.


Good news, dear readers! YOU can get 20% off your order using the code BSITMWCampaign2018 at checkout through Feb, 2018. Go forth and re-decorate.

Phase 2? We mostly enter the house through the back door, so we’re thinking about trying to DIY a beadboard drop zone with some hooks over where we keep our trash and recycling. We’ll see if we get to that and the counters done when summer hits (plus swap out our hardware for something darker), so we can grill out while our kitchen is crazy and be ready for life with a Kindergartener this fall!

Disclosure: The team at Photowall provided me with the canvas. Views are my own! 

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Wyo inspo 

We took our first family vacation (road trip!) to Wyoming this week. Trip recap soon, but here are a few snaps of spots that inspired me. I’m exhausted/envigorated, if that makes sense? 

Gladiola flowers were everywhere! I think I will plant some in our parkway to remind me of this trip. 

Laramie – or “Laradise” – as the locals call it, had a fun mural project and I made Joe stop for more than a few wall photos. I love how murals are popping up more and more in Des Moines, too! 

Bonus of a road trip: Reading time! I finished “The Hate You Give” (a fictional take on #blacklivesmatter) and should polish off “Do Not Become Alarmed” by the time we pull into the driveway. Joe snagged “Lincoln in the Bardo” but I have dibs on next read.

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We marched together

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to juggle two kids at the Women’s March on Saturday (Joe had to work the bike expo), but we made it out! After all, if my children are a reason I want to stand up for democracy, I can’t make them my excuse not to show up.


We rode down and met up with friends, and it was encouraging to be among so much positive energy.

The highlight of the morning was when one of my friends asked Emmett “What are women’s rights?” And he responded – without prompting – “Human rights!”


I’ve been feeling wary since the election, emotionally exhausted looking out at the uphill climb out of policies, de-funding and secrecy that are counter to what I feel make this country great. I’m scared, and furious.

But am inspired by the activism and calls to responsible citizenship that I’ve seen and I know I am able to act from a place of privilege. There are so many who have had their sleeves rolled up for so long and I hope everyone who marched is able to stay organized. {Thanks to a friend who shared some good posts (vol. 1 & vol. 2) on intersectional feminism!}


Last Friday during the inauguration, I was at the YNPN Des Moines NON-CON, hearing presenters including Dr. Glennda Bivens present on topics of diversity, equality and inclusion, which felt like a good antidote to the rhetoric of the incoming president.

There are lots of sites out there with suggestions for “acts of resistance” beyond the march {my friend Norah pulled together a nice roundup} and I already have my legislators saves to speed dial. I don’t think anything will replace the need for deep and meaningful conversations.


Image via @xo_lp who has a sweet printable you can turn into postcards to send to your representatives

A few weeks ago, I went to act on calling out companies that are advertising on fake news sites. I was surprised and dismayed to see ads for a local company I’ve had great interactions with on Breitbart. But instead of blasting a tweet calling them out, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and sent a private message, which was quickly answered. Turns out it was part of a “remarketing” campaign and their company was just following my cookie trail to any site I visited. They weren’t intentionally marketing there, and were really nice about the interaction. People! Conversations!


The other piece is putting my money where my mouth is and trying to focus less on acquiring stuff and more on supporting meaningful causes and work. We have digital subscriptions to several news sites, are sustaining IPR members and subscribe to the New Yorker. I’ve made several first-time donations in honor of friends’ kind acts and response to discouraging policies.

Did you march? Looking to do more?

If you’ve never been to a “Day on the Hill” at the Iowa State Capitol, there are opportunities throughout session to support organizations and causes that are meaningful to you. DMU had our day today, and it was so much fun to see our students get excited about advocacy!

P.S. Fox Brewing is hosting Adulting 101: How to talk to your local legislators on March 5 and The Greater Des Moines Partnership is hosting an “Advocacy Essentials” workshop on Feb. 7 in the morning



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Cool things my friends are doing

I’ve taken a break from planning a gazillion events this fall, and it’s been pretty glorious. I’m channeling some of that energy into actually seeing my friends, and supporting initiatives other people have invested time and effort into. Celebrating some recent awesomeness out of people I know:

My friend Mike Draper (of RAYGUN fame) wrote a play!


I love that Mike is a person who’s constantly working on projects that amuse and challenge him. The play, No Coast, will be performed at Grand View. (Speaking of – I was there last night for the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Legislative Reception and am so impressed by their new student center and expanded community engagement.)

I got to hang out and have lunch with our friends the Forgraves in October when we were in Minneapolis and heard that Reid was going to have a major story in this month’s GQ magazine.


Reid is a Mizzou grad (a few years older than me) and was the storytelling expert when I was at the Register. The Concussion Diaries, a story of a Des Moines-area football player who got CTE after playing through High School, is totally compelling. Another reason (besides Ryan Gosling #feministswag) to pick up the January issue.

Annnd, this time last year I was hiding in a storage room at the State Historical Building with my breast pump, trying to also host a conference. It’s a glam life. I had nothing to do with NON-CON 2017, but I bought my ticket and am totally pumped to participate as a regular old attendee. Joe is going, too, and this is pretty much the closest we’ll get to a Friday night date these days.


If you work in the nonprofit sector and/or care about diversity, inclusion, equity and making our community stronger, this is the conference for you!

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What I’m Into: December, 2017

The past couple of weeks have been pretty relaxed at home, and it’s been great to chill and create. And snuggle a tiny manatee impersonator.


I can’t believe I’ll be off work for 10 whole days over Christmas – and I’m looking forward to more of the same.

Watching: The Crown

Joe and I haven’t had a show in a while, and we’ve been slowly working through The Crown, the Netflix original series about Queen Elizabeth’s young days as a monarch. It’s an interesting character study of a female leader, but also, I’m not going to lie – those costumes are what get me.

Reading: “We are Not Ourselves” by Mathew Thomas


A colleague passed this 600-pager about an Irish family spanning the 50s-90s along to me, and although it wasn’t exactly uplifting, it was well-written and absorbing. And the central character’s name is Eileen! I started it one night with a big bowl of dessert cereal and realized the simplest joy.

Trying: Calligraphy

I went to a DSM Girl Gang watercolor and calligraphy workshop last weekend, and although my finished greeting card was a bit of a fail (especially when held up next to my friend Maggie’s, who is basically a professional), I had a blast.


There is something so relaxing about repeatedly tipping writing tools and paintbrushes into pigment, and practicing a new skill. I stayed up way too late making name tags for gifts. That was a little more my speed, because I could practice a million times and then cut out the best one, versus having a big huge card in front of me that I was afraid to mess up.


Baking: Caramel-filled Snickerdoodles

Emmett turned his nose up at my homemade chocolate chip cookies the other week (!!!) saying he wanted cinnamon sugar cookies instead. Fine kid. More for me. So when I came across this recipe for a caramel-filled snickerdoodle, I thought it would be a fun one for us to work on. It was a big hit! We made the dough in advance and then he and his cousins got to roll the caramel into them. We ate them fresh from the oven while I read The Polar Express after dinner.

Plotting: A downstairs bathroom refresh 


I haven’t been on Pinterest in ages, but I’m itching for a winter project and finally painting our downstairs bathroom is on my list. (It’s still the same bright purple it was when we moved in!) We picked up an IKEA buffet to serve as a kind of vanity/more storage, and I’m going to put some deep blue test patches up to see what fits. The claw-foot tub and tile are black-and-white, so hopefully it all comes together.


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