Tag Archives: books

Reading right now

What’s on your 2014 reading list? I’m currently laughing out loud at Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman. One of the front blurbs calls it “The British version of Tina Fey’s Bossypants,” which I can kind of see because it would probably sell a lot more copies than “sidesplitting feminist manifesto.” The book is also incredibly smart, I think, in its treatment of sexism and body image, etc.

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It’s full of British cultural references and foul language, and I keep chuckling to myself as I read it, which is making it an annoying bedtime book for Joe. He is wading through Herman Wouk’s War & Remembrance which I bought for him at a garage sale because we both loved The Caine Mutiny. His book is like a bazillion pages and not hilarious. Sorry, love.

After this, I should really get started on Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, which is my lady book club next pick.

Shorter interesting things:

There’s the New Yorker  profile of Pope Francis, which is currently available in full online. The profile paints Pope Francis as someone who’s evolved over time. I went to Catholic school for 13 years (which I like to joke is the right amount of time to cure someone of Catholicism), and there are a lot of redeeming qualities about Francis’ message and attitudes toward the papacy. Plus, the cover image made me smile in a major way when I pulled it out of the mailbox:

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I read this NPR story about a movement to build subdivisions around farms instead of golf courses. In love with this!

Did you know there’s a posthumous Maurice Sendak book?

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Liking lately

I bought a brick! Waaaay back, I wrote a story for Juice about a relatively unknown guy who moved to Des Moines with a crazy idea. The dude was Zachary Mannheimer and the idea was the Des Moines Social Club. Lots has happened since that first story, and although I’m not currently involved at the DMSC, I felt compelled to pitch in for their brick campaign.

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If you see one that says “Iowan by choice!” it’s totally mine. Also, I got in on the 2-for-1 Cyber Monday deal, so I’m putting Emmett’s name on another one. Total mom move. You can get a brick for $25, 50 or 100 here.

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One fun/challenging thing about working at a nonprofit is that you sometimes get to tackle projects that are out of your wheelhouse. I get to try to design things now and again for work. Although I typically end up asking Joe to help me get from the vision in my head to something decent on the computer, I am trying to be less reliant. Then this week, someone pointed me to, Creative Market: it’s a treasure trove of backgrounds, illustrations and fonts that designers can purchase and use. Things are about to get a lot prettier up in here!

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I don’t actually know Becky Murphy, the illustrator/author of the new little book I’d Rather be Short.”  But the internet tells me we’re connected to some of the same people. (She’s lived in Iowa and somehow is also friends with someone I know from Mizzou.) It’s a small world, folks.

IRBS-gifAs a shorty, I appreciate the subject matter. I’m also super impressed by how a challenge to herself to draw, started posting on her blog and the project took on a bigger life. (Here’s the back story.) Totally inspiring!

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Ladies, unite!

No offense to the guys, but sometimes a girl has to kick back with her ladyfriends. I had an awesome time last Friday getting together with my new book club. It took us an hour of chatting and munching on appetizers before we even sat down to discuss the book (“The Age of Miracles”). Once we did, the conversation swung between smart commentary and good laughs. Plus, there was pizza and homemade apple hand pies. Our next book is Elizabeth Gilbert’s “The Signature of All Things” in case you’d like to read along! (I wanted to read “My Notorious Life,” and hopefully I’ll have time over the holidays to dig into that next.)

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If I didn’t feel so guilty about always leaving Joe and Emmett to go to various meetings and whatnot, I would totally sign up for knitXmidwest. Hopefully there will be a next year! The awesome women behind Hill Vintage & Knits and the totally rad Jen Geigley of makeXdo are putting on this two-day knitting and crochet retreat.

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If I were to go, I might try to have someone walk me through making some ridiculous baby head gear. My friend Gina sent me a link to this Cabbage Patch Kids inspired hat and as a child of the late ’80s, I got a good laugh out of it.

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Emmett might need a baby beard beanie.

Last ladything: The TEDxDesMoines TEDxWomen event is on December 5! We’ve got some fun speakers lined up. I’ll leak two of them here:

Beth Howard, the pie ambassador who also lives in the American Gothic House, will give a talk. It sounds like she might also do a pie-prep demo, too!

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Drake Professor Renee Cramer will give a talk that addresses the celebrity baby bump in a way US Weekly never would. You can read her thoughtful convocation address from this fall here. There are some good thoughts about striving to impress and intentions that are meaningful for non-students, too.

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We haven’t made ticketing live or anything, but will soon! This is just a sneak peek because I like you all best. Hop over to “like” the TEDxDesMoines page to stay up to date on everything!

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Raindrops on roses

Listening to the Sound of Music soundtrack on our record player is my new favorite way to start Fridays home with the little man. I had to call on my mean mom steely reserve last night. Ever since his surgery, Emmett’s been waking up inconsolable at 3 a.m. and we’ve been letting him into our bed. I’ve come to realize he’s playing us, and after taking care of his needs I  tried to break us of the habit. He slept from 4-7 a.m. in his crib (although not without a fight) last night and a little “Edelweiss” was just the ticket this morning.

Every morning you greet me
Small and white clean and bright
You look happy to meet me.

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A few other favorite things this fall day:

Our magnolia tree is the arboreal star of our front yard, while the much bigger tree (doomed Ash?) is mostly blah. Joe managed to capture a shot of it during the rare fall window when it actually looks pretty. I’m loving it today, but dreading raking all those leaves in a few weeks. (P.S. Did you know there’s an arboretum in central Iowa? Now would be such a lovely time to visit.)

My freshman year college roommate and soul-sister, Alex, was featured in Powder magazine following the death of her dad, who owned an Alaskan heli-ski company. Alex has such a unique blend of being a free spirit and adventurer and a driven, details-oriented leader. She’s picked up the pieces of the operation and I could not be more proud of her.

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I promised Alex I’d visit her in Teton Valley before I had babies and I didn’t make true on that. But Joe and I have started dreaming about a summer road trip out there while E is still little enough to nap a lot! I seriously love that girl.

Speaking of college roommates, this is silly but when Amanda came to visit the other week, she helped me check off one of my “Before 30” goals by introducing me to an awesome makeup product, Modèle Sourcils Brow Groomer by Lancome. I’m weirdly obsessed with eyebrows and this goes on like mascara to create a finished look. It fits into my 5-minute makeup routine, and I picked up two of these things during the Goodwill sale the other week. It comes in several shades.

I’m halfway through Anne of Green Gables and am thrilled by how true to the book at least the first PBS movie was! I also finished “The Age of Miracles” this week in anticipation of tonight’s book club. It’s the most plausibly apocalyptic thing I’ve read, and it was kind of terrifying and broke my heart as a parent.

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It’s narrated by a middle school girl (and technically a YA book), and is about what happens when more minutes mysteriously start adding onto the days. I started the book on Oct. 6, which is when “the slowing” starts, so that creeped me out, too.

Readers, mark your calendars for a free evening with author Amy Tan on November 10 as the culmination of this year’s AVID series!

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Weekend balance

I do believe my ideal weekend sequence goes like this: A low-key Friday night pizza-and-a-movie to relax and unwind from the week, something fun for Saturday, and a recovery day Sunday in which you might not change out of your pajamas until nighttime and then only do so in order to get into a fresh pair of pajamas.

We enjoyed just that kind of an October weekend around these parts. And, bonus, Joe was off on Friday, too. Three day weekends are a luxury like real cream in your coffee or cashmere blended into your sweater, aren’t they? I’ve been needing that extra day.

Chilly, rainy weather caused us to abandon our (probably too ambitious) attempt at family camping in favor of putzing around the house. We put the tent up in the living room anyway, and kept it there most of the weekend, as we sometimes do.

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Joe made deep-dish and we watched the second Star Trek movie. I dozed off after about a half hour of it, then woke up in time for the ending, which was about as much of the movie as I needed.

Saturday night, Emmett went to hang with his cousins and Joe and I got glammed up for a roaring ’20s party. The Mister donned his bow tie and I  put on fake lashes and wore a new dress and bright red lipstick and hot-rollered my hair, and really did feel glamorous for the first time in monthsandmonthsandmonths. We had a fantastic time, and plan to post more about the party later!

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Sunday we enjoyed pumpkin pancakes and I got a little freelance work done and spruced up the blog (totally loving my new membership to the Roost Tribe, which is where the pretty patterns come from) and downloaded “The Age of Miracles,” which I’m supposed to be reading for the new ladies’ book club I’m part of.

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My mom and aunt come into town next weekend!

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Making room: Our bright, book-filled nursery

It’s hard to believe our former attic nook is now my favorite place to sit and read and watch birds and branches and the clouds roll by. I can’t wait to welcome our baby home.

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I will admit, though, to shedding a few tears in trading in this lovely life for two to grow into a family of three. I’m a person who appreciates quiet time to herself, and I know being needed by another little human is going to reshape those moments forever. A child becomes like a phantom limb; s/he’s an extension of yourself that always holds a piece of your mind.

As we set about making space, it was a literal and figurative task: To create a bright room where there was none, and fill it with books and hopes and a bird’s eye view. To prepare for this next adventure of parenthood by way of paint swatches and nails and carpet and curtains.

It’s hard to believe our dormer addition nursery started out like this:

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Our contractors took care of opening the roof to the sky and building out the structure, installing drywall and windows. We took on the electrical and hired out the carpet installation and did our own painting and decorating.

Want to peek inside? I’ve been so excited to share this space!

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We started out by painting a gender-neutral, bright green, crushing on some animal decals and building up a lovely collection of books to base the room around. It turned out we incorporated quite a few pops of red, too.

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The radiator cover was a custom DIY collaboration built by my brother and Joe. It covers our heating and cooling unit and the top is hinged so we can open it up when it’s in use. They worked their butts off on it, and I think it really finishes the room.

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I wasn’t sure where to start, but the whole inspiration for the room began with the safari animal wall decals that now peek out from different spots. I love their sweet personalities and Joe suggested we put most of them down low, so the baby can crawl to them.

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Animal decals by gingiber on Etsy.

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The Jenny Lind crib was a great deal on Overstock,and gifted to us by my grandpa. This is the first great-grandbaby in the family and I can’t wait to introduce those two! The print at the head of the bed is by Kate Daisy. I am obsessed with her designs!

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These dressers were a Craigslist coup we re-painted. We decided to try an ombre effect on the middle drawers, using leftover paint with the samples we’d tried when choosing one for the walls. We’re using the smaller one as a changing table and tucked it in the closet to save space. I stuck some of the advice tags from my baby shower along the top.

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The curtains are IKEA. I think they’re festive without being too circus-y, and they’re nice and thick and came super-long. The bookshelves are painted IKEA spice racks (Pinterest inspiration actually put to use!) Thank goodness for IKEA.

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My mom made the toy basket at a workshop in Wisconsin. She made it before I was even pregnant, which is kind of funny. Guess who’s excited to become a grandma?

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The rocker came from Craigslist, too, and a friend generously reupholstered it with fabric we had on hand from an earlier project we’d abandoned. I was skeptical about needing a rocker, but Joe insisted and it’s probably the most functionally awesome part of the room. We’ve both been reading in there a lot. The red campaign chest came with our house and fits breastfeeding supplies inside. Cara knit the blanket we’ve draped over the footstool for optimal coziness.

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The Eric Carle ABC poster is Target and the hanging quilt was made by Joe’s grandma. Nobody had told her the color scheme and theme of the nursery, but when we opened it we knew it needed to be in the spotlight!

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And the books! This baby will be well-read, and I love that.

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Joe’s sister, Ellen, threw a sweet book-themed baby shower on Mother’s Day, which quickly filled the shelves. My friends at Ephemera made the most beautiful invitations, and each came with a customizable book plate inside. Joe’s sister Molly crafted the cool elephant bookends.

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I think the most special part of the room is that almost every element inside was crafted or gifted with love from someone in our lives. I am in awe at the talents and generosity of our friends and family, and I hope that this baby soaks up the values and lessons all of the smart, sweet people he or she will be surrounded with. The plan is for this room to someday get shared with a sibling, too!

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Cures for crankypants

With less than a week to go before my due date, I’m going to admit I’m getting crankypants. I have, however, avoided wearing actual pants for months now. I got through pregnancy with one pair of maternity jeans, a pair of black dress pants and a hand-me-down pair of brown ones. I’m not really a pants person. Maternity leggings and tunics, though? Rock.

Every time I call my mom, I have to start the conversation “I’m not in labor, I’m just calling because…” I shouldn’t whine about third trimester aches and pains though, because it could be a lot worse and it’s a relief to still feel the baby moving around in there. Also, crankypants is better than downright CRAZY (dolphin-assisted birth, what?!), right?

Here are a few things making me less cranky:

Finishing a book.

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I finished “Gold,” by Chris Cleave last night. I loved his book “Little Bee,”and although I don’t think this was at that level, it was a pretty quick read with a good plot twist. It’s due back to the library on June 10, a whopping 6 days after my due date, which kind of freaked me out.

Booking flights to Portland!

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My Portland-based cousin is getting married in August and our extended family is flying out and staying in a bunch of Hood River vacation rental houses near each other. Joe and I took a trip to Portland in the summer of 2009 and I secretly thought he’d propose to me on our hike, but that came a couple of months later. If you go, we did 13 miles up to a lake and back on Eagle Creek and swam in Punchbowl Falls.) It’s definitely going to be different traveling and trading the backpack for an Ergobaby this time. The trip will also be right at the end of my maternity leave, which I’m sure will be a bittersweet time.

B-Bops & Beer.

Even though I couldn’t drink anything other than my BYO San Pellegrino at the YNPN Des Moines “Super Swag Social” happy hour we had tonight at 515 Brewing Co., it was super fun to see people come out for the event, which was planned by our social committee. My favorite was when this new Drake grad who is interested in working for a nonprofit wandered into the event and seemed so genuinely excited to find an opportunity to dip her toe into the whole networking thing. I’m meeting a bunch of energetic, genuine people through YNPN. Getting it off the ground has definitely been a highlight of spring.

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The guy in the drive-thru asked if I was hiding a basketball under my shirt, natch.

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