Tag Archives: goals

2016 Goals for Brain and Body

It’s only the second week of the year, so I’m trying to set some goals that will keep me happy and healthy.

Body Goal: I’m not going to set a number, but I did decide to take a challenge. DMU (where I work) is involved in the ALA “Fight for Air” Climb on April 10, and I signed up to do stairs on 87 floors in four of Des Moines’ tallest buildings as part of the event. I just found out I’m moving offices to the fifth floor, so I’ll have lots of opportunity to train if I take the stairs!


Brain Goal: I saw this 2016 Reading Challenge image floating around on social media, and I thought the checklist might be a good goal for reading:


I’m obsessed right now with downloading books through the library on Overdrive (just because I can get them quickly and read hands-free while I feed a baby), and loving being part of a book club. I did finish Fates & Furies at the beginning of last week, although I’m not going to recommend it because – despite some lovely writing, the dialogue and characters irked me. It’s gotten other good reviews, though!


Lastly, I have another side project happening next Friday: NON-CON 2016. I’m excited/nervous and if you’re in Des Moines and interested in advocacy at all, it should be a cool event!


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30-before-30: Goals 21-30

The final installment of my “30 before 30” list:

21. Tour the Iowa Capitol. Does anyone know if the tours go up into the dome?

22. Visit a psychic. I don’t really believe in psychic powers like I don’t really believe in horoscopes, but I think it would be entertaining/fun-in-a-scary-way for someone to look into my future. My friend Liz recently did this, and so did my friends Danny and Katy, so I actually have referrals.

23. Order from the swim-up bar at Adventureland. I did order from a swim-up bar at the resort we stayed in in the Dominican Republic (it was called the manatee bar!), but I’ve never been to the waterpark part of Adventureland, and this 100-degree weather has me daydreaming.

24. Organize my basement craft corner. You guys. My craft storage area looks like a horror scene from an episode of Hoarders. Joe brightened it by putting up yellow pegboard for my birthday a couple of years ago, but it’s like some giant craft monster went into the basement and vomited fabric and buttons and paper and other various notions. I just know that someday a rich old lady with bequeath me her amazing Victorian home with its many rooms, and in one I will create a heavenly, self-cleaning space in which I can craft. (Like this?)

25. Go on a house tour in Des Moines. I geek out looking at homes, and sometimes go to real estate open houses for fun, even though we’re not in the market. I know Drake, Sherman Hill and Riverbend neighborhoods have annual home tours. (Our home was on the Drake neighborhood tour before our time!)

26. Take a Chicago Architectural Boat Tour. I can’t believe I haven’t ever done this. It’s a Chicago sightseer staple. I’m sure I’d enjoy it even more if I brought along Garrett’s Chicago Mix to munch during the ride.

Photo via architecture.org

Photo via architecture.org

27. Hit balls at a driving range. I’ve only ever mini golfed, and I don’t do that very well, but I think it would be fun to try. Maybe it’s the fact that I spent the day staffing our charity hole at a golf outing today.

28. Learn to drive stick. I mention sometimes how I bought a VW, and it’s stick shift, so Joe’s the only one to drive it. I’ve heard that the State Fairgrounds are one of the best places in Des Moines to do driving lessons. There are some hills, but not the through traffic you’d get other places.

29. Learn a recipe for something complicated by heart. Even as I improve in the kitchen, I lean heavily on my cookbooks. It would be nice to have a go-to dinner beyond tacos or meatballs that I could whip up without looking at the step-by-step directions.

30. Ride at least one day of RAGBRAI, the Register’s Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. This past July would have been my ideal route, but it wasn’t feasible with no training and a two-week old. (Joe went for a few days though, and of course I have a half-finished blog post about that from earlier this month.)

See 1-5 here, 6-10 here, 11-20 here.


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My 30 before 30 list, 11-20

My 30 before 30 goals 1-5 here and 6-10 here.


11. Bake a multi-layer cake from scratch. Thanks to All Cakes Considered and my KitchenAid mixer, I dipped my toe into baking from scratch a few years ago. I’m not going to go all rainbow cake crazy, but maybe my next b-day cake will be a double layer creation, with some fruit filling in the center. Joe wants this pineapple upside down carrot cake again for his 30th in October.

12. Do Yoga in the Park at Gray’s Lake. Canoeing and jogging there are great, but I’ve never joined the huge crowd that shows up for downward dog. Schedule here.

13. Learn how to get a hula hoop twirling from my arm to my waist. You know the ladies with the hypnotic, fluid hooping moves you see at music fests? I can keep a hoop going while walking, but that’s about it. (Thanks for the inspiration, Ash!)

14. Float down the river in a stock tank. What can I say? The suburban Chicagoite in me is weirded out and delighted by the concept of floating a river in the kind of tank livestock drink out of. Joe’s from the Iowa-Nebraska border, and this is more of a Nebraska thing.

Image via outdoornebraska.ne.gov

Image via outdoornebraska.ne.gov

15. Have my own stamp fabricated. There’s a place in town my friends at Ephemera have these done, and I’ve always wanted to make one. Maybe a little hand-drawn baby manatee reading a book and wearing glasses? You can’t buy that.

16. Take a spontaneous road trip to somewhere more than 2 hours away. Traveling with a kid takes a lot more planning, but I can tell we’re already becoming more adept at pulling together what we need to leave the house. I’d like to think that we could pull off a random adventure sometime. It will help that I’ve switched to working just four days a week and have Fridays off. (Semi-related, my amazing friend Amy took her toddler daughter backpacking and survived!)

17. Make cheese in the kitchen and have a few friends over for a wine & cheese tasting. Homemade ricotta? A few selections from The Cheese Shop. Maybe with some spent grain bread Joe makes? We’d be so fancy and modern homesteader-y!

18. Plant sunflowers. There’s a totally overgrown, weedy back corner in our garden and after passing several homes with thriving giant sunflower patches on walks, I think they’d be the perfect thing to grow back there.

19. Have a buy nothing new month. (Except groceries, of course.) I took a pay cut to stay home on Fridays, so this is probably financially advisable. It should probably involve taking stock of the things I already own, and paring down.

20. Take an online, non-academic class. Craftsy has lots of sewing classes and Skillshare might help me learn how to make my blog prettier, or get better at using my SLR camera.

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My 30 before 30 list: 6-10

Everyone needs a bucket list. I need deadlines! 22 months until 30.

Goals 1-5 posted here.

6. Read the Anne of Green Gables books. Huge confession: Although Anne Shirley has been a personal heroine of mine since I was little, I’ve never read the original books by L.M. Montgomery – just seen the PBS movies starring Megan Follows. I know, I am a fraud. Maybe after I finish them I can plan a celebratory trip to Prince Edward Island?

7. Visit the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah. This is a spot on my Iowa Bucket List. Can you see why?

photo via the Seed Savers Facebook Page

photo via the Seed Savers Facebook Page

Forbes also recently ranked Decorah one of the prettiest towns in the country.

8. Take Emmett on a Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad ride. I think he’d appreciate the “pumpkin express” next fall. I have so much fun taking him to experience “firsts,” but he pretty much sleeps through all of the excitement at this point.

9. Shoot the hot dog gun at an Iowa Cubs game. My friend Erin did this for her birthday this year. Majorly jealous!

10. Take a dance class with Joe. We tried to waltz at my cousin’s wedding earlier this month, and it was kind of a disaster. At my K-8 Catholic school, we were all required to take dance lessons in Jr. High. It was a sweaty palmed nightmare at the time, but it meant my brother and I know the same swing routine, which we busted out at my wedding. Joe and I drove past this place the other day, and it got me thinking.



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My 30 before 30 list: 1-5

Just 22 short months before I hit the landmark age of 30, and I’m brainstorming a few things I’d love to try or accomplish in that time. I’m a big believer that the moment I write something down, it transforms from an abstract ‘maybe someday’ to an actually attainable goal.

Here are the first five items on my list, in no particular order:

1. See manatees in the wild. Pretty much anyone who knows me beyond a handshake is clued into the fact that I’m obsessed with manatees and have been for 20 years. (This may explain why I’ve been lovingly gifted everything from a manatee spoon-holder and tea strainer to manatee boxer shorts!) I saw live manatees at Sea World as a kid, but I’d love to visit their home turf at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. I know touching/harassing manatees is a huge no-no, but it would be amazing to canoe or kayak among them. I’m also not-so-secretly terrified of sharks and open water.

Scan 2

2. Complete a sprint triathlon. I can run and bike, but I’m not a strong swimmer. At Girl Scout camp one year, I was the only one who didn’t qualify for the deepest section of the lake. I also tend to swim in a diagonal when I do backstroke. Awkward! My friend Cassie started small in her quest for triathlon training, and if I dedicate next summer to challenging myself in the pool, perhaps a year from now I’d be ready?

3. Finish the quilt I started for my mom’s 60th last fall. Both my mother and I are captains of unfinished projects. But she finally finished the Daisy Chain Sampler she was working on for me, so I think I need to follow through and finally put all of the fabric I invested in to use.

4. Learn how to shape and fill in my eyebrows. I have a weird fascination with women’s eyebrows. When properly maintained, they tend to make a face look “finished” and polish off a makeup look. Maybe I’ll try enlisting help from Ivy? I had it done once for me when I got professional makeup applied to model for Salon W and think it made a huge difference. Shameless computer camera selfie from that night:

Photo on 2011-11-18 at 21.57 #3

5. Complete and submit a short piece of fiction for publication. I still do a fair share of freelance magazine and newspaper projects, but I’ve let my fiction writing muscle atrophy. I’d love to spend time on something, then submit it to a publication like Des Moines-based Spoilage, or next year’s Juice Fiction Contest, if they continue that.


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Mega spring/summer salad

Nothing puts spring in my step quite like knowing there’s something tasty waiting for me at the end of my workout.

Joe and I are training for the Drake Relays Half Marathon in order to get swimsuit ready for our trip to the Dominican Republic this May. It’s sort of working, because we’re doing a pretty good job of motivating each other to lace up the shoes and get in our miles and my clothes feel looser. The pizza from El Chisme we split after a Friday evening 10-miler and this amazing BLT-inspired gargantuan post-run salad, however, might not be hastening the slimming process.

Super yummy BLT inspired salad!

But it was SO GOOD. I played sous chef, chopping and washing the greens. Spinach and thinly sliced cabbage (left over from some delicious roast cabbage wedges we did for St. Patrick’s Day) were the base, and then we piled on chunks of watermelon, avocado, some little tomatoes, grilled green onion and asparagus and, of course, bacon. The dressing was a mix of Ranch and Greek yogurt, and the whole wheat pitas were toasted and sliced on the side.

I think we’ll continue to make some variation of this salad all summer long, with more seasonal ingredients. (Raise your hand if you can’t wait for roast sweet corn to make its triumphant return!) I could see adding some Feta, too.

As far as the training goes, we’re actually using a real plan this time. It’s one Joe found on his friend’s “Bad Angels Rules for Running” blog. I’ve felt pretty good on our long runs, but surprisingly it’s the mid-length runs that are hardest for me. I even wrote in to Coach Jenny to see if my bad form is going to destroy me now that I’m about to enter my late 20s. (And she answered!)

Are you a runner? What are your favorite post-run meals? When I was in Cross Country in high school, my best friend and I used to joke that any calories we consumed within 30 minutes of practice “didn’t count.” Ten years later, I’m still holding onto that myth!

Oh! And we’re starting seedlings for the first time, using the cool plant stand Joe spray painted and gave me as a gift. I love watching them sprout!

Sure hope we're doing this seedling thing right! This area gets lots of sun in the afternoon. We can never keep our window boxes alive.

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Post-it Power

I’m the kind of person who needs to get her thoughts down on paper as fast as possible. Otherwise, they tend to float out of my skull like tiny balloons.

My work spaces are always littered with scraps of paper. Items scribbled onto Post-it notes are like tiny task hills that make up a bigger work routine. I love conquering them and then peeling them off the desk. I also have a “wall of random ideas” that gets populated every so often with post-its when I come up with something bigger that could work later.

Maybe you’ve seen this doing the Pinterest rounds, but I like this rotating goal list idea from Cornflower Blue Studio.

I could also see making one for workouts, especially since this morning was Day 1 of half marathon training for me and Joe. After all of my indulging this weekend, the three mile run was much-needed, but it’s going to take awhile to get used to pre-dawn exercising.

I scrolled through the Cornflower Blue Studio blog and was tickled by all of the coral reef-inspired crochet. It reminds me of a TED talk I posted awhile back linking crochet with coral through hyperbolic geometry. (It’s mind-blowing.)

Back on the post-it track, though, last week we had an awesome staff meeting where the five of us wrote down all of our duties on little post-its, which we arranged into different sections of the organization (Foundation, school, board, community partners, misc.) so we could visualize where everyone is concentrated. We each used our own color so it was easy to see who did what.

It definitely wasn’t about competing to see who had the most Post-its, but it helped us see where our efforts are focused and where we might be overlapping or able to help each other out. We have a very small staff and with me new to the team and one team member recently having transitioned roles, I think it was a neat exercise. We also used those giant post-its to write down the things that excite us about the organization, the things that keep us up at night worrying, crazy long-term ideas and what services our constituents need in order to succeed. I left feeling mentally organized and energized.

Lastly, who could write a post about post-its without linking to this classic scene?

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