Tag Archives: What I’m Into

What I’m into: June, 2017

I’ve been missing this space, friends! I have so many posts in my mental “drafts” folder, but most of my writing has been happening for other outlets and longer days of sunshine keep me away from my computer. But my conference flight got cancelled, so here we are! This should probably be like three different posts, but I am breaking blogging “rules” because, whatever.

Reading log

I’ve finished a few books since my last post, and have more on deck.

For book club, I listened to “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid which is a great book to experience in audio form. I had a free trial of scribd, a reading subscription service that gives access to 3 books and 1 audiobook each month for under $10. I typically use the library’s app to read digitally, but there are often wait lists for popular titles. This book is narrated by the author and clocked in at just under five hours. I totally listened while strolling through a greenhouse picking up flowers for our window boxes.

Exit West combines the compelling story of a migrant couple with s futurist plot and elements of magical realism. My favorite passage was about how we’re really all migrants through time. The book captures that feeling of discomfort at change and different-ness that seems to be roiling throughout the world and makes it personal.

Then I breezed through Maria Semple’s “Today Will Be Different” which is a comedy that packs some existential punches, too. It was 100% #whitepeopleproblems but I definitely caught glimpses of myself (yeah, maybe not the best version) in Eleanor, the protagonist.

I just finished “Commonwealth” by Ann Pachett, who is one of my favorite authors.  Reading her books is like knitting with a luxurious, expensive wool that makes you want to pull our your stitches just so you can feel it roll around in your fingers a little longer. Good thing I have not read the whole body of her work yet. I’m definitely going to pack something by her for our next vacation.

Travel log

I got to spend my 32nd birthday weekend in Chicago (32 in the 312!). I had a conference earlier in the week at the (gorgeous!) Loyola Lakefront campus and it felt strange to take the train into the city and then the L to campus like a commuting adult. Then, Joe came out and we got to spend a whole Saturday just the two of us in the city.

Joe and I started our touristy day with cold press Intelligentsia coffee and an architectural boat tour, which has been on my bucket list forever.  My dad was an architect and I’ve always geeked out on design. Our guide for the 90-minute river cruise was engaging and I learned about some of the buildings I’d never even noticed before.

I had wanted to check out the new Nutella cafe, but the line was ridiculous, so we had lunch in Millennium Park before popping into the American Writer’s Museum, which had opened a few weeks prior.

The museum well done but pretty small, so it felt pricey for just an hour or so of browsing. We got to see Karouac’s original “On the Road” draft scroll, and I enjoyed a poetry exhibit that had an immersive audiovisual element.

We had a few hours to kill before our dinner reservation, so we decided to wander around Old Town. (The boat tour and dinner at Geja’s Cafe, a Lincoln Park fondue restaurant, was me cashing in on a few year’s of my brother’s Christmas present generosity.)

The Old Town Art Fair was in full swing, so we popped in and drank sangrias and browsed the art booths, gardens and ogled the homes. It was such a beautiful day and a great vibe! I even found a print that I was able to secretly snag as a Father’s Day present for Joe. (The $10 admission also reminded me how lucky we are that the Des Moines Arts Festival – June 23-25 is free!)

Geja’s is tucked underground and dimly lit, with each booth like a romantic cavern surrounded by wine bottles. Fondue is such a fun date dinner because it’s like an activity in and of itself. We got cheese fondue with appetizers and then a huge platter to cook in oil with probably 10 dipping sauces, and then chocolate fondue for dessert, and split a bubbly Rose. The outing was extra sweet knowing my brother had planned it for me, and was entertaining Emmett at Legoland while we enjoyed day and evening out! Photography is frowned upon but I surreptitiously snapped this one of my lovah and flaming ‘mallows.

We stayed over at my brother’s condo that night and all watched the first ever Star Wars movie, an experience I think my brother wishes he had broadcast on Reddit because I am so unaware of anything to do with that whole franchise. He, on the other hand, has memorized a three-volume set of Star Wars information.

Health log 

After gorging myself on fondue and birthday cake, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf in the healthy living department.

I got my annual results back from my work wellness check and realized I can be as #bodypositive as I want, but I do actually need to make changes to be healthy.

So I have downloaded myfitnesspal app and have been getting friendly with the Yoga with Adriene youtube channel. I want to make some changes that are sustainable, but if I don’t see improvement by the end of summer, I’m going to try Farrell’s, I think!

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Spread the happy

Sharing a few things that have brightened the past few weeks for me.

Winning the jammie jackpot

First, let me tell you I rarely win things. So I almost convinced myself it was a fake-out when I got a message from the folks at Hanna Andersson letting me know I’d won a $500 (!) gift card through one of their #happyhannas #hannajams contests.

img_1188Granted, it was like two weeks into 2017, but pretty much the best thing that’s happened to me all year.

Since I hit the jammie jackpot, I feel like I should spread the happy!
Comment on this post with something that’s made you HAPPY in 2017 for a chance to win a pair of Hanna Andersson baby jams. They make an amazing shower gift if you don’t have a little of your own. That’s how I got hooked! I’ll pick a winner at random on Feb. 1.

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If you’ve ever snuggled a kid in these clothes, you know how super soft and durable they are. My mom spoils the kiddos with them when she finds a good sale, and I do not complain. Since the baby jams are footless, they allow a little more room for growth, which I love. I’m going to be a little selfish and get a grown-up outfit, too, with my gift card.

More bright spots:

Refreshing the downstairs bathroom

This is our primary bathroom (we have a 2/3 bath upstairs) because who doesn’t love a clawfoot tub? Joe added on the shower when we moved in, but otherwise it’s just been the same purple hodgepodge since we moved in. Here’s the grody paint-prep before photo:

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And after:
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Mostly just a gallon of paint (Hotel St. Francis Spirit Blue which is actually not the paint I intended to go with, but that’s what you get for rushing a trip to the hardware store with a kid in tow), a new IKEA vanity (really a buffet) and bringing in accessories from other areas of the house. I whipped up a little runner for the vanity using fabric from Bonnie Christine’s Succulence line that I bought when Stitch was closing last year.

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I’d like to make a few tweaks like adding more art and a mounted necklace hanger, but having a vanity area is a game-changer. The art is a Bozz Prints piece that looks like it’s currently unavailable. Despite the color being not what I intended originally, I’m happy with how it turned out!

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Pairing treadmill time and podcasts
I need to do this more like 3 times a week instead of once every week and a half, because heading to the Wellness Center at work for speed walking on an incline while listening to a podcast is pretty great. I’ve been listening to Fresh Air, but branched out and tried Call Your Girlfriend, where I picked up the cute term “doing life admin” as a description of spending time paying your bills, making appointments, etc.

Hanging at ladies’ book club

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Being part of a book club (now several years strong) is incredible. It took us an hour and forty-five minutes to before we finally sat down to start discussing the book last night, but that’s part of what makes it so special.

I’m not great at making friend dates and look forward to these pre-planned nights. Honestly, I did not love Swing Time even though I had high hopes. Our next book is Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran.

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What I’m into: October 2016

I feel like I’m living in some alternate universe where each minute goes by in the Earth equivalent of 27 seconds. Poof! Days are turning into weeks. I’ve had a running list for this post in my head for weeks, but never seem to find a window to put cursor to page. Alas, I will not lament my full life – or the fact that my baby will turn one this week!

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An October “What I’m Into” could probably just be left at October weekends — trips to Howell’s pumpkin patch and Center Grove Orchard, where fall is on steroids.

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We went to Howell’s with my mom, and then Center Grove with my childhood bestie Regina and her family who made the trek from Chicago for the weekend. Had to baptize her daughter to Iowa life with a dip in the corn pool!

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I hadn’t been there in about seven years and it’s totally ginormous. Instagram tells me half of Des Moines was there this weekend. We even ran into Joe’s sister and fam there randomly.

Saturday night, Regina and I picked corn out of our butts got glammed up to attend the Art Noir X party, where we got our portrait drawn. This is what 25 years of friendship (since first grade) looks like:

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We also took the crew to Fresh Mediterranean Express, a new Waukee restaurant that I tasted at a conference and loved in person. It’s in way-out suburbiawhere I rarely trek, but I dug the outdoor seating + counter service (clutch when dining with kiddos) + veggie-friendly & flavorful menu. The drive-through would be dangerous if I lived anywhere nearby.

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Sunday morning, we did a walk around the Sculpture Park and Malo brunch because churros + chocolate fountain & kids eat free.

I’m into this Root Pretty “Sunniest Blushing Bronze” powder makeup guru Ivy Boyd recommended for me when I realized my zillion-year old Clinique product is out of production. Double bonus – the products are natural and safe and based in Waverly, Iowa. OK – triple bonus that the product was also half of what it would have cost at a makeup counter. sunniest3_largeI’m a geeky lifelong learner type, so I am super pumped about the new fiction course being offered (free, online!) by the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Called How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women, it opens this week. Learn more.

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I also finally made it back to a YNPN discussion group and am in love with Purdue’s Strategic Doing model. I feel like I’ve been spinning wheels on community projects and hope to implement some of the ideas/get trained in this.

I’m looking forward to taking the day off for Eileen’s birthday (I think we’re going to go as a family to some sort of kiddo gymnastic place) and then participating in the Best Buddies Chef Challenge on Thursday night!

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What I’m into: The ‘I’ve Given Up’ edition

All in the same week, I bought a pair of Crocs and joined Weight Watchers. Then cried about it. The Crocs are the ballet flat kind and I intend to only wear them to walk the dog and garden, but still. I decided as I purchased them (so practical!) that I could probably never be cool again. Not that I was ever actually cool, but I had an illusion of at least being “with it.”

The Weight Watchers thing I’d been toying with for awhile, but it felt like a last resort. Portion control is not my strength and this “baby weight” which is really bagel weight isn’t melting off, especially since I’ve stopped nursing. I know the equation is to eat less/make better choices and move more, but I think my competitive spirit means I need some number goals. Also, I need to not have immobilizing full body poison ivy like I did for a few weeks last month. I will say that I was hangry the entire first week and was so good about “points” and then GAINED three pounds, which was totally insulting because I went to a wedding and held my friends’ bridesmaid bouquets so I wouldn’t eat all of the cheese…

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Anyhow, I’m doing the online version and now I have an app on my phone that scans barcodes on my snack choices and a fitbit coming in the mail, so we’ll see if I can get myself in gear.

We also have a van now, which might be the mom trifecta, except that the van is Joe’s primary vehicle. I’m not going to lie – it was kind of awesome for our drive down to Oklahoma City last weekend. We had enough room to bring Wilbur and stayed in a cute airbnb and got to check out the brewery my brother is building. Check out Twisted Spike if you’re in OKC later this fall, or after!

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Emmett and Eileen got to operate a forklift, and we got to hang with family we rarely see.

In less-lame things I’m into, I finally read “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi (it’s essentially a death memoir) and it was lovely. I’m drawn to books about medical professionals these days, working at a med school and all, and I always appreciate a book that makes me think and cry. I also just started ‘A Manual For Cleaning Women,’ a collection of short stories by Lydia Davis. It reminds me of Flannery O’Conner.

Eileen’s first birthday is in one month (what?!) and I’ve been looking for some manatee accessories for her, which obviously devolves into looking for manatee accessories for me. A few friends shared a post about these amazing shoes.

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Wish listed. And totally cooler than crocs, right?! Never mind.

 

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What I’m into: Say Cheese

Plotting: So. Excited. I just signed up to volunteer at the American Cheese Society Festival of Cheese, which is being held in Des Moines next month. All volunteers receive an official volunteer t-shirt and complimentary entry to the Festival of Cheese, which kind of sounds like my ticket to heaven.

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Reading: Our latest book club pick, Tuesday Nights in 1980, which is super good, but just got intense! (I started this post as a break from it for a minute.) It’s bouncing between connected characters and set in New York at the turn of 1980 (at least so far) and big into the art scene at the time.

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Sipping: Iced Mocha from Chocolaterie Stam. I’ve been trying to walk to my meetings that are in the Ingersoll area (both to walk the walkability talk and get some exercise), but today was so darn hot, I felt the need to reward myself post-lunch. When I stopped in, I was reminded of their sweet Friday night concert series on their dreamy side patio. I think the concerts all start at 7 p.m. – they had a flyer in the store with bands listed.

Scrolling: Through pictures from Emmett’s third birthday, which we celebrated with a trip to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago on Monday. Gotta get some mileage out of that astronaut Halloween costume!

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We were at my mom’s for a weekend bridal shower for a high school friend and family birthday party, and Joe realized the Adler and Museum of Science and Industry both offer reciprocal memberships with our Science Center of Iowa family pass.

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We figured a train ride into the city would be fun — and it was! We walked the easy three miles to the museum along the lake and past Buckingham Fountain and then took the 130 city bus straight back to Union Station after lunch.

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Pretty much the best day ever for a freshly minted three year old, and not too shabby for the adults and Eileen, either.

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Because Emmett’s third birthday also equals 1,095 days of parenting, a few bonus parenting links I’ve enjoyed lately:

Laughed out loud at this: An Open Letter to the Female Hat-Wearing Dog From “Go Dog, Go” via The Ugly Volvo, which is a hilarious blog I always forget to check.

Tips for Building a home your kids want to come home to. “Happy starts now.”

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What I’m Into: Shoes, tunes & wheels

My semi-regular collection of things I’ve been into lately:

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Blind Pilot, one of my favorite bands, has a new album coming out this summer! The first in five years, and NPR had a preview of one of the tracks. Joe and I danced to their “3 Rounds and a Sound” as our first wedding dance.

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I’m still trying to rebuild my shoe collection since my feet grew, and I scored a major deal ($30!) in the fabulous Von Maur back room on these crazy comfortable Rockport peep toe pumps. (They have adidas technology in them.) I wore them two days in a row at a conference at the University of Iowa and they stood up to a bunch of walking.

If you’re looking for a good short story, I got goosebumps reading Lauren Groff’s “The Midnight Zone” in a recent issue of the New Yorker. Full-text, with audio of the author reading, online. An excerpt:

The wind rose again and it had personality; it was in a sharpish, meanish mood. It rubbed itself against the little cabin and played at the corners and broke sticks off the trees and tossed them at the roof so they jigged down like creatures with strange and scrabbling claws. The wind rustled its endless body against the door.

The story has this haunting image illustrating it, and when I went to read it and told Joe the title, he said Emmett had asked him to read him “The Midnight Zone,” and I broke out into a cold sweat, because I couldn’t remember telling him the title of the story. I probably did, but I made Joe get out of bed and make sure Emmett was still there because I was so spooked. I did not like Groff’s bestseller, “Fates & Furies” when I read it for book club, but did really like this.

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We started yesterday with a few spins around the Heritage Carousel. Three bucks for a punch card worth seven kids rides is such a sweet little summer treat. I thought going to the park would wear the kids out and give me some good naps while Joe was busy with a work commitment. It. Did. Not.

Once the sweet beasts were finally in bed for the night, Joe and I watched some more of the Bloodline second season on Netflix. Kyle Chandler is such a babe-dad.

I also had a story in Saturday’s Des Moines Register about a couple of women I met at the Farmer’s Market a few weeks back. They started a women’s cycling line called Velorosa. Read it here.

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I’m thinking I should try out their Monday night ride sometime.

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Sweet samplers

I’m drawn to embroidered items, as much for their backstory as their beauty. I like to imagine the crafter with the fabric in her hands, adding embellishment by the flicker of a fire or television screen, lost in the meditative quality of the work. I pick up pieces at estate sales and we actually use them.

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I love that one of Eileen’s great (or great-great?) grandmas embroidered that napkin she now waves around in her banana cereal fist.

Embroidery seems to be having a moment now, and I’d like to get back to it and learn more intricate stitches.

I just ordered these pretty collar pins from Baobap Handmade as a girly/springy accent to my jean jacket. I love the concept of collar pins and had to refrain myself from also getting a space-themed pair, and succulent ones.

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Happy Cactus is a fun instagram follow. Her custom embroidery is great, but I really love these fern notecards with images from embroidered pieces on them.

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Alphabet embroidery is such a sweet baby shower idea. We have a blanket my aunt stitched hanging in the playroom, but this Miniature Rhino sampler is a slightly less ambitious option that could squeeze into the teeniest nursery:

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Her zodiac and constellation patterns are sweet, too.

I’ll always also love Posie, and this Daisychain crewelwork ABC sampler. My mother made it for me as a gift for my first baby shower. I’ll treasure it forever!

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It’s been a long time since I’ve attempted anything more involved than this simple home brewer cross-stitch I made for my brother for Christmas a few years back. It might be time to brush up on skills! This Creative Live e-course might also help me get those basic stitches down.

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