Tag Archives: What I’m Into

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…


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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!


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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Link love

A few things I’m looking at/listening to/geeking out over lately:

A friend-of-a-friend is living the dream as an adventure backpacker and writer. If you’re not feeling a sense of wanderlust already, Around the World with Justin will definitely inspire it!


Maternity leave has me actually tackling housekeeping duties like laundry, dishes, cooking, etc. so I’m trying to make them feel less mundane by listening to On Being episodes. I appreciated this episode, “What we Nurture,” which is a conversation about the extreme vulnerability of parenthood. Also, geeking overt this episode on the social compact of college campuses with their communities, because that’s the kind of scholarship/work I’m into professionally.

This story about a man being lost at sea for 14 months is crazy! Real-life Castaway stuff.

Speaking of cooking, I’ve taken to actually tearing out and making (or assigning Joe to cook!) recipes from Cooking Light. The Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja (we nixed the olives and cilantro) was a winner! Emmett was on a meat strike, which is particularly annoying, given his restrictive diet, but he declared “I like this beef!”


I’m on Season 4 of Parenthood, and that show is for music fans what Gilmore Girls is for bookworms. My friend Sara tipped me off that there is an epic Spotify playlist that includes all of the songs featured on the show.

I read about this Sugru product on Little Green Notebook and it seems like a fun holiday stocking stuffer for the dude in your life who has everything but is constantly tinkering and fixing things or DIY diva.


Of course, as a proud alumna, I’ve also been following coverage of the events related to the University of Missouri and campus racism. Although the hate speech and activities that led to the protests are extremely disappointing, I’m glad there are student leaders on campus who are elevating the issues to create a national conversation about diversity and inclusion in higher ed.

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Liking lately

A roundup of things I’m enjoying:

Mystery Show. I don’t have a long commute, and my car is so old (’97 Subaru Imprezza, what-what!) that is just plays CDs and so I rarely make time to listen to podcasts. But the other day I was working on a sewing project and so pulled up Mystery Show, which I’d heard about via “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” on IPR the day before.

mystery show

Starlee Kine has contributed on “This American Life,” so her voice was familiar to me. The “mysteries” the show solves are pretty ridiculous (it’s the opposite of anything Law & Order), and the best part of the show is Kine’s ability to get random people to talk to her — really open up. She’d be the best dinner party guest. My favorite episode so far has been about locating the original owner of a mysterious belt buckle.

Pretty felt garlands. Our baby-prep to-do list this time around has been super lame, consisting mostly of thinking about getting our ductwork and carpets cleaned (appointments that have yet to be scheduled) and sorting through crazy piles of hand-me-down baby clothes. Baby girl’s crib will start off in a nook in our room, so there isn’t a lot of nursery decorating/nesting happening. But I think a sweet garland will make the space a little more special for her, and I’ve been crushing on this shop via Instagram.


Pizza, pizza, pizza! We celebrated my friend Danny’s 30th b-day with a pizza crawl tonight, and I had a vision of making/wearing giant, obnoxious pizza earrings. A trip to Michael’s for FIMO clay and earring supplies and a little late-night crafting and I felt ready to rock the first two stops, to Gusto Pizza and Noah’s Ark. We even got a babysitter and I put on eyeliner. Serious partytime. (Fun fact: When I was a pre-teen, I had an earring company with my childhood best friend and it was awesome.) 

Have a great weekend!

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Liking lately

Joe was  out of town for five consecutive nights at the end of July to work RAGBRAI and I was anticipating some stressful solo toddler parenting. (The recent transition to daycare hasn’t been an easy one for our household.) But Emmett and I enjoyed quality mother/son time, with special trips like going to see “Living in the Age of Airplanes” at the Science Center IMAX. It was a big hit with the little guy.

When my husband isn’t home, two things are bound to happen:

1) I will probably eat the world’s laziest meals (hello, microwave quesadillas and cereal-for-dinner!)

2) I will finish a book.

Bookshelf: “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer


I have to say, The Interestings didn’t live up to the hype some of my favorite authors pumped in the jacket blurbs. I was thinking the whole time about how the characters weren’t that interesting, and kind of irritated by the main character, Jules, who reminded me of myself with her awkward sense of humor and personality flaw (jealousy).  But, still, I kept reading and the book held my attention. If you like books that follow characters through multiple decades, this one might be for you. It was a little bit like The Big Chill, without the soundtrack. Ringing endorsement?

I’ just started Marilyn Robinson’s newest work, Lila, which is up for the Man Booker Prize, but I’ll also have to get my hands on We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, our next book club pick.


This weekend, we were on pins & needles waiting for our new nephew to be born. My mom and aunt were in town, and just before we headed out to Bison Days at Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge, we got word that Philip Atlas finally made his appearance! Joe and I got to visit him in the hospital and my 30-weeks pregnant self is finding it hard to believe that we will be welcoming a tiny in a few short months.


We brought him an outfit from the brilliant new”Where the Wild Things Are” baby/little boy line out at Target. I think Emmett will have to get this hoodie as a present from his baby sister in October. Adorable!


Instead of going on a romantic date while my family was here, Joe and I used the time to finally unpack our anniversary present to ourselves: a king-sized mattress. We ordered a foam Tuft & Needle mattress a few weeks ago.


When we first moved into our home more than six years ago, we were barely able to squeeze a queen bed up our narrow staircase. But the foam kinds had great reviews, the price was definitely right, and the mattress comes delivered in a vacuum-sealed package we were able to get upstairs, no-problem. You don’t need a box-spring, just a platform bed to put it on.

I’ve also recently seen a few people rave about Casper mattresses, which are  comparable! Leesa mattresses also have a similar model. We did a few hours of epic bedding shopping and now I feel prepared for snuggles as a family of four.

Mattress installed, I took a long Sunday afternoon nap following a busy few days of back-to-school physicals our team of volunteer students and Clinicians put on for families in need. The event was a major milestone in the months leading to maternity leave. We served more than 100 kiddos! I’m super grateful to Sam Auen, the restaurateur (Krunkwich Ramen House & Tacopocalypse) who let us expand into the vacant space he is going to get ready for his next concept. Without it., we probably would have been too cramped to function. Have I mentioned lately how much I love this community?


That was a totally random catch-up post! I can’t believe August is here.


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