Thursday, June 28, 2012

So long, Ann

This morning was Ann Curry's last day as a co-host for The Today Show.  I feel badly for her.  I watched her sad farewell speach...with a couple tears in my eyes (may have been from the extreme emotional high of my mom in surgery...not sure).  Anyway, here's her last few words.  I look forward to seeing her on the special assignments she'll have in the future.  I love her compassionate spirit and hope I can one day be as good of a listener as she is.

Below are some photos I took of Ann when Josh and I were in NYC last fall.  We went to a taping of The Today Show on September 9, 2011, where we saw Ann.  She was wonderful.


Surgery Update

The Mom's surgery went well.  We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 this morning.  By 7, she went into surgery.  By 11, they were done and she was in recovery.  By 1 this afternoon, she was in her hospital room.  Seeing mom in pain is never a good thing for me.  I have a super low tolerance for pain, and seeing mom in pain made me lightheaded.  It probably didn't help that I had a work meeting at 11:30 downtown and had to haul back to West Des Moines where the hospital is so I didn't miss anything.  In my rush, I forgot to eat lunch.  I don't skip meals.  I get hangry when I don't eat.  But, when mom is in pain or in the hospital, it doesn't really matter how I feel.  All I care about is how she is.  She's resting now in the recliner in her room.  Whenever she moves, I worry something is going to come undone and her intestines will come shooting out the three-inch cut in her throat where they opened her up for surgery.  I'm a weenie.  I get scared when my mom is in pain.  I also get lightheaded when Sophie gets shots at the vet.  This is probably why it's a good thing I don't work as a health professional.
The view from the patio at the hospital.
Mom resting in her recliner.

Summer Reads

When I finished graduate school two years ago, I was sure I'd have oodles of free time to read.  So far...I haven't really done much.  However, I have a stack of books at home that I'm going to read before I buy any new books.  I have an addiction.  If only I was a speed reader.  So, below are some of the books (and magazines) I plan to read (in addition to Pride and Prejudice, which is on my 30 before 30 list).

1. The Art of Racing In The Rain (makes me think Sophie will come back as a human) 
2. 50 Shades of Grey (guilty pleasure)
3. 50 Shades Darker (another guilty pleasure)
4. Imagine (a book that makes me think of all the great reads from grad school) 
5. Skinny Bitch (for healthy eating)

I should make a note, that these are the only books I can recall at the moment that are sitting on my nightstand.  I know I have two stacks...and this is about 40% representable of them.

Then, I'd also like to commit to actually reading the magazines I get in the mail.  I'm really going to make an effort to stay on top of these and read each issue I receive this summer.

3. Fitness

Also, yesterday I updated my magazine subscriptions.  I'm looking forward to checking out my new monthly issues of Midwest Living and Eating Well.  Maybe this will help me discover more to love in the Midwest and broaden my gluten-free menus.

Speaking of the Midwest, I found this shirt on a trip to see Heather in St. Louis, and I can't stop thinking about it.  Maybe she'll bring one up for me on her next trip to Des Moines (subtle hint, I know...I would probably feel comfortable in a size case you're reading this).

Fab Finds: Lip Balm

Yesterday, I stopped at Target to purchase lip balm.  My lips had been in dire need of some moisture for a while (Florida was rough on them), and I needed to replace my Burt's Bees lip balm.  Like most people, I went into Target for one item, and came out with more.  Whatever.  I got suckered in.  What's new.  I found my normal, beeswax lip balm (with vitamin E & peppermint), but then I spotted a beautiful pink lid on another lip balm and couldn't resist.  Admittedly, I thought the pink meant the lip balm was tinted, but I was wrong (which is fine, because when I wear tinted lip balm or lipgloss or lipstick, I hate it).  Anyway, the pink lid lip balm was for the new, refreshing option with pink grapefruit!  How exciting!  It feels like heaven on my lips - so soft and the light pink grapefruit flavor is truly...refreshing.  How creative their developers and marketing folks are! This was the best $6 I've spent this week!

Kappa Convention 2012: A Review (Part 1)

From Wednesday to Sunday last week, I was at Kappa Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, with about 1,000 other Kappas.  It was amazing.  I loved the feeling of unity and a being a part of a large, smart, powerful organization.  I caught up with some friends I met at Leadership Academy four years ago, met new friends, and bonded with old friends.  Overall, I had a spectacular experience.  I'll post my nice photos from my camera later (when I'm not at the hospital), but here are some I took on my phone.

Surgery Day

Today is my mom's back surgery day.  She's having C5 and C6 worked on...something about cervical fusion...cervical disks...I'm so confused.  I woke up at 4:30 this morning, and that's the extent of the information I retained from the surgeon, nurses, and anesthesiologist.  Basically, she's had lots of back pain in the past six months, weakness in her left arm (as in she has almost no strength to lift or grip things), and oodles of headaches. 

A couple months back, she had a myelography, which is essentially where they insert ionizing radiation in her spine, and see what happens.  The myelography procedure produces a myelogram, x-ray images that identify where there is an injury.  Mom had a terrible reaction to the procedure, and ended up vomiting for more than 12 hours before Josh and I drove her to the ER.  She was admitted to the hospital and stayed there for two days in an effort to reduce the vomiting and control her headaches.  Watching her in pain and not being able to do anything was torture.  I'm sure this would be the same feeling she would have if something happened to me. 

Anyway, today is the day when we hopefully get rid of all her pain.  Obviously, the surgery will leave some pain in the next couple of days, but she'll feel better soon...and that's all I care about.  About 57 minutes ago, she was wheeled away to surgery.  By 11 AM, she should be out of surgery and in recovery until about 5:30 tomorrow morning.  If you have a second, say a little prayer for her.  I need her around for a long time, so hopefully this surgery helps her feel better for that long time.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Indiana Family

Back when we visited Indiana (the first time, not when we went back to buy Josh's car), we met up with my dad's cousin, David, and his family.  I love David and his wife, Jenny, and their four kids - Ben, Grace, Josh, and Ellie - are pretty adorable.  Below is a picture Jenny took of me and Josh after we ate at Cracker Barrel, and then another of the group (minus Jenny).

Most people grow up spending lots of time with their family.  I didn't.  The first time I met David and Jenny was at their wedding when I was 14 years ago.  I've admired and loved them from that very first impression, and cherish moments spent together.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Smarty Pants

This past semester was my first semester advising at Kappa.  I've been president of the Des Moines Alumnae Association, but after doing that for two years, I was ready for a change.  I was happy to help when I heard the Iowa State chapter needed a couple of advisers.  In college, I was the social chair and then corresponding secretary for Kappa.  Additionally, I was the VP of Risk Management for CPC (Collegiate Panhellenic Council) for Iowa State.  I learned more than I could have imagined when I was in these leadership roles.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to learn and experience all I did, so when I had the opportunity to help out on the collegiate level, I couldn't wait to dive in and help.

The two advising positions available were social chair and scholarship.  Since I love school, I chose scholarship.  The girl I've been advising is amazing.  She's a sophomore, and taking on the VP-AE (vice president of academic excellence) role, is quite an undertaking.  However, Annie was up for the challenge, and eager to make her mark.  We taught each other quite a lot this semester, and one thing I'm happy to report is an increase in grades.  The overall chapter GPA increased by 0.12 to 3.21.  They're now ranked fifth overall for all the Iowa State sororities.  I'm so proud of Annie.  Her dedication to the improvement of the chapter is impressive and I look forward to working with her for fall semester.

Spring 2012 Semester Grades

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Indiana Roadtrip

After what seemed like the longest week I've had in a while, Josh and I headed out to Indiana after work yesterday.  To catch you up, when we were on our way back from New York a couple of weeks ago, Josh test drove a car in Indiana and really liked it.  So, that's where we were headed after work last night.  We drove about five hours, and then stayed at a Holiday Inn in Joliet, Illinois.  The hotel was at least 20 years old...and it smelled like the boxes my grandma used to send me when I was little (stale smoke).  It's funny how certain smells and memories stick with you.

Anyway, this morning Josh and I drove out to Middlebury, Indiana, and picked up his car.  Then, we turned right around and drove home.  We stopped once for gas, once at Subway for Josh, and one final stop at the Williamsburg Outlet Mall.  Other than that, we were on the road all day.

Josh's car - a 2007 Mazda Speed 6

I did the math.  In 24 hours, we drove more than 900 miles, drove through 3 states, stayed at 1 crappy hotel, and finally made it home with Josh's car.  It only took two cross-country trips to get his car...  So, after spending the last 24 hours getting Josh his car, I'm crossing one off my 30 before 30 list:  Spend a day helping someone else.  So, here is my updated list.

30 before 30

  1. Pay off a student loan
  2. Learn how to do my eye makeup
  3. Go to Alaska
  4. Catch a fish
  5. Go skiing
  6. Make a quilt
  7. Sip wine in Sonoma
  8. Visit all five Great Lakes {In May 2012, I visited four of the five Great Lakes.  I hope to get Superior in this fall, perhaps on a 50th birthday trip with my mom?!}
  9. Sail on a sailboat
  10. Learn how to play chess
  11. Read Pride & Prejudice
  12. Go to a zoo {I'm hoping to go to the St. Louis or Omaha zoo with Heather and Baby T.}
  13. Run a 5K {I'm signed up to run the Color Run in October with Kari, Gena and Luke!}
  14. Run a 10K
  15. Eat lobster in Maine {I may have a photo shoot there this summer...}
  16. Build a sandcastle {Hopefully this happens when Emily and I go to Michigan this summer.}
  17. Drive down the California coast
  18. Try paddle boarding
  19. Build a snowman
  20. Donate 10" of hair to Locks of Love {I'm growing it out now!}
  21. Venture to the bottom of the Grand Canyon {Michaun and I hope to go in September when we visit Las Vegas for my sister's wedding.}
  22. Learn how to square dance
  23. Grow a garden {Done in May 2012!  Already enjoying the fruits of my labor!}
  24. Wear my size 27 J.Crew jeans
  25. Visit Yellowstone National Park
  26. Go ziplining
  27. Be in more than one place at once {Done in May 2012 standing on the International Boundary Line dividing the US and Canada.}
  28. Ride a day of RAGBRAI
  29. Enter a contest at the Iowa State Fair
  30. Spend a day helping someone else {Done today!}

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wedding Season

I mentioned a while back my friend Cassie's wedding is this summer.  Today, I picked up my bridesmaid dress, and now the excitement is starting to build.  It's really coming up soon!  June 24 is Cassie's bridal shower.  Since I will be at the Kappa Convention in Jacksonville, I can't attend.  However, I was able to contribute to her special by designing her bridal shower invitations.  I'm really happy with how they turned out!
I filled in a time by hand on each invitation - I don't have that drawn out on the document.  You can use your imagination.  Thanks to, they arrived within a week.  And came through with pretty dark purple envelopes. 

I also finished save the date magnets for a couple from Josh's hometown.  They're getting married in October, and it'll be very fun to celebrate with them (they've dated for close to a decade).  I also used for these.  Next week, I'll work with Tiff on their invitations.  We've worked on them already, but we're not 100% sure on the final design.  Hopefully that'll work itself out when we meet.

Also, tomorrow Josh and I will be going to Indiana to purchase his car (fingers crossed!).  With one roadtrip under our belts in the journey to find Josh the perfect car, I'm really hoping things turn out with this car.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Heart Kate

I've loved Kate Middleton ever since she came on the Prince William scene years ago.  She was lovely and adoring...and then she became a princess and stepped up her game.  If I was 6'2" and lived near her, I'm sure we would share clothes.  Also, I think she would have made a perfect Kappa, but that's impossible now.  Oor is it...maybe she could be a honorary member like Lucy Webb Hayes, former President Rutherford B. Hayes' wife!  So, back to reality.  Kate Middleton dresses like I would if I were a member of the British family (and a foot taller).  Tonight, I stumbled upon a blog called What Kate Wore.  I'm pretty sure I'm obsessed.  I'm always looking online to see what Kate wore on random days, and now I have my source ( doesn't have the detail I need to keep up with Kate on a regular basis).

Emily McCorquodale Wedding
Diamond Jubilee
The Engagement Announcement
There you have it.  I love her style.  I think she would make an excellent (and classy) Kappa.  I think we could be friends.  Maybe one day I'll visit England, and we'll run into one another, and we'll talk all about our dogs, and then we'll become lifelong friends...ok, I'll stop now. 

Fab Finds: My Favorite Office Supplies

I'm a sucker for pretty stationery, sticky notes, binders, folders, paper, pens, pencils...pretty much anything office related.  One of my favorite sources is Russell and Hazel.  They're based in Minneapolis, and the creator/owner is an Iowa State alum.  I'm pretty sure we are soul mates.  Anyway, below are some of my favorite items from their store (and I am proud to admit I own them all).

Mini Binders

Chicklets Adhesive Notes
To Do Adhesive Notes
Jotters In Tray
Whenever I'm up in Minneapolis, I stop at their store.  It's like being in office supplies/stationery heaven!  Anyway, I live in Iowa...and the Russell and Hazel Flagship Store is about 4 hours I need to find alternatives.  In the East Village neighborhood in Des Moines, Ephemera is a wonderful store that carries a lot of beautiful options (even a little Russell and Hazel).

Ephemera's amazing shop
Then, tonight after work, I was prop shopping for tomorrow's photo shoot, when I stopped at Staples and discovered Martha Stewart's new office line.  Some of my favorite finds are below.  I think I may have finally found some pretty office supplies I can buy on my typical route (Staples is right next to Lowe's and Target in Altoona).
Binders & Accessories
Journals and Notebooks

Labels, Tags & Bands
Sticky Notes & Notetabs
After Staples, I stopped over at Target, where I spotted some Mara Mi cards, an affordable, colorful and modern line of stationery.

Mara Mi Hot Layered Thank You Cards
So, there are a few of my favorite things.  I have plenty more favorite stationery sources I'll share later.  You'll love it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Almost Done

Today was a long day.  I didn't make it to the 5:15 workout at Anytime Fitness, but I did make it to the 6:15 Farrell's workout.  Work was hectic.  I made a lot of progress on the things I had to make for tomorrow and Thursday's shoot.  I'm pretty sure I should start wearing a mask when I spray paint.  The maintenance guys at work were kind enough to turn on the vent system for me.  I think it was because they couldn't stand the smell.

Where the magic happens...
Also, I had my personal trainer workout at Anytime tonight with Alejandro.  It was amazing!  I have no idea how I've made it this long without a personal trainer.  He pushed me to work out harder than I imagined I could.  He also made me realize I'm not as fit as I thought (hello, BMI).  I think I'm going to have to schedule weekly visits with Alejandro.

It's almost midnight, and I'm almost done with my projects for tomorrow's shoot.  One more coat of spray paint tonight, and probably another tomorrow morning, and it'll all be done!  Woo hoo!

G-free Mac and Cheese

Last night, I didn't want to make anything difficult for dinner, so I tried Trader Joe's g-free mac and cheese since it had been in my pantry for a few months.  It was delicious.  Even Josh admitted it wasn't terrible.  That's kind of a big deal.  Of course, Sophie loved it...that's to be expected.  However, we learned this week Sophie doesn't like pickles. 

I added one slice of colby jack cheese (and not pepper) to make it a little cheesier.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Night Owl

Why is it that I almost always get a burst of energy at 9 PM?  It's 11 PM, and I'm running through all the things in my head that I didn't get done today, and I'd like to get done now.  Also, I have no idea how I'm going to make it to the 5:15 workout at Anytime Fitness, and then the 6:15 workout at Farrell's...and then prop for Wednesday's photo shoot, make it to a 2 PM doctor appointment, a 5 PM personal trainer meeting, and then 7:30 PM sand volleyball...  What?  I should probably just go to sleep...I should probably have gone to sleep about two hours ago...when I got my burst of energy.  Shoot...missed that opportunity...

Maybe I should get this plate.

Wedding Season

Josh and I attended our first wedding of the summer this past weekend in New Hampton, Iowa.  The wedding was in a Lutheran Church, and reminded me much of our own wedding.  While we take a walk down memory lane, here's a picture of us from our wedding day on June 7, 2008, taken by the amazing Daniel Folkers, one of my childhood friends from North Dakota.  We were also lucky enough to have Josh's Aunt Pam take some amazing shots, too (and give us a scrapbook of our wedding the morning after our wedding - she's a superhero!).  Oh, and it was our fourth anniversary this past week.

06.07.08 | Sion Lutheran Church | Lake Mills, Iowa

06.07.08 | Sion Lutheran Church | Lake Mills, Iowa
The church this weekend in New Hampton was much larger than the church we were married in, but the ceremony still felt intimate.

Love the gold paint!
After the ceremony, I made a stop at the ladies room.  Right outside the ladies room, was this beautiful piece of art.  I had to laugh.  It's the happiest portrait of Jesus I've ever seen!

My guess:  Jesus on the Sea of Galilee before multiplying the bread and fish?

Sew Away

When I was in second grade, my mom taught me how to sew.  The older I get, the more grateful I am for the skills she instilled in me and my sister.  From canning to gardening, laundry and cleaning, I don't know how she taught us how to do so much, but she did.  So, back to this weekend.  On Friday, I had a long day at work prepping for a shoot I have this week.  To de-stress, I decided I wanted to make a dress.  Last year, I picked up some fabric and a Simplicity pattern at JoAnn Fabric.  One year later, I did something with it.  I worked until 1:30 AM, but the dress turned out beautifully.  And the invisible zipper I put in was perfect.  When mom looked at the dress, she couldn't figure out how I put it on since she didn't see a zipper.  That's good news, my friends!

They're Growing!

Last Thursday, I was more than pleased to see my tomato plant bursting with tomatoes.  I can't believe they're already so big!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Golf Tournament

Yesterday, Josh and I attended the Principal Charity Classic in West Des Moines.  We invited his sister, Kalli, and her husband, Mike, to go with us and had a great day.  We started the day off a little late (shocking, right?).  A little after ten in the morning, we drove the twenty-five minute drive out to Jordan Creek Mall to park.  We took a nice shuttle bus over to the golf course and stayed there the whole day.  I lasted until about three in the which my interest level in the sport dwindled as did my sunblock.  Watching a golf tournament was a lot more exciting than I'd anticipated.  The people watching was pretty amazing...oh, and the golfing was exciting, too!  Jay Haas won the tournament with -16.  Thanks, Meredith, for the free tickets and an opportunity to watch some great golfers (and spend the day with family).

Enjoying a cherry Tropical Sno and sporting my Drake snap bracelet.

The Irish Twins celebrating their birthdays!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Saturday Naps

Yesterday I had a successful day.  I went to lower body strength at Farrell's, cleaned a bit, then went to Lemon Tree and Target with Minna and Suri.  Once I got home, I sat on the sofa, and slept for four hours.  I love naps!  I saw this on Pinterest this week, and it seemed appropriate (however, I feel like I managed to accomplish quite a lot in spite of my amazing nap).

Friday, June 1, 2012

New York Roadtrip

Last week, Josh and I flew to Buffalo, New York, to buy Josh a car (I mentioned it here).  The car didn't work out, but we managed to have a pretty fun time in spite of the disappointment.  More than 18 hours on the road, and more than 1,000 miles later, here's our adventure.

The first day was an adventure.  We arrived a little before noon, and then had the afternoon to spend exploring Buffalo and get up to Niagara Falls.  The Falls were simply amazing.  I've never seen something quite so beautiful in my life...and I don't even like things outside.  That's saying something.  God knew what he was doing when he made this! We walked around the whole park, then ventured over to Canada for a couple of hours.  On our drive back to our hotel, we stopped at Duff's Famous Wings in Amherst.  The Buffalo wings were delicious...not breaded and perfectly spicy.

On, he second day, Friday, we did the car thing in the morning, and then kept our rental car.  We drove from Buffalo, New York, up Lake Ontario and ended up having an amazing late lunch at Baranga's at the Beach in Hamilton, Ontario.  The restaurant, oddly enough, was like being at a Mexican resort.  The stucco building, fresh food, and light beaches along the water felt like the resort Josh and I spent our honeymoon in Mexico.  On a whim, we decided to head up to Toronto, just to say we'd done it.  Then, we drove to Sarnia, Ontario, to see Lake Huron.  After a couple pictures, we hopped back in the car and drove to our hotel near the Detroit airport.

The third day, Saturday, consisted of lots of driving.  We drove from Detroit to Lake Erie for a couple of pictures, and then passed through Toledo (again, just to say we'd done it) on our way to have lunch with my family in Elkhart, Indiana.  After lunch, Josh test drove another car, and then we drove to Chicago to meet Rod and Michaun.  We went to dinner with our Chicago tour guides (aka:  Rod and Michaun), and then walked around Millennium Park.  It was so fun to see the park at night which was very different from when I saw it on a morning walk in April.

The fourth day, Sunday, was filled with lots of sun and outdoor Chicago activities.  After brunch, we went on an architectural boat tour along the Chicago River.  I learned so much about Chicago history and architecture, like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer was created by Montgomery Ward in Chicago in 1939.  I guess I thought he has been around since Santa...but that's probably just my sheltered childhood coming through.  Once the boat tour was over, Rod and Michaun took me to Lake Michigan to check it off my 30 before 30 list.  We quickly freshened up, and then went to dinner at Chop House.

By the fifth day, Monday and Memorial Day, Josh and I were exhausted, but not too tired to see two more cars before we left Chicago.  Once we returned the rental car at the Des Moines airport and drove home, it was close to 5 PM.  So, from Thursday at 5 AM to Sunday at 5 PM, we logged more miles, experiences, lakes, and memories than I could have ever imagined.  It's a good life I have...  Thanks for being a part of it!

Niagara Falls, New York

I'm in two places at once!

Duff's Famous Buffalo Wings | Amherst, New York
Baranga's at the Beach | Hamilton, Ontario
Lake Huron | Sarnia, Ontario
Rod & Michaun at Buckingham Fountain | Chicago
In front of Buckingham Fountain | Chicago
Chicago Skyline
Chicago River Architectural Boat Tour
Lake Michigan | Chicago