Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I had my wellness assessment at work this morning.  We get a discount on our health insurance if we complete it, and I actually look forward to it every year.  This has been the first full year I've been gluten-free, and I think it's been a good thing for me.  I didn't eliminate gluten to lose weight; I eliminated it to feel human and rid myself of years of tummy troubles (that's the nice way of saying it).  Anyway, this year's wellness assessment was actually nice.  I wasn't told I was at risk for being obese (maybe that's in the digital version I'll receive later).  I didn't get shuffled around between stations (they now have one person check your weight, height, body fat, measure your waist, and perform the blood test).  I had a lovely conversation with my wellness assessor (I made up her title; I'm pretty sure that's not her official title).  Her husband is a farmer in Bondurant and will get a 50% discount if he takes his corn to get dried at the grain elevator if he drops it off by Friday.  We bonded.  Anyway, so the really great part of my wellness assessment was this: I lost five pounds and three inches from my waist this past year.  Maybe it's from working out more intentionally (as in actually trying when I'm there and not pouting like a moody teenager about having to be there), but I guess my mom was right when she said I look "less bloated" now that I'm not eating gluten.  Oh, mom...gotta love the pure honesty.

And speaking of honesty, a friend of mine shared this hilarious blog with me.  It's written from the perspective of a toddler.  You will laugh, I promise.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cassie's Wedding Week

It's Cassie's wedding week, and things are really coming together!  I have 50 wedding programs completely done.  They turned out exactly as I thought they would, and I'm really proud of them.  I should have them completed by tomorrow night.  Here's a little sneak peek.  They evolved a little bit from the original version I made.

Also, a big shout-out to my mom who has been helping me.  She's an excellent paper folder, glue applier, and corner cutter.  Thanks, mom, for all your help.  I couldn't have done this without you - you're the best!

I ordered the materials last week, and am really happy with the quality and price of everything.  The cardstock was buy one pack of 50 sheets, get one for $0.01 at Michael's.  The organza ribbon was from Paper Mart, and was the perfect purple (and the organza is great for bows - super pliable).  And the wood sticks were from Discount School Supply.  The ribbon and sticks arrived in record time:  the sticks arrived in less than 24 hours (without rush shipping), and the ribbon arrived in three days.  Thank heaven for that!

Cost breakdown:
$8.00 [200 sheets of cardstock]
$15.03 [500 wood sticks]
$31.02 [4 rolls of 1-1/2" x 50 yards of ribbon]
$10.00 [glue]
$64.05 TOTAL

I'm making 160 wedding programs, and I'll have lots of leftover wood sticks, ribbon (I may return two rolls since I over-ordered), and cardstock.  Who knows when I'll need them for another wedding? 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Feels Good to be Home

Josh came home this weekend.  It felt right.  Sophie and I were pumped to see him.  Anytime Sophie saw his hand dangling off the bed or the sofa, she decided it was time to wrestle.  She loves to wrestle with Josh.  She and I don't wrestle.  We tried last week, but gave up because we both realized it's unnatural for us to wrestle; we cuddle. 

Sophie is happy to have her wrestling buddy home.

Yesterday it rained all day, which made it seem like an even better, relaxing Saturday.  We had three things on our agenda this weekend:  do Josh's laundry (check), schedule a haircut for Josh (check), and take advantage of Des Moines' Restaurant Week (check).  When Josh only has two weeks worth of laundry to do, it gets done really quickly!  I think it only took four loads.  That's a record.  Also, after months of asking if I could schedule a haircut, magically he obliged on Saturday.  Within ten minutes of his request, I had one scheduled.  Then, we made a reservation at Alba, one of our favorite restaurants in Des Moines.  They had a fixed menu for Restaurant Week, and it had the largest selection of options of the few restaurants we were interested in.  I called at 11 AM to make a reservation; the earliest available was 8:30 PM.  I took it since we didn't have anything else going on yesterday.  Any other day, I would have had to had an early dinner before the 8:30 dinner. 

Our meals were amazing!  For starters, Josh had the Iowa Sweet Corn Soup - Puffed Bacon / Chive Oil / Tomato Jam; I had the Chameleon Farms Heirloom Tomato Salad - Basil Caramel / House Made Ricotta / Zucchini Crouton.  For the main course, Josh had the Hanger Steak - Crushed Yukon Potatoes / Crispy Onion Rings / Blue Collar Sauce and I had the Pork Loin Duo - Mexican Chorizo /Yukon Potatoes /Sweet Corn / Scallion.  For dessert, Josh had the Sticky Roll Bread Pudding - Vanilla Bean Ice Cream / Pecan Pralines; I had the Salted Caramel Crème Brule - Espresso Brittle.  Josh and I both enjoyed our starters.  We favored my pork dish over his steak.  His bread pudding was amazing; my crème brule was very sweet and I couldn't finish it.  First time ever not finishing a crème brule.  Finding g-free food in Des Moines is actually pretty easy...even during Restaurant Week!

It's Sunday, and I have a million things to do - print Cassie's wedding invitations, workout, do a little laundry, do some mending and ironing...  I wish it could stay the weekend forever...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fab Finds: Bad Dogs

My friend, Jaime, posted a link to this blog on a friend's Facebook page.  It's a blog dedicated to dog shaming:  Here are some of my favorite posts.

Rainbow poop

Bed hog
Coach purse

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Just An Ordinary Day

Have you ever heard Ordinary Day by Vanessa Carlton?  I got the CD in high school, and this was probably one of my favorite songs.  Maybe it's the piano.  Maybe it's because I always wish I knew how to play the piano.  Maybe it's her soothing voice.  Anyway, I feel like every day is ordinary, but it's what you make of it that makes it special...or not. 

Today was a pretty nice day.  I started the day remembering an admired professor after a sudden death.  Maybe that's what made today special...appreciating today for what it is and not dreading it.  Today was what I would consider to be an ordinary office day, if there is such a thing.  I had nearly three straight hours of meetings this afternoon, and during them, I couldn't help taking a picture of how we made it through the meeting:  Laffy Taffy

This week, I spent the whole week in the office.  I think this is a summer record.  I don't think I've been at my desk for this long in about three months....maybe four.  It was a nice change of pace.  Anyway, earlier this week, I went to a meeting, and came back to find my co-worker's office looking like this.  It's pretty typical to do little projects at our desks.  I've polyurathaned projects, stained wood, and used a hand saw at my desk.  It's just what we do, but I couldn't help but capture the moment.

While I was at work today, my mom called and asked if she could go over to my house and make me an apple pie.  Um, yes?  I actually forgot about it during my marathon meetings this afternoon, so walking in my door and being greeted by the aroma of fresh apple pie was quite a treat.  I ate two pieces for dinner.  It was amazing.  Honestly, I'll probably eat a piece of it for every meal until it's gone.  It's that good.

The crust she used was one I had on hand from Gluten Free Pantry.  It was delicious - flaky and buttery - unlike any other gluten-free pie crust I've tried.

Then, I took Sophie on a walk.  I love my neighborhood.  I love walking around the little lake.  Sophie loves it, too.  There are lots of smells for her to explore.  I hope to live in our neighborhood forever.  Once they build the HyVee a couple of blocks from the house, it'll be even more amazing.

Loss of a Legend

This morning, a fellow Iowa State journalism graduate posted about the passing of professor Barbara Mack.  She was a legend in the journalism program.  Every journalism student had to take journalism law, and she was one of the two professors (when I was a journalism student, that is).  I had her my senior year.  She was a tough cookie.  So much so, that with my apprenticeship, involvement with my sorority and on campus, and two other side jobs, I didn't think I could handle her I dropped it (and had to take it the next semester with a different professor).  Anyway, when I told her I needed to drop it because I was over-committed and couldn't invest enough of myself in the class, she was kind and understanding (a complete surprise to me, and the first time I saw her kind heart).  I hate admitting I can't do everything.  I dropped two classes in undergrad:  chemistry (my first semester when I came to the realization that I'm not cut out to be a doctor) and journalism law.  I regret dropping chemistry...however, technically I didn't drop it (long story...).  I don't regret dropping journalism law.  I took it the next semester and got an A.  I felt like I owed it to her to do well in it.

Barbara Mack was rigid.  She expected a high standard of excellence from her students (and probably everyone, really).  She demanded respect.  And I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience her teaching.  I wish her family all the best in this difficult time.  I hope they know she left behind a legacy that may never be matched.  She was a legend in herself and will be missed dearly.  The Iowa State journalism program will never be the same.  And, for everyone who knew her, we will never be the same.

Barbara Mack, you will be missed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sweet Little Guy

Baby T is six months old. How did that even happen? I still remember when Heather told me she was pregnant. We were on our way to dinner at El Azteca in Ankeny (I was driving Big Blue, Josh's truck), and while we were stopped at the stop light at Oralabor and Delaware, she blurted out she was pregnant. So, needless to say, she didn't have a margarita at dinner. Anyway, Baby T just had his pictures taken by Melanie Haynes, and I had to share. Be prepared for your heart to be stolen. He's pretty adorable.

I'm pretty sure that's Heather's smile.

Iowa City Weekends

This past weekend, Josh and I had originally planned to go to the drive-in movie theater in Newton. However, after he asked if I would come to a party in Iowa City after the movie, I opted to skip the movie and just drive over to Iowa City for Saturday night (I hate driving at night and like to avoid it if possible). It was a nice Saturday evening. We went grocery shopping together (apparently Josh thinks I can shop well - mom, you'd be proud!), and then made dinner together. After dinner, I took a little nap, and then we went out to a law school house party with his roommate, Alec. While walking over to the party, it felt a bit (read: A LOT) like going to an undergrad party at Iowa State (except we had to bring our own alcohol). I met a lot of Josh's classmates, and then randomly ran in to a cousin of Heather's husband. I love finding crazy connections with people! Anyway, it was wonderful to spend a low-key evening with Josh. On Sunday, I got on the road by noon, cleaned the house, cleaned out my car, and did a few loads of laundry before Jessica and I went to the fair. It was a great weekend.

I miss having a personal cook...

Newton, we'll be there at some point for a drive-in movie experience. I've got to get at least one under my belt!

Nothing Compares to the Iowa State Fair

On Sunday, Jessica and I went to the fair. I love the fair. I've gone every year since I moved to Iowa (except for last year). When I moved here, I didn't realize the fair was such a big deal to the state, as well as to everyone who lives in the Des Moines area. I grew up in North Dakota...with a population of 600,000...and I never attended a state fair there. Did anyone?

Anyway, since I was too busy to go to the fair last year, I was determined to go this year (I needed to do research for my 30 before 30 goals - hopefully 6 and 29 I can cross of next year!). A few months back, I bought Rascal Flatts tickets for Jessica and I. The concert was at the grandstand at the fair on the last day of the fair, so I knew I'd be able to attend this year's fair at least once. Sure enough, I attended once. It was both our first experiences at the grandstand. We had terrible tickets (section YZ, row 19, seats 5 &6). It was about as far away from the stage as it could have been. Before the concert started, Jessica and I walked around, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells (all good and bad). They are below.  Also, I should note that finding g-free food at the fair wan't too bad.  Since Jessica knows where every vendor is (I'm pretty sure going to the fair multiple times every year for the past 27 years has helped her with that skill), I just suggested foods I wanted, and she took me there.  I had lemonade, porkchop on a stick, and we shared her cup of watermelon.  It was all delicious!

Fresh lemonade at the fair is the best!

933 pounds of pumpkin

The famous butter cow is a staple sight to see.

Pork chop on a stick

Some of the quilts on display

Rascal Flatts concert ticket

The view of the grandstand and Midway from our seats

When Jessica and I were sitting in the wrong seats...

Turns out, we were 15 seats closer to the stage than we originally thought!

Rascal Flatts performing live!

Next weekend, I'm going up to Minnesota for Cassie's wedding (I can't believe it's already here!), and I plan to hit up the Minnesota State Fair while I'm there. We'll see how it compares...

Sweet Home Kappa Gamma

I lived in Ames for four years (except for the two summers I spent at home - one summer was spent living at a fraternity...more on that experience later!).  Three of those years were spent living at 120 Lynn Avenue at the Kappa house.  I had my own fair share of struggles living with 60+ girls, but I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.  A couple weeks ago, I participated in house tours given by the new sophomores.  It was wonderful.  I walked through all the rooms I'd lived in.  Hello, memories...

Anyway, on Monday night, I had an alumnae association event up in Ames, and I was happy to attend since I knew I'd also stop over at the house to meet with my advisee. Jessica planned the alumnae event - wine tasting at a self-serve wine bar. When she told me about the place, I had visions of Lemon Tree, Cherry Berry, and Orange Leaf in my head...turns out, that's not actually correct, but the basic gist of things. You purchase a pre-paid card, insert the card in the machine, then press the amount of wine you'd like (the prices and quantities are all marked on the machine). It's pretty simple. And quite innovative. Congrats, Della Viti. We had a great time tasting wines and catching up with one another. I love chatting with the "older" ladies in our association. They were advisers when I was an undergraduate...and I think they've been advisers for about 50 years. They're wonderful ladies.

Jessica trying out the machines.

Anyway, after wine tasting, I drove over to the chapter house to meet with my advisee, Annie. She's great - so prepared, so eager to do big things, and so down-to-earth. Before I walked in the house, I had to stop to take in the moment. It was the first chapter meeting of the school year, and all the new members were at the house for formal pledging. The actives were wearing black dresses. The new members were wearing white. But, while they were all down in the chapter meeting room, the house was quiet. And it made me miss college and all my friends living under one roof...for three glorious years.

120 Lynn will always be Home Sweet Home

It's a beautiful sight!

TV Shows

I'm a sucker for reality TV.  It's trashy, I know, but it's also a train wreck, and I can't help myself.  Last night, I got in a full episode of MTV's Teen Mom, and then I set the DVR to record TLC's (new-to-me) High School Moms.  Holy cow.  These shows were a total waste of my time, however, I watched Teen Mom all the way through (even forgetting to fast forward through the commercials).  When it came time for High School Moms, I just couldn't do it.  It's not that interesting.  It's like the drama-free version of Teen Mom.  And let's face it, that's why we watch it.  I'm canceling my recording of High School Moms.  Teen Mom has one more episode left in this season (which is the last of the four seasons).  I have to watch it. 

Then, since I'm a sucker for Internet research, I stumbled upon this super trashy website dedicated solely to gossip - and not the PC, fluffy version.  I didn't know stuff like this even existed.  And for the big reveal, here is a website where you can waste tons of time reading dumb stories about people who have EVER been in the spotlight:

And on that note, when is Downton Abbey coming back to PBS?  Apparently there are about 11.5 million people who also love the show. I need some culture in my TV show selections...

MTV's Teen Mom
Favorite mom - Catelynn - she was the smart one.
I love the Abbey!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Love Sophie the Schnauzer

 I have become what I never thought I would - I'm completely obsessed with my dog (read more about Sophie here, here, here, and here).  Sophie Spike Haugo has been a part of our family since July 2008.  She's wonderful.  She makes me happy.  She makes me think of others.  She's made me more compassionate.  Every night, before I go to bed, I take a big breathe, and let it out slowly.  I learned that from Sophie.  She helps me relax.  She gets excited when I'm excited.  I could keep going, but I'll stop.

Anyway, tonight, Sophie was a crazy dog on her walk.  She ran as fast as she could go until she ran out of leash, then would fiercely sniff the grass until I caught up with her...and the cycle kept repeating.  Now, she's passed out on the sofa across the room from me (apparently she wanted to stretch out).  However, earlier tonight, she was staring at me from the dining room as I played on my computer (see photo below).  I really wish she could talk to me.  I think Sophie has a sarcastic and funny personality, and I can only imagine how that would sound.

I'm sure Sophie was trying to tell me something, I just don't know what it was...

And for your viewing pleasure, here are some of my favorite photos of Sophie.  I have them all at my desk at work...and some of them are framed at home.  I just can't get enough of her!

Sophie on her first day home with us
Sophie's first time outside.  She was afraid of the grass.
Sophie and I bonded when Josh was on a work trip.

Our 2011 Christmas photo

I swear Sophie is smiling here...
Sophie has also had her time in the spotlight (literally).  She modeled for a couple of years back.  Here she is next to her pumpkin. You can even download the stencil here.  And here's what I had to say about Sophie back in 2009 (she was in her crazy chewing phase and I thought it would never end!):  Sophie, my schnauzer, chews, destroys, and eats everything in her path -- shoes, rugs, paper, laundry sheets -- she's not picky. She's destroyed cell phones, hairbrushes, wicker baskets, water bottles, and lots of dog toys. She's a sweetheart, though, and oh-so adorable. -- Rachel Haugo, Sophie's owner

Sophie the Schnauzer as a pumpkin
Here is an outtake from the photo shoot.  She just likes to smile!

Smile, Sophie!
Then, back in 2010, Sophie appeared in an editor's photo for my former magazine.

The magazine staff with our dogs
And then, this past spring, Josh brought Sophie downtown for a photo shoot of mine.  Sophie was a little scared of the orange chair, but she was a trooper.  She just really wanted off the rickety chair...and wanted to play with the ball.

What a great-looking coat rack...
So, anyway, this post shows a tiny snippet of my love for Sophie.  I think she's amazing.  I'm so glad she's a part of our family.  Thanks, Jon and Pam, for picking a good dog for us!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back to School

Josh is officially back at school.  Orientation started on Sunday, and he's been busy all week with his intro to law school class, random activities for school, and reading.  Before orientation started on Sunday, we bought his books.  I forgot how expensive books are.  When I was in graduate school at Drake, I had two to three classes a semester, and books were typically $300 or less a semester.  Josh's books were more than that.  I had to take a picture of the total amount on the register.  Seriously, I don't know why books cost this much.

$729.75 for a semester worth of books
Josh enjoyed using the free Internet at the law building before orientation
First day of law school orientation
On Saturday, we spent the day moving Josh's things, and then went out to dinner at Stella.  The restaurant is less than five minutes from Josh's apartment, and offers sufficient g-free options for me.  The ambiance was amazing out on the patio - the weather was in the high 80s with a light breeze.  I had jambalaya with a Sutliff hard cider (made in Iowa!).  Josh  had the Italian pizza.  I have a feeling we'll be going back to Stella to eat again.

Jambalaya and Sutliff hard cider
Then, after dinner, we had a chance to relax and watch the Olympics.  By 10 o'clock, we were exhausted...and went to bed.  Only to be woken up at 2 AM by his neighbors.  Oh, the joy of apartment living in a college town...

We're turning into Bev and Gene Haugo (and enjoying their old recliners!)