Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fab Finds: Undressed Skeleton Blog

I was pinning some lovely g-free recipes on Pinterest tonight, when I stumbled upon a new blog:  Undressed Skeleton.  She's a cute girl (from Ottumwa, Iowa) who lives in Chicago and lives a healthy lifestyle (read about her amazing weight-loss story here).  Her recipes aren't all g-free, but she has some really delicious-looking (and low-calorie) recipes I'm dying to try.  Below are some recipes I plan to make this week.

Creamy Garlic Butternut Squash Soup
Cauliflower Mash
Creamy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal

Football Weekend

I drove over to Iowa City again to spend the weekend with Josh.  Friday night, we relaxed at Josh's apartment because the football game on Saturday started at 11 AM.  We met up with Josh's cousin, Brittany, who was in town from Chicago (she attended Iowa for undergrad), and caught up on our lives.  Iowa beat Minnesota 31-13.  Also, it turns out yesterday was Homecoming for Iowa; I got it confused with Iowa State's Homecoming (which is the end of October).  After spending time at two Iowa football games, I'm looking forward to attending an ISU football game.

My finds for the day: Romney stickers, Waldo, ice cream cone, and Chow from Chow's Gymnastics!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quick and Easy Dinner

I didn't feel like making anything for dinner tonight. After coming to grips with the fact that I have very few options, and I'm not ok with starving, I whipped up this crazy concoction: Quinoa with shredded chicken, chickpeas, and dried cranberries. The shredded chicken was in the freezer; I made it on Sunday for occasions such as this! Everything else was in my pantry. Overall, I like the meal. It turned out a little salty, but I can deal with it. Here's the recipe.

Quinoa Fall Medley
1 cup quinoa
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
Dash of salt
1/4 cup shredded chicken
1/2 can chickpeas
2 tablespoons dried cranberries

Boil water and broth with dash of salt. Add quinoa and reduce heat to low; cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add shredded chicken, chickpeas and cranberries. Mix together and serve.

I'm contemplating adding feta crumbles tomorrow. We'll see how wild I get!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Late Nights

Today, I got my eyes dilated at the optometrist. I love my optometrist. I started seeing him during his first year at the practice almost ten years ago. (For the record, I still have 20/20 vision.) I see him because, in the event my eyes fail me, he can heal me. That's what doctors do, right? I like to take preventative measures...when it's convenient.

Anyway, after today's stressful day at the office (and super tired eyes), I fell asleep on the sofa for a little "after work" nap. An hour and a half later, I decided it was time to a avoid the inevitable and take Sophie on a walk. Minna came over. We talked. She went home. I caught up on the new TV shows for fall onTuesdays (which are amazing! More on my reviews later). I also just scored my best time in solitaire. And in other news, the new iPhone update has left me without the ability to respond to emails on my phone. Sort of tragic. Sort of a blessing. I really need to create better sleeping habits! It's on my to do list...

Time to Un[wine]d

Minna came over tonight and we chatted for a couple hours over a bottle of wine...a lovely $4 bottle of wine from Trader Joe's. It was delicious. The past week has been stressful in almost every possible way, and getting her feedback and vomiting up my random rants was exactly what I needed. I'm a lucky girl to have such great friends like her!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's The Little Things

This weekend Josh was home. He spent Saturday golfing; I napped for four hours, read a little bit, and watched some TV. Today, we went to church (where the pastor preached about patience - one of my struggles), grocery shopped, ate my homemade g-free BBQ chicken pizza, attended my nephew's football game in Waukee, I did all our laundry, cleaned the master bathroom, and then while I was working out, Josh grilled steaks. It's nice to have him home. I feel so much more relaxed (thus the nap yesterday). Tonight, Josh is doing some reading for class. Sophie (who is in a bit of a food coma after eating almost an entire t-bone) is snuggled up next to him. It makes me very happy. I wish all nights ended like this.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fab Finds: Gluten-Free Cupcakes in Des Moines

It's one of my co-worker's birthdays today.  He brought in some beautiful cupcakes from Creme, a cupcake bakery right here in Des Moines.  They were out of gluten-free cupcakes when he was there yesterday, but I think I should probably make a journey to the bakery (it's a five-minute drive from the office; 20-minutes from home).  Check out some of their cupcake images below (or read their menu here).  If your mouth isn't watering now, it will be in approximately .0482729 seconds...



On Weekends, they're open until midnight, and serve adult beverages with the cupcakes.  I think this might just be a perfect date night with the hubs.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Clean House

I'm feeling accomplished tonight. After I cleaned my house, washed dishes, framed a photo, took Sophie on a walk, checked the mail, and froze individual slices of yesterday's lasagna, it's time for bed. I love productive evenings!

I feel its also appropriate to share that tonight I'm blogging from my phone. We shall see how this turns out...

Also, I should probably catch up on some reading. Below is a photo of the magazines on my list...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gluten-Free Italian Medley Lasagna

I like to use recipes as a guide, but I don't like to follow them exactly.  When I started making lasagna tonight, I looked at the recipe on the side of the box of noodles, but knew I wasn't going to make it like that (however, I did appreciate the layering and baking instructions).  I've had canned mushrooms, artichokes, spinach, and black olives in my pantry for a while now that I'd been waiting to use, but hadn't been brave enough to use them yet.  So, tonight was the night.  Below is the recipe I made up.  It's delicious, and I hope you love it, too.  Actually, I hope you don't, because then there will be more for me to eat.

Gluten-Free Italian Medley Lasagna
(Serves 12)
1 box of De Boles Gluten-Free Rice Lasagna
1 pound Graziano sausage (you can use spicy Italian sausage or any other ground up meat)
2 tablespoons frozen basil (I use Dorot)
2 small cans of sliced mushrooms (could use fresh)
1 small can of sliced black olives
1 can of artichokes
1 can of spinach (could substitute fresh or frozen)
1 egg
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large can of spaghetti sauce (I used a four cheese plus two jelly jars of my mother-in-law's homemade spaghetti sauce)

Brown sausage in a skillet. When the meat is almost browned, mix in the basil, mushrooms, black olives, artichokes and spinach.  Continue cooking for approximately five minutes.  In a small bowl, mix the egg with half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. 

In a 9x13 pan, layer as follows:  spaghetti sauce, noodles, meat and vegetable medley mixture, cheese mixture, then repeat (I had two sets of layers). Tip: make sure your noodles are coated with the spaghetti sauce for every layer (otherwise they won't cook all the way through).  Drizzle one more layer of spaghetti sauce.  Then, mix together remaining cheese and sprinkle on top of lasagna.  Before you put it in the oven, cover with tin foil.  Tip:  If you spray your tin foil with Pam, the cheese won't stick to the tin foil.  Bake for one hour.  Then, remove tin foil and broil for five minutes (to brown the cheese). 

Fab Finds: Better Homes & Gardens Blog

My first job out of college was working as an online editor at  It was there where I worked with some amazing ladies, and learned to be passionate about my work.  Anyway, one of my former co-workers and dear friends, Joanna, now works at Better Homes & Gardens (you know, the big magazine that goes out to millions of women every month).  Tonight, while browsing through updates on Facebook, I found a blog post Joanna wrote about gallery walls.  Her writing is captivating - you must read the post (click here).  The topic is interesting, and it makes me want to be "that girl" she's describing. 

Here's the first picture I have with Joanna (and our friend Kaelin) back in 2007.  We had a work function at the Iowa State Fair, and all of us associate editors stuck together.  Joanna has such a kind heart and I'm so blessed to have her in my life.  Also, she's (clearly) very talented with her words, and I admire her mad skills!

Kaelin, me and Joanna | Iowa State Fair | August 2007
Miss Kaelin has also been rocking the brand (literally, she's evolved the brand like crazy over the past few years - read about some of her work here).  In the photo below, she is at the BHG Blogger event in NYC last month with BHG Editor-in-Chief Gayle Butler, and the very talented Oma Blaise-Ford, Senior Deputy Editor for Home Design at BHG.

Basically, I'm really proud of my friends, and I hope you love their work, too!

2012 Iowa Celiac Conference

I just saw this on Facebook, and now I really want to go.  The 2012 Iowa Celiac Conference is in Ames on September 22 (that's this Saturday).  Josh is going on some all-day golf tournament/day-drinking event, so I'm free to go...if I can find someone to go with me.  Any takers?  I'm a really fun person and promise to have really stimulating conversation!


Monday, September 17, 2012

The Apple Orchard

It's officially fall.  Maybe not on the calendar (the technical date is apparently on September 22), but in my world it is.  Yesterday was Josh's grandparent's Annual Harvest Festival.  It was amazing as always, and this year there were more attendees than ever before (or at least it seemed that way to me)!  The high temperature yesterday was 82 - it was a perfect day!  I forgot to put the memory card in my camera, so these pictures are from my iPhone and then the really nice ones are from Josh's Aunt Pam (remember, she took some of our wedding photos).  I look forward to this event every fall.  It makes me proud to be a part of such a wonderful family, and I really enjoy helping out and meeting/greeting the guests.  This year, my mom and nephews came along with me.  They all loved it (their naps on the way home were proof of that!) and my mom wants to come back next year to help set up.  I think if she hadn't had back surgery this past June, she would have asked to help make the fresh-pressed apple cider.  Overall, the day was a success!

Pam made this Ad for the family to post on Facebook to promote the event.

Pictures courtesy of Aunt Pam

Since we didn't get a family picture this year, here's one from last year.  And then for fun, below that are photos from 2009 and 2008.  Apparently we didn't go in 2010...which is kind of disappointing.  Seeing how Sophie's changed over the years is quite fun - she was so fluffy in 2008 (when she was just a few months old).

2011 Apple Festival
2009 Apple Festival
2008 Apple Festival

A Reality Check

I read this on Huffington Post, and couldn't help but laugh...a lot.  It's a farewell email someone sent when they apparently left their job on Friday.  My apologies in advance for the profanities and the small font size.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Fab Finds: New Tunes

I've mentioned before how much I love music (read about it here).  I love to sing...even if I sound terrible.  I always sound really great in my head, so that's all I care about.  Anyway, below are some of the tunes I'm loving right now.  The first song was the main song played at the Olympics, and the second song was performed at Cassie's wedding.

Also, this week I was watching Ellen (it's the first week of her 10th season), and this guy was on the show (and then I saw him on The Today Show this morning).  Apparently he's an American sensation...

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All in a Day's Work

A few months back, I posted this photo of me on Facebook (shot during how-to photography). 

The shots below are the professional images from the shoot.  Thank goodness the focus is on the wood tray and not on my awesome hair!

Make a wood tray (source)

And here's a picture of the tray looking beautiful on location photography...

Make a wood tray (source)

The Kate Obsession Continues

Kate and Prince William are on a diplomatic overseas tour right now, so they're being photographed in detail, (I've already admitted my admiration for the princess here and here.)  Below are some of my favorite outfits from her recent public events.  She can really rock a classic dress...

One Day of Clothes in Singapore (source)

Third day in Singapore (source)
Visiting a mosque in a 1980s-inspired dress (source)
Then, the big news for Kate is a recent breach of privacy.  A French tabloid reportedly posted photos of Kate sunbathing topless at a private estate in the south of France.  I feel terribly for her.  She was just trying to relax before a whirlwind press tour.  At times like this, I have a grave distaste for the media...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Time to Remember

Seven years ago today, one of my dear college friends passed away in a tragic car accident.  He was on his way home from a class at DMACC in Boone, driving back to Ames to his fraternity.  Three other fraternity brothers were in the car when the accident happened.  It was a horrific scene (from what they told me).  I can't imagine being there.  I was devastated when I learned about his passing, especially since we had just celebrated the Iowa State win against Iowa three days before that.  The weekend before that, we had gone camping together as part of a leadership retreat (we'd done it for two years at that point).  We had talked about his upcoming 21st birthday (on September 25), and he was already making plans for my 21st birthday party celebration (on October 9).  He was one of the best guys I've ever met and I'll always miss him...especially on September 13.

Andy was a genuine guy with a heart of gold who always had a smile on his face.  When I first met him, I was pretty intimidated to lead a committee with him since he was so tall (which can be scary to this short girl) and I'd never met him before we took over the committee.  Our year as Freshmen Council Fundraising Committee Co-Chairs was wonderful.  I thank Andy for encouraging me to be more outgoing (I used to be super shy), to try new things (Panda Express was our lunch choice for our weekly office hours), and to let loose every once in a while (he was always inviting me over to his fraternity to socialize).  Andy, wherever you are, I hope you're smiling down knowing once again, it's a Cyclone State.

Rest in peace, my friend
Andrew Arden Albright
September 25, 1984 - September 13, 2005

Baby Fever

I haven't caught the baby fever that seems to be sweeping my friends (yet), however I have an appreciation for babies.  I think Jessica's Baby J is super cool (she's like a miniature Jessica), and Heather's sweet Baby T melts my heart (just scroll down to see some adorable pictures).  I had the pleasure of spending Sunday through Wednesday in St. Louis with Heather and her family.  I miss having Heather living less than five minutes from my house, so spending any amount of time with her is always special.  In the past few months, I can't believe how much Baby T has grown and developed.  He can crawl like crazy now (I'm pretty sure he'll be a track star), and pulls himself up on whatever he can grab (furniture, people, etc.).  Here are just a few pictures from my STL adventure (including a trip to the zoo - scratch number 12 off my 30 before 30 list!).  I can't wait to go back and visit again.  STL is actually quite lovely in the fall. 

Happy baby pulled himself up on the sofa.

Baby with bunny ears


He makes the cutest faces!

Sweet Alison loves to cuddle up on the sofa (especially during nap time).
Seriously, you can't help but love this little guy!

Alison missed me very much!

Group photos are hard with kids and dogs.  Lesson learned.

Sweet Baby T

I kept having to back up to take this photo since Baby T kept speeding up his crawl.

The Big Football Game: Iowa v. Iowa State

This past weekend was a legendary Iowa weekend:  the Iowa v. Iowa State football game (read more about the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series here).  The state of Iowa is divided between the two universities.  Obviously, Josh and I always side with Iowa State (all the smart kids do, really).  Since Josh is a student at Iowa, he purchased season football tickets, and we managed (read: Josh negotiated like crazy) to purchase a ticket for me to attend the game with him.  During undergrad, I never went to Iowa City because I was afraid I'd get arrested or something crazy (I've heard lots of horror stories about Iowa City).  This was my first home Iowa football game, and it ended up pretty well.

We started the morning off at a law school fraternity tailgate.  Then, we wandered over to the tailgates near the stadium to meet up with some of Josh's high school friends.  It was fun catching up with them, playing flippy cup, and snapping a few pictures.

The football game was a lot of fun.  Kinnick Stadium was quite impressive.  The Iowa State win (9-6) was more impressive.  It's a Cyclone State for the next year.