Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Perfectly, perfect weekend

I had one of those weekends where I just felt happy and content. A weekend where I was doing exactly what I wanted to do and not what other people wanted to do. It felt awesome!

Friday after I left work around 4:30, I ran home, picked up my sister and we headed to my parents house for dinner. My parents live really close to us, living just on the other side of town. In Des Moines, that does not mean far! They are also the type that leave a standing invitation for dinner, and we my mom said she ordered pizza I could not resist! We ate pizza, chatted for a bit, and then my sister (Steph) and I went shopping for a little bit. The next day we were going to Star 102.5's Summer All Star Concert, which is an all day event and Steph wanted a new tank top and shorts to wear. We ended up at Old Navy and she found an adorable outfit for practically dirt cheap. I seriously think my entire wardrobe comes from Old Navy, Gap and Kohl's. I love their clothes and their prices are reasonable. Score and score. :)

Also, while shopping I decided to splurge and buy some Toms. I know I am late to this party (as I usually am with trends!) but, I have been wanting a pair of cute shoes that are good for walking, that aren't sneakers. As much as I love my Asics, I love them for running, not for everyday running around town. I'm planning on wearing the Toms next week in DC, so hopefully I can break them in by the weekend... Wish me luck? I wore them the entire weekend, and I think I got a great start at breaking them in.

Saturday morning I got up early, snuck in a quick 2 mile run and then we headed to Water Works park for the concert. I have never been to a concert there, and I have to say... I wasn't that impressed. I'll get to that later though. What did impress me was the fun lineup! At the show we had some of my favorites, including Train and Mat Kearney! They were both awesome, and honestly, the reason I chose to go to this one! The other acts were The Spazmatics (an 80s cover band), Green River Ordinance (I liked them!), Hanson (Mmmmbop!), Neon Trees (they were fun!), and Adam Lambert. My favorites were by far Mat Kearney and Train, though! Mat Kearney came out into the crowd and sang, it was awesome! Train legitimately had a wedding onstage after they sang "Marry Me". It was kinda cool! The entire time I couldn't help but think how pissed off my mom would be if one of us did that though! Haha!

Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures from the last half of the day because my phone died. Too much playing on my phone in between acts. I should have left it alone like I planned to, but my addiction is just too strong I guess. Below is a picture of the bride and groom with the lead singer and drummer.

So, what didn't impress me about the concert? The organization. It took FOREVER to get into the park. Then once we got into the park, there wasn't water available (unless you wanted to pay 3$ for a small bottle). Now, this is pretty typical but I had tweeted at Star 102.5 and asked them about availability of water. They said that there was a trough at the medical tent. I thought, ok cool. That is awesome. We go to the medical tent and there was not a trough. There was bottled water for people that got deyhydrated. I tweeted back at Star and they came back with "Well, it's like at Adventureland where you have to pay for water..." Ummm, really, Star? No, no it's not. Adventureland (a local amusement park) has water fountains. Nice try, though! We had a pretty fun time making fun of them the rest of the day... I see their point, but I hate when people answer questions when they don't really know the answer.

I had a good time at the concert, but I think it would take some pretty big acts to get me back. I hated that we couldn't leave the park and come back and that we couldn't bring in our own water. Even though it ended up cooling off in the late afternoon, the morning and early afternoon was humid and hot. I think I got spoiled at 80/35, where water was available and we could come and go as we pleased with a wristband.

On Sunday, I slept until I woke up naturally (which was around 9am) and it felt amazing. I love not having to get up to an alarm screeching. I got in a 4 mile run, which I was really proud of and then I spent the rest of the day studying, doing laundry and running a few errands. All in all it was a really great weekend! 

What does your perfect weekend look like?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Club Friday!

It is my favorite blogging day of the week. Not only is it Friday (TGIF!), but it is Book Club Friday! The fabulous book club link up hosted by Heather at Blonde Undercover Blonde.

This week I read a lot, and studied very little. Ok, I did not study at all. I am at the tail of end of my fourth and final summer class, and it is online and there are two modules left to do. The second to last module is due August 5th, which means I have to finish it by Tuesday because I leave for vacation on Wednesday. Why am I telling you all of this? Because, instead of working towards finishing this module I was busy reading Looking for Alaska by John Green.

John Green writes young adult novels, but honestly, that genre has NOTHING to do with the quality of the books. If you think young adult novels are for only teens, you are sorely mistaken and missing out on some great literature.

Earlier this year I read The Fault in our Stars, which is Green's fourth book (I believe) and I fell completely in love with the writing. I knew that I would get my hands on Looking for Alaska soon. Then in the adolescent lit class I took over the summer, the prof and I were talking about this author and she said I HAD to pick up Looking For Alaska if I liked his writing. So, I did!

So, I bet you want to know what the book is about, huh?

Here's the summary from Goodreads:

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

I love boarding school books. Probably because it is a vastly different world than what I am used to. But, in addition to that aspect of the book, the characters are what really did it for me. Green creates the most intelligent, realistic and interesting characters I have "met" in a long time. All of his characters are deep and insightful, but they are still normal teenagers that make mistakes and rebel. They're just really smart, but still make those stupid mistakes that all teenagers make and you're screaming, "nooooo!" but, know that they are going to do it anyway because that is what teenagers do

If you are a fan of young adult and want something that is well written with intriguing characters and an intense plot, than this is for you! 
What young adult book hooked you on the genre? For me, it was probably the Hunger Games series that really sealed the deal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blowouts, Berkus and Bike rides weekend

Yesterday was one of the hottest days in Iowa's history, clocking in at 105 degrees. Today marked the 10th day this year we have hit 100 degree or above weather. This week will definitely be record breaking for Iowa heat (and I'm sure many other states as well). If you are experiencing this extreme heat, the dust storms or any other natural disaster this year, please stay safe!

This is the type of humid, heat that as soon as you step outside, you are sweating like a pig. Outdoor activities are pretty much impossible unless you are sitting in a pool of cold water. I have been wanting to go on that bike ride, but I'm unsure if it's even safe!

This week is Iowa's annual organized bike ride across the state called RAGBRAI and I hope all of the riders stay safe and hydrated. I cannot imagine how hot it will be on those flat, open two lane highways across rural Iowa, but I admire the determination of all that are participating despite repeated warnings to stay inside and stay cool. Someday I hope to participate in Ragbrai, but I'm secretly glad that I did not choose to do so this year...

So, this past weekend my friend Angie and I headed up to Minneapolis for a quick overnight trip away from Des Moines and to see some good friends.

Saturday morning we got up and hit the road by 9am and arrived in Minneapolis around 12:30. Lesli, Angie and I all had appointments for blowouts at a new blowout bar called Blast in St. Louis park at 1:45, so we had some time to kill. We decided to grab a margarita and some chips and salsa at Rojo, a Mexican restaurant down the street.
 {Angie, me, and Lesli getting our hair done!}

Once we were done with our snacks and we got to Blast and we had, well... a blast! Both Angie and Lesli got curly blowouts where I got a full, voluminous blowout with a little curl at the ends. I wanted curls, but I was worried my hair would look too short, because my length right now is only just past my shoulders. Looking back, I wish I would have gotten curls. Either way, it was really fun and I would definitely get a blowout again for a special occasion!

{Me and Angie after our blowouts}

After that we headed back to Rojo for another "snack" since we were all hungry! I got the chicken tortilla soup and it was delish! While sitting, sipping our margaritas and enjoying girl talk, we notice someone seated alone next to us on the patio who looked just like Nate Berkus. We were convinced he was Nate Berkus, but... he was just a look alike and apparently very annoyed at being mistaken for the cute talk show host. He wasn't very friendly! We all decided the real Nate Berkus would never be that be unfriendly!
{The Nate Berkus look-a-like}

After Rojo, we did a little shopping and then headed to downtown Minneapolis to meet up with our other friend Donna for dinner at Joe's Garage. I've always wanted to try this place because Lesli loves it so much! It was delicious and I really enjoyed it, but I was so full from chips, margaritas and soup earlier that I could hardly eat!
{Right before dinner at Joe's Garage}

Once we finished dinner we were pretty tired and decided to check into our hotel and lay down for a bit. Before we laid down though... we had to check the bed for bed bugs. Angie has a new(ish) obsession/fear of bed bugs and was kind enough to check our beds and make sure that we didn't have any of the creepy crawlies. Luckily, we didn't. Although... this (very nice) hotel WAS listed on the online registry for having bed bugs at one time.... Gross, right? I'm not holding it against them though, I'm pretty sure every hotel has had them. (And yes, there is an online registry for hotels with bed bugs. There's an iPhone app as well. You are welcome.)

{Ang checking the bed for bedbugs}

Well, us checking into the hotel in the early evening so we could lay down and rest, turned into us falling asleep at 9:30 pm! You know what happens when you fall asleep at 9:30 pm? You're up at 6:30 am the next day! I figured since I was up so early, I would go for a run. I'm not a really a fan of downtown running, because the distance is so deceiving, but I did not want to deal with the hassle of getting my car out of the garage and then finding a location to run.

I did a quick 2.5 mile lap around the block (I was worried about getting lost) and headed back to get in the shower about 25 minutes after I had left. I was hoping to run more, but I just wasn't feeling it. We had reservations for brunch at 11am and we still had a couple hours to kill, so Angie and I decided to rent a Nice Ride bike from Minneapolis's bike sharing program and go for a ride by the river. We ended up biking for an hour and biked 7 miles. I was really happy that we got in so much exercise while away from home because I always feel SO MUCH BETTER when I have worked up a good sweat. I did not feel guilty for the decadent eggs benedict that I ordered an hour later at Hell's Kitchen.
{Ang and I right before heading off on our hour long bike ride}

Lisa organized brunch at a popular breakfast joint downtown called Hell's Kitchen. This place reminded me a TON of Americana in downtown Des Moines and I loved it. They had live music and the wait staff dressed in themes (Sunday was pajama day). I ordered Portebello Benedict with hashbrowns and fruit and it was so good! I ate almost every last bite. After running and biking that morning, I was so hungry!

After breakfast, we said our goodbyes and Angie and I hit the road back to Iowa.
 {All five of us at Hell's Kitchen for brunch}

I love small overnight trips like this because it really refreshes me. I don't mind staying in hotels, I love seeing friends that I don't see often and I love trying out new places. Even just a short one and a half day trip leaves me feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle whatever is coming up the following week.

What celebrity do you think you look like? When I had brown hair, I got Kelly Clarkson all the time. Now that I have blonde hair, sometimes I get Reese Witherspoon and they both leave me feeling so tickled! (Although, I don't really see it!)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Amber's List

That title kind of sounds like Angie's List. Haha! This isn't about that website though. ;) 

I am a big fan of weekly to do lists and having a list of goals to hopefully get done each week keeps me accountable. My Erin Condren planner is a big help with goal setting each week, as there is a spot for goals and to-dos.

Classes are wrapping up, and this week I am working only a few hours, but I still have a hefty to do list. Which, is A-OK with me. I am at my best when I am very busy and I am glad I am aware of this quality of mine.

Here's a peek at my to-do list this week...
  • Pull the ol' bike out of the garage, fill the tires with air, and go on a nice long bike ride! Despite the 100 degree temps that are forecast each day this week, I will still get this done. Luckily, I know of a nice, shaded bike trail very close to me. Sunday morning while in Minneapolis, Angie and I went on a nice 7 mile bike ride through downtown Minneapolis (recap of trip coming tomorrow!) and it was so nice. I definitely want to bike more and want to make this happen. 
  • Plan my wardrobe for DC (it is going to be HOT) and then form a strategy for how to pack using only carry on luggage. Tips?
  • Finish the fourth (and last) section for my online class. It is due August 5th, but seeing as I will be gone at that time, I have to do it early. 
  • Pick up a copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and skim through it before Books 'n Bars next week. (When I read it, I borrowed my copy from the library)
  • Renew several certifications for work. ALL of my certifications have to be renewed each year, and all of mine are due to expire in August. I've got my work cut out for me! Luckily, all but one can be completed online and at home. 
This is pretty much it. It is definitely the kind of to do list I like. The perfect amount of work and play.

What's on your list for this week? Do you have a big week planned?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Club Friday

This weekend I am headed the 3 1/2 hours north to Minneapolis with one of my best friends to see a few good friends of mine that I met through blogging. I love when I can merge groups of friends, and I just adore that this friend of mine loves my blogging friends too. It makes me grin the big cheesy grin. :D

So far, we have planned to visit a blowout bar (I've never had a blowout done on my hair!), brunch at Hell's Kitchen and dinner at Joe's Garage. We're staying downtown and I am excited to use the Nice Ride! bike sharing program again like last year. Des Moines has a bike sharing program, but it is not near as widespread as Nice Ride! is.

I'm sure I will be back on Monday or Tuesday with lots of pictures!

It's Friday and that means I'm talking about the book I read this week.  It has been awhile since I've participated in Heather's Book Club Friday and I have missed it!

This week I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Jennifer Weiner's The Next Best Thing from the library.

The Des Moines Public Library has a fantastic Bestseller Express system and you can check out bestelling books for $1, I am huge fan of this system because I tend to forget to put books on hold until a few weeks before they come out and I have been focusing on curbing my nasty book buying habit. I've allowed myself about $25-30/month on books and I have done a pretty decent job of sticking to that budget so far this year. If I can use the library, I will.

For the first 170 pages or so, I was rather bored while reading it. The protagonist in the story is a very strong female named Ruth (sometimes Ruthie). Ruth had endured quite a tragedy at a young age and was left in the care of her grandmother. From a very young age Ruth wrote down stories, her stories and other stories, her grandmother encouraged her to just write. So, she did. Ruth ends up in television writing and moving to Los Angeles, CA.

I really enjoyed the character of Ruth and her grandmother. They're both strong and extremely likable. The story was interesting and learning some of the behind the scenes information on television writing was cool. I also couldn't help but assume that some of Jennifer Weiner's own experience with her television show, State of Georgia crept into the story as well.

My only problem was how slow the beginning was. Actually, more than just the beginning. More like 170 pages. I just felt like I was slogging through it. By the last third of the book I was flipping pages quickly in anticipation and I enjoyed the end, but I just hated that it took so long to get into it.

I would definitely recommend this to Jennifer Weiner fans, but if you haven't read any of her books yet, I would start with Good In Bed or In Her Shoes - two of my absolute faves by Jennifer Weiner.

I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, but if I could, I would have given it 3.5. Do not let this deter you, though. Jennifer Weiner is a fantastic author and she writes the best characters. I have fallen in love with almost all of her main characters and will probably always pick up her work.

Have you read any good books lately? I feel like it's been awhile since I've read a book that just blew me away. I'm craving something GREAT. 

PS: This is post number 777 so, it must be lucky or something! ;)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hit the road, Jack.

I slept like a rock last night and got a solid 8 hours of sleep, finally. The past few weeks I have been working so much and between that and wrapping up the four classes I took this summer, I am wiped.

When little things start to annoy me, little things that shouldn't annoy me, I know I am too tired. Or, when my living space is a complete mess and I do not care about the dishes in the sink and the completely chaotic bedroom, I am too tired. When I start to take everything personally, that is when I know I have over-done it.

For the most part I think I'm handling the schedule well. I am at my best when I am really busy, but I think this is a smidge too busy. The two weeks prior to this, I put in 100 hours so that I can ensure a check that will pad my vacation to Washington D.C. in two weeks. I do not think I will ever do that again, because those two weeks I was pretty grumpy and I definitely needed some space.

I am so ready for a vacation, though. So ready, that my good friend Ang and I decided to plan a quick weekend trip 4 hours north to Minneapolis to just get away from it all. Even if it just for a night. I know I will come back feeling a bit more energized, especially after getting to see two good friends, Lesli and Lisa.

Then, a week after that, I will go on my big summer vacation to our nation's capital to see Becky, Molly, Mandy and possibly Julie. I am beyond excited and I think I have said, "I am so excited!" about a bajillion times. 

I'm just ready to hit the road, I guess!

Although sometimes, I don't see how some people do it. They are constantly going on vacations and doing things that require money, and I wonder what their secret is?  I know I took a giant (and temporary) step backwards financially in life to attend graduate school, but even when I was making a normal salary (for Des Moines, IA) I could not go on multiple vacations a year. And it's not like I have an outrageous amount of bills! I would say I am pretty typical with rent, utilities, car payment and (when I'm not in school) a student loan payment as my larger bills.

Anyway, that was a random side rant. Or, not even rant really, just simple curiosity. Maybe someday I will figure out the secret. Or, maybe someday I will figure out how to be a better saver. Or, a saver + planner together. I am good at planning, and if I could couple that planning with savings each week that would make a big difference.

Well, this post was all over the place and I did not intend it to be!

How do you save for vacations? Do you save your change? (my sister does that). Do you set aside a separate savings account? Do you book as much as possible far in advance? (that is my favorite method).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My new best friend (or obsession, however you look at it)

When I find something I like, I LIKE it, I LOVE it and become completely obsessed with it and right now? I'm obsessed.

I have found this great app and it's called Instagram.

Oh, did you say it's not new? You've had it for ages? Fine.


Yes, I know it's not new. I've had it for as long as I've had my iPhone,  I just didn't use it. I felt like it would be one more step in taking and posting pictures, so I just didn't use it. I'm lazy like that.

Boy, oh boy was I ever WRONG. It's not an extra step at all. In fact, it makes things EASIER and if you've ever wanted to "like" a tweet a la Facebook, then Instagram is your new BFF. I love the like feature on there and I think I that I like almost every single photo that people post.

I know I'm late to this party, but I just had to profess my Instagram love in a blog post.

Do you use Instagram regularly? If not, why not?

Here is one of my favorite photos taken recently. Doesn't the cloud look like a dog?!  (and for those of you that follow me on Twitter and Instagram. I am sorry, I'm not sorry for all the Instagram pictures I am posting) 

BTW, is there a way to upload these pictures onto your computer? I spent way too much time trying to figure out how and I ended up just taking a screen shot of this one!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Necessary Meltdowns

Last week was a really long week. I had a near meltdown on Friday night when I logged into the chatroom for a scheduled (and required) chat with my group. (Yes, it was scheduled on a Friday night. Don't ask.)

I logged in right on time, but I was still the last one there, and by that time responsibilities were doled out and I got stuck with taking notes and turning them into our prof. I was kind of annoyed because I had a 10 page paper due on Saturday to put together (the paper was in bits and pieces and basically outlined) and stuff to finish for this online class that was due on Sunday night. I was a sport though.

I'm not a fan of these online chats. It is hard to completely understand what people mean without hearing their tone of voice and they're just not that beneficial to me. I would rather post discussions like those on a discussion board and reply on my own time.

Luckily, after the chat was done, and the notes were typed up and turned in, I was feeling much calmer. Sometimes I just need the freak-out moment, ya know? By Saturday afternoon I had my paper put together and I was ready to proofread it the rest of the day and then turn it in by midnight.

Did you know I'm a procrastinator? It's a terrible disease. I'm trying to get better. Really.

So, now I am down from four summer classes to just one. I finished the first three successfully with few meltdowns and now I just have two more sections of this last online class to finish up then I will be done with the summer semester and will have a chance to relax until fall semester starts on August 27th.

I'm so ready for this down time and I'm really looking forward to a bunch of fun stuff coming up.

Did you take summer classes? What are you looking forward to during the last half of the summer?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What I'm loving Wednesday

Hey, hey, hey! :)

Wednesday always makes me think of What I'm Loving Wednesday and I love when I can link up with Jamie and participate!

This week I am loving...

Amber and Eric got married on Monday! I am so happy for them and I wish them all the happiness in the world!

♥ This delicious and random dinner I made last night. I was low on Weight Watcher points and needed something for dinner low in points (read: high in volume, low on calories). I threw together what veggies I had (squash, zucchini, mushrooms and an ear of corn) stir fried it with some cajun seasoning and olive oil, topped with a little feta (cause everything's betta with feta!) and voila! It's not the prettiest meal in the world (some tomatoes and carrots would have helped that) but it was tasty and spiiiicy! My lips were on fire!

♥ This week is the last week of the pay period for the check that I will get before I head to Washington D.C. on my big summer trip, so I really packed in the hours. I'm working 60 hours! Why am I loving that you ask? Well, my job is always on the go, always with different people and I usually get to do things with the clients that are good for me as well - like exercise! Yesterday I got in four miles on the trail with clients. Can't beat that, right?!

♥ Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I'm seriously in love with this band, I have been listening to them nonstop and I cannot wait to see them live on July 26th!

♥ A recent trip to the Animal Rescue League. A client I work with has a goal to volunteer more in the community so I suggested we check out the ARL to see if that was something she might like to do (it wasn't) and I fell in love with so many of the dogs and cats there. I seriously need a farm with lots of land so I can rescue all of the animals there. I loved the trip there, but I didn't love that they've been so full at the ARL lately.... Please adopt your pets! And spay and neuter them. Please!

♥ This week I'm headed to see Ingrid Michaelson at Nitefall on the River. Lisa got me interested in this fantastic singer and needless to say, I'm hooked!

Okcupid.com ... yep, you read that right. I decided to check out this site since I was coming across some major douchebags on Match. Dare I say that I am pleasantly surprised so far? It's only been a couple days though, so we'll see what happens. Regardless, I'm sure I will end up with stories.  Stories that I promise to share. :)


♥ 12 people are RSVP'd for Books 'n Bars! This makes me very happy, and I hope everyone loves The Perks of Being a Wallflower. If you're local you should join us!

♥ Half marathon training started this week. I'm loving this because I feel so much better, happier and healthier when I exercise everyday. I'm trying to become a morning runner, but it's not working out. Right now I'm just happy that the running is getting done, period! 

What are you loving this week? 

Sunday, July 8, 2012


For the past four years I have wanted to attend Des Moines' biggest (and only?) summer music festival but it's always on the fourth of July weekend and for some reason or another I couldn't go. Usually I was at the lake for this weekend or out of town somewhere. This weekend that all changed!

The weather was almost unbearably hot, but we were troopers and we handled the heat like pros. At the beginning of the day I made a vow to myself to NOT complain about the heat. There's nothing you can do about it, so what's the point of bitching? I think I did a good job. Luckily, we had several avenues for respite from the heat. A friend had an apartment that overlooks Western Gateway Park (where the festival is located) and we cooled off in the air conditioning every so often. Also, running through the park is a deliciously relaxing stream that was perfect to just sit with your feet in it. Without both of these providing us a way to cool off, the 100 degree humid Iowa weather would have been intolerable!

Friday night we got to the festival around 6pm and I'm not really sure what time we left. I had a little too much fun Friday night and was feeling reallllly rough Saturday morning. Around noon I dragged my sorry butt out of bed and headed back to the festival. My plan was to stay for just a few hours and then head back home to nurse my hangover, but before I knew it the day was almost over and I was still going strong! I ended up staying the entire time and I'm so glad I did because I had a great time and met some really great people!

Here are some pictures from both days!

{Friday night started off just right. We snagged a table and camped there the entire time}

 {I took very few group pictures, but I love this one of Caroline and I!}

 {I'm so proud of Des Moines!}

 {So pretty. I love that all the lights are on in the downtown buildings}

 {Friday night we headed to Court Ave after the shows - this was probably a bad idea for me, but I had a great time anyway!}

 {Saturday in between acts I pulled out a book and enjoyed a little reading time! 
Yep, I was that girl. :p}

 {Notice the kid in the water? He's got the right idea. Gotta stay cool!}

 {The main stage with the Principal building to the right}

 {A steamy self portrait!}

 {Painted people! They were supposed to be robots - it was definitely interesting!}

 {I loved this. Mine are numbers 2 and 3!}

 {The couple that we were with are the bottom two. So sweet!}

 {The final act on the main stage, Death Cab for Cutie}

 {We got smart and watched the rest of Death Cab from an air conditioned apartment!}

So, that was my first 80/35 experience!

For those of you not from the area, here's a little history. Are you wondering why it is called 80/35? 80 and 35 are the two interstates that run through Des Moines. Yep, there are only two. We're a relatively good sized city, but it's still pretty small. I've lived in a big city before (Kansas City) and I think DSM is the perfect size. We have everything a big city offers, imo. (except an IKEA. Ha.)

Western Gateway Park, the area that the festival is in, used to be a dump. No, not a real dump, just... dumpy. In fact, all of the downtown area was pretty dreary. In the past decade the Downtown Community Alliance and the Greater Des Moines Partnership have really done so much for the city. As someone that has grown up here and lived here (almost) my entire life, I have seen downtown go from a ghost town to a thriving urban core. I love it!

When someone says "Iowa" what's the first thing you think of? (I'm guessing it is not "thriving urban core." LOL)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Sisters - Book Club Friday

I'm pretty sure it's impossible to think of Judy Blume and not think of the classic books we read as kids about growing up and learning about the birds and the bees. I have fond memories of reading all of the Fudge books, Are You there God? It's Me, Margaret and, of course, Forever.

When Judy Blume released the adult novel, Summer Sisters, I was still in high school. Since then I think I have read this book many many times over. My copy is bent up and pages are beginning to fall out. I love this story and will probably continue rereading every once in awhile!

From Goodreads:

       When Victoria Leonard answers the phone in her Manhattan office, Caitlin's voice catches her by surprise. Vix hasn't talked to her oldest friend in months. Caitlin's news takes her breath away--and Vix is transported back in time, back to the moment she and Caitlin Somers first met, back to the casual betrayals and whispered confessions of their long, complicated friendship, back to the magical island where two friends became summer sisters.
       Caitlin dazzled Vix from the start, sweeping her into the heart of the unruly Somers family, into a world of privilege, adventure, and sexual daring. Vix's bond with her summer family forever reshapes her ties to her own, opening doors to opportunities she had never imagined--until the summer she falls passionately in love. Then, in one shattering moment on a moonswept Vineyard beach, everything changes, exposing a dark undercurrent in her extraordinary friendship with Caitlin that will haunt them through the years.
       As their story carries us from Santa Fe to Martha's Vineyard, from New York to Venice, we come to know the men and women who shape their lives. And as we follow the two women on the paths they each choose, we wait for the inevitable reckoning to be made in the fine spaces between friendship and betrayal, between love and freedom.
       Summer Sisters is a riveting exploration of the choices that define our lives, of friendship andlove, of the families we are born into and those we struggle to create. For every woman who has ever had a friend too dangerous to forgive and too essential to forget, Summer Sisters will glue you to every 

The story has a very "Beaches" feel to it (also one of my favorite movies!), but it is still unique and original. The emotions that Vix goes through are so easy to relate to and it's hard not to fall in love with Vix and be entranced by Caitlin (even if you do want to smack her).

If you haven't read this book, you should pick up a copy and read it this summer. You'll remember why you loved Judy Blume!  

Today I am linking up with Heather - if you need something good to read, just check out the recs from all of the fabulous bloggers that link up each week!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Getting back in gear (hopefully)

Howdy! How was your holiday? Those of you not in the States, how was your week??

This week was weird for me. My moods are all over the freaking place and I think it's because my workout schedule got all out of whack this week. I was going really strong with Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, and then on Sunday I went out of town for a quick day trip down to Kansas City to attend a graduation party and I didn't get a chance to workout. That started an almost week long spiral of being "too busy."

This is absolutely ridiculously, who can't fit in a 20 minute workout? Being too busy is just an excuse.

 {This is what's on my bathroom mirror... yes, I run so I can eat more and drink more beer. Don't you?}

Today I got my butt back in gear and did an hour long work out (including the Shred!) and I felt great. It's so true when they say you're one workout away from a good mood.

This week I also decided on another half marathon to run. I'm running Mason City's On the Road for Education on October 14th. This gives me a good long time to train and really spend some quality time trying to get better. The rest of the summer and the fall semester should be relatively tame, so I'm thinking this is totally doable. It definitely won't be as intense as it was when I was juggling 18 credits, working (almost) full time and training for Dam to Dam!

Besides working out (and not working out) I've been keeping pretty busy. I've been working full time at the agency (sometimes more than full time), taking classes (I'm finally down from 4 classes to 2) and everything else is going okay. I'm still pretty pissed off at guys, but I'm hopeful and confident that one will come along and show me they're not all bad. 

For the 4th I celebrated by going to the beach (well, Des Moines's closest thing to a beach. Big Creek.) Then we headed to my friend Alexson's BBQ get-together where I got the chance to meet up with one of my favorite Juice writers EVER, and local blogger, Brianne from BS in the Midwest! I love meeting people that you've conversed with on the internet, but don't know IRL. It's like meeting up with an old friend! This week I have actually met three blogger/twitter friends, Manon, Chandra and Brianne. That's got to be a record for me! ;)

This weekend I'm headed to 80/35, and I am so excited! This music festival is in it's fifth year, and this is the first year I have the chance to attend. Considering I grew up in Des Moines and hold the city so close to my heart, it's a shame that I haven't been able to make it to this event. That all changes this year!

I'm hoping I can get back in the blogging mood soon. I have a million posts (okay, maybe 3) floating around in my head but actually sitting down to write them is just a totally different story.

What did you do for the holiday? Do you have any fun plans this weekend?

Monday, July 2, 2012

You Oughta Know...

As the majority of you know, dating sucks. People that say that dating is fun, are lying through their teeth. Maybe it's fun when you meet the right person, but up until that time, it literally makes me want to throw breakable objects across the room and shout curse words at the top of my lungs.

I've been on Match.com off and on since 2007, sounds pathetic, right? I've had two successful relationships from it, and both of them have taught me lessons. I'm really shy around new people at first so meeting guys through this medium has been the best option, the most comfortable option, but this option also brings some major douchebags out of the woodwork.

Take today. There was this guy, let's call him Top Sider, which is a synonym for his last name. (ha, TS if you're reading this, you deserve this). We emailed for awhile, then graduated to text messages and then after a couple days he found me on Facebook. That's fine, I'm not even on there that much. Due to my schedule we couldn't get a date nailed down to meet up, but about a week later I mentioned Monday the 2nd. He said that sounded great. We threw around a couple of ideas of favorite bars in our shared neighborhood and the date was set.

So I thought.

Today I text Top Sider and ask him how his weekend was. A couple of hours later I realized he hadn't responded. Hmm, I thought, that's weird because since we began texting he has always responded right away.

Then, I check Top Sider's Facebook. Who knows, maybe he's up to something important today and he has a status about it.

Oh, we're not friends anymore. (Well, FB friends, which is something completely different from "friends")

That, is a total douchebag move. Adult men (he's 33) still do this. Stand women up, no explanation, no nothing. It's bullshit. I'm glad I didn't get a chance to meet Top Sider because, he's a complete tool and he's not worthy of spending an hour drinking a beer or two with me.

Oh well, his loss. I know it's not me.

I wanted to watch The Bachelorette tonight anyway. Pretty sure Emily wouldn't have sent the snippy text to Top Sider that I did an hour ago, but whatever.