Monday, July 24, 2017

Music Monday: Kesha - "Praying"

The latest single from Kesha is so much different from anything she previously released. She's been known for her poppy party songs, but "Praying" allows her to really display her talent and it has an awesome message.

"Praying" is a long overdue release. After a messy legal battle with her record label, in which they would not release her despite her allegations of physical and emotional abuse against her producer. It was a horrendous deal and I'm still outraged that they would force her to remain in her contract.

Still, if the battle is what helped bring this latest song out of her, maybe she'll be the one with the last laugh. Seriously. It's incredible.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Sweats: Two race recaps

In 2016, I did a race every month (and a few bonus ones). It was fun but also kind of expensive. This year, I've cut back on the number of race entries, but I really miss running with a group of people. Races helped me push myself and continue with my training.

Thankfully, the Des Moines Corporate Games came along. I did the 5K road race for that event, which gave me a free race! A co-worker also asked if I would do the running portion of the triathalon for the corporate games. She wanted to do the bike and swim. I advised her I wasn't fast and she said that was fine. Well ... then she left the company. Two other people were chosen to fill the triathalon team. I immediately emailed both men (one of whom is a VP at the company) and advised them of my running pace. Both said that was just fine and they were doing it more for the accomplishment than a first place finish.

The triathalon was on a Sunday morning. I got out of bed at 5:30 so I could have a light breakfast and Sean and I could get on the road by 6. It took us a while (and some arguing with my GPS) to find the race location. When I got there, I immediately found the swimmer for our team (the VP). Perfect. Now we just needed our cyclist so we could check in and get situated. We waited. And waited. And waited. The VP swimmer called the cyclist. No answer. We hoped he was on his way and just one of those people who doesn't answer his phone when he's driving. He might be. But I don't think that was the case on this morning. By 7 a.m. (one hour before race time), we began to lose hope he would show up. And when 7:30 arrived without him, we had to scratch. Sigh.

I was so disappointed. Even though I was nervous about running (especially on a course where no headphones or earbuds were allowed), I was also excited to see how a triathalon worked. And I was all ready to run.

So, when we got home, Sean joined me for a 5K. It was humid and we were slow, but we did it.

I guess sometimes you have to improvise when plans fall through.

Six days later, on the following Saturday, I headed downtown for my second Diva Dash 5K. I really enjoyed the race last year. It raises funds and awareness for Girls on the Run, a fantastic organization that teaches girls life skills, decision-making, and goal-setting through running. I love it. Also, I was part of a team this year through my office. There were about 20 of us in all, and it was nice to have a cheering section all along the way.

The route starts kind of rough -- with a steep incline up and around the state capitol. The climb took a lot out of me and I ended up walking much of the first mile. Not like me at all. And I have problems when I'm running -- if I stop to walk, it's hard to get going again. Fortunately for me, one of my teammates came along and said, "run with me for a little while." I was able to pick it up and jog with her for a while and when she was ready to walk, I felt good enough to keep running. I ran the rest of the route and felt really good when I crossed the finish line.

My time wasn't too bad considering how much walking I did. I'm pretty proud of it. Although I do have one goal for next year -- finish in the top 10 of my age division instead of only 14th out of 15.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off

Monday - Britt's Boot Camp (30 mins)

Tuesday - Off

Wednesday - Strength, cardio, and core workout with my workout buddy (30 mins) + Fit Fusion (60 mins)

Thursday - Tabata (30 mins)
Friday - Off
Saturday - Strength, cardio, and core workout with my workout buddy (45 mins)

As always, be sure to check out Sunday Sweats posts from Holly and Christy.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

This & That 7/6

:: Last Friday, we went to see Ed Sheeran in concert. It was my second time seeing Ed live and Sean's first. It was a fantastic experience. We both had a great time.

:: I don't like holidays that fall in the middle of the week (i.e. July 4th this year). It really messes up the rest of the week for me. I worked Monday, had Tuesday off, and was back the rest of the week. It just felt weird all the way around.

:: I'm doing the running portion of a triathalon on Sunday. I've already warned my teammates that I am not fast. Fortunately, they seem to be OK with that. I'm still nervous though. I'm used to my races just being for me and for fun. This is a whole new level of pressure. Oh, and I'm doing a 5K the following Saturday too.  Oops.

:: Sean and I worked on adding things to our wedding registry over the weekend. It's so weird asking people to buy us things. And I have no idea how many items is enough. I'm assuming one per two guests or so. Any advice?
BTW, alcohol is totally on our wedding registry.

:: My birthday is coming up in a few weeks. Usually I get very excited about that day, week, month. This year, I'm just feeling blah about it so far. Hopefully I'll start feeling more festive about it soon.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wedding Wednesday: We need a hashtag

Sean and I met on Twitter, so clearly we're into social media.

We plan to have a custom Snapchat filter for our wedding day (supposedly this is easy to do, but I haven't put a lot of work into it yet). We'd also like to have a hashtag for Instagram, Twitter, and anywhere else we might be able to search and find photos from and of our guests.

We've talked about the hashtag quite a bit. Our friends and one of his brothers have offered suggestions, but we don't love any of them yet.

Our wedding date is 6-9, which could be trouble in some ways.
Our first initials are S and M. Again, not the greatest combination.
He has a longish last name that can be hard to spell. 
We'd like it to have something to do with baseball (since that's our theme), but it's not required.

Can you help, blog world?

If we end up choosing a hashtag suggested by one of you, I'll make sure there's some kind of prize or reward in it for you.

Thanks in advance!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Music Monday: Shawn Mendes - "There's Nothin' Holdin' Me Back"

It's a good thing I don't believe in guilty pleasures. Why should I feel bad about liking something?  If I did buy into that, however, I'd probably put Shawn Mendes on the list. I enjoy his music more than a woman in her mid-30s should, but I don't care. This song makes me crank it up and dance in my car.

Do you subscribe to the idea of guilty pleasures? If so, what's a recent song that fits this for you?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday Sweats: June fitness recap

June goals:
- Run at least twice a week. (Even if it's only a mile. I need to get those legs moving again.)
I think I did this three weeks out of the four. I'm calling it a victory.
-10 push-ups at least five days a week.
Did it. I'm still not great at push-ups, but I'll keep pushing!

Number of days I worked out: 20 -- Not bad considering I took a big break during the arts festival.

Miles Ran: 11 (I'm honestly surprised the number was this high. It didn't feel like this many.)


July goals:
- Run a 5K every week. Holly posted about doing this, and I think it's a great idea!
- Go to yoga in the park at least once.


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off

Monday - Off

Tuesday - WOD Strength (30 mins) + Group Run (30 mins)

Wednesday - Strike (30 mins)

Thursday - Barre & Cardio Fusion -- TWICE (30 mins each)
Friday - 2-mile run
Saturday - FitFusion (60 mins)

As always, be sure to check out Sunday Sweats posts from Holly and Christy.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Best of the Bunch: June 2017

I've been running for a handful of years now. It wasn't always easy. At times, it's still hard. Monica has some advice for how to stick with running.

Holly is one reason I stick with running. She's so inspiring to me. Recently, she wrote about how she runs one 5K a week. I might have to steal that idea.

I haven't made it to the theaters to see "Wonder Woman" yet, but I really want to. Karen's post on why Wonder Woman is great has made me even more excited to see this movie.

I've been warned by friends that the "when are you having kids?" and "are you pregnant?" questions will be looming after I get married. Juliette shared some real stories of times she's been interrogated about the status of her womb. Sigh. Not looking forward to this.

I'm still in the midst of wedding planning and I'm taking in all the advice being tossed at me (and there's a lot). I liked quite a few of the points Taylor made regarding wedding do's and don'ts. I'll be keeping them in mind as I proceed.

Kristin wrote about failure, how she perceives it and works through it. I related to so much of her post. Setbacks (personal or professional) can be so defeating and deflating. It can be hard to see how anything positive could come out of them.

Joey offered another perspective on struggles and why it's important to keep going.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

This & That 6/29

1 :: I introduced my new book last week. There's been a decent response and I'm so grateful for the support, but I'm a little sad it got less attention than when I got engaged. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about getting married. But I worked hard on that book (as I do all of them). Why is it that we celebrate some life achievements more than others?

2 :: I am really struggling lately with my emotions and some friendship insecurities. I think being burned out has let some anxiety and depression take over. I have moments where I'm not sure I matter to anyone who isn't Sean or my immediately family. Logically, I know that's not true, but I don't know how to turn off those thoughts.
How I'm feeling, but the kitten is much cuter than I am.

3 :: I feel like sharing the above item is important. I'm not looking for pity or reassurance. I'm just offering some transparency. Too often, I read the blogs of others and think their lives look perfect. I think it's key to share struggles too.

4 :: My parents recently bought us a grill. We've been researching and thinking about it for a while but just hadn't actually made the purchase. I'm so excited at this new addition and look forward to lots of summer meals. What's your favorite thing to grill?

5 :: This weekend will be a long one for some people. My company is only closed on Tuesday (the 4th). And Sean doesn't get a day off at all for the holiday. We're both kind of bummed as we had been planning to spend the time with family. But we just keep reminding ourselves that it won't be like this forever.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

TWTW: Arts Fest

Weekends are supposed to be relaxing. I'm sure they are for some people. I still haven't figured out how to make them relaxing for me. Well, I know what would make them relaxing but for various reasons, I cannot make those changes. So ... instead I just stay busy.

Over the last few days, I worked both of my jobs, volunteered with the Des Moines Arts Festival, enjoyed said arts festival, helped a friend move, and checked out a local happy hour with a friend.

But, really, arts fest consumed most of my time and energy. This was my third year as an office manager for the festival. My duties included attending monthly meetings and then basically holding down the headquarters during the festival. To put it simply, I helped organize the headquarters, set up meals for the other volunteers, let them know when food arrived, reminded them of when meetings were, helped people find things in the office, and helped pack up headquarters when the event was over. It's always a fun time but a lot of work. This year, we had gorgeous weather, which was nice, and by all accounts it was a very successful festival.

Here are some scenes from my weekend:
A new coffee shop just opened right behind the festival office. It was a godsend for my two morning shifts.

The festival grounds were packed for much of the time. I snagged this pic from our facebook page because I didn't get to see the crowds like this. As office manager, I was contained to our festival headquarters.

This is what I saw most of my time in the office. I didn't get as much reading done this year though.

I did get out to see the Secret Walls event on Friday evening. Two teams had 90 minutes to create their pieces. Incredible!
Saturday night, I was alone in the festival office most of the time. But I was OK with that after a hectic day.
This is my crew. Well, some of them. It takes a lot of people to put on an award-winning festival.

And now I'm back to work.

Honestly, even though I'm sad about the festival being over, I'm glad to get back to my routine. I need and like routine.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Introducing my latest book baby

Just over a year ago, I released Dropped Third Strike, the first in a baseball romance series. I had started that story several years ago, put it down, and then picked it back up again a few years ago. It took me quite a while to finish, but I did finish it, and people seemed to enjoy it.

The follow up, Behind in the Count, has had a little bit of a different life so far. I started writing that story shortly after midnight on November 1, 2015, for National Novel Writing Month. I finished it on the evening of December 9, 2015. Seriously. I wrote a full novel in that time span. Well, the first draft anyway. Since then, there have been edits, re-reads, revisions, and more re-reads. So many re-reads. Writing a novel is more than just drafting the story. That's only the beginning of a very long process.

I am really excited to get this story out into the world. I'm enamored with the main characters, especially the lead guy. There's just something about him that's compelling. I knew it when I introduced him in Dropped Third Strike. I could tell instantly that I needed to delve more into his life and issues. So I did. He's a very emotional character, so writing him was kind of exhausting at times, but it also made me love him that much more.

Here's the summary (because I'm sure no one can read it on the photo above):

Derek Beaman had it all – a career in baseball, a marriage with his high school sweetheart, and a newborn daughter. Then, he suffered an injury that sent him into a downward spiral, and he lost it all. After a break and recovery, he’s getting a second chance at his Major League Baseball aspirations with the Portland Pioneers. His future as a pitcher is bright, but he’s still contending with the demons of his past.

Zella Hansen is pursuing her lifelong dream of a career in baseball management. Her role in the Pioneers’ front office introduces her to Derek. Zella soon realizes her feelings are more than just an admiration of his talent, but Derek’s history may be enough to end the game early.

The book is now available for Kindle pre-order (for delivery on July 1) and paperbacks can be ordered now. Amazon is the main source, but it will be available through other outlets as well.

If you have any questions about the book or this series, please ask away.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

This & That 6/22

1 :: Casey had to go to the vet last weekend for a teeth cleaning. I knew there was a chance they'd also need to remove a tooth or two. Thankfully it was just one. She was groggy and pathetic-looking when I picked her up. I was a little more broke when I picked her up. (The cleaning was covered on her wellness plan. The anesthesia, tooth removal, pain meds, etc. were not.) Good thing I'd been putting money aside for my wedding dress. This only set me back about two weeks.

2 :: It's funny how social media has made us somewhat less social. I'm guilty of it. Whenever I find a dull moment, I'm on my phone. I'm trying to be better. When I'm out with friends, I usually put my phone away. Or at least turn it upside down in front of me. I love Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., but I'm trying to be more present with the people around me.

3 :: The Des Moines Arts Festival is this weekend. I volunteer on the event management team. This means I'll be spending a lot of time downtown. And with people. Good thing I took Monday off for some introvert recovery time. Also, after tomorrow, there might not be any new blog posts until Tuesday.

4 ::  I'm revealing the cover and the release date of my latest novel tomorrow. I hope you'll come back and check it out.

What's up with you this week?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer is for fun

I work a lot. And I'm planning a wedding. And working on novels. I don't hate these things, but they are a lot of work. And stress.

To balance all of that, I think I need to make sure to infuse a little fun into my summer.

Here are a few things I want to make sure I do over the next few months:

1 :: Walk or bike to the High Trestle Bridge.
I have been trying to get to this place for the last few years. I haven't made it yet. Ideally, I'd bike out there, but I may have to settling for walking.

2 :: Visit Adventure Bay.
I'm at a point in my life where I don't enjoy amusement park rides anymore, so Adventureland doesn't appeal to me. The water park portion, however, does. I can get discount tickets through my work. I just need to find a swimsuit and head out there. Lazy river and swim up bar, here I come.

3 :: Watch fireworks.
They're one of my most favorite things about summer -- except when people set them off on random nights when I just want to go to sleep. I'm good with them on the 4th of July and at town festivals. Otherwise, no. Anyhow ... I need to make sure as many displays as possible this summer. 

4 :: Take in some outdoor music.
Live music. Beer. Fresh air. It needs to happen.

5 :: Master sun tea.
I used to love this stuff growing up. I don't know what my mom's secret was, but I haven't been able to make it so it tastes as good. I'll keep trying! Anyone have any tips or tricks?

What do you want to accomplish or check off your list this summer?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Music Monday: My Red + Blue - "It Was You"

Regardless of my relationship status, I've always been a sucker for a good love song. I even have a playlist of my favorite love songs. Yep. Not even sorry about that. As a girl with green eyes, I've always felt there were more songs about brown eyes and blue eyes. Thank goodness I discovered My Red + Blue so I could swoon over this song.

Sigh. I love it. Thanks for writing it, Ben.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday Sweats: Flexible workout plans

I start each week with a fitness agenda. Inspired by Holly, I've started sharing my weekly workout plan on Instagram each Monday.

A post shared by Micah Chaplin (@thebestmicah) on

Sometimes I stick to it 100 percent. But that's very rare. Too often, plans change.

My plans changed a few times this week.

The first time was on Tuesday when my office workout buddy asked if I'd like to start doing morning classes in addition to noon classes. I thought about it for a few moments before agreeing. I used to love morning workouts. They're a good way to start the day. Also, I've been frustrated lately with the lack of change I'm seeing in my body. The scale hasn't moved at all in a few months. So maybe the noon workouts aren't cutting it anymore. Maybe I need to shake it up. To top off all that, I was intrigued by the morning class offerings and was happy to check them out. So we started our two-a-day routine on Thursday. So far, I'm enjoying it. 

The second time was on Saturday. I fully intended to go for a run after I took my cat to the vet for a teeth cleaning. But as I was moving around to get her ready to go, my body just felt fatigued. And after the week I put it through, I shouldn't be surprised. So I decided to listen to my body and just rest. Sometimes the body needs rest more than it needs activity.

As a planner, sometimes it drives me crazy to go off-schedule. But this past week, I think it worked in my favor.  Sure, it means I didn't get a single run in, but I'm trying not to beat myself up over that.

The coming week will be a challenge with the additional obligation of the arts festival, but I'm going to do my best to stick to my plan.

How do you handle shake-ups in your routine?


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Total Cardio Xtreme (30 mins)
Tuesday - Booty Camp Class (30 mins)
Wednesday - Tabata (30 mins) + Fit Fusion (60 mins)
Thursday - Warrior Strength (30 mins) + Barre/Cardio Class (30 mins)
Friday - HIIT class (30 mins)
Saturday - Off

As always, be sure to check out Sunday Sweats posts from Holly and Christy.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A mini house tour

I've been promising a tour of our new place since we moved in three months ago. There are still a lot of empty walls and some projects we want to tackle, but for the most part, we're settled. So here it goes. Fair warning -- I did not do any staging, I simply took photos when the house was at its tidiest.

The front door that no one uses because our driveway is in the back. We enter through the garage into the kitchen and usually have our guests do the same.

 The kitchen. We love the amount of space we have (probably double what I had in my apartment), and we like our beer growler collection (on top of the cupboards) too. 

The dining area. The table was Sean's grandpa's before he moved into assisted living. I really like it, and it's nice to have something with some sentimental value. We plan to recover the chair cushions eventually.

The living room. Cleo thought she'd be a model. I love all the natural light and the fireplace. For above the fireplace, we're seeking a print or photo of the Des Moines skyline. We haven't found it yet. We'll probably do a gallery display on the other big wall. Also, yes that's an 'N Sync blanket on the ottomans (covering the corners the cats have destroyed).

 Our little patio off the living room. I love having the view of the pond.

My bathroom. I originally had the one right off the bedroom but the shower was not very conducive to leg shaving. Or all my products. So the one in the hallway is mine now.

The guest room. Nothing fancy. Only Sean's parents have stayed in it so far. Anyone want to come visit?

Our bedroom. That bed is my favorite purchase ever. The room has a music theme (see my Parachute and Ben Rector show posters and his Dave Matthews Band poster). We're still searching for something to put over the bed. And also a headboard.

Sean's bathroom and our closet. It's not picture perfect. This is real life. Deal with it.

There's also an unfinished basement and a half bath off the kitchen, but neither of those things is really photo worthy. The laundry is at the top of the stairs on the second level.

It's pretty basic at this point, but we're just happy to be in a place that's all ours. Once the wedding is out of the way, maybe we'll start thinking about the little projects we want to do.

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