a dog story.

Hey guys!  A lot of you who follow me on Insta and FB will likely know some of this story already – but for the rest of you, I was inspired this morning to share some happenings in my little family.

I’ve already mentioned on a couple occasions that I love animals.  I take after my dad in that regard; it’s in my DNA to *always* live in a house where I’m outnumbered by animals.  When I came into the picture, Dave already had two dogs (Jack and Charlie) and then we Brady-Bunched together with my two cats and added one more for good measure (Marty).

In mid-February, sweet Charlie was diagnosed with lymphoma.  The diagnosis to decline was too rapid.  His little lymph nodes were huge and he went from being the Charlie we knew to being completely disinterested in food or firetrucks – two things that previously excited him.  We did everything we could to adjust and prepare for his struggle ahead.  There were quite a few good days we were lucky enough to share with our friend, but unfortunately the disease was more accelerated than we anticipated and we lost him early last month.  It was so much harder than I’d anticipated and anyone who has lost a furry family member knows what I mean.  We had less than ZERO plans to add to the pack since the loss hit us so hard.

Like all good things in life, what happened next was not planned.

A good friend of Dave’s is affiliated with/works for an animal shelter in Elgin, IL.  He had posted on FB about some dogs they went to retrieve from a shelter in Oklahoma.  One thing led to another and we got talking about one of the dogs.  She had such a heartbreaking story but a strong spirit and a very hopeful future since she’d been rescued.  Once we heard her story, there was no way she couldn’t be ours.  In her very short 9 months on this Earth, she’d been through the unspeakable.  Despite that, she still had a lot of love and sweetness in her heart – a testament to the resilience of dogs.  We realized we were able and ready to give her the life and love she deserves.  She joined our family last week.

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First time on Iowa soil

With Jack and Marty we have something that works well.  They get along with one another and the cats, we are able to leave them alone during the day without incident, they are trustworthy in the yard – so naturally I fretted about whether or not new dog would fit in with our dynamic.  I realized that I worried the same way when we got Marty and that all worked out well.  It just takes time, training, consistency and patience.

She’s fit in so well already that I can’t imagine not having her around.  The boys are still adjusting, as are the cats.  She’s so good-natured that she approaches them playfully with no aggression whatsoever.  I truly believe that rescues make the best dogs.  As we’ve heard more than once about her, she truly is the definition of a rescue and I’m so glad she’s a member of our family.

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She’s soooo good in the car.

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That bed makes her look small but she’s actually the size of a mini-horse.

 

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cleveland, my hometown

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I’ve found myself inspired to write about my “hometown”: Cleveland.

The truth is that I’m from a town closer to Akron but after going away to college in another well-known Ohio town, “Cleveland” became the learned response to the question “where are you from?”  (Until LeBron, no one really knew of Akron so the chances of anyone knowing a suburb of a suburb of a suburb of Akron was highly unlikely.)  So I’ve been saying “Cleveland” to answer “where are you from?” for ages even though my real hometown is about 45 minutes away.

I’m in Ohio this week visiting my family for my usual summer trip and it seems like every time I’m here, I appreciate it just a bit more.  When I lived here prior to making Iowa my home, I kept my radius a bit tight.  I didn’t venture far from the fanciness of Beachwood where all the shopping is, University Heights where the Whole Foods is, and the east side where my sister lived.  As it turns out, Cleveland is really cool when you know where to go and I wasn’t going to the right places.  It took moving away and stalking the city from afar to really figure out what made Cleveland tick.

I’m continually amazed at how much this city has changed.  Even in the three short years since I’ve been gone.  There’s such a sense of community and the local movement has really taken root here.  It’s exhibited by the restaurants all along W 25th St that pride themselves on dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.  And with the West Side Market around the corner, how could they not feel inspired?  The food scene here could rival almost any big city.

(A few highlights: The Greenhouse Tavern, Townhall, Bier Market, Bar Cento, L’Albatros, The Black Pig and I’m dying to try The Butcher and the Brewer.)

Beyond the food, though, this city is a crafter’s dream.  It’s like an Etsy beyond the internets with vendors lining some of the coolest streets for things like Hingetown, and Cleveland Flea.  This city has really become an artist’s community and really celebrates their creatives.

The city stretches far and wide – you have your outskirts communities like Rocky River and Avon and Westlake – and there are so many more people, places and things beyond just my scope.  I’ve written about CLE in the past; sometimes in good and not-so-good context and I’m happy to embrace this place I call home.

There are still things that make CLE less-than-ideal (the crime rate, lack of an organized public transit system, spaced out neighborhoods, lack of walkability between aforementioned spaced-out-neighborhoods) but I do believe I could kill it (socially speaking) in this city after having been forced to spread my wings and learn a different city.  I’d be more active in the community, more likely to get involved and celebrate all that’s going on here (versus lamenting what’s not).  I’m someone who is somewhat of a city snob but I’m real and I’m from CLE.  Having very little “hometown” loyalty, I am happy to say that this city is something to celebrate and there’s a lot of good coming from CLE right now.

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stuff i love: fall edition (aka back to school)

We’re in what my dad referred to as ‘the dog days of summer’.  I knew that was a phrase, I just didn’t realize it was one people actually used in the course of conversation.

It’s HOT here—and I don’t just mean the temps are hot—it’s sticky.  The days are shorter and it’s positively miserable to be outside.  I’ve stopped wearing 90% of my makeup because it just runs down my face the moment I step outside.  And after my lunch time workout it’s pointless.  I am so excited for the days to get cooler, the nights to get even cooler and for all things fall to begin.  I think Des Moines is probably doing this to me on purpose (like how I said “me” right there?!).  It’s getting me primed for my favorite season, which also happens to be the shortest.  In the back-to-school vein, I thought I’d post a couple of my favorite internet finds here.  I am known (mostly to myself) as a queen of the internets so I thought I’d share some with you guys.  Let’s get ready for fall!

  • Some new spectacles for fall. I’ve loved Warby Parker since I learned about them five or so years ago. Reasonably priced stylish glasses?! Yes, please. I’m surprised I’ve held out so long but I’ve been searching for the PERFECT crystal frame. I think these are them.
  • With the nights getting cooler in the fall, it’s the perfect time for bonfires! Since DSM has been beating us down with heat since about May, it’s made fire-lit evenings few and far between. What else goes better with fire than s’mores?! I submit for your snacks this recipe, and this one, and this one (cause I obviously have one thing on my mind).
  • I recently made my way back to Ohio for my summer trip home to spend time with my family (read: AVERY) and while I was home, I ate some amazing food. One was a dish that my mother made. We had a cookout for Avery’s dedication and my mom made panzanella and guys… this is a tried and true success for grilling family get-togethers. Also, *I* cooked one of the nights (what, what). Rach and I went to stay with my mom and I suggested this dish which I could pretty much eat every night for dinner. I’ve made some modifications of my own to fit it to my tastes and it’s a very forgiving dish. I aim to impress and mission: accomplished. There were also A&W root beer floats consumed that same evening…. and my mom beat us both at Phase10 but then what else is new.
  • I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of creating the perfect inspirational home office. These pretty things could go a long way toward creating that space.
  • THIS APP!  Guys, I am an app snob and pretty set in my ways…that is till Mailbox came along. I actually deactivated my Apple Mail apps on my phone and desktop in order to use this. It’s pretty much organized the chaos that is my mailbox at all times. You can snooze messages to come back, archive, delete and sort all with one swipe. Through the generosity of RDB and through my own usage, I have 4 bit coins available to anyone who wants Mailbox Beta for their desktop OS (it’s still in beta but I’ll hook you up)—otherwise you can download the app and start using it for FREE on your iPhone (or other smartphone).
  • Currently reading: this, this, and I’ve kind of been meaning to start this. The Goldfinch is amazing. How authors can basically take the everydays of life and make them so emotional and engaging is beyond me. I’m definitely feeling all the feels in this book. I had to take a small break cause I’m at that point where I want to kind of draw it out because I want to be able to be a part of that world just a little longer.

Oh, and this year I joined a Fantasy Football league at work. I think it’s going to change the way I watch football this year and I’m pretty excited about that. I hope you guys liked this post of some of my favorite finds.

what i’m listening to

Hey guys!  I came to the conclusion that it’s going to be tough business for any blog post to follow Avery’s story.  So while I’m cooking up something bigger about inspiration, let me tell you about the things I’ve been listening to that are currently inspiring me daily.

As you guys know, I’ve been loving on the podcasts lately.  Below are the ones that I lost myself in—to the point I was holding my breath:

This American Life: Dead Men Tell No Tales

I had no idea about this story.  I don’t even remember hearing it in the news.  The research done for this story must have spanned months and, quite honestly, been pretty dangerous.  Considering everything that happened to the “characters” in this true story, it left me feeling a little conflicted about the tactics used by the FBI when interviewing the suspects.

Snap Judgement: The Pact

The Angeli Symphony story is incredible.  It’s a tragedy that turns into an unbelievable success.  I’m so inspired by Stuart’s resolve… I don’t want to say too much lest I ruin it but if you want to feel inspired by a man convinced of his higher calling, give it a listen.

The Moth: Fog of Disbelief

This is the story of Carl, an American who was actually working at the nuclear reactor site during the earthquake at Fukushima three years ago this week.  Listening to the raw emotion in his voice is gripping.  It’s completely unfathomable what he must have gone through.  I hear his words but I can’t imagine the fear, the disbelief, the magnitude of what he experienced.  The part where he talks about the 23rd Psalm… there were tears in my eyes.  For the power of the human spirit, listen.

Unfictional: Family Justice

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite podcasts.  Unfictional is similar to The Moth and Snap Judgement in that it’s simply people telling stories.  I don’t meant to say “simply” cause the stories are usually amazing stories but it’s people like you and me.  The second story, from Ed and Melanie, is both hilarious and my worst nightmare.  To lose a pet that’s essentially part of the family would be devastating to me.  Ed and Melanie have a way of telling it with the suspense of a detective story and a healthy dose of hilarity.

And… I couldn’t compile a list without you guys knowing my favorite podcast episode ever.  It’s a tie for number one and I’ve gone back to listen to these time and time again—they’re just that good.

Radiolab: Lost & Found

Emilie’s story (the last story), Finding Emilie, is a story that has stuck with me since I first heard it in 2011.  I think about all the ‘what ifs’ when I listen to it… what if Emilie hadn’t been able to communicate with Alan?  What if Alan hadn’t had the connection he did with her – to pull her through?  At the heart of this story is love.  I think this story will touch your heart too and if you’re like me, you’ll visit it time and again cause it just.sticks.with.you.

And co-number one…

Radiolab: Patient Zero

I have a bit of an obsession with disease.  I think pathology would be a great backup plan for me.  Patient Zero tells us the origin of AIDS and Typhoid—and it’s told exquisitely.  I have recounted these stories to family and friends at least a dozen times but I can’t do it quite as well as Radiolab does.

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Inspiration has also been coming from great new music lately.  I won’t gild the lily too much on these albums cause they stand on their own perfectly fine without my flourish.  The first of which has already been receiving acclaim by people far more qualified than I to give it.

Beck – Morning Phase

Beck… I love you.  I especially love when you’re contemplative, reflective, complicated, sad and the music is big and orchestral.  I loved you in Sea Change and this is the perfect companion to its brilliance.  I listen to this album from beginning to end and then start it all over again.  Great with the sunrise and coffee, great on the afternoon drive, even better in the evening with a healthy glass of red.  Beck for all.

The Family Crest – Beneath the Brine

Oh.em.goodness.so.good.  There is no other way for me to describe this album.  Apparently, it was funded by a Kickstarter Campaign… which is amazing.  The title track is beautiful and a close second would be “The Water’s Fine” which has this incredible Frenchy sound.

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I hope you all find some inspiration through these recommendations!  Happy listening!

stuff i love: food i make edition

Hey guys!  We’re in a deep freeze that just won’t quit here in DSM.  That means when the sun goes down I’m at home, in my pajamas, looking for something to eat for dinner.  I recently realized that I’ve been eating out a lot.  When I’m not eating out, I’m eating something “made” for me by the frozen food gods.  The result is lethargy, weight gain and poor sleep that lead to me doing silly things like cleanses in an attempt to feel more balanced.

I come from a long line of cooks.  I used to cook all.the.time (I think I may have mentioned that before).  My mom cooks dinner every night, my sister cooks dinner most nights, my dad is always cooking… I know it’s in me to do it, I just can’t muster up the energy after a long day.  On days like today, after I’ve overdone it on the weekend and I want to feel better, I take to my tiny kitchen (and my even tinier stove) to make my favorite go-to meal.  I’m not sure what else to call it but the meat bowl.  I could fancy it up and call it a taco-less salad but let’s just call it what it is—we’re all grown ups here: it’s a meat bowl.

The easiest part of this meal for me is that I get veggies and protein and I get to exercise a bit of my creativity.  I’ve done this before with ground bison and ground pork and you just change the seasoning and the vegetables.

Step 1: Brown minced garlic and onion, add mushrooms and sauté till soft.

Step 1: Sauté minced garlic and onion, add mushrooms and sauté till soft.

Step 2: Move mushroom mixture to a bowl (unless you have a large skillet—I do not). Brown ground meat of choice. Prep lettuce base and fresh herb seasoning.

Step 2: Move mushroom mixture to a bowl (unless you have a large skillet—I do not). Brown ground meat of choice. Prep lettuce base and fresh herb seasoning.

Step 3: Everything back in the skillet to mix with the fresh herb (basil, in this case).

Step 3: Everything back in the skillet to mix with the fresh herb (basil, in this case).

Step 4: I like to top it with fresh tomatoes and half an avocado. There's also this delicious artichoke pesto from Trader Joe's which tastes good on pretty much everything.

Step 4: I like to top it with fresh tomatoes and half an avocado. There’s also this delicious artichoke pesto from Trader Joe’s which tastes good on pretty much everything.

Voila. Lettuce base, meat mix on top, veggies = dinner.

Voila. Lettuce base, meat mix on top, veggies = dinner.

I’m hoping this year I can cook a little more and continue my effort in being a healthier me.  I recently heard an interview with Michael Pollan where he advocates not-so-much a particular diet (I realize he’s not encouraging the Paleo lifestyle here) but that we cook for ourselves.  He says: “the food industry has done a great job of convincing eaters that corporations can cook better than we can. The problem is, it’s not true. And the food that others cook is nearly always less healthful than that which we cook ourselves.”  Be a healthier me by cooking?  Now that is an idea I can get behind.

 

 

 

stuff I love: music edition

I can’t even believe that for as much as I love music, I have yet to do a music-related blog entry.  I finally feel like I have some decent music taste so why not share it with you all?  (That was a little backhanded compliment to me, from me—did you see what I did there…)

I am drawn to music that I wouldn’t be able to make myself.  Granted, I can’t make music at all but I’m really drawn to the nuances in songs that take it from being only okay to being something truly magical.  Spotify is pretty much the best invention ever (I say that a lot, I think).  It completely changed the way I listen to music.  I used to have to rely on friends and the old standby, NPR, to find good new music.  While NPR is still trusty, Spotify recommends obscure bands that I may not have found on my own (and when I say “on my own” what I really mean is Under the Radar Magazine).  If you don’t have Spotify, I highly recommend you get it.  I happily pay for my subscription every month so I can listen to it outside wi-fi (like at work).  The picks below are just some of the songs/bands that would show up on my top plays because they’re on constantly.

Haerts,BRR,PacAir

From the top:

Haerts – Their song “Wings” has pretty much been on repeat since I found it.  It’s produced by St. Lucia (whom I love) and there’s the perfect mix of 80’s pop and synthy-electronic.  I don’t normally get into girl singers (cause I hold them to a higher standard when it comes to music – their voices all sound the same to me) but this girl is a mixture of The Bangles and Gwen Stefani.  I am really into it and I can’t wait till they release an EP or a full-length album because I want more!

Bronze Radio Return – Up, On & Over.  Amaze.  I can listen to this entire album which is a rarity for me.  They have a great mixture of twang, tambourine and banjo without being country.  It’s easily my go-to when I’m at work and I want something fun.

Pacific Air – I don’t remember how I found them.  I decided to give a listen recently and have been playing it often since.  I think it was the song Sunshine that converted me.  They’re kind of My Morning Jacket meets Temper Trap.

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The National – Obvi this had to be on here.  I started playing High Violet two years too late, so to say I eagerly anticipated this album would be an understatement.  Trouble Will Find me is the perfect follow up to an album I enjoyed so well.  I can’t stop listening to Humiliation and I Should Live in Salt (and Demons).  I think if I ever met Matt Berninger, I’d ask him what the heck he’s singing about.  I never have any idea.  For example, I recently read that Humiliation is about drones ruining a dinner party — I would have never guessed that.  Whether I know what he’s singing about or not, I love the melancholy sound and Matt Berninger’s baritone; it compliments the music, which itself is unfussy and stands on its own beautifully.

LordHuron,Fitz,Neighb,JB

Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams.  This is another indie-country album that I can listen to from beginning to end.  There are a few surprises (the percussion is a really nice touch) and it just makes this album solid.

Fitz & the Tantrums – Okay, okay—I know all the cool kids have been listening to Fitz forevs but I’m just now getting on that train.  It’s a super fun summer album.  The Walker is heavy on repeat around here.  In the car with the windows down, in the apt while I’m cleaning; it’s catchy and gets stuck in my head.  Listen to it.

The Neighbourhood – Album: I Love You. Thank you NPR for this one!  Sweater Weather was the first song I heard and it’s probably number two in my Spotify top plays (after Wings, of course).  This album is hard to describe.  It doesn’t sound like anything I’ve listened to in a while cause it’s kind of hip-hop meets indie pop.  It’s produced really well and I was really surprised to like this album as much as I do.  Try it out so you can say you got in on the ground floor.

Jeff Buckley – Oldie but always good.  Grace is an album I can revisit time and time again—and I have recently.  Lover, You Should Have Come Over may be one of the best songs written (I know saying that is a tall order).  He just sings it with such conviction (as he does most of the songs on the album), raw passion and honesty.  Jeff Buckley was a huge talent and it’s easy to hear why.

stitchfix and a shout-out

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m easily excited.  Maybe you guys know that about me already?  So when I (with added facilitation) stumbled on a little thing called StitchFix, I got really excited about it.  It didn’t take long for me to sign up, get accepted and schedule my first delivery (called a “fix”).  And it’s not just because I hate shopping for myself—cause I really do.  It was more of a chance to have fun with shopping.  When I lived in Ohio, I’d “shop” my sister’s closet and accessories and wonder why I don’t have more fun with what I wear.  The sad truth is that I have an overwhelming amount of grey in my wardrobe and don’t even get me started on the same Target pocket tee I have in every color they make.  And as you may remember, my go-to is to add a scarf to everything.  StitchFix seemed like a chance for me to do one better.  The premise: I fill out a style profile and someone else picks out something on-trend just for me and I get a little “care package” (if you will) of goodies.  It’s like a present (that I pay for).  I can either keep it all, just a few items or send it all back.  I can schedule these fixes as often as my paycheck allows and they can even gear the fixes toward special occasions if I tell them.  Listen, I know that I’m sounding sales-y here but I think it’s a brilliant idea!  Here are my top three reasons why: 1. I’d rather try on clothes in the comfort of my own home; 2. I like getting packages; 3. it’s too easy for me to screw up.

I got my first fix on Saturday and what was inside was exactly my style.  Friends, if you want to check this out, let’s both get credit—shall we?  http://stitchfix.com/sign_up?referrer_id=3109266

Huge thanks to this blogger for the information: Justine at Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One.  Guys, she’s hilarious.  And enviably stylish.

stuff I love: the home office edition

You guys!  I’m going to try a photo post and see if it works.

What better intro to photo posts than to show you a few things that I’m currently loving.  I’ve been lusting after many of the items from west elm.  They’re mostly all centered around the Parsons Desk, which I have to convince myself on a regular basis I shouldn’t buy.  I would love all these items and they’d make the perfect home office!

This is the Parsons Desk.  The most perfect desk.  It’s the cornerstone of my home office.

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Then we have the chair.  I like the pattern on the left.  It looks perfectly comfortable for hours of blogging for you all, friends.

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A little bit of a shelf for my many, many, many, many books.

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And the rug to tie it all together… grey chevron with a touch of mustard.

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Okay, okay… the mirror is a tad unnecessary, but it goes with the desk!

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