Thursday, February 15, 2018

This & That 2/15

:: I've never been a big Valentine's Day person, but I've long since given up protesting it and boycotting it. There was a time I would wear black and just generally be grumpy about the day. But that's no fun. A few years ago, I changed my perspective and decided to look at the day as one of love -- for myself and other important people in my life, romantic or not.

:: That said, Sean did treat me pretty well yesterday. He brought me breakfast from my favorite bagel place. I love their sriracha bacon cream cheese. And their coffee is legit too.

Oh, and he bought me Rangers leggings for pitchers and catchers report celebration.

Yep, I did OK.

:: I sent out wedding invitations the other day. Now I'm waiting for RSVPs. And people to have hurt feelings because they weren't invited. Honestly, the guest list was one of my biggest stress points. Deciding who to include and not include was tough. But we had limits on numbers, so we did the best we could. I'm still worried I hurt peoples feelings.

:: I have not read a single book this month. Nothing in my kindle has caught my attention. Blah. I need to get on it soon. What have you read recently that's great?

:: Another big school shooting yesterday. I don't even know what to say anymore. I hate that it's becoming so commonplace in our country. Our children deserve better. We all deserve better.

What's on your mind this week?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Show Us Your Books: January 2018 recap

Life According to Steph

I somehow managed three books in January. And they were all very different.

"A Promise Broken" by Anissa Garcia
Anissa is a long-time friend of mine. Her romance series is a page-turner, mostly because of the steamy scenes and palpable tensions between the characters. I also really love the cast of characters beyond the main two, so I've enjoyed continuing to "get to know" more members of the family and their friends.

"The Twilight Wife" by A.J. Banner
Kyra remembers nothing about a diving accident she suffered, but feels fortunate her husband has remained by her side, patiently answering her questions about her life. It all felt "off" to me from the beginning. I knew the husband was shady and not being completely honest with her, but the full picture was even more twisted than I imagined. 

"Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate
I saw this on another person's to-read list and thought it sounded intriguing. It was more than that. At times, it was also heartbreaking, anger-inducing, and inspiring. A family of children are thrust into an orphanage and lied to about the status of their parents. The things they endure in the orphanage are unspeakable and then they're separated into various homes. The tale is told from two perspectives that eventually bring the whole story full circle. It started slow, but once I got going, I could not stop reading.

I'm off to a slow start in February, but hopefully I can keep this pace through the year.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Music Monday: Delta Rae - "No Peace in Quiet"

A few years ago, I went to a concert to see Gabe Dixon. I was super pumped to see him after listening to his music for a long time. I had no idea I'd come away from there with a new musical obsession -- Delta Rae.

 Their energy and sound were incredible. I loved how many performers were on stage and the way they were all highlighted during various times. While I haven't gotten to see them, I've continued keeping up with their releases. This one is so hauntingly beautiful and Liz's voice is perfect.

It's about a breakup, so maybe it's not the best for Valentine's Day week, but I just love it, so I'm sharing it anyway.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Sweats: Halfway through Xtreme

Last Monday, we officially passed the halfway mark in the Xtreme Revolution program happening at my office. It's hard to believe we're four weeks in already. I'm really enjoying the classes and my workout buddies.

Photo taken at the end of the first week of classes. This is the 6:15 a.m. crew. Most of them are still hanging in there, but we've lost a few along the way.

To "celebrate" the halfway milestone, our trainers had us do a special workout called a mini-Murph. Here's what it entails:

1/2 mile jog/run
100 weighted squats
75 bicep curls
50 pushups
25 x jumps
1/2 mile jog/run

You must do it in exactly that order.

It's an adaptation of a CrossFit workout. Looking at the full Murph makes me want to vomit.

Anyway, we were told to check our time when we got through it (mine was 21:53). We'll do it again at the end of the program to see if we've improved.

Obviously, that didn't take up the whole class for me (or most of the others), so we were told to go back to the squats and continue through the workout. I ended up doing 200 weighted squats and 150 bicep curls. My quads have still not forgiven me.

The mini-Murph is definitely the toughest workout we've done so far, but there have been a few others that made me sore too. And as much as I complain about it, I secretly love it. I love knowing I've challenged my body and -- honestly -- my mind (because so much of it is mental). I love seeing what I can really do.

I haven't broken out the scale or measuring tape because I want to wait until the end to see the full effect, but I definitely feel like I'm getting leaner and stronger. 


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Xtreme Cardio (30 mins)
Tuesday - Xtreme Burn (30 mins)
Wednesday - Xtreme Tabata Abs (30 mins)
Thursday - Xtreme WOD Strength (30 mins)
Friday - Xtreme Wild Card Cardio (30 mins)
Saturday - Off


If you set any goals or started a new fitness initiative for the new year, how it going?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

This & That 2/8

:: I've never been into wrestling, but Sean is. So on Monday night, I went to my first ever WWE Raw event with him. It was quite entertaining, and we had fantastic seats. Even though it's obviously scripted, there's still a pretty solid display of athleticism, which I could appreciate.

:: Sean and I were going to wait until after the wedding to take on the re-decoration of our basement. But ... over the weekend, we changed our minds. I think we've found someone to tackle the wall and a half of drywall (my brother). We already have most of the furniture. It's just been sitting down there since we moved. We just need a few more pieces (namely a television) and it'll be ready to enjoy. I'm pretty excited about it.

:: I love my brewery job. I really do. But at least once a month, I'm reminded of how terrible people are. And I'm further convinced EVERYONE should have to spend a certain period of time working in the service industry so they can see what jerks they are and maybe, JUST MAYBE rectify their behavior.

:: Baseball returns next week!!! Pitchers and catchers will be heading to spring training to begin tuning up for the new season. I'm so ready.

What's up with you this week?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wedding Wednesday: Following a theme

One of the many challenges I've faced in my wedding planning is the theme. Our day is going to have lots of baseball flavor, but I have to be careful not to let it end up looking like a child's birthday party. The balance between fun and class can be a delicate one. And it's hard to see how it will all come together when I'm really only assembling it piece by piece.

Here are some images I've found on Pinterest that I've used as inspiration. Some of them might be some of my exact choices. Others just gave me an idea to build on.

How did you keep to your wedding theme without going overboard?

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Making friends at work is hard

I keep seeing memes and Buzzfeed articles about work BFFs and I admit I get a little envious.

My adulthood has involved a lot of job changes. And a variety of work settings. I've worked in newsrooms (three total), a university marketing department, a big financial corporation, a small third party administrator, and finally a somewhat big insurance and financial company. Sometimes I worked directly with three or four people. Sometimes there were more than 20 in my department.

Through all of this, only one thing has been a major struggle for me -- making work friends.

There have only been two settings where I truly felt like I had friends. In the newsrooms, we instantly kind of became like family. We had to. We dealt with a lot of crap and worked some crap hours. There was no bestie in any of those settings, but I had the occasional lunch or post-work drink buddy. In another job, I was a temp employee. But it's the only place, I legitimately had a work friend. I might even say I had two. We'd get lunch together, go on walks, and chat about our outside life. While I hated that job, I truly miss the friendships I made there.

In one of my later jobs, I was in an office on a floor all by myself. Well, I was alone most of the time. No one ventured upstairs to talk to me unless it was work-related. They hired someone for the other office on that floor, but a few months later, I was laid off. A few of the people in my department helped me move, but I don't know if I'd qualify them as quality friendships.

In my current job, I do not have anyone I'd call a friend. I talk to everyone and am friendly with everyone. But I've never been invited to join others for lunch or drinks after work. It makes me sad sometimes. OK, a lot of times. My job can be stressful and it'd be nice to be able to go for a walk with someone to vent it out. But I don't really feel like I have anyone for that role.

I'm trying to make peace with the idea that it's OK to just go to work, do my job, and leave without having any close friends to help pass the day. And sometimes, I am OK with that. But other times, I get a little envious of people who post about lunch dates or happy hours with co-workers. I wish I had that. But we don't always get what we want. I should really just be happy I have a job I enjoy that also pays my bills.

Work friends are overrated, right?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Music Monday: "This is Me" - Keala Settle

I haven't seen "The Greatest Showman" (yet), but I've heard this song numerous times already on the radio.

The crew on Elvis Duran love it and have cranked it around 5:45 a.m. on a few different mornings. Talk about a great start to the day.

I've heard the entire soundtrack is fantastic but haven't done a lot of digging. Is there another great song from the show I need to check out?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Currently: January 2018

Watching: "Chopped," "Beat Bobby Flay," and "Worst Cooks in America."
Basically, I'm obsessed with the Food Network.

Listening to: the "Waitress" soundtrack.
I've been listening to it for a long time, but after seeing the show last month, I can't get enough of it.

Shopping for: wedding stuff.
I feel like there's constantly something I need to be scouting out. At the moment, I'm fixated on my jewelry. I didn't think it'd be this hard to find simple pearl jewelry that suits my style for the day.

Wearing: workout clothes.
I've been doing two workouts a day pretty often for the past month. And it's going to continue for two more months. You know what this means? LOTS OF LAUNDRY.

Snacking on: apple and peanut butter.
The other day, it was actually my dinner. 

Obsessing over: Funko pop dolls.
Every time I see them in a store, I have to scour the selection to see if there's one I need to add to my collection.

Looking forward to: game night with friends this weekend.
I haven't seen these friends in more than a month. It's crazy. And overdue.

Dreading: more cold weather this weekend.
We were sub-zero and in the single digits for a few days (but it felt like forever) and then it warmed up this week. Almost 50 yesterday. We're headed back down this weekend. Boo. This is the worst part of winter.

Yeah, my life is pretty boring. But I'm OK with boring, honestly. It's much better than drama.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Music Monday: Kimiko Glenn - "When He Sees Me"

Ever since I saw "Waitress" last month, I have been obsessed with the soundtrack. This song, in particular, is a favorite.

Until I went searching for this video, I didn't even realize Kimiko Glenn played the role of Dawn on Broadway. Kimiko was in the touring cast of "Spring Awakening" and I adored that entire group of people. I guess I lost track of Kimiko. But she is fantastic on this number. I wish I could have seen her entire portrayal.

The character of Dawn is quirky and lovable from the beginning. She comes off as naive, and to some extent she is, but she is extremely likeable and injects a lot of humor into the show.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Sweats: Xtreme is here again

Xtreme Revolution is back!!!

Xtreme Revolution is an eight-week fitness program offered at my office. It includes intense workouts and nutritional guidance. This will be my third year participating, and I am really excited about it.

This photo was taken during last year's Xtreme Revolution session. The camaraderie and motivation are awesome.

The program starts tomorrow. We kick off by getting weighed and measured, and then we have a presentation about nutrition.

Workouts begin on Tuesday. Here's how each week of the program will look:

There are six class times each day -- 6:15 a.m., 6:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 4:45 p.m. Each class is 30 minutes.

This year, we don't have to sign up for a specific time slot or go at the same time every day. Not that they ever really held anyone to that in the past. I'm going to be aiming to do the 6:15 class and one of the noon ones. Yep, I'm going to attempt two-a-days. I'm slightly concerned that the 6:15 class will be really full and then I'll have to wait for a shower, which won't really work since I need to be at my desk at 7 a.m. I have made it just fine for past 6:15 a.m. workouts, but those classes have been small. But ... I'm going to try the morning class and see if I can make it. If not, I'll do noon and afternoon (unless I have to work at my other job after work). If two classes a day get to be too repetitive for me, I think I'll try and complement the day's workout with solo effort -- running or doing my own bit of strength training, whichever is the opposite of the class focus that day. Either way, I really want to hit it hard these next eight weeks.

There are more than 200 people signed up this year, and we're divided into divisions and teams. I'm in Colby's Division on Team Cream of the Crop. My team captain has already reached out with a motivational email.  Here's how we'll earn points for our team:

I'm ready to get started and am looking forward to challenging myself over the next eight weeks. Wish me luck!


Last week's workouts
Sunday - Off
Monday - Off
Tuesday - Strength with a little cardio (35 mins)
Wednesday - Xtreme Cardio (30 mins)
Thursday - Barre with Britt (30 mins)
Friday - Flex Friday (30 mins)
Saturday - Circuit workout with Sean (35 mins)

Friday, January 5, 2018

The flightmare after Christmas

Sean and I booked flights a few months ago so we could go to Indianapolis for Christmas with his extended family. Because of job in past years, he hasn't been able to go in five years. He also really wanted me to meet some of his aunts, uncles, cousins, and especially his grandfather, before the wedding. We found a good deal on flights, so we bought them and began planning.

Saturday morning, we got up at 2:45 a.m. and were at the airport an hour later. Security was a breeze. Probably because it was an ungodly hour. Either way, we were feeling optimistic. We were set to depart Des Moines at 5:25 a.m., have a short layover in Chicago O'Hare, and arrive in Indianapolis at 9:45 a.m.

By 5 a.m., we didn't see any flight crew. No gate agent. Nothing. This was a little alarming, but we tried to stay optimistic. As departure time grew closer, everyone at our gate was restless and we began hearing rumblings that the plane was struggling to warm up enough for the engine to start. I figured this was an easy fix and we'd be in the air soon. But as 6 a.m. neared, I decided to go to the gate agent (who had announced we'd be delayed but didn't say by how much) and see if we could change our connection flight. I knew there was no way we'd get to Chicago in time to change terminals and board our 7:50 a.m. flight to continue to Indy. She was able to put us on one that would leave Chicago at 3:30 p.m. Not ideal, but I figured at least we'd have plenty of time to make the connection. And we'd be in Indianapolis in time to have dinner with the family.

Over the next several hours, there were no announcements from the gate agent. Nothing to tell us when we might be leaving. The time on the screen kept changing, but nothing seemed firm. Our flight crew had left the plane saying it was too cold to be out there and a few of them said they were going to try and get released to go back to the hotel until this was sorted out. (That should have been my first clue that this was not just a slight delay, but I was clueless.)

This photo was taken around 9 a.m. Our travel day was already long and we didn't yet know how long it would be.

Our crew (who had left the gate to hide away from all the questions) was paged to come back to the gate around 11 a.m. It felt like we were making progress. Especially when they all got on the plane and didn't immediately come back off as they had so many times over the course of the morning. But by noon, we still hadn't gone anywhere and there was no indication we would be anytime soon. Other flights (from other airlines) were arriving and departing without issue, but all of the flights on this particular airline were delayed. Significantly.

I went up to the gate agent again and asked if she thought we'd get to Chicago in time for that 3:30 flight. She couldn't guarantee it and it didn't seem likely to me at this point, so we re-booked again. Our new connecting flight would leave Chicago at 8:50 p.m. and get into Indianapolis around 11 p.m. This was not at all appealing, but it seemed to be our only hope.

Beer before noon? Why not.

Sean and I took a break from the gate and went to watch the rest of the Iowa State game (they won!) and get some food. We heard from other passengers on our flight that the gate agent told them we wouldn't leave Des Moines until at least 5:15 p.m. Some even heard 6 p.m. as the estimated departure.

At this point, there were some tears of frustration as Sean and I discussed what we should do. Some people on my Facebook began chiming in that I should have just driven to Indy. In hindsight, this would have been the better option. But when I booked the flights, they actually were shorter than driving. It should also be noted that I hate driving in winter, and making the 500-mile-ish trek to somewhere two states away just didn't seem like a smart idea. And by this point, Sean and I had been up for more than 12 hours and hadn't gotten the best sleep the previous night either. Driving really wasn't an option. So we decided to hang in there.

A little after 3, we headed back towards our gate to see if there was any new information. On our way, we ran into another passenger from our flight who said there was a flight leaving for Chicago in a few minutes and there might be some extra seats on it. Sean and I were delighted when we secured what turned out to be the last two seats on that flight. Finally, at 3:30 p.m., nearly 12 hours after we'd gotten to the airport, we were in the air.

We landed in Chicago around 5 p.m. and hung around for three hours until our next flight. We eventually arrived in Indianapolis at 11 p.m. that night. We were exhausted but happy to finally be at our destination.

I hoped for better luck on our return flight, but my hopes didn't last long. About an hour before we were set to head to the airport, we learned our flight was delayed 90 minutes, which means we'd miss our connecting flight. I called the airline and after being on hold for about 25 minutes, we were booked onto a later connecting flight. It would delay our arrival at home by two hours, but the customer service rep assured me it was the best option and he would send me a confirmation email with the flight details. When, ten minutes later, I didn't have the promised email confirmation, I got nervous. I decided I didn't trust the airline at this point and we ended up renting a car and driving home. We were back in Des Moines at 8:30 p.m. When I checked the airline site later, I discovered our flight from Indianapolis didn't end up leaving until 8 p.m. There's no way we would have made it to Des Moines that night. Oh, and I never did receive an email confirmation of that changed flight.

I know delays happen, but this was my worst air travel experience by far. We lost time with Sean's family (and he obviously doesn't see them often), and we ended up spending a lot more money than we had planned on (three airport meals and a rental car). I've filed a complaint with the airline, but I highly doubt anything will be done about it.

Tell me about your worst flight experience.
Any advice on how to get the airline to care?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

This & That 1/4

:: If you followed me on social media last weekend, you might have gotten a hint about my flight woes. Come back tomorrow for A LOT more detail. But suffice to say, it hasn't made me eager to fly anywhere again for a long time.

:: Despite our rough route to Indianapolis, I had a great time meeting Sean's extended family over the weekend. They wasted no time making me feel welcome and look forward to getting to know them more in the future.

:: I saw "Pitch Perfect 3" a few weeks ago. Nothing will ever beat the first one for me, but it was still fun and enjoyable. I thought they wrapped up the franchise perfectly.

:: I have Saturday AND Sunday off this weekend. I hardly know what to do with myself. But I'm sure I'll figure something out.

:: I'm trying to figure out how to be more consistent with this blogging thing. But some days, I just don't have time. Other days, I just don't feel like it. Any tips or advice?
 What's new with you this week?

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