Friday, July 25, 2014

Five Things Friday 7.25.14 {+ Entertaining with Blue Diamond}

Hi Friends!

It's been awhile! Let's jump right into some updates, shall we?

1. We're back from Colorado and had so much fun! 
The weather was great, we saw many great sites and ate some really great food! Full recap coming soon...err, well, whenever I can get to it and find some motivation to actually blog a full post.

2. Wedding weekend
I'm headed home after I hit publish on this post for some fun wedding events for my brother and his fiance, Kerstin. It's the bridal shower and bachelor/bachelorette party weekend. Should be a fun weekend with lots of family and friends!

3. Entertaining with Blue Diamond
Last night I had some friends over to watch our favorite summer TV show, Big Brother. What easier snack to share than some Blue Diamond almonds. After we had dinner, a homemade tomato and pesto pizza and salad full of veggies, we broke out the wine and rosemary black pepper almonds. Actually a pretty great pairing. The next time you have some friends over, break out a can of Blue Diamond almonds for everyone to snack on!

Kristyn, Traci, and Summer

4. Girl time
Tim has been in Colorado almost the last two weeks for his Graduate School of Banking program. We, of course, saw him last weekend while we were there, but Kaydin and I have had the last two weeks together just us. He was gone last summer in CO for a couple weeks, too, and we made along list of fun summer activities to complete. This year we did the same and have had lots of fun! I'm still ready for Tim to come home though!
Our finds after picking wildflowers along country roads.

A trip to the aquatic center.

5. Back to School  Mode
We're turning the corner into back to school time. In the next week or two the summer will wind down and all the school-age kids will be filling their backpack with all of their supplies. It's such a nostalgic time of year, one that always brings back lots of memories. This year Kaydin is starting at a new school district so we're all pretty excited and anxious for mid-August!

*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. I was compensated with almonds. No monetary  compensation was offered. All opinions are my own.

Linking up with Clare for 5 things Friday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Volunteer your's important {+ 5 ways to give back other than monetarily}

Hi Everyone! It's PSA time.

I'm going to interrupt our regular programming with a little public service announcement today.

Are ya ready? :)

New Directions Shelter

This summer Kaydin and I have been spending our Monday nights at the Hawthorn Hill New Directions Shelter. It's a shelter in Des Moines servicing women and children. We became involved by chance really. 

Last fall, Kaydin and I watched The Pursuit of Happiness and Kaydin was really touched. She was confused and sad that a child would not have a home, a place to sleep at night. Since then I had been making calls and looking into websites in and around Des Moines to try to find a place for us to get more involved and give back. Nothing seemed to be working out, and I couldn't connect and get feedback from people. Sometimes we hit a road block not being able to find the right place or activity that would also allow Kaydin, too.

It all fell into place though one day when I saw a posting on Facebook from someone I went to the same college as. She posted about a charity event being held to benefit Hawthorn Hill. I'd heard of this organization before but didn't know much about it. I immediately clicked over and started learning more and came across a volunteer orientation being held in the near future that encouraged kids to attend, too

We attended that orientation session in April and have been fairly active with the organization ever since. 

On Monday nights Kaydin and I spend an hour or two at the shelter playing with the kids. We have done a variety of activities including coloring, talking in general about health, fruits and vegetables, having taste tests of fruits and vegetables, and playing outside.

Kaydin and I both have a great time every week we are there, but last night was really great! The weather was gorgeous and perfect for playing outside so I knew that's what we would be doing. We stepped outside to head to the play area and the youngest girl slipped her hand in mine to lead me around the house. I knew then it would be a great night. 

The boys were happy to play basketball most of the time and the girls stayed close to the playground and swing set. After some time swinging in the evening breeze, the girls moved on to playing tea party, restaurant and cooking me up lots of pretend foods. I loved seeing their imagination run wild. I see this in Kaydin every day and she was right there helping to set the plot and building on the other girls' ideas.

Later the boys joined in and we played a few games of tag, freeze tag, and hide and seek. The smallest little girl again took my hand and stayed close always wanting me by her side. It stole my heart and made me realize how just the littlest thing can really make a difference. Showing them some full-on attention and joining in on the fun really made their night. They were so shocked and amused when I climbed up fire pole at the playground and slid right on down just like they were (that was only a one-time occurrence though, lol). It took many tries to get everyone rounded up and back in the house once it was finally time for Kaydin and I to head home for the night. If our stomachs weren't starting to grumble I would have happily stayed even longer.

It didn't take much of my time, I got to enjoy a gorgeous summer night outside, spend time with my daughter and at the same time teach her some important values, and most importantly give back and spend some time with great kids that need some more happy in their lives and just play as kids without a care in the world.

I highly encourage everyone to reach out and find a way to be involved in your community with those less fortunate or organizations that are doing good for others. I bet there are many out there that are in need of more volunteers. And there are lots of ways to be involved at a greater, more meaningful way rather than just giving money.

5 Ways to Give Back to Your Community other than Monetarily
  • Take your donations to a homeless shelter. Since becoming involved with Hawthorn Hill, I take my boxes of items that usually ended up at Goodwill to the shelter instead. These items directly benefit people with a real need for clothes, shoes, household items, etc., for free! 
  • Give your time. There are so many tasks that shelters could use help with- cleaning, yard work, organizing. There is always so much to be done.
  • Spend time playing with children in the shelters. Kids need time to play and just be kids. Parents also need some time for a breather, too.
  • Provide a meal. Shelters are always in need of food to provide their residents. It can be as easy as bringing in a bag groceries or providing a full meal to the house.
  • Be informed. Sometimes all it takes is being informed and knowing what's going on the community and who needs help. From there you can move on to more beneficial and meaningful ways to help out. Hawthorn Hill is located just a half block down from the campus where I work. It was 2 1/2 years later before I even knew it was there! 

If you have any interest in getting involved with Hawthorn Hill, let me know and I can connect you with their staff or reach out through their website. Tim is involved heavily with Children and Families of Iowa. They are another great organization in our area that is always looking for volunteers for a variety of different needs.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Five Things Friday 7.11.14

Well, heeelllllooooo out there!

{Tap, tap, tap} Anyone there??

Ha! It's been awhile. So much to do in summer and so little motivation to blog! We've been doing lots of fun stuff and I'll fill you in on all of that soon!

First though, just a few other odds and ends to fill you in on.

1. The Color Run
The Des Moines Color Run is tomorrow and I'm pretty excited. Some of my friends will be there and also some family is coming into town to participate, too! Last year we had great weather, not too hot and really sunny. I'm hoping the rain stays away and we get lucky again this year, too!

2. The Little Free Library- Waukee
Just want to give one more shout-out about the Little Free Library Kaydin and I helped to get set up in our community. The response has been amazing! I've seen great turnover in books which means we have some steady visitors coming! I also wanted to share the link to our interview one more time in case you missed it. Miss Kaydin was a little natural in front of the camera. She gave some great information and the story that came together made her shine and I couldn't be more proud! Tim joked that she hi-jacked my project and interview, but I'm glad it turned out that way. She did great! Check it out if you haven't already.

3. Summer Happenings
We have checked many things off of our summer bucket list and have lots of plans to keep that up in the next few weeks. I'm excited to do a final recap at the end of summer to remember all the adventures we partook in.

4. Fall planning
Even though it seems summer just started, it can almost be thought of to be coming to a close. I've been working on getting Kaydin registered at a new school as well as some other exciting changes and events that will be happening in the coming months. Along with those things comes my brother's wedding. The closer it gets, the more excited I get!!! Can't wait!

5. My Birthday, July 19th
Ya know, the older you get, the more birthdays just aren't that exciting of a day. Sure, it's fun to celebrate, but really it's just another day.  That said, this coming birthday marks the beginning of the last year of my 20's. This year should be fun as we'll be in Denver/Boulder rafting the river! A fun way to ring in 29! I really wanna make a list of some things I'd like to do/accomplish before I'm 30 {yikes, just saying that is weird! lol}. If I'm going to make that list a reality, though, I'd better get brainstorming!

Linking up with Clare for 5 Things Friday.

What should I add to my "Must Do Before I'm 30 List"? Help me think of some great ideas!

What have you been up to this summer?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Vacation Week Happenings {and our news interview link}

I have thoroughly been enjoying my days off and not having to beat the clock to get to the office by 8:00am every morning!

We've been partaking in some fun activities around the city as well as having some fun family time together in the evenings by going on bike rides, running the dogs and checking in on the garden.

I thought I'd check in quickly to share a few photos from our week so far and also share our news story! It aired last night and I'm so pleased with how it turned out! The story and message was awesome and Kaydin did so great in front of the camera. In case you aren't local, or even if you are and missed the news story, here's the link to the video here!

We've learned!

We've indulged!

We've been entertained at the movies!

We've saved!

And we've created! 

And we're only a few days into our vacation! Keep up on what we're doing this week through Instagram!

I hope everyone one else is having a great week, too!!

Did you see us on TV last night?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Five Things Friday 6.27.14

Hi Everyone! Let's jump right into some updates, shall we? :)

1. Vacation!
I decided to take the whole week off from work next week! For nothing in particular, just a break for some time off work to relax and partake in some fun activities around the city. I've never taken multiple days off work, let alone a whole week, with no real plans but I'm kinda excited! We plan on checking a few things off our Summer Bucket List.

2. Summer Bucket List
Speaking of our summer bucket list, we've been busy checking many things off the list!


Playing at the Ashby Park splash pad with Charlotte and Summer

Many visits to the local pools.


Visits to the Farmer's Market

Attending the Juneteeth Parade

Counting all the money from her piggy bank.

3. Waukee Little Free Library
I've been checking in at Ridge Point Park periodically to keep up on the inventory of the new Little Free Library in our community. I've seen some great turnover and lots of the original books aren't there anymore. That means people are visiting! And I'm hoping the interest and visitors increase once our news interview is aired! For you locals, don't forget to set your DVR on Monday, June 30th, for the 5:00pm news on WHO-TV Channel 13. You might even see Little Miss saying a few words, too!

4. HLS
I'm definitely not wishing away summer, but I'm already really excited for September to get here! That's because I'll be attending the Healthy Living Summit again this year! The host city for the 2014 summit is Madison, WI. A new to me city so I'm really pumped to check out some Madison favorites.

And some more fun news, I'm not just attending the summit this year, but I'll also be speaking! I actually didn't plan on it but was really excited when Heather, one of the planners reached out to me and asked if I'd like to be a speaker on the panel discussing the topic, Maintaining a Healthy Family. I'm super stoked to speak on this topic and would love for you to join me! There's still a few days left to register and get your early bird tickets. Jump on over here to learn more details! Prices go up July 5 so don't wait too long!

5. A trip back home to Mom and Dad's
To kick off our little vacation week, we're headed home for the weekend! It's been a few weeks since we've been back there and I'm pretty excited. Summer is my favorite time to visit because there's always lots of fun little things to do (ice cream from the Purple Cow, relax on the deck, and working in and harvesting the garden) and good food (s'mores around the backyard fire, grilled foods and fresh vegetable salads)! Heritage Days, the summer town festival in Pocahontas, is also going on this weekend so it should be a fun weekend!

Whatever you are doing this weekend, I hope it's a good one!

Linking up with Clare for 5 Things Friday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My hair washing routine {and my no-poo experience}

So last summer I didn't shampoo my hair. 

Instead I used baking soda and vinegar. I planned on publishing this information months ago. And then never got to it and forgot all about it. I do still want to share though for anyone interested. I'm not using this method anymore and instead have gone back to a regular shampoo and conditioner (I really like the Organix brand.) 

And now I am washing my hair even less than I did with the No-Poo routine. I wash mostly once per week on Sundays. Most people wonder how the heck I can go that long without it being greasy or dirty. 

Well, the answer is: I DON'T! 

My hair definitely gets greasy and dirty in that week time frame, but I just pull it back into a top knot, messy bun or messy pony to hide it. My routine now is that I usually wash on Sunday night (I wear it in messy bun for bed and then style on Monday morning), wear my hair down Monday Tuesday, the front pinned back on Wednesday, and then up Thursday and Friday. Depending on what's going on for the weekend I may need to wash it again to make it pretty and presentable if I want a hairdo that it's all down. If I do wash on the weekend then I just alter my usual routine and wash once in the middle of the week. Sometimes I can make a cute hairstyle for the weekend without having to wash and get off schedule. And if we've got nothing really going on for the weekend, well then I definitely don't wash til Sunday night. 

So that's my routine as of now. Below is some more information and details about what it was like when I wasn't using traditional shampoo and conditioner.
Yup! I used baking soda and vinegar to wash my hair all through the summer of 2013. In 120 days, I washed my hair 25 times. That averages almost 5 days between washes. 

June 8 -1st time using baking soda and vinegar-felt great! so soft, clean and light

June 12- didn't feel as good as the first time.
June 14- washed with normal shampoo & conditioner at mom and dads
June 18- felt heavy and greasy after washing
It was fun to experiment with new styles now that my hair held better. ie- was not as soft
(not always the result you want when it comes to your hair)

June 22- felt great after washing. clean and light
June 25- little heavy again at the top after washing

This style was easy to get to since my hair was somewhat dirty. 

July 2- really light and clean feeling, soft.
July 5- light clean soft, washed cuz at the pool all day
July 14- feels good 
July 19- soft, clean, light, full
July 24- not quite as soft as usually. I think I used too much vinegar.
July 28
August 3
August 7- used a little shampoo, little condt and sprayed with vinegar
August 10
August 13- used little shampoo and condt. all I had at Tim's house 
August 24- felt not clean at all after using shampoo and conditioner the last time I washed.
August 27- felt clean and soft again
September 3
September 8- throughout the fall I felt like my hair wasn't as shiny and just dull.
September 12
September 17
September 21
September 26
October 1
I got my hair cut and colored on October 3rd. I had already planned on stopping the no shampoo routine, but I told my hair dresser what I had been doing all summer and he said, "Ok, but WHY would you do that?!?" lol. He told me nothing was really wrong with doing that but it's wasn't the best for the hair. The vinegar is what he says is harsh on it. And he was right. Throughout the fall, my hair kept getting duller and just wasn't as soft. I liked the low maintenance of it and not using chemicals that seeped into my scalp, but my hair just was not as pretty.

I totally recommend not washing your hair everyday. My hair does more styles now, feels healthier and is so much easier! It does take some training but really stick with it and you will  be washing your hair only once per week in no time! :)

A little secret- I didn't wash my hair at all while at Blend! I just repurposed my styles and made it the whole weekend, sweating and all, without spending the time washing and drying it!

(from Nicole)

A Helpful Resource:
Amanda, at Living in Another Language, is where I found all the information on how to follow the no-poo routine.
First post
3 month update

Have you tried this method before?

Are you able to not wash your hair everyday?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Blend Retreat 2014- What We Did

One more Blend recap for ya! Mine won't be much different from the other attendees' recaps but I still wanted to get one on the blog as I call this little website my online journal. It's always fun to look back and remember what you documented from the past! 

Plus, Blend was so fun!! I'm happy to relive my memories while explaining to you all what we did and show off our fun pictures! (Food pics aren't included in this recap, but you can see everything we ate during Blend in this post.)

(from Lindsay)

(from Nicole)

My journey to Blend started bright and early- too early since I couldn't sleep! I was battling bronchitits and major coughing so sleeping through the night was tough. I wasn't going to let that stop me from attending, though! I may not have had much a voice, or at least not my natural one, but I made it through! :)

After a small group of us that had come in a day early convened at our hotel we ventured out for some lunch at Red Rocks Brewery.

After that, Alyssa was our tour guide showing us around Temple Square and explaining things along the way.

After exploring we settled on a patio for some chatting, chips and salsa, and happy hour!

(from Julie)

Friday morning we set out for Park City to get checked in and get the official Blend Retreat started.
Thanks to the below five women who planned the event and did all the leg work on Thursday and Friday to make it happen for us!

Paige, Janetha, Lauren, Lindsay, Katie 

( 2 above pics from Lindsay)

After checking in, meeting all the new roommates and lunch at Cafe Rio there was the Fun Run led by Janae. A bunch of us turned the Fun Run into a Fun Walk. :)

(from Amanda)

Next up was a snack break hosted by Arctic Zero. I had never had it before but I think I'm a fan now!

Friday is the cocktail party and dinner. The one time of the weekend where we should probably wear real clothes instead of just a workout/comfy outfit.

All my suitemates!
 (4 above pics from Lindsay)

(from Erika)

(from Katie)

After dinner and photobooth fun, we learned of a fire pit outside. A perfect setting to talk the evening away and just hang out!

(from Lindsay)

After some more chatting with the roommates once I came back up to the suite it was finally time to say goodnight after a long day because we had a boot camp to get to the next morning!

Onnit was our boot camp sponsor and leader on Saturday morning. It's always fun to workout with others, something I never do at home.

Orlando offered up a little plank challenge for us all. I surprised myself and held for 5 minutes 30 seconds. Longest I'd ever held a plank! It was motivating to hear all my other Blends cheering me on, but I couldn't hold one more second.

(3 above pics from Lindsay)

After our breakfast it was time to get ready for our hike. I participated in the hike last year, and although the weather wasn't great, the company and views were spectacular so I knew I'd be joining this year, too!. This time the weather came through and it was absolutely gorgeous, as was the company again this year, too! :)

(from Stephanie)

 (from Kait)

The Blend organizers worked their magic to get the gondola rented for us during this time. Some people didn't like the heights too well, but I was loving the ride! So fun and we saw such pretty views on our ride up the mountain.

(from Amanda)

( 2 above pics from Lindsay)

(from Nicole)

After a shower, it was time to reconvene and hang out for the Kidz Shake snack break. I really loved the flavors of this protein powder and Kaydin did too. An easy and healthy alternative to a traditional kids snack, I'm in!

(from Lindsay)

(from Heather)

Before we headed to downtown Park City for the evening, some of us participated in a fun and relaxing yoga session led by the talented, Kait. I told her she was meant to practice and teach yoga! It seems to come so natural to her and she has the best soothing yoga voice. I even stopped part way through just to sit back and watch lead and do the moves. It was fun!

(from Nicole)

A large group of us stopped first at High West, a whiskey and vodka distillery. After that a smaller group ventured off to get dinner at Wasatch Brewery before heading back to the resort for Mamma B's scones, a huge hit at least year's retreat so we busted out the pans and dough and graciously made them for us again.

(from Nicole)

It was another early morning come Sunday. This time GPP led our workout. They led our workouts last year so I knew it was going to be a tough workout. And it was, but also so fun! We did a team/group workout that was tough but didn't seem so bad since we were all working together.

And after another breakfast and packing up all of our major swag, we gathered for the raffle and some picture taking. A huge thank you to all the many, many sponsors for making this event possible!!

(4 above pics from Lindsay)

Next year the party of moving back to Boulder, CO, where the first retreat was held. I really hope to make it back and hope too see all of you there too! :)

Also, a huge thank you to Travis, Lindsay's husband, for being an amazing photographer all weekend!!