This weekend we spent some time in Steamboat Springs, Colorado with friends of my boyfriends. I have to be perfectly honest here that I didn’t want to go. It’s not that I don’t love Colorado and I do adore my boyfriends friends. It’s just that we leave for Mexico in 4 weeks and my finances are suffering a bit. Any extra money I spend needs to go to Mexico, or my car tags and taxes, or a multitude of other things that have popped up over the last several weeks. Luckily, my boyfriend doesn’t take no for an answer.

Here is my list of favorite places and things we did.

Milk Run Donuts
Eh, not a favorite. They need to work on customer service. The coffee was good, the donuts were okay.
Best lobster mac and cheese. Great service.
Highly recommend. Get there early for the happy hour and chat with the bartender. Order a Motini!
Creekside Cafe
Loved this place. Perfect bloody mary’s and super friendly staff. Food was exactly what we needed before heading out for adventure that day.
Seemed a bit touristy but the food was good.

To Do:
Strawberry Point hot springs
This is my second time here. Once was summer during the day and it was really fun to explore and enjoy the springs. This time we went at night in the winter. Felt so good and warm but remember to bring a flashlight to help get into the springs safely!
Ski Haus for ski & snowshoe rental
Rabbit ears pass on snowshoes
Rabbit ears Motel
Small rooms with kick ass bathrooms! Super friendly staff

I did make some images on this trip but it was on film and I haven’t processed it yet. I’ll have to come back and add on later.

Check out my Pinterest for more links and pins. I’m working on a pinterest page for every adventure.


I am not a huge fan of cupcakes, or cakes really, I do love frosting though. I would love to find a cupcake with 1/4 cake and 3/4 frosting. That really should happen. Last weekend my boyfriend and I went on a little hike/apple picking adventure. Sounded like a lovely Fall thing to do, and it was a lovely Fall thing to do. We had a great time and came back with loads of apples!

Next I started digging into pinterest to find a good recipe. I found this one from Fortune Goodies. I only made one change and that was substituting buttermilk for regular milk. I can not even begin to tell you how perfect the cake part of this cupcake is. Whoa! So light! It’s exactly the way cake should be. Alright, enough about that. Go make them.

I will soon be posting about the run I did in Washington DC weekend before last and the unexpected day in New York City. It was such a great time it has been difficult to get it all out in words.

Lately the idea of being uncomfortable has been popping into my head. After reading an article about traveling the world alone (would link but I can’t find it) and this guy was explaining how you aren’t really learning, growing, or changing if you aren’t uncomfortable. This idea stuck. Actually, it’s stupidly stuck. I can’t get it out of my head, but that’s a good thing. It is something I needed to hear, and I do believe more people need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Let me show you how this played out in my life recently. I was asked to run a race in DC with some coworkers (ok, the actual ultimate boss of the company!) and I was all cool with that. Frankly, I was nervous as hell! Worried about it constantly. Thought that I should go to the doctor because I was sure there was something breaking in my body which would prevent me from running. Naturally this would involve MRI’s, scans, x-rays, the works! Alas, nothing was wrong, I sucked it up, and went to DC with my boyfriend at my side for some moral (kick me in my ass for being a baby) support.

The race was amazing. I finished strong. A mere 7 minutes behind the big boss. Woot! DC is a beautiful city, and I’m sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I wasn’t being a wuss before the race. This story is not my uncomfortable story. Maybe it will be about missed opportunity, later though. The real story begins on my flight home.

Checking into the DC airport the computer popped up asking if I would be willing to be bumped. Inside my inner adventurer was jumping up and down, outside I was playing it cool for my travel companions. “oh great, guys I might get bumped for a $200 voucher”. They were awesome, and said I should totally take it. On we fly to Newark, New Jersey. I turn in my voucher. They call me up minutes later. BUMP! The guys board the plane*, and I wait to make arrangements after everyone boards. They can’t get me on a flight to Des Moines until 8pm. It was 10am. Again, the little surge of excitement starts to bubble. I tell her that is totally fine. I’ll take the late flight. She was so so nice and gave me $400 in vouchers for the long wait I was about to have! I love me some United!

This is where the adventure starts. I’m in an airport so close to NYC. I have TEN hours. What to do? I am texting my boyfriend and telling him I want to go to NYC. He said I should. Excitement turns into nervousness. I want to go. I want to go. I want to go. I’m scared. My phone receives a text from him saying, “Didn’t we just talk about you needing an adventure?” Fuck it. I’m going.

I found my way to the train station. $25 dollars round trip. Deep breath. When will I ever get to go to New York for $25? Tickets bought. I make my way to the track that will take me to the NJ Transit. Done. I get on the train going to NYC. Easy. Way too easy. I can’t help but smile. I made it! I’m on my way.

I get off at Penn Station. There is a bag check for $5.50 where I leave my suitcase. Making note of the streets where I exit, I step into the city and start walking. I had no idea where I was going. No plan. Vowed even to leave my phone alone. Just walk and see what I can see.

I wandered into Times Square. The people started to change. You could tell you in tourist land. I hurriedly turned a different direction. I didn’t come to New York to hang with tourists! I walked a few more blocks and saw green space. Wandered over to it and saw all the people sitting at tables, reading, playing games, JUGGLING on this beautiful Fall day. This is New York. This is what I came to see. I stubbled into Bryant Park. It was beautiful. Inside there was an outdoor bar/cafe so I ordered myself a dark and stormy and looked up.


To my left were the jugglers practicing their craft and teaching people in the park how to juggle it was so fun to watch. To my right a man named Stew sat eating a hot dog. He was very friendly and told me all about New York in the 80′s. “This park was dangerous back in the day and look at it now”, he said. They were building an ice skating rink in the open space. He told me how beautiful it was going to be come Christmas time. He also told me fascinating stories about working at a hotel across the street from a church. He said the priest was always out stealing the pimps girls when they got off the train, and the pimps would come in an throw money in the offering plate to try to get them back. Man, I wish I had a tape recorder that day.


Stew was kind enough to give me a few suggestions on what to see in New York with the few hours I had left. He pointed to his right and said I should go to the library! Seriously! The New York Public Library was right beside us! This is, of course, what I did. Spent at least an hour in there wandering around. It was beautiful and I hope to get back to get into the photo archives which is closed on Mondays.



Stew also told me to do the Empire State Building. I wasn’t as excited about this. I am not a touristy kind of person, but I trusted Stew. Luckily, the lines were totally manageable. Only a few minutes in each line to go up. The views? Worth it. I heard so much German being spoken. I took pictures of people. Weirdly, this is one of my favorite things to do. I’m always reminded of a couple who asked this dude to take their picture, and they realized later that dude was freaking Arnold Newman. I know, I’m not Arnold Newman, but maybe someday…


Alright, this all sounds really fun and easy right? Where is the uncomfortable part? Well, I did have to get back to the airport! I gave myself three hours. After the Empire State Building I started walking back to Penn Station. The beauty of NYC is that their streets are numbered. It’s pretty easy to figure out. The hard part was the train station. I got my bag and saw all of these people standing around monitors. I checked the train table on the wall, and noticed that I needed to figure out which station I had to catch the train on. I tried and tried to figure it out. I was starting to panic about missing my flight. Finally, I asked someone. This guy kind of figured it all out for me and told me which station to go to. I went to the station and there was a train there but nothing to identify it as the one I needed. I started to panic. Finally, I asked someone standing on the train if it went to the airport. He had no idea, but luckily the guy beside him did and said yes. Whew! On the train where it never announced a station! Crap! Where are we? I recognized the first station, but after that not really! When we came into a station I recognized as possibly being the airport I asked someone again. Yep. It’s my stop.

I did it. To NYC and back to the airport! On time. Through the uncomfortable. I did it. When I tell people this story they are amazed that I went to New York alone. They have asked if I was afraid, or nervous. Naturally! But my desire to see the city was bigger than the fear.

Do your best stories start out with I was comfortably hanging out at home? Probably not! Think about it. What do you want to do? Does it make you a little nervous? It’s ok! I doubt that anyone did anything awesome without being a little uncomfortable. Get uncomfortable and then get bold! Do something big.

*my boyfriend was on a direct flight. We didn’t travel together.

Joy Yoga

Are you happy? Truly, honestly, unhesitatingly happy? Lately I have been thinking a lot about happiness and what makes me happy. I have been searching for books about happiness and they all seem to be centered around someone having a shit ton of money, while traveling to some exotic destination for months at a time, and then writing a book about it. Not all of us can take that kind of time off work, or have book deals (or want them), or that kind of money. Is it possible to find a little happiness in the midst of your real life? With teenage boys? With a full time job? As a single parent? Good question.

Can you force happiness? Is it learned? So many questions and I have zero answers. For now I just try to get through the day with my sanity intact, but I want more. I want my sanity and a smile of my face too. Not crazy Jack Nicholson smile! A real one. Seems ridiculous to write a whole blog post about happiness and have no conclusion. I have no answers nor do I have project based on it. I just want to be happy.

Speaking of happy, I am teaching yoga again. My sabbatical ended a little early. I was giving myself until January 2014, but a few opportunities came up so I am going to take them. I am starting to feel ready. I have been practicing for myself and feel ready to share that piece again. Monday night you’ll find me teaching at Grinnell College to their yoga club. I have taught there before and it’s always a good time. Young people energy!

This melancholy post is brought to you by the letters I and L and L. Yep, I be ill’n. I am so lucky to have a wonderful boyfriend serving me drinks and making me dinner and breakfast.


OJ cocktail made with orange juice, throwback sierra mist, and a touch of vanilla. Tastes just like an orange julius!



Sad total for September food? $715
Now, that is groceries, booze, and dining. Not really a solid defense, but it’s what I got.

Some things I learned from this about myself, which I probably already knew, is that I am an impulse food shopper and diner. I get a craving, and I go for it. This last month made me even more painfully aware of it. The good news is that now I am more aware of it, I can now change it. The other thing I learned is that I have no concept of adding up money when shopping or out eating. I forget what I already put in the cart, or added to my order, and keep a low low low total running in my head. I believe I do this with my bank account too. I keep a balance in my head and never realistically subtract what I spend.

Now for October, this month I am switching to the envelope system. My friend assures me that it worked for her and her husband. I think this will be good for my kids too. When they ask for something I can physically show them how much money is left for dining and groceries. To start I am going to put $100 a week in the grocery envelope, $25 in the entertainment envelope, and $80 in the gas envelope. The gas is a little tricky since I commute for work, but we will start with that.

In other news, there will actually be other news! I have lots to share this month and can not wait. No more money talk except small updates about how it’s going. I promise! We are going to talk about art/photography, the new studio, photography tips, and yoga.

The mac and cheese is our new family favorite. Who wouldn’t love bacon in their mac and cheese. I used Havarti and cheddar. The smooth creamy Havarti is a nice compliment to the sharp cheddar. I made a roux with 1/4c butter and 1/3c flour, cooked that down and added milk, adding cheese, then mac and then bacon.

Man, I blew it! I did really well until this weekend with the kids in house. Power out at the house Thursday led to us eating out. Not cheaply. We went camping Saturday and that really made me blow my budget. Whatever, it was fun and I’m not going to stress about it. Memories made with the kids. We figured out how to make chili cheese tots over the fire.

One awesome thing over the weekend was brunch at Salt Fork Farms in Solon, Iowa. YUM! Their grand opening was on Sunday. We packed up camp and went into town to chow down. Bloody mary bar? Don’t mind if I do.


All homemade! So delicious and only $3.50!


I had The Jethro: biscuit, sausage, poached egg, and gravy. It was exactly what a worn out camper needed.

September Total? Ummmm, $391.30

Playing catch up is hard. It’s been a crazy, busy, awesome weekend. I’ll make this easy on myself and throw up a bunch of images and give you the sad total.


Thursday night I had a photo shoot downtown which made for a super busy evening. Izaak was sweet enough to arrive at my place with this awesome dinner.


This weekend a friend and I traveled to Cedar Falls to Field of Yoga for a yoga workshop with Jim Bennitt. We stayed with a friend had had a great night. Maybe a little too great? This Pancheros was purchased at 12am if that give any indication of it’s craziness.


Told you it was a good night…


Dinner tonight was a fantastic fish in butter sauce and salad.

September total = 151.10

Catching up here. Life gets hectic, and sticky, and down right messy. Sucks, and it reminds me of a blog post I recently read. It has come back into my head over, and over, and over again since I read it. Seems important, so I’m sharing it. “You see what you are looking for”.

I do believe it is time to start seeing the awesome. Looking for the awesome. It’s in there. I just know it.

On to the food spending challenge. Sunday we ate out due to a clogged drain. I didn’t complain. All of my waffle lunch dishes were still in the sink so instead of making an even bigger mess we ordered Chipotle for dinner.


Sunday I went to a late morning yoga class. Got home around lunch time and realized I was all out of eggs. I used an eggless waffle recipe which wasn’t really hard to find. They were pretty darn good. I made a mango sauce to top it and had planned on topping that with coconut whipped cream. I’ll remember next time to read all of the instructions before starting the process. Coconut milk is not like egg whites, and they will not whip up like egg whites. Whoops!

The kids are at their Dads this week so this is, in theory, my cheap week. Yesterday was pretty easy. Zero spent. Had a gift card for Subway. Izaak made dinner of chicken enchiladas. So delicious. I was starving after the gym and forgot to take a picture.


Zero spent today too. Leftovers for lunch and awesome boyfriend made potstickers for dinner. I was starving after a massage which was possibly the best massage I have ever had in my entire life! Wanted a vodka tonic and giant bowl of artichoke dip. Izaak was super boyfriend and saved my ass from spending any money. He mixed me up a cocktail and worked fast to rustle me up some food.

September total: $75.10 (+19.90)


Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all.


Today was a bit of a fail. I caved and went to the store for burger fixings. I mentioned the emotional eating/food spending, right? Well yeah, that’s what happened, and when the eldest asked for burgers, I was on it. Practically running out the door to go to the store. I will say that I had some restraint while shopping. I got the basics. ground beef, cheddar, buns, and twice baked potatoes. Totally resisting the urge to go get gouda, bbq sauce, and bacon. Resisting the urge to get stuff to make pimento cheese. Resisting the urge to get a giant tube of chocolate chip cookie dough. See? I’m proud. I’m standing tall muthaf*ckers!

Seriously though, I made it 7 days before breaking down and veering off my menu path. It’s a win in my book.

stuffed mushroom

I wrote that yesterday evening and then forgot to post. It was funny. As I wrote that I remembered that I had mushrooms in the fridge, and blue cheese, and fake cream cheese….lightbulb moment! I whipped together these blue cheese stuffed mushrooms, and they were good! Really good. I used this recipe as my base and then made a bunch of changes.

September total = $55.20 (+16.71)


I forgot to take pictures of my awesome cuppow today. Awesome might be a strong word. I took a salad to work with soy sesame dressing. The dressing, due to it’s liquid form, was trying to escape all day. No matter how carefully I carried it, I somehow ended up with dressing on my hands, sleeves, and desk. Fingers crossed that I didn’t screw the lid down tight enough and it’s not a crappy product. I love the idea of it and have been thinking about all the delicious things I will put in it.

Breakfast: End of week. Out of yogurt. Handful of granola.
Lunch: Salad from my cuppow! I love to say cuppow. Not sure if I pronounce it correctly but I say it like cu-POW!(as in, right in the kisser)
Dinner: Spaghetti! This amused me. I was out of noodles but had some asian wheat noodle things. They are all curled up like little nests and there are about 12 nests in a bag. I made 4 nests which was perfect for the four of us. I had left over sauce that my boyfriend made for me on Tuesday, and I had sausage from the pizza photo shoot to finish off…and cheese. Turned out pretty good.

Confession: I am a planner and I love routine. There. I said it. Having a real menu for the week is so comforting to me. I know what I have in my house. I know what we can make for dinner. I know! The other shocking news, I CRAVE routine. So much of my life is out of control. Admittedly because I make it that way. I realize that. I love spontaneity and can’t stand being tied down to a plan. Wait, what? It’s true. I’m a wild card! I am a spontaneous person who loves to plan and have routines.

For some reason that all makes perfect sense to me. I have my routine of getting up early in the morning to have some coffee and dink around online. After that I don’t even care what happens! Anything can happen because I’m ready for it! The planning part comes in because I like to know I have options. Before all of this budgeting and spending thing I would plan meals, go to the store, and then on a whim throw it all out the window (kind of literally) and do whatever I wanted. The goal here is to actually stick to the food plan and waste less. Hence the throwing it out the window. Perhaps this is a exercise in balance. I balance my routine with spontaneity as well as my planning with wasting.

September total $38.49

(had to run to Target and got chips and hummus for the kids)