Quote to live by?
“In order to move forward, you have to give back.” -Oprah Winfrey. This is something that means so much to me, and Matt, too. My entire family has a way of doing anything for anyone and I love them for that. Giving back doesn’t have to mean monetarily. A simple ‘thank you’ note or repaying someone in a favor is a way to give back to someone that impacted or helped you.
My Favorite Murder and the Joe Rogan Experience (specifically episodes #1276, #1282 and #1291)
Favorite Dinner Spots in Iowa City?
My all-time favorite has to be Chop House. Honorable mentions are La Vecina, Marquee Pizzeria, Big Grove Brewery (specifically the chicken tacos!), Mosley’s and Graze (specifically the lunch buffet).
Drink of Choice?
Diet Coke, always. Sparkling water. Any kind of wine, I’m not picky.
Be kind, work hard, don’t let fear keep you from doing.
Last thing you splurged on?
A flight to Nashville!
My own morning show, host an award show, College Gameday host, host the NFL Draft, Good Morning America, host a gameshow or televised talent show. I want to be known as the female Ryan Seacrest – doer of all things!
Nothing beats Christmas at home with my family. The warmth of having the people you the love the most around you is the best feeling. Plus, we have so many traditions that we’ve been doing since we were kids that are still just as fun.
What would you tell your 18 year old self?
Smile more. Don’t bother with the guy you know isn’t the one. Be more forgiving. Take more time to look around and ENJOY your life. Realize how blessed you are.
One food you can’t live without?
Cheese. All kinds of cheese.
A gooey, undercooked brownie. With powdered sugar on top because that’s how my mom makes them.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. My dad introduced me to it a long time ago and I watch it on repeat when I’m sick.
#1 Destination on your list?
Italy! I want to see the sights and eat all the food. Can you imagine the cheese they have there?
Anywhere with a view and a front porch to drink coffee on in the morning.
Favorite streaming shows?
Netflix: The Good Place. The Office. My Next Guest with David Letterman. To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved.
Hulu: The Handmaid’s Tale. The Act.
HBO: Pretty Little Lies
Accomplishment that made me most proud?
An International All Star Cheerleading Championship. Becoming an Iowa Cheerleader. My position with the Hawkeyes.
Favorite Ice Cream?
Anything that has candy, cookies or slivered almonds in it.
Favorite thing about Matt?
He encourages me be my truest most authentic self. He’s never tried to change me and he’s embraced my weirdest traits. While he loves me for who I am, he makes me want to be a better version of myself.
Over communicate. Listen to each other. Take time to truly know each other. Always have each others’ back, no matter what. You’re on the same team.
Song to get you amped?
Contra by Logic (thanks, Matt)
Best concert you’ve ever been to?
Luke Bryan & Jason Aldean my senior year of high school. I went with three of my best friends and looking back, it was such a carefree night.
Moment that changed your life?
When Matt proposed to me on the field at Kinnick Stadium.
Something challenging you’re working through right now?
Having the ability to turn some opportunities down. I always think I can do more, work on more projects and accept more tasks, but I have to be more cognizant of getting burnt out.
What one of your scars has the best story behind it?
I don’t have many… but probably the one on the front of my ankle. I fell off my bike while it was standing still waiting to go down a hill that I was afraid of. I scraped my ankle and my dad had to carry me from our neighbor’s house back to ours while I cried like a giant baby and insisted for the rest of the night that I couldn’t walk. Very indicative of how much of a baby I was (and still am).
Weirdest things about me.
I am constantly humming or singing and I could sleep for 14 hours everyday if I let myself. I'm not a hugger, but I'm trying to be better!
While I'm cleaning, doing my makeup or relaxing, I typically have my iPad nearby with a podcast, show or movie playing. I'm very particular about what I watch and listen to and I've got a solid list of my must-watch shows & movies or must-listen podcasts.
The Joe Rogan Experience
Matt introduced me to this one and I love it! Every episode is unique with a different guest or expert on each one. There are so many interesting and thought provoking topics and debates that he covers and Joe really just knows how to ask all of the right questions. Each episode is around 2+ hours, perfect for a long drive or plane ride. Specifically, here are my favorite episodes:
#1276 - Ben Shapiro
#1282 - Adam Conover
#1291 - C.T. Fletcher*
*I've mentioned this one on my Instagram, it's truly my favorite.
My Favorite Murder
I know everyone and their mom is probably already listening to MFM, but to be fair, I just started listening a few months ago! It sounds super morbid, but it's so, so funny. The hosts, Karen and Georgie, have infectious personalities and laughs that will truly brighten your day. How weird to say a podcast about murder will brighten your day...? I don't have a specific few episodes to note, but really any of their recent ones are gold.
The Morning Toast
ANY FELLOW TOASTERS OUT THERE?! This podcast is hilarious to me. The two sisters, Claudia and Jackie O. crack me up and remind me so much of me and my sister. They mostly talk about pop-culture news and cover anything from Elon Musk to yesterday's Bachelorette episode. This isn't a listen for anyone looking for anything serious, it's really just an entertaining podcast that will fill you in on the lives of The Real Housewives (if you're into that kind of thing).
The GaryVee Audio Experience
I've shifted away from this one recently, but I really like his general message. He's a no B.S. guy who wants everyone to work hard, be kind, and follow your happiness every single day. Matt and I both find a lot of inspiration in his words and business advice. If you feel like you need a kick in the butt to get some shit done, I'd recommend some GaryVee.
Today is our official 2nd wedding anniversary! It's so fun to look back on our wedding day and remember how special and fun it truly was. There's something to be said about celebrating your love and commitment to each other with all of the most important people in your life, all in one room.
Last night we went back to Dubuque, Iowa, where we got married, to have a night to ourselves sort of reliving the day. We'd planned to go to the cake shop that made our amazing wedding cake to grab some cupcakes, then go to our rehearsal dinner spot to have a glass of wine, take some photos at our wedding venue, and then go to dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant (my favorite in the area). Sounds like a great idea, right?
2:30pm Leaving Iowa City
As we were getting ready to leave, Matt reminded me that he'd lost his wedding ring (his third one in two years, thank goodness for Qalo rings). Well, we can't take anniversary photos not wearing a freaking wedding ring, so we had to make a VERY last minute, rushed stop at Scheels to grab a new ring. We then rushed to my parents' house to drop off Tuddie (thanks for watching her, mom and dad), then we were on our way!
We were in a pretty big hurry, because the cake shop closed at 5. If anyone knows Matt, he's ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS hungry. Food comes before literally everything and of course, he was hungry. So, we had to stop of at a fast food spot (even though we were in a hurry...). Okay, did that, now we're on our way.
An hour and 30 minutes later, we finally got there. It was 4:52, plenty of time before they closed! We couldn't find a parking space, so Matt dropped me off and I ran up to the door to find.... that it was closed. We tried so hard to get there before 5, we DID, and it was closed. Turns out it closes at 5 OR when they sell out... Their cakes and desserts are absolutely amazing so it's honestly not surprising that they sell out regularly. Anyway, we brushed it off and continued on. So now it's 5:00 and we don't have our shoot until 6:15, so we had to find something to bide the time.
The night before our wedding (and the night of) Matt and his groomsmen went to the casino and he walked away with like $40 or something. So we figured, why not buy some time at the casino? First of all, I hate casinos because they stink, it's dark and I really don't like wasting money. BUT, we had nothing else to do and it CAN be fun sometimes - honestly, anything is fun when it's Matt and I. We stopped in, played a few slots and roulette. We bet red, it hit black. We bet odd, it hit even. We bet even, it hit odd. Literally lost three times at 1 to 2 odds. We lost $30 in 30 minutes and left.
5:30pm Wine plz
We still had 30 minutes until our shoot so I suggested we stop at the place we had our rehearsal dinner, Stonecliff Winery. They have the BEST strawberry rhubarb wine. We got there, it was packed, so I grabbed a glass of wine and we sat side-by-side in the only chairs that were available until it was time to head to the shoot. The wine was amazing, the seats were not ideal.
6:15pm - 7pm Photos
This was my favorite part of the day! Jess Denton from Monroe + Co. met us in Dubuque at the Grand River Center and she absolutely killed it. She actually took our engagement photos (the ones I'm still obsessed with and continue to post), so I knew she'd do an amazing job. We took photos for about 30 minutes, which would normally drive Matt crazy, but she has a way of making it fun and keeping him entertained. Again, this was by far the best part of our night and I'm so thankful that her and her husband were able to be there and capture the perfect photos for us.
All of the photos on this post are the ones that Jess took!
I LOVE this little Italian place in downtown Dubuque, it's super romantic and the food is amazing. I wanted to go there so, so badly. We drove around this tiny town for 25 minutes looking for a parking spot. I was driving at the time and uh... may have gone down a one way street the wrong way... no one was hurt and we didn't get pulled over... but like, WHAT.
After 25 minutes of driving around, slightly bottoming out Matt's car, and Matt getting out to attempt to hold parking spots by standing in them, we finally found this TINY parking ramp. By tiny I mean I have no idea how an SUV got through. We parked on the top floor of the ramp and walked to the Italian restaurant.
Oh, did I mention it had started raining? It was pouring rain when we got out of the car. I had a small umbrella so we walked the three blocks. I was wearing heels that gave me a couple of blisters. Right before we walked in the door Matt said, "watch us walk in and they tell us it's hour wait." To which I replied, "I would cry."
We walked in the door to see a few open tables. The hostess told us it would be an hour wait.
I didn't cry. We just walked out back into the rain. A couple doors down was a little ice cream place that advertised hot dogs and pizza, too. We walked in and were going to settle for a hotdog. GUESS WHAT. They didn't have any food left!
We walked a few more doors down to a restaurant that I won't tell you the name of. We sat down for dinner at a place that was a little more expensive than what we wanted to spend at a place that we didn't really know. $72.94 later and it was by far the worst food I have ever, ever eaten. The smell of my meal almost made me throw up, so Matt switched me (fun fact: Matt doesn't have a sense of smell). His wasn't much better. We both took about three bites, paid, and went back out into the rain to our car.
We'd intended on getting dessert from the place that we had dinner, but needless to say we didn't trust their dessert. So we hopped in the car and drove to Dairy Queen (through two detours, I should add). The ice cream was great. Thanks, Dairy Queen.
We finally got back to my parent's house after doing EXTRA slow through the pouring down rain. Matt could barely see. We picked up Tuddie and drove 30 minutes home. Then we went to sleep.
This was not what we had in mind for celebrating out 2nd anniversary. But, the silly things that happened last night are indicative of what marriage is about. Things aren't always going to go our way and sometimes we're going to lose. There are going to be times where we'll feel like it's us against the world and we're just out here weathering the storm. Last night we truly just laughed through it all. Although it wasn't what we wanted our expected out of the night (outside of the photos), we were able to laugh it off and move on. Because no matter what life throws at us, it's incredibly comforting knowing that we're doing it together.
Life has a funny way of throwing things at you like that, but we went to sleep knowing that today was a new day and that we were in it as a team. This was such a healthy reminder to practice not sweating the small stuff and to look at each other and smile wide at the bumps along the way.
Happy Mother's Day weekend to all the moms out there (especially mine)!
I've come up with a list of all of the most important lessons my mom has taught me over the years. I've got many lessons to learn from her in the coming years, but this list is just a little glimpse into why Connie reigns supreme as the best mom in the whole world.
But in all seriousness, she's my biggest influence and the person I strive to make proud every single day. I probably look to her for approval a bit more than I should, but she's one of the most important women in my life and literally the reason I exist, ha. So, I hope this list of Connie's advice gives you some inspiration in the same way it does for me.
1. It's okay to quit
Boy, do I love my mom for this one. It might not be a popular one but it's got a deeper meaning than what it looks like on the surface. I hear all the time that parents won't let their kid quit something they hate because they want their kid to learn that quitting isn't an option. My mom calls BS on that and teaches me to this day that quitting IS OKAY.
She's given me the gift all these years of knowing that I am in control of my life, that it's most important to do the things that make me happy and to toss the things that make me unhappy. Now, she also taught me that when I quit something I'm responsible for the repercussions, but I absolutely love this advice and I'll be so happy to teach my kids this same lesson.
2. Idolize NO ONE
I remember driving home from middle school one day and asking my mom for a Justin Bieber notebook. To which she responded, "why would you want that?" I told her I really loved his music and that I was his biggest fan. She then told me that I should never idolize a celebrity, or anyone for that matter. She's always instilled in me that you shouldn't strive to be like someone else, but to strive to beat everyone else.
From that day on I've never had an idol or a role model other than myself. My parents and my siblings are the closest thing I have to role models, but beyond that I don't hold others on a pedestal, no matter their status. This is probably where a lot of my confidence comes from in my career, too. If you don't hold people on a pedestal higher than your own, you'll never be nervous to talk to anyone!
Needless to say, I didn't get the Justin Bieber notebook... but after that talk, I didn't want it anymore.
3. Generosity & Kindness = The Keys
This one comes from her mom, my grandma Audrey. I've never met a kinder woman than her and thankfully, I can see a lot of her in my mom. Everyone who knows her would agree that Connie would do anything for anyone. Here are just a few examples:
When I was in high school she was the cheerleading "sponsor", so she hired coaches and oversaw everything that went on with every team (in a nutshell). It was a LOT of work handling three cheer squads and a ton of stress managing all of those high school girls. She put in countless hours and got paid $0. Although she technically had a "salary", she gave it all back to the cheerleading program so that we were able to get new uniforms each year, t-shirts, and so much more.
There were frequently girls on the team who couldn't afford to buy their own winter cheerleading coat for cold football games, the Nike cheer shoes, extra shorts, and competition fees. Instead of turning the away, my mom paid for those items for the girls. She supplied many of the girls with the gear under the radar and never expected so much as a "thank you" in return.
The list goes on and on in her everyday life. From handing out extra blankets in our car to a homeless man outside of Fareway to packing me a bag of groceries after every Sunday dinner (to this day), my mom is such a kinda and generous person who cares deeply for everyone she meets. Everyone can strive to be a bit more like that everyday.
My mom is an absolute light in a room. She smiles kindly, she talks to anyone and she's just a generally happy person. That happiness and light comes from her sense of confidence and it's something I've really picked up on in just the last few years.
She's always taught me to carry myself and hold my head high no matter the circumstance. It's such an important lesson and I'm so incredibly thankful that she has not only taught me it, but also led by example. I would never be able to do what I do on-camera without her constant support and her being my biggest hype-woman over the years. (Side note: my mom actually talked me into broadcast and I have her to thank for my career).
5. Love and Respect Your Husband
I am so, so lucky to have a set of parents like my mom and dad (by the way, today is their 39th anniversary!!!). Not a day goes by that I don't think about how amazing they are and what they've done and continue to do for me. I remember the night before Matt and I got married my mom gave me a heartfelt, hand-written letter that I still have stashed away (as a matter of fact, I just read it the other day). She told me in the letter to always respect and love Matt and that we are to protect each other.
I had never really thought about it that way, but what a perfect way to sum up my parents relationship. They truly respect and protect one another. Marriage is such a wonderful thing that I'm so lucky to have and I thank my mom for showing me what a perfect, loving wife looks like.
6. Don't Take Sh*t From Anyone
I love this one :) Although she's one of the kindest and more generous people I've ever met, she's also a hard nosed, no BS woman. The last thing you'll see her do is lay down to be walked on. She's shown and taught me to always stand up for what I believe and to never let a single person make me feel small. She's a kind soul, but she's also a power house that always finds a way to get what she deserves. I've learned from her that you don't get what you want by begging for it, but you get it by working super hard and being undeniably good at what you do.
She's learned a lot of the hard-nosed mentality from her dad and I love that she's a good mix of stubbornness and kindness. In such a pivotal time in America where women are standing up for what they believe in, I look to my mom as the definition of a woman. She's here to be kind, but she's also here to get things done and I think those are the people who make the biggest impact on our community and on our world.
THANK YOU, MOM. I LOVE YOU.
It's truly hard to believe we've already been married almost two years - I feel like our massively fun wedding was just yesterday! We've learned a TON in our first couple of years being married and I know there's still an entire lifetime of lessons to be learned. But, that being said, I want to share with you what I've gathered from this first lil' bit of time.
If you're also married and are like "two years is nothing, wait until you get to seven", I feel you and I understand... we're technically still in our honeymoon stage. Also, if you've got children and are like, "just wait until you have kids, everything will change", I feel you on that, too. Children are not in our immediate future, but I've watched my sister and her husband raise three little ones and have seen how much of your life they'll change (in the best way)!
With ALL of that being said, here are my tips and tricks to long-term relationships and marriage.
The Most Important Meal of the Day
No, it's not breakfast (because intermittent fasting). Our most important meal is the one we have together - dinner! Assuming we're home, I make dinner for Matt and I every. single. night. We leave the phones in the living room, turn off the TV, and use our dinner time to discuss our day. It's completely uninterrupted time (outside of Tuddie begging for scraps) for the two of us to share the stress, success, or mediocrity of the day.
It's a time for us to talk candidly about things we're nervous about or something exciting that's coming up. We also take this time to share the things that are driving us nuts about the other. I might take a moment to tell him that I'm NOT going to hang up another damn sweatshirt he has lying around downstairs because it's not mine and he doesn't hang my clothes up but I hang his up and that "not knowing where mine go" isn't an excuse!!!.... sheesh, sorry.
Anyway.... this brings me to my next point!
If you've never seen the video of the little boy telling Linda to LISTEN TO HIM HONEY, click here because it's worth the watch.
Listening to you S/O is so, so important and is one of the basic fundamentals of a relationship. In the point prior to this one we discussed how dinner time is a time to talk, but it's also a time to listen. Truthfully, Matt doesn't care about my opinions on whether or not Jordyn Woods and Kylie Jenner will reconcile their differences... but if that's the most noteworthy thing that happened in my day, he better be listening! You should constantly be listening to and learning about your S/O because that's the easiest way to show that you care.
Dates Aren't Hard.
If you follow me on Instagram you've likely seen the goofy videos of us playing mini golf, ski ball, or throwing away money on the claw machine. Those are our favorite kinds of dates, but it requires us to both have a free night -- AKA, hard to come by.
There's this idea that a date night is only considered a date night when there's all this thought or money behind it and that you HAVE to go out for dinner. I say FALSE. A date night in is just as fun and worth while if you give your undivided attention to each other. We make date nights out of spaghetti and Fort Nite, that might not be your cup of tea, but it doesn't have to be! In my book, a date is simply an opportunity for you and your S/O to have time to yourselves outside of work, school, and whatever else your day-to-day includes. Leave it behind and do something you love, even if that means taking a break from your healthy lifestyle to chow down a greasy pizza on the couch.
Support. Each. Other.
This is most important part of this blog. If you skimmed the rest of my points, I hope you tune your brain into this one and retain it. Supporting your S/O is a necessity for a happy and healthy relationship. One person's dreams should never falter because of the dreams of the other. Never. Ever.
My broadcast career is one that requires weird hours, a lot of work, not a lot of pay (at first), and travel. Matt's football career requires weird hours, a lot of work, no pay (at first) and travel. So how could we both possibly make that work while giving our marriage the attention it needs?
We spend a lot of time apart doing the things that will help us get ahead in our careers. It requires sacrifices of time together, but it also forces us to make the most out of the time we do get. I seriously urge you to talk with your S/O and have open conversations about your craziest goals and dreams. If they support you, they're a winner. If they tell you you're silly, thank you, next. Be your husband or wife's biggest cheerleader. On the way to the top there will be a million people to tell you no, but to have a constant yes in your corner could be what gets you there.
The biggest emphasis I want to make in this tip is to talk about your goals, weigh the sacrifices, and urge your S/O to go for it.
Communication is THE KEY.
Yet another one that I can't stress enough. TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN.
"Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game" - The dad in A Cinderella Story. Such a good movie. The point of that quote (from a very underrated film, love you, Hillary Duff) is that even if you think what you're about to tell him/her is going to make them mad, SAY IT ANYWAY. Have healthy conversations and debates that can help you hash things out. If you keep it all bottled up for too long and then explode out of anger, it won't turn out well for either of you.
In our book, there's not such thing as over-communication. It's not just about asking how their day was and what the weather looks like the for the rest of the week. That is small talk. It's about connecting and understanding your S/O on a level that nobody in the world can. That's your person! Think Meredith Grey and Christina Yang. Share the world with them, every thought you're having about a career change, the things that scare you, and what you want for the future. Without communication and MEANINGFUL communication, your relationship becomes a friendship. Through talking and listening to each other, your relationship or marriage becomes something irreplaceably special.
Okay that's all for now. Those are my biggest tips that I've picked up in our first couple years of marriage! If you're looking for some Cliff Notes: just be open, honest, and get to really KNOW your S/O. There's a lot of life to be had with each other, but we're in it together and that's the best part!
Do you ever just get to get to a point in your day where your elbows are fixed on your desk, your forehead is resting on your hands and your eyes have officially zoned out? I like to call this pose, "frozen in to-do".
A lot of times I find myself completely lost and stuck on where to turn next. I've got some much to do but I have absolutely no idea where to start. Between managing social media for a restaurant downtown, co-directing marketing for a dance studio, reporting for the Hawkeyes, being a puppy mom, and an attentive wife, daughter, sister and friend... LIFE GETS ME CRAZY SOMETIMES.
We all have dozens of roles that we play and a million and one tasks to complete throughout the day. If you ever find yourself in a "frozen in to-do" pose, keep on reading for 5 ways to help you manage your priorities.
1. LISTS ON LISTS
Tip #1: Create a list for absolutely everything that you do WITH boxes to check next to each task. If you know you have to do laundry, rather than writing "do laundry", write something that looks like this:
- Hang up
- Put away in dresser
This might look like a lot more work, but the satisfaction of crossing off each task after you've finished it is really satisfying.
Tip #2: Separating your lists. DO NOT make one giant to-do list, that totally overwhelms me. Get out separate sheets of paper (with fun colored pens if you're into that) and write our separate lists. One for work, one for home, etc.
Tip #3: Put the task that will require the most time and effort at the top of your list. This could also be the most important task or something that needs to be done in a timely manner. In other words, be sure to prioritize your list.
Tip #4: Make a new list every single day. Every morning when you're looking at what needs to be done, just start a new list. If this sounds monotonous and you're thinking "who has time for that?"... set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than usual, brew a cup of coffee, and give yourself time to write your lists and prepare for the day.
2. SCHEDULE BY TIME
What I mean is this:
Once you have this written down or typed out, you can then refer back to your lists of tasks to see where those tasks will fill in between your scheduled items. Tedious, but will help you feel like an organized QUEEN (or KING).
3. GET A GREAT PLANNER
I don't have a partnership with any planner companies...which makes me so sad...but I do have a favorite.
I use the Passion Planner. I just got it this year and absolutely love it. It's got plenty of room to plan out my days according to time and big open space at the bottom of each page for reminders and random crap. It's got a lot of features to help keep you on the right track to reach your goals, too!
Sounds dumb and obvious, but in the past month I've been using breathing techniques as a way to chill myself out when I feel like I'm getting overwhelmed or anxious. I use an app called Headspace, and it's really worked wonders for me during the day and especially at night to unwind before bed. (Side note: I'm not a partner of the app, I just really love it).
Use the app to help yourself get out of your head for a second and focus on the things that are keeping you alive -- your breathe and your beating heart.
5. REMEMBER THE MOST IMPORTANT THING...
You are THE most important thing among every other task you have written down. We can all get wrapped up in the things we need and want to accomplish. You absolutely have to remember to take a step back every once in awhile and do something that will remove you from your lists.
Do what makes you calm. Take a yoga class. Walk around Target with a Starbucks. Take a bath. Put on a face mask. Go for a run. Spend time with family. Just remember that you are the most important thing to take care of.
HEY. It's been awhile since I've updated my website and especially my "Blog" tab. I've been surprisingly busy this summer, which isn't totally normal in my line of work.
I've dedicated this website to a lot of different things, but I realized that I never actually mentioned what I do when I'm too busy to update all my fun tabs.
If you're reading this, maybe you're familiar, but I've dedicated the last (almost) two years to being the Host of Hawkeye Sports. As their host, I spend my time to sharing the stories of all 24 of our athletic teams. My goal is to bring the fans closer to the coaches and student-athletes. I absolutely adore my job and couldn't be happier with the work that I do for the Athletic Department. There is nothing better or more fulfilling than this job and I thank God everyday that I am where I am with the Hawks!
The reason I wanted to write up this post is because I wanted readers to know that I'm not putting the blog on the back burner for no good reason. Plus, sports reporting is my life, so why not talk about it on a website dedicated to my favorite things?!
I also wanted to share my newly updated demo reel. I've finally gotten together some of my favorite clips from my past two years at Iowa and I wanted to get it out there! I'm so proud of how far I've come and am so grateful for how much Iowa has allowed me to grow.
Anyway, enjoy and feel free to share on social media!
1. Fajitas & Margs
We don't make Mexican food all too often at home, so it's one of my favorite nights out. Chicken fajitas with ALL the toppings with endless chips and salsa pairs SO well with a couple of flavored margaritas.
Here is Iowa City one of our favorite places is El Patron in the Ped Mall. (P.s. Don't miss out on their wildly good deals on Taco Tuesday).
2. Pizza & Bowling
Bowling is one of our favorite dates. I alway lose... but it's fun to get out and do something mildly active after a big pizza. We're probably some of the least picky pizza eaters... but in the area, we LOVE a couple of places.
Our very favorite is actually in Cedar Rapids . Yes, we'll drive 30 minutes for Roscoe's Pizza. Another good one, an Iowa City classic, is Pagliai's Pizza. Their pepperoni & jalepeno pizza... currently drooling just typing about it. Last but not least, I'm a huge Marquee Pizza fan. It's new just this year in Coralville and their menu is so interesting and fun. It's a fun vibe with some unique flavor combinations. So grab a pie from one of those places before bowling!
3. Takeout Picnic
Picnics are a fun change of scenery, you’re in the open and there’s no one around to interrupt conversation. I love this date when we need a night for JUST the two of us - to really get away from it all when we don’t have time for a real vacation.
I really like the takeout part of this one too. It takes the work out of it and makes for an even more relaxing night. It doesn’t have to be fast food! I like to grab burgers or chicken sandwiches with fries and pop. The ultimate feel good food to go with your feel good date.
4. Spaghetti & Mini Golf
We have one mini golf place in the immediate area and it’s... small. But that doesn’t take away from the fun of it! It’s an indoor course that’s connected to our bowling alley and it’s so much fun to put around with a little friendly competition is a perfect way to let loose and be kids again.
I like to pair this date with Italian food. Not only is it delicious, but it’s romantic! Since you’re bringing the romance down a bit with mini golf, why not pick it up with wine and shared spaghetti noodles!
So, there ya have it! A few date nights that will bring you and your S.O. together for a little something different.
P.s. these dates pair perfect with my outfit in the above pics - check out the links to the pieces in the Fashion tab.
A little over a year ago Matt and I brought home a sweet fur baby, Tuddie. She's a whopping 18-pound salt and pepper Miniature Schnauzer from the sweetest family in Argyle, Iowa. I remember that day we brought her home like it was just yesterday. We drove home with a tiny three-pound puppy that we instantly fell in love with. She was definitely partial to Matt at first, and didn't quite know what to think of me just yet...
After that initial excitement faded, the first three-ish weeks of dog ownership were HARD. I was probably dramatic, but then again, we got her at a pretty hectic time in our lives too. Luckily, Matt was still in college and on Winter Break when we brought her home. So he was with her non-stop for the first week.
She's definitely learned a lot in the past year - she loves her kennel, knows where to do her business, and even picked up some tricks along the way. Although she's taken in a lot, I think little Tuddie has taught us more lessons than we've taught her.
WE'RE NOT READY FOR KIDS
Before we decided on getting a pup, I have to admit, I was having major "baby fever". Since we'd gotten married and moved in to a new place I thought, "why not?" Matt was against it for so many of the right reasons. I was in a weird baby fog that only Matt could talk me out of, so we compromised on the dog instead.
We soon learned that it's a bit daunting to give up some of your freedom. We couldn't leave her home for more than two hours at a time when she was a baby, and even now we don't leave her for more than five. You can't leave babies at home alone... ever...
It all really boils down to, we're not ready to give up our free time together quite yet. We were always told to wait to have kids after getting married - to really enjoy each other's company and learn about one another. Tuddie has really opened our eyes to the truth in that advice.
OUR PARENTING STYLES DIFFER
I'm sure you can guess this one. Matt is much more stern with her than I could ever be. I let her get away with much more than he does. She can look at me with one little puppy dog face and she'll get what she's asking for. Matt on the other hand... he doesn't sway when it comes to those looks. I will say that most of her training (if not all) has come from him and his consistency. It's something that we have been working on since the beginning of our puppy parenting. It's also opened up conversations on how we'll parent our future children.
The good news is, we balance each other out a lot of the time. He's there to give me a that side eye glance like, "don't you dare give her that table food." And I'm there to give him the death glare like, "don't you dare scold her for putting a paw on the coffee table." Which brings me to my next point...
NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU TELL HER, "STAY OFF THE COFFEE TABLE"... SHE WILL STILL GET ON THE COFFEE TABLE...
This one sounds silly (also, Matt came up with this topic title and lesson). What we mean is that no matter how much training and scolding we put her through, she's going to be a puppy. We truly do our best to make her the best, most lovable dog she can be, but in the end she's really just a small furry kid!
Her personality shines brighter than any dog I've ever met and we wouldn't have it any other way. She's not good with strangers, she eats way too many pieces of garbage and paper we find on walks, and she just cannot grasp the concept of staying off of the damn coffee table! But, she's a work in progress just like anything - she's learning. Just like I always tell Matt, "she's just a baby!"
SHE'S A FINANCIAL COMMITMENT
I remember talking with Matt about how much money she was going to cost us. We estimated the cost of things like food, toys and... that's pretty much it. Not bad right? What we didn't consider was the shots, the frequent vet visits during puppyhood (because she eats anything she sees), medicine, the kennel (a tiny one and then a big one when she grew up), more toys because she destroys them all, a few different harnesses (because a girl can't have too many), her leash, another leash (because she chewed the other one, and grooming.
PRO TIP: BOARDING IS EXPENSIVE. Find incredible friends that will watch your fur baby because they love her. Shout out to Emily Rossiter and Kimberly Bates for being our heaven sent pup sitters. We couldn't have afforded boarding Tuddie. They were there, and continue to be there, through my crazy work schedule, our wedding, vacations, and football season. Love you guys!
If you've ever had a puppy growing up, you know this to be true. I have never loved anything as much as I do Tuddie. She's right by my side when I'm sad, she doesn't know my flaws, and even when we mess up a bit as parents, she's the first to forgive.
She's taught us a lot, but I think this is the most important. There isn't much that brightens my day more than walking into the house to find her uncontrollably excited to see me. The little wag of her tiny nub of a tail makes me smile every single time. We love this pup with all of our hearts and she loves us just the same, maybe more.
TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY. (A statement inspired by Dwight).
I was really sad to see 22 go... to say you're 22 feels so innocent and it's really a perfect excuse to not have anything figured out.
23 was a bit like that. You're still okay to be struggling financially and kids probably aren't in the near future.
BUT NOW. NOW I'm 24. I feel like this age sets you up for so many questions: "When are you having kids?!" "Oh, you're still renting an apartment...?" "What do you and your husband do?"
See, 24 is just a little scary, because I feel like an adult, for REAL. Okay, I might be exaggerating.... because I'm honestly pretty excited for what this year will bring! Matt and I will hopefully have a bit more figured out about our future, I'll be stepping up my role in my current job, and who knows what else.
Though I'm excited about what's to come, I think it's important to reflect on what I've learned in year 23 and there's two big lessons I'm definitely taking to 24.
1. FINDING THE SILVER LINING
Maybe it sounds a little obvious, but this year really taught me to change my perspective on life. After Matt broke his foot for the second time about a year ago, we really couldn't figure out WHY. I don't know that we'll ever find the answer to that question, but somehow we were able to find the good in that sh*tty situation.
Together we sifted through it all and found there actually were some positives that came out of that second break. I won't drag you through them all, but finding those silver linings, big or small, changed our perspective of his injury.
Since then, I've done this with every challenge we face. I've found a way to use this in my daily life to make any day a good day. Whether I'm late for work or Tuddie gets sick on our comforter (happens more than it should), I'm constantly searching for the good things that come from what might seem like something bad. Try it for yourself!
LINK TO THE DRESS: CLICK HERE
2. FINDING A BALANCE
I've done a good job in the past year of finding balance in my life. I started by pinpointing the things that are important to me and the things that make me happy. Once I narrowed those down I found the 4 legs to my chair that I need to keep balanced to live a happy daily life.
It starts with my marriage/family. It's important to me that my relationships with my parents and siblings are healthy and strong. I talk to my mom and sister at least three times per day on the phone and I like it that way! When I'm apart from my family for more than a week, I feel totally out of balance. I pair my marriage in with my family because Matt is just as important to me. We spend as much time as possible together because our relationship grows and feeds off of communication. Quality time with my family and my husband are definitely one of those chair legs.
Secondly, I need some alone time. This might be working out, yoga, reading a book, a warm bath, or cooking a big meal. Time to myself is crucial to my happiness! Having time to focus on my own thoughts counts as number 2.
My third leg to the chair is my job/career. I spend quite a bit of time focusing on my job and future career. I love what I do and I couldn't ask for a better job. The athletes and coaches I talk to are some of the most inspiring people in my life and I can't imagine a better job than mine. I feel fulfilled when I'm at work and it's absolutely one of the most important things in my life right now.
Finally, my social life takes the fourth leg. Though most of my time is taken up by the three above, I do require a bit of a social life. Time spent with friends gives my mind a break from everything else. Sometimes it all starts to become too much, and a simple dinner or drink date with my girls pulls me back to planet earth. The simple conversations or a small vent session to someone that really understands brings back the balance I need.
My advice is to find your three-legged stool or your four-legged chair and do your best to keep it balanced!
LINK TO THE SHOES: CLICK HERE
So, today I'm looking back at year 23 and being thankful for the things that happened and what I learned. But tomorrow, I'm looking ahead to 24 and what this year has in store for me. CHEERS TO ANOTHER YEAR!
DO YOU RELATE?