Sunday, May 13, 2018

Date Night Log 2018: Mini Golf - Dating Divas Style

For Shon's birthday this year I decided to do something a little different for one of his gifts. Whenever I ask him for gift ideas or what he wants, he says "time with you." Sweet, right? Sure, but also annoying when you're trying to buy someone a gift. ;) So this year I got him exactly that - time with me! I bought him a "Year of Dates" from the Dating Divas. They have a sports-themed package that I thought seemed perfect for us, so I bought the printables and a binder and gifted him 12 dates - one per month - with me!

We started with April instead of January, and headed out for dinner and mini-golfing! After a rather glutenous dinner at Texas Roadhouse where I ate *all* the bread, we headed over to Perfect Games, which just opened its new miniature golf course for the season!  We had Evelyn with us this time because we try not to use too many baby-sitter coupons in a row with grandma, but she enjoyed the fresh air and watching all the people.

April's date included an invitation for him to our date explaining what it included, a scorecard so that depending on who won the hole, one of us won a "prize" (think things like 15 minute back rub or getting to pick the movie). The pack also has a journal at the end where you reflect on a specific prompt for your relationship, as well as a scrapbook where you can paste pictures, write down favorite moments, and include scorecards (Shon won by 2 this time). There are also date alternatives, like Frisbee Golf, and some other cute printables, but I didn't get around to using them all this time.

If you haven't visited the Dating Divas yet, they don't just have great marriage and relationship ideas, there are family packs, too! The kids don't know that I have monthly activities planned for "family dates," too! I'm hoping once school is out I can start theirs and we can get into a routine before the craziness of school starts back up again in the fall!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Date Night Log 2018: The Buffalo Tavern

You all voted and we listened! We took our pre-movie date meal to The Buffalo Tavern in Burlington (they also now have an expansion in Fort Madison). The Buffalo is located south of downtown and is a great space for playing pool or darts, enjoying a family meal, or watching the hot sporting event of the season. There's an outside patio, TouchTunes (where I tend to spend more of Shon's tokens than he'd like on country music and boy bands), and a serving staff that knows what they're doing.

While we are not strangers to the Buff, especially Shon, we always seem to find something new to try! This isn't just the place I once beat Shon at darts (like how I was able to drop that in there?), this is home of the Buffaloin (tenderloin with buffalo sauce). Yes, it's as good as it sounds, but this time, this time I really went for it. If you've been following the blog/my IG you know that I'm in the middle of Beachbody's 80 Day Obsession. Typically this means I'm eating clean and focused on health and nutrition, but since we don't get back to Burlington often, I made an exception so that you all could benefit from the experience ;) - okay, or maybe I just wanted to eat some junk food.

But here it is.

My dinner. 

My fellow Iowans (and the rest of you), seekers of the next best Iowa tenderloin, I present to you: The Buffalo's Tenderloin Horseshoe (with a twist - I asked for mine to be done buffalo style and the added kick is well worth any heartburn you may experience later).

Served on an open face bun, this tenderloin is covered in peppers and onions, jalapenos, Monterey jack cheese sauce, fries, ranch, and for me, buffalo sauce. I'll be honest. I gave it a valiant effort. I really tried, but I was only able to finish about half of it. Of course, we also happened to have ordered the Mac and Jack Brew Bites (macaroni and cheese, bacon, and pepper jack cheese breaded and deep fried), so I'm sure that didn't help my situation, but it was worth every delicious calorie.

 Next time you're in southeast Iowa, or if you're just up for a tenderloin road trip (yes, I know people who do things like that), I can't recommend this stop enough!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Date Night Log 2018: Beer & Bread

Last month's Living History Farms Cabin Fever Series event was "Beer & Bread." I'd been to this one a couple times in the past with friends, and it's by far one of my favorites. I love how much the microbrew scene in Iowa has exploded, and we're always up for trying something new. While I prefer lighter and fruity beers, Shon is a huge fan of IPAs (although neither of us are drinking much of either these days as we continue the wedding countdown). 

LHF had a great selection of breweries this year, although fewer "breads" than I remember in the past. We had some great stuff from South Union Bakery though, and our favorite brewer of the day was Firetrucker. I was actually able to work with them to get drinks for our wedding based off of what we tried and heard about! My favorite of the day was their "Cat in a Tree" ginger beer. They were back at Cheese Festival this month (our April date) and I got to have it again. I've been looking for it in stores, but they said that they've been running a little low on that one lately. The Machine Shed was once again on site, and did NOT disappoint! Their beer cheese and pretzels were a giant hit for us - which they served at Cheese Festival also - and we can't wait to have it again!

Friday, April 27, 2018

5 Signs You're "A Little Bit Obsessed..."

I got home from work today with *just* enough time to squeeze in leg day before I had to pick the baby up from daycare. I logged into my Beachbody On Demand and... it was gone. All gone. All the Autumn was gone! For a short period (20 minutes-ish) BOD had a glitch and I couldn't find my workouts. It was in that moment, as I sat contemplating what to do without day 42 that I realized that I am on my way to being "a little bit obsessed" (which is conveniently the name of her shortened version workouts of 80 Day Obsession.

I came up with 5 signs you are "a little bit obsessed" with healthy living:

  • You have multiple apps on your phone to track your food, workouts, sleep habits, water intake, and overall well-being. I use FitBit, My Fitness Pal, and 21 Day Fix. 
  • You recommend exercise to your friends who are stressed out - TAKE TIME FOR YOU! Invest in yourself! You'll feel better after you're done. Yes, I'm that annoying person.
  • You analyze your day to figure out when and where your workouts best fit in, even when you have a crazy busy schedule - even if that means asking your kids to join you so you can be healthy together while you spend time together. This qualifies as "a little bit obsessed" because if I were a lot obsessed I'd find a way to prioritize the workout. Like wake up early... yeah, no thanks... 
  • Your meal planning calendar is full of chicken and green beans
  • You spend your free time researching the affects of different types of macronutrients and the timing of eating them on your workout and your day as a whole

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Watch It Wednesday: City Museum in St. Louis

It's been a *long* time since I did a "Watch It Wednesday" and shared a video, so I thought I'd post the one I put together for Monks to share with his class of our visit to the City Museum in St. Louis! Everyone said that this was *the* place to go in St. Louis, but I still wasn't sure what to expect! At $75(ish) for the family (the baby was free) it was probably the most expensive activity we did, but we spent over 3 hours there and could have done a whole lot more!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Top 5 Reasons to Workout With Your Spouse

Or boyfriend, or partner, or whatever person you have in your life that loves you and motivates you.

Since Rampage season is only something like 6 weeks away and our wedding is only 120 something days away Shon and I have been working really hard to be in shape, motivated, and our best version of ourselves. I'm not going to lie, I don't necessarily always love it, but I do have several things that are awesome about having a workout partner that lives in your house.

1. Even when I want to quit, he doesn't let me. Now this sounds like one of those cheesy motivational, in love things, but hear me out. When I'm on the elliptical and I get bored, I get annoyed. I usually ask Shon to play Play Station or something so I at least don't have to be in the basement alone, and he not only obliges (I know, huge sacrifice when you're asked to play video games), but he also watches the baby (we take turns). When I get annoyed, he lets me take it out on him and doesn't get mad! It's not uncommon to hear things like, "I hate this. I'm quitting." "No you're not, keep going." "Shut up, I hate you." "I love you, too." I have not once quit, even when I really want to, because I have someone who is willing to let me complain and still love me while I get it done. Sometimes complaining helps. It really, really does.

2. Cooking meals for people who are on the same "healthy living" kick is soooo much easier. When I've tried to eat healthy in the past sometimes it's been hard to cook one meal for myself and something else for everyone else. When it's both of you, it makes things simpler. And when you can find meals that even the kids like, you can help the whole family make healthy choices and know you're supported in that! This week I've been cooking meals from subscription grocery companies like Hello Fresh and Home Chef and I discovered that we both enjoyed Swiss chard and green beans and some other vegetables that I rarely make. I'm not sure I can get the kids to eat Swiss chard, but it's nice to know we have options and are committed to eating well together.

3. You get fitness presents that motivate you. A couple weeks ago Shon bought me a new FitBit. I'd had one before, but hadn't stuck with it. He let me pick out the style I wanted and the color band, and now each week we participate in challenges with family and friends. I didn't think it would be that motivating for me, but when I see that Elkin has passed me yet again, I will sometimes jump back on the elliptical. I know that the nature of my job and the nature of Shon's job leave a huge discrepancy in our step counts, but I try to hang in there with the rest. And if you're lucky, you got a massage chair (you know, like the ones in the mall?) for Christmas and you can get a back rub after your workout!

4. Because on the off chance you get time to set the baby down and the kids are playing nicely and you can work out together, it's nice to spend time together doing something healthy. It's great bonding time, it's good for you, and it's nice to be able to feel like you've accomplished something together. Sometimes the older kids even join in and we have family workout time, which I love.

5. Finally, because you're striving for the same goal. We want to be better for ourselves, and for our family, but also better for each other. We want to present each other with the best possible versions of ourselves, not just for a wedding, but for life. And it's a journey we can take together, a journey that will help us grow stronger physically and in our relationship. Yes, there's your cheesy "in love" reason. You knew I had to get it in there somewhere.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Date Night Log 2018: Train Wreck Winery

When we went to Living History Farms: Farms Uncorked event, one of our favorites from the day was Caboose from Train Wreck Winery in Algona. Knowing that we loved the blue bottles to go with our wedding theme, and that we really wanted to check out the space (especially since my mom and I both often work in Algona), we decided we'd take a family trip up to the abandoned train station turned winery.

They're only open from 12pm-5pm on Fridays and Saturdays, but starting this week they'll host live music on Friday nights from 5:30-7:30. We started out on our day trip date with my mom and Evelyn in tow! When we arrived we saw Jean, who remembered us from LHF, and started our wine tasting adventure. For $5 we were able to taste all their wines, which Jean walked us through, and got to take home our keepsake "Train Wreck Winery" glasses! We tasted approximately a dozen different wines and between the three of us ended up taking home a dozen bottles! We definitely had our different tastes, but our favorites included Kate, their signature (award winning) sweet red wine, Caboose, which we already knew, and Hooterville (part of the sales from this one are donated toward breast cancer causes). Another one of their wines, Orphan Train, also donates part of the proceeds to charity.

The actual space itself, the train station, is fantastic. It's super relaxed and has space for groups or couples to enjoy a glass of wine on the weekend. While I didn't take a picture (because I assumed the people sitting there would think I was awkward and creepy), there are also couches and chairs to sit back in and enjoy your time together. The art is fantastic, too. While some pieces are made by children in the family, which I adore, there's also a mural that the Algona High School art teacher created of the train wreck that is such an important part of the history of the space. The vineyard is actually at the site of the wreck!

Neither Shon nor I have ever really considered ourselves "wine people," but now that we've taken some time to educate ourselves on some of the different types available, we've actually changed our mind. Last weekend Shon actually said, "I don't feel like beer, I feel like wine today. It seems like the better option." I love this. I love that we've found something we can learn about and explore together, and I love that we can enjoy a glass of wine with dinner once in a while and bond over something that we got to pick out together. I also like that I've started to learn enough about wine and even the types of grapes that I can pick out something I like in a restaurant! For example, I know that I'm a fan of Edelweiss grapes and generally the wines made from them. Do I sound like I know things yet? Two wine tastings and I think I'm an expert... (insert eye roll emoji here, I know).

 We also picked our wedding wine that day! I think we've chosen four that we'll order to share with our guests, though you'll have to wait until closer to the big day to find out what those are!