Dirty Thirty – Nashville Style

A dear friend, since elementary school, asked me a few months ago if I’d be interested in a girls road trip to Nashville for her 30th birthday. Ummm….YES!!!!!!!! Can you see why we are friends!? ;) So, off we went. There were five girls total and we had a 9 hour road-trip and three days to cram in as much fun as possible. Ready, set, go!

The road trip was great, complete with a live scavenger hunt by a friend who was unable to be with us in person, she was certainly there in spirit. Once we got to the hotel we freshened up and hit the famous Broadway Street.

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(Honestly who let me wear this zebra dress…so much print around so much belly!! EK! ha That said, it was an extremely comfortable dress, so I stand by my choice…at the time! :))

We got a special treat our first night there…major celebrity spotting!! Look real close below…do you spy a country cutie?

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How about now?! BAM!! Keith Urban, with special guest Steven Tyler, played approximately four songs at three bars on Broadway, walking outside and greeting fans between each stop.

I didn’t get a photo of Steven (but I did get a quick video!) because honestly, I was too star struck. I’ve been a huge Aerosmith fan since about 4th grade. And Steven has always been my Rock God of choice. Don’t judge, you have one too!! Ahhh, it was so much fun!!

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After our celebrity spotting was complete, we headed in to the famous Tootsie’s Bar. This tiny hole-in-the-wall bar that was INCREDIBLY fun all night long. Some of the biggest country stars on the radio right now got their start in this very bar.

And when the clock struck midnight, it was time to celebrate (she would say embarrass!) the birthday girl. So I slipped the singer some cash and a note to give her a shout out and he totally ran with it…including getting her up on stage!

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And so our first night ended.

On to Day Two.

Of course…boot shopping!! There were a dozen or more shops that all had this same view…walls and walls of boots! Of course, I walked out with a pair for myself, but I’ll save those for another post! ;)

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We took a lunch break to watch the Iowa Hawkeye game with the Nashville Iowa Alumni group. Sweet! Extra bonus: a very nice groom-to-be, on his bachelor party, told me I was a very cute pregnant lady. Thanks stranger man…considering it was 90+ degrees and I sweated my butt off all weekend and therefore felt like a whale…I very much appreciated it. Note: Compliments are always nice. Pass them along from time to time, will ya!?

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Our grand finale for the weekend, pun intended, was to attend a show at the Grand Ole Opry. It was a BLAST!! We all said that this is a must for any and all future Nashville trips.

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Such an iconic venue and so much variety to the show. The highlights for me were James Otto and Deana Carter.

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And with that, our time in Nashville was done. It was short and sweet…but oh so much fun!

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Happy 30th dear friend…may you always have your cake, and eat it too!!

Dresses are the Best!

I have to admit, this is a pretty stellar season to be growing a baby bump. Dresses are awesome. I honestly ask myself why I don’t wear them more!? I’m a little bit at that in-between stage though. I can still wear non-maternity options from my current closet, but they are starting to get a little short (especially in the front, duh!). But maternity dresses just seem really big and wiiiiiide. This will be nice as I grow out more, but it looks a little off in the meantime.

Here are some fun ones I’ve been wearing lately!

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Dress: Old Navy, Blazer: JCP, Shoes: Von Maur

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Here I am dressing up this otherwise casual dress for work, by adding a blazer.

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But without, it’s the perfect little summer dress for a night out with friends!

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AND, it’s baby bump friendly! :)

Here is another fun little dress. This lovely group of ladies and I are enjoying an awesome night at a local winery. We try to get together once a month to take a break from….life!

1081937_10101607299964929_661178357_nDress: Target

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Dress: Target (actual maternity dress), Cardigan: Express, Shoes: Aldo

Here is my lovely Sister-in-Law. We are BOTH rockin’ the preggo bellies and comfy and cute maxi dresses.

I certainly plan to take these dresses, and this comfort, in to the fall as baby continues to grow. That’s what leggings are for! Pregnant or not…it’s a great way to stretch your summer wardrobe into the fall months!

Current Obsessions!

So turns out time flies when you are having fun, who knew!? So what’s up around these parts you ask? Well, here are some things that are sucking up my time. Time away from you all, admittingly, so I figure I might as well fill you in!

Project Life. Think scrapbooking for dummies. In the best.way.possible. Check out their site for more information. I’m starting off 2013 with the goal of adding to this once a month. Big things, little things, and everything in between. Once I get the groove, I’ll consider working back in time. Oye, that’s a big feat to think about! Tips to myself? Don’t over-think it, and keep it doable (ie-lots of small goals/milestones).
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Not being able to say “NO” to a sale. I know, I know…shocking. But honestly people, check out this small little stash…

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All for less than $80!!!

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Blazer ($20), Shirt ($14), Sweater ($14): JCP, Boots ($31): J.Lo at Khols.

And then I leave the mall. Because ‘really good deals’, still add up. Obvious? Sure. Did I realize that in my young 20s? Not so much. Does my husband still think I haven’t learned that lesson? Truth. But hey, I left after one store. Jokes on him! ;)

Playing with curls. I know, hold the phone, this is earth shattering news. Okay, not really. But I’ve been doing the ‘beach wave’ thing for a long time, so I thought I’d go back to curling roots of a simple ‘curled under’ look. It takes a little less time, gives a different look and adds the volume I crave. Winner, Winner.

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This book. Wow. So I’ve been familiar with this book for a couple of months since the story of the girl it’s based on lived in my hometown for a while. Essentially a young woman died giving birth to her baby girl from a condition called preeclampsia. Her best friend made a resolution to live as her friend did for an entire year, and she brought her sister along for the ride. I love how Bree writes, I love the stories, I love the small-town Iowa references, and I love the message. Better yet, this was a gift from my best friend from my small-town whom I pranked called with, dressed up with, went to school dances with, cruised the loop with, went to college with, lived with, and still continue to make memories with. Reading this reminds me of how awesome my youth was. Well, minus a couple of those middle school years. Having boys tell you your theme song is, “I Like Big Butts” is something that sticks with you for awhile forever. Don’t worry, I’ve embraced it. Some days. With long flowy shirts.

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Yes, I use a pom-pom glued to a popsicle stick as my bookmark. Thankyouverymuch.

Candy Crush. I blame, and thank, my 7-year-old nephew for this. We hung out a couple of weeks ago and he was playing this on his iPad. So I downloaded it thinking it was bright and colorful and kind of looked fun (Wait, am I 7 too!?!). He failed to mentioned that its EXTREMELY addicting and you play it every second you have free while relaxing a home.

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Downton Abbey. TOTALLY get the hype here folks. Honestly. My in-laws were talking about this a couple of weeks ago and I mentioned how I wanted to give this show a shot because I’ve heard such good things about it. Lucky for me, my SIL and BIL have all three seasons. And since my BIL watched it too, my hubs thought he’d give it a shot with me. I have to be honest the first couple episodes I was thinking, “Okay this is cool, I’ll keep giving it a shot.” Then episode 3+. Like OMG what’s-going-to-happen-cliff-hanger-at-the-end-of-every-episode gooooooood!

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Other highlights that aren’t picture or story worthy that suck up my time; school. More specifically, statistics. Gross. Nothing further there.

Happy Hump Day all!

Colorado Adventure

I took a long weekend trip to Colorado with some friends to visit our other friends in Colorado. They had a new house to show off, and we all needed some time away…perfect!

In true Colorado fashion, we had to take some time to play in the mountains. It was the most wonderful day. A little cardio, a little picnic, a beautiful scenic background and some laughs along the way.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

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IMG_1126Snow-bunny in training!

IMG_1125It’s all about the snowshoes people!

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Tapping the Rockies in the Rockies, of course!

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A little afternoon picnic.

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It’s my Birthday and I’ll slide down a mountain if I want to, okay?!

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I’m swimming, I’m swimming!

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Stopping to enjoy the scenery, this one’s for my Dad! (Those are elk, in case you were wondering!)

IMG_1146One of these is not like the other. Well played Matthew, well played.

We had such a good time. If you live in, or plan to visit, Colorado make sure to add this to your agenda. The plan for next time is to visit during another season, so we can discover some new hiking trails!

Birthday Girl!

Do I look any older and wiser?! It’s the big 2-9 for me today. I don’t feel a day over 23…I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, I’ll get back to you on that later! ;)
I had the most amazing birthday-weekend trip (Colorado) to kick off the celebration, but those are worthy of their own posts, so more to come there! Then I was welcomed home by the most amazing news, my best friend in the whole-wide world had her baby boy (on Monday) who I met last night. And that brings to me today, wuftha! I woke up to a present from my hubs, had a day filled with some Facebook love, enjoyed lunch with my great co-workers, got a floral delivery, and spent the night hanging with my Book Club crew. I am one.lucky.girl!!!
My photos are lacking in quality, but I still wanted to show off my fun dress I sported to kick off my final year of the decade!

I started things off with my fun fancy coat!

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Then boom, my bright geo-print dress!

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Coat: Jessica Simpson, Tights (fleece lined!), Shoes: Steve Madden

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Dress: Francesca’s, Jacket: Ann Taylor, Earrings: Cookie Lee

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Ps-fashion tip/secret..I actually have a cardigan under my blazer for extra warmth, it’s crazy cold here. It didn’t add bulk to my look but made a world of difference with keeping cozy!

Welcome 2013!

I had the most lovely time ringing in the New Year! I topped my last night of holiday vacation by going to Les Miserables with friends. It was a lovely film and I highly, highly recommend it!

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Annual New Years Eve Party. Theme: Black Out!

I set the bar pretty high last year when it came to goals and resolutions so I plan to continue down that path and figure I laid a good foundation this year to do so. But in efforts to work on something new, I mark 2013 the year that I work harder on being on time. It might seem minute, but for those who know me, know it’ll be a challenge! My baby step in helping turn this bad habit around is to lay off the snooze. UGH!

What is your resolution(s) this year?

All the best to you and yours in 2013. Cheers to making it the best one yet!

Top 12 Moments of 2012

You know it’s been an incredible year when you have more than 12 things to highlight! But I’ve done my best and lumped some things together to come up with my cumulative list of my favorite parts of 2012 (in no particular order)!

Participating in the Pigman and Okoboji Triathlons. I honestly love these races, I can’t wait to do some more this coming year!

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Chicago marathon. I’ve talked about this enough…but it’s worth mentioning as a highlight for sure. Training from April through October and still suffering the lost toenail to date. It was a huge part of my year!

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Family Rocks! I had so many awesome family gatherings this year, I’m very blessed to be surrounded by such a kind, thoughtful, caring and FUN people!

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My dad and his aunt playing badminton!

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My cousin’s wedding in Michigan.

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My lovely in-laws!

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Family photo for my parents!

Starting a new job. It started off as a challenging year professionally but since May I have found an 8-5 home with a great company with a job I truly enjoy!

Diving in to owning a boat. A ‘before we turn 30′ dreamed turned to reality late this summer, I can’t wait for 2013 and a full summer of fun with this toy!!

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Here comes the bride. The hubs and I attended, and participated in, a few weddings this year for some dear friends and as always had a fabulous time. I have to say though, my most favorite moment was sitting with my lovely friend before she walked down the isle to her groom, who was seeing her for the first time. That tradition is often lost these days and it was so special seeing, and being a small part of, it.

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Wasting Away Again in Margaritaville, twice. Oh Jimmy Buffett, you sing to my soul. He visited the great state of Iowa this Spring, so of course we had to go! Then we hit him up again in the great Alpine Valley. Our theory is to keep on going as long as he does!!

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Hostess with the Mostest. I love hosting friends and family, nothing beats filling your house with love and laughter! We did a lot of that this year, mostly due to the wonderful cooking of my stellar husband.

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Friendsgiving!

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Iowa vs. Nebraska Thanksgiving with sisters and spouses! 

Class of 2002. Wow, attending my 10 year class reunion! It.was.excellent.

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Crusin’ the loop back home!

Anything on a stick. I hit up the annual Iowa State Fair this summer with some friends and we caught Boyz II Men on the ‘free’ stage. Honestly, it was an outstanding concert. And the food was good too!

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Major Girl Crush. Idina Menzel. I have nothing more to add. Okay, maybe just that I love her tremendously!

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Volunteering. It was a goal of mine in 2012 and I have to say it went pretty well. My husband and I spent a week in January chaperoning a Winter Weekend Getaway for the Children’s Cancer Connection. I was the chairperson for a charity bike ride for Gems of Hope in May. And the hubs and I served the free meal at Thanksgiving organized by community members. Also, since April I’ve been in the committee in town working on planning our Centennial celebration.

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The years honestly move so fast, but it’s been fun to take a moment to reflect back to remember the good times, the lessons learned and the laughs that were had.

Cheers to a fabulous 2013!!

Entertaining Fun!

Phew, excuse the delay on highlighting the awesome weekend I had, it took me a couple days to recover! It wasn’t the typical Thanksgiving weekend, but i wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Here’s how it went down…

The hubs and I served the free community dinner on Thanksgiving.

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Nom! Nom! Nom!

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Soon after our house was filled with my sisters, brother-in-laws and BIL’s sister and hubby from Lincoln. Hawkeye-Husker game weekend assemble!!!! (Stupid iPhone alien eyes!!)

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Go Hawks! Brrr, a blistering 34 with high winds!! I hate to say it, but I’m glad the season is over!

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After sending our guests back to their cozy homes it was time to assemble for my BFF’s baby shower! I showcase to you, the lovely Mamma-to-Bee!

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Hostesses!

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I couldn’t get a picture fast enough, our food was a hit!

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Such a cute theme and the shower was great. I can’t wait to help welcome Baby C into this crazy world. For the record, my vote is a sweet little baby girl. :)

Now on to prep for the next round of holiday events, bring it life!!

Friendsgiving

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I wanted to share some more of my Thankful List from last year (Here, Here, Here, Here and Here) and to share the delicious spread from our annual Friendsgiving Feast! We had awesome food, great company and endless laughs. The dinner talk quickly matched the dishes at the end of the evening…dirty. Oh boy, I am blessed with some great, and silly, friends! ;)

Friends:

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Drinks:

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Caramel Apple Martinis, Wine and Beer…yum!

Food:

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So good! Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, creamed corn, green bean casserole, snicker salad, and endless appetizers to get us started (as if we needed that!).

Desserts:

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Caramel apple pie, Pumpkin pie, ice cream, cupcakes and cooooool whip!

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I love my little pilgrim cupcakes. So easy! You’d still have time to make a batch for tomorrow, I promise!

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Enjoy your day of feasting, friends and family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Trip Down Memory Lane

So it turns out purging can be fun! Especially when you come across some gems from your past. I must admit, I am that person that saves cards and notes. It’s the only pack-rat quality I have, so I figure it’s okay. Right!?

So here is what I discovered.

#1: My husband and in-laws like to give me cards with cats* on them. But here is the thing; I hate cats. I am allergic to cats. They make me sneeze. My husband loves them. He would own and love 100 of them if I wasn’t allergic. I am therefore quite thankful that I am allergic. He says if I die first he won’t remarry, he’ll just buy a cat and name her Ashly. It might the sweetest thing he’s ever said to me. So therefore, he (and my in-laws) express their cat love to me through cards. Gee, thanks.

Cat Card Collection:

*You’ll note one of those is actually a squirrel. Apparently all the cat cards were sold out.

#2. I wrote a lot of notes in middle and high school. Like a lot.
That’s a shoe box stuffed full of them. They are all unique in their own way and I cut myself off after reading only about 10 of them. I mean, no need to get sidetracked for hours! But for your comedic entertainment, I picked one to share with you. This one** hails from 1997 where I was the tender ol’ age of 14.

**Names have been changed to leave this (somewhat) anonymous. Although if you know me, or the author well, you may just figure it out. This has been shared with her permission. I called her immediately, barely able to speak as I was giddy with laughter.

OMG, please tell me you are crying tears of laughter right now. I thought about commentating my way through the letter, but honestly, it needs nothing of the sorts. It’s fantastic just the way it is. I love looking back to my 14-year-old self. Simply classic! It makes me a little sad knowing that middle school kids these days will never spend their family road trips writing notes to their friends to hand off when they see them next. They have phones (and DSs and TVs and iPads, and iPods, etc.) now. Good luck saving those messages for 15 years kids!! ;) Meanwhile, I am treasuring my trip down memory lane.

No diggity, no doubt.