22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Greatest Grains

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope your week is off to an awesome start- how could it not be, with this PHENOMENAL weather we’re having?! I have a day of mowing, mulching, planting, and park-walking planned. Exciting. 🙂 I’ve gotta say- this weekend has been pretty great! I saw a show, had lots of kitty snuggles, caught up on my TV shows, ran some errands, bought tickets to “Book of Mormon,” researched children’s shows for this winter, FaceTimed with Danielle, and started planning my 30th birthday trip. (Yes, it’s 11 months away. No, that won’t stop me.) All in all, a pretty awesome weekend! Also…the coolest thing happened to me on Saturday night. I had gone to see “Noises Off” at St. Ambrose with my friend, Leslie, and some of the North kids. After the show, I was talking to one of the kids in the lobby when a couple approached us. They apologized for interrupting and then said, “We just had to tell you- we saw you a few weeks ago in…” At this point, I assumed they were talking to Nik about his performance in “Kiss Me Kate,” because he was fantastic! But no. They weren’t.

“…That Anton Chekhov play…oh, what’s it called? That staged reading?”

“The Cherry Orchard?”

“Yes- YES! You played Anya? We just had to tell you…you were fantastic!”

Now, at this point, I could only assume I was being punked. If you read my last blog post, you know that I was really nervous about the staged reading, and that I would have given a better performance if I had just calmed down. If you didn’t read my last blog post, well, that’s basically what you need to know. I digress. Anyway, this couple proceeded to talk to me for 15-20 minutes about how impressed with me they were- that I barely used my script during the reading, how much they enjoyed my character, what commitment I gave to the whole performance. It was surreal. I thanked them a million times, and the compliments just continued. They wanted to know what I do (they LOVED the Family Museum when their kids were little), what sort of theatre things I’m involved in, what projects I have coming up. It turns out their daughter was also in the staged reading, and they are very into the theatre culture of the QC. It was awesome! Guys…I think I have fans! It was SO cool. I’m still geeking out…

Ok, ok…time for food! Now, if you’re a QC native, you’re probably wondering how on earth I’ve lived in Davenport for 10 1/2 years and have never been to Greatest Grains. I was actually wondering that myself. Greatest Grains is a little organic health market, with a cafe in the back. It’s down the block from St. Ambrose, and up the street from me. (Really, I have no excuse to have not gone.) Anyway, the Monday after “Kiss Me Kate” wrapped, I ended up there for lunch, via a friend’s suggestion. It was during my two weeks of no gluten, and it seemed like a good place to go.

Now, you should also know that I have never eaten a meal by myself, out in public. Coffee, yes, but food? No. Probably because I’m afraid something will go down like in “Friends” when Rachel’s prospective boyfriend sees her out alone and assumes she’s a freak. (Yes, I do make decisions based on how they worked out for my favorite TV characters.) That coupled with the fact that I can’t make a decision to save my life, led to me sitting in a booth for 20 minutes, staring at the menu. Finally, I got up and just asked the girl behind the counter for help. (By word- vomiting about my present gluten-less situation, and how I’d never been there before, and JUST HELP ME PLEASE!) The girl behind the counter was very nice and suggested a gluten free wrap. Now, per Ria’s instructions, I’m supposed to order something I wouldn’t normally, and this qualified for two reasons: 1. I love gluten and this didn’t have any. 2. I don’t really like cold sandwiches/wraps. So, I went with it. She talked me through the whole process- what I could add, her recommendations, etc. So, I ended up with a spicy chicken and pepperoni gluten free wrap, with herb aioli, white cheddar cheese, smashed avocado, greens, and cucumbers.

Now, my wrap doesn’t look terribly impressive, but OH MY GOSH, it was delicious! It was the first gluten- free meal I’d had where I didn’t feel sad the whole time about what I was missing out on. I sat in my booth, enjoyed my lunch, people-watched, and listened to the traffic on Harrison Street. It was pretty great! Although I was essentially eating in a grocery store, I was impressed with how quiet it was. A few people came and went while I was eating, but it was a nice, calm break from the busyness outside.  When I finished my wrap and water, I wandered down the gluten-free aisle, just to get a sense of what they had, in case I did need to go gluten free. I ended up with a bag of brown rice penne and proceeded to the checkout. My wrap and the penne cost just over $10. I was actually pretty impressed, considering that many places have an upcharge for gluten-free anything. I haven’t been back to Greatest Grains yet, but I fully intend to go again soon. It was so delicious, and made my gluten- free diet much easier to deal with. In fact, it inspired me to try making my own version of the wrap at home!

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My attempt wasn’t as awesome as theirs, but it was still pretty good! I’m excited to go back to Greatest Grains again soon, and pretty proud of myself for eating lunch alone. 🙂

Well, I better get on with my day. But before I do, I have 3 more “new to me” places I need to visit before my 30th birthday. Please comment below with suggestions- I am open to ANYTHING!

Until next time,

xoxo

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The One with the Final Stretch

Hey guys! Remember me? That girl who writes this blog and dropped off the planet for 6 weeks? IMG_7765

I think we can all agree at this point that no one is surprised. Therefore, I’m skipping my standard apology and I’m jumping right in. Rather than my standard recap of what you’ve missed, I’m going to tackle this Mindy Kaling style with some sweet essays. Hold on to your hats!

I Went Dairy and Gluten Free… and Didn’t Die

If you read my last blog post, you heard a bit about this already, but if you didn’t, click here for the deets. I wrapped up the gluten free part of the diet Monday, and check in with my doctor next week. I honestly thought this was going to be five weeks of tear-filled cheese dreams and bread-less hell, but I made it to the other, unlimited breadstick side. Here’s the best tidbits (people still say tidbits, right?) that I can share if you decide to do a dairy or gluten free diet.

  1. Larabars will be your best friend. I recommend the peanut butter chocolate chip. Dairy AND gluten free. Also, Oreos are dairy free. Keep that in your back pocket.
  2. Dairy free cheese isn’t good, but it wasn’t the worst. I made a pizza with it, and put it on some salads, and I survived.
  3. Also- cheeseless calzones are just not worth it and might make you cry softly in your office at work while you fish around your plate for a piece of sausage that would have stayed in the calzone if there had JUST BEEN CHEESE! …Not that that’s happened.
  4. Aldi makes good, cheap, gluten-free pasta. Stock up on that stuff and fill yo belly! Really, I bought most of my GF stuff from Aldi- check it out!
  5. Check out Iowa Girl Eats for some really good GF recipes- some were pretty simple too! In either case, chicken recipes with rice are a pretty safe bet, and insanely delicious.
  6. If you’re going out to eat, I highly recommend Red Robin. I ate there three times in the past five weeks (no shame) and they could not have made it easier! Their website has a menu customizer, which is also available on the little checkout thing on your table. You select your allergy, and it tells you what you can order, or what you need to omit. It was so easy and the staff was so nice about it!
  7. Take it one day at a time. It seems really daunting at first, but is much easier after a few days. 🙂

I Turned 29…and Didn’t Die

Perfect birthday plan- I wrap myself in the tightest blanket burrito possible, watch “How I Met Your Mother” all day, occasionally unwrap my arm from said blanket burrito to put some cake in my mouth, and repeat. Ah, the life I lead. Well, spoiler alert- I did not celebrate that way. I did spend my morning and early afternoon at work with almost 900 of my closest friends (it was Star Wars Day, but I think we all know the real reason everyone came…) I was gifted with homemade dairy-free donuts, Mexican for lunch, lots of cards, and presents and love…it was great! I came home, PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOANS YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT HOLY CRAP I WAS SO EXCITED, and then Mal and I spent almost three hours at the arcade bar. Highlights included Jurassic Park pinball, the Ice Cold Beer game, seeing someone actually win the Ice Cold Beer game, and more Jurassic Park pinball.  We had Red Robin (shocker) and then came home to PJs and “How to Get Away with Murder.” No blanket burrito, but still a pretty great night. There were also celebrations at Exotic Thai the next day, and with my fam at Easter.

I Was in a Staged Reading…and Didn’t Die

Yes, there’s a theme. I’m sticking with it. So, I haven’t been on stage since 2009, when I made my SAU farewell appearance in “Sweeney Todd” as a charming prostitute who stared into people’s souls. It was a dream role. Anyway, 7 years later, I was asked to be in a staged reading for the Quad City Theatre Workshop, which is a great little place in Davenport that everyone should check out. I agreed to the staged reading, and about 2 weeks before rehearsals began, I went into full-on freak out mode. What did I freak out about? What I didn’t freak out about would be a shorter list and the answer would be nothing. I calmed my nerves for the actual rehearsal process, but I’ll admit it- I was scared. I was rusty and I knew it, and I was working with some insanely talented people. I felt like an impostor. But…three rehearsals later, I went through with the performance, and although I was scared out of my mind for the first 15 minutes, I managed to pull it together and work my ass off to do the best I could. I had fun. I learned a lot. It was a wonderful experience, and my only wish is that I would have just simmered down earlier and enjoyed the entire process, instead of the tail-end of it. But now, I can officially call myself a “professional actress.” Eep!

That Time I Wrote a Really Inappropriate Note and Had to Say It in Front of 30 High Schoolers

I had the immense privilege of getting to choreograph two musicals this spring. Yes, many people called me crazy, I did pull a couple 14 hour days, and I forgot what my bed felt like, but it was an awesome, awesome couple of weeks. I could honestly gush for 5000 more words about how much fun I had, how much I love my North drama family, how great it was to be back at Assumption, but instead, I’ll share this excellent moment with you of me, at my finest. So, there’s a song in “Kiss Me Kate” called “Tom, Dick, or Harry.” It’s one of my favorites in the show, and if you don’t know it, you should probably go YouTube it right now. Like, right now. I’ll wait. Go ahead.

Ok, now that you’re familiar, there’s a section halfway through where the guys sing “dick, dick, dick, dick…” over and over. Dick being a guy, of course. (Get your mind out of the gutter.) On that part, the guys were supposed to spread out for a big dance break (which they absolutely killed, by the way.) However, one of the guys would always travel too far, and would end up in front of another guy. So me, watching this happen for the second or third night in a row, wrote down in my notebook, “Student who shall remain nameless, don’t go so far on the dicks.” And then I had to say it. Out loud. In front of 30 high schoolers. Because I could really think of no better way to phrase it. I’d compare the level of laughing to when my dad watches “Airplane”: it’s high-pitched, and at times, silent. The best kind of laugh. Anyway…Student who shall remain nameless never went so far on the dicks again. Crisis averted.

The List Deadline Is Less Than a Year Away and Steph is Mildly Freaking Out

That’s right, folks. Stee-Day (like D-Day, but for Steph) is nearing, and I have a LOT of things left on my list. For those of you keeping track, the big 3-0 will be upon us in just 339 days. We’ve hit the final stretch, and I’m in full procrastination-regret mode. But, the good news is, I’ve been working hard in my blogging absence, and hope to have some neat things to share soon. So, keep tuning in, sending me positive thoughts, and let’s all hope that karaoke bars go out of style before I have to sing at one.

Until next time,

xoxo