22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Main Street Bistro

Happy Wednesday, friends! It’s been awhile. As always, life has been busy. Busy, full, and oh so good. You have a well-timed thunderstorm/tornado warning to thank for this break in my crazy schedule- thanks nature! I have so many things that I cannot wait to share with you all, so many posts I’m behind on (seriously- SO MANY), but one thing at a time-this warning isn’t going to last forever! I do want to acknowledge, for those of you keeping track- my 30th birthday has come and gone. It was amazing, and I’ll tell you all about it soon, and where I’m at with the list. But before we get to that, I have some things to catch you up on…

Let’s back track to January. I started 2017 off with a much-needed and long awaited trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana to see my sister, Kaylee. Kaylee had moved to Fort Wayne the year before, but I was just now getting the chance to go see her. I’m not a huge fan of solo road trips, especially of that length, but I packed up my car on a Friday afternoon, swung by Atomic Coffee Bar to get my iced Nutty Professor for the road, and alternated between belting “Hamilton” and listening to an audiobook for my drive. I arrived at Kaylee’s just in time for dinner (homemade mini pizzas-yum!), some much needed tv watching, and half snuggles with her cat, Luna. Half snuggles are about as good as it gets with her.

We had a very full Saturday planned, mostly revolving around food and coffee. Would you expect anything less? Though it’s not the place I’m blogging about, I do need to give a shout-out to Dash-In, the place we had lunch. Rather than me telling you, let me show you. (And then tell you, because it’s me.)

IMG_3650

Mmmk, please look at this gorgeous food. A pesto artichoke grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. I don’t think I’d ever been so excited about a sandwich and soup in my life. Apologies to anyone who had to hear me say “this has ruined all other food for me” over and over.

Anywho, the main event of our day was me getting to meet Kaylee’s boyfriend, Brian. I’d heard a ton about Brian and had said hi on FaceTime before, but that was it. Kaylee planned for us to eat dinner together at one of her favorite spots, Main Street Bistro. We met Brian there, and settled in for a night of uncomfortable questions and silent judging. Just kidding- Brian and I hit it off, and spoiler alert, he passed the sister test. All good there. 🙂

The atmosphere at Main Street was super cute! It’s very trendy inside. The lights were dimmed, and although there were a lot of people there, it wasn’t overly loud.

Now, I typically don’t order a drink when I’m out, but I was on vacation, so I settled on this blue martini that tasted like a Sweet Tart. Or I think it did…this was five months ago.

IMG_2401

Our waiter was absolutely delightful, and gave us some recommendations. He brought us some fresh bread and-wait for it- butter with MAPLE SYRUP. I’m not kidding. I’m really not kidding. While we gracefully stuffed our faces, I perused the menu.

I narrowed down to a few things. Then, I remembered I was due for a new blogging restaurant and chose the prosciutto wrapped scallops. Now, I’m not a seafood fan. I’ve developed a fondness for shrimp, but that’s really it. The scallops didn’t sound particularly appetizing, but I was all about trying something new, and that blue martini reinforced that all my decisions were good ones, so clearly, scallops. Scallops and french onion soup.

We visited for a bit, continued to eat the best damn bread on the planet, and then our food arrived. Everyone was pretty pleased with their choices.

Ok, so we need to talk about these scallops. Well first, the french onion soup was delightful! Loved it, would definitely eat it again. But the scallops were…I’m not sure what I was expecting, but that wasn’t it. The texture was BAD and that was pretty much all there was to it. Scallops can join the ranks of tomatoes and bananas- things that make me gag. I did power through two of them, but I made Brian eat the last one. The pasta underneath was good, and I love prosciutto. But the scallops? NAH.

Overall, it was a great dinner- awesome company, mostly wonderful food, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I would definitely go back…except Main Street closed shortly after my trip and is reopening as something else. Sad. But, I had a great time with Kaylee, enjoyed meeting Brian, and learned that butter with maple syrup is GENIUS.

IMG_2422

Well, the warning has expired, and I am falling asleep, so I better call it a night. More fun adventure stories to come soon…stay tuned!

Until next time,

xoxo

35. Make your own business cards- even if for fun!

I was seven years old the first time I remember choreographing something. I was sitting in our van, listening to “Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes on the radio. (In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I have a freakishly good memory.) Halfway through the song, I started coming up with tap steps in my head to go along with the music. I remember I pictured a stool onstage, and an assortment of picture frames set up that little Steph was mentally tap dancing around. (Yes, award-winning stuff right there!) Anyway, that’s my first memory that showed me how my brain was different than everyone else’s, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.

People ask me sometimes how it all works- how do I come up with dance after dance, combo after combo? How do I choreograph without a studio space? How do I choreograph a partner routine when I’m only one person? Well… I see it. I can actually, physically see my choreography in my brain when I’m listening to a piece of music. It’s almost like I’m discovering it, rather than creating it. And it happens all the time. Any time I’m listening to music. I’m never not seeing choreography. It’s always there. When I was younger, I just kind of assumed that everyone’s brain worked that way. Even as I got older, worked with other dance teachers- I thought maybe it was a dance teacher “thing.” But it’s not. It’s a gift, and one I feel so lucky to have.

As a dancer, I was never the best at anything, technique-wise. The extra bones in my feet prevented me from achieving a full point. I wasn’t as flexible as the rest of the girls in my class. I wasn’t the best turner, I wasn’t the best jumper, and I certainly wasn’t the best at tricks. But the things I was good at? Timing. Counting. Hearing patterns. Explaining things to the girls in my class when they had been absent. Stringing combinations together. Those were my strengths. That, coupled with my brain, my crazy creative brain, didn’t make me a stand-out dancer. But they did make me a pretty bad-ass choreographer.

I’ve been freelancing for 11 years now and finally decided it was time to make it “official.” So, a few months ago, I sat down with my friend, Elizabeth, and asked her to design me some business cards. We talked through what I liked, what I didn’t, and I turned her loose. A few weeks later, she sent me some options. We talked through them, and a few weeks after that, she sent me what I’m about to show you. Full disclosure: I’m getting a little teary about sharing this. These cards are something I’ve shared with very few people, but I’m ready now. So here they are- P.S. Elizabeth is a kick-ass designer. Please check out her freelance business “Eleven Creative” on Facebook.

img_1109

Here they are! I’m so proud of these, and so thankful that Elizabeth was able to turn my ideas into something beautiful. I’ve never been one to brag about what I do, but I am really, really good at this, so I thought it was time to share that with the world. If you’d like to share it too, let me know…I got a little excited and ordered 500 of these bad boys. Also exciting…I’m choreographing something for ME right now. I’ve only ever done that once (it turned out horribly) but I got inspired the other night, so I’m working on a little something. I don’t know that I’ll ever perform it, and the chances of anyone ever seeing it are slim, but I’m excited about it, and excited to see where this crazy choreography journey takes me.

Until next time,

xoxo

 

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Blue Iguana

Three posts in a week?! Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’ve not gone crazy. I am sick though. Adult sick days are the absolute worst. I’m laying on the couch, trying to drink tea and take it easy, when I notice how much the floor needs vacuuming. And I need to dust. And the ceiling fan is dirty. And before I know it, I’m ten seconds from deep cleaning the entire house. But, I remind myself I’m sick and need to rest, and settle in for a season and a half of “How I Met Your Mother” instead. This has been happening about every hour, for the entire day. Resting is hard.

So, this post is actually from August…oops. It did get mentioned in my Milltown Coffee post, but today, you get to hear about the whole experience. I’ve been wanting to visit Blue Iguana for a really long time. As you know, I love Mexican food a whole lot, and I also love LeClaire, where Blue Iguana is located, so it was a win-win situation. I was also due for a date with Travis and Kristin (Bryan’s brother and sister-in-law, and my good friends) so I met up with them and Bryan and Seth at the end of August for dinner and blog fun.

We had a short wait outside when we arrived, which was fine, because I got to officially meet Finn, Travis and Kristin’s baby. After several minutes of cooing and gushing over his cuteness, we were seated inside. The waitress gave us our menus, and I immediately started to gorge on chips and salsa. I’m not kidding; I could eat chips and salsa daily for the rest of my life, and never get tired of it. In between fistfuls of chips, I perused the menu and asked for everyone’s opinions on what I should order. After shooting down Travis’s suggestion to order the lengua (HELL NO), I settled on the flautas.

Our food arrived and it was BEAUTIFUL. Since it was 5 months ago, I can’t remember exactly what everyone ordered, but three of us got the flautas. The other two? No idea, but here it is:

The food was outstanding! My only complaint was that there wasn’t more…

img_1092

Seriously. I could have eaten those flautas for days. When we finished up, Bryan ordered both of us horchata to go. (Mexican rice milk, in case you didn’t know what it was.)

img_1093

That was fantastic too! Considering we went for dinner and my bill was around $15, I thought it was pretty affordable. I will definitely be going back to Blue Iguana. It was absolutely delicious, the service was great, and the company was even better.

Until next time,

xoxo

 

30. Take a class

Hi friends- happy Saturday! I’m so glad to be back on the blog, and no apologies this time- there was no possible way I could have written last month. August was INSANE, in the best way. Work was busy, since I was prepping for one staff leaving and the next arriving, the annual volunteer recognition, two special events, and my regular day-to-day. I had auditions for both “Peter Pan” (which I’m directing) and “Pegora the Witch” (which I’m choreographing) this week, so I’ve been eagerly getting ready for that. (The list-making and three-hole punching has been at an all time high.) I had visits from friends and family, including having 15 out of 20 DeLacys in my house at one time. And somewhere in there, I spent some much needed time loving on myself and relaxing.Thankfully, the crazy has subsided, so I’m spending a rare night in with an enormous bowl of spaghetti, the windows open, my pumpkin candles burning, and Scandal re-runs going in the background. Ah, my happy place.

I think most of you know this, but I joined Big Brothers/Big Sisters last fall. I was missing having students, had a lot more free time, and knew it was something I’d love doing. I got set up with my Little in December. Her name is Kamorah, and she is the coolest, sweetest, most loving little 9 year old I know. We’re matched through the school-based program, so during the school year, I eat lunch with her once a week. We talk, play Candyland, write in our “buddy journal,” color, and laugh. We laugh a lot. 🙂 I was so sad when the end of the school year rolled around, because that meant no more weekly lunches. Thankfully, we’re also allowed to go to BB/BS match activities, so we did two over the summer. We went to a painting studio one night, and a few weeks ago, we went to Hy-Vee and took a cooking class. I have been wanting to do one FOREVER, and when I mentioned it to Kamorah, she was just as giddy as I was. So, to cooking class we went.

When we arrived at Hy-Vee, they had us set up to cook in the Market Cafe. The table was set up with food, our recipes, all the cookware we would need, and aprons for the Littles. Once everyone arrived, their nutritionist walked us through the recipes one at a time, and had us work at our own pace. Even with my cooking background, I learned a lot, the biggest thing being to have patience when cooking with a nine year old. 🙂 Kamorah did really well though. It took about an hour and a half to complete our three recipes, and it was a BLAST! She had me do anything that required using a knife, but I did talk her into doing some of the cuts in the zucchini. Check out what we made!

IMG_0942

Getting ready…

IMG_0943

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad! We loved it.

IMG_0945

Garlic-Parmesan Hasselback Zucchini and Squash. Kamorah was a little skeptical on this one, but we both really liked it! I’ve made it twice at home already.

IMG_0947

Monster Cookie Protein Balls. Yes. I ate these for breakfast the next day. #noshame

Kamorah and I were in agreement that everything was really good, although we both liked the Monster Cookie Protein Balls best. She insisted I take a bag of them home, but I sent everything else home with her so she could show her family what we made. We decided this was our favorite thing that we’ve done together, and hope that they’ll do another cooking class again soon.

This isn’t the end of my class-taking. Starting this Wednesday, I’m going to be taking a leadership class for work twice a month. I’m excited/nervous for that, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot about it. Yay for learning…and crossing another item off my list! I’ve got two more blog posts coming your way soon…stay tuned.

Well, I think it’s time for a bubble bath and bed, so until next time…

xoxo

 

The One with All the Poop

Hey guys…yes, you did read that correctly. Poop. This is the story of the shitstorm that has been the past two months of my life. Well, shitstorm might be too strong a term, although there has been flying poop in my house, and lots of it. I should maybe probably clarify that it’s not my poop. One more time for the people in the back- NOT MY POOP.

So, when I last left you, I was lamenting the single life and had completed my final scream. I was also wrapping up my first year as volunteer coordinator, doing an obscene amount of painting, and more than a little stressed over the season finale of “Once Upon a Time.” Life was good. The very next day, however, I woke up to Charlee peeing on me. Yes, you read that correctly- again. I took C in to our lovely vet, where she was diagnosed with a UTI and constipation. A dose of antibiotics and an addition of Miralax to her diet were all we needed. Good- easy-done. Fast forward a week and a half later…I came home from work to a pee-soaked basket of laundry…and more poop. One more round of antibiotics later, C was on the road to recovery…and I was trying to recover from my “pee PTSD.” Once you’ve been peed on, you’re a changed person… Anyway, the potty problems were resolved, but the poop ones were not. In fact, it’s been two months and I am still cleaning up poop at least once a day. The good news- Charlee is perfectly healthy, other than being a little on the pudgy side, and a little constipated. The bad news- it’s trial and error at this point. C is getting Miralax once a day, an oral laxative every other day, and increased water. (Who knew that cats were so high-maintenance?!) As for me…C being sick for so long has definitely taken it’s toll. I am exhausted and quite literally, a giant ball of stress. We’ve been to the vet six times, so I am also poor. Ugh. I feel like I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster- I’m worried, then sad, then happy, then defeated, then happy…it’s been a lot. If a genie could grant me three wishes right now, I’d want Charlee to not be constipated, a week long nap, and Joseph-Gordon Levitt to be single again, in that order.

In all seriousness, I’ve been a wreck, and every area of my life, other than work, has gotten a little neglected. I do see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I am so grateful for that, but can I ask one thing of all of you? You’ve all read about me at my highest of highs and lowest of lows. You’ve been there for the bugs, dinosaurs, laughs, and now, the poop. Can I ask each of you to take a moment, and either say a prayer or send Charlee some good vibes? I know both she and I would appreciate it so much- she would rather not have anyone’s hand up her butt and I’d rather not have to pay the bill for having a hand up her butt. 🙂 Thank you all so much in advance- I love you all and am so lucky for the mass support system I have through this blog. You all are the best!

Before I go, a quick update…since my mind has obviously been elsewhere, the list hasn’t been getting a lot of love lately. BUT, that changes today. I started a little work on some things, and will be reporting back soon. Here’s to some positive list strides, getting a good night’s sleep, and a little less poop in everyone’s life.

Until next time,

xoxo

 

5. On April 19th, every year- go outside and count the stars! (The 3rd and final round!)

Happy Monday- again! I can’t believe it, but I’m in the final stretch of Mondays being a part of my weekend. Starting in June, I’m back to a Monday-Friday work week for the summer. I am insanely excited! While I’ve actually come to like having Mondays off (no lines at Target!), I’m really looking forward to a normal weekend again. I can’t wait. 🙂

This past weekend was a big step for me- I actually did something spontaneous! Well, spontaneous for me, anyway. Mal and I decided to take a trip to Des Moines to see “The Book of Mormon.” Now, generally if I’m planning out a day trip, I do so several weeks in advance- it keeps me organized, gives me time to save a little money if needed, and it keeps me from being stressed out. Anyway, Mal and I made plans about three weeks ago, which is a big deal for us, and the trip went off without a hitch. Despite being hit with some kind of stomach bug Saturday morning, I slept all day and drove to Mal’s Saturday night. We drove to Des Moines yesterday morning for the show- it was AWESOME! I had such a fun time! We had a quick dinner down the street at SpaghettiWorks, then headed home. It was a relaxing day, and such a good way to start the weekend.

The same week we made our trip plans was also April 19th, my third and final star gazing event. If you’ve been around long enough to read about my past two star-gazing endeavors, you know that there have been lots of clouds, a little rain, and very few stars. Since this was my very last one, I was hoping for some kind of cosmic miracle, but the forecast leading up to the big day wasn’t looking good. Even so, I made plans with Bryan and Seth for dinner, ice cream, and stars.

After making tortilla pizzas and making a pit stop at Whitey’s, we drove to what I’ve deemed as mine and Ria’s “spot.” It’s a small park overlooking the Mississippi, and it’s one of my favorite places in the QC. Ria and I used to go there all the time to sit and talk, or drink coffee, or eat Panchero’s. I’ve even FaceTimed her from that spot. Anyway, the guys and I picked a bench, settled in, and looked up. No stars. Again. Thankfully, the clouds started to shift, and three sets of eyes are better than one, so in no time at all, we did discover a couple stars. Either that, or the fact that I was not dressed for the 50 degree weather while eating ice cream, made me hallucinate stars. Who knows? Side note- it’s really, really hard to get pictures of stars!

Anyway, our final count for the evening was 7 stars. Not too bad at all! I had a ton of fun, and it was a great experience to include other people in my star gazing, since I’ve done it by myself the other two times. I’m really excited to have crossed another item off my list- this officially puts me at 11 things done, and 4 things that I’ve started, but not yet finished. And, of course 15 things that I have less than 11 months to complete- eek!!! What list item would you like to see me tackle next? See the complete list here! Ok, well I’d better go shower and be a productive human being now.

Until next time,

xoxo

 

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Taste of Belgium

Happy Monday, friends! I have a gift for you to chase away the Monday blues…TWO BLOG POSTS IN ONE DAY! Yes, you read that right! I’ve been working my butt off on my list, and have lots of fun things to share, so, why not?!  I’m also currently trapped at my house while my car gets a recalled part replaced, so I have all the time in the world! Now, this post is actually a bit of a bonus. I’ve kept on track with my “new restaurant going” but I was in Ohio two weeks ago for a wedding  and I couldn’t not write about that, especially since it was my first time in Cincinnati! Get ready to “ooh and aww” over this adorable brunch spot, and drool all over the food…I definitely did.

So, two weeks ago, my amazing friend, Danielle, got married to one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, Brad. Danielle and I met about five years ago through Ria, and after bonding in Bahrain and probably setting a record with our marathon FaceTime sessions, the rest is history. 🙂 I was incredibly excited for the wedding and the trip itself; I was supposed to visit them two years ago, but ended up with the stomach flu, so it was that much better being able to spend time with them during such a special weekend. The wedding was beautiful, Danielle was GORGEOUS, and every single detail was perfect. I never wanted to leave. (Also, I was only going to share 3-4 pictures, but I couldn’t decide…so here you go.)

 

Now, Danielle and I have had a little bit of bad luck when it comes to restaurants. A few Christmases ago, we met up in Chicago for a weekend. We ate at this great Mexican place that makes the guacamole fresh at your table. It was DELICIOUS and so much fun, until the restaurant filled up with smoke and we were all rushed out of the building. If you can believe this, the SAME THING happened in Ohio. I arrived on a Thursday afternoon. We drove to town, got pedicures, and met her parents for dinner at the restaurant next to the hotel. I was not three bites into my chicken pot pie when the manager ran in, and told us we all needed to evacuate the building because the roof was on fire! The next day, I was still mourning the loss of my pot pie, when Danielle suggested brunch at a place called “Taste of Belgium.” Danielle had mentioned it to me on the phone the week earlier, and I was excited to try it. Although I’m *still* not a huge breakfast fan, I was ready to try something new.

I am not kidding when I say this is probably the cutest place I’ve ever eaten. Seriously.

I was OBSESSED with the wall art, which changed every few seconds via a projection system. I actually made everyone sit and wait for the waffle pictures to pop up again so I could take a picture. Anyway, there was a little bit of a wait, so I had plenty of time to scan the menu. Everything sounded good, but Danielle and Brad told me I had to try the chicken and waffles, which is definitely not something I would normally order, so that’s what I went with. I also had my eye on the Beer Cheese, which came with homemade soft pretzels, so when Brad asked if anyone wanted to share, I was happy to volunteer as tribute. While we waited for the food, I took a bunch of photos, and enjoyed the open air- there is a garage-style door on one side of the restaurant, which was open while we ate. Although it was lightly raining, the cool breeze was a nice addition to a great brunch. Our pretzels and beer cheese arrived, and I’ll be honest…I was so hungry and so excited that I forgot to take pictures. I’ll just say this: it was the best beer cheese/pretzel combo I’ve ever had in my life. The cheese had a hint of raspberry- genius! The appetizer was gone in less than 5 minutes. A few minutes later, our food arrived…

IMG_8100

Please just take a second, and stare at this plate. Yes. It was as good as it looks. Actually, it was better than it looked, if that was even possible. The hot and sweet combo of the syrup and hot sauce was perfect. The salad was a nice addition, and brought the whole meal together. I gave it a valiant effort, but I wasn’t able to eat the whole thing. (I was pretty sad about it.) If you’re ever in Cincy, I HIGHLY recommend this place.. I’d go back in a heartbeat. The atmosphere was great, the food was insane, and even though they were busy, the wait staff was very attentive. 5 stars for Taste of Belgium, and 5 stars to everyone that watched me tear into this meal as though I hadn’t eaten in a week.

IMG_8107

Honestly, I could gush about that place, and the trip itself, for another 1,000 words, but I’ll keep that to myself. 🙂 I hope you all enjoy your Monday, and get ready for round two soon…

Until next time,

xoxo

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!

IMG_7939

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

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

6. Figure out your regrets from the past ten years and either fix it or throw it away.

Happy March 8th, friends! I’d apologize for my 4 week hiatus, but honestly: are you surprised? Nope. And seriously, you didn’t miss much. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  1. Work: A year ago, I joined our brand-new Fundraising Committee, because it sounded like fun…you know, because fun is in the name. (See what I did there? Hilarious.) After a year of hard work, we had our fundraiser, The Kids’ Table, this past Saturday, so my life has been…that. The low down: we had several local restaurants, breweries, and dessert places set up stations throughout our Museum and hand out samples of their signature dishes. We had a local band, several life-sized games, a Zoltar booth, a DUCK POND, and a silent auction. It was so awesome!

I didn’t take any pictures, except for the table one…so I stole these from Mal and Caroline. Thanks Mal and Caroline!

2. I’m doing SO many theatre things…so many. See below! 🙂

3. When I’m not doing work or theatre, I’m doing my best to honor “the year of Steph.” I’ve been trying new recipes, reading, napping, spending time with my friends, napping, and working on my goals for the year. I’m also tackling my health, which started with a trip to my physician yesterday. I’ve been super bloaty for the past few months after I eat, and haven’t been able to pinpoint the cause, so to the doctor I went. She narrowed it down to either dairy or gluten intolerance (a giant UGH to both!) so for the next two weeks, I’m on a dairy-free diet, with a week after of slow reintroduction. The next week, I do the same with gluten. Please send happy thoughts my way- the thought of no cheese for the next 13 days is making me a sad panda. But, I’m excited to get some answers and to have a new adventure.

So…I’ve actually been struggling with this list item; not because it’s hard, but because it’s really not. As cliche as it sounds, I really try not to have regrets.  Sure, my choice in boys in high school wasn’t great, and yes, I’ve said some stupid crap, but who hasn’t?! If I hadn’t dated a stupid boy and I did have the good sense to keep my mouth shut, I wouldn’t be the Steph I am now, and she’s a pretty bitchin’ lady. So instead of regrets and how I’m fixing them/throwing them away, I looked at this as “things I had the ability to change, and how I chose to change them.” I have three…here they are.

  1. I’ve had a lot of people in my life tell me that theatre wasn’t a feasible career option- I’d never make money, I’d never find something stable, I’d never be successful. And I listened…oh boy, did I listen, and even worse- I believed it. A few years ago, after choreographing for St. Ambrose, I realized that theatre was, and always has been, my true love. I told myself that if I ever changed jobs, I’d make theatre a priority in my life, and now I have, in a big way. Not only did I direct my first play this fall, I am currently choreographing TWO musicals, and at the end of the month, I’m doing a staged reading for a local theatre company. Yes, I might be busy, but I’m happy. So happy-and so glad that I let myself choose that happiness.
  2. I’d like to think that I’ve always been a nice person. I try my best to treat everyone with respect, even when I haven’t had my coffee, and do focus on the positives. But along with that, I don’t like confrontation, and I don’t like rocking the boat. So, for years, I’ve let people walk all over me. I’ve let people treat me like crap. I’ve let people be mean and rude. And each time it happens, I’d let myself believe that it was really me- I was  being too sensitive, I was too emotional, I was overthinking. But…was I? This year, I’ve decided enough is enough. It’s the Year of Steph, and in the Year of Steph, I’m taking the high road and I’m choosing myself. I can’t change other people, but I can change me. So, instead of letting a few people get me down, I’m going to constantly remind myself what a badass, independent, crazy talented woman I am. Is it going to take overnight? Nope. But it’s worth the journey. I’m still nice, but now, I’m going to be nice to me.
  3. I’ve never been particularly good with money…I had some BAD spending habits in college, and unfortunately, I’m still paying for that today. In the last year, I’ve made some adjustments to my finances to help me on my way to becoming debt-free. In about two weeks, I’ll be hitting a major milestone- I’ll have paid off my student loans in their entirety. What felt impossible even 18 months ago is finally happening, and with that, I know I’ll be able to make smarter choices with my finances moving forward.

So there you go…not regrets, per say, but things I wanted to change…and I’m working on them all. Will I always make good choices with my money, always be nice to myself, and always choose theatre happiness? Probably not. But I’m truly excited to continue working on these. One of my mottos for this year is “Adventure Awaits” and working on these three things is going to be a pretty great adventure…and one more thing crossed off my list. 🙂

Until next time,

xoxo