Friday, July 12, 2024

High Five for Friday (7.12.24)


I'm so behind on high fives...which is a good thing, because it means I have lots to high five about, but it also means I'll likely be playing catch up throughout the rest of the summer!


In just a few days, Will will compete in the PGDA Junior Disc Golf World Championships in Tulsa, OK. No matter how he plays and where he finishes, we're SO proud of how hard he's worked both to qualify and then prepare for this tournament.

Once the tournament is underway (he'll play rounds on July 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th, and if he makes the finals he'll play on July 20th as well), you'll be able to "follow along" or just check his scores here - his PDGA player number is 227560.


I didn't include any pics or videos of Hallie at Nashville Ballet in my High Five for Nashville post, but she gave me permission to share a couple here. These are just from a regular class - not a showcase or performance - but I love watching her throw herself so completely into what she's come to love.


Also related to Nashville...I spotted a celebrity! While working in Starbucks, I spotted Clea from The Home Edit, who popped in to pick up an online coffee order. I'm 100% positive it was her - she has a very distinct look, and because I was sitting by the door, she had to walk within about five feet of me twice. I didn't want to bother her, but I did discretely snap this photo from a distance to document this sighting...zoom in for verification!


Since returning from Nashville, Hallie has been basically friendless. She has friends, yes, but because of other summer ballet and dance intensive schedules and travel, none of her friends are in town. She's been tagging along with me on lots of errands (not the high five), but also spending a lot of time with Will (definitely the high five). I hoped this would happen, and I'm thrilled that it has. 


After we returned from Nashville, I let our rescue know we were once again "open for business"...and Kiara, Kovu, and Vitani came back! Kiara stayed for a few days before leaving for her forever home, and then last weekend Kovu also left to join his new family. Vitani was posted later than her siblings (since she was slower to adapt to humans), but she's made so much progress and is ready for a family now. 


A bonus!

On Tuesday my dad turned 74 years old. That number isn't a particularly big birthday or significant year in and of itself, but for my dad, reaching 74 was life-changing.

Both his dad and older brother (my grandpa and uncle) passed away when they were 73 years old. As a result, and since his brother died a couple of years ago, my dad truly believed he wouldn't live to see 74. And here's the thing...he almost didn't. A couple of months ago, he had a significant health scare. It was the kind of event that could have gone either way, and because of amazing doctors and nurses (and because of my mom - she truly deserves some of the credit), it went his way and he's still here to tell the tale. 

Happy birthday, Dad. I love you and I'm so grateful you fought your way to 74.

Signing the marriage license for the
(first ever) wedding he officiated in June.


Happy weekend, friends.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Monthly Medley: June 2024



I read two books during our two weeks in Nashville. If I'd thought I could finish two books in two weeks (I actually finished two books in one week, as I didn't start reading until around day seven), I'd have brought a third - I was bookless and sad our last two nights.

First, The Walk, by Richard Paul Evans. I cruised through this novel at warp speed, partly because of how the story it written - it engages from page one and flows smoothly - and partly because of how the book is laid out, with single quotes separating relatively short chapters. While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I was disappointed to learn (quite a ways in) that it was the first in a series of FIVE and as a result, I only made it one fifth of the way to the story's resolution when I reached the final page.

Second, The Eden Test, by Adam Sternbergh. I think I dove into this one more quickly than I otherwise would have, given that I had just finished The Walk (and wasn't thrilled about discovering I had to read four more books to wrap up the protagonist's journey) and that I had a little more free time than I usually do. I could predict a few of the twists and turns in this thriller about a husband and wife who decide on an unconventional approach to saving their marriage, but there were definitely a couple that caught me off guard. Definitely a solid summer beach read if you like suspenseful mysteries! 


Hallie and I saw If, starring Ryan Reynolds as the "keeper" of Imaginary Friends, in the theater while in Nashville. If I could only choose one word to describe this movie, it would be "darling," but if I could use a few more adjectives, I'd add charming, delightful, and sentimental. Hallie and I both enjoyed it, and for the first time ever, she cried more during a movie than me.

Once home, I watched all soccer, all the time. The Euro Cup and Copa America tournaments have been taking place this month, so we've had soccer games on almost every afternoon and evening. Anyone else excited for all Olympics, all the time?

Listening To

It's been ages since I'd even thought about the podcast Serial, but I've circled back around to it for season four: a deep dive into the history and evolution of Guantanamo Bay as well as "what it's like to be caught inside an improvised justice system." As usual, Sarah Koenig and her team do an excellent job of interviewing guests and contributors and then putting together these interviews and their research in an engaging and educational way.


I'm still on my Unfollow Friday kick, but I'm adding a few sports teams and individual athletes ahead of the Olympics. I pay close attention to men's soccer (@USMNT), women's soccer (@USWNT), swimmer Katie Ledecky, gymnast Simone Biles, and the main Olympics pages: The Olympic Games (@olympics) and NBC Olympics & Paralympics (@nbcolympics). 

Side note: "olympics" is one of those words that doesn't look real after you type if a few times. 😂


I stumbled upon this ELF powder foundation at TJ Maxx, and given that we were heading into summer (when I don't wear as much make up - especially liquid foundation - but when I generally need a powder to help combat sweat-driven shininess), I decided to give it a try. I set the bar pretty low, but I ended up liking it a lot - it definitely has a place in my make up drawer and travel bag now!

One of the coffee shops I visited in Nashville served me my coffee in a glass like this:

I don't know why, but it elevated my iced latte with almond milk to the point that I think I should be drinking my afternoon cold brew (I drink black hot coffee in the morning, and cold brew with french vanilla nutpod creamer in the afternoon) from something similar. This set on Amazon seems like what I'm looking for, but before I purchase, I thought I'd ask if anyone had a recommendation for the best place - online or in person - to purchase these. Additionally, while this coffee shop had regular straws, it seems like a lot of people prefer to use glass straws with these I want to do this? Someone enlighten me.


While pounding the (insanely hilly) pavement in Nashville, my athletic shoes died. And by died, I mean they were absolutely fine - comfortable and supportive - until all of a sudden they weren't, and just as suddenly my feet went from absolutely fine to aching and swollen. I didn't want to buy a new pair of shoes but knew I had to do something, so Hallie and I popped over to the outlet mall where I chose something off of the Nike clearance rack. One walk in and my feet felt better, and by the end of my second walk in the new shoes, my feet were as good as new they can be considering I'm 45 and have a hereditary predisposition to foot problems.

I could only find the shoes I chose on sites like ebay (likely because they came from the clearance rack), but they're Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38. They run true to size and have great footbed support if you're like me and have old, achy, grumpy feet.


I made these Crispy Air Fryer Pork Chops and ALL FOUR Ferri declared them delicious! I didn't have cornflakes on hand so I omitted them from the breading mixture and didn't miss them at all.

Hallie's on a summer baking kick, and so far since arriving home from Nashville she's made cheesecake cupcakes and chocolate chip muffins, and she has bookmarked at least another 25 recipes she plans to try between now and our next trip. It's kind of nice to have someone else "slaving away in the kitchen"...

While in Nashville, Hallie and I discovered two new Trader Joe wins and I rediscovered one of my favorite treats from many years ago. 

New to us - so naturally sweet and delicious!

New to us - Hallie's current favorite food.

An old favorite - I've been dreaming about these since I
finished this box...time for a trip to our closest Trader Joe's!

Smiling About

This category is officially renamed as of this month.

Happy summer, friends!

Thursday, July 4, 2024

"May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right."

~ Peter Marshall

I struggle with this post every year. I have trouble finding words that adequately express both my love for this country and my fear for its direction. I want to commemorate the adoption of our country's Declaration of Independence and celebrate our history, government, traditions, and above all else, national and individual freedoms. I also want to show respect and support for those whose feelings about today are layered and complicated...those whose ancestors were not declared free and celebrating their independence on July 4, 1776. 

So today, as we celebrate this great nation's independence and freedom, I want to acknowledge that independence and freedom came later for many of our citizens...and that there is still work to be done.


A few 4th of July favorites from years past!


If you're planning on playing with fireworks tonight, please read the fireworks safety link below. I wrote this post for the Red Cross a few years ago, but the information still rings true. Be safe! Fireworks 411, So You Don't Need 911.


Last but not least, there'll be no HFFF post this week - see you next Tuesday!

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Taco Tuesday Tom

In honor of Taco Tuesday...

Last week Tom forwarded me a link to an article I hadn't see in years, maybe even decades. He apparently went in search of it in an effort to prove to his coworkers that the story he'd told them was actually true, and then shared it with me thinking I'd enjoy the walk down memory lane.

After reading the article, I hopped over to the blog to find the post I'd written previously about this life-changing (in that it earned Tom his most used nickname) event...and was shocked to discover I'd never actually written about that day in detail before. Yes, I'd mentioned that we often call my better half "Taco Tom," but I hadn't share the specifics.

So here are the specifics, about the day we were walking by Panchero's in downtown Iowa City and Tom was roped into participating in their annual burrito eating contest. About how he, as a skinny mini sophomore, stripped off his shirt and in his topless state ate five giant burritos. About how he beat out his nine opponents to win "free burritos for a year." (Tom was told that first prize was free burritos for a year. It wasn't. 😂)  About how his post-competition "reversal of fortune" caused a blood vessel in his eye to burst...just a couple of days before he was scheduled to have his photo taken for an official University of Iowa brochure. (Yep, they still took his picture and used it in the brochure, despite his terribly creepy eye.) About the day he became Taco Tom.

I transcribed the article below because it's incredibly difficult to read here. Warning: the article mentions vomit quite a few times. 

Burrito Contestants Compete to Eat

A UI sophomore wins Panchero's fifth annual contest by downing five.

UI Sophomore Tom Ferris may have lost a hard-boiled egg-eating contest during breakfast with his friends Wednesday morning, but he made up for it last night by winning Panchero's Mexican Grill's burrito-eating contest.

Ten contestants, including Ferris, participated in the annual event at the downtown Panchero's, 32. S. Clinton St., by eating burritos non-stop for 45 minutes Wednesday evening.

Ferris ate almost five half-pound burritos and was declared the official winner right after he finished vomiting in the bathroom.

Regurgitation was the center of controversy after a Panchero's employee apparently told runner-up Sean Hansen, a UI Senior, that vomiting was permitted during competition when in fact it was against contest rules. Hansen went into the bathroom and vomited during the competition after three of his total four and a half burritos. He eventually argued his way back into the competition.

While it appeared Hansen would win, the crowd started to support Ferris by yelling, "Taco Tom! Taco Tom!" Soon the whole place was chanting as Ferris took the lead in the final minutes. Competition between the two had already erupted earlier when they book took their shirts off to show their eating power.

The official winners were announced after the remaining burritos were weighed. Because Ferris vomited after the competition, instead of during, he was declared the official winner and given 12 free burrito tickets. Hansen and Iowa City resident Daryl Stephenson, a former contest champion, were declared runners-up and were rewarded with 10 tickets.

The other seven competitors slowly gave up during the competition. After eating almost two burritos, UI junior Nathan Huffman was the first to quit.

"I can't do it," he said. "I don't even know if I'd want to eat a semester's worth of free burritos."

Huffman wasn't the only contestant who gave up early. UI freshman Melissa Brown, the only female competitor who said she was signed up by her friend, quit after eating a little more than two burritos.

"This isn't fun anymore," Brown said after finishing her second burrito. 

This was the fifth year for the contest, said Panchero's owner Rodney Anderson. Four contestants entered by signing up in advance, and the other six volunteered right before the contest began, he said.

Ferris, who volunteered the day of the contest, said he plans to do it again next year.

"This is the best day," he said, and added that the free burritos may go to charity since he probably won't be able to eat any more for the rest of the year.


Should I make tacos - or maybe burritos - for dinner tonight? 🌮 🌯