Category Archives: Family

Get voting and smiling

I have to say my piece— GET OUT AND VOTE TODAY!!!!!!!!!

Here are a few words that have made me smile as of late:

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Stuffed… literally

My first time… making stuffed chicken

Last night a friend stopped by to hang out and I decided to cook up a delicious dish for both she and my roommate. On the menu you ask? Gorgonzola and sundried tomato stuffed chicken with asapargus.

I began with a small bowl combining gorgonzola, sun dried tomato paste, salt, pepper and fresh basil. I used the back of a fork to mash and incorporate the ingredients.

Once mixed, I set that aside and it was onto the chicken. I used s sharp knife to create a “pocket” on the top of each chicken breast. In order to create more room within the pocket I used my thumbs to make it somewhat larger; more room for the stuffin’!

Pockets prepared, I used a small spoon to fill the chicken with the gorgonzola sundried tomato mixture and then lightly coated top side of the chicken with about a teaspoon of mayonaise.

The mayonaise is key (though I am sure you could use another condiment if you wish) because I then pressed the coated side of the chicken breast into panko bread crumbs.

Once all chicken breasts were covered I pre heated the oven to 425 degerees and placed the meat in a greased, oven safe dish and popped it in the oven for about 25 minutes.

About half way through the cooking of the chicken I filled a large pot with water and set it on the stove to come to boil. Once boiling (about 3-5 minutes left on the chicken) I threw in fresh, trimmed asparagus. As soon as the 4 or so minutes was up, I dumped the asapargus into a colander and ran them under cold water; this helps to stop the cooking process and ensures the asparagus is at just the right consistency. I returned them to the pot and tossed with parmesan, salt, pepper and olive oil.

While that sat I pulled the chicken from the oven and started plating!

The flavor combination of the gorgonzola and sundried tomatoes mixture was rich but not too rich and incredibley creamy; that mixed with the crispy panko bread crumbs rounded out the texture piece. The asapargus turned out perfect and was a nice light side to pair with the richness of the chicken’s stuffing.

The reviews were glowing and the food devoured so I imagine I will be making this again in the future!


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“I been hangingaround this town…”

My first… hanging re-do 

A few months back a girlfriend of mine came over to help me paint my room a sweet shade of gray; Porpoise to be exact. Well since then, I have had nothing hanging on the wall. Nothing. After great searching I found things I already had around the house, and a bright white can of spray paint.

Here’s what I was working with…

After a few coats of spray paint here’s what I ended up with…

Tonight was the night for the hanging. Armed with a ruler, hammer, nails and a light colored Sharpie, all of these beauties were hung with care.

I made sure to include some fun and favorite items of mine– the top right frame houses a beautiful note from my mom on a gorgeous card she got in Hawaii, a wine charm also from my mom (too pretty to gift) and lastly on the bottom right a photo I took in a past photography class.

On the other side I have showcased a brightly colored envelope, a picture of me walking on the beach in Cozumel, and a to die for necklace my dad bought me on our recent trip to Kauai.

I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome. I love the simple clean lines and it serves as a reminder that beautiful things can be created from items you already have; often it ends up meaning much more.

Happy re-doing!!!

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Edge of the Earth?

My first time… at Polihale Beach, Kauai, Hawaii

If you have ever been to Kauai, you know that it is a fairly small island. I was certain that I had done and seen most of what Kauai had to offer in past visits. Nonetheless I grabbed the Top 10 pamphlet that outlined, best seafood, best snorkeling and so on. I was intrigued when I began reading about Polihale Beach; said to be the best beach on the island with the greatest sunset view.

The mention of sunset had my dad and I ready to hit the pavementto find this place. It is often referred to as the “end of the road” as you literally leave any paved road and drive for miles on a rutty, beaten path but at the end, your breath is taken away….

I believe this to be the true gem of the NaPali coast. It was incredible to spend hours walking, sitting, and taking it all in. The colors from the bright sun to the orangey sunset changed the landscape in a dramatically beautiful way.  I could have spent the rest of my trip just lingering. I was one hundred percent at peace. This place was beyond words.


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My first…meal in Kauai

I cannot believe I have been back from paradise for a week now. Somewhat disheartening but keeps me excited for my next adventure.

We landed in Kauai in the late afternoon. Having not eaten since we left Minneapolis, all of our minds and our stomachs were focused on food. We dropped off our luggage and headed to a nearby Hawaii mainstay; Duke’s.

First up, it was time for a much needed drink. I opted for the Tropical Itch which was made up of Passion Fruit juice, Orange Curacao, with a dark rum float.

The scents from the restaurant and the salty ocean air continued our need for food. Everything that was being served around us looked drool-worthy. Our serve recommended the Panko Crusted Calamari with the tropical cocktail sauce.

The pieces of calamari were enormous and the panko crust super light. I was leery of the cocktail sauce as I don’t usually love sweet sauces but it was just the right amount of sweet to compliment the calamari’s saltiness.

For the main dish, I ordered the Spinach and Shrimp Salad which was composed of spinach, grilled shrimp, praline pecans, Kunana Dairy goat cheese and drizzled with a warm bacon vinegarette. It was divine.

Not a bad first meal if you ask me! More stories and pictures to come.



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Adventures in sleepovers

My first… sleepover (in years)

My girlfriend Ashley and her husband built a gorgeous house this summer that is just perfect for entertaining. So I was thrilled when Ash called saying her husband was out of town for a guys weekend and that we should have a girls night; sleepover, pajamas required!

We opted to do a progressive dinner with the main focus being fondue, and drinks of course. Everything turned out phenomenally. Ashley, Christine and I spent the night talking, laughing, eating, and more eating.

It was exactly what the doctor ordered. I love catching up with friends and not have to worry about when it it is time to head home. We kept the conversation lengthy, the wine flowing and loved every minute of it!

Oh I forgot, that ONE boy was invited… COOP A LOOP!!!

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Better to be found than lost (in this case)

My first time… at Found Things

This killer antique store is nestled in the heart of Des Moines’ East Village. Being a rather frequent visitor of other Des Moines area vintage and antique stores, I was surprised I had never been here, and even more surprised that my out of town relatives have been here multiple times. Where was I? Nonetheless, I was thrilled to browse around this little gem.

The store was bright, cheery and filled to the brim with history and treasures for all. Following suit with the other out-of-towners in my family, I will most certainly be making a stop here whenever I am back in Des Moines.

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Schnoodle Time

My first time… meeting Mister

A month or so ago my older brother got a new puppy named Mister. He is a Schnoodle and while I was so excited for my brother, I was so disappointed that I was not going to be able to visit him until my next trip to New York City. So, I was absolutley thrilled when I heard that Mister was going to be home for the holidays!!

What a little peanut, he was adorable. Can’t wait to see him next time so that we can snuggle again!

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29 years ago today a man by the name of Aj and a woman by the name of Becky were married at their friends home in Des Moines, Iowa. These two lovebirds are my parents.

It is not your normal fairy tale. They met on a blind date. My mom wasn’t interested. My dad pursued and eventually he got the girl. It wasn’t always smooth sailing nor was it always choppy waters. From the humble beginnings their dreams were big.  They worked, played and loved hard.

I am sure there were days they didn’t like each other. And I am sure there are days they are head over heels in love but no matter what they always picked our family first. Through it all they chose each other, and they chose our family. They always fight for us. They protected and continue to protect all that they created and all that they love.


They have taught me what love is, and how to express it. They have shown me how to pick my battles and how to stand up for what I believe in; to be are open, honest and true to oneself. They love and honor one another and continually show grace in ways I cannot even begin to imagine.

I am so honored to have them as my parents and so grateful for their love. Cheers to you and all there is to come! I love you Mom and Dad! Happy Anniversary!



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My first…Becky and Monique weekend (in AGES)

A few months back my mom heard about a weekend shopping “fair” called the Junk Bonanza. She was told it was a vintage sale and that it was a blast. We knew nothing else, and we were sold. I bought tickets and we decided to make a weekend out of it. As the date drew closer we decided to make a 5 day go of it. Not just the Junk Bonanza but the girls weekend! We had such a great time and I was so thrilled to have my mom on my “turf”.

Rather than doing a run down of all of the fun stuff we saw/did, I thought I would simply do a picture entry—highlight reel if you will. Hope you enjoy!!

Junk Bonanza

Cash register reel

Sock... boy?

got meat?


lots of extras

watch mechanism

for you Al--- all sheet music

Iowa everywhere...

Emerson Kicker, aye?

Crib springs as picture frame--- my "big" purchase!

Doll molds... in a jar... interesting

love her!!

Bachman’s Florist

i die...


Perfect Irish Coffee

The Mix

want the mirror


Owner called it the "Asian Room"


goes on and on and on...

Nordstrom Rack 

Mens 22 vs Women's 7.5

The Loon

says it all

Ummm... yes please!

Almost as good as Beck's

The older I get the more and more fun I have with my mom. The above pictures are great but nothing compares to the actual time we got to spend together. Whether going to a bonanza or sitting in the cold drinking Irish Coffee everything is better when she is around. So I suggest you have a mom date, a mom weekend… heck just call your mom– she loves you and as I have learned, she’s your biggest cheerleader!!!


Love you Mom