Category Archives: VOLUNTEER

Volunteering in Des Moines

So, a bit different type of post today…but a post at that!

For the past couple of years, I have driven down to SW 9th and Porter Avenue once a week during the summer and fall to spend time with a student at Orchard Place.  As stated on their website, “Orchard Place is a nationally recognized leader in children’s mental health and juvenile justice services.”  I have served as a mentor to three kids over my tenure as a volunteer.

I first learned of Orchard Place when the Junior League of Des Moines (an organization I’ve mentioned before) chose to partner on a project to fund the creation of a small workout work for the kids at OP.  I got the opportunity to attend a breakfast in which the CEO, Brock Wolff, talked so passionately about his work and the work of  all the staff at OP.  It’s something I have been lucky enough to witness while hanging out with my mentee.  Not only does the staff work hard, enjoy their jobs, but a large chunk of the funding for OP comes from staff and volunteer donations…an amount I
don’t recall but I remember being amazed.

Other than spending time with these awesome kids, one of my favorite parts of volunteering is getting to do all those things you used to do as a kid, but might not take the time or have the time to do anymore (especially since I don’t have children of my own) – playing HORSE on the basketball court, Chutes and Ladders, coloring with crayons and coloring books, and currently I am learning how to play chess.  Last week I was introduced to Bananagrams and it’s on my Target list already!

Since I’ve been posting food and workouts for so long, I feel weird not posting something along those lines, so here is a quick snapshot from my lunch.  A small salad with Romano cheese, grilled chicken, and a drizzle of olive oil.  On the side is some delicious prosciutto from a local farmer in Norwalk…La Quercia.

By the way, my small camera I’ve had since college and carry around in my purse for those non-massive-camera situations died the other week.  I ran it by Christian Photo here in Des Moines (fantastic customer service, by the way), and it’s official…it died.  So, the camera I typically use to take quick shots around Des Moines is no longer and until I get a replacement, the Blackberry will have to do. 😦

So enough gabbing from me.  It’s time for bed.  Just the life in an average Iowa farm girl, right? 🙂

If you’re interested in volunteering for Orchard Place, they are always looking
for volunteers to serve as mentors and I highly, highly recommend it!  Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll get you the contact information for their volunteer coordinator.

Till next time!




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Training for My First Triathlon

Another successful workout this morning at the pool.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate as well for the afternoon workout.  Yep, I’ve decided to dive in and sign up for my first triathlon.  It’s a sprint distance, so I think I’ll be ok physically.  It’s the mental part of open-water swimming and the transitions I’m a little worried about.  Good think I have a lot of support from friends!

Here is my schedule for the next 5 weeks:

Week         Mon       Tue       Wed           Thur           Fri      Sat        Sun

May 23   Swim 21   Rest   Swim 28   Swim 35   Bike 70  Rest    Run 35
Bike 42                Run 23

May 30   Swim 23   Rest   Swim 31   Swim 39    Bike 77  Rest   Run 39
Bike 46                Run 23

Jun3 6    Italy          Italy     Italy          Italy           Italy      Italy    Italy

Jun 13   Swim 18   Rest    Swim 26    Swim 31    Bike 62    Rest  Run 31
Bike 37                                                      Run 18

Jun 20  Swim 14   Rest    Bike 46       Swim 23    Rest        Rest    Race
Bike 28                Run 14

At least these are the workouts I’m planning to get in each week…not necessarily in this order.

Thanks to JH for the website suggestion containing training plans…  I’ve pulled this from the last four weeks of their swim-heavy sprint triathlon plan.  Those numbers are the minutes I’m supposed to spend running, swimming, and biking.  The workouts highlighted in red are workouts that should be done as a “brick,” or back-to-back.  Sorry for the poor format.  I’m still learning how to paste charts into my posts.  Suggestions?

For instance, Monday’s “Swim 21, Bike 42” workout indicates doing one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Farther down, the “Swim 18, Bike 37” indicates doing a swim, immediately followed by the bike.  We’ll see how this goes!

Uneventful day at work and in the world of meals.  Scrambled eggs with salsa for breakfast.

Salad for lunch, which was not the best I’ve had.  I was trying to clean up some things so here is a list of the ingredients:

– Lettuce (of course)
– Fresh salsa (getting pretty tangy by this point)
– Peas (probably a weird addition)
– Chopped walnuts
– Dried cranberries.

While I was preparing my lettuce, I went ahead and cut up the whole head and divided it into bowls for the rest of the week.

With such an early morning at the pool, I had a lot of extra time to be busy…and relax.

I prepped for the week (lettuce bowls that is).  Washed and spun it before dividing into the bowls…

I did the Sudoku puzzle.

Don’t tell anyone, but I occasionally (ok more often than that) read the Dear Abby section.  I like to see if my response is the same as hers…plus sometimes the questions remind me that life isn’t really too bad!

I even had a few minutes to get started on the crossword puzzle.  A lot of mornings I’ll bring it to work to continue my attempt while I eat lunch.  Plus, doing it at the beginning of the week means it’s a heck of a lot easier than Sunday mornings. 🙂

This evening I meant to get out on the bike, but with the rain, I ended up staying at work a little later and not getting home in time.  Instead I headed to Great Harvest Bread Co. for the first time and picked up a couple of loaves of bread.  I can’t wait to try them!  I’ve been meaning to stop by there for like the past year, but when Groupon had a deal, I just couldn’t resist. Thank you Groupon!

Then a trip to Hy-Vee to stock up for the week and weekend, before a New Leaders Council meeting and then off to the I-Cubs game with YPC!  A busy evening indeed!

Highlights from the night:

Corn dog!!

Oh, and a Coors Light to wash it down.

Watching some of the crew sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game!”

Check out the pizza mascot…gotta love Casey’s Pizza!

And some great views of the Capitol behind the field.

The pictures don’t do it justice…next time I’ll bring the good camera.

Ok, enough from me tonight!

Sweet Dreams!


What is your morning routine?  Do you admit to reading Dear Abby? 🙂

Do you use GroupOn and LivingSocial?  What’s the best deal you’ve found?



The Start of My Daily Walks

What a weekend and what a long Monday…! GW and I headed to Cedar Rapids for the weekend to spend some time with family and we joined friends of mine from high school celebrate a wedding. It was great to catch up with so many people and I’m hoping by tomorrow I’ll get the rest of my energy back. 🙂

In an effort to get back into a routine, MB and I got out for a nice 4+ mile run this morning at Gray’s Lake. Since the last time I’ve been out there, it has been transformed! They’ve planted flowers and plants, all the trees look beautiful with their full green leaves, and other than a touch of humidity (go figure, we are in Iowa), it was a pleasant run. A quick one, also! We must have been enjoying it because by the time we were done, we ended with an average pace of 8:20…not too shabby!

I was pleasantly reminded this morning that I had baked some chicken breasts last week, so lunch was a cinch today! A small baked chicken breast with some fresh leftover salsa, and black beans…easy and tasty!

Starting this week, I’ve got some of my co-workers joining me for a short 15-20 minute afternoon walk. I find myself spending so much time inside, that I need a chance to enjoy the nice weather, and it serves as a great refresher and motivator for the end of the day.

Today it was just me and my i-pod with a trip down to the East Village and back. Oh and me looking goofy in my tennis shoes and pencil skirt.

Gorgeous views and a nice breeze, but I was still sweating like crazy when I got back!

Eleven minutes down and eleven minutes back…with a 5 minute stop into GW’s office to say hi!

For my evening excitement? Board meeting and a stop to Gateway Market for my first try of the Turkey Bacon Sandwich…Grant’s favorite! And of course some laundry.

It was good.  I’m not sure I’m as hooked as GW, but I’d certainly order it again.  The portion size was perfect…though maybe a little late to be eating (9 pm).

Well, I’m off to bed.  I’m meeting MB again tomorrow, except this time for a swim!  Tomorrow I’ll post my 5 week training schedule for the sprint triathlon I planning to do.  I should probably sign up for that, huh? 🙂

Sweet Dreams!


What do you think about eating late?  Is it better to eat late or go to bed famished?

How do you get refreshed during the day, especially for those of you who spend your day at a desk?

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Celebrating My 1/2 Birthday

It’s my half birthday!  I’m not sure if you’re still supposed to celebrate that at the age of 26, but why not, right?  Though I can’t say I have anything special in mind for celebrating.  Maybe some extra chocolate will do!



I think I’m getting sick.  I thought getting outside for my run this morning would help, but the chills, weakness, and occasional nausea are pointing towards a fever.  So in an effort to curb the symptoms, I’m stocking up on vitamin C, green tea, fruits, veggies, and planning on lots of sleep tonight.


Are you a tea person?  Do you like coffee?  I will occasionally drink coffee, but I have a cup of tea almost every day and as you can see from my cupboard at office, I like a variety. J


Green is probably my favorite, but I enjoy the combination of different flavors.  One of these days I’ll get myself into loose leaf team.  There is an excellent shop in the East Village with an entire wall of different teas!  They do tea tastings during certain parts of the year, so I’m hoping they’re going to get started again soon.  Where is this fascinating place you ask?  It’s called Gong Fu and it’s a quaint, relaxing shop on E. 6th Street.


After a long day at work (11+ hour day), I made it to the very end of our New Member Junior League women.  We have a group of about 30 exceptional women who are joining the Junior League of Des Moines this year.  As part of becoming a new member, they chose a class project and will be working with the I Have a Dream Foundation.  I am so pumped to see what they come up with!








Once I finally made it home, it was time for some dinner!  GW had already eaten, so for a quick bite, I kept nibbling away at some homemade honey wheat bread I made about two months ago.  I can’t believe it’s still good, but I’ve kept it in the fridge and it’s best in the toaster, since after this long, it’s not quite the softness it was at first.  I threw on some Smuckers Natural peanut butter and a few sliced strawberries.  Since I don’t have any fruit preserves, jam, or jelly (what is the difference?) right now, it was the best I could come up with; especially since I won’t make it to the grocery store until tomorrow night.








Time for a little catch up on emails and then it’s off to bed for me!  I’ve got 6 miles in the morning and since it looks like there is (sadly) snow coming, I might be stuck inside at the gym and that definitely takes some motivation!

Sweet Dreams!



Back to the Grind…or the Trails

Things have been a little busy, to say the least.  Work is crazy, and it seems as if all my other activities speed up once the new year hits.  It’s made it a little difficult to find time to blog.  I can barely remember to take photos or come up with topics to write about.

Since I last posted in October I think, I finished my first marathon, spent a lot of time following the campaigns and election, spent a ton of time in Cedar Rapids with my family, and watched another year begin.  I expected to take off some time from running, focusing more on swimming, but I have signed up for the May 1 Lincoln Marathon.  I’m on week 9 of training of about 17 weeks.  After a 12 mile run on Saturday, which was painfully done on the treadmill, I am actually looking forward to the 19 miler planned for this weekend outside.

This morning I was able to get outside for a short 4 mile run.  Check out how beautiful the Capitol is in the AM.

It makes me feel so privileged to work in such a beautiful building.

Another highlight of my day…spending some time with the new member of the Junior League of Des Moines.  Since September I have been serving as co-chair of the new member class for Junior League and loving every minute of it.  I’ve had the chance to meet some fantastic women in the Des Moines area and tell them about what a great organization they’ve chosen to volunteer their time.

To check out more information about the organization, go to  It’s not too late to join us for our spring class!  We’ll start another in the fall and we’re always looking for women interested in getting involved in the community.

I hope this isn’t my last post for the week, but for now I’ve got to run like the wind!



Des Moines Iowa Club

When I moved to Des Moines, I wanted to stay involved with the University of Iowa Alumni Association.  After attending an organizational meeting with a representative from the Association, I offered my help and support to the Des Moines Iowa Club

I should note, that the Iowa Club is not the same as the I-Club.  The Des Moines Iowa Club is organized by the University of Iowa Alumni Association, while the Polk County I-Club is organized through the University of Iowa Foundation

According to my knowledge the Des Moines Iowa has a prominent past in the Central Iowa area. Back in the 90s, the Des Moines Iowa Club was known as the Golden Circle.  They started hosting an annual job fair for graduates of the University of Iowa.  It was a success and after a quick Google search, it looks like the 20th Annual Golden Circle College Fair is taking place here in Des Moines on October 3.  Well, my understanding is that the job fair continued to grow and eventually was passed onto the Iowa Board of Regents, but I may need to do a little more research, as the current job fair is run by the Iowa College Access Network.  Watch for a future post with more information!

Once the club turned over the job fair, the membership began to dwindle.  Over the past couple of years, the Alumni Association has worked to revitalize the club and they currently hold an event every month and there some events in coordination with Iowa State and UNI alumni groups. 

Since I enjoy getting involved with as many things as I can possibly fit in my schedule, I currently serve as the Des Moines Iowa Club Leader.  While the staff at the Association does most of the work, I get to serve as a contact for the Club, I do my best to keep an eye out for event opportunities, and when I can I try to attend every event I can.  This past week I had the opportunity to answer questions for alumni and interested Des Moines-ites with the Alumni Association at an Open House for the John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center.  The event was meant to highlight all of the University of Iowa programs that are offered in Des Moines.

It was a great event, I met former Governor and First Lady, Bob and Billie Ray, and I got another chance to check out the impressive architecture of the Center.  The Pappajohns were honored and presented with a tribute for their continued support of the University of Iowa.  Unfortunately, the rain kept us from getting a tour of the sculpture garden (something I STILL need to do)!  Nonetheless, it was a lovely event and I was happy I had the opportunity to attend.

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Racing through the East Village

It’s Sunday and sadly the weekend is coming to an end.  Not without some excitement in the East Village. 

This past spring, I finally took the plunge and bought myself a bicycle.  I’ve been considering it and talking about it for a couple of years now.  I knew I wanted a road bike and I even went as far as getting measured for a bike and having one all picked out.  After getting a tip from a friend about the Annual Bike World Warehouse Sale, I decided I’d go check it out.  What do you know…they had the exact bike I had planned to get a year or so earlier!  So I bought it and I’m so happy I did. 

Unfortunately, with all this running, I haven’t had a ton of time to spend riding it.  I get out occasionally and as soon as October 17th is over, I have vowed to spend more time with a helmet on my head.

After I bought the bike, I realized I don’t have many friends who bike, so with a suggestion from women in the RED Hots Running group, I joined the VeloRosa Cycling Team.  What an amazing group of women!  I’ve never regretted the couple of times I’ve had time to spend with the group.  All skill levels, a variety of goals, and most importantly they’re helpful and welcoming. 

So Sunday, I was able to spend a few hours manning the E. 6th and Locust Street corner during the East Village Criterium.  I met some new VeloRosa members and their significant others, learned a few things about bike races, got a little sun, and left inspired to find time for my bike this week.  Hopefully I can make it out for the Wine Ride on Thursday!

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