Welcome to the first edition of Side Notes & Shenanigans! This new monthly series will highlight our lives behind the scenes, maybe in the kitchen, but most likely in the family room, or when weather permits, the backyard.
WHAT WE’RE EATING
The weather has officially transformed into autumn, friends, and so have our culinary preferences. K-Hubs and I are slurping Dairy-Free Homemade Creamy Vegetable Soup like it’s our job. Which is actually kinda of true since we are glorified taxi cab drivers now. Currently, the girls have swimming lessons that take up three nights of our week. While this crazy schedule won’t last beyond October, K-Hubs and I need a quick-but-filling dinner to tide us over while we’re out, and this soup does the trick. It is honestly one of my favorite ways to get my vegetables.
We’ve also enjoyed these No-Bake Paleo Chocolate Chip Coconut Bars. You know what I should do the next time I make a dessert for the blog? I should give it a really long title.
Title length aside, these bars travel well, the girls LOVE them, and they take just a few minutes to prepare. Like, it’s harder to say the recipe name than to actually prepare it. And you can never go wrong with chocolate. Our early Friendsgiving to the pumpkin patch got rained out, which meant we traveled a few miles east to one friend’s house and proceeded to devour our bars there. Honestly, this is a common go-to dessert in our house.
WHERE WE WENT
ST. LOUIS, MO
K-Hubs, the girls, and I went on three vacations over the summer. Our first trip was out of state to St. Louis, and I must say, it was a blast. If you visit, then definitely plan to see the Gateway Arch. Mom and I visited St. Louis when I was a child, and in retrospect I enjoyed the Arch even more as an adult. K-Hubs, ever the Cardinals fan (as evidence by the red cap that never left his head the entire time we were there), trekked over to Busch Stadium while the girls and I melted into the sidewalk. Because if you are going to visit St. Louis in the summer, please make sure to arrive on the hottest weekend of the summer. #nailedit
Then we traipsed over to the St. Louis Zoo. Sadly, it was so hot I barely took photos of animals, and we didn’t stay for the free concert series the zoo was hosting. I may have had an internal meltdown brought on by excessive heat and a desire to listen to good music.
Instead, though, we meandered over to the City Museum. And can I just say…MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO DO THIS.
No, really. Please do this. Everyone ages 0-125 should go. Just pay the parking fee and the admission fee and say good-bye to boring. We visited on a Friday night, and I LOVED EVERY FREAKING MINUTE OF IT. This was absolutely the antidote to my sadness over the missed concert. Friends, I cannot even tell you how awesome that museum is.
But, Morgan, did you get any pictures? Because pics or it didn’t happen.
Well, I think this picture about sums it up.
And maybe this one, too. #nofilter
IOWA CITY, IA
But St. Louis wasn’t our only vacation. For our second vacation we headed to Iowa City and all that RAGBRAI had to offer. The route this year passed through each of our respective college towns, and while we are a house divided (GO CYCLONES!), I did enjoy Iowa City.
Did we even see any cyclists? If you count running into family on bikes, then yes. Our attempts to not get in the cyclists’ way resulted in us overshooting our mark and missing them entirely. Our activities were more of the play on campus and listen to concerts variety. Also shopping at Tanger Outlet in Williamsburg. I seriously walked out of there for less than $100 in back-to-school shopping. That was my feat of biblical proportions.
The University of Iowa also happens to be home to the Museum of Natural History. I highly suggest a visit if you can swing it!
STAYCATION ~ DES MOINES, IA
Our last vacation was a staycation. Normally, I am not a staycation kind of person. I want to go somewhere. But it turned out to be a total blast.
First, we pretended our house was a hotel, complete with Christmas lights on the bannister. Then we “travelled” into Des Moines, and I’m here to tell you it ain’t your gramma’s capital city anymore. This place is GROWING. We officially have a riverwalk, not quite on par with San Antonio, but a riverwalk nonetheless. And all the landscaping, like the absolutely serene Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens. And all the condos, restaurants, and concerts. Even a little foodie hub spot on the Principal Riverwalk! I’m telling you, during my childhood, I was convinced that everything in Des Moines closed down by 5:00 p.m. unless one was over 21. I couldn’t wait to graduate and move far away.
Well, I did graduate, but I didn’t move far. And I’m not sad about that. Des Moines is a hip and happenin’ place now. Don’t believe me? Well then, hold onto your cuppa whatever for this…we actually have to pay for street parking downtown now. Did you catch that????? We legit have to put coins in a meter after 6:00 p.m.
Des Moines also has its own sculpture park now, courtesy of John and Mary Pappajohn. It’s our very own beautiful green space in the middle of downtown, and as a family, we ate it all up. We also checked out beloved areas where condos are sprouting. K-Hubs and I briefly considered condo living downtown when we first got engaged. The prices then were a little too steep for a little too little space. So we moved west, bought a house that we thought we’d live in for a handful of years. 16+ years later, we’re still in our suburban house, gallivanting into the big city when we need a dose of fast-paced living.
I also get lost now in the very town I grew up in. New buildings, new streets, new restaurants to try out. My friends just expect me to be late. “Isn’t Morgan the one out of all of us who actually grew up here, though?” Yes. So what’s your point? I’m directionally challenged, and Siri took me to a residence once, rather than a restaurant. I did, however, have the good fortune to realize her mistake before I started knocking on random doors asking for a menu.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Twinkle and I are spending our days together. And I am absolutely soaking up these moments with her. I literally cannot believe that next year at this time, I’ll be working full-time on this blog and the girls will be in school together. An era of stay-at-home motherhood will have come to a close. I seriously cannot even handle this. So we’re working on all the super-fun science experiments, loose parts activities, and sensory play we can muster in a day.
We’re also reading all the books, specifically The Notebook of Doom series by Troy Cummings. K-Hubs and I have read each of those books to both girls at least 654828460390194 times, and it doesn’t bother us at all. Cummings thinks as much about the parents as he does the children. K-Hubs and I literally LOL as we read. And when the last book came out, the four of us legit climbed into bed together and read the whole thing in one sitting. Because we love the series and we have no chill.
I am also devouring everything from the Murder, She Wrote book series (yes, it’s a thing) to The Next Millionaire Next Door by the late great Thomas Stanley and his daughter Sarah Stanley Fallaw. Absolutely eating it up, page by page.
I first discovered Dr. Stanley by accident in 2004-2005 when I happened to be working in finance and a friend suggested I read The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. I picked up Stanely’s flagship publication, The Millionaire Next Door, by mistake. Best. Mishap. Ever. Since then, I have read just about everything Stanley has ever written. He transformed my life at an early age.
And on that dramatic note, happy fall, ya’ll! If you need me, I’ll just be driving in circles, lost in my hometown, fussing over enough quarters to pay the parking meter, and living my best life. 🍁😂🍁 😂🍁
Okay, but seriously, where are you at in your life? Where did you travel over the summer? What are you dining on now? What books are on your nightstand? Tell me in the comments below. I wanna know! 🤓