Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wait. Let me put my arms down.

Dear 27,
Family in town always makes a weekend more fun.
Drake football (big win, much to my guests' dismay), wowing the Palmers with the Farmer's Market and many toasts to my city. Thanks for making the trip fam.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Most of what was said was simply unfit for print.

Dear 27,
I'm not sure I'm a scotch fan. I love butterscotch sundaes from Dairy Queen. I have played hopscotch (a truly pointless game). But this week I sample the real stuff. Scotch that cost more than most of the shoes I own. And wore plaid.
Thanks to Tim, about 10 of us gathered for a what seemed to be a semi-formal scotch tasting. There was a circle of people in jackets, some tweed, there were glass tumblers, there were Anchorman references and a map of Scotland. It was certainly the best, and only, scotch tasting I've even been to.
Here's the details on the spirits:
 *   Auchenstoshan "three wood" - $57.49. From the Lowlands region. 
 *   Craggenmore 12-year "distiller's edition" - $80. From Speyside.
Highland Park 18 year - $95. Highlands region. 
There was lots of talk of the "finish," the "nose" of the scotch, what water does to open up the flavor and whether or not the scotch was chewy. I definitely learned a lot. And made a few new friends-- in part due to my homemade breadsticks.
My favorite scotch of the night was the Auchentoshan. It had more of a bourbon flavor (with something like toffee notes, a caramel color and a long finish...or however the official tasters would describe it.)

Great Scotch-- it was a fun night.
Looking forward to the second ISLAY club night. This time I'll drink more water.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wildcat Den!

Dear 27,
Four days in Tampa with the family made for one terrific vacation. The Bilmar Beach Resort gave us beautiful sunsets, unbeatable happy hour specials and the perfect place for an O'Connor family reunion. Congrats to Carrie and Drew! The weekend was memorable in the best way.
We lounged by the pool, laughed a whole bunch and even managed to witness (or if you're Jenny or Denny participated in) some karaoke. Wildcat Den, Mim and the Bomber Sisters were a hit-- miss you all already.
 Home from Tampa and onto Minneapolis. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Florida sun will be a change of pace.

Dear 27,
Last week I was in San I'm Tampa bound.
A little airport time and soon will meet up with the whole fam at TPA.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The first step to overcoming the addiction.

Dear 27,
During the three months without a functioning television last year I read all the time. There was not much else to do, but I also found myself enjoying the distraction-free living. And then, Netflix happened. Netflix on demand has changed my life. I can watch TV and movies at all hours of the day, whenever I want, from my bed, my kitchen, or a booth at Smokey Row.

I find myself watching some of the worst movies and shows I've ever seen: sucked in by their on-demand-ness. And now, I'm looking at my list and, as many have pointed out, I'm only three books into that 27 goal with a short six months left.

What books can you suggest that are quick and interesting reads?

I'm Laura. And I'm a Netflix on demand addict.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hey good lookin'.

Dear 27,
After a long day of catching up at the office, I ran home to grab tongs, a paring knife, a chef's knife, a dish towel, a dish cloth, a vegetable peeler and $12 before heading over to Hoover High School.
Karen, Laura, Emily and I hovered over stoves in the home-ec room with about 8 other ladies (most of whom were old enough to be our mothers) channeling our inner Paula Deen. Class began with a fried chicken tutorial that used, without exaggeration, 48 ounces of Crisco and ended with a Southern Cooking buffet made by the four of us and our fall-themed sweater wearing classmates. 
A full plate of fried chicken, smothered pork chops, collard greens (that were cooked in a pot with a ham hock), macaroni and cheese, grits, fried cabbage and creamed corn and peach cobbler. Really I think I ate my weight in southern style goodness.
So the corn burned a bit to the bottom of the pan and was really salty...people still ate and enjoyed it. I made sure to use extra butter on everything, bring an apron and say y'all at least once. Thanks Laura, Karen and Emily for joining me on this high caloric evening.
I'm still full. And smell like fried Crisco.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just google "Des Moines Adventures"

Dear 27,
After not running a 5k on Sunday, I was not tired. I was a little sun burned (damn you fair freckled cheeks), but that didn't stop me from visiting a few new places in DSM.
After much deliberation, many menu items at the Rock Bottom Brewery and even a call to a place in Indianola that offers hot air balloon rides on Sundays, we settled on venturing to the northeast side.
The Brass Armadillo is a magical place.
Filled to the brim with "antiques" (Gothika on DVD is not, nor ever will it be an antique, hence the quotation marks. Some things didn't really qualify), the B.A. is the size of a small village and could furnish each one of the apartments at 3000 Grand, maybe. Vendors empty the contents of their basements, like literally everything they have that may or may not be of value to someone else, into booths that hold everything from baby mannequin heads to old-school-sleds. Anthony, Craig and I browsed up and down the aisles finding all kinds of treasures. I came home with this little postcard (and a bunch of sneezing).
The next few weeks are full of travel and adventures. Including tonight. Where I'll get cookin.

No packet pick up on race day.

Dear 27,
After a long trek back from CA, I was gearing up for the secret 5k Jenni and I have been "training" for. Yes. Training. I was, as some of you know, a runner at one point in life, but years have passed since Washburn and we decided in the spirit of my list of 27 things we'd add a bonus 5k!
Here's what we learned Sunday at the Des Moines Marathon (which included the 3 mile race as well):
1. It's cold in Iowa on October mornings.
2. The marathon makes your feet hurt.
3. 9 year old boys and 62 year old women run faster than you.
4. More cowbell is a good idea.
5. You and Jenni will always dress alike even at 7am.
6. Johnny's, no matter how hard you try, will not open until 11 on Sundays.
7. Hand holding, fist pumping and pointing to the sky will get the crowd revved up as you cross the finish line.

8. You're not allowed to run without a bib number. And oh yes, bib numbers have to be picked up before the race day. Like on Friday. Or even Saturday. But not Sunday morning.

We were surprisingly bummed, but not sad enough to run the race "just for fun" and not for time. We had a great day of cheering on the many runners (congrats to my friends who ran the races-- 13 miles is a big time accomplishment!)

Looks like we'll have to give this 5k another go...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It was all a dream.

Dear 27,
It was one hell of a party that exceeded even my highest expectations. 299 people. Bad Dreamin' at the Des Moines Art Center. I guided tours through an incredible exhibit that I had one point five hours to learn about...and don't think I was that bad at it.
 Thanks JUICE. You're awesome. All of you. As people. And as party promoters. And as attendees.
You're awesome. Just absolutely awesome. (how was that? too much? or accurate? Edited. By an editor.)
I was so lucky to have so many of my friends shell out the cash, get all dolled up and come to the ball.
Thanks a bunch friends-- You're more awesome than Juice.
There might be too many uses of the word "awesome" in this post, but really, that's the only adjective I can come up with right now. Big time awesome, indeed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"So you just rode a roller coaster (by yourself?) in the middle of the work day in California."*

Dear 27,
I've seen a whole bunch of cool people and places since arriving in San Diego.
I met for coffee in the art deco San Diego county building where I saw 4 couples getting married, a woman dressed like a monk, 3 people I assumed were paying parking tickets and lots of tile.
Phil and Skyla introduced me to Craft & Commerce where I tried the Hell's Kitchen and noshed on Devils on Horseback. I didn't mean to pick things associated with satan. It just happened that way. (Thank you P and S for finding such a classy spot for me to drink Rye and get to know you both!)
Met up with John and talked Phonathon over tacos at Ranchos.
Cruised Ocean Beach and found noon. The shop gal was delightful and I couldn't resist picking up a pair of handmade earrings. The girls of noon have specialty paper goods and lots of jewelry to choose from.
I browsed COW and thumbed through records and posters.
But the highlight of the trip was Belmont Park.
I paid my $6 for a roller coaster ride. The Giant Dipper in all its rickety splendor. One minute and forty five seconds of whirling around turns. I could see the ocean the entire time I wasn't closing my eyes. It was thrilling. And I almost rode it again. Because it was that much fun.

* Blog title quote thanks to the venerable Tim Paluch.

The Pearl is a gem.

Dear 27,
San Diego has been cloudy and damp, but the Pearl is nothing but cool. The staff is young, hip and friendly, the digs are nautical and there's a beta fish in my room named Felix. The Pearl lobby walls are draped in stone (with the occasional glittery rock. nice.), near the check in desk there's a "lounge area" stocked with board games, shag carpet and a mirrored ceiling. The pool is salt water (a little fun fact) and there's a vertical garden. I've been fawning over the idea of a vertical garden. And here. At the Pearl they have a bitty wall filled with cascading succulents.
When I arrived on Wednesday night I planned to write a few thank you notes and reports in the restaurant and have a cocktail, three hours later I was still in my chair enjoying the Fantastic Mr. Fox poolside with a local brew and a most delicious dinner. (There should be emphasis on the "most delicious" part. Squash blossoms with chevre. A tuna steak with wasabi potatoes, bacon, brussel sprouts and mushrooms. Plus chocolate cake. And bourbon with honey and lemon. Most Delicious. Photos to prove it.)
The Pearl hosts "dive-in" movies on Wednesday nights with an outdoor screen and a trendy crowd filing in and out throughout the evening. My waiter, Vaughn, was born in Ames. (Of course he would be.) In fact, by check out I'd guess these Pearl people will feel like friends.
I'd absolutely stay here in Point Loma at the Pearl again-- you should check it out.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This much.

Dear 27,
I think I have a crush on Palm Springs. The airport is clean. The signage is bright. The people are well dressed. Compliments are freely granted. I had a man at the Starbucks this morning call me a "dear," while the barista referred to me as Laura so often while I waited for my coffee I felt like I was a regular. The list of reasons to draw hearts around PS on my trip itinerary continually grow.
I spotted this gem that feels like it leapt from  DesignSponge and onto to Palm Canyon Drive.
I had a burger at Tyler's (A cash-only burger joint. Cash-only places typically annoy me. And I'm not a big burger orderer, but I went for it. And wasn't disappointed or annoyed.) We dined outside with mist-ers and the locals and the pigeons on the 95 degree day.
The trip was off to a stressful start last night (a very stressful one), but I think my luck is turning around. Newport Coast tonight for a delightfullly entertaining meal. CA for the rest of the week...
(window to window)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Muskies are 'bout it 'bout it.

Dear 27,
Thank you John Krieger. Your infinite awesomeness at age 17 forever burned the phrase "muskies are 'bout it 'bout it" both into my brain and into MHS history. You were like an early Jersey Shore with your hot dance moves ("come on ride the train" was genius) and your cult following. All the girls loved you. All the guys pretended they didn't want to be you. You're a legend of sorts or someone who had enough pull in high school to get the entire student council to agree that "'bout it 'bout it" was a terrific way to promote Muskie pride at homecoming. I still don't know what that means.
While you had football and girlfriends, I had a locker next to Shawn Reed and a slew of boys who were friends (all of whom had a thing for Becca or my sister Jen or for riding in Jake Fox's truck wearing Goodwill t-shirts.) They all loved punk rock music.
Oh how I loved the punk rock and the ska and the skanking. (That was the term for Stover dancing. Not sure it's technical. But I recall it being used in reference to a skipping move that was like gentle moshing. Not like skanky skanking.)

An ode to the high school.

ps. The tour-de-travel continues tomorrow. And the Bad Dreams Ball post. And (fingers crossed) a live show for October.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The best way to tank you.

Dear 27,
I haven't been drawing nearly enough, but thanks to the ladies of Ephemera my cards are always in print and for sale, working ever-so-slowly towards selling the big 100. As I start the (way too early) process of deciding what this year's LP holiday postcard design will be, I've been working on drawing the perfect thank you note to have Arin and Karen print and add to my collection of xo-lp cards down in the East Village.
Be creative my 14 readers. What other suggestions do you have?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The play-by-play.

Dear 27,
Much of these past 3 months I've felt like every hour of my day is planned out from start to finish with meetings and work and calls and then more meetings and more work and dinners and music and drawing and blogging and netflix.
My 27th year has been, thus far, a blur of adventures (and work of course, I may have mentioned I do that too).
I've seen new corners of Des Moines, eaten way too much and too often, nearly doubled membership, seen a picture of my brain, mended fences, fake waitressed, taken road trips on a school night, open mic-ed, and been in Juice twice, among hundreds of other things.
Today, however, was pretty normal.


Monday, October 4, 2010

The birds and the Bs.

Dear 27,
Big weekend. Big Big one. An announcement from our hometown University that makes me even busier. Then my first time as a Lusher (that's lady+usher).Congrats to my dear friends Annie and B. And hello to my long time college friends-- I missed you all.


ps- Lots to report on this week. Hoping to make some progress on this list and working on a big challenge for November.