June 29, 2016

Fitz and the Tantrums Concert

On Sunday night, Brian and I went to our first concert at Frederik Meijer Gardens. Our friends Beth and Nick have passes to the gardens and when they asked if we wanted to see Fitz and the Tantrums with them we said yes!  I had never heard of the band but I listened to a few of their albums before the concert and thought they would be fun to hear live, especially at a venue as cool as the Meijer Garden Amphitheatre where people sit outside in lawn chairs and eat and drink to their hearts' content.


The line to get into the concert was pretty long when we arrived at 5:30 even though the concert didn't start until seven, but we were still able to find a great spot to claim.  We brought wraps and subs and I brought some sweet snacks to share and Beth brought some salty and it was all delicious. The weather was almost perfect for an outdoor summer concert, maybe a little too warm at times but I was just happy it didn't rain! 


The concert was really good, even better than I expected. The vibe of the venue was very chill and both the opening act and Fitz and the Tantrums sounded great. We all had a blast and I will definitely try to make it to another concert next year, even if we have to ask my in-laws to get us tickets!


June 25, 2016

Happiness Diary #23

Every day I share:

1) A random photo of the day
2) Something I ate that was delicious
3) A meaningful event that happened or a task I was happy to accomplish
4) Something I was grateful for or that made me happy. 

Saturday (6/18/16)

1) Photo: Action shot of Shea at his birthday party!
2) I loved the turkey burger I had for dinner but there were a lot of good snacks and food around all day. 
3)  Today was all about prepping for Shea's party with his friends, having Shea's friend party and then going to Caledonia to have the family party. The pool party went really well and I had fun helping out but it was a full day and we were all pretty tired out by the end of the night!
4) I am grateful we had the perfect weather for a pool party though it was probably too warm for people who didn't go in the pool seeing as we only have one umbrella...


1) Photo: Breakfast du jour. 
2) Brian and I went shopping today and bought marinated chicken to grill but by the end of the day we felt like it was too late to grill/we were lazy so we got pizza instead and the breadsticks were SO GOOD though not very filling.
3) Today was a pretty good Sunday.  I did an awesome twenty minute meditation this morning and then went hiking with Brian and Zuzu. Afterwards I worked out and swam in the pool for the first time this summer-FINALLY! Gretchen, Jamie and the kids came over again to swim and though maintaining a pool can be a pain, it is pretty great because we see our families so much more!
4) It's Father's Day and I am grateful for all the fathers in the world, especially my own!



1) Photo: This was taken Saturday after the party. So much for never using the bar area! 
2) We made dinner tonight!! Brian grilled the marinated chicken and I roasted asparagus and fingerling potatoes. I could eat this every single night this summer.  
3) Brian and I played tennis after work (but I forgot to take a picture so I had to use a "stock" photo) and it was fun and I got a good sweat. 
4) I am happy Brian likes playing tennis with me even though I mostly suck. 


1) Photo: I was about to go to bed and realized I didn't take a photo again today and I am currently on the floor with Zusu so here we are. 
2) I had my pizza spaghetti squash pie for lunch (I made it for the first time yesterday) and it was really good. Next time I make it I am going to use turkey to be healthier but I didn't hate the Italian sausage. 
3) It was a typical summer day of working out, swimming and eating a random dinner standing up in the kitchen. I wanted to go to bed at 7 but toughed it out until 830!I
4) I am grateful I was in the backyard when Zuzu got loose from her tie out cable this afternoon because the first thing she did was run to the backyard to see if her doggy neighbors were outside and I was able to grab her.  Whew!



1) Photo: Zuzu in the shade. 
2) NA but I ate dinner super early so I can go running tomorrow morning!
3) Nothing amazing to report today except I have been loving listening to Trevor Hall's Chapter of the Forest album while doing my yoga video. It's so much nicer to focus on the music in tough poses rather than hear the instructor drone on and on. 
4) I am grateful for having things to be grateful for. Ok that's a cop out I just can't think of anything at the moment besides the usual.  I'm grateful for pens!   (ugh, this is harder than it looks sometimes.)



1) Video: My first Snapchat story!
2) Australian licorice is hands down the best licorice ever. Today I had strawberry, mango and green apple. 
3) Today was a lovely day off. I didn't get much done around the house but I did work out, wash some clothes, take Zuzu for a walk, go to the library, go grocery shopping, take Z to the DP and the pet store, prep my spaghetti squash for this recipe and boil some eggs for breakfasts. I should have folded all the clothes, organized something and painted but oh well. Life goes on.
4) I am grateful for not being a worry wart when Brian is gone for the night though I do make sure to lock all the doors!




1) Photo: My Fitbit work week challenge. I've been next to last all week long so finishing in the middle of the pack is alright by me!
2) I made the noodle bowl (from yesterday's post) which did not turn out like the pictures but it was still pretty tasty.
3) Picking a zillion tiny burrs out of Zuzu's fur on the shower floor while she is crying and crying was not how I pictured spending my evening but at least she is burr free and clean now. If it happens again I will definitely be the one who is crying and crying.
4) I am grateful for being a first shift worker today though I really felt for those second shifters!

June 18, 2016

Happiness Diary #22

Every day I share:

1) A random photo of the day
2) Something I ate that was delicious
3) A meaningful event that happened or a task I was happy to accomplish
4) Something I was grateful for or that made me happy

Saturday (6/11/16)

1) Photo by LS
2) Out of all the pool snacks I probably enjoyed the baked Cheetos the most. 
3) Today I picked up LS and went to the library to pick up a few books (we got distracted by the puzzle and coloring pages on the way out) and then headed to my house to swim in the pool. I was going to go shopping after dropping her off but she told me she loves shopping so I brought her to Costco and she had fun and was a huge help!
4) I am happy I didn't have to shop solo today. :)


1) Photo: Me, Gretchen and Brian at the GR triathlon. 
2) Chicken tacos!
3) This morning Brian and I woke up early to take Gretchen to the triathlon. It was fun to see all of the athletes at the transitions and the finish line and Gretchen did awesome.  Afterward I went for a run/walk and took Zuzu to the dog park before leaving for Hudsonville for Brian's cousin's baby shower. It was perfect weather for everything! 
4) I don't always get excited about busy weekends but I appreciate them because if I never had anything to do, my life would be boring and empty. Or maybe it would be amazing.  No, it would be depressing because I would be lazy and eat too much.  Or maybe I would food prep and my house would be painted and I would write a blog post every day.  Eh, probably not.  Here's to busy weekends!


1) Photo: We have some flowers around our pool thanks to my in-laws! Loving it. Note to self, I need to glue that broken fence piece back on.
2) I made some garlic spinach and added it to some canned soup. Yum-ish.  
3) I had my first day back at the main lab after eleven days away. I was definitely NOT looking forward to it but I was glad it was a pretty mellow day. 
4) I am grateful for having a job. Repeat as many times as necessary. 



1) Photo: I finally finished covering the counters in the basement. They aren't going to be very durable but this area never gets used it's really just for looks anyway. Now it's time to paint the walls!
2) It's becoming a habit for me to eat fireballs while working on home projects. Along with listening to good music or an audiobook they make for a very enjoyable experience.  
3) I took Zuzu on a nice 30 minute walk and then she stayed out of trouble while I worked out. Unlike yesterday. 
4) I am grateful for all the help we get from Brian's parents! Today Brian's dad came over to help finish the stones by the pool. So appreciated!



1) Photo by LS
2) Someone at work made a rhubarb cake and it was SO good. 
3) I picked up LS right after work today to go to Chuck E Cheese (obviously) and had delicious pizza and watched her win lots of tickets. I even had enough energy afterward to do an hour and a half of painting. :)
4) I am happy my LS becoming less reserved and more talkative and always seems to have fun when we are together. 


1) Photo: Laney at her dance recital. 
2) NA
3) It feels like Laney's last recital was just a few months ago! This is her fourth year of dance and my third year going to her recitals (I missed her very first one, I think I was working).  It's fun to see her improve every year and she killed the hip hop dance tonight!
4) I am grateful for making it to our (middle of the row) seats before the recital started even though we were ten minutes late (we went to the wrong school).


1) Photo: Zuzu's new best friend at the dog park.
2) It was a coworker's last day of work (the one who recently won $1,000,000 dollars) and we had delicious raspberry cake to say good bye.  :)
3) I did yoga today after a barre workout yesterday and it was just what I needed. If all I did was running, barre and yoga I think my body would love me.
4) I'm grateful my sister is out of the hospital and am hoping she takes better care of herself from now on.  Though it's doubtful. *eye-roll*


June 11, 2016

Happiness Diary #21


Every day I share:

1) A random photo of the day
2) Something I ate that was delicious
3) A meaningful event that happened or a task I was happy to accomplish
4) Something I was grateful for or that made me happy. 

Saturday (6/4/16)

1) Photo: Everything I made today including the mess. 
2) All of the above were pretty delish if I do say so myself. 
3) When I got home from work I didn't feel like working out and Brian was gone to tennis so I decided to make a few meals. I made asparagus frittata, an asparagus quinoa thing and a healthyish version of General Tso's chicken which is Brian's favorite Chinese dish. I finally finished cleaning the kitchen around 6:00 and then just hung around being slightly bored and unmotivated for the rest of the night. 
4) I am grateful to be able to go to the grocery store and buy whatever I like without worrying about having enough money or being stabbed or shot or kidnapped. (I actually remind myself of this often because I loathe solo grocery shopping so much.)


1) Photo: I had a craving for fro yo today so Brian and I went to Spoonlickers in Ada. 
2) I loved the pomegranate flavor and regretted getting so much chocolate peanut butter yogurt. I still had no problem finishing the entire thing on the drive home.
3) I did nothing today. And I survived.
4) Even though this coming week is definitely not a vacation, I am very grateful I don't have to go to work.


1) Photo: Beth and me at MSU!
2) The steak Chipotle bowl I ate at lunch hit the spot and I'm excited to eat fun things for lunch this entire week.
3) This was my first day of the week long lab in Lansing which will complete my molecular certification (kind of)!  I'm happy to be away from work but looking forward to being done with class. 
4) I am so thankful to have Beth with me this week because she knows her way around campus and I don't have to worry about driving every day and getting lost and having an annoying lab partner and not knowing where to go for lunch. This whole class would not have happened for me without her.


1) Photo: It was freezing today so after lunch Beth and I stopped at 7 Eleven and I got some hot chocolate and gummies. 
2) Jimmy Johns #5
3) My goal today was to get my life in order and when I came home the kitchen was magically clean so I figured that was good enough and continued to be lazy.
4) Even though it's chilly today I much prefer walking around in this temperature as opposed to humid and 90+ degrees!


1) Photo: Beth and I bought cupcakes for dessert from this fancy candy shop. 
2) The turkey Asiago bagel sandwich I had for lunch was pretty good. 
3) It's hump day and we are more than halfway done with the class! We are working hard and having fun. ;)
4) I get free bagels tomorrow!



1) Photo: Fake pipetting for the photo
2) We had a repeat Chipolte visit for lunch but this time I had the chicken. It was much better than the steak. 
3) I had a fail workout sesh but at least I finished my homework!
4) The end of the week is in sight and I'm grateful to go back to my normal schedule soon.


1) Photo: Class photo!
2) We had a pizza party for the last day of class which was tasty but my Peruvian corn salad for dinner was the most bestest thing I eated. (sorry)
3) One of the most important things I've learned this week is that I think I prefer Gushers over any other candy. And also DNA is somewhat important for molecular testing. 
4) I'm grateful this week wasn't super stressful and was actually kind of fun. I most enjoyed walking around campus and having lunch with Beth. I'm also very happy Brian passed his last exam for his CPCU designation! Hawaii here we might be coming!


June 4, 2016

Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park

Two days ago I was browsing through local events and activities and I came across the new Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park. I am slightly afraid of heights but I've always wanted to try an obstacle/ropes course and while I haven't heard of this park until now I decided to go out on a limb (har har) and reserve a spot for Brian and myself for Friday (yesterday) night.

We didn't necessarily need reservations as there weren't many climbers when we arrived but because I had paid and signed the waivers online we were able to get on the course in no time. :)

Equipment hut

After a quick stop at the porta potty (for me of course), we walked down to the equipment hut and were shown how to put on our gear.  I'm glad I wore a tee shirt because the harness straps were pretty tight and would have been uncomfortable on my bare (slightly sunburned) shoulders.  I had no hesitations wearing the gloves they offered because they helped me get a better grip and prevented the many blisters I would have gotten since the majority of the time I was hanging onto the ropes for dear life.

Learning the ropes

After we were equipped with our gear we had a quick lesson on how to use the clip-its and zip line attachments and then completed a short practice course to make sure we knew what we were doing.  After that we were on our own!

The park had six courses in total and Brian and I did five of them (we have yet to do the most difficult). We also went down the big zip line twice. The obstacles on the first course were super nerve-wracking for me and I had to pretend I wasn't high in the trees in order to keep moving forward and not freeze up.  My nerves definitely made climbing more exciting though I was happy the height didn't bother Brian much because I would have been a lot more scared if he was freaking out too.

The most awkward and difficult obstacle for me, I will be doing this one differently next time!

Brian killing it on the course (the one on the right was tough!)

I'm so glad Brian and I challenged ourselves to try out the adventure park, it was so much fun. Because there weren't many other people at the park we were able to go at our own pace and not feel rushed which made it even more enjoyable. The courses were all challenging and each one ended with a zip line or a cable jump. Even though we were climbing on our own there were always workers who watched to make sure everyone was doing ok and helped with all the dismounts.

 A few clips from the course

Near the end of the night one of the workers mentioned they might be expanding the park in the future.  I think that would be a great idea because even though the park is cool the way it is now, they have plenty of space to grow and when they inevitably become more popular it would be wise to have more courses so it doesn't become overly crowded.  In the meantime Brian and I need to go back (hopefully before the crowds!) and tackle that last course. Who's with us??

Exhausted but exhilarated after three hours of climbing


Happiness Diary #20

Every day I share:

1) A random photo of the day
2) Something I ate that was delicious
3) A meaningful event that happened or a task I was happy to accomplish
4) Something I was grateful for or that made me happy. 

Saturday (5/28/16)


1) Photo: Brian's cousin's daughter got married today in this beautiful orchard. (The picture makes it look much cloudier than it was.)
2) The caramel apple pie at the wedding was really good and a fun change from wedding cake.
3) This morning Brian went to play golf with Mike while Sara and I went on a hike/walk which was mostly nice (the hike part was a little rustic for my liking).  Brian and I left around 11:30 for the wedding which was beautiful and it was great hanging out with Brian's family and talking to relatives we haven't seen in a while. It was also good to go back home and pick up Zuzu from her first night away from us. Gary even gave her a bath and she came home so tired and clean.  :)
4) When Brian and I forgot to lock our doors on the deck and when we got home we found the slider and screen door open a foot! I am very grateful nothing was taken and no bugs/animals got in our house. We are thinking the little boy who lives next door probably opened it because the gate was askew and he likes to stop by every once in a while. Whoops.


1) Photo: Another family day at the DP! No good dogs here tonight though. :(
2) NA
3) I went for a sweaty run today and then did some weeding. It's always nice to have one weekend day at home with no real plans.
4) I am grateful for working out even when I don't feel like it! (Which is like 95% of the time recently. What is my deal?)


1) Photo: Brian and I took off the pool cover and underneath was stinky green water. Ew.
2) NA
3) I had a lovely holiday work day and came home and had a lovely lazy evening. 
4) Zuzu still has a hangover from being away Friday night and though she has been sick a few times today I'm very thankful no diarrhea!  


1) Photo: I haven't made dinner in a loong time so I decided to make this garlic shrimp and spinach dish I found online and served it with some real pasta (I'm so over vegetable pasta, give me the real stuff!) 
2) See above
3) The pool people came to open our pool and Brian's dad came over and helped clean off the pool cover while I scrubbed and wiped down the plastic pool chairs. It was a productive day!
4) One more day of work and I'm done with that place for eleven days!



1) Photo: Zuzu with the granola chew she likes to eat like corn on the cob. Sometimes she is so cute I just want to kiss her furry little face off. Also there is way too much beige going on in this photo. Also we need new carpet stat.
2) Brian got me a Qdoba burrito yesterday and I had peices of it with every meal (including breakfast). Sounds unappealing but it was pretty fantastic.
3) Brian and I had a nice walk and talk today. Sometimes it's hard to feel connected when life gets so busy so we are trying to come up with ways to spend more QT together. A few things we are going to try: no yard work after 6pm, limited phone time after work and implementing date nights again (They are always fun but for some reason we can never stick to a schedule.  We are going to really try this time maybe!)
4) I am grateful for rarely experiencing allergies. Poor Brian.



1) Photo: Photo by LS
2) Gushers!!!!!! There was a sale online and I might have bought six boxes. 
3) I walked Zuzu and dropped and cracked my phone when she tugged on the leash. Most of the cracks are near the bottom of the screen so I suppose it could be worse! A better part of my day was my weekly get together with LS. Today we headed to a new park to play on the playground and also play some tennis. It was pretty fun and next time we play tennis we will have to bring Brian along!
4) I am grateful my phone is still working and I hopefully learned my lesson to keep my whole phone case on and be more careful around Zuzu. :P


1) Photo: Our pool now! It's still very cloudy but Brian has been doing a lot of research and has been adding more and more tools to his "pool kit".  His most recent discovery is Pool Floc which is supposed to clump up the tiny particles in the pool so you are able to vacuum them out. We shall see.
2) NA
3) Brian and I went to Grand Rapids Treetop Adventure Park today! More on this later.
4) I am grateful for new experiences and trying new things.


Zuzu photo image_zpsfbjwv1od.gif
Look! I figured out how to make a gif!

June 1, 2016

Artificial Vertical Garden

A few months after Brian and I brought Zuzu home, I decided to remove the three rhododendron bushes outside the front door so Zuzu could go to the bathroom unimpeded. 

Here they were in their full glory.

I actually didn't mind them but Brian thought they were overgrown and wanted them much smaller.  He had his dad hack them to stumps about a foot high but Zuzu kept getting tangled in them so they had to go. It took about an hour to dig up each of the roots (I removed them over three days) and then Brian and I bought some stones from Home Depot and filled in the area.

While it's great for Zuzu to have a designated bathroom spot, the area was definitely lacking something green.  I had the idea to put in a vertical garden ever since I saw the amazing gardens outside the Grand Rapids Downtown Market.  While I would have loved to have a professional install a real live vertical garden on our garage I would not have loved spending that kind of money.  I considered buying vertical garden planters but the pictures in the reviews weren't very impressive and I didn't want to have to plant something new every year and wait for it to grow.  Instead, I found the next best thing: artificial foliage wall panels from Overstock.com.  I purchased two sets of panels, one set of the lime leaf and one set of the English ivy for a little variety. Each set would cover a 40" by 40" area which would give me a hanging about three by six-and-a-half feet.

They arrived a while ago but I've been taking my sweet time putting them together.  For a while I had four attached panels just hanging on a wall inside the house:

Putting the panels together was slightly more challenging than I expected although that's partially my fault for getting two different types of plants (or not reading directions).  The attachment areas on both sets didn't line up: 

Because I wanted to alternate the different panels I had to come up with a different way of attaching them.  I found some thin green wire in the workshop and cut pieces to attach the panels together. It was a tedious process getting around the leaves to tie the wire through and around the plastic backing:  

When I finished tying all of the wire I noticed arrows on one side of the panels. Maybe if I had all the panels in the correct orientation the attachment areas would have lined up perfectly but since the panels were already together I didn't even bother to check. I think the panels are actually more secure and have less thin areas because they are tied together with the wire (at least that's what I'm telling myself).


(I wore gloves because there is a waxy substance on the plants
that transfers to your hands when working with them.)

After getting all the panels wired together I measured the garage wall and marked where I wanted the holes to be drilled. I then enlisted the help of Brian to drill in the holes.
I bought this anchor kit which came with a masonry drill bit and we borrowed Brian's parents drill. 

I put tape on the drill bit so we didn't go deeper than necessary, gave Brian the safety glasses and let him drill away.  (Apparently the face of brick is better to drill into because it's less likely to crumble than the mortar FYI.)

Brian drilled two holes per panel making sure the first and last were right at the edges of the hanging.  No droopy corners allowed.  I'm so glad I had a man to drill the holes because each one took FOREVER and even with his strong tennis forearms it took multiple days (weeks actually since he kind of gave up on it for a while) to drill all of the holes.  After a few more attempts at drilling Brian went and purchased a new drill and two new drill bits (this took three separate trips to the store on the same day) and eventually we had enough holes to hang the plants. 

Here is the end result!


Not a drastic change and it's definitely not the vertical garden I've always dreamt of having, but if you think of it more as 3D wall art it's not so bad, right? It might have looked less artificial if the two plants I bought didn't look so similar.  Maybe I should add some lighter colored ivy or stick in some flowers?

A few good things about the hanging are that the plastic leaves haven't been falling off and the panels are protected from most direct sunlight and rain because of the roof overhang.  (They are meant for outdoor use so it probably wouldn't have been an issue anyway.) Also, Zuzu hasn't tried to chew on the leaves at all which I was worried about because I caught her chewing on them inside a couple of times.

All in all I'm not completely embarrassed about having this thing hang on my house so I'd say this project was a success!