Winter Road Trip | Exploring Northeastern Iowa

On Sunday, my Dad planned a little road trip for the two of us. First, we headed to Manchester, Iowa. This past summer the town completed a whitewater park in the river that runs through town. A good friend of my Dad’s played a huge role in bringing this awesome attraction to Northeastern Iowa. While I may not have a chance to get into the water there anytime soon, it was interesting to learn a little about how the course works.

From there we stopped at the Field of Dreams movie site, the grotto in North Buena Vista, Sny Magill Mound Site and Pikes Peak. We enjoyed lunch at 1-R’s St. Olaf Tap, where we spit what might have been the biggest and most delicious tenderloin I’ve ever had. Also, I pet a mini horse.

We maybe kinda sorta might be related.
Check out this picture and this picture from my last trip to Pikes Peak to see the difference between seasons. I much prefer the summer shots.

A great little adventure, and a perfect way to start off 2016. Another mark towards one of my 25 before 26 goals!


Cedar Rock | Frank Lloyd Wright

At the beginning of the month, my lovely friend Becca and I visited Cedar Rock. The home, built by Frank Lloyd Wright for Lowell and Agnes Walter, was completed in 1950. It’s basically heaven. Built in the Usonian style, the design is all about simplicity and connecting with nature. There are so many unique features, both inside and outside, from the almost entirely glass living room, to the boathouse by the river. While I would love to share every magical detail of this home, I hope my pictures speak for themselves. It is worth noting, that this home is incredibly special and one of a kind. Almost all of the contents, from the fabric of the chairs to the dishes the Walter Family ate off of were chosen by Wright. If you would like more information on the home, I encourage you to visit it in Quasqueton or check out the Friends of Cedar Rock website.

A special gigantic THANK YOU to our docent, Rick Knivsland, who also happens to sit next to me at work. He is an excellent guide, and only looked at us like we were slightly crazy when we asked to go on the tour twice. His knowledge of the design was beyond your average docent, and I would highly recommend visiting in the Spring when he can be your guide.

October Occasion

There is something special about the start of a new month. This month in particular feels like the start of a new season as well. I think most people associate September with the beginning of fall, but last month my tomatoes were still providing lunch on a daily basis, I was wearing shorts and flipflops, and drinking anything pumpkin flavor sounded revolting… Still kind of does. So October claims fall this year for me. I wanted to share a few things I’ve been enjoying lately, random pictures that I’ve yet to post, and some general updates.

Drinks on the patio at Cypress with Jessica.

First of all, I’ve been writing for Odyssey. Writing for an online magazine has been more challenging than I expected. With my blog, if I don’t feel inspired to share anything, I don’t have to. But, when you’ve committed to writing once a week, you have to write once a week. Thus far I’ve shared how I ended up in college at 25, the awkwardness of singledom, tattoos and interviews, gifs of teen dramas, and a short photo essay. Posts go up every Monday, and if you like them please share them via social media. Unfortunately shares determine the success of articles.

C&C Music Factory headlined at Cedar Valley Pride Fest this year. It was raining, but nothing can stop Pride attendees from dancing.

I have been fully addicted to television. It’s a great way to focus less on the quietness of my house, and it servers as an excellent distraction from the stress of college. In terms of teen dramas, I would highly recommend Pretty Little Liars and Switched at Birth. But, if you’re looking for something with a little more quality, I can’t say enough good things about NARCOS. It’s a Netflix original about the criminal exploits of Columbian drug lord, Pablo Escobar. There’s drama, drugs, murder, and lots of amazing scenes set by swimming pools in the mountains/jungles of Columbia. What more do you want?

A shot from our Super Blood Lunar Eclipse Watch Party. I took this shot through our spotting scope.

Onto beauty products, because what would any kind of synopsis of my current life be without a beauty product or two. Number one favorite product at the moment is the L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation. If you’re a beauty product junkie, YOU NEED THIS IN YOUR LIFE. It’s real matte, as in really matte. But doesn’t result in chalk face. It’s buildable, long lasting, yada yada yada. Yah need it. But buy it at Target or Walmart, it’s cheaper. You’re welcome.

Visiting my favorite Des Moines girlies.

Next product you need in your life, CoverGirl The Super Sizer mascara. Can someone please explain how they name mascaras? I mean I’m sure it’s a difficult job, but.. The Super Sizer? No. Names aside, this mascara is fabulous. It’s got one of those itty bitty tiny wands, so if big clumpy lashes are your thing, don’t buy this. But if you like 10,000 tiny fairy lashes, winner! Doesn’t flake, a zillion lashes, new favorite.

I can’t believe I had a tiny part in this flower showing up in my yard. Zinnias may be replacing the peony as my favorite flower.

October has been great thus far, and we are only seven days in! I’ve got almost every weekend filled with fun this month, so I’m going to push myself to blog about all of the adventures. I know in a few short months I will truly cherish being able to look back at all of the fun I had with my friends.

Chicago’s Calvary Cemetery

When my Mom and I visited Chicago in June our Airbnb was right next to this amazing cemetery. As cemetery.. enthusiasts, we of course had to stop and check it out. The Calvary Cemetery is located right next to Lake Michigan in Evanston, and is the oldest existing cemetery established by the Archdiocese of Chicago. It was established in 1859 on All Souls Day as the main burial site for Catholics from Chicago and the surrounding areas. In the nineteenth century, when there were less cemeteries and high death rates, it was not uncommon for Calvary to exceed 4,000 burials a year. The amazing thing about Calvary is all of the burial records are intact. It is the burial place of Mayors, Governors, public figures like White Sox and Blackhawks coaches, and thousands of Irish immigrants. Today there are over 16,750 laid to rest in Calvary, and it is nearly at capacity.

At the center of Calvary was a lagoon, which many of graves faced. But in recent (as far as being established in 1859) years the lagoon was filled in. I was not able to find an exact date, but these two statues dedicated to St. Peter and St. John the Baptist flank what would have been either end of the lagoon.

Artie and Willie were brothers who died at the ages of 4 and 2. Their grave would have over looked the lagoon when they died, just 10 days apart, in 1879.

As we drove around the cemetery we came to a crossroad, complete with tiny parking lot. In the center of this crossroad was an island like grave site. The whole island has stone ledges surrounding it, creating a diamond shape. Stone coffin shaped graves are the headstones of John A. Lynch and his family. The two angels flank the entrance into the island. This site really stood out to me. I wish I knew more about Mr. Lynch and his family.

When my Mom and I happened upon this beast of a mausoleum we were both totally taken aback. This thing is gigantic. I believe John F. Cuneo Jr. is still living. According to his fathers obituary, John F. Cunero Sr. was a self-made multimillionaire, so I guess it makes sense that his son has the largest most beautiful art deco inspired mausoleum.

After researching the graves I took pictures of, I found many other sites I wish I had seen. I guess in a cemetery of over 16,000 you literally can’t see them all in one morning.

Pontoon Party

The last weekend of August was the highly anticipated pontoon trip. Okay, being honest, any trip involving water or a boat, I highly anticipate. But, this was one particularly special because it was basically the last weekend of summer, the last hurrah, the calm before the storm, etc.

Anna booked this amazing pontoon, complete with grill, on Big Creek Lake. Sam, our captain and Anna’s boyfriend, motored us around the lake all day. Kudos to Sam for getting a crash course is pontoon driving and totally nailing it. From one end of the lake to the other, and in and out of coves, not to mention the boat was full of hooligans. Nailed. It.

The weather was practically perfect. While the sun didn’t make much of an appearance, it was still warm enough to swim. We dropped anchor in a few coves to jump off the boat and use life jackets as floaties. The best part was being able to just sit on the boat and not fry in the sun. We drank mimosas, grilled, and even flew a kite.

After our water adventure, we all set up camp at Jester Park. My Dad lent me an amazing tent, tall enough to stand up in. I am never again going back to a tent that you can’t host a dance party in. After we set up camp, we ventured out on short hike through the woods. The trail led to this beautiful overlook of Saylorville Lake. We spent the evening gathered around the fire, roasting brats, hot dogs, and marshmallows.

What a fantastic weekend, with a wonderful group of people. There was never a dull moment. I would highly recommend boat rental at Big Creek, and camping Jester Park.

So long sweet summer! I will miss you, but I am so excited for fall. #PTP2K15



A few of these pictures have already made their way onto the interwebs, so I figured I might as well get the actual post up. I spent the 2nd weekend of August in Des Moines with my best friend, Anna. She generously gifted me a one day pass to 80/35, an annual music festival. Over the weekend saw sets from St. Lucia, Jenny Lewis, Talib Kweli, Wilco, The Maytags, The Olympics, Christopher the Conquered, and a few others. Saturday we saw exclusively free music and entertainment that 80/35 offers, which was amazing and totally the way to do 80/35. That day we also sought refuge from the heat at one of our favorite spots, Royale Mile, and eventually ended up dancing the night away in a club.

1. Anna and Zach — if only they lived closer so we could take selfies everyday.
2. The crowd on Friday night for Jenny Lewis.
3&4. Anna, Zach, and I were in the front row to see this megababe, and Bernie Sanders supporter, Jenny Lewis.
5. My traveling vanity.
6&7. Anna and I caught a free aerial act at 80/35 on Saturday. We were both highly impressed.
8. Ran into my sweet friend Abby. Can’t wait to catch up with her in the near future.
9. Part of Saturday night’s crew at The Maytags set, before the champagne.

80/35 was absolutely amazing. I can’t wait for next year.

Sommer Time


Typically, I write much like I talk. If you know me personally, you know the only difference being, I talk a lot more than I write. The reason is clear to me, I’m thinking about what I’m writing. In ‘real life,’ I do a lot of word vomiting, rambling, etc. I am a classic story-teller, and I love to listen to stories just as much. When I ask someone else how their weekend was, and they say “good”.. I could punch them. I want every detail, like your weekend translated into a gossip magazine article, even if you just went shopping and got drinks with your friends. TELL ME EVERYTHING! So, in honor of Sommer, who literally said she was so happy I was at her party so I could blog about it, I will attempt to write as much as I talk.

Firstly, The Darland Farm, or Hillcrest Farm, is pretty much every girls dream farm turned practical. There are no horses or cows, but there are kittens and TONS of flowers. I will start with kittens. Almost as soon as we arrived, Sommer directed me towards the barn where I could find a fresh batch of minx kittens. I found them chewing on a dead swallow. Ew. But the swallows are everywhere, and they fly dangerously low and close to anything they want, so who’s fault is that?! The cutest kitten is a little fat gray guy, but he had zero interest in being the subject of my pictures, so you’ll just have to imagine. Think Toulouse from Aristocats, only gray. The kittens lost interest in the birds and soon moved on to my toes, basically the best thing ever for me.

After kitten time, and whatever everyone else was doing, we moved inside to eat brunch. Sommer’s Dad cooked us up eggs and bacon, while we drank screwdrivers and bloodies. We dined on the delicious feast and swapped stories of some not so smart things we had done in our youth. Lately, there’s been a lot of reminiscing going on around me. Is this a sign of growing older? In just a few years, these years will be the times I reflect on, college and my part time job. “Sommer, remember your birthday party when there were all those baby kittens and we picked flowers?”

Of course, some time was spent with the usual animal suspects at the Hillcrest Farm, Arie and Casper. Arie is my dream cat. She LOVES to be held. Between Audrey and I, we probably carried her around for a good 2 hours. Casper is just a youngin’. He’s wild and rambunctious, but you can tell he’s a lover. I’m sure in a couple years he will mellow out a bit, and then I would like to cuddle up in his fur for a good long dog snuggle session.

The flowers. The freakin’ flowers. As a person who is mildly obsessed with flower pictures, like I might actually consider taking pictures of flowers a hobby of mine, Hillcrest farm is one of the best places on earth. The Darland Family runs a small business that grows and sells the most beautiful flowers. (If you need flowers for your next event, check out their Facebook) I wandered through the rows of different varieties, snapping pictures of almost every single one. I paired down the selection a lot for the sake of not having to make yet another post that is exclusively plant pictures.

Sommer and her boyfriend, Nick, had to run into town to get Sommer’s dog, so Audrey and I hung out under a big awning and watched a storm roll through. My Dad grew up and farmed just a few rural blocks away from Hillcrest Farm. He has always told me stories of the amazing storms that would come in when he lived there. It was a neat experience to be in his shoes for an afternoon, even if the storm wasn’t too exciting.


Sommer invited me to join her in picking flowers and putting together a bouquet. Um, YES. Potential new hobby. We found vases on shelves covered in dust, and gave them a quick bath under the faucets that her Dad installed throughout the flower garden. She told me the names of almost all of the flowers I picked, and told me the rules her Mom has for arranging flowers. Sommer doesn’t always abide by the rules, but a bouquet is of these flowers is beautiful, no matter if it’s in groupings of three.

Also happening the day of Sommer’s birthday was my dear friend’s Dara and Ethan’s Going Away Party. I had chosen to spend the afternoon at Sommer’s, the evening at Dara and Ethan’s, and then return to Sommer’s when the bar closed. Let’s be honest, I didn’t make it back to Sommer’s or to bar close. I got tired and went to bed, Classic Hannah. Dara and Ethan’s party appeared to be everything they had hoped for. A few of their favorite Iowa musicians played, and they got to have one last hurrah at Octopus. They have since moved to sunny California. I wish them all the best, and hope to visit them soon!!

The following morning, Audrey and I headed back out to the farm. We had to pick up music equipment that the bands at Sommer’s party had used the night before. Sunday was Father’s Day, and Sommer’s Dad had fired up his gift from his family, a flat top grill! He was churning out all sorts of breakfast staples. I found myself in he kitchen making toast, and chatting with some of my favorite gals. I spent the remainder of my day with my dear ole Dad. We grilled all sorts of different things, even watermelon (total fail).

Summer, and Sommer, have treated me pretty good this year.