Who needs politics? Movie night!

Chris and I didn’t feel like watching the political coverage last night so we decided to have a movie night instead :)

Now before anyone starts freaking out, we understand the importance of being informed, voting, etc. but by the time the votes are cast we’ve had enough. We’re living in a region where the news covers three, yes THREE, states worth of political results. It’s just a lot to sit through in one night, especially after we have been POUNDED with political ads for over a year.

Anyway… we’ve wanted to watch The Fault in Our Stars since it came out and we finally got around to it last night. The Fault in Our Stars was adapted from John Green’s novel, which I read last year. Both the book and the movie have been out long enough now that I hope I’m not ruining anything but it is just such an emotional story. I said it before and I’ll say it again, this story takes the characters and makes them relatable and really makes the reader/viewer feel what they are feeling. It’s a love story and a tragedy at the same time that will make you laugh and cry throughout the entire thing.

Spoiler alert below for anyone that doesn’t know the story! 

I cried through the entire last 45 minutes of the movie but I absolutely love the eulogy scene in the “literal heart of Jesus”. What Hazel says about Gus giving them their own infinity is so moving and so true. You don’t have to impact the world to make a difference or be special. You can have a lasting effect on just one person and you’re life can be worth something more than you could ever imagine.

The Fault in Our Stars Movie Poster

I would definitely recommend this book and movie to someone looking for an emotional, thought-provoking story.

Have you seen any good movies lately? Read any good books? 

Engagement Photos

Last Thursday, Chris and I FINALLY got around to getting our engagement photos done. I know we’ve been engaged for 10 months but it took so long for a couple of reasons: 1. with everything else going on this summer there’s no way we would have found the time to get them shot and not have been completely stressed and/or exhausted to make it worth it and 2. since we’re getting married in the spring we wanted to get some photos done in the fall.  Fall is both of our favorite season and it worked out perfectly that this was the first time we were able to make it work.

Since we’re not getting married in Sioux City we decided to take our engagement photos here. I did a little research on local photographers and let Chris decide between the ones that I liked. We ended up using Shane Monahan, who was great to work with. Neither of us had met Shane before we did our photos but he made it fun and had some great ideas for places to shoot. Turns out Chris went to high school with Shane’s wife – Sioux City, the land of 3 degrees of separation. I swear, everyone knows everyone else in some way or another! haha I digress…

Shane turned our photos are SO FAST we got them the next day. I love how they turned out and would definitely recommend Shane Monahan Photography to others.

Here are just a few of my favorites – I love them all so it made it really hard to choose! :)

Chris & Jess Chris & Jess Jess & Chris Chris & Jess Chris & Jess Chris & Jess

 All photos credited to Shane Monahan at Shane Monahan Photography

We bought a house!

Holy cow, we bought a house! While Chris had gone through the home buying process before this was my first time and, obviously, our first time going through it together. I am so in love with our new home and I can’t wait to fix it up the way that we want it.

We closed on the 15th and it has been a whirlwind since we left the bank – driving to Des Moines, loading the giant truck, driving back to Sioux City, unloading, unpacking, going back to DSM this past weekend to paint the living room to get that house ready to sell, back to Sioux City for work. It has all gone so fast and there is still so much left to do.

For now I’m just looking forward to getting our DSM home listed and getting Chris up here permanently!

I’ll try to get some pictures up soon but I don’t have any good photos of the front of the house yet (sad I know). It’s on my list to do this week! :)

Vacation 2014

Two weekends ago Chris and I took a bit of a vacation hitting the black hills and Colorado in one fell swoop. With as crazy as things have been lately it was definitely needed! We have been looking forward to this trip for a while now and it was great to have a few days without moving and wedding planning. Here a little recap on our travels:


Chris, Patrick, Kayla (Chris’ brother & sister-in-law) and I spent a few days in the Black Hills. We know a couple that owns an Inn out in Hill City, SD so we stayed at their place again this year. We had a great time riding the motorcycles around the hills and through all the towns that were packed with people for Sturgis. The Black Hills are so gorgeous and the energy of everyone there was so exciting. We visited Deadwood, Sturgis, Keystone and Mt. Rushmore and drove through Spearfish Canyon, Custer Parks’ Wildlife Loop and Needles Highway. We put a couple hundred miles on the bike over the course of a couple of days but the pain my butt was in was totally worth it! :)

The four of us at Bridal Veil Falls

The four of us at Bridal Veil Falls

Jess and Chris with a wild donkey

Making friends with the donkeys on Custer Parks’ Wildlife Loop

Traveling through a tunnel on Needles Highway

Needles Highway, so cool!

Patrick and Kayla on the motorcycle

Patrick & Kayla waiting to go through a one lane tunnel

We had a fantastic time and we’re already planning our trip for next year.


After our weekend in the Hills wrapped up, Chris and I grabbed a rental car and headed to Denver. My cousin got married on the 4th and we were so excited to get to celebrate with the happy couple. My parents and sister were already out in Colorado having a blast so we met up with them and the rest of the family in time for a (very) quick nap, change of clothes and headed over to the wedding. Everything was perfect and Andrea was a beautiful bride. One of the most memorable moments of the night was right as my uncle and cousin started to walk down the aisle. The venue had a camera mounted to the building and they stream the wedding for those who can’t be there. Our Oma (grandma) was unable to make the trip and she was watching from her home in Iowa. As they started down the aisle, they both turned and waved at her. It was at that moment I could hear my whole family lose it and we were all crying through the rest of the ceremony.

Of course I was horrible and didn’t take any photos all night long but I was able to grab  few from my sister for this post.

Bride & Groom walking down the aisle

The new Mr. & Mrs.!

Chris & Jess at wedding reception

Chris & I at the reception

Tuesday we were able to spend a little time exploring before Chris, Stacy and I headed to the airport to catch a flight back to Sioux City (and then the two of them drove back to Des Moines).


The view from near Buffalo Bill’s grave

Chris & his giant peanut butter cup

Chris & his giant peanut butter cup

It was a lot of activity and traveling packed into a short amount of time but it was a very memorable trip and it’s left me looking forward to the next one… when ever that may be!

Have you taken any exciting trips this summer? 
Any vacations you are looking forward to? 

Where is the time going?!

Time always seems to fly by but with everything that is going on in our lives, I have no idea where the last six weeks have gone! We’ve made some progress on the house hunting and the wedding planning which is super exciting. And as much as I love to-do lists, I’m trying to avoid creating lists for everything I have left to do because I would probably have a panic attack. For now, we’re just pushing through things one at a time and trying to enjoy summer between everything else we have going on.

OK, time for some updates!

House Hunting: We found a house that we both loved the minute we walked in. I’m trying not to jump the gun and get too excited because I know nothing is official until after closing but the further we get into the process the more excited I get. At this point we’re working with the bank to get the mortgage paperwork completed and waiting on results of the appraisal. As long as everything keeps moving along, we plan to close August 15 (and take possession on the 17th). Chris and I have spent two Sunday afternoons wandering around Homemakers looking at furniture and possible ideas for the house. I can’t wait to post photos of the house, I love it!

Of course as soon as the home buying process is complete we get to move on to home selling…

Wedding planning: We’ve crossed a few more things off the wedding to-do list recently. There is still a lot to get done but I’m happy that the list is shrinking, even if it is slowly. Here’s the list of completed items (because looking at the completed lists makes me happy/looking at the list of everything left to do stresses me out!):

Ceremony & Reception Venue
Wedding colors
Wedding party is set (still need to talk to our Flower girl)
Caterer (still need to set the menu but they are booked)
Wedding dress
Bridesmaids dresses
Decided on my somethings old, new, borrowed and blue!
Picked out suits for Chris, my dad and the groomsmen – just need the groomsmen to get measured and those will be ordered! (Still need to pick out shoes, ties, and shirts)
Booked DJ
Booked videographer

260 days to go! :)

Alright, enough of me rambling on! Here are some photos of our summer so far:

Chris sitting in chair at Homemakers

Furniture shopping

Chris & I at the Indy Car race

Indy Car race in Newton!

Stacy, me and mom

Sunday Funday bike ride with Stacy & Mom

The first boxes are packed!

The first boxes are packed!

Speaking of packing, I feel like it is going to take FOREVER! I’ve never packed up a whole house to move across the state and I feel like I have no idea where to begin. Any moving tips are welcome! :)

Let the countdown begin!

OK, let’s be honest for a second – the countdown started January 1, the day we set our wedding date :)

Since I haven’t blogged much I haven’t had a chance to share the news – Chris and I are engaged!! (Which you obviously figured out from my first statement but it’s so much fun to say!) He asked me to marry him a few days before Christmas which was perfect because we got to spend the next week celebrating with our families over the holidays.

Jess & Chris Selfie

Chris and I on our 4th Anniversary (5.31.14)

Of course I went right into planning mode :) This was mainly because we knew we wanted a very unique venue and places were already booking up into this year and next. We were able to put down a deposit and book our wedding date on the perfect venue just a couple of weeks after getting engaged. We had a bit of a lull in planning for a few months but things are picking up again and moving full steam ahead.

Over the past month we’ve crossed so big items off of our planning list and I am feeling SO much better about everything. I’ve definitely been stressed out lately with wedding planning, starting a new job and house hunting, so it’s a relief to feel like progress is being made. Here are a things we have taken care of so far for the wedding:

Ceremony & Reception Venue (Barnes’ Place)
Wedding colors
Wedding party is set (still need to talk to out Flower girl and decide what to do for ushers)
Caterer (still need to set the menu but they are booked)
Wedding dress!! :)
Bridesmaids dresses

I was able to have my mom, Chris’ mom, Stacy and my bridesmaid/best friend, Kara, all in town to go dress shopping this last weekend. We were able to find the perfect gown for me as well as dresses for Stacy and Kara. I’ll do a separate post about that experience soon.

Chris' mom, my mom, Stacy, me and Kara

After I said “Yes” to my dress!

I know it may not look like much but things are definitely coming together. Next on my list: invitations, DJ and florist.

If you have any wedding planning tips, I’m all ears!

PS – 296 days until we say I DO!!


Ahhh, it has been so long since I’ve blogged! I know I say that every time I blog but it’s always true :) So much has changed since my last update so we have a lot to catch up on. Let’s start with the latest news… I got a new job and we’re moving!

Chris and I made the decision to move to Sioux City. While we are very sad to leave the Des Moines area, we’re very excited to take this step in our lives. It’s going to be a great move for Chris’ business (Diesel Pictures) and I’ve got a great opportunity with a small agency (Team Creative Fire) in Sioux City that I think will give me a lot of room to grow and learn.

For now, I’m going to be traveling back and forth between Des Moines and Sioux City while we try to find a house to buy. It’s going to be a stressful time but we’ll get through it.

I started my job on Tuesday so I’ve officially completed my first week and I’m excited for everything to come. My goal is to keep this updated with the our moving progress, home buying experience, new job, etc. Wish me luck! – hopefully I can keep up :)

Where did summer go?!

Holy cow did this summer fly by! I feel like we have been on the go non-stop the past few months. Instead of trying to recap everything that I have missed I thought I would just post some of my favorite photos/events.

Family in front of IMS musem

At Indy!

Kayla & I at Bike Night is Sioux City

Kayla & I at Bike Night is Sioux City-sorry it’s so dark!

Chris & I after RAGBRAI

Chris & I after we finished RAGBRAI in July

Road from Sturgis to Hill City, SD

Sturgis/Hill City, SD Trip

Main Street Sturgis 2013


Jen & I at Alice's wedding

Jen & I at Alice’s wedding

Kiting the beautiful bride

Kiting the beautiful bride :)

SA Sand Volleyball Team

SA Sand Volleyball Team (most of us at least)

Chris & I at the Iowa State Fair 2013

Chris & I at the Iowa State Fair

And there you have it, our summer in a nut shell. I hope everyone had an awesome summer :)


It’s May and it’s snowing…

Mother nature is playing a sick game with us this spring! The weather has been so up and down, and I am sick of it. I was wearing flip-flops and a t-shirt on Saturday and today it’s full on winter again. I am so ready for beautiful, warm, sunny days. Since spring has been a bust, can it be summer now?

OK, enough of my complaining… I just saw this link on twitter (via @BuzzFeed) and I had to share – The 40 Greatest Dog GIFs Of All Time. I think this is one of my favorites:

Cat touching yawning dog's tongue (The 40 Greatest Dog GIFs Of All Time)

Found on Buzz Feed

I cannot stop laughing! At least there’s something to smile about on this snowy day. And it’s almost the weekend :)

MAR 2013

On Saturday, my mom, Chris and I went for our first organized bike ride of the year. The city of Des Moines hosts the Mayor’s Annual Ride for Trails every year and since Stacy is working for the city, we thought it would be a fun one to sign up for. The ride was a 25 mile loop that include some street riding and a lot of time on the trails through Des Moines. It was pretty cold on Saturday morning but we still had a lot of fun!


I can’t wait for the weather to get nicer so we can go out riding a lot more (riding in the cold is not near;y as much fun). My goal this year is to ride every mile of RAGBRAI this year so I have a lot of training to do. :)