You Can Find Me @ Mid City Love

midcitylove-forweb (1)It’s time for an internet life redesign. It’s been nearly 3 and a half years since beginning my blog shenanigans. WordPress has been good to me and for that I am grateful. But I’m overdue for a new internet scene. The next chapter is already proving to be an exciting one.

As of today you can find me at Mid City Love. I’ll be sure to share all the same ol’ happenings along with some more intentionally curated content. I’ll be joined by my partner in crime Jeff, who you’ll get to hear from directly time to time. You guys… I’m just thrilled. The blogging thing is fun for me so as long as you keep reading, I’ll be here writing. Now lets spice things up a bit shall we?


Dodgeball & Church, Grand Rapids, MI

Team 'Off In The Corner' - Front: Petrit, Marcus, Sarah, & Britany. Back: Me, Jeff, Charlie, & Allison.

Team ‘Off In The Corner’ – Front: Petrit, Marcus, Sarah, & Britany. Back: Me, Jeff, Charlie, & Allison.

There’s something to be said about a community where you can spot a familiar face in church a few rows up then realize the the reason you know them is because they were your opponent in dodgeball last week. You might call it diverse or well rounded… I call it awesome.

“Peace be with you. Sorry I nailed you in the face on Tuesday.”

“You throw like a girl and it didn’t even hurt… and peace be with you.”

Each Tuesday Mr. Kladder and I play in a coed dodgeball league through Grand Rapids Sport and Social Club – $60 for 7 weeks of games once a week for an hour a piece. The league offerings are endless – kickball, softball, bowling, etc. – but my favorite is dodgeball. The league is part sport and part social (in case you didn’t already get that from the name). For each league there is a sponsor bar where teams meet afterwards to hangout and indulge in drink/food specials. The sponsor bar for this season is Ritz Coney downtown.

So we are sitting around the table after our game this week cheersing to our win when a few players from the opposing team stop over to say, “Hi.” And, “Good game.”

“How cool is this,” I think.

There was once a time when I was ‘just passing through’ Grand Rapids. I’m not sure quite when it happened but GR became my home. Everyday appears this community, whether it be in church or at a bar after dodgeball that fills my soul with everything it needs. It’s like a sneaky little ninja who instead of kicking you hands out great big hugs.

Wow… I went from church to dodgeball and then back to church again. Lets even things out here with a cuss word and call it a post: shit! I love you guys.

Grrrr baby. Petrit, Brit, Casey, Marcus, Sarah, Me, Britany, & Jeff.

Grrrr baby. Petrit, Brit, Casey, Marcus, Sarah, Charlie, Me, Britany, & Jeff.



Eating Cookies, Tough Cookies, Don’t Forget to Clear Your Cookies


Some days I love working out and others I wish eating cookies made me skinny. Today is a cookie day… actually most days are cookie days. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working out and the feeling I get knowing I’ve worked out but eating a cookie provides immediate satisfaction. It’s instant – in that lies the problem.

I’m impatient most days. I like instant – instant coffee through K-cups, instant answers to my questions via google, and instant sub unwichs by way of the Jimmy Johns delivery guy (guess what… they deliver cookies too). I blame you society. However, knowing this isn’t going to solve my problem.

Bikini season is upon us and let me tell you… getting in bikini body shape is anything but instant. I was in Target a few weeks ago searching for flats when my eyes stumbled upon a neon pink two piece with ruffles. In a bold mood I tried it on. Now, if you’re a chick and have ever purchased any form of clothing from Target there’s an 80% chance it was because you tried it on in their deceiving well-lit dressing room with the fun mirror that makes you look magically 10 pounds lighter than you did after looking in your bathroom mirror that very same morning. Suck it Target… I love to hate you.

That’s where lunges, pull-ups and Brad come in. Last week I changed my gym routine from training only two days a week to training 3. I’ve also adjusted my off days by taking yoga and centergy instead of group ride class. With three intense days of lifting, aerobics, and what ever else circus act Brad implements (last week I dragged my body weight in metal across the gym floor using straps), yoga provides deep stretching that is seriously needed.

Yesterday in yoga Brad happened to be at the mat next door. He whispered, “how do your legs feel?” – we did an intense leg workout Monday that was heavy in squats and lungs.

“Fine,” I answered. But how I really wanted to respond goes a little something like reaching over and pushing him over from the position he was holding. But I didn’t because I need Brad and I prefer to keep him. You see… aside from fitting into that pink bikini, Brad is my motivation. If I didn’t have scheduled times to train with him on my calendar there’s a good chance I’d skip the gym at least once a week at noon to instead grab a sandwich at the market with a co-worker. However, if I don’t go not only am I letting myself down but I’m letting Brad and my workout buddies down too. I don’t let people down (or try my very very best anyway). Letting people down is just not part of my program.

Loosing weight and getting toned isn’t easy. It’s hard and most of the time is sucks. It’s boring and it hurts. But you know what is good? Feeling confident in that neon pink bikini.

If you are interested in joining 1 or all 3 of our noon training sessions email Brad Koetsier or feel free to drop me a line here on the comments.

Milwaukee Milwaukee Milwaukee & Kurtis Kurtis Kurtis


Milwaukee went a little something like this:

Mr. Kladder & I met up with Josh, Emily & Kurtis Kurtis Kurtis (el bebe Van Vels) Friday afternoon for a 4 hour road trip to visit Nate & Cara.

A little about Nate and Cara: They went to high school with Jeff, Josh and Emily. They are less than two months out from finishing medical school and recently were matched for residency back here in Grand Rapids – which rocks. Nate and Cara have the hospitality of an 80-year-old couple. They plan meals, prepare snacks, pour drinks, and lay out towels and blankets. We were spoiled.

After arriving in Milwaukee we played numerous hands of Cards Against Humanity and a solid round of Settlers over pizza, beer, and the most amazing fruit salsa – I think Nates skills with a scalpel have also paid off in the kitchen. Next was a trip to The Safe House where this happened…

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Then we ate cheese curds at the Rock Bottom Brewery and visited the Fonz (Nate insisted we visit Fonzie the statue). Then Josh took his shirt off – I have photographic proof but would like to continue being his friend so won’t post it. For now.


Saturday included painting while drinking, or perhaps I should say drinking while painting, at ARTE – a paint studio that serves wine and beer. Is there a version of this in GR? Then we tailgated for the Brewers game, but not in the parking lot because it was raining. Instead we tailgated in winter coats on Nate and Cara’s porch. Gosh I love hotdogs.

Josh & Emily (and Kurtis), Cara & Nate, and Mr. Kladder and me.

Josh & Emily (and Kurtis), Cara & Nate, and Mr. Kladder and me.

Mr. Kladder and me.

Mr. Kladder and me.

Nate and Cara.

Nate and Cara.

Emily and Josh.

Emily and Josh.

We lasted no longer than 4 innings at the Brewers game but not because we aren’t baseball fans but because we had a hard deadline for the Michigan tip-off. Michigan won which led to extreme celebration among a crowd of people who cared about a negative one on a ten point scale. Later, the celebration turned into karaoke and $3 long islands.

'We Are the Champions"

‘We Are the Champions” directly after the MI win.

Then I spilled an entire Subway salad on my lap at the Oasis near Chicago on the way home. We all had a pretty good time, including Kurtis Kurtis Kurtis. The end.

The Brave Youth @ Mulligans – Grand Rapids, Michigan


I’ve known of the name and face of Luke Shoemaker for about a year now (Rockys, friends of friends), but it wasn’t until his startup The Standard Boot Company became funded through Start Garden that I really got to know him. We first chatted over coffee (well I was drinking coffee anyway) at the Start Garden space. I listened to his stories about old house/office parties. Then a few weeks back we shared some of the best nachos I’ve ever tasted, kid you not at Eastown Sports Bar. We talked mostly about life, vague I know, but really that about sums it up. He told me he sings rock n’ roll and I told him I used to sing on pageant stages. Then he invited me to his next show.

Saturday Luke and his band mates played a show at Mulligans in Eastown. Side note: while I feel like a jackass for not knowing the names of the other band members… I did try searching both their facebook and website with no luck of finding their names listed anywhere. I did learn however that The Brave Youth was originally inspired by the video game Zelda and currently they are being influenced by, “bitches, stitches, niches, and birthday wishes.” Still not quite sure what that means but there you have it.

I was entertained watching Luke play, and sing, and wobble across the stage. Also, I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard a lead singer tell his fans to, “go f*ck yourselves,” more in my life. I watched Luke throw his guitar and kick over the drum set and the Type A in me cried bloody murder. But a ‘show’ he promised and a show he did deliver.

I once mistook Luke for a stranger when he shaved off his beard and cut his hair. After Saturday I’ll never mistake him again.

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2004 Jeep Liberty for Sale – $5,800


I’m finally making the leap and I’m selling the Jeep – see what I did there? Going on 1 and a half years of living and working in downtown Grand Rapids I’ve managed to consolidate my life into a few square blocks. I drive out of those blocks next to never and having a car now seems silly. So… with a saddened heart I pass along the Jeep to it’s next awesome owner. Below are the details, please let me know if you are interested by sending an email to Open to answering any further questions not answered below as well as scheduling time to come see/test drive the Jeep.

  • 2004 Jeep Liberty – Sport Utility- 4WD – shift into 4WD by lever inside… which is awesome in the winter.
  • Milage – 119,000
  • Blue Book Price – (Excellent Condition – I take good care of my things) – $6,027
  • My Listing Price – $5,800 – also willing to transfer the license plate seeing as I won’t need it anymore.
  • Black paint, black interior, tough sport canvas covering all seating – all in great condition, no cuts/scraps, etc.
  • All 4 tires are in good condition and will last through another winter.
  • Power windows, power door locks, air conditioning/heat, CD player/radio, cruise control, power steering, back seats lay down flat for loading/hauling larger items… one of my favorite features.
  • I’ve kept up on regular oil changes, tire rotations, etc. – if I hadn’t my Dad would have scolded me.

And now for a whole lot of photos:

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Upping My Game at MVP Metro Club, Grand Rapids


As I stood at the mirror reapplying makeup in the ladies locker room at MVP Metro Club post workout yesterday a woman asked me, “Tough workout today?”

At first I thought she had witnessed the prompt noon butt kicking administered by Brad but then realized she was referring to my breath, or lack thereof. Even 15 minutes after the last weight was replaced on the rack I was still struggling to return to a normal rhythm of breathing. In other words, I looked pathetic.

“Yes,” I answered, “on Tuesdays I train with Brad and today he had me paired with a dude.”

For the last few months I’ve been training in small groups of 3-4 ladies, however, starting this week I was scheduled to return to 1:1. But Brad had surprised me with a last-minute buddy. We’ll call him Zac… because that’s his name.

I said, “I’m not sure if it was the fact he was new, or bigger than me, or that he was a guy – probably for all those reasons I pushed myself harder.”

With Zac there is a sense of challenge. There I was having just met him in the stairwell 10 minutes prior and then working harder than ever to out last him probably in some ridiculous exercise Brad created. Side note: as a hobby Brad most likely comes up with as many awkward exercises as he can and then tests them out on us – I suppose I’d do the same thing if I were in his position. It’s got to be entertaining to explain to someone that you should, “walk to the end of the room with a band around your ankles. Pretend they are your pants. Also, you don’t want your legs to touch.” Use your imagination as to why. Funny right? Whatever, I do what he says… his methods work.

Anyway, back to what my original point: choosing the right workout partner or group. Perhaps it’s intimidating for some to work alongside someone who’s better than you. But for me it’s motivation. And quite honestly this seems to hold true in other aspects of my life… career, relationships, faith, etc. I want to be around people who make me want to be a better version of myself. So I guess what I’m trying to say… if we are acquainted in any way… you motivate, teach, and/or inspire me to be greater – you get a warm fuzzy! and you get a warm fuzzy! and even you get a warm fuzzy!

Starting next week I’ll be upping my game and working out with Brad and new fitness pal Zac 3 times a week for 1 hour sessions. Bikini season is coming. Viva la Project Skinny Jeans… also viva la string bikini.

I Love & You Should Too



Etsy hasn’t let me down yet.

To date one of my most favorite home decor pieces, Fred the cardboard moose,  was purchased on Etsy. I ordered Fred last fall from the dudes at Cardboard Safari out of Charlottesville. He came in 4 cardboard sheets which meant putting him together was up to me. Only 30 minutes and two serious paper cuts later, Fred was formed. No glue, no scissors… the assembly was simply punching out the perforated pieces and sliding the 3D moose puzzle together. He hangs in my living room, and second only to the white porcelain stove, he is the most commented on piece I own.

My most recent Etsy purchase was a custom knit Detroit Tigers baby hat as a gift for Mr. Kladder’s one-year-old niece. It was between the hat and a wooden iPhone teething toy. I sided on the hat seeing as the parents are big Tiger fans and I’m pretty sure Zoe (the birthday girl) already has most of her teeth. She’s an over achiever.

While the hat is super-duper cute, what is more is the personal interaction and service that the Etsy platform provides both vendors and buyers. The hat was ordered and made by Krissy who runs her online Etsy store, Layne Couture. I emailed her directly and she answered. I asked for special requests and she fulfilled them.  All this and the hat was delivered before the listed construction/shipping time.

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I’m a big fan of online shopping but I also dig finding treasures. If you’ve ever visited my loft or at the very lease seen pictures of it, it is proof of my treasure-seeking enjoyment. Etsy is a place for treasure seekers who don’t like to drive, or maybe just like sitting in their PJs. Etsy… the treasure shop for lazy people! Count me in.

Happy 1st Birthday Zoe! and thank you Krissy for the adorable hat. Hopefully Zoe’s Mom will update pictures of her with the hat soon.

Birthday girl Zoe.

Birthday girl Zoe.


For the love of God now I want cake. This is the last time I write about Etsy.

The Creative Youth Center, Grand Rapids – Where’d Sally Go?

I stole all these photos from the CYC website and I don't care who knows it!

I stole this photo from the CYC website and I don’t care who knows it!

For the past several weeks I’ve carried around a tiny notebook with the cover reading ‘Not All Who Wander Are Lost.’ In this little book I’ve kept track of notes and little drawings mostly of ideas I have not worth putting into digital form quite yet – sometimes a good ol’  pen and paper help capture thoughts best. But forget about what’s inside the notebook for a bit, actually forget about it altogether because those are my private thoughts! What’s more important is where the notebook came from.

I first became involved with the Creative Youth Center (CYC for short) his past January after receiving an urgent notice from a Captain H. Tanney. Little did I know he had requested the presence of Grand Rapids ‘creative thinkers’ to help conceptualize his new home, aka Adventure Store, aka the new space of the CYC. The space, formally known as the Wealthy Street Bookstore which closed last May, was decked out in what I can only describe as a scene from the 2012 film Moonrise Kingdom. There were treats and drinks and an excellent presentation on what the CYC and their new space is all about.

I’ll tell you a secret, Capt. Tanney isn’t real… except for in our stories of course.

The CYC believes that through one-on-one interaction and project based learning kids can develop essential and life long writing skills. And now with the help of Capt. Tanney they are turning the old bookstore on Wealthy into the CYCs fulltime home, complete with a store front retailing everything adventurous – something so completely awesome that I couldn’t say no.

And so… also at this party there were lots of paper and pens that attendees used to write down ideas for the new space as well as sign up to volunteer. Last weekend was my first gig and I brought Mr. Kladder along.

This one too.

This one too.

Again, obviously didn't take this pic, I'm in it.

Again, obviously didn’t take this pic, I’m in it.


Saturday we volunteered as chaperons for the Kids Zone Laughfest Event at Grand Rapids Community College… and we weren’t there more than 30 minutes before we lost one.

“Jeff, where’d (we’ll call her Sally) go?”

“I thought she was with you,” he responded.

“She’s wearing a tutu and has a blue and pink weave… how’d we loose her!”

Kladder countered, “The important thing is not to panic,” all the while smirking because in this particular situation my commonly and overly used ‘panic’ phrase actually applied and he knew it. Little did we know Sally was an extra sneaky little girl who somehow got away with approximately 8 consecutive turns inside the blow up dragon. Sneaky Sally.

CYC group from Saturday.

CYC group from Saturday.

And this my friends is how you exit a blow up dragon.

And this my friends is how you exit a blow up dragon.

All in all… not bad for our first time volunteering for the CYC. Ah yes… you might be wondering what a field trip to a Laughfest event has to do with writing. This particular group of kids are part of the Press Club. They visit places and events in Grand Rapids then write about them. I’m interested to see how their articles reflect being pooped out by a dragon – gosh who am I kidding… my humor is just about as mature as the kids we chaperoned.

Anything With Sugar is a Jackass


When it comes to getting to the gym, I’m golden (minus chin ups… chin ups can suck it). On a typical week I’m there 5 out of the 7 days of the week – usually Monday through Friday for noon sessions with Brad or I’m taking the 12:05 PM Group Ride class.

My real challenge lies in food. Full disclosure…

On purpose I don’t keep sweets in the house. If they are in stock I’ll obsess over them and eat them til they’re gone. We’re talking a whole bag of Oreos in two days tops. Do you know how many Oreos are in a serving? Three, which is 160 calories. There are 15 servings in one 8 ounce package which amounts to about 2,400 calories. That’s insane. Now… while I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten an Oreo… actually yes I do… it was when I lived with my old roommate Christopher Michael and his boyfriend kept them in the house – dark days those were with two sweet tooths under one roof… I’ve since supplemented. Accidentally.

For example, there is a large Costco size bag of trail mix currently in my house. Not the fruit and nut kind, but the one with M&Ms. I don’t typically keep trail mix in the house but every now and then on a trip to the store I get willy nilly about what goes in my cart. The trail mix is the result of such a trip. So the last couple days I’ve scooped myself some helpings and found that I’m not really eating the ‘trail mix’ but rather, picking out the M&Ms and leaving the raisins and nuts behind. Again, accidentally. Right? I was recently told this is in complete violation of trail mix code.

Another example, a few weeks ago we had a movie/snack night and picked up a gallon of ice cream as a treat. Again, not something I typically keep in the house. Later in the week (after I had forgotten it was in the freezer) I stumbled upon the carton, immediately craved it, and scooped a bowl. It wasn’t til the spoon went back for seconds that I realized if I wasn’t prepared to finish this entire carton I was going to have to toss it and toss it now. In a moment of strength I put the ice cream in the sink and filled the container with hot water melting the sugary goodness down the drain.

Not quite as bad as the story I read about someone having to spray their food with Windex in order to prevent bingeing… but I think I’m probably in the same family.

Everyone has their vices right? Luckily I’ve come up with a solid solution: raw brownies.

A few weeks ago I finally broke down and purchased a food processor (less than $30 at Costco) for the sole purpose of chopping oats, flax, and walnuts. Add some cocoa powder, vanilla, PB2, dates (please be a dear and hand me my orthopaedics), water to texture and you get a concoction that not only soothes my sweet cravings but is also full of fiber and protein.

I must be doing something right, I’m down 2.2% body fat since January. Windex crisis averted. Viva la Project Skinny Jeans! 

For pricing or more information on MVP Metro or Fitness Trainer Brad you can email him directly at