People I Find Fascinating: Sarah Von Bargen of Yes and Yes

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 | Posted under People I Find Fascinating

One of my favorite local Twin Cities bloggers is Sarah Von Bargen. Sarah is a funny and adventurous small business owner and blogger who shares her wisdom on her two blogs, her life blog Yes and Yes and her small biz blog Sarah Von Bargen.

Since I’m not a small business owner (yet), I follow her blog Yes and Yes a lot more. It’s full of really fun, slightly random, but usually very useful tips on making your life just a little bit more fun and interesting! She recently partnered with several of my other favorite bloggers for a blog crawl called Notes to My Former Self which corresponded with her new ebook, The Post College Survival Kit. She also has a really great series called True Story, which I was very happy to be a part of last year!

And now it’s my turn to feature Sarah!


An Interview with Sarah Von Bargen

profileAN) I really admire your philosophy “because yes is more fun than no.” Have you always been adventurous or did it develop over time?

SVB) I’ve always been pretty adventurous. I was raised in the country by parents who worked as public school teachers – they knew how to encourage creativity and independence without hovering or helicoptering. We traveled a lot during the summers and I ran around the outside a lot, so I got started adventuring at a pretty young age.

What’s the most underrated place you’ve traveled to?

Wisconsin. SERIOUSLY. I can’t believe it’s not a national tourist destination. The scenery is gorgeous, there are tons of lakes and sweet little historic towns, and more cheese and beer and fresh produce than you can shake a stick at. It’s incredibly affordable and everyone is friendly. Go there now!

What are some of your favorite travel tips?

My biggest travel tip – which is more of a personal preference – is to slow the eff down and stop trying to cram so much into each day. Sleep in, meander, chat with people you meet, allow space for opportunities to present themselves and for plans to change. When I’m traveling I rarely try to do more than two things in one day and when I’m mapping out a big trip I usually only plan 3-4 big things for each city or even country. So many interesting, exciting things will present themselves when you get there!

I’m thinking about starting my own business after I finish grad school. What do you think is the biggest misconception women have about owning their own business?

Well, I’m not sure that this is specific to women, but I think a lot of people believe that you can just make a website and a Twitter account and you’ll immediately have a full roster of clients. Oh, that it were that easy! Before you launch or leave a day job I would heartily recommend building up a portfolio and gathering testimonials from happy clients.

What do you think has been the biggest factor in having a successful blog like Yes and Yes?

Posting helpful, useful, engaging content on a regular basis. Promoting other people’s work and reaching out to people you’d like to support/befriend doesn’t hurt either.

What advice do you have for having more faith in yourself when taking chances, whether professionally or personally?

I refer to my corner stone of awesome – times in my life when I’ve accomplished something incredibly difficult or weathered a rough patch. If I can negotiate a lease in Mandarin, I can do just about anything!

And finally, I just moved to your neck of the woods! What are your must-dos in the Twin Cities that I need to check out?

I love Nye’s Polonaise — a weird old super club in Northeast Minneapolis with a polka band and piano karaoke and Frogtown has a great Hmong farmer’s market and tons of cheap noodle houses.


Are you as fascinated with Sarah as me? When you sign up for her free newsletter, you’ll also get three of her ebooks, Be Your Own Style Icon, How To Charm Anyone. All The Time. Ever., and The ABCs of Self-Love!

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The Weekend: Friends, Family + The Newest, Tiniest Addition

Monday, September 15th, 2014 | Posted under The Weekend

This weekend was crazy busy! Part of the weekend started Friday afternoon while I was at work when Erik texted me to let me know that our niece-in-law (his older half-brother’s son’s wife) was in labor! Squee!! We were so excited. She wasn’t due until September 20th so this was very exciting! I was on pins and needles all afternoon and evening, but sadly we did not get any new updates.

Erik had asked a friend of his from high school if he and his girlfriend would like to come over for dinner on Friday night. We have been trying to be more proactive in inviting people over for dinner now that we have a house! They arrived a little bit after I arrived home from work, bringing along some donuts for dessert (yum!). Our dinner conversation was probably not considered very polite: we jumped right into politics and religion! After dinner and dessert, we walked over to Sociable Cider Werks for drinks, but being old fogies, none of us last past one pint!

However, although we were dead tired, Erik and I were both intrigued with the idea of seeing the aurora borealis, which supposedly was going to be viewable in Minnesota. So around midnight (!) we hopped in the car and drove about half an hour north to this wildlife refuge to see if we could see it. We could not. It was a total bust and so disappointing!

Saturday morning and afternoon was spent at work while Erik was on a brewery tour (I wasn’t too bummed since I hate beer). In the middle of the afternoon Erik texted me that Elijah Kenneth had been born the previous night. It’s a boy! And I was right! I totally knew it was going to be a boy. On top of that, we also found out that Erik’s best friend was in town too so we quickly had to figure out how we were going to see everyone!

After I got off work Saturday night, I picked Erik up in St. Paul and after a quick stop at home, we drove over to the hospital to see baby Elijah. I have not held a newborn since my brother was born 25 years ago! And of course, back then a newborn seemed much larger since I was so small. But Elijah was so cute and snuggly. We really enjoyed holding him and watching him make funny faces when he yawned. We heard all about the birth and how the recovery was going — she went totally natural! We learned that Elijah was chosen because it had always been a favorite name, and Kenneth was chosen because both of Elijah’s great-grandfather’s names are Kenneth. And just in case you haven’t caught up with the family tree, Elijah’s great-grandfather is Erik’s dad. Hence, I am a great-aunt. Crazy, huh?!



We weren’t done with the evening yet! Erik and I drove down to JL Beer’s for burgers and fries with our friends and then they came over to see the house. Lots of house tours this weekend! (And I swear I will put up a post about the house soon… I’m waiting for some furniture to arrive so I don’t have to do it twice!).

Even though Saturday went pretty late, I was committed to getting up and going for a run, which is exactly what I did on Sunday morning. Seven and a half miles! Then I quickly showered because I was off to meet a new family with a son with diabetes who might want me to babysit for them. After I met with them, I went to work. I don’t normally work on Sundays but I wanted to pick up an extra shift. While I was at work, Erik texted that his mom wanted us to come over for dinner because Erik’s other half-brother (he has 4 of them, and a half-sister) was in town. So off we went to have dinner at Applebee’s. I haven’t been to Applebee’s in such a long time. It’s not really a favorite, but they did have these pretzel breadsticks with beer cheese that were so yummy.

And that was the weekend! Whew!

How was your weekend?


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Friday Finds + Weekly Recap

Friday, September 12th, 2014 | Posted under Friday Finds

6445ea0a028db4597f29d92fea6e8172The real reason Starbucks baristas spell your name wrong

These bands totally need to release a new album

Which dating app is for you?

The meaning behind tattoos

The view from above on 9/11

90-year-old women get married after 72 years together

The problem with marriage in movies

Heartbreakingly beautiful photos of the All Again Grain blogger who lost her daughter shortly after birth


Since I’ve started doing weekend recaps on Monday, it doesn’t make much sense to tell you about the upcoming weekend on Friday. Kind of redundant! So I’m going to share some highlights of the week instead!

My Mondays are pretty focused on school, since I have a three and a half hour class in the morning (Orientation of the Profession of Counseling) and a three hour evening class (Statistical Techniques and Research Methods).

On Tuesday, I had a lunch meeting with the Events Coordinator of the JDRF at a restaurant in the Whittier neighborhood called The Bad Waitress. It’s the same neighborhood where the popular donut shop Glam Dolls is located. I checked out their wares, and it looks really good! It may provide some stiff competition for Portland’s Voodoo Donuts! But I haven’t eaten anything there yet, so I’ll have to report back later.

I had my first class in Developmental Psychology on Wednesday, and then worked at Run N Fun in the evening. Developmental Psychology looks like it will be a pretty interesting class!

On Thursday, I interviewed a psychologist at the Melrose Institute about working in eating disorders. It’s for a project for my Orientations class. Then I spent the afternoon doing some reading for my classes at the various Spyhouse Coffee locations. I went to their Whittier location first, but the seats weren’t too comfortable, eventually I left. I checked out their location by my house, in Northeast, but it was kind of loud and they didn’t look like they had anything for lunch, so I just drove home. Afterward, I drove to their Lowry Hill location, which was perfect. Comfy seats and they do have good coffee. It’s just up the street from Namaste, a really great Indian restaurant where I was heading later for a women’s diabetes meet-up.



How was your week? 



Weekly Workouts

Thursday, September 11th, 2014 | Posted under Health + Fitness


Weekly Workouts

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 3.01 miles (13:41/mile)

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Orangetheory Fitness

Wednesday – Orangetheory Fitness


This week was pretty low on the workout. I only did three!I did not have a lot of energy over the weekend, so I didn’t manage to squeeze in a run until Sunday night. It was warm out, but not too hot so it was pleasant. I wore my new Brooks Transcend shoes (see picture above), which are comfortable and great for me because I overpronate, but they are a little heavy and bulky compared to my New Balance 1260s. But since I bought them and have worn them outside, I can’t take them back, so I will have to put up with them until I’ve worn them out enough to warrant getting a new pair.

Anyway, the shoes were pretty comfortable, but my hairband broke — just snapped right off! — in the middle of my run when I was rolling the band up my hair. Ugh! So I had to run more than two miles with my hair down my back! It sucked. Between that and some mid-run fatigue, I had a few minutes where I ran really slow, hence the slow pace time (I usually run closer to a straight 13 mile minute).

On Tuesday, I woke up early to do Orangetheory. The circuit training involved a lot of upper body. My triceps were so sore! On the treadmill we mostly focused on endurance, so we ran at base pace, push pace and all out pace (5.0 MPH, 5.5 MPH, and 6.0 MPH for me).  But about half way through I realized I’d pushed a little too hard and I had to mix in some walk breaks.

Today we really mixed it up. We alternated between running and the weight room, and then running and the rower. I was exhausted at the end! I really do not like the rower so any time I have to spend a significant amount of time on it, I dread it. They’re all like “Explosive!” and I’m like “Can’t I just casually slide back and forth?” It’s just not my thing. Do you love/hate rowing?


Weekly Weigh-In

CW: 203.6

LW: 204.6

As for my Weekly Weigh-in, I clocked in at 203.6 today, so a whole pound! Woohoo! One thing I think I need to start doing is more clean eating. I think the reason why I’ve been maintaining in the low 200s for several weeks is because of my diet, because I’m definitely exercising enough. I’m soooo close to Onederland that I know I just need to buckle down and embrace a little bit of clean eating for the next few weeks until I can pass that benchmark. Kind of jumpstart my metabolism again.

I don’t think I’ll maintain it forever, but it might be nice to get back into some better habits. I’ve been eating a lot of crap lately because I’ve been running around what with grad school starting and working part-time. But I’m choosing a bunch of unhealthy stuff. So that has got to go!


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My Top 10 Books

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 | Posted under About Me

9fc3758da997ccdfde0485d9436b7336The “10 books that have impacted you” meme is making the circuit and while I haven’t been directly tagged by anyone, I thought I would follow along! I’ve listed the books in the order I read them:

  1. Walk Two Moons — This book was actually first read aloud to be when I was in 5th grade. I then bought and read the book several times while in middle school. It’s a YA book about a girl on a quest to find her mother who disappeared. The story is very compelling and touching.
  2. The Phantom Tollbooth – My grandmother sent this book to me when I was a kid. I’m not sure if I read it before or after Walk Two Moons, so I’m just putting it after. The Phantom Tollbooth is a fantasy story about a little boy who goes on an adventure in a magical world. The entire story is built words and wordplay, and it just the most enjoyable story to read. Even as an adult, I would highly recommend you read it!
  3. The Babysitter’s Club — This isn’t really one book, but the entire series had a big impact on my life because one of the main characters has type 1 diabetes. Since there isn’t a lot of people with diabetes in popular culture, and especially as a kid who didn’t go to school with anyone with diabetes, it really helped me cope. Plus, the books are fun! (btw — I also got to interview Ann M. Martin for work! So cool!)
  4. Diary of a Young Girl – I’ve read Anne Frank’s diary three times. Twice in high school, and again in college. Her story is so amazing and inspirational, and she is just so wise for her age. If you haven’t read it, you really owe it to yourself.
  5. Writing Down the Bones – I found this book on my mother’s bookshelf and I have been a fan of Natalie Goldberg’s ever since! This book is a cross between memoir and writing prompts, and it’s pretty fun just to read. Of course, I like a lot of her other books, especially Long Quiet Highway, which is her memoir. (I’ve also interviewed Natalie Goldberg.)
  6. Blue Like Jazz – I read this book in college, after hearing about it at a church retreat where one of the people featured in the book was speaking. I didn’t read it right away, but when I did, it was definitely on God’s timing. I devoured the book in less than a week. It was the first time that I ever felt that someone believed in God the same way I did. I had felt like my beliefs were strange and “not quite right” and reading Blue Like Jazz made me feel like everything was just fine. It also later helped introduce me to Erik, so that’s another special reason this book is on the list! (I’ve never interviewed Don Miller, but Erik and I have met him twice and told him our story, which was just awesome.)
  7. Girl Meets God – I found this book soon after reading Blue Like Jazz. It was similar in that it was sort of a discovery of God, but from a woman’s perspective.
  8. Man’s Searching For Meaning – This was a college required text, and I honestly don’t remember what class it was for, but it was probably the best thing the University of Oregon forced me to read. Viktor Frankl’s experience in a concentration camp is absolutely incredible. The way he is able to bring the entire experience to life and also give it meaning and provide a lesson is just incredible. It’s spectacular.
  9. MWF Seeking BFF – As someone who has always struggled a little socially (a shock, I know), I really appreciated this book. Especially having moved around quite a bit and not living near anyone I grew up with, I’ve had to make and re-make friends several times over the years. Reading Rachel’s experience and hearing how she’s found friends but also coped with not having close friends really resonated with me. (I also interviewed Rachel).
  10. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – This book was such an eye-opener as far as understanding how our healthcare system has changed, how racial and cultural stereotypes influenced medical care, and also this whole story about this family over the years and how they’ve coped with their struggles. I thought the author did an amazing job weaving together several stories.

One thing I noticed was that I progressed from reading fiction books as a kid to reading mostly non-fiction as an adult. Although I do read some fiction, I definitely prefer reading non-fiction books! I find them more impactful in my life.

What are your top 10 books? 


Tuesday Wisdom

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 | Posted under Tuesday Wisdom


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This Weekend: A Family Dinner, the Mill City Museum, and the Last Days of Summer

Monday, September 8th, 2014 | Posted under Minneapolis, The Weekend

It’s already the 8th of September, which means we’re crawling closer and closer to winter, and farther and farther away from summer. Crazy.

Friday evening was pretty low-key. I got home from work a little after 6:00, but was pretty wiped for some reason. I really don’t seem to have much energy for anything these days. I could barely stay awake until 10:00 when we finally crashed for the evening. I seem to getting more and more tired these days, and I’m wondering if it’s low thyroid. My levels indicated they were a little on the low side last year when I had my annual lab work done. I haven’t had my lab work done this year, though, so I’m thinking I should get it done pretty soon. I also have my diabetes doctor appointment next week, so I’m planning on talking to her about it and see if she has any ideas.

I had planned to wake up early to go running on Saturday but it just didn’t end up happening. So I just worked from 9 to 4:00 and then cleaned the living room because Erik’s niece and her husband were coming over for dinner. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Erik’s family is rather unique in that he has four older half brothers and a half sister who are much older than us. They have kids who are basically our age, but they’re all like cousins, even though technically they are my father-in-law’s grandchildren.

Anyway, we had such a great time catching up. We haven’t seen them too much since moving back to Minnesota, and it was fun to chat about life. They are going to New York City and Boston next week, so Erik and I pretty much dominated the conversation for an hour telling them exactly where they needed to go! Among our recommendations: the Tenement Museum (which I think is the most underrated museum in NYC — it’a amazing!), Shake Shack, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Museum of Natural History. We also convinced them to make reservations for their anniversary at One If By Land, Two If By Sea, an incredibly romantic restaurant where we celebrated our engagement. For Boston, we recommend the Freedom Trail, ending at the North End for dinner and dessert at Mike’s Pastry, the USS Constitution, Concord, and Plymouth Plantation.

We also had an interesting conversation around making and maintaining friendships, which sparked a thought during dinner that I plan on expanding in a future post. So keep an eye out!

After staying up pretty late on Saturday, there was no way I was going to wake up on Sunday morning for an early run. We didn’t even eat breakfast until close to noon! Erik had been bugging me to go to the Mill City Museum, which is a local museum featuring the history of the flour mills in Minneapolis and the companies General Mills and Pillsbury (which are now one and the same, FYI). The museum is in an old General Mills mill that was destroyed in a fire in 1991, so they turned the remains into a museum. It was very interesting, but I think one of my favorite things was a little movie called Minneapolis in 19 Minutes, which ran through the entire soup to nuts history of Minneapolis, from when it was discovered and settled, to the development, cultural changes, and present day area. For someone who is brand-new to the area, it was a great synopsis of where I live!


The view of the Stone Arch Bridge from the observation deck at the Mill City Museum

The weather was beautiful out, so we felt we owed it to ourselves to walk around the neighborhood a little longer. We walked two blocks to Izzy’s, an amazing ice cream parlor. It’s a little expensive, but the ice cream is top-notch quality. Then we walked along the Mississippi River and a little across the Stone Arch Bridge. Then we had to do some errands, which involved picking up a new living room chair from Pier 1 Imports and a microwave from Best Buy. Woot woot. Actually it is pretty cool. We’re re-doing our living room a bit by adding two new chairs, and the microwave is awesome because the one we had was from the last homeowners and it was a piece of crap.

I closed out the weekend with a 3 mile run around the neighborhood!

How was your weekend?

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Friday Finds

Friday, September 5th, 2014 | Posted under Friday Finds

3f3be6f2527064b94e6eda071e35c684Self-portraits of a woman posing with different families

Customizing your running shoes

Words of advice: don’t believe everything you think

The best worst school pictures in the history of ever

Dealing with your inner Mean Girl

Amazing photos superimposed on portraits

Tips on building a classic wardrobe

What every fat girl should know

Smart things you should do as a twenty (or even thirty) something



This weekend will hopefully be pretty relaxing and low-key, which is nice because I feel like we’ve had a lot of things going on the last couple of weekends. I have to work tomorrow, but in the evening, Erik and I are having his niece (his older half-brother’s daughter) and her husband over for dinner. We haven’t had very many people over to see the house, so it will be fun to show off the new digs! And we have absolutely no plans for Sunday, so we’ll see what happens… Anyone else have any fun plans for the weekend?


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Weekly Workouts

Thursday, September 4th, 2014 | Posted under Health + Fitness

The 31 Days of Awesome has ended and turned more into the 21 Days of Awesome, which is pretty good! Not quite as good as I’d hoped. But I think I learned that both my energy levels and also my time just can’t handle working out on each day. Now that we’re into September, I’ve started to scale back. Here’s what I got done this week:

Friday – Rest

Saturday – 4.25 mile run

Sunday – Rest

Monday – Victory 10K

Tuesday – OTF

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – OTF

I did learn through working out more often in the past month is that I really enjoy Orangetheory Fitness and hot yoga. Unfortunately we looked at a the budget and it doesn’t look like we can afford both memberships. I had to really think about which one would help me with my long-term goals, which is to lose weight and become a faster runner. In the end, I picked Orangetheory Fitness. It combines strength training and cardio in a way that I think will really help my fitness more than doing hot yoga. Not that hot yoga — or yoga in general — won’t help, but I think at this point I’ll get more out of OTF.

Luckily I do have another month and a half of a Groupon to Modo Yoga Minneapolis, so I’ll still be able to take hot yoga classes. After that, I’m thinking that I might get a 10 class pass. If I just take one class a week, then getting a class pass would be a lot more affordable. Then I can stick with OTF and running outside, at least until winter comes. Then I’m hoping that maybe I can get a gift card to Modo Yoga for Christmas to hold me through the winter when it’s too cold to run outside! Spending an hour in a 105 degree room sounds a lot better than running in -15 degree weather!

Although I didn’t manage to work out every day in August, I still feel like I’m losing quite a bit of inches and weight. Well, I probably only lost a couple of pounds in August, but I feel like my shorts and skirts are starting to feel looser. I weigh myself pretty frequently, and I actually got down to 201.3 lbs yesterday, but when I weighed myself “officially” this morning, I was back up a couple of pounds. Oh well.

I know that weight can fluctuate day to day, so who knows, I might be down to 201.3 again tomorrow. I’m trying to just focus on that week-over-week number and hopefully it will either stay the same or keep coming down!

Weekly Weigh-In: 204.6 lbs.

Because even with this number, I’ve lost fifteen pounds since January. So that’s nice.

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Goodbye August, Hello September!

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 | Posted under Monthly Check-In



Wow, what a crazy busy month August was! Did everyone have a good month? Here’s what I was up to:

In August, I… 

Saw a Tony-award winning show on my birthday. Erik surprised me with tickets to see Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis produced this summer. It was a little kooky and off-the-wall, but very funny. We had a good time!

Discovered I like yoga. As part of my 31 days of working out, I tried a few different classes and one of them was hot yoga. And I actually really like it! Unfortunately Erik and I looked at our budget and we can’t really afford all the classes that I tried out this month, so I will probably have to cut back on hot yoga. I want to focus on the Orangetheory because I think the strength training will do more for my overall fitness and weight loss. Plus there are a lot of yoga studios around that are cheaper than Modo Yoga, so I’ll probably just take a class or two a week as I have time and money.

Ate my first fried Twinkie on a stick. We made it to the State Fair! We were there for a few hours and it was a blast wandering around and trying different food on a stick. I’m looking forward to going again next year and trying the food we didn’t have space or money to try this year!

Met Jeff Galloway. Run N Fun hosted Jeff Galloway, a US Olympian and a popular running coach, this month! It was so great to hear from him and his thoughts on the run-walk method. It’s definitely something that I use while running. It’s nice to know that even someone as experienced as Jeff Galloway still allows himself to take breaks. I also met a couple of local running bloggers who came to the event, so that was really fun too!


In September, I will.. 

Attend a diabetes conference in Des Moines. A local D-friend and I are driving down to Des Moines at the end of the month to attend a diabetes conference. I know this is crazy, but Iowa has been on my to-visit list for ages. I have no idea why but I am absolutely fascinated with the idea of going to Iowa. I know I’m weird. I can admit that.

Do amazingly well in grad school. Definitely a big goal for this month and for this whole semester. I really want to rock grad school and maybe get all A’s! I really struggled with my science classes the last couple of years and now that I’m doing more social science stuff, I’m hoping I will enjoy the classes more and do better in them.

Run more. After my pitiful 10K on Monday, I really realized that I need to log a lot more miles than I have been. Right now I think I only go out two, maybe three days a week if I’m lucky. And that just isn’t enough if I really want to get better. I’ve pretty much plateaued and I need to do more if I want to better. (I know: duh.)

Enjoy cooler temperatures. I’m definitely a summer girl, but I do appreciate slightly cooler temperatures. It’s just been pretty humid lately and that’s made it hard to run. So I’m looking forward to the changing of the seasons, seeing what Minnesota is like in the fall, and anticipating the holiday season. Unfortunately I’m not a huge Pumpkin Spice Latte fan (not that I hate it, it just doesn’t speak to me), but I’m sure I’ll find other things to get giddy over.

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