kimberly askren

All in a week off… — June 30, 2015

All in a week off…

Well folks, after six years of school and a year of residency, I have been gifted some delightful time off!! Five weeks to be exact :) I’ve got some wonderful things planned for the next couple weeks, but already this past week or so has been AWESOME.

It started with moving which kind of SUCKS. Trev and I have now lived in four places in our almost five years together. With each move we realize how much more stuff we have amassed….

But with the moving came visits from Trevor’s parents, my dad and his wife, and then my mom. And that means lots of adventures in La Crosse, because I can’t pass up an opportunity to show off this amazing town.

Here is a list of my favorite (ALL) the things we have done since last Saturday–a guide for those of you who live in La Crosse and don’t make the most of it :) as well as an attempt to allure those of you who DON’T live here to come visit us!!

1) Four Sisters. First of all, YUM. Second of all–grilled cheese dippers. Did I say YUM yet?? We took the in-laws here and had an amazing time. I love this restaurant, and the food is to die for. I had a crab stuffed portobello mushroom and it was perhaps the most delicious meal I’ve ever had. They also had live music while we were there (which was basically just a guy with a guitar and a mic). I really enjoyed his folksy style, but I can’t say the same for the rest of my group (plus he was SO LOUD). My only complaint with Four Sisters is that our service is ALWAYS crummy. The only thing that stops me from making this a regular trip.

2) Pearl Street Ice Cream. We actually did this twice in the last couple weeks :) It’s kind of addictive…cappuccino oreo is my flavor of choice!

3) Polito’s Pizza–best place for a slice here in town. I had chicken bacon ranch and Trev let me try some of his steak and fries pizza. Also their garlic bites…yes please! Reminds me of Paul Revere’s and our time back on 31st street in DSM!

4) Farmer’s Market!! Took my mom and had my first trip at the Friday afternoon farmer’s market. We got handmade soap and lotion from a sweet lady from MN, and I got some delicious little tomatoes from a local organic farm. Also paid a visit to the people who bring me veggies every week (delivery comes today!!). They are seriously the sweetest. I just love farmer’s markets SO MUCH….all the fresh flowers and vegetables and sweet local people sharing their work with us!!

5) SHOPPING. but not the kind you think :) My mom and I went all over town looking at what most people would consider junk :)  We went to the Treehouse, Home Goods, Apefish & Co., Sequels Resale Shop, and Painted Porch. We also stopped by the Board Store. If you are a local and you need furniture, this is the place to go! They have the nicest stuff, the biggest selection, and the sweetest people. Can’t wait to get mine soon!!

6) Sushi Pirate!! Again, took my mom because the man doesn’t like sushi…but seriously, this place is fun (with rolls named Barbossa, On Stranger Tides and Blackbeard) and the sushi is really really good!

7) Old Crow. We actually did this one twice in the last week too…their burgers and fries are both incredible. The first time we went last week, we had their pretzel sticks and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. They were partly why I wanted to go back so badly…and the second time we went they were OUT. Very disappointing. But then I had the Ham and Havarti sandwich on a pretzel roll and it kind of made up for not having pretzel sticks. Just kind of.

8) Cabin Coffee. I don’t get to go to cabin coffee a lot because it’s in the middle of downtown and they have strange hours, but they have really good coffee drinks. I got one with “highly caffeinated white coffee” which is something I didn’t know existed but am very glad that it does!!

9) The Riv. Ever since my first time in La Crosse, I’ve wanted to check out the Rivoli. it’s a cute old theater and pizzeria that shows second run movies at a very low price. Every time we’ve thought about going, the movies or times just didn’t work out. Finally on Sunday, we were able to catch a showing of Avengers. The place was so much better than we expected. It’s huge and is seriously a full service restaurant. We had a great time, enjoyed the movie, and the pizza was better than we expected! We will definitely be going back :)

Is that all? Does it seem crazy that there are STILL lots of things in La Crosse that I hope to do in my next few weeks off?? Here’s to more adventures :)

This is not the end… — June 25, 2015

This is not the end…

Well hello again world! If you’re someone who regularly follows (followed?) my blog, you’re probably thinking I must have been hacked. Rest assured…it’s actually me. I know it has been AGES since I posted…but it has been one crazy year and let’s face it, it’s a lot harder to blog when no one is paying you to do it (true fact), AND I’m not exactly qualified for most of the things bloggers are blogging about nowadays….seriously, when did this become such a fad?? I don’t have amazing exercise or health tips, can’t give you fabulous mommy tips or life changing love advice (except for this one: marry your best friend and never stop adventuring together), and I’ll never pretend to have it all together.

But I do have one thing that I think might be able to keep this blog going (yeah you read that correctly–get excited!)

Here’s the thing: curiosity. It may have killed the cat, but it’s what keeps me going. I am LOVING all there is to explore here in La Crosse and as a real life pharmacist.

Which reminds me of why I’m actually writing this now. Yesterday I graduated for the LAST time. Not only am I a pharmacist, I am now officially a residency trained pharmacist. For those of you who are STILL wondering what that means, basically it means that I chose to take a year after graduating to pursue further education, practicing pharmacy while also digging my heels in to learn as much as possible and gain invaluable skills.

At graduation, our residency program director decided his little speech for each of us would be to reveal our hidden talents and say what we SHOULD be if this whole pharmacy thing doesn’t work out. He then proceeded to tell EVERYONE that I’m a blogger. This is something he discovered on his own…it never really came up in the interview so I didn’t mention it. Then later he brought it up and I was kind of shocked (apparently I’m still of the generation that forgets how easy it is to Google someone). Seeing as how I haven’t posted in months, I was once again shocked. My first thought when he said it was this: “well I WAS a blogger.” And then I got that little twinge you get when you’re reminded of something you love but have given up or lost…like those amazing dumplings I had in Taiwan. Sometimes smells mix together just right and I get that twinge of longing for just one taste!! Or driving past Gray’s Lake when I’m in Des Moines and remembering the long walks I used to take there with Trev when we were dating in high school…..

So here I am. I’m a pharmacist AND a blogger. AND even though I have nothing to blog about, I have SO MUCH to say!

This past week has been a whirlwind. I finished up my last day of work as a resident on Friday, rushed home to meet my in-laws (who were kind enough to come help us), went to our graduation party, moved all day Saturday, swapped out fathers on Father’s Day when my dad came into town, unpacking + furniture shopping, and finally, yesterday I graduated for the last time.

It’s bittersweet, having to say goodbye to a couple of co-residents while looking forward to staying on at Gundersen. This is an incredible place and I feel so fortunate to have ever been invited here, much less hired permanently. I get to work with some of the most amazing physicians and pharmacists in one of the best hospitals in the country, and the work we do here is so deeply rewarding.

Trevor and I have had many moments these past few days of just realizing that we live here now. Sometimes I just sigh and say it when I’m enjoying the fact that I now have a dishwasher and walk-in closet (spoiled). Sometimes it is in reference to the stunning sunset over the bluffs or the airplane landing overhead. Other times it’s because I’m telling someone we live on “the island” and I never in a million years thought THAT would be possible in the midwest.

Old Air Force plane landing right over us on our way home
a beautiful sunset view from the island

And often it’s because we don’t live in Iowa anymore. we live HERE now. We have to get new drivers’ licenses and license plates…which feels a little surreal.

But then our families come to visit and I’m reminded of how fun it is to play hostess and show people around what I now consider to be my city! Taking people to my favorite restaurants and showing them the scenery that made me fall in love with La Crosse is tons of fun. I still got to spend father’s day with BOTH of my awesome dads. My mom is coming up this weekend and I have a list of fun things we have to do! There is still so much more EXPLORING to do!

So even though residency ended this week, this is not the end.

This is just the beginning of the rest of my life. A life full of exploring….trying out all the food (and all the treadmills), finding all the best shops, uncovering the best views of the rivers and bluffs, and having a real non-student life with the husband.

In the meantime, I’ve got five weeks before I actually have to start working. I’ve made the most of it so far by cooking up a storm, starting to decorate our new place, rediscovering Zumba, and getting a nice sunburn reading outside. Stay tuned: I’ve got lots of adventures in the works and I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises :)

my cooking adventures :)

Happy to call La Crosse home!
Lamentations 3:22-23 — October 19, 2014

Lamentations 3:22-23

A few weeks ago, I was loving life. As you saw in my last post, life is awesome, we are healthy, and La Crosse is just beautiful right now. I had a staffing week at the hospital, which meant I didn’t have to be at work until 9 every day. Twas perfect…
Then suddenly I found myself beginning my surgery rotation which meant waking up before the sun, putting in CRAZY long hours, and just generally involved a LOT more stress than I had anticipated.

It was a tough week. Has been a tough COUPLE of weeks since.

Which is where the title of this post comes in. Lamentations is a pretty bleak book of the Bible. In it, the people of Israel are “lamenting” the destruction of Jerusalem. Basically, they REALLY screwed up and were paying for it big time. They cry out to God, telling him all their sorrows and begging for restoration. It’s obviously not a direct parallel (I don’t believe God is punishing me right now…), but a particular piece of this book has really been resonating with me lately:

Lamentations 3:22-23
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Amidst the stress and exhaustion of the past couple of weeks…I have had some pretty incredible moments. Watching summer turn into fall is extraordinary, and La Crosse has found a way to perfect it! I have been stunned by the striking colors, in my little neighborhood and in the surrounding hills and bluffs, along the river, and beneath my feet (I can’t help but crunch through them on my walks home). I got to watch this happen:

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AND being up before the sun gave me the opportunity to see the blood moon a couple weeks ago (how incredible was that??) and I even saw a FALLING STAR during my walk to work the other day. God is using so many things to remind me how BIG he is. What an amazing creator and fascinating creation :)

We found an apple orchard to try in the area, made friends with their adorable pup, and discovered our new favorite variety of apples: SweeTango (it’s the new honeycrisp….).

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One day I walked into work and found THIS at my desk! It is now pinned onto my wall next to the photos of all my favorite people that smile at me every day while I work.

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Last weekend, my mom and grandparents came to visit us. I COOKED for the two best cooks I know (no pressure…). I tell ya what, there is something so surreal about your grandmother walking into your house and saying it smells good because of what you’re cooking! During our visit, we explored some crazy antique/fun shops here. I fell in love with an adorable reindeer decoration and am now kind of excited for the Christmas season. I also found two more medicine bottles to add to my collection–one of which is a completely authentic 100 year old glass bottle with an imprint from an ACTUAL pharmacy in La Crosse!

Today I came home from work after a crazy busy day to see THIS waiting for me :) complete with whipped cream. He is amazing.

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I know some of these things are really simple, but the point is: life is happening all around you. HIS mercies are new every morning. Just the fact that I woke up today means it was supposed to happen. Today has a reason…a purpose. HIS purpose. I may be stressed and tired, but he gave me today for a reason and with all of these reminders, how can I possibly lament? Because of His great love we are not consumed.

Great is his faithfulness.

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Healthy Body. Healthy Mind. — October 18, 2014

Healthy Body. Healthy Mind.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time. Let’s be honest, I’ve been meaning to write a LOT of posts for a long time! Life is awesome, full of surprises these last few months….there have been numerous times when I’ve thought “I should really blog about this!” when visiting an orchard, trying a new restaurant, or after a weekend at home. But life goes on and it’s way more fun to LIVE it than to write about it :)

But this one…it’s been stirring in the back of my brain for quite some time. Tonight, after a super hot date night with my hubs, I decided I need to get it out.

Where was our date at, you may ask?

the gym.

the GYM

and at 7 on a Saturday night, we had the place all to ourselves :)

I don’t say this to brag, but there is just something really exciting about being HEALTHY. It’s awesome to look over and watch my husband loading more weights onto the bar….it’s even more awesome to watch him lift them ;) It was VERY exciting tonight when I finally hit my goal of running 5 miles in under 30 minutes.

That may not sound terribly impressive to you, but for me it’s a HUGE milestone.

Let me give you a little perspective…

I did NOT grow up as an active child. Little known fact about me: I never learned how to ride a bike. I didn’t enjoy running and was petrified of people seeing me work out.
In high school, I started dating Trev and as young kids with zero money, our favorite dates were our walks around Gray’s Lake. We went on SO MANY walks in the five years before we got married. Then life happened: I started pharmacy school, working two jobs alongside studying, and he was working sometimes 80+ hours a week because he is amazing. With no time or energy, we ate the poorest diet and never worked out. Those walks faded away….to top it off, Trev had a bum knee. I would press to go on a walk on a few occasions when we had time, but it wasn’t easy for him.

Life changed when we moved to La Crosse. One day, out of the blue, Trev said he wanted to join a gym. I was shocked and excited! I knew it would be SO good for us, just had to get over that fear of people watching me workout.

It didn’t take long. We went to the gym almost every day, lifting weights, getting some cardio in on the elliptical or whatever….and we started to feel BETTER.

We started to eat BETTER. I can’t remember the last time we ate a frozen meal (our staple during the college years…). We are cooking together, using FRESH food. We aren’t those crazy overboard all natural, all organic people (because hey, I’m a resident–working resident HOURS and making resident PAY), but still we have come a long way.

I AM a doctor, but I have zero qualifications for giving anyone advice on anything health or fitness related (except medicine of course…), so I won’t pretend that I have some groundbreaking secret to making it work. It takes a lot of discipline for us to work out and it’s still not something we always LOVE. This week I worked the most hours I’ve worked during residency thus far and even had a near-meltdown Friday so it would have been MUCH more enjoyable to just lay on the couch catching up on the Mindy Project rather than going to the gym tonight . But here are some of the awesome things I’ve noticed since we started going to the gym.

1) Trev’s knee feels better. MOVING (and losing weight…I’m seriously so proud of this man) has made all the difference and I haven’t heard him complain about his knee in a couple of months.

2) People don’t go to the gym to watch YOU workout. And yes, I have seen people looking at me through the idiotic mirror they have along the wall (seriously, WHOSE IDEA WAS THAT???), but who cares? I go there for me–not them. And more often than not, I actually catch people check themselves out (while I’m looking at them…yeah isn’t that great logic?)

3) We encourage each other a lot more. Going together has brought us closer for sure. I’ve honestly really been struggling with the numbers. Trev has lost weight….since we started going, I’ve actually GAINED weight. But hearing him tell me I’m beautiful and noticing my new muscles has been huge for me.

4) I’m learning to IGNORE those numbers and pay more attention to what my body is telling me. Which is THANK YOU. I feel so much better physically on so many levels. The other day I picked up three renal bags (which are 5 liters each) with one hand and totally scared the IV tech but I HAD it. Anyway, it just feels good to be in this body, which I haven’t felt in a long time. And trust me, I haven’t SEEN dramatic differences (aside from a slight hint of a six pack which I can’t wait for and a nice bulge in my thighs that has made all of my pants tighter…)

5) My body feels better….and so does my MIND. Pharmacy school was hard. I struggled a lot emotionally through school, for a variety of reasons, but mostly just stress. Let me tell you, that stress did NOT go away after graduation…now I’m a resident working crazy hours, learning SO MUCH, working on four projects at once, and also trying to somehow TEACH students. Life is crazy, but somehow it’s better. I’m sure it’s a combination of all the things: better diet, more exercise, and quality time with the love of my life.

But the point is, I full believe that a healthier body=a healthier mind. Treating yourself right is a powerful thing.

Coffee Date with my love! — September 11, 2014

Coffee Date with my love!

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Today it was 50 degrees in la crosse….fall is officially starting! To celebrate, Trev and I found a coffee shop and enjoyed a nice little date :) the coffee was delish and the atmosphere of this place was really sweet. It was cute and retro and a little funky…so basically the perfect coffee shop! If I had to rate Moka…with 1 being just ok and 82 being awesome….I’d give it 4 stars.

Perfect way to kick off fall weather!!

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