Saturday, November 12, 2016


The moment is finally here…well it WILL be here, officially on Tuesday, November 15th. Mario’s Sports Bar and Grill will finally open in Creston, Iowa!

I could not be happier or more proud of my brother, Mario and his business associate, Austin.

Austin (left) & Mario (right)

It reminds me of our high school days when I was a wrestling cheerleader and I was one of my brother’s biggest fans. But now, this isn’t high school and this isn’t wrestling…it’s real life and yet I’m still in awe of his amazing work ethic and ability to wear a smile no matter what. He is an incredible brother, son, uncle and most importantly, DAD!

Mario and I

I would like to add I grew up with five [amazing] older brothers (this is the part where you say to yourself, “oh my gosh, what was that like”). It was something, let me tell ya-but it was also pretty special too. I had five, immediately built in friendships from people I knew would always be there for me.

Anyway-back to this grand opening thing…let me introduce you to the Owner, Mario Galanakis and General Manager, Austin Swagel.

Mario, is of course, from Greenfield, Iowa, graduated high school from Nodaway Valley and then from the University of Iowa…where he also wrestled. Mario grew up in the restaurant business where he started cooking, waiting tables and washing dishes at just the young age of 10. How is that legal you ask? Well, apparently you didn’t grow up with parents who ran a Greek restaurant; The Old Hotel (now called the Olive Branch) in Greenfield, Iowa.

Not that they mistreated us, no, everyone just works together…like a family. We wanted to be there. It was our home, daycare and business. The whole establishment is a team effort…which is just what Mario and Austin plan to do with their sports bar and grill.

“I waited tables, I cooked, I bussed, I did a lot of dishes, so I’ve seen it all and have done it all. Having that experience meant a lot and a lot of people never had it when trying something like this.” Mario said, “I was really lucky that mom and dad taught us to always earn what you get…ya gotta work for it.”

So, how did two best friends who lived states away from each other decide to open a business you ask? Well from the very two things that brought them together in the first place…a restaurant and sports. Austin [also a graduate of Nodaway Valley] worked at our parent’s restaurant in high school and he was no stranger to the sports events that were constantly taking place at the “Galanakis Ranch.”

“Our vision for this place is sports. At the end of the day, everything we do, whether it’s volleyball in the back yard, playing cards or ping pong at 6am all night long, it was always about sports or some competition.” Austin said. “Growing up, working in the Old Hotel under John and Joni, customer service was always a top priority and the overall customer experience.”

So why would someone leave a nice, corporate job to run a restaurant/bar in small town Iowa? For nothing more than the good ole’ call of entrepreneurship, well and friendship, of course. It’s true what they say “hard times always reveal true friends.” And instead of allowing a few setbacks in his life to break him, Mario decided to do something he’d always wanted to do, open a restaurant.

“I’ve always wanted to do this but being that I worked on the railroad and made good money for my family, that’s just what I did.” Mario said.

Mario Galanakis - owner

After the two would talk back and forth about how they were tired of their jobs, it just clicked to them-let’s do this…it’s now or never. Just like in sports, you just try your best and go for it.

“I knew I needed someone to help, being that I had the girls and I wanted someone I could trust and rely on and someone who was responsible. Whenever Austin and I would talk, we'd talk about his job and about how it was getting too easy and that he wanted another challenge. Well, what is a better challenge than running your own business?” Mario said.

So here they are…

Mario’s Sports Bar and Grill plans to be open:

Sunday-Thursday 11am-10pm
Friday-Sat 11am-2am

And what kind of food can you expect to be served? Well for starters, they will offer the same infamous “Super Salads” and “Gyros” that the Olive Branch in Greenfield offers along with the classic salads, wings, sandwiches, burgers and more.

“We’re just excited to bring something different to the community. There’s a lot of people I’ve talked to that have said Creston has needed something like this for a long time and I’ve always thought that too.” Mario said.

The difference is that Mario’s Sports Bar and Grill features 15 flat screen tvs, two pool tables, a juke box, foosball and shuffleboard is on the way! They also plan to offer events such as trivia games and “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” night.

“Our atmosphere is different. There’s nowhere else to go like this with your family, friends or whoever. Come in, sit down, enjoy a good meal with entertainment.” Mario said.

So if you’re looking for something fun to do and grab a great bite to eat, you know where to go! Also don’t forget that they are still hiring…so feel free to ask for an application.

To stay updated with them, be sure to check out their Facebook Page:
Questions: Call (641) 278-1427 or Email

So proud of you Mario and Austin…we wish you so much success. And thank you to everyone who has helped them so much…mom, dad, our brothers, my husband, friends and anyone else-I know they have appreciated it. I also have to give a shout out to my husband, he designed the logo and various artwork you see featured through out the bar/restaurant. Can't wait to show you all the mural he painted inside as well! 

And don’t forget, it’s a FAMILY restaurant, so bring the kids. Trust me, how else do you think I was able to write this post and be a work from home mom!? I can’t promise your kids will get to ride the bus cart like mine did, but they will have fun!

Uncle Mario with our littles

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Let's all laugh a little more...

In a world full only bad news stories in what seems like constantly, I wanted to share with you all a little incident from 'my world' yesterday. 

I don't usually take naps unless I'm extremely tired and yesterday was one of those days. I had just laid my two year old down for a nap when I thought, "wow, the couch looks really comfortable right now..."

My 4 year old was busy coloring right next to me, so I thought, I'll just rest my head for a bit. I could hear her busy in her craft, so I wasn't full on sleeping but boy did it feel restful! If you're a parent, you'll understand what I mean have found a way to sleep but you still can hear your kid(s) and every other noise for that matter.

I soon was awoken by the sound of scissors cutting and felt something on my head...yes she had cut my hair!

trying to work with what I got today...

the evidence

I immediately jumped up and asked "Why would you do that!?" That's when she pointed to the dolls, those creepy, creepy dolls who were staring back at me on the television stand.

"I was making elf hats for them and I was going to ask you for help but you were sleeping and I wanted to see what it was like to cut hair." she said. Ugh...what!? By the way, the dolls reminded me of something out of a "Chucky" movie...

Not sure which was scarier, my hair cut or these dolls...

OK, so cue the mom shame and judgments here..."why did she have scissors? Did you spank her a** hard!?" What we did for discipline is our business but honestly (not that I let her know this) it just made me a laugh and thank God for being alive and being a mommy. Judge me...but I know my kid, she didn't do this to be malicious, she wasn't trying to hurt me. She knows what she did was wrong, she's sorry, I don't remind her of it every time I look in the mirror at this awful hair cut but it did give me some perspective. I know people who have to walk through life with absolutely no hair on their head due to cancer, or part of their face missing because of their service in war time or a terrible accident. A few cut hairs didn't really get me too bent out of shape. 

I ended up sharing this on my Instagram and the hilarious responses prompted me to write on my blog and share it with more people. My aunt called me after seeing the picture below and literally could not talk because she was laughing so hard. I LOVE making people laugh and I love to laugh, because again, I sometimes find myself almost getting depressed about all the terrible news stories I read. Oh and I also decided to blog because right now while my two year old naps, I'm going to go ahead and NOT take a rest today-haha!

I also was secretly really freaking impressed by those elf hats. I love her creativity and her sense of wonder; I love her.

So anyway, I'm going to go ahead and write this in her baby book, sneak in her room the night before prom in about 13 years and cut her hair...just kidding, but seriously, have a laugh at these photos.

Have a blessed day and remember, don't sweat the small stuff!

what I woke up to from my nap...

Thursday, August 18, 2016


There are many things I love in this world. Besides God, a few of them are my children, family, friends, coffee, wine and I really, really LOVE small businesses and entrepreneurship. I'm such a cheerleader for people doing what they love with such passion. I also really love to write, especially when I'm so inspired...or actually find the time to do so! ;)

I wanted to share with you all a story I wrote about an exciting new journey my brother, Mario, is about to begin. I plan on doing a follow up story detailing the plans of his new business, so stay tuned. Please enjoy and feel free to share. Best of luck to you Mario, you know I'm behind you 100% and congratulations Danny on your retirement. It's funny, I will actually kind of miss that buffalo head, even though it scared the crap out of me when I was a kid!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Wow, what a difference a year makes, huh? I'm so happy to say that Indie has made it a whole year with out another seizure and I sure hope things stay this way.

It was a year ago today when she had a bad stomach virus with a fever and ended up seizing for over an hour. She was life-flighted to Mercy Hospital after doctors and nurses couldn't get her to come out of it. Five days later, her little brother, Michael was born. Needless to say, it was a very stressful time in our lives and I try not to let this event consume me but it's something I struggle with every, single day. I always say, I hope this was the scariest day of our lives! But deep down I know that nothing is ever guaranteed and I try to love and appreciate all of my loved ones every chance I get; especially my children.

I thought I'd share a picture of her on July 4th, 2014 (left) and today, July 4th, 2015 (right). I actually didn't know this picture of her in the hospital existed. I didn't have any myself and of course in a time of crisis, I didn't even think to grab my phone that day. I also didn't ever want to see her that way again, so I never took any pictures. A few months later I remember telling my husband, "I don't have any pictures of Indie in the hospital," to which he showed me this. It still sends chills through my body and is hard for me to look at, but then I see how far she has come, and she makes me so proud! She finally got to enjoy a 4th of July parade, today. Ironically, for being named Independence, she had always been sick on this holiday and wasn't able to enjoy it.

Independence on July 4, 2014 (left) & July 4, 2015 (right).

 I also wanted to take this time to say thank you to everyone who has prayed for our family; people we don't even know. The power of prayer is amazing and we appreciate you more than you will ever imagine. Please continue to pray for us! Also, thank you to my very close friends and family; we wouldn't have made it with out you.

I hope we can keep taking steps forward into the right direction. Next, we get to start planing our little man's FIRST Birthday Party! :)

God Bless and we hope you all have a fun and safe Fourth Of July weekend! And of course, THANK YOU Veterans, past and present for our freedoms we enjoy!

The Sorensens

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Faith, Hope, Love

Everyone has seen the “hand picture” that a family often takes, especially when a new little one comes along. The family puts their hands together and it’s neat to see such an itty-bitty baby hand next to the full-grown adult hand.

Well, I had to snap this shot for our family, because it represents so much to us. It’s not perfect, in fact it’s far from it and that’s what I love about it. It shows so much strength and unity for us and reminds me of the realities in life; scary and bad things happen and there’s not a damn thing we can do about them. But we usually don’t have to go through it alone, we have our loved ones that are right there with us and that is actually the miracle of life.

Now I preach this but it’s something I’m struggling with daily. I’m still terrified about the fact that my daughter seized for an hour. I’m angry that I don’t really know why it happened or if it will happen again. All I know is that I can only choose happiness and to enjoy and love my family each and every day. To be thankful for all that we’re given and to embrace those moments that we often look past, me included.

In this picture you will see my hand with a hospital bracelet from giving birth to our son, Michael and his little hand with a bracelet as well. You’ll also see my husband’s hand for being the father and oh my, does he earn that title completely. He’s always there for us and making sure we have everything we need. He’s made every doctor appointment for our daughter since this whole scary ordeal and did a lot of running back in forth between taking care of her while still being there for Michael and I as I was in labor. And then you will also see our two-year-old daughter, Independence’s hand in her father's. She has a hospital bracelet due to the fact that she had to have an EEG two days after I gave birth, and five days earlier she was taken by life flight and hospitalized.

So you see, I’m going to print and frame this picture rather than just another dressed up photo of us forcing smiles as we beg our kids to look at the camera. It’s not the prettiest photo and it was very stressful and inconvenient at the time but it’s so genuine. I will hold this picture close to my heart and remember it as a scary time yes, but also a time of faith and belief in trusting the Lord. A time when I was shown true love from the ones who mean most to me and a time of when I had no other choice but to take one day at a time. I hope this picture will serve as a daily reminder to us that life is so precious, that anything can happen at any time and that the most important thing is our family, next to God.

"Always kiss your children goodnight, even if they are already asleep." 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The 2014 Iowa Freedom Rock® Tour Kickoff & New Beginnings

Well, it's certainly that time of year again! I am super excited to begin the 2nd year of the Iowa Freedom Rock® Tour. This year we kicked off the tour in Audubon County | Kimballton, Iowa.

Bubba had to fight some extreme weather (which usually happens with the first county or two...after all it's IOWA!) so we don't yet have completed pictures as a tent was around him the entire time. But once we get those I'll definitely post them.

I do however have some "in action" photos of Bubba completing the Audubon County rock and our daughter "helping" him out.

Here's another shot of Bubba painting; I'm just always so amazed to watch him work. I love his facial expression and the way it seems so calming and peaceful while the artwork flows from his brush. I certainly wish I had the patience to paint, but for now I'll just be my "click crazy" self with the camera!

Bubba painting the Audubon County | Kimballton Freedom Rock®
The beginning of this year also brought a big change for our business, Sorensen Studios. First of all, we are no longer offering photography services at this time. Because of the popularity of the Iowa Freedom Rock® Tour, we have decided to focus fully on this project. With booking over half of the state of Iowa for a "Freedom Rock®" and scheduling into the 2019 year, we really want to concentrate on finishing the Tour and being available to our clients. I'm sure we will always "keep our feet wet" in photography, but for now I guess it will just be a hobby.

Another big change for us is our location. Since 2008 we have been located and operating at the intersection of highways 92 and 25 in Greenfield, Iowa. We have recently moved from this location. The Freedom Rock® Tour has us traveling a lot and we are unable to be at the studio for over half of the year. I guess you could say Bubba' studio is actually across the great state of Iowa! 

It was definitely a bitter sweet change for us as we first opened our doors at this location and have been there for the last six years but we know it's best for us and our business. 

I stumbled across some old pictures from when we first purchased the building and began remodeling what was once an old gas station. We have a lot of memories there that we'll never forget but we are very hopeful for the future of Sorensen Studios. Thank you to everyone who ever stopped by and supported us along the way!

Please remember that you can still contact us at our same number and email:

641.343.7110 |

Sorensen Studios | 2008

Sorensen Studios | 2014

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mural at the VA Clinic in Carroll, Iowa

Bubba recently completed a mural at the VA Clinic in Carroll, Iowa. Here is a before and after picture along with his explanation of the whole process:

I was approached a couple years ago to paint a #mural in the VA Clinic in Carroll, Iowa and we were finally able to make it a reality. There was funding in part from the Ralph Neppel (Medal of Honor recipient) family and he is the focus of the mural. I attached a before/after pic and you can listen to a description of the thought process on the mural at the link below...

On a personal note, I wanted to share a few pictures I snapped at the mural dedication. Indie and I were able to attend and see it in person; very beautiful! Bubba pointed out our "hidden love notes" in the painting and it was funny to see so many people notice it as well. We are two blessed girls to have him in our life and are very proud of him. Thanks, babe!

Bubba and Indie in front of the Carroll VA Clinic mural.

Indie & I's hidden love note in the mural.