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Winter Update!

Hello friends!  Whew!  Is December really almost gone?  I feel like we say it all the time, but time really does fly.  I wanted to update you all on our December happenings, so today you get a compilation post of everything from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  We’ll leave New Years for a separate post since we have a fun night planned on New Years Eve with some new events we haven’t tried before and will want to fill you in on how they went.  Let’s just say, country line dancing in high heels may be in my near future! Not sure if you’ll get a photo of that….Eek!

 

Anyway, we kicked off Thanksgiving with a drive through the Jolly Holiday Lights.  We had a feeling it would be pretty busy this season with it being at the new location at Adventureland in Altoona and we wanted to make sure we got it in, so we went early in the season.  This turned out to be a good plan because there were upwards of 2 hour waits closer to Christmas! So awesome to see such a great charity event doing well!  Hope you made it to Altoona to see them this year!  If you didn’t, get there early next year!

 

We spent a lovely Thanksgiving here at home with lots of family.  Cooking a turkey with all the fixins’ makes me not want to cook ever again.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally satisfying to occasionally cook a meal that everyone enjoys, but, there is a reason I blog about restaurants.

Anywho, we also got in another annual tradition of going to the Festival of Trees.  The kids love the scavenger hunt and I love me a good silent auction.

 

 

The kids did a super fun painting class with El Arte Uncorked at Cupcake Addict in Johnston (yummy cupcakes) where they got to paint a holiday penguin and eat a cupcake.  One woman even brought wine and cheese for the adults to snack on while the kids painted!  So fun. Check out their future classes at www.elarteuncorked.com.  As you can see, Nathan nailed his painting.  Just kidding….sort of.  The instructors do such a good job of walking the kids (and adults for the adult classes) through the steps that it’s ALMOST foolproof that you’ll walk away with a masterpiece…..unless you are related to me apparently.

 

 

The next week brought the opening of the much anticipated Hurts Donuts in West Glen Town Center in West Des Moines. This place is awesome!  You can watch them making donuts and they are definitely the most unique donuts around since the closing of Djonuts. The prices were reasonable and the donuts are huge!  You can also get donut milkshakes which we will try on our next visit.

 

 

We also had a great time hosting our annual Ugly Sweater Party!  Maybe some day I’ll dedicate a post to all things Ugly Sweater Party and give you some tips for hosting your own.  But for now, I’ll leave you with some hints…Don’t forget the candy cane shots, photographer (so you can be in the photos. Hiring a family member who wants to earn $50 will do the trick.), prizes for sweater categories, and tacky food.  Fun times.

 
We were able to get in a couple of our favorite restaurants when we didn’t feel like cooking.  I dream about Woody’s ribs often, so I was happy to get my fill.  We celebrated my Mom’s birthday this month with some Hu Hot. And we made sure to get a few Winter White Cosmos from Bonefish Grill.

 

We also can’t forget to give a shout out to our Christmas Eve tradition of eating Chinese food and having a flaming volcano at Shanghai in Waukee.

 

Our month of holiday bliss was only thwarted with one unfortunate ER trip for Nathan.  Note to self: 9 year olds who
are working on their whittling badge for cub scouts shouldn’t be given a knife after 9pm.  And that’s all we’ll say about that. Whomp whomp.

 

So!  I think that about sums up our holiday season. All-in-all, a successful year.  Lots of life changes changes for us, but we are all happy and healthy (aside from the 4 stitches in the thumb) and looking forward to 2017.

 

Thanks for reading! Wishing you a wonderful New Year!

DSM Social Club-Culinary Loft

4d8798b1-a361-4988-8e82-85fb67a122cb 1a81678b-f762-4fe6-a410-28b65b1ecf3cWe had a great time last week checking out our first class at the new(ish) Culinary Loft at the Des Moines Social Club.  The Culinary loft was specifically designed with the intention of hosting cooking classes and other food related workshops on the second floor of the Des Moines Social club.

The particular class we chose to attend was was a”South of The Border” class, and it was delicious! It was focused more on the fun of cooking a recipe together with your new friends (the other class attendees) and then sharing a meal together, then leaning about certain cooking techniques.  So it definitely helped break the ice when they broke out the endless wine right away.

9c62248a-8e20-4da5-bb72-ef881d33991f7873bf32-085f-4ada-b5aa-9e05efe3ec53After getting acquainted, we broke into groups and each group followed a recipe to prepare a course of the meal, and then we all got together to chow down.  Our class instructor came around to help with questions and give us tips. Some of the items we prepared were flank steak, beef stew, empanadas, and dulce de leche cookies.  Everything was delicious and a little more special because it was prepared with love…awwww.

They offer adult and children’s cooking classes at the loft in addition to all of the other great programing at the social club.  If you’re looking for something new and fun to try to spice up your date-nights or a new activity for you or your 4a484dd6-002d-4db7-82ed-80395abfd2ddkid to do, check out the programing at the social club (including 73770f0d-a8c4-4607-b374-ee4ee3cc991bcooking classes at the loft)!

Summer Update!

Oh. My. Word.

 

How did the summer get by so quickly!?

 

I figured the best way to update on all the stuff going on was a big, long, chock-full of info blog post.

 

IMG_7341SO…..school! the past few weeks were being spent getting this guy ready and sent off to another year of school.  But of course in between were many nights of Pokemon-ing, working the day job, radio show-ing and visiting fun places and restaurants in the metro, and as far as the Bahamas!

 

First, I started utilizing my skillz at this most amazing Social Media Strategy Company called Think Digital.  If you’re reading this blog and have a business.  You definitelty want to check us out:  ThinkDigital.co.  There’s even a most awesome bio section where you can read about…me!  So, that’s been filling my days…..

 

IMG_6858Let’s go back a bit….  My Bostonian family visited from….Boston.  Of course we hit the Des Moines staples like The Machine Shed/Living History Farms and The IMG_6953Science Center and what’s a visit to Iowa without some Iowa Beef? Our restaurant of choice this visit was Rubes Waukee for some cook-your-own. Annnnnddd……We took them to the fair.  Rick had his first egg-on-a-stick!  I know!  Who has lived their whole life in Iowa and has never eaten an egg on a stick?!  We hit the Adel Sweet Corn Festival of course too!

 

 

 

Anyway…

IMG_6786IMG_6814We also celebrated Rick’s B-day with a Justice League Birthday Party! Can you imagine living forty-something years of life without ever having a super hero birthday party?!  My birthday was a surprise on one of Des Moines’ most romantic…Baru 66…..<hearts>.  He’s a keeper. Oh and my first visit to Juniper Moon!  If you haven’t checked it out yet…https://www.facebook.com/JuniperMoonDM/

 

IMG_7390Now, some new places we’ve visited!  5 Borough’s Bagel http://www.5boroughbagels.com/.  This is a little pice of New York right down the street in Clive. GREAT bagels and unique cream cheese flavors.  Check em out near the Club Car (Which is a Pokestop BTW).

 

 

 

We got to the Grand Opening of IMG_7402Black Cat Ice Cream!  This is a little Hole in The IMG_7411Wall where…well The Hole in the Wall restaurant used to be, right next to The Gas Lamp (also a Pokestop) and a fantastic move to open up right near the Sculpture Park mid-Pokemon craze. https://www.facebook.com/desmoinesicecream/

 

IMG_6981IIMG_7150n between all this we went on a cruise.  If you ever need cruise advice, I’m your girl….the highlight of this cruise was swimming with the stingrays. This was my 10th Royal Caribbean Cruise Cruise Line. But, I have to say, a Disney cruise is in our
IMG_7107future for the next.  Hit up my awesome friend Angie from Kingdom Konsultant Travel if you ever want to book one.  She’s the Disney expert (e-mail her at Angie@KingdomKonsultants.com).  https://www.facebook.com/KingdomKonsultantTravel/?pnref=lhc

 

IMG_7397Ok….So all of this eating….I neeeeed to workout.  But who has time!?  I started the most incredible workout regimen.  It’s called The Exercise Coach.  It’s in West Des Moines right by Mahalo’s Coffee.  I know…It takes all of my strength to walk by…BUT, if you’re pressed for time…try The Exercise Coach.  You get the results of an hour workout in just 20 minutes.  Yes! No joke, these machines work your muscles in just two, 20 minute sessions a week!  IMG_7382That’s it, an actual workout you can get done on your lunch break!  I’m not kidding. Why did I sweat it out at the gym for hours a week when I can do this?  Your first four sessions are free! So tell them I sent you and go in today! https://www.facebook.com/The-Exercise-Coach-West-Des-Moines-411103179036885/
OK, more restaurants…..We tried out Gilroy’s finally!  http://gilroyskitchen.com/. Good stuff, great happy hour. IMG_6774Check them IMG_6775out. This may be the restaurant that stays in the spot where other restaurants have gone to die!

 

 

 

IMG_7279Alrighty…So, now that I’ve taken a break from driving the family around to collect fake creatures, I gave you all an update! Yay!  We haven’t just been playing Pokemon.  We’ve been DOMINATING Pokemon Go. I just hit level 31. Yes. I know. I’m ridiculous.  So ridiculous that we were just interviewed for Clive Living Magazine.  Look for our interview and photos in the next edition!

 

 

IMG_6762And you can probably find us at Pokemon League or a tournament at the happiest place on earth, Mayhem Comics, or sporting our Pokemon hats, made by local knitter (who happens to me by mom), Kritter Knits and More.

 

IMG_7420https://www.facebook.com/KritterKnitsMore/ Message or e-mail to order one!

 

OK!  I think that’s enough updating for today!

 

I’ll be back!

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Seven Oaks

After an extended fall it looks like our typical 6 month Iowa winter may be commuted to 5 months this year! I can’t say I love winter, but if we have to have it, we might as well get outside and enjoy it. Seven Oaks near Boone can help your family do just that. This post is my experience from last year, but now that the snow is flying I hope to get back there soon.

Des Moines West KOA Campgrounds

  • 11822595_10155775421530276_305396095776325933_n 11855914_10155778859725276_316108836266903677_nFor our last little get-away before school starts up again for the year, we decided to try our hand at camping.  I searched the internet for places close by and the one that had the best reviews was the Des Moines WEST KOA Campgrounds in Adel,  just about 30 minutes from Des Moines. Now, I went to summer camp when I was ten-ish, but tent-camping and cooking on a fire are concepts this city-girl never thought she’d try.  While they offer spaces for tents as well and RVs and some luxury cabins, we didn’t want to get too crazy, so we thought we’d try a cabin (we thought we were really roughing it since this particular cabin had a restroom, but no shower) and still cook over the fire on the included fire pit.

11822862_10155778859085276_3538571278179325348_n We seriously thought we were in for a weekend of fishing and reading and relaxation (aka, my kid thought there would be nothing to do).  Our 7 year old brought a friend because he thought he’d be so bored and would spend the weekend playing games on the iPad because there would be not much to do.  Little did we know how cool the KOA campground was going to be!

11822386_10155778860360276_3999773148979080721_nWe checked in and were handed a schedule of weekend activities.  Apparently each weekend is themed and includes a ton of fun events!  We happened to be there on “Chocolate Lovers” weekend, so activities included a chocolate slip n’ slide, chocolate chip cookie eating contest, chocolate wrestling, chocolate bingo and more.  Seriously, we didn’t even have to entertain the kids because they were so busy doing these scheduled activities along with jumping on the giant jumping pillow, swimming in the heated pool and playing on the playground.

11796306_10155775510695276_4096193437008938558_nUmm….our weekend of roughing it, turned into a weekend of staying in a beautiful air-conditioned (and heated in the winter) cabin with a big screen tv, tons of structured activities and even wine tasting in the awesome store.  The store was very impressive!  Lots of essentials that you might need for your trip like jiffy pop, bread, wine, cheese and pool supplies, etc. that you may have forgotten and they even have a pizza shop…wait for it….that will DELIVER to your cabin.

11855670_10155778859980276_8374139921515243690_nI’ve never had more fun camping….ok, maybe we’ve only been camping at the zoo and with the boy scouts….but still! You wouldn’t get the impression that they offer so much from the website.  This place was immaculate, the staff was super nice and helpful and the amenities were amazing.  I can’t wait to go back!  You can check out the list of themes for each weekend by checking out their Facebook page here (the Halloween weekends look particularly fun).

11050254_10155778860575276_2135417549163315607_nWe still feel like we got all of the fun camping experiences like cooking our meals over the fire (ok, maybe we used the included gas grill for some of the meals), s’mores, fishing and outdoor activities, but with a lot of the modern conveniences available.

If you are new to camping and want the perfect spot to try it out or if you are a seasoned camper that just wants to enjoy clean, fun ad convenient facilities, check out KOA!  This particular KOA site is family owned and operated, affordable, close to DSM and super fun.  It’s our new favorite place to go for a fun, inexpensive, closer to home get-away.

The Dinner Detective

IMG_0754What do you get for the guy who has his Birthday, Wedding Anniversary and Father’s Day all in a matter of a few weeks?  Well, a Murder Mystery Dinner apparently!

I had got word that these 3 hour events were taking place at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Des Moines a few months ago and knew we needed to give it a shot.

IMG_0753The current calendar has a show scheduled every Saturday evening from 6-9pm.  $59.99 includes dinner and the show.  You can pay extra for packages that include t-shirts, coffee mugs and even chances to be a part of the show.

Dinner is a salad, choice of chicken, pork or a vegetation option with potatoes and vegetables and cheesecake dessert.  They also have some passed hors d’oeuvres as you are seated.  The meal was pretty typical of what you’d expect at a wedding reception at a hotel.  It was good, but I wouldn’t come specifically for dinner.  There was also a cash bar available.

The show was a good mix of funny and “who dun it?”.  I won’t give too much away from what happened during the show, but instruction are provided right away and it isn’t to hard to figure out what’s going on as soon as you begin.  There is a lot of role play involved, even on the part of the guests.  Every guest is a suspect since the real actors are actually seated among the guests and not revealed until the end of the game.  There are prices for those who can guess the murderer correctly.  The best players were definitely the ones who weren’t afraid to mingle and ask questions of other “suspects”.

IMG_0752All-in-all, a fun evening.  We went as a couple by ourselves, but were surprised when we met another couple we knew there and they happened to be seated at our table.  It definitely upped the fun factor to have friends along, but would have been enjoyable had we been just the two of us as well.

I would definitely recommend trying this at least once.  According to their website, the company is based out of Los Angeles and have a number of casts nationwide, but use local actors for the shows.  They periodically change the theme of the show, so it could very well be a different show on another visit.  Guests must be over 18 and no shorts or printed t-shirts are allowed.  One guy showed up in shorts to our event, but they let him stay because he came two hours to see the show and blamed not knowing about the dress code on his wife.

They also do private events for groups for birthdays, etc.  I think that would be really fun to have a group of all friends as well.

All of the menus, calendars and info is on their website. Check it out! http://www.thedinnerdetective.com/des-moines/

 

Little Morocco

IMG_4739 IMG_4742Sooo…..You know how you move (even if just across town) and things get all disheveled and you get stressed out and you let things slip…. Well, I did that with my write-up about Little Morocco.  So I’m making it up to you right now!

It’s a good time to tell you about them actually, if you haven’t already heard, because they are just starting back up with the Downtown Farmer’s market for the season.  You can see them mostly every Saturday at the market to enjoy their fresh-baked goods.

IMG_4746 IMG_4757But, if you get a chance to attend one of their pop-up dinners, it’s a real treat.  I’m keeping my finger’s crossed for an announcement that they are opening their own restaurant soon, but for now, they are doing pop-up dinners.  Past locations have been at Red’s China Bistro and the Riverwalk Hub.  Basically, they are a restaurant for an evening and they roll out the red carpet for their guests.  They limit the attendees so that really gives you an intimate setting to enjoy your meal.  3-course meals complete with tea and dessert all cooked and served by the lovely owners Taoufik Essaidi and Jenna Irving.  The cost was just $30/pp.  I did notice the one they hosted last month that the price was $35/pp, but a great price either way.

IMG_4762At the pop-up dinner we attended we enjoyed fresh-baked bread, a first course of a salad trio including zucchini zalouk, roasted red pepper chechouka and herb salad, a second course of chicken tagine and a dessert trio of Moroccan raib with dates (think custard), honey cake and roasted plumbs.  Everything was fantastic.

Keep an eye on their Facebook page for the next pop-up dinner and make sure to make your reservation right away when you see it because they fill up fast!

 

Rustique Ranch

get-attachment-16.aspx get-attachment.aspxMeet our newest sponsors: The Rustique Ranch!  We’ll go ahead an explain!

Rustique Ranch is in its 3rd year. It has grown each year. The 1st year there were 2 shows, 2nd year 3 shows and this year they will have 5 shows! The first 2 years were run by Tammy and Brad Berry. Kathy and Judy (a librarian and teacher by day and Junkers by night) took it over this year and it’s going to be better than ever.

Basically Rustique Ranch is a Flea & Vintage Marketplace with Awesome Antiques, Repurposed Retro, Soulful Salvage & Funky Flea Market Finds.

The location is:

33240 Ute Ave Waukee
I-80 Exit 117 Booneville/Waukee

get-attachment-18.aspxThe dates for the events are:

May 9th and 10th
June 6th and 7th
July 11th and 12th
August 8th and 9th
get-attachment-11.aspxSeptember 12th ad 13th

Saturdays 9am -5pm AND
Sundays 9am – 4pm

$5 vehicle admission – fill your car with family
and friends and come on out!

Check them out on Facebook!

 

The Lion King

IMG_6395-1IMG_6398Having just returned from a week in Disney World (literally just returned less than 24 hours ago), with the “Disney Magic” still very fresh in our minds, I didn’t have huge expectations for The Lion King at the Civic Center tonight.  I had never seen this production of The Lion King and just wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had heard great reviews, but thought maybe it was because it was popular with the kids.  What do I know?!

Well, Des Moines Performing Arts did not disappoint with this one.  My seven-year old was mesmerized throughout this whole show, and so was I!  The costumes were just amazing.  At times I actually forgot that the cast was human and not in fact the animals they were portraying.

IMG_6393Because the storyline followed the movie so closely, it was fun to watch with my seven-year old because he was so into the story and knew how it was unfolding.  I felt like this was a great age of child to bring to this performance.  There were a few younger children around us and it was hit or miss whether it kept their full attention throughout the whole show, but it may have had to do with the fact that this particular showing didn’t start til 7:30pm and ended at 10:00pm.  Try for one of the afternoon performances with younger kids.

But whatever you do, don’t miss The Lion King while it’s here in Des Moines.  Opening night was tonight (April 30th) and it runs through May 17th with lots of show times available (but some are already sold out, so hurry and get your tickets!).  More info and tickets here.

IMG_6409Quick tip: the souvenir line in the main lobby (as well as concession stand) had huge lines.  It wasn’t IMG_6411until we headed to our seats that we realized there was a second souvenir stand (and concession stand)  in the east lobby with hardly anyone there.  So head to the east lobby to avoid the long lines to grab your snacks and souvenirs before the show!

Oh! And don’t think you need to bring kids to enjoy this show.  This would make a great date night as well!

Cooking with George

IMG_2965-e1424446685390-225x300IMG_2977-e1424446780190-225x300We had the pleasure of attending a cooking class at Malo at the Des Moines Social Club last weekend, lead by Chef George Formaro.  It was a great experience and if you have to opportunity to sign up for one of the remaining classes in the series coming up, do!  There is one March 7th and one April 10th.  E-mail: nbopes@malodesmoines.com to sign up.

 

 

IMG_2990IMG_2998-e1424446660732-225x300The first hour, Chef Formaro demonstrated the recipes giving his hints and tips along the way.  We got to munch on chips and salsa and sip margaritas during the presentation.  Then we got to indulge in the 4 course meal with wine pairings.  A great date-night for $65 per guest.

 

 

IMG_3004-e1424446709800-225x300You even get print-outs of the recipes to try at home.  Of course Chef George claims the “secret is in the technique” so maybe we’ll just stick to letting him cook these wonderful dishes for us =)  They are able to accommodate food allergies if requested too.  Check it out.

 

 

 

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