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The Knotty Nail


Meet Becky!  She’s the
Owner/Operator/Mastermind behind The Knotty Nail. That’s right, it’s called “The Knotty Nail”, and it’s probably not what you’re thinking it is.  Becky hosts “Sips and Strings” workshops for adults, as well as workshops for children, birthday parties, bachelorette parties, team building meetings, etc., where groups get together and craft!  This is not one of those multi-level marketing sales things.  This is strictly for fun!

Becky is located here in the metro and does up to three parties a day!  She has gotten very popular in the short time she’s been operating and is continuing to grow!

The concept is pretty simple.  You volunteer to host a party and invite friends, family or co-workers, etc. and you provide some snacks and drinks.  She makes it super simple by providing you with your own party page where people can register online.  That’s all you have to do, and if you get at least ten people to join you, your project is free! Becky brings everything you need to make a really cool string art project.  It takes anywhere from an hour to three hours to complete depending on how fast you are or how much alcohol you are drinking during the party. =)

You start by nailing the design of your choice into a piece of wood (note to self, start drinking after this step next time) and then use string to bring your project to life.  She has some really awesome patterns, or you can make up your own like our friend did at my party on Sunday!  Hence the blacked out project in the photo that was a little less than PG-13.  But hey, it’s all good!  It’s great that you can personalize your art!

We all had a really fun time!  Becky is super sweet and is very attentive to each participant, making sure they are getting the nailing correct and will even help you with your project if you like.  There were definitely some times that almost everyone needed a little help, and that’s ok!

Anyone can do this.  Becky said she’s had participants what were in their 90’s!  She has easier projects for kids and you can see all of the designs she offers and how to host your own party on her website: https://www.theknottynail.com/  The Iowa with a heart design was the most popular design at our party, but I’m looking forward to attending another one to make more designs!  Host a party and invite me!  We are really excited about this new option for a fun crafting event in the metro. She even has drop-in events where she hosts events at public locations so you don’t need to round up people to get in on the fun.  Check it out! https://www.theknottynail.com/

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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!

Kindermusik at Pied Piper Studios!

logo_1200dpiDid you know that one of the top rated Kindermusik programs in the world is located right here in Des Moines?  Yes! Jenn Horak-Hult (Miss Jenn) opened Pied Piper Studios in 2008 and Kindermusik has been a huge part of many local families’ lives since.

School is starting up again, so while that makes now a great time to think about enrolling your kids, they have ongoing enrollment so you can join at any time!

You might remember our post about them last year, and in that time a lot has happened with the Locations~~element49program!  They’ve moved to a new and fabulous location (3892 N.W. Urbandale Drive, Urbandale 50322) and have added lots of class options like art classes, yoga and drama!

I’ll include my experience sitting in on a class so you can get an idea of how a class goes, but we encourage you to try out a Kindermusik class for free!  Just visit their website to sign up!

I got to sit in a “laugh and learn” pre-school class and I was thoroughly impressed.  This isn’t your traditional music class.  Kids are encouraged to be themselves and you can tell that they love being there.  Administrative Assistant Staci explains that “there is no right or wrong way to participate in Kindermusik”.  Some kids happily comply with every recommendation of the teacher during class.  Some kids just do their own thing and absorb.  Some pre-school kids prefer parents to attend the class with them and Staci says “It’s all ok”.   In the short half hour I was there, Miss Jenn went through activities from dancing and singing to stories and instruments and bringing out a special bear visitor.  If a child wasn’t into one activity, it was ok, because the class kept evolving from one lesson to the next and there was something for everyone.

The kids adore Miss Jenn (and all of the instructors)! I think they all would have chosen to sit on her lap if there was enough space.  One little girl couldn’t wait to show Miss Jenn her ponytail and there was excitement in their eyes as they leaned in to hear what Miss Jenn was going to teach them next.  The most amazing part was the silence that filled the room as Miss Jenn would sing to transition from one activity to another.  She has a voice you could listen to all day and the kids definitely agree.

I had a chance to talk to some parents and I think the Kindermusik community extends far beyond what is taught in the classroom. Every single parent told me that one of things they love most about kindermusik, is the personal connections they have made.  One Kindermusik mom said, “These teachers and the other parents genuinely care about our kids and it kind of starts to feel like family.” Miss Jenn hand-picks and trains each Kindermusik instructor herself and they are all fabulous.  Miss Rebecca, Miss Anne and Miss Karin all love what they do and are so great with the kiddos.

The Kindermusik curriculum includes classes for newborns up to age 7. They also offers voice and SIMPLY MUSIC piano lessons for older kids. Your child can even have a Kindermusik birthday party!  How fun!

And give them a “like on Facebook for updates and invited to fun (free and open to the public) events like pop-up playdates! https://www.facebook.com/piedpiperstudios

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/

 

Pizza Ranch – Waukee, Altoona & Urbandale

IMG_3744 IMG_3884As we mentioned on Facebook and Twitter the other day, we are proud to welcome Pizza Ranch (Waukee, Altoona & Urbandale) as a new blog sponsor.

 

I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find an Iowan who hasn’t been to (or is at least familiar with) a Pizza Ranch, but we wanted to share some of the cool things about out local Pizza Ranch locations!

 

IMG_3883 IMG_3888These three locations are all owned by a super-nice, local couple who loves to support our community.  You’ll always see them doing a charity event at the restaurant to support local athletics or organizations.  They offer community impact nights every Monday and Wednesday!  And who are we kidding?  Who doesn’t love their pizza and award-winning fried chicken.  I may also be a little addicted to the cactus bread and ice cream.  I’m also psyched that they offer gluten-free pizza too!

 

IMG_3883 IMG_3745Don’t forget that kids under 10 eat free with adult buffet purchase on Tuesdays (one kid free per paying adult).  They also offer a seniors lunch day on Wednesdays!  They pride themselves in being a great value for families with great service in a clean environment.

 

And don’t forget about the party rooms!  They offer rooms you can reserve for parties and special events.  Feel free to call any of the locations for more info about the community programs they offer, parties or just to tell them how much you like the cactus bread! Yum!

 

Please show them some love by “liking” your local Pizza Ranch location on Facebook to keep up to date on special events and promotions! Waukee Pizza Ranch, Urbandale Pizza Ranch, Altoona Pizza Ranch.

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-Altoona – 515-967-8800

-Urbndale – 515-331-4610

-Waukee 515-978-6603

 

 

Mother/Son Glow Jump -The Official Time Line

So here is how this went down…

IMG_2639.JPGIMG_2652.JPGLast week: See lots of Father/Daughter Dances scheduled for tonight. Get this really good idea to attend Mother/Son Glow Jump at Pump it Up.  Kids love this place and heck, why wouldn’t I?!  I’ll skip the gym and make this my exercise for the day, an hour and a half of bouncing, I’m totally losing 3 pounds.

6:50 – Arrive.

6:52 – Sign in, obtain glow stick

6:55 – Watch video. Feet first down slides, no pushing, got it. I’m totally dominating these bounce houses. If these 4 year olds can do it…I can too.

7:00 – Enter jumping zone. I feel like this is a great idea. A little exercise, some bonding time with the kid and fun. Best. Mom. Ever.

7:02 – Realize I’m too fat to fit through the little openings to enter the bounce houses.  Stare at them for a minute thinking about attempting, but the thought of having to get one of the teenaged  attendants to cut my butt our of the mesh, 1 foot opening didn’t seem too appealing.

7:05 – Succumb to the fact that the only bounce objects I’ll be able to navigate are the gigantic slide and ridiculously large inflatable obstacle course.

IMG_2664.JPG7:08 – Attempt slide. Man those things are slippery…pulled a muscle in my back. Shake it off…Don’t look weak.

7:10 – Son insists I follow him up the “easy way” in the obstacle course to take a selfie because another mom did it . After attempting the ladder, I try to tell him that I don’t think I can make it. He immediately points out that the other kid’s mother (who obviously goes to the gym 12 hours a day) made it up with no problem. Not to be outdone, I throw my weight as far as I can up the ladder, face plant into plastic are drag myself to the top. 7 year old taunts me and says “haha, this is really the hard way”. After following him through a series of crawl spaces and slides where crying kids were stuck in corners and others were diving head first throughout the maze, I made it out alive but may have dislocated my arm. I did check to make sure the rest of my limbs were attached before I kicked a 4 year old out of closest chair.

7IMG_2647.JPG:12 – I surrender. Defeated by the bounce houses…only 78 minutes left….save me now!

7:20 – spot the massage chairs! There is no alcohol, but this might make this bearable for the last 70 minutes…

IMG_2678.JPG7:21 – Crap. No quarters. And now they just announced a Mother/Son snowball fight. The other moms are now giving me dirty looks because I’m not participating in the snowball fight and my son just turned into the devil reincarnate bearing snowballs with his only mission being to kill me by icy snowball pummeling. I’m ok with that…

7:45 – I convince my kid it’s 8:30 and the party is over.  He didn’t buy it.

8:30 – After winning a round of Simon Says, the 7 year old is ready to go.  Thank you Lord.

 

 

Of course I’m just kidding.  Pump is Up is really awesome.  Nathan had a great time and hasn’t stopped talking about how much fun he had.  They do a great job with birthday parties and the prices are reasonable. Also, I’m sure that lady doesn’t’ work out 12 hours per day…I’m sure it’s only like 6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baking Experience Camp at Creme Cupcake

Today’s guest post is by my friend Janel who loves to try new things in and around Des Moines with her kiddos.  Her sons attended the Baking Experience Camp at Creme Cupcake in Des Moines this week and had a great time!  The camp is three days long and is for kids ages 9 and up.  She was nice enough to share her experience with us.  While it may be too late to get in on this camp this summer, definitely keep it in mind for next because it looks like a blast!  Thanks, Janel!

get-attachment-28.aspxMy sons attended The Bakery Experience Camp at Crème Cupcakes.  It was  three days of amazing baking fun. The first day they learned how to make cinnamon rolls and cake balls. This was probably my favorite day, these are my favorite kind of treats.

“These cinnamon rolls are as big as my head” my son exclaimed!

 

get-attachment-33.aspxThe second day was lemon bars, brownies and cookies. My youngest son (9) said this was his favorite day.

The final day was all about decorating cupcakes! The eldest boy (11) enjoyed this day the most.

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Holly Evans, who ran the camp was absolutely wonderful with the kids.   She encouraged each of their creative talents by teaching them how to roll and shape the fondant into whatever their imaginations desired.

 

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Also by quickly whipping up the personally customized frosting color choices for lessons on how to pipe like a PRO!

After presenting their creations they were awarded a certificate for excellence in all things baking!

Pinot’s Palette DSM Patriotic Paintings & Discount Code!

Vintage-Flag-large.jpgLooking for a fun and air conditioned alternative way to celebrate Independence Day with family or friends? Check out these patriotic painting classes at Pinot’s Palette – Des Moines! July 4th themed classes on July 1st and July 3rd, 2014.  Mo painting experience necessary! Use code JULY4 at checkout to save 15%. Full Calendar Here: http://www.pinotspalette.com/DesMoines/Classes/July Patriotic-Willow-large.jpg

Martial Arts in Des Moines

Today’s guest post is by my friend Maria.  Her whole family is staying healthy and having fun practicing Martial Arts in the Metro.  Read about her experiences and recommendations here:

get-attachment-24.aspxWith so many great after-school programs available, martial arts may not be the first to come to mind. So I thought I would write a bit to remind other parents that it is an option and may be worth consideration for a precious after-school time slot . Martial arts offer some of the same benefits as other athletic activities such as discipline, confidence and fitness and may even appeal to some children who have not found other sports to be their cup of tea. There are many class options in the area, and my family has enjoyed participating in two very different programs for several years.

get-attachment-25.aspxTaekwondo originated in ancient Korea and focuses primarily on blocking and striking techniques. Jacobs Martial Arts Academy in Urbandale offers instruction in this method of martial arts. Jacobs may be described as “old school” figuratively and quite literally, as it is the oldest Taekwondo club in the metro area.  Long time residents may remember Kim’s Academy. When Master Kim retired 40 years ago, the school was passed on to it’s current owners, Tim and Joan Jacobs. They have been teaching ever since. Jacobs offers preschool through adult classes and boasts a membership that ranges from 3 years old to 80 years young. Amazingly, Jacobs welcomes students as young a 3 years of age into their Tiny Tigers program. This program is particularly well suited to youngsters who have excess energy that needs to be positively channeled. Seemingly through some superpower, Mrs. Jacobs transforms these blurs of noise and movement into children who can stay in line, recite a pledge, follow directions, and who have begun to learn the basic movements of the art. One of the focuses of JMAA is family.

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To that end, parents of enrolled students are invited to join the teen/adult class free of charge. There is very much a sense of community among the members. This is reinforced by numerous social events including Halloween sleepovers, Easter Egg Hunts, Chili cook offs, and a summer retreat. Being the parent of an only child, one of the things I appreciate most about Jacobs is that their multi-age class format offers a chance for children interact with positive role models, and eventually to become leaders themselves.  I have been truly impressed at how the older children and teens look out for the younger students.

http://jacobsmartialarts.com/

3710 Dennis Drive

Urbandale, Iowa, 50322

Phone: (515) 270-1600

 

get-attachment-25.aspxIn comparison to Taekwondo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is relatively new.  It is a grappling art and focuses on using leverage. Because it was designed to allow a smaller person to defend themselves against a larger attacker, it may be especially practical for women and youth. BJJ techniques are also employed by police officers and security professionals because they can allow the user to physically subdue another individual while causing little or no injury.

get-attachment-29.aspxIf you have ever been to a local MMA event it is quite likely that you have seen some of Des Moines Jiu Jitsu members in action. In addition to a lineup of adult classes and a grappling league, youth classes are offered there on Thursdays. If you do happen to be familiar with Jiu Jitsu from adult MMA competitions such as the UFC, it is important to note that safety is the primary concern in these youth classes and that children are only instructed in those aspects of the sport that are age appropriate and that can be taught effectively while minimizing potential for injury.  Emphasis is also placed on using the techniques only at appropriate times.

get-attachment-24.aspxThe team of instructors is passionate aboutself-defense for all people, and has facilitated workshops for a wide range of groups including Girl Scouts troops and visually impaired individuals. Wrestling is woven into the fabric of Iowa, but the culture of wrestling ,when taken as a whole, discourages female participation. In contrast DMJJ welcomes female students. Girls often make up half, or nearly so, of my son’s class. A few years ago, owner Chris David, moved DMJJ to its current location which does the almost impossible, combining a downtown location with its own parking lot. He is an IT specialist by day so it is not surprising that DMJJ has a comprehensive and frequently updated website and makes full use of social media.

841 11th St., Des Moines, IA 50309

phone: 515-267-0278

http://iowabjj.com

https://www.facebook.com/DMJJA

https://twitter.com/DMJJA