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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!

Harvey’s

cd603ee8-8f7b-45ad-81cc-8d2f2b9365a3 cfbfbac6-24c1-411c-89f0-27b315804a29We legit have a new favorite restaurant!  It’s probably a good thing that Harvey’s is in Redfield, because if it were down the street, we may be there for every meal!

I got a tip that Harvey’s was under new ownership and the new owners had hired an amazing chef and we needed to try it out…so we did!

We went in on a Friday night and they were busy, but there was no wait for a table. We were greeted by Katie, the owner, and when I say greeted, I mean welcomed like we were family.  She is the sweetest thing and I’ve never felt like an owner cares more about e6923608-2ed0-4051-8b5d-614c14271df6how we enjoyed our experience than she and her husband did. She treats every customer like family. Our waiter was friendly and accommodating. This place is special!

We started with the watermelon margarita (which we may have each had three of) and we went with the smoked prime rib special and the fried chicken for dinner.  We couldn’t get over how delicious the prime rib was.  Everything was so good.  The fresh seasonal veggies, the perfectly seasoned mashed potatoes.  All. Of. It. So good.

c88acb55-1dae-4f07-a3ec-7f9155a02a81We got to speak with the chef and he explained how he worked on perfecting his prime rib smoking technique for months.  It was truly amazing.  They have a pastry chef named Tricia Foster who makes the desserts.

We ended our meal with the most delicious banana creme pie.  Katie told us to come back for the Sunday Brunch and we can’t wait!

So worth the drive to check out this hidden gem!  Do it!

https://www.facebook.com/harveysdinerandpub/

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Winterset Cidery


d097c3e2-f796-4fcb-b9bd-ac32dfb80ba13a8e7b07-49a1-4d88-80b7-cf5422085ea1We, of course, love to support our local breweries, but when you have Celiac Disease and can’t drink beer, hard cider is usually your tap drink of choice. So, you can imagine how excited we were when we heard Winterset Cidery had opened in May of last year!

It’s just a short ride from Des Moines to Winterset.  The owner and his wife moved down here and built the barn themselves! You have to see the craftmanship that went into the bar, tables, and chairs of the tasting room.  They built it all, it’s amazing.

cc137db8-2a3c-4316-9b16-7d7e0346cdb2 cee5b703-4246-48eb-918e-f7879a4cf566After admiring the venue, we decided to try some flights to get a sample of everything they had to offer.  They had so many choices from different kinds of traditional hard cider to flavors like cherry, peach, and blackberry.  They were all delicious and they have something for all tastes.  I prefer my cider on the sweeter side and the Winterset was perfect me.  My boyfriend prefers not-so-sweet and he was a huge fan of the semi-dry.

They also carry some beers on tap for those who aren’t cider fans because you are going to want to come visit to hang out here with a group of friends either way.  Like most tap rooms, they don’t serve food, but they have free popcorn and they sell chips and you can bring your own food if you need something more.  They also have a patio to sit outside and enjoy b954cdd4-7c58-4ef3-ab18-5c48c34641acyour beverage on.  Hopefully the food truck will jump on this location next year to provide some food options.

They sell bottles (when they are in stock) and hope to have growlers next year.  They definitely didn’t expect to be so wildly successful their first season, but they’ve been greeted with open arms and we’re so glad!

Unfortunately, when we visited last week, it was the last week of their season, so you’ll have to wait until May of 2017 for your first visit if you haven’t been there already.  But add it to your calendar now, because you have to check it out!

At $5 a glass and $7.50 for a flight, you can’t beat it!  “Like” them on Facebook to get “off-season” updates and more info about the 2017 season opening! https://www.facebook.com/Wintersetcidery/

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!

Hurricane Grill & Wings

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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.

Have you had The Wine Experience?

IMG_2263IMG_2245Look! I’m shopping and drinking wine at the same time!  Is this heaven?!  No! It’s Younkers!  We rediscovered The Wine Experience in Younkers at The Jordan Creek Mall this weekend.  The Wine Experience, with its impressive wine selection, top-notch cuisine and lovely atmosphere makes The Wine Experience (in my eyes) one of the best kept secrets in the metro.

I know I’m known for being kind in my restaurant reviews because I have a soft spot for locally owned and IMG_2272operated restaurants (like this one), but this place is the real deal.  I was happy to be invited in this week to try out what they had to offer.  I have to admit, I was definitely not expecting it to be as wonderful as it was.  It’s unfortunate that The Wine Experience isn’t as well-known as other restaurants in its league, because it should be!  I’ll be having dreams about Chef Simon’s Korean Steak and Egg entrée special that he served with brussel sprout hash and miso corn puree.  Seriously, I’m not kidding…Out. Of. This. World.  All of these dishes were intricate and delicious and paired well with our wine choices.

IMG_2203 This particular evening had a corn theme, a wise choice as the most glorious Iowa corn season is coming to close. IMG_2194I don’t think we could have gone wrong with anything on the menu, but stand out items were the bacon deviled eggs served with house-made pickles, which I could have easily eaten a whole plate of by themselves. That good.  The corn fritters which were light with a nice crunch.  The stuffed dates which had a generous amount of bleu cheese and a superb red wine reduction.  Our friends tried the pesto pizza and chicken apple salad which they said were fantastic and Josh had the La Quercia prosciutto baguette which he was so attached to that he was still trying to finish the whole thing when our local pear, pear crisp arrived. It was so good, our friend who proclaimed he didn’t usually like crisps said it was awesome.

IMG_2201 IMG_2210The prices were quite reasonable, the wine was excellent, not to mention that you can BRING YOUR WINE into Younkers to shop!  Umm…what a great idea!  Why do I not see people walking around with wine glasses all the time in Younkers?

It’s in such a convenient location that we already plan to be back for lunch very soon and what a great intimate setting for a special occasion, or just because!

IMG_2240 IMG_2254Please do yourself a favor and check out The Wine Experience.  You won’t be disappointed.  Like, I said you can’t go wrong.  Especially check out the shared plates that are available after 5 and whatever Chef Simon says to get….do it!  He makes some magic in that little kitchen and I hope more people come try it out soon!

 

 

 

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Check out their website here for menus and information and “like” them here on Facebook for special events and meal specials!  Thanks for having us in Tom and Lane!

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

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.