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:  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!

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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  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)!

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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!

Haunted House Guide 2016

Here is the 2016 Haunted House Guide, courtesy of!


Even though Des Moines celebrates Halloween as Beggar’s Night on October 30th, there’s one Fall tradition that lines up with the rest of the country: Haunted Houses!


Each year, various barns, basements, garages and even Renaissance festival parks transform into attractions designed to make you jump, scream, and/or laugh. Des Moines continues to serve up everything from family friendly Halloween yard displays, to all-out scream parks designed to make you wish you brought a change of pants.


Here are some of the missing, returning, and new things to scream at this season:


First, after a seven year run, the Ankeny Haunted Barn ( will not be operating this year so you will have to find someplace else to crawl over live snakes and rats. The Slaughterhouse shut down a few years ago, but there are rumors of it’s return next year ( Tormented Souls Haunt in Madrid ( took a break last year due to a personal loss, but claimed they would return this year. At the time of this writing, they have still not announced dates for 2016.


And now … the lineup:


Ames Haunted Forest – It might seem like a long drive to visit an outdoor haunted walk in Ames, but every year thousands of people travel hours from all over Iowa to be chased through the woods. It is one of the largest and most spread out haunts in the region. If you see their white hearse parked outside, take a look at the license plate. And, don’t worry about the ambulance. Medics like chainsaws too.

Address: 1 block south of Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

Nights: Oct 7-8, 14-15, 21-23 and 28-30, 2016 (10 nights).

Admission: $15, but you can save $1 by using a coupon on their website.


Pro-Tip: If you love standing in lines, you can find a really nice 2-3 hour one by visiting on the busiest weekends closest to Halloween. Or, go earlier in the season to avoid that.


Grimes Haunted Garage (Home Haunt) – This is a small neighborhood haunted house display in their triple-car garage. It’s great fun for the kids (they will escort them thru if requested) but can still be scream inducing for the rest of us.

Address: 612 NE 13 St, Grimes IA 5011

Nights: Oct 29 and 31, 2016 (2 nights only)

Admission: Free, but donations of canned goods for the food pantry are accepted.


Pro-Tip: This is a great starter haunted house for your little ones, and a great free thing to check out if you are in the area. It is in a residential neighborhood so drive slowly. It can only handle about 150 visitors per night.


Linn’s Supermarket Haunted House – Although Linn’s Supermarket is now under new management, Merlin Linn has retained the rights to keep offering his yearly haunted house in the basement. Guests will once again get to crawl through that long, dark, claustrophobic, scary, carpeted hallway and say hi to those friendly clowns with chainsaws. This classic haunt has operated for over 30 years, and now is welcoming third-generation fans. After the fear that last year would be the final one, it’s good to have at least one more chance to visit. It’s also the most inexpensive of the multi-weekend haunts, and the only one that open on October 1st.

Address: 3805 6th Ave, Des Moines IA 50313 (at Linn’s Supermaket)

Nights: Oct 1, 7-8, 14-15, and 21-31, 2016 (16 nights).

Admission: $14, but only $10 if you use a coupon during the first two weekends.


Pro-Tip: Due to the various crawls, the line can move slowly. Go earlier in the season to avoid long waits to get in. If you can’t find a coupon, drop by the supermarket on a night when the haunt isn’t operating. They sometimes have them there.


Sleepy Hollow Haunted Scream Park – Some folks know this as a place to ski or snowboard in the winter, or that place with the go karts in the summer. In October, we just know it as the place that claims to “scare the yell out of you.” Rather than just a haunted house, this is a Halloween theme park held in an old English village built for a Renaissance faire. This year, over 50 new special effects have been added to the park (animatronics, lighting and sound, projections, etc.) Various ticket packages get you access to up to five haunted houses: Castle of Blood (vampire horror movie), Chaos (heavy metal and strobe lights), Nightmare Estates (trailer park experience), Freak Show (after-hour clown circus haunted walk, added in 2015), and Twisted Tales: The Next Chapter (scary fairy tale haunted walk). Each ticket also includes access to various bonus activities such as the 3-D Gallery: Aliens Attack and the all-new 13 Gates Maze (the largest maze they have ever built). There’s also the add-on Black Ops: Zombie Paintball Ride where you ride in highly modified buses with side-facing seats and customized paintball guns mounted in each window. You get to shoot at props, moving targets, and human zombies lit up by black light. And, if that isn’t enough, you can also try the brand new Infection: Laser Tag game for an additional fee. Club Blood returns as a silent disco where you wear wireless headphones and select which one of three large projections screens you want to dance to. There are also various food, drink and merchandise buildings open.

Address: 4051 Dean Ave, Des Moines IA 50317 (East of the Iowa State Fairgrounds)

Nights: Oct 7-8, 14-15, 20-23 and 27-31, 2016 (12 nights).

Admission: $21 (zombie paintball ride only), $24.50 (3 haunted houses), $28.50 (all five houses), $38 (five haunted houses and zombie paintball ride). Discounts for buying tickets in advance online. NOTE: This year, tickets are sold where you pick a 2-hour time frame where you can go through the houses with shorter waits, while still having access to the rest of the scream park the entire evening.


Pro-Tip: In recent years, there have been more and more nights where the park completely sells out early, and other nights with a line of over an hour just to buy tickets and get in. Buy online to guarantee admission, and also save money. (A one hour wait on a busy Saturday night might only be 10 minutes on Sunday.)


Waukee Halloween Haunted House – Each year, the City of Waukee turns a park shelter into a haunted house that they say is “not suggested for young children.” Sounds like fun!

Address: Centennial Park, Waukee IA 50263

Nights: Oct 28-29, 2016 (2 nights only)

Admission: $5, but you can get in for $4 if you bring a nonperishable donation for the Waukee Area Food Pantry.


Pro-Tip: Bring a nonperishable food item so in case you wet your pants, you can at least say you did it for “a good cause.”


Zombie Hollow (Yard Haunt) – This is without a doubt one of the most stunning Halloween displays anywhere around. Each year, artist and backyard Imagineer Lew Jordan (with family and friends) transforms his Urbandale home into an amazing tribute to Disney’s Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean…if they were taken over by zombies. This is not a haunted house where things jump out at you. Instead, it’s a highly detailed walkthrough of sets with music, lighting, and animatronics — almost all of it home built! There’s even a pirate ship attacking a village, just like in the Disney ride. You might also find tributes to the villains of Scooby Doo or Harry Potter. This is a must-see, with special effects that surpass even the big commercial haunts in the area. New this year will be Lew’s tribute to the legendary Disneyland “Hat Box Ghost.”

Address: 3109 Pine Circle, Urbandale IA 50322

Nights: Oct 28-30, 2016 (3 nights only, weather permitting)

Admission: Free, but donations are accepted for Sentinels of Freedom.


Pro-Tip: He can only operate in dry weather, so check his Facebook page before heading out. This is in a cul de sac of a residential area, so drive slowly and be prepared to park down the block. It is self-paced so you can spend as little or as much time as you want admiring all the animatronics, sets and props (and you probably want to stick around to see the entire pirate show cycle).


Fright Manor (Home Haunt) – This is a home haunt in a residential area. These folks previously had a home haunt when they lived in Kansas City and decided to try it out here in Des Moines.
Address: 4102 138th St, Urbandale, IA 50323
Nights: Oct 30-31, 2016 (2 nights only). 6pm-9pm.
Admission: Free, but they will be collecting donations for a local animal shelter.



Allen has been indexing Des Moines haunted houses since 2010 and recently started a comprehensive tribute website to Adventureland Park ( He has posted well over 150,000 digital photos from various theme parks and Renaissance festivals since 1996, and also produces radio and TV ads. He is known to not like clowns with chainsaws.

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…! 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:  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!





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…


IMG_7390Now, some new places we’ve visited!  5 Borough’s Bagel  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.


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


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!
OK, more restaurants…..We tried out Gilroy’s finally! 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_7420 Message or e-mail to order one!


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


I’ll be back!


Vines to Wines


Taco Hangover


Pho King Cookoff