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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!

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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Vines to Wines

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Lurra Cocina

I had really been anticipating the new Downtown restaurant, Lurra Cocina! Spanish tapas restaurants are hard to come by in the metro and the menu here at Lurra Cucina had me excited! Plus, I’m also a fan of Nick Illingworth ventures (i.e. the now defunct Magnolia Food truck), so I had a feeling I’d like Lurra.

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!

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/

 

Rockin’ the Tapas at RoCa

get-attachment.aspx get-attachment-18.aspxThe newest Court Avenue dining establishment, aptly named Restaurant on Court Ave (or RoCa) definitely rocked our world during our visit last month.

The tapas (or shared plates concept) is in full trend and RoCa is doing it right.

We had a reservation, but it seems other people are loving the relaxed atmosphere where it’s easy to chat with friends and enjoy some great cocktails and food just as much as we did, so a table wasn’t ready for us when we arrived.  But have no fear, the excellent wait staff promptly brought us some complimentary bubbly to make our wait a little more enjoyable.

IMG_0763_2 IMG_0764_2They have regular tables, but they also offer some couches with coffee-type tables to sit at as well to make it feel more homey.  They fill up fast though, so they are hard to snag at the busy times.

We were seated shortly thereafter and there was no shortage in selection from meatball sliders to a charcuterie plate, smothered tots to flatbread and even some entrees including chicken saltimboca and ribeye.

get-attachment-16.aspx get-attachment-19.aspxI really can’t wait to get in to try more of their unique offerings and more craft cocktails!  I was especially fond of the Champaign cocktails.

I love that they are open for lunch as well as dinner Tuesday’s thru Saturdays.  This was a great place for a girls night out (I was lucky enough to have my friend Lisa along from Pineapple Ink to capture a few great shots of our meal), but would be a lovely date-night location as well.  Perhaps a dinner destination before or after a show at the Civic Center?  We’ll be back soon to try some different tapas! Who wants to come with to share?!

You say Strudl Haus, I say Heaven

get-attachment-50.aspx get-attachment-58.aspxOne of our favorite Farmer’s Market vendors has set up shop on the South Side.  The Strudl Haus opened last month at 1951 Indianola Ave., near Principal Park in Des Moines.  And what an awesome addition to the area!  You can stop in for pastries or a latte to go or stay and enjoy some authentic Austrian cuisine for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

The prices are incredibly reasonable and the food is just terrific.  The have a base menu and then you can check out their Facebook page (here) for changing weekly specials like suppes, salats and schnitzel! Yum!  Here is an example of the menu from this week…

get-attachment-49.aspx 1797522_782215705199652_194431916243452403_nWhen we visited last, Josh enjoyed a dutch letter and along an omelet and I had the Austrian Breakfast which included a selection of meats and cheeses served with eggs and homemade jellies and bread.  Nathan had the nutella crepes which were fantastic and priced at only $4.50.  He’s been begging me for more since we left!

I definitely recommend checking out the Strudl Haus as soon as you can!  I mean like, right now…go for lunch…you won’t be disappointed!

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