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.

Iowa State Fair

The Fair is here!! The Iowa State Fair funs August 7th to 17th in 2014.  From cows made from butter to everything you ever wanted that you didn’t know you’d ever want on-a-stick, it’s fair time!

Some people like to avoid the

craziness, but I like to dive right in.  Have you ever seen so many mullets in one place before?

Kids love it too.  There are the over-priced carnival-rides of course.  But, if you can keep your kid occupied


with the plethora of animals, the free give-aways (mostly fake tattoos that they want to be covered with from head to toe) in the varied industries building from hundreds of vendors and the little hands on the farm exhibit which is one of our favorites, you can possibly avoid spending too long in line for

a $4 ride that they may or may not puke on. The hands on the farm exhibit is where kids go through the motions of being a farmer and milking a (fake) cow to earn (fake) money to buy something in the store at the end.  I’d say kids at least up to age 9 or 10 would like this.

And then there is the food….ahhhh the glorious food.  Three things I never miss are 1. A pork chop on a stick.  That hard to find french cut of goodness smothered with BBQ sauce. 2. A frozen apple cider slush.  Overly sweet, yet tart and perfect for the hot days at the fair.  They sell them in the same building where you find the butter cow and get your

egg on a stick.  3. those darn buckets of chocolate chips cookies that you can’t resist.  Why are they so good!? With so many choices, why would we pick cookies?  Because they are that good!  We finally came to our senses that we don’t have to eat the whole darn bucket in the few days following the fair, they actually freeze really well and pulling out a Ziploc bag of cookies 3 months after the fair and popping them in the microwave for 20 seconds is like re-living the fair all over again.  Do it I tell you.

Well, that’s all you are going to get about the fair from me….I am far from a fair expert, but I know there are some of you out there with tried and true tips, like “make sure to come on Eat Side night” so, please share with the rest of us what YOUR favorite parts/foods of the fair are.  Thanks!

DSM free splash pads/wading pools 2014

IMG_0358Splash Pools:

A splash pool is a splash pad with standing water and spray features; offering water play specifically aimed at children ages 10 and under. City of Des Moines Splash Pools are staffed, however, parental supervision is strongly encouraged.
Days/Hours of Operation
Ashby Park
May 24 thru September 14
Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
M.L. King Park
May 24 thru August 19
Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m
Pete Crivaro Park
May 24 thru August 19
Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m
Union Park
May 24 thru September 14
Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Wading Pools:

A wading pool is a small pool with standing water. No spray features included. They offer supervised water play specifically aimed at children ages 10 and under. Wading pools are staffed, however, parental supervision is strongly encouraged.
Traditional wading pools may be rented from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays during the regular wading pool season. Click HERE for rental information and to rent a facility for your special occasion or family event. Payment is due at the time of your online booking.
Days/Hours of Operation
Ashfield & Bates
Open June 2 thru July 11
Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Burke, Chesterfield, Drake, Grandview, Sayers, Sheridan, Stone & Tower
Open June 2 thru August 6
Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Open June 2 thru August 6
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday ONLY, Noon – 6:00 p.m.



A Sprayground is a splash pad with spray features and without standing water. Spraygrounds offer unsupervised water play specifically aimed at children ages 10 and under. City of Des Moines staff is not provided at spaygrounds or fountains, parental supervision is required.
Days/Hours of Operation
May 3 thru October 12
Daily, 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
May 3 thru October 12
Daily, 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

*All info taken directly from:

Spring Garden Festival – Sneak Peek

get-attachment-22.aspxget-attachment-25.aspxI was really excited to get a sneak peek of the Spring Garden Festival that is going to be held this weekend at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens (909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA 50309)!

This first-time, FREE event looks like it’s going to be great.  The tents are up and many rare and beautiful plants are ready to be sold to you this weekend!

There will be free educational speakers, stuff for kids to do and lots of beautiful plants to look at and buy.  Plants ranging from the edible variety to incredibly rare and ones that just grow great in Iowa, will be available.  There will be lots of staff on hand to help you pick out what you need.  Prices start at just $3.99 for plants and they have a ton!

get-attachment-23.aspxget-attachment-24.aspxAlong with the sale outdoors, they are offering free admission to the indoor gardens on Friday for National Public Garden Day and free admission for Moms on Sunday for Mother’s Day.

The restaurant in the center is called Trellis and it is also wonderful, and taking Mother’s Day brunch reservations!  So you can totally make a day out of it with the fam.

Check out this first-time, free event this weekend and support our Botanical Garden!


Thursday, May 8

5-6:30 p.m. 

Members-only preview sale.  Become a member at the event!

get-attachment-29.aspx6-8 p.m. 

Opening Night celebration kicks off with botanical cocktails in the conservatory, plated dinner in the DuPont Room, followed by a live auction of signature garden experiences. Advance ticket required.


Friday, May 9

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Celebrate National Public Gardens Day (and FREE admission to the Botanical Garden) with the ultimate Plant Sale featuring over 400 different perennials, annuals, vegetables, tropicals and shrubs for all garden styles, merchandized in four fashion-forward rooms brimming with garden ideas. The Pallet Pulpit Lecture Series runs all day featuring over a dozen local experts.


get-attachment-19.aspxSaturday, May 10

8:30 a.m.
Early Bird Lecture and Book Signing by Joseph Tychonievich. Tychonievich will present “Plant Pickup Artist: Finding and Seducing Great, Unusual Plants” and also be available to sign copies of his book, Plant Breeding for the Home Gardener.


10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Plant Sale featuring over 400 different perennials, annuals, vegetables, tropicals and shrubs for all garden styles, merchandized in four fashion-forward rooms brimming with garden ideas. The Pallet Pulpit Lecture Series runs all day featuring over a dozen local experts.


get-attachment-21.aspxSunday, May 11

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bring your mother for a spin through the Plant Sale featuring over 400 different perennials, annuals, vegetables, tropicals and shrubs for all garden styles, merchandized in four fashion-forward rooms brimming with garden ideas. The Pallet Pulpit Lecture Series runs all day. Dine at Trellis afterwards and make a day of your visit to the Botanical Garden. Mothers get free admission to the Botanical Garden all day!



Fun at The Farmer’s Market

The Farmer’s Markets in town kick off their seasons this week!  It might be a chilly start, but better weather is in sight and it’s worth it to brave the weather anyway!  If you want the freshest local produce, prepared food and specialty items, the Farmer’s Market is where to get them.

How awesome is it that we have such great Farmer’s Markets in Iowa.  Where else can you find such a wide variety of ethnic delicacies alongside the best of Iowa.  The Downtown Des Moines market is the largest one, followed by the Valley Junction one.  It’s wonderful because Downtown includes Breakfast burritos, breakfast pizza, pasties along with BBQ, Indian, Moroccan, Bosnian (and many more!) delights for lunch.  Valley Junction will take care of your dinner and you can buy the baked goods and pastries to take him for breakfast the next day!  Of course don’t forget all of your produce and local meat!

A few of my “must haves” at the market are 1. A cutlet form Saloo’s India (a potato cake filled with meat or veggies-gluten free) 2. A breakfast burrito or bowl from Farm Boys. YUM! 3. A gluten-free crepe from Sweet Treat Without Wheat.  4. A burger from Local Yocals.

Oh, and of course it’s not all about the food.  Vendors also have handmade items of all kinds like clothing, jewelry, soap, decorations and much more.

Here is a list and info from their websites for some of the larger local ones.  Check your town to see if they host one too. I know Waukee, Johnston and many others have them too!  Merle Hay Mall is startign an Indor Farmer’s Market…Here are the dates for those:  The Green Wood Market (Merle Hay Mall) is from 4:30pm-8:30pm on dates listed below.

  • Wednesday, May 28
  • Wednesday, June 4
  • Wednesday, June 11
  • Wednesday, June 18
  • Wednesday, June 25

Ames: Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 noon Starting May 3

Fresh fruits, veggies, meats & breads. Hand crafted goods. Family entertainment. The Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market has it all!

Ankeny: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays. Uptown Ankeny. The Uptown Ankeny Farmer’s Market vendors provide a wide variety of products to the public. In the past, the market has seen everything from fresh seasonal produce, home-made baked goods, specialty food items, BBQ cooked on-site, perennial plants, hand-made items, and much

Downtown Des Moines:   7am-noon (8am-noon in Oct.) Support local agriculture and buy direct from Iowa farmers while shopping the Downtown Farmers’ Market – presented by UnityPoint Health – Des Moines. The Downtown Farmers’ Market presents Iowa producers from 51 counties across Iowa, offering fresh fruit, vegetables and so much more. You’ll find fresh herbs, beautiful flowers, farm fresh eggs, local wineries, a delicious assortment of goat cheese, an endless selection of baked goods, and many varieties of Iowa raised meat such as beef, pork, chicken, lamb, buffalo, ostrich, and tilapia.

Southridge Mall: Mondays 3:30 to 6:30pm, Meet us in the parking lot North of Sears every Monday for fresh produce, yummy treats and MUCH MORE!

West Des Moines: 4-8 p.m. Thursdays, Valley Junction. Farmers Market is home to over 100 weekly vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods, plants and flowers, arts and crafts and prepared foods. Join your friends and neighbors.

Free Flicks-Summer 2014

UnknownFree Flicks is a summer-long series of outdoor movie showings throughout the Des Moines area parks and facilities. Every movie is free to the public.

The films will be shown on a 25-foot portable screen, and will begin after sunset around 9:00pm. Admission to the movie is free, and blankets and lawn chairs are encouraged. People are free to bring their own food and drinks as concessions will not be provided for purchase.

Free Flicks Schedule
06/05/2014 Moonstruck Art Center: 4700 Grand Ave
06/12/2014 The Incredibles Ashby Park: 3200 38th Street
06/19/2014 Frozen MLK Park: 1650 Garfield Ave
06/26/2014 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Jordan Park: 600 E. Wall Ave
06/27/2014 (Drive-in) Movie: TBD Cownie Soccer Park: 2600 E Hartford Ave
07/03/2014 Gravity (PG-13) Witmer Park: 1610 34th Street
07/05/2014 Despicable Me 2 EK Davis Park: 1400 Forest Ave
07/10/2014 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Art Center: 4700 Grand Ave
07/17/2014 The Smurfs 2 Evergreen Park: 2135 E Park Ave
07/24/2014 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Tower Park: 4900 Hickman Road
07/31/2014 The Lego Movie Good Park: 1103 17th Street
08/07/2014 The Pink Panther (1963) Art Center: 4700 Grand Ave
08/09/2014 Despicable Me (STAR Party) Ewing Park: 5300 Indianola Road
08/14/2014 The Karate Kid (1984) Woodlawn Park: 3126 Twana Drive
08/23/2014 E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (Restored) Hoyt Sherman Place: 1501 Woodland Ave
08/28/2014 Ghostbusters Simon Estes: 75 East Locust Street
09/04/2014 Maltese Falcon Art Center: 4700 Grand Ave
Unknown-1Colby Park in WIndor Heights also has their own series.

Free Admission!
Event Dates
Colby Park is the place to be on Friday evening’s this summer for the “Movies in the Park” series.  In conjunction with the films, there will be a Farmers Market.  A children’s hands on activity will be at 7 pm.  The movies begin at dusk.June 20            FrozenJune 27            March of the PenguinsJuly 11             RatatouilleJuly 18             The MuppetsJuly 25             Mary Poppins

August 1          The Rookie

Night Eyes

Take your kids trick-or-treating at the zoo this year!

After 22 years, Night Eyes at Blank Park Zoo has become the sweetest Halloween fun in Central Iowa, and this year’s 23rd annual event is sure to continue the tradition! A big thank you to our presenting partner, Dahl’s and to our many, many supports and volunteers for making this merry, not scary, event possible for everyone to enjoy!
Children and adults will go on a treat safari, travel along the yellow brick road, explore Fareway Food Stores Spooky Forest, and travel past the sea of orange at the Dahl’s Pumpkin Patch.  Don’t miss this sweet and enchanting tradition.  Inflatables and games are available.
Night Eyes is taking place on October 17-20 & 24-27
Thursday & Fridays: 5:30pm-8:00pm

Saturday & Sundays: 1:00pm-8:00pm
Gate Tickets: $5
Zoo Member: $4
Children under 12 months old are free
Children under 12 months old are free

Advance Tickets: $3 (purchased on or before October 16)  Ticket info here.
*Night Eyes admission supports the many programs and opportunities that are brought to our community and ensures quality care for our many animal friends.
Interested in volunteering during Night Eyes?
For more information on this sweet event, please call 515-285-4722 or e-mail
 *All info from Blank Park Zoo Website

Living History Farms Halloween Info

Family Halloween Tickets on sale now!
October 17-20, 24-27  |  5:30-8:30 pm
Family Halloween is presented by Bob Brown Chevrolet/Buick & GMC
Horse-drawn wagon rides, marshmallow roasts, storytellers, scarecrow and jack-o-lantern displays

Family Halloween

delight all during this non-scary family event. Children aged 12 and under can trick or treat through town, and we’ll have free pop and popcorn for all!
Get advanced tickets and save!
Advanced tickets:
(on sale through October 16)

Tickets at the door:
*All info direct from LHF website.


Have you been to a Starbeque??

Out-of-this-world stargazing + summertime barbeques = SCI Starbeques!

The Science Center of Iowa hosts thismonthly event and here is their description:
Bring your blankets and get ready for a new summertime tradition. Gaze at celestial objects through telescopes.

This event is hosted at:

Ewing Park, 5300 Indianola Road, Des

Moines some months and others on the front lawn of the Science Center.

This event is in partnership with City of Des Moines Park and Recreation the Des Moines

Astronomical Society (DMAS).

Starbeques are free to attend and when at the Science Center they offer food and snacks for

purchase.  Keep an eye on the calendar to see which location the event will be each month…here is the calendar.  September 2013’s event will be held at Ewing Park on the 28th at 7:30pm.

Des Moines World Food and Music Festival

Great food, awesome music, cooking demonstrations from some of the best Chefs in Des Moines.  It doesn’t get much better than this.  Except that you can get a “taste” portion at any of the 45+ food vendors for only a $1! And all entries are priced at $5 or less!

This annual event is definitely one of the best festivals of the year.  The 2013 festival runs September 19th to 21st Downtown on the Walnut Street Bridge

For more information including a complete list of vendors, hours, parking info, music schedules and cooking demonstration schedules, visit their website here.

As lots of the food vendors don’t have brick and mortar restaurants and only participate in this festival each year, it might be the only time you get to try some of their delicacies.

You can get some wonderful Italian, BBQ, Mexican or Thai food, but you can also venture out and try something like Ethiopian, Korean, Czechoslovakian, Mesopotamian or Filipino cuisine!  There is something for everyone.

Some of my favorites last year were:

1. Hawaiian Chicken from Alohana

2. Chicken Stew from Czech up Time

3.Pasta from Street of Europe

4. Larp from Blu

5. Tabsi Tayuk from Afiyet Olsun

6. Chicken Kabob from Yanni’s

7. Chickencubes from The Ethiopian assoc.

8. Fried banana roll from Cafe Fuzion

9. Fried fish and potato on a stick with juice
and chocolate covered strawberry from Sims

10. Beef taco from Taco Loco

And every item I had was only $1!  Can’t wait til this year’s fest!