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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)!

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!

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Vines to Wines

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Pho King Cookoff

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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.

Do you want to be scared?! Des Moines-Area Haunted House Roundup 2015

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Today’s guest post is brought to you by Allen Huffman.  In 1996, Allen began documenting “useless recreation” such as amusement parks and Renaissance festivals. He has posted over 150,000 digital photos to various websites he maintains. In 2010, he started covering haunted houses as well. He also produces radio and TV ads, and designs custom audio/video special effects for various attractions.  Thanks for all the insider tips and this guide to Haunted Houses in Des Moines!

October is a wonderful time of year full of Fall carnivals, pumpkin patches, corn mazes and, of course, Halloween.

Over the years, Halloween has become a huge business. Temporary costume stores have already been popping up in strip malls and shopping centers around the metroplex, and it won’t be much longer before various basements, forests, backyards and Renaissance festival parks are transformed into haunted houses ready to scare the money out of your purse or wallet. Here is a look at what to expect (and not to expect) this year.

First, let’s look at what WON’T be back for 2015.

3d_haunted_house_by_westy3d-d3h6at7The Slaughterhouse, which ran from 2010 to 2013, is gone for good. It’s spirit lives on, however, since the Haunted Barn purchased all the props and parts and is incorporating them into their attraction this year.

The long-running Ultimate Haunted House at White Water University only managed to open for one night last year before the City of Pleasant Hill closed them down. At the time, they wrote on their Facebook page: “Due to the new city ordinances put in place by the City of Pleasant Hill, (some of which are nearly impossible to incorporate) the haunted house did not pass inspection and was closed by the city. The owners are trying to get back in business before the month is over.” Unfortunately, they never reopened, and no announcement has been made yet for 2015.

The newest haunt on the block, Tormented Souls Haunt in Madrid, has yet to announce plans for either it’s haunted house, Zee-Pocalypse Zombie Paintball attraction, or their after-Halloween Aftershock Costume Party. This is a pity since the haunt was very long and elaborate, and the paintball trailer ride was one of the most unique experiences in the area.

The Blazing Jack-o-Lanterns Halloween Hayride and Duty Calls: Zombie Apocalypse laser tag haunted walk at Sleepy Hollow are also gonners. They are being replaced by a new bus ride paintball zombie shoot attraction, and the pumpkins are now going to be used in a walk-through display, allowing guests to get a much better view of all the elaborate hand-carved designs.

 

The main haunted attractions CONFIRMED to be operating this year include:

 

Ames Haunted Forest – This is easily the longest haunted house in the area, taking as long as 30 minutes to go all the way through.

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

Nights: Oct 9-10, 16-18, 23-25, and 29-31 (11 nights)

Admission: Full-price admission is $14, but coupons are available on their website.

Website: www.ameshauntedforest.com

Pro-Tip: Last year, they saw 2-hour waits on the busiest nights, so go early in the season to avoid long lines.

 

Haunted Barn – This year they are promoting “two haunts in one” thanks, no doubt, to incorporating items they purchased from the now-defunct Slaughterhouse haunted house.

Address: 3215 SE 72nd St, Ankeny IA 50021

Nights: Oct 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-Nov 1 (19 nights, the most of any haunt in the area)

Admission: Full price admission has increased to $20 this year, but coupons are available, and Cumulus radio stations have half-off tickets available.

Website: www.ankenyhauntedbarn.com

Pro-Tip: Like all haunts, if you go early in the season you can get in with almost no wait.

 

Linn’s Supermarket Haunted House – This is the oldest haunt in the area. 2015 will be their 32nd year of operating, and owner Merlin Linn is still running the show. It has several unique features, such as the incredibly long and dark crawl at the entrance.

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

Nights: Oct 2-3, 9-10, 16-18, and 23-31 (16 nights)

Admission: Full-price admission is $14, but $4 off coupons are usually available for the early weekends.

Website: www.facebook.com/linnshauntedhouse www.linnshauntedhouse.com

Pro-Tip: Keep track of your friends or you may find yourself exiting minutes after the group in front of you. The line can move slowly so go on earlier nights so you don’t have to wait.

 

Sleepy Hollow Haunted Scream Park – Over 20 years ago, this summer/winter activity center began operating its original hayrack ride and one small haunted house. Since then, it has grown into a full haunted theme park featuring multiple haunted houses and other attractions all covered by one admission fee. Since 2007, it has been using the theme park built for the Des Moines Renaissance Faire. The 2015 lineup includes three indoor haunted houses: Castle of Blood (vampire castle), Chaos (heavy metal madness), and Nightmare Estates (hillbilly trailer park). There is an all-new haunted walk called Freak Show (circus after-hours) and the custom-built Black Ops: Zombie Paintball where guests ride in one of two black buses with paintball guns mounted in the windows and shoot at zombies. Several other bonus attractions are included with admission (Museum of Fear walkthrough, a large Fog Maze, Blazing Jack-o-Lanterns display, among others). There are also food and beverage shops.

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

Nights: Oct 9-10, 16-18, 22-25, and 28-31 (13 nights)

Admission: $26 Park Pass, or $22 Pick 3 Pass (11 and under: $24 and $20). Black Ops: Zombie Paintball must be purchased as a standalone attraction for $25, or added to the Park Pass for only $9 more. Some online ticket packages save an additional $3.

Website: www.sleepyhollowscreampark.com

Pro-Tip: It often sells out on the busiest nights (with massive lines just to buy tickets) so visitors are encouraged to go on earlier weekends (or non-peak nights like Thursday or Sunday) and buy tickets in advance. If you buy your ticket online, you can skip the ticket line at the park and walk straight to the window to get your admission armband.

A bit of advice: If you visit on a Friday or Saturday night during the weekends closest to Halloween, expect massively long lines. Try to visit earlier in the month, or on non-weekend evenings. Last year, a one-hour wait on Friday night at one haunt was only 10 minutes the next evening on Sunday.

 

In addition to these larger haunts, there are also smaller haunts like the Zombie Hollow backyard walkthrough in Urbandale, or the Wakuee Haunted House, with many more expected to be announced in October. For an up-to-date list, as well as a calendar and map showing all the haunts, visit www.dmhauntedhouses.com.

 

#Hashies2015 Recap

IMG_1491 IMG_1497The anticipation is over! The 2nd annual Hashie Awards has come and gone.  The winners have been announced and the Social Media Club of Des Moines has recognized it’s 2015 Hashie award winners. #Hashies2015 can be retired and it’s time to start thinking about #Hashies2016!

The ceremony was a lovely event that was held at Jasper Winery with food aplenty catered by event sponsors like Gateway Market, Tres Mentes Salsa and Creme Cupcake.  How cute are these Hashie Cupcakes!?

FullSizeRenderIMG_1512The awards were created by the Social Media Club to honor local entities who make great use of social media.  Companies/individuals are encouraged to enter in the categories of their choice and a professional panel of judges adjudicate entries.  It’s quite an honor to be
nominated and to receive an award as they got at least 100 entires this year!
I’m excited to say that Eat, Play, Love Does Moines received a second place award for Best Personal Blog! Yay!

IMG_1529What a fun night to celebrate the hard work that goes into Social Media efforts in our city. What’s better than great food and wine, great people and celebrating great achievements!  So happy to be a part of this event this year and look forward to many more!  Congrats to all of the nominees and winners!

IMG_1528Check out the Social Media Club of Des Moines website to check out all of the winners and to stay up to date on all things social media and more fun opportunities from the organization and of course for info on the 2016 Hashie Awards as soon as it comes available!

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/

 

Summer Tasting Events at Vom Fass

get-attachment.aspxWe are so excited to share this Summer Indulgence calendar with you (just click here for a larger version)! These events are hosted by our newest sponsor, Vom Fass!

If you haven’t stopped in to this awesome store in the heart of The Shops at Roosevelt, you are missing out.  Can I just say that I’d never had a cocktail with vinegar in it until I came here, and now I’m hooked!  There are so many more uses to oil and vinegar than just salad dressing!

You might remember our blog post last February about the Brandy class we took, if not, you can read about it here.  It was awesome.

That’s why I’m so excited about these Summer Indulgence events coming up at Vom Fass in July.  An Italian Ice Cream Social, Spanish Wines and Tapas, Brunch and Bubbles!!  Oh yeah…and most of them are free! Check it out….

get-attachment-11.aspxAnd while you’re marking your calendar for these events, take a sec and show them some love by liking them on Facebook and checking out their website.

http://dsm.vomfassusa.com

https://www.facebook.com/vomfassdsm?fref=ts