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!

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!

Hy-vee Aisles

IMG_6604So as you’ve probably heard, your local Hy-vee might have just started delivery service to your house!  That’s right.  A limited number of Hy-vee grocery stores are testing out a service called Hy-vee Aisles and they will deliver your groceries right to your kitchen counter.

So I decided to try this out.  Being a work-at-home mom, I thought this would be super convenient, time-saving and stress relieving…It was all of that and more!

So basically, you log onto, create an account (complete with your fuel saver card info), pick a store near you that participates in the program and get shopping.

I mentioned the fuel saver part because this is important.  I immediately realized that this little card was being used for more than just earning me points to exchange for gas discounts.  They’ve been keeping track of my grocery purchases in-store and when I would go to the different categories online when I was shopping for items, all of my most frequently purchased items show up first.  I mean, it’s like looking at a list of all of our household staples.  I really only had to search for a few items to add to my cart that weren’t already loaded onto my list of items.  It was either really cool, or really creepy…Maybe a little of both….BUT it made for a super easy shopping process.

IMG_6606After picking my store, filling up my virtual cart, and deciding whether I would accept substitutions if my products were out of stock, I chose an hour window for delivery.  I suspect as the service gets more popular, there will be more limited delivery times…But the calendar was wide open this time.  I placed my order at 4:30pm on Sunday, and I was able to choose delivery for between 9am and 10am on Monday.  How convenient!  It gave me an estimated total, I put in my credit card info to charge me when my order was on its way and that was it.

9:17 Monday morning I got an email that my order had been filled and my personal shopper was on his way with my delivery…oh so fancy!  9:38 my shopper had arrived.  Not that I was looking out the window awaiting his arrival or anything…He left my groceries on the counter, I gave him a tip and that was it!  So easy!

My total order was $163, so I qualified for the free delivery.  That’s right, if you spend $100 or more, this service is totally free.  The cost is $4.99 if your order is below $100.  I was super impressed that every single item in my order was in stock except one $1.00 item.  I was totally expecting a list of things I’d have to return to the store for later, and that didn’t happen at all!

IMG_6608I would totally recommend this service to anyone that could use a little extra time in their day….ummmm everyone!  And definitely for the elderly, disabled, those with small kids, work at home people, people who work out of the home would like to spend more time at home and not shopping…again, everyone.  Plus, it saved me from some of those impulse buys I always make when I go shopping hungry…which is always.

I really loved this service and I hope it’s here to stay!

Pizza Ranch – Waukee, Altoona & Urbandale

IMG_3744 IMG_3884As we mentioned on Facebook and Twitter the other day, we are proud to welcome Pizza Ranch (Waukee, Altoona & Urbandale) as a new blog sponsor.


I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find an Iowan who hasn’t been to (or is at least familiar with) a Pizza Ranch, but we wanted to share some of the cool things about out local Pizza Ranch locations!


IMG_3883 IMG_3888These three locations are all owned by a super-nice, local couple who loves to support our community.  You’ll always see them doing a charity event at the restaurant to support local athletics or organizations.  They offer community impact nights every Monday and Wednesday!  And who are we kidding?  Who doesn’t love their pizza and award-winning fried chicken.  I may also be a little addicted to the cactus bread and ice cream.  I’m also psyched that they offer gluten-free pizza too!


IMG_3883 IMG_3745Don’t forget that kids under 10 eat free with adult buffet purchase on Tuesdays (one kid free per paying adult).  They also offer a seniors lunch day on Wednesdays!  They pride themselves in being a great value for families with great service in a clean environment.


And don’t forget about the party rooms!  They offer rooms you can reserve for parties and special events.  Feel free to call any of the locations for more info about the community programs they offer, parties or just to tell them how much you like the cactus bread! Yum!


Please show them some love by “liking” your local Pizza Ranch location on Facebook to keep up to date on special events and promotions! Waukee Pizza Ranch, Urbandale Pizza Ranch, Altoona Pizza Ranch.

IMG_3717 IMG_3890 IMG_3733

-Altoona – 515-967-8800

-Urbndale – 515-331-4610

-Waukee 515-978-6603



Mother/Son Glow Jump -The Official Time Line

So here is how this went down…

IMG_2639.JPGIMG_2652.JPGLast week: See lots of Father/Daughter Dances scheduled for tonight. Get this really good idea to attend Mother/Son Glow Jump at Pump it Up.  Kids love this place and heck, why wouldn’t I?!  I’ll skip the gym and make this my exercise for the day, an hour and a half of bouncing, I’m totally losing 3 pounds.

6:50 – Arrive.

6:52 – Sign in, obtain glow stick

6:55 – Watch video. Feet first down slides, no pushing, got it. I’m totally dominating these bounce houses. If these 4 year olds can do it…I can too.

7:00 – Enter jumping zone. I feel like this is a great idea. A little exercise, some bonding time with the kid and fun. Best. Mom. Ever.

7:02 – Realize I’m too fat to fit through the little openings to enter the bounce houses.  Stare at them for a minute thinking about attempting, but the thought of having to get one of the teenaged  attendants to cut my butt our of the mesh, 1 foot opening didn’t seem too appealing.

7:05 – Succumb to the fact that the only bounce objects I’ll be able to navigate are the gigantic slide and ridiculously large inflatable obstacle course.

IMG_2664.JPG7:08 – Attempt slide. Man those things are slippery…pulled a muscle in my back. Shake it off…Don’t look weak.

7:10 – Son insists I follow him up the “easy way” in the obstacle course to take a selfie because another mom did it . After attempting the ladder, I try to tell him that I don’t think I can make it. He immediately points out that the other kid’s mother (who obviously goes to the gym 12 hours a day) made it up with no problem. Not to be outdone, I throw my weight as far as I can up the ladder, face plant into plastic are drag myself to the top. 7 year old taunts me and says “haha, this is really the hard way”. After following him through a series of crawl spaces and slides where crying kids were stuck in corners and others were diving head first throughout the maze, I made it out alive but may have dislocated my arm. I did check to make sure the rest of my limbs were attached before I kicked a 4 year old out of closest chair.

7IMG_2647.JPG:12 – I surrender. Defeated by the bounce houses…only 78 minutes left….save me now!

7:20 – spot the massage chairs! There is no alcohol, but this might make this bearable for the last 70 minutes…

IMG_2678.JPG7:21 – Crap. No quarters. And now they just announced a Mother/Son snowball fight. The other moms are now giving me dirty looks because I’m not participating in the snowball fight and my son just turned into the devil reincarnate bearing snowballs with his only mission being to kill me by icy snowball pummeling. I’m ok with that…

7:45 – I convince my kid it’s 8:30 and the party is over.  He didn’t buy it.

8:30 – After winning a round of Simon Says, the 7 year old is ready to go.  Thank you Lord.



Of course I’m just kidding.  Pump is Up is really awesome.  Nathan had a great time and hasn’t stopped talking about how much fun he had.  They do a great job with birthday parties and the prices are reasonable. Also, I’m sure that lady doesn’t’ work out 12 hours per day…I’m sure it’s only like 6.







Divino review and give-away!

IMG_7735So, I was recently contacted by Divino to try out their fruit gelato desserts.  I had honestly never heard of them, but my local Hy-vee now carries them so I was excited to try it out.

IMG_7759These are so cool!  They take whole, real fruits like plums, oranges, lemons, kiwi and peaches and use the middle to mix into gelato.  They then fill the fruit back up with the gelato to make these unique (and super cute) desserts.

IMG_7764The best part for me was that they only cost me about 110-130 calories each!  I know!  They come in the 5 flavors listed above and they are gluten-free and some flavors are dairy free!  Most Des Moines metro Hy-vee stores carry them all (but check with them for availability…the cool thing about Hy-vee is that  they can order pretty much any product you want if you ask the manager even if they don’t).

IMG_7758Anyway, I’m pretty excited to have a low-cal, delicious snack in the freezer ready to eat.  My family’s favorites were the plum, and orange.  Even though it’s tough to wait, let it thaw for the 20 or minutes it tells you to before you eat it so the flavors can blend.  I made the mistake of trying the lemon too soon and it was too tart because I ate the top part that was touching the rind.  But, once it melted a little it was the most delicious and refreshing flavor.  It was a lot like the lemon Italian Ice I remembered eating as a kid, only this one was hand crafted in Italy!  Whoa…

IMG_7755Anyway, we want to give you a chance to try ALL 5 of these cool desserts.  One box usually costs $4.99, so this is a $25 value!  Just leave a comment in the comments section below and we’ll announce the randomly chosen winner here, on our Facebook page and on twitter (@eatplaylovedsm) on Monday, October 6th!





*You’ll have 24 hours to e-mail us for redemption instructions after the winner is announced on Monday, October 6th or another winner will be chosen.  Winner must be able to pick up prize at Hy-vee (Douglas Ave., Urbandale).

FREE Kids Cooking Classes at The Machine Shed



get-attachment-18.aspxget-attachment-19.aspxWe attended the latest Kids Cooking Class at The Machine Shed in Urbandale this week and for a free program, they did a great job with the kids!

Above is the 2014 schedule. The classes are scheduled for 4 Tuesdays during the year and start at 6pm.  Each class differs in length based on what they make in the class.  This class lasted about an hour and a half.  This time we made biscuits and they started the class by bringing the kids out to the garden to pick fresh herbs to use.  Each kid got a bowl and was able do every step of the process from measuring to mixing and rolling and then they got a tour of the kitchen and got to watch the biscuits cook.  They even had lots of toppings for the kids to eat with their biscuits like cinnamon butter, peanut butter and cherries.

get-attachment.aspxget-attachment-11.aspxJust for an idea of other things they make, they told us they made meatballs last time, and the Chef holding the class for the evening decides what to make.

I would recommend this class for kids over 5.  My 6-year-old loved it.  They allowed the parents to stay and watch, or you were able to leave your child and run errands or take a walk.  There was a younger child there and it just did not hold his attention.  Think about how it is cooking at home with a three-year old, it’s fun for a minute and then they are over it.  Even though there is no age restriction to the class and you can help your child, I think it’s definitely geared for 5 and up.

get-attachment-16.aspxget-attachment-17.aspxAs soon as the class ended my son was asking if we could come back for the next one.  Oh, and each kid got to take home a certificate of completion and a coupon for a free kids meal.  Can’t beat it for a free class and I maybe would have even paid a fee for the quality of the class =)

I’m also excited to check out the adult cooking classes that are also listed on the flier!  A $20 fee includes a three course meal while you sit back and watch a Chef teach you how to prepare a meal. Fun!

1st Annual Grilled Cheese Fest @ LHF

get-attachment-25.aspxI was excited to be asked to be on the Grilled Cheese Board for the first annual Grilled Cheese Festival at Living History Farms.  Of course the event took place on National Grilled Cheese Day (April 12, 2014) and it was part of the Cabin Fever Series (all events 21+) that LHF does each year to get people out of the house and enjoying local food, beer, wine and more.


The Grilled Cheese Board was made up of Wini Moranville (author of Chez Bonne Femme and former Datebook diner), Joe Lawler (food and music writer for Juice Magazine, Grant Chapin (fellow food blogger from Iowa Foodie) and myself.   Check us out to the right! ————->

Starting soon after we arrived, the judging began.  We were presented with 6 sandwiches from 6 chefs in the following categories: Classic, Glorified and Anything Goes.  Ticket-holders were also treated to samples of each sandwich and got to vote for the crowd favorite.

get-attachment-23.aspxTickets were $20 for non-(LHF)members and $16 for members.  Ticket prices also included 2 drink tickets good for beer, wine or soda.  Pretty good deal!


While none of us found a sandwich we didn’t like, some sure stood out! There were sandwiches with chocolate, bacon jam, and some loaded with jalapeños.  Spicy Cheetos even made an appearance!

The Cheese Shop of Des Moines took the prizes in Classic and Glorified while Say Cheese (a newer food truck in the area) took Anything Goes.  And the crowd favorite…Hy-vee!


Other competitors included, Americana, Local Yocals and Whole Foods.  That’s some tough competition!

If you couldn’t get tickets to this sold-out event this year, make sure to purchase your tickets early for next year.  I’ll of course let you know as soon as they are available!

What a fun and tasty way to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day!

Happy Library Week 2014

Next week, April 13-19th, 2014 is National Library Week !- Do you know where your local library is?  In hopes to honor our local libraries and encourage you all to take of advantage of their great programing, our friend (and now frequent contributor) Maria highlights some of our local libraries in this great post:

get-attachment-33.aspxOK – most people do know where their library is located, but are you taking full advantage of your library’s materials and programming? A recent survey of Urbandale residents revealed that a lower percentage of citizens use the Urbandale library than might be expected, and there is a huge drop off in use for those of its residents living west of the interstate. In honor of National Library Week I decided to highlight some things people may not know about some of out local libraries .

Libraries aren’t just for books anymore. By now most users have figured out that you can check out DVDs and audio CDs while at the library. People seem less aware that patrons can check out digital material from home, at 3AM, in their pajamas. Unwilling to venture out unnecessarily during this epicly cold winter, I have acquainted myself with the Urbandale Public Library’s digital services.


Urbandale uses WILBOR (see note below) to deliver audiobooks and e-books to its users. It also uses Zinio to deliver e-magazines, and another program to deliver downloadable MP3 Music. I love having these materials as an option. I am particularly partial to downloading audiobooks as they save the most money. Free compared to about $25 per book is quite the deal, and with bluetooth and a mobile device I can listen in my car as well as at home. I was even able to give up my hard copy subscriptions to a couple of magazines since through this program I can have each month’s issue delivered wirelessly to me free of charge, and as a bonus no longer have to worry about recycling it when I am finished. Now that I have the systems pretty well figured out, I have something digital checked out at almost all times.


If your urge is to get out of the house rather than to hunker down, the Urbandale library has some great reading spaces in addition to their coffee shop. The indoor reading space has a window with a view of the adjoining park and a fireplace, and for warm weather there is a relatively shady courtyard.

??????????????????While summer reading programs remain a staple of the library’s programming at most of the local libraries, there are a lot of less expected programs at the libraries Library too. My son has discovered the Lego club that meets the last Friday of each month at the Urbandale library. The children are given a starter idea and get a chance to build based on that and their own imaginations. Their creations are then placed in the display case of the children’s section.  He is also anxiously anticipating being old enough to join their Minecraft group. There is a teen book club and a couple of book club options for adults. Placing yourself on their email list gets you a monthly update of the programing and special event offerings (

  Sheryl has participated in baby sign language classes at the West Des Moines Library as well as listened to many interesting speakers at the Des Moines Libraries and participated in the annual book sales that are fantastic.  The Forest Ave Library even hosts an annual Soul Food Festival!  The Clive and West Des Moines Libraries throw pretty cute holiday celebrations as well.

10151465_10203397798451499_1267233223_nget-attachment-25.aspxI spent quite a bit of time at the West Des Moines library this week, poking around their website and can see why everyone raves about the programing. For one thing the WDM library maintains a kids, a teen, and an adult blog (gotta love those blogs) with each sharing a reading recommendation. It is evident that they have embraced technology, even having developed their own app. Their website in general and their online catalog in particular seem to be well designed and easy to use. In addition to WILBOR content (see note below) they also utilize OneClickDigital for delivery of digital materials. For the traditionalist, I was impressed to see a selection of 15 national newspapers available at the adult current magazines and reference table areas that can be perused at leisure within the library. Believe it or not, there are sure to be days this summer that having a well air conditioned and comfortable space to chillax and read will be just the ticket. While looking over the calendar offerings, I was also glad to see that WDM is maximizing use of their space by hosting meetings for community groups such as the Department of Education and Health Department. Kids activities are also well represented with several available storytimes. Another thing that residents may not know to take full advantage of is that most libraries, West Des Moines included, take requests for what books to purchase. Due to publishers’ constraints libraries are somewhat limited in what digital materials they are allowed to purchase, but most are happy to purchase a physical book they know a patron is looking for.

10157080_10203397798491500_1772896001_nA Note about WILBOR   WILBOR is a state-wide system utilized by most libraries in Iowa to deliver at least a portion of their digital lending materials. It can be a bit confusing to set up and to navigate, and your library may also use additional separate systems for other digital materials. If you have difficulty with set up or use, remember you can bring your device into your local library and get help from a librarian.

 Here are some comments from our readers about their favorite libraries:

“The Waukee Library is our favorite.  It’s still small enough that the librarians know our names, but is growing and always has a new book or two that at least one person in my family will enjoy.  Also, we love story times and the extra programs like Lego club and Science classes for my 2nd grader.”




“Sparkle hoop dance at Urbandale Library over Spring Break was a great program for older kids!”  Notice the great photo from this event, above!


get-attachment-35.aspxReader Staci gives a nod to the Clive Library with this photo:

Some links to other local libraries:

Johnston Public Library

Des Moines Public Libraries

Kirkendall (Ankeny) Public Library

Norwalk Public Library

Feel free to leave a comment about your favorite library and what you love about it below to say thank to our local libraries for providing such great resources for all of us!