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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!

Bonefish Winter Menu




Luckily Bonefish Grill West Des Moines was gracious enough to invite us in to try their winter menu, since so many of you on social media already knew about this and didn’t tell me!

When I posted this photo from the restaurant, I was flooded with messages saying it was everyone’s favorite!

img_1223Well, I too have my new favorite drink of the season ever, now!  This deliciousness is the Winter White Cosmo and it’s at Bonefish Grill.  Go!  It’s sweet for those of us who like girly drinks, but not overly so, since it’s balanced with white cranberry juice.  My sweet-drink despising, cranberry-hating boyfriend even loved it and ordered one for himself!  And BTW, they are only $5 on Mondays!

img_1227We of course had to try some of the other winter items like the Lobster, Crab and Artichoke dip, YUM!  It was no joke, it was chock full of lobster and crab.

We also had the catch of the day (Swordfish) which is my favorite fish, and Cody (our waiter) was nice enough to bring out a sampling of all of the sauces for us to try!  Rick’s fave was the Pan Asian.

img_1209I don’t think a visit to Bonefish is complete without just a little Bang Bang Shrimp, so we also got an order of the Bang Bang shrimp tacos. So good!

Make sure to try the pumpkin creme brulee while it’s here for the winter!  And look for us enjoying img_1229more Winter White Cosmos this winter, because we plan to live here while they last!





Bonefish Grill

img_0022img_0024Being from Boston, I normally steer clear of seafood restaurants in the Midwest. The taste of fresh caught lobster and scallops just can’t be replicated this far from the ocean.

So when Bonefish Grill invited me in to try out their new fall menu, I thought it would just be okay.  Boy, was I wrong!  Bonefish has a location here in the metro in West Des Moines at the West Glen Shopping Center.

We started our mid-week date night visit to Bonefish with $3.50 glasses of Merlot, which were fantastic. We caught the tail-end of happy hour and got in on this sweet deal. And how cute are the Bonefish wine glasses?

img_0021Our, waitress, MacKenzie, has been working at Bonefish for SEVEN years! She was outstanding.  She was super knowledgeable, friendly, and ultra-sweet.  They are very accommodating to special diets, so she said all of the staff need to be super educated about what’s in each dish.

img_0030It was recommended to us that we try the “Dine and Discover, Dinner for Two” menu, and who are we to argue?  $50 includes an order of Bang Bang Shrimp to share for an appetizer. And OMG the Bang Bang Shrimp. If you haven’t tried them, you must. They are lightly-battered and pan-fried and served covered in the most addictive sauce. EVER.

The second course gives you a choice of two entrees from a list of four (which is shown above and which all sound amazing) and then you get a dessert to share.

img_0036Here is where we were start to get really impressed…. We ordered the Fresh Swordfish with Pumpkin Ravioli and Fresh Rockfish and Shrimp.

img_0032The swordfish was by far the best we’d ever had.  If you blindfolded me and did a taste-test, I may have mistaken it for beef.  It was cooked perfectly with no “fishy-ness”. We loved it. Rick was raving about the blackening on the shrimp and I thought that it was great as well.  There was nothing healthy about the butter-laced green beans and that’s ok by me, delicious. The whole meal was satisfying and we were talking about coming back for it again before we were even finished.

img_0041And the dessert….Rick quickly proclaimed this one of his favorite desserts ever. It’s called Jamaican Coconut pie and it’s served with rum sauce. It was incredible. Think big, warm coconut macaroon with whipped cream and rum sauce.

I hope they don’t mind me sharing….because says they got it off the the official Bonefish website, but you’ll love this so much when you try is as part of the three course menu, that you’ll want to make this at home, immediately when you get home:

So thanks again to Bonefish Grill for treating us to an awesome date night! We think you should treat yourself to a date night this week and go try the Dinner for Two, which is a bargain, at Bonefish!


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!

Hurricane Grill & Wings


Taco Hangover

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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!





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!

Guttenburgers..however you pronounce it.

IMG_6650 IMG_6648So up until today, I assumed this new restaurant, Guttenburgers, which I of course was at my table ready to eat at 11:00 on opening day, was pronounced “Goo-tenburgers”.  As in, the German meaning (and pronunciation)…Good.  It made sense…Good-Burgers.  Then, someone on our Facebook page pointed out that the owner is from Guttenberg, Iowa…So it’s Gut-enbergers.  And all along I thought it was also pronounced “Goot”enberg, Iowa.  Of course I thought Nevada, Iowa would also sound like the place that houses Las Vegas and Madrid was like the place in Spain….I digress….back to burgers…


IMG_6649 IMG_6653I loved the feel of this new burger restaurant.  It’s located right near Jethro’s Jambalaya (West des Moines/Waukee). It is set up a little like Zombie Burger where you can either order at the counter to-go or dine-in for full-service.  Or heck, just stop in for some ice cream or a milkshake.


My burger was solid.  My dining partners and I agreed that the burger toppings stole the show as the hamburger patty was good, but wasn’t the standout item.  My favorite part of the Orchard Burger was the caramelized apples.  I’d order it again, bacon, brie and glazed apples…on a burger…how can you go wrong?


The fries are IMG_6660Hawkeye/Cyclone themed and are darned tasty.  The cyclone fries are more like the spiral cut potato chips you get at the fair with parmesan cheese, garlic and ranch dip.  Nice that you can IMG_6663get a small serving for only $3.49… Fried goodness at it’s best.  The crispy-battered fried pickle chips were also great.  The homemade bacon mac & cheese stood out and would be lovely as a meal by itself.


IMG_6669 IMG_6666My friend really enjoyed her buffalo chicken sandwich.  They also have an impressive selection of ice cream flavors such as Kitty Kitty Bang Bang (I didn’t ask), Bourbon Pecan Pie, Superhero and more…they also have a sweet potato fry dessert that sounds heavenly and comes with a scoop of ice cream on it.  If I wasn’t so dang full, I would have totally tried it.  Next time for sure.


Our waitress, who also happens to have a sister who could be her twin working there (It took me half way IMG_6672through my meal to realize there were two of them), IMG_6684was very attentive and friendly.  I can’t wait to try more menu items here.  Fun to have a burger/ice cream joint in this part of town!  As you can see, the Oreo ice cream was a hit with our littlest table-mate today.

Family friendly but also great food to nurse a hang-over.  I liked it!  Guttenburgers will be entering our casual dining out rotation for sure!


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!