When summer serves up kind of a sour lemonade, it helps to have some distractions — like big bowls of chocolate cherry ice cream, a sewing project for a lovely friend that takes over the dining room table – and a visit from your mom.
I’m getting more confident in my quilting and learning to embrace the imperfections. I remember my grandpa always saying that we leave some lumps in the mashed potatoes so people know they’re homemade. It’s a lesson that extends outside the kitchen for me.
My mom and I used to watch a lot of Gilmore Girls together (I’ve referenced the fact that Rory moved to Iowa to cover the Obama campaign at the same time I moved here, thus cementing the fact that we are spirit sisters). A couple of days ago, Nicole from Making it Lovely linked to this post of Rory’s reading list from the show.
I’ve read 34.5 of them (I got halfway through The Master and Margarita for book club a few years ago), but it’s a long list and I think I’ll have to reference it next time I’m looking for a book to check out.
That sweet book girl print from The Black Apple was one of the first things I got for my single-20something-in-Des-Moines apartment in Waterbury. This one is cute, too.
Three hundred interesting and interested people at the Science Center of Iowa. Ten live speakers. A selection of streamed videos from TED.com. Fellow organizers from three other Midwestern cities. A photo booth, into which VPs of The Greater Des Moines Partnership crammed with a RAYGUN T-shirt-wearing former Lt. Governor of Ohio. A pop-up coffee shop and bookstore (Mars Cafe & Beaverdale Books, natch). Legos. Play-dough. An amazing post-event dinner at Baru 66. Great conversation. Brilliant ideas. What more could a girl ask for?
I cannot WAIT to share the videos from our TEDxDesMoines speakers with you, but until then, have you watched this TED.com one on Tesla? We showed it at our event.
Front porches are for sharing a weathered, wooden bench that’s been around longer than both of your ages, combined and then some.
They’re for enjoying a popsicle and conversation until dusk settles and the fireflies come out and then dark falls and you start to wonder where on that bike trail your husbands could still be, but not too much because they’re certainly just fine and you’re enjoying this time they’ve given you to yourselves.
Front porches are for sharing visions about the future, and giggling over a newly printed stack of photos from months past, and calling another friend on speakerphone and leaving a message to let her know that right there, on that porch, the two of you are thinking of her.
They’re like a pause button for life, I think. A sphere of space where it’s OK to just sit and watch the world — or just the neighbors — go by.
I’ll admit: That title is a bit of a tease, because I only have a photo of one other piece to show you today! I took a bunch more as promised, but they haven’t made the jump from camera to computer yet. It’s been a flurry of activity around these parts.
This piece is mega-meaningful, because Joe’s sister Molly made it for us as a wedding gift. Molly is a preschool teacher who has a serious crafty streak. It might be hard to tell from the photo, but this is a collage made of tiny pieces of paper she cut and glued in the shape of our house, down to the weather vane! The shingles are separate pieces, and the window cutouts are intricate. We have this hanging next to our front door in the entry; it’s one of my most favorite gifts I’ve ever received. And, if you haven’t seen a picture of my house yet, this snowy one should prove that the tiny paper replica is pretty darn accurate!
Molly even put the photo* that Joe and I used in our newspaper-themed wedding invitations in the doorway. *Taken by our friend Bethany.
So, not quite the house tour I promised yet, but both of these fit the wedding theme!
P.S. When my bestie Amanda got married this summer, we sent her and her husband this and this poster as a gift, because they live in and own several awesome rental properties in the Tower Grove neighborhood of St. Louis. Noah MacMillan did both of them, and he was excellent to work with!
In atypical traditionalist fashion, I knew I wanted to take part in the custom of spousal-wedding-gift-giving when Joe and I were married two years ago. A watch seems like the typical token of sentiment for the occasion, but I wanted my gift to have a little more individual meaning. When I saw this piece by Jeff “Buffalo” Bonker, I knew investing in original art that we could share in our home would be a great way to celebrate our commitment:
It felt like a fit for a bunch of reasons, like the fact that Joe is an ardent Cubs fan, that our house was once owned by Sec Taylor, the famed Des Moines Register sports editor after whom Principal Park was originally named (it’s still Sec Taylor Field), and that the artist was a colleague when Joe and I met working at the Register. Plus, with the gold dome of the Capitol in the background, if we ever leave Des Moines we’ll be able to take a landmark with us. And I thought it was just plain cool, especially since it’s acrylic painted on wood and has some heft to it. I talked with Bonker about the piece, which I first saw on his Facebook page, and we were able to work out a deal that fit my budget. I’d purchased art on Etsy before, but this felt like a real investment in a local artist, and it was exciting! I knew Joe would love it, too.
Fast forward and it turns out I chose an award-winning painting. Bonker submitted an image of the work for inclusion in the Des Moines 2011 Performance Report, and it won People’s Choice!
Bonker was able to pop by and borrow back his painting back for a couple days to get some higher quality images, and I get to be tickled that the Iowa Cubs wanted to buy it from him, but he had to tell them it was mine! Sounds like there might be a commission in the works. When I ran into him at Americana the other day, Bonker told me that he’s recently moved into the Fitch Building, where he’ll finally have a studio, and is newly represented by Kavanaugh Gallery. It’s exciting to see passionate people gain momentum like that.
I’m already running out of space, and there are a bunch of local artists I still want to purchase. I’ll follow up this post with some stories of other art we’ve acquired (on a budget) for our home so far. It’ll be a fun little tour, because I’m a total nerd.
P.S. TEDxDesMoines speaker and local artist Rachel Buse had a thoughtful post on the art choices for the Performance Report on Art Beacon Des Moines.
Highlights of yesterday at 80/35:
Snagging an up-front spot for the Avett Brothers:
And getting to see our friend Danny and his sweet band, Seedlings, on one of the free stages:
I think my goal for the day will have to be trying on this crazy RecycleMeIowa owl costume. It dances!
Photo via RecycleMe Iowa Facebook page
P.S. I think Tattly tatoos are super cute, but I wonder where I would ever wear one. Next year, I’m going to make one part of my music fest style. Hopefully I wouldn’t sweat it off in seconds!
As many of you know, I’ve been working for the past few months to help plan TEDxDesMoines. I can’t believe it’s just 10 days away! From coming up with this year’s theme: The Space Between, to helping select speakers and mapping out how our attendees will interact and experience the day, it’s been a big adventure. (Not to mention our trip to Qatar to meet and workshop with other organizers.) When I left journalism, a big reason was to get to be one of the people who was actually doing things to strengthen our community. Planning TEDxDesMoines has been completely volunteer, and it’s kept me pretty busy. But when I think about the opportunity to bring together people from different backgrounds to listen and then react to paradigm-shifting ideas, it’s definitely worth it.
We have a few tickets remaining, so if you’re interested in going on July 15, don’t forget to register soon. If the $40 registration fee is too steep, shoot me a message and I might be able to work something out through a few volunteer slots we have open. The day will feature three different sessions with a wide range of speakers. We planned this conference so that you don’t have to be a tech person, or work in a creative field to fit in. Hopefully everyone will come away from the day having made a new connection: to a concept they’d never considered, or a person they’ve never met.
Here’s one of my favorite TED talks, “If I should have a daughter” from spoken word poet Sarah K:
If I Should Have a Daughter
P.S. I got to write a guest post “X Marks the Spot” for Silicon Prairie News last week. It was fun!
I’m back with another from my occasional “Des Moines Date-in-a-box” series with a special anniversary edition! This one is a treat for your tongue and ears. Tell your date you have plans Tuesday night!
Dessert before dinner: Pack a picnic for later, but first head to Chocolaterie Stam on Ingersoll to enjoy gelato or their wine and chocolate sampler out on the patio. Their magical alcove has a lovely fountain and a relaxed, private feel to it. Stam chocolate is rich and creamy and makes you sit and savor it, so maybe get a few pieces to break out again after the picnic. Stam closes at 7 p.m. on weeknights, so scoot downtown right after to settle in for the concert.
The activity: The Yankee Doodle Pops on the lawn of the Capitol. This free, patriotic concert is a highlight of summer. If you can somehow factor sweet corn into your picnic, you’re doing everything right. Wear red, white and blue, bring a big blanket, your picnic dinner and set up looking out over the East Village. Early birds can enjoy a prelude concert by the Turner Center Jazz Orchestra at 6:30 p.m. before the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3. The concert caps off with a fabulous fireworks display.
It’s been two years since I’ve seen the Yankee Doodle Pops, so I’m extra excited. Joe and I were married on July 3, 2010 and last year my best friend and her husband tied the knot on the same weekend. I’m thrilled to spend our second anniversary this year out on the lawn together, listening to the Des Moines Symphony! I’ll have to zip down and join Joe after my class lets out, but I hope he can get there early and save us a spot with a big blanket. We’re also celebrating early with a dinner at Baru 66 tonight because Joe has never been and it is amazing.
We had a hot birthday weekend down at the farm, with air so heavy with humidity that you felt like you should suck it through a straw, if you weren’t already sipping a specially mixed beverage out of a whole pineapple.
(The OXO racheting pineapple slicer Joe brought home from a work demo was a big hit! It cores, it slices into a sweet spiral and it creates a vessel for a tropical cocktail. A totally unnecessary kitchen utensil that doubles as a party trick.)
I only have a point-and-shoot camera, but I felt compelled to capture all of the angles and wildflowers. We typically head to Cash Farm later in summer and fall, so it was a treat to explore the property in a wild bloom.
Mia and I went on a long walk down the gravel rode and gathered up a little bouquet and moooed at the cows, who then came running toward the fence, scary stampede style.
Ty defied gravity. (Note to self: When it looks like kids might be trying to DIY a zipline, they’re definitely attempting to DIY a zipline.)
Beer was brewed, pinatas broken. Dogs tongues lolled around. They wanted water, and this:
We all rather like it down at the farm.
It felt nice to take it slow. These next few weeks are going to be a whirlwind.