Category Archives: Des Moines Dates

Guest post up on “CAUGHT”

The folks over at the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau asked me to contribute to their new blog, “Caught,” and I thought it would be a fun opportunity to revisit my days as a writer for Juice magazine.

Since it’s just a few weeks until Valentine’s Day, and one of the most popular search terms used to find my blog is “Des Moines date ideas,” I wrote “Date Ideas to Melt Hearts, if not Snow,” which went live today.


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Des Moines Dates: Tarot for two

We needed to do something different. To get out of the sweatpants+Netflix rut of marriage in a Midwest winter. I wanted to check something off my “30 Before 30” list, and my aunt had gifted us some Christmas cash to spend on a date night*. So, naturally, I e-mailed some psychics and scheduled a couples tarot card reading.

Ula and Vianne of Visions Psychics were recommended by friends, and I liked the idea of going to a neighborhood psychic (they can come to you, but also offer readings in a home parlor in the North of Grand neighborhood.) We opted for two 15-minute tarot card readings, which they performed together at a round table lit by candles.


I don’t really believe in psychic powers, per se, but I do feel that we all carry certain energies as part of our personhood. We weren’t searching for deep answers or anything, but it turned out to be an interesting experience.

I’m not sure if my aura or extensive presence on the internet clued them into my career in communications, but a big surprise was that the American Southwest kept coming up in connection with my moneymaking and career future/spirit guide. Hmmm.

Joe was excited to hear that his cards indicated something to do with food/alcohol and Colorado. I did get emotional when they showed cards that indicated a parent had died when Joe was younger. We told them that was true for me, but not him, and Ula elaborated in a way that made me reach for the tissues.

Do I feel like we’re really going to uproot ourselves from Des Moines to pursue some sort of brewery-running life in the mountains? Not at all. But after the reading, we went to Louie’s Wine Dive and split a carafe and lobster poutine and talked through what they said and had some good laughs together.


We’ve been really wrapped up in the day-to-day logistics of parenthood, home ownership and work/volunteer responsibilities that it was nice to use our psychic reading as a catalyst for dreaming together and talking through some topics that we wouldn’t otherwise bring up on a random weeknight at home, or if we had just gone out to dinner.

*We saved money by calling on our babysitting co-op for free babysitting, using Christmas money and going out for a drink and appetizer instead of dinner, but the evening was still a little spendier than our typical outings.


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Des Moines Dates: East Village Hipster edition

Driving downtown on Saturday night, Joe and I realized how long it’s been since we’ve been out — sans baby. I almost opened the sun roof and howled at the moon. Really, I checked my phone every five minutes to make sure I didn’t have any texts about baby meltdowns.

Some friends offered to watch Emmett, and we hemmed and hawed about what to do on a kid-free night. We’ve been wanting to try Louie’s Wine Dive, which is nearby, but the news that I have to cut out dairy for awhile made me not want to go anywhere that would cause me to lust after menu items I can’t have.

So instead we decided to do a totally hipster East Village date: Dinner at the vegan New World Cafe followed by drinks at Up-Down, Des Moines’ new “barcade.”

My handsome date, about to challenge me to the “Iowa” course on Cruis’n USA:


I wouldn’t say that New World Cafe exudes romance — it’s really more of a lunch spot — but it was fun to try something new. The menu here changes weekly and is influenced by what’s available seasonally. Joe got the East Walnut Street Burger: a walnut-veggie-quinoa patty topped with pickled veggie slaw, tomato jam, parsley-cashew “aioli,” arugula and sunflower sprouts. I ordered the Mexican Bowl: a mix of grains, beans, roasted potatoes & yams, veggies, avocado and green herb salsa. It came topped with a  smoky cashew “cheese” that gave the dish that melty flavorful finish I come to rely on (too much?) from the real thing.


We were both worried the meal wouldn’t be filling, but it was nice to not feel overstuffed after dining out — and I didn’t feel the need to make myself a midnight snack!

Up-down was packed; it definitely feels like the new hotspot. We got an invite to the preview party, but it was while Emmett was in the hospital after his surgery, so had to miss out on being the cool kids who get first dibs on skee ball. But I did beat Joe for our first best-outta-three round! (Those are not our scores below.)

Are you following Up-Down on Instagram?

Are you following Up-Down on Instagram?

I grew up being terrible at video games — totally move the controller with my hands instead of pushing the buttons. And at public arcades, I mostly had to pretend to play because my parents would never give us quarters. Up-Down was offering double tokens before 8 p.m., and all games are just one token, so we got to play quite a bit on $3. My go-to games are skee-ball and pinball, and we hit up those, but we both became mildly obsessed with Burgertime.


You basically run around trying to assemble burger patties before little fried eggs and hot dogs kill you. You can destroy them by throwing salt on them or plopping a bun/lettuce/patty on top of them. It’s totally sophisticated.

We have a few friends we do informal babysitting trading with, but Joe and I also joined a local babysitting co-op that uses an online point system to track sits. It’s a nice alternative to having to pay a sitter, and when you request a specific date everyone gets e-mailed with the option of picking it up instead of you having to make individual asks. One of the women from the co-op lives just down the street from us, so it’s introduced us to some new neighbors, too!

P.S. What’s the going rate for babysitters these days? 


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First Friday in the East Village

Joe and I hung out last night (OK, yesterday evening) in the East Village for the first time in a looong time. We went down for the DSM Magazine unveiling at Salon Spa W, because I have the “Second Cities” story in this issue. Talking with the sources in that story totally made me want to pack my bags for another trip. Theoretically, we could try Arnold’s Park in Okoboji this summer – or is that wishful thinking with a newborn?


I should have gotten a photo of us because we managed to pull ourselves together nicely, but it was a packed house! We didn’t feel like wasting our put-togetherness on a “date” to get groceries at IngerDahl’s, so we went on an actual date to Zombie Burger instead.

Not this Friday, but NEXT Friday, May 3, I plan on hitting up the East Village again for a craft-themed First Friday, when lots of the boutiques stay open late and serve treats and host artists, etc. That Friday is like the shining beacon of light at the end of the tunnel of finishing up my capstone. It would be a fun date night, too! Marissa from The Moon and the Honey put together this lovely little video of some of the spots that will be hosting crafters next week. It definitely makes Des Moines’ East Village look the way it makes me feel, so I’m happy to share her video with those of you who haven’t had the chance to experience that area firsthand.

I’m not sure if Ephemera is participating (ladies?!) this time, but they did just get a shoutout on the DSM website.

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Breakfast of champions?

I convinced Joe to make pancakes for Friday night dinner (which we smothered with Nutella and a banana), so it didn’t seem that wrong to have a hot dog for breakfast at the Iowa Cubs open house this morning.


Free hot dog, pop and chips in the Cub Club and you got to see the locker rooms (group shower!) and walk around the field. We met up with Ellen and Andy and the nieces and Caroline was pretty much in heaven. She took off around the warning track.


The franchise is going to have to re-think Cubbie Bear as a mascot, or hire Caroline as their Poster Child.


Polka dot leggings are the new baseball pants.


Oh! And Joe shaved his beard, per our standing marital agreement that he grows it from his b-day until Opening Day. Otherwise, I miss his face.


Bring it on, summer.


If you’ve never been to breakfast at the Cub Club, that’s a fun little weekday date you can take, overlooking the field. It’s pretty cheap, too. Otherwise, we finally tried Mullets for brunch a few weeks ago, and that’s greasyspoon-tastic.

Oh! And if you think baseball without brewskis is like a beach without sand, think about getting an Iowa Cubs Mug Club membership. It went up to $40 this year, but it’s still a decent deal:

  • 5 tickets good for any 2013 Iowa Cubs home game
  • First beer FREE every Thursday home game in 2013
  • 2013 logo mug (will fit in stadium cup holders)
  • Discounted refills at all 2013 Iowa Cubs home games

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Des Moines day-date: Lunch Unplugged

I’m not a very good party-all-night person. I think I made it to 1 a.m. a couple of weeks ago, to see my friend Andy DJ at the Mews, thanks to Shirley Temples, his power pop playlist and a good crowd, but staying up has been a struggle lately. (I’m going to attempt to blame it on the bump and night classes, but I’m pretty sure I’m just solidifying my status a lame old lady.) So it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a live show, and possibly longer since I’ve seen an artist I wasn’t already familiar with.

Enter, the concert lunch date!


Joe and I met up at the Temple for Performing Arts yesterday for “Lunch Unplugged.” We went to see Mieka Pauley.

I’d never heard of her, but was intrigued by how the series described her as a singer/songwriter whosepowerful alternative style melds together soul, blues, and rock, drawing comparisons to the likes of Ben Harper, Cat Power, Neko Case and Patty Griffin. She is the winner of the first ever Starbucks Emerging Artist Award, the Rocky Mountain Folk Festival Songwriter Showcase and the Rock Boat/BMI Song Contest. Mieka has performed over 650 shows in the past four years including bills with Eric Clapton, Jason Mraz, Citizen Cope, Wyclef Jean, Black Eyed Peas, John Legend and many others. Northeast Performer calls Mieka ‘a version of Sarah McLachlan with a switchblade in her shoe’.”

It was a fun show! I’m honestly not a huge fan of the Temple’s second floor stage as a concert venue (it feels really rigid and overly polite for some of the acts I’ve seen there), but it’s right upstairs from South Union. Of course, in the winter that means a hot sandwich and a big bowl of potato pepperjack soup, which is on my shortlist of things I miss about working downtown.


Mieka has a dark sense of humor that she kept up in her between-song-banter and the lyrics themselves. She struck me as sounding like a rebellious sister of Norah Jones who I could imagine sneaking out of a bedroom window at 2 a.m. with a guitar slung over her shoulder, headed out to play a show at an underground bar in the city. Listen Mieka’s Daytrotter session.

Check out the rest of the series, which includes piano, dance, opera, Americana and and another female singer/songwriter at (Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door and you can BYO lunch.)

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Ringing in 2013 with the Beatles

The plan for New Year’s Eve this year is to host a little dinner party for a group of friends (anyone have a favorite lasagna recipe?) and then all head down to the New Year’s Eve Pops at the Des Moines Symphony. It’s the “Classical Mystery Tour,” featuring Beatles hits. The cheapest tickets were just $15. We’re sitting in the waaaaay back, but I think that will work out well because no one will be able to tell me to sit down and stop dancing!


I think I’m going to wear this dress that I picked up last weekend while shopping for other Christmas gifts. I’m hoping the sheath sees me through the next few months of my expanding waistline.


The Symphony goes from 8-10 p.m., so we’ll have to find a spot for a nightcap and countdown. I wonder if Sbrocco will be open until midnight. Maybe the bar at Proof? Or we could always keep the jukebox going at the Alpine Taproom, my favorite nearby winter bar.


Photo via Pitter Patter Clunk

Last year I helped out at the Des Moines Social Club’s annual celebration, “The Bash”. It’s all-ages at Cap Square this year.

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