Tag Archives: Giveaway

Shifting skyline

We bundled up for the pre-dawn trip downtown, armed with coffee and hot chocolate, to catch a peek at the implosion of the Riverfront YMCA. Our family stood with the crowd of gawkers gathered across the riverbank, and my boy’s eyes grew so wide at the fireball and the sight of the building crumbling to the ground. The excitement lasted only a few seconds, but worth waking up for.


I’ve seen quite a bit of evolution in Des Moines’ urban landascape since I moved here in 2007 (most notably to me, the planting of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park), but for some reason this dramatic YMCA moment felt like a watershed we needed to witness. To be part of the before and after of our shifting skyline.


photo series via my friend Libby Crimmings 

If you’re into architecture and urban design, this is a fascinating time to be in the city, and there are plenty of opportunities to be part of the process. Huge projects, like the Waterworks Park “Change is in the Works” and smaller, neighborhood initiatives like the “Redefining Roosevelt” streetscape initiative we got a flyer on this week. The East Village is a colony of cranes these days, and ground just broke on the new Renzo Piano-designed Kum & Go headquarters. (All of this makes our drives home from school totally exciting for Emmett, who is big into construction sites.)


Let’s hear it for Des Moines! I’m curious: What new or upcoming development has you most excited about the future of our city? It could be brick-and-mortar, or programmatic. Leave a response in the comments and you could win one of these super cool Des Moines T-shirts from Hangry Hippos! Stacy recently launched a fun line and I’m excited to spread the word. I’ll pick a winner Monday, Oct. 12. (Hopefully I will have had a baby by then!)

P.S. Joe’s cousin’s wife, Jen, is part of this awesome “Transform Public Spaces” initiative in San Francisco that’s up for a Google Impact Challenge grant. Check out the amazing idea and give them a vote. It’s super easy; you don’t have to register or anything.



Filed under I love Des Moines

Top this: XO-LP giveaway fun

Smart friends and witty puns make life all the more enjoyable, and when you can combine the two — it’s magic.


illustration via XO-LP

I’ve known illustrator/pun-master/connector Laura Palmer of XO-LP fame for most of my time in Des Moines, and it’s been amazing to watch her journey into #goingsolo to follow her entrepreneurial dreams.

We kept running into each other coming/going at events like the September issue DSM unveiling (I wrote a story on soon-to-open jazz club Noce and she’s featured in a style story) and decided we had to actually make a point to see each other beyond a quick wave.

So the other week we grabbed coffee at Zanzibar’s and we finally caught up on life. I highly recommend starting any day with puns and caffeine. I also picked up a hand-illustrated frame mat (only $5!) that was super chill to sit and color in my pajamas. Emmett’s been all about blasting off! lately – can’t wait to fill this.


LP and I talked about making things and momentum and I told her about how much fun I had crafting my clay pizza earrings the other week.

I guess that’s how we got to today’s giveaway: I had enough supplies left over to bake up a fresh pair of pizza earrings, and I wanted someone who appreciates a slice of life as much as we do to have them.


Head over to Laura’s blog to find out how you can win a one-of-a-kind pair of pizza party earrings!

And Laura’s never one to leave anyone empty-handed. Her shop is full of great items, and she has a whole section of free printables to reel you in, too.

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Filed under Getting crafty, I love Des Moines, Side projects

College Savings Hunt

A crisp stack of notebooks. A fresh pack of highlighters. Unsullied erasers. Backpacks almost bigger than the kids carrying them.


Sports fans always trot out the “Hope Springs Eternal” headline at the start of baseball season (stealing a line from Alexander Pope) — but for me, a Total Nerd, that feeling of freshness comes at fall. I love seeing my Facebook feed filled with first-day-of-school smiles. Now that I’m a parent, I get butterflies for those on both sides of the camera (errr, smartphone).

It’s crazy how quickly kids grow, and I know in two blinks we’ll be posing Emmett on the front steps before he heads off to Kindergarten. So, naturally, I’m already thinking about college. It’s hard to save when you’re paying for daycare (uff da!), but having a College Savings Iowa 529 Plan makes it easier. We started one as soon as we had Emmett’s social security number, and have contributed little by little, and in bigger chunks when he gets holiday moolah from grandparents.

OK – So you don’t have kids. Don’t let your eyes glaze over yet. You can contribute to an Iowa 529 plan for a niece, nephew, mentee, or even open one for yourself if you’re going back for grad school. And wouldn’t it be nice to seed an account with $10,000?


Some readers may remember I used to work with the Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation, which is launching it’s Search the City contest right now. I know this project has taken a long time to launch, and I’m so excited to see it finally happening! It’ll be fun to solve clues and search for the medallion, which is worth a $10,000 college savings account! A registered Search the City Button owner that finds the medallion will receive a $10,000 college savings account that they may register in their name or the name of a beneficiary.

I’m giving away 5 Search the City buttons to blog readers who want to play along! To enter, just leave a comment letting me know your favorite thing about back to school season.

Oh – and here’ are some fascinating facts, fellow nerds:

  • Children with a savings account in their own name are six times more likely to go to college than children who don’t have an account.
  • Low-income students with just $500 or less in college savings are three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate.
  • 72% of low-income students with college savings enroll in college and 33% graduate. Without savings, just 45% enroll and 7% graduate.
  • $23 a month in a children’s savings account grows into $16,000 in savings by age 18, significantly decreasing the effects of college debt.

Read more about Search the City and buy a button to enter the contest.


Filed under I love Des Moines

Sweet little giveaway

To all my friends with a sweet tooth: RUN*, don’t walk to the nearest Barnes & Noble, grocery store or Lowes and snag a copy of the Cuisine At Home “Cookies, Brownies & Bars” Summer 2014 special issue.


*It will be on stands through late July, but you’re going to want to run in order to burn some calories before you get your buttery hands on this bad boy.

Joe brought home a few samples from test batches for me to try and I have three words for you: Puppy chow bars. Yes! These are a thing. A sweet, sweet thing.

Puppy chow was a staple treat for my high school cross country team. Our friend Carly’s mom made it for almost every meet and we’d be covered in powdered sugar after our races. It may have been 20% of the reason I ran at all.


I’m giving away a copy of this issue to a reader who leaves her (or his) favorite dessert in the comments. You can just tell me what the dessert is, or get a bonus entry if you share or link to the recipe. Giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday, April 14. I’ll pick someone at random.

Like all Cuisine magazines, there are no ads, just awesome recipes, instructions and photos. (Joe’s job is to art direct photo shoots and design the layout.) His favorite thing in the book were the carrot cake blondies. They also have Thin Mint & Samoa (aka Carmel Delight) hacks as well as some classics and some super interesting ideas like cheddar caramel popcorn bars.



Filed under Cooking