Tag Archives: iowa city

American Harvest eatery/Lincoln home (natch)/FLWright house (surprise!)–Springfield

Honest Abe’s house was worth a visit in Illinois’s state capital but a nearby house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright knocked our socks off. The hour long tour took us all though the rambling Dana-Thomas  house with barrel vaulted ceilings, original FLWright furnishings and even a duck pin bowling alley in the basement. The house was a sight to see! Also had a good brunch at the american harvest Eatery. Now barreling home on Interstate 80 after a brief stop at the always good Oasis cafe for some middle eastern food in Iowa City. Best part about Springfield was seeing emma and rocket (and noah and Rachel!)


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Innkeepers coffee/Galesburg Illinois

Galesburg, Main streetPretty morning here in the central (we think) lllinois city of Galesburg where we stopped for what turned out to be excellent coffee and apricot Danish at Innkeeper’s coffee. Art Deco exterior, stamped tin roof and sunny nouveau Mediterranean vibe inside. we walked a little down Main Street, deserted at 9:30 am and clearly trying to hold on with lots of old storefronts with great tile work, masonry, stained glass, copper…some empty, some with antique stores, remnants of an industrial past. Drove briefly past the Knox college campus, circa 1837,  site of one of the Lincoln Douglas debates (or elsewhere in Galesburg…also home poet Carl Sandburg.)

last night we we had a disappointing tapas dinner at devotay in Iowa city. Mediocre food, small overpriced portions, lacadaisal service. Oh well.stayed at drab comfort Inn (we get a discount) at the edge of the quad cities airport in Moline.  Our view was of an identical hotel (apparently a best western). On to champaign to visit emma and rocket.

Swing leisure apts, Galesburg

Swing leisure apts, Galesburg

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Filed under DESTINATIONS - Iowa, Illinois

Kinky Boots and Paul Taylor Dance coming to Des Moines

Kinky Boots (musical poster).jpg

Always look forward this time of year to finding out what shows will be coming to Des Moines during the 2014-2015 season – and as usual there are a few I’m excited about! Paul Taylor Dance comes on Nov. 8 to the Civic Center – following on the heels of the wildly successful visit by Alvin Ailey Dance in March, this is a good sign of more topnotch dance to come, which has been sorely missing in Des Moines and in Iowa City since the demise of Hancher Auditorium (soon to rise again on higher ground!). Also excited to see “Kinky Boots” – the Tony award-winning best musical. Saw the movie – look forward to seeing the show. Feel the same about “Once” which I’ll see next week on my birthday. What a treat!

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Filed under dance, Des Moines

Hubbard street dance, Andy’s Thai kitchen, eataly, Chicago

We are unexpectedly encountering snow on our return home from Chicago but it didn’t start until we were west of Davenport and so far it hasn’t been as bad as our outbound trip Friday night. Right now, at 6:43 pm about 10 miles east of Iowa city the flurries have stopped. But we don’t know what lies ahead.

Before this I was going to write that our Chicago trip had been worth the sometimes harrowing drive. Easy for me to say since I am not the driver. Still, we had a really good albeit brief visit to Chicago. Hubbard street’s Saturday night performance of “One thousand pieces” was among the best I have seen during decades as a Hubbard street fan. The dancing, choreography, staging was superb and there were some “firsts” for this dance fan, notably the dancers performing on the equivalent of a giant slip n’ slide, with the water adding all kinds of interesting effects, from the sound of the water splashing to the sight of the water on the darkish stage with white clouds of drifting white smoke/dry ice, to the added challenge for the dancers of executing challenging moves on a slippery surface. The second act of the piece began with a solemn line of 20 some dancers staring out into the dark theater, then executing one twitchy move after another in unison. that gave us in the audience a lot to watch and ponder. I was also pleasantly surprised be the Phillip Glass score which was less monotonously repetitive and more stirringly melodic than expected. I do think they could have turned the lights on just a little – I’m not the only viewer who got a bit sleepy…

      Earlier in the day we had yet another excellent meal at Andy’s Thai kitchen in Lakeview. The crispy basil pork belly, yum. We tried a few different dishes and they were well done. The panang had excellent quality chicken and eggplant well cooked and a not too heavy, well seasoned sauce.

Before the ballet, we braved the crowds at the new Eataly that just opened on Ohio Street just west of Michigan Avenue (next to Room and Board, one of my favorite furniture stores. Eataly Chicago seemed brighter and less chaotic than its cousin in New York City. It was a perfect place to get a light bite before the ballet. We decided on a plate of well picked Italian cheeses served with some
Candied fruit, figs in balsamic, honey and olive oil. We were swiftly served and our plucky Midwestern server made sure we were on our way when need be to make our show on tome.

Now back to now-snowy interstate 80. (postscript: we made it home safely – and slowly…)


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Filed under Chicago, dance, DINING

Super duper super 8 in Le Claire

My husband warns that we haven’t yet heard the truck drivers likely to be partying here tonight, but so far I am liking this Super 8 in this eastern Iowa Mississippi River town. I do have to admit that my thumbs up may be colored by the relief I feel at no longer being on Interstate 80 driving in the dark through a “wintery mix,” with trucks zooming past us, their tires flinging rain, ice, snow onto our windshield. This Super 8 seems pretty new. It’s clean, the bed is firm with ok linens, there’s s big flat screen tv (we are watching a Seinfeld episode so old that George has hair. sort of.)

Anyway, we didn’t hit bad weather until after our delicious middle eastern dinner at Oasis in Iowa City and with any luck we won’t encounter much more during the duration of our trip to Chicago.

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What’s with the tree sweaters in Grinnell and Iowa City? Yarn bombing?

Some extra hands to help

During a recent visit to Grinnell, we were struck by the tree branches sporting colorfully hand-knitted sweaters on the campus’s “Peace Grove.”

A tree branch with sweater (or sock?) on the Grinnell College campusOn a cold winter day, the trees  looked bundled up and warm.


It took me a few minutes to remember where I’d last seen – and been intrigued by – trees wearing sweaters. It was in nearby Iowa City, of course. According to a recent story in Patch, the Iowa City sweaters are a public art project dating back to Nov. 2012 – the handiwork of dozens of volunteer knitters who hand knit “tree-huggers.”

Stitching a long sweater
Apparently this started downtown and spread to other parts of Iowa City – and maybe an hour west to Grinnell? Apparently it’s part of a new “yarn bombing” trend where people knit sweaters to decorate trees in public areas. (Seems like the wrong term for such a peaceful activity.) Here’s more from wikipedia: Yarn bombing, yarnbombing, yarnstorming, guerrilla knitting, urban knitting or graffiti knitting is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk.

History (from wikipedia)

Yarn bombing examples have been recorded as early as May 2004 in Den Helder, Netherlands. In the U.S., in 2005 Texas knitters used their leftover and unfinished knitting projects, but it has since spread worldwide with custom pieces being created by artists.[1][3][2]

The start of this movement has been attributed to Magda Sayeg, 37, from Houston, who says she first got the idea in 2005 when she covered the door handle of her boutique with a custom made cozy.[4] Though artist Shanon Schollian was knitting stump cozies in 2002 for clear cuts in Oregon[5]. The Knit Knot Tree by the Jafagirls in Yellow Springs, Ohio gained international attention in 2008.

Yarn bombing’s popularity has spread throughout the world. In Oklahoma City the Collected Thread store yarn bombed the Plaza District of the city on September 9, 2011 to celebrate their three-year anniversary as a functioning shop.[10] and in Australia a group called the Twilight Taggers refer to themselves as ‘fibre artists’.[11] Joann Matvichuk of Lethbridge, Alberta founded International Yarnbombing Day, which was first observed on June 11, 2011.[12]

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Filed under DESTINATIONS - Iowa, Iowa City

restaurants to check out all over the Midwest

Found a copy of the  Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Midwest Living on the library’s sale rack – so scooped it up since there’s always good recommendations on things to do in this neck of the woods. Here’s some restaurant recommendations:

– In Indianapolis, Recess (soup!)

– In Chicago, Gilt Bar and Restaurant on Magnificent Mile.

–  Woodbury, Minnesota (where we have friends!), Apertif (rotisserie chicken) and in neighboring St. Paul, Heartland (clever meat and potatoes) and Clearwater, Minn., Nelson Bros. Restaurant (yes, at a restaurant on I-94; fritter french toast w/wild rice sausage)

– Omaha, Hiro 88 (sushi and more in the Old Market district)

– Madison, Wisc. L’Etoile (longstanding haute green cuisine in new location)

– Kansas City, Glace Artisan Ice Cream (peanut butter ice cream with swirl of strawberry jam…) and Succotash

–  Traverse City, MI, Soul Hole (southern food in Old Town)

– Iowa City, Blue Bird Diner (Sunday brunch)


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Filed under Chicago, DESTINATIONS - Iowa, DINING, Illinois, Indianapolis, Iowa City, Kansas City, Michigan, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Omaha

Avant-garde artist feted in Iowa city

Lil Picard – cabaret actress, Andy Warhol Factory workerbee, avant-garde artist – is the subject of a show at the University of Iowa’s Black Box Theater through May 27. The show is organized by the U of I’s Museum of Art.

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Filed under DESTINATIONS - Iowa, Iowa City, museum exhibit

Best Burger in Iowa City?

A writer for Edible Iowa magazine says the best burger in Iowa City can be found at Short’s Burgers and Shine on Clinton Street, made with local beef and home-baked bun and apparently there’s a $6 Burger special on Monday nights. Don’t forget the hand-cut fries and the Iowa-brewed beer including the venerable Amana Colonies’ Millstream, as well as Court Avenue Black hawk Stout, Old Man River Helles and Dunkel, and Peace Tree Hop Wrangler (I recently tried a Peace Tree sweet corn brew.) Sutliff Cider also gets a nod.

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Filed under DESTINATIONS - Iowa, DINING, Iowa City, Uncategorized