Santa's Favorite Snacks for Sale
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December 7, 2022

At Silent Rivers we pride ourselves on being considerate to our clients... including their pets! When remodeling a home or building a new house, it’s important to consider the members of the family who are furry, scaled, or other. Here are project photos we’ve taken where the family pets joined the fun. Read more.
When was the last time your cookies to Santa were interactive? Lauren Probst (Cookies by Lo) makes edible tic-tac-toe games and design-your-own elves.

3 Places to Outsource Your Holiday Cookies

Writer: Karla Walsh

During my childhood, no holiday season was complete without a cookie-baking day with Mom. Gingersnaps, peanut butter blossoms, no-bake marshmallow drops and of course decorated sugar cookie cut-outsevery flat surface in the kitchen would be covered with cookies.

But if you’re not keen on holiday baking, don’t worry. The city is full of creative and talented bakers, including those dsm has covered over the years. This season, we highlight a new cast of superlative cookie makers to meet your every holiday need.

Best for Food Gifts: Co’s Doughs
After 30 years spent developing, preparing, testing, tasting, styling and perfecting recipes at the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen, Colleen Weeden wasn’t quite ready to hang up her apron. So after “retiring” from the publishing industry, she’s now selling her nostalgic, from-scratch cookies—including birthday sprinkles, M&M brown sugar, chocolate chip, peanut butter crisscross, pink Champagne and more—to the public. For one of the sweetest gifts possible, treat your loved one to a three- or six-month cookie subscription, which includes one dozen cookies delivered directly to their door. (Pre-orders required;

Best for Kids: Cookies by Lo
Lauren Probst launched her Iowa State Fair blue ribbon-winning brand, Cookies by Lo (short for Lauren), in 2018. When her oldest son was born in 2020, she made this her full-time career and says he hasn’t looked back. “The holidays are my favorite time, both personally and professionally, so I always look forward to helping you celebrate with you and yours,” Probst says. And you can tell that’s true: Her Christmas menu is full of playful family-friendly concepts like an Elf on the Shelf Kit, 12 Days of Cookie Countdown Box, Paint-Your-Own Cookies and Gingerbread Mug Topper. (Pre-orders required;

Best for Adults: Sugar & Spice Bake Shop
Dream up your signature cookie style and shape, and chances are excellent that Sugar & Spice owner Shannon Strand can bring it to life. Prices vary based on the level of detail and colors, but usually fall between $36 and $50 for 12—a steal for the flavor result. Instead of hard royal icing, her 3- to 4-inch custom sugar cookies are layered with her signature soft yet sturdy icing recipe that might just steal the spotlight from the cookies lying beneath. (Pre-orders required; more details at Sugar & Spice Bake Shop Facebook page)

If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to order in advance, swing by Palmer’s Deli & Market, Main Street Cafe, La Mie, Gateway or Purveyor—all offer grab-and-go goodies very much worthy of any party.

Want even more ideas? Check out the impressive brands we’ve already highlighted, including Kiana’s Cookie Creations, Oh High Bakery, Nash’s Confections, Crème, Brookie’s, Red’s Bakery, Sift N Sprinkle, Jess Desserts, Prairie Rose Desserts and Thistle’s Summit.
Guest dancer Kelly Moeller Rabe as Doe in last year's production of "The Nutcracker." Photo: Ryan Morrison

See Ballet Des Moines Perform ‘The Nutcracker’

Nothing announces the return of the holidays quite like this annual production. A dozen professional dancers from Ballet Des Moines and some 100 students from Central Iowa dance studios will bring the enchanting story of Clara and her magical adventures to life Dec. 8-11 at Hoyt Sherman Place.

Last year, the ballet performed a refreshed second act to “The Nutcracker” to make it more inclusive, shifting away from traditional stereotypes but retaining the classic story and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score. We were excited to hear the company will perform the reinvigorated version again this year. Tickets are available here.
How to Achieve Luxury Interior Design

Tips and tricks to add just the right feeling of luxury to your room design. Read more.

The Avenues’ Peppermint Trail (Saturday, 10 a.m.): This new event encourages residents to shop and dine local all day and into the night. Stores along Ingersoll and Grand and throughout the Roosevelt Cultural District will offer a variety of deals, while restaurants will have holiday-themed treats, drinks and specials. See a list of participating businesses here.

Celebrate Iowa Gala (Friday, 7-11 p.m.): The annual showcase of Iowa art, history, culture and community spirit happens Friday at the Scottish Rite Consistory. The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs will host the event to raise money for statewide programs of the State Historical Society of Iowa. Get tickets to attend here.

“A Christmas Carol” (all weekend, times vary): For the first time in three years, Iowa Stage Theatre Company will revive its annual tradition of staging this Charles Dickens classic. The company will present a refreshed production with new sets at Stoner Theater beginning Friday. The show will run through Dec. 18. Find tickets and showtimes here.

Max Wellman’s 13th annual “Home for the Holidays” (Sunday, 6 and 8 p.m.): Join the jazzy crowd at Noce for Max Wellman’s annual holiday show, featuring classic songs and carols like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Performances run through Dec. 18. Get tickets online here.

Moberg Gallery exhibit opening reception (Friday, 5-8 p.m.): Featuring 12 artists, Moberg's "Winter Group Show" will showcase abstract works in multiple mediums, landscapes with nontraditional horizon lines, op art pieces and more. Artists include Andrew Abbott, Sarah Grant, Angela Johal, Chris Vance and Jason Woodside, among others.

Holiday broadcast: Final Act Ensemble will perform their annual holiday performance, an imagined Holiday Broadcast to the Troops in 1943, Dec. 13 at Des Moines Community Playhouse. The show features popular episodes from vintage radio programs along with songs from the time period. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance here. The show begins at 7 p.m.
Interactive installation: “EXPosure,” a temporary interactive art piece consisting of a set of inflated vinyl spheres, will be in the East Village today through Dec. 14 at 401 Robert D. Ray Drive (across the street from Brenton Skating Plaza). By standing in front of the spheres, you can create a live photo through the work's projection capabilities and "paint" your own imagery as the light source becomes like a paintbrush. A good time to check it out--and do some Christmas shopping, too--is during Friday's Holiday Promenade.
Impressive espresso: The new Northern Vessel coffee shop is now open on Keosauqua Way, offering cold brews, hot chocolate, teas and espresso drinks. The inside is modern but cozy, and makes a great stop before jumping on I-235. Our current menu favorite is the chagaccino latte, iced and with oat milk.
New vintage: Goldeneye Curations has opened in the basement of Stoked (518 E. Grand Ave.) in the East Village. Beneath the outdoorsy shop, Goldeneye owner Lucas Paul has set up his racks of high-end vintage streetwear and collectible footwear finds. The shop is open Tuesday through Sunday with varying hours. Check out their Instagram page for specific times, along with updates on current inventory. Also, take a look at this dsm article to learn more about Paul and his thrifting.
Linzi Murray owns Valley Junction’s new hot spot for book lovers, Reading in Public Bookstore + Cafe. Currently, the shop is scheduled to open mid-January. Photo: courtesy Reading in Public.


Local Bookstore Owners Share Top Books of 2022

Writer: Karla Walsh

We checked in with three local bookstore owners for their best reads of the year. Put them on your holiday shopping list for the readers in your lives (or maybe for a gift for yourself).

Linzi Murray, owner of Reading in Public Bookstore + Cafe
“The Sign for Home” by Blair Fell (Simon & Schuster): “Ignore both the cover and synopsis and just trust me. Neither does this fantastic novel justice; this is not a romantic love story,” Murray says. Rather, it’s a tale of love and acceptance of a found family, with a focus on the relationship between Arlo, a 23-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who is deaf and blind, and his new tactile sign language interpreter, Cyril.

Abbey Paxton, owner of Storyhouse Bookpub
“When Women Were Dragons” by Kelly Barnhill (Doubleday): “Set in the 1950s, the world reckons with ‘mass dragoning’ where thousands of women—many housewives—transform into dragons and fly away.” The book follows the narrator, Alex Green, as she experiences the dragonings as a young girl and awakens into womanhood.

Hunter Gillum, co-owner of Beaverdale Books
“Properties of Thirst” by Marianne Wiggins (Simon & Schuster): “This sweeping American epic takes place in California in the months preceding Pearl Harbor. Rocky Rhodes and his family own a ranch that is now next to an internment camp, and the man in charge of building the internment camp falls in love with Rocky’s daughter,” Gillum says.

Read more about the business owners and their bookstores in this article from our latest dsm issue.

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