Category Archives: Family

Review: Mean Girls At Des Moines Civic Center

The 2019 – 2020 Willis Broadway Series at Des Moines Civic Center kicked off in a fun, lighthearted way with Mean Girls… a musical adaptation of Tina Fey’s 2004 movie of the same name.

The laughs started early, even before the start of the show, with Fey’s prerecorded announcement to turn off your phones. What followed was a two and a half hour evening of music, dancing, and fun!

Mean Girls is a show about highschool life… finding your way while attempting to fit in… but not losing yourself in the process.

This would be a great show to take teens to as it’s packed with relatable material for them… and plenty of topics that could make for great parent/teen conversations. Plus, they’re probably already fans of the movie.

The techie in me marveled at the stage and the use of screens to instantly change the imagery and the scene. In fact, Mean Girls featured the fastest scene changes I’ve ever witnessed. In the blink of an eye, we’re transported from a classroom to a mall.

The Dance Dad in me really enjoyed the music… and the dancing. Hip hop is featured predominantly, but there is also an awesome tap section too! I was happy that the stage mics picked up the sound of the taps. Tapping is more enjoyable when you can hear the rhythmic sounds that go with the footwork.

If you’re a fan of the movie you will love this show… as it sticks pretty much to the original story-line. It has been updated with some very funny and timely jokes. If you haven’t seen the movie but enjoy a great comedy… you’ll still love this show.

It was the perfect Dad/Daughters date night, as I was accompanied by two Mean Girls movie aficionados. They know the movie inside and quote it around the house… and quoted it in the car on the ride home as we relived the show together. I’m sure I’ll be hearing the original Broadway soundtrack blaring in their rooms for weeks to come.

Getting ready to see the show! I was thankful that someone from Des Moine Performing Arts was on hond to take pictures for theatre patrons… otherwise, I wouldn’t have been in this one.

Mean Girls is part of the 2019 – 2020 Des Moines Performing Arts Willis Broadway Series. Get tickets and learn more about the show here.

***I was provided with press night tickets for the show to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.***

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Easy Crockpot Black Bean Soup

We’re big fans of black beans in my house. I use them in my chili and recently figured out how to turn them into burgers. Now, I’m back with a new recipe. One that became a family favorite after the first pot.

It’s really easy to make. You don’t even need to worry about soaking the beans.

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  • 16oz bag of dried black beans
  • 32oz carton of beef broth
  • 14.5oz can of beef broth
  • Red bell pepper, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (ribs & seeds removed), diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 2 tsp mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp sweet leaf basil
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15.25oz can of corn, drained
  • 12oz sausage with bacon, browned, crumbled, and rinsed

Here’s what you do:

Rinse the beans and add them to the crockpot. Pour in the broth, add the peppers, bay leaves, carrots, onions, garlic, and spices. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.

After cooking all day it will look very thick but it will all loosen up as you stir it. Remove the bay leaves. With an immersion blender, carefully blend the soup to the desired consistency. I chose to leave mine a little chunky. You wouldn’t have to do this step, but it does give the soup a creamy texture. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could remove a cup or two and blend it in a regular blender.

Stir in the browned sausage and corn. Cook for another 15 minutes to bring them to temperature. I chose to wait to add these last two ingredients because I didn’t want them blended in… and because I wanted the corn to be crisper and not overcooked.

This is a very hearty soup with a smoky flavor. It’s hearty and flavorful enough that I didn’t even want crackers with it. This is the kind of soup that’s best enjoyed with some fresh, crusty bread to dip in it. I garnished my bowl with a little bit of sour cream.

Want to make this soup vegetarian? Swap vegetable broth for the beef broth and skip the sausage. I’m sure it would still be good.

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Electrical Tape & Twine

Over the weekend I had some time to climb up on our roof and get a few little things done.  I had neglected our gutters so it was good to get them cleaned out. The other thing I was able to do was to fix our antenna.

When it comes to television… we cut the cord before cord cutting became cool. It’s been over a decade since we’ve had cable or satellite. Our watching comes from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and over the air channels.  That’s the reason we have a rooftop antenna.

I’m not sure when it happened, maybe a few months ago, but the cable that connects to the antenna broke off and was laying on our roof. Most of our channels still came in so I didn’t bother fixing it right away.

With plenty of time and a nice day on my hands, I grabbed some tools, my ladder, and took to the roof.  The problem was obvious once I got up there. The wind had worked the cable loose and with it rocking in the breeze the wires eventually broke.

I had a replacement part on hand and installed it quickly. Then it was time to seal it up and attach the cable to the antenna to prevent the same thing from happening again.  The tool for the job was electrical tape.

I pulled the roll of tape from my pocket. Standing on our roof seeing that black tape in my hand reminded me of my Grandpa. He seemed to always have a roll nearby… whether it was in his pocket, the seat of his truck, or on the kitchen desk by the phone.

Black electrical tape was one of his go-to’s to fix things. It reminded me of his other quick-fix item…  baling twine. Twine and twine scraps were all over his farm too!

I didn’t need twine to fix our antenna but I used plenty of electrical tape.  I thought about my grandpa while I worked and knew he’d approve of the job I did.

Previously, I have written about memories of my Grandpa’s pocket knife… guess you can add electrical tape and twine to the other top things that will easily bring his memory back.

What 3 things would you say bring back memories of your Grandpa?

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