Tag / des moines


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Photo cred: April & August Photography

It’s been an entire decade since we exchanged vows, walked up the aisle, and started married life together in a little apartment in Des Moines, a city we had moved to just the month before. Married life has been nothing short of grand, and this city we love is a big piece of that joy.

View More: http://aprilandaugustphotography.pass.us/des-moines-photographer-smith2017

As we celebrate both a decade of marriage and a decade of life in Des Moines, we continue to live in the moment and our life goals are ever evolving. I’m proud of what we have embarked on, both as individuals and as a couple, these first ten years. I so look forward to what the next ten bring. Cheers to more adventures!

View More: http://aprilandaugustphotography.pass.us/des-moines-photographer-smith2017

In the spirit of anniversaries, I compiled a little playlist. It’s nothing overly lovey-dovey, just a collection of songs that bring on some anniversary vibes and have degrees of meaning to the two of us over the past decade.

Decade Spotify Playlist | www.lifeinyellow.com

Happy anniversary to the handier, more patient, more tech-savvy, in general COOLER half of this duo of which I’m lucky to be a part. <3

des moines artwork

For the second year, Page and I headed downtown to support PedalArt, an annual art event to kick off Bike Month. For those not from around here, Iowans take their bicycling VERY seriously. The state hosts a weeklong, cross-state bike ride every summer called RAGBRAI, which is the “oldest, largest, and longest bicycle touring event in the world”.


But back to PedalArt. It’s particularly fun to go when you know some of the artists who are exhibiting (go Kari!). We took home one of thirty prints of a piece by a local artist named John Bosley. I love that beyond the Iowa/bike reference, it’s so very Des Moines – against the buildings is a red bicycle in place of the red Traveler’s Insurance umbrella that is so visible along the downtown skyline. It’s fun to know that no matter where we live in the future, we have this little piece of Des Moines with us.


But for now…it’s hanging in our upstairs hallway. 🙂

staging the cutest house ever (it’s for sale if you’re looking!)

Iowa RealtyPhoto by Iowa Realty

A couple of weeks ago, our friend, Stacy, asked me to help with staging some rooms in her house before she and her husband put it on the market. (They’re in the Beaverdale area if you’re interested!) I was flattered to be asked to help, but truthfully feel like I didn’t contribute much because the house is so adorable to begin with, and she has infused so much personality into each room with her great sense of style. It was so fun to spend an evening playing around with options and soaking up some great influence from another house-lover.

I’ll point out some little things they or we did along the way. But I’m also sharing things I just love, love, LOVE about their home, which you can see many more photos of in their online listing here. I came back to my own house inspired to take a fresh look and start bringing more of “us” into the details. We’ve done many purely functional things you have to do with a new house, from hanging curtains to buying furniture, to putting a couple paint colors on the walls. But as much as I love the clean, somewhat minimalist look, I am excited to work on bringing some personality into the mix.



When you first walk in and turn to the left there is this great sunny room with built-in bookshelves that would make a beautiful office or library. The hubby of the house declared this bookcase “a little too haphazard” ha! So we played around with editing some items out to make the shelves seem a little less packed, and I brought over a few things I had at our own house. We tried to create “chunks” of items with some space in between, and used books to give a little more height to her fun pieces like the picture frame and that white fox I’m going to swipe when she’s not looking. 🙂

bookcase after




This sun room was one of my favorite spaces in the whole house. Yellow and windows on three sides. You have to love the charm and quirks of old houses…you can just barely see the little door on the far right wall…I assumed it was a laundry chute. Nope, it houses a crank to lower a bed (!) from the ceiling. Years ago pre-A/C, this room of windows made a  great sleeping porch in the hot summer months. New construction may come with brand-new furnaces and roofing, but you just don’t get these kinds of conversation pieces!

Above is her before shot, after we added a little side table to the chair and a pitcher and some glasses (adding to the “refreshing” feel). We also chatted about swapping out the small 2×3 rug and finding a larger area rug to anchor some of the furniture that seemed to be floating around the room. The pile of “off to storage” items to the left was cleared out, and because we didn’t get a rug that same night for me to take a picture, you can see the updated version in their listing link above!

library file organization

And that cool piece in the right corner? Here’s what it looks like from the front. I couldn’t get over how clever this was. How many zillions of cords and chargers and random nonsense float around our house? And I geek out over anything hyper-labeled. I’ve asked her to help me watch for a piece like this – I shamelessly want to copy.

guest room


There wasn’t a single thing that needed to be done to this guest room. I was just so in love I had to share more photos beyond what is pictured in their listing. The effect of hanging the curtains so high felt even more grand in person. And the yellow headboard. I die.

guest room


I know many realtors suggest taking all personal items away when trying to sell a home. I’m a little on the fence about that. I get not being able to picture yourself in a house when there are photos everywhere of people you don’t know, but I also like to see that a house is loved and a happy place to be, and someone has lived there and enjoyed it. To me, this guest room wall of collected items was the perfect balance. There are two photos in the whole bunch, but still represents a bunch of things that resonate with this family without feeling TOO “I’m in someone else’s house.”

collection wall


And speaking of this wall, there was another in the dining area. I loved the “random but organized” layout of all the pieces – I have such trouble breaking out of my grid-style approach to hanging groups of frames. I love that no two match, and the overall effect just sucks you in to study each item. I like that even the wall switch becomes part of the arrangement and that certain pieces, like their daughter’s birthday invitation, get switched out annually to keep it fresh.

collection wall 2


But back to our staging efforts. For our final installment, we headed upstairs to the attic bedroom, which would also make an amazing craft room or music studio, or used just as it is, for guests or even as a master.


attic bedroom before


It seemed there was a bit too much furniture in here, and to really play it off as a bedroom, and not styled storage space, we moved out the buffet to the right of the bed, and unbeknownst to their three-year-old, the child-sized recliner was donated last I heard. 🙂

We pulled a couple white end tables she had in the closet (that you see in the background) and staged it more like a bedroom that might currently be in use, and put some travel postcards in frames stacked on travel books to stage the end tables a bit more.

attic bedroom after


The buffet was relocated to the long closet in the background. Our thinking was that again, rather than look like open storage space, we could make the closet appear more ready to be used as a real “getting ready” spot. So we set some pretty candles on top of the buffet and hung some extra curtains that were on-hand on the window behind it. (A screw came loose at photo time, so that is Stacey’s arm giving us an idea of what it would look like!).



This closet space is massive (seriously, you could make this space very Carrie Bradshaw!) so rather than let storage stuff pile up, we tried our best to stage the items that were stored up here and not in use so it seemed a little less random.

closet space

For only being on the market a few days, there have already been many showings and lots of interest. If you’re interested, again the link to the listing is here. Thanks for touring!

a date with des moines: the restaurant list

(Photo: Raygun, the coolest t-shirt shop in Des Moines and perhaps the world)

A while back, I came across this article on Des Moines about must-go spots for dining, museums, and more. I was quizzing myself to see how many of the restaurants we had tried, and with the exception of Harvest Bread, I’ve been to all except the ones that are now closed (the list was published in 2009). Des Moines is one of those cities that is not so big you endure much traffic to go anywhere, yet big enough that there is a fun selection of styles, environments, and dress codes for your mood when you’re ready to dine. I instantly thought of several spots I would add to this list. If you ever find yourself in central Iowa (gotta love a flyover state! but seriously…we’re pretty fun and cool here) check out any of these amazing places to grab a delicious bite.

Zombie Burger You’ve never been to a diner quite like this one. (And don’t even think of going unless you are “off” the diet for the night.) The owner’s love of zombie culture makes for some awesomely weird decor. Must-try: my favorite burger is the “white trash zombie” (includes a fried cheese curd and pickle) and my favorite shake (which are available both alc and non-alc) is the “zombie bride wedding cake” flavor. The fries with blue cheese crumbles and bacon are basically like crack. Once a year, we allow ourselves to order (and try to finish) an order of them.

Americana Across from the picturesque sculpture park, we like Americana for dinner, but we LOVE it for brunch, which is served buffet-style through the kitchen and includes everything from their famous mac & cheese to their lighter-than-air crepes. Must-try: Unlimited bloody mary/mimosa bar on the weekends with crazy add-ins like flaming hot Cheetos. ‘Nuff said.

Mullet’s DO let the name fool you. It’s a full-out biker bar. With amazing om-mullets for breakfast, and my favorite bloody mary in town, you can eat inside, or in warmer months on the decks that overlook the busy trails running around Principal Park. My hairdresser claims it’s one of her favorite places for dinner, which we have yet to try. Must-try: jalapeno bacon. Ohhhh yeah.

Trostel’s DISH My dad got too excited the first time I told him we were taking him to this tapas restaurant (and he heard “topless”!) but in the end, this place didn’t disappoint. For two people, we usually order 4-5 things, depending on the dishes. Must-try: Truffled mac & cheese. I like to think of myself as a mac and cheese connoisseur, and this one might just take the cake.

Chef’s Kitchen Some friends introduced us to this small restaurant that unless you know what it is, you might just drive on by. For a small restaurant the bar is WELL stocked and their cocktails rival many in town. They offer everything from steaks and burgers to pizzas, but when I go here, it’s all about the pasta. ANY of the lasagnas aim to please. Must-try: the fried pickles.

Goodson’s You can’t go wrong with “paninis and martinis”, which is exactly what this place offers. In the heart of Beaverdale, you can sit outside during the warmer months, or in the bar-like atmosphere inside. Must-try: I literally can’t pick one over another. You can’t go wrong no matter WHAT you pick!

ZuZap Also known to me as “Zapzu” – I can never remember which is correct. Either way, if you want Thai food, this is the place to go. With six levels of heat for every dish, you can truly customize to exactly what you want. Page likes several of the stir-fry dishes. Must-try: the pad thai (of course!).

Drake Diner This is another place we get to more often for breakfast than for other meals. Located near the Drake University campus, the retro diner offers all kinds of delicious classics and some interesting twists on originals. Must-try: the pumpkin pancakes. Even if you don’t love pancakes (like me) or it’s not fall. Order anyway for a guaranteed culinary delight.

The Continental Lounge This is one of our go-to date night places. It’s easy to park nearby, and you get some East Village vibe, which is always fun. Live music plays here on the weekends and while there are main courses available, we always opt for the tapas menu. Must-try: the blue cheese honey and walnut crostinis.

For those in the area, I’d love to be reminded if I missed anything! (Or you have a rec we haven’t tried!) and for anyone else, the next time you stop through central Iowa, hopefully you can reference this list for a good place to eat! 🙂

Guest Blogger Series: Jessica Timmons of Salon de Vallon

Our second monthly guest blogger, Jessica, is here today from Salon de Vallon in West Des Moines, Iowa. Jessica is a guru of all things hair and makeup, and I’m so excited for her to share some beauty tips and tricks with all of us. Take it away, Jess!




Hi! I am so excited to be guest blogging for Life in Yellow.

My name is Jessica Timmons and I am a Hair Designer at Salon de Vallon in West
Des Moines, Iowa. I have 8+ years in the beauty industry, having worked as a
retail manager in the makeup industry before becoming a licensed cosmetologist. I
studied at the Aveda Institute in West Des Moines and have taken courses at Aveda’s Advanced Academy in New York City.

I am a wife and mother before all else and I know how expensive it can get to keep up on our beauty regimens. As a professional hairstylist, I’m here to give you some tips to help out all year long.

Here are a few ways to save money on your hair, both at home and in the salon:

1. You don’t have to wash your hair everyday. I know some of you are
saying, ‘Not possible! My hair is super-fine and looks oily the very next day!’.
Dry shampoos work wonders between washings, but if you don’t want to spend the money on a dry shampoo, baby powder works just as well. Sprinkle some along your part and hairline and rock the messy bun.

2. Save money on your hair color.
Even if you are really blond with a dark
natural color you really only need a full highlight once a year and a partial
every 3-6 months. Ask your stylist to put in a few foils across your part and
hairline. Most salons have a single foil, or flash foil price, which could save
you up to half of what you normally pay. Again, if you are going dark or are
covering up the grays, ask your stylist what a root touch up would cost for
just the hairline and your part. Women often gray around the hairline first; if
you wear your hair long, you won’t be able to see the new growth in the back.

3. If you are looking for a new salon, ask if they have different levels of stylists. Just because a stylist has a lower starting price doesn’t mean they’re not
experienced. They could be new to the salon and everyone has to start somewhere!

4. Find out if your salon offers a rewards program. Most salons will give
discounts when you send new clients their way. If you love your hairstylist, shout it from the rooftops and you could save big!

5. Follow a salon on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites. It’s the
best way to stay up-to-date on any product or service promotions the salon might be having. If a stylist has a cancellation she will probably post it on facebook and may offer a discount just to get the space filled.

If you are local to the Des Moines area, I would love to have you stop in and see us at Salon de Vallon. We are offering $20 off color or $10 off a cut for any new clients. Just mention this blog post when making an appointment. Be sure to ‘like’ us on facebook so we can say hi!

Thanks so much to Jessica for the money-saving tips and for stopping by as a guest blogger!

You can read more of the guest blogger series posts here.

a date with des moines: all spice

You know that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie, donning that infamous striped skirt, declares that she’s not dating men and is instead dating the City of New York? She goes all over, to the museums, to restaurants, and of course, to the shops. I had a day like that recently, only I was dating downtown Des Moines’ East Village neighborhood.

It was sunny and warm (for January in Iowa) and I hit up several of my favorite shops and took myself to lunch at Lucca (first time I’d been there – yum!). The whole motivation for the trip however, was to check out a new kid on the block – All Spice Culinarium.

Last week while in town, my bestie, Laura, gifted me some amazing vinegar and oil flavors, and a New York steak and burger spice blend.

She gushed about how you can sample your way through this little shop, taking shots of every flavor of oil and vinegar you can imagine, and smelling the dozens and dozens of exotic spices. (This is NOT your grocery store’s Tone’s aisle, people.)

On a side note, I love their very warm, but clean and crisp, branding. The colors are hearty and the typography is bold – everything you would expect in culinary flavors. Plus, they’ve done a great job of writing a little blurb on the label of every product in the store – to tell you WHAT it is, and how to use it. The most novice of cooks could walk in here and act like they knew exactly what they are doing (I know…because I did just that!)

Here’s my loot! And a closer look…yes, that’s dark chocolate balsamic you see. Amazeballs.

Check them out if you’re in the area! 400 East Locust!

brew at the zoo.


We've been here two years and finally discovered Zoo Brew – an event at the Des Moines Blank Park Zoo held every Wednesday night in the summer.


I had heard about Brew before but finally at the suggestion of a fellow book-clubber, we got a group together a few weeks ago and I liked it so much I took Page the next week and we met up with a couple of friends who had never been before, either. (Sorry Adam and Mary – I don't have pics from our trip!) It had been ages since I'd been to a zoo and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. For a mid-sized city in Iowa, I couldn't believe the range of animals and the size of the exhibits. With beverage in hand, anyone over 21 can walk around and check out the exhibits from 5:30 until dusk. Definitely would recommend this for an out-of-the-ordinary thing to try if you're in the Des Moines area!


This guy was the first thing to greet us walking in!




Believe it or not, we did NOT plan to color coordinate so well 🙂


(Oh…and did I mention they let these HUGE Emus walk around freely while you're there??!!)