Is it me, or has Des Moines changed? It’s funny how our perception of the ideal place to live evolves in time. I couldn’t wait to get out as a teen, and I’ve tolerated many ribbings about it over the years (city folk can be such snobs), but you know what? I’m extremely proud of my hometown, and all it has to offer.

Not quite sure...

Not quite sure…

I’m still not sure I’m ready to move back, but it is looking more appealing by the day. Yes, I love the sophistication of London, Paris, and New York – or the glamour of Tinseltown, but I’m so over the traffic. Day to day living in a city the size of Des Moines (population 250,000) is so much easier to navigate.

Driving into downtown Des Moines

Driving into downtown Des Moines

Okay, so the stores could certainly do with a crash course in fashion (most of the shopping is still pretty drab), but I can’t think of a city with more culture per capita anywhere. One of the many benefits here, is a sense of community and civic pride. The streets are so beautifully landscaped, and the parks are well maintained.

Des Moines has grown since then

Des Moines has grown since then

Enormous amounts of equity from the thriving insurance, financial, and communications industries have been filtered back into the renovation and growth of the city, and there is no shortage of entertainment.

Des Moines

Des Moines

While I was back just a couple weeks ago, I saw Mathew Bourne’s lavish production of Sleeping Beauty, and was so impressed to learn that new director of the Performing Arts Center has managed to bring this caliber of first run shows in from New York by convincing the board to invest in new productions there.

Des Moines Art Center

Des Moines Art Center

The city also boasts a fabulous Science Center, the Des Moines Symphony, a Botanical Garden, Playhouse, Ballet, Baseball Stadium, Indoor Racket Clubs, a multitude of golf courses, and the world class Des Moines Art Center and Sculpture Park. Then there’s the Iowa State Fair, Bluegrass Musical Festival, art fairs, car shows, and many concerts that come to town to enjoy as well.

John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

I like to take a trip down memory lane with each visit – driving by the houses I grew up in, the schools I attended, and the fabulous art deco home where I took ballet lessons as a child. My ballet teacher, Miss Adeline Ogilvy, held the glamorous distinction of having been a New York Rockett, and the striking modern sculptures of my junior high school art teacher, Mr. Morasco still grace the front of the school. Just south of Grand Avenue is the old Victorian Governor’s Mansion where I enjoyed slumber parties, and the stables where I took riding lessons – oh how the happy memories come flooding back.

Memories of growing up in Des Moines

Memory lane

All of that, plus the amount of house you can have for your dollar, and a great public educational system is precisely why Des Moines ranks sixth on the list of  ‘top ten best new cities’ to live in now. I have to admit, it is tempting! While I ponder a move, why not munch on the quiche I made for my parents below…

Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper, & Feta Quiche

Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper, & Feta Quiche.JPG

Remember it is really easy to have a few kid friendlier ingredients on hand too – just fill half the quiche shell with those, and half with the grown-up version. Then fill with the egg mixture and bake all at once, so you’re not making separate meals for everyone.

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