My gypsy soul is getting restless again, so I’ve started investigating other cities within the United States I might call home. As much as I welcome change (and getting away from LA traffic), location scouting has proven difficult, because I’m less willing to compromise at my age than in my youth. Eeny meeny miny moe simply will not work for me anymore.

Ready for a move, but not sure I can do winters again

Ready for a move, but not sure I can do winters again

I am a city girl, but l’m over big city life. I want a smaller community with an easier lifestyle. A population of approximately 500,000 instead of millions, yet saturated in culture. I’d be miserable without regular doses of modern art, dance, theater, and music. I’m also aesthetically sensitive, so wether my surroundings are man made or natural (preferably a combination of both) they have to be pleasing to the eye.

Moving back home to Des Moines, Iowa makes a lot of sense in many ways. My parents are still there, it’s a friendly, civic minded community, the cost of living is one of the lowest in the country, and there’s an abundance of cultural advantages. BUT could I do winters again?

The divine southern California climate

The divine southern California climate

Like anyone who lives here, I’m spoiled by Southern California weather. It’s my ideal climate – rarely very cold, occasionally wet, but sunny and agreeable for the vast majority of the year. Perhaps another part of California?

I’ve been looking at Palm Springs. I love the mid century homes there that are still amazingly affordable. Again, it’s an incredibly welcoming and social community with a lot going on. There’s a great art museum and weekly art fairs, the film festival, constant entertainment in all the casinos surrounding it plus the Cochella music festival, pro tennis and golf tournaments, and a great deal of money being poured into community growth – making it a solid investment opportunity too. The fact it’s only a two hour drive to visit friends in LA is another plus, BUT can I live in the intense summer heat of the desert with my all consuming phobia of snakes?

Daisy and I will be happy wherever we end up!

Daisy and I will be happy wherever we end up!

If I were smart, I’d be looking at states with lower (or no tax). Then there’s also good access to international flights to take into consideration with a daughter that resides in London, and my own lust for travel. It’s a big decision to make, but I’m sure Daisy and I will be happy wherever we end up.  Where would you recommend I look and why?

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream Pie

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream Pie

This ice cream pie has absolutely nothing to do with my quest for the next place to call home, except it is a dessert that could help keep me cool in the desert. It’s been a family favorite since the ’70’s. Peppermint stick ice cream is such a festive treat for Valentine’s Day, and pairs so nicely with the crunchy  chocolate cookie crust and soft billowing marshmallow meringue topping, but this sweet treat can be made with any flavor ice cream you fancy.

Servings: 12
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 9 ounces chocolate wafers ground
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the filling

  • 48 ounces peppermint stick ice cream softened in the fridge about 10-15 minutes

For the marshmallow meringue

  • 3 large egg whites room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 7 ounces marshmallow cream

Directions

For the crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the chocolate wafers until ground. Add the salt, sugar, and melted butter. Pulse until just incorporated. Pour mixture into the greased pie pan and press with your fingers to about 1/4" thickness on the bottom of the pan and up around the sides.
  3. Bake the pie crust in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

For the filling

  1. While pie crust is cooling, move ice cream from freezer to the refrigerator to allow it to soften, but not melt, for about 30 minutes.
  2. Spoon softened ice cream into the cooled pie crust carefully, and smooth out. Cover with plastic wrap and return to freezer to harden for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

For the marshmallow meringue

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Beat egg whites and salt with in an electric mixer on high speed until frothy, 1-2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, a little at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form; set aside.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, scrape all of the marshmallow creme into a large bowl. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites and vanilla, about 1/2 of the whites at a time. The marshmallow creme will be stiff and very sticky to begin with, but will eventually give a little. Fold until the ingredients are just incorporated (do not overwork or egg whites will lose the air whipped into them).
  4. Remove hardened ice cream pie from freezer, and quickly top with meringue, spreading so the little peaks look pretty. Place on a sheet pan for support and quickly into the preheated oven until the peaks begin to go golden brown, about 3-4 minutes (keeping an eye on it because it can go from golden to burnt quickly and you do not want the ice cream to melt). Remove immediately and place back in the freezer to harden the ice cream again.

Serving Suggestions

Remove from freezer 5 minutes before cutting into slices. Serve on it's own or topped with hot fudge sauce.

Variations

Substitute any ice cream of your choice. My favorites are coffee, salted caramel, mint chip, or banana ice cream.

Notes

Dip knife into a glass of hot water and wipe between slices for a cleaner cut.

 

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  • February 11, 2014
    2:52 pm

    Austin’s a possibility – the lack of state taxes is a plus for Texas. The weather in that part of the state is usually pretty good (lacking much of the hellacious humidity we have outside of Houston). Austin’s airport has plenty of flights to lots of places…

    • February 11, 2014
      6:59 pm

      Austin was actually top of my list, but those downtown condos I love (with the magnificent views) have now double in price since I first started looking there, and I’m terrified of snakes-ville.

      • February 12, 2014
        7:16 pm

        I’ve never seen a snake in the parts of Austin you’d be looking at… but go 20-30 minutes out and it may be a different story. Austin’s all about the bats that thrive around the Congress Street bridge (and harm nobody). Traffic is still an issue but if you’ve able to avoid I-35 during the rush hours related to going to work… and you’ve right near the Lady Bird Johnson wildflower center, which is my idea of amazing scenery.

        I love Austin and at one point planned to move there, but work/marriage/kid changed that plan. Funny how that happens :-)

  • February 11, 2014
    7:54 pm

    Orlando Florida USA – is a “magical” dream come true! :)
    Between Disney and NASA, ocean and beaches on both sides, vibrant skies, lots of rainbows, a variety of fascinating subtropical weather; and, being one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, it is also one of America’s best kept secrets for being affordable. Plus the population is not crowded, and there is an abundance of land available. Very modern and yet culturally expanding, and a very ideal place to be to travel to, and access the rest of the world…The wildlife here, are your friends. :)

    • February 12, 2014
      10:26 am

      Ssssssssnaaaakes! My parents used to spend winters in Florida and we saw them often, including one that dropped down from the elevator shaft of the building as we were about to enter, ew.

  • February 12, 2014
    7:35 am

    Jules, go to Des Moines! I have seen plenty of positive promotion about how it is quickly becoming one of the wealthier states with a young population. Speaking from Michigan, true, winters aren’t fun – but they don’t last forever. By the way, In 2014, NBC ranked Des Moines as the “Wealthiest City in America” according to its criteria.

    • February 12, 2014
      10:29 am

      Karen, I am seriously considering it, because my last few visits home have really impressed me. The art is spectacular – one of the best art centers in the country, and the city is buzzing with trendy restaurants and events these days. I’ve been keeping my eye on condos there, but so far nothing has tempted me enough to overlook the sub-zero weather.

      • February 12, 2014
        11:50 am

        Skywalks between some of the hi-rises will keep you out of the winter yuck! I promise! :) On a personal side, I’ve always loved Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM.

  • February 12, 2014
    11:09 am

    Jewels – MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL!!!

    • February 12, 2014
      11:40 pm

      I still want to come visit when you do the next Nordic Ware photo shoot Dana (hopefully in the summertime).

      • February 13, 2014
        1:24 pm

        We are constantly doing SOME kind of photo shoot. Just let me know when you are around these parts and we can set something up.

      • February 14, 2014
        10:44 am

        I most certainly will! Thank you!

  • February 12, 2014
    5:22 pm

    Seven states have no state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Two others, New Hampshire and Tennessee, tax only dividend and interest income.

    so obviously Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Tennessee are out, thanks to weather and snakes

    which leaves Washington…Yakima and Kent are about the right size, close to 100,000 people in each

    http://www.city-data.com/housing/houses-Yakima-Washington.html

    http://www.city-data.com/city/Kent-Washington.html

    HOWEVER, Kent is pretty darn close to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and therefore pretty close to very serious shopping, culture and whatnot.

    Yakima, not so much.

  • February 13, 2014
    12:17 am

    Thank you for all your suggestions. Please do keep them coming. I’d love to hear more about where YOU live, and what you love about it.

  • February 20, 2014
    1:11 pm

    I’ve thought about moving too. California is so expensive but I was born here, so hard to leave and yes the whole weather thing. Also for me, doing work in the film biz limits where I can live. NY is even more expensive, Toronto too cold (and not sure I would be allowed anyway). I have thought about NOLA too, film industry there is booming and I have a friend there but not sure I could handle the humidity. But if I had a wish list, I would move to New Zealand in a heart beat!

  • February 22, 2014
    12:35 am

    Coronado, CA – small town feel, beautiful city, a 2 hour drive to LA and a 12 minute drive to direct flights to London from San Diego Airport!!!

  • April 15, 2014
    1:34 pm

    Atlanta offers everything big city, the world’s busiest airport with easy 7 hour flight to London and 1 1/2hour flight to NYC, warm weather 9-10 months out of the year with very little snow, plenty of nature with a short drive, almost as many movie studios as LA (everything is filmed here these days), CNN world headquarters, and more celebrity chefs than just about any city in the US, low cost of living, etc. :)

    • April 15, 2014
      1:36 pm

      You can live outside the city and feel like you’re in a small town. Heard of Serenbe?

      http://www.serenbe.com/

    • April 15, 2014
      2:22 pm

      Wow – you definitely peaked my curiosity – I think I’d better plan a trip to Atlanta pronto! Thanks Kristi.