the crawford farm

Upon my arrival at the Crawford’s farm I was greeted by the eldest child, Lily, who was waving wildly with a huge, eager grin. She sported a knitted top with stripped leggings and a green stripped cardigan and bright tennis shoes with a half toothless smile. She ushered me indoors where her mom and two younger siblings, one in a homemade Bat4man costume, waited for us. As Mae and I introduced ourselves the kids were champing at the bit to find out what exactly I was there for. Although I wasn’t there to write a book like Lily hoped, I was there to discuss the very exciting plans for the Crawford farm land. Before the kids’ Grandma got there to pick them up I asked Miss Lily what she wanted me to know about their farm-as the written words escaped her-I asked her to draw me a picture of why she loves her far. She used my pen to draw beautiful trees, then promptly pulled out crayons to fill in her trees, sky, and grass. As we spoke, baby Crawford ate, and “Batman” sat at the table, patient but ready for Grandma to arrive.

Soon Chet arrived home from work and Grandma came to take the older two for the evening. Mae took the change to give me a tour of their cozy, simplistic home. I appreciated the hardwood floors, bare kitchen counters, and chalkboard in the living room for home school. As we ventured around the house I was subtly reminded of the farm house I lived in for 4 years with my grandparents in SW Iowa. Mae’s sewing room looked over their plot and filled with sun light. Adorable rompers hung from a shelf, hopefully soon to be shopped out to a gracious customer. Mae is owner of Mae & Co., do yourself a favor and check out her handy work, she makes sewing look easy and her stuff is so damn cute. As we ventured outdoors we brought the family dog along, who seemed just as excited to show me the best part, all the land!

We followed the1 dog toward the back of the house, walking over what I assume was or possibly still is a cellar. We came upon a pond that was tucked up against a path of pines. From there you could look down a small hill where their garden will be planted in the spring. As we continue between the trees it opened up to a wood pile for a fire with a field as it’s backdrop. Beyond the overgrown field, Mae told me, was where peach trees resided. We talked about gardening, orchards, and farm animal plans; cloth diapers, home schooling, cuss words, and mutual friend we discovered we had, wineries, festivals, and sewing. As I drove away from their house I was already excited to see them again and the hard work they had planned to put into their land. I’m already find this blog to be a success, both socially and knowledge wise. The motivation and inspiration in just the first month leaves me with a filled heart and open mind to everything.

You contact Mae at her Etsy shop and her blog, The Life of a Compulsive Crafter23

Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure in Des Moines Iowa

When I started dreaming of this blog I wanted to incorporate local businesses that did great things for their community (using local products, staffed local, and involved in the Des Moines area). My first thought was ZANZIBAR’S!!! Owner, Julie, and I played e-mail tag for a week or so and finally made it through the holidays where we could make plans to meet each other and this is the aw5esomeness that came of our meeting.

First, let me begin by saying that Zanzibar’s has the best coffee in Des Moines, Iowa, hands down, and I will leg wrestle anyone who disagrees. Secondly, regardless of the least desirable parking, I will wedge my semi-new car between traffic to get my coffee and rosemary bagel (to sum it up, I’ll fist fight someone for good coffee, you have been warned). Thirdly, the clientele blows my mind-the diversity and sense of community would bring me back even if the coffee was mediocre. Last time I sat and enjoyed coffee at their wonderful spot on Ingersoll, I sat next to a gentleman in scrubs (hey hey!), a father and son were sharing a pastry, and there was even a time I brought a date here, which is a big step to share your favorite coffee spot. That’s my top 3, albeit, there’s plenty more reasons to keep me coming back.

I met with the owner, Julie, on a beautiful Friday afternoon in January. Julie was kind enough to reschedule with me after my dog took off for a couples hours to tour our Beaverdale neighborhood without permission that previous Wednesday. I purchased an Americana, my go tot beverage of choice, and I sat at a comfy table for two towards the front of the building where light floods in through the stained glass that over looks their wonderful collection of plants. Let me be honest, any place that displays house plants are part of their decor makes me feel at home and happy. We started our conversation by getting down to business, exactly how I like to get down.

Julie started Zanzibar’s in August of 1993, a big on taking with the floods of ’93 still on people’s minds, aft4er working at a shop in Southern California-she pauses to thank a patron as they leave. After deciding Southern Cali wasn’t for her she came back to Iowa to be close to family and open a shop, she knew the support and need for a shop of this kind of local shop would be found here. Although, her intention and motivation wasn’t to stay here that’s since changed and she’s proud of her community. Julie’s been roasting coffee beans since they’ve opened-pretty much-their roaster arrived late, just a while after opening, but since it arrived she’s been roasting beans like her job depends on it…oh wait. She said at any given time they have thirty to forty varieties of blends to sell. I, as an indecisive shopper, find that to be more than enough options. I enjoy their house blend, but Julie suggests trying an Ethiopian, unique, full flavored, although you shouldn’t limit yourself to trying new things.

Recently, a friend showed me a airo press, which I’m very interested in trying and Julie reassured me makes a wonderful cup of coffee. Just as a testament to how much Zanzibar’s is loved locally, this same friend told me he likes me even more knowing that Zanzibar’s is my favorite. I’m okay with the judgement, coffee is important to my lively hood – and NO that’s not being dramatic. Personally, Julie a2nd I both enjoy our french presses, but I’m willing to try anything that doesn’t include Folgers or a pot that has a timer on it.

While I was in Washington in early December I took Zanzibar’s with me, yeah yeah, the coffee capitol of the US and I took coffee. I did make it to two shops, one where I had a vanilla honey and rose latte. Usually, I don’t need fancy coffee, but hot damn it was delicious. Don’t get me wrong, I occasionally love a soy mocha or foo-foo latte, but I’ll be honest, I love my coffee to taste like coffee. Julie enjoys a traditional cappuccino, frothy foam and all-what you thought cappuccinos came from a machine at Casey’s? You are wrong.
I spoil myself with a rosemary bagel from time to time, but these aren’t made in house. Don’t fret, everything is made local-the farthest being from Atlantic, Iowa, but let’s settle this now- Iowa is local, no matter what corn1er of the state you come from. Being from a smaller town in SW Iowa, an hour and a half drive isn’t far. Shout out to my small business gal, Mrs. Mimi’s in Atlantic, Iowa. I find it comforting that she describes her clientele as an eclectic and diverse group of people. She also says her business is like a second home and that makes me smile because we’re not all bless to feel that way about our jobs.

As a local person I’m always interested in what people love about their community and where they go and what they do.
Julie enjoys more rummage shopping than retail shopping, but she frequents Back Country Outfitters & Eden. As a busy gal she finds herself shopping more on vacations, but will head down to Pella for shoe store she loves there. She also likes to wander around the East Village and Valley Junctions. Food, like me, depends on mood. There are a lot of great choices in DSM, so my list is extensive as well. Julie’s includes: Thai Flavors, A-Dong, Indian Star, local taco trucks, and Django. I personally approve any of these choices, but ethnic food any time makes me a happy girl.

Head over to see Julie and her staff at Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure at 2723 Ingersoll Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312 or at their website  3