Friday, January 24, 2014

12 Reasons We Love Iowa

I've been seeing this article "Why Iowa Rules"  all over Facebook lately. Inspired by this article I've decided to write about why I think Iowa's awesome.  Even native Iowans have a tendency to undercut our state.  But when you think about it Iowa is a hard working, progress seeking state that deserves a little more love. Here are a few reasons why living in Iowa isn't so bad.

Everyone Likes Food

Iowa is the largest corn and soy bean producer in the United States.  We also produce 28% of the nations pork, pretty impressive. Best of all 98% of Iowan farms are family owned.

Des Moines 

We've been named the richest city in the United States, also the best city for business and careers. Midwest living isn't so bad after all.

Field of Dreams

Is this Heaven? No, it's Iowa. 


Iowa has the highest literacy rate in the nation at 99%.  Not to mention we have some great Universities, colleges, and private schools across the state.

Riverside, Iowa 

AKA the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk, need I say more.

Iowa State Fair

The largest event in Iowa, attracting over 1 million people from all over the world! And you can deep fat fry whatever your heart desires.

Leslie Hall 

If you live in the Ames area and don't know who Leslie Hall need to reevaluate your life. Check out her Facebook page here. Iowa has fostered some really great bands, one of my personal favorites The Envy Corps are Ames natives.

Civil Rights

Iowa has always been among the most progressive states in the nation.  After the Civil War, Iowa was the first state to give African Americans the right to vote and Cornell College in Mount Vernon was one of the first college in the United States to admit female students.

American Gothic 

American Gothic by Grant Wood is one of the most iconic paintings in the world and is inspired by a house that still stands in Eldon, Iowa.

Crunch Berries 

Cedar Rapids, Iowa is home to Quaker Oats, producer of Captain Crunch and the famous Crunch Berries.  If you drive through Cedar Rapids on the right day you can smell Crunch Berries in the air.


We have it.

Changing Seasons 

Okay I know now isn't the best time to talk about the wonderful Iowa weather, but what if you lived in a state that didn't have diverse seasons.  We all know winter in Iowa gets a little rough, but what if you couldn't experience our beautiful falls or had never built a snow man.

I know I didn't hit on every reason Iowa's great so let us know why you love living here! Email your lists to

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Easy DIY Cleaners

1. Grapefruit Tub Cleaner

What you need:

1 Grapefruit
1/4 cup kosher salt


One medium or large grapefruit should be enough to clean your bath or shower.  For this cleaner you will simply need to halve the grapefruit and sprinkle it with salt.  Spread the remaining salt around the bath and scrub away with your grapefruit.  Be sure your grapefruit is picking up fresh salt and not just moving it around.  Once the area is clean simply rinse away the pulp and enjoy your freshly cleaned bath. 

2. Lemon Wood Polish

What you need:

olive oil
Small air-tight container
Microfiber cloth


Cut the lemon in half and squeeze juice into your air-tight container, it's best it the pulp is strained out.  Add one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of water to the mix. Close container and shake until well mixed. Pour out small amount onto wood and polish with a microfiber cloth.

3. Toilet Bowl Cleaner

What you need:

1 cup baking soda
1 cup white vinegar
spray bottle - optional

Toilet brush


This first thing you'll want to do is turn off the water to your toilet. How you ask? Just reach behind the bowl and turn the knob that connects into the wall clockwise until it wont turn any further.  Once this is done flush the toilet until the bowl is empty. Now all you have to do is sprinkle your baking soda around the bowl and spray/pour the white vinegar on the baking soda.  This causes a bubbling reaction, once the bubbles subside scrub the toilet bowl and let the solution sit for a few hours.  When you return give it one more scrub for good measure, turn the water back on and flush it away.  You'll get a great clean with no harsh chemicals. 

4.DIY Laundry Detergent

What you need:

1 Cup Grated Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 Cup Washing Soda1/2 Cup Borax


This recipe is pretty simple, you need one cup of Fels Naptha, Zote, or Ivory, all of these can be found at Walmart or your local grocery store.  You can use a food processor or hand grate the bars, either way works.  Mix with 1/2 cup washing soda and a 1/2 cup Borax and you're done! For light load, use 1 tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoon. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Just Keep Swimming

Miss the sun, salty skin, and sand in your shoes? Tired of the treadmill and elliptical? Everybody into the pool! It might be time to try an alternative style of exercise, like swimming! I can't promise the sun, salty skin, or sand- but hey, we can fantasize about summer all year round.

Indoor swimming offers something no other aerobic exercise does: the ability to work your body without harsh impact to your bones. The pool is an ideal place to work stiff muscles and sore joints, while toning muscles and increasing muscle strength. (Plus, that Spring Break body isn't going to magically appear without a little hard work.)

Don't believe it will be the intense workout you're looking for? Keep reading.

Resistance. When a runner takes a few laps around the track or a jogs a few minutes on the treadmill, that runner is only moving their body through the air. A swimmer, on the other hand, is propelling themselves through the water -- a substance about twelve times as dense as water! So, every kick and every arm stroke becomes self-inflicted resistance, which just so happens to be the best way to build muscle tone and strength.

Flexibility. Exercise machines typically isolate one muscle at a time. Swimming puts the body through a broad range of motion that helps your body stay loose and flexible - wide arm movements, engaged hips as the legs kick through the water, and a twisting core.

The Burn. Swimming has become known as one of the biggest calorie burns around. Even though the number of calories burned ranges from swimmer to swimmer, it's safe to say that for every 10 minutes of swimming: the breast stroke will burn 60 calories, the backstroke burns 80, the freestyle burns 100, and the butterfly stroke burns 150.

Give it a go today at State GymBeyer Hall, or the North location of Ames Racquet & Fitness.

Learn more tips on how to help your body be happy by clicking here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Take a moment to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day and ask yourself, "How am I moving forward?"

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Open House - Saturday, January 18th 11-4pm

You're invited to Haverkamp Properties Open House on Saturday, January 18th from 11-4pm.  Come to our one stop shop and sign a lease for 2014-2015 school year! We'll be showing efficiencies, 1, 2, 3, and 4 bedroom apartments. There will be tons freebies including koozies, t-shirts, Fun Money and even the chance to win a $100 GIFT CARD! Not to mention FREE chili dogs/hot dogs! For more information stop by our office at 4720 Mortensen Rd or give us a call at 515.232.7575. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Creative Writing 101

Creative writing is any form of writing which is written with a purpose of expressing thoughts, feelings, and emotions rather than simply conveying information. Author of White Noise, Don DeLillo says, "Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some under culture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals."

As we start getting back to our routines after the holiday season, we usually like to think we are starting with a clean slate - a clarity of thoughts with new ideas, new goals, and perhaps, a new hobby? Give creative writing a go.

For starters, the worst thing you can do is sit down at your desk and force yourself to produce a work of art from start to finish. As a creative myself, I can attest to this. The creative process can be a brilliant, twisty, whirlwind of a thing that takes you down one path as quickly as it's pulling you in another direction (if you let it). So let it. Start small and don't think too much.

Types of Creative Writing
Poetry, Limericks, Haiku and Song. These are the most simple forms of creative writing. Poetry can rhyme, or not rhyme, or follow a sonnet form. Limericks are written like poems, but have strict guidelines (a five-line poem that has humorous, witty, or even obscene intent). Haikus are 3-line poems with seventeen syllables written in a 5/7/5 count. They often focus on images from nature. Even songs we hear on the radio started as pieces of creative writing, with verses, chorus, and refrains to keep us interested.

Example of a haiku: 
An old pond!
A frog jumps in--
the sound of water.

Flash Fiction, AKA micro-fiction and fan fiction. These are short, fictional stories that tell the story in as little words as possible, yet provide a complete picture of the story. (The short and sweet stuff.) Click here for some examples.

Free-Form and Journaling. Free-form is a common type of creative writing taught in creative writing classes. A set amount of time is given for a free flow of thought (maybe 15 minutes), uncensored and open to the writer's thoughts and feelings. Many writers use this practice to ease writer's block and to keep their thoughts fresh. Journaling has the same freedom as free-form does. There does not have to be a clear beginning, middle, and end. Journaling provides insight and clarity about personal experiences.

Novels and Short Stories. Novels are made up of thousands of words with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Short stories are kind of ambiguous - many writers consider a short story as under 20,000 words and some say between 1,000 and 7,500. In the end, it can be whatever you want it to be.

Scripts. This type of writing is found in theater, television, and radio. These are plays, movies, soap operas, dramas, or skits that include the writer's intent for the actors. How is writing a screenplay different than writing a novel? Find out here.

Tips and tricks for beginners
Stretch. If you're short of ideas, get up and shake it out. Literally, get out of your chair and wiggle around. Deep breathing and stretching your muscles relieves stress and rebalances that equilibrium.
Carry a notebook. So then you'll have it when you have that weird and random, yet perfect, idea. You might find that moment to be in line at a cafe, or stepping off the bus, or sitting in the bathroom stall (hey, you know you've had some lightbulb moments during that time of the day).
Plan. Figure out the time of day that you feel most creative. For a lot of writers, that time is first thing in the morning - before all the demands of daily life kick in. Other writers go late into the night, when they can unwind and let it all out. Try both!
Stop agonizing. It is very rare, and nearly impossible, to complete a perfect first draft. That's why it's called a draft - a preliminary version of a piece of writing, a plan, sketch, or rough drawing. If you hit a block, just step away from the initial draft for a few hours, or a few days, and come back to it. And stop beating yourself up about it - it would be strange if you weren't struggling a little.

Still stuck?
  • - Write a mini story (100 to 200 words) that begins with: "They had nothing to say to each other."
  • - Write from the point of view of the only tree left standing in the forest.
  • - 12 good reasons to sleep in, go!
  • - Put an athlete, artist, and a fitness instructor in a museum. Add a broken window and crooked painting. One of the three panics, what happens next?
  • - In 400 words, create your ideal place.
  • - List ten things you would buy with your last $20.
  • - Begin with, "I thought I saw…"
Find more writing prompts here!