A Year in Des Moines

Hello! Long time no talk!

Last time I was here, we were walking out the door to go camping and let me tell you, it was an awesome weekend! A lot of sitting around this happened –

But I’ll get into camping more during a different post because today marks a special occasion and I have an amazing new recipe to share.

This has been the year for milestones, I tell ya…

And today’s anniversary is….


Being in Des Moines for a whole year!


If you know me personally, you know I’m having a hard time adjusting to life in Iowa. Let me explain a little bit…


Growing up, I wasn’t really sure what my professional identity was. I didn’t always know what I wanted to be when I grew up (I went to Valpo as a nursing major because I knew CPR and thought I liked my anatomy class in high school) and I didn’t even think about where I would live as an adult. I guess I always assumed it would be St. Louis because my whole entire family lives in STL and always has.


When I became really passionate about PR, I was intrigued by the thought of large PR firms that had global clients. I did a lot of research and decided that I really wanted to work in a large city in a downtown. I mean, I wanted to be Samantha from Sex and the City (minus the freakiness), Rachel Green from Friends or some other cool character I saw on TV that took public transportation and wore heels every day.


Right after graduation, part of my professional dreams came true because I was hired as an intern at the downtown St. Louis Weber Shandwick office. It was awesome. I had interesting clients, the most amazing mentors, and I genuinely loved what I did on a day-to-day basis.


While I was interning back home after I graduated, I knew Kevin would basically be “placed” in a city with the NWS upon his graduation. He had two interviews – Cheyenne, Wyoming and Des Moines, Iowa and absolutely fell in love with the Des Moines office. I was thankful because I had actually heard of Des Moines, unlike Cheyenne!


Leading up to his placement, we talked more and more about what I would do when we found out what city he’d be in. Throughout our entire dating duration, neither of us thought we would live together before marriage, but when he got placed and after many (many) serious conversations, we knew that we wanted to start our adult lives in the same city. So we moved in together!


On this day, one year ago, I left my parent’s house and moved into a hotel room with Kevin (who worked night shifts my first week in town). We couldn’t move into our apartment for two weeks, so La Quinta Inn was our house and it was rough. I missed my family, I had no idea what to expect moving to Iowa, I was basically by myself with Kevin’s work schedule and I didn’t even have a real “home” at that point.


Thankfully, things got better with time and after moving into our place, I began to feel more comfortable in this city. But the reason I give you all that background, is because I’ll be completely honest when I say Des Moines has been a tough adjustment for me. I mean, I imagined working in a downtown of some huge city (I applied in STL, Chicago, New York City, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis) and I’m currently in a relatively small city (from my view point – I know it’s large to others – don’t take offense) living in a suburban setting (I should mention, though, that I love my job). It’s just been a hard thing to adjust to…I don’t really know how else to explain it.


I’ll outline some of my favorite and least favorite things about living in Des Moines – doing this helps me sort out all of the mixed emotions I have in my heart.


Things I love –
  • No traffic.
  • Everyone is so incredibly nice. Like beyond nice.
  • Hy-Vee is the best grocery store I’ve ever been to. Hy-Vee > Shop N’ Save in Florissant.
  • You can pretty much get anywhere in the Des Moines area in 20 minutes or less.
  • Low cost of living.
  • I feel safe here.
  • Biking trails are awesome.
  • Grass, greenery, trees.
  • Cheap(er) gas.
  • I’m with Kevin every single day.

Things I dislike sometimes –
  • It’s small. As I said above, I really imagined living somewhere bigger.
  • No professional sports (people here love their college football).
  • Slow drivers.
  • Basically no public transportation whatsoever.
  • Airport is tiny.
  • It’s not often that big-name artists/bands come here.
  • No good way to get from DSM to STL (that’s not really DSM’s fault 🙂 )

I will say, though, that I am adjusting and every time we go out and do something or try a new restaurant, I enjoy this city more and more. 🙂

It also doesn’t help that I may or may not be one of the most stubborn people you’ll ever meet. I’m workin’ on it, ‘kay?!

Alright, enough about Des Moines and my thoughts because I have a super tasty recipe I want to share with you! Last Thursday, Kevin and I went out with our friends (maybe not the best decision) and ate at Fong’s Pizza for dinner (I’ll write more about that later!). It was delish! We ordered a buffalo chicken pizza and ever since then, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head so I had to recreate!


  • 1 recipe pizza dough (I used Chef Boyardee pizza dough because I didn’t feel like making my own and it’s what we had on hand)
  • 1 recipe crock pot spicy chicken
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red hot sauce
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1/2 cup of pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese


  • Pizza dough: follow box instructions
  • Sauce: mix 1 cup ranch and 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • Toppings: shred cheeses, cut celery
  • Assemble pizza and bake at 450 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
The Chef Boyardee crust I used is super easy! Just water and a little bit of oil are all you need to create this crust.

The sauce is also incredibly easy – just combine 1 cup ranch dressing and 1/2 cup hot sauce.

Pepper jack cheese may be one of my favorite cheeses (not better than provel, though) and it was perfect for this recipe.

Next? Assemble!

First, spread the sauce thin.

Top with half the cheese.

Add the chicken and celery. Nom.

Add the rest of the cheese. Nom nom.

Bake and top with more ranch and hot sauce!

It’s a winner!

I hope you all enjoy this recipe! It made a ton so we’ll be eating this for the next few days, despite my hatred for leftovers.

Oh yeah, Gracie wanted me to tell you guys hi!

“Please excuse my parent’s incredibly messy bedroom in the background. My crazy mom, aka Monica Geller, has been doing laundry all night and there are clothes everywhere! Laying on her clean, crisp sheets when she isn’t looking feels great though so I guess I can’t complain.” – G.

I’m off to watch some trashy chick-flick TV and go to bed. G’night all! 🙂


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6 thoughts on “A Year in Des Moines

  1. Even if it’s been a tough adjustment to DSM, our city loves you! So glad you guys moved here and I have had the chance to get to know you a little bit. Hopefully you will like DSM more and more! Happy one year city-versary!

  2. You should be proud of yourself! And, take my word on it, NYC isn’t as glamorous as I think we both wish it would be. 🙂

    The most important things in life are the company we keep and our own happiness. It sounds like you’re right on track in that department.

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