Lusterville and Lobsters

A Collection of Travels, Musings, and Literature.

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Why I love Des Moines

Travel doesn’t have to mean a long flight and a hotel. Sometimes, you can find neat things right in your own backyard! One of our favorite places to visit is Des Moines, Iowa’s capital.

Why I Love Des Moines, Iowa

HISTORY: Des Moines wasn’t always the capital of Iowa. It was originally in Iowa City, and you can still see the old capitol building there today. It moved to a more central location in Des Moines in 1857. Des Moines is French. Don’t pronounce the “s.” And it translates to “the monks.” Continue reading


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Maquoketa Caves

Did you know you have some pretty amazing places right in your own backyard? I’ve lived in Iowa for most of my life, and to top it off, I lived within a couple hours of one of the coolest places in Iowa. The Maquoketa Caves State Park, one of Iowa’s State Parks, contains more caves than any other state park in the area.

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Let’s jump out of a perfectly good plane!

About three months or so into our dating, I told my now fiance, Marshall, that I was going to skydive. “You are welcome to come, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to,” I told him. To impress me, he said yes. And it’s been one of our favorite memories.

We went with a group of my friends to a teeny-tiny town in Iowa that you’ve never heard of named Brooklyn and a company called Skydive Iowa.

There are many papers to sign and a slightly hefty price to potentially tossing your life out the door. (Because what if the parachute didn’t open?!) But don’t worry, we went through a safety instruction and did a tandem jump (meaning we were strapped up with a professional instructor).


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DIY Shutter Shelves

These shutters rode around in my trunk for about three years before I figured out what I wanted to do with them.

Back story: We lived in this big, beautiful, old house for more than ten years. And then my parents sold it to build their own home. I took the shutters before we left from the back of the basement. If anyone knows old houses, when you buy them, you tend to inherit old things like cans of paint, doors, shutters, etc…, pretty much a Pinterest dream.

I decided to make two of these shutters into shelves and give one to my mom as a housewarming present so she could have a little piece of our old house in her new.

My Repurposed Life was the inspiration for my design, but, like all DIYs, it had to be modified slightly since I don’t own a saw or have any sort of carpentry skills. Continue reading

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Buy a hat. Give a hat.

Buy one. Give one. Love Your Melon, a new company started by two college kids at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, began on a simple philosophy: a purchased hat by the consumer also donates a hat to a child with cancer. Simple, right? Buy a hat. Give a hat. It’s a win-win situation to make a difference in the world.

The idea that started in a class soon grew into a fully-established nonprofit organization that’s sold more than 40,000 hats, which also means 40,000 children have also received hats.

The hats, made in America, are high-quality and comfy.

Warning: these products sell out within hours! If you see something you like, buy it right then or else it will be gone. They also sell t-shirts, baseball caps, beanies, scarves, and more for all tastes and areas around the globe.

I love that this foundation is so close to home. The hats are often delivered in the hospital by superheroes — who are heroes inside and out — and love what they are doing. Their commitment to the kids is wonderful. It’s great to see the kids’ smiling faces from under a Love Your Melon hat.

If you are interested in helping, check out the Ambassadors page where you can find information about helping raise awareness of this program and donations in your area. Check and see if your college or high school is on there! You can also make a gift if you don’t have any ambassadors in your area or start your own crew today.

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Color the Wind Kite Festival

Once a year, when the lake is frozen over, the little town of Clear Lake hosts the Color the Wind Kite Festival. Since it’s beginnings in 2001, the festival has grown to be the largest event of its kind in the Midwest. The kites range in size from tiny to gigantic. It’s so fun to walk around on the frozen lake and watch them fly in the wind. It’s often difficult to have outside events in Iowa, but this is one activity that is worth braving the cold. Plus, it’s appropriate for all ages.

You don’t even realize how big some of the kites are until you are standing underneath them. These magnificent  creatures sail in the sky when the water is frozen. They are amazing! The whale was my favorite. Enjoy!

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DIY Doilie Table Runner

DIYs can be adventures, too!

There’s not much to this DIY. Basically, find a bunch of doilies and then stitch them together. I found mine on Etsy. A lot of the big doilies were expensive, so I kept most of mine small. But I think if you took your time and shopped garage sales, estate sales, and whatnot, you could find a whole variety for cheap.

It does take quite a while to sew. I think it took me a few times of couch-sitting and watching movies to finish it up.

However, I absolutely love how it turned out. I can’t wait to see it once it is set up!

Forgive my floor photos. I don’t have a table big enough. I made this for my mom for Christmas for her six foot long dining room table. But I think you get the idea. Once she gets moved into her new house, I’ll add some updated photos!

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