Category Archives: Iowa

The Spirit Of The Holidays

Ho ho holidays. It’s that time again. Remember when you were a child, and the holidays seemed to be all about gifts and the magic of what could be inside those neatly wrapped packages? Heaven forbid it was a sweater.

I remember one Christmas when my sister was young. Grandma Ambers gave her a gift to open; she was probably about four years old. My sister, eyes glistening, tore into the package like her entire magical future might be hiding inside of it. Opening the lid she peered into the magical box and I watched as the excitement faded from her eyes. She pulled out a sweater that my grandmother thought to be, “just darling.” Raising the sweater up from the box her response was, “that’s not a very nice present.” I’m pretty sure I lost myself in uncontrollable laughter.

Children don’t always understand what the holidays are about, and honestly, neither do adults. The holiday season is about love. Every single day should really be about love. This past year I saw more death than I’ve seen in all of my thirty-six years put together. We don’t know how much time we have, and while we receive reminders of that short amount of time, are we really living our lives to the fullest?

I buy gifts for loved ones because I enjoy trying to find something I know they will love receiving, but in all honesty, what matters, in the end, is that we come together and spend time with the people we care about. We don’t know if our brother- and sister-in-law will be with us next Christmas, or if we’ll have the same home, or if we’ll even live in the same state as one another. What we do know is that we can tell the people we love how much we care and show them through our laughter and communion together.

Instead of worrying about things being perfect (I know you will anyway) go out and enjoy meals together. Drive around looking at holiday lights. Drink homemade hot cocoa by the fireside while playing a game. Go Christmas Caroling (that’s a dying pass-time that should be resurrected). Go sledding and build a snowman. Put down your phone. I repeat, put down your phone. People are getting tendonitis from overuse of their phones (I’m one of them). Have a silly photo shoot where you wear holiday gear, antlers, elf hats, etc, and make funny signs to hold up (if need be, use your phone for this). Bake holiday treats together while listening to holiday music. Cook some new recipes and sip wine together (if you’re of age). Heck, go on a wine tasting (but be responsible). Whatever you do, remember it’s about the fun and magic of the season. It’s about being together and that doesn’t have to cost anything.

As we move into the New Year, I am thankful for my life and that I’m still alive. I am thankful for my family and friends who are still here. I am thankful for my cat, Draco. I am thankful that I am following my dream of writing. This is my challenge for you: start living your life to its fullest. Be kind to others. Don’t do the things you hate doing, do more of the things you love. Take care of yourself. You never know if tomorrow will come.

Love to you all and best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season. Now go out and make happy memories! Oh, and if you’re one of those people who loves someone but you haven’t told them, maybe go out and do that as well (the movie, Love Actually, can help you with that).

***Image is from Jolly Holiday Lights by Make A Wish, in Altoona, IA. (check it out if you’re in the area).

http://iowa.wish.org/news-and-events/calendar-of-events/november/event-detail-page

***Also check out Christmas Village in Irvine Park if you’re in the Eau Claire/Chippewa Falls, WI area.

http://www.chippewafalls-wi.gov/your-government/parks-recreation-forestry/irvine-park/christmas-village/about-christmas-village

Diamond Jo Casino In Worth, Iowa

Over the past seven years I have spent quite a bit of time in Iowa. My friends and family seem to think that it is so far away. In reality, it’s only about an hour from where I currently live, in Minnesota. There is more to this state than just corn fields, which is what people tend to think of when they hear Iowa. If you like casino games or checking out new places, Diamond Jo Casino, in Worth, Iowa, might be the place for you.

Only an hour and a half south of Prior Lake, Minnesota, Diamond Jo is a great overnight destination, or day trip. This casino offers a variety of food options, such as: Burger King, Subway, The Kitchen Buffet, and the Woodfire Grille. I tend to choose Burger King’s chicken nuggets, or the buffet. The food at the buffet is decent. They have one particular dessert that I look for any time I visit. It’s a chocolate gluten free dessert that is to die for. I most enjoy their brunch, which includes an omelet station and various other breakfast items. This buffet has gone through some changes and continues to evolve; my hope is that it will continue to improve, because there are a few items, such as the Crab Rangoon, that could use some work, but there are also items, such as the catfish, that I find quite delectable.

As far as games go, this casino tends to keep on top of trends. They do offer a variety of old and new games. I was a little bummed to find out that they appear to have gotten rid of their Pelican Pete games, which I love. They do have live table games and a poker room if you enjoy a little more action.

Diamond Jo provides free live entertainment at their Big Wheel Bar every Friday and Saturday night. If you are looking for some bigger names in music, they also have musicians and comedians scheduled in their event center, throughout the year. A calendar can be obtained on their website.

If you visit Diamond Jo and you would like to stay overnight, they have pretty decent accommodations. The casino is connected to the local Country Inn & Suites. I have previously stayed at this hotel and very much enjoyed my room, as well as the hot tub and pool area. I have also stayed at the Holiday Inn Express across the street, the first couple of days it was open, and the rooms there were very nice as well. Either place provided for some relaxing downtime after a night of fun at the casino.

This casino atmosphere is fairly comfortable. The gaming area is not as big as that of Mystic Lake or Treasure Island Casino, but it is enough to meet my standards. I have enjoyed many evenings checking out the music at the Big Wheel Bar, as well as dining with family and friends. I always have a great time at Diamond Jo.

For more information on this particular casino, or the B Connected Club, please visit: http://www.diamondjoworth.com/