January 28, 2014
Hannah Button

If She Can Make It There . . .

By Kellye Crocker


Hannah Button will miss a few days of school next week. But she has a good excuse: She'll be singing at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

A 16-year-old junior at ADM High School in Adel, Hannah will perform at the world-famous venue as an alto with the elite High School Honors Choir. Thousands of students from North America and select international schools submitted applications and audition recordings last fall. Those chosen for the Honors Performance Series, which also includes a band and an orchestra, demonstrated exemplary talent, dedication and achievements. The three honors groups will perform Feb. 9 at Carnegie Hall for the public and representatives of collegiate music programs.

The second oldest of seven children, Hannah is the daughter of Shelley and Brad Button of rural Van Meter. She studies music with Suzanne Lommler of Indianola and has sung with the All State Honor Choir, RRC Honor Choir and Opus Honor Choir, among others.  


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Spirit of Uganda
Ode to Joy
An exuberant celebration of East African cultures arrives at the Des Moines Civic Center for a family-friendly music and dance performance by Spirit of Uganda. With a cast of 22 Ugandan children and teenagers who are orphans or otherwise vulnerable, the show also offers a powerful testament to the human spirit.

AIDS, poverty and civil war have left more than 2.5 million Ugandan young people parentless, and as a result, 70 percent of the country's population is age 24 or younger. Despite the tragedies they've endured (or, maybe, because of them), the troupe's high-energy drumming, dancing and call-and-response vocals have delighted and inspired audiences across the United States. "Their adorability quotient is high, but it's matched by their talent," The New Yorker magazine wrote in 2012. That followed its 2011 review reporting that "the audience hollered with joy."

Des Moines Performing Arts presents the one-hour show, targeted to ages 4 to 10, at 1 p.m. Feb. 8 as part of the Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Family Series. Don't miss the pre-show Discovery Party, at noon in the Civic Center lobby, with crafts, music, demonstrations and other fun. The party is free for ticketholders. Tickets: $10 at the Civic Center ticket office, Ticketmaster locations, charge-by-phone (800-745-3000) and online.
Grab Your Long Johns
Most of us grouse about the latest "snow event" or "polar vortex," but some hardy souls--perhaps their hearts are a little bigger or their blood runs a little hotter--laugh in the face of Old Man Winter. Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity needs such Winter Warriors to build homes for low-income residents "because hope doesn't take a snow day." Of course, it feels good to serve, but the organization is adding a couple of perks. Volunteer on a construction site for a full day between now and March 29 and you'll receive a free long-sleeve Winter Warrior T-shirt and be entered in a drawing to win an iPad Mini. Bring a friend, and you'll both receive two entries.

No construction experience? No problem (90 percent of volunteers don't). If the weather becomes hazardous, work will halt for the day. For more information and to register, click here.
If Only . . . Easy Home Revamps
In "Romancing the Home" in the new issue of dsm, experts appearing at the upcoming Des Moines Home & Garden Show provide easy, affordable solutions to major irritants that drive otherwise happy homeowners to the real estate listings. Go to the show--Feb. 6-9 at the Iowa Events Center--to talk to the pros yourself and gather inspiration and how-to advice. Admission is $9-$11 for adults; $4 for children ages 7-12; free for children age 6 and under. For more information, call 244-5456 or click here.
Count on Comtéfoodanddining 

If you've ever tasted fondue and thought, "What is all the fuss about?" do yourself a favor: Go to Gateway Market or The Cheese Shop of Des Moines and ask for an aged Comté cheese from France. A great cheese makes all the difference.

Yes, I know what you're thinking: A French cheese for a classic Swiss dish? Let's not forget that France has its share of the Alps, too, and food lovers there enjoy the Alpine specialty in winter as much as the Swiss do. But rather than using quintessential Swiss cheeses (like Gruyère and Emmenthaler), they'd use their own cheeses, including Comté, a Gruyère-like cheese made in France's lush pasturelands in the Jura Massif region.

Comté is aged four to 24 months (generally longer than most Swiss Gruyères), and the longer the cheese ages, the more its complex fruit, hazelnut and toffee notes come through. These flavors intensify even more when melted, making fondue a head-spinningly good way to serve Comté. Fortunately, both Gateway and The Cheese Shop purvey well-aged versions of the cheese. Get extra, as it's a marvelous melting cheese, good in anything from twice-baked potatoes to panini.

Photo courtesy of CIGC/Comté Cheese Association.
Kellye Crocker

Kellye Crocker lives in Clive and writes fiction for teens and nonfiction for adults. A former Des Moines Register senior reporter and current dsm contributing writer, she's also written for Parents, Better Homes and Gardens and Glamour, among other national publications. Connect with her on Twitter: @kelcrocker.
Wini Moranville

Wini Moranville, author of "The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day," is a food, wine and travel writer who covers the dining scene for dsm magazine. Follow her at All Things Food DSM - Wini Moranville and catch her food segment on Fridays at 6:40 a.m. on KCWI-23's "Great Day" morning show.

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