OCTOBER  25, 2016

Splendid fall weather is forecast for Saturday's final guided stroll through the Des Moines Botanical Garden's outdoor gardens. 

Enjoy the beauty of autumn Saturday, Oct. 29, with a guided tour through the Des Moines Botanical Garden. Horticulture Director Kelly Norris will host this last in a series of tours, each focusing on seasonal aspects of the gardens. Savor the bittersweet balance between the beauty and brevity of the autumn garden on this stroll from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The tour is free for Botanical Garden members, $16 for non-members. Registration ends today (Tuesday);  click here to register.  
Whether it's sunlit or warmed by the fireplace, this modern sunroom is a beautiful family sanctuary that enhances the charm of a 100 year-old farmhouse. ... Read More
Some 72 percent of parents admit they swipe Halloween candy from their kids. That rate might be even higher for the really good stuff from Chocolate Storybook. 

By Wini Moranville

Never mind ghouls and goblins--the scariest thing about Halloween is the ripped-open half-full bags of supermarket candy miniatures that haunt your house until, somehow, they bewitch you into eating them.
This Halloween, tap into the spirit of the holiday, but scare up something worth the indulgence: Head to Chocolate Storybook for top-notch Halloween candies. The cutest are the kettle-cooked caramels, which are hand-dipped and decorated with pumpkins and goblins. Also find handmade chocolate truffles in the form of sweet little ghosts and jack-o'-lanterns.
Fast becoming a signature confection is the shop's line of specialty cotton candy. According to owner Meg Shearer, her crew makes over 4,000 tubs a week in their West Des Moines location; they're sold at 300 retailers nationwide. While you can choose from dozens of varieties, the candy-corn and caramel-apple flavors will especially hit the spot for Halloween.
Even goodies that aren't made in-house are painstakingly sourced. For example, the orange gummy candies, Shearer says, are "the best ever;" novelties such as the foil-wrapped jack-o'-lantern chocolates are made specifically for the shop.
Chocolate Storybook is at 1000 Grand Ave., West Des Moines, 515-226-9893; chocolatestory.com.
Singer A.J. Croce performs Wednesday evening at the Des Moines Social Club.

Singer A.J. Croce, performing at the Des Moines Social Club tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct. 26), has got a name for himself, apart from his latter-day troubadour father, Jim Croce, who died at the peak of his career in a 1973 plane crash, one day before the release of his haunting finale, "I've Got a Name."
Son A.J. has carved his own 20-year path through jazz, blues and pop music as a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist since his debut album, "That's Me in the Bar." In addition to recordings, concerts and festival performances, Croce has sung on television as a guest of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, "Austin City Limits" and "Good Morning America," among others.

"I'm always learning," Croce tells dsm. "I push myself musically to use a broader vocabulary on all the instruments I play. By keeping an open mind and embracing all kinds of music from around the world, from classic to avant-garde, historic to contemporary, I find inspiration daily." 
Croce will perform songs from his newest project, "Twelve Tales," as well as from his earlier work at 7 p.m. at the Des Moines Social Club. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the program that also includes local artist Christopher Ford, "Christopher the Conquered." Tickets in advance are $15 ($18 at the door if seating is available). For tickets and more information, click here
Get a look at the latest in local wedding trends and dresses, plus other dazzling fashions, in the new issue of dsm magazine, available after 6 p.m. today. Can't wait? Get a preview in this behind-the-scenes post on dsm's Facebook page. 

"Meet. Mingle. Munch and sip. Mix in a little laughter to taste." That's the recipe we repeat at the unveiling of each new issue of dsm magazine. We hope you join us later today as we introduce our November/December issue.

Party hosts today are our friends at Acura of Johnston, 5138 Merle Hay Road. You're welcome to buy a car on site, of course; that would be fun, but really, it isn't expected. Instead, enjoy valet parking of your car and free refreshments with us. We'll be there from 5 to 7 p.m., with a brief program at 6 p.m. before we hand out free copies of our new issue. 

Nationwide,16.2 percent of people plan to put costumes on their pets, which may explain this guy's expression. The most popular costumes chosen by pet owners: pumpkins, hot dogs and bumble bees. The opinions of their pets were not surveyed.  

Bring your dog to the Animal Rescue League's Howl-o-Ween party Saturday, Oct. 29, 2-4 p.m. Dogs can show their best trick at multiple treat stations around the ARL Training Center. Dogs in costume can stop by a photo booth to capture the memory. It's free to attend.
And if pet fashions fascinate you, the ARL's Pet-A-Porter Fashion Show is coming up Nov. 5, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the FFA Enrichment Center on the DMAAC campus in Ankeny. Adoptable animals strut their stuff on the catwalk at this popular annual event. This year, for the first time, all the animals in the show will be available to adopt on the spot and take home after the show. Tickets are $40 to $75. Registration and other information can be found here.  

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