Monthly Archives: January 2008

Retreating from the world without traveling far from it

This past weekend, I escaped to Prairiewoods, a local gem that offers peaceful respite just minutes from I-380 and downtown Cedar Rapids. The Franciscan retreat center offers a variety of non-denominational spiritual retreats, as Pairiewoods Sunrisewell as holistic services and overnight accommodations for those looking to step out of their regular life and into a place of peace and contemplation.

I attended a yoga retreat organized by Karen Wachsmuth of Yoga for Your Life, a local teacher who works primarily in the Iyengar yoga tradition, but several of the other women who attended the retreat had also stayed at Prairiewoods other times. They raved about the staff, particularly those who lead other retreats at the property, and said how much they enjoyed it.

Prairiewoods’ event schedule through March is up on its web site, and includes ongoing fitness classes, spiritual spa renewal days, and even business-oriented development classes. The facilities are also available to those who want to go on a private retreat, directed retreat, or even a sabbatical.

For those who stay overnight, the guesthouse accommodations are straightforward and comfortable. Each room has twin beds, a sink, a nook with a clothes bar, a desk and a chair. Adjoining rooms share a bathroom with a toilet and a shower. Each floor of the guesthouse also has minimal kitchen facilities, although meals are served in the Center.

The Center features a lovely gift shop, with books and handmade jewelry and other products that either foster or demonstrate a creative spirit. There is also a lovely meditation room with soaring windows that look out onto the woods, a conference room, and plenty of common space for reading, visiting or playing games.

The weekend I was there, Cedar Rapids was enjoying –20 to –30 degree F wind chills. While I’m not going to claim deep and abiding fondness for any weather that causes your fingers to fall off within a matter of minutes, it was beautiful to sit inside the Center, which is the main building on the property, and stare out at the windswept snow with a mug of sage tea made from herbs grown there in warmer months.

I hope to return in those warmer months, not just to check out the sage being grown for the following winter’s tea, but also to take advantage of the trails and quiet spots on Prairiewoods’ 70 acres.


Genie Gratto also blogs at The Inadvertent Gardener.


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Filed under Celebrating the four seasons, Daytrips and Getaways, Natural Beauty

The thermostat is dropping, but the fun is just heating up!

One of Iowa’s greatest blessings is the opportunity for residents to enjoy all four seasons. Although winter in Iowa can sometimes be best enjoyed from inside the house, there are some fun activities for those adventurous souls who like to bundle up and head outside.

Fun Stuff for the Kids!

Although it takes me just as long to get my 4-year-old ready to go outside as we actually spend outside, it’s still worth the work! We like to go sledding, and the corridor offers a number of fun hills for risk-takers of all abilities. The City of Cedar Rapids has information on ice skating rinks, and places to sled and ski.

Coralville is hosting their first annual Winterfest January 27th. From roasting chestnuts to a snowball fight, this event will have something for everyone in the family. And it is all FREE! If you can’t make it, be sure to mark your calendars for next year!

Cross Country Skiing

I would never dare, but a coworker seems to enjoy it! She says the Winter Sports Hotline (319) 286-5700 is up-to-date and usually has information on whether the trails are groomed or not. Hot spots in the Cedar Rapids area include: Ellis Park Golf Course, Twin Pines Golf Course, and the Sac and Fox Trail (near the Indian Creek Nature Center).

Down-Hill Skiing/Snowboarding

Although it’s not technically IN the corridor, downhill skiing can be found within a short drive. Sundown Mountain in Dubuque, IA boasts an amazing ski experience, and offers special times and programs for families. Chestnut Mountain is just across the Ole Mississippi in Galena, IL. This seven acre terrain park is one of the Midwest’s top rated ski resorts for skiing and snowboarding.


Snowmobiling is another winter favorite in Iowa, and they are having fun this year!

Bundle up and have fun!

Yeah, it might be a little cold outside, but that’s no excuse to get out and enjoy! Build a snowman, make a snow angel, or take advantage of some of the fun activities listed above.

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Filed under Celebrating the four seasons, Daytrips and Getaways, Stuff for kids to do

A Great Education

My husband is current less than a year away from completing his Management/PM MBA at the University of Iowa.  YEAH!   While it has taken him two years to get to where he is now, he will tell you that it has been a great haul.  

The flexibility of the courses and scheduling has allowed him to be able to work full-time and attend two classes each semester that meet once a week.  One of the best things about the Tippie MBA program for us is that he does not have to drive to Iowa City for classes, but can stay in Cedar Rapids and attend classes.  He is able to get a world-class education and not spend hours in front of the computer for an on-line program or driving. He has had the chance to learn valuable work applicable skills from great instructors who are currently in the work force themselves.  While he has still had his fair share of homework and tests (yes, you still have these in an MBA program) some of the classes have included on-site field trips to Eastern Iowa companies and hands on skills that he has applied in his current position.

For those that want to get done with the program faster, there are week-long and intersession classes offered in addition to the semester classes.  Want to pursue an MBA, but don’t have time to go to class every semester?  The Tippie MBA program gives you the flexibility to obtain the degree over a 10 year span. 

The Tippie program is also one of the best values for your money and is ranked high amoungst other MBA programs in the country.

The Economist
Top 20 Public U.S.

Financial Times
11th Public U.S.
27th U.S.
45th World

3rd Public U.S.
12th U.S.
2nd Big 10
1st Fastest Payback

U.S. News
Top 25 Public U.S.

Wall Street Journal
16th Regional

University of Iowa’s MBA program is also fully accredited by the AACSB. 

My husband has truly grown as a person and in his professional career while in this program.  He has had the opportunity to work with and build relationships with many other amazing people in the Eastern Iowa work arena, that he might not have even met.   It has broadened his knowledge of managment skills and tools to be a more effective member of his team.    I even have had the chance to work on some assignments with him and hone in on my own skills as he shares with me what he has learned. 

The Tippie MBA program is just another reason why the Eastern Iowa Corridor is a great place to live, ,and grow.  Tippe and the University of Iowa are committed to a quality and comprehensive education for their students and helping them progress in the workforce. 

For more information about the Unversity of Iowa MBA program:

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Filed under Education