In Stuart Alexander's perfect world, every garden is a wonderland. Blades of grass form an undisturbed carpet of green, flowers burst with intense color and fragrant smells, and trees provide shady havens for weary travelers. Now, after spending years as an event planner and designer, Stuart works his artistry outside as part of 5th Room Landscapes. Working with seasoned landscapers and garden experts, Stuart's team oversees all facets of domestic plant life, from designing and installing gardens to maintaining creations throughout all seasons yet to come. Their spaces are as usable as they are beautiful, encouraging homeowners to spend more time barbecuing in the summer, leaf-peeping in the autumn, and protecting the yard from territorial hockey players in the winter.
The thread scrubbers at Dixie's eradicate stains and rejuvenate garments with the help of environmentally friendly processes and materials. The devoted frock fresheners invigorate apparel with a locally produced starch—made from Iowa corn-starch—that is water soluble, clear, and tastes great with a buttery topping. Future businessmen can prepare interview ensembles by cleaning a suit ($12.35) and shirt ($2.25) or go casual by donning a pair of slacks ($6.25) and their favorite business poncho. Fashionable femmes can enrobe themselves in newly freshened blouses ($6.40), skirts ($8.95), and dresses ($12.85). Large-scale hamper harvests can be divested of dirt with wash and fold laundry service ($1 per pound), whose by-the-pound pricing makes it an ideal way to refresh cellophane sweaters and tin-foil tuxedo jackets.
The year was 1902, and young Edwin Thomas Meredith was about to get married. His grandfather had a special nuptial gift to give: a handful of $20 coins to buy a controlling interest in the family newspaper, the Farmer's Tribune. Attached to the paper's debt-filled finance sheet was a note that said "Sink or swim," so E.T. Meredith strapped on his proverbial scuba flippers. Just over a decade later, subscriptions for Meredith's debut magazine Successful Farming were up from 500 to more than 500,000. In 1922, the company launched Fruit, Garden and Home—renamed Better Homes and Gardens in 1924—and a publishing powerhouse made its national debut.
More than a century after its founding, Meredith Corporation remains rooted in the old-fashioned ideals that E.T. held to on his wedding day. Their line-up, however, has evolved to suit the times. Alongside Better Homes and Gardens, Meredith publishes the wellness-oriented cooking magazine Eating Well, regionally focused magazines such as Midwest Living and Country Life, and the Spanish-language monthlies Siempre Mujer and Ser Padres. Of course, they stick with the stuff that works, too. Successful Farming is still going strong, and Talkin' Bout Talkies only folded last year when silent pictures made a comeback. Rooted in the past, but always reaching toward the future, Meredith's magazines keep old traditions alive and vibrant.
The handlers at Iowa Reptile Rescue handle reptiles and amphibians with attentive foster care. While their reptilian guests vary, the shelter may house tokay geckos, bearded dragons, and russian tortoises, as well as the occasional orphaned rose-hair tarantula or a velociraptor who's burnt out after years of typecasting. Once animals are deemed ready for reentry into loving homes, the staff adds the animal to their list of current adoptables. To help fund their operation, the Iowa Reptile Rescue team organizes events, such as benefit concerts, and recruits the support of local business sponsors.