Posts Tagged ‘family’

Our Valentine’s Day Dinner Table || Splurge + Save

Today is the day we celebrate those we love in an extra special way! We started a fancy Valentine’s Day dinner tradition with the boys a few years back. They look forward to it–especially the food! I make one of my most liked recipes, my Vodka Cream Pasta with Prosciutto. They all gobble it up like it is going to be their last supper. It is one of those recipes I am proud of because I tweaked it and made it my own.

Today, I am sharing our Valentine’s Day table with you. I think it is fun to create special occasions in your home. Those little family traditions that make your family special. I love to have my family around the dinner table and spend an evening enjoying their company… and delicious food. So, naturally, we do the fancy feast with a decked out table every year.

Valenitine's Day Dinner Table

I thought it would be fun to show you guys how I save money doing this every year. You might think that creating a beautiful table could cost a lot, but I am going to show you how I keep the cost down every year.

Splurge v. Save

Splurge. First things first, you got to know what to splurge on. When I say splurge, translate that into what it means for you. I choose to splurge on the basics that can be reused dinner after dinner. White china is a great investment and transitions to so many occasions. We actually use this white china for our every day set too and it has held up going on 12 years now. It is just the classic white china from Pier 1. Not expensive, but if your wallet is a little tighter you can find basic white china at the dollar store. I would shoot for dinner plates. You can always add in a new look with a patterned appetizer plate or napkin.


I also think a basic white tablecloth that washes up nicely is another item to splurge on. You can change runners, placemats, and center pieces over a white tablecloth. Mine was not expensive at all and I found it at Target. It has held up just fine over the years.

Splurge on flowers

One more table item I think is worth the splurge is a fresh floral bouquet. It’s great when the weather is nice and you can just go out in the yard and clip greens and flowers. In the dead of winter,a quick trip to the grocery store for flowers is cost-effective. This bouquet was only $15 and it will keep for at least a week with proper care. Flowers on a table just make a table feel more expensive and beautiful.

Save. Now that you have the basics the rest you can get really creative with. You don’t have to buy a table runner. You can make one. I love to use uncommon things for runners. I’ve used full length mirrors, art paper, scarves, and all kinds of things. I like to shop my house first. This year I had enough of this gold striped wrapping paper left over. It makes a fun runner.

save-table-runner Reuse items. Now I like to layer my table, so I took an old Halloween runner and flipped it over and added the greek key ribbon left over from a DIY project. I save clippings of fabric and ribbons from projects just for occasions like these.

Shop thrift stores and clearance sales. I found our Italian crystal bar glasses at a flea market new in the box. The whole set was $7. I had just seen the same set at TJ Maxx for a lot more and know it retails a lot higher. Our chargers are from Goodwill. 50 cents each. The appetizer plates were an after Christmas Target clearance item. Only $5 something for all 4. If you are looking to save and have a little patience, you can find the best things if you are willing to shop thrift stores and wait for clearance sales.


Make your own decorations.Sure you can buy seasonal decor, but I really like to make my own and it’s free! Scrapbook paper is my go-to for crafts. I made these DIY heart arrows a couple of weeks back using stuff from around the house. Kebabs and paper, that’s all it is. My heart paper punch got a work out this holiday and I used the left over hearts on the table like confetti. The calligraphy phrases were a free printable and I just printed and glued them to paper.

B@H || DIY Valentine's table


Create a Valentine's Table




I can’t wait to enjoy this table setting with my favorite people tonight! I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Our Trip to the World’s Fair Exhibit at The Field Museum

I recently had the opportunity to take the family to see the new Opening of the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair exhibit at The Field Museum in Chicago. Living in northern Illinois, I have the pleasure of being able to hop in my car and in just a couple of hours be in the 3rd largest city in the United States. I enjoy memories of the museums and Chicago attractions from my childhood and I love that I can share that with my kids now.


Chicago is a city rich in history, tradition, and fabulous architecture. I love a weekend trip to the Windy City. For this trip, we enjoyed a day at The Field Museum and got to try out a new interactive app. You can now download the free Field Museum Tours Mobile app to your iPhone or Android. I downloaded it the night before and used it for our museum visit.


Download The Field Museum Free Mobile App Here

I connected my mobile device to “FieldMuseumWiFi” for the best app performance. It was really easy to use and it was a fun way to interact with the artifacts in the exhibit. I tested it out on the totem poles before we entered the World’s Fair Exhibit. I scanned the QR code on the display and was given a fun little history lesson of how the totem poles came to be at the museum.



We clicked on the tours tab and then the World’s Fair Tour and got to interact with the exhibit in a whole new way.

worlds-fair-appI loved being able to take the family to this particular exhibit because it explained the history of The Field Museum and such a huge event in US history. The 1893 World’s Fair featured the Columbian Exposition. We got to journey back into 1893 and see the artifacts and specimens that visitors delighted in at the World’s Fair in Chicago over 120 years ago.  The exhibit holds fair memorabilia, over 200 interesting artifacts and specimens from the fair, and large screens featuring the fair grounds. You also can interact with the collections through new digital technology. My kids loved it and were amazed by the animal skeletons and the Peruvian mummies. Those had to be their favorites.

world's-fair-exhibit-artifact Out of respect for the other visitors, I didn’t take a lot of  photos of the exhibit as we were going through it. It was the day after Thanksgiving and this was by far the busiest exhibit we toured that day. I did happen to snap the photo above of my little Sam in awe of everything he saw. I really enjoyed the historical artifacts and the screen projections–it felt like you were watching a movie of the fair as you were walking through the exhibit.

The Field Museum is a legacy of the 1893 World’s Fair. It was founded to commemorate the fair and is an architectural gem. The original collections are from the fair and research is still ongoing today on its ever-growing collections. The Field Museum houses the largest collection of artifacts from the World’s Fair.

When you visit The Field Museum you are stepping into an important part of history. The design lover in me loves to see the architecture almost just as much as the exhibits. I couldn’t leave without taking a few photos of this dazzling structure. I put together a little slideshow of some of my favorite details.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After we toured the World’s Fair Exhibit, we enjoyed all the other delights of  The Field Museum. We spent most of our day watching our kids get excited to see dinosaurs and animals from around the world. They loved walking through the Egyptian tomb and we ended our day with a bite to eat at the Museum’s Bistro.

Of course, no visit to The Field Museum is complete without a photo by Sue.


sue-field-museum sue's-skull

The Field Museum is a Chicago treasure and always a joy to experience, especially when you are taking little people for the first time! We so enjoyed our visit and even got a membership for many more visits to come.

If you are planning a visit to The Field Museum be sure to download The Field Museum Free Mobile App for a whole new museum experience.

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.


Cabin Weekend

I just finished a project that I need to write-up, so I thought today I’d share a few of the moments from our magical birthday weekend in the cabin. It was just the perfect setting to really relax and enjoy spending time together. There was no need to get all dolled up. We all had messy hair and wore sweaters and jammies most of the time. It was fantastic! We ate really good food and didn’t worry about it being healthy-which is totally allowed on your birthday. We hiked the trails, had a bonfire, and played games. We told ghost stories at night and enjoyed our mornings sipping coffee in our beautiful surroundings.

Here’s a few of my favorite shots from our weekend:


One of the bedrooms had this line from a poem by Lewis Carroll painted on the walls. In the morning the sun made it glow and it was a sweet moment seeing Sam fast asleep underneath it.



Through this window you can see the porch that we enjoyed in the morning.



On our hike there were still some beautiful colors to see…

fall-harvest gold-maple red-maple


I love this shot of Dave and Sam in the woods…



Here’s the birthday boy…so handsome and photogenic!



Here’s a photo the now 10-year-old took of us.



I just love the way the sun was shining through the trees in this window shot…



Here’s the cozy spot we spent our Sunday morning talking and having coffee…

pine-beam-cabin It was definitely a weekend that we will all treasure. We have already been talking about when we will make it back there again.

Just a reminder that you can still enter to win a MINI Templeton from White Faux Taxidermy as seen in our fall bedroom refresh below:



click here to enter

Halloween Candy Table with DIY Chalkboard Labels & a $200 Target GIVEAWAY!!

Today I have a fun and easy Halloween project to share and a great giveaway for a $200 Target gift card!! One of my hands-down favorite things to do on the blog is offer you guys a giveaway and this is a good one!! I also got to team up with some of my favorite bloggers. We were each asked to create a DIY Halloween craft that could be repurposed in our homes.


When it comes to seasonal decor, I like to keep it pretty simple. I am more about creature comforts and mixing in more texture when fall rolls around. That’s all fine and dandy, but I also have 2 little boys who just happen to love Halloween. So, I like to opt for Halloween decor that I can reuse or transition into other crafts throughout the year. As you can see this project was a really great fit for us and how we live. I also don’t like to spend a lot of money on things like this and that is where comes in.  Have you used before? It is pretty great for online shopping.

I chose to do a Halloween Candy Table and make DIY Chalkboard Labels. We like to have friends over when we trick or treat and have some snacks out for the night. As you can see, we like to get our sinful candy eating ways done in one night. This will get us through until next year.


I purchased my project materials on and used codes from the website to save at The codes I used are no longer on the website but they offer new codes all the time. By using these codes I saved 30% on the home decor items I selected, got free shipping, and an extra 5% off using my Target Red Card. It added up to some pretty big savings!

For this project, I used home items that I could reuse later on. Glass jars, an apothecary jar, and white bowls all served as candy and food containers for my Halloween Candy Table. Choosing basic items like this for my foundation is great because I can reuse them for other things in my home after the holiday is over. I am already re-using the glass jars for Zoey’s dog food and the bowls are great for growing boys who like to eat cereal in large quanities.




I made the DIY Chalkboard Labels using these items:

• Paper Straws (also from Target)

• Craft store wood plaques

• Chalkboard spray paint

• Hot glue & hot glue gun

I chose hot glue since that would be easy to disassemble  and I can reuse the chalkboard labels for other projects like place cards and food labels for other events.



halloween-craft has some great savings going on right now! Check out these Target coupon codes and Halloween coupon codes to save on your upcoming shopping.

I did mention a giveaway, didn’t I?!

Enter to win a $200 Target gift card courtesy of using the form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out all of the DIY Halloween Crafts that can be repurposed here:


The Chronicles of Home

Dwellings by Devore

Lacquer & Linen

Primitive & Proper

The White Buffalo Styling Co.

This is a sponsored post for and Nesting Place. As always, all opinions are 100% mine.

Good For You || Lean Cuisine Honestly Good

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Lean Cuisine, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #HonestlyGood #ad

Hey Friends!

Today I am going to give you a peek into one of my mornings around here. Are you excited?!? Well, this glamorous lifestyle I lead doesn’t happen without effort.

Are you laughing yet??

OK, maybe the lifestyle of a DIY blogger and mom isn’t that glamorous, but it is time-consuming. I am busy, like most of us always are. I take my health seriously and try to stick to a healthy diet even with all the go-go-go. So today, I get to share with you a quick and healthy alternative that takes just a couple of minutes to make and it can be found in the freezer aisle.

But first, here’s a glimpse of a typical morning around here. This is the short version and I left out the really boring stuff like laundry and dishes.

I am the early riser of our home. I get up around 5:30 or 6:00 every morning. I get things going, do the obvious things like brush my teeth, and if it’s a run day and nice out I hit the pavement. Sometimes I end up at the gym after school drop off, but on this particular day it was perfect outdoor running weather. When I get back, I take care of our dog, Zoey, since she is the next one to get up.

before-school Then my little guy, Sam, cuddles with me on the couch while I answer emails and respond to comments on the blog. If I have some time I read my favorite blogs.

While the boys have breakfast, I jump in the shower and freshen up. Then, I blend a smoothie and a to-go coffee and we head out the door for school drop off. Our school is about 20 minutes away so we have a little extra drive time.


When Sam and I get home, we play or read together.  I grab my second cup of coffee and respond to comments and anything pressing. Then, I like to take the hours of 10am-11:00am to work on projects or run errands. Today was grocery day so I made a Target run. By the time I get home, it is lunch time and I only have about 20 minutes to make and eat our lunches before I have to get back in the car and take Sam to preschool.

Speaking of lunch…

I tried out the new Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals all last week.


Lean Cuisine now offers a new line of healthy and all natural meals. I have been very careful to make sure I’m not eating foods with lots of additives and preservatives. Most the freezer meals that are offered are full of those guys. Not a fan. For lunch, I usually eat a salad with fruit, low-fat cheese, a lean protein, and oil and vinegar on top. I usually don’t veer from that too often because I need something fast and I know that it is really good for me. I admit, I get tired of it sometimes, so you can imagine my excitement to try these Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals out!

I took the time to try each one of the 6 Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals. I love that they are fresh and have unique blends of flavors. My favorites are the Lemongrass Salmon and the Honey Citrus Chicken.


These meals only take about 5 mins. to make which is perfect for me. Everything tastes fresh and the meats aren’t your typical freezer meal meats. They are tender and tasty. You get a full cut of chicken, fish, or beef. I am so glad that these are available now because they are a nice alternative to my everyday salad.

Today, I had the Honey Citrus Chicken again. I think it just might be my favorite.







Yum! That was good! I love that they are fresh and all natural with a good blend of wholesome ingredients. Now I feel ready to tackle the rest of the day!

You can pick up Lean Cuisine Honestly Good meals at Target. There are 6 meals to choose from, I suggest you try a new each day and find your favorites. You can try Honey Citrus Chicken, Lemongrass Salmon, Pineapple Black Pepper Beef, Plum Ginger Grain-Crusted Fish, Pomegranate Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper Chicken.

Here’s another thing to love about these meals. Not only are you eating clean and healthy, but Lean Cuisine together with their farmers are donating a portion of the vegetables grown for LEAN CUISINE HONESTLY GOOD meals to local communities. By purchasing an Honestly Good meal you are helping others eat healthy too!

Fall Favorites from Target & Apple Picking

So Sunday was the first official day of fall. Did you get the memo? After I dropped Sam off at preschool last Friday, I stopped into Target and they were putting out the new fall home decor. It was tempting. Here’s some of my favorite finds from Target to help you bring some cozy fall touches into your home.

fall-home-decor-target 1|2|3|4|5|6

We celebrated the beginning of fall this weekend with a trip to the apple orchard. We have been doing this with the kids for quite a while and they always get excited to go. Here’s some of the highlights. apple-tree-boys apple-picking apple-orchard-2013 apples apple-bags sam running-orchard Happy Fall!!!!!

Fall Bucket List >>> Chalkboard Style

It feels like a fall day around here. I will have a perma-smile all day long! Last weekend the boys and I sat down and made our fall bucket list and decided our home needed a chalkboard wall to write it on. So I painted and waited and chalked and today it was ready to write on. So here’s our new addition to our kitchen. It’s imperfect, quirky, and full of fun. It fits right in!



Dave really likes the black against the white so I have convinced him that I want a black and white hallway. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! My little plan is coming along swimmingly. I knew if he saw it, he would be on board.


These kids are awesome at telling all the things they want to do. The “buy slippers” one cracks me up. I will totally buy slippers. Bryce is very practical and also suggested getting more wool socks because it gets cold at night. He is the one I will not have to worry about when he starts driving. He will drive like a senior citizen on Sunday and that will be fine by me. Sam on the other…hand, well not so much!



Pretty awesome list, if I do say so myself! Aren’t chalkboard walls homey? I totally love them.


I may have to pull out some fall clothes today. I like that idea!

Linking up here:

The Lettered Cottage
Home Stories A to Z Tutorials & Tips Party

A Gallery Wall Update + the Story of How We Met

On September 1st, Dave and I will be celebrating 11 years! It is amazing to me that it has been that long. What better way to celebrate than to reveal our gallery wall, right? Well, maybe not…but I will be revealing it that week. The week of love. Hee, hee, hee.

As I have been collecting, DIYing, encouraging child labor to get this gallery wall put together– I have been going down memory lane. One of the things that I am framing and dating for our wall is a picture of the coffee shop that Dave and I met at.

Do you want a story? Well, great! Here we go.

The scene: The year was 1999. A tiny local coffee shop that was the height of coolness. Think F•R•I•E•N•D•S…”I’ll be there for youuuuuu”


3-20-1999 or the day the story begins

A young woman sits dressed head to toe in American Eagle apparel. It is as if she took the whole store with her. She sits at a small table in a crowded coffee shop doing a crossword puzzle and sipping her vanilla latte because she heard that’s what Madonna was drinking. (Poor confused youth)

Her work friends are sitting across the way consumed with a heated game of Euchre.

A handsome young man enters and is smiling as he greets his friends. The same friends that are playing Euchre. After hugs and pats on the back he sits with the group.

The girl tries not to stare but is intrigued and wonders who this mystery person is. She notes that he is dressed plainly in jeans and a Nike swoosh shirt. Her work friends give a quick introduction and go back to their conversation.

The girl continues her crossword puzzle.

This stranger is friendly. He starts doing the same crossword puzzle and then offers the answer to the one that is stumping her. (She would later find out that he is terrible at crosswords, and was getting all the answers fed to him by his friend at the table.)

The group leaves and goes across the street for dinner.

The girl doesn’t feel like going home to her apartment yet, so she hangs out at the coffee shop talking to friends. After an hour, she is coffee’d out and ready to go home to get ready for the next day.

As she looks up, she sees this new guy and he asks if she is leaving.

“Ummm…no-ooo.” she says which is a total lie.

They talk for another hour.

The boy scores some digits and is impressed that she can say his last name correctly. (I am still convinced this was a big selling point for our marriage.)

The rest is history folks!

Now, for any of you wondering, Dave’s version is much funnier. He just pretty much thought I was “hot” and wasn’t even planning on staying in the area, but was going to leave in a couple days for Texas. We went on two dates in two days and guess what, he didn’t leave for Texas.  I am really glad he didn’t leave.



I have a feeling we will be telling that story over the next 50 years. My version will stay the same and Dave’s version will get funnier.

Thanks for going down memory lane with me today!

Just incase you didn’t get a chance to enter, there are 2 giveaways going on right now.  

organizher-giveaway (1)

Enter Here


Enter Here

New Organizher and a GIVEAWAY for you!!

It is no secret that I have been a fan of the Organizher products at Target. You’ve seen me post about them in our family command center and I shared some new Organizher products here.

Well, today the lovely people at Organizher have sent me the new Organizher all-in-one memo book to review.

And…I got one for you too! At the end of this post you can enter to win your very own Organizher all-in-one memo book! YAY!


I just started using this Organizher all-in-one memo book and it is fantastic! Perfect timing too, because it’s just in time for the kids going back to school! That is busy-crazy time in my house! There are tons of planners and trackers out there, but I need something that multi-functions. This is a godsend! It has an area for meal planning, tracking monthly expenses, a calendar for family scheduling, and a place with folders and blank lists for organization. Perfect for the busy mom on-the-go!


I am a meal planner, and this is great because it is divided up weekly and that is how I like to shop and plan. I can plan my meals in the meals section and then make my grocery list and store my coupons in the organization section.



In the scheduling section is a weekly calendar to keep track of all your family member’s schedules. The expenses section tracks all your monthly expenses.


This is exactly what I needed for the start of the school year. Everything in one place, just like I like it!



Now is your chance to win an Organizher all-in-one memo book!  

 Enter Here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To get the latest on Organizher products check out the Organizher website and the Organizher facebook page. Organizher products are on sale now exclusively at Target.

This is a product review for Organizher. All opinions are 100% mine.

Happy Organizing!!

P.S. I just wanted to share that my new friend Rhoda from Southern Hospitality is sharing our home today for her Feature Friday series!! I got to meet Rhoda last week at the Haven Conference and she is just as sweet, beautiful, and gracious as you would think she is from reading her blog. She is an amazing DIY/design blogger, but I’m sure most of you already know that ;) Go on over to Southern Hospitality and see all of Rhoda’s great projects and say hello for me! xoxo

southern-hospitality-blog-haven Haven Conference 2013 

DIY Chalkboard Placemats

Here’s an easy little craft I did with the kids. We had some chalkboard paint leftover and found some placemats clearanced at Hobby Lobby for under $1 each.

zebra placemats


These board placemats are perfect to paint because of their smooth surface and thickness.

chalkboard painting tips


I really love the chalkboard paint from Lullaby Paints. It is the same paint I used on my DIY Chalkboard. It is VOC-free and non-toxic and has no odor! I also love the roller that comes with the paint kit. The kids love painting with it and knowing that just in a few hours they will get to draw their masterpieces.

One of the tips I have learned is to put on thin coats. Really universal for painting anything! Basically, long even coats and don’t roll back and forth, but in the same direction. So, don’t go over a section again until it is dry. This photo above is after 1 coat of paint. We did 2 coats and it covered really well. Once completely dry, you need to cover the entire surface with chalk before you use them.

DIY Chalkboard Placemats


We painted these pretty late in the day, so I surprised the kids the next morning and had them out the next morning. They got to draw and create while I made breakfast.

Kid Chalkboard Placemats 6

Today I am on the hunt at Habitat for Humanity for a light fixture for our entry way. Who knows what I will find!

xoxo Kristin


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