A Scarecrow Filled Staycation

I am a big fan of using Groupon to find deals on places to eat, things to do, places to stay – essentially everything. We’ve lucked out that there has been a Groupon two years in a row during a staycation weekend for us. Every year, St. Charles hosts a Scarecrow Fest. We’ve gone every year since we moved into our house but last year we changed it up a bit by staying overnight and we returned to that same resort this year as well.

That resort? Pheasant Run Resort.

After we checked out of the hotel, both Ryan and I recognized that we just didn’t have a lot of time to really explore the resort itself. We spent a lot of time in downtown St. Charles at Scarecrow Fest, which honestly is the point of this staycation weekend, however we both acknowledged that there were enough activities in the resort itself that you could stay busy for a weekend. Perhaps this is something that we will look into during another weekend?

The Room

This year, we had an accessible room. That meant more space in the aisles and a much more spacious bathroom. I’m guessing that this won’t happen again but last year’s room was just fine. The beds are cozy and the bathroom is nice.

Side note: I’m guessing that the reason that we were given one of the accessible rooms is because the resort was packed during this weekend! There were several wedding groups throughout the hotel. And, members of the Doberman Club of America were also staying at the resort. There were so many dogs. !!!!!!

The Pools

There are two pools. One is an indoor/outdoor combination pool. We did not venture into that one this year. Last year, I got out of the pool because the indoor pool is just too cold (because it is actually attached to the outdoor pool, you can swim from one to the other). So, this year, we only went to the indoor-only pool. It was a bit funny to hear from other families as they joined us in the pool as they commented about how much warmer the indoor pool was.

When you check in, each member of your party gets a bracelet that gives you access to the pools. I’m guessing that the indoor/outdoor pool may be in high demand during the summer….but at not time were our wristbands checked by anyone at the pool.

There is a hot tub in the same area as the indoor pool which I was looking forward to using on the day that we checked out. However, that morning, the hot tub was filled with bubbles. Absolutely filled with bubbles. The woman that replenished the pool towels saw the water and quickly called for service. Yep. Those bubbles are not supposed to be there. Did someone add something? No idea. But, yea…no hot tub for me.

The Gym Facility


The workout facility is really nice for a hotel gym. There are multiples of each machine. When I went down to the gym, there were four other people working on and no one had to wait for the machine that they wanted. Treadmills, ellipticals, steppers, stationery bikes, and several weight machines and some free weights. Lots of options and, when I was there, enough machines so there was absolutely no wait.

The Food

This time, since we were not in the resort itself for very long, we did not eat in any of the food options. However, there are restaurants, bars, and room service is also available. We ate most of our meals downtown St. Charles.

And, of course, we had my favorite snack: “Chewy Chips Ahoy in a hotel bed while watching Food Network.”


The main reason to go, of course, is Scarecrow Festival.

The Festival

This is one of our favorite fall activities. The scarecrows are very cool to see, there’s a craft fair (which we did not get to at all this year but has been lots of fun in the past), you can make your own scarecrow, there is lots of food in the festival and, of course, lots of restaurants in St. Charles. There are lots of carnival rides, which the girls love. All in all, it’s a great weekend and a great way to kick start fall.

Winter Checklist – Update #2

We are a week away from Christmas! That’s a bit hard to believe. … I’m not sure where this month has gone. But, the countdown is definitely on. We have already accomplished a lot from our list…..which is good because 2017 is quickly coming to a close…..

So, now I give you ……. “A Very Busy Weekend”

Earlier this month, we knocked off two items from our list in one weekend: Renegade Craft Fair and Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo. We had a great weekend, of course. The problem was the weather….. The weather was amazing! Sunny! Not cold at all! So that means that everyone was out and about trying to enjoy the weather.

We made some fun purchases at the Craft Fair. (Always nice to shop small businesses for the holidays.) I can’t show our purchases right now because many of them are going to be unwrapped as gifts. 🙂


This statue is outside of the building where the Craft Fair was held. The same weekend last year? That statue was covered in snow…..

Since the weekend was so beautiful, we also took the time (and literally a lot of time because it took an hour longer to get to the zoo than it should normally because of traffic) to go to Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo.


This was also the night of the “Super Moon” which is definitely evident in this photo. That moon sure is super! Once we got to the zoo, it was great…..well….once we were parked and had finally entered the zoo entrance, it was great. The weather was fantastic! The zoo was really packed (which is just what happens when the weather is almost warm in December) but it was nice to go and not feel like we’re freezing our feet off.

The list thus far:

Checklist – Art throughout the house

Now that big girl is older, she is much better at finding her own ways to entertain herself without someone playing with her. One of her favorite things to do is to make pictures, cut paper and tape up her art (or maps – there are a lot of maps) around the house.

So, I am officially going to cross this one off of the summer checklist. (Just a few weeks left of summer! Hopefully, we can get almost everything done…..)

The checklist thus far:

  • Make lemonade.
  • Eat at Big Bowl.
  • Go to Millennium Park.
  • Go to Adler Planetarium.
  • Get space ice cream.
  • Go to zoo.
  • Go to Shedd Aquarium.
  • Go bowling.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Play at Maggie Daley playground.
  • Go to Field Museum.
  • Go to Art Institute and do a JourneyMaker tour.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the Children’s Museum.
  • Play at playground.
  • Have a pajama day (with daddy.)
  • See a movie at the movie theater.
  • See a movie outside.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the Family Festival downtown Chicago.
  • Make cookies.
  • Read books at home.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Draw pictures and cut them out.
  • Play with legos.
  • Make muffins.
  • Make pasta salad.
  • Play with toys.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Try to go to a water park.
  • Go to the Disney store downtown Chicago.
  • Eat at Rainforest Cafe.
  • Eat at Labriola Cafe.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Play games on the iPad.
  • Play Mario game with daddy.
  • Go to the Morton Arboretum.
  • Go to Mimi and Pa’s house.
  • Go to Granny and Pa’s house.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the Museum of Science and Industry.

A running tutu

I recently ran a 5K that was held in a corn maze. There were lots of welcome-to-fall activities for the kiddos and at the end of the 5K I got a complimentary pumpkin and cup of cider. Yay fall! A friend of mine who was gonna run with me and I both decided that we needed to have some fun with this run by making tutus. Now, I’ve never made a tutu before so I basically made it up as we went on.

What I learned this time around:

  • Um, you will need way (!!!!!!!!!!) more fabric than you ever would’ve thought. At this point, I actually have no idea how much tulle I used. 12 yards maybe? I could’ve used less but I wanted the finished tutu to be really full and fluffy.
  • I started making a long tutu but changed my mind after I had reached the halfway point with the tulle. Not only did cutting the pieces into shorter pieces save me a bunch of fabric, I think it will also be better for running since the tutu will stick straight out instead of clinging to my legs.

I used ribbon as the base. This means that I’ll have to tie it to wear it. For me, this is fine. If I were to do it again, I think that I would try to make it with elastic. I feel that it would probably stay in place better.

It ended up being huge. Kinda surprisingly huge. I felt kind of like I had a innertube made of tulle.

Big pile of tulle

Big pile of tulle

Seriously. Seriously big.

Sorry. No more room in the car.....

Sorry. No more room in the car…..

But, it was a lot easier than I thought that it would be. And now, I’m looking forward to more running tutus for myself. 🙂


A quick and simple floral centerpiece

My sister and I recently hosted the wedding shower for our baby sister. We wanted to keep it simple while also keeping it fun for everyone. We looked at some different ideas for floral arrangements but ended up going with a simple idea that would pack a lot of punch. Plus, the arrangements also worked as favors since everyone could take one home.

I found lots of different sizes of vases at Goodwill and then headed to Whole Foods to buy the flowers. I choose three different types of white flowers and one kind of yellow to add a little bit of color.

Finished centerpieces all boxed up and ready to go.

Finished centerpieces all boxed up and ready to go.

You can see that I tried to pick flowers with different sizes, shapes, and textures so that each little vase would be interesting to look at while also being super cute.

I think that they ended up looking beautiful!





Winnie-the-Pooh First Birthday

I can’t believe how quickly this year went by.  Baby girl is one year old! When beginning to plan her party, I decided to go with one of my favorite topics – Winnie-the-Pooh! I wanted to keep it simple while also making it super cute. But….yea….simple and easy to put together were the goals.


This paper became a huge part of the party design. I found a template for pennants here. I cut out the pennant pieces and used a circle paper punch to cut out lots of circles.

Lots and lots of pennants

Lots and lots of pennants

I used the circles to make a little banner for the cake and as confetti on the table.

Cake banner

Cake banner

Finished cake banner. I attached the circles onto the ribbon with tape then used tape to attach the ribbon to sticks that are used for candy making.

Finished cake banner. I attached the circles onto the ribbon with tape then used tape to attach the ribbon to sticks that are used for candy making.

My mother-in-law noticed that the cake design was close to that of big girl’s birthday. I like that a lot of the design was the same but still different for each girl.

I hung pennants everywhere……until I ran out of pink ribbon.

On the fireplace....

On the fireplace….

On bookshelves....

On bookshelves….

After I ran out of pink ribbon, I had to improvise. (Hint – always buy too much ribbon.) I cut the top tab part off of the pennant pieces so that they were now just a triangle and taped them up as though they were a banner.

On the front door....

On the front door….

On the high chair....

On the high chair….

On the closet door....

On the closet door….

I didn’t want to go overboard with Winnie-the-Pooh so I picked accents of pink and yellow. There was also a lot of pink and yellow in the Pooh paper so it worked out well.

Pink and yellow napkins, utensils, and plates all from Target. The little yellow buckets were from the Target dollar section. Man....I love the Target dollar section.

Pink and yellow napkins, utensils, and plates all from Target. The little yellow buckets were from the Target dollar section. Man….I love the Target dollar section.

The sprinkles on the cake were also pink and yellow.

The sprinkles on the cake were also pink and yellow.

For the menu, we decided to have picnic-type foods. Sliders, brats, hot dogs. All sounds good, right? Except big girl won’t eat any of those things so I also made sure that we had the ingredients for PB&J sandwiches. I used a cute beehive cookie cutter to cut the bread. I’m guessing that the cookies would look better than the bread as the bread just looked like a weird triangle….or a letter A….

PB&J. Everyone's favorite.

PB&J. Everyone’s favorite.

After I settled on the Winnie-the-Pooh theme, I asked my mom to be on the lookout for Pooh bear stuff at yard sales or resale shops.  She found a cute vase/carafe that I added to the table decor. Unfortunately, the pic that I had of the vase refuses to be uploaded…..after four tries…..oh well.  Just know that it’s cute.

The food!

The food!

I think that the party turned out really cute. I did not spend nearly as many hours preparing this one as I did when big girl turned one but I wanted to be well-rested (or as well-rested as a mother of a 3 year-old and 1 year-old can be) for the party. Once I found the scrapbook paper I knew that the whole party would come together pretty easily.

Easy. Cute. Birthday party goals were definitely achieved.


A Crown of Flowers

If you went to a Catholic school while you were growing up, you know what a big deal May Crowning is. It’s a huge deal for the 8th graders. This year I learned that it is also a big deal for the person making the crown because this year that job became mine.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to start but I had some ideas.  I purchased all of the flowers that were pink, red or white.  Since I went shopping the day after Mother’s Day, the flower selection was a bit slim.

I then separated the flowers into small mini bouquets.  Basically, I made a table full of boutonnieres.


I had some small strings of pearls that I added to most of the little bouquets. Each little bouquet was wrapped with floral tape.

IMG_1083I then wrapped floral wire around each little bouquet.  Then I added another bouquet to it and wrapped floral wire around that one.  I continued adding bouquets and wrapping with floral wire.  In the end, the finished crown looked great.  I was worried about how sturdy it was, though.  I went back in and added more wire throughout.  I also wrapped the crown with some pink ribbon.  That made it easier to see which side was the front and which was the back as the long ribbon tail was in the back.

Finished crown

Finished crown

I think that next year, I might make a circle wire frame to build the crown on so that the flowers aren’t just supported by other flowers.  Also, I might try to leave the stems longer on the flowers to see if that gives it some more support.

Although I was nervous about the strength of the crown, it is still intact!  Weeks later, the crown is still together.  The flowers have now dried but it still looks beautiful.

How to Use Those Greeting Cards

This is a project that I’ve been meaning to get done…..for almost a year…..

I kept all of the cards that we were given after my baby shower when I was pregnant with big girl, and after she was born and her Baptism. I also kept the cards that we were given after baby girl was born and her Baptism. However, they had just been sitting in a box. I didn’t like that they were just sitting there gathering dust and wanted to find a way to integrate them into the girls’ bedroom. I found a couple different ideas on Pinterest but in the end opted for something simple.

Step 1: Use a decorative hole puncher to cut out shapes. I used a circle punch for big girl and a heart shaped punch for baby girl.

Step 2: Figure out the spacing on wood initials.

Deciding on spacing between each piece.

Deciding on spacing between each piece.

Step 3: Apply a coat of Mod Podge. I used matte but you could use whatever you happen to have on hand.

Step 4: Apply the first layer of hearts (or circles or whatever shape you are using).

Step 5: Apply a second coat of Mod Podge being careful to lightly press down on the edges of the shapes to ensure that they won’t pop up while they dry.

Step 6: If you are going to do a second layer of card shapes, apply now then apply a third coat of Mod Podge.

Two layers of circles done, one layer of hearts done.

Two layers of circles done, one layer of hearts done.

Step 7: Lightly brush over the final layer of Mod Podge to smooth out any drips or puddles and let the pieces dry completely.

Step 8: Enjoy your pieces! I love that the cards that we were given can now be enjoyed as a piece of art in the girls’ room.

Finished L

Finished L

Finished A

Finished A

Owl Collage

One of my summer projects was to complete this collage.  It looked like it would be pretty easy because there is a pattern to print out.  Once I started the project, I was very happy when it turned out to be just as easy and it had appeared to be.

The end result?  Well, Ryan thought that I had purchased it.  So, I guess it turned out pretty nicely.  🙂


Finished piece. Instead of the one owl in the original example, I made mine with two.

That’s one more thing from my summer to-do list that I can cross off.