Branstad Summer Bucket List 2017

With the official start to summer coming next week, I thought we’d sit down as a family and create our very first Branstad Summer Bucket List. I rarely get time to draw these days, so I took some time over the weekend (after the boys were in bed) to work on my hand-lettering and illustration. I mocked up the bucket list below and plan on having it transferred to a poster to hang up at the house so Ev can help check the boxes as we accomplish our list over the summer.


Visit Adel Family Aquatic Center
Catch a fish
Enjoy Camp Branstad
Go to a farmer’s market (like Downtown Farmer’s Market or Dogpatch Urban Gardens)
Attend the Haas Family Reunion
Watch a fireworks show
Visit Jester Park Natural Playscape
Eat fresh produce from our garden
Celebrate Fitz’s 1st birthday
Have a bonfire + eat smores

I’m so excited to check all of these off of our summer to-do list! I’ve even made it easier for you to make one of your own. Download the PDF below and start to plan your family’s summer bucket list today!


I’d love to hear all about your list. Share in the comments what you are adding to yours.

Posted in Family | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Farewell Terrace Hill

TerraceHill_chandelierIt’s weird saying goodbye to a place that was never really yours. A place that is known as ‘the people’s house’ can never really be gone, right?

We said our last goodbye to Terrace Hill, a place I’ve come to grow extremely fond of, this past week as my parents-in-law packed their last boxes up before they start their next adventure in China.

For readers who have been following along over the years, you know that our family spends a lot of time at the old Victorian mansion on Grand Avenue. We had our wedding reception in the back yard, found out the gender of both our boys (Ev/Fitz) in the dining room, enjoyed countless courses during The Big Night extravaganzas – and that just scratches the surface.

We even lived there for a couple of months in between homes. During that time, Everett took his first steps and we truly embraced the old home and all its character.

I’m ‘feeling all the feels’, but I can’t even imagine how my husband must feel about it. You see, Marcus grew up here. He spent the first 16 years of his life within these walls only to leave and, much to everyone’s surprise, return as an adult. The weirdness he must have felt when walking back into his childhood room so many years later…

I took some time to talk to him about it the other day and thought I’d share a few of his memories/thoughts:

“As a mischievous child growing up at Terrace Hill, I had a lot of opportunities to get into trouble. I remember hiding out in the VIP bedroom during tours and when guests would walk by I’d grab their ankles from under the bed.”

“It was a surreal moment going back to the tower room to find the initials I had carved still there after 20 years.”

“I’m so happy that both of my children have gotten to spend so much time with their grandparents in the same house that I was raised in – running in the same hallways, bathing in the same tubs and making life-long memories they won’t soon forget.”

So, yes, we are sad, but the silver lining in all of this is that we can always return to Terrace Hill. They open their doors every year to tourists and architecture enthusiasts alike. I still plan be a part of their annual Halloween event, Scare Us Hill, in the fall and hope to participate (as a patron this time) in a tea or two.

I am aware that it will never be the same, but I can’t wait to tell the boys when they are older all about the time they got to pet the pardoned turkeys, dine on three birds at once during the annual Turducken feast, meet governors from across the United States during the NGA conference in Iowa and every other memory from Grandma and Grandpa B’s old house.

IMG_6286[photo by Brandi Lloyd Photography]

Posted in Family, Local Spots | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Fitz // ten months


Fitz’s faves:
upside down waves
saying mama (FINALLY!)
arm pit tickles
crawling everywhere…fast
eating everything in sight



Posted in Baby, Family | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Download: Memorial Day Weekend 2017

[he’s getting too big]MemorialDayWknd1
[his favorite spot on the boat: perched at the front]MemorialDayWknd6
[slept both of the times he rode on the boat this weekend]MemorialDayWknd7
[only a mother could love this face]MemorialDayWknd10
[beautiful setting]MemorialDayWknd2
[our crop of lettuce is lookin’ good]MemorialDayWknd11
[grilling weather is the BEST]MemorialDayWknd3[brought all of my peonies inside so I could enjoy them!]

Posted in Family | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Nordstrom half-yearly sale // spring 2017

Guys, the sale is live (and running through June 4) and things are flying off the (online) shelves, so I just wanted to share a few of my favorites with you. Happy shopping and have a great Memorial Day weekend!


Hudson Jeans Nico Ankle Super Skinny Jeans

Topshop Stella Faux Leather Bucket Bag

Madewell Bistro Stripe Miniskirt

Baublebar ‘Seaglass’ Bib Necklace

Caslon Gilda Sandal

Kut From The Kloth Amelia Denim Jacket

Caslon Carden 2 Sandal

Bcbgmaxazria Alexis Off The Shoulder Dress

Chelsea28 Lace Midi Dress

Cece Hydrangea Print A-Line Maxi Dress

Olney Faux Leather Crossbody

Posted in Fashion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Friday faves

TB_Transition_small[it’s done: my father-in-law transitioning earlier this week]

I’m thinking that Everett would love this German tradition that takes toddlers away from their parents to embark on a three-day overnight stay at a local farm.

Everett received his first HOOT for Kids treasure box last week and it was chock full of age-appropriate games and toys that was customized just for him based on his age and developmental stage. Pretty neat for a kid who is obsessed with getting mail! Interested in trying it out? Use code 5OFFBOX3 to get $5 off your first treasure box.

My mom recently picked up a few of these books for the kids and I just had to share them with you. Such a cool, ‘why didn’t I think of that’ concept!

Posted in Lifestyle | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s in my pool bag

With the official start of summer right around the corner I can’t even freakin’ wait to go to the pool. Since moving out to Adel, I’ve been dying to make the trek to the aquatic center so that is definitely on the 2017 Branstad Summer Bucket List (more on that soon!).


So whether you are headed to the pool, a water park or the nearest splash pad, I thought I’d let you take a peek inside my pool bag.


hat // sunglasses // swimsuit // coverup
sandals // face sunscreen // towel // lip balm // tote

Still in the market for a new swimsuit? Look no further! How about your kiddos? Yep, I got those covered too!

Posted in Accessories, Lifestyle | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment