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Our Pilot Airs Tonight on National Network!

Our Pilot Airs Tonight on National Network!

Let’s just take a little walk down memory lane. This process to land a pilot has NOT been a quick one!

Good things take time, isn’t that what they say? I want to give you all a visual of what this timeline has looked like (excuse me while I go pour another cup of coffee) :


  • Pie Town Productions spotted Kay Boyer (The Shop Kalona) and I at Vintage & Made Fair. They approached us and asked if we would want to guest star on West End Salvage. Umm, Y E S please! Sounded like a riot to road trip to Des Moines with my girl Kay (kidless!)!!  I remember e-mailing the producer, “so do WE do our own make-up or is there someone there to glam us up??” Guys, they do NOT have a glam trailer parked out back for the guest stars (dying laughing!!).


  • APRIL: West End Salvage show aired that we guest starred on.
  • MID YEAR: Pie Town Productions apparently REALLY liked us! We got approached with an even bigger opportunity: have a camera crew fly out from LA and film a sizzle (5 minute video of us in action to present to HGTV Network). Again, we said YES! This also included the other two owners of The Shop Kalona, Kate & Karen. Prepping for something like this was comparable to preparing for the arrival of a first born child… You have NO idea what to expect, but want everything to go  P E R F E C T. Talk about nerve wracking!! We all four executed SO well though and brought our A game to the table. We gave it our all (and then some) and were optimistic for whatever the future held! Fast forward a few months and our production company called. We had all been anxiously awaiting this phone call for WEEKS! News just in: the network LOVED us, BUT without the male dynamic in the picture they were afraid to pursue. FUN FACT: HGTV is actually viewed more by men than women! Did you suspect that?! We didn’t!
  • OCTOBER: Anticipating the arrival of child no. 3, the 3 hour round trip commute starting to ware on me, and just feeling stretched too thin, I made the decision to step out of 1/4 owner of The Shop Kalona. Those women were AMAZING to work with and could not think of anyone else to do a partnership but with them! Partnerships typically ARE NOT for me (learned this COUNTLESS times), but with the unique dynamic of those incredible girls, I genuinely enjoyed and felt extremely humbled by the opportunity to be a part of The Shop for a short time!


  • MARCH: Pie Town Productions e-mailed me. “What’s new?!” they asked. “Well, we are expecting baby no. 3 next month, bought a fixer upper farmhouse back home and are moving back right after baby arrives (2 hour move) to a rental house while we continue working on this fixer upper, and Spencer is going to be transferring to a new territory where he sells John Deere equipment so that could be a rough transition for a few months. OH, and I still have my storefront up here in Cedar Falls. I am going to try and have 3 kids, move, and still keep the shop!” (laughing at myself. OMG!) Their response went something like this: “Wow very cool! Well we will follow up sometime after baby arrives. Congrats!”
  • JULY: Still no word yet from production company. I felt like life had calmed down a bit (closed Cedar Falls shop, had baby, made the move, house was coming along, and Spencer was doing well with the new territory) so I sent an e-mail just checking in! Let’s be for real, the anticipation was killing me inside and it took me everything I had not to reach out sooner to “check in!” The e-mail back clarified everything. Spencer and I were being sought out by HGTV Network and they wanted to film our family picking the Midwest, repurposing, and selling at markets and to clients. Again, YES! We don’t turn down opportunities that arise. We both have a bit of entrepreneur blood in us where we are always looking for the next “project.” Well, this is a
  • project alright. After a couple Skype interviews with production we got word that we would film a sizzle (here we are again!) for the network in January 2017.


  • JANUARY: Filmed sizzle (freezing by the way!)
  • SPRING: Got word that they wanted to film a PILOT!
  • SUMMER: The film crew came out 2 different times for consecutive days to get all of the footage for the pilot! From the outside, it might look like the dream gig, but I rest assure you, filming is some of the most exhausting/hardest work I have done. The prep work we did for filming alone was very intense. I am a YES kind of girl. When they ask if we can turn our hay loft into our workshop, I say yes. MAN, I didn’t realize exactly what I signed us (Spencer mainly, what a saint) up for! WOW. Cleaning out entire barn of hay out with a shovel… that was intense. No complaints for this opportunity though!

So, four years later and here we are!!

As we gear up for the airing of the episode tonight, I am extremely humbled with this community’s support and the love it shows! If we DO in fact land a season for “Small Town, Big Pick”, I will be most excited about the opportunity to capture the beauty of the Midwest (Eastern Iowa specifically) on camera to national television, work side by side my husband (and kids), and bring excitement back into small towns and rural areas. Cheers to small town revival, bringing back second life to lost treasures, and YOUR loving support!



3 Ways To Justify a “Staycation” At Hotel Blackhawk

3 Ways To Justify a “Staycation” At Hotel Blackhawk

  1. Less travel = More downtime to enjoy. When time is precious and time together is too far and few between, choosing a destination close to home is smart; less time spent on the road and more uninterrupted time together! Because at the end of the day, it isn’t about the elaborate destination but simply the company of each other somewhere that you feel at home.
  2. Everything you could ever want is at this hotel. Hotel Blackhawk is situated in the heart of Downtown Davenport. Within walking distance are some fantastic eateries and a whole slew of bars. The best part about this specific autograph collection hotel though is that there is no need to leave. With a bowling alley and martini bar in the basement, a spa, coffee shop, and a delicious on-site restaurant all situated on the main level, you will fall in love with the character, amenities, and service this hotel has. The employees all do a great job catering to your needs and making you feel special during your stay!
  3. Support your local community. There is nothing that makes me happier than a thriving downtown/community. Watching people pour their energy into a vision and physically seeing the good that comes out of their hard work is so motivating. I think Downtown Davenport specifically has a lot to be proud of. With this incredible hotel, plus the brand new sister hotel, The Current Hotel, as well as a few top notch bars & restaurants that are finding great success in their brand, this downtown is gaining a fresh new life! That’s encouraging and should motivate us all to “staycation” close to home in order to keep this area growing and thriving!

. . . . . .

Hotel Blackhawk Direct: (563)322-5000

Hotel Blackhawk Location: 200 East 3rd Street, Davenport IA

Give the experience rather than the gift this Christmas!

This Holiday season is the perfect chance to sneak away for a night and unwind for an evening at Hotel Blackhawk. Enjoy a refreshing drink at the Bix Bistro, stay for a delicious dinner, then wander downstairs for after dinner dessert martinis and a game of bowling! Schedule a relaxing facial or massage at the spa. Leave Hotel Blackhawk feeling refreshed and revived.

Let me know if you end up taking my advice! I would love to hear all about it!






The New [CLIMB] Design

The New [CLIMB] Design

Inspired from a retreat I am planning for Next August called Camp Climb, this new CLIMB design (created by Wander Design Co. || printed by Well & Far Designs || photographed by Sweet Little You Photography) is one of our newest items featured in the online store.

These are available online in a navy sleeper, red onesie, and forest green onesie!

The word C L I M B came about as I was brainstorming acronyms/words for the retreat. I needed something with lots of meaning. I wanted a word that could cover MANY platforms. The acronym created for C L I M B is Creatives: Learning – Inspiring – Motivating – Building. This is what Camp will be all about.

Climb also defines “climbing the ladder.” We all can be better. We want campers signing up for camp who crave growth and are seeking something more!

And lastly, C L I M B representing our youngest generation. They are our future. Let’s raise a confident kid. Encourage them to keep “climbing.” When they fall, encourage them to keep falling forward; to get back up and try again. The best way to learn is from our own mistakes. The younger we start learning, the more prepared we will be for a bright future ahead!

Link to shop CLIMB apparel: www.midwestpicks.com.

                                                        Keep Climbing!

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Curated QC Bloggers

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Curated QC Bloggers

The Quad Cities is turning a new leaf! I’m proud to call this area my home turf.

We are so fortunate as locals to have delicious eateries and local shops to explore. It’s just a matter of getting the word out and showcasing everything that there is to offer!

Three QC boss babe entrepreneurs saw the need.

One owns a downtown restaurant. Two own boutiques.

Meet these amazing women (pictured above left to right); Amy, owner of Downtown Geneseo’s storefront Katsch | Fran, owner of Me & Billy, Downtown Davenport Bar & Kitchen | Steph, owner of the boutique Field & Finch located in Village of East Davenport!

Within the year, they have created Curated QC, a blog showcasing things to do, places to go, and people to meet in the area!

Good food, good conversation. Lagomarcino’s in the Village East Davenport is a QC Classic.

. . . . . .

I wanted to pick their brains and get the insight on their journey with Curated QC:

Time is precious. You obviously see a need for this blog in the QC or you wouldn’t invest the time. What is your ultimate goal for Curated QC?

Fran: I keep hearing people say that this is something that the QC needed (even if they didn’t realize it before). The response has been incredible! I just hope that we can continue to be a resource for Quad Citizens, highlighting all of the amazing people, places, and things that the area has to offer, and collaborate with local businesses in the process.

Amy, a new mom and super driven, savvy, and sweet business owner.

Amy: Great question! It started as a passion project and we saw a need for a resource like this.
Eventually we would like to take it to the next level but all in good time. We all have full plates as it is!

Steph: Well, I think when the girls and I originally sat down and started mapping this out, we just thought this thing was something we wish existed in the Quad Cities, and we figured we’d have about a good a chance as anyone as doing a good job with it. I think we ultimately want it to be a resource where longtime residents and visitors alike can learn about something new in the area. The QCA is just teeming with talent and things to do and inspiration and we want to be able to showcase it through our work with the blog. We’re very fortunate to live in a community that loves and supports its small businesses, so we just want to play off of that strength and take it a step further. We have some really exciting growth planned for the end of this year and for 2018, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out more info! 🙂

As passionate entrepreneurs, what are your words of advice to others to inspire them to chase their dreams?

Fran is as bubbly as she portrays! Her drive is contagious and is passionate about her work.

Fran: I’m a bit of a realist when it comes to this. If you make the decision to start your own business, you have to be all in! Be prepared for the highs and lows, unrelenting workload, and long days.

Amy: Create a network of support. Owning your own business can be lonely. Often times feeling like you are the only one going through a particular situation. Creating a strong network is beneficial for many reason but mostly keeps you sane! Just remember to stay true to your vision and brand. Just because something works for one business doesn’t mean it will work for yours. Don’t compare yourself to others. I believe success can be shared. Seeing my friends and colleagues do well is just as rewarding as reaching my goals and milestones.

Steph: I think the most important thing for a new entrepreneur to remember is that it’s important to have a plan, but don’t get married to it. It’s great to try to flesh out what you expect your day-to-day to look like, but odds are good that you won’t really have any idea until you’re in the thick of it. And even then, you’ve got to be prepared to roll with the punches. On the flipside, try to keep sight of what’s important to you and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Entrepreneurship is a weird way to live and you have to be ready to commit to a lifestyle, but it’s one of the most rewarding career paths out there. Really though, at the end of the day you just have to go for it. There’s never going to be a perfect time to do anything, so if you’ve done your homework and you feel as ready as you’ll ever be, take the plunge.


Breakfast spot: 

                           FRAN-Cushman’s Food & Engine (aka The Crepe Guy) 

                           AMY- The Local Motive in Geneseo  

                          STEPH- I’m partial to my dad’s place (The Family Restaurant), but I also LOVE brunch at Cafe Indigo

Lunch spot: 

                       FRAN-Cafe Express Deli

                       AMY- Cafe Fresh

                       STEPH- Cafe Fresh in downtown Moline

Dinner spot: 

                      FRAN-Why Me & Billy, of course!

                      AMY- Red Ginger and Me&Billy

                     STEPH- How do I choose?! I obviously love Me & Billy (hey, Fran!), Lemongrass Cafe, Mantra Indian Restaurant… there are so many great options in the QCA!

Dessert spot: 

                      FRAN-Oh So Sweet by Tiphanie

                      AMY- Oh So Sweet by Tiphanie

                     STEPH- It’s gotta be Oh So Sweet. I’m a big fan of Tiph’s hand pies and with the recent addition of Cafe 392 to the storefront I can get sugar and caffeine right in the same place (dreams come true).


And one inside scoop question: How the hell do you juggle it all?

Fran: In short: hard work, time management, and a supportive husband. Work hard, play hard!

Amy: Now that I have a little one at home it has become more challenging. I try to stay very organized and productive. Make a decision and move on. I also try my best to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed and prioritizing helps. Some times I just accept a particular task won’t get done and I’m okay with that. (Sometimes that task is laundry LOL).

Steph is a tremendous entrepreneur. A must meet gal. Sweet, nice, and full of life!

Steph: Haha! I feel like I don’t! In all seriousness though, I couldn’t do anything without an incredible support system. I feel so lucky to be working on this project with Amy and Fran, who are far and away the best teammates I could ask for. And my mom, who is my business partner is just a complete rockstar. My friends keep me sane and help me maintain balance. It’s easy to get swept up in your work when it’s something you’re passionate about, but you have to be careful not to burn out just like with anything else. I feel like as entrepreneurs we hear and see a lot of things about building a “tribe” and although that might feel a little played out or trite, it’s absolutely true. You have to surround yourself with people who understand what you’re doing and why it’s important to you, and who will be supportive of your goals. But stay organized, have a plan, and just do the thing!

. . . . . .

With three bloggers behind this business, check in on a regular basis (www.curatedqc.com) to read up on things to do, places to go, and people to see in the QC. They are doing a fantastic job at whipping out new content regularly. There’s so much helpful content they dish out about QC happenings!

I am clearly excited for this venture they are on and will cheer them on the whole way! The Quad Cities needs this platform to showcase everything there is to offer, because there’s a lot out there. You just have to seek it.

All photo credit to Iron & Lace Photography, QC based photographer.

                                                                                                                                                                                              HAPPY FALL!

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Flutter Boutique

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Flutter Boutique

gray sweater + olive skinnies: JUST IN at Flutter!

Feeling exceptionally blessed lately!

I was born and raised in the rural Quad City area. Moving away from here for 5 years and then coming back was a little intimidating for me. I left town at 19 with a baby on my hip and following Spencer’s football successes to college. I came back a brand new adult. I feared there weren’t new people to meet. I was worried of a past reputation that no longer reflected me…. Basically just a bunch of self confidence issues!

I had such a beautiful sense of belonging in Cedar Falls with such amazing creatives and entrepreneurs. I had never felt “myself” as much as I did there.

Currently on year number two back in the rural QC and I have nothing but tremendous things to say about the new relationships I have built along with reconnections of old friends and acquaintances! If you would have asked me six months ago how I was adjusting to country living and being back home, I would have went on and on about “how phenomenal the people are in Cedar Falls and how tremendous our neighbors were to us… and man I miss them! But this peaceful setting is nice and being close to family is amazing.

In the past 6 months, I have built some of the most outstanding relationships with new friends and colleagues and I just keep connecting with more and more new faces WEEKLY in this area!

Jeanette (left) & Jessica (right)

I met many likeminded new friends recently through my very first Rising Tide Society meeting a couple of weeks ago, I went to a swanky bloggers’ launch party at Me & Billy a short while back and that was a great networking opportunity, but my most recent connection was with two fabulous female entrepreneurs in downtown Le Claire, IA. I would like to introduce you to the beautiful, bold, and courageous duo: Jeanette & Jessica from Flutter Boutique!

Jeanette and Jessica have a storefront clothing & accessory boutique in Downtown Le Claire, IA that is catered to women of all ages! Their eye for style is on point and they do a tremendous job at curating seasonal fashion in their store. Whether a business professional or stay at home mom, you will fall in love with their selection.

Not only are these two amazing girl bosses, but both are mamas and wives. I interviewed them both to dig a little deeper and get the scoop on how they are able to do everything they do!


Jeanette– Wow how do we juggle it all! Somedays it feels like it takes an army! Jessica and I make a great team, we are able to help balance the workload each week for the boutique. We have an amazing team of ladies that work for us at Flutter, which is a huge help. Personally, I am blessed to have any amazing mom that helps me every day! I travel most days for Pigott, so she is my rock at home to help with my girls.

Jessica- Honestly, juggling two businesses and a family can be very challenging at times. It is extremely important to me to have a lot of family time and that is not something I’m willing to put on the back burner. My husband’s supportiveness and understanding throughout this journey has helped take some weight off my shoulders. I feel pretty lucky that I have somewhat of a flexible schedule at my hair salon that allows me some morning/daytime hours to devote to Flutter. There have also been some nights Jeannette and I get together after the kids go to bed and have a “meeting of the minds”….with a bottle (or two) of wine! Last, but not least, we wouldn’t be able to operate without our top notch staff that takes care of our customers on a daily basis which makes our job easier.


Jeanette- As long as I can remember, I have had a love and passion for fashion! My mom was one of my many inspirations. When I was a little girl she made sure my sister and I always were dressed and ready for the day! Even if that meant waking us up at 4:00 am before she went off to work. That turned into begging to go to the mall every weekend for something new! Some of my best memories are with my mom and sister on our shopping trips to Chicago and New York. I never realized until now, the influence those trips had on me. Not to mention the priceless time with my mom and sister. They are truly my best friends!

I went to school for fashion merchandising and started my fashion career with companies such as The Gap, Old Navy and The Limited in the Chicago area. I couldn’t have asked for better companies to help me learn the retail way of life! Then I met my amazing husband, Jon. He too had a dream to start his own company and we also wanted to start a family. We moved back home to the Quad Cities so that we could be by our families, and I left the retail career behind. I found an amazing sales opportunity at Pigott, a commercial interiors company. 17 years later, I am on our leadership team and have a job I love to go to everyday! Jon and I are blessed to have 2 beautiful and amazing daughters, Jillian and Josie. They have forever changed our lives. I now find myself teaching them all that my mom taught me. Of course one of those is the love of fashion! I was definitely meant to have girls! We too have created amazing memories with those same girls shopping trips! More than anything I want to show them the importance of finding a good work/life balance and always following their dreams!

Fashion and retail have always still been on mind! My friend Jessica and I started discussing the idea of opening a boutique for years. This has been a dream of both of ours since we were little girls! With Jessica’s business background and my retail we decided we would make the perfect team! We were excited to bring a unique shopping experience back to Moline when we opened in May 2015! Thanks to the love and support of our families, our dream came true!

Jessica– I got where I am today with the help of the best support system anyone could ask for! From starting my own hair salon to opening Flutter my family and friends were right by our sides. I have always been very passionate about beauty and fashion, so as a young 20-something I realized doing hair was a perfect fit.I have been a hairstylist now for 16 years and it still doesn’t feel like work! Jeannette and I decided to start by selling a few accessories out of my salon, it sparked a lot of interest from the people we knew. From there we decided to take the leap and Flutter was born.


Jeanette- Always follow your dreams! If you have the passion and drive, anything is possible. I have to constantly remind myself that nothing is easy, most days are long and it take a lot of determination. I believe you need a support system in place and anything seems possible. My family and friends are that for me. Remember that its ok to make mistakes, and that there will always be bumps in the road. Just enjoy life, stay close to your faith and count your blessings!

Jessica- My advice to inspire others to chase their dreams is to live with no regrets. In my situation, I knew I never wanted to look back and wonder “what if” and wish I would have taken a chance. The fear of not knowing, for me, was bigger than the fear of not giving it my best shot.


Jeanette- I would love to see Flutter still flourishing in LeClaire. We have fallen in the love with this town and the community. I would also like to see a retail website, we know how much everyone likes the ease of shopping online!

Jessica– In five years I would love to see Flutter as a successful boutique that women in the Quad Cities and beyond still love coming to to find unique clothing and accessories. My hope to grow our customer base is to make us more accessible through other outlets, such as an online site.

. . . . . .

To my readers, I hope you find inspiration in these two wonderful women.

White T + Comfy Skinnies now available at Flutter!

Entrepreneurs, the talent that lies within this area is such a gift! I hope I can keep building connections and showcasing such talented individuals right here in Midwest’s Heartland!

. . . . . .

Plan a trip to Le Claire with some friends and stop in Flutter Boutique (located across the street from 129)! Let them know I sent you! I personally recommend a new Fall outfit from here for your next date night. There’s nothing that makes a girl feel better than a fresh new outfit…. First world problems, I know! BUT, it’s true!

Denim top + Black skinnies can be purchased at Flutter Boutique: Just in!



                                                                                        MUCH LOVE,





Photography taken by Sweet Little You Photography.



Just Checking In!

Just Checking In!

How was your summer?! It flew by for us!

Fall will have to be all about “hosting” because it never happened this Summer! We got a lot done, but a couple big bucket list items never did get checked off: 1) Host parties…. heck, we didn’t even host A party!  2) Escape to an isolated cabin.







We did enjoy our first Summer on the farm and in our newly renovated farmhouse. We “broke ground” for the kid’s treehouse… Who am I fooling; it’s going to be cool enough for me and my friends too! We made our bunnies a nice home in the old hog shed. We were able to make some headway on preserving our barn and making it a useful spot (for now) as a workshop and dry storage for all of my “picks.”





Our dream for our barn is to jack it up, put a new foundation under it, and have the downstairs be our offices/workspace and upstairs being for entertaining. This would then free up a bedroom in our home so everyone can have their own bedrooms! Someday 🙂




When we took on this house renovation, I put no consideration into keeping up the rest of the farm, 5 acres, and 4 old outbuildings that came with it! I just pictured in my head that all falling into place “magically” on it’s own! Not the case…. obviously. Now that the house renovation is complete (EXCEPT our master shower that gets tiled THIS WEEK!), landscaping, yard shaping, and more outbuilding maintenance is on the to-do list…. But we have lost steam. All of that ambition to renovate and tidy has taken a back seat. Even picking lately has exhausted me! I think it’s just giant red flags waving to Let. It. Be. That ambition will come back… But let it be for now.


pictured right: staging floating shelves installed by Cabinets Exact, LeClaire IA. Farmhouse sign from mabel.: An occasional shop in Geneseo, IL.

I went to yoga for the first time last week. The instructor told us to come up with a word or phrase to focus on throughout the class to recenter our thoughts. I used “let it be” and every time I came back to this phrase, everything relaxed. This was a huge wake up call to myself that I need to RELAX, don’t sweat the small stuff (because it’s all small stuff), and focus on what matters.


. . . . . .

Here’s a great task/excercise for you to try if you struggle with time management like myself! It helps put things into perspective…

  • Create a pie chart. In this pie chart, draw out how much time you spend on any given thing during the day (family time, work, phone, with friends, doing things for yourself, cooking, exercising, cleaning etc….).
  • Create another pie chart. In this pie chart, draw out and chart what you would LIKE your day to look like.

Now, on the 2nd chart you drew pick ONE thing that was not on your first chart. Make it a priority now to fit this into your daily life.

I think (especially in parenthood) losing our identity can be so easy. This is our one life. Our one and only life. Don’t miss it… I wouldn’t have realized anything that I wrote above (about letting it be and focusing on what matters) if I didn’t take time for myself. I definitely could do better about doing more for myself. I need to use instances like these proving that IT IS beneficial to take the time.

. . . . . .

With school back in session, it feels like the start of a new year. I love new beginnings and fresh starts. May you find time for yourself in whatever season of life you are endeavoring. Find joy in the simple things and embrace beauty that lies right in front of you.


Much Love From The Founder,




all photos taken by Mari Trancosco


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