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UPDATES | Main & Second
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!

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


Family Getaway: Colorado

Family Getaway: Colorado

This family trip (I don’t call it a vacation unless it’s going to be relaxing) to Colorado has been on our bucket list for 6 years now. Three babes later and we are finally able to RENT A CAR! We have family scattered all throughout the state, so renting a car to go see some of them and doing exploring along the way has been something we’ve been anxious to do.

When $78 round trip tickets (through Frontier Airlines) came through my email and were available for purchase over our daughter’s Spring Break, I snagged them right away.

Our different destinations in order over 7 days:

Chicago > Denver > Eastern Colorado (Cheyenne Wells) > Colorado Springs > Cripple Creek > Manitou Springs > Denver > Chicago

Highlight at each destination:

Chicago: Giordano’s Pizza (we had it before we flew out AND when we flew back in!).

Denver: Swimming at the Aloft Hotel… Ample entertainment for our kids!

Eastern Colorado: Farm chores & helping grandma make breakfast, lunch, and dinner (EVERYTHING is from scratch!).

[a barn we explored on my grandparent’s ranch]

Colorado Springs: Exploring Garden of the Gods and a backyard BBQ with family!

Cripple Creek: Heritage Center… It’s 3 stories of FREE entertainment. All of our kids were entertained there for a good hour or two!

[Baby Hugo playing “nice” at the Heritage Center]

Manitou Springs: Their downtown is filled with so many cute shops and restaurants. There’s also a great playground there for kids to burn off energy on! Josh & John’s Ice Cream was seriously SO delicious….. The line we waited in was well worth it. They even had “100% fruit tubes” so baby Hugo could enjoy a treat too!

. . . . . .

Our 7 day getaway budget breakdown:

Roundtrip Airfare for 4 (Chicago O’Hare –> Denver) ………………………………………………………. $312

One checked bag (a large suitcase that Spencer & I shared)……………………………………………. $50

Parking @ O’Hare (luckily my cousin lives in CHI and housed our car)……………………………….. FREE

Tolls/Other Parking (Navy Pier + short term hotel parking at Westin)………………………………….. $70

Hotels through Priceline.com (1 night in CHI + 1 night in DEN both with free shuttle to airport).. $200

5 Day Car Rental Through Hertz.com (full-size 7 passenger suv)………………………………………… $550


Food/Drink (we were thankfully cooked for by family majority of the trip)…………………………………$250

Spending Cash (ice cream shops + souvenirs)…………………………………………………………………….$100

Grand Total……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..$1,607

Adding $300 to your food/drink total would be a smart move if you are using this budget as a guide to your next trip. Also, factoring in long term airport parking might be necessary for you as well as a larger hotel budget.

We got a discount for our car rental because of the home/auto insurance we use. This could very well be the case for you. I would call and check the next time you rent! Also, we got 4-star hotels through priceline.com by going with the “express deal.” You don’t know what hotel you will be staying at, but you are able to select the number of stars it has AND a pinpointed area of the city (for example, we selected “hotels near airport”). We were very pleased with both hotels we stayed at (Westin & Aloft).


  • Peyton’s (6 years old) favorite part of the trip was seeing family and Garden of the Gods.
  • Kahler’s (3 years old) favorite part of the trip was swimming at the hotels… Go figure!
  • I will answer for Hugo (11 months old). He loved my aunt’s fenced in backyard and the 75 degree weather! He explored that backyard for 2 hours straight without making one fuss. That says a lot for our little mama’s boy!!
  • My favorite part of the trip was getting away from our everyday hustle and bustle.
  • Spencer’s (my husband) favorite part of the trip was the gorgeous 75 degree Colorado temperature. No humidity there sure makes a difference! When he can wear Hugo on his back in 75 degrees and not sweat says a lot (he is probably rolling his eyes right now reading this comment)!!

. . . . . .

Something I realized on this trip was that the destination of a trip makes no difference. Setting aside the time to be together and getting away from the daily grind is what’s important. Your destination does not need to be elaborate nor does it need to be hours away and rob your bank account. The generation we live in is so fast paced. If you don’t take the time to do the things that make you happy, then who will?


Happiness is a choice. If you lack it, create it. Don’t dwell on “what if’s”, don’t compare yourself to others, but most of all don’t blind yourself to the good in your life… Good as in the people, your surroundings, and resources available to you.

Much Love From The Founder,

Emma Hicks



Farmhouse Renovation: Right On Budget

Farmhouse Renovation: Right On Budget

Projected budget: $175,000

Home’s total square footage gutted + renovated: 1900 sq. feet + a 3 stall garage

This included everything from a new septic system, to a 10×20′ back deck using the best composite there is, to new siding, and a new roof on the home and existing 3 stall garage….. And the list goes on and on! Basically a new construction home with some 1900 bones and a 30 year old poured foundation.

Grand Total Spent: $177,500

My best advice to staying on budget is to factor in every last penny your project could potentially cost… Right down to the dumpster and porter potty.  Expect the worst case scenario so there are no surprises along the way. And maybe add in a $2k “surprise attacks budget”… for example, when your husband breaks out the glass in a brand new window! 😉 If the budget is looking tight, I would try and see what you can live without for awhile rather than go cheap on things. Quality is important to us anyway.

. . . . . .

Biggest splurge: Hardwood flooring. I originally had it budgeted to spend no more than $5.00/sq foot and ended up spending $7.75/sq foot for ours. Considering the amount of space we covered with hardwoods, it did add up fast. I forfeited having hardwood stairs & a runner for a carpeted stairway.

Money well spent: Spray foam insulation. Not only are we saving on our energy bill, but it has made the house more structural sound as well.

Best Deal: My brand new $500 freestanding Fleurco bath tub (originally $2600). I must add too, it was a fun road trip into Illinois to pick it up with my husband 🙂 CRAIGSLIST FIND!

Biggest Obstacle: Finding a solution to providing more structure to the home where we took out part of the second story. Before we added the wooden 2×6 boards, the walls were literally swaying back and forth with the push of 2 hands. With our carpenter’s expertise, he recommended adding these boards evenly space through the entire family room. We have had no issues since. This was the most cost effective solution.

I am thrilled with the final outcome! It took countless hours of dedication and lots of self motivation. To have finished this project though feels AMAZING! It was worth the stress, headaches, and sleepless nights and we’re ready to enjoy it now… for years to come!!

. . . . . .

A huge thanks to the following contractors who made this #35thavefarmhouse project possible:

  • Superior Plumbing- Eldridge, IA
  • Hoffmann Electric- Dixon, IA
  • Steines Construction- Calamus, IA (framing, structure, deck, porch, addition)
  • Joey Licht Roofing- Donahue, IA
  • Spanhut Construction- Mediapolis, IA (finish work)
  • Precision Air- Eldridge, IA
  • Cabinets Exact- LeClaire, IA
  • Oetzmann Builders- Long Grove, IA (siding)
  • Barron Overhead Doors- Davenport, IA
  • Van Pelt Drywall- Donahue, IA
  • Tony Fields Flooring- Walcott, IA
  • Total Septic Service- Calamus, IA

We would recommend all of these contractors time and time again to anyone in the area!

. . . . . .

The main living area’s current state. Real life right here, friends! This is what a photo shoot in my dining area looks like.

On the search for 10 chairs for our 10′ harvest table. Holler if you see any that would be a good fit. I have my eye on some at Target currently, but 10 chairs adds up!!

. . . . . .

We are all very anxious for Spring! I am ready to focus now on the outside; get our garden planted, landscape some existing flower beds, do some upkeep on the outbuildings, and enjoy the outdoors with our little ones.

Planning to get blogs made room by room of in depth design + decorating choices. What transformation would you like to see first? Master suite? Office? Kitchen/pantry? Entryway? Kids’ rooms? You give me input, and I will knock it to the top of my to-do list!

Have a good weekend!

From The Founder,

Emma Hicks


Family Getaway On A Budget: Clearwater Beach, FL

Family Getaway On A Budget: Clearwater Beach, FL

Clearwater Beach Lodging…….  $200/night @ 3 nights + $100 cleaning fee =  $700

This price reflects vacationing during “off-peak” season. This price will fluctuate throughout the year for this condo.

We stayed at a beachfront condo that I found on VRBO. With 3 little ones, we prefer staying in a condo or apartment style setup verse a hotel room. This gives us the option to eat in and a place for the kids to have nap times without having to tip toe around.

My favorite condo features:

  • Master suite setup with balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The cleanliness
  • The bedroom setup where our 2 girls stayed. It made them feel like we got this condo just for them with the feminine touches!
  • How well furnished it was. Stacks of beach towels, a fully stocked kitchen, and even a big bottle of conditioner!

Flights for 4 seats………….  $422 (includes all fees, 1 checked bag, and PARKING)

We flew Frontier Airlines out of Chicago O’Hare (ORD) directly to Tampa, FL (TPA).

We parked at the Hyatt Place Chicago/O’Hare Airport. Parking here was $18/day vs. $36/day (cost at O’Hare airport). A shuttle runs every 30 minutes. Because we flew out at 8:00 AM from Chicago, we stayed here the night before ($120 with taxes and fees for 1 king bed + sofa). They offer a well stocked FREE hot continental breakfast that starts at 6 AM.  The pool was well sized, clean, and water was warm. The shuttle service was easy to use getting to and from the airport. It was less than a 10 minute ride from hotel to our terminal.

Tolls to & from Chicago……………………… $25

Transportation………………..  $80

Includes an Uber to and from TPA airport ($70) and a 1 day all-day family pass for the Jolly Trolley ($10).

Food for 4 days for family of 4……………….  $500

For us, this included eating out 3 meals a day and drinks. We ate out breakfast, lunch, & dinner. The food down there is amazing. This food total could be reduced drastically if you were to take advantage of the condo’s kitchen. We just didn’t hold back… Basically we beached it and ate for 4 days straight!

  • Favorite breakfast spot: Beach Shanty Cafe. Located just north of Pier 60 on Mandalay Ave. Their waffle with homemade coconut syrup has my mouth still watering. They are also home of the $3.99 breakfast (1 egg, pan fried home fries, and toast).
  • Favorite lunch spot: You cannot go wrong with any of the Frenchie’s. Trust me, if you go to Clearwater, you WILL stumble across a Frenchie’s restaurant! My favorite lunch though was at Salt Cracker Fish Camp. I had their grouper fish tacos… so good! They also had $2 bud light drafts all day. We indulged and all shared a piece of key lime pie which was fantastic! Our average lunch bill (with tip) was $40.
  • Favorite supper spot: Island Way Grill…. Both me and my husband’s favorite meal of the trip. I had the Strip Steak topped with shrimp and a pesto sauce and Spencer had the swordfish. Both were phenomenal. It is a little pricier ($25-40/meal)… A little fancier. We all got in our sun dresses (girls) and button downs (guys) and rode the “jolly trolley” to dinner. The girls LOVE any public transportation!

Attractions………………………………………..  $70


We went to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. If you take a family vacation, make sure you all watch “Dolphin Tale” the movie before you come. Then go to this aquarium. It is very informational and the girls loved seeing Winter the dolphin. Also, there is a $2 off admission coupon in flyers/brochures that we found near Pier 60.

$20 of the $70 we spent on this giant inflatable slide right there on the beach at pier 60. I even went down once. It definitely gives your belly butterflies! Cost breakdown: $20 for 10 rides.

We didn’t do any water excursions, but there are plenty to choose from: a pirate boat ride, dinner cruises, jet ski rentals, parasailing, deep sea fishing, and the list goes on…

Beach Cabana + 2 Chairs Rental…………………….. $30

Rental is good for the day. We got roped into renting one after our 9 month old son fell asleep and we set him in one not knowing you had to rent them. I don’t regret it though! We ended up spending 9 hours there on the beach. The kids all napped in there and lounged throughout the day. I would rent it again!

Grand Total For 4 Days For A Family of 4 + 1 Infant…………….  $1827


. . . . . .

If you plan to vacation to Clearwater, FL soon I hope you find this helpful! I always appreciate knowing the “good spots” before I head out on a trip. If you have been before and have some other personal favorites, please comment below for others to know about!!

One last thing I should mention. The sunsets here are stunning! At Pier 60, every night they have indie/craft vendors up and down the pier 2 hours before and 2 hours after sunset. They also have a wonderful playground for the kids. We did this one night before dinner. Watching the sunset from our balcony at the condo though was by far my favorite! We would get cleaned up for dinner and sit out on the balcony enjoying the sunset and a cocktail…. take me back already!!


New Year | New ________

What is your new year resolution?


Make it attainable.


Narrow it down to one thing.


Write it on paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror.


My resolution: Better manage my time in order to better succeed in different avenues of my life. AKA: T I M E | M A N A G E M E N T


2017 is your year. Tell yourself what you want to make of it. Keep telling yourself again and again and again. Before you know it you will have made it happen. If you dream it and think about it often, you will naturally start acting on it and achieve it.




My best advice for this new year: surround yourself with those who better you.

Oh and always remember:

Being a positive impact leads to confidence. Confidence builds courage. Courage makes dreams come true… sooooo basically let your beauty shine ; )





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