Illinois River Road

Monday, October 24, 2016

This weekend we decided to try and see some Fall color by going on a little road trip on the Illinois River Road. Most of the color STILL hasn't made an appearance but we had lots of fun anyway. We sort of followed this itinerary but cut out some stuff that didn't seem like our cup of tea.

We left Saturday morning and headed to a little town called Ottawa, Illinois. Ottawa has several large murals painted around the town depicting different historical events. They were really neat to see, I love a good mural!

We walked around town a bit and came across this park where President Lincoln once debated. Ruby got to run around a bit (on her leash) and she loved it.

After roaming the town a bit we stopped in at Tangled Roots Brewing Co so Loren could sample some beer. They had a beer called the "nugget" which we thought was funny after years of making nugget jokes with my sister.

A photo posted by Kristen Ayotte (@kristenayotte) on

We continued wandering and ended up at August Hill Winery. They had a lot of sparkling wines but they were pretty tasty. After a tasting we had a little cheese plate out front and Ruby got lots of attention from strangers passing by. 

After leaving Ottawa, the next destination we had planned was Starved Rock State Park. There were waterfalls to see, and we were planning to hike a little bit. The drive up to the visitor center was so pretty, and I can only imagine how gorgeous it'd be if the leaves were changing. 

Once we got there we were greeted with a sign that said ALL waterfalls were dry. Lameo. So we took the short hike to the top of Starved Rock and called it good. 

After leaving the State Park we headed to Peoria for the night. We got into town just in time for the University of Washington football game to start so we headed to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch. Maybe not the most exciting thing to do in Peoria but it was fun for us to watch a good UW win! 

On our way home Sunday we drove on the East side of the Illinois River and stopped in Granville at Boggio's Orchard & Produce to pick up some pumpkins. Boggio's was dog friendly which is always a plus in our book. I always think it's strange when things that are outside are still not dog friendly. Anyway, they had a good variety of pumpkins and at least when we visited, all the pumpkins were the same price. We grabbed a wagon and headed out to find our winners. 

It was super windy (not the nice Beyonce kind of wind, the kind that makes your hair a tangled mess) but we got our pumpkins, an obligatory family pic, and grabbed some cider donuts before taking off. 

It was such a nice weekend exploring our new state. We didn't see the pretty Fall colors we were hoping to but still had fun on our road trip. Ruby is a little road warrior and Loren and I love watching her relax in the car or stick her face out the window. :) I hope you had a fun weekend too! I'd love to hear what you were up to so leave a note in the comments below. 


Life Lately

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A little catch up post. Life lately has been the sort of busy where you're not really sure where all your time is spent, but you know you've been busy. Know what I mean?!

A few weeks ago Loren and I had a couple friends come to visit. My girlfriend from high school came to visit for a night and it was SO MUCH FUN! I hadn't seen her in years, and we picked right back up like we'd been together all along. We spent most of our time just vegging out and gabbing which is pretty much my favorite thing ever. We managed to grab some deep dish pizza and squeeze in a Sephora trip though. :)

Our friend Karl also came to visit and he and Loren went to hockey and footballs games, and ate their way through Chicagoland. Even a trip to White Castle, where I decided to make a castle out of our slider boxes. It was so fun to spend time with such good friends, always good for the soul.

We also went to our local Oktoberfest with my sister-in-law and her hubby. It was a good time!

Around the house we've been working on getting Loren's computer room to be a presentable space. It's almost there, just a few things to hang up still and we're in need of some blinds for the window. You can see the quick DIY pillows I made for the space here. Hopefully we'll have that room "done" within the next couple weeks.

Otherwise I'm getting the house spruced for Fall. I was surprised this year how much more difficult it was to put my decorations up in the new house! I'm so used to putting everything in the same place year after year so having to come up with news plans was tricky. I'll take pictures of that to share soon, here's what our porch looks like at the moment.

Loren says the porch looks like pumpkin patch, but he doesn't know that even MORE pumpkins are coming soon! I can't wait for my big mums to bloom to add some more color, they're going to be so pretty! I think that covers everything we've been up to lately (minus all the football watching), hope you're enjoying the Fall season so far!


The Easiest DIY Pillow

Thursday, September 29, 2016

You know how sometimes you see blog posts or ideas on Pinterest that make it seem like the craft/DIY project is so easy? And then you try it, and it's so difficult or needs $100 worth of supplies and in the end it still looks a hot mess. Well, good news. I tried a making a pillow out of placemat and it was the easiest thing ever.

We've been working on getting the computer room organized and not looking like such a disaster zone (update on the room soon), and I wanted some new pillows for the loveseat. Since Loren uses the room the most, I've been trying to make it a room that's his taste. His taste is inexpensive. :) I saw these placemats on clearance at Target for $2.48. They're not on clearance on the website so check your local Target if you're interested.
The back of the placemat is lined with a solid grey fabric so that's what made me think this was a good candidate for turning into a pillow. I got my seam ripper out and split the seam so I could fit my hand inside to allow for pillow stuffing.

I was fortunate to have a huge box of poly-fill from another project so I didn't have to buy any this time around. I just stuffed the pillow until I felt like it was sturdy, then added just a bit more so hopefully it'll maintain the shape well. 

After stuffing all that's left was to stitch the opening back up. I am NOT good at sewing but I can reattach a button or close a seam so if I can do it, you can too. It's not beautiful but no one will see it and if they do, who really cares?! Nice friends won't care. :)

That's it! It took me about 40 minutes to do both pillows and I was on the phone for a portion of the time so you could probably get it done even faster if you really wanted to. 


So there you have it, isn't the tassel trim cute?! Proof that sometimes Pinterest projects work and don't cause you to swear or spend a ton of money! Thanks for reading, and good luck with your DIY advenures! 


*First photo from

A Date at Pike Place Market

Thursday, September 22, 2016

During our recent visit to Washington, Loren and I actually had a few opportunities to spend some time just the two of us. Normally when we visit our schedule is so packed with meeting up with people (which we love!) that we don't do much on our own so this was a fun little bonus.

The day we got into town we decided to head to Pike Place Market and explore for a few hours before heading to Everett. I love going to the market just to take in the sights. This is my favorite corner. I have a thing for clocks, I'm always googly eyed over clocks when we visit places and this one is no exception. You can see it was a weird cloudy/bright day so some of these pictures aren't the best.

My favorite thing to look at will always be all the flowers. They're just so beautiful. And affordable! Obviously the fish is interesting to look at, and if you're lucky enough to catch the fish being thrown that's really fun but the flowers just have a special spot in my heart.

This jeweler had bracelets with quotes stamped onto them, and one said "I kiss my dog on the lips". It took a lot of self control to not buy it. But I thought it was super cute and quirky for a dog lover. :)

After walking around the market for a bit we strolled over to a new (to us) brewery, Old Stone Brewing Co. They had some snacks and sandwiches that you could order, and obviously beer. I liked that they served hard cider and wine as well since some breweries aren't so accommodating to us non-brew drinkers.

What a cutie. After leaving the city we went to our favorite sushi place for a quick lunch, it was the nicest day to spend with my favorite guy.

It's so fun to be a tourist in your own (old) city.  Thanks so much for reading, I truly appreciate it!


Diablo Lake

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Loren and I just got back from a long weekend visit to Washington and while we were there we decided to take a day trip to Diablo Lake. I'd actually never even heard of Diablo Lake until we moved away, turns out it was only two hours away from our old house! Anyway, after breakfast Loren, my sister, and I headed out.

We took Hwy 20 to get there and it was a beautiful drive. I can only imagine how gorgeous it'll be in a few weeks when the leaves change colors.

Once we arrived at the lake it was even more pretty than I anticipated. The water is the prettiest turquoise color and surrounded by the mountains. The overlook had some picnic spots and we regretted not thinking to bring a lunch or snack with us.

Laura's colorful braid was such a hit that a lady visiting from Italy asked (through an interpreter) if she could take a picture. We proceeded to call Laura an international supermodel. :)

After we left the overlook we found a spot along the highway where you could go for a hike, we decided against a hike since we were all wearing sandals (and lazy) but it was nice to see the water up close. Loren and I dipped our toes in and holy smokes was the water cold!

After that we decided to head back since we all had plans that evening. It was a fun little day trip and I'd totally recommend it if you're in the Seattle area. It's a quick and easy drive and pretty almost the entire way. I enjoyed having a couple of my favorite people stuck in the car with me all day! :)

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