25 day countdown

I’m a sucker for Advent calendars. I’ve dabbled in them, picking up the random Trader Joe’s chocolate version as I checked out in years past. But this year is different. Everett is finally old enough to (maybe?) understand the concept, so I’m doing it. YESSSS!

My mom picked up this darling stocking version for Evie and I have everything ready to kick off the countdown next week. Some of the stuffers I’ve picked up include: finger crayons, Santa socks and a coupon for one piping hot cup of cocoa.

Still on the hunt for the perfect Advent calendar? Let me help:

AdventCalendars20151 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

Feeling a little DIY-y this season? I love this wine version! Do you do Advent calendars in your home? If so, I’d love to hear what kind of items you include in yours.

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Snowy morning snuggles

After the Halloween jammie round up, you had to know this was coming right? My fondness for holiday themed pajamas reaches ultimate heights during Christmastime. So without further adieu:


1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11

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Holidays at the log home

There is nothing I love more than decorating my home for the holidays. Turning on the Christmas tree lights for the first time of the season is pure bliss. And this year, I’m even more excited as it will be our first holiday season in our log home. Bring on the faux fur. Bring on the antlers. Bring on the cozy!


1 // I’ve always loved the look of needlepoint stockings and Lands’ End’s version looks great hanging from any fireplace. Especially ours!

2 // My sister-in-law knows me so well and gifted me this Pier One plaid and gilded deer pillow that fits in perfectly with our guest room colors.

3 // I own something very similar to these golden antler candle holders, but I think I may just have to spray paint them gold.

4 // Saw this rustic rug at Target and knew it had to be mine. I for see lots of snowy boots wiping off on it in the near future.

5 // I plan on doing some holiday cookie decorating this holiday season and these mommy + me aprons from IKEA are just perfect. Now, the mess we make while decorating, that’s a whole other problem.

6 // When Everett is ready to snuggle at night he runs and grabs this faux fur throw from a basket and brings it to the couch. It’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.

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Home Alone, 25 years later

I remember the first time I watched this movie. We were back in my parents’ hometown of Hays, Kansas and they had decided to take all of the cousins to a movie at The Fox Pavilion. The kids chose Home Alone. I can still recall the sound of my dad howling from the balcony during the scene where Marv and Harry get pounded by paint cans.

After years of watching it whenever it was on, wearing our our VHS version, and even trying to recreate the icy front steps at my grandma’s house with cousins (yikes), it’s safe to say I’m obsessed. I mean, I’ve even gone to the house a couple times when I lived in Chicago for photo ops.

HomeAlone2[first time trip with my bestie Erin]
HomeAlone1[even before we were married my husband indulged my obsession]

So when I heard about the movie being re-released to theaters for a limited run this November, I knew I had to be there to see it all over again on the big screen.

Home Alone 2015: the ticketHome Alone 2015: the screamDo these vans get good gas mileage? Did you know that Chris Farley tried out for the part of Santa Claus? Me neither! Here are a few other fun facts about the movie. Looking for something a little more in depth? This piece written by John Hughes’ son should enlighten even those most die-hard fans. Oh yeah, and I just picked up this illustrated children’s book version to give to Evie this holiday season. He definitely has some Kevin McCallister spirit in him…

And let’s not forget about that amazing soundtrack with a score by the legendary John Williams. Merry Christmas, you filthy animal!

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Introducing Branstad Designs

When I’m not at work or spending time with my boys, I’m often (drinking a glass of wine…kidding, kind of…) thinking about or working on something to stimulate my creative side.

A little ‘me’ background: After graduating with a marketing degree from Loyola Chicago, I went into magazine ad sales. While there I realized I still wanted to flex my artistic muscle more and went back to school to get an associate degree in graphic design.

Over the years I have shared some of my work here on the blog, but most of it has been for friends and family. It wasn’t until recently that I started to work towards creating my own freelance design company.


I’m starting off slow to see how much I can take on, but recently finished a wedding invitation suite, complete with rehearsal dinner and post-wedding brunch invites. And I didn’t hate it!

It’s always been easy to design things for myself, but I definitely think I have a knack for listening to client’s needs and making their design dreams a reality. If there is something you’d like created, feel free to drop Branstad Designs a line via email.

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Turducken 2015

Over the past weekend we held our annual Turducken dinner and once again it was a noisy, crazy, kid-filled success. Chef Marcus was on point, per usual. Here are a few snaps that should give you a good idea of what it’s all about:

Turducken 2015: pre stuffed birds Turducken 2015: kisses from Grandma Turducken 2015: in process Turducken 2015: the table Turducken 2015:centerpieceTurducken 2015: coloring sheets Turducken 2015: cooked birds Turducken 2015: final product Turducken 2015: munchkin

Have you ever had/made a turducken?

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Things I geek out on

Geek out: to become immediately obsessive or enthralled in a subject that is considered by many to be geek-favorable. This includes comics, books, technology, etc.

Thanks Urban Dictionary. Everyone has something they “geek out” on, be it geeky or not. Thought I would devote today’s blog to indulge you in what I geek out on.


Paper: This one started long ago. I blame my mom, but alas, I have a paper obsession. Nay, infatuation. All kinds, but wrapping paper in particular during this time of year. In the past I’ve been full force gold, but this year’s crop of gifts that find their way under the tree will be (shocker) plaid.

Target: Duh. This is kind of a no-brainer. If I’m not at home or work the next place you should look is Target. It is my happy place and I won’t deny that fact. Snagging a great clearance find at the bullseye is my euphoric high.

Yearly planners: I’m quite strange in that I like to have both digital and paper calendars. Digital keeps me and the hubs on the same page, but paper is all about moi. I stumbled across the Sugar Paper x Target line last year and plan on snagging this year’s version.

Handlettering: This has increasingly become something I want to learn more about and I got to do just that at a recent AIGA Iowa workshop with the extremely talented Anna Frederick. Now all I need to do is carve out time to practice.

Buffalo check: Year after year, I can’t seem to get enough of this print. In the home (like this sweet sherpa throw) and on my clothes, buffalo check is here to stay.

So now I’m curious. What do you like to geek out on? Please share in the comments!

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