Friday Favorites


Hello from the other side of the holidays! They seem to go faster and faster each year, don’t they? I took down all our decorations on Wednesday, Ben is back to work, and while the cozy, magical feeling of Christmas has left the air, I will admit that it’s nice getting back into a routine. Ask me if I feel the same in a month when the snow just won’t die and I’m dying for something to look forward to!

That being said, I think we’re ready to travel with Lincoln again this spring/summer. I believe it was somewhere between praying the too-loud music at a breakfast joint wouldn’t wake him up, and Ben and me taking turns eating dinner at my cousin’s wedding to tend to our screaming infant when we traveled to Denver a few months ago, that I actually said “we are never doing this again.” Hmmm…

Looking back it wasn’t bad at all. He did really great for only being 3 months old, plus as Lincoln’s gotten older his moods and needs are much more predictable. So, where should we go? What’s your favorite family-friendly destination in the US? Spring break has always been one of my favorite travel times during the year!

In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and please enjoy my favorite finds from around the web and beyond in this week’s Friday Favorites!

Click the light blue link to be taken to the source. 

Favorite thing ever: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches. DYING over this creation. Sheer brilliance!


Favorite kitchen. This kitchen island is making me all sorts of giddy and I adore how the cooking area can be closed off by barn door-style cabinets. What an awesome space.


Favorite dinner: Mexican Quinoa. Loving the flavors in this one-pot quinoa dish. Looks like a perfect weeknight meal.


Favorite find: Picture Rail Inspiration. I finally ordered picture ledges (I got these and love them) for the big long wall in my long and narrow awkward-shaped living room and this picture is my inspiration for how to style them. Need to stock up on frames, knicks, and knacks, then they’re goin’ up!


Favorite crunch: Thai Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce. A reader sent me a link to this recipe earlier this week, thinking Ben and I would enjoy it – she knows us so well! I’m on a huge Thai peanut-sauce kick right now – stay tuned for a recipe using it on Monday!


Favorite place: Grand Hotel, Lake Misurina. O.M.G. This hotel in northern Italy has officially made my bucket list. What a breathtaking shot!!


Favorite stuffed: Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Style Burritos. Me thinks I don’t eat enough burritos. Will have to change that ASAP with these babies.


Favorite bling: Love Knot Stud Earrings. I pretty much only wear stud earrings so I like that these guys are studs, but fancy, know what I mean?


Favorite flavors: Brown Rice Bowl with Asian Vegetables and Sesame-Lime Dressing. Got the ingredients to make this for dinner tonight. Can’t wait!


Favorite tip: How to Travel-Proof Your Razor. One life hack I will definitely be using.


Favorite idea: Smoothie Packs. I’ve been on a big smoothie kick the past couple of weeks and while they’re awesome, it’s definitely a pain in the butt to get out all the ingredients, load them in the blender, put them away, etc. Love the idea of spending some time pre-making smoothie packs to make the whole process go much faster!

2 smoothie packets_mini

Favorite natural: Citrus Kitchen Cleaner. My sister-in-law turned me onto this tip – use leftover lemon or lime segments to clean sinks and cutting boards, then send ’em down the disposal (if they’re cut small enough, of course) to get your sink smelling nice and clean. I rubbed a leftover lemon all over my stainless steel sink a few nights ago and it seriously looked brand new.


Favorite bake: Italian Chicken. Tomatoes. Basil. Chicken. Artichokes. Cheese. One pan. ‘Nuf said!


Favorite tips: 10 Ways to Declutter Your Day. Wonderful ideas on how to stay focused throughout the day. I especially love the one about the laptop – if my work didn’t involve the computer/internet so much I’d be all over it!


Favorite upgrade: Braided Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Danish. Regular danish? Snore. Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Danish?! YES!


View past Friday Favorites >

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Have a great weekend!

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  1. Lincoln may be a little too young for the beach this year, but one of my family’s favorite vacation destinations is Destin, FL. That kitchen is fabulous and the Italy shot…. just made my bucket list too! Hope your new year is off to a great start!

  2. I just moved to Florida and I would agree with Kim, above me, it would be a great destination! These are all such great ideas/ things that my face wants to eat yesterday. Those cookie dough ice-cream sandwiches….That kitchen…dying over this list!

  3. Anna 01.03.2014

    My husband and I just got back from our belated honeymoon trip where we spent a week on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina…about an hour east of Savannah Georgia. It was a great place to visit! I’d highly recommend!

    • Katie 01.03.2014

      My family and I have also gone to Hilton Head before. If you’re up for the beach it could be a great spot! Or if you want to stay in the midwest, maybe nashville or graceland? Those are both on my travel list :)

  4. The danish is amazing! OMG! There goes healthy eating for a bit longer.

  5. Kathleen 01.03.2014

    We went to Emerald Isle, NC for a beach vacation when my son was 2 years old and he loved playing in the sand and the water. Fast forward a few years and he is now 8 and our daughter is 3. This past summer her first beach trip was to Tybee Island, GA. They both had a great time playing in the sand and water and they were both old enough to take a boat tour to see the dolphins and eat lots of shrimp !

  6. Abi@AbsofSteel 01.03.2014

    ooooh, i love the razor trick and the ice cream sandwiches of course ;)

  7. C. 01.03.2014

    Love that your favorites list is back this week! Have you ever been to Savannah, GA? It’s an amazing town with a lot of charm, delicious seafood, and the beach is nearby too – Tybee Island has a great pier, lighthouse, and sandy beaches. I was there this past November for a wedding and loved it!

  8. that quinoa is calling my name. so.much.cheese.

  9. thank you so much for mentioning me!! :)

  10. Debra 01.03.2014

    Wow—I love this list of EVERYTHING. Pinning away!

  11. Kimberly 01.03.2014

    A nice family friendly place not TOO far from home would be the Wilderness Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. Lots of families do Spring Break up there. Nice Tanger Outlet to shop at close too! And lots of great places to eat. You would Love Sorrento’s that is right next to the resort. You can get a beach feel here as they have a GIANT wave pool and a glass roof that you can tan thru. check it out!

    • Eleni 01.03.2014

      I’m seconding Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells! I went there with my Girl Scout troop years ago and it was a big hit with everyone.

  12. Jenn 01.03.2014

    A week after my daughter’s first birthday we traveled to Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan for a family reunion. We live in Waukee so it was a manageable trip to get there in less than a day. The park has great trails for walking and we all loved the beach. Next door to the park was a blueberry patch so we did some picking. A great, simple vacation. We plan to go to Omaha this year for a week and spend a lot of time at the zoo.

  13. Megan 01.03.2014

    A bonus with the razor/binder clip trick is then you can use the clip to secure the blackout curtains in a hotel room (they never want to stay all the way closed). I never travel without a couple binder clips or giant hair clips specifically for this purpose!

  14. Those cookie dough ice cream sandwiches look epic!! Definitely not waiting till summer to try those out ;)

    Wow, that hotel in Italy is breathtaking. Amazing how beautiful the natural world can be.

  15. Yay for Friday Favorites! I’m kind of drooling over those cookie dough ice cream sandwiches. Happy New Year and happy Friday!

  16. Katie 01.03.2014

    I just pinned (almost) all of these today! Thanks, have a great weekend!

  17. Love the 10 Ways to Declutter your Day post. Some great ideas that I can definitely use in the new year :-)

  18. Stephanie Hanson 01.03.2014

    Ok so I don’t know what your budget is, but I have two recommendations. First, we rented a house several years ago in Isle of Palms near Charleston SC. I know you and Ben went there a while back so you may not want to go back again so soon, but it’s right off the beach, really family friendly and super laid back. Also, my husband and I just got back from Maui, Hawaii (again I don’t know your budget) and we loved it! We stayed at the Honua Kai resort where we had a condo so we could cook meals twice per day and go out once to save money – it’s expensive down there! However, it is a super family friendly resort and we saw tons of young families spending time at the pool, on the beach, or doing all sorts of other activities. These are two of my faves – can’t wait to see where you end up!!

  19. My family and I just got back from Sanibel Island, FL! Although my sister and I are in our 20’s, there were a lot of families with kids of all ages! My parents kept saying,”Wow, why didn’t we come here sooner with you guys?!” There are a lot of beach front condos that are reasonably priced and allow for privacy– great for avoiding crowds and relaxing. You can rent bikes (I saw some with additions for babies/kids) and bike all around the island. There are also AMAZING restaurants there with something for everyone (lots of seafood, but really anything for anyone, we didn’t have a bad meal there). There are a couple reviews up on my page if you want to check it out or want more info!

  20. Okay..I am DEFINITELY making those smoothie packs! What a great idea. Those will save me a TON of time in the morning when I am already running late ;).

  21. Tracy 01.03.2014

    A plumber once told me that citrus rinds are horrible for your disposal…proceed with caution!!

    • Carrie 01.04.2014

      I second that. A plumber told me the same thing about NOT putting rinds in the disposal.

    • LucyMay 01.04.2014

      My brother is a plumber. He said it’s not an issue of citrus rinds being horrible for your disposal, but the size of the rind is the issue. Don’t shove half a lemon or orange down there; instead just use a wedge or two or a couple of slices. That’s plenty to create a nice smell.

  22. Sara 01.03.2014

    Love these! If you want to keep your trip closer to home this year, we always head to Lake Okoboji at least once every summer…and the babies/kiddos have a blast. Barefoot Bar anyone?

  23. Sarah 01.03.2014

    Are the pin icons on Friday Favorites new? I’ve never noticed that before. It seems kind of shady to have a pin on other peoples’ recipes so that it will take the person back to your page. They should have to go to the source to pin it.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.03.2014

      They are new as of today – site-wide (definitely NOT just for Friday Favorites.) I agree that it’s not ideal for these types of post. I’ll look into a solution ASAP.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.03.2014

      Hey Sarah, thanks for bringing this to my attention. We’ve disabled the feature until we can figure out a work-around!

  24. Morgan 01.03.2014

    You should check out Captiva Island, FL. My family and I have been going there almost every year since I was four months old. It’s a gorgeous, tiny island in the Gulf of Mexico. The shrimp tacos from Captiva Cantina and the Bubble Bread from the Bubble Room are worth the trip alone. :)

  25. Lisa E 01.03.2014

    Have to agree with the people that said Wisconsin Dells. We live 2 hours away, go often, and never get bored. There’s not a lot of trips that can be appreciated with a baby, but the Dells has something for all ages, and Lincoln would love getting in a little water park time, I’m sure. The Wilderness is definitely a good family- friendly spot.

  26. Jackie 01.03.2014

    Thanks for sharing! The Mexican quinoa bowl looks great!

  27. Kate 01.03.2014

    Hi Kristin, just wondering about an ad that has been appearing when I visit your website. It seems to be for a video game called War Thunder, and it plays loud audio that can’t be muted. It’s quite annoying and really contradicts your peaceful, friendly blog experience – any chance that it can be disabled? Thanks so much!

  28. Derek in Tokyo 01.03.2014

    Long time, first time… (-;
    Love the blog and recipes.
    The Mexican Quinoa recipe looked great, but the site seemed to be down. This might be a temp problem, but if it isn’t, do you have a copy of the recipe somewhere else?

  29. purelytwins 01.03.2014

    that hotel…makes me want to book at ticket to Italy now!

  30. Greg H 01.03.2014

    North Carolina is a great family friendly vacation. There’s great food, good people, and lots to do – from Asheville, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and right over to the Atlantic coast.

  31. Claire 01.03.2014

    Saugatuck, Michigan is FABULOUS. It will be a little chilly for Spring Break, but it is great during the summer. The town is full of cute shops and restaurants. The beaches are great and the sunsets on that side of Lake Michigan are to die for!

  32. Mindy Ruzynski 01.03.2014

    When our first child was just 3 months old we went to Napa Valley and checked out the wineries. Just don’t forget your pump ;)

  33. Kate 01.04.2014

    I have three little ones (7, 6, 2). We’ve been taking them to St.louis and Wis Dells since they were about Lincoln’s age!

  34. Carrie 01.04.2014

    Come to Scottsdale. It’s paradise here. Right now, it’s sunny, 70 and no humidity. In the cool evenings we sit around our outdoor fire pit with a glass of wine. Ahhhhh…heaven. In March, the desert will be in full bloom. If you have never experienced the Sonoran desert in full color, it’s a must.
    You can find all kinds of fun cowboy activities for the kiddies too. Dude ranches, horseback riding, jeep tours in the desert………

  35. Come up to Vancouver!! (not exactly in the US but close enough!)

  36. The binder clip trick, I love it! (perhaps that’s just the accountant in me haha)

  37. Have y’all been to Austin? I’ve only been a handful of times but going off what I’ve seen you and Ben enjoy in terms of cities and food scenes, it sounds right up y’all’s alley. I took my daughter when she was very young, maybe 2 months old and everything went fine. Very laid back diverse city.

  38. AshleyCS4 01.04.2014

    I grew up in South Carolina at the beach and now I live in St. Augustine, FL. And let me tell you, St. Augustine has to be the greatest small town in the world. The beaches are incredible (powder soft sand, blue-green waters and no crowds!), there is great shopping, and history all around. But the best part has to be the incredible restaurants! The food in this town is spectacular. And you can vacation here year round!

  39. Lisa L 01.05.2014

    Lincoln is pretty little yet but sometime you will have to take a vaca to Mt Rushmore and all the other sites in western SD. It truly is a tourist destination and so many great things to see and do. Thanks for the Friday favorites. Always fantastic stuff!

  40. Elyse 01.05.2014

    San Francisco! California is always beautiful and that city is the perfect mix between outdoor activities and great food. You could rent a car and drive along the coast, walk on the beach, bike ride, etc. I went once before when my husband and I were still dating and we had a blast. I have family in southern California (orange county area) and I enjoyed seeing how different northern California is in comparison. It seemed more laid back, and who doesn’t love a town with a chocolate factory?

  41. Cathy 01.05.2014

    Wishing the link for the quinoa worked.

  42. Cristal 01.05.2014

    I plan out my meals on Friday night for the week ahead. I was wondering what routine you use when planning your meals for the week? How do you decide on what meals you will make for the week? I always have such a hard time deciding to what to make and how to vary the meals. Thank you for your help!

  43. Heidi Ferrer 01.05.2014

    Hi, I just found your blog through a Google search and love it, you are adorable and I can’t believe you eat all of these yummy foods and you’re itty bitty!

    I mean that as a compliment, of course.

    My Mom Nancy was born in Iowa and my parents met in college there.

    May I ask you who designed your blog? I love the look of it, beautiful and very friendly to readers.

    I’m – also on BlogHer.



  44. I seriously can not stop drooling over the cookie dough ice cream sandwiches! Completely genius.

  45. Adrian 01.07.2014

    We rented a cabin in the Smoky Mountains last year and it was the most relaxing and amazing vacation for our family. We have one daughter (7 at the time) and she loved everything about the trip. There is a lot to do, but you could also just sit and relax all day too. It was perfect! :)

  46. Linda Duelley 01.13.2014

    I found your site from your aunt whom I work with at our local county health department!! Love your blog; all the great recipes and the interesting travel blogs. I would recommend Saugatuck MI also–my hubby and I have gone 2 summers in a row now because we like it so much.

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