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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Travel Tuesday: 10 Fun Things to Do in the Quad Cities

Hello all! It's time for my second Travel Tuesday post. This time, I'm taking it local. Welcome to the Quad Cities!
I've lived in the Quad Cities area my whole life. It's an area in Illinois and Iowa along the Mississippi River, composed of 4 main cities and their surrounding towns. The four cities are Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline in Illinois. We live in a smaller town, a little southwest from the cities on the Illinois side.

The Quad Cities (IA/ IL):

Trent and I have spent a lot of time in the Q.C. over the years. I went to college in both Moline and Davenport, so he would come up and visit me on the weekends, and we'd go out to eat, go to baseball or hockey games, concerts, etc. And we still enjoy eating out and attending different events there, all the time.

So, if you're not too familiar with this area, here are 10 of My Favorite Things to Do in the Quad Cities.

1. River Bandits Baseball Games
The Quad Cities River Bandits are a Class A affiliate of the Houston Astros. The baseball park is right on the Mississippi River, and it's been voted the best minor league park in the U.S.! There's an outdoor bar/party area, a zipline, and a huge Ferris Wheel. We've ridden the ferris wheel, and the view is pretty awesome. It is always a good time watching the Bandits play and hanging out with friends there.


2. Attend Summer Festivals and Fairs
Every summer in the Q.C., there are always a ton of festivals and fairs going on! There are outdoor music festivals like Heartland Jam, River Roots Live / Rib Fest, and Bix Fest. Then there's one of the biggest fairs in the area - the Mississippi Valley Fair. Tons of people flock to this fair in Davenport to attend the awesome country and rock concerts at night. We've seen a ton of artists perform there, including Blake Shelton, Montgomery Gentry, Miranda Lambert, and Darius Rucker.



3. Explore Area Breweries
The Q.C. is home to several small-town breweries, on both sides of the river. There is nothing better than sitting outside on the patio on a nice day, sipping a local brew and hanging out with friends. One of our favorite local breweries is Bent River in Moline, which makes the popular Uncommon Stout, as well as my favorites: Raspberry Wheat Ale, Mississippi Blonde, and JalapeƱo Pepper Ale. Another  brewery we enjoy is Front Street Brewery, located downtown Davenport.



4. Restaurants and Nightlife
There are so many good restaurants and bars in the Quad Cities, that there are even some we've wanted to try but haven't had a chance to go to yet. Some of my favorite restaurants in Moline include River House (pictured below)Johnny's Italian Steakhouse, and Brix. In Davenport and Bettendorf, there's Azteca, Antonella's, Crust, Biaggi's, and so many more. And the best bars are always downtown!



5. Mallards Hockey Games
The Quad City Mallards are a minor league hockey team that play at the iWireless Center in Moline. I had never been much of a hockey fan and had never gone to any games - until I met Trent. One of our first dates was to a Mallards game, and it was actually a lot of fun! We like to get groups of friends together and go from time to time, and we always have a blast.



6. Walks By the River
Sometimes when you're not sure what to do, or you just want to walk off that huge dinner, you can always take a walk along the beautiful Mississippi River. LeClaire Park in Davenport (pictured below), is one of our favorite places to walk along the river. There's also Ben Butterworth Parkway in Moline, which has a great river front area, too. Trent and I had a picnic day-date there for our third date. :)



7. Museums
There are a few big museums here that are always fun to visit. If you like art, there's the Figge, located in downtown Davenport. Bettendorf has a really nice family museum (though I haven't been there since I was a kid!), then there is the Putnam Museum in Davenport, which is a history and natural science museum. I've been there several times, both as a kid and as an adult. They have an IMAX theater, which shows some pretty cool educational films, and they even play The Polar Express at Christmas time.



8. Niabi Zoo
Niabi Zoo is a smaller zoo, but the only one in the Quad Cities area. It's located in Coal Valley, just south of Moline. I remember going there as a kid, and Trent and I have gone back from time to time as adults. Even though I feel sorry for the animals kept in captivity, it's a fun place to visit on nice days, and would make for a great place to take your kids or family. My favorite animals there are the giraffes!



9. Concerts at The I-Wireless Center and The Adler
The iWireless Center in Moline is the main event and concert arena in the Quad Cities. They get the biggest artists and acts, and Trent and I have been to countless concerts there! Together we've seen artists like Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Dave Matthews Band, Brad Paisley, and Dierks Bentley there. Not a year goes by that we don't attend at least one or two concerts at the "i-Wi." The Adler in Davenport also books some great acts. They mostly have local plays, but we've seen both Counting Crows and O.A.R. there. It's a smaller, more intimate venue, so it's easier to get a better view of the stage.



10. Shopping and Antiquing
Last but not least, The Q.C. has plenty of shopping and antiquing going on, if that's your style. There are 2 main malls here - Northpark on the Iowa side, and Southpark on the Illinois side. The malls are a little bit outdated, but Davenport and Bettendorf also have a ton of stores independent from the mall, like TJ Maxx and Marshall's, Ulta, DSW, Old Navy, and a Banana Republic Factory store. I also love to go Antiquing, and downtown Rock Island and Moline have some great antique stores. Le Claire, Iowa, just up the river from Davenport, has some of the best little shops and antique stores in the area. It's a cute historic town that's also home to Antique Archeology, the American Pickers store.




So, no matter what your style, you're sure to find something fun to do in the Quad Cities! I hope this little travel guide to the Q.C. helps you find the best places this area has to offer. :) And if you have ANY questions about the area, I would be happy to help!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Life in 2017

It's a nice Sunday today - not too incredibly cold, and no bad weather yet - though it's supposed to be coming! I thought I'd bring you all up to speed on what we've been up to so far this year, and where we're headed.

So far, 2017 has been pretty great, but nothing too terribly exciting. We've been making a few trips up to the cities so far this year. We went shopping last weekend and got new phones. Then this weekend, I had a tire light on in my car and found out I have a tire sensor that needs to be replaced, so I had a car appointment yesterday in the Cities to figure out what was wrong, and we'll have to go back next weekend, to get it fixed. While we were there, we did some shopping, took advantage of the after-Christmas sales still going on, and have gotten to eat out a couple of times.
Last weekend was Texas Roadhouse - Love that place. Then this weekend, we ate at Crust again. Remember those amazing beer-battered cheese curds? Definitely the best cheese curds ever. We got those as appetizers, and were so full after that we could barely eat our pizza! :)


We also tried a couple of beers there. I got a Lionstone Peanut Butter Wheat beer. I tried it one other time before - it's locally brewed in Geneseo, Illinois, and it is delicious! Trent got a Cherry Blond ale from Great River Brewery (also a local brewery), and he liked that, too.

Friday night, Trent got some pizza from the place down the street from us, and Saleen clearly wanted some of it. She couldn't leave Trent alone while he was eating it. It was pretty cute. :)



She can't resist that pepperoni pizza!


Today we've been cleaning - doing laundry, dishes, and mopping the floors with our new Swiffer Wet Jet! We've gotten a few other new things for around the house lately, too. I bought a new wine rack, some new wine glasses, and a bathroom scale with my Target gift cards from Christmas. This is the first scale we've owned in the 6 years we've been in this house! It was pretty exciting. :)

Then yesterday, we got new pillows for the bed from Bed, Bath, and Beyond - here is the link to them online. They are pretty fancy - kind of tempur-pedic, and have a special cooling gel inside. Last night was our first night sleeping on them. Not too bad! My neck has been hurting when I wake up, so I needed a new pillow that was a little better for it. I hope this one helps!

In the way of renovation projects, I think our first one is going to be finishing the hall closet. We put it in when we renovated the hallway, but haven't finished it yet. Here's a look at the closet after we put it in:


It still needs drywall, a floor, and some shelves. It's small, but I think having it finished will help us be a little more organized. Plus, we'll have a nicer space for our vacuum, the Swiffer, and our bath towels.

So that's how our 2017 has been going so far in a nutshell. I'm hoping to start some renovating soon!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Year, New Phones

Trent and I finally got a phone plan together yesterday. And got new iPhone 7's! It's been a long time coming. We got our old iPhones way back in 2013, so it was time for an upgrade.

Trent got the black one, I got the pink. And we got cases to match. Below is just a picture of my box, but isn't it purdy?


So far, we love the new 7's. It was super easy with the iCloud backup to transfer all of our photos and apps over from our old phones to our new ones, too. I'm also excited about the new and better camera.

We decided to make the switch to Verizon - we each had something different before. Our decision was mainly based on the best coverage area, and the carryover data. So far, no issues! But it's only been one day. :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

House Goals for 2017

It's another new year, which means a fresh list of home renovation goals!
Each year I've been making these lists of goals, and each year, we complete only a couple of them, with the rest carrying over into the next year. I guess that's just how it goes when you both have full time jobs and other things like getting married and vacations going on. :)

Nonetheless, let's look at what we've completed in the last year. These were my house goals for 2016:

2016 House Resolutions:
1. Finish Hallway.
2. Fix the foundation.
3. Fix leaking roof in back room.
4. Raise/level the living room.
5. Fully install the baseboard in the living room (only been waiting about 3 1/2 years for this to get done!--- make that 6 1/2 now.)
6. Kitchen foundation / leveling / gutting / renovation (that's a mouthful, and encompasses a bunch of work!)
7. Start on pantry/closet reno.

Well, we didn't do as good as last year. I think because most of the summer was spent on the first goal on the list: Finishing the hallway. And we did. And it was a huge job. That counts as something in my book!

So, let's make things easier on ourselves this year, shall we? Just 6 lofty goals.

2017 House Resolutions:
1. Raise/level the living room.
2. Renovate the pantry/closet.
3. Fix leaking roof in back room.
4. Fix the foundation.
5. Fully install the baseboard in the living room (only been waiting about 3 1/2 years for this to get done!--- make that 6 1/2 now.)
6. Kitchen foundation / leveling / gutting / renovation (that's a mouthful, and encompasses a bunch of work!)

I think it's safe to say this year, given our history, that we'll have a hard time getting all of these completed. But, I'm hoping to get the first 3 finished at least. We'll see how it goes! :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Travel Tuesday: 10 Fun Things to Do In Chicago

This year on the blog, I'm starting a little series I've been thinking about doing for a while. Every so often, on Tuesdays, I'll be posting "Travel Tuesdays," where I hope to share a travel-related post. I know it won't be every Tuesday, but I'd like to do one at least once or twice a month.

Travel-related posts are some of my favorites to write, because I love looking back at places we've been and those moments we've shared and experienced together. I love seeing and exploring new places, and hope to share all of my past and present experiences with you all.

You may have already seen my Travel Posts page (also located on my sidebar), which I continually add to each time I travel to new places. I'll be adding posts from this series to that page, too. So if you miss one, you can go back and view them all on there!

For my first Travel Tuesday post, I've decided to share some fun things about one of my favorite cities to visit: Chicago. Since I live in Illinois, about 3 hours southwest of Chicago, it's a fun weekend getaway that we like to visit at least a couple of times throughout the year.

So, here are 10 fun things to do in the Windy City if you're ever planning a visit. (And they are all tried and true, by moi.)

1. Catch a Game at Wrigley Field
If you're a Cubs fan like us, or even if you're not, it's always a good time seeing a game at Wrigley. It's one of the most historic baseball fields, and the Cubs have a great team right now! We've been to several Cubs games here, and it's always so much fun.


2. Ride the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier
Apparently Navy Pier got a brand new ferris wheel last May. I haven't ridden the new one yet, however the old one was pretty cool. Riding the ferris wheel is a must if you go to Navy Pier. It's pretty iconic and looks out onto Lake Michigan.


3. See Cloud Gate, aka "The Bean"
This might be one of the most photographed places in the city of Chicago. Tons of people crowd around to see what we lovingly call "The Bean," in Millennium Park. Though it's true name is Cloud Gate, this statue is literally shaped like a Bean, and it's reflective surface lets you not only see own reflection, but the reflection of the sky, too. Pretty cool!


4. Pose at the Top of Willis Tower
In 2016, I finally got to go up in Willis Tower, or "The Sears Tower," as most of us still call it. Though it is a lonnggg wait to get up to the top, when you finally get up there, it's totally worth it. And posing for a picture on the "The Ledge" is a must, once you're up at the top.


5. Go Shopping on Michigan Avenue
Ah, the shopping. There's a reason this street is called the "Magnificent Mile." With Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and tons of specialty shops, you won't be disappointed if you come here to shop.


6. Visit the Art Institute
The Art Institute of Chicago is home to some of the most well-known paintings in the world. I finally got a chance to see it back in 2010, and it was so surreal to stand in front of these iconic works of art. From Grant Wood's American Gothic, to Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, and artists from Rothko to Pollock to Van gogh and Monet are showcased here. An amazing collection!


7. Go up in the John Hancock Center
A few years before we went up in the Willis Tower, we went up to the John Hancock Center observatory. It was at night when we were there, so we got to see the city lit up, which was a pretty cool view.


8. Eat at Harry Caray's
Cubs fans love and remember the great Harry Caray as one of the best announcers in baseball. There are a few different Harry Caray's restaurants in the Chicago area. We've been to one downtown, and also one out by Midway airport. The food there is great, plus there are tons of baseball memorabilia and photos on the walls to look at while you're waiting for a table, or even while you're eating. And don't forget to get a photo by Harry himself, and the "Holy Cow."


9. See a Concert at The House of Blues
You don't have to see a punk rock show like we did (We saw Hellogoodbye, Saves the Day and New Found Glory), but any show at the HOB is sure to be a good time. It has almost an intimate, theater-like feel to it. Smaller venues always end up being great shows, plus the HOB has some really cool architectural balconies inside you have to see in person.


10. Go on a Cruise on Lake Michigan
If you're a water lover, you will love cruising on a boat on Lake Michigan. There are a few different cruises to choose from on Navy Pier. You just pay for a ticket and can take the next boat ride that comes along. Besides the ferris wheel and shopping, this is another fun thing to do while spending time at Navy Pier.



Other notable things to do:
Even though we've done a lot of cool things in this city, there is always something I haven't done yet. These things are still on my Chicago Bucket List:
  • See a show at the Chicago Theatre
  • Visit the Adler Planetarium
  • Attend Bulls, Blackhawks, and Bears games

Anything I missed? What are some other cool things to do in the wonderful city of Chicago? Hope this helps for your next visit! :)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Recipe Roundup

Welcome to my Recipe Roundup post! Although I do not really enjoy cooking (Ha!), I do enjoy an easy recipe every now and then. And I also like to share those recipes I do try, with you on my blog. So I've rounded up links to all of the recipes I've shared so far, as a resource for you all. It's an easy way to find them all in one place. Just click on the link or photo below to view the recipe.

I'll be adding this post to my sidebar, and will add to it with each recipe I share. Enjoy!

Strawberry Fluff
http://www.thislittlehouseblog.com/2016/05/strawberry-fluff-recipe.html

Bubble Pizza

Cheesy Corn Casserole

Classic Deviled Eggs

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
http://www.thislittlehouseblog.com/2013/12/peanut-butter-kiss-cookies.html

Pretzel Kisses
http://www.thislittlehouseblog.com/2014/06/pretzel-kisses-recipe.html

Puppy Chow
http://www.thislittlehouseblog.com/2013/12/puppy-chow-recipe.html

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017

Happy New Year, everyone! It's 2017, a brand new year, and it's time to start fresh! Hope you all had a great time celebrating. We had pizza and a few drinks, then played Yahtzee and hung out across the street at Trent's aunt and uncle's last night. It was a nice low-key New Years staying in town.


So, what are your New Year's resolutions for 2017? I have a few personal goals for the New Year, including: draw more, read more books, and get more steps with my Fitbit!


We also want to travel somewhere else we've never been before. Where it will be, though, I'm not certain. We're thinking Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island, Michigan. I'm sure we will make more wonderful memories there, if we go!

Here's to a great 2017!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year In Review: 2016

So many people are saying that 2016 was one of the worst years they can remember. With multiple terrorist attacks, a vicious election, police bashing, a new emergence of racism, numerous celebrity deaths, endless memes, and so many annoying slang words like: "bae," "Killary," "dabbing," "goals," "squad," "fleek," "yaaasss," and "basic," taking over our social media feeds, people have officially had enough of this year.

I'm trying to look on the bright side, and think about all of the good things that have happened in our lives this year. Like the Cubs ending their 108 year losing streak and finally winning the World Series. Celebrating our first wedding anniversary. Getting our brand new sectional sofa. Finally finishing our hallway renovation. And our fun vacation to Colorado, where we saw the Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time, and rode to the very top of Pike's Peak. Now, that's what I call #goals.


Yes, some may say 2016 was a horrible year, but since it's New Year's, it's time to reflect on some good memories we've had and prepare for a fresh start in 2017.

Though I've blogged a little less than years' past and completed less crafty and home projects than I would have liked, it was still a pretty great year, and today I'm sharing some of my favorite blog posts from 2016. Click on a post below to view.


Happy New Year all, and on to 2017 and new memories made!
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