Category Archives: Just for Fun

Out of the Office: Iceland


Good morning! As you guys know, we have been gearing up for a big trip to Iceland and the time has officially come!!! Iceland_travel_passport

We are currently en route to Reykjavik with our hubbies and could not be more excited for this adventure. We’ve done lots of research, packed our travel essentials, and can’t wait to explore this gorgeous country together. Because we are only there for a few days and want to make the MOST of our time in Iceland, we have decided to take tomorrow and Monday off from blogging.

travel_moneyHowever we are not totally unplugging while we are away. If you want to follow along as we explore Iceland for the very first time, make sure you’re following us on Facebook & Instagram. We will be sharing photos from our trip on those platforms, but will be sure to share LOTS of posts (and photos!) about our experience when we return.

Since we spent SO much time researching for this trip, we hope that these posts will “pay it forward” in order to help someone else who is planning their own trip to Iceland.passport

We hope you guys have a great weekend! See you on Tuesday when we’ll be back (hopefully not jet-lagged) sharing a timely DIY post that we had no idea was as easy as it is. Sjáumst síðar (aka ‘see you later’ in Icelandic).


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Spring Video 2017


There have been some warm weekends here in Chicago, so it already feels like summer is here. But with summer officially arriving this week (yay!), we thought it was about time to share our spring 2017 video.Chicago_River_Wrigley_Building

As a reminder, we put together these short video montages every season. It’s a fun “video scrapbook” of what we’ve been up to and it’s a unique way to capture all of the craziness we do on a regular basis! Chicago_Cindys_Drink

Here are our past videos if you want to catch up!

Rainbow_Cone_Chicago-2Today we’re back with our spring video. Most of it was shot here in Chicago, but we did sneak in a few shots from Bridget & Matt’s spring break trip to Washington D.C. We’ve got shots from some of the DIY projects we did this spring, behind-the-scenes from our news segment, and breathtaking views of our favorite city!

Spring Video 2017

We hope you enjoyed this little snapshot of the last few months. With some fun summer trips coming up, we’re even more excited to showcase what’s ahead for us behind-the-scenes of The DIY Playbook. Casey_bridget_Sig


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10 thoughts on “Spring Video 2017

  1. Trang

    What a fun spring and Chicago was beautiful this spring. Have a great trip to Iceland….looking forward to the summer video.

    1. DIY Playbook

      Thanks Trang! We were lucky to have such beautiful weather here in Chicago throughout the Spring. Hoping the same goes for summer, fall & winter. #fingerscrossed

  2. Kerri Hansen

    I love these videos you guys put together! It makes me think that I should create these for my family, such a great way to combine all the little videos I take of our special and everyday moments. Did you guys use your DSLR’s to record the footage or your iphones? Would love a tutorial! 😀😉

    1. DIY Playbook

      Thanks so much Kerri! We typically do a little bit of both but mostly DSLR. That’s such a great idea to do this as a family. We’ve been doing this a little over a year and already love looking back at the old videos. Even though they are short, they do a great job of capturing what we did that season. We’re so happy we started them and now love the idea of doing them for our families someday too!

  3. Rebecca Pappas

    I LOVE your video! I’m from Chicago and miss it – this video (and you guys) made me smile the entire time I watched it. Thanks!


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Getting Real About the Blog and Our Homes


For the past 4.5 years we’ve shown you just about everything that we’ve done to our homes. From little projects (like organizing under the kitchen sink), to big projects (like Bridget’s office reveal)…you’ve really seen it all!typing_on_laptop_computer

But here’s the thing…we both live in small homes. About 1,200 square feet for each of us. And just about every nook & cranny has been touched and tweaked to get it just the way we want it. Now that doesn’t mean that there isn’t work to be done (there is always work to be done!), but that does mean that we don’t have any more rooms to reveal to you at this very moment. Are you just as sad as we are?!

What’s Next for the Blog?office-desk-bedroom-computer-planner

This reality brings us to the burning question. What does this all mean for the state of this blog? Great question. It’s one we’ve been discussing in-depth for some time now, which is why we wanted to take a time-out to bring you up-to-speed on our thoughts.

Insta-new-home-champagne-cork-keyWell first, we are excited to announce that Bridget is actively looking for a new house! She and Matt have been looking for something a tad bigger for a few months now, but just haven’t found “the one”… yet.

Bridget’s House Hunt

This is true Matt and I have been actively looking for a new house in our area for a few months now. We started “casually” looking late last year and have amped up our search to be more serious late winter/early spring. Unfortunately we haven’t had much luck. If you guys are interested I’d be more than happy to get into all the nitty-gritty details with an entire post devoted to our search so far but this post would turn into a novel if I opened that can of worms so I’ll keep it brief for now.

bridgets-first-house-fall-mums-3Long story short, we want to stay in the same area, but slightly upgrade the size of our home. However a small upgrade in our area comes with a price tag that is extremely expensive when compared to other areas.

For example, we could build a custom-house about 30 minutes away OR buy an OLD, run-down house in this area that is just slightly bigger than ours now but in worse shape… both for about the same price. The struggle is REAL, which makes the home buying process a slow one.

Bedroom-wide-bench-headboardThe great news is that we don’t have to move anytime soon! We love our house, the size is perfect for the two of us and we love our neighborhood. We definitely don’t want to rush the process and settle for something less than we love, which is why we are going with the flow and being as patient as possible. Once “the one” comes along, you guys will be the first to know! And judging by the ones we’ve seen so far… there will be plenty of DIY projects to keep us busy for years, and years, and years to come.

Casey’s Home Status

As for Finn & I, we are planning to stay put for at least another 2 years. Our place is small, but we LOVE it because it’s so convenient to get to work and we love living in the city. Plus, with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms we think we can have a baby here (not pregnant..just planning ahead!) so that buys us some extra time!

family-room-augusta-kitchen-built-insWe’ve fixed up just about every room in our Chicago condo. But if we do have a baby here, we would definitely transition the guest room into a nursery…so that would be 1 more exciting update!

Future Projects in Our Current Homes

We’ve considered re-doing our guest bathroom, specifically because Bridget & I would love to work on some of our plumbing & tiling DIY skills. However, it could be a pricey investment to make when our guest bathroom truly isn’t that bad! If Bridget still hasn’t found a home, we may add my guest bathroom to our to-do list (because we always like having a project to work on!).

master-bedroomOther than that, I plan to continue to organize, decorate, and upgrade all of the small areas of our home (& blog about all of those things!). I still want to DIY crown molding in our master bedroom and add trim around the doors in our main living area. Just small things here and there that aren’t too difficult, but would make an impact!

DIY_Curtains_Office_Bedroom-5Bridget still has quite a few things she wants to do in her house too. If Bridget doesn’t find a house anytime soon, she may need to eventually turn her 3rd room (currently a catch all from the old guest room) into a nursery. She’s not pregnant either, but it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead…right?!

office-closet-barn-doorShe also has small projects both inside and outside of her house that she would still love to tackle like hiding the A/C unit, adding a closet system in the office, replacing her fan, adding storage over the refrigerator, etc. Again there aren’t any room reveals or large makeovers on the horizon in this house, but definitely projects to keep us busy.

So Here’s the Deal…

So right now that’s where we (and the blog) stand. We LOVE all things DIY, but we don’t just want to keep redoing our rooms for the sake of blog content. That’s not who we are and that’s not who we want to be. We still hope you stick around as we continue our blog journey, even if there aren’t as many large-scale makeovers on the agenda this summer.

black-lamp-laptop-officeWe still have lots of little projects up our sleeves (like a large Chicago condo we’re helping decorate!) and some other fun lifestyle/travel content planned that we hope will inspire you!

Don’t worry we aren’t turning into full-time fashion bloggers (that is never gonna happen), but we are taking this time while Bridget hunts for a house (with lots of DIY potential) to become a little more well-rounded. That being said if there’s anything specific you’d like us to tackle, we’d love to hear your suggestions. You can drop these ideas/questions in the comment section below or email us at

Thank you!Lincoln-park-conservatory-bridget-casey

We cannot thank you enough for following along on this journey. We really do have the best readers everrrrrr. We feel so grateful to be surrounded by a community of such strong and positive people each and everyday. We may not know what room will be our next big project, but we do know that the DIY Playbook isn’t going anywhere! We love this space because of all of you and couldn’t imagine our lives any other way. Thank you for being a part of our journey.Casey_bridget_Sig



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27 thoughts on “Getting Real About the Blog and Our Homes

  1. Diana @ Bumps Along the Way

    Love the honesty and totally get the not wanting to do projects just for blog content! and it’s totally doable to live in a small space with a kid! We have about 1200 sq feet and live here with our 4 year old with no plans to move soon (I dread the thought! I love our house and neighborhood!). Definitely possible (and a good reason to not get a ton of kid gear and toys, just don’t have the space!).

    1. DIY Playbook

      Diana, so happy to hear that you can make it work so well with a child in a small space! You’re giving us both hope! Plus we love the idea of not having a ton of kid stuff everywhere!

  2. Jaclyn

    Love that you guys are so open and honest. It would be awesome in the meantime if you guys did more things like the Lowes makeovers, rookie mistake series and when your readers submit rooms for your advice. Just food for thought! Love your style 😊

  3. shawnna griffin

    hey girls- love the post! Good luck Bridget on finding a house! Just be patient and the right one will come along! Y’all have a great weekend!

  4. Trang

    Girls, I totally have a solution for your DIY itch. You can come to Ohio and help do a makeover in my tiny house! Does a basement office get your attention with low ceilings and 2 tiny windows? Challenge enough? Haha.
    So now I see why Matt and Bridget have been taking evening walks in their neighborhood!!! “Research” in your own neighborhood. 🙂
    And Casey, when you go to sell your condo, let me know. I’m dying for a place in Chicago Wicker Park area!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Trang you crack us up! Oh how we wish we could come and transform every house. Now that would be an amazing job!

      You’re so right about those evening strolls. You were onto us 🙂

  5. Hillary

    Love the honesty and integrity with your readers – you girls always do that the right way! I would love to see more commentary on decor trends, reflections on what you’ve learned in the process of DIYing your homes (like what’s worth DIYing and what’s worth buying or paying a professional to do – how do you weight the pros and cons and consider the time, money, etc. factors), general home and life organization tips (I find that my organizational systems are always changing as I try something out, realize I’m not sticking to it, try out something else, etc.), products you’re loving (DIY/home or otherwise)… and as for the house hunt, I’d even be interested in a whole series! I love looking at houses on the market and thinking about how I would update it and envision it at its best, even if its not a home I would actually choose to purchase at the end of the day!

    1. Kat Hamilton

      I LOVE the idea of when to just hire a professional. Currently my husband and I are in the midst of a room-repainting-project-gone-wrong and I’m feeling bad that we threw in the towel and hired a painter. It feels like DIY failure. But seriously, #sendhelp.

    2. Kerri Hansen

      I second everything Hillary says, its like she read my mind! I was also going to suggest that you could take more reader questions, I know you have done that in the past. I also love when you create your polyvore mood boards, You could do more of those highlighting your favorite current decor trends.

    3. DIY Playbook

      Aww, you’re so sweet! We are taking notes over here Kerri, thank you!! This feedback really helps moving forward and your support means the WORLD to us. Have a great weekend!

  6. Amanda

    How about opening it up to reader submissions? Give us a chance to show off what we’ve learned? I’m sure your readers have some nice before/after photos of their own.

  7. Debra

    How about hitting the road! Some of use could really use your help and resources in decorating. I have having a hard time making my new house my own.

  8. Bethany Silvia

    Bridget, have you ever thought about adding an addition onto your home?. You could even consider going up a level instead of building onto the side or back of your house. I’m not sure how big your lot is but that may be something to consider if you truly love the area you live in.

    1. DIY Playbook

      We have actually thought about building up, and have even had a few professionals over to get more information/general quotes. Unfortunately we still won’t have a basement if we do that, which isn’t a total deal breaker but we think it would be nice to have a basement with growing kids someday. SO in short, we probably won’t go with this option but it’s also not out of the question. Thanks so much for thinking outside of the box — love that! You’re so sweet. =)

  9. Lara Lebeck

    Love your blog and I’m actually really digging the smaller scale DIYs! I recently had a big life change and ended up in the tiniest apartment so I can only do tiny decorating things. I also love we you bring your lifestyle in and out of the home to the blog. As creepy as it sounds, I really love getting to know you both on a more personal level. And keep it coming with the Chicago recommendations! I only live four hours south and my bf lives in Chicago-land. Who knows…. maybe I’ll finally take the leap up there sometime soon. But ya’ll need some better winters! 🙂

    1. DIY Playbook

      Lara you are too sweet! And not creepy at all…hahaha! We were actually toying with the idea of doing a Chicago week on the blog in August with all of our recommendations, favorite spots, etc. So be on the lookout for that! Maybe it will convince you to move up here 😉

  10. alliferg

    Let me know if you want to do a nursery on the North Shore … you know for content! I have a big empty room, a budget and our first due in October! Enjoyed your update 🙂


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Whole30 Shopping List and Our Favorite Approved Recipes


First of all, thank you so much for all of the comments and questions about Whole30. Obviously that kind of post is a bit different from the normal content you find here on The DIY Playbook, and that can make it kinda scary to hit “publish.” But you guys were all so sweet and encouraging…thank you!casey-kitchen

Because there was so much to chat about in that post, I didn’t get to include all of our tips and the things we learned when completing the Whole30 program. Since I did a lot of internet stalking before starting our 30 days, I figured I should contribute some of our newfound knowledge and share it with all of you!Whole30 Shopping List-2

During the month of May, you would most likely find my husband and I either…

  • At the Grocery Store
  • In the Kitchen

Seriously…I feel like that’s all we did! The first trip to the grocery store to prepare our pantry and fridge was incredibly intimidating. And I’m not gonna lie…we were there probably 3x longer than a normal trip to the grocery store. We had to read the back of every single package to make sure it was Whole30 approved, and that took quite a bit of time. (Plus…we weren’t exactly feeling our best after our last night out on the town for tacos & cocktails. Yeeesh. Not the best idea before starting the plan!)mike-finn-kitchen-whole30

Luckily, things got quite a bit easier over the next few weeks and we turned into grocery store pros. We hit up Costco twice over the 30 days, Trader Joe’s a handful of times, and then mostly our local grocery store (Mariano’s.) Here’s what we would stock up on each time.


Costco really came in handy for us because we went through so much produce every single week.  Before Whole30, we would never buy produce or eggs from Costco because it would go bad by the time we got through it all. But on Whole30 we continuously went through produce and eggs so buying in bulk was well worth it!la-croix-tangerine

We also stocked up on a lot of cooking staples on our first trip to Costco. The prices of avocado oil, ghee, mayo, marinara, and salsa made it an easy choice! Plus they lasted throughout the entire 30 days (& beyond!).

aidells-chicken-sausageCostco Shopping List

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Berries
  • Cauliflower Rice
  • Red Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Wholly Guacamole Packs (our favorite thing to buy. We would each have 1-2 a day with meals!)
  • Aidell’s Chicken & Apple Sausage
  • Frozen Tilapia
  • Frozen Chicken Breasts
  • Frozen Broccoli
  • Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa
  • Avocado Oil Mayo
  • Avocado Oil
  • Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce
  • La Croix
  • Ghee
  • Eggs (3 dozen)
  • Pistachios
  • Canned Tuna
  • Canned Salmon

Trader Joe’scutting-fruit-vegetables

We love Trader Joe’s, but don’t have one near us so we don’t hit it up as often as we’d like. But I did stop in once to get some grocery staples.

  • Almond Butter
  • Lara Bars (no peanut butter or chocolate ones!)
  • Coconut Milk
  • Coconut Cream
  • Raw Almonds
  • Coconut Oil
  • Kalamata Olives


I was at the grocery store every weekend, and then would stop in about 1x during the work week to grab even more produce. We would get recipe specific items here and other produce that we didn’t need to buy in bulk.

  • Mushrooms
  • Herbs
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Bananas
  • Onions
  • Green Onion
  • Lemons
  • Garlic
  • Baby Spinach
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Red & Green Peppers
  • GTS Kombucha (literally our favorite drink. We tried just about every flavor!)
  • Steak
  • Ground Turkey
  • Fresh Chicken Breasts
  • Tessemae’s Dressings (love their ranch!)
  • Coconut Aminos

Food Prepvegetables-eggs-frittata

We spent most of the day on Sundays making our breakfasts and lunches for the week. Picture a crazy messy kitchen, chopping vegetables, and the oven continuously in use!frittata-skillet

Here’s what we would typically get ready for the week…

  • Chopped Fruit: Berries, watermelon, cantaloupe
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • Roasted Red Potatoes
  • Roasted Broccoli
  • Ground Turkey with Peppers & Onions
  • Grilled Chicken Breasts
  • Grilled Steak
  • Baked Tilapia
  • Cauliflower Rice
  • Breakfast Frittata (more info below)
  • Wash all veggies
  • Dozen hard-boiled eggs

Favorite Recipesfrittata-whole30

Before shopping for the week, we would sit down and chat about our schedule and which nights we wanted to try to make new recipes. We typically had the same thing for breakfasts and lunches, and then would try new things for dinner. I turned to Pinterest and blogs to find things that looked delicious, and was never disappointed! Here are a few recipes we tried throughout our Whole30.


I hope this list helps you out if you’re tackling your own Whole30. And even if you’re not doing the program, hopefully it helps you add some new foods & recipes to your cooking repertoire! casey_sig

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11 thoughts on “Whole30 Shopping List and Our Favorite Approved Recipes

  1. Lucy

    I go to the Mount Prospect Costco and I haven’t seen the Aidell’s chicken and apple sausage. Grr! I think they’d be perfect for my family as a quick lunch/dinner or swimming/beach snack. Our Costco W30 favorites are the guacamole salsa (put it on all the things!) and frozen (and cooked!) grass fed burgers. Also, I’m fairly certain the Kirkland organic marinara has no sugar and is compliant. But, Rao’s IS pretty amazing so there’s that.

    1. DIY Playbook

      We’ve found it at Mariano’s too! Most of the ones at Costco aren’t compliant, which is such a bummer! But sometimes Costco does have it. Thanks for the tips about the other items…gonna have to check them out.

  2. Trang

    Thanks for sharing the recipes. I’ve Pinned the salmon cakes and the lettuce wraps to try these versions! Happy Friday; have an awesome weekend!

  3. Kathleen Czapla McSweeney

    Great post… did a Whole30 in May as well and loved the results. Its an amazing way to eat and live.


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How I Survived my First Whole30 Experience


Let’s go back in time to the end of April. I had just celebrated my 29th birthday with lots of cocktails and dinners out on the town. Of course my birthday celebration was a ton of fun, but it left me feeling kinda icky. After too many months of dining out, drinking, and grabbing quick snacks (instead of eating real meals) I was run down, exhausted, bloated, and not feeling my best. I was ready for a change.casey-athleta-workout-leggings

I knew I wanted to feel better, but honestly I had no idea where to start. That’s when I started looking into Whole30. If you’re not familiar, then you can read more about it here. Essentially it’s 30 days where you cut out all processed foods. No dairy, no legumes, no whole grains (shocking..I know!), no alcohol, no sugar. Here’s a list of the official rules. If you accidentally consume any of the aforementioned, you start over back at day 1. While it may sound extreme, it’s really a way to “reset” your body and learn how to incorporate whole foods into your everyday life.

I’d seen other people complete the Whole30, but I honestly never thought I could do it. I figured I’d start and then quit after a few days. But I’m happy to report that I actually succeeded, and if I can do it…anyone can do it!All about Whole30

Here’s what I learned over the course of those 30 days…

You Need a Buddymike-finn-kitchen-whole30

I enlisted my husband, Finn, to do the Whole30 with me and let me just say that there is absolutely no way I would have made it without him. Having a buddy right there by your side is crucial. And if you live with someone (husband, partner, roommate), it’s a 100x easier to do it together. You can rid the house of everything that is non-compliant (a Whole30 term we used way too often), and stock up on approved food together.chop-peppers

Having someone to talk to about the process with was also amazing. We’d vent to one another about our cravings, discuss how we felt everyday, and grocery shop together side-by-side each week. So if you’re thinking about doing it, try not to go it alone!

Read the Book

fruit_bowl_aboveIf you’re serious about Whole30, then I definitely suggest you buy the book (It Starts with Food) and read it about a week before starting. (Pssst…this is in no way sponsored, at all. Whole30 has no clue who we are!) The book is chock full of information and will give you some context as to why certain foods are allowed and others are not. Every time I’d be tempted to eat something on the non-compliant list, I’d remember the information about why that particular food isn’t great for me and I’d feel a little bit better about passing.

Also, the internet will be your lifesaver! There are tons of Whole30 forums if you have any questions about things to buy or things to eat. Just type your question into google and you’re bound to find lots of great answers. And don’t forget to utilize Pinterest! I found some great recipes that way which kept our dinners interesting!

Be Prepared to Cookcutting-fruit-vegetables

I am not a cook. At all. Before Whole30, I’d often have dinners of yogurt, toast, or oatmeal (clearly…breakfast is my specialty). I never cooked anything else. I cooked more in the past 30 days than I have in my entire life. That is no exaggeration.

casey-kitchenI was always chopping and roasting some sort of vegetable, and would help Finn with our food prep on Sundays. While I still don’t love cooking (and I probably never will), I did learn a few cooking techniques and go-to recipes.

Over the course of our 30 days we ate out 1 time…at Whole Foods before seeing a movie (where we brought our own Kombucha & pistachios. Definitely not the same as buttery popcorn!). You will be preparing 99.9% of your meals at home, which means you will be cooking whether you like it or not.

Your Kitchen Will ALWAYS be Messy

chopping-peppersWhen you only use your kitchen a few nights a week, it’s easy to keep it pristine. Well…that pretty little kitchen was nowhere in sight during the month of May. When you have to eat 3 home cooked meals a day (per person), your kitchen is constantly in use. We ran our dishwasher at least once a day, and I felt like I was constantly washing dish towels and spraying down our countertops.

Get Ready to Grocery Shop…Constantlygrocery-store-costco-cart

When I wasn’t cooking or doing dishes, you could find me at the grocery store. Finn & I did a big grocery store trip every weekend, but midway through the week we would usually run out of fresh produce and need to go back for more. Between Trader Joe’s, Mariano’s, & Costco…we spent a lot on groceries this month.

Certain Foods Make Me Feel Yucky

breakfast-yogurt-coffeeWhen you’re eliminating so many foods from your diet, you’re able to take note of how your body feels when off of certain foods. I considered myself to be a healthy eater before doing Whole30. I don’t eat red meat or pork, and greek yogurt is one of my favorite foods. But after eating (& thriving) off of protein & vegetables for 30 days, I now realize that some of those “healthy” foods I ate before weren’t making me feel great. My morning greek yogurt and coffee with cream was upsetting my tummy. Those protein bars that I’d scarf down after workout class had way too many preservatives and sugar in them.

When we cleaned our fridge & pantry before starting, we threw out so many items that I never even realized were bad. It’s crazy how sugar is in everything…even things that aren’t sweet! This experience has made me much more aware of how food makes me feel, instead of just how it tastes.

I Was Never Hungry

frittata-recipeYou usually think of a “diet” and automatically assume you’ll be starving and depriving yourself. I never ever felt hungry during the month of May. Did I have cravings? Yes. But I was always eating lots of healthy food to keep me satiated.

One of the cool things about Whole30 is that it isn’t about counting calories or allowing yourself to only eat a certain amount of food. Instead you eat to give your body energy. I now view meals as fuel, instead of a treat and that is really freeing.

Structure Works for Me

casey-running-chicagoI really liked how black and white everything was over the 30 days. You eat lots of amazing healthy foods, and you’re not allowed to eat the other things whatsoever. There are no cheat days. There is no allowing yourself just 1 bite of this or that. It’s cut and dry. That structure made it really easy to say “no.”

I Have Willpoweryoga-casey-workout

I used to tell myself I wouldn’t drink during the week, and then I’d find myself agreeing to go to a happy hour. Or I’d tell myself I wouldn’t eat past 8pm, only to find myself sitting on the couch eating snacks and watching TV with my husband. I had good intentions, but my follow-through wasn’t there. Plus it can be extra hard when you get free lunch, snacks, fro yo, and lattes at work all day long. #torture

After following something for 30 days, I now know that I am capable of a lot more than I thought. I can follow a program and I can quit making excuses. I was crazy proud of myself for making it through and that gives me more confidence to make healthier choices moving forward. And if I can make it through this photo shoot without eating any of the props or sipping the wine…then I have some pretty damn good willpower if I do say so myself!

MY RESULTScasey-chicago-yoga-mat-athleta

So now what you really want to know…how much weight did I lose?! Well, I’ll first start off by saying that you are not allowed to weigh yourself at all over the course of the 30 days. Instead you’re supposed to focus on how good you feel and your “non-scale victories.” While it was hard not to hop on the scale, I understand why that’s a rule. If the numbers don’t budge, that can be discouraging and may make you want to quit. Plus, at the end of the day if you have more energy, clearer skin, and feel amazing…does that little number really matter? yoga-casey-chicago

But I will say that I did lose 6 lbs and I feel great. That might not sound like a lot, but my body composition changed so much…especially my stomach and chest. I wish I would have measured myself before, because I feel like I lost inches all over! Clothing that was a little tight is now loose on me, and that’s just about the best feeling ever. I also feel like I lost some fat that was hanging onto my stomach for far too long. It just feels a lot flatter and less bloated.

I really don’t want to dwell on the weight loss though, because the other victories are what I’m really excited about. I slept phenomenally well throughout the 30 days…like seriously would fall asleep in 5 minutes flat and wake up a couple of minutes before my alarm raring to go. I had sustained energy all day long…no afternoon slump. My skin was clear and my head was too. Overall I just felt great. That alone makes me want to give up sugar!

Now What?sweater-leggings-workout-casey

Navy Leggings // Gym Shoes // Comfiest Sweater Ever! // Workout Tank

So now what?! Well, Whole30 has a “re-introduction” phase where you slowly bring old foods back into your diet to see how they make you feel. I will say that I’m really looking forward to vanilla creamer in my morning coffee, along with some champagne on the weekends. Other than that…there’s not much that I just HAVE to have!leggings-workout-gym-shoes

I think I’ll do 80/20…where I follow a fruit/veggie/protein/healthy fats diet most of the time, and  then splurge about 20% of the time. We’ll see how it goes…I’m planning to just take it one day at a time.

This has turned into a novel all about myself, so I better wrap it up. I’m planning to write another post next week with grocery stores tips and some of our favorite recipes. Hopefully it will come in handy if you’re planning your own Whole30, or if you just want to add some healthy meals to your repertoire. Let me know if you have any other questions! I can always add some more blog posts about my experience if you’re interested! casey-yoga-chicago

So I’ll leave you with this. If you’re unhappy with the way you feel…only you can change that! You’re strong and you’re capable of a lot more than you may realize. casey_sig

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14 thoughts on “How I Survived my First Whole30 Experience

  1. H Buchanan

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve been reading the book and gearing up to start my first Whole 30 and I love hearing about other peoples experiences!

    1. DIY Playbook

      That is awesome! You are taking all the right first steps…read the book and get all prepped before day 1. So excited to hear how you like it!

  2. Erin

    i did whole30 in january. and surprisingly i made it through the whole month because like you — I LOVED having my greek yogurt as my nightly treat. I need to get back into the whole no treat/snack thing at night. the thing i finally got past was not having to have something
    “breakfast”y for breakfast. i had sweet potatoes, chicken sausage and
    roasted veggies for breakfast, that really was delicious every morning.

    I definitely did feel that my stomach was a lot flatter after doing the whole30. it’s really hard to maintain the mentality of whole30 after just in the sense of oh but i want to try this. and traveling at least once or twice a month has wreaked havoc on my eating.. NEED TO GET BACK TO good fresh healthy foods!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Erin, we are on the same page! The 30-days of saying “no” isn’t that bad, but then after with travel, vacations, etc…it makes it a heck of a lot harder! For me, it’s good to know that now I know how good it feels to eat that way (and if I’m ever eating crap for too long!) I can jump back on for a week or so and feel better!

  3. Kerri Hansen

    Wow, well done you (and Finn!) for completing this challenge! It is truly inspiring! Food has been a major source of stress for me for the past few years because I have 3 kids and we have a pretty busy schedule, and as we all know, eating healthy is more work! And more expensive! 2 out of 3 of my kids have had some serious health challenges and after years of Dr’s appointments that gave me no insight into why my girls were sick all of the time, I turned to a naturopath for help, and big surprise, so many of my kids struggles came down to food.! Dairy for my middle daughter and gluten for the other, eliminating those things had a major positive impact on their overall health. It has really influenced the way we eat in our family. What I find hard is that food is such a central part of our culture, especially with kids. It’s manageable when we are at home, but parties, travel and school functions are hard! I have been learning a lot about the negative impact of sugar but also carbs, which the body turns into sugar. I am trying to be mindful about this when planning meals and making food choices. I find the relationship between what we eat and how we feel absolutely fascinating so thank you so much for sharing your experience and as, always for your honesty!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Kerri, wow I can’t even imagine having to consider so many differing diets and nutrition needs. It was hard enough with just two of us for 30 days. But you’re so right…it truly is crazy how food makes such a huge impact on how we feel! I too find it fascinating and will now be really thinking about the things I put into my body and how they in turn make me feel!

  4. Pam

    Congrats on completing the challenge. I try to stay on the 80/20 rule. Like you I used to eat plain greek yogurt, but I have mostly cut out dairy completely and I do feel better. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Kayla

    My husband and I did Whole30 in May, too! I feel like I could have written this post myself 😉 We are also going to try the 80/20 rule from now on. 30 days is just too long without wine or ice cream in my opinion 🙂 Looking forward to more posts on your experience! Congrats on successfully completing Whole30!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Totally agree with you Kayla! Good to challenge yourself for 30 days, but it’s a loooong time without an indulgence here and there. We’re happy to be back to adding in a few not-so-good-for-us items every now and then 🙂

  6. Trang

    80/20 is the key to success! Along with regular exercise. So happy the weather is good now to get out and be active. I think aside from the ‘no alcohol’, the tough part for me would be eliminating grains. Come on, I’m Asian! Rice is a staple. LOL My rice cooker won’t know what to do if it doesn’t get used daily.

    1. DIY Playbook

      Literally laughing out loud over here, Trang! That is hilarious! And agree with you about the exercise outside…so much better to be out and about getting some sunshine while you run!

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Craigslist 101


Craigslist. It’s a website that has been around for quite some time, but I’ve only really used it in the last few years. Once the DIY bug bit me, I was eager to sell items that I didn’t love and find new items to repurpose and add to our home.

That’s where Craigslist comes in handy. It’s a great tool to get some cash for items you no longer want in your house, and it’s equally as awesome to find amazing furniture on a budget.

laptop-blanket-chairBut even though Craigslist can be incredibly convenient…it’s also overwhelming if you’ve never used it before. Today we’re going to break down our tried & true tips for buying and selling on Craigslist.


I must first start off by saying that my husband, Finn, is a Craigslist genius. He has sold so many items on Craigslist over the past few years, and is always excited to see how much money he can make with items we no longer want (like our 6-year-old white couch that we sold for $750!). If I’m no longer in love with a piece, I’ll have Finn list it and we then use the money to purchase something we both truly love!

This has come in handy for our moms who are both currently downsizing. Finn has sold dozens of pieces of furniture for them. They’re excited to be relieved of so much “stuff”, but are even happier to make some cash to put into their new homes!

Good Photographycanon-camera-photography-equipment

Photography is key when it comes to Craigslist because items are immediately judged by their appearance. I think we’ve had so much success on Craigslist because I take time to take a wide variety of pictures that Finn can post with the listing.


My Mom’s Bookcases – Sold on Craigslist in 1 Day!

If you have a DSLR camera…use it! If not, then your phone camera should work just fine. Just be sure to shoot during the day so the lighting is just right. Then capture different angles, close-ups of details on the piece, and a few wide shots. The pictures are probably the most important part of the sale!

Detailed Descriptions

Coffee_Table_Family_room_Laptop_coffeeAfter the photos, the descriptions are the next most important part. This is your time to really sell the item! Channel your inner salesman and highlight all of the best assets of the piece. The more detail, the better! It’s also important to be honest about the condition. If there are flaws, be upfront about them (and adjust the price accordingly).

While you want to include lots of details about the item, don’t include your phone number, address, or personal email in the listing. Once you’ve established communication with a potential buyer, you can then chat over the phone and start to give more of your personal information.

Include Measurementsstanley-tape-measure

In the description, include all of the relevant measurements. If you don’t…people will ask for these details. So you’re better off putting them in there right from the start.

List Items Together

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 1.14.16 PMThis is a tip that was new-to-me, but it’s a good one! If you’re selling multiple items then you might want to make a page that includes all of the listings. You can put the photos for every item in the listing, along with the exact titles that buyers can search in the description. That way if someone is coming to pickup 1 item, they can see if there is something else they want to get as well. We did that when selling all of the furniture at my mom’s house, and it was helpful so people could see all of the items available.

To do this, make sure you’re using the same verbiage in all of your listings (Ex. Casey-Chicago-2017). Then in your description tell potential buyers that you are selling multiple items and if they search “Casey-Chicago-2017” they can see everything that is available.

Get Ready for a Flooded Inboxtyping_on_laptop_computer-2

Don’t expect to upload items to Craigslist and then ignore your email for a few days. Your inbox will be flooded with questions about your items and potential buyers wanting to snag them! Be prompt when replying so you don’t lose any customers.


When it comes to Craigslist, safety is the name of the game. If you don’t feel comfortable having someone come to your home to pickup an item…then meet them in a public place or at a police station. Many police stations offer “safe zones” for this exact purpose! Or if they are coming to your home to get a large item, make sure you speak with them on the phone first. Also have someone come over to be there when the buyer arrives, and tell a neighbor or friend what is happening. You can’t be overly cautious, so take those extra steps to stay safe.

If you want to put the pick-up dates and times in your listing, go for it! That way the buyer knows right away that they need to be available during those specific times to pick it up.


I must say that we do far more selling on Craigslist than buying. But we’ve still found some wonderful gems for our home on Craigslist over the years. And even if I’m not always buying, I’m definitely always looking, because you never know what might be posted!

Try Multiple Search Wordsguest-bedroom-nightstand

Listings are only as good as their titles, so remember that when searching. If you’re looking for a mid century nightstand. Try typing in “MCM”, “vintage”, “small dresser”, etc. instead of just typing in “nightstand.” Keep in mind that sometimes people make spelling mistakes, so searching for commonly misspelled words is also a good way to find those hidden gems!

Bring Cash

Money-Cash-CoinsHit up the ATM before picking up your item because cash is king when it comes to Craigslist! Also bring the exact amount, just in case they can’t offer you any change.

If you find something you love, but it’s a bit overpriced, try negotiating! Often times people are just excited to be relieved of items, so it’s worth a shot to offer a lower number. Just don’t offer something that is so low it’s insulting.

Figure out Transportation

Items outside of TruckMost of the time, you’ll be picking up the item and loading it yourself. So come prepared! Bring some extra muscle and make sure your vehicle is large enough! We’ve also heard of people using the company, Dolly. Think of it like Uber, but instead of transporting people the vehicle transports your stuff!

It’s Okay to Walk Away

If you go to pickup your beloved item and it’s not everything you hoped it would be….walk away.  The seller may not be happy, but if they weren’t transparent in their listing about the condition of the piece it’s a-okay to say “no thanks” and walk away from the sale. It’s your money and you only want to bring items into your home that you truly love anyway!

work_hard_be_nice_laptop_deskNow I know I’m probably missing a lot of tips, so I’d love to hear about your Craigslist experience! How do you find the best deals? How do you make the most money? What’s the coolest thing you’ve found using Craigslist?


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6 thoughts on “Craigslist 101

  1. Trang

    I’ve found better luck through Facebook marketplace and groups like garage sale in your local town/suburb. I used Craigslist years ago with success, but I feel more people are on Facebook now so my stuff has sold quicker and responses are almost instantaneous.


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Happy Hour No. 10


To us, Happy Hour is a time to sit back, relax, and catch up with friends. It’s a time to chat about everything and anything, and that’s exactly what we bring to The DIY Playbook’s monthly Happy Hour.Bedroom-nightstand-ccoffee-mugThese monthly posts are a chance to catch up with friends and bring just a little extra happy to your day. So grab your coffee (or champagne) and let’s catch up!

Love It


    • Finn & I officially booked out trip to Italy in September, so I’ve been on the lookout for things to get to prep for our trip. These shoes are super cute and I’m thinking they’ll be good for walking all around. Plus you know all about my recent love for the color blush! My plan is to break them in now so they’re ready to go by the fall. (Fit Tip: Buy at least a 1/2 size up! These babies are tight).
    • Speaking of traveling, I also got these portable chargers for Bridget & I in Iceland. Knowing us we’ll be snapping pics and posting on Instagram throughout our entire trip, and we certainly don’t want a dead phone to stop us from capturing every detail!
    • I’ve been listening to the podcast “How I Built This” on NPR and it’s incredibly inspiring. If you’re looking for something new to listen to…check it out! sephora-lip-stain-1
    • I introduced Bridget to this lip stain from Sephora, but I just picked up a new color that she has been wearing and loving. It’s the color “Sweet Raspberry” and it’s the perfect pop of pink! Not over the top “Barbie”, but fun for summer and looks great on blondes. Plus you can’t beat that $14 price tag.white-jeans-blush-shoes-9


      • Splurged on this bathing suit from Athleta! I love it because it’s reversible, black/white, and very sturdy. I love the price of cheap bathing suits, but hate how they fall apart or look cheap after a few washes. I’m looking forward to wearing this quality suit over the summer (& in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland!)glasses-office-accessory-decor
      • Saved over $300 by buying my glasses from Warby Parker instead of at my eye doctor, and I can’t say enough about how much I LOVED their process. I brought in my prescription and was able to choose a new pair, add my prescription to the pair, and have them shipped to my house all within 15 minutes! My glasses were $99 (everything included) and they accepted payment from my medical insurance, which was a welcome surprise! To celebrate my savings I bought this quirky accessory from World Market so I don’t lose my glasses. I seriously need one of these in every room of my house!Bedroom-art-minted-headboard-round-mirror
      • I was looking for a pop of subtle color in the bedroom and landed on this bo-ho inspired pillow for the new season.
      • Matt picked out pineapple doormat at Target and I couldn’t really blame him because who can resist this adorable and colorful print?!
    • Bought these sandals from J. Crew Factory because they can work with just about any outfit this summer! I’ll keep you guys updated on how comfortable they
      • Speaking of summer, I am obsessed with the warmer temps here in Chicago! Matt and I were out for a walk the other night and I picked these fresh lilacs, which made our house smell so good. I also found a $14 fiddle leaf on sale at Home Depot and I am determined to keep him alive this time around. #wishmeluckfiddle-leaf-porch-basket

      Link It

          • This round of the One Room Challenge did not disappoint. Some of our favorites were this pretty nursery from Chris Loves Julia and this stunning bathroom from Bre Purposed.
          • Looking for outdoor inspiration? We love seeing updates from two of our favorite backyard projects last year — Julia’s and Kim’s! Both of these talented ladies happen to also be the host of the “A Night In” series that we were honored to take part in this month. Thanks for having us ladies!
          • This black & white home remodel is stunning.
          • We may have shared this article about successful relationships here on the blog before. But it’s so good it deserves another highlight!
          • And speaking of bold color, this moody bedroom makeover is so different and SO cool!
          • We’re headed to Iceland toward the end of June and would LOVE your recommendations!! We’ve been doing a lot of research lately and will definitely keep you updated on our travels on our Instagram and here on the blog when we return. But if you’ve been there recently, we’ll take ALL the tips we can get!

      What’s New?!


      May was an interesting month in the Finn household as both my husband and I completed Whole30. I’m planning to publish a post about our entire experience on the blog this Friday, but for those of you who are not familiar…it’s 30 days of no processed foods, dairy, sugar, or alcohol. cutting-fruit-vegetables

      It’s intense…but it was also really amazing. Again, I’ll have alllllll the details on Friday but it was by far the most exciting thing happening to us this month (which is kinda sad. haha!). Because of Whole30 we spent most of our days cooking and hanging out at home during May, so not too much to share on my end!

      Box and TruckHowever both of my brothers, my mom, and my mother-in-law are all moving in the next 2 weeks! It’s just a coincidence that everyone seems to be finding a new place to live all at the same time.jan-purse-dress

      My mom is downsizing from her suburban home, to come live close to all of her kids in the city…and we couldn’t be more excited to have her close! But her big beautiful house is full of furniture, so we’ve been helping her purge and sell 80% of her stuff. It has been a lot of work, but I’m really happy for her. Plus it made for the perfect Mother’s Day to have all of her kids helping her pack everything up. She loves to put us to work on her special day.

      And my mother-in-law is moving to Houston so we’ve been helping her as well. It’s just so crazy that it’s all happening at once, but in a few months everyone will be settled in their new homes.


      My biggest piece of news (and by far the most exciting for me!) is that yesterday was my LAST DAY OF WORK for the summer. I’m officially on break from the classroom until mid-August and I could not be more excited for the next two and a half months.

      beverly-shores-summer-ice-cream-coneLike we mentioned, Matt and I are heading to Iceland in a few weeks with Casey & Finn and were so excited about that trip. Outside of that, we’re looking forward to relaxing, spending time with family/friends, and enjoying the sunshine! Matt and I sat down to make a summer bucket list so we can keep track of everything we want to do and make sure we actually follow through in taking these little adventures. It’s one of our favorite summer traditions, especially since we are both home for the summer and have lots of time to explore new places.

      laptop-black-lamp-roses-flowers-officeThis past month has been busy with juggling the end of the school year and a lot of blog work. Juggling both is hard so the summer will also be the perfect time to focus all of my attention on the blog, something I’m REALLY excited about!

      Chicago_River-sunset_boatOther than working, I also carved out family time for Mother’s Day, my mom’s birthday, and a night out with my college friends. As busy as things get around here, it’s always so nice to unplug and recharge with family and friends. And this Chicago weather has made these fun times even better!

      tulips-couch-coffee-tableWe hope you all had an amazing May! I don’t know about you guys but we’re ready to plant our flowers, refresh our patios, and get ready for all that summer has to offer.bridget_and_casey_sig

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13 thoughts on “Happy Hour No. 10

  1. Austin Brewer

    Loved Happy Hour, as usual! Just a heads up, the link to the blush shoes says item could not be found, and the Athleta link sends you to a rug on Overstock! Ha ha. 🙂

  2. Trang

    Love this happy hour blog. Whote30 fascinates me and hubby and I were going to try it out in June. However, the no alcohol thing stumps us as we have a few events that involve that. ARGH!
    Moving in Chicago looks like it sucks. I always cringe when I see moving trucks on these streets and you have to squeeze your car past them. And if you lived on the 3rd floor, the constant up and down of lifting furniture sounds like hell. Good luck to those in your family!

    1. DIY Playbook

      I feel ya on the no alcohol. It’s tough! We basically were hermits for the entire month and avoided any outings and events. Somehow we survived!

      Moving is always sucky….but you’re right about it sucking in Chicago! When we moved the truck took up the entire alley and then if people have to get by, you have to move it. It’s a pain!

  3. Kerri Hansen

    Bridget enjoy your well deserved summer vacay! I can imagine how good you must feel! We still have a month to go here in Canada and everyone-teachers, students and even us parents- is ready for a break! Your trip to Iceland sounds amazing, even better because you guys are traveling together! Casey, I can’t wait to read your post on the Whole 30. I wish I had the discipline to try this out! I love the idea of “eating clean” but I couldn’t give up my coffee with cream and sugar every morning!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Thanks so much Kerri! It truly is an amazing feeling. Another month sounds hard right about now!

      We are looking forward to Iceland and can’t wait to blog all about it! We figure now is the best time to travel together before any kiddos start happening 🙂

  4. Jessica

    I had one of the best meals of my life at Grill Market in Reykjavik. Make reservations for one evening, I PROMISE you will love it.

    1. DIY Playbook

      The Grill Market was on our list but we were;t sure if it would be worth the bigger price-tag…. thanks so much for the recommendation! “One of the best meals of your life” –> really sold us!! Thanks Jessica =)

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Memorial Day Sales


We know that it’s Saturday, which is not a typical posting day here on the DIY Playbook, but we wanted to check-in with some amazing Memorial Day sales before it was too late. We also want everyone to have a chance to unplug and enjoy their day off on Monday, so we decided to post today instead of on Monday.

American FlagSt. Joe's Michigan Exterior Home

Shopping with Intention

Today we are rounding up ALL of the amazing Memorial Day deals around the web AND dishing on some of our favorite finds on Nordstrom’s Half Yearly Sale. You know we are not about “buying just to buy” so we definitely aren’t encouraging you to go out and buy all the things just because they’re on sale. We are sharing these deals in case you had your eyes on something special or have a pricey item on your shopping list that you haven’t gotten around to buying just yet.fourth of july instagram

We’ve found that this weekend offers some of the lowest prices, so we’re a little more likely to finally pull the trigger knowing that it will equal extra savings in the long run! And let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love SAVING?!

Nordstrom’s Half Yearly Sale – By CategoryNordstrom_Half_yearly_Sale_2017

So without further ado, let’s start out with our favorites from Nordstrom’s BIG SALE (by category) and then we’ll dive into the deals around the web.


I hardly ever buy new watches, usually I find one I love and wear it for a couple of years. But whenever I am in the market for a new watch I wait until one of these Nordstrom sales because I can score them on sale. After two years with the one I wear on repeat, I’m thinking of replacing it with this one.

I don’t need another pair of sunglasses this year but these are so cute… and 40% off!?! white-kendra-scott-necklace

A knock-off version of Casey’s favorite Kendra Scott necklace is on sale for $11!! Or you can snag the real thing here (but it’s not on sale).

Other Accessories that caught our eye:


casey-blush-blazer-11These nude block heels are so cute and very versatile! Casey gets a lot of use out of her super similar pair.

athleisure_nike-gymshoesWe get a lot of questions about these gym shoes and this almost identical pair (in black + pink) are on sale. We love them!

Other Shoes that caught our eye:

Women’s Clothing

black-zella-leggingsWe love Zella because their products are high quality, they’re comfortable and they LAST! These leggings are adorable…and you just can’t beat the price!!

Crushing on this jumpsuit, so adorable!

You know we can’t resist stripes & this comfy striped tee for under $20 is calling our name.

How cozy does this peplum top look? Perfect for a chilly summer evening…and only $30!

Other Items that caught our eye:


Both of our husbands need a few more layers for our upcoming trip to Iceland and this North Face jacket for under $100 may make the cut! I’m sure either of them would get lots of use out it all fall/winter long. Or this Nike hoodie that is a bit more lightweight.

We’re loving this option too! Plus North Face rarely goes on sale, so this is an awesome time to buy.

Ray Bans for only $82! That is a steal.

Because our wonderful hubbies are constantly stealing our no-show socks, we are buying them some of these. 50% off and $5 for a set?! Yes!

Other Men’s Items that caught our eye:

Other Holiday Sales

  • Wayfair: up to 70% off!
  • Target: Up to 30% Patio Furniture/Accessories with an extra 10% off with code SPRING
  • World Market: Extra 15% off and free shipping on $150+ with code MAYSAVE (note: this deal ends Monday!). Plus select patio furniture on sale
  • Gap: 50% off all full price items with an extra 20% off with code MORE (this top is too cute!)
  • Lulu & Georgia: 15%, 20%, 25% off depending how much you spend with codes HEYSUMMER15, HEYSUMMER20 & HEYSUMMER25
  • Pottery Barn: 10-25% off your order depending what you spend with code SAVEMORE.
  • Banana Republic: 40% your entire purchase with code BRSUMMER
  • Crate & Barrel: Up to 40% off furniture
  • Serena & Lily: 25% off everything with code AMAZING
  • West Elm: Up to 30% off furniture with code MORELOVE and free shipping on select furniture
  • LOFT: 40% off EVERYTHING (this dress would be gorgeous for a summer wedding!)
  • J. CREW: 30% your entire purchase with code SWEET
  • Shutterfly: 30% off Photobooks
  • Macy’s: Free Shipping on orders over $49 and lots of items on sale for Memorial Day
  • Overstock: 10-20% off and 25% off select Safavieh rugs!
  • Nordstrom Rack: Take an additional 25% off Clearance and free shipping over $100

A Sincere ‘Thank You’Chicago_Odyssey_insta-5

At surface level, Memorial Day means the unofficial kick-off of summer here in Chicago. The weather is finally a little warmer (although this year not exactly the case), plants are just starting to sprout ,and the excitement of an entire summer of activities is ahead. But we all know that Memorial day means SO much more than this excitement and all of these retail sales. It’s a day to stop and remember those who have fought for our country and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy the freedoms we so often take for granted.

Washington_DC_Travel-16To both our soldiers and the loved ones back home supporting these soldiers, we sincerely thank you. This weekend we plan to unplug, take a break from the blog, and celebrate all of the amazing privileges in our lives that are only possible because of these heroes and their brave and supportive families.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, friends! See you back here on Tuesday.


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6 thoughts on “Memorial Day Sales

  1. Kelly

    I appreciate your note at the end. The real meaning of Memorial Day is forgotten so many times especially in the blog world. I heard about “Operation Help a Hero” at the Chicago Park District (my kids love it there!) so we will be picking up some items for that this weekend. A small way to say thank you!

    1. DIY Playbook

      Thanks so much Kelly! The “Operation Help a Hero” sounds fantastic and what a wonderful thing to do as a family. Have a great holiday!

  2. Trang

    I just bought the Roshe 2 in the grey the other week and wore it while in Chicago this past weekend. Love Roshe shoes (this is my 2nd pair).
    Unfortunately, there is no shopping for me currently. I had a blast and spent WAY too much on fun experiences as well as take home items while there. June is going to be a super boring month for us at my house. LOL.

    1. DIY Playbook

      So happy you had such a fun time in Chicago! Experiences like that are such a good way to spend that hard-earned money! Better than buying “things”!

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Happy Hour No. 9


To us, Happy Hour is a time to sit back, relax, and catch up with friends. It’s a time to chat about everything and anything, and that’s exactly what we bring to DIY Playbook’s monthly Happy Hour.happy-hour-graphicThese monthly posts are a chance to catch up with friends and bring just a little extra happy to your day. So grab your coffee (or champagne) and let’s catch up!

Love ItHow-to-arrange-tulips-8


    • When it comes to jewelry, I’m pretty minimalistic. In fact, I often wear the same few things every single day. I just added these everyday earrings (in gold) to my repertoire and I love them. Just a hint of trendy, but still simple enough to be worn with just about anything. I also picked up this cuff bracelet and I love wearing it with my gold watch!
  • Has anyone ever heard of (or used!) the product Baby Foot? It’s insane! My husband and I tried it before our Mexico trip in December and were wowed by the product. Essentially you put little booties on your feet and let them sit one night for an hour. Then a few days later all of the dead skin on your feet starts coming off…in sheets! It’s incredibly disgusting (& you have to wear socks for a week to hide your feet), but once the shedding is done your feet will be baby soft. It’s crazy and actually kinda fun. I recommend trying it out at least once. We just did our second round to get our feet ready for sandal season!balcony-wide-patio
  • We’ve busted out the grill for the season and can’t wait to start grilling on our small patio every weekend. I just got this veggie basket so we can do grilled onions and peppers. Really looking forward to those warm summer nights with home cooked dinners on the grill.



  • I splurged and bought this navy + white shirt and I LOVE it. I think I’m going to get a lot of use out of it because I can dress it up (even for work!) but also wear it very casually too (like jeans + converse casual). I’m working on a post for this staple so stayed tuned.
  • For Matt’s birthday, I got him this quarter zip*  and this pullover* (*size down)… both for our upcoming trip to Iceland! He’s also obsessed with the super comfy shirts from this site so I surprised him with one of these too. If your +1 loves the Cubs & Joe Madden as much as Matt does, these shirts are definitely worth looking into.brown-leather-jacket-with-converse-bridget-2


  • I’ve been looking for a pair of cheap of sunglasses for the summer and I finally found a pair I liked. Definitely a steal at $14! I typically LIVE in my Ray Bans (definitely worth the investment) but sometimes I want to rock a cheap pair of shades, especially if I’m going somewhere where I’m afraid they may break or get lost in the shuffle. Coffee Lipstick Bridget
  • Casey recently discovered this Sephora Lip Stain and has been insisting I try it! She says she puts it on in the morning before work and doesn’t have to re-apply ALL DAY! Then she told me it’s $14 so it’s now on my shopping list next time I’m at the mall.

Link It

  • Congrats to a fellow DIY blogger, Sarah, on her growing family. We cannot wait to see this nursery take shape.
  • A small home packed with style.
  • A 3-day kitchen makeover you have to see to believe. (And for less than $5k!)
  • Are you making these mistakes when hanging art?
  • The most fearless DIY’er we know purchased a warehouse that she is turning into her family’s home! This home journey is going to be one to watch!
  • Obsessed with this copycat art. A $3,000 piece looks almost identical for a $12?!!
  • Salon Etiquette…definitely learned a few things after this read.
  • Our girl crush on Chrissy Teigen has only grown after reading this article.DIY_Takeover_Letterfolk
  • Did you guys catch the DIY Playbook Takeover on’s Instagram account last Monday? We had way too much fun and feel so grateful for the opportunity!

Casey Updates

At the beginning of the month, we headed down to Houston to visit Finn’s sister. She is quite possibly the sweetest girl on the planet, and always likes to do holidays and birthdays up big. Since it was just Finn’s 30th she greeted us at the airport like this…


Can you even?! What an awesome surprise. We had an epic weekend packed with lots of food. I’m talking BBQ, tacos, grilled pizzas, and fresh sushi. So many memorable meals, but what made it even better was hanging out with family that we don’t get to see nearly enough. casey-finn-houston

I wore this romper for one of our dinners out on the town. It’s become a favorite of mine when traveling because you can just throw the 1 piece in your suitcase and you already have an outfit all put together! Plus, you gotta love the girly scallops! Pair it with a cute clutch, heels (these nude ones are my new spring favorites!), and jewelry and you’re good to go!fine-casey-birthday

I celebrated my 29th birthday last weekend and Finn made it extra special. We started the birthday festivities with 5 courses of cocktails at The Aviary. It was insane (definitely an experience if you like trying new drinks!)

Then last Saturday I spent the entire day with my favorite people! Bridget, Finn, & I hit up a new Hawaiian restaurant called Mahalo and split this The Big Kahuna pineapple drink. It was delicious and a wonderful way to start my 29th year.

Bridget Updates

Washington_DC_Travel-12This month has been an EXTRA busy one. April kicked off with our spring break trip to D.C., and as evidenced by this recap post, we had an absolute blast!! I was so impressed with D.C. and can’t wait to go back sometime.

How_to_install_Shiplap_Baseboard_Progress-72Right when we came back from D.C., like literally RIGHT after my bags were unpacked, I used the remainder of our spring break to finish the shiplap in the office. Although it made for a busy/messy end to the week, finishing this project was well worth it because now all of the big projects in the office are officially done. (Side note: Sharing a full post of this affordable project soon, but in the meantime you can see pictures on our Instagram page).

image1The rest of the month was a bit of a whirlwind with our news segment and a few other smaller projects we’ve been working on. Thankfully there was still some time for fun and family. For Easter my family got together for one of our favorite traditions — sunrise mass! We all roll out of bed and meet at North Ave. beach on Easter morning (around 5:30am) for mass on the beach as the sunrises. It’s such a gorgeous view watching the sunrise over the city, and being surrounded by my favorite people makes it even more special. This was Owen’s first Easter, last year we were celebrating his arrival with this Mother’s Day photo shoot:mothers_day_photo_gift_oconnor_family-005

How is he already here and crawling?!!

OwenToday’s happy hour post marks ONE month left until I’m off for the summer… just writing that seems crazy to me! Where has the time gone?! I’m SOO excited for this time off because it gives me a chance to relax (my schedule has been insanity lately as evidenced by this day-in-the-life post) and then focus more on the blog for a few months. The countdown has officially begun!ABC_7_News_Table

And before we sign off for the month, we have to stop and say thank you ALL for your endless love and support. After our news segment, we were honestly overwhelmed by all of the support we received and couldn’t wipe the smiles off of our faces because we felt so blessed. We’re not sure how we got so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing, positive, and supportive people but we never want to take it for granted. You’re amazing and fill our lives with such happiness, thank YOU!


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10 thoughts on “Happy Hour No. 9

  1. Kristen Ayotte

    What a fun airport greeting! I love people who love a celebration! 🙂 Hope you gals have a fun weekend!

  2. Katie

    I’ve totally done that baby foot thing and it is equal parts gross and amazing. I had to remember to wear fully closed shoes during the peel process…embarrassing! Bridget, thanks for that striped tank recommendation. I picked one up for summer and it’s so comfy.

  3. Trang

    OMG, I’ve been dying to go to The Aviary for years Casey. Reservations book up fast AND it’s such a commitment since you have to pay up front and set a time/date which is hard when we are there for a few days and usually wing it with our friend on the things to do/eat. I’m all about the cocktails, but is the food pairing worth it also?
    Mahalo is now on my list to check out sometime also. So much to do and so little time when in Chi-town!
    Bridget – how it possible that this school year has flown by so fast??? I’m so jealous of you and all my teacher friends for your upcoming break! Enjoy your last month.

    1. DIY Playbook

      Trang you HAVE TO GO! It was one of the coolest things I’ve done in Chicago. We did the 5 course food & drink. 3 courses would have been just as good. The food was delicious and really interesting…but we definitely left pretty hungry. We ended up going home after and ordering a pizza. hahaha!

  4. Katie

    Ok I’m a few days into my first baby foot experience and it is freaking me out! I’m holding on to the hope that my feet will be super soft after this!

    1. DIY Playbook

      haha Katie, I’m literally lol’ing over here. It is creepy isn’t it?! Don’t worry..all of the grossness will fall off and you will be left with soft feet. Just wear socks around the house for a while.

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A Day in the Life of Bridget


Last week Casey shared a glimpse into her average day and this week it’s my turn. Before we dive into my daily routine, a quick disclaimer: Please excuse some of the iPhone photos. Working in a school makes it hard to truly snap photos of my daily routine, especially since I didn’t want to include students. Although it’s far from glamorous, I’m so lucky to have this everyday routine and the chance to do what I love both during the “school day” and after.

Rise & Shine

5:30am: My alarm goes off and it’s time to start the day!

bedroom_headboard_Pillows_5:30-6:00am: Matt pops up and gets ready while I lay in bed and read through some of our new emails, catch up on the news, and check out my favorite blogs for the day. Even though my eyes are barely open, I love this time to ease into the day. Usually I’ll text Casey a few times, depending on what I find in our inbox. I know she’s still sleeping, but she’ll see it in a few minutes when she gets up!

bathroom_round_mirror6:00am: Get up and get ready. I shower at night before I go to bed and lay out my outfit so I really don’t have too much to do in the morning.  I always put on music during this time, usually using the Pandora App on my phone. Then I wash my face, brush my teeth, put on my outfit, throw on some make-up, and straighten or curl my hair. I can get ready in 20 minutes… tops.

6:30am: Sit down for breakfast. I eat greek yogurt and granola everyday and I’m trying to incorporate some water into this meal too! I also grab the lunch that Matt made me (he’s seriously the best) and we chat over breakfast.

FullSizeRender (4)6:40am: Since Matt and I work together, we drive together 95% of the time. Our ride is so stress free. We usually use that time to chat about the day and what we’re doing after work.

typing_on_laptop_computer-26:55am:  I’m an hour early for work and I’m always the first one in the office. I take this time to sit and work on my email while looking over my to-do list for that day. I tie up any leftover emails and organize all of my lessons.

IMG_50698:00 – 8:48am: I teach the Special Education Work Program during 1st hour and today we are finishing up our unit on entrepreneurship. We used some of the time today to chat about Bill Rancic and his tips for kids in business. Although none of the students know who he is, I tell him all about how he went to the same high school as them and they immediately love him and want to learn all about him.

IMG_50708:48 – 8:55am: I don’t have a classroom to call my own, so at every bell I pack up my things and head across the building for my next class. In this case I hustle through the hallway crowds and arrive at 2nd hour homeroom right as the bell rings and the pledge of allegiance starts.

*Fun Fact: The hallway pictured above is the SAME hallway where Casey & I had lockers next to each other in high school. This is where it all started and we became fast friends!

8:55 – 9:30am: This is a short homeroom and I work with a few student. I look up at the clock to find that it was already 9:29, which means it’s time to quickly pack up my bag and head across the school to 3rd hour! I literally have to power walk (sometimes run on a bad day) to get to class before the bell rings. It’s hard holding students accountable to be on time when I’m not,  so I do the best I can to be there. Flats often come in handy for this.

Flats_Shoes_Jeans_Fashion-39:40-10:25am: Made it just in time for the bell! Third hour is similar to 1st hour so I repeat the lesson (with a few changes to meet the needs of this class). I look up at the bell and realize, how is already 10:25?! And then it’s usually followed by a thought that goes something like this, “Thank goodness 3rd hour is over because I’ve had to pee since 8:30 and now I finally have the chance!” #teacherproblems

Working Lunch

FullSizeRender (1)

10:25 – 11:19am: You know you’re a teacher when your days (and lunch break) are timed to the exact minute. It’s my prep/lunch period during this time so I usually return emails, make copies, grade papers, write IEPs, or anything else that is on my to-do list that day. That’s also the time I look at my phone and see I have 6 unread texts from Casey (a welcome distraction!) During this time I’ll also shovel in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (glamorous, right?!) along with some veggies & hummus.

11:19am-12:19pm: It’s my 5th hour government class and I co-teach with one of the teachers I had in high school! Today we’re going over the political spectrum and starting to explain the difference between republican viewpoints vs. democratic viewpoints. The kids are super respectful and really curious so I leave feeling really proud of them!

FullSizeRender12:15-1:10pm: Lunch duty time! This is a time when I stand in the cafeteria and oversee a section of students. I actually like this time of the day because it forces me to unplug and just walk around. I usually chat with some of the kids in my section, but I also want to give them enough space to enjoy their lunch with friends (who wants to waste their time chatting with a teacher during lunch?!). When I’m done chatting, I’ll stand in my section and mentally review my to-do list for the rest of the day.

IMG_50711:10-2:15pm: I’m off to another classroom where I co-teach with a different government teacher. In this class we’re dissecting the preamble of the constitution. To help analyze and remember it, the students are presenting a song/dance they created of the preamble. The songs are amazing and one group chooses to rap it, which literally has me CRYING in laughter… and amazement!

FullSizeRender (2)2:15 – 3:00pm: Last but very not least, I head up to my class of the day to co-teach Economics with another teacher (and blog reader! Hey Colleen!!). The class usually flies by and before we know it, the school day is over and I’m usually thinking it’s 3:00 already?!!

After Work

3:20pm: I typically don’t stay after work to finish any additional work because I come in an hour before work and never, ever take a lunch. Skipping lunch and working through the whole day definitely makes for hectic days, but come 3:20 I’m always grateful because this usually means it’s time to head home… and start my second job of the day — blogging!

Matt and I drive home together and swap stories from our days. This is such a great time to catch up and chat about our plans for the rest of the evening. Both of us talk to our parents each day so we usually take this time call our parents and see how their days are going.

bridget-home-tour-wide-shots-family-room-kitchen-dining-103:45pm: On nice days or ones that I don’t have a ton of work to do for the blog, Matt and I will get outside and go from a 3 mile walk/run. Unfortunately I don’t always have (or make) time for this.

On those days I get home and get right on the computer to start working on the blog. I sift through our email, shoot Casey a few texts, and write/photograph anything I have. If I have to run errands for this weekend’s project, I’ll do it during this time too. Today, I’m cutting the grass. I run home, change, grab my headphones and get out to cut the grass and do some minor landscaping around the house since the start of the spring usually comes with some much-needed landscaping.

5:00pm: Dinner time. Thanks to Matt our dinner is made (and so are our lunches for tomorrow!) so we sit down and enjoy. He really is the best at allowing me to work while he takes care of A LOT around the house. Honestly, I’d probably forget to stop and eat if it wasn’t for him!

office_square-bridget5:30pm: I finish up the blog work, organize my outfit for tomorrow, straighten up the house, shower and get ready for bed. Usually Casey is getting out of work/work out class right about now, so if we have to discuss anything from the day we will chat during this time.

bedroom_headboard_Pillows_-58:45pm: I like to try to get to bed to finally relax for the day by 8:30 or 8:45pm. Partly because I like a good night’s sleep and partly because I’m exhausted. I’ll typically post my Instagram for the day in bed, text Casey a few more times, and then lay in bed to watch CNN. Gotta get that beauty rest so I’m ready to do it all over again tomorrow!

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15 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of Bridget

  1. Erin

    whoo.. this is every organizer’s dream — everything is timed! and i love that you guys drive to work together! less stressful for sure!

  2. Trang

    Man Bridget, I’m super envious of your 8:30-8:45 bed time. I need to make this a priority in my daily routine so that I am able to get up at 4:50 AM when the alarm goes off (to go to the gym before work). There are days where I just can’t muster the energy to get up. It’s because my bed time was at 11 or 11:30 PM. This week, I’ve made an extra effort to go to bed earlier (like 10 PM!) and there is definitely a noticeable difference. I got up 2 minutes on my own this morning before the alarm went off and I felt so rested. Woooohooo!
    I got my masters in education and can teach middle school Language Arts and Science, but I chose not to. I have many friends who are teachers and they told me not to do it (make the career change). I admire teachers for all their hard work and dedication. Not to mention not being able to eat lunch most times! I eat constantly throughout my day and spend the lunch hour at either Target or Marshall’s. I could save so much money if I didn’t take a lunch right?
    Anyhow, I enjoyed reading both yours and Casey’s daily life. It makes knowing you gals a bit better. Happy hump day and enjoy the rest of your week.

    1. DIY Playbook

      You’re amazing for staying up late AND getting up early to work-out. I WISH I could do that. Heck, I wish I could get up early to work out even after going to bed early. You Go Girl!

  3. Pam

    I had forgotten how a teachers’ day goes. My mom was a teacher for over 40 years (now retired). She always talked about how everything was timed down to the minute. Teachers are a true blessing and it sounds like you are a good one. Loved the post.

    1. DIY Playbook

      40 years?! That’s amazing! Since I’m so used to living on a “bell schedule” it’s so crazy to think of other jobs that do not. I always ask Casey simple questions like, “you can go to the bathroom anytime you want?!” or “you can eat whenever?!” OR you can wonder away from your desk anytime throughout the day?! Haha It’s hard to imagine all that freedom! =) Thanks for stopping, Pam!

  4. Kerri Hansen

    Wow Bridget, that is one action packed day! Who needs a gym, with all that racing around the school! I get the feeling that you are an amazing teacher, one of those caring, committed, kind teachers that change kids lives and make a huge impact on them. I have no doubt that your students heart your face and love probably love chatting with you during their lunch break. Loved the sneak peek into your day! Thanks for sharing and keep on being awesome! ❤️

    1. DIY Playbook

      Kerri, you are WAY too kind!! I love what I do and feel so grateful for the opportunity! Although it can be challenging at times, the kids are hilarious and make everyday a lot of fun!

  5. Marguerite Huber

    Based on the pictures of the commons area and the crazy colors and tiny lockers, I am pretty sure I know which high school you work at! I grew up right by there and went to a different high school in the district.

  6. Kara D

    PBJ and baby carrots for lunch! That’s my daily lunch, with a side of string cheese. Haha! I have major respect and admiration for you to be able to cover all kinds of topics (politics, history, skills, etc) in a quick fashion for the kids, especially with special needs. Kudos!


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