A Grace Full Life


I Had a Wedding in a Barn Before Pinterest. So There.

Actually I had two weddings with barns that played the main character.
At my first wedding, our reception was held inside/outside of a family owned barn in my home state of Ohio.
My second wedding, the entire shebang was held in a barn in the suburbs of Chicago.
No there weren't any animals or hay around.
As far as you know.
That should be like a world record or something.
Having TWO weddings in or around a barn.
I need to research that.

That up there is all you will ever see of my ex husband on this blog. But look at the amazing backdrop. In front of us was a barn, I swear. I just don't have a picture of it that I could find.

When my first wedding was planned, my suburban never seen a farm let alone a barn friends were all, "so a barn. Huh. That's one way to go."
Then they got there, saw the beautiful property, the land, the pond and the little white twinkle lights and fell in love.
The second time around, the barn was not in the country but a subdivision.
Of rich people who pretend to "farm".
Organic tomatoes and lettuce.
But it was a working barn at one time.
In the early 1900's.
The hubs and I loved it because of the history, because of my rural background and farm ancestry.
And mostly because it was the cheapest place to hold a wedding in the county we live in.

I have so many people who still to this day tell me how beautiful both weddings were.
Maybe because of the atmosphere, people really let loose and had a good time.
It wasn't in a mansion or at an upscale restaurant.
It was in a place where animals used to eat and poop.
Nothing says lets celebrate getting married like cows.
Because everyone know cows love to party.  

This trend on Pinterest of barn/farm/white twinkle lights/chalkboard signs has been everywhere for the past several years.
I do love it and it makes me a little mad.

I can't find many of my first wedding pictures.
They are probably buried with the cool Ikea furniture from that marriage.
Damn I miss that Poang chair.

Here is one gem:

You are welcome.

 Look. At. Those. Poofy. Shoulders.

Here are some pictures from my second wedding.
Also know as the wedding that took.

I had to add this one.
In my culture, the mother of the bride must feel up the bride while dress shopping.
It's tradition.
Just kidding.
I just felt my mom cringe from here.
Sorry mommy. 
I just love this and my mom.
By the way, that wasn't "the" dress.
As you can tell from my face. 

anyone want a pepsi? or a snickers?

This was my second and last wedding so I wasn't in need of a big to-do.

But it was my then fiance's first and only wedding, so I wanted it to be special for him.
We paid for most of our own wedding because we were 36 years old at the time.
Grown a#$ adults.
And we were on a tight budget since we had just bought a home.
Those centerpieces cost me only five dollars apiece, if that, to make.
I got the white metal containers at Dollar General for $1.50 each.
The hydrangeas I bought at Hobby Lobby on sale and with a coupon.
I can't remember exactly how much they were but knowing cheap me, I can guarantee I didn't spend more than 15 dollars on the whole lot.
We added florist foam to the bottoms and stuck the flowers in.

My centerpiece party!
My mom, her friend, Rebecca, my sister in law and I spent a Saturday afternoon churning out my candle holders ( mason jars with birdseed and candles) and centerpieces as well as my bouquets.
Yep, we made our bouquets.
Well, the bouquets came from an online fake flower wholesaler.....that is TOTALLY the name of the place.
We added ribbon from Hobby Lobby (on clearance) with pins to the handles of the bouquets to make them look less fake.

I would like to add that I had mason jars at my wedding before Pinterest as well.
Thank you.

I love that we had our ceremony and reception inside the barn.
We actually had our first dance in the exact spot we took our vows. 
There was an option of having the ceremony outside but it was May in Chicago.
Our odds of good weather were not in our favor.
And I am not a gambling person.

The tables all done up!
I got the hydrangea idea from Martha Stewart Living magazine.
But her version was, like, a gagillion dollars each.
So no.
The table number idea was also stolen from Martha but again, I didn't want to spend what I pay for my car each month on table numbers.
So I found these in the wedding section of a craft store.
The holders were metal picture frame easels I found at Hobby Lobby.

This was all done on the cheap.
So if you have no money, don't fret.
You can still have a wedding that looks nice.
My advice to newly engaged couples: please don't spend your wad on your wedding.
Save it for laundry detergent.
Because that crap is expensive.

I heart this so much.

Rebecca and I made that archway on a Saturday before the wedding.
Flowers from Hobby Lobby, the actual arch from Michael's.
That thing was in a box and had to be put together by hand.
It was fun to put the flowers in it, I am sure I spent a lot of laundry detergent's on fake flowers to fill in there.
We left this behind after our wedding.
I think they used it for another wedding.
I hope someone took care of it.
And not dumped it by the side of the road.
One sad little fake flower archway.
Geez, now I wonder where it is.

If you want to know how to plan a cheap wedding, come ask me.
If you want to know how to not get married twice, don't come ask me.
I wouldn't know how to do that. 


14 Reasons Why I Cannot Blog While Awaiting the Crimson Tidal Wave

That means "premenstrual".
But I didn't want to write "premenstrual" in the title because that would bring readers I am not sure I want to attract.
Of course saying "premenstrual" three times in the first paragraph of this blog post is just the SEO I needed to create to bring the above readers in droves.
Oh the SEO humanity.......

Reasons Why I Cannot Blog While Premenstrual 


1- I make graphics like this ^^^^^

2- I want to quit blogging.
Once a month, every frick frackin month.
Because I suck.
At life.
At blogging.
At creating a static free laundry situation.
My back and hips hurt when I walk, I feel like I have rocks in my bra, I have a dull headache, I just dropped my ice cream sandwich, I can't form a sentence and I have stains on my shirt.
And it is all blogging's fault.

Because if I was a good blogger, I could afford to do away with my period all together.
Because I would be rich enough to buy the good menstruation crap.
Did I mention I want to quit blogging?

3- I won't ever submit anywhere other than my blog because I start sentences with AND.
The self doubt starts creeping in around the 25th of the month.
When the bloat and soul crushing hunger start.
And then it all goes downhill from there.
I write in small sentences for a reason.
Because I have a short attention span therefore sentences like this one I am writing now?
Yeah, I was outta there at attention.
I will read the crap out of a grocery list but a blog with paragraphs is hard for me to read.
Hence this writing style.
AND when you have this writing style, chances are you are gonna end up with some AND'S at the beginning of sentences.
Which is wrong.
And I don't care.
Except once a month.

4- I want a job.
And I don't.
Outside of the home, I should add.
Because I have lots of jobs inside my home. 

I wrote a post last month that went viral in my world.
And by viral, I mean two of my Facebook friends shared it.
I moaned and complained about not having a jobbbbbb, not feeling like I am worthyyyyyy, how I have devoted my life to my kidssssss.
I am sorry I dumped on all of you.
The Universe spoke: I got three interviews/job prospects.
They didn't work out but I felt I needed to tell this to you because I whined in a blog post.
Going forward, if you hear me complaining about my self worth within ear shot of you?
Buy me a bag of peanut m and m's. 
Because it's time for for me to fall off the roof.
Sail down the red river.
Aunt Flo is comin' for a visit.
Wink wink.

5- I listen to weepy Keith Urban songs and light candles while I blog to create an "atmosphere".
And that "atmosphere" turns out posts like I talked about in #4.

6-  My fingers are bloated so I have to use spell check 25% more than I normally do.
Then it takes time to do so, so I have to eat peanut M and M's.
To soften the blow.
Of the whole spell check scenario.
I just had to spell check "scenario".
Did it again.
This could go on all day.

7- Speaking of......

Two times a day.
Four times a day.
I may or may not have gone through an entire Costco size bag by myself.
During one premenstrual cycle.
PREmenstrual cycle.

8-  I am still on Pic Monkey.
And yikes is an under used word.
And just like that, I started two sentences with the word AND.
The word you are looking for is TALENT.

9- I become "introspective".
And when I become "introspective" you get to read about things like my love for Bruce Hornsby or how I opened my front door with visible nipple.
Or why I don't know what hyperbole means.
Or the post you are currently reading.
By the way, I didn't actually open the door with my nipple.
If I did, now that would be talent. 

10-  I start worrying that I will never get an agent for a book deal because I start sentences with AND.
 Then I get all "WHATEVER" because the Kardashian's have had like, 10 books.
"If they can get a book deal, then I don't want a book deal, dammit".
Then I am all, "how did they get famous anyway????"
Then I get all, "Oooooh, do I still have Keeping up with the Kardashian's on my Netflix favorites??!!!!?"

11- Because of #10, the movie deal that comes from the subsequent book deal won't come in time for Bonnie Hunt to play me because we are aging at warp speed.
How does Kathleen Turner look these days?

And I have a Pic Monkey problem.

13- Did you know that Dairy Queen is open during the day?!
I do.
By the way, that picture up there has nothing to do with this.
This note sits by my mouse pad.
I have to tell myself this.
It doesn't come natural.
You're feeling a little like Dorothy when she unveils the "wizard".
Aren't you?
It's OK. 
Let's go get a pumpkin pie blizzard. 

14- I send email replies to companies that want me to pimp them out for free.




I feel so much better now!
So glad I have a blog.
What DO people who don't blog do to let go of all that aggression and negativity?
I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you.



My Costco Virginity is No Longer. I Feel So Dirty Now.

I am always behind on trends.
I didn't get into chevron for a good year after it became a raging success.
I never watch movies while they are popular.
I definitely don't jump on the whole food band wagon (what IS quinoa anyway??).
So it shouldn't come as a surprise to those who know me well that I had never stepped into a Costco before this past month.

My parents have been bulk store shoppers for years, starting with Sam's Club in the late nineties and now regular Costco shoppers as of the past three years.
They would rave about it, talk about the deals while sitting around the table eating brownie brittle by the handfuls.
That would be ME eating brownie brittle by the handfuls but I am sure they probably do too because BROWNIE BRITTLE.
My sister in law would rave about the Greek pasta salad.
My friend Shannon even centered a post around the place.

All the while I would say, "I need to go to a Costco. Someone take me".
But things would happen, plans would fall apart, and my meeting with Costco would never be in my future.
Until last month.

It has been two years since I have seen an eye doctor and as those who watched my Listen to Your Mother performance can vouch, I needed new glasses.
And apparently some allergy medicine.
You can see it here if it doesn't come up on your smart device.

But definitely glasses.
This you need to know: I have been to four, FOUR different vision places in the past 15 years.
And they were just, eh.
It was time to get me in the chair again and so I Googled the best prices for glasses.
The first on Consumer Reports list was Costco.
That was the straw that broke the monkey's back.
After getting some feedback on Facebook about Costco and their optical department, I was sold.

On a gorgeous September day, the hubs and I set out on a weekday for a date at Costco.
We were kind of giddy, I am almost embarrassed to admit.
Like we were going to a nightclub.
During the day. Shhhhhhhhh.
A big ole nightclub that has a room with just vegetables, smells like a mix of floor polish, shrimp and prosperity AND has samples of food at every corner!

Bagel bite?
Cheesy dog?

Thinking back, nightclubs would do really well having a sample tray scattered here and there.

Where was I??
Oh yeah.

That is chocolate under my nail. FULL DISCLOSURE ALWAYS 

So the hubs and I were Costco virgins just waiting to become de-virginized.
I know there is a better word.
That I can't use here.

At first, we liked it.
Not loved it.
Just liked it.
Like, yeah. It's nice. I don't get what all the fuss is about. It's TOTALLY Sam's Club.

It wasn't until the second visit that we became Stepford Costco Shoppers.
This is what I think happened: our Costco microchip wasn't activated until we walked in the door the second time.
Because they needed to process our information.
I am a conspiracy theorist so this is totally true.

It was on visit two that I showed up for my eye appointment and long story shortish/kinda long, I fell in love.
With Allan, the guy who helped me pick out my glasses.
With the lady who checked me out in optical and gave me a topic for a Chicago Parent article.
With the BIG ASS APPLES the size of my head in the fruit section, that were individually blister packed.
With cans of baked beans the size of a small child.
With our cashier who looked like one half of Penn and Teller.

It wasn't just one thing in particular, it was everything.
Did you know they have five dollar pies the size of a large pizza??
The employees are friendly.
The bathrooms are clean.
Heck, even the snack bar has good food!
We ate lunch, at a Costco.
We ate pizza, I got an eye exam and an 8 pack of socks all in one place.
Ahhhh America.

We drove into the sunset with our blister packed apples, socks by the pound and bellies full of Costco pizza ("What the hell do you think Leona really puts in that pizza? ?").
Who needs Rome when you can go to Costco? 

My new Costco glasses!!!


Fall Starts the END of September. Pass it on. Halloween Mantel 2014

DIY bloggers who start decorating for fall on September 1st are why people get angry at DIY bloggers.
This is the same mentality as getting mad at Hobby Lobby for putting their Christmas crap up in July.
Or Target putting out school supplies in June.
Two days after they get out of school for the summer.

I feel better.
In all honesty, I did put up OUR Halloween/Fall stuff on September 18th.
A full five days before the official start of fall.
But I listened to my "Summer Tunes" play list whilst throwing the fall all over the house.
So that makes it OK.

I don't respond to Pumpkin Lattes but a peanut butter cup shaped like a pumpkin does it for me.
It was like THE Seinfeld episode.
I threw my money on the counter and said I'M OUT.
And started dragging up my orange and black bins from the basement.
With peanut butter on my breath.
I know.
I am weak.
Forgive me.

I have been sharing all of my decorating with you here since 2010 but my favorite decorating season by far is Halloween/Fall.
You can see my fall decorating from each year here:


 Fall Mantel 2010




2011 and 2011

 Fall Mantel 2011





2012 and 2012

 Homemade Fall Mantel 2012





Fall Mantel on the Cheap 2013 


 Wow, it is fun for me to look back at how my style has changed over the years!
I hope its fun for you.
Just lie to me. 

Something about the colors of fall work really well with my house.
Maybe it's all the yellow and green I have going on in here. 
All the other seasons seem to clash with my choice of color. 
Maybe I should just create yellow, green and orange decor for the other holidays.
Nothing says Christmas like an orange tree.
With green lights. 

Here is my interpretation of autumn. 
Said in my best decor/fashion/trendy blog voice.
Kind of a mix of Tim Gunn and Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly

pumpkins in a basket

A basket of pumpkins.
As you do.
Doesn't everyone have a basket of pumpkins in their home?
This is a flea market basket filled with pumpkins I have amassed over the years.
You totally want a basket of pumpkins now.
Don't you?

fabric pumpkin

A fat pumpkin sitting with the remotes like its no big thing.
I got this from a friend a few years ago.
I like to think it enjoys a little Naked and Afraid.
With a snifter of brandy. 
I need to get a life.
I know.

fall mantel on a budget

Every year I say, "I think I love this mantel best."
That's a lie.
THIS year's mantel is so much better.
By the way, I bought nothing this year to create this.
In fact, I haven't bought a fall item for my mantel in probably three years.

cool fall mantel

The candlesticks are from Goodwill four years ago.
Spray painted horribly but it's all good because it works with my freaky, creepy Halloween theme.
The banner was made for me by a friend of mine a few years ago, the flowers, pumpkins etc, I have had for years.
Oh wait! I did buy that mirror glass pumpkin last year.
So I lied.

fall leaves on a mantel

Those fake leaves have seen their share of, well, lots and lots of Halloween candy.
And bad costumes.
And a drunken bonfire here and there.
These bad boys have been around since Seinfeld was still on regular television. 

fall leaves and berries on a mantel

I have a thing for white pumpykins.
I have a thing for calling pumpkins, pumpykins when no one is around.

fall berries on a mantel

See those balls?
Those are from the Christmas aisle at Hobby Lobby.
Here is a tip: you can go outside of the fall aisle to look for fall decor.
And since Hobby Lobby has had Christmas up since Kim Kardashian was still single, there is lots to choose from. 
I worked "balls" into a fall post.
I can see the true DIY bloggers have left the room at this point.
They probably left after the first sentence.

fall mantel on a budget

 I love fall in this room.
Christmas decorations look like they are faking it in this room but Halloween makes this room its b&#%.
I lost a few more of you, didn't I?

fall mantel

Let's move on shall we.
To the other side of the room.

neat bookshelf

 The above are our Halloween books on the "bookshelf" I made out of Ellie's crib rail.
 Here is the tutorial.
All I did was spray paint it.
So I didn't really "make" anything.
But lets just say I did because the DIY bloggers left the room.

fall children's books

We love books in this house.
Scratch that.
I love books in this house.
Oh Ellie loves looking and reading books with me.
Annie used to but now says "I don't like to read outside of school". 
And Mike never reads.
Unless it is meme's on Facebook.
Then he reads. 

When I pull these fall books out, Ellie goes nuts.
I won't see her for a good hour, she pages through all of them, some make noises so I can hear her from the other room.
It is exciting seeing things that are put away for most of the year. 
To clarify, we have books all over the house year round.
Just not ones that sound like coffins opening or doorbells ringing.
But that sounds like fun, so maybe I will leave them up year round. 

burlap wreath

The wreath my friend Rebecca made me a few years ago.
It moves around from year to year.
I love having it in the kitchen because I don't really decorate in here.

family sign

This isn't fall.
Its just fun.
And true. 

Here is where the DIY bloggers will be missin' out.
I am including a craft!
Woop woop!

So for the price of one blog post, you are getting not just ONE but TWO blog posts!!

I thought of this while in the fall extravaganza aisle at Michael's.
I was all drunk on orange faux leaves, cinnamon sticks and glass mason jars. 
I was so excited!
I thought of a craft, FINALLY.
Until I walked to the register.
And saw one of those craft idea sheets.
I had a better name but I already said b@#$, balls and dammit.
I want to keep it clean. 

Let's just say it was my idea.
That I was telepathically ROBBED by Michael's.
True story. 

You need the following supplies:

black pumpkin

Black pumpykin.

chalk pen

Cheap chalk pen .. $3.99.
Long story long.....
I made a craft here and here using a pen very similar.
Someone emailed me about it a few months ago saying was there anything other than the chalk pen to use.
Then a friend texted me at about the same time-ish frame.
I say time-ish frame because in my world things that happen to me inMarch runs into things that happen to me in August.
And I am all about full disclosure.
To a fault.
ANYHOO, back when I created the above crafts, chalk pens were relatively unheard of/hard to find/ no where to be found.
When I found a three pack of them at Michael's... (said in my best Jerry Seinfeld Newman disdain voice ....are you seeing a trend......) back then, I balked for a second at the $12.99 price.
But they were relatively unheard of/ hard to find/ no where to be found.
I think I used a coupon, shuddered visibly at the cash register and mumbled over and over......"It's worth it. It's worth it. It's worth it."
LONG STORY LONG, I found this one for $3.99.
That was the point I was trying to make. 

peanut m and m's

You will also need peanut M and M's.

black pumpkin craft

So take the pens and start drawing all willy nilly on your pumpykins.

black pumpkin craft

 Aren't those pretty?
Little @ signs.
I didn't mean them to be @ signs.
But I am not artistic in any way.
This is my best.

charlie brown pumpkin

Then I went and ruined it by trying to draw chevron on my pumpykins.

charlie brown pumpkin

It looks like Charlie Brown's sweater.
Doesn't it?
A really bad reject Charlie Brown sweater.

owl lamp

I don't do well with blank canvases.
That can be applied metaphorically as well.

BOO sign

Its OK, I have come to terms with my Charlie Brown pumpykin.
The whole point being that YOU can draw whatever YOU want on YOUR pumpykin!
Just like mine is all mine.
Charlie Brown or not.

black pumpkin

And it's a lot better than a bag of rocks.
Happy Halloween.

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