The Hostess’ Guide to the Holiday Madness

Little-known fact: June Cleaver, Martha Stewart, and I swap notes.

I may be a terrible housewife, but I’m a master of feeding people and throwing baller parties. Last year, after moving into our house, we hosted a killer game-themed housewarming party for nearly 60, Second Thanksgiving for 15, Christmas Day for 30, and a small New Year’s Eve with family. This year we hosted a birthday party for 30, Halloween party for 40, and are planning another Christmas Day extravaganza in addition to game nights and dinners throughout the year. I’ve become skilled in the art of hosting parties.

I’ve put together this convenient,  easy-to-follow guide for hosting parties, which is sure to make your holiday merry and bright, your birthday magical and special, and your perfect little dinner party a night to remember.

The hostess' guide to handling holiday madness

2 Months Out

1. Pick a date. This may be easy if you’re hosting on a specific holiday, but with families freaking everywhere, you may host Christmas on the 20th or the 31st. I won’t judge. You do you.

  1. Delay. Put off most of the planning as long as you can. Spend time pinning shit to your Pinterest board, knowing you’re never actually going to do any of that nonsense. Late invites are likely to shrink the number of people who show up.

1 Month Out

3. Start inviting people. Use multiple modes of communication to make it as confusing and hard to track as you can. For extra planning points, recruit your partner/boyfriend/spouse/person/fiancée(God, that word is WEIRD) to invite his family or friends you don’t follow on Facebook. You already know you’re screwed.

2 Weeks Out

4. Secure RSVPs. Wait for no one to respond,  and then start the second round of messaging. Texts, calls, private messages, tags, etc. Leave no communication stone unturned. Just don’t add them to your Jamberry Group.

5. Meal plan. Decide what you’re going to feed all these people you’ve invited to your home. Dole out responsibilities and assignments if you’re potlucking. Get as creative or unoriginal as you want. You’re hosting this fiesta.

6. Start writing to-do lists. Put together a shopping list for groceries, a DIY list for crafty shit you want to do, a cleaning list for your boyfriend/partner/husband to follow while you’re at work or the grocery store (saving him from all the people). You can use Google Drive, a pen and paper, a blank Word document or some fancy pants list you downloaded from a way more organized blogger than me. Me? I have lists everywhere. In e-mail drafts, in notebooks, and on the back of random papers from work. I typically forget them all by the time I head to the grocery store or start cleaning.

7. Decorate your home. Get your holiday decor up whether you’re putting up Christmas tree in every room, creating a disgusting murder scene in the bath tub, or setting up a spider’s den in your bathroom. If it’s not a holiday, make sure you’ve got all your art hung, ordered the right colored table cloth from Amazon, planned for balloons and other decorative touches.

Just hope and pray the balloons don't end up in the updraft of your ceiling fan.

Just hope and pray the balloons don’t end up in the updraft of your ceiling fan.

1 Week Out

8. Keep texting and calling people. We all know half your guest list isn’t going to respond. That’s okay, you love me them anyways.

9. Write new to-do lists. Don’t tell me you know where the originals are. I know you’re lying. Go ahead and make new ones. Even if you forgot the original items on the list, you’ll think of new ones.

10. Start those crafty projects you said you were going to do.  You want to make special scrabble Christmas ornaments for everyone at your holiday party? You know what? Fuck it. Just go to the store and buy some cookies. Then, eat the cookies. Then, continue on with the rest of this list. You don’t need that kind of stress in your life right now.

5 Days Out

11. Shop. Try to get as much grocery shopping out of the way as you can. Stock up on beer, wine, pop, snacks (you’ll need these later), and cream cheese (this is the only necessity with party apps. You can mix anything with cream cheese for a magical creation sure to impress every guest). Hold off on anything you think should be fresh, such as fruit or veggies. No one wants stinky cauliflower.

3 Days Out

12. Procrastinate. It’s time to start heavy duty lifting and really get your ass in gear. But you DEFINITELY need a break first. Perhaps you’ll watch  Kimmy Schmidt or Liz Lemon on Netflix to get you in the spirit of whatever event you’re hosting. There’s a little Kimmy or Liz for everyone, guys.  Pop open one of the bags of chips you were reserving for your event, eat candy for dinner from Dylan’s Candy Bar (OMG) and work on your night cheese. The party is happening whether your floor boards are dusted or not.

1 Day Out

13. Start cleaning. Spend a little time casually wiping counters, cleaning out your fridge, rearranging your collection of board games, video games, movies, CDs, whatever, moving piles from one room to another in an effort to clean. You still have 28 hours before this party is in full gear.

14. Prep as much food as you can. It’s time to make magic happen with the cream cheese, folks. Whip up a few dips while your boyfriend vacuums the floor with your fancy pants Shark vacuum. Cut veggies. Arrange fruit displays. For the love of all things, DO NOT CUT THE CHEESE YET. That is a last-minute priority in order to ensure the best possible cheese flavors.

Prepare your veggie crudite the night before to save time for your uber panic when hosting a party.

Prepare your veggie crudite the night before to save time for your uber panic when hosting a party.

Day of the Party

15. Freak out. You’re not ready. Your house is certainly not ready. You haven’t showered since your Liz Lemon marathon and it’s REALLY time to move it. You know nothing helps a situation more than a serious panic attack. Get ready for it. It’s coming.

16. Quick Clean. You don’t have time to clean the way you want, so start throwing everything out of sight. Throw shoes down into the basement, hide baskets of mail under your buffet table (See why I told you to invest in that floor length table cloth on Amazon, now?), take stakes of clothing/clutter/whatever up to your bedroom or the guest room or the office. Just get it out of here, already.

17. Finish food. Whip together as much of the food as you can before you have to start cleaning up the kitchen. The cheese should be cut about 30 minutes before guests arrive (and you shouldn’t let it sit out for more than four hours, so plan for a second batch if it’s a long party.

Put the cheese out about 30 minutes before the start of a party in order to have the best tasting cheese (room temperature).

18. Beg for reinforcements. Hope and pray you have parents like I do who show up 45 minutes before a party to help with this process. Sure, you won’t remember that your mom threw your keys in the cabinet with the canned goods, but no one else saw them cluttering up your breakfast bar, amiright?

Game Time

19. Relax. Breath a sigh of relief and pour your first of many glasses of wine/champagne/beer/vodka/whatever. Give yourself a pat on the back for only crying three times instead of five like last time. You’re getting better at this game.

Friends, how do you handle the stress of hosting parties? Are you a killer host? What do you try to do whenever you host an event? Tell me your secrets before I pull all my hair out!

This post is brought to you by the fine people at Netflix, without whom I may never procrastinate. While I wasn’t paid in dollars to create this blog post, I did receive a subscription to Netflix and a device on which to watch my favorite shows (hello Liz Lemon – I love you!). As always, you get my opinions and ideas, which I was not paid to change. Obviously.

Netflix Stream Team

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Drunk Chrissy is a Motherfucking Genius

It is last night, right now.

By that I mean, I am typing this and it is Monday night. November 30. Not today. Today is likely any day but that. Unless it is November 30 in another year, many days from now. When I am typing this. Drunk. You get what I’m saying.

Brian told me…well…reminded me how fucking much I love drunk writing. And I said to him, “Brian, I don’t have anything to say.”

But then I remembered I totally just ballered the fuck out of our wine rack. Because I’m a motherfucking genius. And you all need to see the brilliance that is drunk me.

Store sloped shoulder wine bottled backwards to keep them from falling off your wine rack. For magnums of wine, you may need to get creative.

So we’ve had this problem with sloping shoulder bottles in the $12 wine rack I bought at Savers (One day, I plan to spray paint it or something to make it look fancy, but until then it’s dusty, rusty wrought iron). The problem is that the sloping shoulder bottles slide down and out without warning. The last thing in the world I want is for one of our fancy pants bottles of two buck chuck or non-cheap wines (it’s hit or miss here – we serve both kinds) to fall to its shattering, wine-spilling, alcohol-abuse end on the basement floor. And so I placed the sloping shoulder wines on the wooden rack atop the metal rack and swore never to buy sloping bottles again (which is a dirty rotten lie because I love pinot noir and Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc – when it’s on sale or at Sam’s Club).

Wine Rack Hack for Magnum Bottles

Well, we went for our wine tasting at Cooper’s Hawk (restaurant, wine club, bar, joyous place of boozy goodness) and after all of my and some of Brian’s wine, I decided I needed to make room for last month’s magnums of Decadence (some fancy pants wine celebrating Cooper’s Hawk’s 10th anniversary that I didn’t pay extra for).

And so it was time to solve the problem of the fucking wine rack and sloping shoulder bottles. And I thought. And rearranged. And fucked around with the wine. Eventually, the Decadence ended up on the top of the wine rack, cradled in the wood rack.

Storing magnums of wine is easy when you're creative...or drunk.

Storing magnums of wine is easy when you’re creative…or drunk.

Wine Rack Hack for Sloping Shoulder Bottles

Now…what to do with those sloped shoulders…I couldn’t drink ’em because as good as five bottles of wine sounds on paper, it just wasn’t going to happen on a school night. I didn’t want them on the ground, lest we randomly flood or some shit like that. And so I thought.

And I thought some more.

And holy hell did I think enough to drop a couple more F-bombs on that fucking wine rack…

Until I put the bottle in backwards.

Wait, what? It works? Fuck yeah, bitches!

Store sloped shoulder wine bottled backwards

In case of emergency, store wine near a fire extinguisher. Or not…whatever.

All you have to do to keep those suckers from falling off the rack is put them in backwards…against a wall (or a sort of almost wall. Whatever).

And now I’m fucking sober. It was probably the time it took me to make graphics. That shit always takes forever.

Are you a fucking genius after a few glasses or wine or cocktails? What brilliant ideas have you discovered after drinking? Were you expecting me to break shit? Because I totally didn’t. Booya, Grandma!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

4 Super Simple Laundry Hacks to Keep Your Clothes Clean and Fresh

You guys know how much I hate laundry. Even when we lived in an apartment, with a washer and dryer setup right outside our bedroom door, it wasn’t on my list of things I loved to do.

Luckily, I’ve been working with some really awesome companies that are simplifying laundry for me so I can properly respond to the stains and spills that happen around here on a daily basis, and I’ve partnered with some of these brands and bloggers to share a few super easy laundry hacks.

I destroyed this poor shirt while cooking.

I destroyed this poor shirt while cooking.

Four Fabulous Laundry Hacks

1. Sick of ironing? Put your iron away and use Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus instead. Just spray, smooth and tug and watch those wrinkles disappear. I’m a big fan of this method, because it’s hard enough for me to remember to remove laundry from the dryer, let alone iron it right away. And I never travel without it.

DWR to the rescue

  1. Have a stain while you’re out and about? Use the Dreft Stain Stick to remove the stain ASAP. You know how I like to spill things on myself, especially food things. Mostly food things that leave stains. I always have a stain stick on me – at home, at work, and in my purse or backpack.

  2. Keep forgetting those wet towels in the wash? Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator to the rescue. Add some to your next load of laundry, and #SinktheStink. I’m so glad there are products like this to help me when I’m forgetful. Seriously, I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve had to rewash stuff because we left it in the washer a little too long.

  3. Trying to get your clothes as soft as possible – and don’t have an HE washer? Try the Downy Ball. As long as I can remember, we’ve had a dispenser for the fabric softener, but if you don’t, this could make it way easier.

4 Super Easy Laundry Hacks (1)

What laundry tips do you have for me? What makes it easier for you to get laundry done in your home?

No one paid me any dollars to say nice things about these products, though I have received free samples to provide my opinion and share it on social media.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things I Did Last Night Instead of Writing

Last night, we arrived home late from our adventures in Indiana, where we played games late into the night, ran into the people we knew with more regularity than one would expect at a convention of more than 60,000 people, and did not run into Wil Wheaton. Again.

I can’t tell you quite how many times I bumped walked into people, displays, or walls because the tally was relatively high this year, but I did get hit on by the early twenties-ish guy that sells nerd robes and dresses (girls are in short supply at these things). I  also had the pleasure of lunching with the lovely Chris Dean yesterday, who made the trek to hang with us!

I was able to have lunch with Chris Dean of pixiecd while we were in Indy!

I had planned to get home, go to a party, and then come home and write. There’s something to be said about the best laid plans…

We got home a bit later than expected as I managed to win a badge for next year’s GenCon (my lucky streak has lasted most of the summer…I’m thinking I should buy a lottery ticket or head to the race track or something) and had to buy just one last game before we left…I’m  not going to lie, seeing people with huge stacks of games made me jealous as fuck, even though our stack was no small potatoes…

We picked up a few new games to add to our collection from GenCon this weekend.

This year’s spoils. Some free stuff, some cheap stuff, some AWESOME stuff.

And so we were too late to get to the party on time. I thought, Okay…I’ll pop the games, and then do a little writing. And Brian thought, okay…I’ll just do a little napping, and then eat some food. But before his nap he went to the basement to turn the water heater off vacation mode. And this is when our evening plans changed.

Uhh…Chrissy? We have a problem.

I’d heard this tone before…

And I started thinking of house emergencies we’ve had since purchasing the house, like the time the humidifier flooded our basement just a couple of weeks after moving into the house. Or the time our roof leaked into our master bathroom. Or the time water seeped into the basement. Homeownership. Ain’t it grand?

Like deja vu, we discovered that our air conditioner was leaking around the furnace area, which was exactly what happened when the humidifier flooded. Something was clogged and the water in the PVC pipe was producing a stead stream on the floor…where all my seashells, sand dollars, starfish, and urchin were collecting dust.

Now, I realize that I should have boxed that shit up months ago…but they were out of the way enough that they weren’t really bothering us…and so they ere soaked. All the time I had spent cleaning them and alcoholing them and drying them was wasted, as a light odor of dead seastuff wafted through the basement.

How to Temporarily Fix a Leaking Air Conditioner

After arriving at the house from a long weekend out of town, we came home to a leaking air conditioner and a flooded basement. This was our quick fix so we could turn the a/c back on and sleep at night.

 

 

Please note, I am NOT a professional. I’m an impatient humorist and an improvisor who believes that first world problems require immediate solutions…and this is just what we did so we could sleep without the humidity and allergens from the outside world suffocating us. We plan on actually fixing the problem this week.

Step 1. Turn off A/C.

Step 2. Let your boyfriend mop the floor because you really hate cleaning.

Step 3. Lay seashells in the large aluminium pans typically reserved for cooking gigantic feasts and spilling turkey grease all over new shirts.

Step 4. Decide on a quick fix so we don’t end up sleeping in the basement for the cool air.

Step 5. Head to Home Depot before they close(we had about a half hour window) and pick up a plumber’s snake(my question to Brian:
“Will this also pull my hair our of the shower drain?”
“Yep.”
“Get the long one.”), tubing, and duct tape (this is not to say that we didn’t alread have duct tape in our house…I just didn’t want to waste my mac and cheese Duck Tape on boring plumbing stuff).

Step 6. Decide cooking and eating in an unair-conditioned house would be a bad idea, and sit down in Qdoba instead.

Step 7. Return home and replace tiny plastic tube leading from air conditioner to PVC pipe with long tubes duct taped together that deposits trickles of water directly into drain and tape that shut to the wall.

Step 8. Turn A/C back on.
Step 9. Let your boyfriend finish mopping the floor.

Step 10. Use plumber’s snake to discover clogging PVC pipe.

Step 11. Check tubing before bed and upon waking up.

I finished the night by popping all 20 games and promos that we acquired this weekend, because nothing is more exciting than the smell of a freshly popped and organized game.

What house emergencies have you dealt with? How would you handle a major problem when your brain is fried from four days of intense usage(on our case, gaming)?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

In Honor of World Naked Gardening Day…

For those of you who are naively unaware, today (the first Saturday of May) is World Naked Gardening Day. (Warning, the following link is NSFW and contains an older gentleman’s dingaling on the front page. You’ve been warned.)

World Naked Gardening Day

Tenth Annual World Naked Gardening Day. (No, seriously, guys. You’ve been warned.)

crabapple tree

Even though it’s World Naked Gardening Day, I’m going to ask that my neighbors keep their twigs and berries to themselves…

Despite my undying adoration of colorful yoga pants, I really don’t like pants. And I kind of sort of enjoy being naked. I know I’m not alone in this, people. Clothes are so…constricting. Restricting.

After informing Brian of this magical, mystical day…his only response was, “No.”

I didn’t even tell him what I wanted to do! I merely declared that it was World Naked Gardening Day. I had barely finished the word “day” before he sternly responded.

I know you want to get involved as much as I do. But if you live in suburbia or in a city, you’re not going to want to set your bare-from-head-to-toe bod into your backyard in the middle of the afternoon. For just such an occasion, I’ve come up with 3 ways you can celebrate the day, get your green on and take care of your bush without, you know, sharing your whole self with your neighbors.

Take Care of Indoor Foliage

You can water, prune, trim, and replant indoor vegetation with the sun shining through the windows on your bare ass without your neighbors being the wiser. Just, you know, make sure the blinds are drawn on chest and pelvic-level windows…unless you want to give your next door neighbor a peep show.

Wear a Bathrobe in Your Backyard

As Brian likes to say, “You can be naked all you want. Under your clothes.” And you can still feel the rush of a cool breeze at your nether regions (let’s hope the breeze isn’t too powerful) without baring all for neighbors of all ages.

Tend to your tulips, but hide your two lips, mmk?

Tend to your tulips, but hide your two lips, mmk?

Tend to the Plants After the Sun Goes Down

I’m not going to lie, guys. Last night, after sharing a bottle of vino with one of my favorite ladies (Hi Katie!) I was quite tempted to head outside without a lick of clothing on. I mean, it was after midnight. World Naked Gardening Day had begun. I considered a shameless attempt at a brazen, buck-naked pursuit. But I restrained myself. Or Katie did. One of those.

So go on out there and empower yourself with a little naked gardening. And if you’re feeling really ballsy, go on out there and drop trow. Rock on with your bad self.

How would you celebrate such a joyous naked occasion? Are there any activities (besides the obvious) you enjoy sans clothing?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

3 Ways to Maintain Hardwood Floors Without Wasting an Entire Day

When we moved into our house, we both really wanted hardwood floors. The entire house is mostly covered in carpet, which is an allergic-to-everything couple’s nightmare. I made Brian promise we would replace the carpet with wood IMMEDIATELY (I mean, we had blue carpet with yellow walls in our front room. It was a 90’s disaster that had never been fixed). But after painting ALL THE ROOMS, the blue carpet? Not so bad. We’d still love hardwood (and so would our allergen-filled sinuses), but the cost of hardwood makes me cry a little bit inside…so we’ll wait it out.

But we do have one lovely room with beautiful hardwood floors. And I like to keep it clean. Well, I like Brian to keep it clean, but I digress. This is our dining room. Game room. Wine room. All the things room. It’s the brightest, happiest room in the house.

3 Ways to Clean and Maintain Your Hardwood Floors

Sweep that shit regularly

The internet recommends a soft-bristled broom, but let’s be honest for a minute here and admit that we’re using the same cheap-ish, plastic-bristled broom for everything, amiright? If you spend 5-10 minutes sweeping a room on a regularish basis (anywhere from daily to weekly, and you’re golden), your floors will stay relatively clean. If you have your boyfriend spend 5-10 minutes sweeping a room on a regularish basis, your floors will stay relatively clean AND you won’t have lifted a finger. BOOM.

Clean your hardwood floors

This may be my favorite room in the house. Seriously.

Get a fancy mop with a solution and ergonomic design specifically made for hardwood

When I picked up the Bona Hardwood Floor Spray Mop from my P.O. Box (Thanks Bona people!), Brian asked, what’s in the box? Is it for me? And I excitedly announced, “YES!” because we all know cleaning isn’t my forte in this relationship.

Happy birthday, Brian!

Happy birthday, Brian! (Of course, I would take a picture featuring the Spanish side of the box. Not changing it. You’re welcome.)

But, for the sake of that same relationship, I took it upon myself to put the mop together. Okay, so it may have taken me 20+ minutes to assemble said mop. And it may have been really easy to do, according to the video that I had to watch four times to get it right. And I may have then had trouble getting it to spray (because I still hadn’t put it together properly)…but once I had it all set up, it was a piece of freakin’ cake.

Bona Mop

I only had a few minor snafus in trying to get the green part into the blue part. I didn’t consider sending it back because I thought it was broken or anything…

So, since it was assembled and all, I figured, what the hell? and started mopping our dining room floor. Holy shit, you guys. I have no problem mopping the floor if it’s always going to be this easy. The removable, washable pad dealie is attached with Velcro to the bottom of the mop, and the spray solution is activated at the handle, so there’s no bucket, no super wet floors, no bending down, no wet icky mop to store upside down…It’s fucking magical.  After I was done mopping (like 5 minutes later, tops), I removed the pad, and hung it over the back of a chair to dry (because the back of the pad wasn’t wet AT ALL).

Polish the floors with a reliable wood polish

You want a spit shine on your dining room floor? Cool. Find a polish that is going to enhance the wood and not destroy it. Then find someone to do it for you. Like your loving boyfriend who wants to keep the floor looking amazing. Even when you’re probably going to spill queso and wine on it a few hours later. I’m just saying. Not that I’ve done that or anything…

Why yes, that is the bottle of wine I spilled...

Why yes, that is the bottle of wine I spilled…

In case you weren’t already aware, my cleaning style is really one harbored out of necessity rather than enjoyment. We tend to rush around and clean before people come over. So when I took the Bona cleaning personality quiz, it nailed me completely. Social butterfly who stays busy and focuses on life before cleaning. Spot on, Bona. Spot on.

If you go take the personality quiz, you’ll get the chance to win a vacay away from your clean or messy home. You could win a trip to Hawaii and free house cleaning for a year. (Hey Bona, PICK ME!).

What’s your cleaning personality? What tips do you have for hardwood floor cleaning? How lazy are you when it comes to cleaning? What problems have you found when putting things together?

I was not paid to say nice things about Bona, but I was given a free mop to facilitate this post. As always, my opinions are my own and completely honest. There’s no sense in lying to you guys. Oh, also, any Amazon links are affiliate links that may help me earn a few pennies to keep this site operating. Thanks for being awesome.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

And This is How Many Times I Injured Myself This Weekend…

This is how many times I injured myself this weeknd

On Saturday morning, I attempted to finish clearing the dead crap from my heavily landscaped yard, a task I had begun upon arriving home the night before (while wearing a damn dress, no less). Dirt, mud and pollen threatened to swallow my hands whole. The purple paint on my freshly manicured, middle fingernail chipped. A light scratch here, a plant-burn there. Is plant burn a thing? Because it should be. Similar to rug burn, only from pulling dead grasses, plants and other things from your garden/lawn. I had zero desire to rip up the rest of my hands.

Illinois prairie grass is a bitch. And look how cute that shit starts out.

Illinois prairie grass is a bitch. And look how cute that shit starts out.

At the hardware store, after eating a bag of free popcorn and grabbing a pair of gloves to protect my accident-prone hands, I found a single package with three cutting tools nestled under a plastic cover, attached to a cardboard back with staples. What a convenient little set for cutting. I have plans to cut more things today. THIS. Is what I need.

I stood patiently, waiting for my turn at the register, and as I dug through my purse hunting for my debit card (yeah, I’m the annoying bitch with the purse full of receipts and other shit I don’t need, while my debit card lies somewhere near the bottom…), I remembered throwing that fucker in my shopping bag at the farmer’s market earlier that morning. Panic set in as the cashier began ringing my stuff up. Balls! I don’t have any money to pay for this shit.

Like an asshole, I mumbled apologies, asking the cashier to PLEASE hold my purchase for 20 minutes as I went home to find my card. I retraced my steps, and tried to remember what I had done with my card, and if it was, in fact, still in my grocery bag. Once inside my car, I realized that the card was actually in the pocket of my sweatshirt, and returned to the store less than a minute later, with red cheeks and a sheepish grin. I feared they thought I was lying.

When I left the store, my arms were full of items I needed and didn’t need all at the same time. I stacked them in the car, and continued on my original mission. I walked with purpose to the backyard of my parents’ house, where a pair of green Adirondacks and matching footstools awaited my rescue. They were battered from several cold winters and bright summers spent outdoors, and so I wiped them down before trying to maneuver them into my car.

After they were cleaned (and I use the term “cleaned” loosely as the abandoned spider egg sacs were removed and the thick coat of dirt and leaves became a thin layer of dusty grime that was going to take more than a quick wipe down to eradicate), I awkwardly carried the first chair to my car. The uneven weight distributed uncomfortably in my arms as I knocked into each bush and tree branch along the path.

My first attempt was to slide the chair into the backseat of my Yaris, but the width of the chair in any direction was too much for my tiny back door. After unsuccessfully trying to push the Adirondack into the trunk, I only had one other option. I opened the passenger door and began bargaining with the car and the chair, promising car washes and a new home respectively.

After a few minutes, I was able to ease the chair into the front, with the back of the seat leaning as far down as possible and the Adirondack appeared massive in my subcompact sedan. And then it was time to repeat the process. I pushed and tugged and arranged the two chairs so that I could just barely make my way home in the car. Each time I shifted gears, I had to lift the chairs to move the handle. I was forced to sit on the left side of my own seat with the chairs digging into my right arm, as I held the seatbelt across my body with my right hand. Thank God my parents only live a few minutes from my house. I prayed every second of those several minutes that a cop didn’t pull me over.

bushes in the front of our house

As I pulled into the driveway, I admired the blooming bushes and flowers that spotted our front yard and made me wish I had inherited my mother’s green thumb instead of a clumsy, fall-over-everything, try-desperately-to-keep-plants-alive disposition. I removed the chairs with little effort, carting them to the backyard, one at a time.

Don't they look adorable on our deck?

Don’t they look adorable on our deck? Even with the dusty grime…

I prepared to resume my original mission to clean up last season’s dried stems and grasses to make way for the budding greenery in our yard. As I pulled out the gloves, I noticed they were attached to their packaging with a staple. I tried, unsuccessfully to remove it with my thumbnail, puncturing a small corner of the once-perfectly polished digit.

In an effort to preserve the rest of my fingers, I looked around for something to remove the fucking staple. The package of clippers and sheers seemed the logical (and laziest) way to solve my problem. As I attempted to delicately – wait for it – pry the staples off the plastic and cardboard packaging, I felt the sharp sting of my finger receiving yet another gash from a single staple. That motherfucker bit me.

Fuck that shit. I ripped the packaging to shreds with Hulk force, feeling the quick whip of a rogue staple whiz past my left ear on its way to the other side of the garage. At that point, all I could think was Welp. That could have been worse.

Once unlocked from the 27 staples, the small clippers acted as a pair of pliers to remove the remaining fucking staples that were causing so much agony. Who the fuck thought it would be fun and/or intelligent to staple plastic gloves together?

Once the seemingly harmless task of unpackaging my new garden toys was finished, I made my way to the bathroom in search of Disney BandAids and Neosporin. I dressed my wound, and gloved my hand so I could finally work on the beautification of our yard.

Several hours after clipping and shearing and pulling and tugging, I was just about finished. I heard the rustle of someone behind me, and I knew that Brian was actually awake.

“I was going to help.”

“I know.”


 

I wish I could end there with a few finger scratches and chipped nails…

Later that night, I felt intense bolts of pain shooting from my wrist when I rotated or pressed on it in certain ways. The pulling and tugging and throwing of the fucking dead grasses and shit was apparently a little rough on my arthritic wrists (which have actually built up a lot of strength thanks to yoga – alas, I’m not invincible). So I couldn’t hold my phone to fuck around on Facebook during the hour drive home from the North Side.

So by Sunday, my fingers were cut up, my nails were broken, my wrist was strained or something…and I’m not done yet.

WARNING: PAINFUL IMAGE DEPICTED BELOW.

A friend stopped by to donate a futon to our guest bedroom, and I went outside to help carry the pieces in. As we walked, three of us carrying the large mattress not unlike my awkward carting of Adirondack chairs the day before…when I tripped over my own bare toe. Why I thought carrying shit barefoot was a good idea ever at all…I’ll never know. But the image of the dirt-covered, bleeding, very large gash of lifted skin from the top of my toe with a giant flap where my toenail met the toe was nothing compared to the searing pain I’ve been in since it happened. My nail is pretty much digging into the raw cut, and I’m terrified of going near it with clippers, as the entire fucking toe is throbbing with pain. I figure I’ll be walking with a limp until June. So much for that spring pedi I was planning on getting myself.

Toe jam

This is my Flinstoe. Wrapped up in a lot of gauze and tape.

 

Blog Friends, what gardening/landscaping woes have you encountered this spring? Any recent injuries or mishaps? Got any tips for me so I don’t kill everything in our yard before we’ve been in our house a year? Am I the only one who finds staples to be among the most dangerous of packing materials?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Tiny Touches Can Brighten Even the Smallest Room

Now that Christmas is over (okay, almost over…Christmas may still be going strong in our house. I’ve only taken down three of the seven trees in our house), I’m starting to finally get into the making our house a non-holiday-decorated home. I’ve been looking for little accents to make spaces seem more homey and trying to find ways to really brighten the rooms.

I found some really great (and RIDICULOUSLY cheap) window treatments to make our dining room a stunning, sunny space.

And then I started to look online for some other decorative accents. I was invited to try out the home selection at Luna Bazaar, which has a great selection of votive holders, table runners and other really unique pieces to make a house a home. I opted for a few shell votive holders to make Brian’s bathroom a little nicer. We haven’t painted any of the bathrooms yet, so I’m working with what I can. Brian’s bathroom is the master bath, because I’m weird about preferring to shower in a tub – and the master bath is actually a full-size shower. The tiny room is BLUE. Like so blue, da bo dee da bo die wouldn’t even cut it. The entire bedroom and bathroom used to be that blue, but we’ll settle for painting the mostly visible parts and get to the bathroom part eventually.

 

I chose votive holders in colors that would match our blue/green bedroom theme just in case they didn’t work out in the bathroom (or if we ever do something really cool with Brian’s bathroom…I’m thinking maybe a deep sea theme (the octopod and dolphin are a good start, right?). Then the dark blue walls would totally work…

2015-01-18 16.32.12

It’s hard to see the ridiculous blue walls with the camera flash, but rest assured, it’s REALLY blue. I really love the way the votives look. The painted shells are very delicate, but elegant. When I was browsing Luna Bazaar for the products I wanted to purchase, I came across QUITE a few things I’d be considering over the next several months.

PC12WH-white-3-layer-capiz-lotus-candle-holder

With my new yoga venture (have you seen my mad skills on Instagram?), I’ve been thinking about setting up a better yoga space than the one I’ve been utilizing. This is in my bedroom (that weird window looks out onto our front room and I can just see myself falling down on a bad pose…):

2015-01-17 14.05.42

I really love the tapestries and wall hangings, and I think this wall hanging would look awesome in front of the window (and maybe block a little of the resonating sound from downstairs). Isn’t it beautiful?:

patchwork-tapestry-wall-handing-bedspread

And of course, I looked at some of the holiday stuff…For Halloween, I think I may NEED these skull lights.

-

Have you checked out Luna Bazaar yet? What items would you want to add to your home? What small accents have you added to spaces in your home to make them a little bit happier?

While no one paid me to say nice things, I did receive a gift code to purchase a few items from Luna Bazaar in order to tell you about them. Additionally, any links you use may be affiliate links, of which I will receive a small percentage of commission from your purchase. 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Sweet Baby Cheeses, We Found the Hidden Madonna

I realize that my mother is probably going to kill me and I’m probably going to hell courtesy of that title. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Whatever.

So, a couple months ago, I told you about the random shit that was left in our house by the previous owners. As we started settling into the house, we began discovering more little things that the former owners left for us.

Heading down into the basement, Brian found this little log cabin hidden under the stairs. It was kind of cute, and he told me to pick it up. I reached for it and discovered little baggies of stuff beside it.

Log Cabin Incense Burner

Would you have spotted that right away?

My first thought and question for Brian?

Log Cabin Incense

“Weed?”

I’m pretty sure he physically face palmed. “No, it’s for incense!” He was really excited about it. You burn the incense inside the log cabin and the smoke comes out the little chimney. The baggie was full of incense stuff.

“Oh.”

Definitely less interesting.

Another, more interesting, and definitely more random little nugget of awesomely weird that we (okay fine, our friend whose name is also Brian) found was hidden in the rafters of our basement.

 

Meet Madonna

Meet Madonna

I don’t know how. I don’t know why. I certainly don’t know when…but this happened. In our house. Long before it was our house. Someone sketched a permanent marker Madonna in our home. And because it’s not quite clear that it’s Madonna, he or she politely labeled it for us.

It makes me wonder if there were teenagers living here in the 90’s. And what kind of people they were. And if the parents ever found out that the kids did this…or worse – if one of the adults did this little artistic piece for their own jollies. The handwriting (based on my very scientific teaching skills) looks like middle school or early high school writing…but what do I know? My chicken scratch looks a little like that sometimes…and it is practically on the ceiling…So there’s that.

Either way, I’m having a lot of fun imagining stories in my head of the possible family that lived here before us.

Have you left your mark on your home? Have you discovered someone else’s mark left on your home? Even better – if you decide to, what would you do to represent yourself in a place that you may not live in forever?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Random Shit They Left Us

Good morning blog friends! Brian and I spent the weekend painting with my second mother (my mom’s best friend who just taught me how to paint a room). She and I also made our way downtown to a very depressing Bears game. And then back for more painting.

This is my backyard. Before it was my backyard. But it's pretty, right?

This is my backyard. Before it was my backyard. But it’s pretty, right?

So as I’m writing this (Sunday night), I’m covered in paint, in dire need of a shower (don’t ask how long it’s been), and beat to hell (is it nap time yet?).

But I really wanted to share this little gem of a story with you. Because I think it’s amusing.

The sellers of our house left us lots of helpful things to get started with our first homeownership adventure. I know that they were thinking of us when they left these things, because they sent a message through the attorneys asking if we wanted them to leave paint and extra fixture-type thingies. (Someone please tell me why EVERYTHING has to go through attorneys and real estate agents instead of just people to people? Because the games of Telephone that we had to play in this whole house-buying process was a giant pain in the ass.) We said “sure.”

Not that we wanted the extra paint in the rooms we would be painting over as soon as possible. But you never know.

So they left cans of paint and stain for the cedar siding. They left light bulbs and extra sticky tiles from the 80’s/90’s. They left bubble wrap and packing boxes. They left a bunch of normal, helpful stuff.
And then they left a whole bunch of random.

Like the brand new, unused skylight flashing dated back to 2004, which would have been PRETTY useful under the skylight that we have to get fixed because it has no flashing and was instead sealed with roofing tar and leaked into our attic/master bathroom (before we bought the house-we knew about it…no money pit here, yet). You know…useful stuff.

Even the curtains, while not really my style at all, are helpful...even if they are getting replaced asap. (By the way, feel free to note the paint color. Next to it is a blue family room and what was a salmon kitchen. Hence the weekend painting.)

Even the curtains, while not really my style at all, are helpful…even if they are getting replaced asap. (By the way, feel free to note the paint color. Next to it is a blue family room and what was a salmon kitchen. Hence the weekend painting.)

Or the insulation paper, which conveniently made the perfect tarp for painting.

painting tarp?

Or the strange yarn/belt/beady thing that I have no idea what it is.

It's like 5 feet long.

It’s like 5 feet long.

Or the magical mystery Ocen Spray cranberry juice bottle filled with some creepy, unlabeled brown liquid.

Juice? Maaaybe not.

Juice? Maaaybe not.

Which I assume is some sort of stain due to the close proximity of other stains and paint.
Paint and things
Which is mostly strange because they labeled fucking everything else. (This was one of Brian’s favorite features of the house. Labeled duct work.)

They also left the piece de resistance next to the bubble wrap in the basement…
Bubble wrap
Can you spot it?
Tighty Whities
Don’t worry, I took a close up. Of the tighty whities. Which I can only assume/hope are clean and were used as a cleaning rag of some sort. Brian and I are fighting over who has to remove them from the basement. I feel like they’re going to stay forever with the current standstill…

Of course, as people move out, they choose to take things with them.

Our sellers took the avocado green clothes dryer (and the washer) – we knew they were taking those. And the shower curtain rod. And the canned goods from the bathroom closet.
Canned goods in the bathroom
And the confederate flag.

I'm not upset that they took that with them. And they did a bangup awesome job of cleaning things up down there. So I'm not complaining. Just musing.

I’m not upset that they took that with them. And they did a bangup awesome job of cleaning things up down there. So I’m not complaining. Just musing.

Blog Friends, have you moved into a new place to discover strange things left behind? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen in a house? Have you left strange things behind? Would you do it just to be funny?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!