The homeless man living in our backyard

I’m pretty confident there was a homeless man living in our backyard this summer. I found a man’s winter coat tossed haphazardly in the weed forest a few weeks ago, and that was my initial suspicion. The thought hasn’t let up. What else could it possibly be? No one wears a winter coat in the middle of summer except homeless people — or someone with a serious case of the flu. Maybe.
homeless man's coat in my backyard
Brian, who’s been home most of the summer while I galavanted across the country, suggested that it was one of the neighbor’s coats, so I marched next door, knocked on the door, and when he answered asked if the coat belonged to him. It didn’t. He also looked at me like I was insane (probably because of the crazy eyes). Well, there goes the most plausible explanation. It was time for my imagination to run wild.
I walked back to the house where Brian was busy painting the deck and didn’t have an opinion…or even care that this giant coat was found in our backyard. It couldn’t possibly have been blown through the neighborhood because it was one of those super heavy work jackets, and there hasn’t been any gale-force wind up in the Chicago suburbs lately. 
Which left a couple of options.
1. It belonged to a homeless man sleeping in my backyard.
2. It’s discarded evidence from a crime.
I graciously placed the coat on my fence because a. I was not bringing that thing inside — it could have bugs. Or germs. Or be evidence for a murder or something and b. I thought if the homeless man came back, he would realize that I had left his coat in a place he could access without coming into my backyard, and perhaps he’d realize that I was on to him. And would possibly sick Louis the squirrel on him. Or maybe the cops. 
Brian apparently spoke with the other neighbor on the other side of our house, and they both think that it was left by a ComEd dude. But I just want to point out that IT IS SUMMER. No one wears a heavy coat in the summer.
Nearly a month later and the coat and I are at a standstill. I refuse to move it from the fence and it refuses to disappear. I realize that I could also throw it away, but it’s a pretty decent coat.
But I’m also left wondering, what happened to the homeless man who was living in my backyard? Maybe he moved to someone else’s backyard across town. Though heaven only knows why. I still have tomatoes and peppers galore in my garden if he were to get hungry. And my backyard is welcoming and cozy as fuck. It’s all Illinois Prairie gardeny and shit.
Illinois prairie backyard with milkweed
What would you do? How do you think it got in my backyard?
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 things that save my marriage every day

Brian and I have been married for more than 6 months now, so I’m pretty confident that gives me authority to offer up marriage advice.

Bride and groom kissing at head table

As it turns out, there are a lot of things that can help a marriage along, especially when you’re navigating alternative facts and not really sure what’s real and what Chrissy says is real, but really isn’t. Luckily for you, I have just what you need to succeed in wedded bliss. These four simple household devices have made marriage more than bearable. They’ve made this whole lawfully wedded thing quite pleasant, actually. And I’m pretty confident we couldn’t survive without them.

1. Toothpaste roller

Aquafresh toothpaste in a toothpaste roller

You’ll note the indent where I squeeze and the roller that Brian uses to roll. Confession: I have never rolled it.

Marriage is all about compromise, my friends. And this squeezing device automatically settles the age-old argument whether to squeeze or roll the toothpaste tube. And the settlement? It’s totally a compromise. As a squeezer, I get the first half of the tube (and really, let’s be honest here, I squeeze even when the roller is attached), and Brian gets to make sure we roll every last dob of toothpaste from the tube. He’s nothing if not fiscally responsible.

2. Bath and sink hair snare

Drain hair remover hooked to bathtub faucet

I had to Google what this one was called, because I wanted to write shower grabby hair remover thingy, and Brian (my very professional personal editor) suggested I find out what it’s actually called. I think a study on the before and after will help demonstrate the effectiveness of this device.

Before marriage: I would yell down to Brian that my shower drain wasn’t draining fast enough, which meant that it was blocked. Then he’d have to come unscrew the drain plug dealie, and find something to play plumber and remove my red hair.

After marriage: Teach a wife to fish…or so the saying goes…Brian bought me this silly $5 stick, and I use it religiously. (I told him not to bother screwing the plug back in, because that thing is a pain in the ass.) Before my drain is super clogged, I check it with the hair snare, because I’m weird and gross and amused. I do this probably every other time I clean the bathroom. And just a few stray (okay I shed like a maniac, so more than a few) blonde hairs come out with the snakey thing. And Brian no longer has to deal with my bathroom. I wear gloves, though, because ew.

Compromise? I think Brian wins this one majorly.

3. Mounted paper towel holder

The paper towel holder that never moves. Bestill my heart. Here’s another example of the before and after of marriage that just works.

Paper towel holder underneath cabinet

Before marriage: I would go to grab a paper towel to dry my hands, clean up a spill, distribute olive oil in a pan, provide a nonslip surface for my cutting board, or any number of other uses that a paper towel provides…and the damn roll would be nowhere in sight. As I raced through the house searching for the paper towels, which were usually on the floor of the TV room, I would loudly inform Brian how infuriating it was that the paper towels were never in the kitchen.

After marriage: The paper towels are ALWAYS in the same place. Hooked to the bottom of the cabinet next to the sink. I don’t know if anything has ever made me so happy.

Compromise. I win.

4. My magical Le Creuset

Blue Le Creuset sitting on stovetop

I was only going to have three items on this list, but Brian told me I should probably include my favorite piece of kitchen cookware. You see, when I dragged him to Bed Bath & Beyond, and stared longingly at this ridiculous, high-priced luxury item, he thought I was absolutely insane. I probably am, honestly. And then he told me if I got one, he threatened to boil hot dogs in it, as he does with all the wrong pans.

I have been jonesing for one of these beauties FOREVER.

At Christmas, Brian kept telling me how bad he felt because he only got me two gifts, which ended up being the 9-quart Le Creuset and a kickin’ light-up skirt from ThinkGeek. Who cares how many presents there are when one of them is a flippin’ ceramic-coated, cast iron dutch oven from France.

Obviously,  my first question was, “Did you use a coupon?” Because you bet your ass I would have taken it back, and rebought it with a coupon! Those things never expire, and they add up.

 

But now he loves this thing as much as I do. Because short ribs. And roasts. And mostly all the things I can make inside of it become happiness on Brian’s dinner plate. Compromise. I get an expensive pot to play with. Brian threatens to cook hot dogs in it, but relishes in the fruits of its labor.

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And sometimes your husband buys you cookware so you can make him dinner like a good little housewife. And everyone wins.

What devices/appliances/tools make your marriage or relationship or roommate situation work?

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!

Good Morning, Sunshine

When I was a little girl, one of my mom’s best friends got married. Her wedding was the first big wedding I had ever been to, and the only one I recall from my childhood. I remember hunting down the servers with passed hors d’oeuvres, searching for shrimp cocktail. I remember playing with the other kids in the super fancy bathroom. I remember the ceremony and riding in the car with several of the bridesmaids from the church to the reception. But what I remember most of all was the morning of the wedding.

A dozen or more women and girls, racing around the bride’s house. Pantyhose flying, curling irons sizzling, jewelry clasping, and (because it was the very early 90’s) a cloud of hairspray wafted through the house. My hair was French braided, a style I adored but could never accomplish on my own or even with the help of my mom.
The house was buzzing with life, love, and joy. Pure, unadulterated joy. Hectic, crazy, and loud, but happy. Full of excitement.
So when it came time for my wedding…I knew I couldn’t settle for less than that. So in addition to my bridal party, my mom and other women in my life, including the bride whose wedding morning inspired my own, joined me the morning of the wedding for the start of a beautiful, happy, and magical day.
Pointing at my awesome bride hoodie in front of my tri-fold mirror where my wedding dress hung was one of my favorite photos.

At the last minute, I bought this hoodie and a bride tank top from Amazon, and they both arrived the day before the wedding!

I woke up the morning of the wedding, put on my tie-dye yoga pants and other bridewear, and quietly snuck out to get myself some breakfast. I picked up bagels and cream cheese along with a fruit platter for the onslaught of ladies.
After a delightful exchange with the dude at Einstein Bagels (He was all, “It’s your wedding day? Why are you buying the bagels?” and I was all, “Because everyone is sleeping, and I was hungry.”), I made my way back to my bed, where Brian was sleeping and I started playing with my Snapchat filters.
 I created a wedding day snapchat geofilter for my house the morning of the wedding.
 If you remember from our Cheesy wedding prep, Ally spent the night at our house.  If you’re debating whether to have people sleep at your house on the night before your wedding, do it. It was fun to have her there the night before, and even more fun in the morning. It was no surprise that when she woke up, she started playing with Snapchat filters too.
My bridesmaid created a wedding morning blanket fort in the guest room and sent me a Snap to invite me to jump in on her cozy.
Obviously, I left my sleeping husband and went to snuggle with my awake bestie. Shortly thereafter, Katie arrived. And my future sister-in-law. And my friend Laura with the flowers. And my hairdresser. And Rachel with two of the three kids. And the rest of the ladies. And the photographer. It got loud and crazy real fast.
Katie and Ally jumped into helping Laura with flower stuff in my garage. I sat down with Katelyn for some hair magic. If you can, GET YOUR HAIRDRESSER TO COME TO YOUR HOUSE. This was one of the best decisions I made through the whole planning process. We didn’t start until like 10am. I didn’t have to leave my house or drive 20 minutes or worry about anything.The rest of the ladies snacked and started doing their hair and makeup as well.
I’ll let the photos do some of the talking:
I wanted a boho chic, but sleek wedding hairdo with a side braid and curls and low-side pouf. My hairdresser nailed it.

I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect visualization of the wedding hair I wanted.

my aunt putting on my bridal make-up the day of my wedding.

I told my aunt, who used to have her own line of make-up, that I wanted to look like the butterfly snapchat filter. I may be biased, but I think she nailed it.

 

I love this wood tri-fold standing mirror in my bedroom. It was the perfect spot to hang my wedding gown.

When I bought this wood tri-fold standing mirror at an estate sale last summer, I knew I wanted it for wedding photos (yes, before Brian and I were engaged).

 

We received a personalized wedding gift of Connect Four with our wedding colors and hashtag

For our wedding, we received a personalized Connect Four from a couple of our friends.

Black and white bridal photo in front of a tri-fold mirror in bride's bedroom

bride and flower gir bridal photo in front of a tri-fold mirror in bride's bedroom

We have this window from our bedroom to our front room that made for a perfect Bridal sneak peek before the big reveal

We have this window from our bedroom to our front room that made for a perfect bridal sneak peek before the big reveal

 

Some of the amazing women in my life looking up at me in my bedroom window on my wedding day

Don’t mind the mess y’all…I made the photographer come take a photo from my POV because this was awesome.

The bride is coming down the stairs and her family and friends are watching.

And then I came down stairs…the photographer called this, “the big reveal” even though everyone had been in and out of my bedroom 😉

Bride coming down stairs

Taking a wedding photo in my grandfather's chair

Anyone who has ever been to my house knows that this was my grandpa’s chair, and I used to play in it as a little girl. I freaking love this chair.

We ordered Jimmy John’s for lunch (which I managed to finally slam 5 minutes before the ceremony when I realized I was starving. Yes, a Jimmy John’s Vito, full of delicious garlicky goodness right before my wedding. I also split it with the ring bearer who kept asking me for a bite), so everyone had something to eat, and they delivered Freaky Fast as JJ tends to do. And then we all rolled out in a party bus I hired at the last minute (are you catching a theme here, guys?) when I realized I didn’t know how to get 13 people from my house to the venue.

Are you tired of wedding nonsense, yet?

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!

How GE Lighting Brightened My Reading Spot

I was offered the opportunity to give a room in my home a mini-makeover with lighting from GE, and I thought to myself, self, this sounds like a great excuse to clean your apartment.

And then it took me several weeks to clean my apartment.

Are you surprised? Me neither.

The One Change I Made to Brighten Our Family Room.

So when GE sent me free light bulbs to test out the difference between soft white light and GE Reveal bulbs, and when I finally cleaned the disaster of an apartment (and put away the Christmas village), I took it upon myself to spruce up my favorite spot in the apartment (aside from my cozy squishy bed…), my reading chair.

GE Lighting
The bulbs looked pretty sweet to me. Brian was just excited to have acquired more free things we need for our home (or maybe I was excited. One of those.). I’m sure he can’t wait to see what happens when we get a house later this year…Then again, neither can I…well, whatever. This is the Chrissy Show anyways. But for now, we’ll have to settle with lighting up the apartment.

I love this chair. I learned to read in this chair. I remember being a tiny little (FINE) chubby little girl who could sit in the chair with her entire collection of Barbie dolls and read a book or put together a puzzle of the United State while watching Faerie Tale Theater’s Sleeping Beauty or Rainbow Bright on laser disc. (Yeah, I had a sweet childhood.) Anyways, I figured it was the perfect place to add a little bright lighting. And I was most certainly right.

 

Below, I’ve taken a few pictures of my reading chair to showcase the difference with before and after shots of the lighting.

Please forgive the barren nature of my walls. With Christmas just recently departed and plans to move soon, I never got around to adding a splash of color to the giant wall behind my reading chair.

And actually…One of the things that I think is really cool about lighting is that it not only brightens up a room, but it can also add depth and texture to your walls. Sure, I don’t have fancy art on the wall above my chair, but look at the way the lamp shadows behind itself when the light is directly on the area. It looks awesome, right?

Before:

When the light is indirectly shining on my reading chair

When the soft white light is indirectly shining on my reading chair

After:

When the light isn't directly aimed at the spot, it's still brighter and more natural

When the GE Reveal light isn’t directly aimed at the spot, it’s still brighter and more natural

Before:

This is what soft white lighting looks like on my book chair.

This is what soft white lighting looks like on my book chair.

After:

Shining the GE Reveal Light on my favorite spot

Shining the GE Reveal Light on my favorite spot

So you can see that it doesn’t look bad with the soft white lighting, but the GE Reveal is actually super bright and makes it feel like natural lighting. I’m a huge fan of the new lighting. And so is Staley the Bear.  We’ve been using the new lighting for a few days now, and it’s really picking up the mood around here, too. Winter may be long and depressing, but spring will be here soon, amiright?!

If you’re interested in learning more about GE Reveal, you can visit GE’s website at www.gelighting.com/reveal.

*These opinions are all my own. Other than the complimentary light bulbs, I was not compensated in any other way to write nice things in this post. I truly love the way the Reveal lighting looks in our home.

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!