It’s Our Life

Get Lit

I did something yesterday. I added lights to my deck and I’m sooooo in love that I had to share pictures. Yes, they are Christmas lights. Yes, they are still awesome. I think I’m going to add some to my three seasons porch too so I don’t need to turn on the big bug magnet lights all the time. 

It all started when I was sitting on my deck with my friend Amber and we couldn’t see anything. So we’ll blame Amber for this. 

One of my friends said “It looks festive. Tacos and margaritas on the deck.” My friends have incredible ideas sometimes. #TacosAreLife

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Did Ya Miss Me? 

A lot has happened in the past couple years. I’ll try to fill you in as I go, but I miss blogging. I have some big projects planned for the house in the near future. In fact, I started one over the weekend. My posts might short, but they’ll be here. Are you ready for a picture? 

Then I called to ask them to move it where I really wanted it. 

Now it’s time to fill it up! So much happening and I can’t wait!!!!

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It’s Been A While

It’s been a while right? I have a lot of excuses, but none of them are good enough. I intended for this blog to be about our house and our life and all that kind of boring stuff. Yesterday, it dawned on me that you’re probably reading this blog for one of three reasons. 1 – You are a DIYer (or an aspiring one) 2 – You are a designer (or an aspiring one) 3 – You think I’m the coolest. For those reasons, I thought I might share a little bit of what I’ve been doing. Way back in February I started a new job at McGregors Furniture. I get to help people design their homes and choose the furniture that makes them feel inspired…I sell furniture. I work in the store, but I also go to my clients’ homes and measure and choose and help them make their house into a home…and a stylish one at that. I’ve done a few designs since I started and I’m not sure why I haven’t shown them to you. Next week two of my absolute favorite clients are having their furniture delivered. I. Can’t. Wait. Until there are before and after photos to show you, I decided to share my moodboard and layout of their space. First the layout

upstairs layout


Now the moodboard. John & Sara are fun and contemporary and their style completely fits their personalities. redone

Eeeek! I’m so excited to see this! I created the board with Olioboard. Have you checked that out yet? It’s awesomesauce. Over to the right on this page, you’ll see a link to follow me there.

Time to go work on a layout for another client. Oh, and I’ll work on editing photos from re-screening our three seasons porch and staining the deck too. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ve probably already seen the highlights, but I promise a post that gives you the deets too.


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A Reason to Celebrate

A little long while ago I shared with you a tutorial on how I made a wreath for my niece’s birthday party. We did a lot more for the party so I thought I would share with you some party pics today. It was a fabulous modern shabby chic party. These are the invitations I designed.

Shower Invitations-001

We coordinated a few other things with the invitation. Like the stickers on the cups and the ice cream dishes/cups and on the favor bags. It was difficult to find cups that were grey rather than silver but my friend, Amber was out shopping and found some lacy grey ones. She also won the hero of the month award for that and a shameless plug for her cookie business, A Cookie Family. Seriously, check it out. Girl has talent! Now, back to this party. Those little chevron bags are from Cute Tape and they have sugar cookies in them

Misc Edits-001

No shabby chic party would be complete without some doilies right? Well, they were on the favor bags for the kids and on the clear plastic plates

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic PartyThen there is lace. Lace is a must too, don’t ya think? Maybe some lace on the utensils?

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

The tablecloth was lace layered over a white tablecloth. And what about that absolutely adorable little birthday girl?

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

And I absolutely adore this lacy little bird that I found right before the party

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

We were going to make lace wrappers for the cupcakes, but I found some lacy looking cupcake liners that didn’t require sewing a bunch of lace so we went with those. That little grey owl was a bonus for my niece who has an owl room.

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

It was difficult to find the smokey purple color in a lot of things, so we improvised. We created some yarn balls/lanterns and hung them from the trees outside. And by “we” I mean my parents/Evalee’s grandparents, of course.

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

We used two colors of grey and that fab smokey purple. I also used those same colors of yarn to make a yarn pom tree for the table

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

In addition to this wreath that I made,


I also used the fabric strips to make a rag banner. I had to do a lot of shopping to find the right purples for this banner. It was a tough mission, but I took one for the team.

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

I found some cardstock in the right color so I made a pennant banner for Miss E complete with jute string and little clothespins. Post party, Evalee got to hang her name up in her room

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

I used the same cardstock for the labels on the beverages that were tied on with more of those fabric scraps

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

The fabric strips also proved useful for making the cans of whipped cream for the pancake bar look less like, well, cans of whipped cream. First they were wrapped in fabric and then Evalee chose the strips to tie around the middle. Don’t be concerned about the pancakes. They are supposed to look like that. We added purple sprinkles to the pancakes. It’s in the details right? I also bribed my mom into making little heart shaped pats of butter. I really need to just make a bunch of those and put them in my freezer.

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

The other food was apple slices with fruit dip and then there is my SIL’s absolutely famous tater tot casserole. When I say famous, I mean famous. It’s all over Pinterest. Seriously, I pinned this recipe a couple years ago and occasionally I still find it showing up being pinned by people I follow. So crazy that it’s still making the rounds! She usually makes it in a 9×13 pan and then a couple years ago, I started making it in a muffin pan because I have a love affair with my muffin pan. I suggested this for the party and Jenna loved it, so that’s what she did. My recommendation is that if you are going to make them this way use foil lined cupcake liners or no liners at all.

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

That’s the short of the party. It was absolutely adorable.Just like the birthday girl

Vintage Modern Shabby Chic Party

A couple weeks before Evalee’s birthday, she had an allergic reaction to her dog. Then she had one to her cat. The first reaction was a shock. They didn’t know she was allergic to the animals, but knowing the signs of anaphylaxis, Jenna gave her an epi shot and after a trip in the ambulance to the hospital she went home that night. Fast forward and she reacted to Jazmyn also. Another epi shot and Bailey and Jazmyn got new homes. Bailey, the dog, is now living with my aunt and if you follow me on Instagram you may be able to deduce that Jazmyn now lives with us. It’s sobering to think that if my brother and sister-in-law weren’t educated advocates for their daughter, we may not have been celebrating Evalee’s fifth birthday with her. It’s also a reminder that each day is precious and a gift. It’s up to us to make it count!






Categories: Everyone Loves a Party, Foodie Faves, It's Our Life, The Road to Understanding | Leave a comment

I Need S’more Time

There are usually two things that have starring roles in our summer. 1 – S’mores. 2- Grilling. I really, really love summer…I wish it was longer. Yes, Kristen, I know it would be longer if we lived in North Carolina. So, last fall I was not ready to give up s’mores or the grill. I found this uber cute mini grill made from an Altoids tin and showed it to the hubs.


He loves an engineering challenge so when I couldn’t find an Altoids tin, he hijacked the cats’ bowls and according to him they were willing to give them up because “it was for their mommy’s birthday present.” He also did a few other things different…like add a lid and not put holes in the bottom. But I thought I needed to share this



The grates are covers for computer fans and the “ash catcher” is the bottom of a soda can. It’s more for aesthetics and cuteness because there are no holes in the bottom of the grill. That means I can use it inside (fully attended) and it’s easier to get the charcoal to stop burning with the lid also.


Look how fabulously golden brown these are


And I got to have Birthday/Thanksgiving s’mores (my birthday was on Thanksgiving). See, I’m one lucky lady!


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Gettin’ Zinc-y

I love wreaths. I said it. It’s out there. Do I always get wreaths switched out? Nope…as in no way on God’s green earth. We currently have a gorg wreath on our front door and it’s not a Christmas one. Some people might see this as an accomplishment. Not this girl…it’s my Halloween wreath. Boo. So I love wreaths in theory. My favorite wreathy lady is Ms. Sweet Georgia Sweet. Have y’all seen her stuff?

Sweet Georgia Sweet on Etsy

Sweet Georgia Sweet on Etsy

What talent! Me? I don’t have the patience and I believe that Bethany must have the patience of a saint…so does anyone who makes jewelry. Seriously, I don’t know how y’all do it. I think the next wreath that dons my door will be ordered not made.

My niece’s birthday party was in February and I decided way too late to make her a wreath. In fact, you may have seen this on Instagram


Then it took me about half of forever to write a post. Since I got an iPad I rarely use my laptop anymore and I haven’t figured out how to post from the iPad (forgive me if this turns out bad!)

The whole process started with a wreath form from Michaels like I used for my coffee filter wreath. This time I painted it so if I didn’t cover all of the form with fabric it wouldn’t look as bad.


Then I cut strips of fabric about 2×7 1/2 inches and started tying them. I used eight different fabrics in smokey purple, grey and one was a bright pink. I didn’t exactly make them random, but I didn’t make it a specific pattern either. I just made sure they were scrunched together.

I also had some inspiration when I was shopping one day. I was at Laurel (if you live in Cedar Rapids, you have to check this place out) and saw zinc letters. They are just a few inches tall and I wanted a giant E for the middle of the wreath…since her name starts with E. First I painted the letter with a light blue green color then with silver. And when I say I painted it, I mean I told my mom how I wanted it painted and she did it (thanks Mom). Then I took some sandpaper and made it look a little distressed to go along with the whole shabby chic feel of the party.


I also found this giant silver flower thing one day and picked it up thinking “I’m going to use this for E’s party somehow.” So I made a hole in the top of the E and clipped the flower onto it.


Next step was to attach the E to the wreath. I just hot glued the corners of the E and centered it on the wreath and it was fab


The next morning I took it to my brother and SIL’s house and hung it on their front door for the party. That’s right, I decorated inside and outside of their house. Then I proceeded to forget to take a picture of it hanging on the door. Oops! And since I gave Miss E the choice of whether she got to keep it or it came home with me and I rarely say no to my nieces and nephews because I’m that aunt Evalee got to keep the wreath and I had to ask my brother to send me a picture of it.


Now I’m making one for my craft room. Since it will just be for me to see it’s taking me a long time due to the aforementioned lack of patience on my part. My letter is copper too so it will go with the copper in our house. Eventually between work, school and family I’ll get it done and show you the pictures. For right now, I occasionally look at E’s wreath and smile because it’s cute…and it reminds me that I have patience…even if it is only with my nieces and nephews.

Categories: Everyone Loves a Party, It's Our Life, Projects, Tutorials | Leave a comment

Cupcakes + Rollercoasters = Love

In one of the first posts I did on this little blog you met my friend Ashley and I shared with you our somewhat stalker tendencies when it comes to John & Sherry from Young House Love. Did ya go back and read the post? It’s a short one, but it will probably make you wonder about my stability so I’m not sure why I’m reminding you it’s there. Anywho…Ashley and I knew that wherever the YHL book tour went, we were going to go to one of the stops. We both have a love for Chicago so that’s what we were planning. Then our trip to Chi-town was squashed when my SIL decided to get married that day. After a little debate I decided to go to her wedding (just kidding Meagan) and we decided on Minneapolis for our chance to party like rockstars. After we’d decided I spent a month looking for a keychain that was a rhinestone $ for $herdog. Couldn’t find one [sad face]. I also decided at the last minute (aka too late) that I wanted to get us t-shirts that said “I’m With the Band”. Good thing their book deal was a two shot thing. Next time…next time.
I also decided (seriously, I’m not usually this good with decisions) that this trip was going to be my birthday party. Cause when your birthday is on a holiday it sometimes gets missed. I admittedly whine about this way too much, but I’m also celebrating an anniversary of my 29th birthday so in all that time I’ve learned to take matters into my own hands and plan my own birthday parties. Plus, how awesome to have John & Sherry at my birthday party?!?! Dream. Come. True. (please don’t be scared). Unfortunately Ashley couldn’t go at the last minute, buuuut my friend Amanda stepped in! So I picked up Amanda on that amazing Wednesday morning and we took off to Minnesota. After a stop at Starbucks of course

We stopped at a gas station to get gas (of course) and take a picture with this bear?

We were watching the time tick down on the GPS trying to figure out how long we would have at Ikea (hallelujah)

We finally got to Minneapolis and headed straight to Ikea (hallelujah) and had lunch there and of course shopped. Then we went to the Mall of America. I’d never been there and Amanda used to go there a lot when they lived in Minnesota so she helped keep me on task instead of letting me wander around with my mouth open and eyes wide like a kid on Christmas. The tasks were to ride a roller coaster and pick up cupcakes. We rode the roller coaster and then stumbled our way to Cupcake. When did I get so old that I couldn’t walk straight after a 30 second roller coaster ride? We went to Cupcake so we could officially call this our birthday party (Amanda’s birthday was last weekend)! Ya see, I posted on YHL facebook page that this was my party and I was bringing cupcakes so they could sing happy birthday to me. The kicker was that they agreed! So we were in search of cupcakes. We just needed any cupcakes, but the s’more variety was preferred so when we found these I was completely and totally jazzed!

Aaaaaand they were a winner from Cupcake Wars? Holla! This added to the whole rockstar experience!

Post roller coaster and post cupcakes we made our way back to the car with me muttering to Amanda “I can’t believe this is actually happening. I can’t believe this is actually happening.” We got to West Elm around 4:30 and joined in the line.

Around 6pm we started filing in and made it close to inside. We were standing right outside the window where they sat for signing. I may have gone a little paparazzi and just started snapping pictures. Later when I showed them to Ashley she said “It’s like watching a movie”.

We had a couple hours to look around the store while we were in there waiting in line

I decided that I may want to do something like this above the sink in our kitchen (as in I definitely do).

The closer we got to the table the more and more freaked out I started to get. At one point I looked at Amanda and said “I hope I don’t faint or cry.” Then we came upon these cookies that took my mind off it for a little while.

Not long after we passed the cookie table, Amanda started counting people ahead of us. That’s when I really started faaa-reaking out.

So, the absolutely terrible part? My phone died. Amanda’s phone died. Fortunately, there were some fab ladies behind us in line and we knew they were as big of fans as us when we heard them talking about feeling like stalkers and like they were meeting Justin Bieber. That’s how I felt. I commented on a facebook post Ashley made the day before. Honestly, only two of those three things didn’t happen.

I felt totally comfortable asking them to video the happy birthday serenade and then emailing it to me. And one of them agreed!!!! I feel like I owe her my first born child or something. There. Are. No. Words. Video time? Please note, I was so excited I forgot to mention to them it was Amanda’s birthday too (Sorry Amanda) and I was completely flustered. I cried. I actually cried. Amanda said that she kept looking at me waiting for me to faint. I didn’t. I held it together (for the most part). Sherry was signing Ashley’s book when she was singing and started to say Ashley’s name (so she was there in spirit) But here’s the video

UPdate: Today I read an email from the super kind lady who took that video. Know why she’s awesome? She’s a blogger (shoulda known). Here’s her post about the meet and greet. Go on, check it out. Give her some love. Thankfully, she’s pg so she may not make me give her our firstborn. Whew. Bullet=dodged.

Of course we had to get a picture with them and our cupcakes

Then I took a picture of my new prized possession

And on Saturday Amanda’s husband posted this picture and caption on facebook

Amanda’s fortune from last nights dinner. If she would have received this Tuesday night or Wednesday lunch I would have been sold on these fortune cookies for life!

All in all it was an AMAZING day! Can’t wait for round two!!! Anyone else go to get a book signed?



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Cutie Patootie Miss E

Well, friends, I’m not ashamed that I’m here to beg. See this angel right here?

I think she’s pretty awesome. She is, after all, my niece so she didn’t really have a choice to be anything but awesome. Her mama (my SIL) entered this picture in a contest. Pretty please go vote for her on Livie & Luca. You only vote once so I won’t bug you every day to go vote over and over. But once? Just once for the little girl who looked at her mom this week and said “I haven’t seen Auntie Amy in awhile,” complete with a pouty face.
Once I’m safely past a presentation for school tomorrow, I can’t wait to show you the project that the hubs painted last week. It seriously makes my heart skip a beat every time I look at it. Check out my Instagram feed to get a small sneak peek (username: thisDIYlife).

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