Another nice thing about a husband ...

Is that when you're buried under a mountain of covers, hair askew, clutching soiled Kleenex and sucking on menthol drops, he arrives home with a small pizza and breadsticks and brings you a glass of ice cold water.

Then, the next day when you're too blah to go to work, he's the one kissing your forehead and feeling your brow for fever while he thinks you're still sound asleep. And he's the reason you're grinning, eyes closed, under all those covers as he pulls the bedroom door closed and goes off to work.


Oh, baby!

Some of our closest friends were blessed with their first bambino on Oct. 22. She's a healthly, gorgeous little girl,"snug as a bug" in the photo above. Couldn't be more perfect. We are so happy for them! Welcome to the world, Devan Avery Fox!

It was moving to see the photos of two people we have known as a couple holding their own little one. They were in love with this little girl in every picture. I cannot wait to meet this gift and witness her mom and dad as parents.

Note: I have always been a baby person, a kid-lover. But, for now, my hubby and I are getting used to being a pair, taking care of a rambunctious dog, and enjoying young married life. No baby bug yet.


Monday Moment: No words needed.

It took me a long time after we returned from our honeymoon to find the words to write about that day and how it felt. It was just so much, so surreal, so deep inside of me. We're coming up on six months (this weekend!), and I still have no words to describe the moments captured in each of these images. What a gift to have had our living grandparents there to watch us take our vows, and what a blessing to feel those no longer with us smiling on us that day.


Operation kitchen: Part II

Last weekend we spent a few chilly hours outside with our paint sprayer, which is an absolute MUST, I think, for those considering undertaking cabinet-painting. I assisted Patrick (as is most prudent when dealing with a "mad-artist" DIY-er (see previous post)). We had fun making jokes and taking photos, even though there were some tense moments. As we made silly faces, Patrick made me promise not to blog with them. Ugh. Sorry! :)

You saw the kitchen of yore in my post a few weeks ago. Now, see below. This is the kitchen of now. Oy. A little bit of a disaster area.
Since the photo above, we've started demolition of the backsplash. (Goodbye, forever lemon yellow!) We're still contemplating the color, but I think we're pretty sure that we're going with a subway tile shape. Any ideas out there, creative people?

And here is the new counter, set atop the as-yet-incomplete revamped island. I love how the brown "granite" look complements the wall color. Lovely.

Pretty thing of the day: hydrangeas & sage

These pretty blooms are courtesy of Lynn, my mom. The green "filler" is actually sage. We've had these in our house now for a few weeks, and the hydrangea and the sage are drying up now. The sage is a surprise, the smell is sharp and yummy. Reminds me of fall. Happy Friday!


The STUFF of life

Real life Tuesday is all about the "stuff" of life. Stuff is a big part of getting married. You return home from the honeymoon to a house-full or car-full of mailbox-full of boxes, cards, packages -- all filled with stuff. As we waltzed through Crate & Barrel or Bed Bath & Beyond with our list and scanner wand, it seemed we needed all of these things.

Then, overwhelmed by styrofoam and wadded paper packing materials, we realize that oodles of glasses for every occasion are not really needs. They're things and expectations, like the mums and pumpkins I recently balked at.

It dawned on me, reading another blog's post about being a wife, that "stuff" and having it is another part of what changes when two people become partners. You see, until about a year ago (when cohabitation officially began), I was a young, 20-something nomad. I owned very few things. Those things were: hand-me-down dishes, worn pots and pans, discount sofa and chair, photos, and relics collected from college life, childhood, knick-nack gifts, and a few prints from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Impressive, yes. Worth? Only on a personal level.

What changed after all the packing material cleared away? Well, for instance, we've been throwing bickers back and forth about coffee mugs. Thanks to generous loved ones, we have 12 ivory, ceramic mugs. They were hitchhikers -- piece 5 in our cream-colored, everyday, porcelain placesettings (pictured above).

I think there is an implication in marriage of readiness to be weighed down by things, readiness to settle down. That's something I didn't really consider while waving the wand through the aisles of Crate & Barrel like I used to circle toys in the JCPenney catalog.

The immensity of settling down into life has slowly been settling itself into the pores of our life together. We own a house. We own 12 pretty matching mugs and 16 wine goblets and Calphalon spatulas. We needed a lot of these items to fill up our home. We own wedding bands. We wanted these to show our commitment. We own a permanent relationship. That's more commitment than a 30-year mortgage. I think it must be normal to have an ah-ha moment about all this a few months into marriage.

Yet, there is more to this "stuff." If I were "scanning" items in the registry of our life together (at least for the next few years) I wouldn't need to add much: a few great vacations, a little less student loan debt. Oh, and about 1,000 extra sq. ft. to store all of our "stuff." (wink, wink!)


Domestic duties: harvest decor

As a married person with a house in the Midwest -- rather a wife with a house in the Midwest -- am I required to purchase mums and pumpkins and use dried cornstalks to create a shrine to the harvest season?

This thought dawned on me as I drove through town last week and noticed that even the most humble homes had such displays, sometimes including more than three bundles of straw. No display at 7787 this fall, save for the orange volunteer mum blooming in our flowerbed.Was I not paying tribute to the fall gods and doing my part as a wife and keeper of decor?

Growing up, our house always sported seasonal decor. And Mums, pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, and scarecrows always made home feel more homey. Habits of comfort.It's ironic, then, that now that I'm in charge of making my home homey, I kind of decided to opt out of the whole harvest decor movement as a domestic protest of sorts. Kind of like a few weeks ago when I opted out of diong my husband's laundry to see how long he'd notice. Who decided women needed to do these things anyway?

That was before my parents came for a visit. Mom brought with her an orange jack-o-lantern tin filled with candy and a potted purple mum. I remembered that sometimes rituals of comfort make things feel a little warmer. Touché, Lynn. And that was before Patrick noticed the underwear shortage and pitched in with the laundry. He chipped in. Touché, honey.

I even put a pumpkin on the porch. And, yes, it seems comfortable. No harm in a little harvest. No harm in a little protest.


DIY: "Spooning" shower gift

For a recent bride's Labor Day shower, Tricia and I dreamed up another fun gift for another recently wed lady. Every couple registers for a bevy of spoons -- serving spoons, teaspoons, mixing spoons, wooden spoons. You get the idea. These essential kitchen items that people really do need kind of make cruddy gifts. Enter our deluxe spooning kit.

All of these spoons ... were bundled up in the light blue pillowcases from the the bride and groom's registry to make for a double-gift. T fashioned an adorable personalized tag. It read: "You’ll be doing a lot of spooning as a newlywed, so I packaged up these gifts for good measure. Each scoop is sure to give you pleasure!"

Fun, right? Katie, the lucky bride who received this prize of a shower gift, was married Oct. 3. (See photos of her big day) Best wishes to the newlyweds!


Tuscan red & a hint of lime

Very chilly fall weather is settling in here in the Midwest, but for some reason these inspirations reminded me of early September, the last dregs of summer. I've always loved limes, and if I knew my husband wouldn't give me a hard time about it, I'd go fill a shopping bag with fake ones for our kitchen right this moment.

Tuscan red & hint of lime

{photos: Jose Villa (2), Hollye Schumacher Photography, Zoeica Images.com}

Close your eyes, and imagine your favorite folks at these long wooden picnic tables, enjoying some shiraz (to keep with the tuscan-red theme, of course). I can almost hear the plates clattering and the laughter from the tables, covered with crisp white linens and vessels of deep merlot-colored zinnias and ruby tulips. Tapas -- like tiny mozarella-stuffed cherry tomatoes and decadent chocolate pretzels -- are being passed around. Yummy.


Operation kitchen!

The project begins. Our quaint country kitchen is completely dismembered this week. We're painting our worn-out wood cabinetry and replacing our countertops to give our little kitchen a facelift. Last weekend, we removed the upper cabinets and primed them for painting. We've spent hours lately working on the doors and removing hardware, sanding, and cleaning. Hence, the slack in posts lately (sorry!).

Yes, we're back to DIY-land. It seems like there are 500 steps now before the kitchen/dining room (one big area) is completely finished, but we're taking things one step at a time. Or at least, I'm trying to wait patiently for my fresh, crisp kitchen.

If there is a true trial and test for a relationship, it's a home project. Think about it: "redecorating" or "renovating" is really just costly and complicated upheaval. We have an older house, so things aren't always square or plumb. And when it comes to tape measures and levels: I. Have. No. Patience.

"Just do it!" I have been known to say.

On the other hand, my husband is precise and exact about his construction projects in the same way that I obsess over words and magazines. When Patrick goes into project mode, he's like a mad artist.

So, readers, bid farewell to that cozy kitchen in the photo above. Project tales and photos to come! For tips that helped us get started: Check out YHL's helpful cabinet-painting guide.


Happy birthday, EJD!

One of the absolute coolest things about growing up: realizing the worth of your siblings. I'm lucky to have three of them. They're friends that transcend trends and life stages. Emma (in the stunning bowl haircut and lovely mustard sweater, above, circa 1990.) turns 25 today. I'd be worried that she'll take offense to the photo above, but notice my double chin and 8-year-old front teeth. Happy birthday, sweet friend and sister, champion rower, wounded-bird healer, wonderful woman.


Monday Moment: Berry Nice

"What a Wonderful World" croons in the background, and I'm thinking sentimentally that I can't believe I'm dancing with my dad at my wedding. These are the moments that sometimes feel awkward at a wedding. And then Dad whispers to me, "I'll say a berry, then you say a berry. ... boysenberry." I smiled.

Me: "Blueberry?"
Dad: "Cranberry."
Me: "Strawberry."

By this time we are giggling, and the awkwardness melts away. We are laughing too hard.


How's married life?

Everyone: "So, how's married life?" 

Me/Patrick: How on earth do I articulate the answer to this question?! "It's good." 

"How is married life?" is a tough question to answer. You walk the line. You either really get into it like the person who gets into the particulars when you ask, "how are you?"expecting only a "fine." Or you feel lame when you smile and say, "It's good." 

Since we lived together before the wedding, not much has changed day-to-day. In this way, married life is a lot like unmarried life. But some things do change, or at least feel different. Fun things ... dates, talking about the future, painting walls and hanging photos. And not-so-fun-but-very-important things ... joint bank accounts, name changes, expectations. So, it's much less complicated to answer, "married life is fine." Or even make a joke, "So far, so good!" 

I wanted to share, though, some really great advice recently from a friend who is maybe more thoughtful and precise than anyone I've known. She said, "I just think about what that person is interested in and answer it from that angle." So, one person who is into budgets and investing says, "How's married life?" She talks about how they're figuring out where to spend and save. Another person who is interested in decorating asks. She answers that they're still putting things away and getting organized. 

I'm trying to put these suggestions into practice, but I think sometimes it's more important to ask this question of yourself/your spouse, "How is our married life? How are we making married life great today?"


Magazine lady

Some women have cats. Others wear leopard print. Others have 1,000 pairs of shoes. I hoard magazines. I love magazines. 

When a new cover arrives, I have been known to lose awareness of everything else and get lost in flipping through each page. Before reading, I mentally note the paper choices, the gloss varnishes, the design, the writing, the photo cropping -- all as though my opinion matters. It's a sick passion I have for magazines, writing, and design. It's my day job, actually. 

So, imagine my dismay this week when Conde Nast followed other major corporations and folded three titles, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, and Gourmet. Indeed, the world of magazines is changing. In the last year, it was bye bye to the budget decor niche -- Cottage Living (my favorite!), Blueprint, and Domino

We can now download Grapes of Wrath to our iPhones or read the New York Times online. We get e-newsletters, e-coupons, e-mail receipts. None of this is news to anyone reading this blog.

In light of all of the magazine doom and gloom, I recently disovered the answer to the loss of Cottage and its cohorts, a new Web "magazine," Lonny. Wonderful writing, creative design, cool content ... but you can't hold it in your hand? It's an online flip-through PDF. Is this the future of magazines? 


Monday Moment: Gifts

A sentiment I shared often during our engagement was that it was humbling to receive so many gifts from others just for being happy. Showers, cards, cash, wedding gifts, registries, and kind words. And there are monogrammed wedding party flasks or keychains (we skipped those) and “thank you” gifts (we gave those).

I gave Patrick a Magnolia seedling for our wedding, packaged in a simple burlap sack. No, it's not like Kate Hudson's "love fern" from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Patrick's a plant guy. Get him around a seed or sprout or any kind of living, growing thing and he is fascinated and wildly talented at making that thing thrive. If his green thumb applies to our life, metaphorically, I'm on solid ground. I received a necklace that, when clasped around my neck, made Patrick look proud. I wore it to the ceremony. I was kind of floored at the thought of giving my groom a gift. Isn’t your wedding your gift to one another, your heart? As with most things in life, I overanalyzed and considered and searched for the ideal card, the one item that would convey the journey we took together. FAIL. Impossible. Humbling. But the giving was worth it.


Holy honeymoon

This week has been a little hectic, so I'm missing the crystal waters and blue skies of Nassau. I needed a moment this morning to remember what exactly that looked like. So, I thought I'd post a little breathing space for you, too.

So sorry for slacking in posts. I promise to write again soon. On the upcoming blog roster: nesting, cake baking fiascos, how to answer the question, "how's married life?," and tales from a gift registry alumna.