Framed "heart" and "state" prints - showing the states we've lived with little hearts on the cities

The frame in these photos is one I bought early on in our marriage, years and years ago.  I've attempted to use it in many of our homes, in many different ways, but there is only one of our previous homes (out of five) that it really looked happy and in the place it was meant to be.  In the other homes it just didn't go with the decor or style at the time.

Luckily the farmhouse and rustic look is 'in' again and I was able to drag it out of my bedroom storage closet and try to decide how to use it... this time.

I tried various family photos but it just wasn't working for me.  Another issue is that in our current home, the walls are often at angles or have windows taking up a large portion of them and there just isn't a good spot for it.

But this wall had an empty space above the window, right above a matching farmhouse table, so I decided I had found the space...  but needed something different to fill the frames.

I've always loved art, printables and pillows, etc. that feature your home state with the little heart(s) to represent the cities where you've lived.  I've always loved them... but never owned anything as such.

I started to look at some ideas online and realized I could easily make my own!

Finding a silhouette image of your home state online is fairly easy.

I then opened the image up in a simple (free) paint program and added a little white heart shape, followed by the text editor to insert the state.

We've lived in five states so far, and my frame had five openings so it fit perfectly and was so quick and easy!

I simply printed them off on my home computer, (using card stock) cut to size and framed.

Using my own frame and cardstock I already had pieces of in the cupboard, this was my zero cost framed 'state' print and I love them.

I also found some related products available on Amazon you might be interested in as well!

   Primitives by Kathy Wanderust Inset Box Sign, 8 x 8.5-Inches, Wisconsin

  Kindred Hearts 12"x13.5" Wisconsin State Slogan Pallet Board Wall Art

   Wisconsin State Home Barn Wood Sign

  Louisiana LA Home Script | State Silhouette | Glossy White Outdoor Vinyl | Car Window Decal | 5" x 5"


Arthritis like pain and swelling; swollen joints, pimple like bumps... all from a prick by a ROSE bush? Yep.

This is a topic I've been meaning to touch on for about 6 years now and just never took the time to write about it. 

I figured it might be helpful to others going through the same thing to at least read about it and perhaps put some fears to rest.

It's about the joint pain, bumps, little pus filled pimple like eruptions and the arthritis like swelling associated with pricks from your roses and rose bushes.  Especially the Southern favorite - "Double Knock-Out Roses" which I found to be the worst offenders.

I'm a Northern girl, transplanted to the South and inherited a backyard full of gorgeous, huge, prolific roses.   When I decided to do the pruning of them after our first year in our current home, I wore gloves, got my pruning sheers and went to town.  Sure, I got some pricks but it's rather unavoidable and really... no big deal.  Right?  Wrong.  Not seriously wrong... but just a little bit wrong.

Getting pricked by rose bushes usually isn't a big deal but this time I noted that I broke out in little red bumps.  Those hard little bumps had a white 'head' on them but it wasn't a pimple, you couldn't 'pop' it and if you tried, just a clear liquid came out... not really pus.  Just the clear fluid that means you aren't getting anything 'out' of it and doing more damage than good. 

Those bumps also gave way to swelling and joint pain!  Wowza!!!  My knuckles hurt, ached and were swollen.  My right hand was pretty much useless and I just kept it curled up like a claw as it was so swollen and painful.

I feared something serious and went online to see if others were experiencing what I was.  I did find some information (this would have been around 2012) but many rose bush enthusiasts had never heard of it, others thought the person questioning this was simply dealing with a normal 'rose bush thorn prick' and didn't understand these are different.  Still others posted about going to the doctor -  and doctors, not having a clue, were over prescribing all sorts of things and doing scans and tests and such.... and thinking it was arthritis; making them use all sorts of creams and one woman even ended up with her doctor insisting on minor surgery on the little bumps.  I won't even GO THERE because that was just ridiculous.  But anyway!

So I kept researching, kept an eye on my own and figured some things out.  Now, it's 7 years later... and yep, if I'm not careful I still get some of these arthritic causing pain and swelling, hard bumps but it's something that I know is fairly common with certain kinds of roses and in certain areas of the country. 

First - know that the stiffness and pain in the joints, unfortunately, can last a month.  But it does go away.  It's not forever!  

It certainly felt like it!  Use heat and numbing gels to help if you wish.  Ice if that seems to work better for you.  Basically, it's like you aged overnight and now have arthritic hands for awhile.  It's weird... especially if you are only 30 years old and looking at your hands reminds you of your 94 year old grandmothers hands.  

Your body also seems to be build up a bit of a resistance!  I was SO happy to find this out over the past 7 years.

That first time was brutal.  My hands were full of bumps, my fingers unusable, my joints so achy.  And it lasted forever... or felt like it.  Over a month.  My husband also had helped trim a bit and although didn't have as many bumps as I did, he also had one or two that were near the joints in his fingers and were swollen and painful.

The second time and even third, no matter how careful I was, it's inevitable you'll get pricked and I did.  And yes... same thing.  

But then, after a few seasons, I realized although I was getting the same amount of pricks, they were going away faster.  They were also not causing me the long lasting (month long) painful joints.  The time got shorter... 


And now, by the 7th season, although I'm SO incredibly careful trimming - I don't even grab the stems with my fingers but snip, and then pick up the trimmed piece with my pruning sheers to carry it to my 'burn' pile, I still will get a few pricks.  But I'm happy to say that after 7 seasons, I rarely am bothered by them.

It's a prick with a bit of blood, which if I see it, I'll squeeze it a bit to help it bleed freely to naturally wash it out.  Then later, I obviously wash my hands very well, working the soap lather well to also help clean the area.  Sometimes I'll dab a bit of colloidal silver cream on the spots to help kill off any bacteria. 

By that evening or the next day there might be a red bump, and it might even get the little white head on it (that looks like a pimple, but isn't).  Sometimes the area may still get red or a bit swollen but I just keep flexing my hand open and closed and go with life....

And then realize a day or two later that there is only a tiny red period sized mark left and I hadn't felt it or noticed it for a day or so.  And again, go on with life and don't think about it and then... I remember, but it's gone.

Apparently my body has slowly been building up immunity to the bacteria and/or fungus that the thorns have.  And for that I'm glad... but I also am SO VERY CAREFUL now that I usually only get a few pricks as compared to the 20 I probably had that first year.


I guess the bottom line for me is that I'm EXTRA careful when I have to do the cutting back and trimming of the Double Blooming Knock Out Roses.  The other roses I have don't seem to cause the same reaction as the Knock Outs do. 

I wear gloves, use my pruning sheers to pick up and carry the branches.  I try very hard NOT to get pricked at all, not even a little.  But when I do, which obviously happens, I know that now, after 7 years, about 50% will turn into the eruptions, cause redness, pain and/or swelling.  But with a little anti-bacterial cream and time... it will go away and all will return to normal. 

It isn't  long lasting and it's not actually arthritis.


How we made our own homemade Guinness Beer Label Cornhole or Bags Game Boards (and a warning against one on ebay)

A couple months ago we decided to make our own game boards for the bean bag tossing game called Cornhole in the South and Bags up North.  The boards were going to be used for our daughter's wedding reception in May so we decided to make her and her fiance' a personalized board and then make a second set of 'something' that we could either keep or gift to someone else.

These are not ours, but here is an image from some decals available through Amazon that give you an idea of the personalized style boards we were making and giving to the happy couple;

For the second set, my husband and I decided a "Guinness" beer theme would be perfect.

There's a long history of Guinness themed items in our home, so it was fitting.  I knew my husband would never actually get around to building the game boards for me so I started by ordering 2 sets of unfinished Cornhole/Bags games.  I decided on regulation size instead of the slightly smaller backyard recreation size since we already had a backyard size and a smaller fun sized.  NOTE:  Had I known a couple months ago what size image I would end up having to use, I would have opted for the smaller size board (3X2) but at the time I had a different version in my head.  More on that in a second.

When I started to look for a large decal to use on the boards, I quickly found this was not going to be as easy as I thought.  Most of the decals found (everywhere) online were very small stickers or at best, a window cling size for a car or truck.  Another issue I ran into is that I really didn't like any of them.

The vision I had and what I wanted was the old, ivory, "GUINNESS ORIGINAL" label.   We had already stained our boards with wood stain, and I wanted a large, oval label to cover the bottom.

After a lot of research, thought, and decision making I found a seller on ebay that had a Guinness label like this, but he/she was selling the entire board WRAP which is a full sized image that you apply and wrap around your boards.  We didn't need or want the whole wrap, just the image.  But the wrap was printed to look like old weathered, rustic wood boards, with a weathered logo.  I decided I could order it and cut out the logo we wanted, apply it to our boards, sand down the edges where it looked weathered, to blend with our boards and then finish the whole thing.

And I was pretty excited about this plan!  
WARNING AHEAD..... for those looking at the same one on ebay.

I honestly had forgotten that ebay was a 'thing'.   I used to order and have even sold on ebay 'back in the day' but the sellers got shiftier, the shipping got pricier and honestly, over the past 7 years or so, I've just forgotten it even really existed.  BUT unfortunately the ONLY Guinness decal image I could find online that was the right style and size was from a seller on ebay.  This seller had sold thousands of items so I thought it would be quick and easy... but I clicked on their name to look at their ratings and I was now stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Not so great ratings.  In the 80% range and a pretty high number of buyers reporting they never received their item, the seller wouldn't communicate, or the item was really, really horrible quality.  MANY warnings not to buy from this seller...

So I debated about 3 days on this.  I searched for other options and I always ended back on that one seller because that was the label I wanted and it was so hard to find on a decal.

I told my husband if the item arrived and it was really thin and bad quality, it didn't matter, since we were cutting out the logo anyway.  And even though many buyers weren't getting their items, they were for really small 'vape' stickers and wraps so I thought for sure a $50 large wrap would surely not be overlooked and we would get our product.  So I bought it.

And about a week later I logged into ebay to see the shipper had marked it 'shipped' - but there was no shipping company listed and no tracking number.  I had a bad feeling but I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

The ebay estimated shipping dates came and went so I started to contact the seller.  I was very polite and asked if I could have the name of the shipping company they used and a tracking number as it hadn't arrived.  Nothing.  So I asked again.  I got a response but it was weird.  All it said was " was it sent to _____ " with my address.  I responded to the affirmative and asked again when it would arrive.  No response.

The clock was ticking, it had been almost a month.  No product, no responses to my emails.
I finally had to use the contact seller button to start the 'request product or refund' option.
The next morning, without any response from the seller, I had a refund.


I again started searching for decals and stickers.

LONG STORY MADE SHORT:  I suddenly thought to myself;  "Why don't you just buy a poster instead?"

Light bulb moment.  WHY it took me 3 days to think of it, I have no idea.  

I quickly jumped online to see what cheap/frugal post options I had that were the old, ivory label I wanted, but had to ship QUICK because if we didn't get these boards made, they wouldn't be ready for the wedding.  In the end, I opted for this Guinness poster from Amazon.  It was smaller than I wanted, but it would work.  It's an 11X14 inch print.  (By the way - pretty good quality.  Heavy paper, not thin, and sturdy.  Arrived safely in rolled tubes, in a protected Amazon box).

Posters (I ordered two of them) arrived.
  • The first step was to unroll them and lay them under something heavy to flatten them out for a day.
  • Then, using sharp scissors, I cut around the edge, leaving about 1/2 inch black border.
  • The original plan was to sand the edges to give the 'weathered' look to the label so I wasn't too careful about my cut line.  In hindsight I would have been a little more precise because we ended up not sanding them.  But they still turned out fine!
  • Then, using Loctite Spray Adhesive I sprayed the back of the ovals and placed them where I wanted them on the boards.  The great thing about the adhesive is that I could remove and reposition them to get them 'just right' as they adhere well, but also come off and on so very easily.
  • After they were in place we decided we liked the look of the black solid border and decided not to sand them to give them a weathered look after all.  So we started to put the 'finish' on the boards.

Most people will use a varnish or top coat of their choice - like a polyurethane.  We didn't have a can on hand and didn't feel like running to the store, but wanted to get started on them right away.  My husband builds guitars so we DO have on hand is Tru-Oil which we love love love love love.  It takes a lot of coats, but the finish is gorgeous, so we opted to finish our boards with about 20 layers of Tru-Oil (link below).  You can use whichever top coat you want of course!

PHOTOS of our steps

I ordered 2 posters on Amazon

Quickly cut around the label we wanted to use

Spray the back with adhesive. This allows you to reposition the label on the board to get it where you want it

For this size poster 11X14 I would opt for the smaller 3X2 ft boards but originally the image we had planned was larger

LOVING the GUINNESS label with the stained wood background

About half way through the Tru Oil layers

Here are links to the products related to this post.  This is the actual poster(s) I bought to use, from Amazon.  There is another site online that sells the same poster but I got free shipping through Amazon, so it was the more frugal option for me.

Beyond The Wall Guinness Label Vintage Beer Alcohol Advertising Art Poster Print (11x14 UNFRAMED Print)

We have Tru-Oil on hand all the time and we love this stuff so we opted to use it to finish our boards.  It takes longer, as you have to rub in about 20 layers to get a really thick, gorgeous finish, but again... we love it.

  Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil Stock Finish 32 Ounce

I did not order my boards from Amazon, but you can get your boards pretty much anywhere.  There is the longer, 4 foot regulation size or the 3 foot, backyard rec size.  For the poster above, the smaller size would look great, but I ordered both sets of the larger boards because our original plan looked best on the longer board.  I still think it turned out GREAT with either size.

  ZENY Portable Solid Wood Cornhole Bean Bag Toss Game Set Regulation Size 4ft x 2ft Cornhole Boards and 8 Bags Playset Backyard Lawn Corn Hole Outdoor Game Set

  Tailgating Pros 4'x2' Cornhole Boards w/Carrying Case & Set of 8 Cornhole Bags (You Pick Color) 25 Bag Colors! (Stars/Stripes, 3'x2' Boards)


What I've been up to lately? Wedding Planning. And interestingly enough, I've found the 'average' cost of a wedding to be pretty close to real life!

According to The Knot’s 2017 Real Weddings Study, couples in the United States can spend an average of $33,391 on their wedding, with $9,520 of that spent on catering alone – excluding the wedding cake, which reportedly ranges from $540 - $1,097 on average.

Top 2017 Wedding Statistics

  • Average Wedding Cost: $33,391 (excludes honeymoon)
  • Most Expensive Place to Get Married: Manhattan, $76,944 average spend
  • Least Expensive Place to Get Married: New Mexico, $17,584 average spend
  • Average Spent on a Wedding Dress: $1,509
  • Average Marrying Age: Bride, 29.2; Groom, 30.9
  • Average Number of Guests: 136
  • Average Number of Bridesmaids: 5
  • Average Number of Groomsmen: 5
  • Most Popular Month to Get Engaged: December (16%)
  • Average Length of Engagement: 14.0 months
  • Most Popular Months to Get Married: September (16%), June (15%) and October (14%)
  • Popular Wedding Colors: Ivory/Champagne (37%), Dark Blue (32%) and Gold (30%)
  • Percentage of Destination Weddings: 25%


  1. New York – Manhattan: $76,944
  2. New Jersey – North/Central: $62,074
  3. New York – Long Island: $61,113
  4. New York – Westchester/Hudson Valley: $55,357
  5. Massachusetts – Cape Cod: $55,083
  6. Rhode Island: $52,777
  7. Illinois – Chicago: $52,332
  8. Connecticut: $47,435
  9. New York City – Boroughs Outside of Manhattan: $46,808
  10. Pennsylvania: Philadelphia/Delaware: $46,211
  11. California – Los Angeles: $44,142
  12. Louisiana – New Orleans: $41,167
  13. Massachusetts – Boston: $40,667
  14. Florida – Southern: $40,634
  15. New Jersey – South: $40,231
  16. DC-Washington DC/Northern Virginia/Suburban Maryland: $39,465
  17. California – San Francisco/Greater Bay Area: $39,329
  18. Hawaii: $38,984
  19. California – Santa Barbara/Ventura: $38,025
  20. California – Orange County/Inland Empire: $37,050
  21. Maryland – Baltimore: $36,305
  22. Michigan – Detroit: $35,843
  23. Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh/Southwest: $34,928
  24. California – San Diego: $34,722
  25. Illinois – Chicago Suburbs: $34,675

Top 10 Most Affordable Places to Get Married
Based on average cost of a wedding in 2017, couples spend the least on their weddings in the following areas in the US.

  1. New Mexico: $17,584
  2. Utah: $18,516
  3. Oregon: $20,652
  4. Montana: $20,814
  5. Iowa: $21,982
  6. Idaho: $21,987
  7. South Dakota: $22,107
  8. Ohio – Toledo: $22,171
  9. Oklahoma: $22,373
  10. Mississippi: $22,645

2017 Average Wedding Budget Breakdown
Figures based on respondents who hired a professional vendor for the service.

2017 National
Average Spend
2017 High
Overall Wedding (with ring,
excluding honeymoon)
Venue (reception hall)
Wedding/Event Planner
Reception Band
Reception DJ
Wedding Dress
Groom’s Attire and Accessories
Wedding Cake
Ceremony Site
Ceremony Musicians
Rehearsal Dinner
Engagement Ring
Catering (price per person)

Notable Regional Differences

The Knot 2017 Real Weddings Study can be broken down on a region-by-region basis across more than 80 markets. Regional highlights include:
  • Cost of Weddings: Manhattan, New York, and North/Central New Jersey, have the highest average wedding spend ($76,944 and $62,074, respectively), and New Mexico and Utah have the lowest average wedding spend ($17,584 and $18,516 respectively), excluding honeymoon.
  • Marriage Age: New York City accounts for the country’s oldest brides, with brides in the boroughs outside of Manhattan 33.2 years old on average, and brides from Hawaii 32.3 years old on average. UtahOklahoma and Central Illinois have the youngest brides (26.4 years), on average. The country’s oldest grooms can be found in New York City’s boroughs outside of Manhattan (35.4 years old) and Nevada (34.5 years old), and the youngest grooms are in Oklahoma and Iowa (27.8 years).
  • Engagement Length: Couples from Central Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley/Poconos, Pennsylvania, have the longest engagements (17.85 and 17 months, respectively), while couples in Utah and Dallas/North TexasTexas, walk down the aisle a bit sooner after getting engaged (9.24 and 10.46 months, respectively), on average.
  • Wedding Size: Nebraska and Iowa couples have the largest number of wedding guests (212 and 206, respectively), and couples who tie the knot in Hawaii and Nevada have the smallest number of wedding guests (68 and 86, respectively).
  • Wedding Style: Montana and Hawaii weddings are more likely to be casual than any other region in the US (42% and 33%, respectively), while Long Island and North/Central New Jersey, have the most black-tie weddings (41% and 37%, respectively).
  • Wedding Dress Spend: Brides in Manhattan and Long Island spend the most on their wedding gowns ($2,504 and $2,347, respectively), while Lehigh Valley/Poconos, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico brides spend the least ($1,111 and $1,119, respectively).
  • Honeymoon: Couples from Louisiana (86%); Alabama (85%); Westchester/Hudson ValleyNew York (84%); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania/Delaware (82%); and North Carolina (81%) are most likely to book a honeymoon, while couples in Wyoming (45%), North Dakota (48%) and Montana (48%) are least likely to book a honeymoon.
  • Gift Registry: Couples in Mississippi and St. Louis, Missouri, are most likely to register for wedding gifts (97%), while couples in New Mexico and New York City’s boroughs outside of Manhattan are least likely to register (67% and 68%, respectively).

The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer [binder edition]: Worksheets, Checklists, Etiquette, Calendars, and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

You might also be interested in these related products available through Amazon;

The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer: Checklists, Worksheets,  and Essential Tools to Plan the Perfect Wedding on a Small Budget
The Wedding Planner Checklist (A Portable Guide to Organizing your Dream Wedding)
[New] Wedding Planner Gold - Undated Bridal Planning Diary Organizer - Hard Cover, Pockets & Online Support


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