Did you ever notice that saying a prayer of thanks
before a meal –
something that many of us will probably do today –
is also called
saying grace.

Why is that?

What does that even mean?

I know how to give grace
to someone,

and I’m learning more and more
how to receive it.

I know how to notice grace,
and need grace,
and name grace,
and offer grace,
and, hopefully, more and more,
to live with grace.

And by grace, I mean
the soul-soothing balm of
“You’re not perfect, but you’re enough”
that fights off the heart-rotting diseases of
and perfectionism
and self-loathing
and scolding.

I have even learned how to
speak grace
to those who need it –
including myself.

But to say grace?

I’m not sure exactly how that phrase evolved.

I’d like to think it’s some sort of pre-Twitter shorthand hashtag
that actually means
#saying(how thankful we are for)grace.

Thankful for the grace
of being enough
and being valuable
and being granted
a good meal to eat,
and a warm home to eat it in,
and someone we love to eat it with,
and another day alive on this earth

(on the days that we are fortunate enough to have
or all
of those things).

Because there are many days
that many of us
are not granted
or all
of those things.

And maybe when we bow our heads to say grace
if we have those things,
we can remember the people who don’t,

and then open our eyes
and wonder if there are ways we can offer them grace
as well.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Is the image above, which is named “Grace,” as famous in other states as it is here in Minnesota? It’s our official state photograph! Which was a bit shocking for me to learn because, although it hung in so many homes that were special to me growing up, I always thought it was a painting.


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Me, a few nights ago, to R-boy: “Hey, can you help me carry in the new chair I bought on Craigslist?”

R-boy: “Okay.”

Me: “Wait until you see this chair. You won’t believe how awesome it is.”

R-boy, looking skeptical: “Why? Is it pink?”

Me, looking innocent: “What makes you think it would be pink?”

R-boy: “Because it’s pink. It’s pink. Isn’t it?”

Me: “Just come out to the car and see it.”

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 23I mean, yes. I might have a problem.

But seriously.

This was too awesome and rare and hilarious – and pink – to pass up!

Also, the problem with selling all the furniture in your living and dining room – for no other reason than you want a clean slate – is that while you’re hunting for new amazing treasures, you might stumble upon a few amazing treasures that don’t fit the living-room/dining-room slate but that you simply must have anyway.

Am I right?

Don’t worry, R-boy. I’m not making you live with the awesomeness of this chair in our kitchen or living room. I’m just making you help me lug it up the stairs so it can be safely tucked into a corner of my bedroom for me alone to enjoy.

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3

Unless, of course, you ever feel like drying your hair or just sitting under a warm flow of air for a bit – because, yes, this baby actually works! (Although, admittedly, I probably shouldn’t use it until I find someone to help me fix the frayed cord…)

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 31

This is not just my own personal Helene Curtis vintage pink beauty salon chair.

It’s also my own personal get-warm chair.

And this is my favorite part.

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2It’s like a stick shift for the comfort gear of the chair.

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 22helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 21

Don’t be jealous.

And, who, you may ask, was parting with this gem on Craigslist? Was it a creatively eccentric and still fabulously fashionable 1950s hair stylist?


I picked this up from a creatively eccentric and still fabulously fashionable 1980s rock star who had planned to use it as the perfect conversation piece in his man cave – until other plans prevailed.

He admitted that he might have spent some time in a few similar chairs back in his big-hair, rock-star days.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

I love the stories that come with my finds almost as much as I love the finds themselves.

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk7




Posted in Chuckling, Cool Things, Creating, Decorating, Finding, Fun Things, Happy Things, House Things, Junking, Raving, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , | 3 Responses


paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk1I don’t know about you,
but I’m never sure what exactly to say
or do
when I hear that someone’s world has just been shattered
by loss,
or fear,
or pain,
or some completely senseless act of selfishness,

or by all of that
and more.

Usually, the first thing I want to do
is convince myself
that what happened didn’t really happen.

It can’t be true.

There must be another explanation.

Let’s please just change the channel
or open our eyes all together
on the count of three,
and watch the nightmares skitter away
under the bright light of day.

Obviously that only works
when the nightmare truly is just a nightmare,
– not a life –
but this sort of reprieve does,
at least,
allow my heart the extra few moments it needs
for reality to soak in more slowly.
Instead of drowning me
in a tidal wave
of truth.

paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2Once I have come nose to nose with
what can no longer be denied though,
I sometimes feel badly
that I feel so badly
when I am
not even the one who’s been hurt
by the situation at hand.

Until I realize that,
although I may not be at the epicenter of the tragedy,
the shockwaves of pain
spread far
and the pangs of fear
and loss
are contagious
to those of us who are
and alive.

paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3So, then I am left with my own feelings
as well as the much more intense,
and immediately important
plight of
the latest victims.

paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk4And I wonder
what can possibly be done to soothe any of us?

I’m not exactly sure.

But I do know that
I’m pretty certain
it’s probably not helpful
for people who are reeling from loss
to hear things like
at least it wasn’t worse
or buck up, you’ll feel better eventually
or this is only going to make you stronger
or here, let me try to fix this unfixable thing
for you.

I only know that what has helped me most
in my own shattered moments
is to hear
you’re loved
you’re brave
you’re not alone
here’s a cup of tea
and a warm blanket
and if you need anything else,
I am here for you.

In the meantime,
just keep breathing.



May peace and care and deep breaths of healing surround all the people of Paris – and Beirut, and Syria – and all the rest of us who feel a stab of pain today.


Posted in Hard Things, Healing, Heart Things, Noticing, Wondering | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


The other day, R-boy walked into the living room, took a long look around, and immediately walked back out, declaring in frustration, “There’s no place to sit in this house!”

Which was both ironic,

lane mid-century dining chairs - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk41
and true.

Because his mother has sold all of the comfortable chairs and one of the couches in our main living area, and the last remaining couch was, at the time, currently being entirely sprawled upon by R-girl, and the only other cushy surface in the room (the upholstered bench by the window) was covered in lampshades and mirrors and clocks and other items that are auditioning for a possible space on the walls.

I felt his frustration, as I was sitting in an only slightly comfy rocking chair, but I still couldn’t help but giggle, because of the six new places to sit that he walked by as he said it.

lane mid-century dining chairs - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk51
Meet our new potential dining room chairs, scored on Craigslist for $100 total. They are currently taking up an entire wall as I decide on some new upholstery (and find a table to go with them).

They’re possibly a tad big for my little dining room, but two of them will probably live in the basement unless needed. And if they don’t work out, I know I can absolutely sell them for more than I paid. I lucked out by contacting this seller within minutes of her post and beating out all the other interested parties.

Meanwhile, R-boy, I assure you: The hunt continues in earnest for some big, ample, cozy seating that’s right-sized for the full-grown adults now living in this house (and that makes my heart happy with its fabulous color and style).

So take a seat, and stay tuned for what’s next.



From what I can tell, these mid-century modern dining chairs are by Lane, possibly in walnut? I’ve seen them called Danish style? Or Rhythm? Best of all, I’ve seen similar ones selling for as much as $150 per chair. Mine aren’t perfect (need new fabric ASAP, and have a few dings in the wood), but I am pretty happy with my find, and am feeling quite inspired by this pic I dug up on Instagram from @sharkgravy.



Posted in Cool Things, Creating, Decorating, Finding, House Things, Junking, Parenting, Single-Momming | Tagged , , , | 1 Response


I can’t even count how many fabulous things have walked out my front door this past week, off to start a new life somewhere else.

house makeover - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

It’s been a week of letting go.
Honoring memories.
Clearing out.
Wondering what’s next.

And painting. Lots of painting.

There’s no plan here, people.

We’re just starting fresh and seeing where it leads.

R-kids say it feels like we just moved into a new house.

I agree. And I wonder what will make this place feel like home again?

To be continued…!



By the way, have I mentioned how much I love Craigslist? For me, it’s the online dating of home decor. You meet all kinds, and once in a while you have some incredible experiences. (Like this one!!)

Last week, a couple came to check out my old upright piano. The woman, who had shy eyes and a Russian accent, sat down to try it out. The moment she started playing, my knees almost buckled from the beauty of it.

The man with her turned to me and explained, casually, “Katya plays at Carnegie Hall. This will be her 15th year of performing a solo concert there.”

Uh, what?

“Yes,” he continued. “I have a Steinway in my apartment in New York City, but I’m looking for a piano she can play when we’re here in Minneapolis.” He casually mentioned that he is a master cellist who tours with her as well. In fact, they are playing two concerts in Minneapolis this weekend.

I’m sorry, what?

Who? What?

What are you doing here in my living room?

What is happening?!

Katya Grineva proceeded to play my piano for the next 20 minutes, and I stood there in awe.

katya - shorts and longsWhen she was finished, she declared that my humble upright was actually quite nice – that most uprights make her feel very frustrated, but this one didn’t.

I felt like I had been personally complimented.

It was amazing.

In the end, they found a piano they liked better, and my piano was claimed instead by my sweet neighbors with five young sons who will surely bang out wonderful, exuberant songs on it.

But those keys, and this living room, have been touched by the kind of music that truly moves the heart.

And the memory of that will linger for a long time.




Posted in Beautiful Things, Decorating, Dreaming, Growing, Hard Things, Heart Things, House Things, Music Things, Noticing, Raving, Wondering | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Response


Sometimes you have to let go
of things you really love

r-living room 3 julie rybarczyk2things that feel familiar
and comfortable

r-living room 4 julie rybarczyk1
things you’ve made some
forever memories with

r-living room 5 julie rybarczyk1

to make space
for beautiful new surprises
that are waiting
to join your life.

I’m doing a whole lot of that over here this weekend, friends, and I’m excited.

Stay tuned!

By the way, anyone in the market for a fabulous vintage couch, or chair, or piano, or curtains, or basically anything else you’ve seen in the pictures around here?? Let me know. It’s pretty much all on Craigslist right now…


Posted in Decorating, Heart Things, House Things, Inspiring, Wise Things, Wording | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


View More:

To be a soul
that feels deeply
and creates wildly

to see a light
that must be painted

to feel a sadness
that must be sung

to know a grace
that must be written

to have a gift
that must be given

is to be alive

in the most real
of ways.

View More:

and drawing
from your depths
requires the brave resolve

to shine brightly
and, also,
fall brilliantly

like a glowing red leaf
from a tree ripe with autumn.

And so
you create
you write
you paint
you sing
you make

you risk.

For if you don’t
you will wither up
and crumble away slowly

And, while you are never quite sure
that anything other than paint drips
will come from it

you hope that

the color of your life
and the canvas of your work
will bleed love
or hope
or laughter
or, maybe, aching beauty
into the edges of another soul
at least once in a while.

And you believe that it might.

Because you have been tinged
in this very same way.


Here’s to making what you make, friends, from the bottom of your heart.

And here’s to R-girl, who dragged me outside and positioned me at will so her creative vision could come to life (see more of the shoot here). She’s just one of the many creatives who inspire me daily.



pc Alex Anne Photography

Posted in Beautiful Things, Creating, Wise Things, Wording | Tagged , , | 2 Responses


When the guy you live with transforms from boy to man,

9915 02when his voice takes on that deeper, stronger, more mellow tone
and you sometimes don’t even realize it’s him talking,

when the space he fills in a room becomes somehow more commanding
and your cute vintage couch is starting to seem ridiculously small,

9915 11when you’re lifting your chin higher every day just to look into his eyes—
that is, if you’re lucky enough to be granted the privilege—

when the “can you fix this for me” roles start to reverse
and the “can you lift this for me” roles already have,

9915 15when who he’s becoming has less and less to do with you
and so much more to do with him,

when all of this happens
in the span of four short seasons,

9915 10if you’re his mom,

your heart will swell with pride and awe as you welcome this man
and it might also ache just a bit as you say goodbye to the boy,

but you will see an amazing future ahead for him
and you will smile about it,

9915 09secretly,
to yourself of course,
without any gushing.

Because jeez, Mom.

Happy strong, smart, savvy and sweet sixteenth birthday to you, R-boy!

I love you like mad.


[Photo creds to R-girl: @alexandria_ry // Alex Anne Photography]


Posted in Celebrating, Cool Things, Growing, Happy Things, Heart Things, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Raving, Single-Momming, Wording | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment



This week I’ve been thinking a lot about water.

Things like: “Wait. Why is neither toilet flushing?”

Followed the next morning by, “They’re both still not flushing? What’s going on? The water is working everywhere else…??”

Followed that evening by “So what you’re telling me is I haven’t washed my hair in four days and I’m getting picked up for a party in 45 minutes and now there is literally not one drop of water flowing from any faucet in our home…? Correct? Yes? Fantastic.”

Followed by five stages of grief:

1. Denial (Maybe if I keep turning this knob back and forth…)


3. Bargaining (Please, oh please, pretty faucet, if you will just provide me with 10 minutes of water, I promise to make you shiny and clean a lot more often. I’ll even use a real lemon and a Norwex cloth.)

4. Depression (What’s the point. Cancel the party.)

5. And, finally (28 seconds later): Acceptance

(Hello, Heidi [neighbor who has five boys under the age of 7, including a 3-week-old newborn]? I’m sure you don’t have much going on over there or anything, so can I come take a shower at your house? And use your flushing toilet? Like, right this minute?)

Followed by a summer-camp flashback as I carried my caddy of supplies over to the available restroom.

Followed by the news that not only had the water mysteriously returned while I was away showering, but it had begun gushing out of the back of our main-level toilet. Fortunately, R-boy solved that with some quick thinking and a bowl from the kitchen.

Things like that.

But also, things like, “Hmmm. I lost access to water in my home for a few (very pivotal, pre-party) moments, and this caused me to basically also lose my mind.”

Not to shame myself or anything. It’s just worth noticing though? Right? Considering, you know…that a huge percentage of the global population never has that problem? Because they don’t have water in their homes at all? Or anywhere near them for that matter? It had me thinking.

It also had me thinking that, apparently, it takes a village to keep me showered and supplied with water:

– A fabulous neighbor willing to share her (perfectly-clean-on-a-moment’s-notice!) shower.

– A good friend willing to spend his Saturday night turning my gushing toilet into a flushing one.

– A host of other friends and neighbors willing to whine and empathize with me about my water drama.

– And a city worker willing to come by and assure me that it’s all in my head and that nothing is actually going wrong, because “The water is hooked up so it should all be working.”

water-carafe---shorts-and-longs---julie-rybarczyk2Granted, I am currently getting my household water supply through a garden hose attached to my outside spigot (I’m not even kidding, and don’t ask me how that works. Our whole block has this strange set-up going on.), but at least I do have clean water today when I turn on my any of my faucets.

Which I’m going to do right now.

For a long drink of cool water.

And a moment of gratitude.



P.S. I’ll say, this does make me think of my friend and the brave thing she’s doing: Here’s to water, friends.


Posted in Chuckling, Everyday Things, Funny Things, House Things, Messy Things, Noticing, Ranting, Raving, Thanking, Wise Things | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


I’ve always loved biking with my kids.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk7Back in the day, I’d tell my freelance clients I had a “meeting,” load the toddler version of R-boy into the Burley, cram R-girl’s purple bike into the tiny seat next to him (i.e., on top of him), and pedal the three miles to her preschool, where we’d pick her up and bike home together.

Cruising along on two wheels with my kids by my side is still one of my favorite ways to spend an hour or two.

That is, if we could just get to the biking part.

Lately we seem to be hitting every literal and metaphorical bump in the road.


Last week, for example, our outing to Betty Danger’s in Northeast Minneapolis for a round of mini golf resulted in us arriving at said destination, securing our bikes to the bike rack, walking a few feet toward the establishment, and then walking those same few feet back because R-boy wanted to adjust his lock.

We then spent the next 90 minutes fighting with his brand new lock, which is apparently so impossible to pick that you sometimes can’t even open it with the actual key. That you own.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

We sat on the pavement taking turns wiggling the key in the lock, flagging down strangers for help, calling the bike shop where he had just bought the fancy new lock, calling locksmiths, calling his dad for help, and finally breaking in with a paper clip.

By that time, R-boy’s tire had somehow become flat and he had to get a ride home.

Needless to say, no mini golf.


So, last night we tried again. No one had the energy for mini golf, but maybe we’d bike back to Betty Danger’s for a treat of some sort.


R-girl’s tire was completely flat when she rolled it out of the garage. This has happened before. What has not happened before is that after the tire is pumped up, we can hear air hissing right back out of it.

“Think we should still go?” someone said.

“Well I don’t want to just stay here,” someone else said. We all agreed.

“That tire might not make it.”

“But it might.”

“I think there’s probably a gas station or two near the route if we get desperate.”

“Hopefully they have air?”

“Hmmm. What do you guys think?”

“This might not work.”

“Let’s do it.”

And we were off.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk6


Within minutes, R-girl was saying, “It’s getting lower.”

“Should we turn back?”



We soon learned that the front tire on R-girl’s bike had a shelf life of approximately three miles. Three and a half if you detoured off your intended route, rode the last few blocks on a completely flat tire, and continually said things like, “This is impossible to pedal! I can’t steer. I think I should walk it now. How much further?”

Almost exactly at that point in the ride, we reached Gas Station A and paid fifty cents to refill her tire.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk5Once the air hose was removed, there was no time to dawdle. We could not only hear the air hissing back out, we could basically see it escaping through the brittle cracks in her tire.

We jumped on our bikes and headed back the way we’d come.


The shelf life was shrinking. Now it only took about two miles before R-girl was saying, “It’s almost flat again!”

“Should we make R-boy ride home and grab our bike pump?” I said.

“No,” said R-boy.

“I think I can make it to the next gas station,” said R-girl.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3She did.


And after a 75-cent refill at Gas Station B, she made it home.

Probably never to ride that bike again.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk10I’d say that’s appropriate, because we’ve owned it for longer than she’s been around, which is 10 days shy of 19 years.

Also, she’s requested that our resident cycling expert (R-boy) find her a great (totally hip) road bike for her birthday.

So the adventures will continue. Hopefully a little smoother next time.


Posted in Fun Things, Kid Things, Parenting, Playing, Single-Momming, Wandering | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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