• Blessings,  Confessions,  Do I Really Want My Readers To Know This?,  I'm Apparently Old.

    I’m One Year Older and Here Are My Grievances

    I turned 51 on Wednesday. It was a much quieter birthday than last year; rather than spend my day on a plane headed for paradise I spent much of my day on the couch watching “90 Day Fiance.” Yes, seriously. Anyway, at my age I have a mental list of general life grievances that is growing just like it’s supposed to as we get older. I thought I’d make a list (not all-inclusive; that’s impossible) here so that when I’m still definitely blogging in ten years I can look back at 61 and think to myself, “Oh dear; I was so adorable back then!” Here are just a few things…

  • J.K. Rowling book quote
    Am Reading,  Favorite Things

    My 7 Books, or Just One More Way I’m Breaking the Rules

    If you’re an active Facebook user, you’ve surely seen recent posts by your friends about “7 Books I Love,” in which people are sharing one book each day and tagging a friend to do the same in order to promote literacy. The catch? You’re not supposed to provide any explanations about why you love the books; posting the covers with no other caption except the copy and paste of what you’re doing is the standard. The other day I was tagged on Facebook by my friend Karen Meg. I was happy to share the books I love but it occurred to me that I really didn’t want to tag people…

  • Amazing People,  Favorite Things,  Pretty Pictures,  Travels

    Courtney and Kelsey Montague: Art and a Sister Act That Lifts You (and Me)

    If you follow me on social media you already know that I am very obsessed with the art of Kelsey Montague. Her #WhatLiftsYou and #WhatUnitesUs murals are all over the world, and before I go pretty much anywhere I check the map on the Kelsey Montague Art website to see if I might be able to take a quick detour to experience a new mural in person. (By the way, Kelsey’s first major fan? Taylor Swift…but more on that in a minute.) Kelsey’s style is very distinctive and bold and not only do her pieces brighten up any wall, anywhere, but they also are bringing tourists like me into small…

  • waves
    Pretty Pictures,  Random Thoughts,  Travels

    Crisis Averted.

    Jim and I were on the Emerald Coast of Florida over the weekend. The 24-mile stretch of beach along Highway 30A in the northwestern part of the state is one of the most gorgeous areas I’ve ever seen. The sand is like white sugar and, as you can imagine from the nickname, the water is so many gorgeous shades of green-blue. I took so many pictures at the beach, but that’s what I do. While we usually buy something small for our house when we visit a place for the first time (this time we picked up a handblown glass sand dollar paper weight), my very favorite kind of souvenir…

  • Random Thoughts,  Uncategorized

    Not the First Time I’ve Written About Change and Probably Not the Last, Either.

    We were at the bar for Trivia Night recently when I looked around from my perch in the front corner of the room, our favorite place to sit. As I glanced at what was happening around me I realized that the scene looks basically the same every Tuesday night we’re there. Outside of our comfy chairs, the tables are full of other trivia teams, most of them regulars like us. The beertenders (because this is a beer bar; they don’t serve hard liquor) are smiling and chatting with customers. The young girls who work at the Mexican restaurant next door enter the bar every few minutes with food orders, glancing…

  • 9/11 memorial
    Something That Could Change Your Life

    18 Years and Always Remembering

    In 2012, I started a new personal tradition for the National Day of Remembrance. I had visited the National September 11 Memorial when I was in Manhattan for BlogHer ’12, and was extremely moved by the experience (massive understatement). It occurred to me that, rather than passively watch the televised tributes and read what the rest of the internet had to say about 9/11, each year I would involve myself by actively remembering and learning about a couple of the victims of that terrible day. On September 11, 2001 Ruben S. Ornedo was heading home to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 77 from Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.…

  • Field Notes
    Confessions

    I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up.

    That’s what it feels like, anyway. Two years ago and all the time in my life before that I was a complete overachiever + perfectionist + compulsive planner + lots of other things that kept my shoulders firmly planted next to my ears at all times. Some of you who have only met me recently would probably say, “Uh, you still seem a little like that?” Believe me: I have changed. While I can still make things look good, I still care about details, and I am still more organized than the average person, I don’t routinely give myself and everyone else in my immediate vicinity anxiety and/or the shakes…

  • Amazing People,  Blessings

    Precious Time

    One evening early last year our friends were over for dinner and I was telling them that I wanted to put a water feature in our backyard, in between our bedroom windows. I thought it would be nice to lie in bed and hear the water when we were able to have the windows open. My friend’s eight-year-old—who, just like his mom, loves anything having to do with landscaping (weirdos)—spoke up immediately: “I could design one for you, Melisa!” I thought it was an excellent idea and told him to start thinking about it and we’d talk more about it later. Last summer went by in a crazy blur: they…

  • Confessions,  Do I Really Want My Readers To Know This?,  Food,  Fun in Knoxville,  I've Got Mad Skillz

    The Thrill is in the Hunt.

    I used to throw themed parties all the time. My boys were raised with big birthday parties that had tons of elements that coordinated with whatever show, movie, or thing they were into that year. The ability to take a theme and run with it, usually far further than the average person would care to and what I mean by that is “until said theme is nearly dead and gasping for breath but in a good way,” is something I come by honestly: my sister and I both get it from our mom. While I have contributed ideas for themed parties in the past few years when my friends have…

  • Friends,  Fun in Knoxville,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Friender Bender

    I love my car. Wait, let me correct that: I LOVE MY CAR, in BOLD and ALL CAPS. I’ve been driving this Buick Regal GS for five years (Day One pictured above), and you know how usually there’s a honeymoon phase with a new car but after a while your eyes start to wander in the direction of newer cars? That hasn’t happened with me and this vehicle. I mean, my Dream-Car-Since-I-Was-Sixteen is coming up next, but I’m in absolutely no hurry. That’s because this gorgeous red car is so *mwah, kisses fingers* with its sunroof, power everything, leather (and heated) seats, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel (just to…