• Amazing People,  Blessings,  Childhood Memories,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    The Best Kind of Quilt

    Just like so many others in my family, my Aunt Nancy was an extremely creative person. She was an avid knitter and enjoyed lots of other crafty pursuits, but one in particular eventually took the lead and became her favorite: making quilts. She started quilting in the early 1980s, completing her first quilt in 1983. After that there was no turning back. For nearly four decades she pieced and sewed, gifting her creations to lucky friends and family members like me (I received a quilt for my college dorm room as well as baby quilts for my sons). For as long as I can remember, if she wasn’t holding court…

  • Am Reading,  Best Thing Ever,  Family Fun,  Food,  I've Got Mad Skillz,  Reflections on Parenting,  Tradition

    My GoodReads Reading Challenge Goal was Thwarted by…a Book.

    Last year I decided to spend more time doing something I had let fall by the wayside since I was a kid: read books. I got active on GoodReads and made a fairly ambitious (for me) reading challenge goal for 2018: 26 books. I fell short, reading “only” 22 books but was proud just the same. I probably hadn’t read 22 books in the ten years before that, all put together. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading; I just used my free time for other creative pursuits. I decided to keep the same goal for 2019 and was projecting to achieve it easily when I took at look at…

  • wedding day
    Amazing People,  Best Thing Ever,  Blessings,  Fun in Knoxville,  Jim Has Mad Skillz,  We Are An Awesome Couple

    On Getting Lost and Found

    The very first argument Jim and I had as a married couple was on our wedding day. We left the courthouse in Norfolk, Virginia and drove back to Knoxville; he was on leave from the Navy for the rest of the week. After a very long eight-hour drive, we got off the interstate and had to navigate through downtown Knoxville, which has lots of one way streets and odd intersections. It wasn’t long before we got completely turned around and totally lost. This was way before cell phones and GPS navigation (imagine that, kids!), and we didn’t have a map in the car. I wanted him to pull over so…

  • Jew Stuff,  Tradition

    Christmas Traditions

    Most of you are super busy today with all the cooking and wrapping gifts and either getting over-the-top excited about or possibly psyching yourself up to deal with the time you’ll be spending with family members tonight and tomorrow. Maybe you’re doing things the same as last year; maybe you’re mixing it up. I know one thing for sure: Jim and I are doing exactly the same thing we always do for Christmas (I’ve reminded you here every single year for more than a decade): Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate, Happy Hanukkah to my fellow members of the Tribe, and Happy Tuesday night/Wednesday to everyone else! No…

  • Truffles
    Best Thing Ever,  Favorite Things,  Food,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Here’s a Chocolate Truffles Recipe That Will Make You Super Popular.

    For the most part, I have trimmed back on my holiday baking every December by quite a bit. Back in the olden days when our boys were younger, I baked a large variety of treats. Now that it’s just Jim and me I usually pick just a couple of our favorites and keep it simple. One recipe that makes the cut every single year is the one I use to make chocolate truffles. They are easy, delicious, and keep in the refrigerator for weeks if they’re in an airtight container. I gift these truffles to friends and have been complimented like crazy on them as if they’re the greatest thing…

  • mail merge
    How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life,  Tradition

    A Note To Future Melisa Re: Mail Merges

    Dear Future Melisa, Mail merges, huh? They’re hard for us, for some reason. Each and every year when it’s time to get the holiday cards done and out, we pull up the handy-dandy Excel spreadsheet that has all of the addresses on it, updated throughout the year, and get ready to create labels in Word. And then, we go through an infuriating ritual. Looking it up online and then still messing up the process somehow turns what should be a joyful task (“Holiday cards to loved ones! Yay!”) into an absolute chore (“I am going to scream and possibly toss my laptop across the room if I can’t get this…

  • 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…