• Amazing People,  Blessings

    Creative Ways To Connect and Learn While Social Distancing: A Guide to the Silver Linings

    Updated April 5, 8:40 am: It’s been a couple of weeks since Americans started social distancing and while we work on adjusting to this way of life–staying home except for necessary ventures out, staying 6 feet away from others and avoiding gatherings of more than fifty, I mean ten people, well, just don’t gather AT ALL, all for the greater good and health of fellow citizens–many of us are also trying to keep kids busy and keep our senior parents from leaving the house (why don’t they LISTEN??). It’s very easy to get discouraged in uncertain times, but I’ve been seeing some really great things happening in the world that…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Amazing People,  Tough Questions

    I’m Certain Laverne Defazio Never Had to Wonder Like I Do.

    Last week we were in Milwaukee, visiting our younger son. Always on the hunt for fun activities to do with the boys when we are together, I was thrilled to find a place that offered mini bowling. Jim and Jason were up for it so we headed out. Mini bowling is played the same way as traditional bowling, but the pins are smaller and the lanes are more narrow and much shorter. The balls have no finger holes, are similar in size to small coconuts, and come in one weight (about three and a half pounds). Because of the type of balls used, it feels a lot like Skeeball when…

  • Amazing People,  Childhood Memories,  Music

    Live.

    Today we finally saw “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the film about Freddie Mercury and the origin and subsequent climb of the band Queen. The part I was most looking forward to in the movie was the end, because the filmmakers recreated Queen’s iconic performance at Live Aid, the epic 1985 concert that was held at both Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia to raise money for the relief of Ethiopian famine. I thought it would be cool to see it “again.” In fact, it was incredible and I cried from the time Freddie (played by Rami Malek) took the stage at Wembley until the very end of the movie.…

  • Amazing People,  Music

    Sold Out.

    Back in the day, companies had original product jingles for radio and television written by their advertising agencies. It was unheard of to have popular music playing in the background on advertisements for everything from computers to cars to cleaning products. When bands started selling the rights to their music for the purpose of marketing things to the public, it was considered selling out. Of course, money talks (as does exposure!) so over the past couple of decades jingles have become more extinct and pop music, either well-known or not-yet-discovered, is the soundtrack of choice. Musicians are no longer accused of selling out; it’s a point of pride to be…