• Blessings,  Writing

    It Just Seems Write.

    Let me take a second to congratulate myself on a clever title for a post about writing notes to friends. See what I did there? Go, Melisa! When all of the self-isolating (or social distancing, physical distancing, quarantining, or whatever we’re calling it these days) started a couple of months ago, the vast majority of us resorted to doing whatever made us feel better. That is to say, in a time when we’ve had (and continue to have) to do something that is for the most part extremely uncomfortable—staying home most or all of the time—it seems only natural that we would choose to spend our time doing the things…

  • Amazing People,  Blessings

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

    Updated June 1, 10:42 am. (I am doing updates on Mondays and Thursdays.) It’s been more than two months 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Blessings,  Fun in Knoxville,  Motivation,  Pretty Pictures

    Two Years.

    It was two years ago today when I moved back to Knoxville after 26 years of living in my beloved hometown (well, the greater Chicagoland area). First: I can’t believe it’s been two years. Second: I wish I could go back and tell the pre-move Melisa, who was terrified of the change and very upset about leaving the greatest city in the entire world, that not only was everything going to be okay but also that she could let go and be assured that this move would lead to a season of life that would be one of her happiest. Jim and I have had way too many adventures to…

  • Blessings,  Food

    Enjoying the Ritual

    One of the things I’m known for is the ability to be highly productive. I may procrastinate like nobody’s business, but typically I don’t let most people see me sweat. I’m excellent with deadlines and lists, and I like to think I multi-task fairly well, even though the truth is that nobody really multi-tasks well. It’s been about a year and a half since I worked full time (plus more, with the Listen To Your Mother show). I’m freelancing right now and contracted with a hospital in Ohio on a very part-time basis. Oddly enough, my productivity has suffered. Actually, it’s not odd to me: I have known the truth…

  • Blessings,  Confessions

    What I Know For Sure

    Four years ago today, the snowy scene pictured above was my reality in the western suburbs of Chicago. We moved to Knoxville a year and a half ago and no longer had the need for the snowblower we purchased the year that photo was taken. Although it snows occasionally in Knoxville—and yeah yeah yeah the area practically shuts down when it merely flurries and people, who don’t think about the fact that the South doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with snow, let alone the fact that the hills and sharp curves around here make traveling in icy conditions very dangerous regardless of whether the roads have been salted properly,…

  • Blessings,  Confessions,  Favorite Things,  Food,  Fun in Chicago,  Travels

    Abundance

    One of the things I love about coming back up north is having the ability to stick up on things I can’t get in Knoxville. Being in Kenosha for this holiday meant a mandatory trip to my favorite grocery store. Woodman’s is a Wisconsin-based chain that is employee-owned and has the largest selection of products I have ever seen, as in four whole aisles of candy, one entire corner of the store devoted to soda pop and other beverages, and an aisle the length of the entire back of the store full of every kind of chip you could ever want, just to name a few. Unlike other stores which…