• How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    11 Best Practices for the 2020 Election Season

    Hey. Let’s have a chat. The upcoming election in November is the most important one of our lifetime, and I want to put some information and reminders out there in hopes that we stay focused and don’t allow everything to go off the rails. This combination of the internet, the 24-hour news cycle, our current president, the deep, multi-category divisions running through the country, and the pandemic (just to name a few) is a huge dumpster fire that we need to PUT OUT rather than douse with more lighter fluid. Here are some thoughts to get us all through this without causing more damage: 1) Use extreme caution AND educate…

  • How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    A (Partial) List of Anti-Racism Resources

    Before I begin, I need to mention that the mural pictured above is in Minneapolis, Minnesota and it was painted by Xena Goldman, Cadex Herrera, and Greta McLain, along with help from Niko Alexander and Pablo Hernandez. Our country is figuratively and literally on fire this week, following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, by four police officers—one directly, by keeping his knee on George’s neck (impairing his ability to breathe), and three indirectly: by their lack of action. The events over the last six days are altogether horrible, tragic, unjust, and not surprising; nothing has changed for Black Americans as we’ve seen time and time…

  • How To,  Motivation

    25 Things to Do While Social Distancing During a Global Pandemic

    What with COVID-19 (coronavirus) having just been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, it has become more important than ever for us to work together to “flatten the curve” (slow down the spread of the virus) so as not to completely overwhelm the capacity of health care systems. And by “work together,” of course I mean “get it done but only while placing ourselves at least six feet away from other humans.” COVID-19 is spread by respiratory secretions and possibly from touching contaminated surfaces, so lots of hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds while not touching our faces is our best bet when it…

  • your vote your voice
    How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life,  Uncategorized

    Don’t Let the Polls or Anyone Else Dictate How You Vote This Year: Make Up Your Own Mind.

    Jim and I went out the other night and had a great discussion about the 2020 election. It wasn’t the first political discussion we’ve had, by far, but it was a really good one. First let me say that I’m very lucky we can have good political discussions, because he and I have never agreed on what the best candidate should possess, though what we want (or rather, what we don’t want) this year is closer than it has been in the past. It hasn’t always been this way, the “having good political discussions” thing, which was actually the topic of that conversation. Like now, in our younger days he…

  • 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…

  • Food,  How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life,  Travels

    How to Remove Coconut Meat Without Losing Your Mind

    One of the highlights of our visit to Maui last November was a tropical plantation tour. We learned about so many of the delicious fruits and flowers grown on the island; seeing pineapples, mangoes, avocados, bananas, and many others in their natural habitat was fascinating and we enjoyed the afternoon tremendously. One mind-blowing moment came when our tour guide pulled the tram over so she could demonstrate how to break down a coconut. By the way, I absolutely love coconut but I do not love all of the steps involved in breaking them down. I can gleefully poke a skewer into the eyes and pour out the water, and vigorously…

  • How To

    How to Receive a Gift

    I spent hours and hours (and hours) today, wrapping the rest of the holiday gifts that have been hanging out in my dining room for nearly two weeks, so I thought I’d go with the gift theme, again. Everyone’s talking about gifts right now anyway, so why not? Earlier this month I posted 6 Tips for the Gift-Giving Challenged, so if you’re still figuring out what to get for whom this holiday season or you just generally need advice make sure to check that out. Five years ago I wrote about what I enjoy receiving from someone after I give them a present: nothing but a “thank you.” Honest. I…

  • How To,  I've Got Mad Skillz,  My Friends Have Mad Skillz

    6 Tips for the Gift-Giving Challenged

    One of my very favorite things to do in the whole wide world is give gifts to others. I’m no Martha Stewart or *insert the name of any other famous and professional creative person here* but I do take lots of pride in coming up with gift ideas that seem like perfection. We’re coming up on the holiday season and I am already seeing requests for ideas on Facebook that look something like this… “What to buy for a 13-14 year old? Anyone?” …so I think my advice might be useful to some of you out there, during the December holidays and year-round. Of course, the easy answer for that…

  • How To,  Travels

    First Time Going to Maui? Here Are 12 Travel Tips from a (Former) First Timer.

    Are you headed to Maui? Exciting! I’m sitting in the airport like a sad sack, on the way home from our first-but-definitely-not-our-last trip, and I thought I’d write up some suggestions for other first-timers. Hopefully you’ll find this list helpful and, even if Maui isn’t in your future right now, you can use many of these tips when heading to other destinations as well. With that, here we go, in random order: 1. Book your flights early. When we first started checking out our options many months ago, we found some that were only two flights: Knoxville to Dallas or LA, and then right to Maui. Because we waited too…