Archive for the ‘Around the house’ Category

A garden story…and a question

hello wonderful reader friends! 
As you may remember, one of my goals this year was to plant a garden.

And I did.
And I will tell you all about it.

But first, will you answer a question for me?
Would you buy one of these?

It’s a handmade, hard-bound journal. A repurposed old book.
I made this very first one for my husband for Christmas, and I have been thinking about opening an Etsy shop and selling them.

This one has maps, some of the original pages of book, and even an envelope for keepsakes!

Sooo…would you? Please understand my question – I am not asking will you (i.e. if I open this store I expect you to buy one) – no, no, no. I am asking would you. In other words, is this something that you or someone you know would ever be interested in? Is it a place I should invest some time and labor?

Leave me a message if you can – I would love to know your thoughts!

But back to the garden.
My darling little girl came 9 days early. That threw a little kink in my plans.
But my husband was so amazing – he still built me my raised bed, then filled it up with dirt.

Why yes, that is a trash can acting as a wheelbarrow! We do it African-style around here 🙂

I planted with great hopes.
Broccoli, melon, 3 kinds of tomatoes, zuchinni, squash, bell pepper, mint, basil, sage…

Yes, in a 4×4 raised bed.
Ha! If any of you have any garden experience you will quickly see that I didn’t. None. Obviously.
I planted enough to cover my whole backyard. Except I put it into a 4×4 raised bed. Nice 🙂

Well, nature quickly took over.
I planted about 3 weeks too late. And it’s been obvious.

The broccoli bolted (which it is doing in the picture above. Unfortunately, when I took this picture, I didn’t know that was possible. I just thought “O look! My broccoli is making pretty flowers!”
FYI for all of you other non-gardeners out there. It isn’t supposed to do that.)
My melon never took.
My zuchinni and squash gave me one nice little vegetable. Then everything wilted & died. I tried self-pollinating. I tried watering. I tried it all. I have no idea what happened.
Of my 3 tomato plants, only 1 has given me any produce. Exactly 2 tomatoes thus far…but more to come! The other plants? Yep, they are dying.

I have gotten lots of basil! And sage. And mint.
My pepper plant is growing small little peppers. But I just noticed the bottom of one of them is rotting….hm, why?

But, my 30 before 30 goal was stated as this: “Plant a garden and grow tomatoes”

Therefore, I would like to consider this year a success.

My landlord came over the other day & said (in his wonderful South African accent), “You know no one is getting tomatoes this year? It’s just too hot” That made me feel lots better.

I have learned a few things:

1. Zuchinni and squash need LOTS of room. Like they could have used that whole 4×4 bed. The melon would have taken up most of it too…if it had grown.

2. You can self-pollinate a zucchini if it’s not flowering well. This didn’t work for me, but I am glad I know it now. YouTube has lots of videos on how to do this.

3. Mulch is important! It helps keep weeds at bay, keeps the dirt from packing down after rain, and keeps roots cool (which is important for plants that get to hot…and bolt).

4. Basil, mint and broccoli will “bolt” if it gets too hot. Bolting is simply flowering. The plant knows its not going to make it much longer & so it will try to flower so it can spread it’s seeds and grow the next year! There are ways to stop this (right now I am harvesting basil nearly 3x a week to keep it from bolting!), but I didn’t know that before my broccoli did it.

4. Gardening takes work & patience. Well, I knew that, but I am enjoying discovering it for myself. I have really LOVED learning all about vegetables, and I am eager to plant a fall garden in a few weeks & see how that goes!

 And that is my garden story – hope you enjoyed! I am happy to give you any tips I have…which are few, but ask away!

P.S. Don’t forget to tell me your thoughts on the journal!

Enjoying my little journey,
~ Melissa

A wife’s role: guarding the peace of my home

My little girl was three weeks old yesterday.

The first two weeks were a breeze. The last one has become increasingly more difficult. Although she is not “officially” diagnosed yet (there is a rule of 3 hours, at least 3 days a week, for 3 weeks) – she is leaning heavily towards becoming a colicky baby.
And it breaks my heart.

The last several nights she has cried for several hours, and by “cried”, I mean screamed…with real little tears on her face.

As we have added the role of “parent” to our lives, my dearest husband and  I have asked ourselves what our roles look like now. Even though we have almost 5 years of marriage under our belt (thank goodness!), things are different now that we have a little soul in our charge.

Photo Credit

Today, I awoke to an absolutely wrecked house. Dishes piled high, laundry that needed to be done, and a husband headed into a full day of work. When Makena finally went down for a mid-morning nap (after another bout of her screaming-cry), I went to the Lord. My heart needed to hear Him. He knows us. He knows my daughter. He knows my heart and my house.
I can read 100 books and blogs, but no one can answer my questions like He can.

After spending a few quiet moments with Him, I got up revived. I spent her nap time straightening the house and realized that as a wife it is my responsibility to guard the peace of our home. For me (today), that meant several things:
1. Spend time with the Lord
2. Clean the dishes
3. Fold the laundry
4. Do a quick pick-up of our home
5. Brainstorm with the Lord about our daughter’s new symptoms & how to help her.

While I don’t think that this list is a rule book of what it looks like the guard the peace of your home, the question to all of you women is – what does it look like for you, today?
I fully believe the the husband is the head of the home, and in his own way is called to guard it’s peace. But I am here everyday – I choose how clean it will be (for the most part), how peaceful it will feel, and what the routines and pace of our home life will look like.

Today, fighting to guard our peace looked like this:

Photo credit

How are you called to guard your home today?

Project Simplify: I rocked the yard sale

Remember this?

I am on a process of simplifying our belongings in an effort to not be so held by this crazy consumer world we live in. I have had some success with Craigslist, but I decided to break out the big guns and have a yard sale…

Now, completely forgetting that I have pretty much never actually been to a yard sale, I decided to jump in and have one anyway! Because who needs to know what they are doing?

Not me.

The first morning dawned bright and early. I had put signs out the night before, and then they promptly got rained on, so I wasn’t sure what the response would be. Several amazing friends helped me throughout this process and I am so glad they did – couldn’t have done it alone!

I contemplated finding tables & the etc, but end the end decided to go African style and just put down tarps.

It was HOT.
Like 112 degrees with heat index.

But people still came! Slowly, but surely. I closed the sale down at around 1pm on both Friday & Saturday.

Thankfully on Saturday my amazing Dr. was around to keep me company! 🙂

I sold nearly everything,
made several hundred dollars in the process,
and turned a whole bunch of this:

into money!

One of the most helpful blogs I read about how to pull of a yardsale is here by one of my very favorite bloggers, the Nester.

Overall, I am really proud of myself!

Next up..what I did with what didn’t sell! 🙂

Hope you are enjoying the journey,
~ Melissa

Project Simplify: A yard sale

I can’t believe I am doing this.
I am petrified.
What the heck have I gotten myself into?

That’s right folks. This weekend I will be having my very first yard sale.


As part of Project Simplify, I am doing my best to take the craziness of our accumulations and get down to only what we really need.


I have shown you before the horrible recesses of my  storage unit…(it looks as bad inside of my fuzzy picture as it does in real life, go figure)

This is the monster that I am tackling this week. Going through every box in order to throw out, donate or sell.

Any great tips while I am at it?
What are you needing to simplify?

Talk to me!

~ Melissa

Monday Musings

Hello dear friends!

Happy 4th of July weekend…and for those of you who have it, Happy July 5th Holiday!!
Hope you are enjoying it.

It’s Monday, so I thought I would tell you something interesting!

I follow 87 blogs.
That’s a whole hecka lot.

I have them all neatly arranged into folders on my reader (I use & love Google Reader).

I thought I might share a few of my favorite from the “Homemaking” folder.

1. Young House Love

This is a young couple who bought a house & chronicle it’s slow (and gorgeous) overhaul. It’s probably one of the first ones I read every day. I really enjoy the way they do what they do; their house is beautiful, and they aren’t bad writers to boot!
It also has some great ideas of how to decorate and the etc. Check them out.

2. Making this Home

Katie lives in the US and Germany with her husband. They live in 400 sq. feet in Germany! It’s her story about how they do it.

3. The Nester

I LOVE this blog. It’s sponsored by DaySpring, and she is always finding creative ways to redo and upgrade her home to a place that is charming and welcoming.
Her home seems to be such a place of peace. I love it.

These are just three blogs in a world FULL of them, but they have been fun for me to read. Obviously, I read 84 other ones 🙂 But I will tell you more about those in the coming days!

Okay. One more. I can’t resist.

I have this one in my “Homemaking” folder but really ought to be in my “This is just funny” folder. Which I don’t have.
I need one.

Catalog Living

This is a quippy one-liner site that makes fun of the pictures you would see in various catalogs (think Pier One, Pottery Barn, JC Penny, etc)
I laugh every day when I read it.

What about you? Do you have a favorite “homemaking” blog? One that shows you how to decorate your home, making it a place that is beautiful and welcoming?

I would really love to hear. Let me know about it in the comments! And post a link if you can 🙂

Enjoy today!
~ Melissa

Why Simplify?

For me, the answer is easy:
I love my husband.

Last night my darling Dr. came home to a house that is, let us say, still in “progress”.

He is just three days into a three year residency process, and it is already obvious that we are going to need some extra grace around here to have a healthy and joy-filled three years.

As I lay in bed thinking over my long to-do list for our small abode, I realized how important it is for me to get this place looking and feeling peaceful.

A few weeks ago our house looked like this:

I have to laugh at the “Joy Hope Peace” sign on our mantle.
Yea, not quite.

I am simplifying because I love this man:

I am simplifying because I want his heart to feel at peace in our home. I want our home to be a place of rest and joy for him.

There are other reasons that I am simplifying, but this is one of the most important.

What about you? What ways have you found bless your husband in your home? What can you be doing in this season to make your home a place of life and joy?

I would love to hear from you!

Planning for joy in the journey,

Project Simplify: Craigslist

I am getting rids of lots and lots of stuff. Turning this:

Into something like this:

Okay, maybe not an actual Zen garden.

But close.

My first step?

Your local neighborhood Craigslist.

Craigslist is a site that is simple, easy and unbelievably popular. It’s like publishing in a type of “for sale” column you might find in a newspaper.
Except it’s online.
And free.


I have used it to list a few larger items (read, furniture) that I am trying to sale. No bites yet, but I will keep  you updated.

If you have never tried Craigslist to sell (or buy), I recommend them.  The link is to the Tulsa one, but you can find one in nearly any city.

What about you? Have you ever listed on Craigslist? How was the experience? What might a person trying to sell on Craigslist do to make it a more successful sale?

Would love to hear from you!

Enjoying the journey,