I'm daughter to Lissie, sister to Jess, wife to Brien, mom to Hannah, Lily and Eleanor. I am a stay at home mom to my girls, and my free time is dedicated to gardening (I confess I'm still a novice and look to Lissie and Jess for advice), baking and cooking, and card making. I'm doing my part to make the earth a bit greener, trying hard to avoid processed foods and HFCS, and find the "slow food" movement intriguing and inspiring. I love visits to my local farmers' market, fresh produce, reading, getting out in nature, and spending time with my family.


Catholic, homeschooler, lover of books and great wine and an amateur gardening addict.


I'm Melissa aka "Lissie", mother of Rachael and Jessica, and grandmother to a passel of the sweetest children on the planet. I'm a semi-retired public educator and professor who works from home for a small publisher. I am a lover of all things beautiful ... flowers, the mountains, nature scenes, the innocent faces of children, and my rock and fossil collection, to name a few. I enjoy shopping at the farmers' market for fresh foods and then experimenting with new recipes. Good food and good wine delight me. I love to travel so my suitcase is always packed. Like my daughters, I take pleasure in simple things ... clothes drying on the line, tomatoes so fresh they are still hot from the sun, good books, and interesting movies. I'd like to know everything before I die.

I've been "working" on this crocheted afghan for my sister since I was 17. I am now 29 so that is a very long time! My aunt helped me get started on it and I finished about a third of it and then I laid it down one day and didn't pick it back up for awhile and I promptly forgot not only the stitch but how to crochet. My friend Bonny, yarn crafter extraordinaire, figured out the pattern and has helped me get going with it again. This afghan is for my sister and I hope to have it finished in time to take with me in July when I fly back to Virginia for a long visit with her.

These two piles of fabric are going to be aprons. I bought a cool pattern on Etsy and I've got the first apron's pieces cut and now I just need to find the time to start sewing. The brown/cream apron will be mine and is the first I am doing for a practice run.

This fabric I bought today and will be made into a patchwork style duvet cover for our summer down blanket for our bed. I will use muslin for both the patches in between the patterned pieces and for the backing. I got my inspiration for this project here.

No Effort Sprouts

Ella likes to play with dried beans on the deck:

And now under the deck we have lots of these:

Blooms In Our Yard

Basic White Bread

I found this on the Kitchenaid cooking forums and it is delicious:

Basic White Bread

½ cup low-fat milk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 packages active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water (105 F to 115 F)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour

Place milk, sugar, salt, and butter in small saucepan. Heat over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cool to lukewarm.

Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl. Add lukewarm milk mixture and 4 ½ cups flour. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 1 minute.

Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, and mix about 2 minutes, or until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. Knead on Speed 2 about 2 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be slightly stick to the touch.

Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a loaf, and place in greased 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½-inch baking pans. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

In The Garden

My daughter, a good helper:

It doesn't look like much right now but this is the result of hours of work!

The carpet shrub and the prickly red shrubs in front will be removed next weekend. We aren't sure what we are replacing them with:

Pots of geraniums and petunias:

This is what I came home from the nursery with:

Spring is my favorite season. There are things I like about all the seasons but in Spring there is this sense of renewal, of survival almost and the reward is the gorgeous blooms of the season- phlox, crocus, tulips and daffodils to name a few. Nothing energizes me more than seeing those first flowers bloom, seeing the teeny shoots of hostas pushing up through the dirt and in a matter of two weeks becoming big and lush. Clematis creeps out and overnight it seems to climb two feet and burst with beautiful colored blooms, dark purple being the showiest and my personal favorite.

This year I finally have a yard in which I can do real gardening. We've lived in a townhouse with a postage stamp sized yard for the last several years and I have been making do with container gardening which is rewarding in its own way. I love containers way too much to sacrifice them now that I have a yard and landscaping so they are back out and full of my favorite flowers. I ordered quite a few seeds to start from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a first for me. I started 7 varieties of tomato, several herbs and some peppers. Just yesterday I transplanted them out in the raised beds Bob built for me. We have reserved one box specifically for flowers, the other three are full of veggies and herbs. We have 13 tomato plants, two types of beans (one bush, one vine), two types of peppers, lots of herbs (LOTS!), cucumbers and swiss chard going. We have already harvested our leaf lettuce and have eaten some very tasty and fresh salads in the past week.

Today I headed out to the nursery. We found a local nursery, Heartland, and let me tell you - I think I was practically high when I left there today. This nursery has anything a gardener could want. Heirloom varieties that are hard to find and usually must be grown from seed are in abundance. I had hollyhocks on my list of plants to buy and I had so many varieties to choose from that I almost bought one of each! The same applied to every single other plant I had on my to-buy list. I bought so many plants that I had TWO huge plant carts full and a sales woman had to help me get to the register. After several years of buying annuals and gardening I know which plants make me the happiest and thrive even under lazy gardener conditions: geraniums, creeping verbena, wave petunias and coleus are always on my "to buy" list. And I purchased quite a few perennials to fill in our landscaping: poppies, hollyhocks, hostas, hydrangeas, and phlox.

As I was standing in line, my 3 month old son in a Mei Tai carrier on my chest, a man in line behind me asked me how I was going to manage all my plants since I had such a new baby! Hah- I'll tell you how, my son happily spent a couple hours in his swing in the sunshine today, Ella ran around the yard and "helped me" dig, plant and water. Why people think you have to find solo time to garden is beyond me. Nothing is better for little children than to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine learning about the earth and all it can produce and grow. Ella already understands the difference between seeds and bulbs, shrubs, flowers and probably even perennials and annuals. At two years old she knows that plants need water and sunshine and mulch helps keep weeds away. And it is so good for children to be involved and aware of the cycle of the year.

My biggest excitement of the day is my purchase of four hydrangeas. I adore big, showy, flowery, untamed looking plants so hydrangeas are high on my list of favorite plants. If I had room I would have a lilac but I digress. Bob and I have such different landscaping tastes, his run very tidy and neat and would include begonias, impatiens, a japanese maple or two and boring old boxwood shrubs. I like rambling, leafy, flowery messes. So, we have to compromise. I have kept many disliked shrubs for him and he has conceded to hydrangeas for me. I have researched hydrangeas for awhile, I knew I had a nice shady area under my dining room windows in the front of our house in which they would look gorgeous. I decided on the Endless Summer, Original variety because they bloom all summer and can be either pink or blue based on the soil's pH. I can't wait to have some big, puffy blossoms to put in a vase on our summer nature table!

Saturday at the Farmers' Market

As is our wont, Saturday morning we headed out bright and early for the Farmers' Market. We typically bring the stroller and Lil spends her time hopping in and out. I had a brainstorm and we brought the wagon instead. Lily enjoyed it far more than the stroller and it worked well for hauling our finds.

The first thing I wanted to check out was the music. This past week, they had a man playing the hammer dulcimer and it was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed his music and was ready to begin searching for decent produce.

It is still early days yet and I figured there wouldn't be much to be had in the way of fresh produce. I was right. :oP One of my favorite booths, Blenheim, was there. I purchased some garlic chives, parsley, and salad mix from them.

I moved on to Amy's Organics and purchased the last bunch of swiss chard. I then found my way to Double A farms' booth and got the last of the bacon they were selling (they have WONDERFUL bacon, and Linda and Ronnie are so delightful. They recognize me every week and we have the most lovely chats. They really remind me of the friendly folks back home.).

While I was off making those purchases, Lissie was being an absolute doll and waited in line for fresh strawberries. The line was VERY long--a twenty minute wait I believe--and by the time we got to the front (thank you, Lissie!!) most of the TRUCKLOAD of strawberries were sold! I had mom purchase two quarts, thinking they would last for a couple of days. That wasn't counting on this:

Lily porked down at least a pint of berries while we finished our shopping! She kept reaching in the bag and eating more and more!!

I confess, they weren't as amazing as I had hoped. Sure, they were dead-ripe and juicy, but they lacked the sweetness punch I was expecting. Lil, however, had NO complaints. ;o)

I finished the trip with a stop at Bill Forest's seafood booth and purchased some lump crab meat. Dinner last night was homemade crabcakes (thank you, Lissie!), swiss chard sautee'd with bacon, shallot and garlic chives and dressed with some cider vinegar and sugar. Oh, it was divine. :o)

The Farmers' Market runs along DOG (Duke of Gloucester) Street in Colonial Williamsburg, and it is just beautiful. These winsome pansies caught my fancy.

Lily and Lissie lead the way home. It was a lovely day at the Market and I look forward to next Saturday to see what this week's fine weather brings. :o)

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