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'm A Stranger Here Myself

(Stealing the title from the exceptionally funny Bill Bryson book!)

Hello, friends! It's been awhile. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions and well, that describes this blog pretty well. You'd think with three contributors that at least one of us could manage a post per week - well, clearly that just isn't how it has played out.

As for me, I've been busy homeschooling this year (our first year) and even though it's first grade it has taken a lot of my free time. Keeping up with the 4 and 2 year olds fills in the remaining gaps of time. Even so, a lot has been updated, improved and managed while the chaos has gone on all around us.

Gardening is my first love and I spend from December to February plotting away and what I'll buy, where I'll plant it and how much money I need to carve out from the old budget to make it happen. We've installed two new trellises, pyracantha, planted 6 new roses, more clematis, more lavender, monarda, coreopsis, phlox, salvia, a large (and expensive!) crape myrtle, and created whole new bed in the yard. I'll try and find time to snap some pictures soon. Our trees are leafing out, the red twig dogwood and spiderwort are particularly magnificent this spring adding little pops of color in a sea of medium green. The tulips and daffodils provided some early spring charm when I was ready to lose my mind from the bleakness of the landscape. Professional landscapers can publish all the books about "winter landscaping" that they want but the bottom line is that some hellebores blooming and red twig dogwood stems do not make a garden. It is bleak and gray and brown and d.e.a.d.

Spring has always been my favorite season as the world springs to life again. Animal babies are born and plants wake up and show up after a long sleep. This year has been the allergy year of hell for me - as I've never suffered from seasonal allergies prior to this I can tell you that I am particularly outraged about it all. All the 24 hour allergy remedies stink and I've had the best luck with old fashioned 4 hour Chlor-Tabs and Zitador eye drops - just in case you are wondering. :-)

Last but not least, even though I hate to cook and do it as little as possible I made a dish recently that was totally easy and very good. The recipe follows:

Chicken with cannellini beans and tomato sauce

  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed red chilli
  • 1 x 400g can no-added-salt chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g can no-added-salt cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2 tsp salted baby capers, rinsed, drained, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh continental parsley
  • 2 (about 250g each) chicken breast fillets, halved horizontally
  • Steamed green round beans, to serve




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