Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Pray and reflect more.
Worry less.

Read more.
Write more.

Eat more veggies.
Eat less sugar.

Exercise more.
Train for and run another half marathon.

Learn to knit. Again.
Finish projects.

Take more pictures.
Organize pictures I already have.

Cut myself some slack.
But somehow at the same time, figure my life out. (continued from last year)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


We here in east Tennessee know the drill when it comes to winter weather.

Weather forecast says wintry mix. Everybody freaks out. I think the word "mix" is what sends people over the edge.

This could mean anything! A mix of snow and...what exactly ? Tennis balls? Dry spaghetti noodles? Tires? Empty cans? Who cares! Get to the nearest grocery store and buy as much bread and milk as you can! For what? Milk sandwiches, of course!

Next step: forget how to drive. Pretend you have never seen a steering wheel before and that operating it is like driving a Panser into the line of fire.

Weather forecast says snow. We all laugh at the meteorologist. Kids call the superintendent stupid and mean for not closing school. They do a snow dance and wear their p-jams inside out...or whatever the cool thing to do these days to summon the elusive precipitation to the ground from where it is clinging so tightly to the clouds.

Next step: wake up in the morning and investigate. Creep to the window and peek outside. Cautiously at first and then flinging open the curtains to see...brown grass.

90% of the time it does not snow. I don't know why we think it will be different.

However, in 1993 the forecast did not say snow...and it snowed. Blizzard-ed, to be exact.

It was March and I was only 5. (I have no idea how I remember this. It's kind of weird) It was my parent's 10th anniversary and they were spending the weekend in the mountains and Bethany and I, who was 2, spent the weekend with one of our aunt and uncle.

Long story short, we wake up to more snow than anyone in east TN has seen in a LONG TIME. Like a foot more, to be exact.

There was no power, so we headed over to my uncle's parent's house where there WAS power. Don't remember how we got there, so we'll say we snowshoed over.

I spent the day playing with various grandchildren who were also taking refuge from the Blizzard and Bethany played with a dog that was about 3 times her size all day long. Barely even noticing that our parents were stuck in the mountains and didn't know how they would get back, but it was okay because I was introduced to snow cream.

My parents eventually escaped the mountains and got back to Knoxville to take Bethany and I home. The thing is, we live at the top of a 1/4 mile gravel, uphill, driveway. There is no way to get up but walk. Once we got in the house, it turned out we didn't have any power either. All 4 of us ended up sleeping on the living room floor in front of the fireplace, Little House in the Big Woods style.

I have always wanted to live in a state that gets lots of snow. I am fascinated by New England and their white Christmases, LLBean snow boots and quiet, snow covered landscapes. Maybe one day I will see this much snow again, but until then I will watch the home videos that we made during the Blizzard of 93 and laugh at my and Bethany's uber-country accents.

My favorite line of Bethany's "When we waked up, it was snow time!!"

Friday, December 3, 2010

the year I learned Santa was fake

{spoiler: Santa is fake}

The year was 1995. We had a giant IBM computer and  Windows 95, which basically meant we were SET. Well, until Mom would pick up the phone and disconnect the Internet.

Dad had discovered this website called called and it would "track" to see when Santa would pass over our house. AMAZING, right? We would play for hours (only because it took that long to navigate around) typing our names into the Naughty or Nice List and playing Christmas flash games.

After we returned home from Christmas Eve festivities, Bethany and I put on our matching Christmas p-jams, Dad read us 2 versions of Twas the Night Before Christmas (original and Muppet, with voices) and then we scampered off to bed.

Every year prior to this, I would tidy up my room before going to sleep, just in case Santa wanted to come tell me Merry Christmas. I don't know why I thought he would want to do this. Probably saw it on a Hallmark commercial or something.

But this year would be different.

This would be the year I would know if the whole "be good all year if you want presents" and "get to bed so Santa can come" propaganda was for real. You see, this website had sparked a thought in my 9 year old brain. If this new, magic, website could see when Santa would be AT OUR HOUSE, he had to be real...right?

I devised a plan to test the authenticity of Santa Claus.

Mom and Dad were still saying no to my pleas for a dog at this point. Jolly Old Saint Nick, however, had to be merciful and would bring a well-behaved little girl a puppy.

I asked Santa for a dog in a very nicely worded note, which I left next to the customary milk and cookies.  I even left a box next to the fireplace with newspaper in the bottom for Santa to leave he/she in.

The next morning, Bethany came in to wake me up and we ran down the hall into the living room to check out the spread. Santa had been there! He brought me clothes for my American Girl doll, probably some Pet Shops or Polly Pockets and other assorted toys that a 9 year old would play with. This might be the year I got the Quilt Sewing Kit or the Hair Scrunchy Maker. I was pretty big into arts and crafts.

There was a note in my newspaper-lined box. Written on yellow notepaper from my dad's desk. In my mom's handwriting.

"Santa doesn't have puppies on his sled."

Santa Myth: BUSTED

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

25 days of embarassing childhood stories

I have grown up with the most amazing and fun sister ever. We have annoying inside jokes, the same long and uncoordinated arms and legs and a pretty weird sense of combined humor. We were so lucky to have a family full of cousins; out of 8 grandkids, there were 7 girls and we were all fairly close in age. This made any family function or holiday heaps of fun!

Bethany and I have been reminiscing a lot lately over the weird things we would do as kids when we all got together. I cannot believe the imagination I used to have.

When we were kids, Mom read us Little House in the Big Woods, one chapter at a time before bed. My favorite chapter was about the Christmases they spent in their tiny cabin in Wisconsin, all covered in snow.  The girls got mittens and peppermint sticks in their stockings and Laura got a special rag doll one year.

Bethany and I "played" our own version of this story once, and it can best be described as "Poor Christmas."

During the holidays we have always put electric candles in all of the windows at the front of the house. We would turn out the lights in Bethany's room and plug in the candle and pretend that was the only light we had.

We kept a little bit of fake money in a pitcher and sometimes we would "go to the general store to buy food" (aka the Fisher Price kitchen in the playroom) and come back with a fake loaf of bread and an apple wrapped in a dish towel. Maybe some cheese, if it was a good day. This was our only food.

Then it would be Christmas Eve and we would wonder if Santa would bring us anything since we were poor. We put on nightgowns and of course we hung up socks and pretended they were stockings, and I remember getting an empty perfume bottle in my stocking from Santa.

I think this game also came from an early exposure to American Girl books and to the movie Little Women, which continues to be a holiday tradition and one of the most-quoted movies amongst the older cousins.

"Butter! Oh isn't butter divinity? Oh God thank you for this breakfast!"

Monday, November 29, 2010

we'll take a cup of kindness yet

I'm so so so so ready to end this year and begin 2011 with renewed perspective. I can honestly say this has been the most downright confusing, discouraging and overall frustrating year to date. I would like to leave these things buried in the past...

  • negativity, cynicism, bitterness, anxiety, uncertainty, doubt, pessimism and worry 
  • my guilt over marking All As Read on Google Reader/not finishing to-do lists
  • passive-aggressiveness and not asserting myself
  • rushing while driving
  • death of The Conversation, due to texting, facebooking and twitter-ing.
  • forgetting that exercise+endorphins=happy Melissa
  • too much indoors. Also vitamin D=happy Melissa
  • not making time to read, journal, slow down, I don't know, breathe?
  • not cutting myself some slack. 
  • overuse of the word "awkward"
  • wearing my heart on my sleeve
  • frustration over things/events/people/situations I can't control
  • being late, which often sets the tone for the entire day.
  • being bothered by little things that have no matter. Even though unnecessary abbreviations in texts and emails drive me UP THE WALL
I think that's all for now. Until then, I am surrounding myself with the blessings of  family and Christmas and the happiest time of the year!

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Band Kid: reprise

    To any UT alumni out there, this Saturday is Homecoming! It's my first as an actual alumna and I am excited to be spending the day in rather spectacular fashion.

    Two things about Homecoming:
    a) former members of UT's band are invited to come back and be in the VolWalk and halftime shows as the Alumni Band
    b)both of my parents were in UT's band while students. My Dad played tenor saxophone (not the girly Kenny G one) and my Mom was in the color guard.

    The Pride of the Southland's Homecoming 2010 theme is Generations of the Pride. And since it just so happens that my Bethany and I are a Band Kid's Kids...we are MARCHING in the VolWalk and halftime shows with Dad!

    (We technically did this several times when we were kids, because Mom and Dad had nowhere else to put us while they marched to the stadium from the bandroom. Back then, we were both still pretty short and could hide behind the tall people holding sousaphones)

    I'm planning pretending I'm in Drumline the entire time and creating a scene, so if you see me please wave. I'll be wearing orange overalls if it's not too cold. And if you see me fall, please don't laugh.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    free hour!

    In honor of having an extra hour yesterday, Mollie and I set out to hike the Catalooche Divide in Waynesville, NC. After some tricky directions and a turnaround (only to find out we had been about 50 feet from our destination) we tackled the SNOW covered trail. One thing I love SO MUCH is having a cold face and yesterday was perfect for that!  (Weird? NO. It makes me think or early morning running, skiing and camping!) There was probably 2-3 inches of snow covering the trees, fences and most of the trail. It was absolutely gorgeous and put me in the best mood! After about an hour and a half, we found a clearing with no snow where we sat and ate lunch and miiiiggght have taken a little nap. The sun was so warm on our faces it was impossible not to doze off! I had never hiked this trail before but I definitely recommend it! 

    Here are some pictures of our day...
    If Knoxville gets none, I have already seen my snow:)

    Our lunch and nap spot!

    Catalooche Valley



    Thanks, self-timer!  
    If I had that extra hour every day I would...
    *Sit down to have coffee, instead of trying to drink it while blow drying my hair
    *Read a few chapters from one of the 6 books I have stacked next to my bed.
    *Hang out with my little seester!
    *Make a birthday card instead of buying one. 
    *Watch some Mad Men!
    *Go for a walk or run! I have no excuse since it's an extra hour! HA
    *Go to Barnes and Noble and get lost in the Biography section
    *Wander through the downtown library and find some good (free!) books
    *Listen to the 98 podcasts I currently have in my Itunes. Yeesh
    *Finally look back through the pages I have dogeared in my Real Simple and Martha Stewart magazines
    *Make something sweet. Maybe this spiced applesauce cake?!
    *Skype with Emma! My Canadian best friend!
    *Upload and order prints of my Australia pictures...finally

    Clearly the free hour deal comes but only once a year, soooo I guess this list will wait for the next free Saturday I have :)

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    trunk or treat

    Last Friday I attended my very first Trunk or Treat! For those who don’t know (I didn’t) the concept, it’s to decorate the trunk/tailgate of your car in a parking lot somewhere and kids go from car to car Trick or Treating!

    A former co-worker of my dad’s used to tell him he looked like Woody from Toy Story. He got Dad a Woody doll one year for Christmas and we kept the joke rolling by making Dad get his picture made with Woody when we went to Disney World in 2007 (which I would post but I have it on a different computer)

    All that to say it only made sense that we were Toy Story at Trunk or Treat. Bethany made our Andy’s-bedroom backdrop and my sheep and it looked great! Trunk or Treat=success!

    You’ve got a friend in me!

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    boom bothered

    This is a pretty old website-viral-video craze, but Robert is Bothered helps describe the mood I am in today: BOTHERED.

    Mostly just by by this 2-day long headache I have going on, combined with sneezing fits and itchy eyes. Womp womp.

    And by this. It's sad. It always reminded me of something from the Great Gatsby. 

    I have found that lately this Sugarland song makes me smile instantly and want to do my finger-point dance. And cut my hair short.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    happy things

    1. I understand that some people have an aversion to all things Christmas before Thanksgiving (Halloween?). I am not one of them. The month of December FLIES by and so does the day itself, so why limit it to one month? I was not feeling particulary chipper the other day after work, so I dropped by my neighborhood Hobby Lobby, did a lap through the Christmas section and BOOM ROASTED! Instant good mood. I might have bought some plaid ribbon, too.

    The Priode family is also pretty well-stocked on Christmas cds, ranging from the Partidge family, Vince Guaraldi, the classic Mannheim Steamroller and my personal favorites: Appalachian Instrumentals and Christmas with the Rat Pack. I think we probably have around 30 cds which is way too much for just December.

    Christmas is in 68 days. I can't wait to start making decorations and hopefully make some of these.

    2. The Sufjan Stevens and Mumford and Sons concerts are right around the corner! They are within a 3-day span of each other, which is safe to say will be the hippest and whitest 3 days of my life.  If you have not heard of either of these, LEARN NOW...and listen to Little Lion Man. ASAP. Really loud.

    3. Tonight I am attempting to make the most delicous looking pumpkin swirl brownies I think I have ever seen. Pretty happy that the weather is cooling down. Why? Because that means I can wear layers to conceal the fact that I will probably eat the entire batch tonight.

    4. Still loving Crazylove. Please read it.

    5. November 19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1!!

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    sounds of silence

    Woooo! 2 posts in one week. Maybe I'm getting back into this blogging business.

    Here are some random thoughts that are tumbling around in my brain lately...

    I am reading this awesome book called Crazylove, that was recommended to me by my Dad and my sister, Bethany. Simply put: it is awesome. I am only about 4 chapters in and I have already been shaken by a lot of what the author, Francis Chan, has to say. What I have read so far is about the lukewarm American churchgoer that fits God into their life as it is convenient for them. An minute here, a prayer there, continuing on with our much-more-important lives in disregard for the Creator who gave us everything. Chan makes a great point when he says that God is not humble. He KNOWS he deserves our attention and that he should be the center of our lives.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I feel like I fit that description to a T. I have my routine:

    get up, rush to work, work all day, rush to Girl Scouts/church/dinner with friends/home to watch shows and hang out with my dog and roommate, look at piles of laundry to put away/books to read/crafts to make in my room, realize I have stayed up too late, crash into my bed, defeated...and repeat.

    My quiet time and reading time are squished in between all of the above, as time permits. During the day, I have very little time where I am quiet and even less when I am still. I fill my driving time to and from work with podcasts and music. I can't even sleep in the quiet, I have to run a fan or some other form of white noise.

    As a people, we fill silence with talking on cell phones, listening to Ipods, watching TV and the like and we fill our stillness with the need to text and email and be available to talk to ANYONE at ANYTIME. Our attention cannot be kept, we have to be constantly entertained and we generally "don't have the time" for anything. I am GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY of this.

    I want to feel like I have made time for something worthwhile during the day and I'm not just "getting through." My worrying and need to plan have both led me to doubt God's plan for my life. Why is it so hard for me to give up control even in these times when I need answers so badly.

    This is an old hymn that I'm sure everyone has heard, or heard of. Listen again, and let yourself feel small.

    Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, O take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    hello october

    Well to state the obvious, it's already October! I love the fall! I especially am enjoying this one because last year I didn't get a fall, but 2 winters instead. I have been parking further away from work and getting a nice little walk in while it's still chilly outside.

    It's so trite so say, but I feel like this year has positively zipped by. Before I know it October 30th will be here and and won't have done any of the fun fall crafts I want to complete, or gone to a corn maze or carved a pumpkin. Not sure where my time seems to be going lately.

    I'm very pleased with how Girl Scouts is going so far! I have 4 little Brownies who are so much fun. We have already completed one Try-It and have 3 more in progress! I love that I have something I can pour into and plan for and see results from.

    I have been feeling pretty antsy about a lot of things lately, the main one being the constant wonder of what I am supposed to be doing with my life. It's hard not to feel like I'm wasting my time when I have a proverbial list of things I WANT to be doing, but am in a completely different situation instead. Sometimes I feel like I just missed my calling and that's why I'm stuck in this place of  indecision, uncertainty and unrest.

    Big questions with no answers. That's been the summary of these past couple months.

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    trip to the great white north!

    If you read my blog at all while I was in Australia, you will remember the names Emma and Ayla. If not, here is an abbreviated version of who these lovely ladies are:

    AYLA is from Toronto and we met my very first night in Canberra! We spent many nights watching Weeds and Entourage, many trips to Lighty and Belco mall AND got to take an incredible 3-week backpacking trip up the East Coast.
    One of our trips to Sydney! What a beautiful city.
    Learning how to surf at Seven Mile Beach! Hang ten!
    Ayla and I going to Res Ball at our Uni in Canberra!

    EMMA is from Niagara Falls on the Canadian side! We met at the exchange student orientation and over the course of 4 months, discovered that we are the exact same person. Except she is blond and I am not:) We had so many pancake-for-dinner nights, Office and AD quote wars and not to mention our awesome Halloween party!
    One of our many eventful trips to Civic!    
    our pumpkins on Halloween! We were dressed as Bogans. Definition here.

    At the French school's fete!

    Why the reminiscing? Because I am GOING TO CANADA to see these 2 awesome girls on SUNDAY! I am spending 3 days in Niagara with Emma and her family, and then she and I are driving to Toronto to visit with Ayla and her friends and family! 

    Also in the works is a reunion with 2 other UC alumnae, Bridget and Amanda from New York! We are hoping to meet up with them at the end of the week around the Falls!
    Bridget, Amanda, me and Ayla on the gondola ride into Taronga Zoo in Sydney!

    Even though we have emailed, Facebook chatted, text messaged, called and seems like it has been way longer than 9 months that I have been away from these girls! I am so beyond excited to see them!

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Gimli! My new dog!

    As of yesterday…I have a dog!

    How it happened…

    There is a wonderful couple who go to church with me that started house/dog sitting for this year. They have an adorable little girl who will be 1 soon and 2 little dogs; a Yorkie named Lucy and a Maltese named Gimli.

    Amy called me on Wednesday to tell me that Gimli does not seem happy around their little girl. He has been hiding a lot and acting like he is sad because he does not get all the attention! She asked if I knew anyone who would give him a happy and loving home and I said YES! Of course I knew someone because I wanted to take him!

    After staying at their house almost the entire month of June, I absolutely fell in love with this precious little doggie! He is 4 years old and is a tiny ball of white fur! He is soooo well behaved and is the best of both worlds: he will sit in your lap and cuddle but he also likes to sleep in his own bed and do his own thing.

    I picked him up last night and Mollie and had so much fun with him letting him get used to his new home! I am so excited to take care of him and love him!



    Friday, August 6, 2010

    frequent mover miles?

    1.       August 2005. Move from Mom and Dad’s to floor k6 of Hess Hall. Have awful first roommate but in November, move down the hall and have awesome roommate! Stay until May 2006.
    2.       August 2006. Move to Crossing Place apartments with Stephanie, Emily and Jessie.
    3.       August 2007. Move from Crossing Place back to Mom and Dad’s.
    4.       August 2008. Move from Mom and Dad’s to Quarry Trail apartments with Stephanie, Mollie and Kathryn.
    5.       July 2009. Pack my stuff up at Quarry Trail apartments and go back (again) to Mom and Dad’s while I am in Australia.
    6.       August 2010. Move from Mom and Dad’s (last time?) to North Knoxville condo with Mollie.
    Yikessss. Lots of packing tape, newspaper, trips up stairs and trips to Goodwill. For someone whose parents have lived in the same house my entire existence, I am definitely making up for the lack of moving now.
    This current move (as in last week and yesterday, today, and probably next week, too) has been quite an…experience.
    My dad’s sister and my awesome aunt Celeste, has owned a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo right off of Emory Road for 10ish years. For the past 2 , no one has lived there so it needed a fair amount of work to get it ready for my friend Mollie and I. My crafty and talented Grandma has repainted, refinished, scrubbed and cleaned that place top to bottom for us to live in! Last Sunday, our brand new downstairs floors were finally finished! Last Monday, I took a Craigslist-purchased desk over to the new place to check out the floors and unload some stuff. The very next day, our neighbor’s water heater burst…and ruined our brand-new, 2 days old floors. Oh dear.
    We have been dealing with insurance and such the past few days and hopefully by the beginning of next week, there will be a check in hand to order new wood and re-do our floors in the living room and Mollie’s room.  Miraculously nothing was ruined, only dampened a little bit, but all of our furniture AND all of Mollie’s stuff that was on the floors is ok. Whew!
    It has been so exciting to see this place come together and I know that when it’s all finished  it is going to look so pretty! I am excited to hang stuff up and do craft projects with Mollie to decorate our new home!
    More on the ongoing saga soon…

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    my sweet teeth

    If you know me, and you know me well, you know that I have a mouthful of sweet tooth-s. Cake, pie, cookies, brownies, ice cream, pudding, tart, cobbler, breads, name it, and I probably love it. Know those people who have aversions to coconut, nuts or certain types of fruit or chocolate? Not me. I love them all.

    I recently bought a cookbook that we carry at work called The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. When I first opened it, I turned to a recipe for Peaches n Cream cupcakes and decided that would be the first one I would make. Now that I have gotten started, the goal is to make ALL the desserts in the cookbook, Julie and Julia style, before the end of the year!

    On Friday night I made a batch of Peaches n Cream cupcakes that turned out splendidly! They had slices of peach in the bottom and a bread-like cake over top of them. I made a yummy vanilla frosting for them, which gave me a little trouble because apparently I need a "paddle attachment" on my mixer?

    I also made Banana Chocolate cupcakes, because I had a banana that was about to go off and was pretty much already mashed. They were also oh so yummy and had lots of cinnamon and ginger in them. I ran out of confectioner's sugar while making the chocolate frosting BUT I improvised by using more chocolate baking powder:)

    My testers included Mom, Dad, Bethany, Granny and  Pop Pop, and various people at church who ate them at lunch today.

    I am a HUGE fan of Key Lime Pie, but had always made it with using a pre-bottled lime juice. Today, I zested and juiced the guts out of 5 limes for my 3rd recipe! The only setback I experienced was that the pie is a little more on the yellow side instead of the lime green side. Oh well, I know for next time!

    Coming up this week...Chocolate cheesecake! And coming soon at the request of Bethany...Chocolate Raspberry bars!

                                                     the frosted Peach and Banana cupcakes!
                                                                     my gutted limes! Haha

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Oh. Hello. Didn't see you there.

    Well Internets, I have done a pretty awesome job at updating here. I'm sure my 5 readers are all disappointed...

    My life since Australia is sadly not as exciting, which was to be expected I suppose. So in order to aptly cover the past 5 months of my life, here is a chronological list of events from November to the present:

    1. Came home from Australia.
    2. Graduated. Christmas. Now it's 2010.
    3. Thought about grad school.
    4. Bought a GRE practice book.
    5. Waffled on grad school.
    6. Did not take the GRE. Still have the book, though.
    7. Thought about the Coast Guard.
    8. Changed my mind about the Coast Guard.
    9. Doubted my reasons for getting a college degree.
    10. Interviewed for HR job.
    11. Did not get HR job.
    12. Interviewed for administrative job.
    13. Did not get administrative job.
    14. Sustained major blow to self esteem, confidence, motivation and overall morale.
    15. Watched 5 seasons of LOST in 2 months. (low point)
    16. Finally unpacked everything from Australia. Rats.
    17. Started planning my cat lady career path.
    18. Interviewed for job at Bliss in Market Square (we are now in February, kids)
    19. GOT part time job at Bliss in Market Square as sales associate
    20. Part time job at Bliss turns into full time job at Bliss.
    21. Started utilizing my degree by getting put to work on the Bliss website
    22. Apply and get approved to be a Girl Scout leader in the fall for 3rd grade Brownies at Chilhowee Intermediate! Can't wait!
    23. I turn 23.
    23. I start the Instant Bliss blog.
    24. Here we are!

    I think that about covers it! Not much else happening in my world except trying to decide if I am going to cut my hair and getting pumped for family vacation in June, groundbreaking eh?

    THE most exciting thing that is happening soon-ish is that I am going to CANADA to visit exchange girls! I miss EMMA JEAN so much! She and I basically became the same person and I have had an Emma void since November of 2009. I cannot WAIT to go see her and her hometown of Niagara in August!

    Woo! That's all for now!