TBT: My First Car

It was 1983 and I was looking for my very own car. I had a savings account that my parents had opened for me when I was a wee lass. It had $1200 in it. I used it to buy a 1975 Monte Carlo – I called her Quicksilver and I loved her!

Dad, Me and my Monte CarloI had big plans for Quicksilver – I wanted to paint her black and put on mag wheels – those plans never came to fruition, but I drove her for five years and was happy every time I got behind the wheel. In my opinion, she was one of the prettiest cars ever made.

So many memories when I look at this picture – it was taken when we lived in Blumont Estates. I was wearing my pants with fur on them – mohair I think it was called. My dad was wearing a Homestead Builders hat – from when he worked with Kenny Smith and I was wearing my unicorn polo shirt (no alligators for me!).  The big tree behind the car was the largest on our property. It took two people with outstretched arms to reach all the way around the trunk. When Dad and I went to test drive this car – he rode in the back. He told me there were inches of beer cans back there! Dad, Mom, and I built this house. So many drives in this car on the parkway, to the drive-in on Timberlake road, back and forth to college. Truly a picture is worth a thousand words.

Tuesday’s Tips: Favorite Uses for Coffee Filters

I love my Keurig, but coffee filters are an item I still keep in my cabinet.  They have a ton of uses and are super cheap! Here are some of my favorites!

1. Clean your eyeglasses –  no need for expensive cleaners or cloths, just grab a coffee filter and a few drops of water – your glasses will be lint free and clean in no time! You can also safely use coffee filters to clean your computer screen, cell phone, or other small electronic devices as well as windows and chrome! NO LINT!

2. Cover your bowl in the microwave – no more splatters – the top of your bowl is covered and it is way cheaper than a paper towel and less tricky to pick up than putting a plate on top of your bowl.

3. Make your own air freshener – put some baking soda inside of a coffee filter, tie it off and put it where needed (near cat litter box, in with your shoes, the sky’s the limit!)

4. Spread oils/shortening/butter – coffee filters are great for spreading these around and the filter’s fibers won’t break off like a napkin’s would.

5. Pet pooper scoopers – pick it up and toss it in the trash – no need for plastic baggies that are bad for the environment!

6. Protect your china – lay a filter between each plate to protect from nicks and scratches.

7. Make tea – use loose tea in your automatic coffee pot to make tea, use coffee filters to make tea bags, or to make herbal tea (put herbs inside of coffee filter and tie them off to make your own herbal tea).

8. Nail polish remover – coffee filters work as well as cotton balls.

9. Hold small items – whether you are putting together furniture, working on your car or working on a craft  with small parts – put those in a coffee filter to keep them from getting lost.

10.  Keep Cast Iron pans from rusting – Place inside of cast iron skillet to absorb moisture.

For more amazing ways to use coffee filters, check out these links!  Wake Up World, Spend With Pennies, One Good Thing by Jillee, and Indestructables.

Monday Madness: Book Giveaway! Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back by Ray Buckley

Welcome to Monday Madness. The place to be for your chance to win this week. You can get entries into the giveaway by doing one or all of the following. The more you do, the more entries you receive!

1. Receive one entry for liking my Facebook post.

2. Receive one entry for sharing the Facebook post.

3. Receive one entry for commenting on my blog (Melissa’s Idea Garden)

4. Receive five entries for liking and leaving a comment on my new Facebook page Police News Blotter (three entries if you just leave a comment).

5. Receive five entries for liking and leaving a comment on my other new Facebook page Melissa’s Idea Garden. (three entries if you just leave a comment)

The contest is open until Thursday midnight, Eastern Time. On Friday, I will draw a name and I will mail (or hand deliver) the book to the winner.

This week’s give-away is for “Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back” by Ray Buckley. This is a Lenten Study for adults. It had been in my stack for a while and it floated to the top, so it was time to read it (Lent season or no). Ray Buckley is a professional Native American storyteller who uses his storytelling gift and his Christian beliefs to bring alive the Word. I found this study to be chock full of enlightenment, stories, and a reminder that God is always inviting us to dance – no matter what the circumstances are.

If you’d like to own this book for free, just follow the guidelines above for a chance! If you don’t win, you can always purchase the book for yourself.

You Version – A Useful App

I signed up for YouVersion a couple of years ago. In case you don’t know what that is, it is a wonderful website that you can go to on your computer or through an app on your phone so that you can link to a bible where ever you are, whenever you need to consult the word.

BibleThere are a variety of versions available, there is a search function and there are devotionals you can sign up for. The devotionals range in length from a few days to a year. You can set up reminders for yourself, you can follow friends on YouVersion and they can follow you if you want. I have enjoyed this app because it has reminds me to take time with God on those days that I let life get in the way.

A couple of months ago, I discovered something about YouVersion that I found really helpful. Maybe you already know. Maybe I am missing something in my app. But here’s what I discovered. I have done a variety of the studies offered – always on my phone. Most times there was only a bible verse. What I am really hoping for with these studies is some guidance, some external food for thought. So I wondered why these were called ‘studies’ when it was just a verse.

A couple of months ago, I signed into YouVersion from my computer. I am doing Day by Day with Billy Graham. On my computer, the whole process is much better for me! The verse of the day is highlighted, but the whole chapter is also there. And in a side scroll, there is the devotional from Billy Graham! I was missing that for the first 100+ days because it doesn’t show up on my phone! So, if you are like I, check it out on your computer. There really is more there for you to see!

Newton’s Laws of Motion Apply to Me

The Laws of Motion are defined as three laws of mechanics describing the motion of a body. The first law states that a body remains at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by a force. The second law states that a body’s rate of change of momentum is proportional to the force causing it. The third law states that when a force acts on a body due to another body, then an equal and opposite force acts simultaneously on that body.

When I learned this in school, I applied it in scientific ways, and it also was used when our driving instructor was telling us about the horrors of car accidents. I have come to realize that these laws apply to my person.

On days that I get up and walk and go about my many activities, I get so much accomplished. Once I sit down, usually my get and go gets up and leaves. If I start out my day watching a movie or television show…then I end up watching another and another and another. To combat this, I try to make most days ones of movement early on. Not only do I get more done, but when I do take a break, I don’t feel guilty about it.

couch potato

Survival: 390 Year Old Bonsai is an Ambassador of History

When I think of a plant that has lived for hundreds of years, I think of the Giant Sequoias in California – towering high overhead. This bonsai was potted 390 years ago and it currently resides at the U.S. National Arboretum.

It was a gift for our 200 year bicentennial – given by a family who had tended it for five generations. It was designed to be a symbol of peace and friendship – given a mere 30 years after the bombing of Hiroshima. This tree is a survivor – it was growing only two miles away from where the atomic bomb was dropped. The love and care of the Yamaki family and the protection of the nursery walls ensured its survival.The history this tree has seen…if only it could talk!

Photo courtesy of National Geographic.

390 year old Bonsai





TBT: Moving into the Dorm

Today, I was in Walmart, along with dozens of parents and their teenagers coming to school. School is back in session and we have a lot of colleges in the Lynchburg area: Central Virginia Community College,   Liberty University, Lynchburg College,  Miller-Motte College, National College, Randolph College, and Sweet Briar College.

So many hopeful and excited young adults embarking on a great adventure. I watched with nostalgia as parents picked up rugs, dorm fridges, pillows, hangers and more. I listened as one Dad recommended to his daughter that she try Marie Callender meals because they were ‘the bomb.’ I couldn’t help but smile.

The influx of students means a lot for Lynchburg. More traffic, longer lines in stores and longer waits at restaurants. It also means more money for our economy. These young folks and their parents helped keep us fairly stable during the last recession. They need jobs, but they also provide a need for jobs that are filled by the local folks They bring new ideas, excitement, cultural events, and laughter.

I realize that the same dynamics were in play when more than 4,000 students descended on the College of William and Mary back in the 1980s. We were a boon and an annoyance. At the time, I was only aware of being excited about learning, making new friends and becoming more independent. I had no clue that the local folks cared one way or another about our invasion.

I remember moving into my Freshman room – my parents and our pull along U-Haul in attendance. Negotiating with a person I barely knew about how our furniture would be placed in our 10′ x 10′ room. My mom and dad being proud, excited and sad. So many new experiences and friendships began that day – including with my roommate who I am still friends with today.

Move In DayMove In Day

Bunk BedsBunk Beds – do you know which is mine?

Doug and MelI may have liked unicorns…Doug was the R.A. for our brother dorm, Hunt.

Phone HomePhoning Home…way before cell phones!

Book Review: It Starts With Food by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig

Last spring my blood pressure was going up, I was 85 pounds overweight and I felt miserable. I decided I needed to do something drastic, but within parameters. I have tried a hundred other diet plans over the years only to end up frustrated and back where I started. I don’t like logging every bit of food I eat. I don’t like weighing everything. And I needed a plan with no wiggle room.

If you have fought with weight loss, you know what I mean. “Cool, I get 27 points a day…I will eat as many sweets as I can fit into that and then I will fill up with no points veggies.” This does not make for a healthy eating lifestyle! I had a friend who was following the Paleo lifestyle (please – not one caveman joke…I get enough of those from my husband). She had lost a lot of weight and had posted on Facebook about all of the energy she had and how good she felt. I reached out to her and asked for a book recommendation of where to start for recipes. She told me it is really pretty easy – no dairy, legumes, grains, sugar and eat the highest quality meats, veggies, and fruits that you can. Hey, a point in it’s favor – No wiggle room! She recommended a couple of great cookbooks like Well Fed and Well Fed 2. I also picked up Paleo for Beginners, Against the all Grain, and Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook (links below). And I found the Paleo Grubs website.

I got busy reading – it is truly a simple diet. There is no measuring, no counting, no logging and no wiggle room. I have lost 27 pounds since April and that is even though I have traveled quite a bit this summer and haven’t always been able to strictly follow the plan (couldn’t turn down Aunt Brenda’s cake or Cold Stone Creamery on my birthday now could I?) Anyway, I digress. My reading led me to It Starts with Food and in a way I wish I had started here.

In this book, I found out how different foods I eat affect my body and my body chemistry. Dallas and Melissa do a great job of breaking it down very simply so even a non-scientific minded person can understand and clearly see how our food choices affect us. And they reminded me that my food choices are my choices – no one is holding a gun to my head to make a certain choice. My choices can lead to a cascade of malfunctions that then encourage me to go on making poor choices – driven by out of balance body chemistry I make more wrong choices and the cycle continues.

Melissa and Dallas are all about giving you the information and then you doing the work – but the work is easy! They provide meal ideas and they have a website that you can go to for ongoing support. The Whole30 plan is kind of a detox plan and it may end up stretching to a Whole 45 or Whole 60 plan in individual cases. Once your body chemistry is under control – then you can reintroduce some things and determine what has a bad effect on you and what does not. This helps you to make future good choices – knowledge is power!

I highly recommend this book and the cookbooks below if you want to change your life for the better and get off of the yo-yo wagon! I plan to do the Whole30 plan beginning August 31st after my dad’s 70th birthday. In the meantime I will stick to the Paleo lifestyle as closely as possible but for the Whole30, it requires 30 days of no exceptions and I can’t say no to my family’s cooking!

Good luck and let me know how it goes for you!

Book Review: Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott

Just finished listening to Adrenaline. This is a book written for action junkies. Plenty of explosions, murder, and adventure. The main character is a very likeable guy who finds himself in a situation where he is being accused of treason by association. As he seeks to clear his name and find his missing wife and unborn child – he takes us on a trip from New York to Holland, London, Belgium, and Hungary. Fast-paced, well thought out and well written. There are twists that you don’t expect and it seems like time and again our guy can’t get a break. You’ll have to check out the book to find out how he does in the end.

Book Review: A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley

A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley by Neal Thompson.

I have been to a Ripley’s museum, but it was a long time ago. I remember seeing the comic in the paper when I was younger – don’t ever read a paper now. I really didn’t know anything about the man though and when I ran across this title, I decided I wanted to know more. Besides I love to read biographies!

I really knew nothing about him and this book covers it all – from his humble beginnings to his ingenuity to his love of sports which expanded to include a love of travel and of learning about interesting/strange phenomenon. He also had a love for all things Asian and when China became a Communist country, it broke his heart.


He was flamboyant, educated millions with the tidbits he discovered, and in his heyday was much looked up to – kids wanted to be a traveler like him. He met with Presidents and was commended for the knowledge he gained and shared. His comic strip and later radio show were beacons of light and hope during the Depression and two World Wars.

A fascinating man and a comprehensive biography.