It’s Been Awhile…

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It’s Been Awhile…

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is safe and well during this surreal time. It has been quite awhile since I have written or posted anything. My heart has been there, though my mind and time haven’t. I’m opening up and being honest. The last thing I want is for this post to be doom and gloom, as there is enough of that in the world going on right now. I’ve debated back and forth whether or not I should even post this. I’m not sure what even set anything off, but I had another emotional night tonight.

Let’s start off with a few positives! My birthday this past year, turned out to be a really nice and special day! (Besides turning another year older) Weddings will be all around this year and next year as I’m in my cousin’s wedding in July and both my brother and other cousin got engaged over Valentine’s weekend this year! My other cousin is graduating from Penn State! So there are many celebrations coming up in the near future!

Creating this blog about 4 years ago, was one thing that I’ve always been proud of! I often get upset with myself for not keeping up with it more. (It’s far from some of the top notch bloggers out there, I know, but it’s mine, and I still love it!) I’ve tried to keep the blog updated through quotes and short posts on Instagram over the last year, as sometimes, that is the easiest and fastest way to stay in touch. Life is always, and has always been busy. I love my job, but working close to 12 hours a day from start to finish all week long, sleeping about a total of 4 hours a night, trying to meet requirements and deadlines (which I’m still working towards), life and its surprises, ups & downs, and myself-being my biggest critic, I pretty much have been wearing myself out. I’ve felt exhausted and burnt out, mentally and physically. I started to sit and write the other night and then just stopped because I wasn’t sure how to express any of what I was feeling.

The last four months especially, have personally, been an emotional roller coaster for me. Now, we are all up in the air with our lives due to the coronavirus. Overall, if you know me, for the most part, I’m a very private person. Let me apologize if I have seemed off, more on edge, or some days just more quiet. I want to personally thank my family, work family, and friends that have been here during some very difficult months and days. Without faith, prayers, friends and family, I don’t know how I would have gotten through many of the days that I did. I’m not going to go into full detail other than as many of you already know, my dad has had some health issues that we found out about in November. There have also been some unexpected things along the way through all of it. For months, I have not been myself. Nothing really mattered other than getting my dad well again. These have been some of the hardest, most difficult and emotional days that I’ve ever experienced. Some days, there weren’t even words. It’s almost like I had no voice and couldn’t even talk. I’ve had times where I experienced straight up anger, shock, hurt, and tears (both happy and sad), many, many tears. I would try my hardest to be happy and tell myself, there are good things in life going on. Nothing mattered other than having my dad well and getting him home. No one will ever be doing a good enough job for that person you love. Believe me, my dad has had amazing and wonderful doctors along the way. There’s always those few times where no one is doing enough for your loved one at that time. I’ve never felt so helpless. All my family and I could do was pray, have faith, and be there. I try to wake up and live life normally, but many days, more so than not, I feel like I’m struggling with emotions and falling apart. I try really hard to be positive, strong, and repeat to myself, “It’s going to be okay. You are keeping it all together and are doing the best that you can.”

I am very close to my dad. I always have been. It’s a father/daughter bond that is unbreakable. I strive to make him proud daily. I try to live up to his work ethic. He has the biggest heart and would do anything for his family. He is strong, and a fighter. He’s my hero, even though sometimes (in my heart), I think I bring out the light in his eyes. When I started finding out about everything, I just remember years ago, him always saying how important time and health are. I’m getting older, and I want my dad to walk me down the aisle one day, I want him to meet his grandchild if I ever would become pregnant. Life is moving too fast! As important as these things are to me, there’s nothing more important currently, than having my dad here, home, and well. I can’t even imagine everything he’s gone through, and still is going through. I can’t really explain a lot of what I’ve felt daily for the last four months. I know a few weeks ago, it felt like I was completely alone in the entire world. My brain empty, not quite sure how I drove and got myself to the hospital, I just needed to get to my dad, see him, and be with him. Some days, I often wonder if life will ever be close to being what it was. I know that I can talk to the people that I’m close to. Some I know have been in similar situations and understand and make feel like I’m not crazy.

Growing up, I grew up in a traditional family home and family has always been everything. Still to this day, morals and traditions are still strong within me. Many days, I feel far from the norm of the world. We live in quite a different world today then when I was growing up. So much has changed, things I never thought could or would happen. I’ve always been an emotional person, even as a child. These last few months, it has really hit me hard how fast life can change. How it can test you. I’ve felt things I’ve never felt before…

I will say with all the craziness, social distancing, staying safe…Right now all we can do it take it day by day. Try to live as normal as possible. Do what you can, the best you can at the moment. I’m not sleeping much more or better, but I’m home longer to catch up on laundry, work on webinars for hours/credits, started seedlings which is therapeutic and rewarding (aka quick fix of calmness), and I’ve been trying to read for enjoyment.

This slow down makes everyone realize not to take anything for granted. Although normally, the hours and weeks are long, I miss my job. I miss my work family, I miss my students-their giggles, their stories, watching them grow day by day, their families…As silly as it may sound, I miss taking my time, strolling and taking my long walks through Target, haha…Tonight, I needed a break so I wrote…I feel guilty many days for feeling so down. I know life could always be worse. I keep telling myself that better days are ahead and I will be smiling and laughing a lot more. I’m trying to be positive and patient and let time work it’s magic.

As for now, stay safe and healthy and take care! I’d love to hear how you are all coping with staying in, so feel free to share how you are handling life these days!

XoXo,

Melissa

My Favorite Gingham Picks

My Favorite Gingham Picks

You can never go wrong with a black and white print.  I’m loving anything that is gingham print lately!  Whether you are going to a farmer’s market, having a picnic, or meeting up for brunch, this pattern is a perfect pick!

Here are some of my favorite gingham picks for spring.

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How do you feel about gingham?  What are some of your favorite gingham printed items?

Lemon Lavender Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Lavender Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

One of my favorite plants and scents would have to be lavender. Last year, my lavender bush tripled in size and I harvested a ton of lavender from it. I really enjoying cooking with lavender. It’s not a super common herb used in cooking, but I love the unique flavor that it can add to any recipe.

If you love the taste of lavender like myself, these cupcakes need to be put on your “To Do List” to make! They were delicious! Here is the recipe for Lemon Lavender Cupcakes. (It’s actually quite simple and easy to make!)

Lemon Lavender Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes approximately: 24 Cupcakes                                                        Time: 30-40 Minutes

  • 1 box of Pillsbury “Lemon” Cake Mix

  • 3 Eggs

  • 1 Cup of Water

  • ½ Cup of Vegetable Oil

  • Dried Lavender (1-2 tablespoons, depending on how strong you want the lavender flavor to be.)

  • Pillsbury Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Muffin Tin

  • Cupcake Liners

  • (Pre-made Cream Cheese Frosting) or substitute with your favorite frosting

  1. Set your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, line your muffin tin with cupcake liners.

  2. In a large bowl, add your lemon cake mix, eggs, water, and vegetable oil. Beat and mix well.

  3. Add your lavender and gently stir into the mixture.

  4. Pour batter into your cupcake liners until about half full in your muffin tin.

  5. Place in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 19-23 minutes.

  6. You will want to allow your cupcakes to cool for about 10-15 minutes so the icing will not melt on them.

  7. Finally, ice your cupcakes with cream cheese frosting or a frosting of your liking.

  8. Enjoy your Lemon Lavender Cupcakes!

Spring Must Haves

Spring Must Haves

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, but I’m pushing myself to get out of this slump! I’m here to share some brighter, happier, and prettier things to make your day a little less gloomy (since that has been a daily occurrence here in PA.)

This weather plays a major role in my personality and mood. I’m such a happier and more motivated person when the sun is shining! This cold, rainy, snowy weather needs to go away until next year!

On these dark grey days I’ve found some items that are bright, cheerful, and colorful. Turn that dull day around by wearing, using, smelling, or reading some of these items!

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Here are a few of my favorite items…

Spring Candles-If you can’t get outside yet, bring the spring smells indoors! I have picked some of my favorite scents from Bath and Body Works.

  • White Gardenia

  • Lavender Marshmallow

  • Fresh Cut Lilacs

These candles are normally $24.50. Buy them when they are running their 3 Wick Sale!

Rose Garden Acrylic Tumbler and Wine Glass-I love Pier 1! You can find these pretty glassware pieces there. You can take them outside and enjoy a nice cold beverage without worrying about breaking the glass because they are acrylic. The tumbler is $6.95 and the wine glass is $7.95. These are great sets to add to your Spring/Summer Outdoor Living selection.

Spring Read-Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Book. Although, I haven’t had time to begin reading this book, I was thrilled that it arrived at my door on the 1st day of Spring! The Floret website is one of my favorite sites to view on the web! I just love the entire site! Erin is living my dream, haha. Check out her website for pure flower enjoyment! https://www.floretflowers.com/

Sleepwear and Intimates-I love these grey floral sleep shorts! They are the perfect addition to my spring/summer sleepwear collection. The wireless bra and underwear also have a very springy vibe! All sleepwear and intimates are from Target.

Flower Farmer Tee-I believe flowers make the world a brighter and happier place. From growing seeds, planting flowers, watching them grow, floral prints, I love it all! If you purchase this tee off of the Magnolia Roots Co. website, it comes in both cream and blush and part of the proceeds go to the Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund.   The tee was made to raise awareness for the slow flower movement and to support local flower farmers.

Garden Shoes and Rain Boots-These shoes that I tried on made by Sloggers are surprisingly comfortable. The rain boots have such a pretty floral print and would be perfect for all of the snowy/rainy days that we have been having in PA. They are made by the brand Chooka and can be found at Nordstrom.  Both of these items are on my wish list!

What are some of your favorite Spring Must Haves? I would love for you to share!

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Valentine’s day is approaching us in less than a week… Whether you love or hate this holiday, I’ve shared some of my favorite items that will make anyone’s Valentine’s Day a little bit better!

Here are the items, prices, and websites listed below.

(All opinions are my own and have not been influenced by any additional outside sources.)

Bring Me Wine Socks-$8.00-www.charmingcharlie.com

Cup of Love Happy Mug-$17.00-www.naturallife.com

Frankie Ruffle Heel-$29.00-www.charmingcharlie.com

Let’s Fall in Love Heart Fleece Blanket-$79.00-www.kirklands.com

Let’s Fall in Love Heart Pillow-$29.99-www.kirklands.com

Morning Sexy Hand Stamped Vintage Spoon-$17.00-https://shopjessicandesigns.com/

Nothing but Love Pullover-$25.00-www.charmingcharlie.com

Pretty Velvet Bow Peep Toe-$29.99-www.charmingcharlie.com

So Loved Canvas Pouch-$15.00-www.naturallife.com

Sparkling Rose Gummies-$6.00-www.davidstea.com

Stud Muffin and Hot Stuff Mug, Set of 2-$14.99-www.kirklands.com

Sweet Tart Valentine’s Day Tea Tin-$19.00-www.davidstea.com

Pantagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover Review-A Case of the Blues…

Pantagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover Review-A Case of the Blues…

(All opinions are my own and have not been influenced by any additional outside sources.)

The cold weather and snow are still sticking around, so I’m sharing one of my recent favorite fleece pullovers to wear this winter. This was the first item that I have purchased from Pantagonia and I must say that I highly recommend it!

This pullover comes in many colors and is quite soft and retains warmth. I love that it’s not bulky and the front pocket is great for storing your keys, chapstick, or phone if you are out running errands. I prefer throwing on a fleece over wearing a jacket on any given day.

This light blue color can brighten up any gloomy gray, snowy day. Sometimes the cold weather has a way of bringing me down. I’ve paired my polish here to match my outfit. The nail color that I’m wearing is by Sally Hansen-Miracle Gel-649-Flash-ionista!

What warm weather outerwear do you recommend to stay warm on these cold days?

Phipps Conservatory

Phipps Conservatory

Pittsburgh, PA

(All opinions are my own and have not been influenced by any additional outside sources.)

December was a bit of a blur, January hit me hard and did not start out as planned, so I apologize for the lack of posts the past two months. Early on in the month, since I ran out of free days in December, I made plans with my mom to visit Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA.

Although I’ve been to Phipps a few times before, it’s a new experience each time as their exhibits change. Currently, snow is on the ground…I love looking at beautiful green exotic plants and colorful flowers on any given day, but when the weather is gray, gloomy, and snowy, the pop of color makes things feel positive and better in my world! I could honestly spend hours here a day looking at and taking in all of the varieties and beauty of these plants and flowers.

One of my favorite areas to visit is the room with the orchids! They are stunning! Delicate flowers with sharp designs and colors with extraordinary shapes. They showcase such elegance. Another eye catcher while walking through the gardens are the blown glass pieces that are displayed throughout the plants and flowers.

The desert and tropical plants make you feel like you are on vacation somewhere else far away from the city. The size of these plants along with their shapes or spikes show off such character. Warm, humid air hits you as you walk along the palms and banana trees while they tower over you.

I went while the Christmas decorations were still up. Phipps is also a wonderful place to visit during the spring and summer as well. Instead of Christmas lights and décor, you may walk outside through the Japanese garden. Last year they also had plant sales which I am looking forward to attending this year, since I did not make it to any last year.

After a peaceful day, my mom and I enjoyed sitting down in their cafe/restaurant and I sipped on an Americano while she enjoyed a cold pineapple seltzer drink. Make sure while you are there, you stroll through the gift shop near the entrance. I wanted to buy every gardening book that was on their shelves and the small section of jewelry was gorgeous and would make great gifts for others or yourself!

Here are a few of the many pictures that I took while visiting. What are some of your favorite botanical gardens to visit?

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Gift Ideas for Gardeners

Gift Ideas for Gardeners

Christmas is only a few days away! This month has flown by faster than the rest this year. Cold weather and snow have arrived. I’m a not a fan of the cold weather, so I’m already looking ahead to warmer months and greener things! I have found some fun and fabulous gift ideas for those that love to garden!

These gifts can be found at: www.gardeners.com. These ideas and opinions are my own. What gardening gift ideas do you recommend?

butterfly biome 24.99

Butterfly Biome-$24.99

cascadino stack or hang self watering herb planter

Cascadino Stack or Hang Self Watering Herb Planter-$24.99

classic mini magnet succulent gardens set of 34.95

Classic Mini Magnetic Mini Succulent Garden Set of 3-$34.99

daisy stepping stone 9,95

Daisy Stepping Stone-$9.99

dirty little digger 24.95

Dirty Little Digger-$24.99

mini copper succulents set of 3 29.95

Mini Copper Succulent Set of 3-$29.95

mosaic solar light drops set of 34.99

Mosaic Solar Light Drops Set of 3-$34.99

surreal woodlandsbirch horizontal planter 11 inch 17.95

Surreal Woodlands Birch Horizontal Planter-$17.95

teardrop tabletop terrarium 31.89

Teardrop Tabletop Terrarium-$34.99

December Bucket List

December Bucket List

Where has this year gone? It’s the last month of the year and I’ve come up with a few ideas of what I want to do this month. It’s such a crazy month, I probably have forgotten to write down everything.

What do you have planned for your bucket list this December?

dec bucket list