how to plant a garden.

audrey hepburn quotes

(Note: this article originally appeared in the July 11th edition of the LaFollette Press, in my Letters from the Nest lifestyles editorial. I highly doubt you will learn how to plant a garden from this piece, but you will know that there is hope for fellow house plant killers. )

Confession for your Monday: I have never, in my life, been able to successfully keep a plant alive. Why, you ask? I mean, all you have to do is water it. It is in a controlled flower pot environment, there should really be no reason why someone could not sustain life to such a simple seedling. But if thriving gardeners have what they call a “green thumb”, then my thumb is black, with a little fungus around the nailbed.

green tomatoes

It all started in college, when I had a large floor plant gifted to me after the death of a relative. It was a situation in which the family had so many plants and flower arrangements at the funeral home that they were handing them out left and right. And then the crowd parted and there I was, the girl who lived in an 8×8 room with her best friend and her twin bed was hoisted up on cinder blocks to make way for storage. She would be the perfect plant companion, they concluded.

I found the perfect spot for this peace lily, right next to the front door of the dorm room suite surrounded by movie posters heavily taped to the gray cinder block walls. It had a tiny ornamental bird that was carefully hidden amongst the lush, shiny leaves. I felt I had performed a civic duty by bringing a plant into a dorm room, thus naturally cleaning the stale air of Doritos and late night study groups and arguments over card games.
Only problem was, I couldn’t keep it alive. The soil looked dry so I would take my last swig of bottled water and dump it on as I was heading to my 8am class. The soil seemed too wet so I would put the plant under some harsh artificial lighting. Next thing I knew, there were a few branches left where the leaves used to be, and my roommates filmed a documentary about this plant and the bird it left behind. (No kidding. They filmed my dead plant. If I can run across that tape I’ll show it to you sometime.)

So, when we decided to plant a garden for the first time ever this summer, my mind went back to the time in my cubicle at work when a few co-workers felt it necessary to intervene with the four plants I had on my desk. One would take care of them if I were on vacation, and the other just took them over completely, bringing a large gallon jug of Miracle Gro and bringing life back into the greenery. I needed serious help.

But despite the fact that if it were a criminal offense for killing off plant life, I would be spending life in prison without parole, I still really wanted a garden on our farm. A place we could tend and grow and see tangible results. So I decided to do things right this time and follow the advice of those who have gone before me. A fellow farmer came to till our land. We kept our plants indoors at first, watering them every other day until after May 1st. We carefully measured between each tomato plant with precision, making sure to give them adequate space in case this whole gardening thing actually worked.

tractor tilling a garden

tilling a garden

dad planting a garden with kids

For the first time in my life, I planted something that didn’t die. We collected a bounty of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions this summer, with baskets so heavy I could barely lift them. As a small family business, we even set up to sell our spoil at the local farmers’ market, making new friends and selling things that grew in our yard, all at the same time. The peppers surprised us toward the end, growing leaps and bounds overnight. But that could be because I dusted crushed egg shells around the plant base. You can learn so much from Home Depot. Calcium, people.

cucumbers and tomatoes

Audrey Hepburn once noted that “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” and she could not be more correct. Because tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and the weeks to follow, pickles and fried green tomatoes are on the menu.

kids in the garden

Ten Ways Our Marriage is Old Fashioned

ten ways our marriage is old fashioned

Today is our tenth wedding anniversary!! That’s right: TEN YEARS PEOPLE. In honor of ten years, I am sharing over at the Knoxville Moms Blog about ten ways our marriage is old fashioned. Do you and your spouse still follow some of these ideals? Click (here) to read the post and let’s share!

Small Town Gal September: Melissa’s Story


Today’s Small Town Gal story is one that is really difficult for me to read and share, but it is a story that you really need to take in, absorb, and give to others. Daniel Podstawka was in our lives for a very short time, but made such a lasting, profound impact on who we have become as believers in Christ. There is not a week that goes by that Brandon and I do not bring up Daniel in some form of conversation. If you were blessed to know him, you know exactly what I mean. Today, Melissa shares with you her heart, what it was like to be a widow at such a young age and how God restores our lives and families:


My name is Melissa Rutherford. I am a wife and a mother of three. We are your typical happy family. I have had a lot of trials to get to this point but the one I’m about to share is a life changing trial that I still carry.

When I was twenty years old I traveled with my church to Poland on a mission trip. I never imagined I would meet my future husband, Daniel. There he was, pouring drinks for children at VBS and I just knew. I knew we would be together. Somehow, everyone knew. We invited him to visit Tennessee and within a month of our return, he arrived.



It was truly a whirlwind romance. We had grown so close in a short amount of time. We knew we didn’t want to be apart. We were married 4 months after we met. The day was gorgeous. Middle of December and 70 degree weather..that never happens!! God definitely blessed our day.

A month or so after the wedding we decided to move to Poland. It was definitely hard for me. I couldn’t speak that language and I didn’t really know anyone. I basically just had him. Our bond grew tremendously over the six months we were there. He was my rock.

A couple weeks before we moved back to Tennessee we found out we were expecting our first child. We were over the moon. Of course we had hardships like everyone else. We also had some that other people typically don’t face. Life was still good and God provided for our little family. When Ethan was 13 months we found out we were expecting another little one. We were thrilled. When welcomed another little boy, Armin, in March of 2010. Yet again life was good! God had blessed our family.




Four months later, everything changed.

I was asleep when I kissed him bye and told him to be careful. I drifted back off. I woke up to a phone call
from my dad. I half heard everything he said except, “Daniel’s been in an accident. I’m on my way home.”

I instantly grew sick in the pit of my stomach. I kept calling his phone; straight to voicemail. I paced the floors until my parents arrived. My dad got a phone call from a friend at the scene. When he came back, he didn’t have to say a word, I already knew.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. I burst into tears and began punching him over and over in the stomach and chest, screaming, “No, No, No.” I couldn’t believe it, It was like my air supply was being cut off. I had to go to the local hospital to see him before he was transported to the funeral home. I went into a small room, still in shock, and there he was. So peaceful. I still couldn’t believe it though and kept thinking he’s going to jump up and say Gotcha! any minute.

But, he didn’t. He just laid there lifeless, in front of me.

It was then that my world completely shattered. My other half was gone.

I would never kiss him, talk to him, or see him again. Our children, our 2 year old and 4 month old, would
never know their dad. He would never see them grow up. In a blink of an eye, it was all gone.

At first, I gave it all to the Lord. I knew I couldn’t get through it on my own. Then I grew angry. I just couldn’t understand why this happened to us. I moved out of the house we were renting. I sold the car we bought together. I felt like I needed to escape. I ran from God. I was so angry that I quit singing in the praise band, cut myself off from friends, quit going to church. My personal relationship with God was not what it once was.
I was grieving for not only myself but my children. I didn’t know how to handle it.

I ran from God but He never stopped loving me.Even in my darkest hour He never left my side. He loved me so much that He drew me back to Him. He began healing my heart.

Over time, He allowed me to connect with a co-worker, Learon. We developed a friendship that turned into a relationship. I never thought I would be able to love again. We dated for a while and decided to get married. God is so good that after 13 months of marriage He blessed us with our daughter, Ava.


I am so grateful for the time I was given with Daniel. Although, it was short, we made the most of it. He was an amazing man and his faith and strength have inspired me. I miss him every single day. EVERY single day.

I will carry him with me always. He will always be a piece of me and I will love him until the day I die. I am also grateful for God’s provision. He has allowed me to love again. I have a wonderful husband that loves not only me but loves the boys.

He is understanding when it comes to Daniel’s memory. God provides.

Although, I still have a long road ahead, I have chosen to rely on the Lord. Daniel would have wanted us to live life to the fullest, not give up, and keep praising the Lord. That is what I’m going to do.

There is a wonderful song by Casting Crowns and the chorus states:

And I’ll praise You in this storm

And I will lift my hands

For You are who You are

No matter where I am

And every tear I’ve cried

You hold in Your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm

Even in our darkest storm, we have to remember to praise Him. He can bring beauty through it all.


(To read the rest of the stories in our Small Town Gal September series, click (here) ).

five consignment sales in the knoxville area

five consignment sales in the knoxville area

Hey friends! Who doesn’t LOVE some consignment sales, am I right? So, this week on Five Things for your Tuesday, we are bringing you five consignment sales in the Knoxville area. I remember the first time my dear friend Misty pulled me into the sea of yellow and black known as Duck Duck Goose. I thought I was going to have a panic attack, right there on the old KMart linoleum. Never fear, I dusted the footprints off my back from the hordes of mother-shoppers and found a dress for Eden and few cloth diapers and my dignity.

Gosh. It seems like so long ago that I used those things. Moving on…

So, today I wanted to share with you FIVE consignment sales coming up in the Knoxville area, PLUS one that is happening in October RIGHT in my hometown of Campbell County. Would I ever lead you astray? Let’s do this:



The sale: Statemint, an upscale women’s consignment event.

When: September 18-20th

Location: Jubilee Center, located on Callahan Drive

I am telling you, if consignment events are classy, this one tops the list. Statemint began this spring by Knoxville photographer, Sarah McAffry, and she is simply spectacular. You will love her AND the clothing selection at Statemint. Follow Statemint on facebook (here) to keep up with all the happenings!




The sale: WannaB, a LOCAL (in the Jacksboro area!) children’s clothing consignment event.

When: October 14-18

Location: Imagine Dance Studio, Jacksboro TN.

WannaB Sale is in their third year, so you really do not want to miss out on the clothing, toys and shoes that will be there! If you are local, you are saving gas money, time, and sanity by simply supporting local small businesses and shopping here!! This sale is hosted by two fabulous friends of mine, Amy and Kim, who have children of their own and know the value in purchasing secondhand.

Be sure to follow WannaB on facebook (here) or check out the website (here) for more info on how you can consign at their event. Tell ‘em Letters from the Nest sent ya!




The sale: Duck Duck Goose

When: October 1st-4th 2014

Location: The Knoxville Expo Center, Merchants Drive


Duck Duck Goose has come a long way from those old KMart building days. It is a mega event, kind of like a Black Friday for moms who get a small high from a good kid clothing deal. The lines and the crowds totally freak me out, but most people I know make Duck Duck Goose a yearly event and have found some amazing deals there, from clothes to toys, baby gear, bedding, and even homeschool books. You can find more info on their website (here) or on facebook (here)




So, have you ever heard of a tagging service for consignment? Little Red Hen does just that–takes care of the work FOR you. How cool is that? Little Red Hen will register you for the sale of your choice, iron, hang, tag, pin AND price your items.  All hangers, tagging supplies, and those little barcode things are provided by Little Red Hen.  Plus, your items will be delivered to the sale by Little Red Hen and merchandised throughout the store. Seriously? Seriously. And they are partnering with Knoxville Moms Blog (of which I am a contributor!) to give away FIVE free early-bird shopping passes to Duck Duck Goose. Enter that giveaway (here).


The next two are events that have already hosted their sales for the year, but wanted to highlight them nonetheless:


jack and jules



The sale: Jack and Jules

When: July 24-26, 2014

Location: The Knoxville Expo Center


Jack and Jules has already hosted their event for the season, but wanted to highlight them so you can keep your eyes peeled for next year’s event! You can follow them on facebook (here) or their website (here).




The sale: Picky Chick Consignment

When: August 28-30th 2014

Where: The Knoxville Expo Center


Again, the Picky Chick has already made its rounds this year, but follow them on facebook (here) or their website (here) for info on upcoming sales!


Hope you enjoyed this week’s Five Things for Your Tuesday. Want to read past editions? Check out my Five Things pinterest board (here).