• as close as it comes, for now

    as close as it comes, for now

    chasing, feeling. that FEELING. 

    mental movie on instant replay - staring into alien worlds within crystal clear cenotes. hearing nothing, but breathing. pounding pulses.


    live for moments in life. where I realize, this. this. Recognize truth behind masks we put on and wipe off. roles we assume. lies we tell ourself. mistakes we make. The people we let down and the people we never meet. You ask what really matters. you know. You've always known. And you hope that you always will. it thrills you. to feel more. know less, love deeper.  soften.

    you do things for yourself. stay up too late. drink too much coffee, wine. papers stack up and ideas pile smile. you let it go. you leave the light on. you let it build. let it last. settle in. You get to know it again and you let it go again.  

    each question, you move onward


  • there are many things I do not know

    Sometimes you don't know what you don't know, until you don't know something new.

    Perspective, time, travelling. heartache. love...

    I'm learning to take advantage of today, because it's so true.

    Someday never comes, but it can definitely pass you by.


  • and this is when its like, damn

    and this is when its like, damn

    The last day of August; on a Monday.

    Forcing my words like my posture.


    Hot summer days and mud caked toes at midnight.

    Fighting for nothing. over everything. losing sleep.

    Not really sure wtf I'm posting about because I don't have a lot to say. But my summer has been intense, for sure. Hired the wrong sub contractor again, to use the wrong material, in the wrong place, the wrong way. Trusted a reccomendation from a 'friend' to a fault and struggled each day just to be heard. I'm up on the steep end of the huge remodel learning curve.

    Finally realizing that calm is in quiet and the storm can be seized. Do my due diligence, trust my intuition, and communicate every last detail of what is expected and what can be acheived.

    I'm elbows deep in decisions lately and some take longer to wade through.


  • Lightning strikes maybe once, maybe twice.

    Lightning strikes maybe once, maybe twice.

    Working with new contractors on #MelsOldHouse is always a nervewracking experience for me given the rough start we had last fall. It's especially frustrating when they are in their busy season and want to rush through the job I'm spending our hard earned money on. Not to meantion (but I will), we have to live with looking at for the next 30 years.

    But luckily, what I've learned over the past 9 months of this remodel process is that I'm the boss. And it doesn't matter if they are annoyed and tell me its square when its obviously not. They're unaware that I know how to properly use tape measure and live by the lesson of measure twice - cut once. 

    There is no "command+z" IRL. Ya digg?


  • Bare Bones

    Bare Bones

    This week has pretty intense for the remodel. We basically "skinned" the entire yard, removing the old hot tub, contrete, sprinklers, lighting, and general debris and garbage.

    I'm always stunned to see how quickly some heavy machinery can change a landscape. We went from a garbagejunglemoshpit to an (almost) beautiful blank canvas.

    I love Yard. 

    -Mel Jo

  • collecting collections

    collecting collections

    I'm realizing that the older I get, the slower I go. And I love it. 

    People sometimes feel like they have to fully "finish" their house in order to enjoy it, but I disagree.

    I'm enjoying the process of collecting memories and curating our home with collections from trips abroad and memories I've made with the people I love and at from hard work at home with my own hands. The only items in my house that I regret are the things that I bought in haste, because I wanted something new, or had a "this will do for now" attitude.

    Now that I've slowed down I love looking around and seeing the things I have searched for, saved up for, lusted for, bargained for, and earned around the house. But this takes time, effort, passion, and mucho patience. 

    This jar has about half of what I took home from our trip to Seoul, South Korea over my 30th birthday. That spoon has been worn down after seasons of scraping and serving. It's had an honorable life and I want to appreciate that utensil and the memory I made finding it by displaying it inside my home. 

    -Mel Jo-

  • And then, it hits you.

    Sometimes it's hard to adjust to life's unexpected changes and curveballs. But once you really learn to let go of what you thought you wanted you find something new you didn't even imagine before.

    And I think that is Cabanas La Luna.

    I was originally hoping for the wedding to take place in a rustic setting like Moab or destination like Hawaii. But with my dad unable to fly that far, and me changing my mind about the whole Utah wedding thing, I finally found what I had been looking for yesterday on the interwebs.

    I've been organizing my digital world and I came across this video from our trip to India last year. It reminds me so much of Cabanas La Luna that I immediately feel like I have no reservations about booking it for our wedding next year. Going to be SO DOPE.

    Plus, additional guests can stay at Cabanas Tulum next door or The Beach Tulum any of the other awesome boutique hotels in Tulum. And that I also means I get to visit the cenotes again. (To be honest that could have been my main motivation to choose Tulum) but whatevs, it's amazing.


  • small lake city

    I've been travelling so much this year that sometimes it feels like a real downer to come home. Not that I don't love and appreciate Salt Lake, but it just feels so small and gloomy in the winter. 

    But then climate change happens and it feels like May in March and then all of a sudden shits not so bad. Sometimes you just need a shift of perspective. So I sat in front of my huge picture window and got to work, quickly realizing my own house is like the best private coffee shop in the city. Look at my view. and I haven't even started working in the yard yet.

    It feels like home. My home. With my kitties and my badass bff.

    And then this came across my screen today:

    Click the image for the link to the full article. Last week I saw Salt Lake was in the top 10 most walkable cities in the country. I feel like there is a shift happening here, and I'm happy to contribute my tiny little part to the revival of SLC.


  • this is me, then

    this is me, then

    In my neverending search to procrastinate progressing on the house...  I am trying to organize the mounting digital mass of photos I've started accumulating through my travel adventures. 

    Sometimes people I travel with think I take too many pictures - and sometimes I agree. But then there are those times you are so stoked to see the acccidental go pro selfie from the ranger station on Coiba Island from your trip to Panama. I didn't take any pictures of the lodgings and I totally regretted it until I found this gem.

    This couple days were the roughest and toughest I have ever been. No electricity, no TP. Cockroaches at 3 A.M. in the bathroom and bedroom we shared with 3 commercial fishermen from Alaska overnight while on a scuba trip. And to my surprise, it was one of the top highlights of that trip.

    I guess the good stuff is worth waiting for and the hard stuff is what changes you. Up next is real estate school. I've never been a fan of online learning, but I'm ready to give it a whirl and head into class if I have to. 

    -Mel Jo-

  • Those days

    Those days

    I love those days. Those days the sun shines. Those days that things feel right.

    There is love in the world, there is light in my life. I feel like I live in a Disney movie and I have a full head of thick luxurious hair and a power to freeze things and sing while simultaneously swimming under crystal clear water in underground caves. Oh wait, that is Little Mermaid, and Frozen. I finally watched the latter and loved it. Love how the main love story is actually between two sisters and the main message is to give love enough time to get a good foothold before you move too quickly. Little different than the movies I group up with WHERE ALL OF HER SISTERS LIKE HATED HER AND SHE WANTED TO RUN AWAY WITH A STRANGER. Go Disney!

    Just returned home from a week in Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, Mexico after making new friends - catching up with old ones, and seeing out of this world sights like cenotes, bull sharks, and full moons past midnight on the beach without a soul in sight. I think I can ride high from this for a while. 

    Travel does something to your perspective. And I guess so does scuba diving. It's defintitely one of the best things I've ever done for myself. A whole new way to see the world and appreciate all your senses differently while making new buddies. One of those new buddies is Stephanie. I'm basically mad girl crushing on her and her blog right now.







    But alas, back to the real world, back on land. Back to #MelsOldHouse and I've actually never been happier to start working in the garden. Staring from scratch. Yard is going to be a massive undertaking this year. I'm a litte nervous, and a little stressed, but that's when I excel. 



  • Small Lake City

    Small Lake City

    I went to meet with a new cabinet maker yesterday in the industrial part of Salt Lake City. He suggested we walk across the parking lot to meet Joe. And have him make us a Cup of Joe. Quite a fancy machine. I can't really explain how it works but its yum.

    And a cute building to boot.

    I came home and kept stripping. It's a labor of love.


  • The List

    The List

    I was down in Panama for a friend's wedding last week when I randomly had wifi and reluctantly checked my email. Newsflash: Angie's List wants to do a photo heavy feature on #MelsOldHouse. Cool. Now fast forward a couple weeks and it will be published tomorrow.

    I don't post on the old bloggy very often because, in a way, the perfectionist in me hates to show people and unfinished room with painters tape holding up dropcloth window coverings and handles missing from cupboards. I'm not a trained photographer or writer, so posting pics of my process makes me anxious. No one I know likes to put their work out to the world for dissection.

    But I think the design world could use a little more imperfection as opposed to the Pinterest Princesses looking perfectly quaffed, makeuped and manicured as they post their craft project pins and inspire envy the world over. So when I responded to Angie's List via email, I enthusiastically said, 'YES! I will tell you all about my project and all my mistakes...There have been quite a few.'

    Coming home from a two week stint in Panama and staring down 12 months or so left in the remodel process was starting to look like a nightmarishly daunting task. But it has to be done, so it's time for a re-frame. Time to lower the perfectionist bar in my head and hit the ground running, albeit slowly. I'm really after more of a jog. Thought out material purchases, lighting schemes, landscape plans and demo days lie ahed. And I'm so thankful for each opportunity to show my enthusiasm for restoring old homes and then decorating them to high heaven. I can't wait to see where the next path will open up and lead.

    -Melissa Jo-

  • social


    As I find myself more interested in news, politics, and finances more than I ever have, I love seeing how social media plays into each situation. One of my fave ways to see social reactions throughout the globe is through a new-ish app called Frontback. Creative and passionate community members make me feel a little more connected in a really confusing world.

    In other news, I made this delicious sandwhich today while studying for my scuba diving class this weekend. Trying to get back in bikini shape before my Panama trip!!


  • Plastic


    I'm the kind of person who reads and listens to music at the same time. I wonder if this book will explain why I like doing that. So far it's fascinating.

    Basically, I'm not experiencing a case of the Mondays. Coming home from a week long stint in New Orleans could not feel better. I might have a slight head cold and my favorite wool coat to clean ketchup off of, but that's alright. I have pickles in my fridge and photos to post.

    I found some incredible inspiration for decor - but it was all attached to the buildings - and unfortunately not for sale.

    The search continues on for a vanity mirror, pronto!

    A very flat brass double hook underneath the bar. Never put your purse on the floor. Eww.

    That same bar on Bourbon Street has almost exactly what I'm planning in my kitchen. Check out the authentic patina on the wooden panel...

    L O V E

    Shutters are not just cheap panels installed for decoration in New Orleans. If I do shutters, I'm making them swing, baby.

    ^  -- E V E R Y T H I N G--  ^

    Love the repetition of jars (except the colorful ones), hated the NEWness of them.

    Also, everybody get on Frontback already.

    -Melissa Jo-

  • Let's get real real.

    Let's get real real.

    Let's get real. It's hard for me to post here. I love my life, I love doing what I get to do each day.

    Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a dream.

    But I'm so busy enjoying the process that I don't get around to post here as much as I'd like to. So I'm going to give up on perfection and go for progress. Practice what I preach. Post about whatever I feel like.... and right now it's showing drunken photos from JG's Prohibition Christmas Party. You can see the brunette beauty behind Melai Rags to my left. 

    I wish Mdreezy was still wearing his hat - but it was LATE in the evening...

    -Melissa Jo-

  • Oh, Cuba.

    I went to Youtube to find a video of President Obama talking about Cuba today. And got distracted by this romantic video from one of my favorite YouTubers, Casey Neistat.

    But back to the important shit.

    Today was a pretty epic day for me to randomly turn on the news but I'm so glad I did. I pretty much never watch the news because it's always so depressing. But maybe I will try watching more than HGTV and DIY Network every once in a while because I got to enjoy watching this unfold live today on Bloomberg.


    "Change is hard, In our own lives and in the lives of nations. And change is even harder when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders. But today we are making these changes because it is the right thing to do. Today America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past chooses, to reach for a better future for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere, and for the world. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless The United States of America." 

    Way to shut it down, Obama.

    -Melissa Jo-



    It's kind of been a whirlwind ride so far. I'm really looking forward to coasting through next week and fixing all of these flaws with my new contractor. Before I hired him, I went to see a home he remodeled in Sugarhouse and was blown away with the craftsmanship and attention to detail. 

    It's one of my favorite houses in the neighborhood, and it was a real surpirse to be able to tour through it. Then I came home to my house.

    Take a look at the mess on my hands.

    -Melissa Jo-

  • And so it goes.

    And so it goes.

    And so it goes... piece by piece. With masking tape guiding my way and going with my gut.

    I finally fired my contractor last week. And I haven't slowed down since.

    After cleansing myself of the bad craftsman I hired, I forged forward and ordered quality hardware from Whitechapel LTD to replace my awesome DIY painters tape placeholders I've had for 2 months.. its about time, they keep on ripping lately which is not so fun while doing the wannabe Ina Garten thing.

    I looked for hardware online and IRL for at least 3 months on and off. And what I've learned is sometimes it takes hard work to find the one you love. It's a complicated situation to have 4 distinct areas to coordinate but not be too matchy with several different finishes, paint colors, tile, and flooring. It's all about the details, baby.

    On the south side of the kitchen wall I have dark grey cabinets and on the opposite wall in the kitchen I have stark white modern appliances from Ikea and custom white cabinets.

    I have a long way to go in the Kitchen but I've decided to take my time and really think about how I want to use the space. Living in it and letting it settle before I finish some final touches has also allowed the ceiling to settle and the crack to widen before I patch it. (Tutorial on that to come). I've also discovered several happy accidents like electrical outlets behind my cabinets which I can turn into awesome pullout accessory storge. 

    Breakfast nook / Mel's Office:

    Main floor bathroom:

    But the major change will come when I can actually open my dishwasher without chipping my gel manicure ... handles, man. SO ESSENTIAL.

    So here's a preview of my shopping cart plus or minus quite a few exchanges and surprises towards the bottom of the list it took me days to decide and hit ORDER but I finally did and it's going to be SO BADASS.

    5-10 days and counting.

    -Melissa Jo-