Wednesday, November 18, 2015


If I didn't believe in the power of food before, I certainly do now...

A few months ago when I was still struggling with mono and catching every virus I crossed paths with, a very smart friend said to me, "Hashimotos." I said "bless you!" and then "what does that even mean?" and then went to my naturopath to test my thyroid antibodies, among other things.

Then I waited. Even though my blood work showed that my mono was inactive, I was still exhausted. Like, I-don't-know-how-to-be-a-mother-through-this-exhaustion (not to mention mood swings, blood sugar crashes, holding onto extra weight and infertility). Which causes a lot of tension when you're parenting a threenager.

I do have Hashimotos, an auto-immune disease that causes varying degrees of hypothyroid symptoms. And, good news, it's very treatable and can be reversed. And I have a Vitamin D deficiency and low iron. And that's it. And all the things I've been struggling with have an end in sight. All very good news to me. Here's the part that's not:

Diet and exercise are part of my treatment. I've been told to avoid gluten and dairy. Anyone who's tried this knows how very, very difficult this can be. One time when I was avoiding gluten a couple years ago some friends shared a pizza in front of me and I cried. Literally cried gluten-less tears of isolation and hunger.

Now I just have to find a palatable way to replace everything I eat now with a gluten-free option (yeah, yeah and dairy-free). So far, I've survived two Thanksgiving luncheons. I began this post with the word "anwers." I'll end it with the word "hope."

I have hope that things will be better in the near future. And, regardless, I'm grateful for all the blessings in my life (especially right now since my doctor has me pumped full of vitamin D!). This is the best time in history to be gluten free with all of the options for food I have. Instead of dwelling on the things that are (hopefully temporarily) off-limits to me, I will choose to be grateful. This will be a much-needed season of discipline in my life.

All this to say, if you see me out and about and I have a donut in my hand, smack it out! No, seriously, I love all of the advice I've already gotten. Please keep sending it to me!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Power of Food

I was a picky eater.

Growing up, I didn't eat vegetables — save for the occasional green bean, some corn, baked beans and pickles??? (do any of these even count!?)

You might be wondering what I ate. Let me tell you: chicken, hamburgers, grilled cheese and lots of boxed, processed foods, like macaroni & cheese and hamburger helper. And that was IT.

Sometimes when I'm tempted to point the finger of blame, I look at Nora in her stubborn toddler state and realize my parents did the best they could with what they had — especially if I was half as stubborn as she is.

Learning to cook real food has been quite the process for me. I still remember, as an adult mind you, the moment I realized that even macaroni and cheese could be made from raw materials and not just from a box.

It was in college that my dietary choices caught up with me. I was diagnosed with and suffered from IBS. It was debilitating at times. I experienced a lot of pain and a lot of tears during what should have been the best years of my life. I visited a gastroenterologist to work through it, but I don't ever remember him telling me to put the Pop-tarts down and pick up some spinach.

Flash forward to after college — to my wedding. My digestive tract was flared again. It was messed up enough that I wanted to plan my wedding around the times that I knew my body would give me fits. It would have been preferable for me to skip eating altogether (which I essentially did).

Guys, our food choices matter.

Now, there's nothing more satisfying than making real, nutritious food from scratch for myself and my family. When I watch Nora devouring Brussels sprouts (soon to be straight out of my garden) a baby tear of pride rolls down my cheeks.

Getting married and becoming a mom have given me the drive to cultivate my culinary appetite. I show love through the food I serve. It's my heart on a platter. Nora will not suffer the way I did. I want better for her.

Knowledge is power. 

What can you do? Watch food documentaries. Buy a cookbook that emphasizes real food. Start a garden — no matter how small. Learn to cook a couple of healthy meals from scratch. Replace 1-2 processed foods/snacks/ingredients in your home with real food (homemade potato chips, homemade chicken broth). If you have kids, find a vegetable that you can prepare in a way that they will like it. It's possible, I promise.

As for me, I plan to continue to cultivate my passion for food production and the culinary arts. Sometimes, when you have a God-sized dream, you just need at least one person to come alongside you and tell you you're not crazy. I have been fortunate enough to find encouragement to chase the things that matter most to me.

The Melvilles have a lot of exciting prospects on the horizon in the coming months and years — God-willing. I am not ready to disclose it all here yet since best laid plans and all.... I promise I will bring you all on board when the time is right!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Family Photo Shoot

Finally! We finally carved out time to do a quick, mini-session with our good friends, The Abrahams Photography.

Here are our favorites:

Here are the outtakes, which, let's face it, are usually the best part (and unavoidable when your 2-year-old decides not to nap before the photo shoot):

Monday, October 19, 2015

Winter Survival Guide

About this time every year, the sadness creeps in when I remember that winter lies in wait.

But NOT this year!

This year I'm being proactive:

Vitamin D. I can't recommend it enough. Most women my age are deficient in it. I take it and joy wells up inside my once empty heart :-)

Exercise. I must keep running like my life depends on it. It gives me the good feelies.

The winter garden. This year I have planted kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, spinach and arugula. I need reasons to go outside and to stay active. I also LOVE cooking in the winter, and, in general, I love cooking unprocessed, homegrown food. The winter garden made perfect sense. Just like with my summer garden, I'm learning through trial and error.

What are your winter survival tricks? And I'm trying to kick retail therapy, so don't suggest that! ;-)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

You're still the one

(Photo credit: The Abrahams Photography)

Time really does fly! Happy 5th wedding anniversary, my love!

Every day you tell me you love me and you tell me I'm a great wifey — even when I don't deserve it. What a picture of the gospel. I don't deserve your precious, unconditional love but I'm so grateful for it. I'm grateful you pursued me relentlessly and didn't take no for an answer. I will spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to you.

We've been through a lot in the past 5 years and we know each other and love each other better as a result. We have a lot to show for our journey together — a home and a daughter, just to name a couple of our incalculable blessings! Thank you for loving me as Christ loves the church. Here's to many, many more anniversaries & blessings, God willing!

Lets take a trip down memory lane:

A paparazzi picture (photog unknowing that we were looking at engagement rings)

Our engagement (April 2010)

It's strange to me that some of our dearest friends weren't in attendance at our wedding.
Enjoy some pictures from our wedding day!

And, as a reminder (more to myself than anyone), that marriage is a precious living thing that needs constant tending. In case you missed it, here are my recent thoughts on the Christian institution of marriage.

The Abrahams Photography

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Health Update

I did it. I'm taking action to get and stay healthy (not to mention pregnant) with the aide of a wonderful Naturopath and fellow Four Corners Church member.

So far we've had a 90-minute session going over all of my issues. Dr. Oster has some theories and is ordering blood work soon. She has already started me on some things and will formulate a more concrete action plan once my blood work comes back.

In the meantime, I've recommitted myself to running and losing weight. After all my setbacks with mono this year, I'm carrying at least 10 pounds too many.

I recently completed a 5K. I didn't run it as strong as I would like, but I survived. And, for me, it signified a new chapter for my health.

For now, I'm enjoying bread while I can because I fear our days are numbered.... More on that later!

Don't take your health for granted. Don't take any of your blessings for granted. Lately I've really felt that I'm not in control — GOOD! I'm never in control. What a great reminder to rely on the One who is.

As always, prayers appreciated.



Thursday, September 24, 2015

TBT — Throw Back Thursday!

Remember this time in June 2011 when I confessed that I'm a celebrity stalker!? Treasure this little blast from the past. And happy Thursday, y'all...

Celeb Watchin'

You all seemed to enjoy the pics I posted of Tyler Perry — this must be a kinda group, like me! ;-)

So, I thought I'd take the opportunity to share a few pictures of the celebs I've had the occasion to meet and/or photograph during my 6 years at the newspaper:

(Julia Ormond-Legends of The Fall)


(Steve Azar & Jake Owen)

Oh, yeah, and let's not forget...

And, from the old school:

(Dierks Bentley)

(Blurry pic of me & The Rock at Walking Tall premiere)

Okay, so it appears I'm a bit of a stalker. I can't help it we frequent the same places!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Blue Apron Review

I recently signed up for a free trial of Blue Apron thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law, Felicia. If you don't know what it is, it's a service that ships ingredients and recipes to your home weekly. The meals are from fresh, quality ingredients that are healthy — and measurements are precise to avoid waste. 

The two person plan that I chose for 3 meals normally costs $60 — or basically $10 per person per meal. You can also opt for the family plan (enough for 4) and get 2 meals for the week for $70 or 4 meals for $139.

For my first shipment, I received the ingredients for Salmon Burger w/ Aioli & Arugula Salad, Chicken Pad Kee Mao, and Late Summer Pork Bolognese. Here's what the ingredients looked like shipped:

The meals were delicious and I felt like a gourmet chef. The Chicken Pad Kee Mao was by far our favorite because it was "exploding with flavor," as my husband put it. I kept the recipe card and I will be repeating that one! The salmon burger meal took incredibly too much prep time (not to mention J's aversion to salmon) — and I like cooking and have a fair amount of experience.

I love that it made me adventurous in the kitchen, cooking things I wouldn't normally. The recipes were simple to follow and even included pictures.

I was only willing to pay $60 for the 2-person plan. Unfortunately that meant there were virtually no leftovers. When I meal plan, I try to make enough for lunch the next day.

You can't customize your likes and dislikes, only skip meals — so long as you remember to look ahead at your menu selections and take time to veto recipes that aren't appealing. It's also easy to skip your weekly delivery.

Truth be told, the very next day after my free shipment (and before I totally understood how the service works), my card was charged for the next week's shipment. I wish I'd have gotten a warning email, but, whatever, I understand it's a business and it's my responsibility to follow up. However, my shipment didn't arrive on the day it was supposed to. I received it 3 days later (ironically while typing this review) and was told by a Blue Apron rep via email to discard the box of food immediately. Wasting is torture to me — I've nearly eaten bad meat before to prove a point — but the thought of potential poisons injected into my Blue Apron bounty was enough to make me do the right thing (mostly...). That experience left a bad taste in my mouth — even though customer support in the meantime was courteous and prompt and a full refund was issued.

Here are a few snapshots of my first three Blue Apron meals!

Salmon Burger w/ Aioli and Arugula Salad

Chicken Pad Kee Mao

Late Summer Pork Bolognese

All-in-all, Blue Apron is a pretty awesome service. I would definitely sign up again to use them, though it won't be what I depend on regularly for meal planning. Maybe just something I do from time to time to spice things up in the kitchen!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Best Darn Spicy Pickled Okra--Ever!

Y'all. My okra plants have been putting out. I've cooked fried okra, roasted okra, okra soup and — our new favorite — SPICY PICKLED OKRA!!!!!! To think I mistakenly feared I'd hate anything pickled because of the texture. The best part is that it's simple, quick & inexpensive to do. And don't even get me started on the health benefits of okra!

Ok, enough, I know. I love okra. Here's my recipe:

Spicy Pickled Okra

1 lb okra
4 cloves garlic
3 sprigs fresh dill
1 habanero pepper, stemmed & halved
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tbsp.s mustard seeds
1/2 tbsp. fennel seeds
8 whole black peppercorns

Combine okra, garlic, dill and pepper in a sterilized, 2-qt. jar; set aside. Bring vinegar, salt, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and peppercorns and 1 3/4 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve salt. Pour into jar, seal, and let cool to room temperature; refrigerate up to one month.




Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Easy Peasy Terracotta Pot Craft

Happy Hump Day, y'all!

Here's a quick-n-easy craft to get me back in the swing of blogging! I recently purchased an aloe vera plant to keep around the house and I wanted to spiffy up its planter home. It will eventually be displayed on a rad bar car I'm refinishing.

In addition to the plant, I purchased a small terracotta pot, white spray paint, blue painter's tape and Martha Stewart's metallic gold acrylic paint. I went to Pinterest for my inspiration:

Step one: Spray paint the pot. After it dries, add a second coat -- I didn't hold my spray paint far enough away and the paint dripped :-( I will probably fix this down the road.

After the white paint dries. Apply the blue painter's tape to make whatever design you wish. Here's what I did:

Apply at least two coats of the gold acrylic paint by hand. Once the paint is dry, remove the tape and voilá:

This will definitely be part of a grouping of other planters. Here's the design I want to try next:

Oh, and I'm also making this night stand for our room!



Friday, August 21, 2015

In the fullness of time

A frequent question I get: When will Nora get a sibling?

A. I'm trying.

Q. It's been over a year, how do you remain hopeful?

A. I'm trying.

Some days are better than others. Baby fever can be overwhelming. But I know our family isn't complete. One way or the other — though I have an overwhelming peace that this is God's plan and that Nora won't be our last biological child. Doubt sometimes creeps in and makes everything cloudy.

I have been trying to blog about this forever. I've always had a commitment to be honest on here and let God use it for His glory (hopefully). Every month though I'd postpone publishing this in hopes that I'd be able to post a pregnancy announcement instead. And that just hasn't been the case.

I know I'm not alone in this and that brings great comfort. I have so many friends who have gone and are going through this very struggle. Life in a fallen world. We must pray for and uplift one another in our trials.

I am making the most of my time with Nora and the extra time I have these days (as she becomes a little more independent) to study God's word and draw nearer to him. I am truly grateful for having one healthy, smart, beautiful little girl.

I can't help but remember and be comforted by the Biblical phrase "in the fullness of time." That's when Jesus entered the world to accomplish his perfect plan. That's when God's divine will for our lives is carried out. In the fullness of time.

Prayers are always appreciated, though!


The Melvilles

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bathroom Reveal

I was waiting and waiting to show off my new bathroom. I wanted to finish a few things, like painting the door and buying my statement pieces (new towels and hand towels). And since I'm a busy working mom and may never get around to those things, I figured I'd show you what I've got!


(Please notice the paint peeling off the walls from the lack of ventilation)

(This vanity was the perfect height...if you're Nora)

(Never quite figured out why there was a window in the shower...)


(Only the tub was salvageable! They took the room down to the studs)

From out-dated, deteriorating and tacky to...

(I love the little touches, like the eyebrow window and niche in the wall for our shower stuff)

(We had to splurge on a Pottery Barn light!)

We used Lichty Homes again and were very pleased. The project went a little longer than we'd hoped, but that's life, right? I did a lot of Pinterest research before we got started and I'm really glad we went with quartz on the countertop (Mega Granite), subway tile in the shower and honeycomb tiles on the floor (all tile was Traditions in Tile in Sharpsburg). Oh, and our awesome custom vanity was Strathmore in Atlanta.

Check out the before and afters of our mudroom floor!

and after!

Oh, we also got started on our upstairs bathroom, but we're not going to show that to you yet. I promise it will make for some dramatic before and afters! One day we hope it will serve as our master suite. It's definitely going to be more contemporary than the downstairs bathroom, too! Stay tuned...