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Catching Up

Redskins GameBoy the past week has kicked my butt. And in oh so many ways. The world is imploding, people are being vile on social media with their very loud opinions on how to fix the world, like that’s something that has an easy fix. And everyday life has been a bit cantankerous lately. I’m ready for the holidays. At least, I’m ready for school vacation. I just want to hunker down at home in my jammies and do nothing for awhile.

But there are some good things to report. So I’ll catch you up on the good stuff. Let’s start with the Redskins. While I’m a Patriots fan through and through, I attended a Redskins game last weekend with friends (yay for new friends!) and it was SO much fun. The Redskins beat the Saints by crazy numbers and the crowd was just electric. Not to mention it was a beautiful day. So much winning going on there. New friends, a winning home game and beautiful weather. I’m thankful for the experience.


Guardianware PercolatorI’m also thankful for small things that make me happy. You know that auction I  love to attend every week? Not that I get the chance every week, but it’s offered every week. Any who, I went last Friday night and saw this Guardianware percolator you see above.

From what I read online, Guardianware was popular in the 40’s-50’s. It was sold like Tupperware with in-home demos. It was rather expensive in the day and all the rage. And while I’m more of a vintage Pyrex collector, this pot spoke to me. So when I was the high bidder with my $8.00 bid, I was happy with my win. My only purchase of the night, but I was still happy as a clam.

The Colonel was less than impressed. That’s because he has zero patience for coffee to brew. He’s a Mr.Coffee kind of guy and likes to push a button and have his coffee pronto. Percolator coffee sounds torturous to him. He told me I can have my percolator coffee pot. He’ll stick with the modern day convenience coffee. Phooey.

Swedish MeatballsRemember how I shared that I bought The Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook, Dinnertime? I started cooking with it. The first recipe I tried was the Swedish Meatballs and I thought they were awesome! The Colonel did too. The kids not so much. They’re kind of meatball purists. If they’re having meatballs, they want them covered in red sauce and topped with parmesan cheese. Creatures of habit, I suppose.

Cookie SkilletI won with dessert though. A chocolate chip skillet cookie with ice cream and ganache. By the time dessert came around I had zero energy to fight with rock hard ice cream. So I just dumped the pint in its entirety on top and called it good. It was one of those days.

I’ve been super busy working on A Beautiful Bite. This is the time of year for food bloggers. Everyone’s looking for holiday recipes. And if you’re still on the hunt for recipe ideas, I put together a recipe roundup of sides I think look scrumptious. Check it out! I also did the same thing for desserts and ideas on how to use Thanksgiving leftovers!

Christmas Tree at National HarborSo here we are, it’s Friday. Thank God for that. Time to start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can’t even believe I just typed that. Where has the year gone? Time to start thinking about holiday shopping, I suppose. Anyone doing that yet? Or am I the only one who feels like it’s still September?

Disclosure: There is an affiliate link in this post.


Congrats to Raquel T. from CO! You are the winner of the latest Pioneer Woman cookbook. Please send your mailing into to melanieinthemiddle@gmail.com. Thanks to all for entering!

Wedding Formals

So we got our wedding images from the photographer this week! And as promised, here they are. Well, not all of them because there are hundreds, but enough to give you a good glimpse into our special day!

Thank you all for your wonderful comments and well wishes. The Colonel and I appreciate you all. This post wraps up the wedding mushiness. On to real life now. Our Happily Ever After!

Celebrating the Holidays with Macy’s D.C. Metro Center!

Macy's Happy HolidaysWhen I was a little girl, a highlight of the holiday season was a trip into the city with my Nonna to checkout the holiday window displays downtown. All bundled up, I’d marvel at the whimsical twinkling displays and anticipate all the merriment to come that holiday season.

It’s a rather fond memory and I’m continuing this tradition with my own kids, taking them in to see Macy’s all decked out in their holiday finest. And you can join me!

D.C. area friends, be sure to head to the D.C. Metro Center Macy’s Nov. 14th at 2pm for an afternoon of family fun with lots of activities for the holidays!

Get creative at their crafts table where you can create holiday ornaments, color, and more. There’ll also be balloon twisting and more holiday fun to enjoy!

Bring the family and experience an afternoon of holiday festivities with host Fox 5 anchor Allison Seymour. Star-studded live performances include Grammy award winning singer, Chrisette Michele, Empire’s V. Bozeman and singer and songwriter Adrian Marcel.

The dynamic artists of Step Afrika! and Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir, will sing, dance and share the spirit of the season. The man of the hour, Santa, and Ballou High School Marching Band will count down to the reveal of the holiday windows!

Following the unveiling the excitement continues inside with the exclusive meet and greets, arts and crafts, photos with Santa and light bites with Texas De Brazil. With any $75 or more Macy’s purchase take home a pair of tickets to Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show.

This is an event you don’t want to miss! A fun way to kick off the holiday season! Click here for more information.

Macy's Believe

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Cash Back with Bank of America BankAmeriDeals

ChiliAs a veteran couponer and deal chaser, I’m always on the hunt to get the most bang for our buck. I’ve been at this game for well over two decades and it never ceases to amaze me how many opportunities are out there for people to save money.

My bank for example, Bank of America, have you heard of them? Yeah, of course you have! Bank of America has been my bank ever since I started banking. I’m a lifelong customer. And one of the things I like about Bank of America is their cash back program for credit and debit card holders.

Their newest program, BankAmeriDeals, has some pretty sweet cash back offerings at places I shop at on a regular basis. 10% back at PetSmart? Yes please! And they make it really easy too. All I have to do is log into my Bank of America account, click on Special Offers & Deals, select the deals I want and then go shopping!

Pretty easy, right? Dog treats and toys with 10% cash back is something to woof about for sure. Chili is loving his new puppy Kong we picked up at PetSmart recently. See? Practical savings.

BankAmeriDealsAnother thing I like about this program is that the participating partners aren’t lame. They’re actually big name brands you most likely shop at on a regular basis. Starbucks, Nordstrom, Chili’s, Sears and Sephora are a few that caught my eye.

You know you’re getting a spiced pumpkin latte this month at some point. Tis the season! Might as well get it at a discount!

NordstromNordstrom and Nordstrom Rack are two stores I shop at on a regular basis. Heck, most of the items you see above that I purchased for my wedding came from Nordstrom. And Nordstrom Rack is my crack. I love that store. Everything is already heavily discounted. An extra 10% cash back is a very sweet deal indeed!

Gordon BierschGordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant is one of my sons’ favorite places to dine. So we’ll definitely be using that cash back offer in the very near future.

So as you can see, there are some very practical offers at popular businesses available for Bank of America card holders. And each month the deals change, so there are more opportunities to save even more money! The deals are also tailored around your shopping preferences, so the deals I get might be different than the ones you receive. Smart!

No coupons needed, substantial savings/rewards, with a banking institution I trust and at businesses I already frequent. Sounds like a winner to me!

If you are a Bank of America customer, be sure to check out BankAmeriDeals to see what offers are available.

If you don’t bank at Bank of America, check with your bank to see if they offer a similar cash back program. With the holidays fast approaching, it’s a fine time to see if you can receive cash back rewards while you do your holiday shopping!

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


Less Fear, More Joy

Fall ColorsI adore fall. It has always been my favorite season. The changing colors of the leaves, the smell of wood burning, the excitement of Halloween, feeling the leaves crunch under my boots… and my very favorite part… pulling out the blankets to wrap up in on chilly evenings. Fall is comfort.

Bare TreesThat said, fall is also fleeting. So when the air goes from chilly to sharply cold, I know what’s coming. Winter. And that’s never been a good thing for me. Winter leaves me feeling isolated, uncreative, insecure and down. Not enough for me to be concerned for my mental health, just enough to put me in a funk. I just love the mild weather so much more than the bleakness winter brings.

Last winter was the straw that broke Melanie’s back. New England had a tough go of it, with SO much snow. More than I ever remember getting in my lifetime. So when I left the state in the spring, I didn’t look back in my rear view mirror.

Now that I live eight plus hours south (depending on that crazy NY traffic), I’m in for a longer fall, milder winter and earlier spring. I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a relief that is for my soul.

The ColonelAnd more importantly, I have someone to to cuddle up with when it gets frigid out. Oh for Pete’s sake, let’s be honest. I find any excuse I can to cuddle up with this guy. Whatever the weather, cuddling is my preferred pastime.

But seriously, love is the warmest blanket there is. I can be having the crappiest day and The Colonel will make it better by just being there. Never underestimate the power of love.

Chili in the LeavesAnd let’s not forget the power of love from our four legged friends. This dog of mine, he brings me so much joy. I find myself talking to him when I’m alone during the day and I SWEAR Chili understands me.

Just petting him lifts my spirits when I’m out of sorts. There’s definitely something to those studies that say dogs and cats are good for peoples’ health.

One of my coping mechanisms for when I’ve been down is to wake up each morning and set my sights on finding joy in my day. And I don’t mean that figuratively. I actively had to remind myself to look for the joy. Because I had to have that as a task to make certain I would search it out.

Now I bump into it with no need for reminders at all. What a change a year can bring.

So for the first time in many many years, I’m not dreading winter. Matter of fact, I’m rather looking forward to it. Maybe because I know it won’t last as long. Maybe because there’s peace in my home. Maybe it’s because there’s someone here with me every single day to keep me company. Or maybe it’s because Chili is like a walking blanket.

I don’t know the reason. I’m just grateful for the peace.

Antique Copper ColanderNow that the weather has turned cooler, I’m focusing my energies on work and creativity. Blessedly, work has been steady for me over the past year and this fall is proving to be my busiest season yet.

I’m also enjoying working on recipes for clients and shooting images in my new home which means that my food blog A Beautiful Bite will have more frequently added content which has been a goal of mine for quite some time.

Speaking of A Beautiful Bite, I’ve created some recipes lately that I’m really proud of. My Octoberfest Potatoes were a HUGE hit with my family and this Chicken Marsala Lasagna that I delivered to a friend recovering from surgery recently was proclaimed by the patient to be good enough to be served at a restaurant. Quite a compliment if you ask me.

If you’re looking to try something new, those two recipes are solid family pleasers.

Pioneer Woman DinnertimeSpeaking of family pleasers, I bought Ree Drummond’s new book Dinnertime and I am smitten with it. A very large book with over 375 pages, Dinnertime just might be your answer if you’re stuck in a dinner rut. What I like most about it is that there are all kinds of tips about freezing foods, pantry staples and quick dinners. I own every single one of her books and not a single recipe has let me down.

Matter of fact, I love it so much I’m going to give a copy away to one lucky winner. I figure if you’ve made it this far in this rambling post, you need a chance to win something lovely.

To enter, comment on this post and tell me something that’s bringing you joy right now. Be sure to leave your first name, last initial, the state you are from and something that is making you happy right now. Entries will be taken until Friday, November 13th (a good luck day, lol) 11:59pm EST.

I sincerely hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall season. And if you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone as I too struggled for many many years. My favorite expression is “this too shall pass” because it always does. It might take some time for that to happen, but if you search for joy, you will find it. Mind over matter.


This is not a sponsored post. I bought Ree’s book myself and I highly endorse it. Not that she needs my endorsing. Ha! There is an affiliate link to her book in this post.

A Crabby Wedding Week

Maryland Blue CrabIt’s seems that my only mission for my wedding week was to fill my guests up with Maryland seafood. Most of our guests were coming from out of state and I wanted to make darn sure they had a chance to sample the very best seafood from the Chesapeake Bay.

Guests started arriving on the Thursday prior to our wedding weekend and we welcomed them with a party in the backyard. Maryland blue crab, crab cakes and oysters served three different ways were on the menu. A good way to start a celebration if you ask me!

Leela and the CrabWe hired a local duo to cater the dinner and they were fantastic. Every step of the way they included the kids, teaching them the ins and outs of cooking seafood.

It was quite the experience. Leela wasn’t so sure she wanted to be part of the cooking operation and while she was reluctant to help in the beginning, she slowly came out of her shell. Sorry, pun totally intended.

Leela and OystersThe boys thoroughly enjoyed learning about shucking oysters and steaming crabs. This might’ve been by design so they can cook for me in the future.

It was a delicious evening with close family and friends that we haven’t seen in a long time. We picked crabs, caught up on news, tossed back more oysters than I care to recount and enjoyed a beautiful Fall evening by the fire.

I had hoped that the evening would be exactly how it turned out. Full of laughter, love and good food. Oh, and wine. That too. If you noticed in the last post, our wedding took place in a vineyard. The Colonel and I are very fond of wine and we made sure our guests had their fair share of that too.

The following are some of my favorite pics from the evening. I hope you enjoy them too!



Leela trying an oyster

Michael and Dad


Group Pic

Shannon and Chili


Eating Crabs

Crab Party

Chatting By The Fire

The Big Day(s)

RehearsalWhere do I even begin with this post? Good grief, the past two weeks have been a blur. A crazy haze of family, friends, good food and wine. Lots of wine.

And I can’t even start at the beginning which was two days of parties with family and friends prior to the wedding weekend because I know you want to see pictures of the actual wedding.

The posts following this one will have to be prequels because I don’t want you to wait any longer. You’ve been so very patient while I’ve been off the net. So we’ll start the story at the rehearsal and catch you up on the other good stuff later this week…

The ColonelThe Colonel was made for weekends such as this. A man who loves a good party, delivers the best toasts on the planet and has a laugh that will rock a room. Yes, The Colonel was in his element this weekend. The man was in the mood to celebrate and a smile was plastered across his face every moment of our wedding weekend.

RehearsalThe kids enjoyed meeting all kinds of new people at the rehearsal and did especially well with meeting the in-laws. The Colonel’s family embraced my kids as if they had always been a part of their’s which had me misty eyed the entire weekend.

That’s not to say that it was entirely easy for the kids. Surely it was bittersweet for them, but they were gracious, kind and did me proud.

It was a beautiful rehearsal with a lovely picnic luncheon afterwards. Surrounded by family and friends, it couldn’t have been a lovelier day.

Kim and Des

Dad and Michael

Mom and Dad B

And so it begins. #weddingday #bride

And so it begins. #weddingday #bride

And then there was the big day. I thought I’d be nervous, but I wasn’t. It was a beautiful but seriously cold fall day with precious little humidity. Being a curly girl, I thanked God for allowing me to have a low humidity day.

Shannon Hair

Leela Hair

Mom and the girls.

Mom and the girls.

The girls and I got ready together. A stylist did our hair and the three of us helped each other get dressed. Our photographer shot what’s sure to be tear inducing sweet shots of us getting ready which I’ll share with you down the road once we get the proofs back.

The kiddos. #weddingday #wedding #instalove

The kiddos. #weddingday #wedding #instalove

They clean up well, don’t they? As you can see, the color scheme for the wedding was silver and black. Being a second time much older bride, I chose silver because it felt right. The boys wore black tuxes with red accents to match The Colonel. I couldn’t have been happier with how well it all went together.

Kim and MelanieHere is my Matron of Honor, Kim, helping me buckle my pain in the butt heels which I promptly kicked off in favor of pink flip flops as soon as I walked into the reception. Those shoes were like torture chambers for feet.

The Colonel and MelanieOur photographer wanted The Colonel and I to get a “first look” picture prior to the wedding. If you’re not familiar with what that is, it’s the moment that the bride and groom see each other in their fancy duds for the first time. I damn near fell over when I saw The Colonel in his uniform. And then he saluted me. I almost passed out.

The Colonel and MelanieChili was our ring bearer. It’s risky having a puppy in a wedding. We imagined all kinds of mischief he could get into. But I’m happy to report that he behaved beautifully and was a proper member of the wedding party. He even got a bite of steak at the reception for being a very good boy.

The Colonel

Kids SingingThe only glitch we had that weekend was that our string trio that we hired for the ceremony canceled on us because it was too cold for them to play their instruments outside.

We were in a panic trying to figure out what to do until my sons volunteered to perform in their place. Aidan’s friend Holley is a vocalist and she also offered her talents.

Between the three of them, they saved the day. It was absolutely perfect and the very best wedding gift they could’ve given us. We will always look back on that fondly and with deep appreciation.

Wedding Party

FlowersWe got into the reception hall a bit early and I snapped a pic of the flowers before the tables were fully set. I wanted you to see how lovely they were in the daylight. Evening pictures never do flowers justice.

CakeMy girlfriend Susan was not only in my wedding, but my cake baker as well. How gorgeous is this cake she made for us? I have wildly talented friends.

Cake CuttingIt was a shame to cut into it, but The Colonel whipped out his sword with a Zorro like zeal and the rest was history. Delicious sugary caramel chocolate history.

Des and Lisa

Donna and Leela

dancing with the colonelThe rest of the evening was a gorgeous mix of dancing, laughter, hugs, kisses and tears. I wish I had the professional images to share with you today because I’m not doing this day justice with the candid shots I possess.

I am so thankful for all of the people who made this day possible. The Colonel and I are both deeply thankful for the people who love and support us. It’s been a complicated journey, but with so much support of family and friends, we have arrived.

Sneak Peek

Melanie and the ColonelTonight I thought I’d share some pictures my photographer took during a session she scheduled so we could get to know her a bit. Her name is Stacey Windsor out of Alexandria, Virginia and we’re so thankful that she’s our photographer for the wedding.

Below are some of the images from our session. I figured you might enjoy them. Much more to come in the near future!

Melanie and The Colonel

Melanie and The Colonel

Melanie and The Colonel

Melanie and The Colonel

Melanie and The Colonel

Halloween Fun with OREO Cookies

OREO Glow in the DarkCan you believe Halloween is right around the corner? Neither can I and we are SO excited for trick or treating in our new neighborhood.

Matter of fact, we’re going to have our first ever kids’ Halloween party in our new home. The girls are absolutely giddy over it! And truth be told, I’m pretty excited too. I love a good party and it will be a great way to meet some other parents.

We’ve been so busy moving in and planning the wedding that I haven’t really networked much with other moms. So this is a great opportunity for all of us!

For this post I’d like to share with you some of my plans and decorations for our party. And as an added bonus, I’ve partnered with OREO Cookies to show you their cool new product that we will be serving to our party guests. We love OREO Cookies around here!

OREO Glow in the DarkThis October OREO is launching NEW Glow-in-the-Dark 2-packs, a festive and convenient snack to celebrate Halloween. With a glow-in-the-dark feature, OREO 2-packs are great for party favors, gift bags and a fun option for visiting trick-or-treaters. OREO Glow-in-the Dark 2-packs are sold in packages of 30 and can be found at local grocery stores nationwide.

OREO Glow in the DarkLook, I even took them outside to see if they really glowed. Yup, they sure do!

OREO Glow in the DarkHeck, they’re great for adult trick or treaters as well. Big people enjoy OREO Cookies too, you know. That’s why I have a stash of them on my sofa table.

I might not be great at tricks, but I’m totally into treats. And I love how they are portion controlled 2-packs. For some reason I have so much better willpower when treats are packaged in reasonable serving sized packages.

Halloween Witch LegsSo I can cross treats off my list. Paired with some fruit, veggies, cheese and crackers, my menu is complete. Now on to decorations. I’m not the world’s best at decorating, but I found a few festive items to decorate the house with. These witch’s legs have the girls cracking up whenever they walk past them.

Chili the SamoyedAnd it wouldn’t be Halloween without a pumpkin. The girls are especially proud of their pumpkins because they carved them with their dad.

You knew I’d work Chili into this post one way or another, right? Chili says pumpkins are delicious. I know this because I had to stop him from licking them. Silly pup.

HalloweenAdd some Halloweenesque hanging paper decorations and my decorating is complete. I told you I was pretty basic when it comes to decorating. My Martha Stewart abilities are only in the kitchen, apparently.

Halloween drink conatainersOne last fun little thing for our party table, jack-o-lantern drink cups. Not only are they cute, they’ll protect my floor from sticky cider spills. Fun and smart. That’s how I roll.

We’re still planning our party activities, but one thing we’re definitely going to do is bob for apples. The girls and I were talking about it the other day and they had zero idea what bobbing for apples was all about. How crazy is that? Is that not a thing anymore?

I’m sort of a germaphobe, so each kid will have their own bucket to bob in, butI think the girls will have so much fun with it.

Bobbing for apples, eating OREO Cookies and playing with Chili. Yup! Sounds like a party to me!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.