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Congrats to Taylor Y. from KS! You are the winner of the Dunkin Donuts gift card. Please send your mailing info to melanieinthemiddle@gmail.com. Thanks to all for entering!

Chillin’ with Chili

Chili and the KidsI apologize for Chili taking over the blog. I wish there was more to share right now, but he’s pretty much our focus. Trying to house train him and make him a good social pup is eating up the time that used to be devoted to exploring our new state, Maryland.

I’m hoping for a little balance and more exploration as he gets bigger, but for now it’s Chili central over here. Which of course means more pictures to share with you!

We have taken him on a few outings, but even those have to be centered around his needs. We’re becoming well versed in local establishments that are pup friendly. We’ve also discovered that certain towns are more dog friendly than others. Annapolis and Alexandria, VA are lovely places to bring your fur babies. Lots of dining options for parents of pups in those two towns.

ChiliOn the home front we’ve been busy teaching him good puppy behavior, which of course is pottying outside. And I must say, he’s doing a fine job of it. He has few accidents which is pretty impressive for his age. Although I know he’s sorely tempted to christen the new rug in the family room. He keeps sniffing it and looking at me while he does, so I know he’s weighing the consequences in his head. So far, so good.

Chili and MichaelAnd for the first time yesterday, we let him run free in the fenced in area of the backyard. We held off doing that for awhile because there were a few areas that were not fenced properly, but a friend lent us some gates which fixed that problem perfectly.

We’re having all kinds of fun playing soccer with him and watching him romp and dig. It’s the one area of the yard that I don’t mind digging because it’s all mulch. Dig away my little friend!

Chili Chillin'He looks neglected, right? Luckiest pup on the planet. Even though we’re sort of tied to the house right now, it’s fine because he’s fun to hang out with. This pup has tons of personality and energy and makes for good entertainment while sipping a glass of wine on the deck.

So we’re stuck at home for the most part, but it’s the best kind of stuck there is.

And even though my blog posting has been on the slow side, did you know I post daily on Instagram?

Yup, I started an Instagram account for Chili and I have my own. For awhile there I was sharing Chili on my own Instagram feed, but that account is supposed to be for food and travel. Thus I started a separate account for Chili because it seemed to make sense to separate those interests.

So if you want to follow along, feel free to interact with me on Instagram. It’s a lot of fun and I’m on there daily.

That should catch you up! I hope you’re having a fabulous week and enjoying the cooler weather. It certainly feels like Fall now!

This Furry Life

ChiliIt’s been two weeks since Chili has joined the family. He’s immensely loved by all and has brought us together in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

Having a teen and a college student in-house, usually they keep to themselves in their room unless food is being served. Typical behavior for the age. Now that Chili is home, we are spending so much more time together in the family room hanging out with the pup. Chili is the great unifier.

And indeed we enjoy hanging out with him. There’s a beach close by where we take Chili to romp and play. It’s a private beach where we can take his leash off and let him frolic. Unless there’s a hawk nearby. In that case the leash stays on. Have you ever seen this scene in The Proposal? Looks like Chili, right?

ChiliLong before we got Chili, we became friends with other Samoyed owners in the area. One of them, Tamara, is an amateur photographer who takes amazing photos. All the pics in this post are taken by Tam. I’m very lucky to have talented friends.

Meeting other Samoyed owners has been a real blessing. Not only are we learning about the breed, we’re making new friends. Another huge bonus of bringing Chili into our lives.

Shannon and Chili

My smiling #samoyed. #akcsamoyed #akc #dogsofinstagram #puppy #puppiesofinstagram @barkbox @buzzfeedanimals #beachboy #beachdog #puppylove #dog #samoyed #atomicsamoyeds #woof #smile #smiley #chilidog

My smiling #samoyed. #akcsamoyed #akc #dogsofinstagram #puppy #puppiesofinstagram @barkbox @buzzfeedanimals #beachboy #beachdog #puppylove #dog #samoyed #atomicsamoyeds #woof #smile #smiley #chilidog


My #dog is either part #pretzel  or a #yoga master. #samoyed #akc #akcsamoyed #chilidog #dogsofinstagram #puppiesofinstagram @buzzfeedanimals #awkward #puppy #beachdog @barkbox

My #dog is either part #pretzel or a #yoga master. #samoyed #akc #akcsamoyed #chilidog #dogsofinstagram #puppiesofinstagram @buzzfeedanimals #awkward #puppy #beachdog @barkbox

Besides loving the beach, Chili is fond of chewing on our socks while they’re still on our feet, pouncing on us when we least expect it and playing in his water bowl instead of drinking out of it. He might be a snow dog, but he acts much more like a beach boy.

House training/breaking is going about as well as can be expected of a ten week old pup. Hit or miss. Luckily his accidents are only of the liquid variety and that just takes time to work out. We go through an incredible amount of Nature’s Miracle .

Yesterday I picked up a doggy stroller so I can continue exercising with Chili in tow. Yes, I know I’ll look like a crazy dog lady pushing my puppy around the neighborhood, but I’d rather do that than not have my wedding dress zip up. So people can gawk away.

Life with Chili has been very Chili centric these past two weeks. I’m looking forward to the weeks to come when he’s a little less labor intensive and I can get some balance back in my life again. Cooking and writing about it has taken a back seat to training Chili. Hopefully that will change in the coming weeks.

So that’s about it over here. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

There’s an affiliate Amazon link in this post. If you are getting a puppy, you need Nature’s Miracle. Trust me.

Chili’s Homecoming

ChiliHe’s here! He’s here! He’s here!!! This is the first time I’ve used multiple exclamation points in my writing, so you’ve got to know I’m over the top excited to share this news with you.

Our little pile of fluff is home and we are all so in LOVE! We brought him home last weekend and have spent the last five days getting him used to his new home. More accurately, I’ve spent the last five days washing the floor where he’s piddled more times than I can count.

But no worries. It’s worth it. All the puppy kisses and cuddles makes it worth it. And our floor is systematically being deep cleaned one inch at a time, so that’s sort of a win.

Let’s start at the beginning…

ChiliHello dirty puppy! We asked our breeder (now friend) to hold off bathing our puppy because we wanted to see how she groomed him in person. Lucky for Chili, our breeder lives on a large piece of land with plenty of romping space for the pups. And as you can see, he got good and dirty the day we arrived.


ChiliLuckily for us, Chili didn’t mind bath time one bit. Actually, he loves the water. Funny story for you…

The other day I had to find a way to take a quick shower and my only option was to bring Chili in the bathroom with me. My shower has no doors and it’s a rather large walk-in space.

I got Chili set up with some toys and thought he was good and distracted. I got into the shower and started getting my hair wet, and the next thing I felt was four little paws splashing along in the water with me. Not the most effective way to bathe.

ChiliAfter his tubby he was blown dry with a turbo sized dog hair dryer. That part he was not fond of. Not one little bit. And let me tell you, this dog’s got some fur.  It took a good long time to thoroughly dry him which is so very important for dogs with thick coats.

ChiliAll clean and happy snuggled up with The Colonel. Chili and The Colonel are already tight. Whenever Chili sees The Colonel, that tail starts wagging furiously.

ChiliAnd of course I love him to bits. I smoosh his face and smother him with kisses on a regular basis. He is a love. The only time he gives me grief is at night as he hates his crate. Or at least he did the first few nights. He’s gotten better in the past two days, but those first few nights were rough going.

Chili is a howler and sounds much like a wolf when he’s unhappy. The first few nights he howled an awful mournful howl that broke our hearts. That first night Michael slept on the floor next to the crate and I was sleeping (or trying to) on the couch constantly telling him that he was ok. Major lack of sleep going on over here.

But still, WORTH IT!
ChiliLook at his paw. I die from the cute. Such a perfect little paw. Soft and pink with cute black splotches.


ChiliSuch a sweet boy! A sweet boy who needs to learn how to go potty outside. But to be fair, he’s only nine weeks old and we can’t possibly expect him to be house broken for awhile yet. So for now we lavish him with praise when he does his business outside and clean up after him as needed. Sort of like having a baby all over again!

So that’s Chili! You’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the near future!

I have a question for the dog parents out there. Chili hasn’t been fond of the treats we’ve offered him. Do you have any favorites we should look into? Or perhaps recipes for treats I can make at home? It’s a little odd that he’s not into treats. So maybe I’m just not buying the right types? It’s hard to train a dog who doesn’t like his treats. So any advice is welcome!

Cooling Off with Dunkin’ Donuts and a $50 Gift Card Giveaway!

Dunkin Donuts SmoothieSchool might be back in session, but summer is definitely not over yet! Heck we’ve had 90º degree days this past week. Summer isn’t over by a long shot!

Aidan and I headed over to Dunkin’ Donuts on one of those hot days last week to try out some new frozen beverages that just got added to their menu.

Dunkin’ Donuts recently expanded their menu with the introduction of Fruit Smoothies. Available at Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants nationwide, Fruit Smoothies come in two flavors: Strawberry Banana and Tropical Mango and each contain 260 calories or less for a 16 oz. serving.

The new blended beverages are made with real fruit and creamy low-fat yogurt. A great option when you’re trying to fit into a wedding dress in a couple of months!

Also making its debut are the Frozen Dunkaccino®, a frozen version of Dunkin’ Donuts’ popular hot Dunkaccino®, and new Coolatta® Lite, a lighter version of Dunkin’ Donuts’ popular frozen Coolatta® beverages.

AidanAnd even though the smoothie is pink, Aidan was gracious enough to let me snap a pic of him trying it out. Actually he might’ve allowed me to do that because waiting for him was one of these…

Dunkin DonutA Reese’s Peanut Butter Square. Shut the front door. Of course I had to try this as I’m a huge fan of anything Reese’s. And it was perfection. Peanut butter creamy nutty deliciousness. The perfect balance for my low-fat smoothie. I’m all about balance.

A yummy afternoon for sure. The folks from Dunkin’ Donuts would love for one of you to win a $50 gift card so that you can try the new products. Heck, with $50 bucks you can practically sample the entire menu!

To enter, comment on this post with your first name, last initial, the state you are from and which new product you’d like to try. Entries must be received by Friday, September 18th 11:59pm EST. Good luck!

This is not a sponsored post. I did receive a gift card to facilitate my review.


Congrats to Charity S. from IL! You’re the winner of the Seattle’s Best giveaway. Please send your mailing info to melanieinthemiddle@gmail.com. Thanks to all for entering!


I’ve spent the past days thinking about whether or not I should continue the blog. As I stated in the last post, I’ve grown weary of the negativity that occasionally comes around when I post something personal.

The Colonel and I have discussed it at great length and I’ve thought long and hard about what I want to do, not what other people want  me to do.

Too much of my life has been spent worrying about what other people think of me and the choices I make.

So I’ve decided to keep on keepin’ on. I enjoy sharing my life with you. No, I can’t share everything about my life because no one needs to know every detail of my existence.

Am I perfect? No. Do I have my own issues? Of course. Is every day rainbows and cupcakes in my world? I wish.

I am just like you. Human. I make mistakes. I screw up regularly. I stress eat. I swear when someone cuts me off. I even yell at my kids when they don’t listen.  I am not perfect.

I know it seems that way when I share things on the blog because I tend to focus on the good stuff. Pictures of smiling kids, happy times and new puppies.

Does that mean I’ve got it all together?

Nope. I sure don’t.

I’ve been told I’m sharing a semi-authentic life with you. And you know what? That’s true! Completely true. Guilty as charged.

What I share on my blog is about 20% of my real life. Another 70% is me wearing yoga pants with no makeup on working and sorting out a new life. And you don’t really need to see that. Trust me. I need the makeup.

The other 10%? That’s the stuff that no one wants or needs to know about. Extended family drama, divorce stress, parenting stress….

I could go on and on. But I won’t.

Because there is no law in blogging that says I have to share every minute of my life with the public.

If I choose to share happy puppy pics, fattening cakes and me looking my very best, I can.

I can because it’s my choice to make.

So here’s the deal…

If you think I’m full of crap, an awful person and that my blog is a fake, don’t read it.

That’s pretty simple. If you don’t like me or what I have to share, go find something else to read.

I mean, think about that for a minute. What does that say about you if you take joy in hating what someone else is doing and sharing? Take that time and do something better for your life. That bitterness you feel when you read what I post is not good for you. There’s got to be a better way to use your time.

I won’t allow you to bully me into silence.

And if you like reading my blog and enjoy the parts of my life I feel comfortable sharing with you? Great! I’m happy to have you. There will be SO many cute puppy pics and happy faces coming your way because that’s what I choose to write about.

Life is tough. For all of us. So know that I want to share the bright spots with you as I encounter them, but at the same time know that I struggle just like you. You just don’t see that part of my life.

Going forward, comments will continue to be moderated so I can delete the hate. I apologize in advance if that seems unfair or that I’m manipulating the comments to look favorably on me. That’s really not my intent, but I can see how you’d feel that way.

That said, that’s the way it’s going to be.

Now if you will kindly excuse me, I’m going to go upload about 3,729 pictures of my new puppy to share with you. Oh, and I might bake a cake too. Because that’s how I roll.

P.S. I wanted to respond to every single comment on the last post, but time got the best of me. I responded to at least half. For those that I couldn’t get to, thank you. Thank you for your support. Thank you for taking the time to read my stories. And most of all, thank you for your kindness. The world needs more of it.

Back to School with Seattle’s Best Coffee and a Giveaway!

Seattle's Best

My kids went back to school this week and I’m pretty sure none of us were excited about that. I know most moms were probably doing a dance in the driveway when the big yellow bus pulled away, but this mom just wasn’t feeling the joy this year.

Now that my kids spend part of their summer away in another state with their dad, our vacation time together is a bit brief. Sure, we packed a lot of fun activities in those few weeks, but it’s not quite the same. Still, they had so much fun with their dad and got to do some pretty fantastic things with him. So that’s a wonderful thing.

Besides feeling like I didn’t get a lot of time with them, I really wasn’t keen on getting back into the homework thing, the pack the lunches thing or the back to school shopping thing. I’m not even going to tell you how much I spent on back to school. Even with all my thrifty ways, I still spent much more than previous years.

That back to school supply list keeps getting longer every year my kids are in school. I remember when I was a kid needing pencils, glue sticks and paper. Now the list is about a dozen items deep and includes flash drives. My, how times have changed.

Melanie the BearAnd can I remind you that I’m not a morning person? A couple of weeks ago the kids and I were visiting the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and while Shannon was snapping this pic of me above, she told me this was me before my coffee in the morning. Yup, a pretty accurate statement.

sunroomOnce the bus came and I blew kisses to my girls who didn’t even look out the window to return the favor, I went inside to relax with a cup of coffee. I know I haven’t shared many pictures of my new home yet, so I figured I’d show you where I drink my coffee and do most of my work.

The sunroom is my happy place. This is where I chill, tap on my computer and enjoy the scenery that surrounds my home. This week I’m especially loving my coffee because the folks from Seattle’s Best Coffee sent a very lovely back to school survival kit filled with three of their coffee blends; Toasted Hazelnut, Born in Seattle House Blend and Dark Intense #5.

This week I’m drinking Dark Intense #5 because I need all the strong coffee I can get.

Seattle's BestThey also sent some fun goodies like a Moleskin notebook, a Tile fob which will help me find my keys when I lose them (happens often), and a super cute Seattle’s Best Coffee mug….

backpackOh, and a to-go tumbler and backpack. Fun, right? A nice way to get back into the swing of things for sure.

To make it even sweeter, the folks from Seattle’s Best Coffee would like one of you to have a back to school survival kit as well! One lucky reader will win all the same goodies they sent to me. A surefire way to make back to school a little easier on any parent!

To enter, comment on this post with your first name, last initial, the state you are from and your thoughts on how your back to school experience is going thus far. And if you’re not a parent, feel free to enter too. Everyone deserves a good cup of coffee! Entries must be received by Friday, September 4th 11:59pm EST.

This is not a sponsored post. Seattle’s Best Coffee did send a complimentary back to school kit to facilitate my review. All thoughts are my own.

An Announcement

The ColonelSo I’m getting married to The Colonel in October. Yes, it’s not quite been a year since my divorce. Yes, I know it seems fast to you. Yes, I know you think I might have a story beyond what I’ve shared thus far.

Yes, I know you’re craving answers to fill in the blanks. And yes, I understand that because my life has been an open journal for the past eight years, you think I owe you all the intimate details.

So yes, I know you’re assuming whatever it is people assume when people divorce and remarry quickly and nothing I can say will stop the haters from imagining the worst. So I’m not even going to try to defend my impending nuptials.

Over the past year I’ve dealt with lots of hateful comments about my divorce. Some comments I’ve let post to the blog, others I have not. Because while I welcome reasoned discussion, I’m not ok with hate. And if I were to be completely honest, I’ve considered shuttering the blog altogether because life is too short to allow other people to rain on our parade.

I’ll say that again. After eight years of blogging, I’m considering shutting the blog down because of the constant judgement I’m under for my life decisions.

It seems unfair to me to have my life on parade while people who wish me malice watch my new life unfold from the comfort of their sofas, and with just a few keystrokes, leave comments that blacken an otherwise happy time in my life.

And I’m in SUCH a beautiful place right now that I’m fiercely protective of the joy that fills my life. After two decades of instability, I now feel loved and stable. I’m not going to allow anything to disrupt the peace and joy that’s our life right now. Or forever for that matter. I’m walking side by side in unity with The Colonel and we are forging a new purposeful path together.

The Colonel

The ColonelHow about the kids? What do they think? Well, the truth of the matter is that they like him. Actually, it’s hard NOT to like him. He’s a happy guy. Always quick to smile and offer up a joke, The Colonel is a man with a can-do attitude and positive spirit. In his opinion, where there’s a will, there’s a way. And that positive attitude is downright infectious.

So, yes! The kids like him and are SO excited to be part of our wedding.

The kids are onboard, The Colonel and I are onboard. And my friends? They are ready for a party come October.

Mel and The ColonelThat’s my news. We’re getting married. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the blog. While I’d like to keep sharing my life with you all, I’m growing weary of the negativity that surrounds each personal post I share.

And I’d like to be clear. The comments do NOT decrease my joy. Nor do they cause me to doubt ANY of the decisions I’ve made as of late. It’s just that I am at peace now. Life is going better than I’ve ever imagined it could. And all my childhood dreams of finding a happily ever after are finally coming true.

And nothing is going to burst that bubble.

So I’m not sure what’s going to happen here. All I know is that I’m marrying The Colonel this October and we are getting a puppy in two weeks. The rest? To be continued….

The Old is New Again

Antique CabinetI’ve shared my love for antiques many times before, but living where I lived in New England, antiques were expensive. Certain markets can command higher prices and the dealers in my area knew it.

Now I live in Southern Maryland where farmers are my neighbors. I’m as rural as it gets. And this is a huge advantage as an antiques collector. What was once unaffordable is now a bargain and I’m having SO much fun picking up things here and there.

The cabinet above was found at a local dealer’s shop. It was made around 1900 and I knew it would be perfect for my vintage Pyrex collection. The curved glass is so lovely and it fits perfectly with the rest of the decor in that room. A total score for sure!

Antique Pink CouchThis outrageous pink couch you see above was not supposed to end up in my home. I saw it in the same shop as the cabinet and knew from the start that one of my friends would love it. So I snapped a few pictures in order to share it with her later.

But when I told The Colonel about this crazy pink couch I found, he asked to see it. And when he saw it, he speculated on how lovely it would look in the then empty living room which has purple drapes left by the prior owner.

My poor friend never had a chance and the living room is no longer empty.

Antique ChairThe dealer also had a couple chairs that came from the same estate and were most likely paired with the pink couch. The fabric has shades of pink and purple, so they pair well with the couch. And the wood is mahogany. Such pretty pieces.

I bet you’re wondering how much the chairs and couch went for? $450. Can you believe it? Craziness.

My sons are not fond of these pieces. They call it ghost furniture as they are certain the prior owner died which is entirely plausible. Especially when you factor in that the pieces were built between 1890 and 1900. Odds are good. So that’s one way of keeping them off my fancy furniture. Ha!

Now I just have to figure out how to clean this stuff. If you have any thoughts on that, please comment on this post. I’d love to hear from anyone who has experience in cleaning antique upholstery!

Antique TVWhile the antique shops in my area offer very fair prices, the auction house is an outright steal. We visited last Friday night with kids in tow. That was an experience. I thought the kids would find it fascinating. They did not. So we didn’t get to stay for very long, which was better for my bank account, but we did find a few gems.

See that tv? How much fun is that? No, we didn’t bid on it, but I thought it was so cool! We left before it went up for auction which is a shame as I would’ve loved to have seen how much it went for.

Carnival GlassI was the high bidder on the pieces you see above. I was thrilled to find purple carnival glass for my purple living room. There were six pieces of carnival glass in the lot and the high bidder could choose which pieces they wanted. My high bid of $25 snagged me the two pieces you see above. Aren’t they fantastic?

The table was what drew me to the auction on the website preview. A mahogany base with a solid marble top. So perfect for a formal living room. I had a feeling this would go high and there was a ton of bidding action when the auction started. But after a few minutes the bidding calmed down and I was the high bidder at $80. I still can’t believe it.

The lamp? I wasn’t quite as lucky with that one. Bidding was fierce and I was pretty committed because of the purple flowers in the lamp. Not to mention, the lamp was being displayed on my table, so I figured it was only right to keep them together. $150 later it was mine. Ouch.

Still a good price when you compare it to retail, so I shouldn’t complain.

So the living room is coming along nicely. All I need now is a rug and we are good to go!

How about you? Do you love antiques? Are you an auction lover too? Let’s talk antiques!