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The Irony of It All

We have a new kitchen!

We finally bit the bullet and remodeled. It was a long (5 years) time coming and I can not tell you how good it feels to have a beautiful kitchen that I can call my own.

Here is the original kitchen before we moved into the house:

original kitchenUnfortunately, I cannot locate any photos that I took of the kitchen after we painted the walls (a pale yellow) and moved our furniture in. We also removed that ceiling fan… who puts a ceiling fan in the kitchen? I mean, really?

The after:

kitchen renovation 1
It was a long process, updating a kitchen is no joke.

My sweet husband did most of the legwork, while I approved the design decisions. During the construction process, Mini-me and I headed up to my parents’ house in Virginia to stay for a couple weeks (construction, a toddler and two big dogs don’t mix well).

But in the end, it was all worth it. We, who am I kidding… I have the kitchen of my dreams. White cabinets, caesarstone countertops, lots of storage space and beautiful stainless steel appliances.

And that backsplash… I am completely in love with that turquoise subway tile… we had to wait an extra 8 weeks for it to be custom made/shipped to Georgia, but I am so glad that we did. I could just sit and gaze at that color all day.

kitchen renovation 2
kitchen renovation 3
After three years of food blogging, during which I would’ve killed for a new kitchen (or even one that was just a bit more updated than the standard low-grade contractor one that was built with our house two decades ago), it’s time to officially say goodbye to my food blog.

Writing my food blog has been great to me. I’ve met some wonderful people, I’ve worked on some pretty great projects and I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ve been writing on and off on it for the past year or so, but I haven’t been feeling the same dedication to it that I felt before Mini-me was born. The site will stay up for at least another year, I enjoy referencing it for recipes and I know others do too.

Now, as I bid adieu to my food blog, I welcome a beautiful new kitchen to our lives.

This is going to be a beautiful new chapter, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

June 27, 2014 - 1:38 pm

Debbie - Love your new kitchen Melissa! I will miss your food blog. I better get printing the recipes I reference! Can’t wait to see what you are up to next.

Goals for May

Wow, am I late on this month’s goals post. The end of April was a rough one, and it carried into the beginning of May. But, I’m back on my feet now, and ready to celebrate the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer.

Better late than never, right?

I’m managing to sneak this post in (technically) in the first half of the month!

last month goals title
1. Finalize the name of the new children’s product business that I’ve been working on.
Done! Announcement with brand spankin’ new website coming later this summer.
2. Finish renovating our kitchen.
Almost done, we are waiting on the tiles for our backsplash which is on a 8 week back order.
3. Bake something I’ve never made before.
Done. Made my mother-in-law’s famous brownies.
4. Instagram everyday for #100HappyDays (you can follow me @melissahcrane)
Not done. The end of April was a rough one and honestly there were days that weren’t happy. I’ll start this up again in June.
5. Finish landscaping the vegetable & herb garden.
Done. Herbs and vegetables are doing pretty well this season. Kale and brussels sprouts are growing up a storm and the herbs are plugging along nicely.

this months goals
1. Make brunch from scratch for Mother’s Day.
Done. We had my mother-in-law other for brunch for Mother’s Day and I made chicken & waffles, honey cornbread muffins and a corn tomato avocado salad. All from scratch, and it was fabulous, including the bottomless mimosas.
2. Make an art smock for Mini-me
3. Go strawberry picking.
4. Start swimming at least twice a week, first thing in the morning.

May 23, 2014 - 8:46 pm

estherjulee - oooh strawberry picking! i only went that one tine with you guys.

Goals for April

For the past week, Mini-me and I have been staying at my parents’ house in Virginia while our house in Atlanta is being renovated. My sweet husband, Paul, stayed behind and is supervising all of the construction.

While it has been lovely spending time with my family at my childhood home, I’ve also been feeling a little like a single parent and also getting very antsy from staying at the house most of the day, all days.

You see, there isn’t much to do in this little town of Radford. Especially when all of my close friends from high school, the ones that I’ve managed to keep in contact with, don’t live in the area anymore. They’ve all moved to “big cities,” much like I did. We are scattered across the Atlantic coast, from Atlanta to Washington DC to New York City.

So, I’ve felt quite isolated in this little mountain town in Southwest Virginia. I wish I could say that I’ve made good use of that time by working on personal projects, but honestly most of my time has been spent troubleshooting client websites and entertaining a 17 month old toddler.

This had me thinking about my goals. Am I really making good use of my time? How can I do better?

In the spirit of not letting “being a mom” stop or slow me down on my goals. Inspired by my friend, Esther, I’m going to put these goals out there this month.

this months goals
1. Finalize the name of the new children’s product business that I’ve been working on.
2. Finish renovating our kitchen.
3. Bake something I’ve never made before.
4. Instagram everyday for #100HappyDays (you can follow me @melissahcrane)
5. Finish landscaping the vegetable & herb garden.

Here’s to a productive month of April!

April 1, 2014 - 3:30 pm

estherjulee - yaay! that’s what i like about you. you say something, and you do it right away! :) and now i get to see more of you on instagram!

April 1, 2014 - 5:08 pm

Chantel - Those are wonderful goals! I can wait to see the results of #1!

5 Business Lessons that I’ve Learned from Running

I’ve never considered myself a runner. Even though I’ve completed my fair share of 5K and 10K races, with one half marathon thrown in for good measure.

But, after 6 years of running, having a baby and losing 30 pounds, I am finally starting to feel like a runner.

Shamrock n Roll Atlanta 5KFinishing at this year’s ShamRock N’ Roll 5k.

It’s only recently that I’ve started to feel at ease when running, and experienced the runner’s high that I’ve heard about. I can finally run an entire 5K without stopping to walk.

Next up is running a 10K without walking breaks.

The thing with running is that it gives you a lot of time to think. Sometimes, I ponder over the client project that I’m stuck on. But many times, I use running to just be in the moment and enjoy the act of running and being outdoors. Inevitably, thoughts still creep into my mind and most recently, I’ve been comparing running to running a business.

Here are 5 business lessons that I’ve learned from running:

1. Set goals
I’m not the type of person who can just run for fun. So, I sign up for races, which give me something to work towards.

2. Don’t compare yourself to others
I’m slow. There, I said it. I’m still trying to run a sub-30 minute 5k.

My husband is a runner. As in, completed multiple marathons and an Ironman… I would always compare myself to him. Don’t do that.

Run your own race. Do the best that YOU can do.

3. Take rest days
It’s important to let your body rest and heal, take it easy at least once a week.

4. The hardest part is just getting started
Sometimes it’s tough just getting out the door. When the weather is gloomy and chilly, the couch looks so much more inviting than the pavement outside. But, it’s days like those when I’m the most grateful after my run.

5. It’s easier when you lose the extra baggage.
In my early days of running, I was overweight and would struggle with breathing. Since my mom has asthma, naturally I assumed that I did too and that there was not much I could do about it. But after losing those 30 pounds, suddenly I have no issues with my breathing while running. Who knew?


March 24, 2014 - 6:58 pm

estherjulee - good lessons! i heard a really good quote about number 2.. that goes something like ‘the only person you should compete with is yourself yesterday’.. well, something like that but more eloquently. haha

Confessions of a Former Starbucks Addict

Hi, my name is Melissa and I was a Starbucks addict.

Starbucks addictionThree years ago, I freelanced full time from home and would frequent Starbucks four to five times a week.

My addiction was twofold:
1. I needed my daily iced grande nonfat latte fix.
2. I needed to get out of the house and see people.

It was just nice to get out of the house and be around other people. I never really met anyone there, aside from a quick chat with my favorite barista, but it was nice to see familiar faces every week. I was spending somewhere between $4 to $6 every day on my latte and a breakfast cake, every much addicted to the caffeine and satisfaction of toting around that cup with green mermaid logo.

When I got pregnant two years ago, the iced grande nonfat lattes became iced grande nonfat decaf lattes. I still freelanced from home, so the regular trips to Starbucks were still a reality.

Then Mini-me was born and and all possibilities of getting away to my favorite coffee shop quickly flew out the window. Then came the discovery of both my and Mini-me’s dairy allergies. It took some trial and error, but we figured this all out when she would break out in a rash all over her squishy little face, cry uncontrollably because of gas pains and vomit on occasion. These things happened when I would have milk or cheese to eat (we were breastfeeding).

So, getting rid of dairy in my diet was a no brainer.

Then, something remarkable happened. The chronic rashes that I would get on my hands disappeared. I lost weight. A lot of weight. As in, one month after giving birth, I weighed 25 pounds less than before I got pregnant. After some internet research, my suspicions were confirmed: I was allergic to dairy too.

Starbucks was now completely out of the picture (I’m also allergic to soy milk, if you were wondering).

But, the thing is. I don’t miss it. All it took was having a baby.

March 10, 2014 - 9:12 pm

estherjulee - aw then were are we supposed to meet when i’m in town? haha well we always got tea at caribou so that’s okay right? :P

i def did see carol change a lot in her eating habits. she used to eat out a lot before, but now she cooks a lot more bc it’s less of a hassle. and when she was in LA, we would go to the convenient spots instead of all the good foodie spots.

maybe we can all get together at carols or maybe your place from now on if it makes it easier. :)

March 18, 2014 - 8:01 am

Melissa - Haha! I still get tea at coffee/bagel shops so yes, tea still works :)

Luckily, Paul and I still manage to go eat out with Mini-me pretty regularly. She’s great in a highchair as long as she’s eating or being entertained (ahem, iPad games). I guess we’re grooming her to be a foodie – she loves good pizza (Antico) and has been to Farm Burger Buckhead a few times.

Goodbye Facebook… See You on Easter

fb_icon_325x325I’m giving up Facebook for Lent.

The past few years, I’ve given up various things during Lent. Fast food was the usual selection for a few years, and last year Paul and I both chose to not drink anything but water for 40 days.

I had been pondering over what to give up this year, I considered becoming vegetarian, giving up snacking between meals and drinking only water (again). But none of these really seemed like much of a sacrifice. We don’t eat much meat at home, only chicken and seafood on occasion; and we only drink water at home already (thanks to habits that carried over from last year’s Lent).

This year, I finally settled on Facebook. I realize that this may sound ridiculous, especially since I’m not giving up Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, FourSquare or LinkedIn.

Here are my 5 reasons for saying goodbye to Facebook for the next 40 days:

1. Time sucker
Logging onto Facebook and checking up on the “news” is practically second nature to me now, first thing that my fingers do when I open up my laptop is click in the address bar and type “” When I grab my phone, the first app that I check is “Facebook.” I don’t know how many times I look through my news feed on Facebook and how much time I waste on that site. If yo think about it, this is really absurd.

What else could I be doing with all that precious time?

- I could spend it with Mini-me, playing with her, teaching her and reading to her.
- I could spend it playing with our two dogs.
- I could spend it working on client projects, so that I don’t have to stay awake at all hours of the night.
- I could spend it working on my new start-up venture, which has gotten neglected because of the above three.

2. Shallow connections
The people closest to me don’t contact me on Facebook. We call, email, text or see each other on a regular basis. Of the hundreds of “friends” that I have on Facebook, how many are really real life friends? Yes, I have met all of my Facebook “friends” in person (I don’t accept friend requests otherwise), but how many of them would bother saying “Hi” to me if we were to see each other face to face? My guess is not many.

3. Jealousy
Something that is difficult to admit is that jealousy abounds on Facebook. It’s when an exhausted work-from-home mom sees a post about a friend who is going on an exotic vacation. It’s when a woman battling infertility see a post about a new pregnancy. It’s when someone stuck in a dead end job sees a post about an amazing promotion. Facebook is a place of self-absorption and self-indulgence. It will be refreshing to step away from all of that for a while.

So, come tomorrow my account will be disabled and the apps on my phone and iPad will be removed. I’m looking forward to being away from Facebook for the next few weeks and seeing what changes this overhaul on my daily routine will bring to light.

March 10, 2014 - 9:08 pm

estherjulee - hope your fb fast is going well! :) i do agree with all these.. but i think i’ve been feeling that way mostly from instagram and pinterest (where i’ve been spending most my time) :P

March 18, 2014 - 8:03 am

Melissa - Yeah, I remember you saying a while ago that you don’t spend much time on FB. I feel that Instagram and Pinterest are a bit different though, it feels like you’re being at least a little productive when on those platforms (gathering ideas, sharing photos). Sometimes, FB just feels like a big waste of time.

Are We Raising a Lazy Generation of Children?

A few nights ago, we were too exhausted to cook dinner and not in the mood to go someplace nice to eat. So, off to Zaxby’s we went.

A group of high school kids were sitting a few tables away from us, it wasn’t the loud Britney Spears song singing that got to me. It was the leaving a mess on their tables after they left, when there was a trash can literally right next to their seats.

Even if you are at a fast food restaurant, you should always clean up after yourself.

Common courtesy: Is this something that parents aren’t teaching their kids anymore?

Kids don’t seem to be as grateful for what they are given. As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our children the value of hard work and the meaning of gratitude. Kids are handed so much these days. It’s not uncommon to see teens walking around with iPhones, wearing designer clothes and driving expensive cars around their suburban neighborhoods.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give our kids things and make life comfortable and fun for them. I’m saying that as parents, I feel that it is our duty to teach our children to be responsible, grateful and respectful members of our community.

people do not return shopping cartsWas the shopping cart rack really too far for you to walk to? Really?

Mini-me is just a toddler, so we have many lessons to teach her as she grows up. I hope we can instill some of the same values in her that my parents instilled in me.

February 21, 2014 - 6:35 pm

estherjulee - yeah there’s definitely been a change. i feel like we’re much less grateful than our parent’s generation too. maybe it just comes with having everything too easy. the easier it is, the less responsible we become.

It’s Okay to Let Go (A Little)

Yesterday, I had one wisdom tooth taken out. That one itty bitty little bugger that had grown in years after I “had my wisdom teeth taken out.”

With Mommy drugged up and mind in Lala land, Mini-me was left in the care of Paul aka Daddy. I thought (or knew) that surely at least one, if not ten disasters were bound to occur over the course of the day. After all, I’m the stay at/work from home mom, I’m a control freak and she’s our first and only child.

There were some minor mishaps.

I vaguely remember waking up from a foggy minded nap to find Mini-me wearing PJ bottoms that completely clashed with the rest of her outfit. An outfit that I had carefully put together pre-surgery. The reason: she chewed through a jelly pack at breakfast and it went all over that perfectly selected outfit.

Of course I flipped out, “Why is she wearing that?! It doesn’t match!!!” Blame the meds, I tell you. Blame the meds.

But to my amazement (and his credit), Paul was able to sing Mini-me to sleep for her afternoon nap (mind you, she’s a terrible sleeper) and he kept her well-fed (and clean) for the rest of the day. I even caught Mini-me feeding herself baby food from one of those organic pre-made pouches, without getting her clothes dirty.

Maybe it’s time for me to let go a little bit. Clearly Mini-me is ready.

I just don’t think I am yet.

peter pan never grow up

February 4, 2014 - 5:13 pm

estherjulee - i never noticed until now that you changed your tagline! :) yeah i guess with kids it forces you to have to let go a little.

February 4, 2014 - 5:40 pm

Melissa - Yea I just changed the tag line today. I’ve been working on a new business concept, so the ol tag line with “food and photography” doesn’t fit anymore.