Grab a bowl of ice cream and let’s have a chat!
Hi! My name is Melissa Howell, and my whole big life story is below (complete with embarrassing pictures).
But first, I want to let you know that if you have come here looking for something AMAZING to feed your family, or a large group of people, you have come to the right place.
For the past year and a half, I have been planning monthly dinners for 30-40 women. I have often been asked if I do catering. (I did look into it, but my state requires me to have a whole separate kitchen for that purpose). So no, I don’t do catering. But I DO share my recipes here, on Ice Cream and Inspiration.
So on my site, you won’t find hundreds of recipes. Hundreds of recipes are great if you have time to try to pick one, and then hope that it turns out well. But if you want something tried and true–something that people rave over, ask for again and again, and request the recipe for, then rest assured, you will find it here. If you’re thinking, “Oh crap. I just found out family is coming into town, and I don’t know what to make,” I’ve got you covered. If you just got volunteered to be in charge of a baby shower, then I’m your girl.
I’m going through and removing recipes that don’t have the “wow” factor. Recipes that really don’t get me excited. I want to be totally honest with you, and that means sharing ONLY recipes that are delicious. (That means Mom can’t be the only one who likes it).
So go ahead and pick anything! If it’s not delicious, you get your money back! (Just kidding. There’s no money here). But truly, I do these recipes for you. To make your life a little bit better. Because food is life.
(As a final note, I will be splitting this blog into two separate blogs soon. Ice Cream and Inspiration will become entirely dedicated to food, and I’ll have another blog dedicated to home organization and style).
Now, if you want to see cute baby pictures, and me sitting in the mud, and me wearing super unfortunate 80’s clothing, I invite you to keep reading 🙂
Melissa’s Big, Long Life Story
I was born in Salt Lake City in the summer of 1972. If you do the math, you will see that I am really old. Please don’t do the math.
I had loads of dark hair. But by the time I was one, it had all changed to blonde.
I had a fairly idyllic childhood growing up in Utah. I roller skated with my friends and played at my elementary school, which was only a block away. I also rode my bike with my friends, which led to the horrible accident that caused me to face-plant into the asphalt going full-speed downhill. It’s a miracle I still have a face. Still, the accident (along with some genetics and pre-teen unfortunate-ness) left me with this:
The accident broke my nose and left me with a big scar, and a big bump on my nose (most clearly noticeable in profile) which was the utter bane of my existence for over 30 years. (By the way, if you have watched the Netflix show Stranger Things, you will notice that in episode one or two, Barbara is wearing the EXACT SAME SHIRT AS ME in this picture!)
Shortly before I turned 14, our family moved to Seattle. I played the cello in the high school orchestra, eventually advancing to first chair (because nobody else played the cello). I was fully in the NERD camp, but I was happy there. My main issue was that this was the 80’s, man, and I could never get my hair to be as big as the other girls’. My lips, though–they were plenty big. Just add that to the nose bump and you had the perfect recipe for “awkward social pariah.” At least that’s how I thought of myself.
After high school, I went to my DREAM college, Brigham Young University. Those were some of the best years of my life! I was extremely focused and dedicated, and I LOVED everything I was learning. Three years in, I took a leave of absence to serve a mission for my church. When we sign up to be a missionary, we don’t get to choose where we go. I really wanted to go to a foreign country (preferably Spanish-speaking). Imagine my surprise when I was called to:
LAS VEGAS! Well, I suppose that Sin City is the perfect place to send missionaries! I actually served all over the state of Nevada, and I LOVED it! It was a wonderful time of learning, stretching, and overcoming. And hopefully I did some good.
Upon returning from my mission, I completed my education at BYU, becoming an elementary school teacher. This was my life-long dream.
The dream soon turned into a nightmare. Between being propositioned by a chest-baring, huge belt-buckled single father of one of my students, to dealing with lice, stealing, abuse, threats of law suits, and suicide attempts by parents, the two years I spent teaching were the most difficult of my life. All I can say is that teachers are dealing with MUCH more than academia, and you should be REALLY, REALLY nice to them.
Because of the trauma of my teaching experience, I did something I never thought I’d EVER do. I ran away to Japan! And it was one of the best decisions I ever made!
I got a job teaching English, and it was the PERFECT escape for me. I did have to eat an ungodly amount of squid, in all its forms, though. That was the one huge downside 🙂 (You can read more about my adventures with food in this post: Wherein an American in Japan Makes a Ridiculous Mistake and Learns a Valuable Culinary Lesson).
Upon returning to America, I met and married Superman. At least he looked like Clark Kent. (And he kind of IS Superman).
Soon after we married, we became pregnant with our first child. Unfortunately, I have a condition which does not allow me to carry babies past five months. I did not know it at the time (there was no way to know), and we lost our little Joshua Michael at 23 weeks.
Not long after, I was pregnant again. However, the doctors still didn’t know what was wrong with me, and at 24 weeks, I went into the hospital in labor. This time, they were able to stop the labor and keep me from having my baby for 13 weeks. I spent that entire time in the hospital on strict bed rest. It was a time full of ups and downs, stress and worry, losing weight, gaining weight, getting a kidney infection, and being stabbed with an endless array of needles. But it was worth it! Our beautiful daughter Julianna was born at 37 weeks, weighing 5 pounds, 1 ounce. She never had to go to intensive care, and came home two days later. (I just had a little trouble standing up because my legs had turned into floppy noodles while I laid in bed for three months!) You can read more about this time in my post: Ten Hilarious and Surprising Things I Learned on Bed Rest.
After this, my problem was clear. I have what is officially termed an “incompetent cervix.” (Sorry for any men who may be reading this). Thankfully, there is a fix for this problem, which was employed with my subsequent pregnancies. Around 14 weeks, I get my cervix sewn shut, and then around 38 weeks, I go in and they clip the stitching to allow my cervix to open.
Less than two years after having Julianna, we had our second daughter, Natalie. Sans the long hospital stay.
Not long after, we moved from Colorado to California where my husband got a job working for Disney. Yes, we got free passes to Disneyland. Yes, it was glorious. Unfortunately, Disney decided to shut down my husband’s division only a year and a half later, so we returned to Colorado.
Two months later, we had our third and final daughter, Kate.
She had the most hair of any baby you’ve ever seen. By six months, she looked like this:
During all of this time, I was honing my photography skills. I must tell you that when I started out, I was TERRIBLE. My pictures were under-exposed, had blue color casts, and were not in focus. But after YEARS AND YEARS of practice and study, I finally became a Certified Professional Photographer specializing in children and families. You can see my photography website, Blue Prints Photography, here.
In 2014, I got an ice cream maker, and my life changed. I was never a huge fan of ice cream (not that I’d ever turn it down, mind you), but being able to CREATE my own was exciting and fulfilling (in a strange sort of way). I have always been a creative person, and having a new avenue to channel that creativity was exciting! Thus, this blog, Ice Cream and Inspiration, was born! My original focus was just ice cream, and some of my earliest flavors were Dark Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream, Pear Crumble Ice Cream, and Orange White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Ice Cream. (To see all 35 flavors currently on the blog, visit Ice Cream Central).
One day, a friend told me about the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I became obsessed with organizing. This spilled over onto my blog in the form of a 28-week challenge. I realized that was a LITTLE too much for some people, so I created the 7-Day Decluttering Challenge to help you make a big change in a small amount of time. But if you REALLY want to get serious about transforming your home, then you will love my Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life Program, which takes you through EVERY area of your home and guarantees long-lasting results! This course is only open a few times a year, so be sure you subscribe to my blog in order to informed when the course opens again.
Remember earlier in this post where I talked about my lack of confidence due to my personal appearance? I think most women can COMPLETELY relate to this. We are so adept at finding and magnifying our flaws. Well, a few years ago, I was introduced to a program called Dressing Your Truth, and it absolutely changed my life! It’s not just about how you look. It’s about learning to love yourself for your true gifts and talents and knowing how to share those with the world. You can click here to read all about my personal experience with Dressing Your Truth (and see more embarrassing pictures of me in my youth :)) I’ve been able to share this FREE program with many of my friends, and you can read their stories and see their inspiring before and after pictures in my More Than a Makeover section.
A couple of years ago, I attended a blog conference where I was able to see an advanced screening of the movie The Abolitionists. It affected me forever and changed the entire purpose of this blog. The movie is a documentary which follows an organization called Operation Underground Railroad as they rescue children around the world from sex trafficking and help them to be rehabilitated and overcome their terrible experiences. On that day, I found my life’s purpose, and I am truly, desperately passionate about helping this organization. The work this organization does is incredible and inspiring, and a portion of the proceeds from my blog are donated to Operation Underground Railroad. You can read about them in my Operation Underground Railroad section, or go to their site directly to learn more.
If you read this entire history of my life (so far), you are one dedicated person! That was a lot to read! I’m going to invite you to read even more by subscribing to my site. But don’t worry! All my posts are not this long 🙂 I only post two or three times a week, and they are mostly recipes. (Super yummy recipes, I might add. Because I only post super yummy recipes). I also share organizing tips and fashion tips that go along with the Dressing Your Truth Program, as well as other miscellaneous topics.
If you do nothing else today, just do these three things (in this order):
- Subscribe to Ice Cream and Inspiration. (You’ll get my Favorite Cookies Cookbook for FREE!)
- Check out my Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life Program.
- Visit Dressing Your Truth and start your FREE makeover.
You can contact me by emailing Melissa@icecreaminspiration.com.
I love to hear from my readers, so please feel free to leave a comment or email me any time! Have a wonderful day, and thanks so much for supporting my site!