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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

N1409P12012C

I like to make lists. Lists have always been my friend, and since I’ve been pregnant they are friendlier to me than ever.

Right now, I have three lists going. There’s one on my fridge that reads as follows:

House List

Put up Christmas tree

Get carpet replaced in office

Get HVAC installed

 Change out kitchen sink

 Put books on shelves and move love seat

Baseboards living room

 Strip wallpaper-living

Strip wallpaper-bedroom

 Paint living room

 Paint office

Paint baby room

Paint bedroom

 Replace bedroom carpet

Build shelf in closet

Build shelf in armoire

This is a good list, a long term list. And it’s in a public place, where Justin and I can both see it and remind ourselves of exactly where we are. We each make sure the other gets an opportunity to do the honors, scratching another major project off with a marker.

I also have an active grocery / gift shopping list always on rotation, and of course, there is a daily to-do list, which includes work to-do items and other accomplishments for the day:

Quiet time

Work out

 Make soup

Laundry

Wrap Sophie gift

Call so and so

  Call so and so

Finish that story

Edit that other story

Meet Valerie

Send shoot preview to so and so

There are also lists within the list—such as lists of layout edits to our current issue of the Wilson Living Magazine, due out January 7 (whoo-hoo!).

Like every human out there who makes lists, I also add items as I go along, if I find I have done something during the day that wasn’t on the list. Pay that bill? Add it to the list, and check it off. You did the work, I say to myself. You sure as heck get the credit!

And lately, I’ve taken to adding items to my list that make me feel better about a less productive day, but which, I figure, are a partial explanation:

Grow baby

Recover from UTI

Or items that are not precisely concrete accomplishments, but that still, in their own way, required skill, effort, and planning:

Think a lot about color schemes in the living room

Resist Bluebell Mint Chocolate Chip in the freezer

Yes, lists are my friend.

They’re a visual stress reliever, at least for me. When I’ve gotten all the goals of a day down on paper, I feel about 1000% more mentally clear, and totally ready to focus on a task until it’s complete.

Hey!—I just earned myself a cross-off:

Write/post blog

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

N1412P12009CThere’s few places as beautiful as Middle Tennessee in the fall. And one only needs to visit Facebook or Twitter to take in all the beauty. Changing leaves, crisp air, family photos in all orange or red surrounded by a bevy of changing leaves posted all over social media, and general giddiness of the season make even this girl excited about football… for the social atmosphere, not the game.

This is also the time of year my normal (Note: this will be the only time that adjective will be used to describe yours truly) “stay away from anything crafty” persona transforms into a glue gun wielding poor man’s Martha Stewart. Before realizing how underqualified I am to take on big projects, I’ve started the process of distressing every piece of furniture I own, every room in the house smells of pumpkin spice candles and all the decorating dilemmas in the world can be solved by simply adding a touch of burlap or a monogramed initial.

I start to lose steam around mid-October.  

My husband is irritated that all of our furniture is covered with burlap. That’s the only way I can think of to hide the fact that our tables look (not in a good way) distressed.

My boys are revolting against the matching sweaters I ordered for a family portrait. It was the large embroidered initials on the front that sent them over the edge.

I prepare the white flag after Halloween.

In November, I give away four bolts of burlap, send back the monogrammed sweaters, and throw away everything that even remotely smells like pumpkins.

By the time December rolls around, I’m a basket case.

I can’t keep up. I AM NOT MARTHA. STEWART! I am however consistent with my signature holiday homemaking rituals.

The lights on my pre-lit tree NEVER work as a team.

My homemade cookies for teachers and friends are actually made by toll house and can be found in the dairy case of any grocery store.

Three unused gingerbread houses dated 2007 remain in the deep freeze waiting for the day I arrange a craft party with my oldest and his friends.

There’s a bag of clearance Christmas décor and gifts that I always forget about and find in January.

The truth is, I’ll never be Martha. But I don’t hate her. She didn’t force me to charge a Mauviel copper pot. Even if some of the things she hand makes for the holidays can seem a bit pretentious. Martha brings us all back to a simpler time when doing beautiful things for family and friends was cherished. And lucky for me, my friends and family cherish toll house cookies, stale gingerbread houses, and wonky Christmas trees.

Comments? Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

family pic

The week of Thanksgiving, my husband and I loaded into a three-car caravan, along with my parents, five of my siblings, and an assortment of spouses. We drove down into the heart of Louisiana. There, we split our time between the two sides of my extended family.

My mother’s people are Gremillions—very Cajun and Catholic—and are located in Baton Rouge.

Baton Rouge is just like most smallish cities. Not swampy at all, although it is flat and piney like the rest of the state. You can get good beignets and café au lait there, and all the mainstream grocery stores carry etouffee mix and Tony’s seasoning. Seafood is easy to find in abundance, and gas station signage (I saw a gas station called “Stop and Geaux” on this trip) brags about the “best shrimp po’boys around!” There is also good cheap coffee grounds—Community Coffee is the brand my mother carries back with her when she goes.

My father always stops at the same gas station/meat shop, between Lake Charles and Baton Rouge, where he stocks up on a week’s supply of boudin.

What is boudin, you ask? It’s a kind of fatty, meaty rice mixture, stuffed into a sausage casing and served hot. You eat it with your whole mouth—lips, teeth, and throat are all necessary to squeeze the rice mixture out of the casing and devour it.

I’m embarrassed to say that it’s delicious.

We don’t usually make the trip down south over Thanksgiving. In the past we went at New Year’s quite often. Sometimes, also, for a wedding, or during a summer holiday. But I don’t know why we never thought of going on Thanksgiving before; it was absolutely the perfect time to go.

Most people had one full day of stuffed-to-bursting table time. I had a week of it. Everybody else in America spent Thursday eating turkey and stuffing, and that’s all very well and good, but I got a full week of strange Cajun-Southern combinations: gumbo one night, turkey the next; jambalaya and etouffee on the same potluck table with fried chicken and salad. Sweet potato casserole laid out alongside au gratin potatoes; crawfish cooking in the fryer while a traditional beef roast baked in the oven.

It was a grand time.

In the morning, we tried to anticipate the coming day’s food by exercising. We organized a family 5K, rowed around in the swamps of Birds Nest (my dad’s people are English-Irish swamp folk), walked in the genteel neighborhoods of Baton Rouge, and hunted squirrels. These efforts at working up an appetite were never equal to the supply of food.

My father’s people, as I mentioned, live in Birds Nest. This is about an hour outside of Lake Charles, and it is always a riot of a time there. Our own party was larger than usual, because of the spousal additions, but we were only a drop in the bucket. This trip, the cousins had begun to produce children, so in addition to spouses and girlfriends and boyfriends, babies were being handed around liberally just to add to the general confusion and merriment.

The center of activity was two large homes on the same backwoods road—my grandparents’ and my uncle’s. The homes are within walking distance of one another, and the movement between them was constant. We had a family-wide compulsory talent show one evening (best entertainment I’ve witnessed in a long while) and a barn dance with a live band on the last night of the trip.

When we loaded up the cars for the ride home, many of us cried (it’s tradition). More memories made.

I’d proposed this trip to my family as sort of a ‘last hurrah’. Babies are on the way (yes, more than one in my immediate family, but that’s all I’ll say), and I figured this would be a great time to get all of us together for an adventure. By some miracle, everybody’s crazy schedule was able to accommodate it.

But from the beginning, we’ve all been assuming that the twelve hour drive south is not going to be as easy to manage when there are schedules AND young ones in the mix. At least, not all of us at once, like this time.

But the more I think about it, the sillier it is to me. Since when do children preclude wonderful family friendly trips like these? Families have been taking road trips for ages. What’s not fun about taking your young children along to introduce them to more people they are related to?

If it means more weeks like this one, I’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. Toddlers and all—we’ll just pick up and geaux. 

Photo: My dad's progeny (children and sons-in-law) in white. My aunt's progeny are in red. My uncle's progeny are in black. Granny and Grandpa are leading it all up. This fun photo was taken in a barn with a canvas dropcloth backdrop; one of the aunts orchestrated.

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

Flower peach and pink arrangement pictureBy Angel Kane

Wilson Living Magazine



This past month, the hubs and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. And it went something like this....

"Do not buy me flowers! You know that it just makes me mad when you do. In fact, don't buy me anything that I haven't picked out myself."

"Duly noted. No flowers for you or anything that you have not specifically requested. And may I ask, what am I getting for putting in my time?"

On our anniversary, I received flowers and tickets to a musical that I'd never heard of.

And therein lies the secret to 20 years of wedded mostly bliss. It's taken two decades  to work out the kinks but it goes something like this...

 

1.    Not everyone puts their clothes in the laundry basket or washes them in the gentle cycle. The first few years this will almost drive you to divorce court. I mean, how hard is it to NOT wash all my clothes on HOT!!! But as time goes by you realize the fact that he's washing his clothes, your clothes and the kids clothes is a pretty big deal. In some countries, wives that don't wash all the clothes get stoned. So, your favorite white shirt is now pink and could fit on a doll... look on the bright side, you aren't facing a firing a squad this morning. Even the negatives, could be worse.

2.    My Dad spends every Sunday afternoon washing my Mom's car and then filling it up with gas. Whenever I mention this to my husband, he reminds me that while my Dad is doing this, my Mom is cooking him a homemade dinner. Never compare your marriage to someone else's; also, pump your own gas and like it!

3.    Not everything that you hear in your head should come out of your mouth. This one is hard because that girl in your head, she knows everything! But the one thing she doesn't always know is when to keep her mouth shut. Every once in a while you should duct tape her mouth and stick her in the trunk of your car. Because no one wants to hear it, her or you 24/7.

4.    He has his thing and you should have yours. Let him watch the game, play golf, work on his car because that means you can go shopping, watch Hallmark movies, and play Bunco with the girls. If he didn't have his thing, he'd be tagging along on yours. And taking the Husband to Home Goods always ends badly.

5.    The best part of marriage is you have a built in wingman. Grocery shopping, moving furniture, sick kids, crazy family, homework battles, putting up the Christmas lights. Marriage means someone to not only have your back, but most importantly someone to help work your list!

 

Twenty peach colored roses (because he knows peach is my favorite color) and tickets to a Broadway musical written by the creators of South Park (because he knows I secretly think that show is funny.)

 

I hope for 20 more years that go something just like this....

 

To read more of Angel and Becky's columns go to www.wilsonpost.com

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Good Morning!

Welcome to Crafty Southern Mama's How To Tuesday!

It is DECEMBER the 2nd, have you bought all your gifts yet?

If not, you're in luck!

Today I'm sharing a sweet dollie sewing tutorial that will make any little person on your shopping list squeal with delight!

If you have any sewing experience at all, you can make one of these.

If I can make one, ANYBODY can make one!

Several years ago (back when I actually had time to sew),

I ran up on this awesome sewing tutorial from 70 Piggies Blogspot on HOW TO MAKE A SOFTIE DOLL.

At the time my Miss Olivia was all about being a mama to her little dollies, so I was VERY EXCITED to make her one of these keepsake cuties!

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These dolls are really SIMPLE to make if you follow the step by step photo instructions.

(I am a visual learner, so tutorials like these are my ONLY HOPE!!!)

Gifts from the heart are always the best,

come on over to my blog to get the pattern and start one for someone you love today!

Thanks for visiting, friends!

Have a great day!

Mandy

Crafty Southern Mama

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

Everyone is thankful for something. Even on the day of Thanksgiving, when 40 members of your family are talking loud, complaining about the food temp, and wondering "out loud" if the serving dish used for stuffing belongs to them. As much as my family and close friends may test the limit of my nerves, I still say a silent prayer of thanks. It's not a prayer you are familiar with I'm sure. In the chaos of the holidays before I let myself utter or think, "THIS IS THE LAST TIME I'M COOKING THANKSGIVING!" I stop (obsessing), drop (the attitude), and roll (add Parker House to my grocery list) and instead say, "Thank you."

Thank you for a husband who helps with everything and doesn't complain about it (to me anyway). Who doesn't mind coming in second to so many things; work, kids, friends, sisters, the housewives of BRAVO TV, dad. Who just like me rolls his eyes when people talk about "soul mates." Because it's more important for us to simply be "mates." We can save the soul part for the afterlife. We've built a life together. It took us a while to finish the foundation but when we did, the rest just sort of fell into place. So thank you for him and keeping us smart enough to know that just because one day is bad doesn't mean tomorrow will be.

Thank you for a 15 year old who still talks to me and talks back to me. A boy/man who is trying to find his way and his identity. And a boy who still let's his mama run the bases with him when life throws a curve ball his way.

Thank you for an almost 11 year old who is so much smarter than all of us but doesn't rub it in. My youngest babe who makes very grown up observations like, "You know the "E" means you should stop and get gas?" or "Why are you always trying to lose weight? You don't need to." Oh! And he still loves to snuggle while watching "Elf" this time of year.

Thank you for my sisters and brothers. Those connected by blood or connected through life. Without a single one of them this island of misfit toys wouldn't be fun at all.

Thank you for my mother-in-law. Yes, you read that right. I'm thankful that she accepts me for who I am, messy kitchen and all.

Thank you for the dementia that changes our dynamic on a daily basis. It's not always fun. There are days when I'd love to stay in bed, watch bad reality television and post anonymous messages on political websites. But instead, I listen intently as dad tells me about how he met mom during the 1961 fall quarter at Western Carolina University. And for a moment I wonder if this is real. Maybe it's not as bad as the neurologist says. Then he sits to eat his soup with a butter knife. No big deal. I hand him a spoon, we giggle and he reads Jon Saraceno's latest. We go on. And so does life. Because while he will inevitably forget many things, his family will remember for him.

So for these things and so many more, I'm truly thankful.

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Welcome to Crafty Southern Mama's 

How To Tuesday...

Today I'm going to show you a couple of ways to get creative with those wonderful Christmas Cards that you are going find in your mailbox next month.

Both of these are great ways to keep you organzied during the Christmas season & I love that (because the jolly holiday clutter starts to drive me a little crazy if I'm not careful).

First I'm going to show you how to make a Christmas Card Tree, this can also be an anytime photo tree in your home as well. The best part...you won't believe how EASY it is to make one!

1tree

Next, I'll show you how to turn those beloved cards and photos into a keepsake that you will enjoy for many years to come with an easy tutorial on how to make a Christams Card Blessing Ring. These are so festive & just darling! You will love revisiting cards of Christmas past after you make a few of these!

blessing8

These are simple to make, super cute and will help keep you (sane) organized...productive holiday crafts make me so happy!

So, roll up your sleeves & let's get busy!

Head on over to the Crafty Southern Mama blog to learn more about these easy How To Tuesday Tutorials.

I'm so glad you stopped by to visit today!

Stay warm, friends!

Mandy

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

painting-swatches

There’s a fine line, I found out this week, between a hormonally-driven crying spell and what my parents called a plain old bad attitude. A bad attitude is not as difficult to diagnose as one might think. Even children can do it.

“Do you have a bad attitude?” my parents would ask. “If you do, it needs to be fixed.” And if I had a bad attitude, there was never a real question in my mind about it.  “Do I?” I never had to ask.

A bad attitude is like a toothache—easy to diagnose, painful to address.  

Exact methods for fixing a bad attitude vary, and I won’t go into that sort of thing here (but I will just say that a good spanking seems to have dropped off the list of options in Parenting Magazine, and I call that unfortunate).

Recently I saw a small kid yell at his mother and then stalk down the outside steps at our apartment building, carrying his blankie with him. I was passing by the bottom of the staircase, and he stared defiantly at me.  Without thinking, I asked him the appropriate question.

“Do you have a bad attitude?” I said, gravely.

“Yes,” he said after a moment’s thought.

“You should get that fixed,” I said. Then I smiled at him and carried my groceries inside.

Yessiree. Anybody can tell a bad attitude when they see one. Despite this, bad attitudes can strike when you least expect them.

Example: This week my husband and I got into our new house.

We entered the back door armed with paint brushes and Pet Odor-X, ready to put our stamp on the place (and remove the stamp left there by a previous owner’s enterprising dog). The idea was to move in on Saturday, so we had just a couple of days to clean and paint specific rooms before they were full of furniture. We figured that other projects (of which there are many) could wait for the early months of actually living here.

I love a good remodel. My childhood is full of happy remodeling memories, because my parents tended to buy another project home about every 2-3 years. This yielded lots of fun experience for us kiddos—scraping popcorn texture off of dated ceilings, painting dark wood paneling (for a whole new look!), and living out of our living room for two weeks while the kitchen counters and appliances got redone.

I love befores and afters as much as the next girl, and have always enjoyed the hands-on, cheap fixes I remember from childhood. There are oodles of easy cosmetic improvements to be made on almost any home built before the year 2000. Painting, especially. Painting is part of the fun when you get a new space of your own.

But as I stood in the kitchen last week and examined our dark, tiny rooms (it’s a starter house all right) and contemplated the back-breaking work, the decision making, the late evenings, the packing and unpacking, the dirty carpets and strange closets to be investigated…. I suddenly found myself bursting into tears. I cried for several minutes. Don’t ask me how long, exactly. Maybe two minutes. Maybe ten.

Then I settled into a sustained whine. I mumbled to myself as I opened drawers and cabinets. I pouted to myself about other opportunities lost, about other houses owned by other people, houses that didn’t smell and had reasonably sized dining rooms.

Suddenly I wasn’t even sure if befores and afters are all that great.

Granted, I’m pregnant. I’m in a weakened and vulnerable state. Perhaps I was just not myself that day.

But does that really explain it? Maybe the house did it to me, too. It broke me—for just a few minutes—before I had even gotten started. It hit me: I wasn’t in the market for a project. Not now. Not with a baby coming, and job, and winter on the way.

Just then, a friend stopped by to see our new purchase. Chipper and enthusiastic, she got the tour, chiming in with observations and exclamations. “Oh, how fun!” she concluded when we got to the last room. “A home of your own! And a project! We can pick your paint colors now!”

And I thought: Maybe this isn’t so bad after all.

My upbeat friend had set me to rights. What’s more, she had a little extra time the next day, and actually came to help me paint the first and second room. (This is what true friendship looks like, people.)

That night, we put in the first coat of primer, on one of the darkest rooms (more of that wood paneling!).  The next day, I picked the first paint color. The room was done by nightfall.

It was lovely. It was suddenly transformed. Bright! Airy! Crisp! The perfect place for all seven of our bookshelves! (my husband has a book problem)

My enthusiasm is baaack.

I can’t wait to rip the carpet up in the second bedroom and get to that original wood floor! Can’t wait to sand and paint the trim in every single room, to steam off that hideous wallpaper border, to paint the kitchen cabinets! Maybe I’ll even get ambitious and try this DIY concrete countertop thing I saw on Pinterest!

I’d blame the pregnancy completely for my foray into the new-house doldrums, but that wouldn’t be fair. If my childhood training serves me well, there’s one thing I know: a bad attitude is a bad attitude. And what do you do with a bad attitude?

You fix it.

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Welcome to Crafty Soutehrn Mama's How To Tueday!

The holidays are coming, they're coming!!!

I'm so excited!

One of my most favorite things to do during the holidays is craft,

and bake,

and shop,

and craft,

and eat...

oh, and craft!

Over the next few weeks I am going to be sharing some crafts, sewing tutorials and how to blog posts from holidays past. Be sure and bookmark my blog or follow me on Pinterest to see all the fun Christmas inspired goodness that I am going to share.

Today I'm sharing a simple tutorial that makes a GREAT GIFT.

It's simple, did I mention that?

Fabulous Moss Frames, perfect for a picture of people you love or a precious bible verse. These are timeless and always in season.

Hop over to the Crafty Southern Mama Blog for details and instructions.

I'm so glad you stopped by to visit me here on Wilson Living.

Happy crafting, friends!

Mwah,

Mandy

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girl with veggiesI started my day this morning with a blueberry and chia smoothie. For elevensies, I sat down to a plate of quinoa, kale, and cabbage. For second lunch, I enjoyed a bowl of almond/coconut milk chowder with wild-caught salmon.

That's right. Today is going to be a super day.

You can't troll around online for very long without stumbling across a list of items that somebody has labeled Superfood. "Ten Superfoods to Live Longer and Fight Fat!" "Five Superfoods For Glowing Skin!" "Seven Superfoods You Didn't Know About (and should be eating TODAY)!" "Three Superfoods That Will Bring Your Grandmother Back From the Dead!"

When you click into these food lists (unless you're on some site that is actually peddling goji berries or fish oil supplements), you'll find something remarkable: they're just vegetables. Really. They're just your good old fashioned vegetables, the ones mom tried to make you eat when you were a kid.

I just found one on webMD this morning, and do you know what was on there, the super-duper secret wonderfood formula for health and well being? Broccoli. Spinach. Oranges.

Are you serious, webMD? I need something exotic, here. I need something that will change me from the inside out (while allowing me to subsist on a desk-to-couch diet of chips and brownies and Bluebell ice cream). Eating a plain old-fashioned diet of meat, fish, nuts, yogurt, beans, vegetables, and fruits simply cannot be the most powerful and revolutionary way to get energy, sleep, good skin, good hair, healthy weight, and a breakneck libido. It can't be!

I want a magic seed that was used by the Aztecs for energy while they were hunting panthers in the jungle. I want a yogurt culture that's been growing in animal skins in Iran since 200 BC. I want a mushroom that melts fat directly off of my thighs and reassembles it in my lips. We're talking Superfoods, here. They're supposed to be super. Faster than a speeding bullet blender! More powerful than a laxative! Able to leap genetic predispositions in a single bound! I simply cannot accept that an ordinary diet with ordinary vegetables is going to be sufficient to keep me young and alive forever.

Oh, that's right. It's because they won't. Nothing will. These ordinary foods are now called Super simply for being real food. That only goes to show you how rare real food is, not how invincible you will be when you eat real food. Maybe those ordinary foods are super because they're the way people have been eating for thousands of years. Maybe these ordinary foods are super because they were designed to be sufficient for the job they've been given: feeding millions of ordinary people in a pleasant and satisfying way, since the world began. Maybe they're part of God's common grace to a whole bunch of terminal humans, who, no matter how much flaxseed we consume, are still going to die one day.

That's right. I'm sorry, Dr. Oz. We're going to live, we're going to experience sickness, and we're going to die. Superfood or no Superfood. Quinoa is no holy grail.

But in the meantime we should probably admit, as webMD suggests, that we'll have a much more productive and enjoyable time here if we cut down a bit on foods that come in shrinkwrap.

Somebody get me an apple.

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Posted by on in Coming Home

One of the favorite parts of my job is to choose a paint color scheme for someone- just gets my juices flowing.

But there is a whole lot more to choosing a paint color than just picking something that looks pretty.

You must choose colors that have the correct undertone to work with the "fixed" elements of a room.  And it must work with those elements in all lighting.  Morning light and afternoon light are completely different.  There's a word for that.  But I"ll save that for another post.

So.

Have you ever gone to a friend's home and gasped, "Oh my gosh!! I LOOOOVVVEEEE that color!!!  It would be perfect for my bedroom!!!  What is it???"  Your BFF says, "I know, right??  It's Brazillian Bark from XYZ Paint Company-- you simply must try it!" So off you go to XYZ Paint Company and promptly buy 5 gallons of Brazillian Bark and can't get home fast enough to slap it on your walls.  

But then.

You get it on your walls.

And you think you're gonna be sick.

I mean, like really, really sick. 

Not only because you just paid 69.99 per gallon for this fabulous new color, but because every time you look at your walls, you literally feel nauesous.  

That Brazillian Bark didn't work with the undertone in your floor, or your ceiling, or some architechtural detail.  These items are the "fixed" items in your room.  Items that won't change.

Your paint choice should accentuate the features of your room.  It should highlight them in such a way that you think, "Wow, I love the floors" or "Look at that fireplace, isn't it beautiful??"

See if you can tell what I mean.

Before:

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This color is actually competing with the floors.  Your eye doesn't know where to go first. 

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After- the new color brings out the beauty in the floors and the wood.  You don't notice the paint color, but the beutiful flooring and casings in the room.

So next time you're told, "This is the hottest new color- you gotta try it!"- make sure it works with the elements of your room first. If you're not sure, give me a call! 

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

You and Me and Baby makes 3Five days ago, my husband and I were absolutely convinced that we were having a boy.

Why? Oh, no reason. Just the fact that we both sort of wanted to start our family with a strapping older brother (rather than a bossy older sister—whoo! I know I just offended somebody… but see, both Justin and I have an older sister and should be excused for our prejudices). And the fact that two acquaintances casually said ‘hmm… I think you’re having a boy.’ And the fact that for every one girl name that we thought of, there were about ten boy names just begging to be used.

But did we have any actual, logical, medical evidence for suspecting that our four-month-old uterine blessing was male? Nope. Not a shred.

But somehow, by the time we drove into Mt. Juliet for an ultrasound appointment on Friday, we were using the pronoun ‘he’ pretty freely.

“Oh, yeah, I think I’ve felt him,” I would say without thinking when people asked whether the baby was kicking yet. “Did you hear that, buddy?” my husband would ask to my belly, when he got to a particularly funny part in Wind in the Willows, which we just happen to be reading together right now.

So understandably (though inexcusably), we were a bit surprised to hear the ultrasound tech say, with blunt certainty: “This here is a girl!”

A girl? I could hear my husband’s mental dialogue, as he smiled and held my hand. When did that happen?

A girl? I was thinking. How did I get that wrong?

We started to feel the excitement of changed expectations almost immediately after walking out of the imaging place.

“Oh man,” I said to Justin. “She’s gonna love you. And you’re going to go crazy about her.”

“I wonder if she’ll have crinkly hair, like you?” said Justin. “I hope so.”

That night at Providence, I picked up a pair of little pink shoes with bows on them. We carried them to my family’s house and made all my siblings do a little scavenger hunt, with the shoes waiting at the end. We started talking about names—all wonderful female characters from British lit that we’ve always liked, the family names, the great and feminine Greek, French, Italian names.

And at all of a sudden, we were simply in love with the idea of having a daughter.

But let’s all be honest here—this is pretty much a win-win situation. Either you have a girl, or you have a boy. Either way, you’ve got a little person, one who is made in the image of God, and who also looks curiously like one or both of you. The little person then becomes either a woman—awesome! Or a man—also awesome!

I love women, and I love men.

I like men because they’re such chummy people, uncomplicated and often very funny. They approach their food and their work in much the same way: total dedication. I like to hear a man’s point of view; it is usually different from mine, but almost always worth hearing. Smart men, slow men, bossy men, laid-back men, athletic men and bookworm men, there’s usually something to admire in each of them. Sure, men can also be boorish or braggadocious or cruel or just plain idiotic, but on the whole, I think they’re a great gender.

I like women because they’re so chatty, and so constantly interested in relating and tasting and making things pretty. Women are also so fun—they really know how to have a good laugh, and can usually run around getting everything done while also managing to be some combination of maternal, girly, in charge, and self-conscious. Some of the most sensible people I know are women; also some of the sweetest and most affectionate. Sure, they can also be catty, complicated, and dramatic, but on the whole, I think they’re a great gender.

So on the whole, my affection for Men as a whole and Women as a whole is pretty evenly split. But now that I know I’m supposed to start raising the latter, I’ve got a new set of goals to prepare.

It’s girl time.

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

By Angel Kane
ebola

Wilson Living Magazine

Neill and I sat transfixed, intensely listening to the Fox News correspondent speak. We knew this day would come.

Although my youngest is the spitting image of his father, he definitely carries a double dose of my side of the family's genes. That means when a crisis hits, be it a weather occurrence, an unprecedented dip in the Dow, or a health epidemic, he and I are the first to react.

My brother and I like to say that we come from a long line of alarmists.  So, our ability to immediately become transfixed on any sign of possible danger goes centuries back in our DNA structure.

Our spouses scoff and our friends make fun, but to this day, our uncanny ability to sense danger miles ahead, has resulted in four decades without a broken bone, hospital stay or anything more than a cough!

When Ebola comes this way - few will survive, so as I see it, you are either going to be with me or against me.

As the Fox correspondent explained the details of Ebola having reached our borders, I started making a mental checklist: canned goods, hand sanitizer, face masks, batteries,

chocolate, flashlight, bunker.

All very doable but for the bunker, which with every crisis, is always my Achilles heel.

But although we do not have a bunker we do live far out in the country, which is basically a bunker.

"We'll be ok Neill. We have a creek so you and daddy can fish for food and we will live off the land. We'll be fine."

"Live off the land? You don't even cook!" remarked my eldest who carries only Kane genes. Calm, cool, collected....she can be extremely annoying at times.

Neill and I just turned up the television volume, as we didn't need any commentary from someone who obviously hadn't watched the movie "Contagion" as many times as we had.

We continued to watch and listen as the correspondent explained the symptoms of Ebola: body aches, chills, fever and vomiting. I tried not to panic.

While I had yet to experience chills, fever and vomiting, I couldn't deny I was feeling a little achy.

"Madison, go get my i-Pad, I need to google what they mean by body aches."

"You are not serious. How many Liberians have you come in contact with in Lebanon?"

And while she definitely had a point....my ancestral gene pool had not come this far to be thwarted by rational thinking and common sense.

"And while you're at it, bring me a pen. Neill and I are staying in tonight to start on our list of ... who is with us or against us!"

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Hello there, blogging friends!

I'm so tickled that you stopped by to visit.

Put your aprons on today & get those little darlings in the kitchen...

we're going to whip up something fun!

I REALLY love caramel apples...

it's true!

So do my kids!

Almost every year we make a batch of these.

They are so messy and yummy...

and just really fun to make together!

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_1999.JPG

Since Halloween Goodness in FULL swing,

I thought it would be fun to show you how we have made them in the past.

Please hop over to the mother ship to read more of this yummy post:

Crafty Southern Mama Blog

I'm so excited that you stopped by to see me here.

Thank you, Wilson Living Magazine for including Crafty Southern Mama on your blog list.

Wishing y'all a spooky pre-Halloween weekend,

Mandy

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home-ownershipMy husband and I are closing on our first home today.

This means that we have just dropped further into debt than we’ve ever been in our lives (we both squeaked through higher education with the great blessing of low/no student debt, and paid it off feverishly within the first year). This APR business makes us a little nervous, although we try to reassure each other regularly with lines like: “everybody does it” and “we’re too old to be renting—what are we, millennials?” (We are.)

At the same time, this new noose of mortgaged responsibility is apparently our final step into what sociologists call the ‘hallmarks of adulthood’.

Hallmarks of adulthood (this is a list of steps into maturity that experts say our generation is putting off longer than any other in American history):

  • Completed education
  • Self-supporting employment
  • Marriage
  • Children
  • Home ownership

Our little family is bagging the final two hallmarks this year.

I could go into all the reasons why people our age are dragging their feet so disgracefully, and why Justin and I actually have exceptional reasons, but the facts won’t change. For one reason or another, it’s just taken this long, and here we are: in our late 20s and 30s, just stumbling into steps our grandparents had down by the age of 18.

In the process of shopping and committing, we've discovered all sorts of things that you just don’t know until you take the plunge and buy a home.  I wish there was a Homeownership 101 or Homeownership for Dummies that we could go through, but I think we'll just have to ask around and figure it out by trial and error.

Things we don’t know about owning a home:

  1. Why did people ever stop building homes with wood floors? It seems like all everybody ever wants these days is wood floors. “Does it have original wood floors?” “If you take up the carpet, are there wood floors under there?” “Are they ORIGINAL WOOD FLOORS?"

    My question is, why are there any houses anywhere without wood floors? Who invented parquet, and why weren’t they shot, since all anybody wants are wood floors? Who are all the people in the 70s and 80s who were putting down ugly carpet over wood floors, and did they do it on purpose just in order to give later homeowners a nice surprise? Surely they knew that carpet was ugly.
     
  2. Why is it that when you haggle on the asking price, sometimes you throw in a few thousand more dollars, but ask for them to pay closing costs? Is it that we think we’re going to trick them? Like they don’t know how much closing costs are? Or is it just sort of a trick that everybody knows about and politely pretends not to see?

    Is this haggling trick the mind-game equivalent of pricing items at $1.99 instead of $2.00?
     
  3. What, exactly, is the point of closing early and building an extra two weeks into the contract, where the seller can live in the property after it’s been transferred? Why don’t we just close two weeks later?

  4. How do other people’s houses get to smell so strange? Should I be worried about the way their houses smell, or should I assume that—like other people’s babies—the smell is just indigenous to the family and not necessarily permanent?

  5. Why do they even offer earthquake coverage in Tennessee?

  6. What exactly is the difference between a home inspection and an appraisal? Why do I get to hire one and not the other?

  7. Should I be worried that this roof is ten years old? Should I be worried that the HVAC is ten years old? Different agents tell me different life-spans! What if I have to replace it in two years? Should I have included a new-roof request in the contract and added a few grand to my offer? Is this the mind-game equivalent of new cars being sold with cash-back bonuses? Aaaagh!

  8. What is the etiquette of working with real estate agents? Is it sort of like prom-date etiquette?

    e.g., If you go see the house with the selling agent, does that mean your own agent has to enter the home with you in order to be considered ‘the agent’ and to get that other whatever-percent-it-is? Does it matter that they’re already your agent, and have been all along?

    If your boyfriend is out of town and can’t take you to the prom, can you still take a friend as a date, so long as everyone understands that you and your boyfriend are still going steady, and he sends you flowers?

  9. Is it better to buy a nice house in a cheap county with a low tax rate, or a rough house in an expensive county with a high tax rate? What would Monopoly say? Can’t… remember… investments… Boardwalk… St. Charles Place…?

  10. Should I be putting my money into the NASDAQ instead of real estate? What is the NASDAQ?
     
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Posted by on in The Perfect Grape

When I go out to dinner and order wine I hope that the wine I order compliments the food. The nights that I cook and I bring home a bottle of wine I try to pair it with the meal. After all, food and wine are friends who are meant to be together. They bring out the best in eachother. When wine is paired with food well with food it makes all the difference. Whether the dinner is for two or two hundred I like for things to taste good. No one wants to disappoint their guests. 

Ensuring that you have the proper pairing means understanding that the profile of the wine should compliment the food. An example of this is a good Sauvignon Blanc and a salad with vinegarette dressing. The acid in the wine stands up to the acidity of the dressing. Often the mineral characteristics in a white wine such as a Muscadet will compliment a dish with mineral tones such as raw oysters. Baked buttery oysters might prefer a buttery wine such as an oaky Chardonnay.

Last Saturday night we had a wine dinner out on the lake. Luckily the following pairings were slam dunks. We started with mixed greens with lemon vinegarette. The chosen wine for this dish was Broken Dreams Chardonnay from Slo Down Wines. This dry, full- bodied Chardonnay has nice notes of tropical fruit and lemon zest. Lemon plus lemon equals success. The second course, a mushroom tart with gouda cheese was paired with a red blend called Oakley. This Syrah, Petit Syrah and Barbera blend is a true value blend from Sonoma County. It's got a little bit of everything including 3% Pinot Noir. The strong cheese complimented the wine bringing out the fruit. The dinner was a Zinfandel and Zinfandel blend themed dinner. Oakley qualified with a tiny 3% Zinfandel in it's blend. The winemakers even put a handy pull away food pairing chart on the back of the bottle. Next we served braised short ribs with root vegetables. I always love short ribs as there are a variety of wines to pair with these babies. I practically order these any time I see them on a menu. We chose the Zinphomaniac from Lodi to sip with the short ribs. Lodi is an iconic Zinfandel producing region in Central California. This wine brings loads of jammy black fruit with a touch of pepper and spice. We rounded out the dinner with ever popular Zinfandel, Syrah and Petit Syrah blend, Sexual Chocolate. This wine will make you blush or flush but it's chocolate notes and supple tannins never fail to please. Dessert was simple- chocolates in a martini glass. And yes, chocolate can and does pair with wine.

Dinner was a success. The key to the success was choosing the wines after tasting them with the food to be served. Thanks to Gina and Jim Stradley and Chef Julio for their patience and hard work.  

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Last post, I promised to give you some "behind the scenes shots" of our column's photo shoot for the September/ October issue.  

We styled three beautiful fall tables and I wanted to share them with you in a bit more detail.  

BUT.

My photos are too large to post to the blog....and with computer technology NOT being my strong suit, I am unable to resize them correctly.

As soon as I'm able to do that, I will post them.

Until then, I thought I'd share a little before and after of a paint project we completed a couple of months ago.  (If you follow me on Facebook, you've already seen this, so you can stop reading here, LOL!)

I never get to complete things in my own home, but it had really gotten past time for new paint.  Along with the walls, ceiling, and trim, I wanted to paint my brick fireplace and hearth.  

Hubby was against it.  

Forgiveness/ Permission.

I will go for forgiveness every time.  (You can do that after 23+ years.)

Just ask him next time you see him about the morning he woke up and there was a hole in the roof.  A BIG hole.

(Being married to a contractor has it's drawbacks perks!)

We REALLY needed some dormer windows. 

But that's another story.

So- I decided to paint the brick after long thought.  

Here is the after.

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I also carried the color over to my french doors. It helps define the space better, and lets you know that they are part of this room, and not the kitchen.

That's the beauty of paint.  

A huge difference for a small cost.  

And if you tire of it, it's easy to change.

Just be sure you know the undertones of the colors you are considering, and be sure they compliment (and not contrast) with the fixed elements of the room.  And if you need help deciding, give me a call...

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Houzz!

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

yeson1

You’ve probably noticed those pink Yes on 1 and blue No on 1 signs on the side of the road by now. Still wondering what they mean?

Here’s a brief rundown of this hotly debated amendment to the Tennessee constitution, which will be on the ballot in this November 4 election (early voting starts today). We originally gathered this information for a piece in Wilson Living Magazine, but the timing of publication was so close to the end of voting that we decided against the print version. Here it is for you, at a more convenient time!

If you already know the basics, skip this and scroll down to hear what the No on 1 and Yes on 1 camps have to say.


  • 1973: With Roe v. Wade, abortion was made legal throughout the U.S.
  • 1973-2000: Tennessee passed multiple guidelines for the abortion industry. These included provisions for informed consent, a two day waiting period between first office visits and the performance of abortions, and second trimester abortions being performed at a hospital.
  • 2000: In Planned Parenthood v. Sundquist, the TN Supreme Court struck down most of these abortion regulations, saying that the constitution contained a fundamental right to privacy, and that all abortion procedures fall under this umbrella. Because of that, they said, Tennessee could only pass very narrow restrictions on abortions.
  • 2000: One member of the Supreme Court, William Barker, wrote a long dissent to the ruling, which he had voted against. He told NPR recently that “the majority had invented a law that wasn’t there.” In the document, he said that the only way to reverse the ruling would be to amend the wording of the constitution to make it explicit that the stated fundamental right to privacy does not refer to abortion practices.
  • 2000-2014: Tennessee has the most relaxed abortion regulations in this region of the US. 1 in 4 abortions performed here are on women from other states.
  • 2011: The proposed Amendment 1 passes in TN Legislature, 11 years after a version of it is first drafted by a TN Senator. It has to wait for the next governor election to be passed or rejected by the people of Tennessee.
  • Wording is added to the amendment that explicitly addresses cases of rape and incest, ostensibly to ensure that the constitution will revert to complete neutrality. The amendment does not make abortion illegal in these or any other cases—and cannot, because of Roe v. Wade. However, it does make it possible for elected representatives to pass legislation regarding abortion.
  • 2014: The amendment is on the ballot for the November 4 election.

Here is the full wording of Amendment 1:

Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.

Note: The amendment is one of four that will be on the ballot. In order to pass, it will require a majority of those voting on the amendment, as well as a majority of all the total votes cast in the governor’s race (for example, if 2,000,000 people vote for any candidate in governor election, at least 1,000,0001 ‘yes’ votes would be needed to pass an amendment).

Op-ed pieces provided by opposing campaigns


Vote No on Amendment 1

-Provided by the ‘No on 1’ Campaign

On Election Day, Tennesseans will vote on Amendment 1, a ballot initiative that would grant state legislators the ability to pass unlimited restrictions on abortion. Passage of this amendment would open the door to burdensome, medically unnecessary barriers to access. Amendment 1 is a dangerous proposition that is purposely confusing to trick voters and disguise the true intent.

At its core, Amendment 1 is about privacy. It would take away our right to make medical decisions free from government interference. When we make medical decisions, we consult our doctors, our family, and our faith. Not our government. No government has the right to make your healthcare decisions for you. Keep government out of the exam room.

Amendment 1 would not just impact access to abortion. It would open the floodgates to government interference in our other parts of our private lives—like marriage and child rearing. Amendment 1 is an assault on Tennessee families’ privacy rights with far reaching consequences on thousands of laws. If we give government an inch, they’ll take everything. Amendment 1 just goes too far.

Politicians in support of Amendment 1 argue that it gives them power to regulate abortions and keep women safe. But the language currently in the constitution does nothing to stop medically necessary regulation. While these politicians have claimed they were powerless to pass abortion laws, they actually passed several over the past decade—including one requiring doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Amendment 1 does not come down to being pro-life or pro-choice. It comes down to protecting our rights. Even if you do not agree with abortion, we can all agree that government interference in our private medical decisions is wrong. Amendment 1 is government overreach at its worst. You do not have to be pro-choice to agree that Amendment 1 goes too far.

This is why people all over Tennessee oppose Amendment 1. We all have to make difficult decisions during our life—some of them right and some of them wrong—and we live with the consequences of those decisions. We make these choices with our families and our faith, and we do the best we can. We were all given the ability to make decisions and it is not for us to judge others. These decisions are not for government to make on our behalf.   

This dangerous amendment is wrong for Tennessee women and their families. Whether it is to protect exceptions in devastating circumstances, stop government interference, or keep our privacy rights, we all have a reason to vote against Amendment 1. Please vote “No” when you go to the polls.

 


Vote Yes on Amendment 1

-Provided by the ‘Yes on 1’ Campaign


By State Senator Mae Beavers

As a state legislator who is proud to represent our great state each and every day, there is one label synonymous with Tennessee of which I am not proud: abortion destination.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, Tennessee currently ranks 3rd in the nation in of out-of-state abortions, with one in every four abortions being sought by an out-of-state female. 

Yet, I am part of an overwhelming majority of Tennesseans who believe in the dignity and sanctity of human life, and who support policies to protect abortion-vulnerable girls and women, such as providing them with practical support and resources.

I was also proud to serve as the prime sponsor of the legislation placing Amendment 1 on the ballot for public vote this November.  Amendment 1 was brought out of deep concern that common sense protections for women in Tennessee have been stripped away by an activist judiciary without the consent of the people.

In a 2000 ruling, the Tennessee Supreme Court claimed abortion to be a fundamental right, elevating it to the same level as other rights such as the right to assemble, worship, or bear arms.  As a result, our protections for abortion are even greater than those proscribed by the United States Supreme Court, and have caused common sense safeguards to be struck down by state courts.  Those previous safeguards included ensuring that those considering abortion have more information about the gestational age, development and characteristics of their unborn child, knowledge of the potential physical and psychological risks of the abortion, and resources available to assist them during pregnancy.

A 48-hour waiting period was also struck down which allowed women and girls to consider all the information available and to protect against coerced abortions. Similarly, requirements that later-term abortions be performed in regulated hospital environments were struck down, and abortion facilities were made exempt from certain licensure and inspection requirements.

Unless Amendment 1 is passed, it is possible that Tennessee tax-payers could be required to fund abortions, as they are in some states. The argument is made that a so-called ‘fundamental right’ is meaningless if a woman is unable to pay the cost to exercise it. 

In essence, Tennessee has become an abortion-on-demand state and an abortion destination.

Yet, contrary to the claims of pro-abortion activists, Amendment 1 will not ban any abortion under any circumstance. According to federal rulings under Roe v Wade, there is no state which can ban abortion. In reality, passage of Amendment 1 does not enact any particular policy or law except to restore our Tennessee Constitution to neutrality as it relates to abortion.

This is a historic opportunity for Tennessee voters to make their voices heard and I encourage visiting www.yeson1.org to educate yourself and your family on this issue. Please vote YES on Amendment 1 so that the people – and not the courts – can again have the final say to “enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion” in our great state.

 

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

swearEverybody has their favorite. Be it, heck, darn, or &^%$#, there is something to be said about being able to express yourself with just one word.

One fabulous, mind blowing, descriptive word that tells the world how you... REALLY, REALLY FEEL.

I, for one, have no problem with almost any word. As I explain to all who take issue with my word usage...'I was an English major, with a concentration in British Literature. I'm classically trained to use the English language in all sorts of ways.'

A line I first used on my dad after he had just paid for four years of college. Boy, you should have heard the words he used... and he wasn't even classically trained like I was!

But most everybody also has that invisible line in their bad word lexicon that they won't cross.

Mine is *&(^%.

No matter how mad I might be, I don't ever use THAT word.

Becky uses it.  A bunch.

She knows I don't. Ever.

A fact that brings her perverse pleasure, often using the word over and over until I crack!

For whatever reason, to me, that word sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. I cringe, wince and look physically pained when anyone uses it. Which is odd, considering very little else offends me.

But like many things, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. This is a point I may have finally reached.  My 14 year old reminds me daily now that "Hello?? There are children in the room."

My co-workers are at that point as well, instituting a potty-mouth jar requiring anyone who uses an offensive word to pay up. Upon being told about the jar, I proceeded to inform them what they could do with their silly jar but didn't use the word "silly," instead I came up with a much more flowery word... which promptly cost me $2.00!

"Who made you the *&*^% police?" I asked.

That one cost me $5.00.

And now even my husband has chimed in, informing me that my expert use of the English language is bordering on verbal abuse.

So from this point forward, I'm going on a bad word fast. Instead I'll be limiting myself to 'gosh darn', 'for pete's sake' or 'fudge'.

Just knowing this, however, causes me extreme anxiety.

I fear without 'my words' I won't be able to fully explain how that driver cut me off, how that supermom wears me out or how very, very badly my toe hurts.

Just listen...

'Gosh darn, my toe hurts', doesn't quite depict the excruciating pain I feel whenever Neill nails my pinkie toe while wearing his soccer cleats. Whereas '&%$#!!!  my toe!' succinctly encapsulates all that I am feeling and more.

But for the sake of all those I live and work with, I'm going to give this fast a shot.

One question, do 'flowery' words in a foreign language count? I only ask because Spanish was my minor, so technically, I'm trained in those words too.

To read more of Telling Tales or other Wilson Living Magazine blogs by our other writers go to www.wilsonlivingmagazine.com

 

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

As of Thursday, September 25th I’ve been on this earth four decades. That day usually gives me the opportunity to reflect. 40 seems so grown up. 40 is the deadline for having your life in order. Over the years I’ve looked to friends in their 40’s as my own personal Dalai Lama; full of wisdom and experts at living a life full of intent. But the closer I inched to this decade the more I began to realize it wasn’t that all of my Dalai Lama’s were given the wisdom gene much like someone born with red hair or freckles. Instead they embraced the “what is” and tossed the “never will be.” They didn’t, like I assumed, wake up on the first day of their 40th year with a brand new perspective that was delivered while they slept. They learned through trial and error, just like me and eventually my children will. Sometimes it takes a 40 something’s opinion or insight to make people realize that just because Sarah Jessica Parker is wearing it doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for you. And while there’s plenty of mistakes in my future, I wanted to share a list of a few of the lessons I’ve learned as a helpful guide for my children.

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