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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

medical staffI’m in a unique position—my prenatal care provider, one of a group of midwives who deliver at Vanderbilt, has actually requested a birth plan from me. I’m surprised by this. My impression has always been that hospitals hate birth plans, that they laugh at you behind their hands when you come in with a list of demands like that. I’ve even heard that birth plans carry a sort of extra c-section risk—something about karma, they say.

But she said ‘bring us a birth plan to have on file’ so I wrote a birth plan. I’ve decided that Ideal Labor is the only option for me, so I wrote the birth plan to reflect that.

 

The Ideal Labor Birth Plan


Mother: Tilly Dillehay

Father: Justin Dillehay

Due date: March 20

-When we arrive at the hospital, I’d like to be wearing my favorite Gap pajama top and pants, which are super soft and will photograph well when my sisters dodge in and out of the room and start Instagramming. I’d like to have my hair and makeup done (waterproof mascara), but hair up and out of the way like a real mom, and I’d like to have a sort of ‘hey, this is tough but also exciting’ glow about me.

-While I’m laboring, I’d like to have the full Panera menu available to me at any given time. I tend to get hungry when I’m doing something physically taxing, and those soups and salads are so perfectly light and refreshing (but also filling).

-I’d like to have the lights dim and music playing. The music should be a mix of Aretha Franklin ‘I’m a woman, hear me roar’ power songs and soothing, intelligent tracks, a la Sufjan Stevens. No Sam Smith, as I don’t want my child to learn to be whiny from an early age, and no pop, because I don’t want her to develop ADHD. Classical is also permissible (of course, although obviously I’ve been administering intrauterine classical music since the beginning of this pregnancy).

-My mother will be present in the room, and she and I will chat alternately about breastfeeding (she’ll get me caught up and ready to go when the little angel makes her appearance) and her latest home renovation project. My husband and I will chat comfortably about the classic novel that I’m in the middle of (I’ll have it with me in the room and get a few chapters read between contractions, at least until transition). He and I will also make little jokes about how ‘he got me into this mess’, but I’ll pat his arm reassuringly to let him know everything’s okay. My friends and other family members will pass conveniently in and out of the room as they arrive at the hospital, and I’ll greet them all with a smile.

-I would like as few pelvic exams as possible during labor. If possible, nurses should develop another way of measuring the progress of dilation; perhaps there’s an app for that?

-Intermittent monitoring is a must, and I will not tolerate needles in my arm. Since I will have no need for pain medication (the pain will be just enough to make me respect the power of the human body but not enough to cause me undue desperation), I will also require no needles anywhere in the vicinity of my back.

-I would like to wear a nice black bikini for when I’m laboring in the shower or the tub, because it kind of weirded me out when all of those ladies were laboring naked in The Business of Being Born. I will be happy to deliver the actual baby in a hospital gown, after all of the aforementioned costume changes have been made throughout labor.

-I plan to use the following methods of pain management: acupuncture, deep breathing, that workout where you hang from the ceiling in fabric slings and do gymnastics, eating Ben and Jerrys Cherry Garcia, calling my friend Karen and telling her that labor isn’t that bad, watching Seinfeld, getting somebody else to use one of those spider head massagers on me (works better than if you do it yourself), yoga, massage, reflexology, Jedi mind powers, talking about my feelings, and craughing (laughing and crying simultaneously).  

-When the baby is born, I would like only my husband to be present, and maybe a midwife if she insists. This is a private moment between the two of us.

-I would like all hospital staff to be at the ready, just outside the door, in case something goes wrong or my husband forgets the scissors and can’t cut the cord.  

-Birth position will be either crouching, on hands and knees, standing, or standing like the kid in Karate Kid when he’s on the rock and about to switch legs. I value spontaneity and would like to be able to choose between these positions and any others when the time comes.

-Please do not let anyone hand me a mirror when the baby is crowning, because that’s not what I want to see when I look in a mirror. Also, I don’t want to help catch the baby; I’ll already be doing a lot of the work and it doesn’t seem fair to give me the one job that the ‘catcher’ has.

-I would like to practice ‘skin on skin’ and hold baby immediately after the birth (but will the baby still have that stuff all over it?). Baby should latch immediately for a ‘practice suckle’ and then get into a schedule before we leave the hospital.

-After the birth, I’d like baby to room in with me and my husband, and to be taken away only for cleaning and ‘certified organic’ stamping. Any friends and family who have taken the trouble of coming by should be allowed in to say hello to the baby; I don’t plan to be too tired and I will still have all my makeup and hair in place. 

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

coffeeDear Starbucks:

I am writing this letter as I would like to lodge a formal complaint.

First, I would like it noted in your corporate records that I was probably one of your biggest fansever! Was being the operative word here.

You can't imagine my excitement when I heard you were coming to town. For years I've only been able to partake of your mouthwatering temptations on my infrequent trips to the Target in Mt. Juliet or when visiting out of town friends who took you for granted.  No matter the city, if I heard you were there I undoubtedly paid you a visit. And like any good stalker, I have the mug collection and Selfies to prove it.

To think you were going to grace our town with a full fledged store was the biggest news to hit Lebanon since Chick-fil-A came to town!

And since your doors have opened I've been a loyal fan. Probably dare I say your Number #1 fan. Just ask your employees, both the morning shift and evening shift, as I begin and end most days with a warm cup of your heaven in my hands. 

I'm not sure what it is about that aroma but I can't get enough of it. That sweet smell of coffee coupled with a hint of uptown, big city...let's be real I am never going to live in Chicago so this is about the closest I will ever get to being a hip, cool, latte drinking power player... and I have been hooked since my very first sip! 

And so it began on the first day your Lebanon store opened with my usual, a Grande White Chocolate Mocha and then after a few weeks, I stepped it up a notch to a Double Chocolate Java Chip Frappuccino (for those non-aficionados, that would be an incredibly chocolatey, coffee flavored ice cream shake with whipped creme and chocolate shavings on top, also known as... a token of God's love.)

Then the holidays came around and I became addicted to your Pumpkin Spice Latte followed by your Caramel Creme Brûlée Latte, and, of course, then your top selling,  holiday favorite, the world-renowned Chestnut Praline Latte.

It was all going so well.

Before work I would grab a drink and savor it all morning at my desk. I honestly think it made me look much more official. After work, I'd grab a cup to sip on the long road home, up 231 North (well not that long, but it's all relative in this town isn't it?).

On weekends, I would run in wearing my yoga pants and ball cap, as if I were going for my weekly run in Central Park. I wasn't... not even for a short stroll at Don Fox Park. But that was our little secret.

It was all so grown up, so civilized. (And right about now if my husband is reading this and working the math... yes, I spent a lot of money on my little addiction but since I don't get my nails done and rarely go shopping, you can put your calculator away and we can talk about this later.) 

Not that it matters anymore, because I'm writing to tell you... it's over!

On Sunday January 25, I got on the scale.

It seems that one thing you failed to share with your Number #1 fan is that macchiatos, cappuccinos, and expressos are just big fancy words for... I'm going to make you fat drinks! 

Therefore, it is with deep regret that I must inform you that I no longer will be gracing your store with my presence. (And just because you list the calorie content by each drink doesn't excuse you... who the heck would believe you can gain ten pounds from drinking coffee!)

 

Sincerely,   

Your ex-Number #1 fan                    

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

bedI have bed bugs.

Not a lot of them, apparently; just a few. The pest control guy I called in yesterday assured me of that. But in my brief experience, bed bugs are like garlic cloves in a wedding cake: one is all it takes to ruin everything.

It’s only been five nightmarish nights since the little clusters of insanely-itchy bite marks started appearing on my ankles, knees, and hips. Only five nights of waking up at one a.m. on the dot, scratching myself awake and realizing with horror: ‘that one feels new’. Only a couple of evenings where things got bad enough for me to take a bath, change clothes, move to the couch to finish the night.

But there’s something about this experience that haunts your waking hours. The concept of bed bugs, let’s face it, is creepy. It’s unsettling.

This is a foe that you can’t see. It literally hides out near your place of sleep, waits for you to get into really deep REM, and searches you out by tracking the CO2 you emit when you breathe. Then it finds you, numbs you, and takes some of your blood, and makes off with it before you know anything has happened.

My husband and I couldn’t figure out why I was the only one getting bitten—he’s been waking up completely untouched. We even briefly got online and did searches for pregnancy related rashes (that was a mistake; don’t Google that). But the rash theory just didn’t add up; it seemed so clear that I was getting just a few extra bites per night, and that all the hallmarks said ‘bedbug’.

So why were they leaving him alone? 

The pest control guy finally cleared this up, in the creepiest way possible.

“They usually stay about 20 feet from their host,” he said, in the middle of explaining the procedure for killing them. “They like to be close to the feeding site.”

“Their host?” I said. My husband coughed and looked at me sympathetically.

“What’s the host?” I asked again.

“That’s you,” said the pest guy. “You’re the host. Bed bugs have a preferred person to feed on, and they’ll leave other people alone until there’s enough of them that they get hungry.”

WHAAAAAT? This whole situation has officially graduated to horror movie status.

There are unseen predators. You know they’re there. You know they know where you are (because they know your pheromones!?!), and furthermore, you know that they have marked you out specifically because your blood is the only thing that will satisfy them. Nope, not your husband’s blood… your blood.

You cannot escape—waking or sleeping—no matter where you go—they could be waiting.

It’s making me edgy, anxious. I wake up relieved that the night is over, tiptoeing around my house like Naomi Watts in The Ring. What was that? Did you feel that? Is that a piece of lint on the pillow, or is it THE THING THAT’S HUNTING ME?

Before he left last night, though, the kindly pest control guy did say a few comforting things.

“Honestly, I’d love to get your business,” he said. “But you really don’t have a bad problem here. There are some things you could do yourselves that would probably take care of them.” He hadn’t been able to get a visual on even one bug, and although he identified the bite marks and the other signs as positively indicating a bed bug presence, was sure there couldn’t be many.

“You probably just brought or two in yourselves,” he said. “Take any trips lately?” We’d just come back from a weekend trip to Louisville.

The rest of the evening found Justin and I making homemade CO2 traps (Justin was a good sport and tireless worker, considering the fact that he wasn’t the one with the targeted blood). I was in the kitchen, activating yeast and arranging these contraptions out of water bottles and straws and kitchen glasses (it felt a little like cooking meth). Justin was in the bedroom, making this kind of plastic sheet bedbug guard.  The plastic, over your mattresses, cut to within two inches of the floor, traps them in, and they can’t climb up the slick surface to get to you. The bed has to be pulled away from the walls because they’ll climb them if they have to. During these other projects, we were also putting all our bedding and a good bit of clothing through the dryer, per the bug man’s instructions (heat above 140 degrees kills them).

We came out feeling really proactive, almost like warriors. We were victors over the invisible world of the bedbug, navigators of the unnavigable. Last night, I didn’t wake up with new bites. I slept through and woke in my own bed, feeling safe again.  I like to imagine the bugs like the ones in those pest commercials, thwarted and fuming (and eventually dead, if the CO2 traps work). Where is she? We HAD her. We were getting regular meals again! Now what? She’s got some kind of force-field up there!

Now we just need to address the mole problem in the back yard.

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

peach matte effect

I want to meet my baby.

Last week I bought a little stack of newborn onesies while I was as Target registering for baby items. Delicate pinks and white with polka dots. One of them has a monkey on it. “I love my daddy,” it says. Another has a little embroidered baby monkey, frolicking with a larger female monkey which I believe is supposed to be me.

I bought them over a week ago, but instead of tucking them into the Baby Box with other collected odds and ends, I laid them on the arm of my living room couch. I keep them there because every time I pass them, a little jolt of joy goes through me. Something about them makes it all seem so REAL.

I told my husband about this and now he too gives them a little acknowledgement as he passes—a smile, a pat. We grin at each other and keep doing whatever we were doing.

Part of the reason why these onesies have made such an impression in my mind is that at about the time I bought them, I’d just found something called ‘belly mapping’ online.

Apparently, other pregnant mothers have also asked the question: “What on earth is kicking me right now?” I’d been asking several related questions for a while. “What body part is it that keeps punching me in the ribs?” “What the heck is that one bulge that keeps showing up again and again to the left of my belly button?” “Where is her HEAD?”

Thankfully, the bottomless curiosity/time wasting capabilities of the pregnant community means that there are answers to these questions online. You can map your belly into quadrants, then use the movement patterns you’re seeing and feeling to figure out where the little thing is located (for now).

Looks like my baby is head-down (good), and she is doing a bit of a bottom-out twerk against my belly button. Her feet are somewhere back-in-there, pointed at my ribs, and on the whole, she’s just where a child of 31 weeks should be.

When I put all this together (and had it confirmed by the doc, the same day I bought the onesies), something just snapped into place for me.

You mean—that’s her bottom? Right there? That’s her head? She’s HOW LONG? She’s upside down? She’s sitting right here, right now, and in a month or two she’s going to be big enough to fill out these tiny onesies? Then she’s going to come OUT?

Like a six-year-old having the wonder of pregnancy and birth explained to them for the first time, I was entranced.

At about the same time, I had a couple of dreams featuring the baby. This has been the case since the beginning—weird pregnancy dreams, very common—but these were different. They weren’t breastfeeding nightmares or surreal sagas about being safely delivered of a Teletubby. These were about HER. I woke from two or three of them with a distinct (though perhaps false) impression of a small face, a small personality. For the first time, the word daughter makes sense to me. It doesn’t feel like I’m playing some kind of pretend game.  

I can’t believe it, but she’s real and this is happening.

The nursery just got painted (‘Toasted Coconut,’ with an accent wall of fat gray horizontal stripes—even though a decorating blog informed me that “stripes are out”) and the first baby shower is in just a few weeks. But it’s all about those onesies for me. It’s the onesies that I keep on the arm of the couch to glance at as I go about my business. It’s her little belly that’ll fill those onesies out, her little legs that’ll get snapped in, her little head that’ll pass through that envelope-style fold at the neck.

And I just can’t wait to meet her. 

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laundrySo the conversation went something like this....

Neill: "Madison, can you pass me a knife?"

Madison: "What do you need a knife for?"

Neill: "To cut my tomato."

Disgruntled, overworked, overburdened teenager: "You don't need to dirty a knife for that! Here, take your fork and use it as a knife. You just put it on its side and saw into the tomato. I'm so tired of washing dishes and cups and knives and forks! For the rest of the day everyone is using paper plates and solo cups!"

Ahhh the joys of the never-ending Kane chore list....

Every few months we change up the chore list. And not because my children have perfected their respective chore of washing dishes, putting up clean clothes or feeding the dogs.

No, the chore list is swapped because I can't take one more chipped plate, one more pair of basketball socks showing up in my dresser drawer or one more dog falling into the pool in their attempt to quench their thirst.

Usually by the time swap day rolls around, the chore list has become but a mere suggestion of what my children could be doing... if they so chose to do... so long as they had nothing better to do.

So as Neill and Madison wrestled over the knife that Neill was desperately trying to move towards his plate, with his sister continuing to hold him back with one arm while sawing into his tomato with his fork... I called SWAP DAY!

Now swap day traditionally only brings joy to one Kane child, because as everyone who has ever done chores knows...washing dishes and feeding dogs doesn't hold a candle to... putting up clothes.

Clothes that belong to five people.

Three of whom consider anything that has been worn once, tried on but not worn out of the house, or recently purchased but not yet on the hanger... an item that warrants being thrown in the dirty clothes' basket.

Needless to say, when swap day hit this Sunday, Zoe could not have been happier. Neill and Madison, on the other hand, made an insincere attempt to convince me they were no longer mortal enemies, in a joint effort to keep Zoe confined to the depths of hell... a.k.a., the person in charge of laundry.

So I doled out the new list. Madison would now be in charge of clothes and Zoe would now be in charge of dishes.

Madison: "Wait. Why is Neill still in charge of the dogs? They are all starving because he never feeds them and that is the easiest job on the whole list! He never gets any other chore. I mean, I was just trying to teach him something. Every 12-year-old boy should know how to cut something with a fork and now I'm being punished and he isn't!"

And mind you, she did have a point.

But as any good parent knows, the chore list is not just a list of chores we want our children to one day master. No, first and foremost it is a list of chores we, as parents, do not want to ever do again, so long as we have a child living in our home.

And if I gave the chore of putting up clothes or washing dishes to Neill, well...it would just defeat the point of the chore list.

Me: "Well, you shouldn't have been fighting over a knife."

Madison: "That doesn't even make sense!"

Me: "One day when you have children it will and while you are at it, add downloading some Michael Buble to my iPhone to your list of chores today."

I do so love the chore list...

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Posted by on in Easily Pleased

seinfeld

I recently had a couple of sick days. I used this couch time very productively—watching episode after episode of Seinfeld, from a boxed set I got for Christmas.

If you want to know how bad things got, this should tell you: I ended up watching the behind the scenes documentaries every time I came across one, just to slow myself down. Not only was I watching Seinfeld, Kramer, Elaine, and George talk about nothing, in the end I spent a substantial amount of time watching Larry David and Seinfeld, Kramer, Elaine, and George talk about Seinfeld, Kramer, Elaine, and George and the nothing they talk about.

During one episode, in the Notes About Nothing (this is like a subtitle commentary you can turn on or off during each episode—another sign that I’ve gotten in too deep), they quoted Seinfeld talking about comedy with Entertainment Today back in 1991. He said that when you get to a certain level in comedy, people aren’t just laughing, they’re talking like you. The notes concluded: “After this episode, seen by 10 million, people were talking like Seinfeld.”

They’re absolutely right.

These three days of overexposure to Seinfeld had exactly such an effect on me. I was Seinfeld-ized. Seinfeld got all over everything I did.

Sometime during the Seinfeld Day 1, my husband texted me.

“Are the gas guys there yet?” he said. We’re having a line dug so we can start using the HVAC we just had put in.

“The gas guys? Here? Yes.” I said.

“Will you go out and ask them how long the job will take?” he returned, with a smiley face.

“What? Go out and talk to those guys?” I tapped back. “I can’t talk to them! It’s a bunch of men in hats and vests! They have a big truck! What would I say? They’d laugh me right back into the house. ‘Stay in there where you belong, pajama lady.’ That’s what they’d say.”

“What?” he said.

“And what is it with the hard hat thing anyway? They’re digging. In the ground. What exactly are they worried about? The sod flying up and hitting them in the forehead? The other guys getting them with a shovel? Maybe it’s just some kind of working-man code: wear the hat, you’re on the job. You get respect. Take the hat off, you’re off the job. No respect.”

“What?” he asked again. “Baby, have you had too much Tylenol?”

“I went out and talked to them. It was the most humiliating experience I’ve ever had. ‘What do you know about Caterpillars?’ they said. ‘You handle your business, we’ll handle ours. Get back to your Pinterest, or whatever it is—we’ll deal with your husband in the future.’”

“Oh, baby!”

“Actually they said they’ll be done tomorrow.”

“What?”

On Seinfeld Day 2, I was interrupted while cooking dinner by a phone call from my sister.

“Heeeello.”

“Hey, it’s me. I was calling to see if we’re still on for tomorrow.”

“Uh… [long pause] sure. I guess so.”

“You don’t want to do it?”

“I don’t know, I mean… sure, of course I do. What time did you say?”

“Seven.”

“Oh. Seven. [long pause] Okay.”

“You don’t want to do it?”

“Of course I want to do it! If I didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t have made the plans.”

“That’s fine; we won’t do it.”

“No, no, of course we’ll do it, of course we’ll do it.”

“Okay. I’ll pick you up?”

“Sure. What time did you say?”

“Seven.”

“Oh. [long pause] Okay.”

“You don’t want to do it?”

After I got off the phone, I complained to my husband.

“There’s no protocol for getting out of casual plans except for the Long Pause. I can’t actually say no; I already said yes! I’m a nice person—what can I do?”

“You’re only human.”

“I’m only human. So what tool of communication can I use except the Long Pause? Who doesn’t pick up on the Long Pause? Why didn’t the Long Pause work?”
“I don’t know; maybe it was the fact that she gave you ample opportunity to honestly break the plans and you didn’t take it.”

“What? No.”

“Maybe it was that she repeatedly asked you if you wanted to go and you still said you wanted to go.”

“But the Long Pause! The Long Pause!”

 

On Seinfeld Day 3, I wore a recently purchased hat to cover my unwashed hair.

“Where’d you get that hat?” a friend asked me.

“You like it?”

“I do. How much did you pay for it?”

“Oh, I don’t really think that’s important.”

“Was it a deal?”

“You could say that.”

“Less than twenty dollars?”

“Yup.”

“Less than ten dollars?”

“Yup.”

“Less than five dollars?”

“Just.”

“Five dollars? Five dollars? For that?”

“You got it.”

“I’m getting one.”

“You can’t. It was the last one. It was a sale at the Gap.”

“Can I buy that one?”

“This one? Don’t be ridiculous!”

“You could give it to me for late Christmas.”

“Late Christmas! I don’t re-gift things I bought for myself! How rude.”

“You could give it to me for my birthday.”

“No!”

 

Things I wasn’t able to do during the Three Days of Seinfeld, but briefly considered doing because of the Seinfeldian influence:

Conduct drawn out and anguished conversations with friends about their love lives; engage in protracted conversations with friends about social etiquette; argue with my eccentric Jewish parents (my parents aren’t Jewish or eccentric enough); seek revenge on local business people for ripping me off; wear ridiculous articles of clothing and get flak; perform stand-up; end up in the hospital for a fake heart-attack; walk into a neighbor’s home and eat food from their kitchen; help  a struggling immigrant business owner; eat a box of Junior Mints.

The Seinfeld has been out of my system for almost a week and I’m beginning to feel a little more normal.

The only residual symptom?

Yada, yada, yada.

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Posted by on in The Perfect Grape

No doubt you are winning at something if you are drinking Champagne, especially French Champagne. The stuff is golden nectar of the gods poured in a glass. Here's to hoping that this New Year's Eve you can stare at the sparkling section of your local wine purveyor with some basic understanding of the labels. It can be confusing especially when there is so much French involved. “It's all French to me.” as someone recently said. But is it really with Prosecco and Cava involved? And of course there are the delicious domestics. Sparkling wine is made around the world but only called Champagne if it is made in the Champagne region in France using a specific method. Methode-Champenoise is a labor intensive and costly process by which the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle, creating bubbles. Champagne can range in sweetness based on the dosage, or how much sugar is added. Sugar is often but not always added during the traditional Methode-Champenoise and what amount is added will dictate the label. Below is a list of designations starting from least amount of sugar added to most amount.

Doux-50+ g/L

Demi-Sec-33–50 g/L

Sec-17-35 g/L

Exta-Sec -12-20 g/L

Brut- 0–12-g/L

Extra- Brut -0–6 g/L

Brut Nature -0–3 g/L

*Extra Dry is found on domestic sparkling wine bottles and actually means less dry than brut but not sec or secco which would be deemed sweeter.

At the shop we have many options ranging in price from Louis Perdrier sparkling wine to vintage Dom Perignon. Vintage champagnes are made from grapes grown in a single exemplary growing season. These are supreme examples of what champagne can be and are therefore often costly. Perhaps a great way to celebrate an abundant year with friends and family is with a vintage champagne. We stock a couple that deliver Dom taste without the price such as L'Armandier-Bernier and the famed Bollinger, favored by James Bond. We also have a selection of the best value prosecco, cava and sparkling wines from Spain, Italy and the USofA. Here are some of our favorite NV (non-vintage) and vintage French bottles we stock for your convenience and pleasure.

Louis Perdrier NV Brut- High quality French sparkling wine. Notes of apples, some richness with a citrus finish. Great for a budget and any party!

 Forget Brimont NV Brut- Sophisticated champagne in the $25.00 range from family run winery. Offering notes of ripe gala apples, ginger and biscuit. Shows fine balance and elegance.

Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Blanc de Blancs- Family owned and run Champagne House. Deep, wide aromas—cumin, buttery pie crust. Shows good length and presence on the palate; flavors are zesty citrus enveloped in a smooth minerality. A good apéritif.

Billecart-Salmon NV Brut RoséPale strawberry-pink color. Light raspberry and white pepper aromas, with a raspberry crème brûlée flavor profile. Clean and dry, with good length and heft.

Moet & Chandon NV Imperial RoséThis solid, muscular rosé might be the ticket to turning a red wine devotee on to Champagne. Flinty around the edges, with tight, tart red fruit.

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 2004 La Grand Dame- Intense, serious and persistent. Yellow stone fruit flavors are bright but kept in check with mineral, herb and citrus peel through the finish.

L' Armandier- Bernier 2002 Premier Cru- Growers Sophia and Pierre L'Armandier focus on organic farming. They use low doasage or no dosage in their Blanc de Blanc which is 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir as traditional method dictates.This vintage is broad and rich, scoring over 95 pts with Robert Parker. It is clean, refreshing and fabulous to pair with a New Years Dinner.

Bollinger La Grand Annee 2004 Extra-Brut- exceptional vintage with 90 plus pts from Parker and Tanzer. Notes of toasted bread and candied fruit, rhubarb and exotic spices. Perfectly balanced in any application. James Bond loved it and so will you! 


Any way you choose to celebrate you will win with these selections! Remember whatever you choose, drink responsibly. 

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Posted by on in Telling Tales

collegeThe last few months have been a whirlwind of college applications, ACT prep courses, and road trips as we have continue on our adventure of "where in the world will Madi go to college?"

This past week as we left that house at 5 a.m. in order to meet the 10 a.m. tour, with my hot cup of coffee in hand, I got in the car and gleefully noted "This is going to be such a fun day."

Shocked by my joyfulness, her father reminded both Madi and I that "today is going to be fun and SAD!" You see, as much as Madi and I have come to embrace our little college trip adventures, Brody isn't quite there yet.

When we finally arrived, Madi and I bounced out of the car, eagerly awaiting our guided tour of the buildings, library and dorms. Her Dad slowly walked behind us.

While we asked questions about majors, internships and clubs, her Dad asked questions about campus security, crime rates and how do they insure "boys don't get onto the girls' dorm floors."

Seemingly very important questions to the other fathers on the tour, who nodded in agreement every time Brody grilled our 19-year-old tour guide on crime per capita rates.

After touring the campus we set about taking in this new city, checking out how far the grocery was from campus, the movie theater and the mall. We also checked out the police station, fire hall and hospital..."because it's important to know these things," noted her father.

The good thing about Madi is that she has been taking most of this in stride, as every member of the family is handling her move... in their own way.

Later that night, as Madi was extolling the virtues of this new college to her sister and brother, Zoe pulled out her own set of plans, saved under the Pinterest board name - "Zoe's New Room When Madison Finally Leaves."

"When exactly will you be moving out?" she asked. "Because Neill and I have decided that he is getting your room, and I'm redoing mine and turning his into my dressing room/tv room."

Both Brody and Madi looked stunned.

"You can't have my room," Madi said, completely outraged. "I am coming back in the summer and on breaks and probably some weekends too!"

And her Daddy is a happy man once again...

 

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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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