familyfor web

Our Christmas Tradition

familyfor webOne family shares their own special way of celebrating the holiday season

By Sue Siens

Christmas traditions and holiday celebrations are as diverse as our American culture.  For singles and single parents, enjoying the holidays may mean creating new ways to celebrate. 

Mount Juliet resident Shari Arnold leads a busy life as Lifestyles Director for Del Webb Lake Providence, but her most important job is being a single mom to two beautiful children, Maggie and Jack Ryman.

Shari learned her joy and appreciation for the holidays from “the most loving and selfless parents,” Bill and Susan Arnold of Lebanon, TN.  But Shari and family have also learned in the past few years that Christmas gifts can come in all shapes and sizes, and new traditions can be embraced.

About five years ago, at a time when Shari and her children were adjusting to their new lives in a single parent home, they welcomed a foreign exchange student to live with them just before the holidays.  A delightful and lovely young woman, Dila Uenal from Germany introduced their family to her language and her culture.

“Dila entered our world at the most perfect time, and was the best distraction for the kids and I, especially with the holidays quickly approaching,” says Shari.  “Isn’t it funny that when one door closes, another opens?”

At the time, Dila spoke no English.  Shari, Maggie, and Jack Ryman gave Dila the true American experience. They shared their Christmas traditions of Christmas Eve candlelight church service followed by hot cocoa, caroling, holiday meals, naps, Santa, gifts and more.  Shari says, “I was given the gift of another daughter.”  Shari noted that the experience was “extremely positive for us.”

Dila became a part of the Arnold family, and has repeatedly returned from Germany to visit during Christmastime. It’s a tradition that Shari says her family eagerly anticipates.  

Dila says what she loves about her Christmas visits with her adopted American family are, “…family time with the heartwarming conversations, the kids’ joy when they unwrap their presents, Christmas dinner with the food that her American grandma cooks (Shari’s mom, “Mimi” Susan Arnold), the pastor’s way of telling the values of life and the peace you can feel during the service, and all the love that is spread all around Christmas.”

This year, Christmastime will be especially joyful.  Shari, Maggie, Jack Ryman, and Shari’s parents, will be celebrating with Shari’s brother, William Scott Arnold and family, who recently relocated to Mount Juliet from Los Angeles, CA.

Shari acknowledges there are challenges and bonuses of single parenthood (twice the work, but twice the love).  She says the holiday season is about being real, letting go of some past-life traditions, opening your heart to others, and being grateful. She said she tries to focus on the good in life, learn from heartbreak and challenges, and, “What better time to count blessings?”

Shari says she thanks God for her two greatest blessings of all, her son and daughter, Maggie and Jack.

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Learning From My Mistakes

facebookBy Julie Hadlock

as told to Tilly Dillehay


Julie Hadlock was wearing a black business suit when she went to court in November of 2011. A respectable local businesswoman, she had come straight from work.

Three hundred and thirteen days later, she put the same black suit on again to walk out of the Wilson County Jail.  She had spent nearly a year behind bars—and was now a felon.

Two years after her release, she is running a ministry called The Next Step in Lebanon. This place gives immediate aid (clothing, furniture, job matching/training, rides, and help getting into a rental) to people getting out of jail and to people without homes. The ministry is her own brainchild, and she says that ten months in jail made her uniquely equipped to run it.

This is Julie’s story about finding her piece of the good life—in her own words.


I grew up in an 8,000 square foot house near Nashville. My father made six figures and my first car was a gold Trans Am, just like in Smokey and the Bandit—Daddy gave it to me on my sixteenth birthday.

I had just sold my own business to another company when I moved to Lebanon in 2010. I started a new business here selling equestrian equipment and joined the Chamber of Commerce and really became part of the community.

But my business didn’t have a whole lot of capital early on. It was pretty tight, month to month. In 2011, I made a very foolish mistake: I went out and wrote checks without confirming that I had sufficient funds to cover them. I knew better than to do that.

My checks bounced.

I was in the process of visiting the businesses around to collect the bad checks and explain the situation when I was called to go in to court a few months later. I was told to follow an officer out of the courtroom and they took me straight to jail. I was assigned a $25,000 bond. If I’d had $2,500 I could have gotten out, but then, if I’d had $2,500, I wouldn’t have written bad checks.

The jailers were very kind. They knew I was scared, so they put me in a private cell up front and let me shower alone and all that. I wasn’t supposed to be there for long. But I ended up being in jail from November of 2011 to September of 2012.

A few weeks after my arrival, I was put into population at the jail—a large space with 34 other women, surrounded by smaller cells. At first, I was just overcome with fear and confusion.

Then, a few weeks in, something clicked. I just turned it into a job.

I would get up in the morning, and I would have my agenda laid out, and I would go out into the middle of the area. I had three Bible studies a day with the girls, and I had a Spanish class, and I taught them how to play bridge, and make table settings. We had talent contests! Anything to occupy them and help them not to fight with each other.

I also walked. I walked a certain number of miles every day, just walking around the outside of the room. I lost 80 pounds in there. And I journaled—I have pages and pages of notes. I wrote down what the guards said, what the inmates said, what I learned.

Here’s now naïve I was at the beginning. When I first got to the jail, I noticed that when they brought your meal to you, they’d stand outside the door and wait, and you’d take the meal out of its plastic baggie and give it back to them and they’d take it away.

I thought we were recycling.

So, being a happy member of the ‘Think Green’ Committee in Wilson County, I wrote letters to the sheriff, the mayor, the warden of the jail, and the Chamber of Commerce. I wrote to tell them about what a wonderful, environmentally friendly jail we have here. A few days later I had a routine visit to the jail psychologist and told him what a great jail we have, and about the recycling.

“Um, no,” he said. “We don’t do that for that reason. We take those away from you because you might try to swallow that and kill yourself.” I was shocked.

You see, I’d never known people like the girls in jail. Growing up in Nashville, my idea of volunteering was this: our church would go to the Nashville mission and serve the Thanksgiving Day lunch across the counter. And I’d go pray while we were there, or hug a smelly person one time maybe. But I couldn’t even imagine living with one, or being a smelly person myself.

unnamed 4All that was about to change.

In addition to the classes and activities I hosted in the jail, and attending church services with seven local churches who held services there, I started a letter writing ministry. Girls who left would give me their address and say “Miss Julie, would you write to me?” And I would. By the time I left the jail, I was writing letters to 43 women and girls.

I was also trying to understand why so many of them were coming back in after they’d gotten out.

I would scold them like a mother. And they would say “Well, Miss Julie, it’s too hard. We can’t get a job out there.” They had every excuse under the sun. And I would say, “You’re not trying hard enough, because jobs are plentiful if you want to work.”

But later on I would find out just how right the girls were.

Over ten months after the day I was incarcerated, they called me to court. I pled guilty, was sentenced, and put on probation. When they led me back into  the jail, there was a cheering frenzy.

So I put back on my black business suit to leave.

When I got out, every belonging was gone. My home had been seized, my car was taken, and my business had been dismantled. I hadn’t been able to make payments, and I had no family in town to take care of things.

There was no information in the jail about where to go or how to get there. Finally, I contacted a local nonprofit, and they very politely gave me a train ticket to Nashville so that I could sleep at the Nashville Rescue Mission.

The mission gives free bus passes to all residents, which came in very useful to me, although at first I betrayed my privileged background by asking if I could just have money for a cab instead. (All I got was a hearty laugh from the mission employee.)

The first day in Nashville, I went to businesses I’d worked with in the past to ask for a job. The first one offered me a job—then did a background check and said I couldn’t be hired for 7-10 years. Business after business told me the same thing. Finally, a staffing company explained to me that a felon simply could not expect to be hired by large companies at all. Even at very low-level jobs.

My options, I was told, were as follows: 1) Start your own business again, 2) Work for a family business that doesn’t mind your background, or 3) Do manual labor, like landscaping.

But here’s the thing: I had expected to work in my old field, earning $50-60K a year. I thought I needed to earn that much in order to pay my debts, and probation fees. It never occurred to me that I could work for minimum wage. And now it seemed that even minimum wage might be hard to get.

unnamedAfter four days in the mission, I came to a day when my hunting for help at local nonprofits took me so long that I wasn’t going to be able to get into the mission for the night. I realized that I was going to have to spend the night on the street. This is when I finally burst into tears and just cried and cried. I was desperate enough that I called a brother of mine, who lives in East Nashville.

Until now, my family had very strictly left me to bear the consequences of my mistake, and I can certainly appreciate that. But when he knew I was going to be on the street, he was willing to take me in until I could get my feet under me again.

For the next few months, I would use my brother’s car on days when he wasn’t working and drive to Lebanon to talk to businesses and maintain contact with ladies I was writing to. I found ministries in Nashville that give away clothing and food and necessary items, and I would keep those items in the car and bring them to the ladies who were in need.

Many of them lived in hotels, and by now I understood how hard it is to eat without kitchen items. So I’d watch out for a hot plate or crock pot and bring them one. Others lived camped out in the woods, and others in the backs of warehouses, and I would go out there and sit and have coffee with them and talk.

So that’s how the ministry started. I would bring things back here for the girls out of my car. And then they would say that they didn’t know how to use the computer, so we’d go to the library or the career center, and I’d show them how to apply for jobs and help. And then they’d say they were scared to go interview, so I’d put them in the car and drive them out and say ‘go on in there,’ and they’d get a job. Then I’d give them rides to work.

And this was where the kindness of people really began to show itself. The chaplain of the jail, who I’d become friends with while there, helped me buy a car. Soon afterwards, I was given the opportunity for a job—as a nighttime custodian at an assisted living facility and church. Then a couple from my church heard I was living out of my car (for about a week, to save gas) and immediately asked me to come stay in their guest bedroom until I could get my own place.

I now rent a house here in town. Currently, I have two ladies staying with me, both of whom are in the Next Step program.


I won’t say any more about what we’re doing there, since you can read about it in another article in this issue. I’ll just say that I’ve found my piece of the good life. And it doesn’t look like I thought it did when I was young and riding around in a gold Trans Am.

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Wilson Liiving Magazine Crew - at The Art Mill In Mt. Juliet

Notes From The Editor

Wilson Liiving Magazine Crew - at The Art Mill In Mt. JulietWell, I’m writing this note to you in the middle of high autumn. The transition from October into November is quite possibly the most magical time of year, weather wise.

It’s a near guarantee—you’ll have crisp  temps, crisp leaves underfoot, crisp blazers coming out of the winter closet, and a general feeling of snappiness in everything you do. But what’s really exciting about this transition is the fact that it’s taking you someplace specific: straight into the arms of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Thanksgiving is absolutely my favorite holiday—no, wait, Christmas really is. No, Thanksgiving. Tied, let’s say. But this year I’m pretty much doubly excited about both of them, and even the dreariness of January and February isn’t going to catch me sunawares.

Here’s why: I’m expecting a little bundle of joy in March of 2015. Even better, my schedule of baby-baking is timed exactly so that just as the weather grows colder, the belly will be expanding proportionally.  Bingo. Extra layer. This means that throughout the entire progress of this winter, I’ll have a perfectly sized personal heater at my disposal.

Do you know how exciting this is? I don’t know if you remember last inter, but I do. I remember it the way we all remember trauma in our lives: a haze of gray, a chill right down into my shoulders, something about a polar vortex, school’s out (again) and cars stranded in driveways. Not even Starbucks would have saved us last winter (although I have to admit, something about the Starbucks arriving in Lebanon has made me feel armed for the season in a new way; it’s like I just bought a pair of winter boots).

So here I am, facing the cold season again with a heightened sense of excitement and invincibility. Let the storm rage on! Just like Elsa (but for different reasons) I’ll be ready to take everything in stride, warmed to the core by the tiny human in my belly. I’m enjoying the changing season for another reason, too, though. Wilson Living Magazine is a great place to be for seasonal aficionados. Getting my feet wet with WLM has been a fantastic opportunity to anticipate the cool weather and two-bestholidays even earlier than usual.

We’ve been up to our elbows in Thankgsiving recipes (check out Brandi Lyndsey’s mouth-watering contributions); gifts galore (Becky put together the 2014 guide for this issue that is to die for); cool artisan handiwork (nothing like cool weather to make a barn sale sound good); gift wrap jobs that literally look too pretty to unwrap (Elizabeth Sruggs strikes again); and scrumptious interiors already decked out for Christmas (the Bruces were overachievers and got theirs up pretty early for us).

I’m not the only one new to Wilson Living and swimming in holiday cheer. Jennifer Whitener, our new Marketing Director, has been tirelessly working to help bring you the best Wilson Living Holiday Expo yet. This year the free event will be spreading out and getting comfy at the Wilson County Fairgrounds. Mark your calendars: November 20-22. And don’t forget the Light up the Night GALA! You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again: this is one party (Thursday night; tickets at wilsonlivingexpo. com) that shouldn’t be missed. 

Jennifer and I have been working hard together under the watchful eyes and maternal wings of Angel and Becky, and (who are we kidding?) we’ll probably all be having our weekly board meetings (an inch of gossip for every foot of productivity; I’ll put it that way) for some time to come. 

Our most recent meeting was more of a party—a painting party, in fact—at Scott Harris’ Art Mill in Mt. Juliet. That’s where we snapped this picture of the four of us. And we’re not the only ones! This month, one lucky reader will get to paint their own holiday masterpiece with a friend. Enter to win at

In the meantime, we continue to bring you a great product with the greatest of pleasure.

Thanks for turning the page,


notes from the Managing Editor

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You and Me and Baby makes 3

Boys and girls

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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The Plague

By Angel Kane

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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Simple Caramel Apples, Halloween Kid Fun


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!




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,


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Ten things I don’t know about home ownership

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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The Pairings That Worked

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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What a Difference a Bit of Paint Can Make…


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.  


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.


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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What’s with those ‘Yes on 1’ signs?


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 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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