there and back again

Ministry uprooted Maleah Bell’s family to Texas… then, finally, ministry brought them home

 

By Maleah Winfree Bell

During the past few weeks, I have engaged in a time of reflection. In early July, our daughter, the youngest of our three children, married the love of her life. This event left our nest officially empty. For the record, I have a long way to go before I am old—I got an early start—but healthy reflection can be a good thing at any age, right?

I was born in Lebanon at the old McFarland Hospital as my husband, Greg, had been almost two years prior. He grew up in Mount Juliet; I was raised in Lebanon. In God’s timing, this Blue Devil met and married the Golden Bear, and the journey began.

Greg and Maleah earlyAfter we married, we rented an apartment in Hermitage because few apartments existed in Wilson County. Two years later we were able to purchase our first house in Mount Juliet. Our son was born during the five years we lived there, and we eventually bought a larger house. When our son was seven years old, we were blessed with a daughter. I had worked for a publishing company for ten years, but Greg and I decided the children needed me at home. Not long after that the Lord surprised us with our youngest daughter. Greg was preparing for the future time when he would run the family business, and I was a stay-at-home mom. Life was good.

Then one day Greg announced to me he felt called to ministry, and we would need to move to Fort Worth, Texas so he could attend seminary. Neither of us had ever lived anywhere else, and all our family and friends were here. But a year later we sold most of our belongings, packed up our children—ages thirteen, five, and two—and headed west into the unknown. We became the out-of-town relatives.

Bell kids smallThe first thing we noticed about Fort Worth was the lack of tall trees. They looked more like bushes to me. I also recall the first time I saw the Trinity River. I remember commenting, “that’s not a river, that’s a stream.”  We were definitely not in Tennessee anymore.

It’s not that Fort Worth was a bad place to live. I found a job to help support us while Greg attended school, and I enjoyed working there. North Texas was a good cultural experience for our kids. They made friends from other races, and they learned to accept people who were different from them. The Mexican food and BBQ were phenomenal, but there wasn’t a country ham to be found anywhere.

I didn’t transplant well. During the time we lived in Texas, three of my family members passed away, and there was no money for me to travel home. We came home to visit the family for vacation week and Christmas, and I cried every time we left to go back to Texas.

Bell family in TexasIt is amazing how things you take for granted become important when you are away from home: U.T. football, the leaves changing, and songs such as “Rocky Top” and “Tennessee Christmas.” Not to mention I missed pulled pork and Krispy Kreme donuts. During our time in Fort Worth the first Cracker Barrel in the area opened. Of course we went to eat there during its first week. What else would good Wilson Countians do? When Greg ordered—you guessed it—country ham—his meal came with a verbal disclaimer about the salt content.

After graduation Greg accepted a pastorate in northern Alabama. It wasn’t Wilson County, but it was a lot closer than Texas! When I resigned from my job, the owner of the company asked me if there was anything he could say to convince me to stay. When I told him we were moving much closer to home and family, he said, “Well, there is no way I can compete with that.” And he was right.

Our son was a freshman in college and had a military service commitment, so he stayed in Texas. The rest of the family headed east. We enjoyed a three-year pastorate in Alabama, and I sold Pampered Chef cooking tools to supplement our income.

Proverbs 37:4 says if we delight in the Lord, he will give us the desires of our hearts. In 2003, God gave me the desire of my heart and moved us back home. Greg was pastoring in Nashville, and we wanted our girls to attend Wilson County Schools, so we resettled in our home county.

Through a sequence of events I found myself back at work at the publishing company where I had worked previously, only this time it was in an editorial job instead of sales support. I did not have an English degree, but God knows how he has gifted us, and my strengths were a match for this position. My boss was a veteran in the publishing industry, and I received a publishing education no English degree could match. A year later I was thrust into the middle of a project that would occupy the next seven years of my life—The Voice Bible translation. How many people are given an opportunity to help birth a new translation of the Bible? After The Voice Bible was published, I became an editor for Bible studies and reference books.
family-current-wedding-photosmallIn May 2015 the company restructured, and I was thrown into the world of unemployment. I needed to maintain a flexible schedule for family reasons, so I decided to become a freelance editor and writer. Challenges come with being independent. I have to step outside my comfort zone and market myself continually, and the work can be inconsistent. But I can take my parents to their doctor appointments or pick up my granddaughter from daycare if I need to. This year has been particularly difficult with the death of a beloved pet, the deaths of several relatives, and the stresses of wedding planning. Working for myself has allowed me to be available for those times.

There is no way I could write this article without acknowledging God’s hand on the journey. I recognize only He could have orchestrated the events that have brought me to this point. He knew when I would need a different balance between family and work. It was His plan for me to spend many years in the publishing major leagues so I could learn the skills that would prepare me for this season.

Maleah current headshotMy feelings about our empty nest are similar to those I felt when seven years of producing the new Bible were completed—a little empty but a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction knowing I have done my job. Our three children are now fine, young adults with their own families.

Will Greg and I always reside in Wilson County? Only God knows that. We joked with our children that we are going to retire in the Caribbean, to which one of them responded, “Who would we go to if we needed something?” But wherever God takes us, I can honestly say that my heart will always be in Wilson County because here is where I find my piece of the good life.

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The Sept-Oct 2016 Edition is out now!

Check it out in the Mt. Juliet Chronicle and Carthage Courier, as well as in racks across Lebanon and Mt. Juliet!

 

…in this issuecover 2c

 

IN EVERY ISSUE

4 NOTES FROM THE EDITOR

8 SABRINA OUT ON THE TOWN

46 ONE LAST THING

 

FEATURES

16 ROCK STAR

18 PICKETT CHAPEL

30 RENNAISSANCE GIRL

38 IN STITCHES

 

GOOD LIFE

12 PASS THE SALT, PLEASE

22 BLOWN AWAY

42 COMING HOME

44 MALEAH BELL’S GOOD LIFE

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Ch-ch-changes…

By Becky Andrews

I don’t like change. Wait. Let me rephrase that. Some change is necessary. Dirty diapers, blown lightbulbs, oil, underwear and so on. I’m talking about big change. Like the transition from high school to college, single to married, or how you felt after Glenn from The Walking Dead died but in a later episode it turns out he didn’t die (still totally blown away by this!). It’s the kind that shifts the trajectory of how you live your life.

Change, no matter how necessary, is mysterious, uncertain and uncomfortable. Who wants to be uncomfortable?

I changed my tune in 2012-the year my dad was diagnosed with mixed dementia. One week, he would be fine and have us wondering if maybe the physicians got it wrong. The next week, he would tell a room full of strangers that the night before he had to beat up Ross Perot because he caught him trying to rob a woman in the Kroger parking lot. “She offered me money because I helped, but I said, ‘that won’t be necessary.’”

Change for someone in the throes of this disease is monumental. Routine is key. For nearly four years, we managed to keep his routine, his life predictable. Then one day last fall we had to prepare him for something HUGE.

After in-depth cognitive tests ­­at an area specialty center revealed dad lacked skills to operate a car safely, the state took away his driver’s license. Three months later, my brothers, sisters and I made the tough decision to sell his car.

On Christmas Eve, I had to drive his car to the new owners. That morning, while everyone slept and the coffee brewed, I cried. I wasn’t crying because my kids didn’t want to leave cookies for Santa or because I miss my brother and sister who live on the west coast. I wasn’t crying because I can’t lose weight as easily as I could in my 20’s. I was crying because Alzheimer’s had once again managed to steal something else from my dad.

More than anything, dad doesn’t want to burden his kids. In his mind, losing his license and selling his car signaled the end of “independent Ralphie” and the beginning of “dependent Ralphie.”

We sold the car and everyone survived. Of course, our routines were shaken up a bit and it wasn’t easy. But changes are getting easier for him. Most days he can’t recall what he’s confused about or why he doesn’t drive anymore. That’s a silver lining for him.

Last week, while dad was working a crossword puzzle, I couldn’t help but to stare at him. I thought about how lucky we were that dementia had softened him. He’s always been kind but now his kindness is childlike. As much as I loved his more tender demeanor, I missed his bluntness and brutal honesty. At that moment, he looked up from his crossword and said, “You should take off that lipstick. People will think you’re a prostitute.” And that, my friends, is a silver lining for me.

Comments about this column? Email becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

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Sicker than anyone has ever been

By Angel Kane

 

So the “I’m sick” bug has hit our home. And if your children are like my crew of 3, their “I’m sick” bug is way stronger than anybody else’s.

For the last week every counter in the kitchen has been laden with bottles of Chloraseptic, Mucinex, and “Mama’s Magic Elixir” a.k.a. liquid NyQuil… That’s because when my 3 get sick, they ache more, cough more, and sneeze more than the average person.

Don’t believe me?

Just ask them.

So with the flu, stomach virus and Zika going around, you can only imagine how hard this last week has been on me…I mean them.

It all started on Facebook when several friends began to report they had been diagnosed with the flu. Post after post depicted aches, chills and fevers and as I read one after the other I could literally feel the temperatures rising in our home.

By that evening all three of my children were sicker than anyone else they knew… including those they lived with.

By morning the humidifiers were humming, the hot tea was brewing and Vitamin C was our candy of choice.

And the competition was on!

“Feel my forehead Mama,” is the usual way the games begin. As I go one by one, determining whose temperature is the highest, my job is not done until a winner is declared.

And the winner gets the master bed (to themselves), the remote (to themselves) and the electric blanket (to themselves). The losers get the two chairs in my bedroom and non-heated blankets.

And as luck would have it, the winner only felt better so long as she was watching a Fixer Upper television marathon …. a fact that enraged the other two….even through their Vicks vapor rub induced haze.

Ironically as hoarse as they were, I could still hear the screaming in the next room…to “put something on we all can watch!!”

Interestingly as weak as they were, at some point they were able to rise from their chairs to wrestle the remote from the weakest one.

As frail as the weakest one was, she somehow found the strength to make her way to the kitchen to inform me that they other two “are not sick! Make them get out of the  bedroom and give me back the remote!”

And my Saturday pretty much went much like this until their father finally loaded them up and took them to the nearest clinic.

Three hours later, we learned it was not the flu, not strep and not Zika. Instead it was the common cold.

Not that that changed anything. It was still “the worst cold ever!”

Thankfully, after a week of cold medicines, throat lozenges and exiling each to a separate room and a separate remote, my crew is on the mend.

Of course, now their father and I are sick and while you may not believe this, when we get sick, well, we are simply sicker than everyone else.

It’s true. Just ask us.

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

 

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Round Two

By Angel Kane

As I write this, we’re heading out to take our daughter back to college. Two cars once again heading east, packed with all her worldly belongings, as well as a few of our own.

Round two. Year two is underway.

At the same time this weekend my FB feed has been flooded with a multitude of photos from moms and dads dropping their kids off for their first year of college.

We were them last year.

Behind the fabulous photos of decorated dorm rooms and eager freshmen faces, I can see the twinge of fear in those older eyes. And if you look closely, in some of those younger eyes, as well.

Fear that this is the end of the line of parenting as we know it.

Fear of what and, more importantly, who might happen to them far from home.

Fear that they won’t succeed because we dreamed too big for them.

Or worse yet, fear that they will not only succeed bigger than we ever dreamed, but so much so, they’ll never return.

Fear of what might become of us if we no longer have young ones to tend to.

Fear that we’re getting older and might not always be around to see what will become of them.

Fear that time is running out for our own dreams.

Or worse yet, fear that our best dreams may now be behind us.

I can see it in those glistening eyes because mine were filled with that very same fear as well.

Our firstborn moved away last year. And although we still had two more at home that still needed raising, part of me, felt that my mommy days were coming to an end.

My husband took up cross fit and I remodeled my law office. Our middle daughter charged ahead as the eldest sibling left at home. Our youngest grew inches overnight.

We looked for a new house. Just because. But mostly because I was sad.

Our eldest called home, adamant that we could not sell the house she grew up in.

We went on trips without her.

Sent her care packages, less so as the year went by.

Marked milestones, just the four of us.

Celebrated her homecoming each break as if a celebrity were in town.

And when she finally returned for the summer, I could breathe deeply once again. But things were slightly different. We had all changed. Each of us having learned to be without the other.

On the other side of fear there is freedom.

She found the beginnings of her own life and we found we still had one.

And that, my friends, will happen to you too. With brave wings, they will fly, but so will we.

 

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The Mom(s) who raise you

By Becky Andrews

I’ll never forget that first parent teacher conference. I sat in a tiny red chair outside the classroom, nervous and hoping that tiny red chair was made for a child because I could only fit one cheek on it. When it was my turn I was led into a classroom where I had to sit in an even smaller chair.

Before I could offer an apology for his genetic disposition to be more of a talker like his mama and not a thinker like his dad, his teacher told me he was doing great.  My son, my firstborn, was doing great. When I said he didn’t listen, she said “he’s a boy.” When I said he had a short attention span, she said, “most creative people do” and “he’s a boy.” When I said he hates homework, she said, “So do I.” When I said he was small for his age, she said, “He’s the fastest on the playground.” When I said I worried he would not be an honor student, she said, “being an honor student doesn’t mean you are destined for success.” When I broke down in the ugly cry with tears and snot I  told her I worry about doing everything wrong, she smiled, offered a hug and said, “It’s second grade not medical school. Take it easy on him and you.”

Being a mom didn’t get any easier but to be reassured by another mom that I wasn’t totally screwing things up gave me the lift I needed that day.

Two years later I asked a friend I met at story time how I should approach the coach of my son’s football team. He wasn’t getting to play as much as the other kids and it was really ticking me off. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of any full contact sport but, we paid the same fee everyone else did and came to all of the practices. She listened and carefully chose her words of advice.

“Does it bother him?”

“No. He’s as happy as a clam cheering on the team.”

“Then don’t worry about it. Pick your battles. This one isn’t worth it.”

Over the years, the faces of my “other mothers” have changed. They have been standing next to me during soccer games, sitting next to me during Disney on Ice and in front of me in the carpool lane. We’ve shared sitters, batting coaches, recipes and totally inappropriate jokes via email. We have met for coffee, a run, or drinks. Sometimes I listen, sometimes they listen.

Whether it’s L encouraging me to keep writing, A challenging me to work harder (and keep a list!), B listening to any problem I have, and telling me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear, M making me laugh even when I don’t want to, H for knowing too many of my secrets and immediately forgetting them, or C for fierce loyalty to her friends and family, these ladies and more have raised me to be a better mama. They are my village.

From them, I’ve learned the language of motherhood. A language that can be kind and include curse words. Over the years, their advice, experience, and honest perspective has given me the confidence I needed to see that I’m a pretty good mom and my confidence allowed my children to be better versions of themselves. The village that surrounded my family wasn’t just a source of recipes and conversation during day long baseball tryouts.   They raised a mother.

Some say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I disagree. It takes a village to raise a mother who can in turn be the best mom to her kids.

 

Your village is right there with you. Even when you think no one in the world would understand, trust me someone speaks the dialect you’re looking for.

Questions or comments? Email becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

 

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And so it begins again…

By Angel Kane

I think back to school shopping should be an Olympic sport.

Because nothing, and I mean nothing, tests my endurance more than looking for an 8 1/2 x 11, three pronged Plastic Portfolio Pocket Folder WITHOUT holes. Not to be confused, mind you, with the Mead Five Star Laminated Paper Folder, which we all know comes with three hole punches, four internal pockets and absolutely no prongs!

After years and years of shopping for this elusive product and many others like it, I’ve come to realize that the “back to school supply list” is a test of wits, patience and perseverance in order for teachers to weed out the children that are truly loved by their parents and those that are not. Either that, or a sadistic inside joke that all teachers are part of.

But jokes on them because on Monday my children and their folders, with or without holes, and their back packs filled to capacity with notebook paper, multiple boxes of Number 2 pencils and enough Elmer Glue sticks to cause massive amounts of destruction, will all be promptly delivered to the school house doors… way before 8 a.m.

Let the new school year begin!

And by that I mean, college applications, ACT’s, soccer, tutors, football, promposals, reading assignments, strep throat, flu shots, retreats and the dreaded weekend science projects.

I, for one, could not be happier to get back to the school year routine.

On Saturday evening as I sat through our first middle school football scrimmage of the season, swatting mosquitoes, talking shop with the other mamas (aka, ‘what color did you decide to paint your den this summer Jennifer?’), I could smell the pre-teen sweat waft through the air. A familiar smell that means routine and normalcy will soon follow. A smell that also instantly reminds me to pick up more Febreze Sport next time I’m at Kroger.

Like everyone else this week, we intend to start the year with the best of intentions. School clothes are washed and ironed and ready for the week, the makings of a healthy lunch is waiting in the fridge, my alarm is set so I that can be up early to cook eggs and toast for the kids on their first morning back.

And then by next Monday, the real routine kicks in –  two sips of milk, an untoasted pop tart and a Flintstone vitamin and we are out the door! A text message will appear on my phone promptly at 8:45 that someone has forgotten something that they must have immediately or the world will surely end. Another text by lunch to remind me I once again forgot to add lunch money to their account and they are now mortified because the lunch lady said something to them about it.  A quick call between their dad and I after school, coordinating who has the lawn chairs, water bottles and what game we have where and who has which child when. Followed by a series of texts and calls about — what’s for dinner?

And so it begins…again.

With one in college now and my other two quickly catching up to her, I’ll happily be there!

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

 

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2016 July-August Digital Edition up now!

Click HERE to view the 2016 July-August digital edition!

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Summertime Hawaiian Recipes

By Brandi Lindsey, Wildberry Cakes and Catering

NOTE: these photos were part of a partner shoot with Tulip Grove Farm for a lovely outdoor summer party scene. See that story HERE.

 

Mixed Asian Sesame Salad

  • Bag of mixed salad greensIMG_2449
  • 1 can of mandarin oranges
  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly
  • Sliced almonds, toasted if you like

 

For the dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all dressing ingredients and pour over salad mixture right before serving!

 

Grilled chicken kabobs with a sweet-and-sour glaze

  • IMG_24504 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 green pepper, cut into two inch pieces
  • 1 pineappe, cut into two inch pieces
  • Skewers soaked in water

For the marinade and the glaze:

Put cut chicken in a zip lock bag and pour over some of the glaze, reserving some to brush over the chicken when it is all done. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Skewer the pineapple, peppers, and chicken . Discard marinade. Cook the skewers on the grill until juices run clear (about 12 to 15 minutes depending on the temperature of the grill). When kabobs are done, brush the remaining unused glaze over the chicken and serve immediately. Enjoy!

 

Teriyaki noodles with cabbage, peppers, carrots, and snap peas

  • 1 pound of spaghetti noodlesIMG_2467
  • ½ of a head of napa cabbage, sliced
  • 1 bag of shredded carrots
  • 3 tri colored bell peppers, sliced
  • 2 oz of snap peas
  • Teriyaki sauce

 

Fill a large stock pot with water. When it comes to a boil, add salt and the noodles and cook until al dente. While the noodles are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the sliced peppers, and the snap peas and cook until just tender, then add in the carrots and the cabbage and cook for about two more minutes. Add the veggies to the drained noodles and toss with about 1/3 cup of teriyaki sauce or more to taste. Serve immediately. This can also be served the next day as a cold pasta lunch!

 

Roasted shrimp with Asian sauce

  • 1 pound bag of large raw shrimp, peeled and deveinedIMG_2454
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

 

Asian dressing

  • 1/4 cup lime juice,
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix all ingredients together and then whisk in 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Serve alongside the shrimp for dipping.

To roast the shrimp: Place shrimp on a sheet tray and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 425-degree oven for about 5 minutes or until just turned pink.

 

Bananas foster cake

  • IMG_24631 box butter cake made according to package directions (I substitute the oil with a stick of softened butter and substitute the water for whole milk) and sliced for individual servings
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 bananas sliced

 

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium low heat, add the brown sugar and molasses and stir and let it simmer for about 2 minutes until bubbly. Once it starts to bubble, add the cream and cook for a few more minutes. Add the sliced bananas and pour over the cake. Garnish with whipped cream and berries if you like! You may also add a ¼ to ½ cup of rum to the sauce after you add in the bananas and let it cook for a few more minutes to let the alcohol cook off and this is also equally delicious!

 

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Tulip Grove Farm

Two twins and their mother keep the antique love alive

 

Story and photos by Tilly Dillehay

These two ladies are sitting across from me at a table in Starbucks. They each have husbands and grown children of their own, yet here they are, chattering about their shared projects, finishing each other’s sentences. They’re twin sisters, two of the three members of an antique dealership on wheels: Tulip Grove Farm.

The third member of the group? Their mother.

IMG_2428Claudine Williamson and her two daughters, Dianne Clark and Marianne Jordan, are partners and hobbyists together. They go hunting for the antiques, they pull the trailer that holds the antiques, and they carry the antiques to various barn sales and flea markets in Middle Tennessee. And they do it all together.

“It’s about a business,” said Dianne, who has been a resident of Lebanon for the last 30 years. “But it’s really about family and spending time together. We love to go on trips and hook the trailer up… we love spending time together and building memories.”

All three of their husbands also pitch in, with things like hitching and hauling the trailer, setting up for sales, and allowing their home turf to be encroached on by antiques waiting to be sold.

“Our husbands could probably have us committed for all this,” laughed Dianne, “but they’re really so supportive.”

In the Tulip Grove Farm booth at any given sale, you’ll find a sweet setup that represents the various tastes of each of the three ladies.

“Mom loves primitive antiques,” said Dianne. “Anything wood ladders, bowls, silver.  I love white, painted, chippy, rusty pieces. Marianne tends to be more architectural, likes vintage maps, old farm pieces, more midcentury modern.”

So you’ll be able to find everything from an assortment of handmade signs with rusty letters spelling out words like “FARMHOUSE,” “BAKERY,” or “PANTRY,” to bell jars arranged over one-of-a-kind china, to old iron hangers and tin cake stands. Nothing is exorbitantly priced, but all of it has a distinct and recognizable Tulip Grove Farm flavor.

IMG_2393“It’s a creative outlet, for me,” said Marianne, who resides in Nashville. “Whether we’re going to an estate sale or a flea market… to see the potential in something, and buy it… it’s an outlet. We rarely will repurpose something—paint furniture, turn something into a lamp, like many people do. But we will take something that may be used in the yard, and we show how you can use it in kitchen. Or we show how you can put flowers in, or hang something on a bathroom wall. If you were to come to my house, a lot of what you see on my wall aren’t prints, but screens, or racks, or old window frames. I personally get a lot of satisfaction in finding something, cleaning it up, and seeing someone buy it and be really excited about what they found.”

In a roundabout way, the antique bug bit the two sisters through their mother… and then it bit their mother all over again.

“Our mother has been in and out of the antique business for decades,” said Dianne. “She started Tulip Grove Farm years ago, selling at different antique shows in Nashville. And we would help her. We did Christmas village, and a few others.

“The way we got to where we are today is we love to shop—it’s a passion to buy the antiques. And Marianne and I were shopping one day. And she said, ‘you know, I’d love to start selling’. And mom said ‘well, we have a trailer full of junk.’ So we took mom’s stuff down to the flea market.”

“I’ll never forget our first booth,” said Marianne. “I think that was the hardest $50 I ever made! But we said we’re going to keep going for a year. We’re going to keep going to the flea market every week and just see where it goes. So it started to get better. And two or three years ago we decided to put it together under the same umbrella. I think mom just got the bug to get back in the business.”

One of their earliest experiences with barn sales was in the early days of The Strawberry Patch sale in Hartsville, which they still participate in twice a year (the fall sale is in September). In October, they’ll be showing at the “Vintage Market Days,” which is new to Fiddlers Grove at the Wilson County Fairgrounds.

IMG_2395The women often find their wares in other states, traveling as far as Texas, Ohio, and Massachusetts to pick things up from flea markets and private sellers. It’s a lot of work—the hunting, the acquiring, the hauling, the setting up, the long weekends of selling.

But then, these ladies were raised for work. Their parents were small business owners of Howard’s Honda when the girls were growing up, and they were put to work in the family business.

“Dianne and I have worked since we were 12,” said Marianne. “We were answering phones then. So we like to work, we enjoy it, we get a lot of satisfaction out of it, out of making money, yes—but just being busy. It’s more about the satisfaction of doing good work.”

In addition to the sales, the three women recently partnered up for a new project. They renovated a house in Donelson to list on Airbnb.com, a site where travelers can rent homes, apartments, or rooms to stay in. The home was originally a rental property owned by Claudine and her husband. When the three ladies got inspired to find a new use for the property, they set to work doing everything themselves.

“This is the hardest thing we’ve ever done,” admitted Marianne. “In fact, we did find something that we couldn’t do…” She looked at Dianne with a smile.

“We were pulling carpet up and found beautiful wood floors,” laughed Dianne. “Mom and I were over there trying to get the glue up, and we’d done it for a week. And my dad comes in and says, ‘ya’ll have worked so hard. You’re doing a good job, but…’ And you know, we got our feelings hurt! But we got over it… anyway he brought in a professional to finish that.”

But the majority of the work was done by these two women and their amazing mother. They held a little contest between themselves, each picking a bedroom to decorate in their own way. The challenge was to make up the cutest bedroom for the least money.

“Then mom went to West Elm with my daughter [Lauren], so they took themselves out of the running right away,” laughed Marianne. “Then it was down to us two.”

Many of the furnishings for the house came right off of the Tulip Grove Farm trailer. Others were giveaways or fresh finds. The finished project is quite simply adorable. The house went up on the site in March of this year.

“Many people have this thing where they say, ‘oh, I don’t know if we could do that,’” said Marianne. “We’re just not afraid to try. We’re not afraid to fail.”

And in another almost bizarre twist, all three of these ladies are also involved in yet another hobby: they are dressers for Broadway shows that come to Nashville. This job involves being on a call list, then going in when a show comes to town and unloading the costumes, pressing and preparing them, and then helping actors get changed during the show.

IMG_2405“We’re following the path of our mother, again with that,” said Marianne. “She’s done it for thirty years. Really it all started as something new to do. We like that. And it’s so interesting, I think, to be backstage… we just finished Bridges of Madison County. Now Beauty and the Beast is coming, and we’re not sure we’ll actually be on that one.”

Dianne agreed that it’s just a fun thing to be involved with. “It’s a cross between working in a laundromat and Downton Abbey,” she laughed.

Asked whether the two of them are very different in personality, they said yes and no.

“We’ve always been very individual,” said Dianne. “Marianne was a CPA for instance, and I don’t like to balance a checkbook. We’re different but still very close.”

Will they continue wearing all these hats indefinitely?

“[Our daughters] think we work too hard,” said Dianne. “They say, ‘Mom, you need to slow down a little bit.’ But we never do; we just keep going. But everything we do, we enjoy. We do it because we want to.”

 


 

 

 

 

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