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Home n Garden - Druid City Living, Tuscaloosa's premier community newspaper. - Druid City Living, Tuscaloosa's premier community newspaper. http://druidcityliving.com Wed, 15 Aug 2018 15:15:41 -0500 MYOB en-gb Lake Living: Where the Heck Did the Summer Go? http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2473-lake-living-where-the-heck-did-the-summer-go http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2473-lake-living-where-the-heck-did-the-summer-go Infuse water with fresh Alabama grown berries for a refreshing break from the late-summer heat.

We have five weeks in August. Don’t panic. Break it down!

With summer at an end, you will already be focusing on schedules. Schedule time for yourself. Use week one to pack in the things you wanted to do this summer and didn’t get around to, like badminton, croquet, or some corn hole in the backyard. Spend that day on the lake. The kids won’t remember the dozens of days on Snapchat or in their beds, just that one that you made everyone get out and interact. Your time together doesn’t have to be fancy, just don’t let it slip away with the summer of 2018. 

After July wrapped up, I decided to focus on finding things that I love about being American and using things “Made In the USA.” Week two, see if you and the family can identify some. I found there were some challenges, but also some great things, like locally grown produce, fresh Alabama shrimp (coastal, and right in our own backyard), and towels – and we drove cars made in the USA.

By week three, school is back in full swing. Ahh. Can you hear the silence? Embrace it, especially if yours has been a jam-packed summer. Start making some changes on the home-front to re-discover and nurture your soul. Set up your bedroom as a place of refuge. I don’t know why it took me a year to nail up (yes, when he was out of town I sure did) a blackout curtain! I’m sleeping like a baby this week. Infuse water with fresh Alabama grown berries, lemons… whatever makes you feel healthy. Keep icy water by yours and the kids beds in one of the pretty pitchers you save for some special occasion. Stick a flower from the yard in one of those "love" coke bottles. Light a candle, close your door, and peruse all the magazines that you didn’t have time to read while schlepping kids to activities.

Week four: Yes, work is calling, but you can also make changes there. On your desk, add essential oils, or a candle. The smell of lemon increases alertness. Rosemary helps fight mental fatigue. Cinnamon improves focus. Peppermint brings clear thinking. Keep that water available at work to get the 8 cups a day you neglected to get over the summer. A box or tray with dark chocolate and nuts within reach will help keep the mind clear. Add some music, some natural light, and watch the end of the year be the best part yet in the office. 

The last week begins with a full moon. Make a date to catch a glimpse of it every single night this week, until it leads you into Labor Day – your bonus for another chance for all things summertime.

It’s still your summer. Make it a memorable one!

Blessings,
Allison 

Allison Adams is a mom of four and a Realtor with Lake Homes Realty serving Lake Tuscaloosa. For comments, email aadams@lakehomes.com.  

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Home n Garden Thu, 09 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Woodbank Lane: Creating Stunningly Beautiful Planters for Summer Flowers http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2467-woodbank-lane-creating-stunningly-beautiful-planters-for-summer-flowers http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2467-woodbank-lane-creating-stunningly-beautiful-planters-for-summer-flowers Woodbank Lane: Creating Stunningly Beautiful Planters for Summer Flowers

Summer is in full swing here in the South! I have at least five mosquito bites to prove it, and the humidity gives my hair a life of its own as soon as I walk out of my house. It’s also the season for flowers, spending time outdoors, and, for DIY fans like me, it’s time for a project (or 10). 

Hi there! I’m Kathryn, and here’s a crafty idea for creating planters to help you enjoy your favorite summer flowers. It only takes a little time and a trip to your favorite home improvement store.  

Here’s what you will need:  

  • Empty metal containers 
  • White spray primer 
  • Any color spray paint 
  • Painter’s tape 
  • Thin string or rope 
  • Goof Off (Heavy Duty Remover) 
  • A small drill

Start by hanging on to a few empty containers you might otherwise throw away, like coffee cans, a Crisco can, vegetable cans, or cans for nuts. In the pictures you’ll notice I’ve used 10.5 oz coffee cans.  

Soak the cans in water for about 10 minutes, and pull off as much of the label as possible. To get the remaining paper and the sticky residue from the cans, I used Goof Off. It’s a great product, and you can easily follow the directions on the label. I picked mine up at Lowes for just a few dollars.  

Dry your cans thoroughly, and spray them with the white primer, both inside and out. Let them dry overnight. 

     

 

To give the planters a little character, use the painter’s tape to create a stripe. Position the tape anywhere on your cans—top, bottom, or middle. To minimize bleeding when you put on the next layer of paint, press down hard on the tape, especially on the edges. Spray the cans with your chosen color. I used an outdoor, anti-rust Valspar color called Peacock Blue. Allow the cans to dry indoors overnight.   

On the following day, remove the tape, and then step back and admire your handy work. 

     

 

Next, drill three to five drainage holes in the bottom of each can, and add your potting soil and flowers. I chose tall ones, so the cute cans would show. Once you have the flowers potted and arranged, wrap the string around the middle of the stripe a couple of times and tie a bow. The string adds another layer and texture.  

You could also do the reverse of this and have white cans with colored stripes. They’ll make the perfect table decoration for your outdoor summer get-togethers, pretty gifts for teachers, or a thoughtful hostess gift. Who doesn’t love flowers in a cute container? 

Tuscaloosa native Kathryn Wilkerson is a wife, mom of three, a teacher, and the author of Woodbank Lane – a blog that offers up a variety of different decorating ideas and projects, recipes, and inspiration for living. Follow Kathryn at woodbanklane.com and on Instagram @woodbanklane.  

 

 

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Home n Garden Tue, 07 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Lake Living: Strive to Make Each and Every Step You Take Count http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2453-lake-living-strive-to-make-each-and-every-step-you-take-count http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2453-lake-living-strive-to-make-each-and-every-step-you-take-count A letter Clara wrote to me before my wedding. This woman was my rock.

Life is a delicate dance of moments. If we’re lucky, we all get plenty of daily steps, and each is ours to use as we please. While I sleep, my husband has used 8,000 of his daily steps, and by 9 p.m. he is in at 21,000 steps… and I am just getting motivated to "do something." I am usually using all my "steps" through my fingers on canvas, behind the steering wheel, or on a keyboard.  

I like to plan. I even created my own daily planner. My favorite was the day timer. I wanted more balance, so on mine, I have a spot on my planning calendar to record all the "spokes on the wheel." I want to be sure my 90-year-old body is in good shape – but that my brain is also hanging around.  

My lifelong caretaker, Clara, died recently at 96. I spoke to her the week before she passed. She asked about my daughter's engagement, cheering for her in that gruff, happy, coughing laugh. She asked about my son by name.

Clara would greet us after we arrived off the bus from elementary school, cigarette hanging from her lip. “How was school?" she'd ask, as she caught the final 10 minutes of her show. Then, while the credits rolled for Guiding Light, she'd make us a grilled cheese sandwich, or give us a big hug if we needed one. 

I loved Clara. She was the only person who ever spanked me. She didn't hurt me as much as I had hurt her. She made me pick my own switch. The spanking was nothing compared to all the thoughts I had about what I’d done – as I looked for the perfect switch that might not hurt so much. She barely tapped me, and then sent me on my way. I still remember where that bush was that I stood in front of so long ago.

On Mother’s Day, I talked to my dad, Tom. He’s another story. His body was great until 72. Alcohol corrupted his brain, and after a series of health issues, he now lives in a nursing home a few hours away. Yes, the man who was to die 10 years ago of liver failure is on autopilot, and he will outlive us all. 

I was surprised when he called. I made small talk. I told him about his grandson who was following in his musical footsteps. And in his non-delicate way, he interrupted. “Yeah, baby, I need to stay on course or I’ll forget why I called. Happy Mother’s Day. Now, do you still have my mother’s number? I seem to have forgotten it.”

His mother is 103 and lives in Rhode Island. I spoke to her on her birthday in March. She is still an amazingly clear-headed and kind-hearted woman. 

Clara was my rock. Tom was just living the rock-and-roll lifestyle until everything ran out on him. Two people who lived their moments and took their steps in remarkably opposite ways. 

This is your day. Make your steps count for yourself, and nurture those around you. Remember that they, too, are deciding how best to use their steps. 

Blessings,
Allison 

 

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Home n Garden Thu, 26 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Woodbank Lane: Creative and Beautiful Ways to Decorate with Milk Glass http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2413-woodbank-lane-creative-and-beautiful-ways-to-decorate-with-milk-glass http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2413-woodbank-lane-creative-and-beautiful-ways-to-decorate-with-milk-glass Woodbank Lane: Creative and Beautiful Ways to Decorate with Milk Glass

Wandering around a thrift store is one of my favorite ways to pass some spare time. I love weaving in and out of the vendors’ booths searching for unexpected treasures. All things vintage appeal to me. I find myself curious about what road the old stuff must have traveled before it landed on the shelves of the second-hand stores. Two things I’m always on the hunt for are blue and white ceramics and milk glass. 

Hi there! I’m Kathryn, and here’s how I use the vintage milk glass I collect.  

Milk glass, if you’re not familiar with it, is an opaque glass that originated in 16th century Venice. The white variety became popular during the Victorian era and looked just like porcelain. It was mass produced during the 1950s and 60s. I bet your grandmother has some!

I've been collecting milk glass for a few years, and now I’m sharing how I use and enjoy the vases in my collection.  

I have nine vases—four matching pairs and one odd ball. I almost never find them in pairs, but I don't mind. Hunting and digging is part of the fun in collecting, at least for me. The vases come in many patterns and several different heights. Each of the sets I’ve collected has its own pattern. The openings are different on each set as well and add extra character. Some are flared, some are straight, and the opening on one set is scalloped. 


There are two ways I use the vases when I bring the collection out of the display cabinet and into the limelight. The first is to simply line them up like a chorus line in the center of my dining room table and drop in carnations. Nothing hard about that, and it makes for a stunning display. I can usually get almost two weeks out of the flowers. We celebrated our daughter's college graduation recently, and this is how they looked around day 10. Still going strong! Most of the time, I grab the carnations at my local grocery store; however, this time, I stopped by Tuscaloosa Wholesale Flowers on River Road. 

 

Another easy way to use a collection of vases is to bunch them all together on a tray. Collected items make quite a statement when used all together versus spread out here and there throughout the house. A tray of pretties like this would also be perfect for a foyer nestled between two lamps or atop a buffet in a dining room.  

 

I hope I’ve inspired you to look at what you collect and think of a way to use it that will add some fun to your decorating. 

Photos: Kathryn Wilkerson

Tuscaloosa native Kathryn Wilkerson is a wife, mom of three, a teacher, and the author of Woodbank Lane – a blog that offers up a variety of different decorating ideas and projects, recipes, and inspiration for living. Follow Kathryn at woodbanklane.com and on Instagram @woodbanklane.  

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Home n Garden Wed, 27 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Lake Living: Risks and Rewards – Learning to Embrace the Good in Life http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2404-lake-living-risks-and-rewards-learning-to-embrace-the-good-in-life http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2404-lake-living-risks-and-rewards-learning-to-embrace-the-good-in-life Okay, so maybe it’s not a huge “risk,” but gardening for me does bring a huge reward. Find what brings you joy this summer!

Although it has been happening since the beginning of time, it seems these days that more life-threatening events have been happening around us.

We are no longer able to calmly sit in a diner ("Face the door," a policeman told me recently). At concerts, we now anticipate what "might happen" as we try to embrace the music.

Luke Bryan's "People are Good" is a recent song that resonates in my mind as I write this. We can find good people all around. 

A recent policeman client told me every day he wakes up anticipating “what next.” He told me how often people harass him, tell him they hate him. Here he is, a young kid who at one time in life dreamed of being a policeman. He gets up every day, or stays out every night, so that we can have rest and peace. What has happened to our world? 

Even events that are unplanned, such as the recent tragedy of the lost life on an airplane due to a blown engine, can remind us that we are not in control.  

I don't bring these situations to light to point out the bad in life. I do so to remind you to embrace the good. 

Just this morning, I will be picking up a stranger to introduce him to Lake Tuscaloosa, so that he might find the perfect spot for family memories while his grown kids attend the University. I must trust that he is who he says he is (a background check isn't a bad thing either). 

Just yesterday, while riding through a neighborhood on the lake to scope out property, I saw a kid, no older than 10, walking alone from the bus stop. He stopped when I slowly went by, giving me a cautious glance, then went back to being a kid. I watched in the rearview mirror as he slapped the roadside and watched pods of flowers and grass filter up into the afternoon sunlight. His risk? Being alone on a back road. My reward? Watching his focus on the mundane and remembering the miles I put on tires at his age, climbing gravel hills to put a penny down before the train in the distance, and wading with friends beneath highways in culverts to see what was on the other side.  

Those were adventures taken without cell phones… and probably without our parents having any idea where we were or when we might come home. 

There is risk every time we leave our homes. There is risk within our homes. We have to embrace the potential rewards and not be afraid of life. 

We are not guaranteed anything, not even tomorrow. But for now, the night of peaceful sleep I got after writing this, and getting it out of my brain, is a great thing to savor.

I think about a lady sleeping tonight under a bridge. Read about her on my most recent blog post, "Something About Mary," at allisonpadams.com.

Sometimes, the reward is just being able to be right where you are.

Have a blessed and adventurous summer.  

 

Allison  

 

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contact@druidcitymedia.com (Super User) Home n Garden Thu, 21 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Summer Reads 2018: Druid City Living Recommends … http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2372-summer-reads-2018-druid-city-living-recommends http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2372-summer-reads-2018-druid-city-living-recommends Summer Reads 2018: Druid City Living Recommends …

What does summer mean to you? Hot days soaking in cool swimming pools, or lounging at the lake house? Trips to the beach, toes in the sand as the sounds of the waves relax you into oblivion?  

For some of us, we look forward to reading. We’re often so busy that we can’t get through even one novel we’ve been itching to read. We’re hoping that this will help give you some ideas on which books might suit your fancy as you lie on those beaches and swim in those pools.  

Laurie Perrigin, Editor of Druid City Living: 

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn is an outstanding thriller. It has an old school, Rear Window kind of feel to it. You won’t be bored, and as events unfold, you’ll find yourself staying up way past your bedtime to finish. It was billed as the first big thriller of 2018 – and for me, it certainly lived up to it. Anna Fox is a memorable character, and the story has a big reveal you aren’t likely to see coming – even though I’ve just told you there’s a big reveal.  

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a great drama that addresses some important themes – the haves and the have not’s, the relationships between mother and daughter, and social class. Ng is a gifted writer, and this book, unlike my other recommendation, unfolds more slowly and emotionally. Reese Witherspoon’s production company recently snatched this one up for a series, and given her stellar job with Big Little Lies, I am optimistic for the adaptation.  

Allow me to cheat a little and mention a hot new book I haven’t read yet – but can’t wait to: Kaleidoscope Jane and Other Stories by Tuscaloosa author Carolyn Breckinridge. If you loved Tuscaloosa Moon and Tuscaloosa Boneyard, this seems like a sure bet. And also? She was kind enough to offer up a few suggestions for some great summer reads.  

Hanson Watkins, Vice President of Druid City Media: 

I’m a huge fan of travel-related books and great storytelling, and Deep South by Paul Theroux is a favorite. Theroux has a reputation for being sharp and curmudgeonly about the locations in his travels, but he seems to have fallen in love with the south, and Tuscaloosa, in particular. You have to read his wonderful account of meeting Tuscaloosa’s own Cynthia Burton (director of Community Service Programs of West Alabama, and star of this issue’s Photo of the Month). 

Carolyn Breckenridge, Author:  

 A Girl Like You: A Henrietta & Inspector Howard Novel  by Michelle Cox is my top recommendation. For readers who like historical fiction, mystery, and sweet romance, A Girl Like You is a stellar novel set in 1930s Chicago. The author, Michelle Cox, is an award-winning writer who knows the history of her city and who spins a page-turning tale that includes some surprising twists along the way. Ms. Cox has also published her second in the series, A Ring of Truth, which is in my “to-read” stack now. Her third in the series is due out at the end of this month. 

Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham is marketed as a novel for young adults, but I found it to be a delightful read, and I highly recommend it for all adults. This novel, set in 1932, features the famous quilting community of Gee's Bend. The story is told through the life of the main character, a girl named Ludelphia Bennett, who must leave her very isolated community of Gee's Bend, Alabama to seek help for her family. It is a story of courage, love, and the importance of family and home, coupled with Ms. Latham's extraordinary research and understanding of time and place.

Tell the World You're A Wildflower, written by Jennifer Horne and published by University Press in 2014, is a lovely collection of short stories. They feature female voices of all ages and backgrounds as they tell their stories about growing up and living in the South. This is a book I keep on my bookshelf and re-read at least once a year. There are always new aspects of this work to discover. These stories confirm that Ms. Horne is a skilled author of prose as well as being Alabama's current Poet Laureate.                                  

The Cistern, by James N. Ezell While it's true he is my husband, Jim's recently published adventure/suspense/crime novel, set in Tuscaloosa and a fictional Black Belt county, has been earning five-star ratings for its clear plot line, endearing main characters, strong action, and interesting local color. It is a comfortable read, and a page-turner that promises readers a firm foundation for the remainder of his series. 

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contact@druidcitymedia.com (Super User) Home n Garden Wed, 30 May 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Alabama Wildflower Society to Hold 39th Annual Native Plant Sale April 7  http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2266-alabama-wildflower-society-to-hold-39th-annual-native-plant-sale-april-7 http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2266-alabama-wildflower-society-to-hold-39th-annual-native-plant-sale-april-7 Members Charles Day and Mona Guin are almost hidden by the native azaleas offered at the 2017 native plant sale.

On Saturday, April 7, the George Wood Chapter of the Alabama Wildflower Society is holding its 39th annual plant sale from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine, in the Kentuck Center courtyard in downtown Northport. The sale features primarily native plants indigenous to the southeastern U.S. but also includes some non-invasive “passalong” plants that are well-adapted to our area.   

For budding gardeners, it also offers a unique opportunity to meet local enthusiasts and add new plants to their gardens.

Items for sale are obtained from an out-of-state nursery specializing in native plants and from members of the Alabama Wildflower Society – who contribute plants from their own gardens and property.  

There are always some surprises among the plants we offer,” said Rosemary Blethen, who co-coordinates the sale with her husband Al Blethen.Members will be delivering items from their gardens right up to opening time. I always take home one or two new plants I somehow never acquired before.” 

Native plants offered will include many shrubs and trees, such as dogwoods, redbuds, pawpaw, butterfly bushes, hydrangeas, sweet shrub, and several varieties of native azaleas, all with some of the lowest prices to be found in this area. Ferns, ground covers, and flowering vines and plants will also be offered. Wildflowers for sale typically include columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, spiderwort, trillium, bloodroot, various asters and mints, and native irises and violets. Passalongs contributed by members typically include shrubs, such as flowering quince, spirea, and kerria as well as daylilies and other plants from bulbs. Some houseplants are also usually available.

Plants which bloom at different times, spring through fall, will be available, so gardeners may select plants to support pollinators that visit their yards throughout the warmer months. Bright-blooming plants, which are excellent nectar sources for butterflies and other pollinators, will be clearly marked, to make plant identification easy for gardeners interested in supporting pollinators. Flowers that do well in summer or fall include sunflowers, bee balm, coreopsis, and asters.

 Proceeds from the sale will help further education about, and preservation of, Alabama’s native plant life. Every year, proceeds contribute to college scholarships to botany majors in Alabama colleges and universities. Smaller amounts help support the Cahaba Lily Society and its annual Cahaba Lily Festival, as well as local projects, including support for the Wildflower Garden and rhododendron collection of the University of Alabama Arboretum.

“Come early for the best selection,” said Barbara Hollingsworth, the current president of the local AWS chapter. Hollingsworth also urged anyone interested to consider joining AWS. Membership information will be available on site. 

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Home n Garden Mon, 26 Mar 2018 19:00:00 -0500
Woodbank Lane: Finding Decorating Joy by Extending the Life of Your Décor http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2233-woodbank-lane-finding-decorating-joy-by-extending-the-life-of-your-decor http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2233-woodbank-lane-finding-decorating-joy-by-extending-the-life-of-your-decor Woodbank Lane: Finding Decorating Joy by Extending the Life of Your Décor

Grabbing a can of spray paint is one of my favorite budget-friendly ways to change up the look of things in my home. 

Hi there! I’m Kathryn, and here’s one of my recent projects that even the newest of decorators can do.

I decided to paint a round, silver mirror that had served me well for years. It originally hung in our dining room, then made its way to the foyer. It’s the first mirror of this shape and such a large size I’ve painted. It’s 36 inches in diameter.

Last spring, I painted our red dining room white (my elbows still haven’t recovered!), chose blue as the accent color, and decided to put the round mirror back in the dining room over the buffet. 

I had painted many mirrors over the years without too much trouble; however, this round one was a bit trickier to paint and required more prep work. 

I always liked the silver color and details of the mirror, and even though I’d had it for some time, I wasn’t quite ready to let it go. So, I did what I do. I bought some Valspar spray paint at Lowe’s. The color I used is called “Indigo.” 

Now, about that prep work ... 

Very few areas of the mirror would allow me to simply slide paper under the edges. I had to use painter's tape on the spots with no space between the glass and the edge of the wood. And, I couldn't use big, long pieces; only short, small pieces would work because of the angle. Once the tape was on, I used my thumb nail to make a firm crease. 

Next, I used a razor blade to carefully trim off the tape. Then, I sprayed away! The Valspar paint is great, but it does take its time to dry.

Before (left) when the mirror was silver and hung in my foyer, and after (right) in the dining room - blue!

It turned out just like I hoped it would, and I love the navy color with the brass lamps and green apples. My favorite way to style it is with classic blue and white. 

So, when you think it may be time for something in your home to go, buy a can of spray paint instead and extend the life of your piece.  

Tuscaloosa native Kathryn Wilkerson is a wife, mom of three, a teacher, and the author of Woodbank Lane – a blog that offers up a variety of different decorating ideas and projects, recipes, and inspiration for living. Follow Kathryn at woodbanklane.com and on Instagram @woodbanklane. 

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Home n Garden Tue, 06 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0600
At Home for Valentine’s Day for Parents http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2196-at-home-for-valentine-s-day-for-parents http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2196-at-home-for-valentine-s-day-for-parents At Home for Valentine’s Day for Parents

Valentine’s Day is on a Wednesday night this year. With soccer practices, church groups, homework, working late, and just general parental exhaustion, going out for Valentine’s Day this year may not be an option. 

Here are some ideas that don’t require a babysitter, much money, or much planning …  

 For the casual couple 

  • Many pizza places will do a heart-shaped pizza (Papa John’s has done them in years past). Order a heart-shaped pizza.  
  • Fire up the Netflix or video games and enjoy.  

 

For the romantic couple with a big bathtub (and kids) –  

After the kids go to sleep ...  

  • Get a few candles and put them in your bathroom (you can grab them on the cheap at the corner dollar store). 
  • Add some bubble bath (or shampoo, in a pinch) to your bath, or break out that bath bomb you’ve been saving for a special occasion.  
  • Go to Spotify and pick out a romantic playlist (put “romance” into the Spotify search, and find playlists like “90’s Babymakers” or “Acoustic Love”).  
  • Turn off the lights. This is both romantic and necessary for most of us if you have children because we don’t look like we did at 19. Candlelight is kind. Both of you get in the tub at the same time. Stay in for at least three songs. You probably will get sleepy. But it will be a more romantic sleepy than the usual Wednesday night.  

 

For the couple for whom even lighting candles and getting in the tub is too much –  

  • Make a dinner reservation for next Saturday night (or the next time you can get a babysitter).  
  • Tell each other you love each other.  
  • Hold hands as you go to sleep.  

 

Valentine’s Day is a “Hallmark holiday,” but it is always a good excuse to stop for a minute and fall in love again. You don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars, or plan too much, or even bring home flowers and chocolates. Just spending a little extra time together can make the occasion extra special.    

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hanson@druidcitymedia.com (Hanson Watkins) Home n Garden Mon, 12 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0600
Gratitude: At the Heart of Thanksgiving http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2083-gratitude-at-the-heart-of-thanksgiving http://druidcityliving.com/index.php/family/home-n-garden/item/2083-gratitude-at-the-heart-of-thanksgiving Dr. Boxmeyer and her family.

Gratitude is the sentiment at the heart of Thanksgiving. Recently, gratitude practice has been a major area of study in psychology. More than any other personality trait, gratitude is a predictor of good mental health and life satisfaction. For a list of research on gratitude, check out www.centerforhealthyminds.org.

Caroline Boxmeyer, Professor in Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Community Health Sciences at the University of Alabama, has found that gratitude practice is useful in her professional and personal life.

“Professionally, one of the main ways I use it is as a method of prevention in the schools in Tuscaloosa through the Mindful Coping Power project. In depression the brain is primed to look for the negative. Looking for positive can be strengthened like working out strengthens the muscles.  Gratitude is one component of the program.”

“It is not a panacea, but it does change the brain to appreciate our connection with other things and to focus on gratitude.”

The most common gratitude “practice” is the list. Making a gratitude list can be as simple as making a list each day in a notebook or journal. Some people do it every day, and some do it once a month.

Everyone has days where it is hard to feel grateful. It is helpful to look to other people’s lists for those days when the spirit of gratitude seems out of reach. Even if you don’t start out grateful, making the effort to search for something to be grateful for is part of the key to why it has such a powerful effect on depression. The act of finding something to be grateful makes the brain get out of a negative track.

So, don’t feel like you have to start off feeling grateful to have a gratitude practice. The practice is what creates the “attitude of gratitude.”

Social media, like Twitter and Facebook, have lots of examples of gratitude lists and can be a great way to connect with other people who are focusing on gratitude. A Facebook Gratitude Group or Twitter gratitude hashtag has the added value that you can see other people’s lists, which can spark new ideas. Simply search for “gratitude” or “gratitude lists” in the Facebook or Twitter search bar.  There are even gratitude support groups that you can join on Facebook

Children can benefit from simple gratitude practice as well. Boxmeyer says she has incorporated gratitude practice with her children.

“My gratitude lists are three things from the day that I feel fortunate for or grateful for. Then, with our children, we all describe things we are grateful for as a family. My children are 9 and 11. We have doing it since they were preschool age. They also do it in church. It’s interesting to see how naturally they have come to it over time.”

Gratitude “check ins” with your children can be in the form of dinner table discussions or even in the car during errands or carpool. Taking a moment to each share something you are grateful for counts as gratitude practice. It doesn’t have to be formal to be effective.

Beyond lists, there are also actions that can foster gratitude.  Charlotte Gibson, the director at the Children’s Museum of Tuscaloosa says that she uses honorariums as a way to say “thanks” for people that have been helpful in her life.

“Sometimes I will do honorariums or make memorial gifts. It is a way for me to acknowledge my gratitude for those special people in my life. Many times, I don’t ever tell the person and often it is someone who is no longer with us.  But this is one of the ways I express my gratitude for them.”

There are few things in life that are easy, free, and effective. Gratitude practice ticks off all three. And it doesn’t have to be perfect or involved to be effective.  

 

Books on Gratitude

  • The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year of Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan
  • Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach
  • The Psychology of Gratitude by Robert Emmons an Michael McCullough (research)
  • The Thankful Book by Todd Parr (children’s book)

Reasons to Do Gratitude Practices

  • Free
  • Even formal practice can take as little as a minute
  • Demonstrable effect on wellbeing
  • May help depression
  • May lower blood pressure and improve immune function

Easy Gratitude Practice Ideas

  • Join a Facebook gratitude group – just search for “gratitude” for a list
  • Add gratitude to Twitter – search for #gratitudelists, #thingsilovetoday
  • Gratitude journal – as little as one line per day or do a monthly 30 things list. You can also purchase special gratitude journals, but a notebook works just as well.
  • Do a gratitude “check in” during carpool with your kids

 

 

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hanson@druidcitymedia.com (Hanson Watkins) Home n Garden Wed, 22 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0600