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When I say the word “alcoholic,” what image and connotation come to mind? What are your immediate thoughts about the person? Are they positive or negative?
What if I described this lady to you: She is Ivy League educated. She has a loving and adoring husband. She has three beautiful children who do well in school and are involved in athletics. She is the quintessential soccer mom. She attends PTA meetings. She drives an SUV full of kids and sports equipment. She lives in a beautiful home in the suburbs.
What comes to mind now? Are you thinking, “Dang, I wish I had her life?”
This Ivy League educated, mini van driving, suburban soccer mom next door is a recovering alcoholic, and she is coming clean to break stereotypes and help others. Her name is Martha, she has been sober for 30 months, and I am honored to call her friend and introduce her to you. Trust, me, you NEED to hear what she has to say. More on that in a minute.
I took a jog over to Martha’s house for a chat over a cup of coffee and to offer advice about growing her blog, SobrieTease. Two hours later, I walked away knowing that God had our paths cross for a reason, because she is my second self. The words that she spoke about her recovery from alcoholism and how she chooses to view and live her life are the same fuel that drive me to do what I do for other cancer survivors. I had no clue that cancer survival and alcoholism recovery were so parallel and had so many similarities.
I want to introduce you to Martha and her blog, SobrieTease for two reasons: understanding and awareness.
The holiday season is especially difficult for recovering alcoholics, and if you are hosting, here are a few things to consider. As a respectful host, always make sure you have non alcoholic drinks (water, soda, etc) to offer. If one of your guests does not want an alcoholic drink, do not push them, do not ask them why they don’t want to drink, and do not ask if they are pregnant. Simply offer an alternative. You may or may not know about your guest’s situation, and a respectful host always tries to make her guests feel welcome and comfortable.
I asked Martha what advice she would give to well-meaning friends who are trying to be supportive as one is struggling with recovery during this time of year (or any time, really).
“Don’t exclude me from your events and activities. Please invite me, and give me the opportunity to make a choice. And please respect my decision.”
“While I appreciate a a friend saying to me that they won’t drink either in an attempt to make it easier for me, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Whether or not someone I am with is drinking, the temptation still surrounds me.”
Alcoholism can be hidden and shameful and it isn’t something that is easy to talk about. Here are two articles that Martha wanted me to share with you. Her story is real, raw, gutsy, and inspirational.
“We all have our struggles and crosses to bear— whether its depression, anxiety, addiction (of any kind—alcohol, food, drugs, gambling), an abusive relationship, an unhappy marriage— but it’s never too late to turn things around. ”
“Whatever your struggle, there is a reason behind it and somehow, someway, even though we may have a hard time seeing it or understanding it, God has a plan and will produce some good from it….I am supposed to take my mess, my bad, my pain and not waste it, but rather use it to help others in a similar situation. That situation doesn’t have to be alcoholism. It can be whatever trial or tribulation you suffer in your life. It reinforced the fact that it’s never too late to change something bad into something good. To consider it pure joy.”
Please be sure to check out Martha’s blog, show her some love, and reach out to her if you need a friend to talk to.
Every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “The Economic and Societal Impact Of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, May 2014, DOT HS 812 013. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812013.pdf. (from MADD.org)
Every day in America, another 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration FARS data, 2013. (from MADD.org)
The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but for too many families, they are filled with tragedy. In fact, 43% of driving fatalities on Christmas Day are alcohol-related.
I have committed to tie one on, and be a designated and sober driver. Not anything new for me, as I am always the DD, but this year, I pledged my commitment, tweeted about it and got a really cool ribbon for my car. You can too – just click HERE!
This holiday season (and at all times), please be respectful of other’s choices for sobriety, please drink responsibly, and please… do not drink and drive.
Martha, thank you for being so courageous and putting yourself out there to help others. I look forward to collaborating with you on future projects and articles and service.
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Obviously this is a public website, and your comments will NOT be private. But if you do wish to comment or share… anything… your thoughts are always appreciated.
How many of you have guests coming to visit at some point over the holidays? This is a comprehensive list of ways to add some special and seasonal touches to help make their visit memorable. But not too comfortable, right… we do want them to leave at some point LOL!
1. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or whatever you celebrate, add a couple seasonal touches to the guest room. Our guest room is tiny, so we added a super small Christmas tree, decorated with ornaments that give tribute to our town. If not a tree, then maybe hang a stocking or wreath on the door. Bonus hostess points if you provide a small welcome gift.
2. Stock up on the basics – toilet paper and tissues – and make sure they are visible and can be easily found in the middle of the night. Bonus hostess points if you put the plunger nearby. (Just sayin).
3. It’s cold and flu season. Do you really want everyone in your house using the same towels to dry their hands? Pretty disposable towels will help to minimize the unintentional spreading of germs.
4. Purchase a decent brand full sized shampoo, conditioner, and body scrub for the shower. Bonus hostess points if you have an extra hair dryer for your guests.
5. Pick up some one-sized or larger sized plush bathrobes. Not only will this help to keep your guests warm, but allows them to cover up between the bathroom and bedroom.
6. A nightlight for the bathroom or hallway.
7. First on the list – extra blankets! Warm, snuggly blankets.
8. Our guest room is in the coldest part of the house. In addition to extra blankets, we also splurged on an electric mattress pad.
9. Extra… extras. Your guests will always forget something. This monogrammed diaper basket is dual use for extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps, disposable razors, female products, and more.
10. Scrubbies with the tags still on. Your guests will know that they are for them to use, and are new.
11. Seasonal magazines. These are great for nights or mornings if your guests are awake and want some quiet time to themselves. Bonus hostess points if you put one in the bathroom!
12. If you live in a tourist city/town, or a place with interesting things to do, keep a box of tourist brochures and pre-stamped post cards for your guests.
13. Keep a tray for keys, wallets, and phones.
14. Be sure to write down your home network’s name and password for your guests to connect to.
15. Bottles of water and small snacks are always appreciated.
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What about you? What are the special touches you do for your guests? What about when you are the guest? What are some of your loves and pet peeves?
I can’t believe it’s time already to start shopping for holiday gifts! Where did the year go? If you are like me, the kid presents are easy because they are very specific and ask for everything. But there’s always that someone on your list who is impossible to shop for. While this guide doesn’t cover everyone on your list, I picked out 35 great gifts, all under $50.00 (at press time), for those who are the most difficult to buy for.
I love supporting Etsy shop owners who are the traditional mom and pop shops. First off the bat, I am showcasing some of my friends’ shops and would love for you to check out what they have to offer. Hubby and I are very proud to support our local and/or indy businesses when we can. Unless you are a tried and true Etsy shopper, it’s easy to forget about this great resource for homemade and vintage gifts. The owners of these shops are all in the Coconut Head’s circle of love so you know you are in good company.
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More Unique Gifts
If you purchase any of the items below from my affiliate partners, I will receive a small commission. [Editor’s note – I heart capitalism and Mamma has to pay the bills too!]
It’s a parent’s biggest nightmare – when your child is diagnosed with cancer. Kiel is six years-old and is the son of a friend of a very good friend of mine. As we are entering the season of giving, I want to share several opportunities for you to open your heart to this family.
“Kiel’s cancer is known as Rhabdomyosarcoma. This is a soft tissue cancer that arises in the muscle and it accounts for approximately 4% of all childhood cancers. It is the Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma which accounts for only 20% of all the tumor cancers in this group. It is a very aggressive form and can redevelop even after being treated.
Kiel will need to undergo at least 40 weeks of Chemotherapy and at least 3 weeks of Radiation therapy. He will also have to go in and have surgery to remove the tumor which will be a very difficult procedure. He is a very brave boy and has been very strong throughout this whole process so far.”
I can tell you from personal experience how expensive cancer treatment is. Even with good insurance, the cost for treatment is astronomical. There are two ways you can help to support this family offset the burden of Kiel’s cancer treatment. Their world has been turned upside down, and the stress of paying for the care of their child should not be something they have to worry about.
My friend Samantha has graciously offered her Scentsy shop to help Kiel’s family. From now until November 30th, any purchase you make on her Scentsy shop(be sure to be on Kiel’s party page), 100% of the commission will be donated to Kiel’s family. Head over to her website and choose to shop “Kiel’s Warriors Fundraiser”.
Kiel’s Personal Giving Page
At any time, you can donate directly HERE to help offset medical bills for Kiel’s cancer treatment. If you don’t have the money or don’t wish to donate, please consider sharing this page on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Love, hugs, and praying for my little warrior brother.
This isn’t just the ultimate Thanksgiving guide, it is the ultimate Thanksgiving guide of guides. I have collected five of the best guides from the most trusted sources for everything you need for your Thanksgiving dinner… all in one place. If you are hosting, no need to worry, the answer to whatever question you have is somewhere in here!
None of the content is mine, I simply curated it all for you. These folks spent a lot of time putting their information together, please be sure to click on the link to go to their site and pin from there.
As a special treat for you today, we are going a little rustic to enjoy an outdoor Thanksgiving tablescape.
This tablescape stays in the tradition of a simple Thanksgiving tablescape. I mixed rustic elements with crystal and my go-to white place settings.
Rattan chargers from Target form the base of the place setting. I did a simple fold for the silver.
What I love most about this Tablescape are the leaves. How wonderful would it be if your Thanksgiving Day was warm enough to enjoy your dinner outside with the leaves changing?
For the centerpiece, I used a simple fall inspired garland wrapped around two lanterns and a pumpkin candle holder.
Instead of using a tablecloth, the bare table adds to the rustic vibe. So do the leaves that kept falling onto the table while I was taking pictures. I went with it – they add to the ambiance, don’t you think?
I have to share a little behind the scenes story with you. I created this tablescape in the morning, hoping to catch the sun at the right time. But because of the time of year and the deck facing East, I missed my window of opportunity. So then I thought, how wonderful would this be to capture the table at dusk with the lights on the pergola? The day was cool to begin with, and at dusk, the temperature really dropped. It was in the 40’s and I was wearing Hubby’s warm winter coat to take the pictures and then clear the table and bring everything inside. Dedicated? Crazy? All of the above?
I think this will be the last outdoor tablescape until the weather warms up!
Since the dining room seems to be the room of choice for Thanksgiving, I thought I would share a sneak peek into our mini remodel. I don’t know if it is because I grew up in a home with a beautiful dining room and it was always the hub for our family gatherings, but I love a formal dining room. It seems that lately, homes are being built with an “open concept” design, and are getting away from the traditional dining room. Maybe it’s because most families only use this room once or twice a year? Regardless, I was hooked on our home when I saw this room. I will share the entire renovation in an upcoming post (TBD), but until then, here is a little sneak peek of what is in store.
Many years and several owners before us, the dining room did not exist. You can see the brick wall in the picture below – that was the original exterior of the home. The dining room was built around the fireplace, and is now a double-sided fireplace, which makes it so warm and cozy, especially for winter time entertaining. Off in the corner, you can see the built-in bar nook. That is part of the renovation I will share in an upcoming post (be sure to subscribe and follow me so you don’t miss it!). The dining room table was my parents, and was perfect timing for us to take over the family heirloom when they moved into a retirement community and had to downsize.
The drapes are from Restoration Hardware. I’m all about saving or splurging where it makes sense. These drapes were a splurge and well worth the money. They are heavy and have a beautiful color, and pool perfectly onto the floor. The sheers underneath… that is another story. There used to be radiator heating on the wall, so the sheers (pre-update) had to be higher than they were supposed to be. It’s one of those things now that is annoying, but not worth having to replace immediately. I’m bringing high water back in style, eh? The rug is from Pottery Barn. It has such a classic pattern, and it’s the perfect color to hide spills.
Here is a close up of the chimney and fireplace.
I love this chandelier. It was here when we purchased the home, and I have no intention of ever replacing it. It’s a little rustic, a little glam, and fits in with our style perfectly.
The corner hutch has a fun story. I found it next to a dumpster many years ago, and used it since. It was originally a light pine color, and I gave it several coats of paint – Behr’s Sweet Molasses. It now holds one of the sets of China inherited from my Grandmother. Remember what I said about splurging and saving? Touche.
The dining room used to be beige on beige. I have a few closet obsessions in life, and Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy is one of them. Is it possible to hug paint on a wall? I paired Hale Navy with Alexandria Beige and these historic colors give this room just the right amount of personality. The pictures don’t do it justice, it’s one of those colors that you have to see in person.
Here is one last view of the dining room. Be sure to subscribe and follow me so you don’t miss the before and after “reveal” and other awesome posts!
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What about you? Do you have a formal dining room or is it a part of open concept? What do you think I should do with the sheers – keep or replace?
My sweet potatoes have decided to boycott marshmallows this Thanksgiving. It’s like Occupy Thanksgiving in this house!
Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C and full of yummy healthy nutrition. Why, oh why do we need to put marshmallows on top of them? It’s like putting gummy bears on top of your salad.
This sweet potato recipe is one of those that doesn’t sound quite right when you read it, but it works. Somehow by the mystery of the universe, the flavors all come together in one big happy symphony. It’s like bacon wrapped dates. (or bacon wrapped anything….. mmmmmm… bacon….. oh I’m sorry, where was I?) Trust me. It works. You don’t need marshmallows to make sweet potatoes taste good.
Click on the recipe to open a new window for a printable version.
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What about you? Marshmallows or no marshmallows on your sweet potatoes?