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The only Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in the country is located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and it’s a must-visit!

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BlogHer Voices of the Year Awards: I Won!

Defund KomanI am thrilled to announce that my It’s Time to Re-Think Pink post has won a BlogHer Voices of the Year Award! It received the People’s Choice Award for Op Ed, which is even more meaningful to me because it means readers like you voted for it. I can’t tell you how honored I am by this.

My post was one of only 110 selected as Voices of the Year out of 1700 submissions. I will be honored at a special reception at the BlogHer convention in New York City in August, and can’t wait to report back to you from there!

I had a fantastic time at BlogHer last summer in San Diego, where I got to meet Pioneer Woman’s Ree Drummond and Budget Fashionista’s Kathryn Finney. I was even invited by Kathryn to write a guest post, Five Great Accessories That Are Good for Your Closet AND Your Community.

Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to vote. I am so grateful for my amazing community.

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.com.

resolution #53: read more poetry

Like many teenage girls, I used to write poetry. My poems (a term I am using very loosely, having just cringed my way through notebooks of them, which I discovered while cleaning out my closet) are mostly about love — of course. But because I grew up in the early ‘70’s, there are also a disproportionate number about the fact that war is not healthy for children and other living things.

In my teens, I voraciously read Emily Dickinson and listened to Joni Mitchell (still one of my all-time favorite writers – just spend an afternoon going through The Complete Poems and Lyrics, with or without musical accompaniment, and you’ll remember why you wore out your vinyl copy of Blue). They so eloquently and succinctly expressed what I so often felt.

Although this is really embarrassing, here is a poem from my 17-year-old self:

you used to laugh when i

told you my hopes, my desires.

i confided in you, poured out the

secret wishes from the depths

of my heart

and you waved them off as trivial.

i was reaching for the sky and you

were holding my hands back.

“keep dreaming,” you told me. “you’ll

never do anything really


you were wrong, though.

i left you.

I’m sharing this for a couple of reasons. One, to give you an example of really bad poetry so you can appreciate the really good kind. But, more importantly, to show you that even bad poetry has its place – in a notebook, journal or on a scrap of paper that’s meant only for you. I’ve been married for so long now that it’s hard to remember who I wrote that about, but the words gave me confidence and provided a solid way for me to express my feelings, take control of the situation and move on. Words on paper can be very powerful, and being able to turn to them again and again can be very comforting.

A couple of years after writing that poem, I met the love of my life and pretty much stopped writing poetry. I guess it’s true that art often comes from a dark place, and happiness can have an inverse effect on creating art.

I didn’t discover poetry again until my daughter was in high school and won the Iron Poet contest in her freshman English class (thank you, Jeannie Chufo, teacher extraordinaire, for inspiring both of us to explore and fall in love with poetry). Although I never felt compelled to start writing poetry again, I began sending e.e. cummings poems to my husband (“i carry your heart with me …”), devouring Mary Oliver’s work and buying all the books in Roger Housden’s Ten Poems to … series.

Recently, my good friend Midge Raymond – five second commercial break: if you haven’t read her short story collection, Forgetting English, stop right now and order it on Amazon. I promise you will be blown away. The writing is gorgeous and the stories are like tiny, amazing novels. Anyway, Midge graciously introduced me to the work of two brilliant female poets whose books need to be on your bedside table where you can sip and savor them and let their words languish in your head and heart.

Elizabeth Austen has written what just may be the modern female anthem. The title poem of her chapbook, The Girl Who Goes Alone, will take your breath away with its simplicity and truth. It is the kind of poem you want to share with your best friends and your daughters. Each poem in this slim but meaty volume is a gem, thanks to the poet’s mastery of language. Her On Punctuation should be required reading in every English class, and Her, at Two, which you can read in Sightline, should be carved into the headboard of every baby girl’s crib.

The poems of Susan Rich explore the world around and inside us with raw emotion and sensitivity. The words themselves are lyrical and often haunting, and titles like An Army of Ellipses Traveling Over All She Does Not Say … beckon you in with their humanity and universality. Her collection, The Alchemist’s Kitchen, is a warm and welcoming place which will feed and nurture your soul.

I know poetry can be intimidating and seem like a mishmash of words. But, trust me, if you spend some time with the poems I’ve talked about here, you will see – and feel – the surprising power and beauty of words which are hand-picked and lovingly placed together. Good poetry forces you to read slowly, think about what you’re reading and appreciate both the message and the way each word is used to convey that message.

Good poetry is that little flower growing out of the crack in a city sidewalk.

Afghan Women’s Writing Project

After her last trip to Afghanistan in November, author Masha Hamilton (one of our favorite authors – and people) decided it was time to give the women there a place to make their voices heard before it was too late. She created the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, which is filled with astonishing, eye-opening and very personal stories from women who have to make an extreme and often dangerous effort to get their words out to the rest of the world. Make a donation and help empower these women.

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.

Words to Live By Bracelets

We are completely smitten with Carolee’s Words to Live By bracelets, which feature engraves quotes from some of our favorite books, including “Eat. Pray. Love.” and authors like Joyce Carol Oates. We think Anisha Lakhani’s “When I teach I am the best of who I am” would be a much-appreciated teacher gift and Cecilia Ahern’s “Dream … then make it happen” would inspire a new graduate. These silver bangles do more than just look good, though – they also do good. Ten percent of retail sales from the Authors Collection will benefit Literacy Partners, a non-profit organization which provides community-based family and adult literacy programs.

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.

The World’s Smallest Letter

Some of the biggest sentiments come in the smallest words. Personally, I’d take a succinct “I love you,” “You’re beautiful” or “The check is in the mail” over a long, flowery expression any day.

So when I came across The World’s Smallest Postal Service, I was immediately hooked. Just submit a letter up to 120 words long – plenty of words to get your point across without going overboard – and for a mere $8, it will be transcribed onto a piece of one by one and a half inch stationery and plopped into an itsy bitsy envelope, addressed, stamped and sealed with a miniscule wax seal bearing your initial. It even comes with a magnifying glass to make sure your message comes across clearly.

The letter itself may be tiny but we guarantee that its impact will be huge.

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.


Support your local PBS station during March pledge week to keep sensational shows like “Wordgirl” alive. This hit animated children’s series teaches kids words like “cumbersome” and “hoax” while entertaining them with a fifth grade superhero named Becky who fights crime and enriches vocabulary. The show is, in one of Becky’s own colossal words, “magnificent.”

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.


Quotable has been “spreading the words since 1993” – and, oh, what words they are. Unable to find greeting cards that weren’t “cheesy and sappy,” Gillian Simon and Matt Vogel decided to create their own line featuring quotes from some of the greatest wordsmiths of all time.

Because quotes like “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away” struck an immediate chord with consumers, Quotable quickly expanded to journals, mugs, tote bags, note cards and even really cute matchbooks. Their signature style is simply letting the words speak for themselves.

I’m planning on stocking up on all the products that say “Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.

The Writing on the Wall

Vision boards have become so popular because they put your dreams right in front of you, making them feel more real and attainable.

Wallwords work in sort of the same way. Available in a huge variety of sizes, fonts and colors, these vinyl letters and graphics easily transfer to your walls and send out good karma like “And they lived happily ever after” or remind you to “Dream big.”

What I like about Wallwords is that they give your home a story. The words you choose – there are more than 3000 phrases, plus you can custom order your own – provide a context to your life, whether it’s a big “Everybody’s got a laughing place” in your family room or a subtle “Relax” in your office. You can put up a poem you love, the lyrics to your favorite song or even the meaning of your child’s name.

What I also like about Wallwords is that they’re temporary and can be changed as easily as your moods. Whether you choose “Always kiss me good night” or “Closed until further notice,” they definitely make a statement.

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.

Sticks and Stones

Whoever said “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me,” was way off base. People are harmed by words every day, and with the constant need to fill gossip magazines and websites, the problem has become epidemic.

Since 2001, Words Can Heal has been determined to reverse that trend with a national media and educational campaign designed to reduce verbal violence and gossip. Honorary Chairpeople and Board Members of this important, bi-partisan project include a who’s who of politicians, celebrities and business leaders, including Joe Biden, John McCain, Tom Cruise, Goldie Hawn and Barry Diller.

The actual pledge drive may be over, but it’s never too late for you and your family to take the pledge to use your words responsibly and always opt for the ones that will encourage, engage and enrich.

Will this really help make the world a better place? In a word, yes.

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.

describe your life in six words

Six Word Memoirs

“Not Quite What I Was Planning.” Six word memoirs from Smith Magazine.

Read this book and devoured it. Writing six word sentences ever since.

Love the idea; short and sweet. Gets to the point right now. No excess blah blah blah – blah. Perfect for time of paring down.

Inspiring, touching, devastating, powerful, honest, real. Famous writers, everyday people, true feelings.

I want to hear your story.

Tell me in six words, please.