Happy Holidays!

Tara Bitzan, Chicz Editor

Tara Bitzan, Chicz Editor

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback you sent us after our first issue of Chicz hit the stands in October! We knew we loved the magazine, but we were thrilled to learn that you loved it too! Not only did you send us your appreciation, but you also sent us your fabulous ideas to feature in upcoming issues.

A few of you even got so caught up with the new magazine that you sent us articles, and we’re happy to say, we printed them! A special welcome to contributing writer Amanda Herzog, a 7th grader who felt she had something to offer the “young chicz” in the area.

We’re already at work on your winter issue and would love your input. Please send us a note about what you think of Chicz or share your ideas with us.

In the meantime, enjoy every minute of the holiday season. Don’t get so caught up in the “to do’s” that you miss out on the real joys of the season – time with loved ones. My wish for you is that this time is unhurried, unharried and heartwarming.

Merry Christmas!
Tara Bitzan
Chicz Editor 

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Chickens: Pets, food or both?

chicken C 82770181By Dr. Florian Ledermann

One interesting phenomena in American society is the explosion of the backyard chicken industry. This “Back to the Farm” movement is probably a reflection of our desire to reconnect to our basic roots of rural living from centuries past?
Are there chickens in your future? Here are some important considerations:

Source – Baby chicks are readily available in spring from feed and fleet stores or catalogs. You may need to order weeks or months in advance.
Reasons – To produce eggs, to eat or just for pets. This helps determine which breeds and how many. For pets only, maybe fewer than 10 is in order and select breeds that make good pets.

Longevity – Chickens can live several years if they are kept for laying but broilers (for eating) typically are harvested at 6-8 weeks of age.

Housing – Free ranging chickens can be a nuisance unless you have lots of space and neighbors are tolerant. Most are kept in coops and runs (which can be moved) in backyards in confined spaces.
Predators – There are many animals and birds of prey that like to eat chickens and eggs – not just humans. Skunks, raccoons, fox, coyotes, mink, hawks and eagles just to name a few. So coop design is very important for protecting chickens.

Health – Most hatchery chicks have minimal problems if they are raised in isolation where other chickens have not been. Coccidiosis, lice or mites, salmonella and viruses will become more common without good preventive sanitation and medication.

Chicken feed – Chickens need balanced diets and their requirements change as they grow. Good commercial diets are available at feed stores and fleets. Egg layers especially need good diets to produce plentiful nutritious eggs. Free range chickens can exist on bugs and plants but also need grains.

Environmental – You need to think about effects of your birds on neighbors and visitors and even your own family. Roosters can be noisy and very early alarm clocks – some will attack people and can be scary for children.

Regulations – Not all cities and rural townships allow chickens. Always check with your local government ordinances first.

Commitment – Like having a child, animals and birds need care. Most children leave home when becoming adults. How long to you want your chickens or do you have your own hatchet?

Dr. Florian Ledermann retired after 43 years of veterinary practice. He enjoys innkeeping, grape growing/wine making and spending time with his 13 grandchildren.

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Different ways to dye eggs

dv1897038By Lori Mork

Dyeing Easter eggs is a tradition for many families. Here’s a few ways to give them a new look.

Two tone. Dip top half of hard-cooked egg in one color and the bottom half in another. Or, dip each half of the egg in the same color for different lengths of time, creating different shades of the same color.

Dots and shapes. Before dyeing, place stickers such as dots, chicks, rabbits, flowers or other springtime designs on the eggs. Dye eggs, let them dry and remove stickers.

Stripes. Before dyeing, place rubber bands on the eggs to create a design. Once dried, remove rubber bands.

Personalized. Draw zig-zags or pictures on eggs with a white or light colored crayon before dyeing. You could use your eggs as place cards for an Easter meal.

Marbled. Mix 1/4 cup boiling water, one teaspoon vinegar, 1/8 teaspoon oil and 4-8 drops of food color in a shallow bowl. Gently roll the egg in the mixture until desired shade of color is reached. Transfer egg to a second color mixture and repeat. Allow egg to dry, then wipe excess oil with paper towel.

Color wash. Place several eggs in a colander in the kitchen sink. Splash eggs with vinegar. Drop desired food color onto eggs. Gently shake the colander for a few seconds to help the color spread. Let stand 30 seconds. Lightly rinse eggs with water and drain completely. Allow eggs to dry.

Painted. Mix together color and vinegar in a small container. Use a cotton swab or a small paintbrush to paint on hard-cooked eggs, making whatever designs you like.

Tired of the same colors? Try these ideas:

McCormick brand food coloring’s guide to custom colors for dyeing or painting

DYE: 1/2 cup hot water, 1 tsp. vinegar and food coloring

TURQUOISE: 2 drops green, 5 drops blue.
APRICOT: 4 drops green, 1 drop pink.
RASPBERRY: 12 drops pink, 2 drops blue.
DEEP PURPLE: 7 drops blue, 3 drops pink.
SKY BLUE: 1 drop purple, 9 drops blue, 2 drops green.
GREEN APPLE: 20 drops green, 2 drops blue.
RADIANT ORCHID: 7 drops blue, 3 drops neon purple.
HEMLOCK: 3 drops blue, 12 drops green, 6 drops yellow.
CAYENNE: 14 drops red, 1 drop blue, 1 drop yellow.
DAZZLING BLUE: 20 drops neon blue, 1 drop neon purple.
VIOLET TULIP: 2 drops red, 20 drops blue.
FREESIA: 1 drop red, 45 drops yellow (25 drops = 1/4 teaspoon).
CELOSIA ORANGE: 2 drops red, 17 drops yellow.
PLACID BLUE: 4 drops blue.

PAINT: 1/2 tsp. vinegar and food coloring

RADIANT ORCHID: 3 drops blue, 1 drop neon
HEMLOCK: 2 drops blue, 8 drops green, 3 drops yellow.
CAYENNE: 14 drops red, 1 drop blue, 1 drop
DAZZLING BLUE: 20 drops neon blue, 1 drop neon purple.
VIOLET TULIP: 1 drop red, 7 drops blue.
FREESIA: 1 drop red, 45 drops yellow (25 drops = 1/4 teaspoon)
CELOSIA ORANGE: 3 drops red, 17 drops yellow.
PLACID BLUE: 2 drops blue.

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Sold on celery

CeleryCelebration_March2015_2By Crystal Dey

Springtime brings images of fresh green buds sprinkled on tree branches as Mother Earth awakens anew. We drift away from the winter woes and closer to longer, sunnier days. The Celery Celebration has arrived just in time to jazz up your juice and get you into the garden groove.
This perky pick-me-up combines celery, cucumber and green apples for a vibrant vernal drink. Celery is known to be rich in the antioxidant luteolin and has polyacetylenes, which reduce inflammation. The leafy stalks can help with arthritis, osteoporosis, gout and asthma. Celery also contains properties that have been linked to lowering blood pressure and fighting cancer. Celery is a natural detoxifier for the body and is high in vitamins A, B, C and K, which help preserve youthful skin.
Juicing is an on-again, off-again trend, but the benefits are lifelong. Fruits and vegetables can be juiced with a dedicated juicer or blended and strained. Juicers are faster and remove more of the pulp. Some health analysts argue the pulp removed is insoluble fiber that prevents the body from absorbing the maximum amount of nutrients. However, the body also needs fiber, so both juicing and blending are great ways to get fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Makes one 20 ounce serving
4 stalks celery
2 green apples
1 cucumber

Wash and cut celery, apples and cucumber into chunks, each will yield about two cups. For less pulp, peel apples and cucumber before cutting. Peels remain intact for this recipe.
Blend celery, apple and cucumber separately into puree form. Transfer purees one at a time into a wire mesh sieve positioned over a large bowl. Wearing a food service glove or using a rubber spatula, compress pulp in sieve to release all juice into bowl. Once the juice has been extracted, remove excess pulp and strain remaining purees into bowl.
Chill celery, apple and cucumber juice mixture. Pour into glass, garnish with celery sprig and enjoy a little bit of springtime in a glass.

Crystal Dey is a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. She enjoys converting cocktails to mocktails and concocting non-alcoholic drink recipes that people of all ages can savor.

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As seen on TV: Air-O-Swiss personal humidifer

tv cBy Jamie Kakach

Air-O-Swiss personal humidifier

Small and Portable Humidifier

Grade: A+

Are you looking for a small but effective humidifier? Look no further! The Air-O-Swiss personal humidifier is everything you are looking for. Not only is it small and compact, but it uses a regular sized (16.9 oz) water bottle. This makes it perfect for home, office or for traveling! I highly recommend this product to anyone looking for a little relief from the dry winter air.

Jamie Kakach loves making crafts and trying out new products. She lives in Alexandria with her husband, Brian.

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Creative Easter egg hunts

EasterEggHunt2_ThinkstockBy Lori Mork

Before the hunt begins, write each person’s name on one egg. The person who finds the egg with their name on it first wins a special prize.

Give each child a special color for the egg hunt. They are only allowed to collect the eggs that match their basket. If they find colors other than their own, they must not say anything and allow them to think they are in on a special secret.

Before searching for their Easter baskets in the morning, give each child a plastic egg holding a clue that leads to another egg. From there another clue will lead to another egg and so on until the child finds their basket.

Create a treasure map for the egg hunt by drawing mats to scale with each tree, bush and flower on it. Then mark the spots where each egg is hidden, letting the children find the eggs by using the map.

Take the pieces of a puzzle and hide them in eggs. Show the children what the finished puzzle should look like and have them piece it together as they hunt for eggs.

If you have a large Easter egg hunt, put a checklist and pencil in a basket for each child and instruct them to find only what’s on their list, such as “find two blue eggs,” “find one pink egg,” “find three yellow eggs.” The children are only allowed to collect what is on their list and nothing more, ensuring that each child receives the same number of eggs.
You can also give a special prize to the child who completes their list first.

Weather leaving you indoors? Try hiding your eggs inside. My children used to love looking in the strangest places for their eggs – the microwave, the dishwasher, the laundry basket.
Or you could try hiding just the jelly beans, camouflaging them by hiding them on matching colored rugs or furniture.

Fill plastic eggs with small gifts such as temporary tattoos, stickers, small toys or wrapped candies, then hide them, along with some real colored eggs with numbers painted on them. When a child finds a real egg with a number on it, the egg can be exchanged for the corresponding numbered prize, such as stuffed animals, coloring books, chocolate bunnies, etc.

Instead of treats or toys in all the eggs, fill a few with notes, such as “give grandma a hug” or “do one favor for your little brother.”

While children are asleep, tie a long string to each Easter basket. Hide the baskets, then loop the string around the house, over furniture and under tables, then tie the end to their doorknobs.
When each child comes out, they can follow the string tied to their door to find their basket. Leave a few treats along the way to add to the fun.

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Single Chicz: Living paycheck by paycheck

wallet57283840By Annie Harman

When you’re about to graduate high school, the only thing you see on your horizon is the shiny lure that is college. It delectably dangles in front of you dreams of independence.
Then college comes to an end and the only thing you’re looking at is the deep, dark tunnel of the real world.
I couldn’t wait to be out on my own after college. I was tired of putting “Student” down as my occupation and was ready to go out there and make some real money. In college I felt like I was always bouncing from paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. I barely ever had any extra cash to spend on going out or treats for myself. It was all so frustrating!
Little did I know what living paycheck to paycheck really meant.
Now that I’m an independent, out-of-college 20-something, the reality of life has certainly done a bang up job of slapping me in the face with bills and responsibilities.
In college, I was scraping pennies to go out on Friday night. Now? I’m searching under my couch cushions to find spare change so that I’ll have clean clothes to wear to work on Monday.
I thought I was long past my days of living paycheck to paycheck, desperately trying to keep my head above water. But I was very, very wrong. This new reality I am living in is like nothing I ever imagined. Not only am I clinging to payday as my last lifeline, but there are times I actually have to decide which late fee I wouldn’t mind paying that month.
When it comes down to it, it’s just not easy being a college graduate in today’s world. I have many peers that either stay in school as long as possible or have returned to school, simply because they can’t handle the overload of bills that their entry-level job is supposed to provide for.
Going back to school isn’t an option for me. It’s not that I didn’t love school while I was in it, but it was definitely a chapter of my life that I was ready to close.
Instead of going back to school to further defer my student loans, I decided to suck it up and get a part time job. Now when I clock out from my real world job I step behind the bar and pour cocktails and listen to the daily grind from my patrons. It may not be the most ideal life, but it’s helping me make ends meet.
On the bright side, I can happily say I am doing what I love. I have a career I’ve always wanted and a part time job that allows me to be social and meet new people. I may be making peanuts, I can’t help feeling that I’m still living the dream.

Annie Harman of Alexandria is a free-spirited writer who believes in dreams, laughing and champagne.

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Great reads

the-nightingale-978144728305801By Kathleen Pohlig

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah is a well-known and popular writer with a long list of novels to her credit. Her newest book, The Nightingale, released on February 3, is quite a departure from her other fiction and is touted by many critics as her best writing to date.
In a note Hannah wrote about how the book came about, she says, “Sometimes a story sneaks up on you, hits you hard and dares you to look away. That was the case with The Nightingale. In truth, I did everything I could not to write this novel. But when research on World War II led me to the story of a young woman who had created an escape route out of Nazi-occupied France, I was hooked. Her story – one of heroism and danger and unbridled courage – became the starting point. I simply couldn’t turn away. I had to keep digging, discovering, reading and that story led me to others that were equally fascinating. Stories about women who had saved Jewish children and rescued downed airmen and put themselves in harm’s way to save others. Women who had paid terrible, unimaginable prices for their heroism.
“Their stories were impossible to ignore. I found myself consumed with a single, haunting question, as relevant today as it was 70 years ago: When would I, as a wife and mother, risk my life – and most important, my child’s life – to save a stranger? That question is at the very heart of The Nightingale – sometimes, perhaps, we don’t want to know what we would do to survive. In war, women’s stories are all too often forgotten or overlooked. Women tend to come home from the battlefield and say nothing and go on with their lives. The Nightingale is a novel about those women and the daring, dangerous choices they made to save their children and their way of life.”
The book tells the story of Viann and Isabelle Rossignol, sisters who took very different paths in life following the early death of their mother and disintegration of their family. Caught up in the chaos and deprivation of war and occupation by the Nazis, their lives were turned upside down; they struggled to survive and were forced to make many difficult choices. The two women represent countless others who survived similar circumstances; it is a story filled with ethical dilemmas, emotion and heart and is a moving tribute to the brave women who fought behind enemy lines during the war. The story moves along rapidly and keeps the reader engaged as the characters seem very alive and settings and events very believable.
Each of the sisters in the novel embarks on her own dangerous path toward survival in war-torn France. The book is a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone and I hope you will read it!

By Jan Myre

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

I read this book several years ago but it still is one of my favorites.
The Walk is the first book in a series of five that tells the story of Alan Christoffersen, who suffers the loss of his beloved wife, his advertising business and his home. In his grief, he contemplates suicide, but then makes the decision to start walking across country with only the pack on his back.
This story tells of his experiences along the way, people he meets and lessons he learned about, love, forgiveness and hope.
Richard Paul Evans has a way of putting little passages in his books that really make you think. A short read with only 161 pages, The Walk makes you want to continue reading the rest of the series. I would definitely recommend it.

Jan and her husband are retired and live on a farm near Holmes City. She is an avid reader and church and Hospice volunteer. She enjoys gardening and spending time with family, which includes six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

By Jeanne Wells

A Place Called Harmony by Jodi Thomas

This story follows three main characters, men who are down on their luck and who are looking for a new start, as they find their way to a trading post in the middle of Texas.
It is a story of how they build the town and their families, about the dangers they encounter and the lasting friendships they endure.
I liked the fast pace of the story, the humor and how the characters evolved.
I would recommend the book. Each of the character’s backgrounds were so diverse and yet they lived in unity.

Jeanne Wells is retired and lives in Alexandria.

By Cayla Bitzan

After by Anna Todd

This book is the first in a series of books about Tessa Hardin, a good girl who seems to have it all together – she makes good choices, she has a nice boyfriend and a strict mom.
But during her freshman year at college, she meets Hardin, a boy who is different than any she has met before. He has tattoos and a lip ring, and is extremely rude. He’s definitely not the type of boy mom would approve of.
At first Tessa can’t stand Hardin, but it doesn’t take long for her to start falling for him. He pushes her away over and over again but she finds that she wants him more as time goes on.
I liked this book a lot. It has nearly 600 pages but I read it in three days because I couldn’t put it down. I definitely recommend it, and I plan to read the rest of the books in the series.

Cayla Bitzan is a ninth grader at Alexandria Area High School. She likes to read and write, play volleyball, and hang out with her friends.

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Mommy and me crafts

MommyAndMe bunny3By Melanie Danner

Cotton Bunny Photo Frame (Pinterest)
Paper or cardboard
White and pink construction paper
Cotton balls
A cute picture of your dumpling!
Pink tempera paint
Pen or pencil

1. Draw a bunny on paper or cardboard and cut out.
2. Cut out face from photo and two little ears from pink paper.
3. Glue ears and photo on bunny, surround with cotton balls
4. Make foot prints on paper with paint and let dry.
5. Cut out feet and glue to the bunny.

Shamrock Hat (Pinterest)
Paper plate
Paint brush
Green tempera paint
Pen or pencil

1. Paint back side of plate green and let dry.
2. Draw a shamrock in the center of the plate.
3. Cut the surrounding area of the shamrock out from the center of the plate.
4. Bring the shamrock forward and ta da!

Easter Bunny Mask (Pinterest)
Paper plate
White, pink, and black (optional) construction paper
Black pipe cleaners
Popsicle stick or cardboard
Pen or pencil

1. Cut the center of the paper plate out.
2. Draw and cut two large ears out of the white paper and two smaller ears out of the pink paper.
3. Cut six whiskers out of the pipe cleaners or black construction paper.
4. Glue ears and whiskers to back of paper plate.
5. Glue the popsicle stick or cardboard to the bottom of the plate for a handle.

Teach your children about money

It’s never too early to help your kids learn about the concept of money. Fortunately, this a great age to have fun while they learn! Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior is a great tool for ages 3-12. It provides the resources for your children to learn money comes from work and the value of giving, saving and spending. These tools can help them to manage money as they grow into the amazing adults they are meant to be.
There are also several free tools on the Internet to help you make your very own play money with your kids. One of my favorites is cutting different sizes of circles out of a cereal box and letting them decorate them. They are easy to store in a recycled egg crate and can be tons of fun playing store. Decorate recycled plastic containers with paint, paper, and stickers for their very own, one of a kind piggy bank. The ideas are endless!

Melanie Danner of Alexandria is an at-home mother and craft lover.

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Creating a will: Gift preparation and peace of mind

Wills_AndrewWiener_ThinkstockBy Andrew C. Wiener

Saving for retirement, owning your home, planning for your children’s education, purchasing that dream cabin on the lake – these are the topics that people discuss with friends, family, and financial advisers. Too often these discussions ignore an important question: What happens to it all when you die?
Unfortunately, ignoring the question won’t stop the inevitable. Eventually, someone is going to have to sort through your estate. Getting organized now will only make things easier for those you leave behind and provide you with peace of mind in the meantime.
The most common estate planning tool is a will. A will is a signed, written document. Among other things, it directs the disposition of your assets at your death, names a personal representative to supervise your estate, and nominates a guardian for your minor children.
If you are married, have children, have a blended family, own property, or have some money in the bank, you should have a will. Additionally, considering the amount of time and relatively low cost of creating a will, there are few good excuses for not having one.

What Can a Will Do for You?
Wills and other estate planning tools are useful in preventing conflict following your death. Who will be your personal representative? Who will care for your minor children? How will you divide your money? Who gets your prized diamond ring or your autographed picture of Babe Ruth? Rather than guessing or arguing about what your final wishes may have been, your loved ones can rely on your will to answer these questions.
Perhaps equally important, a will allows your estate to be probated (go through the courts) with significantly less trouble than if you were to die intestate (without a will). This results in substantially fewer legal fees, fewer familial arguments, and less stress for everyone involved.
Truly, creating a will is a gift to those you will leave behind in the event of your death; a gift of preparation and peace of mind.
For more information about wills and other estate planning tools, see an attorney. There is no substitute for good legal advice when it comes to matters of your family and your legacy.

Andrew C. Wiener is an attorney with McCarten Law Firm Ltd in Alexandria and practices in the areas of family law, criminal defense, wills and estate planning and general practice. Learn more at www.mccartenlaw.com.

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He sez…she sez: “Toe-tally” out of his comfort zone

He gets a pedicure

Chicz_HeSezSheSez_PedicureBy Brandon and Amy Chaffins

Brandon: For about the past three years, Amy has been trying to get me get to a pedicure. She always adds that I will probably like it and continue to get them. Yup, you guessed it, I recently had a pedicure. Let me “paint” you a picture – ha, ha, ha, ha.

Amy: He did it and he survived. In fact, he’s just as manly now as he was before the pedicure. Trust me, he wasn’t so sure he would be.

Brandon: Amy and I recently visited my grandparents at Fort Meyers Beach, Florida. I thought it would be a normal vacation since I’m definitely a creature of habit and I don’t like to be out of my comfort zone. Little did I know what would happen!

Amy: Ladies, if you ever want to witness your fella launch into high drama mode, bring him in to get a pedicure. Good grief.

Brandon: So here’s what happened: During happy hour with my grandparents, the conversation turned to my grandma’s plans for a nail appointment the next day. Before I knew it, my lovely bride mentioned the pedicure situation and my grandpa said that he had done it before. Next thing I know, I am telling my grandpa that if he did it, I would. HUGE mistake – it was probably the beer talking. I totally should have known better.

Amy: It was an epic moment. I never thought he’d go through with it. But he did. He climbed up in the chair next to his grandparents and he got a pedicure – it was pretty adorable, actually.

Brandon: For those of you that have never experienced the pedicure, let me explain mine. You sit in this ginormous chair that has a little bath tub for your feet. The chair has heat and massage. OK, that part’s pretty cool. They tell you to dunk your feet after throwing some sort of tablet into the water and activating this jet propulsion doohickey in the tub. Dang! HOT water! After my feet got used to the water, it was pretty relaxing.

Amy: Imagine a giant grizzly bear propped in a high chair getting his toes done by a little lady one-quarter his size.

Brandon: Just as I’m getting settled and forgetting, for a moment, about the potential for damaging my manly and macho reputation, Amy takes a photo. Great, now there’s proof and I can no longer deny this ever happened.

Amy: Oh, but it did happen and I could not believe I was having a pedicure done the same time my husband was.

Brandon: Next, the pedicure technician lady comes over, sits down on a little wheeled cart by my feet and asks for one of my feet. She clips my toenails, used some sort of square object to file the tops of my nails and a flat filing thingy. Then, she used several metal hooks to push on the edges of my toenails, some sort of scary cutting device comes out and she traces the edges of my nails. Never a smidge of pain though. My foot went back in the jet propulsion tub and then the process repeats for my other foot. Then, she globs this stuff all over my foot and spreads it all over.
She looked at and felt the bottom of my foot, turned to the pedicure technician next to her and she hauled out this HUGE cheese grater! What the heck!? She proceeded to use it on the bottom of my foot. After a couple nervous moments, I realized it’s for callouses on the bottoms of my feet. Whew – once again, no pain. Done with first foot, back in tub, switch to next foot for the cheese grater treatment. Both feet then got some lotion that was massaged into my feet and legs. The lotion made my feet very slick and I was very careful not to step down from my chair and onto the tile floor without first putting my shoes back on.

Amy: It was a delightful experience; we giggled as he worked his way through a whole new level of awkward. I’m proud of him and there’s something to be said for a man with nice feet!

Brandon: I know I’m gonna pay for this, but the whole pedicure experience was pretty cool. My feet actually felt great for several days afterward. I may consider it again in the future. One thing though! This does not, I repeat, DOES NOT count as my wife being right and I don’t have to say those dreaded words every husband tries to avoid at all costs: “You were right.” Am I right? Maybe this will be my start to try and be more like my grandparents, two people I love very much and look to as examples of how to do it right and enjoy life and just try it at least once.
Keep the faith, fellas! You like the photo?

Brandon and Amy Chaffins of Alexandria have been married 11 years – long enough to have learned to live with each other’s “quirks.”

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