Back in 2009, while driving down Hwy 72 W near Dupree Worthey Road, I noticed a sign and some furniture pieces displayed outdoors that caused me to turn straight into the driveway of Nina’s Place Home Furnishings. Why? Because they had the unmistakable look of the substantive, artfully hand crafted, wood, metal, leather, stoneware and travertine home furnishings and décor that I had come to love so dearly while living and working with my husband at an orphanage in Juarez, Mexico.

I was most definitely on a sentimental journey, and my joy has only increased since then by getting to know “Nina,” (whose real name is Melinda Freeman,) and learning of her heart to help, her spirit of adventure, and her tea cup Chihuahuas, Kitty and Kali, whom, she says, “are part of the store.”

Melinda, (who picked up from her brother the nickname “Nina” when they were still small kids,) has done everything from helping to manage her family’s electronics brokerage business, to living for several years in Guadalajara, Mexico, to being involved with supporting international adoptions. She did what so many Athens Now customers have done: defy conventional wisdom and start a business in the middle of a recession, and the result is a place where it is not at all uncommon to have someone walk in for the first time and say, “This is just what I have been looking for!” Her love of rustic home furnishings goes back to her childhood in California, and she loves to think of it as “furniture with a soul.”

The furniture comes from Puebla, Guadalajara, and all over Mexico. “Some of the reclaimed and primitive pieces are actually made in people’s living rooms,” she told me. People, I might add, that she has come to know personally. The artisans who work with copper and travertine, (a type of stone whose composition is somewhat similar to limestone) have been at it for years, and the excellent level of craftsmanship has remained unchanged.

Melinda is a big fan of radio talk show host Dave Ramsey, who has helped many families become debt free through common sense, biblically based financial strategies, and Nina’s Place is happily “in the black.” “We do not operate in a negative cash flow,” she says, and as a result, she has an uncommon level of flexibility when it comes to selecting the pieces that fill Nina’s Place. She also is able to steer clear of the usual level of price mark up in which many furniture dealers things that make all the hard work involved in selecting and importing furniture so worth it is the joy she feels when someone finally sees the thing that they had lost hope of ever finding in a chain store or anywhere else. She also has helped give several local interior designers their start by employing them in the store, and loves it when they come back “home” with a client who is genuinely delighted in what is available.

Nina’s Place makes a point of carrying the work of several local artisans, and does cross promoting of their work with other outlets. Melinda, as do I, believes that “there is enough to go around.” In addition, due to the fact that her “passion is antiquing,” she has a real knack for finding treasures here in the South where so many regions have been picked over. Recently she found a rustic mantle that had come from a cabin in Kentucky, and once again, a couple who wanted something out of the ordinary was thrilled when they saw it. Nina’s Place carries excellent quality unfinished furniture, and will custom finish pieces to suit the client’s exact needs. They also specialize in painting furniture with the current interior color trends for which Mexican décor is so well known, and “if you bring in the paint, (and the piece you purchased has an unfinished surface,) there is no charge for painting or distressing it,” she added. Someone who was going through an intense time of personal crisis distressed her own piece of furniture, and found it positively therapeutic! Hmmm, a new take on “anger management?!” Nina’s Place has a hope and a vision for their future in the Athens area. The business is doing well, they are planning on having classes on refinishing furniture and other teaching venues, are passionate about giving back to the community, and the hard work is paying off. Come to Nina’s and enjoy the fruit of their labors, and explore a home furnishing store where their motto is, “We don’t carry a brand, we make it by hand.”
by Ali Elizabeth Turner

Terri Dunn, owner of Shoe Gallery, and her husband, Dr. Jimmy Dunn at the entrance to the new location of Shoe Gallery II on Marion Street.

It has been a dream of Terri Dunn’s to have her charming boutique shoe store be located on the Courthouse Square. For much longer than anyone anticipated, the storefront located at 109 S. Marion Street in Athens has been undergoing painstaking renovation, and the effort, while quite intense, is going to be fully worth it.

Wayne Kuykendall, the owner of the building and the visionary behind its renovation, has paid scrupulous attention to every detail of the project, and many times when I have been doing Saturday deliveries of Athens Now I have seen him “knee deep” in the work. For those who know Wayne, who is a lifelong resident of Athens, it is no surprise that he knows so much about the building and is totally committed to its restoration. He told me a bit of its history. It has been everything from an alley way to a restaurant to a sewing store. The reason it is so long and narrow is that it originally was the space between two buildings, but the “shotgun” shape is perfect for a boutique. The rough brick walls give a warm, homey feel, and the unusually high ceilings give the place a sense of space and light. The tile work at the threshold is accurate to the period, as well as the overhead lighting and the opaque tile work that makes up the transom. The original floors were too far gone to use, but Wayne found some old ones from another building, had them refinished, and they are beautiful. Only a few details remain on the “punch list,” as well as the final inspection, and then the process of moving from the current store, located at 1207 East Forrest Street, Suite G, can begin.

Before that can happen, however, Terri and her husband, Dr. Jimmy Dunn are going to be counselors at church camp, something they have done for years since their own kids were small. Once the move to the new location begins, there will be an “everythingmust- go” moving sale and both stores will be open for business until the transition is completed. Lots of work, to be sure, and the results will be wonderful, both for shoe lovers as well as people interested in the revitalization and restoration of the Courthouse Square.

So, whether you shop at the current location, or wait until the new one opens, what can you expect to find at the Shoe Gallery? For openers, service extraordinaire from Terri and her team. I have always been treated like a queen, as has anyone I have sent there to shop. Once I purchased a pair of shoes that turned out to be defective. Not only did I get my money cheerfully refunded, but Terri took my shoes to the market and spoke with the representative to make sure the problem with the shoe’s construction was remedied.

As far as actual shoes are concerned, Shoe Gallery carries such well known lines as Clark’s, Merrell, Vaneli, Pierre Dumas, (one of my favorites,) Nicole, and Jambu, an “eco-shoe” whose sales line is “be you with Jambu.” There are sandals, dressy evening shoes, boots, comfy-butnot- dumpy, and the new ultra light running shoes that are “all the rage.” When Terri can get great deals, she passes on the savings to the customers, and I personally have loved a pair of Nicole black patent leather flats that in New York go for $300, but are much less at Shoe Gallery.

Lovely, elegant, practical, and kicky purses are available, with a new line called Papaya being one of Terri’s current favorites. There are also some lovely scarves. The store also specializes in custom jewelry, including bracelets, earrings and necklaces. One line, called Priti, is made by a woman named Michele Smith who lives near Birmingham. Michele is very selective regarding her choice of stones, and she uses components from estate sales and other venues to craft her unique creations. She will do custom work, and if, for example, you purchase a necklace that is not quite the right length, she will adjust it for you. Shoe Gallery carries invitations, watches, umbrellas, note cards, stationery, journals and planners. One other service that Terri offers is ordering items for a customer from one of her many catalogues. No one can stock everything, so she is happy to show customers what’s available and get it for them.

I do believe the new location of Shoe Gallery II will prove to be one of the most beautiful shops on the Square, and thank Wayne, Terri and Jimmy for having a vision and then seeing it through. Can’t wait til the Grand Opening!
by Ali Elizabeth Turner

Much has changed in the life of LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist) Wendy Couch since I last interviewed her. She is now happily married, and on July 1st had an open house at her practice’s new location just off the Square at 109 Marion Street in Athens, having moved from her previous location in the Lambert Law Firm building on Market Street. There was a great turnout, with “lots of tours and socializing.”

Indeed the new location is ideal. It is roomy, serene, has potential for expansion of services, and as soon as I put this paper “to bed,” I am going to make an appointment for a much needed massage. I am truly overdue!

For those of you who don’t know Wendy, I can say from experience that her knowledge of both massage and massage-related health issues, compassion and level of professionalism have been a blessing to me both professionally as a publisher, and personally as a woman who tends to store her tension between her shoulders. I have needed her skilled hands to “unravel those ropes,” and she has amply delivered.

Wendy is a native of Madison, and after 12 years returned to the area in 2010. She opened her first practice in Athens just after the tornadoes hit in April, 2011, and says “the people in Athens have been wonderful to me.” There are several things I have found endearing about this young woman in the time that we have been each other’s clients. First is of hands.” Wendy, as is the case with many of us in Athens, sees her work as both a profession as well as a ministry, and I always enjoy her fellowship.

Second is that her rates are more than reasonable, and she is worth every penny. While she and I are both convinced of the truth of the biblical maxim which says that the “laborer is worthy of their hire,” she has a heart for people who normally would dismiss the idea of getting massage due to cost. She regularly has promotions, and clients need only to call to inquire. Wendy also offers full body scrubs, masks, and ionic footbaths, and uses only the purest of ingredients in her practice.

She received her degree from Madison School of Massage in 2006, and is licensed to practice several types of massage, including deep tissue, trigger point and Swedish. She also practices medical massage and is trained in pain management. Prior to her working in North Alabama, she was on the Army base located at Ft. Riley, Kansas, and used her expertise in pain management to help our soldiers, for which I am deeply grateful. Wendy, congratulations on your “new digs,” and we trust that your practice in Athens will only continue to grow and thrive!

It’s hard to have a bad day when you are walking
around in summer’s cheerful colors, so start smiling because color blocking is BIG this year in fashion. Wonderful color combinations were all over NY fashion week on the runways. What is color blocking? It’s a styling technique of mixing and matching colors that your Mom would probably call “clashing” colors. If there’s ever been a great time to wear loud bursts of color, it’s now.

Forget the old rules – you can SO wear red and pink together! The trick is to pair neighboring hues on the color wheel such as yellow-orange, purplepink or blue-green. Now draw a straight line across the color wheel from one of your selected colors to the opposite side of the wheel. Voila – the perfect accent color! Adding it to your ensemble is as easy as grabbing a colorful accessory like jewelry or a belt. Do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor and stick to 3 colors max to avoid the “Rainbow Brite” look!

Feeling adventurous? Try matching up more vibrant, but still-complimentary colors, such as the orange, turquoise and white necklace pictured below. Go for contrasting shades such as bold, primary colors – opposites attract, after all. For a more subdued look, pair like-colors such as purple/blue or pink/red that complement each other. For a true color blocking impact, leave the leopard spots and other prints home – solids only.

With all that color, the best choice for shoes would be a nude color or other neutral. Nude shoes are one of the hottest shoe trends right now and are a perfect finish to your color-blocking not to mention they make your legs look longer- woo-hoo!

A little shy about colorblocking your clothes? Try it in your jewelry, such as Guy & Eva’s trendy color-combos. Bright, colorful jewelry is the perfect finish to pull ALL of your fabulous summer looks together! Pam Hartmann is a Style Advisor for Guy & Eva Jewelry and has recently been trained through their new Style Academy. Attend a Guy and Eva Style Session to get the latest fashion tips, learn the best-styling for your body-type, face shape and coloring. To find out more about scheduling a session with your friends and earning free jewelry, contact Pam at 256-729- 1160 or email her at guyandeva.pamh@yahoo. com. Her website is

This is how recipes are born…… A few months back, two really ripe bananas were staring at me from my counter top. My first thought was to make my mother’s banana nut bread… My second thought was to add some fruit to her recipe. But, what would I call it? How much fruit would I use?

As I creamed together the sugar, butter and eggs, I decided I would wait to see the final product before I gave it a name. Thus, my Hawaiian Bread was born. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.Send your recipes and questions to ENJOY!


Athens Fireworks organizers are excited to announce that we will begin this year’s celebration early by having the Independence Day Celebration Fireworks Show on Saturday June 30th at dusk. By having the event on Saturday night instead of Wednesday night, this allows families and churches to have their own celebrations.

Independence Day is a favorite holiday of children because they enjoy the exciting and noisy fireworks. The fireworks are symbolic of when the United States became independent of Great Britain on July 4, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was approved. We all should remember that this holiday is the result of the valiant efforts and strong commitment of our American forefathers. We are fortunate enough to live in this wonderful USA and we should work together to maintain the integrity and values established by our forefathers.

Come to town early and have dinner and check out the unique shops downtown. Also, prior to the show will be a wonderful opportunity to honor all veterans by visiting the Alabama Veterans’ Museum which will be open 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. The museum is located at 100 West Pryor Street.
Contact Museum Director Sandy Thompson about groups and other information at 256- 771-7578.

This year the fireworks show is made possible by the City of Athens, Limestone County Commission, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association and Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce. The event will be held at Athens High School. A beautiful show is planned. Bring the entire family and enjoy the show.

For more information, contact Jeanette Dunnavant at 256-232-5411/256-867- 1438 or Jennifer Williamson at 256-232-2600.

Colonel Sam Gibbons may have passed on in 2010, but he remains a local military hero in the hearts and minds of veterans and residents of Tennessee and Alabama. He was awarded the BronzeStar, and endured horrific loss of his men in the European Theatre of WWII.

After Sam came home from the war, he did many things including working for Con-Agra, but became best known for his involvement with Tennessee Walking Horses. He is in the Tennessee Walking Horse Hall of Fame, and for 36 years, Sam managed the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, TN.

He also became very involved with the Alabama Veterans’ Museum, and worked as part of the board until he died. In honor of Sam, the Veterans’ Museum is pleased to announce the 1st Annual Sam Gibbons Tenessee Walking Horse Show on Friday, June 22nd at 6 pm. “We are hoping it will become our signature annual fund-raising event,” said Sandy Thompson, the Museum’s director. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Veterans’
Museum, or by contacting Sandy Thompson, at 256-771-7578, or Ken Wilson, 256-777- 4578. Come out and help the Veterans’ Museum continue to be one of the top attractions of the Southeast!
By Ali Elizabeth Turner

Drs. Lynn and Lorie Hedgepeth

Common Questions from Parents:
1. How early should children be adjusted?
2. Is it safe?
3. Why do they need adjustments?
4. What if they cry? All of these questions go through the minds of parents who are considering chiropractic care for their children. Some parents are hesitant about getting their children adjusted even though they are under chiropractic care themselves. If chiropractic care is important to your good health, then it should be important to your children’s health as well.

After all, children have nervous systems that control all of their body functions just as you do. And just like you, they get subluxations too. A subluxation is what happens when spinal bones loss their normal position and motion from stress, trauma, or chemical imbalance.

It’s Never Too Soon
Subluxations can occur at any time. The first one may very well have occurred at your baby’s birth. That is why parents who understand the importance of correcting subluxations have their newborns examined by their chiropractor as soon after birth as possible. By correcting subluxations at an early age, the damage that comes from functioning at less than optimal levels can be prevented. The longer a subluxation is present, the greater loss of proper function. In addition, the longer the subluxation is present, the longer your child’s body will continue to grow in a compromised way.

Many people who come in to a chiropractic’s office for the first time as adults would have had far greater potential for regaining their health if they had received regular chiropractic care as children.

Kids Make Great Patients
Adjusting a child is not a difficult procedure . In fact, in most cases, a child’s spine is much easier to adjust than an adults. Children have not had the long-standing subluxations, their muscles are not tense, and they are usually just more relaxed in general than adults. In most cases, children hold their adjustments for longer periods of time as well. However, with falls, accidents and the generally active lives most kids experience, regular chiropractic check ups are important.

It’s Worth The Effort
Chiropractic adjustments are usually painless. Children may, on the first visit or two, be somewhat reluctant. However, they rarely hesitate to get on the table to get adjusted, especially when they see other members of their family being adjusted as well. Chiropractic adjustments are important to their good health and the few tears that may occur on the first visit (usually because of fear of the unknown) are well worth the benefits to our children’s health. Obviously children who are adjusted regularly from infancy think of their visits to the chiropractor as a regular part of their lives and are not the least bit hesitant to climb onto the adjusting table.

Drs. Lynn & Lorie Hedgepeth are chiropractors at ChiroCare in East Limestone. They are both active members of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). You can obtain more information about children and chiropractic by visiting the website www.ICPA4kids. org.

When I got in the car Sunday, heading home to play with the dogs after an inspiring morning at church, I heard the last part of an interview with an author and her mother on the topic of sex toys. The daughter was asking Mom which ones she liked; I won’t go into details.

Then I checked the headlines when I got home. I saw that two former Auburn football players were dead because of an argument about a girl during a party at an apartment near the campus.

THEN, trying to find something to smile about, I turned on the news, and heard about an idiot who charged the cockpit door during a flight from North Carolina to California because flight attendants, sensing that he was drunk, refused to serve him another cocktail. I suppose he made their case.

To my Libertarian friends, I throw out the olive branch. I hate the TSA as much as you do. They waste our time, unless we’re terrorists; then for politically correct reasons we are ushered through as rapidly as we can kneel and offer the prayer of the hour.

My biggest problem with Libertarians is their naiveté on foreign policy. The notion that we can simply opt out of war is as preposterous as would be the notion that we can opt out of cancer. Neither is an option. But regular readers and listeners already know that about me.

My second biggest problem with Libertarians, though (and it’s a close second) is their amoral overreach. We don’t live in a vacuum; what we do affects others, which in turn affects commerce: Adam Smith, author of The Wealth Of Nations, was a moral philosopher, after all, before he codified capitalism.

A symbiotic relationship exists between virtue and prosperity. Neither will survive long without the other. The good news is, as with foreign policy and the economy, the administration has gone beyond societal norms on the social issues front, making them (social issues) legitimate and mainstream talking points—ones that, no doubt, will diminish the incumbent President.

Like the economy, in which the topic of deficits is routinely raised at dinner tables these days ( how bad is it if it gets that boring during a family meal?), and foreign policy, in which Syria is being talked about by more of us than usual, we’re all at least thinking about—and in many cases talking about-social issues. It’s a start in restoring the virtue necessary to ensure our prosperity, both of which are necessary for our safety. I have no doubt that President Obama’s cares about our safety, even as he hasn’t a clue how to keep us safe.

Learning As A Lifestyle

Get Footloose And More At The Center For Lifelong Learning

In an effort to provide courses and services to the teen population in Athens, The Center for Lifelong Learning has recently recruited a Teen Advisory Board. This Board, made up of representatives from the area schools, is tasked with helping us decide what kind of programming and events our area teens might attend.