Sunday, August 30, 2009

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
G.B. Stern

Sunday gratitude:

  • walking into my little community's downtown area for breakfast and window shopping.
  • this beautiful cool and delightful weather!
  • my orange and purple Zinnias going crazy in the front yard, some stems are taller than me!
  • being able to hear the local high school marching band drum line play at a Friday night football game from our back porch.
  • seeing all the fall and Halloween decorations in stores, I can't wait!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The most important political office is that of the private citizen.
Louis Brandeis

I would consider myself generally savvy in the political and government realms of today. I don't know it all and, goodness, I couldn't even imagine trying to understand so much of the daily dealings of our legislative system. There are areas that I am far more knowledgeable in than others. My eyes begin to glaze over with talk of cap and trade.

But I do think it is important to be aware of what is going on. Apathy in this arena really drives be crazy because in the end, you really do need to care. Maybe you can't do anything about it. Maybe you don't get why XYZ is supposed to happen. But, at least, you should care.

So I won't go into a long debate on health care reform because I'm sure we all are up to our eyeballs in it. However, I wanted to share an article written in the Wall Street Journal by John Mackey, who is co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. If you haven't heard, since this article was published there has been an outrage and boycotting movement against Whole Foods (ignoring all the wonderful things the company does for the environment, charities, its employees and the communities its stores are in).

I hope you take time to read it. Even if you don't agree with the views it has some really good plain English explanations for a lot of the health care jargon that's floating around. For me, it clarified a lot of view points I have been hearing and provided a well written explanation of one business man's opinion.

And, I think this week, I'll be doing my grocery shopping at Whole Foods.



The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare

“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out
of other people’s money.”
—Margaret Thatcher

With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people’s money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees’ Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.

Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan’s costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.

• Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.

• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor’s visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?

• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.

• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?

Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That’s because there isn’t any. This “right” has never existed in America

Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments.

Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment, according to a report last month in Investor’s Business Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.

At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly—they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health-care benefit dollars if they already have an “intrinsic right to health care”? The answer is clear—no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K.—or in any other country.

Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.

Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.

Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.

Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bride, n. A woman with a fine prospect behind her.
Ambrose Bierce

Today I'm participating in Kelly's Korner with "Show Us Your Life." This week's topic is wedding showers.

I've only planned one wedding shower and then, of course, only had one hosted in my honor. Both were with my dear friend, Casey. One for her wedding when I was maid of honor and then mine was hosted by her when she was my matron of honor, ahem, best woman.

Casey's shower was hosted by my mother and I in November 2006 at my mom's home in Florida.

Yummy food in the kitchen (the same kitchen where two years I later cut my own wedding cake!)

My mom's delicious punch.

The bride to be with the standard ribbon bouquet.

With the bride to be.

Casey hosted my bridal shower in October 2008 at her home.

Awesome food... she runs restaurants with her family, it was a given!

With Casey and my friend Melissa.

I love me some polka dots!

Beautiful quilt made by my mother with my father's shirts (he died in 2002). It is so soft and warm, we now use it all the time!
Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.
Elizabeth Lawrence

Now that my house has been put back together from a long weekend with friends, I sat on the couch last night wondering, "now what?" I had been looking forward and planning Ashley and RaeAnna's visit for so long and now that it is over, to me, it feels like summer is too.

The air is changing. The mornings are cooler and the afternoon sun much softer. I'm excited to see fall come to the area, it's the last season on my list and when it is over I will have been in St. Louis for a year!

So instead of being a little bummed that the big weekend was over, I thought about all the wonderful things to look forward to over the coming fall months:
  • Nick's friend's 30th birthday party. Nice to have some plans on Labor Day weekend!
  • I will be my friend Sarah's "date" to her sister's wedding in September because her boyfriend is actually in another wedding the same day. I love weddings and hopefully I can be of help too!
  • Switching the Yankee Candle tarts in the house from Clean Cotton to Spiced Pumpkin.
  • Our community is hosting their annual festival. Not sure exactly what it is all about but the plans and activities look fun to take part in!
  • Seeing Stephen Lynch here in St. Louis at the beginning of October. He's our favorite!
  • A fun trip to Chicago to celebrate my mother's 60th birthday at the end of October!
  • Planning my first real, on the porch (not my on back condo patio) pumpkin decor. I think polka dots and a monogram are in order.
  • Pulling out my fall and Halloween decorations - I have some really cute stuff that is just dying to try the St. Louis house on for size!
  • Nick's whole family is coming to St. Louis to celebrate is Grandma's 80th birthday! It will be fun to show them our city and celebrate. Even better that they are staying in a hotel. Phew! My tiny little house would explode for sure.
  • Seeing the leaves change for the first time. Maybe a little drive and overnight somewhere with Nick to see them in the country? Will I officially be a "leaf peeper?!"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hold a true friend with both your hands.
Nigerian Proverb

I had a busy, busy weekend shared with two of my closest friends. RaeAnna arrived on Thursday night and then much to her surprise we were joined by Ashley on Friday morning! RaeAnna had no idea we cooked up Ashley's surprise.

video

Picking up Ashley at the airport - surprise!

After we left the airport we drove out to the Meramac Caverns
(per RaeAnna's request) for a tour.


Very cool caves!

...but the whole thing was a little hokey.


On Saturday, RaeAnna's 25th birthday, we did a whirlwind St. Louis tour. Beginning with the Soulard Farmers Market and then Anheuser-Busch.

Then to the Arch.

We enjoyed a birthday dinner at Cafe Napoli in Clayton.

The group - Ashley, me, RaeAnna and Sarah

On Sunday we relaxed at the community pool and then made a stop at Ted Drewes. Yum!

On Sunday evening we enjoyed the beautiful weather outside with Mexican food.

I am so lucky to have such lovely friends - we had fun!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mighty proud I am that I am able to have a
spare bed for my friends.

Samuel Pepys

I have a treat arriving tomorrow evening, my college roommate RaeAnna! I've known RaeAnna since 2004 when we roomed with Ashley in college. We also lived together while I was in grad school and she finished up her nursing degree.

Her 25th birthday is on Saturday and she decided instead of spending it in Orlando, where she lives, she will come see me and celebrate in St. Louis (her first visit here). Looking through some photos I realized just how many birthdays I have celebrated with her - lots! It will be nice to add another to our list of memories.

I have a weekend of fun stuff planned and a few birthday surprises up my sleeve too!

Rascal Flatts concert

With Ashley at a fraternity charter event in college

RaeAnna's 22nd birthday

Golf in Florida

RaeAnna's nurse pinning ceremony

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cats are a mysterious kind of folk.
There is more passing in their minds than we are aware of.
Sir Walter Scott

Because really, what's cuter than a cat who learned how to play the piano?



You don't really have to watch the whole thing but I had to pass the warm-fuzziness along.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When Charlotte really liked somebody she said their whole name. It helped her picture their future monogrammed towels.
Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

I participated in a monogram swap hosted by Jewish Girl in WASP's Clothing. It was fun and easy because we were paired up and then got to select one monogrammed item from the suggestions from our partner.

I was paired with Liz at Horse, Hound, and Home. She requested something that she could use for her new nursing position (ID badge holder, coffee mug, etc.) and then suggested for me something with our new "couple" monogram.

Late last week I received my beautiful swap item from Liz: a custom designed, architectural detail monogram! Isn't it lovely?


I swapped out the "G" framed graphic on my living room wall and added our great new monogram piece of art! Thanks Liz!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend
was is so we can tell them about our own weekend.

Chuck Palahniuk

My mom arrived on Thursday and we enjoyed a lovely and busy weekend together. Because of Nick's work schedule I generally spend the weekend days by myself so it was so nice to have her here to explore and check some things off of my to do list.

On Friday, I left work at noon and we headed to lunch at the Boathouse in Forest Park. One of my favorite places to bring out of town guests.

Then we drove through Forest Park a bit and went up to art hill, what a view!

We went into the art museum to see the Ansel Adams exhibit, five small, framed photos as I suspected, but still very beautiful. I really liked their decorative arts and design collection which included beautiful furniture, silver and crystal pieces and pottery.

On Saturday morning we headed out to the historic St. Charles main street. I've never ventured out there but always heard it was darling - so true! We had lunch at Magpie Cafe (yum!) and explored the shops all down the street. Beautiful architecture, flowers and atmosphere.


Saturday evening we enjoyed dinner at Favazza's on The Hill with Nick and then mom and I headed to the Fox Theatre to see Mary Poppins. It was so, so, so good! I cannot recommend it enough! My mom said it was probably the best musical production she had ever seen. If and when the tour comes to your area I'd highly recommend going to see it!

Sunday morning we went to mass at Cathedral Basilica Saint Louis and then have coffee and beignets at Cafe Ventana. So delicious, of course.


We also did really exciting things like get my oil changed, pick up new mums at Home Depot and go to the grocery store. Then grilled steaks with Nick at home and watched True Blood and the season premier of Mad Men.

All and all it was a wonderful weekend with my mom. I'll miss her as she travels back to Florida today but I am certainly looking forward to her birthday trip to Chicago in October!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
G.B. Stern

Sunday gratitude:

  • having my mom all weekend!
  • seeing the fabulous Mary Poppins production at the Fox theater.
  • fresh Illinois (yup, not Georgia!) peaches from the farmers market.
  • new orange mums for the clay pots on the back porch.
  • going to Sunday morning mass at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

There's nothing like a mama-hug.
Adabella Radici

I'm so excited because I'm picking my mom up from the airport this morning for her stay until Monday! We have a busy weekend planned too. I'm used to Nick working all weekend so I usually tool around by myself so it's always nice to have some company and check out a few things on my list.

Here's our plan, I'll take any suggestions from St. Louisans too!

Friday:

I work until 12 p.m. and then we're going to have lunch at the Boathouse in Forest Park then peek into the Jewel Box and see the Ansel Adams exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

That evening we're going to see Julie and Julia.

Saturday:

Breakfast at Spencer's Grill, hit the library and farmer's market and then go out to Historic Main Street in St. Charles.

That evening we're getting dinner somewhere (any suggestions in the Clayon, Central West End or Grand Center?) and then heading to the Fox Theater to see Mary Poppins. I cannot wait!

Sunday:

Mass at Cathedral Basilica Saint Louis so my mom can see it and then beignets at Cafe Ventana. I think we may also stop by a greyhound rescue meet and greet so my mom can meet so people and pups from the rescue I've been working with here.

We may go see another movie or just relax at home that evening.

Hope you all have a fun weekend too!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I've come to the conclusion that the two most important things
in life are good friends and a good bullpen.
Bob Lemon

Last night I joined my friend Sarah for her company's night at the ballpark event. It was nice to spend time with her and of course I always appreciate free Cardinals tickets! It was a great game and we beat the Cincinnati Reds!

We were in the upper deck, where I have never sat before, and I loved it! The breeze was cool, the seats were nicely in the shade and a great view of the St. Louis skyline and the stadium.

View from our seats.

Beautiful sunset behind us and reflecting on the skyline

With Sarah (the weird thing is, that's not her hand on the right!).

Looking out over the seats to our right

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
G.B. Stern

Sunday gratitude:

  • chatting about Sarasota with The Preppy Lizard!
  • Hobby Lobby 40% off any one item coupons.
  • my mom arrives for a visit on Thursday!
  • peanut butter M & Ms
  • a finally reorganized closet.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A husband may forget where he went on his honeymoon,
but he never forgets why.
Evan Esar

Today I'm participating in Kelly's Korner with "Show Us Your Life." This week's topic is wedding reception and honeymoon.

Our reception was held at my childhood home out in the country of Florida (we have more than beaches!).

It was nearly all outdoors with a tent and then table under the tent, all over the yard and on the wrap around porches. All the doors to the house were open so people sort of wandered in and out. Our cake was in the kitchen, guest book in the living room.

The feel I was going for was, "come watch us get married and then come to the house for dinner and a party!" No formal seating, no head table. We had no "dances" except our first dance and also skipped the garter and bouquet toss. We had a great live band, big dinner buffet and a wine and beer bar. In the end it all came together exactly how I pictured.

Our fabulous band

Our first dance

Cocktail hour

Dancing under the tent

Cutting the cake

Reception site, my childhood home

For our honeymoon we went on a seven day Royal Caribbean cruise to Coco Cay, St. Thomas and St. Maarten which left from Cape Canaveral (about 3 hours by car from where we were married). We spent our wedding night at The Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota which was lovely.

Pretty room

We met Dick Vitale at The Ritz!

Leaving port


View from my Aunt and Uncle's house in St. John (you can rent it!)

On the beach at their home

Rock climbing on the ship

In port at St. Maarten
 
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