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March 18, 2012
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behind the lines D
o we ever stop making lists? It seems as though I just marked off the last item on my Christmas one, and already I am starting my spring “to dos.” This year, my lists are more important than ever, as life has taken on an exciting new dimension in the form of my 2-year-old grandson, Wyatt. Now, alongside a reminder to start comparison shopping for a new lawnmower, I make a note to keep an eye on the toy section at local stores. A self-propelled, 21-inch Briggs and Stratton for me; a bubble mower for Wyatt. Believe it or not, I’m actually excited about yard work this year. No, I’m not looking forward to cutting the grass or mulching the flower beds, but rather to making memories. In this edition of RVL Magazine — the first of 2012 — our staff has compiled stories we hope will help you get a few things done around the house, maybe with a little buddy of your own in tow. Heather Sprinkle has collected ideas for a
green spring clean, while Preston Tolliver writes about tax preparation tips just in time for the filing deadline. There are also features on Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Christine Sain and fitness aficionado Danya Johnson. On the lighter side, Adam Sweeney profiles spring fashion while Cindi Nobles shares the wedding story of a local couple in conjunction with our annual edition of RVL Weddings, beginning on page 25. I hope you find items in this edition to inspire you, whether they focus on home improvement, self improvement or just plain old Arkansas River Valley fun. More importantly, I hope the next few months offer you opportunities to connect with family and friends, right here in our own backyard. Here’s to spring fever!
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March 18, 2012
A rainbow of hues define this seasonâ€™s fashion trends.
A FIT LIFE
Danya Johnson keeps staying active all in the family.
The fitness craze takes on Arkansas River Valley roots.
A local CPA offers filing tips just in time for April 17.
A word from the new director of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
CLEANING & RECIPES
If spring cleaning makes you hungry, check out these cures for both, submitted by a reader and Old South Restaurant.
The annual wedding-planning insert starts here.
Images from the JA Charity Ball and Talk of the Town Tables. Publisher David Meadows Advertising Michelle Harris Business Office Kelly Davis Circulation Mike Geiss
Design Mary Kincy Cope Gracie Camp Photography & Cover Art Joshua Mashon Production Adam Franks Steve Douthit
Sales Jim Kelley Lauren Lampkin Judy Manning Marie Norris Meagan Wilson
Published quarterly by The Courier, Russellville, Ark.
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March 18, 2012
March 18, 2012
color guard RVL Magazine
Bright hues among top spring fashion trends
By Adam Sweeney
ith temperatures rising slightly ahead of schedule this year, fashion shoppers are setting their sights on spring fashions. Lindsey Bartlett, co-owner of women’s clothing store Leaning Willow on Parkway Drive, said the most obvious trend for spring is bright colors. “Color is everywhere. Colored denim is a big thing for this season — all different colors, all different shades,” Bartlett said. “You’re going to see colored denim in every color from turquoise to pink to orange and blue. Yellow and coral are also hot colors going into the spring. That’s the No. 1 trend starting for spring and summer. It’s bigger than last year. There was some color last year, but this year it’s quite a bit bigger.” Another popular trend Bartlett foresees is prints of all varieties — not only in clothing, but also in accessories. “We have crazy prints in everything — tie-dye, designs, leopard print, anything with a bird on it,” she said. “Butterflies are big. Birds are just big right now. ... Prints are back. Prints in anything are back — big bold patterns like back in the ’50s. All of that’s coming back. Tie-dye kind of goes back and forth, but it’s big again for this year.” Lace is another popular fabric for tops and dresses this spring, Bartlett said. “Lace is feminine,” she said, explaining the fabric’s appeal. “It’s an old, classy, feminine, girly look.” Bartlett said general trends for the spring include the continued ubiquity of skinny jeans and loose-fitting, flowy tops. In accessories, Bartlett said headbands are growing in popularity. “Headbands are huge, whether they’re leather or a scarf or cotton,” she said. “Any color of a headband is very popular. It’s kind of a ‘hippy chick’ look.”
Opposite page: Sydney Blake models Joe’s Jeans skinny jeans with a Vintage Havana cropped shirt and a pair of Seychelles shoes provided by The Other Foot and More. Left: A Knitted Dove lace dress. Above: Joe’s Jeans skinny white jeans and a Karlie black sheer top. Top: A Karlie dress with feather earrings and an Emi-Jay ponytail holder.
Other popular items are scarves with chevron patterns and purses in a variety of colors. Bartlett said jewelry trends are mostly unchanged from the fall. “Feathers are carrying over,” she said. “Earrings are still big. Gold is probably dominant over silver. The big chandeliertype earrings are still really popular.” Bartlett said the trends are mostly driven by fashion magazines and television. “A lot of times you’ll see things in magazines months and
even seasons before stores like us get them,” she said. “We’ve had people buy a certain item and come in later and say, ‘Oh my gosh. I saw this in People Style.’ And ‘The Today Show’ does looks for the season. We’ve actually been surprised at how many things we have that have shown up on these lists. We had a lady come in the other day and say ‘This (item) was on the top resort wear list on MSNBC. I think that’s weird.’ I think they watch all that ‘Top things to have in your closet for the spring’ and things like that.”
10 March 18, 2012
a fit life Danya Johnson and her family make fitness a way of life
By Adam Sweeney
n a way, Danya Johnson, 34, has fashioned her life after the triathlons she’s fond of competing in with her husband and two children — only with many more than three separate events. Johnson’s work, family life, hobbies, new role as an advocate for a community aquatic center and certainly her interest in triathlons all boil down to one common denominator — fitness. In her position as a data coordinator for University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Johnson spends her time researching health factors for low-income families and children. Some of her recent work includes research on obesity in families with children ages 2 to 8. For six years, Johnson has also served as a fitness instructor at Saint Mary’s Wellness Fitness Center. She began there after joining her husband Jason, an avid gym user, and discovering she could obtain her certification and teach. “I thought, ‘Huh. You mean you would pay me to start coming to the gym instead of me paying you?’ They said, ‘Yeah. Yeah,’” Johnson said. “So I signed up and got my certification and I fell in love. It’s been a passion of mine to engulf everybody around me with making better choices — being more active.” After her children — 13-year-old son Cameron and 12-year-old daughter Cassie — took an active interest in swimming, Johnson met Janna Ritchie, a swim coach for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Arkansas River Valley, and was eventually asked to help coach the younger children participating in the Sharks program. “I’m sort of like a cheerleader and about making it fun and getting them some endurance and learning the terminology about swimming,” Johnson said. After two years of swimming competitions, Johnson’s children were encouraged by teammates to participate in a youth triathlon. Soon the Johnsons — including Danya’s husband, Jason — were competing in family triathlons. “They went and loved it and said ‘When can we do it again?’” Johnson said. “So we
March 18, 2012
killing two birds It’s sort of
one stone. with
Danya Johnson on the benefits of family exercise
looked around online and found out there were three or four they could go to during the summer. We started doing them and they loved them. It was a great way for our family to hang out and not in front of the TV. They think they’re going on a bike ride with Mom and Dad instead of training for a triathlon.” Many events later, the Johnsons plan their summer schedule around family triathlon events and swim team competitions. She said training for the events has brought the family closer together. “I love watching my kids learn how to persevere and prepare and how to encourage others and sort of learning those skills together,” Johnson said. “It’s just really been a sweet experience to do that with my children — to compete with my son and see him on the course and to have my kids yelling for me when I cross the finish line and to be able to say ‘Let’s go on a bike ride’ and all go and ride together where we’re not inside and not in front of the TV. We’re just as vulnerable and tempted to sit on the couch and veg out as anybody. But when your kids are like, ‘Mom, we really need to get a bike ride in,’ you’re kind of like, ‘Well, I can’t tell you no.’” Johnson said she would recommend
exercising or training as a family to anyone. “I think it just helps you monitor their relationships and what they’re learning and the choices they’re making and how they’re seeing the world through their eyes,” she said. “It’s sort of killing two birds with one stone. If you’re walking, you’re getting your 30 minutes of exercise in and you’ve connected with your children or your husband, even. It keeps you invested in one another instead of independent.” In recent months, Johnson has added one more fitness-related event to her busy schedule as she and Ritchie have taken an active role in the development of a plan for an aquatic center in Russellville. Earlier, they contacted Russellville aldermen Burke Larkin and Mark Tripp about the proposed center. As a result, Johnson has essentially become head of a focus group gathering ideas for the project. “I told the group, ‘I really want a pool. That’s the only thing that qualifies me to speak to you people.’” Johnson said. “I have no clout to be the one up here except I really want a pool. I didn’t know what else to do except get everybody else in the room that might want a pool, too.” SEE FIT LIFE ON PAGE 35
March 18, 2012
March 18, 2012
Leslee Finken (right) leads a Zumba class at Saint Mary’s Wellness Fitness Center in Russellville.
Fitness craze encourages River Valley to get up and dance By Heather Sprinkle one are the boring days of counting five, six, seven, eight — now turn, two, three, four — during exercise classes. Hundreds of women across the Arkansas River Valley are taking Zumba, the popular Latin-inspired fitness program offered in local health clubs, churches, dance studios and warehouses.
Chances are if you’re not attending Zumba, you know someone who is. “It’s like a party,” said Heather Harris, Zumba instructor for All That Dance on West Main Street. “Sometimes women come to my class to lose weight, but they keep coming back because it’s fun.” Zumba’s choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue,
mambo, martial arts and other moves set to fast-paced music. No repetitious counting is required. Instead, the music alerts participants to the changes. “Everyone does the dances a little different,” Harris said. “It’s not about being exact. It’s about having fun while losing weight and toning.” SEE ZUMBA ON PAGE 14
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ZUMBA continued from page 13 Zumba instructor Tonya Gosnell began attending Candice Lee’s Zumba class in Dardanelle in November 2010 and lost 10 pounds within two months. “In college I was really into fitness,” Gosnell said. “But this is the first exercise I’ve found that truly slims me and makes me leaner.” Gosnell became licensed in September 2011 and now teaches three evening classes at the Interstate Firework Building on State Highway 7 across from Shiloh Park. “I love seeing the smiling faces of everyone while we dance,” Gosnell said. “Women come for the first time with a friend, and then the next time they bring a friend, too. My class is like a little family. Everyone supports and encourages one another.” Alberto “Beto” Perez created Zumba in the mid-1990s in Colombia and brought it to Miami in 2001. By 2005, Zumba was worldwide. Zumba is derived from a Colombian word that means “move fast and have fun.” “People worry they won’t know the dances or be able to keep up,” Harris said. “But there is repetition within each song, and the moves are choreographed to match the beat and sometimes the words. People catch on really quickly.” A variety of adult Zumba classes are offered locally, including Zumba Fitness, Zumba Toning and Zumba Gold for seniors. “I’m licensed to teach Zumba Fitness I and II, as well as Toning,” Harris said. “When we do Toning, we dance
with maraca-like sticks that tone target areas. It’s Zumba intensified.” Gosnell and Harris agreed participants continually list the fun and exciting, always-changing vibe as the No. 1 reason they prefer Zumba to other fitness regimens. “I didn’t like cardio,” said Leah Brakefield, Gosnell’s student. “I love Zumba.” The Latin-inspired dances and aerobic elements are designed not only to tone, but create lean muscle, tighten waistlines and burn between 700-1,000 calories during each one hour session. Participants can decide to dance full-blast the entire hour, or modify the routines and move at a slower pace. “I tell my students to keep moving even if they don’t have the movements exact,” Gosnell said. “I say pick one, either do the hands or the feet, but keep moving.” Harris and Gosnell agreed Zumba is more than a fitness program. “I’ve seen Zumba help people make total lifestyle changes,” Harris said. “People see results fast. They feel better and then they start making healthier lifestyle choices.” “I’m 41 and eight pounds lighter than I was in college when I was running three miles each day,” Gosnell said. “I look forward to Zumba three nights a week. God made me to Zumba.” Zumba classes are offered at more than 10 locations throughout the Arkansas River Valley. Visit www.zumba.com to find a class perfect for you.
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March 18, 2012
Doing your own taxes? Be prepared By Preston Tolliver
ith the tax filing deadline only a month away, those who are still waiting to complete a return should take note of what deductions are available, what to avoid and what changes regarding returns have been made in the last year, Pam Magness, a Russellville-based certified public accountant, told RVL Magazine. The first step in preparing to mail an envelope to the IRS, however, is simple: “Get organized,” Magness said. “Make sure you have everything there, in one spot, together.” Magness stressed the importance of realizing what can be deducted and warned filers not to let the looming April 17 deadline deter them from gathering receipts or documents that could add to their refund. She said the list of the most overlooked deductions tends to include charitable donations. She added that most taxpayers could decrease their tax bills by maintaining a log of work expenses, including keeping up with mileage spent driving a personal vehicle for work use, or keeping the receipts for work-related purchases. For mileage recorded for the first half of 2011, workers are eligible to deduct $.51 cents per mile, and for any mileage recorded after July 1, workers can deduct up to $.55 1/2 cents per mile. Magness said a mileage log can be as simple as a list kept in a notebook or day planner. The biggest mistakes Magness sees in her office involve underreporting income or not reporting it correctly, she said, both actions which can be detrimental to any tax return. “The most common misconception I hear is, ‘I didn’t receive a 1099, I don’t have to report it.’ That is not true. If you received income, you have to report it,” she said. A 1099 is a type of form that includes certain income not typically reported in a W-4. Magness offered a note for those whose refunds seem smaller
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than last year’s — or whose tax bills seem larger: The $400 Making Work Pay credit the government offered the past few years is no longer available. Those who feel they cannot complete their returns by the deadline of April 17 can file for an extension, but Magness stressed that doesn’t mean taxes aren’t due on that day. “People think that if you have an extension, that means you have more time to pay,” she said. Not so; “Estimate what you’re going to owe and pay it by the 17th.” Above all else, Magness encouraged anyone who isn’t wellversed in doing his or her own taxes to seek a professional consultation to ensure accuracy and the best possible refund from a return. “If you’re unsure of what you’re doing, seek out professional help,” she said. “There’s so many people who will go out there and make mistakes that could have easily been avoided just by turning to someone who actually prepares taxes full-time or is a licensed CPA, and those mistakes can be costly.”
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March 18, 2012
big commitment Christine Sain has a vision for the future of Big Brothers Big Sisters
March 18, 2012
By Preston Tolliver iving up has never been an option for Christine Sain, who spends her days trying to better the lives of local children as area director of the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program. Sain, a Springdale native, began working for nonprofits in 2009 with Teen Challenge, a ministry for women caught in addiction and other life-altering issues. She led morning devotionals, participated in fund-raisers and assisted the ministry’s members. “I wanted to help women who were struggling with some of the same things I struggled with as a child or as a teen,” Sain said. In April 2011, Sain, 40, left Teen Challenge to work for Main Street Mission, where she stayed until she was hired as program coordinator for BBBS. In January, she was promoted to area director. “Working for a nonprofit is very fulfilling, because you’re a service provider,” she said. “You’re providing help to people who are less fortunate and you get a sense of accomplishment when you know that you’ve helped someone during a difficult time.” As area director, her responsibilities include public relations, fund-raising, event planning, recruiting board members and volunteers, matching children with mentors and monitoring relation-
ships. Most importantly, she makes a difference in kids’ lives. “We have proof to show that we’ve affected change in people’s lives. That’s what’s important,” she said. “We’re affecting change in the child’s life, and there’s a ripple effect, and that’ll affect our community.” She said the program benefits more than the kids it serves. “If we can help our children become productive citizens in our community, that improves the community,” she said. Sain moved to Russellville in 1991, where she met Johnny, her husband of 19 years, and was self-employed, selling insurance for 15 years. Later, she decided she wanted to pursue a different path. “I just decided I wanted to go a different direction in my life and I wanted to pursue a career that would be fulfilling and would serve a purpose in helping other people. I knew what it was like to struggle and I chased the almighty dollar, but I never felt fulfilled,” she said. Sain said her biggest inspiration is her faith in God, and she tries to instill the same values of volunteerism in her 10- and 16-year-old daughters. When she worked at Main Street Mission, she sometimes took her daughters to the office with her. SEE COMMITMENT ON PAGE 18
Left: Christine Sain looks on as Big Brother Drew Killingsworth (right) enjoys lunch with his Little, Nathaniel Kiggins, at Crawford Elementary School in Russellville. Sain is the new area director for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
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COMMITMENT continued from page 17 Sain defines success as being a positive and productive member of society who affects positive change — something her tenure in nonprofit work is allowing her to achieve. “I’m just always looking for ways I can help improve wherever I am,” she said. “I’m doing it to help make somebody else’s life better, which, for me, that’s way better than getting a plaque on the wall.” Sain attributes her success to her family, friends, co-workers and board members who share her passion and goals — and the idea that giving up is never an option. “If you don’t learn from mistakes and things that happen to you in life, and you don’t learn different and better ways, then it’s kind of all in vain,” she said. “Abraham Lincoln had several things he failed at — he had failed businesses, he ran for office several times before being elected, but he didn’t give up. And I reflect on that a lot.” As for BBBS, Sain said by the end of the year she hopes to raise the number of active matches in Russellville from 35 to
50. She’s helped lead the program in a media blitz and recruiting campaign the past few months in hopes of acquiring mentors for the 24 Russellville children who are on the waiting list. She also hopes the program will expand and be able to host more than 50 matches, though doing so would require significant financial support from the community. “With the current staff and funding, we can have 50 matches. If our funding increased, and we could increase the staff even by one member, we could support more matches,” she said. “I don’t like looking at the files knowing even after I find 15 more Bigs that I’m still going to have 10 more kids waiting.” She hopes to turn her position with BBBS into a long-term career with the program and continue her work to help others overcome struggles in life. “I always hope to improve as a person, affect change where I can and do the best that I can to make BBBS the best that it can be,” she said.
March 18, 2012
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Possum Pie 1. Blend equal parts cream cheese and powdered sugar. 2. Prepare packaged chocolate pie filling according to directions on box. 3. Spoon cream cheese mixture, then chocolate pie filling, into cooked pecan flour pie crust. 4. Let cool 4-8 hours, or overnight. 5. Top with heavy whipping cream and pecan sprinkles. Hand-battered mushrooms 1. Dip mushroom tops into buttermilk wash. 2. Place tops into cracker meal seasoned with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning. 3. Fry until golden brown.
Hand-battered onion rings 1. Slice a Colossal onion into 1- to 1 1/2-inch thick rings. 2. Dip rings into a wash of buttermilk, then place into cracker meal seasoned with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning. 3. Fry until golden brown.
Above: Old South Restaurant’s version of Possum Pie.
— Compiled by Heather Sprinkle
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March 18, 2012
Below: Old South Restaurant shares its recipe for hand-battered mushrooms.
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tips for a green spring clean
1 2 3
Use straight vinegar in the kitchen to clean: Cutting boards (Do not rinse with water after.), counter tops, sinks and faucets and the stove top.
Also in the kitchen: Mix vinegar with water to rinse fruits and vegetables, rinsing again with plain water afterward. Mop floors with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water.
Clean the microwave by: Microwaving 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl on high for 3 minutes. Let cool, then use mixture to wipe.
4 5 6
For tough stains: Mix baking soda with vinegar to form a foamy cleaning solution suitable for many surfaces. Salt also acts as a safe abrasive for most finishes.
In the bathroom: Use vinegar to clean sinks, vanity, tubs and toilets. Combine with baking soda to combat soap scum. Also, mop floors with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water.
Around the house: Sprinkle baking soda on carpet before vacuuming to deodorize. To effectively clean glass, windows and mirrors, wipe with a cloth dampened with vinegar. Jill Robertson, Russellville
RVL weddings RVL Magazine
a special publication of RVL Magazine
Photo courtesy of Joshua Mashon Photography
March 18, 2012
made in heaven
By Cindi Nobles
ebekah Hotz and Nathan Baltz share a modern-day — yet old-fashioned — love story. They met while making plans to spend Spring Break in Honduras in conjunction with an annual Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church mission trip. Both attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. “We were making a fence for a school most of the time,” Rebekah said of the trip. “We dug together in the hard Honduran soil for the fence posts. When the kids were at recess, we would play soccer with them. We had fun just playing on the playground and trying to communicate with the kids. We laughed a lot together.” The laughter and fun spilled into the pair’s evening activities at the mission house. The two found many common interests and spent free time playing cards and learning more about one another. SEE MATCH ON PAGE 35
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(ARA) — Romance is in the air. Whether you are planning a honeymoon or just looking for a fun getaway with your better half, these trip ideas are guaranteed to ignite a spark. • Escape on a cruise Put away your phone, shun the hassle of cooking and don’t even think about making the bed. A cruise ship is the perfect place for couples to skirt reality for a while. Pretty much anything you could want is at your disposal and you hardly have to lift a finger. • Splurge for a dream vacation Hawaii embodies the words dreamy, romantic and sensual like almost nowhere else. The Big Island of Hawaii was named by Away.com as a top-10 destination for a honeymoon vacation on a budget. • Take a hot air balloon ride What better way to experience the beauty of wine country
than with a bird’s-eye view? Book a sunrise or sunset tour complete with a mini picnic and local sparkling wine to set the mood as your drift above the vines and wineries. • Hear a gig The saying goes that it takes two to tango. But in Austin, Texas, you might well swap in the two-step instead. Orbitz.com named Austin one of its 2012 Hotspots, and for good reason. Austin is the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World,” and this music mecca is living up to its reputation. • Watch the stars For those who prefer to experience the outdoors with a touch of luxury, head somewhere like Amangiri in Canyon Point, Utah. This resort rests on 600 acres and was consciously designed to blend into its surroundings; every window has a sweeping view toward Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
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(479) 880-0224 Fax (479) 880-0105 203 N. Commerce Russellville, AR 72801
310 WEST MAIN RUSSELLVILLE 479-968-3117 Mon.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
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(ARA) - Although the latest Brides American Wedding Study shows the average cost of a wedding in 2010 was $26,501, a decrease of 5 percent from 2009, weddings continue to be big business. But many couples are opting to cut the guest list instead of big-ticket items like wedding gowns. In fact, the average wedding gown cost $1,289 in 2010, a 20 percent increase over 2009, according to the study. This is no surprise to the millions who were glued to their television sets this past April during the most talked-about wedding since the 1981 royal wedding of Lady Diana to Prince Charles. Many brides are now emulating the elegant lace gown worn by Catherine Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge. In addition to beautiful lace, the newest trends in wedding gowns include color, soft sleeves, short hemlines and eco-friendly materials. Whether it is Chantilly, Alencon, duchesse, guipure or ribbon, lace has become one of the hottest trends this year. “Designers
at all price points have debuted collections featuring full frothy skirts, wildflowers and lace used in both traditional and modern ways,” said Kate Campbell, department chair of Fashion & Retail Management at The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design. “This particular trend parallels the more feminine, elegant trends we see in fashion everywhere — including more fitted and ladylike styles reminiscent of Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.” While not for everyone, the use of color in wedding gowns also has been growing in popularity. Rich and vibrant or more subdued, color in bridal wear is everywhere. “The bride who chooses to add color to her dress is fashion forward and confident — it’s not for the faint of heart,” said Amber Chatelain, lead faculty for the Fashion & Retail Management program at The Art Institute of Tennessee-Nashville, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta.
March 18, 2012
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FIT LIFE continued from page 11 The group, which includes most every local constituency with an interest in an indoor pool, from the Office of Emergency Management to seniors who utilized the recently closed Arkansas Tech University pool for fitness purposes, met in January to assess what each would need in an aquatic facility. “It does seem like a large and expensive endeavor for any community, but I just really
believe Russellville can do it,” Johnson said. Johnson is treating the pool project just as she does every other event in her life — with pure determination. “You won’t deter me,” Johnson said. “Until you really tell me no, I’m going to keep going. ‘Is there another option? Is there a different way to go about it? How else can we solve this obstacle that’s been placed in front of us?’”
MATCH continued from page 26 In the mornings, they, along with other missionaries, watched sunrises while drinking large mugs of coffee before work. Rebekah said the first things she noticed about Nathan were his “height and good looks.” “You wouldn’t hear a single bad thing about Nathan,” Rebekah said. “He enjoyed life and the outdoors and was very religious, like me.” Rebekah quickly began “studying” Nathan, discovering even more she liked about him. Almost six months after the Honduras mission, Rebekah said women at a church ladies’ gathering had a discussion about Nathan and how he would make “the perfect husband.” “I remember thinking how true that was, but didn’t pipe in to the conversation because I could feel my cheeks blushing,” she said. Rebekah, at this point, had not told her friends she had a crush on Nathan. Nathan was also attracted — to Rebekah’s love for the outdoors and her “willingness to get whatever needed to be done, done.” “Rebekah was always willing to get outside and work with the guys,” Nathan said. “She also liked talking about her family and was always very interested to learn about my family. I also liked how athletic and smart she was and how religious she was.” Despite the mutual interest, the two remained focused on their college careers. Rebekah
spent the next semester and summer studying abroad. After she returned in 2008, however, the romance continued to develop. “We are both logical people who were very particular on who we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with,” Rebekah said. “I guess you could say this played out in how we both took that time to become friends first and then let the love bloom.” “Our love was a gradual thing,” Nathan seconded. “After two years of dating, I decided I definitely wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.” Meanwhile, Rebekah had moved on to medical school in Little Rock. Nathan planned to surprise her with a proposal. “I was working in Fayetteville and she was attending school in Little Rock,” Nathan explained. “I was so excited and had the ring in my pocket. I walked up to her front door and rang the bell. No one answered. I tried calling, but there was no answer. I called again, but still no one answered.” Two-and-a-half hours later — the ring burning a hole in his pocket — Nathan, after driving around to kill time, finally reached Rebekah on the telephone. She said she wished he was with her. Nathan replied with, “Well, all you have to do is open your front door.” She said, “Oh, Nathan, please don’t tease.”
But it wasn’t a joke. Nathan met Rebekah at the door, and the couple walked into the house together. Nathan then got down on one knee and asked Rebekah to become his wife. They both recall her jumping up and down and exclaiming, “Yes!” The wedding was Dec. 17, 2011, at Saint Benedict’s Catholic Church in Subiaco. “We had so many of our family and friends there to celebrate our holy sacrament of marriage with us,” Rebekah said. “It was a great celebration and exactly how we wanted it — big wedding and fun reception.” With all new things comes a period of adjustment, but the Baltzes are adapting quickly to their new state of matrimony. “It’s been so much fun spending so much more time together,” Rebekah said. “We decided to order more camping items and a canoe and have already been on a couple backpacking trips. I love being Mrs. Baltz.”
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