Monday, February 29

Life Lately

Life lately has been a touch busy around the Johnson Anderson house. It feels like warp speed, actually; I blinked and about ten days went up into thin air. Part of that had to do with a whirlwind trip to Memphis, and the beautiful Peabody Hotel, for a work conference.

Of course, one cannot go to Memphis, the birthplace (and current location) of one's best friend and not find themselves into a little bit of trouble.
Obviously, an up to 3 a.m. jaunt around Beale Street, with a Silky's bucket in tow, made for a super fun Monday morning of conference! Obviously. 
 Then it was a pop down to Atlanta for The Rental Show, a few glad handing opportunities and lots of smiling. I didn't hate the chance to hang with my momma, eat some Willy's Mexicana and get a mani-pedi in peace. Never one to not over-extend myself, I woke up at 6 a.m. to take my first Pure Barre Platform class at the studio around the corner from my parents, and holy hell, I've been sore for three days.
As a member of a social society for women, I had our annual meeting Thursday night, enjoyed a fun time with friends, and came home to my handsome husband with my favorite sushi and two sleeping angels—until about 1 a.m. when Alex woke up to a stomach bug covered in vomit and just generally feeling crappy.

The weekend was dominated by said stomach bug when Fitzy started projectiling Saturday. By Sunday afternoon all was well and we all enjoyed a quiet afternoon catching up on some reading. Kids are so resilient.

Monday, February 15

Product Review: Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent

**I was given free samples from Seventh Generation in exchange for my open and honest review. All opinions, adorable baby pictures, and messy laundry pile photos are my own. 

Since I was little I've struggled with sensitive skin. If you ask Mark he might say I struggle with sensitive everything, but I digress. Since no one thinks a rash is sexy, for as long as I can remember I've used "Free and Clear" detergents when doing my laundry. I usually grab All or Purex, I'm allergic to Tide in all forms. On average I do seven loads of laundry per week for Mark, Fitz, Alex, the dogs and myself. That amounts to a lot of laundry!!
Since we don't have a money tree in the backyard, and I do care about the chemicals in our detergent, I try to shop sales and use coupons. Typically, I grab Purex Free or All Free and Clear at Publix, Winn Dixie or CVS on sale, which helps cut down on the added costs of being without added chemicals.

When Fitz and Alex were born, I would buy the jumbo containers of Dreft—I wasn't sure about their possible allergies and the last thing I wanted to deal with was a baby with a skin rash. The more I can do to cut down on baby fussiness on the front end, the better.

When I was approached, through Generation Good, to sample Seventh Generation's Free and Clear detergent, I jumped at the chance. I already knew that I loved their diapers, so I was curious about their detergent. Not being a stranger to the "free and clear" game, I went in prepared to rewash my clothes.

With some other brands I've tried, that don't have the added chemicals, I've noticed they just don't get clothes clean enough. Taking that into account, I was obviously concerned that a plant-based product without artificial brighteners might not be tough enough on stains.

Because let's face it, twin toddlers mean stains.
Generation Good sent me three packets of detergent. I used one on a load of my clothes; one on a load of baby clothes and I gave one to a friend.

I was pleasantly surprised on how well the detergent handled both loads of my clothes. On stains that were pretreated, you couldn't tell at all. On stains that I missed pretreating, they were mostly gone, with the exception of a chocolate chip smear on a white onesie—which let's be real, that sucker probably wasn't coming out no matter what I had put on it.

Overall, I thought the detergent performed better than some brands and as well if not better than my go-tos of All Free and Clear and Purex Free.

The friend I gave the third sample to reported similar findings.

Will we change over to Seventh Generation all the time? Probably not. Will I add it to my arsenal of brands I buy when on sale? Absolutely.

Wednesday, February 10


I'm a day late and a dollar short (plus a week) on this, I swear Feburary has just totally escaped me. I thought about skipping this month all together for #posituesday, given that Lent has now officially begun, but then I remembered the entire point to this exercise was to just remember to be positive.

While the tenets of Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving, I do believe that part of growing closer to God in prayer is realizing what you have—how good you have it—and how thankful you must be. This is one of the biggest things I struggle with, because when I look at a picture like this one, all I see is the mess on the floor, the rug that needs cleaning and the chair that needs a spot clean, not the adorable, healthy fuzzy headed boy with a big-ole smile. 
 The "rules" are simple; you share something positive on Tuesday. So here we go for February. What do I love today?

These breathtaking photographs of Misty Copeland channeling Degas. 
Photography by Ken Browar and Deborah Ory of the NYC Dance Project via Harper's Bazaar
Simply incredible—makes me miss my dancing days! Check out the full report from Harper's Bazaar here

Wednesday, February 3

Day Trip: Hopewell, Va.; City Point National Park

I really love to travel. I always have and I always will. There's just something about a great adventure. Obviously, my love of adventures comes in handy when it comes to going on story gathering trips. Usually my trips consist of a lot of time in a car and lots of back roads and Hampton Inns.

On a recent trip to Virginia, however, I found myself with a few hours before an appointment in the very charming and historical city of Hopewell 25 miles south of Richmond. Hopewell is home to City Point, a National Park and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters and the Petersburg National Battlefield.
 I will be the first to admit that I am no Civil War history buff, but felt the urge to stop anyway. I am so glad I did!

Grant's headquarters are a National Park, so I was able to tour the grounds and the house with the aide of a Park Ranger. I was the only visitor on a dreary November day, and it seemed like the entire area was heavy. Heavy is the best word I can use to describe it.
I struck up a lovely conversation with the Park Ranger and he gave me a full tour of the Grants house, including some of the exhibits that were in the process of being restored. I was amazed at how small everything in the house was. I had to duck to clear the doorways.
One thing I did notice throughout the main house was the wallpaper. It's been on these walls for centuries and was still gorgeous.
 While we were walking up a set of somewhat rickety stairs, and my steel-toed boots made loud thuds, he said something that I don't think I will ever forget.

"These old places are full of stories, they will tell you many things, and you only have to listen."

Suddenly, the tour took on a new meaning; walking the grounds changed my point of view a bit. As our country struggles today, not unlike it did during Grant's time on t shores of this Virginia river, I couldn't help but be grateful for all the men, Union and Confederate, that helped bring us to this point.

We've got a long way to go, but we must not forget the sacrifices of these men (and their families) to make sure that America didn't fracture then, and won't fracture now. We might all have opposing views, but this country was built on debate, differences and acceptance. 

Monday, February 1

'Timber Processing' Man of the Year

My job is unlike most. I'm not just a writer, I'm a cool writer. Being a trade magazine writer concentrating on the forest products industry means I have a lot of useless knowledge of supply chains, a working understanding of lots of heavy machinery, and perhaps most importantly, a realization that I am not like the rest in this field. A feeling of otherness I have never experienced before.

As a upper-middle class white girl from Atlanta that went to the right schools and ended up in a sorority at Alabama, I've never felt "otherness." Then I became Jessica Johnson, Associate Editor with Hatton-Brown Publishers. Since I began the Woods Barbie journey, things sure have changed—but the otherness never went away. If anything, it was amplified.

I remember as clear as a bell meeting old Tommy Battle in Wadley, Ga. in the meaty part of a Southern summer seven months pregnant with Fitz and Alex. It was hell. He stared at my belly for a good five minutes before speaking. Then he was unsure he wanted me to poke around his hardwood sawmill; I ignored him and walked right on in, asking the questions I needed to, showing him I wasn't some shrinking violet. When we finished, I got in the car, drove to a Hampton Inn, promptly took off my maternity work gear and laid on the bed with the air on 50° trying to cool off. I was not shrinking violet but I was hot as hell. I felt like I had something to prove. I feel like I have something to prove.

The otherness changed drastically though in late 2015. My boss announced that for the first time in 28 years, the annual Timber Processing Man of the Year award, an award that recognizes a figure in the sawmill business that is involved in their community, runs an excellent and high producing mill, and is involved in furthering the positive face of the lumber business, was going to be Jill Snider Brewer.

As the only woman on the editorial staff I was tasked with writing the story on Jill, her mill and why she was worthy of the award. It was a huge honor for her and for me. The following is an excerpt of the editorial I wrote for the Man of the Year issue, which hits mailboxes around the world this week. It was my "I am woman hear me roar" moment. It was the definitive point where I decided to stop noticing my otherness and just do my damn job. Stop acting like I have something to prove and realize I've proved it. I deserve what I've gotten and everything I have coming because I haven't stopped working hard. I now just have to keep the path.
From One Woman To Another

 I’m really proud of what came about from just two girls at two very different points of their sawmill exposure having a conversation. Above all else, Jill Snider Brewer inspired me. I’m a twentysomething young mother with a lot to learn about life and about sawmilling. She told me repeatedly she didn’t have all the answers, but the more I listened, the more I realized how much her comments about running a sawmill actually apply to real life.

When I spoke with Jill about the importance, and perhaps greater ineptitude of certain folks (read: fathers) on details she laughed it off. We then wound the conversation back to the topic of the day. I noticed how she was shy at first to tell me about her accomplishments and overall signature on Snider Industries. She told me at first she wasn’t so sure she wanted to accept the award at all. Throughout the interview she kept attempting to deflect the spotlight. Defaulting to her employees and her father as the real face of Snider Industries. “I’m always happy to be in the background, hopefully making everything successful,” she told me. 

That’s when it all came full circle. A real leader whether, in the home, in the front office or in the filing room, doesn’t try to be in the spotlight, they only care about setting everyone up for success.
I’ve read nearly all 28 Man of the Year stories, and that’s one thing they all have in common: a desire to set their mill, its employees, their communities and the lumber industry as a whole up for success.
It just took 28 years, and a woman, to articulate it.

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