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Guilty Pleasures

C'mon. Confess. We all have things we can't resist. Here are our Midwest indulgences. Fessing up is good for the soul. But so is pie for lunch and spending too much on jeans.

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How do you Indulge?

(Originally Published: March/April 2007)

Buying expensive jeans

I was brought up to bargain hunt, the queen of $3 earrings. So when I heard that fellow shoppers in Chicago were snapping up jeans for more than $150, I was shocked. Curious, too. What makes denim with designer names like Seven For All Mankind so special? I needed to know. I went to Krista K boutique in Lincoln Park and left—with two pairs, one from Meli-Melo and one from Citizens of Humanity. The salesgirl praised how each made me seem 5 pounds slimmer. The grand total? $225. Yikes! I'd never spent that much on clothes.

It took a few weeks, but then the jeans seemed, well, justified. Was my guilty conscience tricking me, or did these jeans actually feel better (aside from the compliments)? A year later, I'm hooked. I frequent The Blues Jean Bar, with more than 200 styles for women, most going for $175. Patrons order at a long, wood bar: a fitting setup for a vice. I still shudder at the cost. But overall, I'm OK with my ensemble. My jeans are like a car payment, but my sweater cost only $15. And my earrings, $3.

- Contributing writer, Kelly Aiglon, recently found a cool metallic-gold handbag for $1

Faking a sick day

Ask anyone: I'm honest to a fault. But when Mom called with tickets to the Oprah Winfrey Show in Chicago, what could I say? My employer at the time had a policy: no vacation days without notice. So I did something I'd never done. I called in sick. But I did it for Mom...

Our seats were behind Oprah. Mom was disappointed because we didn't have the best view. I was worried because we'd be on camera. But since the show was live, there was little chance my boss would see his "sick" employee in Oprah's audience. I gave the camera a little smile. It felt good to have a play day. Later, I realized the show reran at night, and the next day, my boss commented on a news story, adding, "It's just like something you'd see on Oprah." I froze. What are the chances?

- Copy Chief Kendra L. Williams' New Guilt: Screening Mom's Calls During American Idol.

Escaping to the woods

A good dad would be home on a Saturday, chatting with his wife over coffee and scribbling in coloring books with his little girls. But me? I'm tromping through waist-high grass before dawn, hoping to see nobody for the rest of the day. I like empty prairies and shadowy woods. Alone. I wait for deer or turkey to walk by with no clue I'm there. That's hard to pull off with 4- and 6-year-old girls shrieking over flowers and stacking acorns so they'll be easier for squirrels to find. So I usually go solo in places like southeastern Ohio's Dysart Woods Laboratory, an obscure virgin forest with oaks 4 feet wide and 140 feet high. But I'm not totally selfish. Sometimes, I take home a few acorns for the girls.

- Managing Editor Trevor Meers' World is Changing, Thanks to the Arrival of a Barbie Fishing Rod.

Must-have gadgets

I'm addicted to kitchen gear: smooth-handled knives, fruit peelers, bent frosting spreaders. No matter that I have a kitchen full of everything; I need more. Like the Good Grips mango splitter. It's a lovely thing the size of a saucer, with cushioned black handles and a stainless-steel blade shaped like a mango pit. It splits a mango and removes the pit in one easy motion. Should I ever need to split one, I'm ready. How did I ever go without?

- Senior Food Editor Diana McMillen Now has Her Eyes on a Flooding Cutting Board

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