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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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Pampered Pets and More Guilty Pleasures

A man who loves spas

I admit it. I like spas—the high-end day spas with treatments that sound like fancy menu entrees. And there's more. These places are filled with two of my favorite things: amazing conversation and gorgeous women wearing only towels. Even though I really can't afford them, spa treatments are the gateway to my guilt.

I like hanging out in the "relaxation room" wrapped in a deliciously comfortable robe, waiting to be massaged, clipped, packed in mud, covered with hot rocks—whatever. And, maybe because I'm often the only man there, women tell me intimate details of their lives.

I get more juicy tidbits over smoothies and watercress than I ever hear at my local watering hole over beer nuts. Plus, there's Misha, the masseuse who can rub my feet without making me giggle. Or Natasha, a manicurist with an evil way of giving backhanded compliments: "You have such hairy chest, and look! Such leeetle hands." I've never heard my bar buddies say that.

- Contributing Writer Steve Slack is Saving Up for Another Treatment

Pampering pets

My dogs wear faux suede. Not always, mind you. Mainly during winter, when the temperatures drop and the fleece lining helps hold body heat. It's about comfort and fashion, you know. In spring, they wear lighter-weight nylon, and in summer, we move on to personalized bandannas color-coordinated to match the leashes.

This all started innocently. When planning a weekend at a lake, I wasn't sure if our poodle, Devin, or our Welsh terrier, Jett, could swim. So we bought them life jackets, just to be safe. This led to much more. Next came the bandannas and a leather Harley-Davidson cap. Halloween costumes. (Devin was a bumblebee; Jett, a devil.) Christmas stockings. Every birthday, a pupcake run to Three Dog Bakery. And recently, an hour in a heated, dog-exclusive indoor pool in Janesville, Wisconsin. Of course, they wore their life jackets.

- Contributing Editor Lisa Schumacher is Eagerly Anticipating Spring Fashions

Bad-for-you food binge

Before me beckons a heap of badness—the kind that makes my doctor shake his head before turning to my charts and striking two years off my life expectancy. This badness is called the Magic Mountain, and everyone—really, everyone—should know better. But sometimes, I just can't resist stopping at Ross' Cafe in Bettendorf, Iowa, a family-owned classic (since 1944) that serves plate-loads of culinary no-nos. Think ground beef and fries piled high (121/4 inches edge to edge!) atop French toast that may never get unearthed. Top it with a slush of melted cheese and "snow" (chopped onions). That's the $6.30 Magic Mountain. Or, if you're going to commit the act, why not add some chili (The Volcano). It's worth two years.

- Executive Editor Greg Philby Really Hopes His Doctor Won't Read This

Sneaking a snack

It's midnight, my family is asleep, and I'm eating their morels. Now, before you rush to judgment, you need to understand that these are fresh morels. Plus, I was the one who acquired them. When I found out my sister had gone morel-mushroom hunting near Dubuque, Iowa, it took persistent questions from me ("Are you getting many?" "How do they look this year?") before she finally relented. Yes, she said, I could have a small bag.

Well, then, it really was too late to fix them for dinner. Plus, morels aren't the right accompaniment for casserole, are they? And there weren't enough to go around. So that's how I find myself alone in the kitchen at midnight with a stick of butter, 12 washed morel mushrooms, cracker crumbs, a saute pan and a bottle of Chardonnay. With my family asleep, they don't even know what they're missing. Besides, they need their rest.

- Creative Director Geri Boesen Will Make no Promises About Sharing creme brulee or Fresh Tomatoes, Either

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