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The Skin You’re In – A Visit to Bellevue MediSpa

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New Year, New You


O r at least, that’s what a million different magazines are trying to feed us right now, because Americans traditionally spend January trying to remake themselves after a holiday deluge of debauched eating and partying, coupled with a failure to take care of themselves generally. It’s the month or two of gym memberships, before you quit going in March; January’s the month where we cleanse and colonic and vow to drink only green juice and to finally do something about all the damage we’ve done to our skin from sun and bad diet.

That’s all well and good, but the reality is that taking care of yourself on the front end is much easier than fixing the mess afterwards. I’ve got quite a few postings this month about what you can do to make yourself look and feel better right now – but if you’re coming back and reading this next July, most of it will still be relevant.

Inconceivable though it is, I’m going to start the year off with a few thoughts on fixing your skin and how to do things right, because your goal should not be to look like a fixture on reality TV.

Step one is to recognize that you aren’t ever going to look 17 again, nor should you want to (nor should you have had the kind of life that makes you wish you were 17 now). That said, you can look really good.

There are the basics you should know. Drink water, lower your levels of caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks. Eat healthy foods, skip the processed crap, and get high doses of vitamins A, E and C – preferably from food, not supplements. Don’t starve yourself or commit to radical diet plans. It will take its toll on your skin and hair. Ixnay on the cigarettes.

And most importantly, enough with the tanning. The vast majority of “aged” looking skin is caused by too much sun exposure. Quite aside from the risks of skin cancer, too much sun can produce age spots, heavy freckling (which, after 30, you might as well start calling age spots), premature wrinkling and a host of other problems.

Fortunately, this is not 1950, and if you want to look great, there are things that can be done at a good medi-spa – for the most part procedures that are non-invasive, moderately priced, and have minimal downtime, but take years off your face. And that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

I’ve made use of a goodly number of medi-spas in the area in the course of my writing, and I’ll tell you up front I only feel right recommending two – the place I’m going to talk about now is Bellevue MediSpa.

Yeah, I’m going to recommend that you drive to Bellevue – it’s right of I-40, if you’re in the Nashville area and can drive to Belle Meade from downtown, you can drive to Bellevue.

The why is that this particular medi-spa, to my mind, is one of the hidden gems in the area. Set just before you get into the heart of Bellevue (perhaps on your way to Ed Fryer’s awesome RED Wine and Spirits), Barry and Lori Knerr’s place is going to treat you with honesty and respect, and deal with your issues in the best way for you.

The location is pleasant, warm and welcoming, and for me a big plus was seeing Thistle Farms products on the shelves for sale as I walked in the door, instead of overpriced moisturizers with vanity labels. Against the south-facing wall is a huge tank of exotic fish.

Visiting gave me the opportunity to sit and talk with Barry and Lori, the husband-and-wife team of owners. Talking with them, it’s clear that when you come in here, unlike many places, they’re going to stress the least invasive, least intense treatment process to get you where you want to go. In my case, all I wanted was to get rid of a few pale brown sunspots that seem a permanent fixture on the lower half of my face, something that could be achieved in a single laser session with absolutely minimal downtime (like, say, the rest of the day, period).

What, though, do the “average customers” come into a medi-spa for in the first place? Turns out the typical customer is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a woman in her 30s to 60s trying to stave off the effects of age. In our reality, while men are allowed a few fine lines and a smidge or two of gray because they look “distinguished,” women are not.

Where once upon a time, the fix could have meant plastic surgery from which you need a long period of rest and recovery, the contemporary repair is often faster, easier and requires a whole lot less down time. A good medi-spa, like Bellevue, is going to give you options from laser treatments (one or multiple, depending on the extent of the damage you want to repair) that deal with everything from sun spots to promoting collagen growth to correcting rosacea, acne and other skin discolorations to spider veins, to Botox injections and fillers like Juvederm and Restylane.

Most skin and age related problems can be dealt with in a non-surgical manner, over time, whether you want to take a few years off your skin or deal with a larger and potentially more painful problem, like the afore-mentioned spider veins.

There will always be some things that will require genuine medical advice, and the folks at Bellevue MediSpa will let you know if that’s the case. What I like about them is their honesty – “this is what we can do” – and they mean what they say. You won’t get ridiculous promises, you won’t be pushed to spend far more than your budget allows for, and you won’t end up looking like a “Real Housewife” –there are other places that are better bets if you want to look plastic.

Among the biggest appeals is the presence of Brazilian native chemist and permanent makeup artist Bea (Beatriz), who does incredible work with cancer patients, tattooing super-fine hairs on as brow replacement for those who’ve lost hair via chemotherapy and remarkable work replacing areola for those who’ve had mastectomies. She also offers scar repair that’s off the charts amazing. This is a situation where you have to see her work to believe it.

But the thing is, the reason why I’m saying “hey, it’s January, go get some work done” is because you can, and you can feel secure doing it. That’s regardless of what you need done. Medi-spas are safer than ever, and you can trust good laser technicians – and that means you need to ask questions to make sure your technician is up on his or her training, but that’s what you’d do for any other minor medical procedure, now, isn’t it?

The folks at Bellevue MediSpa are being written about today because they’re people who actually care about you, not about making a fast buck – which means you’ll walk out looking real and natural, with the work you wanted done, and without 16 other procedures you’ve been pressured into.

Barry and Lori tell me they have a huge variety of clients, from kids who want to get rid of serious acne problems to 90-year-old golf aficionados who have serious sun damage they’d like cleared up to yes, guys who want to do something about their ear hair and need a little laser to fix it. That speaks to their appeal across the board, they’re not just aiming to help the ladies who lunch (not that they won’t, mind you), they’re aiming to make a difference for you.

Big hint here, right now is the perfect time of year to get laser treatment for sun damage, because you’re going to be keeping out of the sun for a good long while before spring – and those of us who are outdoorsy by nature need to stay out of the sun and keep sunscreened immediately after laser treatment, to avoid side effects like hypopigmentation.

And while we’re at it, on that sunscreen? Yeah, your SPF is probably good for about an hour before you need to reapply, so if you don’t want to find yourself treating more sun damage, think to reapply carefully before you go out in the sun at lunch and after work, if you put it on in the morning before you left. It really does make a difference.

Bellevue MediSpa, 631 A Old Hickory Blvd., Nashville, Tennessee.

Coffee Klatch – 8th and Roast changes Nashville’s coffee aesthetic

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The bar at 8th and Roast, Nashville

The bar at 8th and Roast

When it comes to coffee in Nashville, it’s seemed for awhile now that those of us on the west side of the river pulled the short straw. Oh, there are some notable locales, but nobody who’s really blown us out of the water – at least with the quality of the coffee itself. (When you get down to Franklin, the choices seem to be largely limited to chains, chains and more chains – and that gets old).

This is relevant because we drink a whole lot of coffee, large, expansive city that we are. We hang out in lots of coffee shops. I interview people in coffee shops, to the point that a couple feel like extended offices to me.

But even the best coffee places around aren’t necessary the places with mind-blowing coffee. Oh, there’s some good coffee, to be sure, and on the East side places like Barista Parlour have made their signature brewing methods a genuine draw – and for good reason. But in terms of locally owned roasters providing better than fair-trade coffee in a place designated a true coffee bar – not a restaurant that serves coffee and 27 other specialty drinks – there hasn’t been much on this side of the world.

When Roast Coffee closed in Crieve Hall earlier this year, that looked to be the end of anything for me on the long drive up Franklin Road into the city – might as well be Starbucks or, heaven forfend, McDonalds. Thank heaven for Roast owner Brad Wood and his regular booth at the Franklin Farmers’ Market, so I could at least continue to buy while the shop was closed.

Now, just a few short weeks ago, Roast has reappeared on the scene – this time as 8th and Roast, a splendid little shop just across from Zanies Comedy Club on 8th Avenue South, just before you get to downtown (yes, plenty of parking in the lot behind the building!).

Lesa Wood, Brad’s wife, is back at it, roasting their beans in the back, while the baristas get your really, really good coffee – whether you want it brewed by them or to brew it yourself at their counter – quickly and efficiently.

The space is not what you’d expect. There’s an attractive wall of raw brick, set with vintage-looking lights of cord from the last known manufacturer of cloth cord in the U.S. “The light sockets are from original molds of 1930s era sockets, but updated to UL standards,” Lesa tells me. The tables are made of reclaimed bowling alley floor – made here, sold to China, then resold to a Nashville bowling alley. When it closed, Roast was there to make use of the intricate wood.

Outside the shop

The location itself is pretty special, though you might not have guessed: Once upon a time, round about the Prohibition era, this neighborhood was the last trolley stop outside downtown as you headed toward Franklin. (How times have changed!) Since Lesa has more than a little affection for the 1920s as an era, leaving the walls bare and a sense of the original feel of the space seemed ideal.

The owner had let the building sit vacant for more than two years, looking for the right tenant, and when the Woods and Roast appeared, it provided an opportunity to undo decades of “renovations” and restore the place to some of its original glory – from getting rid of the old drywall to cleaning up the beautiful tin ceilings that had been painted a rather ghastly white. Windows were uncovered and found pieces became furniture as atmosphere was born.

“As we went along through the construction, we started to put together things that we had found around town,” Lesa tells me. “Brad saw the bowling alley lane and that made an immediate impact on the decision to build large community tables rather than typical four tops, which also ties into our community coffee concept. As luck has it, the lanes had a great history to go with them.

“The counter that we have from the Union Bus Station [home of the great Civil Rights sit in back in the ‘60s] is just incredible. We thought it was great to have such a historical piece of Nashville that everyone would have assumed lost – tied deeply to the story of the first Civil Rights sit-in happening on the same counter. But really that is part of the story. Think of the nameless and countless men and women that had gone to war in WWII through Vietnam that had a final meal with friends or family right at that counter. We fell really luck just to have that kind of history to work next to every day.”

The coffee bar, made from the original Union Bus Station counter that saw Civil Rights era sit-ins.

As you look around, a host of details have a finer meaning –much of the wood you see is Tennessee walnut, the bathroom doors, even, are reclaimed. It’s all about history, wherever you look – and instead of looking scattered, it all just fits.

As I mentioned earlier, you can just order your coffee at the counter (you can be in and out in 5 minutes if you want to, but if you don’t have to, stay, relax, enjoy the wifi and people watching) and have it handed to you. Or, you can brew your own. I asked Lesa to take me through the steps, over at the former bus cafeteria counter:

“We have the bar set up so you can have any level of participation that you would like,” she says. “Pick one of two coffee in preset grinders: ‘A’ for 12 ounces and ‘B’ for 16 ounces. Then put the coffee in the Kalita Dripper. Fill your kettle from our dedicated water tower. Use about an ounce of water to wet the grounds and watch them bloom (swell and saturate) with water for 30 seconds, then pour the rest of water needed for your size cup over the course of about a minute or so. Enjoy your cup of coffee (our helpful coffee elves take care of all the clean up).” All pretty simple and straight-forward, but don’t be afraid to ask for help the first time.

Worth noting is their iced coffee, because they bottle it, and it’s getting to be a big deal – in spring, you can find it in local Whole Foods and other appealing locales, and it’s starting to spread outside Nashville as well. It’s the off season for iced beverages at the moment, so currently it’s just at Roast, but they’re are already making plans for warmer weather, Whole Foods and farmers’ markets. “We were beginning to ship to Memphis last fall, and we’re hoping to expand the partnership with Whole Foods to offer our coffee in the states surrounding us,” Lesa says.

Meanwhile, if you need something to nosh on, it’s there. Needless to say, Roast is about coffee (more on that in a moment), but sometimes, you just need the baked goods. The sources, likewise, are as high-end and impeccable as the coffee itself: East Nashville’s Café Fundamental delivers pastries and quiches made daily. Claire Meneely of Dozen (one of my all-time favorites) brings savory scones, muffins, and some sweet treats and Wild Muffin provides vegan and gluten free muffins and treats.

And then, of course, the whole deal is you come for the coffee. Brad and Lesa make no secret of the fact that they source the best coffees for themselves – they don’t use a middleman, they don’t blindly trust that the supplier is fair trade or better. And the big deal for them is that they ensure that not only we, the consumers, know about where the coffee comes from, but that the sellers know about us, and where it’s going to. And that, boys and girls, is a big deal.

Brad and Lesa Wood

“Brad and I both come from farming families and we know the dedication needed to run a successful farm, be it a few acres or a large estate,” Lesa tells me. “Traditionally coffee farmers have sold their coffee to larger mills and everything was homogenized together. With the emergence of the specialty coffee market, they have so many more options. Knowing the consumer they are trying to reach can affect how they cultivate their coffee and ultimately the financial compensation they receive. Also having someone like us is committed to buying their crop can give them more freedom to plant more trees and try different varietals of coffee beans.”

You won’t find 417 coffee varieties on the menu daily. Look for two to four (unless you want to buy beans to grind and drink at home). And that’s a good thing.

“I’m actually a single origin girl – in non-coffee geek talk, that means I like to showcase a single farm’s coffee,” says Lesa. “We have two selections on the pour bar and two more that we brew. We rotate coffees at least weekly. We keep a larger selection of whole beans bagged and ready to take home. The one blend that I do is our French Occupation – a blend of three Central/South American coffees that we did on the spur of the moment to fulfill requests for a darker roast. It’s since become one of signature items. Who knew?”

I ask Lesa what she wants you to know before you come in the door? “We are really all about the coffee,” she says definitively. “We are always striving to improve quality and service- but we are not coffee snobs – though that seems to have become part of the ‘coffee shop’ experience. If you want your coffee with two ounces of creams and six sugars, please make it the way you enjoy it. I just want to make the sure the coffee underneath is good enough to stand alone, and we’re not adding all those things to make my coffee drinkable.”

I drove home with a big cup of French Occupation to make me really happy on a recent cold day, right before Christmas. Ron and I had been to shoot the shop, after working on a cookbook for most of the day. It was delicious. Chain coffee, I’m done with you … or at least, I’m done with you when I’m not in Franklin on a non-farmers’ market day.

8th and Roast, 2108A 8th Ave South, Nashville, (615) 730-8074. Find it online here.

Lesa’s Favorites:

Nashville neighborhood: 8th Avenue (Woodland/Waverly) is quickly winning my heart, even though I love my Crieve Hall home.

Dinner: Café Fundamental, especially when Chef Jamie brings me out some of those mussels in butter. I’ll roast coffee for him any day.

Lunch: SloCo gourmet on the go or delivery even, completely appreciate that aesthetic.

Soft drink: Coke with real sugar, aahh

Jeans brand: Shamefully none, but must go visit a new neighbor and see if I can change that.

Signature scent: Fairly sure I always smell like coffee, which actually gets me flirted with a lot.

Gadget: Love, love my GPS after I finally learned to use it. Also developing fondness for the Square wallet app we use at the shop.

Cocktail: I’m a beer girl, loving the new brew from Cool Springs Brewery, that clever boy Derrick used my coffee in one of his brews, so of course, I’m hooked.

Reading: I’m actually reading something just published by my very dear friends Kara and Jeff Oliver about their mission work in Malawi – Our Journey, Called to Malawi.

Listening: Loving the Civil Wars at present. I grew up a lot in Kentucky and the sound resonates.

Favorite shoes: Frye boots if they’re a style that’s U.S.-made. They can make you look like a bad ass even when you want to hide under the bed.

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