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Posted November 11, 2010


Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Nashville is a small village where you might hear a few horses whinny and an occasional cow moo and maybe bump into a few country music stars like Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Naomi Judd. Even a few movie stars like Nicole Kidman and at least one person of royalty - Prince William - has been spotted. But for the most part, the local people have lived in the sleepy hamlet for decades with their ancestors resting in the local cemetery. Though I'm known for hanging out in cemeteries, one of my favorite places in Leiper's Fork is Alex Cirimelli's Serenite Maison. A San Francisco transplant and former LA decorator, Alex has definitely found her niche in Leiper's Fork.

Serenite Maison (with accent marks over the "e" in Serenite) is French for Serenity House if you haven't guessed by now. The definition for serene is 1) the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil and 2) respect or reverence.

It's in this eclectic French shabby chic store that Alex never stops surprising me with lively stories and her artistic way of displaying the varied luxury items she carries, though you might find some No Hand Crack cream she keeps in stock to keep the locals from having to make a trip to town. Everything leaps out of the ordinary. No pun intended. So let me be your docent and give you a quick walk through.

Upon entering and to the left is the reverent nook. Hanging high above a jewelry collection of antique crosses and earrings, just below 19th Century Italian and French chandeliers, is an old rugged cross. It's here you'll want to browse for your next adornment. I've heard tell the karibeth necklaces feature hidden pocket knives. Never know when a girl's going to need to tackle minor surgery on a hang nail or cut bait and run from a catfish too big to haul in. And just tell me you can't leave this area without singing, "On a hill faraway, stood an old rugged cross..."

As I walk past Alex ringing up sales I'm singing, "She Works Hard for the Money." Then, further down the aisle I spot my favorite Toco candles that you'll also obsess over, especially when you think about the last time you were caught when "The Lights Went Out in Georgia." There's nothing like the scent of mango and tangerine to help set the mood for a soaky tub bath. It's here I break out with, "Sixteen Candles." Wishful thinking. Well maybe with a baker's dozen thrown in. And I know, the song thing is kinda quirky but it's how my mind works. Bear with me.

The back room takes my breath away. It's in this room I clutch the cowl on my sweater, squelch a squeal, and hum the theme song for you guessed it, "Top Gun" - "Take My Breath Away." Everything white and pristine with something old and something new mixed in together to make me feel like a kid in a candy store except it's what big girls crave - every scent ever dreamed of in body soaks, lotions, bath salts and powders. Winter white velvet pumpkins in keeping with the fall theme lounge on antique sofas waiting to be magically transported to your home - via your car, motorcycle, or tractor and bush hog - and showcased in some look-at-me spot. If you've never been the belle of the ball and your fall pumpkins have never turned into a Cinderella coach with mice for horses, trust me, these gorgeous pumpkins are the next best thing.

Don't forget to check out the displayed linens - some cutwork and some with intricate lace await whatever escapade you can dream up for your own dining room table or special bathroom. If you have a trip planned for the Holy Land and fear that out of your bus load of tourists you will be the only one with Jerusalem Syndrome - the illness many suffer from by thinking they're a Bible character - this linen is for you. You'll look so much better wearing Serenite Maison's cutwork linen than the Hotel David's bed sheets while strolling the Via Delorosa envisioning yourself as the Virgin Mary. I am not being sacrilegious here - there is such an illness. Google it. You'll want to be prepared! If you think you might end up as John the Baptist, then by all means shop somewhere else for something in the camel hair and locust line. We won't touch what Jezebel might be wearing with a ten-foot pole.

And when I must leave the cowl clutching room (there is an "L" on the tail end of that cow), I walk down an aisle where soaps shaped like a Robin's blue eggs appear to be on the verge of hatching. It's at this point I croon - "Rockin Robin." And pray no one hears. I also hold back from any intricate dance spins (for fear of damaging the crystal pieces), bird tweeting, or pretending the Christmas scent air freshener bottle I'm holding is a microphone.

Right around the corner is a writer's oasis. Alex has managed to find the most exquisite jewel-toned journals in every shape and size, one small enough to tuck into the tiniest after-five evening bag. If you're looking for that perfect gift for a writer in your family, let Alex surprise you. I'm sure she'd be more than happy to ship. You're going to love her pastel polka dot packing tissue.

Up ahead is the area where I never know when I'm going to get to join in during the middle of a jam session. It's here anything from bluegrass, to country, to gospel is played. Okay. I have to fess up. They never really let me join in, however, I'm always thrilled to watch some of the best guitar, mandolin, and banjo players bend some strings.

After dipping into the 401K from buying out the store, you must ask Alex about her Ten Commandments for making chili. It's always a hit at the Leiper's Fork Chili Cookoff.

And as you're leaving, snap a picture of the antique vehicle parked out front while singing, "I Love My Truck" - and tell me you can now visit Serenite Maison without singing those same songs!

Tweet! Tweet! Twiddily Deet!

Serenite Maison doesn't have a website, however, Alex Cirimelli can be reached at (615)599-2071.

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Email to....:vmoss@livingwaterfiction.com