Stop, Go, Summer!

USA WreathJust in case you didn’t get your red, white and blue wreath on the front door in time for Memorial Day, you got lots of time before the Fourth of July and Labor Day. First you select a one-of-a kind Round Top ornamental metal flag or firework display and get the Cornelius Nursery Design Centers to fashion into a thoroughly modern vine wreath with wonderfully patriotic ribbon to mix and match. That welcoming wreath will make your guests feel good the moment they step onto your porch.

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Naturally Inspired Spaces Create a warm, inviting home

All signs point to glorious green in March, April and May.  Not just in Cornelius www.calloways/cornelius.com  greenhouses overflowing with fresh color for your gardens and barefoot freedom lawns but expect to get giddy in the gift shops.  Find ideas for green-thumb moms for Mother’s Day gifting; statuary for a classic English Garden vibe, and don’t forget to decorate for egg rolls on the lawns at Easter and those blarney leprechauns of St. Pat’s Day!

English Garden Statuary at Cornelliusl) Awesome ~Princess Diana, in all her classic beauty, would make your garden truly memorable.   Here she shares a garden trail with outsized rabbit, shells and stunning faux trees of ivy.  And although they look like stone, most of the Cornelius Gift Shop sculptures are made of resin so can be more easily moved.

Cornelius Garden Bunnies2) Garden Buddies ~ Here are some bunnies that won’t hop away after Easter.  These plump stone rabbits will guard the garden gate so the real Peter Rabbit can’t slip in to chomp her carrots.  And the softer city cousins on the handsome pillows Invite mom to sit a spell and enjoy her handiwork. It’s her day!

Cornelius Bow Adorns Victorian and Asian Decor3) Opposites Attract ~ Ready to pop in some color to your family room that may be suffering from long winter doldrums?  If you think Victorian and Asian decor can’t get along, try tying down this glorious swag of silk flowers with the Famous Cornelius Bow to the top of a sleek red bamboo trunk and wait for the compliments to soar.

Cornelius Gift Shop Scents4) Paddy Wax ~ The name sounds Irish, but actually it is a brand of home fragrances, some of the most true and aromatic in our bouquet of Gift Shop scents.  These charming 6-oz candles with perfect tin packaging in glorious complementary hues smell like fresh-cut Sweet Pea, Jasmine, Poppy and other flowering plants.  Can’t you see them as favors waiting at the plates of spring luncheon guests?  Ahhhh…breathe. Inhale, exhale!

Cornelius Cherub and Cherubim5) Precious Cherub/Cherubim
He steals the show in a cool garden setting with life-like wax flowers, more ethereal statuary and sparks of green. These winged babies first appeared in the Garden of Eden guarding the way to the Tree of Life.  Who could resist him?  Not Eve.

Cornelius Newspaper Bunny6) Black & White and “read” all over…isn’t that what they used to say about newspapers?  If you have a penchant for rabbits but not in pastel colors, let this conversational hare join your Easter festivities.  He would gladly perch on a porch or a tablescape to delight your guests.

St. Patrick's Day Gifts at Cornelius7) Kissing the blarney stone?  If your name is Murphy or McTaggart, you may be flying to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day so you’d better get your Bon Voyage party underway.  You already know what color you’ll be wearing, but why not juice up the dinner table with lively serving dishes and a cunning Mark Roberts leprechaun fairy?

Spring Apron at Cornelius8) Mom’s Apron strings never looked so enticing!  Even thoroughly modern moms cook and would wear an apron more often if she had one blooming in her kitchen in pinks and lavender.  What could be more feminine while at the same time showing your practical side to an important woman in your life. Face it, cowboy.

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Tell Me A Story ~Learning from the Best

“Tell me a story.”

This was what Don Hewitt, the fabled creator and executive producer of 60 Minutes said when he got a story pitch for the show. His devotion to narrative storytelling is what made 60 Minutes perhaps the first and most popular television magazine show  fusing  journalism and show business.

This same phrase was heard over and over at The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference sponsored by the University of North Texas last month http:journalism.unt.edu/maybornconference.

The old autobiographies of yesterday are called memoirs today and they focus on narrative writing…think Angela’s Ashes, The Devil’s Highway and The Man Who Quit Money.    

Two of those authors, Luis Alberto Urrea and Mark Sundeen, were speakers at the 2012 Mayborn Conference.  Urrea, a best-selling author of 14 books including The Hummingbird’s Daughter, tells the story of his grandmother and other Mexican immigrants; Sundeen wrote about a friend of his who literally quit money and started living on the edge of society eating from garbage dumps, living in a sandstone cave.

Short or long, non-fiction narratives blend the skills of journalism and the techniques of fiction, said Richard Rhodes, another Mayborn 2012 speaker who wrote The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which won a Pulitzer among other prizes.

Imagine a day with speakers such as

~Amy Harmon, a national correspondent for the NYT, who wrote about the clinical trial Target Cancer receiving the annual journalism award given by the National Academics of Science in 2011

~Tom Junod, writer at large for Esquire, who has written some of the most controversial and enduring profiles of Steve Jobs and Roger Ailes

~Jeanne Marie Laskas, the author of five nonfiction books including the award-winning trilogy of memoirs Growing Girls, The Exact Same Moon and Fifty Acres and a Poodle.  Her newest book Hidden America coming soon is about the “unseen people who make this country work”…from coal miners to cowboys.

And I haven’t even mentioned the photo journalists and film makers who showed their work illustrating over and over how critical photos are to a story; the story is to each movie and video.

Students were there, too, receiving cash awards for narrative writing from blue chip organizations like the Dallas Morning News, the Bush Library and Big Thought, a more obscure but thriving Dallas organization developed through public schools to stress the importance of writing.

Did I mention the Book Store?  It is set up in the hotel– a sales exhibition of the books by all the conference speakers and this year I bought a gem by Roy Peter Clark, often called the most influential writing coach in American journalism.  I bought Writing Tools : 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer for my daughter Robin Barr Sussman, a travel, food & wine freelancer, but shhhh I’m reading it first.  Clark helps us to see that any person, at any stage, can become a better writer.  There are born writers in this world; the rest of us work at it. ##

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Tell Me A Story ~Learning from the Best

“Tell me a story.”

This was what Don Hewitt, the fabled creator and executive producer of 60 Minutes said when he got a story pitch for the show. His devotion to narrative storytelling is what made 60 Minutes perhaps the first and most popular television magazine show  fusing  journalism and show business.

This same phrase was heard over and over at The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference sponsored by the University of North Texas last month http:journalism.unt.edu/maybornconference.

The old autobiographies of yesterday are called memoirs today and they focus on narrative writing…think Angela’s Ashes, The Devil’s Highway and The Man Who Quit Money.    

Two of those authors, Luis Alberto Urrea and Mark Sundeen, were speakers at the 2012 Mayborn Conference.  Urrea, a best-selling author of 14 books including The Hummingbird’s Daughter, tells the story of his grandmother and other Mexican immigrants; Sundeen wrote about a friend of his who literally quit money and started living on the edge of society eating from garbage dumps, living in a sandstone cave.

Short or long, non-fiction narratives blend the skills of journalism and the techniques of fiction, said Richard Rhodes, another Mayborn 2012 speaker who wrote The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which won a Pulitzer among other prizes.

Imagine a day with speakers such as

~Amy Harmon, a national correspondent for the NYT, who wrote about the clinical trial Target Cancer receiving the annual journalism award given by the National Academics of Science in 2011

~Tom Junod, writer at large for Esquire, who has written some of the most controversial and enduring profiles of Steve Jobs and Roger Ailes

~Jeanne Marie Laskas, the author of five nonfiction books including the award-winning trilogy of memoirs Growing Girls, The Exact Same Moon and Fifty Acres and a Poodle.  Her newest book Hidden America coming soon is about the “unseen people who make this country work”…from coal miners to cowboys.

And I haven’t even mentioned the photo journalists and film makers who showed their work illustrating over and over how critical photos are to a story; the story is to each movie and video.

Students were there, too, receiving cash awards for narrative writing from blue chip organizations like the Dallas Morning News, the Bush Library and Big Thought, a more obscure but thriving Dallas organization developed through public schools to stress the importance of writing.

Did I mention the Book Store?  It is set up in the hotel– a sales exhibition of the books by all the conference speakers and this year I bought a gem by Roy Peter Clark, often called the most influential writing coach in American journalism.  I bought Writing Tools : 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer for my daughter Robin Barr Sussman, a travel, food & wine freelancer, but shhhh I’m reading it first.  Clark helps us to see that any person, at any stage, can become a better writer.  There are born writers in this world; the rest of us work at it. ##

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Football Great Tom Bettis Recounts Storied Career

Just when I thought I would never meet a real celebrity at The Solana, a premier senior living community that hired me in 2010 to provide PR support, along came Tom Bettis.  And even though he had earned  Super Bowl rings and World Championship rings–one for every finger, he is smart enough to know his family is his greatest treasure.  But Bettis loves to talk about Vince Lombardi and his years with the Green Bay Packers.  “Vince took a talented but undisciplined team and turned is around,”  said Bettis.  “One day after a particularly bad performance in training camp, coach took us all into a meeting room and pointed to the podium.  “Gentlemen,” he said.  “This is a football.”

Football Great Tom Bettis

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The harder you work, the luckier you get

Public Relations counselors are a strange breed. We want to guide our clients in making the right moves (when to distribute a news release, where to distribute, how to distribute) but we don’t want to make ALL the decisions and many times the client is right, especially one as marketing savvy as Spencer Clements, president of William Cole, Inc., golf club and resort management.

Recently he told me exactly how he wanted an article to look about Traditions Club http://www.traditionsclub.com
in the most important vehicle for his target audience. It sounded like an ad!

I was at first skeptical, then I was cocky…oh, sure, I had met that editor; I have a working relationship with him. But he turned out to be she; a new editor. Oh, no! But actually she was more accessible, more amenable to using our material, so the client got exactly the article he wanted published in the newspaper he most desired.

 As I told my food PR friend Paula Murphy when she said she got “lucky”–the photo for a small Q&A was split off and became the cover photo of Flavor in the coveted, thinning HOUSTON CHRONICLE.  Oh, sure, Paula. Lucky. What I’ve learned in this business is the harder you work, the luckier you get.

And here’s the promised blog recipe as my prolific basil bush is calling to me:  BASIL PESTO (makes about 3/4 cup) Ingredients: 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts, 8 medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped, 4 cups packed fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt. 

1.  In a small dry skillet, toast the nuts over moderate heat, shaking the pan, until lightly browned, about 5 min.  Cool. 2.  In a food processor, finely choped the garlic.  Add the nuts and basil and pulse until finely chopped, scrapping down the sides as necessary.  With the processsor on, add the oil in a steady stream until incorporated.  This blog pesto can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 week or freeze. Serve over pasta or broiled fish or chicken.  ##

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Close Encounters of a Literary Kind

Doesn’t that sound intriguing? A whole lot sexier than The Mayborn? A highlight of my summer was The Mayborn Nonfiction Literary conference my alma mater, the University of North Texas Journalism School, hosts in Grapevine each July. My wordsmith husband, fortunately, is just as charmed to spend a weekend listening to authors talk about their writing process. When people start a talk with “10 rules” and you can get all of them written down, good for you. But I’ll just share a few. ~In dialogue, never use a word other than “said.” He didn’t “declare” or “yell”–don’t even try to think up other ways to say said.
~If it sounds like writing, re-write it.
~Remember you are telling a story; just tell it.
~To write about business you must listen for the real story; simplify institutional language; use the power of revelation and surprise. That was shared by Robert Blau with Bloomberg who said “you can earn an MBA from just listening to hallway conversations” there. He also said violence in America has shifted to Wall Street. He writes about what players said vs. what they did. Often times the story of financial meltdown is not a story about numbers, it is a story about greed. Two books he recommended: Too Big to Fail and The Big Short. Blau looked like such a gentle fellow.  Who knew he was author of “The Cop Shop:  True Crime on the Streets of Chicago,” a memoir of his years as a police reporter.   From the police beat to a series about the dissolution of Lehman Brothers.  Maybe not such a stretch.

Reading that Blau is married to Leah Eskin, a food columnist for the Chicago Tribune, makes me hungry.  Here is a recipe from one of my “best cooker friends” Kathryn Kent.  It is so easy you’ll think you ordered in.

Portobello Pizzas (for two, or you may be able to eat them both)

Bake at 450 degrees

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 large portabello mushroom caps, wipe clean with damp towel

12 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced or grated

10 fresh basil leaves

2 fresh tomatoes, sliced

oregano (opt)

Combine oil and garlic in a small bowl and rub the mushroom caps on all sides with the mixture.  Place the caps, top side down, in a circle on an oiled baking sheet (STOP!  Cover with foil first then spray with oil for quick clean-up).

Season caps with salt and pepper.  Arrange the cheese, basil and tomato slices alternately in a circle on top of the mushroom caps. Sprinkle with oregano, if using.  Nice to add:  cooked ground sausage if you have some in the freezer.  Bake about 15 minutes at 450 degrees; cheese should be melted and you should be able to cut through the pizza with a knife and fork. 

You may never go back to traditional pizza again.  Who needs the carbs? ##

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