Monday, January 24, 2011

Manic Monday

Six o'clock already
I was just in the middle of a dream
I was kissin' Valentino
By a crystal blue Italian stream
But I can't be late
'Cause then I guess I just won't get paid
These are the days
When you wish your bed was already made

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it were a Sunday
'Cause that's my funday
My I don't have to runday
It's just another manic Monday!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another Packers Win

This afternoon, the NFL's oldest rivals faced off for the AFC Championship. 
It was the first time since 1941 the two teams had met in the playoffs. 
It was, for many of us football fans, a game not to be missed.
I watched it all and enjoyed the heck out of it. 
The victory came down to the final minutes.
The Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears. 
The score was 21-14.

 Seeing the Packers win seemed like old times. 
It brought back bittersweet memories.
Too many times they beat the Dallas Cowboys when I was a kid. 
Back then, I loved cheering on the Packers and Bart Starr, 
except when they played the Cowboys and Don Meredith. 
Green Bay's win today was different. 
It was sweet — as sweet as pure sugar!
The Cowboys not making the playoffs this year was sweet too.
Funny how time changes things!

New Orleans Roast

I discovered New Orleans Roast Coffee last summer while visiting the Crescent City. It is served in many of the best restaurants there.

I absolutely love this coffee. I tell people about it all the time; I even mention it in my posts of Facebook. And, because it is easy to order online or purchase in Houston, it's become the official brew of my house!

Friends — who haven't yet had a cup of New Orleans Roast Coffee — keep asking me about it. "Why do you like it so much," they ask. "What's so special about it?"

I tell them, "It just tastes so good. Fresher, somehow!"

Their questions motivated me to learn more about the product. I now know that New Orleans Roast Coffee is roasted in a facility in the French Quarter, directly off the Mississippi River. The owners buy only 100% Arabican beans, plucked while still green. To ensure consistency, each batch of coffee is slowly roasted in small batches.

I've gotten to be such a fan of New Orleans Roast Coffee that I've started telling restaurant owners here in Houston (who have bad coffee) all about it. I've started asking them to go to Kroger, buy some and brew a pot.

Oddly enough, a couple have done that, reported back and thanked me.

Perhaps it won't be long before some of the best restaurants in Houston will also be serving the best coffee.

I sure do hope so!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rescuing Bugsy

It's been a long time since I've been a dog owner - more than 10 years. Each and every time I think about acquiring a new four-legged friend, I talk myself out of it. For one reason or another, the timing hasn't seemed quite right.

But then, right before Christmas, a friend posted something on Facebook that got my attention - this photo!

I discovered the handsome dude in the photo was Bugsy - a two-year-old Schnoodle (part Schnauzer, part Poodle) who was in desperate need of adoption. He had recently been picked up by Kathryn Eyster-Turnbull of True Blue Animal Rescue in Brenham. She got him just hours before he was to be euthanized.

I started thinking about all the shelters in this country and all the animals that end up in them. A quick google search told me that more than four million animals are handled each year by local shelters. And, of that number, 64 percent are euthanized. That's nearly three million tragic deaths!

The more I looked at Bugsy's darling little face, and thought about how close he came to becoming a very sad statistic, the more I wanted to do the right thing — bring him home and make darn sure he gets the love and affection he deserves!

Next Saturday morning, I will begin to do that.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Joe Cobb's Barbecue

When I was growing up, this little barbecue place was a favorite of mine and all my friends. Much like the iconic soda fountain of the 50s, Cobb's was the after-school hangout for generations of us who attended Bossier High School.

Cobb's is located just a few blocks from the school, so getting over there was quick and easy. The food was affordable and some of our favorites.
The decor of Cobb's was always familiar and  welcoming. The tables had shiny metal legs and formica tops (like the ones we had in our kitchens at home) and the walls were decorated with souvenirs and historic memorabilia from our beloved alma mater.

On those walls were pictures of BHS football teams, school pennants, football tickets, booster ribbons and buttons, and newspaper clippings. Just what you might expect to see at a place strongly supported by the local teens.

So, it was not surprisingly that Cobb's was the first choice for lunch today when my family got together in Bossier. None of us had been there for a while, and all of us were eager to return. We wanted to enjoy some of the best barbecue in the world, of course, but we also wanted to see if any of the "stuff" from the old days was still posted on the walls there.

Walking in, we couldn't help but smile. Nothing seemed to have changed. The four-tops still formed a long, family-style table in the middle of the room. Naugahyde booths were stilling lining the walls, All seemed to be the exact same ones we had sat on hundreds of times before.

Right away we started to scan the walls and right away we spotted the group photo of the BHS cheerleaders from 1975, the year my youngest sister, Paula, was on the squad. (The photo was in the exact same spot it had always been.)

My father, brother-in-law, son, two sisters and I stood there staring at that photo for awhile before we placed our order. Finally, my brother-in-law said, "Hey, Paula, you were looking pretty good in that photo!" The rest of chimed in with similar comments.

Then Paula said what most women of a "certain age" say when looking at old photos, "I sure was nice and skinny back then. What happened?"

Back in Bossier City

My son, Matthew, and I drove up to Bossier City, La this morning to connect with my 88-year-old father (who lives here) and my brother-in-law and my two younger sisters (who do not).

Since my mother passed away three years ago, Matthew and I try to get back home every couple of months to see my dad and make sure all is going well for him. My sisters have been doing the same thing. Most often we girls stagger our visits, so sibling reunions are rare. Fortunately, this weekend is an exception. For the first time in nearly two years, we are all here together.

And, more than usual, it feels like home!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pricey Texas Plates

For the first time, Texas auctioned off personalized license plates to raise money for the state coffers. It happened at midnight last night. when registered bidders were able to choose from among 33 pre-determined, seven-character plates. Until now, motorists have been able to have only six characters on their plates.
Reports tell us that the plate with the word, Ferrari, on it brought in the most cash - $15,000. Others, like the one that reads, Cowboys, motivated someone to bid more $10,000. At evening's end, the auction had raised a total of $137,000 for Texas.
The winners of the Great Plate Auction will own their plates for 25 years and can renew them for 10 years after that. They'll be able to pass the plates down to their children, who can renew them for another 10 years if they so choose. 
Last night's auction got me thinking (again) about vanity plates and what words I would put on one, as well as how much I'd be willing to pay for it. 
Since I still drive my beloved 2001 Volvo S40, I could get by cheap and go with something no one else would want. Something obvious. Something like PAID 4, RUSTY or OLD GAL would probably be good choices.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Women in Print

Today I had the pleasure of speaking at Ouisie's Table at the luncheon meeting of Women in Print.

I was asked to speak about my experience as a self-employed publisher and client for printing companies. I accepted readily, seeing this as a great opportunity to "get a few things off my chest."

With courage, I entitled my talk, "My Love/Hate Relationship with Printers," and prayed a silent prayer my audience would be open to hearing the truth - at least the truth from my point of view. My prayer was answered. The audience was great; the attendees were genuinely interested in hearing what a client like me wants and needs from a printer.

I explained that price was important, but it wasn't always the deciding factor when selecting — or staying with — a printer. "Yes, the price has to be fair;" I said, "but it doesn't necessarily have to be the lowest price out there to get my business."

Most important, I told the group, is the printer-client relationship. It needs to be based on unwavering trust and mutual respect. It needs to provide me peace of mind and make this part of my job easy!

I explained having a printer as interested in the success and continued growth of my business — as much as her own — was key. I talked about how important it was to meet expectations every single time — no matter what!

Knowing my magazine would get on and off the press when promised is crucial. I told them that "not every printer in H-town seems to get that." I also told them about printers who lie - who tell me what I want to hear on the front end, to get my business. Then, afterwards, deny their own promises and agreements.

I also told the women in print that expectations of clients change over time.

"In my experience, the longer you have a client, the more they expect."

I talked about short-term "sins of omission" that can cost them future long-term business. I cited a couple of personal examples:

• Printers who never send get well or sympathy cards when appropriate
• Printers who never say "thank you" for on-going business

People like me, I told them, want our printers to serve as ready consultants, educating us about ways to lower our costs, improve our production processes, enhance our products, create new offerings for our customers, etc.

It all boils down to customer service.

Provide the best, and you keep more clients. Let it fall by the wayside, and your clients will do the very same thing.

It's true for printing companies. It's true for every other kind of business too!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow in America

It snowed in 49 of our 50 states today. Florida was the only one without a flake. The blizzard in New York, as well as the powdery downfalls in all of the other states across the country, have made the record books.

The last time 49 states in the union had snow at the same time was last year when all but Hawaii had snow. Before that, it happened in 1977, and South Carolina was the lone exception.

Every broadcast news professional has been focused on the snowfall all day long. I heard the word "snow" mentioned so many times today I started to make "snow" notes.

I heard TV anchors say things like "on with the snow" and "snow joke" at least 100 times. I heard some of the weather guys and gals refer to their work as "snow jobs."  I heard a couple of interviewers ask, "Snow what?"

The silly references went on and on, but I enjoyed them all. They made me smile. And being able to keep a silly grin on my face all day long made me "snow, snow" happy!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Denver Omelets

Tonight is one of those Sunday nights when nothing sounds better for dinner than breakfast. So, I've decided to prepare one of my favorite dishes - Denver Omelets. 
It never occurred to me until tonight to inquire about why this particular recipe was named after me or, perhaps, the Mile High City in Colorado. Until now, I just accepted the notion that it was simply a great idea!
But, a quick google search and I found some interesting facts and contradictions.
One source said the omelet was named for Denver because the ingredients in the dish came from Colorado. Oh, really? Which ones? The eggs? The ham? The bell peppers? The onions? You mean to tell me we can't find the providers of those four ingredients elsewhere?

The American Heritage Cookbook and Illustrated History of American Eating and Drinking (1964) fixed the origin of the Denver Omelet (originally called Western Omelet) to pioneer women who masked the flavor of aging eggs by mixing in plenty of onions when cooking them. Other food historians believe the Denver Omelet was started by chuckwagon cooks - for the same reason.

I've included here my recipe for Denver Omelets, however, it is never followed precisely. I find it too much trouble to measure things, and doing so puts a damper on my creativity.

So, to keep it simple, start with four eggs, then add a little of this, a little of that, a pinch of this and a pinch of that. No matter what you do, these omelets will turn out just right!

Denver Omelets
(2 servings)

4 large eggs
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
1/2 cup diced ham 
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
Tabasco to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet or on a griddle. Saute onion, bell pepper, ham and bacon in the butter until the onion starts to become opaque. In a small bowl, whip the eggs lightly. Add salt and pepper and hot sauce if desired. Slowly, stir the eggs into mixture in skillet. Lightly brown on one side. Turn over and lightly brown other side.

Serve on a plain white plate with two slices of buttered wheat toast and some orange slices. Sit down, take a bite and say, "yum."

Repeat soon!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My One Word for 2011

It is New Year's Day, and like so many others I'm pondering the possibilities of 2011 - knowing I should set some worthy goals, yet stay open to surprises that will surely come my way.

I used to write a long list of resolutions each year. The usual to-dos — eat less and exercise more — were always included . Most often, I ate more and exercised not at all.

So, this go-round I'm opting for something different. I'm picking a single word to focus on - one that will best encompass the attitude I want to embrace in the coming months.

I've come up with some good options: happiness, positivity, kindness, flexibility, generosity. Injecting more of any these qualities in my life would be good for me. 

But, I keep thinking about the quote by Susan Rabin, "Enthusiasm is contagious. Be a carrier." And it's spin-off, "Enthusiasm is contagious. Not having enthusiasm is also contagious."

And that quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Enthusiasm is the mother of effort and without it nothing great was ever achieved."

I like both of those quotes - a lot!

So, I have selected ENTHUSIASM as my one word for 2011. 

I just wrote the word on three pieces of blank paper - with large and brightly colored letters. The first was posted on the cork board next to my computer. The second was placed under a magnet on my refrigerator. The third was framed and put in my bedroom on a nightstand. 

I shouldn't need reminders to be enthusiastic. But, come mid-January when I do what I usually do — forget my resolve— it will be mighty good to have them!