Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Missing Sandra Lee SemiHomemade Kwanzaa Cake Story

I am so disappointed! I learned today that the witty post written by Denise Vivaldo about Kwanzaa Cake is no longer up on Huffington Post. This story had over 8,000 views, 1,900 shares on Facebook and 270 comments. Someone sure was enjoying reading it. If anyone has a copy I'd love one -I always wondered how that holiday miracle came to be.
But the great part of this story is that it introduced me to Denise and I was lucky enough to get a copy of her beautiful book "Food Stylists Handbook". I'm totally motivated now to get back into the kitchen and come up some photo-worthy plates of my own. And I promise, no store bought angel food cakes, apple pie filling, "acorns" or oversized tapers will be harmed in the process.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lifestylist® Advisory: Sandra Lee's Semi-homemade Kwanzaa Cake

Many of you may be familiar with Sandra Lee - the Food Network personality. On one of her first shows she introduced us to her infamous Kwanzaa cake, and I've been confused ever since. She assembles an angel food cake adding chocolate frosting, apple pie filling and "acorns" - which most of us call corn nuts.  To this day the recipe calls for acorns which is frightening since actual acorns aren't edible to my knowledge.
We got a very special holiday gift this year - the incredibly talented food stylist Denise Vivaldo has come forward in an article in the Huffington Post to let us know it was actually Denise who came up with the Kwanzaa cake, and the Chanukah cake as well. Her recipe did call for corn nuts - not acorns though, and she does give Ms. Lee total credit for the massive tapers that were inserted in the top.
For the record, Ms. Vivaldo is actually an incredibly talented food stylist -I'd dare to say one of the best. I would give anything to spend a few days and learn from her. Since that probably won't happen, I'll settle for the next best thing - a copy of her new book The Food Stylist's Handbook. It shows you the right way to pay homage to food, and I'd even dare to call it "food porn" - you'll be lusting after everything you see in the book. Denise can also be found on Twitter. She is very generous with her knowledge and also has a great sense of humor!
So if anyone wants to know what would be the perfect gift to give this Lifestylist®, now you know!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Noah's Magic Shoes

I feel so blessed that I have had the life I have, and because of that I feel compelled to give back every opportunity that I have. Giving people hope and helping others isn't that hard - sometimes it's as easy as just thinking about where you are shopping or making a purchase.
Nothing touches me more than violence to another living being, and the I have been very fortunate to have been introduced to the Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas.The work they do is amazing, and what hurts me the most is how much of a need there is for safe havens like Genesis.
But back to giving back. Over a year ago Director Jan Langbein shared a story with some of her group about a boy who had come to live at one of the Genesis shelters. This six year old boy had never owned a new pair of shoes, and when he received the new pair of red sneakers he proclaimed that they were magic because the treads on them allowed him to walk up a slide backwards. From that story "Noah's Magic Shoes" came to be.
This beautifully illustrated book is truly a labor of love, and 100% of the proceeds benefit the Genesis Women's Shelter. You can purchase a copy for yourself or to share on the Genesis website. I shared my autographed copy that I purchased at the NorthPark Center event to my daughter who is a teacher. There are classroom lessons on the website prepared by Dr. Larkin Page, Professor of Children's Literature.
Make a difference this year by sharing the story of "Noah's Magic Shoes" - it is a gift that will truly keep on giving.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Excitement Builds Around The Opening of The New American Home

I just saw an article in Nation's Building News today about The New American Home.  This publication is the official online newspaper of The National Association of Home Builders, and is available to you if you are a member of this amazing organization.
If you are not a member, please feel free to contact us - we'll get the information to you that you need in time to join us at the International Builders Show and tour the home!

Delta Airlines Needs a Lifestylist®

Every time I fly, I wonder why I even think of working with clients that aren't close enough to drive to. I love the amazing clients that I have, and I am very grateful for them. And I tell them how much I appreciate their business every chance I get. It's something I don't take for granted, and I know they always have other choices.I'm not sure if I have the worst luck when it comes to flying, or if my experiences are more common than the airlines let you know.
This week I was meeting with a client in Michigan, and I had a big trends presentation that I have been working on for months. I have visited model home communities in 5 different states and had hundreds of brochures and floorplans to share. They were bulky and weighed a lot so I had to put them into my checked luggage, along with the Christmas gifts that were handmade especially for them. Because I fly so frequently, Delta put one of those coveted yellow tags on my bag to let the baggage handlers know I was a VIP and to take my bag off first.It was an uneventful set of flights - no unexpected 4 hour stop in Augusta like last time - and besides snowy weather in South Bend I was good. I stood there patiently with everyone else on my flight and all of the bags without the bright yellow tags came out, but not mine. Even the woman who sat next to me on both flights received her luggage, but mine was no where to be found. South Bend  doesn't have a baggage office  so I went up to the ticket counter and she looked up the info on my bag - she assured me that it was put on the plane in Dallas, but after that there was no record.She said the usual I'm so sorry and I believed her - she was trying and it wasn't her fault. I had a two hour drive to my destination and there was no way I was getting my luggage that evening so she said I have something for you, and gave me this little blue bag.
So what's in the blue bag? As you can see, a comb, shaving cream, razor, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste. If I was a gentleman this would be great, but wasn't much in it for me.
Delta Airlines needs a Lifestylist®, and they need this Lifestylist®. The only people who would be gifted with this bag would be someone who would be pretty upset about now because their luggage was lost, and this bag really doesn't give the impression that someone cares. I had paid a premium to fly on their airplane to make a business trip that they lost the materials for, and all they could do was say we'll try to find it. THEN they sent it to the wrong airport after two people in their corporate office said it was on the right flight and would be arriving shortly. When that didn't happen they told me to write a letter and send it through their website!
I'm doing better than that -I'm blogging about it. That's what consumers do these days when they feel like they aren't being heard, and if you have a business you had better be prepared to communicate to this new consumer - especially to listen. It amazes me how many businesses are afraid to use social media because they are afraid an upset customer will say something negative about them. Chances are pretty good if they are upset enough to take the time to write about it it is getting posted - it just may be some place that you aren't paying attention to. An interesting side note though is that when I FourSquared, Tweeted and Facebooked about the fact that I was at the South Bend Airport I got a reply tweet from the airport saying thanks for flying through South Bend and come back soon. This made me feel really good about the airport choice I had made, and that someone had cared enough about my business to acknowledge it.
How does a Lifestylist® handle a situation like this? We listen, process, and come up with a better solution. I have a great one for Delta, but they are going to have to contact me to find out what that solution is!
May all of your travels be stress free, your luggage arrive when you do and whatever airline you choose to use remembers who the customer is.