Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Love a Baking Challenge (it is so civilized)

"I love a baking challenge. It is so civilized." This is my friend, Mary Alice, the consummate baker and true Southern lady (transplanted years ago here in the Northeast) talking about baking a Lane cake. Have you heard of this delightful confection? It gets a mention in Harper Lee's heartbreaking and beautiful story
"To Kill A Mockingbird", which I recommend you read immediately if you haven't.

Created by Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama, Lane cake is something that appears on special occasions in the South. A big cake, says Mary Alice, with raisins, coconut, pecans, lots of eggs and a jigger of whiskey, then topped with luscious seven-minute frosting.

Civilized? Definitely. Delicious? I'll tell you later . . .

Fashion Me Red

Back in August I was browsing women's clothing catalogs online in places where I wouldn't normally shop because I'm not that cool or trendy. Understanding that the color red would be back this Fall, I felt exhilarated and eagerly anticipated adding that new red sweater or coat into my regular rotation of favorites. Red is a color that complements me and works reliably with the various black, denim or brown slacks, jeans or skirts I wear for every occasion. According to Wikipedia, the color red connotes a variety of signals including, danger, anger, communism, lust, friendship and honor. For me, red just feels good.

To my dismay, I completely misunderstood the trend. All of the new women's clothing catalogs in my mailbox and inbox are displaying sweaters, boyfriend jackets and tweeds in purple, lavender, grey and blue. There are some orange and yellow and green accents here and there, and they're very nice, but true red clothing appears to be out, for the time being. Apparently the more muted colors are reflective of our "tough economic times", according to Allan Barger of "Fashionising". I have recently sworn off the phrase "tough economic times" and still prefer Pantone 185 or 186 Red to American Beauty Rose or Burnt Sienna.

I trust that my new red sweater will turn up eventually; I can be patient.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The One and Only Packaging Diva

When you see the word "diva", you normally think of an opera singer like Jessye Norman or even an R&B singer like Aretha Franklin. Barbra Streisand and Mariah Carey come to mind. I've never made acquaintance with these divas, but agree that they fit the profile, given the Merriam-Webster definition of diva, which is "a usually glamorous and successful female performer".

The Packaging Diva, JoAnn Hines, deserves the diva moniker because of the breadth of her interest in and knowledge of all things packaging. She has been around the business for so long that even the likes of Bill Clinton (she's been to the White House twice) and Faith Popcorn have called for JoAnn's input before they made a public statement.

To put it simply, JoAnn Hines knows how products should be packaged so that people will buy them. Whether you are launching a new product, retooling a tried and true favorite, looking for a packaging vendor, need input on a packaging design already in the works, seek a packaging expert to speak at an event, require help to stay competitive in the marketplace, or are looking to expand your market or target a specific demographic, Joann has the qualifications to steer you in the right direction. She has affiliations with universities, publications, manufacturers and pretty much anyone who has anything to do with packaging. JoAnn has even developed her own Packaging University with myriad opportunities to learn to integrate your packaging with the needs of the consumer.

A successful business is all about connections, isn't it? If you're in the packaging business, make that connection with The Packaging Diva - you'll be glad you found her.
The Packaging Diva

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Saturday at the Farmer's Market

Have you been to your local farmer's market? Sponsored by Sustainable Braintree, the Braintree Farmer's Market is open on Saturday mornings through October in the parking lot of town hall, where you'll find vegetables and fruits (some exotic, others familiar), meats, seafood, homemade pies, cookies, soaps, granola, plants and other great items you likely won't find on the shelf at the grocery store. One lucky day I even found the Friends of Thayer Public Library selling gently used paperback books on the cheap! I bought a couple of books that day, but return faithfully each Saturday for the vegetables. Everything there is super-fresh; most of the produce was picked in the last 24 hours - unless you grow it yourself you'll find none better. Some of the sweetest corn and juiciest gigantic tomatoes come from The Farmer's Garden in Rehoboth. On a recent visit, owner Tammy Noons mentioned that the corn had been picked that morning; her table was crowded with buyers scooping up as many ears of corn as they could carry.

It evokes an uncommon, small-town, old-fashioned feeling; mingling in the sunshine with neighbors, while the proud farmers help you choose the best produce and even tell you how to prepare it if you need advice. As the summer winds down, find a farmer's market near you and enjoy the local flavor.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fully Committed

Riding down the highway the other day, I noticed a car, first because it was a brilliant yellow Mustang, which I thought was cool, and then because it had Red Sox stickers on it. (I'm a big Sox fan). Upon closer inspection (traffic was at a standstill), I saw that it was a young female driver, who obviously has a great love for the Red Sox, and for Dustin Pedroia in particular. She had the Red Sox logo on her license plate and in the center of the rear window, and the oval shaped "15" (Pedroia's number for you National League fans) sticker in the lower right corner. "MVPedroia" decorated the lower portion of the rear window, all adding up to a BIG LOVE for the very accomplished infielder.

We have a great tendency to wear our hearts on our sleeves, as it were, for sports teams and causes, our country or our candidate. I recommend that each of us be even more committed to ourselves. Not for selfish reasons, but to be better people, for ourselves and for those around us. It brings to mind the safety instructions on airplanes: the flight attendants remind us, in case of emergency, to put on our own oxygen masks before helping others.

It's simple - if you're going to do it, be fully committed.