Go bananas!

I have always been a fan of bananas. They are loaded with good vitamins and minerals. Plus, they come in a pretty, bright yellow skin that composts. What’s not to love?

But there’s more.

I’m most in love with them when they start turning brown and spotty. Over-ripened bananas mean banana bread in our house. Unless they are a pulpy mess — which happens sometimes — bananas take on new life for a few more breakfasts and snacks. It’s like giving to Goodwill. Things we have and hold (often for too long) can take on new life and meaning for others, if we just let them.

If you have some brown bananas on your counter today, remake them into tonight’s dessert: banana bread. Here’s a simple recipe, borrowed (of course) years ago from someone else.


Banana Bread
3 to 4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 and 1/2 cups of flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter into mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix. Add the flour last and mix again. Pour into a buttered 4×8″ loaf pan or. Bake for one hour. Cool on a rack.

(Sometimes I use four small loaf pans so I can share. If you do that, cut the baking time in half.)

Elizabeth’s Swing

Photo by Cathy Monetti

Last week was an incredible week. I worked on location in charming Beaufort, SC. Blissful sun. Riverside dining. Stunning lowcountry locations. A fantastic Emulsion Arts crew. As much fun as I had, it was nice to come home on Friday.

My friend Cathy was kind enough to drive us down so when we got back to Lexington Friday afternoon, I was itching to hop in my car and head home to Forest Acres. And then Cathy asked me if I wanted to go see Elizabeth.

You probably don’t know this but Elizabeth is a tree. I read about Elizabeth on Cathy’s blog months ago. I was aching to meet Elizabeth. Mostly for her swing that inspired one of my favorite sentences ever.

Photo by Cathy MonettiSo off we went. Home would have to wait just a little while longer.

We moseyed across the neighbors’ yard, home of Elizabeth’s human friends, said hello to the dogs and there she was. She was just as beautiful as Cathy said. So singularly tall and graceful with thick strong roots. And there was that swing. Flat and wide with thick brown braided ropes that reached far up into the leaves.

You can’t look at a swing like that without trying it out. Well, you could just look at it but why on Earth would you? I hopped on and Cathy started to push.

Once I got going it was pure joy. No playground swing can ever compete with the long, graceful glide of that swing. It’s an entirely different level of lightness.

Contented and quiet, I swung under Elizabeth for a few more minutes, then dragged my heels to slow down. When I finally came to a stop, I sat there for a few minutes and savored the swing of that incredible swing. When I finally made my way to the car, the swing of that swing stayed with me. I was especially thankful for the inner peace Elizabeth gave because I was now tired, ready to be home and stuck in Friday afternoon downtown Lexington traffic.

Of Elizabeth, Cathy said, “The swing of that swing, it goes on forever.” She was so right. The most precious thing to me is that while the ride itself was delightful, what really sticks with you is the freedom of the slow, steady glide. It’s pure, smooth and so long you can feel it hours, days and, I bet, years after you come to a stop.

What a tremendous gift for anyone who has the privilege of meeting the tree named Elizabeth.

Blogging for others.

You can’t really tell by looking at my own blog, but there’s been a lot of guest blogging on The Internets these past few weeks.

Much of the action centered around my involvement with CreateAthon, the marathon pro-bono effort launched by Riggs Partners. Our friends at Emulsion Arts created an incredible video that captured the day and night which you can enjoy and share here. CreateAthon is an amazing, fulfilling annual experience I am so proud to be a part of. It’s one day of my life that richly rewards the other 364 days. If you’d like to start a CreateAthon in your area, you can get started here.

Another guest blog post for Talk About Giving started a littler closer to home. My husband and I were struggling with our sons’ upcoming birthdays. How could we channel the much appreciated, generous gifts into a truly useful gift for a child-focused organization? It turned out to be easier than we thought and was a great learning experience for all of us. You can learn about our experience here.Collected on behalf of Palmetto Health's Children's Hospital

Thanks for reading and staying in touch!

A sharable moment.

I was in the grocery store the other day when something that caught my eye. My oldest son had found a kid-sized display at Piggly Wiggly where a child could put his face in and “be” the pig. At the bottom, they suggested you take a photo and share it on Facebook. In other words, they created a sharable moment within the everyday confines of a trip to the grocery store. Pretty smart.

What a smart thing to think about when planning an event or even an annual marketing calendar. What can you do to create sharable moments for your customers or guests?

Take it to 11.

New stamps from the United States Post Office

While recently dangling my feet in the kiddie pool and devouring a copy of Real Simple, I read about some new stamps the United States Post Office was offering — Pioneers of American Industrial Design. They are so beautiful and simple. As a Mid-Mod-ian, I love everything about them including the fact that they are forever stamps.

New stamps from the United States Post OfficeWhile digging around on the Post Office’s website, I came across some other great stamps, too. I don’t send many letters or envelopes anymore, but when I do I like to spice it up. In my career, there have been times where we’ve used a particular stamp design to add an exclamation point to a concept or even created a special mark for a postal machine.

A waste, you say? A stamp’s a stamp? Look at that Russel Wright Pinch flatware on that stamp. That’s just a fork, yes. A fork that’s got a place in the Museum of Modern Art.

When you send a handwritten letter these days you’re already doing something to stand out. Add an exclamation point by bypassing commodity postage and using a stamp that says something about you or your company.

It’s small, poignant detail that few people take the time to think through in our email world.

Write. Edit. Repeat.

There are plenty of people who don’t enjoy writing. That’s okay. Actually, it’s good for people like me. Here are tips to get you through your next writing assignment if you can’t hire a word nerd like me.

  1. Think about what you have to write. Who is your audience? Is there a purpose or call to action? How long should your piece be? What are the main points to cover?
  2. Outline. Jot a quick outline of your main points. The outline will help you establish structure and get the information in logical sequence. In the outline stage, you may find there’s not room for everything. That’s good. Base all of your content and editing choices on what’s important to the reader.
  3. Write. In theory, once the outline gets going, writing’s already happening. Don’t be afraid to work out of order. You can always write “Thrilling intro here” and head straight to the meat. Editing is for smoothing out the rough edges and creating transitions from one idea to another. Adjusting beginnings and ends is clean up work.
  4. Edit. Invest time here. If you can say it in three words rather than 13, go for three. Don’t use five-dollar words when dollar words will do. There’s an ongoing joke that no one reads anymore. Sadly, it’s true. But if writing is easy to follow and interesting, people will read through it without realizing they are reading.
  5. Repeat. Always go through your work one more time with fresh eyes or give it to someone else for a read-through. Look for typos, missing words and edit what doesn’t make sense. And remember the typo is always in the headline so pay extra attention there.

Nothing’s more scary to a non-writer than a blank piece of paper. It’s a lot of pressure and stress for being nothing more than emptiness. That’s why I suggest getting some words or thoughts on it quickly. The words may not make it into the final draft, but they’ll get your brain working. And that’s the first step in any writing project!