Welcome to the ACT5 Experience

DSC_0009After two round trips shuttling three fascinating magazine industry execs from Memphis to Oxford – with not one but two wrong way turns – The Inn at Ole Miss’ dinner was calling my name. Friendly bartenders greeted me, offering a complimentary glass of wine.

The duo of executives from Norway seemed to be enjoying conversation at the first table I greeted, so I found a chair and joined them just as Dr. Samir Husni opened the conference and dinner was served. Perfect timing. Welcome to the ACT5 Experience. The gentleman to my right from Quad Graphics engaged me in conversation, so my bites were few though chicken with sun-dried tomatoes and black olives kept beckoning. Round tables with students interspersed among magazines’ finest filled the ballroom.

The first evening of the annual magazine conference launched smoothly. Coffee was being served as a student introduced Roy Reiman, who insisted of all magazine conferences, ACT5 is best. Naturally Ole Miss students agreed, after weeks of preparation culminated this evening. Mr Reiman said those in the magazine business are “doers, not dreamers.” When he began with fourteen magazines in print sans advertisements, 1 in 8 American homes subscribed. He said, “Emphasis on creativity and content is a goal for all magazines.”

The limitations Reiman sets for his magazines set them apart from the competition. Each issue features only 84 pages and ads use just 20% of page space. Using his unique approach, advertisers line up to be included in his exclusive publications. In fact, 84% of his advertisers sign on for multiple issue contracts and 50% have full year contracts. Reiman’s Virtual Salesperson Cal posts quips and stories about why he never shows up, since a salesperson is not on staff at his magazines.

To further engage the reader, inventive contests provide prizes from advertisers. “Make it different, then make it better,” said Reiman. “Creativity is the engine that powers publishing.” He reminded the audience that mistakes “show you how to do things right!” As Mr. Reiman said, “Right on!”

Social Media

Thank You for Your Service

I love the flag. The Stars & Stripes. Old Glory. In 1814, Francis Scott Key concluded a song by asking this question – set to notes only the best vocalists could reach, yet a nation would sing at ballgames before emitting a great cheer – “Oh say, does that star spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free & the home of the brave?”

Answer: Why yes. Yes! It most certainly does.

For two hundred years,  the tune – which always inspires chillbumps on my arms – has filled the air…the Star Spangled Banner. After 9/11, you couldn’t look down any street in America, it seemed, without seeing our flag flying.

Today’s Clarion-Ledger article by Mark Stowers concluded with his question, “Who do you know that has helped keep our Independence flowing and our freedom cemented? Add their names and service here or over at Facebook or you can tweet me @markhstowers….see yah next week!”

Who do I know? Posting their names would take quite a lot of space on a Facebook comment, so there’s certainly not enough characters to Tweet the ones I’m honored to know (though the list is packed with some of the most amazing characters any story would ever hope to contain!).

I’m patriotic. My Facebook network is full of veterans and those currently serving in the military who I’m proud to call “Friends.” So many sacrificed so much to serve our country, providing their families and mine the freedom to kick back and celebrate today in absolutely any way we choose. The flag reminds me – every single time – of the struggle to raise it, the battle to keep it flying, and the people who have given so much to benefit the all-too-often ungrateful.

It’s said that one voice represents 100. So I’ll speak for my family of 5 children to give 600 heartfelt thank you’s to the men and woman I happen to know, as well as all… think abut how enormous the word “all” is here: Thank you to all who have served with honor.

Fireworks of celebration will fill our skies tonight because of the few, the proud, the dedicated. When I say “Thank you for your service,” This is what I mean, my heart overflowing with gratitude.

Have a blessed, safe, and thankful Independence Day! And be sure to check out Mark’s article!

PHOTO CREDIT: Debbie Nelson

“I enjoyed a peace-filled Sunday afternoon in Oxford, Mississippi last weekend, chatting with locals and reassuring visitors they can’t go wrong in their choice of restaurant – every eatery on the Square serves delicious food. The atmosphere was Norman Rockwell-ish, a slice of Americana. The sun was shining, birds chirping, flags occasionally rippling as the air moved slightly – not quite a breeze. Oxford was dressing up for the Independence Day celebration!”
~Debbie Nelson
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Fab Food

Island Chicken atop Mustard Green-Garlic Rice

Island Chicken atop Mustard Green-Garlic Rice

Monday’s dinner began Sunday night. In a large ziploc bag, place 4 frozen boneless chicken breasts, contents of Weber’s Teriyaki marinade packet, and one can of pineapple juice. Seal & place in refrigerator overnight.

For tonight’s dinner, I cranked up Mood Booster playlist on Spotify & exercised my favorite way – dancing! Hey, it keeps cooking fun & it’s fun to be spontaneous. I got out my ingredients, then dialed down to toe-tapping to chop 1/4 medium onion, then resumed doing the twist while I sautéed the onion in a large skillet, with my fav new combo: olive oil with 1 T. salted butter.

I took each chicken breast out of the marinade, placed them in the skillet and danced a few more minutes before taking the chicken one at a time and slicing into medallion pieces, adding each back to the pan once sliced. I let them simmer on low while I cranked up the dancing a little.

In a large dutch oven, prepare rice of your preference, as much as you’d like. *Leftovers are outstanding in my Breakfast Fried Rice Scramble – recipe to follow.*

Added 3 – 4 gloves garlic to the pot of rice, smashed in my garlic press (fav new kitchen gadget!), then had to scale back on the dancing again to chop mustard greens. Added them to the rice pot, too. Cooked rice as directed.

Remembered I had a gift-sized jar of orange marmalade that would really top off the chicken flavor. So you’ll want to add 4 – 5 T. orange marmalade to chicken skillet. Stir. Cook til rice is done…And dance! Season with freshly ground pepper and sea salt. Serve over rice. Enjoy! Serves 4 – 6.

Fab Food

Muffins. More Muffins.

Success means something different to each person. I collect inspirational sayings on my Pinterest board entitled, “Just Sayin'” – check it out, and Follow my board!

This evening, the very late spring temps were pleasantly in the low 70’s. So after days of rain, I decided to bust out the baking supplies. An undress craving for pumpkin bread got the better of me, so I grabbed my favorite cookbook – The American Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbook. It’s as much fun to read as it is to locate divine recipes.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins, made famous by The Melville House in Rhode Island, became the basis for my twist on pumpkin muffins. It’s a habit and joy of mine, to play mad scientist in the kitchen! I rarely make a recipe as suggested, always personalizing mine, to make it my own.

Friday the 13th this year was fully of artsy success… began a 12-week journey into art therapy using “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron…baked delicious muffins… and blogged about it!

Here’s my personalized recipe:


Fruit-n-Chocolate-Loaded Pumpkin Muffins

1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour

1/3 c. ground flax seed

1/2 c. sugar (I used 3/4 c. but found it too sweet, so it’s up to you)

1 T. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt (so much better for you than regular salt!)

*     *     *     *

2 eggs, beaten well

1 – 15 oz can pumpkin

1/2 c. Imperial margarine, melted (have to say this brand is my fav for cooking due to the flavor)

1/2 c. chocolate chips

1/2 c. dates

1/4 c. dried cranberries

1/4 c. raisins

1/4 c. dried plums

1/4 c. pecan chips

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put paper liners into cupcake pan. This recipe makes 1 1/2 dozen muffins.

Beat the eggs in a deep bowl. Add pumpkin and melted butter. Mix well with wire whisk. Add all dry ingredients (flour, flax seed, sugar, spice, baking soda, baking powered, and salt). Mix til blended with wooden spoon. Add chocolate chips, and all fruit. Mix well.

Spoon the batter into the paper lined muffin cups, approx 3/4 full.

Bake 20 – 25 min, until puffed, springy to the touch, and wooden toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack. Delicious straight out of the oven, with a pat of real butter. Mmmm! Great for quick breakfast!


Govinda Tidball

Guest speaker at The University of Mississippi, Govinda Tidball (pictured left with Dr. James Lumpp) addresses students in Tupelo, MS, via Distance Learning technology.

March, 2014

Oxford, Miss. — This week Ole Miss hosted a sharply dressed man who spent nearly a decade tackling a variety-pack of challenges which became opportunities in Sri Lanka. Using Prezi for a visual display of his life’s work thus far, Govinda Tidball spoke to an assortment of classes at The Meek School of Journalism and was well received.

How many people heading for a luxury vacation to Sri Lanka would willingly change gears in the face of tsunami? Most would be grumbling at the ticket counter, looking for an alternative destination. Granted, Tidball has family ties to Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, his assessment of the gap between readily available emergency management services and the needs of citizens propelled him into action instead of vacation. As founder of MedONE, he bridged the gap with lifesaving services like the Sri Lanka equivalent of 911 and motorcycles as first-responder vehicles to navigate congested roads. Falck, a prominent emergency management services company based in Denmark, took notice and subsequently purchased MedONE, networking it into an even more effective solution for the people of Sri Lanka.

Tidball has seen the advertising business from both sides – as a successful model for print advertisements as well as CEO of Spendor Media. His humanitarian efforts are significant, both through the quality ads produced to promote education and the economy of Sri Lanka as well as the many organizations he has served.

As a board member for Community Concern Society, Tidball supports the “child-centred Christian NGO (which) empowers disadvantaged children and adults to improve their lives through education, rehabilitation, vocational development, communication, intervention, mobilization and direct assistance for the most needy and destitute.”  His international resource for seekers of truth is Faithmix, a multi-media website.

The take-away from Govinda Tidball:

  • Everyone has problems – keep a solutions mindset.
  • People always want to work with solution-oriented people.
  • Bounce decisions off mentors.
  • Be flexible. (He’s taken flexibility to a whole new level, having lived in a tent for 5 months post-tsunami!)
  • Read, read, read. When you can’t, listen to audiobooks.
  • “If you don’t like to read, you’re probably in the wrong profession,” he said to journalism students.
  • Enjoy the journey. writes, “In the actual Renaissance period, men who were educated aspired to become Renaissance men. They were expected to know several languages, understand philosophy and scientific teachings, appreciate literature and art, and further, to be deft sportsmen.” So let’s add to the list that Govinda Tidball is an athlete who competed in swimming at the University of Nebraska. Indeed, Ole Miss has been visited by a modern-day renaissance man.


Timothy Ivy

ImageTough decisions last night – join my sons for the Blind Boy Paxton concert; view the screening of Fresh, about sustainable agriculture; catch the lecture by Timothy Ivy, photojournalist. Everyone who has spent any time around me knows I’m the one to snap a photo or two (dozen) at just about any gathering. My goal is to preserve the moments. There are key people who never seem to want their picture taken. But later on, those photos become special – they tell the story of where we were and what we were doing. They remind us of things we’d forget in the hustle bustle of daily life.

Since I spent the afternoon at an agriculture panel, I narrowed my choices to music or photography. When I thanked Timothy Ivy for his presentation, and let him know I passed on Paxton, he thought it was a financial decision. His lecture was free. He was genuinely surprised that two of us in attendance had actively chosen his presentation over the musical evening.

Who is Timothy Ivy? Photojournalist for the NY Times before returning to Mississippi, he’s an Ole Miss graduate, class of 2001. Have you ever seen his work? This man tells a story, capturing vivid, raw emotion, regardless of the subject. He said we all have a story, “Write it. Shoot it. Design it.” Sounds like tips for success to me.

He has an uncanny way of adding an “artistic look at a mundane topic”. He encouraged us to take initiative, to shoot story ideas, and pitch them to editors. Ivy said editors may not be able to visualize ideas, so create the whole package. He gave a practical example of this – how he recognized a story within a simple chat with a friend, decided to “collaborate with a subject, on a subject”, then sent it in to Ebony magazine, who grabbed the story.

Timothy Ivy is back in Mississippi now, “to capture a slower pace of life”. He always wanted to be a documentary photojournalist. Every shot he takes adds to his story. His presentation has become part of my story. I hope to upgrade my camera for telling more of my story, and others’. He’s right… we all have a story. He has a story of success in telling a story with a single photograph. Powerful images. Be sure to check out his portfolio!

Fab Food

Sunday Success: It’s a Muffin Morning!

Before I begin, it’s only fitting to say HOTTY TODDY! Wow, the Ole Miss Rebels won their first THREE football games this 2013 season. It was so exciting to watch them battle the Texans yesterday. The 44-23 win highlighted what I’ve been saying since I saw the recruits Coach Freeze and his staff snagged… we are going to ROCK SEC football this fall. Oh sure, the naysayers thought it would take a while to get the freshmen cohesive as a team. Nope. They’re each the cream of the crop, and this coach knows how to build a team from attitude to talent. Keep watching those Rebels… I’m hoping they surprise everyone (except me) and upset the Crimson Tide in their house on Sept. 28th. If you don’t think that’s possible, you should have heard Coach Freeze leading the team in chanting the contents of Phil 4:13

I woke up extra early to ideal weather for baking – 61 sunshiny degrees – that just blessed my Sunday morning. I already planned to make it a day of reading and baking, so this was perfect timing for perfect weather. Perfect, perfect, perfect. Sometimes, success just works out that way. Everything falls into place effortlessly.

When I’m happy, I cook. When I cook, I feel even more accomplished & by divine design, I feel even happier. A friend of mine noticed that when I’ve had a migraine, and it goes away, I cook. Makes sense. Who isn’t happy when pain is finally gone? Perhaps from this point forward, I will remind myself “This too shall pass” when I have a migraine, and start thinking about what I will surely cook the next day.

This time I wanted to stock up my fridge and freezer with homemade goodies for the week ahead. My goal is “grab & go” foods, since I have several challenges ahead. My fruit bowl had an apple, 3 bananas, and an orange, all needing to be eaten… or used in cooking. Perfect again!

Today’s Grab & Go Plan:

____Boil Eggs for lunches

____Crock Pot of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

____Mini-Quiche: Bacon, Cheese, Minced Eggplant & Tri-Color Peppers


__X__ Cran-Apple Corn Muffins Topped with Roasted Sunflower Kernels

__X__ Glazed Orange Pineapple Muffins with a hint of Coconut

__X__ Blueberry Pineapple Banana  Muffins

____ Boiled Cookies: I like to think of them as Healthy Fudge

The house smelled heavenly once the Orange Pineapple Muffins started baking. Oh my, the taste reminds me of pineapple upside down cake, without the gooey brown sugar. I’ll design a muffin around that flavor next time.

I love baking, then taste testing. I’ve decided the Cran-Apple Muffins needed a heavier hand on the fruit. I love the mix-ins in every bite, don’t you?  Here are the recipes I developed today. I LOVE doing that – personalizing, then sharing. Enjoy!


Cran-Apple Corn Muffins Topped with Roasted Sunflower Kernels

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt                              (replace regular salt with sea salt from now on!)
  • 1 cup  lactose-free milk                 (use whatever kind of milk suits your family best)
  • 6 Tbsp Coconut Oil, melted         (Coconut Oil has SO many healing properties!)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large apples, chopped                (Leave the peels on – the vitamins are right beneath the surface!)
  • 1/2 c. chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dry Roasted Sunflower Kernels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Set muffin papers into muffin pan. In a large bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Mix in sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, and baking powder. Add this dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir well. Mix in the fruit and cinnamon. I like to make sure the cinnamon gets right on the apples.

Spoon mixture into muffin cups 3/4 full. Top with sunflower kernels.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from pan & place on rack to cool. Serve with a little Apple Butter or eat plain. Yum!

Variation: Mix and match raisins, golden raisins, dried cranberries. Also try different kinds of apples! I used Red Delicious, and they were nice & firm. A softer apple will make a more moist muffin.


Glazed Orange Pineapple Muffins with a Hint of Coconut

  • 1 cup milk                                                    (use whatever kind of milk suits your family best)
  • 1 – 4 oz. cup coconut yogurt                       (orange, pineapple, or plain yogurt, or even sour cream will do)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice      (grate the orange peel off first – set aside for glaze!)
  • 1 stick (8 T.) salted butter, melted
  • 8 T. coconut oil, melted                               (Coconut Oil has SO many healing properties!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp sea salt                                                (replace regular salt with sea salt from now on!)
  • 3 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ T. baking powder
  • 1 small can pineapple tidbits, in pineapple juice


  • Zest of 1 orange                                          (gives a punch of flavor & looks beautiful!)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice       (if you forget to set this aside like I did, OJ from the carton will be fine)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Set muffin papers into muffin pan. In a large bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Mix in sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. Add this dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir well. Slice each piece of pineapple into thinner tidbits, so you get pineapple in (nearly) every bite. Mix in the fruit including the juice.

Spoon mixture into muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from pan & place on rack to cool.

While the muffins are in the oven, mix the glaze and set aside.

When the muffins are still warm, but cool enough to handle, dip each one into the glaze & return to the rack. Allow to cool completely, then spoon on a little more glaze. Did I mention theses smell so delicious when baking?  To serve, they don’t need a thing – moist and so tasty. Yum!

How’s your Sunday so far? Hope it has some unexpected happy surprises! And here’s that verse for you: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13

Next up… Blueberry Pineapple Banana  Muffins… stay tuned!