Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is It Dinnertime Yet?

One of the incidental benefits of working with Velma Mitchell is sampling the food that she cooks! Ohhhhhhh man, can she cook! I gain weight every time I'm around her! Recently I posted about the upcoming Velma's Kitchen (That "Locked On" Focus! - July 21st) that is going in the BonTon area of downtown Dallas. It's happening! Slowly, it's becoming a reality!

For years Mike Fechner and Velma have faithfully worked the BonTon neighborhood, loving on the people and sharing the love of Jesus with everyone who would listen - and some who wouldn't! Mike quickly figured out that Velma possesses a gift for cooking. Velma dreamed big of one day having a restaurant where she could not only cook, but entertain the neighborhood. What better way to share Christ than to serve them a great meal and tell them about the bread of Life?!! Mike picked up on that dream and is making it come true. A place where Velma can cook, care, and teach - it just may not get any better than that!

The support has been AWESOME!! Everyone is chipping in: Jim Bell acquired the land; Jeff Williams of Graham and Associates surveyed the property, and promises further help with the engineering; Jim Hillhouse of Alpha Testing did our soils testing; Steve Waddill of Waddill Group, and Stephen Pickard of Good, Fulton, and Farrell kicked  in the architectural work; Richard Chamberlain of Chamberlain's Steakhouse, and Paul Vineyard and family of the Bubba's and Babe's restaurant fame have overseen the menu and kitchen design; Bob Bowen of Manhattan Construction not only is lending his construction expertise, but cost estimating the project as well! ALL PRO BONO!! Countless hours have been spent in the planning and design of Velma's Kitchen. We all want to see it happen. The City Fathers wants to see it happen. It's happening!

Our prediction is that people will come from near and far to sample Velma's cooking. Don't count on them leaving with just a belly full of great food - something tells me that they may also have Jesus Christ in their hip pocket!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

For The Kids!!

In the end it's all about the kids! Our next generation looks to us for care and nurture, but also for fun, entertainment, and sometimes even education! So when our friend Mona Crider approached me about a project for the Dallas Arboretum I was all about it!

The Arboretum has asked Mona to come up with four children's playhouses that represent the lives of four artists, all of whom were active in the Progressive movement, and created outdoor works of art. All four were influenced from their childhood surroundings: Monet lived near a water lily pond; Seurat came from wealth in Paris; Piccaso grew up in Spain near the sea; and Georgia O'Keefe lived out West, eventually settling in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Now, I'm no dummy, so when Mona enlisted my services to build the playhouses, I convinced her that we should go to the real talent here in town to get the playhouses designed - my Architect friends!

Robbie Fusch blessed us with Monet; Paul Turney found Seurat's influence from Parisian architecture; Wilson Fuqua went way out of his very conservative nature in producing Piccaso; and Clint Pearson discovered Georgia O'Keefe's style in Santa Fe adobe. All of the designs are wonderfully unique! All will compliment the gorgeous gardens at the Arboretum!

We plan to have the playhouses finished by mid-February, just ahead of "Dallas Blooms!" Each cottage will have a reproduction of one of the artist's works of art hidden so that the kids can find the painting. Hopefully they will make the connection to the style of architecture that may have influenced the artist's work. All of it will be just plain fun!

It turns out that the Dallas Arboretum wants the children's cottages to function in concert with The Chihuly Glass Exhibit that will be placed in the gardens in May. They are expecting 1 million visitors to see the collection which will be featured throughout the day, and lit at night as well. Here are a few examples of his work.
All of this will be wonderful, but it's time to go to work! You know, the kids are waiting...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Meet Mary Poppins!

"Space, the Final Frontier!" Was that Dr. Spock of Star Trek fame that said that? Or were they referring to the housing market's trend towards "downsizing?" Regardless, with property taxes going up; energy costs skyrocketing; and 'the new conservatism' suggesting something other than massive square footage, people are becoming sensitive about doing more with less. Suddenly, for the first time in thirty-two years in business, people are asking for help in getting their homes organized. 

Enter Karyn Dismore of Design Concepts of Frisco, Texas. I call her "Mary Poppins" because with a tap of the umbrella, and a snap of her fingers, things just seem to find their place in your home. Her credo is "everything has it's place, and a place for everything!" A native of Zimbabwe, she even has that wonderful Mary Poppins accent! Clients love her for a lot of reasons, but her Mary Poppins bag of tricks continues to spew forth wonderful solutions for all of a home's dysfunction. Have I said that she is absolutely delightful while solving your problems?

Karyn and her husband Grant have become dear friends of ours. In fact, Molly and I are even the "grandparents" that their folks cannot be because they live so far away. No way can we possibly take the place of their real grandparents, but maybe we can be helpful when the girls have activities that require that certain elderly hug.  We love their girls! 

Several years ago when a client complained about how disorganized her house was (with four kids - ahhhhhh, no wonder!), I suggested that they talk with Karyn. Five years later she's still there, now working with the kids to try to keep things in their place! I'm telling you, she's good - really good.....

With the imminent arrival of several client's plans that are scheduled to come off the drawing board, we are at a perfect place to design in all the "tricks" that will ultimately produce wonderful storage. In a downsized home every square inch becomes important for maximizing storage and organization! Watching Karyn in a meeting last week reminded me of how important planning ahead really is. Undoubtedly several trips to two of her favorite haunts, The Container Store, and Ikea are in her immediate future!

When George Banks asked Mary Poppins how long she would be staying she replied "I shall stay until the wind changes." Well, that's substantially different than Karyn - she stays until the job is done! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

All Hat, No Cattle!!

You've seen this guy before - you know... big, bold, and blustery with a sales pitch that rivals TV's best pitchman. But Mr. Pitchman couldn't back up his hype if his life depended on it!! Sadly we see this personality way too often in society - "all hat, and no cattle!"

I knew a guy like that once, he used to work for me. Everything always sounded so perfect. 'Did you do this, and take care of that?' "SURE, NO PROBLEM!" Wrong - -  problem.... First time he went on vacation I discovered that nothing was done as it should have been! Worse, all of the trades responsible for that work were scurrying around trying to cover his tail because he wasn't taking care of stuff in a timely, and orderly fashion. DISASTER! Sure did cost me a lot to clean up his mess!

When I seek truth, I always run to the Bible. Plainly, it says "Say only yes if you mean yes, and no if you mean no. If you say more that yes or not, it is from the Evil One." (Matthew 5:37) Charge me guilty for my lack of discernment!

But we all get suckered occasionally. Sometimes the pitchman is sooooo smooth and persuasive that we take it hook, line, and sinker. Kind of like the "Evil One" referred to in the Bible verse above. My business partner, Phillip McCloud is amazingly plainspoken - doesn't say much, but when he does his "yes is yes, and his no, no." And everyone really relates to his character! There's no guessing as to what he means or wants. Believe me, it's right up front, what you see is what you get!

Everyone started out in basically the same place. Innocent, without pretense, plainly asking and telling with a childlike faith. Where did we stray?