Millennials Forge Unique Path

Who are Milennials and what sets them apart from other American generations?  Millenials are the generation of Americans that are currently 18 to 33 years old.  According to the Pew Research Center, this generation is forging a unique path that sets them apart from older Americans.  The Pew survey of Millennials highlights some of those differences:

  • Millennials are less attached to traditional political and religious institutions than other generations.  This group of young adults is part of the first generation of “digital natives,” that grew up using online and social technologies rather than adapting to them.  Consequently this generation is more connected to their social networks and digital media than they are to traditional political and religious institutions.  In fact, 29% of them report no affinity to any religion and half describe themselves as political independents.
  • As one of the most highly-educated segments of our population, Millennials are also more burdened by financial debt.  This group of young adults has more student loan debt, unemployment or underemployment and poverty than the generations ahead of them.  Interestingly, though, Millennials report that they’re confident in their financial future and have enough money to live as they hope.Millennials_Marriage graphic
  • Only 25% of Millennials are married.  This is a sharp reduction compared to previous generations.  At this age 36% of GenXers, 48% of Baby Boomers and 69% of the Silent Generation were married.  Millennials report their desire to marry (69% of the unmarried) but many report they lack a solid economic foundation to be married.
  • The most racially diverse generation in American history probably contributes to their political liberalism.  Nearly 43% of Millennial adults are non-white.  They’re the children of the large number of Hispanic and Asian immigrants the US has seen in the past 50 years.
  • Interestingly, Millennials report lower levels of trust than their older counterparts.  Only 19% say that most people can be trusted.  In contrast, 31% of GenXers and 40% of Boomers report that most people can be trusted.
  • Despite their higher debt load and lower financial security, most Millennials (51%) believe Social Security benefits will not be available when they reach retirement.  Only 39% think they’ll get reduced benefits.  Interestingly, though, they don’t believe benefit cuts are a way to address funding issues of the Social Security system.

 

Long Knives – Kindle Book Review

Long Knives

(Look Inside link isn’t live)

Long Knives by Charles Rosenberg was a free Kindle book in February 2014.  After spending the last three months trying to finish Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, I really looked forward to a simple-to-read nail-biting murder mystery.  My expectations were not fulfilled, sad to say.

The book, described as a legal thriller, introduces the reader to Jenna James, a former high-powered attorney at a prestigious law firm that has transitioned into a professor at UCLA on a tenure track.  Her seemingly smooth life suddenly screeches to a halt when a student seeks her advice about a treasure map and dies after taking ill in Professor James’ office.  It doesn’t take long for suspicious eyes to turn on Jenna.  Luckily, she can call on two old friends from her law firm days.  They work together in a race to save Jenna’s career amid a web of intrigue involving treasure maps, murder and university politics.

The story itself was full of twists and turns.  The list of suspects ebbed and flowed.  At times Jenna thought herself crazy and her attorneys themselves willingly went to great lengths to investigate the mystery.  Some of the characters were developed well and were easy to picture in my head.  Descriptions of their habits and attitudes as well as their physical characteristics were easily imagined. One character is even described as “the pineapple.”  How’s that for a description?

The story developed quite slowly and seemed to drag on. I found the dialogue stilted and unnatural.  It felt like the author tried to include a lot of legal lingo in order to make the story sound like it was really happening in a law school; and we all know that legal mumbo jumbo typically slows everything down.

I also was a little disappointed in the main character.  An experienced attorney with criminal experience changed into a typical, non-legal person and made the same mistakes and decisions I would make in her situation.  I’d hope for better from my main character!

Writing a novel in first-person voice is always tricky and I found it a little confusing at times – particularly when the “voice” changed from Jenna to one of her attorneys.  It was difficult to follow the change from chapter to chapter.

I did enjoy some of the twists and turns in the case and as with most thrillers, the puzzle solution was entertaining.

Despite its slow development and excess of legalese, I finished the novel and didn’t totally hate it.  I also didn’t love it.  I just wouldn’t recommend spending money on it and am glad it was a free Kindle book.

 

Scrappy Quilt Project 2014

430ccb2a-5bec-46e1-9e40-453329b1d729I meet monthly with several of my quilting buddies to quilt, catch up on family stories, share quilting tips and tricks and eat a yummy lunch.  We rotate where we meet and what we work on ranges from hand stitching to machine piecing to quilting or any other task that each of us brings.  Periodically we work together on a project — either as a gift for someone or a shared project that results in enough blocks for us to each finish a quilt.  This year our group is cleaning out our scraps.  The project will give us each enough 12-inch blocks to put together a quilt with everyone’s different fabrics – a truly scrappy quilt.

Here are the “rules”:

  1. Each quilter will make three (3) blocks for every gathering
  2. Finished block size will be 12.5 inches by 12.5 inches with seams (12X12 finished)
  3. Use scrap fabrics – no “matchy match” allowed

At each gathering we will decide who is responsible for selecting the next block pattern.  That person will bring a completed block to show, along with simple sewing instructions, to the next gathering.

For the exchange:

  • At each gathering everyone will bring their three (3) completed blocks.*
  • The blocks will be placed in a bag and shaken up.
  • The bag will be passed around and each person will choose three (3) blocks to keep for your quilt

*If you cannot make it to the gathering, please drop your blocks off in advance to be swapped with the others.

Directions for Block #1 :

16-Patch Block #2 c12b3650-51db-4dca-97ff-b5f59b961bed 16-Patch Block #1

  1. Cut 16 squares 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches
  2. Sew together into four rows of four squares each

Check back each month to see each month’s pattern and create your own Scrappy Quilt!

Fun & Cost Effective Way to Experience Performing Arts Center

Sweet Hubby and I made our third trip to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts last night.  We enjoyed an hour-long organ recital by Peter Richard Conte in celebration of the 329th birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach.  The recital was presented by the Kansas City Symphony and performed in Helzberg Hall, an amazing venue where musical instruments can fully “sing.”

Prior to climbing up to the perch of the organ bench, Conte spoke to the audience and introduced the pieces on his program.  Some compositions were originally written for the organ by Bach, one was a piece that Bach transcribed to the organ and others were Bach works transcribed to the organ.  Four pieces were also included that weren’t specific to Bach – music by Mozart, Louis Vierne and Robert Elmore.

Conte explained transcription as the process where composers/organists convert a piece written for symphony to a composition that’s performed solely on a pipe organ.  Interestingly enough, we could truly hear the various symphonic instruments within the organ music of the transcriptions.  Fascinating!

Organ Recital Pic2

The organ position in Helzberg Hall is high above the audience with the organist’s back to the audience.  Conte actually described the seat as “somewhat terrifying,” so he let us know up front that he wouldn’t stand and acknowledge applause after every piece.  Our seats in the Parterre, directly behind the Orchestra seats were ideal – high enough to see the organ without neck strain and close enough to see the intricate footwork Conte performed on the pedals.

The expansive Casavant Organ with its four keyboards, foot pedals, 79 Stops, 102 Ranks and 5,548 Pipes alternately produced the fairy-like whimsical sounds W. A. Mozart composed for mechanical clocks in contrast to the majestic but dark Lenten tones in Bach’s “O Lamm Gottes unschuldig, BWV 656” depicting the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Conte ended the program with a transcription by Charles Marie Widor of Bach’s “Memento, Pastorale, BWV 590 and Mattheus-Final, BWV 244” filling the hall with large, dark tones depicting St. Matthew’s passion narrative.  It was a dynamic and dramatic conclusion to an interesting experience and my first organ recital.

We found the recital an entertaining and cost effective way to experience Helzberg Hall.  Tickets for the organ recitals are reasonably priced and the concert allowed us to fully experience the hall’s finer points.  That being said, we were also pleased the concert was relatively short, because even though the music was great, listening to only a single instrument for a full hour was sufficient.

According to the program, Conte is the Grand Court Organist of the Wanamaker Organ in Macy’s, Center City in Philadelphia.  He was appointed the position in 1989 and is only the fourth person to hold the title since 1911 when the organ was first played.  Conte performs extensively, has numerous recordings on several labels and is known for his transcriptions and improvisation.

The next organ recital presented by the symphony is slated for May 1 and will feature Nathan Laube.  I definitely recommend this series as a great way to enjoy good music and experience the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.   It’s truly a Kansas City treasure.

Smothered Chicken – Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

It’s after 4 p.m. and you haven’t got a clue what to fix for dinner.  But you did thaw out chicken breasts.  What to do?

Here’s my “Go To” chicken recipe.  It’s always yummy and welcome.  I got the recipe from the Metabolic Research Center when I went through their program for weight loss.  This dish definitely does NOT taste like a diet meal.

Smothered Chicken

  • 3  3-ounce chicken breasts
  • 10 ounces mushrooms
  • 2 ounces chopped green onion
  • 3 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • To taste:  garlic powder, sea salt, pepper

Either butterfly chicken breasts or cut in half lengthwise.  Pound the chicken flat and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Brown chicken in oil for 4 minutes.  Turn chicken and top with green onions and mushrooms.  Cover and cook until juices run clear.  Top with cheese and cover again until the cheese is melted – approximately 2-3 more minutes.  Servings: 3

Here’s what the skillet looked like last night when it was ready to serve: Smothered Chicken in SkilletAdd a fresh salad with lots of yummy ingredients and you’ve got a healthy, light yet filling dinner.  Enjoy!

Smothered Chicken and a fresh salad - yummy!

Smothered Chicken and a fresh salad – yummy!

They had me at “How are you?”

Getting and creating loyal customers today can be a challenge.  After all, customers can compare prices on the Internet.  They can use mobile phones and tablets to find locations on the road.  Heck, potential customers can buy whatever they want on the Web and never step through a local store’s door.

So what’s a business owner to do?

According to a couple of successful business owners I spoke to recently, it boils down to customer service and a friendly smile.

“I require that every customer be greeted within 2 minutes of entering my store,” said one.

“Customer service is what sets me apart,” said the other.  “Making it right for my customers is cheaper in the long run that allowing them to be unhappy.  I don’t care what it takes to make it right and keep them happy.”

Obviously these two entrepreneurs understand it’s more cost effective to keep a customer than to attract new customers.  Loyal, returning customers are also the keys to sustaining and growing your business.  In fact, loyal customers tend to be less price-sensitive and will promote your business to their friends, family – and even complete strangers!

The question then becomes, how do I create and keep those repeat (dare I say loyal) customers?  Here are a few tips that apply to all businesses – online and brick and mortar:

  1. Anticipate your customers’ needs and meet them before they even ask.
    • This is easier than it sounds.  Simply take a short walk in your client’s shoes through the entire customer experience.  Experience the process as a first-time customer would.  What needs aren’t being met?  As a new customer what questions do you have?  How can the staff make the experience better?
  2. Know your customers.
    • Recognize and acknowledge the regulars and their preferences.  Coupled with your attentive staff, customers will feel welcome and “at home” and want to come back.
  3. Say hello and goodbye – with zeal.
    • Studies show that we remember the first and last minutes of a service encounter best.  Since that’s what your customers will remember most, use it!
  4. Be yourself.  Let your company’s personality shine.
    • Encourage your staff to be themselves and share their uniqueness with customers.  Have fun with your team and your customers!

 

 

 

 

Hello world! Mary Pace here…

My name is Mary Pace.  Who am I you ask?  The quick easy answer is that I’m a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend.  But I’m also a marketer, a strategist, and advertiser and a writer.  I’ve always loved to write.  At least I THINK I love to write.

So what better way to test out my love of writing, than to explore its possibilities while I travel to the land of “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  Yes, I’m working to discover my next career and  I love to write – or think I do (yes, I know we’ve covered that already).

Have you heard about killing two birds (or three) with one stone?  That’s my plan.

Here it is:

1. Search for my next career – job- adventure in marketing or advertising

2. Write regularly on my blog about a variety of topics

What will I end up with?  My fingers are crossed for a career for which I can be passionate that involves writing in some fashion due to the witty, insightful posts you’ll see here.  Now wouldn’t that be wonderful?

You’re probably wondering what you’ll see on my site.  To some degree, I’m wondering too, but here are the planned pages:

  1. Finding a dream job
  2. Recipes
  3. Restaurant/Movie/Book Reviews
  4. Marketing commentary
  5. Craft ideas and projects
  6. Oddball stuff that just happens

Does any of that sound interesting to you?  If so, please check back often to see new posts. If those topics aren’t of interest, drop me a note with suggestions.  I’m open to ideas!

Thank you for walking with me all the way to “What do you want to be when you grow up” land.