Who I Met Today

Everyone has a story – Collecting & sharing interesting info, life lessons, & fun things to see & do from the wonderful people in our world

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Erin Donnelly – What Exactly is Kombucha?

Strolling into the Rayback Collective on a bright, sunny morning, I spot an eclectic array of food trucks, bikers sipping coffee around a fire pit, folks clicking laptops at community work tables, and a vegan ice cream cart.  Combined with a lounge, live music, and an adjacent multi-use trail, this place may be too cool for me…..

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Brittany Fuson – Fashion Illustrator

Crazy about pretty clothes, great shoes, and lists of all sorts, I fell in love with Brittany Fuson and her long-legged girls. Dressed in fabulous dresses and carrying the latest  handbags, her blondes and brunettes and redheads sport everything I ever hope to find hanging in my dream closet. As she finished up her Apparel Design degree at the University of Alabama back in 2009, Brittany wanted to give each

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Matt Russo and The Gambling Stick BBQ Trailer

According to Matt Russo, “a gambling stick is an old Appalachian name for a stick used to hang a pig from the limb of a tree. Threaded through the heels of the pig, the stick supports its weight while the animal is harvested.”  The gamble, and hope, is the stick can handle the pig’s weight, and the animal will not come tumbling down. In a parking lot in trendy East

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Meet Dustin Williams – Violin Maker

As we wander through the charming, historic Music Row building with the rickety staircases and old-world architecture, Dustin Williams proudly explains, “Everything we have here we fully expect to last 200 years.” The older they get, the more valuable. The more they are played, the better they sound.  “We are lucky to be the caretakers of these beautiful instruments.”

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Introducing Patty Russell and Her Groom’s Cakes

As we chatted with the baker at an upscale Italian bakery in a trendy section of Brooklyn, my son and I explained what we wanted. The gentleman, who had been baking panettone and cannoli and biscotti in this neighborhood long before it turned hip and cool, looked at us with a slight amount of distaste— and a whole lot of surprise. “You want two cakes at this wedding?” he said.

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Jim Laurent and His Brahman Cattle

Jim Laurent relaxes with a book in the straw-filled “home” he and his wife share in the cavernous exhibit hall. Their area is tidy and swept, and a crockpot of chili simmers on a cloth-covered portable table. The background noise is a constant and comfortable lull—the bellow of goats, pigs, and cows. One of the largest and wealthiest rodeos in the world, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo runs for

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Chris Pence – What Does a Sound Engineer Do?

Since moving to Nashville, I spend more time listening to live music in a variety of venues around town. After all, this is Music City.  Aside from raw talent and lots of practice, I never think about what else makes for an outstanding show.  According to Chris Pence, a sound engineer with country and pop bands, “When everything at a show sounds great, the artist is wonderful!  But when things

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Barbara Heilman and UnbuckleMe

Eager to care for her brand new granddaughter, Barbara Heilman’s first order of business was to shop for a car seat.  She couldn’t operate the model her daughter, Becca Davison, owned, and she wanted something easy to use.  However, when Barb and Becca returned from their shopping trip, Barb was frustrated and slightly panicked.  She didn’t have the strength to unbuckle any of the car seats in the stores.  When

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Brian O’Connor – Good Dye Young and a Farm with a Purpose

Thirteen years ago, Hayley William’s hair stylist was out on leave, and Brian O’Connor was her next available option. Making small talk as she sat in his chair, Brian asked Hayley the basic questions about what she was doing and where she was working. Laughing now, as he recalls their initial conversation, Brian said he secretly rolled his eyes when Hayley told him she wrote and sang songs.  Of course

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Xima Lee Hulings and Walking Papers Studio

Showing me around her meticulously organized and overflowing art studio, I have a hard time keeping up with Xima Lee Hulings.  Amidst pens and paints and textiles and even a blow torch, she talks about her life and paintings and projects in her rapid-fire, exuberant way.  Inspiring and educational, she motivates me to make a mess and create something.  Because, as Xima laughs out loud and says, “Life is an

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Meet Mary Hance – The Tennessean’s Ms. Cheap

I have talked about my mid-life move to Nashville—no friends or family here,  kids grown and gone. Arriving in town, I read everything I could get my hands on about happenings in our new city. I searched for ways to meet people and create a sense of belonging. Now it is two years later. Mary Hance agrees to meet with me, and I feel like I already know her. Unbeknownst to Mary, she was

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A Ride Along With Officer Allen Cantrell

The sergeant-in-command directs me to the room where roll call is about to start. Reminiscent of police tv shows, the two sergeants discuss the priorities for the day to the 30 or so police officers gathered. A murder suspect was apprehended overnight, so locating him is no longer a high priority item for these day shift officers. As I sit at my table and look around at the quiet and

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Tim Halperin – Songwriter, Vocalist

If at first you don’t succeed…His first American Idol tryout was a bust. A few years later, Tim Halperin borrowed a buddy’s laptop, pulled up a seat, and sang a cappella for a webcam audition. This time around, he ended up in Los Angeles on a wild, musical ride. As we discuss Tim’s  2011 American Idol adventure, his strong faith is evident. A finalist during season 10,  Tim believes he

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Charles Curtis – Creating Masks For Movies and Collectors

As I meet with people, I continue to hear the same message over and over.  To expand personally, we must seek challenges and bring novelty into our lives. Making an effort to learn and do new things enriches our world and creates excitement.   Always willing to explore new territory, Charles Curtis stumbled upon an engaging and lucrative career because he gave something different a try.  About 50 years ago,

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Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project – Denver, CO

I became of age in a Heineken, Budweiser, Michelob world – and Coors, brewed with “Rocky Mountain spring water,” was something a little more special.  Admittedly, ordering a beer used to be a simple task.  Nowadays, deciphering choices in the craft beer world can be complicated and overwhelming.  Lager, ale, IPA, hops, barley, amber, abv, malt, mash – I just want something I actually like to drink.  In a city

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Alex Snodgrass and The Defined Dish

We sit in her backyard on this lovely, balmy September day in Dallas, Texas.  As I eagerly devour her beautifully presented creation that is my lunch, we talk about how much The Defined Dish has grown since it began, basically, at the start of this year. Alex Snodgrass is the perfect example of finding what you love to do and turning it into a livelihood. With a huge smile, she

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Katie Talbot – Voice and Performance Coach

I am trying to imagine this striking young woman hiding inside a Jimmy the Gourd costume.  As a cast member of Veggie Tales, the animated show offering kind and helpful lessons to children, Katie Talbot pulled on a large orange suit with a backpack connected to it.  Depressing a button on the backpack, the suit expanded many times, much like a hoop skirt.   While singing and dancing to the

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Gianni Raffaelli – An Artisan in Florence

Daily dose of gelato in hand, I meander through the back alleys and narrow streets of Florence’s Oltrarno quarter.  A few blocks from the Arno River, away from tourists and crowds,  lies a quiet neighborhood of Florentine artists.   Peering into the artisan workshops and studios, you discover a rich part of Florence’s culture and history.  Bookbinders, silversmiths, paper marblers, sculptors, marble craftsmen, perfume makers, potters, shoemakers, metal workers.  Some of these craftspersons apprenticed under a master or studied with an instructor.    Many are members of artisan families,  and the skills and practices were handed down through the generations.

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Passion for Golf + Business Savvy = Apparel Collection

“You have no chance of scoring if you don’t take the shot.”  Operating on the premise that you have to start somewhere, Victoria Kopyar almost seems to welcome mistakes and problems.  Known as someone who relishes the chance to reimagine or reinvent, Victoria “jumped in with both hands and feet” to improve the look of her golf game. Growing up in Ohio, Victoria loved pretty clothes and couldn’t always afford

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