Behind the Scenes of Promo Shoot

April 16, 2012 - Leave a Response

Every once in a while we spend a good chunk of the day on an Action News promo shoot.  And today’s shoot was full of ACTION!  We were excited to bring in a special crew with special lights and even a makeup artist to get it all done.  While all of the promo madness had overtaken the newsroom, I snapped a few photos to give you an idea of how it went.

First, we have an amazing makeup artist that you have to meet! This is Cheryl Haus and she’s fabulous.  F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!  I wish she could join us every morning to help hide how tired we are since our show starts at 4:30AM! Not only is Cheryl a master of transformation,  she is the sweetest and most genuine person you’ll find.  Click here to check out her website. I just adore her!  Here she is touching up Kelly’s makeup before the cameras started rolling.

Here is the view I had of director Mark Fallone and crew as I was preparing for my part. There are dozens of extra people in the newsroom for this whole thing….. and the entire time producers, photographers, editors and assignment managers are rushing around trying to prepare for the real news that’s happening!   But this time, all of the people normally behind the camera had to be in front of the camera.  I’m so glad you’ll get to see some of the wonderful and hard-working people that do a great job every day at WTAE!

Here is 5:00PM producer Tom West getting a little powder on his face while he’s actually trying to work!  A huge thank you to all of my coworkers who were real troopers getting through all of this!

You can imagine all of the extra equipment and cords all over the place which made navigating through the newsroom a real challenge. I was so worried that I was going to wipeout while trying to walk and talk while I was on camera since I couldn’t look down. Fortunately, that didn’t happen today but we have to do all of this again tomorrow so hopefully I won’t embarrass myself tomorrow because if I do– the cameras will be rolling to capture it all! 

Mom’s Easter Quiche

April 6, 2012 - Leave a Response

This is my Mom’s Easter Quiche. I can’t wait. She made a sample to tease us.  I thought if any of you were looking for a special treat to celebrate this special holiday you might want to try this. I love it! Enjoy!

1 pie crust

1 pound sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch slices

1¼ pounds Gruyere cheese, chopped into 1-inch cubes

1 cup milk

5 extra-large eggs

Freshly grated nutmeg

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Fry bacon in a skillet until well-cooked. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Discard fat and set bacon aside.

Cover bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Roll out pastry to a basically round shape and place in the pan, making sure it fits snuggly. The pastry should go a couple of inches up the sides of the pan, but there’s no need to make sure it’s uniform or goes all the way up.

Place half the bacon in the bottom of the pan, followed by half the cheese. Repeat layers. In a medium bowl, mix the milk and eggs until well-combined. Pour the mixture slowly over the bacon and cheese so all the nooks and crannies are filled and the liquid covers the entire quiche. Grate some fresh nutmeg on top to taste.

Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and allow quiche to cook for an additional 35 minutes. The quiche should be golden-brown on top and firm when gently shaken. If it isn’t, cook for an additional 5 minutes or until it is firm.

Remove the quiche and place on a rack to cool for 45 minutes before serving.

The Girl Who Couldn’t Eat

March 14, 2012 - Leave a Response

This story will melt your heart. A precious little girl whose medical condition prevented her from eating became a chef while she was waiting for a transplant.  Now she’s finally able to taste all of the wonderful gourmet food she’s been preparing for so long. To watch my full report click here. 

Matisse Reid was born with a medical condition called intestinal pseudo-obstruction that left her unable to eat. Real food was extremely painful and it was also life threatening so from birth, she had to be fed through an I-V.

Born in New Zealand, doctors told her mother her newborn would not live. “We were told to take her home to die when she was three months old .” Jodee Reid told me.  But she and her family didn’t give up.  They came to Pittsburgh hoping for a miracle.

And so their  journey began.  Five and a half years ago it brought them to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. It was only here, half a world away from everything they knew, that Matisse had a chance.

Dr George Mazariegos is the director of pediatric transplantation at Children’s.  He told me, “We’re thrilled that she was able to come here. We believe we have the best care worldwide for transplant. The intestinal transplant was developed here in Pittsburgh.”

In her fight for life, patiently waiting for an large and small intestine transplant, Matisse began a somewhat ironic hobby. Even though she couldn’t eat anything, she became a chef. And she was passionate.  She started a blog called Matisse’s Kitchen with recipes and photos and videos.  Satisfying tastebuds around the world, except her own.

Then the donated organs arrived on December 7, 2010. It was time to see if the surgery would save her life.

Not only did it save her, Matisse is thriving. And even better, she’s eating.

For the first time, Matisse was able to taste the gourmet food she’d been cooking for so many years.  She invited me over to her house to prepare a gourmet lunch for me. I stood with her in the kitchen as she expertly prepared cream sauce with mussels over pasta.

She told me she’s always known food was going to be “her thing” even though she couldn’t eat for so long.

Dr George Mazariegos said she’s an energetic inspiration, “I think her story will dramatically inspire people and children and families around the world. It inspires us daily.” he said.

She is now being weaned off medicine and is doing very well.  She’s also a contributing writer for Cooking Light Magazine in the kids’ section and stays busy testing and developing new recipes.

As she served up our lunch she tried to put into words how she felt. “You look at it and it looks really good but when you taste it, it tastes better. It tastes really good because you can.”  She took a deep breath and smiled then shoved a giant mouthful of what she’d been denied for so long.

Matisse enjoys life and food one big heaping spoonful at a time.

Local Teens: Chance to win $10,000!

February 24, 2012 - Leave a Response

Local teens listen up: You have a chance to win as much as $10,000!  The big contest kicks off this weekend in Pittsburgh for all area middle and high school students.  It’s called Take a Shot at Changing the World and you may have heard us talking about it on the morning news. You just need to make a short video about making a difference.

Steeltown Entertainment Project, a Pittsburgh nonprofit,  is heading up the contest and organizers stopped by WTAE to explain how it works.  Last year’s winner Tyler Anderson produced a short movie on the polio vaccine.  Anderson is now a senior at Mt Lebanon High School told me it was amazing to win the money and even more amazing to be featured on Bill Gates’ website!

I also chatted with Steeltown Co-Founder Carl Kurlander.  He said this contest is a chance for kids to use their creativity and it doesn’t have to be long, just five minutes or less. In fact, he said it’s not just for teens who are interested in making movies…. it’s for anyone who wants to make a difference!  The deadline to enter is April 30th.

Steeltown is hosting a big kickoff on Sunday in conjunction with Oscar night to go over how it all works and show you some examples of what to do.  It’s at 1:30 at the Heinz History Center.

Kurlander is an amazing talent and been instrumental in getting Hollywood interested in coming to Pittsburgh. He’s known for writing the movie St Elmo’s Fire as well as the TV show Saved By the Bell.  He has also recently released his new documentary My Tale of Two Cities. It is amazing and I highly recommend it!  He’ll be showing it at Sunday’s event.

For more information on the contest click here to get to Steeltown’s website.

Lessons From Whitney Houston’s Death

February 16, 2012 - Leave a Response

Over the years, there have been many stories which have been difficult for me to read on the news.  From horrific local crimes to international wars, when I go over my scripts in the morning I often wonder how I’ll make it through the stories without getting emotional.

Reading about the death of 48 year old singer Whitney Houston is one of those stories. It’s surreal for me.  Growing up, I had many of her CDs.  She had the voice and the face of an angel.  She had everything.  Even when we saw a glimpse of the impact of her drug use  I believed she would pull herself out of that struggle. Those around her would certainly help her. After all, she was Whitney Houston and there would be a much-celebrated comeback in her future.  But that was not to be. Instead, I’m reading details of her funeral arrangements. Drugs are addictive, destructive, and deadly.  They ruin the lives of everyday people as well as the famous and powerful.

Whitney Houston’s funeral Saturday will be “invitation only.”  1,500 people are expected to gather in Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston sang at as a girl. But the services are also expected to be broadcast online and on TV. There is a local memorial planned for Whitney Houston. The East Liberty branch of Coston Funeral Homes will celebrate her life Friday at 7PM & reservations are required.

Dr Nancy Mramor is a local psychologist who specializes in how the media impacts all of us.  I asked her to share her thoughts on Whitney Houston and what lessons we might take away from her life and her death.

“Whitney Houston was a diva, a talent, a woman of spirit, whose beginnings were in gospel music.  Her good fortune to land the role of The Preacher’s Wife, put her in charge of a church choir. But her good fortune didn’t end there;  she had  an attentive Denzel Washington nearby in the part of an angel! Her roots were strong as she weathered the strong winds of fame. She was a role model for so many women; she believed in herself and she pursued her dreams And this is how we remember her.  

But her death is a strong reminder that we must recognize our own weaknesses, our own stones in our path that could take that path away.  Unless we recognize, love and accept all of ourselves, then we are likely to caught in our weaknesses and lose sight of our goals.”
Dr Nancy Mramor has been a media expert for more than 25 years.  She is a licensed clinical, media and health psychologist and specializes in in radio, TV, technology and print as they impact the consumer and health issues.  She has written the award-winning book, Spiritual Fitness. 
Click here to learn more about Dr Mramor.

Recent Local Fires & A Plan of Action

February 15, 2012 - Leave a Response

The recent fires in our area have been devastating.  As we watched Sarris Candies burn, our hearts melted along with all of the chocolates inside.  The iconic symbol of sweetness in Canonsburg was badly damaged.  A packaging area was destroyed and the public candy store and ice cream parlor is gone. It was still such a shock to see the place so many of us have visited billowing with smoke early in the morning.  200 people work at the specialty chocolate and candies company, which has been family-owned and operated for more than 50 years.  The best news is that no one was hurt and they will rebuild the damaged sections.

Then another community icon burned.  In North Versailles the Winchester Room, a landmark restaurant known for its steaks, caught fire and the flames gutted the restaurant on Lincoln Highway (Route 30) toward the end of lunchtime.  Thankfully no one was hurt but it was difficult not to get emotional as the owners tearfully talked to our news cameras as they watched the flames reduce their business to rubble.

“It’s my livelihood. It’s our business. Every day, we work for this. This is what we do for a living, this is our income,” owner Renee Salmon said. They have insurance and plan to rebuild as soon as possible.

Days later, the beautiful Nemacolin ski lodge caught fire as its Winterfest weekend was wrapping up. My kids and I were there that very morning enjoying the magnificent ice sculptures and the ice bar. We also had a great time tubing, too.   Here are some photos I took as snow fell all around us making it feel like a true winter wonderland. Ice carvers dazzled us with their frozen artwork. There was even an ice bar and tables for people to enjoy.  Nemacolin knows how to throw a party.

But just eight hours after we left, an employee spotted a fire and the grand wooden building was gone in a flash.  Firefighters arrived and said it was a losing battle from the start.  Fortunately, no one was hurt and none of the valuable art collection in the nearby hotel was damaged. My children and I were stunned when we saw the video! The ice sculptures were still there while the lodge behind it burned out of control.

In all three cases, investigators are still trying to determine the cause but everyone is thankful no one was hurt.

The losses of those community favorites don’t compare to the loss we have seen in recent house fires. The loss of life.  In Lawrence County, 41 year old Vaughnie-Sue Schwartz died along with her three dogs in Little Beaver Township.  In Fayette County,   78-year-old Arlene Ellsworth died when her house caught fire in Georges Township.  She was on her back porch close to safety after her kitchen caught fire while she was cooking but her family says she was afraid to jump.

In Pittsburgh’s friendship neighborhood, investigators believe a 6-year-old boy may have sparked a fire that killed two people.  The four-alarm fire started in the middle of the night inside a house that had been converted into apartments where seven people lived on South Graham Street.  Police said the boy lit something on fire in a second-floor apartment and threw it behind a couch, sparking the flames. A couple living in the third floor apartment couldn’t make it out.

My father recently asked me if I had smoke detectors. I do. On every level.  But then he asked if I had a strategy for getting out if my stairs were on fire.  I did not.  If the only way out of my home was burning I don’t know what I’d do.  That very day I ordered fire ladders for every bedroom.  We’ve gone over how to attach them to windows and let them drop down to climb out.  Hopefully, I will never have to use them.  Hopefully, they’ll stay in the closets and collect dust.  But I know I haven’t wasted my money because I’ll be able to sleep a little better just knowing they’re there.

It’s always hard to deliver bad news on television.  But it’s important everyone listen to know how to better protect themselves and their families. While the businesses have lost so much, they can rebuild. Sadly, for many families they cannot bring back what was lost. I hope that when we report on news of fires, viewers make a plan in their own homes on what to do in case there is an emergency in their homes.

Following the Impossible Dream

February 10, 2012 - Leave a Response

I first met Shutzy Reynolds two years ago.  I interviewed her for a Memorial Day story and she had a tremendous impact on my life.  I cherish the meaning behind the silver wings she gave me to inspire my daughter, Ally. So when I was asked by Gladys Magazine to write an article for them about an inspirational woman I knew exactly on whom I was going to focus. So here is some inspirational reading for this snowy weekend. Enjoy!

Following the Impossible Dream

for Gladys Magazine

by: Michelle Wright

Her legacy is woven of dreams and determination and Florence Shutsy-Reynolds continues inspiring women everywhere.

“Anything is possible if you just fight for it. If it’s the right thing to do and you have a dream, go for it.  I dreamed of flying.  My dream expanded far beyond what I initially thought and women today can do the same thing.” she said with the sparkle of perseverance still bright in her eyes.

“Shutsy”, as she’s called (pronounced Shoot-see),  knows something about turning an impossible dream into a reality.  She’s about to celebrate her 88th birthday, but when I ask her about her dream of flying, a lifetime of memories come flooding back.

“To fly those beautiful airplanes? Heavens!  That was a dream. That was a dream that was beyond my wildest expectations. That’s enough to make your heart soar.”  Shutsy said with a deep breath.

Shutsy sat down with Gladys Magazine in her humble Connellsville, Pennsylvania home to share her amazing story of courage and perseverance.  It wasn’t easy. The government hid her WWII service to her country, people accused her of lying about flying for the military- that’s something women didn’t do- and she often felt like a second-class citizen. But she kept her dreams alive and her head held high and a lifetime later Congress finally acknowledged her service and presented her with the Congressional Gold Medal.

But to appreciate Shutsy’s story you need to start at the beginning, so we chatted at the very same kitchen table where it all began.  That’s where she was sitting when she told her family at age 7 that she was going to be a pilot. Her sister and two brothers laughed at her dream, but she says her parents were very supportive, adding that’s probably because they realized it was impossible.  It was 1929 and there were two insurmountable problems standing in her way. First, flying was very expensive and Shutsy’s family didn’t have much money.  But the real obstacle was because she was a woman and piloting a plane just wasn’t something women did.

But Shutsy was determined not to let those two things hold her back.  Just after high school graduation she heard about the government-sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program at the Connellsville Airport.  She enrolled and earned the second highest exam score which earned her a full scholarship.  That’s when her first bit of turbulence began for being a woman.  Some program administrators wanted to take away her scholarship and instead give it to a man because the need was growing to prepare combat pilots for an impending war … but Shutsy fought back. She kept writing letters demanding she get what she earned until she finally secured her spot.

“It made me feel like a second class citizen. But my parents didn’t raise me to be a second class citizen. They raised me to be a fighter. So I fought for it! ” She said.

Shutsy was awarded her pilots license in 1941. Soon after, she heard about a new program starting up called WASP.  It stood for Women Airforce Service Pilots and they would be the first female military pilots. It was designed to free up male pilots for combat in World War II.   Since there weren’t enough male pilots left in the states to move aircraft to bases across the country or service the planes, the government had no choice but to allow women to do the job.  Shutsy couldn’t be more excited about the thought of serving her country and flying a plane … but she was three years too young.  Once again, she wasn’t about to let another obstacle stand in the way of her dreams. So she tracked down the WASP founder — cosmetics company mogul Jacqueline Cochran — and wrote a letter to her every single day until Cochran agreed to lower the age.  To this day, Shutsy is convinced it was her barrage of letters that got her in.

Shutsy wasn’t the only woman who offered her service.  25,000 women applied to join WASP but only 1,830 were accepted and only 1,074 graduated. Shutsy was one of the proud graduates.

After graduation she was constantly in the air and loving it but things started to get discouraging. Even though Shutsy said the government promised to make the WASP fully enlisted in the military, the government now decided to classify them as civilians fearing a public backlash about women doing men’s work.  But she says the work they were doing was far too dangerous to be classified as civilian. 38 WASP were killed during missions but the government refused to honor their service.  Uncle Sam refused to even pay for their burial expenses. Shutsy recalls friend and fellow WASP Beverly Moses’ death. She was on a mission when the plane she was in crashed. The men onboard who lost their lives received proper recognition but the government didn’t acknowledge Moses.

“When Beverly was killed we took up a collection to ship her body home. She wasn’t allowed to have a flag on her coffin.  She never had a memorial service. No flag on her gravesite. ” Shutsy recalled.  “The word in Washington was ‘Don’t talk about what the WASP did because next thing you know they’ll want to take these jobs and if somebody hires them — all they have to do is hire one or two– and they’ll break the ceiling. Then we’ll have women on our hands wanting to come into the military.’  So they buried our records.”

Still, Shutsy passionately served her country.   For two years women flew missions for the United States until the war started coming to an end. That’s when the public started demanding for women to give up their jobs to make way for returning servicemen.

“They’d say ‘Go home. Quit your job.  Guys are coming home from the war. You were there to release them not replace them.’  That was the battle cry,”   She continued,  ” ‘Go home. Scrub the kitchen.  Have a family. Go back.’  But women never went back after the war.  We broke that boundary and life has never been the same since.”

When the war ended Congress quietly dissolved the WASP organization.  Because the government refused to to acknowledge her service,  Shutsy said it was hard to find work.

“It was after the war and I was trying to get a job. I’d say I flew military aircraft and they’d say  ‘yeah sure.’  So we all changed it and said we had a defense job. To say you flew military aircraft nobody would believe you. It made me feel bad as hell.” But she adds, “I proved that I could do it.  I proved to myself that I could do it. What everybody else thought, I couldn’t care less.”

Shutsy bounced around a bit after WASP.  She took a job in Winston-Salem, NC as a chief dispatcher with the AAF. Then she took a job in Alaska as a Link Operator.  When she was on her way to Anchorage, she went on a blind date. Lyle Reynolds was a Navy Reservist headed to work in the Panama Canal Zone. They hit it off and kept in touch.  Six years later, in 1952, he sent her a plane ticket to come visit. The old chemistry was still there and before her trip was over they were making wedding plans.

She and Lyle lived in Panama for 16 years and even though she wasn’t flying anymore her desire to learn continued.  In her spare time, she soaked up every bit of knowledge she could from the Panamanians: welding, silver soldering, splicing cable, airbrushing, and furniture refinishing.   She also perfected her silversmith skills in Mexico where she visited often.  She says that is another important lesson for women today.  Never stop learning new things.  She says it’s important to prepare yourself for what might lie ahead in life.

“Get a good education.  The more schooling you have the better you’ll do. That’s what the secret is.” she insisted, “You make your own life.”

Shutsy and Lyle had returned to Connellsville by then to care for her ailing mother after her father died.  They opened up a custom jewelry store and all of those talents she learned in her spare time turned into another passion.

In the late 1970′s the government announced it would start accepting women into the military for the first time. That caused an outcry by WASP members who had stayed quiet all these years.  In 1977 she got word that she had waited on for so long.  Congress was going to officially acknowledge the WASP’s service. Finally she would get the two medals she deserved. The American Campaign and the Victory Medal came in the mail seven years later.

In 1989 she lost her dear Lyle.  Now a widow,  Shutsy didn’t stop working. She turned their custom jewelry shop into a factory for WASP memorabilia.  To this day, she produces airbrushed flags, silver wings pins, rings, and charms of the WASP symbol.  She donates the profits to WASP to keep their courageous stories alive.

But Shutsy’s dream of flying would again exceed her expectation.  When Astronaut Eileen Collins went to space as the shuttle pilot she wanted to take some women’s aviation artifacts with her.  In addition to taking a scarf that belonged to Amelia Earhart and Bobbi Trout’s original license, Collins requested a set of WASP wings to represent all women… so Shutsy handcrafted WASP wings for space.

In early 2010, Shutsy heard the news that left her stunned.  Congress was going to honor all the WASP and present them with a Congressional Gold Medal. This time it wouldn’t come in the mail but would instead be delivered in person at an official service at the U.S. Capitol.

“I never expected it. Never in my wildest dreams did I figure we’d get any recognition. Do you realize it was 67 years?” she said.

After a lifetime of waiting, Florence Shutsy-Reynolds and 200 other WASPs were each presented the Congressional Gold Medal. It was one of  the largest gatherings ever inside the Capitol Building and was designed to make things right after almost seven decades.  These truly beautiful women didn’t serve their country for the glory but rather to selflessly give of themselves and their talents to change the world. And change the world they did, not only for women but for all mankind.

Demetrius Behind the Scenes

February 8, 2012 - Leave a Response

Darcey Garda from NAMI stopped by our studio this morning and Demetrius showed her how that green weather wall works. Fun!

 

 

Soup That Warms the Soul

January 31, 2012 - Leave a Response

 I’ve officially hit the winter doldrums.  That’s when I’ve had just about enough of the cold weather and I start counting down to Spring.  Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Tick Tock…..

There are a few times when I actually do have fun in the cold.  I spend a few weekends in February enjoying the snow at both Seven Springs and Nemacolin.  But at my house — I don’t have ski slopes or tubing parks or ice sculptures or sleigh rides or spas or breakfast buffets to help me get through …… so I have to figure something else out.

So on this past weekend — we were on the hunt for a good warm soup recipe to melt away the chill.  Maybe something to include a crusty bread and some fresh cheese on top.  We settled on an Italian meatball soup from The Pioneer Woman. It was delicious and easy to make.

This isn’t something to try on a weeknight unless you can start it early,  are willing to eat late, or can do all the prep work ahead of time because it does take a while to get started (30 minutes prep time, 45 minute cook time) …. but it is the perfect thing to warm up your soul on a chilly evening.

Ingredients

FOR THE MEATBALLS:

  • 3/4 pounds Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, Minced
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Oregano
  •      FOR  THE SOUP:
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 7 cups Low Sodium Beef Stock
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 3/4 cups Onion, Chopped
  • 3/4 cups Carrots, Chopped
  • 3/4 cups Celery, Chopped
  • 1 cup Russet Potato, Chopped (do Not Peel)
  • 1/2 pound Cabbage Chopped
  • Romano Cheese To Serve
  •   THINGS TO TIE UP IN A CHEESECLOTH BUNDLE: 
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, Minced
  • 2 whole Bay Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Peppercorns

First make the meatballs because they need to chill for 30 minutes. Just  combine all meatball ingredients and mix well. Shape into small balls and stick in the fridge for half an hour.

Next, make the cheesecloth bundle. Oddly enough,  my grocery store doesn’t have the cheesecloth in the baking section but in the cleaning section. Go figure.  Anyway, take 4 tablespoons of parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns and tie them up in a cheesecloth bundle to make an herb bag. (This will float around in the soup for flavor.)

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a heavy pot. Briefly brown meatballs, then remove to a plate. In that same pot, add beef stock, water, salt, tomato paste, and herb bag. Bring to a boil, then simmer 30 minutes.

Add onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Simmer 15 more minutes. Remove herb bag.

Add cabbage and meatballs. Bring to a boil, then simmer 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve with plenty of freshly grated Romano cheese sprinkled over the top. And be sure to have some good bread  on the side you’ll want to use it to sop up every last drop!

A Laughter Coach

January 28, 2012 - Leave a Response

They say laughter is the best medicine …..   and there is some science that tells us that old saying has some merit!  Did you know there are laughter coaches?  Experts in the art of laughter.  

Julie Ann Sullivan is a local Certified Laughter Leader (CLL).  Yes. There’s really a certificate for teaching people how to laugh!  These sessions aren’t based on humor or jokes …. but instead how to create true meaningful laughter from within.

Steve Wilson, a licensed psychologist and Karyn Buxman, a registered nurse, created The World Laughter Tour, Inc. in 1998. Together with their combined expertise and experiences they created the foundation for the Laughter Workshop experience. There are now over 6,000 Certified Laughter Leaders around the world!

“There are many documented benefits of laughing out loud, ” Julie Ann told me.  “Spontaneous laughter has been shown to reduce stress, increase attentiveness and lower your cholesterol, just to name a few.”

“People who laugh together in the workplace find heightened creativity and productivity.  Connecting through laughter allows people to work together with more synergy,” she added.

Perhaps, that’s why I love working with the crew on Action News This Morning.  We laugh a lot together. :-)

Julie Ann explained that to create a new habit, you need consistency and repetition, so she recommends that you experience 4 to 6 Laughter Workshops before their concepts become a part of your daily life.  Her sessions include a warm-up which involves breathing exercises.  The voice is readied by practicing different “H” sounds.  Once the audience is prepared, Julie Ann begins the laughter exercises. After that shares “Good Hearted Living”© which is a technique to carry the good feelings you experience in the workshop into your everyday life.

Click here to check out her website.

Julie Ann says employing laughter for your mind, body and soul changes your perspective, improves how your body functions and above all makes you feel good!   Julie Ann gave me permission to repost some of her workshops tips ….. Here’s the first on on gratitude:

Thanks Julie Ann for sharing these thoughts!

Gratitude –You Can Never Have Too Much

I awoke this morning thankful to see another day.

If we take the time, we all can think of things to be thankful for, but do we?

The more we express our gratitude, even to just ourselves, the better our attitude will be toward all circumstances in life. A recent article in Scientific American Mind, states that showing gratitude can increase your own happiness by as much as 25%.   

When you open your eyes in the morning remember that there are those who thought they would receive the gift of a new day, but did not. 

So many of us actually live in ABUNDANCE, but without the keen sense of gratitude that concept may not be clear. I look at what I consider basic needs to initiate my barometer of abundance. Take clean drinking water for instance. For most of us, when we are thirsty, we need only turn on the water in a sink to quench our thirst.  Food is a basic need.  Just think of how much food we throw away and waste while over 33 million people starve to death each year.

When you awaken to that precious new day, are you in a bed, with sheets, blankets and pillows?  Did you have new pajamas to put on before you climbed in the night before? Did you even think about the security you have in your house or the fact that you have heat to keep you warm while you dream?   Many of these comforts go unnoticed by us while others sleep in refugee tents for decades. 

I have proclaimed this my year of gratitude. Every day I strive to remember all that is good in my life. When I take the time and intensify my senses, the gifts in life are overwhelming. 

I challenge each of you to do some brain training and find all you have to be thankful for each day. The world will be a better place for each of our efforts.

More Gratitude = Better attitude

 

Thanks for sharing Julie Ann!

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Oscar Nomination for PGH-shot Film!

January 25, 2012 - Leave a Response

I am honored to be this year’s emcee again for the Pittsburgh Film Office’s annual fundraiser Lights! Glamour! Action! which is held on February 26th at Heinz Field —  the same night of the Academy Awards. I hope you’ll join us for another wonderful party celebrating how many jobs and how much money the film office brings into our region! The black tie event includes great food, wonderful music, and you can watch the Oscars on the big screen!

Between now and then I have a lot of catching up to do on all the nominees.  I was particularly excited that one of the nominations was for a role filmed right here in Pittsburgh!  The Academy honored Nick Nolte for best supporting actor for his performance in Warrior.  I went on set at the Peterson Event Center on Pitt’s campus and interrupted the filming for an interview with both Nolte who plays a father and Kurt Angle who plays the mean Russian cage wrestler.  It was amazing to watch a few of the scenes!  When there was a break in the action, Nolte was gracious enough to give me an interview … and he refused to be serious! What fun!

Click here for more information on Lights! Glamour! Action! and here’s a list of all of the nominees for you to catch up for Oscar night!

Best Picture


The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Best Actor

Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Best Actress
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Best Supporting Actor 
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Best Supporting Actress

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Best Original Screenplay

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

Best Adapted Screenplay

Alexander Payne, Jim Rash & Nat Faxon, The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo
George Clooney, Grant Heslov & Beau Willimon, The Ides of March
Aaron Sorkin & Steven Zaillian, Moneyball
Peter Straughan & Bridget O’Connor, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The Wax Troy Polamalu

January 20, 2012 - Leave a Response

Honestly, it was a bit creepy.  Wax Troy looks exactly like Real Troy.  Freaky.

The gracious people at Madame Tussauds and sponsor Head and Shoulders brought this exact replica in wax of Troy Polamalu into the studio during our morning show to promote the fact Wax Troy is in town and making appearances at four places.

Here is video I took during the commercial break when they were wheeling him in:

You can get your photo with him, too! Here are the locations and times:

1/20/2012 Carson City Saloon 1401 E. Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 3pm-8pm

1/21/2012 Giant Eagle Store #8 200 Tarentum Bridge Road New Kensington, PA 15068 Noon-3pm

1/22/2012 1613 Saloon 1613 Brownsville Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15210 4pm-8pm

1/23/2012 All Star Sports Bar & Grill, Heritage Square 6302 Robinson Town Centre Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15205 2pm-8pm

John Meyer talked with Adam & Brian who are responsible for Wax Troy. They told us only his head is made of wax… the rest is fiberglass. To travel, they take off his head and put it in a special container to protect it from damage. Thank goodness we didn’t get to see the beheading!

Watch to John’s interview:

“WAX TROY” FACTOIDS:

Due to the length of Troy’s hair, Madame Tussauds had to specially order in extra long real human hair, in two different shades, which they then permed to achieve the exact curl Troy has in his hair

· The team at Madame Tussauds had to use almost double the amount (600g) of hair than any other Madame Tussauds’ wax figure, ever! It took 4 weeks to insert a maximum of four (individually) into each hole.

· A tape measure was used to get the exact length when cutting Troy’s hair to get it the same as it was at the sitting, which is hard considering three different curls had to be used.

· The hair used for his hairline is much softer than that used for the rest of his head. It took an extra three days to insert the hairline, one hair at a time to match his exactly

And if you haven’t already seen it… this video is hilarious. When Wax Troy was unveiled the Real Troy played some fantastic pranks on people getting their picture taken. Watch as Wax Troy comes alive!

Demetrius’ Shoulder Surgery

January 18, 2012 - Leave a Response

He doesn’t like drawing attention to it (despite the fact Sam Hall is calling it his “sympathy sling”) ….. but since everyone is asking about it, I got his permission to share what’s going on with his arm.  First of all and most importantly, he’s getting better and is going to be fine. Second of all and selfishly, it’s great to have him back at work!

Demetrius had shoulder surgery to repair a former sports injury (torn labrum & bicep tendon) He’ll be in a sling for 4 more weeks…. but he was able to tie his own tie this morning which is great progress!

I hope it continues to heal quickly for his sake —- plus, I can’t wait to spend most of March teasing him about this contraption :-)

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The Wellness Chef

January 18, 2012 - Leave a Response

I love to cook and love learning about food!   I always look forward to attending the annual Gourmet Getaway at Seven Springs.  This year my favorite chef couple showed off their skills together which was both educational and entertaining.  Adam Fruehauf is Chef de Cuisine at Seven Springs and I think he could have a second career as a comedian! Adam’s wonderful wife, Colombe, is The Wellness Chef and has created quite a local business advising people who have various health concerns how to use the power of food to improve their condition.

Click here to watch a story I did with Colombe a while back. And click here to get to her website to contact her with any health concerns you’re facing.

They agreed to let me share with you one of the recipes they prepared.  It includes quinoa which is like rice but is packed full of powerful protein.  I love it!

Quinoa Salad with Minced Vegetables and Herbs

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa

1/4 cup minced carrot

1/2 cup minced Bermuda onion

1/2 cup scallion

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and pepper

1 1/2 cup water or stock

1/4 cup minced celery

1/2 cup de-stemmed parsley

1 cup fresh spinach

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

- Thoroughly rinse quinoa under cold water and drain.

- Place quinoa in a pot and add water, bring to boil, uncovered

- Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to minimum.

- In a bowl, have the minced vegetables ready.

While the quinoa cooks:

- In a blender add parsley, scallion, spinach, lemon juice and olive oil.

- Puree until very smooth, season with salt and pepper

Place hot quinoa into bowl with the vegetables, mix, add dressing and mix.  Allow to rest. Adjust seasoning.

Thanks Colombe and Adam and a big thank you to Seven Springs for inviting me again this year. I’m already looking forward to next year!

Women of Integrity Award

January 17, 2012 - Leave a Response

I was honored to help present Women of Integrity Awards for The Pittsburgh Professional Women’s group.  We have some amazing women in Western Pennsylvania!

Here I am with PPW founder and executive director Beth Caldwell presenting the honor to Mary Lee Gannon (pictured in the center) who was one of four women who received the 2012 award.   Mary Lee  now has a life-coaching business called Starting Over Now.   And that’s something she knows about all too well.  Once a wealthy stay-at-home-mom, a divorce put her on public assistance with four small children.  But she didn’t let that keep her down. Instead, she worked her way up and now, in addition to her own business, she  serves as CEO of UPMC’s St Margaret Foundation. She volunteers with several other organizations and is a wonderful example of the spirit that embodies our region.

Read more about Mary Lee Gannon here.

To order Mary Lee’s book Starting Over click here. 

To order Beth Caldwell’s book, I Wish I’d Known That for women starting their own businesses click here .

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