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Paying It Back

John was having what could best be described as a rough day. He received a call earlier that morning from his elderly mother with the stressful news that her apartment complex was being fumigated over the next three days. She would need help getting packed up for a local hotel stay and was hoping John could come give her a hand for a few days. Without hesitation, he had agreed and purchased a ticket back east with a late departure time, hoping that his daughter would sleep through the flight.

It was long past the little girl’s bedtime when they arrived at the airport and she snuggled on John’s lap while he waited for their boarding call. While waiting, John chatted with an older lady sitting nearby who smiled at the sleepy little girl.

When it was finally time to board the plane, John was told that his daughter would need a ticket as well. Shocked, John explained that he had only purchased one ticket, thinking Ellie would sleep on his lap, but the agent said that rule was strictly for children under two. John had some cash on hand but certainly did not have enough to purchase an extra plane ticket.

From behind, the older lady handed a credit card to the agent and asked to purchase a ticket for Ellie.

John protested, but the lady insisted and finally John relented with the promise that he would take down her information and pay her back when he got home. She smiled and agreed.

Later, when John looked at the paper that was supposed to have her contact information, he saw that she had written only a note: “Thank you for a lovely chat. Please consider your debt repaid with kindness.”

Elisa McNinch

Our Featured Listings

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“Let us always meet each other with a smile, the beginning of love.”  ~ Mother Teresa

Paleolithic Pantry

It was long thought that prehistoric humans consumed bone marrow as soon as possible after killing their prey, as marrow was an important source of nutrition in ancient times.

However, the Fox News website reports new findings which indicate that 400,000 years ago, ancient people saved and stored marrow in bones for as long as nine weeks before consumption. The bones served as “cans,” according to researchers exploring the Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv, and allowed early humans to break the bone when necessary to consume the still nutritious marrow inside.

This upends the previous belief that Paleolithic humans lived a hand-to-mouth existence as hunter-gatherers.

Dealing With Stress

Stress has a negative impact on everyone’s health. One way to ease the stress in your life? Unsurprisingly, Bicycle Cards advises that you play a game of cards. They might be onto something – here’s how a few friendly rounds of cards can help reduce stress:

  • A card game isn’t just about counting up points. It’s a good path to friendly and lively conversations that can help you relax.
  • Conversation usually leads to laughter, which can reduce tension in your mind and body.
  • Low pressure. Assuming you’re not playing high-stakes poker with your life savings on the line, a nice game of Hearts or Gin Rummy offers entertainment without pressure.
  • Brain exercise. Strategizing, keeping track of the play, and calculating your points at the end of the game helps keep your mind fresh.
  • No technology. You can play Blackjack on your smartphone, but a few hands of Pinochle with friends lets you detach from technology for a while and reconnect with the rest of the world.

Chocolate Eggnog Truffles

By Land O’ Lakes

Chocolate Eggnog Truffles Image

Check out this imaginative recipe that’ll give you something to do with all your leftover Christmas eggnog!



Everyday Inventions

Some of the most common things we use every day were invented by creative women. Here are a few, gathered by the Mental Floss website:

  • Circular saws. Tabitha Babbit, a weaver in a Shaker community, observed that a two-man pit saw worked only when being pulled forward. She suggested that a circular saw would be more efficient. In 1813, she took that for action, attached a prototype to her spinning wheel, and filed a patent thereafter for her invention.
  • Paper bags. Margaret Knight created the modern, flat-bottomed paper bag in Before then, paper bags looked like envelopes. An intellectual thief tried to steal the idea and file a patent, but Knight stood up for herself, filed a lawsuit, and won the rights to her creation.
  • Windshield wipers. Mary Anderson invented the first manual windshield wipers in 1903. They didn’t take off because most drivers thought it was safer to simply drive through rain and snow, rather than keep pulling a lever to clear it. Another woman, Charlotte Bridgwood, invented an automatic version in 1917, but it wasn’t accepted By 1920, windshield wipers were everywhere, starting with Cadillac, which began standardly installing them on all its cars.
  • Liquid A secretary named Bette Nesmith Graham had a habit of correcting her typing mistakes with white tempera paint. After years of perfecting the formula in her kitchen, she patented Liquid Paper in 1958. Gillette bought her company in 1979 for $47.5 million.
  • This lightweight material is five times stronger than steel and can stop a bullet. A chemist named Stephanie Kwolek discovered it by accident in 1966 as she was trying to develop a lightweight fiber for car tires.

“The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding, and revising.” 

~ Stephen King

DaVinci’s Designs

Leonardo da Vinci is known for such paintings as “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper,” but he was also a masterful engineer. According to the LiveScience website, in the 16th century he designed what would have been the longest bridge in the world at the time, connecting Constantinople to a nearby area called Galata over the Bosporus Sea. He was responding to a request for proposals from Sultan Bayezid, the ruler of the Ottoman Empire.

DaVinci’s bridge was never built, but modern researchers from MIT have built a 3D replica of the bridge, using materials and construction equipment that would have been available in the 16th century.

They found that da Vinci’s design, using only a single arch, would have been structurally sound, thanks to compression that would have held the bridge’s stones together. Leonardo was a true Renaissance man.

Setting Your Limits

Sometimes a few constraints can boost your creativity. As recounted on the Fast Company website, publisher Bennett Cerf bet one of his authors, Theo Geisel – better known as Dr. Seuss – that he couldn’t write a children’s book with just 50 different words. Seuss stepped up to the challenge and won the bet with his book, Green Eggs and Ham.

“Putting limits to encourage creativity might sound counterintuitive.” writes JotForm CEO Aytekin Tank on the website.

“But the thing is, constraints encourage more divergent thinking – and you can leverage built-in limits or apply them to the project at hand. For example, sometimes we’ll tell our designers that they can only have 10 elements on a product screen. These limits stretch their problem-solving abilities and typically produce surprising results.”

 “Dear world, I am excited to be alive in you, and I am thankful for another year.”

~Charlotte Eriksson

Winning Advice

People who’ve made it to the top have lots of advice to share. The Muse website features these tidbits:

  • Miriam Salpeter, founder of Keppie Careers: “Use every job as an opportunity to learn something new and keep an open mind; you may find that you really enjoy something you never imagined would appeal to you.”
  • Catherine Straut, assistant editor of Elle: “When it comes to having your ideas heard, or to really connect with co-workers, never underestimate the power of face time and the importance of in-person communication.”
  • Jane Fonda, actress: “If the career you have chosen has some unexpected inconvenience, console yourself by reflecting that no career is without them.”

Cheap DIY Home Decor Crafts

Check out this article from homedit.com for some novel ideas for easy and cheap home decor.  It’s always good to make home improvement part of your New Year’s resolution!


Very Suspicious

A police officer was testing three potential detectives on suspect identification. She showed the first man a photo for five seconds and then turned the photo over and asked the candidate how he could best be identified. The man replied that the suspect would be easy to spot because he has only one eye. The police officer frowned and explained that only one eye was showing because it was a profile photo. She moved on to the next candidate, who sat back in his chair, smiled and smugly said:

“Ha! He’d be too easy to catch because he only has one ear!”

“What’s the matter with you two?!” exclaimed the officer. “Only one eye and one ear are showing because it’s a picture of his side profile!”

Extremely frustrated, she showed the picture to the third candidate and asked the question for a third time. The third man looked at the picture intently then calmly pointed out that the suspect wears contact lenses. The officer didn’t know what to think, but checked the suspect’s file on her computer and was shocked to find it was true.

“Wow! I can’t believe it. It’s true! The suspect does, in fact, wear contact lenses. Good work! How were you able to make such an astute observation?”

“Easy,” the third man replied. “He can’t wear regular glasses, because he only has one eye and one ear.”

Pushing the Reset Button

If December is a month for celebrations then January is a month to reset after so many celebrations, and that includes reaching out to employees and coworkers to start the year out right. Here are a few tips to help you line up your workforce with a fresh start:

  • Celebrate accomplishments. Let your workforce feel good about what they achieved last Remind them of successes, small and significant. Emphasize the value of working together on common goals and establish which of those goals you can tackle together this year.
  • Set the right example. If employees see you giving it your all as the year starts out, they’ll be more likely to stay attentive to their own responsibilities. At the same time, be a little flexible to show employees you understand they are recovering from holiday hoopla.
  • Keep the excitement going. Encourage people to freshen up their workspace, bring healthy treats to share at work, or set up a donation drive for a local spring event.
  • Plan for the future. Looking ahead to new projects and goals can be more attractive when people are feeling excited and hopeful. Get employees involved in strategic planning for a specific date with defined goals.

Another Point of View

Sometimes very short stories hold meanings that are open to interpretation beyond the text. Here are a few examples…

During a long drought, the mayor of a small village directed everyone to gather in the square to pray for rain. They all came, but only one boy came with an umbrella. That is faith.

When you toss babies intro their air, they laugh and smile because they know you’ll catch them. That is trust.

Every night we go to bed with no guarantee that we’ll wake up tomorrow. But we still set our alarm clocks to wake up. That is hope.

We make big plans without any knowledge of the future. That is confidence.

We see suffering in the world, but we still get married and raise children. That is love.

December 2019 Trivia Answer

Question:  Which popular Christmas beverage is also called “milk punch?”

Answer:  Egg Nog

Congratulations to Patty BiggsYour name was randomly selected from all of the correct entries. You won a $50 gift card to one of the following: Amazon.com, Academy, Target, Khol’s, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, HEB grocery, Willie’s Icehouse, OR Pappas restaurants. Your choice!

January 2020 Trivia Question

Question:  What is the world’s biggest island?

Everyone who contacts Elisa via email (elisa@brunerteam.com) or phone (832-746-7911) with the correct answer by January 20th will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to one of the following: Amazon.com, Academy, Target, Khol’s, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, HEB grocery, Willie’s Icehouse, OR Pappas restaurants. Your choice!