It probably won't surprise you that Black ordered several pairs of "Bernie's mittens" soon after the Presidential Inauguration – not as a "fashion statement" (although they are!) but to support Make-A-Wish.

But we have to tell you … they recently arrived during the heat of Houston's summer (Black wasn't the only one interested in them, as there was a long backorder). And even Black, who doesn't typically wear mittens, thinks that they're wonderful. And Red's thrilled that Black ordered a few extra pairs as she's now the proud owner of the "softest mittens I've ever had."

To learn more, and maybe "entice" you to order your own pair, we're delighted to rerun "Bernie's Mittens Do Good" …

Bernie Sanders is now a fashion icon? Well, not quite, but his inaugural appearance warms the hands and the heart.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It was a truly historic inauguration that was memorable for so many reasons ...

But who would've guessed that Senator Bernie Sanders, showing up as if going out for a gallon of milk in a Vermont snowstorm, would've been a "quiet" sensation? Was it the outfit? Was it the attitude? Was it the posture in the chair? The answer's probably all of the above. (Curious about the photo that went viral? Check out this Rolling Stone interview of the photographer.)


Red was clueless that Bernie's mittens were taking on a life of their own, with the Vermont teacher who had made them from old sweaters being inundated with orders, until Black brought it to her attention. It's not a story you'd expect Black to follow, except there was a business angle as the teacher, Jen Ellis, was now teaming up with the Vermont Teddy Bear Company to bring them to the world. Plus, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of "Vermont Swittens" will go to Make-A-Wish Vermont. As soon as Red heard that, she knew the Make-A-Wish connection would've gotten Black's attention as she's been on the Board of the local chapter, Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast & Louisiana, for years (maybe decades) as well as having raised over a million dollars for the charity.

What Black didn't know though, was that the story had a connection to Red as well. When Red was growing up, but after Black had left for college, she'd go with her parents up to Vermont three to four times a year. Then, as Red got older, she continued to go to Vermont. At first by herself, and then sometimes with her husband as she dreamed of living in Vermont one day. It's a dream that she still sometimes thinks about. However, it definitely subsides when the weather in Texas dips below 40 degrees and she realizes it's probably below zero in Vermont!

It was on one of those trips, when visiting Burlington and a small town just south of there, called Shelburne, that Red discovered the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. It was love at first sight. Plush stuffed animals, a beautiful setting close to Lake Champlain, and even an in-house "doctor" that over the years mended more than a few of Red's favorite stuffed animals.

So, when Red heard that they were going to start making Bernie's mittens, aka Vermont Swittens, she couldn't get online fast enough to learn more and sign up for switten updates. And while Black may only buy them because of the Make-A-Wish connection, you can be sure that Red will be getting at least one pair as a reminder of not only how much she loved Vermont, but all the happy hours spent over many years at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company store.

Ok, let’s be clear (pun intended) … Communication is critical. Whether in your personal life or in business, not to mention communication skills are transferable between the two (Black even suggested Red hold family “business” meetings). And what better time to work on how we communicate, and maybe even have a new attitude toward vocabulary and “50-cent words” (Red loves those, but terminology scares her!?), than during Effective Communications Month.

Talking isn't the same as communicating. And hearing isn't the same as listening. Think about it.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Being an effective communicator, whether in our personal lives or at work, is a critical skill but one-size-doesn't-fit-all as we each use very different methods and styles … ranging from lots of words and talking stuffed animals (Red) to bullet points and racing flags (Black).

Keep Reading ...Show less

Most workaholics can rationalize working all the time. At least to themselves.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: “Gizmos” already blurred the lines between the workweek and the weekend, but the WFH (working from home) “revolution” caused by the pandemic has destroyed the line; except for people like Black, who have always treated every day as a workday.

Keep Reading ...Show less

We all “celebrate” Memorial Day differently, but we all should remember it’s a day to honor those who gave their lives serving this country.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, and Red remembers celebrating over the years with family get-togethers, barbeques, and pool parties; whereas Black “celebrates” most holidays by having a quiet day to work uninterrupted, but it’s important never to forget the significance of the holiday.

Keep Reading ...Show less