Bess Abell, White House social secretary during Johnson administration, dies at 87

The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease, said her husband, Tyler Abell, who served in the final months of Johnson’s presidency as chief of protocol. His appointment carried ambassadorial rank and, along with his wife’s position, placed the Abells among the elite Washington power couples of that era.

Mrs. Abell’s acquaintance with the Johnsons dated at least to the 1950s, when Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Tex.) was serving as Senate majority leader and Mrs. Abell’s father, Sen. Earle C. Clements (D-Ky.), was majority whip. The Johnsons feted Bess and Tyler Abell when they married in 1955, and five years later, the Abells named their second son Lyndon, after the future president.

Mrs. Abell volunteered with the 1960 campaign that thrust Lyndon Johnson to the vice presidency, under President John F. Kennedy, and became personal secretary to Johnson’s wife, Lady Bird Johnson, after their victory. Upon Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Lyndon was sworn in as president, Lady Bird became first lady, and soon after, Mrs. Abell was named social secretary.

Perhaps the best-known woman to have previously held the role — at the time no man had served as White House social secretary — was Letitia Baldrige, a friend of Jacqueline Kennedy’s who was credited with helping the Kennedys project the aura of elegance that made their White House years known as Camelot.

By at least one account, Mrs. Abell held even greater sway than Baldrige, who had been tasked with “lifting presidential occasions to a continental style and standard,” government scholar MaryAnne Borrelli wrote in the 2011 book “The Politics of the President’s Wife.”

“Lady Bird Johnson placed tremendous confidence in Bess Abell, giving her even more responsibility than had been granted the Kennedy social secretaries,” Borrelli continued. “Comparing the administrations, Chief Usher J.B. West concluded that Bess Abell ‘did for Mrs. Johnson what Mamie Eisenhower and Jacqueline Kennedy had done for themselves. . . . It wasn’t just that Bess assumed more authority than previous social secretaries, she’d been granted that authority by Mrs. Johnson.”

Mrs. Abell set her clock five minutes fast to ensure the timely execution of her job. Her duties required military-level precision and coordination with the head usher, chef, florist and service staff of the White House — not to mention the entourages of visiting dignitaries from around the world. According to a Washington Post report at the time, she “planned, organized and staged the entertaining and feeding of nearly 80,000 presidential guests” — and that was only in her first three years on the job.

For the first couple, perhaps the most personally meaningful events organized by Mrs. Abell were the wedding reception for their younger daughter, Luci Johnson, and her husband, Patrick Nugent, in 1966 and the East Room wedding ceremony the next year uniting Luci’s older sister, Lynda Johnson, and future Virginia governor Charles S. Robb.

The fraught nature of wedding planning — coupled with political exigencies such as a requirement that Luci’s gown be pieced together so that most of the dress

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Saturday Kitchen chef James Martin has quit social media – here’s what happened

Monday, 5th October 2020, 1:30 pm

Updated Monday, 5th October 2020, 1:38 pm
The virtual cooking masterclass suffered from a host of technical difficulties (Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Saturday Kitchen chef James Martin has quit social media after receiving backlash for his virtual cookalong event that was branded a “disaster” by attendees.

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The This Morning chef says that he has been the target of “vile abuse” by those angry that they had experienced technical issues during the sold-out cooking masterclass.

What happened?

Martin held a virtual cookery class on Saturday 3 October, which invited fans and foodies to create a three course meal alongside Martin during the 90-minute experience.

The menu was set to consist of a start of halloumi with chilli jam, a main course of chicken saute with vinegar and pilaf rice, and a dessert of a raspberry tart.

Tickets for the event had launched at 10am on Friday 11 September, and cost cookery fans £35 for the virtual masterclass – not including the individual cost for ingredients.

However, many attendees were left frustrated after technical issues left their screens frozen or unable to connect to the event.

Some of those who attended the event called it “a chaotic shambles” and a “complete disaster”, with many commenting that Martin moved through the cooking instructions too quickly.

Others questioned if the event itself was even live, stating that it was “clearly pre-recorded”.

What has James Martin said?

Taking to Twitter, the chef explained that he would be taking a break from social media following the online abuse he received after the show.

In a thread of tweets, Martin wrote: “Having seen some of the comments posted online regarding last night’s cook along and the anger towards me given the technical issues that the production team were having, I would like to apologise again for this and I will be chasing up with Live Nation, the production company IT team and all the people they hired, to find out the problem.

“Having said that, this is a small comfort to some of you online who are quite rightly angry at me. I promise I will be speaking to them tomorrow, I wasn’t involved in the IT side of things and know little about it, but will get all the issues raised and sorted as much as I possibly can immediately.

“It’s unfortunate they didn’t use my team that makes the Saturday show to do this but, as you can imagine, it was all out of my hands.

“To the rest of you who had a good night, thank you, but due to the large amount of vile comments posted directly towards me, this will be my last post as I will be taking a break from posting personally and all social media for the foreseeable future.”

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Following his announcement that he would be departing from social media, fans of the Saturday Kitchen

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Home Improvement: How home design trends are evolving for social distancing – Salisbury Post

Metro Creative

COVID-19 has brought changes to everything, and home design is no exception. Experts are expecting to see lasting impacts on everything from the materials we use to the rooms we prioritize. Check out these and other noteworthy trends:

Houses over apartments: Many people who live in condos or apartments do so to be closer to the action — work, entertainment and shops — and never planned on spending much time at home. But the pandemic has changed that, and more people are going to want a home that offers plenty of room and outdoor space in case they need to self-isolate again.

Self-sufficiency: A hard lesson we’ve learned is that things and services we thought we could count on aren’t necessarily a sure thing, so items that increase self-reliance will become very popular. Expect to see more homes with sources of energy like solar panels, sources of heat like fireplaces and stoves, and even urban and indoor gardens that allow you to grow your own produce.

Outdoor living: Between playgrounds closing and parks becoming overcrowded, many of us are turning to our balconies, patios and backyards for fresh air and nature. This means we’re going to be investing more in our outdoor spaces, with functional kitchens, soothing water features, cozy firepits, and high-quality outdoor furniture to create a much-needed escape.

Healthier spaces: Thanks to spending more time indoors and reprioritizing our health, we’ll turn to design to help ensure our homes are safe and healthy for our families. We’ll see a rise in products like water filtration systems as well as materials that improve indoor air quality. For new homes and additions, alternatives to wood-framing like insulated concrete forms from Nudura, which offer improved ventilation for healthier indoor air quality and an environment that’s less susceptible to mold, will be key.

Home office space: Business experts are suggesting many companies will see that working from home is not only possible but offers tangible benefits, like saving money on office space rent. With working from home on the rise, creating a home office space that inspires productivity will be a major project many of us tackle. Luxury home office furniture that feels chic and blends into your décor as well as ergonomic chairs and desks will see a major boost.

Custom and quality: With the hit to the economy, people are going to be buying less, but what they do buy will be better quality, while at the same time making an effort to support American businesses. When it comes to design, trends will shift to locally made furniture, custom-built homes and pieces and materials that stand the test of time. Find more information at

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Trump plans mass events in Wisconsin where White House task force calls for social distancing.

Wisconsin is listed in the document as the state with the third-highest rate of new cases in the country, with 243 new cases per 100,000 people over the previous week, about 2.6 times greater than the national average. Ahead of Trump’s scheduled rally in Green Bay, the Bellin Health System said Tuesday that its hospital in that city is at 94 percent capacity as covid-19 continues to spike in the community.

“During the intense period of viral surge, large numbers of acutely infected individuals caused exponential growth in infections,” the task force report reads in a section about Wisconsin. “Although young adults are the most affected group currently, spread to other age groups is inevitable.”

The task force report, which is sent to the leaders of all 50 states and D.C., is distributed weekly with specific recommendations for curtailing the spread of the coronavirus, along with progress reports on testing and county-by-county assessments of the prevalence of the virus. The reports are not made public.

The debate over whether Trump should gather large crowds comes as the president faced off against his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, for the first presidential debate, offering sharply different opinions on whether public health recommendations against large crowds are justified.

During Tuesday’s debate, Trump defended his events as opportunities for his supporters to gather to hear him and claimed that there has been “no negative effect” from his rallies, even though health officials in Tulsa said a spike in covid-19 cases was “likely” sparked by an indoor Trump gathering in June.

The president also said he was “okay with masks” but falsely claimed that scientists are divided over their value. Health experts have said mask-wearing, hand-washing, social distancing and being careful about crowds currently make up the best defense against the virus.

Biden, by contrast, said Trump has been “totally irresponsible” in the way he has handled social distancing and masks, and in holding large rallies.

“Basically he has been a fool on this,” Biden said of Trump.

“If you could get the crowds, you would have done the same thing,” the president responded. “But you can’t. Nobody can.”

In addition to the White House task force’s guidance, local concern has been growing in Wisconsin about Trump’s planned events, which are scheduled for outdoor airplane hangars without universal mask mandates. Gov. Tony Evers (D) said Tuesday in a news briefing that Trump should either cancel the events or require mask-wearing by everyone who attends.

“This virus is real, and it is devastating our communities, and it will continue to do so until we all get on the same team,” Evers said in a press call about the recent spike in the state’s cases.

He told Wisconsin residents that wearing a mask is not a substitute for social distancing or staying at home, and he asked them to cancel family barbecues, play dates or dinner parties, and make all large gatherings virtual.

Ryan Westergaard, the state’s chief medical officer, said Tuesday that Wisconsin is “in a

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Social Scene | Community Builders: Canada’s Great Kitchen Party Ottawa Edition

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One of fall’s most exciting events will take place under a different format this year, but Oct. 22 is still a date to mark on your calendar. Canada’s Great Kitchen Party Ottawa Edition will be going ahead with chefs competing to move forward to the culinary championships. This year, the Ottawa Edition chefs will be judged by Anne DesBrisay, food writer and cookbook author, along with Sheila Whyte, owner of Thyme and Again.

Gather with friends, family or clients and enjoy a ready to serve three-course meal prepared by one of the local competing chefs. At 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 22, Jim Cuddy, national entertainment adviser for Canada’s Great Kitchen Party, will bring together an exceptional all-star cast for a livestreaming presentation. The event will be supporting B2Ten, MusiCounts and Canadian Food Centres Canada.

“We are impressed with the pivot from a large event to intimate dinners in smaller settings with the Kitchen Party’s Emerging Stronger campaign,” said Ottawa Kitchen Party co-chair Chris Klotz.

For details about the Great Kitchen Party Ottawa Edition, visit

Ottawa Kitchen Party co-chair Chris Klotz and Daniela Manrique, owner and chef of The Soca Kitchen. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia
Daniela Manrique, owner and chef of The Soca Kitchen, is a three-time competitor and a silver and bronze medalist. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

If you know of someone doing something exceptional to help, we would love to share their story. Please send details to [email protected] and we will be in touch.

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Top Trump officials seen not wearing masks or social distancing at White House Supreme Court announcement

Many of the guests for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nomination announcement arrived at Saturday’s event with masks on, but as the Rose Garden event got underway, masks were virtually non-existent.

Alex Azar, Eugene Scalia are posing for a picture: From right, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie greet people after President Donald Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House, on Sept. 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

© Alex Brandon/AP
From right, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie greet people after President Donald Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House, on Sept. 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Some of the Trump administration’s top health officials, as well as other attendees, were seen not wearing masks or social distancing at the highest-profile event at the White House since the Republican National Convention in August.


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Seats for guests in the White House Rose Garden at the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett also did not appear spaced apart the recommended six feet, CNN reporters observed, as US deaths from the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed 200,000.

The event stood in striking contrast with the ceremonies earlier this week at the Supreme Court and US Capitol honoring the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, where many attendees at both events wore masks and were careful interacting with one another. Trump, who went mask-less for Saturday’s event, wore a face covering when he paid respects to Ginsburg this week.

Alex Azar, the head of the Health and Human Services Department, put on a mask at one point during Trump’s speech announcing the President is nominating Barrett as the nominee.

But as he left the ceremony, the nation’s top health official fist-bumped without a mask on — going against the health recommendations he has espoused during the pandemic. Azar has repeatedly encouraged Americans to wear a facial covering and to practice social distancing.

CNN has reached out to HHS for comment.

Top administration officials, including Attorney General William Barr and Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who is the latest addition to the White House coronavirus task force, were also seen without masks, shaking hands and interacting closely with other attendees.

Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at Brown University, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Saturday that “for one of the leaders of our country, of our Health and Human Services, walking around without a mask just sends the wrong message.”

“It is essential for all of us who hold positions of influence in healthcare and government, or just in media to wear masks when we’re out in public, to send that right message because that’s the only way that, right now, that we’re going to combat and succeed against this virus,” she said.

Ahead of the event, White House spokesman Judd Deere told CNN Saturday that anyone in close proximity to the President will be tested for Covid-19, and that there will be social distancing measures.

But two of Barrett’s colleagues at Notre Dame, who attended the Rose Garden event and were seated toward the front of the audience, said they were not tested

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Muscle Maker Grill’s ‘Ghost Kitchen’ Restaurant Model Is Riding The Wave Of Social Distancing (NASDAQ:GRIL)

There is a whole ecosystem benefiting from social distancing. Muscle Maker Grill (GRIL) could possibly become the poster child for it.

No one anticipated COVID-19 would have turned our way of life upside down, normal routines such as shopping, gathering and eating out had almost become obsolete. The transition to online ordering took a quantum leap over the past 6 months.

It all started with Domino’s (DPZ) when they announced that they were hiring 10,000 workers to keep up with the demand for delivery during the outbreak. As shelter-in-place orders have lifted, sales are recovering and many chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), McDonald’s (MCD), Yum Brands Inc. (YUM), Starbucks (SBUX), and Shake Shack (SHAK) are trying to get their piece of pie.

These fast food chains are ramping up hiring and investing in mobile ordering and delivery infrastructure, catering to consumers desire to dine at home. Many businesses have struggled during and coming out of mandatory state lockdowns due to the pandemic. But Muscle Maker Grill’s “Ghost Kitchen” strategy may be a survival solution for the declining restaurant industry.

COVID-19 and the Re-Opening Struggle

Covid-19 has thrown a monkey wrench into the mix.

Most restaurants have been struggling to stay afloat and only have options of curbside pick-up and delivery. In order for them to make the same amount of money using the social distancing guidelines, they need more space and that costs more money. Owners have gotten creative and with the help of gazebo and circus style tent canopies along with outdoor tables and chairs, were able to open for business under strict Covid-19 guidelines.

But analysts are particularly concerned about the coming winter, which will eliminate these outdoor seating options for many restaurants, and about the demise of the extra $600 in unemployment benefits that had been available for jobless Americans. Eating is a necessity, but eating out may become a luxury. How long Covid-19 lingers, and the state of the economy will be major factors in shaping the recovering in this sector.

No matter where you look the job market is challenging. The restaurant sector really took a hit during the shutdown, but new stats are optimistically trending higher. Restaurant cooks and managers were some of the most in-demand jobs in June, as fast-food chains like Chipotle and Dunkin’ have been staffing up as sales recover. In mid-July, Chipotle announced that it is hiring 10,000 workers. Positions will include “hourly and salaried management positions as well as crew,” according to the company’s press release. Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. (DNKN) is also on a hiring spree and looking to add 25,000 people to its workforce, including counter staff and managers, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile Muscle Maker Grill is in expansion mode with a cost-effective new strategy to open “ghost kitchens.” It has also delayed its expansion plans for dine in restaurants. In February they completed an IPO, raising $7.7 million to execute their growth and turnaround strategy.

Their timing couldn’t have been better in regards to raising

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Social media confounded by bizarre interior of Florida condo for sale: ‘Dear God’

A two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in Lake Worth, Florida, is on sale for just $100,000 — but it requires a very, very specific buyer.

Why? Well, the walls of the “social media-worthy” condo are covered almost entirely in empty cans of Budweiser.

Whoever the current owner and seller of this condo is clearly has a thing for the American-style pale lager. Every single room, save for one ordinary bathroom, is decorated floor-to-ceiling with cans of Budweiser.

Though it’s impossible to ignore the beer cans everywhere, whoever the listing agent is for the condo did their best to make them sound appealing rather than alarmingly confusing.

“Entering the spacious 2BR/2BA corner-unit condo, you immediately reminisce of long road trips and the inevitable belting out of the beloved song, ’99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall!’” the listing says. “Budweiser’s biggest fan meticulously adorned the walls and ceilings with Budweiser beer cans to display and showcase their intense love for one of America’s favorite domestic brews! Whether you keep the current décor for your Youtube beer show or decide to renovate the home, this property offers tons of entertainment potential!”

Despite the agent’s best efforts, though, most people on social media still seem to find the boozy condo rather … odd.

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” one person joked about the unusual decor.

“I was wondering why it was 100k and then I looked at the interior dear GOD,” another user added.

“I’d lock myself in the bathroom and never come out,” a third person remarked.

Some savvy social media users, however, see the $100,000 condo covered in empty cans as a worthy investment opportunity, especially seeing as the cans can be recycled for a pretty penny.

“Think of all the money you could get turning those cans in,” one person remarked. “The house pays for itself.”

“I’m not sure, but I think you could pay this house off by just recycling all the cans,” another user added.

So, who’s brave enough to take the plunge and buy the beer house?

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If you enjoyed this story, check out this “skinny” house with absurd proportions that went viral on TikTok.

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A beer garden with social distancing coming to Pittsburgh’s South Side

In the waning days of summer, people often find themselves trying desperately to hang on to the things that go with the warm season. Kenny Gould is no different.

Gould, an entrepreneur, beer lover, writer and founder of Hop Culture Magazine, had been dreaming about doing a pop-up beer garden down by the riverfront. As the covid-19 addled summer of 2020 wore on, that dream morphed into doing some type of Oktoberfest event. That’s when The Highline, an office/retail complex with an elevated riverfront green space on the South Side, entered the picture.

“I wasn’t really thinking about it until the Highline got in touch with me and asked me if I was interested in using the space to throw a craft beer festival,” said Gould.

Despite having organized some 30 beer festivals around the country, Gould was not convinced that this was a good idea.

“I said ‘I’m not throwing another beer festival for at least a dozen months just because of everything that’s going on,’” said Gould. “But then I told them I was thinking about this other idea that I think could be done in a really safe way and could be really fun.”

The idea, a beer garden with safe social distancing built in, becomes a reality this Friday when Lagerlands Socially Distant Beer Garden opens to the public. Hop Culture Magazine is joining forces with Cinderlands Beer Co., De Fer Coffee and Tea and Burgh’ers Brewing, maker of burgers and other snacks, to bring it all to life.

The beer garden will be open at The Highline’s outdoor space at 339 McKean St from September 11 through November 1, rain or shine.

The space, which is family-friendly and open to pets, can accommodate 100 people at a time. In order to operate safely and prevent overcrowding, organizers are using an online reservation system. The beer garden is open 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Everyone is required to bring a mask.

“It’s really easy to think of this as not normal but for now, at least, this is normal,” said Gould. “Pittsburgh has a pretty long history of working really hard and making things work and hopefully we’re doing justice to that tradition with this event.”

As for entertainment, Gould is looking at bringing in jazz musicians and has also bought a projector and a 20 foot inflatable screen to show family friendly movies.

“It’s something I’m really excited about” Gould said. “Not only that but to be able to hire a dozen people and probably more on Saturdays and Sundays, people who are looking for work, people who are in the food and hospitality industry who may have been furloughed or put out of work, is pretty cool as well.”

For more information, email Gould at [email protected]

Paul Guggenheimer is

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Using social media to inspire your decor choices

The longest running peril of social media continues to be the omnipresent misperception of those around you based on their own “selective sharing.” It is easy to draw comparisons from snapshots and forget the path you are on — or figuring out — when beauty surrounds every other profile and fills your screen.

But perhaps we have been wrong about this from the beginning; perhaps the misperception is on us not them. Perhaps we have spent all these years missing an opportunity staring at us from perfectly smiling faces in perfectly manicured homes: not to succumb to jealousy or comparison or entitlement, but instead to choose to be inspired.

Snapshots — single photos that show off just a snippet within a larger, unseen context — inundate almost every social media platform. They also offer wonderful design opportunity insights for smaller scale spaces and updates. Best of all, they are something you can tackle in an evening, often without any incurred costs.

Snapshots on social media today are, in reality, visual “vignettes”: small, evocative descriptions. And designing vignettes into your own space is easy and achievable, especially when you are surrounded by inspiration.

Take a snapshot you want to use as inspiration and break it down to its core elements. First, what drew you to it? Avoid specifying objects: Instead, describe them.

For example, a beautiful vase on a table might break down to a large object that introduces contrast in bold colors and is centered on a small platform that brings focus and intention to its placement on the table. The former description is focused on a single object and rooted material acquisition. The latter extrapolates the design elements from a compositional perspective and gives much greater latitude for your own expression: You are no longer dependent on that vase to achieve what you see in the snapshot. (The reverse also holds true: This is why just buying that vase and putting it in your home may not look as good as its snapshot vignette did.)

Now apply this idea to a more complex snapshot you may see across social media, one that is more likely to evoke a feeling from you. A cozy backyard patio ready to entertain looks warm and inviting — a party underway looks fun and exciting. Break them down into core elements: Why does the space look cozy instead of just small? What about it feels inviting, or fun or exciting? Spatially analyze the vignette that inspires you so you can apply it in your own context. Maybe clearing out and rearranging your own patio (or apartment balcony or window nook) to just a few key elements scaled to fit — a place to sit, a surface to hold what you need, decorative lighting, a splash of color — is the key to your own transformation.

Vignettes should not be limited to visual appeal, though. Especially when “atmosphere” is a part of the inspiring snapshot, analyze based on the five senses. You can break

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