Meet the Villagers: Sylvia Blackwell of The Pilates Place of Mississippi

sylviaToday’s Meet the Villagers is with the lovely Sylvia Blackwell, owner of The Pilates Place of Mississippi, which has been in Highland Village since 2001. We were honored that she took a little time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions we had about her business! We learned a lot and think you will too!!

In a nutshell, what does The Pilates Place of MS offer clients?   
Our goal is to promote the strongest muscular-skeletal foundation available for each individual client. We strive for optimal function for the long haul through life. The Pilates Place of Mississippi offers a contemporary approach to the original exercise method pioneered by the late Joseph Pilates.  We utilize modern principles of exercise science and spinal rehabilitation to offer a clear and detailed approach.

What sets The Pilates Place of MS apart from competing businesses?
The Pilates Place of Mississippi is committed to the highest quality of Pilates training. All Instructors have Pilates certifications that require stringent educational standards, including a professional knowledge of anatomy and exercise physiology in order to offer the very best training. Our belief is that Pilates done right is the perfect exercise to compliment any fitness regimen or hobby.  Individual Training is tailored to your specific needs and all group classes are small (mostly less than five) allowing for individual attention.

Much of Pilates exercise requires you to look within, focus on your breathing, and feel the subtle differences within your body. Many people come to a very meditative state while doing Pilates, and therefore will grow mentally and spiritually over time through this type of exercise. By strengthening the postural muscles people have learned to maintain good posture thereby appearing taller.

Other benefits may include but not limited to…
Increased strength without unwanted bulk
Increased core strength, stability and peripheral mobility
Improved fitness levels which may help prevent injury
Greater ease of movement through a full range
Heightened body awareness and mindfulness of movement
Decreased impact on the joints
Added variety as a compliment to other forms of exercise
Improved performance of specific sport skills (golf, skiing, hockey, etc.)
Enhanced balance, coordination and circulation
Where can we find out more about taking classes?
On our website,

Why did you choose Highland Village for the location of your business?  
Highland Village is the perfect location for the Metro Jackson area for our Pilates studio. Located at Exit 100 of I-55, the address is so easy to describe and travel to from all directions. The shopping and restaurants available at Highland Village are second to none.  Highland Village also serves as host to many charity events which lends itself to such a positive environment.

What has been the most rewarding part of your business?
We strive to provide a stress-free environment, where individuals seek to feel better physically and have a better outlook for longevity of living.  Helping someone gain confidence and fitness strength is the greatest reward.

We’re certainly inspired! Big thanks to Sylvia! We look forward to making more frequent visits to that beautiful studio, and we bet you’re right there with us!

What’s Happening at The Village: Easter Fun!

DFM Logo JpegIf your family is looking for something fun to do this weekend in anticipation of Easter, Highland Village and The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi are co-sponsoring the annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 12.

The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi (DFM) hosts a variety of fun, educational events and programs throughout the year. From their annual Diabetes walks to the Mardi Gras-themed Bacchus Ball to certification events for teachers, the DFM is focused on educating people about diabetes, while raising the necessary funds to support its life-saving programs and services.

Originally started on a grassroots level by local physicians in the ‘60s, the DFM joined the national group, the American Diabetes Association, in the ‘70s. Several years later, the board of directors for the DFM decided to break away from the ADA and return the DFM to its local level of control. As a result, every donation raised stays in Mississippi to benefit those in need.

The Easter Egg Hunt is one of the DFM’s many events targeted specifically to children. It is held rain or shine! Eggs for children under the age of three will contain chocolate candy, tattoos and stickers.  For children ages four to six, eggs may also contain small toys. Carb Counting information will be available for the contents of the egg.

“Proceeds from the Easter Egg Hunt support our children’s programs including Camp Kandu, where we teach children and teens with diabetes that they can have a life without limits,” said Mary Fortune, DFM Executive Vice President.

A $5 donation includes the egg hunt and digital photos with the Easter Bunny. Registration and photos with the Easter Bunny begin at 10 a.m., with the hunt to follow.

The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi Annual Easter Egg Hunt

Who: The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi

What: 2014 Easter Egg Hunt

When: Saturday, April 12, 10 a.m.

Where: Highland Village Center Court. If it rains, the hunt will be held under cover near Ulmer’s Stride Rite.

Contact: For more information, please call the DFM at 1-877-DFM-CURE


What’s Happening at The Village: Merchant of Vino Now Open!

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The excitement of the state’s first Whole Foods Market hasn’t let up and this week’s opening of the market’s Merchant of Vino wine and spirits store is just icing on the fresh-baked cake.

Open Monday through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Merchant of Vino offers the best quality offerings for each and every budget. Kick off Spring with their selection of house made Bloody Mary mixes and simple syrups and enjoy a craft cocktail from the comfort of your own patio.


Community Partner: Mississippi Children’s Home Services

Screen shot 2014-03-31 at 12.09.17 PMBy Meg Annison

With the upcoming “Light the Spectrum: Transforming Autism” event happening on April 3 at Highland Village, we spoke to Kym Williams, Director of Public Relations at Mississippi Children’s Home Services (MCHS) – the organization that puts on this great event.

MCHS has done some evolving and expanding in the last 100 years since its inception in 1912. MCHS originally began with the intent to provide temporary homes for children until more permanent homes could be found. The organization gradually began to solidify its role as a voice for the poor and needy children of Mississippi. Services grew to offer programs to unwed mothers, provide group homes for adolescent girls, and include counseling programs for troubled teens. With all this change, a constant mission keeps the group focused.

“For over 100 years, we have proactively responded to the emerging needs of Mississippi’s children,” said Williams. “We still believe every child should be in a loving, permanent home.”

With that as their goal, MCHS offers community-based programs in all 82 counties to help meet these needs. These programs serve families and children using intensive home-based interventions.

“Our statewide services cover a comprehensive array of community-based, campus-based and educational services,” she said.

MCHS also serves children with Autism. Statistics from the CDC were released in late March stating that 1 in 68 children are on the Autism spectrum.  MCHS’s Mississippi Center for Behavioral Sciences offers services to individuals and schools for children on the Autism spectrum.

“There is a great need in the state for Autism services, especially early intervention,” said Williams. “The Mississippi Department of Medicaid has selected MCHS to pilot an early intervention program for children ages 18 months to 8 years who are on the Autism spectrum. Light the Spectrum: Transforming Autism will help MCHS raise funds for the services we offer to families and schools with children suffering from Autism as well as raise awareness of the growing needs of Mississippi’s children.”

Event: Light the Spectrum: Transforming Autism

What: Annual Light the Spectrum: Transforming Autism. Featuring Ghost Town Blues Band, a silent auction

When: April 3, 2014 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Where: Highland Village

Cost: $50

Contact: Mississippi Children’s Home Services at 601-352-7784, or visit

Community Partner: Stewpot Community Services, Inc.

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By Laurel Donahoo

On Monday April 7th, Highland Village will once again host the much-anticipated annual event Taste of Mississippi to benefit Stewpot. The event invites restaurants from all over the state to come together in Highland Village and offer samples of their best fare for hundreds of guests to enjoy. The food is voted on by a panel of judges and winners are announced at the end of the evening. The night of excitement and good eats raises money to support Stewpot, which many Jacksonians have heard about, but not many know exactly what Stewpot does!

Stewpot Community Services is a ministry that was started in 1981 by seven local churches in Jackson to provide the city’s needy and homeless with both physical and spiritual nourishment.  This was the birthplace of the Community Kitchen, which still to this day provides a healthy lunch for anyone – no questions asked – 365 days a year.  Because of the success of the Community Kitchen, Stewpot added another facet to their ministry to the needy in 1982: a Food Pantry, which provides groceries for carefully screened applicants.

Since 1982, Stewpot has opened multiple shleters: the Sims House, a shelter for women and children, The Billy Brumfield House, a shelter for homeless men, and Matt’s House, an emergency overnight shelter for women and children. Each home caters to specific needs of those who might be staying in them, and in most cases, requirements must be met in order for the residents to maintain their stay in one of the homes.

In addition to shelters, Stewpot has the Clothing Closet, Meals on Wheels, the Opportunity Center, Virginia’s Playhouse, and more! Information on all of these programs can be found on Stewpot’s website.

This organization relies on volunteers and donations to keep their ministry alive, so attending Taste of Mississippi will not only be a great opportunity for you and your family to taste some of the best of what our state has to offer, but you’ll also be helping keep Stewpot Community Services and their many, many ministries going! Go ahead and get your tickets now at!

The Dish: The Famous Fried Chicken at Julep Restaurant & Bar

julep chicken

By Laurel Donahoo

I love a good lunch date. When I can have a lunch date, it usually means I’m off work for the day, which is always a great feeling! While on my most recent lunch date, location: Julep, I was perusing the menu trying to make my selection when I saw a waiter pass by with a plate of their famous Fried Chicken…

I had gone in thinking I would keep it light with the Strawberry Pecan Salad, but when that plate of Fried Chicken whirred past me, I couldn’t help but veer from my original plan. I went all in and ordered the chicken… and my friend followed suit!

When the award-winning Fried Chicken landed on our table, we nearly both lost control! The smell wafting off of that divinely-brined-in-something-secret, topped-with-a-honey-rosemary-glaze chicken was a delight for the senses!

We asked what made the chicken so good, other than the brining and the glaze of course, and our waiter shared that the real secret was in the breading. Although he couldn’t tell us what was in that breading other than flour, salt, and pepper, he assured us that the chef assured him that it was something really great! Even the waiter didn’t know what the secret ingredient was!

Although most of the deliciousness housed in Julep’s Award-Winning Fried Chicken is under wraps, we know that this Southern secret has caught the attention of more than just Jacksonians. Yes, USA TODAY named Julep’s Fried Chicken as one of the top ten in the nation! The entire country!

I think that’s something that we should all be proud of. We have a national treasure sitting right here in our very own city! We don’t need to take this for granted, people!

Have you tried this cheered-about chicken? What do you think?!

Meet the Villagers: Mark Rich of Rich Perspectives

MarkMark Rich of Rich Perspectives does interesting things every day. Having found his home here in Jackson, he’s making his mark by helping businesses thrive. Come along as we sit down and catch up with Mark.

Tell us about yourself – where you’re from, what brought you to Jackson.
I was born in Decatur, Alabama and moved to Greenville, MS just before my eighth grade year with my mother and sister.  I attended Mississippi State University and graduated with a Bachelors in Landscape Architecture in 2001.   I accepted a job out of college with a Landscape Architectural firm in Nashville that subsequently fell through at the last minute (after I had signed a lease for an apartment), so I stayed.  I eventually found a job with a planning firm in Nashville.  While I was there, I started dating my future wife, Elizabeth Cope.   She decided she wanted to change careers and work in Physical Therapy so she applied and was accepted to the UMMC Physical Therapy program here in Jackson.  Shortly after she moved back to Jackson, I took a job with JBHM Architects and made the move as well.

Tell us about Rich Perspectives and what you do.
Rich Perspectives is an advertising agency of sorts.  A very small advertising agency (me).  However,  I often use the word “we” when I describe Rich Perspectives because I use contractors on a regular basis when things are jumping.   Rich Perspectives’ services are mainly divided into four categories:

  • 3D Visualization – High-end 3D renderings and/or animation.  We started out doing only architectural work, but now we dabble in product visualization as well. A subset of this service that we provide is 3D Camera Tracking.  This is where we combine real footage with virtual footage.  Check this link out to see an example. You probably recognize the parking lot.
  • Film – We just recently purchased a Canon EOS-C300 Video Camera which allows us to shoot some really nice video and interview footage.  We have done a few commercials (you might have seen the Highland Village Christmas spot), but our primary use for video is when we are creating capitol campaign videos, or promotional short films.
  • Graphic Design
  • Master Planning/Landscape Architecture  – I still enjoy Landscape Architecture and I have had opportunities to work on several projects lately.

The diversity in services allows us to provide small to mid-sized companies with high-level content at a fraction of the cost.  Major advertising agencies have major overhead and even then they usually have to farm out a service like 3D Visualization which increases cost to the client.  I am attempting to cut out those costs to the client by providing the majority of the services they need in house.  Obviously, I can’t cut out all of those costs, but more often than not we are able to at least reduce them substantially.
Here are a few links to videos we have created over the last couple of years.  Rich Perspectives Demo Reel  Mississippi Healthcare Corridor  800 Park

What sets Rich Perspectives apart from other companies of its kind?
That’s a tough question.  I think persistence maybe.  My father-in-law always says “persist without exception” and that is the attitude that I have tried to adopt, to never give up.  There have certainly been some times when I wanted to, especially during the recession, I mean look at the services we are providing…not exactly necessities, but I believe when God leads you to the Sea, He will make a way for you to get to the other side, and He has.  It hasn’t been easy, but I believe this is where God has placed me for now, and that makes it a lot easier to keep plugging.  My wife Elizabeth is another major reason why I am able to do what I do.  Without her there is no way I would be able to make this work.

How did you choose this type of content creation as your profession?
I have always been interested in presentation methods as it relates to architecture and landscape architecture.  I used traditional methods (pen, pencil, marker etc.) as did everyone else in college at that time, but while I was in Nashville, I started noticing a new method emerging.  I did some research and ended up purchasing a software called Lightwave 3d and proceeded teach myself how to use it.  Once I felt like I had a handle on it, I presented some of my work to my employer who then purchased the software.  I was able to use it at work.   It was at that point that I began to realize that this might be something I wanted to focus on.  I continued to use the software in Jackson, while I was with JBHM, and after a couple of years decided to take a chance on Rich Perspectives.

When you aren’t helping clients with communicating their visions, what might we find you doing?
If I’m not at work, I am more than likely either with my family ( I have a little boy, 6, and a little girl, 4, and another little boy on the way) or in the woods hunting.  I enjoy traveling as well.

What do you hope to see in your company’s future?
One of my good friends always gets on to me about not having a five year plan. I don’t have one, maybe one day I will sit down and write one out, but in the meantime my plan is to do the best that I can with what I have, and to continue to learn.  I enjoy the satisfaction that comes with knowing that I did my best, and that my client is pleased.  I enjoy being able to design and create, and I hope to be able to continue to provide those services.  One day I would love to have the opportunity to film a documentary. That has been a dream of mine for a few years now, and I’m always looking for interesting projects.
For more on the work of Rich Perspectives, click here.

The Dish: A Quiche for your Thoughts

We polled five Highland Village workers last week on their favorite Highland Village lunch spots. In doing so, it became pretty clear that a piece all about Crazy Cat Bakers’ (Ste. 173) quiche would result.

Three out of the five people could not get enough of Crazy Cat Bakers’ quiche and strawberry salad combo, which sells for $10.95.

Kathy Reid of Mon Ami Spa & Laser Center

Kathy Reid

Kathy Reid, Mon Ami Spa and Laser Center (Ste. 128), prefers the summer squash quiche. This flavor came about when the team at Crazy Cat Bakers was discussing their love of squash casserole during the holidays. They translated it into a quiche, and the rest is history.

“It’s just so darn good,” said Reid. “It’s different. We are all going to get it when they have it available.”







Sandra Weber & Sam Johnson

Sandra Weber & Sam Johnson



Sandra Weber and Sam Johnson of Inside Out (Ste. 178), agree that everything Crazy Cat Bakers serves is “fabulous.” But, Sam usually sticks with the Ham and Asparagus quiche, which we discovered is the restaurant’s original quiche creation.







Laura GIbson

Laura GIbson


Laura Gibson, A Daisy A Day (Ste. 194), leans toward the New Orleans style muffaletta version of the quiche.

“We just love supporting another local, small business,” she further said of her team’s regular trips to Crazy Cat Bakers.








We asked Crazy Cat Bakers Manager Jon Lansdale why all the fuss over the quiche.

“I’m always so surprised so many people like it,” he laughed. “I’m not the biggest quiche person. But, ours is different from most quiche in that it is thicker, fluffier. A French chef would probably not approve, but a good Southerner is going to like it.”

Crazy Cat’s very first quiche was the Ham and Asparagus quiche. “I have a love affair with country ham,” said Lansdale. “It has such great flavor.”

Thanks to this, you can always find the Ham and Asparagus quiche on the menu. The other selections rotate daily and depend on what ingredients the staff has on hand or can find at the local grocery stores or farmers markets.  A vegetarian option is always available, too.

And the salad, we can’t forget that. The strawberry salad that accompanies your choice of quiche is actually a recipe from a client, Lansdale told us. It’s comprised of fresh romaine, sliced strawberries, house-roasted butter toffee glazed almonds and a sweet and sour vinaigrette.

My own complaint in my research was that I’d just eaten lunch at home prior to setting out to poll people. Next time, I’m coming on an empty stomach and going to order soup…..just kidding….the quiche.

Let them eat (King) Cake!

Screen shot 2014-02-26 at 11.12.09 AMTo know them is to love them. It’s the season of king cakes! King cakes were originally a European celebratory treat during the Feast of Epiphany. These cakes were symbolic of the three kings who traveled to celebrate Christ’s birth. The baby you find tucked away in today’s king cakes were originally a bean or a trinket and represented the Christ child.

French and Spanish settlers brought the king cake tradition to the Southeast and now they are the crown jewel of Mardi Gras. The brioche-like bread smothered in frosting and sugar are a perfect treat this time of year!

The tradition of the baby hidden inside designated the person who received the slice containing the trinket as responsible for purchasing the next cake, creating a neverending flow of king cake!

If you were the lucky recipient of your last king cake’s baby or just really like this sugary goodness, visit Beagle Bagel Cafe today for a slice of history and fun!

Do it Yourself: Flank Steak Fajitas with Mango Chimichurri

Whole Foods has made it to Jackson with quite a bang! Now that you’ve explored the top-rated grocer, go in armed with recipes to make any night healthy and gourmet. Here’s one of our favorite dinners you can make at home with the help of Whole Foods Market!
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Flank Steak Fajitas with Mango Chimichurri
Serves 4

Mangoes make an appearance in both the sauce and garnish for these fajitas, adding plenty of sweet and tangy flavor. For a vegan version, substitute baked or grilled tofu for the steak.

  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 small red chile, chopped (remove seeds for a milder sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 mangoes, diced (about 2 cups), divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 (1 1/4-pound) flank steak
  • 8 corn tortillas, warmed

Place cilantro, parsley, oregano, garlic, chile, oil, half of the mango and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a blender; purée, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender. Pour into a small bowl.

Sprinkle steak with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Grill or pan-sear over medium-high heat until steak is nicely browned and reaches the desired doneness, 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Slice steak very thinly across the grain. Serve with chimichurri, remaining mango and tortillas for diners to roll their own fajitas.

Nutritional Info:
Per Serving:430 calories (150 from fat), 17g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 90mg cholesterol, 590mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate (5g dietary fiber, 12g sugar), 35g protein
Special Diets:

Note: We’ve provided special diet and nutritional information for educational purposes. But remember — we’re cooks, not doctors! You should follow the advice of your health-care provider. And since product formulations change, check product labels for the most recent ingredient information.