Dec 312010
 

day 5

Since I first decided that I would be cutting back on the amount of television I watch in the new year, I have felt myself begin to change. I have noticed that I haven’t been searching for the remote, and I am filling my evenings with other activities than TV viewing.  This excites me, as I believe it’s a sure sign that I am making this decision for the right reason – because I want to – and not because I “fell like I should.”

Instead of re-watching episodes of Criminal Minds I’ve seen 5 times, I’ve been relaxing in other ways at my apartment each evening.  I finished a book [that I started in may], I spent time cooking soup [to load up my freezer], and I’ve been going through my large collection of unread magazines.

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I currently subscribe to four magazines; Martha Stewart Living, Family Fun, Fitness, and, thanks to my friend Laura who gifted me with it, Whole Living [formerly Body & Soul].  As I was reading through the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living, I found myself making a mental list of actions to consider in 2011. 

I always find inspiration on blogs, and I just love finding motivation, ideas, and tips for new things to try from print media, too!  Here’s a few things that MSL pointed me to add to my 2011 consideration list.

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Page 30: Action to consider: Infusing my own vodka. 
I had thought about doing this before, after seeing one of my favorite foodie bloggers, Taylor, make bubble gum vodka and a BIG KID cocktail, but after seeing MSL’s awesome list of infusions, I started daydreaming about my own THS approved flavor combinations.  I am excited to get experimental in my liquor cabinet! 

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Page 112: Action to consider: Bake bread.
Confession: When Heather, Julie, and Evan hosted Macaroon Monday to encourage getting adventurous in the kitchen, facing the battle of the recipes you always feared, I thought about bread.  But I let fear win, and I didn’t even allow the thought to become words in vocal or written form.  I just moved on, pretending not to notice the dozens of bloggers trying their hands at what had previously intimidated them.

Coming across Life of a Loaf in MSL pushed me to reconsider.  Not only does Chad Robertson share his basic loaf recipe, but also 7 recipes in which to use the bread for the following week.  The article highlights what kind of recipes are best with fresh bread, day old bread, and week old bread.  I am a thrifty chick that doesn’t like to waste food, so the idea of being able to use the bread in several ways, for several days, was really appealing to me.  I may just need to take the bread baking leap.

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Page 133: Action to consider: Adopt more.
MSL has a list of “10 feel-good things to do this January and all year long” which fit perfectly in my unintentional search for inspiration.  One of the items on the list (#9) was a favorite; learn one activity each month which takes concentration and coordination, such as knitting, hula hooping, juggling, etc.  I love the plan of giving your brain a work out as you learn new activities and will definitely be on the look out for new activities I can try!

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Do you still read any print media?  What magazines, newspapers, and journals do you most find inspiration and ideas from?

Consider a Job Hunt

 Posted by at 12:39 am  Ramblings
Dec 302010
 

day 4

Hi Then Heather Said readers. My name is Liane, and I blog over at Please Bring Wine.

As the days wind down in 2010, many people start setting goals for the upcoming year. Last year, my big goal was to move to a new city, and to make that happen, I had to do a lot of job searching. I am by no means an expert but I thought I could share with you some of my finer ideas.

- Approach your job search LIKE a job. Set aside time each day (or every couple of days) to search through the new opportunities posted and bookmark, print, or email to yourself postings that are of interest to you. If an organization will email you when new positions matching your criteria, take advantage of that!

- It make take some time before organizations get back to you, so make sure you keep a copy of the position postings as you find them. Make a folder in your email or on your computer to hold the copies of the job postings.

- Maintain an inventory, by spreadsheet or regular word document, of websites that post job opportunities in the career field/area of interest to you and in the location you are willing to work.

My spreadsheet contains:

  • the name of the organization;
  • the direct link to their career site (nothing frustrates me more than organizations that hide the career section in some far off corner of their websites. If it takes me more than 6 clicks of my mouse to find your career section, that’s 5 clicks too many);
  • username and password if the organization uses an online application process that requires registration;
  • any additional information I might know about the organization. Do they post jobs on a regular schedule, i.e once per week? If so, list the day. Do you have friends or acquaintances that work(ed) there, what is their “insider information”?

How to build the organizations/websites on your inventory:

  • Large employers in the area, different government levels (federal, provincial/state, municipal, cities), Universities and Colleges, School Boards, Health Sector, etc…
  • Organizations on your “wish” list. Places you would love to work for, whatever the industry sector. I have about 5 organizations on my wish list. Seriously, I’d work stamping envelopes, just hire me! please!
  • Websites like workopolis or monster are good, but can be overwhelming. I tend to use their advanced searching options and limit my search to the past three days (or whatever period since I’ve last searched).
  • Depending on your area of interest, there may be sites that compile postings from a pool of employers. I have an interest in working for a non-profit and visit Charity Village as one of my thrice weekly searches. Health organizations tend to work together and post all their jobs on one site, this in turn reduces the amount of websites you need to keep track of.
  • Top Employer Awards compiled by magazines or newspapers. Um, hi, the news organization just did the legwork for you in regards to employment perks and offerings. In Canada, there is a yearly list of Top 100 Employers. And then there is a Top 50 list by Province.
  • Find out who the major placement agencies are in the area and link to their posting sections. Most placement agencies have a temporary and permanent jobs available, and may have different sites for each.

I know, the whole process seems overwhelming and daunting. I can honestly say that keeping everything organized and on a schedule has reduced job searching stress. Really.

When organizations call you for an interview, you aren’t blinding going to interviews not knowing what you are in for. Being able to reference back to the posting gives you ideas as to what kinds of questions to ask them during the interview and you can reference the research you did on their organization when answering their questions.

Of course, nothing will prepare you for a fire alarm in the middle of your interview but, if all else fails, laughter and a couple glasses of red wine help immensely ;)
If anyone has any specific questions, I’d be happy to answer them as best I can. Email me at runningforwine@gmail.com

Dec 292010
 

day 3

This morning, while driving to work, I started thinking about my trip to Florida last January.  This was mostly because I was envisioning myself enjoying the sun and surf and 80-ish degrees instead of the frozen tundra I’m currently dealing with.  My mind began ruminating over the little farm stands that dotted the roads along Cocoa Beach, where my husband and I stayed, filled with delicious citrus fruit that were in the peak of their season. I’d never tasted OJ and oranges like that before, and I couldn’t believe the oranges were the same fruit as the orange-colored balls I occasionally get at home in upstate NY.

Incomparable.  I made sure I snuck about 20lbs of fruit home with me (and one Disney ornament) when we flew back.

 

Hiya! I’m Chelle from Crunchy Chelle. I’m a wannabe farmer without much land of my own (I “rent” a plot in a community garden) who is slightly obsessed with eating locally. I look at it as a way of improving my footprint on this earth, supporting my community, and investing in its future. In other words, I’m a locavore. I’ve heard the word used a lot lately, and it always seems to sound like a person who’s trying to be trendy; an elitist yuppie, participating in the fad-of-the moment. Not me! I’m just an average person making an average living who’s been trying to eat locally for the last three years and loves good food. And good food is local.

Until just the past few generations, people ate predominantly local all their lives. They ate with the seasons, and getting an orange for Christmas was one of the best things all year. Now I know that oranges at Christmas were so good because winter is citrus season! In today’s world, we can have an orange for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, today, tomorrow, next week, next month, whenever we want. People call that progress. But sometimes, I’m not so sure. Three years ago, I literally had no idea that oranges had a season, or that apples did as well. Carrots, and lettuce – what do you mean they’re not grown year round? But as I started learning about the seasons, I realized two things:

1) You can’t always get what you want, BUT

2) When you do, it’s friggin’ DELICIOUS.

In the US, food on average travels 1500 miles from farm to plate. If you live in the Northeast, odds are it’s been shipped closer to 3000 miles. In order to get those Californian strawberries in the middle of the winter, millions of gallons of fossil fuels are used, to both grow, ship, and maintain that perfectly red, perfectly shaped berry. But when you pop it in your mouth, it tastes like water.

On the other hand, if you were to go strawberry picking at a local Pick-Your-Own (PYO) farm on a sunny day in June, your mouth will burst with the juicy sweetness as it explodes on your tongue.

Local foods taste so much better! They haven’t been bred to look as pretty, or last 2 weeks after being picked, which makes them lose their flavor. But they also don’t use as much fuel to grow. And I can preserve them, by drying, freezing and canning the ones I couldn’t possibly eat before rotting. That way, I can enjoy them ALL YEAR at their peak of freshness.

 

I’ve been reading Leda Meredith’s new book, The Locavore’s Handbook: The Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Local on a Budget, and she gives 10 great reasons to eat local.

WHY YOU SHOULD EAT MORE LOCALLY

1. Use less fossil fuels Buying 25% of your groceries from local farmers for a year lowers your carbon footprint by 225lbs! A regional diet actually uses 17 times less oil and gas than one of non-local food.

2. Better taste Food today is bred to handle being able to be shipped thousands of miles and sit on shelves for a longer time. Many fruits available in grocery stores are picked under ripe purposely and then chemically ripened to look ready to eat. Local foods are cultivated more for their flavor and not their shelf life. They are harvested at their peak of ripeness to be consumed right away or preserved for later.

3. Higher nutritional value In the last 35 years, the vitamin and mineral content of many fruits and veggies have dropped precipitously, according to the USDA. Broccoli has lost 50% of its calcium, watercress, 88% of its iron, and cauliflower is down 40% in Vitamin C, since only 1975! As Michael Pollan wrote:

“…you now have to eat three apples to get the same amount of iron you would have gotten from a single 1940 apple.”

By eating locally, you get food from soils that are much healthier than those from huge conventional agribusiness. In addition, the shorter the time from harvest to eating, the fewer the nutrients that are lost.

4. Greater biodiversity 96 % of commercial vegetable varieties have gone extinct in the last 100 yrs. This is because large-scale commercial growers breed out traits that are not as good for shipping cross country, or won’t last long enough to get to your plate. But in doing so, they also breed out taste, genetic diversity, and disease resistance. Small farms can grow heirloom varieties that can only be grown on a small level, like they used to be before the 1950s.

5. Safer food Do you remember the egg recall that recently happened? How about the spinach recall from last year? 100% of the food-related scares of the last few decades are the result of industrial agriculture. By knowing exactly where your food comes from, you know the condition your fruits and veggies, meat, dairy and eggs grow in, and can buy accordingly.

6. Support the local economy Times are tough and it’s good to keep your money local. Money spent on local food is nearly twice as likely to be reinvested within the local economy than money spent at a chain supermarket.

7. Invest in your community I love talking to people at my community garden or at the farmers market. They’re people from all walks of life, who’ve taught me a lot about how to grow certain veggies, given me garlic or tomatoes from their own plots, or asked about something I bought from a certain vendor the week before. In this day and age when so many of us stay cocooned in our safe little nests of home, work, and school, these conversations are a lifeline to diversity and getting out of your comfort zone at times.

8. Preserve farmland Topsoil in the Midwest farm belt is so depleted and polluted that within a generation safe food may not be able to be produced there. Small farms restore their soils instead of depleting them like conventional agriculture does, since huge agribusiness relies on tons of chemicals and pesticides to be able to grow the amount of food they do.

9. Connect to nature and the seasons Because I garden, you can find me outdoors nearly every weekend from early March through January. Buy eating locally, I’ve learned the agricultural calendar and when certain foods taste the best. I’ve put in onion slips in early April and dug up the last of our mulched carrots in January, figured out that I can’t seem to get my tomatoes to be ready when my lettuce is (oh when will I get my perfect salad?), and feasted on heirloom watermelon in late August/early September. I love getting dirt under my fingernails and feeling a connection to those green beans I sprayed myself with all natural pesticide (soapy water) and picked Mexican bean beetles off of.

10. Support local farmers When is the last time you talked to someone at your supermarket for more than a few seconds? At the farmers market, I’ve been able to learn so much about my farmers’ business and personal lives. Seth, my dairy farmer, has let me bring the money for my milk the next week if I’m down a few bucks this week. John, who sold us our quarter cow, and my husband are both life-long Jets fans who have long discussions about the team every week. Phil, my egg farmer, invited us over to his farm and let us ride his ATVs around the place. These are the people who help me to feel even more a part of where I live, who make me feel really proud to call the Capital District my home. Their land feeds me, and I support them. It’s win-win, for everyone.

Before you think that I’m a purist, let me tell you that I definitely am not. I go out to eat regularly. I occasionally buy prepackaged foods. I would never turn down something non-local made by friends of ours. But I wanted to share with you both my passion and love for local foods. In my little way, I’m doing something I can do and also selfishly getting something back for it – personal relationships; tasty food. I would encourage anyone to take some small step towards eating locally in whatever way they can. Even a small switch can have a major impact, not only on this earth, not only for yourself, but for your community as well.

Thanks for reading!

launder

Note: Check out Michelle’s etsy store, Launder with Love for all natural, fragrance-free, dye free home and bath products.  Also, be sure to check out the Launder with Love giveaway Heather is featuring on a little etsy love this week.