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Finding grass-fed meat near you

Anyone who's read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food or The Omnivore's Dilemma knows how much better for us grass-finished, pastured meat, cheese, milk, and eggs are. But in this day and age of factory farms and subsidized corn, where does one go to get these products.

Well, there are some Health Food stores that carry meat and dairy products, but those stores are often very expensive. There are also often farmer's markets where some of these products can be found, but if you don't know where your local farmer's market is, how do you find it? And if you don't have a farmers market near by, or a health food store you're willing or able to support, is there anything you can do? Are there farms near you that might have these products, that might even deliver them to you, and if so, how would you find them?

Never fear, my friends, I have the answers to these questions:

Eat Wild . com and Local Harvest . org

I don't know about other states, but the options for me here in Michigan are quite lovely. Let me know what you find out for your area; I'm curious.


We're all in sales

Someday, I am going to own a business.

I've know this for many years, and although I don't know what kind of business it is going to be, I know that I will have it, and have therefore been gathering data about businesses, both large and small, and just generally expanding my resource pool.

In that vein, I've been reading many blogs about business and personal development. An blog post by Pamela Slim, in her blog Escape from Cubicle Nation, linked me to an article in Fast Company titled The Brand Called You. Reading through it, it makes me realize, not for the first time, that each and every one of us is a sales person. Whether we're college students, middle managers, entrepreneurs, high powered CEOs, or just working to pay the bills, we're all selling something: us.

If you go in for a job interview, you are selling yourself, your "brand", as Tom Peters, the author of "The Brand Called You", puts it. Every day of your job, or in your life, you are promoting and selling yourself, and how well you do depends on how good a salesperson you are.

I find it interesting to have discovered this article now, at this moment in my life, because I am currently working as a server in a fast-paced restaurant (Red Robin), where my livelihood depends not only on my ability to sell food and drink to our "guests" but also on my ability to market myself as a good employee and a capable person so that I will be given more shifts, and allowed to work longer hours.

If I can sell the food well, and the guests enjoy it, their bill is bigger, and my potential tip is bigger.

If I can sell myself to my employer, then my potential for tables is greater.

All of this is pretty common-sensical, and I'd thought about it before, but I'd never had it solidify for me the way it did when I finished reading "The Brand Called You."

One section that I found particularly compelling was this:

    [The traditional career is] over. No more vertical. No more ladder. That's not the way careers work anymore. Linearity is out. A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It's full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.) A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, grow your colleague set, and constantly reinvent you as a brand.

I like it so much because that's the way I feel about my "career" (if you will) thus far. Since graduating from college , I have held seven jobs, often two at a time. Sure, I could argue that it was just what I had to do to pay the bills, but I were making that argument, I could easily have stayed with job #4, the Fabric store, where I was doing relatively well, working 30 or so hours a week. But there was no strategy to that. There was nothing more to be learned at that job, nothing more to be gained from continuing to work there. They had already told me that they weren't interested in promoting me to assistant manager (as I was planning to move out of state in just over a year), so I chose to make a lateral move, from "customer service representative" at the fabric store to "administrative assistant" at a tailor shop.

I was with the fabric store for a little over a year. I was with the tailor shop for almost six months. Many of my jobs have that sort of time frame. Some people might think that moving around that much is a little flighty, but to me it's only logical. If there is no room to gain greater responsibility or to learn new aspects of the company, then it's time to move on. Sometimes I move laterally, or even backwards, but every move gives me that much more knowledge about business, that much more information about myself, what kind of employee I am, and what kind of employer I want to be.

It's a bright, beautiful world out there, and I'm hop-skipping my way across the checkerboard of life.

For those curious, a few of the other blogs I'm following are: Steve Pavlina: Personal Developement for Smart People, I Will Teach You To Be Rich from Ramit Sehti, and How to Change the World from Guy Kawasaki.

The story of *my* Two Weeks Notice

So, I fell off the face of livejournal for a few weeks there. Yikes, but when real life hits, it hits HARD.

What was I up to? Well, I'm so glad you asked.

In short, I was working three jobs as I gave notice at one restaurant job, started training at another, and worked to build a show at the theatre in two weeks instead of three.

The nitty gritty detailsCollapse )

The detailed schedule of the two weeks of crazyCollapse )

It was pretty intense, and after two weeks of three jobs and going non-stop for ten to twelve hours a day, I am freaking sore.

I'm not actually here....

...Just more likely to be here than not here. :D

No real update at this time. I'm a little overwhelmed with real life at the moment.

I just wanted to pop in to say, Happy Birthday, exegesis! So maybe it's almost tomorrow where you are, but the sentiment remains. I hope today is (was?) the happiest of days for you, and that you are having fun, gearing up for "winter."

I'm sorry I've been out of touch. I miss talking to you.




Update AFTER the wedding

So clearly the subject line is a lie, because I updated right after the wedding to announce that the wedding happened.

But that was all that I said in that update, so it doesn't really count. ... Work with me.

Life has returned to normal. My lovely family all went home, leaving our house cleaner, neater, and chock full of booze. As far as I'm concerned, my family can come visit any time they want. Heh.

Work is work. Life is life. Being married is ... not really any different. (What do you want from me? we were dating for SIX AND A HALF YEARS before we tied the knot. How different can it be?) I still get a kick out of saying "My husband," which is kind of fun. And um... Ooh! Paying the bills is easier with our shiny new joint account. Oh, and changing your name, HUGE hassle.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm excited about being Mrs. T, but ... my bank still hasn't sent the new cards and checks, my driver's license isn't here yet, I never know what to sign on papers and receipts... it's just difficult. At the moment, anyway. It'll be much easier in, say, a month, when all the dust has settled and everyone has psuedo adjusted to the new name. *shrugs* As with many things in life, I've just got to wait it out.

Next big project? Moving. If any of you out there have good "pack it up and ship it out" methods, madnesses, etc., I'd be stoked to hear about them. I'm really good at being organized for others, but when it comes to my own stuff... *shakes head* You'd think I'd have this down by now, having moved so often in the last five years. But this time we're moving much further, and I want to make sure things are very organized. I can do organized, I just need a good system. So... four-ish months and counting. Who's got some advice?

Anyone? Anyone?

... Bueller?

So, yeah, like I said. Wedding happened. Pictures, for those interested in looking at lots of dressed-up people they've never met, are here. Life continues apace. And moving. Oh there will be moving. I'm so exited!! I can't wait for it to finally warm up so I can start packing the winter clothes. :D

Of weddings and stuff.

I am married. Woah. I've been a Mrs. for... three days, six hours, and 24 minutes. :D Closer to three days, three hours if you consider that we didn't sign the marriage license until around 6 pm. :P

If anyone was wondering why I fell off the face of the planet... well, now you have your answer.

The best part? Presents.

Seriously, we just took our wedding cash to the stores at which we were registered and came home with just over $1300 is awesome stuff. God, I love being a materialist in a capitalistic society.

Ask me if I still feel this way in four months when we move. *wry*

Life is pretty damn good right now. I'm gonna go snuggle with my husband.

I made dinner tonight, and it was awesome

As the title says. And it was.

I had a slow day at work today. I love it when the boss decides that he wants something done, and then won't tell me how to do it. *rolls eyes* Needless to say, I got to leave early. So, on my way home, I stopped by the grocery store. I've had a hankering for some pie recently and I decided I was going to make cherry pie.

And then, while I was at the store, I decided that, if I was making pie, I might as well make oven fried chicken (I just learned the recipe from my mom while in Colorado) and oven roasted vegetables.

So I picked up a whole chicken (I just learned how to deconstruct one from my aunt, while in Colorado), a few parsnips (my favorite root vegetable), and the makings for cherry pie, and I went home.

I successfully took apart my chicken, which was messy, slippery, and involved a short call to said aunt to remind myself how to separate the breasts from the ribcage. (Apparently you just cut them apart, very carefully, as close to the bones as you can get. *shrugs*) But it was fun, and I re-learned how incredibly awesome my Joy of Cooking is.

Chicken dissected, I put the breasts and tenders in a bag to be frozen for later use, as well as the back, the giblets, and various other spare pieces, which will someday become chicken stock. Awesome. With the thighs, drumsticks, and wings ready for breading, I set about making the breading for my mom's "famous" (I think it's damn good, so I'll call it famous if I want to) oven fried chicken .

Mom's Oven-Friend ChickenCollapse )

Once the chicken was in the oven, I set about cutting up my vegetables. I used half of a butternut squash, since I had one lying about, two of the aforementioned parsnips, half of a large red onion, some "getting too old" aspargus, and about six cloves of garlic, whole. You could also use potatoes (red or white), sweet potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts, etc. If you like it, and it's a vegetable (other than lettuce, probably), it would most likely taste good.

Oven-Roasted VegetablesCollapse )

And then, it was time for pie. I started with the crust, for which I used my mom's "Pretty Great Pie Crust" recipe.

Pretty Great Pie CrustCollapse )

Of course, if I had been paying attention when I bought the can of Oregon "Pitted Tart Cherries - in water", I would have realized that I need at least two cans (three might even have been better) for my pie. Having made Ben stop on the way home from work to get "Quick Cooking" or "Minute" Tapioca for the pie filling, I felt very bad about making him go out to get me another can of cherries. But, being the wonderful man that he is (and pie is a good motivator) he went anyway.

When he came back with cherries, it was just in time for me to realize that the sugar I had purchased at the grocery store earlier, never made it home with me. I couldn't very well make him go back to the store again, so I did the uncommon, and I ran across the street to one of the very nice older couples living in the condos across the way, and begged for a cup and a half of sugar. The little old lady was very sweet, and I am definitely going to get her some more sugar tomorrow, since she refused a piece of pie.

Ingredients acquired, I set about making my pie filling.

My favorite cherry pie fillingCollapse )

And there you have it, a delicious dinner and dessert. I will say, I used a 2 1/2 lb. roasting bird and, with out the breasts, it made enough food for Ben and I (we were both hungry). If you're serving more than two, you probably want to use the breasts (cut in half for faster cooking) or use another bird. My mom usually gets thighs and makes those, so it's up to you.

And now, full of pie and good food, I bid you all good night.

It just occurred to me...

... how much of a dork I am.

I just got finished balancing my checkbook, and it actually balanced. And on the first try no less! *dances* The fact that I get a little thrill from having accomplished that proves how silly I am. (In my defense, due to some unknown error on my part that I couldn't trace, my checkbook wouldn't balance for almost a year. Not off by much, but by enough to bother me. I changed my methods of keeping track, and it's balanced these last two months. I feel very accomplished.)

In other news, I've been working on wedding planning / organization stuff all day, and it's all coming together nicely. 29 days 'til we get hitched. *bites nails*

I'm going to say everything is going to be just fine, and I might actually believe it. And even if it's not fine, I'm the only one who will ever know, so it doesn't matter, right? *laughs*

Now, I think I'm going to go watch a movie and fold laundry while I wait for Ben to come home. Good times.
I started this post about ten hours ago, and then realized I didn't know enough about the topic of universal health care to discuss it intelligently, so spent the rest of the day reading and researching.

The end result: I now have two crusades (if you will): Primary/Secondary Education Reform, and Universal Health Care. I'm not sure I'll live long enough to accomplish both goals, but there they are.

I caught the final two-thirds of the documentary SiCKO at Ben's parent's house last night, and unlike most of Michael Moore's films (which fill me with the desire to hurl things at the television due to their inaccuracies and comments taken out of context), I found myself watching raptly, my sarcastic cynicism at the ready but for the most part silent.

When the film ended, I found myself incensed on behalf of all of the Americans who have to live with the burden of disease, temporary or chronic, or the fear of illness or medical emergency because they have either no insurance, or too little insurance.

I know the arguments against universal health care, but the fact of the matter is we're one of the only (if not the only, as Wikipedia claims) wealthy, industrialized nation that doesn't provide universal health care. And that strikes me as wrong. Some argue that health care isn't a right, and therefore is not something that the government should provide, but I disagree. I don't know that I'd go so far as to call health care an inalienable right, as some have, but I think that it is certainly in the best interest of a nation, and a government, to make sure that it's people are healthy and well-educated. Of course, as Tony Benn pointed out in the interview he gave Michael Moore, "An educated, healthy, and confident nation is harder to govern," so maybe not.

The biggest reason that I'm working toward universal health care for Americans is that, but for the grace of god, I could easily be one of many who were bankrupted by medical bills.

My health care almost-nightmareCollapse )

The point of my tale is that being in the position to need medical care, but to be unable to pay for what you need, sucks, and it happens every day, in every part of the country, and I doubt there are many who can say they had their debts wiped away the way I did.

So yeah, universal health care. I'm all for it.

The form of universal health care that I'm in favor of is a single-payer system, which is similar to the systems set up in Canada and England. It would provide coverage for all age groups, and include dental, long-term care, prescriptions (for free or for a low set fee - in England they pay seven pounds, which is about fourteen dollars), and comprehensive mental health care. Hospitals would be non-profit, physicians would be paid / reimbursed on a fee-for-service basis, and the money from it would come out of either income tax, or a special national health care tax, much like social security. [Pulled from a paper on "Health Care Reform", which I highly recommend.]

A lot of people balk at the idea of increased taxes, because most people are barely able to eek by on what they make after-taxes now. But here's the way I look at it: we'd all have a lot less personal debt (never mind stupid use of credit cards), and therefore a lot less that we had to spend our paychecks on, if we weren't paying out the nose for medical insurance, medical care, and prescriptions. I mean, isn't relief from the worry about and fear of devastating hospital bills worth a few extra dollars out of your paycheck? Isn't the knowledge that we'd all be healthier and happier, and in the end spending a lot less money, worth a tax increase?

An article in the LA Times last year stated that "[a rise in] deductibles could prompt cash-strapped workers to think twice about visiting a doctor, and healthcare experts have long argued that people who avoid treatment end up having bigger medical problems – at greater cost – later." And that higher cost would then get passed on to the rest of us as more expensive premiums and unhealthier friends and neighbors.

One of the really interesting points raised in the discussion Ben's step-dad and I had after the film was that if we, as a country, didn't have to worry about educational debt and didn't have to worry about medical bills, we would hardly notice an increase in the taxes taken from our income, because we would be able to live comfortably on the income we were taking in.

I doubt that this country will ever get to a point where college education is free (would be nice, though, wouldn't it), but even with my student loans, if I didn't have medical bills to worry about, I'd be coming home with at least half of my income. That's not great, but it's a hell of a lot better than my current debt-to-income ratio of 70%. (That's from student loans, a car loan, and two credit cards. One credit card carries a balance from car repairs that I had no other means to pay for, and the other carries a balance for dental work that I had no other means to pay for. Fortunately the second has no interest so long as I keep making my minimum payments.) I couldn't own a huge, expensive house with flat screen tvs in every room and five luxury sedans in the garage, but I could definitely live comfortably. And who really needs all that stuff anyway?

Just as a side note, one of the most interesting parts of Michael Moore's documentaries was his interview with Tony Benn about universal health care in Great Britain, part of which I quoted above.

Some of it, transcribedCollapse )

I know there's a lot of opposition to universal health care, and several differing view points on how it should be achieved, but I think it is a worthwhile goal, which I intend to do all in my power to achieve.

"Never underestimate the ability of a small group of committed individuals to change the world. Indeed, they are the only ones who ever have." ~ Margaret Mead

And I return from my wanderings...

Well, two weeks (give or take a day) out in Colorado and I have returned safely home with a completed wedding dress. There are pictures (more coming as soon as my mom manages to upload them and send them to me), but I'm trying to figure out how to show the interested parties without also showing Ben.

I think the easiest thing would be, if you want to see dress pictures, send me an email at ferret . kitty at yahoo . com and I'll email you with the link. ^_^ I feel all sneaky and stuff.

Spending the time out in Colorado was awesome. I can't wait to be out there permanently. I got to hang out with my cousins and see my mom and my sister and all my aunts and uncles and it was great. And, I got to learn some of my mom's trade (dress making) from her first hand. I now know how to fit a dress to someone (okay, really only me, but I think I could do it for someone else) and have it work out the first time. ^_^ And I learned how to underline a garment and add a ruffle and make piping and put in boning and... yeah. It was fun.

The dress took about 40 hours (unless you count my mom's and my time separately, and then it's probably about 50), but it was so much fun. We even had time to go skiing one day, which was great. My step-dad re-taught me how to ski and I only fell down nine or ten times in the course of about four hours. My mom was really impressed that I lasted for four hours on my first day skiing in more than three years, but I was just having so much fun I didn't want to stop. By the end of the day I was having trouble convincing my legs to do what my brain wanted them to do, and I was useless afterwards, but it was still fun.

But now I'm home, back to reality. I have a few more wedding type things to do tonight, and then I'm going to vedge on the couch and completely ignore the kitchen and the bedroom, in which dishes need to be washed and clothes need to be laundered, respectively. I traveled for almost twelve hours today, and while there were no mishaps or delays, it was still a long day and I'm tired. So there. :D


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May 2009


Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.

Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?

Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.

Fennyman: How?

Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery.
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