Posts tagged featured
how to survive a zombie attack
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The recent flesh-eating incidents in Miami and Maryland may have you wondering. The zombie preparedness kits issued by the CDC may have you questioning. But believe me, Dear Reader, zombies are real*. They are already here. And… they’re coming to get you, Barbara. You may have even had a few run-ins with zombies already and survived those incidents based on nothing but sheer luck. Well, let me tell you, luck isn’t gonna get you to the end of the movie with all your limbs still intact. Know-how will. So, since I’d like to see you on the other side of the closing credits, I thought I’d share these 10 tips for surviving a zombie attack (aka, 10 tips for dealing with the people and situations that suck the life out of you).

 

  1. Learn How to Identify a Zombie

Aka, ‘What You Don’t Know, Might Eat You’. Some folks find it difficult to spot zombies since zombies kinda look like everybody else. But it’s actually pretty simple to identify a zombie once you know how. Zombies move very, very slowly and they stumble and stagger about without any sense of where they’re going. They always seem dazed. Everything that comes out of their mouths is either a foul, disgusting mess or incoherent babble. If you find yourself in the company of someone like this, you might be chopping it up with a zombie. No need to excuse yourself. Just bounce.

 

  1. Don’t Go Where Zombies Go

This can be difficult to adhere to, since zombies can be almost anywhere. But there are certain places that zombies seem to have particular affinities for, such as: places where there’s not a lot of intelligent life around (like graveyards and shopping malls); Dark, smelly places (like graveyards or strip clubs); and places where there are a lot of plump, slow-moving humans to feed on (like crappy Chinese-food buffets and South Florida). Try to stay clear of these places as much as possible.

 

  1. Wear Protective Gear

Even in their decaying state, zombies seem to have pretty strong choppers. They can chomp right through bone, flesh, and organs. A full-body suit of impenetrable armor probably isn’t practical, but you can minimize your risk by protecting your most vulnerable spots from suspected zombies, namely:

  • Your head / brain – brains are zombie delicacies, remember?
  • Chest/heart – without your heart, you’re useless
  • Feet / hands – the two things that will allow you to either escape or fight off a zombie

 

  1. Learn to Use a Weapon

Doesn’t matter if it’s a rifle, a pickaxe, a bow and arrow, or a slingshot. Get skilled at using something to defend yourself against the zombies when you can no longer outrun them. And the # 1 weapon you should learn to use? Your brain. It’s the one thing they’re after and the one thing you’ve got that they don’t.

 

  1. Keep a Light on You

Zombies hate fire. Make sure you always have something on you (or in you) that burns brightly enough to send them scurrying away like roaches.

 

  1. Go to a Deserted Island

Aka, ‘Go to Your Happy Place’. You ever seen a zombie swim? Me either. Find a place in the middle of a vast, deep ocean that the zombies can’t reach.

 

  1. Get a Redneck Friend

If, during your zombie-fighting adventures, you encounter someone who regularly wears a cowboy hat or boots, speaks with a Southern twang, or sounds un-self-conscious saying the word ‘y’all’, stick to that joker like white on rice. A good redneck friend can be just what you need to help you survive in zombie land. They generally know how to make do in the worst of circumstances without letting it get them down; They’ve likely been shooting and killing things since they were knee-high to a Junebug; and they’re pretty much guaranteed to have a kick-ass batch of moonshine one them, which you’re probably gonna need to take the edge off. Just be sure to make sure your redneck buddy isn’t a zombie before you ride off into the sunset together.

how-to-survive-in-zombieland

 

  1. Travel in a Group

It can get lonely in zombie land. So, if you can, find some like-minded non-zombies to keep you company. You’ve got the added benefit of safety in numbers, and you can even share strategies for zombie survival with one another. And remember, if and when the zombies attack, you don’t have to outrun the zombies, you just have to outrun your slowest friend.

 

  1. Be Ruthless

As I mentioned earlier, zombies kinda look like everybody else. In fact, a zombie could be someone you thought you knew. Sure, that re-animated corpse looks like your Great Aunt Thelma, but it’s actually a brain-eating pile of rotting flesh. The zombie apocalypse is no time for being overly sentimental. If Aunt Thelma starts trying to nibble on your brains, don’t get all weepy and start screaming, “Why Aunt Thelma? Why!!??” Do both of you a favor, and put her out of her misery.

 

  1. If All Else Fails, Blend In!

Yes, I know I said you shouldn’t go where zombies go, but in the off chance that you find yourself surrounded by them with no immediate way out, blend in. It’s pretty easy to fake like a zombie. Anybody with half a brain could do it (refer back to #1 if you’re not sure). Just be very careful with this tactic and use it only when you have no other choice. Because the longer you pretend to be a zombie, the more likely you are to end up a zombie.

 

*Of course, I don’t really believe in zombies. And neither does the CDC, in case you were wondering. But we’ve all encountered people who made you question that belief. You know them. People who drain your energy, people who’d chew you up and spit you out and think nothing of it, or just people who seem to be wandering aimlessly about in life without a thought for you or even for themselves. It helps to have some strategies for dealing with those kinds of people or situations, and I hope this tongue-in-cheek list of tips not only gave you something to laugh at, but also something to think about.

 

Also – If you’re looking for a little break from zombies, I’m helping to coordinate a ‘get away from it all’ trip next month in the great outdoors. There will be rafting (no zombies in the water), hiking and camping (essential redneck stuff), and of course, a campfire (zombies hate fire). You should check it out.

cheers,

k

photo: Zombie Barbies by niallkennedy, on Flickr

photo: zombie-warning by This is Awkward, on Flickr

how to live happily ever after
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I saw a funny-but-true statement on the internet the other day. It went:

Question: What’s the difference between a Northern fairy tale and a Southern fairy tale?

A Northern fairy tale begins with, “Once upon a time…”.

A Southern fairy tale begins with “Y’all ain’t gonna believe this sh*t!”

Well, y’all ain’t gonna believe this sh*t, but… I think I’ve discovered the secret. You know, the big one. The one everyone searches to find from the minute they realize that life is a search to find something.

I’ve discovered the secret to living happily ever after.

Ok, ok. So I didn’t really discover it, I just borrowed it from this guy named Kierkegaard. But hey, if Christopher Columbus can say he discovered America….

Wait a minute, Kisha. Who’s this Kierkegaard guy, and what’s he all about?

Oh. Sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself.

soren kierkegaard

Well, to keep it brief, Soren Kierkegaard was a 19th century Danish philosopher (apparently back in the good ol’ days when philosopher was actually a valid job title). In his book ‘Either / Or’, he explains this idea that one has to progress through 3 stages on the way to becoming one’s true self (aka, living happily ever after).

Here’s my summary:

Aesthetics (Love of Pleasure) – The First Stage

In this stage, one is concerned with maximizing pleasurable sensory experiences. Music, food, drinking, sex, travel, art, poetry, pleasurable memories, and the like. Even the anticipation of pleasure is maximized by someone in this stage. The primary purpose of this pleasure-seeking is to combat boredom. But since pleasure is usually temporary, the person at this stage is constantly pursuing the next pleasure to battle the boredom that always returns.

 

Ethics (Love of Others) – The Second Stage

At this stage, one is concerned with how his actions affect others. Instead of being driven by self-pleasure or personal gain, the ethical person is driven by pleasing others, adhering to a certain set of social principles, and doing things for the good of society as a whole.  The ethical person is in a constant battle with anxiety – the anxiety of not being good enough, or not being accepted by society.

 

Religion (Love of God) - The Third Stage

In this stage – which Kierkegaard considered the highest plane – one is concerned with her personal, spiritual quest, or her personal relationship with God above all else. Unfortunately, very few reach this stage because of the distraction of large-scale religion which discourages personal relationship with God, and encourages being ‘falsely religious’ by adhering to one-size-fits-all doctrines. The person at this stage battles the despair of trying to live an authentic, spiritual life in a religious world.

Kierkegaard proposed an either / or approach – that is, you either dedicate your life to love of pleasure, love of others, or love of God. But instead of either / or, why not ‘all of the above’?

You see, living happily ever after means you get to have it all. You don’t have to choose between one way of living or another. It’s your fairy tale. You own everything!

you own everything

 

In my opinion, to live happily ever after you have to find a way to balance all 3 of these loves. Thinking and living in terms of ‘either/or’ will almost certainly lead to a life of excess or imbalance. With the either / or mentality, something will always be lacking, missing, or given up. So, how can you start to move from 'either/or' to 'all of the above'?

The Path to Happily Ever After

Appreciate More – Or, exercise your 'pleasure muscle'. Instead of pursuing or chasing pleasure, derive pleasure from more and more things – even the simplest things. This will likely require a shift in perception, maybe even a slowing down. Instead of rushing through traffic or hurriedly gobbling down a meal, or speeding through your household chores, take time to savor something about every moment you experience. The more you do this, the more you’ll realize that pleasure isn’t something that has to be chased down, it’s something that has to be tuned into.

 

Give More – Now, I want to be clear here. I’m not necessarily suggesting that you sign up for another committee to save the world or keep going out of your way to be all helpful and savior-ish to everyone you know. On the contrary, I think many people (especially women, since we are often trained to be over-givers) should be more conservative with how much of themselves they’re giving away and who they’re giving it to. What I’m talking about here is giving more of the things that you have – whether they be material things or abstract things. Give more compliments, give away more credit (even if you did the work), give away more ideas, give away more of your belongings. Remember, you own everything, so why should you be so concerned with clinging so tightly to it all?

 

Meditate More - It takes a tremendous amount of energy to just sit still and shut the hell up. To calm your brain, cancel-out all the inputs and just be in silence (not even in deep thought). If you’ve ever tried meditating, you probably know that even seemingly harmless, little itty-bitty thoughts can quickly balloon into monstrous distractions.

stay puft marshmallow man

By meditating more, you develop the discipline and strength you need to find God or your spiritual center even in the midst of all the distractions that life presents. Imagine More – Or, exercise your 'faith muscle'. Imagining is a way of reminding yourself that everything is possible. Even the seemingly absurd. Many of us SAY that God is the source from which all good things flow or that the universe is abundant and overflowing. But the way we ACT is that God or the universe is judgmental, demanding, and always ready to punish. The reality is YOU’re the one doing the punishing, the demanding, and the judging by believing you’re not worthy of good things, or by not having faith in the idea that almost anything you think of, can happen in real life. Think of it this way, whenever you  present something to God (or the universe, or whatever you choose to call it) the answer is always yes. If you continually present ideas that affirm negative thoughts about you and the world around you, the answer will be, “yes”. Whatever you focus your mind on has a way of materializing. So instead of using your mind to focus on the negative, dedicate time to imagining the best possible things you can, and watch for the “yeses” to roll in.

as you wish

cheers, k

how to cook with mushroooms - 3 recipes
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meatless-mushroom-recipes I find that the mushroom is one of those food items that people either love or hate. Admittedly, mushrooms are a bit… creepy. I mean, after all, a mushroom is technically neither plant, nor mineral, nor vegetable, but a (gulp) fungus. And even though I fall in the ‘love ‘em’ camp, I can’t deny occasionally feeling just a bit weirded out – yet still strangely fascinated – by them. If you fall in the hate ‘em camp, I doubt I can do anything to convince you otherwise, but if you’re teetering somewhere on the edge of either camp, maybe these mushroom facts will sway you.

meatless_monday_logoFor the past few months, we’ve been doing Meatless Mondays at my house, and mushrooms have often played a starring role in dishes where we’d normally feature meat. The benefits of using mushrooms as a meat replacement are seemingly endless: they’re cheaper, cook faster, have no cholesterol, very little fat and sodium, and are chock-full of essential nutrients like potassium, selenium, and B vitamins. All of which makes the mushroom quite magical in my eyes.

Here are some of my favorite mushroom recipes:

Mushroom Quinoa Risotto (from Bon Appetit)

In this recipe, portabella and shiitake mushrooms are paired with so-called superfood quinoa (keen-wah) to create a much lighter, healthier version of a traditional risotto. It still has the rich-tasting, heartiness of risotto without the guilt or the lengthy, labor-intensive preparation, which makes it an ideal candidate for a weeknight dinner. You must try this.

 

Fried Parmesan ‘Shrooms over Tomato Sauce

(inspired by Lunacy Black Market)

One of the dishes I always order from my favorite Atlanta restaurant is roasted mushrooms w/crushed tomato sauce. The savory, umami flavor of the ‘shrooms and the tangy tomato sauce are enough to make my mouth water at the mere mention of the dish. When doing my own home-based version of the dish, I alternate between roasting the ‘shrooms or frying them as detailed below. This is a regular go-to dish for weekday dinners when I want to be in and out of the kitchen in less than 30 minutes.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

4-5 roma tomatoes, chopped (you could also sub ~20 grape tomatoes)

1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 shallot or small onion, chopped (optional)

Dried basil

Portabella mushrooms, washed, de-gilled and sliced into thick 1”slices (you can also buy them pre-sliced to save time)

1-2 eggs

Bread crumbs

Olive or canola oil

Grated parmesan cheese

For tomato sauce:  Add a swirl of olive oil to a pot. Heat on medium-high. Add chopped garlic and shallots and sauté for 3-4 minutes, being careful not to brown garlic. Add basil and sauté for another minute. Add tomatoes. Cover pot with a lid, lower heat to medium or medium-low and let the mixture simmer rapidly for about 15-20 minutes, or until tomatoes start to break down. Stir occasionally and mash tomatoes so that they meld with the other ingredients. You want to end up with a chunky sauce. Salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat.

For mushrooms: Beat egg well in a bowl and place mushrooms in bowl. Toss mushrooms well to coat with egg. Place bread crumbs in a small paper or plastic bag. Add egg-coated mushrooms to bag and shake well to coat with breadcrumbs. Add enough oil to pan to cover bottom of – about 2-3 Tbsp – or if you prefer, you can use more oil to deep-fry mushrooms. Heat oil on medium-high. When oil is hot, add mushrooms one at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Cook until mushrooms are golden brown on one side, then flip and cook until golden brown on the other side. Remove and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle immediately with grated parmesan. Place a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce on a plate and place a few mushrooms on top of sauce. The mushrooms are also really good over a salad of dressed mixed greens, or eaten by themselves.

 

Mushroom, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Flatbread Pizza

(inspired by Wrecking Bar Brewpub)

Everybody loves pizza. Unfortunately, pizza doesn’t love everybody. Your typical pie is nothing more than a cheese mushroom-goatcheese-flatbread-pizzadelivery system, and is usually topped with fatty meats and salt-laden sauces, and bottomed with a waistline-wrecking white-flour crust. But it doesn’t have to be that way, I promise. The Wrecking Bar, a delightful little gastropub in Little Five Points, serves a version that features 3 types of mushrooms and a healthy smattering of peppery arugula. Here’s how I replicate the dish at home (or in my office toaster oven).

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

Lavash or other flatbread (preferably whole-wheat)

Goat cheese (a soft, spreadable one)

3-4 of each of the following mushrooms, chopped: oyster, shiitake, portabella or baby portabella

Handful of fresh arugula

Olive oil

Spread goat cheese onto flatbread. Evenly distribute chopped mushrooms over goat cheese, then add arugula on top. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes, until arugula is wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. You could add more flavor by adding roasted garlic, pesto sauce, sundried tomatoes, or fresh herbs (basil, sage, thyme) before the pizza goes into the oven.

 

I hope these recipes encourage you to experiment with mushrooms. If you’re the really adventurous types – I recommend trying some of the more exotic varieties like porcini, shiitake, oyster, hen of the woods and enoki. The taste of those varieties is much richer and more complex than the more common white button or portabella mushrooms. And if you choose to experiment with magical mushrooms outside of the kitchen, well… that’s totally up to you. ;)

cheers,

k

photo: mushroom by tamaki, on Flickr

work is play – what I learned from kickball
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At the ParkWhen I get the opportunity to work with larger, corporate clients I often hesitate, even cringe. My main reason for deciding to pursue a non-traditional career was because most corporate cultures are just too dysfunctional for my tastes. Bad behavior, internal politics, and power plays are often rampant in corporate environments, and no matter how long I usually succeed in avoiding them, I eventually either get pulled into them or fed up with them. Besides, I have my health to consider. Even though corporate gigs tend to pay well and offer more perqs, what good is it if I’m increasing my stress and blood pressure in the process? In short, I’m not dying to work.

Which is why I’ve (at least for now) decided to work as an independent contractor (aka, freelancer). As an independent, I’m essentially a company of one, so any dysfunction is all my own. I can deal with that. But the downside is that as a freelancer, I often work alone. In my home office. With no one else for company other than the voices in my head. As entertaining as those voices are, the truth is I like working with other people. Especially if they’re smart and talented. There’s something very motivating, inspiring, and well… fun about working on a common objective with people who have the talent and the drive to make it happen with you. I guess you could say, I like working with people who take their work seriously but don’t take themselves seriously.

That’s the basis of my primary philosophy about work: ‘work is play’.

I tend to view work very similar to the way I viewed recess in elementary and middle school. Back then, the playground game of choice for me and my classmates was kickball. We’d play every day without fail. It was less a game, and more like a recurring chapter in the ongoing daily saga of our pre-teen lives. Two people would be appointed team captains, and the captains would choose teams, making sure each team had a couple of really good kickers, a pitcher, at least 1 person with a good throwing arm, and some really, really fast runners. Once the teams were decided, the rules of play were agreed to – no bunting; you have to tag somebody out, not hit them with the ball; the foul zone was between the edge of the pavement and the monkey bars. Eventually, play would begin. Each game had its high points and low points, conflicts and petty arguments. There would be hilarious moments when something ridiculously funny would happen, and when recess ended, we’d recount the game’s highlights long after that day’s winner and loser had been decided.

Reflecting on those playground sessions has helped me realize some important facts about work and working that I consider fundamental principles of my ‘work is play’ philosophy. Namely:

The best teams have a diverse mix of people. If everyone on the team were the same type of player, it wouldn’t be much of a team. The teams that I’ve had the most fun with and learned the most from were those that were made up of people with backgrounds, cultures, and interests quite different from my own. Besides, it makes water cooler conversations a treat, to say the least.

 

School Playground Rules

Be clear about the rules can you live with / without. In kickball, some of the rules were standard for the game itself, others evolved as we played the game repeatedly. It’s only by playing a few games that you get a feel for which rules you prefer and which ones you absolutely have to have. I tend to prefer working in situations where the rules of play aren’t as rigid as most. Flexible work hours, casual attire, a short commute – these are some ‘rules’ I prefer, but aren’t absolute deal-breakers. But frequent travel, lack of autonomy, and weekends in the office are work rules that just don’t work for me.

 

It’s just a game. Play stops being fun when games are taken too seriously. The game is a part of life. It isn’t life itself. You are not a great person because you are a great kickball player, anymore than you are a great person because you are a high-level executive. The position you hold in the game is not the source of your power or strength or worth. It is the qualities and traits that you bring to the position. If and when the game ends, you will still possess the qualities and traits that make you who you are. In short, the game should neither consume nor define you.

 

The game can go on without you. You don’t always have to be in the game. I remember a period during middle school when, instead of playing during recess, I would sit by myself and read or write in my journal. This went on for months. Then one day, I decided I’d had enough and went back to play. Not much had changed with the game since the last time I’d played, and I returned to the daily routine as if I’d never left. It’s okay to sit out a few rounds, if you need and want to. Take time away from the game to do something for yourself, with yourself, or by yourself – especially if it’s something that will make you a better player when you return to the team. Not only can the game go on without you, but you can go on without the game.

 

After-game reflection is almost as important as the game itself.Locker Room Conflict was an inevitable part of almost every playground kickball game. Occasionally, tempers would flare so high that there would still be tension after recess was over. Fortunately, the class immediately following recess was one in which our teacher would take time to help us work through any unresolved issues. Because our class was so small and close-knit, it was important that our relationships remained intact. Our teacher (a truly wise woman), gently forced us to reflect on our own behavior and that of our classmates, so we could grow in our understanding of each other, and ultimately go back to play another day. Taking time to reflect after every job or project is essential. It gives me the chance to assess how well I performed, what I might do differently next time, and what lessons I learned from any conflicts or issues that arose during play. After-game reflection is the #1 way to get better each time you play.

When I think back on those childhood kickball games, I realize that all of those playground maneuverings, all of the wins and the losses, and the occasional accidental injuries were teaching us how to work together, how to navigate relationships, and how to achieve a common goal with a group of not-so-common people. For me, work serves the same purpose – it’s the ‘playground’ where I show up to contribute my talents, to learn something, and to have fun in the process.

Once you’re able to approach your work with the mindset of play, you open up the potential for some serious learning experiences, simply by not taking everything so seriously. In work as on the playground, you have the ultimate say in what game you’re playing and what rules you play by.

cheers, k photo: At the Park by Bob B. Brown, on Flickr photo: School Playground Rules by jem, on Flickr photo:Locker Room by katerha, on Flickr

7 things to do the day after getting fired

Canned. Sacked. Let go. Forcibly retired. Getting fired, no matter what sweet-sounding name you try to pin on it, is still a pretty bitter experience. Even if you're expecting it to happen (or you've been secretly praying for it to happen), nothing ever quite prepares you for the day you get fired.

Yet, in our continually uncertain economy, getting fired is an experience that more and more people are having to deal with. Naturally, most people react to a firing in an emotional way - with tears, anger, idle threats, feelings of isolation or low self-worth. But the 24 hours after you've been fired is not the time to be paralyzed by emotion, it's the time for some very simple actions that can pay off big in the long run. You can always come back to the 5 stages of grief later.

 

 

Here are 7 suggestions for what to do the day after your last day on the job.

Tell Everyone

Though shame and embarrassment at losing your job might make you want to keep the whole mess a secret, don't. Think of it this way: if nobody knows you've been fired, nobody will know you're available for new opportunities. A quick email message (or tweet or Facebook post) to your network of friends and associates saying something like, "Guess what guys, I'm looking for employment again," followed by a very brief, very clear description of what kind of employment you'd prefer, could work wonders. Many of those people that you tell will likely reach out to ask for more details. Resist the temptation to go into a long diatribe about what an evil cad your now ex-boss was, or how you never liked that filth-flarn company anyway. There will be much time for ranting in the days to come. When pressed for more deets, simply say, "I'm not in a space where I can talk about it right now, we'll have to get together soon so I can tell you all the gory details. But if you can keep an eye out for (fabulous next job I'm looking for), I'd really appreciate it."

 

Ask for Recommendations

Even if you were fired for less than stellar performance, there's probably at least one person you worked with who actually liked you and the work you did. Instead of avoiding them like the plague, reach out and ask for a quick letter of recommendation. Or better yet, send them a LinkedIn request, so they can put their glowing recommendation of you on the interwebs for the whole world to see. Wait. You do have a LinkedIn account, right?

 

Get LinkedIn

If you don't already have a profile on LinkedIn, shame on you. I'm sure it's because you were so busy with work before that you didn't have time to get it done. Well, now that that's no longer a problem, it's the perfect time for you to create or update your LinkedIn profile. Search for and make connections with your now-former coworkers. Consider this the part of the job loss chapter that you get to write yourself. You decide which characters you want to continue in the story, and how you express what your experience was like.

 

Update your resume

Even if you don't intend to start looking for a new job right away, it's best to update your resume while the details of your last position and accomplishments are still fresh in your mind. You may even consider putting up a free or inexpensive website to post your skills, your resume and examples of your work.

 

File for unemployment

Labor and employment laws differ for every state. And if you were fired for misconduct or negligence, you may not qualify to receive unemployment benefits. But it never hurts to try. Even if you and your former employer disagree about the reason for your termination, you may be able to appeal an initial denial of unemployment benefits.

 

Schedule some coffee dates

what to do after getting fired

The unexpected change of routine that comes with a job loss can be a bit jarring. You're probably used to getting up, getting dressed and going somewhere at the same time every day. The day after you get canned, reach out to a few friends and schedule at least 2-3 coffee or lunch dates for the following week. That way, your daily routine won't be totally obliterated, and you won't be tempted to hide in your house like it's a dark cave of emotion. Plus, when you meet with your friend, you'll get to vent, rant, ask for advice and suggestions, or receive a much needed dose of cheer.

 

Write your own training plan

Take some time to envision what sort of job or position you want next. Spend an hour or so searching on Careerbuilder, Monster and other job hunting sites for job descriptions that are similar the position you want. This will allow you to see what sort of skills or certifications are preferred for those roles, and which ones you may need to brush up on. Make a list of 2-3 classes you want to take, certifications you want to pursue, or professional skills that you want to improve upon. In the coming days (or weeks or months), your new job will be to find and complete training classes, self-directed projects, or pro-bono gigs that will prepare you for your next job.

 

Let's be honest, it is statistically probable that you're going to get fired at some point in your life. Your reason for being terminated may not even be your fault. And even if it is your fault, it isn't the end of the world. Life goes on. You learn from the experience, pick yourself up, and move on to the next chapter. You aren't the only one this has happened to, and you certainly won't be the last. By taking small, immediate actions you'll go a long way in dispelling the feelings of powerlessness that may come with a job loss. And by taking those actions you'll remind yourself that, in the end, you are the only one responsible for your career destiny.

 

cheers,

k photo 1: You're Fired! by bjornmeansbear, on Flickr

photo 2: via jericapng, on Tumblr

photo 3: Unemployed Dad 488 by Bearman2007, on Flickr

how to make a good woman
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"A woman is an important somebody and sometimes you win the triple crown: good food, good sex, and good talk. Most men settle for any one, happy as a clam if they get two. But listen, let me tell you something. A good man is a good thing, but there is nothing in the world better than a good good woman. She can be your mother, your wife, your girlfriend, your sister, or somebody you work next to. Don't matter. You find one, stay there."  ~from Toni Morrison's "Love"

After reading this passage from Toni Morrison's novel, "Love", I knew I'd found a morsel that would become a permanent part of my personal collection of life recipes.

The quote comes from the character, Sandler - a concerned father who is schooling his teenage son on what to look for in a woman. Fortunately, it's an easy-to-remember recipe that includes 3 very simple ingredients.

Good Food

I don't care how old-fashioned or outmoded I sound saying it, I'm going to say it anyway. If you're a woman, you should know how to cook something. I'm not suggesting that you channel Betty Crocker and prance around the kitchen all day in frilly aprons and heels making biscuits and pies from scratch (but, if that's your thing, by all means, go for it!). But every woman should have at least 3 solid dishes that she can whip up at a moment's notice. That means not having to consult a cookbook or a recipe, but being able to prepare a simple, elegant meal from memory - preferably with easy-to-find ingredients. As they say, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach". Even in non-romantic situations, being able to cook something tasty for someone you care about (whether it be your man, your mom, your kids, or your friends) is not only a useful talent, but also a satisfying and rewarding experience.

Good Sex

I suppose this one should go without saying, since we're all sexual creatures. But since everyone has different tastes and preferences, what exactly qualifies as good sex? Whether you're the swing-from-the-rafters type or more of a missionary girl, I think that at the root of it all, a woman with 'good sex' is a woman who is equally skilled at giving and receiving pleasure.

Good Talk

I've heard numerous tales from my guy friends about dates or relationships with drop-dead gorgeous girls that they found extremely attractive... until they opened their mouths. A good woman cultivates interests in things that are worth talking about. A good woman stays abreast of current events (no, not just celebrity gossip), a good woman has a bit of 'game'. A good woman knows how to give a compliment.

Recipe Notes:

Noticeably missing from this recipe for a good woman are inessential ingredients like: big boobs, long hair, thick legs, fat booty, expensive clothes, killer makeup, and similar decorative toppings.

Admittedly, a good woman who comes with one or more of these inessential ingredients will be just as fulfilling and even sweeter than the original recipe. However, a woman that possesses inessential ingredients yet lacks all of the good woman ingredients may be sweet, but won't be nearly as filling. And really... who needs empty calories?

how to get that game show buzz
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picture of family feud game show

 

The mission: attend a live taping of the game show The Family Feud (hosted by Steve Harvey) at the Atlanta Civic Center. A good friend of mine had scored tickets to the show and had invited me along for the ride.

I call it a mission because, of course, it couldn't be as simple as just showing up and walking into the studio. We arrived 5 minutes earlier than suggested, only to be told that we were too late for the 1st taping, and we'd have to come back about 2 hours later.

Ah well, what do wise women do when hit with unexpected delays? We brunch. Hard.

For the next couple of hours, my friend and I shared a booth at Home Grown, talking and reminiscing, sharing and confessing. I think I can safely speak for her when I say that in those 2 hours we both learned more about each other than we've learned in years.

With our bellies filled and our friendship expanded, we returned to the Civic Center, waited some more, and were finally, finally let into the studio.

Just as we were getting ready to file into the next to last row, the plump, older lady in front of us asked one of the production crew, "Can we take two of those seats on the front row?" "Sure," was the reply. One glance between me and my friend was all it took, and we immediately followed suit. As the plump lady and I claimed our seats next to each other, we both blurted out, "Never hurts to ask!" then cracked up at our synchronized timing. Out of nowhere, she hugged me like we'd known each other for ages.

Before the show began, the 'audience wrangler' trained us on our responsibilities. We learned when and how to clap and smile, when to cheer, and when to go "Awww...". Important stuff, you know. To boost our energy from a long day of waiting, he led us all in a couple of rousing dance-alongs. One to The Isley Brothers' "Shout", and another to the Jackson's "Blame it on the Boogie".

Soon, the main event started. Steve 'Longcoat' Harvey appeared onstage. The feuding families followed, and the cameras started rolling. Like dutiful participants, we clapped and smiled, and smiled and cheered, and 'awwwed' and clapped some more. Everything the contestants said or did required us to emote. It was hard work.

At the end of the all-day game show adventure, I returned home with a pleasant, good-feeling buzz that lasted the rest of the day.

So what did we learn from all this, kids?

I don't know about you, but a good-feeling buzz that lasts the whole livelong day isn't something that's always easy to come by (at least not legally) so when I do get one, I like to take a minute to figure out how I got it, in case I should ever need it again.

We asked 100 people what they'd do to get that good-feeling game show buzz *. Survey says:

Open Up to an Old Friend

I think we take old friends for granted sometimes. We think that since we've known each other since way back, we know everything there is to know about our friend, and they know everything there is to know about us. But there are stories that we haven't shared. Little bits of ourselves that we've never opened up about. Sharing those things gives us a chance to strengthen the bonds of our friendships. Even if the only feel-good you get is a twinge of happiness from talking about something different than you normally do, it's worth it.

 

Always Ask for What You Want

Fortune favors the bold. A closed mouth don't get fed. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. All these old adages are saying the same thing. If there is something you want or need, not only is there no shame in asking for it, it's often the quickest way to get it. The worst possible thing that can happen is hearing the word "no". The best possible thing that could happen is front row seats.

 

comic strip of a hug fail

Hug a Stranger

Look. I am not a hugger. Hugs are often awkward moments for me that involve over-thinking the position of my arms, the distance from the other person, the angle of my head... it's too much, really. Still, I appreciate a really good hug. And there's nothing better than a hug from a genuinely friendly person, even if they're someone you just met. And especially if they're a plump auntie figure.

 

Be Silly in Public

When's the last time you seat-danced to 50s and 80s rock and pop... in public? Yeah. Me neither. Public displays of silliness are the perfect way to whip up some instant feelgood. But the opportunity to be silly with a large group of other people doesn't come along very often. When you get the chance, take advantage of it. Join the wave at the baseball game, do the hokey-pokey and turn yourself around, robot your way down the Soul Train line. Of course you could always be that guy standing off to the side because he's just too sexy or too cool to be silly. Don't be.

 

Clap and Cheer for the Little Things

It's really hard to feel bad when you've got a big ole cheesy grin plastered on your face and you're clapping like your life depended on it. Something about that eventually takes over you and makes you all happy and junk. Now I'm not suggesting you go around being a 1-person studio audience all day. But try being a little more liberal with the high-fives and the 'good jobs' for a bit, and see if that doesn't make you and the people around you feel a little bit better.

cheers,

k

*We didn't really. I made them up myself.

how to lose like a winner
total_loser.jpg

A couple of weekends ago, I got invited to watch a friend’s daughter compete in the National American Miss pageant. I’ve known this young lady since she was a toddler, and over the years I’ve watched her blossom into an awesome little woman. She’s bright, energetic, savvy, and beautiful to boot. You know, one of those kids that makes you feel confident about what the next generation will be able to do with their infinite potential. So I was thrilled to join her parents in the audience to hoot and holler like a madwoman whenever she appeared on the stage.

That night, we watched all the contestants do their opening numbers and have their individual moments in the spotlight. We also watched watch as girl after girl got picked for various and sundry titles – Miss Congeniality, Most Likely to be a Top Model, Most Likely to End Up as a Trophy Wife and Get One Helluva Divorce Settlement when the Dog of a Husband Gets Caught Cheating (or something like that). Even with all her charm, poise, and intelligence, our girl didn’t get a single trophy or accolade, and she didn’t even get to move on to the next round of competition. Needless to say, we were crushed. She, of course, was even more crushed. After she’d changed back into her street clothes, she joined us to head to the car. She held up pretty well for a few moments, then the tears came. “It isn’t fair,” she cried. “They weren’t as good as me!” she protested. And we agreed, clucking over her and consoling her like dutiful supporters. There wasn’t any use in trying to rationalize the outcome of the pageant to her. Even if there had been a rational explanation, it likely wouldn’t have made a dent on her emotional state. So, I thought that the words her mother offered her were the best that could be said at that moment. She simply told her daughter, “Baby, it wasn’t your time.”

No doubt, losing sucks. Hard. Especially when it’s something you’ve worked hard to get, or something you feel like you’re naturally more qualified to have. So when you don’t land that job, or you get passed over by that girl or guy you had your heart set on, or someone else snags that grand opportunity that you know was meant for you, it makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs, “It’s not fair! They weren’t as good as me!” It’s irritating as hell to see the lesser-qualified get your moment in the spotlight, with the crowd cheering and the fair maiden planting a wreath of laurel leaves on their unworthy head. When it happens more than once, you may stop screaming outwardly and start whispering inwardly to yourself: “Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe no one will ever want me.” Even the most confident and self-assured person has their moments of uncertainty when met with a consistent stream of losses.

I thought back to one of the girls in the pageant who had advanced to the next round that evening. It was her fifth year in the competition, and she’d never made it beyond the first round before. Yet she kept showing up every year. Kept donning the glitzy gown, kept flashing the perfect camera-ready smile, and kept being sent home with nothing to show for her efforts. I wondered what she must have felt like after two years of not winning. After year three? I wondered how she even mustered up the energy and optimism it took to come back for one more chance at winning, though she was a repeat loser. By the colloquial definition, this girl was insane. She kept doing the same thing and expecting a different result. But eventually, after five long years, she did get a different result.

So how exactly do you distinguish the insane person from the winner-to-be?

"Sometimes losing is a wake-up call in disguise, a universal conspiracy that’s letting you know that you’re chasing the wrong dream..."

Winners recognize that there may not be any logic to the fact that they lost, but they take the loss as an opportunity for assessment.  A time to prepare themselves for the win that will inevitably come. After a loss, winners ask themselves the following questions:

Am I losing because I’m playing the wrong game?

If you’re going after something that doesn’t align with your purpose or your true values, why would you want to win? Sometimes losing is a wake-up call in disguise, a universal conspiracy that’s letting you know that you’re chasing the wrong dream, and you need to set your eyes on a different, more fitting prize. If you feel certain that what you’re after does align with your purpose, it’s much easier to deal with temporary losses on the way to your goal.

 

Am I losing because I'm not yet prepared to win?

and the winner is
and the winner is

If you were to get that job, land that cutie pie, or be granted that opportunity, are you currently prepared to make the most of it? Do you have the skills to maintain the thing you’ve won after you’ve won it? You’ve heard the stories of lottery winners who are penniless only a few years after their big win, because they had no money management skills. It’s almost impossible to believe, but it happens all the time – and not just with the lottery. Winners take time after a loss to continue to hone their skills. They visualize what they’ll need to do after the win to make sure they’re ready to perform when it happens. Winners know that a gift given to the ill-prepared can easily become a curse.

 

Am I losing because it just isn’t my time?

So you know for sure that you’re after the right thing. And you know that you’re well-prepared to maintain that thing after you’ve won it. So what gives? Why do you keep losing? Well baby, maybe it just isn’t your time. While you’re fuming about how unfair it all is, maybe there’s someone else out there who had just as much right to the ‘big win’ as you did. They may have waited longer or worked harder, or maybe it was simply ‘their time’. Maybe you’re like that year-five winner, and you’ll have to lose many times before you win. Just remember to re-assess, re-equip, and reapply yourself… even if everyone else thinks you’re insane.

As it turns out, our girl made it through the pageant ordeal without too much emotional or ego damage. After a post-pageant dinner out, she was mostly back to normal. The following week, she got an unexpected phone call. It came from a talent scout who’d seen her at the pageant and wanted to know if she was available for other opportunities.

So let that be a lesson to all you losers out there. The next time you lose, go ahead and have a good cry, check to make sure the makeup is still ok, then treat yourself to something tasty.

And know this… your day is coming. Maybe even sooner than you think.

cheers,

k

photo: total loser by bamzin

photo: ...and the winner is by notsogoodphotography

easy gourmet cooking: stuffed pattypan squash
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Always be careful what you ask for. When I recently relocated to Westview, I hoped that I'd be able to find a nearby community garden or small-scale farmer to get fresh produce from. I had no idea my request would be so thoroughly fulfilled.

The beau's job hosts a weekly farmer's market throughout summer, where local farmers and community gardeners bring out their wares to sell. Since he helps out with setting up their stands and assisting customers carry their purchases to their cars, the grateful farmers give him some of their excess to take home. Which means that, at least once a week, I get a nice delivery of local fruits and veggies right into my kitchen.

This also means that I am positively swimming in summer produce. Melons, tomatoes, okra, peaches, nectarines, corn, red potatoes, onions, and cabbages come in the door faster than I can think of ways to uniquely prepare them. So I've had to scramble around the interwebs in search of recipes to provide additional inspiration. One of the bumper crops that I've enjoyed finding new ways to prepare is squash. In addition to the standard crookneck yellow squash and zucchini that I'm used to working with, I got a delivery of pattypan squash. I'd never laid eyes on one in real life before, and was so struck with the elegant scalloped edges and blanched-white skin that I had to find a recipe worthy of the ingredient.

Fresh local ingredients call for a fresh local recipe, so I was pleased when I saw a recipe for Farm-Stand Stuffed Zucchini Squash over at Running With Tweezers. A couple of quick modifications based on the ingredients I had on hand, and... voila! A recipe that was fit for a pattypan squash.

Stuffed PattyPan Squash

Ingredients:

  • 2 pattypan squash
  • 1-2 fresh Italian sausage (I use turkey sausage, with removable casing)
  • 1 cup couscous (I prefer whole wheat)
  • 1/2 bell pepper (red, green, or yellow)
  • 1 small onion (red or white)
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • minced garlic
  • fresh or dried herbs: thyme, rosemary, marjoram
  • 1-3/4 cup chicken broth or bouillon

Cooking Instructions:

Preparing the Squash: Preheat oven to 375. With a small knife (serrated works best), cut a circle around the top of the squash. As you cut, angle your knife diagonally from the outer edge of the squash towards the center. Remove the top of the squash and set aside - this will serve as your lid. Hollow out the insides of the squash with a small spoon, being careful not to pierce through the squash. Set the removed squash aside. Drizzle the inside of the squash and the bottoms of the lids with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then set on a baking sheet or pan in the oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes, then set aside to cool.

For the Couscous: In a small pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.

For the Sausage and Veggies: Chop the bell pepper and onion and add to the squash flesh you removed earlier. Add a little olive oil to a large skillet and heat on medium-high. Remove the sausage from casing, and add in small pieces to the heated skillet. Cook and crumble the sausage until brown. Add the garlic, onion, and pepper to the skillet and sautee for 4-5 minutes, or until onion is slightly translucent. Add herbs to taste, then add squash and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste. Add couscous to skillet and stir to combine with other ingredients. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over everything and stir to incorporate.

Stuff each squash with the couscous mixture, and sprinkle a little more Parm on top. Place the stuffed squash back in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

cheers,

k

how to overcome stagnation
whats-next.jpg

Making your own money – and by that I mean, not from a typical 9 to 5, but from something you created and you own – is like a drug. Once you’ve had even the littlest taste of it, you’ll always want it again. Be careful what you wish for when you wish to be your own boss. You might get hooked for life.

I say be careful because it’s not an easy path. It’s a #@$&! scary ride. But… it’s a ride that changes you for the better. You learn to become bigger than yourself, if that makes any sense. You learn to use your strengths and your weaknesses to your advantage. As master of your own work domain, you have to know yourself well and still continually try to outsmart yourself, to outdo your last move. That’s innovation. That’s growth. That’s ultimately sustainability. Because if you’re always thinking about where you’ll get your next entrepreneurial fix; if you’re constantly asking yourself, ‘what next?’ you’ll have an answer when someone else comes asking the same thing of you.

In business, that ‘someone else’ is your customers, your employees, your partners, your teachers and mentors. When those people come asking, ‘what next?’ you’d better have an answer. If you don’t, you’ll be cheating yourself and them. Or worse…. you’ll become stagnant, and ultimately irrelevant.

“What next?” is a question that I’ve been continually pondering for the last few months. I’ve been an independent freelancer for almost a year now, and have had plenty of ups and downs, direction changes and lots of opportunities to test different approaches in marketing, selling and delivering my services. I finally feel like I’ve reached a level of comfort with the ambiguity and the sometimes unpredictable nature of self-employment, and I’m preparing to kick off some new projects and partnerships that will continue to propel me down paths I want to travel. I recently shared one of those projects with you, and I’m looking forward to sharing the others as they progress.

In the meantime, I’d like to pass along some highlights from a blog post entitled ‘How to Overcome Stagnation’ by Dean L. Forbes. Work - whether done for yourself or for someone else – is one of those areas that it’s extremely easy to become stagnant in, and Dean has provided some excellent insights for recognizing the symptoms of stagnation and developing strategies to deal with it.

Symptoms of Stagnation:

  • Lack of focus – feeling scattered and unsure of the goals you’ve set
  • Indecisiveness – unable to make a decision because every option is too risky and/or impossible
  • Doubt – feelings of self-doubt, lack of confidence in your skills and abilities
  • Hopelessness – inability to see the silver lining, the upside, the light at the end of the tunnel
  • Cynicism –feeling like the cards are stacked against you, that everyone (especially the ones who ‘don’t deserve it’) is getting ahead except you
  • Depression – lack of energy or will to do anything positive, productive, or progressive

Like any emotional or mental state, stagnation is temporary. The amount of time spent in a state of stagnation depends on your willingness to take the right actions to move beyond that state. Forbes recommends the following right actions to overcome stagnation.

5 Ways to Overcome Stagnation:

  1. Re-evaluate your core values – Make sure that the principles you wish to live by – your own personal definition of ‘the good life’ – are intact. Make a list of the things in life that really matter to you and be sure that your daily activities and decisions reflect that.
  2. Redefine your mission – What is your purpose? What are you here for? What do you feel that you were uniquely created to do? You may already have an idea in your head. Take some time to reflect on and re-envision this mission.
  3. Change your mission – Does the mission you previously envisioned for yourself no longer make sense? Maybe it’s time to find a new mission.
  4. Change your circle – If you’re on a journey to somewhere, your travelling companions can make or break the trip for you. It can be difficult to change or sever associations, but if you find out that people in your circle aren’t interested in going where you’re headed, you’ll all be much better off going your separate ways.
  5. Take a different route – There’s more than one way to reach a given goal. Maybe the path you’re on isn’t the one that’s going to work for you. There’s no shame in changing directions or scrapping what you thought was a well-planned route. What matters is that you keep moving towards your ultimate destination.

If you’re looking for more help dealing with stagnation, here are a few of my favorite stagnation-killing books:


photo by: Crystl

cheers, k

8 steps for turning your craft into a career
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Your day job is what pays the bills. So you get up every day and go to work faithfully. But secretly (or maybe not-so-secretly), you harbor a passion for some other work – your craft – that one thing you feel like you were destined to do with your life. The only problem is, if you were to jump head first into pursuing your passion, you might not be able to keep the lights on. So, maybe you should just give up on that dream of yours, right?

Wrong. If you’re focused and willing to put forth a little extra effort, there’s a way for you to make it happen. While there’s no guaranteed path to success, here are 8 steps that will undoubtedly help you transform your part-time hobby into a full-time career.

  1. Educate Yourself - Either enroll in a paid course or do some targeted self-study. Buy books and read articles in industry publications. You need to get very smart about the history, and current and future trends of the work you want to do. Is there a viable market for what you want to do? Also, get a feel for what goes on behind-the-scenes of the craft - those things that you'll have to do that aren't necessarily related to the craft itself. For instance, if you want to be a writer, you need to learn how to write pitch letters. If you want to be a musician, you might need to learn about putting together a press kit or music copyright law. Find out what average salaries or pay rates are in the field. This step alone may make you second guess your decision to pursue your craft as a full-time career.
  2.  

  3. Carve Out a Niche - How do you do your work differently? Are your products and services for a certain type of person or audience? What can you do with your work that's totally unique? Develop your own persona, your own set of offerings that's just a little bit different than what's already out there.
  4.  

  5. Build a Resume - Whether you want to work your craft as an employee or as a business owner, you'll need to show that you're experienced. Early on you may not have a lot to put on a resume, so seek out volunteer or non-paying opportunities that will give you that experience. Look at previous jobs that may have required you to use the same skills, even though you might not have had the exact title. If you have the time and energy, consider moonlighting or taking some one-off projects or a part-time gig in the field you’re looking to break into.
  6.  

  7. Join a Flock – Seek out a trade association, industry organization, or just a network of people who are doing the same work. Be active, ask a lot of questions, let people know that you're trying to break in to the industry, ask for ways you can lend your talents to the group, offer to take people out to coffee, to collaborate with them on their next project. Above all, be genuine with this group. They'll be like your new family.
  8.  

  9. Tell Everyone - Tell everyone you know - friends, family, former co-workers, the guy who makes your coffee at the corner café – about your ‘new’ line of work. This is for two reasons: 1) so you get comfortable claiming your new career, and 2) so people you know start seeing you as this person. Ideally, you should get some self-promotion tools in place - business cards, a website or blog - so you can showcase your talent to the world.
  10.  

  11. Define Your Prey - Clearly define who your target customer is or what type of organization you want to work for. How far are you willing to travel? How many hours do you want to work? What types of people do you want to work with? What kind of salary are you willing to accept? Get clear about what it is you're actually looking for, and then...
  12.  

  13. Go Hunting - Talk to contacts in your network that can introduce you to your target clients. Hang out in places where your clients hang out (be sure to bring your self-promotion items with you), meet people and follow up with them, even if it's just for personal reasons. This step is about building the relationships that will get you closer to your ideal client or type of work.
  14.  

  15. Be Patient Persistent - If you're lucky, you may achieve success overnight. If you're patient, you'll wait as long as it takes for success to come to you. But if you're persistent, you'll realize that it takes both time and consistent effort for you to reach a desired level of success, and you'll continue to do the work required to meet your goals.

Have any other tips for how to make your part-time passion your full-time career? Drop 'em in the comments.

photo credit: Tony the Misfit

cheers,
k

QUICK POLL: what do you want most for valentine's day?

 poll_survey

I'm doing some research for a future post, Dear Reader, and I could really use your input.

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and from my experience, it's a holiday that seems to cause more angst than any other. There's the increased pressure of what to get your beloved, and the heightened expectation of what you'll receive. Then there are those who relish the once-a-year opportunity to vocally denounce love, the commercialization of love, and the love of commercialization. And finally there's that lonely lot - that each year we all secretly hope we're not a member of - of unattached, uninvolved folk who feel compelled to treat V-day as a national day of mourning.

So I thought it'd be interesting to get a pulse on what kind of things people actually want for V-day. I've created two polls - one for the ladies, and one for the gents. When you get a moment, give me your thoughts. I'll share  the answers with you before V-day.

Here's the poll for ladies:

LADIES: What Kind of V-Day Gift Would You Prefer This Year?
A store-bought gift (e.g., flowers, lingerie)
An experience gift (e.g., dinner, spa, travel)
A sexual gift
I want to be left alone
What gift? V-day is for suckas!
  
pollcode.com free polls

 alternate link: http://poll.pollcode.com/A8N 

And here's one for the guys...

GUYS: What Kind of V-Day Gift Would You Prefer This Year?
A store-bought gift (e.g., cologne, clothing)
An experience gift (e.g., travel, spa)
A sexual gift
I want to be left alone
What gift? V-day is for suckas!
  
pollcode.com free polls

alternate link: http://poll.pollcode.com/CrYq 

cheers,

k

adult beverages: how to make a caipirinha
caipirinha.jpg

caipirinha

It's that time of year when I start getting impromptu invites from friends who've cleaned off their patios and decks and have people over to share good food, good conversation and verygood drinks. I hate showing up empty-handed, and it's not always time- or cost-effective to cook something to share with a crowd. That's when I reach for one of my favorite cocktail recipes. It's easy to make yet still unique enough to spark some conversation around the drink itself.

What is this springtime spirit, you ask? None other than the beloved Brazilian beverage: the caipirinha.

Pronounced: kye-pee-REE-nyuh, I first had this drink when I visited Rio 6 years ago. Within minutes of arriving at our hotel, my friend and I made our way out onto the streets of Ipanema. We made quick friends with two lively (and drop-dead gorgeous) cariocas who insisted that they be the ones to buy us our first caipirinhas. They took us a few steps to a little booth / shack where a guy was serving up the citrusy drinks for $1 USD apiece! I watched as the guy chopped, smushed, and poured what ended up being the best drink i'd ever had (okay, maybe the scenery had a little to do with it too).

Anyhow, I made him make me another one and asked him to show me how to recreate the drink when I got home...the rest is history. Don't let the fancy name fool you, it's a really simple fix once you get the hang of it. And if you get raised eyebrows when you go to serve it to your guests, just tell 'em what I always say, "It's like a mojito, but without the mint".

Ingredients:

  • 1 lime
  • 2 rounded teaspoons granulated sugar (superfine if ya got it)
  • cachaca (kuh-SHA-suh; brazilian rum) - if u don't have cachaca, u can substitute any other white rum or even vodka, but then you'd have to call the drink a caipivodka or caipiroska, don't worry. by any other name, it still tastes just as sweet
  • crushed ice
  • a pestle, muddler, or a wooden spoon
  • old-fashioned or 'lowball' glass tumbler
  • sugarcane - optional garnish

slice the ends off of the lime. cut the lime into four wedges, then cut each of the wedges in half. place the cut lime in the glass, and add the sugar. give the sugar and lime a good pressing / mushing with your muddler, pestle or spoon - the point is to get all the juicy, pulpy goodness out of the limes and to dissolve most of the sugar so you don't end up with a grainy beverage. next, add the crushed ice almost to the top of the glass. add the cachaca - again, almost filling the glass - and stir the mixture to combine everything. serve with a stalk of sugarcane as a garnish, or just slip in your straw and enjoy!

97%ALCOHOLIC

cheers,

k