Monday, April 30, 2012

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal !

The Lean Green Bean
It is Foodie Pen Pal reveal day. When I joined Tina Reale's Best Body Bootcamp 
so many of the members were also Foodie Pen Pals.   I delayed joining for a little while but it seemed like fun to get some interesting food from different parts of the country.  People were revealing food from Trader Joe's, World Market, and even Kroger.  We don't have those around here in Townieville (wow I sound small town right now!) so I thought it would be cool.   I was matched up with Katy from Thrifty Threads   
and here is what she sent: 

The first thing I dug into were the Somersault bag which is described as "crunchy nuggets baked with sunflower seeds and toasted grains"  They tasted just as good as the bag suggests,  lightly salted with sea salt and the great flavor of the sunflower seeds.  I found another bag of cinnamon sugar flavor at the vitamin store and they were delicious too.  Next up was the packet of Justin's Nut Butter.  I've seen this all over the foodie blogs and it was good.  The tea was from the World Market, pomegranate is one of my favorites and I've been reading the benefits of white tea.  This tea is fabulous, plus it comes in a pyramid infuser which makes all tea taste better. I'm saving the hazelnut chocolate wafers to share with the hubs who is very excited about this new foodie pen pal thing.  The most unique items was whole nutmeg which I've never ventured to use.  Katy suggested in her hand written note to add it to coffee or even alfredo sauce.  I will have to try that soon (and look up how to gate them).  Thanks Katy for the great food and the sweet note.  It was great being matched up with you!

There are over 600 people in the US and Canada participating in this monthly event.  I was so surprised that the person I was to send a box to was actually only 20 minutes away in the city I work in every day.  Talk about a small world.  She doesn't have a blog so if she wants to share about the box I sent her I'll post it here.

If you are interested in checking out what Foodie Pen Pals are all about, check out Lindsay's blog The Lean Green Bean     Here are the basics:

And now it's time for some details about Foodie Penpals.  In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:
-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 
If you’re interested in participating for May, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.
You must submit your information by May 4th as pairings will be emailed on May 5th!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Remembering a Teacher, a Community Member, a Friend.

When you live in the small city you grew up in, you go to a lot of wakes.  It’s not that more people die here, it’s just that more people touch each others lives.  Even when we think we are going to just to support one of our friends that lost a loved one, we find memories of our own reflected in the pictures on display in the funeral home.  We are all interconnected in a special way.  From time to time it feels suffocating, but more often than not, it is comfort in the connection.  These roots run deep and it helps us not feel as if we are floating on our own. 

 Today we said our final good bye to Mr. Richard Betz a teacher beloved throughout the community.  I stood in line for an hour with my husband who grew up golfing with Mr. Betz, my mother-in-law who took part in the healing touch ministry Mr. Betz and his wife led at the local hospital, and a high school friend a few years my senior who came on behalf of her classmates that live far away.  There were friends who met the Betzs through their yoga instruction and former athletes that can contribute their golf swing, wrestling moves and sportsmanship to Mr. Betz.  With wet eyes and crackling voices we told his wife our best memories of him.  They were all unique.  I was lucky enough to grow up as an extended part of his family.  My parents stopped by afterwards and they had stories of their own from family birthday parties, graduations and weddings.  Although his lifetime was far too short, it was a life time filled with people, stories, and community.

Mr. Betz’s teaching style was simple.  Love your subject, love your students, work hard.  His lesson plans didn’t come from the latest and greatest study on education.  They came from the nightly news, the New York Times, and the 3 Stooges.   He facilitated conversations by sitting at our level and just asking what we thought.  I took his AP Government class during the Impeachment of President Clinton.  Every morning he came in with a VHS tape from the night before of Cokie Roberts covering the latest phase of the saga.   His adoration for Cokie was contagious and we cheered when she came on the screen.  What better way to learn about government than to see it in action.  Reading the online guest book of his obituary a student shared a similar story of learning government through current news, but he had Mr. Betz during Watergate.  The political junky in me (that he helped create) is a bit jealous of that.  If they kept voter registration stats, Mr. Betz would be the all time highest recruiter in Montgomery County.  He didn’t care what party you registered for but you would register.  If you needed help, he had a political personality quiz or two that would help you find your party. 

Mr. Betz was notorious for cutting out New York Times articles he thought a student might be interested in.  A good friend who is a political science professor today remembers Mr. Betz cutting out articles for him even though their politics could not be more different.  Another online writer remembers Mr. Betz making her feel welcome as she adjusted to America and still brought her articles about her home country to the grocery store she worked at after graduation.  

When things got too heavy, Mr. Betz called on the 3 Stooges.  Most of us were too young to be that familiar with them so we found it hysterical.  Besides the laughter Mr. Betz also had a purpose to showing them through the moral of the story or a connection between Larry , Moe, and Curly and some of our current elected officials. When a student was having a hard day, Mr. Betz could tell.  He’d write a pass for them to stop by later or stay after class.  He was there to listen, there to help.  If you just needed some quiet time for yourself, he’d give you that too.  Love your subject, love your students, work hard.  In a day when teachers and students are drowning in educational jargon, there is a beauty in the simplicity of his teaching. 

Mr. and Mrs. Betz were before their time when it came to teaching the “whole person.”  They were into yoga before yoga was cool.  We were offered free and discounted student rates at the classes they taught at the local Methodist Church.  These classes were the perfect escape as we stressed over college acceptances, graduation, and high school life.  They began healing touch or Reiki style therapy at the hospital with Sister Rita Jean helping countless people.  The Betzs traveled to Arizona a couple of times a year for yoga and healing retreats.  It seemed a natural retirement place except for the dedication the Betzs had to their community.    What was natural to them was to stay here, continue yoga, healing touch therapy, golf, teaching youth golf clinics and being  active members of their families and community. Sure, Mr. Betz still lamented that it was harder to find the New York Times two hours away from NYC than two thousand miles away.  But home was where they stayed. 

After we gave our condolences to Mrs. Betz she turned to her brother-in-law and said, “Can you believe it?  Who would have thought such a big impact?”  Of course her brother-in-law believed it, we all believed it.  But to Mr. and Mrs. Betz, it was just part of living in a community.  Their daily activities were not for attention or accolades, but to be present where they were needed and to give where they could.  It was so simple that I didn’t realize the full impact he had until now.  I hope he knew how many lives he touched and what a better place this community was because of him.  I am glad we were all able to tell his wife and family.  Love your subject, love your students, work hard and go out and vote. Rest in peace, Mr. Betz, Namaste.  

Local Flavor: Dolly Undercover

It's Sunday, a great day to shop and prepare for the week.  There's no better day to encourage buying local than today. We've got some amazing hometown shops here in Amsterdam and you know I like to encourage you to patronize them (If you missed it check it out here.)  What you didn't know is how passionately Dolly feels.  So in this segment of "Local Flavor"  Dolly takes you on her epic journey for the only thing she spends her paper route money on - Dog Food!

First of all, Dolly loves her new home in New York.  She came from the south where it never snowed and now that she lives here, she can't get enough.  She'd like to thank you for all of your votes in the Vote Local, Vote Dolly  campaign.  She didn't win, but she's not allowed to eat burritos anyway.  She has a very specific, very healthy diet which she can, and does, buy locally. 

Dolly loves the Country Feed Store on Route 30.  There are all types of natural, healthy dog and cat food as well toys, harnesses, leashes, and other supplies.  Most people drive by and think it is just a gas station, but it is a whole lot more.  They've expanded to include  small cafe tables to enjoy the fresh coffee and people snacks.  It's a convenience store, a feed store, and greenhouse all in one. It's tiny parking lot is always full as people stop by for lotto, coffee, or gas. It's a hub of activity that draws in locals to see whats going on around town. Plus, Dolly's mom and dad when to high school with it's owners.  That is what buying local is all about.

Something that worries Dolly is that a pet super center just opened up the road.   The bright lights and shiny coupons they are sending out are tricking people into thinking that it is better to shop there than at Country Feed.  Dolly thinks this is hogwash and took it upon herself to put on her hoodie and  go undercover to check out the competition.  It's hard to type with paws so Dolly submitted these pictures to help tell her story:

Dolly can't be seen shopping at chain stores.
Shiny new mega store. 

Price check, Aisle 3.

Where is a dog supposed to keep a discount card?

Canned food is the secret ingredient to Dolly's Dinner, but this place doesn't even have her brand.

Back at the Country Feed Store:

No discount card necessary!

The RIGHT canned food PLUS two free samples!

What a deal!
As you can see, Dolly got what she wanted, saved money, AND got free samples from the nice guy at the check out counter.  SOMEONE wouldn't let her buy any treats but she'll let that go for now because....

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mentor Monday: Part 2

It's that time again kiddies, Mentor Monday.  In case you missed Part 1, I signed up for a mentoring program recently to balance my need of doing something valuable with time with my slight nostalgia for teaching.  This is a site based, interest centered program.  In other words, go to school, hang out, participate activities student is interested in., bond with a student and be there if they need any guidance.  No learning standards, no lesson plans, no correcting papers, no hour long meetings with my supervisor. Basically, all the benefits of teaching, none of the nasty side effects. 

Back to Mentor Monday.  This was my second meeting with A.  She had suggested that this time we would draw during this session.  Therefore, I didn't see a problem with the dress and heals I was wearing.  Fortunately, I grabbed a pair of flats before walking in the school because when I got there, A wanted to "Just Dance."  That is, "Just Dance 3" on the Wii, which I just so happen to be a champion of.  Champion of my living room, as I was quick to find out, doesn't stand a chance against a high school student.  It was my first time doing a competition style and she beat me hands down every single time.  I did learn about "Simon Says" which is a bonus that is won after hitting certain levels.  I believe that I have this feature and I'll have to try it out at home.  It is super fun.

The hour flew by quickly.  A was able to tell me about her recent school trip and give me a bit of an update.  But with the video game, we didn't get to talk much.  It was probably good since it was only our second meeting.  I have a feeling though, that she is trying to pick activities she thinks I'll like rather than the other way around.  I mentioned I had "Just Dance 3" and the next week she wanted to do it.  I said I was going to the pool after our meeting and she suggested going swimming next week even though she can't swim.  It will be a challenge to get her to stop worrying about what will make me happy and focus on what she is interested in trying and accomplishing. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Local Flavor - The Beginning

First - Google reader (RRS) feed didn't post my last post.  Please check it out!  Unwanted Input

Ok, now onto today...

Those of you who have been here since the beginning (when I hardly posted) remember that this started out as a "buy local" blog to track the local spending of my wedding. Hey, thanks for sticking around!  However, I haven't figured out how one blogs about planning a wedding while making the all the teenie tiny decisions, working a second job to pay for all the teenie tiny decisions and maintaining a relationship so that there is a marriage at the end of the event.  So the blog fell away at the time, but it's back and now will, at times, focus on the "Local Flavor" that makes this life in a small city so great. 

There are so many hard working business people in this city.  They are talented, they are passionate, and they are dedicated.  They are a dying breed. A local Pizzeria and Restaurant that is a cornerstone of our community is closing in May due to bankruptcy.  There is not a single person who grew up here that hasn't eaten there once.  There isn't a single community organization that has asked for help that didn't receive it in abundance from this establishment.  As the date gets closer, I'll talk more about it.

Money spent locally expands locally.  Every $1 spent locally gets re-spent 5 to 15 times.  Another way to look at it:  spend $1 at a national chain and 80% of it immediately leaves the area.  Spend that same $1 locally, and 70% of of it STAYS in the community.   If we want to save our cities, we have to spend our money in them, not outside of them.  In the DQ household, we do it as much as we can.  Could we do it more?  Sure.  Everyday we work to improve it.  Source: Choose Local

It's time to put our money were our mouths are. Look for these logos on blog posts for some local flavor.  If you live nearby, come shop here.  If you don't, find your own Local Flavor and show it some love by spending your money.  Strong economies start at home.