Dec 31, 2012

Ceiling Fan Directions for the Seasons

A while back, I made entries about Thermostat Settings and Utility Bills as ways the air conditioner and furnace perform the best, and how to save some money. Another inexpensive way that helps are ceiling fans. Current ones are required to have a way to "reverse" the rotation of the fan blades. During summer counter-clockwise and in winter, clockwise.

How can I tell which way it is spinning? Stand under it and look up at the spinning blades. Make sure you have some space above your head so it doesn't whack you. Use the lowest speed setting so you can actually tell which way the blades are going. Here’s why I recommend using the ceiling fan and reversing it for different seasons.

Summer - Counter-Clockwise
  1. When spinning counter-clockwise, the fan blows air down on the area covered by the fan.
  2. This creates a draft that makes you feel about 4-6 degrees cooler by making your perspiration evaporate more. 
  3. Making you feel cooler, you can set your thermostat for the air conditioner a few degrees higher, which save electric usage on the utility bill.
  4. A ceiling fan uses less electricity than the air conditioner and furnace (yes, the furnace blower is running in the summer to move the cool air through the house). 
Following this recommendation, I was able to keep my thermostat set at 78 F this summer. This reduced my electric bill tremendously by making it feel like it was actually at 72-74 F. Another suggestion... when you leave for the day, turn the fan off. Ceiling fans do not actually "cool" the air, they cool you. I leave mine on when I go out because I have 2 dogs here, and they need it.

Winter - Clockwise
  1. When spinning clockwise, the fan pulls the air UP from the area right under it.
  2. Pulling air UP in winter helps because heat rises, so guess where there is more heat? On the floor or along the ceiling? Pulling the cooler air up better combines it with the warm air, when it is circulated down along the walls.
  3. Use the slowest speed, you want to circulate the air, now create a draft that will make you feel chilled.
  4. A ceiling fan uses less electricity and natural than it takes your large furnace to keep you warm.
Following this recommendation, I was able to keep my thermostat at 55 F this year. Again, my electric bill remains low, but my natural gas bill is almost non-existent. Sure, I still have to bundle up a little more than in July, but I'm comfortable.

Anyway, just wanted to share some thoughts on how you can save some too... it has worked well for me. 

Dec 27, 2012

Ground Meat Comparison

Since I'm an "adult" now, I've always tried to watch what I eat. But I got into a conversation with my son about how closely I watch it. Fortunately I research everything, and have actually learned some things from the next generation. I was brought up that ground turkey was better for you than ground beef. But guess what? In all of my research, butchers have caught up to the difference. This entry is about comparing the nutritional contents of ground beef to ground turkey.

"Back in the day," I was brought up that ground turkey was better for you than ground beef. But, the manufacturers of beef have progressed. So, here is my research between the two (due to research on buying both, and online). I'm going to share the RAW information, since I don't know how you prepare it... The ground meat for turkey was 97/3 and the beef was 95/5.

     Turkey          Beef    
Serving Size 100g100g
Calories 149137
Calories from fat 7545
Total Fat 8g5g
Saturated Fat 2g2g
Cholesterol 79mg62mg
Sodium 94mg66mg
Carbs 00
Protein 17g21g
Vitamin A 00
Calcium 1%1%
Vitamin C 0%0%
Iron 7%13%

Bottom line? HMMMMM. Seems to me that beef is healthier than turkey. The only real differences are in taste and price. Beef costs more than turkey, but it is "better" for you if you can find the right blend. It ultimately comes down to selection of the mix. I compared apples to apples here. If you select a lower cut of meat, that will change the chart. But, you need to watch it if you care about your health...

Dec 17, 2012

Calzone vs. Stromboli

It is always interesting when you have long conversations with people about what the differences are between similar things. The first blog entry I did on this topic covered sausage, bratwurst, and kielbasa. This entry is about the differences between a calzone and a stromboli.

Traditionally, a calzone is made using bread dough that is covered with the ingredients, folded over, edges sealed, and cooked. It is made in a single serving size (easier to walk and eat) in a half-moon shape. A stromboli is made by cutting bread dough as a square, covering it with the ingredients, it is rolled up and cooked. Typically made in a multiple serving size (so you can share it).

Now this is where you say "BUT THAT'S NOT HOW THEY DO IT NOW!" Exactly. Time changes a lot of things. In the U.S.,  both are typically made from pizza dough instead of bread dough, and are about the same serving size. The calzone is still folded over, but the stromboli isn't rolled. The ingredients are put down the middle and the 2 sides are folded up so the seam is down the top middle or they are folded in half like the calzone.

This is where I also step in to say that this isn't necessarily true of how the are made EVERYWHERE. Different regions of the U.S. and even all over the world may vary. Above is just what the majority of the people agreed on and what I found in the research that is similar. Below is where it got a lot greyer about the differences.

Origins ItalyU.S
Cheeses Mozzarella, Ricotta, 
Parmesan, Provolone
Tomatoes          YesNo
Sauces   On top or on the side  
for dipping
  Rolled Inside 
Meats YesYes
Veggies YesYes
Cooking Baked or FriedBaked
Shape Half Moon  Half Moon or Squared 

So what does it all come down to as the differences? Just like the sausage, bratwurst, and kielbasa entry, whatever you want to call it and how you want it made, is a personal choice. They thing to keep in mind today is when you are reading a menu, read what ingredients are used. Other than that, just get eating and enjoy...

Dec 6, 2012

Work on your OWN Car - DIY

"Back in my day," spending time with Grandad meant that we were in the back alley behind the house, working on family cars to keep them running. I learned a lot on those weekends plus spending time with brothers of my friends that happened to be auto mechanics. That is why I spent a lot of time with my first car, a 1978 Buick Regal (pictured at right). I learned how to change spark plugs, rebuild alternators, rebuild distributors (remember those?), change batteries, replace fuses, change lights, replace engine seals, replace air filters, but most importantly to check all of the fluids an engine needs.

Over the years, vehicles have become more technological, we all became busier, the "stop shops" popped up to do that all FOR us, have caused us to forget how to do things, or just not bother to even learn. I decided today to change my own oil, replace a burnt out tail bulb, and top off my fluids in my 2006 Highlander.

While it meant I had to expend some elbow grease, bust a couple of knuckles, I have to say that it was all worth it. When done, I got to stand back and feel that I accomplished something.  Not only did I get the jobs done successfully, I learned more about my vehicle and how the rear-wheel drive cars differ from front wheel or all wheel drives when it comes to the engine. The BEST thing I experienced today? How much money I saved.

If I had taken it to one of those "quick serve" shops, it would have cost me over $70. By doing it myself, I only spent $35, which is a 50% savings. By doing it myself, my monthly cell bill is almost paid or can go out to dinner at a really NICE restaurant.

My bottom line on this, is that if you learn to do some things for yourself, you will keep money in your pocket achieve a sense of accomplishment, and take care of the baby that takes you to work each and every day...

Hot Dog Fiend

Have to admit, I'm a hot dog fiend. Always have been, always will be. I had a job as a contractor, and "back in my day," the quickest way to eat was at a convenience store by grabbing a couple of dogs and eating them in the parking lot (Sheetz has the best ones, IMHO). Then I worked in a convenience store, so the best meal I could get was a dog (on the roller cooker). And even now, whenever I am going past a dog house, my left hand causes my car to automatically pull over. This entry is about the 2 most awesome dog houses I've encountered.

I fell into doggie heaven when I moved to Medina, Ohio. Just north of the town square, I discovered Dan's Dogs. I got to know the owner very well, and even though it used to be a bar when he bought it, he felt it should change it to meet the community. Their menu has over 35 different ways that you can order your dog, and in 2 different sizes (regular or jumbo). But he kept the decor like it was back in the 50s. How can you turn down a diner setting that has that many options for dogs down? Every time I go there, I always order the Dog Paws and 2 jumbo Old Yellers. He even has an annual hot dog eating contest. They even have an antique Wurlitzer juke box that still plays 45 RPM vinyl records.

Then one day at work, my car automatically pulled me into a driveway for the Doghouse in Bedford, OH. A very small place, used to be a barber shop, but definitely worth the stop (dog topped with my choices, bag of chips, and a can of pop, less than $4). They are reported as having the best hot corned beef sandwich too. So if you are down on Broadway, make sure you stop here, don't blink, you might pass it. There are 2 stools that you can sit on inside, but the best way is to eat them at the picnic table outside, or in the front seat of your car.

To bottom line it, I'm a hot dog fiend. I've boiled them, nuked them, baked them, made casseroles with them, grilled them, put them on a stick and cooked them over a camp fire, put them on a toothpick and cooked them with a Zippo. I've tried the beef ones, the mixed ones, the "home made" ones, and the new turkey based ones. As long as they involve mustard, relish, chili, and cheese... I'm good to go. Enjoy your lunch...

Nov 19, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 - Part VI (Turkey)

This would be a very difficult topic to address because so many people use so many different ways of preparing a Thanksgiving turkey. Examples of the differences that people do for Thanksgiving are:
  • Some stuff the turkey cavity and neck
  • Some don't stuff the turkey at all
  • Some use wire brackets to close the legs
  • Some (like me) actually hand sew the cavity & neck area close
  • Some don't close anything
  • Some use plastic steaming bags
  • Some openly roast the turkey and tent it with foil at the end
  • Some baste during roasting
  • Some never baste at all
  • Some thaw it on the counter in a water bath overnight
  • Some thaw it in the microwave
My only point to all of this is that regardless (not "irregardless") of what process you use to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey, there are some things we ALL have in common to insure a delicious holiday dinner and avoid getting people sick.

  1. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that it reaches at least 165 F in the deepest part of the thighs, breast and stuffing
  2. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes after you take it out of the oven before carving
  3. Get all of the leftovers back in the refrigerator within 2 hours of taking it out of the oven
  4. Eat or use the leftovers within 3 days of cooking it all
  5. Don't feed the dogs from the table (yeah, that isn't recommended EVER)
  6. Always rinse the bird before stuffing or cooking
  7. Remove the bag of giblets if it has one!!!!
  8. Have some dishes available for a vegetarian family member
But my most important point is that you need to remember that holidays are not necessarily about "tradition," but more about spending time with those around you. Sometimes you need to compromise. See my original blog entry about Thanksgiving Compromise to better understand. You want to spend time with friends and family, but it has to be enjoyable to all to make it gel. Remember, it IS a holiday and we all want to be happy. Make it happen... and


Thanksgiving 2012 - Part V (Pumpkin Pie)

I'm jumping ahead a little here about Thanksgiving and addressing a pumpkin custard pie. I'll make another entry to discuss the turkey. The following is another family recipe that I got from Aunt Phyllis, who got it from my Great Grandma Eunice. I'll only pre-warn you that it is DELICIOUS and makes two 9" shallow pies or one heck of a deep dish one.

  • 1 large can Libby's Pumpkin (29 oz)
  • 1 can evaporated Carnation milk (12 oz)
  • 1 can of water (12 oz, use milk can)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 7 eggs slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 nine inch pie shells, unbaked
  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly 
  2. Pour into pie shells
  3. Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes
  4. Set oven to 350 F and bake 45 - 55 minutes until toothpick is clean from center

Nov 12, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 - Part IV (Green Bean Casserole)

It was never really a common dish at my family Thanksgiving dinners, but I know a LOT of people make green bean casserole only on that day. We did have it once in a while, but most often we substituted candied yams or home made mashed potatoes instead. But, those are other entries. This one is to share the simple recipe and my family recipe for green bean casserole. Simple one first.

  • 1 - 10 3/4 oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Dash ground black pepper
  • 3 - 14.5 oz cans French style green beans, drained
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded cheese 
  • 1 1/3 cups French fried onions
  1. Mix soup, milk, pepper, beans, cheese and half of the onions in a 2 qt casserole dish.
  2. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes (when it is bubbling slightly). 
  3. Stir and cover with the remaining fried onions.
  4. Bake for 5 minutes.
Okay, that is an easy recipe to make that tastes pretty good. But my grandmother made this casserole too, and made me learn it.

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 cups cooked green beans
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup smashed Ritz crackers
  • 1 TBSP melted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium, stir in flour, and heat for 1 minute.
  3. Mix in the onion, sour cream, green beans, and shredded cheese. Stir to evenly coat.
  4. Pour that into a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. 
  5. In another small bowl, mix cracker crumbs and remaining butter.
  6. Drizzle over the beans.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden.
As you can see, both recipes take about the same amount of time, the first is very simple, but the second adds some additional taste and texture. The green beans in the second one can be the canned and drained ones from the first recipe, but steaming fresh and raw green beans makes them memorable. Either way, enjoy...

Thanksgiving 2012 - Part III (Grandma's Stuffing)

In Thanksgiving 2012 - Part II, a simple, tasty recipe for making stuffing in a crock pot appeared. Now I'm going to share my Grandma's stuffing. I warn you up front that this recipe makes a LOT of stuffing and takes some time. But then again, there is no such thing as having "too much stuffing," especially when it is this good.

  • 2 loaves of bread
  • 1 lbs ground sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 lbs ground beef, pork, or even turkey
  • 2 medium onions (chopped)
  • 8 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 sticks margarine or butter
  • Dash of thyme
  • Dash of sage
  • Dash of celery salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  • Dash of marjoram
  • Dash of oregano
  • Dash of rosemary
  • Dash of basil
  1. On Tuesday evening, lay out all of the slices of bread on the counter to dry overnight.
  2. On Wednesday, cut the bread slices into cubes, and continue with the next steps.
  3. Brown the ground meat and onions in a large skillet.
  4. In a medium stock pot, bring vegetable broth to a slight boil and melt the butter in it.
  5. Turn the broth to low, add the celery, and simmer for about 5-8 minutes.
  6. Drain the celery but retain the broth (scoop out celery with a slotted spoon).
  7. In an extremely large bowl or stock pot, put in all of the meat, celery, and bread.
  8. Mix well, and occasionally add a dash of each of the herbs.
  9. Add a little of the broth to make it moist but not wet. Refrigerate.
  10. Thursday morning, mix stuffing again and add any more herbs/spices you want.
  11. Stuff the bird and place extra stuffing in a casserole dish.
  12. Put casserole dish of stuffing in the oven during the last hour of roasting the bird.
Because the stuffing is done Wednesday, don't eat all of it before you need it for the bird.
The above recipe makes enough for a 20 pound turkey and some on the side.
Keep in mind that stuffing should be moist, but not wet.
Make sure that the stuffing reaches 165 F when the stuffed bird is roasted.

A key thing I would be remiss to not share, remember what Grandma always said, "recipes are a guideline, change them as you see fit... you are the one eating it..."

Nov 11, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 - Part II (Stuffing)

As mentioned in Thanksgiving Sometimes IS about Compromise and Thanksgiving 2012 - Part I, it was mentioned that I'd discuss the most often MOST important part of Thanksgiving dinner, the STUFFING.

This is a modern recipe for making stuffing but compromising how it is done for amazing taste and economy of scale. A lot of people do not stuff their turkeys anymore with home made stuffing but still require a lot of work and space in the oven for the casserole dishes used for stuffing, the green bean casserole, and even candied yams. How about we compromise what it takes to prepare stuffing AND save you some room in the oven? Use a crock pot...

  • 1 14oz bag of Pepperidge  Farm herb stuffing mix
  • 1 stick of margarine or butter
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • Spices/herbs that you like
  1. Melt butter in the water in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add celery and cook on low for 5 mins.
  3. Pour stuffing mix, celery, and broth into the crock pot.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, adding some liquid, herbs, and stir as needed until the turkey is done.
Easy peasy, tasty, saves room in the oven, and most importantly is filling and moist. Add a bouillon cube to the water to add a little flavor. I recommend a vegetable bouillon cube. Using the crock pot also enables you to offer to make the stuffing when you are having dinner at another house (just be sure to cook it mostly before you get there so it is done when the turkey is). Enjoy

Nov 10, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 - Part I

As discussed in Thanksgiving Sometimes IS About Compromise, I said that I'd share some family recipes handed down to me from my grandparents. Here goes with Part I, about the turkey baste and "tenting" the turkey with foil. This one is fairly simple, but other Thanksgiving entries will be made about the 2nd most important part of that meal, stuffing! Now, back to the baste.

  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine softened/melted
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry or apple juice (apple cider works well too)
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp savory
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients
  2. Brush/rub liberally on the turkey in the last 2 hours of roasting
  • Use a basting brush instead of your bare hands
  • Use whatever you want (whiskey, vodka, gin, etc) as the liquid for the baste. Most of it will all be cooked off in the last 2 hours.
  • Use Old Bay seasoning instead of the long list above, especially if from New England
  • Use a large sheet of aluminum foil, folded in half, to provide a "pup tent" over the turkey as it is baked and basted in the last 2 hours. This prevents the baste from burning before it invades the flavor of the meat

Nov 9, 2012

Thanksgiving Sometimes IS About Compromise

Over the years, we learn that life requires some compromise, especially on the holidays, and specifically about the meals we eat for them. One of the biggest, Thanksgiving Day. I grew up going to my grandparent's and learning the family recipes to make the meat stuffing, stuff the bird, sew it closed, make Italian salad dressing, and the desserts; all of which made from scratch. We had to start the stuffing on Monday, the salad dressing and pies on Tuesday, and then get up before dawn to get it all pulled together and put the bird in the oven on Thursday. We spent a LOT of time in the kitchen. When we started hosting Thanksgiving at our house, I actually shooed my parents and sisters out of the kitchen so I could get it done myself. It was just easier that way.

I continued my family traditions of cooking when the in-laws came for Thanksgiving. Bear in mind that I grew up cooking with Italians, Greeks, and Germans but my in-laws were predominately English. They were very surprised at what they tasted in my cooking. The largest bird I ever prepared was a 29 pound bird, and we had NO leftovers by the end of the meal. My nephews were astonished to watch me get the stuffing OUT of the bird (they had never seen that, both the body cavity AND the neck).

We now get to the point of this entry, compromise. They compromised their experience for mine, and I tamed down the recipe used for them. A few years later, my ex-wife decided a vegetarian menu suited her, I stopped making full turkeys, and compromised by cooking a small turkey breast (just for me), and took meat out of my stuffing recipe so we could both enjoy it. I still got my turkey, discovered a few new veg recipes that I still make, and it was all good. Compromise with everyone involved, makes the holidays smoother and more memorable.

Thanksgiving Dinner
Can I extend it a little MORE? Hell yes. Family OFTEN requires you to compromise and keep the bigger picture of the holiday in mind. Eventually my son admitted that he hated the taste of turkey, but liked cheeseburgers. I compromised with him about "turkey for Thanksgiving" by using Grandma's Burger Recipe and make turkey burgers for the holiday. I still make the mashed potatoes from scratch, and everyone agrees that they are the best. Maybe I'll break down and share that family recipes for the mashed potatoes and crock pot stuffing with all y'all in the coming weeks since the holidays are coming up.

Bottom line, life is all about compromise. Don't give up everything you desire in life, but take into account those around you for theirs. Life is about sharing it, not making it complicated. Along the way, you'll start some new traditions that nobody has ever mentioned before... like turkey cheeseburgers for Thanksgiving...

Oct 27, 2012

Jobs Lead to Experiencing Life

The last 2 weeks have been an interesting trip down the path of life that I am currently taking. But my point of this entry is how ENTERTAINING my life has become. Consider this path, if you are seeking something instead of flipping burgers or delivering pizzas as a career, just to pay the bills.

I started a career where I only call on commercial accounts for utilities (gas and electric). The deregulation in utilities that occurred here offers a lot of opportunities in the next few years.  With my background and experience, I was able to be promoted after only 2 weeks of work here, to become a Leadership Mentor to train new marketing specialists become better at what they do every day on the street. But the point of this, is to share what I've been able to encounter in my personal life BECAUSE of  it.

I've learned more about what is "out there" because I've walked it, talked to business owners, and seen/experienced more that I would EVER get online or in the AAA magazine. I met a 72 year old German woman the other day that runs a family business by making bratwurst and hot dogs by hand. Oh yeah, she also is the landlord for 2 apartments and rents storage areas in her old warehouse. Talk about an interesting person to come across on my path in life. She was barely 5 feet tall, and I'm 6' 4" but her spark, zeal, and sharpness of mind made me feel like I was in kindergarten again.

Speaking of which, another business that I call on are daycare facilities.  When was the last time you sat in an extremely small plastic chair at a really low table to fill out your work papers while 4 and 5 year old kids keep pulling on your arm and yammering in your ear about what they are going to be dressed as for Halloween?

This new career allows me to walk into ANY business in my territory. Sure, I get to walk into the common places like hair salons, barbershops, restaurants, and convenience stores... but I encounter the most interesting people when I run down the rabbit trail, and go into taverns, pizza parlors, tattoo shops, gentlemen clubs, lounges, autobody shops, and dive diners. Sure, I can't always help them reduce their utility expenses, but I get to meet people, learn about new things of where I live, and will return to them with personal business.
Harley Davidson "Liberator" (photo t...
Harley Davidson "Liberator" (photo taken in the Frysk Museum, Leeuwarden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For example, by sauntering down an alley yesterday, I walked into a "custom and performance" motorcycle shop. They restore and custom build bikes. Even though I couldn't help them on their utilities, I was allowed to walk around their shop and got to see that they are in the process of restoring 3 Indian Chief motorcycles from the 40s, several Harley-Davidson bikes from the 70s, and were working on a custom chopper. I took off my suit jacket, rolled up my sleeves, and started turning wrenches. Because I worked with Arlen Ness and Dave Perewitz, and was in a shop that worked on their bikes, I just had to experience life again.

My ultimate point of all of this is that you really need to step outside your normal box, take the job that will not only pay the bills, but also give you a ton of personal experience. Talk to people, get to know them. It might not affect your bottom line, but you get to experience things in life that make you smile.

Oct 25, 2012

Fitting the Bun

A hamburger with a rim of lettuce sitting on a...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all spend our lives trying to do things to "fit in" with what is going on around us. I was thinking about that on the drive home today, and then instantly shifted to what I  was going to make for dinner. Then, I blended the thoughts and came to the conclusion that I even make my food "fit in" to what is going to be around it. Mainly this is about hamburgers and how you eat them. Some use a bun, some use 2 pieces of bread, I use a 6" tortilla. What does this mean about "fitting in?"

Tortilla Burgers
If using a bun, make the burger a circle, if using bread, make it square, and if using a tortilla, make it like you see pictured at the right (a long ellipse). I do that so I can place the burger on the lettuce, tomato, and relish; but then am able to fold over each side and then the bottom of the tortilla. If I made it round, it wouldn't fold well, and everything would drip out the bottom and stain my clothes.

If using 2 pieces of bread, making it as a square eliminates the "dead zone" created by a round burger. If using bread, I use a large glass to cut the slices into circles to get rid of the crust, and fit the burger.

I shared my Grandma's Burgers recipe and the comparison between Bread vs. Tortillas. To expand that, here is a bun vs. 2 pieces of bread vs. a 6" tortilla. The info about the condiments or burger isn't included because the same amount of each is used. The data comes from the other entries and the bun from MyFitnessPal. The highest info is in red, the mid with yellow and the lowest with green. Remind you of a stop light?

Nickles Italian BreadLa Banderita TortillaHamburger Bun
Serving Size 2 slices 1 tortilla1 bun
Calories 16081120
Total Fat 2 g.7 g2 g
Sodium 360 mg209 mg206 mg
Total Carbohydrates 30 g15 g21 g
     Sugars 2 g0 g3 g

Notice anything there? Which one has the most green lights? The tortilla has the least calories, total fat, and carbs (especially sugar carbs). Grab a calculator and double all of those numbers if you eat 2 burgers (like most of us do). Scary, isn't it?

Another benefit to using tortillas for sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, burritos, soft tacos, and darn near everything else; I don't buy a loaf a bread for the sandwiches, a package of hamburger buns, a package of hot dog buns, AND a package of tortillas. One package does them all, especially if you rip the tortilla in half for hot dogs. The 6" tortillas cost a LOT less than the others, and you get more of them. The family pack that I buy has 20. To equate, I would have to buy 2.5 packs of hamburger buns and 2 packs of hot dog buns. That dramatically increases the cost of buns vs. tortillas.

I watch my diet and keep some money in my pocket. Both allow me to get that special Snickers bar every month without draining the wallet and feeling the guilt if my waist expands... Bottom line, make it all fit YOU.
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Oct 23, 2012

Navigating the Work Climate

You've completed a job search, updated/drafted the resumé, had to wait for an interview, gone to it, and now have a new position. I skipped an entry about how to conduct yourself during an interview because there are already a ton of websites out there. But, I'm now sharing some advice based on my experiences in a variety of positions over the last few decades, and most of them are common sense, plus based on the company handbook if you bother to read it...

Okay, very basic common sense, but regardless what your new position is, some suggestions from having all of these positions. "FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT" is what people notice when you show up for work and how you will be judged. This includes your immediate supervisor, but also each and every co-worker or customer/client that you come into contact with. And people "talk." Welcome to the grapevine of gossip chain. They do affect your future, but only if you let it.

Manual Labor / RetailMixed (labor / office)Office
Body Clean, odor freeClean, odor freeClean, odor free
Hair (on your head) Clean, brushedClean, brushedClean, brushed/styled
Facial Hair (men) Company policyShaved / trimmedShaved / trimmed
Clothes Uniform (if company policy)
Non-offensive otherwise
Company policyCompany Policy
Breath Clean teeth, odorless Clean teeth, odorless Clean teeth, odorless

What I'm getting at by the table above, is that your body should smell good each and every day that you show up for work, hair should be clean and at least brushed (if not gelled into a current style), face should be smooth, clothes should fit the position accepted, and above everything else, breath should be fresh. It may take gum or a spray, but everybody encountered shouldn't be offended by the cigarette/onions/or the drink from the late last night used to talk to them.

I operated a manual labor business as a contractor by following these suggestions. I got more customers because they "felt" that I was more respectable than the competitors. I worked in the auto body industry because I adhered to company policy, but wasn't restricted by fixing a Corvette by sanding it by hand. I was in management because I wore ties that appealed to my supervisors. I adapted to the field that I was in, and strove to achieve the pay check and bonuses because of HOW I ACTED. Impressions are important, find out what policies are in the handbook for your company, ask questions, and always dress for success.

Oct 16, 2012

Waiting for the Interview Call

Waiting chair edge...
You've job searched, updated & drafted a new resumé, posted it to your profile, applied for a few positions online, & mailed some out in the mailbox. Now sitting on the edge of the favorite chair, holding your phone, telepathically trying to MAKE IT RING. It isn't going to be instantaneous, but if you've drafted the resumé correctly, it could be.

Just to share a little about my experience the last few weeks. I was let go from a position first thing Monday morning (and they wonder why we HATE Mondays). I spent the day updating my resumé, my profile, and searching for jobs.

Found one posted online, applied after re-drafting a resumé that met the position being filled. They called Tuesday for an interview on Wednesday. Still spent Tuesday searching for more jobs. Not just online or in the newspaper, but by driving around a some towns nearby to see who had put out the "Now Hiring" signs. I took a couple of hard copy prints with me, just in case I found a place to drop it off & apply.

While driving to the interview on Wednesday morning, I got a call from a recruiter from another recruiter, for an interview on Friday. After the 1st interview on Wednesday, they told me that they would call me for a 2ND interview by noon if they wanted. More chair edge sitting at 11:55 AM, commanding the phone to ring. It came exactly at noon. The 2nd interview was a full day one (8-5) in the field, followed by a 3RD interview. And, they both would be on Thursday. Very intense set of interviews. At the end of the 3rd, they told me that they would call me by noon on Friday if they were going to offer me the position.

I had the other interview on Friday too. Knowing that the Friday one would be over by 11, I felt comfortable that I could answer the phone at noon if it rang. I went to the 2nd interview in the morning, and WAS able to answer the phone at precisely noon when they called and told me to report to the office on Tuesday at 7:45 AM.

To summarize:
  • Monday of that week I was let go
  • Tuesday I got the call for an interview
  • Wednesday I had an interview, and a call from another company
  • Thursday, a full day field 2nd interview, a 3rd interview that evening
  • Friday, the 2nd interview AND was given (not offered) a position from the first company
Let go from a job on Monday, working by Friday in a higher paying career with potential. Yeah, it was a HELL of a week. But it meant that I had to trade in my tool belt for wearing a suit and tie each and every day. Will I put myself through that again? Hell yes, if I have to.

My key points to all of this, are that it might not be "instantaneous," but with some of your own elbow grease (and fingertips), you can help expedite the calls. They won't ALL turn out to be for positions you are searching, but getting the calls coming in means you are on the right path to finding what you are looking for. Don't accept an interview for a position that you already know that you don't want. It wastes times away from looking for the one that you would accept.

Happy hunting... and good luck...

Oct 12, 2012

Write a Resumé

In not searching for a new job for a few decades, I recently had to. My other entry was about searching for a job online [click HERE], this one is about writing the resumé. You just have to figure out what "style" of resumé to write. Back in MY day, we had one template, now there are a ton. The best way to decide which style to consider, surf to:
Yes, it requires a little reading, but they provide the next step forward in the path of securing an interview. Some things learned in the last few weeks may help you narrow some focus on what is written as a resumé. First, decide which style would apply to the position you are applying for. The 3 basics are (there are more):
  • Chronological (focuses on where you've been for your jobs)
  • Functional (focuses on what you've achieved & the abilities you have)
  • Combination (adds both of the above)
Follow the guides to tailor it to fit the position being applied for. If it is technical, focus on chronological; management, focus on functional. If it requires a little of both, combination. Do not create one "general" resumé that you feel meets all of the needs. Draft a resumé for each position applied for.

Why? The resumé is NOT the interview. The purpose of submitting a resumé is to grab attention for them to want to interview and get more information verbally. The interview SELLS you, not the resumé (that is just a spice to inspire them to call to schedule an interview).

Which leads to some personal observations about resumés:
  • The resumé is to get an interview. Keep it short, 2 or even 3 pages, NO MORE. When I reviewed them, anything over 3 pages was thrown away. Being compelled to read more distracted from my actual job, so I won't waste time on interviewing you face to face.
  • I always had a red pen in my right hand. Spelling or grammar marks were inked, and filed in the round file drawer (trash can). All positions rely on communication. Submit something that doesn't have poor spelling or grammar.
  • Cover letters have disappeared, but if applying for a position by hard copy mail, the cover letter gets them interested in scanning the resumé, and that gets an interview.
  • Use paper that catches attention but is not neon. Printing on a plain, low weight paper makes it harder to read, because "contrast." The harder it makes to read, the less likely that you will be called for an interview. Go to a scrapbook store, get some soft grey, #40 weight paper, and when looking at a stack of resumés, eyes will be drawn to yours. DO NOT PRINT IT ON NEON. That is offensive, especially if I am going to be your boss.
  • Don't use graphics and borders. I thought about hiring you, don't distract me from my real job. I'm processing resumés as fast as possible, taking away my time means that I don't want you in my office. If done on paper, what will it be like face to face?
  • Name the file as LAST NAME. FIRST NAME.***. Most applications are done online or email, make sure that the NAME catches attention. Do NOT name it "Resume for XYZ Company on 10_10_12.***" Don't use all capital letters (in chat worlds, that means yelling). Use something like Jones.Smith 10_11_12.*** The asterisks at the end were just used because we all use different software. The key is to keep your NAME out there, your name is your brand. Sell it.
  • There is a lot of different software that we use. Save a copy of the resumé as a PDF and use that when sending it off. Nearly everybody has the ability to open the file, no matter if they are PC or Mac.
  • If sending an "old school" hard copy resumé, double side print it to reduce the pieces of paper that need to be handled. Plus, it saves money and trees. Just be sure to include the word (Over) in the bottom right corner of the first page so they know there is more.
Anyway, writing or updating a resumé often takes longer than the interview that it gets you...

Oct 10, 2012

Job Search

English: P icon with a newspaper
English: P icon with a newspaper
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Job hunting SURE has changed in the last 20 years. Recently I had to put my big toe back in the job search pool. Back in the day, we found jobs by scouring the local classified ads in the paper, drove around looking for "NOW HIRING" signs, and talking to family members or friends about where they work and if they were hiring. Today we can search the Internet, join, LinkedIn, or several other sites to promote ourselves. Not only do you get to search for jobs all over the globe and apply for them, but with a good profile, sometimes THEY CALL YOU.

I found this out when I updated my profile on Monster, and spent HOURS just surfing the web. I could see all of the classified ads on the newspaper pages, but also on sites like Career Builders and Monster. I updated my Monster profile, uploaded a resume, and within a few hours, the phone was ringing off the hook by recruiters that use it to find potential employees. I didn't have to apply to those companies to get a call FROM them, they called me.

Red phone
Red phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On the phone I could deny any that didn't meet my goals, while grocery shopping. Saved me a lot of time & driving compared to 20 years ago. Didn't have to drive to the interview, find out about the company there, and then decide that it wasn't a fit. Listening to the person describe what was being looked for, and jumping online to Google that company, showed more than I needed to turn down
the offer of an interview. I did accept interviews with 2 companies within hours of the update to those that appealed to me. Within 3 days, I interviewed and was offered a position, and accepted it.

My first job search (20 years ago) before it returned a request for an interview:
  • Talking to a friend's father (2 hours)
  • Sending an updated resume (1 hour)
  • Waiting for a phone call (1 month)
  • Driving to the first interview (2 hours)
  • Interview 1 (2 hours)
  • Driving home (2 hours)
  • Waiting for 2nd interview (4 months)
  • Driving to and from the 2nd interview (4 hours)
  • Time of 2nd interview (4 hours)
  • ACCEPTING THE JOB (10 seconds)
Now, for the recent process:
  • Updating resume (1 hour)
  • Updating my Monster profile (10 minutes)
  • Waiting for a phone call (4 hours)
  • Drive time to and from (70 minutes, 26 miles roundtrip)
  • Interview 1 (10 minutes)
  • Waiting for phone call for a 2nd (3 hours)
  • Second interview (8 hours in the field)
  • Waiting for 3rd interview call (18 hours)
  • ACCEPTING THE JOB (10 seconds)
Do you see now how that the fast pace of life that we live in can impact your life dramatically? Getting the 1st job took me over 5 months and several hundreds of driving, the 2nd one took me 3 days without much driving. I'm not saying that you can achieve the same results, but comparing what I did 2 decades ago to what is possible now, amazes me, and keeps cash in my wallet (yeah, I still actually use one).

Stay out there, keep searching, stay social and ask your family/friends about where they are, keep applying, and make sure it is all up to date (online profiles, resume, etc.) I enjoy the job search pool a LOT more today than I did "back in the day..."

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Oct 9, 2012

Communicating with Dogs

Awaiting directions...
Dozer is my buddy, and when he came to live with me, I had to learn a new way to communicate with him because he is deaf. Fortunately, his foster family was kind enough to share the hand signals they used to communicate with him. But I noticed something when Mickey Finn came to live with us and he can hear. I use verbal commands AND the hand signals for them. What I noticed is that using the hand signals forced Mickey to react better, especially when walking both of them together. Since he learned the signs, sometimes I don't even have to use the verbal, but he responds the right way, because he visually checks in with me every few minutes.

Think about it, dogs react to visual stimulation in addition to verbal commands. To strengthen a proper response, combine the verbal with motion with your hand. The more motion, the more they pay attention. Make up your own signs or use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate better with your dogs. I use the signals that Dozer already knows, some ASL, and even some of the roller derby ref signals to issue a command or make a comment to them. Here are the basic ones that I use to better talk with them.

Sharing a Feeling:
Good Dog - the "thumbs up" like Fonzie did on Happy Days.
Bad Dog - the "thumbs down" action, the opposite of Good Dog.
I love you - the ASL sign for "I love you."
You make me happy - point at them, yourself, then the ASL for smile.
You make me sad/frustrated - point at them, yourself, then the ASL for frown.

Sit - I point down, and move my hand up and down at least 3 times.
Lay Down - flat hand, horizontal, and raise and lower my arm at least 3 times.
Stay - vertical hand in the traditional "DO NOT CROSS" position at a crosswalk.
Come - vertical hand, palm facing you, arm moving back & forth (pulling something to you).
Get back together - from roller derby, the "pack is here" signal.
Go away - Roller derby "return to the bench" when cleaning up after them, & they are bothering you.

Ready to eat - hand positioned as if it is holding a sandwich, tap your lips at least 3 times.
Want to go for a walk - 1st 2 fingers extended, hand horizontal, simulating a person walking.
Want to go potty - make a "toilet bowl" with one hand, and poke it with a finger on the other hand.

I have a LOT more signals that I use with my dogs, so ask if your interested in some other suggestions. But the key is that dogs DO respond fairly well to verbal commands, but they respond even better when you combine a hand sign (with some motion) with it. It forces them to check in with you every few minutes on a walk, and when they can't hear you, at least they learn the action command that you are issuing them... Good luck with your puppy... Make sure you hug them at least 3 times per day...

Oct 8, 2012


2 finished mini pizzas
We've all become guilty of picking up the phone and calling for a delivery pizza or getting a frozen one at the grocery store to "have in the fridge just in case." We've all argued with our friends about which pizza joint has the best. But I reject all of that. Let's consider returning to the "old school" and making our own. I've been doing that for a few years now, saving a lot of money, and my son thinks my home made pizza is much better than anything else. I have to agree. So, I'm going to share yet one more recipe taught to me by my grandmother (born in Chicago in 1920) and pass it along to others. Yes, it has never been written down before, so enjoy.

  • 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup lukewarm water (105 F)
  • 1 ½ TBSP olive oil
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 2/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour (plus a little more)
  • Italian herb mixes 
  • Sauce (you figure it out, buy it or make it)
  • Toppings of your choice

    Kneading the dough
  • In a large bowl, stir the yeast into the warm water. Let stand about 10 mins until creamy.
  • Stir in olive oil first, then add the cold water.
  • Whisk in ½ cup of the flour until smooth (wire whisk).
  • Stir in the remaining flour ½ cup at a time until the dough comes together (use a fork for this).
  • On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and velvety (8-10 mins). Cover with a towel and let sit 15 mins.
  • When adding herbs, in the last half of the kneading process, sprinkle some each time before you fold it.
  • Divide into 2 balls to make 2, 9” pizzas or use as one large.
    Let sit for 1 hour.
  • Teaching my son how to toss pizza dough
    Then, press the dough until about ½ inch thick while preheating oven to 500 F.
  • Stretch with the back of your hands or a rolling pin until you get the diameter you want, about ½" thick.
  • Dust pizza sheet with corn meal, cover crust with sauce, cheese, and toppings, leaving 1 inch around the edge free for brushing with oil.
  •  Bake for 8-10 mins. on a baking stone (preheated with the oven) or a metal sheet

Oct 4, 2012

Distracted Driving

One of the hottest topics going around is "distracted driving," especially in the state where I am, Ohio. While they took a little longer to pass statewide legislation about it (39th), it has been hotly discussed. Effective September 1, 2012 we have laws on the books about distracted driving. And yes, it applies to everyone on the roads in the state, even if you are from a different one, just visiting or passing through.

The Ohio ban on distracted is best simply explained as:
  • Statewide on text messaging by all drivers (sending or reading).
  • Drivers under the age of 18, use of all portable electronic devices prohibited.
Basically what this translate into, as an adult, if pulled over for another violation, they can add this to the ticket as a fee on top of the original ticket (about $150). Like how the first seat belt act was passed before "Click It or Ticket," they couldn't pull you over for that unless you did something else first (reckless driving, speeding, blowing a stop sign or stop light, etc.). If you are under 18, it means $150 and a 60-day suspension of license. For teens with multiple violations, fines max out at $300 with possible loss of driver’s license for a year.

Now, that sounds simple, but you need to keep a few things in mind. They aren't just talking about distracted driving due to texting. Some municipalities, cities, and counties also specify that the use of a DVD player in the front seat, using a touch-screen GPS, eating, drinking, applying makeup, shaving, brushing your teeth, changing the CD player, iPod or radio, and even a hands-free call as distracted driving.  The local law can override the state law. The state law is the MINIMUM, the local ones are the MAXIMUM.

So, my suggestions? Spend a few minutes online to research what laws apply to where you live, but also where you might travel for vacation or work. And, please, keep your hands on the steering wheel and check your mirrors every 30 seconds. Get a "ride buddy" to do all the work you need done while focusing on the road in front, behind, and beside you. Pull over to take a phone call, answer a text, or check your email.

Oct 2, 2012

Dozer Again

Hey... This is Dozer again, I guess I do have a thumb or just have gotten really good at typing with one paw. Regardless, just wanted to share some perspectives.

I don't appreciate that my companion brought another dog into my life, but I can understand why he did. Having another pup around keeps me involved in life, and it is my responsibility to help train him to be a good companion. Plus, he saved his life, so I have to give him a little credit.

He saved me too, when he welcomed me into his house. I was extremely overweight, and had rear hip issues that were threatening to shorten my life. I'll never forget the first time he met me, I licked him all over and he didn't have a problem with that. I pooped in his yard, and he just laughed. A week later, I came to live with him.  He even slept on the dining room floor with me for 2 months while my hip surgery healed so I wouldn't have to go up the stairs. While I am considered a "large" breed, I was raised around 6 other Great Danes, so I was small in comparison. But he welcomed me in.

He changed my name to "Dozer" because on my first visit, I bulldozed through his Christmas tree, and I like to sleep all the time (to "doze"). He could change my name because I'm deaf, so whatever he verbally says to me, I ignore. Unfortunately he knows American Sign Language (ASL), so he talks to me all the time. I've had to endure several diatribes by watching his fingers, but at least we can talk. I just wish I had thumbs to talk back to him, but I do have a tongue and a tail to wag, so he knows what I mean.

Overall, life has been pretty damn good with him. He is my buddy, keeps me warm in winter, cool in summer, and always has water for me. I'm trying to teach Mickey Finn to be his next companion, but he is definitely challenging. Time will tell... stay tuned...

Sep 29, 2012

Comparison of Lifestyle

Just thought I would summarize a lot of research I've done for this blog (some entries haven't been made yet, they are in draft). You pick which lifestyle you have, and maybe you can get some advice from the ramblings of my mind...and the research I've turned up.

I've decided that there are 3 basic types of lifestyles out there and I'm going to share MY perspectives about them. Again, these are MY perspectives, so don't waste time telling me that I'm wrong just because YOUR perspective may be a little different from mine. Know also, that I am a bit of each of these, depending on my mood that particular day, the experience I am having, and what amount of time I have to expend.
  • Efficient - defined on as "performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort." My perspective: very busy people (work, school, family, hobbies, etc), that strive to be efficient in experiencing life by simply purchasing objects or hiring others to do the personal projects because they don't have a lot of time or experience.
  • DIY - My perspective is that they too are busy people, but strive to experience life by using some of their time & skills as a hobby to save money to create what they want, and will solicit friends to assist if needed on a personal project.
  • Hippie - My perspective is that they stay busy by floating through life by finding ways to recycle things they use, collect, and obtain; which is inspired by the things that sift through their minds, how they can use them, give life to something, is a "green way" to live, and yet also reduces the costs of their out-of-pocket costs.
So, what am I "really" getting at in this entry. I had to explain some things, so you can understand the table below, where I share a topic and then compare how each of the 3 will deal with it, IMHO. If the entry is a link, it is to an entry on my blog about it. Yeah, I've lived through this...

Topic EfficientDIYHippie
Colored flames in the fireplace Duraflame Colorlog DIY Colored PineconesNewspaper Logs & Colored Pinecones
Reduce costs due to cooking Eat out more!!!Use a Toaster Oven & Crock Pot vs. a Full Oven  Hobo Pies in the backyard, Newspaper Logs & Collected Firewood
Driving Limo!!!Carpool & work localWalk, ride bike, or work at home
Stay warm in winter Fire up the furnace!!!Set thermostat to the recommended settings & layer up a littleSet thermostat to the recommended settings, layer up a little, find a Snuggle Buddy
Stay cool in summer Warp drive on the A/C all the time!!!Set thermostat to the recommended settings Set thermostat to the recommended settings but what are these "pajamas" you are saying are needed?
Media Entertainment OperaMovie theater once in a while, Netflix, video storeDVD from the library, read a book, swap movies with friends, look at the stars...
Saving water in the toilet I use the newest toilet at 1.6 gpfInstall a Dual Flush Kit or use an 1/2 gallon milk carton"If it's yellow, let it mellow...
If it's brown, flush it down..."
Furniture Arhaus, they deliver & set it upIKEA, I'll put it together myselfDumpster Diving!!!
Popcorn Commercial brand & at the theaterAir popperKernels in a brown bag, and I can recycle the bag after.