Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Droid, iPhone, Blackberry, Palm, Windows Mobile, Symbian....AAAAH




Two nights ago, in a typical act of klutzery, I spilt a strongly brewed cup of herbal tea on both my personal laptop and my cell phone. Thankfully, my laptop survived after a restore, which is sort of amazing considering the damage the tea did to the finish on the kitchen table (should I be worried about my stomach???). But my phone? It spent a day flickering and sputtering, and finally quit just before I went to sleep.

I had planned to put off my smartphone purchase for another couple months, but it seems absurd to buy anything else just to have it for a couple months. I still may grab a $15 go-phone to give me deliberation time, but I would love all of your assistance... And so!

Here are my priorities, in order:

-A fabulous web browser.
-Outlook 2003 compatibility.
-GPS.

It sounds like I can get a good browser on any decent smartphone. I'd go with Windows Mobile, but it sounds like the newest version requires Outlook 2007, and my work is still on 2003 (ha).

That's it! I'd love to be able to do some of the other fancy things, like set my phone to download NPR news each day so that I can listen on the Metro, or scan bar codes for comparison shopping, but those things are small compared to those above.


Thoughts?

-Jess

Monday, October 19, 2009

Marketing on YouTube: A Double-Edged Sword



“Brands that let their channels lapse and fade away into the wasteland of untidy and untended pages lack a clear understanding of how to use YouTube as a social media vehicle,” writes Catherine-Gail Reinhard, creative director at Videasa, on Mashable.

A branded social media account requires a strong commitment. B.L. Ochman, a social media strategy consultant to Fortune 500 companies and the head of whatsnextonline.com, wrote about how starting a Twitter account and then not using it can be damaging to a company's brand. A YouTube account can certainly be valuable, but requires just as much care.

Continued...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Learning from the Pros - Red Bull Extends the Brand to the Web

Smart branding extends a consistent personality to everything the brand touches. Benefits to emphasize are carefully chosen and extended to everything from the colors, fonts, and logos used, to the events sponsored, to what the CEO says in an interview. It is absolutely essential that every brand have an Internet presence that fits its brand.

Red Bull, for example, markets to young, risk-taking audiences seeking tons of energy. They emphasize a dangerous image for their highly caffeinated, nuclear-neon drink by well-chosen sponsorships: late-night parties, b-boy competitions, extreme sports events, athletes, and music artists (like a client of mine- Bassnectar), all in cohesion with their daring and energetic brand. Red Bull’s website opens with a video of extreme mountain bikers crashing.

"I don't know how many bones I've broken," one biker reports. "I think it's about 25."

Continued...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Vinegar and Ice Cream, Cialdini, and Woot.com


Two weeks ago, I ordered thoroughly indulgent gourmet vinegar: Cavedoni Botte Piccola Italian Balsamic. The normally $56 bottle was selling for $39.99 on Woot.com. At first I resisted temptation, but after reading the enthusiastic discussion on the forums, I gave in. I am one of many who daily submit to the site's brilliant business model.

Woot purchases a single item in bulk and offers that item at a large discount until it runs out. Cialdini discussed this "weapon of influence": scarcity. We do not like when any choice, including the choice to buy, is taken away. Thus, we are more likely to buy something we know will disappear, just because we still have the opportunity to do so.

Continued...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Web 2.0 Job Hunt: 5 Tips to Keep You Sane

Advice I'm taking, and passing on to you:

1. NARROW YOUR CHOICES.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of options, and it will be hard to accomplish anything if you hunt and peck. Decide your criteria and job location before you start.

2. USE SMART KEYWORDS.

Use keywords that relate to specific skills or interests. I found some really interesting jobs by searching for health, performing arts, and green building in conjunction with the main keyword: marketing.

Continued...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Warning: May Cause Tastebuds to Spontaneously Combust

After a stressful morning and afternoon, I turned in the evening to cooking experiments. I figure if I self-medicate with healthy food, it's okay. Ha.

Since my last post I made another wallet-denting market trip, realizing that- hey, summer doesn't last forever and blackberry season is even shorter than that. Thus we have Exhibit A:
Dangerously tantalizing little things, aren't they? One more, because I can't help it.



That, right there? That's what blackberries are supposed to look like. Not those flavorless things you get at the grocer, which shouldn't even be allowed to call themselves blackberries. They taste more like weak orange juice really, nothing at all like the flavour you get from these. Real blackberries bleed purple juice all over your fingers. Mmmm.

The nice lady at the market warned me that whatever berries I didn't eat tonight I should freeze, because they were already so ripe. I've been making smoothies out of these guys and other fruit, so that sounded fine. I freeze the berries as they are, or chop bananas into chunks or scrape out all the mango/peach/apricot pulp into a bowl and freeze that, before throwing it in the blender with a splash of milk and a pinch of stevia. Heaaaven.

But today as I made my usual cyber walk around the gluten-free foodie mecca that is our internet, I saw the lovely Heather at Healthy Indulgences had recently posted a sugar-free blackberry ice cream recipe. No ice cream maker needed.

Ohgoshohgoshohgosh.

The only ingredient I was missing was the heavy cream, so I set out to Martin's to get some (and of course ended up buying a pile of Bob's Red Mill Flours I'd been wanting to get... me + good food and new recipes to try = empty wallet). I'm going to make gluten-free soft pretzels soon!

Anyway, blah blah blah, here is the result. It's beautiful. The texture is much better than I expected from the pictures- not too hard, not too icey- it feels absolutely delightful in the mouth and tastes aaaamazing.



As always, those of you not trying to cut carbs or gluten or sugar can substitute the sugar back in and do it that way. I understand- erythritol is expensive stuff (but so worth it!).


Want a bite?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Go to your Farmers’ Market. Buy some food. Drool. Eat. Savor. Repeat.

My first job was working at the Eastern Farmer's Market on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, selling produce for Marshall Farms. I think I was ten years old? Back then I didn’t eat much of the produce I was selling. Eggplant looked terrifying to me. Squash was untouchable. Even tomatoes were too strange, although I gladly handed out samples, explaining to customers that some were sweet, some tasted more acidic… parroting what I’d heard people say, and faking a southern accent. City folk trust southern produce.


There are a lot of socially conscious reasons to buy local, but my primary motive? Taste. Nutrition. A better, fresher, more flavorful and delicious peach than you could ever find at Food Lion. An heirloom tomato from Takoma Park that takes a sandwich that was alright and makes it heavenly. Blackberries too delicious to talk about without blushing. ..I wish I’d taken a picture before I ate them all. The carnivores will find happiness, too, enjoying flavorful, fresh cuts of beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, and so on. The fresh butter is delightful. The eggs are scrumptious and hooray! –chemical-free. A necessity for allergy-crushed kids such as myself. My kitchen currently boasts farm-fresh peaches, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, two types of squash, zucchini, cayenne, turkey, butter, and eggs. There are some things worth spoiling yourself over, and I think splurging on food that’s healthy and delicious is more than worth it.

I admit I’m selfish in that I target much of my activism toward personal benefit. Obesity-prevention initiatives to lower the costs of fruit and vegetables by taxing sugary drinks? Sign me up. Network neutrality to protect my precious internet? I’m there.

By buying local food, I get much bang for my buck. The food is delicious and nutritious. I know most of my money goes right to the farmer. I’m stimulating the local economy. I’m preserving the genetically diverse and thus varying flavors of heirloom produce instead of mass produced food only in the most easily shipped and preserved varieties. I’m taking care of my environment by taking trucks off the road and conserving energy. As I sit eating a piece of cantaloupe, I feel conscious and spoiled all at once. Glorious.

For my Blacksburg crew, the market is on the corner of Roanoke and Draper Roads and is open on Wednesdays from 2pm-7pm and Saturdays from 8am-2pm. Come out August 22 for the Tomato Contest and taste over 40 different tomatoes!

For everyone else, find local farmers’ markets by typing your zipcode into LocalHarvest.org.

Enough from me. Why do YOU buy local food?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Persian Chicken with Apricots



I made this dish for the second time tonight, and I'm thrilled. It's absolutely delicious! I modified the original recipe and adjusted to make it cheaper by substituting other ingredients for the cardamom and leaving out the saffron, and by substituting my sweeteners- which do NOT raise blood sugar!- for the sugar. The first time I made it I substituted raisins for the dried apricots, which was okay, but now that I've had the apricots I'll never go back. The fat dried apricots soak up all the delicious seasoned broth.. the taste and texture are just to die for.

In adjusting this recipe to make it for only two pieces of chicken, I've done two things:
First, I kept all the ingredients the same but reduced the amount of chicken broth and lemon juice. This made a thick, very flavorful, very sweet sauce, which I saved to brush on chicken and fish for grilling. If you do this, be sure not to pour too much over your rice- it really is an extremely full-flavored sauce.

The second time, I kept the amount of liquids as what the recipe called for, and it's more of a broth. And I could eat a ton of the stuff. I'll do something with the leftovers tomorrow and report back what I ended up doing with them.



Today in the grocery store when buying a piece of ginger root, the cashier had to ask me what it was to ring it up. So, for those not yet familiar with this amazing ingredient- get familiar! It wasn't a staple ingredient for me until I realized in eating Nate's congee how much I really do love it. I've been buying it ever since.

Persian Chicken with Apricots

2 boneless chicken breasts
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive oil
1 large vidalia onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup erythritol
A pinch of NuNaturals Stevia (all stevia is NOT created equal!)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup dried apricots, halved

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Mix the nutmeg, allspice, cumin, cinnamon, and salt to make a rub. Rub half the mixture on both sides of the chicken, and set half aside.

Before beginning to cook your chicken, make sure all your ingredients are chopped, measured, and on-hand. This made round two turn out a lot better than round one for me!

Using a large pot with a heavy bottom (like a Dutch oven, cast-iron pot, or in my case- an old fashioned pressure cooker), pour a thin film of olive oil and set pot over medium-high heat. Let the oil bubble a bit, and then set your chicken inside and DO NOT TOUCH IT. A cooking tip- anything you want to brown will brown quicker if you stop tossing it around. Just let it set! 5 mins on each side, and then pull it out and set it on a place.

Add onion, garlic, and ginger to pot and cook and stir for one minute. Then add your cayenne and remaining spice mixture. Add lemon juice, erythritol, and stevia, stir and let it come to a boil. Pour in chicken broth and replace chicken to pot. Let liquid come to a boil again, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, stir in apricots and cook for about 10 minutes more.

To serve, I spooned some broth/onions/apricots over white rice and had mine with my other recent love: beets! My grandmother and I have been doing a farmer's market hunt off the interstate for weeks, and finally came upon some. Thank you to my grandmother and to Tom Robbins, for turning me on to this sexy, red, heavenly, delicious vegetable. And to Molly for giving me Jitterbug Perfume!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ani Tix Winner: Jennifer Heit!

Congrats! Names were pulled from a hat, and you won two tickets to the Ani Difranco show July 9th. :)

Send me an email for confirmation: jessicalforrester@gmail.com.

To the others- Keep checking back for freebies and general blabber.

Jennifer- See you at Rams Head Live!

I'd make a graphic but most unfortunately I am without laptop this week, and so I am without Photoshop. I suppose I could mess with GIMP, but I'm not feeling so inclined.

Here's hoping HP gets it back to me soon.. Four days without it feels like torture. I think these are the signs of addiction, no?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Win Two Free Tickets to See Ani DiFranco at Rams Head Live

This feisty, smart, ambitious (but conscious!), guitar-string-bustin-punk-rocker-with-an-acoustic is heading to Baltimore, MD’s Rams Head Live on Thursday, July 9th. I’ll be there. Will you? I have two tickets to give away to one lucky reader.

For a shot at the tickets, leave a comment here!

Contest ends at 8 pm on June 30. I will put the names in a hat and have my grandmother pick a winner. I realize that you have no way of knowing whether I’ll actually do this. Guess you’ll just have to take that chance. :)

Didn’t win? Don’t stress! There will be more give aways, and tickets to Ani aren’t sold out yet!

Ani DiFranco and The Conscious Job Hunt


A 1997 letter to Ms. Magazine, famous now to her fans, quotes Ani Difranco as writing, “I'm just a folksinger, not an entrepreneur.” Ani Difranco’s team began the Buffalo, New York-based independent label Righteous Babe Records: “a small business that puts music before rock stardom and ideology before profit.”

Like many recent grads on the job hunt, I’m discovering just how important it is to me that I work for a company I can feel proud of. The decision of where to apply feels heavier than, “Who do I want to work for,” as I also try to answer, “What will I represent?”

Continued..

The Social Media Informant: Information Freedom or The Ultimate Rumor Mill?

Where were you when Michael Jackson died? I was on Twitter, watching the tweets turn almost completely from Ahmadinejad to the King of Pop faster than I could get up and tell my grandmother to say her prayers for Michael Jackson’s family along with Farrah Fawcett's and Ed McMahon's. After the May 19 hysteria over Patrick Swayze, I tweeted with some cynicism: “did michael jackson really die, or is twitter the rumor mill from hell?” Of course, as we now know, this time it was true.

Continued..

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Promoting Music and Shows with Web 2.0: Bassnectar


A web presence is important for any business; this is particularly true for musicians. How do I decide whether or not to attend a show at The Lantern in Blacksburg, Virginia by a band or DJ I don’t recognize? I look them up online. A poor web presence or unappealing recorded tracks can easily dissuade me.

When I met Lorin Ashton of project Bassnectar in August of 2007, he was already a frequent MySpace blogger and a YouTube hit with a large following on the west coast, including what SF Weekly described as “The largest cult following of any DJ in San Francisco.”

Continued..

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Research Confirms: If I'm Cryin', I'm Buyin'


Your company has an amazing product. You want to show me everything it can do. It can get the stains out of my clothes and cut a car in half while calling my ex-boyfriend’s mother to gently inform her that I broke her flower vase - all at the same time. But research shows that learning these benefits has little impact on me as a consumer if I’m not driven emotionally.

Continued..

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to Add a "Tweet This" Button After Your Blogger Posts!

Go to your blog. Click Customize in the upper right corner, then "Layout" and then "Edit HTML". To be safe, check the box to expand your widgets and then click the Download Full Template option before you fiddle with your coding.

With the widgets expanded, search the content for "<data:post.body/>" (you can use ctrl+f to do this search). After this, paste the following:

<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == "item"'><span style='float: left; background: url(http://lh6.ggpht.com/_xn2gmPb9TfM/Sb_fZkjAxpI/AAAAAAAAD3E/_9xpsQgFfTg/s128/twitter-16x16.png) left no-repeat; padding-left: 20px;'><script charset='utf-8' src='http://bit.ly/javascript-api.js?version=latest&login=tweettrackjs&apiKey=R_7e9987b2fd13d7e4e881f9cbb168f523' type='text/javascript'/>

<script charset='utf-8' src='http://s.bit.ly/TweetAndTrack.js?v=1.01' type='text/javascript'/>

<a expr:onclick='"return TweetAndTrack.open(this, \"" + data:post.url + "\");"' href='#'>

<span style='display:none;'>I'm reading: <data:post.title/></span>Tweet this!</a></span></b:if>

Where it says "I'm reading" you can put whatever you want the person's tweet to say. In this example, a tweet would show up like this:

Blogger Buster made it easy for me to add a "Tweet This" button after my posts, but I'm still not satisfied with the design. The button only shows up when you click the post title to specify the link to the specific entry. This means the people who read the blogs off of the main page (as I'm betting you're doing now!) won't see my button. Any good remedies for this?

I was hoping to add a summary feature to collapse all but the first paragraph of each blog. This was in hopes of accomplishing two things: one, getting the user to click the link to read the full blog, and thus, see my Tweet This button (a cheap fix, but if it worked I'd be satisfied!) and two, it'd summarize my posts to allow easier browsing.. which was actually more for my other blog, minifad.blogspot.com, which has recently focused very much on the odd food I'm making for this diet... something not of interest at all to some of my readers. Shortening my posts to summaries would allow those bored by my black bean chocolate cake antics to skip on to my post on How to Dance With Girls at the Lantern.

If anyone has successfully combined these two features: the Tweet This button and the expandable summarized posts, do let me know. Or, alternatively, if you have another solution that makes the button show up on the main page but still link to the posts individually.

I know, I know. I'm picky for someone who only barely fiddles with coding. But I know what I want, alright?

-Jess

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chocolate Black Bean Cake!

Check it out. There are two food bloggers that I follow consistently, and others whose blogs I occasionally wander off two. One of the two is Lauren, who has a blog called "Healthy Indulgences"-- absolutely chock full of amazing recipes, many of which are candida-friendly.

This chocolate cake, which entirely follows the candida diet with no changes made, is absolutely, without a doubt, to die for. Yes, it has black beans in it. Just trust me on this one, okay? It's cheap to make, and it's good for you, so there's no reason not to try it. This was a nice relief after spending an arm and a leg on almond flour recently, and holy crap does it feel good to eat chocolate cake and not feel guilty about the sugar. Although it's not at all shy on butter...

Lauren's also a carb counter, so for those of you who care about carbs it's ~65g net carbs for the whole cake with icing. So if you eat 1/10 of the cake you're at 6.5g carbs. I'm not a carb-counter, so that means nothing to me, but there it is.

For those not omitting sugar, replace the stevia/erythritol with regular sugar in the cake and powdered sugar in the icing if you wish. For those using the substitute sweeteners, a note: I used a looot more stevia in the icing than she recommended, so be sure to taste as you go. And salt is a necessity for the icing. An absolute necessity. Without it, it tastes bitter.

Here's my cake. I was feeling lazy and took the picture with my camera phone, so it's not that pretty. Once my digital camera can email my computer, I'll use it more often, but the whole USB process generally means I go for low quality pictures for things like blogging about cakes.

But man is it delicious.

You can see that I added almonds on the top. They really add a lot to the cake- I highly recommend this. I took regular whole, unsalted almonds, crushed them up, threw them on a cookie sheet under the broiler for a couple minutes, and scattered them on top.

Here's the recipe, taken from her blog.

Chocolate Cake Made with Black Beans

Makes a single 9" layer cake, which can be halved and stacked for the taller cake you see here!

Ingredients:
1-15 ounce can of unseasoned black beans
OR 1 1/4 cup cooked beans, any color
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted organic butter OR extra virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup erythritol plus 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract OR 1/4-1/3 cup honey plus 1 teaspoon stevia
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon water (omit if using honey)

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9" cake pan with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray, or just grease it with a thin layer of butter. Dust cocoa all over the inside of the pan, tapping to evenly distribute. Cut a round of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan, then spray the parchment lightly.

Drain and rinse beans in a strainer or colander. Shake off excess water. Place beans, 3 of the eggs, vanilla, stevia (if using) and salt into blender. Blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. No lumps! Whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat butter with sweetener (erythritol or honey) until light and fluffy. Add remaining two eggs, beating for a minute after each addition. Pour bean batter into egg mixture and mix. Finally, stir in cocoa powder and water (if using), and beat the batter on high for one minute, until smooth. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top. Grip pan firmly by the edges and rap it on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles.

Bake for 325 degrees for 45 minutes. You may need a little longer, as my oven runs hot. Cake is done with the top is rounded and firm to the touch. After 10 minutes, turn out cake from pan, and flip over again on to a cooling rack. Let cool until cake reaches room temperature, then cover in plastic wrap or with cake dome (I use an overturned plastic chip bowl). For BEST flavor, let cake sit over night. I promise this cake will not have a hint of beaniness after letting it sit for eight hours! If you are stacking this cake, level the top with a long serrated knife, shaving off layers until it is flat and even. Frost immediately before serving.

Healthy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough to thickly cover one layer, or fill and frost a halved stacked layer

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted organic butter, softened, OR 7 tablespoons nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon erythritol, OR 1/4 cup xylitol, powdered
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons half and half OR coconut milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
Good-tasting pure stevia extract, to taste

Optional addition for a glossy finish:
1 fresh organic egg yolk

Preparation:
Cream the butter in a small bowl until fluffy. Powder erythritol or xylitol in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet for a minute or two, until extremely fine. Let sweetener settle in grinder before opening the top. Stir powdered sweetener into butter with a spatula, then beat until smooth. Slowly blend in the cocoa powder (unless you want to redecorate your kitchen), vanilla, and sea salt. Beat in the half and half and egg yolk, if using. Add stevia, starting with 1/16 teaspoon. You'll probably use less than 1/4 teaspoon. Just keep tasting and adjust sweetness to your liking.


Enjoy!!!

-Jess

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blogging for Pay: Can You Remain Credible?

According to the bloggers at Wall St 24/7, internet advertising revenue is in decline. When Google AdSense profits don’t add up, more bloggers are writing entries for pay to support their work.
As a new employee of Handshake 2.0, I sought to dig into the ethics of this model. How can we retain credibility while writing a review a business pays us to write?

Blogs like Handshake 2.0 have two goals in mind:
1) Establish their blog as a credible resource by providing meaningful, useful, and entertaining content.
2) Assure businesses purchasing blog-coverage that they are making a safe investment. A business must be sure they won’t end up paying for a Signature Warm Handshake only to end up with a bad review.

A blogger must write articles that are of interest to their readers, giving businesses positive reviews only if they are warranted. This means a blogger must turn down clients who cannot be represented without compromising these functions. If the match with the client isn’t ideal, it better serves both the client and the blogger to deny that client services. If the blog can’t reach the correct audience with a positive, credible message, the exchange is a failure for both parties.

Besides careful choice of clientele, blogs gain credibility by allowing readers to leave public “comments” below each entry. This is the blogger’s version of EBay “feedback” or www.woot.com’s product discussion forums. If someone or something unworthy gains blog spotlight, readers will speak up. By establishing a strong, active readership, a blogger has more users giving diverse replies. This reduces feedback bias and improves this checking system.
Tip: Encourage comments from readers by asking a question in your entry.

When it comes to remaining credible, just remember this: Nothing remains a secret for long on the internet. If your content isn’t credible, prepare to be Tweeted out.

-Jess

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Candida Cookies and Job Hunting

I'm on the jobhunt, and the stress requires sweets. This recipe was invented to use the ingredients I've got...ingredients I can actually eat on this diet. Many of the ingredients could be substituted. If you aren't on the Candida diet, try this recipe with sugar instead of the erythritol/stevia and stick a hershey kiss on each one. Also, any nutbutter or combination of nutbutters would work, and 1 1/4 cups of almond flour would work if you don't have the crushed pecans. Experiment- have fun!

4 Nut Cookies
* 1 cup almond flour
* 1/4 cup finely crushed pecans (reeeally fine- the stuff used for pie crust)
* 1 teaspoon guar gum
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg
* 1 cup erythritol
* 1 tsp stevia extract
* 1/2 cup nut butter (I used 1/2 cup cashewbutter, 1/2 cup peanutbutter)
* 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
* 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using a blender on low, cream the erythritol and stevia with the egg first. Then add the butter and vanilla. Next, add a cup of nutbutter (I used half each peanutbutter and cashewbutter.. I technically shouldn't have peanutbutter on this diet, but I'm almost through my 1st month and I couldn't resist adding juuust a little bit). My Mom's tip: Put 1 cup of water in a measuring cup, then add nutbutter to the water until it raises to 1.5 cups to measure. This way it's easy to get out of the cup- just scoop it out of the water with a spoon.

Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Then slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, blending on low. When you're done, carefully lift the beaters out of the ingredients but keep them as low as possible in your bowl and turn the speed up a little to get all the ingredients out of the beaters.

Make small balls and drop them onto a greased cookie sheet. Criss-cross the tops with a fork to give them the standard peanutbutter cookie appearance.

I baked mine for 13 minutes, didn't wait long enough for them to cool, and burnt the heck out of my mouth. But.. they're delicious!!

-Jess

Go Two Point Oh

My old man's business is constantly looking for ways to reach the younger generation, and recently dinner has become a nightly advice session on using Web 2.0. For those not yet in the know, a quick Google define: Web 2.0 gives the wiktionary definition: The second generation of the World Wide Web, especially the movement away from static webpages to dynamic and shareable content.

There's not a business I can think of that couldn't benefit from knowledge of Web 2.0. Even those gearing their services toward our oldest generation can benefit from the business networking and open collaboration our new internet allows.

As a 22 year old recent college grad (Go Hokies!) my focus to date has been primarily reaching my own generation using the internet. I've worked for artists like Bassnectar and Basshound developing guerilla marketing campaigns that seek help from fans in spreading a message- often with an attempt at going viral. These were good projects to take on- entirely different scales and resources, and both open to creative ideas and new tactics. These campaigns combined with street work helped each of them to establish a strong presence on the east coast. Further, I've worked with United Way of Montgomery, Radford, and Floyd in developing Web 2.0 strategies that will be enacted in the coming year, and won first place in a contest to write an integrated marketing plan written for a proposed web offshoot of the Roanoke Times.

I'm a creative marketer, an internet junkie, and an avid blog reader with a growing Twitter addiction. I'm going to try to add some Web 2.0-specific content from here out. If you like my ideas and your company could use someone like me, hit me up and give me a job, won'tchya?

Looking forward to sharing my ideas and learning from the process.

-Jess

Sunday, May 3, 2009

How to Dance with Girls at the Lantern

There's this awkward exchange I keep having, and I'm not sure the solution to this. I'll be dancing at a club, and some guy will come dance with me. So we're dancing together, I'm having fun, and then he'll ask me to dance with him.

But... we already are dancing.

What he really means, isn't, "Can I dance with you," but rather, "Can I touch you." To which, the answer is, "No."

I love dancing with guys when they don't invade my space. A guy who can really dance moves with you without being all over you. I love to dance with a guy who can play off of the way I move. And I'll play off of the way he moves. And yeah, it's possible at some point we'll end up touching each other, but the whole ordeal isn't two people seeing how many parts of their bodies can possibly be smashed up against one another at the same time. See the picture for a good example. Notice the large space between us?

I mean no hurt feelings to anyone with whom I've had this awkward exchange. I appreciate, at least, the politeness of asking rather than just grabbing like some men do. But you'll earn a lot more points by figuring out how to move with a lady. And if you can't do that, don't try! Just dance next to her and have fun and let her do her own thing. I'm going to be more attracted to a guy who's rocking out next to me having a blast than the same guy attempting to dance with me and failing at making me comfortable. The women around here are free-spirited. We go out to dance and move to the music. If you hold our hips too tight and take away our ability to choose our own pace, you're not earning any points.

-Jess

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Feeling empowered

I spent over $70 at Eats today, so I'm hoping this commitment of my tax return actually clears up this terrible skin of mine. I bought Candida Clear: a combo of Pau D'Arco, Oregano Oil, Black Walnut & Caprylic Acid, a bottle of Acidophilus (a probiotic), brown rice flour, guar gum (a yeast-free leavening agent), and stevia (a natural sweetener). I also bought an awesome multivitamin complex that gives me a ton of energy- he had given me samples the last time I went, and sold me. It's called "Unbounded Energy" by New Chapter Organics. This stuff is AMAZING. If you live in Blacksburg, do yourself a favor and inquire about it and then ask for a sample. It works quickly, like caffeine, and makes you feel amazing.

I'm feeling totally empowered by my choice groceries- there are a ton of recipes I can make now using these substitutes. I'm going to knock out some schoolwork and then try to find some sweet goodies I can make... maybe some cookies or muffins. I'm thinking snickerdoodles or something else with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg. Mmmm.

I'm still making two huge sacrifices for awhile. The first is chocolate. I freaking love dark chocolate, but I'll have to give it up at least in this next month. The second is alcohol. I'll do my best to skip on the wine and whiskey for awhile. Hopefully my skin will love me for this and I'll be wearing shorts in no time.

Time to crunch out some serious schoolwork...

-Jess

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Candida diet

Oh, drat. The foodie and wino in me are both frowning and very upset, as my path to healthy skin has limited my consumption of so many wonderful things for awhile. I've been trying to heal myself of eczema for the last three years, having success with a few changes.. particularly eliminating caffeine and soy and by identifying a few key food allergies- Goodbye strawberries! :(

I've read quite a bit about Candida over time, and according to many claims, sticking to this diet could heal my skin while improving my ability to focus and increasing my level of energy overall. That said, Candida is apparently over-diagnosed by holistic doctors, as the symptoms are extremely broad. Considering that I go through a bottle of Cortisone a week and that I've had about as many steroids as I can take and I'm STILL dealing with this project that is my skin... I figured, hell. How bad can this be?

For those unfamiliar, the Candida diet begins extremely strict, and then slowly you add in different foods and see how your body adjusts. The idea is to cut out things that promote mold growth, so no sugar, no yeast, no dairy (except organic yogurt, which promotes good bacteria). The biggies for me were- Bread, pasta, cereal, fruit, and milk, so I went seeking alternatives for three of the four.

Today I bought hemp bread and hemp milk, yeast and dairy free respectively, and no- there's no THC in these. I had read that hemp is supposed to curb sugar cravings, so when I saw these options I thought they'd be worth a try.

The vanilla hemp milk tastes a lot like soy milk (which I can't drink)- it has a similar, light nutty flavor, and is more dense than rice milk.. which is too watery for me. It was great over cereal, and I think it would be fantastic in a smoothie. Served very cold, I can drink it plain as well, although I probably won't. I have heard that the chocolate version is fantastic alone, but that wasn't available in Kroger.


French Meadow's hemp bread, made with hempseed, flaxseed, and pumpkin, is absolutely delicious. It's a very dense bread, and if you've had a sprouted-wheat bread or anything similar, the taste won't be too surprising. But alas!! My lack of education on this subject failed me, and it turns out despite claiming to be "yeast-free" the bread is not gluten-free... Damn. What am I going to do with this whole loaf of expensive bread, now? Still deciding how bad this is for me..

A few other new purchases..

Lundberg's Wasabi Rice Chips were on close out sale for $1.20 a bag. I grabbed two, and glad I did- these things are delicious! Unfortunately I plow through them.









Honest Tea has a wonderful Yerba Mate that's- hooray!- sweetened with agave! Bottled tea is usually overloaded with sugar, but this one holds true to the words on the label: Just a tad sweet. The other flavors are cane-sugar sweetened, which I'll avoid for now, but the low-glycemic agave works for me. If you're a sweet tea drinker this won't be sweet enough for you, but for me it was perfect. And I was thrilled to have something I can grab other than water to drink! They're also certified organic, which both makes my sensitive body feel better and satisfies my need to be kind to the earth.



Speaking of which, I've learned a little bit about organic wine this week. A very long (sorry my underage Eve, who was waiting in the car!) conversation with one of the nice men in The Vintage Cellar educated me as to the details. I came in seeking a sulfite-free wine in order to ease my allergic reaction, but learned that there's actually no such thing.. The process of wine naturally creates sulfites. That said, most wine production in the United States involves adding sulfites. The reality is, he said, you really have no good way of determining the amount of sulfites in a bottle of wine. That said, by choosing organic wine you are more likely to avoid extra chemicals (including sulfites) that contribute to allergic reactions. While they do carry wines that claim not to have sulfites, I ended up leaving with an organic Cono Sur Pinot Noir. An interesting fact: Many organic wines from small wineries do not actually say this on their label, because it is expensive to earn this certification and small wineries can't afford to do this. That said, if you go to a wine store like The Vintage Cellar, they can tell you which wineries (like Cono Sur!) are committed to creating organic wine. At this store in particular, they have all the little shelf labels for organic wines colored green, even if the winery has not earned that label. What does this mean? Organic wine for cheaper- because you don't have to pay for the government seal!

I've yet to taste this wine, so I'll report back once I do. I finally submitted to modern times and bought a screw-top bottle, which is said to be smart-sealing but is decidedly unsexy. I have not bought a Pinot Noir in awhile, having started to consider it too plain in comparison to the Red Zinfandels and Chambourcins I've grown to love alone or the Syrah or Chianti I often pair with food. But unwilling to censor my wine adventure, I let myself be talked into this bottle to try later in the week. It is a 2008, though, so my bets are I'm going to be wishing I had a decanter.. but a few minutes/swirls in a big fat red wine glass will have to do.

That's it for now. I'll post my attempts at gluten-reduced (free is too hard) meals in the upcoming days as I find the time around cramming out my last few weeks worth of schoolwork. Oh, summer.. come quickly!

-Jess

Monday, April 20, 2009

Easy Poached Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce and Veggies

I'd never really attempted to make poached eggs before, because everything I'd ever heard or read made it sound like some extremely difficult task. I eat eggs in the morning, so my energy level was never enough to take on such a challenge.

But au contraire! The poached egg is no longer elusive. Here's how to make this morning's breakfast:

Saute chopped breakfast veggies in a pan with oil- I used green peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and left them in the pan on med-low while I made the other ingredients.

Turn a pot of water on high to get it to come to a boil.

Grab a blender, and add one egg yolk, dijon mustard and lemon juice (a tiny bit of each if you're like me.. and lemon pepper will suffice if you don't keep fresh lemons on hand), any other spices that appeal to you (I added thyme, basil, cayenne and black pepper).

Turn the water down to half, gently crack two eggs into the water (some people use a spoon so that they don't break in the process, but I find if you turn it down to half and quickly add the eggs this isn't necessary). After you drop in the eggs, turn the water back up to return to boiling. These will need to cook for around 3 mins, so hit a timer if necessary. If you cook too long you'll just have funny-shaped boiled eggs- you want the yolks to stay runny!

Put an english muffin in the toaster.

Heat two tablespoons of butter in the microwave for 1.5 mins or until hot. Turn the blender on high and pour in the hot butter in a slow stream.

Hopefully at this point your eggs will have been cooking for 3 mins, your english muffin is toasted, and your sauce is ready. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs and set on a towel (paper towels will do) to drain excess water. Then spoon vegetables on top of the toasted english muffin halfs, place the eggs on top of the vegetables, and top with the hollandaise sauce. If you want, crack some pepper or add a sprig of parsley or something as a garnish.

Add a mimosa and a cup of hot tea, and voila! Sexy, delicious breakfast.

-Jess

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Legal Issues for Music Venues in VA

Artists and venues alike in Virginia are constantly dealing with socio-political clashes which set huge barriers to the industry growth. Musical censorship is one of Virginia’s most established traditions. Local bars find it extremely difficult to establish themselves as “music venues,” because they have to constantly deal with an outdated bureaucracy.

Posting this to gather details on the specific legal issues facing venues in VA. It seems strange that the state wouldn't support this. It's healthy industry- it's service-oriented, it doesn't pollute the air, and it's a potential cash-cow. To develop this would increase tourism, which is more healthy industry...


Share the legal barriers you know of that VA venues run into- cite the laws if you know them. Trying to find out more on this.

Thanks!


-Jess

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marketing. Inspiration. Nutrition. Innovation. - Fashion. Art. Design.

Friends,

Welcome to my blogspot! I've been meaning to get one of these going for quite awhile, but continued to be lazy and use Myspace to post my thoughts. My lack of funds while finishing up my studies have made me an avid DIY-er, a bargain shopper, and an all-around resourceful little lady. My goal with this blog is to spotlight all that is exciting to me in the world and on the web, to give advice, and to seek it.

I am a lover of all things daring, with a passion for art (be it music, fashion, design) that enters uncharted territory, or struts into well-charted territory with such strength that the oldest residents turn their heads and take note.

I'm edgy, but I have class. I'm thrifty, but I eat well and I look good. I am without budget, but I'm creative, and have found that connecting with great people I have a more valuable resource than anything money can buy. Give me my cell phone, my laptop, and a wireless connection, and I'll tackle any task.

-Jess