Take it Personal


As a BzzAgent, I had the opportunity to sign up for About.me, which is a site that allows me to create a digital “calling card” that links up all of my online media. What’s cool about About.me is that not only is it easy to use, but it provides one, graphically-pleasing platform for my internet presence. Through BzzAgent, I received an offer to score 50 business cards from About.me as well, which I will redeem once I format my About.me site in the way I want.

About.me is very easy to use; its simple and interactive design interface allowed me to choose a variety of color schemes, opacity for text boxes, an original background image, and more. I chose to use a background design that About.me shares with the public so that I could advertise my online Avon store. At any time, I can upload an image of my choice to further personalize my page.

I like the feature at the top of About.me that allows me to browse different users’ profiles. There are so many different people using this service–some, like me, who are advertising a business, and others, who use it as a portal to their other online media. I was inspired to design my own About.me after spending some time reviewing other user’s pages–clearly, there is a need for a “one-portal” concept to link up one’s internet presence. On my About.me page, I linked my facebook, twitter, this blog, and my Avon online store page. If I direct people to my About.me link, it’s easy for them to navigate these links from one place.

About.me currently has an email feature as well–I claimed my email name and now I can get free email through the site. It’s another way to drive my potential Avon customers to my facebook business page as well as my Avon online store. I appreciate the opportunity to receive and send mail through the About.me site! I don’t need to rely on personal email accounts; About.me seems to have all avenues covered!

I would recommend About.me to anyone who wants some internet visibility and a place to organize one’s internet life. With an intuitive set-up, About.me doesn’t require that you be a computer programmer to set up your internet “calling card.” You can create a pleasing, clean, and interesting site in minutes–and you can track its traffic through the About.me site stats. Very cool! I’ll keep you posted to see how my About.me is helping me stay organized while also promoting my Avon business!

Here is the link to my About.me page: http://about.me/mrs.morris

Thanks, BzzAgent! šŸ™‚

As an omnivore with a family that likes to eat meat, I’ve been on the prowl for over a year to revamp our family’s diet and eat meat that has been more consciously raised and finished. Factory farmed meat=not for me. My toddler loves hot dogs, but I was skeptical about serving him something that I typically associated with nitrites, unsavory animal parts, and general “yuck” factor. In my local supermarket, I came across Applegate Farms Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs and I decided to give them a try. I had been buying Applegate Farms cold cuts for some time, as I appreciate the company’s dedication to humane treatment of animals. I am happy to report that Applegate Farms Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs are now my family’s go-to hot dog. They are delicious!

My little guy really enjoyed these hot dogs. I gave it a try, eating a littleĀ bit and finding a pleasurable beef flavor that didn’t have any chemical or acidic aftertaste. They are plump and they aren’t greasy like some other hot dogs I’ve had in the past.

What really appeals to me is that Applegate Farms is a company that is forthright with its customers concerning its practices and products. Its new “Promise Tracker” allows the consumer to track the product (in my case, the hot dogs) back to the farm from which it originated.

Simply, the hot dogs taste good because the beef is derived from grass-fed, free-roaming animals. These are cows that haven’t been sick or fed antibiotics. The meat that goes into Applegate Farms hot dogs is quality meat–it’s not a mish-mash of grade Z meat that would frighten a customer. The ingredients list is short and clear: “Organic Grass-Fed Beef, Water, Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Sea Salt, Celery Powder, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Spices, Organic Paprika.” It’s that simple. There’s nothing on the ingredients list that is a mystery or that I can’t pronounce. There’s nothing like “natural flavors” that are typically synthetic. Applegate Farms is clear and straightforward with what goes into its products and why the final product is superior.

What also appeals to me is that the organic uncured beef hot dog is also lower in fat than its counterparts in my supermarket. Weighing in with 6 grams of fat (as opposed to 14 grams in other brands) per serving makes me feel better about what I’m serving.

It means a lot to me to be able to make a conscious decision about what my family eats–and I have to say, Applegate Farms makes it a bit easier for me. I’ve stood in supermarkets, staring at factory farmed meat and felt frozen in place, wondering what I should/could buy without putting my family at risk for e. coli, omega-6 fat, etc. I’ve wondered if the labels I’ve been reading that say “cage free” or “organic” actually mean what they say. When I buy Applegate Farms products, I’m not worried. I appreciate having that peace of mind when I buy food for my family.

My favorite products are currently these hot dogs, the ham, the cheese, the uncured bacon, and the sausages. Delicious!

Hotdogs

So it’s disturbing to teach freshmen English when I am using Chew on This, Food Inc, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and a myriad of other sources to teach persuasive writing–and my students say things like “who cares if the chickens are factory farmed?” or “I would eat @ (insert a fast food restaurant name here) anyway.” It seems as though there’s an apathy that can’t be shaken because it’s not “cool” to care about treating animals humanely, or to learn about how genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are not always regulatedĀ  by our government.

But then I encounter this article– http://news.change.org/stories/food-fight-college-students-demand-cage-free-eggs-on-campus

So 10,000 Penn State students are advocating for cage-free eggs in the university’s dining halls. I’m encouraged that the apathetic attitude I see from fourteen year-old students transforms into a call-to-action only a few years later.

It’s hard to live in this era without realizing the detrimental after-effects of factory farming–especially the current method of farming chickens. The manure alone pollutes our water supply, our soil, and the billions of tons have nowhere to go. Chickens–social, intelligent creatures, deserve respect–even if they are being bred to be our meal. The challenge remains to enlighten without preaching, and remove a veil of ignorance perpetuated by deceptive marketing and clever labeling. It’s great to see our collegiate generation responding to the current issues. It gives me hope that the nonfiction unit I am doing with my students will resonate with them long and hard enough to truly affect change.

So I was engaged on Valentine’s Day in 2004, and married six months later. Six years later,Ā  I am with my soul mate. There’s nothing better than that.

Best Valentine’s present ever.

ā¤

I managed to take some pictures of the kids’ work near the end of my “Altered Book Anthologies” class–some of the kids really put a lot of creative effort into creating their books. It was definitely a challenge to get all of the kids on board, but after the first week, I’d say over 90% of them were invested in creating art and writing creatively. It was hard to work with little kids (4th grade-8th grade) and inspire them to be creative in a non-judgmental arena. They aren’t used to that sort of environment, and some of them took suggestions as criticism. But that’s what you get when you are working with gifted kids who feel the need to be “perfect” or have other learning issues. I do feel that they learned to trust me, and in turn, trust their own creative eyes.

While I thought it was much harder than my high school English teachingĀ  job, I think that it was an important learning experience for me. I taught an art class! I got the kids to investigate nature and write about it. VERY COOL. Sometimes the most rewarding journeys are the most difficult and painful–and yes, I complained a ton about working becauseĀ  I was uncomfortable doing it. But I proved to myself that I can do it, and that is what it’s about.

One girl, Emma, came up to me on the last day and told me that I was “her favorite teacher” and Altered Book Anthologies was “her favorite class.” She gave me a hug, and at that moment, it was all worth it. She also made my favorite book of the whole program–it was as if she was able to totally manifest what I wanted the class to be able to do–draw, paint, write, and create complementary art/ writing entries. She totally nailed it, and I was so proud of her.

So here are some photos from the kids’ anthologies…

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There is something about cutting paper that is so relaxing. I could spend a huge chunk of time just sitting and cutting out paper detailing for collage work. It’s so funny how I’ve moved into a visual art/ more tactile artistic direction than my writing, which I never expected. It’s just that I’m really enjoying the immediate sense of creating something without worrying about a lot of rules. Working with the altered books I started is so freeing and it’s helping me see things differently around me, like dragonflies and tiny shards of rocks, and my toddler’s bright smile. I get so mired down in the day-to-day @ my teaching job that I forget how to live an artistic, creative life. And that’s what I really want–an “artful” life, oh–and a house at the beach. I want to live there all summer. That’s my total dream–just living near the water, wandering around in the sun, and making art all summer with my family. That would be total and complete sanity and happiness for me. Until then, I want to keep up this momentum & stop putting my art and writing aside. My husband is inspiring me with his blogging–http://elvisdo.wordpress.comĀ  He’s an amazing artist but he’s embracing the writer part of himself. I want to work with that and embrace myself as a “mixed-media” artist. Who cares if I can’t draw? LOL. My new goals are to learn how to sew, and to learn better Photoshop skills. I am itching to make digital collage, too.

So here are some pics of my book(s) in progress…the splatter page was painted by a student of mine in the art/ writing class I finished teaching last week.

...tempura and acrylic paints.

Fiddling with acrylics and festive images.

I put a little folklore rhyme about gypsies in there...

So I took a random summer job this year, teaching altered book arts to campers in 4th-8th grade. I say random because I never expected to be teaching little kids (I work with high school students) or working for a Gifted and Talented camp. Yet I have full control over my class, and it’s only for three weeks, which is nice. I’ll have three weeks before the summer ends and I have to re-enter the doldrums of public school education.

Since I’ve started working with the campers, I’m designing two altered books of my own–kind of in tandem with the kids. I have this really strong impetus to keep working, to write, to collage. There is something so satisfying about cutting paper, mounting images, and fiddling with media. I am currently loving my acrylic paints, Sharpie pens, my bone folder, and oil pastels.

I now need to learn how to photograph my work so that it’s not so blurry and crazy. I should perhaps read the manual that came with my camera, so that I can try more manual settings rather than the auto settings. It would also help if my hands didn’t shake so much.

Here are a few images of my early work from this summer. I will photograph the rest as I go. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a decent scanner/ printer so that I can scan in my work instead of taking shat photographs of it.

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