I went to a Holiday Appetizers program at my library this week and learned some great tips. Let me share them:
When baking preheat the oven 50º higher than the oven says and then after your dish has been in the oven 10 minutes reset the temperature to the specified one. This counters the cold that gets into the oven when you’ve opened the door.
When baking a pie, it’s better to bake it on a jelly roll pan turned upside down.
Sunflower oil (80%) with extra virgin olive oil is better to cook with as it’s got a higher smoke point.
Don’t have guests bring appetizers as they may arrive late. Let them bring dessert.
The teacher suggested not serving appetizers first. She serves the meal 15 minutes after the start time, then people have time to talk or play games and after awhile have appetizers followed by dessert. (She seems big on games and activities.)
To avoid leaving platters at other hostesses homes, she either brings a white platter with an engraving on the back to give as a hostess gift or she brings her food in disposable packaging and borrows a platter or pan or from the hostess to use. That way she’s never in the midst of her own entertaining and realizing her platters or serving dishes are missing.
Before adding spices to a recipe, mix them with lemon juice or oil (that’s required by the recipe) to “wake them up.”
What I saw in the halls of Hangzhou’s Ibis hotel – my room was just as bad
The Art of Manliness offers great advice on making the best of a bad hotel room. It’s not unusual, especially if you’re in a far flung country to encounter a dirty, loud, generally unpleasant hotel room. Here is the Art of Manliness post with “survival” tips.
One problem I see missing is how to handle problems if the clerks don’t speak English. I’ve found that most hostels with the Hosteling International do have English speaking staff. Their cleanliness and comfort had a wide range, but there was always someone at the desk who spoke English.
I’d add that you might want to just book one or two nights at a hostel with an eye to extending your stay if the accommodations are to your liking, though in peak season you might not be able to extend.
I have come to play it safe by booking with chains. I’m not a backpacker any more and a couple nights at a hostel is enough. With a chain there’s a good chance that someone can make things right. The chain cares about its reputation and responds if not on site, than after seeing a tweet or Facebook post. It’s not always the case as two recent stays at Ibis hotels (one in Jakarta by the airport and one in Hangzhou) have demonstrated.
Ikigai is a Japanese word that refers to the intersection of your mission, passion, profession, and vocation (see below). Héctor Garcìa and Francesc Miralles investigated a village in Okinawa which has the highest number of residents over the age of 100.
Their secrets to longevity and quality of life are useful, but the book as a whole could easily be edited down to an article. The authors travel to Japan and interview several active, healthy centenarians but all that’s shared are a few conversations and a list of quotations along with a description of 10 common qualities of these vibrant centenarians and explanations of how they implement them into their daily lives:
Never retire – always participate in meaningful, helpful activities
Take it slow – no need to rush which makes people stressed.
Don’t eat till you’re full – stop eating when you’re 80% full or fast a day or two a week. One trick is to eat on very small plates, perhaps the size of a saucer and don’t pile food up.
Keep moving through light exercise. You don’t need to do contact sports or run an marathon. Keep it simple.
Surround yourself with friends. Have several relationships so if one ends, you have back up.
Reconnect with nature.
Live in the moment.
Follow your ikigai.
The trouble I found with the book was the meandering. I think there were 10 qualities just because ten is a round number. In addition to information about ikigai, there’s a lot of fluff about yoga, tai chi, Csikszentmihalyi’s flow. They also add paragraphs that should have been deleted about their trip from the airport and such banalities. The ideas about flow, tai chi, etc. were from the authors and not from the Japanese elders.
I’d hoped that this would be like The Little Book of Hygge,but it lacked the wit and the tone of the book. I think I’d rather read such a book written by an insider. Someone from Japan would be able to add insights two outsiders couldn’t.
So this is a book to get from the library and skim. then go out and find that passion, make more friends, smile and eat till you’re just 80% full.
I attended an informative session at the library on The Art of Interviewing. The main takeaways were skills are the name of the game and making those skills stand out is key. This speaker, who’s a recruiter for IBM, didn’t think much about soft skills, while I’d thought that skills get you to the final round and “Who would I like to have lunch with?” gets you the offer.
Since I’m hoping to transition out of teaching I wanted to see how other fields hire. Here are the recommendations:
Here’s the best tip: If you’re interviewing for a job with Bank A and have 75% of the desired skills, look at the ads for the same position at Bank B and C. You may see that you have some of their desired skills that aren’t listed by Bank A. In you interview point this out. Show that you’ve done this homework. Tell them that the competition wants someone who can do X, Y and Z and that you’ve got those skills. You’ll really stand out.
When discussing a work gap, tell the interviewer how you’ve spent that time acquiring new skills — seminars, online courses, etc.
Before an interview check out the LinkedIn profiles of the people you’ll talk to. Notice how they communicate in addition to their associates and background.
“Tell me about yourself” means how are you the solution to our problem.
Don’t include jobs from more than 10 years ago. (I’m wondering though. I’ve been in education for more than 10 years and I want to show that I’ve functioned successfully in other areas.)
“What is your ideal job?” Answer is the job you’re interviewing for. Five years doesn’t matter to them. You basically want to communicate that “based on what I bring to the table, the next step for me is to build a foundation from a position like this.”
Stand for a phone interview. Keeps you thinking.
Write bullet points to prep for interview.
Always follow up on interviews.
Cover letters address gaps, career transitions. Recruiters don’t read cover letters anymore. (It used to be that cover letters showed writing and thinking skills. I guess people don’t care about that anymore.)
Make sure you don’t miss a single Photofocus post – point your feed reader to the free Photofocus RSS Feed here and subscribe.
NOTE: This is a repost of something I wrote more than two years ago, but since our audience is much larger now than it was then, there may be many of you who haven’t seen it. I just survived another year on this planet so it’s fitting to me somehow to think and speak about such things. Hopefully they will be helpful to you too.
You’ve heard it before – “Life is short.” Too short for some. Tomorrow is promised to no person. We all owe a death. But it’s not the death we live for, it’s the life in between. When you’re in your 20s, you think you’re untouchable – you’ll live forever. When you’re in your 30s, you live as if you still have most…