Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Books to Inspire the Kid in You

Off the record: I love children's books. I have written a few (as yet unpublished), and read thousands.

When I read the "Henry Hikes," books with my daughter, I fell in love, and contacted the author/illustrator, D.B. Johnson.

He has graciously stayed in touch with me over the years. Today, DB sent me the link to the blog Seven Impossible Things, and I fell in love again!

Check it out and let this be your entry into a magical new year!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Off the Record: I've never met a potato I didn't like. So, today, I had lots of fun interviewing professionals in the potato industry who are involved in some fascinating research...

You'll have to read my seed research column in the February, 2010 issue of GROWING MAGAZINE for the details...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Off the Record: I Love Yoga!

Off the Record: I love yoga!
I used to be a gym rat who took an occasional yoga class. Now, I practice yoga daily first thing in the morning for at least 45 minutes, and occasionally go to the gym. Honestly, I feel stronger.
My daughter's getting into it, too! Check out her shoulder stand!

We study together with Brandy Lefsyk. I also love the classes at Yoga Center Amherst.

To your health!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Trust and Tea

Off the record: I like the way this woman thinks.

“I often consider how life could be different if we all began to cultivate meaningful relationship with our suppliers (the way so many of our customers have) visit their farms and know their children or pets by name...we would trust one another.”
~ Angela Macke, founder Light of Day Organics, a tea company and biodynamic family farm

When I get to speak with cool people like Angela Macke, I feel inspired and blessed. As you may have guessed, today I am writing about tea - actually fruit based tisanes. Have I mentioned how much I love tea and tisanes? Writing this sort of article makes my mouth water. Thank you, to the editors at FRESH CUP magazine for giving me something new to drool over.

On that note, time to go brew a cup...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Media Bistro

Off the Record: Why did it take so long for me to discover Media Bistro?

This site is an invaluable resource for writers. They offer how-to articles, info about mastheads, a place where writers can post their credits or CV, and a plethora (I Love that word) of other information. They also offer classes in cities throughout the U.S.

Last night, I went to a class offered by MB in Boston. It was inspiring, informative and a great opportunity to meet other writers. I suppose some folks would feel competitive, but that's just not me. There's room for all the kids in the coffee shop, and we'll do much better if we share the cream and sugar instead of hoarding it. Bravo to the folks at the bistro who invited us in for a "cuppa joe"!

Friday, September 25, 2009

To Your Health!

Off the Record: What do we really know about nutrition?
I'm researching Nutrient Dense Crop production today for an article in an agricultural trade magazine. While searching the USDA website, I stumbled upon this fascinating article.

Here's an excerpt:

"Contrary to what previous research had suggested, the rate at which calcium was removed from bones of the volunteers--for other uses by their bodies--was the same for omnivore women as for the vegan women."

To your health!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shout out to HARO

Off the record: A friend introduced me to Peter Shankman's website a few months ago, and I will be eternally grateful! HARO (aka. Help A Reporter Out) is the go-to site for journalists in need of sources. On those rare occasions when I have received an assignment with no leads, or when an editor has accepted a pitch but changed it significantly enough that the contacts I was going to use no longer work, I have turned to HARO.

If you're a reporter in need of sources, a PR agent scouting media placement opportunities for your clients, or an expert in any field, then it would behoove you to check out HARO and it's sister site

Thanks, Peter, Mike, Laura, Meagan, and Thom!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Live Passionately!

"In order to be ALIVE you need to live passionately. You need to feel things deeply or you become like the simple donut, with a big hole in the middle."

Off the record: these words of wisdom are courtesy of my Aunt Lil, a former art teacher, who still paints and remains active, despite living with a painful and debilitating disease

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Book(s)

Wow, has it really been almost a month since my last post???

Off the record: Vacation Time is GRRRRRREAT! What did I do, aside from spend time with my beautiful child?

I reflected, I read novels and magazines, and I considered my future. And, oh yeah, I wrote FOR MYSELF. As enjoyable as journalism is, there is nothing like the feeling of just letting words flow without worrying about who's going to read them, what they may think, and whether or not the writing is actually good. Playing with words is one of the joys of my life.

I also resumed thinking about the book project I started earlier this year, when I traveled to Nicaragua to interview people with disabilities. Just as I was feeling discouraged about the possibility of actually getting the thing published (or being PAID to write it), I stumbled upon a super-helpful post about getting published at Editorial Ass. It's amazing how just reading the info therein got my creative juices flowing, reminded me of how much I have to offer and made me see that I actually do have a chance at getting a book published!

As Moon Rat (the Editorial Ass blogger) says, "Published authors are just the writers who had the most perseverance."

p.s. Two novels I read and LOVED this summer:
"The Sound of Waves," by Yukio Mishima
"The Westing Game," by Ellen Raskin (recommended by my daughter)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Two Beautiful Words

Off the record, the 2 most beautiful words I heard last week were "It's benign."

Spoken by the surgeon who removed the left suprior parathyroid, with embedded tumor, from my mother's neck, those words sounded better than anything I had heard in a long time. It's been a busy and intense summer, in large part due to the havoc that 3 millimeter tumor wreaked on mom's health and ability to care for herself. Thankfully she is healing and regaining her strength and energy quickly!
Prior to this nightmarish experience, I had never heard of the parathyroid. I had no idea it was one of four tiny glands within the thyroid; nor did I understand the important function these glands serve in regulating calcium. Had we left this condition unchecked, my mother's bones would have become severely brittle and she would have been at serious risk for renal failure!

There is a story here for sure, and it is one that, if published in the right outlet, has the power to save lives.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

OFF THE RECORD: Fair Trade = Peace

Today, I had the privilege of visiting Equal Exchange headquarters in West Bridgewater, MA for a facility tour and cupping.

(Above: Daniel & Mike explain the difference between the samples we tasted.)

First off, let me just say the coffee was incredible! Mike introduced us to three varieties; one from Bolivia, one from Peru, and one from Ethiopia. My favorite was the Peruvian, which had notes of caramel and maple syrup, and was incredibly smooth and light, even though the beans were a year old! (Harvest time is approaching in S. America, so EE will be getting new stock from their co-op partners in Peru soon!)

(Above: the Brew Crew form we filled out during our tasting)

More importantly, all the coffee we sampled, indeed all the coffee they sell, is certified organic and fair trade. In essence, Equal Exchange’s coffee (and their tea, cocoa, chocolates, and new line of snack foods) promote peace. How? By working only with farmer cooperatives that grow their product without chemicals that harm the earth, Equal Exchnage is encouraging farmers to work sustainably. By empowering farmers with knowledge that helps them improve their product and marketing efforts, and by offering the best prices possible to the farmers who supply their product, this company is keeping people out of poverty. As far as I can tell, poverty breeds desperation, which ultimately leads to fighting. Empowerment leads to peace.

Daniel, who arranged the tour and cupping, laid out the company mission for me thusly:
“We’re pretty much a social justice organization, using [coffee, cocoa and tea] as tools.”

If you’d like to participate in a tour and cupping at Equal Exchange, email Daniel ( more info. The next tour is scheduled for August 18th.

p.s. I’m also inspired by Equal Exchange’s efforts to keep their refuse out of landfills. You’ll be able to read more about that at Conscious Cow soon!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Off the Record: Communication Breakdown's Drivin' Me Mad

Hmmm... I think that's how the lyrics to Communication Breakdown go. Actually, it might not even be a song, but in my head, there's music. I just read the following quote from Deepak Chopra (who, by the way, knocks my socks off), and I just had to share it with you.

"Talking person to person can be totally misunderstood, just as on the Net. Blogs give you a chance to be misunderstood en masse - and grateful when that one sympathetic reader responds and gives you hope for the future of the mind."
~ Deepak Chopra

Off the record, I sometimes have such difficulty engaging in live interpersonal conversations. (The exception is during interviews, because I have a list of questions and it's expected I'll probe.) Deepak Chopra's words above make me laugh, because they ring true... maybe too true!

OK, sympathetic readers... your reponses are welcome!

Monday, June 29, 2009

OFF THE RECORD: This Actor Turned Author is Truly Inspiring

Friday I had the priviledge of interviewing the author of a new vegan diet & lifestyle book for a national magazine.

The book excerpts her publisher sent me were inspiring, and speaking with this author was great fun. I love interviewing people and finding interpersonal connections. In this case, our love of food and passion for health unites us.

If the woman's name was Jane Smith, I would have been excited about the interview. However, the author of "The Kind Diet", forthcoming from Rodale press this fall, is Alicia Silverstone. With all the crazy stories about Hollywood “stars-run-amok”, it's refreshing to meet someone so down-to-earth and committed to helping others. Her breakout movie role may have been the starring role in "Clueless," but Alicia Silverstone is anything but.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Off the record: I’m Obsessed with food

I love food!
I love harvesting it at my friend’s farm, and gathering it in the wild and at U-pick places. I love preparing it, eating it, and sharing it with my family and friends.

I can discuss ingredients ad nauseum, and I view the act of creating new recipes as an artistic endeavor. I have so much fun playing with food that my loved ones say it’s hard to pry me out of the kitchen. My daughter says I’m not myself without a blender in the house, so after the last cheapo blender broke; I finally treated myself to a Vita-Mix.
(When UPS delivered the big box, and I opened it to find my fancy new blender, it was like Christmas all over again!)

I also love writing about food, so it makes perfect sense many of the magazines I write for are food industry publications. From seed to sip, I cover it all and love every minute of it. Visiting produce importers at the Boston market terminals for the fall 2008 issue of BLUEPRINTS was a thrill, and I’m looking forward to writing a feature about the Boston produce industry later this year.

My latest article in FRESH CUP, one of a few publications targeting professionals in the specialty beverage industry, was perhaps my most exciting assignment to date.

I conducted the research in Nicaragua, and among other things, I tried a RAW coffee bean. (I’m convinced that raw coffee could be the next big beverage craze… but I digress.)

I’ve spent the last few weeks focused on blueberries, for two upcoming articles in FARMING: the Journal of Northeast Agriculture, and GROWING MAGAZINE. Blueberries are my favorite fruit, so this research was especially fun. I spoke with blueberry farmers and with researchers who are working diligently to help growers strengthen their crop.

I am committed to covering stories that are uplifting, and I am committed to using my words to foster peace. (You may be wondering how FOOD is connected with peace… more on that later.) Toward that end, you’ll see my seed research column and other work again coursing toward people who are empowered and empowering, and toward events that promote healing and foster peace. I’ll be focusing on things like organic food and agriculture, healthy people making healthy lifestyle choices, and creative solutions to promote environmental health. I love the publications I write for, and am excited to continue providing my editors and readers with news they can use to create the life they want.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Off the Record: Lambs Lying with Lions

As the saying goes, "When lamb and lion lie down together, joy and wonder never cease." While listening to the radio this evening, I was struck by the sense that lambs and lions are indeed beginning to do just that.

I've always been a fan of Marketplace, which airs on my NPR station weeknights at 6:30. However, I haven't tuned in for a while. Imagine my surprise when I listened in tonight and the left-leaning economics-for-idiots show produced by American Public Media announced it's latest supporter: Monsanto.

To my ears, that was the most interesting part of the broadcast, that is until Kai Ryssdal introduced the story about the bill awaiting a Senate vote that would give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco. This bill, which already passed in the House, is supported by Phillip Morris. Listen to Sarah Gardner's report here:

Off the record: lambs and lions may indeed be lying down together, but I'm not exactly sure these unions will create either joy or wonder.
What do you think?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Off the Record: Journalists Need High Speed

Off the record: I have a need for speed.

So do many other folks these days. That's why, on Tuesday May 26th, Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick visited my small town to discuss an issue of great importance to independent journalists like me, home-based business people, and students: the need for speed.

Of course I'm referring to High Speed internet, which, believe it or not, is very difficult to access in rural communities like mine. The majority of households and businesses here run on dial-up!

Before the governor's arrival, I was interviewed by ABC, Springfield's Ray Hershel. Off the record: Hershel's coverage is succinct and clear. I'm very pleased with the report overall, as it highlights the most important aspects of the issue.

Of course, the part of my interview that was left on the cutting room floor was the part where I explain WHY I'm interviewing people via email. My first choice is always to interview people face-to-face. However, time and distance do not always permit this.

For example, when I interviewed the cutting-edge Indian artists, Thukral & Tagra, for Anokhi magazine, email was the only way. The magazine was not going to send me to India for the interview, and the time difference between locations made a phone conversation untenable. Hence, "Everyday Thukral & Tagra: a hot commodity" was the result of internet communication.

Off the record: if not for my Sprint broadband card, my job would be a lot more difficult.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Off the Record: Trash = Cash

This week I was fortunate to attend a meeting that MA DEP held for professionals in the recycling business community. DEP’s intent was to inform folks about the financial opportunities available to businesses engaged in solid waste recycling and re-use.

The room was packed. Presenters from BDC Capital, the MA Small Business Development Center at Clark University, Mass Development and the USDA Rural Development office shared information about available loans and grants of up to $500,000 to help revitalize, grow or create businesses engaged in recycling and reuse. The possibilities are so numerous it’s astounding. Recycling has gone far beyond paper, plastic and glass. This includes compost (yard scraps, food waste, etc…), textiles, and electronic components that do not contain hazardous materials. USDA is even funding LAND reuse.

It was truly inspiring to see how many people in both government and in the private sector are engaged in this issue. After the meeting, I spoke with several individuals who agreed to interviews. There is a wealth of story material here, and as far as I know, I was the only journalist at the meeting! I’ll post in-depth coverage of the meeting and the opportunities presented there at Conscious Cow in the next few weeks. (Of course, I’m also excited about the possibilities of selling these stories to high quality publications.) Since the business owners I spoke to agreed to let me visit their facilities and shoot their operations in action, I anticipate having some fun and fascinating videos to share at Conscious Cow this summer.

It seems these businesspeople really are living the triple bottom line concept of people, planet, and profit.

Off the record, the bottom line is: trash really does equal cash.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Off the record: what’s your marketing strategy?

Off the record, one of the great things about writing for magazines is that some of the editors send me free issues each month. I’ve really been enjoying Coffee Talk magazine lately, because each issue features a great column, called “Smart Marketing”. Written by Lisa Olsen, this column offers practical advice for business owners in all industries, not just hospitality and specialty beverage.

This month’s column is particularly interesting and useful, as it focuses on internet marketing. Many business people and artists I know are just learning how to use the web to generate more revenue as well as an increase in foot traffic to their street locations. If you’re an entrepreneur, I highly recommend you check out Lisa’s column. After all, whether you’re just starting out, or well established, there’s never a bad time to think about creative marketing. Find this article online in Coffee Talk's May 2009 issue.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Off the Record: How to Get Money to Make Art (Without Winning the Lottery)

Off the record, my friend Mira is one cool woman. She writes, she paints, she's fun to hang with, and she offers one sweet blog for artists of all sorts. I get her updates regularly and visit Mira's List to catch up on the latest grants and funding available for writers. You see, I'm all about empowerment, and that's what Mira's List offers.

"Finding Money for Your Dreams" is my favorite post thus far. It's both inspiring, and chock-full of important and practical tips. It's a long read, but if you're an artist, it's well worth the time to check it out. Reading "Finding Money for Your Dreams" reminded me of some important steps I needed to take, and inspired me to act immediately.

Until next time...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Off the Record, but still obsessed!

I guess journalism was so deep in my blood, I didn’t know it was there. My mom was an investigative journalist for a local paper during my teen years, and before that served as Editor of a suburban Boston paper. At the tender and impressionable age of three, I sat atop the desk in the office adjacent hers, and holding the play phone carefully against my ear, interviewed all of her subjects.

As a young adult I was disillusioned with news media – turned off by the doom and gloom aspect of every report that came across the wires. Journalism was not in my future, or so I believed. Writing, however, was…

I honed my craft in the screenwriting program at Yale, and worked on poetry and short fiction for fun. I worked as a Script Consultant in Hollywood, which meant that I read screenplays and wrote reports about them for one of the major talent agencies. Eventually I landed in the sales and marketing department in one of 20th Century Fox’s many divisions. In addition to many other duties, I wrote marketing materials and marketing editorials to promote Fox’s latest film releases on TV.

Imagine my surprise when, a few years later, having returned to my homeland (New England), an offer to volunteer for a local non-profit organization landed me my first paid gig as a journalist. With “Landmine Removal at Origin” published in the May 2007 issue of FRESH CUP magazine, my journalistic career was launched.

Today, I am involved in a career that is rich beyond my wildest dreams. In fact, I’m becoming obsessed. Everywhere I go, I find I’m looking for or uncovering stories and asking myself “Where can I pitch this?”

Case in point – on a recent romantic getaway to Portsmouth, NH, I found myself interviewing people and taking photos for, the kitschy journalistic blog I started to raise awareness about waste management issues. (Thank goodness, my significant other is a patient one!)