Be sure to follow me on my blog’s new location!

Please continue to follow me!

Hello readers!

Please be sure to continue to follow me through my new site.  Click here to resubscribe to my blog at its new home.  And be sure to look around the rest of my website while you’re there.  It’s still  a work in progress so come back often!  I look forward to your future comments and visits!

Christine Speno

Words Etc Writing & Editing

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Words Etc. – we’re moving!

To all my followers and devoted readers, I am in the process of moving the WordsEtcWriting.com blog to my website at www.wordsetc.info.  I apologize for the confusion during construction and hope you’ll visit me there.  Be sure to subscribe to RSS feeds on the new site location so you’ll still be in touch with me and my posts!  You’ll find it on the “connect” section on the left of every page of of the site!  You can also follow me there on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn if you’re not already connected with me.

Words Etc. blog is moving.
Photo credit: Flickr

Thanks for visiting, reading and commenting!

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Pickled Sweet Pepper Strips – a vegan recipe

Today is the first ever Flagler Beach Vegan Fest. I’m not a vegan myself, but I’m finding myself eating this way more as I’ve been working with a great group of people to help them promote this event.  The excitement has been growing over the past few weeks. This is a passionate group who believe whole-heartedly in their commitment of creating a balance in the world that is the end result of eating vegan-style. Exactly what classifies a recipe as vegan? To be vegan, a recipe must exclude meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Check out Vegan by Choice for more information.

Bounty from my garden 2011
Photo credit: Words Etc.

My husband and I often eat vegetarian meals and many of those meals and dishes end up being vegan.  What I’ve observed in recent weeks is that by “hanging out” with a few vegans while planning and promoting this event, I’ve started to analyze everything we cook and eat to see if it fits into the “vegan” category.

So it is in that spirit that I make my vegan recipe contribution today.

Communication with the earth by growing your own stuff is a favorite form of communicating for me.  Last year my yellow banana peppers just wouldn’t stop communicating with me!  We were overrun with Datil peppers as well as sweet yellow banana peppers.  The Datils have been turned into an amazing hot sauce, and I also developed a Datil Pepper Relish that has become very popular with friends and neighbors. But the real fun I had last summer was to perfect my version of a sweet pickled banana pepper. I am already anticipating what new creativity this summer’s garden will inspire!

I’ve finally got it down to science so here it is for all the world to see.  And to all my vegan friends in Flagler Beach and all around the area, Happy Vegan Fest Day!!

Christine’s Pickled Sweet Pepper Strips
Photo Credit: Words Etc.

Christine’s Pickled Sweet Pepper Strips

Start with 2 pounds of yellow and red sweet peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4 or 1/2 inch strips or rings (about 4 cups yellow banana and 4 cups of red bell)

Cover peppers with ice water, adding a few cloves of garlic and  1/3 cup pickling salt.  Mix well and allow to stand covered for about 3 hours. Drain the peppers well in a colander.

Pack 4 pint jars with peppers. Be sure to pack the peppers tightly.  Remember they are raw when you pack them and will shrink up a bit from the hot brine.  To each jar add:

½ tsp pickling salt

¼ tsp celery seed

1 tsp mustard seed

1 clove garlic

One Datil pepper or a few slices of jalapeno pepper for spicy jars.  I usually make a mild jar or too for those less adventurous!

Prepare the brine by mixing together:

 2 cups white wine or cider vinegar

1 ½ cup sugar

1 ¼ tsp turmeric

 Bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes.  Pour brine over peppers. Leaving ½ inch headspace. Seal and process 10-15 minutes in boiling water bath. Let jars cool on a towel on counter top. Store the cooled, sealed jars in a cool, dark, dry place for at least 3 weeks before eating the peppers.

Be prepared to make more.  Everyone will love these peppers, and you can tell by the photo that they are beautiful!

Have some recipes that fit into the vegan category?  Please share with me!

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Converting a resume to plain text from Microsoft Word.

Many resume writers and career consultants recommend that your resume makes a splash with sharp graphic design and other style features. But what about those job sites that want you to email your resume within the body or require you to upload the resume into their online app? Or maybe you have a website and want to include your resume as part of the content – either as a job-seeker or even a business owner – and you simply just want clean text. Plain text or ASCII format is the answer. (pronounced ASKEE).

ASCII means American Standard Code for Information Interchange and refers to the universal code that most computers understand. A document saved in this format is very simply put, just words. There are no pictures, graphics or fonts and no special style characteristics like bod or underline. If it sounds boring to you, don’t worry you’re not alone in that thinking. It is a very boring document to look at, but it has all the information necessary.  For job-seekers, it’s just what you need to get your information in front of a person via email or if you want to respond to an online job listing — think Monster or Careerbuilder. And if clean text is what you need, like the sample below, here are some tips to help you get there:

A plain text resume is easy to copy and paste into the body of any email.
Photo Credit: Words Etc.

  • When creating your resume in a word processing format, remove all of the special character attributes like bold, italics or underlining.  Special fonts and font size will disappear, along with tabs when you convert to plain text, so you may want to remove these features from your document before you convert it to make the adjustments easier to make later.
  • Rather than using the “bullets” feature, use these characters to define lists in the body of your resume:    + * or ~.  To separate sections of your resume, use a series of special characters.  For example:  ———————— ***************** ================= ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Align text to the left. You want a ragged right margin.
  • Let your sentences wrap to a new line.  Do not use the “enter” key to try to control the length of each line. But you should use the enter key to add white space between sections of your resume.

Following these tips will assure that your plain text resume will be easy to read on your recipient’s screen, whether he is using a computer, iPad or phone.

Once you have your document in as simple a format as possible, following the above guidelines, you will need to use the “save as” feature to save it as a “plain text” document.  Depending on the software you’re using, your choices may include ASCII, Plain Text or Text Only.  Any of these should work. You now need to reopen the file.  You’ll find that your program has reformatted your resume file into Courier font and removed all formatting and left-justified the text.

Next, you’ll need to make some adjustments to your document:

  • Reset the margin to 2 inches on both left and right margins
  • Fix any strange characters that now appear where you may have used curly quotation marks, dashes, accents or other  non-standard symbols
  • Remove any tabs and adjust the spacing.  You may have to add a few blank lines to make your resume easier to read.
  • Add a series of characters as mentioned above to separate the sections of your resume.
  • Re-save the file.  It will now be saved  as a “.txt” format file.

You’re done! Now you can open the .txt file and copy and paste it into either the body of an email or to an online application.

If you have any trouble with creating your plain text resume, leave me a comment or contact me at christine@wordsetc.info

Thanks for reading!

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

It’s Cinco de Mayo and that means, music, celebration and, of course, food and drink.  In spite of all of the ideas spinning around in my head about what I should be blogging about – like converting a resume to plain text or discussing  different writing styles –  the tastes of the day keep permeating my imagination.  As one who has been working hard on losing a few pounds, those blasted “caloric counts” are always on my mind.  Now I’m doing good in the weight-loss department with the assistance of MyFitnessPal  – a great app to help you count calories and exercise.  I am pleased to report that I have 15 lb less body fat surrounding my middle than I had just  7 1/2 weeks ago.  It’s been a pretty easy ride with the help of MFP.  I’ve become so much aware of every bite I put in my mouth and what it’s worth.  I don’t feel deprived; I just count everything I eat.  So that means today, a Margarita or a Corona Light is not out of the question — as long as I count it! But do I really want to waste all those calories on one little drink.   Hmm, have to think about that one.  I’d much rather enjoy good, fresh goodies from my kitchen.

MFP makes to easy to count your calories and exercise!

Those of you that follow me know that I communicate with my readers on all levels – and that includes food and eating.  So on on a lighter eating note, today I communicate with you through my Black Bean and Mango Salad or call it a salsa.  I made this with fresh jalapeno and cilantro from the garden — some of this year’s first spring bounty. And at only 53 calories per half cup, it’s pretty guilt-free, so enjoy!

Black Bean and Mango Salsa

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups chopped mango

1 cup diced sweet red pepper

1 jalapeno – seeded and chopped fine

½ cup diced red onion

¼ fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

¼ cup fresh lime juice

1 tbsp extra virgin oil oil

Coarsely ground salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mixing well.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Serve with pita chips.

If you have the time to make your own pita chips, they are well-worth the effort, especially when still warm from the oven.  Here’s my version – short and simple.

The Best Homemade Pita Chips

Whole wheat pitas

Coarse sea salt

Extra-virgin olive oil

Prepare baking pan by drizzling lightly with olive oil, using a pastry brush to spread evenly if necessary. Cut each pita in half and then into triangles, separating each triangle into 2 pieces. Place triangles on pan in a single layer.  Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Bake at 350 for 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Watch carefully as they can brown quickly.

Enjoy with Black Bean and Mango Salsa.

See you next time!!

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Earth Day and your life…

Hope everyone celebrated Earth Day in some way this weekend.  We should learn to make every day “Earth Day!”  Plant a tree, recycle, conserve water and energy, enjoy the outdoors by walking and bicycling instead of driving everywhere, grow  your own veggies and herbs.  There are so many ways to enjoy our Earth and make sure its resources are here for future generations.

Our community had several ways to celebrate.  See some of the ways we marked the weekend here.

I think the best way to demonstrate the beauty around us is in photos.  Take a look!

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More résumé tips

Before you send that résumé out, take some time to make sure it’s the best it can be. Here are some general tips:

  • Be sure to proofread. Have someone else proofread too. It is easy to skim over typos, punctuation errors or grammar mistakes when we review our own writing. Check it twice and then check it again. Errors may be perceived as an indicator of a lack of attention to details – often an important job skill.
  • Use action keywords. Here’s a list of Power Words.
  • Stress accomplishments using metrics to demonstrate success; for instance, if you increased sales from one year to the next, show the percentages:

 Increased sales from 2009 to 2011 by 30%

  •  Try incorporating a bar graph to further demonstrate these accomplishments

    Use a graphic to demonstrate your accomplishments

  • Be honest with details. The Dean of Admissions at MIT lost her position because she lied on her résumé. Don’t run that risk.
  • Make your areas of expertise stand out near the top of your résumé. Consider using a text box framed with shadow and color to really make a splash.  See the image to the right.
  • Put your finest assets on center stage. In other words, if your education is your strongest point, put it near the top; however, if you have years of applied experience, you should list your experience first and move your educational background to a lower position within the body of the résumé.
  • If you have limited experience and education, a one-page résumé is suitable, for instance in the case of a new graduate, but it is no longer the norm. We discussed this in my last post. Don’t be afraid to use two, or even three, pages to support the targeted positions and demonstrate your worth. Remember that today it’s about keywords. The more keywords you use in your résumé, the better your chance of being selected. So use the space you need to describe your skills and qualifications.
  • If you are using a professional résumé  writing service, request that you receive your final files in both Word (or rich text) and PDF formats.  And if you plan to submit your résumé via email, ask about a plain text (ASCII) file format too. Or you can convert it yourself from the Word (rich text) version. This plain format is often required at web-based job sites and is also recommended for embedding your résumé within the body of an email. More about plain text or ASCII format for your résumé next time.

If you have résumé questions, please leave me a comment.  I’d love to hear from you and what challenges you are facing!

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