Monday, October 31, 2011

Post-Grad Meals and Food Choices

Making meals post-grad is different. I mentioned on Twitter recently "I've been eating this hamburger, rice and veggie mix for my work lunch for a week and it's still not gone. Need to make smaller meals." For whatever reason, I call the noon meal dinner when I'm back in Minnesota and lunch here, and it's always supper unless I'm going out for dinner. When I lived in Kansas City and decided it was a good idea to make Hamburger Helper, I was eating the same meal for a week. Guess that's what happens when you live alone. In college when I cooked family sized meals, I'd cook for the boyfriend as well but when he's 10 hours away that clearly doesn't happen. 

Going out to eat for lunch at work doesn't tend to happen on a regular basis, because I'm cheap and I often don't mind cooking anyways, so I try to ensure that I have leftovers or something frozen to pop in the microwave at work. Most often it's leftovers, but I do usually keep something frozen on hand just in case I'm not able to have leftovers available. In college, I'd either go back to my apartment for lunch or I'd heat up something up in the microwave near the Crookston Student Association office. Lunch was never a set time.

Recent conversations have me thinking even more about why I eat what I do. I enjoy cooking and especially baking, and I cook a variety of things - including several meals I've found recently on Pinterest. Right now I'm looking for any and all meal suggestions including ground beef, as I have about 8 lbs of it sitting in my freezer from home. My breakfasts usually consist of something that goes in the toaster: bagels with cream cheese, english muffins with peanut butter and sometimes bananas, or homemade waffles that I make for supper and freeze for breakfasts. I'm trying to add fruit or yogurt to my breakfasts as well. Sweets are my absolute weakness and I love some good chocolate, particularly of the European variety like Milka. I try not to buy chocolate as often, but there's currently half a pan of amazing peanut butter bars that I made sitting in my fridge. Sweets are fine, but it would probably be better if I ate them in more moderation. 

As a recent college graduate, I still look for cheap food and I shop at the grocery store in the area known for being the cheapest. Though I like cheap food, I think farmer's markets are awesome and Madison has a particularly good one that I enjoy going to. I've been the farmer's market in every one of the major cities I've lived in; they're a lot of fun and a good way to pick up specialty items. I buy Organic Valley dairy products, which are decidedly not cheap at all, because it's the company my family's milk goes to. Coupons for Organic Valley help a lot to bring the cost to the level more reflective of the other groceries I buy.

If you're a recent college grad, or even just living on your own, how do shop for food? Was it an adjustment to go from the college cheap food lifestyle?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

World Dairy Expo: Where the Dairy Industry Meets

Last week was National 4-H Week, and I had been planning to write about last week about how much 4-H impacted me, but last week was also World Dairy Expo (WDE) which made for a very busy week and no time to write any posts.

This was only my second World Dairy Expo; the first being 5 years ago, as I wrote about earlier. My boyfriend's younger twin sisters attended the National Dairy Conference this year. When I moved to Madison, I told my Dad that he should use my move as an excuse to visit WDE for the first time so my parents made the trip to visit me and attend WDE.

World Dairy Expo is a huge event and it truly is "Where the dairy industry meets". It's where the best dairy show cattle are and where people learn of the newest innovations in the dairy industry. Though it's in Madison, dairy enthusiasts from over 80 countries attend the show.

I spend the majority of the show working in the BouMatic booth, but I also helped give milkhouse presentations to 4th grade school groups, attended industry meetings, and reconnected with many of my dairy industry friends. I learned a lot working in the booth as I got to know my coworkers better, including a few from Belgium and other countries, and met with many dairy farmers from across the world. It was particularly interesting to talk to the international visitors and learn about their operations.

The week served as a great reminder of how much I love and appreciate the dairy industry, and just how diverse and exciting the industry is. That diversity is clearly demonstrated by the vast number (810)  of exhibitors at WDE, with products ranging to organic cheese to water beds for cows and herd management software. Seeing the show cows walk across the colored shavings reminds me of the cows back at my family's farm that all have unique personalities and each Red and White Holstein reminds of my favorite cow of all time, Freckles.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Recognizing Positives

Friday night I attended a young adult gathering at a church I started going to nearby, part of a group called TnT - Twenties and Thirties. The last point during discussion was about figuring out what our gifts are, and there was agreement that  it's often a hard thing to do. It's often easier to recognize a positive in someone else than it is to recognize a positive in ourselves. One of the leaders of the group encouraged everyone to point out gifts in people when we see them.

I've had several instances where the group I was part of actively recognized positives. During a mission trip to the Crow Reservation in Montana, each participant had a bag taped along the wall of the church basement we stayed in for the week. Whenever someone did something good that we noticed, the person who noticed wrote down that positive and put it in the other person's bag. The positives ranged from something like mentioning how well the participant worked with kids that day to thanking them for helping with something with a positive attitude. At the end, everyone read the notes in their bags, which were sometimes anonymous and sometimes signed. Reading the notes I got on the mission trip made me happy and inspired me to keep doing whatever it was that others noticed.

Earlier I mentioned how yeah buddies were part of the community service trip I went on during spring break this year. At the end of the trip, everyone wrote a yeah buddy for each person on the bus. Some people wrote short notes, but others went in depth. I still have my bag with my yeah buddies from the end. At different 4-H events, we recognized positives by passing around paper with each person's name for others to write positives on, and by posting folded notes on a mirror.

Thinking back on these times reminded me of how important it is that we recognize the positives in our lives and in each other. Not only does it make the other person feel good, but it can inspire them to keep doing good. While constructive criticism is certainly necessary and helpful at times, it's important that we don't forget to point out positives as well.