Archive for January, 2013

Vinegar…The Liquid Superhero!

Vinegar...mmm

I read in our paper the other day that there were traces of anti-bacterial chemicals in our bay on Lake Superior.  As terrible as this is, I’m just not ready to jettison all of my cleaning products.  I like to know that my house is clean and sanitized.  So, like any other curious person, I hopped online to do some poking around.  A while back I wrote an article about conquering my fear of cooking with vinegar; but I had no idea that it is a multitasking miracle solution!

You may be thinking I’m crazy at this point; and you may be right!  But I’ve been using it in my laundry to whiten whites for a while now and it works fantastic.  So I know I’m ready to make the most of this natural wonder.  Need some ideas?  How about:

  • Deodorizing and unclogging drains
  • Preventing and eliminating mildew
  • Deodorizing your garbage disposal
  • Clean your coffee pot
  • Clean your dishwasher
  • Bathe your fresh produce to remove chemicals
  • Clean sinks and tubs
  • Whiten grout
  • “Set” colors on new clothes to prevent fading or bleeding
  • Remove and prevent water stains in toilets
  • Remove build-up and shine bathroom fixtures
  • Keep animals out of your garden
  • Get rid of weeds

These are just a few of the 100+ ways that you can use vinegar instead of chemicals.  Do some surfing online (I recommend Reader’s Digest) and you will be absolutely amazed at what you’ll find.  And by all means, don’t fear the vinegar, it’s a liquid superhero!

 

Too Much Food!

Chard

The other day I read an article on TreeHugger.com about food waste in the United States.    I don’t remember the exact details, but about 40% of all food in our country is wasted every year.  My first thought was, “No way!  That’s far too much!”  But then I really thought about it.  If you’ve ever worked in foodservice, you know how much waste is scraped into the garbage.  And that doesn’t even take into account the ingredients that are wasted in preparation or thrown out because they’re imperfect.

So what can we do?  Well I have a couple of ideas.  First, I’m not saying stop eating out, but prepare to eat at home more and do it thoughtfully.  What do I mean by this?  Take a few minutes each week to plan your meals.  They don’t have to be big or elaborate, and you can still eat out, but for the meals you’re anticipating eating at home, have a plan.  Once you have your menus set, do some inventory in the kitchen and pantry and make a list to shop.  At the store, stick to your list and skip the extras.

Next, if you find yourself with leftovers, use them up!  Take them for lunch the next day, supplement them with a salad for your dinner, or freeze them.  In our house we have a bag-sealing machine that is a life saver.  If we have a lot of extra food, we make it into meal-size pouches for those times when you need to grab something quick out of the freezer to microwave.  They’re just as convenient as store-bought frozen meals and definitely taste better.

I had a goal to eat more vegetables this year, which sometimes leaves us with fresh stuff we need to use up.  It can be done with a small amount of creativity.  I surfed around and found some different recipes for vegetable cutlets.  This sounded awesome to me, as a flexitarian, and I figured it would be a good side dish for the carnivores in the house.  I was able to use up a bunch of peas, corn, onion, potatoes, and carrots.  And if there would have been excess cutlets, they would freeze great.  Not that there were enough left for that!

Lastly, if you are in the food and beverage industry, look at what you’re serving.  Use ample portions, but not too much.  If you have extra food, look into donating it to a food shelf or community kitchen that can use it up.  If you still have food waste to dispose of, find out if your community has a food disposal program.  Keeping this waste out of our landfills will greatly reduce excess gases from being released into the environment.  And that good news is definitely easy to swallow!

Reach Out and Touch ’em All!

Roxanne Wilmes and Norm Coleman Duluth, MN

Roxanne Wilmes and U.S. Senator Norm Coleman in Duluth, MN

Do you give much thought to politics after the election hoopla has passed?  If you’re like most people the answer is probably no.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  But sometimes there are causes or events that you want to bring forward and get them attention.  At Wilmes Hospitality we are pretty involved in Minnesota politics.  We have sat in on sessions, testified, and even managed a campaign.  Next month we will attend Hospitality Days at the Capitol in St. Paul, something we truly look forward to doing each year. 

There are a number of issues that are meaningful to our company and our Fresh Air Lodging® program.  But we also want to make our opinions known on issues that pertain to lodging and business in general.  The one-on-one time we get to spend with our state’s leaders is great, and they are an especially captive audience that day. 

If you have issues that you’d like to discuss with your local, state, or even national elected officials, here are my top five methods: 

1.       Email.  It doesn’t take much to figure out your legislator’s email address.  Even if he/she only glances at it, chances are it will be read more closely by a staffer and handled appropriately.

2.      Phone.  Office numbers are usually listed online as well.  Sometimes you can even get these in a special section of your phone book; if you still have one of those lying around!

3.      In person.  In Minnesota we have certain days for residents of a city to visit, for example Duluth Days at the Capitol.  If your state doesn’t do that, make an appointment and go on your own.

4.      Letter to the Editor.  This may seem like a rather indirect way to get your point across to a legislator, but believe me, they are made aware of letters in which they are mentioned.

5.      Comment on their website.  A quick Google search will most likely return a website just for your particular person of interest.  Sign in and comment.  Just be prepared for others to respond.

Where to start?  Find your cause, and your officials, and take the first step.  Try www.usa.gov.  You’ll most likely find everything you need at this site.  You don’t have to be a political junkie like me, but it’s easy to get hooked!  Good luck!

Just One Thing

BWCA Web PicnikedWhether you are one or you know one, multitaskers are all around us.  I’m not just talking about soccer moms driving the carpool while talking on a phone.  Think about how multitasking has taken hold in the workplace.  When was the last time you sat in your office/cube/workable space and did just one thing?

I confess, I am a HUGE multitasker.  In fact, I can’t even ride in the car without doing something else.  If I am not the driver, you’ll most likely see me with a tablet, phone, or creative item in my hands.  I can’t help it; I do not sit still very well.  I have a bad habit of working at all hours of the day and night. Because of the work I do, it’s easy to pop onto a computer for a short burst of productivity and then back to whatever I was doing.  This got me wondering…what if I focused on just one thing?

For the past two days I have made a solid effort at reining-in my need to do more than one thing at a time.  I thought about one of my goals for the year (to get my office and papers organized) and actually sat down with binders, dividers, and a three-hole punch.  I have to admit, it felt good once it was done.  I had a sense of accomplishment and my papers were neatly accessible.  Maybe I was on to something.

Then I started looking at our green certification program.  In this new-found approach of unitasking, I focused on what would keep someone from becoming more socially responsible.  Of course, it would probably be the feeling of being completely overwhelmed; the incorrect assumption that a business would have to jump into a myriad of new and scary practices.   Most people think to be green you have to make a bunch of expensive changes, renovate your facility and increase your staff.  This is definitely not the case!

If you, your family, or your business has a goal this year to be more socially responsible, my adv ice is to be a unitasker.  There are many things that you can do, and you don’t have to do them all at once.  Here is a list of some options that we have compiled.  There is a cost associated with some capital improvements, but many of the items require little or no investment.  Once you have selected a few options, make a list prioritizing them and really focus on them one at a time, working to create your new culture of social responsibility.  I have a favorite saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got”.  That’s a long-winded way of saying change is our friend.  And in this case, it’s okay to do one thing at a time.