Workin’ 9 to 5 (and remembering common courtesy when hiring)

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“Service, in short, is not what you do, but who you are. It is a way of living that you need to bring to everything you do, if you are to bring it to your customer interactions.”
~ Betsy Sanders

After hearing of so many bad experiences from folks I know, whether it be candidates or clients or just folks in my network, I am constantly reminded of how many organizations don’t realize that the way they treat their candidates (including NOT communicating) is a direct reflection on their organization. The world is small – treat everyone like a customer and you’ll be amazed at how much faster the hiring process will take.

Below is an infographic that speaks very much to this, including how companies represent themselves on social media.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we’ve got to do better.

Weekend in Pictures – The Bay Area Edition

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Fun fun fun getaway to the Bay Area this weekend where Dan’s family was visiting from Oz before they head down to Disneyland then Mexico for their grand holiday. We spent the first night in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland where we also met some friends for dinner, then headed into the city to do a bit of touristy stuff with the family before flying home last night. Nice mild weather – a great respite from the heat here in PDX – and really fun exploring a few new areas of the Bay that we either hadn’t been or where it’d been 20+ years.

Fantastic lunch to kick things off in Oakland at Bowl'd BBQ. I'm madly in love with Korean BBQ and their sizzling bowls were the best!

Fantastic lunch to kick things off in Oakland at Bowl’d BBQ on Telegraph in the Temescal neighborhood. I’m madly in love with Korean BBQ and their sizzling bowls were the best!

Awesome art on the street in Temescal. Cool little neighborhood without a ton of attitude, we liked :)

Awesome art on the street in Temescal. Cool little neighborhood without a ton of attitude and still great diversity, we dig :)

Great street art making the husband a bit sentimental for his hometown :)

Great street art making the husband a bit sentimental about his hometown…I’ll do a separate post focused just on the art we saw…

Seriously great breakfast at Aunt Mary's - succotash with bacon? SO good.

Seriously great breakfast at Aunt Mary’s – succotash with bacon? SO good.

Thoroughly unimpressed with the tiny room at the Sir Frances Drake..but the bed was damn comfy, I gotta say. Overpriced though and Union Square we learned is a tourist trap, ugh!

Thoroughly unimpressed with the tiny room at the Sir Frances Drake..but the bed was damn comfy, I gotta say. Overpriced hotel and a tourist trap, ugh! We learned our lesson!

Ladies playing cards in the park in Chinatown - love :)

Awesome old ladies playing cards in the park in Chinatown – love :)

Hanging out Saturday and Sunday with Dan's sister and her family. So fun to see them!!

Hanging out with Dan’s sister and her family. So fun to see them!!

Great dim sum lunch in Chinatown - even got them to try some of the more unusual offerings!

Enjoyed a great dim sum lunch in Chinatown – even got our niece Charlotte to try some of the more unusual offerings!

Chicken claws, mmm!!

Chicken claws, mmm!!

Stopped by City Lights Bookstore. It's cool, but it's not Powell's :)

Stopped by City Lights Bookstore. It’s cool, but it’s not Powell’s :)

speaking of city lights..

and speaking of city lights…

Golden Gate Park

Great hike around Golden Gate Park - climbed up Strawberry Hill with Charlotte for this nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge that she snapped for me :)

Dan & Charlotte causing trouble :)

Dan & Charlotte causing trouble :)

Lovely flowers along the path at GG Park.

Lovely flowers along the path at GG Park.

Phenomenal breakfast at Brenda's French Soul Food in the Tenderloin. Worth the walk for those beignets alone, not to mention the molasses ham and the pork belly & egg on grits!

Phenomenal breakfast at Brenda’s French Soul Food in the Tenderloin District. Worth the walk from our hotel outside of the tourist trap that is Union Square for those beignets alone, not to mention the molasses ham and the pork belly & egg on grits, and the great service! I’d fly back for this place alone!



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I think the term "giant" for this sunflower is an understatement, don't you? Dang!!

I think the term “giant” for this sunflower is an understatement, don’t you? Dang!

Wow. 100 degrees then down to 75 degrees. Most grateful for the cooling down as this gal does NOT do well when the house is 85 degrees.  Thrilled though at the remarkably early harvest here in Oregon – all of our tomatoes will be harvested by month’s end, amazing!!!  Needless to say marinara is being canned like crazy, and another batch of salsa is coming soon as well, woo hoo!!

Here’s what else is on my mind this week…

* Holy cow this lemon verbena butter recipe rocks!!  Our verbena plant was going nuts so I cut a bunch off and stuck it in a bowl, thinking “I’ll figure it out later” and happened to find this recipe just in time to put a batch together – SOOOO delish! And hey, gotta love Earth Balance’s Soy Free Sticks for the dairy free gal like me to use when making it too.

* Doing a little homework for 2015, I got a used copy of The Complete Organic Pregnancy on my most favorite book site, Paperback Swap, and can’t wait to start note-taking, heeheehee(yes, those who know my planner tendencies may giggle). Hey, we know when we do bring the little one in so much will change, so this year Dan & I are working hard to get a lot of projects so that things are a bit more turnkey in the garden when everything else will be so brand new and nutty :)

* Dude, the bike handle. So rad, and agree totally – why doesn’t every bicycle have this built in?!!!

* Contemplating if I want to continue to keep Amazon in consideration when I self publish my book after reading about what’s going on there, including this article.

* Heh. A great infographic explaining to us noobs about the reproductive cycle of the chicken.

* And finally, for those of you on Twitter, please consider following #Ferguson and show your support to those who need it in a town where the police have, as in many towns, failed to serve its citizens. There must be change.

“Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught.  I have a two-year-old son.  You know what he hates?  Naps!  End of list.”
~Dennis Leary

Summertime Cooler: Veganizing the Mango Lassi

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Avoiding dairy for over a year now, it’s always a pain in the arse in the summer when you want to have a cool creamy treat on the hottest of days. Yes there’s the fake ice cream, but what if you want to be a bit healthier? I was totally psyched to find and adapt a recipe for a Mango Lassi that is 100% vegan and oh-my-gawd delicious…

1/4 cup non-dairy yogurt (we tried Silk’s almond milk yogurt which was great)

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (again I’m all about the almond milk, but soy & coconut will do as well)

3/4 tsp organic vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped mango, frozen (but if you’re using a smoothie maker? let it thaw a bit or it’ll get stuck)

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Many recipes out there recommend agave but I think the mango is plenty sweet enough on its own!

Recommendation – if it’s 100 degrees? Double the recipe !

Workin’ 9 to 5 (and how Betsy changed careers)

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This is my fifth profile of individuals who have changed to a different line of work, in hopes to inspire others who are contemplating a change in their own professional lives.  Check out my prior interviews featuring Abby, Rita, Jen and Rebecca).

As many of us know, when you leave a profession to try something different in your career, it’s often hard to find a road back many years later. Technologies change, people move on, and companies aren’t always open to hiring those who have gaps in their relevant history. Betsy proves that you can return and rock that return! She started out in training development, then moved to construction for eight years, and after a lot of hard work, found her way back to the field, this time focusing on e-Learning and instructional design.  Here’s what she had to say…

What do you do for a living these days?

These days I’m a contract-based eLearning Developer with an organization working with schools, districts, and communities across the country on comprehensive, research-based solutions to the challenges they face.

What career were you in before this?

I have a background in technical training; however, I had spent the past 8 years as the managing owner of a remodeling company that specializes in vintage homes. Additionally, I have a lengthy work history in film & video industry.

What inspired you to make this transition?

I always wanted to return to learning development, and was sparked by the new tools and technologies available to create meaningful learning experiences that matter.

What were your biggest challenges in changing careers?

The biggest challenge I faced was how to package my wide skillset into a concise, marketable format. Beyond that, I hadn’t written a resume or participated in the interview process for years, and needed to expand my network in the direction I envisioned for my career.

What advice can you share with others thinking about moving into a new line of work?

Follow your heart and go for it! Take time to look at what skills you have to offer, and hire a coach to help you get started on the right foot. Also, build up a solid LinkedIn profile and don’t be shy about asking for recommendations. Attend networking events and schedule brief informational interviews with a range of people. You never know when you’ll connect with the right person at the right time!

Weekend in Pictures

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Hiking the quiet trails along the railroad track adjacent to Cathedral Park and catching this view of the St John's Bridge. Lovely! Hubby & I are doing a "city hike a week" and diggin' it!

Hiking the trails near the railroad tracks by Cathedral Park in North Portland and caught this view of the St John’s Bridge. Lovely! Hubby & I are doing a “city hike a week” and are diggin’ it!

This is part of Dan's celebratory jig shortly after finding out his employment authorization card is being printed & mailed!

Dan’s celebratory jig shortly after finding out his employment authorization card is being printed & mailed! Wheee!

Beauty in every way - congratulations to our friends Peter & Rebecca on their recent nuptials along the Oregon Coast! She sent me this snapshot which just gave me chills knowing their story and great love for each other. Can't wait to catch up with them next week when we're down in Oakland!

Beauty in every way – congratulations to our friends Peter & Rebecca on their recent nuptials along the Oregon Coast! She sent me this snapshot which just gave me chills knowing their story and great love for each other. Can’t wait to catch up with them next week when we’re down in Oakland!

the tree trunk obsession continues with us, this one at Cathedral Park.

the rad-tree-trunk-obsession continues, this one at Cathedral Park.

Vegan & Vegetarian goodness at Proper Eats - the tempeh bacon sammie was soooo tasty! (photo source)

Vegan & Vegetarian goodness at Proper Eats – the tempeh bacon sandwich was soooo tasty! (photo source)

Saturday's harvest from the garden (that greenery is lemon verbena I'm bound and determined to do something with!). Yumyumyum!!!

Saturday’s harvest from the garden (that greenery is lemon verbena I’m bound and determined to do something with!). Yumyumyum!!!

Hiked up Mount Tabor Park and on the way down got to show Dan the reservoirs where much of Portland's drinking water - best in the country - comes from.

Hiked up the hills of Mount Tabor Park and on the way down got to show Dan the reservoirs where much of Portland’s drinking water - best in the country – comes from. Pissed that the feds are forcing us to cover these up because of the quality of other cities’ water.

I made chicken with tangy peanut sauce on zucchini "noodles" - so perfect on a hot summer night!

I made chicken with tangy peanut sauce on zucchini noodles – perfect on summer nights!


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world's awesomest stockpot-sized canning "basket"

world’s awesomest stockpot-sized canning “basket” – the Ball Canning Discovery Kit is $10.25 and the basket alone is worth the ten bucks but it also includes 3 jars which is rad – and I promptly used for bread & butter pickles pictured here :)

Happy Friday y’all!! Couldn’t ask for more perfect weather in the Pacific Northwest this week with the weather in the low 80’s – just enough to “feel” summer without hating it, just enough to have your windows open but not have to close them in late afternoon, so the breeze stays all day long. Suh-weet!  And hey, we’re in an especially good mood here in the Levens household as the Mister just got notification that his work authorization card is being printed and mailed, so if interviews go well, hoping he’ll be a good ol’ working stiff by the fall!

Here are some nifty things I encountered this week, hope you like!

* Looking forward to planting daikon radishes for the first time later this month and dig the article about them –  any tips from experienced folk in this particular food whether it be in growing or recipes ?

* Dan & I are going to make a pie with a GF crust mix that we picked up – and I’m kind of entranced by the idea of doing something pretty with the crust rather than my usual mess. :) Check out 4 Beautiful Pie Crusts That Are Way Easier than Lattice for what’s inspiring me…

* Cool video featuring my fave blogger, Ashley English, introducing her book on homemade entertaining. If you haven’t perused her website, Small Measure, do it – now! Her blog, books, magazine articles, and overall awesome vibe inspire the heck out of me!

* Looking forward to the final stop on our honeymoon road trip picking up lots of pears and apples along the Hood River Fruit Loop. Chunky applesauce ran out months ago so it’s definitely top priority in the Levens home!

* Dig the solidarity of the world’s top PR companies refusing to do business with climate change deniers. It’s time more businesses use their power for good!

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
~e.e. cummings, 1955

Workin’ 9 to 5 (…and hitting the 2 year mark)

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This past week marked two years since I stepped into the abyss and went the way of the self-employed.

Holy crap! :-)

I admit, it’s a beautiful thing to not have to get up at a certain time (not that I wake up that much later, but I reserve the right to not get up at the crack of dawn to haul my ass on two wheels down the street or stumble to a bus stop only to sit in a place where I get half the amount of work done as I would at home). It is a beautiful thing not to be subject to sitting in useless meetings and it is a beautiful thing to not deal with daily office politics. I see it now from a different vantage point, and because of my role as a consultant, I say a quiet thank you to myself for not being in a corporate job.

Everyone has environments that work and don’t work for them. Some folks get a feeling of comfort and security working in an office, or enjoy the camaraderie that a company culture may provide. Others, like me, find their comfort and security and social needs in other areas of work and/or life.  I learned a long time ago that there’s no such thing as job security, and that the comfort I seek in life has nothing to do with a biweekly paycheck. As a recruiter and a career coach, I talk to people frequently enough and am in social situations enough where the quiet I get working in my home is something that keeps me much more sane than I would be when I had to be “on” 50-60-70 hours a week in the corporate world.

Not that I don’t go into bag lady mode in my mind a few times a year.

But twenty-four months later, I have built a business model that I am proud of, and I have learned more than I ever thought possible about who I am as an entrepreneur AND as a human being. I have brought sense and sensibility to organizations that needed it in attracting and hiring the right people, and as a coach I have helped over 100 people !)  get closer to where they want to be in their careers.

And being able to manage my own schedule? Priceless. I’ve been able to take classes, volunteer regularly, travel, and of course, blog :) I’ve been reminded that – unlike what many wanted me to think in the startup world – there IS a balance.  I don’t have to lean in. While I’ve had this blog going since 2008, now when I write, it’s returned to something I don’t have to do at one in the morning after I’ve finally shut down my computer from work.

The other good fortune has been financial.  Yes, I admit it, it’s been cool. While I could have made more (many have tried to advise me on how I should and can make much, much more), I made enough to pay off my student loans, pay off my home equity loan, save enough for six months’ worth of savings, put a new roof on my house, afford several trips to see my (now) husband when he was still in Australia, and support the work of organizations that are close to my heart. I am truly grateful, and want to pay it forward.

Rather than buy fancy things, my entire priority has become to find ways to live more simply.  We still don’t own a car and don’t buy clothes more than once or twice a year. We have nearly doubled the size of the garden and next year are planning the next big chapter with my husband – yep, THAT chapter that turns two into three – in a way that is simple, thoughtful, and like in our own lives, doing it the way we feel is most healthy and happy and simple.

All of this leads me to some moments of clarity that have arisen about what’s important to me these days, at this ceremonial passage of time in my current profession…

  • I adore my candidates and clients! Even the ones I don’t understand and even the ones that make me a little crazy and even the ones who don’t follow my advice. I love listening to their stories. I love helping them get either to where they want or at least a heck of a lot closer. I love it when I have a candidate realize that I’m not selling the snake oil, but rather genuinely give a shit about what they want, not just what the client wants. A truly good hire is a partnership between employee and employer, and I love it when the client and candidate both see this clearly.
  • I find myself losing interest in the part of my career that doesn’t directly AND positively impact the world at large. Two years taking the capitalist approach, as I have affectionately termed it, has taken some of the wind out of my ambitious nature. Sure, giving 2% of my monthly income to local nonprofits feels good (July’s went to a women’s shelter here in Portland), and volunteering makes me feel groovy, but the distance seems to be broadening as I get older, reminding me that there’s nothing like hands-on work to bring the most value. It’s why the coaching side of my work never ceases to intrigue me – helping folks articulate their story, empower them to grab the reins and more succinctly and effectively reach their goals, and connect them to people they may never have met before. Recruiting? Finding that person, that match, is what makes me happy. I do enjoy helping others, but I wonder if the work I do makes much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.  And with that, it means I’m thinking that my third year might be evolving in a new direction.
  • If I don’t write, I am not happy. Some folks write to supplement their business. Some folks write creatively, as an outlet for their artistic side. For me, if I’ve not put some type of pen to paper or typed a few hundred words by the end of the day, I feel incomplete.  Writing can be hard work, but I know when I’ve gone into the zone and pushed myself to put together a piece that really exposes who I am and what’s important for me to share? I breathe easier. I live to write and write to live.

So with that, what does this mean? I’m still formulating it in my head, but one thing I have determined is that my first book that I’ve been playing around with on my laptop, in notebooks, and obsessing about night and day for almost a year? It’s been decided. For real.

My first project is a series that encapsulates my experiences as a recruiting consultant, career coach and writer, designed to support and empower job seekers, recruiters, and hiring teams out there. After being in this field for sixteen years, it’s time to pay it forward. So many people have taught me so much and so many have inspired me as I continue to grow and learn and contribute, that this book will be my way of taking the next step in my career in a way that benefits these individuals directly and wholeheartedly.

That’s the thing – there’s no more time for contemplating. There’s no more time for dreaming about someday. There’s only today. It’s time to be great. It’s time to take my own advice. It’s time to jump.

(here I go!)


Slow Living Essentials – July 2014


The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
~Wallace Stevens

So glad to see the return of Slow Living Essentials, and sharing some of my July (not to mention reading the many other awesome blog posts on new-host-extraordinnaire Greenhaven!)…



We are finishing off our 2013 salmon share from Iliamna Fish Co. and with the summer’s heat AND harvesting kicking off earlier than usual, we marinate the whole filet in rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic, then pop it on the grill in the backyard, then serve it with some pearl couscous on a bed of fresh spinach and (my favorite) yellow cherry tomatoes.  Yummers!  The nice thing about this summer as a married gal now? Husband cooks at least half the time, woo hoo!



Jam, salsa, kimchi, pickles, and sweet relish so far have been canned, and we froze raspberries and blueberries from our picking out on Sauvie Island. While I enjoy canned peaches, this year I decided to pass on the process as I just don’t eat enough to miss them when they’re gone…and I was kind of dreading the process of skinning them with the boiling water (I always over-or-under do it and that mixed with lots of sweating? I think I’ll survive without it for one year!). Anyhow, the peppers and tomatoes are reminding me that I’ll have plenty of work soon!

Using my new makeshift “canning station” (pictured above) is awesome! Until I get an outdoor kitchen with regular burners (bucket list!), I’ve found this is MUCH better than doing it in the kitchen. I’ve had to transition from the traditional giant pot with rack to using a stockpot, and with that came finding a new rack solution. First, I tried the rag at the bottom – but it moves around in boiling water a lot, making it an adventure in placing the jars on it. Second, I tried the canning rings all-tied-together – but it is both unstable for smaller jars to balance on and moves around. So now, I’m moving to the Ball polypropylene rack which fits into stockpots. I’ll return to the big fella someday to make the process quicker, but this works for now.



Our big project around the house this month was in fixing up our downstairs bedroom. Formerly the room I used to use as a short term rental, it’s going to be our kiddo’s room when we start our family next year, so we thought, might as well work on this when we have both the energy and time rather than mid-pregnancy :)  The grass-green walls (zero-VOC Rodda Horizon paint) were Dan’s idea, the dresser was found on the street a couple of years ago which I’d painted (then Dan repaired the broken drawer, which was probably why it’d been dumped), and the new Mad Mats rug we picked up at Garden Fever - it’s made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, is soft underfoot, is perfect for a basement since it won’t pick up moisture, and it picks up the green in the walls without being obnoxious :)

Lesson learned: Never take your paint to Home Depot to match another brand’s color even if they say they have that code in the computer – we learned the hard way when we tried to get a better deal using their no-VOC brand when we ran out and it looked like pee on the walls (thankfully we didn’t have much to re-do!). :-)



Ah yeah, everything is coming up delish in the garden thus far. We’ve harvested most of our potatoes (this year we tried them in pots which initially was great but with the fella’s obsession with spuds, they will be back in regular beds next year) and all of the garlic, and are watching our tomatoes, corn, peppers, onions, pumpkins, cucumbers, herbs and more go bananas in the garden. Wheeee!  (These taters by the way went to make a super easy potato-peanut curry that the hubby loved!).



I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I want the upcoming years to look like, and with what I’ve been able to accomplish professionally that’s allowed a lot of simplification, I want to continue on that track. One thing that I am madly in love with, but that does put a significant dent in the wallet, is my yoga practice. While $7/class doesn’t seem like much, three to four times a week does add up each month, and so with that I talked to my husband and we’ve decided to reduce our yoga classes down to once a week, and replace those with walks out in nature and a yoga DVD I have at home. I  adore the camaraderie of my yoga classes that I’m in and my teachers are the awesomest gals ever, but for right now, I need to start to meditate at a cost that’s less to the wallet if I want to ensure I can live a simpler life in the coming years. For now, this is right for me. Above is a walk we took recently at Oaks Bottom in Southeast Portland, an area rescued decades ago by the city to prevent further commercial/industrial activity. Nice :)



I’m working on my book – from coffeehouses and pubs and my big comfy chair in the living room. Inspired by several women I’ve met recently who’ve kicked ass in this and other arenas, I’ve stopped the excuses and now set aside a full day a week for this, my first endeavor into being a bona fide book author. My pet writing project has been postponed to focus on a book that focuses on what I love most professionally – helping those in their careers. As a longtime recruiter and career coach, what I am passionate about is listening to others stories and doing everything I can to empower them to get what they want in their careers. Couldn’t be more thrilled to be knee-deep in this project!



This month left me a bit crazy busy on the work front, but I did continue to give 2% of my pre-tax income to local nonprofits, with July’s donation sent over to the good folks over at Rose Haven, a women’s shelter making a tremendous difference in the Portland community. As for my husband, he’s been busy volunteering with Port City Development’s Project Grow, part of Albertina Kerr, two days a week, and donating his time regularly in the kitchen at the Oregon Public House, the nonprofit pub in our neighborhood. He’s loving it, and it’s been a great chance for him to give back while awaiting his green card to complete processing!



Thoroughly enjoyed learning about book-mending from Pat the Library Goddess at PDX Skillshare! I’ve got a bunch of old books and my beloved Good Housekeeping cookbook that I’ve had since I was 19 years old that is falling apart, so I can’t wait to get some archival glue to work on those during the rainy season! My husband and I split to different classes at this event in order to maximize learning – so while I was at this, he was learning about making yogurt (now he’s gone dairy-free, so bummer for him!).



Happiness is all around us this summer. Two and a half months of wedded bliss. “Love is lovelier the second time around” as was once sung and I believe that wholeheartedly. Nothing like having your best friend by your side. Being forty rocks!

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald