Irish Sheep

I always just liked my photography the way it was. Not the fact that it was simple and mostly luck, but I might have felt it was cheating to alter it in any way. That being said, I had a Groupon for a large canvas that I needed to order and I need a nice piece for my new home office. I played around with an image I found that just felt so calming to me. It is of sheep.

This picture was captured while my husband drove us from the tip of Northern Ireland to Dublin, at the very end of our last trip there. We were desperately trying to beat the huge snow storm we had dodged our entire trip and this was taken just before we lost our luck at outrunning it. There is something calming about sheep; except the sheep that have the red blotches; this just seems morbid to me. I can deal with splotches of green or blue on their coats for farmer identification, but the first few times I saw splotches of red on a sheep my first reaction was
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What Did New Jersey Do to You?

I was technically born in Philadelphia, but raised right over the bridge in New Jersey.  Despite popular belief, it is not the armpit of the country, it does not smell bad (outside of Newark) and there is a ton to offer, other than fodder for late night TV hosts.

Why does everyone hate Jersey?  What have we ever done to you?

There are some things that need to be cleared up.

  1. The Jersey Shore crew, yeah, they aren’t from Jersey.  They are from New York.  Don’t judge us on their characters.  Even the shore doesn’t want them there.  They did nothing but ruin our already ridiculed image and waste our tax dollars.
  2. New Jersey is the Garden State.  There is an abundance of agriculture and farming.  Though it is the most densely populated state, there is an array of pinelands, beautiful coastline, mountains, creeks, rivers and farms that add to the beautiful landscape.  As a matter of fact, bordering states know us for our delicious Jersey corn and tomatoes, and Ocean Spray uses our local cranberry bog farmers for their juice.
  3. North Jersey and South Jersey people have nothing in common.  This is a tried and true fact.  Though the state is only 170 long by 70 miles wide, South Jersey has no common traits or loyalties to North Jersey and vice versa.  They were originally two separate territories between 1674 and 1702 and they should have stayed that way.  South Jersey supports Philadelphia sports and clean air.  North Jersey houses New York fans and commuters.  I’m not sure if you’ve noticed that I’m partial.
  4. Don’t ask me who supports New Jersey major sports teams; I don’t know anyone who knows the answer to that.  There has to be somebody, I just have yet to find them.
  5. New York loves to make fun of us, yet they fail to recognize that Manhattan would not function without the assistance of New Jersey public agencies and our workforce.  Also, your beloved Giants play in Jersey, don’t forget it.
  6. Entertainment trends seem to define us.  We are also not all mobsters.  I won’t deny that they exist, but I also won’t admit to it.  I don’t want cement shoes.
  7. I realize I just said entertainment seems to define us, and I do somewhat resent that, but our state pumps out some of the greats to be proud of anyway; and many more.  They are in no particular order, but we’ll let the Boss believe otherwise.
  8. We love our diners.  We have the most in the world – how can you not love that you can’t get five miles without stumbling upon a place to chow down on an omelet at 3am?
  9. Thomas Edison did a lot of inventing here, while Atlantic City revolutionized gambling and leisure.  Light bulbs and slot machines are still important to our culture; I think you’ve heard of them.
  10. You can make fun of us all you want, but we’ve got hundreds of pluses and 8,821,155 people who tell you that you’re crazy not to appreciate our history and what we have to offer.  No, I don’t work for New Jersey, but if you visit, maybe you can drive my taxes down with tourism profits.

What Is Fair Trade USA?

I encourage you to take a moment to take a look at http://sprawlingroots.com/ and http://sprawlingroots.wordpress.com .  They are a reputable “green” non-profit with big ideas that I stand by and write for.  This particular blog will be appearing on their website this week. Thank you for your support.

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I see the Fair Trade icon on my bag of coffee, cotton tote tag and on many organic food labels but what do Fair Trade standards actually encompass?

Fair Trade stamped items do a number of positive and noteworthy things for people and the environment. Using strict standards, the Fair Trade stamp of approval is issued to approved companies that exhibit “socially and environmental responsibility”.

The Mission Statement from Fair Trade USA is as follows:

  • Fair Trade USA enables sustainable development and community empowerment by cultivating a more equitable global trade model that benefits farmers, workers, consumers, industry and the earth. We achieve our mission by certifying and promoting Fair Trade products

Companies that earn the stamp of approval must adhere to the following basic standards:

  • Fair prices
  • No GMO’s
  • No hazardous chemicals
  • No child labor

As green and responsible consumers, it’s our duty to consider these choices, for the good of the economy, the environment and even for ourselves. GMO’s and unnatural chemicals wreak havoc on our bodies, causing altered hormones and a build-up of free radicals. Chemicals are detrimental to the environment, penetrating solid earth and seeping into the water supply. Without regulation or elimination of these toxins, contaminated earth will continue to produce unsafe products for consumption for years to come.

I don’t think I need to explain why eliminating child labor is important. In conjunction, Fair Trade USA encourages children to continue their education while also educating adults on how to successfully operate a sustainable business, while growing financially and environmentally aware. Small and underprivileged farms are paired with corporations to ensure safe and socially respectable products, while forging business relationships that do a world of good for all involved.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit www.FairtradeUSA.org.