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Don’t Know How to Pick Fruits and Vegetables? Follow the Italian Lady

Don’t Know How to Pick Fruits and Vegetables? Follow the Italian Lady

Supermarkets haven’t destroyed farmers, although they have made their lives a lot harder. It’s not rare to see a weekend outdoor farmer’s market in the US, but in Italia, where I come from, they work every day.  Italy’s outdoor market, the popular mercati is what makes it great. That’s Italy.

Imagine stalls and booths with Italian men and women behind them, selling basically everything—from five different varieties of tomatoes to prosciutto and other various types of deli meat, fresh baked bread with olives, butchered lamb meat, fish and wine: wines from the local region, homemade, tasty, rich in flavor.

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Italians don’t go to the local outdoor food market just to fill out their fridge; they go to fill out their senses with sound and smell. You pass by a stall that sells fresh smoked cheese with basil, you can hear the wine being poured, you can smell the fresh bread and it will stimulate your appetite. Passing by the flowers you remember the games you used to play when you were a kid in your garden, just before your mother called out for you to come inside because it’s dinner time.  “Come”, the old vendor says with its strong baritone voice, “try this prosciutto, you’ll love it”. And you do.

You can find everything there, from healthy food to clothing, shoes, souvenirs, flowers and cookware.  They are opened every day of the week, except for some Sundays.

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But, even if you live in Italy, not every product is of best quality, and that can be applied to the market places everywhere. There’s a great tip: follow the old lady. In Italia we call them nonne which basically means grandmother, but it can be applied to any old skillful lady. Italians are traditional and the roles in family are pretty much known in advance. Nonne have been cooking for their families for decades and they know which tomato is best for spaghetti, what meat goes in it and where to find it. They are, how should we say it, the best source of information as they have probably been patrons of the local mercati for those same decades.  That wisdom has been transferred through generations and when you spot one, and it’s easy to so because they carry a canvas bag designed to pile in as much excellent products as possible to carry home and cook for their loved ones, follow them and take notes. They will take you to the right guy.

If there isn’t one in sight, you can spot a quality vendor just by pure observation.  He is the guy behind a stall where people are waiting to be served.  This is how you spot a true fair one.  If there are up to five people waiting to be served, the product offered is a good one, and if there are more than five people in front of the booth, get in the line. Nonne know why.

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If you are wondering why I wrote this article, it is because I am an advocate of healthy, homemade food, and I want to create a desire in you for the food that exudes the perfect smell of flavor and taste. I have learned a lot from my nonna. Just add raw vegetables and fruit to your meal and you will achieve that. Italians cook pasta as basics and they just add in sauce, cheese, meat: the things they have in the fridge, and a lot of salad.

This is not a big diet change. It is just a way to healthier and tastier food.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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