Automating Your Garden? A Handy Tool

I’m a pretty serious geek.  Always have been and always will.  I enjoy small obsessions over tiny things and one of those pursuits has long been about household and lifestyle automation.  Making the machines work for us; not us for them.

I’ve been using a tool call IFTTT for a few years.  It stands for:

IF This Then That

You can use it to do cool thins like:

If I arrive at my House, Then turn my cellphone to silent


If I change my picture on Facebook , Then update my Twitter picture.

It’s not rocket science but it’s awfully neat.

I’ve noticed that they’ve added a bunch of automation task for gardeners.  Things like:

  • Send me a text message when it’s going to freeze overnight
  • Alert my phone when my plants need watering
  • Send me an email to remind me to water the plants.

Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool.  And thought you might want to check it out too.

What are Hashtags and How to use them for Foodies

People make this topic overly complicated or are intimidated by it.  Today we hope to simply the topic and answer:

What the heck is a

What are Hashtags and How to use them for Foodies

And why should you care, as a foodie, that FaceBook now has them (as do Twitter and Instagram)?  Keep reading to find out why I’m so excited… [Read more...]

WellPreserved: 1,500 Consecutive Days of Posting… ends?

On December 28, 2008 I slept in.  Our family had left for the holidays the evening before and it was time to be lazy.  Dana woke up 2.5 hours earlier than me that day.  She came up with the idea and then launched WellPreserved while I slept.

And our lives changed forever.

WellPreserved: 1,500 Consecutive Days of Posting... ends? milestones February

Photo Courtesy of Edward Pond

Dana and I are planners.  We’re thinkers.  We are probably even procrastinators.  But that morning she decided to launch a blog.  We had never spoken about it, never planned it.  I went to sleep without one and by the time I woke up I was a blogger (I had previously ‘ranted’ online in the mid-1990′s but that’s another story for another day).

We have posted every day since that day.  1,500 consecutive days of posting.  If one was to start the same streak today they would arrive at day 1,500 on March 15, 2017. [Read more...]

A Great (Free) Resource for Tablet Users Interested in Food

I may just be the last person in the world to figure this out but, in case I’m not, I thought I’d risk sharing this awesome tip.

Dana and I both have iPads for work although we find ourselves using them for just about everything.  I’ll admit that when I first saw one I expected it to be pretty useless but I’ve absolutely fallen bonkers for my tablet.  And I’ve just found an awesome food-related accessory for it:

A Great (Free) Resource for Tablet Users Interested in Food

[Read more...]

Why I Use Instagram as a Food Lover (and what it is)

Instagram is a social network for the iPhone that allows people to share photos.  There’s a bit more to it than that (you can follow people, they can follow you, there’s a set of filters that allow you to edit your photos and you can use other software to contribute to it and a bit more) but the general concept is that you can share photos with other people from around the world.

Think of it like a visual-Twitter-lite.

For those of you who don’t use much social networking, we’re not going to get technical here.  Here’s 3 reasons why I like to use Instagram as it relates to food:

1. It’s fun to see what’s seasonal – anywhere in the world.

Instagram is the first large-scale social media platform that relies on visuals.  Since words aren’t needed, you can bounce from picture to picture to see different food from around the world.  The pictures are sorted by most recently uploaded (with minimal exception) so the moment that you figure out that “pomodoro” is tomato in Italian, you can travel there (the picture below is our CSA box from the weekend but if you’re from somewhere else you just travelled here).

Why I Use Instagram as a Food Lover (and what it is) February

2. Once you find a place – you can search by location.

The picture above shows my food box from the weekend – just under “WellPresered” in the top left it has our location at that time (Le Papillon  on the Park).  By clicking it you can see photos that others took there and tagged it.  This means that I can search photos of food at a restaurant before entering it and trying it for myself.

Why I Use Instagram as a Food Lover (and what it is) February

3. Cooking Inspiration

By searching for terms like “dinner” I can see photos that people have tagged “dinner.”  It’s not exactly earth changing until you combine this feature with the knowledge that it sorts by time.  Searching dinner at 5:00AM est will show dinner from halfway around the world – and give all sorts of ideas to my and my kitchen.

I suppose the biggest reason is that it’s simply fun.

Are you on Instagram?  If so, add us over there – we’re welpreserved.  How do you use it or what do you use it for?

UNTAPPD – Beer and Social Networking Combine

I was going to publish this earlier this morning but somehow the idea of sharing a review of an application which is based solely around the consumption of beer seemed like a difficult thing to digest for breakfast (well, at least it did this morning!).

Before we share what “UNTAPPD” is, let’s start by sharing what it’s not – namely, it is not a contest, competition or any sort of tool to glorify the mass consumption of beer.  I’m sure that some could see it that way – just as others could see a bar as providing a similar opportunity. 

What UNTAPPD is, in my estimation and use, is a tool where friends can use their mobile phone to log and share what beer they are drinking.  Beyond simply sharing WHAT one is drinking, the application allows each to form their independent ranking, add a photo and share the location of where they’ve found it.  The location is of particular use to me since our City (and Province) can be very limited in its selection of beer and seeing what’s around town is a great resource to help learn where to find interesting beer.

UNTAPPD works similar to Twitter (or a very, very light version of Facebook).  You add people, they add you and you see each others activities.  The two screenshots below share the welcome screen (on the left) and the list of recent beers I’ve consumed.  My friends can see my list which allows them to compare their rating, see where I drank it or ask me what I thought of it (typically over a beer at a different time – it’s always nice to leave something to talk about!)

UNTAPPD   Beer and Social Networking Combine January  UNTAPPD   Beer and Social Networking Combine January

You can also save a wish list of beer you’ve seen that you want to try – there’s nothing worse than hearing about something that sounds fantastic and then forgetting what it was and who told you!

The screen on the left shows suggested beers based on my recent picks and the one on the right shows me local beers that strangers are drinking near me (note the two locations below are both in Toronto but one is about 10-15 minutes from here and the other is about 30 minutes but it’s easy to flip through the entire city like this).  It gives me a chance to see what all of my friends may be missing across the city and is a neat way to find out-of-the-way-places that we wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Untappd also logs all of the beer I’ve had (I can easily access my own review of them) and lets me easily see what my friends are up to along the way.  The picture on the right shows the ‘badges’ (similar to Four Square) which are awarded for specific achievements (like consuming a certain number of beer from different countries or trying X number of different styles of beer over time). 

I use it on my iPhone (not sure if it’s available on other platforms).  It’s a great way to share my beer experiences with the beer fanatics in my life as well as learn about the things that are happening around me to learn where to find things I haven’t tried.

I’m also very excited about travelling with UNTAPPD.  I am certain it will help me find places I would never find on my own and open a world of tastes that just wouldn’t be possible without it.

Anyone else out here using it?  What do you think of it?

Help KickStart the Food Revolution

Jo-Anne posted a link on our site to a KicksStarter project that I thought was really cool – so I thought I`d share it and more!

What is KickStarter?  It`s an amazing initiative which helps people get their ideas for creative projects off the ground by giving them a platform to advertise their proposed idea and try to raise funds in a limited timeframe.  If the project raises the money it was looking for in the time it was looking for it, all of the funding goes to the project team and they can execute their project.  If the money isn`t raised, 100% of the pledges are returned.

In exchange for the support, project proposers often offer incentives (such as limited edition copies of the final project or other creative items in return for different levels of funding).  They of course also return general goodwill back to the contributors – and a feeling of community that`s just very neat.  I adore reading some of the clever incentives (that can`t be financial) that people come up with.

In order to raise capital, each KickStarter project has a homepage which details the project, samples some of the potential work, shares progress of the fundraising and details what the proposer is trying to do.  The work tends to be at a very high level as the site has an element of survival of the fittest – the projects which are the most compelling tend to raise to the top.

Here`s a sample of some of the projects that our readers may be interested in:

  • Butchery Instructional Web-Series from Farmstand Meatsmith.  Essentially this project is to fund a series of instructional videos on how-to butcher that would be available on their website.  They are almost 50% of their way to the $10,000 goal with 33 days to go.
  • Brickside Brewery, Copper Hill`s first Microbrewery.  There`s a little under 3 days left and they`ve passsed their goal of $20,000.  For $30 you could have bought a brick with your name on it at the brewery.
  • Armadillo Ale Works.  They crushed their target and raised $34,000 OVER A GOAL OF $30,000.  One person pledged $5,000 to get the right to name one of their brewing tanks, a party for 25 friends, separate dinner for 4, a home brewing session, and far more…
  • Cloud 9 Rooftop Farm in Philadelphia.  Almost 70% there with 24 days to go.  Help fund a rooftop farm in the urban heart of Philadelphia.
  • The Magical Meatball Tour. Kansas City, MO demanded meatballs on the go.  And they funded  this mobile kitchen which claims to be the freak show of meatballs on the go!

It`s inspiring to watch other people dream. :)  Thanks for sharing Jo-Anne!

What would you open with a KickStart of your own?

WellPreserved Joins FourSquare…and Why you might care (or not)

For those of you who are unaware of what FourSquare is – it’s a simple application for a SmartPhone that uses your location services (GPS) and allows you to “check  in” to places your phone recognizes you are near.  You have to be physically near that place in order to check in.  The application has a gaming element where users can collect badges and ‘points’ that amount to bragging rights and fun competition.  Like Facebook and Twitter it also allows you to connect with friends, see who’s nearby and follow other people (without being their friend).  There are a few other features, described below (or you can visit their FAQ page for more information).

Dana has been on and off FourSquare for some time.  With the arrival of my new SmartPhone (after decades of gladly hiding in the cellphone dark ages), I have decided to jump into the fray at full speed and see what happens.

We used the tool on our first trip together to New York last year.  It was especially handy in re-finding places we had stumbled upon earlier in the week and since forgotten where to find.  It was also handy to learn of places nearby that we weren’t aware of.

Celebrity (and ‘real’) Chef Mario Batali started using FourSquare in February.  His use garnered a lot of attention amongst the food circles.  His use of “Tips” (a feature of the program that allows users to leave notes about specific places – such as what to eat, drink or otherwise) left a virtual wake across the city as followers tried his favorite dish at a New York Taqueria and left tips at other accessible food spots around the City.

Logging into FourSquare I found that there were thousands of people doing the same.  Tips on places I’ve never been to, tips on places I have been to (and sometimes the tips surprised) and easy ways to add it to my personal “to do” list.

Much like our Twitter account, I plan to primarily use this tool for food-based actions.  The easiest way to follow any food discoveries from FourSquare will be on Twitter (or on the sidebar to the right of this post if you don’t have an account) – I will only share relevant FourSquare check-ins publically through there (my actual account will likely have non-food related stuff as well).

For many of you not involved in this tool, this won’t effect you.  It won’t change this page or what appears on our Facebook group.  For others, it may be a way to discover new tips, new food, markets and the like.  We look forward to sharing and learning from those of you with a FourSquare account as well.

Technology is definitely changing the discoveries around food.  Some may argue (as I have previously) that this can kill the element of surprise and discovery but I don’t plan to live with my nose in the device.  I simply look forward to accelerating my learning about my city and the food and drink experiences around me that have remained elusive in more than 30 years of exploring.

Any tips from the veterans out there (in Toronto and otherwise)?

Seasons of Facebook… Social Networking, Local Food and Preserving

Contest update: our biggest contest ever will be announced tomorrow – we had originally planned for today but timing (that will be more obvious tomorrow) has been adjusted slightly.  Seasons of Facebook... Social Networking, Local Food and Preserving

The world is getting smaller by the minute.  Our involvement in Social media (through this site as well as through our work) has really shown how connected we’re all becoming and how easy it is to become connected with those from every far away.

Over the last little while I’ve been really enjoying a couple of ways to connect with people through Well Preserved and I thought I’d share them – perhaps you want to play along!

  • Friday afternoon recipe ideas.  Over the winter I’ve had a lot of fun occasionally asking Twitter for fantastic weekend meal ideas.  I ask around lunch time, log off and continue with my day.  I log back on to Twitter at the end of the day and review any suggestions.  It’s been awesome to see a list of recipes from around the world and try different things that I never would have tried otherwise (the highlight was Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Lasagna from SKlose).
  • It’s been a lot of fun to ask the Facebook group what everyone’s cooking.  We’ve had a tonne of different answers that have inspired our kitchen and It’s been neat to hear what’s going on in everyone’s kitchen and it’s a constant reminder that I have to learn so much more about cooking than I am actually comfortable admitting to myself. Seasons of Facebook... Social Networking, Local Food and Preserving
  • Search Engine Terms used to find us.  This one is hidden behind the scenes but it’s a great deal of fun seeing what people search to arrive at WellPreserved (we don’t know who typed what, simply see the terms that are used when people search us out).  It’s been very interesting to see the changing of the seasons through search terms – as Strawberries have hit the Southern US and Asparagus are creeping northward (they’re available in the lower half of the US right now), searches for those recipes increase.  Just as seeing the first leaves will be a sure sign of spring, these terms are a steady reminder of the connections we all share to so many far away places.

The real joy of the global community came from an innocent question on the Facebook group this weekend.  We asked “What’s cooking in your kitchen?”.  The answers included:

  • Cleaning out my freezer for this years fruits…
  • Just picked up flat of fresh picked strawberries…
  • We are in Autumn and the cold rain has finally come….

How cool is that?  The posts (in order) show Spring, Summer and Fall – all on the same day!

We’re all in very different ‘local’ zones though we share a common bond of harvest, food, sharing and preparing it.  It’s such a reminder of how close – yet how far we all are.

If you’re looking to get more involved in meeting and sharing ideas of local food globally, here’s a few places to start:

I love all of the organic sharing that’s happening in so many digital spaces ‘out’ here!

Happy Monday all!

Using Technology to Discover Food and Drink in New York City

I meant to share this a long time ago – a recent request from a friend reminded me of our New York City food map.

Before sharing the map, here’s a little background:

  • Dana and I were planning a trip to Manhattan and Brooklyn.   We had 8 days to explore the city and planned to walk, eat and drink.
  • Dana has an iPhone and we were planning to travel with it.
  • Dana created a custom Google Map and allowed me to post on it.  We both did research and added items to the map.  Dana did a lot of searching her favorite sites while I used Twitter, the Blog and Facebook to pull information to me.  We both came up with very similar results though each of us found items the other didn’t.
  • The map was our guide to the city – we went to Neighborhoods where there were a high concentration of “dots” and explored.  We covered about 80% of our map in the 8 days.  We carried the iPhone and printouts of the area.

We still refer friends to the map – we haven’t updated it in the year so I can’t vouch for its present completeness but I can vouch for how awesome it was to have a map like this on our travels.  It allowed us to organize the city by area and our combined techniques led us to places we simply wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.

There is a link on the bottom to zoom in. 

Does anyone else have similar maps (regardless of city) that they’re willing to share?  It’s fun even to virtually tour a city that you’re unfamiliar with in this way and we’d love to see maps of anywhere that share your favourite food and drink tips.