New Food Archives!

Yay! Just a short little post today to say that I finally (you’d be amazed how long this has been on my blog to-do list) got some image-based archives up and running for my Food & Recipe page. It turned out to be easier than I thought it would be, though there are still a few kinks to work out. Right now I’m taking a break from staring in a confused manner at the stylesheet for this plugin trying to figure out how to stop it from changing the image sizes based on how long the title of the post is. I am confident this is an incredibly easy fix but currently it’s totally beyond me how to fix it. But! I had a bit of a weird day so I’m counting this as a serious win.

My recipes are now organized into categories of savoury, sweet and vegan. Considering the fact that this is not really a food blog, those are the only really meaningful categories I could think of to divvy it up. I’m hoping to use the same plugin for other pages, maybe for my city guides or other tutorials on the blog.

If you’re interested in doing the same for a page on your website, I used the Image Archives plugin. It’s old, but it still does the job. Most likely I’ll need to find a better solution in a year or two when it’s defunct but for now it’s working out just fine. If you want to see the page in action, check it out here.

I hope you have a wonderful Thursday.

How to Start a Podcast For Free

How to Start a Podcast For Free

I’ve started two podcasts now, one about writing and then of course Guinea Pigging Green. For both, I’ve always taken on the role of behind-the-scenes techie to get it up and running and keep it updated. There are plenty of paid services online to take care of the tech stuff for you, but if you don’t have a lot of money to spend yet feel strongly about putting ideas out into the world then I want to give you that power! I really adore the medium of the podcast and am constantly wanting to start new shows myself. The process can seem incredibly intimidating and overwhelming if you’re just starting out, but it’s actually very straightforward once you learn how to do it yourself.

1. Record Your Show

If you’re the only one on the show, you can record using GarageBand which comes built into a Mac or whatever the built-in audio recorder is on your computer. You can get fancy here by adding a microphone, but it’s not necessary. I use the Samson Go Mic which is a great, inexpensive option, but I was making podcast just using my computer’s microphone on and off for 2 years before I made the switch.

If you’re recording long distance, the best way we’ve found (that we just switched to for GPG) is to talk over Skype or Google Hangouts while wearing headphones, and then record your own audio throughout the conversation using your computer’s built in audio recording software (I use Quicktime for this). Then, get the other person to send you their file, and mash them together in Garageband. Each file will have one person’s voice, and pauses while the other person talks, so it should be easy to sync up the audio, especially if you add a clap at the beginning of recording. The result is some seriously sexy audio quality, especially if you’re using a microphone. This method is described more here.

2. Edit Your Audio

How to Start a Podcast For Free

I use Garageband exclusively for some simple editing for our show. I usually just add a short jingle at the beginning for our intro and at the end. Ours was written and recorded by my co-host’s brother, but there are tons of options in the program and even more online. In the past we’ve occasionally had a particularly bad connection and had to stop and start a few times so in those cases I go in and cut things out and edit for smoothness of speech if we get any weird mechanical errors in the audio file. We also sometimes slip up and swear on our podcast, so I’ll either cut it out or add in a bleep (free ones here) – that’s always fun. Once you’re finished editing, export the file to iTunes, which will make it into a finished mp3 file.

3. Upload Your Finished File

As I’ve talked about the blog before, my sites are self-hosted – you can learn how to self-host your website right here. That means that I pay about $6 a month to Bluehost which also gives me unlimited storage. Because I have unlimited storage, I choose to upload my podcast files to a subfolder on my domain which can be accessed by anyone at a link. If you don’t have your own website and don’t want to pay for your podcast, I recommend getting a free Dropbox account and uploading your files there in a Public folder. There’s more about the Dropbox method on this blog along with a great, comprehensive article on starting a podcast.

You’ll also need to create a square image or graphic. I made ours in Photoshop Elements, but you could also just crop down a photo. Just make sure it’s the right dimensions and upload it to your preferred location, ie. your website or Dropbox.

4. Create a Podcast Feed

How to Start a Podcast For Free

This is the part that can seem the most impossible. I know I struggled quite a lot trying to figure out this step before I came across an easy method. I use the PodcastBlaster Feed Generator which is totally free and very simple. You make a quick account and then just fill-in-the-blanks on your podcast’s main page. Each time you want to add a new episode, you fill in the blanks for that too. After inputting all your information, you can download your “XML file” from the website. This is basically an RSS feed, and it’s what you’ll need to submit your show to iTunes or Stitcher.

How to Start a Podcast For Free

One thing I wish we’d done originally is to run our XML file through Feedburner so we’d be able to track statistics. Live and learn, I guess! I actually don’t know how to do this process (though I will be using it if I ever start another podcast) but there’s a great tutorial here. It’s not essential but I would recommend it if you want to get a sense of how many people are listening to you.

5. Submit Your Feed to iTunes

How to Start a Podcast For Free

This is actually the easiest step in the whole process. When you want to add a new podcast to iTunes, the only thing they want is the link to your XML file (RSS feed). If you’ve done it properly, all the information the database needs is in that file, so it only requires the one link. Once you’ve entered it, it’ll usually process the application for a couple of days before your show is live. Once it is, people can subscribe! This process is very similar on Stitcher.


And that’s it!

A quick note: if you don’t want to deal with all these details and would rather pay a small amount of money, Elise has an awesome post about starting a podcast using Libsyn. That method skips many of these steps and streamlines the process a bit. I actually quite like knowing how to do all these processes and I’m learning new things all the time, but the important thing is to make the content, regardless of how you get there.

If you have a podcast, awesome! What process do you use to record and submit? If you don’t – would you ever start one? Are you a fan of the medium? If you are inspired to create a show, leave me a link in the comments, I’d love to check it out.

How to Do Morning Pages

How to Do Morning Pages

This week on Guinea Pigging Green, Laura and I are talking all about morning pages! If you’re not familiar with them, the idea is to do 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing first thing in the morning, by hand in a notebook. The purpose is to get rid of your internal judging voice, and get all the junk and insecurities and worries in your head down on paper before you start your day. I’ve done this before, for several months back in 2012 around the time when I did NaNoWriMo for the first time! Back then I was going through some things personally and I found the process incredibly helpful in working out some of the stuff in my head at the time.

About a month ago, Laura sent me an article she’d seen on the Daily Muse about morning pages and asked if I’d like to do them together for a month to see what would happen. I was definitely interested and happily recommitted to this practice I’d let slip out of my life nearly 2 full years ago. I’m happy to report that I love doing the pages more than ever.

So, how can you do morning pages yourself? It’s very, very simple. The official definition specifically says:

There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages—they are not high art. They are not even ‘writing.’ They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind—and they are for your eyes only. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page.

How to Do Morning Pages

Previously, I’d been using, an awesome site based on the idea of morning pages which tracks your progress and saves your words every day. It’s an awesome way to ease into it if you’re new to the idea and want to give it a try. That being said, I think my experience writing it by hand in my notebook this time around has been a thousand times more enjoyable and helpful. As Laura put it, it’s just so much more cozy to write your pages by hand each morning in a nice notebook with a nice pen. I also love that that means I’m doing my morning writing before opening my computer. It has been so refreshing to take that time for myself before checking in with all the distractions my computer brings.

I’m also delighted that doing my morning pages has been an anchor for my morning, giving me something to do before I get swept up in the day and distracted by other things. It’s led to a bit of a domino effect lately too where I have begun meditating right after finishing my pages using the Headspace app. Then after that, I’ll have breakfast and do my 7 minute workout. And voila! A productive morning where one good thing flows into another. I find that no matter what else I do all day, I’m always so grateful to have taken that time to check in with myself before I start the day.

You can find out more about my experience with morning pages by tuning into the podcast here, and you can learn much more about the pages themselves on Julia Cameron’s blog here.

How to Learn Korean

Learning Korean

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been making an effort to learn more Korean. I know what you’re thinking: I’ve been here for six months, so what have I been doing all this time?! My mom agrees with you, and is always (rightly, I might add!) reminding me to learn more of the language. I think after the initial period of getting settled, coupled with the mini-upheaval of changing jobs, I never felt like I had the mental space to tackle such a task until lately.

In my defence, Korean is one of the 4 hardest major world languages for native English speakers to learn. The others are Japanese, Chinese and Arabic. The research estimates that you would need 2200 hours of dedicated study to become proficient in any of those languages, which makes the whole thing seem a bit hopeless! But fortunately I spend 8 hours a day talking to cute munchkins who are incredibly skilled at speaking and writing Korean, so I’ve been using them to my advantage.

1. Learn to read Hangul

Hangul is the Korean alphabet with 24 vowels and consonants. It’s actually one of the easiest written languages in the world, even though it looks a bit scary at first. Unlike Japanese and Chinese character systems, Hangul is based on sounds. It was created by King Sejong, quite a popular guy in Korea, back in the the 1400’s. His goal was to improve the literacy rate of the Korean population by making a system so simple that anyone could learn to read it. It was said about the characters: “A wise man can acquaint himself with them before the morning is over; a stupid man can learn them in the space of ten days.”

It’s true though! It doesn’t take long to learn the alphabet, maybe a couple of hours.

I had a lot of success with this infographic, Learn to Read Korean in 15 Minutes. It’s a cute cartoon, but it’s also really effective. I still remember most of my consonants based on the memory aids they give you.

I also love the app Memrise, which I used to solidify my knowledge of Hangul. The system uses smart, user-submitted memory aids to help you learn new letters and words, and they’re usually very on point and helpful. Memrise has all kinds of courses for language, trivia, general memory training and more, and it’s all free. I used this course for Hangul.

Of course, learning the characters often doesn’t help much because although you can sound out and read words, you don’t actually know what the Korean word means. So while I can sound words out phonetically, it doesn’t really help me unless I learn the word itself.

2. Learn some basic phrases

To my credit, I did learn some basic phrases when I first moved to Korea. I try not to go anywhere new without knowing the words for “hello” and “thank you”, and Korea was no exception. Here are my top 4:

  • ????? (annyeong haseyo) = Hello!
  • ????? (gamsamnida) = Thank you
  • ????? (mian hamnida) = I’m sorry
  • ???? (eolma eyo) = How much is it?

You can also learn phrases from an app – there are tons on the app store or online. One that I downloaded (but admittedly have not used much) is this Learn Korean Phrasebook. It’s fairly extensive, very easy to use and has voice recordings of each phrase from a native Korean speaker. It’s helpful to have around in case you need to learn something new in a jam, but I usually prefer learning phrases organically from my students or my friends. I also know how to say “I love you!”, “stop that” (3 different ways), “let’s go”, “don’t go”, “turn right” and “turn left”, among a few other things.

I also very recently discovered the Youtube channel Talk to Me in Korean which will hopefully teach me even more!


3. Learn helpful words

This is where my students come in. I have a few classes that have an English spelling test every 2 weeks. I recently began telling them that on the day that I teach them their new English spelling words, they could teach me Korean spelling words, and that we’d have our tests on the same day. This doesn’t take up too much class time, they absolutely adore teaching me Korean words, and I get to learn something new! I’ve been writing out my words on an index card with the English translation, and practicing them each day while saying the words out loud.

Thus far, I know the words for chair, eraser, orange, pencil, crab, flower, book, earth, sun, bag, hand, finger, face, he, she, we, and person. It’s pretty awesome to see the patterns between the letters and start to recognize some words as I hear them spoken in class.

There are some courses on Memrise that look great for learning individual words as well, like this one for the 100 Most Frequent Korean Words.

4. Practice!

Of course, the most helpful thing you can do when learning any new language is to practice, practice, practice. I’ve been trying to practice saying the phrases I’ve learned to my classes (and laugh when they gasp and ooh and ahh and get excited over my attempts to speak Korean) and to shop clerks (it’s thrilling when they understand and reply without batting an eye). I try to learn new phrases from native Korean speakers both mini and adult, and use the new words I’ve learned as much as I can.

Despite the title of this post, I have definitely not finished learning Korean and it’s very possible there are better ways to learn it that I don’t know about. Do you have any tips on learning Korean, or languages in general? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.