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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why Looks Matter - a guest post by Gerry Seymour

I have written on fashion, style, and the importance of appearances many times over many years. I am frequently dismissed as superficial and frivolous - and I suspect a large part of the dismissal comes from the fact I am a woman. After all, would a sensible guy or a tomboy gal bother with such nonsense? Well, judge for yourself. I have invited my husband Gerry Seymour to write a guest post on the subject. Gerry's career spanned a variety of environments and his style runs the full gamut from Japanese pajamas to a tuxedo.

Maria K.


"Looks shouldn't matter."

I can't begin to count the number of times I have heard someone say this or have seen them post a similar sentiment on Facebook.

Firstly, let me borrow a phrase from a friend and colleague: "Stop should-ing all over yourself!" Here begins the first lesson in this post. In many cases, what we think "should" be is relatively unimportant - the world is, today, as it is. Yes, we have the power to change the future of the world, but we must live in it as it exists now. That is the truth behind the often misused "It is what it is."

Secondly, I actually disagree with the original statement. Look should matter. They shouldn't matter more than everything, but they should count. If you are interviewing two people for a retail job, and they seem equally qualified (experience, education, erudition, etc.), then you need a tie-breaker. If one came in dressed in sweats, while the other came dressed in smart business clothing, which is likely to be a better choice? Given no other information, I would choose the smartly dressed person. Their choice of clothing shows an eagerness for the job, an interest in presenting their best side, so I can see their value, and an understanding of the fact that we all (yes, from my experience every single person in the world) make some sort of judgment based upon a person's appearance.

In fact, that last point is a powerful indicator that the person being interviewed has great potential. It doesn't guarantee anything, but someone who lacks that understanding, and who chooses, instead, to wear something not quite up to societal norms for the position, will be much harder to prepare for success in the job. I want to hire (and you should, too!) for the greatest chance of success for the person being hired, and for the company doing the hiring.

Let's take this a level deeper. I have been talking about interviews, and understand that the principle is the same for any first-time interaction: first date, meeting your partner's parents, meeting a new client, etc. Let's use the first date as an analogy. We all know that a reasonable person will make every attempt on the first date to put their best self forward. We expect this, and actually try to see past it. If the person shows up and rolls out their sloppiest, least organized, crankiest, or most shy self, we (having no other evidence to work with at this point) tend to assume that person is that way at their best. So, by not presenting their best self - in this case, actually presenting their worst self - they have convinced us that they are far less. Is this recoverable? Of course. Assuming, that is, that there is another date - do you always go on a second date, just in case, regardless of how boring or un-fun the first one was??

Here's the kicker: nearly every place you go, there is a chance you will meet or run into someone for whom the impression of the moment will be important. If you are single, why not assume that at any moment you could run into someone who could be a wonderful life partner? If you are looking for a job (whether you are unemployed or are simply looking to improve your station), why not assume that you might meet someone who has an opening that is perfect for you, or who knows someone else who does?

For those who argue that you don't judge people based upon looks, I challenge you to look deeper inside. I have heard people say this, and then turn and point at someone dressed in really nice clothes with carefully applied makeup, and say, "Like that person - they pay way too much attention to their appearance." You got it - they just judged someone based upon appearance, alone. Maybe that person was on their way to a TV interview. Or maybe that person was going to their wedding. Or maybe...almost anything. We simply can't help judging based upon appearance. We expect people to dress and act a certain way for certain situations. We would see it as odd if a bank manager was wearing sweats, and we would find it equally odd to see someone running at the track in a pinstripe suit.

Now, please understand that I'm not saying we (yes, I include myself in this discussion) must always go around wearing our best attire. I certainly don't walk around in a pinstripe suit and tie everywhere. I'm saying we should (yes, I'm "should-ing", I know!) do what we can to present the best version of ourselves in each situation. So, at a client's office, I dress one level nicer (usually) than the managers. Around town, I dress in the nicest clothing that feels comfortable to me (oh, and denim crowd, please don't argue that denim is more comfortable - well-fitted dress slacks can be far more physically comfortable in most situations). When I feel like wearing jeans, I wear them. I just make sure I wear jeans that look good on me, and wear well-fitting shirts and nice-looking, comfortable shoes with them. I just make the effort at every turn to present the best version of me, wearing clothes that are both comfortable and appropriate.

Now, I've saved for last the most important point in this entire article...

What you wear matters for you!

Yes, that is the most important point. Others will judge you partially upon your appearance, and that will matter sometimes. You will also judge yourself based upon your appearance, and that matters all of the time.

Stop for a moment and picture what you think someone successful in your profession (or the profession you want) looks like at their best. Don't look for outliers (the few who break the rule) - look for what you expect someone successful to look like. Now, ask yourself why you don't dress and act as close to that as you can, today.

A side note for those who say, "I don't want to do what they had to do to be successful!" (or any similar comment): that's not success. You must first define success for yourself, then find a group of models of that type of success. Don't bow to any societal model for this - success is what you decide it is. Only once you've defined it properly for yourself will the rest of this matter, at all.

So, consider dressing and acting successful. That doesn't mean buying expensive clothing - just doing the best you can within your budget. And here's how it affects you. When you dress and groom for the day, you tell your subconscious mind two things: 1) what you expect of the day, and 2) how important the day is to you. You (and your subconscious) know how you dress for things you think are important, how much time and attention you put into getting ready. Spend that same attention on most days, and you communicate to your subconscious that your days are all important. I don't have the space in this article to get into the full explanations around working with your subconscious, but I'll give you one bit of information. A study by the Kellogg School of Management suggests (as Christian Jarrett states clearly in his article, cited below) that how we dress affects our performance at various tasks, so you should choose your clothing to help communicate to your subconscious how you need it to perform that particular day.

The big takeaway

The studies have shown fairly clearly that your image matters to your customers, to your coworkers, and to your own mind. Be mindful of these effects. Each day, purposely choose how you will dress, and consider how that will affect you. Present the best "you" possible for each situation, so people around you have the opportunity to see that best part of you, and get to know you better.

Some studies and reports that illustrate the effect of clothing:

* NY Times reports on a study in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, showing the effect of a white lab coat

* The Fast Track reports on a study published in Evolution and Human Behavior, regarding the effect of designer clothing

* A study from California State, Northridge, on the effects of experimenter dress on participants

* A study on the Undergraduate Research Community website, showing some of the ambiguity of casual dress in the workplace

* A study on "enclothed cognition" - the impact of our clothing on our cognitive processes

* Christian Jarret of 99u covers the impact of clothing on performance, including some notes from the studies above

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mama Masha's kitchen - fun with andouille

For those of you, foodies, who don't know - andouille is a kind of spicy smoked sausage. It originated in France, was promptly adopted by the sausage lovers in Germany, and then brought over to Louisiana, where it fit right in with the Cajun cuisine.

Good andouille should be used sparingly, if you are not into spicy things, but it's definitely worth including on your shopping list - precisely because a little of it goes such a long way.

In addition to the more traditional uses, like jambalaya, paella, or black beans and rice, andouille can be used in less obvious ways. For example, if you like spaghetti with tomato sauce, consider finely chopping some andouille and adding it to the sauce as you warm it up. We've done this both with a store-bought sauce and with the home-made variety - and both gained a whole new dimension with that bit of spicy goodness in them.

Another recipe I really enjoyed making up was to core and cut two large bell peppers in half, lengthwise; pre-cook some orzo, and saute some finely chopped onions, andouille, and mushrooms. Put the bell peppers into a casserole dish, mix orzo, onions, andouille, and mushrooms and scoop them into the bell pepper halves. Shred some sharp cheddar on top of each, cover and bake at 400 for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake another 20 minutes.

The last but not the least (and probably my favorite) is sauteing andouille with onions and mushrooms, and adding it to mac n' cheese. It could be store-bought mac n' cheese, or home-made. I particularly recommend trying it with one of the incredible recipes from The Mac+Cheese Cookbook by Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade.

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Big Little Change digest - August, 2014

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - pay someone's tab.

Some time ago my husband was buying coffee at a truck stop. There was a policeman in line ahead of him, and when the man ordered his cuppa Joe, my husband stepped forward and paid for it.

It doesn’t have to be anything big, but doing such things is great fun because there is pretty much no doubt you’ve just made someone’s day.

Watching someone in line ahead of you is a small precaution if money is tight. That way, you know what that person is having and whether or not you can afford a little bit of feel-good generosity.

Who knows? If you are prudent with your budget and keep your mind out of the broke mindset, you might be able to take on someone’s entire dinner at a nice restaurant.

Week 2 - read to learn.

Identify an area where you know you need improvement or a skill you want to learn. Find a book about it – and don’t be lazy about it, do your research and make sure it’s really the right one for you and what you want to learn. Make a point to read one page or one chapter every day. Some of the best books out there are conveniently divided into small sections, perfect for perusing during lunch or sneaking in just before bed.

Week 3 - have an anthem.

It doesn't necessarily have to be your favorite song. But maybe something that brings your life into focus. Something you put on during hard times, when you struggle to achieve what you need to achieve.

I personally found the idea silly, until I stumbled onto the anthem of my own one day, and, somehow, it stuck. I kept returning to it for all sorts of reasons - when I worked on my fitness goals, when I tried to define my purpose in life, when I struggled to explain to people why I work on the things I work on. Somehow, one song, helped me bring it all into focus, and now, when I find my attention diffusing, I play it, and it pulls me back together.

This is my anthem. What is yours?

Week 4 - don't hate the meat eater.

Or a veggie eater. Generally, don't hate a consumer of specific goods, just because the goods that person chooses to consume are different from your own choices. This train of thought came out from seeing many posts on the internet - from vegan and vegetarian sites - showing the terrible conditions, in which farm animals are kept. I agree - some of those are truly awful, and this should not happen. However, why focus on one bad aspect of one industry, for no reason other than to stick it to people who eat something different than you do?

The truth is - there are many processes that are great. All sorts of processes that are part of manufacturing of all sorts of goods. Some smart people got together, looked at them objectively , figured out the good, the bad, and the ugly and cleaned them up. And then there are processes that suck. Processes that haven't changed in decades. And those processes are behind many products - for people who eat meat and for people who don't eat meat.

Take cotton, for example, "the fabric of our lives" - you would think, what could be less harmless than that? Right? Well, if your cotton goods come from anywhere in Central Asia or the Middle East, it is possible that the cotton for them was picked by children during some of the hottest portion of the year.

Or wool. Yes, many merino sheep growers have modernized their processes and are now treating their animals in a humane and careful way. But in some cases, the deal remains the same as it was 70 years ago, as described in "Thorn Birds". Sheep are still dipped in toxic baths to rid them of external parasites, they still get a giant syringe full of meds rammed down their throats to rid them of internal pests, and they still occasionally get gouged by shears when the fleece is being collected. That's where your favorite sweater may have come from.

A few years ago, the state of Georgia decided to crack down on farmers using undocumented immigrant workers. So, the state demanded that the farmers fire all their foreign workers and hire American ones instead. It was a disaster. The crops went unpicked and a lot was lost. In an interview, one of the farmers said he found his American workers sitting in the shade 2-3 hours every day, instead of working, saying the work was "too hard". It IS hard. So hard, in fact, that apparently, an American worker, after being unemployed for months, will quit that job after a few days. But immigrant workers soldier through it. So, your last salad may have been picked by the hands of someone working in 100-degree heat, with no safety regulation to protect him, no benefits, no health insurance, and no limits on how many hours a day and days a week he has to work.

Instead of telling terrible things and posting terrible pictures to make one group of consumers feel bad because you disagree with their choice of food, why not look at the whole thing globally? Where is our stuff coming from? How is it produced? How are the materials delivered? What can we do, as consumers, to favor those suppliers who use better methods?

Member contributions

Recycle and feed the dogs - all in one.


t's something we've all been talking about. The final message is were stress eating/drinking, cooking/preserving if we can (evidenced by the chocolate baked goods and berry jam at my house--never mind the shelf of Leinies). The ultimate message here. Take care of your neighbor. Who is that, you may ask? The person next door, down the street, or halfway around the world. Take care of each other, because sure as hell those in power won't do anything but take care of themselves.


Anne Lamott

Many mornings I check out the news as soon as I wake up, because if it turns out that the world is coming to an end that day, I am going to eat the frosting off an entire carrot cake; just for a start. Then I will move onto vats of clam dip, pots of crime brûlée, nachos, M & M's etc. Then I will max out both my credit cards.

I used to think that if the world--or I--were coming to an end, I'd start smoking again, and maybe have a cool refreshing pitcher of lime Rickeys. But that's going too far, because if the world or I was saved at the last minute, I'd be back in the old familiar nightmare. In 1986, grace swooped down like a mighty mud hen, and fished me out of that canal. I got the big prize. I can't risk losing it.

But creme brûlée, nachos, maybe the random Buche Noel? Now you're talking.

The last two weeks have been about as grim and hopeless as any of us can remember, and yet, I have not gotten out the lobster bib and fork. The drunken Russian separatists in Ukraine with their refrigerated train cars? I mean, come on. Vonnegut could not have thought this up. Dead children children on beaches, and markets, at play, in the holy land?? Stop.

The two hour execution in festive Arizona? Dear God.

And let's not bog down on the stuff that was already true, before Ukraine, Gaza, Arizona, like the heartbreaking scenes of young refugees at our border, the locals with their pitchforks. The people in ruins in our own families. Or the tiny problem that we have essentially destroyed the earth--I know, pick pick pick.

Hasn't your mind just been blown lately, even if you try not to watch the news? Does it surprise you that a pretty girl's mind turns to thoughts of entire carrot cakes, and credit cards?

My friend said recently, "It's all just too Lifey. No wonder we all love TV." Her 16 year old kid has a brain tumor. "Hey, that's just great, God. Thanks a lot. This really works for me."

My brother's brand new wife has tumors of the everything. "Fabulous, God. Loving your will, Dude."

My dog Lily's ear drum burst recently, for no apparent reason, with blood splatter on the walls on the entire house--on my sleeping grandson's pillow. Do you think I am well enough for that? Let me go ahead and answer. I'm not. It was CSI around here; me with my bad nerves. And it burst again last night.


Did someone here get the latest updated owner's manual? Were they handed out two weeks ago when I was getting root canal, and was kind of self-obsessed and out of it? The day before my dog's ear drum first burst? If so, is there is an index, and if so, could you look up Totally Fucking Overwhelm?

I have long since weeded out people who might respond to my condition by saying cheerfully, "God's got a perfect plan." Really? Thank you! How fun.

There is no one left in my circle who would dare say, brightly, "Let Go and Let God," because they know I would come after them with a fork.

It's not that I don't trust God or grace or good orderly direction anymore. I do, more than ever. I trust in divine intelligence, in love energy, more than ever, no matter what things look like, or how long they take. It's just that right now cute little platitudes are not helpful.

I'm not depressed. I'm overwhelmed by It All. I don't think I'm a drag. I kind of know what to do. I know that if I want to have loving feelings, I need to do loving things. It begins by putting your own oxygen mask on first: I try to keep the patient comfortable. I do the next right thing: left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe. I think Jesus had a handle on times like these: get thirsty people water. Feed the hungry. Try not to kill anyone today. Pick up some litter in your neighborhood. Lie with your old dog under the bed and tell her what a good job she is doing with the ruptured ear drum.

I try to quiet the drunken Russian separatists of my own mind, with their good ideas. I pray. I meditate. I rest, as a spiritual act. I spring for organic cherries. I return phone calls.

I remember the poor. I remember an image of Koko the sign-language gorilla, with the caption, "Law of the American Jungle: remain calm. Share your bananas." I remember Hushpuppy at the end of Beasts of the Southern Wild, just trying to take some food home to her daddy Wink, finally turning to face the hideous beast on the bridge, facing it down and saying, "I take care care of my own."

I take care of my own. You are my own, and I am yours--I think this is what God is saying, or trying to, over the din. We are each other's. Thee are many forms of thirst, many kinds of water.


This is cool... I especially like the bit where he hands the hat to the bloke and then takes a new one out of the bag, suggesting that they would be doing the same thing again somewhere else...


When our old mailbox fell over and we installed a new one, I insisted on picking up one of the larger ones, even though it required a bit more finagling with installation. I use USPS Click-n-Ship all the time, and this would make it easier for me to ship slightly larger packages. Also, our mailwoman wouldn't need to drive up our precipitous driveway in her decrepit truck when delivering packages to us.

Gerry recently ordered a lot of stuff, and today it ALL came in. Strapped to the stack of packages was a note from our mailwoman, "Love the new mailbox." And a smiley face.

Public Service Announcements

10 Foods to help fight inflammation.


The latest developments in sustainable fabrics.



Heifer has added more options to the catalog! Consider popping in and checking out what's new. If you can't afford an entire gift, you can always buy a share. The least expensive ones - flocks of chickens and geese - are $20.

Considering how many moms-to-be in second and third-world countries would have easier pregnancies and healthier babies if they had access to fresh meat and eggs on a regular basis, and how many kids could avoid calcium and protein deficiency if they had a glass of milk and some chicken soup - all these make a huge difference. There are also options to donate trees and bee hives - also fantastic


Recycling an old unused building.


We desperately need more of these.


A huge victory for volunteer roadside libraries!


Ass-kicking use of solar in Australia.

Recommended reading

Lighten Up by Peter Walsh

Everyone Communicates - Few Connect by John Maxwell

Work It! by Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo

Mini-Farming by Brett Markham

Monday, July 7, 2014

Big Little Change digest - July, 2014

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - glamorize the ordinary.

There are few things more commonplace than getting out of bed and getting ready every morning. Unless you are Batman suiting up to save Gotham City, Sir Lancelot preparing for the jousts, or Sauri getting ready for her initiation as a maiko. Then it’s no longer ordinary – then it’s cool.

We do this very well as children – transform ordinary events of the day into adventures. I have no idea why we give up on it as adults. We really shouldn’t. Sure it may seem ridiculous – but who cares? Nobody knows what goes on in your head when your brush your teeth or drive off to get groceries. If having Eye of the Tiger playing in your head (or in your headphones) helps you start your day better – then play it. If you want to button your buttons, tie your shoe laces, and buckle your belt like Aragorn before the Battle of Morannon – then do so.

So many things have gotten so pragmatic, so analyzed and practical these days. There is nothing wrong if you decide to add some fun to life through effective use of your imagination and sense of humor.

Week 2 - clean it up.

I love the states that encourage people to recycle by charging a little extra per container and then reimbursing shoppers for each can and bottle at the grocery store recycling stations and machines.

When I lived in Rochester, NY, paid recycling had an entire culture around it. Like all large American cities, Rochester did have its homeless. But they knew they could always gather up a bag of bottles and cans by the side of the road, turn them in at the grocery store, and get enough money to buy a sandwich and a cup of hot coffee. College campuses and apartment complexes often let their minimum-wage groundskeepers and night concierges have their recycling to help boost their earnings. Parents could always send the kids out to clean a section of their street and a few yards and let them keep the recycling money for movies and ice cream. In a small way, that ever-present, ever-rewarded recycling habit impacted almost every area of life.

I understand not all of us live in states that offer this wonderful option. We can all start petitions to our state governments to implement this. We can all become ruthless to litterers throwing trash out of their cars and onto our streets and report them whenever possible. In the meantime – it’s still not a bad idea to gather up your kids and their friends and go on a cleaning walk around your neighborhood. Those of us living along smaller country roads are well familiar with the frustration of dealing with inconsiderate people using our roadsides as trash bins. But we do have a choice to work off that frustration by taking the initiative clean up. So what we weren’t the ones who made the mess? We are the ones who have to live there – we might as well clean it up. And if your state doesn’t have recycling incentives, you can get together with your neighbors or friends and set up a pizza and/or ice cream party for your helpers to reward them.

Week 3 - micro-give.

I am utterly and unabashedly in love with Kiva, Heifer, NPR, and other organizations, where a small amount of money is combined with other small amounts to make great things happen. Their operation is the very cornerstone of making big changes by starting with small ones. Kiva, in this sense, is my favorite. Their minimum donation is $25; it goes not to the organization’s operating costs, but directly toward someone’s business loan all around the world; and, being a loan – not a grant, it eventually returns to you. Once a loan is fully repaid, you can take the same $25 and invest it into another loan. And another one. And another… several. You can choose to make additional contributions, or you can just stick with the original money you put in – knowing all the while that the little bit you contributed is helping someone somewhere get on his or her feet. And that, as they say in the MasterCard commercials, is priceless.

Week 4 - another 15 minutes.

How often do you hit the “snooze” button on your alarm clock? Or think, “Ugh, I wish I had another 15 minutes.” Make it happen.

So many of us tend to run at top speed, collapse into bed in sheer exhaustion, and then drag ourselves up and out to do it all again. The more we do this, the more we hate it, and the more hopeless it all feels.

Downsize your hobbies, con your kids by changing every clock in the house, negotiate with your spouse around chores – in short, do whatever you have to do, but challenge yourself to go to bed 15 minutes early. With time, discipline, and structure, your organism will happily accept this small gift and become accustomed to making itself ready for rest, which means you’ll fall asleep easier, sleep better, and wake up the next morning more refreshed and less stressed.

Member contributions

Big little change at work - imagine if all people with adequate means would do this for others.

After a lively discussion and a bit of research from my faithful and fierce Facebook friends, we have all come to a conclusion - you all MUST get some of these tomatoes. Plant some, grow them, and enjoy. I have some growing in my green house, and they are AMAZING.

Public service announcements

Another power girl with a new invention.

Feed the butterflies - save the eco system.

The elements - wind, water, and heat - working together to bring energy and water to the desert.

Solar-powered water wheel goes to work cleaning out the Baltimore Harbor.

Last year's renewable energy breakthroughs.

Recommended reading

- Key to living the law of attraction by Jack Canfield

- The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mama Masha's Kitchen - variations on the theme of pickling

We have talked about canning and pickling in the past. But just in case people have forgotten what we talked about, I'd like to remind you to approach pickling seriously. It is great fun and - done right - the results are very rewarding. It's always awesome to pope a jar of home-made pickles in the middle of winter and enjoy that summertime crunch or offer your guests a fantastic veggie spread and tell them you've done your own pickling. But in order to get good results, one must have a solid process, with great discipline, organization, coordination, and thoroughness for each step.

I am not going to talk about jar sterilization and pressurization - there are tons of instructions for that on the internet, and printed on a leaflet sold with just about any canning product, including jar caps. Rather, I would like to suggest a few variations on the basic pickling solution to expand your range of flavors.

The basic pickling brine recipe goes as follows:

- 3 cups of water

- 2 cups of vinegar

- 1/4 cup of pickling salt (regular salt is acceptable, but pickling salt gives you a clearer, more transparent brine)

- A pinch of sugar (I use brown sugar)

Now, let us build up on the basic...

For savory, slightly spicy pickles, start with the basic brine and add the following to each jar:

- 2 black pepper corns

- 1 clove of garlic

- 1 bay leaf

- 1 sprig of fresh parsley

- 1 sprig of fresh dill

Note: If you don't have fresh herbs, make it a pinch of dried parsley and a pinch of dried dill. Do consider growing them - they are not that hard to maintain, and they smell great!

For sweet and tangy pickles:

- Instead of a pinch of sugar in the basic brine recipe, add 1 cup of sugar per each cup of vinegar. So in our basic recipe above, we would have 3 cups of water, 2 cups of vinegar, 1/4 cup of salt, and 2 cups of sugar.

- Also add to the brine, 1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric and 1/2 teaspoon of one of these (not all of them - just whichever one you prefer): cayenne pepper, mustard seed, dried mustard, ground black pepper, chili pepper.

- Add 1 slice of a medium-size sweet onion to the jar.

- 2 black pepper corns

- 1 sprig of fresh parsley (or a pinch of dried)

- 1 sprig of fresh dill (or a pinch of dried)

Other things to add to the jar for slight variations of flavor and texture:

- Cherry leaves (for firmness and slightly sweeter flavor)

- Rosemary (fragrant and savory)

- Mint (fragrant and sweet)

- Lemon balm leaves (sweet and tangy)

- Sage and thyme (very heady, fragrant, savory scent and flavor)

- Lemon juice (a pop of tartness)

The good news is that all these additives are not only great for flavor enhancement but also good for you. Happy pickling!