Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Goodbye Smartphone

Funeral will be on Friday, calling hours tonight from 5-8 pm.  Thanks to everyone for the food and flowers.  I'm just kidding of course.  But it is true, I did it.  Goodbye, Smartphone.

I really didn't know how reliant I was on this particular technology until I severed myself from it.  This switch to a basic phone was planned for months.  Even though now we know we could have switched it before our contract was officially up, I don't know that I would have been ready.

I made the switch to a dumbphone (sorry, basic phone) for two reasons.  Both having a lot to do with the adoption.  First and foremost, we need to save money.  Yes, yes, it's always about the money.  And this does cut our total technology bill $15/month.  I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but that's $180 a year and now we have actual, real live, functioning internet.  The second reason is more important, really.  It was taking time away from the thing that should take precedence over everything else - my family.  I had facebook, Pinterest, blogs, and emails dinging constantly throughout the day and always at my fingertips at every moment that I want to sit for a breather.  It called me to pick it up and see what dinged and then it was just, "Hey, let's see what's on facebook".  It's tempting to flip through those things and then very easy to get lost and suddenly lose 20 minutes to an hour.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for breaks in the day and "taking a load off" - but I was getting about as frustrated as my kids when they would say, "Mommy, put your phone down!"  I told them, "You know, you're right.  You keep reminding me of that."  I'm taking their advice one step further and just chucking it.  Facebook and Pinterest and the like shall now be reserved for naptimes and evenings when Daddy and I work on adoption stuff.

It seems rather silly that we labored over this decision the way we did.  I'm glad we took the time, though, because we were able to find very economical solutions to our various tech issues because we talked it all through and waited and gathered information.  We researched alternative internet sources (we didn't have official internet for the past 2 yrs, only... tethering... gulp!  don't tell) We labored over what we would miss and might need to replace, and my fast that I did for a while (fasting from my phone until 2pm each day) was a good little practice run.  After all those questions were answered and solutions found, we finally did it.  Day one, and already it seems silly that all the fuss was over a attachment to a smartphone.  Geesh.

For a detailed explanation of our tech switches - read the following.  To skip it, continue to the next paragraph.  :)  Our printer that you had to hand feed is replaced by a refurbished one, and now we can hook it directly up to our laptop instead of saving the file to a flashdrive and walking it down to our dinosaur computer that couldn't read most of our flashdrives anyway (it would freeze the computer).  Our dead laptop was given new life with a fresh battery.  The maps (the only thing we really felt we would truly miss on the smartphone) were replaced with a Garmin bought from Zack's place of employment.  Our internet that was working for the past two years as tethering (even though it was super annoying to have to plug the phone in and rely on spotty service, etc) changed anyway because we had to update the computer operating system (now we're only 2 years behind instead of 7, yay us!) to use our new printer and then subsequently had to update the tethering app which then made it have caps and would cut us off after a certain amount of data unless we bought the advanced version (yeah right no thanks) meaning we could only play a minute or so of video (unhandy when adoption training videos are about an hour each) and couldn't load complex website at all (including email and the bank website we use to pay our bills).  Whew!  *panting due to run on sentence*  So we decided to get basic DSL and bought a router at our local Radio Shack.  Funny thing is, this whole time we've lived in our house (4 years) we had no idea that it didn't have any phone jacks.  None.  So Zack pulled a handyman move and installed one.  In case you're wondering, the Smartphone was replaced by my sister's old LG slider keyboard phone.  Battery life is great and great working condition.  So there you have it - the whole thing took about 3.5 months.

So today was the first day without good ole Smartphone, and quite honestly I feel freed.  Liberated.  Torn from my shackles.  Also a bit silly.  It felt pretty ridiculous when I got my first call - I didn't know how to answer it and Zack had to remind me to press "Send".  I also felt pretty foolish when I was putting my contacts in (goodbye SIM card) and realized that I was punching the screen and getting annoyed that the cursor wasn't moving.  Ha ha, whoops, I guess I have to find some arrows.  Zack made the joke that "Maybe smartphones make dumb people".  If you're reading this, Zack, I didn't think it was funny.  I only laughed to be nice.

So all in all, I feel very good about this.  Having to turn the phone on and wait for it to run it's power on cycle, scan the SD card, search for service, and all the other things it has to do, will be just inconvenient enough that I won't pick it up every time I have 30 seconds of gap time.  Gap time is good and healthy. Not every 30 seconds of every day needs to be filled with something.  If I want to rest I'll just stare at a wall.  Also, I'm hoping that my new old phone will limit it's vies for attention to calls and texts.  I'll just have to wait until the afternoon to see who repinned my pins.  And I'm looking forward to having my children or maybe even God (get outta town!) be the first things I say hello to in the morning, not my facebook newsfeed.

Here's to smartphone liberation!

Monday, April 7, 2014

MONEY - beans week

Mmmmm, beans.  Mmmm, beans again.  Mmmm, more beans.
Beans.  They're cheap.  They're easy.  They're yummy.  They're cheap.  They're the staple of our menu this week.  We are doing a beans week again... guess why... take a guess... go ahead... because, they're cheap!  It's all about saving the dinero.  This round is a little different from our "refugee week" that we did a while back.  The refugee ration week was inspired by this article, and we ate refried beans (with only salt as a seasoning) and homemade flatbread and tortillas for a week.  At that time we were partially doing it as a solidarity exercise to connect in a small way to refugees around the world, and partly because it was very cheap and we ran out of food money in our envelope (darn you, Dave Ramsey!!!).  Well, we ran out of grocery money (don't worry, just until next payday) and so we are doing a beans week again.  (Did you hear that?  Mmff, pinching pennies makes my tummy growl.)  This time our lineup is inspired by this pinterest post of this article which was inspired by this article!  (Whew, don't you love that?)  We had a leeeeetle more money than last time, so we were able to get some fresh veggies and make it a little more sophisticated.  Not that solidarity is unsophisticated.  Solidarity rocks!  Go solidarity!  Hmmm, I got off topic.  Anyway, here's our little "plan" with recipes where it applies.

Step one: dump a bag of beans (whatever beans you want, we use about a pound of black beans) into the crockpot with lots of water to cook on low for several hours or overnight.  Add water as needed.  When done, drain them and save however many cups for your chili.  Mash the rest and add taco seasoning to taste (I make my own - recipe here) and cilantro (I use dried but fresh is better)

Day 1: Chili and cornbread
Chili recipe (adapted from More With Less  - A World Community Cookbook "Mexican Chili Beans" recipe)
   couple cups of beans you made the day before
   some chopped onions (don't you like my measures?  good stuff)
   2 tsp salt
   1 tsp petter
   2 tsp chili powder
   1 tsp dried leaf oregano
   1/4 tsp cumin
   3/4 c tomato paste
   1 c tomato sauce (wanna know a secret?  for the last two ingredients I used a quart of canned diced tomatoes and a few squirts of ketchup!  I thought it was tasty!)
Dump all above ingredients into a pot and heat that sucker up to almost boiling, ok, boiling is fine, too.  Noms!

Cornbread recipe (this time taken straight from More With Less)
Preheat oven to 400°
Mix together:
   1c cornmeal
   1c flour
   4 tsp baking powder
   1/2 tsp salt
   2 Tbsp brown sugar
   1/2 c dry milk powder (optional) (I did use buttermilk powder)
Make a well and add:
   2 beaten eggs
   1c milk
   1/4 c oil or melted shortening
Stir until just smooth.  Pour onto a greased 9x9 pan and bake 25 minutes.

Day 2: Nachos!
We piled plates of tortilla chips with dollops of our mashed beans, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, cheese, sour cream, and homemade ranch dressing.

Day 3: Taco Pizza (<----- p="" s="" that="" today="">Pizza crust made from Bisquick (taken from Betty Crocker's Quick and Easy cookbook from the "Fajita Pizza" recipe)
   1 1/2 cup Original Bisquick stirred together with 1/3 cup very hot water and pressed into a greased circular pizza pan
topped with: refried beans, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, crunched up chips, and cheese. Baked in a 450° oven for 12 min

Day 4: Burritos
beans and rice and tortillas and ... lettuce and tomatoes and whatever else

Day 5: Chili Mac (not sure what this is going to be, but it's the plan anyways)

So there you have it - an incomplete blogpost about our beans week including shady kinda recipes!  I hope you are inspired to come up with your own version!