22 February 2014

Cutting the Cord: Goodbye to Cox Cable

http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=L4ELUu_Oo-1p8M&tbnid=oNQaiMitnX7ujM:&ved=0CAMQjhw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.flickr.com%2Fphotos%2Fdarkstream%2F3404310598%2F&ei=AbAHU5LgLurR2QW1t4DIAg&psig=AFQjCNElDm-11cxRCleyViH_t2uqjSoMdQ&ust=1393099122553855
Static Noise by Douglas Cootey on Flickr
After 3+ years as a Cox cable customer (and 3 years before that as a Time Warner customer and probably 3 years before that as a Cox (?) customer in Maryland and Virginia ... and I can't even guess what the cable company was called in Stillwater, but say another 2 years there after I moved out of the dorms), I've been talked into cutting the cord. It isn't that we can't afford to keep it. It's that we're choosing not to.

Our promotional rate, which was the bundle for phone, internet and cable, expired. And the customer service rep didn't care to renegotiate with us like they did last year. So the logical thing to do, rather than pay $200+ for all three services was to drop cable, especially as it's the most expensive and we get a discount on the internet no matter what (thanks, LSU).

I mainly use cable for the DVR -- and I watch network shows, some USA, TNT and TBS. That's it. I don't watch HGTV or Food Network anymore. I also couldn't record all the shows I wanted (only two at a time, and Wednesday has become a packed night for shows I like). We rarely watch sports. It seems like a lot to pay for content that's mostly available otherwise streaming on the Internet.

Or that I could learn to do without.

Yikes.

The cable was supposed to be cut off on Wednesday. So far it hasn't, but I know I'll dissolve a bit when it does. And I have until next Wednesday or Thursday to return the cable box.

Because of the Olympics my regular shows aren't even on. Next week, the first one without cable and with new episodes of my shows will be my true test. We should still have over-the-air access to the network stations, but I can't get to the TV by 7 when prime time starts. And with no way to even record my favorites (like, is a VCR even a possibility any more?) I'm going to be relying heavily on weeks later streaming online, which I know doesn't work for every show.

I really wish I had a hookup for the TV that would make it like a computer screen, i.e. that I could connect to network websites and watch shows that way once they're available. I have a Roku (thanks, Grandma Dale), so I can watch Amazon Prime and other content (PBS, etc.) on the TV but it doesn't provide a full browsing experience.  I've been looking at stand-alone DVRs, which you would think exist as a replacement for VCRs, and haven't been able to find one that seems right (or that doesn't have a monthly fee attached -- without even giving access to content).

I am trying not to be a sheep. But gosh, I love being a sheep and having my TV content available when I'm ready for it.

21 February 2014

TIBTIL: Trader Joe's Instant Coffee

If you're a coffee snob, ignore this post.

I have plenty to write about, but I've been feeling unbelievably craggy lately -- anxious and crabby, dreadful and sulky. Most unattractive. Possibly related to the swinging temperatures and weather. But I digress.

Our Trader Joe's opened in October, and I have been a handful of times, usually to stock up on things (great organic peanut butter for Jane and stuff for my mom since her nearest TJ's is hours away). But the thing I bought that I love is their instant coffee.

I'm still having my negative reaction to coffee made at our house otherwise (even after cleaning the coffee maker thoroughly and trying different coffee). It just doesn't taste right. (Give me a latte from anywhere and I'm sailing though, so maybe I just need to add more milk ... anyway.)

I bought the TJ's instant coffee on a whim when I was grabbing stuff just before a storm. It ended up being delightful. It's definitely instant, but with fat free half & half is definitely drinkable to me, and I actually like it better than any stuff I've made in the coffee pot lately. So I thought I'd share that find in case anyone else is looking for a good way to make single cups of coffee without too much trouble.

16 February 2014

Road Tripping Toddler

This may be the only photo I took of Jane
on Valentine's Day 2014
Jane and I survived 24+ hours together in the car this week. We went to Oklahoma for my great aunt's funeral. I was very glad we went because the service was healing for me, as was being with my family and other people to whom Norma Lee had been very important. It always nourishes my soul to see Owen and Gran and Gingie and Aunt B.

The travel was less nourishing, as so much driving is utterly exhausting. Jane was a champ, and she read, colored and listened to songs all the way. She didn't sleep at all on the way there, despite a 5:45 a.m. wake up call and monotonous landscapes, cold temperatures and cloudy skies (see video below). I'll never understand her ability to fight off sleep even in a moving car.

On the way home she did grab a 30-45 minute power nap after lunch. It was sunny and much warmer, but I wised up and on the advice of my friend (with whom Jane stayed during the funeral) -- unlike on the way there I didn't engage with her, turned off the music and didn't keep handing her books/toys when I wanted her to nap. She fussed a little but not so much that I couldn't stand it. Jane is used to sleeping in darkness, so she threw her lovey over her head and slept until she got too hot to sleep any more. Her poor head was all sweaty. I'm sure even the short nap helped and took the edge off slightly.

I used some of the same tricks as during our Christmas drive, although I wasn't able to help her with anything during the drive and she can't do the gel clings for a while because she sometimes puts them in her mouth! Nunga. She did color some on this trip, and thankfully when she started coloring herself she only had washable crayons available. Good grief.

We checked out a few CDs from the library, which were good. Jane likes listening to songs but not stories. If I put on a non-song CD or track on my iPod she would just say "SONGS. SONGS." over and over again. Toward the end she had fallen in love with this song by Ernie, "Up Goes the Castle," and requested it on repeat by calling for the "QUEEN SONG." I'll be glad to return that CD.

It took closer to 13 hours to get home, thanks to Baton Rouge traffic and me needing to potty so frequently (at least it seemed more frequently). Also because the weather was warmer we were able to stop at a couple playgrounds, which may have added a bit of time too. Worth it though.

I assume by tomorrow, two full days home, we'll be back to normal, but I think we're both still dragging a little bit even today.

video 
Part of the snowy drive in Texas en route to Oklahoma on Tuesday Feb. 11.

10 February 2014

In Memory

Norma Lee and me, Christmas 2013
An old post of some of the things I learned from my great aunt Norma Lee.

07 February 2014

Amtrak Rewards Expiring

I got a message from Amtrak saying my membership rewards were going to expire because I haven't taken an Amtrak trip in three years.

Oh, the passage of time.

That means it's coming up on three years that we've been gone from New York. And since I lived in New York a little less than three years I have lived in Baton Rouge about the same time. I certainly feel more rooted here -- home owner, in a church community a bit more here, etc. I'll always love New York as the place we started married life and lived the DINK life (double income, no kids). I wouldn't trade my life now for anything though!

Anyway, back to Amtrak.

There isn't really a way for me to take a trip on Amtrak here that I can see. Maybe New Orleans to Chicago? And I'm not thinking I want to do that. I also don't want to take the train from New Orleans to the East Coast. (I should have taken that DC to NYC trip with Jane while we were there in October, but who had the time ... or the money for the hotel once we were in NYC?)

So I guess goodbye to my points.

BUT I was able to redeem most of the points I had accumulated (and I gathered almost all of them via trips for work back and forth from NYC to DC -- I did work for a living once!). I got a $50 gift card and had a few choices. I ended up picking a restaurant just because I like dining out. A bit of redeemer's remorse though, as I kind of wish I'd just gotten the Lowe's card for Shawn. (Target and Amazon weren't options.)

06 February 2014

Recipe: Un-stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole

I really like stuffed bell peppers. I hadn't made them for a while, but at my mother-in-law's in October they had a bumper crop of peppers that needed to be used so we made some. YUM. I've made them a couple-three times at home since, and while not a hard recipe it does dirty a lot of dishes.

I read a recipe in All You once for a bell pepper casserole to give the same taste without as much work. I made the recipe as is, and it seemed to take a lot of work (like cooking the rice separately). I have my favorite stuffed bell pepper recipe from my mom, and I decided to use the same ingredients (actually doubled though) to make a casserole with bell peppers mixed in instead of stuffed. Here's what I did:

Browned 1 package of ground turkey (1.25 lbs) with 1 diced onion and 3 diced bell peppers until meat was brown and the veggies were soft. Then I added one ~14 oz can of diced tomatoes, 2/3 cup rice, 1 cup water, 2 TB Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp dried basil (original recipe says or oregano) and salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, then cut the heat to simmer for ~15 minutes. Then I stirred in 1/2 cup or so of shredded cheese and dumped the whole thing into a casserole dish sprayed with Pam (I used a small square one, probably 9x9). I baked it for ~15 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Then sprinkled on more cheese, because come on, let it melt for about a minute then dished it up.

Scrumptious, and enough for leftovers for lunch the next day. It still dirties two dishes (the skillet and the casserole), but no separate pot for boiling the peppers for stuffing or making the rice like in the All You recipe. I was just pleased as punch with it, and I wanted to get it down somewhere in case I forget. (Although I did forget to take a picture of it!)

04 February 2014

Migraine Hangover

On Sunday evening I started coming down with a yuck headache -- not surprising since I had been feeling well for about a day after the whammo cold of last week. That's just my luck, I mean. It was concentrated on the right side of my head, mostly in the back, but I just popped some nighttime Tylenol and went to bed. (I'm really taking advantage of my newfound ability to take drugs again!)

Of course that was a night Jane was having trouble sleeping too. I was zonked out of it but also my head was throbbing despite the Tylenol so I couldn't really move and Shawn had to take care of her -- and therefore get way less sleep than he needed. The next day I pushed myself out of bed so he could get to work, and promptly felt 10 times worse after he'd gone.

I pushed through the nausea to make Jane's breakfast, fought with her to start eating it and then laid down on the couch, wishing for a couple more hours of sleep and for the ibuprofen I took to kick in. My head never did feel much better that morning, although after a couple hours of laying on the couch and doing my best to keep Jane from completely destroying the house I felt well enough to look at my Kindle Fire. At lunch I ate cream cheese and crackers (health food, right?) and drank some DDP with more ibuprofen. Caffeine for the win, as I progressively got better as the afternoon wore on.

The headache didn't fully go away but it was more manageable, there was no nausea and I didn't have the intense fatigue of the morning. Jane put me through my paces with no nap and begging for "exercises." I let her watch her videos even though I was too sick to work out. I felt guilty about the no exercise day, but given that I could barely bend over without excruciating pain to my head I figured it was prudent to skip a day. I also didn't do any of my chores and basically laid about.

We webcammed with Aunt B, who's snowed in, and she suggested a migraine. I looked it up and it seems plausible, although it certainly wasn't entirely debilitating like I know some people's are. I hope I don't have to experience it again -- or if I do it's when I have child care help!

I've caught up today -- exercise and chores. We went to Walmart to search for a toy baby bottle and a new booster seat. I found both, but was disappointed when I opened the booster seat box and saw part of the plastic shattered. It shouldn't be a big deal to return it, but I still feel personally affronted somehow. What a crazy, I know. If Jane rests or doesn't seem too crabby patty we'll attempt to take care of that this afternoon. Then I have a church meeting at 6. After yesterday hobbling around the house and hardly moving today I'm keeping busy, and I'm certainly glad to be feeling better. I hope it stays this way for a while!

02 February 2014

Winter Crochet

I made a few motifs during the sneauxpocolypse here. I've also been working on a baby sweater that may or may not fit Jane (and may or may not actually work out -- but I'll detail those woes in the post I write when it's finished).

I think my favorite motif was this Irish lace three-layered flower, the pattern from a crochet book I checked out from the library. Instead of three different colors, I just used one thread, which is variegated -- leftover from her purple swing set cardigan. I sewed it (badly) onto a hair clip we had, and Jane actually kept it in her hair a bit. Sweet!

I deleted my last post "Kindness" because it seemed absolutely unnecessary and self-pitying. People are very kind to me, and I remember those kindnesses. My sloppily made point was more about my mindset to be down on myself and feel alone. Thinking back on so many gratitudes helped change my attitude, at least a little bit!