friday favourites

Feeling like Lorelai Gilmore. 

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Hilarious links. Like this gem: Netflix & chill for parents

Purging clutter. And writing about it over at My Hectic Home.

Some weekend-related reading: This MacLean’s article entitled How the weekend has disappeared and why we need to take it back. This also ties nicely with what I was saying earlier this week about detoxing from my phone and being more present and detached in my day-to-day life or, more specifically, taking back some of my life. The author describes an idealistic scenario, “I talked to a lot of people about what makes a good weekend and discovered a few common threads: human connection, play, interaction with nature, exposure to beauty. It’s unrealistic to think we’re going to get that full 48 hours of respite, so it becomes about seeking those rejuvenating beats: maybe it’s just sitting under a tree in the parkette by the grocery store for a while, unplugged and purposeless.”

I hope you find some rejuvenating beats this weekend.

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writer’s workshop: insta-post

Instagram fun! Share a photo you took with Instagram this week and tell us what you love about it.

It’s finally spring around here and I got to feel it in my soul on Monday evening. While the wee one was at basketball, I took a walk behind the community centre and discovered a trail that led to a lake. It was completely unexpected and exactly what I needed. I listened to an acoustic playlist on Apple Music, took my time breathing in the fresh air and, quite frankly, enjoyed being alone (I’m never alone). There’s a lot to be said for spending 30 minutes like this.

 

Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writing prompt.

detox: the results

naked-smart-phone-addiction-dependency-confession-ecards-someecards-300x167I truly made a concerted effort to stay away from my phone this past week. It’s easier said than done in the way that we communicate. I don’t usually talk to my friends on the phone; we text. And while I don’t have sounds on my phone, I am disturbingly programmed to respond to the buzz-buzz of a new, incoming message.

While I know I’m addicted, I do want to make conscious decisions about my phone usage and break some of my bad habits. Generally, other people’s phone usage doesn’t tend to bother me (Mike’s fantasy baseball enthusiasm notwithstanding), but I hate the thought that someone else might feel that I’m not engaged with them due to my own phone use. Especially my kids.

Here’s the guide that I followed for my detox experiment:

Monday
Unfollow people who aren’t your real friends, unsubscribe from unwanted email lists and delete apps you don’t use. 

Step 1: This was a biggie. Unfollow anything you don’t need, basically. I started by unfollowing about 70 accounts on Instagram, including all celebrities. If there’s anything worth knowing, it’ll be shared on People magazine’s account, which I still follow, so that’s plenty.

It took awhile, but I unsubscribed to about 30 email accounts, most of which I imagine will save me money because I won’t be tempted by the latest deal at Old Navy or Victoria’s Secret. I also don’t need email notifications for things like Fitbit or LinkedIn, which I access in app form anyway.

I deleted a few people from Facebook, but not too many. I have my Facebook more or less paired down to the essential people anyway. My policy has always been that if I were to see you in the grocery store from afar and would make the choice to turn in the opposite direction rather than talk to you, that’s a pretty solid sign that we shouldn’t be friends on Facebook. I did, however, do an Instagram-style purge there, too, and unliked any page that wasn’t relevant to me directly and unfollowed the ones that I don’t need streaming into my feed. Do you know how many cooking videos I used to catch myself watching in the run of a day?

Tuesday
Turn off push notifications.

Step 2: I had actually already done for every app besides phone, iMessage and Facetime. It was my emails, both work and personal, that prompted me to do this a long time ago. I still check, but I don’t feel compelled to read every single email the second it arrives.

Wednesday
Resist the urge to look at your phone first thing in the morning.

Step 3: This was surprisingly tough. I just need to remind myself that if something urgent happens, someone will call, so unless the phone is ringing, the things happening on my phone can wait. The morning, especially Monday to Friday, represents a small sliver of time that I’m always with my family and I want to treat that opportunity with the respect that it deserves.

Thursday
Set up a charging station outside of your bedroom,
and don’t look at your phone an hour before bed.

Step 4: This might be my favourite. While I have very few notifications on my phone, it’s not uncommon that a text might come in around 10 p.m., and sometimes I’m already dozing off at that point. And if it happens to be on a thread with my four closest girlfriends, odds are good that several replies will follow. Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz. I often resist the urge to pick it up and read or weigh in, but it can be jarring enough. I circle back to the expectation that if anything urgent were to happen, someone would call me, so I added ringing sounds only for my phone and started charging my phone at night in the kitchen.

Step 4.5: Getting Mike to do the same has proven to be tricky. He uses his phone as our alarm clock, so it needs to be in the room. Thinking this weekend I’ll invest in an actual alarm clock to help encourage him to ditch his device at nighttime, too. He hasn’t been sleeping super well lately and it certainly doesn’t help when he’s checking baseball scores on his phone and stimulating his brain before he falls asleep or during the night if he wakes up.

Friday
Go out to dinner and leave your phone at home.

Step 5: This would never happen. If I’m away from my kids, I’m going to have my phone close by. Plus, I’d never go out without my phone for fear that the car would break down or another emergency might happen and I’d need to contact someone. That’s just the world we live in. That said, keeping our phones away from the kitchen when we’re eating family meals is also a must. They’re damn distracting. Plus, when the kids are old enough to have phones, I won’t be allowing them at the table, so why wouldn’t I uphold that rule myself?

Saturday
Spend the day not looking at or posting to social media.

Step 6: I had deleted my apps before, but got them again when I had a photo I wanted to post. A friend suggested keeping the apps, but signing out between uses to help curb random scrolling, so that’s what I did. No posts read or made on Saturday until … Gah, the kids were snuggling and I had to take a picture and post it! But in my defence, they were asleep, so it didn’t impact my time with them. However, it did mean that I was on my phone very close to my own bedtime, which means I broke step 4. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting better!

Sunday
Turn off your smartphone for the entire day.

Step 7: This goes back to step 5. I’m just not willing to turn my phone off for fear that an emergency would happen. We don’t have a home phone, so my iPhone is my only external link. But Sunday to Thursday are screen-free days in our home (more on that later), so there’s no reason why I can’t attempt to adhere to the same rule when it comes to my phone, namely designating the majority of the week to being detached from my phone.

My phone is a blessing and a curse. I love being in constant contact with the people I love, but I hate being tethered to social media. I definitely suffer from FOMO, but I am learning to let that go. This week was a great experiment and only reaffirmed my feelings. And as an added bonus, I think my appetite is curbed now that I’m not watching 85 cooking videos daily.

meal plan: april 24

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Here’s what we’re eating this week.

MONDAY (this plan has to be simple and quick because both boys play basketball on Monday): Butter chicken curry with the help of an Epicure spice mix, basmati rice and whatever mixed veggies happen to be in the freezer at the moment. Tonight, I’m going to reserve a little sauce and saute some chickpeas to make my own portion.

TUESDAY: Leftover ham from the weekend with baked potatoes and carrots. Tip: Microwave the potatoes for a minute or two before popping them in the oven to cut baking time in half on weeknights.

WEDNESDAY: Spaghetti with pre-made-and-frozen homemade sauce.

THURSDAY: Hodgepodge leftovers of all of the last few meals. This usually includes some kind of meat, rice and random veggies. This week, there may be some pasta there, too. The kids love it. When we have a mish mash of things, we call it snack plate. And it’s awesome.

FRIDAY: Pizza. Always pizza.

SATURDAY: Mexican fiesta. I love the Oh She Glows Crowd Pleasing Tex Mex Casserole SO much. It’s become a regular staple. Highly recommend it for a meat-free meal. This weekend, we’ll pair it with barbecued chicken and plate up some pita chips to go with it.

spring must haves

I haven’t followed along with Mama’s Losin’ It‘s writing prompts in years. It’s one of the things I missed about blogging — linking up with other writers like me and sharing stories. I’m mostly writing quietly in my own little corner of the world right now, but hopefully, someday I’ll be reconnected with some of the great voices out there.

The prompt that spoke to me this week was “Write a list of your spring must haves.”

Birkenstocks. My only pair were a gift from Mike for my “first” mother’s day when I was pregnant with Jacob, so almost exactly seven years ago. I’d say they’ve earned their keep, wouldn’t you? I got a pair of knock-offs last summer at Costco but they broke already. What does that tell you? I’m digging these ones:

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A mom bathing suit. I qualify that because not just any suit will do. A) It needs all kinds of upper body support because gravity. B) It needs to be respectable and in no way skanky because public pools. C) It has to look good because I’m not only a mom (and one piece because stretch marks). This is the magical, unknowable trifecta of bathing suit awesomeness that I’m actually going to have to shop for, which means trying them on and well, I’m not nearly tanned enough for that. So basically I’m looking for the perfect suit to show up on my doorstep. Who can make that happen for me? I can’t even include a photo of this because it’s basically a unicorn.

Fresh flowers in the house all the time. My faves are tulips right now, but anything colourful will do!

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New songs for my Get Outside playlist. I need to start walking and running on a more regular basis and the weather is no longer a limitation. What songs would you recommend that would help me with my get-up-and-go?

detox

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When I’m all warm and fuzzy with goals and optimism at the
beginning of the year, I make a new Pinterest board with the things I’m planning to do. I recently revisited that board and realized that more than a quarter of 2017 has passed and I haven’t really completed any of the pinned items. So I took a little time and deleted several that seem to be less important and picked a few to start on. The one I had forgotten about but was most excited to try was the seven-day smartphone detox.

Last month, I actually deleted my social media apps from my phone for a couple weeks. It was freeing. I still checked Facebook and Instagram on my computer, but I didn’t feel the need to just check quickly each time I picked up my phone. Eventually, my initiative was sidelined when I took a cute photo of one of the kids and, in order to share it, I downloaded Instagram again. And then when I realized that not all of my closest family and friends use that channel, I also downloaded Facebook to share the photo there. I’ve kept the apps and have slowly crept back into the habit of checking both regularly.

So to renew the goal of not wasting time on my phone unnecessarily, I’m going to work my way through this simple detox and will check back in a week to report on my findings.

Step #1: Unfollow people who aren’t your real friends, unsubscribe from unwanted email lists, and delete apps you don’t use.

Admit it. You’re going to check to see if I unfriended you.

 

friday favourites

Holidays: The best thing about this Friday? Not working, of course. Holla, long weekend!

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(For people like Oprah, not me, since I work Monday. Booooo)

Trying new recipes: I made a Brazillian-inspired rice and chickpea dish for book club last week that was super tasty. I didn’t even get to enjoy any leftovers because Mike ate it all before I had a chance! My little sous chef, Isaac, and I tried a new cookie recipe, which turned out really well. We prefer our cookies nice and chewy, which these are. I also attempted a slow-cooker pork roast, but it was only so-so. The flavour didn’t really absorb well and the whole thing was a little on the dry side (feedback courtesy of my meat eaters, naturally).

Tex-Mex: Speaking of food … my new edition of Food Network magazine is Tex Mex themed! It’s like they literally wrote it just for me.

IMG_3545Multi-province-and-state Fitbit challenges: I’m in Nova Scotia, mum is in New Brunswick, my cousin is in Maine and my aunt is in North Carolina, yet the four of us talk almost daily (sometimes it’s trash talk) on our Fitbit challenges. We’re motivating each other to get moving while also staying closely linked while we are geographically far apart. Isn’t technology grand?

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Yeah, I do that.

Blogging all over the interweb: I’m writing in other places! And I’m excited!

So. This story is ridiculous and I felt reeeally bad, but luckily Mike was completely understanding and the kids … well , they go to stay up until 10 p.m., so they definitely weren’t complaining. The full story is available for your reading pleasure over at My Hectic Home.

We also recently handed the table-clearing gauntlet to Jacob and I’m already looking for other tasks I can permanently assign to the kids. Read more about that here.