Freedom Part 2

Day 6

There is a price to pay for being more active and it comes in the form of giant blood blisters on the back of my feet. Seriously these things are the size of quarters. That will teach me for trying to walk instead of drive! Clearly my winter boots weren’t meant for strolling any longer than five minutes. As much as they hurt I need to keep moving. If I stop they hurt more. So now my house is extra extra clean and I am exhausted! My library card is also getting quite the workout. I think I have been there at least six times in the last two weeks. Callum is requesting books which is a nice change of pace. Usually he only wants to rent movies.

Day 7

Life without social media or tv is much easier than I thought it would be. The first day or two was weird because it is just second nature to plunk down on the couch and watch the tube while simultaneously scrolling through my phone. Now that limits have been put in place I feel more connected to the family. We have time for each other. During dinner the tv stays off so no one (mostly me)  feels like need to get back to their show. We sit and talk about our day and what we are thankful for.  Everyone seems calmer and happier. I have started to read the news online again and it is giving me heart pains. I like being well informed about what is going on in the  world but this is seriously too much. I would prefer sticking my head in the sand. What is happening in this world is terrifying. How can I explain to my kids that Muslims aren’t bad when the President just banned them because they might be terrorists? My kids are sweet and couldn’t care less about whether someone is black or white or brown, or what religion they are. They don’t care if they speak a different language or wear a niqab. If you’re a nice person then they will want to befriend you. My worry is that when you hear something like Muslims are bad over and over again you can start to believe it. I can only undo so much of that damage. when you have a world leader telling you to be wary it seems to hold a lot of sway with children.

Day 8

Callum’s punishment is over today. He was only grounded for a week. I really should have made it a month. From the second he woke up this morning all he has talked about it getting back on his ipad. I was hoping a week away from it would have made him forget. Oh I am such a fool! I’m nervous about letting him back on. It’s a slippery slope. Plus he gets super nasty when you tell him his ipad time is done. He has massive freak outs that can last upwards of two hours. Wish me luck

Day 9

I tried really hard to distract Cal so he wouldn’t go on his ipad. He saw through that charade pretty darn quickly. I ended up giving him twenty minutes to play. You would have thought I had given him a million dollars. He was so happy. He also did really well when it was time to hand over the ipad. He tried to wheel and deal to get a few extra minutes but didn’t break down when I said no. I feel like that’s progress.

Day 10

Today all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch tv. I didn’t do it but it was a struggle. Folding laundry while sitting in silence sucks. Usually I would have a cooking show on. Not today. I’ve been okay not being on social media. I don’t miss it at all. I am just so bored. It’s cold. I hate the cold. I do not want to be outside. I really wish it was spring. This would be so much easier if I could be in my garden. My house has never been cleaner, I have read four books and knit two scarves. I am getting all my work done and then some. I am volunteering at the kid’s school and I have never been more organized or slept better. I feel happier but I can not escape the fact that I am bored to tears. The hours just seem to drag on. The urge to watch tv just to pass some time is really difficult to get through today.

Day 14

Well it has been two weeks since my self imposed exile from social media and television and I must say I am in no rush to get back to it. Yes I am bored on occasion but overall life feels better without all the chaos from the news or the anger spewed on social media. As much as I like knowing what is happening in my friend’s lives I think I will just stick to talking to them from now on instead of getting updates through Facebook.

As for my eye sight, it has improved dramatically! I no longer feel like my eyes are dry and straining to see. I’m not getting headaches and my neck doesn’t hurt from having my head down looking at my phone.

The kids are having a much harder time. Since I allowed them back on, and despite the limits that have been set, I can see the addiction beginning again. My kids are like me. It’s all or nothing. There is no in between. So needless to say the tech ban is back on for them. I can’t blame them for the addiction. They are constantly surrounded by it. At school they play computer games during math class. When their friends come over they bring their ipads or phones and then they just stare at screens and occasionally make some kind of grunting noise at each other.

Technology is important. It connects the world and has made our lives so much easier but at the same time it is a vampire. It sucks up our time and energy. I am definitely going to steer clear of it for a while longer.

 

 

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Pesto Pasta

 

We waste too much food. At the end of the week I always find shrivelled up veggies and herbs. Leftovers that have seen better days and it’s guaranteed something mysterious is lurking in a Tupperware container.

Enough of this madness I say! I need to start using what we have instead of constantly running to the grocery store.

This week I had left over chicken, basil, penne and grape tomatoes. They needed to be used asap.

Luckily I remembered a delicious meal my friend Joanne made for us when Callum got home from the hospital. Penne Pasta with chicken, pesto and sun dried tomatoes.

I lacked pesto and sundried tomatoes so I had to improvise.

Pesto is one of the easiest things in the world to make. You will need:

1 cup basil leaves

1 clove of garlic

3 tablespoons of olive oil

a small handful of pine nuts or any nut you happen to have on hand

Typically pine nuts are lightly toasted and cooled before being added to the pesto. I didn’t have pine nuts but I did have walnuts so that’s what I used. To brown the nuts put them in a sauté pan. No oil is needed. Swirl them around for a few minutes until you can smell them. Take them off the heat to cool. I always stop cooking them once I can smell them toasting because they can go from nicely cooked to burnt and bitter in a matter of seconds.

Puree everything together. Add oil until it is smooth and you can’t see any large chunks.

Instead of sundried tomatoes I made oven dried. You will need:

1 table spoon olive oil

Grape tomatoes

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon sugar

Pre heat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half and toss in the sugar, oil and seasoning. I put the tomatoes on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet lined with tin foil. If you would prefer you can just put them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. They will be a bit soggy though.

Let the tomatoes cook for an hour. Check on them after 30 minutes to make sure they aren’t browning too quickly.

 

Cook your penne or whatever pasta you choose until it is al dente.

Toss the pasta, pesto, chicken and tomatoes together and put in a casserole dish. I like to grate mozzarella on top. Cook at 350 until the cheese is melted and the chicken is warm.

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This is a great make ahead meal! It also reheats nicely too so you don’t have to worry about leftovers going to waste. Well to be honest there may not be leftovers. Chris and Sofie both had two helpings because it is so tasty.

Enjoy!

 

 

Freedom

 

Day 2 of going tech free has not been easy. Cal came home sick and within three minutes of being home started crying that he didn’t know how to be sick without his ipad. Fair enough. Anytime he is ill he spends all day in front of a screen. As I am writing this he is bawling and telling me how mean I am because I won’t let him watch a rainbow loom tutorial on YouTube. Clearly he isn’t taking his punishment well.

At 4 Chris and I went for a walk before starting dinner because there was nothing else to do. The house was clean, I had finished all the work I needed to do and the kids were happy laying in bed reading. It feels like we have pressed the reset button on our family.

It still feels weird to lay in bed and read. Even Chris read  tonight. That never ever happens. Cal was actually asleep before ten. Either the lack of screen time is doing him some good or he still isn’t feeling well. We shall see.

I’m starting to realize just how much I relied on the TV for entertainment, to alleviate boredom, or to just be back ground noise. It is so quiet all the time. It’s kind of nice.

Day 3

It is 10:30 am and Sofie still hasn’t turned on her phone. I’m not even sure at this point that she remembers she has a phone. The kids are in bed playing with their rainbow looms and giggling away. Earlier this morning they were snuggling in bed reading and drawing together. So far there have been zero requests for ipads.

I made the kids go for a walk with me tonight. They played a spelling game the whole time. I must be in the twilight zone.

Day 4

At exactly 8:01 last night Callum called me upstairs to put him to bed. Ummmmm what the heck is going on??? He actually stayed in bed all night too! Sofie on the other hand seems more alert than ever.

I seriously can not believe the personality change in Callum. He seems happier and more content. I am really enjoying it. Sof and Cal spent the day playing with their looms again. I didn’t hear anything about ipads.

I’ve decided I need to walk more. I’m going to start walking to showings if they are in the neighbourhood. I usually walk in the summer but never in the winter. The cold and I are mortal enemies. No one likes a realtor that shows up looking like a mess because of the wind but it’s good for my health and good for the environment so it’s what’s going to happen.

Day 5

Cal and I went for a nice long hike this morning. He wants to be a tour guide so he was practicing his skills. On our way back we stopped off at my parents. Up until this point I had been unaware of what was going on in the world. I had zero stress. A nuclear attack could be imminent and I would have no clue. Ahhhh ignorance really is bliss. My parents gave me the low down on what has been going on in the States. It makes me feel sick. When will they realize that demonizing an entire sect of people doesn’t counter act terrorism. It turns you into the terrorist. In the evening I heard there was a shooting at a Mosque in Quebec. Come on Canada! We are better than that!

I am so sad for everyone that is being hurt by all this chaos and hatred. No one should live in fear of being hurt or denied basic human rights because of their religion. It is 12:45 and I can’t sleep. I have lived in a bubble for days and now it has burst. To everyone affected by these policies and hate crimes my heart goes out to you.

 

My Addiction

My name is Sarah and I am addicted to technology.

It all started out so innocently

I traded in my Blackberry for an IPhone and suddenly a whole new world opened up. I no longer needed my computer or an Ipad or even the tv.

We constantly tell our kids to get off their Ipads or stop watching tv and to go outside and play while sitting on the couch staring at our phones barely making eye contact. The lack of eye contact on our part is probably for the best since our twelve year old gives a mean death glare that I want no part of.

Of course the kids called us on our hypocrisy, but we always said we needed our phones or computers for work purposes. I would say this of course while hiding the screen from them because I was playing Candy Crush.

Last week Callum got caught with my old IPhone at school. It doesn’t have any service but he can still play games on it or surf the web if he has wifi. He snuck it into his back pack and was playing with it while in class. It occurred to me then that he has an addiction. The thought has donned on me before. When we go to gymnastics which is maybe a two minute drive up the street and he throws a fit when I say no to him bringing his Ipad I have definitely thought “wow this kid has problems with technology!” But when you start sneaking it even though you know it’s wrong it is time to take action.

We cut Callum off all technology for a week. He was not at all pleased. No computer, no Ipad, Ipod or IPhone and tv is limited to an hour a day. After I had handed down his punishment I went back to simultaneously watching tv while looking at random people’s pictures on Instagram. That’s when it hit me. I am addicted too.

I’m also having problems with my vision. My eyes hurt all the time and it is getting harder to read things without the words being blurry. I suspect it is from staring at a screen so much.

Full disclosure…This addiction is hurting my marriage. We spend so much time engrossed in whatever is on our screens that we forget to pay attention to each other. At night we lay in bed on our phones either scrolling through social media or texting other people and we can go for an hour or more without saying a single thing to each other. Well maybe Chris talks but I’m distracted and so I don’t respond. We will binge watch old Law and Order episodes which means we can go for hours without speaking. It’s not good. We go out to dinner and our phones are on the table because what if a client calls me or a store needs to get a hold of Chris. It doesn’t occur to us that life will continue if we miss a call or don’t send an email response immediately.

The first thing I do in the morning is reach for my phone and check emails, Facebook and twitter. From there I go downstairs and turn on the Today show so I can listen to the news while I make lunches and have breakfast. The tv stays on most of the day if I am home because I like the noise. I can also spend hours lost on Instagram or reading through tweets about Donald Trump.

I made the decision Tuesday that we are all going tech free for two weeks. I got some angry looks when I brought this up but tough luck kiddos.

Yesterday was the first day since I joined Facebook that I didn’t look at it. I didn’t go on Twitter and I didn’t watch tv.  My day was blissfully stress free. I didn’t read any articles that got my blood boiling. I didn’t see anything on Instagram or Facebook that made me feel like my life sucked or that I wasn’t beautiful. No online shopping for stuff I really don’t need and just want. I sat in silence and read a magazine while having my lunch. Usually I watch tv on the couch while I eat. While I cooked I listened to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Before bed I read a book. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t fall asleep with the tv on. It was the most peaceful I have felt in a really long time.

I am still using my phone for communication purposes and of course my computer for work and to check emails. Day two has been going well so far. I still have the compulsion to press on the icons and scroll through social media. I have to remind myself that I’m going cold turkey on this. There is more to my life than what is going on in other people’s lives.

The kids are handling it well for now. Callum actually went to bed okay last night which almost never happens. Maybe it is because his little brain wasn’t overly stimulated.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how our tech free journey pans out. Yes the kids will still be using it at school, that is something that I can not stop, but at home they will for sure be tech free. I plan on keeping a journal of how I feel and how the kids manage for the next two weeks which I will share on the blog.

Wish us luck!

 

Birthday Boy Cinnamon Buns

 

Wow! I can not believe it has been almost a year since my last post!

I keep meaning to sit down and write but sometimes I can’t find a spare minute in the day or some days I just have nothing to say.

2016 was a very interesting year and I don’t just mean in politics. Personally I had some really great times and some very low lows. Some of you may know that my little man Callum was very sick over the summer. It started out as a kidney infection that landed him in the hospital. The infection went rogue and turned septic. I can honestly say that experience was one of the worst of my life. I felt helpless and scared. I was watching my baby boy slipping away and there wasn’t a thing I could do to fix it. Miraculously the amazing doctors he had managed to find the right kind of antibiotics for him and now he is totally fine.

Callum bounced back quickly but it took me months before I could get over how close we came to losing him. Even writing this post is bringing tears to my eyes because it is so difficult to think about. January 8 was his eighth birthday and I can’t even begin to explain how happy I was that we got to celebrate it with him. Even though he is totally fine I am still so scared. Some days I feel like a crazy person because he gets a stomach ache and I feel like I have to watch him like a hawk and baby him because what if he gets sick again. The mommy guilt of not knowing he was so sick initially lives on and I think it will for a while.

Needless to say he was totally spoiled for his birthday. Like I said I was just so happy he was around to celebrate it that I would have found a way to have given him the moon if he had asked for it.

The kids always get a special birthday breakfast. This year Cal asked for Cinnamon buns. Usually I would just run out to the grocery store and buy a pack but this year I wanted to make them myself. As I get older I find I can’t tolerate store bought things the way I used to .  Everything is either too sweet or it tastes like chemicals. This recipe is fantastic and I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to make them. Just 50 minutes from start to finish.

Quick Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients for Dough

2 and 1/2 – 3/4 cups all-purpose flour ( Depending on the humidity of your house you may need less flour. My house is dry as a bone so I only used 2 1/2 cups. In the summer I would have to use more)

3 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 package instant yeast

½ cup water

¼ cup milk

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large egg

Filling

¼ cup   softened but not melted unsalted butter

2 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 Tablespoons milk or coffee

Instructions

 In a  mixing bowl, mix the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast together. Set aside. In a small microwavable bowl, heat the water, milk, and butter together in the microwave until the butter is melted about 45 seconds. Stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture. Add the egg and knead using your stand mixer stand mixer for 3-4 minutes or until the dough is no longer sticky. If kneading by hand sprinkle a small amount of flour onto the surface and knead for 5-7 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl and let rest for about 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and turn off after 10 minutes

After the dough has rested for 5 minutes, roll it out in a 15×9 inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter on top. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle it all over the dough. Roll up the dough tightly and cut into 9 even pieces. Place in a lightly greased square pan. I used parchment as well just to keep the pan clean. Lightly cover with plastic wrap.

 

Make sure the oven is off and place the cinnamon buns (with the plastic wrap on)in the oven to rise for 20 minutes.

Remove the plastic wrap and turn on the oven to 375F. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before topping with the glaze.

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There are two ways to make a glaze. The first is super simple. Mix the powdered sugar, vanilla and 2 Tablespoons milk together until smooth and lump free and pour it on to the rolls. The second way is a bit more time consuming but delish especially if you are a fan on Cinnabon. You will need:

1/2 Cup salted butter
8oz Cream cheese
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 Cup milk
4 1/2 Cup Powdered sugar

Cream the butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla, milk and powdered sugar. Cover your mixer with a tea towel so the sugar doesn’t make a mess of your kitchen. Mix for a few minutes until smooth. Spread onto warm rolls.

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I hope every one enjoys these as much as my family and I did. They are easy enough to make on a weekday and I have no doubt that they will be requested often!