I am addicted to social media- and you probably are too.

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People take Facebook breaks all the time. They post a status update saying that they’re leaving for a month or a week or a weekend. A lot of people will “like” that post. Here’s the thing though- nobody cares. Sorry! They just don’t. They’ll either see things you post or they won’t. Nobody (maybe except really close friends or that aunt you have with only 5 Facebook friends) is going to notice. If someone really needs to contact you, they’ll figure out how to do so if you don’t immediately respond to whatever they send you on Facebook.

So anyway- I’ve been on a Facebook break and yes, you don’t care. You haven’t missed me. I get it. Not offended in the least.

I knew for quite a while that Facebook was taking up way too much of my time. I deleted the app from my devices, but then I would just log on via the web browser- which you can’t delete. And then if I decided to stop using Facebook for a while, I would start obsessing over my Instagram feed.

Hello everyone, I am a social media addict.

I thought it was just a problem with me and having an issue with self-control. I thought maybe it was a problem with me being an “Obliger” according to Gretchen Rubin- I needed the constant validation of others to feel worthy. I thought it might be me numbing myself to cope with stress.

Then I listened to episode 208 of the Slow Home Podcast called “The Age of Distraction and what to do about it.” It was inspired by an article posted by the Guardian called “Our minds can be hijacked: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia”   about the very people who engineered social media apps to be addictive imposing controls on themselves to prevent themselves from having their time sucked away from them like the rest of us. I don’t think I realized, before reading this article, that the apps had actually been intentionally designed to keep me on them for as long as possible. They have been created to be addictive- on purpose.

In my graduate program for speech pathology, we had a professor explain to us that the best way to give positive feedback to a client is using “the Vegas method.” It’s less effective to say “nice work” or “good job” after every correct production than it is to say it sometimes and withhold it other times. This is what behaviorist B.F. Skinner called variable ratio reinforcement- and it’s what makes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the rest of them addictive. It’s also why gambling is addictive.

You log in to Facebook and sometimes you see that red bubble indicating you have notifications. That’s a reward. You check your notifications- and one of them is a comment on a post you’ve made. That’s a good reward. Another is about how a friend of yours is going to an event in your area you’re not interested in. Not interesting- not reinforcing. Another is that someone has posted something in a group you’re a part of (and you haven’t figured out how to turn off that notification- or you’ve tried several times and it hasn’t worked…) also not interesting. Another is that several friends have “liked” a post of yours. That’s a good reward. Sometimes you get the good reward- sometimes you don’t. It’s thrilling. It’s exciting. Gimme more.

You pull down on your Instagram feed to refresh it- hoping you’ll get something interesting. Sometimes you’ll get a new post from someone you follow- good reward- sometimes you’ll get an ad- not good. Sometimes you get nothing- sometimes you get something great. Not unlike pulling the lever on a slot machine. The pull-down-to-refresh is a gimmick engineered to be addictive.

It is intentional. Tech developers attend conferences about how to make their products “habitual.”

“How dare they?” is what Brooke McAlary of the Slow Home Podcast said. I said it too. Like her, I also got very angry. This is what finally made me quit. I realized that my attention had been hijacked by people who did not deserve it.

The article suggests bigger implications of these mind-hijack effects- about a war over attention. People consume media in 140 character bites. They elected the guy who captured their attention best on Twitter. It quotes James Williams- an “ex-Google strategist,” talking about the sensationalization of the news when it is boiled down to headlines-only. He said “We’ve habituated ourselves into a perpetual cognitive style of outrage, by internalising the dynamics of the medium.” I think “perpetual outrage” is a good way to describe my Facebook feed.

So anyway-it’s not just you and it’s not your fault. Now you know and you can take steps to take back your attention and give it to people and projects which are more deserving. I will be writing another post about what happens when you give up social media and what has helped me. What has helped you? Please leave a comment here (not on the Facebook post- because that will help me continue to stay off it…!).

 

 

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yr dead. im sry

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I’ve driven behind a few of these vans:

ambulnz

And the “a” is a sideways heart. It’s a cute ambulance. It also makes me think the driver is texting. I looked at their website and got more confused… like it’s Lyft for ambulances… because the original Lyft for ambulances (911?) isn’t working.

Here are some exchanges btw ambulnz drivers and passengers:

Hey ambulnz, I broke my leg and need a ride

🙀Ok lmao, brb

Hey ambulnz, I’m having a ❤️ attack

😵OMG NO WAY!!!

Yeah- this sucks. Can u pick me up?

Srsly ?

Yeah!

Ok eta FAST!

Bullet Journals

Who TF has time to “bullet journal.” Seriously. How many books could you read in the time it takes you to draw your “Books to Read” page and logging it on your index and covering it in washi tape and then recording on another page what you did on Wednesday during your “bullet journaling hour”? Somebody get me off of Pinterest.

I heart kites

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I got two kites for Christmas and I love them. I seriously get a dopamine hit every time I feel the wind catch them and they jump up in the air. It’s also awesome that I got to enjoy a beach day in January. And that most of LA thought it was too cold and stayed home.

I could watch this video on loop all day. Here’s some zen for you:

You’re welcome.

Curried Potato and Lentil Soup- recipe review

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This recipe from Minimalist Baker was brought to me by my sister-in-law at Adventures in Polishland and it’s now in our regular rotation. It also happens to be vegan! Except I make it with chicken broth instead of vegetable stock because I always have chicken bouillon in my pantry- unless I’m cooking for someone who is vegan.

lentil soup

One tip that I learned from making it again this week- don’t freeze and reuse kale. Ick… it tasted like seaweed and I had to fish most of it out (pun intended). Kale is cheap enough that I think I’m okay with throwing out what I don’t use…

Other than that fishy kale, this soup was so delicious. It’s healthy comfort food that’s wonderful for winter, especially following days of consuming cheese and chocolate and cured meats and piles of sugar.

Overall tastiness: 6/6 hobs – I will eat this soup any time.

Level of Difficulty: Easyish. You need to chop an onion, chop up garlic and peel/chop potatoes and carrots. You cook them separately and you have to dump in the spices and cook them before adding the broth and lentils. But then you’re pretty much done. It sits on the stove for 20 minutes and you throw in the kale for a few minutes before serving.

Clarity/Helpfulness of the Recipe: 6/6 stars

Cheapness factor: Cheap. Lentils, carrots, potatoes, onions, kale – pretty darn cheapbo.

Healthiness factor: Healthy! And vegan!

How long does it actually take: Including the simmering time, this takes me about an hour.

And I’m also sharing a picture of lovebird mourning doves that hung out on the balcony for a bit today. It’s blurry because I didn’t want to get too close and scare them away:

mourning doves

I’m always looking out for good lentil soup recipes because 1. they’re delicious and 2. they’re super-duper cheap. Do you have a good one? Please share it in the comments!

Happy New Year- and a mostly-ham dinner plan

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Since I started a new position this school year, the husband has taken over dinner duties. Between the actual workload and the ridiculous commute, I wasn’t able to continue making dinner. But I like cooking… so I do it on weekends and over breaks too. I’m entering week 2 of winter break and so I’m sharing my meal plan.

I do grocery shopping on Saturday mornings so my meal plan runs Saturday to Friday.

Saturday: Curried Potato & Lentil Soup from Minimalist Baker (and discovered by my sister-in-law at Adventures in Polishland). I sub the vegetable broth for chicken broth- and by chicken broth, I mean hot water and a few teaspoons of chicken bouillon powder which I always have on hand. I don’t do this, of course, if I’m cooking for vegans though! This soup is delicious and healthy and was nice to detox a bit after holiday crazy-eating. I warm up a loaf of ciabatta bread in the oven and tear off hunks to dip in the soup. So yummy.

Sunday: Go upstairs. Get dressed. We are going out to eat. I’m not planning on feeding our dinner to the Bumpus hounds but we’re going out to eat for New Year’s Eve.

Monday:For New Year’s Day, we’re having a small gathering and making fancy food. Here’s the menu:

-Crostinis with ricotta cheese, apricot jam, prosciutto and arugula. This is a conglomeration of different crostini ideas from the internet. And it gives the husband an excuse to get prosciutto at the Italian deli.

-Spiral-sliced Ham (following the cooking directions on the package…)

-Holiday Honeycrisp salad (but w/ pears instead) from Five Heart Home

-Cheddar mashed potatoes from Little Spice Jar

-Hoppin’ John Stew from the “Celebrate Winter” Gooseberry Patch book I got at an antique mall for $5. It’s made with black-eyed peas and is supposed to bring good luck when eaten on New Year’s Day.

-Sauteed green beans and mushrooms w/ garlic. This will be improvised.

(Guests are bringing dessert)

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Using more leftover ham in the Slow-Cooker Rosemary Potato Soup with Ham from Barefeet in the Kitchen’s Weeknight Dinner Cookbook. If you haven’t bought this book, please buy yourself a late Christmas present and save yourself some time in the new year. This recipe posted on her website is almost the same as the one in the book.

Thursday: With that spiral-sliced ham bone, we’re making “Mom’s best ever split pea soup” from The Cozy Cook.

Friday: Either leftovers or out again.

I bought some extra flour and yeast this week and will be trying out some bread recipes. I’ll also be using some uneaten bananas from last week to make muffins. #hygge ! I will also be making and freezing breakfast sandwiches to make next week less painful. 😦

Do you have leftover ham recipes? “Good luck” New Year’s Day recipes? Share them in the comments!

Variations on a Pork Roast and a recipe review

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Pork is cheapbo! Big hunks of pork roast have been on sale at our grocery store for the past two weeks and I just cooked up our second one with this recipe I’m going to tell you about. This was ninety-something cents a pound so an 8-lb pork roast was less than $8.00- pretty good, considering that I use it for at least 3 meals.

I searched “8 pound pork roast” and got this recipe by Melissa Sevigny of “I Breathe, I’m Hungry.” It was exciting since everything I needed, besides the hunk of meat, was already in my pantry. So night 1, we ate hunks of spiced meat, simple mashed potatoes and a green salad. I pulled the rest of the meat off the bone and used some of it to top pizza made with barbecue sauce (I made another pizza with the remains of the salami from Christmas Eve).*** Tomorrow night, we’ll pop the rest of the meat into tortillas, top with cheese and enjoy some tacos.

There are a blue-bazillion pulled pork recipes on the internet that call for boneless pork roasts. Try the bone-in kind and save some $$$.

Let’s review it!

Overall tastiness: 5/6 hobs – It’s very, very good.

Level of difficulty: Easy – Mix up your spices, put the roast in the pan, rub it all over, stick it in the oven at 500 for 20 min, lower it to 300 and go do something else (like entertain a toddler… or take a bubble bath) for 4 hours.

Clarity/Helpfulness of the recipe: 6/6 stars – super easy instructions

Cheapness factor: $ <- one dollar sign. Feed a family of 3 for 3 days for under $8… pretty darn cheap.

Healthiness factor: Healthyish? It’s paleo! It qualifies if you’re doing a Whole-30 thing. I have no idea what either of those are… but you don’t add any oil or carbs to the hunk of meat so it’s as healthy as a hunk of pork roast can be.

How long does it actually take: Mixing the spices and prepping the roast took under 10 minutes. The cooking time is long- 30 min per pound of roast- so it’s not an “easy weeknight meal” but you can get stuff done at home while it’s cooking.

What do you do with leftover pork roast? Share your ideas in the comments!

***I use the pizza dough recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

 

Christmas Lefse Recipe Review

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Take time for projects. It’s one of those things Gretchen Rubin lists on her gigantic list of things to do to be more happy in “The Happiness Project.” Last Christmas, my parents-in-law got me a potato ricer at my request so I could make lefse. It only took a year and a day, but I finally did it.

Lefse is a Norwegian flat bread. It’s like a tortilla made with potatoes. It’s usually served rolled up with butter, cinnamon and sugar. That’s how my Grandma Sylvia served it when she hosted Christmas Eve- so for me it tastes like childhood Christmastime. My dad never attempted to make it for some reason- I think he thought it required a lefse iron which we didn’t have.

They sell lefse with cinnamon and sugar at Norway in Epcot Center- it didn’t taste exactly the same as Grandma’s though. I had it one more time at the Viking Soul Food truck in Portland. That was when I discovered it’s just a flatbread you can use for savory wraps too.

So- every recipe for lefse on the internet last year didn’t mention anything about a lefse iron but they talked about needing a potato ricer. When I googled the recipe this year, the recipes I found made it seem more optional. After making it myself, I think it might not be necessary. I ended up going with this recipe from Emma Christensen at The Kitchn because it only required 1 pound of potatoes instead of… 10… like this one. I think you could just use leftover mashed potatoes refrigerated overnight. I used the potato ricer but I forgot to mix in the butter and the cream while they were still hot. I prepped the potatoes the day before Christmas Eve thinking I might have time to attempt this recipe on Christmas Eve. We hosted Christmas Eve this year so that was a silly thing for me to think… I didn’t get around to the lefse until the day after Christmas. I mixed in the butter and cream right before adding the flour and the dough came together as-expected from the recipe.

I made a gigantic mess. Once you get your dough together and you cut it up into pieces for the individual flatbreads, you have to be careful about keeping the dough from sticking to… everything… your hands, the cutting board, the rolling pin. You have to keep covering every surface with flour so you end up getting covered with flour too. I used a metal spatula to loosen the flatbread from the cutting board and transfer it to the frying pan (or lefse iron?). Getting the bread to stay flat in the pan was the hardest thing about making these. Once I got them in the pan, at least one edge would flip over and I’d have to carefully flatten it out. The dough was so fragile that I got holes in it trying to unflip the edges.

The first one I made was bathed in butter because I thought you needed a ton of butter to cook these… I didn’t read the recipe closely… These look a lot like my dad’s recipe Swedish pancakes which require a bucket of butter to keep them from sticking. But nope, not necessary with lefse. Anyway- because the first one was cooked in butter, it tasted like a huge potato chip which was not unpleasant…

oily lefse

Hob.

I cooked the rest of the lefse without adding any butter to the pan. They weren’t perfect-looking- but you know what? You really can’t tell when they’re all rolled up. We tried them with butter/cinnamon/sugar and I got an immediate rush of childhood Christmas feelings (happiness mixed with crushing anxiety!). I wrapped up some leftover Swedish meatballs and sopped up the gravy with the lefse too and it was ridiculously delicious. The husband wrapped up some salami and cheese- and said it needed a sauce but it was good otherwise. He’s weirded out by the Swedish meatballs (more for me… haha) so he didn’t opt for the gravy.

So much hob.

Let’s try this new thing! Let’s rate this recipe!

My rating for Emma Christensen’s Lefse Recipe from The Kitchn:

Overall Tastiness: 5/6 hobs – You need something to go with it so I can’t say they’re 6/6 on their own.

Level of Difficulty: Involved. They’re not hard to make if you don’t have to entertain a toddler at the same time and you’re working in a previously-clean kitchen.

Clarity/Helpfulness of the recipe: 6/6 stars. Emma Christensen warned me about the flatbreads sticking and that I’d need something to pry the flatbreads off the cutting board. And that I didn’t need butter in the pan.

Cheapness factor: $ <- one dollar sign. The ingredients are potatoes, butter, cream and salt. Pretty cheap.

Healthiness factor: Not. The ingredients are potatoes, butter, cream and salt. I think there’s a reason this is a “special for Christmas” thing.

How long does it actually take: Not including the potato prep (same as mashed potatoes), these took me about an hour and a half. I looked for an estimated time on the recipe and couldn’t find it…

Have you made lefse? Any helpful tips? Ultimate lefse fillings? Please share them with me in the comments. 🙂

 

P.S. YOU DO NOT NEED SPECIAL EQUIPMENT TO MAKE LEFSE! YOU DO NOT NEED SPECIAL EQUIPMENT TO MAKE LEFSE!!! I said it twice. And I feel the need to because websites like this exist. You do not need a special iron, rolling pin, prying stick, apron, potholder OR potato ricer. Just get in the kitchen with your ingredients and make some freaking lefse. And, btw, it’s uber-hygge. And you do not need to buy things to be hygge.

Can’t Buy Me Hygge

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You know what hygge is by now, right? It’s that Danish word that we say means “something like ‘cozy’ but there’s not an exact translation in English” and there’s a part of me that recoils a bit because that already sounds pretentious. You will never know if you’re pronouncing it right. Even if you say it to a Danish person. Because they might say you’re right but they might just be being nice.

It’s about bringing warmth and light to a cold and dark part of the year. It’s about being around people you like, slowing down and enjoying simple things. So you light lots of candles and turn on Christmas lights and put a fire in your fireplace (or on Netflix if you don’t have a fireplace) when it’s dark. You curl up in blankets and read books. You drink tea and put jigsaw puzzles together. You slow-cook your dinner and make bread to go with it. You eat lots of soup. You bundle up and go outside and feel the cold and go inside and feel the relative warmth of your home.

And that’s lovely and I really want to embrace it. Except marketing. I know about hygge because like everything else ever (including “minimalism”), it’s been hijacked by people trying to sell me things. If you google the word, you’ll get lists like this one. This one includes a $58 candle. And as a person who makes and sells candles, I would like to say, please do not buy candles just to be hygge. Don’t feel the need to “get the look” and buy hygge furniture. Please use things you already have to be hygge. I guess if you need something like a coat, then buy it. But don’t just buy a new coat because you want a hygge coat. Coats are inherently hygge. “The Little Book of Hygge” and other hygge books are available at the library! If you need it to live on your coffee table, you’re trying too hard. Which is not hygge. Slow the down, please.

OK, rant over. Here’s a picture of my cats being hygge AF:

hygge cats