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Categories: Musings

Cord Cutting – My Journey

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When I was growing up there was no cable or satellite. There were only 3 networks: ABC, NBC and CBS. PBS came along a bit later.

Antennas were the way we watched television. If you had a decent antenna and no interference, you would be able to access the networks in your area. If you lived in an area where the signals did not transmit far, like I did, you might not get the ‘full’ experience. In some cases, you wouldn’t have access to a network affiliate at all. Fact of Life. <shrug>

When cable came in – and was installed – it was a game changer on many levels. My dad could now get all the local stations, and then some. This was a necessity in areas who depended upon the local news and weather for safety. For myself, who lived in a large metropolitan area, cable was not so much a necessity as a luxury. A rather expensive luxury.

Over the years I indulged in cable on occasion because regular TV got, well, boring. When I moved back to the mid-west, cable was once again a necessity – but one I could forgo once I moved into a more urban area.

By that time, 25 years into the cable experiment, cable had grown into a rather boring option. What had been exciting and new was dull, tedious, and … uninteresting.

Not to mention expensive.

Streaming was something that I didn’t know very much about. I found Wil Wheaton’s TableTop on YouTube and then began to explore what else was available. Frankly, I was astounded.

I discovered AcornTV, a service that streams programming from the UK, Canada and Australia. As a fan of BritComs and other British programming, I was thrilled. It did not hurt that I got all the programs I wanted to watch for less than $10 a month.

When Roku entered my life, I moved to a new level exploring both paid and free offerings on a box that was a one time only charge and only needed access to WiFi – in my house not an issue.

I would occasionally get curious about cable and satellite. The latter is not a possibility because I have trees, lots of trees. The former… <shrug>

The most prevalent complaint about cable and satellite services (beside the service or lack thereof) is the fact that you spend $$$ on channels you don’t watch. Waste of money, right?

If you are a life long cable subscriber and have no idea what is available over the air in your area, here is a simple and easy way to find out. Go to a TV listing provider and see. Most will ask for your ZIP code and the way you view your programming, Antenna or Cable. Choose the one you aren’t using.

Eye opening, isn’t it?

Television is a very personal exercise. What you watch, how you watch and if you watch change from person to person – even in the same home.

For myself, looking at taking on cable required me to take stock of what I was actually viewing, what I wanted to be viewing and what I was not interested in at all.

Looking at TV listings in my area by provider gave me solid information on what was available. Looking at various streaming services allowed me the opportunity to see what I was willing to pay for – and what I wasn’t.

I discovered that I really don’t watch that many movies. I love cartoons. British programming? You bet! Sports? No, thanks.

Streaming has become such a game changer that many networks and studios are looking to develop their own platforms. Some have added streaming services in addition to their cable/satellite offerings.

If you are contemplating cord cutting, there are several articles and books available with information that could be helpful. For myself, I suggest you sit down and take a good look at what you watch, and how much you want to pay.

You could replace a hefty cable bill with a collection of streaming services that could equal that bill. Or not.

I have Amazon Prime, AcornTV, BritBox and CBS All Access. Just these cost me less than $50 per month. I have all the movies I want in addition to some programming I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. BritBox has Dr. Who – years worth!

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I recently dropped Netflix. Why? Because I wasn’t watching it.

As a friend recently said, “There is so much to see and so little time.” Yes, and no. What I realized is I watch what I want and if I haven’t made any effort to watch, I wasn’t all that interested.

One other thing that appeals to me – I no longer have to program a DVR.

Test it out yourself. You just might save enough money to buy a huge new TV or go on a trip. Or you might find programming that really interests you without paying for stuff you never watch.

Categories: Musings TV

The Accidental Alchemist Series

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Love that Gargoyle!

I actually started this series by listening to book 4; The Alchemist’s Illusion. I then went back and started in on the first 3.

I’ve read urban fantasy off and on for years and have heard about Nicholas Flammel in a variety of places (Harry Potter?). Gigi Pandian’s work focuses on an alchemist who has found a home in Portland, Oregon after many years on the road in her pick up truck and Airstream trailer.

I have to tell you that it was the gargoyle, Dorian, who really caught my attention – even though I did like the main character.

I should also tell you that I, too, have a gargoyle in residence. However, mine doesn’t converse, cook or scamper about (that I know of) at odd times of the day or night.

The first three books in the series explain a lot about alchemy, history and the intricacies of vegan food. I know it isn’t to everyone’s taste, but there is nothing that says you can’t give it a try. The resolution to Dorian’s situation comes in book 3, but his story continues.

The reader does an amazing job and really helped me get into the stories. I enjoy all the characters – and each is well defined and presented. Portland, Oregon is becoming a character in itself.

If you are inclined, check out Gigi Pandian’s website HERE

Categories: Audiobooks Books

There’s A New Barn Cat!

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We have a brand new barn cat here at the OrangePlaidCat!

Her name is Belle (or Bella) – think Beauty and the Beast.

If you would like to learn more about her, please sign up for our monthly Newsletter. The next issue will have her story and a few pictures.

Categories: Pets

A Study in Kindness

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Did you know that Sesame Street will celebrate 50 years on the air later this year? Fifty years of Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Elmo and countless others.

I was well past the targeted viewer age when it debuted, but I watched. In fact, like many others, I have watched off and on for most of those soon to be 50 years.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood has been around for almost 57 years. That one I came to much later in life. Like many people, I found myself captivated by the simple message:

You are okay just as you are.

Both iconic shows endeavored to educate youngsters on a variety of topics. Sesame Street sought to start pre-kindergartners on the road to education by teaching numbers, colors, and simple concepts like ‘near’ or ‘far’. Mr. Rogers, thanks to Mr. McFeeley and the magic mirror, gave us a behind the scenes look at lots of things. How crayons are made, what do bakers do, etc.

Both, however, dealt with topics and issues that went beyond basic education. They taught people of all ages about kindness, empathy, and compassion.

By dealing with scary topics like divorce, 9/11 and natural disasters, kids were given the tools they needed to begin to understand ways to deal with a world neither they, nor their parents, controlled.

Ethnic and religious differences were shown not as a negative, but as a potential starting point to getting to know your neighbor. This was extended to include Autism and physical impairment.

Not bad for shows with puppets and silly kid songs. 🙂

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!

Categories: Musings TV

Odds and Ends

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I spent a lovely three hours last night with Murdoch Mysteries via AcornTV. The season started loading in January, but I’ve been deliberately holding off for Just The Right Time. Not entirely sure, but I might spend a bit more time with them tonight.

I’ve been enjoying lots of Duck Dodgers and Bugs Bunny, too. Sometimes you just need a bit of funny – y’ know?

Now that the Domestic Geek has delivered her brand new baby girl, I’m curious to see how the YouTube videos will evolve. She’s had a lot of projects come to fruition lately – book, new website and new menu planner – all look interesting.

Pootles Papercraft and Maymay Made It have had some great projects. Maymay has been working on Chalk Coutour projects to update the look of her home.

Both ladies have brought some great ideas to the table if you are contemplating some updates in your home.

Speaking of home decor, Hermione Chantal has been working on her home. Pulling some great ideas out of her bag of tricks, she turned her front entryway into a great showstopper spot.

We are having a rainy day today and I have an errand or two to deal with. Off to get all the necessary stuff out of the way so I can chill this afternoon.

Categories: Musings

Got Broiler Pan?

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For some of us, one of the most useful tools is not the standard equipment it should be with a new range. (I have no idea why, either.) What is that useful piece of equipment?

A broiler pan.

Yep, a two piece granite ware pan that is used under the broiler.

Before you click on past this post, give me a few minutes. Please. 🙂

That extremely useful and easy to maintain pan is perfect for cooking bacon in the oven – no need for fancy wire racks for your baking sheets. Simply put your bacon on the insert over the base pan and put all in the oven. The grease melts into the bottom pan, making clean up a breeze and your bacon is perfectly cooked WITHOUT swimming in bacon fat.

I use mine to roast pork shoulder steaks. Makes the process easy and the clean up a breeze.

Clean Up?

I spray both pieces with cooking spray – this way things don’t stick and clean up is a breeze. You can line the bottom pan with aluminum foil, but you might also need to wash the pan after you remove the foil.

The pierced top section is also sprayed so the foods won’t stick. This really helps with clean up, too.

Uses?

As I’ve said, I roast bacon on the pan, but I also cook steaks, chicken and vegetables on it too. The pierced top section is great not only to allow fats to drip off, but air to circulate.

Broiling is a good function as well. 😉 Read your oven’s user guide and your recipe to be sure you know what to watch for and don’t leave your broiler unattended.

Need One?

Not sure where yours is or you need a new one? Go to Amazon.com and put “broiler pan” in the search box. Bypass the disposable ones – they are a waste of money and not geared toward heavy usage. The rest of the options should run around $25.00. Mine is granite ware and I love it – easy to use, easy to clean.

The top section can come in a variety of forms; holes, slats, combination. Look carefully and think about cleanup. The slats are a lot easier to deal with than the holes and they provide better drainage.

Make sure the pan has a deep bottom section – this will catch a lot of fat or dripping without spilling in the oven.

Note, I do not use the broiler pan to roast a whole chicken. That requires a different type of pan.

Dig out your pan, or get a brand new one, and see what you can do with it. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it has become one of your favorite tools in your kitchen.

Categories: Cooking Food

Recipe Collections

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A few days ago a friend and I were talking about one of the items she had in a holiday meal. One of her youngsters was watching one of her youngsters inhale Grandmother’s rolls and said, “Mom, you’ll have to teach me how to make that.”

As we chatted, we both acknowledged that many of our favorite recipes came not just from our mothers, but our grand – and great-grand – mothers. Handed down over generations and updated as needed based on what was available.

A while back, I wrote about creating a cookbook to collect and hand down family favorites. My friend remarked that that was a project she wanted to embark on this year.

While I love perusing cookery sites and magazines, not to mention cookbooks, I think the hand made route is perfect. You can put in not just the recipe, but recollections, pictures, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Why not include family photographs along with the instructions?

One other thing I think invaluable is the How To section. Every good recipe explains how to actually create the dish, but sometimes they lack that bit of … … … instruction that gives the maker the information that will result in success. (Not everyone is a master cook, and sometimes you need some directions to go with the <cough> directions.) 🙂

Years ago I was stunned to discover that Julia Child had created what amounts to a How To book for herself. It was a collection of quick recipes and notes she needed to make everyday things. Gathered in a binder it was handy on a shelf in her kitchen.

One of the country’s most revered cookery teachers had a cheat sheet in her kitchen. Makes perfect sense to me!

Each stove and each oven is a different animal, so it is a good idea to keep notes about the quirks. If you are one of us who needs a reminder about how long to boil an egg – why not just make a note and put it where you can find it, rather than dig out the phone, laptop, book or whatever and browse the Internet?

How many of us remember Grandma making something and not using measuring spoons? Grandma knew how to measure using the palm of her hand.

By the way, “Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom” is available if you are interested. I perused it at my local library, but Amazon has it as well.

If you are thinking about creating your own recipe collection – either for yourself or to pass down – take some time to sketch out what you would like the final book to be.

Not just recipes, but How To’s and such.

Then, as the year progresses, make notes about what you have made and add it to the recipes for the book. Why not include some pictures?

I’d bet you could have quite a collection ready for next Holiday Season. And someone will be speechless to have received it.

NOTES:

There are several types of recipe software available – some at nominal cost. I prefer to use this type of tool rather than a word processor because the software has tools to make the creation easy, organized and simple. You can also get nutritional information, should you want to (and why not?)

If you decide to go the paper route, you can pick up blank books pretty much anywhere. Many of the ones I’ve seen come with divider and pre-printed pages.

Whichever way you choose, good luck, have fun and enjoy the process. There is a lot of great food out there!

Categories: Cooking Food Gifting Musings

Cartoons

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I grew up watching cartoons and indulging in the funny pages. Long before I met Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck competed for my attention with Peanuts, Popeye and loads of other colorful eye catchers.

As I grew up, my love of both mediums evolved. I learned to watch story lines in the daily comics. Doonesbury was an early favorite as was For Better or For Worse. The trials and tribulations of Cathy caught my eye as one of my BFFs looked like the main character. Really!

My love of cartoons confounded some folks, but I carried on keeping up with Winnie the Pooh, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, Wacky Racers and, of course, Flintstones, Jetsons and Bugs Bunny.

In some way, the continued adventures aimed at kids was calming and consistent in a way that the adult world wasn’t. The weekly catch up provided time to chill and relax.

When I started collecting for my own video library I had a rule that kept the budget under control and allowed space allocation to be a thing, rather than an attempt. The rule was simple: I would not buy any video that I was only going to watch once or twice.

I admit there have been a few … misses, but for the most part my collection contained a lot of cartoon series. Lots (and lots) of Hanna Barbera, Warner Bros and a few Disney cartoon series, but lots of Disney animated movies.

I was a kid who grew up in a time before cable, video recorders and collections. I knew what it was like when there was nothing to watch on TV and going to a movie just was not possible. My collection allows me to find something to curl up with when what I find on TV is a bit boring.

Some people still find it a bit odd, but I am perfectly happy settling down with more Darkwing Duck, Duck Dodgers or Fred Flintstone.

All I need is a bowl of cereal and milk. 🙂

Categories: Musings TV

New Stuff

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Or, things you might find interesting. 🙂

Mobituaries by Mo Rocca

Mo is back with a new and interesting project. Mobituaries (mobituaries.com) is a collection of podcasts (and an upcoming book) about people who have caught his interest.

Note: The people could be real or not.

If you are one of us folks who find ourselves curious about … history, life stories, odds and ends, this might be right up your street.

There is an introduction to the podcast – and as of this writing the first episode – available on the website. Check it out!

Star Trek Discovery is Back!

I finally sat down to watch the first episode (I admit I was holding off just a bit) and loved it.

The production values are amazing, the story telling compelling and the addition of new characters intriguing. Tig Navarro is a treat – that’s all I’m going to say. 🙂

Good Trek makes your mind work and I loved observing mine as we maneuvered through the first episode story. It sets up the season well, introduces us to new(ish) characters and provides some needed touch base with old friends.

Lady Sherlock Book Series

I just finished book three in the series by Sherry Thomas. WOW!

It helps to know that I had recently been listening to the Stephen Fry read collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The comparison between the two works is amazing. Thomas really – and I mean REALLY – did her homework.

The series is best read in order. While you can expect some intricate plotting, the real gems in the work are the characters. I’m an audio reader and the narrator/reader is amazing. Check out the series at The Lady Sherlock Series.

That’s all for now – have fun!

Categories: Books Musings

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