When AT&T offered to let me test drive the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the AT&T 4G LTE network on our recent trip to California and Arizona, I said yes because it seemed like the perfect time to see if their network lived up to the buzz. When I received the phone I immediately put it through it's paces calling far flung family members from the farthest points in Alaska, like the mountains and crossing the river flats. Figured I best try it right off the bat where nothing else works.
Again, HELLO CONNECTION. I called my mom in Arizona and she sounded as close as she does when she's at home in Alaska, clear and very distinct. No crackling, no tinny sounds on the line just connectedness that was clear enough for my kids to get on and talk too. What a pleasant cell phone call, unlike any I've ever experienced, and this was not a one off, every phone call was the same clear connection. And you know that slack time between when you say something and the person several thousand miles aways says something? DID NOT EXIST. Just easy talking, no confusion, no apologizing for the misunderstandings.
Every call connected and stayed connected every time, period end of story. Even crossing the desert on the way to Phoenix trying to confirm a hotel reservation was a simple feat. I googled the various hotels I'd looked at, called them all and talked to each of them to find out WHERE exactly our reservation was. I'd like to add now that travel sites that promise the best price should really send out confirmation emails when you've made a reservation.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 was so easy to use. Every button was exactly where it should have been, I felt like my fingers went looking for the button and poof it was right there. Intuitive and easy to use! Within one hour I was using the phone, internet, texting and camera effortlessly. Making something so simple to use means I don't have to waste brain power trying to figure it out, which means more time to do other stuff.
And if the clear calls and easy to use out of the box don't appeal to you wait until you see the photos the Nokia Lumia 1020 pumps out, simply amazing. The photos the 1020 produces are so great I didn't even bother taking my Nikon on the trip. That made traveling light an achievable goal, one easy to use piece of technology made packing a breeze and my trip though security no trouble at all.
Check these out!
Through a window at the top of the Watch Tower at Grand Canyon.
The Watch Tower.
Titan II Missile Sight. I took this blind, just laid it up against the glass in a vain attempt to get a shot, I think it turned out pretty well myself.
Am I the only one who has this problem? I have leftover coffee every day. I make it at home plain black in a french press, nothing special but I hate to pour it out. So I started wracking my brain trying to figure out WHAT I could use it for and I came up with a few uses for old(er) coffee. Thought I'd share because every time I think I'm THE ONLY ONE EVER turns out that no, I'm not.
Number ONE--my favorite go to for leftover coffee is to make iced coffee--I pour it from the french press and store it in the fridge until later, like when I'm cooking dinner, and then mix it with enough milk and ice to make a copycat Starbucks Iced Coffee with no sugar or flavor--like sugar or flavor? add them to the coffee and milk, mix well and then pour over ice--if you love iced coffee you will LOVE the thrifty homemade version
Number TWO--use it in stew or pot roast, when I was little my mom always added a dash of coffee to her pot roast, when I got older it seemed rather logical to add it to my stew-it adds a smokey deep flavor once it mingles with your spices but will not taste like coffee unless you add several cups
Number THREE--make coffee ice cubes--this started when I had a blinding realization that I love fresh hot coffee but don't like it being diluted with cream or a shot of water to make it a drinkable temperature-coffee ice cubes solve the problem I can drop one in and have still hot drinkable coffee with absolutely NO diluted flavor--BONUS?? you can drop these in stew or pot roast or even your iced coffee for a dash of flavor
BONUS USAGE for coffee grounds--body scrub! pop in a bowl and use within a day for excellent exfoliation that is FREE, now I wouldn't use them excessively/daily because they can and will build up and block your drain pipes but hey once every few weeks is good--for all the other grounds you create compost them in your pile or in your worm composter and BOOM less leaky trash too.
When I was booking our trip, which is NOT an easy task by the way it's like trying to align 47 different thoughts and desires around one central plan that makes everyone happy. Our trip was as much about getting away as it was about just being with our kids, we'd spent so much of the last year working on the house we needed to reconnect with them in a major way. I don't think you need to go on vacation to do this, we just happened to work this thrifted vacation into our plans at the perfect time. Let's face it our kids are getting older, vacations with mom and dad may not be in the works much longer so we need to soak it up while we can. So back to to planning this trip, aligning plans, ideas and desires, now I know why people use travel agents they make it so easy for us by limiting our choices, do you want to do A or B?? While planning this all I could think was I WANT TO DO IT ALL.
Picking and choosing was not easy at all, live dinner theater made the cut repeatedly, we'd done Medieval Times last time we went on a vacation so we wanted something new and different. I thought back to our last vacation and remembered how we'd seen the Pirate's Dinner Adventure while driving to something else and I KNEW we were going there. I built days into our trip where we did nothing but play in the pool and the Pirates Dinner Theater perfectly capped one of those days. We weren't in Disneyland, we didn't have plans for dinner, so leaving the resort early was easy for us and it made for a fun day and evening.
We took a cab which did cost a pretty penny, I wish more places had shuttles for these kinds of shows, and arrived about 30 minutes before the show started. Our kids were ravenous and we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted with smiles and appetizers. BOOM my kids were instantly snacking which left my husband and I time to look around and laugh that two people from Alaska found ourselves here in a Pirate Dinner Theater, in other words we were ready for fun.
We were not disappointed either, the fun lasted ALL evening from perusing pirate loot for sale, to watching the pirates climb, swing on ropes and sword fight, to acrobatics, it never stopped. We whooped, we hollered, we cheered our pirate on, we participated and we watched as the drama unfolded, booing at the right time along with everyone else. Dinner theaters are fun like that, you instantly bond with everyone else while cheering or booing or laughing at the jokes, it was highly entertaining.
Let's talk food because it is after all a dinner theater, was the food good? It was solid food, it wasn't fancy, it wasn't foodie it was food. On this trip I put away 99% of my foodie tendencies I didn't snap 47 pictures of my latte or try to capture the essence of amazing Cuban cuisine, I was a parent feeding kids on a trip. Food was fuel, which I need to remember more often, and this food filled us up. You don't go to a show like this for the cuisine you go for the entertainment. So yes the food was good, standard fare, we ate it and liked it. The brownie and ice cream for dessert was especially we received. The refillable soda pitcher and endless water were exactly what we needed. Our server was excellent and made every effort to accommodate us, we tipped generously.
Downsides? The cost of transpiration to and from the show. The inability to have a digital image of our picture to take with us instead of carrying out a large photograph. I'd rather have the choice to download my photo than have them develop one for us and then try to sell it to us.
Our vote as a family is YO HO YESSSSSSS do it, but be prepared to pay for an expensive ride and try to arrange a cab to come back for you at the end of the show.
Thanks to the Pirate's Dinner Adventure for giving us the chance to come and check out your show! They provided us with tickets but of course and ALWAYS the opinions are all mine. If you're looking for fun around Disneyland Resort it can be found at the Pirate's Dinner Adventure.
Yes please! Oh wait, already HAD those! We nipped off for a little fun in the sun 2 weeks ago and somehow I'm supposed to integrate back into real life. Who made this rule, and more importantly WHY? I'm not asking for much here in real life land, am I?
*I'd like food made for me, served to me, and cleaned up after I'm done please
*I'd like to stare at beautiful scenery for hours as we tour Arizona
*I want theme park rides that make our whole family scream with delight
*I'd like a toilet that flushes FOR ME, everyday please
*I want tours to tell me what I'm looking at
Yeah yeah I know keep dreaming. I love vacations, I really do, coming back and switching gears is tough. I'll live but can I get a volunteer to make the bed?
I have the MOST fabulous pictures to share with you, AT&T blessed me with a Nokia Lumina 1020 to try out for our vacation. WOW clear coverage from their network AND photos so amazing I didn't even bother taking the DSLR (Shhhh don't tell the Nikon) all rolled into one great phone? I LOVE IT! And as soon as May hits I am ditching the Motorola like a hot potato.
I keep seeing these recipes with crack in the title, as in this recipe is so good it's addictive, habit forming, enslaving even. When I first mentioned my annoyance with the "crack" recipe references, I got a lot of dead air responses, silence and questions like "what the hell are you talking about?" But then I started pointing them out to myself, to check if I was being annoyed about nothing, and quickly realized no it's not just me it's a thing.
Here's a little sample of the crack recipes: crack pie, crack dip, crock pot crack candy, crack cookies, chocolate crack, milk bar crack pie, bourbon dark chocolate crack cookies, chocolate caramel crack(ers) SO WITTY, s'more crack, crack balls, peanut butter crack balls, gluten free crack pie, super bowl caramel cron crack recipe, nutella crack pie and omg so many more originally titled crack recipez. Plus there's savory crack: cheesy ranch crack bread, crack potatoes(THEY'RE LOADED LOLZ), bacon crack, salami meat crack, crackslaw, crack n cheese, salmon crack dog treats, crack beans, bourbon street crack chicken. Well don't forget the holidaze crack heads: crock pot christmas crack recipe, halloween crack, new years eve crack, christmas cookie crack bites, birthday party sparkle crack, midsummer crack juice.
Ok I threw in a few fake ones at the end but every other recipe title is the real deal and every single one claims "this is so good my friends call it crack because(GET THIS, SO FUNNY AND ORIGINAL) they can't stop eating it. HA!
I don't know, I kind of wonder if anyone of these people has ever really seen a crack whore? have they sold her single condoms so she can stay clean? have they witnessed her teeth kicked out of her head? have they seen her dragged into a car by her pimp because she dared to tie her shoe instead of obey immediately? Doubtful. But I have and those images juxtaposed against people who have too much time, money and adjectives make me want to vomit.
I tried replacing the word crack with meth to see how it sounds, it's also gross, methslaw, christmas cookie meth, nutella meth pie. What about heroin? Heroin candy, heroin pie, dark chocolate heroin rum balls. Hmmm, maybe they need a thesaurus.
Crack, it's a drug, it kills dreams, it's not funny.
I recently gave a 20 minute talk on living with a food rhythm, and for the record rhythm is the HARDEST word to spell correctly. The idea of food rhythm comes from the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, if you have kids and you haven't read it do yourself a favor and read it, the message is simple, having less really means having more. I know I can hear all of you thinking "what is a food rhythm?" A food rhythm is at it's very essence a dinner plan for every day of the week. You select a type of food for each day of the week and then plan your meals accordingly. So if your choice for Monday is soup you could choose split pea one week, chicken noodle the next and beef and barley for the following week. Having a rhythm narrows down the choices, makes menu planning simple, creating a grocery list is a breeze and it gives you the peace of mind you need when your kids consistently ask "what's for dinner?????"
I know to some people limiting what you have as choices sounds, well, limiting but in reality it is the opposite, it's very liberating. If someone asks you where you want to go for lunch you may draw a complete blank but if they say "do you want to go get a hamburger or tacos?" the choice is easier to make. It works the same with a meal rhythm, set a theme for each day of the week and plug in a meal. The when the dreaded question "what's for dinner mom?" comes you are prepared because you're ahead of the game not trying to keep up.
So what kind of food are you willing to eat each week? Here's a few of the ideas we brainstormed the other night: crock pot, vegetarian, Thai, pasta, grains, oven dinner, seafood, fish, macaroni and cheese, soup, beans, grilled, salads, sandwiches, big batch, potato bar, chicken, Mexican, leftovers, oh there were so many more.
Now lets look at plugging in a few different foods to each day of the week. If Monday is bean night you could have: falafel, chili, split peas, hummus, bean with bacon or bean burritos. If Tuesday is crock pot night your choices might include: garlic ginger beef, vegetarian refried beans, meatloaf, baked potatoes or a roasted chicken. And if Wednesday is soup night you could make: chicken noodle, minestrone, bean soup, chicken and dumplings and so on and so forth. Giving yourself a few guidelines opens up the possibilities, counterintuitive, I know!
So how about it? Could you set a food rhythm? Would you set one and see how it works for a month? I bet after a month of living with a solid plan you'd feel more relaxed and in control of the time before dinner, the dreaded "danger hour" when cranky kids and exasperated mothers collide.
If you decide to try making Homemade Malted Milk Balls you're going to be pleasantly surprised, they're less crunchy than commercial malted milk balls, Whoppers, yet still have all the flavor but in a smooth bite.
Inspired by a recent random purchase of malted barley extract I decided to try something beyond malted milk, so I made Malted Milk Balls. Don't get me wrong, malted milk and I have a love/hate relationship, I love it so much, my pants hate it. It felt like a rather grand gesture to look for something to make for my family when what I really wanted to do was settle in and drink a gallon of malted milk. So finding a Malted Milk Ball recipe that made a decent rendition of malted milk balls made my sacrifice easier. Also they're dipped in chocolate.
These little Malted Milk Balls are rather uncomplicated to make. I think even kids as young as 3 could help roll the balls of cooled filling and but moms or dads will need to do the dipping. This is exactly the kind of recipe I loved when my kids were little, some for them to work on and then some for them to watch. Your only problem may be when they realize that the dough they're rolling tastes really good, up until that point it's smooth sailing.
Homemade Malted Milk Balls Recipe
6 ounces white chocolate chips
6 TBSP malted barley extract powder--more may be needed to stiffen the dough
6-8 ounces milk chocolate for dipping
over very low heat melt the white chocolate in a double boiler
remove from the heat and add the mbep one TBSP at a time, stirring well after each addition
let it cool about ten minutes then check to see if it needs more mbep, roll a small ball about 1/2 inch or so, if it holds it's shape with minimal flattening then you're ready to roll, if not add more mbep as needed to make a ball that will hold it's shape
roll the dough into small 1/2 balls
freeze on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes or so
melt the chocolate chips over very low heat in a double boiler until thoroughly melted
dip the malt balls into the chocolate and return to the cookie sheet
when all the balls are dipped cool in the fridge or freezer