May – No TV Month

Sometimes this blog is about learning or doing something new.  Sometimes it’s about challenging yourself to change your behavior and learn a new habit.  When I realized last month that I watch television for at least 30 minutes each and every day, I knew it was time to try something new.  I don’t have cable TV, or even bunny ears to get regular channels.  I have Hulu and Netflix on a Roku devices that streams instantly.  This means I can watch The Daily Show or stream the entire series of 30 Rock anytime I want.  So that’s what I was doing.  And “anytime I want” turned out to be a lot.  I know I don’t sit in front of the television as much as some Americans, but for me, it was a lot.

Nielsen reported in 2009 that Americans watch television for an average of 5 hours per day?!?  Now, the results are a little harder to track because of the newest ways to watch.  The older generation is watching a lot of broadcast TV and the younger folks are watching on the internet, whether it be TV shows, webisodes, or silly cat videos on YouTube.  The newest approximations average 39 hours of your average week are spent watching something.  That’s another full time job! What can you do with an extra 39 hours per week?

I wanted to find out.  No television meant I might do the dishes as soon as they are used.  Or I might get around to putting the laundry away as soon as the dryer buzzes.  Or I might read more.  Who knows?

As it turns out, you can find a lot of ways to relax when you are avoiding television.  I was playing Sudoku on my phone or reading Wild before bed.  I read fashion magazines and news articles in the morning.  I listened to a lot of music on Spotify and discovered (or perhaps rediscovered) some new music including but not limited to Ivan and Alyosha, Nick Drake, The Last Bison, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, and Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps.  (Of which, I most definitely recommend watching the Thao video.)  I kept my house clean and even mowed the lawn.  I worked a lot too, staying late or taking work home.

I also gave in to my TV watching urges and cheated 5 times.  When Mr. Adventure came back from Asia, we watched TV all day (re: I watched TV all day while he slept.)  The day before a huge presentation at work when I needed to clear my head and I’d already visited the treadmill, I watched a whole weeks worth of The Daily Show.  Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever hit a goal I’ve set for this little project and I think that’s the point.  The goal is to challenge yourself, but also do what you want in the moment.  Keep making lofty goals for yourself even when you know they might be unattainable.  Don’t punish yourself for not completing as planned and keep positive as you move forward into your new challenge.

In retrospect of No TV Month, I’d like to say it’s a challenge that everyone should do.  Maybe you need to take baby steps and limit TV first.  Watching TV can be relaxing and educational but it can also be disingenuous and has a tendency to glorify stupidity, violence, and conflict.  There are much better ways to spend your idle time.

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Coffee Month – How to Make the Perfect Cup

There are several different ways to make a great cup at home.  The most popular types are a Keurig-type single serve, French Press,  drip, and the artisinal coffee drinker favorite, Chemex.

Easy-Peezy Award: Keurig
Keurigs boast the perfect cup every time.  With exacting measurements at the push of a button, it is the busy (read: lazy) man’s cup.  With the bare minimum of clean up required and one perfectly brewed cup in front of you, who would complain.  The only drawbacks would be the amount of plastic you’re throwing away each and every day, the limited options and mainly big-name coffee conglomerates.  Now, I know that Keurig makes a metal, reusable cup that you can add your own coffee grounds to.  But this metal cup does not perform as well as the plastic ones, making more of a mess, and making the easy machine a little less easy.  Perfect applications would be office or shared settings, or for a busy professional who likes Starbucks coffee at home.

Seriously.  Stop Award: Automatic Drip
Walk down the aisles of Goodwill and you’ll see how often people give up on this lost cause.  There are so many better ways to brew.  But I get it.  It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.  I know they make a lot of really fancy, really expensive automatic drip coffee makers and they probably work just fine.  But the fact remains, you can easily burn your coffee, it’s harder to get the portions right, it requires a lot of electricity, and it doesn’t save you any time (unless you have the ones you can set on a timer, those are pretty cool.) Save yourself $200 and buy a French Press.

The Bill Nye Would Drink Coffee Like This Award: Chemex
I got a Chemex for Christmas from Mr. Adventure and had absolutely no idea what it was.  Thank you?  Upon further review, I realized it was pretty freaking cool.  It’s a large vessel designed for drip coffee, the precise, scientific kind.  Weighing the ingredients and adding them slowly and methodically, this is a process that takes time and patience, and practice.  So much practice, that I haven’t quite figured it out yet.  I’ve had a cup brewed in Chemex at places like Coava, who specialize in the method.  It’s amazing!  But I require a few more pieces of equipment to make it work as good at my house like a goose neck tea pot, a bigger flat-bottom scale, and a better coffee grinder. Watch this video and get inspired.

The This is My Favorite Award: French Press
Okay.  I’m bias.  Duh-doy.  This is my blog, of course.  I’ve been using a French Press and only a French Press for years.  I refuse to make coffee in an automatic drip machine and whenever I visit my mom, I look at her coffee maker like it’s an alien: scared, confused, and unsure how to initiate engagement.  I’m so pumped about my French Press that I will order a French Press coffee and restaurants if I see it on the menu.  It tastes better than other coffee.  It is easy to make, easy to clean, and it’s adorable.  Do you want a quaint little glass vessel on your kitchen counter or a bulky machine?  Man up and drink coffee like Dexter.

Thirty Days of New is Three Years Old!

Happy Birthday to you!  Well, I guess me.  It’s been three years since I started this little adventure.  Three years since I decided to start doing things for myself.  Three years since I made a list of all the things I wanted to do and started crossing them off, one month at a time.

So this month, as I celebrate my actual 31st birthday, I am going to celebrate the 3rd birthday of this adventure.  Take my favorite things from the last few years and do them again.  Re-reading the adventures and sharing my favorite moments along the way.