Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Day The Comcast Cable Died

Saturday, March 28, 2015, is a day that will live in infamy in our house. It's the day we cut the cord. We disconnected our four cable boxes and they were dropped off to Comcast yesterday.

While my 12 year history with Comcast is littered with battles, there's no big straw that broke the camel's back. I simply got tired of fighting about bills every other month. We desired liberty from years of sneaky and inexplicable bill raising in the middle of contracts (aren't we all tired of that, regardless of our provider?), getting the run around on the phone, and paying eleventy billion dollars even when watching TV is an increasingly rare event. I've wasted so much time arguing with Comcast people on the phone. So much time. I just don't want to spend my time like that anymore so we said enough and cut it. I figure only having them for Internet will make that less frequent.

We actually disconnected the cable box in the living room last Monday to see how we'd respond. At that time, the antenna was not hooked up but the Roku still was. I don't think I even turned the TV on until Thursday. Yet we pay all this money for cable! No more.

There was some dismantling...
Some antenna setup and channel searching (and cursing)
Some victory, receiving local channels live through a Mohu Flat Leaf HD Antenna (thanks Cheri for the recommendation)
Packaging up of the Comcast stuff. Like a petty bitch I removed all of the batteries from the remotes.
And that's that. We're saving $90/month. The Mohu antenna is a one time cost of $40, we had a Roku in the living room already (hand me down from Lori), and the second Roku upstairs was a birthday gift from Lori. We stream through Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus ($8/month) and Netflix ($9/month). After those expenses, we're still saving $70 a month. I don't count the Amazon Prime cost because I've paid that for years.

I rarely watch things in real time except for the news, Jeopardy, awards shows, and Downton Abbey, which I can still do via the antenna. I typically don't care if I'm on the current season of something.  Mad Men will be a must watch for us starting Sunday so we'll pay per episode to be able to watch it the next day on Amazon and the price to do that will still be far less than keeping cable for it.
Goodbye, wily foe.
Sayonara, Crappycast.
Freedom is so sweet.
The thing I'm missing the most? The clock on the cable box in the living room. Really. Otherwise, nothing. The bulk of the bill is gone and so is a lot of the headache. I hate paying for something I feel like I'm not using. Hallelujah and amen.
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Monday, March 30, 2015

TWTW-Last one of the birthday month

Last week was a busy one and I slacked off on my hausfrauing. I typically do a few tasks each weeknight so I don't have to clean on weekends, but this was a special case. Friday night I set the house to rights - two loads of laundry put away, two more done, fridge emptied and cleaned, dishwasher run and put away, kitchen cleaned and mopped, two bathrooms cleaned, house picked up, scarves/winter gear/pajamas purged, and car loaded up with crap to be donated. I didn't sit down all night and I was okay with that. I hate going into a weekend with the house in disarray.
Gus says, "We'll keep these scarves, mother. The rest of the shit can go."
Saturday morning I was out like a shout - filled the car up with gas, dropped books at the library, hit the gym for my 40, back home to shower and then back out to drop stuff off at Goodwill and get a treat yo'self pedicure (OPI Cha-Ching Cherry). I picked up veggies while my toes were drying. I know there are others of you out there who parade around with your feet like that after a pedicure. Raise your hands and show yourselves.
The afternoon found me at All Fired Up in Collingswood, NJ, to meet up with my friends Marla of Luck Fupus and Brie of A Breezy Life for some ceramics painting and dinner. I painted a coffee mug (are you surprised?) and required assistance from Brie after I fucked it up. Marla also needed her artsy influence so out of the three of us Brie is the painting queen. They treated me to Tortilla Press and got me a cute bag of gifts to boot. I'm lucky to call The Sisters Wexler friends. See you next month ladies!
Comcast got Das Boot Saturday night. More on that tomorrow.
Sunday morning I figured out how to stream YouTube and did my weights workout through the TV...behind the times, I know. After that french press coffee was on the agenda, as was lounging with the dogs.
Weekly food prep: scrambled eggs with sautéed mushrooms and spinach, green onions, and Havarti dill cheese for breakfasts; baby carrots and Granny Smith apples for snacks; and salads for lunch - I make them the night before so only one made Sunday. Dinners: baked burgers with spinach and goat cheese over a bed of lettuce, mashed sweet potatoes, mashed cauliflower, steamed veggies, and oven baked ribs (this pic is pre-baking, click here to see them out of the oven). 
Other weekend things:
-I finished the second season of The Fall. Jamie Dornan and Gillian Flynn are excellent. If you haven't watched this show, check it out!
-MFD is super busy work-wise, which is awesome for many reasons. I don't see him much, and when I do he's on the phone. LOL. No complaints though because I love my alone time. If you're looking to buy or sell in PA or NJ, get in touch with him!
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Today is going to be a good day - when I left work on Friday everything got filed and I dealt with everything in my email inbox so I'm starting fresh this morning, Comcast cable boxes are being returned (more on that tomorrow), and tonight I have a 50 minute massage and a peppermint scalp massage. Monday, you'll do. You'll do.

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Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending

Friday, March 27, 2015

Let's do Lunch

When you meet up with friends new or old for lunch, conversation is usually free flowing from one thing to the next. Sit down with me and Jenn from Hello Rigby and chat for a while. Do you have something to add, or something you agree or disagree with? Chime in in the comments! p.s. - if the text is colored, it's clickable!

A fashion trend I wish would die...
Jenn: Culottes. I'm really not sure who these work on, but it's definitely not me.
Steph: Male celebrities in hammer pants. It's ridiculous. Or men wearing their pants hanging off of their ass in general. 
Via pinterest & teen.com 
If I could only wear one brand of jeans forever, it would be...
Jenn: Madewell. Their skinny skinny and legging styles are my favorite. 
Steph: I hate jeans. I know this is universally considered the wrong opinion to have.

I always tell people to buy...
Jenn: Closet staples. A comfortable pair of black pumps, a classic little black dress, and a fitted black blazer. Apparently I like black.
Steph: I basically wear cardigans and pants. Not a fashionista here. I think Jenn has this one down.

My daily uniform clothes-wise is...
Jenn: Some variation of this outfit. Mostly the slip ons... I wear those with almost everything.
Steph: Oh, those are cute. For me, it's basically a cardigan. I am the cardigan queen. If the day ends in y, I'm probably wearing a cardigan.

We're here for lunch, right? My go to lunch order is...
Jenn: A sandwich of some kind. My favorites are a few blocks from my office, a tuna melt and something called the Pavo Diablo (Turkey, Avocado, Spinach, Poblano Peppers, Havarti, and Chipotle Aioli).
Steph: I am a huge fan of the BLT or turkey club. When I don't want to pick something up, I like a good salad as long as it has no fruit in it.

I take my coffee...
Jenn: Black.
Steph: With just a little bit of cream.

Wait, before I forget - three books I recommend...
Jenn: 1. The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes, 2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and 3. Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
Steph: 1. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, 2. Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler, and 3. Beach Music by Pat Conroy

What I like most about reading is...
Jenn: Being able to escape into a different world. I listen to a lot of audiobooks while doing mundane chores around the house and while driving, so it makes these activities a little more fun. :)
Steph: My response to this question can best be expressed in a montage.
Sourced on Pinterest
Oh, this nail polish color I'm wearing? It's...
Jenn: Margit from Julep!
Steph: Aphrodite's Pink Nightie by OPI.
These are not our nails. Images via Julep & OPI websites
My favorite mascara is...
Jenn: Oh that's tough! I'm always trying new ones. I've always been a fan of Covergirl's Lash Blast line as a budget-friendly but still great option. I also like Clinique's High Impact line.
Steph: I know, I feel like I have tried every mascara out there. Honestly my favorite is under $10 - L'Oreal Million Lashes. I like Clinique too.

When my lips are chapped I use...
Jenn: Malin & Goetz Mojito Lip Balm in the day and Julep Lip Luxe Lip Treatment at night. I have dry lips almost always. 
Steph: Rosebud Salve lip balm or Fresh Sugar lip stuff.

On my next vacation, I'm going to...
Jenn: Paris in June! I'm so excited.
Steph: I can't wait to read about that, we're heading there next year for a few days so I'm anxious to see where you stay, etc. Up next for us is a week at the beach with my parents, Stephen & Aubrey in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. I've never been there. I love going places I've never been.

One of the best trips I've ever taken was to...
Jenn: Disneyland! I loved it because...we went with 26 other members of my boyfriend's family, and we all stayed in one house. It was insane but also a ton of fun. I mean, how can you not have fun at Disneyland?
Steph: My Disneyworld trips always rank high too because seriously, Disney. Chicago always sticks out in my mind because I loved the city and the food and I feel like we got a lot in on that trip.

Thanks to Jenn for joining me for a virtual ladies lunch. Please visit Jenn on her blog Hello Rigby, and follow along with her on Twitter and Instagram too.

What about you? Please weigh in on some of these scintillating topics in the comments. Or the fact that it's already the last Friday in March. Birthday month, stay longer.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Life Lately...March

What I'm doing lately...

Drinking...one of these every once in a while. I drink water with lemon all day every day and coffee for a lot of the day. I like to sneak in an iced tea or one of these and shake shit up.

Keeping a list...of possible long weekend trip destinations. I always like to travel to new places, and I always like to have a list of possible destinations in my back pocket. Do you have any ideas, Philly area friends? Short/cheap flights or driving distances of under 5 hours?

Still on a high from...Dirty Dancing on stage Tuesday night. Carol and I went with Michelle's mom, two aunts, sisters, and cousins. Thanks to Aunt Cathy for securing the tickets! We had dinner at Bellini Grill before the show. I was super jazzed to see they sold merchandise, and I bought a zillion things because I'm insane. I've had the time of my life indeed. I really enjoyed the show because honestly? I love all things Dirty Dancing. However, I do think it was a hard translation for a much loved movie to go from screen to stage. I thought Baby was awesome and looked and sounded a lot like Jennifer Grey. Johnny was a little off, forced or overacted maybe? Then again, no one comes close to The Swayze. I really liked seeing how they worked around some of the limitations of the stage, and how they incorporated the music without relying solely on the soundtrack. The two main singing cast members were very good. I appreciated how they stuck with the main frame of the story and made sure to include well known dialogue but were a little more interpretive in some scenes. I went into it with no expectations - I knew it couldn't be a replica of the movie I love so much so I liked what they did well and wasn't bothered by what they didn't. Was it a technical masterpiece or an award winning show? Probably not. I think it's a show for true fans so in that regard, I loved it.
Looking forward to...seeing The Breakfast Club on the big screen tonight for the 30th anniversary re-release. Yes, I will be the dork in the John Bender tee-shirt. Look for that on Instagram, I'm sure it'll be up there. It's like a freaking 80s revival in my life this week.

Reading...The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly. Mark your calendar for the next Show Us Your Books link up on April 7.

Finishing...My March Relationship Theme goals for Choose Your Own Adventure. The link up is a week from today on April 2.

Regretting...That not everyone knows this. It's important.

Playing...a lot of Amy Winehouse.

Watching...Very little TV. Phase 1 of Give Comcast Das Boot has commenced.

Loving...being back in touch with my old college friend Jana, who you likely know better as Jana from Jana Says and the lady with whom I peddle the aforementioned Show Us Your Books linkup. She trekked into Philly yesterday and we had lunch at Continental Midtown. We haven't seen each other in 15 years. Can you believe it? We're going to make it a monthly thing. I'm so pleased to have this relationship revived.
Needing...to get my shit in check. Birthday month eating has gone way off the rails as you see from the lunch time dessert above.

Appreciating...My parents.

Nodding at...

What's life like for you lately?
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Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff & Things

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March Recommendations

Skimmers, recommendations are in bold. Anything that's colored text is a clickable link. This month all the recommendations are from me because it's my birthday month and I do what I want. Boom.

1. DD Perks Program: Frequent Dunkin Donuts guests, you need this. You get points when you pay with a gift card associated with your account - I keep it on the app on my phone. When you reach 200 points, you get a free medium beverage. It's not hard to get there. You also get offers and coupons.

2. Iris pet food container: Now that my dogs eat two different types of food, I wanted something that would be one unit but keep them separate. This is perfect. I fit a 24 pound bag of food in the bottom and about 10 pounds in the top. This will serve you even if you don't have two different foods - you can store treats in the top too.

3.  Bodum Chambord 8 cup French Press. People were always all oh my god, french press coffee is divine. I wondered how it could be so incredibly different. It just is. Smoother, richer, deeper. I love it.

4.  Weight Loss Cardio Kick with Violet Zaki. If I'm going to stick with exercise, I need variety. When I work out at home, I have to switch it up a lot. This is good, quick (warm up/workout/cool down in 31 min), and most importantly of all Violet is not annoying. It's $10 right now on Amazon.

5. Never say you're bored. It implies that you aren't smart enough or resourceful enough to entertain yourself.

What are you recommending this month?

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 Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Butternut squash mac and cheese-ish

You're like what the hell is with the -ish, right? Well, there's no traditional roux in this. And as far as fat assness goes, it's not as bad as your typical mac & cheese. No butter or flour in a roux, skim milk, and whole wheat pasta. Don't worry, it's still edible.

Also, I hate peas, but had some I needed to use. If I had broccoli I would've put that in here instead. Food for thought, friends. Food for thought.

Butternut squash mac and cheese-ish

by Life According to Steph
  • 20 oz bag of frozen butternut squash
  • 1.5 cups skim milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tbs garlic
  • 2 tbs greek yogurt
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta
  • 1 cup shredded gouda
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas or broccoli
Add butternut squash, garlic, milk, and chicken broth to a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook 20 minutes or until squash is tender, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and pour into a blender (you can also use an immersion blender for this step). Add cheeses, yogurt, and salt and pepper. Blend.
Steam peas or broccoli and drain.
Boil pasta in salted water. Drain and toss with squash mixture and steamed vegetable.
You can eat it like this or you can bake it off in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Powered by Recipage

Summer. Kellerman's.
Corners and Baby don't mix.
Let's practice the lift.
Tonight I see Dirty Dancing on stage. I'm all atwitter.

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Martinis & Bikinis

Monday, March 23, 2015

TWTW - the first one of spring

Well, Friday sucked the wang. I was at the emergency vet with Gus on Thursday night and only got two hours of sleep so I was snarky to begin with. When I got off the train, heavy snow waited to be cleaned off the car. I was wearing boots but my wool coat was soaked and I was full of raaage. Way to suck, first day of spring. I was in bed by 7 p.m. and everyone was safer for it.
Saturday morning I did my weekly food prep - savory oatmeal for breakfast; hard boiled eggs, apples, and snow peas for snacks; a whole roasted chicken; butternut squash mac and cheese-ish (recipe coming tomorrow); and I began the long process of making bone broth for the dogs using the bones from the whole chicken. Lunches are soup from the freezer and butternut squash mac and cheese-ish.
Forces conspired against me on Friday so I missed my first 40 minutes of exercise in 31 days. Rage! So Saturday I went to the gym and made that up, then splurged on $7 worth of flowers in honor of spring. I usually make a game of seeing what I can get for $3, LOL. I also got my refillable coffee mug so I get 99 cent iced coffee until June. Boom. Thanks DD Perks!
Saturday night we went to MFD's work bowling thing to benefit a local homeless organization. Realtors + homeless charity = good fit.
Then we headed over to listen to Frank play at Dolan's in Burlington, NJ, for a few hours, and in honor of my birthday he sang one of my favorites - Soon Forget by Pearl Jam. I loved it. Thanks Fronk!
Sunday morning I was up and out of the house by 7:20 to get my 40 in for the day.
I met up with my lovely friends AEB and Alicia for breakfast at the Vintage Grille in Doylestown and had eggs benedict over a crab cake along with excellent conversation as always.
I laid around on my ass with the dogs for a while before unloading the dishwasher, cleaning up the kitchen, laying out my clothes for the week, and changing sheets. I planned on being more productive but sometimes you just have to say fuck it, you know? The dogs love when I say fuck it and lay around.
Sunday night we were off to Tacconelli's in Maple Shade, NJ, to have dinner with Michelle & Bob and Amanda & Frank. Holy shit, that was awesome pizza. That white pizza with roasted red peppers? Whoa nelly. I wanted to lick the pan it was served on. Of course dinner was punctuated with lots of laughs. I love my framily. I also had cannoli cake which you can see on Instagram.
And in more birthday news, I got superb smelling lotion from Alicia - local yogis, check out The Prancing Peacock Yoga Studio with gorgeous locations in Langhorne and Yardley - they also offer spa treatments and have a really cool shop. This lotion is from there and I can't get enough of it. I got an awesome sign and blinged out new bookmark and a bottle of wine from Amanda & Frank too. Birthday celebrations continue!
Other weekend things:
-I went out with chipped nails two days in a row and my life did not come crashing down around me.

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It's Monday, mon frer. Tell me something good.

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Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending

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