Why Not Having a Cell Phone Makes Me More Organized, Reliable, and Resourceful.

When the Artist and I moved here from Ontario, Canada, we cancelled our Canadian cell phones.  Our intent was to get new ones when we got settled in St. Louis.  However, it seemed like the best financial and most practical option for keeping in touch with family back home, and considering our current needs, that cell phones were not needed, rather, a home phone would work.  Our home phone is exactly $19.99 every month and it includes unlimited nationwide calling, including Canada.  Our bill never changes.  At this point, cell phones would be only for talking with each other, as international minutes and texting is not something included in basic cell plans.  It was very weird at first, not having a cell phone.  And it was really inconvenient, and even now, 2 years later, it is still inconvenient.  But all in all, I have come to enjoy not having a cell.  I use Facebook and this blog when it comes to social media, but that’s it- no instagram, twitter, etc.  I don’t download music or movies or anything, I prefer to listen to the radio or my record player.

I do not like listening to music while walking outside as I feel like I am not aware of my surroundings and it makes me feel sort of unsafe at times.  And instead of doing whatever it is people do on their phones while at the movies waiting for the movie to start, I talk with whomever I am with, I read that free magazine about the up and coming movies, or really enjoying my concession snacks…..out for dinner, instead, I talk with the company I have, I consciously think about the food I am eating and how I am enjoying it, and maybe even have a conversation with the server….while driving I listen to the radio or talk with my passenger (rather then endanger us and other drivers because I am on my phone!)….while walking outside I take in the scenery, or talk with whom I am walking with….while on a plane/bus/transit of sorts, I read a good book, talk with whom is next to me, meet someone new and hear their story and where they are from, or catch up on some sleep….the list goes on.  And for each of these examples, sometimes just being alone to my thoughts.  When I had a cell phone, this never happened, in fact, I didn’t really have “thoughts” as I was on my phone all the time.  Also, notice how I said “talk with whomever I am with” for each one?  What if I was on my phone the whole time and missed out on all of those great conversations?!  Since I have not have a cell phone, I read more, talk more, notice scenery, nature, and architecture more, I enjoy food more, and I just enjoy the simple things more.  I notice the weather more, the sky more, I notice smells and sights, colours of things, and people.  And I like it.  I like not being able to be reached 24/7.  What did people do before cell phones?  They had a home phone and if you were gone when someone called they left a message and you returned it when you were available.

Now to focus on the title of this post, not having a cell phone does make me more organized, reliable, and resourceful.  I am sure that being able to look something up on your phone on-the-fly is a great tool, and sometimes that option would benefit me no doubt.  But lets take a new perspective….when you don’t have your phone as your resource, then what?

1. I look up directions ahead of time, and print them off the computer or write them down.

2. I looks at maps, usually using Google, to get a visual idea of an area I am unfamiliar with.

3. If I get lost, I do this crazy thing.  I pull over, and ask someone for directions ;) haha.

4. If I am getting picked up, which is a common occurrence with a 1-car household, I am in the spot I say I will be at the agreed upon time.  I arrive at that spot early to ensure I am there before my ride.  Last minute coffee or errand, and then just text my ride that I am running late?  Nope.  I plan errands ahead of time.  This keeps me accountable.

5. Where to eat?  Research options ahead of time, or just pull into a new place and try it out.  We have found some great local eateries this way.

By not having a cell phone, I can’t do last minute emails, last minute work stuff, texting while driving, letting someone know I am running late, etc. I forces me to plan ahead and organize.  Because most of the time, those last minute emails or work things can usually wait.  However, sometimes something urgent may come up, and that is when I get resourceful.  If I am home, I call the necessary parties.  Which sounds simple enough, but I think actual phone calls are getting lost to the world of texting and emailing.  If I am out, I find a pay phone or other public phone.  If I have my laptop with me, I find a coffee shop or diner with free wifi and communicate that way.  But I am talking urgent matters here.  When it comes to notifying someone that I am running late, normally I would text them.  But now, I leave early to leave time in case there is traffic.  If I am working late and know for sure I will be late, I let them know ahead of time to expect me later.  And even if I have planned ahead, and this and that, sometimes things happen like an accident on the highway has backed up traffic for example.  Well, at this point, everyone knows I do no have a cell phone, so traffic is often the first assumption if I am late.  I will get there when I get there, and having a cell phone won’t change my arrival time.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I know where several local libraries are, as they are a great community resource for computer use, internet use, faxing, copying, free of charge.  They often have a pay phone as well.  I am great with travelling and getting around because I read maps and talk to folks for directions, or suggestions of where to eat or what to do in the area.  As I mentioned, it can definitely be inconvenient not having a cell phone, but all in all, I find I notice the small things in life more, and I enjoy that.  I am a bit of an old soul, and have found that I prefer to do things the way I have mentioned here versus using a cell phone.  It just brings me more pleasure.  If you do have a cell phone, great!  If you don’t, great!

I may get one in the future, who knows.  But right now, I feel like I have found a new way of doing things, and I am not done exploring them yet.

Life and Homemade Kettlecorn.

As adults, we have so much going on that days slip away in an instant, which turns into weeks and months.  How easy is it to walk in the door after a long day and be so tired, you microwave something for dinner and watch TV until you fall asleep?  How easy is it to waste precious time mindlessly browsing the internet?  How easy is it to give your full self to your work, and be so busy with that you forget about other aspects of life?  It is hard to find the energy to go to the gym, spend time in the kitchen doing home cooking, and and be “present” as a wife, mother, daughter, whatever your roles may be.

This is something I have been finding hard lately.  The evenings are spent trying not to fall asleep before 8pm.  So The Artist and I devised a plan.  We decided to think about what we wanted, and what was important to us, and how we would incorporate that into our lives.  It is like a vicious circle….you’re too tired to go to the gym or cook a meal, but if you exercise and eat well you will have more energy.  One day, it was like “enough is enough”!  This cycle of no exercise, bad eating, and crashing in front of the TV every night HAS to stop!  Here is what we decided we want; more time together, a clean apartment, more home cooking and healthier eating, more sleep, more exercise.  These are our goals to achieve them.

1. Go to the gym 2-3 times a week to lift weights together.  Yoga etc. at home on the “off” days for me.  Lots of exercise during weekdays, so weekends are reserved for “fun exercise” like a day walking around the zoo.

2. Home cooked meals every week night.  Even if it is leftovers, it is healthy, balanced left overs.  We like to make meals in bulk solely to have leftovers :)  Weekends are for extra special homemade meals that are more time consuming (we put on some music, pour some rum, and make a night of it!).  Or the opposite: we have “cheat” meals like chicken strips or poutine.

3. We limit mindless internet browsing.  We catch up on how each other’s days went, and then sometimes returning Facebook messages or reading the latest on blogs I follow is a good way to wind down.  In the evening hours, we try to limit this to 15 minutes. The Artist uses the internet during the day when he has some free time, and I like to “browse” in the mornings when I first get up.  So only 15 minutes in the evenings isn’t so bad because we have used our “non-together” time to complete emails and check out our favourites sites already.

4. We do one thing together every day.  Whether it is cook a meal together, watch a movie together, play cards, etc. we do at least one thing together per day.  This comes naturally, and isn’t really something we have to think about.

5. We do one fun outing or event together each weekend.  Sort of like a date night.  We might go to Forest Park, the zoo, thrifting, we might marathon a TV show until 3am all snuggled up on the couch, or even decorate for an upcoming holiday.  Recently, we went to a fundraiser for an organization I used to volunteer at and caught up with friends, and went to the zoo!  The sea lion loved The Artist.

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6. The Artist does day to day household chores like dishes and making the bed.  We don’t have a dish washer, so they pile up on the counter quickly!  I do the more weekly jobs during weekends like laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or dusting.  That way, our place stays clean and neat and we share the chores.  For both of us, a clean and tidy place makes relaxing easy.  It is hard to relax your body and mind you are surrounded by a mess.

7. We do things for ourselves, at least once a week.  For example, I am taking a pottery class right now.  It is something I am doing just for me, and that I have been wanting to do for awhile.  Or writing a blog post on here ;)  And as of lately, the Artist likes to browse magazines with a coffee when I am out and about.

8. Minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night.  Minimum.  No less.  Sleep is something we value and that is important to us.  Every night, we think of what time we are getting up the next day, and count 8 hours (minimum!) backwards to get and idea of when we will go to bed.  We also leave lots of time for teeth brushing, and actually falling asleep.  So if we are getting up at 8am, by 10pm the night before we will settle down and do quieter activities, usually watching TV.  By 11pm we are getting ready for bed and brushing our teeth.  And sometime between 11pm-12am, we are asleep.  So that is 8-9hrs of glorious slumber.

Now, these things sound sort of obvious, and I get that.  But as we get older and our careers and families begin to blossom, these things are easily forgettable.  I know lots of couples who spend very little quality time together, and lots of people who forget about their hobbies and interests because watching TV after a long is much easier and more desirable- let alone remember to eat well and exercise.  And I can especially think of many busy folks who don’t get enough sleep and are tired on a daily basis.  I understand there are lots of reasons as to why, and that is fine.  But at this time in our lives, we don’t have many reasons as to why we can’t get more sleep, so we are taking advantage.  I am sure this will change should be we lucky enough to have children one day.

And honestly, having this conversation and making this list helped 100%.  We felt like the days were slipping by and we weren’t stopping to smell the roses in life- and we were not ok with that.  It brought these wants and needs to our attention, and we decided on realistic goals.  From thereon out, there was a difference.  We no longer feel like like life is flying past us.  We have healthier bodies, more energy then before, active hobbies and interests, and we are not being lost in the dust <3

During one of our stay-at-home nights together, we watched a movie late at night, when the rest of the world was quiet and peaceful.  We made a “nest” of blankets and pillow on the couch and I made some homemade kettle corn.  It was a fabulous night.  Here is my recipe :)

1/3 canola oil

1/3 white sugar

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

salt to taste

In a large pot (that has a lid), heat the oil.  I like to throw in a kernel and when it pops, the oil is hot enough.  Turn of the heat and add the sugar and stir.  Add the popcorn kernels and return to medium-high heat.  Hold the lid on the pot with oven hits on your hands on each side.  Alternate shaking the pot up and down, side to side, and in circles for a few seconds.  Place on heat for a few seconds.  Repeat back and forth, shaking, and having it sit on the burner, for a few seconds each.  Do this until it is all popped, there will be several seconds in between kernels popping.  Remove from pot immediately into a serving bowl and add salt.  Stir gently.


- leaving the popcorn solely on the burned will burn it (badly)

- solely shaking it and not alternating having it sit on the burner will take forever for everything to pop, it just doesn’t get hot enough

- I have a gas stove, all stoves will be different and temperature will vary

- the first time or two I made this, I scorched it (like the sugar went black and it was a disaster to clean lol!) so it might take practice

- it is worth it because it is delicious ;)

- when you pour the popcorn into the serving bowl, it will be sticky- don’t worry, it will cool almost instantly and be very crunchy

- it may seem like there is barely any sugar or anything on the popcorn at first, but there isn’t much colour in this, when it cools, it is the texture that you will notice, and each piece should be coated (the picture below looks like plain popcorn, but it is all shiny from the sugar!)

- when I add the salt, I gently toss/stir to avoid the popcorn sticking into a bowl-shaped chunk as it cools

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DIY Bleached Jean Jacket!

The Artist and I love to thrift shop.  I had been wanting a jean jacket lately, and hadn’t been finding anything that I liked.  So one day while thrifting, the Artist held up a jean jacket and said I should try it on.  I did not like the colour at all, but then he said if it fits nicely, he could bleach it to what I want.  GENIUS!  It was a perfect fit.  I took home my jacket that cost only a few dollars, $3-$4 I think it was, the Artist made some magic happen.  He has worked with bleach in his works before, and was very familiar with how to handle it.  I was after a blotchy look, where the jacket was lighter coloured and the seams were darker.  Here are some tips on what he did!

This is how it started:


Firstly- wear gloves to do this, in a well ventilated area or outside.

1. He started off diluting the bleach with water to gauge how quickly and severely it would affect the fabric.  Al fabrics react differently.  After a while, he started using undiluted bleach as the fabric was holding up very well.

2. He used a paintbrush to apply it.  That way, he could control where the bleach went, and how much, versus dunking it in a bucket.  And I wanted the seams to be dark still.

3. He “splattered” and “dripped” bleach onto it as well.

4. When it looked almost done, we vigorously dunked it in a bucket of just water we had waiting.  This will stop the bleaching process.  Stopping it when almost done worked well, because even though we dunked it in water it still continued to get a little lighter for a few minutes afterwards.

5. After vigorously dunking, I took it inside and washed it in the bathtub with laundry soap, again, vigorously.  The goal is to stop the bleaching process and rinse the jacket of all the bleach.

6. I let it air dry, and then added it to a load of laundry in the washer to get rid of the remaining bleach smell, and air dried again.  I prefer to air dry most of my clothes so they don’t shrink, and didn’t want to risk this jacket shrinking.  I don’t know how the dryer would affect a bleached item.

We thought it might need some touch ups, but it didn’t.  For touch ups, we planned on dabbing it with bleach where needed, but it didn’t need it.

And after all that- I have what I had been looking for :D  Watching my jacket get created was like watching the Artist paint.  He is so talented in so many ways, and I get to witness true works of art in every day situations <3





Re-Vamping Brownies from a Box

One thing that I have never mastered is a good, go-to recipe for homemade brownies.  I just always have preferred the kind from a box.  If you use coupons, the brownies from a box are much cheaper, easier, faster, and as I said, I have always much preferred the taste.  However, my brownies from a box have been far too cakey…..and if you know me, you will know how much I LOVE super fudgey, ultra gooey brownies.  Here are my tips to vamping up your boxed brownies to make them melt-in-your-mouth fudgey.

1. I prefer to use the 13x9in family size package, because I am a piggy for brownies, and so is the artist.  And I can usually find coupons for them as well.  The directions usually say to add water, but I replace the water with milk.  Both 1% and 2% have worked for me with no noticeable difference between the two.  And I hold the measuring cup over the mixing bowl and let it overflow a tad.

2. The directions usually say to add some oil.  Again, hold the measuring cup over the mixing bowl and let it overflow a little.  I also use canola oil versus olive oil.  Olive oil has a low smoke point, which will turn it rancid at a lower temperature.  I like to use olive oil “raw”, like in a salad or a cold dish.  Canola oil is also generally cheaper.  I have never tried subbing it for butter or another fat, so I can’t vouch for those.  But if you experiment, let me know how it goes!

3. The 13x9in family size usually includes 2 eggs in the recipe.  Do not use only one egg, use two. 4. Mix carefully and gently with a whisk, until just mixed.  Mixing too much and/or too fast whips too much air into the batter and they get way too fluffy.  These tips are for fudgey, gooey brownies :)

4. Grease the pan generously with salted butter and pour the batter in.  Bake at 350 F for less time then it says on the package.  Check at 15 minutes, and again at 20.  The goal is to take them out as soon as an inserted toothpick comes out clean, and not a minute later.  They may seem a little underdone in the middle when looking at it, but after approx. 23 minutes ours were perfect.  Times will vary depending on your oven, but the idea is to take it out right as soon as the toothpick comes out clean.  When we check at 15 minutes and 20 minutes, it comes out wet.  And then at 23-ish minutes it comes out clean.  They will continue to cook for a few minutes after you take them out until they are cooled.

When served with ice cream and caramel drizzle, it’s heavenly.  The edges are a bit crispy, combined with the gooiest middle…..yum!

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The Best Homemade New York Style Slice!

How to make the perfect New York slice…..something we have been attempting for awhile now.  Making pizza at home often results in something bland where you utilize dough that tastes like flour and sauce from a can.  It does not taste like take out pizza in any way.  We are after that thin crust that gets thicker, like a gradual slope as you reach the edge, that has a millimetre of crisp on the bottom and is soft on the top, that folds in half with no problems with little cracking from underneath.

Here are our secrets to modifying recipes!

1. Use homemade tomato sauce.


2. Your dough recipe should include good amounts of sugar, salt, and oil.  This is where the flavour comes from, and helps transform that dough from tasting like flour.

3. Do not add water to the yeast and let it sit.  Add the dry yeast to the dry flour, along with the other dry ingredients and blend.  Then add the wet ingredients.

4. Use bread flour.  The high gluten content is needed for the desired texture, and responds well to lots of kneading.

5. Knead it for a long time, a good 10 minutes without stopping.  It should pass the “window pane test”- take a piece and stretch it paper thin, and it shouldn’t break.  If it does, keep kneading.

6. We portioned it into 4 balls for a standard dough recipe.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate immediately for a bare minimum of 24 hours, up to 72 hours.  This allows the ingredients, especially the yeast, to “ferment”.  Ferment=flavour!  Note, the 4th ball isn’t in the photo, it was being formed when I took the picture.


7. Gently start spreading each piece of dough on a floured surface to get a small circle, and then hand toss the dough.  Do not cheat!  Hand tossing is extremely important!  We looked up a how-to on the internet to get a step by step tutorial.  It was worth it.

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8. Not too much cheese.  It will look like zero cheese, but trust me.  This is all.  Use only mozzarella, and do not mess around with toppings- pepperoni might work and we might try that, but just cheese is a good starting point.  There aren’t many topping on a typical NY style slice.



9. Preheat your oven to at least 500F, which is as hot as ours would go.  Make it hotter if that is an option.  It only needs a fews minutes to cook at that temperature, and the fast cooking at a high temperature is what gives it that millimetre of crisp crust, that is soft on top.  Leave your pizza stone in the oven as it preheats.  Preheat for 1 hour.  We skipped this step and our first pizza sucked because it wasn’t hot enough.  Our past pizza was a work of art- it had the hottest oven and hottest pizza stone.

10.  Use a pizza peel, or in our case, a make-shift one, to slide the pizza onto the hot stone.  We used a cast iron flat griddle.  The pizza stone should never leave the oven.  And don’t forget to top the pizza while it is sitting on the peel, you will never get it on afterwards (we made that mistake only once haha!)


11. Do not skip any of the above, or try to cheat!  This is the most important thing to remember!  It was fun to make, and we did it together with the radio playing.  We always have great talks while cooking together, and it made 4 large sized pizzas!  Enough for us to have several meals from it.  We will not be going back to any other method ;)



Look at that! Yum!


That soft top that I was talking about.


If this doesn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what will!


Perfect NY style fold!


Minimal cracking!


This is the shape you get if you forget to top the pizza not on the peel. haha.


Another beautiful fold.


That millimetre of crisp crust that has the ability to fold!



This pairs well with the following salad:

- iceberg lettuce (we added a little green leaf lettuce too)

- oil, vinegar, and herb dressing (we used Newman’s Own Oil and Vinegar)

- thinly sliced red onions

- lots of pickled pepperoncinis, and a slash of the juices

- parmesan

- black pepper

- a few croutons

Do not skip the pepperoncinis!  They are SO important!  A bite of pepperoncini with every bite of salad.  And use your hand to coat the lettuce with the dressing, black, pepper, and parm all at once.

We wash and spin all our lettuce at once, so while the leftover pizza is warming, the salad is ready in just a few minutes!

Best. Meal. Ever.

Summer 2014- A Glimpse

This summer has gone by SO fast.  I had to take a moment and think about what  I actually did because it really just flew by.  Then I realized, we had some great adventures!  Here is a sample:

1. Went to the zoo.

2. Went to the botanical gardens.

3. Picnic in the park on a sunny day.

4. The Artist got his first tattoo.  See: http://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/the-artists-first-tattoo/

5. We spent a weekend with my sister and brother in law.

6. We played darts at Blueberry Hill.

7. Horror movie marathon with a friend.

8. Became good friends with our new neighbour across the hall.

9. Discovered a great, brand new Goodwill store nearby with great items.

10. Went to one of our favourite restaurants for Pad Thai, called Basil Spice.

11. Saw the latest Wes Anderson movie in theatres, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

12. Went to the circus.

13. Each celebrated a birthday.

14. Went to some art shows.

15. The Artist made homemade alfredo pasta with grilled pork loin.  I don’t even like alfredo sauce but he had a vision.  So I tried some- it was AMAZING!  I guess it is the stuff in jars or pre-made sauce that I don’t like because this homemade sauce was delicious.


16. Went bowling.

17. A walk in forest park at dusk on a brisk, beautiful day.

18. The Artist had his thesis show and I threw him a little surprise.  See: http://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/surprise/

19. We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary.  Read about our love story here! http://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/3-years-of-the-best-marriage-ever/

20. I got a job!  Which involved the getting work permission, which was stressful, but  I did it!

21. The Artist got gallery representation.  Yes, that’s right!  He has been a busy beaver with that.

22. I got my ears pierced- for the very first time ever!  Most women get them done so young they don’t even remember it.  I have never had a piercing at all, and it was no pain(or blood)-free!  But I love them and am so excited to try out all kinds of earrings after they heal :)



No wonder summer went by so fast, we were so busy!  I am so fortunate to be able to do all of these things!  The Artist and I are officially announcing that we are staying in St. Louis for now, because I have got a job :)  What a whirlwind it has been these last few months <3  Cheers to our future!

New Skin Care Routine!

I have always had oily skin for as long as I can remember.  My face in particular, is always full of little blemishes, as well as giant, red, “volcano” pimples here and there.  It seems that I am never blemish free, always having new ones appear.  In fact, I have never thought of myself to have clear skin, or at least not on my face.  As a teenager, it was worse.  But as an adult, I thought my face would chill out and become “normal”.  It has not.  I have tried lots of different cleansers and moisturizers, as well as acne spot treatment creams.  There were all ok.  Helped a little I guess.  Helped me feel less “greasy”.  I also have oily hair, so by the end of each day I am really looking forward to a shower because I feel “greasy” from my naturally oily self.

The Artist has been using baby powder in his under arms in place of deodorant sometimes, especially if his skin was irritated from chafing (because the deodorant would sting!), much like how ladies can get chafing from their thighs rubbing together when wearing a skirt in the hot summer.  So we were talking one day about this, and he was wondering if cornstarch would be better because it does’t have that baby powder scent, and I thought of baking soda.  I thought that it might be useful not only for being gentle on his irritated skin, but it would also be a good deodorizer.  So he gave it a whirl!  Just patted it on, and away he went.  It worked really well!  By the end of the day, after applying it just once, he was hooked.  His under arms literally had no scent at all, and it was so gentle on his skin.  It even says right on the box that it is useful for the skin and gives directions on how to add it to bath water, use on your face, etc. (no where on our box does it say anything about baking lol!).

So I decided to try it on my face, and to make sure I that I knew any results were not from the products I already had, I eliminated all my other facial products and replaced them with natural ones.  My cleanser/exfoliator was replaced with baking soda mixed with a little watet to make a sort of paste that I rubbed on my face and then rinsed off.  My moisturizer was replaced with a blend of coconut and oregano oil, which was mostly coconut oil and just a few drops of oregano oil.  I use oregano oil for everything!  And I replaced my acne spot treatment with oregano oil on a cotton swab diluted with a bit of water.

I used the baking soda once a day, right after I got out of the shower.  I used the moisturizer as needed, and only a little, about once every 2-3 days after exfoliating.  And I used the spot treatment oregano oil as needed right before bed, every 3-4 days.  I noticed a difference immediately, after the first 24 hours.  My blemishes looked a lot less “angry”, although still there.  I continued with this regimen and I continued to feel less “greasy” and my blemishes continued to go down.  I continued for 2 weeks just to make sure it wasn’t a coincidence, and I am happy to say that this is my new long term facial regimen :D

The before and after photos are not the best, they don’t capture the “real” way they looked very well, but it was the best I could do.

BEFORE (forehead): loads of little blemishes.



BEFORE (chin): lots of little blemishes and a few big, red spots.



AFTER (forehead): much better :)



AFTER (chin): much better :)




These photos obviously have different lighting, some were taken in the bathroom, and some in my front room mirror- wherever I could zoom in and get a reasonably clear window of my skin!

I am so happy with my new facial routine, hopefully it will continue to work well for me :)