Keeping Up With…Everything

I don’t know about you, but lately I seem to be more behind in my viewing than ever before. This is astounding to me as I once had two (yes, 2) VCRs set to program a full 12 hours each week.

I no longer use my VCR or my DVR, and I do have a streaming service or two, so I can catch up if I want to. But do I?

I’m also the one who, in case you are new to the blog, set up a yearly Media Calendar specifically geared to keep up with shows I want to watch. This is usually done around 9/1 in time for the new Fall Season to arrive.

It is, therefore, a touch odd for me to note that there are items on the calendar that I have yet to actually watch. I might have caught the season premiere and enjoyed it, but weekly?

Star Trek: Picard just arrived and I am thrilled. It drops on CBS All Access on Thursdays, but I seem to be watching it on Saturday evening. Why? Well, with the first episode I wanted to not get caught up in the online sturm and drang and just experience it and The Ready Room when I could focus on them with a clear head.

Murdoch Mysteries Season 13 recently began being released on AcornTV and drops an episode every Monday. I admit it has been a long wait in between seasons and I’m enjoying every single second of the new material. Even the creepy <shudder> Halloween episode.

As I managed to catch the October Grunge, I also managed to miss several episodes of NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles and NCIS New Orleans.

I am still a Gibbs Girl, but wasn’t all that excited by Ziva’s return. I don’t particularly care for Torres, either. This can create some issues when catching up.

I enjoy NCIS-NOLA, but the loss of LaSalle was a bit devastating and I haven’t seen the episodes surrounding that sad event. I’m not sure I’m ready to delve into Pride’s head at this point, either. Last season was rocky enough.

I’m glad to have the NCIS-LA team back (go Hetty!) and have managed to keep up with them more than the others. Go figure. Maybe it is the “old married couple” dynamic that is Sam and G, I’m not sure. Somehow it just seems comfortable.

And, yes, I get the irony of that, too. 🙂

I enjoyed God Friended Me a lot, but for whatever reason when the October thing hit, I got out of the rhythm of watching and now… Not sure.

I looked forward to, and enjoyed what I’ve seen of both Bob Hearts Abishola and Stumptown, but somehow they have been put on back burners, too.

I am eagerly awaiting the next (and last) season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Can’t come along soon enough.

All that being said, what am I watching, you ask?

I’ve been catching quite a few documentaries on British history along with several episodes of Escape to the Country and various cookery shows. British shows. Lots of British shows. I sense a theme here.

I really am enjoying the opportunity to explore Britain and learn more about the country. it isn’t just the vloggers I follow on YouTube, it is the other material that catches my interest.

A couple of years ago it was Australia care of their version of Better Homes and Gardens. I do manage to catch a couple of episodes of the Bondi Vet – we were introduced to Dr. Chris Brown on Saturday morning syndication on CBS.

Maybe it is latent wanderlust. I don’t know.

It isn’t just the regularly scheduled programming I’m not keeping up with as I used to. I have similar issues with a few of my YouTube regulars.

Justin Scarred is back to filming. Both he and Ally have been under the weather. Tim Trackers are also back now that baby Jackson has arrived and the new family is getting organized. Magic Journeys are also putting out new content – and I’m seeing where they are expanding beyond the usual Disney areas more and more. I’m thinking (and could be wrong) that they are getting more invitations to media events as their channel grows.

Me? I’m just not ready to repeat the usual runs and, to be honest, am not all that interested in another round of visits to the Star Wars Land attractions.

Yes, the theming is amazing and yes the rides are exciting, but somehow… once or twice or even three times was enough. I really would rather go and have a nice meal at the Blue Bayou or sit by the river and watch the ducks. The Florida parks are their usual wondrous things, but with all the construction … I’ll pass watching for now.

Maybe I need to find out what’s new on the Discover Wisconsin channel on Roku? I’ve enjoyed some seriously beautiful scenery and lots of interesting people.

The funny thing about having so many options is that at the end of the day, you can only keep up with a few and after a while you need a break. The nice thing about some of these options is that the viewer no longer has to wait for rerun season and hope that missed episodes will air.

Which reminds me What’s My Line from 1955 is available on Amazon. I’ve been enjoying that, too. Care to join me?

Holiday Entertainment

By now, you have probably been seeing the holiday specials and programming that have appeared on the TV.

Old Time Radio Shows

In our house, there is a semi-tradition in place where we indulge in a lot (!!!) of Old Time Radio holiday shows.

Radiooncemore.com is in the midst of its December Holiday Gift where they program 24/7 holiday shows from Old Time Radio. You have access to their line up via their website and through a variety of Internet radio players. I use TuneIn.

Check out their line up by going to Radiooncemore.com where you will find their schedule and links to listen.

Some of the other OTR stations I listen to are beginning to include holiday programming into their lineups. Bygolly OTR, Antioch OTR, Conyers Old Time Radio are some that I follow.

Movies and Television

I used to follow quite a few shows every season, but lately it hasn’t been easy to keep up.

Peanuts, The Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty, all are favorites. If you don’t already own them on DVD, you can often find them on the streaming platforms for various networks. Amazon seems to have quite an interesting collection of holiday specials and movies.

One thing I do look forward to each year is curling up with “The Muppets Christmas Carol”. Disney+ has included that along with several other holiday shows in their lineup.

Need Prep Ideas?

I have to admit I’m also hooked on some of the older holiday preparation shows that can be found on YouTube. Delia Smith has a multi part production about getting ready for an English Christmas. Entertaining With Beth and Domestic Geek have an impressive collection of videos focusing on easy holiday entertaining.

I’ve also been enjoying Hermione Chantal’s series on decorating and gift making. She is as creative as usual and many of her ideas could be kid friendly. 🙂

Whatever you choose to indulge in for holiday entertainment, don’t forget to pop some popcorn, make some cocoa and take some time to relax.

Tackling UFOs

R U Stuck Creatively?

In the crafting world “UFO” means Unfinished Objects. Usually a quilt or large project that has been left to sit for various reasons.

In the rest of the world, I think UFO refers to those things on a seemingly unending To Do List that never seem to get done.

I’m guilty of this. Big (or maybe not so big) projects that I really need to do simply to answer a question or two, let alone resolve a cleaning issue. Cleaning out and inventorying my pantry, for example.

I can have a better handle on meal planning when I know what I have on hand and what I need to purchase.

Recharge your creative batteries!

I’m beginning to think that one of the biggest hurdles to moving forward with Change is tackling the left overs and clearing the decks.

There are always the general day-to-day things that we do simply to keep moving; food, dishes, laundry, trash, etc. But even within those tasks are tasks that keep being pushed to the “I’ll do it later” stack.

More than just clearing the decks, however, tackling UFOs opens up space to be creative. It gets rid of those things that are preventing you from trying new things.

Lots of us get stuck in the rut of “I can’t start anything new until I finish all my pending stuff.” or some such.

Could this be considered self-sabotage?

Can’t start the New Eating Plan until all the old food is eaten.

Can’t start the New Craft Project until all the old projects are done.

Can’t find a New Series to Watch until I’ve caught up with all the old ones.

A few years ago I spent a couple of weeks away from home recovering from surgery. As such, my regular TV schedule was put by the wayside and I lost momentum with several series. Turns out, I had the opportunity to catch up, but didn’t.

Recently, for various reasons, my TV viewing schedule has been put on the sidelines, not because I can’t, but because I don’t want to keep up.

If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know how dedicated I can be to those few shows I keep up with. This change has been unsettling and interesting.

I’ve spent time focusing on classes, checking out new videographers, exploring topics I had previously had only a passing interest in.

As a result of this, I’ve rekindled an interest in a craft I’d put aside and am now contemplating tackling again. I gathered new material to use when I’m ready. I’ve added information that I can use later.

By clearing out my “I have to do this” list, I made room for the “I might want to do this” list.

To put it another way, by cleaning out the closet, I’ve made room for new things.

If you are stuck, in whatever version of “creativity” you prefer, maybe you need to consider that not all projects left unfinished need to be “finished” and that you can give yourself permission to either hand them off or leave them be and go on to the next.

Keep It Simple

How to Keep Your Interest Without Becoming Overwhelmed

I love the excitement of finding some thing new that I want to try or read or watch or… Well, you get the idea. 🙂

The problem is, life has a way of interrupting the excitement and sometimes I lose track of that Wonderful Whatever to the point where I forget what made me excited about it in the first place.

I love history, films, music, TV, books, and loads of other things.

My crafting is pretty simple – I’ve been known to put a project down for years (really) only to pick it up and finally finish it. That is one reason my crafting has to be simple. Complicated projects could be sidelined for so long as to be unfinishable.

I love to crochet, but I do it so infrequently I have to relearn every single time. Really.

I’m also the person who jumps in a few yards ahead of where I probably should start.

I started my first quilting projects not by sewing simple squares together, but sewing hand cut half hexagons and triangles.

I dare add that my foray into sewing was a (thankfully) brief project for Home Economics class in High School that didn’t exactly work out. <cough>

Back to the quilting, while jumping into the middle, if not the deep end, of the pool might not be the best idea ever, I did learn a lot. And I gained quite a few tools. And fabric.

My card making is, deliberately, not high end. I have loads of paper, tools, embellishments, etc., and I enjoy the process, but I am still learning.

I love to cook and bake, but as I’m only feeding me, my major creativity tends to be … tampered a bit. I like being able to wear a smaller size than I used to. 🙂

What I love about watching DIY and How To videos is not just the fascination with the various projects but the rekindling of excitement for a process.

If you are hesitant about starting a new project, or if yourself stuck might I suggest a thought?

Start small.

You may want to dive in and create the most amazing 15 layer wedding cake that you can see in your imagination, but if you have little to no actual baking experience…maybe that might be a project best done in future.

I find scratch baking easy and enjoyable, but that’s me. I also know my limitations. While 15 layers could be a showstopper, I might actually start out with 2 just to see how the recipe works and if I need to do a bit of tweaking.

Those triangles and half hexagons I mentioned will soon be re-cut into new, smaller, shapes that I can use for other blocks in other projects.

Odd note about one of those fabric lines; by the time I finished cutting all those half hexagons I was mortally sick of the fabric. Sad, but true. When I pulled it out of the drawer recently, however, I found I loved it once again. The colors are beautiful, the patterns lovely and I was excited to think about how I would use it.

These days I’m less inclined (let alone interested) in making a full sized quilt and more interested in table runners, mug rugs and the like.

If you need to regain your excitement for anything, start slow, revisit what caught your attention and take smaller steps. Build on what you learn so when you face those 15 layers of cake with buttercream frosting it won’t be such a huge undertaking.

Life really is more about the journey rather than the destination. Take the time to enjoy the trip.

Downton Abbey

Wistful Thinking

As I write this, the new Downton Abbey movie will open in the United States on Friday, 9/20/2019.

I can’t help but feel a bit wistful. I watched the entire series when it appeared on PBS. I even occasionally delve into favorite episodes on Amazon.

The trials and tribulations of the Crawley family and their staff have been comfortable companions for many years, but it is the house that captivates me.

You see, at the very core of the series (and the film) is the house. The house was the whole reason for anyone to be there at all. It sustained those who lived within it and around it. The care and tending of such an amazing structure was the sole purpose of all.

As a person who lives in a country where homes simply haven’t existed more than 300 years (and I’m padding that because the country itself isn’t that old) I can’t wrap my head around a family home that goes back several hundred years.

I can’t explain it any more than others. There is something about the history, the architecture, the people that captivate and encourage attention.

In the meantime, I’ll ponder yet again the history of Downton and wonder what everyone has been up to. All while imagining taking tea in the garden with the flowers in bloom.

Like I said, wistful thinking. 🙂

It’s Reset Time Again

For those with kids in school, you already know about starting fresh. For the rest of us…

What is Reset Time?

Reset Time is when you do small tasks around the house to get ready for the next few months.

I recently cleared my YouTube Search and Watch Histories and made sure to rest my Roku box to be sure the latest software had been loaded.

Once the YouTube histories are cleared, I go back and research my favorites so the new videos will show on the screen when I log on.

If you are like me, and you find yourself searching for something a bit out of the ordinary, those searches bring a lot of other content up that you might not want on a regular basis. The reset and research will help clear that.

When the weather settles down (right now we are having a rainy spell), I’ll reset all my channels on my TV, too. Doing that, however, also requires that I reset my Watch Schedule app on the TV.

Speaking of TV schedules, I recently downloaded the latest TV Line Fall TV Premier Calendar and updated my media calendar. I also like to set my scheduling app to automatically go to those channels so I don’t miss something by being a bit…distracted. 😉

You Have a Media Calendar?

Yep. There was a time when I could keep my watch schedule in my head. We won’t go into how long ago that was.

I set up a separate calendar where I track the TV shows I follow, the movies I want to see and any books that will be released during the year. The TV shows all include the network they are on so I don’t have to dig. It has been years since I subscribed to any type of guide, so this works for me.

With different season starts for various platforms and networks, it just made sense for me to have a one stop spot to keep track of what I really wanted to see. The rest <shrug> I can add if/when I want.

This collection of small chores can take a few minutes, but the end results will help you keep track of things that matter and disregard those that don’t. They also help you keep your electronic tools up to date.

Happy Reset Time!

Cord Cutting. What is It?

Cord Cutting is the process of reducing, or eliminating, dependence on cable or satellite subscription services to get television content.

This could include a return to antennas, utilizing streaming platforms like Amazon Prime, and/or streaming players like Amazon Fire Stick or Roku boxes.

For some people, cable or satellite services are the only way to actually get access to television programming. Over the air antenna streams just don’t reach. But for those who live in urban areas, subscription services may not be necessary.

Further, the complaint about paying for channels you don’t watch and not having the ability to pick and choose what you prefer to watch has been around as long as cable.

To be fair, cable subscription packages have included a broad range of channels to appeal to a broad range of subscribers. The cost of that package is dependent upon not only the amount of subscribers, but the cost of the content from providers.

TV isn’t cheap. No matter what it looks like.

Streaming provides flexibility in ways that might surprise you. YouTube has tons of free content – many of it older over the air shows that you might not have had access to. Some content providers have channels that have high quality content you won’t find on broadcast or cable.

In this first of what I hope to be a series of articles on cord cutting, I will give you an idea of what is out there, and how to determine if you should be exploring it more for yourself.

Where to Start

The first thing to consider is what, exactly, you watch. Are you devoted to specific shows? Follow sports? Interested in movies? Looking for out of the ordinary programming?

For myself, I sat down and made a list of what I watched and where I watched it. My list had all the shows I watched and what networks carried them. I then added a list of shows I wanted to watch.

For example; I discovered I spent a lot of time on CBS because the shows I followed were there. My second network was PBS, which was troublesome because the antenna service for my local PBS outlet was really bad. So bad, I could no longer get the channel over the air.

Now that you have your list, you can check to see where you can watch those shows. IMBD.com is a great resource for this. Established shows will have a list on their IMDB.com page showing where you can find the show. New entries will let you know the network and later fill in other where to see data.

Streaming Boxes?

PC Magazine has compiled a list of the Best Media Streaming Devices for 2019. It is worth taking a look at, if for no other reason than to really see your options.

Streaming boxes connect to a wide variety of streaming services that will allow you to access a variety of content – quite a bit for free.

You pay a one time fee to buy the box and then access various services thru the box. (No monthly rental fee for the box.)

I have a Roku box that I use to access not only Amazon, but CBS All Access, PBS and a variety of other channels that change depending upon if I use them or not.

Yes, I can change the content I want to watch at any time. 🙂

But Does It Really Save Money?

The amount you save can vary, but let me share with you my experience.

The average cost of cable in my area is $100.00 per month ($1,200 per year).

Right now I pay $12.99 for Amazon Prime. I pay $5.99 for CBS All Access (no commercials would cost me $9.99). Acorn TV is $4.99 while BritBox is $6.99.

Right now I’ve dropped both Acorn and BritBox because the series I watch will not have new season episodes for a few months. I’ll add them back to the mix later. I keep my CBS All Access for the simple reason that I can get the live feed from my local station over the air. This is important if the weather is bad and broadcast is disrupted.

So, with just Amazon Prime and CBS All Access, my monthly TV bill is a whopping $18.94 ($227.28 per year). Amazon Prime also has thousands of free movies and television shows in addition to those that are available for rent. CBS All Access also has their lineup plus classic shows and movies that update regularly. With these two subscriptions I’ve saved almost $1,000 per year. But that’s not all.

My Roku box has hundreds of channels that are available at your discretion. Some are free to watch, others require cable subscriptions. Browse their channel lineup and you will see PBS, PBS Kids, HBO, Showtime, Acorn, BritBox, America’s Test Kitchen among others.

Two of my favorite streaming services are Pluto and Stirr. Both of these platforms collect other streaming feeds into one location that allow you to find programming. Interested in game shows? Look for BZZR. Want classic SciFi? How about some NASA feeds? Check out their channel listings to see what is available.

Yes, you can find many of these options on your computer, but really, who wants to spend the evening curled up with your laptop?

I’m going to leave you here. I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. Why not sit down and make your list? Check out all the channels Amazon is offering. You might be as surprised as I was.

I’d be interested to learn more about your experience. Go to the Comments tab and fill in the form. Let me know what you learned and what you plan on doing next.