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15 Mar 15:42

Sourdough From Scratch

by Countryside Contributor

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By Jenny Underwood – Baking bread has to be one of my favorite things to do (and eat), and while I love all types of bread, sourdough from scratch is my absolute number one! Why? It’s versatile, simple, and amazingly delicious, not to mention super healthy for you. It’s also incredibly cheap to make because it doesn’t require many ingredients. With all of these reasons to love sourdough, you may be thinking, but what about a starter? Aren’t they hard to make and keep? I’m so glad you asked.

First off, sourdough has been around for a long time. No one knows exactly, but I’m betting pretty close to the beginning of time. How someone thought to make sourdough or if it came about by accident isn’t known either, but I do know that sourdough is a simple and easy starter to make and keep happy.

Here’s how to make a delightful starter with just a few ingredients. (Note: I use pineapple juice because it helps your starter get going faster and produces a sourdough that isn’t too sour.)

  • 1⁄4 cup flour (I use freshly ground Prairie Gold, but you can use anything you want as long as it’s all- purpose.)
  • 1⁄4 cup pineapple juice
  • Wide mouth canning jar

Mix the flour and juice together to form a thick batter. Pour in the canning jar and cover with a piece of muslin or a clean dishcloth fastened on with a rubber band. (There are special lids with mesh for canning jar ferments, and that’s what I use and love.)

Allow the mixture to sit in a cool, dark place. Add 1⁄4 cup of flour and 1⁄4 cup of juice each day for five days. Stir each time and replace the lid. By around the fifth day, it should start bubbling. Your sourdough starter from scratch is now active, but immature.

Now you can start adding one cup of flour and one cup of water during your feedings. You will feed the first full feeding without discarding, but after that, you will need to discard one to one-and-a-half cups each time and add back equal amounts of flour and water. In the beginning, it will encourage a very active starter if you do this daily or every couple of days. After four to six weeks, you will have a mature starter that you can feed just once a week, which can make a delicious sandwich loaf without any added yeast. Before it’s mature, you can still make lots of yummy loaves of bread that don’t require such a high rise.

Sourdough Pizza Crust

  • 1 1⁄2 cups sourdough starter
  • 1 1⁄2 cups cool water
  • 3-5 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

Mix together the sourdough starter and water.
Then add two cups of flour and sugar. Mix well and let sit covered for an hour. Then add in oil, salt, and enough flour to form a thick dough. Either knead in an electric mixer or by hand for two minutes adding flour as needed. Remember, it’s easier to add in flour if it’s too wet, but harder to add moisture if it’s too dry. Sourdough is a stickier dough and benefits from not adding too much flour.

After it’s smooth, coat in olive oil and place in a covered bowl to ferment. If possible, allow eight hours, but if you can’t wait, you can roll it out and use it after an hour. It’s perfect to do this the night before and bake for breakfast or lunch or mix it up in the morning and have it for supper.

Now it’s time to roll out the dough onto greased pizza stones, iron skillets, or pizza pans. (This makes two large thin crusts or two smaller thick crusts.) Cover with sauce, cheese, and toppings and bake at 420 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden. You’ll never go back to regular pizza crust after this!

You can also use a sourdough from scratch starter in place of milk in biscuits or pancakes. Simply add the starter in where it calls for milk. Add the baking powder or starter right at the end because it will cause a tremendous rise when it reacts together (because of the acidity), and you want that to happen when it is going in the oven or pan, not sitting on the counter. For the perfect sandwich bread, you need your mature starter. You can make this before your starter is mature, but it won’t rise much.

  • 1 1⁄2 cups sourdough starter
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 3-5 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt

A word on ingredients here — I use freshly ground 100% whole wheat Prairie Gold flour, pink Himalayan salt, extra virgin olive oil, raw sugar, and unchlorinated water. Of these, the unchlorinated water is an absolute must, but you can use whatever flour, sweetener, oil, and salt you prefer.

Mix your starter and water together. Add in one cup of flour and sugar. Mix well and let sit until bubbly (45-60 minutes). Add in oil, salt, and enough flour to make a thick dough. Knead on bread setting in an electric mixer for two minutes or by hand until smooth. When I use my mixer, I only knead the two minutes, pour my sticky dough onto a floured counter, and knead by hand until smooth. Divide into two pieces. Roll out about an inch thick, then roll up jelly roll-style and tuck in the ends. Place in greased loaf pans, turning to coat with oil, and cover. Let rise in a warm place for eight hours or overnight. Bake in an oven at 385 degrees F for 30 minutes or until golden. I put mine in the cold oven, then turn it on as it seems to help the dough rise more. Brush the tops with melted butter. Allow to sit in the pan for five minutes, then remove to a baking rack to cool. Cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting for your best results. Store in a large plastic bag, aluminum foil, or bread box. It will keep for several days. One of the great things about sourdough from scratch is it allows me to eat bread without digestive problems.

My husband can eat sourdough too, without getting heartburn. I’ve also read that sourdough positively affects blood sugar levels because it slows the release of sugars. For me, it’s a huge time saver, money saver, and it tastes awesome! How can you go wrong with food like that?

Have you tried making sourdough from scratch? How did it turn out? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Originally published in Countryside January/February 2022 and regularly vetted for accuracy.

The post Sourdough From Scratch appeared first on Countryside.

01 Dec 15:27

Cyber Cafe

Since we haven't really settled on a name for those online hangout/work spaces that try to recreate the experience of cafes, and I love confusion, I'm going to start calling them 'cyber cafes' or 'internet cafes.'
17 Jul 19:33

collateral damage

by canoelover

My wife has a lovely little vegetable garden.

I have ground squirrel traps set in the backyard around Stephanie’s garden as they like to eat her veggies, and the fencing and marigolds weren’t holding them off.

Checking the traps, I found one empty, one with a small rodent, and one with a beautiful bullfrog, caught by the lip. Not dead, but. clearly terminal if it can’t figure out a way to eat.
I picked it up and for some reason, started to weep. I couldn’t explain it, I just felt like I had been kicked in the chest by a mule.
I put the frog under my shack in the backyard. In thinking about it, I realized the reason I felt so sad was that I took a life that was totally innocent and had no reason to die. A dead ground squirrel who is devouring our garden is one thing; a creature that was just minding its own business and hopping along the side of the house is another thing altogether. The frog did nothing.

Collateral damage when an innocent person is harmed by the careless actions of others. I don’t care if it’s a bullet or a bean bag or teargas or a mouse trap. The frog was at the right place, behind the ferns, eating slugs; but the wrong time (after I had set out a trap). 

Black people walk around carrying the wrong time with them every day by just existing. They start half in the wrong place. I see red lights in the rear view mirror, I get a little gripped. My Black friends see red lights and get a surge of adrenalin and wonder of they’re going to get through the next fifteen minutes.

Just something to think about while hopping around.

Respectfully submitted,

13 May 02:17

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in Three Minutes

by Jason Kottke

The Pacific Crest Trail runs 2650 miles from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington. Hiking the whole thing usually takes months, but this video by Mac of Halfway Anywhere compresses the entire experience down to just three minutes presented in 1-second snippets.

I was skeptical about this going in — I thought it was going to be like watching one of those impossible-to-follow “my life in one-second increments” videos — but the consistent presence of the path tied all the disparate moments into a cohesive journey. You can check out a much longer cut of the same journey and a similar edit of the Continental Divide Trail in four minutes.

The scenery in both of these videos are spectacular and remind me of my roadtrips from the past two years. (via @stewartbrand)

Tags: hiking   travel   video
19 Jul 13:18

The Best Way to Salt Meat

by Jeremy Anderberg

Great tip!

If you’re like most people, including myself up until recently, when it comes time to grill some meat, you sprinkle on the seasoning and salt right before you throw it on the fire. And it turns out well. No harm, no foul, and some tasty meat. 

But lately I’ve adopted a tip that has totally changed my grilling game — and in fact how I prepare meat for any sort of cooking — for the better.

Here goes: Apply salt well before cooking, up to a full day in fact, and you’ll end up with the juiciest, most balanced cut of meat you’ve ever tasted. 

This method is called “dry brining,” and it has a number of fans. AoM’s resident chef, Matt Moore, told me he “absolutely believes in the dry brine.”  

Another proponent is Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (and host of the superb Netflix series of the same name), which is how I was introduced to the idea.

But dry brining is actually somewhat of a controversial practice. Those against it say it dries out the meat too much, extracting the moisture and therefore making it tougher. Salt, after all, is how meat used to be preserved sans refrigeration, and it’s still a big component of making jerky today. 

But the effect of salt on meat varies with time. Loading meat with heavier doses of salt and allowing it to sit for long periods will cure the meat and indeed draw out its moisture. 

But as Nosrat writes, when meat is brined with less salt, for less time, you actually get the opposite effect: “salt will dissolve protein strands into a gel, allowing them to absorb and retain water better as they cook.” 

Nosrat gets more into this chemical process in her book, and while a little science-y, it’s worth understanding: 

Think of a protein strand as a loose coil with water molecules bound to its outside surface. When an unseasoned protein is heated, it denatures: the coil unravels, releasing water molecules out of the protein matrix, leaving the meat dry and tough if overcooked. By disrupting the protein structure, salt prevents the coil from densely coagulating, or clumping, when heated, so more of the water molecules remain bound. The piece of meat remains moister, and you have a greater margin of error for overcooking. [emphasis mine]

The takeaway here is that pre-salting not only keeps meat juicer, it makes it harder for you to overcook it! That alone makes it a winner, especially when working with chicken and pork. 

One final benefit: Dry brining gives the meat a better distribution of flavor. When you season just the top of a piece of meat immediately before cooking, you often end up with an outer layer that has good flavor, but then an inner layer that seems bland by comparison. Salting ahead of time, however, ensures the entire cut gets evenly flavored. Over time, the grains of salt dissolve and actually penetrate through into the meat; because of the principle of diffusion — a slow process — the salt will seek chemical balance within the flesh, which creates an even distribution.

Salting your meat ahead of time is just too easy to not do. I get that sometimes you’re stopping at the store after work for some meat and immediately plopping it onto the grill when you get home. That’s just fine. But when you have the meat ahead of time, always salt and let sit.

How to Dry Brine Your Meat 

When salting meat for cooking, any time is better than none, and more is better than some. Aim to season meat the day before cooking when possible. —Nosrat

You can dry brine just about any kind of meat: poultry (including whole), pork (including larger cuts like the shoulder; don’t do ham, though, as it’s already well salted), beef, and even seafood (should only be salted for about 15 minutes though). If using ground meats — say for burgers or meatballs — only apply after preparing (salt the exterior of the burgers/meatballs rather than the entirety of the meat) and only for a couple hours; ground flesh just responds differently to salting since it has more surface area.    

As mentioned above, you can use this method when preparing meat for any sort of cooking, be it steaks on the grill, pork butt for slow-cooking, chicken breast slices for pan-fried fajitas, whole birds for oven roasting, etc. You wouldn’t, however, combine a dry brine with a marinade. Most marinades are vinegar-based and do different things to the meat than what you’re intending to do with the salt. As for other dry seasonings: let the salt work on its own first, then apply your other steak or fajita seasonings just prior to cooking. With those other spices, you’re mostly looking to add flavor to the exterior anyway. 

Here’s how you do it: 

1. Apply 1/2-3/4 tsp of salt per pound of meat, spreading it evenly over the surface — top, bottom, and sides. It’s not a crazy amount of salt, but most likely more than what you’d normally add. Use kosher or table salt; whatever you have is just fine. Note that salt will penetrate skin; so go ahead and apply directly to the exterior of poultry that has the skin still on. (As an added bonus, the salt will dry the skin, making it extra crispy and delicious.)

2. Stick in the fridge — no need to cover — for anywhere from 2-24 hours (whatever your schedule and fridge space allows for). Note that large pieces like whole turkeys, chickens, pork butts, etc. can be salted up to about 48 hours in advance with no ill effects.

3. Remove meat from fridge and cook! 

The post The Best Way to Salt Meat appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

06 Mar 14:15

4 Lessons From a 4-Week Social Media Fast

by Jeremy Anderberg

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. —Thoreau

February 4, 2019 

Dinner was mostly cleared from the table, but there were still a few random dishes out, and stray crumbs on the floor from the kids. Cleanup was 90% done, and I was tackling that last 10% in a slow, unhurried manner. As I was at the sink, I heard a giggle or two from the kids, who were playing in the living room. Then those giggles grew into full-on belly laughs, and my wife’s laughter joined the chorus.

I smiled, instinctively, at the noise.

As a parent, noise of any kind is often the last thing you want. Silence — the complete lack of commotion — is a kind of beautiful non-music to our ears.

And yet, to hear my family laughing together on the floor . . . that was truly an enchanting sound.

So I turned around to get a look at the action. My 3-year-old son had piled some pillows on the floor, and he and my 11-month-old daughter were taking turns gleefully throwing themselves onto this fluffy mountain. As soon as my wife laid down on those pillows, she became part of the landscape upon which the kids wrestled and rolled. The sublime, joyous, unforced laughter continued.

And so I just stood there in the kitchen, for a few full minutes at least, taking it all in, the Lumineers providing a movie-like soundtrack for the scene. I know that doesn’t seem long, but in the moment it felt like a rapturous eternity. I simply soaked it in and tried as hard as I could to absorb every detail; I immediately knew this was a moment I’d never want to forget. This is the stuff that life, and parenting, is made of.

After my wife caught me looking, I told her that if I had a heart-o-meter, it would have nuclear exploded.


This particular evening took place a few days after my social media fast ended.

Before giving up social media for the month of January, I’d spend maybe an hour on it a day, mostly in 5 minute snatches of time scattered through my waking hours — quick work breaks, waiting in lines, while watching TV at night, etc. I wasn’t “addicted” to social media; I mostly used it as a boredom killer and to entertain myself at night when the kids were in bed. (Late night comedy clips are one of my weaknesses.) I would also spend probably another hour or so dinking around on news apps, sports apps, games, etc.

After dinner, while the kids usually play for a little bit before bed, was a common time for me to pick up the phone and fool around a bit. I could peruse social media, check sports scores, see what sort of new idiocy Washington, DC was ginning up. I wasn’t necessarily neglecting my family; if the kids called my name or needed their dad’s attention for a minute, I’d easily put the device away and join the rumpus. But then I’d go back to the phone and putter around some more. I wasn’t fully absorbed in either activity; it was more of a scattered presence that didn’t feel fully in the moment to be sure, but also didn’t feel particularly nefarious. It wasn’t like I was holed away in a corner of the house or zombied out on the couch, oblivious to what was happening.

And yet I have to wonder how many perfect moments — like the one described above — I missed out on being fully present for. It was quite a sobering thought, to say the very least.

After deciding to spend 31 days off of social media (and other time-wasting apps, too), and realizing the immense benefits of curtailing my tech use, I’m fully in the camp of what Cal Newport calls the “Attention Resistance.”

During those 31 days I kept a weekly journal about how the fast was going, and a lesson I took from that particular week.

While my own insights aren’t prescriptive in nature and won’t apply to everyone in the same ways, I do think they are rather instructive as to what can happen when you radically change your social media and smartphone use.

Week 1: Realizing Social Media’s Habitual Nature 

During the late evening hours of New Year’s Eve 2018, after the kids were in bed, I took some time to make a few final scrolls through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I didn’t mention or post that I was taking January off; I wanted to disappear in silence.

And that’s what I did. I deleted the Facebook app. I deleted the Instagram app. I logged out from all accounts on my phone’s browser (which was where most of the Twitter damage was done).

I went to bed at 10pm, truly looking forward to starting 2019 on a social media-less foot.

So, naturally, the 10-month-old baby woke up screaming at about 11:30pm, and wouldn’t go back to sleep until about 1:30am. I didn’t intend to ring in the new year on a conscious level, and yet there I was, rocking a baby to sleep when the clock struck midnight. I’ll admit that my first instinct was to check Facebook. Or Instagram. Anything. I didn’t even want to, really. Just my rebellious human nature coming through there. But I held fast and just closed my eyes.

And so that first temptation passed without incident.


In the days that followed during week 1, I wanted to check in on my accounts to see how friends and family had rung in the new year. Instead, I texted a few close friends and had nice “conversations” that way. Much better than scrolling through a feed and not interacting at all — which is generally what happens.

The most interesting thing about this first week was what not having those apps on my phone did to those habitual boredom-busting tactics. Normally, I’d unlock my phone, and almost instinctively tap on the blue “f” or the purplish camera icon, just to see if any notifications came in, or if anyone in my network had some major life event.

Now, I’d unlock my phone and just sort of stare at it, not really sure what to do. Eventually, I’d click around on various apps — weather, games, Amazon (shopping, not reading) — and quickly get bored and shut ‘er down.

On social media, you don’t have to make any decisions about what to do. The infinite scroll keeps you engaged for . . . well, ever. When you open a weather app, you check the weather for about 10 seconds, and that’s it. When you shop online, you have to intentionally look for something; endlessly clicking on related products gets old pretty quickly. Without those infinite scrolls beckoning for your attention, you realize that your phone isn’t such an alluring device. It’s just a little brick that’s supposed to make your life easier; it’s not supposed to enslave your attention.

(Games of course offer plenty of time-wasting opportunity, but something about being 30 has made me sort of cringe at myself when I play games on my phone, so it doesn’t happen too much, and I in fact just recently deleted the last of those games. I’m a grown man for crying out loud!)

The Lesson: This first insight is in truly learning that social media is much more of a mindless habit — and a very strongly ingrained one — than a pleasurable or fulfilling activity. We do it out of compulsion rather than intention.

Week 2: Missing the Benefits of Social Media

Week 2 started as a breeze, really. To be honest, I had been turned off by social media for a while, and it felt pretty easy to step away from it. To my mind, this meant I was actually quite ready for a break and just needed an excuse to do it. Perhaps that’s all you need too — an excuse to cut it out of your life.

The reality of the world we live in means that I wasn’t actually missing much. My wife would text or email me memes, which was almost more of a fun and personal way to encounter them. Hangouts with friends would inevitably bring up newsy topics that I hadn’t really been privy to. And sometimes, things just fully slipped over my head and turned out to be entirely unimportant. (I had no awareness of that Gillette ad and the mushroom of reaction it caused until, like all flash-in-the-pan sparks of outrage, it had almost completely disappeared from the pop culture spotlight, leaving nothing of real significance behind.) It was nice to run into these things tangentially in the course of conversation rather than having spent hours online.

But then, I ran into a few instances where being on social media — particularly Facebook — would actually have been beneficial.

One morning I was texting with a good friend about biscuits and gravy. Weird, I know, so a little bit of context: I was having some at home, and back in our college days this friend and I would have boatloads of the stuff together. Little did I know that his daughter was actually in the ICU at that very moment. Had I been on social media, I would have known, and I wouldn’t have texted about biscuits and gravy. I only knew about the sick daughter because my wife said something, and I ended up feeling like a bit of a cad (though it is possible he welcomed the silly distraction). I then of course texted him that we were thinking about their family and would do anything we could to help; I also called after realizing that texting wasn’t quite the right medium for conveying those thoughts.

In a similar narrative, I had a different friend from college with a young son who’d been dealing with cancer for much of 2018. Ten years out of college, we weren’t close enough to be on texting or calling terms, but I was certainly interested in what was going on with his family. Without being on social media, I was missing those updates on how he and his kid were doing. (The little guy is now doing very well and pretty much has a clean bill of health!)

Facebook, for the enormous unethical cesspool that it is, actually provides some benefit to my life; it’s not fully just mindless entertainment. I can keep up with people who are important to me without having to send a dozen “Hey what’s going on?” texts. If you cull your friends list to just those you truly care about (rather than those you barely know or people you only follow because you sort of like to hate their posts), you’ll end up with a newsfeed that provides some value.

The real trick with social media is actually weighing those benefits vs. the costs. Before my fast, the amount of time spent on Facebook was not in line with what I was getting out of it. My time on Twitter and Instagram were in the same boat. I was spending too much life — in Thoreau’s words — on the minuscule benefit I was getting. So after the fast, as I’ll dig into a little later, I ditched Twitter completely and reduced my time on Instagram and Facebook to better match the benefit they were providing.

The Lesson: Social media does have actual benefits; it takes a break, though, to realize what they are. Once you’ve had a break, and found some of those real benefits, you can go back to it in a far healthier, and assuredly less time-consuming way. After my fast, I quickly came to realize I could legitimately keep up with the more significant updates my friends’ and family post on social media in just 10-15 minutes per week.

Week 3: Dealing With Boredom

The novelty of the fast was quickly wearing off by week 3. I was finding myself more often in the throes of boredom. At first, the fast was kind of exciting — almost a self-righteous feeling of knowing I wasn’t wasting my life on scrolling. But by week 3 that feeling was waning. I noticed it mostly while waiting — waiting in line anywhere, waiting for my young son to finish going to the bathroom, waiting 5 minutes for my pour over to finish up at the coffee shop, waiting at Walmart for a tire to be patched (I forgot to bring reading material), waiting for the gas tank to fill up . . . 

These small bits of time began to feel excruciatingly long — embarrassingly so, actually. What did it say about me, I wondered, that I get achingly bored after just a couple minutes with nothing to do?

I quickly realized that life offers plenty of waiting, and social media is seemingly the perfect antidote — which is why those companies are some of the world’s most valuable. There’s always something new and it doesn’t take any of what I call “ramping up” to get into. (With reading, for example, it can take a few minutes to get into the flow of it, but many times the wait you’re in the midst of only lasts that long.) Social media can be accessed and de-accessed in mere seconds, and the result is no boredom ever again. In theory, at least. Of course you still get bored with your feeds, you just don’t realize it, because you keep on mindlessly scrolling.

The problem is that boredom can actually be good for you. It fosters thinking. Real thinking. With your brain! What a novel idea. I know that sounds silly, but it really is a bit unique in our world. Instead of diverting to social media with every minute that doesn’t have an allocated activity, I’ve learned to try to actively be thinking about something — planning my day/week, thinking through a decision that needs to be made, “writing” in my head and working out ideas, or even just plain zoning out. While I’m still bored when waiting around in line, and it’s still sometimes a little painful, I’ve come to embrace it as best I can. And my mind truly feels more focused — less scattered and more on top of things — because of it.

The Lesson: Embrace the boredom. Use it to think about something. Or not. It may be painful, but your brain will thank you. If nothing else, keeping your phone put away while waiting for stuff will break the hold that your phone has over your every spare moment (and those spare moments are dang valuable — if used intentionally).

Week 4: A New Philosophy of Social Media & General Phone Use

As my experiment was coming to a close, I started to think seriously about how to let social media back into my life. Cal Newport accurately writes in Digital Minimalism that as consumers we just sort of slid into using these services and apps. They seemed to offer some benefit and some entertainment, so there wasn’t a need to be all that thoughtful and intentional about their use. But now, a decade or so after their introduction, we’ve seen how much time and attention those devices and services can take from us. It’s time to step back and think critically about the role they should play in our lives — to develop a real philosophy around our use of technology.

Newport argues for putting pretty stringent “rules” in place for yourself when it comes to social media and device usage. Make them as specific and in-depth as is necessary — setting time limits on things and limiting your access (with other apps, like Freedom, if needed). The small caveat is that if you’re naturally pretty disciplined about this stuff, you may not need to be as specific. This is the case with me; after making a living on the internet for the last 6 years, I’ve had ample practice in self-discipline in that particular realm. So my own rules didn’t need to be so hard and fast, but yours very well may.

What I came up with:

1. I would reinstall Instagram on my phone, but only use it to post pics 1-2 times per week (of books I’m reading, some of my baking creations, and weekend hikes). For me, it provides hiking/cooking inspiration and some beneficial personal branding without the vitriol found on Twitter and Facebook. I really wish Instagram was easier to post to from a laptop/desktop, but oh well. I’d spend no more than a few minutes every 2-3 days scrolling.

2. I would not reinstall Facebook on my phone. I’d use it only on my computer, for no more than a few minutes every other day. When I see something I want to “like” or comment on, I’ll shoot a text or an email instead. I want social media to be a supplement for my social interactions, not a replacement. I’ll occasionally post pics of the kids, because that’s what my family and close friends most like to see. (I do also really enjoy using the “On This Day” feature, which provides a nice dose of nostalgia from pics you posted on that day in years past.)

3. I would abandon Twitter altogether. It was clear during my fast that I received no actual benefit from it, other than stress- and eye-roll-inducing news items. I also came to realize that things that seemed important on Twitter — from “news” to overwrought outrage at various things — weren’t actually important at all in the real world.

4. I would buy a cheap smartwatch to give me notifications of texts and work emails. I’d always been mostly in the hater camp when it comes to smartwatches, so this came as a surprise even to me, but as I thought about it more, it made more and more sense. Part of my checking my phone so much was to see texts and important work emails that came through. My wife works in health care, and we like to text throughout the day when we can, and she often only has a few spare minutes at a time. So it’s important to me to see things from her right when they come in. Same goes for the occasional work email that requires immediate attention. That doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, I want to be on my toes. So, I ended up checking my phone a lot just to see if there were new texts or emails, which more often than not led to other time-wasting activities. In getting a cheap smartwatch that gives my wrist a little vibration on incoming texts and work emails, I can know within a second or two if something needs attention and if I need to reach for my phone or not. Pretty dang handy, actually.

The Lesson: Take the time to really think about your philosophy — and even specific rules — about your social media and smartphone usage.

Concluding Thoughts

My month off of social media was far more insightful than I thought it would be. After being away for 4 weeks, it oddly felt like it would be more work to jump fully back into the fray and keep up with what was going on. It sounded exhausting, actually. I’m now far more intent on using my phone for thoughtful, purposeful actions rather than letting it control how I use my time.

A month after coming up with the rules above, I can emphatically say it’s all worked without a hitch. I actually now just naturally get bored after more than a couple minutes on Facebook and Instagram every few days — a result that many of the social media fasters profiled in Digital Minimalism experienced as well. I know that sounds sort of holier-than-thou, but it’s the honest-to-goodness truth. And the smartwatch has been surprisingly useful; I’m not reaching for my phone nearly as much, so my overall usage of it has gone down drastically (to less than half of what it was before, according to Apple’s Screen Time app). It’s made a significant, appreciable difference in my life.

Everyone uses (and perhaps struggles with) social media and phone usage in different ways. While I think everyone should take a social media fast — of at least 30 days — what you find out about yourself and your digital consumption will vary from my own results. My lessons were very much individual to me; whether or not they relate to you will depend on your own social media habits, and the particular parts of it you’d like to see change.

The whole point is that I wouldn’t have learned any of this stuff without that fast. So the only prescriptive part of this article is to implore you to take your own 30-day break from social media and other time-wasting apps. As Newport argues, it’s only in temporarily wiping the slate clean, that you can figure out what really matters and what’s really important when it comes to your devices and apps. Then you can truly know what you want to re-introduce into your life, and be able to use what you do bring back in an intentional, fully conscious, life-enhancing-rather-than-life-squandering way.

Related Resources and Further Reading

The post 4 Lessons From a 4-Week Social Media Fast appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

02 Nov 19:50

Nest E + Google Home Mini Bundle $79 YMMV

by JoshuaY66
Nest E + Google Home Mini Bundle $79 YMMV

Thumb Score: +137
Select Walmart Stores [Store Locator] has Nest Thermostat E + Google Home Mini (Link is just for reference) on clearance for $79 valid for In-Store Purchase only (limited availability). Thanks JoshuaY66
19 Apr 16:04

Fosmon Electrical Accessories: 3-Pk Baby Guard Self-Closing Wall Outlet Covers $4 & More + Free S&H

by DJ3xclusive
Fosmon Electrical Accessories: 3-Pk Baby Guard Self-Closing Wall Outlet Covers  $4 & More + Free S&H

Thumb Score: +31
SF Planet via Amazon has select Fosmon Electrical Accessories on sale when you select Sold & Shipped by SF Planet (without Fulfillment by Amazon/Prime) and apply the corresponding promotion codes listed below. Shipping is free. Thanks DJ3xclusive

Note, click the 'from New' link under the 'Add to Cart' button and select the option Sold & Shipped for Free by SF Planet (without Prime) for codes to apply. Codes do not apply to listings shipped/fulfilled by Amazon/Prime.
25 Apr 13:25

The Witcher: Enhanced Edition - Free ($0) at thru Ars Technica 4/25 - 4/27

by Towncivilian
The Witcher: Enhanced Edition - Free ($0) at thru Ars Technica 4/25 - 4/27

Thumb Score: +57
Ars Technica + GOG is offering The Witcher: Enhanced Edition Director's Cut (PC Digital Download) for Free when following the instructions listed below. Thanks Towncivilian

Note, game will be redeemed via GOG.[LIST=1][*]Click this link here
19 Oct 12:50

Barnett Outdoors Lil Banshee Jr. Compound Youth Archery Set $16 + Free Shipping

by slickdewmaster
Barnett Outdoors Lil Banshee Jr. Compound Youth Archery Set $16 + Free Shipping

Thumb Score: +30 has Barnett Outdoors Lil Banshee Jr. Compound Youth Archery Set for $21.99 - $5.94 w/ coupon code LITTLEROBINHOOD = $16.05. Shipping is free. Thanks slickdewmaster

Deal Editor's Notes & Price Research: Be sure to checkout the customer reviews on Amazon that ranked this product with a 4.5 out of 5 star rating. ~persian_mafia
27 Jun 12:55

26" Kent Terra 21 Speed Mountain Bike (Men's or Women's) $59 + Free Store Pickup

by bdepot
26" Kent Terra 21 Speed Mountain Bike (Men's or Women's)  $59 + Free Store Pickup

Thumb Score: +80 has 26" Kent Terra 21 Speed Mountain Bike: Men's (Blue, Pictured) or Women's (Silver) for $58.99 when you choose free store pickup & apply offer code PLAY & TGTJB4DD at checkout. Thanks bdepot
16 Jun 13:02

The Nordstrom Rack 'Clear the Rack' Sale is Kind of Insane

by Jillian Lucas

If you hurry up and head over to the “Clear the Rack” sale at Nordstrom Rack, you may just find a huge steal. While the homepage banner says “up to 75% off,” you can easily find pieces with a 90% discount. During the last “Clear the Rack” sale, I found a $500 Helmut Lang dress for $27. Just throwing that out there.


26 May 12:35

2-Count Daiwa Samurai X Spinning Fishing Rod & Reel Combo $30 F/S

by crest989
2-Count Daiwa Samurai X Spinning Fishing Rod & Reel Combo $30 F/S

Thumb Score: +67
Dick's Sporting Goods has 2-Count Daiwa Samurai Spinning Fishing Rod & Reel Combo (Men's or Women's) on sale for $30 (discount reflected in cart). Shipping is free or select free store pickup where available. Thanks hugsee

Note, must add 2 to cart for promotional price (may mix and match). Availability for store pickup may be limited and vary by location
17 Feb 21:06

Carhartt Men's Sandstone Active Lined Jacket (Moss) $40 + free shipping

by daisybeetle
Carhartt Men's Sandstone Active Lined Jacket (Moss) $40 + free shipping

Thumb Score: +42 has Great Prices on Select Men's Clearance Apparel listed below. Shipping is free with orders $25 or more. Thanks daisybeetle

Note, prices are shown in cart.[LIST][*]Carhartt Men's Sandstone Active Lined Jacket (Moss Color) (pictured) $39.98
10 Jul 16:08

Watch Out For This Spoofed E-Mail From E-ZPass

by Laura Northrup

E-ZPass, the transponder-based toll payment system available to drivers traveling on the East Coast, does send out invoices to the address on file for your license plate when you avoid toll collectors without having a transponder. However, they do not send these via e-mail.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike alerted drivers and e-mailers to a scam e-mail currently making the rounds that purports to be from E-ZPass. It is not.


This notice works because, hey, you might have driven on a toll road without noticing. If you do have an E-ZPass or compatible toll-paying device, maybe it didn’t work. As long as you actually own a car, it’s certainly possible that you drove it somewhere. It’s more plausible than phishing notices from a bank you don’t conduct business with, or fake PayPal notices sent to an address not registered with PayPal.

Here are some hints that might help you determine the fakey fakeness of this particular message.

  • When E-ZPass does send out bills to non-customers who accrue tolls without paying, they don’t send them initially to your e-mail account. They send them to the address associated with your car’s registration. As we said above.
  • It is extremely unlikely that an interstate coalition of toll-collecting entities would send you e-mail from That doesn’t appear to be a working URL at all, let alone an E-ZPass service center address.

WARNING – E-ZPass Phishing Scam Alert! [Pennsylvania Turnpike] (via WGAL)