Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Entertainment the SGF-way

I realized on Monday that it has been one month since my last day at work. Wow! Has it really been that long? I feel like I should have accomplished something in that time, but the truth of the matter is that I'm supposed to be resting and healing. 

I do need to keep up a mild exercise routine, which I tend to do during the morning hours when I have the most energy and the least amount of pain. This pretty much consists of biking errands around town.

After lunch things generally go downhill and on "good" days, I can rest on the couch; "bad" days mean I pretty much end up in bed. Truth be told, I spend a lot of time laying around and it drives me crazy. 

I know many of you are ready to run me over with your car and/or have a few choice words flying my way at this point. So many of you are overwhelmed and would love to "struggle" to lay around all afternoon, but it's true. I don't "rest" easily (you could say I'm rest-less after being sick for so long). So keeping my mind occupied when my body is not has been interesting. But the combination of being cheap (I mean frugal) and having so much down time, has meant I've found some new sources of entertainment... FREE sources of entertainment. 
  • Library - of course every one knows about the library. Books, newly released movies, magazines, newspapers, audio recordings... all kinds of goodies can be found at the library (and don't forget, if your library doesn't have it, get it through the Interlibrary Load program). At least one of my morning rides each week is to visit our local stacks. Sure, I check out the latest green reads, but my favorite section is "Mystery." I'm a complete mystery fanatic, and the goofier the better. I don't need a bunch of blood and gore, I want suspense, but laughter all in the same book. One of my favorite series is about a Mennonite B&B owner turned sleuth (yeah, it's as strange as it sounds). You can't read 5 pages into one of those books without laughing. Just one problem - I can read a book a day, if I'm not otherwise occupied and eventually, the books start running together. So as much as I absolutely adore reading, it can't be my only outlet.
Last December, when we cancelled our cable, we said goodbye to all the crap on TV. It's amazing what we were paying each month vs. how much we were actually enjoying. It's all reality shows these days and frankly, watching people lie, cheat, and manipulate to get ahead just doesn't do it for me. But there were a few shows that Dave and I really enjoy; and having cancelled cable meant we had to look for other ways to access them. There are a few choices like iTunes subscriptions and renting full seasons from Blockbuster or Netflix when the DVDs are released, but again, I'm cheap (I mean frugal) and I always go for the freebie when possible. Here's what we came up with:
  • Hulu - is fabulous! They have full-length movies and TV shows, both old and new. I've enjoyed several old movies, the "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" series, as well as all the brand new episodes of Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" and Stephen Colbert's "The Colbert Report." Need a news fix? Subscribe to and watch the "NBC Nightly News." Need a good laugh? We enjoy all the new episodes of "Eureka" from the SciFi Channel. Did I mention it's free? No expensive cable or dish required! 
  • Network websites (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX) - For shows that don't end up on Hulu, check out the network website. It seems like all the popular shows are viewable the next day on-line (I provided links to each of the network full-episode sites above). Right, so time for my confession. Well, I became complete obsessed with "Alias" a few years back when I was in France. Then when "Lost" came out, by the same creator, I decided that I didn't want to get hooked on another TV show when what I really wanted was to kill cable and save some money. Eventually we killed the cable/dish and I never really thought about it again until I quit my job. "Lost" is now four seasons in with two to go, and well, I was curious to see what all the hype was and it turns out ABC made all four seasons available on their website. So I watched an episode, then two episodes, then the next thing I knew I had watched all four seasons within a few weeks. I'm so addicted, but it was SO free! (Now you know what I've been doing with all this time off work.)
Of course, now that summer is drawing to a close and cooler temps are on their way, I'll be able to spend more time outside in my chair on the front porch (I love peoplewatching). But we all have sick days, rainy days, or you never know, maybe a hurricane rips through town. So when you're all alone and can't quite get the old bod to move, just remember, you don't need a bookstore for a copy of that much anticipated new release and you certainly don't need cable to get your favorite shows. Take the Simple-Green-Frugal route - curl up on the couch with a nice cup of tea and a good library book or your laptop and enjoy some fabulous FREE fun. 


fearlesschef said...

Do you scrapbook? In the spring and summer I don't do a whole lot of that because it's too nice outside to do so... but in the late fall and winter, I pull out my scrapbooking table and organize photos and memories and then I make cards to! Saves me loads at my beloved Halmark!

greeen sheeep said...

No cable, wow. That would start a riot in this house. I would love to get rid of that bill.

Heather @ SGF said...

fearlesschef - no, I don't really scrapbook. We keep all our photos online in a family album. I do make all our own greeting cards though, but in a couple afternoons I can have enough done for 6 months. The problem is if I crash about lunchtime (which is generally when I go down for the count these days), I have about 10 hours off my feet before I go to bed (6-7 of them all by my lonesome until Dave gets home. It's a lot of time to fill day after day. Reading everyone's blogs helps fill the time, but more than anything, I think the weather cooling down will help. It'll get me outside resting on the porch where I can talk to neighbors as they pass. And of course, hopefully I'll feel better one of these day so I don't have to lay around so much. Got my fingers crossed on that one...

greeen sheeep - yeah, really it's no big deal. Now, I guess it would be if we watched sports, but we don't so the few shows we enjoy we've been able to access elsewhere. And I love how quiet the house is now that the TV isn't on all the time.

Green Bean said...

I wish we could go no cable. Maybe I'll convince my husband some day. In the mean time,the library and free stuff on the Internet rock!

kale for sale said...

I forget how I got hooked on Lost. Someone gave us a DVD to watch maybe as we haven't had cable for probably more than 15 years. Then I started watching the episodes on my laptop - for free. You are reminding me it's time to catch up with them.

I had a bad flu earlier this year and spent a week on the couch watching the backyard channel. Again for free. There were a couple of blue jays, an industrious squirrel, the neighbors black cat, ever changing shadows. It was a slow silent show with no plot what so ever and I enjoyed it immensely.

Cookiemouse said...

Resting and healing sounds good.

Stephanie said...

I wish I'd thought of that in the last 24 hours while I've been sick with a cold. I've been keeping busy reading because I don't have anything to watch! Should've remembered all those web sites... alas, now I have to get it together and get some work done, even if my body just wants to rest all day.

Glenda said...

Thanks for the tip about Hulu.

We've only recently discovered our library offers audio books, and my hubby has been making great use of those while traveling. He downloads them to his phone/MP3. In fact, he's been camping the past couple days and in the evenings he breaks out one of the westerns he downloaded and listens to it while sitting by his campfire. I've been listening to Anderson Cooper's book, which is not cheery by any means but it is interesting.

Have you ever checked out Sublime Stitching's website? Their embroidery patterns are new-school and most cool. When I was looking for a craft of some sort last year, I ordered their Stitch-It Kit - it comes with a hoop, some floss and a needle, an instruction book, a couple tea towels, and some patterns. And now I'm hooked on embroidery. Any time I'm sitting down or propped up in bed, odds are you'll find me stitching something or another. It's not an expensive hobby at all, either. I get a lot of stitching done when kiddo and I are listening to one of the Harry Potter audio books (the later books in the series are quite long)!! Anyhoo, there's my plug for embroidery ;-)

By the way, congrats on passing the first month mark =). I'm glad you're able to rest when your body demands it.

Theresa said...

Rest and healing are good :) I'm glad you have found some things to keep your mind nicely occupied while your body rests. Have you thought of taking up knitting? I haven't done it in a while, but I always found it restful and productive at the same time.

Heather @ SGF said...

green bean - I didn't think Dave would go for it, but he actually loves it now. When we visit someone else and the TV is on all the time, it drives him nuts. It didn't take long to get used to the beautiful silence of no-cable. A good way to sell it is to just stop for one month with the option of re-setting it up. Just to test to see how it flies.

kale for sale - ah! Another Lost fan. It was nice having all the seasons available to watch at once (and VERY few commercials). We don't have much going on in our backyard, but I do enjoy sitting out front. It's just been too hot until just recently. That'll definitely help. I like watching animals too and when it's breezy, I can sit for long periods just watching the winds flow with it. Very relaxing!

cookiemouse - it is nice. And I have to admit,I'm better at relaxing than I used to be. It's still hard. I'm such a busybody :)

stephanie -It definitely is a nice alternative when you don't feel like doing much. It definitely helps to break up the afternoon a bit. And I'm loving some of those old movies that I'd heard of but never seen. Sorry to hear you were sick. Hope you are feeling better now.

glenda - isn't the library great! I read a book I enjoyed this weekend and then realized that the library didn't have the rest of the series. So I requested them on interlibrary loan. The resources there are endless. It's addicting for me. I just love the library!

I've never done any kind of embroidery. Where did you learn? Just from that kit? I can crochet, but I only know one stitch so all I've ever done was scarves and blankets. Maybe I'll start a new blanket this fall. Good idea!

theresa - I can crochet at a very basic level. I could try to do a blanket, although we still have a couple in the cabinet that we haven't given away yet. That's why I haven't been working on anything lately. One of these days I should take a class so that I can learn to do other things, like sweaters or something. That would definitely keep me occupied!

Mama said...

It's amazing how many people I know have benefitted from ditching the might just have to be a challenge! Maybe after football season for dh....I am also cheap,er, frugal, and love Lost. Good to know I can still watch it online once we do ditch! Thanks!

Abbie said...

Heather- I completely understand what you mean about being restless. I hurt my knee last weekend and was ready to jump out a window (if I could jump) after sitting around for ONLY ONE day. I can just imagine what you are feeling.

Here's a suggestion- in the winter time, when it gets dark before 4pm here, I spend a lot of time knitting and crocheting. I find it to be so relaxing, I get to be creative, and at the end I get a neat project done! If you've never done it before, it's easy to make a scarf... You should really try it because it will keep you busy without a lot of physical exertion.

Glenda said...

Heather ~ Yes, the little book that came in the Sublime Stitching kit is where I learned the stitches -- there are diagrams. But I later found two sites online that have videos of people showing how to do different stitches, and those have been super helpful for me (sort of how watching someone knead bread is easier for me than trying to follow snapshots or drawings of the same thing!). Holler if you want those links.

You can stitch some beautiful things using just a basic backstitch. But if you feel like using other stitches, there are plenty from which to choose. Cross-stitch is the only other needlework I've done and I find embroidery MUCH more flexible and open to personalization.

Changing subjects -- do you like mahjong? I used to play a free online mahjong game and enjoyed it a lot -- makes the brain work, but doesn't require much physical effort. I've managed to lose that bookmark, but now I'm thinking I'll have to get it from the friend who originally recommended it to me =). Holler if you want me to pass it along.

If you have a Nintendo DS (or DS Lite), or are open to the idea of getting one, there is one game in particular that my son and I both enjoy tremendously and which I think you would find enjoyable (not stressful to play at all) -- it's called Animal Crossing: Wild World.

There are a wide variety of games for the DS / DS Lite, many of which are not your typical racing / fighting / sports video games. There are crossword puzzles, sudoku, mysteries (I can recommend a couple that we've enjoyed) -- I'm actually a big fan of all those types of games, plus I've discovered I enjoy some of the Pokemon and Zelda games -- who woulda thunk it LOL?!!

Some games allow you to play with other people via wireless play (kiddo and I wi-fi with some friends in another state -- a mom, who is my friend, and her two kids, who are friends of my son), which is loads of fun.

I love having my own DS Lite -- not only is it fun to play, but it takes the tediousness out of some tedious situations (waiting at the doctor's office, car trips, etc.).

Buying one is not cheap (seems like the DS Lites run $149), but we take good care of ours and will get many more years out of them. For the amount of use we get out of them, they've been worth the expense. We regularly read about upcoming games and budget for ones we want; games can also be found used.

Obviously, a handheld game system and games to go with it don't fall into the category of free ;-), but I know that for me and my kiddo, if we needed to be less active on a regular basis, our DS Lites would be one of the tools in our "keep the mind busy, but rest the body" toolbox =).

Heather @ SGF said...

mama - we're definitely loving being away from tv, but stilll having access to the shows we did enjoy. It saves a bunch of money too. Can't beat it!

abbie - i do crochet baby blankets. I only know one stitch, but they still come out really pretty. I might have to work on one this winter. Great idea!

glenda - I might have to look into that. I like creative things that can be given as gifts. I used to play Mahjong when I was a kid. I also like sudoku which also has lots of games online. Lots of great ideas here! Thanks!

ttammylynn said...

We cut our dish package in half and have Netflix, maybe not too cheap, but we use less. We watch movies on-line with the computer hooked to the tv in the livingroom. It is crazy how technology gives us instant movies without late fees or driving to a store. So, we have the best of both worlds, sure it has a price tag...

Heather @ SGF said...

ttammylynn - Netflix is pretty cool. I've had it on and off over the years and enjoyed it! Way cheaper than paying for cable.