Back in mid-June, just a week before the floods, we committed to a tech timeout – a challenge to abandon all electronics for an hour a day for the summer. Maybe even (probably) forever. It seemed easy enough – like Earth Hour, only without the candles and I can still use my oven.
In Calgary in early summer there was no shortage of distractions – we helped out where we could, and were out without electronics without even thinking about it – but often I was busy and glued to my computer and to twitter, because social media outreach was such a big part of the flood relief efforts. So I’m not sure throughout the end and early July I actually succeeded in unplugging for an hour at a time when I wasn’t asleep, but the boys did. We had decided to do cooking classes, and so started a few around the abrupt and early end of school. Being relieved of their class schedule meant W wasn’t overly keen on recreating the student-teacher scenario at home, but doing is learning, whether or not it’s structured as such. Often, they came up with their own projects.
W & B made their own chokecherry jam (this batch with my sister) and had a stand, lemonade-style.
We made homemade naan, then used the leftovers (believe it or not, there were some) for pizza, topped with fresh basil, scraps of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella.
And then it got easier when we packed our bags, loaded up the car and headed to Tofino.
If at all possible, I recommend distractions like this to divert your eyes away from the Twitter screen.
Still, even on the beach and away from everything I found myself pulling my phone out of my pocket all the time. Just to check. Just to tweet. Just to share a picture or an idea or send someone a note while the thought was in my head. (Being on the beach is also conducive to enlightened ideas.) I had a hard time disconnecting.
I taught W how to make a lattice. Something every 8 year old boy needs to know, right?
Turns out we made lots of pies. And galettes – this one with peaches and plums and berries.
Our 22 year old nephew has a birthday the day after W every summer. He requests pumpkin pie. Easiest filling for a kid to make with a whisk and bowl. If it cracks, smother it with whipped cream.
(Do this anyway.)
We made fresh pitas! So fun. And so delish with hummus.
We went out with buckets and picked blackberries. W asked if he could add some to chocolate chip cookies. Chewy, buttery brown sugar dough and juicy, tart blackberries? Brilliant.
Did you hear the one about the Nutella s’mores on homemade graham crackers? Everyone loved the graham crackers enough to plow through an entire batch on their own – no marshmallows required.
We started to treat tech time as the exception, planning it for an hour here and there, sometimes in a particular location, like the Driftwood Cafe on the bottom of the Wick. We’d go for lattes and (real) hot chocolate and veg out on our electronics for an hour before getting outside again.
Unplugging in the evenings forced us out into the community to find other things to do – like go to the annual Tofino Lantern Festival. We had seen posters in town, and the boys dragged their feet and moped about it. It turned out to be amazing – the Botanical Gardens and surrounding forest fully decorated in lights… candles in jars showing your way down the paths, local bands and food and kids with homemade lanterns – magical.
We made another batch of sea salt – strain seawater through a coffee filter, apply heat. A wide skillet provides more surface area, making it go faster. I’ll never get tired of being able to make my own salt.
Things I learned: it’s not hard to unplug everyone for an hour, but making a point of it – and of spending that time paying attention to each other – is a reminder (and a lesson to W) that electronics tend to alienate us: just because we’re all physically together, in the same room, doesn’t mean we’re connected. (To each other, that is.)
Back in Calgary it’s hard not to revert, in the name of catching up. But we’re still making a point of unplugging for at least an hour a day. And often that time is spent baking.
Everyone needs a good muffin recipe in the fall, right? Kids nor not, you need to eat. And if you can eat something warm that makes your house smell good in the morning, all the better.
Honey Banana Muffins
3 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup honey (creamed or liquid is fine)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 375F.
In a large bowl, mash the bananas with the honey, oil, egg and vanilla. Add the flour, soda and salt.
Divide the batter among 10-12 paper-lined muffin cups, filling them almost full, and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and springy to the touch. Makes about 10 muffins.
*This post was generously sponsored by life insurance provider Foresters, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit www.techtimeout.com.