It is time to get smart, I’m so last century! I do not own a smart phone. Until now I have rationalized this decision for a number of reasons:

Still so old skool


a). I don’t like cell phones period. I find them intrusive, and I do not always want to be contactable – especially when driving.

b). I detest texting (I do however, consider tweeting a necessary evil for competing in today’s market place). Both are final nails in the coffin of the art of conversation. People no longer socialize – they network. Are we really all so boring we must be limited to 140 characters?

c). I abhor people who constantly play with their phone rather than make eye contact over dinner. If I’m not interesting enough to hold your undivided attention, then you are certainly not deserving of my time – I’d rather stay home and watch water boil.


The art of conversation

Until now, a simple cell phone has covered any value the instrument could possibly hold for me – my family can contact me when I am traveling, and I can call for help if my car breaks down. In fact, I so seldom use my cell phone that I scoffed at the premise of adding the cost of internet (to which I have more than enough of at home) to my bill.


That was until @edmeeroche tweeted me this article, 7 Great Mobile Apps for Environmentally Friendly Eatingby Sarah Kessler. This is the next frontier in the food revolution and quite possibly the coolest apps EVER! You can actually make informed decisions, and make your consumer dollar count in demanding a safe food supply, and a healthier environment!

My cousin Drew teaching an old dog new tricks

Is it too early to start next year’s Santa wish list? What smart phone do you own, and what apps do you find indispensable?



Cream of Tomato Soup

I know you East Coasters are still shivering from the blizzard, and we have a new storm headed our way tomorrow, so I thought some soup might be a good idea! Here is one made with things you are likely to have on hand, so you can stay in, warm, and dry.

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 28 ounce can fire roasted chopped tomatoes
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup milk (use cream or half & half if not watching your fat and calorie intake)
salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish, optional
White truffle oil or good extra-virgin olive oil for garnish, optional

Directions:

1). Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven, over medium heat for a minute. Add onion, celery, and carrots; cook 8 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, bay leaf, oregano, basil, and bay leaf; stir until fragrant, 30 seconds.

2). Add the tomato paste and vinegar, stirring frequently for a couple minutes. Add tomatoes and broth, stirring occasionally while bringing it to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low heat.

3). Remove bay leaf. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Add back to pan, and bring up to a simmer again. Stir in the milk, and season to taste.

Serving Suggestions: Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of Parmesan and drizzle of oil.

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  • December 29, 2010
    5:51 am

    Agreed that conversation is becoming a lost art… so sad! That girl in the picture is gorgeous, but SO skinny! It concerned me!Anyway, I think you have a great blog! The food looks yummy!

  • December 29, 2010
    3:10 pm

    Julie Anne, I agree with you whole heartedly, the art of conversation is dying. I always hated cell phones as well. I could never understand it when I would see everyone around me fixated on their smart phone screens. I always felt like an outcast. My little basic cell phone that didn’t even have texting was just fine. I rarely used it and mostly had it for emergencies.Well, I received an Iphone as a birthday gift from my parent last April, so I took the plunge into the smart phone world. Even though I still am not a cell phone obsessionist and don’t have my phone glued to my hand at all times like some, I have really been enjoying it. The texting has helped me keep up better with friends and family, especially my busy sister, who lives on her Iphone! Having the Internet and being able to get to MapQuest came in handy when I got lost on a day outing this past summer in my GPS-less car.I don’t have that many apps on my Iphone and this may sound silly, but my favorite app is the game Bubble Pop! My 7-year old niece put in on my phone and every time she sees me, she grabs my phone so we can play it together. My Facebook app is also a fav. I will definitely be checking out Sarah Kessler’s apps to add. They sound great. Happy New Year Julie Anne!-Chrissy

  • December 29, 2010
    5:06 pm

    The world is so high tech these days! I avoided the cell phone for as long as I could, but then it was necessary due to safety concerns. When you are travelling into work for the midnite shift by city transit, you do need to have a cell in case of emergencies. I don't subscribe to any of the extras, just a set number of minutes per month which I never go over. The cell is still for emergency use or allows someone to find me if necessary. Now, my computer, I'm afraid that I will have to upgrade soon. This laptop is 8 years old and while I do have USB ports, there really aren't enough for what I need to do. But, I'm going to have to wait for a windfall to indulge in a new one. For now, I'll have to up my monthy usage which is currently set at 2 GB. I definitely need more if the past month is any indication of where I'm heading in the new decade. But, I'll think about this for a week or two.The soup sounds delicious! I suspect it will be tonight's supper as I'm getting a little tired of a vegan samosa pie I made last weekend. Tomato soup has always been a comfort food and this one appears to be a quick fix. Bonus! Lots of hugs to my cyber buddy! Have a great New Year's Eve!

  • December 29, 2010
    7:07 pm

    Glad you are enjoying the blog Nicole Jeanette, and have no fear – that skinny girl is well fed these days.Thanks for the input Chrissy – I think I will enjoy having the food apps, and might even produce one of my own one day – all the more reason I should check it out! Like you, I promise not to have it surgically attached to my hand, and to still make an effort to socialize, not just network.Ruthee splurge on the new computer – you deserve it, and if yours is 8 years old – you will be amazed at how much time you will save yourself – remember "time is money." You can get good deals on refurbished ones, or take your chances on Craigs List – I was thinking about getting a back-up computer there myself. You could probably sell your old one there to0 (be sure to clean it first).

  • December 29, 2010
    7:08 pm

    Who can play with your cell phone while at dinner with you??!!!!Scar Lette

  • December 29, 2010
    7:09 pm

    Hi Jewels, I have an iPhone that I protested getting for a long time. Eventually I got one because I thought it made me look more professional for my job (sounds like a lame excuse, I know). But, there are lots of great apps. Apps that help you workout, even apps that help you sleep better! One of my favorite food related ones is the Whole Foods app. It lets you enter in specific on-hand food items (ie squash, pasta, spinach) and will come up with healthy recipes that include those ingredients. Also, it provides a shopping list for that dish. Now, I can't imagine life without my iPhone!Amilee Kelly Hodge

  • December 29, 2010
    7:27 pm

    I have an iPhone 3GS. I want the 4G for the Camera feature alone but I’m waiting. Here’s what I use the most and why:The Camera and Photo’s – It takes great photo’s, holds more than 400 add Photoshop and CameraBag for apps to enhance images. (example of images: http://lp-lilu.blogspot.com/2010/11/what-im-wearing-wednesday_17.html)Texting – Mainly my step son but an occasional friendCalling – My husband when we go to the Rose Bowl swap meet "where are you"Maps – The GPS feature has saved me several times from getting lost.Weather – When I’m traveling or forgot to check what the weather report is.Voice memo’s – This has saved my butt several times I voice memo myself if I need to pick stuff up. Notes – To brainstorm something out or make a grocery list.iTunes – I’ve bought a handful of songs to listen to when I go work out at the gym with ear buds of course I doubt. Internet(added into the AT&T contract) – I use this to check email and Facebook and go to sites probably way too much. But if my laptop ever dies I have the phone in a pinch.Apps I’ve bought and use the most:CameraBag, PS Express, Facebook, Games for when I’m stuck sitting in a doctor office I play Bejeweled and Sudoku allot.Negatives – Key board is a bit small and sometimes I hit the wrong keys. Get’s finger prints on it allotHave to charge it almost every day to every other day if you leave it on (of which I forget) Powering it off every now and then, It was getting frozen after oh say 6 to 8 months of continuous use. Basically it’s like rebooting a computer.That you have to buy a protective cover (rubber wrap around) and I got a scratch resistant film unlike a phone that closes up with a hard case the face is vulnerable if it get’s scratched it won’t work.What I have learned is I turn it to silence. Then it just vibrates but it’s less obtrusive. I also don’t take it out when I’m with a friend, at a dinner party ect. I rarely talk on it in public but I usually make it quick if I do.

  • December 29, 2010
    7:38 pm

    Wow! Really useful info LiLu! You KNOW i will fret over which phone to get – I'm torn between iPhone and Android – mainly because I prefer Verizon to AT&T, but also because I've tried my friends iPhones, and have trouble hitting the wrong keys all the time. I want to hear your pros and cons of both everyone, please!

  • December 29, 2010
    8:11 pm

    Jewels I had the iPhone but hate AT&T service so I switched to Verizon and got the HTC Droid Incredible. It's a pretty awesome phone. I feel it's a bit "slicker" than the iPhone. I do think that the iPhone is a little more user friendly but once you figure out everything on Android I really think it's better. At the end of the day I feel having the better cell phone service to be the most important and Verizon is the best.I use Facebook all the time on my smartphone. I don't use many other apps though. One's I've found helpful is GPS and they Yellow Pages. I sometimes forget how I ever got around without GPS. Hope that helps a little.Regina

  • December 29, 2010
    8:25 pm

    I understand the hesitation Julie Anne…the youngins' playout entire relationships on text, it's too easy and anit-social. But alas, we must move with the times…good for you for embracing technology. Plus, yummy soup!!Cupcakexo(p.s, don't get an iphone – mine is far too addictive and will cost you a small fortune)

  • December 29, 2010
    11:31 pm

    Hi Jewels!First things first, tomato soup is my FAVORITE soup ever! Your recipe is perfect for this CT resident who's still freezing from digging her car out of a 5ft snow drift! As for cell phones, I have a BlackBerry and I find it very useful and helpful. I too abhor people who pay more attention to their phone than the people they are having dinner with! My ex would constantly be texting and surfing the net while we were OUT to dinner! It was both embarrassing and rude! I find that having my email and a web browser at my disposal whenever I need it are invaluable. It's great when you are out and about and need directions or phone listings for restaurants or any business. I have used the web browser on my phone while in a grocery store to look up recipe ingredients. I also love the app that listens to a song and then tells you the title and artist. Please do yourself a favor and stay with Verizon. Their service and coverage are unparalleled. And fret not, if you really want an iPhone, production has already begun on iPhone for Verizon. You start with a BlackBerry or an Android phone and then upgrade to the iPhone when it comes out. Cheers,Dawn

  • December 30, 2010
    2:46 am

    Most definitely an Android. I love mine. I have several Weight Watcher related apps on it that I adore.

  • December 30, 2010
    3:10 am

    Hi Julie Anne!I have a Samsung Epic from Sprint and it runs on the Android operating system. I've never really liked the iPhone, though it was neat when it first came out. I'm glad that I got a phone that uses Android. One thing that I like about my phone is not only is it a touchscreen, but it also has a QWERTY keyboard. I don't really use any food apps, but I do use Yelp to help me find good restaurants.

  • December 30, 2010
    3:48 am

    It's a tough call for me. As a long-time Apple user and employee, I advocate for the iPhone, especially as it integrates so well with my MacBook Pro. But, my brother in-law heads up the software group for the Droid and he's one seriously smart dude! I don't think you can go wrong with either phone. Perhaps you can try a technique I've used when contemplating past purchases: subject yourself to the pitch from sales people on both sides. Talk to someone at AT&T about the advantages of the iPhone over the Droid, and vice-versa. Some things that matter a lot to one person (like a navigation app or a slide-out keyboard) may not mean much to someone else. Hopefully you find your own perfect fit!

  • December 30, 2010
    6:30 pm

    p.s. Julie Anne, check out www.fashion-tarts.blogspot.comI've nominated your blog for a Stylish Blogger Award!Cupcake

  • December 30, 2010
    7:42 pm

    firstly what a flavour packed tomato soup recipie, I've been looking for something I could make with flavour so I will be sorting that out.I'm a recent smart phone user. I was having major issues with my nokia that as an early Christmas pressie my mother bought me a HTC Wildfire. OMG how did I manage without it! I keep it on all the time BUT it has a few useful things I would be lost without……the weather application being one of them! I have just installed tweet deck and facebook, well I use it now and again but am not obsessed.However the art of conversation is dying and its a shame. I value my computer because I am friendless around here and when I switch on I know that someone I care about is around. However when I am out in company I cannot ABIDE phones being answered at tables. If I am expecting a call I will say that I am expecting a call but if that person doesn't phone and the phone rings I won't answer it. no no no. Texting during food, no no no. I hate it! I actually think its bad manners. I go for a bass lesson and I always tell my tutor that I am possibly going to have a call from my Nan (I live with her she's housebound and sometimes needs to get hold of me), its the only call I will take.My mother is a nightmare with a phone, she's always ringing mine and I want to scream on times and heaven help me and my sister if we don't answer, she goes nuts. So as well as being a lifeline they are an inconvenience.As for iphone v android……you know what, I prefer my HTC android……and I love playing the free game Jewels….

  • December 31, 2010
    8:02 pm

    yes! yes! yes! i love my smart phone (iphone 4). i love to tweet and adore all the twitter apps. but i when i go out with friends, i want to chat. and not on the phone! it's a shame it's become the "norm" because really? it's just rude. happy new year.