Thursday, September 23, 2010

iHope I Can, iHope I Can!

Let's be friends?

I have a bit of a problem.

You see, as a busy second-year CreComm student, juggling an IPP with homework assignments, a blog, and squeezing in a personal life (which scant free time mostly consists of chores and a distracted "bye, honey!" as I tear out the door in the morning), I've found I really do need a smartphone. I could update my blog from the bus, do homework almost anywhere (but never in class!) and respond to the many emails I now receive as interim News Director for 92.9 KICK FM.

My small problem becomes a bigger one when I consider that I have an existing, regular phone contract. There's a year and 4 months remaining on said contract, meaning I will owe to my wireless provider either the monthly cost of the phone, or $200. I owe whichever is the smaller amount, but that's shaping up to be a tidy sum for a student trying to cover books, living expenses, and transportation.

Then there's entering into a new contract. I have my eye on Rogers and an iPhone, but that won't be cheap either. Data plans start at $25/mo and go as high as $60/mo, and that's without factoring in the cost of a phone. The 3GS is $99.99 and that's not even the latest model. The iPhone 4 with 16GB is $159.00, and the 32GB version is $269.00. There must be student plans, I'm sure, but if all goes well, I will graduate in 2011 and be a student no longer.

If I can find someone to take over my existing plan, that will cover some of the cost of the phone, but not the data plan. How much data will I use? Once I'm locked into a contract, can I pay for less if I don't use the full capacity I'm paying for? Can I upgrade? Will I even know what to do with an iPhone if/when I have one?

iHope I can!

Image courtesy

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Zen of Baking

I walked past the Chocolate Zen bakery today, and looked into the window. I was close enough to it to see the muffins, cookies, and other delicious pastries through my own wistful reflection. Croissants! Pies! These things could be mine for just a little money...

It's not worth it, though. Not when I currently have enough groceries to make these delicious things for myself. When I run low on flour and baking soday, though...then it will be time to see what this amazing bakery has to offer.

Maybe next week...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Who knows cooking better than...

Betty Crocker!

A well-worn copy of "Best Recipes" sat in my best friend's mother's kitchen, looking as though it had belonged to her own grandmother - still intact, but obviously well-loved. When I mentioned wanting my own copy, I unwrapped it that Christmas courtesy of that friend. Stocked full of helpful tips, old favourites, and new twists, it's a wealth of advice in a very small package.

That package just got smaller with the Betty Crocker Mobile Cookbook for iPhone. What better way to choose a meal while stuck in rush-hour traffic, really learn how to saute properly, or figure out what to do with the bumper crop of beans in the backyard garden? As the purchase webpage, , says, the world-famous cookbook is now right at your fingertips no matter where you are.

So if Betty Crocker is in the recipe-book business, why are they making all their recipes free to you? (Yes, this app is free!)Isn't that counter-productive? In the short run, it might seem that way, but in the long run, it definitely isn't. Here's why.

1. The app builds trust in the Betty Crocker name. It puts the company's brand at the fingertips of iPhone users, familiarizing them with Betty Crocker and building brand loyalty.

2. Loyalty influences purchasing habits. If I know that my Aunt Sally loves to cook and doesn't have an iPhone, perhaps I'll consider buying her a printed Betty Crocker cookbook. Or a Betty Crocker set of spatulas or measuring cups - after all, Betty Crocker isn't just cookbooks anymore. How likely am I to make a purchase from the Betty Crocker product line if I'm not familiar with the brand? Not very, I'll be lucky to notice it among all the other brands on a Wal-Mart shelf. But if I'm regularly turning to Betty Crocker for advice on meals anyway, I'm very likely to think "Betty Crocker" when wondering what to get that special cook on my Christmas shopping list. Not to mention, I'm also more likely to use Betty Crocker products in my own kitchen, once I trust them.

When the appetizer's free AND tasty, of course you're that much more likely to want to pay full price for the main course. By getting their name out there with a free, useful app ("I don't have to wait hours stuck in traffic to get home and look through a recipe book!"), the company builds relationships with current and future loyal customers.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Keeping it fresh - and free

I'm in the process of moving to an apartment this week, and while I'm very happy with the place I've found, there is one thing that I will especially miss. While I'm no fan of yardwork and won't be seen anywhere near a lawnmower, I definitely love working in gardens. I've helped in my grandfather's garden since I was old enough to walk, pulling "weeds" that turned out to be carrot sprouts. And my parents, who've been kind enough to let me hermit in their basement, have a large backyard garden as well.

Gardens ask very little, and in return they give a lot. Excessive weeds can be a pain, but I just cultivate them under with the hoe or hand cultivator when I can. Watching plants bloom and prosper is a reward in itself, to say nothing of the taste of fresh frutis and vegetables in season. Why would I purchase a carton of weeks-old raspberries when I can wander out the back door and pick them for nothing? Or sort though overpriced beets when a few minutes' of digging can turn up enough for a meal, gratis?

This year, the garden has already yielded fresh tomatoes, rhubarb, raspberries, blueberries, peas, beans, and small grapes with tons of seeds. Watermelons (!!!), beets, strawberries, and carrots are not far behind. I'll be on hand to help with the harvesting, of course, but it won't feel like the garden is really mine. And, believe me, the food really does taste better when you've also shared in the work.

There's a room in my apartment that gets tons of light each day, so I'm wondering how much of it I can devote to a "potted garden" without infringing on my roommate's space. Hydroponic equipment is expensive and takes a lot of electricity, as does the self-monitoring "Aerogarden" (link forthcoming) - a little hydroponic machine that helps grow fresh herbs. But if I have enough sunlight, I can have fresh tomatoes year-round, too, right?

We'll see.