simple stuff: a movie projector.

June 27, 2023

We don’t have a TV. Like other radiantly aging millennials, not having a TV doesn’t mean we don’t watch TV or movies, but it probably does mean that the *way* we watch them is different than if we had a permanent fixture attached to the wall. For one thing, there’s no one place in our apartment that’s dedicated to screen viewing. For another, if we want to watch something we need to take a beat to set that something up. I don’t mean this to sound onerous, just to explain that there’s a slight barrier to entry, an extra step to take between flopping onto the couch and getting transfixed by a moving image on the screen.

A few years ago, we got a small digital projector. Having previously only been able to gather ’round a laptop screen to partake in cinematic experiences at home, the introduction of this bit of technology was welcome and novel and nearly four years later, we’re just as pleased.

Most often we project our movies right onto the white wall of our living/dining room, with the projector itself on our dining table. This set up requires the least number of moving parts, the most comfortable viewing, and the possibility for the child in our family who refuses to sit on our new couch because it is “too comfortable” to watch from the relative discomfort of a hard wooden dining chair. Also, it makes it easy to serve ice cream *while* finishing a movie which is a personal plus for me.

On evenings when we’d rather the movie viewing experience be relegated to the kids’ room, we screw our projector into my camera tripod and project the movie onto a wall in there. This set up has the very real advantage of being in a room with doors that can close and where there’s maximum floor space (not to mention three beds) for lolling around on, piling pillows and blankets, and making the kind of nest that kids generally love and parents generally tolerate.

On summer nights when we want to be romantic and festive and possibly also mosquito bitten, we’ve taken the projector onto our unsanctioned rooftop to enjoy a film under the starless city sky. On these occasions we’ve sometimes projected right onto the wonky brick wall of the neighboring building (don’t recommend) and have sometimes tacked up a wrinkly white sheet (moderately recommend). More recently I spent five entire minutes elevating the set up to one that actually works and is easily stored and our outdoor movie nights have become truly delightful (highly recommend).

If you’re curious about the ins and outs of our set-up, including specifics about the projector we use, there’s a longer notes-included version on my Substack newsletter, TEA NOTES. This week, the notes version is free for everyone, but eventually I’m going to start offering these longer pieces to paid subscribers. I’ll still publish some full length pieces here, and particulars might shift as I test the waters and get the hang of things, but I’m hopeful this is a change that will ultimately allow me to spend more time with all of you!

Head to TEA NOTES to read the full piece.

PS. If you’re someone with a current subscription to my blog that you’d like to transfer to the new substack model, send a note to erin (at) and I’ll help get that sorted! Huge thanks to everyone ever who has supported and championed this corner of the internet!

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  • Reply Linda June 27, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    thanks for sharing erin! and regarding the paid subscription, i feel very torn about this. on one hand it makes total sense for your business, but on the other hand i feel sad that all your great suggestions and recommendations won’t be as accessible. i’ve learned so many tips and tricks from your space over the years and have supported your book as well. i’m sure many others have done the same. just feeling a little sad that some of this stuff will no longer be free and accessible to all.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 27, 2023 at 2:56 pm

      Hi Linda! I’m so grateful to know that you’ve been reading. I can’t show up here regularly if I’m not earning an income from the work I do here. For a long time, I was able to support this site through paid sponsorships, banner ads, and affiliate marketing, but advertisers have largely moved on from blog advertising and I’m not willing to churn out the kind of content or direct folks to the kinds of goods that would result in meaningful income via affiliate links. I’m excited about switching to a reader-supported model and I hope I can continue to add some small value to the internet in a new and slightly unconventional way! There will still be plenty that’s not paywalled, but I’m hopeful I might be able to keep things afloat here a little longer with this model!

      • Reply Linda June 27, 2023 at 3:23 pm

        yes, absolutely understand. i wish there were better options for content creators like yourself that can continue to make an income without the expense of sharing your love, knowledge, and ideas to society. i guess what i’m saying is yes, you do what you need to do to support yourself and family, i just wish platforms have ways for you to make money without a paywall to readers. i thought about books as a similar idea but then there are libraries that allow access to books which means free content to the public. it sucks there isn’t a similar model for bloggers so you’re forced to come up with this method. like perhaps a youtube version of paying bloggers, you know?

  • Reply Audrey June 27, 2023 at 3:21 pm

    I’m loving this trend of more and more women voices that I love moving over to Substack, where I can find their work in one place. There is so much content on the internet, and it’s great to have a direct way to support the work and voices that resonate most. It feels much more intentional than the mindless scroll in other spaces. Congrats!

    • Reply Julie June 28, 2023 at 5:49 am

      Audrey, can you say more about using it to see all your voices together? Or maybe, only if you want to Erin, you can enlighten us on how you use it yourself as a reader. I love the idea of my favorite voices in one easy to follow space. I get a few emails from others I joined on substack, but I’m either too old or tired (or both, and I mean that in a loving way) to learn about a new platform.

      • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 28, 2023 at 7:10 am

        Chiming in to say that I primarily use the substack app, so all of the letters I subscribe to are there and I can scroll through all my faves. It reminds me of old-school google reader in the best way!

      • Reply Audrey June 28, 2023 at 3:36 pm

        Yes same as Erin! I subscribe and go scroll through when I have time catch up. I also get an email with new newsletters. Substack also makes recommendations for similar content, if that is appealing to you.

  • Reply Sarah June 27, 2023 at 6:06 pm

    Very lol at a kid of yours thinking the couch is too comfortable. More space for everyone else in the meantime, I guess?

  • Reply Sarah June 27, 2023 at 9:51 pm

    Hey Lidna, but why is it so bad to pay for content we value? You mentioned Erin being forced to come up with this method (of using a subscription service like Substack), but maybe she wasn’t forced and maybe it is a more clear and direct way of being paid for your work.

    • Reply Linda July 6, 2023 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Sarah, there’s nothing bad about it, and this model exists all the time in traditional published media. What I mean by forced is that she has to come up with a new way to fund her work because blog advertising is no longer a lucrative option for her. Compared to, say, vloggers who users can still access their content for free, they make money through ads dispersed through their videos like YouTube. So in a sense, the content is still there and still free and accessible to everyone, they’re just making money through a different approach. As with bloggers like Erin, her users (readers) are now paying for the content. I just feel bummed that her great content is no longer as accessible to everyone, esp when her work overall helps the environment and society through simple and sustainable consumption. Basically, even trying to live that way and wanting to learn and live that way through the lens of a blogger costs something, and I wish there were better options for content creators like her to share their work and get paid without having their work only be accessible to those who can pay. Hope that makes sense.

  • Reply Allison June 27, 2023 at 10:55 pm

    I love this idea! Heading over now 🙂

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