Celebrations

The Return Of Ginger – 2018

Our sweet little, mischievous, elf has returned!  The jury is still out on whether on not this is a good thing.  Just as last year (here, here, and here), I will post weekly updates. We still have the girls weekends only, so I expect Ginger to do some silly stuff again this year.

Elf on the shelf in the christmas tree with a welcome letter.
Ginger returned Saturday, with a letter for the girls.

The girls think that Ginger put herself high upon the tree to keep away from our new dog. 

Elf on the shelf in a plastic tub with peppermint oil.
On Sunday, Ginger somehow got herself into a plastic tub, then farted. The note asks if you want to smell it.

Granddaughter-the-younger was first up that morning and was brave enough to open the tub and smell.  “She must have eaten too many candy canes!”.  Later the girls were practically shoving their dad’s face into the canister “Smell it!  Smell it!!” 

 

Elf on the shelf cutting out paper snowflakes and taping them to a french door.
Monday – Ginger used the computer chair to decorate the doors with hand made snowflakes.
Elf on the shelf in an igloo with other friends.
Tuesday Ginger was having a Igloo warming party. Kinda think that “igloo warming” sounds a bit counterproductive.
Elf on the shelf sitting in front of a Charlie Brown nativity scene, placing rhinestones on her outfit.
Wednesday – She’s all Bedazzled! 
Elf on the shelf with a finished Harry Potter Lego set.
On Friday, Ginger finished the Lego set for us!

Once again, Ginger The Elf has shown just what happens when a little elf gets bored. But she can also be helpful!

Elf on the shelf brought us a star for the top of our Christmas tree.
How sweet!

Got any silly elves at your place??  Check back next week to see what Ginger is up to!

Peace,
B

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Reflections on Sixty

Yes, today I hit the big 6 – 0, I think about 7PM tonight, but I don’t have my birth certificate here to read. Sixty damn years on this rock travelling around the sun. Not bad for one who didn’t expect to see 25. But you can blame Wifey® for that.  I would have been either dead or living on the street long ago if not for her love. 

Here are some of the things that stand out about my early life growing up in South Florida. 

  • Go barefoot as often as possible – screw the sand burrs.
  • Rain can be fun – I remember sitting in my front yard watching it rain on the house across the street – but not on me.
  • Wear sunscreen – well, I didn’t learn that as a kid. I was much older with kids of my own before that sunk in. I dare say I was sunburned more often than not.

Needless to say, life has taught me many lessons since those carefree days of running around in just a pair of shorts, chasing lizards, and playing ball. Most of it good, but there have been lots of tough lessons too. But I won’t get into that. 

Things from way-back-when I still remember;

  • My big brother picking me up early to go fishing on my birthdays. I never caught a single damn fish, but it was still fun, riding down US1 to the Florida Keys and fishing off the pylons and bridges. 
  • The first football game I went to. My mother was president of the high school PTA, so she always had a little table or booth at every game. I don’t remember what the function of the table was for, was she selling something? But I remember that first game, I was maybe 6. Her table was in a location where she couldn’t see the field, so she had to listen to the PA announcer to know how the game was progressing. Our team had made a first down, and mom, being the somewhat rabid football fan that she was, was happy. I had no idea what a “first down” was, so I asked. All she said was “that means they get to keep going”. Not knowing anything about football, or any sport really, it made no sense to me. But it made my mom happy, so I took it as a good thing.
  • My oldest sister took me along with her date, to a local fair. This was one of the little travelling deals that used to set up in shopping center parking lots. You just don’t see those anymore.  She, and my other sister as well, would take me along to these affairs quite often.  I clearly remember sitting in the Faris Wheel, between my sister and her date, stuck at the top for a good ten minutes. It was night time, so all the lights in the area were quite amazing. We could even see a little of the airport from our vantage point. I don’t think her date was as excited as I was. I wonder why??
  • My other sister and her friends using me as a makeup dummy. They used to try different shades of lipstick, and who knows what else on me to find the correct complimentary colors. Maybe that’s why clown makeup was such an obvious thing for me. Who knew lipstick was a gateway drug??
  • The importance of animals. We always had a pet of some kind in the house. Many times several at the same time. I learned just how important that relationship is, and it taught me the compassion and some of the responsibilities that are needed to maintain a family. 
  • Since my birthday falls around, and sometimes on, Thanksgiving, my mom would buy me pretty much whatever I wanted for my birthday dinner. Mostly to get me out of the way while she and my sisters were working on the big dinner. I always asked for pizza. From one place only. Frankie’s on Bird Road. They didn’t deliver, and the line was always long. But I would get my pizza, take it to my room, turn up the music as loud as I could get away with. That was cool!
  • My (still) best friend, Maurice and I spending entire days driving around in what we called “The Search For The Blue Nehi”. For those that don’t know what that is. A blue Nehi is a cream soda. It just happens to be a very lovely shade of blue. And it’s very hard to find. But it was a way to just drive around, make fun of people, and spend time with someone important.

I could go on forever. Remembrances of my military days. Going to Alaska, Korea, and all over the country. Having spent twenty years in the military and never seeing a day of combat is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, it kept me safe, but all my soldier buddies that were pulled from our hospital duties to deploy for Desert Shield/Storm came back at least one rank higher (some two ranks higher). Meanwhile, the reservists that came in to take their place lost my promotion paperwork twice!

What about my wife and kids and grandkids? So many memories I could write pages upon pages. So that will be another post, I’m afraid. 

Before I leave you today, I do have a birthday request. Not just for my birthday, but for anyone’s birthday. 

I have been blessed with more than I need. I have family, friends, a roof over my head that has room for more than just me, food aplenty, lots of beer and whisky, and pretty good health. While I want lots of stuff, I am not in need of anything. I bet you’ve friends and family that can say the same. So, don’t give material things (unless there is a special need for that thing). What I would love is donations to a good charity instead.  And there are many LOCAL charities available.

  • A local women’s shelter
  • A local homeless shelter
  • Your local animal shelter
  • A local food bank

I don’t like big conglomerate charity places (i.e. United Way and the like). Their problem is overhead. One report I read said that for every dollar donated to these types of organizations, only 3 cents or so actually make to the folks that need it. Give directly whenever possible.  National charities are good too.

  • The Red Cross (International!)
  • St. Jude’s
  • Many veteran’s organizations.

That’s enough, you get my drift. Make a donation in your loved one’s name (and don’t wait for a birthday or other holiday). And if you’re an Amazon shopper like I am, use their automatic donation option. You can have a portion of your purchases go directly to the charity of your choice. It costs you nothing. Currently, I have St. Jude’s as my choice. But I do change it now and then.

Having said that, if anyone wants to send me a boatload of cash so I can get those “wants, but not needs”, I’m not gonna say no. A nice big pellet smoker, an RV (along with a new vehicle) are on that list. And they ain’t cheap. 

But now I have to take on another of my birthday traditions. Namely, cook my own birthday dinner. But hey, I don’t mind. I cook because I love to eat. 

Thanks for spending a little of my birthday with me. I appreciate your time. Hope your day goes well, as I expect mine to go. But I really must go, the smoker ain’t gonna light itself!

I leave you with this video, which has absolutely nothing to do with birthdays. But it’s another memory from one of my trips around the sun. This one is for you Lloyd.

Peace,
B

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Turkey Day!

Now. Let’s talk turkey.

I’ve smoked, fried, roasted, undercooked, overcooked, done damn near everything to that damn bird. One year we even did a bourbon brined and bourbon smoked turkey! That was interesting. I’ve cooked them whole, spatchcocked, even quartered, just the breast, you name it. But, I’ve never done this:

turkey

I have lots of friends that are firefighters and I’ll feed them any time. But not like this!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (even when it doesn’t coincide with my birthday). One thing I like is if I take the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of turkey week off, I get a total of nine days in a row off (counting weekends). I’m always down for extra days off! (I’m just starting day 1 for this year). 

More importantly, family and food are what make this holiday special. Even though I end up cooking for days ahead, and the day of, I enjoy it. Wifey®, not so much. We are usually the hosts for everybody, and it’s very stressful for us. That’s why last year we took off, just the two of us, to the Smokey Mountains for the holiday. We also took a cruise one year, but it kinda sucked. Not only did it feel weird not having the usual Thanksgiving trappings but the cruise was rather boring. But we lived through it. We’re still deciding what to do for this year’s turkey day. But it looks like we’re going to a friend’s house this year (although we may end up here mainly because we have more room). All I can say is that the menu had better be set by the time I go shopping later today. Any turkey large enough to feed this crew will need to start thawing today! 

One of my fondest memories of Thanksgiving over the years was my mom’s turkey pot pie that she made from the leftover turkey. That was to die for. I’m sure my siblings remember it.

As I mentioned above, last year at this time Wifey® and I were headed up to Maggie Valley, NC all by ourselves. (Start here to read about that trip. There are 6 total posts.) The granddaughters usually go with their other grandparents to somewhere in western Tennessee to visit the girl’s great-grandparents. And as much as I’d love them to be here, it’ very important they spend time with other family too. I just hope they tolerate the 15 + hour car ride well. 

But remember –

reindeer

‘Nuff Said

What are your plans for the holidays?

 

Peace,
B

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Veteran’s Day Smoke-Out (And A Birthday)

(I originally was calling this event a “Throw Down”, but since I was the only one running the smoker, that title just didn’t fit. Kinda hard to “throw down” against yourself!)

Yes, I’m a bit late, but it was a very busy weekend. I seriously doubt I had more than 8 hours total sleep between Friday night and Sunday morning. Keep reading and you’ll understand.

The Sunday party was excellent. We had about 30 – 35 people show up. We had friends and family come in from an hour or more away, and folks from just down the street. Several kids for granddaughter-the-younger’s birthday.  Lots of food, craftbeer, whisky (and whiskey), and did I mention food??

I picked up a not quite 10-pound pork butt and a not quite 16-pound beef brisket from my local butcher on Wednesday. While I have smoked a brisket this size before, I have never smoked a butt ever! I was somewhat apprehensive but very eager to try.

I started the butt about noon on Saturday. The plan was to heavily smoke it (I used a combination of hickory, cherry and apple woods) until it reached about 140º F internal temperature. I had recently purchased a little device to help maintain the temperature in my big ol’ smoker and to keep a better eye on the meat temperature as well. And I had nothing but problems with this device.

It’s called a “CyberQ Cloud”, put out by The BBQ Gurus. I had already done a test run two weeks ago to make sure it was working as expected. One excellent feature is that it can connect to my home Wi-Fi setup and I can sit inside and watch a webpage that has all my temps, timers, and just about anything else being monitored. But for whatever reason, it just would not connect to my Wi-Fi even though it showed it as available in the list. Iimg_20181110_105555.jpg tried calling the support 800 number, but they’re not open on the weekends? Seriously? You have to figure that most people BBQ on the weekends (unlike my family – we’ll fire up a grill anytime!). Yet there was nobody to answer the phone. “Please leave a message and we’ll get back to you” is NOT good customer support. I even tried to contact them via their Twitter, and never got a response.  I could still use the unit, I just had to run in and out to check the monitor since it wouldn’t connect to the cloud.

We used “Cool Smoke Rub” all over the outside and injected it with a basic solution of apple juice, salt & sugar and other stuff.  The butt reached the target temp about 6PM. I let it sit a little longer while we ate dinner.

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After the smoker but before wrapping and into the oven.

Then I wrapped it in foil and placed it in a low (225º F) oven for overnight.  It didn’t need any more smoke since I had very heavy smoke going the entire time it was in the smoker.

So it was time to trim the brisket, inject with a beef broth solution and dry brine it. It would not get its “Big Bad Beef Rub” until tomorrow morning.

The plan was to get up at 3AM Sunday morning so I could get the brisket on the smoker by 4AM. Due to the problems I had with the CyberQ, I changed my alarm to 2AM to give me time to get it working again.  And since the universe hates me, I was up and out of bed at 1AM. What a life.

It took a factory reset to get the CyberQ reconnected. Thankfully there is ample documentation on the web for the device. It only took about 45 minutes to get it back up and connected. Whew!

So the brisket when on the smoker about an hour earlier than planned. No worries, it can be held in a faux cambro (basically an empty plastic beer cooler) for up to 5 hours without a problem.

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This what a brisket looks like at 0 dark 30!

The brisket probably weighed in around 14 1/2 pound or so after trimming. And since I didn’t separate the two muscles that make up a brisket, I knew this would take quite a bit of time. Following a very basic plan for brisket is simple.  Smoke (I used all mesquite for this brisket) until it hits the “stall”.  This usually occurs around 150º – 170º F.  Mine kicked in about 160º F.  I then wrapped it in butcher paper in a process known as the “Texas Crutch”.  Some use foil for this step, but I prefer to use the paper. I believe it leaves the “bark” (that wonderful outer crispy edge) much dryer and crunchy. It also will help cut down on the cooking time. Once the brisket is wrapped, you return it to the smoker (or an oven at 235º F or so) until it reaches an internal temp somewhere around 195º F or so. When you hit the mark at 195º then cut the point muscle off from the flat muscle. I then test the flat for tenderness by sliding my temp probe into various areas of the meat. If it slides in “like buttah” then you’re good to go, if not you can continue to cook until it reaches the 203º to 205º F range. But be careful, it’s very easy to overcook and dry it out!

When I separate the point, they become the wonderful concoction known as “burnt ends”. What I like to do, and Wifey® requires that I do this any time I’m doing brisket,

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Chunking the point

is to chunk the point up and throw in the pan that has been set in the smoker to catch all the drippings along with some warmed Au Jus and then covered and set in a warm oven to braise for a time. There are no “set times” for any of this. Every piece of meat and every smoker are different. Throw in other variables like weather (I had to pull the brisket off the smoker early due to a sudden rainstorm and finish it in the oven), and you can’t go by time. The temperature and tenderness of the meat is what makes it done.

These little flavor bombs are damn tasty. And look how juicy those are.

On Sunday, the CyberQ redeemed itself. It worked as expected, and I enjoyed sitting in the garage with my music playing and watching my cook being recorded on the web.

The butt shredded up very nicely! I had also made a vinegar sauce for the butt. As much as Wifey® loves her brisket, I love pulled pork even more. My grandmother taught me that if any meat is seasoned and cooked properly it won’t need sauce.  Seeing as she had, as a widow, at the height of the great depression, a successful BBQ restaurant, I’ll believe her. But I do like a vinegar sauce with my pulled pork. MVIMG_20181111_172713

And I’m very happy to say that several folks said the magic words – “Best I’ve ever had!” and “It didn’t need any sauce”.  I take that as the highest compliment to be had. Thank you all!

I guess it was a good cook in any event. With all that meat, there was damn near nothing left. I was really hoping to have a pulled pork sandwich from lunch Monday, as I think I had one burnt end, one slice of brisket, and maybe two tastes of the pork.  I did graze on all the other side dishes that friends brought, and some we made, but I didn’t get much of the meat.

 

This is all that was left.. (And I brought it for lunch today!)

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A little bit of pork, and one lonely brisket slice!

And my beautiful granddaughter-the-younger had a good birthday with her friends as well. I do believe her uncle’s (son-the-elder) gift was the hit of the party! A Harry Potter Lego set.

I have no idea what time it was when I fell asleep. I remember most everybody leaving, especially those that had to drive an hour or more. All I remember was sitting down with a nice craftbeer and nodding off. It was a very long day. It started at 1AM, and didn’t end until that evening. I’m way too old to be up that long. Wifey® and I were smart enough to take Monday off. We knew that we’d be in no shape to do anything. I slept most of the day away.

Here are some links to the recipes and instructions I’ve been using.

Amazing Ribs. Meathead Goldwyn’s website. I have used many of the FREE recipes several times, and for this cook I used both his Big Bad Beef Rub Recipe and the Lexington Dip North Carolina Hill Country BBQ Sauce Recipe.  He has a great book too.  Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling available everywhere.

Smoking Meat. Jeff Phillips website. This was the first website I found several years ago. I have used many of the resources available here. For this cook I based my pork butt on this guide.

Cool Smoke.  BBQ Champion Tuffy Stone’s website. The website doesn’t have much in the way of free recipes, but his book; Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue has a crazy amount of good stuff. 

CyberQ Cloud. The BBQ Gurus have a whole line of BBQ stuff. From full on smokers, to tongs and other accessories.

I hope this little post was something enjoyable for you to read. Hopefully, the food porn didn’t make you drool too much!

And thanks again, to everyone that came over. I enjoyed myself, and I think ya’ll did too! (And a special thanks to those that helped put away the food, the grills and other parts and pieces after I had crashed for the night!)

Peace,
B

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P.S. Who’s up for Turkey Day???

Samhain 2018

(Last year’s Samhain and Allhallow’s Eve posts)

It’s both a joy and a hindrance growing up and now living in Florida. The seasons don’t really change. The calendar changes just like everybody else’s, but that’s the only way to know which holiday to celebrate. Yes, we get our 12 hours of autumn, and maybe four days of winter, but other than love bug season the rest of the year it’s the same. It was nice to get bicycles and skates for Christmas because we could use them right away. We didn’t have to wait for the spring thaw. I spent many Christmas afternoons outside on my bike, skates, playing with whichever piece of sports gear I got that year. No bundling up, hell I seldom wore a shirt or shoes!  Brag all you want about winter sports. We spent two years in Alaska. You can keep all your skis, snowmobiles, and hockey gear.  Not for me.

With my birthday falling during Thanksgiving week (no, I was not born on a Thanksgiving day. I am not a Turkey. I was born on a Tuesday), that holiday holds great importance to me. Except for the year I turned 18. That was on a Thanksgiving day. But I was at Lackland Air Force Base, in basic training, pulling KP duty. So that year it basically sucked.

One thing that has bothered me for years now is the “holiday creep”.  It really pisses me off when I go into a store before November and they have Christmas decorations already up. Let’s give all the holidays their proper time.

That would make Samhain/Halloween/Allhallow’s Eve first.

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The girl’s Jack O’Lanterns for this year

Again this year, trick or treating falls in the middle of the week, so we had to take the

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A map of the corn maze. We didn’t get lost, but we didn’t do the entire maze either. Somehow we skipped about a quarter of it!

girls out for fun early.  We hit up a “Fall Festival” with a corn maze, games, food, and other typical events. Despite the heat, it was quite fun. The girls had two of their younger cousins come along, so the adults didn’t have to be with them all the time. We just had to keep them in sight.

We also took the girls to a local church’s festive events.  We got there a bit late, but there really wasn’t much to do anyway. Both the girls did the “box maze” (you had to crawl through large boxes that were placed together. It was more of a tunnel than a maze). Granddaughter-the-elder spent her time on the big inflatable slides.  Her costume was one of the characters from Disney’s Descendants 2 show. Don’t ask me which one. Maybe you can tell from the picture. But her costume was so slippery she beat all the boys down the slides every time. They said she was cheating!

Granddaughter-the-younger (costume from the same show) spent her entire time waiting in line to get her face painted. She didn’t seem to mind (don’t think she was feeling well anyway), so I’m not complaining.  I just sat on a chair off to the side where I could see everything. But the music!  So bad! They’d blast some pop tune all the kids all knew followed by a Christian song that had no relevance to the event. Sheesh..

And of course, we carved the Jack O’Lantern’s you saw above.

Tomorrow the veil thins, and travel between the realms is easier. At least that’s what some believe. It may well be true. Having never been dead, I don’t know what it takes to cross over. But last year’s posts have more info (they’re linked at the top of the page).

There aren’t many kids in our neighborhood, although some families are moving in as us old folks die off, so Wifey® and I usually don’t stay home on trick or treating night. We’ve found that even leaving all the lights out in the front of the house doesn’t stop the most determined hoodlums’ kids from banging on the door and screaming for candy.  In the past that made the dogs go crazy. But sadly, the dogs have passed on so that won’t be a problem.*

I used to dress up in costume and hand out candy and /or go to parties. But not anymore. If my granddaughters were available during the week and not just on weekends, I would do it again. Way back in the day I would drag my sound system out to the front porch and blast Rick Wakeman’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII at a very loud volume while my bud Mo and I would do our best to scare the kids trying to steal our candy. But, alas, those days are past.

Check out my friend Kirsten’s blog Once Upon A Spine. She still has the spirit.

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I don’t even wear my clown face anymore…

Peace,
B

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* Wouldn’t it be a hoot if the dogs and cat we lost last year crossed over and visited us??

Celebrate Good Times (Come On)!

Yesterday we had the final celebration of Wifey® and granddaughter-the-elder’s birthdays. Since they both have birthday’s on or around the 4th, and we live in a tourist area, sometimes we have to do our celebrating in stages. Plus it’s more fun to keep the celebrations going for a while! Then this morning, Wifey® reminded me that today is our 73rd six-month anniversary. Yes, we celebrate every six months since that was how long we were told we would last. Ha!

So yesterday the family went to Universal City Walk and had a great time. It was all son-the-younger’s idea. Since Wifey® and I both agree we have too much stuff, we would rather do things with whichever family members we can get together. Son-the-younger picked Blueman Group, and since none of us have ever seen that show, I immediately agreed.

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My fam-damily!

And boy did we pick a hell of a day!  The rain was so bad on the way over to Orlando, we could barely see the hood of the car. But there was no rain in Orlando (surprise!). We had crazy heat. Well maybe not crazy, after all, we are Florida natives (except for son-the-younger, he’s our “token Eskimo” – he was born in Alaska).

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Feels like 108!

So our basic “plan” (we never have a plan – or if we do we don’t follow it), was to get to City Walk around 3PM, walk around and shop a bit, then catch an early dinner and the finally the Blueman Group show at 6PM. But as luck would have it, we sat down at the Lone Palm Bar (part of Margaritaville) and had a few beers. Son-the-younger took his girls and walked around. They found the hot dog stand. And they know that I love hot dogs. But, even cooler, they found stadium seats from some major league stadiums! They also know that papa loves baseball!

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My baby girls in the doughnut chair

Once we realized that we had missed our time for an early dinner, we decided that another round of beers was in order and that we would go to the theater and wait for the show.

Since it was so hot and humid outside, the theater was like an ice-box. But man did it feel good! Plus we were allowed to bring in our drink and snacks! I won’t give much of a review of the show as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone that hasn’t had the pleasure of seeing it.

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Beer, popcorn, and Minecraft swords! Oh, my!

The Blueman Group show was totally awesome! I have not laughed that hard in a long time. I was already fighting a head cold and scratchy throat before we went, so now I can hardly talk. But it was completely worth it. wp-1531740904422..jpg

After the show, we went to the restaurant that we used as a ruse to plan this whole adventure. We didn’t tell Wifey® about the show, only we were going to dinner. But since we had waited so long, there was now an hour wait. What to do? What else, go have another beer!  So back around the park, we go back to the Lone Palm Bar. But our very cool server, Bethany, was off shift now. But we only had time for one beer, so it was all good.

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It was 9PM or so by the time we got to eat. The girls were very hungry, almost to the point of feeling sick. But the milkshakes they had took care of that quickly. I will say I was not happy with my meal, but I don’t blame the restaurant. By this time I was feeling so bad, between the heat and the head cold, that nothing would have tasted good to me.  Everybody else said their meals were great, so I’ll take the heat on this one.

Other than stupid Orlando traffic, and all the damn construction, the drive home was a little easier. Traffic on I-4 (AKA The Devil’s Highway), which according to a recent study is the most dangerous road in America, was light. But we still didn’t get home until midnight.

But all in all, a most spectacular evening! I highly recommend Blueman Group. We’ve already made plans to bring the girls to the Universal Theme Park and Harry Potter.  Stay tuned for that review!

So, how was your weekend?

Peace,
B

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And A Good Time Was Had By All

As I mentioned on my 4th of July post, Wednesday was granddaughter-the-elder’s birthday, and Thursday was Wifey’s®. Last Monday, granddaughter-the-elder informed us she was having a unicorn party at both houses (as in our house and her other grandparent’s where she lives). Of course, she didn’t bother to ask us if she could have a birthday party, she just decided she was going to have a party, and that was the end of the discussion.  Well, what’s a good papa to do, other than making sure she has a unicorn party? Between Wifey®, son-the-younger (AKA Daddy), and myself, we managed to get everything together.

Wifey® and granddaughter-the-elder, along with granddaughter-the-younger, starting browsing the Intertubes for unicorn party ideas. Somehow they decided on unicorn cake pops. Now we have never made any cake pops before, much less unicorn type, so Wifey®, being the smart cookie that she is, said we should make a trial batch before the party so we could get things right. Damn good thing we did. The first batch was an utter failure. The “instructions” (not really instructions – more like general ideas) were so generic, nothing went as shown. So she broke down and bought a cake pop tray. And while the cake pops came out correct, it was still anything but smooth sailing.

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Nekkid cake pops

The concept is once you have the cake pops baked and stuck on a stick (and there are several sizes of sticks available – but no advice as to which size to use), you’re supposed to dip them in some melted candy. This will give them a nice smooth surface to decorate, plus it seals the cake portion making them last a bit longer.

But here’s the thing. We bought a package of “candy melts” that are specifically made for this type of project. We bought a 10-ounce package (only size available), the “instructions” say you only need 4 ounces to cover 24 cake pops. Bullshit. For one thing, despite following the melting instructions on the candy packaging, I never could get it to dippable consistency. I have been melting chocolate and other candies for many years and never had a problem like this. One “instructional” video shows that instead of dipping the pops, use a spoon and drizzle the melted candy over the pops. Nope, not gonna happen. The candy was never liquid enough to drizzle either. So we ended up only covering some of our pops.

So on to the unicorn decorations. Wifey® found “instructions” on how to make a unicorn horn with fondant. It sounded easy enough. Just roll out some fondant cut into about a 2-inch section fold, and twist to look like a horn. You can then mount it on a toothpick, or something similar, so you can stick in a piece of styrofoam like stuff and put them in the fridge to harden. Once they’re hard you paint them with a small mix of either water or something alcohol based (for quick evaporation) and some edible glitter. We used vanilla extract, but I think the dark color of the extract made the horns turn too dark. But for the ears, mini-marshmallows cut in half, and painted with the same mix, they came out beautiful.

Next, we were supposed to draw eyes on the pops. We

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have special edible markers just for this purpose. But since the candy coating didn’t work correctly, and wasn’t smooth, it didn’t work either. But granddaughter-the-elder had a blast doing it anyway!

Wifey® then showed up my failures by piping the manes and little flowers on some of the pops. She has considerable piping skills!

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But, cake pop issues aside, the party was a lot of fun. Since we didn’t have a lot of time to plan it, we let granddaughter-the-elder set the guest list. So only a few really close friends of hers were invited.

Daddy (AKA son-the-younger), made us some homemade pizzas. He is a sous chef for an Italian restaurant here in town, and he has this pizza making stuff down pat. We had five pizzas and a mess of garlic knots (also homemade). And they were amazing!  I think we only had three slices of pizza left over!

The best of all the kitchen work was how little I had to do. Not that I didn’t want to help, but my lower back issue flared up again Saturday afternoon so I was on muscle relaxers most of the weekend. So all I really did was sit and chop veggies, and fail at the candy coating for the pops. It also meant that I couldn’t join in on the tequila shots later that evening.

Granddaughter-the-younger said that the kids were celebrating sissy’s birthday and the adults were celebrating memaw’s (Wifey®) birthday. So there was a water balloon fight (all ages), fireworks later in the evening, beer (and I did have some of that) & tequila (adults only!) and movies with popcorn and a sleepover (kids only!). My driveway looks like a battle zone right now. Remnants of fireworks and brightly colored balloon pieces are everywhere.

One of granddaughter-the-elder’s presents was a stuffed turtle. She has a fascination with any stuffed toy, with a soft spot for turtles. The turtle looks decidedly drunk. One droopy eye and the pupils are different sizes! She absolutely loves it.

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SO… how was you’re weekend?

P.S. If you have any good tips on cake pops, please leave a comment.  Thanks!

Peace,
B

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Happy Day!

While the rest of the USA is celebrating our Independence Day today, I have a much better event to celebrate. Today is granddaughter-the-elder’s® birthday, and tomorrow is Wifey’s® birthday. I will not tell you their ages, as I know better than that!

g-ma & kairi

Several years ago.. not saying how many.

And since it is the 4th of July…

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How are you spending the day today?

Peace,
B

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Over 50!!

(Followers that is. Personally, I’ve been over fifty for a while now…)

Thanks to all my followers. I broke the 50 follower mark today. Never thought I’d get any kind of following!

So here’s a video to celebrate.

Peace,
B

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A Father’s Day Contemplation

So yesterday was Father’s Day. I hope all the fathers reading this had a wonderful day. I know I did. I spent the majority of the weekend smoking fish, ribs, and chicken. It was so hot (95° F according to the weather app on my phone) and time-consuming, my feet and ankles are so swollen I could barely get my shoes on this morning.

But it was worth it. And this is not what I came here to talk about today.

While I was checking on the smokers, I saw a pizza delivery guy go by. I was going to tweet a sarcastic remark about “who would order pizza on father’s day”? But then I thought about and grew troubled by that thought. Since son-the-younger did pizza delivery for many years, I’ve come to realize that for some folks pizza is the “world’s best food”. I don’t agree with that, especially not your average delivery pizza, but it’s not my call. If someone enjoys pizza that much, then go for it.

But then my thoughts went a bit deeper. What if father’s day doesn’t have the same connotation for that person as it does for me? Maybe the pizza was going to a single mother or a family that has lost a child, or a father? What then? I looked at all the food I had going on the smokers. What if they couldn’t afford anything more than a pizza? I wanted to follow the delivery guy and see if I could invite them over to eat with us.

And then it went deeper. What about those families that are torn apart by the draconian policy currently in force by our sham president and his evil Keebler elf? I cannot imagine the thoughts going through the minds of families seeking asylum in our country just to have their children forcibly taken from them. Seeking asylum is a human right. If you are running from a terrible situation in your home country, you don’t exactly have the time, nor the resources, to apply for entrance to a safer country. Asylum seekers are not entering this country illegally, they are running for their lives. If America will not accept them as they are, then we need to change our leadership. I’m pretty sure that it’s always been our policy to accept immigrants, especially those seeking asylum.

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But, unfortunately, this behavior by our administration doesn’t surprise me. This country is built on the bones of slaughtered indigenous people, the bones of families taken from their home country and forced to work as slaves, the bones of any and all marginalized people, women especially. We need to change this. We need to be better.

Sorry for such a morose post, it’s not like me. But it’s Monday, I’m a bit hungover, and my feet hurt.  So there!

Peace,
B

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