Celebrations

A Conglomeration Of Birthdays

I find it amusing at how many of my family birthdays seem to come in groups. I understand that there are only so many days in a year, so it’s probable that some birthdays will fall near each other. But as I posted before when my father and both of his parents birthdays fall within 3 days of each other. So here is the next “installment”.

First, is my maternal grandmother;

Dora Calder (Hicks), 8 June 1898 – 4 March 1972

I spent many summer vacations at either her house, or a nearby aunt’s house, but I barely remember her. I was too busy playing with my cousins I guess.

Switching “families”, the next two are wifey’s parents.

Corneila Opha Greene (Moore), 12 June 1933 – 13 June 2014.
Charles Nathan Moore, Sr., 13 June 1925 – 27 October 2016.

My in-laws were every bit of parents to me as my parents were. They supported wifey and I every step of the way.

Peace,
B

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A Quick Thought On Memorial Day

This is a repost of last year’s Memorial Day post. I don’t think I could say it any better.

While it’s never wrong to thank a veteran for his or her service, that is not what today is for. Save that for Veteran’s Day. Today we remember the ones who never got to take off the uniform, those that never came home, the ones that paid that ultimate sacrifice. So we do not “celebrate” Memorial Day, we respect what it stands for. Now granted I will have my cookout and drink several adult beverages, after all, it is an extra day off of work. But in the back of my mind, and hopefully yours too, we will remember our brothers and sisters of all branches of the military and hope that their sacrifice wasn’t in vain. As an Army retiree and the proud father of a soldier, today weighs heavily on me and my family, I am so very grateful for those that served before me and after me. So lift a glass of whatever beverage you choose, and thank those we can only remember, those who fell on the battlefields the world over. And pray that the wars will end, and peace will reign. Amen.

Peace,
B

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Retired Army

A Week Of Birthdays

I’m guessing that this was quite the week back in the day.

Yesterday would have been my paternal grandmother’s 134th birthday. Josephine “Nanny” Bodle was born 27 March 1885. Nanny lived with us for most of my childhood. She is where I get my love of cooking. She ran her own BBQ resturant in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Josie maybe 1900?

Today is my father’s birthday, Donald Campbell would have been 107. Dad was born 28 March 1912. He was a pretty remarkable guy. We had our differences, but then what kid doesn’t have issues with their parents at some point?

Donald Campbell maybe 1930?

And then to complete the trifecta, my paternal grandfather’s 135th birthday would have been on Sunday. Herbert J. Campbell born 31 March 1884, and died 5 February 1919, a victim of the flu pandemic.

Herbert J. Campbell 1905

I can only imagine how this week was celebrated in my Campbell ancestor’s house. I love the convergence of my father and his parents birthdays all together in one week.

And a Happy Birthday to anyone that has a birthday this week! You’re in good company.

Peace,
B

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100?!?!?!

In all the hubbub and craziness of this weekend, with it being St. Paddy’s day, the last weekend of Bike Week, and one of my former soldiers and his wife coming for a visit, I missed that I now have 100 followers on this little blog!

This just blows me away!! It may not be much, but it’s more than I ever thought would be hanging around. It has been a very emotional weekend, but this just is the icing on the cake.

Partying like it’s 1992 all over again!

For those that have been here since the beginning, a most loving “Thank You!!”, and for those new to this experience, a most hardy “Welcome!!”

And we’re under two months until we go to Scotland!!

Peace,
B

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On 74 Half Years

It was right around noon on Saturday, 16 January 1982, that we said: “I do”. Or would that be “We do”? But in any case, as I’ve mentioned before, everybody said we wouldn’t make it six months. So we celebrate every six months to rub it in their faces! If you do the math (yeah, math’s hard!) 74 half years equals 37 years.

Wifey in medieval dress
She is every bit as beautiful today.

As one would expect, 37 years together can bring changes. And this is true of us as well. Not everything has been all peaches and cream all the time. But we both know that there is a reason we’re still together and still friends after all this time. The fact is nobody else could put up with us! We are now a pair. We may have started off as two individuals, but as the Stephen Stills song Helplessly Hoping goes;


They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other

Yup.. Stole this from a Twitter friend. And yes, we’ve had similar experiences.

I won’t bore you with any stories of our life together. There are plenty of blogs that have everything from tearjerker stories, to horrifying stories of relationships. Feel free to search them out if that’s your thing. And I won’t even start into any relationship strategy. I really wouldn’t recommend our path to most anyone. We are a couple of odd birds.

When I first started planning this post I had one video in mind to include. Over time I think I was up to about 10 different videos and couldn’t decide on which one to post. I won’t post 10 videos, but I do have three that I narrowed it down to. I really, really hope you don’t have “autoplay” turned on.

Because I’ve called her “babe” forever!
She does make so very happy!
The original video I had in mind and referenced in my last post.

And note, they’re all American bands!

Peace,
B

P.S. I’m sure you would have picked different music, let me know what you think is a better choice in a comment (please here on the blog – I don’t look at FaceBook all that often).

Ginger’s Last Week – 2018

Our silly little elf, Ginger will return to her home at the North Pole this week. I wonder just what she has planned for us this week!

Elf with a construction paper countdown sitting on top of a cat tree.
Saturday, Ginger climbed the cat’s tree with a construction paper countdown.
Elf tangled in silver garland. ELf had strung the garland across the bedroom doors.
Oh my! On Sunday morning she trapped the girls in their rooms with garland she took off the tree! Is this an Elfie Crime Scene??
Elf made a Christmas tree and a heart with read & green M&M's
Christmas Eve and Ginger made a Christmas Tree and a heart with the green and red M&M’s.
Elf in a Christmas wreath with her suitcase.
Christmas day, and Ginger has to return home. She has her bag packed and off she goes.

Sadly, Ginger now has to return home to the North Pole. We will miss her, but expect even more silly things next year!

Ginger hopes you have enjoyed these two years of pictures and stories. And, we hope you come back to see next year’s posts. Don’t forget to search for “Ginger” to see last years stuff! And we admit that most of these ideas came from Pinterest. There are a few originals, but not many.

And I thank you for your time in reading this very random blog. I realize there are many blogs to choose from, some serious, some (most) more humorous than mine. I do appreciate every time you stop to read, like and even more so follows! Thanks to each and every one of you.

Peace,
B

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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.

MVIMG_20181110_175152

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.

MVIMG_20181111_030142

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,

IMG_20181111_135412

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!)

MVIMG_20181112_080139

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???