family

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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They Treat Me Like Family

Obviously, that is a clip from the hit TV show “The Big Bang Theory”. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 11 years or so, here is the Wikipedia page for the show.

I don’t watch much television. Wifey® on the other hand, watches a lot. But I do enjoy this show. The basic characters are, of course, over the top representations of your average science nerd.

Let’s look at this clip for a moment. What if a restaurant really did “Treat You Like Family”? In my opinion that would mean;

  • No menu. You would get whatever the hell the cook made that night. And you’d like it!
  • You would have to serve yourself. Go get your own refills and such.
  • The usual response to “pass me the salt, pepper, ketchup, whatever” would be “Get up and get it yourself!” Well, at least at my house that’s the usual.
  • You wouldn’t have to pay! Now that’s a good point. But it’s also a bad idea, as the venue would not be around very long.

What else would make it “like family” for you? Leave me a comment below.

Peace,
B

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7 Day B&W Photo Challenge – Day 7

outside of campbell restaurant 3

I was challenged by Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine to do the “7 Day Black and White Photo Challenge”, and I’m always up for a challenge. The rules are simple: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

Since I never tend to follow directions I’m going to comment on my selections for this challenge. First, the “no people” requirement made it very difficult for me. As you can tell, all the photos I’ve used are old photos that I’ve scanned in to add to various genealogy projects. I have some wonderful old photographs of family members dating back to the early 1900’s. But I couldn’t use them for this challenge. What a shame. Maybe I’ll use some for another post.

Day one is a picture taken by my father of the beach at Matheson Hammock in Miami, Florida. My family (and Wifey’s®) grew up on this beach. My dad was a pretty good amateur photographer. He had some of his work of Hurricane Donna damage (1960) picked by the Associated Press and United Press International.

Day two is the “Campbell House – Milesburg, PA”. Yes, there are people in it, but they’re not the focus of the shot, and it’s not really a B&W – more of a sepia, but I used it anyway. The 1930 census lists my paternal grandmother as a “boarding house owner”. I think this is that house, but I am not sure. And I have no idea who the people sitting on the porch are.

Day three is a winter shot of my mother’s house in Gaston, SC, where she moved after my father passed. It may not be a true black and white, but I always thought it was a striking photo, so I used it. Plus it’s one of my favorites that I actually took!

Day four is, according to the note on the back, a picture of Shep. Shep was my dad’s dog way before my siblings and I were around. The location is unknown.

Day five shows my brother’s, Chevy Nova. I’m not sure of the year, but the house I grew up in is in the background so it had to be after 1960.

Day 6 has a very interesting note on the back; “This is where the cookies come from – Friend’s Union State College, PA.” My paternal grandmother, “Nanny”, told me many times that she was the first cook hired by Penn State University. I have a letter from the Civil Engineering Camp of the Penn State Univ. accepting Josephine as Head Cook for the school camp demonstration project, dated 9/20/1956. The demonstration project ran from 9/30 through 10/12 of the same year. Along with many pictures of her in the kitchen of this building cooking up a storm.

And finally, Day 7. Just to show how good a cook Nanny was, this is a picture of her BBQ restaurant. All I know is that it was somewhere in Pennsylvania. And you see that I come by my love of all things grilled naturally.

This is a picture of the inside of her restaurant:

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I love the “Open Kitchen”. Same way I run mine.

Today I’ll nominate: Little Fears

I want to thank Kiersten again for tagging me in this project. And a big hearty Welcome! to all my new followers. Hope I can continue to earn your support.

Peace,
B

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7 Day B&W Photo Challenge – Day 6

Friends union penn state univ

I was challenged by Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine to do the “7 Day Black and White Photo Challenge”, and I’m always up for a challenge. The rules are simple: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

Today I’ll nominate: Divine Minds

Peace,
B

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7 Day B&W Photo Challenge – Day 5

terrys nova at 29th st

I was challenged by Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine to do the “7 Day Black and White Photo Challenge”, and I’m always up for a challenge.  The rules are simple: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

Today I’ll nominate: YummyHood

Peace,
B

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Gibson Girl

The idea for this post came out of the “7 Day B&W Photo Challenge” that my lovely friend Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine tagged me in. Go check out her blog, she has some excellent book reviews (even some books that I’ve read!)

According to this Wikipedia page;

The Gibson Girl was the personification of the feminine ideal of physical attractiveness as portrayed by the pen-and-ink illustrations of artist Charles Dana Gibsonduring a 20-year period that spanned the late 19th and early 20th century in the United States and Canada. The artist saw his creation as representing the composite of “thousands of American girls.”

So, even though I am as old as dirt, the Gibson Girl concept was before my time. But not before my grandmother’s time. My dad’s mother did some modeling way back around the turn of the 20th century.

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A tin-type photograph. Unkown when it was taken, but I would believe 1890 – 1900. My grandmother is on the left.

I have to say that when I found these tintypes (here’s the Wiki page on exactly what a tintype is), I was amazed that that was my grandmother! I had only known her much later in life when she came to live with us. I know my brother and she did not get along. Probably because he was the oldest son, and much more was laid on his shoulders, then on my shoulders as the second son (and 10 years his junior). But I had no problems with Nanny. We got along famously. Especially after about the third time she was upset with me and said: “Just wait until your father gets home”. I was truly scared the first two times. But dad was like “I didn’t see (whatever I did), so you should punish him”. From the third time on, I was like “No problem!”. But then she also told me that if you could sprinkle salt on a birds tail, you would be able to catch the bird. And of course, I believed her. Standard course for a 6-year-old!

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Nanny is the one in the bottom right.

Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me. I’d love to see photos or whatever of your family!

Peace,
B

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It Is Finished (For Now Anyway)

(This is part four of my “Home Repair as Therapy” series. Here are links to part one, part two, and part three. Go back and read them if want to get caught up. Don’t worry, this post will still be here.)

Once again Wifey® and I took a Friday off in conjunction with a holiday weekend (Memorial Day this time), to give us a four-day weekend and a chance to finish the floor work.  This is the job that we started way back in August of last year. And in reality, even several months before that, when we started tearing up the carpet before we any idea what we were going to replace the carpet with!

I won’t go into all the steps it takes to get everything ready. You can read all about that part of the “experience” in the earlier posts that I’ve linked to above.

So I’ll just post some pictures for you to enjoy and marvel over.

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The finished floor in the master bedroom.

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Son-the-younger and his girls putting the floor down in his room

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Measure twice and cut once? More like “I’ve cut this damn thing twice, and it’s still too short!”

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My team!  Without the help of these fine folks, this project would not have happened. I owe all of them so much!

There is still work to be done.  The quarter round molding needs to be replaced. But I’m hiring someone to do that. I do not have the tools, nor the skills to do miter cuts. (See the caption above).

Our next big project is painting the entire house. The girls are getting the murals they asked for. And don’t worry, I’ll overshare those pictures too.

And just in case you’re wondering, we are NOT for hire. There is not enough money in the world for me to this again. My feet are the size of picnic hams, I can barely walk, and just trying to get in and out of a chair is an adventure. As I’ve said before, “I’m too damn old for this shit!”

Peace,
B

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A Quick Thought On Memorial Day

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