Food

So This Is Christmas…

So, is this Christmas? Maybe for the folks that insist on saying “Merry Christmas” and throw a fit if you respond with any other reply other than “Merry Christmas”.  As with most Christian holidays, Christmas is just another pagan holiday that was renamed and re-purposed (i.e. stolen) in an attempt to convert more of the local “peasant” type of folks to Christianity. Easter and All Saint’s Day are two other examples.

But Christmas isn’t the only religious celebration that happens around this time of year.

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Picture source: Unvirtuous Abby on Facebook, but I’m sure others have posted it as well, so I have no idea who originally created it

And despite what my credit card statements say, “Christmas” (and yes that’s the term I use for this holiday) doesn’t start for me until I randomly hear John Lennon’s “So This Is Christmas (War Is Over)” played in a random store while, usually, standing around waiting on Wifey® to find “just the right color”, or something like that for someone in the family. My brother and I are the kind that will walk into a store and buys the first thing we see that suits us. Fini! Done! Let’s go have a beer! None of this going into every store in the mall only to go back and buy the thing you saw in the first store.

Plus now with online shopping, other than some clothes, that’s my preferred method of shopping. The holidays bring on enough anxiety as it is.  The stores are usually so crowded I can’t stand it.  The boys, Wifey®, and I went to the mall last night and thankfully it was damn near empty.

Christmas shopping brings on its own kind of  “performance anxiety”. When are enough presents just right?  Not worried about the boys (they’re adults now), but the little girls always make it difficult. They want everything they see on TV, especially if it’s electronic. I don’t want to get them too many things, not only does it promote over-consumption, I don’t want them thinking that I’ll buy them any and everything (even though I probably will – that’s what PaPa’s do). But at the same time, too few gifts under the tree leaves them open for ridicule from classmates and such.  It’s a fine line. Much like my credit line.

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We support the artificial tree industry by buying a new tree every two years on average. We only buy pre-lit trees (because I’m lazy) and they seem to burn out quickly. Can’t use real trees as the “fresh pine scent” aggravates my COPD (Pine-Sol does it too).

The girls wanted an “Elf On A Shelf”.  They named her Ginger (I wanted to spell it Gynger – so it sounded more like a stripper name). We know it’s a female elf because it has earrings, which of course means nothing anymore. Plenty of very “manly men” have pierced ears, but the box was labeled “female”, so that settled it. But I would still like to get away from labels.  That’s Gynger, I mean Ginger sitting on the hearth watching the girls put up the Christmas tree.

We figure since we only have the girls on the weekends, Ginger must be an apprentice elf. Since she only has 2 – 3 days to watch the girls, she gets bored sitting around the house.  But that will be the subject of another post, later in the season….  Keep watching this space!

So even though I still haven’t heard “So This Is Christmas” yet (I have at least two more shopping days planned – so get your requests in early), there is still a chance to hear it.  And even though my dear ol’ brother doesn’t like the song, he says the “war is over” should have been left out, but I disagree. He was never in the military (declared medically unfit for service during the Vietnam era).  As a vet, I heartily agree with the sentiment.

So here is the original video of the song.  As since I’m just posting the link, I don’t get to hear it. So if I haven’t randomly heard it by the 20th or so, I’ll come back here and listen to it.  Then, maybe Christmas will begin for me.

Please enjoy the video!

Peace,
B

EDIT:  My brother texted me (why he didn’t leave a comment is anybody’s guess), and corrected me. He does like the song, it’s just the “Merry Christmas” part doesn’t mix with the “war is over” part. He agrees with me that we wish all wars would end. 

How We Spent Our Thanksgiving Week – The End!

This is the last of the Thanksgiving week series. Links to the rest of the series;
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5

So our trip to Maggie Valley has come to an end, and it’s time to head home to Daytona Beach. We will miss our time in the mountains and the amazing sights we saw.

Here are a few of the pictures I didn’t post on the other days in no particular order.

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Just to prove that I’m not the only terrible photographer in the family, Wifey managed to get this shot of me on Chimney Rock with my face in the shadow of a tree.

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Some random waterfall we passed on the road. We just stopped, rolled down the window took a picture and drove off. Because that’s what tourists do!

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The tasting menu at Sierra Nevada Brewery. 

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I’ll bet Louis XVI wished he had a chandelier of Sierra Nevada bottles like this one. 

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See? I told you Wifey kept taking pictures of my butt.

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Wifey waited for over 15 minutes for this guy to get off of Pulpit Rock. She finally gave up and just took the picture anyway.  Thanks, random guy!

We, or at least I was, somewhat spoiled by the light traffic we experienced during this vacation.  Even on our trips over to Asheville traffic was not bad at all. Of course, it is the off-season for Maggie Valley, but Asheville is a large enough city to have traffic year round.  Such was not the case on the trip home. Our basic route was I26 east to I95 south. Sounds simple enough.

In my Army years, we did two tours at Fort Bragg just outside of Fayetteville, NC, for a total of 6 years or so. During this time we made many trips up and down I95, to Miami and back, at all times of the year and over just about every holiday you can think of. We have never had the traffic problems we had on this trip.  From the I26/I95 interchange to the Georgia line (about 86 miles) took us over three hours.  I have never been so frustrated in traffic in my life. Regular readers of this blog know how much I hate traffic (you can catch my thoughts on the “Elon Musk Are You Listening?” post).  The only thing that kept me sane was Wifey® finding the RV Trader website and reading me the various RVs she found.  We want to find us an RV in the next two years so we can travel more.

I’d like to give some love to a couple of places we stopped at while were in Maggie Valley and Waynesville.

First, The Buttered Biscuit.  We ate breakfast there three times. Nothing spectacular, just good food, served with a smile from very friendly folks.  Ask for Oliva if you happen to stop in. Not sure if they’re in Maggie Valley or Waynesville, as they’re at the intersection of US19 and US276. Basically on the border of each town.  (And like most restaurants in the valley, they’re closed on Tuesday. The oddest thing to me.)

One of our favorite little shops is Seven Silver Seas. Located right on US19 in Maggie Valley.  They have lots of handmade, free trade gift items from around the world at very fair prices. But be warned, it is a very “fragrant” shop. I don’t know if they have incense burning or just a heavy-duty perfume spray, but it gave Wifey® a migraine the first day we stopped in.  The second stop was a quick in and out to avoid the fragrance problem.

I have posted reviews on almost every place we stopped, ate or otherwise visited on Trip Advisor, look for “BeachDaze58” for my reviews.

And since this is the end of this series, and I haven’t played a single video yet, I thought this one would be fitting.

Enjoy! And please leave me a comment. Maybe a suggestion of another place to visit.

Peace,
B

How We Spent Our Thanksgiving Week – Day 4

This is part four of the Thanksgiving series. You can find the first three here:
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

The reference map for you;

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Day four is Thanksgiving day. So it’s a laid-back, no rush day for us.  We made a simple breakfast in the cabin since we didn’t want to make anyone work for us, even if they were open anyway. Then settled in to watch some of the usual parades. We watched some of the Asheville parade, which reminded us of our local parades, and some of the big Macy’s parade.

We did have one trip planned for today.  Wifey® found a small waterfall we had missed on our trip south on US276 on day 1.  We had to stop at Moore Cove since Moore is Wifey’s® maiden name. It’s not a very big waterfall, so the trek up to the top was easy.

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Not named for Wifey’s family (as far as we know)

 

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A smaller waterfall, but still very pretty

On the way down, we took a couple of side paths to see how the stream, or river, whatever the falls flow into traverse the area. Took Wifey’s® picture at a big rock on the way down.

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It takes years of practice to get your subject to stand just right so her face is in the shadow of a tree. I suck as a photographer.

The river that flows from the falls must join with another water source, as it is, to me at least, at “river” size now. It’s not very deep, which most of these fast flowing bodies of water aren’t, and it moves quite fast.  This picture is under the bridge at the bottom of the falls area.  We were quite intrigued with the lawn jockey.  Who put it there and why, and where are the missing body parts?

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Mysterious lawn jockey, or at least what’s left of him

 

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US276 bridge, you can just see the lawn jockey under the bridge.

As that was all we had planned for the day, we went home to have, as Arlo Gutherie said; “A Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat.” (See Arlo’s “Alice’s Restaurant”).  We started off with some shrimp sautéed in white wine and garlic, with a little chipotle thrown in as well.  We had purchased the shrimp at a local grocery store several days before.  The sign said “Fresh Carolina Shrimp”.  We wondered where the shrimp were harvested, were they wild caught in the ocean and trucked in or farm raised? Unfortunately, the girl at the counter had no clue. But it didn’t matter we bought them anyway.

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Fresh Carolina Shrimp?

Unlike last years Thanksgiving (a cruise with only a few pieces of overcooked sliced turkey on the buffet), this year we made our own feast. We had a small turkey breast that we roasted, sweet potatoes, asparagus with mushrooms, garlic, onions, and bacon, and cheddar garlic biscuits. We also had our leftover chocolate bourbon pecan pie and banana pudding from Haywoods Smokehouse we didn’t eat from the night before for dessert.  But as usual, we forgot about dessert when we were done. (More on this with day 5).

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Thanksgiving feast for two

There was nothing left to do on this day. So after we cleaned up the kitchen, we just hung out at the cabin.

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Looking west off the deck towards the sunset.

So that’s all for day four.  A little bit of rest for us, because tomorrow we’re climbing Chimney Rock!

Stay tuned for day 5!  And please leave a comment. Let me know if you’re enjoying the series, or if want more information about any of the places we went.

Peace,
B

Paleo Shrimp, Avocado & Cilantro Salad

One of the best aspects of living in Florida (as opposed to Floriduh where the idiots roam), is the abundance of fresh seafood. We get Gulf Shrimp daily, Atlantic reef fish like Snapper and Grouper almost on every street corner.  Daytona doesn’t have quite the fresh variety that we had growing up in Miami, but the pickings are still good.

We also have a plethora of Avocados. I have to admit that as a child I detested Avocados. I referred to guacamole as “baby poop”. Funny story; the first time I had dinner with my now wife’s family her mom asked if wanted any “pear”.  Being a fan of the Bartlett Pear, I said sure. She handed me a rather large slice of Avocado. That’s not a pear I said. Sue it is, she replied, it’s an alligator pear! I had never heard of an alligator pear and handed it back since I knew it was just an Avocado by a different name. When I told her I didn’t care for Avocados she came back with her usual reply; Have you ever tried them? Mom’s rule was that you had to try something before you said you didn’t like it.  I assured I had tried it before, so she left me alone.

Which brings me to a wonderful recipe my Twitter friend Shane Organ  (@iamshaneorgan) posted just the other day. A very interesting Paleo Shrimp & Avocado salad.  I have come to tolerate Avocados recently mainly for the health benefits.

Here is the original recipe:

Shrimp Salad with Avocado and Cilantro
Ingredients
Cilantro Dressing/Marinade
• 3 tbs fresh Lime Juice
• 2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1/2 – 3/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped ( I like a bit more cilantro)
• 1/8 tsp fresh cracked Pepper
• pinch salt to taste
Salad
• 1 lb cooked chilled shrimp deveined/ tail removed
• 2 ripe avocados
• 2 cups baby spinach
• 2 cups chopped lettuce of your choice
Servings: servings
Instructions
Cilantro Dressing/Marinade
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix.
Salad
1. Drain any excess water off shrimp if using thawed shrimp.
2. Pour cilantro dressing over shrimp. Stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (2 or 3 is better).
3. Wash and dry lettuce (use a Salad Spinner or just let it sit in a strainer). Divide among plates.
4. Cut avocado into bite-size wedges (about 1/2 inch cubes work well too). Sprinkle over lettuce.
5. Add marinated shrimp to the top.
6. Top with marinated shrimp and leftover dressing. Enjoy!

As usual, we changed it up a bit. Instead of using bland, rubbery, pre-cooked shrimp (Shane is in Canada after all. I would imagine it’s hard to get fresh shrimp.) I took about a pound of freshly cleaned and peeled shrimp with about 1/2 TBSP (I don’t measure anything, it’s all eyeballed) of Badia Chile & Lime seasoning, 1 TBSP of Lemon Pepper and 2 tsp of Seasoned Salt. Seasoned up the shrimp and let sit for about 5 minutes, then sautéed them over medium heat in about 1 TBSP of Ghee.  Then mixed the dressing/marinade as above with the shrimp and threw it all in the fridge to cool down.  Then off to the gym we went.

When we came home we assembled the salad as described and chowed down.  Even had enough left over so that Wifey® and I have lunch for today. And let me tell you, it’s an awesome dish!  Thanks Shane.

Peace,
B

(Shane can found on Twitter as noted above and his website: http://www.shaneorgannutrition.com/)

News You Can Use… No Not Really

Found this interesting headline yesterday; ‘Truck With 20 Tons Of Nutella And Chocolate Vanishes; Police Hunt For Semi’s Sweets”.  I thought it very clever, so I had to read the article. This link is from NPR, I also saw that AP picked it up, but I’ve misplaced that link. My favorite quote from the article;

“Anyone offered large quantities [of chocolate] via unconventional channels should report it to the police immediately.”

I can imagine some shady character standing on a dimly lit street corner saying to passerby’s; “Psst.. Buddy wanna buy a kilo or two of Nutella? It’s fresh, never been stepped on. You know you do.  Come on give it a try, the first one’s free!”

But then maybe growing up in Miami in the 60’s and 70’s has warped my perceptions a bit.


I’ve been looking for some more light-hearted news, but with all that’s been going on as of late, they’re hard to come by.  So I’ll leave you with this video, hopefully it will bring a smile to your face.

Peace,
B

Killing Lunch Time (or is it killing me?)

Sitting here at my desk, my meager lunch finished and music blaring in my headphones.

As I’ve posted before, my wife and I have been trying the Paleo and/or Keto eating plans.  Seems that my body does not care for either one.  The highest my blood pressure has been since starting these is 94/62. Basically I should be in a coma. My blood sugar has dropped extremely low, and the A-Fib has returned. So obviously, I am stopping the plan. We did learn somethings we will carry forward such as limiting our carbs to a greater extent. As I also have a cholesterol problem, and keto is known to elevate cholesterol, my doctor also advised me to stop.

Part 2:

Not the best day at work I have to admit. When I was promoted to this position it was for two main projects. Both of which have been pretty much stopped cold. Our city commission has cut about $780K from the city budget for next year, with a chance that it could go deeper still. This means that while my main project is funded for this year, as of October 1st, it may not be. So phase two (not to mention phase three) may not go. And with the issues we are having with phase one, it may get canceled even sooner. If the council cuts the budget ever deeper, there is a possibility that lay offs could occur. So I am rather concerned about my job future.

And of course with all this going on, the Bi-Polar depression is in high swing.  The usual visual and auditory hallucinations are going full blast.  Like Jackson Browne says in “For A Dancer”;

“It’s like a song playing right in my ear that I can’t sing, I can’t help listening.”

Things move in and out of the peripheral of my vision, thumps and whines in my ear all the time.  Hence the headphones.  At least then I know what I’m listening to and I can shut out the world for a short time.

Hopefully tonight’s gym time will work it all out.  Or I’ll die.  Either is acceptable.

Peace,
B

 

Keto Cookbooks – FREE!

So I went “shopping” on Amazon the other day and found four free keto cookbooks.  Thought I’d share them.  I have not tested any recipes out of these yet, but plan on it this weekend during our “cookup”.  Please note that these books may no longer be free, I didn’t check the date to see if was a daily special.

The Keto Crockpot: 100 Simple And Delicious Ketogenic Crock Pot Recipes To Help You Lose Weight Fast

Ketogenic Diet: Recipes That Melt Your Tongue(Ketogenic Cookbook,Ketogenic Diet Recipes,Ketogenic Diet Cookbook, Ketogenic Diet Books, Keto Diet For Beginners)

Ketogenic Fat Bomb Recipes: A Ketogenic Cookbook with 20 Paleo Ketogenic Recipes For Fast Weight Loss

7-Day Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan: Delicious and Easy Keto Recipes To Burn Fat and Gain Energy

Not all recipes in these books may fall under a “strict” keto eating plan, as some are too high in carbs. But that doesn’t mean they don’t make a good transition to a more strict keto regimen. I am not limiting myself to just 20g of carbs a day yet.  Right now I’m closer to 50g per day, working myself (and my wife) down from a much higher daily intake.  We’re trying to avoid the “Keto Flu”.

Check them out if you’d like. After all if you get one idea or recipe from a free book, it’s money well spent!

Peace,
B