Saturday, June 30, 2007

Garlic Basil Shrimp with Rotini Pasta and Mushrooms

Wow! Another excellent recipe from the Chris Falco Kitchens. And, can you believe it, a recipe that DOES NOT USE RED MONKEY SPICE! I am as shocked and flabbergasted as the rest of you!

Note however, that while this recipes does not use the aforementioned spice, it does use just a spoonful of Sambal Oelek for zest, but, it is not at all hot to the palate. My daughter and I made it this evening and it was delicious!

Be advised that I will soon post a grilled shrimp recipe that I enjoyed last evening, but, I need to tweak the honey cream dill sauce first. That recipe DOES use Red Monkey Spice!

Chris Falco's Garlic Basil Shrimp with Rotini Pasta and Mushrooms

Serves Four
Preparation time: 20 minutes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, sliced or flattened
1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek
3 tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms
1 pound Jumbo Shrimp, tails removed
8 ounces of Dreamfiled Rotini Pasta

Place pot of water to boil for pasta. Spray one frying pan with Pam Olive Oil no-stick spray and place over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, stirring every couple of minutes until mushrooms are lightly browned. Remove from heat and leave covered. As soon as water is boiling add pasta and cook for 11 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

While pasta and mushrooms are cooking add to another frying pan the olive oil, basil (which should be torn or chopped into small pieces), and garlic. Cook over medium high heat until garlic begins to lightly brown and add shrimp, stirring frequently until they are just lightly browned.

Add Sambal Oelek and reduce heat to low and cover for about 5 minutes. Pour in mushrooms from first frying pan. Add tomato paste and stir well, if there is not enough moisture in the pan to form a thick sauce add a few tablespoons of water.

Drain pasta, mix in with shrimp and mushrooms, and serve with your favorite Parmesan or Romano cheese grated on top.

Extra Kid Time is good...and bad

The kids have been here two extra nights now; the X had to go back to the doctor's and back to the hospital Friday, most likely related to her trip a few weeks back. It looks like something is making her hormones go all off the charts.

I worry about her, for years she had been telling me about how important her job, her Dream job as she puts it is to her, and it seems it is doing nothing but aggravate her and causing her to spend most waking moments dealing with the business.

It's rough when you love someone and see them going through bad times. I help where I can and where she let me, and she knows I am her for her if she needs me; what more can I do?? I wish I could do more!!!

Sleep, as elusive as it was last night, will be undoubtedly be even harder for me to find again this evening I am sure. I've been up since 5 AM, and it's after 11PM now. I am physically tired but my mind is going in circles, and as Montgomery Scott once said "and at Warp 8 it's going nowhere mighty fast!"

Everyone saw a prayer to the man upstairs that she will soon be over this!


Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Right Stuff (Food for thought!)

I am sure you have heard sayings like "All Aspirin Is Not Alike", "You Get What You Pay For", Accept No Imitations!", and, "The Right Stuff". After I describe what happened yesterday below, you'll understand why today I have new respect for these.

Regular visitors will know I have been mentioning Red Monkey Spice and jarred chopped chili peppers in some of my recent recipes. For the Red Monkey Spice I have posted the link where you can order it.

First off, the jarred chili peppers are called Sambal Oelek and I use the ones distributed by Conimex, a place in Holland and I learned a valuable lesson about them! I had gotten them at Forest Hills Foods (though they have been out of stock for over a week).

So, yesterday I went to the big Miejer store to look. You could easily fit six Forest Hills Foods into this place and their international food selection is almost as big as the aforementioned store. Sadly, I did not find the Conimex brand but found some oriental brand that looked the same.

Happy and Giddy with my (seeming) success I brought them home and made dinner, only to find much to my surprise that they were nowhere as good as the Conimex brand. Where the Conimex has such a myriad of incredible flavors to it while being very spicy, the oriental brand was just pure tasteless heat. Bleech! Were it not for the liberal application of Red Monkey Spice to my dinner last night, the flames shooting out of my mouth would have been pointless, though no less entertaining to the children I suppose!

Needless to say, though obviously I will say it, I was most disappointed! I have just sent an e-mail to Forest Hills Foods asking them to restock the Conimex Sambal Oelek. buying it locally would be much more economical than mail ordering it here, though, I will mail order it if I have to. This stuff is like the Nectar of the Gods as far as spicy foods go!

I have seen the Grail! I will never again be fooled by imitators! The following picture is what you must seek if you wish to truly enjoy any of my recipes that use this as an ingredient! You must! (Oh, add a little freshly squeezed lime juice and some fresh chopped cilantro and this makes an awesome salsa perfect for dipping tortilla chips into!)

Spicy Nectar of the Gods!

Monday, June 25, 2007

August Trip To New Jersey Planned

Scott, Danielle, and I will be East Coast Bound in August!!

Baring accidents (such as possibly losing my Job) I plan on traveling to New Jersey for the week starting Saturday August 17th with Scott and Danielle. We'll be staying in Millington with my brother and sister in law.

Any of my NJ area friends that might like to get together, even if it's just to meet for dinner somewhere, let me know and I'll try and set something up.

Here's where Millington is if you do not know

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Recipe - Spicy Stuffed Cheeseburger Roll Ups

Spicy Stuffed Cheeseburger Roll Ups - Serves Two

This evening I was wondering what to do with my Red Monkey Spice Rubs when I fondly remembered my recipe for Spicy Cheeseburger Roll Ups. After pondering these for awhile I decided I could certainly improve on this with my creation called Spicy Stuffed Cheeseburger Roll Ups.

1 pound 92% ground beef
1/2 teaspoon Red Monkey Spice Rub - Cajun Spice
1/2 teaspoon Red Monkey Spice Rub - BBQ Spice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons jarred chopped chili peppers (Sambal Oelek)
2 ounces Shredded Chipotle Cheddar Cheese (I used Sargento)
2 Flat Out lite Original Flat breads
1 cup Shredded lettuce
4 thin slices white onion
6 slices vine ripened tomato
2 tablespoons Fat Free Miracle Whip

Preheat your grill (I used a propane grill) to 550 degrees.
Mix first four ingredients together. Split ground beef mixture into four parts and make four thin patties. Note a large lid can be used as a template, though I did it by hand.

On two of the patties put a tablespoon of the chopped chili peppers and spread leaving at least an 1\8th of an inch all around the edge of the patty free of the mixture. If you do not do this the burgers will fall apart or leak while they are being cooked.

Next, again keeping the edges clean, add 1 ounce of cheddar cheese to each of the two patties on top of the chopped chili peppers.

Place the other two patties carefully on top of these patties. Press firmly around the edges to seal. Spray tops with non-fat cooking spray (such as PAM) and put the oil side down on the grill.

Cook three minutes, turn, and cook an additional two minutes. Remove from grill.

I placed half each of the lettuce, onion, tomato and Fat Free Miracle Whip on the two flat breads along with a burger. ENJOY!!!!

Note that this is, even with the whole cheese, still an excellent low calorie, low carbohydrate, and high fiber meal. It is also spicy and delicious.

Why does Chris love the Red Monkey Spice?

Why does Chris Love Red Monkey Spice? Hot Peppers, Hot Sauces? All things firey?? Did I mention I love Red Monkey Spice Rubs????

Well, for those who did not know I used to model print adds and baby products when I was quite younger. Below is a picture from one of those early ads where, years later, they are still using my picture on the jar!

I consumed many jars of this fine product during those early years!

You may click the picture for a larger version in a new window!

Ghost Rider and Exercise Bike Rider

Last evening the kids and I watched Ghost Rider. Being a big comic book fan I just had to. I was quite pleased, it was campy, funny, dramatic all in one movie and we really enjoyed it a lot.

I also did a second workout on the exercise bike for a total of two and a half hours yesterday across two workouts.

The younger kids were up until just past midnight, I went to bed around two after finally connecting my new Book Drive to the Z556 in the living room along with my Zune player, which at first did NOT want to be detected! The Zune is often my companion on these long exercise bike rides that last forever but go nowhere! yesterday I listened to over two hours of music. This morning I read most of the time.

The book drive is great it automatically powers on and off with your PC and takes up very little space, and I got it for $122 at the local Best Buy (cheaper than mail order at the time then from other online stores I usually shop at. I am slowing adding backup tasks to move duplicates of my digital photos, MP3 music files, and video files to this device. This way they will exist on the PC downstairs in my office, and on the portable book drive up here. Whoo Hoo!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Recipe - Chris' Spicy Cheeseburger Rollups

Last night I used the last of the Chris-squared (the new name my son came up with) hot sauce he and I made last Friday by making spicy cheeseburger roll ups. For those wishing to try this recipe the link the post with the sauce recipe, which will open in a new window, can be found here.

1/8 teaspoon Red Monkey Spice Rub Cajun Spice
1/8 teaspoon Red Monkey Spice Rub BBQ Spice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound 92% Lean ground beef
1/2 cup finely diced onions
1/8 to 1/4 cup Chris Squared Hot Sauce
2 Original Light FlatOut flat bread roll ups
2 slices fat free Kraft Cheddar processed cheese
non-stick oil spray
1 cup shredded lettuce
6 slices vine ripened tomato
4 slices Clausen Hearty Garlic Dills
Your choice of condiments (mine are listed below)

In a bowl combine first 6 ingredients; chill for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes preheat your grilling surface to 550 degrees (I used a propane grill)

On each of the two flat beads place 1/2 cup shredded lettuce, 3 slices tomato, 2 slices garlic dills, 1 tablespoon fat-free Miracle Whip, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 teaspoon low-carb ketchup.

Remove the meat mixture from the fridge shaping it into one burger sized to one inch wider than the width of the flat bread.

Spray one side of burger with non-stick spray. Grill covered (oiled side down) for 3 minutes and flip, cook for a minute. top with cheese and cook until cheese is melted. Remove burger and cut in half lengthwise and place a half burger on each flat bread. Enjoy!

This is typical of a main meal for me; it is a lot of food, yet has little calories, about 650 for the whole shebang! Compare that to a Whopper or a Quarter Pounder with cheese. It is also QUITE delicious and has protein, fiber, and is low in carbohydrates and fat.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Link - Where to get Red Monkey

I have been talking about it so much I figured I should post a link as to where you can get the Red Monkey Spice Rubs!

Video of the Day

A favorite commercial of mine that came up in a discussion with a co-worker this morning is the Verizon wireless commercial with the ferret.

This one is safe for viewers of all ages, and you need the sound to truly enjoy it! Click the link below to open this in a new window.

Verizon Ferret Commercial

Feeling......kinda crappy these past few days

I do not know what has been wrong with me the past few days but I have been feeling tired and weak. Blood sugar is behaving the way it usually does and I don't feel sick or feverish. These past few days my after work exercise has become quite the chore, and my after dinner exercise bike a monumental effort that only my willpower to lose weight gets me through!

I hope this passes soon, it is very hard keeping up the exercise level while feeling like this, but thus far I have been.

Son of Hot Sauce

Last night my daughter and I used the majority of the left over spicy hot sauce my son Chris and I had made Friday evening. Sadly, as he was working (yes, working, the second day since last summer!) and had to meet a friend after work, he was unable to attend.

I took some frozen skinless chicken breast tenders and put them in a pan with some Red Monkey Cajun Spice rub, and then cut them in strips and finally tossed with hot sauce. We put them on LA Tortilla Company high fiber low carb tortillas, which are excellent!

Accompanying mine were shredded lettuce, diced tomato and fat free sour cream, while Daniele had lettuce and either buttermilk ranch or fat free sour cream. They were excellent!

There is still a quarter cup of the sauce left. Sadly, as Chris is right now having oral surgery, we would be unable to enjoy it before it goes bad. So, I will have to use it this evening! I am thinking of mixing it with some lean ground beef and chopped onions, and then making grilled spicy hamburger roll ups! Or cheeseburger roll ups with fat-free cheese. I may even add some Red Monkey BBQ Spice to the mix!

Monday, June 18, 2007

An OK Father's Day

I awoke around 7AM on Father's day. I was feeling very dizzy and my vision was very blurry, this did not dissuade me from going out and doing the father's day shopping and doing 75 minutes on the exercise bike which helped alleviate the aforementioned symptoms. I chopped up and seasoned onions and washed and seasoned mushrooms as well as cleaning 10 ears of corn on the cob. All were bagged separately. I got cleaned up, called my Dad to wish him a Happy Father's Day, and headed over to the X's after chatting with my Dad awhile.

As the X has not been feeling good this past week and was still in some pain, I had insisted on taking care of the shopping and cooking for Father's Day with the understanding that others would deal with the cleanup.

I began cooking the onions at the X's and then realized she did not have a pot big enough for 10 ears of corn. So, after the onions were at the right temperature I headed back to my house (none of the kids wanted to accompany me...sheesh!) and stopped at Forest Hills Foods for a few bottles of Diet Orange soda as there was nothing I wanted to drink at the X's.

After arriving back at X-Ville I poured a can of Baked Beans (whatever brand that has the talking dog that wants to divulge the secret recipe) into a pot to heat and continued cooking the mushrooms and onions. Around this time the kids noticed the house Internet was down so while i was cooking and saw, and into dinner and right after, I told my older boy what to do to try and resolve this.

As the huge pot of water for the corn on the cob was approaching aboil, I went out and lit the grill so it would preheat. Soon it was time to season the steaks and put them on the grill. I should open a restaurant as there were 8 steaks that had to be cooked different ways and three steaks that had to be seasoned in three different ways from the rest.

In spite of this I was soon serving perfectly seasoned and cooked to order steaks for the eight of us which included the X, myself, the three kids, the X's folks, and Cary, who has been 'away' for four years. This was the first steak dinner he had since departing and he enjoyed it and the sauteed mushrooms and onions greatly.

I had seasoned the above veggies with my 'Mexican' mix which is basically half taco powder, half hot chili powder plus some other spices I will NOT mention here! I also added some Red Monkey Mango HabaƱero seasoning too. The steaks, 8 luscious Delmonicos, (the majority of them) had the Montreal Seasoning , while one was unseasoned for Scott and two had additional spices added for Chris and I.

Dinner out of the way I ended up having to work on the Internet for the house (which I got working by reprogramming the router) and then the X's ancient PC which would not see the wireless access point. Finally that behind me, we sat around and chatted (while I played blackjack with Danielle, which later shifted to Go Fish! with her grandparents), when work called. They were having issues so I ended up going into the office for awhile, but, of course I had to run home and get my security badge first. And to think I joked about it being Father's Day and me having to work on computers and here I was going into work!

After resolving the work issue as the Mustang's "FEED ME NOW" light was on, I stopped and filled up at Costco for $2.95 a gallon, which is certainly much better than the $3.59 gas was going for around two weeks ago! I stopped back at the X's on my way back to get my Fathers Day card and pickup my seasonings and large pot.

I was disappointed as this was the first year my daughter Danielle did not make me anything for fathers day, she just signed a card their mom procured. Scott made me a very nice picture (shown below) and this pleased me greatly. When I left, Scott and Danielle came out to say goodbye, but, Chris was too engrossed on his computer....though I should not complain about this as he had let me give him a hug for Father's Day earlier....which for him is a biggie! I still can't help thinking how much I will miss him when he goes off to School July 12th.......sigh!

I headed home where I did another 62 minutes on the exercise bike. After I cooled down and showered I headed out to the store as it was about six hours I headed back to the store and picked up some fat-free bologna, some cold pickle slices and some bananas for work. Arriving back home I made a couple of bologna roll ups with fat-free Miracle Whip and pickle slices, watched some TV, and headed to bed around midnight. The high point of the day after arriving home from the X's was talking to my brother who called to wish me a Happy Father's Day.

The Picture Scott made for me

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Zen, Pain, and Exercise

After yesterday's record breaking exercise bike ride of one hour thirty five minutes and 15.5 miles, I figured today I would try and do at least that much since my daughter, the X, and I will be going to see "Fish and Visitors" tonight at the Historic Kent Theatre in Cedar Springs, and this means I won't be doing a second workout later.

I surprised myself and pushed myself a little bit and ended up breaking yesterdays record with a new one of one hour and fifty minutes and 17 miles. I was quite pleased and impressed and woozy and dizzy! :) I spent about 50 minutes reading on of my Deathlands books, 20 listening to music and the rest watching TV.

Oh! For the Zen aspect so the following picture. Looks kind of Zen-ish to me and is a shot of my old neighborhood on a very strangely lit afternoon when the sky was actually this color.

Click Here to open a bigger version in a new window

Time to head off to the store; while the X and the kids will be dining on delicious Vitales Pizza before we leave for the show, I must get myself something to make rollups out of, maybe some nice roast beef today! We shall see. Perhaps I shall wear my new scrubs and see if I get any reactionout of the store staff or patrons.

Attack of the Hot Sauce!

I had one of those nights last night where I just could not sleep; perhaps it was because I over-exercised last night breaking my previous hour and 20 minute workout on the exercise bike with a new record of an hour and 35 minutes. perhaps I just had a lot on my subconscious..... Anyway, as I was feeling that way and did not have to worry about work this morning I decided to just stay up! Since we had eaten the Hot Wings (Story below this post) around 4:30PM I was hungry, so, around 1AM I noticed (or perhaps heard it calling me) the left-over hot sauce my son Chris and I had made.

I took some boneless skinless chicken breast strips and put them in a pan with some of the Cajun spice seasoning and then when they were nearly cooked I thinly sliced them and spooned in some of the left over sauce and simmered about 10 minutes.

I put the chicken on a couple of low fat low carb tortillas from La Tortilla Company with some shredded lettuce, fat-free sour cream and a couple more tablespoons of the hot sauce.

It was awesome! In its own way as good as the hot wings we had enjoyed earlier in the day! And on a positive note there is still some left! By around 3AM I began feeling a bit sleep so I retired around 3:30AM, awoke at 7, took one look at the clock and went back to sleep until 10!

I just filled out a form to send email to Throwdown, telling them what a good time Chris and I had together yesterday making the hot wings. I just had to thank them, because the time we spent together was priceless. More like two friends collaborating in the kitchen .vs. father and was great!

On a footnote here, I have often spent years perfecting different recipes, my son and I were remarking yesterday how spot-on this sauce was; it will be hard to improve it....but I am thinking adding some Tabasco sauce and a bit more honey....we shall see..... of yesterday's episodes of Good Eats was about ribs......Chris and I both remarked we should make some ribs before he goes off to college.......we shall see.......

Friday, June 15, 2007

Chris Squared Worlds Best Baked Hot Wings

Last night I recorded one of Bobby Flay's Throwdown episodes. If you have never seen this show, world famous chef Bobby Flay and the Food Network setup up the recognized expert for any given food into thinking they are doing a special on that person, and, at the last minute Bobby Flay shows up to challenge them.

Last nights food was Buffalo Wings, so, considering how much my son Chris and I love these I could not watch it without him. He came home around 10PM and we watched, and by the time it was over we both wanted to go out looking for wings!

Anyway, I decided that today I would make some wings using some of the methods Bobby Flay used. So, after I came home from work and exercised, I spent last three hours with my 18 year old son Chris. We went out shopping for ingredients and made the most AWESOME hot wings. We both agreed they were the best we have ever had. For him to think so for wings that were baked and not deep fried, well, that is really something! With my diet I just will not do fried foods!

As we sat down to dig in we noted they were perfectly cooked, fiery and spicy, but not overpoweringly so, with a hint of sweet and a touch of tangy, they were just incredible. Good thing I only made enough for the three of us (my 15 year old son would get woozy just looking at the sauce) or I would have eaten a lot more. I did not have any ranch dressing with mine, and the sauce was very low in calories.

Both my son and I could not believe my daughter Danielle ate these, with gusto, and is still alive! The best part of this was spending three hours with my son, doing something we both really enjoyed. Such times are rare, particularly as the kids grow older........

Here's a picture of the wings followed by how to make them:

The Chicken:
30 chicken wings, tips removed
Red Monkey Cajun Spice Rub
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Sea Salt
Chris' Mexican spice (I make this out of half taco powder, half spicy chili powder mixed together)
butter flavor non-stick spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom of two glass rectangular Pyrex baking disks with non- stick spray. Place chicken wings in single layer in the bottom. Sprinkle lightly with all above ingredients, turn over and do the same to other side omitting the salt. Lightly spray surface of chicken with non-stick butter flavored spray.

Bake chicken for 10 minutes, remove and turn all pieces over and bake and additional 10 minutes. Start sauce preparation below. Once again turn the chicken over and Bake an additional 10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and increase temperature to 500 degrees. Allow over to come to temperature and cook chicken for another 5 minutes. Remove, let cool for five minutes and toss generously with hot sauce. Serve with either Buttermilk Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing. ENJOY!

The Chris Squared Hot Wing sauce:
1 Cup Franks Buffalo Wing Sauce
1 1/4 cup Franks Hot Sauce
1 half cup jarred chopped chili peppers (Samball Oelek)
6 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbs and 1 tsp honey

Combine and mix well the above ingredients into a large Pyrex measuring cup. Let sauce sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and then refrigerate until chicken is ready for the sauce.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hey Uncle George!

Dad told me today that you read and enjoy the blog, so, I thought I would take a quick moment and say Hey and thanks! Hope you and yours are well!

11 Weeks on the "Diet or Die!" diet

Last Thursday was 11 weeks on the "Diet or Die!" diet. I've lost 37 pounds thus far. Yesterday and Today I put in over four hours on four workouts on the exercise bike. When I started this, I could barely do 10 minutes on resistance setting four. Today I did a 62 minute workout with 54 minutes on resistance setting five and two minutes at resistance setting 6. I am making progress, but, it is amazing how much work it takes to get the pounds off!

Still have a fair amount of dizziness and woozy feelings, but, over all I see definite improvement in the overall way I feel. 63 pounds to go to make good on my promise to drop 100 pounds. At that point I will re-evaluate where I am and how I look, I feel i will need to go another 20-40 pounds after that, but, that is a thought for another day!

The Visit of Rick and Camille

This post chronicles the visit of my brother and his wife from Sunday May 20th through Thursday May 24th, and starts May 18th, the Friday before they arrived:

I spent Friday after work, all day Saturday, and part of Sunday preparing for Rick (my brother) and Camille's (My sister in law....though we think of each other as bother and sister) visit. I did a 'spring cleaning' which on both floors of the house, plus I had to pick up things like towels and bed linens because we have never had overnight guests before other than the kids friends for a sleep over, and I was not going to ask Rick and Camille to sleep in sleeping bags.

Saturday I also took the Mustang for an oil change which ended up costing me $250, because, not only did the oil need changing but the transmission fluid was showing signs of becoming oxidized, and the rear differential needed to be taken care of. For the transmission they flush the transmission and the cooling element in the radiator with several gallons of cleaner and then refill and test for leaks, and for the rear end, since for the mustang it should be done every 3000 miles with regular fluid or 100,000 with synthetic. Since the cost is $40/$80 for each option I chose the synthetic since in the long term in will save me some significant $$$. They also gave me all the extra options for a car wash. Woooo! Spend $250 get $9 in upgrades to a basic car wash!

Anyway, by Sunday afternoon I had the futon made up, plenty of towels and washcloths in the closet, the place cleaned and shined within an inch of it's life, and I was ready to go pick them.

I was however delayed in this when I saw that their flight was delayed. A quick call to my brother's cell confirmed this. I called the rent a car place to inform them I would be late and then ended up heading over there around 5:30PM instead of 4:30 as I had originally planned. I parked the Mustang in short term parking and went in and picked up the key to my rental car. I then sat over in the gate area watching the status on their flight. I waited until they deplaned and, standing around the corner fell into step behind them while they were busy looking for me in front of them. I appeared between the two of them, and we hugged and made greetings. After getting their luggage (and me receiving a cooler with three nice sized Taylor Hams!!!), we headed out to the rental car. We looped around the airport re-entering so I could drop my brother off by the Mustang. We headed out, I had only been in there a couple of minutes so did not have to pay which was a nice surprise. Camille and I chatted on the way and also noticed that my brother appeared to be having way way too much fun driving my car! I could see him drumming on the steering wheel and a big grin on his face. We headed for the grocery store making a quick pit stop at the X's house to say hi to her, Scott, and Danielle, and then picked up a few items and headed back to the house. We had the 50 cent tour of my extensive estate (ha ha ha) and then decided we were all famished.

I had picked up Delmonico steaks that morning so we grilled those after rubbing them with the Montreal steak seasoning and had corn on the cob and a nice salad. We sat around watching TV and chatting, and my brother and I stayed up a bit later (as we did every night) watching M*A*S*H reruns)

Monday morning I arose before my House guests and, knowing we would be out late for graduation, did my first 60 minute work out on the exercise bike. As Chris' graduation is covered in another post I won't detail it here...though I will mention when Scott and Danielle arrived home from school there was much hugging, happiness, etc! We talked watched some TV together and then got ready to head for graduation.

Tuesday after I took Scott and Danielle to school Rick, Camille, and I took a ride to a place called Chic which is a school for hair stylists, etc. Camille has often gone to places like this to get deep discounts on things like facials where they charge you a fraction of the price. Of course one must remember that these are students, so, ANYTHING can happen! :) It was going to take about an hour, so Rick and I parked by a strip mall with an Odd Lots and went in and shopped around. We then walked across the large parking lot, crossed the main road, and checked out Radio Shack where I was looking at HD TV indoor antennas. We then walked up the street and noticed a music store. We went in and Rick picked out some guitar picks for Scott which I bought. Rick had helped Scott tune his guitar using this portable tuner I had bought him. He also wrote down some chording instructions and diagrams for Scott. After that we crossed the road again, this time at the light, and went into Walgreen's where I picked up a small portable fan for $9 (to be used while riding the exercise bike) and a pair of blue blocked sunglasses for me. The day outside was so sunny I was getting a headache. Rick marveled at the effect of the glasses, which, do not some much decrease the amount of light you see (unlike regular sunglasses which darken everything) but filter out the blue annoying spectrum of light. he was most impressed. We drank the soda's Rick had bought for us at Walgreen's and enjoyed each others company. It was SO GREAT having my brother around as we walked and talked of many things. I really have missed him these past two years and I know he felt the same. We would often tell each other "It's great to be here" "It's great to have you here", it was really nice!

We walked back to the car, dropped of the packages and were starting a walk to a health food store we saw in the distance when my cell phone rang. It was Camille, so we went back and got her and headed back. We decided to drive over to the store we had started walking to, only to discover that it, like a number of other store sin this area, had closed. We headed back home, stopping again at Forest Hills Foods for some supplies, and had cold-cut roll ups for lunch. We watched a Quincy while the kid splayed downstairs and then I called Christopher (who was at his mom's house because school ended for him on the 15th) and we headed off to Steak and Shake, with Rick following me in the Mustang. Steak and Shake was good, but the amount of food I could eat there for the calories/carbs I had for dinner was very unsatisfying .vs. the fact I could have made two nice size roll ups at home, but, it was nice being out with Rick, Camille, and the kids. Chris went back to his Mom's house afterwards much to the disappointment of myself and R & C. We all watched a Simpson's and some Scrubs before eventually retiring.

Wednesday I let Scott and Danielle take the day off and we all went to the John Ball Zoo and had a great time. A few pictures are shown below.

Wednesday night the X took us all out to dinner at and her parents attended as well. The kids then headed back over to her house afterwards. I was talking to Danielle who was waiting outside after dinner was over and the adults were talking; her brothers had gone into Gamestop next door and she was all sad looking. I correctly guessed that she was upset because she was going to miss Rick and Camille a lot. The kids went back to their Mom's house afterwards.

Thursday sucked; I had to take Rick and Camille to the airport which was depressing beyond the telling of it! Not to mention, a couple of hours after dropping off the rental car I get a message from Enterprise saying that there was a ding in the rear bumper though I walked all around the car before taking the keys in and saw nothing. Evidently the paperwork I signed waived my rights to dispute any claims of damage discovered after I park it and someone actually gets a chance to go look at it. After dropping them off, and some sad farewells, I headed into the office.

The weekend thus far

Friday night Chris was off at open houses for his school friends so after the post-work exercise bike ride I took Scott and Danielle to Wendy's for dinner and we stopped at the video store, where I picked up Night at the Museum to rent (for free as they had called to say, we miss you, come have a free rental!), and I picked up three previously viewed DVDs for $20 as well.

We headed back to the X's house where I dropped off the kids so they could get their stuff together for the week. This is the first week of the summer where I have the kids, I love this time! A whole week where I feel like I am part of a family!

I headed over to Forest Hills Foods to pickup a few items and something for my dinner (I ended up having bologna roll ups with lettuce, tomato, and fat-free Miracle Whip as I was too lazy to cook for one....) and then II picked them up and we headed back to my house.

We watched Night of the Museum, very enjoyable and then they played awhile. Chris was back at 8PM but opted out of the movie stating he had already seen it a few times.

Saturday Danielle and i headed out to the movies to see Shrek 3 (an excellent new chapter in the continuing story) and after the movie I got Scott a replacement pedal for his bike; the other had come off while he had been riding and luckily he just had the wind knocked out of him when he fell! We headed home, and I road the exercise bike for a new record of one hour and 20 minutes, an hour of that at the higher tension I have been slowly working myself up to over the past month.

Around 4 the three of us (Chris was off at more open houses) headed to Meijer to get some soda and other supplies, and then after dropping the kids and groceries here I went back to Forest Hills foods to get some steaks. They had a family pack of three awesomely lean Delmonico streaks for $15, so that and corn on the cob made up our dinner. I alternated between getting dinner ready and fixing Scott's bike. It was a pain, not only had the thread on the pedal stripped but the hole in goes into was also partially stripped. It took 10 minutes just to get it to a point where it started to go in, then I ended up having to use a box wrench with a three foot pipe on the end of extra leverage. 20 sweat-soaked minutes later the pedal was fully in, and I think it is safe to assume that is is NEVER coming out. It must have been a good repair because Scott said the bike was fine when he returned home later. We ended up watching one of the used DVDs (Happily never After) I had bought, and after the kids went to bed around 10:30 I ended up IM'ing on my office PC and doing some homework until a bit after midnight when I heard Chris arrive. I headed to bed around 12:30AM.

Sunday - After lolling around in bed until 9AM or so, I followed awakening with a mere hour on the exercise bike this morning, and then we headed over to the X's for her fathers 73rd birthday. I like the X's parents, they still have me call them Mom and Dad and I love them a lot. There was assorted grilled chicken (mine seasoned with Red Monkey rubs, salad, and corn on the cob. Chris has left before dinner because he had more open houses to go to. he also forgot his work shirt and boots even after his mom reminded him a couple of times to take them. As he never found a job, she is putting him to work doing deck demolition tomorrow. That will teach him he should have gotten a nice comfortable indoor job!

After dinner Mom, Dad, the X, and I ended up watching Chris' Open House DVD, Mom and Dad seemed to really enjoy it.

We then sang Happy Birthday to Dad, and I enjoyed a glass of diet orange soda while everyone else tucked into multiple servings of this delicious looking strawberry shortcake Mom had made. It would have been nice to have a piece, but, what can you do. For the millionth or so time I realized that this was my fault, and instead of feeling sorry for myself I just used this to help steel my resolve to continue with the diet plan.

We departed and stopped at Forest Hills Foods to get some additional items. I spent about half an hour cleaning up the house a bit. It seems to get messy so quickly when the kids are here! Scott departed on his bicycle around 4:45 for his girl friend Emma's house, and Mom and Dad arrived shortly thereafter. Mom had asked if I could burn a CD with some wedding pictures she had shot at their neighbor's. I did that, we watched a slideshow of those pictures and the ones from our trip to John Ball Zoo when my brother was out They just departed after we all tried the Weight Watchers Toffee Ice Cream bars I had bought. I a bit I will do my second exercise bike ride of the day. As I have work tomorrow, Scott and Danielle will be going to bed earlier this evening.

Footnote here, I ended up spending another hour working on the post of Rick and Camille's visit. it was fun adding the five pictures and then manually editing the html so every was aligned and justified right! Been working on that post on and off for about 2 weeks now, finally got it done!

Sprain Part Deux

Well, the $$$ light on the Mustang ended up costing me $262 for a sensor. Most of that was labor as they had to remove most of the emission control stuff to get out of it. I also got my engine control computer upgraded.

That's $500+ for the Mustang in the last few weeks, I hope he behaves himself for awhile!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sprain in the Wallet

Yesterday I had a company called Handyman Matters come in and install a temperature controlled fan in my attic. It gets very hot up there int he summer and I theorize that since I can run a fan through the rest of the house on the summer nights when it is much cooler, and the inside of the house stays uncomfortably warm. So, considering that the attic is well insulated it makes sense it would hold the heat at night. $500 later (which was $120 than the low end of their estimate) the fan is in place, and I will check its affects today as the temperature is supposed to hit 90 which means the attic will be around 120 or more. They even installed a cutoff switch so if I am away on vacation I can turn it totally off.

So, here I was thinking Ohhh! I have some spare money! The phone rings and it's enterprise rent a car. When I had dropped off the car I rented when Rick and Camille visited late last month, I had checked the car and it was fine. Well, it sat there in the airport parking lot for well over an hour before they checked it and they said there was a small dent in the back. I KNOW this was NOT there when I dropped off the car, but, evidently my signature on the form when I turned it makes me responsible since they did not have anyone free to check the car. The dame for this is going to set me back around $311 and I am not pleased!

As I was pondering that on my way home from the grocery store, I got another surprise. As I pulled into the garage, the $$$$ light came on! The $$$$ light, or Service Engine Soon light has always been the to the cost of several hundred dollars on any Ford I have owned. So, my wallet is very sprained this month and it is early in the month yet! I have been trying to put some extra $$$ away just in case I lose my job now that GE has bought us; sigh!

The Mustang has an appointment with Ford tomorrow, we shall see what this brings.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Public Service Announcement

And now we bring you a Public Service Announcement; smoking is bad for your health as shown by the 15 year old picture of me below:

Living in a Fantasy (From Now On)

Well, we're into day 5 of scanning and retouching pictures for my son's graduation open house tomorrow. I find myself getting misty-eyed, and sad, because since the first time after the divorce, I am, once again, in possession of the family photo albums. So many pictures of the X and I, and the kids and us as a family. If my older son knew how hard it has been doing this for him, though I would never tell him...because I love him so is a small price to pay to do something for him

Supertramp has a song entitled "From Now On". One of my favorite songs and it came on while I was scanning old pictures. The chorus, which at some times I can really identify with goes:

Guess I'll always have to be
Living in a fantasy
That's the way it's got to be
From now on

And it just happened to play as I was scanning the following picture (one of the ones my son wanted in his video presentation). I think it's a perfect fantasy to live least for the rest of the day anyway......

Friday, June 01, 2007

Chris in Space

For the past few days I have been going through many old photo albums from the birth of my 18 year old to compile a video slide show DVD for his graduation open house this Sunday. I have spent many long hours on this task!

I came across an old picture of me at work that I thought I would share with everyone from about 15 years ago.