Saturday, August 23, 2008

In New Jersey

We made the trip in 11.5 hours which is not too bad.

Scott, Danielle, and I will be going out shopping for a laptop for Camille in a bit, while my brother goes to play a gig with his band Crash Cart.

This is a short post as I am using my iPod touch to post it

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shocked on Sunday

Sunday the X, Danielle, Scott, and I went to dinner at Braun's. It's a decent steak place and I had my free 8 ounce sirloin sizzler coupon I obtained last September 7th on my birthday. Scott had a 18 ounce prime rib and Danielle and the X shared a ribs and chicken combo.

Afterwards we drove out near the lake to look at some used cars for Scott. To make a long story short we'll keep looking for now.

Later, the X and I were standing outside my house, and I was telling her how weird the weekends were since every weekend I wanted to call my dad. Yesterday was three weeks now since4 his passed away, and I still can't believe it, and the urge to pickup the phone and call him is very strong.

Suddenly a black car screeched up to the curb, and my dad got out. He walked over to me and said he did not like being dead so he came back. He gave me a hug and I sobbed uncontrollably telling him how much I loved him and apologizing for anything wrong I had done as kid.

I woke up at 1:30AM with a gasp, totally stunned. The dream was so real in it's clarity. The tie in with the real events of the day (dinner and car hunting) made it all the more believable!

I arose from bed shaken, quickly turned on some lights and adjourned to the living room where I put on the TV. There was no way I was going back to sleep quickly after that! I wanted to talk to someone about this, but, due to the late hour I did not. I'm glad the kids were not here so they did not get awakened.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Jersey Bound....Again!

As the kids and I had planned to be leaving for New Jersey this coming Friday, we decided to still go. We do not want our last trip to New Jersrey memories to be the ones of my Dad's passing. I also need to pickup some items of my dad's I could not fit in the car last time, so, I'll be renting a full size car.

If anyone reading this wants to get together, I will be in the following areas.

Saturday August 23 through Tuesday August 26th Millington New Jersey, and Wednesday August 27th through Friday August 29th in West Caldwell. I realize folks have jobs and families and such, but, I just wanted to throw this out there.

We'll first be staying with my Brother and his wife, then with the Kids Uncle Kevin, his wife Lili, and their daughter Luci. It will be good to see them again, particularly in much more pleasant circumstances!

It will be a good trip, though I am really not looking forward to the drive both ways. As the car rental places want to charge you $30 a day for drivers under 25, Scott will not be able to help with the driving, and like our previous trip I'll be doing all the driving.

Life with Chris

Last night the X was supposed to pickup the kids between 9 and 9:30 as she has an appointment about an hour away from here. We were going to eat around 7 since we had a late lunch. I had taken the kids to Noodles and Company since they have several dishes I can eat calorie/carb-wise.

So, I'm making the Pasta with Hearty Meat Sauce recipe I posted this morning with a projected dinner time of 7PM and the phone rings, it's the X and she'll be there in 10 minutes.....

To make a long story short I invited her to eat with us and she, Danielle, and I had the aforementioned pasta while Scott had pasta with jarred meatless sauce (he does not like meat, veggies, etc. in his sauce).

They left around 8:30 and the usual what to do now that the kids are gone blues set in. Tails and I ended up watching TV until bedtime.

So, how am I doing these days? OK. Kind of blue though. I'm really missing my dad. I know Danielle is sad about that too I had to put away some of the mementos of him I brought back from New Jersey as they were affecting her. Work is no longer what I want to be doing but I feel locked in because at least I have a job that pays me what I need to have to support myself and the kids and pay support. My plan right now is to make it through the four years until Danielle turns 18 and comes off of support, and then evaluate where I want to be in life and what I want to do. Until then, it's focus on getting the kids out of the house and off to school, life, whatever, while making them as happy as I can.

Recipes - Cooking with Chris

The other night I took fresh onions, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, and some packaged jalapeno-chicken sausage, tossed with a few teaspoons of olive oil and crushed garlic and sprinkled it lightly with curry and chili powders. I also added a light sprinkling of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. I baked this at 350 for about 45 minutes and then removed the foil and baked for another 10. It was great. Is that enough of a recipe for folks? When I say lightly sprinkled does that make sense? Well, anyway because I did not notice how much I used, I did not make a recipe out of it. It WAS very good though!

I realized I have about 8 pounds of Dreamfield spaghetti in my pantry so, as you can see from my previous recipe post I have some serious pasta to be going through and using. When I eat alone I use four that could be a lot of recipes.

Regular readers here know I make quite a few recipes from scratch, perhaps one in five get posted for various reasons. Sometimes it's because I threw something really together really fast and did not pay attention to exactly how I made it, other times it me be good, but, in my opinion, not good enough to share. It was good, not great.

Other times I used some packaged ingredients that I don't know if they are available elsewhere. Such as pre-made Pad-Thai sauce in jar which I've used a couple of times this past week. When such items, such as Sambal Oelek are used, I do try to provide a link to a place where you can mail order them.

So, this evening I shall make something with pasta again, and we shall see how it comes out. Perhaps Pasta with over-roasted veggies and chicken? We shall see! If it works out there could be a recipe.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Chris' Pasta with Hearty Meat Sauce

3/4 pound ground beef (92% lean or ground sirloin)
3 ounces Hormel sliced turkey pepperoni, diced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced white onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cloves crushed fresh garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh basil (shredded)
12 ounces Deamfield Pasta
Freshly grated Romano to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add garlic. Once garlic begins to sizzle stir in onion and pepper cooking for two minutes. Add mushrooms and sprinkle to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Cook to desired doneness (I like my onions, peppers, and mushrooms just starting to get brown) and add ground beef and diced pepperoni cooking for two minutes.

Add 8 ounce can of tomato paste and warm water. Stir until tomato paste and water are well combined. Add basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir, and then cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Have a pot of water boiling when there is 10 minutes left on sauce and prepare 8 ounces Dreamfield Pasta (I used Spaghetti this time) to package directions, drain, and top with meat sauce. Sprinkle freshly grated Romano cheese on top.

Serves three to four.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Video of the Day

Where's Waldo?
as told in
The Waldo Ultimatum

If you grew up with "Where's Waldo?" or had kids who enjoyed it, you'll never be able to look at Waldo the same way ever again!

Due to a few 'naughty' words you may wish to preview this before sharing it with our younger viewers.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Me - Before and After
(or What a difference a gray makes!)

You may have noticed the new profile picture of, I did not find the fountain youth in case you are wondering. For quite awhile now my brother has been suggesting I color my beard to get ride of the gray as he's been doing for some years now.

When I was out in New Jersey earlier in the month he and his wife brought it up again. As I would be seeing relatives and people I'd not seen in many a year why should I look like the older brother? While I've never felt myself as an overly vain person, I must admit the amount of gray in my beard has bothered me on occasion, so, I decided what the hey.

So, after asking the kids ("We don't care!" was their response), I decided to do it. The procedure is quick and painless, particularly after you do it the first time, and I am pleased with the results. When I asked the kids how it looked, Scott said. "This is change! Change is not good!", but I think they like it.

In fact, this morning I showed Danielle the before and after pictures below that my brother had taken, she basically said I look like an old man in the before picture and much younger in the after shot.

Tails, bless her furry little heart, does not seem to have a preference!

So, what do you think? Do you think it looks better? I'm still not quite used to the reflection I see staring back at me in the mirror.

If you can stand the HORROR of it, click the picture for a larger version!

Thanks Bev (and some weekend ramblings)

Thanks Bev for your comments on my previous post, which have driven me to resume posts. You're a great and caring friend and I thank you!

So, it's my weekend with the kids, I have them for the week and got them Friday night. It's been tough getting back into the dieting groove with them. I decided when I returned from NJ I really needed to take better care of myself, so, began watching my weight again. Today makes day 6. With the kids here it's a bit harder since they want real food, so I pick them up Chinese from the local place or go to Wendy's with them and sip a soda while they eat, and then come back here.

Today though I have some nice lean NY strips that will soon be marinating in anticipation of grilling later, and I got some excellent ears of corn on the cob. I saw an interesting technique for cooking onions on Grill It with Bobby Flay this morning, I may try that. You take a large onion, half it, in the middle put garlic and butter (I will substitute something for the butter) and some spices. Wrap in foil and then put on the grill. It looked tasty, I think I will wrap the corn in foil as well today and put it on the grill.

Last night on BBC America was the premiere of a new Science Fiction show called Primeval which is promising. The basic premise is that a temporal rift allows dinosaurs from the past to come to the present.

The X will be by soon to pick me up; I mentioned I had to go to Meijer's and since she had to go we decided to go together, and I invited her to dine with us later since I have an extra steak.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Not much to say

Still trying to come to grips with the past couple of weeks, there's just nothing positive to say. I could go on for pages on how bad I feel about my dad's passing, loneliness, etc. but why bother. No one wants to read that anyway.

I don't expect to be doing a lot of posting in the near future. For the few people who sent kind thoughts, I thank you.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Thanks Steve

In a week that has left me and mine at one of the lowest points I can remember, I want to thank my friend Steve for being there Friday at my dad's funeral mass.

Thanks Steve, it meant the world to me and I'm sure to my dad too.