Maxim-um Effort

Today I was going to do some organizing near our shower area. Boxes of stuff had toppled over and junk was just getting thrown in the vicinity. After taking a few things out and getting my son to store them in the barn, I decided to re-box some magazines.

I have seven years of Maxim Magazines dating back to issue number 1 in 1997. When I worked at the movie theater from 1999-2004 I regularly read the magazine. I would also leave my copy in the booth for the projectionist to peruse while waiting for films to end.

I’m passing on the magazines to my son now. I told him to read at least one article from each magazine. Some of the info is very dated (like buying the perfect big screen tv!). As well, all of the women featured are almost 20 years older now.

The first issue, he flipped back and forth stopping on stories about cars, movies from 1997, and how to cook a steak. He read out the steak one and we discussed “Grilling the Perfect Steak”. Sounded like he wants to learn to BBQ after that story. He continued on reading about the perfect toolbox starter as well.

Maxim Magazine will offer up some tips to manhood that my son may not want to ask me. I think it’s a good chance for him to see what life was like 20 years ago. Where ads for alcohol and cigarettes made people look like life is full of parties if you get drunk and smoke. He already knows that life isn’t really like that.

Did you grow up reading magazines before the Internet came around?

Upcycled Growler Caddy

My wife and I have enjoyed traveling around British Columbia and collecting beer growlers along the way. I like the majority of the artwork that accompanies the Craft Breweries- along with the beers. We have gathered quite the collection of growlers over the years.

Today I finally made a growler carrier. I wanted to get one ages ago, but most only carry two growlers at a time. I wanted a larger one that can carry three of these 1.89ml (64oz) bottles. That makes it easier to transport them around.

There was a couple of old cupboard doors in our storage made of tongue and groove cedar wood. Easy to cut and put back together in a new shape. I also had an old closet dowel rod for the handle.

It took me a couple of hours to pull apart the doors and put everything back together. Here’s a secret- I only cut the two sides a bit shorter as the rest fit nicely together. The two doors had boards holding them together that I cut in half and made spacers for the growlers. A bit of sanding, some wood glue and a nail gun finished off my project. Because the dowel was so long, I decided to trim it down on one end to hold 4 small beer glasses. I figure that if I don’t like that part, I can always cut it off.

Now I’m ready to take this out for BBQs and camping! Plus it’ll be easier to get the growlers filled each time, as they won’t roll around my car anymore.

I love making stuff and repurposing items that would normally be disposed of. My holder may not be perfect, but it does the job it needs to do- carry my beers.

Loving Canada

Today is Canada Day! I am proud to be Canadian. So much so that I work for Canadian National Railway. Just kidding, I work for the railroad because I love trains. Man, I cannot say that with a straight face. I work for CN because I enjoy making money to live.

Moving on…

Growing up, I remember my father always drinking Molson Canadian Beer. When I turned legal drinking age, Molson was my go-to beer for many years. Mostly because I’d buy a $20 t-shirt and get a free case of beer. (At least that’s what I told myself, but clearly it was the opposite).

There was a commercial years ago put out by Molson that I enjoyed. I Am Canadian aka Joe Rant. It felt like the commercial was made for me specifically. I rewatch it every year. I also share it every year. I am a proud Canadian and love this country with all of its amazing landscapes and diverse culture.

My name is Joe.

AND I AM CANADIAN.

Happy Canada Day!

One More To Go

I have one more shift to go at work before a week of vacation kicks in. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. The crazy part is that I don’t have much planned for my time off. Our Disneyland trip is on hold due to COVID-19. We were looking forward to spending The Fourth of July in the USA for the first time ever. I assume it’d be a big deal. Especially in Disneyland!

I still plan on being not-so-sober during my time off. I do have a few days of camping planned with most of my family and a friend with his kids. Last summer he joined us and, well, drinking was pretty much non-stop. But the weather was great and so were the kids. So why not go for round two?

It’ll be hard to make it through that last day of work without a big smile on my face. Somehow, I’m sure I’ll survive until that first beer hits my lips. Then it’ll be a blur.

Kayaking the Salmon River, Fort Langley

Today my wife and I went out kayaking again. We drove towards our children’s school, and sauntered down the Salmon River in Fort Langley.

We parked along Glover Road and walked down a path and put the kayaks into the water. My wife and I slowly followed along the water for around and hour and a half. It was a nice leisurely paddle. But we also knew that we’d have to paddle back.

It was another calm, zen like experience. Since we were in Fort Langley, we decided that we would stop at The Trading Post for a snack and a beer. It was a great experience, we even made friends with an older couple who were out on a motorcycle cruise.

If the weather holds up into tomorrow, we hope to kayak once more locally. I’ll be sure to share that experience here on my blog.

Joe-Toberfest

Today I really wanted to make full sized soft pretzels. I decided to make them a part of our dinner. Besides mustard, what could I make with dinner? I remembered back to Oktoberfest 2018 at Trading Post. I didn’t make a cheese dip, I went with something else.

I took some Italian Sausage and squeezed the meat out of the casings. I fried the meat in a cast iron pan before adding two cans of tomato soup. I then added some sour cream and Dijon mustard. I served the soup as a side for the pretzels. We also had some sweet potato fries as our vegetable. Although deep frying them probably negates any health benefit.

I chose to have a Czech Pilsner with dinner. Having finally figured out how to play Spotify throughout the house the other day, I put on some Polka music. Because, why not? The family devoured dinner and we had a great time enjoying the music. I’m not sure we will ever get to Oktoberfest in Germany. But who knows. Maybe one day.

Cheers!

More At Home Time

Today was another day spent at home. I will say though, I’m really enjoying the fact that our house is feeling like a home once more. The family has pulled together and been a great help over the past few weeks.

We’ve done tons of cleaning inside already. The weather was beautiful today, so it was spent gardening. The kids helped tremendously today. I’m really satisfied with the results.

As we were working, my favorite brewery delivered some beers to our home. Within an hour of my order, they were at my door with a much desired beer for the weekend. Big thanks to Trading Post for the backyard beers!

For a break afterwards, the kids had some free time to do what they wanted. What they wanted to do was surprising to me. Our son played trumpet outside on the tree deck. Our oldest daughter did some painting on her canvases and our youngest read a book. Afterwards the four of us worked together and baked an apple pie. So amazing!

What a great life to live. Even in solitude.

Cancel Those Beer Plans

I’m not one for going out on St. Patrick’s Day as it is, which is fine. It’s a fun type of celebration for many though. From plastic leprechaun hats to green beers- people love to have a raucous of a time today.

With today being St. Patrick’s Day, it would normally be filled with people going out and having a good time. But due to the recent pandemic, it is recommended that people stay away from large gatherings. Sadly this may mean no green beers in the pub. The world needs a touch of good luck, but we seem to have a No Leaf Clover kind of day. Hopefully things get better before they get worse.

If you are still going to celebrate with some beer- do it safely from the comfort of your own home. Maybe Skype or FaceTime some friends instead. Practice that new buzz term- Social Distancing. As I’ve gotten older, I enjoy Social Distancing already. So, here’s my virtual clinking of a glass to you-

Cheers!

Roaring Good Time

Last night was a Fundraiser for our oldest’s Dry Grad coming up in June. It was a dance with a 1920’s Prohibition Theme. The parents who attended went all out making the dance a memorable and fun event.

The ladies dressed in 1920’s era outfits. The men wore suits with suspenders and bow ties. My wife and I included.

My wife and I enjoyed the night out. We had a ton of fun taking pictures and being ridiculously 1920’s. It looked like the school was going to earn quite a bit of money for the the Grade 12 Dry Grad.

It’s great to have fun and let loose. Themed costume parties are also amazing when everyone participates. Last night was no exception.

Four Years of Beers

Last year I went to Trading Post in Langley to celebrate Three Years of Beers. The year before I enjoyed Two Years of Beers. I was also there for the Grand Opening when they first started up. I have been a loyal customer and beer connoisseur of what the Trading Post has to offer. I have visited their three locations and will continue to do so.

The other day I received a message from a person whom I met up with last year at the anniversary. He was hoping to meet up again this year. Our friendship was formed over a mutual friend… and beers. I also met with a couple former coworkers from various past employments of mine.

As the afternoon went on, we had some good talks and loads of laughs. It was great to meet with everyone who makes life a bit more enjoyable. It’s all about networking, right? Or just enjoying life.

Now, I have a nice collection of specialty glasses each celebrating the various anniversaries from Trading Post. I also have a great collection of friendships that I have accumulated over the years. Taking the time to enjoy people’s company over a beer or two makes me happy.

Anniversaries are a great way to keep in contact with others. An anniversary of a brewery is even better.

Irn-Bru

My favorite drink In The World is Irn-Bru. It’s a Scottish soft drink with a unique flavor. What is the flavor of Irn-Bru? I like to describe it as an orange cream soda.

I first had some in Scotland back in 1995 when I was 19. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. My favorite part about traveling in Scotland was buying Vodka and Irn-Bru at almost every pub. I brought some bottles home to share with friends. The soda didn’t last long as everyone enjoyed it. It took me a few years to find it here in Canada.

When I did find it for sale- boy was I excited! I bought it every chance I got because of the scarcity of it. Oh, and the cost was a bit ridiculous for a soda, so I limited my purchases. Paying $10 for 2 liters is a bit much or $4 for a small bottle. The problem now is that I introduced my kids to the drink, and they love it too!

Today I found a neat looking bottle of vodka that I had to own. And what better way to enjoy the vodka with than some Irn-Bru? Tonight I’m enjoying a vodka and Irn-Bru. It brought back some great memories. Perhaps one day I’ll share with my kids some vodka and Irn-Bru. Until then, this is my treat.

Bailey’s Blues

I’m going to start this off by saying, I’m not an alcoholic. Now for some background into that statement.

Yes, I do enjoy having beer, wine and other spirits. I have shared plenty of stories of my journeys to a variety of breweries and distilleries. I also go long periods without a drop. I don’t tend to buy a lot of hard liquor or flavored liqueurs. Most often is around Christmas time to share with family and friends.

I pick up a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream every year. For the past few years it has been coming with a free mug that we have been gifting to our daughter- and she loves them. In fact, she gets upset if anyone else uses one. So her brother and sister know to stay clear of those mugs, as do my wife and I. I look at it as buying a $20 mug and getting a free bottle of Bailey’s.

This year, for whatever reason, my best friend has been gifting me a bottle of Bailey’s every time he comes out. And every time he comes over- the bottle keep getting bigger. We received one in July, one in October and another in December. Plus the one we pick up in order to get the mug- that adds up to a ton of Irish Cream. Basically the large one he brought us last week and the one I picked up are still full.

If I keep adding it to my morning coffee, I’m going to become immune to the effects and start increasing the doses until there’s no more coffee in my mug. How do I ask my friend to stop bringing me such a tasty beverage without sounding ungrateful?

Or rather, how do I convince him that next time he should bring Kahlua?

Rich and Egg-citing Foods

The winter season is all about food. Yesterday I mentioned Leftovers and previously I wrote about Christmas Baking. But there are other rich foods that I love and only enjoy this time of year.

Egg Nog.

The thick, sweet, dairy product that makes me feel bloated with joy. As an adult I have moved on from adding dark rum to this beverage. Now I mix it with Fireball or Gingerbread Rum. It makes my insides feel like I’m getting tipsy on what Christmas should taste like.

Deviled Eggs

Oh my. I could eat a plate of these little creamed yoke treats. But my brain knows that my body would be unhappy afterwards. So one, maybe two, are enjoyed. A simple delicacy that was often found at picnics or potlucks of the 70’s and 80’s. Now they dawn our table at Christmas. Our son made these ones and they turned out delicious- as always.

What rich foods to you over indulge with over Christmas?

Local Beers

As I have mentioned numerous times before- I love to shop local and support small businesses. If you live in Langley, BC I recommend you follow Tourism Langley on Instagram. They are always out there sharing great moments in our little neck of the Fraser Valley.

Yesterday they shared this picture. Langley grew over the past year adding four more breweries to their name. Previously it was only Dead Frog and Trading Post that graced us with craft beers.

I was excited to hear about the other breweries that opened This Year, that I went out and filled some growlers to share tonight. We have a few friends and coworkers stopping by for the Winter Solstice. And what goes great with food and friends? Sharing beers. I picked up samples from Dead Frog, Trading Post, 5 Roads, and Farm Country. I’m excited to try them and share with everyone.

Hopefully the beers I grabbed taste as good as their names sounded. We shall find out tonight.

Staff Christmas Party

Last night my wife and I attended my work Christmas Party at my boss’s home. After a long day of watching our son at Speed Skating, it was nice to get out and socialize. And my coworkers enjoy socializing!

I’m the kind of person who generally gets things going at various events- be it a wedding or party. I don’t mean getting out of hand and crazy. I mean I’m usually the first one at the food table gathering nun-nums and starting the conversation of what foods I tried. Last night was no exception. I also tend to place myself down in a good spot that many people “stop by” and strike up conversations.

As the evening progressed, everyone let loose a bit more. A couple coworkers cleared off the dining room table for a beer pong tournament, while others shared some of their more fancier alcohols. Music, jokes and great conversations were happening. I had to cut my evening short about three hours in. It was already a long day, plus I had to be up early for work. My coworkers were getting up to some shenanigans and I’m sure some fun stories will be shared at the water cooler this week.

Working with a hangover is for the young these days. I haven’t wanted to push my limits lately as there are already plenty of stories of my insobriety out there. Even my kids have a few.

As we left, I thanked our hosts for the hospitality. My boss’s wife is quite amazing at cooking and baking it seems. There was a lovely spread of appetizers and treats laid out. As we were leaving, I asked for her recipe on how she made the doughnuts. She mentioned that it’s on her blog in which I follow. Honestly, I didn’t know that I followed her specifically, because I enjoy a variety of blogs. But there she was, and her first blog post- Doughnuts! I may have to try my hand at deep frying something beyond savory goodies one day.

Just a friendly reminder- If you are out at holiday parties please make sure you have a safe ride home. As embarrassing as being a bit tipsy may be the next day, having a “next day” is more important.

The Family Saturday

Today was a long day filled with some quality family time. Quality time is something that I treasure whenever we can get it.

It started with early morning speed skating training, followed by a free movie at the theater. It was Community Day so we took in a classic film- “A Christmas Story” to start our season right. By far one of my most favorite films. Seeing it in the theater added a new ambiance to the film and legitimate out loud laughs by the audience.

The film was over around lunch. We came straight home, did a quick tidy/clean before settling in to a favorite family activity. It’s the first Saturday after my wife’s birthday, so that meant decorations for our trees were to go up!

Loads of fun, dancing, singing and smiles were had. It helped that my wife and I had cookies and Firenog as well. Today is a day that our oldest loves to be a part of and willingly gets her picture taken with a smile!

We have three trees, so the kids rotate which topper they put up. It’s the first year I haven’t lifted anyone up to do it. It’s also the first year that my wife did this:

She broke an ornament! It’s not Christmas until at least one ornament explodes.

Is A Brewery Good For Kids?

I have been taking my children to the Trading Post Eatery in Fort Langley for ages now. This is the second location of their brewery and is more of an eatery and brewhouse than anything. Usually I have a beer and I treat the kids to a snack. We love the yam fries and specialty foods that are available.

Because of the quality of the food- I don’t mind the kids tagging along. This afternoon my son asked if he is allowed to order some food for pick up on his lunch. That brought up an interesting thought- “Is it okay for my kids to order food from a brewery?” The answer is “Yes”.

At least from this local “restaurant” it’s not an issue. I asked the manager and he said it’s totally fine for my kids to place an order for pick up. My son now has Trading Post as a contact in his phone for those days at lunch that he wants to walk in to town and grab lunch.

Staying Dry

My wife and I had a fairly successful Sober September. I faltered once and had a beer at the airport in Winnipeg. As September ended and October began, I wasn’t eagerly waiting for the month to end in order to “Hit the sauce” so to speak.

On Thursday we went out with some friends for a dinner. Originally we were going to go to Trading Post in Abbotsford- a place with great food and atmosphere. I would’ve likely had my favorite beer there- the 1828 Helles Lager. But they were closed for a private event. So we ended up at The Canadian Brewhouse instead.

Their beer special was Budweiser. A beer I don’t overly enjoy. So I had a ginger ale instead and I felt good about it. I know we’re only five days into October, but I’ve been enjoying a variety of teas and sodas in lieu of alcohol. The only thing I’m noticing is that I am craving sweets more often. Hence the sodas.

As Autumn progresses, I’ll probably enjoy a drink or two at some point. I’m just not actively going out to buy beers or planning nights with friends at breweries as I have in the past.

Maybe I can find an elegant tea house nearby and invite you out for a social date.

Trying To Be A Better Man

Today would’ve been my father’s birthday. Over the years I’ve been trying different ways to remember the good in him. Which has been difficult when the bad memories were more impactful. From September 19 (My father’s birthday) to November 25th (the date he passed away) I’m not a pleasant person to be around at home. I’ve been consciously making different choices in my life to try and be a better person each and every day.

For two years in a row I grew a beard. It made me look like him. I was thinking of making it a tradition, but last year my family pushed hard and made me feel bad that I grew facial hair. I’m not sure why, but I’d rather not have bitterness thrown at me from those whom I care about. So no beard planned this year.

Last year I did “Sober September” and this year I’m trying as well. I had a couple of beers once this month and felt instant shame in myself for being weak. The reason is my father drank heavily and I worry that the trait runs deep in my genes. Especially when I look back at most of my Instagram posts and see a lot of beer in my hands.

Obviously I’d love to say that I am in control of my drinking, but am I? I come home from work and would like a beer with dinner. I have days off and want to see friends which generally brings up drinking. Maybe this year I’ll try not drinking from September 19 to November 25th. Do the complete opposite of what my father would do. Maybe only then can I push the negative out of my mind and bring out the positive memories.

I sure don’t want to end up like him- sour, angry and dead by age 58. That doesn’t appeal to me. I want to be a better person.

I know I’m a better person. I just need to remind myself from time to time.

Is It Autumn Yet?

The daylight is getting shorter. The leaves on the trees are starting to change colour. It’s foggy in the mornings. We must be on the cusp of autumn.

So I decorated our front stoop accordingly!

We had an old wooden chair in our barn that I set up out front. I had bought a couple of metal buckets from the dollar store last year and filled them with firewood. I gathered some leaves that had fallen and placed them around. Finally, our crone gargoyle sits patiently waiting for Halloween.

On the other side of the door I put an unfinished “living edge” table (also from our barn). I set up our collection of British Columbia Beer Growlers from our road trips over the past few years. I surrounded everything with some leaves, dried seeds and bark.

I’m happy with the results and have a few other decorative ideas to add to our home before Halloween takes over. I finally found my glue gun at 11pm last night, but won’t be starting a project until later in the day.

What do you do to decorate for the seasons?

Do you like fall as much as I do?

Let me know in the comments section!

Sober September

I’m going for year two of Sober September. The end of summer had me enjoying my vacation with quite a few beers this year. As much as I want to sport the beer gut and “Dad Bod” I also want to be healthy. Taking a break from the hops and barley will help.

We also have quite the collection of Growlers from the breweries we’ve visited. It’s time to let them gather dust for a bit. Generally if I liked a beer, I bought a growler. But the artwork on the bottles is also important. I guess it’s kind of like spoon collecting?

Anyways, it’s September 1st. Time to get on the path of Sober September. I’m glad I did it last year and was eager to do it again this year. My wife has said she is going to join me this month as well. That’s the kind of awesome support that I appreciate.

Pub Night Fundraising

Last night my wife and I attended a Pub Night Fundraiser. The fundraiser was for the Grade Seven Camping trip coming up in June. This is probably the third Pub Night we’ve ever attended with the last one being back in October of 2016. This time it was for our son and his classmates. We had to make this one.

The tickets included a beer, burger and fries. I wasn’t expecting much because of previous experiences at Pub Nights in other locations. But I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived. I forgot how good the food was at Jimy Mac’s.

Image: Jimy Mac’s Facebook

Jimy Mac’s is a well established sports pub. It’s been around since I can remember. My first job when I was sixteen was across the street from them back in 1992. When I turned legal drinking age, it was only one of two locations nearby my home to go to. However, I don’t think I’ve been inside the pub for about fifteen years.

The Pub Night was fantastic. Our fundraiser section was packed. The burger was delicious- you could tell that the pub has done these fundraisers before. The service was outstanding by the wait staff. They were very attentive to the needs of our group. Not only was the pub well organized, but the volunteers of the event had set up a 50/50 draw, twoonie toss, and prize giveaways. All proceeds going towards the camping trip.

My wife and found a spot at a long table and were joined by some parents we knew and some we hadn’t met before. We had such great conversations that I completely forgot to take out my phone to snap some images. That is a sign of a good time.

Fundraising isn’t always fun or easy. But the event last night proved to be successful. I want to offer a big thanks to Jimy Mac’s Pub and the fundraising volunteers for creating such a wonderful night.

Miller Time

It’s been a long week. I couldn’t race out the office door fast enough today. Not that I don’t like my coworkers or the job. It’s just time to take a mental recharge.

I don’t even have the time to finish writing today’s blog and my first beer is poured.

The crisp fizz hit my tongue and a rush of sensations came over me. Ah… simply refreshing. Memories of underage drinking of cheap beers to last year’s plane rides and cold ales after take off. There’s an idea that enjoying a cold beer just feels normal. Not drinking to get wasted. Just a sample of cold, liquified fermentation has become a part of my dietary desires.

Chilled, crisp and exactly what was needed to start my weekend. A small break from responsibilities. A mental vacation away from the hustle and bustle of moving trains.

Happy Friday to my Readership! This glass is raised to you!

Driving Day

Today we embarked on a 12 hour road trip from our home to Grande Prairie, Alberta. It started off with us being an hour behind schedule. No big deal- I was able to... ahem... make up the time while driving.

We whipped through Kamloops with a quick stop for gas. Then off to Jasper for a late lunch and of course- trains. Plus amazing beer and food! We had nachos and Wild Boar Steam Buns all at the Jasper Brewing. I highly recommend the Boar and “Jasper the Bear Ale”.

It was a beautiful day to drive through the mountains from British Columbia to Alberta. We watched the sun set and the sky change colours. Absolutely stunning.

Now it’s time to unwind in the hotel room and mentally prepare for the next couple of days. A quick dip in the pool and finish my blog is a great way to end a 12 hour drive.

Sinatra as a Mentor?

Today I feel as if Frank Sinatra was an unbeknownst mentor. Not because I can sing- in fact far from it. But his lifestyle of sorts. I decided to do some quick research on him. Turns out some of his quotes resonate with me.

Having an intelligent woman in my life makes me feel like there is more substance in my relationship. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not just smart but pretty as well. I can make her light up the room when I get her to smile. We also have in-depth conversations where I often learn from her knowledge of various subjects.

The other side of Sinatra is his attitude towards drinking. He makes it seem refined and elegant. As if to be suave one needs to have a drink in hand.

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t look at him as a mentor. I enjoy my alcohol; perhaps a bit more than the next person. Drinking has been a part of my adult life for as long as I can remember. Which is hitting nearly a quarter century now. Not every day, but nearly every day off I enjoy a drink. It has become a part of my lifestyle. Sometimes in a negative way. A way that makes me unimpressed with myself.

Sinatra lived to be 83. That’s about forty years further than I am at this moment. I don’t know if I want to do forty more years of having alcohol as a vice. That’s a long time to keep putting booze into me.

But if Ol’ Blue Eyes could do it…