Fun Romancing

Yesterday was Valentines Day. Some people expressed their love for one another on social media. Others shared bitterness and sarcasm. Many people shared pictures of lovely dinners and flowers. Whatever your day was like, I hope it was great. Mine was super romantic.

First my wife and I dropped the kids off at school. Then we went for breakfast at a random bistro that we had never been to before. One of the best breakfasts I have ever had. Also the most expensive breakfast I have ever had. This was our romantic meal of the day.

Then my wife and I went home to play some video games in bed. Followed by a mid morning nap. Which led to me sleeping until 4pm because I worked the night shift the day prior. I woke up because I had missed four phone calls from my wife. She left the same message each time in her silliest voice possible. “Call me. Call me. Why won’t you call me? Caaaaaaaaallllllll me.”

When she came home, we played some Smash Bros and Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch. My wife is really good at gaming and beat me repeatedly at these games. After a couple of hours of video games, I made dinner for the family.

After dinner we watched one of my wife’s favorite films- “Stardust“. It’s also one of my favorites. A fairytale involving love. Something about Neil Gaiman’s works translate from novel to film beautifully.

Yesterday was a day pretty much designed to make my wife happy. From a lovely breakfast date to lots of video games to enjoying a romantic film. I think we should do more days like this.

Mr. Noodles

Having three teenagers requiring food kind of hits the pocketbook hard. Buying in bulk at Costco or during a Case Lot Sale at the grocery store seems like a good way to save money. But in reality, my kids see it as “more food to be eaten” before the next shopping trip.

Any parent of a teenager or college kid knows that Mr. Noodles is an inexpensive way to eat. I’ve lived off them for a daily meal filler when I lived on my own in my younger days. Over the past couple years, they have been making their way into my home again. And my kids are devouring them almost as quickly as I buy them.

When I do get to eat some, I like to drain out the water, then add the contents of the flavor packet to the noodles only. This is how I’ve always had them. My wife on the other hand prefers to eat them as an actual soup. Recently I’ve decided to change it up a bit.

Since Mr. Noodles is technically Ramen, that’s what I’ve been trying to make. Albeit on a budget, but a bowl of Ramen nonetheless. My first attempt I felt pretty good about and it tasted not too shabby. I fried a bit of pork, soft boiled and egg which was then soaked in soy sauce. We buy packets of seaweed for snacks, so it was a great garnish on the side with some green onion chopped on top. It looked like I could’ve passed it off as the real deal.

The other day, we had some leftover Chinese takeout. I was hoping to enjoy some fried rice and sweet and sour pork, but as I mentioned- I have three teens in our home that are eating everything in sight. Except the vegetables. So I mixed those leftovers with some Mr. Noodles. Again, my wife enjoyed it as a soup, and I ate them as beef noodles. Super tasty.

Stretching a meal budget can be tough. Making cheap foods taste better is a talent I have. Now to figure out how to make Pizza Pops better.

Three Years of Beers

As much as I thought I was going to do a whole lot of nothing yesterday, I was wrong. I ended up going out to my favorite watering hole to celebrate their third anniversary.

They were offering up a limited edition etched glass to the first 100 customers. Much like last year, I scored two glasses. Because it was so cold outside, they opened up early to let everyone in. I was the fifth person in line of about 40 people. I was only inside for about forty five minutes before having to leave for another appointment.

I also ended up seeing some people I had met over the years. So my interaction level had to go up. Good thing the beer was 8.7% and tasty. Seriously though, I had such a great time at the opening that I returned a few hours later to get a couple of growlers filled.

Something about the Trading Post Brewing that makes it feel warm and welcoming. No matter which location I attend. I love supporting local businesses as well. Thanks again to the brewmaster and servers for a great beer and celebration.

Cheers.

Joey At Play

This evening I’m going out with a couple of friends. No kids or wives will be joining us. I rarely have a Saturday night like this. I have to plan these “play dates” well in advance. Mostly to prepare my family for the fact that I won’t be home.

I’m looking forward to tonight. But it won’t be like the days of yore. I won’t be getting crazy drunk or having a late night. Just a couple of hours spent in North Vancouver. Some tacos and a couple of beers are the extravagant plans. It’s the company that I will be with that shall make the evening enjoyable and memorable.

I may share a photo or two on social media, but I am hoping to not to pull out my phone at all. That is until I leave to come home. At which point, I’ll call my wife to let her know I’m on my way. Which is a courtesy that my wife and I have for one another when not together.

A call to say, “Hey! I’m on my way. Love ya.” Even a few hours away from her means I’ll still miss her company. She has become an extension of my personality. So have my kids. And as I make memories and experiences, I love them to be with me as often as possible.

But tonight is a “Guy’s Night” where we will talk about our families and work. This gents are similar to me in many ways- where they put their family’s needs first. These are the kind of guys I prefer to associate with.

Meal Prep For Five

Meal Prep isn’t a part of my lifestyle.

However, I took a few hours yesterday to work on some dinner prep for the family. Our 12 year old son helped out last night and really enjoyed it. I don’t usually prepare foods in advance unless we are going on a road trip or camping. But I figured I’d give it a try.

We bought 6 pounds of ground beef earlier in the week. So I divided it into meatloaf, seasoned fried beef for burritos and an amazing recipe for cabbage roll casserole. The meatloaf got eaten last night and the cabbage roll casserole is for tonight. The fried beef will be mixed with refried beans and rice for another family favorite. This was all made last night within an hour.

Today I went shopping at the grocery store because they were having a “Caselot Sale“. Besides canned soups, tuna and toilet paper, I also stocked up on about 18 pounds of pork loin. We now have a couple dinners of schnitzel, pork kebobs, and thin sliced Japanese bbq style pork. I divided it into six different meals and tossed those into our big freezer. Labeled and packed away, I’m glad that I did it now instead of trying to thaw a large pork loin later on.

Over the Christmas break, our dinners weren’t planned out. There was a lot of what we call “Fend For Yourself” nights. Where the kids would eat bowls of cereal, Mr. Noodles or toast and sometimes leftovers. It took this week for my wife and I to realize we need to get back to a routine of planning dinners and buying the appropriate groceries ahead of time. I have gone through the freezer in order to use some of our older meats first. All the pork I bought today will go to the back and get used in the upcoming weeks. Having a family of five with three teens is expensive when it comes to foods.

Buying processed or prepackaged foods may be easier, but it is not the healthiest of options. The time it takes to prepare meals or divide up large quantities of meat is minimal. Plus it messes the kitchen up really bad only once.

Here’s to healthy choices! And here’s the Cabbage Roll Casserole recipe if you want to try it:

Cabbage Roll Casserole

1.5 lbs Ground Beef

2 medium onions

1 clove minced garlic

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 – 14oz can of tomato sauce

1 – 14oz can of water

1/2 cup of uncooked long grain rice

4 cups of shredded cabbage (1 head)

Sour cream

Directions:

Brown beef, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Then stir in the rice. Cover and simmer for about 20 mins stirring occasionally.

Place 1/2 of the shredded cabbage on a greased baking dish. Cover with 1/2 the beef and rice mixture. Repeat layers. Cover and bake in 350° oven for one hour.

Serve with sour cream. Casserole may be refrigerated before baking.

Serves 6.

Enjoy!

Trading Post #3

I have been going to the Trading Post Brewing for a couple of years now. I was there on opening day at their first location. I also attended their Two Year Anniversary last February as well as Oktoberfest in their Fort Langley location this past September. I continue to head out every couple weeks to one of these locations for refreshments.

I have grown accustomed to their service and atmosphere. It makes for a good time hanging out with my wife, family and friends.

On Saturday, my wife and I were in Abbotsford and decided to check out their third location that opened less than one month ago. We were not disappointed. The food and beer menu is the same as their Fort Langley location. This made it convenient for us as we only had about an hour to kill.

All three locations are unique in their own way. Their Brewery location is exactly that- a brewery. Large vats of beer and seating to enjoy said beers. Their Fort Langley location plays on the history of Fort Langley and the idea of a real Trading Post. Cozy atmosphere and good food. This newest location is completely different. Very modern looking and spacious. A great eatery in the heart of a growing section of Abbotsford.

I love supporting this local business. It helps them to thrive and expand. The owners of The Trading Post have a great product and service that makes for wonderful memories to be shared. If you are looking for a place to share good times- any one of their three locations would be ideal.

Christmas Day 2018

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I’m not going to write much today. Just going to share some photos of our Christmas Eve fun.

First was our traditional dinner of Fancy Sandwiches, Schnitzel and potato salad. This year, everyone helped in making the Sandwiches. Our youngest helped with the salad and our oldest helped make the schnitzel.

After dinner we retired to the theater room and opened our Christmas PJs. The kids had fun taking selfies for Instagram. Afterwards we watched Aggretsuko Heavy Metal Christmas and Powerpuff Girls: The Fight Before Christmas. An easy way to unwind before bed.

Once the kids were in bed, my wife and I got to work laying out their gifts. And one last hiding place behind the door for Creepy Santa to surprise the kids. Next will be the the start of the big day filled with gifts and fun!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Winter Solstice 2018

We had a small get together last night to celebrate the Winter Solstice. This is the second year we have done this. I enjoy celebrating the Solstice. Being that my family is Atheist, it makes more sense to celebrate this style of tradition.

Being host to a social event is one of my passions. I love to serve good food for good friends. Lots of appetizers and cookies for everyone to enjoy. My friends come from all different aspects of my life and mingle well with one another. That makes for a good time.

As each group left our home, we gave them a small tin of cookies to enjoy later. It’s a way for them to reflect on the evening with a hope that they enjoyed coming out as much as I enjoyed their company.

Here’s to the daylight getting longer now! May you all enjoy the balance of the winter as it crests towards springtime.

GingerDEAD House

Last night our daughters worked together decorating a Gingerbread house. It was great to see them work together so well. It was entertaining as well because they wanted to make it a part of their “Creepy Santa” escapades.

Of course they made a “GingerDEAD House” full of blood icing. I enjoyed listening to them tell stories of how the Gingerbread people died. I like that they created their own style of house instead of making it look like a perfect match from the box.

Creepy Santa is proud as well. I’m sure he’ll bring them something nice this year. You can follow him on Instagram. Hohoho Horror.

Candy Cane Can’t

I was driving to get the kids from school like I usually do on a Friday afternoon. Being the cool Dad alone in the car- I was grooving to some Christmas tunes on the radio. I also decided that I was going to eat a Candy Cane. Because- Christmas of course!

So I’m driving and trying to open the wrapper with both hands- while still holding the steering wheel- safety first. Just bopping along to some tunes and smiling as I struggle with the heat shrinked wrapper. My smile is now fading as I try and use my teeth to rip into this unforgiving clear plastic of pure evil. I want to eat my sugar treat!!! Why is this so difficult???

I finally got a little tear opened on the bottom of the candy cane. So I went back to multitasking with my hands on the steering wheel and opening my treat. The nearly impossible plastic protective shield was outsmarted by this man! I was about to revel in my Christmas Sugar Rush when the unthinkable happened.

The wrapper split open from end to end to reveal a shattered candy cane.

Nay! Not reveal- but rather EXPLODE!

Candy Cane shards went everywhere. All over the floor mats, the dashboard, my cup holders, and even into my steering column. Instead of a loud cursing scream, my voice let out a cracked whimper of defeat. I was beaten by a cheap Christmas confectionary. The rest of my drive was met with a taunting Christmas jingle pumping through my stereo.

No treat.

No joy.

Just a flaccid piece of plastic wrap in my right hand with a few bits of red and white dust falling out. This is the perfect example of why I don’t like sweets.