Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Update on Lent

The donate jar is a donate box.

Through one week it has ten items in it.

Five from the "S" word. This is no surprise. The "S" word has been passed down from generation to generation in my family. I'm not sure saying "I'm German" is a legitimate excuse or not.

(Recent evidence has shown me to actually be more Swiss than German - at least my brother's DNA test said HE was... I'm too cheap to pay for a test, especially now that he already did it).

But I digress...

Two from the "A" word. There is still some debate about this one, as I was not referencing a body part but was actually using it to describe my behavior, and comparing it to a donkey. Still - I'd rather donate something than try to claim a technicality.

One from the "P" word. There is no debate about this one, as I was talking to one of our dogs.

One from the "H" word. Frankly, I'm surprised I EVER say that word. But I did. And I paid.

And one other. The one word to rule them all. And the one word where I totally got my money's worth.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

What to give up for lent

Inspired by Good Housekeeping, I created a list of eight things I could give up for lent this year.

Then, inspired by March Madness (or whatever) I put them in a single elimination bracket.

(Note that this starts with the ashes today at 11:30...)

Before we start let me just say that there were two competing forces as I looked at this list: Those things that would be a sacrifice vs. those things that would make me a better person. This has been an annual internal debate with me. One year I read that you could give up sleeping on your mattress. Total sacrifice but probably not a better person. (It didn't make the cut). One year I gave up sarcasm - in hopes that it would make me a better person. Yeah THAT was a BRILLIANT idea... 

Sarcasm didn't even make the final eight this year.

Enough set up. Here we go:


Bad Posture vs. 1/2 Hour Sleep: 

This was where I had to remember "It's not a contest to see which one would hurt the least". I'm already working on posture with yoga. This was (unfortunately) a no-brainer.

Winner: 1/2 hour sleep.

Alcohol vs. Swear Words:

This was easily the toughest game in the bracket. Because there are some times when I love a cold **** beer.

Here's what I didn't want to have happen: "Oh, no I can't have that glass of wine because (LOOK AT ME) I gave up alcohol for lent." I don't want to be that guy. Also, I don't want my father in law to get ahead of me on the wine. 

Finally, we take Sundays off for lent. A few years ago I gave up Diet Mountain Dew. I found myself putting down roughly a two liter on Sundays. Applying that logic to alcohol would cause some Monday morning issues.

Winner: Swear Words

Donate three things every day vs. No sugar after 8pm:

Donate three things sounded more difficult. I just gave up a bunch of Mini Wheats to the Food Pantry, and we went through our clothes recently.

Of course I'm writing this before 8pm. The degree of difficulty might change later.

Winner: Donate three things every day.

Videogames vs. Diet Soda:

I don't play that many video games. And I do like a diet soda.

Of course I had to check my phone after this. And the videogames are up to an hour per day. They gotta go. At least in this round.

Winner: Videogames


1/2 Hour Sleep vs. Swear words:

I already get up early. If I go a half hour earlier I will be grumpy. And I'll probably swear more.

Winner: Swear words:

Videogames vs. Donate Three Things Every Day:

"So what good did you do while you were on earth Phil? Were you charitable?"

"Well... I gave up Hasbro Battleship for lent one year!"

Winner: Donate Three Things Every Day.


Lots of thought went into this one. Lots. Of. Thought. And when I was thinking about it I saw something out of the corner of my eye and said "What the hell?"

We have a winner.

Winner: Swearing. 

This gets to the heart of what I discussed at the start of the post: Becoming a better person vs. making a sacrifice. 

Is giving up swearing a sacrifice?

I'm not going down that ****ing rabbit hole. 

Is giving up swearing going to make me a better person? I think so. If not a better person it will at least broaden my vocabulary. (If you want to learn a new pitch you can't just keep throwing the fastball)

Of course this is easier said that done. I mean - if I give up alcohol it's pretty unlikely that I accidentally make a martini and down it before I realize what I was doing. But there's a really good average chance hat, on any given day, I could drop an f-bomb. (Ask me how I know).

What to do: Well, it's simple actually. 


If it starts costing me more Mini Wheats or a pair of jeans or whatever - that will change my behavior, for the better.

And there's a decent chance, depending on how the day is going, that I could donate more than three things in a given day. 

Who am I kidding? I might need a U-Haul by the end of lent.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

This week's new recipe: Cincinnati Chili Pork Chops

One of our goals for 2021 is to try making a new recipe every week. This week's effort was Cincinnati Chili Pork Chops.

Once again, this recipe was taken from the Book Canada Grills! By Char-Broil. It was an Ollie's Outlet find. $2.99 for the book of 222 recipes.


6 pork loin chops, 1 inch thick
½ cup apple cider vinegar

We actually did nine chops. This is because we bought a boneless pork loin and I cut it up into chops (one inch thick). I cut the chops after making the rub. I also peeled off some (but not all) of the fat.

As for the apple cider vinegar, I had a squirt bottle of it. Instead of brushing it on the chops I just squirted them.


1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder (we used regular chili powder)
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon coarse salt (we skipped that)

Whisk together rub ingredients in a large bowl.

Brush each chop with vinegar (I actually used a spray bottle - see above note).

Then press a generous amount of rub on all surfaces. (I just put the rub in a pan and pressed each chop into the rub (on each side).

Place the chops on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to two hours.

Remove from the refrigerator one hour before grilling.

Preheat the grill to medium high and spritz the chops with canola oil (I forgot this part. I did spray the grill with Pam grilling spray so they didn’t stick).

Sear over direct heat one to two minutes per side.

Move the chops to the warming rack, or some area with no direct heat and continue grilling until the chops reach an internal temperature of 160. (I got tired of waiting around 150 degrees so I moved them back to the direct side to finish).


Week one: Shepherds Pie

Week two: Peach barbecue chicken

Week three: Tuna casserole

Week four: This one

All of the above become links

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Playing with iMovie - my first trailer

My friend Bill made a video... 

And it was really cool. So I said "Hey Bill - how did you make that?" He said "iMovie trailers!"

All this time I've been messing with iMovie I never once did a trailer. Until now.

I took some of the footage from the Great kid movie project, and played with various trailers until I came up with something fun.

What would (will) I do differently?

I would make a copy before I tell iMovie to "convert trailer to movie". Somehow I missed the whole word "Convert". That meant that once I discovered something I wanted to change (specifically the camera bobble when Joe is standing by the cow fence) I couldn't do it. Not easily anyway.

And then there was the whole closing credits thing...

So who's Pickles McWeiner anyway?

 It's a Facebook account my oldest son created about eight years ago. This was another thing I wanted to change after conversion. That wouldn't have been too difficult actually, but once I saw it I thought "Meh. It's kind of an Easter Egg..."

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

This week's new recipe: Peach barbeque chicken - totally worth the price of the recipe book.

One of our goals for 2021 is to try making a new recipe every week. This week's effort was Peach Barbecue Chicken.

The recipe was taken from the Book Canada Grills! By Char-Broil. It was an Ollie's Outlet find. $2.99 for the book of 222 recipes.

The ingredients:

  • 6 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup peach preserves
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp bbq sauce.
I sprayed the breasts with olive oil and threw on a little Morton's salt substitute. I then coated one side with about 2/3 of the ingredients above.

On the grill

Then I added this to what was left:

  • Some amount, probably a tbsp – bourbon.
  • And some amount, probably another 3 tbsp bbq sauce.
  • About another 1/6 cup peach preserves
  • This gave me a thinner sauce to apply while grilling.

The grilling:

I put the breasts on the grill – sauce side up, and grilled over medium-low heat until the internal temperature got to 110. I then flipped and brushed on sauce every 10-15 degrees until the internal temperature got to 165.

The book left it entirely up to me on what kind of barbeque sauce, so I went with Stonewall Kitchen Bourbon Molasses (this might also be why the mix wasn’t thin enough to spread on the chicken at first.

Recognizing this error I went with Skipkenny Whiskey BBQ sauce for the “added to what was left” sauce.  

The finished product

I modified the book recipe like crazy. The original recipe called for onion salt, which is essentially some onion powder mixed with a lot of salt. I don't do salt. (The barbecue sauces had more than enough anyway). My really thorough Google research indicated that onion salt was about 3/4 salt and 1/4 onion powder. So 1 tsp of onion salt became 1/4 tsp of onion powder.

Bon appetit!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Four before my feet hit the floor - how I start my day

What do you do when you wake up? 

If you're like me you go one of two directions:

1. Hit the snooze button, or

2. Think "Oh Schitt's Creek. I'm late." And immediately the rush is on. 

(By the way, those two are NOT mutually exclusive).

But what if you spent the first five minutes of your day - while still in bed - paving the way to a great day?

I use an acronym to help me remember: PAVE. This is how I "PAVE" the way to a great day.

P - Prayer: 

The first thing I want to do is express gratitude. The act of praying and saying "Here is what I'm grateful for" puts me in the right mindset for the day. 

When it comes to gratitude I have my "usual suspects": My wife, my sons, my family and extended family, our dogs, dogs in general, my job, our house, coffee, and so on.

It doesn't really matter what I list in my prayer of gratitude. It doesn't even matter if it's a prayer or not. What does matter is I start the day with one minute of gratitude. And I've learned (through experience and science) that how you start the day makes a huge difference.

(Note if you prefer to just categorize this one as "Gratitude" it still works. The acronym just becomes "GAVE" and you say "I GAVE myself the best shot of having a great day").

A - Affirmations:

So yeah, the first time I heard "Affirmations" I immediately thought of Stuart Smalley.  But that thought aside, affirmations will help you start the day on the right foot. I have a list of affirmations from Craig Groschel. Again, it's faith based, but the one I say in the morning is just a good affirmation:

"Today I will bring my best and then some. It's what I bring after I do my best that makes a difference."

Just saying that and thinking about it for maybe five seconds gets me fired up.

V - Visualization:

This can take one of two formats: Long term or short term. Or, if it's a cold morning and the dog is snuggled up next to me, maybe both.

Long term: I visualize accomplishing one of my vision board goals.

E - Energize:

Technically this one could be called breathing, but PAVB isn't a word.

Five deep breaths - Four seconds in, eight seconds out. One minute in total. 

With each one I stretch my legs, my arms and my back.

I count backwards. This serves as a countdown.

When I get to zero, it's time to blast off. And as soon as I get up our three hungry dogs help to make sure I'm at the point of no return.