Sunday, July 25, 2010

A day for the chefs

How did we celebrate Culinarians Day? By eating lunch at Del Taco.

Just kidding. We did eat lunch there, but the true celebration was in diner. I busted out my creative culinary side and cooked up some cheesy stuffed burgers.

You can read about it (and get my recipe HERE).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cooling off

I've mentioned it once or twice before, but it bears repeating: my body hates summer. Therefore, my favorite summer activity is finding ways to beat the heat. Today, I flexed my heat beating muscles and whipped that summer swelter into submission.

I employed four different strategies to chill out today. The following are my tips to survive the summer warmth in relative comfort.

1. Sprinklers. Soak the lawn and the body in one shot. You stay cool while the grass stays green.

2. Ice water. Large quantities in plentiful supply.

3. Movie theaters. I would be willing to bet that your local theater is statistically the most air-conditioned building in town. I have no data to back up that assumption, only experiential observations. (my father-in-law and I watched Inception this afternoon, and the theater was chilled to perfection. You can read my review HERE)

4. The beach. Taking a dunk in one of North Idaho's lakes allows you to enjoy the best of two worlds. You're able to relax outside in the sunshine soaking up your daily dose of vitamin d, yet you're also able to remain refreshingly cool and sweat free.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer cooking

The local Infant Toddler Program hosted a picnic/barbeque last night at Ramsey Park for families with kids in their program. Despite a couple brief spurts of rain, it was the perfect day to get the kids outside.

They provided all the food and drink.

They also offered some activities for the kids: bubbles, a water table, and books to give away. Zu spent her time like a nervous squirrel, running from the park’s playground to the picnic table to sneak a quick bite from her burger, then off to the water table, and back to the playground – never spending more than a couple minutes in any location. Christian was preoccupied with the bubbles until he found the water table. From there, he obsessed over filling the toy watering pot to water the park’s trees. All of them.

JJ wandered the park and braved the spiral slide, but his fascination focused on a long board one of the other parents brought.
He could not resist climbing onto the board (the board’s owner gave permission) and would not dismount willingly. I think we have a future skater in our family.

We’re heading to a friend’s house this evening for another barbeque. As much as my body despises summer, I am enjoying this lovely outdoor cooking weather.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

All you can eat

Ah… Junk Food Day. It’s the gluttonous celebrate all that is salty and/or sweet in glorious excess. It is a day to indulge in whatever horrific and unhealthy pile of crap your creative hunger can imagine.

I indulged.

The ever-resent and hideously disgusting McDonald’s for lunch.
And delicious dissolve in your mouth chocolate chip pancakes for dinner.

To my credit, I had a weight loss shake for breakfast.

But isn’t observing a day of junk food counterintuitive for someone trying to lose weight? Probably, but it’s like my mom always said* “go big or go home.” I can slaughter myself at the gym tomorrow.

* Actually, I’m fairly certain my mom has never uttered that phrase.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I would be a horrible Jew

It's a good thing my parents were not Jewish. Too much fasting and I enjoy my food too much to give it up that often. By my count, there are two major fast days and five minor fasts in the Jewish year. Since I did not grow up in their culture, my counting could be off by a couple dozen.

Why do I bring this up now? Today is one of those major fasts. It is Tisha B'Av - or the ninth of Av.

This is a day of mourning and remembrance as tradition holds both the first temple and the second temple in Jerusalem were destroyed on this day (separated by over 650 years). Jews observe this day as the saddest day in their history. It is a day that is punctuated with wailing and deep lament. And fasting.

As Jewish holidays start at sunset the preceding day and end at night fall, my efforts to observe Tisha B'Av started last night. It's been a long time since I last fasted, and in this respect I would make a horrible Jew. And by 'horrible' I mean 'unsuccessful in every respect.' When Jews fast, they abstain from both food and beverage. I think that's insane (no disrespect intended). I can hold off the food, but the thirst is overwhelming. I've had much water today, but I've managed to avoid edible products. It would be an understatement to say that I'm hungry. I can't wait for sunset.

I'm not fully able to embrace the mourning and sadness over the temple's destruction. In my own personal faith I believe that we've been promised a new Jerusalem and that I am God's temple. However, there is one tradition that I can get into. Every year, on the ninth of Av, the book of Lamentations is read aloud in synagogues as it is Jeremiah's testimony of the first temple's destruction. It's my favorite book in the Bible - it's showing us that it is acceptable to express grief and sorrow.

For two and a half chapters, Jeremiah complains about how his life is miserable. Then in the midst of all that hurt, he says something amazing:

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.*

That, for me, is the meaning in Tisha B'Av. No matter what hurts, there is hope. But for now, I'm hungry and the sun has almost sunk below the horizon.

* Regardless of your beliefs, you should read the third chapter of Lamentations. It's amazing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A few things

I've made a few observations over the past couple of weeks that may shed some light over the absence of daily posts here.

1. Do you know what is more difficult than celebrating something every day? Writing about it. The written word is missing in action, but that's not to say there hasn't been action. Work-a-holics day, picnic day, Christian is off to his first camping trip, and I'm looking forward to a date night with my lovely wife tonight.

2. There may be a culprit to the case of why I'm not writing. I've been suffering from a severe lack of motivation. Every time I sit down at my computer, the last thing I want to do is write. This may be a result of writing reports all day at work or my ADD tenancies, but if I was a betting man, I would put my money on the latter.

3. My mind wants to like summer, but my body does not agree. There is a war going on: my id versus bone and marrow. My will longs for a day on the beach and fishing trips, but my skin craves air conditioning. However, there is one holiday that both my spirit and my flesh can agree on - National Ice Cream Day. (third Sunday in July - that's tomorrow!)

Furthermore, it is a challenge to observe Work-a-holics day on the day after a federal holiday - especially if that federal holiday falls on a Sunday and the rest of the civilized world assumes your office is closed the following Monday.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The day in which we blow up explosive materials

Do you know when the United States gained it's independence? Or from whom? If you can answer yes to those two questions, you're ahead of 26% of US residents polled by Marist.

That sad statistic makes me wonder how many see the fourth of July as Independence Day, or view it as the American excuse to blow stuff up.

Either way, if you celebrated the American tradition in honor of our bloody independence or in the new American way of being destructive (with flare) for the sole purpose of bright lights and loud noises, I hope you all returned to your homes safe and with all body parts in tact.

I also hope you had as much fun as the Casey family.

Now I just need to get all that smoke out of my eyes.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fresh Starts

Can I just say that the month of June sucks? Or do I have to admit that I sucked at the month of June?

First, the natural calendar is devoid of holidays (with the brave exception of Father's Day) or any rational cause for scheduled celebration. There is Red Rose Day on the 12th, and since then I've been idle.

June was a rough month. I've had a difficult time being (or even getting) excited about anything. My home life has been stressful with my son's transition out of school, my professional life has been as hectic as a mosh pit at a country music concert, and I've been suffering from a serious motivational drought.

But enough with the excuses.

It's July first. And while I'm at it, happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends. It's a good day for a fresh start. Time to get back in the saddle. Time to think like Billy Corgan and say that today is the greatest day I've ever known. I can not testify to the veracity of that last statement, but if I say it enough, I might actually believe it.

This is going to be a good month, I can feel it. July's calendar is packed with celebratory goodness. In a few days, we get to celebrate America's independence from those crazy Brits. As the month progresses we'll enjoy days like National Fried Chicken Day, Vanilla Ice Cream Day, and my personal favorite - Embrace Your Geekness Day.

July is also National Hot Dog Month and National Blueberry Month (both are occasions I can wholeheartedly support). However the second week of the month is Nude Recreation Week; don't expect any naked recreating from this blogger.

I'll leave you with one final thought: today is also Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day. Before you crash for the night, indulge yourself in a nice scoop of fried eggplant ice cream. Or Dracula cool garlic mint ice cream. Or perhaps bay leaf ice cream (tastes like eucalyptus).