Rory’s Graduation Dinner!

Our 12-year-old Rory has “graduated” from elementary school (Grade 7 here in BC) and will be going on to High School next year. We are extraordinarily proud of him (Honour Roll Student four years in a row!) and wanted to do something special for his last day.

I started us off with a little Boccini, Tomato, and Basil appetizer drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar:

Followed by pseudo Tuscan Pasta salad with Bison Meatballs:

And finished with an utterly decadent Dark Molasses Gingerbread Cake with Extra-Creamy Cooked Cream Cheese Icing:

Friday will be his first day off of school for the summer so Melissa and I will surprise him tomorrow morning when he wakes up with a banner, balloons, and Silly String. 🙂

I gotta say – I am *rocking* this whole stepfather thing!

Help building a Bench

I am almost completely incompetent when it comes to using tools or mechanical things. They are skills I never learned and don’t innately have. So when Melissa suggested we use the old wood we have in the yard to build a bench out of cinder blocks, I knew it would be a challenge. But we’ve had fun so far! The next step is where I need help.

We have this “artisanal, reclaimed wood” in the yard. It’s just old lengths of 2×4 and 4×4. Some of it was rotting at the ends so I chainsawed off the rotting bits and we roughly put together what we’d like to see in the benches. Next step is gluing everything down. Problem is, the old wood wasn’t taken care of. It’s not been treated, painted or stained. I was thinking we’d have to plane it down on all four sides then sand it, paint or stain it and maybe urethane it. Is that the right way to go about it?

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What would you suggest to do about the ends? Just treat/paint/stain or smooth them off first?

Any advice/help would be greatly appreciated.

Rage Against the Machine (first time reaction)

I saw this tweet this morning:

So I check out the video. Now, Rage Against the Machine is one of my Top Five favourite bands and their debut album (iTunes affiliate link) is one of the greatest I’ve ever heard. If you’re on Spotify, you can listen to it here.

Do you remember the first time you heard a truly powerful album? I bet you didn’t have a camera recording your reaction. I’m jealous of this guy. He gets to experience this album for the first time and his reaction and joy and excitement and surprise is contagious and wonderful to see. I haven’t felt that way about new music in a very long time.

I’m listening to the album again right now. On repeat. AS LOUD AS I CAN MAKE IT.

Last Night’s Dinner

If you know me, you know I’ve discovered a love of cooking (short version, reminds me of my mom). So I’ve been using a great app on iOS called AnyList (affiliate link). It’s also available via the web at Anylist.com.

The app lets me collect recipes I find on the web (at last count, I’ve got over *1,300* recipes in the app!) and create shopping lists. It does a LOT more so check it out yourself.

The key to all my recipes has been simplicity. I don’t want to cook anything complicated or requires hours to prepare. So it makes cooking a lot of fun.

Now that I’m married and the cook of the family, I’m branching out from making just my faves and instead trying to find stuff that myself, two boys and my lovely wife would also like. Last night, I made my best meal ever!

Using my fantastic 6 Qt 8-in-1 Multi-Use Express Crock (affiliate link), I first made Sweet and Tangy Slow Cooker Brisket. I’ve never made anything from a brisket before so I bought a small one. But it came out so well, I’ll buy the biggest one I can afford next time!

Alongside the brisket, I made Buffalo Cauliflower. It came out really tasty and was a nice change up from boring old cauliflower. I also made Garlicky Red Potatoes. They weren’t as garlicky as I’d hoped but they were still delicious.

This was the first time I’d tried to make three different things simultaneously. The Crockpot really helped because the slow cooker function meant I didn’t have to rush and the cauliflower and potatoes need similar temps and times to cook so I threw them all into the oven at the same time.

Best part is the brisket recipe has a *lot* of leftover sauce so tonight, I’ll make brown rice (again, really easily in the crockpot), throw it into the sauce, roast some Italian sausage and vegetables and make cornbread (SO GOOD!).

If there’s anyone who thinks they can’t cook (I’m looking at a lot of you guys out there), let me know and I’ll show you some recipes that are ridiculously easy to make!

Good Bye Old Couch


It’s completely ridiculous but today, I’m a little sad and wistful.

After I moved to Nashville, TN from Vancouver, I found a nice little apartment. But it had no furniture. So, for the first time in my life, I went furniture shopping on my own.

I found this wonderful leather couch and loveseat combination. I loved the couch – its design, the suppleness of the leather, its length (I could lay down on it without body parts hanging off either end!), its depth, its softness, all of it. I was very proud of myself for striking a good deal with the sales guy and was very excited when it was delivered.

That couch remained with me for the next 16 years. It is the oldest object I own. Through twelve subsequent moves – eight different towns, two countries, four states and two provinces, that couch was there for me every day to rest on, watch TV on, eat on, talk on.

When I moved to Gibsons, we assumed the couch would join us. Sadly, the place I moved to has doors too narrow and windows too sealed to fit through. We tried and tried but it simply wouldn’t fit in the house. We thought we might be able to give it to a friend but they didn’t want it. In hindsight, I should have sold it while I was still in Vancouver.

So it’s been sitting on the deck for the past four months, getting moldy, rained on and neglected. Finally, we decided it had to go and today, we dismantled it and took it to the dump.

Except for a few cat scratch marks, that couch looked as good as the day I bought it. Even though I sat in the exact same end of it every day for 16 years, it showed no sign of age, sagging or collapse. The leather aged only slightly and even then, remarkably well. As we took it apart, we marveled at its inner workmanship. There were straps and connectors and bolts and all manner of carpentry inside to ensure it would last a lifetime.

Sadly, it didn’t. And I honestly feel bad that, in the end, I treated it so poorly. It deserved a better fate than to be destroyed and taken to the dump.

I’ll miss that couch.

Shot of the Day

I was dreading taking the Olympus M1 to Australia with me instead of my beloved Nikon d600. I’ve never used the M1 on a regular basis and I’m unfamiliar with its controls. I know the D600 like the back of my hand and it’s a big, comfortable camera for me.

But the combination of the iPhone X (which takes some pretty damn good shots) and the M1 has been enough to not pine for the big D600…..much…. 🙂