Neoprene Sleeve

My iPhone doesn’t have a case. Never has. Never will. I like to keep it in my front pocket or back pocket (or any pocket). The problem with that is, something will scratch it. Maybe the keys. Maybe the denim on my jeans. Maybe small bits of sand or dust that, when you sit on an unprotected phone in your pocket, will scratch the screen.

I’m not the only person with that problem and I’m not the only person who thinks the iPhone shouldn’t have a case. The iPhone is beautifully designed. It is thin. A case takes a beautiful, thin iPhone and basically turns it into a VHS tape.

I found a neoprene pocket liner that allows me to slip my phone into my pocket, and it doesn’t matter if that pocket has coins, lint, sand, or my keys in it …the phone is safe inside it’s neoprene sleeping bag, if you will.

It’s brilliant. I know it. And I know exactly who will laugh at me about it. And I don’t care.

EXERCISE, TWO YEARS LATER

run with raven

Does anyone remember two years ago when I started kicking my own butt? It was called “Project 44” and I was exercising in multiples (or factors) of 44 in the run-up to my 44th birthday (or was I 44 years old and there were 44 days until the end of the year …I can’t remember).

I’m at it again. It’s not like I’m a big, fat slob …but I’ve been walking-only …most days …sometimes for a half-hour and sometimes for 15-minutes.

But I started reading a book called Brain Body Diet and like all weight loss books (or brain health books, it suggests exercise is good for the brain …and health …and weight loss …and cholesterol …it’s like exercise is good for everything. *sigh*

Then, Nick Garcia sent me an email about the Darren Hardy #RavenRun challenge and basically bullied me into get moving, so here I am. Just finished my 3rd straight day of #PowerWalking and then, today, I added Work Out with My Teenage Son (which could also be known as “Come to Terms with My Declining Ability Due to My Age”). We went to a large hill by our house. I walked/jogged up and down two times (taking a break at the top and bottom to cry and fake an injury …and do 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, and 10 burpees) while he bounded like a gazelle up and down three times, stopping at the top and bottom to scream, do jumping jacks, many more push-ups than I did …pretty much rubbing my face in it and hurting my pride.

Doctors say exercise is good for you …and all I gotta say is it had better be.

 

Brain Body Diet

Started reading this book, Brain Body Diet by Sara Gottfried, MD,  and quickly realize it was written by a woman for women, and yet, I know there’s got to be some good advice in here. I’m stubborn. I refuse to admit I’m reading a book for women and I’m simply going to leave the estrogen and lady-stuff on the side, and take the universal truths out of the book. For example, in the first steps fo the 40-day journey to a better brain and body, the steps toward success are (1) eat vegetables to lighten the load on your liver, (2) take brain botanicals like berberine and curcumin, (3) exercise to the point of sweating and heavy breathing, (4) detox your home environment, and (5) use supplements to begin reducing toxin levels in your body.

There’s a bunch more steps after that, but all five of those seem unisex and apply to everyone.

Happy to report after two days of intense power-walking, maybe it’s my imagination, but the things I was stressing about seem a little less stress-inducing.

Can a man wear yoga pants?

This book promises that in 40-days, I’m going to be transformed. We’ll see.

Smoothie

This can be the greatest, most energizing, most detoxifying, most amazing smoothie you’ll ever have or you’ll hate it.  You won’t find it at Tropical Smoothie Cafe or Beyond Juice because those places need their smoothies to taste good. Mine is not horrible, but it ain’t a dessert by any means. It’s a massive injection of good food.

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • handful of blueberries
  • handful of black or red raspberries
  • half a banana
  • 1 TBLS chia seeds
  • 2 or 3 slices of apple (with skin)
  • 2 strawberries
  • handful of leaf spinach
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 carrot
  • Optional: half-scoop of Green Vibrance

Throw all this into a Vitamix (I’ve never met a blender that will liquify this) and go!  Add some water if it’s too thick.

Energy. Energy. Brain power. Helps your eyesight. Fights off brain fog.

Recipe: Donnie Jalapeno Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros is a classic Mexican breakfast, but I think it can be lunch or dinner, too. Traditionally, it’s two fried-eggs smothered in salsa poured onto a tortilla. Oh, and I know scrambled eggs with salsa is technically Huevos a la Mexicana, but does anyone really know that? I’m just gonna call it Huevos Rancheros (and if you want to add “con Carne” to indicate there’s meat). Crap. So I guess this recipe is really Huevos a al Mexicana con Carne, but I really just wanna call it Huevos Rancheros.

Here’s how I do it.

  • (2) eggs
  • 1/2 Cup browned ground beef or turkey (add a few sprinkles of taco seasoning if you like, but it’s not necessary)
  • (3) Tablespoons of Donnie Jalapeno Salsa

I don’t use a tortilla. Who needs those carbs? For more recipes, click here.

Step 1: Put pre-cooked meat in a pan and heat for a minute or two over medium heat

Step 2: Add (3) Tbls of Donnie Jalapeno Salsa and keep everything over medium heat for another minute or two

Step 3: Add (2) eggs. If you want them friend and runny, move the meat/salsa mix to the side and let the eggs sit right on the pan’s surface. I personally scramble mine right into the meat/salsa mix.

Step 4: Cook until the eggs are all fully cooked. Slide onto a plate.

Pro Tips:

  • brown a pound of ground beef (or turkey) on Sunday night (with a little taco seasoning) so you can quickly make this during the week
  • make double or triple this recipe and save the leftovers for another helping that can be easily microwaved (but it takes away from the freshness of the salsa)

Voila! Lunch is served.

Bought a Car

“So you want to be a rap superstar
And live large a big house 
5 cars, you’re in charge
Comin’ up in the world 
Don’t trust nobody
Gotta look over your shoulder constantly.”  -Cypress Hill

This is bragging in one way or another. Either I’m bragging because I bought a car for cash. Bam. Found it. Wanted it. Bought it. Cuz I got that kinda cash lying around. Or I’m bragging because I’m suddenly incredibly fiscally responsible and I’m not like all those people caught up in material things and a car, to me, is just four tires and a motor that gets you from one place to another.

I like to go with the second “brag.” Oh. This car? Your Tesla? That Porsche over there? To me, they’re all the same. What do I care if a car has leather? Or working shock absorbers? Or electric windows? Or Bluetooth? Or an automatic transmission?

Yawn. A car’s a car.

OK. Truth. When I bought this thing, as a third car, and I was driving it home, there was a small part of me that felt like the world had won, and I had lost. No, I’m not saying I need a Bentley or a Yukon Denali to help me sleep at night, but I have grown fond of USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity over the past 7 years in my Chrysler minivan, my GMC Terrain, and now my Buick …and this 2005 Chevy Aveo definitely does not have any of those amenities.

But it’s OK. It’s like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. With a little love. Gentle driving. A washing, vacuuming, and detailing …it’s not such a bad little car.

I washed it. I vacuumed it. I really detailed it. Cleaned the windows. Sprayed liquid silicone (actually Lemon Pledge if you wanna know my secret) on all the rubber weather stripping. Scrubbed the floor mats. Added some hubcaps. And ya know what? I’m not lying. It’s not such a bad little car.

My daughter actually wanted to learn to drive it (it’s stick shift if you didn’t figure that out already) and she figured it out on the first try. Didn’t stall it even once.

Now I have this twisted mission that I’m going to drive it for another 6 or 7 years and it will be the 3rd car when I have two drivers in my house, and maybe it will make it until my youngest is a licensed driver in four years from now. And all my kids will learn to drive stick. And we’ll have many laughs over “Dad’s insane car purchase.” And I don’t care what happens to it, or if my son adds a stereo system worth more than the car itself, or if they paint flames on the side. It could be kinda fun.

Anyway, just to recap. I’m enlightened because I don’t care how much my car costs (even though I totally do). A car isn’t a status symbol (even though this car puts me in the fiscally responsible status). I paid cash (though not much).

One last thing – I took it to my mechanic after I had already made the purchase. My mechanic really wanted to see it before I bought it, but the seller was like, “do you see what I’m asking? No. I’m not driving it 30 miles to your mechanic who will point out all the things I already know are wrong with it.”  I took a chance and my mechanic said, “you did not waste your money. Don’t take it on the highway or anywhere that you can’t get a cheap Uber back to your house if it dies. I’ll buy it from you when you don’t want it anymore.”

That’s a seal of approval if I’ve ever heard one. Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Li’l Blue.

I bought a car but got a treasure chest - look at all this amazing stuff

My Mom

Thought I would use Mother’s Day and my random Blog to talk about my Mom. Was she the best-Mom-ever? I’ve always thought she was, but to truly figure it out, we would need a panel discussion, surveys, data analysis, and an independent review board, ideally made-up of individuals who never had mothers of their own so no cultural or socioeconomic bias comes into play. I think there would have to be 50 or more criteria ranging from cooking skills, discipline tactics, and final results (what their children become when they grow up) and it would take years and years to truly figure out World’s-Best-Mom and …

I’ll bottom line it. My Mom was really good. I think she would rank high if such a study was ever done. And I think determining Best-Mom-Ever would  have to be like the ACT or SAT, where someone might excel in Math and Science and that helps that someone with other topics they struggle with, like Reading Comprehension or Verbal stuff.

However, I’d like to share four things that, I believe, would’ve gotten my Mom into the 95th percentile or higher and she would’ve qualified for all sorts of scholarships and financial aid and …oh …lost my train of thought.

Here are four things that made Mary Lou (that’s my Mom’s name for new readers) exceptional…

BED MAKING – Growing up, my favorite day of the week was the day the beds were stripped, washed, and made fresh. Our beds, on those nights, were a work of art. Mom actually provided turn-down service and folded the bedding back – it was only missing a mint on the pillow. Sheet, blanket, and comforter would all be folded back together, perfectly square, and Mom never made a bed without the sheets even on both sides of the bed, and hospital corners. To this day, I never start my day without making my bed perfectly because, in my mind, a well-made bed gives a solid foundation and start to any day, and then how nice to be greeted at night by a bed worthy of the world’s finest hotels? A bedroom should feel like a retreat or a place to get away, and it all starts with a made bed.

FOLDING LAUNDRY – My Mom was in the top 1% of all laundry folders on the planet. Yes. There exists a one, true, best way to fold towels and t-shirts, and my Mom knew the technique. For towels, well, all laundry, it should be folded while still-warm and fresh outta the dryer. This will keep everything as close to wrinkle-free as possible. For a towel, you must whip-it really strong two or three times. Then, fold it in half the long way. Whip-it again. Grab the corners, fold it in half the opposite way. Whip again. Then fold in half one more time and you’ll have a square. For t-shirts, whip-it 2 or 3 times while holding onto the corners of the shoulders. Fold it so the shoulders meet and the shirt looks like a hatchet shape. Fold the sleeve to meet the shoulders. Now fold the neck and shoulders to meet the bottom of the shirt. It should be a square shape and it will look perfect when you unfold it and wear it some time down the road. This is it. The only and proper way to fold towels and shirts. I shot this video so you can know, too.

ALWAYS SAY ‘YES’ TO AN INVITATION – People loved my Mom at a party. She was “the life of the party” wherever she went. No, she wasn’t leading the congo line, wasn’t drunk and crazy, but she was there. She showed up. She danced (if there was dancing), she talked to everyone, and I don’t remember her ever coming home from a wedding reception, birthday party, work party …anything, really …without saying she had a “wonderful time.” But her rule was this …if someone thinks enough of you to invite you to a party, you should go. She said, “they don’t invite you because they feel like they should or feel obligated. But they most likely invite you because they like you, like being around you, and they know their party will be more fun if you’re there.” It didn’t make alotta sense to me when I was a teenager and in my 20s, but as I get older, I now know what she was talking about. Sometimes I’ve been invited to something and I might’ve thought, “crap, that was the weekend I was going to wash my deck,” or, “who gets married Labor Day weekend!?!?! Dang it. I like to go Up North and fish and drink beer around the campfire.” But then my Mom in heaven whispers a reminder in my year …”you were invited because they love you. Go to the party! Fishing, beer, and campfires will be there, but people only get married once.”

Oh, and when you do go to the party, even if slightly against your will …have a good time. Make it a good time. Make people smile. Help make the event as amazing as it can be for your friend or family member that invited you.

And finally …and this deserves more than four sentences …this is what my Mom did that qualifies her for Greatest Mom Ever.

MY MOM MADE MY DAD A GREAT MAN – I hear things about my Dad and I don’t believe them. I hear he was a trouble maker, drank, smoked, and wasn’t a great student because he wasn’t a hard worker. When I think back on my 45 years, I don’t know that guy. I only know my Dad to be a hard worker – the hardest worker. 50, 60, and 70 hours weeks in a factory (sometimes 120 degrees in the summer) for 37 years. I’ve never seen him with a drink or cigarette in his hand. And I never saw him treat my Mom any other way than with love and commitment. Sure, they had their arguments, but it never lasted longer (think of fights siblings might have …you get over it). There’s a tale to tell about how my Dad changed, when he changed, and why he changed …and I think his grandkids should know. I recently told my son and my son was shocked. Just a side note …I told my son about my own youthful indiscretions, and about his Grandpa, because I wanted him to know the 74-year-old Grandpa and his 45-year-old Father …we aren’t perfect, and certainly weren’t perfect, but life is a continual journey towards perfection. Thank goodness the guy I was at 16, 17, 20, and 21-years-old wasn’t the best I would ever be.

Yes. Mom made my Dad a better version of himself. And because of that, I can follow his lead, learn from the amazing things he did and does, and from the mistakes he made. That started with my Mom.

My hope, and my belief, is that the true measure of Moms aren’t about their cooking, hugs, and ability to pick out the exact right gift at birthday and Christmas because they listen so well and know us so well, but for their constant and subtle prodding and pushing to make us all better people.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Miss you every day.

 

The Lawn

As Annie Lennox sang, “here comes the rain again,” and for a guy who obsesses about his lawn, and who has two neighbors with yards higher than my yard, and another guy who does zero lawn maintenance, my backyard is still smushy and muddy from all this rain. But I’m a soldier. I’m like Captain America, but for my lawn. I battle water and then, in July, I battle drought. But right now, I’m battling water and mud.

Beginning in late March, I applied a pre-emergent weed preventer to the entire lawn and Preen to all the beds. In another area, I cheated and got some of that Scott’s super seed mix that “grows anywhere” and fixed all the bare spots, and then in late April I put down a mix of lyme, gypsum, and lawn food …and then did that again two weeks later.

But the super sexy thing is my fire pit area that, two years ago, was a sandbox and swingset and some pavers. It was a glorious playground for my young kids but when they got too old for it, well, it became a fire pit. My dream was for this fire pit to be surrounded by grass so beautiful I could walk around barefoot and …well …I’ve done it.

I will announce all nights I’m having a fire. I always have a fridge full of beer. I hope you’ll join me around my fire pit.

Scott’s super seed mix fixed all the winter damage

Three HILARIOUS Things

Sometimes I pop outta bed at 4:45 a.m. and brew my coffee (via Aeropress) and I plan to get alotta stuff done. And then sometimes, I don’t.

Like this morning. I checked Facebook and Twitter and came across these and I laughed and laughed …and laughed. So I had to share. That’s it. I’m not pushing you to buy my salsa, not sharing my “I Love Don Week” Wish List, not talking about coffee …nope. I’m just curiating quality humor. If you’re here, you might be saying, “Don! This is sooooooooo 2014.”

To that, I say, whatevs. I’m a middle-aged father-of-three …it’s my job to be a little outta step and late to the party. But I have a friend who’s a DJ, so that’s gotta count for something.