Weekend At The Park

The park, aka my brother’s backyard:

https://bacontime.wordpress.com/2017/09/17/another-day-in-the-park/

https://bacontime.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/sunday-afternoon-in-the-park/

Sadly, this was not a fun day, but a work day.

There is a crick that runs between my brother’s property and our dad’s.

They buried about 500 feet of it and we needed to build a head wall to contain high run off.

Oh, what’s a “crick?”

A crick is a small body of water between the size of a creek and a garden hose.

This crick a hundred years ago had a dam built across it to be able to hold water for making ice for the ice house on the farm.

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My job for the day was just mixing the concrete.  Not a difficult task at all.

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We started at 8 am this is how far we got by about 10 am.  My brother thought we would be done by 11.  My dad had to make a run to the hardware store for more concrete so we are doing a little prep work for the right side wall.

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Mini Ho in action.

My brother works for a plumbing company and has access to all sorts of really cool equipment.

 

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ALL FINISHED !!

But, we were not finished by 11 am. This was a freak weather day for September 23rd in northern Illinois.  It was 90 degrees and 80% humidity by 10 am and none of us could go past noon.  So we started again the next morning at 8 am and we finished up by 10 am.

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A little fine tuning with the tractor.

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Almost done.  Some grass seeding and it will be great.

Story.

I am fairly embarrassed to admit that I failed miserably on that Saturday of work.

By 10:30 am I literally felt like I was going to collapse from fatigue.

One of the problems was that I skipped breakfast.  Another problem is that apparently I’m not 30 years old and in tremendous physical shape.

Going way back to when I was 30.

I used to work construction until I blew my back out and couldn’t do that work anymore.

The center fielder on our softball team was a couple of years older than me and I remember one game night he showed up and said, “Man am I tired.”

His job was being a buyer for a major department store so all he did all day was sit at a desk and make phone calls.

I told him this was my day:

Up at 5 am, physical labor until 3 pm, home by 4 pm,eat, go to the gym and then play two games of softball and I would be glad to play two more games every night.

Man, those days are long gone !!

 

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Rain Barrel

My wife has always wanted a rain barrel and she finally got around to putting the effort in to purchase one.

She purchased the rain barrel from The Conservation Foundation:

http://www.theconservationfoundation.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=247&Itemid=200106

It was about $60 and from what I was told, it had been used originally to import olives.

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So this is where the rain barrel is going to be located.  There are two downspouts on the garage. (the other is in the backyard.)  Every decorative rock in my yard was brought there by me.  The picture does not show it very well but most of the rocks shown are blueish in color.  That’s my favorite rock color.  I do not know what kind of rocks they are because I really did not pay attention in Geology class in college !!  I also make things out of concrete and the bowl there is one that I made.  It is there for a birdbath and we get plenty of birds in our yards using the plethora of bird baths I made.

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Step 1:  Remove the rocks.  I have other spots in the yard where they can be used.

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Step 2:  Excavation and forming.  Not too much to it, dig a hole !

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Step 3:  CONCRETE DAY !!!  When I worked construction years ago, concrete days were the best days.  I forget how many bags of Quickcrete I mixed up but mixing and finishing only took about an hour.

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Step 4:  Strip the forms and a little landscaping.  I let the concrete cure for a couple of days and had the finished concrete covered with a small piece of plywood so the rain wouldn’t erode the newly finished concrete.

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Step 5:  Place the rain barrel.  It is placed on a platform about 12 inches high to get the watering can underneath it easily.

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I had to do a little work on the downspout.  There is a nice screen on the ingress of the rain barrel to keep out debris and insects.  We shouldn’t have any concern about stagnant water and mosquito larvae !!

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I had a piece of old damaged 5/8 inch garden hose that I cut for the overflow.

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This is the “Rain barrel” that I’ve had in the backyard for a number of years.  The yellow bucket is normally next to the black one to hold the overflow.

 

Bacon Vacation 2016 !!

Yes, this was from July/August 2016 !!

 

This was another unusual year in that I again took two consecutive weeks of vacation. And thank God that I did !!! We were in the middle of a project at work that without a doubt was/is/will be the worst assignment I have ever had with this company. The timing of my vacation ensured that I would not be involved in the last two weeks of the project.
The first week of vacation we would be at home and so I took a lot of frozen meat out of the freezer to cook during the week and use that as an opportunity to clean out the freezer a bit.

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Mmmmmm, frozen meat.
Now the bad part is that my brother had a graduation party for his son and daughter and there was a bit of leftover, uncooked hamburger that was sent home with me. So along with the above frozen meat, I now had an extra 12 hamburgers to cook and eat for the week. And to compound the overmeatage situation, my daughter ended up being gone with a cousin for four days of that week.  But I did manage !!

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The previous year when we went to New Bern, NC, we  (I mean me) drove straight through.  That was way too much driving and this time I bit the bullet and stayed at a hotel coming and going.  I don’t like adding an extra $200 and two days to the trip but had to do it.

We stayed at a nice place in New Bern and the town itself was great for food and walking around in, but it was an hour each way everyday to get to the beach.  Not a big deal but it did put limits on being able to be more spontaneous and such.  So I decided that regardless of what the extra cost would be, we were going to stay on the island and be closer to the beach.   It didn’t take long to figure out that there were some nice places to stay, but most were designed for large family’s or groups.  When dividing the cost per family, it’s very reasonable (even for a cheap bastard like myself.)  Soooooooooooooooooo I had the idea to suggest to the wife that we have her brother’s family in DC and her parents meet use on the island for a family vacation.

I knew well ahead of time that there could be a great downside to that idea.

We ended up with:

Mother in law

Father in law

brother in law

sister in law

nephew

Aunt

Along with the three of this us.

It wasn’t without difficulties, but it wasn’t too bad !!

I hundreds of pictures of our beach trips but most of them are about the same so I’ll just post a few:

 

 

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Food:

On vacations, I usually don’t eat more than one meal a day.  This year because we were with the rest of the family, we mostly bought groceries and made dinners at our beach house.  But we did eat out a couple of times when we were far from the beach house our just to dang tired to cook.

The year before we ate at “Howard’s Pub” on Ocracoke Island and we did the same this year.

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I ordered the “Po Boy.”  Just like last year’s lunch here, it was great !  Very fresh and not at all greasy.

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Shocking but my daughter ordered the chicken tenders.

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The wife ordered a crab cake sandwich.  Big chucks of crab.  Yummo.

Bros Sandwich Shack:

It was around  2 pm one afternoon and we were coming back from somewhere we decided to get a sandwich at Bros which was about a mile away from where the beach house was.

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Those were both $10 sandwiches. The service was very slow and the sandwiches were “meh.”  Doubt I would recommend it or go there again.

Bojangles:

On the trip last year and this year, once we got to the West Virginia area, I saw a lot of billboards for “Bojangles.”  We didn’t stop last year but did this year on our return trip going through Princeton, WV.

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I got the “Roasted Chicken Bites.”   Dang, they were OK but for some reason I thought they were going to be BBQ.  But, the biscuit?????  FANTASTIC !!!!   I could have an entire meal of just the biscuits.

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The wife and daughter both got the chicken tenders.  There are very few times when eating at a fast food chain that you can actually say “WOW!!” when you eat something.  But by an agreement with all of us, these were literally the best chicken tenders we had ever eaten.

Activities:

Of course finding sea glass was on the agenda at all times.  More was found this year than last year but there still was not a lot found.  This was the best piece found:

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The Sister-in-Law found a DNR program that let people seine in the Pamlico Sound and they explained what we caught.

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Pamlico Sound is very warm and shallow.  There’s a good chance that you could walk from Hatteras to the mainland.  It’s a great place for spawning water life.

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Here the wife and daughter are seining critters.

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The marine biologist student explains what was caught.  She looked at me funny when I asked if there was any drawn butter.

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My daughter and her cousin out trying to catch more.

Things we brought home:

What’s a family vacation if you don’t bring home some crap??!!??

Actually we didn’t bring much home with us.

The Hatteras Island chain has more tourist trap stores full of chintzy spoo than anywhere else except the Wisconsin Dells !

Some bacon related Examples:

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Does everyone have a crazy cat lady in their life?

 

 

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A couple of great six packs.  These were each $10.99.  On the high end but really good beer.

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One of the best souvenir places we stopped at was “Scotch Bonnet.”

They had some really good Taffy.

 

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Also while in Princeton, WV where we stopped at Bojangles for lunch, we went to “Jerky Outlet”.  The bacon jerky was good.  The crickets really didn’t have any taste other than “crunchy.”  My daughter ate two of them.

Hardware

Had the occasion to take the wife out for her 50th birthday and we went to a “new” restaurant in our area.  I say new because we haven’t been there.  I think the place has been open for a couple of years.

Hardware:

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I of course started my dinner off with a beer flight.  4 different 4oz beers for $10. Surprisingly the Black IPA was my favorite.

 

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The wife ordered Poutine for an appetizer.  Everything with a fried egg on it is good.

One of the drinks of the night was the Mojito.  The wife got one and instead of rum, it was made with whiskey

 

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Several good items on the menu that I wanted to try but I went with the “Sticky Chicken.”  Fried thighs with a whiskey based glaze.  This was really,really good !!!

 

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The wife ordered the “Pork Belly Korean Fried Rice.”  Again, with a fried egg on it, how could it not be good??

Easy Oyster Stew

Oyster stew is one of my favorite dishes. Way back when, 25-30 years ago, one of my guilty pleasures (of the food variety of pleasures) was buying Campbell’s Oyster Stew  at the grocery store.  At that time, most of the soup was probably 75 to 85 cents a can and the oyster stew was about $1.25 so there was quite a difference in price for it.  I wouldn’t buy it every week or even every month so I can’t be sure when I stopped being able to buy it.  I can’t remember the last time I saw it on a shelf in a grocery store.  The funny thing is, searching on the Internet, I get conflicting stories as to the current status of the product:

This store/website says that they can sell the product:

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But when I go to the official Campbell’s Soup website and use their search feature:

Soup_001I don’t know how Campbell’s can say the soup is discontinued and there be a website that sells it???

All I know is that I can’t buy it, so I will have to “improvise, adapt and overcome.”

Lady Luck was good to me one day while browsing the meat counter at the grocery store as I saw the below containers of shucked oysters that were on sale for $3.99 and they were usually $8.99.

I looked at the oysters for a few moments and even I had to think about the downside of marked down seafood !!! The lady fish monger that I usually talk to there saw me looking at the  oysters and came over. She said that they had ordered one case of the product and they shipped twelve so they had to go straight to markdown.  She also said that they would freeze just fine.

Oyster_001 So I bought a couple of containers and put them in the freezer.Oyster_002 About a month later I decided to make some oyster stew.  Most of the recipes I found had very similar directions and ingredients.Oyster_003 In the sauce pan wet the stick (yes a whole stick) of butter with the onions and the celery.   The previous photo shows shallots, but I found some white onion in the fridge that I thought I would use.Oyster_004 All of the recipes called for putting the oyster liquid  in the stew and I wanted to rinse the oysters to make sure all of the grit was removed.  What I found out was that tit was less of a liquid as it was a gel.  I was NOT able to strain the oysters to rinse them.Oyster_005 Oysters and the oyster juices go into the butter after the celery and onions softened.

Oyster_006 It doesn’t take long to cook the oysters.

When they pucker up and curl, they are done enough to simmer .

Oyster_007 Stir a bit as it simmers after adding the whipping cream.

Oyster_008 Big hit of black pepper

Oyster_009And Yummos !!!

Boy was this good.  Boy was it rich too.

I will definitely make this again but next time I will only use a 1/4 stick of butter and probably just use the skim milk that we keep at home.