La Croix

Reliable. That’s what I’ve come to know it as.

It started with a text, I suppose, the day I wrote a piece about moving on from soda and trying to cut back on Monster. A few hours after it published I saw, while scrolling through Facebook, that yet another of my friends was going to try Whole 30. What I knew of it was limited, all I knew was that it wasn’t food specific, just food-type specific. You can eat these and those, but none of these or those etc.

So I figured I’d look into it the best way I know how: ask someone who’s done it. Nick, who I co-host the Poppin’ Bottles Dad-Cast with, has done it a few times now with his wife Sarah. We’d talked about it a couple of times on the podcast and the types of results he was getting as far as overall weight loss, etc. So I shoot off a text…

“Ok…so…tell me about this whole 30 thing. What food is allowed basically.”

The response text started with “Hoooooooo boy” and we went from there.

Through all the details, there was one thing I was looking for: a substitute for soda. With the program you can drink black coffee (which I already partake in) and water for sure. But I needed something else. That’s when he mentioned La Croix.

Apparently not only a popular soda replacement with people my age group, but also the only flavored drink approved by most dietitians at doctors. It’s sparkling water with a hint of flavoring to it.

The tendency I have of course is, when I start something, I go hard.

The next day I found myself in costco with a 24 pack with cans of the Lime, Lemon, and Grapefruit flavors.

It’s basically all I’ve been drinking since then.

So now I’m 10 days into no soda at all, and in 10 days I’ve only had 2 Monsters. Definitely a step up, but…..in 10 days with no soda and little Monster, drinking mostly La Croix and green tea, as well as intermittent fasting…..I lost 10 pounds this week.

I guess they really were telling the truth when they said “you are what you eat”.

-BK

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Adventures in Macarons

I love baking during the holidays. It’s just one of my things. Chocolate chip cookies are my go to but I can never turn down a good Pumpkin Pie, my Mom’s “World Famous” Brownies, or my Dad’s Icebox Cake.

But this year I’m hit pretty hard by the “Baking Bug” so I decided to try something thats been on my “Hey you should try this” list for some time now.

French Macarons.

Those tiny, pretty, colorful, sweet little sandwiches of yummy are a two delicate cookies with some sort of cream/icing in the middle. When done correctly, they can be amazing. However….if not prepared correctly, or baked to long or too short, they can be a disaster.

My first attempt was just that.

After finding a basic recipe on AllRecipes.com, I realized 3/4 of the way through that something wasn’t right. As instructed, I purchased almonds and ground them into as fine a powder as I could with the food processor I have available. No good. Not fine enough. It wasn’t until a realization that my egg/sugar/Almond/confectioners sugar mix wasn’t thick enough, a bit of research (and a more reliable YouTube video) that a solution was presented: Almond Flour.

Attempt #2: Success. Well…..kinda. The egg mixture was still coming out pretty thin despite using the directed measurements. So I tried using more sugar to thicken it out, figuring I’ll take the risk on it being too sweet.

Lo and behold….the right texture, the right baking time, and MEGA SWEET French Macarons. I also discovered that I’m not at all a piping bag type of guy. My best result as far as uniform shape came in the form of a large spoon, dolloping the batter and twisting the spoon.

Conclusion: One of these days I’ll make some killer French Macarons. Once I hone in on the recipe, remembering to leave the eggs out till they are room temp before mixing, and a few other tweaks.

Till then,

-BK

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Friday Playlist

Throughout the week I have a tendency to jump around between different songs from different genres, ranging from everywhere between John Denver and Die Antwoord. If you’re an Apple user, go ahead and follow the link below to see what I’m listening to this week and feel free to let me know what you’re listening too as well!

FRIDAY PLAYLIST #1

-BK

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Another Day To Be Better

About a year and a half ago, I was addicted to Red Bull.

Now I know that language may not sit well with you, “addicted” to anything that’s not considered a hard drug. But whether it was because I was hooked on the caffeine and other ingredients, or because I have issues controlling what I consume, or both…the fact of the matter is I classified completely as an addict. Not just to Red Bull either, but also to soda.

Upon reflection, with a bit of math, I worked out that in the 6 month period where I was at my worst, I was averaging 1.7 gallons of soda per week and just shy of 1 gallon of Red Bull every week.

Yeah thats right. Almost 3 gallons worth of Dr. Pepper and Red Bull in a single week, for an estimated 24 continuous weeks. My anxiety and depression were at an all time high and my weight was getting out of control.

In November 2016, I dropped Red Bull completely, and went down to 1 can of soda every Saturday. I started working out regularly in March 2017, however…….

Between November 2016 and February 2017 I lost 57 pounds. In conversation with people since then I’ve skewed that number a bit, because I was embarrassed to say how heavy I actually was. I can now say with 100% truth that I was 272lbs, the heaviest I’ve ever been. Since I started working out I dropped to 215, and have been able to maintain that despite a few things. One of them is Monster.

When I dropped soda and Red Bull, I tried picking up B-Vitamins to keep my energy going. But it was still crazy hard to stay motivated and in some cases to even stay awake. It was the height of allergy season for me, and the constant presence of Benadryl in my system meant I was incredibly sleepy and lethargic throughout most of my work day. So I did some research into “if I am going to have an energy drink, which one should it be.”

I found Monster “Zero Ultra” the in February 2017, and almost immediately started drinking it daily. It fit just right with maintaining my energy levels and more importantly, I was able to fit it into my new diet. It’s still bad for me, and I drink it way more than I probably should. But I’m not drinking 1 gallon worth per week, and the primary thing I’ve learned during my diet change is this:

It’s not 100% about what you eat, it’s about when you eat it, how you eat it, and how it effects your body in particular. Everyone has a different chemistry set in their body and you have to figure out what works for you. It’s hard, but thats the way it is. So far, Monster works for me and I’m not doing the same thing I used to do with Red Bull.

I’m not spending my last couple of pennies before payday trying to get one. I’m not sneaking one into the groceries, trying to hide it from my Wife. I’m not drinking 3-4 every day, or getting mood swings when I don’t have it in my system. I don’t wake up in the middle of the night, sweating, demanding a Monster.

Control. I have control. And even though I’m not yet at the weight I want to be, or on the diet that I want to be on, I’m still maintaining a better lifestyle than I was. That’s the lesson I have for you today.

You don’t have to be perfect. Just be better.

-BK

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The Office

We All Need Our Space

Part of my job means not having an office. I have a closet.

Actually, I have a couple of closets and a few sheds. See at this job (one of two), I’m a maintenance tech for a couple of buildings belonging to the local YMCA. I love the work, it’s what I grew up doing. But currently it’s a time of organization and, until recently, no place to sit except the work truck.

There isn’t a lot of sitting to be done, but for now its a bit needed. I’ve always been a great organizer, especially in the places I’ve held a job. Growing up the son of a maintenance man, I’ve seen my Dad go through a few different formulas for each gig as far as keeping everything organized and inventoried.

And there is the key word: “inventoried”

Consolidating all of our materials (spare toilet parts, tools, electrical equipment etc) to one location in the building and organizing it is one thing. But keeping track of it all? Thats the key, and that’s one of the things I thrive on. So it was only natural (and made complete sense for the new company outlook) for me to bring in the laptop and get cracking on tracking! (See what I did there? No, I’m not proud, i’m just making sure. Kthxbai)

A few weeks ago I was assigned to this building in particular. Normally, the three of us (my boss, coworker, and me) would float around between buildings, taking care of issues that pop up in between the larger projects. But for now it’s just me here, taking ownership of the building in a way and focusing on everything it needs. Certain things that are required by the state, mends that need to be made yearly, the little things that pop up, that sort of thing.

The thing about this building is that while the ground floor has a distinct purpose and is always in use, the upstairs is a bit of a free-for-all. A couple of mostly empty offices, two large conference rooms, a kitchenette and a bathroom which for the most part had gone completely unused for quite a while.

Then there was a plan afoot. A change in management of the building meant having certain people occupying the offices which of course left no room at all for any Maintenance staff. To be fair, we never really considered it a need since we’ve always been on the move. But I couldn’t help but notice, after I began my recent tenure as “building maintenance guy”, that only 3 of the 5 offices had been moved into.

One for a local program that benefits Highschool Kids, one for one of the Directors who is currently using a different office downstairs, and one for another director who has been out sick. There was technically two left, almost completely untouched. A single large room with two desks on either side. One desk had been outfitted with a laptop doc and a monitor for when whoever uses it wants to use it, but the other….empty.

So that’s where I “set up shop” so to speak. Taking over this small corner of the world for whatever benefit I can muster from it. I even inquired as to what the “plan” plan for the space is and the answer I got was “well theres a plan…..but who knows if it’s ever going to happen.” So here I am, and here I’ll stay for now. Nothing permanently inhabiting the space, always ready to leave it when need be. But until then…..maybe I’ll bring in a picture or two.

-BK

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The Phoenix and The Snowman

About a week and a half ago, a man was hollering at me outside a Walmart.

“Look at this guy with the flip-flops…holy moley…”

It was 15° and had just finished raining. I was in sweatpants, a hoodie, and my favorite pair of flip-flops. I gave him the only answer that seemed logical:

“Doesn’t bother me. I was born in the snow.”

In all fairness, while I was born at the end of January, back in 1990 it was 47° and less than an inch of snow on the ground. Additionally I was delivered in a hospital, but I’ll continue. I love the cold. I love THIS cold. The cold that happens a few days after it snows, where the ground is wet but the air is dry and the temp is down in the teens. Do I get cold? Hell yes I do, just as cold as the next person who hates being so. But for some reason it’s built into me to love it.

Snow in large quantities is certifiably annoying unless you have a flame thrower, and that’s just a fact. It’s nice to get the workout and whatnot, but the way it’s been snowing these past couple of years, it’s something to fear. Not because it’s consistently a lot, but it always seems to come all at once. Mild winters that include one gigantic snowfall, then nothing else till rain in the spring.

In any case….the cold is a seasonal friend of mine that I welcome and it’s made a bit of a debate between the missus and I.

You see: for some reason my wife gives off more heat than any human should naturally be able to emit. Because of that, a number of things happen:

  1. Our bed becomes incredibly warm under the blankets, making it necessary for me to leave almost half my body uncovered for fear of sweating to death in the night.
  2. She almost always feels cold. It could be 70 degrees outside and she’ll still wear a light sweatshirt.

Perhaps we were made for a different region of the world then. A place where it’s cold at night but fairly warm during the day…..although now that I think about it…..that describes a desert.

Oh well, perhaps the desert is where we will end up some day.

Although we keep talking about Canada…….

-B

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A Mix CD and A Return

I started out as a Dad Blogger back in 2013, a few weeks after I started my 2nd and longest running podcast. Over the years I’ve grown within a community of Dads who all write, or have written, blogs of some sort. A number of them I’ve met in person, and more than that, have made fantastic friends with. One of those is none other than the Cheese Doodle Dad himself: The Cinko.

We’ve been fast Facebook friends for a few years now, and he’s just one of those people where every conversation we have seems like we’ve been friends for decades. Everyone should have a friend like this.

Anywhoozle…a few weeks ago he put up a public post on Facebook to anyone that would read. Something to the effect of: “who needs music inspiration? Let me know.” Needless to say, I did. So I dropped a comment on the post, he pm’d me for my address, and a week later there was a crisp, newly minted CD on my doorstep.

Now, I’m no fool (really), I knew right from the get-go that I would be getting some kind of mix. What I didn’t know was that it came with no label or trackless whatsoever. I’m sure that if the cd drive on my laptop was working, it would digitally bring up each track’s info immediately…but alas. And yet, not “alas”. For me this was the most exciting of CD’s to get!

It obviously was going to contain music, collected by a dear friend some thousands of miles away, and the only way to find out whats in it is to listen. So listen I did, and disappointment I felt not.

As soon as I have it complete, I’ll toss up the track list. Until then, just know that it took me on a dope rollercoaster of things i’ve never heard before, things I haven’t heard in a long time, soundtracks from some of my favorite movies, and a few curveballs that were right up my alley.

Glad to say too that it’s original purpose, to inspire, has worked out into something glorious. So keep your eye on the page, your ears on the new podcast episodes coming up, and i’ll see you on the “flippy floppy”.

Cheers,

-B.K.

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