Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ripple Seven

The seventh ripple surrounds all of the rest of the things I am thankful for.  Family, friends, health, life. Everything I have and everything I am I can thank God for.

My beliefs are my own, and I won't bore you with them here too much. The Lakota called Him Wakan Tanka, or Great Mystery. I find this pretty accurate for how I think of God. I am thankful that God created all of this for me to experience and enjoy.

Nuff said.

More Later

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ripple Six

Ripple six contains a great many little things that I am thankful for.  The common denominator for all of these things is my curiosity in them. So I guess I am really thankful for an inquisitive and curious mind, slow though it may be.

I'm thankful for my interests... Dragonflies, flight, nature, triathlons and all the various gear, blacksmithing, knives, glass, gardens, ducks and geese, family, friends, dogs, grilling and other foods... the list goes on and on.

I am thankful to have found a Wife who supports me in my learning and curiosity. It really is a wonderful life.

More Later

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ripple Five

Today I am thankful to have been born in America. With everything that is challenging about it, we still have amazing potential and every individual has a chance for a better life.

Do some squander that chance? Yes, indeed. Is it easy to succeed? Not always, no. But we do have certain freedoms and liberties that we often take for granted.

I for one am thankful to be able to work, provide a little for my family, have a roof over my head and feel safe and secure in that domicile. I am thankful for the government workers who do their best every day to actually make this country a better place for everyone, and for those that keep in check the officials who have been spoiled by greed or power.

We are far from perfect as a country, but I would still not rather live anywhere else.

More Later

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ripple Four

I am thankful and grateful about every day for my health. Yep, the fourth ripple is based entirely on my ability to breathe, get out of bed and walk around, do normal day to day things, and in all enjoy living without really thinking about it.

As a medic, I've seen my share of life altering and life ending things. Seldom does a shift go by when I don't drive home thinking, "There but for the grace of God go I."

Thanks to Matt and my very patient and supportive Wife I am training for and doing triathlons, which is leading to adopting a much healthier lifestyle. My children are seeing this, and will actually join me during some workouts, thus hopefully building a solid base of health for them as well.

Speaking of which, I am eternally grateful for the health of my wife and kids. Healthy and happy they are, and I am often reminded of just how lucky we have been to have it that way.

I am thankful for my health and the health of those I love. Long may it be so.

More Later

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Ripple Three

My extended family and friends make up the third circle, almost as close to me as the second. 

There are a great many to list here, so let me tell you why I love them and am very thankful for them first...

Each person on the list has shown me support and love throughout my time knowing them. I have enjoyed my friendships with them and have drawn courage, inspiration and lots of other things from them over the years.

My in-laws, including Nana and Papa Voorhees. My sisters -in- law, Joan and Sarah. My siblings spouses Jenny and Julio.

Old friends like Adriatic and Jane, the Suters and the Muters. Pagel and Trish and all of those I've done shows with and a thousand other things through the years.

Many of my buddies from USMC days are on the list. Wib, Mac, Schutzie, Slick.  Mahood, JD, Walters and Duck. Many more who shared some pretty interesting times with me. I am thankful for their friendship and the brotherhood of the Marines.

New friends like Julie, Anna and Greg, who I would not have met if not for my wife, but who make life fun anyway.

I'm thankful for my medic friends like Sara and others from ZAA, Jen, Josh, Ben, Kelly  and Carrie and others from WMC. I am thankful for their friendship and skills as we've shared some horrific runs and some very funny ones, too.

There are dozens and dozens of people on this list, and I am thankful for them. Too numerous to list, but listed in my heart.

More Later

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ripple Two

In my second ripple are the rest of my family. Mom, Dad, my brother and sister, and Matt.

All of them have been huge influences on who I am.

Mom and Dad gave me life, and so I am naturally thankful for that. More than that though, I am thankful that they were parents. They taught me through their actions and words. Showed me how to be a parent to my kids long before I had an inkling of even wanting kids. I am thankful that they are miraculously still alive and able to enjoy their kids and grand kids. And I am thankful that I am their son. I am forever indebted to them for their support of me in everything I've ever done.

My older sister, Steph, has lived a dozen lives. Travelling Chinese Acrobat, Cubicle Worker in the Rat Race, Choreographer, Mother, Day Care Boss. She can do it all, and almost has. I am thankful for our early years, where she taught us to dance and perform... sometimes against our will. But I am a more graceful person today because of it.  The Wife says I have an unusual sense of physical balance and can just go do stuff because of it. Ski, Rollerblade, fly, whatever. I think it's because I danced while I grew up. And I have my sister to thank for that. I am also thankful for her example of putting family first, as she has shown again and again through her actions that her family means more to her than money or even at times her own comforts. I am thankful for her husband and son, and her devotion to them as wife and mother. I am thankful for her continued love and support and friendship.

My younger brother, Jason, is also a Jack of All Trades. I am most thankful that he and I remain close even though miles and time separate us from time to time. We've shared some excellent adventures through the years. At the Island or in Italy and all over Europe. Miles and miles of touring as The Shaffer Brothers. And now he's joining me in doing triathlons, too.  I am thankful for his wife and kiddos, and especially his devotion to them as father and husband. I am thankful for all of the times we've had as brothers, and even though I'm the older one, he is in many ways the more mature and accomplished of the two of us. I am thankful for his love and support and friendship, too.

My brother from another mother Matt has been my friend since eighth grade. Through the years we've had thousands of adventures, and we grew from boys into men together. I'm not sure who the leader of our duo has been. But we have both led each other into some pretty wild things. We were going to join the Marines together, he was only refused for a stupid medical reason. The Marines lost out on that one. We've done shows together and made movies when we were young. Matt is the one that got me interested in doing a triathlon, which has no doubt improved my quality of life - and I'm really thankful for that! He has been as close as family for almost thirty years, and life just wouldn't have been the same without him.

These are the people in my second ring, and I am forever thankful for them and their contributions to my life.

More Later

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Seven Days of Thankfulness - Ripple One

I had a dream last night that I was standing next to the lake up at the Island, watching my kiddos toss rocks into said lake. Naturally, as they tossed each pebble, they left the tell tale circular ripples spreading away from each ploink.

I started at one and realized at once that each ripple was something I was thankful for, and each ring was exactly in relation to me - the stone.

The closest ring was the Wife and Kids. Then my family, then my friends.  When I awoke, I decided to do a seven days project based on this picture...
The firs and nearest circle is my wife and kids. I am most thankful for my wife. She is patient and kind. She is beautiful and giving. She is strong and brilliant. Without her I'd probably be wandering the wilderness somewhere. She has the ability to challenge my ideals and make me a better person without being overbearing or mean.  In fact, I don't think she has a mean bone in her body.

We make a great team, my wife and I. I love her very much. Without her, of course, the kiddos wouldn't be. But I'm thankful also for the other two in my inner circle. The Boyo and my little Sweet Pea.

The Boyo has unlimited potential, and I am thankful for his health and spirit. Smart as a whip, this kid is. Reading at a fourth grade level in first grade, his math skills are great, he has an inquisitive mind and loves to make new friends and learn new things. He is insightful and funny, too. I thank God often for him. Life just wouldn't be the same without him!

Sweet Pea is a little toughie. She's a smart one, too. Learning her letters and numbers, talking up a storm. She has a sweet singing voice and will often be singing after we've put her down for the night. She has a delightful smile and an infectious laugh. I am so thankful that she is in my life. Truly my favorite little girl in the whole wide world!

So today I am thankful for my inner circle. I love them with all of my being.

More Later

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I missed yesterday due to competing in a triathlon in the morning, and celebrating Father's Day in the afternoon.  But never fear, for here is the final sandwich in the Seven Sandwiches Project!  There were many I could have chosen from, but I decided to do a little twist on a classic.  The grilled cheese.  Instead of American Cheese on white, which is great, I used cream cheese on sourdough!
First I assembled the ingredients, a very short list indeed...

Then I grilled them on the stove in the same way I would have using traditional ingredients.  And... violaGrilled Cream Cheese on Sourdough!

After I had eaten one half, it occurred to me that my mom used to put stuff in her grilled cheese.  Mustard or pickles or sometimes jelly.  I happened to have some Red Raspberry Jelly, which my family loves.  So I put a schmear of that in the second half.

I'll need to do a few more triathlons to work the calories off, but it was totally worth it!

Thus concludes the Seven Sandwiches Project!  Thanks for reading.  Stay tuned for the next project.  Sign up to follow this blog and you'll know when it happens!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The JT Special

Now admittedly, this sandwich isn't for everyone.  It's probably going to be the least favorite of everyone but me.  It is a sandwich that I made growing up from time to time when I couldn't decide what sort of sandwich I wanted.

First a simple PBJ...

In this case peanut butter and Miracle Whip.  I ran out of jelly making PBJ's for the kiddos.  But I'll suffer, I'll suffer... because I love those kids so.

Next up a fried egg sandwich...

Then a turkey and cheese sandwich...

And they all go together into one big sandwich I named the JT Special!

Before you judge, you should at least try it out.  I usually add some lettuce and bacon to these as well, but was a little rushed today by hungry children.  The beauty of this sandwich is that you can throw anything onto it.  It's sort of a "clean out the fridge" sandwich that can be totally tailored to your specific tastes!

But to have a true blue JT Special, it must be made with the following layers.

Peanut Butter
Fried Egg
Turkey (or some other meat)
Miracle Whip

Don't knock it 'till you try it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Roast Beef and Turkey on Sourdough

Today was so sunny and nice that we made a family decision to go on a picnic.  Rather than stop and pick up food someplace, we opted for hitting the grocery store and picking up the fixin's and making sandwiches!

An excellent opportunity for Day 5 of the Seven Sandwiches project.

The sandwich today started off with a generous layer of thinly sliced, hickory smoked turkey and thinly sliced, medium rare roast beef.

Followed by a layer of shredded lettuce, because you can get that pre-washed at the store, and some Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Mustard sauce.

Then a couple of slices of smoked sharp cheddar cheese.

A very thin schmear of Miracle Whip on the top slice of sourdough to keep it from slipping off of the cheese and viola!

Roast Beef and Turkey on Sourdough!

It's a very tasty picnic sandwich.  The sharp cheddar has a good bite to it, and pairs well with the roast beef.  I like adding lettuce to my sandwiches to give it some crunch and make me feel like I am making a small effort at eating healthy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Turkey Bacon Bolillo

Some time ago, I went to a cooking class, where I made an excellent pan seared turkey breast with spinach and bacon sauce.  I modified that recipe a little for today's sandwich.  I didn't have spinach, and I was planning on grilling the turkey tenderloins, but the grill is out of gas and the kiddos and I were hungry!  So I gathered up what I had...

and began by putting the garlic head in foil with a little olive oil and roasting it for 45 minutes at 425 degrees.  It sounds like a long time, but it really isn't if you throw it in first thing.  Then I cooked the bacon in my searing pan.  The secret to good, perfectly crisp bacon is to cook it on medium heat.  It takes a little time, but prevents burning it to blackened briquettes.    While the bacon was draining on a paper towel covered plate, I patted the turkey tenderloins dry and seared them in the bacon grease until they were nicely browned and put them in the oven to cook.  I removed the garlic, which by now was nice and soft, and peeled it and pressed it into a couple of tablespoons of butter.  Then I drained the grease from the pan and added a cup of chicken broth and a little milk to it and reduced that until it was nice and soupy.  I added some of the bacon all crumbled up and slowly stirred in the garlic butter until I had a delightful sauce.

Out of the oven came the turkey, which I sliced lengthwise, as such...

All that was left to do was build the sandwich, which I did on a whole wheat bolillo (pronounced bowl-ee-oh).  We found these a while back, and they have quickly become my favorite bread.  Lettuce on the bottom, turkey, provolone, bacon and sauce, and...ViolaThe Turkey Bacon Bolillo!

The whole sandwich is quite savory, and not at all healthy.  Well, maybe the turkey and the lettuce... and I get a few points for the whole wheat bolillo.  But the sauce is pure artery choker, and should be used very occasionally.  It is so tasty though, and makes an excellent spread on toast if there is leftovers.  This sandwich requires a bit of time to prepare, but will be a smash hit.  Even the kiddos cleaned their plates.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bleu Cheese Burger

Inspired by the Boyo's success with his Frueat Burger, I tinkered with his recipe only a little to create a Bleu Cheese Burger.

I kept the basic meat/cheese/bread crumbs mix (1 lb./1 Cup/1 slice crumbled fine) and made a thin patty out of it.  Into this I pressed a handful of crumbled blue cheese.

I briefly considered making another patty to top it, but instead just took clumps of the meat mix and patted it down over the blue cheese.

Five minutes on the grill at medium high heat, then flip and grill for another five.

I topped mine with a slice of beefsteak tomato and some lettuce, ketchup, mustard and home made pickles.

It tasted a whole lot like one of my favorite burgers from a restaurant back in my hometown.  So juicy.  I love the bite of the gooey blue cheese contrasting with the savory cheddar/beef patty.  Very tasty and well worth repeating!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Boyo's Frueat Burger

From the creative genius that is my seven year old boy comes this next one.  I asked him what he wanted for dinner tonight, and he raced to his chalkboard with a very stern warning not to look until he had finished.  After about ten minutes, he stepped away to reveal this...

I asked him a few questions.  Like, do the pear and apple slices go on the burger?

Yes.  Yes they do.

And the cheese?  Is that a slice on top?

No.  The cheese should be IN the burger.

Like a burger wrapped piece of cheese?

No.  Like all through the burger.

Seriously?  This is what you want for dinner?


So I went about making it.  I mixed about a cup of shredded cheddar into a pound of beef, along with a single slice of bread crumbled into fine crumbs.  I fashioned the meat mixture into patties with my freshlly and thouroughly washed hands.  Those went onto the grill while I sliced up the apple and the pear... The patties, not my hands.

Hey Boyo, do the slices go on the burger fresh or should I grill them?


I left the burgers on 5 minutes on medium high heat, then turned them and slid the fruit next to them for another 5 minutes.  The cheddar melted nicely and oozed slowly from the patty while the fruit warmed and browned.

Then I asked him one more time if he was sure he wanted to eat it.  After another excited affirmative, I put it all together for him.  Behold, the very first
 Boyo's Frueat Burger!
( It's dilishis!)

He wanted ketchup and mustard on it as well.  I admit, I cringed a little as I topped it and served it to him.  Then I made one for myself, too.

First bite - the warm, gooey, savory grilled beef blended effortlessly with the sweet punch of the pear and the slightly crisp, refreshing apple!  It was really good!  Even the ketchup and mustard were well complimented somehow.  It was easy to take another bite with my jaw on the floor.

The Boyo wolfed his down and half of another, and even the Sweet Pea ate her burger and fruit, albeit separately.  A very successful first sandwich from the Boyo!  When asked what gave him the idea for topping it with fruit, he answered,

I really wanted a cheeseburger, but I wanted to make it healthy, too.  And a pear and an apple are healthy!

I would highly recommend grilling all of the apple and pear slices as the leftovers make a yummy dessert topped with a scoop of natural vanilla ice cream.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lime Grilled Chicken BLT

Today I wanted something filling, but not too heavy.  The Wife suggested a Chicken sandwich of some sort, and I was thinking maybe a BLT.  So we combined our ideas and came up with this...

Lime Grilled Chicken BLT on a multigrain Cibatta roll with Guacamole spread.
After my father had his heart attack, our whole family changed eating habits a bit.  So in gathering the fixins' for this sandwich, I chose low sodium turkey bacon, and low sodium Provolone cheese.  The guacamole has avacado, lime and garlic in it.  It really enhances the fresh flavor of the sandwich more than plain mayo would.

I am certain that this sandwich would be even more phenomenal with smoked maple pork bacon instead of the turkey bacon, but for a little healthier alternative the turkey wasn't bad!  I also used pre-grilled chicken, because we don't have a grill yet. When we do get our grill, I'm going to make this again, and marinade the chicken in a lemon/lime and garlic mixture.  Fresh chicken breasts will have less sodium than the frozen as well.  Another bonus.  This sandwich as prepared scored just above 700 mg of sodium.  Mostly from the frozen chicken, and surprisingly, the cibatta.  Replace the frozen chicken with fresh, and the sodium drops to around 500mg.  Calorie-wise, it came in at 450 Calories!  Low enough for calorie counters to enjoy and have a tasty sandwich!

As for taste, in this configuration it was quite good.  It had a good, fresh flavor, especially with the guacamole spread.  It also did not sit heavy in my gut after the meal.  I felt like after an hour or so, I could go for a swim or bike or run without fear of seeing the meal again.  But it was filling and kept me satisfied until supper!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Please Stand By

It all begins this Monday, June 13th.  Seven Days of Sandwiches!

Are you ready?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Post that Started It All

This is the original posting from my other blog - My Dog Shoba.  It inspired the Seven Days Project, so I thought it should be included here.  Enjoy!

After reading a post by my friend Wendy - - I accepted her challenge to take a picture of myself every day for a week.  I had intended to start the day that I read her post, but decided to kick it off on Tartan Day instead, as I was taking a picture of myself in my Clan Wallace kilt anyway.  I finished the project a couple of days ago, but was dealing with the Hives of Doom on my Sweet Pea and sorta forgot that I was going to post them.  She is doing MUCH better by the way, and after full nights of sleep last night for both of us, I am ready to put these portraits out there.

Day 1: 4/6/11

Tartan Day!  I celebrated by wearing my kilt for a good majority of the morning, including dropping the Boyo off at school. This was also my first full day home after being at Mom and Dad's for two weeks.  Seemed a good time to start the picture project.

Day 2: 4/7/11

Home after a swim, and remembering that I needed a picture before midnight.  The smirk was because my camera is set for taking rapid pictures and I now have a series of me going from serious to smirk in just seconds!

Day 3: 4/8/11

Day 2's picture made me realize that I needed a haircut and a beard trim.  So a before shot seemed appropriate.

Day 4: 4/9/11

The day after the haircut and beard trim.  I've done my own hair since my Marine days... 19 years now.  I wonder how much I've saved on haircuts and beard trims since then?

Day 5: 4/10/11

Watching the Sweet Pea watch the Mickey Mouse Club when I realized I needed a shot.  It's hard to remember to do this some days.  Later this evening, my Sweet Pea would develop the hives that broke my heart to see.  But she's a toughie and even while all itchy and miserable still snuggled up to me and giggled sometimes.

Day 6: 4/11/11

At work in the shop.  I'm in the middle of several projects.  Stained glass, sheaths for knives, knives.  But not a lot of time to be in the shop.  In fact, this is a pretty staged shot, as I was out there to pick up a screwdriver for a project inside, and shortly after this shot I went back inside to tend to my hivey daughter.

Day 7: 4/12/11

After a good run.  Men in my family tend to sweat just standing around, so the damp brow is nothing special.  But I had just run a solid 1.5 miles and walked a half mile. And I got that first mile in 12 minutes.  Slowly working my way towards being able to actually run my 5K's in the triathlons I've entered.  With a goal of sub 10 minute miles.  I may print out this picture to put on my training calender as a reminder to not give up and not backslide!  It is so much harder getting back in shape than it is actually staying in shape!

So there you have it.  Seven days in the life of me.  I would have done this project at a time when not so much was going on, but I have been learning that as life goes on, something is ALWAYS going on.  No time like the present.

More Later

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Welcome To the Seven Days Project

I had a strange dream the other night.  I was sitting at a small table in my front yard.  The kiddos were playing in the yard, and I was taking pictures of a sandwich on the table.  That's right.  A sandwich.  I was confused for a bit, as I often am in dreams where random and bizarre events are unfolding.  But then it hit me.  I was taking a picture to finish off a project I was working on.

Then I was on my computer, finishing the first of the "Seven Days" projects.  It was called "Seven Sandwiches: Sandwiches to Delight and Inspire."  In this project I had created, photographed and written about a sandwich for each day of the week.  This of course included ingredients and recipes, and how they tasted.  In my dream I recall that every sandwich was delightful and inspiring, hence the title. Very tasty.

When I woke up, I chuckled to myself about how silly such a project would be.  Who needs to know about my favorite PBJ, or how to make grilled cheese.  But the more I woke up, the more I wondered why not do a seven sandwich project?  I also remembered from the dream that this was just the first of the Seven Days Projects.  Soon the dream turned into a challenge.  A challenge I'll extend to you, dear reader.

Welcome to the Seven Day Project Challenge! 

Here are the rules... A project has to cover seven days, and include seven "things".  It doesn't have to be seven consecutive days. It doesn't have to be every week.  That would burn me out fast.  But for a Seven Days project, choose a project and finish it within a set time.  A month, for example.  Or maybe two or three weeks. You can even do one every couple of months if you want.  Or just commit to doing ONE this year! Then contact me and send in your project for review.  I'll let you know if and when it will be featured here!  

Some of my future projects might include: Seven Days of Birds in My Front Yard - A Photo Essay.  Or Seven Days of Triathlon Workouts for the Couch Potato.  Or maybe Seven Days of Supper - A Week of Tasty Meals for Families.

You can also suggest ideas for me to do in the future!  Be creative.  I may just accept YOUR challenge! 

Whaddaya say!?!  Are you up for Seven Days?

Life is Good, folks.  Let's do something with it, shall we?