Buying Bleach Like Heisenberg

Not too long ago, when the shitter was full, I had a somewhat interesting shopping experience at Walmart.  Not the usual People of Walmart experience, but a sense and purpose of criminal mastermind experience.  Perhaps inspired by Heisenberg.

acidcleanupAccording to CSI, you can clean up body fluids using bleach.  A lot of bleach.  It not only kills majority of the germs and bacteria, but clears the scent of a horrible crime … in my case it was killing the odour of human feces which had dripped and gushed over me and the floor in the basement.

Anyway, I had to clean up the basement, and needed cleaning supplies.  So, I ventured to the local Walmart to stock up; buckets, mops, bleach, bleach, bleach and air freshener. Didn’t meet many suspicious and interesting characters, but it is always a surreal journey down each isle – especially when you witness a Hasidic Jew inspecting the new line of hunting riffles.

Within a few minutes, my filled with 4 large bottles of bleach, a mop, 3-pack of air fresheners, disinfecting wipes family sized box and of course scented candles.  You can never go wrong with candles.

The cashier had an interesting look on her face, trying to perhaps understand why I would buy these quantities of bleach.  She was a little disturbed to say the least, especially when I paid in cash.  Perhaps she remember the scene in Breaking Bad where they try to dissolve a body in the bath tub with acid.  Everybody knows to use plastic containers for that!

All the way my car, I was looking over my shoulders, expecting to be tackled by the 7-ft armed security guard, while screaming in a fetal position due to the pain of the taser.  Was I going to be a victim of my shopping needs?

noseclipI made it home and started the cleaning process.  Hours later my basement was shining, smelling like a hospital, and my hands were smelling as if I had completed a few autopsies and bathed in bleach … I should’ve bought latex gloves.

Looks as good as new!

School Lunches & Grey Hairs

Having three kids keeps you busy.  Very busy.  There’s always laundry, homework, showers, cleaning up toys and rooms.  And, then you of course have the other daily / weekly routines such as sports, friends and shopping.

It never was an easy adventure to be a parent, but it is amazing how much we can accomplish while sleep deprived. Whoever said having kids wouldn’t change you was completely disillusioned and I doubt he ever participated in the awesome responsibilities.

That brings me to my next topic – school lunches.

I bloody hate seeing all the these ridiculously perfect families on social media, who have oodles of time, and patience, to create the perfect lunch boxes.  Seriously, who have time to prepare mini sushi look-alike lunches, design cuddly sandwiches shaped like cute lions, serve small fried dish consistent of slightly fried vegetables, neatly sliced, mixed with fresh caught salmon.  Are you bloody serious!

Instagram, Facebook and other social networks are devil’s spawn.  How on earth can people find time to have these awesome creations?  I wish I could make my kids’ school lunches that fantastic, but I rarely find time to make my own.

My wife and I work 8.30 – 17.30 jobs.  We have to do the daily chores, play with our kids, do homework, and prepare the various meals.  There’s little or no energy left to spend designing next day’s lunch menu.  Kids will get the usual suspects; left-over food, peanut-butter jam, ham-cheese, chicken-cheese tortilla or other combinations.

We refuse to give them money for school lunches, as those are not healthy at all.  At least our lunches have fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, and their snacks normally consist carrots, tomatoes, or pretzels.

That said, in recent weeks we have really made an effort making the school lunches more appealing.  It is important for the kids to open their lunch boxes, without fears of being laughed at or accused of eating items that looks like they are from another planet.

My latest creation was Lego shaped egg muffins.  Not the boring Eggos like in “Stranger Things‘, but little delicous egg muffins made with spinach, ham, cheese and eggs.

lunchI found our Lego baking shape and made a few awesome Lego shaped muffins.  And I must admit, and kids were not bribed, but they loved them.  It was probably the shapes, but I also hope they tasted nice.

These suckers were created out of normal parenting hours, after 10 pm, which is normally the time we start drooling on the sofa.  Actually, that happens around 9.13pm.

It’s tough being a parent, but I would not change it for anything in the World!

We parents do need to demand better school lunches on all schools.  It is not right that kids get pizza, fries, ice cream, sodas, chips etc.  This only encourages shitty food and increases the risk of childhood obesity.  Demand better food in schools!

Jamie, help us!  We need to start the food revolution … again.

Christ back in Christmas

When we moved to the US more than five years ago, I was honestly a little surprised with a few cultural differences.  I guess that is what to be expected and all people talk about cultural shock.  It was not a shock where I went into seizure or panic crying, but more like “W-T-F?”.

I fully support political correctness, but we also have to be realistic and not overdue it.

keepchristWhen I first saw some adds for Christmas, or should I say festive holidays, I was surprised when I read “Bring Christ back in Christmas.  In my head I was like “oh no, another Christian fanatic message trying to preach about Jesus.” But as I’ve lived and worked in the US for a few years, I can start to relate to that message.

Not necessarily the religious message about Christ and waiting for his second coming.  But the fact that we cannot say Christmas any longer.  That is starting to worry me, and the political correctness has stepped over the line.

Why is it that we cannot say ‘Merry Christmas’ to our colleagues?

We are being told that we offend people who do not celebrate Christmas.  I understand that some people may be celebrating HanukkahKwanzaa, or other holidays like Diwali or Mawlid … or nothing at all.  And by using the political correct phrase “Happy Holidays” we apparently avoid discriminating or offending anybody.

I’m calling BS on that way of thinking.  Why is it that we should (and must) express our well wishes to other special holidays, but cannot share the same courtesy for Christmas?

I have friends from many different religions, and none of them seem offended when Christmas is mentioned, and they wish me a Merry Christmas.  I’m just as respectful for their holidays and will offer them my well wishes for their special days.

Some shops are even banning Christmas decorations such as Nativity scene, but will happily put up the Menorah.  I don’t see a problem showing baby Jesus in the manger, while the wise men are holding a Menorah.

For many, saying Merry Christmas may not even be a religious statement, but rather a celebration for the family, and admiration for Santa Claus.

Treat people the way you want to be treated.  This also means respect other religious holidays, without blocking out Christmas.  It does not give you the right to send a Merry Christmas card to people who do not believe in your holiday, but I may send a card to my Jewish friends wishing them Happy Hanukkah.

If this trend continues, then one day we are going to be a sanitised country, where we don’t celebrate any holidays in public.  We have to show that we are proud of being Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and other cool religions.  We have to be able to celebrate and respect our holidays – that does not mean blocking them out with saying ‘Happy Holidays’.

Listen, if the atheists would have some sort of special day, then they are welcome to celebrate it too. They seem to be busy blocking everyone else.  I guess if they don’t have a special day, then other people can’t enjoy their days.  To me that is just rude and inconsiderate.

Anyway, Merry Christmas my friends … and Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Mawlid, and enjoy all the other special holidays. Don’t hold back celebrating your special days.

Thank you America!

thanksIt is the time of the year where millions of Americans travel across the country to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It is probably the only holiday they can agree to celebrate, no matter which religious belief you might have.  These mass migrations take place leading up to the last Thursday in November, and the entire road, rail and air systems are gridlocked.  They want to spend time with their families, and eat an innocent turkey.

It is a sense of belonging and greatfullness that started back in the day, when the firtst settlers sat down with the native indians to eat food.  And, just because of that gesture by the native indians, the settlers survvied and learned to integrate into the American ecosystem.

The actual meal in itself is ‘just’ another excuse to eat excessively.  There is a large selection of scrumptious pies, multitude of sides, sweet potato mash with marshmallows, and of course the main star of the dinner – the turkey.

The turkey itself is most times larger than the oven.  It is actual difficult finding a turkey less than 18lbs, and I often wonder what they feed these suckers since they are that large.  They are not obese, but nice and firm.

We moved here 5+ years ago, and the US has taken us in and made us feel very welcome.  99% of the people we’ve met are super friendly, and they never question why we are here.

One of the key things my wife and I have agreed upon, is that no-matter which country we live in, we have to integrate.  This integration starts with adoption and celebrating the holidays and key events.  You need to know these and show appreciation of the events.

We love thanksgiving.  We understand why it is celebrated and love the fact that this day is a very important family day.  It makes us feel part of the country and culture, especially when colleagues and friends invite us to their special days.

The other side which we we love is the food. OMG!

The food for thanksgiving is absolutely amazing.  No wonder I have gained 20lbs.  It’s another blog just to talk about food, but it is fantastic.  Many Europeans don’t really understand the excessive eating, but we have fully embraced it.

You will never integrate if you do not participate.  That’s what many foreigners don’t get.  It does not mean you have to give up your national identify and heritage, but merely that you respect the country you live in.  The country that has adopted you and given you opportunities to grow.  That is how you respect and thank it.

But why do we celebrate Thanksgiving in our family, since we weren’t here hundreds of years ago and have limited connection to the history of Thanksgiving?

We are proud to live here.  America has given us opportunities we didn’t have elsewhere.  We are thankful for being allowed to participate, and we are even more thankful for being included in their culture.  Our kids are flourishing.  We have met new friends.  We have a wonderful life.  We love life!

It is not easy to explain, but we feel at home here.  That is why we are thankful.  We thank the American people for welcoming us with open arms.

Thank you ‘Merica!

godblessus

The Carmine Code

carminesFor those not familiar with Carmine’s, it’s an amazing Italian family restaurant.  It opened its doors back in 1990, and pride itself to for making any meal feel like an Italian American wedding feast.

Many of my colleagues had spoken about Carmine’s, and I have heard reference to it on the radio and even in a few movies

… I think!

It was one of those places we simply had to visit, but we rarely went into the City.  If we did, it was mostly my wife and I, or perhaps just for a few business meetings.

A few days ago, the opportunity came knocking.  We had planned a visit to Broadway to see the “King and I” musical, as part of a fantastic offer with TDF who organises autism friendly performances.

After the amazing performance, it was late in the afternoon and we needed to refuel our bodies with some lovely food.  I unlocked my iPhone, opened the OpenTable app and made a reservation at Carmine’s.  It was like a new adventure was about to start.  Something mystical and mesmerising.

It was a journey to Shangri-La of food happy utopia, where we would sample wonderful dishes in a great atmosphere and among likeminded food loving people.

cloudyThe place itself wasn’t something amazing on the outside.  It was merely a small shop front, which led into a small bar area, full of people.  Then a dark magical staircase to the other side – to the promised land.

As we ascended the stairs, we were greeted by numerous scents and flavours.  It was in reality a smack to the face of gourmet food, and I was almost knocked off my feet by the sheer vapour bomb of food smells …. lovely food smell.

The waiter placed us at a family sized table, comfortable seating all five of us.  I glanced around the room and was pleasant surprised that this was in fact only large families.  People were happy, smiling, laughing and eating.  My kind of place!

We were Carmine virgins.  At least that’s what I told the very friendly waiter, and he was enthusiastic about explaining us the Carmine Code.  It was simple actually.

"This is a family restaurant
We serve family sized portions
The table share the food."

We ordered a salad, veal steak w/ mash and mixed plate of pasta.  According to the waiter, this should feed our hungry family.

Half way through the salad, which made Olive Garden’s salad tray look like a starter, I realized that we might have ordered a bit too much.

Then the two main courses arrived and I must’ve arrived in heaven.  In front of us were two large sized trays, filled with food.  Enough food to feed our family for a week.

I had to sample every piece, and it was fantastic.  Not Michelin star food, but real Italian style food, almost as mama would make it.  And, that was despite the amount of people who were eating with us, how many had been before us, and how many were coming after us.

I hit the food brickwall hard.  It was not unpleasant, but I was disappointed with my own performance.  We had barely made a dent in the past samples, and still half veal dish left.

heart-cloudsThankfully they have an excellent doggie bag attitude, and placed all the left-overs in tinfoil trays and a large shopping bag.

It was heaven.  We had just witnessed a food revelation and had in an instant become Carmine followers.  This was an amazing experience, and thank you food God for letting us experience utter stuffedness.