It was a fun family project. We told the kids that birthdays & Easter would be light as we were putting a lot into the swingset. I’m not sure they understood or cared. Our moms helped with the purchase, too. Bethany & I looked online at 6,487,932 swing sets, and narrowed it down to 15 or so in our price range. I made a spreadsheet to compare them, because OCD or something. Looking at the roadside swing sets at those places that also sell sheds and rocking chairs, we got a similar product for about ⅓ or ¼ of the price, albeit with no installation.
Installation is expensive, and now we know why. Ha ha. Everyone who knew we were getting one gave warning, so we weren’t surprised, but it was an interesting task.
It came in 3 boxes from Walmart.com, and we did in-store pickup because I measured & it all fit nicely in the family vehicle.
It took two weekend days with one week night in between to get it done, but the first weekend day was slowed by the kids “helping,” a move-the-tools-in-because-it-looks-like-rain delay, and maybe even a “let’s undo that part because I put it on backwards” moment. The week night was hindered by the fact that as soon as I attached the ladder & sliding board, the kids needed to test it out.
Bethany & I enjoyed the kids helping. We do the Home Depot Kids Workshops so both kids are comfortable with a hammer & a screwdriver, and we have done some other stuff at home like carpet removal and hanging curtain rods where they have actually helped.
My mom even got video of the little man showing off his ratchet skills;
We have been at the house for a few years now, but the project this year is another step to getting the back yard to where we want it, and next year we’ll work on the front. Having some trees removed recently & moving our garden really opened up some space in the back yard. I’d like to put in a fire ring, and a toy car race-track play area. I actually proposed removing the Bean House to make room for the latter, but I was vetoed by a 2yo boy saying “Unh-uh, Daddy. Hoooome. Hooome. Daddy, unh-uh.” I really hope the beans take off this year. I have some sprouts popping up already. I have some squash around it too. I don’t think the soil is all that great there though.
I even recently built this Pinterest inspired potting bench…
Back to the swing set, we even got a few extra add-ons from Amazon, like the steering wheel, telescope, telephone, and some handles. I think I want to replace the kitchen area tarp walls with some chalkboard-painted wood… and eventually when the canopy fades or dry-rots, I’d like to replace it with some type of solid roof.
At any rate, I encourage you to tackle a project as a family. I encourage you to get kids outdoors. I encourage you to not be afraid to give young kids some tools with a bit of guidance and a lot of supervision. I encourage you to get them into building, gardening, cooking, and the business of imagination. I encourage you to try projects yourself, and don’t be afraid to involve the whole family. It’s amazing how much you can learn through Google, YouTube, and a maybe a few tries.
I think the kids like it…
Posted in Dad Stuff, Family Stuff, Gardening& Backyard Stuff, Ideas, Inspiration, Life
Tagged Amazon, Bean House, BeanHouse, bench, Carpet Removal, Cedar Summit, Cedar Summit Play, CedarSummitPlay, Clubhouse, Cooking, D.I.Y., DIY, 🔨, Family, Family Projects, garden, Gardening, glider, google, Home Depot, Imagination, Involvement, jungle gym, kids, kitchen, Laurentian, Learning, monkey bars, Outdoor Play, Outdoors, phone, Pinterest, pinterest.com, Play, play kitchen, play set, playground, playset, project, projects, rock climbing wall, rock wall, slide, swing set, swings, swingset, Teaching, Tools, Walmart, wheel, YouTube
(Copied from a Facebook post. I forgot to post closer to Star Wars Day.)
Last night we were watching the end of Empire Strikes Back on TV when the kids & I got home from a trip to Target. Molly was full of questions, including but not limited to;
☆ What happens if he gets hit by those pewers?
☆ Why does he have a pewer?
What are those pewer things called?
☆ Why are they blasters?
☆ I called them pewers because I didn’t know what they were called. They sound like “pew pew.”
☆ Why is C-3PO in a net?
☆ Why does he have a lightsaber too?
☆ Why is it blue?
☆ Does Darth Vader have a pewer?
☆ Why is a lightsaber more civilized?
☆ Why did they freeze him?
☆ Where are they taking him?
☆ Why does he owe Jabba the Hutt Money?
☆ Boba Fett is a good guy. Is Boba Fett a good guy?
☆ How does he fight without his hand?
☆ Why is Darth Vader a bad guy?
☆ Why is Chewbacca choking that guy?
☆ Why is R2-D2 smoking?
☆ Why is C-3PO holding his leg?
☆ Where is Chewbacca going?
☆ Why are there animals and people and robots all together?
☆ What is that place?
☆ But what part of Cloud City are they in?
☆ Why is there a big hole to fall down?
☆ Where does it go?
☆ Why is there a slide there?
☆ It’s a good thing that bridge is there. Why is that bridge there?
Ian calls Darth Vader “Tai Tai” or “Kai Kai” and we have no idea why. He was also excited to see “Bobo Baba” (Boba Fett) and “Doot Doot” (R2-D2).
He weaseled his way back downstairs later to manage to catch some Ewok (“Weeewok”) action in Return of the Jedi. Ha ha.
Posted in Dad Stuff, Funny Stuff, Geek, Life, Star Wars
Tagged ☆, Blaster, Blasters, Boba Fett, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Chewie, Darth Vader, Empire Strikes Back, Episode V, Episode VI, Ewoks, Han, Han Solo, Lando, Lando Calrissian, Laser, Luke, Luke Skywalker, May the 4th Be With You, May the fourth be with you, Obi Wan Kenobi, pew pew, pewers, Princess Leia, R2-D2, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars, Star Wars Day, |-o-|, |-o-| [-o-] |-o-|
So, recently turning 40 has me reflecting on life in general (which is pretty damn great) & on my accomplishments as a “musician” even though I’m not actively gigging right now.
I’m pretty self-deprecating of my musical talents, but I am proud of the major part of the aural art that I helped create. I compiled and uploaded a few of my favorites after using Audacity to clip out some silence and mp3Gain to try to get all the volume levels somewhat similar.
If you’ll indulge me I’d like to give my thoughts & memories on each of these songs that I was proud to be a part of with AiXeLsyD, Gasoline Dion, & Ernie and the Berts. If I have any of the stories, names, etc. wrong, please correct me in the comments. Being that these are punk rock(ish) bands, you may find the content explicit and/or objectionable. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy came up with this cool shuffling progression and I played a super easy solo over it. I believe we kept the first take of the solo even though at the time I thought I could do better. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun. It was cool to open shows with this then rip into something completely different. It was called “Tommy’s Jam” until an inside joke on a local message board inspired the new name.
AiXeLsyD – “Wait”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | Probably the first song that I wrote that I liked, and probably the first original that we worked on in the band. We dug on this & recorded it a million times. It morphed a bit, but was basically the same simple jam. Ben doubling the vocals an octave lower and the guitar part at the end really fills it out.
Gasoline Dion – “Pickle Farm”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy had recorded this song solo, and it contributed to the itch that I needed to scratch when we formed Gasoline Dion. I really liked the melody. I think he stole the lyrics from Space Ghost or Brak. This song to me is about not being a square peg that’s forced into a round hole. I liked singing background vocals & playing guitar.
Ernie and the Berts – “Toybox”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin wanted to start a band to play rocked-out Willy Wonka covers. That never happened. This did. It was the first original that stuck, and an early recording became the soundtrack to a friend’s video project. Dave learned to play drums in/for this band. This is a nice simple driving groove and is the perfect vehicle for the introduction of Erin’s gnarly gravelly voice.
AiXeLsyD – “Hopeless & Heartless”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | I wrote this on the outside of seeing someone with a broken heart. I thought it was pretty catchy. The “whoa-oh’s” are overkill but oddly necessary in my humble opinion. I think An-Die, Ben, & I are all singing on multiple tracks here.
Gasoline Dion – “Cold”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | This riff was a leftover AiXeLsyD riff that almost became part of two songs but never really went anywhere. Mike had some leftover Who’s.Keeping.Score? lyrics that Dave & I re-arranged. Dave & I work really well on arranging musical parts & lyrics. I really really dig Tommy & I singing together on this one.
Ernie and the Berts – “Fred Rogers”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin supposed that a local hero may not really be a hero on this one. Maybe he read that weird urban legend. I really like the guitar part here, although it’s missing some kind of effect in my head. Wah? Phaser? Not sure. Erin let me just go goofy with background vocals here. I felt like Danzig or that Not-Danzig guy in the Cult. I love how this song builds into chaos.
AiXeLsyD – “Stand Up”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | This is where it all pulled together, and it was the last proper thing we recorded. Ha ha. An-Die wrote the riff & lyrics, I arranged them. Ben came up with the guitar noodling& octaves riff. I think I came up with the stupid guitar part for the verse. I really dig my guitar solo here,even though I went too long. (Oddly, this sounds a lot like “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” by Dramarama as played by Buckcherry.)
Gasoline Dion – “Political Songs (With Deep Meaning)”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | I was listening to a lot of the Unseen, I think. I don’t really write political stuff that often. This was taking the piss out of that genre. Dave sounded better on it with vocals. I scream “feet” in the background and give the creepy laugh at the end. We lost the original lyrics, so Dave used what he remembered and made the rest up on the fly. I don’t really think any one ever tried to intemperate a deeper meaning. If they did, they didn’t tell us.
Ernie and the Berts – “Don’t Fuck With Ernie”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | It was hard to tell if Erin was serious or joking a lot of the time. He had a deadpan delivery, and it was hilarious. To deliver this ridiculousness so seriously is hilarious to me. I think I sort of came up with this riff over top of his bass line.
AiXeLsyD – “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | It’s “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”, not “Dave’s Ugly Girlfriend.” People always seemed to get that wrong. Dave Ugly played bass & sang for one of our favorite local bands, Useless Torment. I don’t tell the story as well as An-Die, but Dave was apparently saying he loved him, and An-Die was playing the “even if…” game, and arrived at this. I remember being “mad” when Sum 41 came out as a punk band rapping. I think Boner played guitar on this one and Ben played Drums?
Gasoline Dion – “Bitch Pants Opera”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | I don’t know if we could do this one today. People seem so easily offended. It’s just a joke. We don’t really care if you wear girl pants. We’re not insinuating or implying anything. We look ridiculous too. Another Dave vocals song, I am screaming the high parts. All of us are in the beginning. I think the breakdown was inspired by hardcore /screamo kids in skinny jeans doing the windmill and Peelander-Z’s “S.T.E.A.K.”
Ernie and the Berts – “Ikea”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | Dave suggested I try a little more dynamics with space and clean. Dave is usually right. You can do a lot with the same 3 chords over & over. This was a slice of Erin’s life, full of his observations. We almost got permission to go in & shoot a video there. Somebody must have really listened to the lyrics. He had “nicer” ones prepared just in case we needed to sell out.
AiXeLsyD – “Love, Hopes, Dreams, & Smiles”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] |I think An-Die hated this one. I liked the noodling& the melody. The lyrics are super dumb & trite. The song was made infinitely cooler when Ben put in that volume swell in the final mix. That was never there, then we started doing it live after he did that to the recording. This could probably be punched-up a little bit more.
Gasoline Dion – “Two of a Kind”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy sings like an angel. I have no idea what in the hell he’s talking about here. I think Dave & Mike made this honky-tonk-ish. I played a little solo under Tommy’s vocals at the end because nobody ever told me not to. The end sounds like the Misfits’ “NY Ranger.”
Ernie and the Berts – “I Don’t Wanna”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin stole this one from a band called Suck-Your-Brains-A-Go-Go. I don’t know if they ever recorded it. I should ask the man who wrote it some time. We made it ours. I think Bengt punched-up some of the guitar & added a bit of harmonies during the recording process.
Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug (Reprise)”
[SoundCloud/YouTube] | Same thing as the first track, second solo take by me with a wah pedal this time. Dave is also on guitar making crazy noises and soloing in between all of my notes. Ha ha. If you don’t “get” the speaking part, watch the Josie and the Pussycats movie some time.
I’d love to know what you think, or to read/see/hear your own memories about these bands or in any bands or projects in which you have participated. Did I miss a song or two that you may have remembered or liked? Comments (or likes or whatever is deemed social-media-appropriate) on the songs on SoundCloud or YouTube would be awesome and greatly appreciated, too.
Check out the playlist on SoundCloud:
Check out the playlist on YouTube:
Can you Dig it?
I think you should be able to download a zip of the collection on Google Drive or SendSpace if you’re so inclined. If you can’t get it there, let me know and I can email it to you.
The AiXeLsyD stuff:
The Gasoline Dion stuff:
The Ernie and the Berts Stuff:
Check out some related posts:
NOTE: Edited to correct links to YouTube videos, made new ones for some slideshows that were too short. Also, check the comments!
Posted in Dad Stuff, Disbanded Bands, Free Music, Guitars, I Need Your Feedback, Inspiration, Life, Pittsburgh, Your Band, \m/
Tagged & Smiles, AiXeLsyD, AiXeLsyD13, Audacity, Bitch Pants Opera, Blog, Blogging, Cold, Cuts From the Crap, ǝʌıʇɔǝןןoɔǝɹ ǝʌıʇɔǝdsoɹʇǝɹ ǝʌıʇɔǝןɟǝɹ, D.I.Y., Dave Ugly's Girlfriend, Don't Fuck With Ernie, dreams, 🎸, ERiC AiXeLsyD, Ernie & the Berts, Ernie and the Berts, Fred Rogers, Gasoline Dion, gig, gigging, gigs, Google Drive, guitar, Hopeless & Heartless, Hopes, Hugs Taken By Force, I Don't Wanna Fuck You, Ikea, Learning Disabilities, Loading Noise, local, local band, local bands, local music, love, mp3gain, Music, Musician, Pennsylvania, Pgh, Pickle Farm, Pittsburgh, playlist, Political Song (With Deep Meaning), punk, punk rock, Reflective Retrospective Recollective, RRR, SendSpace, Shameless Plug, Shameless Plug (Reprise), sloppy pop punk rock, SoundCloud, Southwestern PA, Southwestern Pennsylvania, Stand Up, SWPA, Toybox, Two of a Kind, Useless Torment, W(aL)D, Wait, Who's Keeping Score?, WordPress, World (and Lunar) Domination, YouTube
So, tonight for dinner I made a new (to me) one. The wife has made it several times and it’s always a hit with the kids. I think her original recipe was entitled Santa Fe Stuffed Peppers. This takes out a bit of the spice and she’s not a huge fan of black beans (which I would have included). Everything here came from Aldi, except the slices of white American cheese. We just had that on hand, and no shredded cheese. It worked well.
Our 3 year old daughter wolfed down about a pepper and a half worth of filling, skipping the outer pepper for some reason. (She would possibly eat it all, or just the reverse tomorrow.) She said that we should have it every night for dinner. I noted that she really likes these, and her mom’s homemade Manwich-like sloppy joes, and that we should start a food truck that specializes in ground meat and call it “Ground Around Town.” She said we have to paint it pink. I asked if she wanted to cook or wash dishes. She chose cooking.
Out of all the stuff you think kids might be picky about, they gobble this up. (3 yo & 18mo). I like these better than the more traditional meatball w/ rice stuffed in a green pepper & covered in spaghetti sauce or tomato soup. For some reason, I can dig the rice & ground meat mixed… but I do not like rice in meatballs. The red, yellow, & orange peppers are very sweet too. I like them more than the green ones. Also, if you mention that you like your peppers stuffed with sausage, you can just close this tab and move on.
These were really easy to make…
All I did was…
Cook the rice & set it aside. I used the liquid from the can of tomatoes & a beef bullion cube in the water.
Cut the tops off of the peppers, pull out seeds & weird white stuff off of the inside. (Bethany parboils them first, I didn’t. I liked them a bit crunchier.)
Brown the ground beef, season to taste. I added onion powder, garlic powder, & seasoned-salt. (We have also used ground turkey for this. It’s delicious.)
Mix the fire-roasted diced tomatoes into the ground meat after draining the fat off.
Mix the rice & beef/tomatoes together.
Put the peppers in a glass baking dish. Pack the peppers with the tasty rice & beef goodness. Two didn’t stand up well on their own, so I made little foil stands.
I cooked them in a preheated oven at 375° for 20 minutes, then added the slices of cheese for 5 minutes.
Like I said, Bethany parboils the peppers so they’re a bit softer, so she cooks it at 325° for 20-25 minutes.
Next time, if I make this, I may cook the rice in tomato paste or other tomato flavoring, and add the black beans. Not sure what the kids would think. Maybe a little bit of heat would be nice too? This reminds me of Spanish rice in a pepper.
Do you make anything similar? Do you do stuffed peppers a different way? Do you stuff acorn squash like this? Do you do different seasonings? Make ’em meatless? (Toasted garbanzo beans & black beans might be really good in this!) Let me know in the comments!
Posted in Dad Stuff, Food, Recipes, Retailers
Tagged 325°, 375°, acorn squash, Aldi, Aldi USA, american cheese, °, bake, Beef, bell pepper, brown rice, bullion, Cheddar Cheese, Cheese, cheese slices, Cook, dinner, directions, fit & active, food truck, garlic powder, Giant Eagle, ground around town, Ground Beef, ground turkey, Happy Harvest, ingredients, Joke, Manwich, onionpowder, orange, oven, pepper, preheated, Recipe, Red, rice, Sausage, seasoned salt, shredded cheese, Sloppy joe, sloppy joes, Stonemill Essentials, stuffed, Stuffed Peppers, turkey, white american cheese, yellow