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Good morning and welcome to the Single Dad’s Guide to Life.  Another Wednesday is here, so it’s time for another in the series of food holidays we celebrate here at the Guide.  We find the finest of all recipes or ingredients and celebrate it here.  And if you want to mix it with a copious amount of ale, be our guest.  Each week we seek out foods meaningful to us, and celebrate them with all of you.  And for this week, we couldn’t think of a more amazing dish, soup or otherwise, to celebrate.  For today we celebrate the chowder, clam chowder.  And in a few days we will be partying with a big bowl of soup in our hands as February 25th is National Clam Chowder Day.

As far as my experience with Chowder, it hearkens back to the days since I was a child.  While it has been my experience to know so many different people who dislike seafood.  I love seafood.  I always loved seafood.  In fact, I do not believe there was ever a time I disliked seafood.  (Sushi maybe.  But this is a story for a whole other post.)  So when I was able to try out clam chowder at a restaurant for the first time when I was a child, love was in the air.  I took one sip of the creamy goodness and fell instantly in love.  (wedding invitations will be sent out next week)

Of course, later on, I would be introduced to a Manhattan version of the dish which used a tomato base instead of the cream and biscuits or flour as a thickening agent.  And I was surprised I really liked that as well.  Maybe it wasn’t quite the same dish as the more famous New England style clam chowder.  But it certainly gave it a run for it’s money.  (I know haters from New England who now think me sacrilegious.  But I say heck with them.  I am just polyamorous about my clam chowders.)

But what I really love about clam chowder is that my daughter loves this soup as well.  Why is it so important to me that this be the case you ask?  Because I know my ex does not like anything to do with seafood.  She abhors anything that even smacks of seafood.   Sometimes she retroactively hates foods because she finds they have seafood in them.  I have a whole story where she started hating a Caesar Salad at Mimi’s Cafe because after years of loving it, she found out the dressing had anchovies in it.  (Which only goes to show the hate is psychosomatic.)

She actively tries to pass this disgust of seafood on my daughter as her mother had done it to her.  So the fact that my daughter loves this soup means there is hope for her yet with seafood.  I consider this her gateway fish into all things seafood.  At least I hope so anyway.

Of course we wouldn’t be the guide if we ended things with just the reason why I loved Clam Chowder.  We know we need to take things a step further here, so the Guide celebrates every food holiday with an amazing and fantastical fake food history.  We spare no expense.  Going through the jungles of the Amazon Rain forest, searching out the ruins of Ancient Mayan civilizations, and exploring the depths of the dark web, we bring to you the finest in fake food history.  We could do no less.  (And probably not a whole lot more.)  In that vein, the Guide now presents to you the amazing and spectacular fake food history of . . .  Clam Chowder.  (Viewer Discretion is Advised.)

Fake Food History Of Clam Chowder

Once upon a time, in the land of France lived a Scotsman.   While we know the Scotsman did not like the French for any particular reason.  A famine in the land made them make a quick exit to the coast of France to find better living conditions and better potato farms locally.  One such Scotsman by the name of Clammy McDaniels brought his famous recipe for Cullen Skink to the shores of Normandy.  What is Cullen Skink you ask?  Well it’s not Cullen Skunk, because that would be a stinky dish.  What Cullen Skink consisted of was Haddock, Potatoes, Onions and water.  And if they had a little bit of salt and pepper that worked too.

Clammy decided lived in Normandy where their great fisherman just wanted to drink milk all day instead of fish.  So Clammy would bribe the fisherman with milk to be able to get them to do the fishing for the Haddock he so desperately desired for his dish.  One day, while preparing his Cullen Skink for his restaurant and getting the milk ready to bribe the fisherman with, he accidentally dropped the milk into the vat with the onions, potatoes, and haddock.  This fortuitous accident made it so his Cullen Skink sold better than it ever had before.  People from all over Normandy came to love it.

Unfortunately, the loss of milk made it so he had nothing to bribe the fisherman with.  So he did what he could to stretch out the soup as long as possible.  He added biscuits to thicken up the soup and make it more hearty, almost like a meal.  This did allow the soup to stretch out for days.  Unfortunately, when the soup ran out, he had a massive problem on his hands.  He could only get enough milk to bribe the fisherman, or to put in his soup.  And his customers no longer wanted the other edition of Cullen Skink.

So Clammy picked up his family and took them to the new world, moving to New England, well Boston Massachusetts anyway.  He wanted to go to Plymouth, where many of his ancestors had landed so long ago.  He walked onto the shores of Massachusetts for the very first time and picket up some soil from the seashore, running it through is fingers and appreciating the sense of freedom he would have after the bloodshed he fled in Normandy.  Because aside from lack of milk, this little revolution thing made life living in France a dangerous proposition.

And as she scooped up the dirt, he initially felt a sharp pain in his hands as a crab pinched him.  He threw the sound down and the clump ended up hitting his foot rather hard.  Between his pain in his hand, and his pain in his food, he wasn’t sure the U.S. was going to be any better for him, until he looked down at the “clump of sand” which he discovered to be a shell striking his foot.  He brought this up with him and found out from local indigenous people that the shells were found in vast quantities on the seashore of the region.  And the Indians found the quite tasty.

As Clammy McDaniels soon started up his restaurant, he decided to cater to many of the Native Americans in the area.  And so he made his Cullen Skink with milk and clams, instead of the way he had been taught to make it those many days ago in Scotland.  But, aside from the Indians, not many people purchased this dish because it sounded strange and gross.

Clammy knew he was in a pickle.  So he asked some of the tribesman he befriended what he should do.  The tribesman had grown to love Clammy so they took his problem very seriously.  And so two weeks later, after the elders of the tribe fought over how to help, they went back to Clammy and informed him, he should change the name.

“But it’s still the same dish,” Clammy whined.

“Clammy.  You know we love you.  But many white men are ridiculous.  They tell us one thing, and when we don’t like it, they change the name and do the same thing.  And they act like what they are doing is completely different.  And many people are fooled it is different.  But we know it’s the same.  So many people are fooled.”

“Do like other white men.  Tell them Cullen Skink is different.  Tell them it’s Chowder like the Vegetable Chowder up in Maine.  Only throw your name in to make people believe it’s something you made up.  So call it Clam chowder.”

Clammy thought about this piece of advice for a while and took it to heart.  He still tried for a few weeks to call it Cullen Skink.  All he had come in to his restaurant were natives.  So then he tried Cullen Chowder, named after the region in Scotland where he came from.  But too many people heard that and knew it was just Cullen Skink.  No new people came.  Eventually he decided to follow the sage advice of the elders.  And he put out Clam Chowder on the Chalkboard out in front of the restaurant.  Immediately, hundreds of new faces were seen in his shop.  And the rest, as we say, is fake food history.

Of course, this would eventually be know as New England Clam Chowder, the most famous of the chowders.  It became exceedingly popular during Fridays of Lent for Catholics as they would eat no beef.  Many restaurants carry this soup on Fridays to this day because of Lent.

Others would take the dish and try to make something different with it.  Eventually these people would leave out the milk or cream in place of a tomato paste they would add in and give it a very different and unique flavor.  Rhode Island Clam Chowder and Manhattan Style Clam Chowder came from these changes when they added the tomato bass.

Florida has it’s own unique chowder.  Influenced by Cuban Nationals, their chowder is thicker and very different.  It replaces the heavy cream with more spice and herbs found in the region.  If your mouth isn’t on fire after eating chowder from Florida, they didn’t make it right.  The chowder, in all it’s forms, spread to the four corners of the United States and the world.

Clam Chowder Recipe

The Guide prides itself on giving you the best of fake food history, but wait . . . there’s more.  We wouldn’t just leave you there.  We either provide local amazing places that serve the dish, or we come up with one of our favorite recipes of the dish.  As I just didn’t feel many places distinguished themselves above other places with their Clam Chowders, I didn’t feel like doing a list of great Clam Chowder establishments.  Instead, I went searching for some amazing Clam Chowder recipes to make at home.

No one does food like my main man Alton Brown, and his recipe I love the best for its simplicity and deliciousness.  You can catch the recipe in all of it’s goodness here, at the food network webpage.  Done back in his Good Eats days, I love watching him make it as you discover some of the most amazing science about your favorite dishes when you watch him.  The basic recipe goes as follows:

“Alton Brown’s Clam Chowder Recipe
Ingredients
  • 3 ounces salt pork, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced yellow onion
  • 6 cups small diced baking potatoes, like russets
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 (6.5 ounce) can clams, drained, juice reserved
  • 12 Little Neck clams
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Grape tomatoes, halved, for garnish
Directions
  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepot, cook the pork until crispy like a nice piece of bacon. Remove and discard.
  2. Cook the onion in the pork fat until it becomes nearly translucent.
  3. Add the potatoes and cover. Make sure the milk completely covers the potatoes and onions. Bring to a boil and let simmer until potatoes are soft. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a separate pot, fitted with a steamer basket, bring the reserved clam juice to a boil.
  5. Add clams and cover. Steam for three minutes until all clams are open.
  6. Take all of the clams out of the pot as they open and move to a bowl.
  7. Add the steaming clam juices to the pot with the chowder.
  8. Using a immersion blender and puree cooked potatoes and onions to desired consistency. Adjust seasonings.
  9. Finely chop the drained canned clams. Stir lightly into the chowder.
  10. Add Oyster Crackers on top or Saltines.  Pour into bowls.
  11. Add Sour Cream and chopped grape tomatoes to center as garnish.”
Continue The Conversation

So what do you think of the great history behind Clam Chowder?  Do you have a particular version that is your favorite?  And if so, what version is that?  If it’s not your favorite soup, which soup is your favorite.  I would love to learn.  It’s still soup season and I always love a good soup recipe.  One of my favorites is Jambalaya.  But I reserve the right to post my favorite recipe for that in a whole different blog post.

Like / Follow / Share

If you liked this post, please like at the end.  And definitely remember to follow me at the Guide.  Not only will you be kept up to date on the best in fake food history, but all of the other happenings whether at Knott’s Berry Farm or some other great giveaway that may be possible.  And of course, you will get access to all the best in single parent and single father information.  For email followers, you will get access to the Dad Rules . These are ten rules every father should know about and follow.  And beyond that, share this blog with your friends who love food and love learning a little bit about the history of food, in a totally fun and non-threatening manner.Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

The post Food Holidays: National Clam Chowder Day February 25th appeared first on The Single Dad's Guide to Life.

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Han Solo shot out of the Star Wars universe like a cannon.  Or as Han would put it, more like a blaster.  As much as we loved Luke, were attached to Leia, wanted to give Chewie a big hug and couldn’t get enough of the wisdom of Yoda, the Star Wars world wouldn’t be what it was today without Han Solo.  Whether you consider this sacrilegious or not, the whole story rested on the shoulders of Harrison Ford as the character of Solo.  Because it’s in Solo the audience has it’s one truly relatable character.  Which is why I am anxious about the new movie Solo: A Star Wars Story.  Because Star Wars rests on his shoulders.

“You like me because I’m a scoundrel. There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life.” – The Empire Strikes Back

Doubt me do you?  Let’s consider the other character’s involved.  As much as we love Luke Skywalker, and we have delusions of grandeur about picking up a light saber and being able to wield it like a Jedi master, he goes through a transformation that we have a hard time connecting with.  He starts A New Hope like a brash young kid.  But the by Jedi, he enters Jabba the Hut’s domain like some Buddhist monk.  Maybe we want to eliminate all of our desires (which even Luke fails at), but it’s not our experience of what it means to be human.

Then there is Leia.  My daughter loves Leia.  She kicks butt and takes names.  And she doesn’t even give in to the torture methods of Vader.  But no one can forget that Leia is a princess, first and foremost.  She may be the leader of a bunch of rebels, but she comes from royalty, which separates her out from the pack.  And she wears that gold bikini, which I’m guessing not too many people relate to.  I would not look good in a gold bikini.  *shudders*.

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” – A New Hope

How about Obi Wan Kenobi?  Nope!  Another Jedi master with a bit of a Hermit inside him.  And as much as his fight with Vader may have been an attempt at getting his comrades safely off the Death Star, I think he may have been off his rocker when he stated “strike me down, and I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” He might have spoken to Luke from the dead, but he certainly did not become more powerful.  (Although if the dead Yoda in The Last Jedi could cause lightning to strike down a tree, why in the world didn’t Yoda and Kenobi get involved in taking out the Empire sooner?  Hmmm???) I love Obi Wan.  But relate to him I do not.

What about Anakin Skywalker?  Of course, the series started in the middle with a New Hope, so by the time we meet Vader he is “more metal than machine,” as Kenobi put it.  He seems to have lost his humanity along the lines.  And while the story of Star Wars may have revolve around the Skywalkers (those stand alone films being the exception so far), and Anakin in particular, do we actually relate to him?  He begins as the immaculate conception part 2, traverses into the perfect partner for Bella in the Twilight Series by the Clone Wars, and ends up as Frankenstein’s monster by the end of Revenge of the Sith.  The fact that Luke can extract one ounce of humanity from him by Jedi is a miracle in itself.  Interesting character?  Yes.  Badass Villain?  Absolutely.  Relatable?  Hell no!

“No! Stop, Chewie, stop! Chewie! Chewie this won’t help me! Hey! Save your strength.” – The Empire Strikes Back

We can try to take a look at all of the aliens in the series.  And as cute as they may be (Porgs), or badass as they can be (Yoda), we just do not connect to them in some meaningful way.  Mostly because their experience of life and the universe differs from ours in significant ways.  Or, like Yoda, they speak in riddles which can make for understanding fun, even if difficult.  But it all goes to the fact we cannot relate to these beings in a meaningful way.  Or at least not in the way which would carry a series.

Finally, if you are really stretching things, there are other characters to look at in the series.  We have the evil emperor Palpatine.  Or Mace, the Jedi Windu.  Or we could take a look at Boba Fett and Count Dooku.  Boba Fett became more like the bounty hunter’s version of Vader by the end, and Count Dooku is just plain nutty.  You can’t even feel sorry for him when Palpatine betrays him and has him killed by Anakin at the end.  This makes another dead end.

“Wonderful girl. Either I’m going to kill her or I’m beginning to like her.” – A New Hope

Which leaves us with Solo, master of the universe.  Ok, maybe not quite master, but the central figure to Lucas’ space opera.  First, Solo is rough around the edges.  His represents the quintessential American male.  Kind of like a John Wayne in space.  He is going to look out for himself primarily before he worries or even thinks about worrying for anyone else.  In this we relate to him as a flawed human, which we all are.

Second, he bumbles his way through relationships mostly on bluster.  Before the days of inventing yourself on the internet, in order to have a relationship, you had to interact with a person.  Those interactions were often funny and awkward, leading to some crazy conclusions.  (I think the internet screwed up dating in many ways which you can read here.)  Han shows that awkward vulnerability to the extreme.

And finally, Solo changed throughout the piece.  Yes, other people change, but none of them retain their humanity in quite the way Han does.  He grows to be a more loving and caring person, volunteering to fight danger.  And yet vulnerable enough to be worried that Leia may be falling in love with Luke, showing moments of insecurity. (**Spoiler alert.  She’s not because EWWW!!!)  And in changing, Han changes for the better, which we all hope to do in our lives.  For better or worse, Han is our guy.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Trailer Review “I used to wonder about that myself. Thought it was a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. A magical power holding together good and evil, the dark side and the light. Crazy thing is… it’s true. The Force. The Jedi… All of it… It’s all true.” – The Force Awakens

Which brings me to Solo: A Star Wars Story.  If the preceding paragraphs haven’t cemented Han’s legacy as the seminal person in the Star Wars universe, maybe there is a light saber training school nearby you can go to.  Just don’t give into anger.  Because “anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.”  And we all know where that suffering ends.  It ends with you in a black suit taking orders from a creepy man in a dark cape with lightning shooting from his fingers.  And you know it wouldn’t be a good look for you.

This leaves me with the rest of you, who know what I am talking about.  You know who you are.  And you know you love Han.  Because who doesn’t love Han.  (Even if he did shoot first.)  This brings me to the latest trailer or information we have about the movie.  While Disney does like to put lots of marketing out there for its pictures, they do try to keep everything tight lipped about major plot points and characters.  Some of which you can only hope to glean from Star Wars Lego sets.  So while I would not consider myself the greatest of trailer reviewers, I will attempt to review the latest trailer from Solo: A Star Wars Story.

“I’ve been running scams on the streets since I was ten.” (Han)- Solo Trailer

This quote opens up the new Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer.  I am going to begin with duh!  Of course he’s been running scams.  Who would Solo be in A New Hope if he hadn’t been running scams before.  What I find interesting about this shot is it begins with Solo in a Speeder, which harkens us back to the days of Luke and his landspeeder.  Maybe it’s why Han takes on a father figure role in Luke’s life.  He sees a bit of himself in Luke.

“I was kicked out of the flight academy for having a mind of my own.” (Han) –Solo Trailer

Ok, so it’s no surprise that Han drives recklessly on the streets where he lives.  But him being a part of the flight academy harkens back to little known stuff from the Star Wars expanded universe novels which are no longer considered cannon.  It is possible they loved a few of the elements of Han’s backstory and borrowed them for the new “cannon.”  So he was in the Academy (shock!) and they kicked him out for not taking orders. (Can you sense the non-shock here.)

“I’m going to be a pilot.  The best in the galaxy.” (Han)- Solo Trailer

Well duh!  But what I love about this quote is what’s going on visually at the same time.  You get the view of a very new looking Millennium Falcon.  As the Falcon is just as much of a character in the Star Wars Universe as anyone else, you cannot help but get shivers up your spine here if you are a Star Wars nerd like me.  The trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story already attempts to tie both Han and the Falcon inexorably together, as they were meant to be.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

“Hey kid!  I’m putting together a crew.” (Beckett)- Solo Trailer

Aside from the obvious notion where you can connect how Beckett’s (Woody Harrelson) character relates to Solo in a way Han will later relate to Luke, you gotta love the visuals flying by here.  The location of the conversation at a place surrounded by ancient runes, followed by flashes of Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), Lando (Donald Glover), and Val (Thandie Newton) fill the screen.  As much as I love Emilia Clark (any Game of Thrones lover would), with one look Donald Glover exudes that brash opulence for which Lando Calrissian is known.  Made me want to stand up and cheer.  You gotta love it.

“You in?”  (Beckett)  “*Chewbacca Howl*” (Chewbacca) “That’s yes.” (Han) – Solo Trailer

I think the strange thing here was Han explaining what Chewbacca meant by his howl.  Han rarely explains what Chewie says.  Occasionally by what Han says meaning is conferred.  But not directly spoken.  Here we have Han playing Chewbacca’s translator.  It’s possible because their relationship is fairly new here, so Han feels the need to do so, which he will not feel later.  It just felt strange to me.

“I might be the only person who knows . . . what you really are.” (Qi’ra) – Solo Trailer

Lots of visuals flash by at this point.  So many it’s hard to express.   We have the crazy casino looking dance area with a singer up front, Qi’ra looking on concerned, Han unsheathing his blaster, Moloch and Han getting ready for a duel, and the crew possibly escaping a planet base blowing up.  As for the line, you would suppose it’s because Qi’ra and Solo have a past together.  Whatever this past means and whatever it means for the future, it’s hard to know.  But one hopes this past is explored and how it possibly sets up how he responds when he eventually meets Leia.

“What’s that?” (Han) – Solo Trailer

Of course the biggest portion of this is the look on his face.  Han begins the question with the brashness of Solo from later days.  He seems supremely confident of himself and his place in the world.  Han challenges Qi’ra with this response.  But this smile fades into a questioning of himself.  My first reaction to this was negative.  How could they make Han so seemingly insecure?  Especially after what the next part of the trailer shows.

But I changed my mind about this for two reasons.  First, Qi’ra and Han have history.  This history would make him more insecure than in any other relationship.  He might be scared by the question.  And the second reason was remembering the Han in Return of the Jedi.  His feelings about Leia have made him more vulnerable.  There has to be a bit of this with Qi’ra.  The change from smirk to insecurity suits him here.

“Get ready!”  (Pause) “I thought we were in trouble for a second but it’s fine.  We’re fine.” (Han) – Solo Trailer

The final piece of the trailer shows Han displaying his fabulous flying skills.  What made me a little awkward feeling about this was it’s following directly on the look of insecurity from the part of the trailer immediately preceding this.  Of course, in the movie it will come at two entirely separate times.  But this just felt like he was insecure, and then insecure some more about his abilities.  Obviously, we have a younger Han who is quite capable of flying the Falcon into and out of danger.  And maybe with a lot less experience his felt a lot less brash.  It just felt odd coming from Han’s mouth.

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I admit when it came to writing the today’s post, I really did not know what to write.  I am trying to get into a regular regimen when it comes to exercising.  Fitness Fridays for Fathers is my initiative.  In it, I  list the goals I planned the previous week.  I then review my accomplishments, and I talk about next week’s goals.  It’s been a little crazy this year.  So I have kind of felt off kilter when it comes to succeeding in my exercise goals.  I know that I need to do work when it comes to exercise but between doing all of the things I have been doing . . . when I had the time to exercise, I just haven’t.  Combine this with the fact the Guide reached 200 today (200 posts that is), and I really didn’t know what I wanted to talk about.

What Does 200 Mean?

200 is such a crazy number.  I went about doing research on the magic number 200.  What I ended up with were a lot of contradictory reports.  Some people considered it to be some angelic number which showed us good things were on the horizon.  Not that I have any clue what things they were using to try and show 200 to have some angelic status.  But they considered it to be a harbinger of good things to come.  Angels were watching over us.  So thank you for the angels watching over the guide through our 200th blog post.  We hope you will continue to watch over us for the next 20,000.  (You heard me!  I’m crazy!  20,000 posts.  Woo hoo!!!)

Or . . . then I found the down side of 200.  This is where we get into that other magical thing I do not believe in.  Numerology.  At least with astrology, we can think of reasons why certain people might generally have certain traits.  (No, you will not convince me that Venus with the moon in retrograde will make me eat chocolate all day.)  We enter people into school with January being the beginning month.  Hence January will more often than not see leaders and organizers.  It makes sense as they would be the oldest people in school (mostly).  And people would respect that.

But with numerology?!?!  Seriously?  Why should being born in 2010 mean I like to pick my nose?  Or why would the number 200 mean Chicken Little takes on the world?  I cannot for the life of me come up with a logical explanation to these phenomena.  Hence, you will not get me to believe in it.

But it’s fun thinking about it anyway and so I do here.  200 according to Biblical numerology seems to be a number of insufficiency.  It means that I do not have enough of whatever I should to be able to make things go well.  Which I suppose can make me view this one of two ways.  I should either quit right now because I am just not sufficient enough.  Or I should charge on ahead because I just need to do more.  Or something like that.  But I won’t quit because I just cannot give up on myself.

From 200 To Infinity And Beyond

Either way you look at it, angelic or insufficient, 200 seems to mean everything, or nothing.  I just don’t know which.  What I do know is that I will not be quitting on this blog.  I am enjoying the writing and getting to know all of you who have followed me on this journey.  And I thank you for joining me on this journey to the first 200.  Hope to see you all the way to the next 200.  I won’t count on the next 19,800.  Who knows what I will be writing about then?  Dentures and Depends, or something similar I guess.

And in the same way, I have no intention on quitting my fitness goals, no matter what difficulties may arise.  So I will venture over last weeks goals and see how well I have accomplished them this past week.  And I will be honest about what I have done and haven’t done.  Sometimes things are difficult, and sometimes I won’t have done what I will have hoped.  But this won’t stop me from still setting forth goals for myself.  I can’t do that to myself.  So here is how I did on the goals from last week:

Last Weeks Goals – Fitness Fridays For Fathers
  • Make It To The Gym At Least 2 Times
    • Nope.  Just haven’t done it.  I meant to try to make it out this last week.  I just hadn’t been able to get out there.  And what’s worse is I am having some issues with my gym membership now.  Hopefully I fix it all sometime in the next week and a half.
  • Plan 1 Hike A Week
    • I did plan one hike of sorts with my daughter this week.  I know an Amusement Park isn’t a hike exactly.  But with the amount of walking around I get to do while there, I figured it could count as one.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching what shoes my daughter was wearing.
  • Change My Lunch Habits At Work
    • I have tried to mix it up a bit when it came to what I was eating.  I did eat a salad this week.  But at the same time I didn’t work as much on purchasing food to have at work.  So that changed.
  • Encourage My Daughter To Do One Athletic Thing Every Time I Have Her
    • We did try to get out of the house and walk around when I was with her this past weekend.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do it for nearly as long as I would like.  She ended up only having a pair of boots with her when I had her.  So we didn’t get to do it for nearly as long as I would have liked.
  • Rearrange Bedroom Furniture
    • I didn’t follow through on this just yet.  I did start to straighten up the room which I needed to do before moving my bed into position.  But I didn’t get the major work done.  I am hoping to accomplish this for this weekend.  So we shall see how I do.
  • Increase My Water Intake
    • I know I started with this the past week with many good intentions.  I would drink a glass or two.  But then I went back to drinking my diet soda.  I need to get back to exercising.  I know it will increase my water intake.
  • Get More Sleep
    • I did have a couple of days where I slept more.  But I really could use some more daily, or when I stay up late, have the ability to sleep in the next day.  Crossing my fingers about this week.
  • Connect With Other Bloggers On A Fitness Journey
    • I need to do some more reaching out to other bloggers who are involved in fitness in one way or another.  I think it’s good to work with and collaborate with others along the journey.  It’s in sharing goals with others where we truly be able to accomplish things.
So On To Next Week – Fitness Fridays For Fathers

This year I really wanted to not get fixated in a rut of trying to accomplish the same things every week.  No week is like any other.  So it makes no sense to try to force doing the same things every week.  Some weeks I can accomplish the same things.  Other weeks I will not be able to accomplish exactly the same things.  I will have to be adaptable.  I will need to have flexibility.

It is with this flexibility in mind, I will be putting the list of goals together for Gym Watch 2018.  Ok, maybe not Gym Watch.  Maybe just the third installment for Fitness Fridays For Fathers.  Here are next weeks goals:

Weekly Goals
  • Going On A Hike Three Times This Week
    • I make this plan because I know I will not be able to make it to the gym given some difficulties I have had with my payments there.  When I get it resolved I will be back at the gym.  In the meantime, I will focus on doing hiking for the coming week.
  • Make Two Salads For Work This Week
    • I am trying to get more specific in my goals.  Hence, I will be planning on two salads this week to make for a healthier week at work.  This, of course will mean making plans for home.  My goal will be to prepare things so that I eat my stuff at work. It will be a short work week but this will mean two thirds of my days will be eating healthy.
  • Rearrange Bedroom Furniture
    • This should be self explanatory.  I didn’t do it last week.  I want to this week.
  • Increase Water Intake
    • Just want to improve upon last week.
  • Increase Sleep
    • One again, I want improvement in this area this week.
  • Connect With Fitness Bloggers
    • I want reach out to at least one other fitness blogger this week.  Whether it means responding to their blog or something else.  I am looking forward to making a connection this week.  It’s all about the networking.  And so I will be Mr. Network by next week.  I hope.  Maybe.
  • Walk My Dog More This Week
    • Oreo does get to get out and run around.  But I need to give him more.  Going with my dog on journeys will help the both of us.  And he is someone who I don’t have to worry about shoes.  I hope.  At least I don’t think he wants to make a fashion statement.  Anyway.  Onward and Upward.  And hopefully, Oreo and I will bond some with the walks.  Should be fun.
Continue The Conversation

So what does the number 200 mean to you?  Do you have something that you associate with you?  Ironically for me, it’s the amount I want to weigh when all is said and done.  I believe it’s my sweet spot between super BMI man and what I am willing to do to make it happen.  That’s my goal for this year.  Do you have a number associated with your goals?  What would that be?  I would love to hear.

Like / Follow Me

Be sure to keep following me here at the Guide.  The best way to do that is to subscribe.  Get regular updates and Newsletters about all the happenings here.  You don’t want to miss a one.  And keep up with the weekly Fitness Fridays For Fathers as I expand and talk about various health issues for dads as we head into the spring and summer.  Plus like my post here at the end.  It’s helps me plan out things at the site better.

Until next time, dads get your fitness on.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

The post Fitness Fridays For Fathers: The Guide Reaches The Big 200 appeared first on The Single Dad's Guide to Life.

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*LEGOLAND® California Resort has provided tickets for consideration for this post, which includes a giveaway.  And while they have provided the tickets, all of the thoughts and opinions in this post are strictly my own.

LEGOS have been a part of my daughter’s life since birth.  In fact, before she was born, her mother and I kept a case full of all the Harry Potter Legos sets.  She had not choice but to like them.  But when they released the Friends LEGO play sets she squealed.  Every Christmas since she was five-years-old she would ask for the new Friends LEGO set from Santa. And when I took my daughter to LEGOLAND® California Resort for the first time, she was giddy.  Between the amazing LEGO sets and the LEGO movie, she was in LEGO heaven.  But she shot right past heaven once she found the LEGO Friends.  We have been back there multiple times since.  And as we love LEGOs so much, the Guide is happy to announce KIDS GO FREE to LEGOLAND® California Resort when you buy an Honest Kids Juice 8 ct Carton.

It can be difficult to get your child to get their vitamin C, and with the crazy flu that has gone around this flu season, Honest Kids Juice boxes provide 100 percent of your daily Vitamin C needs.  And if you get a free child’s ticket to LEGOLAND® California Resort with the purchase of an Adult Park Hopper ticket as a result, what are you waiting for?  When you purchase the 8 ct Carton, be sure to bring the offer and proof of purchase from the box to get your free child’s (3-12) ticket with Adult ticket purchase.

My daughter and I love walking through all the different lands throughout the LEGOLAND California Resort.  But this year LEGOLAND takes their fun LEGO blueprint, and takes it to a whole new level.  You can join your favorite Ninjago heroes in the new LEGO® NINJAGO®: Master of the 4th Dimension 4D film now open!  It’s takes the whole 3D process to a whole new level.  I was going to say how exciting it would be with all the new technology they have involved, but who am I kidding?  I want to be there just to control the fireballs.  How cool is that?!? And once you are done watching the film, make sure to go out and experience LEGO NINJAGO the ride.

As for my daughter, you know I have said that she’s a Friend’s girl herself.  So she will be making sure she checks out Heartlake city.  She really needs to make sure she can catch up with Olivia because it’s just been too long.

And as you would have your own park hopper ticket, make sure to check out the Legoland Water Park.  They have a lazy river (or so they would have you believe) where you build your own raft.  I think my daughter would never be able to get enough of this.  And, if you dare, race against the clock on the riptide racers.  Just remember that the Water Park season begins on March 5th.  That’s because we are in California of course!!!

And if you would rather be dry while checking out the water, make sure you go to visit the SEA LIFE® aquarium.  I know that some of my favorite times with my daughter have been when we have been able to check out all of the amazing sea creatures there.  There is nothing like getting up close and personal with the aquatic life.  I’m excited to see the Sea at Night display coming this spring featuring an amazing bioluminescence display.

Special offers are available for LEGOLAND Hotel packages are available at the website.  LEGOLAND will be opening up the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel in the very near future.  It sounds and looks amazing.

We at the Guide are thankful that LEGOLAND is providing four tickets for us to giveaway to the readers of The Single Dad’s Guide to Life.  As you can see, there is so much going on there, you should definitely go there as soon as you can.

**The Honest Kids Buy One Get One Free Offer may also be purchased at http://www.LEGOLAND.com/HonestKids Use promotional code: 189900. ** As far as the Sweepstakes, the rules include the following: 1)  Grand Prize (Just One Grand Prize Available) – 4 One Day LEGOLAND California Resort Tickets.  These tickets are good for LEGOLAND California only.  Tickets are good until 12/31/2018. 2)  Who can enter? – Any legal resident of the United States who is 18 years of age or older. 3) Contest Duration – Contest begins 12:00 AM EST February 14th 2018 and ends on February 28th 2018 12:00 A.M. EST.  Winners will be notified within two business days after contest ends. 4)  How To Enter – You can enter any one of three ways: answering a question; following me on twitter; and tweeting a message about the sweepstakes.  You can receive up to three entries for the sweepstakes. 5) How Winner Is Chosen – The winner for the giveaway is chosen randomly through Rafflecopter. 6) Should You Have Any Issues – Please contact me at toastycritic@gmail.com if you have any issues with entry.  Any more than three entries per person will be discarded.  If you are already connected through twitter, you may add me on Instagram or subscribe to my blog as a replacement for following me on twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Continue The Conversation

So what is your favorite memories of LEGOs when you were a child?  And if you have been to LEGOLAND, what was your favorite part of LEGOLAND?  I know my daughter and I have had such a good time there.  I really thought the Star Wars areas and the Las Vegas areas were simply amazing.  They were very impressive.  My daughter loved making her own cars and racing them.

Like / Follow Me

If you liked this post, please like this post at the end and follow me on the Guide.  No extra consideration for the sweepstakes will be given to those who subscribe to the blog.  But if you already follow me on twitter, subscribing will provide you one extra entry.  Follow this blog via email and you will be given the password to the Dad Rules.  These are ten rules every father should follow.  Thank you for stopping by once again.

Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

The post Free at Last! LEGOLAND Offers Free Child Park Hopper Tickets With Adult Paid Admission appeared first on The Single Dad's Guide to Life.

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“No!  Not the buttons!  Not the gumdrop buttons!”  A the gingerbread man in Shrek had a way of putting things so succinctly.  And with that I welcome you to the Guide for another in a series of food posts we do here at the Guide where we celebrate all things food.  Normally, I would have posted this on Wednesday this year, but I have another special post to do on Wednesday, and I didn’t want to miss my food post for the week.  As I started to think about what we could celebrate, I became despondent as I struggled with some of the dates on the food holidays.  And that left us with the one candy that haunts our dreams every Christmas.  As this February 15th we celebrate National Gumdrop Day.

Gummy type candy has existed for hundreds of years and my experience with gumdrop type candy goes back to my birth.  For whatever reason, every wedding, every funeral, and every church event I went to as a child seemed to be littered with gumdrops somewhere amidst the sweets on the table.  And of course they look so fun.  They are these little dome shaped candies, frequently dipped in sugar, and a gummy texture.

Of course, for the most part, this was the extent of what the candies were.  They did not have much to it other than the sugar and the pectin they would add to the candies.  Oh, and some food coloring as well.  So every time I would go to one of these various functions I would become excited by the candy sprinkled in sugar which came in various different colors.  And as I was a child who was allergic to chocolate (an allergy which went away thankfully), I appreciated the texture and flavor of candy as much as anything else.  This made gummy candies a lot of fun.  But the fun of these candies would last about as long as the flavor of a strip of fruit striped gum.  Inevitably a few would be left on my plate.

Which made me very thankful as the years went on that candy makers decided that sticking some flavor in their candy might actually be a good thing.  They would add citrus and spices as well as many other flavorings which would vastly improve the taste of these gum drop candies.  It’s like the equivalent between eating a Jelly Belly jelly bean versus a regular flavored jelly bean.  The vast difference shocks your senses.

As with all of the food holidays we have, we will continue to make sure you are given the full details behind the history of some of our more remarkable dishes.  Whether it be priests blazing a trail into the dark forests of Mexico, or goddesses giving peep shows to unsuspecting innkeepers who love to navel gaze, our food holidays make sure to bring you only the complete fake truth behind these foods.  We would put our fake research up against anyone else’s as we delve into the vastness of the dark web or use our completely fake time machine.  We insist on bringing to you the truth of food as it should have been written.  So with this in mind, we bring you the completely fake truth behind the Gumdrop.

The Fake History Of The Gumdrop

Once upon a time, in the land of ancient America, somewhere after the time of the indigenous people and before the time of cotton gins and railroads lived a man in the Appalachian Mountains by the name of Virginus Gumdropicus.  Way up in the hills where no one dared to go except people who belonged in the movie Deliverance was a mother and his boy.  Every six months, the boy would go down from the hills of Appalachia and down into the town of Roanoke.  Of course the boy didn’t realize how dangerous a town called Roanoke could be.

The boy would bring moonshine into the town from his mother’s distillery up in the mountains and sell it to the local markets in exchange for sugar, flour, and other essential supplies to have up in the mountains.  But the whiskey business had been going down the last couple of years, and the chickens which usually produced the eggs for their place in the hills wasn’t producing like it could.  So this year was going to be different.

His mother instructed him to bring the chickens with him and sell them for what little they could.  Maybe someone who had a good rooster could breed the birds and get something useful from them.  So Virginicus brought the birds down to the town to sell them when he ran into an old woman in the woods who seemed to have candies all around her place.  Virginicus knew the rumors of her being a witch.

She was sitting outside her home with these strange looking candies that were see through and colored.  When she saw him she began waiving him over.  Virginicus wasn’t sure whether he should come over, but his chickens ran towards all the colored candy and began pecking at it.

“Your chickens seemed to be enamored with my candy, boy.  What are you going to do to pay me back for the damage they have done to my candy fence?”

“I don’t know mam.  What can I do?  I need to go soon and sell my chickens before the market closes this evening.  But I promise to come back tomorrow on my way back home to help you fix your fence.”

“On your word of honor or I will curse your and your teeth will turn into beans in your mouth.”

“Yes, Mam.”

So Virginicus left to sell his chickens and brought money back with him to his mother.  Unfortunately he forgot to go back to the witch.

And as he arrived at his mother’s place past the clouds and into the mountains his teeth turned into beans.  Virginicus started spitting out white beans from his mouth as he tried to tell her he got the mother for the chickens.  His mother screamed at him for bringing back only beans.  And told him to not come back until he brought home the money for the chickens.

Virginicus ran and ran until he arrived back at the witches door.  He started pounding on it.

“I’m coming.  I’m coming,” the old witch said.

Virginicus attempted to speak but only more beans came out from his mouth and grunts.

The witch started to laugh a little as she opened the door. “You forgot your promise and come straight after selling your chickens.  Well . . . hmmm.”  She laughed some more. “I will give you your teeth back if you help me make the jelly for my candy drops.”

Virginicus nodded his head profusely.

“Good, now lets get some fruit and this heat it up into the pan.”

Virginicus ran to the side of the yard to get some berries off the trees that wrapped around the inside of the witches candy fence.  And after an hour or so, he had picked enough to make the jelly.

“Now heat up the fruit, pour in some sugar, and something special from the jar right there.  The brown one.”

Virginicus’ mouth dropped when he saw the poison sign on the top of the bottle.  He read the word pectin underneath.

The witch laughed again.  “I only put that sign on there to keep my son from hogging all my pectin.  He lived up in a city in the clouds.  But only some magic beanstalk would get you there.  In the meantime, whenever he visits his mother he wants to steal all my pectin to make jelly around the house.  The great big guy practically robs me out of house and home.”

Virginicus shrugged.

“Well this recipe for my fence is special.  It requires and extra helping of pectin.  Pour triple the amount.”

Virginicus did and then kept stirring until it all jelled up into one big hardening mush in the pan.  The witch took a long knife and pulled it from the pan.  It came out almost like a cone with the top chopped off.  The witch then took some of the leftover candy and put it against his gums as Virginicus beans from his mouth all fell out.  Virginicus looked up at the witch quizzically.

“Put those on your teeth every day for the next seven days and your teeth will come back in.  Just remember, you must keep your word to any woman who might put a curse on you, or your life will become nothing more than a pile of beans.  Speaking of which.  Did you lose any of the beans from your mouth?”

“No mam,” Virginicus mumbled with his fingers crossed behind his back.

“Good, because I don’t think you want to meet my boy.  It might not go well.”

“Yes, mam,” Virginicus said as he slowly backed his way out of the house.  He took the little jelly the witch had given them to get his teeth back and ran.

Eventually, Virginicus made it back home to his mom who slapped him something silly until he gave her the money he got for the chickens.  His mom then smiled for half a second before slapping his butt for being out all day.

And five days later his teeth finally dropped from his gums through the crazy jelly he put.  But a bit of the jelly was left and Virginicus rolled them into drops. Of course something else came up from those beans.  But those beans are a whole other story.  What we can say is that those drops Virginicus and his mom would sell to Roanoke became so popular they spread throughout the land.

Percy Comes To The Rescue

Of course, as yummy as those gummys were, they were pretty darn hard.  And while people liked them, they did not do too well because they would stick in people’s teeth and never come out.  This was until Percy Trusdale, from Ohio, decided something must be done.

He went back to his laboratory with his white lab coat and pocket protector at Ohio State and decided something needed to be done to get this gumdrop not to stick in his teeth so badly.  His first focus was on the texture of the gumdrop, making it only difficult instead of impossible to get out of your teeth.  Next he took to add various different flavors like black licorice, clove, all-spice, cinnamon, spearmint, and peppermint.  Eventually his big changes to the gum drop would become the gum drops everyone knows today.  (except Dots which are their own unique brand of gumdrop)

Recipe For Gumdrops

So what did you think of the history of the Gumdrop?  I always find it fun doing the research behind the history, and creating some of the stories for something as unique as National Gumdrop Day.  But as you who follow my food blog posts know, I don’t like to leave you hanging when it comes our favorite foods.  I like to give you either a favorite recipe for consumption or a favorite list of places which serve that kind of food.  And while I would love to tell you some of the great places which serve gumdrops, I am not sure sending you to my old church would be the best bet.  (Although they did have some pretty amazing potlucks.) .

Instead I will provide you with the best gumdrop recipe I could find.  As I don’t have a specific variation on a recipe, I will give you the best recipe I know for making gumdrops.  It’s fairly straight forward, which I like.  Follow this link here to Tablespoon and enjoy making your very own gumdrops.  I like it especially when you can have a lot of different extracts on hand to add flavor to your gumdrops.  And if you do something unexpected with the colors and the flavors just to mix it up a bit (sometime like Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans), it can be kind of fun as well.

Continue The Conversation

So what did you think of the Gumdrop history? How would you celebrate National Gumdrop Day? Also, I would love to see how this recipe turned out for you.  I just love having so many different flavors and not requiring too many different steps.  Candy can be so temperamental at times.  It’s nice when a recipe is so straight forward.  What are some of your favorite jelly type candies and why?  And what do you think of Dots?  Just curious.

Like / Follow Me

If you liked this post about National Gumdrop Day, please follow me here at the Guide.  We try to do a weekly series on food holidays, and it’s always a lot of fun.  Check out some of my previous ones for sure.  And follow me here at the Guide to get all of the latest updates on these food holidays.  Thank you for stopping by.

Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, The Single Dad’s Guide to Life

The post Food Holidays: National Gumdrop Day February 15th appeared first on The Single Dad's Guide to Life.

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Hi! And welcome to the Single Dad’s Guide to Life.  And welcome back to the fitness series we have here on Fridays at the Guide.  I apologize the last couple of weeks I have been preoccupied finishing up a few other things before getting back to writing about fitness.  Between finishing up the series I had been working with on perspectives, and beginning my Berry Blogging for Knott’s Berry Farm, I had become side tracked in other areas of life.  And while those areas are good things, I have dedicated myself this year to making some progress in fitness.  So I am resetting Fitness Fridays for Fathers 2018.

Needing To Refocus

I know I began this year with focusing on the ways I was going to get fit.  I took a look at the how I was going to accomplish my goals this year.  Whether it was counting calories or making sure I went out on hikes or made it to the gym, I tried to come up with methods for getting better.  But sometimes when things aren’t working, or you aren’t accomplishing the goals the way you would like to, you need to take a step back and analyze why you are doing what you are doing.

Focused On The How

We start off the year focusing on the what but somehow we end up fixated on the how.  While we start by saying we want to lose 20 pounds. So we get fixated on going to the gym and trying to eat fewer calories.  Or if not fewer calories, healthier calories.  Or we decide we are going to do something like writing a bunch this year.  So we spend our time writing two hundred words or more every day.

Forgot The Why

But in two months we give up the dream.  Why do we give up the dream?  Going to the gym gets too painful just for twenty pounds.  Or giving up that piece of chocolate cake is too high a price to pay to just lose two pant sizes.  It just doesn’t seem worth it to you to do the things you would need to do to stay healthy.  And why is this is the case?  I suggest it is because you haven’t gone back to the real thing you are doing.  You are doing doing this for something.

Yes, being healthy is good.  And getting that twenty pounds off will drop you one pant size and possibly allow you to live a year or two more.  But those things like nebulous years in the future do not excite us.  I am reminded by a fellow blogger that in order to get to where I want to be I need to find “the sweet-spot between where you think you should be and the things you’re willing to do every day to maintain it.”  And that ultimately comes from getting “quiet with yourself and figuring out where you draw your value from.”

Know Thyself

We can come up with the what and hows all we want to.  But it really comes down to knowing more about ourselves and what we want from life.  Whatever my feelings about the gym may be, I can be knocked off of doing it when other things come around in my life which supplant my desire to go to the gym.  I have spent a lot of time writing and enjoying myself writing.  And I have been involved in different events, which I have enjoyed immensely.  They easily supplanted wanting to go to the gym.  And even though I would love those 20 pounds gone, I cannot tell myself I would love the gym more than a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm or spending time with my daughter.

Here Is My Reason Why

It really comes down to figuring out about what my own values are.  What is my why?  And of course, today I go back to thinking about what I want more than anything in the world.  Aside from world peace, a stick of bubble gum and a trip to Australia, I want for my daughter to be the biggest success in the world.  And I want to be able to be there for her.  How can I be there for her if I am unwilling to take care of myself.  I may love going to things, but if I want to be there for her in the long run, I will need to make the sacrifices I have to in order to do just that.

So this week, in order to reboot the whole fitness goals for the year, I wanted to sit back and remind myself of the how. I thought about my daughter graduating high school.  I thought about watching her get her first job.  And I thought about her getting married and seeing my own grandchildren.  I want to be there for all of those moments, and I don’t want to be a shell of my former self when it happens.  It’s this vision I will turn to while I stare at the set of barbells or the long trail on the hike ahead of me.  And it can motivate me more than the slice of cheesecake staring at me from behind the glass window at Cheesecake Factory.  (Darn that Cheesecake Factory!!!)

I could get fixated on my failures for the last two weeks and give myself a grade, but I feel like I have been harsh enough to myself this week.  And I want to focus on the positive things moving forward.  Doesn’t mean I don’t want accountability.  It does mean worrying about what transpired before, I am hoping putting my why out there will help.  I want to find the “sweet spot”.  So to this endeavor, I now give you my goals for next week.

Goals For Next Week – Fitness Fridays For Fathers 2018

  • Make It To The Gym At Least 2 Times
    • I know it’s not fun, but it needs to get done.  I need to just go a couple of times at least to work on the weight lifting aspect.  Yes cardio is important.  But cardio can be done anywhere.  Weight lifting . . . not so much.  And I need to get started somehow.  I am going to do it.
  • Plan 1 Hike A Week
    • The crazy thing is I am a series of paradoxes.  I simultaneously hate being alone, and love the beauty and aloneness you experience while hiking.  So while I don’t like the idea of going out by myself, I love the serenity that the hiking provides.  I just need to find someone who is good with alone together.
  • Change My Lunch Habits At Work
    • I have a tendency to eat out at work.  While I am not opposed to restaurants, it means being lazy and sometimes it means I am lazy with my calorie counting.  And I need to work this out somehow.  So I am going to try to bring food at least 3 days a week to work.

  • Encourage My Daughter To Do One Athletic Thing Every Time I Have Her
    • Far too often I have used my daughter as an excuse why I didn’t get the exercising done.  No, I cannot take her to a gym yet.  Still a couple of years away.  But I think starting now and exercising with her in some form or fashion will help.  It’s important to set the right tone in order for both of us to get the help we need.
  • Rearrange Bedroom Furniture
    • I have a Wii Fit I intend on using.  I have used it in the past to lose weight.  And I know I can use it in the future.  Sure I have a time crunch trying to go to the gym.  Trying to accomplish so much blogging and marketing, I put off getting away.  But having a tool right at my disposal should lessen that.  I need the exercise and energy, and having something I can do at home should help.
  • Increase My Water Intake
    • I really know I need to drink more water.  I put it off, or think it doesn’t taste good.  But I know when I go to the gym, it’s all I crave.  So I know it’s so important in order to get healthy.  This week I just want to make sure I am water conscious.  So make sure I get through at least a bottle or two daily and then raise consumption later.

  • Get More Sleep
    • I could get fixated about the amount of sleep I get.  I know I could use more.  But in truth, its about quality of sleep as much as it is quantity.  I just need to remember this truth.  Nevertheless, more of it, even if not perfect does help my body to recharge and do the kind of thinking which writing requires.
  • Connect With Other Bloggers On A Fitness Journey
    • I am doing a lot of writing now.  No Doubt.  And I really do love it.  One of the greatest opportunities of blogging is connecting to all of the amazing people out there.  There are many who do fitness work.  And I don’t use them as the kind of resource which would help. Whether it’s picking their brain about scheduling or working on finding ways to create a better balance in my life, I need to talk to these people.  I want to spend a little time this week getting to know other fitness bloggers.

I really think this is enough for now.  It’s a start anyway, and hopefully I will not be overwhelmed by it just yet.  One extra addendum I want is to set a plan for myself.  Maybe I will talk about it next week.  I did it when I lost a bunch of weight about 5 years ago.  Getting this plan in gear I will show and talk about soon.  It worked before.  I know it can work again.  In the meantime, these are my future goals for the next week.  And I will leave me with an incomplete for the last two weeks as I have been busy.

Continue The Conversation

So what do you do when you start out the new year?  What goals do you set for yourself?  And what are your reasons for accomplishing those goals?   Do you always fail?  Or are you like a friend of mine who succeeded at playing the Prince song 1999 every day throughout the whole year of 1999?  Sounds crazy, but he did it.  And more power to him.  I would love to know your thoughts about goal setting.  And if you have fitness goals, what are they?  What helps you to overcome the winter doldrums and accomplish your new years resolutions in fitness or in life?  I would love to hear from you.

Like / Follow Me

If you liked this post, facebook like here or like on WordPress.  It’s always appreciated to know my work is appreciated.  And leave a comment as well. Also, subscribe to the blog and you will get the password access to the Dad Rules.  These are ten rules every father should know about.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

The post Fitness Fridays For Fathers – Restart appeared first on The Single Dad's Guide to Life.

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Good morning and welcome to the Guide, the teller of food tales.  The Homer of the food holiday.  The provider of the best fake food histories on the planet.  Each week, we celebrate some amazing food holiday to spice up your culinary appetites and whet your imagination as it comes to all things food.   I know we have taken a bit of a hiatus due to holidays and my partnership last month.  (Please check out some of the interesting tales of wonder from last month at your own discretion.  We take no responsibility for time loss, hair loss, mind loss, or any other loss which may occur as a result of reading the Perspectives Series.)  But to bring us back to food, we knew with February we needed to return to our roots.  So the Guide looked into the amazing possibilities and determined National Tortellini Day outshone them all.

While National Tortellini Day begins Tuesday, February 13th (which you should be partying with this tasty dish as it’s Mardi Gras) my tale of Tortellini is a far more sordid affair.  Wait.  Ok, maybe not too sordid.   Unless you count what I did the days leading up to my friend’s wedding at his bachelor party.  (After hearing this tale you might gouge out your ears and poke our your eyes so I dare not tell it.)  Nevertheless, my first experience with this amazing meal came at my close friend’s wedding.

The crazy thing is, my friend is one of the most amazing cooks you will ever meet.  I am not saying I cannot cook.  I can cook.  (Which Remy might be happy to know.)  But my friend Steve’s artistry in the kitchen far outstrips my own.  I’m like a decent painter who repaints old masterpieces, copying the artists who came before him.  My friend is Rembrandt.

You can tell a gifted chef in the kitchen because they can do things on the fly.  They take what they have and make something amazing from it.  And they, like Alton Brown my hero, know the science of food and the affect every ingredient has on the dish they prepare.  I follow instructions.  Maybe I change things around the edges to deal with food allergies or issues.  But I would never consider myself a master.

And my amazing friend got it into his brain he would cater his own wedding.  To this day he admits the insanity of such a proposition.  But at the time, he wanted things just so.  And he got them.  Just.  So.  He would hand make all of the pasta with his own pasta maker; make all the filling; pinch the pasta together; and finally cook it all for his wedding guests.  If he had ten guests, it probably wouldn’t have been as big of a deal.  But when you get into the hundreds, you may come to realize having someone else prepare the food would be so much better.  He realized this fact.  A couple of weeks too late.

So after having one of the more unique and beautiful ceremonies in a park, we went back to a large banquet room set up for the food.  In the room I sat down at a table for the groomsman and was given a large bowl of this strange looking pasta and some Alfredo sauce.  There were vegetables and a few other items that were less memorable.  I did not know what to make of this strange looking pasta which looked not unlike the human navel.

But as my friend was an amazing chef, I knew I had to try what was put in front of me.  The minute this filled noodle touched my lips, my mouth sang from the delicious delicacy but inside.  In an instant, I fell in love with this strange pasta dish.  I cannot even tell you what he filled these delicate shells with.  What I can say is that Tortellini quickly became one of my favorite things to order at Italian restaurants.  And it has been to this day.

If you have followed the Guide long enough, you will remember I never do a food holiday without two things.  The first thing I make sure to give you is the amazing fake food history behind the dish.  The Guide spares no expense when it comes to making sure you know all of the details behind every amazing morsel we recommend you eat, or every libation we would suggest you drink.  Sometimes it means getting into our fake Wayback machine and traversing the reaches of time and space.

And at other times it means going into the deep, dark jungles of the dark web, extracting this dangerous information and bringing it directly to your table.  Because the world must know the fake food history behind these amazing foods.  Or my name isn’t Daniel David Darnell Dawkins the 10th.  (Shhh!!!  It’s my pseudonym.)  So without further ado, the Guide presents to you the amazing fake food history of the Tortellini.

The Fake History Of The Tortellini

Often times the great food histories must be created out of the bits and pieces of information to create one great tale of longing and heartbreak before we reach the ecstasy.  The greatest thing about this dish is we have three competing tales of wonder about this crazy dish.  Because Tortellini can’t just have one great tale of wonder.  It must have three.  In other words, we have the great dark history of Tortellini al la Tre.  Enter at your own risk.

The Goddess Version

Once upon a time, in the land of God’s and Goddesses (I told you I was Homeric, right?), Venus and Jupiter were out frolicking in the fields.  Which basically means they started wars just for the fun of it.  One god taking affront on one side.  The other goddess taking affront on the other.  And bam!!!  An Emeril Lagasse masterpiece.  Ok, maybe not a chef masterpiece but human carnage instead.  The towns of Bologna and Modena would never be the same.

After frolicking for the better part of an afternoon, Jupiter and Venus got tired and decided to visit an innkeeper at the outskirts of the city they knew had the best pasta around.  Ivano Catalo Giuseppe Tortellini was his name given to him at birth by his parents.  Actually his parents were a prostitute and poor farmer who decided to have a laugh at the expense of their child, giving him such a ridiculous name.

But Ivano was a proud man and made sure he would be a success, building an inn and a tavern up from nothing.  That evening, Ivano happily served the god and goddess his delicious pasta dish and quickly prepared a room for them.   (As you know, gods and goddesses were pretty much amoral.  And asking Venus where was Mars would only land him in hot water.  Ivano said nothing.)

But Ivano worshiped at the temple of Mars every week he could make it.  And he felt like spying on Venus and telling all the information he had to the priest of the Martian temple would give him more credit with the gods.  Little did he know what was about to transpire.

Venus, decided she had a little more energy than she thought before.  She figured it would be a good idea to seduce Jupiter so her side of the battle would win.  But Jupiter was not going to be easily won over.  Venus, knowing this, decided to give him one of her belly dances as she pushed him up against the room door.  Ivano just began looking through the keyhole at this moment and spied the belly button of Venus.  Immediately, Ivano became transfixed.  He could see nothing else and think of nothing else other than her belly button.  He was so in awe, he decided to make a pasta in the shape of Venus’ belly button.

We he came to his senses, he realized how bad that might look, so he took the shells, stuffed them with cheese, and brought them to the priestess in charge of Mars temple as a sacrifice, explaining what took place..  Mars was about to destroy the little Innkeeper when he noticed his priestesses devouring the shells in the corner.  Mars softened his heart and decided to spare Ivano his life.  But in return, he had to bring his shells to the temple as a sacrifice daily.  Ivano agreed.  Eventually naming his shells Mondo Cheese Shells.  Thankfully the priestesses convinced him Tortellini would be a better name.

Lucrezia Borgia Version

So imagine the same situation, only much later, in the late 1400’s with the notorious Borgias.  In this instance, the same innkeeper, instead named Davilo Damano, Davido De’Tortellini from Modena.  The Borgias, also fond of starting wars and getting people into trouble decided they were going to move against the pope with their outpost just outside of Modena.

In this version, Davilo, the innkeeper is going to spy on Lucrezia for the Pope and report back to the pontiff.  Lucrezia, being the master manipulator she was, could hear a creaking sound coming outside her door.  And show she swayed around the room, diming the lights, so he could barely see her navel.  Davilo, being a man, was transfixed by the beauty of Lucrezia instantly.  He could not turn away from her exposed navel, present in the room.

Like Ivano, Davilo decided he would make a filled pasta in honor of the beauty of this “goddess.”  And when Davilo decided to inform Lucrezia of his affections for her with this shell, she wanted to kill him.  And then she noticed that the shells were stuffed with spiced cheeses.  Instantly she realized all of the many ways she could poison men and make them think they had an amazing meal, all at the same time.  This beautiful shell she figured would be a ticket to power.  Unfortunately for her (and fortunately for us) her life was cut short before she got a good chance to use it, thankfully.

It’s All About The Turtle

The last of the stories about this great pasta come once again from the town of Modena and believed to be the creation of an Italian bread maker by the name of Giuseppe Tortuga.  He lived just outside of the town of Modena in the late 1700 and early 1800s.  For whatever reason back in that time the people of Modena were obsessed with the turtle.  Jealous of their neighbors who had significant access to water, Modena decided to make the turtle its town mascot.

All of the art and architecture of the period reflected their love of the magnificent turtle.  For a simple bread maker like Giuseppe, there was only one response to this love.  He needed to do something with his cooking that reflected this love of the turtle.  After many failed attempts at trying to replicate the turtles he would see around him in his bread, he became frustrated.  He gave up with the bread and started to flip pasta for the dinner he would make for his family.  With every flip of the pasta it would get curled over.  And before long, Giuseppe noticed the pasta had a humpback shape, not unlike a turtle.

He ran in and kissed his wife and screamed out loud, “I made a turtle!  I made a turtle.”

But his aunt Veronica, who couldn’t hear very well, stared at him bluntly.

“I made a turtle Aunt V.  A real turtle with pasta.”

“What’s that my boy?  What’s that you say?  You made a Tortellini?  What’s that?”

All of Giuseppe’s family laughed.  Giuseppe at first had a frown on his face.  But soon he couldn’t help laughing as he heard the laughter of the rest of his household.  His aunt Veronica smiled back at him.

“That’s right Aunt V.  I made a tortellini!”

He ran back into his house and made this marvelous filled pasta shell for the rest of his family.  Giuseppe filled it with the finest of meats and herbs and served it up to his family with some amazing pasta sauce.  It was so well received that they made him make it every year for Christmas and family get togethers.  It eventually spread to the rest of Italy, and throughout the whole world.

The Five Best Tortellini Places In Southern California

As is the case with the Guide, we make sure to give you either our favorite recipe of a certain food, or some of the amazing local fare.  In this instance, we decided to go with our five favorite places which serve the most amazing Tortellini throughout the southland.  Between some amazing pumpkin tortellini in a sage sauce to mushroom and cheese versions, be prepared to get your Tortellini on when you come to one of these amazing Italian restaurants.  Take a good look a these places and enjoy, if and when you are in the Southern California and in that romantic Italian mood.

1)  Alimento – Los Angeles, CA

Located in LA’s historic Silver Lake district, at Alimento’s come prepared to enjoy some of your favorite Italian dishes with a unique flare.  Originally an inspiring architect, Zach Pollack’s culinary curiosity blew up on a trip to Florence, Italy studying abroad.  He knew his love of food was taking him in another direction.  From there he got involved in various Italian food ventures.  Eventually he would start Alimento in 2014.  Listed by Los Angeles Magazine as one of the ten best new restaurants in 2015, Alimento has the best Italian food locally.  Between the amazing plates and the incredible platters to share, that would be enough.  But the tortellini tops them all.  Simply a revelation.

2)  Il Pastaio – Beverly Hills, CA

From a lovely hilltop village in Sicily, Giacomino Drago has been serving amazing and traditional authentic Italian fare for the past twenty years.  Brought by his brother at the age of 16 years old to learn the restaurant business, Giacomino would take what he learned only three years later to start Il Pastaio.  And when it comes to Italian fare, almost nothing can compare to it.  With an amazing array of salads and pastas, you will never get enough of the amazing dishes they offer.  Of course, the tortellini is among the most amazing of dishes.  But think of Tortellini pasta stuffed with pumpkin and ricotta cheese and then swimming in a sage parmesan cheese sauce and try not to drool.  I dare you.

3) Baci di Firenzi – Anaheim, CA

Purchased by Vittorio Severino in 2008, Baci di Firenzi serves Italian fare that doesn’t merely focus on one region.  Severino’s dream was to bring all of fine Italian food to the states.  With a wide variety of pasta, salad, seafood and chicken, you will find a variety of dishes to tempt the palate.  But as we are celebrating the Tortellini, imagine one filled with cheese, ham, and mushrooms in a light cheese sauce.  Simply marvelous.

4) Angelo’s And Vinci’s – Fullerton, CA

If you have followed me from the beginning, you will know that I love Angelo’s and Vinci’s.  I cannot say enough about the food and the decor.  If you haven’t been there yet, you definitely should take a peek at some of my other reviews here.  I cannot tell you enough about the amazing hand made pasta with sauce to go with the tortellini. Go to Angelo’s and Vinci’s and love the whole experience.

5) Jack And Guilio’s Italian Restaurant – San Diego, CA

Around the Old Town San Diego district since 1961 Jack and Guilio’s has been a favorite of San Diego people for over 57 years.  And when it comes to Tortellini, you will get none better.  Of course, it’s not quite tortellini.  Jack and Guilio’s serves tortelloni, which is the equivalent on tortellini on steroids. Same shape, twice the size . . . or more.  They serve it filled with spinach, ricotta, and parmesan.  And then it’s covered in a porcini mushroom sauce.  As if they needed to give me an even greater reason to want to try it out.  If you are in San Diego and want good tortellini, Jack And Guilio’s is the place.

Continue The Conversation

So what did you think of the fake history of Tortellini?  I’m not sure I believe anyone, but the romantic in me likes the Lucrezia Borgia story.  I think the Venus and Jupiter story is just one leap of logic too far for me.  Ah well!  But I can totally buy into that creepy innkeeper supporting the pope.  Then again, wasn’t the pope Lucrezia’s father?  How messed up!  What about the five different Tortellini offerings out here?  Which sounds like your favorite?  And which is your favorite filling for tortellini?  Is it just cheese or is it more complicated than that?  I would love to hear from you.

Like / Follow Me

If you liked this post, please like this post at the end or on Facebook.  And definitely follow us here at the Guide.  All email subscribers will be given the password to the Dad Rules.  These are ten rules every father should know about and follow.  Thank you for stopping by.

Until next time, don’t go peeking in any strange keyholes.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

The post Food Holidays: National Tortellini Day February 13th appeared first on The Single Dad's Guide to Life.

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  • I am a Knott’s Berry Farm Berry Blogger and Brand Ambassador. While I have been compensated with tickets and food, all of the views expressed herein about Knott’s Peanuts Celebration are strictly my own.

When Knott’s invited me to become a Knott’s Berry Farm Brand Ambassador, I was beyond excited.  It went from excitement to elation to euphoria, and then to panic.  Because, while writing about Knott’s Berry Farm for the past year, I didn’t have the same responsibility for the content.  Knott’s Berry Farm might have appreciated of the product I scribed, but I said things my way.  Now, I would have people looking over my shoulder at the content.  Eventually, the panic would wear off, as I remembered they chose me for the type of content I put out there and the audience I reached.  They wanted me to be myself.  Duh!  And when I picked myself up off the floor to find out what they expected me to write about, I quickly became excited again as I read the first event they wanted me to cover.  The Knott’s Peanuts Celebration.

To understand my excitement, you have to go back a few years.  And then maybe a few years more.  From a parenting perspective, Knott’s Berry Farm represents the beginnings of the connection I have with my daughter.   Post-divorce, things were difficult.  I had allowed the relationship with my daughter to grow stale as I faced many issues with my former spouse.  I knew I needed to reconnect.  And making her do homework or sitting around watching TV did not encourage connection.  So I wanted a place to take my child where we could enjoy things together, outside the house, at an affordable price.  Knott’s became that place.  From the music to the food to the history to all of the amazing seasons they have at Knott’s, we found a place to connect and bond, which I for which I can never repay.

But to understand my excitement about Knott’s Peanuts Celebration, you have to go back a little farther.  Like any red-blooded person from the States, I grew up with the Peanut’s gang in the Sunday funnies.  And I loved the holiday specials which would come on the TV every year.  But my connection to my daughter and the Peanut’s is equally profound.  For every year at Christmas, my daughter and I would go to the “Snoopy House” in Costa Mesa.  With a cup of hot cider in hand, we would go see the amazing Peanut’s Display which included a visit from Santa Claus every year.  And at the same time, Linus would always remind us what the true meaning of Christmas was.  Through this event and Knott’s Berry Farm I passed on the love of the Peanuts from father to daughter.

Given our history, you can imagine the excitement my daughter and I had prior to attending this event.  Of course, just because we love the idea of something doesn’t mean we will love the thing.  But, given the title of this article, chances are you have an inkling of what we thought of the day.  But just saying we liked it just doesn’t do it justice.  So here are seven amazing things to do with you and your family once you enter Knott’s Peanuts Celebration at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Seven Magical Moments To Have At Knott’s Peanuts Celebration

1) Picture Possibilities –

Once you enter the park, you will be inundated with a load of pictures spots for you and your family.  While Snoopy may be there to greet your entry, your eyes will widen with all of the great picture locations at your disposal.  Between flying blankets, Red Baron Moments, and “I’ve Got a Rock!” exclamations you and your family will never get enough of the silly poses you can create on your magical journey.

2) Character Connections –

While you can visit the Peanuts’ gang all year long at the park, you will never get an opportunity like this one to spend time with all of the amazing characters.  First, Pig Pen has a much larger pen to take care of the little piglets of which he has been placed in charge.  He’s only available during the celebration so you don’t want to miss it.  Second, you will never get the opportunity for so many different character shots as you will during this time.  The characters are found all over the park.  And lastly, there are so many different stage shows with them involved, both amazing and surprising where you can spend time with the Charlie, Snoopy and the gang you will not know where to go first.

3) Krazy Kites –

You couldn’t call it Knott’s Peanuts Celebration unless a few kites went missing.  You know Charlie and his kite flying prowess.  All different colored kites are stuck up in the trees strewn throughout Ghost Town and the rest of the park.  See if you and your kids can count them all.  I think I lost count around thirty.  I guess I will have to start all over again now.  One.  Two.  Three.

4) Food Fun –

Being the foodie I am, I can never get enough of trying all the various dishes they have throughout the park.  Between the “Charlie Brownies” and the peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, there are a ton of tempting treats to be had.  But if you ask me, I have to say that the funnel cake with the Peanut Butter on top beats them all by miles.

My Daughter’s Sally

5) Dynamic Drawing –

My daughter and I were looking forward to this the most before getting into the park.  We heard they were going to be having a drawing area where they taught you to draw the Peanuts Characters.  We had the opportunity to draw Sally.  But don’t lose heart.  They are also teaching, Snoopy, Charlie, Linus, and Lucy.  Just don’t tell Lucy I mentioned her last or I might get in trouble.

6) Turbo Train Rides –

Ok, maybe it’s not the fastest train in the world, but it’s definitely one of the most enjoyable.  Join the Peanuts crew as they have a fishing competition, among many others.  Somehow Snoopy always seems to win these things.  But I swear I am going to beat him next year.  Just you wait.

7) Jelly Rocking –

I’m betting you noticed the lack of alliteration here.  Because you are that kind of smart.  But I couldn’t give higher praise to the musical selections they have throughout the park during Knott’s Peanuts Celebration.  First of all, you can visit Camp Snoopy and Catch Charlie and Lucy’s Balancing Act.  Find out if Charlie can be cheered on to finally kick a football.  Next, move over to Schroeder and his musical mischief as he teaches Sally about the history and wonder of music.

From there make sure to head on over to Fiesta Village and catch Lucy and Sally’s Fiesta Fantasy.  They dance Folklorico.  With traditional Latin dances, they bring to Fiesta Village a rich history and culture the whole family can appreciate.  And finally, if you can take it, make sure to stay into the evening to see Woodstock’s Music Festival.  You will get treated to the stylings of the Jelly of the Month Club.  And of course, you will catch the loveable Peanuts crew trying to be the best roadies they can be.  The rocked the joint well into the night.  And with their list of songs, it’s something both parents and kids can enjoy together.

Did we love Knott’s Peanuts Celebration?  Heck yes, we did!  There was so much to see and do, we didn’t even get a chance to get on some of the rides.  All I can say is if you love Knott’s and you love the Peanuts, you will not get enough of all of the amazing things transpiring weekends, until February 25th.  There is no better time to get yourself an annual pass.

My daughter and I will have to go back a least a few times to catch some more of the magic.  After all, I need to make sure I get to draw Charlie, Snoopy, and Linus.  If you go Sunday the 4th and you bring a Charlie Brown costume, you may have a chance to get in the record books.  What could be better than that?  Oh, and I want to catch the Jelly of the Month Club again as well.  (And Shhh!!! Don’t tell Lucy I didn’t include her on my list of characters to draw.  I will never hear the end of it.)

Knott's Peanuts Celebration - YouTube

Continue The Conversation

Obviously, there is so much to unpack here from our experience at Knott’s Peanuts Celebration.  If I spent time talking about the whole weekend, including the hotel stay, I would be writing a novella.  And I don’t want to scare everyone off yet.  I would be curious to know what your experience with Knott’s celebrations in the past has been.  What thing did you love the most?  And if you haven’t been to Knott’s before, what do you love most about the Peanuts?  You definitely have to share with me your..

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Hi, and welcome to the close of the Perspective Series from the Single Dad’s Guide to Life.  It seems surreal we have come to the end of the month.  If you have followed us for the month, you know we partnered with Brandi Kennedy of Brandi Kennedy: Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman to give you a whole series of posts with the same theme and differing viewpoints.  And as we were wrapping up this series, we felt like we needed to give our audiences a biography of the other person.  And what better way to accomplish this feat than to do an interview with the other person.  It’s like a “meet and greet” from thousands of miles away.  I want you to meet Brandi Kennedy: mother; author; blogger; and undaunted woman.

But first, a little background to Brandi.  I remember when I met Brandi on Facebook for the first time.  She was in one of my blogging groups.  And she was really earnest.  She wanted to find people she could really engage with.  I know with bloggers we focus so intently on the task at hand, we forget to really engage with the people we want to establish relationships with.  I am all for giving a person a hand up when they are doing the same for me.  But sometimes we lose sight of things and don’t really establish the relationships we should.  I really began to pay attention more closely to what she was saying once I had more contact with her.  She’d comment on my post.  I would comment on hers.  And a running dialog began.

I didn’t hear from her again until I had another fellow blogger reach out to me.  She wanted to add me as a friend on facebook.  I was still relatively new to the blogging scene, barely writing a few months, but I figured I could use as many friends as possible.  When she reached out to me, I quickly realized she was asking me a bunch of questions about what I was doing and how I accomplished things.  (I’m still not sure I feel accomplished enough to help people out yet.)  I told her what worked for me and what didn’t up to this point.  And she informed me that Brandi Kennedy told her to reach out to me if she wanted help.

I was very flattered, even if I felt like I wasn’t up for the task.  I knew I wanted to talk to Brandi and say thank you.  So it took me a couple days, but I finally got up the nerve to say hi in a more informal way.  (Somehow a comment on a blog post felt too formal a place to have a more personal conversation.)  So I reached out on facebook messenger and said hello.

What I found was a kind-hearted, intelligent and engaging woman, happy to reach out to any person and give them help.  She seemed good at the relationship building and networking aspect of everything, beyond being a terrific writer.  I knew there was a lot I could learn from her. We became fast friends and started to get to know a bit more about each other on a personal level.

Aside from being a terrific blogger and an amazing mother of two wonderful girls, I found out about her love for writing above and beyond the blogosphere.  She is a published novelist with books to her credit. And she publishes content outside of her blog.  The blog is both a way to connect with her audience on a deeper level and a means of driving people back to her work.

Beyond the writing, she has a heart for others and a peaceful spirit.  Even though she suffers at the hands of an abusive former partner and raises two kids mostly on her own, she never lets things get to her.  It’s this spirit that drew me to her and will draw you to her as well. I  am sure I could write more, but I would rather let her words speak for themselves.  So without further ado, I present my interview with Brandi Kennedy: Undaunted Woman.

Interview With Brandi Kennedy: Undaunted Woman

1) At what moment did you realize you were a writer?

I’m not sure there was one singular moment. But as far back as I can remember, I remember writing stories, poems, little bits of conversation, ideas for books. I remember writing stories all the way back when computers ran MS-DOS and files were saved on little plastic floppy drives. So I’ve sort of always been a writer, in a lot of ways. But when I knew I wanted to do it for a living – when I knew I wanted to be known for that and to succeed at it – I was standing in a convenience store in Deltona, FL with my dad. I don’t remember how old I was, what store it was, or what we were there for.

I remember asking for a book, and feeling completely gleeful when he agreed to buy it. He couldn’t have known what was in it, or I’m sure he wouldn’t have agreed; I was much too young at the time to read that, and would be appalled if my own children were to pick it up. But I remember the cover was a beautiful pale yellow, and Johanna Lindsey’s name was embossed on the front in a flowing script font. And I fell in love right then with the idea of seeing my own name on a book cover one day. It was like a door opened up inside me, and I found a room I hadn’t previously known was there.

2) If you had your readers take away one thing from your blog, what would it be?

Chiefly, I would want them to be encouraged by the fact that even if the very worst things happen in their lives, they can heal. It might be slow and it might be painful, and it might take a very long time … but it can be done, and there are lessons of value to be learned along the way. But along with that, I’d want them to know they are not as alone as they may have been made to feel – that this world is absolutely brimming with people who can understand because they’ve been there too, and that even if it’s only me, there is ALWAYS someone they can reach out to who will try to offer understanding, compassion, and the companionship of shared experience.

3) What is your best memory from being a parent?

There are so many good ones, and it seems the “best” one changes all the time – always surpassed by something new, some new moment that bursts my heart open with love for my daughters as they become whoever it is that they will be someday. But most recently, there was a moment where I was struggling and overwhelmed, overtired, frustrated.

Both of my girls have ADHD – among other things – and my youngest was in a particularly horrible mood that morning. I dropped the youngest off, but as we drove away from her school I broke down quietly in the driver’s seat of my van and started. I was quiet about it because I didn’t want my oldest to see me losing control, but as we turned the corner back onto the main road, she said – quietly from the backseat – with the softest, most compassionate tone, “It’ll pass, Mom. She’ll learn better ways to deal with it, just like I did. And it’ll get better.”

This, of course, made me cry harder, but it definitely changed the tone of the tears. I’m honest enough with myself (or hard enough on myself) to admit that I’ve failed at a lot in my life, but I’m incredibly proud to have raised such amazing young women. That being said, let it be known that the youngest is quite amazing too – when she’s not being Mama’s Little Wretch. (What’s that old nursery rhyme? “When she was good, she was very very good – and when she was bad she was awful?” Although, I guess there’s also some truth to the idea that it takes one to know one.)

4) What is the most rewarding thing about your relationship with your children?

I think the most rewarding thing is seeing them turn out right, for the most part. They’re both wild and headstrong, willful and temperamental … but they’re also really witty and funny. They’re smarter than me and only growing more so and they’re both so totally beautiful, both outwardly as little women and also inwardly as people in general. Ultimately, they’re the best of me, but they’re also each so totally their own. I’m just thankful to have them. I also love that they teach me so much about myself and who I want to be, just by being who they are.

5) If you could change one thing in the world for your children, what would it be?

If I’m being philosophical, I’d say I’d change the societal culture that demands them to struggle all their lives to reach an impossible standard. In beauty, they have to have the right mix of the right body parts and features. In social life, they must be the right mix of funny and smart and witty, but also just the right mix of lighthearted airhead so that they can be JUST fun enough without being moronic.  And in business, they should strive to work as hard as possible to make as much money as possible and impress as many people as possible – and it doesn’t matter if they’re fulfilled or living up to their strengths.

I would change that and raise them in a world that teaches them to love and accept themselves, to find and nurture their God-given talents, and to seek fulfillment in faith and love rather than in dollars and accolades. I would give them a world that accepts them and allows them to accept themselves.

6) What things help you to engage with your children most? Under what settings do they talk the most to you about their lives?

Actually, we engage in a lot of different ways. Everything becomes a lesson in our family, from a book to a TV show plot to a movie to a song. We talk very openly about our emotions and what we’re feeling, and we joke a lot. But as for what gets them talking? That’s almost always found in the one-on-one moments we share in the car. The way it works out, I drop my youngest daughter off to the elementary school about half an hour before dropping off the oldest at the middle school, which gives my oldest daughter and I a few minutes alone each morning to chat.

Then in the afternoon, I pick the youngest up about half an hour before the oldest, which gives us a few minutes alone too. When we don’t have those moments, they actually bicker together more, competing for Mom Time – which is sometimes harder to arrange as a single parent. But those car moments alone, without the radio on and nothing to do but fill the time and the silence with talking? Those are rich moments indeed.

7) What is the hardest thing about being a single parent? What would you tell single father’s about the difficulty of being a single mother?

I think the hardest thing about being a single parent is just the neverendingness of it. And I don’t have a co-parent really, so there are no relief days, no every other weekend to look forward to where I can pee in peace and sleep in if I want to. Being alone means being in demand all the time, and it can get very overwhelming – and very lonely.

What would I tell single fathers? I would tell them to man up (like you have) and not to let their resentments and their hurts poison their children. I would tell them that even though sometimes there’s no other option than quitting a relationship with a former partner because it didn’t work or because someone is horrible or because of … whatever … that doesn’t make it okay to quit on a kid and walk away as if they don’t exist. This may succeed in hurting the former partner – the other parent – but it also REALLY hurts the children impacted, and it is not okay. They are not tools to be used, and they are not pawns to be sacrificed in the name of winning a game. They’re people. And they matter.

And they should never feel forced to choose sides or feel abandoned because of things they had no part in. I would tell single fathers to keep loving their children, keep fathering their children, and to remember that this child is literally made up of both parents. They are a product of you, but they are also very much a product of your former partner, the one you once chose to love and commit to. This child is a product of love, and they deserve to be loved and treated as such. I would tell single fathers to NEVER give in to the temptation to quit because being abandoned by your father leaves lifelong wounds behind.

8)  Being a novelist, where does the inspiration behind your stories come from?

Ahh, my stories. They come from life, honestly – from the life I’ve led, the life I’ve wished I led, and the life I want to lead in the future. The characters are bits of people I’ve known and people I’ve wanted to know – and people I’ve wished I didn’t know.

Inspiration is a funny thing; it’s true that art imitates life, but not in the way we tend to think. It doesn’t mean every book is written from the author’s memory or direct experience, like a desperate autobiography of sorts. But, it is generally true (in my opinion) that the book is probably colored by the author’s experiences and personal opinions. There’s a reason behind the old saying, “You write what you know,” and I tend to think this extends to other art as well. Movies, music, sculpture, paint. I mean really, how can you express love in art – and with your art, make other people FEEL that love – without having loved in the first place, right? The same is true for pain, fear, etc.

9) Most men aren’t considered to be very good at romance. If you wanted to teach all men one thing about romance, what would it be?

If I could teach all men one thing about romance … now there’s a loaded question. But truly, I think all the things I could say here boil down to one thing: Read. Romance. Novels. (But not the 50 Shades ones, please – they don’t count because domestic abuse, obsession, and control are not romantic.) But seriously, there’s a reason romance is a strong genre. There’s a reason women eat these novels up, some women reading at least one every single day.

There’s a reason we love them … because we’re created to crave what’s in them. Contentment in a relationship, the sense of finding exactly the right match for who we are, the forward momentum of growing WITH our partner instead of APART from them. We crave the pretty words and the flowery gestures and the sense of humor and yes, we crave the mind-blowing, earth-shaking, sweaty bodies, mindless, passionate sex.

We WANT to feel wanted and desired and flirted with, and the reason we love these books is because we can have the thrill of dating and falling in love over and over and over again. If men learn one thing from reading my answer to this question, let it be that romance novels are not competition – they are textbooks and study guides. You want to learn how to romance your woman? Make it your mission to love her so well she stops needing to spend time falling for “book boyfriends.” And believe me, it can be done.

10) Where else can my audience find your work?

Your audience can find my textbooks and study guides (aka, “romance novels”) pretty much wherever books are sold. They’re available as e-books on Amazon, iBooks, Nook, and Kobo, and they’re also available in paperback on all the major book markets. More information about them can be found here (http://authorbrandikennedy.blogspot.com/p/bibliography_10.html) – or just by hitting me up on any of my social media outlets (http://authorbrandikennedy.blogspot.com/p/find-me-elsewhere-on-web.html). For more about mental health, self-empowerment, and life as a single mom, readers can find me on my blog (http://authorbrandikennedy.blogspot.com/) several times a week. And for a more in-depth look at what I’m writing as I write it – almost in real-time – readers can follow me on Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/authorbrandikennedy), where they’ll help take charge of what I’m writing and when it gets published.

Continue The Conversation

I just want to thank Brandi once again for this partnership throughout the month.  It has been an amazing experience.  Although I have to admit, my bed was beginning to get jealous.  She saw the constant dark circles under my eyes and felt like we were growing apart.  I’ll have to spend the next month convincing her I will always need her.  (Just don’t tell her I’m going to cheat on her by purchasing a new bed. She will become despondent.)

If you have any questions for me about Brandi, I will be sure to pass them on to her.  I am sure she would be more than happy to answer anything you needed to know.  And if you had any questions for me about the series, all of the posts, themes, or anything else that had been driving you to distraction for the last month, please comment at the bottom or get in touch with me through the contact page.  I’m always up for collaborations like this with the right people.

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If you liked this post, or especially if you liked this series, please like us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or WordPress.  And be sure to subscribe to the Guide here.  All email subscriptions will be given access to the Dad Rules.  These are ten rules every father should know about and follow.  Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

The post Meet Brandi Kennedy: Single Mother, Author, Blogger, And Undaunted Women appeared first on The Single Dad's Guide to Life.

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Hi, and welcome to the next to the last day of our Perspectives Series this year at the Single Dad’s Guide to Life.  Thank you so much for coming by this month.  It’s been a blast working with Brandi, even if I thought some nights I was going to collapse into exhaustion.  Or other nights hallucinations took over and I saw visions of sugar plums stuck in my head.  Oh, wait.  I mixed it up with the Night Before Christmas.  This was our last creative post done together for this series, aside from the interviews we will be putting out tomorrow.  Definitely, make sure to come back tomorrow and catch the interview with Brandi. Find out more about what inspires her and makes her the amazingly talented writer she is.  But today we are going to talk about love.  Not any kind of love.  We will discuss one of the most difficult loves there is: Self-Love.

It’s very easy to have feelings about other people but to be so self-critical.  We may place some value on our person, and yet still be upset by all of the small flaws we envision we have.  And beyond that, all of our failures we seem to hyper-magnify.  Why do we do this?  What makes us want to tear our own person down a notch?

What’s even worse, as a single parent, we have a harder time with self-love.  While we absolutely adore our children, we realize they also represent the failed relationship of our past.  And far too frequently this guilt leads us to give everything to our children and doing nothing to help us rebuild the broken people we have become.  And this rebuild takes time and energy, of which we have limited amounts.

Brandi and I figured as we were heading into the “month of love,” we should include ourselves in this month.  We need to remember to be kind to ourselves if we are going to be able to have the strength to give our children the proper guidance and love which they deserve.  It’s not unlike the man who is told the best way to love his children is to love their mother unconditionally and unreservedly.  It seems strange at first.  But in your love for your spouse, you become a role model for what proper love should look like.  And in that way, your children will feel loved, and be able to love others in return.  As a single parent, our kids need to be able to know we can love ourselves and take proper care of ourselves if they are going to be able to survive themselves.  They need to know we are alright in order for them to feel alright.

So with this month of February, we are coming up with 28 self-love ideas each.  I imagine she will have ideas more directed towards women and single moms while mine will be directed towards men and single fathers.  Although some may work well for either.  And ultimately, everyone is an individual.  What is self-love for me might be torture for you. (Please don’t make me watch Beaches.  PLEASE!!!)  Whatever the case may be, check out the 28 things I will be doing in the month of February to promote self-love.

28 Things To Do In February To Promote Self-Love
  1.  Go to one restaurant I have never been to before.
  2. Try Lobster Thermidor  (It’s on my Vision Board so I should.)

  1. Go to the gym three times a week this month.
  2. Get a nice new haircut.
  3. Go on an all-day hike.

  1. Go to one movie by myself and splurge on food and drinks while there.
  2. Visit one museum this month.
  3. Go somewhere I can go out and see the stars at night.

  1. Take a road trip somewhere which takes two hours or more to get there.
  2. Do something kind for someone else.
  3. Take my daughter to a preseason baseball game.

  1. Make a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup and eat it.
  2. Purchase a piece of classical music to listen to at home.
  3. Do stuff to minimize the things in my room.

  1. Help my daughter minimize the items in her room.
  2. Purchase a new bed.
  3. Purchase a nice digital camera to improve my picture taking for my blog.

  1. Go out on a hike with the camera and catch some nature shots.
  2. Get my daughter new furniture for her room.
  3. Spend some time talking to my dad.

  1. Arrange a family outing with my brother, his family, my parents, my daughter and myself.
  2. BBQ at least one time this month.
  3. Go to see a musical at the theater.

  1. Buy at least one new outfit.
  2. Purchase a new pair of shoes.
  3. Spend a few hours a week reading.

  1. Spend one day a week sleeping in til 10 AM.
  2. Write one new poem this month.
Continue The Conversation

I have to admit, some of these self love things aren’t exactly about myself but about helping others.  But sometimes, when we help others, we ultimately help ourselves, if that makes any sense.  If I change the furniture in my daughters room and minimize the clutter, it will make it easier for me to deal with her room in the future.  Or when I volunteer to help others, I help others feel better, which in turn makes me feel better.  So as it may seem counterintuitive, it’s really about things I do which will help me love myself a little more.

What things do you like to do to take care of yourself?  Whether it be a spa day, laying in bed til noon or going out to a wildly expensive restauarant, I would love to hear the things which make you feel good about yourself?  And what are you going to do this month in order for your to show love to yourself?  Valentine’s Day is this month, so you better show yourself some love.  Although Valetines Day will happen on Ash Wednesday this year.  I am curious what the restaurants will look like on that day.  It should be interesting.  (And Easter is on April Fool’s Day.  It feels like the makings of a strange year.)

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