Mad Men – It’s not too late to get hooked!

After watching the first four seasons on Netflix over the last couple of months, I had found myself full of anticipation last weekend waiting for Sunday evening. And then it started, and once again I was wrapped into the lifestyle, the clothes, the mannerisms and the parties. Without a doubt everyone is intrigued by Mr. Don Draper and his drinking habits at work and his Superman style of saving presentations with clients. But I truly feel that its Roger Sterling and his humor that makes the show for me. The way he carries himself in his always 3-piece suit (big fan) and has no problem speaking his mind. And you can’t deny the mini battles he has with Peter are hilarious. But then, the show wouldn’t be the same without the different women that are portrayed in the show. From Peggy and her dry, not trying to stand out but really wanting too attitude, Joan and her puppet master ways, and also never being able to figure out Betty and what she’s thinking. And now the addition of Megan and her ability to marry Don Draper but even though she thinks she can change the man thats been running from his life since his early 20’s, I feel her very sexual rendition for a party of “Zou, Bisou, Bisou,” wont be able to save this relationship through the whole season.

What makes Mad Men so amazing is that we are given so many different styles in characters. It is easy to pick out one person you would want to be if you were back in the 60’s and working on Madison Avenue. With out a doubt it’s definitely good to have this show back after it’s 17 month hiatus and I’m sure everyone else agrees since they’re all over the tabloids and magazines this week.

Quote of the premier:

Roger Sterling [on Megan Draper]: “Why don’t you sing like that?”
Jane Sterling [nods towards Don Draper]: “Why don’t you look like him?”

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Book Review: UNBROKEN

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Im so happy that I’m finally getting back into reading.  Reading is such a powerful tool that helps you develop your mind and makes you think more creatively. To add to my list of things I will talk about on this blog, I will now start adding the books that i have read or I am reading.  I thought the book, Unbroken, would be perfect for my first review.

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It’s really hard for me to read fiction when there are true stories like this that are so captivating and keep you so glued its frustrating to put the book down. Unbroken is the type of book that lets you develop with the characters, that by the end of the book you can feel their pain and triumph as if you witnessed it in person.

I feel most people are mesmerized by war stories because most of them are told from first-hand experiences that are hard to fathom. Unbroken follows a fly squad through the Pacific Theater of World War II. The books main character, Louis Zamperini is the bombardier of a plane that ultimately find its final resting place in the ocean. Zamperini is also an Olympic athlete, wild by nature, and has the unwillingness to concede. From chasing girls, dropping bombs, fighting sharks, thirst, starvation and extreme brutality. This book is the ultimate guide to never giving up and the will to survive.

The amount of detail Laura Hillenbrand used describing each scene makes this book so vivid that without a doubt I could feel my own blood pressure rising. Zamperini is taken to hell and back multiple times and only through his endurance and drive to live allows us to grow in anger with him. But the end of the book is what makes Zamperini a true hero.

Paleo is not a Diet, Its a lifestyle

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For about a month now I’ve been slowly getting into the Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman Diet. The hardest thing for me is letting go of my beloved sweets. Like many, its definitely hard for me to turn down a cookie. But being into Cross Fit and having a supportive wife that is an amazing cook makes eating the “Paleo way” very easy.

There are bunch of greats websites to get you going on this great diet.  One that I like to browse on is Paleodietlifestyle.com. We get most of our recipe ideas from the recipe section. Check it out and you’ll find that its not really a diet. All you are really doing, is eating natural foods that humans have done for a millennia.  Then add Cross Fit, an amazing rigorous workout, and soon you will be in great shape and on the journey that Im trying to follow.

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Here was my amazing dinner tonight:

  • Juicy Grass fed Beef-ka-bobs
  • Spinich and Arugula salad
  • Red Grape Tomatoes
  • Portabellini Mushrooms
  • Diced Avocado
  • Sauteed White Onions
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

(sorry no picture)

The Garden Fence and Battling the Beast

For several years now, I have been storing some old redwood fencing that my brother took down in a project he did for his in-laws. Little by little the 1″x6″ fence boards have been pulled off for different projects that my brothers and father have done. The fence panels even played house for the occasional rodent and also was the chosen platform for the game “king of the hill” my dogs Philly and Nilla love to play.

After conquering many of my indoor to-do’s as my wife and I get ready for our baby, I decided it was time to show a little love to the back yard.

One of my goals to complete by Summer is to have a good size garden with an attached chicken coop. So I thought why not get it started this week. The first thing was to gather as many fence posts from the old redwood fencing as we could. Next, measure out the post lines perpendicular to the existing fence and mark where each post was to go at six feet apart from each other. My good friend Nick Giusto was nice enough to spend a couple of his off days of being a fireman helping me dig the post holes and install the rest of the garden fence.

We decided to keep the fence green and not use concrete to set them but just compact the dirt around the posts knowing the fence was more to keep the dogs out than to be structurally sound. Then we found some rolls of rusted wire fencing and cut them down to size and nailed them in place. The best part about using old fencing and posts and having a goal of making the fence look like its been there for a long time was we judged lengths with our eyes and didn’t have to measure anything. The funny part was that still most posts were unintentionally the same length and several of the rolls of fencing were the perfect length, only needed to be snipped to the right height. Nick started to question my construction skills as if my measuring ability was a gift from god. Ha!

Once the wire fencing was up, the garden was definitely starting to take shape. Unfortunately we ran out of our awesome rusted fencing so today we drove down to Friedman Bros our local hardware store and had to buy a roll. Finally we took some old 2x4s and framed out a gate. After the gate was installed the fence was completed. The hard and timely part was done and we now get to fire up the Beast and let her eat some dirt!

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The tilling ended up being an adventure of its own. This Beast, my roto-tiller, had always fired up whenever I needed it to. Yet today I whole heartedly believed she was on vacaction. After many steps of trouble shooting and cursing the tiller to hell, I decided to check the gas tank only to find out it was bone dry. Once again, as in most cases I was able to prove that when machines fail its because of human error.

So I went into the shed and pulled out a can of gas and proceeded to fill it up. Easy fix right? Guess again. Now the Beast was mad at me for starving it of fuel and had decided she wasn’t going to fire up. I was now getting fed up and decided to pull the trump card and grabbed some starter fluid. After a couple sprays and with the Beast’s submission, the motor was running. But there was enough white smoke that Im sure it had caught the attention of Nicks buddies down at the firehouse. I didnt care though because the Beast was ready to roll and we were finally chewing up the ground.

After the smoke hadn’t stopped and not being at ease knowing the motor was only running when the choke was fully open, I decided I need to find some answers. Just then I looked down and realized I had dumped in gas that had been premixed with oil for my weed-eater which is a 2-stroke motor. Once again, human error. Luckily I didn’t fill the tank completely so it only took about ten minutes to burn most of the fuel out of the tank. I then added REGULAR gas to the tank along with some fuel stabilizer to help clear out the ultra rich fuel. Once the new fuel had made it into the lines and into the engine, we made some quick adjustments to the carburetor and the Beast was once again at the top of her game and by sundown we had the whole garden area tilled and ready for me to start planning out the garden design.

It took us two days to complete but the ground is beautifully tilled and I now have a one of a kind recycled fence that any gardener would be proud of. Now I just need to figure out what I’m going to plant. Any ideas?

Attack of the small chicken!

Yesterday afternoon my wife, Megan and I walked over to our neighbors house to trade a few bottles of my wine for his own. The friendly bartering turned into dinner and a tour of his chicken coop. I was shocked to find that the chickens he has been raising not only shelled out eggs a little larger than a quarter, but how beautiful these miniature chickens were.
Now I know everyone is used to the normal white or brown farm eggs you can pick up in every grocery store from Arkansas to Zimbabwe. But these little guys make it possible for me to have an eight egg omelet when in reality it’s the size of two to three normal sized eggs.
After my pleasing breakfast I thought it would only be right for me to throw some bones at these chickens and give them there own post.
As many chicken lovers know, there are many different breeds including many shapes, feather lengths and colors.

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The little guys are called Nankin Bantams (pictured above). They are rare. But extraordinary in their own way. They are very friendly and also loyal enough that they wont fly away on their own but small enough that they will with the help of a hawk. Plus, they will also attract the likes of foxes and coyotes. So a fully enclosed pen is a must for a good nights sleep.
By the summertime I hope to have my fully functioning garden and chicken coop up and running. I think I’ll have to do a little more neighborly bartering for a Nankin Bantam or two to put in my own coop.

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Egg comparison

The future is bright

Today I went over to Napa and met with our winemaker of our wine label, Three Fat Guys. We opened up and tasted from the barrels of our ’09, ’10, and ’11 vintages. I am extremely happy with how everything is tasting. The character was exceptional in our ’09 and we haven’t even started mixing the grapes from our two Cabernet vineyards. We’re hoping to bottle around April which is three months earlier than last year but the maturity of the juice shows its ready to graduate out of the barrel and into the glass.

Our 2010 vintage is already starting to take shape. So far it is very smooth yet creating a wonderful aroma.

Our 2011 vintage looks to be playing nicely after most of the wine country having a wish-wash year. Can’t wait to try it again next year after being in the barrels for a while.

Rick and Gustavo have done a great job for us and it’s definitely showing.

CHEERS!

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