Saturday, July 25, 2020

Easy Ginger Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches

I don't know why ginger and peach make such an amazing couple. It's like Fred and Wilma, Bonnie and Clyde, yin and yang, or lemon and lime. Actually, it's not like any of those things, but it is pretty good.

So this brainchild came up as I was looking for a quick, tasty snack to have one evening. It is a simple, two ingredient treat - Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Cookies (two sizes available), and Tillamook Peaches & Cream ice cream.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Yardwork with My Tween

It is currently 350° in Phoenix (no hyperbole or exaggeration here), and today I had a lot of yardwork to do. With temperatures exceeding most oven broiler settings, the idea of being outside for more than a fraction of a second is not as alluring as it is in the fall with the perfect 75° weather. 

But I have a secret weapon. It's my tween. My tween has been working with me to learn to mow, and she is now on auto pilot. This means that instead of me having to mow and then move into the rest of the yardwork, my daughter does the mowing (and trimming) while I get to tackle the rest of the work. She earns money, I get to spend less time with my skin baking off my bones, and we both get to commiserate about the heat together. 

So today I had to tackle trimming my palm tree. This tree is massive, and it has these seed pods that serve two purposes: to clog up the pool vacuum and to sprout hundreds of baby palm trees all around the pool deck. Additionally, when the pods are cut off, they weigh between 25 and 50 pounds, so they are a real treat to haul to the rubbish pile (heavy sarcasm here). 

Normally I don't trim this tree until the seed pods start dropping (after telling myself for weeks to do it before that). And in the past, it has taken me about six hours with a hand saw to trim the fronds and pods. By then I’ve melted into a pool of lava and am too scorched to do anything with the carnage, so I leave all the debris on the ground for a few weeks until I can muster up the energy and willpower to go back out in the heat and deal with the trimmings.  

But today I used my Greenworks pole saw. The reach was perfect, and instead of taking six hours to trim, I had the tree trimmed in 35 minutes. Then I had another (heat)stroke of genius and hired my 8-year-old to pile up the fronds for me. I tossed them over the wall; he dragged them to the driveway and stacked them up. He earned two bucks, and I earned a free afternoon in the AC.

Two hours, beginning to end, and the lawn mowing and tree trimming were done. We were able to once again retreat into the blissful joy of our air conditioning. And while this may seem like an advertisement for Greenworks tools, it is nothing but glowing appreciation from somebody who is grateful for as little time in the baking Arizona summer heat as possible. I got nothing from Greenworks but a pole trimmer and the joy of spending time with two of my kiddos doing yardwork. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Greenworks 60V Gen2 String Trimmer: Clean Up That Messy Line

Here's a story that most of us are familiar with. You have spent a few hours doing yard work. All that's left is trimming the edges of the yard and then blowing off the hardscape, and you're ready for a shower and a cold beverage. You start your string trimmer, get a small percentage of the way done, and then your string line runs out. You're faced with the dilemma of spending the time fighting with the trimmer to refill the line. I know I'm not the only one who has filled up a dual spool trimmer line, gotten it tightly wound, and then went to put it on the trimer head, only to have the line jump bounce out, unwind itself, and get tangled.  At that point, I'm thinking that the edge of the yard doesn't look that bad and can be taken care of the next time I mow. My neighbor doesn't say anything, but I see him eyeing those sloppy edges.

That happens to me every. Single. Time. It never fails. When the trimmer string needs replacing, it's at the tail end of my yard work but never as I swipe that last blade of grass.
Gen 1 (top) and Gen 2 (bottom)

Enter the Greenworks 60V Gen 2 String Trimmer. Any loyal Renaissance Dad reader

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Patio Bar Rehab for Less Than $200

I tend to be a glass-is-half-full kind of guy, which is especially beneficial in the year 2020. So while there are so many things going on right now that are not great (one of my favorite current sayings is, "Look out the window and see which chapter of Revelation we're in today"), some things have been beneficial. I have gotten to spend a lot more time with my family. I have walked hundreds of miles on all of my conference calls/phone calls/virtual meetings. And I have been extremely productive with house projects.

One project that I have been putting off for a few years is refurbishing my patio cabinets. The cabinet doors wouldn't close and were hanging off the hinges, the drawer bottoms were falling apart, the veneer was peeling off, and I was getting weekly calls from the '80s asking for their mauve back. So once I finished painting my downstairs, laying bricks around the border of my yard, and installing new banisters in my stairway, I figured it was time for me to slay this beast.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Gazpacho: An Authentic Spanish Soup

The idea of cold tomato soup never quite appealed to me. I pictured in my mind a frosty can of condensed, gelatinous sludge. Gross.

But when I studied in Spain, my host family made gazpacho. Being the courteous young man that I was, I went to Spain planning on trying everything at least once (this only backfired one time when I ate a slice of pickled pigs cheek, which was as disgusting as it sounds. No offense to anybody who likes pickled pigs cheek). So as I took the first bite of gazpacho, I had low expectations. But boy was it delicious. I was sold, and upon returning to the States, I started making gazpacho for anybody I could convince to try it.

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