Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Coke in a Bottle on the Cheap

Have you ever noticed how, even though you can hardly ever find a Coca-Cola in a glass bottle in the store anymore, the bottled version is consistently used in Coca-Cola commercials. There's a reason for that. Coke just looks better in those hourglass bottles. My Sweet Baboo also is absolutely convinced they taste better in those glass bottles.

Now as a Dr. Pepper man, I can tell you that DP DOES taste better in those glass bottles. My grandmother used to bribe us to behave by promising us a bottle of Dr. Pepper if we didn't tear the house down when we visited. It worked like a charm and that's saying a lot given the ADD hellions we were. Of course DP in the glass bottles at least used to be made with cane sugar and the ones in the cans and plastic bottles is made with corn syrup. The taste actually is different. Now DP used to make Diet Dr. Pepper in glass bottles and it tasted better than the canned stuff, so my wife may actually have something there.

Here's a neat little trick for enjoying a decadent soft drink experience in spite of marketing people deciding to deprive us of Coke in bottles. We true-blooded Southern Americans will not be denied! When we want a Coke, this is what we're talking about!

So, I tried this little experiment for myself and found that I agree with her. It's the bottle!  My experiment was simple.

  • Coca-Cola (or any other soft drink for that matter.
  • Old-fashioned Coca-Cola bottle. You can still rarely find them in stores. You can also buy them in the old-fashioned wooden cases at antique stores. Well worth the price, I'm telling you.
  • Small funnel
  1. Clean bottle thoroughly
  2. Use funnel to pour Coke into the bottle. Tilt the bottle and pour slowly so it doesn't bubble over. If you pour it straight in, it will bubble over and you'll lose half your drink.
  3. Now lift that bottle to your lips and marvel at how much better it tastes in that cold glass bottle.

You don't have to use Coke. I sometimes pour Diet A&W Root Beer into the Coke bottle and it does taste better. It feels decadent.  If you want to be really cool for a party you can save up a couple of dozen bottles for a party.  You can even find these little plastic caps that fit on the bottles to retain their fizz after you pour them up. Won't last as long as the original sealing process, but it will help the bottles retain most of the fizz during your event. Nothing as delicious looking as a bunch of those bottles stuck in a mound of ice in a bit old tub of ice.

And hey, who doesn't need a little decadence once in a while.

© 2016 by Tom King

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How to Get a Hyper Toddler to Go to Sleep

Eliana "Jellybean" Blackburn & Tom "Poppy" King
Youth and Energy vs Age and Brains
Reprinted and revised from original Facebook post:
Do you have a child or grand-child that just won't settle down and give it a rest. Is the kid reducing you to a loose pile of exhausted loosely connected bones and aching muscles every day?  Well I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be that way. There's a semi-old saying that "Age and craftiness beat youth and energy every time."Here's how it works. 

Our recent pint-sized houseguest, Eliana Blackburn has some kind of internal thermo-nuclear internal reactor or something. She doesn't seem to ever wear out and HATES to sleep! Her parents look like they've been holed up in the Alamo under an 18 day cannonade without relief. To say they look haggard would be kind.

But this week, Eliana was in there with an old geezer who raised ADD kids and worked with ADD kids as a teacher, rec therapist and day care director and is pretty danged ADD his own self. The secret to wearing out a two year old is to understand this fact. Two year-olds have all that energy for two basic reasons.
  1. A two year-old can sit down whenever they are tired. And they sit down quite a lot. 
  2. Grownups do not have that luxury. What we do is use those few moments when the two year-old is resting to get our other work done, so we wind up working twice as hard as the two year old.
Jellybean drops the leash
So don't do that! The first secret is to keep your toddler from taking those quickie rest breaks over a sustained period of time. If not permitted to settle in for a quickie rest period, they DO get tired and surprisingly quickly.

So, Smart Grandpa Strategy #1 - I take her for walks. I have to take a walk every day anyway, so I use this time as a way to wear down the little darling. Here in this picture, she is "helping" walk the dog. I highly recommend enlisting the aid of a dog. Not only do they need exercise, but they are quite willing to exercise toddlers as well - two birds with the same bit of rock. It should here be noted that Eliana at age two was not terribly good at dog walking and Daisy was about as energetic as she was. Therefore, Jellybean would drop the leash ever five feet or so. And, because it's one of those auto-retract ones, she had to chase the leash and the dog around till she recovered the handle. The dog likes to veer off to smell every bush, rock and fire hydrant along the way, which meant a short, energy burning tug of war between Daisy and Jellybean. So by the time we have walked a mile or two (yes I said a "mile") I, who am used to it am quite refreshed. Eliana, who has been chasing the leash and struggling with the dog, has walked a lot farther than I did. About halfway around the block, Eliana was pretty well beat and beginning to fade.

Jellybean retrieves the leash
I, however, am an unmerciful caregiver where the energy expenditure of two year-olds are concerned. They are not permitted to sit down and cry, I don't pick them up and with the great outdoors to absorb the sound and my trusty mp3 player with earbuds to dull the temper tantrums down to a manageable level, we kept walking. Eventually, she began to droop.

Smart Grandpa strategy #2 - Be jovially hard-hearted.  Do not give in to the temptation to pick up the child when they start to whimper. I find that exhortations of "Good job, kid!" and "Hey we're almost home!" along with vague promises of tasty treats will keep a two-year old engaged longer. Eventually they will start to drop down in the road every ten feet or so and cry. At first, pretending not to notice will cause them to give chase to you to make sure you can see the tantrum they are putting so much energy into, thereby burning even more energy in the pursuit. Sometimes, if the child is given to tantrums, allow them to throw one. This also burns energy. You can respond to this by saying kindly, "Are you tired sweetie? Well, me too. Let's hurry and get home so we can sit down and rest, okay?" This confuses the child. You seem to have agreed with her, so she follows you on foot. This often keeps them going another few hundred yards before they realize you are not carrying them.

Always enlist the assistance of a dog
wherever possible.
Smart Grandpa Strategy # 3 - Enforce carrying discipline.  Eliana began to give up the struggle to stay awake. You could see her head bobbing mid-tantrum. She was pretty worn out, so I finally offered to carry her, but NOT till we topped the last hill toward home. She came running to me to be picked up (thereby burning more energy). I got in another good ten yards before she caught me. Then, I told her I'd carry her if she put her head down on my shoulder - the proper place it should be if she was too tired to walk. She agreed, and I picked her up. Of course she had to test my resolve on the head position rule at least once. She raised her head to look around and when she did, I asked, "Are you ready to get back down?"  When she saw I was starting to put her down, the head went back down on my shoulder like a shot.

Once she had settled against my shoulder and became still, then, ten feet down the road, she was snoring softly in my ear. She slept for 5 hours! I, on the other hand, got my snooze done in half an hour. Age and craft beats youth and enthusiasm every time.

Poppy is still the master!

© 2016 by Tom King

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Jazz Up Your Birdhouse With Some Birds

One of the collection of front porch birdhouses my wife hung from the eaves attracted a hive of hornets. After I  So I plugged up the holes with some of that green styrofoam floral block cut to fit in the holes. The only problem was that we didn't get birds anymore. So we bought some.

Stuff You Need:

  1. You need a staple gun and some 1/2 to 3/4 inch staples
  2. You need some fake birds. 
  3. You need some bird houses

Where You Can Get the Stuff You Need:

  1.  Staple gun and staples can be obtained at the hardware store if you have a male person about the house who is worth a flip, just look in the garage or the tool box on the back of his pickup.
  2. The "Everything's a Dollar Store" or almost any one of those dollar stores or arts & crafts places have them. I  bought 4 nice little birds made with real feathers and only paid a buck a piece for them.  They come with a spring clip on the underside where the feet go.
  3. If you are a proper householder, you should already have a birdhouse hanging about somewhere. If not, Hobby Lobby and Michael's probably have some good starter birdhouses.

How to Mount the Birds:

  1. Find a nice spot on the wooden birdhouse and tap in a staple. Leave a gap so that the space between the staple and the perch or roof of the house or wherever you mount the bird is wide enough for the clip on the bird to slide through.
  2. Clip the birds to the staples on the houses. 
  3. Voila' you've got birds that don't poop sitting on houses that aren't full of hornets.
How cool is that?

© 2016 by Tom King