Knott’s Scary Farm 2021 Opening night

My wife surprised me for our wedding anniversary and gave me a ticket and parking pass for the opening night of this year’s Knott’s Scary Farm attraction on September 16th .  I got there at 7:00 pm for the official opening and stayed until 1:00 am when they closed.  I was able to go through all 7 mazes including the one new one this year, MESMER: SIDESHOW OF THE MIND

They were closed last year due the pandemic and that was the first year that I have missed since 1995 when my buddy Dave and I started going every year.  It was nice to get back and I had a great time.  Dave and I will be going on the 30th so I hope to have another update after that.  Please enjoy the pictures!

I’m building another spooky dollhouse – update #1

I picked up another used dollhouse on Facebook Marketplace for $20 a few weeks ago.  I took the whole thing apart and gave every piece a good scrubbing.  I let it dry over night and then gave everything a base coat of flat black or flat white spray paint.  The trim pieces dried pretty quickly and I was able to give them a light coat of bronze as well.

Las Vegas or Bust! Day 1

One of our neighborhood friends is turning 50 this year and a bunch of us headed out to Las Vegas to help her celebrate.  Her husband rented a really big van to haul everybody in style.  Everyone was staying in Vegas from Thursday to Sunday and then heading out to Laughlin for a couple more days after that.  My wife and I had to head home in Sunday afternoon so she rode up with them and I followed in my car.

We stopped at the Barstow Del Taco for lunch.  This location is known for having Barstow Tacos, Barstow Tostadas, and Bun Tacos.  The tacos and tostadas have double the meat, double the cheese, and a full slice of tomato on them.  The bun tacos are exactly that, tacos in a bun.  I like to get the 2 Barstow Tacos meal and my wife likes the burritos.

After lunch we got back on the road.  A few miles up FWY 15 we passed Rock A Hoola waterpark.  I attended a few great Mini Truck shows there in the early 2000’s.

Once we got to Las Vegas my wife and I headed to our mini suite at the Linq Hotel and Casino.  It was one of the bigger rooms that we have stayed in and was very comfortable.  Most of the other people in our group stayed across the street at Caesars Palace, but we were able to get this room for less than half the price of getting a standard room there.  It is across the street from Caesars Palace and it took about 5 or 6 minutes to walk over there.

We relaxed in our room for about an hour and then headed across the street to hang out in the birthday girls suite on the 28th floor of Caesars Palace.  That suite was probably 4 times the size of ours and all 12 of us were able to hang out there with plenty of room to spare.

We enjoyed some adult beverages and then headed down to the Cafe Americano for a late night snack.  I cannot recommend that restaurant at all.  It was very overpriced, the food took forever to get to us, and then it wasn’t very good.   We had originally planned to hit up the Ice Bar afterwards but it ended up getting too late and we missed it.  Next time!

We headed back to our room about 1:30 am and hit the sack.

Home made TanTanMen Ramen – 1st try

I was introduced to ramen about a year and half ago when I went to lunch with a couple of coworkers.  It was something that I had wanted to try for a while but had been hesitant to try because I didn’t know what to order.  The coworker recommended the “Real TanTan” bowl at the restaurant and I loved it.  I have since been to 5 or 6 other Ramen restaurants and none of them have had a TanTan bowl so I always end up returning to that original restaurant to get it.

I did some research and discovered that the bowl that I like is a version of the  TanTanMen recipe.  I found an semi-easy looking recipe on YouTube and decided to try it out.  There is a link to the recipe at the bottom of the page.

I went to my local WinCo and was able to find most of the ingredients but not the Tsuyu Soup base, Toban Djin chili bean paste, and bok choy.  I substituted Soy Sauce for the Tsuyu and a sweet chili sauce (that I already had) for the Toban Djin.  My wife does not handle spicy very well so I also used less of the chili oil than the recipe called for.

I got all of the ingredients together and started cooking.

I fried up the ground pork with vegetable oil, minced garlic, ginger paste, sweet chili paste, oyster sauce, and rice wine.

The soup base is water, soy milk, and chicken bouillon.

I blanched the bean sprouts and then cooked the ramen in the same water.

My regular soup bowls were too small so I had to break out the larger Tupperware bowls.

I then added the cooked pork and blanched bean sprouts.

The final step was to add the soup broth and green onions.

This was my first attempt at this recipe and I would call it a 70% success.  I didn’t put in nearly enough chili oil and with the other 3 missing ingredients it was a little on the bland side. Overall it still had a good flavor and I enjoyed it, but I look forward to improving it for the next time.

I am going to see if I can find an asian market in the area to find the rest of the proper ingredients.

10-Minute EASY Tantanmen Ramen Recipe & Video

I bought another doll house to restore! (Doll House Project V2)

I picked up a Loving Family Sweet Sounds Dollhouse last night for $20 on Facebook Marketplace. It looks like it has spent some time outside and definitely needs a good cleaning.  It’s in pretty good shape for it’s age and has some cool details to it.  I am debating on how I want to restore it.  I might try making this one Gothic like the last one, or I might go for the rustic spooky vibe.  Either way it should be a lot of fun.  I built the last house in about a week and a half because I wanted to have it ready for Halloween.  I’m going to take more time on this one and spend more time on the little details.  Keep an eye on this blog as I am going to do my best to update it as often as I can.

How to make a DIY Haunted/Gothic Castle from an old plastic dollhouse [Halloween 2020]

At the beginning of October, a friend of mine on Facebook shared a post by a lady who had taken an old dollhouse and painted it black.  She added a few paint touches and some moss and made it look spooky.  As soon as I saw it, I was totally hooked and had to make one.

I searched the Facebook marketplace for a couple of weeks and found an old used dollhouse/castle for $10 and picked it up on the way home.

Take the dollhouse apart as much as possible by removing screws and popping out tabs.  Clean each piece thoroughly and let them dry overnight.  They must be fully dry before you apply paint.

Come up with a color scheme and paint the pieces accordingly.  In this case I decided that I wanted the walls black, the roof bronze and all the leftover pieces for the interior copper.  Do not try to spray 1 heavy coat of paint onto everything as it will take forever to dry. They should all get 3 to 4 lights coats of paint with at least an hour wait time between each coat.  Patience is your friend and you will be rewarded for it.

This is the fun part. Once again, come up with a color scheme and paint in all the fine details to your hearts content.  I chose to paint all the roses a metallic red and with light metallic green leaves. The clock tower received silver highlights. I tied the walls and roof together by using the same light silver to highlight the bricks. I used re and blue to paint the birds. I used red and silver on the handrails inside the front doors. The front doors got bronze hinges and silver handles. I used a little of all the colors on the stove.

Put the dollhouse back together by pushing all the tabs back into place and driving in all the screws. Take your time as you do not want to chip off any of the paint.

San Francisco vacation – Day 1

My wife and I took a mini vacation for the long Labor Day weekend and made the drive up to San Francisco.  On Friday, we had to wait until my kids’ remote learning classes were over for the day so we didn’t get out of town until about 1:00 pm.

We took the 5 FWY all the way up and then took the San Mateo Bridge across to our Hotel.  We made the 415 mile trip in about 7 hours. We went through a McDonald’s drive thru for lunch and stopped at a couple of rest stops and a couple of vista points along the way.  We had no agenda or set plans for the whole weekend and just had fun along the way.

What is an ashtray?

It was a long drive but totally worth it.  I got a room in the Marriott in San Mateo near the airport which is about 20 minutes south of San Francisco.  It was a little bit of a drive to get into the city from here but the hotel was almost empty and we got upgraded to a suite and free parking.  We stayed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in a 4 star hotel for less than $400.  Thanks COVID!

By the time that we got checked in there weren’t too many restaurants open after 9:00 pm but I found an Italian joint in downtown San Mateo and picked up some over-priced personal pizzas.  They tasted great but that may have been a symptom of having just finished a long road trip.

I got a new gas griddle and made chicken fried rice for the first time

For the last 3 years I have been asking for Lowes gift cards for birthdays, Father’s Day, and Christmas.  I finally collected enough cards and was able to purchase a Blue Rhino Razor gas griddle. My whole goal for getting this griddle is to learn how to make Japanese food like at Benihana.

My sons and I unboxed and put it together.

Once it was assembled, the older boy and I seasoned it.  We set it to it’s highest setting and let it come up to full heat for 10 minutes.  Using gloves and tongs, I gave it a thin coat of vegetable oil and let that burn in for 10 minutes.  We repeated this step 2 more times for a total of 3.

While the griddle was seasoning, I prepared the ingredients to make Chicken Fried Rice.  I cooked the rice the day before and let it dehydrate in the refrigerator over night.  I softened a pound of of butter, added 3 tablespoons of minced garlic, some soy sauce, and lemon juice.  I diced up an onion, shredded some carrots, and chopped up some green onions.  I also cubed up 4 chicken tenderloins and soaked them in soy sauce and salt.  I cracked 5 eggs into a bowl and stirred them up as well.  Eventually, I want to get good enough to crack the eggs on the grill, cut the chicken, and make an onion volcano.  This was my first time making it so I played it safe and prepped everything beforehand.

I transferred everything to the shelves on the sides and started cooking.  I set the heat to high on the 2 right burners and medium on the 2 left ones.

I started by cooking the chicken first and then moving it to the left to stay warm.  This was followed by the onions and carrots.  I sprayed the grill with canola oil first and then added some garlic butter while they were cooking.

I then poured the eggs on the grill and cooked them halfway.  I then dumped the rice on top of the eggs and thoroughly combined them.  Once flattened out I gave them some garlic butter as well.

I let the rice cook for a few minutes and then mixed in the chicken, onions, carrots, soy sauce, and salt & pepper.

I added in the green onions and cooked for a few more minutes and then spooned them in a bowl for serving.

We had the rice as our main dish for dinner and it turned out as good as I had hoped.  Now that I feel confident with this recipe, I am going to try adding some steak and vegetables to the next meal.

The final step was to bring the griddle back up to heat and clean it with a wet towel and give it another coat of seasoning.

Boy Scout Red Mountain campout

Every year, my son’s Boy Scout troop has a campout near Red Mountain, CA.  They get to throw Tomahawks, work on their Archery skills, shoot .22 rifles in sit down shooting station, and shoot shotguns.  This year, the troop added knife throwing to the activities.  All of these activities are performed under the supervision of fully trained range masters.

It is one of the campouts that the boys remember the most.