Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pop's Day Contest Winners

Hope you had a great Father's Day weekend. As expected, I spent Sunday at the beach with the family. The weather was perfect and the crowd was minimal, i.e. it was a fantastic day. 

That is until I once again burned the slab of beef ribs I tried to BBQ for dinner. (Side note: does anyone know how to BBQ beef ribs without them turning into charred sticks?). Dinner was followed up with my delicious homemade cookie cake, featuring Mrs. Dude's special frosting made from scratch. 

Yes, I ate most of it. Especially this most appropriate piece: 

And among our beach snacks were PopChips. This week was Salt & Pepper, one of my favorite combinations and quite complementary to our turkey sandwiches. 

But beyond reading about my eating habits, the real reason you're here is to find out who won the big Pop's Day Giveaway.* So without further ado, the big winner of a VIP 6-pack of tickets to the Eat See Hear screening of her choice with seats in PopChips "Fashionably Late" section PLUS a month's supply of PopChips is: @TheBigDebowski

And the 2nd prize of a month's supply of PopChips chips is @whithonea. Not too shabby. 

I will notify both winners via Twitter and they will have 24 hours to get back to me, or else another winner will be chosen.**

Thanks to @PopChipsLA for sponsoring this great contest and everyone who participated!!! 

*Winners were chosen by a random number selector: Mrs. Dude. She had no idea what she was picking, and chose the numbers from ranges I provided, assigned by when comments were left on my original blog post. 

**Even if you didn't win, you can still buy PopChips. They're really good. 

Disclaimer: I was sent enough PopChips to feed Luxembourg in exchange for organizing this contest. And I've eaten a ton of them. All opinions expressed here are entirely mine, for better or worse. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The First Last

I’m often nostalgic around this time of year because June is a memorable month for me for many reasons. June contains Mrs. Dude’s birthday, my brother’s birthday, my mother’s birthday and Father’s Day. And that’s just the first two weeks. But there’s two other dates that also always stand out in my memory: June 11 and 12.

Each of those two dates changed my life in a similar but very different way. June 11th was the day I graduated from college and June 12th was the day I graduated from high school. Only someone with a partial photographic memory (used most frequently to recall old completely random info) would remember those specific dates so many years after they occurred. For while the dates may have been insignificant relative to what happened on them, they stick in my mind as placeholders.

June 12, 1994 is a far more notorious date than just because I graduated from high school on that day. That date will live in infamy as the date O.J. Simpson allegedly murdered his ex-wife. But that event is obviously only part of what makes it memorable to me. It also marked my final time spent at the Richfield Coliseum, (where my school’s commencement was held), which closed a few months later. I’d spent countless great nights among my first 18 years at the Coliseum attending concerts, sporting events, and even an NHL exhibition game that had to be canceled midway through because the ice melted.  My final trip to the Coliseum marked one end of my childhood and a new beginning as I moved on to college a few months later.

A month after graduation I went to a Grateful Dead concert, one of many I attended over the years. This particular outdoor show was marred by a huge rainstorm that dampened the crowd, both figuratively and literally. But there was one moment in the second set that has stuck with me through the years. When the band played Saint of Circumstance and got to these lyrics: “Sure don’t know what I’m going for, but I’m gonna go for it, for sure,” I knew college, and the future in general, was going to be a mystery and an adventure. 

June 11, 1999 marked the culmination of my formal education and the official first steps of the rest of my life. At lunch after my graduation ceremony that afternoon, I told my family of my intention to move to Los Angeles later that summer. I didn’t know exactly what I would do when I arrived, but I figured I could wing it. I was young, smart and eager to get started on whatever I’d be doing next.

Cut to almost 14 years later and I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going for. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Every choice I’ve made since then has led me to today. Some decisions have been great and some not so great. Obviously one great one was marrying Mrs. Dude, who collaborated with me to produce both Junior Dudes.

This year on June 12th, I was daydreaming in the car while cruising on another sunny L.A. day, and reflecting on my high school graduation that occurred so long ago and so far away on that date.  Though my ride wasn’t long, I had a lot of time to think about all I’ve done since then. And when I reached my destination, I parked the car, and then ascended a staircase I’d climbed a hundred times before and picked up my Little Dude from the last day of his first year of school. His journey is just beginning. 

Leaving Room 5 for the final time. . .

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Pops' Day Giveaway

Nestled among the holy triumvirate of Dude family gift-giving holidays is a single one when I’m off the hook. Thankfully. This weekend is Fathers’ Day and beyond the blatant commercialism of the holiday, I’m very lucky that I’ll be able to spend the day with my two Junior Dudes and the lovely Mrs. Dude. Last year she made me a giant cookie cake for the occasion and if the Pillsbury bake-off had occurred that day, she surely would have won the blue ribbon. (Yes, I’m campaigning for a repeat.)
Yes, it was amazing. 
The other big thing we did last year to celebrate Fathers’ Day was go to Zuma Beach. Not only is Zuma one of my favorite places any day of the year, but there was perfect weather and I got to spend a perfect day with my wife and then-1.5 children. Mrs. Dude was a trooper, for not only did she not mind lugging to the beach while uncomfortably 6-months pregnant, but she made and packed our whole lunch, as she usually does. Though this should be easy, it can lead to people who want Cheetos, but are forced to eat Funyuns because that’s what was packed. (And yes, I know if I want something specific, I should pack it myself.)
3.5 Dude family members at the beach.
Father's Day, 2012
We won’t have those issues this year, though, because the kind crew at PopChips sent me a slew of their chips to sample. When they offered to send me some samples, I figured it would be a few small bags. They sent me three freakin’ cases containing every flavor they make. No joke. Including an entire case of their brand new Tortilla PopChips, which are like regular tortilla chips but come in better flavors and are healthier for you. So I got that going for me, which is nice.
Yes, I was stunned to find this outside my door.
You’re probably wondering what makes them healthier than “regular” chips while asking yourself if it’s just a gimmick that some marketing whiz came up with. No, it’s true. They aren’t fried or baked, which I just learned are not great for you. Instead they’re popped and contain whole grains, which people tell me are much better for you than half-, quarter- or even zero-grain. And they have half the fat of regular tortilla chips, which apparently is both a) a lot and b) a shock to this Dude who usually eats two baskets on his own at most Mexican restaurants. 

What else is good about them? Well, they’re:

·         Gluten-Free: Which is kind of a big deal these days, though I often ask for a side of gluten dipping sauce for my carbs.

·         No preservatives, cholesterol or fake colors: I see enough of that stuff around LA, as it is.

·         Kosher & Vegetarian: And some flavors are even Vegan!

Beyond the four Tortilla Chip flavors that PopChips just rolled out (Nacho Cheese, Ranch, Chili Limon and Salsa), the PopChips crew has a ton of other great non-tortilla flavors, including Katy’s Kettle Corn. Which is a reference to being Katy Perry's favorite chip...and you know how picky she can be.  Better yet, just enjoy them because they taste good. 

So this year, when we go to the beach for Father’s Day, each Dude family member will get their own bag of PopChips. And no one will be saddled with Funyuns against their will.

To commemorate Father’s Day, or Pop’s Day in this case, the rad PopChips people have a great giveaway for two lucky/hungry reader of this old blog.

PopChips is a sponsor of a cool movie series housed in various L.A. locations called Eat See Hear. This series brings the largest outdoor movie screen west of the Mississippi to show some classic flicks like Elf, Stripes & Boogie Nights to watch in full HD picture and audio. And they make it a party with food trucks and live music before the event. But one lucky winner will win 6 passes to the screening of their choice in the PopChips VIP “Fashionably Late” section, which means you don’t have to get there 2 hours early if you don’t want.

What, you want more? How about a month’s supply of PopChips to go along with those tickets?

But what if you don’t live in LA and can’t get to a screening? PopChips is offering a month’s supply to one non-L.A. reader as well. I told you they are rad.

So what do you have to do to enter?

1.       First you must follow @popchipsla and @DudeOfTheHouse on Twitter, if you don’t already.

2.       Second, you must leave a comment on this blog post telling me that you want to enter the contest and if you are able to go to a screening or are only in it for the PopChips.

NOTE: Please leave your Twitter handle in the comment below so I can reach you if you win!

Winners will be chosen at random on Monday, June 17, 2013 Thursday, June 20, 2013  at 12:00pm PST. Winner must reply within 24 hours or else someone else will be the big winner. So stay tuned.

DISCLAIMER: PopChips sent me a ridiculous amount of their ridiculously good chips. In exchange, I am writing this post and hosting this giveaway. Seems fair, right? 
Any opinions expressed in this post are entirely mine, like the fact that my favorite PopChips flavor is Nacho Cheese.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sowing My Wild Oats

I’m not someone who is big on labels, which is only part of the reason I wouldn’t call myself a metrosexual. I like to look and smell good, but not too good. Given that I live in Los Angeles, I’d hate to intimidate all the movie stars with my debonair style, rugged good looks and emerging pot belly. But when it comes to grooming, I take things a little more seriously. One reason is because I live in a place where there are 300 sunny days a year and I don’t want my face to resemble an old catcher’s mitt as I age.

So I’ve always tried to take care of my skin. I have very sensitive skin on my face and shaving really irritates it, so I always use decent razors, gels and creams to minimize the red bumps, razor burn and general discomfort that shaving imposes on my delicate punim. I’ve always shaved only once or twice per week to alleviate the unpleasantness. Besides, I look studlier with a chinful of stubble. Or at least that’s one excuse for not shaving.  

For the last few years, I’ve used some pricey shaving stuff from Kiehl’s, which is a fancy-ish brand. Mrs. Dude had a friend who worked there and gave me a bunch of samples to try many years ago and I was hooked, except on the price. But the resulting minimized bumps and burn on my freshly de-follicled neck made subsequent purchases worthwhile.

So when I was asked recently to try out Aveeno’s new Men’s Line (which consists of a Face Wash, Shaving Gel and After Shave), I was skeptical if anything could be better than Kiehl’s for my fancy skin. Given my high brand satisfaction, I normally would have just declined the offer, but there was one reason I didn’t: My wife.

Mrs. Dude has long sworn by Aveeno products for her own use and we’ve used Aveeno baby bath stuff for both the Little and Littler Dudes since they were born.  And since all three of them are completely adorable, I figured that maybe I should see if I was missing out on something and try out the Men’s Line.

Aveeno’s big claim to fame is that they use oats in their products, which is supposedly good for cleansing and moisturizing skin. I don’t know about that, but I do know oats taste great in cookies, so I figured it was worth the gamble. Especially since they sent me the products free of charge.

But before I tried the Aveeno line, I tried the Kiehl’s stuff one more time, to have a baseline reading on the inevitable post-shave redness level of my cheeks and neck:

Four days later, to make sure my skin had fully rebooted itself, I busted out the Aveeno Men’s products.

First I washed my face with the Face Wash (duh), then I followed my normal pre-shave routine that includes putting a wet hot washcloth on to loosen up the hairs. I pumped out some of the Shave Gel into my hands and spread it onto my face. It has a scent, which I suppose is “oaty”, but smells kind of like cherries to me. Either way, it’s not nearly as cringe-inducing as the menthol-scented shaving creams I used to use in my teen years.  Who decided menthol was a desirable smell anyway?

As I followed my normal shave routine, I noticed that I could hardly feel the blade against my skin, which is very unusual. Once finished, I noticed that my cheeks felt softer than usual and my neck wasn’t on fire, like it usually is post-shave.

But the real test would be the next day, when I skeptically expected the worst. Shockingly, there was not one bump, bruise or cut. I haven’t had that in a very long time. I checked again the second day after shaving and found the same thing.

Figuring this must be a fluke, I tried shaving 3 more times with the Aveeno products over a couple weeks and these remarkable results held up. I never found even one bump, which had never happened before in my 25 years of shaving. Given that the Aveeno products’ retail cost is about one-third as much as the Kiehl’s stuff, I seriously considered hopping aboard the USS Aveeno. But then inspiration hit me.  If the Aveeno products were so great because of the oats, why couldn’t I just make my own shaving cream (of wheat)? We have plenty of raw oats in the house for cooking, so I figured I could save even more money by doing it myself. So I made a bowl of oatmeal to shave with. Seriously.

And the amazing thing was that it actually worked.

It wasn’t the best shave I’ve ever gotten, but it wasn’t bad. It was, however, the messiest shave I’ve ever had. My sink and t-shirt were covered in oats and that was a bad combo.

The oats worked fine for the cheeks, but not so great around the chin and more sensitive areas, so I decided to switch back to the Aveeno shave gel mid-shave to finish the job off right.

As someone who has worked in sales for a long time I’m not easily sold on new products because of bells and whistles, and I have another blog post coming soon that will prove that, but this Aveeno stuff rocks. The three products’ average cost is about $5.00 each, so I could get the whole set for less than one bottle of the Kiehl’s stuff I had been using. My only complaint about the Aveeno line is that there is no everyday-use facial moisturizer. Or if the After Shave is intended for this purpose, I think it should have SPF15 in it. Otherwise, I’ll need to use two products on my face, and that is just a bit too much for this quasi-metrosexual. I need to keep my street cred somehow.

Disclaimer: Aveeno Men’s provided product samples free of charge and compensated me for this post, but the opinions expressed are completely mine, for better or worse. Also, RIP to the bowlful of oats who gave their lives for the betterment of my skin.