Things I Make: Don’s 2011 Christmas List, Updated

As far as me blogging about things I want and things I’m getting, this Christmas season has been a failure. I mean, I’m still getting gifts (which is awesome), but I’m not blogging as much as I wanted to. Fingers crossed, of course, that while America is spending record amounts of money on retail that some of those billions (or is it trillions) are being spent on me.

You might think blogging about and posting one’s Christmas wish-list is selfish and doesn’t represent the spirit of the holiday, but I have a brand new umbrella and a cool baseball cap to prove you wrong.

This morning, the kids whom I drive to school every morning (along with my own kids …I don’t want you to think I’m just picking up kids and driving them to school) gave me an umbrella (a really nice MSU umbrella) and a baseball cap that says “A Good Run.” This was completely unnecessary and unexpected, but made my day. I only wish today wasn’t sunny so I could try out this umbrella. And the hat? Well, I almost take it as a sign …I need to start running again. I need to start exercising again. I’ve given my lungs 4 solid months of nothing and they’re feeling pretty good. Time to take ’em out running again and see what happens.

So, I’ve taken off the hat and umbrella from my list, added a few things, and you can still get me something for Christmas – only 8 days remain.

  • cast iron skillet
  • J. Crew Essential Chino (32 waist)
  • new cologne
  • New! Adidas barefoot running shoes
  • New! another Aeropress (for work)
  • New! $20 iTunes gift card (so I can buy iPad apps)
  • starter guitar and lessons (well, mostly lessons …someone has offered
  • coffee from Chazzanno
  • Casio watch (G-Shock …$35 or $50 price range)
  • Burr type coffee bean grinder
  • small desk lamp
  • full exterior body detailing from Classic Appreciation
  • 24 ounce thermos
  • slippers (though I really like these sock/slippers I got when I was in the hospital)
  • board game: Wits n Wagers
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Things I Make: Don’s 2011 Christmas List

Usually I like to make my Christmas wish-list public by Black Friday so my friends, family, and fans can take advantage of the deals and savings. I’m off to a late start and if you’ve already bought me something, I’m sure I’ll love it. Afterall, there were quite a few things that didn’t get purchased off my 2010 Christmas list or my 38th Birthday “I Love Don Week” wish-list. I’m still accepting any gifts listed there, as well.

But without further ado, here is my 2011 Christmas Wish-List. It’s just the starter list, and I’m still rounding out some other items and I think I forgot a few things that I wanted, but my wish-list is an ever-evolving work of greed – so keep checking back.

  • Pro Combat MSU baseball cap
  • Spartan or Cadillac umbrella
  • cast iron skillet
  • J. CrewEssential Chino (32 waist)
  • new cologne
  • coffee from Chazzanno
  • Casio watch (G-Shock …$35 or $50 price range)
  • Burr type coffee bean grinder
  • small desk lamp
  • full exterior body detailing from Classic Appreciation
  • 24 ounce thermos
  • slippers (though I really like these sock/slippers I got when I was in the hospital)
  • board game: Wits n Wagers

I think that’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll have quite a bit more to add and if you have a great idea that you’ve been thinking, like, “ya know, Don would really like such-and-such,” …be my guest and buy me whatever you want. I trust you all to know how to spoil me.

Merry Christmas.

Things I Make: Mix Tapes

Making a mix tape is a lost art.

I still make mix tapes.

Actually, I make “playlists” on my mp3 player nowadays, but same difference.

Recently I read a really good blog post by @ChristyTV where she discussed how music was way better back in the day. It’s worth reading.

It’s a topic I think about quite a bit. Music mattered to me for years and years and most songs and CDs are tied to some sort of memory or milestone. Then I graduated college and it seems like music stopped. Some of my college friends will tell you, indeed, music did stop right about the mid-90s and everything since is over-produced, commercialized crap.

That’s what old curmudgeons tend to say.

But I’m still makin’ mix tapes, and I have lots of music that’s tied to major milestones, and I suspect you do, too …you just might not realize it. No, I’m not makin’ mix tapes for girls I’m hoping to impress, carefully choosing a playlist that includes songs with lyrics that tell a story and simultaneously prove how cool and hip and intellectual I am. Instead, I’m makin’ mix tapes for girls who ride in car seats in the back of my SUV I can’t afford, and the mini-van I never dreamed I’d own (lease). I make mix tapes (playlists) for my kids and their friends whom I drive to school every morning. I carefully monitor Radio Disney, Top-40 stations, Disney Channel, and So Random! for the perfect blend of lyrically appropriate hits that keep my kids on the cutting edge of Top-40 shlock, but without crossing the line lyrically into a place where I’ll have to explain what certain things mean.

Like, as catchy as the song “Moves Like Jagger” is, I don’t want my 5, 7, and 8-year old singing these lyrics.

“Take me by the tongue
And I’ll know you;
Kiss me till you’re drunk
And I’ll show you.”

I’m just sayin’ …if you are in your 30s, chances are you think all music sucks. There’s a never-ending cycle of musical phases and the older generation is genetically coded to hate all music that didn’t happen during their own puberty. And chances are you romantically hold dear certain songs that are tied to certain eras and moments in your life, but don’t live in the past. Open your ears and listen to the music around you and realize this horrible modern music is the music that you’ll dance to at this year’s Daddy Daughter Dance, that your kids will ask you to turn up when it comes on the radio, and someday when we’re all empty-nesters in our 50s and 60s and we somehow hear a song from Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Hot Chale Rae, and the “High School Musical” soundtracks, we’re going to have to wipe some tears from our eyes and we’ll wish they still made music like that.

Listen to some bad, awful music today. Dance with your kids. Press ‘play’ below and turn it up …tonight (tonight).

Things I Make: Salsa and Big Decisions

It’s Sunday and that’s usually a day off here at the blog, but I thought I’d quick blog about my first ever Board of Directors meeting at my salsa world headquarters (salsa yet unnamed, world headquarters = my kitchen). My trusty assistant and I, if anything ever becomes of this li’l salsa experiment, are hard at work dividing up tasks, arguing over the spreadsheets and how to spend the seed money, and brainstorming the best ways to make this actually work.

But, before I begin, I’m mucho inspired by Jenny and Matt, co-owners of Jenny’s Wild Bean Dip which my wife and I agree is, by far the best bean dip we’ve ever tasted. “But, Don,” you ask, “really …it’s just a bean dip, aren’t you being a bit overdramatic?” And I answer with an emphatic, tear-filled, down-on-my-knees screaming to the heavens … “No, good sir! I am not. Prepare to duel!”.

Remember, I make everything dramatic.

Anyway, Jenny and Matt are basically living the dream and the plan that I plan and dream for my own salsa company. In fact, and it ain’t like the two of them are driving his & her Bentleys …they are actually succeeding far past any expectations I have for myself, and consider me impressed (and inspired). “Like” them on Facebook. Check out their site. And above all, find them at a farmer’s market near you and pick some up. You’ll be addicted. I promise you (I think they’re at the Birmingham Farmers Market every Sunday).

Quick update on the “Name My Salsa Company Contest”. The prize is free salsa for life.* Lots of chatter. I’m close to settling on a name. Last chance to submit yours and get in the contest. You don’t actually have to name my company, but anyone who offers any suggestion will be in the running and the drawing. Even if I go with one of my own name ideas, somebody’s still winning. At the end of the day, I want at least one person to have a good impression of my salsa company.

Here are the Top-7 current ideas.

  • Salsalogy (Salsaology)
  • Donnie Jalepeno
  • Don’s Delights
  • Assburners
  • Salscience
  • Salsamaniacs
  • Salsalewski
  • Donnie Pepper’s Salsa

That’s about it. I’m 6-days away from my first big event (if I haven’t waited too long to register and sign-up …oops). And unlike many crazy ideas I’ve had, nobody is really telling me I’m completely crazy on this one. Which is weird …most people love to tell me how crazy I am. But, I’ll go with it. Full of optimism and full of spice. I hope for many more awesome salsa-related entries soon. I’m just excited at how official this is all seeming. Ole!

* I’m not exactly sure why I’m including an asterisk, but I’m including it anyway because with every contest, there needs to be some sorta disclaimer and I just can’t think of anything I want to limit from this awesome prize. Like, maybe “free salsa for life” should be defined as “free salsa, up to 16 ounces per week, for life.” That seems fair. And only if I don’t fold the doors on my salsa company, then you get salsa for life. Oh, and I’m kinda leaning towards my own choice of a name …so in your face, greedy friends.

Things I Make: Everyone’s Favorite Salsa / Name My Salsa Company

Before I talk salsa, last night I had a dream that I let my car run out of gas and was stranded on a dark country road, and then one of my best friends from high-school drove by, he was dressed like Eminem from 8 Mile (and this particular friend would’ve never gone for the hip-hop look), and instead of helping he just wanted to tell me he always knew I’d end up this way. Anyone wanna analyze that?

I’ve spent some time talking coffee brewing but now I have to change gears quickly. I’m on the eve of launching my salsa company (technically I launched my salsa company in May and Chris D. was my first customer – picture above) and my salsa company doesn’t have a name. I was going to call it “Donnie Jalepeno” but nobody but me thinks that’s “awesome” or “neat-o.” So I’m opening it up to you …my salsa loving public. And if I go with the name you give me, well, there might be a price (like free salsa for life).

Here’s why I make salsa and why I think my salsa is the best. I like snacking. I think salsa should be more than a simple side dish at a party. I think salsa, on its own, should be a meal. In designing my salsa recipe, I wanted it to taste as fresh as possible, be spicey, and I wanted people to eat it and then not be able to stop. So I wanted something that tastes like salsa, and works like meth. I guess. Bad analogy.

This quest began probably 5 years ago and I took the stuff I liked from various good salsas I like, tried my own, experimented, traveled, meditated, burnt some taste buds, confused some local grocers with my odd requests and I’m proud to say I’ve done it. When I take my salsa to a party, it rarely makes it out of the first hour. In fact, at my sisters house, the guests won’t let me in the door if I don’t bring salsa, and then they all hover around the appetizers and devour my salsa. I’m proud of this. And because of this, I’m taking my salsa show on the road and to a farmer’s market next weekend.

Let’s Name My Salsa Together

Here are the leading choices that I’ve gotten as suggestions or that I made up myself. I’ve created a Poll that should work, but it it doesn’t, Leave a comment, cast your vote, or add your own idea. Thanks. Did I mention “free salsa for life?”