food + drink

Make Game Night Great Again: Board Games & Cocktail Pairings!

May 4, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

Board games have been a favorite family pastime for nearly a century, purporting to bring parents and children together and teach valuable skills like colors and stuff. But as many families know, what they really do is drive deep, pie-shaped wedges between spouses, create world-conquering rivalries between siblings; and generally scare the bejesus out of the cat. Even on game nights not boiling over with incessant whining and arguing, there’s still the mind-numbing boredom.

And yet, it is our duty as involved parents — nay, as Americans — to subject ourselves and our progeny to these worlds overflowing with candy and ladders and murder weapons and New Jersey real estate.

I’ve found that a little libation makes any activity run more smoothly. Classy folks look to experts for pairings of alcohol with their cheeses, meals, or cigars. You can even find wine to go with Girl Scout cookies. So why not match up cocktails with board games?

board games & cocktail pairings

I polled a bunch of parents to learn their most-hated games. Then I played them all with my kid while I drank a bunch of stuff to see which combos were most fun tolerable. Here are my scientific/strategic/spirited recommendations.
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Date Night, Naughty Notes, and a Big, Sexy Giveaway

February 28, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Date Night, Naughty Notes & a Giveaway from Plum Organics

On Valentine’s Day, I shared my not-so-scientific gay/straight Relationship Comparison Study. It illustrated some of the ways gay and straight parents differ, many of the funny ways we’re alike, and how all our relationships need a little help sometimes — the message behind Plum Organics’ fun Do Your Part(ner) campaign

I also mentioned that my husband and I took Plum’s Do Your Part(ner) Pledge, making a commitment to try some new ways to rekindle and reconnect. I’m here to report back on our successes and failures, as well as to give away a bunch of nifty Do Your Part(ner) kits from Plum I’ve unofficially named BOX OF BOW-CHICKA-BOW-WOW.

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Straight Parents vs. Gay Parents: A Relationship Comparison Study

February 15, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

Nick (AKA Papa) and I will have been together 20 years this October. We became parents when we were 42 and 40, and Jon is now seven (you do the math, we’re old and tired). As with any parents — gay or straight — we have to work to find time to be intimate, whether it’s in the bedroom or sitting down to snuggle or just finding out how the other is doing.

Luckily, Plum Organics is here to help. They sent us this nifty (and sexy) kit to spark some ideas on how we can reconnect both physically and emotionally.

Gay Parents vs. Straight Parents

< record scratch noise >

Waitaminnit… why is a baby food company sending out sexy-time kits?

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The “straight” answer is that sexy-time leads to babies, which leads to potential new customers. But the real story is that Plum is a brand by parents, for parents that believes in honest (and sometimes messy) conversations; they’ve been at it for years with their #ParentingUnfiltered campaign.

So back to the kit. It’s part of Plum’s Do Your Part(ner) campaign, which involves taking a pledge to make your relationship a priority, with the end goal of making the entire family happier and healthier. Plus it’s also a lot of fun.

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‘Twas 10 Days Before Christmas: Playing Santa With Google Home

December 15, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Whoever invented Santa Claus should be ashamed of themselves. As should all of us who have continually used him to leverage good behavior from our kids. And we bestow upon Santa all of these mystical powers and superhuman abilities, setting expectations at nothing less than Magical Candy Nirvana.

Then we, as parents, HAVE TO DO ALL THE WORK!

But instead of drowning your sorrows in hot cocoa, or stress-eating an entire roast beast, sit back and enjoy a holiday poem about a nifty device that’s been helping me make it through this crazy-making most special season.

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‘Twas ten days before Christmas, and all through my head
Every detail was spinning, filling me up with dread;
The stockings weren’t hung and the cupboard was bare,
Tho in a fortnight, fam’ly all would be there.

As a parent, I wear lots of different hats;
Chef, chauffeur, coach, doctor, and of course, diplomat.
Yet at Christmas I don the most stressful chapeau;
It’s red, and requires I say “Ho, Ho, Ho.”

Google Home helps parents play Santa

In addition to all my normal dad duties
There’s shopping and cooking, and trimming of trees,
And wrapping and boxing and lighting and stuff;
It’s enough to make any parent cry, “Enough!”

Does my kid still believe in St. Nick? Matters not.
That to-do list is now my list, and entails quite a lot.
So how will I tackle these tasks on my own?
And how will I do them sans bitch, gripe, or moan?

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Did You Get Dad What He Really Wanted for Father’s Day?

June 18, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Did you get Dad what he really wanted for Father's Day?

I’ll bet if someone took a poll (and I did) asking dads what they really wanted for Father’s Day, there’d be a lot of answers like these:
🙂 Do something fun with my kids
🙂 Do “something fun” with my partner
🙂 Take a nap
🙂 Eat good food, drink good drink
🙂 Health and long life

There would also be a couple of “Jimi Hendrix’s Stratocaster” and “world peace” answers in the mix, but you get the gist. What fathers really and truly want is time with family, good health, and a happy (sleep-filled) existence.
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But what does Dad actually get?

Based on another poll (& personal experience) it likely included the following:
a tie 🙁 socks 🙁 underwear 🙁 golf tees 🙁 a mug 🙁 key chain 🙁 paperweight 🙁 t-shirt 🙁 an apron 🙁 a coozie 🙁 coupon book 🙁 weird crafts 🙁 a chamois 🙁 box of half-inflated balloons

Sounds like a swag bag from the lamest convention ever.

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Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway for Extraordinary Dads

June 6, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Every chance I get, I try to quash negative stereotypes associated with dads. Whether it’s helping to redefine our roles, advocating for same-sex fathers, or giving “dad bod” fashion tips, Designer Daddy is always on the job to remind the world that dads are anything but ordinary.

That applies to gift-giving, too. With Father’s Day on the horizon, I’ve put together a list of out-of-the-ordinary gifts for your extraordinary dad, dads, husband, or granddad. And Daddio, if you’re like me and (supposedly) hard to shop for, feel free to treat yourself!

Also, be sure to enter to win THIS ENTIRE GIFT LIST (valued at $600)! Fill out the contest widget at the end, then on June 14th I’ll announce the winner of…

Designer Daddy’s Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway for Extraordinary Dads!

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Father's Day Gift Guide & GIveaway - Sword & Plough Rucksack

FOR THE STYLISHLY MANLY DAD: This sturdy, all-purpose rucksack is the rare combination of manly AND stylish, and has two exterior pockets and an interior laptop sleeve. From Main St. Shop, who sell only high-quality, American-made products. Check out their site for lots more gifts for dad or mom, as well as kids and pets. BONUS: Upcycled from military surplus materials. Available from Main St. Shop. $250

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How To Make Captain America: Civil War Bento Lunches for Your Little Avengers

May 10, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Earlier this year, Babble (Disney’s parenting web site) kicked off an Instagram series called #LunchboxLove. It features fun and creative lunches from fun and creative parents. So of course I was beyond stoked when they asked me to participate — because I’m so fun and creative. 🙂

Our whole family has been looking forward to Captain America: Civil War, so I was immediately inspired to create something from Marvel’s hero-vs-hero soon-to-be blockbuster. I had initially thought I would try and represent several characters in the lunch, but that was proving to be rather complicated. So then I turned my focus on the two iconic heroes leading teams into battle. But knowing my son was a diehard fan of both Captain America AND Iron Man, how could I make him choose?

I didn’t. Avengers assemble… your ingredients!

Captain America: Civil War Bento Lunch

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

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• Bagels (I used plain, but any kind would work)
• Captain America: strawberry & blueberry fruit spread, cream cheese
• Iron Man: salami, cheddar cheese, mozzarella string cheese, condiments
• Popcorn
• Dried fruit: cranberries, blueberries, cherries
• Red & yellow snacking tomatoes
• Red & yellow bell peppers
• Ranch dressing or other veggie dip
• Cookie cutters (2″ star, 3″ circle, 4″ biscuit cutter)

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Philadelphia Family Fun: Our Five Favorites

April 23, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

If you’re looking for affordable family fun, look no further than Philadelphia. Our family got to spend four days with our up-the-coast neighbor; however, the first two were just me and my 6-year-old — a challenge I wasn’t sure I was prepared for. Under normal circumstances, my adventurously independent son is a handful. Now we were sans one dad, adding a train ride, a hotel stay, and a bunch of activities in a city I knew next to nothing about. Papa and I had spent an anniversary weekend years ago, focusing mainly on art museums and antiques. I knew my kiddo was having none of that, so we were in uncharted territory.

It’s also important to note that Jon was not as over the previous week’s stomach bug as I thought.

Known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia has plenty of affection for families and kids, too. We made it through the trip with lots of flying colors, great memories, and even learned a few things. And yes, there were lots and lots of trips to the bathroom.

Here are our five Philadelphia favorites — along with a score for the restrooms at each location, based on their ability to accommodate weary, middle-aged dads and a kindergartner whose bowels were constantly at DEFCON #2.

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5. THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE
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Philadelphia family fun — Franklin Institute

The initial draw of The Franklin Institute was the Art of the Brick exhibit — which did not disappoint. Yet on further exploration, the entire museum was amaze-balls, as the kids say. From the giant interactive heart, to the train factory, a planetarium, and pretty much any invention or sciencey thing you can think up — it had it all.

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Designer Daddy Goes to the White House

March 21, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

I was invited to the White House recently, and initially I had no idea why. That’s not to say I wasn’t thrilled to receive the invitation. I’ve lived in DC for 20 years, and while I’ve toured the West Wing and attended the Easter Egg Roll, I’d never been to an official event there. I’d never been inside – not really.

And this was about as “inside” as you could get. The invitation read: First Lady Michelle Obama invites you to a conversation about the health of our nation’s kids…

This was part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative. You know, the one trying to get kids to eat healthier and exercise more. Now obviously I want my kid (and all kids) to be healthy, but had they not read my recent post, 19 Things My Kid Has Eaten Since He Last Had a Vegetable? Had they not seen photos of me? They had clearly slacked off in their vetting process.

So there I was, the overweight dad of an under-vegetabled kid, summoned to 1600 Penn to talk about fitness and nutrition. Not one to look a gift house in the portico, I excitedly RSVPed in the affirmative — all the while questioning my inclusion in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

White House Let's Move Event

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19 Things My Kid Has Eaten Since He Last Had a Vegetable

March 1, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Things My Kid Has Eaten - SmartyPants Vitamins

As parents, one of the most common struggles is getting our kids to eat. To eat healthy. To eat what’s set before them. To eat at all.

My son’s mealtime issues are multi-tiered — a parfait of frustration, if you will. Sitting still (or down) is a frequent battle; and as he’s gotten older, he’s become more resourceful in acquiring between-meal snacks. But the biggest hurdle has been his continuously dwindling palette, particularly when it comes to vegetables. While we do sneak them in sometimes (pureed cauliflower in pasta sauce is a favorite), the fact remains he won’t knowingly put any sort of vegetable in his mouth.

But before I go on… If you’re one of those Type A parents whose kids have eaten only well-balanced, organic, locally-grown meals since birth, you can just keep on scrolling. We have plenty of inadequacy on our plate already. And besides, don’t you have some homemade kale-quinoa-almond milk popsicles to whip up?

Okay, now that they’re gone, the rest of us can relax a bit and get down to business. As an exercise in catharsis, I’ve compiled a list for you. A ridiculously long, ridiculously gross list of 19 things my kid has eaten (or chewed, or put in his mouth) since the last time he willingly ate a vegetable.

Cringe at the carnage, be strong in the solidarity, and be sure to share your own weird, stomach-churning tidbits in the comments.

1. Boogers

I figured I might as well get this one out of the way. While one of the most common and arguably most disgusting things kids ingest, I just don’t get the appeal. Maybe it’s the convenience of the short delivery route, or perhaps it’s a child’s first way of practicing recycling. Whatever the reason, I have no idea what the chemical make-up of boogers are, and I’m okay with that. But I’m pretty sure it’s not vegetables.

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