Homeplate Peanut Butter

For those of you that know me well, you are aware that the sport of baseball is a passion of mine. A few weeks ago I was surfing through Twitter and Instagram, as I do almost daily. I came across a new company named HOMEPLATE Peanut Butter. I began to read about it and realized it was headquartered in Austin Texas. I had met or come in contact with several of its founding members in my past as a business executive or at local baseball games. I am not sure exactly how Clint Greenleaf, the CEO and Co-Founder and I started talking, but the company ultimately offered samples for review. What you have to understand is I am not a fan of peanut butter, my wife is though. I agreed to “sample” the peanut butter and write a review and actually thought I would just let my wife tell me her thoughts.

 

Card From Clint with Three Homeplate Flavors

Card From Clint with Three Homeplate Flavors

 

It was probably three or four days later that I received my care package from HOMEPLATE with a nice card from Clint. “No goopy oil layer, or gritty, chalky texture, just wholesome, great tasting peanut butter.” This was the quote on their website and helped me decide to try their peanut butter. The first jar I opened was the honey flavored peanut butter and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I ate the entire jar in three or four days and remember, I really am not a peanut butter fan. What was I going to do?

 

The Ultimate Honey Flavored Homeplate Peanut Butter

The Ultimate Honey Flavored Homeplate Peanut Butter

 

Then I remembered that Clint sent around two dozen packets of the honey flavored peanut butter. I thought I was becoming addicted and had to pace myself, only allowing no more than three a day until they ran out also. My wife had opened the crunchy, as she is more inclined to consume peanut butter with nuts, rather than a creamy style as I eat. She told me the crunchy was excellent.

 

Individual Packet of Honey Flavored Homeplate Peanut Butter

Individual Packet of Honey Flavored Homeplate Peanut Butter

 

After I ran out of the honey flavored, I started in on the creamy HOMEPLATE peanut butter. It was very tasty also. I guess I have been missing out for all these years. I decided I would do a little taste testing and found several “honey flavored” peanut butters at HEB and other stores, but they couldn’t hold a candle to HOMEPLATE. You can bet I will be heading to Central Market for more HOMEPLATE honey flavored peanut butter. HEB please stock this in your other stores!

 

The Entire Collection to Review From Homeplate Peanut Butter

The Entire Collection to Review From HOMEPLATE Peanut Butter

 

One of the “Founding Partners” is Danny Peoples, played at Round Rock High School and then at The University of Texas before going Pro with the Cleveland Indians organization and played six years in their minor league system, rising to AAA for two years. Another “Founding Partner” is Brooks Kieschnick who played three years with The University of Texas and won the Dick Howser trophy in 1992 and 1993, as the best college baseball player in the nation. He then spent six years in the majors, primarily with the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers. I had the good fortune of meeting this young man through a business function. Great guy!

 

 

Three Flavors of Homeplate Peanut Butter

Three Flavors of Homeplate Peanut Butter

 

The other founding member I have come across is Josh Beckett, who played against my oldest son in high school and went on to help win World Series with the Florida Marlins in 2003 and then with the Boston Red Sox in 2006. He was playing right field for Spring High School in the tournament with my son’s Westwood High School team the first time I saw his arm. He caught a fly ball up against the wall and took one step and threw a line drive about 385 feet with one bounce against the fastest base runner on our team going from second to third base. The ball and the runner arrived at the same time. I was amazed.  When I watched him pitch the next day there were over 30 scouts with radar guns. His high heat was coming in around 97 miles per hour. It was unbelievable and I knew he would go professional quickly.

 

 

My overall opinion of this peanut butter with a great name, is it is a Grand Slam! I never thought I would ever like any type of peanut butter, much less eat a whole jar in just a few days. I am definitely hooked. If you are a peanut butter aficionado then by all means give HOMEPLATE a try. I guarantee you will fall head over hills.

Holiday in Lanzarote: Top 5 active pursuits

Regarded by many as a typical beach holiday destination, there is more than meets the eye to Lanzarote. Yes there are spectacular crescent shaped beaches featuring beautiful turquoise water that sweeps over enticing white sand, but simply soaking up the sun and ignoring the plethora of pastimes on offer is a big mistake. So with this in mind, here are some active pursuits you should definitely consider on a trip to this particular Canary Island. Little wonder then that flights to Lanzarote are in high demand.

 

1.Explore Timanfaya National Park – The landscape here might look like another world or planet, but this is what the Earth looked like in prehistoric times. The Timanfaya National Park features 25 volcanoes packed into just 50 square kilometres, with each and every one bound to take your breath away. A coach trip around the park is included in the entry fee, but the free guided walk service should not be missed.

 

2.Try scuba diving or snorkelling – Beneath the water of Lanzarote’s east coast are an abundance of fascinating sights, from coral reef and caves to shipwrecks and marine life. While this is an exhilarating playground for any experienced diver, novices looking to learn the ropes can take advantage of affordable introductory sessions from numerous operators on the island. But if you don’t fancy plunging the depths of the ocean, there is still plenty to see with just a snorkel.

 

Snorkeling, Lanzarote

Snorkeling, Lanzarote 

 

3.Go fishing – Standing on the shore alongside a local while casting out your line in the hope of catching a Mediterranean Snapper, Yellowmouth Barracuda or Parrot fish is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. However, if you want a bit more excitement and exhilaration, go on a big game fishing excursion. You’ll be competing with others on the boat to catch the biggest fish of the day, which can include tuna, marlin and sharks.

 

Gone Fishing in Lanzarote

Gone Fishing in Lanzarote 

 

4.Trek in the mountains – Don’t be fooled by Lanzarote’s volcanic origins, as there is still a lot of flora and fauna to see on the island. Sign up to a trekking tour of the Apache Mountains, one of the oldest parts of Lanzarote, and discover the natural delights of this protected area. Alternatively, visit Las Peñas del Chache, the island’s highest point.

 

5.Give surfing a go – Described by some as the Hawaii of Europe, the Canary Islands are blessed with shallow lava reefs and impressive waves, which make surfing a favoured activity. If you’re a beginner, head to Famara on the north coast, as there is plenty of space to surf without getting in the way of more experienced locals. Those struggling to stand up on a board might want to give windsurfing a try instead.

 

Throw in the tasty Mediterranean fare, year round sunshine and friendly locals, and you can see how Lanzarote caters for your getaway needs.

 

 

Images by Sophie Nicol and Son of Groucho, used under the Creative Commons license.

In collaboration with Thomson flights

 

 

The Times They Are A Changing!!!

I know most US citizens will think this is outright sacrilege. For a long period of my life I have been mystified by the inability of most people, who “follow” the game of baseball, watch the game and attend a “boring” sport that moves way too slow for the majority of the population. What really is transpiring is that these individuals are not really familiar with the nuances of this very intellectual sport.

 

1994 College Baseball Regionals Hat

1994 College Baseball Regional’s Hat

 

Every pitch has thought and motion involving the players, the coaches and the umpires to predetermine their reaction and every possible result. Obviously this cannot be completely mastered by any means. The fielders have to assess what their action will be if the batter manages to hit the ball in their direction and if there are base runners present what is the most advantageous plan to administer. Of course if there is a base runner, the fielder has to evaluate the expected speed of the runner, whether he will have an advantage as a result of the pitchers windup or flaw in delivery and whether it is better to cut off the lead runner or take the easier out at first.

 

 

This decision is predicated on the number of outs and if the fielder doesn’t remember the correct number of outs he may cause a mistake that could cost his team the game. Hidden from this explanation is what pitch is being thrown by his pitcher, as he has a choice of fastballs, curves, split-fingered fastballs and off speed pitches called change ups, which if thrown appropriately can make the hitter swing way before the ball crosses the plate. All pitches react different and the when the batter hits each of these various pitches a distinct result occurs with each pitch.

 

Frank Robinson and Ted Williams 1958 Baseball All-Star Cards

Frank Robinson and Ted Williams 1958 Baseball All-Star Cards

 

The batter has to evaluate the pitch count and whether he has an advantage over the pitcher with the odds weighing in against the batter or in favor of the batter. This can determine the specific pitch coming in. Obviously if the batter has a 3 (balls)-0 (strikes) count, he is more than likely getting a fastball knee high on the outside corner of the strike zone. If the batter has a disadvantage with a 0 (balls)-2 (strikes), the batter can expect an off speed pitch that may or may not come close to the strike zone.

 

 

Pitches are called by the pitching coach on the bench usually and relayed to the catcher between pitches, with a mixed bag of signs designed to throw the opposing team off and not allow them to determine exactly what pitch the pitcher is tossing. At times if the opposing team has a former teammate they allow the catcher to make the pitch call and in some cases the catcher has sufficient experience working with the pitchers to know what pitches to throw when and what the batter tends to not be able to hit.

 

 

1996 US Olympic Baseball Hat

1996 US Olympic Baseball Hat

 

The pitcher has to ensure he reads the sign translated from the catcher correctly and knows what pitch is being called. During games the signs can be changed every inning and sometimes multiple times in an inning, if they think the opposing team is stealing their signs. After the pitcher digests the sign he has to ensure his grip of the baseball is appropriate for the pitch being thrown or the result will not be what was intended. If he has base runners in position he has to make sure that the runner does not gain an advantage and steal the base he is headed for, as a result of the pitcher not giving the runner the pertinent scrutiny.

 

 

Series of Babe Ruth Cards Published in 1961

Series of Babe Ruth Cards Published in 1961

 

The coaches are mandated with fielder placement and understanding the ability of each opposing hitter and where the odds indicate he will hit the ball, given the prior knowledge of what pitch is being thrown. They are tasked with creating a lineup that puts the best available players on the field and in the specific batting order that will achieve more positive results. They actively discuss positioning, the opposing batters ability and historical data of their fielders and the hitter. One can get completely overwhelmed with the quantity of statistics available these days and has to control this aspect of the game. These days it has increased at such a level, that it is impossible to comprehend the numerical dossier collected. The team’s manager and coaches have to decide what is more important on each pitch

 

Various 1959 Baseball Cards

Various 1959 Baseball Cards

 

The Umpires are charged with making sure that on every pitch they are in the correct position for expected plays, that both teams adhere to the rules and that all players have a safe playing environment. They are laden with interpreting all debated calls according to the rule book and ensuring that above all the games are carried out in a fair and honest manner.

 

 

Don Drysdale Who Has Perished and Was One of The Hardest Throwing Right Hand Pitchers I have Ever Seen 1961 Card

Don Drysdale Who Has Perished and Was One of The Hardest Throwing Right Hand Pitchers I have Ever Seen 1961 Card

 

Over the last few years I have gained a new and expanded appreciation of what the world calls football. I have followed the FIFA World Cup 2014 over the last two weeks and actually thought despite the dramatic fish flops, jersey pulls and shin kicks, a great deal of the background intellect involved in baseball is going on in football or what we call soccer in the US. There is a great deal of strategy and foresight involved. A great deal more than what I think the average US fan realizes. It was a very eye opening experience when I realized this had actually transpired, as I became a stronger fan of the sport that the majority of the world classifies as the number one athletic event outside the Olympics.

 

 

Lou Gehrig Replica Card of 1961, The Iron Man Who Played 2,632 Games in a Row Without Without Being Taken Out

Lou Gehrig Replica Card of 1961, The Iron Man Who Played 2,632 Games in a Row Without Without Being Taken Out

 

 

Regardless of your beliefs and whether you agree you have to admit once every four years the World comes to a standstill and all eyes are on this magnificent athletic episode. So much so, that I believe I am becoming more attracted to the World Cup process than I am to the Super Bowl anymore. Let’s face it more people watch the commercials of this American sporting game, than the actual sporting event. If they are not watching the commercials they are imbibing and partying like crazy. Hence my opening statement of outright sacrilege. We are moving up in ability and succeeded in making it farther than most people thought in this World Cup. Who knows one day before I perish we might actually field a team capable of taking the World Cup home. Wouldn’t that be cool! Congratulations Germany on winning a hard fought and determined match!

 

I have taken the liberty of placing photos of two of my favorite baseball hats in this blog, along with a few baseball cards I owned at one time.

 

 

Photo of The Day #40

Never Too Young

Never Too Young

 

 

One afternoon, while I was street walking in Cuenca, I saw this young girl and from the angle it appeared she was getting ready to hop on the motorcycle and go for a ride. I guess one is never too young to dream, imagine and travel! So go for it. Get up off your rear end. Dream, Imagine and then by gosh,  just go “Do It”!

Is It Possible to Eat Ice Cream and Lose Weight

One of my passions in life is very unhealthy, completely degenerate in nature, filled to the brim with sugar, butter fat and other high caloric ingredients, but I can’t help myself. I am addicted to it. I love sampling the many flavors and I love the various methods of serving it. At home in the US, I cannot purchase it without gobbling down approximately what is considered three or four servings (at least).

 

I usually make do and hold my urge to feast on the entire package and devour it in one sitting. I am so unlucky, because in Texas we have what is arguably the best in the world for sale in every grocery, convenience, drug store, mass merchandisers and warehouse stand alone membership venues like Costco and Sam’s Club. It is frankly a losing battle and if one does not have a strong disposition you will suffer the consequences. That is simply the enormous expansion of your waistline or what becomes a middle tire effect.

 

Mixx Heladeria with 80 Flavors with Jim and Connie Joliff

Mixx Heladeria with 80 Flavors with Jim and Connie Joliff

Obviously by now you have deduced I am speaking of ice cream. It is so hard to shop at my local HEB and pick and choose from all the wonderful fruits and vegetables offered and try to stroll by the Blue Bell ice cream section, without grabbing two or three half gallons. Yes I said half gallons. In the old days when all three sons were living at home and playing athletics, it was nothing to go through five or six half gallons a week.

 

Growing young men need their calories which burn off in the Texas heat, of one hundred degrees plus at their particular sport’s practices. Of course Mom and Dad needed excessive butter fat to enable us to do all that screaming for our sons prowess or at the officials, which usually dominated the yelling. Somehow our referees, umpires, etc were always below standard, or at least that was the case when we were losing!

 

Mixx Flavor Creations

Mixx Flavor Creations

 

My weight would fluctuate enormously with the advent of late spring and the high temperatures. How else would one cool down? Thank God I realized by the end of summer that I had to cease my ingestion of massive quantities of ice cream and behave normally again as the cold seasons arrived, or else I would have looked like a Goodyear blimp.

 

As I aged each year it became harder and harder to shed the excess weight, punctuated with a little syrup and more than likely whipped cream. Kim gravitated toward flavors like Butter Pecan, Vanilla and and anything with Carmel flavor. I was infatuated with Banana Pudding, all things Chocolate and many of the seasonal short term offerings.

 

Mixx Flavor Options

Mixx Flavor Options

 

Over the years we cut back and started only eating ice cream on holidays and other celebrations. I pined away my fifties knowing I could not continue this charade. Then it happened. I visited Ecuador. A country full of organic fruits, vegetables and untainted food supplies like we have in the US, with all the GMO’s and preservatives.

 

I quickly noticed that there was a Heladeria on almost every block. Most were the run of the mill shops and served a gelato style ice cream with basic flavors and all serve a soft style, as rule. We talked with a few local Ex-Pats and they recommended Mixx Heladeria run by a Canadian genius.

 

Mixx Choice of Serving Methods

Mixx Choice of Serving Methods

 

This place has all types of flavors, including Mojito, Red Bull, Amaretto, and tons of fruit and tasty creations. The sign on the front says 80 Sabores. I am guessing that is correct. Once you walk in, it takes a while to decide which flavors you want to try. There are so many that are appealing. You also then get to decide what vessel you want the ice cream served in, a waffle cone, a waffle dish, or a normal cone.

 

Then, you get to decide if you want it dipped in chocolate! My word it is tasty. I have attached several photos for your pleasure and I am sure in a few days when I am back to Cuenca, I will head to Mixx and start testing the various new flavors. Somehow with all the walking in Cuenca I manage to eat ice cream and lose weight at the same time. Now that is my kind of experience!

Mixx Flavor Creations

Mixx Flavor Creations

 

The End is Near!

Approximately 57 years ago I walked into the small store, on the square in Lampasas Texas, next to the newspaper where my father worked and bought my first package of baseball cards for a nickel. Inside were several cards and a large massive square of chewing gum. I couldn’t wait to tear the package open and see which player’s cards I received with my purchase. This began an insane hoarding or collecting phase in my life and every red cent I accumulated through helping my father, mowing lawns or throwing paper routes was dedicated to increasing my collection of baseball cards. I was hooked!

 

1909 “Howell” Tobacco Card St. Louis Browns and a 1930 Louis Peo Chiozza New York Giants Play Ball card

 

1951 Berk Ross baseball cards on bottom. Left to right is Tommy Heinrich, Stan Musial and  Yogi Berra.

1951 Berk Ross baseball cards on bottom. Left to right is Tommy Heinrich, Stan Musial and Yogi Berra.

 

All through elementary my collection grew and I kept them secure in a couple of shoe boxes. No one was allowed to touch the cards and I was a fan of the New York Yankees who had many Mantle, Ford, Berra, Maris and other players during the 1950’s. The Yankees were the team in Professional baseball for about a decade or so. I have six cousins and three are female  from my aunt’s family and three are boys from one of my uncle’s family.

 

1952 Topps "Look 'n See" Babe Ruth baseball card.

1952 Topps “Look ‘n See” Babe Ruth baseball card.

 

One day I come home after school and my boy cousins are in my bedroom with my baseball cards all over the floor. Not only did they pull them out, they had a pair of scissors and were happily cutting all my cards in half, that I had saved for about six years. They managed to destroy about half of my collection. I went absolutely crazy and asked my Mother why she allowed them to do this. My uncle’s wife and my Mom just stood there sheepishly knowing that they had not been paying enough attention and this had broken my heart.

 

1952 Topps Richie Ashburn baseball card

1952 Topps Richie Ashburn baseball card

 

Alas after the incident, which I am sure has left scars and caused severe anxiety until this day, I regained my composure and started collecting again, salvaging what was left of the cards. I tell my cousins they owe many thousands of dollars when I see them and remind them of this incident. I seriously don’t think they came away with any regret or remorse. To this day I harbor ill will about this insane experience.

 

1952 Red Man Chewing Tobacco Leo Durocher baseball card (Manager of the New York Giants)

1952 Red Man Chewing Tobacco Leo Durocher baseball card (Manager of the New York Giants)

 

I became interested in sports and girls and boxed my cards up and put them away. After Kim and I got married and had our three sons I started back up with the collecting and it became an major obsession again over time. I made sure to purchase complete sets for the specific year each son was born. I literally have boxes and boxes of baseball cards and do not know exactly what all cards I own. I asked our three sons recently if they wanted the collection, which at one time had considerable value.

 

1955 Bowman "TV" baseball cards

1955 Bowman “TV” baseball cards

 

The response was an overwhelming no and I was left to jettison the cards from my life, one way or another. So one day while surfing Twitter I ran across a fellow baseball card advocate and inquired if my collection would interest him. He replied in the affirmative and now four days from now he is coming to my home to evaluate whether he wants my collection of many thousands of cards, some over 100 years old. I am trying hard not to be emotional about this transaction, but it is impossible, given my eternal love for baseball and the memories all the cards bring.

 

1958 Topps All-Star baseball card series. One of my all time favorite cards and Ted Williams to boot!

1958 Topps All-Star baseball card series. One of my all time favorite cards and Ted Williams to boot!

 

My only hope is, that if we agree on compensation, is that he take care of this part of my life and protect them as I have done. He is young and that makes me feel good, as a large contingent of the younger generations have no appreciation for collectibles and I feel assured he will treat them with the respect they deserve. I know this sounds strange to a great portion of my followers and some have no understanding of how traumatic this can be. I will simply state it can be compared in my book, to having to put a long term pet down, when they become sick. May all my heroes forgive me!

 

1962 Post Cereal baseball cards

1962 Post Cereal baseball cards

 

Golden Press Baseball Card series

Golden Press Baseball Card series

 

1961 Topps Willie Mays. One of the top three players ever!

1961 Topps Willie Mays. One of the top three players ever!

 

Old Jimmie Foxx baseball card who's origin no one can identify. Oh yeah he is my cousin!

Old Jimmie Foxx baseball card who’s origin no one can identify. Oh yeah he is my cousin!

 

 

 

Living in the Land of the Free

I promised myself I would take the day off and not drop a post on everyone today. I am sure all of you are getting ready to celebrate with family and friends and planning to go watch an “Epic” fireworks show at a local park. When our sons, now all young men, were younger we would make a big deal and BBQ all day, pig out over my Mother’s potato and pea salad recipes. It really didn’t matter what type of meat I was cooking as long as Kim made deviled eggs and I made the salads. It was a Texas tradition.

 

Guess Who Can't Touch Bottom

Guess Who Can’t Touch Bottom

 

The boys would always find an easy way to amuse themselves and play games in the yard, which they created and developed entirely from some TV show like Ninja Turtles or something of that nature. I was still fairly active and would join in sometimes between cooking and making the salads. Of course the occasional beer would be ingested and Kim would have her glass of wine so the eggs and other items she made would come out just right.

 

Credit

Credit

 

When all was done we would sit around a table, eat until we couldn’t walk and finish with ice cream and watermelon. Kim loves watermelon. I hated the next portion and that was cleaning up the mess we made preparing all this very unhealthy food. It seemed to always take longer to clean than to cook. By this time it was getting near dark and we would pile into the van, yes we had a van for many years just to haul the boys and their stuff to sporting events, to school and to activities. It was nice to have that many seats as the boys didn’t have to touch each other. Touching each other always led to arguments for some reason.

 

Most of the fireworks programs that we would view lasted a fairly long time and we would bring folding lawn chairs, another great reason to have a van. Through baseball we became friends with Mary and Larry Heffernan and started a tradition of attending the parties they threw on the 4th. After all the eating and cleaning it was the best scenario for watching the fireworks. All we had to do was walk right out into their Cul de Sac and plop our folding chairs down. The fireworks went off behind their house at a local park and these seats were the best in town!

 

Credit

Credit

 

Now we have a son in Japan, one in the Dallas area and one still here in Austin. We are going to his apartment and having a mini 4th BBQ. I hope we don’t embarrass him! I miss the old days and having all our family so close! Life has a way of hitting you right between the eyes at times and for some reason it did that today. I sincerely hope all you young parents “relish” (sorry I couldn’t help myself) the time you have now with your children and spend it wisely. Before you know it your children will be grown and out the door. Be careful with the fireworks and try to eat healthy! Happy 4th of July for all those friends “Living in the Land of the Free”!

 

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Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas



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