Last weekend I had to go to a friends wedding and help set up the venue in the park. Unfortunately the caterers had pulled out only a few days before so my friend was busy doing all the cooking and that left me and a few friends to make the park look nice for the big afternoon. The bride was 21 and I have known her since she was a baby so it was a special day for me as well. There was a big tree in the centre of the park and we hung it with streamers and ribbons of lots of colours from the branches hanging down to just above the ground where we hoped the children wouldn’t pull on them and tear them loose. We set out three or four tables under the big tree which was where the ceremony was going to be held and then a small reception before going back to the main reception in the new hall across the road. We put white tablecloths on the tables and floral centrepieces and I even found a wonderful old candelabra to put beside the wedding register to make it look especially stylish and classy. Unfortunately earlier in the day there had been a lot of wind and the streamers were all tangled up in the branches so I spent a good hour up there trying to make them all untangled.. My wife thought that was hilarious and took pictures of me dangling from the branches while at the same time warning me that if I fell and broke my leg that she wasn’t going to take care of me. I swore lots as I climbed out the tree and I think I tore a hole in my pants on the roots on the way down. Even with these disasters as usual God blessed the ceremony and everything turned out just fine. The young bride looked radiant and her husband looked nervous but happy during the ceremony and I thought they would probably be okay.
This year I decided to do something different for myself and New Year, I decided to host a dinner party for all my friends that was classy and stylish for a change. My wife was away visiting her friends down south and I didn’t feel like going to be yet another boring new years eve party where everybody just got drunk and make fools of themselves. So I decided to have a dinner party that was also going to double as a New Year’s Eve party. I even roped my kids into helping prepare the food because I know I’m not a very good cook and I didn’t want to poison any of the guests. The first problem was what to cook, I’m pretty good at the grill but useless at anything that requires slow cooking or oven cooking. That being said I decided to make special steaks and lobsters on the grill with vegetables baked on the side. For dessert I decided on my specialty key lime pie which everybody knows is the best in town. The kids were set the task of setting up the dining room table to make it look like a restaurant, which took some doing considering we normally use that room for homework and office bills. I think it took them more than half an hour to just clean the room up let alone set it up for the evening. On the day I made the kids put on aprons and cover vegetables as well as Shell the lobster so that it was all ready and preprepared for me in the fridge. When the guests arrived all I had to do was take things out of the fridge put and then put them on the grill and nice plates to make people feel happy. It was one of the best New Year’s Eve parties I have ever been to When my wife came home a few days later she was surprised to see so many thank you is in the mail from guests who had been to the evening.
The other night a friend of mine from my college days came back into town and we decided to head out somewhere a grab a bite. We drove into the south side of the city and started walking around the place looking for something interesting. We came across this food van event, a sort of festival for all the travelling food trucks in the city. They all gathered in this great big vacant lot and served their quick food. They really spent quite a lot of money on it as well, along with the various food vans (about 20 in total) there were also a few smaller stalls selling little trinkets, I saw one of the places was selling a very interesting looking dream catcher. We started doing laps around the lot, struggling to decide what to get, we eventually both settled on some sort of South American burger. This smoked and shredded meat on a really crunchy bun with coleslaw, it was really great, could’ve done with a bit of sauce though. The great thing about food van food is that it comes in small portions, so we starting the laps again searching for something a bit different and we came across this really interesting sandwich place. The bread they use is very similar to the steamed buns you find at dumpling shops except the bread was moulded into a bun shape. We both had a pulled pork, peppermint and horse radish sandwich from there and it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. After we finished eating we decided to grab a beer from the two brothers who were selling their home brewed stout. I’m not a huge fan of stout at the best of times but this was actually quite ok, it was very strong though, almost 12% alcohol volume in one glass. In any case, really great night out with a mate, food vans will be a tradition from now on.
I heard about some cool markets that happen weekly down by the sea a few minutes from my house so I decided to head down there yesterday. Probably one of the best Sunday mornings I’ve had in ages. My brother, his fiance and I were there until almost midday, checking out all the different food stalls and the wacky things that the vendors were selling. When we first got there, there was a street-long line leading to a very small lemonade stand. Thinking it must be brilliant if this many people wanted some, my brother and his partner stood in line while went off to get us some food. I noticed a stall selling what looked like (at first glance) pizza without the melted cheese, when I investigated further it turned out to be Turkish deep fried bread called Langos (pronounced LANG-GOSH). They were big too, so I bought 2 two of those and started the walk back to the lemonade stand. While I was gone my brother’s fiance had gone off to another stall where (as she told me later) they sold these very beautiful wind chimes. After a total of 25 minutes in the lemonade line we finally sat down to trie the strange combination of deep fried bread and squeezed lemons. I really enjoyed both (especially the lemonade) but my brather was not keen on the Langos, he said it tasted like stale corn. After we ate we walked over to the stage area of the markets where there was a group of musicians preparing to play, they seemed to be beginners and took quite a long time to get all their sound equipment working properly but after they got going, they had a great sound. So for the rest of the morning we just sat on the grass listening to the young band (I think they were called The Cocoa Seeds) and my brother bough us a few beers later in the day to cap it all off. Brilliant morning down there at the markets.
So we just began construction of a pool at our house. It’s much bigger than expected, it’s going to be around 10 metres when it is finished. I’m really looking forward to being able to swim any time of the day or night, going to the local gym and having to share lanes with people is a real annoyance. In the process of clearing the space for the pool we’ve had to knock down half of our shed, which was in desperate need of a clean out any way. There was years worth of stuff in there that no one was touching and we finally got rid of most of it. We’ve realised now that we don’t really need a full sized connected shed like we had, so we’re planning on building an external granny flat of sorts where it was. The idea is that it can act as a bedroom upstairs for my brother and an office downstairs for him too. We’re all very keen on designing the place and I’m especially interested in furnishing it. I’ve been really into modernist/minimalist furniture for a long time and now we’ve got a blank slate to really create something cool. I’ve been looking at picking up an Eames chair, one of the big leather and wood ones that reclines and comes with an ottoman. They’re really gorgeous pieces of design and you can find pretty faithfully constructed replicas here for under $500. I can’t get enough of this type of design, I think I’m a modernist through and through. Hopefully my brother doesn’t mind me commandeering his office to sit in the chair I’ve bought (or the desk or the lamps or the buffets which I will inevitably buy as well). Pretty excited about both of these projects, it’s already feeling like a new house around here. I’ll leave you with a video of the construction of an Eames chair, it’s a beautiful thing.
The other night a mate of mine asked me if I wanted to check out this new bar that had just opened up in my city, Johnnys house of jazz or something like that. We met up outside the train station (at rush hour, not a great choice) and went for a walk around our little metropolis. In the main sorta town square there was a bunch of Catholic salesman, they were preaching and selling crucifixes and rosary beads . We listened to these guys for a little while, their passion for their cause was pretty entertaining, then we kept moving towards the bar my friend had recommended. The exterior was so innocuous and difficult to locate we almost gave up, but eventually we found the small neon sign displaying the word “BAR” and we stepped down the industrial stairs into the venue. The place was gorgeous, a really long room with fairy lights over every inch of the ceiling and gaslight style tables scattered down the length of the establishment. We sat down at one of the tables that looked like something out of a Dylan documentary and checked out the menu. I’m not much of a drinker, but apparently (according to my mate) the place had really hard to find craft beers, which he was very happy about. The menus focused on Mexican food for some reason, which didn’t seem to fit the quite East Coast, USA feeling of the decor. We both ordered burritos and sat back to watch the nights musical performances. They artists were very good; a duo playing mandolin and cello singing various covers of popular retro songs and the other bloke just had himself and a ukulele, he sung mostly his own songs, but they were very well written. We left Johnnys at 1ish and began the walk uphill to the train station (not fun at that late an hour). Then we got on our trains and headed home.
So what goes into a great cinema room, is it the size of the screen ? Is it the sound system ? Is it the chairs you sit in to make it such a great experience ? Well in truth its all of those things in complete harmony which creates a cinema room you just don’t want to leave. Now that its time to redesign my own cinema room I’m starting to imagine how all of these things might come together, but first I need to assure you all that we certainly do need this room because for better or for worse my family just love their movies. Ever since they were little my kids would scuttle into the rumpus room and build a fortress of blankets and pillows and watch all the kids tv show and especially tlots of animated films. Alladin, land before time, Mary Poppins, Dragon ball Z and a hundred others. So as they got older their love for movies grew ( although I can take some credit for nurturing this idea) and they started watching lots of the classics as well as almost anything modern with a good story and lots of action. My daughter gravitates to musicals and romcoms while my son loves indie films and anything with Tom Cruise in it (no accounting for taste) as well as foreign films. So our need for a good cinema room is probably greater than our need for a kitchen, and given how little we cook this is actually literally true. At the moment we have a 50 inch plasma screen TV with a Yamaha sound system which barely gets going because the room isn’t that big. What we really need is a bigger screen, I’m thinking one of those 70 inch bad boys, flat screen, LED, surround sound and internet connected. Maybe one like this.
All I know is that if I get a scrren like this I will never leave my cinema room and all the sons friends will take up permanent residence. Now I just need the $8000 it costs to magically appear and it will be in for Christmas.