Monday, May 28, 2012

Digital Drive-In

When I was a kid, I remember waiting in the long car line to get into the Drive - In just off of Merivale Rd. in the (then) outskirts of Ottawa.  Now the scene at that intersection is long gone, and the fields have been replaced with rows and rows of new homes and busy streets.  That Drive-In nostalgia still stays with me though, and now in my mid-forties, those memories bring back the smell of popcorn and that 'open-air' experience when life was just a little bit different than it is now.  Drive - Ins are few and far between, and even though there has been a wave of Outdoor Movie showings in parking lots, run by new companies like (Outdoor Movies - ONT AND Outdoor Movies - BC), the ACTUAL drive-in atmosphere is completely different.  This is something I've tried to keep alive in my family, and fortunately, they are just as eager for the experience - it's just that there aren't very many of them around anymore.   So, when you find one - hold onto it, and go often!  The cars, the kids, the dogs, the playground in front of the screen, the smell of the outdoor food, the setting sun, the mosquitoes, and the honking in anticipation...AND, these days..the drive-in ain't your Momma's drive-in. 

The Port Elmsley Drive In was AweSomE! 

In car stereo sound and now digital picture has made the visual and sound experience rival any indoor movie theatre - the difference .. fresh air and lounging comfort!

Impossible to describe in words the incredible difference the digital picture has made, you will have to go and see it for yourself!.  It is crystal clear, (we watched the Lorax first) bright and, I might be mistaken, but the movies seem to start earlier.  At dusk (8:50pm) it was still very light in the sky, but the picture was not muted by the sunset at all.   And there is not a bad seat in the field .. all have excellent views.

We settled in, seats waaaay back, with our twizzlers and drinks, and sonney snoring in the back.  He didn't seem interested in the movies, but The Seven Year old Apprentice was wrapped in his sleeping bag and pj's, ready to honk the horn!

Back to the mosquitoes...they aren't that bad, and there are some serious remedies people have come up with to avoid the pests.  While walking around the parking lanes at intermission, I admired the ingenuity, from taped on mesh to full out mosquito nets that covered entire cars.  We didn't have anything, and we did not suffer, even with the windows partially open.  And there were many die-hards sitting out on their lawnchairs enjoying the exterior view with their pets throughout both movies that we stayed for.

Next to try : The Twilight Drive-In

Insight :: Rustic Benches Studio

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fresh Mint!

In the late days of winter and the early days of spring (let's call it St. Patrick's Day), some guests joined us for dinner.  We'll call them the Good Doctor,  the Duck Carver, Thing One and Thing Two.  While Thing One and Thing Two played with the Seven Year old Apprentice, the adults were left to converse about adult things.  Many topics were covered, including, but not most importantly, the demise of the Vancouver Canucks and the Ottawa Senators...the last two Canadian Teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs, of which we were all disappointed with.  As the sighs wound down, the Good Doctor and I got to discussing the merits of all the fresh food recipes we prepare, when we can, amidst our hectic schedules.  We all garden, preserve, bake bread and even make homemade ice cream.  STOP! What did you say?  That's right, homemade ice cream.  Thing One and Thing Two stopped playing....the Seven Year old Apprentice leaned in closer.  The Good Doctor had even brought some freshly made strawberry ice cream and, the St. Patty's day kicker, mint chocolate chip, to share....and then suddenly the children were still.  The Duck Carver continued to check the BlackBerries...I mean, blackberry, but I know one ear was listening.  I heard whispers of "let's forgo dinner, and skip right to the ..."  But I insisted we have a real dinner first.  Sure, I got the "party-pooper" looks, but who cares, I had just made FRESH PASTA in a pasta maker from scratch and Bubble Bread.  It didn't matter, the ice cream was on everyone's mind.  No sooner had the last fork fallen did not Thing Two exclaim, "can we have ice cream now?"  Seven Year old Apprentice was nodding in agreement, and Thing One asked for more bubble bread (nice kid, that one).  I whisked away the dishes, sprinted to the freezer and scooped dollops of both flavours into bowls.  Again, it was quiet.  "This is the best ice cream in the world" my Seven Year old Apprentice exclaimed.  No other moment in that evening will be remembered, only the moments with ice cream.

A week later (when the last bits of the St. Patty's Day ice cream were scooped), it was "matter-o'factly" suggested that we needed to make some ourselves.  And so I did, with a little bit of boyish help.  And with FRESH MINT from the garden.

I don't know what the Good Doctor did, but here's my recipe :

 Mint o' Chip Ice Cream
  • Use 1 tsp mint extract or chop up 6 leaves.
  • Warm up 2 cups of whipping cream with leaves or extract (10 minutes, medium, do not boil)
  • (strain leaves) mix with 1c. milk and 1c. sugar
  • stir in 2 tsps. lemon juice (I used half a lemon)
  • pour mixture into Ice Cream Machine
  • chop up chocolate chips
  • After 15 minutes in the Machine, add chopped chips
  • Takes one full hour, or until the machine stops

First Scoop went to the Seven Year old Apprentice, who could barely contain his excitement.

Thankfully, I too, got a cheer!  "NOW, THIS is the best ice cream yet!, when can we make some MORE!"

:: Insight Rustic Benches Studio

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Re*Cycle and Re*Use

Part of what I do is find materials that would possibly end up in a landfill or bonfire and reuse them in my pieces.  Old hardware on discarded furniture,pallets, deteriorating outbuildings, and scrap ends from local wood mills.  

Recently one such adventure took me deep into downtown Smiths Falls.  An area business called the Vineyard Winery, announced on their facebook page that they had shipping pallets to offer out for re-use.  So, I loaded up the Rustic Benches trailer, and off I went to scout out the potential. 

At the Chambers Street entrance, I was greeted by "Brody" the resident shnoofer, who sized me up immediately, and with that super-sensitive nose, he knew right away, that I too was a L.A.W.S. adopter and volunteer, and gave his woof of approval to shop operator, Eric.

Now, don't get me wrong, but, as I looked around the store, I realized that this recycle mission was also an excuse disguised as a reason to purchase some Spanish Cheeky Monkey wine while I was at it, but, I'm getting off topic.

Sure enough, there were five pallets, three of which had some nice clear maple and oak, perfectly aged.  They were he-avy, and thankfully, Eric, was willing to assist, while introducing me to the benefits of the six week wine kit I was planning to purchase.  Wine purchased, dog admired and pallets loaded, I was off to the studio to rip apart the pallets.  These being of the exceptionally well constructed type, it wasn't long before I got out the ole trusty circular saw to cut out the salvageable parts, and after one pallet, I already had a great haul.  I stopped at two pallets, and plan to do the third shortly.  So herein lies the interesting part of this story....Stay tuned for what beauty will be made of the pallet beasts.!

Insight :: Rustic Benches Studio