Ramen Bella

Today I took my daughters out for lunch. We stopped in at a local eatery that opened up late last year- Ramen Bella. We have been to a variety of Ramen restaurants in Seattle, Calgary and even Tokyo. Finally having a Ramen Restaurant nearby our home made me happy. So naturally we had to test it out.

They have some unique fusion styles of noodle soup. I enjoyed the Matcha Latte Ramen. Which is exactly as it sounds- and it had a side of lime.

My oldest enjoyed The Black ramen. It had a very dark shoyu tare broth seasoned with garlic flakes.

My other daughter opted for the traditional miso style broth. All of our ramen came with the same style noodles, sliced pork, and corn in the broth. We left satisfied with our meals and full bellies.

Supporting small business is always something I encourage. Trying new restaurants and sharing positive experiences is something else I like to do. If you live in the Fraser Valley- head out to Ramen Bella for a lovely meal.

Computer Animation

I’ve always loved computer animation. Back in 1982 “Tron” came out and changed the film industry. Shortly after was “The Last Starfighter” in 1984.

Then in the 1990’s, one of my favorite artsy styles of the animation came out with a mix of music and creativity- “Beyond The Mind’s Eye” showcased the future of computer animation. Shortly after- some of the scenes were used in “The Lawnmower Man”. This was a couple of years before “Toy Story”.

The late 90’s had “The Matrix” making people question reality. Side note: In 2003 I picked up a metallic holographic style poster for the sequel and had it framed.

Back in 2010, we enjoyed Flynn’s Arcade in Disneyland. A throwback of the arcade from the 80’s film “Tron” and a segue into the sequel.

The art style of computer animation has come a long way in four decades. Seeing some of the older shows proves how far film has gotten.

What are your favorite computer rendered films?

Never Too Serious

I’m a fan of living life for the sheer enjoyment of it. I have never taken myself that seriously. I don’t think anyone else takes me too seriously either. How could you?

Some days I dress based on how I feel. Be it a superhero or a goofball. I don’t think I have one set look. Jeans and a t-shirt is my comfort zone I guess. But I can still dress elegantly when I want.

When I take selfies with friends and family- I bring out some fun in their hearts as well. I love seeing people smile and express a bit more of their crazy side.

Even the few celebrities that I’ve taken pictures with have enjoyed that I don’t need to be uncomfortable or serious. The biggest constant in who I am is that I’m ever changing. Monty Python sang it best:

Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true
You’ll see it’s all a show
Keep ’em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you

Old Dog Lex

Our puppy is growing old. I love him tremendously since we first met. We adopted him back in January 2013 to be a friend to our old dog- Chuppy. Little did I know that he would also be such an integral part of our lives.

He was such a goofball back then even at age four. This picture is from the day we drove him home with us. He has always been a perfect match for our family from the first day we met him.

As all dogs go- he is quite content to be lazy. But he also tries to stay energized when he knows that there is a potential walk about to happen.

He’s still a lovable goofball. Even as he gets slower and has difficulty keeping up. He wants to be a young pup- but his age is catching up. So Happy Belated Adoption Day Lex!

Irn-Bru

My favorite drink In The World is Irn-Bru. It’s a Scottish soft drink with a unique flavor. What is the flavor of Irn-Bru? I like to describe it as an orange cream soda.

I first had some in Scotland back in 1995 when I was 19. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. My favorite part about traveling in Scotland was buying Vodka and Irn-Bru at almost every pub. I brought some bottles home to share with friends. The soda didn’t last long as everyone enjoyed it. It took me a few years to find it here in Canada.

When I did find it for sale- boy was I excited! I bought it every chance I got because of the scarcity of it. Oh, and the cost was a bit ridiculous for a soda, so I limited my purchases. Paying $10 for 2 liters is a bit much or $4 for a small bottle. The problem now is that I introduced my kids to the drink, and they love it too!

Today I found a neat looking bottle of vodka that I had to own. And what better way to enjoy the vodka with than some Irn-Bru? Tonight I’m enjoying a vodka and Irn-Bru. It brought back some great memories. Perhaps one day I’ll share with my kids some vodka and Irn-Bru. Until then, this is my treat.

Blue Monday 2020

Today is the third Monday of the year. It is also dubbed “Blue Monday”. Last year I was having a string of bad luck (read about it Here: Blue Monday). This year has not been nearly as bad- knock on wood as they say.

However I am feeling more gloomy than usual. I’m not to sure as to why. I think it’s because I haven’t been distracting myself lately from the daily routines. Perhaps it’s the weather? Maybe it’s those bills that I don’t like. Chances are it’s an accumulation of everything.

I think tonight after dinner it will be time for a nice cup of tea and a book. Try and change up the routine of passing out to some show on Netflix. Shake up the monotony of life a bit.

Do you experience Blue Monday? How do you combat Blue Monday?

Fireplace Cooking

The other day I mentioned how we love to use our Fireplace. After discovering a better way to warm our home with it, I wanted to go the next step. Let’s cook!

I’ve also always loved Cooking with Cast Iron. The versatility of the cookware is amazing. I love having the ability to move the cookware to any type of cooking area. Be it stove top, oven, BBQ, or open fire- Cast Iron is fantastic.

Last night I chose to make dinner in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven while using our fireplace. I already had a warm fire going for a couple of hours. I moved the fire and embers to one side of the fireplace and lay a cast iron griddle across the grate on the other side.

I prepared an eye of round roast with a dry rub of salt, pepper and Montreal Steak Spice. I put that into the Dutch oven and let it cook using indirect heat. I kept the fire going on the opposite side in order to keep the heat at a continuous hot temperature. I ended up cooking the roast for approximately 2 hours in order to fully cook it. Once o removed the roast from the fireplace I key it rest prior to carving it.

While I kept the fire going, my wife and daughter worked on the side dish. Roasted Root Vegetables. This included potatoes, garlic, beets, and carrots mixed with olive oil and some rosemary stems. My wife cooked them on a baking sheet at 400° for approximately 40 minutes. The vegetables turned out amazing.

The roast also turned out perfect. Inside of the dutch oven was quite a bit of liquid, so we made a gravy for dinner as well. For a first time using our fireplace to cook with, I’d say dinner was eligible for a repeat occurrence.

Have you ever cooked in a fireplace

Perler Beads

“How do you use Perler Beads?”

That was the question I asked back in August 2010 when I first discovered them at a convention. Eventually we bought a few of the crafting sets and learned how to use them. It was an easy process and soon we branched out and began to focus on some other creations.

What are Perler Beads?

Perler Beads are small plastic beads that you lay beside one another to make an image, followed by melting them. There are clear plastic plates with tiny pegs which you use for the projects. They are about 4 inch square. Using tweezers to place the beads in formation- eventually you get an image.

Most of this craft is counting and separating coloured beads. Once the image is done- you use a wax style of paper and iron gently in order to melt the beads together. We liked to melt them only slightly to keep the the image, while I have seen other melt them flat, thus “bleeding” the beads together.

Today I discovered a set of coasters I had made years ago. Perler Beads are perfect for recreating 8 Bit or 16 Bit video game characters. Artistically- I found each image needed a bit of “shading” to make the images pop. By “shading” I used a colour that was similar but a tad bit darker. Greens, blues, red, yellows, etc.. all popped around the black frame.

Our kids used the coaster video game characters as templates and made numerous magnets which they would sell at conventions in order to earn some spending cash at the shows. They also made Hello Kitty hair clips and keychain Mine Craft tools which were very popular.

My favorite that I have made to date, also happens to be the largest. We bought an oversized plate and I filled it up with beads to create a Jack Skellington for the film The Nightmare Before Christmas. This particular creation took me about 5 hours and 3500 beads to complete.

Making Perler Bead creations was a fun family hobby when the kids were younger. We still have a metric shit-ton of the beads in all sorts of colours. After discovering my original coasters- I have a feeling that the kids may want to start making them again once more.

Or I could be terribly wrong and our kids will go on to be teenagers and grow their social lives. But I still like crafting and may return to it soon.

Fireplace

I love our wood burning fireplace. It gives off a great ambiance to the home. Recently I tried to figure out– How do you build a good fire in a fireplace?

With winter in full force for the first time in years, we have been using our fireplace to heat up our home more often. Here is what I was taught to do when building a fire:

  1. Crumple some newspaper and place under the grate and on the grate.
  2. Place wood kindling lengthwise with the grate. Put on two pieces of wood on top.
  3. Put two more pieces of wood perpendicular to the first two.
  4. Ensure the damper is open.
  5. Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
  6. Light the paper under the grate.
  7. Enjoy the fire.
  • I have been lightning fires like this for decades. I found that I kept adding wood and burning faster thinking I needed flames to create heat. The other day I discovered a new technique and it really made the house much warmer.
  • Essentially you build the fire upside down compared to what I had been doing for years.
    1. Start with two or three large pieces of wood and lay them lengthwise and tight together.
      Lay three more pieces perpendicular on top of the first layer. Again making sure it is tight.
      Now add the kindling on top along with crumpled newspapers.
    1. Ensure the damper is open.
    2. Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
    3. Light the paper and kindling that was stacked on the top.
    4. Enjoy the fire as it burns from the top down making more of a hot ember base.
  • The six or so pieces of wood burn slower and last much long than the old way. Going for ambiance- I’ll still light a fire my old way. But with negative temperatures- heat is the priority.
  • Here is a video that I found that explains the new way: Perfect Fire. I’m in no way connected with the YouTube video- I just found it very helpful and wanted to share.
  • I love living in the country and the lifestyle that comes with it. But one day we will move and I’ll have to enjoy a gas fireplace instead.
  • Are you keeping warm the winter with a wood burning fireplace or do you prefer gas?
  • Snow Day. S’no Way!

    Yesterday the kids had a snow day from school. I also had a rough time trying to get out of our neighborhood to go into work, so I ended up having a snow day as well. The downside to that is I’ll be making up my work day but my kids won’t have to. So what did I do to my kids? I made them work in the snow!

    Our driveway and back deck needed shoveling. A couple of times. I also had the kids gather up firewood in order to keep the house warm. Understandably there was a fair bit of grumbling to be had. But I made them some pizza bites and hot chocolate for lunch.

    By the afternoon it had cleared up somewhat. It was now just very windy and much colder than before. Our little cul-de-sac and nearby side streets were still being ignored by the plows and salt truck. The kids don’t have a sled or any nearby hills to enjoy but they wanted to go outside.

    So they pulled out our old inflatable boat and bombed up and down our empty street in it. They got the idea from me when I was talking about a bad snow storm from back when I was about 19-20 years old. I talked about my sister’s boyfriend at the time who had a 4×4 truck and he dragged me in a sled up the street doing about 60km/h.

    Our kids did something similar, but not at the same speed. Much, much slower. Their fun only last about 30 minutes because of how cold it was. But their ingenuity and joy made me happy for them. I opted to remain warm.

    How do you spend your snow days? Do you stay warm inside or get out and have fun?