Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Wall

We are constantly improving our 1970's era house. I'm starting to think that we've done all of the easy projects. Apparently we now have to remove walls to update things, so that's what we did. Our house is fairly open but we thought removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room would open things up and give us some extra counter space. Here is a series of pics to document the project.
 The kitchen side of the wall pre-demolition.
 I got some help from my friend Joey because the wall is load bearing and I didn't want to mess up the support.
 The support beam is in and the arch is cut and installed.
 Now it is drywall time. I hate drywall!
 So much fun!
 Starting the shelving unit that will fit under the counter on the kitchen side.
 Starting the bricks. They are real bricks that have been cut to about 1/2" thick.
 Shelving unit is finished and installed.
 Bricks are finished.
Counter top has been fabricated and installed. All done!

Done!!

My present for finishing the project. Yum!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tu ne cede malis

Ben and I got to meet in Phoenix last Saturday for a Mises Circle. Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul were among the speakers. It was quite good and the experience of being surrounded by other liberty minded folks was fun and odd. It was good to see Dr. Paul as he will likely stop traveling to do these types of things soon due to his age. He looked great though.

It was great to see Ben too. I do miss the days of all of us (you know who you are) living in the same place.

For Liberty!


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Leg 2...Porto

I love Portugal. It is beautiful, friendly and cheap. We visited Porto after Champagne, taking a late night Ryan Air flight with a band of gypsies. We arrived at our apartment around 12:30am and were very fortunately and kindly met by the property manager. The apartment was small but clean and nice. The bed might be the worst I've ever "slept" on. I'm not sure I would have slept had walking through the steep hills of the city not completely exhausted me.

The city is beautiful. Typical Portuguese tile and architecture fill the streets with photo opportunities. I probably had my poorest navigational outing unfortunately. None of the streets are straight and they tend to change names at every bend. Couple that with the hills and tall buildings that obstruct the view of landmarks and a poor map and you have a recipe for getting lost. Fortunately we never got too lost and once we got in sight of the Douro River we were grand.

We toured 3 port houses. Taylor Fladgate and Grahams were done without reservations and therefore without the Total Wine treatment or discount. The tours and tastings were still enjoyable (despite having to put up with other people!). The Fladgate property was the most beautiful. It had a large entry patio covered with grapevines and a restaurant with a patio overlooking the Douro. Grahams had the nicest barrel and tasting room. Grahams is still connected to the English royal family and makes Colheita port (single vintage tawny) coinciding with British monarchical events and then sends some to the family for anniversaries of those events. Offley was the best tour because Dana had scheduled a tour and it was private with the wine educator for the company that owns the port house (and many other houses) who also used to be a master blender for Cockburn's. He was fascinating and made the process of port making and the varying influences (including the American wine critics) on the current styles relevant and interesting. The tasting had 7 ports, 2 of which might be the best wines I've ever tasted. The 30yr tawny (which we can't find for sale in the U.S.) and the 2011 Vintage Port. Completely different, totally amazing. We were told that 2011 in Port might be the best vintage of the last century (1963 being the only rival), so if you're into Vintage port stock up!

We also did a little cruse up the Douro seeing the multiple bridges connecting Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia and steep banks on both sides of the river. It was interesting how many of the properties along the river were in disrepair. The view is so beautiful it seems like prime territory for an investor. We enjoyed everything (except the hills on foot). The food and people, the wine of course. Next time we're going to go up the Douro to see where the vineyards are planted and the wine made. Exciting times!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Leg 1...Champagne

We have just returned from our 2 week tour of Europe. We visited Ireland, France, Portugal, Italy and Northern Ireland. Fewer stops would have probably made the trip more manageable but all together we had an amazing time. I'll be posting each location seperately with the exception of Ireland and Norther Ireland as we didn't take a whole lot of pictures there.

This first post is the Champagne region of France. We visited 2 cities and a number of little villages. We stayed in the larger city Reims and spent an afternoon in Epernay. If (more likely when) we return I think we would opt for staying near Epernay as it is more charming, smaller and picturesc with the Avenue de Champagne, a street lined with Champagne houses.

This trip was all about the wine. We had 3 scheduled visits to Champagne houses and in retrospect we wish we had done more. We visited Mailly Gran Cru, Nicolas Feuillatte, and Pertios-Moriset. It was quite a range of production with Feuillatte the largest producing 100million bottles/year (that's not a typo), Mailly ~500,000 and Pertios producing 80,000. We didn't know what to expect booking tours with "Total Wine" attached to it and let me say that we were not disappointed.

Our first stop was Mailly which is now and has always been owned by 25 families. They hand dug cellars out of the chalk soil back in the 20's and are only house that only produces Gran Cru Champagne. Xavier was our host and was amazing. We saw the entire facility (6 floors covering about 25 meters deep). We had a tasting of 8 Champagnes and were given a gift of one of their finest (and my favorites) when we left.

Next we went to Nicolas Feuillatte. Because they are not a "winery partner" with TW we had a lower expectation for this visit, however again we had a comprehensive private tour followed by a 6 wine tasting and a gift. The most impressive fact is the high quality of wine produced in this facility with such massive output. All the wines were delicious.

Finally we visited Pertios-Moriset. Our host, Vincent, is the co-owner (with his wife), winemaker and owns some of the vineyards. His winery is literally in a neighborhood where he makes his wine in an oversized 2 floor garage. He is very enthusiastic and thoughtful character sharing some of his ideas for marketing his product. We had a very nice tasting after the tour and again a wonderful gift, a 2008 Blanc de blanc.

We spent some time in Reims. They have a very ornate cathedral, some restaurant and shopping areas. In Epernay we ogled at the Champagne houses and found a post office to mail 2 of our wines back home. Apparently you can't ship alcohol to the U.S. (legally) but our French post man was very helpful and eventually we got it sent off (it even arrived!!). This first leg of the trip was awesome and energized us for the Ryan Air flight to Portugal...which we would need.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Tyler Lyle

On Friday we hosted the long awaited gig. It was a very long day which started at 6am to begin heating the oven for our bread bake and getting things set up.



After getting cleaned up it was off to the airport to pick Tyler up. On the way back we picked up some Guero Canelo to blow his mind with our local cuisine. Tyler did a few sound checks before the show.
Dana made up the wine list and we were ready for action! Tyler played for almost 2 hrs with about 10min worth of breaks. The time just flew by. I think we could have all listened to him for the whole night. He handled the crowd of people beautifully, being friendly and interested in everyone he spoke to. We had about 40 people in all. With all the stress and expense that went into pulling this off I was worried that we'd be disappointed. I can firmly say that the whole evening surpassed my hopes.


Following the concert a few guys stuck around and we had an informal whiskey tasting. Tyler even brought 5 different bourbons and opened his whole stash for us to partake in. The evening concluded with some Montecristo #2s.



The next morning we sent Tyler off to California with some Los Betos breakfast burritos. This was one of the best nights I can remember.





Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Library

We have been busy with some house projects that have been on the list of "to dos" for a while now. The lower living area has been converted into the library complete with ceiling beams.

The beams went in first. They are hollow 4x8" boxes secured to the strips on the ceiling.


Following the beam install we made a second built-in bookshelf.
The finished product! Just waiting for more books!









Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bandito

Our vacation to San Diego was actually dual purpose. Obviously one was to have some time away, the other was this little guy. The closest Ragdoll breeder is there. As my friend Derel (a dog lover) said, "he is stupid cute." He's growing like a weed, driving our other cat Indi crazy with incessant attacks and playing and as far as I can tell, isn't afraid of anything (I vacuumed him the other day). He is going to be giant judging by his paws and tail. Hopefully he doesn't get there too fast.




San Diego

A couple of weeks ago we had a long weekend in San Diego. It was the first real vacation we've taken in several years. Kinda sad I know. We stayed in a really cool Victorian boutique hotel, visited the Stone Brewery, Orfelia Winery, the beach and enjoyed some good food around town. It was really nice to get away with Dana for a couple of days and not have an agenda or obligations.