Need a Little Summer This Winter?

As we’re nearing Winter solstice, I am blown away that somehow the summer came to a close without me sharing the details of a very special visit I made to a girls’ summer camp in Pennsylvania this past July. I must be jonesing for some sunshine.

Good thing I captured it in video, which I invite you to watch below. Let me just preface this by saying this is nothing like the camp I went to (and even played counselor at!) when I was a kid. Camp crafts–and cooking, turns out!–have come a long way!

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Summer Lovin’ – Movie Night

As the temperatures cool and the days get shorter, it’s time to say good-bye to a few of our favorite summer pastimes.

Summer Lovin

Movie night in the backyard is one of the things I miss the most when the snow is flying. Movie night at my house is like the Perfect Storm…3 key things come together to create an epic event. Except my perfect storm happens every Friday night.

I’ve had the components for my movie “Nor’easter Storm” for quite some time.  My “low pressure” is the movies.  I have quite a library that I’ve amassed over the years…literally hundreds of movies. Maybe thousands.  As soon as it’s dark, we fire up the movie. Because of the diverse group of people that we have come each week, the taste in movies is constantly changing.  Thanks to Control4, we can browse my entire movie collection right on the screen, let the group choose, and get the movie started. It takes longer to get a consensus than it does to start the movie!

My “high pressure” is my collection of concession equipment.  It’s embarrassing to admit, but I own an industrial grade cotton candy machine, popcorn machine, and snow cone machine.  Show up at my house for movie night, and in under 5 minutes you could be munching on 9 different flavors of cotton candy, 17 flavors of snow cones, and all the popcorn you can stomach.  And it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

The “hurricane” that turns my movies and my concessions into the Perfect Movie Night is Control4. I had always contemplated having an “outdoor movie night”, but it seemed like such a hassle.  I didn’t want to have to pull a ton of equipment out of my house to set it up outside, and I didn’t want to have to buy duplicate hardware either. Control4 to the rescue.

Here’s what I did: For about $ 500, I was able to have a 10’ x 18’ wide outdoor movie screen made.  It sets up in my backyard in about 20 minutes.  I’ve also seen some inflatable screens that blow up in a matter of minutes. I set up a small card table to put my projector and receiver on, and set a couple of speakers on the ground behind the screen.  The Control4 system allows me to entertain in the backyard with everything that I have in my home, controlling it all from my touch screen or my iPad – if I can find it.

That’s it.  I’m done.  We are ready for the Perfect Movie Night.

My neighbors start coming over about 2:00 in the afternoon to “claim the good spots”.  So in the early afternoon, I use my Control4 system to stream my Rhapsody playlist over the speakers and we have kids and neighbors just hanging out and relaxing. Once it starts to get dark, we bring out the machines, and start pumping out cotton candy, snow cones, and popcorn and let the festivities begin.

So for the next five or six months we’ll be doing movie nights inside, like normal people, while counting the days till our outdoor movie theater is back in business.


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Enjoying the Summer Olympics

I’m what some might refer to as a “sports fanatic” so naturally I really enjoy the Summer Olympics. Once every four years we get the opportunity to fill the sports void that exists every year in the Summer with a handful of mainstream sports plus a whole lot of randomness, otherwise known as the Olympics. When else do we get the chance to watch table tennis, archery, rowing, and trampoline. That’s right, they actually give out a gold medal for jumping on a trampoline…if only I hadn’t quit jumping on the tramp back when I was a kid I might just be kicking it old school style in London right now. This year there’s already been a badminton scandal. Only during the Olympics could a badminton scandal actually be riveting.

Olympics - Previews - Day - 5Since I live in the good ole US of A these particular Olympics have been tricky. Most of the good stuff happens right in the middle of the work day. I can’t just stay home from work for two weeks to sit in front of the TV, at least not if I want to keep my job (again, should have stuck with the trampoline). This is where the joys of a DVR and automation make life a little easier.

I DVR the events during the day that I love to watch and the moment I walk in the door when I arrive home, I hit one of the buttons on my 6-button keypad that I’ve recently termed “the Gold Medal button”. By the time I turn the corner my TV is already on and tuned to the Olympics. When I get settled in I go through the DVR events I have saved and cruise through those during commercials or during the events that I don’t particularly enjoy (sorry Gymnastics…you just don’t make the cut).
Some might say I’m a bit obsessed but I just like to think of myself as patriotic, at least that’s what I tell my wife when she asks why I haven’t mowed the lawn in two weeks.

How have you been enjoying the Olympics? Let us know your favorite events in the comments.

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