Around February or March, Melbourne holds a huge food and wine festival with opportunities to taste various dishes, visit restaurants, bars, and food stalls, take part in classes with famous chefs, tour restaurants, and relax in a variety of dining experiences. We love all things food, so we decided to “travel” to Melbourne for our very own festival on one of our at-home dates this year.
Here are some ideas for creating an at-home Melbourne Food & Wine Festival atmosphere:
- Watch a commercial, documentary, etc. about the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.
- Provide a spread of fun and/or fancy foods. We kept ours really simple, probably the kind of thing actual chefs at the real festival would cringe at, but it was good enough for us! We had shrimp with cocktail sauce, a small pizza, bruschetta and bread chips, some fresh blackberries that happened to be in season, and some bacon-wrapped asparagus.
- Watch some cooking videos. You can choose some of the videos that were filmed at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival or any other cooking shows or clips. If you want, have the ingredients laid out for cooking one or two of the recipes, and cook together as part of the date. There’s a huge variety to choose from. If you search for “Melbourne Food and Wine Festival MasterClass” on YouTube, you’ll get lots of hits.
- Our dress code was “kitchen classy/ hipster tourist.” We like to just choose a fun dress code and then look around the house and get creative in finding our costumes.
- If the cooking videos aren’t enough to keep you busy, find a movie with an Australian theme.
With a busy three months of house guests, friend drama, and other unexpected twists in the plot of our life, we were running a little behind on our monthly “destination” dates. So back around April, we finally got around to our January date, which was an “Antarctica/ Ski Lodge” theme… basically, we needed a destination, which was Antarctica, but we obviously didn’t want to sit around on icebergs freezing to death, so we pretended there was a ski lodge there and we were cozily bundled up inside!
Here are some ideas for a fun date with some theme along these lines:
- Dress up in winter gear. It was legitimately about 40 or 50 degrees in our home on this particular date night, so it felt good to bundle up.
- Decorate with throw blankets, hats, scarves, gloves, and boots. Pull up a space heater as a “fire.”
- Drink hot chocolate or simmer apple cider or apple juice on the stove top with cinnamon sticks and cloves to make the house smell warm and wonderful.
- Make some kind of comfort food… chili, grilled cheese, some kind of your favorite sandwiches, etc.
- Set up a sauna and massage center. Run the hot water in the shower as hot as you cana get it, close the door and block the space underneath the door with a towel to let the steam build up. In about 10 minutes, you should have a decent steam room.
- Watch an Antarctica documentary.
- Watch a movie with an Antarctic or winter theme. We settled for Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Other options include 8 Below or The X Files- The Movie.
In April/ May we had an at-home date with a Thailand theme. Songkran is the Thai new year festival.
A little background on the festival: The celebration traditionally involved sprinkling of water to signify respect, welcome prosperity, and was away bad luck. In modern times, this sprinkling has turned into water fights in the streets.
Here are some ideas for visiting Thailand and/or celebrating Songkran at (or near) your home:
- Fill water balloons or water guns for a battle outside your home. (If you live on China, the roof of your building may work!)
- Eat pad thai, satay, papaya salad, green curry and/or cucumber in vinegar. Unfortunately, I don’t have any “tested and approved” recipes to share here; we were in the process of moving, and I ran across some packets of mixes for preparing Thai food, so I just used those.
- Watch a documentary about Songkran.
- Watch a movie set in Thailand. Some options include Anna and the King of Siam, The King and I, and The Impossible.
- Watch an instructional video about doing Thai massage and then practice.
Our date-around-the-world dates this year have been much lower key than last year’s but have been lots of fun. Most of them have lined up with some kind of festival or holiday that’s going on in a given country in a given month. In early May we “traveled” to New Caledonia for the Avocado Festival, which was held there from April 30 through May 2 this year. We mostly celebrated through food. Here are some ideas from creating your own Avocado Festival experience:
- Have lots of tropical fruits for eating and making various drinks and dishes together.
- Watch a commentary or other video about New Caledonia.
- Dress in something tropical or beach-themed.
- Make guacamole. Serve it with corn chips and fresh veggies.
- Make smoothies with tropical fruits and avocado.
- Play tropical music or something from New Caledonia.
- Relax with avocado facial masks (or a different green avocado-wanna-be mask). We opted to eat all of our avocados rather than using them on our faces, so I can’t recommend a certain “recipe” for making a face mask, but there are lots of simple ones out there on the Internet.
Well… It’s been a while. Earlier this year we had several house guests, some short-term and others not-so-short-term, which kept us busy. Then there was my computer breaking, which has made it a major task to even check e-mail, never mind uploading pictures, linking posts, and blogging. Then there was finding out that we’re going to be having a BABY and the traveling and appointments away from our city, so yes, I’ve been adequately distracted. However, I’m back and ready to continue sharing some of our China experiences, ideas, resources, etc. from time to time.
We’ve been continuing with our second year of date-around-the-world monthly dates. In June we traveled to Japan. We had a whole lot of good food & a great time.
Here are some pictures of our experience and some ideas for creating your own at-home Japan date:
- Wear some sort of Japanese-themed outfit, something that looks like a kimono (or a bathrobe will work, too!)
- Decorate with paper fans or lanterns.
- Sit on the floor with a mat. We used an old bamboo mat that came with our apartment.
- Watch a karate documentary and do a karate lesson together.
- Do origami. This site has lots of great printable instructions.
- Listen to Japanese music.
Well, here I am catching up on writing about dates that happened several months ago. This post’s date was from back in February when we celebrated the Carnaval de Barranquilla, a Columbian festival. The carnival is a very important festival in Columbia and is one of the biggest in the world. During the days of the celebration, the streets are full of activity, parades, and dancing including the cumbia and the garabato dances. So we rolled all of this up into one fun at-home Columbia-themed date!
Here are some ideas for creating your own at-home Columbia-themed date:
- Dress in something “Columbian.” We have no idea what that would be, and we know this is totally inaccurate (and probably offensive- sorry!), but we always gravitate toward dressing like gangsters or drug lords. So here we are…
- Watch a commentary on the Carnaval de Barranquilla.
- Learn to dance the cumbia and the garabato.
- Eat some Columbian dishes such as papas chorreadas, sudado de pollo, bananos calados, or Columbian breaded pork.
We recently decided that we’d like to add another hobby to our lives, and we settled on giving badminton a try. We decided we might try playing on the roof of our building to give us a little more privacy. So I decided to plan a badminton night for us. The only issue was that night can be a little dark, so I thought, What about GLOW-IN-THE-DARK badminton?
It was so much fun! This was a fun and easy date to put together and execute. Here’s what to do:
- You will obviously need badminton rackets.
- Tell your date to dress in black and/ or fluorescent clothes.
- Get some light up badminton birdies. I got mine from this Taobao site. I got the option that was a set of 4 for 18 yuan with free shipping, and they all work great.
- To make it extra fun, get a pack of glow sticks and make jewelry/ headbands/ anything else to dress up with. I bought mine from this Taobao site. I ordered the set of 50 glow sticks in 5 different colors for 10 yuan with free shipping. Also worked great.
- Then head outside and play, play, play! It was fun to just see flashes of light flying around as we swung our glowstick-adorned arms and watched the birdie fly.