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The Simple Things In Life & Outdoor Living

A post about the simple and not so simple things, Milestone Birthdays, purchases, experiences, and for those local and inclined, an offer for some free PAVERART SWAG (offer at the bottom)!

Of course, there's an underlying theme of Outdoor Living.

Milestone Birthdays

The Big 3-0.

The Big 4-0. 5-0. Etc

New decades can sometimes be eventful and dramatic. When I approached 40 years old I had one of those mid life crises/cross-roads opportunities: Leave a comfortable lifestyle and 8 year run with great friends, at a great company, to come home to NJ and chase a dream of business ownership, purchase a food manufacturing company while taking on a massive financial risk. Or stay the course, everything was working just right....

We took that leap. It worked out, but it was not an easy call with 2 very young kids. That summed up the big 4-0 birthday. So much for cake, dinner and fine vino.

Fast forward to this past December when I hit the big 5-0. No such drama, thankfully. But plenty of reflections? You bet.

After a decade, the 5-0 birthday was easier/less eventful than the 4-0. In fact, I would even characterize it as boring, but if I had to make a list of things that marked the year leading up too 5-0, call it a favorites/consuming list, here it is.

  • Morning walks, while sometimes grueling, are rewarding.

  • Concerts, Music, legends. Springsteen. Billy Joel. 50k people collectively singing the same song.

  • Beautiful weather, sunsets, sunrises and their natural beauty.

  • Fire pits. Fireplaces. Warmth in the cold.

  • SWAG. Seeing my team mates in PAVERART re-created in caricatures on a new line of apparel.

  • Race Horses. Going back to the Meadowlands for a night of harness racing after a 32 year hiatus.

  • Pizza. Lots of pizza. Homemade pizza and the engineering marvel of pizza ovens & 900 degrees.

  • Breaking Free From "Conventional Wisdom" in higher education, that college is the best path to a successful and fulfilled life. It's occupied more than it's fair share of headspace, the world has changed dramatically, but our guidance to young adults continues. Meanwhile, I see tangible things. Drone photography. Certifications. Skill stacking. Brick By Brick. All things related to my 16 year old son Dominic as he develops plans post high school, in a year+ and chooses his path. No pressure kid!

Concerts, Train Rides, Hey Look Over There!!

billy joel concert, rahway train station
Off To NYC: Billy Joel Concert @ MSG!

I cringe every time I look up prices. But this past summer one of my all-time favorites, Billy Joel announced he'll no longer be touring. So of course, I have to see him, and the hell with the price! I've lost track of the number of times I've seen him, but double digits wouldn't surprise me. This was more special, as it was my first concert with Mike, his cousin Greg and my wife Kim. Meeting up in Rahway NJ, grabbing dinner and taking the train to MSG to see Billy at the garden was an awesome time.

On the train ride to NYC, we look out the window at the Elizabeth Train Stop and see a 40' soccer ball made by PAVERART. See what I did there?

paverart, sports complex, street scape, landscape archtiecture
40' Soccer Ball At Kenah Field - Elizabeth NJ
After the first song at the Billy Joel Concert, I turned to Kim and asked "why the heck would we NOT go to every monthly concert of his until he calls it a career? Experiences and world class talent really do command their price. I went real quick from practical to Hell YES!

Outdoor Living Features: My Must Haves

It is hard not to think about "empty nest syndrome" when you have kids approaching adulthood. In June of 2023 Dominic comes to us and wanted to plan an end of year school celebration with his friends. A home-made pizza party. He did his homework and researched pizza ovens, and started to form a pitch as a cost savings idea by making pizza at home cheaper than take-out. They researched a bunch of options, and we settled on the OONI Karu. We love it, but just under $1k it wasn't "chump change." But Dom committed to a new family tradition of weekly Olivito Pizza nights and he'll take the lead. Tradition, memories and pizza will beat the practical spreadsheet any day, so the OONNI it was.

ooni, pizza oven, fire pit, paverart
Dominic: Resident Pizza Maker

Pizza Making is a bit of a learned skill. Our 30th pizza was much better than the first.

Fire Pits:

Maybe the best "bang for the buck" in the world of outdoor living? Some type of Fire Feature. We went with a built in which you see in front of Dom above. If I had to do it over? I would have saved a few dollars and gone with a smokeless Fire Pit like Breeo or Solo Stove. But in any climate where temperatures drop, the fire allows you to stay outdoors when normally you would shy away. Great functional addition to any outdoor space.

What Else?
I had a great conversation with a PAVERART client a few weeks ago. We covered all the plans of his project, and how best to think about the Compass Rose addition. What did I learn? MEAT SMOKERS. Hearing him talk about the pleasures of long smoking of the perfect brisket, added by another simple tool (a meat thermometer) and I said, that goes next on the list!

Horse Racing

I've always had a penchant for gambling. Black Jack. Harness Racing. Nothing crazy, but more than your average person. Back in the early '90's the Star Ledger would publish the race card lineup. When my horse (WRANGLER) would be running at the Meadowlands, I was there. And I organized about 10 other buddies to join me. Winner would buy dinner at the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton NJ.

What did we do for my big 5-0? You guessed it, a return to the Meadowlands. Haven't been in 32 years. They cleaned it up. Sports betting everywhere. More bright lights. It was about 25 degrees. A fairly entertaining and inexpensive night if you bet $2 a race. Something about REALLY cold, fresh air and the beauty of race horses.

It was fun. But I'll be honest, the adrenaline wasn't there like it was when I was 17 and betting (slightly under the legal age, is that wrong?).

Nevertheless, when any project comes across our desk like the Horse Racing Mosaic, I can't help but feel the rush of adrenaline.

harness racing, family
Meadowlands Harness Racing!

Drones: Want Some PAVERART MERCH? See Below

These little devices have come a long way. At PAVERART we can put them to use. Here's Dominic and the video he put together showcasing both the Kenah Field 40' Soccer ball and the Hank Aaron Homerun Plaza in Newark NJ.

soccer ball, hardscaping, landscape architecture
Drone Set Up At Kenah Field Elizabeth Soccer Ball

apparel, small business, paverart, compass rose
PAVERART Merch: 2024 Team

mosaic, paverart, horse mosaic, hardscape design
PAVERART Horse Racing Mosaic - Shop Inspection

mosaic, horse racing design, paver design, outdoor living
PAVERART Horse Racing Mosaic - Saratoga Springs NY

PAVERART Merch & Road Trips

Installed Pictures are golden to us at PAVERART. Drone shots are even better! And better than all of that? Talking to past clients.

If anybody has an installed PAVERART design and you wouldn't mind Dominic & I coming by to take a few drone shots we would absolutely love that and bring you a little swag bag as a small token of our appreciation! We have projects in every state in the USA so obviously the Northeast is more realistic in the short term but would love to hear from anybody that would be open to this.

So how does this project come about?

  1. I've always learned a ton from our customers. THEIR story, not mine. I've written about Weirdoes (clients description of herself), people that inspire me to invest significantly, Veteran's, business owners, parents that memorialize their children who leave us too soon. And to be honest, the people that just want something cool in their simple patio, which may be the majority of our clients. In short, their stories provide our inspiration to keep pushing and getting better.

  2. Time with Dominic, & The Exposure to HUMANS (vs devices), places and the raw material to create. Like the above videos (but hopefully better), a small business needs compelling work to help others along their project decision tree. The world is noisy!

Would love to hear from you!

Because Life's Best Moments Are Often Spent Outdoors

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