Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Jax Are Here

Jacaranda Trees on South Fairfax Avenue, Mid-City, L.A.
Decorating our troubled City are glorious Jacaranda trees.  The streets are filled with the purple blossoms of Jacaranda trees! Lots of people hate the sticky residue that these blossoms leave on their cars. I don't care, the purple is gorgeous...glorious! In 2008, L.A. Times staff writer, Francisco Vara-Orta referred to these blue/purple flower trees as "purple people pleasers."
The Jacaranda Tree in Front of Our House
When I moved into our neighborhood, almost 30 years ago, many of our neighbors wanted to plant trees on our parkways. We have the widest street in Wilshire Vista...we consider it the center of our neighborhood. Since jacaranda trees are fast-growing, that's what we decided to plant. Many of our trees are now tall and full of flowers. In fact, this has been a very flowerful Spring!
Roses and Gladiolas Near the Driveway
Yellow Daisies and Succulents in the Front Yard

Experiencing all of the beautiful flowers in our neighborhood is a brief respite from the strife felt across our country. Welcome Spring!

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Taix French Restaurant

Taix French Restaurant, Echo Park
The descendants of the owners of Taix Restaurant in Echo Park have sold the property. It is slated to be developed into a mixed use apartment and retail space with Taix taking up residence on the street level in a much smaller space than they now occupy. The ballroom will be gone, probably the separate banquet rooms will be gone. The bar will remain, along with some sort of remodeled dining area.
The new development will consist of two large apartment buildings with underground parking, a walk-way between the buildings, other shops and restaurants. The new design for these buildings is cookie-cutter L.A. boxy, just like all of the other nondescript buildings going up in Los Angeles. This is a far cry from the charming Country-French Revival design of the current building.
Taix will be located on the street level of one of the apartment buildings
Taix is a traditional, Country French-style restaurant with hearty food, a great bar, live music and lots of L.A. history. The original Taix was opened at 321 Commercial Street in downtown L.A. in 1927. The "new" Taix Restaurant on Sunset Blvd. was opened in 1962.
The Original Taix (demolished 1964), 321 Commercial Street, DTLA
(photos courtesy LAPL Archives)

The old Taix was in what was then called French Town., close to Union Station It was my Grandfather's favorite place to eat. We sat at long communal tables (very much like The Pantry and Philippe's). Dinner was served family style, large plates of bread, carrots/celery/radishes on a big chunk of ice, a large stainless steel bowl of soup w/ladle, green vegies, mashed potatoes. I do remember them bringing our main dish on a separate plate.
The interior of downtown Taix's was slightly dreary...greenish walls, linoleum...yup, just like Philippe's. Once in awhile we went to the fancy version of Taix's on Sunset, but that was for special occasions only. The downtown Taix was demolished to make way for a parking structure for the new Federal Building in 1964. Sigh. The current Taix on Sunset Boulevard was a much fancier restaurant with chandeliers, smoked mirrors, plush booths, many banquet rooms and a large bar. Also, the carpet, draperies and plush booths serve to dampen the sound, so you can hear your friends speak during dinner. How quaint!  This Taix was built in 1962. For two years, you could visit the old-fashioned Taix downtown or the classy Taix on Sunset Boulevard.
Plush booths, fancy chandeliers and swag draperies at Taix on Sunset 
Charming Banquet Room, Taix Sunset 
Hallway leading to banquet rooms and bar
The food at Taix is simple, French-inspired country fare. The servings are large. The service staff are most attentive. I love their French Onion Soup! We've never had a bad meal at Taix and I've been going there most of my life!
Classic, Iceberg Wedge with Bleu Cheese Dressing
French Onion Soup with yummy, gloppy cheese 
Grilled Shrimp w/lime and chili and ratatouille, beurre blanc

On the weekends there is music in the bar. It is usually filled with people from the neighborhood and local hipsters, along with families celebrating special occasions. EVERYONE eats at Taix!
I will be sad to see the old building go. Taix is offering curbside special dinners during the pandemic. Check out their Instagram site for daily menus. I do hope to dine at Taix a few more times before they close for demolition. Sigh.
I predict that the new Taix in this boxy development will last for, maybe, one year and then will be replaced by a chain restaurant. Double Sigh.
Historic Taix photos, menus and advertisements

Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Mask Dilemma

Purchased Disposable Surgical Masks 
Do we want to stay safe or do we want to be stylish? That is the question. How about BOTH? 
Since this pandemic is going to last a long time and the wearing of masks will be with us for awhile, Larry and I purchased a box of surgical masks. They are light-weight, fairly comfortable to wear and make us look like essential workers at the grocery store. They are fine. HOWEVER, there are circumstances when you want to dress up a bit and have some fun.
I've been experimenting with various crocheted face masks.  Naturally, a crocheted mask needs to have a liner so the germs don't get inside. This is accomplished by placing a folded paper towel or a coffee filter inside the mask. This works pretty well.
My friend Suzette made a FAB crocheted mask with appliquéd lips on the front. WOW! I had to duplicate that! So, I crocheted another mask from this PATTERN. I found a random crochet lip pattern online and appliquéd it to my mask!
Suzette's Glamour Mask. It's Lip-Tastic!
Ellen's Crocheted Mask with Lip Appliqué
Boy oh boy! Did I get comments on that mask! It was a hit! Thanks for the prompt Suzette! 
WELL, after Mr. Larry saw our stylish masks he wanted one too, but with a mustache and/or goatee!  I checked out some mustache charts.
Mustache/Goatee Style Charts 

Crocheting a mustache is not all that easy, especially as an appliqué!  I tried a few different versions. The first one I made with a goatee attached just didn't come out well at all!
FAILED Goatee Version of Face Mask. Larry looks a bit like Hannibal Lecter here.
My next attempt was just to crochet the mustache. This worked out OK, but there is still room for improvement!
Larry's Straw Boater works well with this mask!
I shall continue my quest for the perfectly stylish and protective face mask!

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Sock-It-To-Me!

Aretha Franklin covered Otis Redding's song, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"
Where did that phrase, "Sock-It-To-Me" originate?  I remember it from Aretha Franklin's cover of the song, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" written in 1967 by Otis Redding. Otis recorded the song first, but Aretha made it famous, featuring a chorus repeating "sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me" really fast in the background. 
Judy Carne, The Sock-It-To-Me-Girl" on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In"
Of course, we all remember when the TV show, "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" used the phrase. Judy Carne was known as the Sock-It-To-Me Girl. She would come into view and recite the phrase over and over, usually while dancing, until something awful happened to her, typically a bucket of water poured on her head or a pie in the face.
So, after much Googling and net research, I found out that this is an old slang phrase for "give it to me." All sorts of connotations and situations where this phrase may be used come to my imagination! LOL!
I'm supposing that the Sock-It-To-Me Cake was named because it was SO delicious you just had to have a slice....give it to me, give it to me, sock it to me! The recipe seems to appear around 1972. One of my Facebook friends showed a photo of her Sock-It-To-Me cake online the other day. I just couldn't get that cake outta my head! I used to order slices of it at Pann's Coffee Shop...so delicious!
Basically, it's a yellow pound cake with streusel, pecan filling, topped with thick vanilla frosting. Oh yum!  Below is what the cake is SUPPOSED to look like.
This is what the perfect Sock-It-To-Me Cake should look like
I didn't grease my bundt pan properly, so the cake stuck a bit. Also, my frosting is not as thick as the photo above. Even though my cake isn't picture-perfect, it's disappearing really fast!
Sock-It-To-Me Cake. SO delicious!
Here's a LINK to the online recipe I found. There are many to choose from!

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Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Inspiration

In this time of Quarantine, I find that I'm on my computer A LOT during the day! I love to peruse the patterns on Ravelry for new yarny project inspiration. Below are a few patterns I'd like to make. Click on the caption link for the pattern.
My Barbie needs a cute little number like this one.
Knock Knock Knock Penny by Anke Spilker
This reminds me of an old-fashioned quilt.
Baby ABC's Afghan by Coats and Clarke
Love the corner granny squares.
I call this the Brain Beanie!
Which projects inspire you? I've been seriously going through my yarn stash. I have so much yarn and could probably work up ALL of these projects without ever ordering more yarn. I do miss going to the yarn shop...not so much to purchase yarn, but to speak to like-minded yarny people.  Sigh.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Still There

So much of Los Angeles is being torn down. A great comfort to me is when I drive down streets where I grew up and see buildings that are still standing! One such building is below!
Freda and Sam Katz, Elm Drive, Beverly Hills, 1956
341-343 South Elm Drive, Beverly Hills. My grandfather, Sam Katz, built this apartment building in 1955. Jules Salkin was the architect. Salkin (a close friend of my Dad's) was one of the architects instrumental in the founding and designing of the legendary Crestwood Hills project in Brentwood.
Grandpa built this apartment after selling their home on Beverwil Drive in Beverly Hills. I remember the owner's apartment, upstairs, being very large and spacious. Since there are three addresses at this building, I'm assuming that the owner's apartment is the entire second floor and that there are two apartments downstairs.
The building looks much the same today, except that the decorative grill-work on the front is gone and the plants have grown up a bit. Also, there are apartment buildings on either side of the Katz residence instead of single family homes. This is a building for the ages. It still looks great! Good design is good design.
341-343 So. Elm Drive, Beverly Hills, 2010, Google Maps Photo
This building is one block south of Beverly Vista Elementary School. When we were young, my cousin Janet and I would walk to Grandma's and Grandpa's place after school most days for snacks and to hang-out until one of our mother's picked us up.....built-in baby sitters!
Below, after Grandma and Grandpa returned from a trip to Hawaii with goodies for all, my brother, Ken and I model our Hawaiian togs with Mom in the middle, in front of that very same apartment building.
Modeling our new Hawaiian togs, Ellen, Roz and Ken Bloom, Elm Dr., Beverly Hills, 1956
These days of Quarantine, we're not supposed to travel far from our neighborhoods except for groceries and other necessities.  I find it necessary to just get out and drive around to see what's going on in the neighborhood. This is essential for my mental health!! Hope you are doing OK during this time of sheltering.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Trolling for Patterns

In this time of quarantine, I like to pass the time by trolling the Ravelry "new patterns" section often. I always find it inspirational to see what other folks are knitting, crocheting and designing. This is a perfect procrastination project, trolling for patterns, much like the actual knitting and/or crocheting of projects! Instead of doing something useful like cleaning, cooking or organizing my closets, it only appears that I'm being useful by producing yarny objects. Most of the time, these yarny objects are not necessary, but they're usually so soft and adorable!
Here are a few patterns that have caught my interest. Click on the titles to be re-directed to the patterns:
Market Day Bag
Panda Ski Mask. All that's needed is a filter behind the mouth/nose section to qualify as a Covid-19/Corona Mask for this season
Charleston Hat.  This hat is knit AND crochet!
Eckstein Sweater
Bright Chevron Dishcloth 

San Francisco Purse

During the warmer weather I will try to concentrate on smaller projects. Having a sweater or afghan on my lap during hot weather is not a pleasant practice of procrastination!

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Monday, April 13, 2020

Easter 2020

My Online Easter Ensemble, 2020

Easter Sunday was very different this year. Usually, we are feasting at Carol's and Thane's home for their traditional Orphan's Easter Party. They have been holding this delightful event for over 35 years. We missed seeing the gang, but we substituted with some other celebrations, sheltering at home, during this season of Covid-19/Corona Virus.
This Easter I wore my big, orange Church Lady hat with matching ensemble. I have been crocheting these little Peeps Easter bunnies. My crafty friend, Suzette went one better and added her crocheted and knitted items to her Easter bonnet, SO CUTE!
Suzette's Easter Bonnet with bunnies and chicks!
Suzette also photographed her adorable crocheted bunnies in her garden. Those yarny Peeps look almost good enough to eat!
Suzette's Crocheted Bunny Peeps
At 12:30 the KnitGrrlz aka Squirrel Troop #2020 met on Zoom to celebrate MaryJo's birthday AND Easter. We were informed by the Troop Leader, Ms. Natalie of Hollywood, to dress in a festive manner!  Alyson suggested that our Easter Ensembles for next year incorporate some or all of these amazing crocheted outfits found on the innernets! We'd better get busy! Those are 3-piece crocheted togs!
We all toned it down a bit!
Natalie had on some festive jewelry, Larry had on his exciting wrestling mask, MaryJo had on an alluring necklace, Alyson was all cozy in flannel, Brit was Brit and Darcy outdid herself with her divine floral chapeau!
Carla and Daisy joined us from Houston!
We had a lot of laughs, drank tea and adult beverages with snacks. It's always fun hanging out with my good buddies and their pets!
Baxter and Alyson 
Natalie and CoCo 
Tillie Yamashita was having a grand time!
Birthday Girl, MaryJo and Darcy in her delightful Easter garb!
Who wore it better? Darcy Doll or Camilla?
Happy Easter and Passover to my family and friends. Hope you had a good celebration.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Pretend Passover


I'm so sad that we cannot hold our huge family Passover Seder this year due to the Covid-19 Corona Virus pandemic. There are usually 25-30 of us gathered at my cousin's home. We cook and cook for days in advance. We drag out the old Haggadahs, music, dishes, silver goblets and Pesach plates for the event. It's a lot of work, but such a fun time.
Tropical Matzoh House Decoration

This year, it's just me and Larry in our little breakfast room, sheltering together. It's better than nothing. I'll be making matzoh ball soup, roast chicken, farfel pilaf and some steamed broccoli. Larry's not a big lover of macaroons, so we'll just have some Matzoh Crack for dessert. Matzoh Crack is matzoh, covered in chocolate and chopped pecans, hardened.
Knitted and Felted Matzoh Ball Soup by Tikkun Knits

Over the years I've threatened to knit and/or crochet some of the symbolic foods for the Pesach Plate. I might just make a few of these for this week:
Traditional Seder Plate, Knitted
There's a LOT of matzoh used during the dinner. Better to have a nice, open container for the matzoh on the table, easy to reach!
Matzoh Holder Pattern
There's even patterns to represent all of the plagues that the Jews suffered during the Passover Story:
The Ten Plagueswater turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the killing of firstborn children
Years ago, when we first started holding our family Seders at home, I compiled a family Haggadah using excerpts from our classic Temple Beth Am Haggadah, online references and other popular pieces.  I typed it out like a script so that when we go around the table, reciting the old story, everyone has a part.

I even found many song parodies online relating to Passover! We're a musical family, so singing is the best part! REALLY, check out the link to the song parodies. There are Broadway show tunes, current popular tunes, Beatles tunes and more! They are hilarious (and possibly solemn too).
Yes, I will miss my extended family tonight, the first night of Pesach, but I look forward to our gatherings in the future. Chat Pesach Sameach!   
To see an album of our past gatherings, click HERE

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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery