Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Carla's Goodbye Party

Our dear friend, Carla is moving to Houston, Texas. We are sad to see her leave Los Angeles, but we know that she'll come back and visit us often.
On Sunday, Natalie and Joe hosted a potluck pizza party for Carla. Everyone brought yummies to share and Joe made HOMEMADE PIZZA for all of us! It was a wonderful send-off for a very good friend.
BFF's, Carla and Natalie
We will all miss you Carla! Please update your blog often so we can keep up with your adventures in Texas!
Below are some photos from the event. Larry and I both contributed photos to the slide show:

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Lava Lady

The Lava Lady on the Sidewalk, photo by Oscar Jimenez
On Saturday night, Larry U. and I went to a photo exhibit with our friends Beth and Larry A. The exhibit was at Brick and Mortar on Gardner Street in Hollywood. This is a clothing and art store. The photographer of the evening was Oscar Jimenez. The photo composites and journalistic style photos were all of the Lava Lady.
Art Gallery

Beth & Larry A. @ Brick & Mortar
We always used to see the Lava Lady around the Fairfax area. We didn't call her that. We called her the Pointy-Haired Lady. She wore interesting, drapey clothes (long skirts or outrageously wide bell-bottoms), very high platform shoes, her hair was always in an up-do with the highest pointy monument of hair on top of her head that I've ever seen. She always had full make-up on, including very rouged cherry cheekbones. We used to see her at the Original Farmers Market, at Ralph's Market on 3rd and La Brea, at Trader Joe's across the street and walking in the general vicinity. Because of those 5-inch platforms and long bell-bottoms and/or skirts, she seemed to glide along the street. One time, I was behind her in the check-out line at Ralph's. The checker said hello to her and I got to hear her voice. It was very high and reedy, kind of sing-songy. She seemed extremely pleasant.
The Lava Lady @ Ralph's Market, photo by Oscar Jimenez
There was a brief blurb about her in Los Angeles Magazine, September 2007, in the fashion section, "Wrap Star: You saw the vertical ponytail and you knew it was her. The Fairfax District eccentric known as the Lava Lady was an icon of style, walking down Melrose in dramatic capes and platforms."
Through other people's sightings, we found out that she lived in a black house on the corner of Detroit and Clinton, just west of La Brea. The outside of the house had lava rocks all over it. Eventually, she must have purchased the home next door, because soon, that house was painted black too.
We haven't seen the Lava Lady in about 3 or 4 years and her houses must have been sold, because they're white now and the lava rock is gone.
Soooooooo....we were very happy to find out about this photo exhibit. The photos are wonderful and you should get over to Brick and Mortar so you can experience the Lava Lady yourself!
Addendum: We found out that the Lava Lady's name is Rae Suzan Strauss. She is related to the family of the bluejeans mogul, Levi Strauss. Rumor has it that she was a fashion model in the 1960's. The lava rocks on her home were all imported from Hawaii. She moved to Florida about 4 years ago to be near her children.
After the art show, we went to Canter's Deli on Fairfax for delicious pastrami sandwiches!

I just love Los Angeles and all the crazy people that live here!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Custom Knits"

I recently received a copy of "Custom Knits" by Wendy Bernard. The sub-title is "Unleash Your Inner Designer with Top-down and Improvisational Techniques." Oh yeah, this is right up my alley. I'm the queen of top-down sweaters. Lately, they are the only kind I like to knit and crochet.
I've been reading Wendy's blog for awhile now. In fact, I think she used to read my blog too. A few years ago she contacted me about mid-century modern locations in Los Angeles. She said that she loved that 50's, 60's style and wanted her sweaters photographed in that context. I gave her a few suggestions, but, by the time she got around to selling her book, I suppose her publishers, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, had other ideas. There isn't a Googie-styled or Mid-Century Modern building in the background of any of the photos. I did spy a long surfboard on the cover, a rattan patio set and one shot in front of the vintage Hollywood Sign though. The photos are excellent and really show off the construction of the sweaters. That's the point, right?
I have been taking the book to a few Stitch 'n Bitch meetings for comments. Many people were put off by the numerous underwear shots in strange locations (like the kitchen counter, for instance). Aw, come one! We have to make fun of something! The photographer, photostylist and production manager are probably the ones that came up with these improbable locations and photo ideas. There is one shot of a lovely sweater called "Slinky Ribs" with a woman leaning against a sofa, poolside (do you have a sofa outside?). Anyway, the pool guy in the background, cleaning the pool is kinda' blurry, but there is a perfectly placed strategic ray of light across his particular area that many of the ladies have appreciated (thanks for noticing, Mary). At least Wendy's sweater designs are fine.

I'm definitely knitting "Ingenue"

I rarely follow a prescribed pattern. You don't have to if you knit/crochet sweaters using the percentage or top-down method. Wendy has taken this lesson to the max by showing how you can customize this method of making a sweater. She explains the way you can "understand your style." The patterns are divided by type: Top-down raglan sweaters, set-in sleeve sweaters, round-yoke sweaters and the sweaters that she has designed "on the fly." I particularly like the last chapter called "Unleash Your Inner Designer: Elements to Alter and Starting from Scratch." In this section, she diagrams all the types of sweaters discussed in the previous chapters and how to mix and match the elements to come up with your own design.
Wendy's "Essential Tank"

I haven't actually tried knitting any of the patterns yet, but the concept of this book is good. I will definitely incorporate many of Wendy's design elements in my next sweater.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mid-Century Modernism

The Ultimate Mid-Century Home, San Fernando Valley
Larry and I both really like the architectural style known as Mid-Century Modern. We're particulary fond of the California Modern style, which brings the outdoors inside by providing seamless transitions. We'd love to live in modern-style home. HOWEVER, the neighborhood where we live has about 4 post-war homes built in this style. Our area was developed in the 1920's and 1930's, when Spanish Revival was all the rage. Most of the great areas for Mid-Century Modern in Los Angeles are located in newer sub-divisions, built after World War II, like Trousdale Estates in Beverly Hills, Ladera Heights near Baldwin Hills, parts of Culver City and Beverlywood and many sections of the San Fernando Valley.
As I drive around the City, I try to notice updated homes, re-styled with modernism in mind. I've seen a few....

Santa Monica Remodel

Venice Remodel
When you look around the sides of these remodeled homes, you can always see vestiges of the pre-War bungalows that they were originally.
One of my favorite remodels is one that I visited this past weekend in the Larchmont area. This home had a floor-plan very similar to our 1920's era home. I'm sure it was of the same vintage. You can still see the old roofline and many of the Spanish bungalow details, but the architect added some beautiful modern materials to the home, inside and out, to give it a modern look.

Updated and Modernized Home, Larchmont Area, Hollywood

Larchmont Area, Interior

The ultimate, newly built modern home is owned by our friends Maggie and Bill in Studio City. They're still working on the finishing touches, but this modern design is a stand-out!

The Crochet Car Visits Maggie's and Bill's Modern Home

Interior, Studio City Home

Our home, even though the style is Spanish Revival, is a very simple design with a flat roof. We could possibly get rid of the few Spanish-style elements and turn our home into a mid-century modern-look. Our studio in the back and our new addition are very simple and modern-looking. Maybe, one of these days, when we can afford it, we'll modernize and update. In the meantime, here's a shot of our room addition, being framed.

Can This House Be Saved?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Little Something

Red Heart Strata, Baby Cardigan
When we were driving to the desert a couple of weeks ago, I needed an easy car-knit project for the trip. Most of the projects I have on-the-needles or hook right now involve concentration, reading and counting. So, I decided to pull out a skein of my Red Heart Strata in the wild "Fruity" colorway and knit a simple top-down baby cardigan (size 10 needles, worsted weight, stockinet stitch) for donation to Stitches From The Heart. I just finished the little sweater the other day. I still have to add a tie or button. The colors are really bright and I love it......for a baby, that is. Not sure what I'll do with the 10 other skeins I have of this yarn....maybe a baby afghan?
Speaking of top-down cardigans, I read on her blog that crochet designer, Robyn Chacula is designing an interesting cardigan...it's kind of a Fair Isle Granny look. I like it alot....gives me some interesting ideas! Thanks, Robin....this would be an excellent stash buster!

Robyn Chacula's Top-Down Crocheted Cardi, In Progress


Monday, September 22, 2008

Art-Filled Saturday

Amico's Studio
On Saturday afternoon I drove Downtown to visit with artist, David Amico. David and I have known each other since we were teenagers and counselors at the Idyllwild Arts Foundation. Recently, many of us have contacted each other and are getting together for a reunion in October. I've been to many of David's art shows, but hadn't seen his studio. The studio is in the heart of downtown on the top floor of an industrial building. The view is fantastic! We had a short, but fun visit.
David Amico
After the studio visit, I headed up Alameda Street to the HomeGirl Cafe for a late lunch and Stitch 'n Bitch. To my surprise, along with the regulars of our group, Regina and Jenna were there too. It was a fun day. Thank you again, Nancy for treating me to lunch. The corn chowder and roast beef sandwich were divine! The food at the HomeGirl is always outstanding. You must come by one Saturday from 2-5 and join us for Stitch 'n Bitch. There's a big parking lot in back and the HomeGirl is freeway and Metro close.
Jenna & Regina
Roast Beef Sandwich, Corn Chowder
Later that evening, Larry and I drove over to La Luz de Jesus Gallery, located in the Wacko/Soap Plant Shop in East Hollywood. Our friend, Pete Moruzzi, was holding a book-signing and party for his new book, "Havana Before Castro: When Cuba was a Tropical Playground." Wow! What a party! The mojitos were flowing. We saw tons of people from the Modern Committee of the LA Conservancy, people from the music biz and art worlds and more. You can see from the slide show below that I was fascinated with Leslie's new/vintage car, a '55 or '56 "La Femme" Dodge. It's cream and lilac two-tone. Positively gorgeous. This was the first car actually marketed to women. You can read about it here.

After the book signing, many people went to Cuba Libre Restaurant around the corner on Vermont. We opted out and went a little further north on Vermont to the House of Pie for a quieter meal. We always like the House of Pie. They have basic, coffee shop food that you can rely on being decent. When we were almost done with our meal, about 20 people from the book signing came in for dinner. Like I said, it was a party!

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cuban Pete

The big event this weekend is a book signing for my friend, Pete at La Luz de Jesus Gallery. Pete Moruzzi has written a book called "Havana Before Castro: When Cuba was a Tropical Playground." It's a beautiful book. The book signing is special.....there will be Cuban drinks, food and music. The art gallery will have a display of Cuban ephemera.

Larry and I have known Peter Moruzzi for years. We're all members of the Los Angeles Conservancy's Modern Committee. Pete is also the founder of the Palm Springs Modernism Architecture Committee. He's written many articles on Mid-Century Modern architecture and design.

This is going to be a stand-out event! See you there!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Political Statement

Driving up 14th Street in Santa Monica the other day, I spied this Toyota with a great bumper sticker. I happened to be in front of the LYS, Wild Fiber. No wonder, I'm sure the driver had just been inside. My photo is rather blurry, but I found a clear copy of the sticker online.
It's a take-off of the old Viet-Nam War slogan. I just love how knitters are so pithy!
My name is Ellen Bloom and I endorse this bumper sticker.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008


A little more progress on our home improvement project.
The concrete foundation is poured and the floor is going in. The plumber is working today. Below is the pile o' lumber just waiting for the room addition to be framed.

Our Excellent Crew


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cactus Mart

The birthday party we went to in Joshua Tree on Saturday night was really fun. It was hosted by my former co-host of "The Friday Night Blues Revue" on KPCC-Radio, John "Juke" Logan. Juke has a knack of getting all the old gang back together. It was such a good time, that I hardly took any photos to show you! Needless to say, we stayed late, ate lots of good barbecue, visited with old friends and played music late into the night, all at Juke's beautiful desert retreat!
On Sunday morning, after a quick breakfast, Larry and I headed toward Morongo Valley to the Cactus Mart. This is the best display of cactus for sale I've ever seen. It's a great place to visit, even if you don't want to buy cactus. Their prices are reasonable and they have an amazing selection. We wanted to pick up something special for our friends, Maggie and Bill. We planned to see their new home in Studio City on the ride home from the desert.
Once you choose the cactus you want, then you choose the ceramic pot. There's a self-potting bench with soil, rocks and all other sorts of doo-dads to add to your plant. Larry did the honors for Maggie's and Bill's plant. Below are a few photos of the Cactus Mart. Larry, of course is the star of the show!

Labels: ,

Monday, September 15, 2008

Desert Weekend

We left Los Angeles Saturday morning for a birthday party in the high desert town of Joshua Tree. Once we got to Banning, it was time for lunch, so we stopped at our favorite li' ol' lady, cutesy country restaurant, Gramma's. Lunch was invigorating.
Country Cute Decor @ Gramma's Country Kitchen
BLTA on Wheat
Then, we drove into Yucca Valley and stopped at a few antique shops. One place has a whole section dedicated to Coleman Lanterns. It's just like a mini-museum. We arrived in Joshua Tree around 2pm, rested for awhile and then went to the birthday party. More about that tomorrow.
It was a perfect weekend!


Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery