Thursday, January 31, 2013

Atwater Village

Christine, Mary Jo, Brit
Last Saturday I zoomed over to Atwater Village.  Atwater is just past the Los Feliz area of L.A., but before Glendale, bordering Griffith Park.  What was once a sketchy neighborhood has gentrified over the years and become a charming enclave.  There are tons of restaurants, shops and historic homes in the area.  My ukulele group, the Pluckin' Strummers meets on the second and fourth Saturday of the month at Christ's Church on Edenhurst Avenue.  Even though Atwater is about 15 miles from home, on a Saturday morning it only takes about 15-20 minutes to get there.  No traffic.  Thank you.

This Saturday, Christine joined us.  She's a new uke player, but she held her own on the singing!  Brit and Mary Jo were both strumming their new-ish ukuleles.  Mary Jo was GIFTED with this beautiful little Martin uke...probably from the 1920's.  It's in great shape and sounds very sweet.  Brit recently bought a Kamaka uke.  It's the top-of-the-line uke nowadays.  I expect to see both Mary Jo and Brit performing at some exclusive parlour soirée soon!
Mary Jo's vintage Martin Uke
Our song book is "The Daily Ukulele, Leap Year Edition."  The song list for the morning was good...heavy on hits from the 1960's, which is fine with me.  At least I know what each song is SUPPOSED to sound like.  We start out with easier, 3-chord songs.  The tunes get progressively more difficult with speedy chord changes and difficult chord configurations as the morning advances.  If only I would practice a bit between sessions!
I was mentally exhausted after group.  We needed sustenance.  The four of us hopped in my car and we drove over to Indochine Restaurant.   We had a lovely lunch of pho, bhan mi and more.  Thanks for a great day, my Ukulele Ladies!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quick Project

Yes, I have many projects on the back burners.  There's always a birthday gift, holiday gifts or swap items to interrupt my REAL work!  I've had this idea on my mind for awhile now and I'm FINALLY getting to it!  I hope what's in my mind will transfer to yarn.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

License to Snap

All 3 photos were taken while I was sitting in VERY slow traffic on our lovely Santa Monica Freeway.  Argh!

This could have many meanings...
Dog Dirty?  I Dig Dirty?
We all get this one!

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Tiki Tile

I love architecturally textured walls, as evidence by this post and this one.  Any wall with a grid pattern, especially broken up with a few curved elements makes me swoon.  
Imagine how happy I was when I saw this gorgeous tile on the side of an old building along Las Vegas' Fremont Street!
I was too excited to get the exact location and name of the building.  Besides the fact that it was about 30 degrees in LV that weekend!  One day I'll return and pinpoint this location.  Judging from the design, I'm sure this tile has been here since the 1960's.  I certainly hope it remains for many years to come.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Vintage Photo Friday

J. Hoyt Underhill, probably around 1928

This is Larry's Dad, Hoyt, playing the ukulele!  Larry unearthed this photo from the archives a few weeks ago.  I just love it.  
I got to know Hoyt later in his life.  He was always full of fun.  He had a collection of novelty song records that Larry still plays on our old turntable.  We didn't know that he played the uke.  Hoyt's family moved to California from the Hudson River Valley area of New York in the early 1920's.  I'm assuming this is Hoyt's parents' parlor in Alhambra, CA.  Looks like Hoyt is around 18 in this photo.  He's playing a pineapple uke.  LOVE that upright piano!
Tomorrow, I'll join my fellow ukesters at a meeting of the Pluckin' Strummers in Atwater.  Get your uke out and join us!  Have a wonderful weekend.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013


Crystal Palace Yarn - Sausalito
Oooooo, I just love this yarn!  It's from Crystal Palace and it's called Sausalito.  From the website:  Hand or Machine wash gentle cycle in cool water with mild soap.  Dry flat. Do not put in a dryer.  We recommend putting knit items in lingerie bag if machine washing to reduce rubbing of fibers.  Sausalito is a 2-ply with many uses: lace, socks, accessories.

It is a super soft yarn.  I just finished making 4 different "Audra Cowls" using this yarn.  I forgot to take photos of the cowls to post on my Ravelry project page.  Maybe the gift recipients will help me out with that.
This is the leftover yarn.  I'm working on a SECRET PROJECT with these gorgeous leftovers!  All will be revealed after February 14th. 

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Googie Gone

Norm's Restaurant, Santa Monica

I've been hearing rumors that Norm's Restaurant in Santa Monica might be coming down, along with Wertz Bros. Antique Mart next door, at the corner of Lincoln Blvd. and Colorado Ave.  This particular Norm's, probably designed by the architectural firm of Armet, Davis and Newlove looks to have been built in the late '60's.  

The severely remodeled Denny's Restaurant, across the street is definitely slated for demolition.  Blame all of this on the Metro line expansion to Santa Monica.
Yeah, demolish this place...the remodel is awful! IMHO!

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that the Metro will be running right past my office in Santa Monica.  I intend on using it.  I'm just sad that Norm's may be coming down.  I know it will be replaced by high-rise apartments and probably a few more restaurants, but it's just not the same.  We need less fast-food places and more good, old-fashioned coffee shops with large parking lots!  Sigh.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pub Dinner

On Sunday, Roz and Hal treated us to dinner at Tom Bergin's Tavern on Fairfax Avenue, right near our house.  Bergin's had been closed for a long time while the new owners were renovating the kitchen and cleaning up the dining and bar areas.  When it first re-opened, I heard a few negative remarks about the food.  Irish food isn't known for it's gourmet qualities.  However, after a few months of fine-tuning, it sounded like the chef had improved the food, so we decided to give it a try.
The dining room looks great
I'm please to announce that the look of the place is the same, except cleaner and brighter.  The old 4-leaf clovers are still on the walls and ceiling of the bar.  The wooden booths are still there.  Those red leather Captain's chairs and fireplace are still in the dining room.  The menu has improved!
the classic Iceberg Wedge w/Bleu Cheese and Bacon
Traditional Cottage Pie
Grilled White Fish
I ordered the Cottage Pie...small, but delicious.  Larry ordered the white fish of the day...excellent.  Roz and Hal had a Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwich, which looked yummy.  Larry and I split the Iceberg Wedge with Bleu Cheese and Bacon...a classic.  For dessert we shared the Apple Bread Pudding...very tasty.  The Guinness was flowing and we all had a delightful time!  We'll definitely return to this comfortable, neighborhood pub.
Tom Bergin's Tavern
840 South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 936-7151

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Belated Celebration

Darcy, Mary Jo, Natalie, Ellen and Brit

On Saturday I celebrated a belated Xmas with the Knit Grrlz aka The Ukulele Ladies.  We met at my house this year.  Last year we had a lovely brunch at the Roosevelt Hotel.  It has been more and more difficult to schedule a time when we all could meet up, so we decided to keep it simple and have dinner at home.  
I made vegetarian chili and a green salad.  Mary Jo helped with the appetizers, Brit brought champagne, Natalie brought yummy squash and apple soup along with some very tasty cheesy crackers and Darcy brought dessert.

Cheesy Crackers.  I NEED this recipe!

After serenading Brit's Mom in Florida over the phone with the "Happy B-Day" song on our ukuleles, we got down to the serious part of the evening.....eating, drinking, gossiping and opening prezzies!
We're still celebrating Natalie's Birthday!
Faboo prezzies....some were handmade, all were divine!
Natalie gave Brit one of her beloved Troll Dolls
It was a great party!  I love my girl friends.  We always have the BEST time!  Merry Xmas, Sweeties!

Larry was lucky to partake of leftovers the next day.....chili and eggs!  Yum!

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Friday, January 18, 2013

That MLK Sweater

For the past couple of years I have been featuring Suzanne's MLK sweater on my blog in honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.   I will repeat this year with a bit more information.
Suzanne's Sweater Honoring the Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The sweater pattern is from "Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines."  The name of this sweater is "Margaret," designed for the book by Mary Neal Meador.  The instructions state that the sweater may be embellished after knitting with chain stitched quotations of the knitter’s choice.  The sweater in the book has poetry added to the front and back.
When I saw Suzanne's ("owlknits") sweater, I was touched by the words she chose.  This is from Suzanne's project page on Ravelry:

I knit this sweater for a local art exhibition that was organized to honor the ideas of Martin Luther King, Jr.  I used quotes from his “I have a dream…” speech to embroider on the front and back of the sweater: Front: Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. Back: The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the day of justice emerges.

I am still blown away by Suzanne's sweater and her choice of quotations.  Bravo!  Excellent work, Suzanne, honoring an eloquent man and his ideas!

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Want to Make That!

It has warmed up a bit in Los Angeles.  Instead of Low temps in the 30's and highs in the 50's, today it is close to 70 degrees.  I'm sure it will be chilly once the sun goes down, but the reprieve from the cold is lovely.  I know.  I know.  All of my friends in colder climes are rolling their eyes right now.
I've been thinking about crocheting and/or knitting a few more hats during this cold snap.  I've heard that you lose 30% of your total body heat through the top of your head!  Below are a few of my fave patterns found on Ravelry.

Hat with Squares
Waffle Stitch Winter Hat

Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  I've also been reviewing  heart-related patterns like these.
Simple Hearts

Hearts in Estonia No TV watching while knitting this beauty!
All of these gorgeous patterns and links can be found on Ravelry.  Not sure which ones I'll actually make, but I want to start them all!!!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Outdoor World...Inside


Before we left Las Vegas the other day we stopped at Outdoor World and Bass Pro Shop.  Wow!  This is the hugest building and collection of outdoor gear I have ever seen!  They stock everything for fishing, hunting, boating, camping and almost any other type of outdoor recreation gear you can think of.  The building looks like a traditional hunting lodge.  This is a chain.  We have one nearby in Rancho Cucamonga, but have never visited.

View from the Loft
This place is decorated like Disneyland.  There are entire landscapes with lions, bears, hunters, fishermen, rock climbers, real fish and more.  Every corner of this store is like a perfect Kodak spot to snap a memorable photo. 

Fish Pillows

I checked out the clothing section.  Since the weather has been so freezing lately, I could  always use another hoodie or some thick hiking socks.  I didn't find anything I liked, but I did find a very cool item in the fishing gear section.  I remembered that my friends, Mary Jo and Ana store their circular knitting needles in some sort of binder for fishing gear.  I looked around and found the Extreme Worm Binder.  It has plastic bags in a perfectly sized binder with a carrying case for my collection of circs!
The only thing missing at the Las Vegas store is a restaurant where we could have had a hearty bowl of venison stew.  I did some research and the store closer to us houses the Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant which offers venison stuffed mushrooms, alligator and many other gamey delicacies.  I see a field trip in our future to Rancho Cucamonga.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

More Classic Dining

OK, I've about had it with classic dining.  Now I understand why my parents' and grandparents' generation died waaaay younger than my generation.  Too much red meat, butter, creamy salad dressing and dessert.  Yowza!  We really indulged for Larry's birthday this past Saturday night.
While in Las Vegas, Larry, Jacquie, Bob and I had dinner at the Golden Steer Steakhouse in Las Vegas (1958).

We'd read about the Golden Steer in Pete Moruzzi's book, "Classic Dining."  His descriptions of this place hold true.  Here is what Pete says on the back cover of his book, "Over time, the softly lit wood-paneled interiors, starched tablecloths, curved booths, tuxedoed captains, and table side service that once defined classic continental-style fine dining have gradually disappeared. Equally, the number of historic restaurants filled with character and old school ambiance dwindle with each passing year. Yet vestiges cling to life in cities large and small. Through vivid new photography and vintage material, Classic Dining celebrates the great mid-century restaurants that continue to thrive in New York, Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas, the Chicago area, Los Angeles, and across America. Includes a current directory of over 200 classic restaurants in cities from all 50 states."
Caesar Salad Prep, table side

The Golden Steer has ALL of the above.  The decor is warm and cozy, the waiters wear tuxedos and the food is served beautifully.  We had enough leftover for lunch the following day!
Even though the prices were high, the service and food were divine.  Also, they did NOT charge us to split orders.  They also did NOT charge for Larry's faboo birthday cake including the fireworks!  Wow!  What a classy place.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Two Sides to Every Story

On Saturday, while in Las Vegas with our friends, Jacquie and Bob, we visited the Mob Museum, downtown L.V.  They call it the MOB Museum, but it is housed in the former Las Vegas COURTHOUSE.  There are detailed exhibits telling the story of organized crime AND organized law enforcement as it relates to the history of Las Vegas.  Tagline....there are two sides to every story!


WOW!  What a great museum.  We thought we'd be in and out of there after about an hour.  It took us more than two hours to see all of the interactive exhibits, short films, photos and props.  This Museum is very professionally conceived.  If you visit, it might be a good idea to start in the morning, then walk to Fremont Street for lunch and go back in the afternoon to finish up your visit.

We're not big gamblers and we haven't gone to a Vegas show in years.  There are PLENTY of great activities in Sin City to amuse.  We had a wonderful weekend thanks to our gracious hosts,  Jacquie and Bob.  They know where the locals hang out!

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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery