Friday, July 29, 2016

Helms - Adaptive Reuse

Helms Bakery Truck, 1955. Los Angeles

When I was a child, the Helms Bakery Truck would drive by our house in the afternoons and sound it's distinctive whistle/horn. If we were out playing on the street after school, we'd stop the truck, climb inside and look inside those beautiful wooden drawers full of pastries, doughnuts and bread. My Mom would usually purchase a loaf of bread or two. Sometimes, she'd buy sweets for us.
We rarely visited the actual Helms Bakery in Culver City. I do remember, in the late 1960s, going to the Helms Second Day shop on the edge of the main industrial bakery. This was a little store where you could buy day old goods...still fresh and delicious!
Today the main Helms Bakery building is still in use as a furniture store, restaurants and various other shops. It's called Helms Bakery District and is a delightful place to stroll around. This is an excellent example of historic adaptive building reuse. Inside the main building there's a restored Helms Bakery Truck, along with various furniture shops. On the side of the building you can view a mural about the history of the Bakery. 
Helms Bakery, 1941
I'm looking forward to going to Le Dijonaise CafĂ© tomorrow with my girlfriends for lunch. The restaurant occupies the south/east corner of the big building, right where the Second Day Shop used to be!
Le Dijonnaise at Helms Bakery

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

One Last Grand Celebration

I'm so looking forwarding to having lunch with my girlfriends (Natalie, Darcy and Brit) this coming Saturday. We will miss Mary Jo. She's traveling the world again!
After ukulele workshop, Natalie and I will meet Darcy and Brit at a lovely French bistro in Culver City. After our luncheon, we will move the party to Larry's (and my) house for cake and prezzies. Larry is hosting this portion of the party. We are having my childhood FAVORITE cake, Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake! I'm more of a savory and salty person. I like sweets, but would really rather have a good piece of fresh bread and butter! HOWEVER, Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake makes me swoon and I usually don't even like anything coffee-flavored! Valerie's Confections in Echo Park has recreated this recipe. Bless Valerie!
A gigantic bank building stands on the Blum's corner now

I tasted a piece of this divine cake last month at the Grand Central Market, DTLA. It was just as delicious as I remembered. In addition to her Echo Park shop, Valerie has a booth downtown at the GCM.
The Blum's Restaurant of my childhood was on the south-east corner of Beverly Drive and Wilshire, Beverly Hills. I really don't remember having a meal there, even though they were known for their sandwiches and salads. We used to go there specifically for dessert. I remember ordering a hot fudge sundae topped with honeycomb pieces and whipped cream! For fancy occasions, we'd order the Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake. You can see an interesting thread about the history of this cake here
Blum's Coffee Crunch Cake by Valerie's Confections

The interior of Blum's Beverly Hills was very deluxe. It was all cushy pink booths, gold and white swirly wall coverings and plush carpet. It was very close to the Beverly Drive Hamburger Hamlet. Maybe we had burgers at the Hamlet and THEN walked up to Blum's for dessert. Those were the days!
1959. Grand Opening of Blum's Beverly Hills. Actress Mona Freeman with Robert Beattie, president of Blum's BH. Herald Examiner, USC Archives Collection
See you Saturday, my Sweeties!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

WOW! What a Party!

We were lucky to be included in artist, Rhonda Voo's birthday party this past Saturday. It had been a hellish day for the weather. The Sand Fire in Santa Clarita was coloring our sky an other-worldly yellow color. There was smoke and ash in the air. It was humid. The atmosphere was dense. Miraculously, by sunset, the skies cleared and the evening breeze drifted into Mar Vista. It was a perfect night for Rhonda's party.
Rhonda and her husband, Eric live in a beautiful home in Mar Vista. A few years ago, architect Neil Denari remodeled and added on to the home. It has been written up in architectural journals, highlighted in films and appeared on television. When we first visited awhile back, the addition was painted a lovely pastel sea-foam green. NOW, the back of the home has been painted graphically in orange and pink! Wow! You can see early views of the home HERE
Larry was OVER THE MOON about Rhonda's birthday!

Roast Beef Snackage
The menu was divine, catered by FOOD on Pico Boulevard. The food didn't stop coming! There was a jazz trio playing French melodies. The mixologist invented special cocktails for the evening. Everyone was so friendly and happy to be included. The troubles of our country and the world were forgotten for a few hours. It was a lovely respite.
Fruit and Cheese Platter

Chinese Chicken Salad

At street level, the home looks ordinary, if a bit updated and sleek. You walk into the dining room and kitchen. There are bedrooms and bathrooms on this floor. At the end of the kitchen area is a staircase that leads down to the great room and yard. This is where most of the party took place. It's all so modern and beautiful!
Three Special Golden Birthday Cakes

So great running into my childhood friend, Lori

Our hosts, Eric and Rhonda

To see more photos of this terrific party, click on this LINK
Thank you Rhonda and Eric for a fabulous Saturday night!

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Monday, July 25, 2016


"Forest Bouquet" by Eyvind Earle

Even though it was super hot last Friday, I drove to triple-digit Glendale. I wanted to see the exhibit at the Forest Lawn Museum. The featured show is Eyvind Earle, painter and a Disney legend. He was most famous for painting backgrounds for Disney films. I was startled by the beauty and starkness of his paintings.
Looks like Sleeping Beauty's Castle to me!

"Monument Valley" by Eyvind Earle 

The exhibition was quite large and contained paintings as well as drawings and an informative film about Earle's painting process.  His landscapes seem other-worldly to me. They are so commanding! The exhibit runs through January 2017.
In the first gallery there are religious artifacts and beautiful stained glass windows. The gift shop offers a few interesting items. Also, the air-conditioning is arctic!
The Museum at Forest Lawn Glendale is one of the best kept secret museums in Los Angeles.  
Just driving through the memorial park is inspiring.  There are lovely gardens, statues, mosaics, chapels and more. It really is a peaceful, serene and beautiful place. Have you seen the movie, "The Loved One?"  A few scenes of that movie were shot at this cemetery, along with scenes at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills.  Also, the main founder of Forest Lawn, Dr. Hubert Eaton, was spoofed in this excellent film, based on Evelyn Waugh's book of the same name. 
Spoof or not, Eaton knew what he was doing when he created his various Forest Lawn Memorial Parks in California. The Parks are for the enjoyment of the living, not the dead!

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Southern Nights

The Hollywood Bowl in 1929

Southern nights

have you ever felt a southern night?
Free as a breeze
not to mention the trees
Whistling tunes that you know and love so.

-Allen Toussaint

We had our own little Southern Night at the Hollywood Bowl yesterday. The weather was humid and warm. We could smell the fragrant elderberry and fuchsia bushes in bloom. This was a celebration and tribute to the late, great Allen Toussaint. Toussaint wrote so many famous songs, including, Southern Nights, Java, Mother-in-Law, I Like it Like That, Fortune Teller, Working in a Coal Mine, Ruler of My Heart, Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky, Yes We Can Can, Right Place Wrong Time and MORE!

Many of those songs were performed expertly by the band, Galactic, special guests Cyril Neville, Irma Thomas, the Allen Toussaint Band with singer Erica Falls, along with Dr. John and his Night Trippers.

Cyril Neville

The Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas

Dr. John
We ran into a few friends, had yummy Shrimp Po' Boy sandwiches for dinner and generally had an excellent evening under the stars in Daisy Dell in the hills of Hollywood. I only wish Allen Toussaint, himself had been present to play and sing his own wonderful tunes.
"Muse of Music, Dance, Drama," WPA funded sculpture by George Stanley, 1938-1940

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Yesterday, Larry and I took a day trip to Ventura.  We've driven through this town hundreds of times, but never really stopped to explore.  It's a great little town! 
First stop was Anacapa Fine Yarns, located in a business park east of the ocean. A VERY nice shop with a great selection of yarn. I managed to spend a little cash here!
Seen at Grady's Record Refuge

Next on our agenda was Grady's Record Refuge. Larry managed to spend a bit of cash here. 
We stopped at Anacapa Ukuleles on our way downtown. This is a small, but adorable little shop. They ONLY sell ukuleles and uke accessories.  We both played this wonderful Ojai-made uke. It has a thinner body than a usual uke and is a slightly different shape, kind of like a dreadknot. I liked it a lot. It was EXPENSIVE.
We had lunch at a great fish taco place called Spencer Makenzie's Fish Company. It was crowded and the tacos were great.
We finally made our way to downtown Ventura. So many of the ancient buildings have been refurbished and now house coffee houses, boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and thrift stores. We had fun browsing in the many shops, including Jockamo Records. We spent a bit of time hanging out with Heidi at Jockamo. Her husband, R.J. Mischo, is a well-known harmonica player. We had a long conversation about our mutual, departed friend, Juke Logan and blues music in California. 
More antique shops and more walking around downtown. Of course, I managed to find a lovely deviled egg dish to add to my collection!
On our way out of town we stopped at Super Buzzy, a very adorable fabric and yarn shop. 
It was a lovely and exhausting day! Thanks for driving, Mr. Larry!

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Monday, July 18, 2016

TOO Busy!

Culver City

It was a jam-packed weekend! I'm on vacation this week and I think I tried to do too much the first few days!

Friday night Larry took me to the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City to see "Recorded in Hollywood," the musical about John Dolphin and his remarkable record store on Central Avenue, Los Angeles during the late '40s, '50s and beyond. It was excellent. The music and dancing were so entertaining! Thank you, Mr. Larry!

Saturday morning I met up with Natalie and Mary Jo at Boulevard Music in Culver City for our weekly ukulele workshop. We had a grand time, but I had to skeedaddle outta there to the El Segundo Slipt Stitchers Double-Ended Tunisian Crochet Workshop! I made it in a nick of time to scarf down my sandwich and participate in the workshop. 

We finished earlier than we thought we would, so instead of going home and resting like I should have, Lisa, Ana and I met our Santa Monica Yarnies at the Coffee Bean in SM for more afternoon crocheting.
I found Larry back at home and we zoomed over to the latest rage in Mid-City, Gus's Fried Chicken on Crenshaw and Pico. We were there relatively early on a Saturday, 6pm and the place was already packed! We had a delicious, quick dinner!

I had never been to one of Cali Rose's Kanikapila's (which is really a hootenanny / jam) at Boulevard Music. I thought I should experience this event. I zoomed BACK to Culver City for the second time on Saturday and communed with a few of my fellow-uke classmates. 

Cali provided many songs for us to play and sing. Toward the end of the evening about 6 or 7 people went on stage to perform their own songs. It was a fun evening.
Cali Rose

I'm not finished yet. There's more!
Sunday morning we had breakfast with Mom at The Nosh in Beverly Hills. I always look for Jon Voight when I'm there, because we've seen him numerous times over the years. Voight was picking up bagels when we arrived. He was on the phone though, so I didn't bother him. He's one of my fave actors.
Jon Voight, outside The Nosh, Beverly Hills

In the hot afternoon we drove out to the Northridge / Chatsworth area to see Lauren's, Eric's and Luke's new house and studio. I'm so happy for this sweet little family! They moved into a really nice house with a very professional recording studio for Eric's business, attached to the home. It was a plus to be able to hang out with Lauren's parents, Barb and Phil.
Lauren, Luke and Kelly


Phil and Barb

Grandma Barb made some yummy cookies!

THEN, last night I met Joan W. for dinner at Billingsley's! This was a pre-birthday celebration. Joan and I have been celebrating our birthdays together for decades. Dinner was delicious! Thank you, Joan.
Billingsley's famous Green Goddess dressing

OK, now I'm officially tired.

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