Friday, December 30, 2016

Chanukah, Through the Years

We blow out the Shamas (helper) candle every night and only burn it fully on the last night. It's a family tradition.

January 1, 2017 is the last night of Chanukah this season. This is the first time in years that Chanukah and Christmas have collided. I like it better when the holidays are separated by a week or two. In our house, we celebrate both holidays. Having the two at the same time makes menu planning rather confusing.
Chanukah, 1956. Hollywood. L-R: Sasha, Ellen, Denny, Kenny

We always celebrated Chanukah with the Bloom side of my family. In the early years, we would gather at Grandma Ethel's and Grandpa Lawrence's home in Hollywood. Grandma would cook brisket, kasha with varnishkes, latkes with apple sauce and sour cream and some sort of vegetable. I remember Grandma writing the names of each grandchild on the mirror over the sideboard. After lighting the candles on the menorah and reciting the prayer, Grandpa would give us each a shiny silver dollar.
Chanukah, 1958. Ethel Bloom with her grandchildren, Riverside, CA

In later years, we would always gather at the home of Aunt Betty and Uncle Hi. All of the Aunties and Great Aunties would contribute to our traditional dinner. Aunt Betty's "Kentucky-Fried" latkes were legendary!
Deep-fried and delicious potato latkes
Chanukah, 1962. The Bloom Cousins. Beverlywood, CA
This year, I plan to cook our traditional Chanukah dinner AFTER the last night, coinciding with the KnitGrrlz annual holiday party on January 7th. We'll be enjoying brisket, potato latkes with applesauce and sour cream, some sort of healthy green vegetable to counter-act all the salt and high-cholesterol foods, maybe candied carrots, salad and a decadent dessert.
Yum! Brisket of Beef
I wish you all the best at Chanukah and health and happiness in 2017.  May your latkes be light and your brisket be tender! L'Chaim!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Drink-A-Long BEFORE December 31st

Want a chance to win a cool knit pattern book, some yarn and other goodies? It's easy. All you have to do is either print out a photo of the book, "Drop Dead Easy Knits," above OR  print out a photo of the cork coaster, below, take a photo with your yarny project and upload it to Instagram.  
Through December 31st, post your drink and the coaster or book with your KNITS. Use this hashtag: #DropDeadEasyKnitsDAL. Post it on Instagram. The authors of this fab book, Gale Zucker, Mary Lou Egan and Kirsten Kapur will pick names of Instagrammers out of a hat and send goodies to the lucky winners.
Crocheting a tissue box cozy and enjoying a refreshing glass of cucumber spa water

If you live near me, stop by the West Hollywood Stitch 'n Bitch at the Original Farmers Market, 3rd and Fairfax, this coming Thursday night, December 29th, 7-9 pm and I will give you a genuine cork drink coaster with the Drop Dead Easy Knits logo for your photo.
Working on an afghan with a cup 'o hot tea

Photo by Ana Petrova of the mysterious Peruvian Yarn Goddess, enjoying a chai tea latte

Hurry!  Enter now to win cool prizes. Don't forget the hashtag #DropDeadEasyKnitsDAL. Check out some Instagram photos HERE

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Holiday Gathering 2016

The Brunch Bunch convened at our house on December 25th for a yummy repast. Traditionally, for over 60 years, my family has celebrated the day with bagels, lox, cream cheese and all the fixings. Sunday was no exception. Roz, Rhoda, Lisa, Audrey, Jeff, Larry and I celebrated once again.

We had mimosa, our traditional brunch, Rhoda brought DEEEE-LICIOUS rugelach from Diamond Bakery for dessert. It was a FEAST!

Of course, there were presents too. 
Roz and Rhoda

Jeff and Audrey

We had lots of laughs and a wonderful day. Thank you, everyone for contributing to our feast and fun.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chanukah & Xmas!

The decorations are going up at the house. We're gearing up for family and selected friends to come over and celebrate!
The Cards are Rollin' In!
Thank you for sending cards by snail mail, family and friends. They are all SO festive!  Larry put up our vintage aluminum tree and the outside lights the other night. Thanks to Suzette and others for gifting us with so many beautiful yarny ornaments!
Santa is all lit up! We're looking for a few of our vintage, garage sale decorations!  They're hiding somewhere!
The gifts are wrapped and ready to rip apart!

We'll also be celebrating Chanukah this weekend!  The menorah is cleaned and ready to go. One of my co-workers received a festive Chanukah sweater from his assistant, Denise. SO CUTE!
Steve's Chanukah Sweater

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2016 Holiday Card

It was all about the Metro Expo Line to the beach for us in 2016. It was the most exciting thing, to have rail line from close by our house all the way to Santa Monica!  Yippee!
We love the artwork of Daniel Gonzalez , "Etched in Memory."  Each plaque is different and tells the history of the surrounding area.

Happy holidays to all of our family and friends!

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert

2016. Photo by Larry Underhill

I met Neil Kramer through the innernets, through mutual friends. At the time, Neil lived in the L.A. area. Eventually, we met in person. I've met many other people through Neil, online and in person. Neil is a talented writer and great, all-around guy...a mensch! 
Every year since 2006, Neil has been hosting this online holiday concert. His "friends" send him links to videos of them singing or reciting with their families. Solo performances are also linked up. I participated in 2006 when I first started playing the ukulele. I thought it was time that I sent in another video. My ukulele chops haven't really improved much since 2006. My hair has turned silver and Larry's video skills have gotten sharper. Larry is also very good at accompanying me on the percussive jingle bells!
Here's a LINK to Neil's blog and the entire concert.
You can check out my video here. Thanks, Cali Rose for the sheet music - "L.A. Jingle Bells."

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Costume Jewelry Tree

Proud Artist with her Costume Jewelry Christmas Tree. Photo courtesy of Pinterest

I've been to thousands of thrift and antique shops in my day and plenty of garage sales too. I always get excited when I see a Christmas tree made from discarded costume jewelry! Naturally, I've never purchased one of these pieces, believing that I could make one myself from the drawers of old and broken costume jewelry I own! I have never made one, but that may change for next year.
Clever placement of all rhinestone costume jewelry

It seems that the construction of these junk jewelry trees was a popular craft decades ago. Ladies would save up their broken and discarded pieces of costume jewelry and then get together and pool their resources. Some of the trees are very elaborate, some are simple, but all are sparkling!
This tree is particularly elegant! Click on pic to embiggen
Here are the items you need to assemble your own piece: Jewelry tool set; pair of tweezers, strong craft glue, felt or black cotton/velvet scrap fabric, shadow box frame, junk jewelry, beads, etc. Back the velvet with cardboard so that it will fit inside your fancy frame. Place the jewelry on the velvet in a pleasing tree shape. Glue it all down. The pictures can be as large or small as you'd like! You could also punch holes in the cardboard and fabric and add tiny lights!
The more ornate the frame, the better!  Have you been saving your junk jewelry?  Get out the glue gun!

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Friday, December 16, 2016

More Pre-Holiday Fun

Tree at the Farmers Market. Look at those adorable little shopping basket ornaments!

Saturday was our last daytime West Hollywood Stitch 'n Bitch meeting of the year. We meet on the second Saturdays of every month at the Original Farmers Market, 3rd and Fairfax, in the upstairs dining area from 10:00 am to noon. It's a small, but lively group! 
We had a mini-holiday celebration this past Saturday. Suzette and I have been exchanging knitted and crocheted items for a few years. This year we made each other tree ornaments. I must say, Suzette outdid herself this year! She knitted the Tiny Sock Monkey ornament for me. I shall call him Julius. He is so adorable!
Julius at the Farmers Market
Julius at Suzette's House
I cannot wait to put up our tree this weekend so Julius can hang out with all his other knitted and crocheted ornament friends!
Suzette also gifted Larry and I this fancy box o' chocolates. Yum!
I crocheted a Christmas Bauble ornament for Suzette. This pattern is really a cozy for damaged holiday ornaments, but I didn't have any so I just stuffed it with fiberfill.  I like it squishy!
Christmas Baubles

It was recently Vickie's birthday, so I crocheted a mini-tree garland for her office. Vickie decided to wear the garland as a necklace. Cute idea! I may have to copy her.
Vickie's Tree Garland Necklace
It's finally winter in Southern California. It has been cold, windy and rainy. Yay! We have LOTS to do before Christmas and Chanukah arrive next weekend.  Have a safe and happy weekend, my friends.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The C.C. Strummers Holiday Concert

Culver City Senior Center

I took the day off from work yesterday to attend the C.C. Strummers Holiday Concert at the Culver City Senior Center. Cali Rose, the leader of our Ukulele Workshop at Boulevard Music is also the leader of the C.C. Strummers. A few of the Strummers are in our workshop too. If I didn't have this pesky job, I'd join the group!
I'd only driven by the Culver City Senior Center, never ventured inside. Nice building! Most impressive too. There is a lovely courtyard and many different meeting rooms. The show was in the large auditorium, festively decorated for the event.
Foyer of Culver City Senior Center
I saw a few friends tuning up before the show. The house was packed! SRO!
Cathleen and Friend
The show was excellent! There were a variety of tunes with audience participation, which is always fun. There were some surprises along with the Christmas Classics, including the novelty songs, "Hanukkah in Santa Monica" and "I Wanna Hippopotamus For Christmas." The hula dancing class at the Center entertained for a couple of numbers. There were line dancers and even Island Santa was there!
A portion of the Band - 60 strong!
Island Santa spreading  the Aloha spirit!
It was a very enjoyable show. Everyone had a good time. Nice job, Cali Rose!

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Monday, December 12, 2016

A Most Unusual Home

This past Saturday Larry and I drove over to Los Feliz for an L.A. Conservancy Volunteer special tour of the Sowden House. I visited the house over 30 years ago when it was in less than perfect condition. I was delighted to see it again. 
Here is a description of the house on the L.A. Conservancy website:
The Sowden House was designed by noted architect Lloyd Wright, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright, for his friends John and Ruth Sowden. The Sowdens, who were part of the Hollywood film scene, wanted a house that would accommodate lavish parties and entertaining, and they encouraged Wright to create a distinctive showplace.
The distinctive front gate to the Sowden House

With a design incorporating patterned concrete blocks similar to those of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “textile block” houses (on which Lloyd collaborated), the house’s dramatic appearance envokes a sense of mystery and exoticism.

The dining room, looking toward the kitchen

The street-facing façade is arranged in a stepped pyramid configuration that emphasizes the home’s central entrance. Visitors pass through copper gates with a stylized leaf-and-water motif and ascend the scissor-style stairs to the main entrance.
Inside, the house is rectangular in plan, with four connected wings around an enclosed central courtyard. This space was originally designed for open-air gatherings and musical or dramatic performances.
Looking toward what was the stage, now the master suite, from the courtyard

The house underwent a substantial renovation in 2001 that updated lighting, plumbing, and electrical systems and repaired many of the deteriorating concrete blocks. A swimming pool and spa were also added to the courtyard. Several rooms were reconfigured, though the home’s original façade has remained intact.
Vintage view of the courtyard before the pool and jacuzzi were added

It was really interesting walking through the space. It seems that the house is for sale, quite a steal at just over $4 million.  This includes another house, right next door!
A portion of the bookcase slides into the wall to reveal a hidden closet area
The floor plan is rather odd, due to the configuration of the lot. It's like a fancy shotgun house!
Click on floor plan to make big

The remodeled kitchen is the best room in the house
The grand living room with LAC Volunteer, Sandra
I must say, the house is very impressive, but I don't think I would want to live there. Give me a little cozy cottage around the corner. The Sowden House is the opposite of cozy!
Larry and Ellen reflected in the mirror over the master bed
There are many stories about this house, including this one! The story may or may not be true. You be the judge. I can definitely envision spooky things going in this house!
Garages and back entrance, off the alley. Even the alley entrance is grand!
Some added color to the darkness of this home was this volunteer's gorgeous cloche hat!

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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery