Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Day Brunch

It is traditional in my family to have brunch on Christmas Day. Even though we don't really celebrate Christmas (Chanukah is our holiday), but everyone has the day off from work, kids are on vacation from school and it seems like a perfect day to get together. In the old days, my parents would host my Mom's family for brunch or dinner on this day. I have continued this tradition, but in a much smaller way. Larry and I host Mom, good friends Rhoda, Audrey and Jeff.
We still serve our usual bagels, lox, white fish salad, etc. for brunch, along with gifties for everyone. It's a very fun afternoon. Thank you all for participating AND thanks to Audrey for bringing that delicious fruit salad and to Rhoda for bringing the most delicious rugulah from Diamond Bakery!
Jeff, Audrey, Larry, Rhoda and Roz

Larry's Namesake Novel
We all gave different gifties to each other. I LOVE all mine! Thank you everyone. Larry gifted me with the latest cooking craze, an InstatPot. I have to do much research, but I think I might like this appliance. I'd better like it, it takes up tons of room on our counter!!
Our newest appliance, the InstantPot

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Happy Holidays 2017

This is our official holiday card for 2017. Larry and I both have collections of S T U F F. This is part of our doll collection...our little family. Happy Holidays everyone!

Click on photo to see our "family"
Back row, L-R: Santa, Santa, Santa, Santa, Santa. Middle Row L-R: Billy Baloney, Bubblehead Barbie, Ellen, Larry, Ponytail Barbie, Little Rickey. Front Row: Hody!

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017


We're gearing up at Chez Bloom Underhill for this week's festivities. A few family members and friends are coming over for brunch on Christmas Day. I will be starting the food prep later in the week. Thankfully, I'm on VACATION now! Yippee! Plenty of time to shop for those last minute gifties, decorate the house and think about cooking for the big day.
Larry is outside right now working on our current outdoor light display. Every year, he puts up this metal contraption that he made to hang on our window valences outside. He decided to re-configure the design this year using LED lights. I can't wait to see what he comes up with. It's always a tasteful design, just outlining our windows and front door.
Inside is another story. After dusting and vacuuming, we'll put up our vintage aluminum tree, adorned with all knitted and crocheted ornaments.

Larry has a few new accessories for the tree this year. We have more plastic Santas, one of those color wheels and some more interesting lights that are projected onto the tree.

Every year my good friend, Suzette and I trade yarny ornaments for our trees. Years ago I decided to only put yarny ornaments on our tree. Thank you Suze, for SO MANY beautiful pieces! Here are a few glimpses of last year's tree.

This year, Suzette knitted a Santa Slug and the cutest little chicken. Even though the chicken is a year-'round accessory, I'm going to put Henny Penny on our tree! So cute!
Santa Slug, last year's Sock Monkey and Henny Penny, among other yarny ornaments
When I run out of traditional ornaments, I just stick some crocheted drink coasters on the tree. It's all so festive. Are you decorating your house?

1969. A wonderful internet find. Love that quilted housecoat and everything else about this photo!

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Monday, December 18, 2017

What a Weekend!

Paintings by André Rizé

We had many events to attend this past weekend. We're ALWAYS busy just before the holidays. This weekend was a whirlwind!
In addition to all of my usual daytime weekend activities, on Saturday we stopped by André's art opening at Organic Modernism on La Brea. André is Carla's son. Carla is one of my KnitGrrlz, since moved to Houston. We're lucky that she visits us in L.A. often! The show was called "Fire by Day with André Rizé," at this really cool furniture shop called Organic Modernism. The modern furniture was a perfect setting for André's artwork.
Photographer, Larry Underhill and Artist, André Rizé
ALL of André's relatives from Ohio, Illinois, Houston and points in-between showed up for the event. To see more art opening photos, click HERE
Three KnitGrrlz, Ellen, Carla and Mary Jo
Next stop, our annual holiday party at the Tam O' Shanter with our ol' rock 'n roll friends. The bar at the Tam is usually hopping during the holidays. There are roving carolers, fab decorations and cheerful people.
Tam O' Shanter Restaurant
Christmas Carols sung by professionals
King Cotton and his lovely wife, Ginger
We always have a great time at this yearly event. Thanks to Robbie and Brandon for putting us all together! To see more fun photos, click on this LINK
So fun running into Jace and Milena at the Tam!
The Carving Board in the bar at the Tam 'O Shanter is legendary!

The icing on the cake of our fabulous weekend was my participation in the Boulevard Music Holiday Show with the Ukulele Workshop Players, lead by our teacher, Cali Rose.
The Ukulele Workshop Players: Carol, Marlene, Cali, Joe, Debbie, Toni and Ellen. Photo by Michael Kohan

We performed four songs and had a really good time. It was so much fun seeing all of the teachers from the music shop perform too. Quite a talented bunch! To see lots of Larry's photos of the concert, click HERE

The audience was appreciative!
We have many more parties in the upcoming days. Oy! #needsleep

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Friday, December 15, 2017

WeHoHoHo Holiday Hat Party 2017

The West Hollywood Stitch 'n Bitch had a wonderful time last night at our Holiday Hat Party! We had yummy treats, prizes and lots of fun! Thanks to Jennifer for contributing some of her beautiful hand-dyed yarn for our prize bags! 
WeHo SnB Cruise Directors, Ellen in her Gift Hat and Natalie in her Xmas Sparkle Hat
Three participants sported some extremely festive and creative hats, Diane, Suzette and Meri! Congratulations, PRIZE WINNERS!
Diane crocheted 3 tiny, perfect hats and added them to a headband. JINGLE BELLS!
Suzette knit a Christmas Puddin' Hat!
Meri crocheted a delicious peppermint candy hat!
The Christmas Toy Soldiers from The Grove were featured guests!
Yes, once again we had a very fun and festive Holiday Hat Party. To see more photos, click on this LINK.
Photo by Denise

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Vintage North Hollywood

Valley Times Collection, 1964. Holiday Decorations at May Co., Laurel Plaza, 1955, designed by Albert C. Martin and Associates. Photo by Steve Young
Oh, those were the days of huge department stores decorated for the holidays! This was one of the largest May Company stores in Southern California. It was on Laurel Canyon in North Hollywood. Later, it became a Macy's. This is one extremely large piece of property. I've heard stories from a few of my friends that grew up in this neighborhood that they learned to drive in the huge parking lot when the store was closed.
In 2006 May Co. became a Macy's. Photo by David Crane, L.A. Daily News.
I would drive over the hill to this store once in awhile, when my own May Company or Macy's didn't have exactly what I was looking for. This store, because of it's size, always had a larger selection of various items.
Today, this store has been demolished. The lot will become a mixed use development, encompassing offices, movie theaters, shops, restaurants, parks and more. Read about it here
Eventually, all of Los Angeles will look the same. These mixed use developments are being built everywhere, especially along my Metro/Expo route from L.A. to Santa Monica. 
Welcome to Everywhere, U.S.A. 

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Monday, December 11, 2017


Chanukah 2017 starts tomorrow night at sundown, 12/12/17. We will light the menorah and sing a few songs. Chanukah is all about the oil. Here's a quick description why: The festival of Chanukah was established to commemorate the Jewish Maccabees' military victory over the Greek-Syrians and the re-dedication of the Second Temple, which had been desecrated by the Greek-Syrians, to the worship of God. Thus, Chanukah is a joyous celebration of Jewish national survival and religious freedom. When the Jews finished cleaning the temple for re-dedication, they wanted to light the eternal light, known as the N'er Tamid, which is present in every Jewish house of worship. Once lit, the oil lamp should never be extinguished. The Festival of the Lights, Chanukah, lasts for eight days to commemorate the miracle of the oil. The word Chanukah means "re-dedication". Only a tiny jug of oil was found with only enough for a single day. The oil lamp was filled and lit. Then a miracle occurred as the tiny amount of oil stayed lit not for one day, but for eight days.
My attempt at office Chanukah Decorations

In my family, since we are of Eastern European / Ashkenazi origin, we fry potato pancakes or latkes Jews with heritage from the Mediterranean or Sephardic countries also enjoy a dessert called Sufganiyot, which are doughnuts (usually filled with jelly), fried in oil. See? It's all about the miracle of the oil!
Here is my Mom's basic latke recipe:

Roz's Latkes
1 pound potatoes, peeled and grated (squeeze starch liquid from potatoes)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons matzoh meal
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
Oil for frying

Mix everything together and then drop the potato mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil.  Pat down into cake.  Fry on both sides until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels before serving with applesauce and sour cream.
I make the same basic latke recipe as Mom.  HOWEVER, over the years in the need to simplify this process, I've opted for frozen hash-browns (defrosted) instead of boiling, peeling, grinding and draining.  This cuts out about one hour of preparation.  Also, those lovely defrosted hash browns never turn purple!  Preservatives.  Yum.
Hanukkah Menorah Knit Dishcloth

My good friend, Rhoda makes her latkes more multi-cultural.  Instead of matzoh meal or flour, she adds Aunt Jemima's powdered pancake mix to the potato mixture.  You should see those puppies rise while frying!  Brilliant. 
Chanukah in Beverlywood with the Bloom and Schaeffer Cousins, 1962

However you celebrate, be joyful, grateful and don't forget to remember the Miracle of the Oil for the Festival of Lights!

To celebrate the season, I recorded this song for Neil Kramer's 12th Annual Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert. Neil is going to broadcast on Facebook LIVE, directly from under the world-famous Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center, New York on Sunday, December 17th, 8 pm, east coast time. On December 18th, he'll link the concert to his blog, so you can see and hear all of the wonderful songs. 

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Friday, December 08, 2017

My Fave Holiday Gift

Barbara Millicent Roberts

Time to concentrate on the upcoming holidays. When I was a child, I always wanted a new doll for Chanukah and/or Christmas. After 1959, my doll of choice was Mattel's Barbie Doll. Barbie came with lots of accessories and clothes. I LOVED the official Mattel clothes. Barbie was always extremely stylish! Later, there was the Barbie Dream House, her Fashion Shop, her Corvette and of course, let's not forget Barbie's most memorable accessory, Ken.
My Mom and Grandma Ethel made some Barbie clothes for me. Later, I made some myself!
I still have my Barbie dolls, along with their wardrobe and carrying case
I found some vintage photos of Barbie dolls on the L.A. Public Library photo archive page. Behold:
1965. Barbie's creator, Ruth Handler from Mattel, Inc. with Barbie and other toys created by her company
1964. Pam of Sun Valley, playing with her extensive Barbie and Ken Doll collection!
Have you made doll clothes lately for your favorite doll? Check out these books if you're looking for inspiration. They make a perfect holiday gift!

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Not Again!?!

Bel Air Fire, Stone Canyon Road, 1961. Photo by Jon Woods for the Valley Times.

One of the worst fires in my memory was the Bel Air fire of November, 1961. The Santa Ana winds were blowing, fanning the flames. So many homes were lost. My Aunt and Uncle owned a home in Bel Air and I remember my Uncle telling me that he was up on the roof with the home's Caretaker, both wielding garden houses to wet down the wood shingle roof and keep the sparks from igniting. It worked! Marvin and Louis save the house when so many structures all around them were damaged
LAFD, near the Bel Air Fire, 1961. Photo by Alan Hyde for The Valley Times
Click HERE to see KTLA-TV news coverage of the Bel Air fire.
As a direct result of the Bel Air fire, the City of Los Angeles initiated a series of laws and fire safety policies which included the banning of wood shingle roofs in new construction. There were also new laws about hillside brush clearance. Thankfully, these laws stand today. 
The high Santa Ana winds that we are experiencing now are REALLY fanning the flames in Southern California. We have numerous fires burning. Closest to us is the Skirball Fire in the Sepulveda Pass, threatening homes in Bel Air and surrounding areas once again! The 405 Freeway is closed in both directions. My office balcony has a view of the Getty Center, in the center of this fire. You can see all the smoke surrounding the white buildings on the hill.
Smoke and fire surrounding Getty Center, Bel Air. December 6, 2017
The air quality on the Westside of Los Angeles isn't great today. Stay safe. Proceed with caution.
Skirball Fire view from La Cienega/Jefferson Metro Platform. Decemeber 6, 2017

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