Thursday, January 31, 2019

Rainy Day Weather Food

My autographed copy of "Cookin' With Queen Ida"

It rained in Los Angeles today. We expect more showers in the next few days. This is not great news. We recently suffered from terrible fires in Northern and Southern California. The fires burned many of the trees and vegetation on the hillsides. If we have torrential rains, all of that mud will be sliding down the hills! I have friends and family living in burn areas. They are on a sharp look-out for mudslides. If all goes well, we'll just have some gentle rain. Luckily, Larry and I live in the flat-lands. We rarely encounter flooding in our neighborhood.
When the weather is cold and dreary like this, I like to cook something hearty, warm and comforting for dinner. Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday. Even though we're not particularly sports fans, we usually have the game on in the background. Of course, we watch the commercials.
This Sunday, I haven't decided if I should make chicken and sausage gumbo, beef stew or pea soup with ham for dinner. I'm leaning toward gumbo. Decades ago I received a copy of "Cookin' With Queen Ida." Queen Ida is a Zydeco musician from Louisiana, although she's lived in the Bay Area for ages. I always use Queen Ida's gumbo recipe and her bread pudding recipe. Both are foolproof.
In the early 90's Larry and I, along with a group of friends, used to go to Zydeco dances at Verbum Dei High School in South Los Angeles. Queen Ida and her band were performing at one of these dances. I brought my cookbook with me to see if she would autograph it. Lucky me! She signed my cookbook and asked which of her recipes were my favorites. We had a nice conversation about food. She's a lovely woman.
Ellen, Queen Ida and Miss Patti. I'm holding my signed cookbook! 1991, Verbum Dei H.S.
I'll probably make some cornbread to go with the gumbo and serve it all with a leafy green salad. Thank you for decades of great recipes, Queen Ida!
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Ukulele Will Enhance Your Life

My life has changed quite a bit since I started playing the ukulele. I've been playing actively for over 12 years, but only in the last 3 years have I been playing consistently with the Ukulele Workshop at Boulevard Music in Culver City, led by musician Cali Rose. The workshop is great. There are anywhere from 6 to 12 people in the group. We all bring in songs from different sources. After we analyze a song, we work on embellishing it with intros, outros, chord substitutions, etc. It's a group effort, led by Cali. We really do have a good time. We have members who have only just graduated from the beginners class and people that have been playing for years. It all works out. Cali structures the classes for all levels.
Here are some of our group photos during the last few years:
Natalie! Come back! We miss you!

In between all of those weekly workshops, I also attend ukulele festivals around the country. I've been to festivals in Palm Springs, Torrance, Port Townsend, WA and am looking forward to one this year in Las Cruces, NM. I also try to drop in on The Pluckin' Strummers every once in awhile, cross-town, in Atwater. This is a jam group, playing songs mostly from the Jim and Liz Beloff ukulele song books. The group also offers arrangements for more modern songs. I've met so many ukulele players from different backgrounds. 
My ol' pal, Ruth just started Cali's beginning uke class at Boulevard Music. Ruth and I have many common interests, including jazzy eyeglass frames, costume jewelry and mid-century architecture of Los Angeles. I'm hoping that Ruth graduates to our Workshop soon so we can explore Googie coffee shops for lunch after class!
Ruth and Cali after Uke Class (photo by Ruth)
Our upcoming Ukulele Workshop starts on February 16th. Call Boulevard Music and join us!

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Evil Eye

Natalie in her Evil Eye Mitts

What is the EVIL EYE? Wikipedia has a concise explanation: "The evil eye is a curse or legend believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they are unaware. Many cultures believe that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury. Talismans created to protect against the evil eye are also frequently called "evil eyes." The Evil Eye is also an act of protection. But it is not just defensive, it is also an act of aggression, of willful gazing, of not turning away.
Whenever my sci-fi-lovin' husband sees a big eyeball, he yells out "Mind Control!" The image of an eye is often used in stories to hypnotize or control a person's mind. #twilightzone 
This particular glove is a modified version of the "Evil Eye Glove" by Kat Coyle and promoted by Krista Suh in honor of those killed in the Parkland, Florida school shooting. These gloves were worn for the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2018, as well as for other protests and marches against gun violence.
I see it as a STOP to whatever you happen to be against that day. The eyeball is on the inside of the glove so you can hold up your hand in the stop gesture.
Kat's pattern is knitted. I saw a lovely little granny square mitt on Instagram by @cicibiciorgu.  The photo was tagged for a group I follow called Granny Square Therapy. Since all the info was in a foreign language, I could not find a pattern, so I enlarged the photo and figured it out!
The pattern for the eyeball applique was found here
I liked these gloves so much, I made a pink set for myself, sans the evil eye!
Ellen's Granny Square Mitts

Natalie can be rather dramatic at times! I'm glad she likes her mitts.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

KnitGrrlz Belated Xmas

We have a few jet-setters in our group, so we celebrated Christmas a bit late this year. Sunday was such a fun-filled day with my KnitGrrlz aka Bad Girls Club! Even Carla was in town to help us celebrate! Thanks to Valecia for coming over too. It was quite festive!
Larry was such a doll to put up with all of us!

We started out with our traditional bagels, lox, whitefish salad, fruit salad (thanks for bringing the fruit, Brit), blanched asparagus and crudités, along with coffee and mimosa. 
L-R: Natalie, Mary Jo, Darcy, Ellen, Carla, Valecia, Brit, Alyson

Darcy brought some divine pasteles de natas from this little Portuguese bakery, Natas in the Valley and Alyson made the MOST delicious Grand Marnier cake for Natalie's birthday! 

The main event is always the gift exchange! Oh my! Everyone goes kinda' nuts when it comes to presents!

We each received a little bed for our kitchen sponges (among other gifties). Larry has decided that it makes a nice perch for Ringo while he's telling his troubles to Dr. Edna. Ringo's biggest problem is that his drum kit is missing!

Of course, we had to take the obligatory group photo. This year I crocheted crowns for all of my princesses!

To view more photos of this Post-Xmas extravaganza, click on this LINK.

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Monday, January 21, 2019

Words to Knit and Live By

Suzanne's Sweater honoring the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This has become a tradition on "L.A. Is My Beat."  For the past eight years I have been featuring Suzanne's MLK sweater on my blog in honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I will repeat  again this year because I'm so in love with this idea and in awe of Suzanne's mad skills. 
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.  One day I will make such a sweater for myself.  Bravo!  Excellent work, Suzanne, honoring an eloquent man and his ideas! 

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Friday, January 18, 2019

New Year. New Projects.

Yes, I have numerous yarny projects on the back-burner. Sometimes I start a project, lose interest or come to a bump in the road and stick the whole thing in a bag and let it marinate. Over Xmas vacation, I picked up a few of those old projects and either finished them or ripped them out to re-use the yarn.
I've been seeing all kinds of tempting projects on Ravelry this January. It's still cold here in Los Angeles, by L.A. standards, that is. In the evenings, we require hats, gloves, scarves, etc. Here are a few patterns that I'm looking at. Pattern links in the photo captions.
The Coffee Beanie. Fun gift for a caffeine friend!
I LOVE these Log Cabin Mitts
A quick hat is always fun! Granny Stripes Hat
A ruana or kimono is always comfy for cool weather! Lucy's Kimono
The Annual Scrubbie Swap deadline is March 10th. I've been wanting to make this fried egg tawashi for ages! I think I'll make three for the swap this year!
Sunny Side Up Tawashi
I still have LOTS of pink yarn bought during last year's Yarn Crawl and at the Stitches Pasadena Marketplace. I haven't quite figured out what to make with this bounty yet. Probably, a poncho or cardigan.

What are you planning to crochet and/or knit this winter?

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

National Hat Day?

Apparently, National Hat Day is very popular! I wrote about it a few years ago. Click HERE to read about it!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Burgundy Willow Coat

Burgundy Willow

Over holiday vacation I finished a crocheted coat. I made most of this piece right after I finished my GG Cardigan last year, but I never crocheted the sleeves, edging or pockets. I was determined to complete this so I could wear it during the cold weather we're having right now. I didn't realize until I finished and tried it on that the coat was so long. I should have tested it and taken off a row of squares. Oh well! I like it and it's nice and cozy!
The GG Cardigan!

I used a size "H" crochet hook and Cascade 220 wool. Instead of crocheting basic granny squares for this coat I used the Willow Square pattern. It's a favorite of mine and looks fancy, especially in a solid color.
"Sam, You Made The Pants Too Long"

The sleeves are crocheted using double crochet stitches in the back loop. I decreased 2 stitches every row, under the arm until I got the desired circumference. After adding the border and collar, I found some burgundy buttons. I wanted an all-one look, no contrast. The buttons are just right.
Willow Square
I hope to finish up a few more projects started in 2018! What are you working on?

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019


Recently, my favorite coffee shop/restaurant in L.A., Pann's, refreshed their interior and exterior. The place has been painted, re-upholstered and generally spiffed up. You wouldn't notice it so much unless you're a regular customer. The owner, Jim Poulos, assured us when we visited Sunday that all the changes were brought back to the original colors and design. 

We used to LOVE visiting Pann's for dinner, but for more than a year now, Poulos has only opened the place during breakfast and lunch. I'm hoping the hours change once all of the development at Hollywood Park is completed.  Since we are usually so busy on the weekends, we haven't been able to see the new renovations at Pann's. On Sunday we took Mom for breakfast. Of course, the food was excellent. The place was bustling, but we were able to snag a booth after only a few minutes wait.
New Wall Sconce Light Fixtures. Photo by Larry Underhill

Original Clock (1958). Photo by Larry Underhill

Close-Up, Light Fixture. Photo by Larry Underhill

The most wonderful change for us was seeing the reproduction of the original wall sconces on the west end of the restaurant. The original clock has been there since 1958, but over the years the light fixtures on that wall were changed. Working from memories and the clock design, Poulos hired an artist to reproduce the sconces. He did an excellent job. The sconces are unique and fit in with the clock design.
There are so many other features in this Googie-style restaurant designed by the architectural team of Armét and Davis that are unique, including the plastic and resin panel in the waiting area depicting the senior Poulos' migration from Greece to Los Angeles, designed by Helen Liu Fong
Resin panel designed by Helen Fong
Congratulations on the update, Jim! Pann's looks great! We hope to return soon.
Mom, enjoying her coffee at Pann's

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