Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Year's Eve

Altered Dorothea Lange Image, "Dust Bowl Mother"
New Year's Eve is Amateur's Night.  If you're really a hard-core party-er, you'll be out drinking and dancing 'til dawn on ANY other night of the week except New Year's Eve!  This is what HBO TV host John Oliver says about New Year's Eve in New York:  "New Year's Eve is like the death of a pet, you know it's going to happen but somehow you're never really prepared for how truly awful it is.  New Year's Eve is the worst.  It combines three of the least pleasant things known to mankind:  Forced interaction with strangers, being drunk, 
cold and tired and having to stare at Ryan Seacrest for five solid minutes, waiting for him to tell you what the time is." 
Hahahahaha!  I agree.  Up until I was in my late 30's, early 40's, I used to LOVE New Year's Eve.  We always made elaborate plans for the evening....parties, music, fancy dinners and more.  Now that we've advanced in years, I find the whole evening a let-down.  For the last decade or so (with a couple of neighbor's parties thrown in), Larry and I usually go to an early evening movie and then dinner at an out-of-way, non-festive restaurant like our local coffee shop or Thai place.
This year we'll be doing more of the same.  We have a movie picked out at the Landmark, WLA that starts at 4:05.  Hmmmm?  Where to go for EARLY dinner afterwards? Afterwards, we'll stop by our neighbors' house and drink a toast to East Coast New Year's at 9pm. Perfect!
I found the vintage photo below in the L.A. Public Library photo archives.  We will NOT be with the gang on the Strip tomorrow night.  Ho Hum.
New Year's Eve on the Sunset Strip, 1968.  Herald-Examiner Collection

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Friday, December 27, 2019


A few of my Sascha Brastoff pieces

There's something about collecting ceramics. They can be dainty and take you back to a forgotten era of civility and refinement or they can be objects that you use daily. I've always had a fondness for all things ceramic. I collect sets of dishes, vases, figurines, salt and pepper shakers, outdoor pottery, candle holders, etc.
The Sascha Brastoff Showroom, 11520 West Olympic Boulevard, WLA.
Designed by 
architect A. Quincy Jones (1953)
One of my favorite collections is my pottery by artist, Sascha Brastoff. Brastoff lived in L.A. after World War II and designed pottery and sculpture during the late 40's, 50's 60's and early 70's. He had a store in West L.A. When I was a little girl, I remember my Mother taking me to Sasha's 'seconds' shop on Olympic Blvd. near Sepulveda, right next to the railroad tracks. This is where he sold his pieces that were slightly damaged or not perfect enough for the department stores or china shops. My Mother doesn't have any of her Sasha pieces anymore....I'm not even sure what she purchased during those days, I only remember walking around the showroom and loving all of the modern whimsical horses, fish, ballerinas, Harlequins, Eskimos, etc. that Sascha painted on his glazed pieces.

So, for the past 40 years, everytime I go to a garage sale, estate sale, thrift or antique shop I look for Sascha Brastoff pieces. They've gone way up in value, so I rarely find a piece I can afford now-a-days. I have various ashtrays, plates and ginger jars. My collection is not large, but I have a variety of designs. I'm still looking for the Polynesian tiki ashtray and the ballerina pieces I admired as a child. Sascha's pieces usually have a signature of "Sascha B." and a little rooster design on the back of the piece. There is a biography of Sascha B. that includes photos of many of his creations. I have the book and refer to it often for inspiration. 
Other artists (and disciples of Sasha's) during the same era, turning out some beautiful modern pottery, were Marc Bellaire and Georges Briard. I did inherit a gorgeous frosted glass serving platter from my Mother with decorations by Briard. I also have an ashtray with a Marc Bellaire design. 

Sascha Brastoff, working in his studio
If you see some great Sasha B. pottery and it's under $20, buy it for me! I promise to reimburse you!
My Poodle Dish is my favorite Brastoff piece!
I've added a few more pieces to my collection since taking the photos above. Thanks to Larry and my friend, Susan for keeping an eye out for me!

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Holiday Cards

In May 2019, we took a road trip and met some new friends

Each year, as a gift to our friends and family, Larry and I like to create a personalized  holiday card. We try to come up with some sort of current event that happened during the year. Sometimes, we just gather up some cool stuff in our house and have a photo shoot.
Together, we come up with a concept. I usually sketch out the idea and gather the photographic elements. Larry is the professional photographer, so he creates the card in Photoshop. 
Here are a few fun cards from past years:
2012, The ENDEAVOR spacecraft flew around town and The BIG ROCK was delivered to LACMA from the California  desert. We followed both through the streets of Los Angeles!
2014, Ukulele Obsession! We even created our own playlist for our upcoming "CD." Click on the picture to read the song titles!
2015. We snapped a photo of an old building on Santa Monica Blvd. and Van Ness in Hollywood and inserted our photo for an upcoming movie poster!

2017. A frantic year. We just looked around the house for all of the holiday stuff, gathered it and took a group shot!
2018. The devastating fires in California, especially Paradise, CA. Larry's family home was destroyed. A melancholy year, indeed. #CaliforniaStrong
My cousin, Myrna has saved ALL of our holiday cards since the early days...1990s. I must check out her collection and see what I'm missing.
Who knows what we'll come up with for next year. I must remember to keep track of events and places that we visit in 2020!  Happy Holidays to you!

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

ModCom Xmas Party 2019

The ModCom Holiday Party is always the third Monday in December. This year we convened at the Valley Relics Museum in the San Fernando Valley, between Reseda and Van Nuys. It was wonderful seeing old friends from the Modern Committee of the L.A. Conservancy. The Grilled Cheese food truck was just outside the door, serving up some yummy food.

The Valley Relics Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting and presenting the history of the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas in order to share with residents and visitors the stories of those who shaped the region and its role in its development.
So many wonderful signs and artifacts from old places around the Valley are stored and displayed here. It's a feast for the eyes. You MUST visit

The Museum is also a grand place to hold a party! On Monday, we saw friends that we haven't seen in years! There was a live band, Justeen, the strolling ukulele Lady and more!
Celeste, Adriene, Marjorie, Ellen and Justeen
To see more fab photos taken by Mr. Larry Underhill, click HERE

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Saturday, December 14, 2019


Tomorrow, Sunday is our performance at the Boulevard Music Holiday Show. Cali Rose's Ukulele Workshop has been practicing for weeks and we sound GREAT! We are so lucky to have the CC Strummers bass player perform with us, Tom Kuwata. Tom keeps us in the pocket!
U-Bass Player, Tom Kuwata
Our group opens the show at 7pm. We have about 4 songs that will get you in the holiday mood!
Last week's practice in the music store
We practiced downstairs in the music store last week. The shop transforms into a concert venue on the weekends. ALL of the guitars and other instruments are stored away and seats are set up for the audience. The stage is cleared, microphones, amplifiers, lights are set up and the performance begins!
After our appearance, many of the instructors at Boulevard Music perform. The professionals take over and it's magic! 
Here we are at last year's performance:
2018 Ukulele Workshop Xmas Performance, singing our hearts out!
I do hope you will join us Sunday night!

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Friday, December 13, 2019

The Ostrich Farm

Cawston Ostrich Farm, South Pasadena, CA 1921
I found a photo in my Grandma Ethel's album that I just love. From left to right, Grandma Ethel, Uncle Mort, Baby George (my Dad, looking cranky), and Grandpa Lawrence.
It seems that Cawston Ostrich Farm was quite a tourist destination. You can read about it here. I was researching it on the web and found a Flickr photo of this lady's family at the Ostrich Farm too. THEN, I came across this page
Here are some more great vintage photos of the farm:

I've heard that this original building at the Ostrich Farm has been turned into loft condos! I wonder if there are any old feathers in the rafters?

Have a wonderful weekend! Too bad we all can't meet at the Ostrich Farm for a picnic!

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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Chanukah Prep

1956.  Chanukah in Hollywood.  Cousins, Sasha, Ellen, Denny and Kenny

Chanukah begins close to Christmas this year, at sundown on December 22nd.   Traditionally, you are supposed to eat foods prepared with oil for the Festival of Lights. The story of Chanukah that explains many of the customs is here. Another popular food for this Festival of Lights is sufganiyot, or little jelly-filled doughnuts, fried in oil (of course). I became familiar with this custom later in life...it's a delicious Israeli or Middle-Eastern recipe.

When I was a kid, we usually celebrated Chanukah at Grandma and Grandpa Bloom's house in Hollywood.  Grandma Ethel used to write all of her grandchildren's names in some sort of white paint on the mirror over the decorated sideboard in the dining room.  We would light candles, play games and eat Grandma's delicious fried latkes (potato pancakes)., along with brisket, chicken and more.  Grandpa used to give each of us a shiny silver dollar as our Chanukah gift.
1958.  Chanukah in Riverside at Aunt Betty's and Uncle Hi's Home.  The Bloom Cousins with Grandma Ethel
In later years we'd have our family Chanukah party at Uncle Hi's and Aunt Betty's house.  Aunt Betty's latke recipe was probably the same as Grandma's, but Aunt Betty deep-fried her latkes instead of just pan-frying them.  Yummmers!  We used to call them "Kentucky Fried Latkes."
"Kentucky-Fried" Latkes
Once in awhile, my Mom made latkes at home too.  I remember my Dad getting out this antique meat grinder that he would clamp to the carving board.  After Mom pressure-cooked the potatoes, Dad would peel them and run them through the grinder.  This was a messy process.  There was always lots of starchy liquid that had to be drained from the grated potatoes.  Often, the grated potatoes would turn a purple color unless Mom and Dad remembered to sprinkle them with lemon juice.  

Here is Mom's basic Latke Recipe:
1 pound potatoes, peeled and grated *
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
Mom always used her electric frying pan to fry the latkes

Mix everything together and then drop 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.
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. 

If you'd like to simplify the latke frying process even MORE, zip over to Trader Joe's and buy a couple of boxes of their frozen potato pancakes.  Follow package directions.  Yes, they are positively delicious! 

Monday, December 09, 2019

Yarny Holiday Gifts

Yikes! I'd better start on my holiday gifties NOW! I waited a bit too long this year, deciding what I was going to make for a few friends, so now I need some yarny gifties that are QUICK to crochet and/or knit. Here are a few that I like. Links are in the captions.
Khaleesi's Dragon Scale Mitts for my "Game of Thrones" fan friends
Ellen Silva's Checkbox Cowl. Photo by Gale Zucker
Not sure where I saw this crocheted hat, but I could figure it out from the photo!
Crochet Reindeer. I like to have a few ornaments on hand
EVERYONE needs a disturbin' Turban! Turban Twist by Bernat

A few years ago I made Pussy Hats for my girlfriends. The previous year I made beards for everyone! Another year, bandeaux of blooms were all the rage. Beehive beanies were my obsession too! Be sure and click on all those links to see my cute friends in all of their yarny glory! 
Are you making gifts for your friends this holiday season?

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Sunday, December 01, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

Photo by Julia Ronney
Photo by Larry Underhill

For the second year in a row, we trekked out to Valencia for our family Thanksgiving feast! Thank you VERY MUCH to Cousin Carolyn for hosting us. There were 23 of us for dinner  this year!  We all contributed to the meal and it was SPECTACULAR and DELICIOUS!

I'm not shy!

Yam Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Turkey, Gravy, Green Beans!

Aunt Roz couldn't attend this year, because she took a spill a few days before and just didn't feel up to it. She will be fine, no broken bones. We missed her and we really missed Carolyn's husband, John, who passed in May. We said our thanks and a toast to those who were absent.
Alfredo, Laurie in the background, Amelie, Avery, Liz and Ellen's nose

Amelie, Karen and Mira have a laugh

Our usual host, John, was dearly missed!
To see MORE photos of this joyous family feast, click HERE
Carolyn and her nephew, Doug
Sisters, Janet & Lauren with the immortal Auntie Mae (102)

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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery