Wednesday, December 17, 2014

8 days before Christmas....

Oh by golly,
these 10 things are making me holly jolly...

1. Picking up $30 in the street.

2.  Finding the perfect gift for the Duke of Earl.
 I hadn't had a clue as to what to give him 24 hours before going to the estate sale, where I scored a gift that is going to knock his socks off.
(Do you ever go to estate sales?  If not, you should give it a try.  It's a treasure hunt with potential bargains, and a great way to recycle.  And for me, they are also a poignant reminder that my stuff's value is only in the significance I place on it.  Here's a link to the estate sale site I use to find sales near me.
 Remember in light of the world's diminishing resources, "any attempt to recycle instead of buying new is a foot on the brake instead of the accelerator". 

3.  An owl in our backyard.

4.  The monarch butterflies in our gardens. 
 Oh my gosh, the milkweed I planted and let have its way, is working passed my expectations.  We have monarchs in every stage of their life in the garden all the time now.  Plant some milkweed, you will not regret it.
Did you know that the average caterpillar has 248 muscles in its head?  Who counts these things?

5.  The Christmas tree in the lobby of the Grand California Hotel at Disneyland.

6.  The Santa Fe Cranberry Salsa at Rutabegorz Restaurant.  
It's their 44¢ appetizer for December.  It is served with tortilla chips.  If you live in SoCal, Ruta's is a great place to eat.

7.  My December tablescape,
 which I put together with no new purchases...other than the candles of course.  
I can't get a good shot of it, but here it is.

The mirror has a nice weathered look to it, because it is normally a garden mirror.  It was a hand-me-up from April several years ago and has lived outdoors ever since.  I'm liking it in the house on top of this cabinet so much, I think it will be an indoor mirror for awhile.

That's me reflected in the mirror, still in my robe.  I thought the morning light might help in catching the blend of all the tablescape's elements, but it didn't.

8.  Pope Francis.

9. Celebrating my Dad's 94th birthday. 
 ( However, I am not liking that the DMV continues extending his driver's license.)

10.  The rain we've been getting. 

For you readers who have young children, know that the Christmas' with your young children are going to be the happiest ever for you.  I hope you enjoy every magic moment.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

sticky fingers: stealing* from ANTHROPOLOGIE

*in the creative sense that it

posted by:  jennifer

while flipping through a recent Anthropologie catalog last month (making a dog ear corner every other page.... so many things from calling to me), i came upon a page where a table had been set for a feast.  and while looking at the picture, i knew that i had to make my own version of it come to life.  

the main thing on the page that jumped out at me was a bunch of grapes, hanging down from above.   suspended over the table.   i thought what a great idea.  have a hanging center piece.   table space is so precious.  

i decided to expand on the grape idea.  along with the grapes, i added eucalyptus boughs and
vintage rhinestone baubles.  

this is what i ended up with:

i loved the way it turned out.  in fact, after i took everything down, it just seemed something was missing.  so i returned the rhinestones above the table.   they are now hanging among the snowflakes.  

when i host book club next sunday, i plan on adding some greenery, maybe grapes again, or whatever strikes my fancy.     i highly recommend when decorating for a meal, if you don't want to use table space for your centerpiece, look up, and your probably won't look back.  

thank you anthropologie for letting me steal inspiration from you.  

as for my many favorite pieces of clothing from your store.... those were always acquired quite legally.  i am a good girl after all.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Beware of Cabazon dinosaurs!

This photo was taken in 1987.

We would pass by this huge sculpture, "Mr. Rex", whenever we were traveling on Interstate 10, in California near Palm Springs.  Nearby a second sculpture  named "Dinny" kept "Mr. Rex" company.
After repeated trips of children begging from the back of our van, "Can we  P~L~E~A~S~E  stop at the dinosaurs?", we finally did.

The dinosaurs were built as a roadside attraction by the then-owner of the Wheel Inn Cafe.  Claude Bell, was a Knott's Berry Farm sculptor and portrait artist, who wanted to lure travelers off of the interstate, to check out his dinosaurs.  He was hoping the curious would then remember that they were hungry, and would eat at his adjacent cafe.

Work began in 1964 on "Dinny", the first dinosaur. Bell, working essentially alone, used mostly salvaged materials to complete the 11 year building project. "Dinny", is an Apatosaurus (formerly known as Brontosaurus).  Back in the 1960's and 1970's there wasn't much going on along that stretch of windmills generating power, no outlet malls, no casinos, no Starbucks or Taco Bell.
The only focal points on that bit of desert landscape were the landmark enormous dinosaurs and the Wheel Inn Cafe.

"Isn't it strange and sad what time can do?" (from Liane Moriary's book what alice forgot)

Mr. Bell died in 1988 and his heirs sold "Dinny" and "Mr. Rex".

Fast forward to May, 2013.  We were zipping along the I-10 returning from a river trip, when my son-in-law pulled off the freeway at the dinosaurs.
Unbeknownst to us, the simple non-commercial attraction had changed.  It is now the "World's Biggest Dinosaur Gift Store".  And there is a fenced-in museum, which costs $9 for adults, and $8 for children.  
Add to this sad development, that the dinosaurs are now being used to promote a Young Earth creationist belief.  (As in, the dinosaurs were alive about 6,000 years ago.)

So the previous quick "get the wiggles out" travel break is now a get out your wallet stop.   And with every gift shop purchase and every museum admission you buy, you are supporting a religious group, you probably don't agree with. 
Travelers beware!

Claude Bell is probably spinning in his grave wondering how the evolution of his dinosaurs ended up like this.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Sunday, November 30, 2014

naming your elf: choosing a moniker for your shelf dweller

posted by:  jennifer

the last day of November... the eve of Orwell's arrival from the north pole.  
Orwell being the elf on the shelf who lives with us for a few weeks in December.

what?   your elf doesn't have a name?
well, we three who call this blog our own,  put our heads together and came up with a fun game to help you with your elfin name decisions.

i give you the elf on the shelf name chart:

naturally, you begin at start.
  from there, choose either nice or naughty.

from nice:
   sugar or spice
      from sugar:  
          dine or dig
              if you choose dine: your next choice is popcorn or bacon
                      if you end on popcorn, the ideal name for your elf is Orville
                      if you end on bacon, the ideal name for your elf is Wilbur

            if you choose dig:  your next choice is rock or fossil
                      if you end on rock, the ideal name for your elf is Jasper
                      if you end on fossil, the ideal name for your elf is Leakey

     from spice:
            walk or gather
                   if you choose walk:  your next choices are boots or bare feet
                        if you end on boots, the ideal name for your elf is Patton
                        if you end on bare feet, the ideal name for your elf is Gandhi

                 if you choose gather:  your next choice is bucks or beads
                          if you end on bucks, the ideal name for your elf is Trump
                           if you end on beads, the ideal name for your elf is Lennon

from naughty:
    stage or bedroom
       from stage:
            sing or dance
                  if you choose sing:  your next choice is alto or soprano
                      if you end on alto, the ideal name for your elf is Jerimah
                      if you end on soprano, the ideal name for your elf is Kermit

                   if you choose dance:  your next choice is Vegas club or yacht
                       if you end on Vegas club, the ideal name for your elf is Elvis
                       if you end on yacht, the ideal name for your elf is Magellan

        from bedroom:
                fashion or passion
                   if you choose fashion:  your next choice is leather breeches or loincloth
                       if you end on leather breeches, the ideal name for your elf is Fabio
                       if you end on loincloth, the ideal name for your elf is Tarzan

               if you choose passion:  your next choice is brain or brawn
                       if you end on brain, the ideal name for your elf is Newton
                       if you end on brawn, the ideal name for your elf is Claude

so.... who is arriving on your doorstep to spend the holiday season?  is it Wilber?  or Patton? or does your elf have a name already?  i know that my kids are looking forward to seeing what antics sneaky little Orwell will be getting into the is year.

happy last day of the month.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pippin vs. Granny Smith

In one corner:

we have an American heirloom variety, which originated in the late 17th or early 18th century, and was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson.   This is a very firm, tart, 
apple, which often has a rough skin and a brown collar (russeting) around the stem.

Let's hear it for PIPPIN.....

And in the other corner:

we have a hard, crisp, juicy apple, which originated in Australia in 1898.  Maria Ann Smith propagated this new cultivar.  In addition to harvesting apples, she produced many children, and thus the nick name of Granny Smith was born.
This is a sweet, light green beauty that has an excellent shelf life.

Give it up for GRANNY SMITH.....

May the best apple for baking, especially an apple pie, WIN!

I have used Pippins since my apple pie baking days began back in 1968.   I was able to buy Pippins in the Fall at all the grocery stores, probably for 39¢ a pound at one time.
Then, oh about, 10 years ago those Pippin apples couldn't be found as easily, and then I couldn't find them at all, anywhere.  I had to carry on with Granny Smiths.

The Grannies did the job, but not as well. They cook to a much softer texture.  Think chunky applesauce.  The Pippins hold their shape, texture, and apple flavor better when baked.

I missed my Pippins, but being an optimist, continued looking for them every autumn.  I was willing to lay my money down for those superior baking apples, but I could not purchase what was not available.

A couple weeks ago, daughter #2 and her family went to Oak Glen, CA to go apple picking.  On a lark, I said "If they have any Pippins, bring me some--".

The day after their outing, I received an email from April saying, "I have a 1/2 a peck of Pippins for you."  I hopped up and down with excitement.  And then I started planning my October, 2015 trip to buy Pippins at an Oak Glen roadside stand!  I figured a bushel of them would carry me through the apple pie baking months.

A couple days after taking possession of my cherished Pippins, I was shopping at Mother's Market and Kitchen.  As I loaded my cart with organic lettuce, broccoli, and bananas and was checking out the other produce offerings, I glanced down to a bin which, What!, which had 3# bags of organic Pippin applies for $2.99 a bag.  Honestly, I had not seen a Pippin in any grocery store--Whole Foods included--for years.  The Granny Smiths looking more pleasing had over taken the Pippins in the grocery store.
We just might be seeing Pippins again on a yearly basis though, due to rekindled interest in heirlooms.  Fingers crossed.

I made a Pippin pie Sunday, and I did remember correctly.  To me, there is a distinct, wonderful difference.  The Pippins bake to a much different texture, and have a more apple-y flavor.  More complex and just plain delicious.

I have recently come to realize that not everyone shares my strong enthusiasm  about Pippins.  And, that's o.k.

But if I am going to put my time into making an apple pie and Pippins are available, Granny Smiths will be knocked out of the crust in my kitchen.

Does anyone else know what I am talking about? 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and I hope along with your pumpkin pie, you will have  a slice of a Pippin apple pie too.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

a bit like skrillex... only not quite as hip

posted by jennifer:

holy shit balls!  i am going bald.  kind of.  

yesterday, when getting myself presentable before the afternoon pickups, i went to pull back my hair into a barrette.   i was shocked to find a kind huge bald spot behind my right ear.   i
mean truly, skrillex came to mind.  

you know skrillex.  i do because i am a wee bit hip and read rolling stone.  skrillex is a dj known for his bass drops.

me... well it appears i mostly am dropping several hundreds of hairs a day.  

now mind you, i had to leave to get the girls minutes after i made the discovery... so i didn't have time to do anything but start to worry.
  -brain tumor on the right side?
  -wacked out hormones (still a possibility)
  -what kind of wig will i get?  a realistic one... or a brilliant blue punky style. and if i do get
    a realistic one should i go with one with emerging gray hairs or just a rich brown?

driving to the schools, i had more time to think.... 

holy shit balls!

showing my husband when he got home from work.  
  me:  "i just discovered something kind of crazy"
  him:  "oh yeah"
  me:  "yeah.  i have a bald spot on my head"
  him:  "yeah.  tell me about it"....."is mine getting bigger"
     side note:  i don't even think his hair is thinning
  me: "no really.  look."
  him:  silence
  me:  " i told you."

calling my sister to tell her.  her "holy shit"  or something like that.  i love how she agrees with my freaking out.  then her telling me.   "don't google search it.  it is only going to freak you out."  she did the google searching for me.  called me back, and told me to stop running my hands through my hair.  "no really.  you need to stop."

you see, i have this habit of running my hands through my hair... when i am bored.  maybe when i am stressed. and in thinking about it, it is usually on the right hand side... behind my ear and upwards.  the last few weeks, a lot of hair is between my fingers after doing so.  i actually thought the other day  "i am going to go bald"  hahaha!  good one jennifer.  you were so right.  hahaha.  you see, i am laughing, because i want to cry.    

so now i have a list of things to try:
   cedarwood oil
   evening primrose oil
   rosemary essential oil
   lavender essential oil

and i have been doing all i can to not touch my hair.  i saw a sign today.  the san diego river runs through our city, and there is a sign near part of it that reads:  habitat restoration in progress   do not touch.    and i couldn't help but think of my head.  but switch out habitat for hair.

so um, yeah.  a bit like skrillex.... only not quite as hip.


Friday, November 7, 2014

faux fur and military jackets

posted by: jennifer

so, i have been totally inspired on the tote bag front lately.   it had been on my to do list for the past month.

  to do 10/2 - 10/10:
    - photograph/list remaining ornaments
    - decorate front arch for fall
    - planting in front yard
    - make 1+ tote
    - clean chicken coop

  to do 10/13 - 10/20:
   -chicken coop
   -start on halloween costumes
   -make 1+ tote
   -dentist appointment
   - blog post time mismanagement

  to do 10/21 - 10/31:
   -finish halloween costumes
   -make 1+ tote
   - clean chicken coop

do you notice a trend?  the tote bags never got crossed off the list.  (well sure, neither did the chicken coop... but one of the girls is now molting, so i think it is good i have waited.  all those feathers!)

but, this past week, i am now getting very little done but tote bags.  and i wanted to share.
i have made 3 new totes in the past week!  sure, the house is suffering a wee bit, but you can't deny the creative juices when they start to flow now can you?  i say no.

i am so please with how this tote bag turned out.  the colors, the textures, the contrast.  
i used scraps of a scrap of an antique crazy quilt, vintage clothing labels... all great britian referenced, and some super soft and cozy faux fur.  i call it "great britian glamour" .  as i was making it, i thought, if scotland had broken away from being part of great britian, i wouldn't have been able to use the mac intyres of strone argyll label.  i am glad i was able, because i think it looks fabulous next to the pride of england label.

and then jumping to the opposite side of the pond....

"a nod to the union army"
i think one of the reasons i like this tote bag so much is that it is not the normal direction i would go creatively.  military style jacket feel.  i was flipping through an instyle magazine, and saw a picture of chris martin... of the coldplay variety.  it was an older picture where he was wearing that great military style jacket.  it inspired me.

and this is what i came up with:

i kind of did i bit of a play on the whole union army thing.  i had this great piece of vintage ribbon that had a union made label attached to it.  i thought hey... military... union. a perfect marriage for a unique design.   and these vintage buttons?  they are not something i would normally gravitate towards, but i can't imagine anything else in this design.

and i am so excited, because my mind is not slowing down with design ideas, i have materials that are begging to be reborn, and a house that isn't going to die if i don't clean it. i really should get to that chicken coop however.