Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fashionable Pugs?

I was trolling one of the pug-oriented websites I follow today (or was it yesterday?), and these images popped up:

As somebody else said, "What the what???"

According to the website, this was a fashion show at "UNI," whatever and wherever that is. The images are all from Crooked Palms.  It's a tumblr site, I think. I'm not sure.

But I'm sure of this: Toting a pug does not make any of these fashions look better.

Even the pugs seem to disapprove.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Watermelon with Goat Cheese, Basil, and Balsamic Vinegar

Yesterday I was craving something light and refreshing for lunch when I realized I had a baby watermelon and bits of leftover toppings from a pasta dinner the night before. I combined all the ingredients to make this delicious and unusual watermelon dish.

Cubes of ice-cold watermelon, crumbled herbed goat cheese, grated Parmeggiano-Reggiano cheese, fresh basil from my herb garden, and a thick, fairly sweet Balsmic vinegar (mine is flavored with fig). Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl and eat immediately.

I've read about this combo many times but never tried it before.

Oh. My. Stars! The sweetness of the melon, the sharp, salty tang of the P-R, the herb-y goodness of the goat cheese, the almost anise-like notes from the basil, and the bold-but-mellow presence of the vinegar:

Pefection. Simply Perfection. In the name of all that is delicious, please, PLEASE try this dish.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Thank-Yous

 This is my dad, Charles, in August 1942. He served in World War II and the Korean War:

This is my mom, Edna, with my dad, also in 1942--a little earlier, because of the uniform, I think?). She packed up and moved their household--which grew to include four kids and a dog--something like 23 times in the course of his 26 years of service with the U.S. Army Air Corps (soon renamed the U.S. Air Force).

They both gave a lot for their nation, and their family.

Thank you both, dear people. We are grateful.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Orphaned Saucers Find a Home

Yesterday, I took a quick pass through one of the local thrift shops. I was on the hunt for ramekins; I wanted to pack herb butter in them to give to friends, because my potted herb garden is going gangbusters.

Yay, herbs!

Anyhow, there was not a ramekin in sight. But these beauties caught my eye:

Three china tea saucers without their cups. Orphans like these can be found for as little as 10 cents apiece in some parts of the United States. But in a big city like Los Angeles, and with savvy salespeople who flip the pieces over to check for manufacturer's marks, the price might jump as high as $2 each. I got mine for $1 apiece.

Still, they had some very pretty band details:

And some arresting persimmon-and-cobalt colors that totally make them worth the price.

If you are not sure you're looking at good-quality china, look on the back or bottom of the piece for the phrase "Made in England" (or Bavaria or France, two other sources of a lot of good china)...

...or look for the words "Bone China"...

...or look for the name of a reputable, established old firm. In this case, Aynsley:

And why do I prize bone china, as opposed to, say, pottery or ironstone? Simple: bone china is made with ground-up bits of bone, which gives material strength to whatever it's fashioned into. This means, when I accidentally thwack a teacup against the faucet, for instance, it's less likely to chip or--Heaven forbid--break. Ironstone and pottery are far more brittle and rack up nicks and chips at a disheartening pace.

I have two things in mind for these cup-less saucers. Either fill them with fudge or cookies and give them as gifts to friends, or keep them and pair them with cups I already own for a mix-and-match look.

For instance, the smallest saucer looks terrific when put with a smallish teacup that Lovely Daughter #2 "liberated" from her eating club at Cambridge University in England:

The plain cobalt saucer sets off this sweet floral cup nicely:

And going bolder, I like this pattern-on-pattern look by topping the last orphan saucer with a teacup that was my Grandma Bliss's back in the early 1900s:

You can also use cup-less saucers to hold a bar of soap in the powder room or bath, or as a jewelry holder on the bureau.

So, don't pass up those odd saucers if you see some beauties. Make them work for you!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

No More Plastic Bags!

I am so proud of my city right now! The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-to-1 to ban plastic grocery bags in a phase-out program over the next 16 months. This vote makes Los Angeles the largest city so far to enact laws to get rid of this environmental culprit. Estimates put the number of plastic bags recycled and used again at a pathetic 5%; clearly that wasn't working! Soon, L.A. grocery-store customers must either pay 10 cents per bag for a paper one, or bring their own.

Yay, cloth bags!

More than three years ago, I was up on my soap box on this issue, begging everyone to switch over to cloth bags. Mu Shu posed very sweetly for my post at that time:

Inexpensive, sturdy cloth bags are easy to find. A lot of businesses even give them away for free. I have bags from high schools and colleges my kids attended, free bags handed out by faith-based organizations, politicians, etc.

If you want a little more style in your bags and you're handy with a sewing machine, you can make your own. If you're not crafty--or you're just lazy, like me--go to and type in "cloth grocery bag." You will find dozens and dozens of vendors selling really attractive bags, like these, below.

This one, from Elimakes, is reversible:

This one, from Marketbags, is made from oilcloth. How cute is this?

If you can't stand cutesy bags, how about this handsome printed one from bagsYoutote:

Or this clever one, which Prettyliliya made from a pair of never-worn men's pants:

Using cloth bags--and remembering to bring them to the store--is really not hard. Like most good habits, once you do it for a little bit, it becomes second nature.

And please, do your grocery-store checkers a favor: Wash those bags from time to time! They will thank you for it.

And Mother Earth will bless you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cape Cod Blues

Snapping pictures of things that are blue in Cape Cod is like shooting fish in a barrel.

It's as if the hue is the area's Official Color.

Even the oddest things are blue. Did you ever see this color of fire hydrant?

The ocean greatly influences the Cape Cod look, since the area is surrounded by water.

Down by the waterside is a great place to find blue hues.

Chippy, sandy boat bottom: Love it!

This shade makes me think about painting my own rush-seated kitchen chairs....

This traffic sign stopped me in my tracks. It's official, but it looks so...homemade.

Blue is THE most popular accent color for Cape Cod houses.

Down near the Chatham wharf and fish market, the grates in the street were all sporting an enigmatic blast of blue:

This lady moved very slowly about her garden, but she wasn't going to let that stop her from tending her flowers:

Now, here's a mailbox you don't see much in Los Angeles. BTW, did you know that horseshoe crabs have blue blood?

I wonder why these pilings were capped with blue? Does it help prevent rot?

Pallets stacked near the fish market:

This isn't a dish-washing glove. It's the kind used by folks who harvest lobster and crabs offshore.

There's a name for this type of little, flat-ended boat. I can't recall what, right now...

Love this arrangement.

To me, all blue shades go beautifully with each other, always.

A private piece of shoreline and some of the residents' boats:

The Cape Cod National Seashore is largely undeveloped. This little shed is one of the few things on an unbroken vista of water and marshland.

Cape Cod made a deep impression on me.

Goodbye for now, Cape Cod. Maybe I'll see you again next year!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Roadside Rescues, White Edition

This past week, my roadside rescues have all been shades of white or silver-gray. First, I found these stackable shelves set out on the curb of a busy street. I think they're made by Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

They were a little dusty but perfectly good. And just a week before, I was wishing I had a little more storage in my closet.

Funny, how the Universe delivers! Attached to one of the shelves was this really big, industrial-looking clip (cell phone shows relative size):

I think I'm going to keep it for something in The Boy's room. He has a few industrial-type accents in his decor, and this would fit in nicely:

The next thing I found was sticking up out of a huge recycling bin. It's a plaster pedestal, some three feet tall:

It has a chunk out of one corner, but that doesn't detract from its Shabby Chic look, for me.

I'm going to work it into my garden decor eventually. For right now, it's just holding up a pot of chives:

Swanky chives shot:

And last, I found this decorative wooden column set next to the plaster column. I love its shape and chippy, textured paint:

I like pairing rough and crusty things next to items with smooth, glossy surfaces, like glass, lacquer, or highly polished furniture.

Can't wait to see what pops up for me next!


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