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July 31, 2009

Mars Real Chocolate Friday Giveaway

Mars Real Chocolate Relief Act almost puts me off by their exploitation of the hard economy to advertise their product--except that it's chocolate. And it's free. Every Friday through October, Mars will give away free real chocolate to 250,000 people. Just go to their website and follow the instructions to receive a free coupon for a full bar. I say we take advantage of their offer, to extreme, to give them their just desserts for twisting people's serious financial concerns into parody.

Tomatomania Tomato Tasting Next Weekend!

I thought I had two tomato tastings to tell you about, both happening next weekend, but I just found out that the event at the LA Arboretum has been cancelled. So, in lieu of my own fancy writing, here's the announcement of Tomatomania's tasting next Saturday at a local restaurant:


Show off your harvest and join us for our annual Tomato Tasting:

Saturday, August 8 @10am
Loteria Grill, Hollywood
6627 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Admission Price: One perfectly ripe, correctly identified home grown tomato!

Chef/owner Jimmy Shaw will again host our gathering and share his great space as well as some amazing ways to use your home grown tomatoes.

**Call for reservations as space is limited. Valet parking will be available ($6)

And while we're's the season going?
We've had great surprises from first-timers and good production from our old favorites. Most seasonal reports have been positive and we're anxious to know how things are going for all of you.

Is Berkeley Tie Dye working in your garden? How's the real Jersey tomato Ramapo growing? What about Sheboygan, Yellowstone and White Zebra? What's surprised you and what isn't working?

Send us your news and some photos too!!

July 29, 2009

Valley Cultural Center's Concerts & Movies in the Park Series

The Valley Cultural Center serves the greater San Fernando Valley as a prominent resource in promoting the performing and visual arts. With the active support and participation of the community, their mission is to entertain, enrich and educate current and future generations. They offer diverse programs and events as well as recognize outstanding achievements in the arts.

Events are held at the Lou Bredlow Pavilion in Warner Park, in Woodland Hills. There is plenty of room for a late afternoon picnic with the family while being entertained by headline performers. Park regulations prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages, open fires, and barbecues. Dogs must be on a leash at all times.

Free Concerts in 2009 will be held Sunday afternoons, June 7th through August 30th. For more info and complete schedule on Concerts in the Park, click here.

The center also hosts a separate free series for Movies in the Park, held on Tuesday nights. Screenings begin at dusk. Their schedule and info can be found here. Upcoming films in August include Dr. Doolittle, The Parent Trap, and Mary Poppins.

If you go:
Valley Cultural Center
21550 Oxnard Street, Suite #470
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Hot Line: 877-704-FILM (3456)

Warner Center Park
5800 Topanga Boulevard
Woodland Hills, Ca 91367

Have you attended either of these event series? Been to this park before? If you can tell me anything about it, please leave a comment on the blog.

July 28, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion: my QL Upgrade to UPM

I don't talk much about my work in film and television on this blog, because that's not what it's about, but I can't resist a little personal celebration--I just upgraded myself to a higher classification on the QL, or Qualification List. It's a bit like passing a board exam--it makes me eligible to work at a higher job level and corresponding rate of pay. This took Lots Of Documentation of 600 days of work at what I do. The filing itself is almost a bigger achievement than the actual work I've done: they try to make it prohibitive to limit the amount of people doing these jobs, as the job pool itself is quite small. I'm now eligible to work as a UPM, Unit Production Manager. Anyway, thanks for celebrating with me.

Michael Feinstein & Jewel @ the Bowl: Art of Song

This last weekend I took a friend to see Michael Feinstein and Jewel at the Hollywood Bowl. I've heard Feinstein in some t.v. specials, and been impressed. I had a great time at his supper club Feinstein's in Hollywood--in fact, spent my most memorable Valentine's Day there some years back. So I was excited to see him on the bill this year. And Jewel is a favorite of mine, both for her beautiful voice and her anti-establishment persona.

I met my friend there, since we live in disparate parts of town. I was the early one, so I had some time to shoot some candids of the atmosphere at the bowl that I usually don't stop to notice.

Above, the picnic spot over the box office where Lori and I noshed at my last concert.

The main plaza, gift shop, and the first escalator towering above.

Looking down the main entrance hill.

The row of ticket-takers against the hill.

Though not full, the crowd for this show was immense, and this time I had a perfect view of all of them.

Michael Feinstein did not impress me this time as much as he had in the past--he came off as a bit over the top. But as usual, his collection pulled from the Great American Songbook was classic.

Jewel really stole the show and saved the evening from being a waste. She started out with some classic songs but segued into her own music, backed inventively by the Bowl Orchestra. She was a pleasure to hear, and I came home replaying her voice in my head.

The fireworks at the end of the show were a perfect way to cap off the evening. I got some videotape of that, but it needs a little sweetening to be viewable. Something to post another time....

Ready to join me for a Bowl concert yet? Give me a shout out at the blog, and we can set something up.

July 27, 2009

Garden Update: Artichoke

When I was out of town this summer, my watering system for the garden was inadvertently shut off. I had three small artichokes growing on one plant early in the summer, and by the time I got back, the smaller ones were dead, with the biggest too dried out to pick for eating. So I left it on the stem to enjoy as a flower, and lo and behold, it has turned into a beautiful one. I didn't know to expect such beautiful I'm hoping for seeds!

Have you ever grown an artichoke? How do you like to cook or prepare them? If you have a great method or recipe, please leave a comment on the blog.

July 26, 2009

Celestial Stained Glass Consignment

Back to Stained Glass Sundays at Golden Hour Glass. I missed the last few weeks as my scanner was out of commission for a bit. Anyways, this Celestial Stained Glass is one of my favorites, and one of the last that I put on consignment in college. Hard to tell the textures from these photos, but the white glass I used was a Leopardprint that reminded me of the surface of the moon. As you can see, it's date stamped July of 1998. More recent projects from the portfolio to come in the future. If you'd like the pattern, email me and I'll scan it for you.

Do you have a favorite theme for the tchotchkes in your house? What subjects attract you in art or design? Let's talk about it in the comment section of the blog.

Stuffed Striped Cavern Tomatoes

I finally tried out my stuffing tomatoes, the Striped Cavern variety! I made an egg salad, refrigerated it, and stuffed the tomatoes at the last minute before leaving. The garlic chives are from my kitchen garden as well. It made for an elegant presentation for my latest Hollywood Bowl picnic.

I don't like egg yolks, so I make an Egg White Salad with diced hard-boiled whites, shredded cheddar cheese, and mayo, along with some chives from my garden, or sometimes some carmelized onions.

What are your favorite picnic foods? Leave me some suggestions in the comments section of the blog.

July 25, 2009

Doo Dah Surf Day

This event was actually held today, but I wanted to tell you about it for next year. I heard about it on the public radio show Off Ramp, and it sounds like a blast.

Since 2002, local surfers have been dressing up in costume and giving a tiki award for best and worst costume, to bring fun and good natured spirit back to the sport and area. The event is held on Sunset Beach in Pacific Palisades and includes a charity raffle and celebrity judging. For details, click on the link above.

Do you surf? What's your favorite location? How did you learn? I've never done it but am interested in learning more about it. Leave a comment for me on the blog.

July 24, 2009

National Cheesecake Day

July 30th is National Cheesecake Day, according to the Cheesecake Factory. To celebrate, they're offering any slice at half price on that day if you dine-in. They're also introducing a new flavor that day: Stefanie’s Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake™. For details or a store locator, click here.

What's your favorite kind of cheesecake (theirs or homemade)? Do you have a recipe you'd like to share? If you go to this event after reading the post, please let me know by leaving a comment on the blog.

July 23, 2009

Homemade Fountain

A really easy backyard DIY project is to make a fountain from your favorite pot. The one above is one my dad made as a present for my mom. We love its soothing sound next to their porch swing.

You'll need:
a large pot with a hole in the bottom
a location near a power source (or an extension cord)
a pump, from a hardware store or aquarium store
clear tubing or pvc, depending on the configuration and size of your parts
a bubbler or spout, which come in many different patterns
a can of sealant/clear silicone caulk
gravel or smooth river rock

The pot used in this project was sealed and glazed. If the one you choose is not watertight, you can apply a coat of acrylic masonry sealer or epoxy paint.

Rinse out the container and wash any rocks you may be using. Then, set up the pump. First attach a piece of clear vinyl tubing to the pump's outlet. Place the pump on the bottom of the container and place a few rocks around it to hold it in place. Run the pump's cord out through the drain hole in the bottom of the container, then use silicone caulk to completely seal around it, so that the container is watertight. Hook the pump up to the bubbler or spout using pvc or clear vinyl tubing. Use rocks to hold everything in place. If your pot is especially large or tall, you can fill some of the volume with a concrete block, then set up the pump on top of that. This will reduce the amount of water necessary to keep your fountain full.

Once fully assembled, add water and test. Fill the container with water to only slightly higher than the pump when you're testing it. Plug in the pump and check that the water moves smoothly through the tubing. Whenever the pump makes a humming sound, add more water. Once assured everything's working properly, you can fill higher to the level you'd like. Just make sure there's room for evaporation without endangering the operation of your pump--if it runs dry, it will burn out and require replacement.

Once assembled and working, visit a local nursery for water plants to embellish.

For more information, check out this article:
or do your own google search, and let me know where you find helpful advice.

An in-ground water feature has different considerations, but I wanted to share the fountain I built in my own backyard as well. I'll consider covering that in a separate post in the future, but here's a photo:

Have you ever made your own fountain, or built an in-ground water feature in your yard? Leave me a comment below, or email me pictures and I'll add them to this post!

July 22, 2009

Emergency Chocolate

Thought someone might be needing this on a Wednesday-humpday. Email me if you want a jpg version that you can print out and tape around your favorite chocolate bar wrapper as a gift.

July 21, 2009

Fallen Fruit Jam at Machine

Machine Project's yearly Fallen Fruit Jam is coming up on August 2nd, from 10A-1P. It's a free event where everyone gathers at MP's building space to make all kinds of jam. You're asked to bring along your home-grown or public fruit and any clean, empty glass jars you have. At the end everyone leaves with a jar of communal jam. If enough people bring surplus, even the empty handed will leave with jam. Vats of fun for all!

The kinds of jam they make will improvise on the fruit that people provide. The fruit can be fresh or frozen. Fallen Fruit will bring public fruit. They are looking for radical and experimental jams as well, like basil guava or lemon pepper jelly. They’ll discuss the basics of jam and jelly making, pectin and bindings, as well as the communal power of shared fruit and the liberation of public fruit.

Fallen Fruit also leads mappings of public fruit, any fruit which hangs over into public areas or is planted on public land, in various areas.

Listen to Fallen Fruit on the KCRW show Good Food Sept 13, 2008.

I've attended the Public Fruit Jam in the past and had so much fun meeting cool new people! The jar of jam that I brought home was an extra bonus.

If you go:
Machine Project
1200 D North Alvarado
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Have you ever made jam, by yourself or with others? Where are the public fruit trees in your area? Have you considered making a map of what's available?

July 20, 2009

Yard Sale to Benefit Bunnies

July 25th, 518 West Palm Drive in Arcadia. Benefits Zooh Corner Rabbit Rescue.

Movies at the Grove

I hear that the Thursday night screening series at the Grove on 3rd and Fairfax is a very cool free event. The friend that told me about it said that "It was pretty packed, but the thing is, they even have bleachers set up so people don't always stay for the whole thing and so get up and leave. Plus they have Cheesecake Factory takeout that they will order and bring to you." That's all I need to know. Here's the website if you want more information, or menus to pre-order food.

What are your favorite outdoor summer events? Leave me a comment about it on the blog.

July 18, 2009

Tomato Crop is Here! 2009

These are Roma, Sun Cherry, Striped Cavern, Isis Candy, and Green Zebra Stripe--all heirloom varieties, grown in my own garden. I started them as seedlings back in April or so. I'm just now harvesting about a half a colander a day, with tons more to come.

I especially love the sweeter varieties, so that certainly influences my selection. The Green Zebras I use solely for baking, like in lasagnas or mac & cheese. The smaller cherry tomatoes are great on sandwiches, in quiches or omelettes.

The bigger ones on the front left side of the pictures are the Striped Cavern, which is a variety grown specifically for stuffing. This is my first time trying this variety.

What would you do with a "stuffing" tomato? I was thinking of leaving it fresh, stuffed with cold egg salad. Do you have any other ideas or recipes you could share with me? Leave it in a comment on the blog.

July 17, 2009

Redbox Codes--Free DVD Rentals!

Here's a great site that I just discovered: Inside Redbox gives promotional codes that you use like a coupon for free DVD rentals. Visit the Redbox Codes page to find and share codes and start getting free and discounted DVD movie rentals today!

Using the codes is simple, just touch “Rent with a Promocode” on the touch screen at any Redbox kiosk and enter in the code. You'll still have to scan your credit card to ensure against late fees, but if you return on time, you're charged based on the code offer, which is usually free.

To find a Redbox kiosk near you, click here.

Blockbuster, Netflix, Redbox, the LIBRARY--Where do you get your video/DVD rentals? Let me know by leaving a comment on the blog.

Free Stuff Alert: Starbucks Pastry

On Tuesday July 21st, from opening till 1030 A, Starbucks is offering a free pastry with any beverage purchase. View and print the coupon here.

July 16, 2009

Let's Go to the FAIR!

My friend and I spent the day at the Orange County Fair this week!

I loved seeing the demonstration gardens! The beautiful clock above was at the foot of this area. They had exhibits on all types of methods, from square foot gardening to watering techniques. It was the first time I've seen how a brussel sprout comes into being. We also checked out the animals and even saw the FFA club from our old high school in Mission Viejo.

We found some pretty interesting fair entertainment, from minstrels dressed like insects walking around on stilts, to the juggling family that performed while we ate.

Hooray for fair food! I had a cheese on a stick, while my friends had burgers and even fried zucchini. Things I wanted to try were: deep fried avocados, funnel cakes, caramel apples, deep fried twinkies....Things I could do without included the chocolate-dipped bacon.

The Vendor/Products buildings had all kinds of Gadgets and Neat Suff, and even one booth with that name! My friend and her husband explored all kinds of stuff for their new house, like window companies and hot tubs. I liked all the pet product booths.

Then, of course, there are all the rides and games....

But the highlight of the fair for me were the exhibits, since I was in 4-H all growing up.

The flower arranging and woodworking were in a separate building. In the crafts area I saw colorful quilts, cross stitching and embroidery of all kinds including redwork, huck toweling, knitting, tatting, tole painting, mosaics, table setting, canning, cake decorating, baking....I was really inspired creatively. Here are some of my favorites:

My Aunt Rita, a huge quilter, is dealing with an illness right now that's left her mostly unable to craft. So I thought I'd take her with me on a virtual fair day, and photographed all the quilts at the fair to print out and show her. I was really excited to make this neat mail surprise for her, and can't wait to hear what she thinks of it.

Next year, I'm entering the fair, in the adult divisions. Here's the site with the LA County Fair's competion's rules and deadlines info:

I missed finding this info by two days this year, so I'll have to do it next summer. I'm going to have to keep a running list of projects and ideas for the fair.

If you want to know more details about the Orange County Fair so you can go yourself, click on the logo picture at the top of this post.

Have you ever shown in a fair? Do you make it a tradition to go to the fair yourself with family or friends? Let me know your favorite fair and favorite part in a comment on the blog.
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