29 May 2009

I could go on and on

But I love these guys. I love their shirts. I love their simple, smart, catchy words and their font. We used to work in a neighborly fashion back in Philadelphia at 319A N. 11th St. And they just opened up a store, not too far from these old friends and I happened to just catch up with the commercial they made for their grand opening. It is FUNNY, let me just warn you.

If memory serves, this is either a riff on an old classic from College Humor or a riff on any local clothing commercial produced from 1995 onward. Either way, solid marketing.

28 May 2009

Big Plans

A few weeks ago we hatched a scheme for biking and camping up in Sonoma County at the end of John's semester. But then there was the craft fair, and other things, and you know how it goes, it's almost June and we're still planning. Tuesday one of us, fell off his bike and sliced open his hand. To the tune of Three Stitches. I'm not going to name any names of course, but let's just say our ETD was Sunday morning and now it may be a bit further afield than that.

But, ever ready lady that I am, I whipped this little number up on Monday. It's a handlebar bag for myself. For carrying some tools maybe, the map or some variety of snack. Here it's modeling on the front end of John's bicycle, just because his bars are shinier than mine are. And that makes them more photogenic.

It came together from the scraps of some newly shortened Dickie's and some leather scraps that were just lying around. So whenever we do head out on this grandly planned small adventure, I'll be ready to roll.

Speaking of Hikes at the Park

The parks out here never cease to amaze me. They are far more breathtaking, far more extravagant and far more exciting than any Local Nature I've explored in the past. Sure the Hudson Valley is nice enough, and certainly Pennsylvania has its moments, but it's really an entirely separate league out here. If these various Natures were college sports, we're talking Division I and Division III. They aren't even in the same championship.

So I find that every time I go hiking out here--something that I've never done voluntarily before--I am caught up by the minutiae of it all. That is, the redwood forests, the ocean, the mountains. You know, the big dogs of landscape. All of a sudden, I'm grossly captivated by the tiny parts of that great majestic whole and standing there, mouth open and zoned out. Maybe it's my own little test to see if the grand vista holds up to my awesome scrutiny. In any case, I lose track of myself and have to jog to catch up to my fellow hikers. And it feels so healthy to do that, I also can't help myself but get lost in it.

California Nature, I'm telling you, is an endlessly unfolding book of wonder. Because not only were all of these moments from one single hike, but captured in one single spot.

27 May 2009


How does a girl get so busy?! I've been downright neglectful. It all started because I was thigh high in caramel. It sounds hot, but not like you think...

Caramels are so much work! The craft fair was fun, but exhausting. So I had to do some really heavy duty relaxing after that. A good night's sleep, donuts, a trip to the flea market, lunch at Jen and Larry's house, a hike at the park and then a rare treat.

Thanks to Marianne for keeping me well fed, always. This is called a "Cookie Connection"

You know how there's a man's man? Well this one makes me want to coin the term, Sundae's Sunday.

19 May 2009

Tiny Craft Fair!

I'm in it! Woot! Selling caramels for the first time in person out here in California.

It's THIS Saturday from 10-4 at Knit One One in South Berkeley. Read more here. And if you live here, and even if it's just to say hey, you should come.

Snapshots from a Saturday Barbeque

Our friend Anthony's special lady, Ruth just finished her master's thesis (!) and there was a grilling event on Saturday to celebrate. Anthony's house has a particularly memorable backyard and Garden, owing to his particularly crafty housemates who are not currently in graduate school. And anyway I just took some pictures of the things happening in their backyard while lingering over my beer, and there were plenty to note.

The epic woodpile really set a tone.

The light in this tree was so summer.

I couldn't stop myself.

Empty plate, empty shoe.

Coldframe sort of box built from old windows.


Great outdoor table under all those grillettes.

A keg of homebrew.

The last of the light.

The garden was full of stranger children and I felt funny taking pictures of stranger children so you'll have to wait til next time I visit for pictures of that. But I'm telling you, artichokes like hydrangeas. Patience, I'm always reminding myself, is a virtue.

18 May 2009

Our Volvo Is A Champion

My Friday afternoon went something like this.
Roxanne: Want to drive me to Monterrey tomorrow and back to pick up a table and chairs? I'll pay you fifty bucks plus gas money!
Me: Of course!
Roxanne: Super!
Me: Super!
Maybe I'm a pushover. Or maybe fifty dollars is a lot of money these days. Monterrey is 2 and a Half Hours away, friends. And it was SO HOT out on Saturday in our wagon with no air conditioning and vinyl seats. But I knew I'd made the right decision when we pulled into an In N Out Burger at 11:30 in the morning for "breakfast", unflinching, and Roxanne not only bought me lunch (not part of the deal, you'll recall) but also Taught Me How A Real Californian Orders At In N Out. Let me just say Animal Style, people. Grilled Onions, Special Sauce, Cheese and Pickles atop French Fries. Oh baby. I should have documented, but I was too busy getting all the nubbins from the bottom of that little paper boat and sucking down my silky chocolate milkshake.

With that caliber fuel in our belly we set off again down the freeway, bound for glory in the way of a formica dining set located in Seaside. Jennifer, the peddler, lived in some pretty wacky military housing near the DoD base in Monterey. We must have been catching some radiation or something because we got a little spun around, wandered through a commencement at the nearby Cal campus, stumbled across a self-proclaimed Scout Hut, noticed that all the cars in the whole town were sporting For Sale signs, got some bum directions to an atm and then took the longest possible route to her house.

But finally Jennifer greeted us warmly and even helped us strap the thing on top of the car before we got back in and headed off back in the direction from whence we'd come.

All in all, it felt pretty quick; down and back in roughly 6 hours, with only a driver's sunburn and a memento to prove we'd been gone at all. Roxanne finally has a table! Hooray! And now I know where Watsonville is. But the very best part was the new friend bonding. Even mini-roadtrips are good for that.

A partner in crime...

Is the very best sort of partner.

Mid day green goddess themed snack. And Beer! In the middle of the damned day. I may be losing it, but at least I've got company.

14 May 2009

Now we just have to wait.

So John finished with school this week, an event we celebrated on Monday evening with Jelly Beans and Beer at the park. One whole year of graduate school closer to being Doctor Geography is nothing to sneeze at.

So that also means that now I have an extra set of hands around here for things that are really more of a two person job. The first on the list was getting that aforementioned hefeweizen into bottles so they can start carbonating and aging so that we can drink it. You may however remember that the most dreaded, most labor intensive part of the whole process is when you have to put that stuff into bottles, a process that goes something like this: power wash, suds it up, rinse it WELL, sanitize, and then repeat.

It takes a while just to get everything prepared and then you have to also siphon the tasty beer from the primary into the bottling bucket (I've reverted to single stage fermenting since moving here, as it is a bit simpler in our tiny quarters), managing to leave the trub behind, mixing in the sugar, keeping everything Clean. And then actually dispensing it into those shiny vessels and capping them all off. I'm getting tired just thinking about it.

But we did it. John cleaned the kitchen and kept things orderly while I cleaned out the bottles and then we did that brilliant waltz described up there of doing the damned thing and afterwards, John scrubbed the floor. Truly.

Afterwards, the payoff is all those shiny bottles lined up on the countertop ready to do their part and turn that delicious hoppy liquid into something refreshing. Now we just have to wait.

I couldn't have done this one alone. Thanks to Andrew and Miriam for being such trooper beer drinkers and giving us a bundle of bottles. And thanks to Gerik back in January for so considerately saving those big old 33 oz. re-sealable bottles he drank out here, which were Great for this.

Seasonal Specialties

Or, what's on sale at the Berkeley Bowl. And how to use it before it spoils! Good looking strawberries, for one. These became strawberry shortcake with corn shortcakes and whipped cream taken to Kate and Elana's house for dessert.

And over ripe hot house tomatoes, turned fresh salsa.

But the bag of Five Ready-to-eat-yesterday Very Large Haas Avocados has me a little puzzled. I'm taking suggestions about what to do with them. Guacamole obviously, but five avocado guacamole seems a bit much. Am I wrong?

Help me save them!

13 May 2009

Whats Better than Bananas?

Banana Bread of course. I even have proof. While a bunch of bananas sat untouched in the fruit basket in our kitchen for a Week, people, that loaf of banana bread was half gone by the time we went to sleep. And that's after it popped out of the oven at 6 o'clock. PM. That's a lot of nibbling to happen before bedtime.

The chocolate chips scattered in there may be partly to blame, because last time I checked regular bananas don't come in a chocolate chip variety, though if God knew what was good for him he might try making that happen.

10 May 2009

Terrace, In Progress

We've been undertaking a huge project around here lately: turning our inhospitable dirt yard & non-functioning driveway into a backyard space that will not only grow tasty food, but also be home to many fabulous garden parties and ultimate relaxation. Up there, through the window, that's the Before.

While the former goal, as you know, is well on its way, we have yet to hang out back there. I've only just begun to find some things that will spruce up the place and turn it from dingy driveway into a place for sitting. And already, I sense a bold color palette emerging.

We're still configuring all the disparate elements and in the end we hope to have an outdoor dining setup. But I dare say, the thing is well on its way. Assembling patio-type furnishings that are neither plastic nor expensive is tricky business it turns out, but our luck is finally changing. We're now the proud owners of 2 loungers, 2 benches, 2 chairs (plastic, but forgivably) and a ceramic Swan, all of whom are becoming acquainted. With a little finesse and some rigged lighting, I think they'll get along swimmingly.

I can almost taste the mojitos we'll be sipping out on the Terrace.

09 May 2009

Solid Saturday

In heaven, all Saturdays would start with a half dozen Golden Gate donuts eaten in the car en route to five estate sales, culminating with a fancy Floral brunch in the early afternoon. In fact, if every day in heaven went something along these lines, I wouldn't much object. Especially if I had such stellar company as Roxanne, Marianne and Jen for each go around. Groundhog Day, I say, bring it on.

A sampling of today's loot, in order of acquisition:

Square Ceramic Floral Dish with Lid + 2 smaller dishlets

Shell shaped vinyl placemats in avocado, the kind you can wipe down with a damp cloth and they're good as new. Perfect for those of us who are laundry-deficient.

Long coveted first volume of the Julia Child staple in any cookbook collection. I spotted this one despite the key information faded entirely from its spine.

Linen placemats with pockets for their contrasting napkins. I may need a larger table in the near future, so that I can mingle both sets simultaneously. Goodness, do I love to set a tidy table.

The other purchases are more the outdoorsy type if you catch my drift. They'll make an appearance in the next post, so stay tuned.

07 May 2009


I was looking out the window last night around sun down, and saw the most ferocious shadows on the trees. Swooping. Like a flock of some unfathomable giant monsters. Or worse.

Yes, of course, it's only the freeway. But with a little imagination...I'm just saying that it might be a good idea to keep an eye out for a thing like that...you never know when the dino-zombies are coming for us.

Let Us Play Your Party

Saturday night found John and I at Ghost Town Gallery here in Oakland. It's our favorite place to see shows because it happens to be 8 blocks from our house, with the appearance of a genuine venue but the price tag of a domestic one. This place is a whole maze of rooms hard to describe with much accuracy except to say that each one smokier than the last and Saturday night it was packed wall to wall, brimming with people.

Through the haze of cigarettes and smoke machines and the booze we'd been sipping, we caught a pretty good show. It was old fashioned boppy punk rock and really, really good. Let's just say that if it hadn't been too crowded to move, I would have been dancing.

I have these moments, for the last year say, where I feel like my head is clearest in the middle of a crowded room like this. I've long wished that there were a typewriter ribbon at the ready in my frontal lobe so that I could record the stream of things flying by up there.

One of the things that I managed to catch and hold onto Saturday night was a little bit about the indescribable energy of that show, contained by the four walls of that big white room. And the related feeling that I was Glimpsing Something Really Important to the Secret of Living. I've had that glimpsing feeling before, but not much since moving here. It makes you feel really lucky, like you're catching something most people will never see and it makes punk feel downright Romantic, in all its croony, catchy, melody-driven manifestations. Amidst sweaty bodies and filthy bathrooms and beer soaked t-shirts, that Ramonesy beat reminds me of being 13 and crushing hard on the Screwballs and knowing hardly anything.

It's a pretty awesome feeling. If it's been awhile, you should go find yourself a packed house show sometime soon and get your shoes a little dirty. It may do you some good.