Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The FA Chili Cook-Off 2010

That's right, folks. This past Friday night the Johnson's hosted the Second Annual First Avenue Chili Cook-Off. It was yummy!

This year there were 6 chili entries. Each was as different as it was delicious. I was talking to one of our teachers prior to the party and we were discussing what a subjective thing chili is. There are so many different types and recipes - and everyone's taste for chili is so different. That said, I tasted 4 of the six varieties and they were all really good. In addition to the chili, we had a variety of cornbreads, salads and desserts. Oh, and beverages - some mild, some a bit more on the wild side (also dubbed the 'evil elixir' in a post party cryptogram at the Faculty meeting on Tuesday).

It was a fun night! Not quite as many people in attendance as we had last year, but a really wonderful group.

Who won?? Jeff. Just ask him, he'd love to tell you all about it.

(Anyone else think it's suspicious that the BOSS has won ... both years?! Anyone?? Yeah. Me too.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I Get a Peaceful, Easy Feelin'

Ahhhhh, last Friday night, under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl ... Eagles flew. It was a beautiful sight to behold. ...not to mention the sweet sound of some of the most amazing harmonies in musical history. (Photo from Los Angeles Times)

For Christmas, I'd given Kevin tickets to the Eagles concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The only drawback? Christmas is in December and, well, the concert wasn't until April 16th! No matter - sometimes delayed gratification is a good thing. This was definitely one of those times.

The concert was amazing. The Eagles were in top form and played many favorites as well as songs from their new CD - Long Road Out of Eden. We had SUCH a great time!!

Merry Christmas, honey! ... and thanks for letting me be your date ;o)

Definitely Not Atticus Finch

One of the other things I've had on the ...uh... docket, is this: Yep. I was on jury duty this week. I don't know how other states are, but our state has the "One Day/One Trial" system which means, once you receive your Jury Summons in the mail, you're given a specific week to call-in. Sometimes, though very rarely, you can make it through the week without having to actually go in at all. At that point, you're off the hook and can't be called again for at least a year.

More commonly, however, you will find that, at some point during the week of call-in, you'll be required to report to the courthouse. That was me this week. I skated through Monday without having to report. Monday night I called and, sure enough, I was required to report on Tuesday morning at 7:45. In L.A. Great. That means, because I decided to take the Metro instead of drive (If you've ever driven in L.A. during rush hour ... which, really, is just about every hour of the day, you know why I decided to take the Metro!), I had to leave the house quite early. The saving grace, however, is that the train drops you off, literally, right across the street from the courthouse - which is great!

About mid-day, I was called for a jury panel. Uh-oh, kiss of death! Having served Jury Duty many, many times, it's been my experience that, if called to a panel, I will nearly always be seated on a jury. This time? No exception - I became juror number 7. The judge explained that this was a misdemeanor case and shouldn't last more than a day. However, because the next day was the third Wednesday of the month, and because the courthouse is on furlough that particular day due to budget cuts, we all had to report back on Thursday for the actual trial.

It all went smoothly, though. As the judge said, the trial was just a one day event. I won't bore you with the details of the case or the trial itself. I will, however, comment that neither the defense nor the prosecuting attorney would give Atticus Finch a run for his money. And the case? Eh. From my perspective, at least, it was a complete waste of taxpayers money. But there you have it, justice in action.

Here's the Other Place I've Been Hanging Around ...

... far too much recently!! It's a beautiful place, actually, and they do wonderful work. But - I'd much rather not see it quite so often.

Both mom and dad have been somewhat regular visitors to the hospital recently. Both are feeling better and are on the mend. We're all hoping it stays that way for a very long time! Love you both very much.


One of the notable events I've been too busy to comment on lately is the Gabrielino High School Shaveapalooza.

The what?

One of the teachers at Kevin's school is undergoing chemotherapy for her third recurrence of cancer. Ugh. Several weeks ago she began her first round of chemo for this new recurrence. During Spring Break, she began losing her hair; shortly thereafter, she shaved her head. In a touching show of solidarity, fourteen staff members decided to shave their heads, too. Thirteen men ... and one woman! ...with very long hair!

Paul Mitchell Salons came out for the event and shaved the noggins for free. Here are just a few pics of the event: The "Before":

The Victims ... err ... volunteers: The "During":
And, The "After": Handsome, don't you think?? Though we both agreed that we like Kevin better with hair, his doing this was definitely an act of love and compassion.

... and he'd do it again in a heartbeat.


Sorry I've been MIA lately.

You know, that thing called life just sneaks up on you and ... POW! Suddenly you're busy and several weeks have flown by with no time to post.

I'm (hopefully) going to try and remedy this situation. I'm crossing my fingers that things will calm down a bit and I'll be more of a regular again.

Here's hoping!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Menu 4/10 - 4/23

It's that time again (well okay, a little late, but better late than neve!) ...

4/10/10 - 4/23/10
Saturday 4/10 - busy day for both of us - too much running around! Cereal for dinner
Sunday 4/11 - roasted lemon/garlic/rosemary chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed baby squash (since we didn’t have this on 3/27)
Monday 4/12 - Kevin has a meeting; Ran will fend for herself
Tuesday 4/13 - chicken salad stuffed tomatoes (since we didn’t have this last week), crusty Il Fornaio rolls
Wednesday 4/14 - grilled pork chops, artichokes, stuffing
Thursday 4/15 - Monte Cristo sandwiches (using leftover French toast), fresh fruit
Friday 4/16 - chicken corn chowder, crusty Il Fornaio rolls
Saturday 4/17 - beef fajitas with lots of fresh veggies, guacamole, warm flour tortillas
Sunday 4/18 - meatloaf, mashed potatoes, artichokes
Monday 4/19 - Kevin has a meeting; Ran will fend for herself
Tuesday 4/20 - meatloaf sandwiches on grilled sourdough bread spread with Clearman’s spread
Wednesday 4/21 - garlic, herb and lemon chicken breasts, orzo with lemon and fresh parsley, steamed fresh spinach
Thursday 4/22 - Rudy’s!
Friday 4/23 - fresh roasted tomato soup with homemade grilled sourdough croutons, green salad with leftover herbed chicken, bleu cheese and green apples

Friday, April 09, 2010

Metropolitan Museum of Art

... books.

I decided to go ahead and use the art books for the project I'd intended to use them for. As much as I love them, I honestly think I'd enjoy them far more in this particular project. Why? Because I can look at them every day. Well, sort of.

For quite a while I've been wanting to make a paper wreath. My first thought was to use old vintage sheet music. In fact, I've been looking around for just that (I got scooped on an ebay purchase right at the very last second ... GRRR. I hate that!) Anyway, when I came across the art books the other day, I knew these were the perfect item for the project. The subject matter was great, the over size format of the books was perfect, and the pages had a wonderful naturally aged patina - which is ideal for this project!!

This last day of spring break (insert heavy sigh here), I decided to get busy with my project. It was so much fun! I can hardly wait to hang it up, but I'm debating between two different places and I'd like to wait for Kevin to get home and weigh in on the decision.

Okay, without further ado, let's get started ...

I love how this wreath turned out! The finished project really didn't use as much paper as I thought it would. It used one full book and about two thirds of a second book - not nearly as much as I thought. Which is good ... it leaves me plenty for other projects. Hmmm ... what's next??

Aqua, Silver and Seashells

Since bringing it home from the thrift store the other day, I've been wondering what to do with that beautiful little silver pedestal tray. I thought it would look great in our bathroom - which is white and that beautiful shade of 1950's jadeite green - but I couldn't quite figure out what to put in it.

Our bathroom is very small and we really have no counter space at all. We've got a small shelving unit on the wall, what little space is on top of the pedestal sink, and a tiled bench in the shower/tub area - that's it. As such, most of our essentials are stored in the lined cabinet which is conveniently housed in the hallway right outside the bathroom door.

So ... back to where to put that silver tray. And, better yet, what to put in it. In cleaning out my craft room yesterday, I came across the most beautiful white seashells. I remember buying them at the thrift store one day (all six for just one dollar!), and setting them aside thinking I'd find a project for them sooner or later. BING. Now I know what to put in that silver tray!!

All of the shells are a beautiful, creamy shade of white - which I love - but I thought it might be fun to add a bit of color that would coordinate with the bathroom. Hmmm ... this is the perfect small glitter project! I didn't cover all of the creamy white - just some of it. I think it came out perfect. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

"Art ...

... enables us to find ourselves, and lose ourselves at the same time." ~ Thomas Merton

That's me at the moment - kind of at a loss as to what to do with today's stand out thrift store find. Here's the find:

Aren't they incredible!! The series of books is "Metropolitan Seminars in Art" by John Canady. It's a 12-book series and this set is missing portfolio number 11; the remainder of the set is intact and in great condition! Each book covers one artistic concept; the book contains about 25 or so pages of text, and then, on the inside cover is an envelope that contains prints of famous paintings that serve as an example of the concept covered in the book. The books are first edition and they were printed in 1958. Each book was a bargain at just $2.00 each!!

Why am I at a loss? Well initially, when I began looking at the books, I wanted them for a project that I'll be working on soon. The large format of the books makes them perfect for this particular project. However - using them in this manner would entail my taking the books apart . GASP! They are such a unique commodity, I'm really not at all sure I want to do that. And yet, they would be so perfect for my project! Over and above the large book format, there are many illustrations on the pages that would really make the project one of a kind.

So, there you have it. Betwixt and between. What to do?? What would YOU do?

Thrifting Today

Mom and I had a bit of a girls day today - we visited our favorite used book store and our favorite little thrift store. While mom scored at the book store, I saved my score for the thrift store. And score I did! As with most things, this little thrift store is hit or miss. Sometimes I can go in there and find absolutely nothing, while other days - like today - everywhere I turn I see something wonderful!

Here are a few of my finds from today: I loved this darling silver pedestal dish the moment I laid eyes on it. I thought it was a pretty good bargain at just $5.00. Of course it was tarnished beyond believe, but a little bit of silver polish and some elbow grease and it's as good as new. I have a soft spot for pedestal dishes. I have another one of these dishes - almost identical as a matter of fact - on the desk in the garden room. It sits there, looking pretty, holding a handful of old stamps. I've got a project in mind for this pink velvet ribbon. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to find it! There were four plastic bags full of it - each bag has about 2 yards or so of velvet ribbon. I loved the color and, at sixty five cents per bag, you can't go wrong. These cute millinery flowers are going to be part of the same project as the velvet ribbon - another bargain at sixty five cents for the bag of two clusters. Pretty cute, huh? I couldn't resist the title of this cute little book - not to mention the charmingly hilarious illustrations inside.

I can't decide if I want to keep the book in tact, as is, or if I want to cut up the pictures to use for other craft projects. Hmmm ... I guess I'll have to give that some thought.

The next thrift store find I'm saving for the next post. Stay tuned ...

Vintage Linens!

... that's what's in the drawers of that cute little secretary desk!!

On Monday, my first day of spring break, it rained. I had many things on my to-do list that were indoors so I was absolutely fine with that. In fact, I love doing things around my house when it's cold, wet and rainy outside - that's the perfect day!

In straightening out the drawers of the china cabinet in the dining room, I couldn't help but notice that my pretty vintage linens and doilies were in a perpetual state of wrinkle because everything was so crammed into the drawers. BING! I remembered that I now have four extra drawers in the secretary! I took out the iron and began ironing all of the pretty table cloths, table runners, doilies and other goodies so that they could be tucked away in their new home. Just imagine, the next time I pull something out to use, I won't have to iron it first! Now that's a novel concept! (No, you're not seeing things. The shiny dots you see on some of the doilies are vintage glass buttons. I sewed them on a large doily and six small doilies; they serve as beverage covers for a pitcher of lemonade and 6 glasses so that insects don't fly in your lemonade when you're sitting outside.)
Don't you just love that little duck?! I think he is so sweet - in fact, there are actually two of them - they're dresser scarves for a little boys bedroom: Aren't they just adorable? Look at that hand embroidery ...
I saw them when I was out thrifting one day and just had to have them.

Antique Secretary

The other night I began working on the finish of the antique secretary desk we "inherited" a few weeks ago. There were many, many well worn spots on this little beauty. That's okay, though, it just says that it was well used and well loved. Though it was a bit of a messy job - not to mention tedious - I really enjoyed doing it. And the outcome is so spectacular, I feel that it was well worth it!

Here's the piece in it's entirety: Isn't it gorgeous!! I just love it - it turned out beautifully. Well, that and the piece is so beautiful in and of itself.

The glass cabinet I've filled with the James Herriot series of books (All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, etc. I love this series! And each book was bought for just pennies at thrift stores - who doesn't love a bargain?!), a sweet little angel musical doll that I received in a bouquet of flowers from my grandparents when I was six years old and went in to the hospital to have my tonsils out, several photographs, two or three more books (Including a vintage copy of Wuthering Heights) and a few pieces of pottery. I love the way it turned out. It's simple and yet special all at the same time.

The actual desk portion was the most difficult to touch up. There were many, many deeply damaged areas that where showing raw wood. Since I'm far from an expert in furniture refinishing, I didn't want to do a lot with it, so I just worked on getting the color right. I think it turned out nicely. Each of the little cubbies is filled with note cards, letter seals, etc.

And the drawers! Oh boy, am I ever glad to have a few more drawers at my disposal! As much as I love our new home, one of the few things it's lacking is cupboard/closet space, so I'm thrilled to have a bit more storage for things. What's in the drawers? Well ... that's coming up in the next post!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Citrus Sugar Shaker

We always like to give a little Easter gift to my mom and dad, Kevin's mom, and Deb & Bill. Nothing fancy and nothing big - just a little something that's often homemade. This year, we gave away Citrus Sugar Shakers. Lemon Sugar, to be exact. They were a big hit! ... and so easy and inexpensive to make. Here's a photo of the end result: What do you put lemon sugar on? You can use it in iced or hot tea; use a shake or two over fresh strawberries; sprinkle it on warm buttermilk pancakes; add a shake to pound cake before gently warming the cake in a pan or on the grill. There are lots of other options - it's fun to experiment and use your imagination! You can also make lime and orange sugars. Here's the recipe ...

Citrus Sugar

2 cups of white granulated sugar
zest of 2 lemons, 2 limes or 2 oranges

Add sugar and zest to food processor. Pulse until the sugar and zest are well mixed. Pour sugar onto a baking sheet; spread out and let dry for one hour. Spoon finished sugar into a sugar shaker. Tie a citrus colored ribbon around the shaker and add a label.

(Tip: There are lots of internet sources for inexpensive bottles and glassware, such as sugar shakers. You can also find them from time to time at your local 99 Cents Only store.)

Spring Desserts

For Easter, I volunteered to make the dessert. Or rather, desserts.

Initially I was just going to make my Orange Chiffon Cake, but on the very same page, right next to that recipe, was a recipe for a Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble that looked sooo good, I decided to make that, too! I'm so glad I did - it was absolutely delicious!

(Side note: when I went to the grocery store to buy the rhubarb, the courtesy clerk bagging my groceries looked at me and said "What IS this?" The checker and I both told her it was rhubarb. She said she'd never seen nor heard of it. She was at least 30, so I was pretty surprised by this! She asked if you put it in soups or what? I explained that it was more of a dessert element. "Is it sweet?", she asked? No, I said, you have to add sugar to make it sweet. She looked at me like I was nuts, shrugged her shoulders and put it in the bag.)

Here's the 'before':

And here's the 'after': Oh man, was it ever DELISH!! Kevin said this was a great addition to our repertoire - he can hardly wait until we make it again! It was a big hit - we took home just a taste for each of us - the rest disappeared.

The cake was delicious, too. Something about citrus that just says "SPRING!". I've made the cake for several occasions and it always goes over well. Just the scent of it makes your mouth start watering!

Looking Through the Kitchen Window

As I mentioned before, I've been wanting to re-decorate my kitchen garden window. Last week, Kevin and I gave that whole area a good cleaning inside and out. I also had some fabric that coordinated with the kitchen curtains that I used to make shelf runners for the window shelves.

Well I've been working on putting it all together and I think I've got it nailed down. And the verdict is ... I really love it!! I love all of the components separately and, together, I really just love the whole thing. It's a joy to stand at the kitchen sink washing dishes and look out this lovely window. Here's the final product:
I love this little black wire Country Living birdcage. When it arrived, it was just plain ... black ... and wire. Well you know I couldn't just leave it like that! I added a few things here and there - including three of those beautiful egg shells! - and I really like the way it turned out ...
I found this little ivory metal pedestal dish two years ago when we were up in Paso Robles. Of all the things it's held since then, I think this is the cutest ...
What's in your kitchen window??