Simple Fun Bikes

Friday, July 30, 2010

Scott forwarded me to the Public Bikes website yesterday.  These are great practical 3 and 8 speed bikes designed for urban living.  I love that they aren't as cheesy as the pastel colored big beach cruisers we see around LA and they're not so techy sporty as our modern day hybrid bikes.   They're easier to handle, more durable than your typical road bike and they still have a vintage vibe.  Plus the pedals and splash guards make them great for whatever footwear and garb you might be sporting that day.

We have similar bikes from the 70's that we bought for about $100 - a fraction of the cost - back when we lived in Brooklyn.  Granted, they had to be refurbished so the overall investment was more, but still less than the $850 price tag for these.  AND ours have in hub shifters so the chain doesn't fall out or dirty your pants when shifting.  Check out your local craigslist for old bikes that you can rejuvenate. 

Also on the Public Bikes site are various accessories that you can purchase.  This helmet is way better than the crazy aerodynamic space age helmet that I currently sport while on my retro ride.

Before And After

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wow - the garden really HAS grown!

Day of Planting Back in April

A couple months later - early summer

Summer in the Park

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So Friday night was intended to be downtown date night in the Ahnert/Davis household.  Instead, on Friday while I was perusing Daily Candy I discovered that the Levitt Pavillion in our own backyard - Old Town Pasadena -  was hosting a free concert of the French band Paris loves LA

Turns out the Levitt is host to the largest summer concert series in the country  - 50 concerts form June through August.  Granted the French band wasn't very good, and sometimes quite cheesy, but it made for good background music to our picnic.
And we got to use our Orikaso origami picnic plates and cups and I was yet again impressed by how clever they are. 

Ain't it Grand

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Last Thursday work officially began on the Park portion of the Grand Avenue Plan in Downtown LA - a 16 acre park that will stretch from the Disney Music Center to City Hall.  The park which is the public portion of a revitalization of the civic and cultural areas of downtown will open in 2012 and will include venues for various activities and entertainment.  Should be a great lunch spot to walk over to from work!

Princeton Boys!

Monday, July 26, 2010

So Heather at Habitually Chic just did a post about Take Ivy the cult-Japanese picture book from the 60's featuring the campuses of the Ivy League and preppy boys strolling down the stone pathways.  I love that Princeton made the cover. 
That's the East Pyne courtyard that they're walking out of.  And I'm pretty sure the dress code hasn't changed much from then.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Yes, my childhood piano has finally made it to LA after being in a storage unit in Dallas and travelling here to LA via Kentucky (who knew that Kentucky was between Dallas and LA?!).  It is here and in place and the living room outside door just manages to clear it when open.  Now I guess I had better start brushing up on my Chopsticks and Heart & Soul.
That's my mom chatting away on the phone while on her LA visit

Picka Peppa

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Yup - I just harvested 3 peppers from the plant I planted a couple months ago (wish they were a little spicier) and 3 cherry tomatoes from the volunteer tomato plants that cropped up in our garden.  Granted we don't have enough to make a single serving of salad yet but it's fun to watch the plants grow and they make a good supplement to our farmer's market finds

The Art of the Artichoke

So I first posted about the artichokes we planted in our yard on April 19. And exactly 2 months later they had doubled in size and I  posted again showing the progress of one little artichoke that could and the bud that it had created.  This week the artichoke finally bloomed and created a beautiful purple pom pom.
Which I then added to the kangaroo paw arrangement from earlier this week.

By the way, both arrangements used various vessels found in the ktichen - no need to buy a vase when a pitcher or salad dressing container works just as well.

Renegade Craft Fair - This Weekend!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not sure if I'll be able to make it - so hopefully some of you readers can go in my stead.  The Renegade Craft Fair hits up LA this weekend.  It will play host to a plethora of arts, crafts, DIY stuff and more.  And you can take the Gold Line to the Chinatown stop to get there!

Farm Fresh

So, last week a few coworkers and I trekked out into the heat for lunch.  We actually walked 5 minutes out of our way to go somewhere besides the 7th and Fig Food Court.  How New York of us Angelenos to walk! Although admittedly when I lived in NY I usually didn't make it past the downstairs Guy and Gallard for lunch. 

In any case, we made the journey to Mendocino Farms' second downtown outpost to see what all the hype was about. 

Local: check. 

Sustainable: Check.

Organic: Check.

So in other words, delicious and guilt-free. What I didn't realize is that it's not all veggie centric - in fact there is a whole range of pork items on the menu - like a Cuban Pork Sandwich,  their version of a Mufaletta, Carnitas, Proscuitto, Pulled Pork, Pork Belly, and Bacon!  Wowwee... still green, but a little bit pink too. AND to top it off they have a blog about sandwiches.  I think I might be making another visit in the near future.

Pretty darn nice

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jamie at Isuwanee posted this mirror from Z Gallerie.  I agree that it's fabulous.  Perhaps it would make a nice birthday present. I bet I'd look younger in it's reflection. Not sure yet where I'd put it but I'm sure it could find a home in our home.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

At Lady in Eagle Rock. 

50% off select clothing, jewelry, and handbags from July 23 to July 31st.

Guestroom Art

Recently I got a couple of pieces of art framed for the guestroom.  I bought these in Stanley Market in HK and I think the framing probably cost 10 times as much as the paintings themselves.  I also bought the great Oriental style picture hanging hardware at Stanley Market.  I love how it completes the look.  One day when I start my import export business I will include this hardware in the inventory.

Boing Boing!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So one of the Kangaroo Paws got a little heavy and the bloom fell over.  I gave it a little haircut and I think it makes a beautiful simple architectural arrangement on the dining table.

Que Bonita!

Friday, July 16, 2010

So Scott and I have been trolling the Pasadena Antique malls in search of various treasures to populate our new abode (it's hard to fill an 1800 SF space after coming from a Brooklyn coop that was a third of the size).  Our favorite stop on the antique mall circuit is Angela Dickenson-Lee's store Bonita Interiors at the Pasadena Antique Center
She has a great selection of refurbished antiques in an wide variety of styles, that combined give off a great sort of mish-mash contemporary eclectic vibe.

She also features her own artwork in her store which works perfectly with her pieces.  Her price points are reasonable and she has a whole bunch of other treasures in storage (so just ask if you are looking for something specific).


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Well, as many of you know Sriracha has been one of my favorite hot sauces since before Sriracha fever caught on.  My sister-in-law just forwarded me an article about how Jacob Leland recently took Sriracha-mania to a new level by creating an eponymous ice cream flavor.  Delightful or despicable?  Make a pint and let me know.  Now if only I had an ice cream maker.....


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We went and visited Portland over July 4th and had a blast.  Aside from amazing craft beers (July is Portland craft beer month - sense any redundancy in that?), local produce, great chefs, and lots of outdoor activities, I also discovered that Portland is a city of gardeners.  Here is just a sampling of what I saw on one walk through Sue and Mona's neighborhood.
The Davis elders (can't wait to see what kind of flack I'll get for that reference) sit in Sue and Mona's back yard next to the newly anointed chicken coop chez poulet.

Portland has a fascinating house/mailbox numbering system..

Local Urban farming!

A beautiful flower arrangement at Farm, the local organic restaurant we went to (Peas were in season!)

Curry on up!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So I made up a little curry dish the other day in our crockpot from various items found at the farmers market and in our garden.  It actually turned out super yum. 

I can't give you exact quantities since I don't cook with recipes (hence my complete lack of ability when it comes to baking).  However, the general gist is:
2 large chicken breasts cut into chunks
3 heaping tablespoons curry mix up
3 large carrots - cut into chunks
3 cups okra- cut into chunks

3 med sized onions - cut into chunks

2 med sized tomatoes - cut into chunks
3 small hot peppers - cut up fine
3 cloves garlic - minced
Sea Salt to taste

Sprigs of: Sage, thyme, lemon thyme
Basil garnish (added at end)
Throw everything together into the crock pot.  Cook on low for 8 hours. Put on a bed of jasmine rice and add basil garnish on top. Enjoy!

Why do kids have all the fun?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Seriously.... Gap came out with padded knee pants for toddlers.  I personally could use a pair myself.  Perhaps their adult sales figures would do a little better if they thought along those lines.

This is

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why I love Old Town Pasadena

 Legal Jaywalking

Weekly Weeds: Valentien's Visions

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weekly Weeds: Valentien's Visions

Southern California is basically a desert, right? Maybe we should all be growing cactus in our front yards?  

Well, I do love a healthy cactus garden - and the Getty's playful arrangement above Los Angeles is both near and an under-appreciated local delight.

Nonetheless, it's not too prickly to note that while it's true that Death Valley is within our realm, and water scarcity is among our most serious challenges, our state is populated by dozens of other plant communities, from freshwater marsh to chaparral to Joshua tree woodland. 

From this plethora of micro climates we have much to select from for our very own growing pleasure, cacti being just one option.

Venture away from the big box garden centers to visit some of the independent nurseries, such as Las Pilitas or Theodore Payne California Native Plant Nursery, and you'll find horticultural harems of climate-appropriate beauties. In such places, your eyes can feast on botanical variety you won't find in any Home Depot as you share knowledge and experiences with folks whose job it is to nurse and grow them.
The plant wealth of our state is hardly a secret. More than a century ago, the artist Albert Robert Valentien (1862-1925) provided us with a stunning overview of what California offers in the way of flora. He began his career as one of the founding employees of the now well-known Arts & Crafts era Rookwood Pottery in Ohio where he created many botanically inspired pieces.   

After visiting California, Valentien and his wife fell so in love with the climate and environs (oh, how it must have looked 100 years ago), that they settled in San Diego.  He had his life's work cut out when, in 1908, he was commissioned by a super wealthy lady (Ellen Browning Scripps, a la Scripps Clinic, Scripps College, Scripps Institute) to paint all of the native plants of California.

Estimating that California had about a thousand different plants, for a decade Valentien enthusiastically painted away, as his wife Anna collected fresh specimen after specimen for his "plant portraits."  He may have never started had they known that, in fact, California boasted more than 7000 native species, about a quarter of which are found nowhere else in the world.

He depicted in wonderful detail over a thousand different plants before Miss Scripps decided her Valentien venture was getting too expensive and turned off the cash spigot. It wasn't until 2000, decades after both a somewhat disappointed artist and patron had died, that Valentien works were finally published. 

You can see a few of his finely wrought botanical portraits below. The fact that many of these plants are today endangered or have vanished entirely from our landscape lend these watercolors a special poignancy.

The largest collection of his watercolors is at the San Diego Natural History Museum. An even more lovely way to experience his work may be to plan a romantic summer weekend at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, a classic Craftsman-style resort, and enjoy dinner nestled amongst Valentien's artwork and memorabilia at the eponymous restaurant, A.R. Valentien. 
These surroundings would surely soothe any angst provoked in choosing between the  Short Rib Terrine, Pickled Wax Beans & Tarragon Vinaigrette and the Alaskan Halibut with Braised Butterball Potatoes, Ramps, Anzio Artichokes & Fried Parsley.
Of all the native plants that Valentian so lovingly portrayed, one of my favorites is Romneya Coulteri, or the Matilija Poppy (a Native American name: ma-TIL-i-ha). 

As with many other California flora in the 1800s the British sneaked the Matilija Poppy back across the pond where it became a spectacular foreign addition to the English garden.  The Brits have been cultivating many of our native plants  for longer than we have - you should see some of the Ceanothus that grow there!

Once  established, this "fried-egg" plant is an exuberant grower with huge white crinkly flowers.  Plant it mindfully as it can overtake your garden faster than a duck on a June bug.

Until you find a spot for it in your garden, watch it blossom here:

More Matilijas?  How about a Weego Home pillow,  a B Bo Bag, or if have your very own wealthy patron, a genuine Valentien watercolor?

Weekly Weeds by Nancy Knapp