Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday Stuff - Victorian Trading Company

Victorian Trading Company

As I mentioned yesterday, I was obsessed for a while with Avonlea, a show set during the Victorian period.  But I must confess that I wasn't only obsessed with the TV show, I was obsessed with the whole Victorian period.  I loved the clothes, hair, music and decorating style...especially the decorating style. 

It wasn't just me, there was a whole Victorian revival in the '80s and '90s so there were a lot of stores and catalogs that acted as enablers for my Victorian habit.  I even found the perfect nouveau Victorian white wicker sofas and chairs to create the perfect Victorian living room on a budget.

One of these catalog companies still entices me from time to time even though my Victorian obsession has passed, although the wicker remains.  They have some truly lovely merchandise, so romantic, whimsical and just plain unique.  I'm getting this pair of boots even though I'm not sure I'd ever wear them in public.

autumn wellingtons  <br/><img src=/ebaydav/images/bestsellertag.jpg alt=”bestseller tag”>
aren't they beautiful?!
Meet the Victorian Trading Company - enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jasper Tails - What's In a Name

I knew Jasper was Jasper before there was a Jasper.

Wow, reading that makes my head hurt.  But it's true.  In the 1990s I was kind of obsessed with a TV series that was based on Lucy Maud Montgomery's books The Story Girl and The Golden Road.  The series was set on Prince Edward Island (although not filmed there) and featured memorable characters - like Jasper Dale.

But no, I didn't name Jasper after a TV character...I named him after a book character too.

In The Golden Road Jasper Dale was described as the Awkward Man, a painfully shy old bachelor who kept to himself until he finally found the love of his life.  You can read the love story of the awkward man here.

I fell in love with the character of Jasper Dale in the book and was so happy that they brought him to life perfectly on the small screen in Avonlea.

Mag Ruffman and R. H. Thompson played Olivia and Jasper Dale
 So I knew I wanted to have a dog named Jasper one day.  I even confided this to my friend Mary Evelyn weeks before we found our Jasper.  She knew Jasper before there was a Jasper too.

What I didn't know was how perfect the name would be.  As we were to find out within the first few days after bringing Jasper home, he shared more than just a name with Jasper Dale.  Our little Jasper was indeed, The Awkward Man.

More next week!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

10 reasons

Top Ten Reasons I'd Rather Be In Florida

Number 10 - Martin
And just who is Martin, you ask?  Get your minds out of the gutter, I'm not confessing to anything...yet. ;-)  No, Martin is my gator friend.  You don't have a gator friend? You don't know what you're missing.  I love Martin.

He was purchased in a shop in Carmel that was going out of business.  I'd had my eye on him for years but wasn't really tempted until he was 40% off, then I knew he had to be mine.  And, of course, he would eventually belong in Florida, being a gator and all.  He got his chance to travel last December when we drove across country for Christmas.  Now he's a permanent resident in Florida and I look forward to seeing his smiling face each time I visit.  Maybe you're wondering why he's called Martin?  It's in honor of my favorite explorer from the 1920s and 1930s Martin Johnson.

Number 9 - outdoor furniture
The last time I was in Florida I got some really great Adirondack chairs in fun colors.  I'd been coveting them ever since I saw these in Pepin, Wisconsin last summer
chairs outside Harbor View Cafe in Pepin

I spent the whole meal trying to figure out how I could smuggle a couple of those chairs on the plane so I was thrilled to find similar ones in Florida and now I have my very own.

Number 8 - On Demand TV
Our Florida cable system has this On Demand thing for primetime shows and old movies - it's awesome!  I never have to worry about having forgotten to DVR something because it's probably going to show up in On Demand the next day and stay there for a few weeks.  Not that I'm a couch potato addicted to TV or anything. 

Moving on...

Number 7 - Sweet Tomatoes
My friends Cliff and Mary Evelyn introduced me to this place earlier this year and now I'm hooked, I love their salad bar, flatbreads and soups.  They took me to the one in LBV but just before we came back to California in May, they started building a new one just down the street from us.  I can't wait to try it out!

Number 6 - Flip Flops
I grew up running barefoot everywhere.  Even as a teenager I would walk up our long gravel driveway with no shoes...boy I was glad when my dad finally got it paved!  I love wearing strappy sandals and flip flops in the summer because that's as close to barefoot as I can get and not be kicked out of shops and restaurants.  But my part of California is a no flip flop zone.  Not because there's a law, it's because your feet would freeze, turn blue and fall off.  Summer along the central coast is foggy, damp and chilly.  Not the refreshing kind of chilly that most of the country dreams about in the summer but the feel it deep in your bones kind of chill that makes you want to crawl under a blanket and not come out until fall, which is our "summer"...except it's often foggy and chilly then too but nobody wants to admit it.

Now there are beautiful, spectacular days in CA that make you wonder why you'd ever live anywhere else but more often than not it's more jacket weather than flip flops.  So a trip to Florida is a chance to throw away the jackets and break out the flip flops.  I have a lovely collection in Florida and I long to wear them again.

Number 5 -  Dine In Theater
Dinner and a movie?  How about dinner WITH your movie?  The local movie theater has a new offering called Fork and Screen.  I'll be blogging about it next week but lets just say - it's wonderful.  I don't think I'll be able to go back to the regular theater after trying it.

time to order lunch before the movie starts

Number 4 - Uncle Leslie cookies

You probably know them as sugar wafers.  I don't care what you call them, they mean FLORIDA to me.  Yes, I know that they are not specific to Florida and can be bought anywhere but the fact is, I *only* buy them in Florida.  It started years ago when I was shopping in Publix.  They must have had this wafer box prominently displayed on the end of the aisle...where they try to entice the kiddies with junk food.  It worked and I've been picking up a box (or two) on each trip ever since.  It wouldn't be a Florida vacation without Uncle Leslie cookies.

Number 3 - Warm Summer Evenings
It's not always chilly in California.  On days when the sun is shining it can get downright toasty...although toasty in CA is around 70 which would be kinda chilly in Florida, it's the darndest thing.  Anyway, during the day, it can be awfully nice but no matter what time of year, when the sun goes down for the day it's COLD.  There are no twilight walks, no al  fresco evening dinners, no sitting out to watch the stars.  At least not without a heavy jacket and some mittens.

Summer evenings in Florida remind me of my childhood in Illinois, of late night talks with T on the deck of our first house in Virginia, of evening strolls on the beach during vacations.  Warm summer evenings speak of happiness and contentment.  No jackets required.

Number 2 - No Sad Memories
Jasper spent a lot of time in Florida - a Christmas trip in 2003, living there from 2006-2007 and another few months in 2011 (a time we now call Camelot) so the house is filled with his memory.  He was always happy and well in this house, there are no sad memories like there are now in California.  It's a restful place for my mind.

Number 1 - THE POOL!
I can't stress this enough - I love my pool.  LOVE, love, l*o*v*e my pool!  I always wanted a house with a pool so the house in Florida is my house of dreams.  Whenever I daydream about being there, I am always in the pool.  I have gone there on trips when it was too cold to swim, I swam anyway.
As you can see, Jasper was not a fan of the pool

Tug is one of my pool buddies
So there you have it, my top ten reasons.  Now excuse me if I blog and run, I have a plane to catch!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Drive - Monterey Turkish Festival

One of the nicest things about the Monterey peninsula is the number of festivals that go on throughout the year.  It seems like at least once a month there's this group or that organization putting together a festival on the Custom House Plaza.  They all follow about the same pattern - music, food and vendors.  I can never decide which part I like best...probably the food.

Recently we attended the Turkish Festival, which is one of my favorites.  I will admit that I don't know as much about Turkey as I should but I do know that I love the food!

Welcome to the 2011 Turkish Festival!
festival grounds at the Custom House Plaza
Some of the great food offered at this festival
One of our favorite vendors, we love this market with all its unique products from around the world.

Ok, this is really our favorite booth.  They always bring 3 or 4 of their dogs, so sweet!

This is Luna, she was a puppy at the festival last year and now she's a sweet 15 month old!
 And now the part you've all been waiting for - LUNCH!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday Stuff - World Market

Cost Plus World Market Logo

It's no secret that I love to shop but you're never going to find me waxing poetic about high end clothing stores or way too expensive purses and shoes being hawked by the latest celebutart.  I'm not that kind of a shopper.  I love exotic and unique stuff (even if it's an "exotic" chain store) and it's even better if it's cheap a good value.  My favorite Saturday afternoon activity is to find a store full of stuff to poke around in for hours, hopefully coming home with some small treasure.

One of my favorite stores is World Market which reminds me of Pier One meets an international grocery store meets a wine store meets Crate and Barrel.  It's one of those places we go when we're bored, with no particular item in mind and we invariably come out with some new food product or a great gadget/plate/pan/thingy for the kitchen.  They have cute aprons too!

Not too long ago we were hanging out in World Market and found a great wok.  We had an old wok that worked ok but we could immediately see that this one was better quality, more manageable size and, best of all, it was cheap a good value!

Now that he has his new wok, T loves to stir fry things, I think he must spend his free time thinking up new combinations of ingredients and spices and they always come out looking amazing, smelling wonderful and tasting totally delicious.

The Eiffel Tower bottles in the background are from World Market too.

The wok we bought is the natural finish version which means there's no non-stick coating, just pure carbon steel.  It takes a little extra work when you get home, a little elbow grease with some steel wool, but the results are totally worth it and you end up with a perfectly seasoned wok which should last for years and years.  Apparently the natural finish wok can handle higher temperatures than the non-stick version.  Considering that the smoke alarm routinely goes off when T is wokking, this is probably a good thing.

So run, don't wok, down to World Market and pick up one for yourself!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jasper Tails - Let's Start at the Very Beginning

A very good place to start!

Except, if we're really going to tell this story correctly we need to start before the beginning...with Bear.

Meet Bear, who came to live with us during our first year of marriage.  Bear was, without a doubt, my very best friend.  He was sweet and gentle, unless you were the guys building our deck once. He threw himself at our sliding glass door so hard, barking furiously the whole time, and I (and the guys) really thought he was going to break the glass so that he could get at them.  Later I took him for a walk out back while they were still working and he was so quiet and friendly that they didn't think it could possibly be the same dog.

Bear was a Golden Retriever/German Shepherd mix.  In temperament he was very much like a Golden except for one thing - he wouldn't retrieve.  He would get all excited about the idea of retrieving, he always acted like he wanted to join in when Allie, the lab next door, was chasing after the ball so I would try throwing the ball for him.  I would throw the ball and he would look at me as if to say, "you threw it, YOU go get it!"  And then I'd go get it.

Bear died unexpectedly when he was only 9 years old, much, much too soon.  I was devastated and while I was at the vet's office a big Golden turned and looked at me with such understanding that I knew at once I wanted to have a big golden dog to hug.  It kind of became an obsession over the next few weeks while I was grieving over losing my best friend.  With how I feel now, I couldn't even imagine looking for another dog after only a few weeks but I can't say it wasn't right back then because it led us to Jasper.

Easter weekend 1996.  I had been checking the local paper for Golden puppies and decided to visit a local pet store on a whim.  They said they didn't buy from puppy mills but only got dogs from local breeders.  I was disappointed that there weren't any Goldens but there was the cutest Miniature Pinscher that I watched for quite a while because he had an adorable personality.  For some unknown reason, I wanted T to see this Pinscher even though I wasn't the least bit interested in getting it and he had no interest in Pinschers.  But the feeling was strong and so we headed back to the store the next day.

T has always maintained that he woke up that morning and knew that his dog was waiting out there for him although he didn't mention it to me until after we had Jasper, so he was surprised when I told him there weren't any Goldens at the store.  We went anyway and he immediately scanned the store for his puppy.  He was disappointed to find out I was right, there were no Golden puppies...except, what was that bit of yellow fur sticking out underneath that pile of puppies?

Yes, our first sight of Jasper was at the bottom of a bunch of sleeping puppies who all had to be dislodged so that we could see if he was a Golden.  Once the other puppies were out of the way and the gate was opened, Jasper saw his chance for escape and ran under a nearby shelf trying to make himself very small so that nobody would see him.  We probably should have known he was a little "different" at that point.

He hadn't been in the store when I had visited the day before, he had come in later that day so he hadn't even spent a full day there and was probably pretty puzzled about how life kept changing on him.

We brought him home, a little bundle of yellow, with a pig's ear that was bigger than he was.  He was a serious little puppy.

His eyes were wide and open, we soon realized that he knew nothing about life and we needed to teach him everything.  He weighed barely more than a feather, I would sling him over my shoulder to head down to the basement to take him out because he was too little to navigate the stairs.

We noticed right away that every time he was confronted with something new that he didn't understand, he would sit down and get a cute little wrinkle on the top of his head while he appeared to be thinking about this new development.  We called it his frowny face.

It didn't take long, however, until he started enjoying himself and decided that we weren't so bad, especially if we kept giving him fun things like rawhide chips to chew on!

Yep, Jasper decided we were ok and the house was a fun place to play, but what about that big, wide world out there?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Life lesson #2432

Before you add cayenne pepper to your guacamole, measure out the amount rather than just shake it into the avocado or else you'll end up inventing NitroGuac.  Oh wait, you can't invent it, I already did!

Two minutes after I snapped the picture this mixture was orange rather than green.  I had to throw half of it down the sink and even then, it still has quite a kick.  It's pretty yummy actually, I think I'll do it again next time!

So here's a new life lesson - take a risk once in a while and disregard the rules, you may like it...or you may need to run out to the store to buy a new avocado and start all over again.