Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Vintage North Hollywood

Valley Times Collection, 1964. Holiday Decorations at May Co., Laurel Plaza, 1955, designed by Albert C. Martin and Associates. Photo by Steve Young
Oh, those were the days of huge department stores decorated for the holidays! This was one of the largest May Company stores in Southern California. It was on Laurel Canyon in North Hollywood. Later, it became a Macy's. This is one extremely large piece of property. I've heard stories from a few of my friends that grew up in this neighborhood that they learned to drive in the huge parking lot when the store was closed.
In 2006 May Co. became a Macy's. Photo by David Crane, L.A. Daily News.
I would drive over the hill to this store once in awhile, when my own May Company or Macy's didn't have exactly what I was looking for. This store, because of it's size, always had a larger selection of various items.
Today, this store has been demolished. The lot will become a mixed use development, encompassing offices, movie theaters, shops, restaurants, parks and more. Read about it here
Eventually, all of Los Angeles will look the same. These mixed use developments are being built everywhere, especially along my Metro/Expo route from L.A. to Santa Monica. 
Welcome to Everywhere, U.S.A. 

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Monday, December 11, 2017


Chanukah 2017 starts tomorrow night at sundown, 12/12/17. We will light the menorah and sing a few songs. Chanukah is all about the oil. Here's a quick description why: The festival of Chanukah was established to commemorate the Jewish Maccabees' military victory over the Greek-Syrians and the re-dedication of the Second Temple, which had been desecrated by the Greek-Syrians, to the worship of God. Thus, Chanukah is a joyous celebration of Jewish national survival and religious freedom. When the Jews finished cleaning the temple for re-dedication, they wanted to light the eternal light, known as the N'er Tamid, which is present in every Jewish house of worship. Once lit, the oil lamp should never be extinguished. The Festival of the Lights, Chanukah, lasts for eight days to commemorate the miracle of the oil. The word Chanukah means "re-dedication". Only a tiny jug of oil was found with only enough for a single day. The oil lamp was filled and lit. Then a miracle occurred as the tiny amount of oil stayed lit not for one day, but for eight days.
My attempt at office Chanukah Decorations

In my family, since we are of Eastern European / Ashkenazi origin, we fry potato pancakes or latkes Jews with heritage from the Mediterranean or Sephardic countries also enjoy a dessert called Sufganiyot, which are doughnuts (usually filled with jelly), fried in oil. See? It's all about the miracle of the oil!
Here is my Mom's basic latke recipe:

Roz's Latkes
1 pound potatoes, peeled and grated (squeeze starch liquid from potatoes)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons matzoh meal
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
Oil for frying

Mix everything together and then drop the potato mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil.  Pat down into cake.  Fry on both sides until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels before serving with applesauce and sour cream.
I make the same basic latke recipe as Mom.  HOWEVER, over the years in the need to simplify this process, I've opted for frozen hash-browns (defrosted) instead of boiling, peeling, grinding and draining.  This cuts out about one hour of preparation.  Also, those lovely defrosted hash browns never turn purple!  Preservatives.  Yum.
Hanukkah Menorah Knit Dishcloth

My good friend, Rhoda makes her latkes more multi-cultural.  Instead of matzoh meal or flour, she adds Aunt Jemima's powdered pancake mix to the potato mixture.  You should see those puppies rise while frying!  Brilliant. 
Chanukah in Beverlywood with the Bloom and Schaeffer Cousins, 1962

However you celebrate, be joyful, grateful and don't forget to remember the Miracle of the Oil for the Festival of Lights!

To celebrate the season, I recorded this song for Neil Kramer's 12th Annual Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert. Neil is going to broadcast on Facebook LIVE, directly from under the world-famous Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center, New York on Sunday, December 17th, 8 pm, east coast time. On December 18th, he'll link the concert to his blog, so you can see and hear all of the wonderful songs. 

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Friday, December 08, 2017

My Fave Holiday Gift

Barbara Millicent Roberts

Time to concentrate on the upcoming holidays. When I was a child, I always wanted a new doll for Chanukah and/or Christmas. After 1959, my doll of choice was Mattel's Barbie Doll. Barbie came with lots of accessories and clothes. I LOVED the official Mattel clothes. Barbie was always extremely stylish! Later, there was the Barbie Dream House, her Fashion Shop, her Corvette and of course, let's not forget Barbie's most memorable accessory, Ken.
My Mom and Grandma Ethel made some Barbie clothes for me. Later, I made some myself!
I still have my Barbie dolls, along with their wardrobe and carrying case
I found some vintage photos of Barbie dolls on the L.A. Public Library photo archive page. Behold:
1965. Barbie's creator, Ruth Handler from Mattel, Inc. with Barbie and other toys created by her company
1964. Pam of Sun Valley, playing with her extensive Barbie and Ken Doll collection!
Have you made doll clothes lately for your favorite doll? Check out these books if you're looking for inspiration. They make a perfect holiday gift!

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Not Again!?!

Bel Air Fire, Stone Canyon Road, 1961. Photo by Jon Woods for the Valley Times.

One of the worst fires in my memory was the Bel Air fire of November, 1961. The Santa Ana winds were blowing, fanning the flames. So many homes were lost. My Aunt and Uncle owned a home in Bel Air and I remember my Uncle telling me that he was up on the roof with the home's Caretaker, both wielding garden houses to wet down the wood shingle roof and keep the sparks from igniting. It worked! Marvin and Louis save the house when so many structures all around them were damaged
LAFD, near the Bel Air Fire, 1961. Photo by Alan Hyde for The Valley Times
Click HERE to see KTLA-TV news coverage of the Bel Air fire.
As a direct result of the Bel Air fire, the City of Los Angeles initiated a series of laws and fire safety policies which included the banning of wood shingle roofs in new construction. There were also new laws about hillside brush clearance. Thankfully, these laws stand today. 
The high Santa Ana winds that we are experiencing now are REALLY fanning the flames in Southern California. We have numerous fires burning. Closest to us is the Skirball Fire in the Sepulveda Pass, threatening homes in Bel Air and surrounding areas once again! The 405 Freeway is closed in both directions. My office balcony has a view of the Getty Center, in the center of this fire. You can see all the smoke surrounding the white buildings on the hill.
Smoke and fire surrounding Getty Center, Bel Air. December 6, 2017
The air quality on the Westside of Los Angeles isn't great today. Stay safe. Proceed with caution.
Skirball Fire view from La Cienega/Jefferson Metro Platform. Decemeber 6, 2017

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Monday, December 04, 2017

GiGi Granny Coat

Ellen's GiGi Cardi and model, GiGi Hadid

It’s the GG (Gorgeous Gal) Cardigan, but this piece was also seen on model, GiGi Hadid, so that’s why I call this my GiGi Granny Coat! Here’s a link to the retail version that costs $2,800. I made my jacket for about $25.
I used various Red Heart worsted weight yarns for this Granny Cardigan. The tutorial is really great, very informative for every single step of this process. 
I made a shorter version and used the classic granny square instead of the one suggested in the pattern. 

I've received more compliments on this sweater than any other thing I've crocheted in the past few decades! It's very cozy, like being wrapped up in an afghan! I might make another one, but in solid color squares.
Rosetta Getty, Mixed Media Granny Square Cardigan, $2,800. 
I've always said that "granny squares are the building blocks to fashion." I rest my case.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Splitty City!

The Virus Shawl Chart. It's called "Virus" because the pattern spread like one among crocheters around the world!

The Virus Shawl pattern never disappoints! It takes a bit to understand the pattern, but once you've got it, you can fly through the shawl. It is constantly interesting to crochet too. I've made many shawls with this pattern, but this is the first time I've used Trendsetter's Transitions Yarn of the "Smoothie" variety.
My Guild, The El Segundo Slipt Stitchers visited the Trendsetter Warehouse in Van Nuys last August. The owner, Barry Klein gave us an overview of his yarns, along with corresponding patterns. When I saw my friend, Lenora model this Barry Klein designed Sweater/Poncho combo, I immediately LOVED the yarn, so I bought a skein!
Lenora, modelling the "Swancho," with Barry Klein
I'm quite pleased with how my shawl turned out. I love the colors and it's quite large. The drape is lovely too. I used a size "G" crochet hook. HOWEVER, because of the ombre shading in this yarn and the fact that the four thin strands that make up the variegation are not twisted, this yarn is really splitty and difficult to work with! I'm glad this piece is finally done!
Colorway: Turqs to Violets, #211

I changed the border to long picot stitches

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Monday, November 27, 2017


We were lucky to be invited by our friends Margina and Gary to attend Descanso Garden's Enchanted Forest of Light on the day after Thanksgiving. WOW! We love touring Descanso Gardens during the day, but the light installations were really fabulous at night!
We met Margina, Gary, Linda and Nancy for dinner before our tour at the nearby Dish Restaurant in La Cañada. The menu was varied, the decor fun and our meal was delicious.
It was a short drive to Descanso Gardens. Parking was difficult, but Larry managed to find a place on the street near the entrance. Luckily, it was cool, but not too cold at 7:30 pm.
We started our journey through the grounds. The very first display was a knock-out, called "Flower Power." It was a field of glowing glass tulips that changed colors in a rolling wave. Wow! My photos do not do it justice.
Field of Glass Tulips
Tulips, close-up
Our path was lit and the areas were numbered. Next up were the Rainbow Sycamores, very tall trees lit with various color lights.
The next show-stopper was the Starlight Garden. The best way I can describe this area was hanging doily sculptures, lit from the inside, rotating to form more hypnotic shapes on the ground below them. 

This display was slightly dizzy-ing, but was my favorite of the evening.

Starlight Garden...Revolving Doily Lights
We passed by lakes with changing light colors, the Symphony of Oaks that had music emanating from the platforms under each tree. The Fantasy Forest was quite lovely. The lights really do enhance the natural beauty of the plants!

Starlight Garden

Another favorite was the Garden of Good Fortune, lit by hundreds of red lanterns in the Japanese Garden.
Garden of Good Fortune
Scary Larry
Margina made a fantastic little movie of our dinner and Garden adventures. Click HERE to see her masterpiece!
Thank you again, Margina and Gary for including us in this enchanted evening!

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Del Rey Yacht Club

We celebrated another lovely family Thanksgiving yesterday. It was unusually hot in Los Angeles, 95 degrees! I'm most thankful that I did not have to turn on my oven! 
Click on photo to see larger version

Our gang of 22 met at the Del Rey Yacht Club for the buffet. Everything was delicious. Best of all, it was fun seeing my cousins, their children and grandchildren. The last two remaining matriarchs in our family, Roz and Mae, seemed to have a good time too!

Twilight time at Marina del Rey is the best time

Cousin Julia. My Mom always orders balloons for the table
To see more photos of our family Thanksgiving, click HERE.

"Blueberry Pie" for dessert!
Del Rey Yacht Club. 1965, Maurice Fleischman, architect

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Yarny Holiday Gifties

Yikes! I'd better start on my holiday gifties NOW! I waited a bit too long this year, deciding what I was going to make for a few friends, so now I need some yarny gifties that are QUICK to crochet and/or knit. Here are a few that I like. Links are in the captions.
Khaleesi's Dragon Scale Mitts for my "Game of Thrones" fan friends
Ellen Silva's Checkbox Cowl. Photo by Gale Zucker
Not sure where I saw this crocheted hat, but I could figure it out from the photo!
Crochet Reindeer. I like to have a few ornaments on hand
EVERYONE needs a disturbin' Turban! Turban Twist by Bernat

Last year I made Pussy Hats for my girlfriends. The previous year I made beards for everyone! Another year, bandeaux of blooms were all the rage. Beehive beanies were my obsession too! Be sure and click on all those links to see my cute friends in all of their yarny glory! I'm sure inspiration will speak to me this weekend so I can get started!
Are you making gifts for your friends this holiday season?

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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery