Sunday, 30 January 2011

Cabrillo National Monument

This National Park was named after Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.

As the first European to set foot on our west coast, he made history in 1542.

His monument stands against the background of San Diego’s skyline.

There are hiking trails nearby.

The Point Loma Lighthouse (San Diego’s first lighthouse) is furnished to showcase historic detail.

A winding staircase offers views from the windows but this gate prevents access to the top.

We used binoculars to spot whales (migration takes place during January and February) but instead saw one seal, many boats, a dozen surfers and the most incredible views.

 The hillside is blooming along the coastal trail.

Waves hit hard, sending spray up the path.

Could have sat and listened to the surf all day long...

and at many different vantage points.

The access road in and out of this beautiful park is flanked by headstones, in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, overlooking the city on one side…

and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

Cabrillo National Monument remains untouched.

Yet in close proximity to our bustling downtown just across the bay.

Saturday, 29 January 2011


It is a short read.

About reading.

And books.

Specifically the Queen’s reading habits and book selections.

It is charming and insightful.

Transported me back to life in London.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Spring Rolls

Filled with crunchy vegetables.

An Asian wrap dipped in spicy peanut sauce.

Make dainty rolls (very little filling) or go for the heartier bursting-at-the-seams style (shown below).

Slightly tricky to make.

But totally do-able.

Last Friday I taught 80 students.

First we went over the ingredients, one-by-one. I held up a sprig of mint, pronounced the word, wrote it on the board and then in unison we spelled it out loud.

M - I - N - T

The students are all adult refugees, primarily from Burma, eager to learn our language and assimilate into American life. This English/healthy cooking class is a joy for me.

This is how we made the spring rolls.

Prep the filling ingredients (above, clockwise): Shredded carrots, cilantro, shredded Napa cabbage, Thai basil, shredded red cabbage, mint, green onion (chopped finely or in slender strips), cooked cellophane noodles tossed with tablespoon of rice vinegar and cooked shrimp (middle).

Also needed, rice paper.

NOTE: Skip the shrimp to make it vegetarian. Other types of lettuce can be substituted for Napa cabbage (such as Bibb lettuce). Cucumber spears would add a nice crunch. Experiment with different vegetables but stick with the traditional herbs (Thai basil, mint, cilantro) and use cellophane noodles (or even a thin pasta like vermicelli).

Have EVERYTHING ready before you assemble.

Lay out a kitchen towel and a cake pan filled with warm water.

Place rice paper in water and let it soak (approx. 30 - 60 seconds) until it is pliable and bends easily.

If you soak too long it will become a sticky gooey mess and you will need to start over with new rice paper.

Once the rice paper is pliable, pull it out of the water, lay it on a kitchen towel and quickly blot off excess water.

Immediately fill the rice paper with a layer of shrimp (example, below right) and then the rest of the ingredients (example, below left). The rice paper is transparent when wet so it might be difficult to see in the photo.

Pull the right and left sides of the rice paper over the filling (by about an inch) and roll up (much like you would a burrito). 

This technique gets easier with practice. The last spring roll you make will be incredible!

To complete the meal:

Spicy Peanut Sauce

3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
¾ cup water

In a small saucepan, cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden. Whisk in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, whisking. Then lower the heat and simmer the sauce, whisking, until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Cool to serve.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Caught Up In The Movie

We take turns picking a movie.

My husband sat patiently through Black Swan (although he wondered if he could get his money back) so I felt obligated to see The Fighter.

Not that I thought it would be a bad movie.

Just that I have no real interest in boxing.

Two hours and six minutes of boxing on a large screen.

But somehow I got caught up in the movie and the story and the athleticism of the sport and started to cheer ‘out loud’ and quite loudly during one of the matches.

Belatedly realizing that yes, I was still sitting in a movie theatre.
Reading Cinemas in the Gaslamp Quarter on Fifth Avenue

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Liberty Station

Just off Rosecrans Street.

Located at the former Naval Training Center in Point Loma.

It has a little bit of everything.

But the best part is that all the shops, restaurants, and galleries are tucked away.

Spanish Revival architecture remains the focal point.

As it should be.

Limited signage. 

No ugly billboards or neon advertising.

Great places for lunch, with indoor and outdoor seating.

Order the cheese plate at Tender Greens.

Or the Chipotle Barbeque Chicken Salad. 

Toyed with the idea of getting the Happy Vegan, but really, who am I kidding.

Stopped by a gallery.

Free admission to the watercolor exhibit.

Out on the lawn, a doggie obstacle course was set up.

This pointer (if my google search on white dogs with brown spots is correct) gave it his best shot.

The background music, sounds from the Amazon, came from the building marked Capoeira Brazil. 

Liberty Station - a place for walking, viewing, eating, listening!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Doggone Cute

Happened upon a canine obstacle course.

Not something you see every day.

This pooch, perhaps her name is Princess, had finished and was perched atop her cage eagerly awaiting a water bowl.

Even sweaty and disheveled, she was rockin' a pony tail that matched her collar.

Gotta love a gal with style!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Outdoor Centerpiece

Thought our patio table needed something.

Perhaps a low plant that guests could easily see over, talk over, toast their glasses over.

Found just the right pot.

And it has been sitting empty for months.

Except for pollen and bird droppings.

Since we seem to be having a January summer (with temperatures already hovering near 80 degrees), it was time to get something growing.

The shallow dish is perfect for succulents and cacti.

Something about liking a dry bottom to avoid root rot.

Added soil and then sprinkled some cactus ‘slow-release’ fertilizer. Sold to me by an overzealous garden center employee.

Added some plants. A very prickly cactus and several pointy, yet less dangerous succulents.

Easy project.

Wish the vegetable garden was going to be this simple!

This is how it looks one year later (12/31/12).

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Is Anyone Listening?

Auditioned and became a volunteer in 2004.

A chance to read.

Out loud.

On air.

With buttons to push and a headset with attached microphone.

My idea of a good time.

For a very worthy organization.

The KPBS Radio Reading Service broadcasts the readings of newspapers, books and magazines to those with low vision, blindness and other print impairments. Airing 24 hours a day over a private audio channel, the Reading Service is accessible to qualified recipients in San Diego through a specialized radio, and online via audio webstream. All readings are produced by volunteers.

Over the years I have been partnered with a variety of readers including a local weather person who was immaculately dressed and coiffed. For the sound booth.

I assumed that all of us, were to some extent...

(what is the word I am searching for)


Who enjoyed performing.

And then my current reading partner shared the following: A colleague at her work mentioned that he had gone to the website, listened to the broadcast and heard her on air.

She was taken aback and slightly horrified. "I can do this because I assume that no one is listening."

How interesting is that.

I am motivated to go back to the station on a regular basis because I assume everyone is listening! 

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Rusty Sculpture Trail

Sunday we went on a hike to see if water was overflowing Lake Hodges Dam.

When it does, it is quite spectacular.

It is a rare occurrence.

San Diego is usually dealing with drought conditions.

On our block, we have more than a handful of neighbors who have already ripped up their lawns and gone xeriscape to limit water use.

The weather person presents our rainfall numbers in one hundredths of a percent, as in ‘today we had .07 percent rain fall at Lindbergh Field’.

In 2010, it rained and rained and then rained some more so it wasn’t unreasonable to think it might be overflowing the dam.

We started out at the southern point of the Del Dios Gorge Trail.

At eight in the morning it was quiet, except for birds, and still a bit muddy.

Lots of green so it was easy to forget about the wild fires that passed through here…until you happened upon a charred tree.

 Made it to the dam.

The water level was high but no, hadn’t reached the top.

What was surprising was the number of rusty ‘sculptures’ along the trail.

The bed frame.

The bicycle.

The vehicle.

Expected an abundance of water and came across a collection of rust...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Blast from the Past

Can’t believe this restaurant is still around.

Went to Bob’s Big Boy when I was a kid.

It was in Glendale.

Found out that there is one in Temecula.

Here is the statue of Bob out front.

He really is a BIG BOY. 

There is an expression ‘you can’t go home again’.


But you can go back to Bob’s Big Boy and re-live a childhood meal.

Because they still serve milk shakes along with the silver canister containing the ‘extra’.

And they still shred the lettuce and put special sauce on their Original Double Decker Burger.

There were no cell phones when Bob (and I) were little, so it’s no surprise to see a phone booth out front.

So much fun taking a trip down memory lane!

Even though it is quite an extensive menu, I don’t need to go back

…it’s just nice to know that some things don’t change.