Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween

It wasn't until after I had carved the mouth and moved on to the nose that I thought about teeth.

Turns out that you need to think about teeth first.

Oh well.

This could be a baby pumpkin.

Or perhaps an elderly pumpkin.

His teeth are soaking in a glass of denture cleanser (just outside camera range).

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Fun from A to Z

Earlier this summer we were in Bay Books on Coronado Island shopping for a picture book.

Thought it would be fun for our Finnish houseguest to flip through sturdy pages filled with bright colors and easy-to-learn English words.

Like 'beach' and 'sun'.

Searched the entire kiddie section and couldn't find anything suitable.

Which is fine because we came across the PERFECT San Diego souvenir.

Basically you build your own book by taking pictures of various places around San Diego that represent the letters of the alphabet.

A game and a book all rolled into one.

There is even an idea list because maybe, just maybe, you might need help finding an activity or place that begins with the letter Q or X or Z.

After excitedly making the purchase, the book was promptly set aside and then forgotten as we got caught up in the everyday routine of a very active almost two-year old.

But we did remember to take lots and lots of pictures.

Two months after our guests returned to Finland, I got around to assembling the 'present' in time for the little guy's second birthday.

Sorting through all the pictures was half the fun. As was matching them to letters.

Although we didn't make it to all the attractions offered by America's Finest City (local parks and beaches won out on most days) - it became a book about a little boy and his first visit to San Diego.

The author recommends using 'horizontal' pictures but he is a tall boy so the very best ones were 'vertical'.

We are saving Legoland for his next visit but we did make it to the San Diego Zoo.

Which took care of Q is for Quack Quack and Z is for Zebra!

Thursday, 25 October 2012


An American folk art.

Sailors on whaling ships, with a lot of spare time on their hands during long voyages, created common tools using the byproducts of whales.

Carving the teeth and bone.

Scrimshaw: The Art and Craft of the American Whaler is on exhibit at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana through January 2013.

Miniature Cradle, 19th Century American, Whalebone

Turned Thread Case, 19th Century, Sperm Whale Ivory

Pie Crimper, 1890 - American, Sperm Whale Ivory and Wood

Apple Corer, 1850 - America, Sperm Whale Ivory and Whalebone

Also, in the exhibit is a miniature working guillotine produced by French prisoners-of-war.

Must see to believe!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Read My Pins - Madeleine Albright

A collection of pins has been touring the country.

All worn by Madeleine Albright, America's ambassador to the United Nations (1993-1997) and then first woman to occupy the position of Secretary of State (1997-2001).

She prefers pins to the old-fashioned old-lady term brooches, according to an interview.

Albright's collection of pins is being shown in order to make foreign policy 'less foreign' and tell a story.

And they do.

Once an ordinary fashion accessory, the pins became a diplomatic message after the following occurred:

         A poem in a Bagdad newspaper compared her to an 'unparalleled serpent'
         and that lead Albright to wear a snake pin when she met with Saddam Hussein.

From then on, the straight-talking negotiator began expressing her many moods through her jewelry.

On good days she was wearing flowers and balloons. Bad days were all about bugs and carnivorous animals.

Difficult meetings might require an eagle or perhaps atlas, indicating large responsibility.

The variety of pieces (both costume and antiques) on display in her collection range from flag pins to 'Breaking the Glass Ceiling' to a pin that includes a piece of the Berlin Wall. There is a clay heart that she wears every Valentine's Day (handmade by her youngest daughter when she was only 5 years old) and these sit amongst the angels, tributes to Uncle Sam and a very large (worn over the shoulder) bejeweled zebra pin that she is wearing in a photograph with Nelson Mandela.

It is an amazing collection, jewelry and photographs, history and fashion -- definitely worth a visit.

The collection can be seen at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana through January 13, 2013.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

San Diego Public Market

This high-ceilinged former boiler factory in Barrio Logan was given a splashy paint job and is being transformed into a permanent public market.

It opened last month and two days a week (Sunday and Wednesday) is filled with vegetables, prepared food (like a tamale stand and a sushi food truck), vintage jewelry, flowers and so much more.

The curry and rice combo plate was delicious. There is a bit of scattered seating and those near me raved about their sushi rolls.

Samples were given - salsa, pumpkin bread, raw macadamia nut, slice of crunchy persimmon, watermelon cooler...

An indoor farmers market.

But this is just the first phase of a huge project destined to include special events as well as permanent shops that will open in the Spring.

There is street parking as well as a large lot in the back alley (2-way street) behind the building.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Halloween Mummy Candles

What is it about Halloween that brings out latent craftiness?

The urge to buy odd supplies.

Googly eyes, Mod Podge (you could probably use glue) and white gauze

Stand in the craft section debating what size 'eyes' to purchase.

I blame it on Pinterest.

Plus this has got to be the simplest Halloween project imaginable.

Take an empty glass jar (salsa jar, jelly jar, whatever). Slap on some Mod Podge (or glue) and wrap the gauze (start from the bottom) and overlap. Just before reaching the top, cut a few inches of the gauze horizontally to wrap and tie. Glue on googly eyes. Drop in a black tea light.

Light a match.


For maximum creepy ambience, set mummy candles on fireplace hearth and open doors.

This will 'light up' and expose the dust, dirt and cobwebs that have accumulated since last winter.


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Fall Foliage in San Diego

Driving through Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire or Massachusetts during the 'leaf-peeping' months of late September through early November provides an explosion of dazzling colors -- reds, oranges and yellows.

In San Diego, we only get a bit of Fall color.

And you have to look for it.

Here is an example of mustard and slate.

Or maybe just mustard since rocks are not technically foliage.

Beautiful color, in my opinion.



A welcome change from evergreen trees and bushes and healthy sprinkler-fed lawns.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Cricket Cage and Bug Boxes

Years ago, I got invited for tea and a chance to meet Gogo.

Gogo, the cricket.

They are considered pets in China.

And are kept in elaborate cages.

My Russian friend, Alya, an expat living in Beijing, had purchased Gogo for her young daughter.

Although crickets can sing/chirp, which means they are more exciting (verbally) than a goldfish, they still make a rather odd pet.

But their cages are little works of art.

Before we left China, I found an assortment of bug boxes and a cricket cage at the Panjiayuan 'Dirt' Market, an enormous flea market.

I love these tiny souvenirs.

In San Diego, we have crickets in the garage, chirping loudly, similar to the sound of a clothes dryer or microwave beeping when it is done.

I am perfectly fine with crickets in the garage.

While their pretty house sits empty on the mantel.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Gloria Steinem

Last night, 1300 people (mostly women) were in attendance at Beth Am Congregation in Carmel Valley to hear Gloria Steinem, the inaugural speaker for 'The Inspiring Minds Speaker Series'.

At 78-years old, this feminist icon is articulate and engaging.

She spoke passionately about women in the workplace, reproductive rights, pay inequality, violence against women and world-wide humanitarian efforts.

Often sharing alarming statistics.

And yet Gloria calls herself a hope-aholic.

She believes that you should say what you think, do what you love, hang out with people that support you.

"Hang out with people that make you feel smart. Because you are smart."

There was a Q&A session whereby many San Diegans praised her work and leadership before getting to their point.

Humbled by this outpouring, Gloria took a moment to recount a story whereby an alarmed woman came to her and said, "My daughter doesn't know who you are." Gloria responded, "That's ok, does she know who she is?"

A local teacher came to the microphone to explore the fact that girls in her class could not express what they need, when asked specifically. Viewing it as selfish.

This lead to a discussion about the often-used phrase:  Girls can be anything they want.

"That is a lie. Because when it doesn't happen, those girls think it is their fault. Girls should be told you should be able to do whatever you want."

Many of the questions had to do with furthering the efforts of feminism.

"We are communal beings, this is what we need. Make connections. Network. Use your voice. Listen."

Before leaving the stage, she encouraged everyone in the room to turn and introduce themselves.

What a night.

It concluded with spontaneous handshakes and hugs and a room full of strangers.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Watering Cans

I did a double take at the display of watering cans available at the Walter Andersen Nursery.

Not because they were blindingly bright, which they were.

And not because one was a lady bug, that made sense, and might inspire young kids to get involved with gardening.

But what was that pepto-bismol-pink thing wearing a strand of pearls?

Ohhhhhh, it is a snail watering can.

Because who wouldn't want to have yet another snail in their yard.

Oh my!

Perhaps it would intimidate the slimy non-fashionista snails that are destroying the plants.