Saturday, 31 August 2013

Ai Se Eu Te Pega

This song played nonstop while we were in Brazil many years ago.

Catchy, upbeat.

The tune got stuck in my head.

But I don't speak Portuguese.

So after returning home it was difficult to track down.

"Hey, have you heard the song that goes hhmm, huh, hmmm, huh, I silchie fairgoo....?"

Nope, no one had heard of it.

Had it not hit the States? Was it my humming skills? Lack of correct pronunciation for the few words that I remembered?

This summer, the song came on while we were lunching at the lake house in Finland.

Yippeee....."What is this song?"

Our Finnish friends immediately held up their cell phone, pointed it at the stereo and their app said:

          Artist:  Michel Telo
          Song: Ai Se Eu Te Pega!

Are you kidding me?

You hold up a phone and it can spit out information from 'listening'.

Is that crazy or what?

Are ALL OF YOU holding up your phone to do THAT?

Am I the last person to know this?

Well-travelled but app-ignorant.

Yup, that's me.

Friday, 30 August 2013

San Clemente

Heading north, after Camp Pendleton, there is a string of exits for Ave this and Ave that....I took Ave Presidio and headed west.

Following the Beach/Pier signs.

This is the view from the enormous parking lot.

Fancy lights compete with towering palm trees.

Hot pink bougainvillea adds a shot of color against all the green and blue.

Clock tower is easy to see from a distance.

Reminder to feed the meter, apply more sunblock, get back in time for an important meeting.

The pier stretches out and out...

and out.

Thatched roofs cover eating spots along the beach.

Trains roll by. 

Very close by.

You need to cross the railroad tracks to step on sand.

And apparently the city appreciates birds.

Yet another reason to visit this quaint beach town.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Vintage Step Stool Chair

House Vintage (formerly known as Out of the Blue), a boutique on South Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach, is actually a cottage that was built in 1922.

Inside and out, there is a range of hand-made and re-purposed treasures.

Such as this gem.

Which I found irresistible.

I am attracted to old, rusty, useable items.

Not sure what this says about me.

Our wood floors seem to highlight the brown spots on the seat.

The steps are embossed with the name Cosco. 

Not to be confused with Costco, which is not known for old, rusty gems.

Finding this chair was as exciting as spotting a great pair of shoes.

And since I prefer to be barefoot...

it is even better than a new pair of shoes.

Thanks dear brother for my early birthday present!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Celebrating Julia

Today is Julia Child's birthday, she would have been 101.

Thankfully there are cookbooks and videos and articles and anecdotes to keep us all inspired.

Julia. A lover of good food. From all accounts, a lover of life.

For many years, I worked with a chef, also born on August 15th, who has tremendous admiration for Julia and always held a cooking class on their mutual birthday. It was great fun and I miss the comradery.

Reason enough to continue the tradition.

So I urge you to celebrate August 15th with a group of friends that like to cook and love to eat and look good in pearls.

Here are a few ideas for your own Julia Child's-themed luncheon or dinner party.

Start with a strand of pearls and a French apron.

Or take it a step further.

Pearls, a button down shirt, and a badge.

Did you know that Julia and her cookbook collaborators, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, started an informal cooking school in Paris in 1952, called L'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes, held in Julia's kitchen? Even after the school was disbanded, the spirit of the group lived on. Years later, Julia pinned the insignia (her husband had designed the logo) to her blouse before each televised cooking program.

Invite Julia into your home.

Here is Julia Child: America's Favorite Chef (2004) from Netflix.

Surround yourself with her cookbooks.

Grab butter, eggs, cream and a tart pan and whip up a Quiche a la Julia.

Balance all that dairy with a large summer salad with fresh tomatoes.

Add a side dish of zucchini tian.

Think French as you cook, as you set the table.

My favorite floral dishes came from a trip to Provence.

Indulge in a decadent dessert. 

Like the Queen of Sheba Cake from Julia's cookbook.

Then gild the lily, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some fresh raspberries

Eat, drink and remember to speak in her wonderful accent.

Sprinkle your conversation with French words and phrases.


Bon Appetit.

C'est Merveilleux.

Vive la France.

Joyeux Anniversaire Julia!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Sweet Rides in Rancho Sante Fe

On Saturday mornings, along Avenue De Acacias in Rancho Sante Fe, proud car owners pull up and park.

Bikers, walkers and folks on their way to brunch all converge to admire and chat and take photos.

This is what we spotted at 10:00 this morning.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Call Him Bob, For Short

At every summer pool party there is a standout.

An exceptionally cute bikini. A blow-up raft with attached palm tree for shade. The perfect back flip. Someone sporting a new tattoo. 

Trust me, there is always something.

This year it was...


It made me laugh just to look at it.

The Bobber is basically a hinged receptacle sporting a deep 'bowl' that holds ice and beverages.

It bobs around the pool offering thirst-quenching amusement all day long!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Eleven Things I Have Learned About Finland

1)  It is the land of the midnight sun.

A natural phenomenon occurs in summer months at places north of the Arctic Circle.

Around the solstice (June 21) and given fair weather the sun is visible for the full 24 hours.

2)  Finnish People are Fabulous

The Finns are considered to be quiet and reserved. They say things straight and honestly. Considerable weight is attached to the spoken word and words are chosen carefully and for the purpose of delivering a message. All unnecessary small talk is avoided. Silence is regarded as part of the conversation. Finns are better at listening than at talking.

Those generalizations paint a fairly accurate picture.

That being said, it might be difficult to get to know a Finn, but once you do, you've possibly made a friend for life!

3)  Silver Birch is Finland's national tree.

Occasionally one uses leafy, fragrant boughs of Silver Birch to gently beat oneself in a sauna. The boughs are called vihta or vasta. This has a relaxing effect on the muscles.

FInland is Europe's most heavily forested country.

There are about twenty indigenous tree species growing in Finland, the most common ones being pine, spruce and birch.

4)  Finnish people love their saunas.

Traditional saunas are heated by wood. One gets naked, goes in the sauna, then jumps into cold water to cool off.

There was a time when people were born in the sauna (not when it was heated, of course) because it was a sterile place. 

5)  Marimekko is a Finnish company based in Helsinki that is noted for brightly colored prints and simple styles.

Like these flowered plates and napkins.

Striped and polka-dotted curtains.

And distinctive beach towels.

6)  New potatoes are one of the highlights of the Finnish summer. 

These small potatoes have a delicate thin skin that washes away when rubbed with a hard bristle (or fingers) under water. Rye bread is a staple of the Finnish diet. Herring is popular and the pickled variety is packed in different sauces (i.e. mustard).

If you are very lucky, someone will make you a sandwich that combines all three ingredients plus fresh dill.

7)  Where does one go to gamble in Finland?

The grocery store!

Also in the grocery store, most lettuce is sold 'in dirt' meaning the whole plant has been plucked from the ground/pot and wrapped in plastic to be sold at the market.

8)  Speaking of Finnish food, there are many unusual meals and treats all year long.

Many years ago we visited Finland in March and ate a hearty dinner of reindeer with lingonberries.

This year, in the warm month of July, we stopped often for an ice cream cone. And no matter where we went - Helsinki, Savonlinna, or the little town next to the lake house, one flavor was ALWAYS available.

Licorice ice cream. Which looks like vanilla with swirls of black. It tasted unusual, yet delicious and addictive. Yummy.

9)  Finnish words can have many letters.

Which get smaller and smaller when they have to be squeezed onto road signs (see 2nd arrow below).

One Finnish word that you already know is sauna - so now you have a head start learning the language!

Another interesting fact about the language is:

The Finnish alphabet has two umlaut vowels: Ä (a-umlaut) and Ö (o-umlaut).

You can see the frequency of use on these pages in a childrens' book.

And while we are on the subject of books, could these illustrations be any cuter?

Especially the hair!

10)  Finnish babies sleep in government issued boxes.

Yes, they do.

In a tradition started 75 years ago, the Finnish government supplies a care package to all expectant families - which includes everything from onesies to diapers to hats (even condoms).

It all comes in a sturdy box with bedding and a small mattress that can be set up as the baby's first bed.

11)  Finns and stripes go together!

In any colors, on bottom or on top...

In conclusion, one of my favorite stories (that appeared in a BOOK ABOUT FINLAND at the Helsinki airport) went something like this:

A Finnish woman was concerned about her husband's feelings for her as they had been married for quite a long time.

Finally, she asked.

He said, "I told you that I love you when we got married 50 years ago. If anything changes, I will let you know."

This just cracks me up!