Friday, May 13, 2016

bear in the 'hood





From daughter Caitlin in front of her house.  All we have in our neighborhood is the occasional turkey.  Know your neighbors.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

don't miss this read




This is a spectacular read.  Put it on the top of your bedside stack.  The "hero" is a displaced New York Jew who finds himself in Oslo, Norway.  I am loving this book, thanks to daughter Cait's recommendation.


Friday, May 6, 2016

cookies



It's cold and rainy here in the valley.  Perfect weather for baking cookies.  Of course staying in bed with the duvet up to your chin, reading a good book and sipping hot cocoa would be a good idea, too.  But I opted for the cookie business.

One of my favorite Instagram sites in nytfood, a treasure trove of recipes sent several times a day.  A couple of weeks ago it was Peanut Butter Cookies.  If there had been smell-o-vision I probably would have eaten my iPod.  Instead, I copied out the instructions, then bought what I needed, put on my apron and went at it yesterday.

I hauled out the food processor (to grind up the peanuts), the sifter, the standing mixer, cookie sheets and parchment paper.  The entire kitchen was involved in this endeavor.  Here is the dough almost ready.



Into the oven!  The traditional crosshatch markings on peanut butter cookies.  I have no idea why they are supposed to look like that.


Perfectly done.  Not cake-like.  Crisp and crunchy.


Absolutely delicious!  I now have about 60 cookies to tide me over through the coming chilly days!

Oh, and this is how the kitchen looked when it was all over.




Friday, April 29, 2016

the last of the beach



A few random notes from the last few days at the beach before we closed up the house and left town.

The day before departure, the coconut harvester showed up with his machete and his dog.  Fernando had arranged for him to come and harvest all the fruit from the tree in the back and the ones in the lot next door.  He went into the back, took off his flip flops and shimmied up the tree, his mcshete dangling from  a long rope around is waist.



He disappeared into the overhanging fronds, then hauls the knife up and started hacking off great clusters of coconuts.  He tied them to the rope and gently lowered them to the ground where Fernando untied them.  He hauled the rope back up, cut more, lowered them, etc.  Here was about half the harvest.


What he cut from the palms in the adjacent lot was about three times this number, although the nuts aren't as large or as juicy; the tree in the back gets regular irrigation.  The others just have to survive on their own.  Total was probably around 100 nuts total. Fernando loaded them into his truck and took them down to the puesto to use in the bar.

For my last beach lunch, this beautiful, sweet and juicy melon.


Two hours later I found myself here, in this super-sterile and colorless airport.  Cruel and unusual, I'd say.


This was one of my fellow travelers.


Three and a half hours later we were in Los Angeles, and a few hours later we were home in bed.  Long day but good to be back anyway.  Woke in the night, heard no surf, had NO idea where I was or how I got here.  Now, after a week, I'm almost (almost) resigned to the fact that I have to wait  8 months until I get back.  Fortunately, a lot will be happening in that time.  First big event:  Em's graduation next month.  Already packing.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

the Oscars




That would be Oscar de la Renta, now the subject of a gorgeous retrospective at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.  Yesterday I went down to the City to feast my little eyes on all his beautiful designs and it was a really wonderful show.  My friend Diane picked me up at 8:30 and off we went through pouring rain that, blessédly, turned into sunshine a bit later in the morning.  Here are just a few of the many, many selections in the show ~ a total of over 100, I believe.  Needless to say the place was jammed with admirers, mostly women but a sprinkling of men, but most in tow with their spousal units.

Nice nautical look for my arrival at the beach


A little something for evenings at home

Hand beaded with pink, teal and silver crystals.

Black lace and silk taffeta, very slight bustle in the back to make a tiered skirt.  Note the hat.  Very Spanish.


This was one of my favorites.  The skirt is made of silk taffeta in a wonderful rust-burgundy color with ruffles that make it look like a huge flower.  I don't know how one would get through a doorway, for example, or actually sit down comfortably.  But it looks terrific.  Very plain black silk fitted jacket. 

Teal silk satin evening cape
Yellow silk satin under the teal cape.  Stunning use of colors and fabrics; lots of jewel tone satin throughout the show. 


The little train on this silk taffeta dress is lined in hot pink satin.  The contrast is absolutely delicious1


Another favorite.  Hand painted silk caftan, perfect for my oh-so-glamorous life at the beach.  Although I certainly couldn't touch it, it looks utterly weightless.

Another gown for an evening out ~ where, I couldn't say.

This dress has beautiful hand-embroidered carnations strewn across it.  It's white silk satin, so simple and elegant.  I'll take it!

Just a small sampling of the whole collection.  A couple of really fabulous wedding dresses, lots of gold lamé-type fabrics, beading, glitter and furs.  Mostly evening clothes; not many go-to-work stuff.  Oh, I guess most of those who were dressed by him didn't do that sort of thing.

We then moseyed down the road to the Beach Chalet for a lovely, leisurely lunch and a lot of catch-up talk.

Windy, so lots of whitecaps on the ocean
We drove home the "long" way, across the Golden Gate, through Napa and the as-far-as-the-eye-can-see vineyards.  I haven't been the the Napa Valley for a while, maybe 3 years, and the area planted in grapes has easily doubled.  Who drinks all that stuff?


So that's how I spent my Wednesday.  I loved every minute of it.  And we got all the world's problems if not solved, at least addressed in a calm and rational manner.  How's that for a new idea?


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

here today . . . gone tomorrow



Yes, that time has arrived when we are packing up the house to return to the US.  Tomorrow afternoon is the departure date, sad to say.  And it has only been four months this season, not the usual five.  We have to get home so we can pack up the car and head up to Walla Walla for g'daughter Emiy's college graduation.  Seems like only yesterday . . . well, never mind.

Last post was pre-Ajijic adventure.  It's a very charming place, filled with gringo expats from Canada and the US.  As such, lots of restaurants, shops, a couple of good bookstores, and a supermarket (Superlake) that has goodies in it you can't even find in the Safeway and certainly not in any other Mexican market we've ever been in.  The town is strung around the shores of Lake Chapala, about an hour from Guadalajara.  Streets are cobbled, sidewalks are cobbles, it's a hell of a place to try to walk.  But walk we did and discovered some lovely little nabes, and some mighty colorful buildings.  The jacaranda was at the end of its bloom, but there were enough left to cause an occasional gasp from yours truly.  We ate at a Thai restaurant, a casual cafe close to the lake.   I had the best lamb burger imaginable, and at Adelita's  where I ordered grilled salmon and Mr. C a succulent pork tenderloin.  We were definitely NOT in Cuyutlán!

The home we stayed in was such a lovely retreat; quiet, cool, very comfortable.  This is a look at the little balcony off our bedroom.



From the porch I could look across the courtyard to the other casita where the owners live.  This property originally had just one house on it ~ the one where their guests stay ~ and they built a separate house for themselves.  Both are absolutely lovely.


The grounds are immaculately groomed and filled with flowers, ferns, all sorts of exotica.



Massive pots of these gorgeous amaryllis are all through the two gardens.

Monday morning I went with our hostess down to the central plaza to join her and some friends for coffee.  Imagine having a real coffee cafe right in your Mexican town. (You are lucky to get a cup of Nescafe here.)



Around this plaza are restaurants, a bank, shops, a couple of municipal offices, a tiny fruit an veggie market (where we bought a sweet and delicious melon).  Soon enough it was time for lunch.  We decided on this place


The food was excellent and also beautiful to look at.  I had a Thai chicken salad; spicy, crunchy, delicious.


Mr. C had a big bowl of beef soup loaded with veggies, fat noodles and a heavenly aromatic broth.


After lunch we walked over to this salon so I could get my very overly long hair cut.


Oh, have I mentioned how colorful the buildings in the town are?  Like San Miguel.





Tiles on the front of a house
We especially admired this gallery facade.  ALEX:  TAKE NOTE!!

Colorful plaque on the exterior wall of a huge hacienda on the shores of Lake Chapala
On our walk home ~ me with my sore feet and new hair cut ~ we admired the waning days of the jacaranda and primavera blossoms.  Here's an intertwining of them both on a street not far from where we were staying.


Some interesting wall art, too.


This is not on a public building.  Just on the side of a private home.
 Wednesday we went to the weekly tianguis and what a market it is!  Everything ours is and much, much more, including several flower sellers.  I've never understood why we don't have at least one.  Colorful goods, food, meat, fish, crafts, fabrics all laid out in three or four  blocks.

Sizzling empanadas

Different kinds of sweets and nuts . . .


and the very colorful bowls to put them in.  I love this lacquerware stuff.

So that was it for this trip to Ajijic.  Both of us are seriously contemplating  a longer stay next season, perhaps rent a house for a month.  But that's for next year

Meanwhile, we have been engaged in the usual shut-up-the-house activities in preparation for tomorrow's departure.

Monday was the last tianguis and we didn't need much but went anyway out of habit.  Just outside the market were some mango trees loaded with mango wanna-bes.  For some reason we got very few mangoes this season.  They just didn't ripen in time.


 Tuesday was my last domino game . . .


Friday was our last stroll down the deserted malecon for dinner at Dago's . . . 


and Sunday was our last comida at El Barcel and beach walk for this season.


If you have managed to wade through this world's longest blog post, I salute you!  If I didn't wait so long this wouldn't happen, right?