Something on your mind? ? ? :-)

If you would like to leave a comment to tell me what you like or if you would like to share an experience you have had, have suggestions for new adventures, or would just like to share what's on your mind, please feel free to do so! I would really, really love to hear any feedback you would care to offer!

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Thanks! And, again, thanks for stopping by! I really hope to hear from you and to see you again soon! Let me know how you think I am doing! :-)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Long Beach Farmer's Market

Sunday is shopping day.  I hit my local farmer's market in Long Beach near the marina and stock up on freshly harvested, organically grown fruits and veggies while being serenaded by an assortment of musicians playing for tips.  Usually you can find a couple of the same people there every week, but from time to time there are a few other people or bands who will show up. 

I'm afraid I've loaded this post down with pictures.  I hope you enjoy them!

Eggplants galore!
Make sure you bring your shopping bags to carry all your goodies home!

The best thing about the farmer's market is all the free samples!  Everyone is trying to entice you into buying their produce and have all their samples out.  I must say, it is a very effective way to build sales!  Everything tastes so wonderful, I end up buying way more than I can eat!  Who can refuse a fresh, sweet juicy peach, apricot or pluot?  Or a hand-full of blueberries or cherries?  And, you can ask questions regarding where the food came from and how it was grown, when it was harvested, etc. . . . and mostly, they know the answers.  Try that in a regular grocery store! 

If you're feeling a little whimsical, why not stop by the face painter before you start shopping and get a little temporary tattoo to put a smile on your face while you decide between the french fingerling or german butter potatoes.  It may help keep you from getting too serious while making these important decisions!  :-)

There's the mushroom lady who always has a variety of mushrooms that seem to sell out every time.  She is happy to offer suggestions for preparing and serving her produce.

Old Town Baking Company, the bakery with the most delicious sourdough.  I can't get enough of it!  Garlic, cheese bread, anyone?  Holy-moly!  Yum, yum!  Not to mention their dessert breads; chocolate, banana and strawberry breads.  Positively de-lish!

And then there's the olive oil vendor with the best olive oil around, Adams Ranch.  I buy all my olive oil from them now.  They have the light Ava's Acre for salad dressings, and the heartier Manzanilla for dipping.  They will pour out little samples for you to taste so you can be sure to get just the right oil for what you need!

Speaking of salads, if you need the makings for an excellent salad, just look around, you can find everything you need there!  Fresh tomatoes, arugula, spinach, lettuces, onions, carrots, cucumbers, salad mixes, radishes, and on and on!

Weiser Family Farms has a booth there as well, with the best potatoes, carrots, beets and melons.  They have developed a tasty little potato that is purple with yellow spots or stripes.  If you get a chance, you should try them!  They also have garlic and onions.  The varieties of carrots they grow I have never seen before and they are extremely tasty!  I love, love, love them roasted.  In season, they have unusual varieties of melons, that you can't find in the supermarkets, and they are so sweet and buttery smooth.  The vendor is always happy to help you pick out produce and tell you which melons need to be eaten right away and which will be ready in a few days and will give you serving suggestions for anything they happen to have on hand at the moment.

The Peanut Dudes have a wide variety of freshly roasted peanuts, almonds, cashews and other nuts and seeds from which to choose.  They come with a bit of free flirtation and a few laughs.  Sometimes I like to get a bag of still-warm peanuts and just sit and watch the comings and goings in the marina for a little while after I have finished my shopping.  It is very relaxing to watch the boats and water.

The berry stand has absolutely the best berries; strawberries, raspberries (red and yellow), blueberries and blackberries, depending on the season.  When I get the urge to punish myself by making Julia Child's Chocolate Ruffle Cake (a 3 day production) or a Raspberry Roulade (a 2 day event) and need fresh raspberries, this is the place I MUST buy the berries from!

The apple guys will cut an apple into fancy faces for the little ones to enjoy.  Their apples make the best applesauce.  I never knew how easy it was to make your very own applesauce, and it is so much more tasty than the jarred kinds, I am spoiled now!  And I really, really like buying apples without any added wax!  It always seems to add a bitter taste to them.  They also have peaches, pears and lilacs from time to time, in season.  I use their dried apple slices in my home-made granola.  Something I haven't done for a while . . . I think it may be time to whip up a batch soon!

Tasty, super sweet figs!  Try them and they'll make your mouth water for more!

I tried my first fresh figs from this market.  OMG! ! !  My only previous experience with figs was with Fig Newtons and I must say, the fresh version is NOTHING like the taste in the cookies!  I like fresh figs, but they are so delicate and bruise so easily they do not travel well, so you most likely won't find them in conventional supermarkets.  If you get a chance to try them fresh, take it!

Bells of Ireland

Sea Holly

If you have a hankerin' for flowers, the market is the place to go!  You can get all kinds of flowers there.  From orchids and potted plants and trees, to cut flowers; sweet peas to sunflowers, lillies to lilacs, depending on the season.  You can find them here!

Here is a picture of the bounty I ended up with from today's trip to the market.  The sun was going behind the building next to me as I was trying to set this up, spoiling the shot!  It washed out my melon in the back and put the berries in shadow.  But, you get the idea!  Cabbage, Sugar Cube melon, Royal Melon, romaine lettuce, carrots, yellow pear tomatoes, grapes, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and apples!  Yummy!

I tried one of the little Royal Melons, like a mini watermelon and a Sugar Cube melon, a variety of cantaloup, I think.  I really enjoy being able to try different varieties of fruits and veggies.  The little yellow pear tomatoes were actually from my garden.  I didn't plant anything this year, but I ended up with 2 huge tomato vines and 3 poblano pepper plants and several basil plants anyway!  All volunteers!  Maybe I will get to a post about my garden one of these days!  

The sights, sounds and tastes of the market all combine to make this one of the best days of the week for me!  I just really wish there was a cheese stall!  ;-)  I really enjoy shopping like this! ! !

For now, I've made myself hungry, so I'm going to go fix some dinner!  I'll leave you with a few more pics of flowers from the market!  See you later!  :-)

Stargazer Lilly - I wish you could smell this beauty!  Heavenly! ! !
When do we get scratch and sniff screens?
Sunflowers - I just loved the way the sun was filtering through
and highlighting these furry looking sunflowers!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hueneme Beach Festival & Sand Sculptures

The ocean is so therapeutic, I think everyone should have one in their backyard and visit it regularly!  I went to the Hueneme Beach Festival today.  I woke up with the urge to go on a little road trip to somewhere I hadn't been before, but wasn't too far away, so I went online and came up with this.  Truthfully, I was lured by the promise of the Sand Sculpture Contest.

Another thing I have always wanted to do is to see some really amazing sand sculptures up close and personal, rather than just in pictures, so I grabbed my camera and off I went.  I've also decided that I need to get there early to watch them being created!  Traffic getting up there and back was a nightmare, and I had to park way down the beach from the festival, but it was a gorgeous day, so I didn't mind the walk, but my feet are not happy with me right now.  The sandals I wore were not exactly the thing to wear for a long hike!  LOL!

The first thing I saw was these very large kites.  I thought they were very pretty against the sky.  

I really enjoyed the sand sculptures I found, but as you can see here, there weren't very many to peruse, but I did enjoy them anyway!  I got there a little late in the afternoon (took me twice as long to get there as I had expected!), and am not sure if there may have been a couple more that got destroyed before I got there, or if these were, in fact, the only ones!

After I snapped these pics I wandered over to the booths to see if there was anything there I couldn't live without and sure enough, they had some things there I simply had to have.  I picked up some scented salts to freshen up the house and some Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar which the vendor assured me would taste heavenly over some vanilla ice cream.  Good thing tomorrow is market day and I can pick some up to go with the vinegar!  Mmmmm, doesn't that sound tasty?  Ice cream and vinegar? Yum, yum!  . . . we'll see . . .  I got to taste test some other flavors and really enjoyed them, but they were a bit too pricey to stock up!

And, I got another little item that I will have to share with you later!  I got some for my mommy, too, and don't want to spoil the surprise for her!  Shhhhhhhh!  But, I can tell you it is sooooo unusual, I HAD to get it!  I was amazed by and have never seen anything like it before.  The vendor told me to go ahead and touch them and I was blown away.  I will share photos and a description in a later post!  I'll just give you a little hint for now, . . . it would be a great thing for a halloween party, but that is not what it was meant for!  ;-)

There were all kinds of vendors there and I was tempted by a few other items, but managed to resist . . . mainly because I hadn't stocked up on funds before I went!  :-)  I will share some of the other things I saw there!

I thought these peacock yard ornaments were really cute!  They rocked back and forth from their hips in the wind.

I almost got a set of these coasters.  I especially liked the ones with the seashells!

I thought these marionette puppets were adorable!

There was a 70s theme to the festival and this disco band was really fun!  Very entertaining!  And . . . get a load of that hair!  "I believe in miracles . . . where you from, you sexy thing . . ."  I kept hearing that song all the way back to my car!  It put a little extra bounce in my step.

On the way back, I walked out on the pier to snap a couple of videos to share with you.  Unfortunately, somehow I ended up losing my hat!   :-(   One minute I had it and the next it was gone!  I think I had taken it off while filming and thought I had put it in my bag, but apparently, I missed!  It must have blown off the pier in all that wind.  Good thing it wasn't one I was particularly attached to!  Guess I'll just have to go shopping again!  ;-)

Anyway, I'll leave you with the ocean breeze and waves to help you feel like you were right there with me having a nice relaxing day.  But, next weekend, I really must pretend to be a grownup and stay home and take care of a few things there!  So, get rested up, get your duster and vacuum ready and your gardening gloves on.  ;-)

For maximum enjoyment, make sure you have your speakers on!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Long Beach Antique and Flea Market

I spent the day doing one of the things I have been wanting to do from some time now.  I went to the Long Beach Antique Market (the Rose Bowl Flea Market is on my list, too . . . maybe next month!) .  The LBAM is held the third Sunday of the month and it seems I always think about going right after it is held and over the next month, I promptly forget about it again until it is too late.      :-(    But, this time, I had decided I was going to go no matter what.  

I had been working on getting some things moved around my place yesterday.  I had put in a long, hot, grueling day weeding, pruning, watering and moving a lot of my potted trees around and was very sore at the end of the day!  And did I mention it was HOT! ! ! !  I had run a quick errand and when I got back, I just sat in the car a bit longer than I needed to just to sit in the air conditioning, which I had running full blast, with my face right in front of the blowers!  Awwwwwww . . .  

Come morning, I was still pretty achy and I wasn't sure about all that walking today, but, I had decided I would not miss it this time, so I went and I am glad I did.  I didn't manage to get through the whole thing, as I got a late start and it was so hot the vendors were packing up a bit early!  But, I got through more than half of it and did enjoy it and am looking forward to returning sometime, hopefully, I will get a much earlier start!  :-)

They had tons of stuff!  Costume jewelry, crystal, glassware, silverware, kitchen ware, small appliances, vintage clothing, tools, toys, furniture, lamps, garden items, shells, coins, collectibles, knives, musical instruments, and, well . . . lots and lots of stuff. 

Here are a few of the things I saw there.  I have been wanting to get an hour glass, but haven't seen one that I really like.  Though this one is nice, it wasn't quite what I am looking for!  

I couldn't get a good picture of these cute little bird houses.  I couldn't figure out a way to crop out the vehicles or other distracting backgrounds.  They had a fork, with bent tines for the perch in front of the entrance and forks and spoons dangling as wind chimes below.  I'm not sure what Mr. & Mrs. Bird would think about the constant door chimes, but I thought they were really cute!

I really liked this vase . . . I should have asked how much it was!  Blue just always catches my eye!

There were a few quirky items I should have snapped pics of to share!  Like the big stuffed toy tiger that was nearly life-sized!  For some reason, he kind of reminded me of Tony the Tiger trying to act like a real tiger instead of a people.  ;-)

And this is the loot I actually ended up with!  I have been wanting to start collecting cloches and this was one of the most unusual I have seen.  It is a little on the small side, but I love the shape!  And, I am interested in getting a collection of flower frogs, so I picked up a couple today.  I love the blue in the vase (candy dish? ? ? ) and the teeny salt bowl.  I'm not sure why I had to have the cream/blue Wedgewood vase, or the swan, for that matter, but I did.  And I just really liked the decoration on the creamer, unfortunately, this picture does not do it justice.  In case you can't tell. . . I'm really liking blue and white these days!  I saw several bone crochet hooks and decided to pick one up to try it out for doilies or snowflakes!  There was also an awl that appears to be made of mother-of-pearl.  I'm not sure if it will work as well as the other ones I have, but I really liked it.  Mom and I use them to poke holes in the tops of towels to crochet tops on them for hanging in the kitchen.  Finally, I picked up a couple more shells.  I just really liked them!  They were so dainty and fragile looking! 

I couldn't decide which pic of the loot I liked best . . . so I am using both of them!  ;-)

I saw a window that I think I should have bought!  I have been wanting to get one to use just decoratively, and I think it would have been a good one for that!  It was a good-size and paned, but the panes were diamond shaped rather than square or rectangular and it wasn't all that expensive.  But, because I wasn't sure exactly where I would put it, I decided to pass on it.  But, . . . now I'm thinking  . . .  Darn . . .  Well, maybe next time!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Building My Patio - Part 2

Corner intersection of the two planters in front of the lattice.  The overlap section is
built up a little higher than the other two legs to be able to add a little height in the corner.

Ok, so, I previously left you waiting breathlessly to hear what happened after I had finished the brick planters on my patio.  Ok, you can take a breath now, I won't keep you in suspense any longer!  (Oh my, you were getting a little blue around your ears!)

Well, after I got those in, I was pretty pleased that they were mostly straight and level!  Definitely a plus after all the work and physical sacrifices to get them in!  It got a little slow going after the loss of the fingertips, but eventually, I did finish!  And I was pretty darn happy with the results!

So, now I turned my attention to the raised area I wanted for my future table and chairs.  I used a rope to define where the edge of that area was going to be and set about filling the area with a little soil and trying to pack it down a bit.  When I had picked up the bull-nosed bricks I wanted for the edging I asked if they would cut each of them in half for me.  Thank goodness they do do that sort of thing!  For a fee, of course!  I would never have been able to cut them myself, so I was at their mercy!  Thank you, thank you!  That particular trip all I was picking up was those bricks, it turned out to be one of the lightest loads I had picked up since starting this project!  I swear the car smiled with relief as we drove away!

Here is a photo of the flagstone and edging just laid out
for placement before I had the planters built.
This go-round with my mortar skills in laying the edging seemed to go much better than it had with the planters!  Once the edging was in and drying, I started laying out the edging for the sides of my patio for real this time.  Previously I had just laid the brick down to get an idea of where everything was going to go.  Now, I had to get serious about getting the bricks down straight and level and I wanted them right on the ground before the sand went down to try to help hold the sand in place.  So, I laid some 2x4s down and held them in place with some shims pounded into the ground every so often and started laying the brick end to end along side them.  I'm sure someone who knows what they are doing would have had an easier solution, but it worked for me . . . eventually!   ;-)   It definitely took me a long while to get what I wanted, but finally, it was ready for me to put the sand down and get the sandstone laid!

So, I get into my handy-dandy delivery vehicle and head off to rent a pick up truck for the sand.  I put a tarp down before they dropped the scoop of sand into the bed.  Thank goodness!  Because let me tell you, by the time I got through with scooping 3/4 ton of sand out of the bed of that thing I was exhausted!  I did not have enough energy to then turn around and wash the darn thing before I returned it, too!  

At the time, I weighed a little bit less than 3/4 ton myself, and in comparison with all that sand, I felt like an ant trying to move a mountain - one grain at a time!  I scooped for what seemed like hours and had ALMOST made a dent in that pile of sand.  I swear, every time I shoveled a bit out, someone backfilled double that amount!  It was a cruel trick!  I stopped for lunch.  I came back out.  And nearly cried!  There was still sooooooo much sand left!  I thought that when I got down to the last little bit I would be able to fold up the sides of the tarp and lift it on out. LOLOL!  That really makes me laugh thinking about that now!  Silly girl!  Sand weighs way more than you might think!  There was NOOOOO way I was ever going to be able to lift any real amount of sand out of that truck!  What a silly coo-coo head I was! ! !  Well, anyway, about 5 years (oooops!  I mean hours) later, I finally finished scooping the sand out and got the truck returned.  Oh, . . . by the way, did I mention that when I had backed the truck in, I couldn't get close enough to scoop the sand directly into the patio area?  :-)  

I'll bet you can guess what comes next!  Yep, I then had to scoop all that sand to where I really wanted it and get it sort of leveled off once there!   (sigh . . . .)  Are you SURE I don't get ANY kind of prize for moving the equivalent of 3,000 pounds of sand all by myself? ? ? ? ?

Ok, so now I have all the sand where I need it.  It is . . . sort of leveled out.  Now I can get the flagstone down.  I had laid it all out before I got the sand down, so I had things pretty much in order where I needed it to go and was able to get most of it in place without toooo much trouble.  But, thank goodness none of the neighbors got any video (that I know of!) of me wrestling with those slabs of stone , some of which I think must have weighed almost as much as I did.  There was one piece in particular that just would NOT cooperate.  It was, of course, the largest, most awkward piece in the bunch.  I must have tried to get it down and level no less than 30 times.  It was so heavy I had an extremely difficult time picking it up and maneuvering it into place.  I would get it down and it wouldn't be level and then I'd have to struggle to get it picked back up.  Then I would get to try to balance it on end with one hand, while trying to smooth the sand back out from where it got dug out from trying to pick it up and fix the leveling issue, all with the other hand.  And all that while trying to keep it from dropping on my toes or fingers or . . . head, for that matter!  Over and over and over again, until it was . . . well, . . . darn close enough.  Meaning, I simply didn't have the strength or energy to keep trying and honestly, truth be told, no one but myself would probably even notice it wasn't perfect.

When I finished that day, I looked around.  And even though I was feeling pretty beat up and exhausted, I had to smile.   

I.   Had.   Done.   It!    

My patio was essentially done!  Well, . . . at least the hard parts were done!  All I had to do now was fill the pond, select the plants, fill the planters with soil and get them planted, and fill in around the flagstone and get those spaces planted!  It was all good!  And then I dragged myself inside, got cleaned up and celebrated with a nice glass of wine and then . . . collapsed.  It's was going to be a    looooong   while before I tackled that long brick planter I had planned for along the driveway! ! !    :-)

Here are a few more pictures another one of the beginning stage of my pond and a close-up  of the blooms from the pond plants and a view of the lattice and my arch!  The baby tears moss did eventually fill in and cover most of the edge of the pond!

And finally,  . . .  time to enjoy the results of my labors!  Decaf Paradise Tropical Sun Tea!  Yummmmmm! ! ! !

Until the next time! ! !  :-)