Monday, July 22, 2013

New "School Year's" Resolution: Cherry Bike Basket

 Submitted by Linda
For 25 years now, I've worked at my beloved Sumner Elementary in Claremont. And for 15 of those years,  I've lived right across the park, which is directly behind my school. In fact, if I walk out of my driveway, I can see the back of my school. If I take streets, it's maybe a four block walk or bike ride.

When folks learn where I live, they always ask me if I walk to school. I always make up some excuse, like "I always have a crock pot or cookies or something to take" (which is often true).

But since I have a fun red bike, and because I have so enjoyed my biking during our beach vacations, I have resolved to start the upcoming school year with a commitment to ride, at least a couple of times a week.  I have this weird worry that I'm going to be perceived as the 'middle aged eccentric bike riding teacher', but hopefully it will translate as the 'cute eco-friendly bike riding teacher'. The main thing a cute bike rider needs is a wicker bike basket. 

I really wanted the L.L.Bean version, but until I prove myself on this new resolution, I had to stick with the more economical Schwinn version, which I found at Target for under $20. Notice the handle on top - my dad removed it for me.
The next thing a cute bike rider needs is a custom fabric liner. Now, I'm begging you to click on this Etsy Liner. It is so darn cute with it's dingle balls, but again, I wasn't willing to shell out $45 for a liner, unless I was certain I would ride a lot.

As I continued searching around the web I found this Basket Liner Tutorial. You all know that my sewing machine and I don't get along very well, which is a shame because I love hand sewn projects. Everything you've seen me post is thanks to my mom, who is the brains behind the outfit. So I sent her the link, and she said "easy peasy" (easy for her to say!) Nevertheless, I knew that I'd have help, so I went to a new local quilt shop, The Quilt Loft in Upland, where I found this cherry-licous fabric.
Now, the tutorial was awesome, but it shows you how to work around the handle, and remember, my dad had removed it for me.  This made things much simpler, because I was determined to add the dingle ball trim like the Etsy version.  Here the trim is pinned on, for a 'fitting'. (I've discovered I can handle sewing much better when I'm fitting a basket rather than my body, which doesn't look like the pencil woman pictured on the pattern envelope).
I stitched on the trim, with no complications! Yippee! The basket snaps right onto the bike, and I'm ready to go!
Now, hopefully I can keep my resolution!
P.S. I have to tell you one more thing: my parents still had my combination bike lock from when I rode my bike to school in junior high. And I remember the combination!!!!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Carolinas: Travel Journal #5 Charleston History

 Submitted by Linda
One of my favorite days on our girl's trip was our last full day in the charming city of Charleston. We got going in the morning (to avoid the heat and humidity) and headed out to the Palmetto Carriage barn, to take in some city history via a horse drawn carriage.
Though this is a 'g-rated' blog, I got a laugh out of this sign, so much so, that I had to share it.
 Our carriage looked a bit like this. Some were horse drawn, others used mules.
Before we started, our tour guide, Shawn, had to stop at a funny little booth where a bingo-type machine chose our route. Apparently there are firm rules (to protect the residents from having an overrun of carriages in their neighborhoods) about the route that the carriages take. This lotto-type system ensures that the carriages are spread about the town. Straight ahead of the carriage is St. Phillip's Epsicopal church. Its spire tilts a little to the left, as a result of the big earthquake of 1866.
We heard lots of interesting stories, and nuggets of history, and we felt like California was so young, compared to South Carolina. We loved the southern homes with their pillars and wrought iron.
This pink house is supposedly the narrowest house in Charleston, created as a result of a bet. It is 13 feet wide.
The Calhoun house, pictured below, has three huge covered porches on the side. Craig always talks about having a house with a porch, so I texted him this picture.
 
We saw other interesting things from long ago. Here and there we saw raised concrete blocks, used to help people step up into their carriages. 
 
This next picture shows one of the last six remaining cobblestone streets, which dates from the mid 1700s. The stones were dumped from the hulls of sailing ships to make room for cargo. The stones were then put to use in stabilizing the sandy, rutted streets facing the harbor. 
 
One of the oddest buildings we saw was the Old Powder Magazine. It is the oldest public building and dates back to the early 1700s, and was used as a powder magazine until after the Revolution. The walls are quite thick, compared to the roof, so that if ever it were to explode, it would explode upwards, rather than outwards. It has never blown up, and now is a museum.
I remember Charleston in relationship to the Civil War, but it was a key city in the Revolutionary War as well.

In 1680, a growth and development plan was designed for the new city. This plan specifically designated four corners for a “church, town house and other public structures.”
As a result of that design, the Four Corners of Law is located where Meeting and Broad Streets meet. On one corner is Charleston City Hall (local law); another corner the Charleston County Courthouse (state law); another corner the United States Courthouse and Post Office (federal law);  and St. Michaels Church (God’s law) is located on the final corner. According to Ripley's Believe it or not, this is the only U.S. location where this occurs. The picture of the Four Corners of Law came from The Carpetbagger blog, which you can see HERE.
Incidentally, George Washington worshiped at St. Michaels Church in 1791, and General Robert E. Lee, 70 years later. 

The large, long double-pew in the center of the church, No. 43, originally known as “The Governor’s Pew,” is the one in which President George Washington worshipped on Sunday afternoon, May 8, 1791. General Robert E. Lee also worshipped in the pew some seventy years later. - See more at: http://www.stmichaelschurch.net/about-us/history/#sthash.RFChKmWq.dpuf
The large, long double-pew in the center of the church, No. 43, originally known as “The Governor’s Pew,” is the one in which President George Washington worshipped on Sunday afternoon, May 8, 1791. General Robert E. Lee also worshipped in the pew some seventy years later. - See more at: http://www.stmichaelschurch.net/about-us/history/#sthash.RFChKmWq.dpuf
If I remember correctly, the building below held an important meeting regarding democratic presidential candidates prior to the 1860 convention. Two democrats were nominated (one being Steven Douglas), which split the democratic vote, and resulted in Abe Lincoln winning that election. And the rest, they say, is history.
Charleston suffered great economic devastation due to the Civil War and an earthquake in 1886 and was too poor to tear down and rebuild itself. Folks couldn't afford new furnishings or new homes, despite the damage and decay. As the Charlestonians say, again and again and again, they were "too proud to whitewash and too poor to paint."
 
Following the earthquake, many buildings were shored up with earthquake bolts. Though our tour guide said this isn't a successful modern day strategy in earthquake prevention or repair, we still saw buildings with bolts installed. The black circles below are where the bolts are.
One of our splurges was to stay at the Francis Marion Hotel in downtown Charleston.
 My picture doesn't do justice to the crystal chandeliers!
Nicknamed "The Swamp Fox", Marion served as a Brigadier General in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He earned his nickname by striking the British army with incredible swiftness, then vanishing ghost-like into the swamps.  In the movie "The Patriot", Mel Gibson's character was loosely based on the life of Francis Marion.

After our carriage ride and history lesson, we stopped by the Dixie Supply Bakery and Cafe, another of Guy Fieri's recommendations. Notice the line that goes out the door!
I intended to order the crab cakes, but they were sold out. When I didn't know what to choose next, the girl taking our order suggested the shrimp BLT. I said 'Yes!' The shrimp were fried, along with a fried green tomato, and it was as good as it looks.
Though our adventure has ended, we are still talking about all that we did, saw and ate.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Girls Day Out

Easter 2012
Submitted by Michelle
Yesterday I went to Seasons Salon and Spa in Redlands to get my hair cut and I took Celeste along with me. I posted a picture of her on Facebook and many people commented about how grown up she looked.  It got me thinking back to the Fall of 2006 so I dug out this school picture.  
Almost 5 years old and ADORABLE!
Seeing Celeste's Kindergarten photo inspired me to look at some other photos I have of her as well.  From the beginning of our friendship, Celeste has always loved helping me in the kitchen.  

She also loves swimming and hanging out with my niece and nephew, Max and Anna.  
We've taken several trips to Disneyland.  
Nick, Linda, Celeste, Me and Tommy
And last school year we made a trip to Pasadena to see my niece Anna perform in a ballet.
Sometimes, we just go out to dinner.  
Celeste is now 11 (almost 12!) and getting ready to go to Middle School.  She has grown into quite the pre-teen.  She has been thru a lot since I first met her, including many surgeries for her scoliosis and cerebral palsy, but she always has a smile on her face and a positive attitude.  
Celeste & Michelle, our fabulous hair stylist.
After getting beautified, we went to Red Robin for lunch and chatted about clothes, new Apps for her iTouch, what type of backpack she might need for Middle School and other fun topics.
This school year it will be odd not seeing Celeste in the hallways and at recesses and lunch.  I know she is excited to make the move to Middle School, and I'm excited for her to make new friends and learn new things.

I feel so lucky that I have been able to watch Celeste over grow these past 7 years and I can't wait to see what her future holds.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Carolinas: Travel Journal #5 Charleston and Another DDD

Submitted by Linda
So with all this shopping we had to keep in mind that we were returning on an airplane, so we had to limit the size of our purchases.  At this antique mall in Charleston, I ended up buying some buttons and lace. Liz found some 'hard to find' items from her wishlist, but in one case the price was too high, and in the other, the shipping would have been exorbitant.
I hate finding things from my childhood in antique shops because it makes me feel so old! My mom and I knitted these Christmas bells during my junior high years.  Maybe they'll come back in vogue and appear on pinterest at some point.
I also hate seeing things that I had on my wedding registry. Granted I've been married 25 (almost 26) years, but doesn't it take 40 plus years for something to be considered an antique?  Either way, I enjoyed pawing through all this silver. When do you see an entire box full of butter knives?
I didn't buy any silver, but I did buy an awesome "Liberty" milk bottle in cobalt blue. I borrowed this picture from Tobi Fairley's blog, where she posts a beautiful patriotic tablescape (my cellphone pics don't show the cool embossed lettering). On the back side the design is a statue of liberty. I have never seen anything like this in my California antiquing, so I was excited to find it.
Lately I have made a new friend who is young and hip, in her twenties.  On several occasions when we're together I have seen her pull out a vintage hankie to dab at her nose. I could hardly pay attention to what she was saying, because the hankie was so cute, and she was so darling using it. I was ready to run home and yank out my vintage textiles and find a hankie for my purse. So when I saw the packaging on this hankie, I thought, 'Couldn't we create something like this to give hankies away to our friends? And then in turn start a new hankie trend?????'
Cute, right? However, I haven't started using a hankie. I'm concerned that my '40 something-teacher' vibe may not be enhanced by a hankie. Rather than looking hip and cool, I wonder that when I whip out my hankie I may look older than I am. Thoughts?

Our next food adventure was at 'The Early Bird Diner', again in Charleston and again endorsed by our friend Guy Fieri.
The sandwich pictured below doesn't look like much, but it was a meatloaf sandwich, with carmelized onions, and chipotle bbq sauce. Liz's side of choice was cheesy mashed potatoes.
My sandwich, pictured below, is a grilled cheese with fresh tomato. Yummo! My side was a fresh corn salad similar to this Susan Branch Recipe that Michelle and I both make in the summertime. Very cool and refreshing. The Early Bird added avocado,which was a nice touch!
Next up...a bit of history of downtown Charleston. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Carolinas: Travel Journal #4 Charleston, SC

Submitted by Linda
As we made our way down from Asheville to Charleston, we planned stops all the way down at various antique shops. This cute shop in a house was called 'Eclectic', and here Liz found some cool porcelain glove molds that look like hands and arms. She is planning to use them to display bracelets and other jewelry. We heard some interesting comments at the airport security about 'arms' in her carry-on bags.
In Charleston, I was really excited about eating at "The Glass Onion", another of Guy Fieri's recommendations from the Food Network's DDD.
I did notice in the Southeast, that folks are much more polite with their cell phones. At restaurants, I rarely saw folks texting or calling. So I put mine away.
After we ordered, our waiter brought some boiled peanuts. I love peanuts and peanut butter, but I think one must have to develop a taste for boiled peanuts. But I did eat them, in the spirit of 'when in Rome...".
Next came our salads. Liz got a watermelon, feta and cucumber salad, pictured on top, and mine was an heirloom tomato with basil, anchovy dressing, and fresh parmesan. Of course, all of their produce came from a local farm, and their menu is developed each day by what produce is available. That tomato was like none other I've had.
The entree below is cheese and shells with andouille sausage. It was very peppery and the cheese sauce was amazing. I'll be trying to duplicate that one some time soon. We both ordered it, and we were so happy! The sauce was so creamy, I have to wonder if Velveeta was the secret ingredient?!
Stay tuned for more antiques and another DDD!