Sunday, March 29, 2015

Out and About: The Portside

Los Olivos and Solvang
Santa Barbara County
March 16, 2015

We've been fortunate to have The Man's Mom stop in for visits while earning and preserving her Premier Platinum status with United Airlines. During her visits we mostly hang out and enjoy the animals. Which is to say, we don't really do much of anything. We . . .  relax.

On a whim, we decided to drive south to Solvang for the day. Although The Man and I have been going to the Christmas Tree Burn at the Old Santa Inés Mission in Solvang, it's been many (many) moons since the three of us spent time visiting the Danish-styled town.

Tourists (with Tina)      circa mid-1980's

On the trip south we detoured to the pretty town of Los Olivos to say howdy to our friend Lauren at the Daniel Gehrs Wines Tasting Room.

We had not intended to do any wine tasting during our visit, we just wanted to catch up with Lauren. Such a cute tasting room and beautiful outdoor courtyard; Lauren gave us a tour and then invited us to sample a glass of Port wine . . . with chocolate chip wafers.

How to describe Port, the delicious fortified wine?
One word: Yum. 
Two words: Yum Yum.

After our fun visit with Lauren, we hit the streets of Los Olivos.

 The Grange Hall - it doubles as the Public Library on Saturdays from 10 am-1 pm.

The magical J. Woeste in Los Olivos: the former home of my red begonia potted plant. That is, I'm talking about my still-alive-and-still-pretty-but-not-as-beautiful-as-when-I-first-received-it-from-Al-and-Anda (Lauren's family) 'Barkos' Begonia.

There was so much to see in this incredible place. And since we decided to sit in a giant red chair, I thought it fitting to "transform y(our) world into a live cartoon" (ToonCamera app).

Eventually we did make our way down to Solvang. We briefly browsed a few of the same shops we visited thirty years ago. (Sadly, no photo op cutouts.) We ate a Danish Smorgasbord lunch at the Red Viking Restaurant; I even tried the pickled herring and pickled herring cauliflower with curry mayo (now I can cross Smørgåsbord off my bucket list).

Next time we'll skip Solvang.

Instead we'll spend the day in Los Olivos: revisit J. Woeste's Home and Garden Treasures, savor Port wine, eat chocolate, and spend slow time with family and friends.

Lauren, fortified with Brandy  1/30/15

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

Today is officially the first day of spring. According to the meteorological calendar, the first day of spring was March 1st. We've had an inch or two of rain, not enough to help abate our fourth year of drought, but it's been enough to grow lush greenery on our home landscape. Food and fodder for the animals.

Spring seems to be here so briefly but it is the most beautiful time of the year.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Two Loves: Bags and Binders

There's a cool little company in Seattle called TOM BIHN where they're making high-quality travel bags, backpacks, and organizing accessories. Durable, made to last a lifetime, happiness guaranteed. If you check out their website you'll see pictures of the factory crew: real people, real lives.

Tom Bihn, the owner, and his company showed up on my Ravelry radar when he designed a knitting bag called the Swift. He collaborated with, Amy Singer, and knitters. They designed an all-purpose, knit friendly bag - no velcro! no zippers! In 2010, a hemp Little Swift made it's way to Hawaii, disguised as a Christmas gift from The Man (much to his surprise).

Okay, I like my earthy, eco-whatever bags. And I also like paper: notebooks, notecards, journals, stationary. I enjoy them all.

You know where this is going don't you?

Last Tuesday a few soon-to-be-retired items were brought back from TOM BIHN's backorder abyss, one of which was the Field Journal Notebook. A few years ago I debated whether to get one the first time I heard about it but couldn't rationalize the purchase. Then it was gone. Now that it's making a brief reappearance I agonized over it: "Should I?" "No." "Yes." "Should I?".

It was very pricey for a binder, pricey for a bag. But, hey, when they're gone, they're gone. That said, the item jumped into my online shopping cart. Next, I had to figure out which color: Red Blend, Grey, Olive, or Burnt Orange. It was a toss up between Red Blend or Olive but decided in the long run I was more harmony than heat: I ordered Olive. Besides at that point, the Red Blend was gone and on backorder till the end of April (so I guess they'll be making a few more) before totally retiring the Field Journal Notebook.

Yummy Goodness: I'm glad I went with Olive.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sleep Aid

Clunk. Clunk. Bump.
You awake?
Yeah . . . you?
Did you hear that?
Yeah . .  . you?
Was it inside or outside?
I don't know.

Following their unfortunate encounter with an annoyed skunk, the dogs had been relocated to sleeping in the garage. Eventually, they resigned themselves to their new digs.

Mele, not a very happy camper.

I liked the arrangement: No more wispy black fur wafting towards every nook and cranny. No more early wake up calls with a cold nose pressed into my face. No more wiping 12 dirty paws (Mattie with her weird sweaty feet often required a second cleaning after she had already left a few smudgy prints).

But recently there was another strange, bump-in-the-night, noise. It woke us up. It made us uneasy. And it made us question the decision of the dogs sleeping soundly in the garage. Completely unaware.

Last weekend we moved the dogs and their beds back in the house for night duty. We know that the dogs will bark and let us know if anything is amiss.

Now that our home alarm system is back in operation we all get a good night's sleep.