Urban hiking in LA

Time to get publishing the blog again, after a too long hiatus! The motivation came as the unplanned side effect of a quick mid-January visit to Diane (aka NerdHaven West) in LA.

For the first time in quite a while, I hopped on a plane without my child and husband. What a strange feeling! I had no one to care for other than myself. Sounds silly, really, but it was two days of quality time, quality eats, and a refresher of traveling as an independent adult.

Before the main purpose of my visit began – helping an elderly aunt transition to her downsized home – Diane whisked me away from the airport to lunch at a hip lunch counter, Sqirl, with a friend.

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The friend let me know she was a fan of the site, and her comments encouraged me to reconsider my approach to the site and get blogging again. I’m sure NerdHaven West won’t be able to resist joining the process, despite her status as a full-time employee.

After our first meal, I felt any other cultural experiences I would have in LA would be gravy.

One my goals in LA was to take a hike. I was envisioning a hillside climb, perhaps with a reward of ocean views. The next day, as we lingered over our morning tea, Diane hatched the plan to do an urban hike down a stretch of Ventura Blvd. in the valley. Zero drive, lots of walking, interesting view of the evolution of a shopping district. Perfect!

The famous road has gastro pubs popping up from its economically fertile earth like mushrooms after a soaking rain. Around noon, we began pounding the pavement between them, garden shops, dance studios and bakeries; demonstrating an impressive range of locally owned businesses.

I started the day with a Bloody Mary (in my sensible urban hiking outfit).


We passed landmark eateries:








And newcomers:


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The One Up

The One Up

Stir Resturant & Lounge

Stir Restaurant & Lounge





We found religion:



















Plants and garden accents:









and sunsets with those classic palm trees:



So maybe it took us more than four hours to walk four miles, but we shared a sense of  accomplishment and a beverage at trail’s end. Oh, and we also hatched a plan to walk more rugged miles together in the future. More on that later!

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The Storm Before the Calm

Tomorrow we leave for the UK. We will be there for a nice long visit and doing some things we only dreamed we would ever do; like attending a live (mostly) Monty Python performance, walking the Welsh coast, and seeing our son perform Shakespeare in Oxford. I am beyond excited.

But tomorrow is another day. Today is last minute stuff: trips to the bank, looong holds waiting to deal with impenetrable insurance bureaucracy, wrapping one last batch of caramels, cleaning the chicken coop, putting up some elderberry honey vinegar. You know, stuff like that. And of course there was a break for pastrami sandwiches at Wexler’s Deli downtown.BBQUm . . . . the sandwich didn’t hang around long enough to snap a picture. So the photo above is actually from the nearby Smoke City Market (woot for the San Fernando Valley) which also does a serious pastrami.

So now I’ve decided to populate this post with photos, such as the one above, that I like but haven’t found a home anywhere yet, like on Facebook or on my Instagram feed.apple_rosemary_jellyHere is some apple rosemary jelly I made with apples and rosemary from my garden. I was really happy to put some of our summer garden in jar so I could revisit this season at another time . . . The past month has been a whirlwind of jam making: white peach basil, plum rose, strawberry pinot noir, aprium, etc. But now, I am happy to put a lid on all the jam-making and get out and about in the world.

I love the finality of leaving on a plane. Once those doors close, that’s it. No more errands to run or things to get ready – you’re done. Stressing done. Make do with what you’ve got at that point and/or improvise from there. It’s a kind of new start. Liberating.pippi_playingAt this point I’m looking forward to those flying feelings, but I’m not there yet. Miles to go before I hit the road, really. So no more sitting at a computer for me – these feets were made for hiking in Wales. But first maybe I should put some lotion on them . . .feetinjeansBest wishes for a happy and safe summer from NerdHaven West! And special thanks to Jesse and Kerry (and their loveable rottweiler, “Tony”) who will be manning the homestead while we are gone. I’ll be posting from the road.



Caution: Bacon Making in Progress

stuffed_bacon I don’t know how I became the bacon advocate. It just happened. I’m not even that crazy for bacon. I’m more in the chocolate camp, really. And what’s more, I especially don’t like smoked things. To me, smokiness tastes like burned dirt, but in this lingering, cloying, way. There: my secret is out. I feel so free now. Smoky flavors and black licorice: my culinary kryptonites.

And yet I became a bacon person. I signed up to make bacon for my Master Food Preserver class way back when and made a metric ton of it to prepare . . . and I loved it because I didn’t smoke it. I slow roasted it. I cured it with salt, obviously, but added in herbs and spices and other flavors, like juniper berries and thyme and rosemary and maple syrup. It was so fun to try all these other flavors with the meat. And then once or twice I kicked it up a notch and roasted some sliced bacon a second time in brown sugar and chili, and made pig candy, which gave me a bit of a reputation, but that’s a story for another time. Continue reading

Kitchen Art

I recently purchased a lovely and inspiring painting from a friend and had been wondering where I should display it so it could get the most eye-time . . .

pink-geraniums-nancy-nickersonI finally decided to install it in my kitchen – since that’s really where I spend most of my time. The little darling seems very happy hanging there, and I feel very happy seeing it. The painting reminds me that one’s work does not have to be huge to be great – as it is both tiny (5×7) and heroic at the same time. And, of course, it’s pink. Which is awesome. Continue reading

‘Tis the Season


I love this little guy – a door hanger that a crafty friend made for me. Mostly I love this foxy door hanger because: (1) he is randomly Australian; and (2) although he arrived in December, he doesn’t look Christmasy. So really, he could be proclaiming the arrival of any season – and I believe that is just what he is doing. These days, he is busy announcing citrus season. Continue reading