Sunday, November 28, 2010

Homemade Eggnog.....

Whew! Busy Thanksgiving week with Allison and Alex visiting from Seattle.  I miss them terribly - am such a mom....

We were quite the tourists!

Downtown San Francisco tour started with lunch and a quick tour of  Chinatown and North Beach.  Not exactly sure what we ate, but it was pretty darn good! 

Then off to the Fillmore District .... After having some yummy coffee drinks at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, we headed  to the Johnathan Adler store (one of my very favorites!), and 

then down to take Allison's picture outside of the Betsey Johnson store (Allison's favorite).  Alex, of course, waited in the car....  Gorgeous sunny day!  Kids were glad to be here in CA, as Seattle was being pounded with snow and ice.  Can't honestly say that I miss that.

Over the hill and down twisty, steep Lombard street!  Don't worry, I am driving, Allison is taking the pictures. -

Then off to Pier 39 to see the sea lions, check out the holiday decorations and do a 
little window shopping at all of the shops along the pier. 

(Santa stopping off for a bite to eat on Pier 39!)

 Sea lions appeared to be pretty content lying there in the sun!  

With a final stop at Ghiradelli Square for a big bag of mixed chocolates. (we were out of our stash at home!)

Whew!  Back home to make Alex's Eggnog.  In order to make this right, you have to make a day ahead of time, be patient and let your eggnog sit overnight

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup brandy (or more!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Place milk and evaporated milk in a large saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat - stir constantly!

Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs in a large bowl.  Gradually add hot milk to egg mixture - also stirring constantly with a whisk.  Return milk mixture to pan; cook over medium-low heat until thick, about 10-12 minutes - don't forget to stir! Pour into a pitcher and stir in brandy and vanilla.  Press plastic wrap onto the surface of eggnog, and chill overnight.


Tour continues tomorrow!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Santa Cruz Sea Glass Festival - November 2010

On a rainy Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, we spent the afternoon at the Santa Cruz Sea Glass Festival.  This year the festival featured 37 artists, and was held at the Coconut Grove on the famous Santa Cruz boardwalk.  A little sideways rain, a little wind, but not enough to stop this Northwest beach girl from exploring some fabulous sea glass treasures!

Met some amazingly creative people - 

Santa Cruz Sea Glass Company put a ton of time and effort into making this year's festival a success. They have an outstanding collection of sea glass from Santa Cruz and Monterey beaches, some of which actually glowed when a light was applied.  The biggest crowd was gathered around their booth!

This is just one example of Krista Hammond's art - chunky beautiful tumbled sea glass treasures! 

Christeena of Sea Glass Jewels is a lucky lucky artist, living for half of year in Key West, and the other half collecting sea glass in Greece.

Liked her unique silver pieces and colors, most of her glass does come from walking on the beach in Greece - tough duty.   I admit it, am a tiny bit jealous of her jet setting!

Polly of BluMag Photography had a great idea - she uses her incredible photographic talent to capture photos of sea glass and beach objects on her local Aptos beach. She then uses those images on beautifully made black lacquered jewelry boxes.  Unique idea from the shores of Monterey Bay...

Hope you can see this "tree" with pieces of sea glass ornaments - what a great idea!  Not just for the holidays...

Had a great conversation with Gary, of The Sea Glass Journal.  What a cool display of sea glass finds he had from the East Coast! (including some flotsam and jetsam)  When I got home, I checked out his website - educational and interesting for us sea glass enthusiasts.  When you get a chance, check out the The Sea Glass Journal too, I think you will like the articles, pictures and information that can be found here.

Met Joselin Iselin, the author of a fabulous photographic art series of  "beach" books.  Loved her, and had so much in common.  Could have talked to her for hours about beach combing and beach preservation.  Am looking forward to touring her San Francisco studio the first week in December, should be a great blog post!

"Beach, a book of treasure" (click to read more)  was released this past spring and can be found at your local bookseller.  A little history, a little beach walking, shells, sea glass... would make the perfect gift for the holidays!  Try Liberty Bay Books for availability....

The best part of the festival?  I got the chance to meet one of my sea glass facebook friends in person!  Aileen Cabral, the artist behind Art of Seaglass  makes fabulous, original silver art pieces embedded with brightly colored pieces of tumbled beach glass collected on Southern California beaches.

Small world too, my friend Janet, who owns Potlatch Gallery, knows Aileen also and sells her creations in her gallery.

Had no idea how talented she was until I had the opportunity to see her jewelry in person. All hand crafted and designed by Aileen.  Wow, think you will love too!

The best part of the whole day?  Tom bought me some gorgeous pieces of Aileen's jewelry.  Have to confess,  I have worn these almost every day since he bought them for me!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shellophilia: Incurable, but treatable (Gosh, I hope not!)

Guest post from an incredibly talented artist, and very good beach girl buddy,  Chris Anderson Chenault.  Enjoy!

.....It is said that there is only one hobby that is also a recognized mental illness; bibliophilia, the compulsion to collect and store books...

Evidently, the members of that think tank have never met a hardcore sheller!

We can't help it.  Somehow, any time we get near a sea shell, it inexplicably follows us home.  In advanced cases, this behavior has been known to expand to include other categories; such as "flotsam" and "jetsam". Oy

Spending hours and days on the beach with one's chin on one's upper chest and eyes trained on the sand/rocks/pebbles/driftwood/dune grass isn't such a bad way to experience nature.  And when the weather is foul, spending comparable hours prowling the offerings of obscure flea markets and little-known shops can be equally rewarding.

Ah, the thrill of the treasure hunt!

We sneak back into the domicile lugging suspiciously bulging objects in plain brown wrappers.  When inquiring minds in the household cast questioning looks our way, a feasible response is always at the ready: It's for "A Project"!  (note the capital A and P)

I believe the clinical term is "justification".....

Now comes the pressure of producing the proof of the "The Project".    Easy!  We're preparing for the next holiday!  Every year our island home features a big Christmas tree covered in shells, most of them gathered from our own beach.  The white on green with little (non-flashing) lights is beachy and forest-y at the same time.  Which suits me just fine, since our local forest come right down to our local beaches.

Some our ornaments are:

  • oyster shell with pearl added
  • Sand dollars with mono-filament line through the keyholes
  • finger starfish with silver thread through bead caps on one end
  • tropical whelks lightly dusted with opalescent sparkle
  • restaurant scallop shells (why waste them???)
  • Local cockle shells highlighted with pearlescent acrylic paint
  • The obligatory Dungeness crab claw accents with gold
  • Fragments of coral
How many ornaments?  In this case, nothing succeeds like excess. We display literally hundreds of these, but they store compactly in a document box during the other eleven months.  Seashells are delicate and tough at the same time, and grandchildren have been known to chew on sea stars.  I love that our ornaments are intended to be manhandled by our little guests.  Anything that is pokey or treasured is hung out of reach.

Seashells are beautiful tied to gift packages, and a garland of sea stars is perfectly charming above a doorway or among the folds of window treatments.

A very happy holiday season to all, and God Bless us, every one!


Blogging Friends, wishing you lots of luck finding beautiful sea shells (and flotsam and jetsam!) for your upcoming holidays.   Looking forward to hearing about all of your projects;  for ornaments, sea shell trees, table scapes, gift wrapping ... Will be looking for ideas to share!

Here are a few of Chris's other creations at Caron's Beach House:
All inspired by her life on an island in Washington State!

Hand Painted Sea Glass Floats hiding among the sea grass

And here's the details!,-beach-cottage/Detail    14 x 22 indoor/outdoor pillows with hand painted sea stars

More Starfish Pillows!
 19 x 19 Hand painted orange or green starfish on pretty indoor/outdoor pillows

Great Blue Heron Beach Cottage Pillows,-beach/Detail

Monday, November 8, 2010

California's Coastal Abundance

If I haven't told you lately,  am going to let you in on a little secret -  I am in love with life and food in California.  We have the perfect temperate climate; cool ocean winds, dewey nights, bright blue skies full of sunshine, all combine to create the richness, and 
abundance of fresh produce year-round, 

 fresh sea food,  

fresh herbs always available (on my deck!)  + a wide variety of mushrooms, 

 incredible varieties of  local artisan cheese,  wild organic honey, REAL handcrafted olive oil... I could go on and on!

Let's not get started about how lucky we are to be living smack dab in the middle of wine country USA!

  In less than 2 hours, we can visit over 7 different distinctive wine areas.  Napa, Sonoma, Dry Creek, Lodi, Los Gatos, Livermore, Russian River....  

Something so simple as walking down the street on Sunday mornings to hit our local Belmont Farmer's market just makes my heart sing! 

Every day I am so thankful that I have everything that I need, and with so much bounty  surrounding all of us that live in this wonderful country, there should be no excuses for why even 1 child  should go hungry.  We all lead very busy lives, and I know that we have so many organizations to support, but while we are rushing around this upcoming holiday season, please don't forget about your local food banks. 

Thanks for letting get on my soapbox - hope you enjoyed my photos too!


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