Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Trip to the Vintage Trailer Show

A couple of weeks ago, we visited Palm Springs for Modernism Week.
We had a fabulous time,  (see more of our fun over at Lilly and the Brothers) and one of the highlights was definitely the Vintage Trailer Show.
We really, really, love vintage trailers, so this was like a little slice of heaven.
Take a look at some of my favorite trailers.
I love that this trailer has a name.
Dottie!
Isn't she adorable?
Of course everyone loves a classic Airstream.
But I was happy to see that there were so many other kinds of trailers to see at the show.
Like this one.
This isn't really a trailer.
It is actually a motor home of sorts.
It is one of only 8 ever made, has a Corvair engine, and is just as cool inside as it is on the outside.
The owner actually drives this around and really does take it camping.
How cool is that?
I love when people DO things that most everyone else would write off as impractical and go for it anyway.
This was another favorite trailer of mine.
It's a Holiday House and they were produced for 2 years in Oregon, by the owners of the Harry and David fruit company.
No one knows how many were actually made because a fire destroyed all the records the company had for the trailers,
If you find one, you are a lucky ducky!
One of the things I love about events like this is learning about these little slices of Americana.
They are a little bit of American history.
These Holiday Houses are really unique looking with that big front window.
Inside they are very spacious and have a lot of vintage charm.
I especially loved their name and this colorful label on the side.
Anything named Holiday has a sweet spot in my heart.
(look here to see lots more of these beauties.  I'm kind of in love with them)
Many of the trailers were pulled by vintage cars.
You have to have the whole package, right?
And really, it looks so much better for this little trailer to have this Woody in front of it, rather than a modern day Toyota Tundra or F150.
These vintage trailer enthusiasts pay attention to details.
I admit, I was quite smitten with those motor homes.
I could see our family of 6 taking some fabulous cross country trips in this big beauty.
And it's a pretty great color, too.
But I think I will always love the trailers best of all.
Can't you just imagine sitting here, with your cup of morning coffee, watching the sun come up through the trees in your campsite?
It sounds pretty perfect to me.
And speaking of perfect, take a look at this baby.
A vintage trailer turned photo booth.
Be still my heart!
Behold the Bluesteel Photo Booth.
While talking to the owners, Alan and Shari, Alan and I realized we knew each other.
We had taught at the same high school nearly 10 years ago.
Now he and his wife are living on the Central Coast, photographing weddings, and taking their Airstream photo booth to all sorts of fun events.
What?
Am I jealous?
Because they're living in one of my favorite spots on earth, and doing some of my favorite things?
Nope. Not a bit.
OK, maybe a bit.
But mostly happy for them both and their genius idea.
Be sure to check them out here.
Aaron and I walked away from the show more determined than ever to have a trailer of our own one day.
In fact, we almost bought one the next morning.
However, upon discovering that our little Falcon can only pull a teeny, tiny trailer, we decided to wait.
Pulling a trailer with the minivan just isn't very romantic.
Now Aaron is on the hunt for a vintage vehicle big enough to pull a trailer and hold all of us.
These are a current favorite.

Whether you are a vintage trailer fan or not, I do think that all of us have a traveler inside us, longing to get out on the open road.
I just think doing it in a vintage trailer is the way to go!
Cheers to motoring across America with style!!!
Love from,
Greta

PS.  I would be remiss if I didn't share one of my highlights from the show--a celebrity sighting!
I met Charles Phoenix!!
He is a true gem and just as fun and nice in real life as he appears to be on TV and on the web.
Thanks for taking the time to snap a photo with me, Charles, and chat a bit.
We look pretty great with that car, don't we?
Check out Charles' Facebook page for lots more Americana.
He posts fabulous pictures everyday of vintage signs, restaurants, books, vintage products, even recipes.
It is all so fun and sure to put a smile on your face.

I love meeting a fellow fan of all things vintage!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Champion. We Got a Juicer!

We juiced for the first time today.
It wasn't a terribly adventurous recipe--carrot orange--but we went simple for our first time.
It was like liquid sunshine.
A perfect drink for this gray morning.
Isn't it pretty?

Our juicer is a vintage Champion.
The Champion.
I love the name, don't you?
It belonged to my parents, who hadn't used it in years and years.
They gave it to us a while ago, but the cord was broken so it sat in the cabinet, unused.
Aaron fixed it this weekend--he's so handy--and this morning I set the beast up on the counter and the kids and I decided it was time to make juice.
The Champion is a lovely shade of 70s green, big, and is solid.
It weighs a ton.
It has all the original parts.
My favorite is the beautiful wooden tamper and the original recipe and instruction booklet.
It was not super easy for me to put all the parts on and get The Champion operational.
Nothing went together easily and it didn't help that reading technical directions of any kind is not my forte.
Give me a poem and I can pull every nuance of meaning out it you could imagine, but directions for putting together a juicer nearly put me over the edge.
Thankfully I have an 8 year old with a very excellent mind for figuring out the way things work, and who is quite skilled at understanding visual diagrams.
Between the two of us we figured it out.
I only yelled, "arrrrgh!  I hate this thing!" one time.
William scolded me, of course, with at look and these words, "Mom, saying you hate something is like saying kill.  Do you want to kill the juicer?  You're not supposed to say that, Mom."
Can you imagine his lecture if he heard me curse?
Finally, we were ready to juice something.
We started with a bunch of organic carrots.
I thought the  kids would be more open to something not green.
At least for their first time.
They all cheered when the first carrot went through and the juice poured out.
It was so exciting!
(I didn't think about the pulp coming out.  What do you do with all that pulp?  Anything?)
 They were also thrilled by the color of the juice.
"It's so orange, Mom!"
Next we headed outside and picked a bunch of oranges from our very own trees.
We used both the navels and the blood oranges.
As per my mom's suggestion, I peeled the oranges.
She remembered being often disappointed by bitter orange juice.
I figured that must have been from the pith or peel, or both, when you juice the whole orange.
It took a little extra time, but it was worth it to avoid bitter juice.
Everyone took a turn pushing down the fruit.
 Taste test time!
 
Even with a distinct carrot flavor, everyone loved our juice.
It got a thumbs up all around.
I have to say it was some of the most delicious juice I have ever had.
Part of it, I'm sure, was the fact that the oranges were right from our own tree.
Also, that it was juiced minutes before we drank it.
But I think, like so many other things, home made just tastes better.
That is why I make so many things from scratch.
It is messier, takes longer, and requires more effort, but it is almost always worth it.
We'll be juicing lots more, for sure.
And so I need recipes.
Do you have any favorites?
I'm looking forward to trying some green juices and getting those into my kids.
I'm looking for recipes that will help us fight off the colds and flus that seem to be everywhere this winter.
I'd love to hear your favorites recipes, or recipe sources if you have any.

After we got The Champion put together, we had so much fun with our new juicer, and especially enjoying the fruit of our labor.
Here's to two of my favorite things, vintage and homemade!
Happy Tuesday!
Love from,
Greta

Monday, February 11, 2013

Make It From Scratch: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I know I haven't posted here in eons.
Davy was sick for what felt like ages.
Like super, I only want to be in Mommy's arms all day, sick.
And of course there is just regular life to be lived--Aaron traveling to the Midwest for a week, teaching school to my kiddos, field trips, baseball practices starting up, and the like.
I have posted several times over at Lilly and the Brothers, so head over there and check out my latest post about my fitness journey, a recent hike the kids and I did, and my stream of consciousness piece on what I do.
It's all good stuff.

But what I am really here to do today is to share a quick post with you about this awesome soup I made last night.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup.
I know, I know.
I have felt the same way about this soup.
Either it is crazy fattening and rich, or made with gross, fake, ingredients like Velveeta and a can of cream of whatever soup.
I'm not into that.
But I have been on a broccoli kick, and when I saw the recipe, I had to try it.

It is basically a ton of broccoli, a couple cups of spinach, and a bit of cheese.
It is simple to make, full of good for you ingredients, full of flavor, low in calories, and did I mention it tastes really good?
It is rich, velvety, filling and has a delicious nutty flavor like you roasted the broccoli, but you didn't.
If you love broccoli soup, give it a try and see what you think.

The original recipe is from Cook's Illustrated.
I found it here.
The only thing I changed was to use all chicken broth instead of water.
You could use vegetable broth if you wanted to avoid the chicken.
But don't use all water--there isn't enough flavor.
The baking soda sounds weird, but it helps the broccoli cook faster and retain its color.
I used both cheeses, just a bit less than was called for.
But even with the cheese, this soups is only a 145 calories per serving.
A serving is 1 cup and I found it to be very filling.
(Yes, I am a calorie counter now--or at least aware of them for the first time in my life.  All part of my fitness journey.  You can read about it here.)
I liked this soup so much I can't wait to make it again.
In fact, I have another head of broccoli in the fridge, waiting to be turned into soup.
Let me know if you like it!

Love from,
Greta

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
2 TBSP unsalted butter
2 pounds broccoli, florets roughly chopped into 1" pieces, stems trimmed, peeled and cut into 1/4" pieces (I used the stems too.  They add great flavor--just peel and chop)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
3-4 cups wanter
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 ounces baby spinach (2 cups loosely packed)
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup) plus extra for serving
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
Sautee the broccoli, onion, garlic, dry mustard, cayenne, and 1 tsp salt, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 6 minutes.
Add 1 cup of water and the baking soda.
Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the broccoli is very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring only once!
Add the broth and 2 cups of water and increase the heat to medium-high.
When the mixture begins to simmer, stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
Transfer half of the soup to a blender, add the cheddar and parmesan cheese, and blend until smooth.
Transfer the soup in the blender to a bowl, and blend the remaining soup. (or blend it all if you like a smoother soup)
Transfer all of the soup back to the dutch-oven and simmer over medium-high heat.
Adjust the consistency of the soup by adding up to 1 cup of water, depending on what you like.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Out WIth the Old and In With the New: The Art on our Walls

I am happy to say that Aaron's been selling quite a few paintings as of late.
I am sad to say that I miss them when they go.
To see him making his art, the things that are inside him and who he is, and to know that people get it and like it, well, it's wonderful.
Making art makes Aaron happy.
Making art that people enjoy makes Aaron happy.
All of this makes me happy, too.
I guess it's just that even when it's for a good reason, it's still always hard to say good-bye.

The first big painting he did for us, one that hung on our walls through James' first 3 years of life, and then sold to a friend, is still missed.
It was a pair of giant Converse high tops.  (see it here)
James learned what a star was from that painting while it hung in our living room.
He still talks about it sometimes.
Then there was this painting that Aaron sold a while back.
James actually cried when he found out Aaron sold it.
We recently said goodbye to our trailer, Bambi.
Many of our friends expressed dismay that it was for sale.
"It is so you!' they said, "you can't sell it."
But Aaron took it off our walls.
Still, when Aaron got the call that it had sold, he said he felt just a little bit sick to his stomach.
It was a real favorite.
That's the hard thing about the art on our walls--it becomes a part of us, and thus, it is hard to say good-bye.
It's exciting to watch Aaron's paintings sell, and to know that people love them like we do.
But I won't say we don't miss them.
The above painting, "I Like Eich" is Aaron's newest.
I love it so much.
So, so, much.
If you are at all a fan of mid-century architecture, then you are probably familiar with the name, Joseph Eichler.
You know his houses.
And, if you are like me, you wouldn't mind living in one some day.
This painting celebrates the classic Eichler houses.
The windows, the roof lines, and the clean, modern look that makes them so special.
Eichler was not the architect, but the developer of the communities that bear his name.
But because he had an penchant for modern design, his houses all share a similar design sense.
It's one that Aaron and I, and many other people, like very much.

Aaron designed the painting and it is all painted free hand.
He is amazing like that.
It's perfect for someone who really Likes Eich!
Right now, there is only one painting, but he hopes to make prints like it soon.
Which is good news to me, because he took this painting off my kitchen wall this morning and took it to sell at Just Modern in Palm Springs.
Hopefully I'll at least get a print, right?

If you've been reading my blogs for any amount of time, you might remember some of the other paintings that we've had hanging in the house.
First there was ICE.
I loved ICE and we had it for a couple of years before Aaron thought of selling it.
He sold it ast week.
Getting this note from the new owner helped:
"Just wanted to let you know that I'm the new owner of "ICE" - just purchased it today from a shop in Palm Springs.  From the second I saw it, I loved it! "
That's the kind of thing that makes an artist's heart happy.
And his wife's heart swell with pride.
After ICE was gone, Aaron made the Bear, which he titled Promised Land.
I also loved this one.
We didn't have him up for too long.
He sold at Aaron's recent show.
I suppose the reason we love these paintings so much, aside from the fact that Aaron made them and we're his biggest fans and think everything he does is great, is that they are just a part of our life in our home.
We do a lot of living with these paintings.
See?









And now that Eich is gone, the wall in the kitchen looks awfully bare.


Good thing I know an artist who can fill it back up again.
At least for a while.
You know what they say, the cobbler's children never have shoes, the doctor's children are always sick, and the artist's home always has bare walls.
Perhaps it's time for me to commission my artist for my very own piece.
The kids want their own paintings too.
We all thought it high time Aaron make each of the kids their very own painting to keep for always.
He was going to do it for Christmas.
But in the hustle and bustle of it all, we both forgot.
I think some birthday paintings are in order.
I guess I'm going to be keeping my painter busy for a while.
That is the fun part about all this, I do love seeing what he's going to come up with next.
It's always such a good surprise.

If you're still bothering to read this blog, thanks!
I'm hopeful there will be more regular posts in the new year.
The new year is nothing but full of good hopes, right?
So, I hope I'll be seeing you soon!
Love from,
Greta
PS.  Aaron is working on getting a website up and running where he can show some of his hand carved, linoleum block prints, paintings and hopefully silk screened and giclee prints as well.  
I'll let you know when it's operational.

Monday, November 26, 2012

For Your Christmas List: Books About Nature by Thornton Burgess

Hi friends!
It hasn't even been a month, and yet, here I am.
I'm hoping to get a few of these posts in before Christmas, but we'll see how that goes.
Most of the time I am an optimist, so I'll believe that those posts are going to get written.
I don't know about you, but I'm thinking about Christmas gifts.
I've even gotten a few.
And I have my list of the things I am making for people all written out.
In my head.
It's not even December, so I am waaaay ahead, right?
Ha!
I've never been one of those, "it's August and I'm already done with my Christmas shopping!" kind of people.
I'm more like, "it's Christmas eve and I'm still wrapping presents!  Ahhhh!"
We'll see where this Christmas eve finds me.
The optimist in me says I'll be watching the Christmas pageant and playing games with my family, not hiding in the back room wrapping gifts.
In an effort to help you give less plastic stuff that will only be donated to the Goodwill in a matter of months, I thought I'd share one of my favorite gifts to give every Christmas: BOOKS!
Each Christmas, I choose a special book for each one of my children.
The book is hardcover, and is meant to be a book they will keep forever.
I like to think that by the time they have their own kids, each one will have the start of a fabulous book collection.
The books are different each year.
Sometimes they reflect the current interest of the child, or reflect the child's personality at the time.
No matter what, I chose each book especially for each child.
I like books with beautiful illustrations, or great design, and good writing.
Some are new, some are vintage, but they are always timeless sort of books, not trendy.
No biographies of Justin Beiber here!
This past weekend, I was able to spend the night away in Palm Springs, all by myself!
It was such a nice break from my regular life.
I did quite a bit of napping and reading by the pool, and a bit of thrifting too.
Usually we go to Palm Springs in the summer, when it's a million degrees and no one else is there.
The thrifting is awesome then.
It's high season now, and the thrifting is considerably less awesome.
More competition.
But I did find a few treasures: a pink, J. Crew sundress for $4, a gorgeous, vintage green coat, and some books.
When I found this one, I gasped, and said, out loud, "Ohhh, treasure!"
A lady standing next to me looked at the book in my hands, and smiled at me like I was crazy.
I am crazy.
For good books.
Do you know Thornton Burgess?
He is one of our favorite authors.
I was unfamiliar with him until James' first year of school when The Burgess Bird Book was part of our curriculum.
The next year we read the Burgess Animal Book.
My kids loved them both.
If your child is an animal lover, or if you want to learn more about birds, I cannot recommend these books enough.
Because they are told as stories, and each animal or bird is a character, there is none of the dry, textbooky, feeling that so often accompanies non fiction reading.
Yet I still consider them part of our science curriculum because they are so full of information about all sorts of birds and animals.
Also, because they are stories, they can be reread and enjoyed each time.
It's funny that I never bothered to look at other books written by Thornton Burgess simply because they weren't on my curriculum list.
Hence the gasp when I found this one, Longlegs the Heron.
I had no idea that there were so many other books written by Thornton Burgess.
And now I have a whole lot more books to look for!

Interestingly enough, the kids are taking part in some presentations with our home school group tomorrow.
Each child chose a mammal that we might see out and about on our hikes, studied it, and is presenting on it to the group.
My kids have made dioramas of their mammal's habitat, and created little posters with interesting facts about the mammal.
James chose a bear, William an otter, and Lilly a rabbit.
What are the chances I can find those 3 books by Thorton Burgess for under the Christmas tree this year?
How perfect would that be?
Looks like I am off to search the world wide web!

If you're looking for some more books to give this Christmas, here are a few of our other favorites:
every book by M. Sasek, books by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire,  books by Holling Clancy Holling, this book and others by Robert Mccloskey, The Secret Garden was a hit with all the kids and I just love it in this cover, and here are heaps of books written by Thornton Burgess.
What are some of your favorite children's books?
Happy Christmas, friends!
Love from,
Greta

Monday, November 5, 2012

Come to Aaron's Art Show


That's right!
Aaron is having a show.
I've been an art widow for the last month or so as Aaron has been in his studio every night, painting feverishly until the wee hours.
Many nights he'd come to bed after 2.
And get up the next morning and go to work.
I don't know how he did it.
But he says when he gets in a creative groove he looses all track of time and the next thing he knows is it is 3 am and he still wants to keep painting.

The hard work paid off because he has some great pieces.
His color palette is beautiful.
Aaron loves color and it shows in his work.
He is also fun.
And so is his art.
Who he is and what he loves comes out so clearly in his paintings.
I know he'd love to sell them, but I admit to being sad to see them go.

On Sunday morning he loaded up his car with all his work, and went to hang his show.
His art looked even looks good hanging out in his car.


And after a month of hardly seeing one another, that night we went on a date.
Of course we stopped by the wine bar that is hosting the show to see it all hung up.
This picture doesn't do it full justice.
It looks fabulous!
Here's a sneak peek for those of you who won't be able to make it.
 If you are a local, please consider dropping by.
The opening will be this Wednesday, Nov. 7th, from 6-10, at Art Du Vin on 4th St, in Long Beach.
Aaron will be there all evening and he'd love to see you.
I'll be there too--I got a babysitter!
(you know that is worthy of exclamation points!)

You can make a fun night of it and go out to eat at Lola's, across the street from the show.
Lola's has amazingly delicious food.
Get the mole.
You will not be disappointed.
Then walk across the street for a glass of vino, and check out some fantastic art.
If vino isn't your thing, there is a coffee shop too, so you can get an evening shot of espresso.
Really, there is something for everyone.

If you are far away and can't make the show, Aaron will have all the pieces up on his blog in the coming month.
He will also be sharing some info about prints of his pieces becoming available in the near future.
So stay tuned, people.
And come to his show!
Love from,
Greta
PS.  If you know anyone else who might like to check out Aaron's work, please share this post with them.  We'd be so grateful.