Monday, April 30, 2012

Balsamic Vinegar

I absolutely LOVE Balsamic Vinegar, there's just nothing else like it in the whole wide world.

That said, it can be expensive, but so worth it.  Still, the really good stuff isn't always available, so I'm going to let you in on a secret.  When you have a Balsamic that is just ok, but missing that deep flavor of the better brands, you can reduce it!

Simply put it in a pan over a low heat till it just comes to a bare simmer, then let it go for anywhere from twenty to forty minutes.  It should thicken considerably, concentrating the flavor.  Put it back in the bottle and refrigerate and voila! you have nectar.

Of course, if you can find (and afford) the better stuff, do so, but this sure works in a pinch.

Now then, you have this wonderful ambrosia, what do you do with it?

My favorite is a simple Caprese salad.

First, you need real ripe tomatoes.  Not those things you buy in the market, but fresh from your garden, or if you can find them, a good local Farmers Market.  If your tomatoes aren't sweet and ripe, this really doesn't work.  Then you need a good fresh mozzarella cheese, preferably a soft buffalo cheese.  Then fresh basil and a little olive oil.  And of course, Balsamic.

This is all it takes for a basic Caprese salad.

Slice your tomatoes and your cheese, layer them on a plate, tomato, cheese then a leaf or two of fresh basil.  When your plate is full, simply drizzle a bit of olive oil, then drizzle your balsamic.  If you've reduced the balsamic, it should be thick enough to be decorative, if you're so inclined.

And while a basic Caprisi is heaven, there are a lot of variations.

I like to add a tiny bit of thinly sliced garlic (paper thin, it should melt in your mouth).  It's also nice if you have some sun dried tomatoes, chop them very fine and spread those over the salad (or you can mix them in with the olive oil prior to dressing).  A few chopped pine nuts are also a nice addition.

Our local Farmers Market opens tomorrow, 
I can hardly wait.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dog Tired

We had a decent day at the flea, but it was really hot, so we're both worn out.

We did well, losing a full car load and half a pickup truck load and bringing in a bit over $400.

There wasn't a whole lot to take pictures of, 
but I did think these guys 
were photo worthy.

I was very good 
and only bought one small bag of jewelry.
My prize is this duet (or duette) pin.
These are fairly rare, 
especially complete like this one

I took several pictures and finally gave up, 
since jewelry photography just isn't my forte.  
I can tell you these pictures don't do this piece justice at all.  
The stones are all there, clear and bright and shining.
Here's a shot of the back.

Duets are so called 
because they are actually two pins 
that can be joined with a back piece 
to create one pin.  
Hence, you can wear them as one large brooch 
or two separate pins, usually clips.

The device was patented in the late 1930s 
and their popularity continued into the 1960s.  
Some are still made, 
but the choice pieces are the vintage clips 
in good condition.

PLEASE forgive these terrible pictures.

If you'd like to read more about duets 
and actually see some good photographs, 
click here.

That's it for tonight, 
we're taking tomorrow off and doing nothing!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Another Flea

Another flea market tomorrow,
the first of this year 

the good part,
it's lots of work,
but an easy way to move things.

the bad part,
we have to get up
in the middle of the night
to get a decent spot

Wow, did I really get up
 at 4am
for close to forty years?

Still, it's easier to work in the house
when we know that there's a flea close by
every month.

Wish us luck.

Maybe I'll take some pictures!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

the Wisteria, and Earrings

 It only took a couple of days of warm weather
and our wisteria seemed to burst into bloom.
It smells as sweet as honey.
This really needs to clicked and enlarged to appreciate

I thought I'd post pictures of my new earrings, 
I love opals, 
even when they're reconstituted and enhanced.
It's the flash that blows my skirt up.

While I've pretty much quit collecting,
jewelry is still my weakness,
I just can't help myself.

In my heart, 
I know how silly it is to wear such fancy earrings 
when we're living in the rig 
and often out in the middle of nowhere, 
but I've just decided it's just fine,
as it makes me smile.

That's it for today,
Night All.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Couple of Memory Shots

Not much to write about, 
another day going through the detritus of my life . . .

Our house is a lovely old house, 
in need of a ton of repair, 
but still, full of charm from a time gone by.

This is the window in the front room.
I've spent countless hours looking at this view.
I've fixed this shot so you can see the view, 
but not so much the piles in front of the window.

While I know he's slid into disrepute 
I've always liked Paul Reubens aka Pee-Wee Herman. 
His sense of wonder and whimsy appeals to me. 
Today I found this picture from the 80s.
I love this shot .
I've stuck it in a binder I'm keeping of favorite images.
Before we leave, I'll scan them all.

That's it for today, 
sorry it's not more exciting.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lemonade- a Small Rant

The other day, I was reading a blog called the Bitchy Waiter.  A talented writer, I find his blog highly entertaining.

He often lists the various things that annoy waiters and waitresses, one of them being people who don't order drinks, then proceed to make their own lemonade.

This struck home, because that's exactly what I do!

But it's not because I'm cheap (Which I prefer to think of as frugal . . .)

Now, I do hate to pay $2 to $3 for a glass of iced tea, but when the mood strikes me, I'll do it; however, usually, what I really want is some lightly sweetened water with a hint of lemon.  And believe me, the "lemonade" I make bears no resemblance to the overly sweet, overly sour chemical tasting goop that usually passes as lemonade in most restaurants.

That said, I'm a pretty generous tipper when my service is fair and a great tipper when the service calls for it.

Rant over.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag

Yesterday we took the day off and went up to Ano Nuevo State Park.  We're sure making good use of our $10 senior state park pass!

We  went there years and years ago and have been saying we needed to go back for as long as we've been back.  The one thing we forget (we're getting old!) was that it's a hefty hike out to those Sea Lions.

It starts out on a nice level path.  
The day was perfect, warm with a breeze.
Even though the sun was beating down on us, 
the breeze kept us comfortable.

I took a lot of pictures of this waving grass, 
no photograph can capture how beautiful it was.

This is the remains of the Point Arena, 
wrecked on the coast in 1913.
These remains were found in 1983.
You can read the story here. 

The hole made a nice frame. 

Soon, the landscape changed to this.

This fallen tree 
had these great clusters of pine cones.

I did my best to get a clear shot of this guy.
Unfortunately, the background is pretty sharp 
and the bird is fuzzy.

Finally, we were at the shore.

In years past, 
Ano Nuevo was part of the mainland.
As the earth has changed, 
it has separated from the mainland 
and become an island. 

Suddenly, the path was gone 
and we were on the sand. 
Sand fascinates me. 
This was so fine and delicate, 
so many textures and colors. 
Sparkling diamonds, 
brown earth, 
black like coal. 
Watching it move and swirl in the light breeze was amazing. 
And I needed to stop and rest! 

Further up the trail, there were small ponds.  
They were in the path and along the side. 
Tadpoles by the thousands.

Finally, we got to see some Sea Lions.
This guy was pretty far out to sea, 
but at least he was active.

It seems we hadn't done our homework.
The last time we were here was in the Fall.
That's prime mating season, 
with lots of the large bulls 
bellowing and making a ruckus on the beach.

This is molting season.
This is what a molting Sea Lion does.

They lie around 
and pretend to be washed up driftwood.

This is what the molt looks like.
It sort of moves to the surface 
and then flakes off
while the Sea Lion hangs around 
and pretend to be a log.

I had to include one "arty" shot.

This guy at least stuck his head up for a minute.

And then there was this guy.
Out of all the Sea Lions,
he was the only one who was active.

Well, at least his head and mouth were active.
Notice his bud, lying next to him.
At least he opened his eyes.

There were birds hanging out on many of the Sea Lions.
The Sea Lions didn't seem to mind.
Well, except for Butch here,
who looks like he might make a lunch of this gull.

Finally, we left the Sea Lions 
and started the trek back.
Walking on fine sand is now 
my most un-favorite thing in the whole world.
It seemed like we were walking forever, 
up one dune, 
down another.
Then we saw this  . . .

Oh no, was this to be our fate?
Lost in the sand?

We thought it was kind of strange 
to see these two skeletons among the dunes.

Weird, but interesting.
I thought the nasal cavities were kind of cool.

Finally, it looked like we were getting back to civilization.
Real foliage, and a bird that wasn't a seagull!

There were even places where you could stop and sit 
and enjoy the view.
This is a wonderful spot.

There were lots of tiny flowers at this scenic spot, 
these were my favorites.

This was shot from the same place.

FINALLY, we made it back to the car, 
to learn that the entire hike 
was most likely a bit over four miles. 

 I know there's a lot of dedicated hikers out there 
who think 4 miles is just a walk in the park.

That's not us.

Our feet hurt,
our legs hurt
and we're dog tired.

And that's why I called this entry 
"I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag"

That said,
if we're still here 
when the bulls come back in the Fall,
we'll do it again.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Sorry, I just can't help myself . . .

This one is called Mosaic Creator and it is way cool. Especially when you consider it only costs $.99!

It offers a lot of options in a small package. First, you pick any image from your photo album that you want to convert into a photo mosaic. Then you can pick a size for the mosaic tiles (anywhere from 16 to 150 pixels). Then, you decide if you want to use the same tiles over and over (or use every picture in your album without a lot of repeating). Finally, you decide whether you want all the photos to maintain their original coloring, or if the software can change the album image colors to suit the selected image.

Even though you only have three options, they open up endless possibilities.

I'm including too many (again), but I'm having such a good time . . .

Remember the panorama I posted of the Golden Gate Bay?
Here's a mosaic using the original photo colors.

Here it is allowing the app to change the mosaic colors
to suit the image.

Flamingos, using app selected colors and larger tiles.
This shot allowed unlimited re-use of the tiles.

Smaller tiles, no repeating,
but using colors to suit the original image.

Sunrise at Monument Valley.

More Monument Valley.

This is the very first one I did.
The blocks are a bit too large,
but still, I kind of like it.

It even works on black and whites.

I made the squares really tiny on this one.
The original picture wasn't all that clear,
but I think the mosaic is kind of cool

All these images are clickable for larger images.
That said, when you zoom in,
some of the original images are kind of pixelly.
This isn't as much of an issue with the original size,
but when I reduced them for posting online,
it became more noticeable.

Still, I really like this app and will be using it a lot.