Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Shoreline Hotel, Waikiki

We arrived in Honolulu on Monday evening. After checking into our hotel, The Shoreline in Waikiki, we had dinner and then went to bed. I always forget about the time difference! Hawaii is only 2 hours earlier than California, but 2 hours makes a difference! Needless to say, we woke up at 5:30 on Tuesday morning, ready to sight-see!
Mr. and Mrs. Tourist, ready to hit the town

After a quick breakfast, we went to Chinatown. I like visiting the Chinatowns in different cities. The Honolulu Chinatown is very authentic. Many of the buildings are very old and scenic. They sell everything, there are restaurants, hotels, shops, apartments, houses. This is a Chinatown where people live and work. A few of the streets reminded me of New Orleans. There is some very cool architecture in this part of town.

Larry is the Star of my Blog

After Chinatown, we decided to be nostalgic and head over to The Rainbow Drive-In for a plate lunch. 

Just down the street from the Rainbow is Bailey's Antiques and Aloha Shirts. This is probably the hugest collection of vintage, used and new Hawaiian shirts that we have ever seen! This is our second time here. We stayed for almost an hour, browsing shirts and cool vintage knick-knacks.
Millions of Aloha Shirts at Bailey's
 Larry found a very nice shirt in a cool ukulele print!
I always photograph crocheted beer can hats!

I've never seen a Hawaiian Flower Granny Square before! I must figure out this pattern!
Larry found a cache of old records

Larry really wanted this sport coat...too big!

We've a great time so far. Tomorrow we hop over to Hilo on the Big Island where we'll meet up with 7 of our friends to celebrate Brit's birthday! Ukulele times are near!

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Friday, February 09, 2018

Mardi Gras Prep

Decorations are UP at the Original Farmers Market, 3rd & Fairfax

Yikes! Everything is happening at the same time! It's almost Mardi Gras, Valentine's Day, The Winter Olympics AND we're going on vacation! We usually do it up big for Mardi Gras. We consider it our wedding anniversary. Way back in 1992, March 3rd happened to fall on Fat Tuesday. Since we met in New Orleans, we decided to head on down to the LA Courthouse and get married on that day. Mardi Gras does not fall on March 3rd every year, so we celebrate our anniversary twice!
Los Angeles celebrates Mardi Gras a bit differently than New Orleans or other parts of Louisiana.  Essentially, it's just a big party with masks, music and beer. The Farmers Market has a good celebration every year, the weekend before Fat Tuesday and on the actual day. To check out the Market events, here is the SCHEDULE. We'll probably head over there some time during the weekend.
"Mutti" Gras Parade at the Farmers Market

Here are some past Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations, courtesy of the L.A. Library Photo Archives
Floats and Big Head Characters, Venice 1936
1962, Valley Times Collection. Ladies of the Assistance League in Mardi Gras Costumes for the annual benefit party
1963, Valley Times Collection. Women's Club Members prepare for dance
We have a number of Mardi Gras hats, along with beads and other carnival paraphenalia to choose from this weekend. I try to crochet new hats every year, but I didn't quite make it this year.
Hat and Bead Collection
Mr. Mardi Gras
Mrs. Mardi Gras
We'll be in Hawaii on the actual day this year. Thank you to our lovely neighbors for watching our house while we're away. We'll have to change up our costumes for a Hawaiian parade!!

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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Travel Crochet

When traveling, I like to take along a crochet project. This is usually a shawl, thin yarn, small hook. I wouldn't want to take a bulky project or one that I could finish quickly. Also, this travel project cannot be too difficult because my attention span will undoubtedly be short. 
The last time we were in Hawaii I crocheted a version of the "Klamath" shawl in a tropical, aqua blue, Sweet Georgia, yarn. It was a perfect airplane and poolside project.
Modified Klamath Shawlette, Sweet Georgia Yarn
I have been working on yet another Virus Shawl in a very thin sock yarn by Malabrigo called "Ravelry Red." I might just go crazy and add the over-lacy edging from the Belle Epoque Shawl to this Virus! I'll probably take this along with me.
HOWEVER, I have been perusing other patterns. See below...
"A Hearty Hello" Shawl by Fionetta
I would probably crochet this in any color but red so it wouldn't scream Valentine!

"Lost in Time Shawl"  This is one of the most popular patterns on Ravelry! 

"Pom Pom Happiness Shawl"  Pom Poms!!
Yes, shawls are the item to crochet while on vacation. They're not too fiddly as far as increases and decreases. If you crochet with light weight yarn, this is a very portable project.
I did see this totally ADORABLE avocado granny square the other day! It wouldn't be practical to take all those different color yarns on vacation, especially when flying, but when I get home, I can definitely see an avocado pillow in my future!

Avocado Granny Square. Would you like chips with that?

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Monday, February 05, 2018

Skein Enable

Saturday I was honored to be a guest on the Skein Enable Podcast. The host of the podcast, Jill is a skilled fiber artist. Jill and I have been in various stitch 'n bitch groups and have known each other for years. We planned to record the podcast on Saturday afternoon, before our scheduled meet-up with the Ocean Park Fiber Artists.
Ellen and Jill. There's the Pacific Ocean behind us!

Jill lives in Santa Monica just a few blocks from the beach. We could see the Pacific Ocean from her dining room studio! Since the day was sunny and warm, this made parking difficult, but that's the price you pay for living at the beach!
We launched right into the projects we recently finished. I talked about the Belle Epoque Shawl and the Virus Shawl. Jill showed off the Hammerhead Shark Baby Booties she'd recently completed and her Zweig pullover.
We shifted into many different conversations about knitting and crocheting in one garment, items that we want to crochet and/or knit and more. Of course, I tried to steer the subject to ukuleles! I talked a bit about the strap "cozy" that I crocheted.
Crocheted Ukulele Strap
It was a very nice, rambling conversation, including books, paintings on velvet, TV shows and movies, but always turning back to our favorite subject, YARN. Thanks, Jill for a fun afternoon!
LISTEN to the podcast and join the Ravelry group when you have a chance!

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Thursday, February 01, 2018

Yes, The Pancakes are Yummy

Du-par's at the Farmers Market, 2018. Photo by Larry Underhill 

I've been going to Du-par's Restaurant my entire life. The branch at the Original Farmers Market is the one we frequented most when I was growing up. I also liked the Du-par's on the Miracle Mile, 5601 Wilshire Boulevard. Du-par's Restaurants have popped up all over the city in the past 40 years, most of them are gone now. As far as I know, only the Farmers Market and Pasadena locations remain open.
Du-par's on the Miracle Mile, 1978. Photo by Marlene Laskey
Du-Par's Vine Street, Hollywood, 1960. Water & Power Photo Collection

Du-par's was founded in 1938 by James Dunn and Edward Parsons, who combined their last names to create the restaurant's name. Various people have owned Du-Par's over the years. After 20 years of ownership, the Oberst family sold the chain in 2004 to "Biff" Naylor, the son of noted California restaurateur Tiny Naylor. Remember the old drive-in, Tiny Naylor's on Sunset at LaBrea? I remember going to Biff's Coffee Shop on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills! So, you'd think that Biff would know something about running a restaurant, having grown up in the business. I don't know what it is, maybe Biff expanded the Du-Par's chain too quickly. They've been dropping like flies since Biff took over. 
Interior, Du-par's, Third and Fairfax, Los Angeles.

Since the revered Studio City location closed last month, I thought we'd better high-tail it over to Du-Par's, Farmers Market to try their legendary pancakes. All of the years I've been going to Du-pars, I've never had their pancakes! I usually have the French toast for breakfast.
Just to counter-act the richness of pancakes, we started with a dinner salad. It was huge and filled with fresh veggies and homemade croutons.
Chef Salad
Yes, the pancakes were delicious. We ordered a small stack which consisted of 3 plate-size buttermilk pancakes, drenched in liquid butter. Hot maple syrup was served in a small pitcher alongside the pancakes.
Buttermilk Pancakes
The pancakes were fluffy, flavorful and yummy. It was like eating dessert!
Du-par's is open 24 hours a day, so if you need a pancake fix at 2 a.m., skip Canter's and get over to Third and Fairfax!
We had the place to ourselves at 7 pm on a Tuesday Night!

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Tradewinds are Calling

We are visiting the Big Island of Hawaii in February with a gang of friends to celebrate a special birthday. Larry and I are leaving a few days early for a two-day stop in Honolulu. We were there almost 6 years ago for our 20th wedding anniversary. I miss it and look forward to returning.
I'll be bringing my special, embroidered tiki bag (courtesy of MaryJo), along with a crochet project

We really do not have to do any prep for this type of a vacation. It's all about casual...flip flops, shorts, muu muus, t-shirts and comfy clothes. Of course, we'll all be bringing our ukuleles!

Larry loves his Hawaiian shirts. Reyn Spooner is a favored designer. Larry found a very cool Reyn Spooner shirt the other day called "Catalina Seaplanes." 
"Catalina Seaplanes" Hawaiian Shirt by Reyn Spooner

It arrived on our doorstep yesterday. What a cool print! Not only does this print feature the famous Catalina seaplanes, but you can see The Tuna Club, The Casino and the Airport in the Sky! These are all the Catalina landmarks that I visited as a child.
Detail: "Catalina" Shirt

After we return from the Hawaiian Islands, we MUST visit Catalina Island! We haven't been to our honeymoon spot (Avalon) in decades!

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Venice Oil Fields

I'm reading a book right now by Ray Bradbury. It's not one of his science fiction novels, but rather a mystery novel in the vein of Raymond Chandler. The book was written in 1985, but takes place in 1949, Venice, California, called "Death is A Lonely Business."  I love reading books about my town in an era before I was born. I do remember Venice Beach in the late 50's and 1960s as rather run-down. Lots of musicians and artists lived in the area because it was inexpensive. Naturally, the run-down, bohemian atmosphere led to more restaurants opening and higher real estate prices. The pensioners and poor folks who used to live in Venice would not recognize it today. 
Bradbury does an excellent job of describing Venice and it's various citizens. He describes the rolling fog a lot, the old Venice Pier and the oil wells. The oil wells are mentioned so often, that I looked online for some photos of those oil wells in Venice. I found a couple by photographer, Herman J. Schultheis, taken in 1937. Below are photos of views down a Ballona Creek channel with oil wells lining the banks of the Venice Oil Field, located south of Venice, in what is now Marina del Rey!
Venice Oil Field. Photo b Herman J. Schultheis, 1937. LAPL Collection
1937. Herman J. Schultheis
Of course I remember oil wells further east, between La Cienega and La Brea, south of Ballona Creek, north of Stocker Street; many of them are still there; but I do not remember the Venice Oil Fields. I am amazed that the County of Los Angeles dredged out a pleasure craft marina from this oily muck! 
Click on image to enlarge. The former Venice Oil Fields is now Marina del Rey, one of the largest pleasure craft marinas in the country.

I definitely recommend "Death is a Lonely Business." Bradbury may not have been the BEST mystery writer, but his descriptions of our Los Angeles, from the beach to downtown during this era, are worth your time.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018


I have many obsessions. They feed off of each other and are usually related. I'm obsessed with purses, yarn, hearts, Hollywood Regency architectural style, yarn, crochet, knitting and arranging everything into a grid, including crocheted granny squares, of course. I'm also obsessed with playing my ukulele and learning new songs. When I find a song I like I play it OVER and OVER again, to my husband, Larry's exasperation. He always says that every girl he's known has played either the same song or record album over and over again if she likes it. Yup! That's me..."every girl."
If you follow my Instagram feed (@ellblo) or my life on Facebook, you know that my latest song obsession is "Smokey the Bear." I hadn't heard this song since I was a tiny girl. It was very popular among the cub scouts in my neighborhood. At the Boulevard Music Holiday Show, owner, Gary Mandell sang the song, accompanied by his guitar. Even though we were all singing lovely holiday tunes, the smell of smoke hung heavily in the air due to the recent fires in many areas surrounding Los Angeles. So many lives and property were lost to these horrendous fires. Gary felt that he should pay attention to Smokey's warning, so he sang this song from his boy scout days. It resonated with me. I had to learn this song on the ukulele!

Gary Mandell, performing "Smokey the Bear," December 2017, Culver City

I searched the internet and found YouTube versions by Eddy Arnold, Gene Autry and the children's version by Johnny Jones and His Peter Pan Rangers. I found the sheet music, above, song written in 1952 by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins. I even found the guitar tabs with lyrics. Perfect! I started playing the song on my uke. I love this song. I cannot stop playing this song. I love the perky tune, the lyrics and the long-lasting message to live by that we all can help prevent wild fires.
On further research, I found the actual story of Smokey Bear, a bear cub in New Mexico who survived a raging wildfire. Yes, his name was Smokey Bear. "The" was added by the song writers to maintain the rhythm of the song. My friends, Jeff and Audrey have visited Smokey's grave at Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan, New Mexico.  I want to go there too!

Smokey Bear is my hero. I plan on teaching this song to my ukester friends soon. Hopefully, we'll learn it well enough to make our own YouTube video!

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Hiren's BootCD
hard drive recovery