Sunday, November 30, 2008


The Panama-California Exhibition of 1915 held in San Diego created our treasured Balboa Park, but it also made a lasting impression on architecture and design for the Southern California region. The Spanish, Mexican, and Moorish design features from the exhibition inspired and created a boom in tile companies making brightly colored tiles for use in/on fountains, bathrooms, kitchens, fireplaces, stairs, doorways, floors, baseboards, walls, ceilings - just about anywhere in or out of the home. Click here to read about how remodeling has destroyed a part of our history or click here and here to see more tiled stairways from San Diego.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Old 'hood

The Sherman Heights neighborhood is named after Matthew Sherman who settled and developed the area (and was also mayor for a short time). Here is one of the magnificent and very quaint historic homes from this neighborhood. This is around where I found those PBYCo bricks. There are hundreds of homes built in the late 1800s and early 1900s in this neighborhood which sits on a small hill overlooking downtown.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday night curry

Are you so over turkey right now? Here's one from Expat: Where I come from (London), the Friday night curry is quite a long tradition (also on Thursday night, and Wednesday night, and....). I'm sorry to say that waiters in curry restaurants often see a deplorable side of the British character after the pubs close and their establishments are the only source of beer.
I've been here in San Diego long enough to remember when the only public source of curry involved an expedition to National City, to the hard-to-find "Curry Pot" restaurant. Nowadays, of course, curry is all over the place and misbehavior is not well tolerated. Our usual Friday night trio recently went for lamb sagwalla (with spinach), lamb korma (mild with yoghourt), and fish tikka masala, at the India Palace in Hillcrest.

Although I'm fond of claiming that the best curry comes from my own kitchen, this feast was very, very good, with excellent basmati rice and naan flatbread. We didn't misbehave (other than the flash photography) but did we indulge in Indian beer? Of course we did.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Welcome to the Table

I'm a little late in posting today...truth is, I was a little busy helping put this together. Why don't you eat with us? You can take the seat on the left. No, you nilly, you can't sit in the head-of-the-family chair, that one's already reserved. But you're most welcome to share dinner with us, there's plenty! My husband arose at the unfriendly hour of 5 to start smoking the turkey.. He's dedicated—dedicated to good food!

The rest of the sides are, from bottom to top, stuffing from inside the (second) bird, which was cooked in the oven instead of the smoker, slightly hidden above that is pomegranate molasses for drizzling over turkey, homemade green bean casserole, dark meat, with white meat above that, corn bread stuffing above that, cranberry sauce, and a cheesy (gruyere) potato & butternut squash casserole. Oh yea, and a couple of bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau. Mmmmm.

Currently, the rest of my family is eating pie - we made apple & pecan - and I think I will now go join them!
What did you guys serve on this festively fantastic holiday?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What is this pile of bricks?

These bricks are stamped PBYCo which stands for Park Brick Yard Company, a San Diego brick making company that operated in the late 1800s. Bricks like these helped date and locate the original location of the McCoy House which I posted about yesterday. A few other structures have been identified as being built with bricks from this company - the Villa Montezuma and the Brooklyn and Grand Hotels which were torn down and reconstructed into the Horton Grand Hotel. Click here to read a fascinating article about the Park Brick Yard Company and the brick making process.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

McCoy House

This reconstruction of the James McCoy house was completed in 2000 and now serves as an interpretive center in Old Town State Park. McCoy was a county sheriff and a state senator here in the late 1800s. In order to reconstruct the house, extensive archaeological and historical research was done in the 1990s. Tomorrow I'll show you a photo of a key element in the research that helped find the house's original location and date of construction.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Outdoor living

This garden space made from bamboo at the Water Conservation Garden is what I'd like to have in my yard.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Water Conservation Garden

If you are looking to save water in your garden or get ideas for landscaping and gardening, the Water Conservation Garden is a good place to start. There are areas that showcase the use of trees in the garden, ground covers - gravel, rock, mulch (shown above), composting, vegetable/fruit gardens, "outdoor living" spaces, different types of grass (below), irrigation systems, and more.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I never thought I'd see these kinds of gas prices again, here's the price from April. A few independent gas stations on my street have prices below $2, and the major stations are following suit. I took this photo yesterday morning, and unbelievably the price has gone down a little more to $1.95 per gallon. Unfortunately, I don't think it will last long.

Friday, November 21, 2008


It seems that frozen yogurt is making a comeback. In the neighborhood where I work I can think of about 8 frozen yogurt places! Here are some of the goodies to load on your frozen yogurt at a newer place called the Yogurt Cup in Mission Hills. I think it is a little bit on the expensive side, being 39 cents an ounce, but the tart flavors are very tasty and, as one of my friends pointed out, the whipped cream is practically free because it doesn't weigh much.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful Finger Painting

San Diego offers many free or very inexpensive classes that you can take with your young children (through the Continuing Education Program). In one of these classes, my oldest was asked on-the-spot what she was thankful for to start this art project. This is what she said. Then she finger painted all over the paper, erasing any evidence that she *might* actually care for her sister.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mountain view from Balboa Park

LinkI'm staying in Balboa Park this week....I took this photo standing near the fountain by the Natural History Museum. This looks toward the Rose Garden, over Florida canyon, and out to San Miguel Mountain (I think).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is it too early for you?

Well, it is not too early for us! This Grinch head pops out over the roof of the entrance at the Old Globe Theatre where Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas is playing now until December 28th.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sculpture Court Cafe

The Prado restaurant is not the only place to get food in Balboa Park. This photo is of the San Diego Art Museum's Sculpture Court Cafe, one of my favorite places to go for a snack. It is an indoor/outdoor space with a water feature, grassy area, and sculpture garden. There are several other eateries in the park as well as a newish food and wine school located in the House of Hospitality.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Balmy weather

We've been having Santa Ana weather here - dry and 80 degrees or more during the day and still in the 70s as night falls. At Balboa Park this evening hundreds of people were walking around enjoying this beautiful November weather.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Another view of downtown

I took this photo awhile ago when we went to Coronado Beach. This is the view from where the Coronado Bridge (highway 75) connects to the Interstate 5 freeway.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Al pastor & fish tacos

These tacos are from the San Diego Farmers Market on Imperial and 21st Street. The Farmers Market is in a tall pinkish red building that has lots of stalls and where you can find piñatas, shoes, cowboy boots, clothes, household items and a handful of food places - some specialize in pork, seafood, others have the regular Mexican food fare. Click here, here, or here to see some photos of the Farmers Market I showed before. Unfortunately the grocery store isn't there anymore.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Creepy Clown

This mask was hanging around the work shop at the apple orchard in Julian when we went there a few weeks ago for apple picking. It was kinda creepy, and I had to sneak a photo of it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Old Naval Hospital garden

I was surprised to see this beautiful garden over near the Activity Center and the Veterans Memorial Museum. The garden used to serve as a courtyard between the old hospital buildings. Click here to see an old photo of the courtyard, below is the full view of what it looks like today.
Most of the buildings surrounding the garden were demolished and a new hospital was built in the 1980s. In this photo you can see a little bit of the Activity Center hiding behind all the trees in the back.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Memorial Museum

Just down the hill from the Activity Center is this B-24 Liberator airplane statue and fountain in front of the Veterans Museum and that is part of the Veteran's Memorial Garden. The garden not only honors veterans, but also the San Diego community in that about 40% of all B-24s were built here during WWII by Consolidated Aircraft. There were "Rosie the Riveters" here in '42 - we can do it! Happy Veteran's Day!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Activity Center

Who in San Diego knows what and where the Balboa Park Activity Center is? And who knew that table tennis is the #2 sport in the world? I didn't know any of these things until now. This is actually not a good photo because the building above is not the Activity Center at all, it is behind where I was standing and the building in the photo is the old Naval Hospital. The Activity Center is a gym on the east side of the park and has courts for table tennis, badminton, volleyball, and other sports.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Kiddie choo-choo

Expat sent me this photo and bit about the little train near the Zoo - and really, it's not just for kids....The weather was unbelievably gorgeous yesterday (it looks like rain today), and Balboa Park was jammed with people enjoying all the attractions. This is the Miniature railroad --$2 for a 3-minute ride. It's right by the carousel, but the ticket office is on the South side.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Loiters beware

This is the Renaissance at North Park, a redevelopment project at the corner of 30th & El Cajon. Over the summer the Starbucks at this location was slated for closure, but I'm happy to report that it is still in business. Usually, I could care less about a Starbucks store, but this store has brought a little ray of light to the corner - click here to read a story about the redevelopment project and the role this Starbucks has played in keeping the area cleaner and safer.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Twenty-one ingredients

Congratulations to Gayle and Expat on this culinary accomplishment: Last week the Los Angeles Times printed a recipe for Mexican molé, that rich, rich, spicy-chocolatey sauce that goes so very well with turkey, chicken and pork. The recipe is fiendishly complicated and requires 21 ingredients including the special chocolate and three different chiles: anchos, negros and guajillos. My wife (and Alexandra's mother) decided to make a project of it. We knew right away that the local Albertson's wasn't going to cut it for the shopping involved, so we ventured into Spanish-speaking San Diego and ended up at an ethnic grocery called La Salsa, on Euclid Ave. No problemo señora, there were all the chiles known to man, plus the chocolate and other exotics. As is always the way with recipes requiring tons of ingredients, there's no way to make a reasonable amount of it, so Alexandra and a couple of other friends got gifts of molé when it was all done. Was it delicious? You may as well ask, "Is the Tijuana police force corrupt?"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Julian Apple-picking

Recently, we went apple picking up in Julian. While there are a few different apple farms up there, we selected a tiny organic farm. Trees planted, not in neat, orchard-like rows. Instead, these trees looked as if they'd sprouted up on their own, almost as if the result of someone tossing a core here and there. It really was fantastic to take a walk along the property, picking from the different types of apples they had to choose from. The kids ran along the path with their bags, excitedly plucking any apple they got close enough to. Afterwards, we got to make a little apple cider to taste.
This was our first year, and we've decided that Fall Apple Picking is already a family tradition! Never mind the fact that the fridge bin is stuffed with more apples than I can shake a stick at!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bravo, encore!

About 2 years ago, to celebrate the change in Congress I posted the above photo of one of the many painted electrical boxes here in San Diego. I'm posting it again in honor of this happy day. Yes, we can!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

For a change

I was really impressed with this homemade Obama sign. I usually try to be neutral when it comes to this blog, but I'll tell you I'm voting for Obama. Even if you disagree, I hope that you all will go out and vote today in this historic election.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Surfer girl

I'm interested to see the results of Proposition D - this is the San Diego proposition to ban alcohol at beaches and parks. Hope you all are ready to VOTE tomorrow!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

In memory of...

In Sherman Heights (a neighborhood near downtown), lots of families put up altars for Dia de los Muertos. The community center had a special event where several altars were set up by individuals remembering loved ones that have passed away. There was also a "community" altar where anyone could bring a photo or memento, light a candle, and spend time reflecting and remembering those that have passed. The altar above was in honor of loved ones from the Ramirez family. The sign was also written in Spanish above the English words. The altars at the community center are still up through today.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Days of the Dead

The Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos is celebrated today and tomorrow. It is a Mexican holiday, but many people in San Diego will also be celebrating. A tradition for the day is to build an altar to honor the deceased which is decorated with sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed. Some may also visit grave sites and leave these items as offerings or ofrenda.These photos are from a shop in Old Town.