Exploring La Jolla California (Part 4)

For my fourth and final post in this series about La Jolla I thought I’d share a couple more fun photos and treasures that we discovered on our quick trip over there in July.The Faded Awning Nautical Pillow

After we left the La Jolla Open Aire Market we had to walk a few blocks to get back to where Terry parked the car.  During our stroll we passed a sweet little coastal store called “The Faded Awning Collection” at 7464 Girard Ave.  (They don’t seem to have a website that I can find. If you know of one, please send it to me.)

In case you’re new to my blog, I need to tell you that although I currently live in the desert, I love the casual feel of coastal-cottage style decorating and I try to pretend that I live in a beach climate when I’m inside the house.  You won’t see adobe, saltillo tile, or southwestern decor when you visit.  It’s blues, greens, sea shells and white painted furniture for me.

So you can imagine why this caught my eye.  Tucked just outside the door at the entrance to the store I saw this wonderful pillow made with a vintage blue nautical flag.  I just had to take a short detour to see what else they had inside and my sweetie was nice enough to patiently wait for me.

Don’t you just love the simple beauty of that pillow?  And how easy it would be to make some like this!  I’ll have to add it to my craft idea binder.

Sea Horse ArtOnce inside the store the space was a bit overwhelming and crowded, but I did see some wonderful pieces.

Like this seahorse art which was 4 or 5 feet tall.  The silhouette was painted in black on weathered wood with the words stenciled on top of the black.  I’m sure it isn’t as easy as it looks, but would probably be a fun project to try.  Imagine the variety of similar pieces that you could do with the same basic format…starfish, fish, and other sea creatures with your favorite beachy prose or just random words to fill the space and a myriad of color schemes, like navy, or shades of beach glass, of course.  Let me know if you decide to try it.  I’d love to see how it turns out.

Now, to say goodbye to this lovely coastal town, I thought I’d share a few photos that reminded me that we weren’t Phoenix.

 Purple flowers on white fence

While driving down Mission Blvd. on our way out of town we passed this little beach house with these gorgeous morning glories covering the back fence.  That shade of purple was so vibrant!
Belmont Park CaliforniaDid you know that just about 15 minutes south of La Jolla there’s a park with a roller coaster?  It’s called Belmont Park.  We didn’t have time to stop there, but it looked like it was hopping!  Let me know if you’ve been there and if it’s worth a stop.

And just how many different modes of transportation can you count in this pic?  Those crazy Californians.

Beach LIfe

And I just had to take this photo of the quintessential beach community.  Where else will you see folks walking their dog, heading for the beach with their surfboard and driving in a convertible all in the same scene in the middle of July.  In Southern California of course!

So we bid farewell to La Jolla for now.  I’m sure we’ll be back again, but not sure when.  Thanks for coming along for the ride.  Let me know where you’d like to go next.  How does Scotland sound?  It’s a little bit different than Southern California, but I’d say well worth the visit.

Be sure to stop by again soon and see what we can find in Scotland and Ireland in the coming weeks!  Or better yet, sign up to receive notification every time there’s a new post!

Exploring La Jolla California (Part 3)

I woke up on Sunday morning knowing that we had just about a half day before we needed to hit the highway, leave the ocean breezes and drive through the scorching desert back home to Phoenix.  It really wasn’t as depressing as it sounds.  We knew that our La Jolla visit was going to be short and we also knew that we will be leaving for Scotland and Ireland in a few short weeks.  (Stay tuned for more on that.)

2011 La Jolla Open Aire Market_FlowersAfter enjoying our free breakfast at the hotel I spent a little time surfing the web to try to get some ideas on things to do in our last hours there.  I thought about heading downtown to check out some shops and galleries, since we didn’t do any of that on Saturday, but wasn’t sure when everything opened.  Then I stumbled onto a reference for the La Jolla Open Aire Market.  Since it was in the middle of summer, I was thinking it might be a great place to pick up some delicious So Cal produce to take home with us.  Turns out it was all that and so much more!

The Market is held every Sunday at the playground and all proceeds benefit the La Jolla Elementary School, just a block or so from downtown.  What a brilliant way to bring in additional funds for our budget conscious schools!  I would imagine it’s a fair amount of work to coordinate, but even if you only did it once a month or a few times a year I would imagine that you could bring in a decent amount of money for your favorite educational institution.

Because of it’s location at the corner of Girard Avenue and Genter Street you run into a similar parking problem here as you do trying to get to the beach.    So Terry was nice enough to drop me off at the entrance and drive around until he found a parking space.

2011 La Jolla Open Aire Market Produce

Admission is free, which is always nice.  Once we walked inside we were immediately flooded with vibrant sights, irresistible smells and perfectly lovely sounds.  We enjoyed a talented guitar player and vocalist right at the entrance (sadly, I didn’t get his name).  Some of the vendors that caught my eye offered fresh flowers, produce, children’s clothes,  fine art photography, jewelry, home-made soaps and more.  There was also a woman selling gorgeous orchids for very reasonable prices and I was so tempted to buy one.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure how it would fare in our trek across the desert (or if it would make it through the border check going back into Arizona).   Here’s an extensive list of their vendors as of the latest update.

We did stop and buy some peaches, green and wax beans and a loaf of rosemary bread.  Mmmmm…

As we wandered around the booths I couldn’t help but notice the amazing scents that wafted through the crowds.  At the far corner of the market there was a concentration of food vendors that were obviously competing for our appetites. This was one time that I was disappointed to have had a free (boring) breakfast an hour or so before, because I really wished that I could justify buying one of the delicacies that was tempting my taste buds. Using all the will-power I could muster, I walked past the Turkish Grill and squeezed by the long line for the Creperie.  I was able to talk Terry into getting a huge cup filled with fresh sliced mangos and melon.  Let’s call it dessert after breakfast.  It was delicious!  I’ll tell you, if I lived nearby I would do brunch every Sunday there until I had tried out all the food vendors.  They smelled and looked THAT good!

2011 La Jolla Open Aire Market - Little Girl's Dresses

Then on the way out we spotted a booth called “Gingersnaps” with these adorable little girl’s summer dresses.  I was SO tempted to buy one or two, except the fact that I don’t have any grandchildren yet, and didn’t have an immediate plan to attend a baby shower, so I wasn’t sure who I could give them to.  I did think about my little friends, Emolyn and Elsie, but just didn’t have it in the budget to pick up something for them that day…and Terry would have thought I was crazy…maybe next time.

Here’s a small gallery of a few more enticing vendors from the Market.  It was a such an unexpected adventure, chock full of treasures of all shapes and sizes.  Oh, don’t I wish it was Christmas shopping season already!  What am I saying!  It’s Christmas shopping season all year long, but it’s also vacation season, so we had to save our pennies for the big trip in August.

Hey, I’ve decided to add one more post about La Jolla, so stop by later this week to see what other treasures we found there.

What’s your favorite open air market and what do you love to buy there?

Exploring La Jolla, California (Part 2)

If you missed part 1 of this post about the Harbor Seals, you can find it here.

LaJolla Bride

After doing a little bit of wading in the water, we walked along the sidewalk that hugs the coastline and passed two different wedding parties enjoying a gorgeous setting to tie the knot.  This bride was on her way from her photo shoot to her reception.  I saw our daughter, Amy gazing longingly at the wedding festivities.  I know she would love to shoot a wedding here (so give her a call if you need a photographer for here or anywhere)!

We ended up resting under these wonderful curvy, gnarled trees.  I have no idea what they’re called, but they were so unique.

Next we headed toward LaJolla Cove (just a few steps away).  We passed this lovely plein air painting on the way to the beach.  I’d love to try painting again someday, but I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try it with so many onlookers.  You couldn’t find a more perfect setting though.

This is La Jolla Cove which is actually designated as an Underwater Park Ecological Reserve where fishing is prohibited and all the marine life is protected.  You’ll enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming and kayaking here!

I’m told that there are times during the year where you can see both Seals and Sea Lions at Casa Beach, but that didn’t seem to be the case this week. Today we get to meet the California Sea Lions that are at La Jolla Cove.  It’s within easy walking distance of the seals.

I think it’s so awesome that these gorgeous creatures are in such close proximity to each other and so accessible for the public to view.  What a great way to teach your little ones about the magnificence of God’s creation and to guide them in how to explore, appreciate, honor and respect their natural world. This is the ultimate example of nature at your doorstep, even in busy southern California.  As you can see, these kayakers have an amazing view of the sea lions and a much different vantage point than those of us on land.La Jolla Kayaks and Sea Lions

LaJolla CA Sea Lions By the way, do you know the difference between the seal and sea lions that we see in La Jolla?  Sea Lions have small external ear flaps.  Another big difference between true seals and sea lions is that sea lions have larger front flippers which they use effectively on land. Sea lions can also rotate their hind flippers toward the ground so they’re able to walk on all four appendages, unlike seals that basically “scooch” on their bellies. They make use of their fore flippers when propelling themselves through water too.  Sea Lions are generally the creatures that you’ll see performing in shows, since they’re highly intelligent and relatively easy to train.  If you’d like to get into even more detail about the differences, visit “How Stuff Works” here.

And last, but not least this temperate climate does wonders for flowers!  Here’s just a taste of the colors you may see here.

Here’s a link to a detailed map of the LaJolla area.  At this posting it was last updated in 2010, so it’s hard to tell how accurate the business listings are, but for general navigation, it should be helpful.

So what’s your favorite part of La Jolla so far?

Next post will be about the Open Aire Market there.  Stay tuned – you’re gonna wish there was a scratch and sniff blog option.

Here are a few of my favorite pics of our family from the weekend.  Don’t you just love Amy’s earrings!

Terry in La Jolla

Andrew La Jolla

Exploring La Jolla California (Part 1)

For our first day in LaJolla, after inching through the traffic between the hotel and the coast, we finally found a place to park about a block from the beach.

LaJolla CA Seal Beach

First stop would be the Casa Beach to see the Harbor Seals.  Here’s what the view looks like from street level (click to enlarge).  Now remember this is right in town and less than a 5 minute walk from where we parked.  Looks kinda like a normal beach, protected from the waves by the wall and walkway.  What you may not notice is that there are Harbor Seals in the water and on the beach, just below the wall, past where all the people are.  At certain times of the year, the whole beach is covered with seals, and this is also where they have their pups in the spring.

This harbor seal colony numbers approximately 200 seals.  To learn more about this beach, the seals and the La Jolla Friends of the Seals that help out there, click here.  It’s really quite interesting.  There’s also some controversy between those that think the beach should be roped off to protect the seals year round and those that think humans should have access to the beach in the summer for swimming.  If you’re interested in more info on that, visit “The Controversy” here.Pacific Harbor Seals La Jolla

We walked down on the beach and I pulled out my 300mm zoom lens so I could get some close-up shots of the seals without disturbing them physically.  They’re so cute and lovable, but can seem to be aggressive when humans encroach on their space.  While we were standing there, an adult seal moved away from the rest of the seals and toward some folks that were getting too close.  She seemed to be chasing them away from the pups and other adult seals.  Once everyone backed up, she went back to the group.   I’m not sure what would have happened if the humans hadn’t moved, but suffice it to say that it’s important that we respect their habitat and honor their right to be there too.  In the photo above you can see how close people were to the seals.

Multi-colored SealsHere’s a group shot that shows the interesting range of color and pattern in their fur coats.  They go from silver to black with all manor of combinations in between.

La Jolla Seals and TrashLook at the seal heading into the water in this one!  And the brownish one lying on his back.  He looks like your favorite dog begging to have his belly scratched.  The sad thing about this photo is the water bottle tossed in the group of seals.  Seriously, who in the world would do that?  Sad enough that someone would throw it on the ground at all, but the fact that this could have been thrown directly at a seal is disgusting.  Please teach your children that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.  (getting off my soap box now…)

Amy & Andrew LaJollaSo after we left Casa Beach, we walked down a little way.  Andrew and I did some wading at another stretch of beach while Terry and Amy looked on.

And while we were there, I used my “motherly expertise” to rescue a little boy who had encountered a serious issue.  Check out this photo that Amy took.  This little guy was maybe 8 years old and had been playing on the rocks at the beach.  Somehow he managed to rip his trousers across the top of the back pocket and ALL THE WAY down his pant leg from top to bottom, so his underwear and rear end was showing.  Fortunately he HAD underwear ON, but it was still pretty embarrassing, I’m sure.  So Amy had a big safety pin and I managed to get the loose flap pinned to the top of his pocket enough so that everything wasn’t hanging out.  It’s something only a mom would be allowed to do respectfully.  I’m not sure where his mother was, but I would have hoped that someone would do the same for Kevin if he’d been wandering around like that when he was young.  The little boy seemed to be appreciative, but still couldn’t find the shirt that he lost as well.  Good thing he was having fun in the water, otherwise it could have been a ruined day for him.

Amy & Terry

Andrew in LaJolla

Isn’t it amazing how, even as adults we’re fascinated by the interplay between waves and sand.  I could sit and watch the ocean for hours.  It’s so relaxing and refreshing…

You can see more photos that Amy posted from our adventures here too.

So, we’re about half way through the day at this point.  The next post will be the rest of the afternoon.

What do you think about the ocean?  Is it scary or intriguing to you?  Having grown up right next to Lake Erie, large bodies of water don’t frighten me.  I am a bit intimidated by the more dangerous creatures in the ocean though…like sharks and jelly fish and the like.  And I’m not really fond of the salt water coating that’s left in your hair and on your skin after swimming in the ocean.

Let me know what you think about the ocean. Have you ever been to La Jolla?  What’s your favorite thing to do there?

Eating in La Jolla, California

Because we know it’s all about the food, I thought I’d share about a couple of places that we ate when we were in La Jolla.

The Spot – La Jolla

Saturday night was an unofficial birthday dinner for me (and for Andrew too) since both of our birthdays were in the week before we were there.  We tried to make a reservation for a place overlooking the coast, but the earliest they had was 8pm, and we had eaten early in the day, so we tried to find someplace available earlier.  We ended up at The Spot.

It wasn’t overlooking the coast, but we were able to snag a table right next to a couple of windows that opened out onto the sidewalk with the fresh ocean breeze wafting through.  This is the booth where we sat.  Can’t you just feel the breeze?

It also helped because the restaurant is a little dark, so the outside access helped it feel more open.

Here’s what we ate:

Andrew’s Garbage Burger: 1/2 lb beef patty with lettuce, tomato, pickle fries, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and onion rings

Garbage Burger

My steak and shrimp scampi.  The scampi was a little over-cooked but still had good flavor.   The steak was tender and delicious!

Steak and Scampi

Terry’s Shrimp with Penne Pasta looked very tasty: imported penne pasta tossed with grilled chicken in our pesto cream sauce

Pasta with Shrimp

I don’t have a photo, but at the table next to us the guys had a Deep Pan Pizza that looked amazing!  We were staring enough as it was, so I didn’t want to totally intrude by taking a picture.

This is the view looking outside from the table.

Overall it was a wonderful meal in a great location with some of my favorite dinner companions.

For those who’ve seen this post already, I apologize for the duplication.  I realized that I didn’t include the “window” shots and I wanted to add them.

I think I’m going to share about the next place in a separate post because there’s more than just the meal to talk about.

Next Post: Seals, Sea Lions and more in LaJolla

Then: LaJolla’s Open Aire Market!

Onward and Upward Workshop

We interrupt our regular posting series to announce that our daughter, Amy is presenting a new online workshop!

You can check out all the details here!

She also posted some pics from our recent visit with them and our trip to LaJolla.  You can find those here.

My pics are coming soon, I promise.  You’re gonna love the cute seal pictures and I have some good ones of Amy and Andrew too.

We have commitments tonight and tomorrow night, but I should get some more out over the weekend.

By the way, what’s your favorite day to read new blog posts?  I’m always hesitant to do new posts on the weekend because everyone is out and about and I’m afraid that they’ll get lost in the shuffle.  I’d love to target the best days for you, so let me know what they are.

Thanks for reading!  Hope you’re having an awesome summer!

2 Great Casual Places to Eat in Encino

A couple of weekends ago we headed over to Southern California to see Amy & Andrew and to use a hotel gift certificate that was going to expire. What a great excuse to get out of the heat!  We stayed one night in Tarzana with the kids and Saturday night we stayed a couple of hours south in LaJolla.

Because food is always a key ingredient in any trip, I thought I’d share a couple of the places that we ate.  Three of them were excellent and one was very good. It’s hard to rank them because they were all very different, so I’ll list them in the order that we ate them.  See what you think.  I’ll share two from Encino today and two in La Jolla tomorrow.

The Stand – When Terry and I were making the long drive from Phoenix, I started thinking about The Stand about 2 hours before we got there. It’s THAT good.  We went to the one in Encino, but there are a few other So Cal locations as well.  Amy & Andrew introduced us to this place a year or so ago and we have loved it every time we’ve been there.  In addition to the great food, the awesome outdoor eating area just adds to the experience.  I don’t know about you, but a breezy alfresco meal always tastes better to me somehow!

I was analyzing this cozy spot that’s right next to a very busy city street.  They’ve creatively planted trees and tall hedges to provide shade and sound proofing between the diners and the cars.  This could easily be replicated in Phoenix.  They might have to close down for a month or so in the summer. Then again, if they had misters in a shady area like this, it could be a year round venue.  Anyone willing to try it?  We’ll definitely be your regular customers!  Randy & Linda, How bout it?  You could close down in the summer and head out of town!

The Stand Encino

On this visit I tried their Chicago style hotdog with sweet potato fries.  I’ve heard so  much about it, but had never tried it.  I’m not a huge fan of the poppy seeds on the bun.  I can take or leave them. They don’t add a lot of flavor and I always worry that they’re stuck in my front teeth when I’m finished eating.  Otherwise, this was delicious!  Terry shared my fries and got a chili dog and liked it so much that he went back for another one.

Here are a couple of posts that Amy did about The Stand too, with even more photos.

Hotdog at the Stand

More Than Waffles – Encino

This is the first time we’ve been here and if I had looked at their website before we went, I probably would have ordered something different.  Not that my club sandwich wasn’t good, but some of the other breakfast items look AMAZING!  Terry got a very hearty omelette with waffles on the side. The smell of freshly made waffles is so scrumptious. He was kind enough to share a bite of his with me. Everything we had was excellent.

Amy & Andrew

What a great time to be with A & A and explore a few of their favorite spots.  They live in a great area for cute little eateries.  We love going there and trying out their discoveries.  Of course, we’d love going there no matter where they live.  It’s the people, not the place that we love the most.

Soon I’ll share about our day in La Jolla looking at the seals and sea lions.  And the little boy who needed a little bit of “mom-type” help.  It was so much fun!