Thursday, August 15, 2013

Livin’ the Real Life at the OC Fair

It’s been quiet here on the blog because we’ve been spending lots of time at the OC Fair. Earlier this summer we were asked to be part of the Orange County Fair’s Culinary Art exhibit. Remember last year when I raved about the “There’s No Place Like Home” exhibit building? That’s where we were invited to display our designs! This year’s theme was “Get Real” which included DIY as it relates to food. Since expanding The Sunshine Grove to include Sustainable Sam’s wood planters and gardening consultation it was a perfect event for us to join.
Sustainable Sam and the Sunshine Grove at the OC Fair

We were given our own corner of the OC Promenade with a rustic corrugated metal background and the freedom to build our own display. We’d never built a permanent display, let alone one with so much room. We loved how our wood designs popped off the metal background and we added splashes of color by displaying vintage linens and house ware items from the shop. The biggest challenge was getting  visitors to come into our booth which we solved by pulling our display table out of the booth while we were there to greet fair goers.

After having read Palisades Park I was excited to experience the behind the scene and building of the fair. Nothing was more exciting than to see how the fair came to life so quickly. During the 3 days it took us to set our display up, we saw so much more arriving and being built. Many of the food concessionaires arrived first and then the rides and games were built up around them.

Our first day was a whirlwind because the first hour is free admission on opening day. Last year we were fair goers and took advantage of the free entrance. It was a totally different experience being an exhibitor. Arriving early, making sure everything was in its place and then waiting for the wave of people was exciting. We loved getting to talk to people about gardening, especially those who are already passionate about growing edible gardens. The big conversation piece in our booth was actually a patty pan squash plant that we grew in a grain bag. Since we needed a way to grow, transport and then display the squash for 5 weeks, the grain bag was a wonderful solution, but it also amazed many people that it could be used as a container for gardening.  

Sustainable Sam and the Sunshine Grove at the OC Fair
The Culinary Arts building had a stage for presentations and culinary judging as well as a Make Shop and Show and Tell area. Jeremy braved the stage opening weekend with his DIY Pallet to Planter demo, and hosted a plant your own string beans workshop at the Make Shop. Our friends from TheMakery and Creative Outlet Studio had fun crafts at the Make Shop as well. Since the Show and Tell area was just across from our display I had the opportunity to learn preserving and canning techniques from Master Food Preservers ChefRenee Fontes and Chef Earnest Miller. I even got to take home some grape jelly from Chef Renee which was delicious. 

Sustainable Sam and the Sunshine Grove at the OC Fair
Did we mention our ribbons?

Don’t worry; I made time to visit the Alaskan Pig Races, as well as the newborn piglets at Centennial Farms. As always visiting the animals was high on my to-do list, especially the angora goats – my personal favorite! We also made sure to participate in Anaheim Day by wearing shirts showing off our city pride. I should also add that we were on our best behavior when it came to the notorious food, though we did enjoy petite funnel cakes during the one of the Friday “Taste of the Fair” events and giant corn dogs on the final day.

As fast as it was set up, the fair was torn down. Three days after the final day the grounds are almost empty again, as if nothing happened. As we drove away with the last pieces of our display yesterday we said goodbye to the fair and can only cross our fingers that we are invited to participate again next year. A big thank you goes out to Chef Renee Fontes along with the rest of the Culinary Arts staff, all of whom were amazing and helpful.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Victory Book Club: Over the Top by Arthur Guy Empey, 1917

During our Christmas vacation in Maine, we hit up a few antique malls for things that only the East Coast can provide. Though I didn't have a whole lot of luck overall, I did leave the state with a book, Over the Top. Written by Arthur Guy Empey, an American that enlisted with the British army during World War I, Over the Top provides a first hand account of trench warfare as a Yankee fighting side by side with British 'Tommies'. Some reviews call it propaganda, though I think that classification was inspired more by how the book was used to recruit more soldiers than the original intent of the author.

Frustrated by America's inaction after the sinking of the Lusitania, Sergeant Empey goes to England in order to answer the call to war which America had not yet agreed to. His approach to sharing the trials and atrocities of trench warfare is blunt and matter of fact, yet with a certain lighthearted delivery which comes across as the attitude required to keep from losing all hope in horrible circumstances. From the frankness of the British Quartermaster issuing him his equipment to the almost flippant way of referring to all the ways that a Tommy could get killed or injured by 'Fritz', their German counterparts in this struggle, Empey paints a vivid and very real picture of what a trench soldier's life was all about.

Some of the book gets pretty grim and at some points almost unbelievable, yet at no time did I feel that Empey was exaggerating the facts of his war. The struggle he and his fellow soldiers endured was honestly shared with an openess I assume comes from being witness to such atrocities without going insane.

Not only do I have a new perspective of how people are able to deal with violence and fear, but also how they have the will to do what they believe is right regardless of the possible consequences. Though Over the Top is almost 100 years old, it can still teach a lesson about the human spirit.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Anaheim Landing: Our Very Own Water Front Beach

In the late 1800s Anaheim farmers went looking for a harbor to import and export supplies and goods as their little city was growing. They first chose Alamitos Bay, which at the time was a part of Long Beach, but it was soon washed out after a flood. Heading East to find a suitable replacement port, they found a bay right on the beach where they could send out small boats to trade cargo from larger ships. They named it Anaheim Landing.

Anaheim Landing panorama 1800s, Anaheim Landing view from the water and Anaheim Landing bathers 1888. Courtesy Anaheim Public Library.

Only 12 miles from Anaheim, the Landing didn’t just succeed as a shipping port, but also provided a vacation place for Anaheimers who wanted to bathe in the sea and enjoy the salty air. Though the Southern Pacific Railway eventually replaced Anaheim Landing’s use as a shipping port, it stayed alive by focusing on the recreational aspects. The large shipping warehouse was turned into a bathhouse which eventually housed a general store and changing area. A wooden pier was built with a boardwalk around it that included a rollercoaster, dance floor and other attractions. Some amazing photos can be found in “Images of America Seal Beach” by Laura L. Alioto.

Group of swimmers in the 1920s (the man in the middle bottom is wearing an Anaheim Landing shirt), Courtesy of Seal Beach Founders Committee, Swimmers near the bathhouse and boat landing early 1900s, Courtesy of UC Irvine Special Collections, Screen Beauties Bather’s Parade in front of the Anaheim Landing Bowling Alley 1917, Courtesy of Seal Beach Founders Committee.

In 1915 Anaheim Landing was incorporated into Orange County as the city of Seal Beach with little traces of ever having been a shipping port for Anaheim. During World War II the Navy returned the bay to it's shipping roots, loading and storing munitions for the war effort in the Pacific. These days Anaheim Bay is part of the active Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, with the marsh lands protected as a National Wildlife Refuge. The City of Seal Beach is now a small beach town with a selection of restaurants and shops on Main Street and a Ruby’s diner at the end of the wood pier. It now reflects more of a sleepy and relaxing beach town than the swinging boardwalk it once was.

Seal Beach today
 Source: "A Story of Seal Beach" by Jean B. Dorr

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Place I Live: The Islands Golf Center

You can’t even imagine my excitement at finally getting to hit some balls at The Island Golf Center in Anaheim. After passing by the driving range several times I had a feeling it would be fun, but had no idea how much fun until I was actually there. I’m no serious golfer, so if you are, take this all with a grain of salt.

At The Islands driving range, golfers tee off a ridge above the range which isn’t a typical range at all, but part of the Orange County reservoir system off of the Santa Ana River. That’s right; you are hitting balls into a 10 acre lake filled with manmade islands and boats which are obviously perfect targets to hit.

Since we were in the middle of our bike ride of the Anaheim Coves we took our large basket of balls, loaner clubs and bikes down to the middle of the golfing platforms and went to work. I was a little rusty since I don’t think I’ve been to a golfing range in about a year. Maybe longer.

I used to accompany my dad to the golfing range growing up and for me the best part about the range was seeing how far I could hit the ball. At traditional golfing ranges your ball gets lost sometimes and you don’t quite see where it lands on the grass. It is totally the opposite when you are hitting into water! Seeing the splash when the ball hits the water is fantastic. Even better is trying to land the ball on one of the floating islands or inside one of the boats.

The golf balls are pretty neat. They are called Floaties and are buoyant so that they can be recovered by the Island’s recovery boat. According to the pros Floaties don’t have the distance of traditional golf balls, but who cares when you are having so much fun. Did I mention our visit was on a Saturday afternoon and it wasn’t too crowded? Perfect!

If you need the perfect blend of serious golfing and miniature golfing silliness, The Islands is the place to be.


Monday, June 24, 2013

So Happy at Craft Happy Retreat

I am exhausted and all crafted out! I am writing this Sunday night after spending the day learning new crafting techniques at Craft HappyRetreat. Lisa Cherry, owner of The Makery, is the brain child behind the day retreat and gathered some pretty talented instructors to show how it’s done. I had entered a giveaway for tickets to the retreat and was so excited to find out that I had won. With my sister Stacie in tow, we headed to Community to get crafty!

After coffee and donuts for breakfast – my favorite – and a little mingling we headed over to our first workshop: Art Journal Making. The class was taught by Rachel Hillberg who I had recently met at a crafting event at Look in Anaheim. We had also connected and collaged just last Thursday at the OC Etsy Craft Party. We got the 101 on bookbinding from scratch, with basic materials like paper and wax string. Rachel also talked about how to fill our new journals with art using different mixed media techniques. Busting out stamps, markers, crayons, scissors and colorful paper, we went to town on brightening some pages. Rachel left us with some prompts to continue our art journaling experience, and I left really needing to buy this awesome jar stamp she had for us to use. I hear she teaches a bookbinding class that teaches how to make some awesome leather journals…

During our first break we headed over to A Little Known Shop’s make and take station where we got to screen print an ampersand onto vintage book pages. During lunch we returned to screen print the cutest little red fox. Note: My Papillon Oliver looks like a fox and I am without question his human. As a joke (because it is funny at least to me) I screen printed my red fox on a page that talks about marriage.
Leaving our screen print art to dry, we went to learn about block printmaking with Morgan Culture. Morgan showed what legit printmaking is all about and now I know what a brayer is. After demonstrating how to properly carve and ink on linoleum block, she described the modifications we would need to make for our block printmaking while using potatoes on fabric. I’ve heard of potato printmaking before but had never actually tried it, so I was pretty excited. She had a variety of potato sizes to choose from and I decided to go big. I wanted to print my tote bag with a bow and dog pattern and set about cutting out the negative. It was a bit easier than I had expected, and was also able to try out my design on paper before committing to my tote. While testing my design someone commented that they liked my dog design so it wasn’t that bad! I finished my dog and bow pattern and even borrowed my neighbor’s heart design to add a little flair at the top of my bag. Stacie’s bag turned out bad ass. She printed the planets in our solar system and it looked amazing.

Reaching the halfway point to our day we were getting a bit hungry and could smell deliciousness from our designated eating area. Catered by The Lime Truck, they offered a Crav On French Fry bar with delicious pulled pork and steak toppings. I’ll be honest, I was a little hesitant on loving the French Fry lunch option until I tried it. The pulled pork was delish and the steak was amazing. The chipotle honey sauce was really tasty too. As a side we got a bag of Lundberg Farms sea salt rice chips – yum.
We were ready for something sweet and headed over for a cupcake decorating lesson with pastry Chef Nika Yazdani. Nika demonstrating butter cream and fondant techniques that were actually much easier than I thought they’d be to do. Stacie is a big fan of baking and can get very creative when it comes to fondant so it is no surprised that she made a cupcake covered in yellow fondant (table cloth) and covered it with mini fruits, veggies and a turkey leg. She was called a liar after having said earlier in the day that she wasn’t very crafty. Nika was generous enough to send us home with our very own piping tip so we can continue our decorating.

Stacie and I headed to our final workshop, beginner’s letterpress. Lauren Macaluso from Creative Outlet Studios showed us a diagram of what parts make up the letterpress and how to properly ink it. Stacie and I had made gift tags on the letterpress last Thursday, but it was great to hear more in depth about the machine. We each letterpressed 5 thank you cards and got to see how the machine worked first hand. One of the most interesting facts was how the machine had to be tuned correctly to get an even print. I like that each card I pressed is different due to the antique mechanisms of the trade. It makes for a real unique print.

Thank you to the wonderful instructors I met today and big THANK YOU to Lisa for organizing such an awesome craft day!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Victory Book Club: Palisades Park by Alan Brennert, 2013

 The smell of waffles, fries and cotton candy! The taste of the salt from the swimming pool and wind in your hair! Day or night, Palisades Park is lit up and just the place to be every summer.
For the Stopka family, the park is their home from opening day until the last days of summer. Eddie and Adele each love the park for their own reasons, and fall in love while working concession booths across the Midway from one another. Marrying on the park’s carrousel, it is no surprise that their children Antoinette “Toni” and Jack grow up enjoying the park just as much.
The story revolves around Palisades Park during the Depression, World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Historical plights like racism are touched on, as well as mobsters that buy out the police and other officials.
The heart of the story is the Stopkas and their dreams that are lit by the lights of Palisades Park. For Eddie it is having a family of his own while providing for them and Adele yearns for the spotlight just like when she was a childhood actress. Toni spends her time at the Palisades Pool and hopes to witness a dive one day from the top, not just as a spectator. Pen in hand, her younger brother Jack draws the superheroes that once comforted him during WWII radio shows.
The carneys and travelling acts the family meets every summer add to the variety of characters at Palisades Park, and some even become an extended family. These colorful acts sometimes  support the Stopkas, but also add to the trials and difficulties the family goes through to reach their own dreams.
The novel is a great piece of historical fiction. Palisades Park was a real place that East Coasters spent their summers at up until the 1970s, and I don’t doubt that a family like the Stopkas were a part of the park’s history. If you need a little something to gear you up for summer fun in the sun, this one is it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Place I Live: Anaheim Coves

Remember last year when I wanted a bike for my birthday? Well, I got my bike, I just didn’t ride it as much as I thought I would. Last weekend the skies were blue with scattered clouds and the weather perfect for a bike ride. I’ve been wanting to take a ride at the Anaheim Coves along the Burris Basin of the Santa Ana River. I managed to talk Jeremy into tossing the bikes in the back of the truck and heading to the river.

I discovered Anaheim Coves through the Anaheim Colony Bike Group and the Anaheim Historical Society’s post about visiting the Coves. The 1.5 mile multi-use trail is surrounded by native plants, benches and signs showing the history of the basin including water usage, birds and plants. These themes are incorporated into metal fences around the basin, protecting the water from contamination. The Burris Basin is a ground water recharging station and a wildlife habitat area. There is a man-made floating island for the birds that feed off the fish in the basin and was placed in the water to encourage nesting.

We started our bike ride at the Lincoln end of the trail. We drove past the small parking lot since it is a bit hidden. After turning around and parking we unloaded the bikes and headed to the trail. We had to stop to put some air in my bike tires which gave us the opportunity to read the first historical sign. It showed how Anaheim settlers chose their home by the river to water their grape vines and then later Valencia oranges and walnut trees.

It was a quiet day on the trails with a few runners and locals walking their dogs so we were able to take our time taking in the view and reading about the history of the river and the basin. Before I knew it we were at the other end of the trail on Ball Road where we took an intermission. Heading back up the trail we stopped for a picnic lunch and then made our way off the Coves trail to the Santa Ana Riverbed Trail. We didn’t go too far, but it was the first time I had seen that part of the River that close. There was actually quite a bit of water and vegetation in the river that you don’t see when driving on the over passes and looking down.

Stay tuned next week for Aloha Golf – the intermission to my Anaheim Coves bike ride.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Oh, Say It Is Flag Day

Last week my dad went out to the flag pole in the front yard and brought the flag down after noticing some fraying on the edges. He asked me if I would hem the flag for him so he could put it back up. I questioned whether this was allowed. He also pointed out that he had about 12 flags that due to age were ready to retire. Maybe flag etiquette was covered in US history years ago, but none of us could remember the proper way to retire a flag and if altering it for repairs was allowed. Not wanting to disrespect the flat we decided some investigation was in order.

It turns out that the there is a Federal Flag Code which provides guidelines on how to properly displaly the flag. The Flag Code was approved by President Franklin D. Rooselvelt in 1942 and is mainly for civilian use.

There are lots of do’s and don’ts when it comes to flying the flag. Section 6 of the Flag Code states that the flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset. It can remain on display for 24 hours if it is properly illuminated in the dark. On Memorial Day the flag should be flown at half staff until noon and then raised to full staff for the rest of the day. The flag should never be flown during inclement weather.

The Flag Code didn’t address repairs to the flag however the proportion of the flag should remain “that the length of the flag should be 1.9 times the width.” I think I’ll play it safe and recommend that dad buys an all weather flag next time, and we’ll retire this one.


Since we were still wondering about the proper way to retire the US flag, I turned to the Anaheim Flag Day celebration for more information. I spoke with Anaheim Boy Scoutmaster Creg who described the flag retirement ceremony as a way to “pay last respects to a flag that has served a purpose.” The ceremony can last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes depending on the type of ceremony.

Creg described that most retirement ceremonies are spoken from the heart and include these steps:

“For us it is to present the flag to the audience one last time by opening it up. We say the pledge of allegiance followed by cutting off the 2 corners with the eyelets and presenting them to a dignitary or the one who supplied the flag. This is where it can start to run short or long, but for [a short] ceremony we would start by placing the red and white short side edge of the flag into the flames and finish placement with the blue field last. If this was the long version we would cut the red and white stripes one at a time and mention a famous war location related to the wars we fought in or just might mention the original colonies before we go into placing the blue field and stars into the flames. Flag retirements are always different; it could be for veterans or simple general public.”

The most common organizations that retire the flag are the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the AmericanLegions. Since we don’t have a place for a flag retirement ceremony we are going to hold onto our flags until we hear of a general public ceremony so we can pay our respects to the flag.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Introducing Sustainable Sam

The Sunshine Grove is pleased to introduce Sustainable Sam. You’ve all known Jeremy as the other half of The Sunshine Grove, the woodworker and gardener of our duo. He is now offering those services to you too. “Sam” will be offering garden and irrigation consultations and edible garden designs for gardeners of all levels of expertise. Got the knowledge but not the place for your garden? Sam can help with custom planters and wood working designs for any space; inside or out.

We will be offering wood pallet to planter demonstrations at 3 different events this summer so grab your gardening hat and gloves and come join us. Join Sustainable Sam on Facebook and visit Sam's website for more details on services.

Check out our upcoming events below.

Farm Folk Festival
Pallet Planter Demo
June 29, 2013
2:30 PM
Visit our booth
1 to 7 PM
400 S. Anaheim Blvd
Anaheim, CA

Habitat for Humanity Restore - Santa Ana
Pallet Planter Demo
July 7, 2013
1 to 3 PM
1400 S Village Way
Santa Ana, CA

Orange County Fair
Pallet Planter Demo
July 13, 2013
5 PM
Visit our booth
July 12 to August 11
OC Fair Grounds
Culinary Building

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It's Hot, Let's Wish For Summery Things!

This is the first week I’ve spent in shorts which means it’s just going to get hotter! I'm ready for some beach time and something cute for play time. I even found a great outfit for my brother-in-law's August wedding. Now for some summer eye candy!

My Sugar Doll AMOUR Halter Bikini Top, Claude Donoho Shop 80s Etienne Aigner Straw Bag, Daisy Chain Gang Vintage Peacock Shoes, My Sugar Doll CUPCAKE Bikini Bottoms

Mary Beth Hale Red and Yellow Bakelite Bangles, The Perf Sandal Cherry Red via Mod Cloth, Jibri Online Tropicana Bustier and High Waist Pencil Skirt 

Cherise Design Vintage Style Cotton Dress, Miss L Fire Flora, Vintage on Hudson Vintage Canvas Clutch

***These aren't affiliantes, just things I love!***