Good Eats

This afternoon, Mr. Sandwich and I headed to Santa Monica for the Los Angeles BBQ Festival. The event was held in a parking lot at the base of the Santa Monica Pier. By the time we got there, three of the eight vendors were out of food–but that didn’t keep us from sampling several of the remaining options.

Two were from Missouri, and at least one of them still had food available. We decided, though, to concentrate on the local vendors so that we could go to the actual restaurants. Also, the line for the out-of-state style was incredibly long.

The weakest of the three was Baby Blues BBQ, with pork ribs. The ribs themselves were okay, but the sauce was so vinegary that it made me feel like I was on the verge of wheezing.

Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs had a fantastic beef rib and a hot link that was spicy, but not too hot. I’d definitely stop by their brick-and-mortar location for a full meal.

Our favorite was the BBQ Smoked Brick Chicken from Gus’s BBQ in South Pasadena. Flavorful, moist, tender–everything that BBQ chicken can be, and too often isn’t. We liked it so much, we went back for seconds.

Apparently when it comes to barbeque, Mr. Sandwich and I are like ravening beasts.

Thank goodness for wet towelettes.

We’re Movin’ On Up

Not to a deluxe apartment in the sky, but to a three-bedroom, 1-1/2 bath house with an actual garage. Assuming everything goes well, that is.

The home inspection went reasonably smoothly–a few things to address, but nothing insurmountable. Now there are more papers to sign, and a loan to finalize, and a tenant to . . . well, let’s say encourage to move out. So it’s not really a done deal, is it?

Potato Mania

This weekend, Mr. Sandwich and I made a trip to Salt Lake City and Idaho. Well, mostly Idaho. And considering that we flew to Utah on Saturday and came back on Monday, there really wasn’t that much of anywhere.

I can say, though, that Idaho is beautiful. We only saw the stretch along I-15 between Salt Lake City and Idaho Falls, but the mountains, valleys, and farmlands were breathtaking.

As we were driving north, we saw a billboard that said only

Then. as we approached the town of Blackfoot, we saw one of those brown highway signs that indicates a cultural or historical site. It said “Potato Museum, next exit.”

I turned to Mr. Sandwich and said, “If we have time on our way back, I totally want to stop there.”

This may seem odd, but I love potatoes. I love them so much that one year I gave them up for Lent. And it was the hardest Lenten sacrifice I ever made. I did really well right up until Thursday of Holy Week, when partway through dinner I said, “Wow. These potatoes are really good. These potatoes are. Oh. Potatoes.”

After leaving the highway, we followed additional signs and wound our way through town for a couple of miles. And then we found this:

Irresistible, no?

But perhaps you need more:

Lured in by the king of potatoes, we took the tour. It cost $2.50 each with the AAA discount, and the exhibits traced the origins and spread of potatoes (thank you, Columbian Exchange!) and presented an array of farming techniques and equipment.

On our way out, the woman at the desk said, “Oh, since you paid for the tour, you get these.” She handed us each a carton of freeze-dried Nonpareil Homestyle Hash Browns. And do you know what it says on the top of the carton?

Deep Thoughts

Tonight I was telling Mr. Sandwich how I feel like I’m caught in an endless cycle of nonstop activity. Get up, go to work where there is too much work, prepare for meetings (or actually go to them) for my alumni club, meet with the realtor, eat dinner, and go to bed so that I can sleep and start all over again. None of this is restful. Not even the sleep.

So I think I should try meditation. I have some music from Gaiam on my MP3 player, and in the past I’ve found that even a few minutes of sitting quietly can help me relax and let go of the rest of the day.

Now I just need to set aside time for meditation. And make sure that there are working batteries in the MP3 player. And find the MP3 player.

On second thought, maybe I’ll just go to bed so that I can get up and go to work.

Consumer Environmentalism

The best thing about moving to California is that Mr. Sandwich and I finally got to be in the same place. The next best thing is that I get to have coffee with my friends at least a couple of times a month, instead of a couple of times a year. Today was one of those days, so I met S for a hearty dose of caffeine. Although it’s not the most central location for us, Venice Grind has been one of our favorites since it opened a couple of years ago. They make lattes with coffee, which S likes, and with espresso, which I like (my favorite almost anywhere is a vanilla latte with skim, although I like pumpkin lattes in the fall and peppermint mochas around Christmas). Their pastries are good, too, although we didn’t have any today.

Next door is Soaptopia, my absolute favorite place to buy soap. Everything is all-natural, and their soaps have fantastic names. Anyone can sell a rose-and-vanilla soap, but only Soaptopia would call it “Rozilla vs. Dry Skinea.” Looking for sandalwood and peppermint? Maybe you’d like “Woody Wood Pepper.” Then there are “Staying A-Lime,”  “Sage Against the Machine,” and “Oatmeal and Clover Over and Over.” I also like their 50/50 body balms, which are half cream, half oil, and all moisturizing. Beyond that there are bubble baths, salt scrubs, loofahs, lip balms, and a host of other products.

S had other plans, so I went off to explore a store I’d read about on the greenlagirl blog. Siel writes about a wide range of topics dealing with environmental living in an urban setting, and recently she posted about The Green Life, a new store on Main Street in Santa Monica. The store has a nice selection of books, kitchen utensils and cleaning supplies, bath and bed linens, beauty items, and even chocolates. (For photos, visit the greenlagirl post that brought me to the store.)

Okay, the nail polish I bought afterward wasn’t even remotely green. Nobody’s perfect.

A Wonderful Weekend

Saturday morning I ran a bunch of errands. On my way home, I passed Mr. Sandwich on his way out for a long ride. I continued home and lounged around on the bed reading magazines (normally I lounge around on the couch to read magazines, but the carpet was still drying, and the couch had some extra stacks of things to be sorted, with nowhere else for them to go). Mr. Sandwich came back, and we headed up to Santa Clarita for dinner with friends. They grilled steaks and tater tots, and I made a tomato-avocado salad and roasted asparagus. After dinner we played board games and stayed up much too late talking.

On Sunday, we went to the real estate office and signed still more papers to raise our offer. After looking at (and eliminating) a few more houses, Mr. Sandwich and I decided that we couldn’t waste such an unusually clear summer day. We went on a long drive through Malibu, and then across town and along the spine of Mullholland Drive. The views into the valley were stunning (see earlier post for shaky video). And it was the perfect end to the weekend.

“The Worst Bathroom Plumbing Disaster You Can Imagine”

That’s how Mr. Sandwich refers to Friday’s multiple-appliance backup and overflow. And because of how nasty it was, and how well he handled it, from now on this blog will refer to J as Mr. Sandwich. He deserves that respect.

I missed most of it, because I get up and go to work earlier than he does. So Friday morning I was at work when I got a call from Mr. Sandwich. Over the course of the day, and several phone calls back and forth, it became clear that drastic action was needed. He wasn’t able to snake the drains, and neither was the drain specialist, because all of the access points were closed so tight that they had frozen in place.

While waiting for the regular plumber, Mr. Sandwich continued to wrench on one of the access points–until the u-joint broke, sending foul water flooding through the outside laundry room. On the other hand, it stopped backing up through our tub.

The plumbers crawled under the building, cutting and replacing pipe, which was the only way to get rid of the clog. Then the steam cleaner guy came in and cleaned the carpet and bathroom floor. I came home at the end of the day and did a much more thorough job on the bathroom floor and tub, because I was pretty sure that it needed the three-part process of all-purpose cleaner, bleach, and rinsing (BTW, I was right). Then it was on to the kitchen floor, because everyone came in and out through there.

We’re all clean now.

During the afternoon, I got a call from our realtor, saying that they had heard from the seller’s agent. Apparently the bank had decided to approve the short sale, and determined that they would accept an offer of $7000 more than our most recent offer. Our agent said, “If my clients do this, will they get the house?” The answer was yes, but all three of us have a we’ll-believe-it-when-we-see-it mentality at this point. So in between cleaning stages, we faxed over a letter stating our intent to offer more.

Lots of ups and downs. But at least the bathroom is no longer a hazardous waste site, and we have some new pipes.

San Fernando Valley

Lots to blog about, but not tonight–I’m just too tired. However, here’s a short video I took during this evening’s drive along Mulholland Drive. We stopped at one of the overlooks (technically across the road from an overlook, requiring much attention and running) to see the lights in the San Fernando Valley.

Yes, I Actually Cooked Dinner

And mostly from scratch! I made roasted chicken drumsticks, cheesy green beans, saffron rice (from a mix), and beans (from a can, for J).

It was pretty easy, on the whole, and that makes me wonder why I don’t do this more often. However, as I look into the kitchen, I’m reminded of why. No counter space, no dishwasher. Which means that the sink and the drainer are full, and neither will stand empty for quite some time.

But the fun doesn’t stop with dinner; there are leftovers of chicken and saffron rice, so I have lunch for tomorrow. I really liked the saffron rice–it was delicious and salty. And if you’ve noticed a recurrence of praise for salty food in this blog, it’s because I love salt. I mean, I really love salt. I’ll eat it straight. I could be the incredible salt vampire from the original Star Trek series (“The Man Trap”–first regular episode aired, sixth filmed. Have I mentioned that I am a total nerd? A salt-loving nerd.)